The phone rings consistently, and Alice does her best to ignore it. She does not want to talk to him, even though she knows she should. The caller is Albert, the CEO of Maeni Microfinance Bank. He is ostensibly following up on money that Alice’s employer owes the bank. Alice is an Accounts Assistant at Tegeta Industries Ltd. Ideally, the CEO of the Microfinance Bank should not be following on payments with her. That is a discussion he should be having with either the company CEO or the CFO. Or both.
But Tegeta is broke, and it has defaulted on its loan for a couple of months. Both the company CEO, Humphrey, and the CFO, Nancy, have been avoiding Albert. By a stroke of misfortune, at least on Alice’s part, Albert called Nancy one day while she was in her office with Alice. Nancy wrote an instruction on a piece of paper, telling Alice to pick up the call and tell Albert that she (Nancy) was in a meeting away from the office but had forgotten her phone in her office.
Alice did as instructed, but Albert insisted on having a physical meeting to sort out the issue because Humphrey and Nancy were not picking up his calls. Alice informed him that she could not schedule a meeting for her bosses because she did not have control over their schedules. Albert informed her that if indeed her bosses were away, then she, Alice, would have to meet him because he was already at the reception.
Nancy instructed Alice to meet him in her (Nancy’s) office. She called the CEO and both of them left through the fire exit. Nancy left her phone in the office for believability. That was the first time Alice met Albert, and she wishes she hadn’t. Of course Albert did not buy the lie. He told her that he knew Nancy and Humphrey were somewhere in the office, hiding.
“Tell them that I am fed up with them. I am going to instruct our lawyers to institute recovery procedures against this company,” he told her after listening to her lame excuses for a few minutes. “Tell them that I have been patient enough. I supported this business against all odds, sometimes even risking my job for them. But since this is how they want to play it, I will shut down this place. Auctioneers will cart away all these machines and all of you will lose your jobs. Tell them that is what I said. They will not hear from me again. But this afternoon nasty things will start to happen.”
Alice panicked. That was not part of the script. She did not know what to do, so she pleaded with him to give her time to talk to her bosses.
“Let me talk to them today and give you feedback. I am sure all this can be resolved,” she said.
He smiled at her knowingly, and agreed on one condition: that she would give him her cell phone number. She hesitated. She did not want to get involved in this matter personally. It was above her pay grade, after all. But Albert persisted.
“As you have seen, your bosses do not want to see me. They are not picking up my calls. You are the one who is convincing me to give you some time to talk to them. How will I get feedback? If I call them, they will not pick my calls. If I come here, they will hide. Just like I know they are hiding right now. So give me your number or the deal is off.”
Reluctantly, Alice gave him her number.
Since then Albert has been calling her daily, ostensibly to follow up on the payment, but in real sense he has been flirting with her and asking her for a date. She wants to block him, but she knows that she will get in trouble with her bosses, who believe that the only reason Albert has not taken any action against the company is because of his interest in her. They know that he wants to sleep with her, but instead of protecting her, they are using her “to protect the company”.
“Hello,” Alice says, finally picking up the call just before it terminates. She cannot even ignore Albert’s calls without inviting a tongue lashing from her boss Nancy.
“Hi beautiful. How is your day today?”
“I am fine sir. How can I help you?”
“You don’t have to be so formal with me baby girl. You can just call me Albert.”
“So, can I take you out for dinner today. Please say yes. I will take you to a lovely place where they have the best food on this part of the world.”
“I am sorry sir, but I can’t. I have other engagements.”
“What engagements are these?”
Alice wants to tell him that it is none of his business, but she holds her tongue.
“I am going out with my boyfriend.”
“Where does your boyfriend work?”
“I am sorry sir, but I don’t have to disclose that. My boyfriend is a very private man.”
Alice cannot disclose that her boyfriend Joab works at Tegeta Industries as an operations supervisor. That will make her position weak, and Albert will exploit it to pile pressure on her to dump him. As it is, their relationship is facing external pressure because Nancy has been making advances on Joab. With Albert now in the picture, Joab and Alice’s relationship is facing marauders on every side.
“Okay Alice. You can go out with your boyfriend for dinner. But I will take you out for lunch. I will pick you up at your office at 1 PM.”
Albert hangs up before she can respond. Today he has not even remembered to ask about his money. But he already knows that Alice cannot help him anyway.
