I would like to share with you for one day only the first five chapters of my newest project A Corporate Affair. Have a Good Read.
It was a bleak Monday morning in January and Saffia cringed at the thought of going to work. The weight on her shoulders was as heavy as the doors one had to push to enter Brady Industries. She eventually found the courage, took a deep breath and arrived at her usual time of 7:30 am. She hesitated for a brief moment before parking her Honda CRV in her reserved spot. How long would she be able to park in that designated area?
As Saffia walked to the entrance of the building that she called work, and home away from home, she thought to herself that this was too much for her to handle. She waited until the lobby area was clear before attempting to take the elevator to her office four floors up. She was trying to avoid the prying eyes and the whispers that she knew was definitely about her and the ongoing high drama in her personal and professional life.
Saff, as she was affectionately called by her peers and beloved husband had grown accustomed to hearing gossip circulate in the office, but what she was not accustomed to was her name being the centre of the rumour mill.
She looked through the thick glass windows that surrounded her office and brought her the view of busy Downtown Kingston streets and for a moment thought of happier days. These were the days when she and Michael would create the best strategies and programmes that would take Brady Industries to the next level; days when employees admired and spoke of them as a royal couple in the office. Those days had slowly vanished and were now replaced with talks of an inevitable divorce.
Chief Financial Officer was the role that Saffia Lyn-Brady held at Brady Industries for the past ten years. She also held the post of wife to Michael Brady and mother to his only daughter Alison. A simple girl by nature, but an overachiever by profession, Saffia’s hard work and contribution to one of the most successful liquor companies could not go unnoticed.
While her life as a Brady afforded her the luxury of high fashion, Saffia wore very little make up and jewellery. She hid much of her neatly curved body under the conservative dark shaded pants suits she wore to work each day. She had unusually long black hair which her mother forced her to perm as early as the sixth grade. She would cry to have it combed and it was just too much hair for her mother to bother with. She had worn her hair the same way for years and at age thirty three she feared it would not suit her any other way.
Saffia was quite the introvert, but she was good at her job, she was a good wife and mother. Her father in law Michael Brady senior also called Bill or Father B was very welcoming and fond of Saffia. He looked beyond her socio economic background and described her as a rare kind of woman and a subtle soul when compared to his tyrant of a wife, Elizabeth the ostentatious matriarch of the Brady house.
Three months earlier, Mr. Brady gave up the daily running of the business due to ill health. He named Michael CEO of the entire group of companies and his brother David worked as the general manager of the sister company Longmore in Miami.
With this new post, Michael had the power to shuffle all the departments as well as fire or transfer Saffia without his father’s approval to satisfy his newest conquest.
Saffia and Michael’s history went beyond their decade long marriage. Their relationship started in college four years earlier while they were pursuing their undergraduate degrees in Business. Michael majored in Operations while Marketing was Saffia’s major. They were from different sides of the fence and their world wind romance encountered much scrutiny.
Michael Brady was a dapper playboy on campus with striking good looks and the wealth to compliment it. He was a heart throb who required little or no effort to woo over the young women. They would literally ‘look’ him. Although he was in a relationship with Saffia, he would occasionally, come home to the flat that he and his brother shared to find girls of every colour, class, size or shape awaiting him. More often than seldom, he would be much obliging. At times, he would have to invite his brother David to share in the abundance of female joy.
It was her brilliance that caught Michael’s eyes in university and then there were her curves. Saffia had the admiration of quite a few of the young men in her group but her interest was fixated on Michael from the moment he asked her to attend the Freshers’ party in first year. She was intoxicated with his good looks and nonchalant personality. Their relationship started from that night and throughout their college years, they could barely keep their hands off each other.
Michael and Saffia would find the most unusual places on campus to ‘make out’. While they spent their college years together, Saffia was fully aware of the type of young man she was dating. He was quite the philanderer and his aristocratic background did not make her college life much easier. There were constant whispers all around the halls that there was no way Michael Brady could have chosen this rural girl to date when he had a pool of more ‘suitable’ and available women. She was accepting of the criticisms because she loved Michael. Despite his wandering eye, he was very loving to his ‘rural’ girlfriend. He would shower her with designer bags and watches purchased from his father’s gold card.
It took him over a year before he broke the news of their relationship to his parents. Father Brady was accepting but Liz Brady would be the constant critique and would hurl questions and comments at her with utter and complete disdain.
“So, Saffia how does your mother afford university on a nurse’s salary?” she would ask. Saffia had received a full scholarship to university so that was an easy answer, but then she would ask the sixty four million dollar question:
“Saffia, how far do you think Michael will go with you?”
“You know he is young and no young man wants to be tied down.”
Saffia was never able to answer whether Michael would marry her or not.
Graduation came in 2002 and so did the revelation that Saffia was going to be a mother. Michael surprised her when he asked her to marry him a week after she gave him the news.
It was the Brady tradition to have a marriage proposal prior to the arrival of a baby so despite Elizabeth’s disapproval of Saffia, a wedding was compulsory.
