Threats flying, Relationship building, friendship straining, hearts breaking, odds meeting! Catch all the drama on Love Quest episode 9. Get into Nimi and Laye’s world. Don’t forget to share this episode with your friend.
Nimi sat behind her desk putting finishing touches to the work she wanted to submit to her team’s creative director. Although it was break period, she decided to stay back to work. Her reason for wanting to complete her work while the others left for the cafeteria was just a cover-up. Her main reason was to avoid Laye who had made it a routine to pressure her to go see Ken even when he had not invited her. The pressure was getting to her, and it was causing a strain on their friendship.
Nimi was near snapping at Laye to let her be, but her fear of her growing feelings for Ken would not allow her act. She wasn’t sure if Laye was getting on her nerves because she had a thing for Ken too, or if truly Laye’s obsession was irritating her.
She clicked the send button on her mail and leaned back in her chair. She received a notification in the following seconds that her mail had been sent. She wished what was becoming her life and her friendship with Laye could easily be sorted out. She didn’t want to get in the way of Laye and yet she didn’t want to stay away from Ken. How was it possible that she would handle that? Could she have her cake and still eat it?
Laye seemed not have noticed the ache her continuous enquiry about Ken was causing her. All she wanted was to have Ken, and Nimi must help her. She turned deaf ears to her explanation that Ken had not summoned again to his office on personal grounds –that was even giving her concern. But she would never go to him. She would never yield to Laye’s pressure and go to Ken.
No way! She shook her head vehemently. I am not a desperado. My feelings notwithstanding, I will never seek him out on my own until everything is clear to me. If Laye is so desperate then let her go to him herself. Yes, that’s better. She would tell her that when next she asked her when she was visiting Ken.
Someone touched her shoulder, drawing her out of her inner musing. She looked up into the eyes of Miss Binaebi. Her eyes grew wide in surprise.
A lovely face smiled at her. Nimi forced a smile through her lips too.
“Hi.” She greeted.
“Hi,” Elaebi replied cheerfully. She took the seat beside Nimi.
Nimi watched her every move. Close up, Nimi could see why Laye felt insecure. Elaebi was indeed beautiful. Her face seemed to glow as she looked at her. Her eyes seemed to fill her whole face and her lips wore a natural pout that drew Nimi’s eyes to her like metal to a magnet. Her pencil-thin eyebrows eased down gently to her sweeping eyelashes as she looked at Nimi.
“You had such intense look on your face a while ago and I couldn’t resist coming to ask what put such look on your face.” She said.
Nimi winced. Elaebi laughed a little. “Hope you don’t mind my intrusion.” She said.
“Oh no.” Nimi quickly reassured her. She sat upright and minimized her mail page on the system. She could use that as an excuse. “I just have a lot of work to do.” She told her.
Elaebi nodded her understanding. “My former place of work was the same. The stress was terrible. I was the only art director.” She said.
Nimi lifted her brows in disbelief. “Really?” She asked. “You’ve been in the advertising world?”
“Of course,” Elaebi replied. “For two years actually.”
Nimi gaped at her. This was definitely a case of beauty and brains. Where was Laye, who thought Elaebi was there to seduce her precious Mr. Ken? “That’s good. I have only been here for eight months now,” she said.
“I guess I can welcome you as a senior colleague.” Elaebi teased.
Nimi laughed. Elaebi joined her. “Okay, my senior colleague.” Nimi replied, with a bow.
Elaebi got up. “I just wanted to create a connection between us. Your face gave me my opening.” She winked at Nimi.
Nimi smiled. “Thanks, Miss Binaebi.”
“The name is Elaebi. Call me Ela.” She told her.
Nimi nodded. “Ela then. I’m Nimitein. Everyone calls me Nimi.”
They spent a few more minutes acquainting before Elaebi went back to her desk. Nimi watched her walk away and knew that she had just made another friend.
That knowledge proved to be true in the days that followed as they got closer to each other. She saw little of Laye. No more did they carry out their morning ritual. Nimi took her tea all by herself on her desk. There was no need going to share precious moments with someone who had become obsessed with a man and could care less about her friendship. Each time they met, Laye nagged her about Ken. The more she nagged, the more Nimi avoided her.
