(Continued from A Donkey’s Gratitude III)
The car is a 2016 Mazda Axela that they have purchased at a yard along Kiambu Road. It costs Jeremy one million seven hundred thousand shillings, but he is not worried. Although he is left with just three hundred thousand shillings from the insurance payout, he still has four million that he is expecting from his former employer. Plus, he is going to be getting about a hundred thousand a month after taxes and other deductions from the job that his new lover has given him. He is going to be the manager of her business. That is the club in Ruai, her rental houses, and the farms. The building that houses the club is hers, and already an office is being prepared for him a floor above the club. The manager of the club, the farm managers, and the rental house caretakers are going to be reporting to him.
Money is therefore not a concern right now.
He will not be paying rent because he is now living with Natalie. She will also be taking care of the house bills, including food. His salary will only be going to his amusements, and perhaps to buy her the occasional gift to keep her happy. And why not? She has granted him a life he could only have dreamed of.
She is way older than he is, but she is still beautiful. She is petite, classy, and with smooth skin that is free of wrinkles and pimples. She can even pass for a girl in her mid-twenties. So far, from what he has seen, she is fun to be with. His life is turning out to be good.
After buying the car, they head to a restaurant in their respective cars. Jeremy likes the feel of his new car. Even the smell of newness impresses him. The car is a major upgrade from the old Toyota Premio that he occasionally drove at Pest Maliza. This is his car, and it is new. He parks next to Natalie’s Prado and follows her to the restaurant. It is an upmarket restaurant, the type he wouldn’t have dared to set foot in when he was working at Pest Maliza. But this is his life now. Natalie has called a driver at the company where she works to come and take the Mazda to their home. After their meal, they will drive to Two Rivers Mall to shop for clothes and shoes.
“So, what do you intend to do with the rest of the money?” Natalie asks after they have placed their orders for food. She told him that she likes this restaurant and that she always eats here whenever she is on these sides of town.
“I haven’t decided yet. I probably put it in a fixed deposit account.”
“That used to be a good idea a few years ago. Not anymore.”
“Why is that?”
“Banks are under a lot of pressure to deliver higher margins of profits and one of the things that has suffered over the years is the interest they offer over savings made in fixed deposit accounts. You will give them a tonne of your money but you will probably not get the interest you deserve. It has become a useless investment.”
“I will try government bonds then. I hear they are stable and safe.”
“They have always been. But would you trust this particular government with your money? We are defaulting on the Eurobond, and we are likely to default on the Chinese loans. If this government is not afraid of China, do you think they will be afraid of you and your four million shillings? This government will give you the middle finger and move on as if nothing happened.”
Jeremy thinks about this and realizes that it makes a lot of sense. The economy has been on a downward spiral, and this government seems clueless about how to save it. Trusting them with his money would be recklessness of the highest order. And four million shillings is a lot of money by his standards.
“That leaves me with rentals then. I will buy a piece of land and build rentals. At least land doesn’t depreciate. And I know you will not argue with that because you have invested heavily in rental houses, both residential and commercial.”
Natalie smiles. He is playing into her hands, falling right into her trap.
“You are right. I think real estate is the safest investment right now. You only need to get it right on two fronts.”
“The first is location and the other is professionals. You don’t want to build luxurious one-bedroom apartments in an impoverished village and then rent them for three thousand shilling a month or worse, have them stay without tenants for years.”
“I was thinking of putting up single rooms in the village…”
“And you think you can make money from single and double rooms? That is a bad dream. If you want to make money, try at least bedsitters in a good location. And by a good location, I mean near a serious urban center where you will get the middle class to rent. And make sure your houses are properly done, which takes me to the next point. You need serious professionals to pull it off. Right from the lawyer who helps you acquire the land, to the architect and the other building professionals, you have to get it right. There is no question about that.
Building proper rental houses is expensive, but the returns are good. The average middle-class person is always looking for a well-constructed house in a good location.”
“But seriously speaking babe, I am beginning to think that my four million shillings is not enough for any good investment. I don’t think that money will be enough to buy land and build rentals in the outskirts of the city.”
“That is why you have me baby,” Natalie says, stretching her hand and stroking his beard. “I have a project coming up in Kikuyu. I already have the land, and the building plans have already been approved by the county government. We are breaking ground next week. You can invest in that. I will give you a share of the property.”
Jeremy is no fool, and he gets suspicious.
“How will you give me a share of the land if you already have the land in your name?”
“The land is owned by a company that I founded for that purpose. I will simply give you shares in that company and you will become a part owner of that building with me. I will also make you a director because you will now be running my affairs, including that construction. Tomorrow you can make an appointment with my lawyer and he will show you all the documents and help you with the transfer. I bought the land alone at 15 million, and the contractor I am using estimates that the construction will cost about fifty million. The property is located less than a kilometer from Kikuyu town. Rent is guaranteed, and we will be sharing it, just me and you.”
“That is a good idea. But don’t you already have enough money for the project?”
“I do. The bank will finance the whole project, just as it has financed my other projects. But I want to help you because I want you to succeed. You are an ambitious man and I like that. Besides, I love you, and you have probably heard that a woman will do anything for love.”
