The sound of her shoe heels echoed through the hallway as she walked gracefully. The famous faces on the artworks which endowed the walkway seemed to be happy with her arrival. She moved on the checkered floor as though she was in communication with it. Leona was tensed for this meeting but she couldn’t show it. She was the only woman present and she could not afford to let the men intimidate her. She had worn her lucky short, red gown this evening and she was mustering up all the confidence she could. It was going to be an intense meeting and, above all else, she had to remain calm.
As she walked down the hallway, she couldn’t help but remember the circumstances which led up to that point. A month ago, she was in her office, after hours, when her intercom was activated. Her boss – or someone else – must have mistakenly pressed the receiver down as they relayed their devious plan from his office. She could not believe her ears and she felt the chills run down her body as she stood frozen at her desk. She couldn’t let it happen; she wasn’t going to.
“Deep breaths”, She whispered to herself as she approached the door. It was an easy number to remember. She looked up to see the number “33” boldly inscribed on the door and she knew she was at the right room. It wasn’t easy planning this meeting and no word of what was spoken here could leave… no matter what.
She removed her key card and slid it through the lock. The click on the other side told her she was successful and all she had to do was push the door and enter. But what if they are not here? What if they don’t come? These questions in Leona’s head were not welcome but she kept a straight face. She tried to smile but there was nothing to show for it. Deep breaths.
The door opened effortlessly to reveal a hotel suite as Leona had never seen before. There was the parlor which was cozy with flowers and a sweet aroma. It was empty but she had expected this. They were not supposed to be in there so Leona followed the path to the closed door which led to the balcony.
“How did you manage to secure this place?” came a male voice immediately after Leona entered the balcony. Three young men – all in their thirties – were already waiting for her and from the looks on their faces, they had been discussing this issue before she arrived.
“Haba” Interrupted the second man. He had a thick Hausa accent but Leona could sense he was educated. “Is that how you would welcome the lady?”
A third voice spoke from a little distance beside Leona; her peripheral vision hadn’t caught him at first. “Welcome Leo, It’s nice to finally meet you” He was holding a glass with what was obviously alcohol inside.
“I’m glad you all could make it. Emeka, thanks a lot” She said, as she looked at the man with the glass. “I hope that is your first shot. We do have a serious issue to discuss”
Emeka smiled. “No worry; we are together,” he responded rather cunningly.
“Malaud and Deji, nice to see you too”, Leona continued. “The night is young so I will be as quick as I can, seeing as some of us have other movements to make… after all it is a Friday”
“Cheers”, came Emeka’s voice, and from the way he sounded, Leona knew she had to be quick before the alcohol affected him further.
“My name is Leona and I work for Adullah industries. We are into food packaging” Leona paused for a second as her heart began to race. “I work as the secretary and Personal Assistant to Mr Abdullahi himself”, she continued. “We recently opened a branch in Enugu State but I am here in Lagos on business. I am to be lodged in this hotel.” Turning to Deji, she added, “that is how I secured this place.” Deji smiled and she continued. The next words she spoke took out the last smile she had left on her face and on the face of everyone else in the balcony. “Gentlemen”, she breathed, “our bosses are planning something very bad”.
***TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK***