“Mike please move, I want to sit there,” Daniella says sharply. She is just twelve years old, but with the arrogance of a forty-year-old snob. Michael is tired of her and her ten-year-old brother, who have made it their business to make his life miserable. They are children from his wife’s previous marriage, which ended when the man committed suicide. Michael is just beginning to understand what drove the guy to take his own life, as he himself is approaching that precipice. When Michael came home from work today, Daniella was watching a soap opera in the sitting room with their mother. Their mother usually leaves the office earlier so that she can pick them from school. He greeted them but only their mother responded, taking her eyes off the screen to flash him a warm smile. Daniella ignored him.
The last born, Joel, came running to him. Joel is his son, the only child he has with his wife Rachel. Joel is only two years old but he and his father are very close. Michael picked him up and hugged him tightly. He then pecked his wife on the cheek and retreated to the bedroom with his son. He changed from his official clothing and got into a track suit. Then he came to the porch so that he can watch a football match. It is Wednesday, and there is an English Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United showing in TV. He fixed this particular TV here on the porch because it is the only place where he can watch football. He cannot watch it in the sitting room because that is where his wife and daughter watch soap operas and sitcoms, which he has no interest in. He cannot watch it in the dining room because that is where his son watches basketball and American football.
So he set it up here.
The volume on the TV here is minimal, but it might as well have been mute, because all he can hear is the soap opera from the sitting room. That doesn’t bother him though, as long as he can follow the match with his eyes. But now his step-daughter has just discovered that the couch on the porch is more comfortable than the couch she had been sitting on in the sitting room.
“But you found me here Daniella,” Michael says calmly, using all his inner strength to control the rage that his building up within him.
“I know, but I want to sit there. Do you want me to remind you that this is my grandfather’s house? I can sit wherever I want whenever I want.”
That remark is cutting because it is true. But is also hurts because Michael knows that while Daniella is being disrespectful, he cannot reprimand her. He tried before and she went complaining to her grandfather, who chastised him severely. This house ideally belongs to Rachel, but her father Daniel has not yet done the transfer, so in real sense it still belongs to him. Michael suspects that the transfer will not be done any time soon, because the old man wants to retain control over his daughter and her family. Daniel is the most egotistical and vain man Michael has ever seen, and he often wonders how he got involved himself with his family.
According to Rachel, it was her father who insisted that both of his daughter’s children be named after him, hence Daniella and Daniel. Michael knows to be true because he also insisted that the third born be named after him: his full name is Daniel Joel Mate. It goes without saying that if Rachel gets another daughter, she will be called Jael…or Joella. The billionaire has only two children, Rachel and her brother Daniel Junior. But Junior has a long struggle with drugs, ever since he was in High School. He is always in and out of rehabilitation centres, and on two occasions he has been close to death. So Rachel is the old man’s heir apparent.
His flagship company, Danmate Group of Hotels, is also named after him. It is through this company that Michael met Rachel. Micheal was hired as the General Manager of Danmate Hotel, Nairobi which is the largest hotel in the group, and which also houses the headquarters of the company. He reports directly to Rachel, who is the Group Chief Operating Officer. Her father is the Group Managing Director.
Unlike her father, Rachel is a beautiful and kind soul. She is also sharp and intelligent, and it is obvious that she merits her position, even though she got it by virtue of being the owner’s daughter. All the GMs and other senior staff who interact with her routinely acknowledge that she deserves the position on merit. She is smart, competent and very hardworking. At first, Michael’s interaction with her was very formal. But over time, friendship developed between them.
In the course of his friendship with Rachel, Michael learned that she had gotten widowed at 29, having gotten married at 24. She had met her husband at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, where she did her undergraduate studies. They dated in their last two years at the university and got married as soon as they returned to the country. Daniel gifted them this house as a wedding gift. Rachel started out as an accounts assistant at the Nairobi hotel. That was probably the best thing her father did to her, because she worked her way up and in the process came to understand the operations of the company at a very intimate level. Her husband Andrew got a job at PWC after rejecting a job offer from his father-in-law.
They got the children in quick succession, Daniella a year after the wedding and Daniel two years later. But the marriage was turbulent, with Andrew becoming an alcoholic. He was also violent and abusive, a fact that did not sit well with his father-in-law. One would have assumed that Daniel would have kicked him out of the family to protect the interests of his daughter. Rachel told Michael that she was ready to leave him and she told her father as much. But Daniel is a complex man; he both wanted to protect his daughter, but at the same time he had an image to preserve. So he settled into a routine of fighting his daughter’s battles, giving his son-in-law regular dressing downs.
Michael has experienced one of those dressing downs-on the day he reprimanded Daniella-so he knows how scathing and humiliating they can be. Ever since he married Rachel, he has been wondering whether Daniel is the one who drove Andrew into alcoholism, violence and ultimately suicide. And that is assuming that the poor man killed himself, because it is possible that Daniel killed him and made it look like suicide. Michael even imagines that it is Daniel’s heavy handedness that drove his son Junior into substance abuse, a hole that the younger Daniel finds difficult to get himself out of.
If toxicity was a person, then that person would be Daniel.
