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“No rest for the wicked.”
Toni hissed the moment her eyes ran through the number of unread emails she had waiting. A yawn followed. She stretched out on her chair. Her mind told her she needed a burst of energy from a cup of coffee, but the pack of cigarettes on her desk looked more appealing.
She drew out a single stick after taking off her glasses. There was short contemplation on whether to go ahead with it or not. She was trying to quit, but so far, nothing worked.
Someone had suggested pregnancy and motherhood. She had laughed.
“I’ll probably roll over the baby at night or drown it in a bathtub if it disturbs my beauty sleep.”
She hadn’t been joking. She once locked a neighbor’s three year old in her closet for an hour because the boy peed on her Fendi handbag, which had cost quite a fortune. Up until the present, his mother was holding a grudge.
Toni picked a gold-plated lighter from her desk and lit the menthol cigarette she now had between her lips. Company policy did not permit cigarette breaks in the office during work hours, but it was a day before Christmas and many of the staff, including two of the CEOs, were absent. Plus, it was a half-work day.
She sat without distraction for the first half of her smoke before deciding to attend to her emails. She wore her glasses again, pulling her laptop closer. Most of what she found in her inbox was work-related. The others were from fans of High Mistress, her alias who ran a scandalous blog, stealherman.com that tutored single women in the art of mistressing.
Being the boss at the PR wing of Covet Advertising Agency made it difficult for Toni to lead an outrageous life, yet somehow, she did. It was strange how no one was aware that she was a skilled mistress and the brain behind stealherman.com. It was something she did for fun. To her, there was nothing wrong in stealing a man that wanted to be stolen. One only needed the right mindset to pull it off and earn top dollar while at it.
Toni was all too happy to help clueless girls. She gave free tips and information on how to have mindless sex without feelings, and to walk away from a man while the passion still burned. Break his heart before he breaks yours was the tagline for her blog. According to her, men belonged to no one. Since nature, religion and African tradition had made them polygamous, they belonged to every woman and as such, ought to be treated like objects for public use. In a nutshell, men were sluts and were solely there for entertainment and financial purposes.
High Mistress had been called all sorts of names for her ideals, but she would always tell her critics and haters, ‘I’m too high to give a fuck’. If Nigeria’s religious background was anything to go by, her blog would have been shut down a long time ago due to abandonment, but the daily stats proved otherwise. On the average, she got over a hundred thousand views a day. On high traffic days, the stats doubled. She was definitely saying what a lot of people wanted to hear.
But she hadn’t always been this person. A man had broken her heart, chosen his sidechick over her after four years of what she thought was a wonderful relationship. Toni nearly lost her mind at the betrayal and became obese from comfort eating. But time healed her. She came out stronger. She ditched her heart and morals, did a liposuction and a butt augmentation from the fat she sucked out of her tummy; and lastly, went through an expensive routine to lighten her skin. From then on, she hunted for other people’s husbands and slept with them. The extremely rich ones. She picked her men; they didn’t pick her. She enjoyed making them potty in her hands, and then, she would drain them of financial resources and dump them while things were still on a high.
Toni enjoyed calling herself a feminist ─ the irrational type that didn’t play by the rules. She necessarily didn’t give a damn about women emancipation or what anyone thought about her. In fact, these days she was nursing ideas of exposing her dark side to the public. It could cost her job, but truth was she was tired of people taking her for granted.
For instance, one of her bosses, Izu. He was best described as an asshole of assholes. She hated him.
First, he tried to get in her pants just because he felt entitled. When that didn’t work, he started to make gauche comments at her. When that didn’t work either, he moved on to scrutinizing every detail of her job, but he found no holes. Eventually, a dissatisfied customer gave him his moment of clout. The customer had paid to have them hype his movie online, giving specific details about the time he wanted the buzz to break the internet. However, one of the top bloggers, always known for her insatiable desire to break news first, went ahead and released details of the movie on the night before, ruining scheduled plans. This threw Toni into creating the hype at midnight while sprawled beside some oil rich executive in a hotel room somewhere in the UAE. She sent emails and made phone calls to her subordinates and bloggers, keeping vigil until she was certain she had straightened out every curve. The pat on the back she got the next day was a nasty email from Izu, which had her abandoning her rendezvous and flying back home to his wrath. And as he screamed down the office building, she stood staring at him, knowing how easily she could make it all go away with just a hand down his pants.