When they gathered for briefing days after Elaebi came to her, Nimi sat away from Laye. She found herself beside Ela while Laye sat with Karibo. She felt strange that morning and she really wanted to go to Laye, but the moment Laye sighted Ela beside her, she turned away and sat with Karibo who flashed a happy smile at her.
Laye’s eyes kept drifting to the entrance waiting for Ken to appear as usual. Whatsoever Karibo was telling her was going through one ear and out through the other.
When she heard Ken’s voice at the entrance, the first place her eyes went to was to Laye. Just as she thought, Laye was beaming with smiles. She shook her head sadly. Ken didn’t come close as he would have done in the past. He walked straight to the back and took a seat while the MD addressed them that morning. Laye kept stealing peeks at him.
Beside Nimi, Ela kept humming as she took notes of the MD’s address. Nimi marvelled at her. Her face radiated with so much joy as the humming gave way to words. The lyrics of the song she was humming left her lips in sweet melody. Her serenity intrigued Nimi. What was about this beautiful but simple girl, she wondered. She looked her over. Spending time with her these past days had made her yearn for the kind of personality Ela had. She charmed everyone around with her easy smiles and caring attitude. She seemed not to notice the effect she had on people. There must be something special about her, Nimi concluded within her.
She made a note to ask her about the song and try to learn it too. She couldn’t remember the last time she sang any song on her own, talk less of a gospel song. The gospel songs she knew were from a time long ago when attending church had been part of her family’s activities; when her sister had not made them the laughing stock of the community and the rejected of the church. Each time she heard people sing gospel songs, she had her mind elsewhere. She would prefer to plug in her earphones and keep herself from singing along or learning the song.
But something about the way Ela was singing touched her. She would learn Ela’s song even if she might not believe in the lyrics. And she wouldn’t sing the song at home of course because her father would only get angry with her. He was done singing, church songs, praying and reading God’s word. It was only her mother that still took the side of God after the damages her sister caused. Even her younger ones were indifferent. Who would blame them when the head of the house had sunk under the weight of the rejection and condemnation he received from those who should have understood and encouraged him through God’s words and prayers.
Nimi sighed as the address came to an end and they left the room in groups. She would not think of her sister or her family, for now, she would focus on what she could control –learning Ela’s song.
She pulled her aside before she would go with the others. “You have a beautiful voice, Ela.” Nimi commented.
Ela brimmed with smiles. “Thank you, Nimi.” She replied.
“I’ll like to learn the song.” She told her.
Ela clapped her hands in excitement. “Oh, great! I’ll teach you during the break, or we could visit the ladies before we get tied up with work and apply ‘powder’ to our voices.” She winked at Nimi.
Nimi threw her head back in laughter. Her laughter stopped abruptly when Ken joined them, causing her to cough.
He smiled at them. “Hello, ladies.” He said.
“Good morning, sir.” They both greeted.
“How are you enjoying DAA, Miss Binaebi?” he asked.
“Fine, sir. I’m adapting to the work schedule here.” Ela replied, twisting a strayed curl that escaped her hairpin.
Ken gave an approving nod. “That’s good. Just do your best.” He encouraged.
“I will, sir.”
Ken turned to Nimi. “It’s been a while, Miss Tombiri. Let’s meet today during lunch break.”
As usual, his invitation made her happy. A big smile spread across her face. “Okay, sir. I’ll be there.”
“Alright then, enjoy your day.” He walked away with purposeful strides.
They watched him go. When Nimi took her eyes off his departing back, she locked glances with Laye. She excused herself from Ela and went to meet her.
Laye’s mouth was drawn in disapproval, arms folded across her chest. “She’s so quick.” She stated, staring daggers at Ela, who was talking to another art director.
“Come off it, Laye. Ela is a very nice person. I like her.” Nimi countered.
Laye shook her head. “Don’t be carried away, Nimi. She’s just pretending.”
Nimi looked at Ela. She was open from what Nimi could see. “I doubt it, Laye.”
“Keep doubting. Don’t be surprised when she’ll be the one going to Ken’s office.” Laye sounded firm. “By the way, I saw Ken talking to you. What’s it about?” her voice was soft, losing the acidic tone form moments ago.