Rachel herself is a nice person. She treats him well and tries her best to discipline her children. But ever since they discovered that they can run to their grandfather, she has lost control. Rachel’s only problem is that she is unable to stand up to her father and assert her independence That is why he meddles in what ideally should be her personal life.
Rachel is afraid of him, although Michael doesn’t understand why. It is unlikely that he would disinherit her. If there is anyone that that brute Daniel has a soft spot for, it is his daughter. Not even his wife of forty one years, who he treats like a piece of furniture. It is very likely that if Rachel asserted herself more, he would respect her.
Besides, Rachel has proven herself to be indispensable to the company. Since she entered senior management, the company has become a better place to work, because she has added a human touch to the cold effectiveness of her father. Staff members would do anything for her, and it shows in the improved performance of the hotels.
Of course Michael didn’t know about his father-in-law’s toxicity before he married Rachel, otherwise he would have thought twice about that decision. Michael knew that Daniel was tough, but then again many top executives and businessmen are tough in the office and very gentle at home. Besides, Michael joined the company when Rachel was the COO and so he did not experience the raw toughness of Daniel. Rachel was his day to day contact, which is how the romance was brewed in the first place.
The romance was not immediate, even though Michael was attracted to her right from that first day when she interviewed him for the job. Michael had come from Hotel Ludwig, where he had been the operations manager. He had worked directly under the General Manager of Ludwig and therefore he was confident that he was qualified for the General Manager’s job at Danmate. He knew the ins and outs of the hotel business and so he answered Rachel’s questions with calm competence. She seemed to be the one with the most questions, even though the panel had three other people including her father. Michael was also attracted to the way she took charge that day. This would be emphasized when he started working at the hotel. There is a way Rachel exercises authority without being bossy, and Michael loves that very much.
Michael at first kept his distance because Rachel was his boss. Second, she always wore her wedding band, and so he assumed she was married. But as time passed, it became obvious that she also liked him. She always found a reason to be with him, either in her office or in his. At first all they discussed was work, and this went on for close to a year. But then she started talking about her children and her life as a widow.
Michael was thirty three at the time, and had never been married. He had broken up with is girlfriend of six years, who had toyed with his feelings for the last year of their relationship and then married his best friend. Rachel was thirty four, a widow and a mother of two. One evening they were in her office talking about this and that when she suddenly sat on his lap and kissed him on the lips. She then confessed her love for him. He felt the same way, but had she not made the first move, he probably would never have made it. She was, after all, his boss. They made love that day right there in her office. The following day she lost her ring.
They were officially dating.
A month later she told her father about the relationship and he apparently approved. Two months later wedding arrangements began. They got married four months from the date of that first kiss. Michael’s parents had reservations about the marriage, specifically with the speed at which the wedding was being conducted, but he assured them that everything was in order. Now he wishes that he had listened to them and taken his time to know Rachel’s family better before getting married.
Michael rises with Joel, who was lying on his tummy, and relinquishes the couch to Daniella. He sits on a one seater with Joel on his lap. He wants to continue watching the game, but Daniella has other ideas. She takes the remote and changes the channel to another that has a soap opera.
“I was watching that football match Daniella,” he tells her.
“I know. But I want to watch this soap. Your wife is watching a boring sitcom, so maybe you should join her.”
“I fixed this TV here so that I can watch my stuff you know.”
“But you fixed it in my grandfather’s house. You can take it and go watch in your own house. And by the way, where did you get the money to buy it? Was it not from my grandfather’s company?”
Michael walks away without saying another word, knowing that if he stays there longer he will slap the daylights out of her.
To purchase any of the books in our e-bookstore (including the latest one, Siblings), you can follow either one of two main ways:
- MPESA Automated Digital Payment Method. Log in to the bookstore- register if you are new-(https://www.maroncha.com/book-store ). Select the book. Add to cart, check out then pay by inserting your number on the space provided then clicking ‘confirm’. You will be able to download instantly from the bookstore. A copy will also be automatically sent to your email.
- Pay Via Till Number. Log in to the bookstore- register if you are new-(https://www.maroncha.com/book-store ). Select the book. Add to cart, check out then pay via the Buy Goods Till Number provided. Once you get the message from MPESA, insert the MPESA code on the space provided then click ‘Validate Code’. You will be able to download instantly from the bookstore. A copy will also be automatically sent to your email.
If you are completely unable to use the above two methods, you can still purchase your copy manually. The only disadvantage of this method is that you will have to wait for a few hours before you get your copy. But eventually it will come.
- Pay Kshs. 100 to Buy Goods Till Number 297264 and send an email to email@example.com (or DM Sanctuary Side on Facebook) stating your MPESA name. Use the name of the book as the subject of your email. If you send a DM to Sanctuary Side on Facebook, kindly also include your email address. I will send your copy once I verify your payment.
- Pay Kshs. 100 to Buy Goods Till Number 297264 and send an SMS/WhatsApp message to 0105571156 stating your MPESA name and the name of the book you wish to purchase. I will send your copy once I verify your payment.
Remember you can always DM Sanctuary Side on Facebook, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a WhatsApp message to 0105571156 if you have a query or feedback.
See you all on Saturday.