But Toni wasn’t going to give him that privilege. Sometimes men didn’t need sex to fix the tousled brain between their legs. They needed emasculation. It always killed the urge.
“Are you done?” were the exact words she uttered when he was finished. The question merely added fuel to the inferno.
“You dare address me in that manner, you dirty slut?!”
Toni’s shaded brows tipped a little and let down. Slinky eyes arrested his in a stare that held an unvoiced meaning. He alone knew what she did in her extra hours, having caught her on a couple of occasions in awkward places. And it was why she guessed he felt it was his right to demand his own share of her.
“Consider yourself fired, Antonia! Get out of my office!”
She didn’t miss a breath as she spun around and sauntered out. The door closed with a soft clunk. She smiled. Crushing a man was sometimes better than an orgasm.
The days flipped over like a series of tasteless chapters in a story. Toni didn’t get fired. The other bosses who found her presence in the company invaluable retained her, demanding she apologized to Izu in person.
She didn’t. No one bothered her after that, and Izu resumed his wantonness. She had no intentions of indulging him.
Toni gave her laptop her attention again and read out the first email from a blog follower.
Dear High Mistress,
Please help! My boyfriend of three years is yet to propose to me. I’m tired of hinting that I’m ready to walk down the aisle. You know how it is with us ladies and our biological ticking clocks. Everyone around me is getting married and I keep playing the bridesmaid role. I feel people are beginning to gossip about me still being single. My best friend says I should dump him and move on but I really, really love him and I can’t see myself starting all over again. I’m in my late twenties and desperate. Please tell me what to do to get him to pop the question fast.
Thanks in advance…
Instant annoyance filled Toni. She despised this type of girls. Didn’t they have any sense of self? Must they find fulfillment in men?
She clicked on the reply button and typed out the first word, but got interrupted by the sound of her ringing phone. She took it out from her handbag. She didn’t know who was calling, but she answered.
Her face squeezed into a frown. “What do you want, Sylvester?”
Sylvester was the man she was seeing currently. He was an importer, owning a couple of ships that brought goods from Asia and Europe.
“You have refused to take my calls.”
“And so you use an unknown number to call me.”
“How are you, baby?”
“What do you want Sly?” she repeated.
“You. Back in my arms. Sprawled on my bed…”
“So that you’ll rape me again.”
Sylvester laughed. He had a baritone. She loved hearing him over the phone.
“I didn’t rape you, Toni. For how long have you had your vagina? You’d know if something went into it, wouldn’t you?”
“No. All I remember was you gave me a drink and I passed out. I woke up almost twenty-four hours later with no recollection of what I did the night before.”
“I didn’t rape you, Toni. You know sex is not my thing.”
Yeah, she found that bit about him weird. They had been seeing each other for two months and he was yet to sleep with her. All they did was talk over food and wine. Yet after each night spent with him, she received money into her account. They had shared a steamy kiss once, but that was all she got. She had no idea if he was gay or impotent. He was a strange one.
“So do you wanna come over tonight? I have this vintage bottle of…”
“I’m not interested, Sly. We’re over.”
“You’re breaking my heart.”
“You don’t have a heart and until you are ready to explain to me what you did to me that night, please stop calling me.”
She ended the call and stored the number under his contact.
Her door burst open. “Abeg, let me use your toilet!”
Her friend, Leticia, ran in and scuttled across the office, dressed in stilettos and a short, body-hugging gown.
“Do you have wipes?” Leticia asked.
“No but there’s tissue there.”
Toni took a peep and found that Leticia was already pulling out a long roll tissue paper. Next, she watched her spread open her legs to wipe her lady parts, which Toni was sure had no underwear. Toni placed her cigarette in an ashtray and stood up. She leaned on her desk.
