The Christmas Ultimatum
Freelance journalist, Olanma Obinze, just landed the interview of a lifetime. She didn’t like the commercialism of Christmas, so the trip to Dubai was the perfect destination and it was happening at the perfect time. She’d get to escape the Christmas hoopla; and the big paycheck once the article was sold would ensure she didn’t have to go crawling back to her father for money. Abayomi Rice was in charge of scheduling interviews for his grandfather, but would only grant Olanma’s request if she accepted his ultimatum—a trip half way across the world to Cape Town, South Africa. Olanma wasn’t falling for the charm of a recovering playboy and a rich one at that. But with her plans going up in smoke before her eyes, Olanma must decide whether to give in to the ultimatum or leave empty handed. Who said it was the season to be merry?
“Mr. Rice. What are you doing here?” she asked, wrapping her arms around herself.
“It’s nice to see you again, Ola. To answer your question, this is my office.” He extended his hand.
Olanma hesitated at first and then took his hand in a firm handshake. The first and last time she saw him, was when he came to visit Zara in New York. She was still sore over Derrick and that day he must have smiled at her funny because she’d let him have it. She was not going to be another girl that he could add as a notch to his belt considering his reputation. Olanma had stormed out without as much as a backward glance. She had since apologized to Zara but didn’t expect to see him here today.
“I know you were expecting to talk to my grandfather, but there has been a change in plans.” His eyes roamed her body. Olanma was going to kill Zara for this, why didn’t she tell her that her brother would be coming instead. “I don’t understand how you are so tongue tied now, considering how snappy you were with me the last time we met.”
“I apologize for that,” she said, lowering her eyes. Her mother had always told her that her sharp tongue would get her in trouble.
“Call me Yomi. Are you sorry because you want an interview or somewhere deep down you actually feel bad?” Abayomi asked.
“I was having a bad day—”
“Do you have many of those? You know there’s something you can take for that.”
Olanma couldn’t contain her anger. Who was he to pass judgment on her? Granted, she had over reacted but she had apologized. She began to pack up her portfolio. Olanma moved towards the door when she heard his voice.
“Just as I imagined, you are going to let that temper of yours get in the way of an interview that could be instrumental in furthering your career.” He shoved both hands in his pockets and studied her.
She stopped. At least he only knew half the story. It would boost her career but she really needed the money to survive more than anything. He continued with a smirk on his face. Olanma didn’t like it.
“Okay, I’ll back off. In exchange I’m going to lay some ground rules for the interview. Agreed?” He didn’t take his eyes off her.
“Depends on what they are. I really want this but I won’t let you bully me,” she said turning around.
“Feisty and principled. I like that, if only we could get rid of the temper.” He snickered. She opened her mouth to speak but shut it when she saw his hands go up in surrender. “Okay, my bad.”
She set her things back down on the table. He invited her to sit down beside him but she opted for the chair opposite him. She saw his smile but didn’t care if he thought she was afraid. She had heard about him and there was no way she’d let herself even be tempted.
“Do you have an updated passport?”
“Excuse me?” she asked. What is wrong with this man? And the most annoying part was that he was enjoying torturing her. She could see it in his eyes.
“Do you have an updated passport? I need it to get you a Visa into South Africa. We leave tomorrow night.” He paused but didn’t seem to bother about the shock on her face. “I have to handle some urgent matters, one of my deals is about to fall through. And that just happens to be where my granddad is, so if you want the interview you’ll have to come with me.”
She was speechless. When she thought it couldn’t get any worse he added, “And of course, considering granddad’s age, I’d have to vet your proposed questions over dinner tonight.”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” she said. Olanma was sure her eyes were way out of their sockets by now. She couldn’t be in close proximity to Abayomi on such a long flight.
“Actually I don’t kid about my stomach or business. So you have dinner with me tonight, fly to Cape Town with me tomorrow and you can have all the access to granddad you need,” he said.