When Albert hangs up, he leans back on his seat and sighs deeply. His job is in trouble, because of those two clowns at Tegeta Industries. He needs them to pay the money quickly, because if they don’t, then a scandal will ensue. And Albert cannot afford to have a scandal under his watch. He simply has too many skeletons in his closet. And the biggest skeleton, a stinking one actually, is tied to this debt that Tegeta Industries owes Mabeni Microfinance.
The biggest mistake he made was to allow Nancy to talk him into the deal. He has done many under-the-table deals, but many of them cannot be discovered unless the accounts are placed under forensic investigation. But on this one he blundered like a fool. He should have looked at Tegeta’s financials and their business model before allowing himself to get drawn into this mess.
But he was sleeping with Nancy at the time, and so his head was not functioning properly. Besides, that woman is more persuasive than Lucifer, and he is now convinced that she seduced him with this deal in mind. She did not propose it until two months after they started sleeping together, but Albert now knows that it was one very long con. Nancy pulled a fast one on him, using her body as the bait.
Nancy is 45 years old, but she could pass for 25. She is downright beautiful, and is a very seductive woman. When she smiles at you, you stand no chance. It is no secret that Albert loves skirt-wearers, and when he was pursuing Nancy, he was convinced that he was winning bigtime. A beautiful woman with a great shape and a mind that matched his own. Unlike the university students and interns that he often finds himself in bed with, here finally was a mature woman he wouldn’t be embarrassed appearing in social joints with, a woman he could actually converse with at his level.
He even considered divorcing his wife and marrying Nancy. His wife Agnes is a great woman. They have been together for twenty-six years. They started life together, being from the time he was an intern in a Sacco and she a nursing student. Agnes became pregnant before either of them got a steady job, and they moved into a dingy single-room, starting life from the very bottom. In the past twenty-six years, they have pulled themselves from the bowels of poverty into the upper reaches of middle class existence. They bought two acres of land in Thika and built a beautiful home. Over the past two decades, they have accumulated an impressive portfolio of investments, mostly through loans secured through their pay slips. Albert has secret investments that he has accumulated from what Agnes would call blood money. He gets bribes every now and then, but he knows his Christian wife would never approve. So she doesn’t know anything about it.
Agnes and Albert have brought up three children, who are now all young adults now. Agnes is now a professor of nursing at the University of Nairobi’s College of Health Sciences. Albert doesn’t have a doctorate like his wife, but he has two Master’s degrees; A Master of Science degree in Economics and a Master of Business Administration.
But Albert was ready to leave all that because of Nancy. Because of his secret stash, he was confident that he could leave Agnes with all the wealth they accumulated together and sill live comfortably with Nancy. His excuse for wanting to leave Agnes was that while Agnes is as intelligent as Nancy, she is not as beautiful. Agnes gained weight after she gave birth, and she has never lost it. Her face also developed acne that simply won’t go away. Agnes is also a church woman, and she dresses accordingly. She looks every inch her 46 years, unlike Nancy who looks like a stylish 25-year-old.
But of leading him to the altar, Nancy led him to this deal, which could potentially sink him. He bypassed many of the bank’s regulations when approving the loans and overdrafts to Tegeta Industries. And all he had was Nancy’s word that she and Humphrey knew what they were doing, and that they would mint billions by the time the loan became due. Other than sleeping with Nancy, he also got a bribe to the tune of five million shillings, which he has invested in money market funds that his wife has no idea exist. Agnes is a church woman, and she would not accept bribe money.
Albert is convinced that he was deceived. Nancy and Humphrey have been stealing money from Tegeta Industries, including the loan money. In spite of his threats, he cannot sue Tegeta Industries, because immediately lawyers are involved, auditors will also get involved. And if that happens, that will be the end of his career. That is why he has been reduced to a beggar. He has been pleading with Nancy and Humphrey to honor their end of the bargain because if they don’t, his career is effectively over. But his pursuit of money has yielded one good thing; he has met Alice. He is stressed, and the one way he can think of to reduce the stress is through a sexual encounter with a girl he has never slept with before.
Alice fits the bill. She is young, beautiful and quite naïve. The chase has been quite thrilling for the last couple of weeks, but now he is convinced that he is about to have her. He will take her to lunch at a hotel he is familiar with. By the time they are done with their meal, she will be ready to go to bed with him. And he will have a room ready for that purpose.
Albert leans back on his seat and sigh deeply. He closes his eyes and envisions himself in the arms of that youngling Alice. It has to happen. Today. It won’t take away his problems, but it will take his mind off those problems for a moment. A short, intense affair with a young woman like Alice is what he needs right now.
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