“He invited me to his office,” Nimi told her without the happiness she felt earlier when Ken invited her.
“Oh good!” Laye crowed in delight. “We’re back on track. Now, I feel good again.” She placed her hands on her waist and twisted stylishly.
Nimi said nothing. She would do nothing to increase Laye’s obsession with Ken. She only looked forward to the time in his office.
She met Ken in front of the file cabinet shuffling through some files when she got to his office. He turned when he heard the door open. He smiled at her.
“Welcome, Miss Tombiri.” He said, moving away from the cabinet with a folder.
“Thank you, sir.” She answered, standing at the same spot.
He pointed her to a seat. She took her seat. “How has the day been?” He enquired.
Nimi blew air out of her mouth. “Hectic.” She said simply, placing a hand on her jaw.
He raised his eyebrows. “That bad huh?”
She nodded. “I have been in meetings all morning setting dates for our presentations, and I have a very long document to work on. I think you should consider having four copywriters on my team.” She told him.
Ken laughed. He set the folder on the desk. “Negotiating for your team, right?” he replied, eyes twinkling.
Nimi raised her hands in mock innocence. “I just want the best for the agency.”
He chuckled lightly. “Alright, we’ll look into it.” He drew out some papers from the folder and passed them to her. “I hope you’re done with your work now,” he said. She nodded in return. “And even if you were still busy I would have talked to your Creative director to excuse you.” His eyes held hers in an intense look.
Nimi felt heat move up her neck all the way to her hairline. Her heart did a double take at his words. A tingling sensation started up in the pit of her stomach, spreading up to her heart. A happy feeling settled on her. “That would be nice.” She replied in a calm voice, despite her runaway pulse.
“I hope you won’t mind me having you to myself all through.” He said. Nimi raised alarmed eyes at that. He rubbed the back of his neck, a guilty smile on his face. “That came out wrong. I meant… well… we’ll work together.” He explained with a stutter.
“I don’t mind, sir,” Nimi responded, enjoying his discomfort. She didn’t mind him having her in the other way he thought she had understood his statement, but she couldn’t tell him that.
He gave her the file he had pulled out from the cabinet when she came in and told her to look through the final presentation for the Seasoning Company Account which they had submitted earlier. They looked over it together and finally agreed it was ready for presentation.
“Well, since you’re going to be here for a while, I made arrangement for lunch.” He moved away from the desk. He picked a basket beside the refrigerator. He came back to the desk and dropped two food flasks on it. Nimi looked at him for an explanation. “I wanted to show you I’m not just a snack lover. I love good food too, so I prepared this meal.”
Nimi couldn’t resist the happy laughter that bubbled within her. It came out with all the excitement she felt. “Wow, sir, you actually cooked.” She said in disbelief.
A worried look creased his brow. “Maybe you should taste it first before getting excited.” He pushed one of the flasks to her.
She opened it and was hit by the aroma of curry seasoning. He had prepared white rice and stew. The chicken that garnished the rice was mouth-watering. She felt herself salivating. “This is good, sir.” She commented. “It’s inviting.”
“Then you should eat.” He said. He took two spoons from the basket and passed one to her. “You can get water from the fridge.”
Nimi left the flask on the table and went to the fridge to get sachet water. While she went right to eating, he closed his eyes for a few seconds with his lips uttering words she couldn’t hear. She studied him as she chewed her food.
Who exactly was Ken? She pondered. Laye had finally told her what happened between them when she returned the bottle. She had related the way she met him that day. Hmm… she thought deeply, there is something about this man. There must be something or else my heart will not be hopelessly falling for him even when I know my friend wanted him so much.
He ended his prayer and started eating. She looked away then. “How is it?” He asked her. His eyes were anxious.
He had done a good job for someone who hardly cooked. It didn’t matter that the curry was too much and the salt was a lit bit much. She wouldn’t tell him that. “Good, sir. I’m quite impressed. If you continue like this, you’ll soon become an expert.” She enthused.
A pleased look filled his eyes. “Thank you. I know you only said that to make me feel good. I can taste the salt now.” his eyes twinkled.
Nimi almost dropped the food flask as her body shook with laughter. He joined in her laughter. “But just like you said, I’ll definitely improve if I continue.” He commented when his laughter subsided.