She laughs softly, and Jeremy joins in the laughter. He doesn’t know what he did to get so lucky in life. That accident was indeed a blessing in disguise. They are eating as they chat about this and that when Jeremy’s phone rings. He takes it out of his pocket and stares at the screen. It is Fridah calling. He terminates the call and returns the phone to his pocket.
“Who is it?”
“An ex-girlfriend,” Jeremy says with a smile. “She must have heard about the insurance money. The strange part is that she is married. I pity the husband. Fridah is a classic gold digger.”
Natalie knows that he is lying, but she plays along. All along she knew that he probably has a wife somewhere, but that doesn’t matter to her. She wasn’t looking for a single man anyway. But she makes a mental note to check his background to ensure that there is no female threat that can lure him away from her. And she will start with the woman who has just called. She will check his phone after he falls after he falls asleep tonight. It is probably password-protected, but that is not a problem. She will call Jude and he will be in the house within no time. And that boy can crack even the most complicated password.
As they eat and make small talk, Natalie cannot help but feel satisfied. Things are finally coming back together. She has a young handsome man by her side. He makes her feel young again. Of course, she is aware that a young, good-looking man like him, especially one with some money will be a magnet for girls. But she will deal with that when the time comes. Any woman who proves to be a thorn in the flesh will go to meet her maker. Natalie has done it before and she will do it again if the need arises.
For now, though, she is already thinking ahead. There are some four million to be collected, and the only stumbling block is that lawyer. The lawyer will not have to die, because there are simpler ways of getting the money. Natalie laid the ground yesterday when she went to meet the legal officer of the company. But the only purpose that meeting served was to win the confidence of Jeremy. And she needs him to trust her because she intends to keep all that money. She will instruct her lawyer to go through all the motions, but no transfer of shares will be done. She already knows a piece of land in Nanyuki that she will buy using the money.
The bank is indeed financing the construction of the Kikuyu project. Natalie has enough income from her other businesses to pay off the loan. But she will tell Jeremy that the rent from the building will go towards settling the financing deal. Then she will take him in circles for years until he forgets about the money.
Natalie knows the CEO of Pest Maliza personally, but Jeremy doesn’t know that. Had he known, he would have insisted that they go to see him, rather than waste time with a legal officer. Natalie has a date with the man later this evening, after she is done with the shopping she has to do with Jeremy.
Katana is a tall, thin man with a professorial look. His large spectacles enhance that look. He is actually a professor of microbiology, but he traded the classroom for a corporate C-Suite some fifteen years ago. Katana is a bright and ambitious man. He graduated with his Ph.D. at the age of 29, and he became a professor at the age of 36. But at that time, he had already been elected the Dean of the School of Microbiology. Four years later, he quit academia to become the Director of Research at Pest Maliza. He then became the Chief Production Officer and five years ago, a day after his fiftieth birthday, he became the CEO of the company.
One of the most interesting relationships he has had as the CEO is with Natalie, the COO of Mauntu Insurance. Natalie is an intense go-getter, and she introduced him to a side of the corporate world that he never imagined he would get into. Before he met Natalie, Katana lived on the straight and narrow path. He was a church elder who had never sipped alcohol in his entire 50 years, had never cheated on his wife of 24 years, and had never engaged in corruption of any kind.
But Natalie taught him all the three. She seduced him and became his first mistress; she did things to him in bed that his wife Asunta would find disgusting, and so he became hooked. She introduced him to wine, and he found that his palates agreed with it. Finally, she showed him how they could scam both their companies through a complicated scheme of kickback as Pest Maliza took all its insurance products to Mauntu Insurance.
Now Katana is a fifty-five-year-old divorcee, having been dumped by Asunta. But he is far from single, as he changes girlfriends like clothes. His current flame is a bimbo he met at a sporting event where Pest Maliza was the corporate sponsor. Today, though, she is not with him as he sips his wine at a city hotel. Seated across him, is Natalie, the woman who taught him life and made him wealthy. Katana has made kickbacks his lifestyle. No contracts are signed at Pest Maliza before he gets a cut.
“That is all you need?”
“Yes, love. If you cut out the lawyer for my protégé, then we are good.”
“I will make sure that is done tomorrow. Your boy can collect his cheque at eleven.”
“We prefer an RTGS. It is faster that way. I will send you the account details if that is okay?”
Natalie managed to convince Jeremy that they should open a joint account and have the money deposited there. That way, it would be easier to transfer it to the construction project.
“Sure, no problem. I will make sure it is done.”
“Thanks, K. I knew I could count on you.”
“So, what do I get in return?” he asks with a wink.
“I thought you have a hot girlfriend half my age. Isn’t she keeping you busy?”
“She should be, but isn’t. She is a useless socialite that I need to get rid of.”
“Okay darling, you get one night with me.”
“Yes, tonight is fine,” Natalie says with a seductive smile. She has a reason to be happy. After all, tomorrow she will be four million shillings richer.
(This is the last free chapter of this story. To find out what became of Jeremy, Fridah and Felicity, kindly follow the instructions below to grab your copy of the novella for only Kshs. 100.)
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