Saffia only had fifteen persons on the guest list of one hundred and fifty persons including her mother and sister. It was quite the Brady affair which comprised of Brady business associates and friends from Liz Brady’s social circle.
The young couple moved into a newly renovated four bedroom section of the Brady mansion which was a gift from Father B. The marriage was not perfect but Saffia did her best to please Michael at home. Her bedroom skills were less than impressive but they made love as often as a young couple would. Saffia was not the most domesticated wife as her elder sister Annie was the cook back home. May, the housekeeper took care of all the home duties and tended to baby Ali when Saffia accepted the job as Chief Finance Officer.
Her father-in-law hired her right after she completed her Masters’ degree. She joined the company as the youngest manager but she quickly became invaluable to Michael Brady senior. Father B had always valued her opinion for what it was and he trusted her more than anyone else on his senior management team.
But all of that was before the arrival of Lisa Bonher.
Lisa slammed into the company like a Category 5 hurricane. She tore down everything Saffia had worked so hard to build and left a trail of destruction in her wake. She was employed as an Accounts Manager and immediately had two clerks fired.
Michael had fallen in love with her all over again, or did he ever stop loving her? Lisa and Michael had been together in high school until she opted to attend university in Miami. The local tabloids had suggested that Michael had only married Saffia because of the baby bump and that his heart had always been with his long time sweetheart. Lisa was a “browning” and she came from an equally high profile family with a flair for the spotlight. Her hazel eyes and black curly hair were elements of her Syrian ancestry. Liz Brady had always favoured Lisa as the perfect wife for Michael; in her mind Lisa had the right look and background to compliment him.
During the latter years of their marriage, rumours had swirled that Michael and Lisa’s affair never ended. Michael had often taken weekend trips disguised as business meetings to see Lisa in Miami. Saffia was always suspicious of the trips and the long distance phone calls that he had to take in the study with the door tightly closed.
Lisa’s mother died six months earlier and upon her return to Jamaica, Michael offered her a job where she reported to him directly.
It did not matter that Saffia had acquired her MBA that specialized in finance and was better suited for the job or that she had given Michael and Brady Industries the last ten years of her life.
When Lisa winked, complimented him, and chatted up Elizabeth Brady, the rest was history.
In secret, Lisa demanded that Andrew revoke Saffia’s position as chief financial officer and that she be transferred her to another department. In addition, she had an even bigger demand which was to become the next Mrs. Michael Brady.
Saffia sat at her desk and ran her fingers over the 11 X 7 family portrait of her, Michael and Ali that represented the perfect family. Today, that perfect picture had no certainty of continuance and she was afraid to face the reality of the situation.
“Mrs. Brady, they are ready for the meeting, they are in the conference room.”
Saffia was awakened from her deep thoughts. “Thank you Rosie.”
“Should I take your coffee there?” Rosie was the loyal assistant even though she had heard all the Brady drama in the office.
She nodded mutely, “No Rosie, I’m fine. No coffee for me this morning”
This was not going to end well, and she knew it.
“Come in Saff, how are you?” Arthur James, the family attorney was gifted with the art of pleasantry even when he was delivering a dose of bitter medicine. Saffia had known him all too well over the years. He ushered her to a seat at the large mahogany desk where Saffia had presented at so many board meetings.
She felt like she had entered a court of law. Liz Brady, Michael and his two brothers David and Phillip were all there.
“Michael, must we have this discussion at the office? I am sure the house would have been a more suitable setting”
“Saffia, I’m sorry if you find this unprofessional but both the personal and professional matters we are discussing affect the business; the setting is ideal, Arthur will walk you through the details.”
“Saff, the board thinks you have done a great job in Finance over the years, but you have been doing it so long and they think you should do something different…… and so the decision has been taken that there will be a lateral move to the marketing unit. There is a plan for redesigning and it is the belief that you will do an excellent job in spearheading this new venture.”
He just went on and on until Saffia had broke in.
“Marketing!?” Saffia looked at everyone in the room in disbelief. “What would I do in marketing?”
“I have no experience there.”
“Michael, what’s wrong with you? This is bull shit!”
“Quit the drama Saff, I know you did most of your studies in finance and your experience lies there, however your Bachelor major was in marketing….surely all that knowledge can be put to good use in the business.” “The decision is final; you have the option to leave if you don’t want the job.”
“In addition, you know that we will be going through a divorce soon and Arthur will go through the details of what I am prepared to offer.”
The basics do include:
“You will still get to keep your job here at Brady
You will naturally relocate your residence from Brady Manor
There is an apartment in Constant Spring valued at over 6 mil which you will receive furnished
A monetary settlement that would be quite fitting based on our prenuptial agreement
And we share custody of Ali.”
He could not look her in the eye while he unveiled her parting gifts. Her naivety had made her sign that prenup when they got married. She was so in love with Michael and she wanted him to believe that she loved him wholeheartedly and not for his money.
There it was in a nutshell, ten years severance pay. Not in the words of Arthur James QC but her very own husband. He had stated exactly what he wanted. He didn’t want her anymore or did he ever want her?
“So you humiliate me in front of your family, I’m sure you all had a discussion of what I should and should not receive.”
Liz Brady interrupted with her usual sympathy tainted with hypocrisy “Saff, darling we are all family, we are bonded by Ali and of course you know we would have to pass the divorce settlement proposal through Arthur…listen, I have here a card for Dr. Russell, and she’s good at helping divorcees….”
Saffia scoffed at her “Helping divorcees! Elizabeth, what do you take me for? Don’t sing me a sympathy ballad, you’ve been against me since day 1 and Phillip I thought you were my friend in this family, what do you have to say about this?”
It was very hard for Saffia to keep from screaming at the unfairness of it all.
Phillip looked at Saffia’s disappointed face
“Saff, this decision has nothing to do with me and I think you both need to discuss this at home, I really don’t think we need to be an audience to this and neither do you Mummy.”
Phillip and his wife Donna had been genuine friends to Saff; he was a doctor and really did not care much about the family business. He sat on the board by virtue of being a Brady so he had to appear at most of the meetings. David was the complete opposite; Liz Brady’s DNA was immersed in him. He looked like her, he spoke like her and he acted just like her. Image was everything for David and he had always believed that Michael married outside of his realm by choosing Saffia for a wife. While he never said it out aloud, his disapproval was proven when he never showed up at the dinner parties that Saff hosted. He never came to her budget presentations or charity events and he only spoke to her in public when the media was present. He ran Longmore which was a smaller distribution company in Miami and spent heavily, often times overrunning the budget. He wanted to introduce activities at Brady that required heavy spending. Saffia thought the activities were too costly and they never materialized under her wise financial expertise; that was one more strike he had always held against her. With Saffia’s pending transfer, David was ecstatic.
The meeting ended after Arthur handed Saffia a bunch of new documents to look at which outlined her new role and expectations.
Saffia wanted to ask why, she wanted to reach across the table to her husband and shake some sense into him, she wanted to cry but she would not allow herself to shed a tear in public.
The day ended with Saffia being thrown into a new role. An internal email was sent to the staff informing them of the new organizational changes. Lisa had been promoted to the role of Chief Finance Officer and Saffia would be the new Marketing Manager for Brady Wines and Spirits. These changes were slated to take effect March 1st. That was two weeks away. She had not officially agreed to the new changes but it was clear that she really had no say in the matter.
Chapter II – What Now?
The Corporate Suite was the place to be on a Monday evening. It was an eatery where all the big names in business wined and dined. Monday evenings were themed Swingers night, where all the CEOs, COOs and GMs mingled over fine cocktail and h’orderves. It was the place to meet the up and coming executives, and it was also the gossip hut of all the happenings in the Corporate JA. Media houses welcomed the opportunity to get interviews and snap shots at the Corporate Suite.
On this Monday evening, Saffia was sure the topic would be “Wife out, Mate in at Brady Industries”. It was already on the rumour mill as Michael had shown up to Swingers night with Lisa by his side on several occasions lately. Saffia opted to go home for fear she might see her “mate” and her husband at the gathering. She wanted to await Michael to continue the discussion that ended so incompletely at the office.
It was a beautiful home; a home that she would miss. Brady Manor was ten acres of land located in the suburbs of St. Andrew. Earl Brady bought the property during the post colonial era immediately after he found success in the sugar industry. Michael senior was his only son and the sole heir to the entire Brady estate and fortune.
He took over the estate after his father died and lead Brady Industries to become the leading distributor of fine wines and spirits across the island.
The Brady wealth grew even more when Father B married the debutante and stylish Elizabeth Ashton in the late seventies. She was one of three Ashton daughters. The Ashtons were huge real estate developers with German background. The Brady-Ashton union was a production of more money and affluence.
Michael Brady senior had been noted as a remarkable business man and was well respected in the private sector. His charities received acknowledgements both locally and internationally.
Saffia looked at his picture that hung in the living room of every Brady main house. She wished that he would recover soon. His wisdom and unique leadership skills were lacking in the business, but she was not sure that he would be able to return to running the business. The senior Brady now had a failing heart and for the past six weeks, he was admitted to the private wing of a Kingston hospital. Saffia reminisced on the last time she went to visit him. His spirits were high and he still found the energy to encourage her.
“I know Michael’s head is all over the place and he can be lazy but that’s why he married you.”
“You’re his guardian angel.” He said that out of his strong belief in Saffia and her morals.
She was sad to see him so ill. She did not want him to worry about matters that he could not do anything about.
“Daddy, that’s ok.”
“The business is in the same order that you left it and Michael is doing a great job.” She wanted to reassure him that he had left the company in capable hands.
Saffia heard the chirp of the alarm to Michael’s BMW well past midnight and came down the stairs in time to begin her piece of the conversation. It was a must have conversation and whether or not he was sober enough, he was going to listen to her.