“Please, tell me Izu didn’t just smash you in his office right now, Tisha.”
Leticia looked up with a full smile. “Bent me over, smacked my ass and gave me the whole eight inches.”
Toni expressed disgust. “You’re a hoe.”
“Na today?” Leticia laughed. “But you know I’ve been eyeing him for a long time.”
“And you didn’t use a condom?!”
“It broke. Well, why wouldn’t it when he’s hung like a horse?”
She dumped the mass of used tissue in a bin and went for more.
“I entered his office to hand over some documents he told me to work on. And he said, ‘shut the door, Tish.’ And I did. So he walked over to me, grabbed my ass and…”
Toni stopped her. “He will fire you. You know that, right?”
“That’s what he does. He fucks you and starts to look for reasons to fire you. You are not the first, Tisha. I thought you were smarter than this.”
“He promised me that he wouldn’t. He wants us to have a thing.”
“You’re just stupid. Sometimes you act like a fool.”
Toni meant her words. Leticia was a brainless slut. The only reason she put up with her was because she was one of the closest things she had to a genuine friend. The others were either married or desperate to be, hanging onto men for their wellbeing. Leticia couldn’t stay faithful to a man even if she wanted to. She often got wet just at the thought of having sex with a random stranger. This happened at least five to seven times a day, and God bless any man she came across during her ‘moments’. Her fiancé who lived and worked abroad had no idea other men were helping him oil his goods──men like Izu whom Toni wanted stick a knife into.
She took her seat and discovered her cigarette had burned out. She thought about lighting another but changed her mind.
“Did you know Ms. Christie had an accident yesterday?” Leticia asked.
“For real? What happened?”
“Bike o! She and Mr. Raji had a meeting with those white guys from Europe… Meanwhile, one of them looks like one of the Hemsworth brothers. So cute!”
Toni pushed down her glasses a little to give her a look.
“Anyways, Ms. Christie was running late for the meeting. You know a tanker fell and blocked the whole of Ligali yesterday.”
“So she ditched her car and decided to take a bike and that was how a jeep hit them and she broke her ankle and in short, injured the whole of her right leg.”
Toni felt a little sad at the news. Christie was the nicest person she had ever met, a woman she sometimes wished she was.
“Mr. Raji has been taking care of her.”
Raji was another cool guy. Both he and Christie were the brains behind Covet Advertising Agency. Izu, their partner was only there to see to the management of the company ─ and to screw all the girls working there. Very soon he was going to bring everyone’s hard work to ruin with his penis.
“We should pay Ms. Christie a visit after Christmas.” Leticia stepped out of the restroom and stood before Toni’s desk.
“Yeah, we should.”
“Too bad her hot husband won’t be there.”
Toni smirked. Afolarin was not hot in her opinion. Just built and covered in tattoos. A total contrast to Christie who was religious, understated and naturally beautiful.
“We’ll buy her wine,” Leticia suggested. “Do you know if she drinks alcohol?”
“Tisha, we’ll get her fruits. That’s what you give people who are recuperating from something. Lots of oranges and pineapples.”
Someone knocked on the door.
“Come in!” Leticia piped.
The door opened and a stranger walked in that instantly had Leticia’s jaw in a literal drop to the floor. The man was a perfect picture of tall, dark and handsome, but in quick assessment Toni gathered that he was not financially endowed. Just some broke delivery guy who had a package for her.
“Good morning. I have a delivery for Antonia Braithwaite.”
Toni was impressed at the way he called her surname with ease. People usually fumbled with the pronunciation.
“Bring it over.”
The guy ambled over to her desk with a black gift bag, which he passed to her. Leticia took a peep in and picked out a dress and a pair of shoes. She went cross-eyed.
“Oooh! Marc Jacobs!”
“Who’s it from?” Toni asked.
Leticia pulled out a card. “From S.” She looked at Toni. “It says: Dinner by eight.”
“Please ma’am, sign here.”
The delivery guy handed over a piece of paper and a pen. Toni put down her signature and just as she was passing the pen back, Leticia asked him what his name was.