After the meal, they got back to talking about work and outlining strategies for the new accounts they just got. Nimi was pleased that he thought to include her in his planning. Her respect for him increased.
While he worked on his system, she read through his ideas for the new accounts, making corrections were necessary and noting relevant points. The rhythmic movement of his fingers on the keyboard broke the silence in the room. Nimi didn’t like it initially but after a while, it became monotonous and she didn’t notice anymore. It was the reason why she didn’t know he had stopped typing and was looking at her. The hair on her neck stood, making her self-conscious. She looked up to see him watching her.
Nimi’s hands flew to her mouth to be sure she had not left some food on her cheek. She rubbed both corners of her mouth. After that, she looked down at her shirt. No stain, she sighed with relief. Then why the serious look, she wondered? He answered the question her lips hadn’t formed but her eyes had asked.
“You were humming a hymn I like so much,” he told her.
Her eyes widened ever so slightly. She didn’t even know that she had been humming. She had gone to the Ladies with Ela and spent the first ten minutes of the day powdering their faces and learning the song. It was then Ela had told her it was a hymn she had sung that morning with her younger sister during their devotion. Nimi had hummed it to herself most part of the morning as she moved through her work. She stopped to concentrate and didn’t know she was doing it unconsciously in front of Ken. His rhythmic fingers must have matched the tone of the hymn and she just flowed with it. “I didn’t know.” She replied.
“That song always touched me each time I sing it. Do you feel that way?” His tone was soft.
Nimi considered it. Had the hymn touched her? When last had she been touched? She recalled the lyrics of the hymn and wondered what would minister to her in it.
My faith had found a resting place,
Not in device nor creed;
I trust the Ever-living One
His wounds for me shall plead.
I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that he died for me.
She pondered on the words from the first stanza and the chorus. Ken interrupted her mind’s activity.
“That hymn has me down on my knees each time.” He said. “It brings to my mind what is written in the book of Psalms. Psalm 112:7 ‘He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting the Lord’”. He quoted in a melodic voice.
Nimi felt a warm glow within her as he quoted the scripture. It was right in her heart where she had never felt such. What was this all about? Why did she feel so good listening to Ken? His eyes seem to glow too. She shook her head. She must have worked too much and it was affecting her.
“You know the Bible?” she quizzed, studying him.
His lips turned up in a smile. “Yes, I do.” He answered with utmost pleasure. “What about you?”
Nimi looked away. Reading the Bible was not part of her daily routine. That was done on the rare occasions she attended Sunday service –and that happens when her mother had nagged her consistently on it. “Not like you.” She answered evasively.
He looked thoughtful. “Why is that?”
Nimi shuffled papers. She didn’t look at him. She took out one and feigned deep concentration. Anything was better than answering his question.
“Nimi,” he called softly, placing a warm hand over hers that had suddenly gone cold, causing it to tingle. Her eyes jerked to him. “Feel free to talk to me.” He urged gently.
She was too shocked to speak. They were moving too fast. Ken was opening places she didn’t want to be opened just yet. Yes, she was deeply attracted to him and wanted to spend time with him, that much she would admit, but still, she couldn’t just open up to him like that. The last time she opened up to someone, he had used it against her. Raymond had shattered her heart with the weapon she gave him. This time, she’d take her time.
He must have sensed her withdrawal because his grip on her hand became firm. “Listen, Nimi, you can talk to me.” Despite his firm grip, his voice remained gentle. He wasn’t going to force her to talk. He would only encourage her as a friend. A friend right? His heart thought her more than a friend already but he could not do anything until he was certain just as he had prayed days back.
Unbidden tears pooled in her eyes to her embarrassment. She raised her head to prevent them from dropping. She inhaled and exhaled for a few seconds, trying to get her emotions under control. When she felt relieved, she spoke up. “Maybe some other time, sir.” She told him.
A sad smile played on his lips. The pain of disappointment sliced through him but he shook it off. His time with Nimi would come. He was certain of it. “I’ll be waiting to listen, Nimi.” He replied, looking straight at her. “Just consider me as your friend and call me Ken.” He added.
Her eyes flew to him. Did he just say ‘friend’? He wanted them to be friends. Not inviting her to his office under work pretence anymore, right? Friend, and to call him Ken? Wow!