Before she could start, he glanced at her across the room in her white laced nightgown. She was a sexy woman. Michael tried hard not to find her appealing but what he could not avoid seeing, was the pain in her eyes. He quickly looked away and poured himself a drink of vodka. It was a painful look that he was all too familiar with, he saw it whenever he took one of his so called business trips to Miami. Saffia knew him all too well, she was his rock and he did love her but out of gratitude, pity and the fact that he knew she loved him. She had helped him with all his work in college, she practically wrote his masters’ final paper and helped to keep the Brady business profitable for years. She was the ideal partner, just not the ideal partner for him.
“Michael, I really can’t believe that you never left Lisa all these years?” “Do you realize that we have been together for a total of fourteen years?”
“Saff……” He tried to explain
“Don’t call me that, you used that name, when I thought you loved me!”
“How can you throw away our marriage for her?”
“I know your mother is behind this, we have a daughter, I’ve given most of my life to you and this business.”
She was bundling all her thoughts and expressing them at the same time.The tears were beyond fighting and they ran freely.
“After Ali was born, you knew that I could have taken the job at the bank because I didn’t want to be caught up in the family politics and you begged me to stay and work with you and this is how you repay me?”
“What does she have over me?”
“Is it her skin tone?”
“Is it her clothes?”
“Michael I have so many questions because I don’t know who you are anymore….you insult me in front of your mother, to prove what?…. that you have as much balls as David?”
She sat on the couch and held her face in her hands to conceal the volume of tears flowing from her eyes.
Saffia was right; he had always made her feel minute in the presence of his mother.
“Saffia, everything is wrong with this marriage, it has become a loveless marriage….we haven’t made love or shared the same bed in months, we smile for the cameras and show up at all these events together but we are not….
Saffia interrupted him.
“It was you that relocated from our bedroom, and you haven’t touched me because you’re busy touching her.”
“What else could you possibly want?”
“I hear she gives it to you anytime, anywhere, even in your father’s old office”
“Don’t blame Lisa for this or my mother, we have had our issues, yes I have been a cheating husband but you always knew how I felt about her…I did the honourable thing to marry you when you got pregnant, and it’s not that I didn’t love you but just not the way a husband should love a wife, I am sorry…”
The business decision isn’t malicious either, you know we have that merger coming up and Lisa has all these connections in Miami, with her influence we are sure that we can close this deal in three months.”
“I have connections too Michael, ten years worth of it.”
“How are our suppliers and our customers going to feel with this sudden change?” Saffia just did not understand the reasoning.
Michael had not carefully thought about the transition from Saffia to Lisa. They were indeed two different personalities. For the most part, the company’s business partners appreciated Saffia’s charismatic and professional approach.
“They will get over it Saffia, people get used to different executives ever so often.”
“We are not the first company to change or transfer senior managers.”
“What’s the worst that could happen?” He sounded as if he was trying to convince himself.
Saffia was crying uncontrollably.
“I am not just an employee Michael, I am your wife, you are just going to throw away our years of hard work together?” Saffia looked at him with questioning eyes across the room.
“Well Saff, you can no longer use the term of wife loosely,…. like I said today, a divorce is really the next step for us.”
The look on his face was a combination of pity and guilt.
Even though he was leaving her, all Saffia could see in front of her was the man she fell in love with. He looked even younger than his thirty four years and even more attractive; he was easily described as the most handsome of the Brady brothers. He had curly black hair with skin resembling that of elephant’s ivory. It was at times hard to believe he was Jamaican, but one would know his roots whenever he spoke the patois in an informal setting or requested that May cook traditional stew peas every Wednesday.
He walked over to his wife and touched her head,
“Saffia, I’m sorry but this is how it has to be, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do for you but we can’t be married anymore and it is what it is I can’t share this house with you anymore”
“Lisa is getting older and she wants to have children and I would love for Ali to get a baby brother or sister.” Just embrace this as a new venture in your life”
“Take your time to pack, let me know if you need me to arrange for one of the company trucks to assist..I’ll be at the guest house.”
Saffia got up from the couch “I want you to be the one to tell your daughter that you’re leaving me and this family and exactly why, I’ve cleaned up after you far too long, I won’t be the one to tell her that her Daddy is leaving us for his Miami whore…”
“Fine, I’ll talk to her over the weekend and I’ll let the whore comment slip because you’re angry right now, but remember you and Lisa will have to work together, so you need to start getting over this and move into the professional mode.”
Michael was right; all marketing purchases would have to pass through finance for approval. Saffia could not just up and leave the company either; she had just renewed her two year contract in January. If she left before, she would leave empty handed. Most of her earnings had gone into building a comfortable home in the country for her mother and sister, so her savings was depleted. She had to sell the image that it was a peaceful divorce and that she would continue to work in the business until her bank account was stable.
The thought of taking Michael to court was exhausting, she knew Arthur would annihilate her case and she would probably end up with nothing or a far less settlement.
The disbelief of the situation haunted Saffia that night; she tossed and turned in her bed; the bed where she and Michael had made love and spent late mornings. The bed was now cold and empty and the pillows were soaked with tears that rained from Saffia’s eyes. The tears flowed continuously every night for the rest of that week.