“Andre,” he replied. Leticia turned her face away from him, gave Toni a secret grin, then mouthed ‘hot!’
She faced him again. “Andre ke. What part of Nigeria bears Andre?”
“I am not Nigerian. I’m from Cote d’Ivoire.”
“Oh,” both ladies uttered.
“So you speak French?” Leticia began playing with her hair in flirtation.
“How long have you been in Nigeria?”
“More than ten years.”
“You speak any Nigerian language?”
“I see.” Leticia’s eyes ran up and down his frame. “So if I want you to deliver something to someone for me, is it possible to ring you up personally?”
Toni found a bit of a frown beneath his puzzled expression.
“I meant are your services solely for the company? Don’t you do side jobs?”
“No.” His reply was brisk.
“You may leave, Andre,” Toni told him with a smile.
“Thank you, ma’am.”
He turned back to the door and left the office. Leticia leaned over the table.
“Is he hawt or what!”
Toni ignored her and concentrated on the gifts from Sylvester.
“I don’t understand this man. He gets me a ‘fuck me’ dress and wouldn’t even kiss me. What does he want?”
Leticia had not heard. She held a dreamy look on her face. “Andre. Dre for short… Doctor Dre… You think he talks dirty in French?”
“I think you shouldn’t go near him, Tisha. Broke guys are the equivalent to emotionally-needy women. They have their male ego stamped all over their empty pockets.”
“But he’s fine! Did you see his hair and all that chocolaty goodness that can put Djimon Honsou to shame?”
Toni rolled her eyes. “Oya be going home, madam. Go and wash off Izu from between your legs and watch a movie or something. And don’t forget to take a contraceptive.”
Leticia straightened up, but leaned over the table to give Toni a peck on her forehead. Toni wiped the spot. She didn’t know why Leticia always did that. Somewhere beneath her slutty ways lay a generous heart that loved without condition and wanted to be loved back the same way. Toni found it annoying that her fiancé didn’t have time for her.
“See you tomorrow.” Leticia threw a salute and hurried out.
Toni went back to work, tapping her laptop screen awake. But she was interrupted by another call. Like before, this number wasn’t stored in her contacts. She concluded it was Sylvester calling again.
She answered and the first thing she heard was a long sentence uttered in French. She recognized the voice as belonging to the Cote Ivorian guy. He seemed to be speaking to someone else.
How did he get her number?
“Hello?” she called and next thing she heard was “shit!”
The line went dead.
“Okay,” she said to herself, putting the phone down.
Something told her he would call again. So, she went back to her email, typing out a reply to her fan.
Dear late twenties, perpetual girlfriend, desperate to get married and really, really in love… Otherwise known as G,
Your email got me in a bad mood, hence the quick reply. I don’t understand why ladies these days are desperate to get married. As in, have quality men finished in the market? Why do you babes keep selling yourself cheap? So your guy decides to keep fooling you for three years and you’re here asking me how to help you get him to pop the question fast?
Babe, the coffee is burning and it stinks bad. Wake up from your eternal girlfriend zone and smell it! If he is not hinting at marriage at all, he probably is not even interested in making you a wife in the first place. I suspect you are living with him, cooking, washing and giving him box in hopes that the arrangement will be permanent. My dear, shine your eyes before you’ll post relationship goals pics on Instagram one day and some chick goes ‘take down the picture of my fiancé’.
Here’s what you should do:
Dump him and find some marriageable dude since you’re very desperate. Trust me, many guys out there want to walk down the aisle as much as chicks do. Just play nice and maybe by March, you’ll be sending me a wedding invitation.
But since you say you really, really love your guy, then it’s time to get him to commit by force. Firstly, move out of his house if you are living together. Familiarity breeds many things, even kids, but not necessarily an engagement ring. Spend less time with him and give off the impression that you’re still hot in the dating hub. Dress sexier, make fake phone calls that have you blushing (if you’re fair) and always hint that a guy or certain guys are hot on your heels.
Stop sleeping with him. Close those legs tightly and let him know that he can only get the goods on your wedding night. Ensure that your make-out sessions are juicy enough to leave him dreamy, but that should be all he’s getting.