“Yes, Nimi. Take me as your friend.” he leaned forward so that their faces were just inches apart. “I want to be your friend. Will you accept me?” He asked.
Her heart screamed yes, yes, yes; but she hesitated. What about Laye? Would she not feel bad about it? What would happen now? Questions flew about in her head, while Ken awaited her answer. She looked into his eyes and he looked back at her with an intense gaze, scanning her face. The walls melted around her heart then. There was no harm in being his friend. She could even tell him about Laye’s feelings for him as a friend. She refused to acknowledge the small voice that told her she was not telling herself the truth.
She gave a small nod. “Yes, sir.” He shook her head at her use of ‘sir’. She cleared her throat and spoke again. “Yes, Ken.” She said in a small voice. She didn’t look at him.
He placed a hand under her chin and turned her face to him. “Thank you, Nimi. You are my friend too.”
Her heart thudded against her ribcage. For what reason, she couldn’t tell. Maybe for fear of what Laye would think and how she would react when she told her, or for the great excitement she felt that Ken asked to be her friend.
Whatever the reason, her heart kept thudding.
Nimi met Laye seated behind her desk when she got back to her booth. She jerked back in shock. She placed a hand over her racing heart and wondered what she would tell Laye.
“Laye.” She called.
Laye looked up from the magazine she was perusing. Her eyes twinkled with anticipation. “You’re back.” She said, dropping the magazine on the desk.
Nimi picked up the magazine and placed it on the stack of magazines on her desk. “What are you doing here?” She asked.
Laye gave a shrug. “Waiting for you of course. I need the gist na so I can plan my next move.” She blew air into her neatly polished nails.
Nimi looked around. A few of their colleagues were in the adjoining booths, working. Discussion flowed in low tones. “Not right here, Laye.” She replied in a whisper.
Laye stood up. “Then let’s go to my work area.” She suggested.
Nimi shook her head. “No, I have something to do now.” She powered her system and click on Microsoft Word. “We’ll talk later,” she said, not looking at her.
“You can do this later,” Laye replied, pressing the power off button. “We can still talk for a few minutes.” She stated, flashing a wry grin.
“Those few minutes are precious, Laye.” She told her through tight lips. “I know you when it comes to this particular matter.” She crossed her arms across her chest.
Laye swirled in her chair. “Then, let me stay here and listen to you while you work.” She insisted, raising expectant eyes to Nimi.
Anger built within Nimi. She glared at Laye. “Laye, please let’s talk later.” She told her coolly, fighting for control over her emotions.
Laye’s knitted eyebrows came up in surprise. Suspicion filled her eyes. Just as she was about to fire back at Nimi, Ela joined them.
“Hello, ladies.” She called pleasantly, flashing a bright smile.
Nimi let out a relieved sigh. She smiled at her in return. “Hi, Ela.”
Laye stood up. She fixed Ela with angry eyes. “You’re interrupting.” She told her bluntly.
Ela moved back. “Oh, I’m so sorry.” she apologized, the smile still on her face.
Nimi touched her arm. “It’s no problem, Ela. We’ll talk later.”
“Okay then.” She walked away from them.
“Laye, you shouldn’t have talked to her like that, Laye.”
“Whatever it is you are doing, Nimi, don’t betray our friendship,” she warned with all venom and walked out of the booth.
Laye’s warning caused her knees to tremble. She placed her hands on her desk to support herself. What would she do? Had she betrayed Laye by accepting Ken’s offer of friendship? Would Laye understand when she explained to her?
She drew her seat close to her and sat on it, then she placed her head on her desk. Her eyes went to a piece of paper on the floor. She bent and picked it up. It was folded into. She opened it. Her eyes widened at the content.
‘Let’s meet this evening at Bliss Taste and Bites after work. I have something to tell you. Karibo.’
Laye and Karibo? Nimi was confused. She had no time to analyse that when she heard her name.
“Nimi.” Someone called her from another booth and pointed to the office behind the booth.
She drew herself up. The creative director’s call put an end to the questions that plagued her, but Laye’s warning kept ringing in her head all through.
So, did Nimi do wrong in accepting Ken’s offer of friendship? If you were Laye, would you get angry when you find out?