CHAPTER III –
Two weeks remained in February and Saffia took the time off from work to straighten out her new living arrangements. It had been a week since Michael’s official announcement of his plans and he came home late every night after that painful evening in the living room. The sun greeted him home on Friday morning. Saffia had the choice to stay longer at the manor but she could not bear to cohabitate with him for another week. It was too much for her to contain.
She knew he felt justified to stay at Lisa’s apartment; after all the affair was now in the open. It puzzled Saffia how Lisa was able to just re-enter Michael’s life without a minute’s notice. She was almost certain that they were not together when they got married.
When did they get back together? Was she that bad of a wife for him to leave her for his ex? The questions weighed heavily on Saffia’s mind. They were questions that she could not answer right now. She had to arrange moving and setting up the apartment.
The apartment had become a haven for spiders and ants. Michael had purchased it through one of his real estate friends on a sweet deal five years ago and it had been locked up since then.
The walls needed fresh paint. Some of the electrical sockets and pipes needed to be repaired. Michael had arranged for the repairs to be done over the weekend the moment Saffia indicated her intention to leave by the end of the month.
The apartment was transformed within a few days. Michael paid for the furniture and appliances that she needed and had them delivered over the weekend. He obviously chose everything because Saffia had no say in the zebra print couch that was included in the batch of furniture.
The double door stainless steel refrigerator could hardly pass through the passage of the apartment. He had not realized that the size of this apartment was not very accommodating to large appliances.
Saffia managed to put everything in order. Ali’s room was painted in delicate pink. Her dolls and teddy bears were neatly arranged. She got matching pink furniture which appealed to her. Michael had not wanted her room to look much different from the one at Brady Manor. He also ensured that her gadgets were in place. Irrespective of his failing marriage, Michael loved Ali dearly and he spoiled her rotten.
Ali could not get over the size of the apartment and lamented bitterly about the size of her room at the manor when compared to this room.
“Mommy, are you going to get a bigger house soon?”
“Ali baby, I’m sorry but it will have to do for now”
Saffia could not fix the size of Ali’s room and focus on running this new department. There was so much to do and everything was different.
She would no longer have personal assistants to pay the bills and a decorator to co-ordinate the drapery.
There was no May to do the cooking and laundry and there was certainly no gardener. Saffia had to learn the art of independence; it was her starting over phase.
She needed her sister Annie at a time like this. Annie and their mom Sylvia lived together in a modest but lovely four bedroom home in Manchester. Saffia knocked down the one bedroom board house that was on the land that her mother inherited and built a brand new home from the ground up.
It took less than a year for the house to become a reality.
When Saffia came to Kingston to study, Annie stayed back in the country to look after their mother who had retired early. Annie followed in the footsteps of her mother and became a registered nurse. She worked at the public hospital in Mandeville and enjoyed a very simple life of work, church and raising a few chickens in the backyard.
Annie never liked the idea of Saffia marrying into this aristocratic Jamaican family. She would say “Saff, it is work to keep up in that type of family” or she would say Saff, you’re going to lose your hip and bottom with the food them people eat.”
They would always have a good laugh and although Annie had her inhibitions about the marriage, she supported her sister and loved her niece dearly.
“Hey, sis, I really need to see you, me and Ali were thinking about coming down this weekend.”
She felt as if she was begging to be invited to her own childhood home. Ali always went to see her grandmother and aunt but Saffia had not been home in two years and even though she sent a cheque every month, her mother longed to see her.
“Saff, of course, Mama would love to see you, I’m going to get someone to cover my shifts, so I’ll see you on Saturday.”
The weekend was spectacular, her mother was so happy to see her second born child.
“Saffia, you must not stay away so long or wait until there is a crisis, you come down here; I’m your mother so you’re always welcome home”
“I know Mama, but sometimes the workload is so heavy……
“And the marriage life is heavy too right?”…Sylvia interrupted
Saffia looked at her mother, who was always the wise mouth
“Don’t Mama me!”
“I know what’s going on baby girl, people talk you know.”
“Hold up your head, let him go if he wants to go, you’re better than that…it don’t matter how much money he or his family has, don’t let him strip you of your dignity.”
“I worked hard all by myself to raise you and your sister.”
“When your Daddy ran off to America with that woman and said he was going for a better life, I had asked myself, what could be better than staying here with me and your two daughters?”
“But I had to let him go, see he went and the woman left him and he died a pauper.”
“I heard they could hardly bury him.”
“And I am still here, with my two lovely daughters who I am very proud of.”
“So, if Mr. Brady wants to go, there’s no shame in letting him go and starting over….”
Saff was appreciative of the advice she received.
“Mama, I know but it hurts so much..”
“I know baby girl, but like a wound, you will heal.”
“Why don’t you just start over?”
“Oh Mama, I wish I could, when I built this house, it cost me over ten million dollars and that was all from my pocket, I’m practically broke and I’ve had so much said about me and this marriage over the years, what are people going to say when the former Mrs. Brady is out looking for a job?”