This bit is risky, but if your boyfriend is the stubborn as a goat type, you have to hit him hard and this is where I’ll throw in some help for free. I’ll send you a make-believe suitor for no cost at all just to stir things up. Trust me, this will get him buying you a ring fast! A man cannot stand by and watch some other guy steal his woman without a fight. He will surely go on his knees (or in this case, one knee) to keep you.
I hope I was of help.
Happy Holidays or whatever you call it on your end.
Toni clicked on the send button and concentrated on other emails. The day stretched out long and tiring, and when she eventually left her table, it was dark.
Only then did Andre call.
“Hi Antonia. This is Andre, the delivery guy.”
Toni stood up, and stretched her joints, tugging up her jeans.
“How did you get my number?” She walked to her restroom.
“It’s standard procedure that we take the numbers of the persons we have deliveries for just in case we don’t find them at their location.”
“So why are you calling?” Toni stood before the mirror. She noticed she had lost some weight.
“I’d like to take you out tonight, Antonia ─ if you’re not doing anything.”
Toni pulled her face together in a frown. He had balls. Just like that?
“I think you made an impression when I entered your office earlier…”
No, Leticia made an impression. Her ass was all in your face. I caught you ogling.
“And I think I want to know you better,” he continued.
Toni turned to the side and held one half of her butt cheeks. She hated when she lost weight.
“Are you there, Antonia?”
“Yeah, yeah…I’m here.”
“So, what do you say?”
Toni paused for a moment and mulled over a couple of intriguing things. The first was that for a delivery guy, Andre was too articulate. Another point to note was his brazenness. Usually, guys of his caliber gave themselves commonsense and never bothered approaching her. She was too high maintenance in appearance and only men that were worth their weight in millions dared approach her. She didn’t have time for single men. They had to be married, possess at least fifty million bucks to play around with and have a decadent heart.
She thought about Sylvester’s gifts and the note they came with. She was irritated at the hubris behind it. He was supposed to apologize for drugging her without her consent and probably molesting her. Was that his thing? Taking advantage of helpless women rather than having consensual sex with them?
She had plans to deal with him. Not just tonight.
But the dress and shoes, though… Her mind drifted as she matched them up with the perfect jewelry. Andre lost her for a while.
“Earth to Antonia!” he called.
“So what’s the idea? Dinner? Drinks?” she asked him.
“Anything you want.”
“Drinks at Shaunz Bar.”
Toni smiled. The place was expensive for someone of his level. She doubted he made more than fifty thousand naira a month. She was going to enjoy seeing him run out of cash at her demands. After she was done with him, he would learn to cut his coat according to his material.
“Antonia, I can’t afford Shaunz Bar at this moment.”
His reply and the manner in which he let it out surprised her. No guy had ever admitted he was never capable enough for her. They usually went off radar when she began demanding.
“Can I take you elsewhere?”
She was turned off as much as something in her was impressed at his boldness.
“I’m sorry, Andre. It’s either Shaunz Bar or nothing.”
“Oh. Okay. Um…some other time, then.”
Another blow. He was really giving up?
“By the way, I think you’re really beautiful. I like your eyes.”
Her eyes? How had he seen her eyes?
Toni took off her glasses. She glared into the mirror to be sure he was talking about the same red, sickly-looking eyes she always hid behind her glasses and contacts.
“Merry Christmas… and goodnight.”
He hung up. Toni didn’t believe he cut the line on her. She stared at her phone in surprise.
She laughed. Guys were not playing these days. This was precisely the reason she stayed away from bachelors. Their fronting was on a whole new level and she couldn’t deal.
She made her way back into the office after a pee. For the next few minutes, she indulged in a cigarette, thinking about Sylvester. He was either going to come clean over what he did or she would dump him. But something bothered her more.
She nursed designs to take his spot in the agency. She had eyed that position for two years and didn’t give a damn that he was there because he was friends with Christie and Raji. She was perfect for senior partner and was going to get him thrown out of the agency before the year ran out.
Toni cleared her things, turned off the lights and stepped out of her office.
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