“Darling, I’m grateful for this house but we could sell it and use the money to start again, as long you’re happy.”
Saffia looked at her mother and a tear broke at the corner of her eye. Her mother looked so graceful and Saffia just could not believe that she stayed away so long. She always felt better when she saw her mother.
“Thanks Mama, I’m sorry for staying away so long, I promise I will visit more often and please don’t be crazy, we are not selling the house, I’ll be okay.”
“I’ll take on this new assignment and do my best and I’ll start over.”
That Saturday evening,a few of her childhood friends from the neighbourhood came over. They were excited to Saffia and while they sat on the verandah, they played dominoes and drank homemade ginger beer.
The weekend was a perfect and well needed getaway for Saffia and Ali. Saffia was bracing herself for the transformation that she was about to face.
Chapter IV –
Who’s the Boss?
Two months had quickly passed since the transfer and Saffia had moved into a new, less luxurious and notably smaller office in the marketing division. Her old office could have easily been compared to a bedroom. It housed two deluxe couches; there was also a mini bar, television set and a small refrigerator. Lisa had since taken it over and had it redecorated.
The Sales and Marketing division was a smaller department to manage when compared to the large staff complement that Saffia managed in Finance. She was now in charge of ten regional sales representatives, an assistant manager and an analyst. Rosie was also transferred to the division and remained as her assistant.
Saffia met with her assistant manager and reps and discussed her newness to the role and her expectations of each individual as she adjusted to the post.
The last person she met with was Andrew Bell, the business analyst.
Andrew had only been with Brady Industries a little over two years but he was thorough and impressed the board with his work. He was employed straight out of a top computer sales company in New York and his analytical expertise was critical to the new marketing design at Brady.
His analysis had been used to create new ideas across the company. Saffia would work closely with him for the next few months to develop the redesigning project aimed at increasing sales volumes.
“Do you prefer to be called, Mrs. Brady or Saffia?” that was the question he asked her during their first meeting.
“What do you want to call me?” Saffia asked.
“Well you’re the boss; some prefer first name and some like the title, what’s your preference?”
“I’ll leave that up to you, it’s no big deal for me.”
She could not help but blush when he spoke to her because she was sure he was flirting with her. Over the years and even since her separation from Michael. No other man employed at Brady Industries had ever been bold enough to say a remark that was deemed out of line to the boss’ wife.
Each moment that passed seemed to cut Saffia just a little deeper. The media had a field day with the drama as it unfolded right before her eyes. The office was abuzz with whispers in every corner. She had to witness Lisa and Michael as they showed their affections quite publicly.
They were both giving interviews about the pending merger and having dinners and lunch dates at the Corporate Suite every week.
Ali complained about not seeing her Dad as often and it became overwhelming. He would pick her up every weekend, and then it became every other weekend until it stood at one weekend per month.
Saffia immersed herself into the new task during the day; she worked until seven o’clock and got home just in time to put Ali to bed. Her new live-in housekeeper Mrs. Blake was very old fashioned but she was affordable and her maternal qualities were perfect.
At the office, she had to contend with Lisa’s opposition to approving new advertisements, promotions and sponsorships. Saffia knew that Lisa was doing this on purpose to evoke a negative reaction and she tried her hardest not give her the satisfaction until one Thursday afternoon; Saffia had enough of all the oppositions. This time, Lisa rejected payment for the breakfast programme at the children’s home.
“Where do you get off disapproving the cheque for St. Stephen’s Lisa?”
Saffia barged into Lisa’s office quite angry and frustrated.
“Quite simple, really, we don’t have it in the budget to feed them anymore” Lisa answered without looking up from the stack of papers in front of her.
“Listen, this isn’t about me, it’s about less fortunate children and Father B has sponsored this programme for many years”
“Well, why don’t you feed them Saint Saffia, since you’re sorry for them” she really did not care.
Saffia closed the door as they were getting loud.
“Listen to me, you narcissistic bitch! So you took my husband and my post and I have been quiet about it but when it comes to the job and the foundation that this company has lived by, you don’t get to screw that over.”
“Now what’s with the name calling?”
Lisa finally looked up from the files. “First of all you no longer sign on Brady Industries cheques.”
“So I’ll sign whichever cheques that the budget can carry,secondly Michael was only your husband on paper, but I had him before you got married, during your marriage and I’ll have him even after your marriage has ended….if he was not such a sap, you would have never gotten pregnant and there would have been no ring for you, just remember that…”
Saffia ignored Lisa’s latter comment. Over the years, she had gotten use to the Gossip Columns and her mother in law proclaiming Michael’s reasons for marrying her.
“You have no heart Lisa, using your words “quite simple” it’s because you don’t have a child and God may not bless you with any because you’re cruel.”
Lisa stood up to address the remark “A child does not define me or my worth Saffia and in case you have not noticed I don’t have Michael’s child yet and my bed is still warm with him in it.”
“You will get what you deserve in due time Lisa, you have hurt way too many people to not get what’s coming to you.”
“Whatever Saff, save that adage for the next time you visit your mother and then you and your country friends can have a ritual or whatever you people call it!”
“If you have a problem with my decision to reject the sponsorship approval, take it up with Michael, we don’t need to have these discussions!”
As Saffia decided whether or not to answer Lisa’s scathing remarks, Michael arrived at the door.
“Hey Saff, what’s the matter?”
“I can hear both of you screaming in the passage.”
“Michael, you know that we have contributed to the St. Stephen’s foundation for years, what do we tell Sister Mary-Elizabeth and all these children?”
“Saffia, Lisa says the budget is tight and we have had to cut back on these expenses to facilitate our new acquisition.”
“How could the budget be tight?”
“Michael, we are in the second quarter of the year, I left the financials in good order and we have cut every expense that we posiibly can.”
“We have stopped paying many of our sponsorships, we have even stopped buying adequate stationery supplies.”
“Why would the budget be tight?”
Lisa took the opportunity to respond to Saffia’s question.
“Saffia, it obviously means you weren’t doing a good job or you were overspending if you think that the financials were in good order.”
“Besides, the financial numbers are longer a concern of yours; your business is to get the sales numbers up so that we can be in a better position to feed your orphans.”
“You know what, do as you wish!”
“You’re right; it’s no concern of mine.” Saffia proceeded to leave and Michael finally decided to offer his piece.
“Saff, just have Rosie write a letter, I will co sign with you letting them know that due to financial constraints, we are forced to decrease the payments to the foundation.”
“I know how much these charities meant to Daddy and you of course, so I will approve a smaller payment.”
She nodded in agreement and wondered what potion Lisa could have concocted to have Michael so enthralled. What kind of spell was he under?
Michael proceeded to question Lisa about her apprehensiveness towards Saffia after she left the office.
“Regardless of how I feel about you Lisa, she is still the mother of my child and we are technically still married, the disrespect is not necessary.”
“Disrespect Michael!” she looked at him puzzled.
“Michael, are you shitting me right now?”
“She called me a narcissistic bitch; she started it so I just put her in her place.”
“Lisa, she is hurting so that’s going to come out.” Michael searched for empathy from his mistress.
“Why didn’t you just fire her and pay her off?” her hazel eyes seemed to turn red with the fury and contempt that she felt.
“You know Daddy would never allow that, as long as my father is alive and she hasn’t breached any policies, I could not let her go and you know that.”
He emphasized the high place that Saffia held in the eyes of his father even if he was divorcing her.
“You know what Michael, it was your sympathy for this country girl that had me on the back burner all these years and I refuse to stay there, so you had better hurry up and serve those divorce papers.”
Lisa was serious about her demands; she believed she had waited too long.
Michael reached over to Lisa and gave her a reassuring hug and kiss. “Lisa, I love you and you know that, I am working with Arthur to draft the divorce papers.”
“I’m trying to avoid a public spectacle; I have to protect Ali in all of this.”
Lisa sighed impatiently and looked through the window with deep thought.
“Michael, I’m nothing like Saffia nor will I ever be.”
“I know Lisa and you don’t have to be.” “Saffia is the beginning of my past and you are the beginning of my future.”
“We are going to take Brady to the next level and this is going to be great.”
“Babe, we have been doing this one foot in and one foot out drama far too long and you will get everything that you want.”
“Just in time.”
Those words were like sweet melody to Lisa’s ear. Reassurance was necessary for Lisa as long as the ink was not dry on the divorce papers.
“Now that’s the Michael Brady I love to hear.”
“It turns me on when you talk like that.” Lisa started to close the blinds and Michael closed the door.
He continued his reassuring role by asking Lisa’s assistant to hold her calls.
“So, Ms Bonher let me show you how much I want you.”
His right hand loosened the folds of her Donna Karan jacket; his left hoisted her skirt up to her buttocks. Lisa was enjoying every moment of it; an argument for her was appetizing build up to sex.
“You know this is a quickie right?”
“Yes, it’s always a quickie in the office Michael.” she teased.
Their afternoon lovemaking was interrupted by Liz Brady’s call which Lisa’s assistant was not allowed to hold.
“Mr. Brady, your mother says it’s important.”
He took the call and for a moment, the words he heard did not seem to connect.
“Mickey honey, Daddy is dead!”
……….The words revolved in his head and reality struck Michael. His father was his mentor, he taught him everything he knew and now he was gone.
He swallowed hard before he could reply to his weeping mother on the other end of the receiver.
“Mommy, when? How?”
“He died while in his sleep, the nurse said she came to check on him for the afternoon…..and there he was…Michael, he’s really gone, it’s too soon..”
Michael could hardly hear the complete sentences from his mother, she was still in shock.
It was expected that Father B would have passed but it was indeed soon. Although his mother appeared to be a tough woman, she loved her husband dearly and Michael just did not know how to comfort her when her life partner was no longer apart of the world they had built for almost forty years.
He had to tell Saff, she loved Father B dearly and he had accepted her like his own daughter. He was not pleased to hear about the situation between his son and Saff but he had been given a sugar coated story by the family. He was told that Saffia was the one who had decided to move on with her life and the divorce was mutual and amicable.
Liz Brady had said “He doesn’t need to worry about things he can’t change, let it be.”
Michael being the faithful son did as he was told and sold the pending divorce to his father the same way his mother and brothers did.
He buttoned up his shirt as Lisa tried to console him.
“Baby, I am here for you.”
“Would you like me to do the press release?”
Michael scratched his head. “Lisa that may not be such a good idea, the press already has me as the villain and you as the home wrecker; I’ll call Phillip or David to handle that part.”
Lisa agreed and requested human resources to do emails and memos to get the word around the company that its founder had died.
Michael did not want Saffia to see it in her inbox or hear it in the office. His father meant too much to her, so he decided to call her himself with the hope that she would take his call. He had inflicted another embarrassing blow on her earlier in the afternoon.
Saffia was meeting at an advertising agency going over the billboard ads for the summer. Her cell phone rang out as she exited the building.
“Yes Michael, I will drop of Ali tomorrow.” Saffia answered his call assuming that it had to be about Ali coming over on Friday.
“Saff, Daddy died this afternoon.”
“Oh my God! No! Was he that ill Michael?” Saffia exclaimed with profound sadness.
“Yeah, apparently it was worse than we thought; I was supposed to go see him today.”
“Michael, I am so sorry….”she immediately broke down in tears.
“I am heading back to the manor now, my mother did not sound too good on the phone, so I will talk to you later, please tell Ali for me.”
“Yes Michael, that’s ok, I’ll tell her.”
As she ended the call and walked to her car sobbing, she thought to herself how much of a good man Michael senior was and how good he was to her. Ali loved her grandfather dearly and breaking the news to her would be a challenge.
Saffia went home early that evening and told Ali of the sad news. Ali was very upset and she started to reveal everything she was feeling.
“Mommy, what’s going to happen again?”
“First you and Daddy broke up, now Grandpa is gone…..”
“I am so sad Mommy.”
“Sweetie, I am sorry about all of this and I wish I could take your sadness away but we just have to be very strong right now.”
“Things like this happen all the time Ali in every family, it’s just for a while and you will feel happy again soon.”
Saffia hugged her daughter and tried to comfort her as best as a mother could. The separation had done its damage to Ali and Saffia was not healed from the torture of watching the family fall apart.
Chapter IV –
Over one thousand persons attended Father B’s funeral. St. Stephen’s had to host the ceremony on the lawns to accommodate the large crowd. The outdoor venue was decorated with white roses and pictures of Father B were put up at the podium area. There were several tents that were set up and designated for politicians, dignitaries and socialites. The media was in full attendance as this event would be a headliner for all the major tabloids.
Saffia was ushered to the front, even after declining to be seated in the area designated for family. Liz Brady would not allow her outgoing daughter-in-law to be seated at the back as long she held the Brady name. Phillip and Donna sat with Saffia. Ali chose to sit with her grandmother along with David and his new much younger and very white American girlfriend.
It was no surprise that Lisa and Michael were the last persons to be seated in the family area. It must have taken Lisa at least two hours to dress in the white Jackie Onassis inspired jacket and skirt ensemble with a hat that seemed to cover the entire church grounds. The moment they arrived at the church, the photographers went into frenzy.
Donna whispered to Saffia “Well, we don’t have to ask if the Lady of the Manor has arrived”
Saffia cracked a smile in agreement.
“Saff, I never got to tell you how sorry I am about everything that has happened and at no point in time have I ever agreed with Michael’s move.”
“I know Donna.”
“That’s okay, I have been hurting but I will get by.”
“My mother and sister have been very supportive.” It means a lot to me that you have always reached out to me D”
Donna held Saffia’s hand closely and whispered
“You know if you ever need to beat that bitch down though, I’m here.”
They both laughed out almost forgetting that they were at a funeral.
The programme was lengthy. Everyone who was anyone gave a tribute in speech, song or scripture. It was a funeral well deserved for a man who served the private sector and his country well.
His body was returned to the parlour after the service for cremation, but a huge gathering was held at Brady Manor after the ceremony. That venue would also be another media hot spot. Saffia did not attend the function. She could not handle the media and all the photos that would be taken. She allowed Ali to attend and stay for the weekend.
The apartment was empty without Ali’s laughter, so Saffia decided to go back to the office and complete some work.
The rumour mill at Brady Industries had gone into low volume as everyone had started to accept the new changes. Andrew had become Saffia’s right hand. They worked late nights and weekends for in an effort to get Saffia up to date with the marketing strategies. She had several meetings with Ad agencies and sponsorship cheques needed to be paid. It was difficult to sit through management meetings as Lisa now sat in her old chair right across from Michael and they openly flirted at the table. Father B’s chair was left empty; he would have been there to smile at her right before her presentations. Andrew was present at several of these meetings to assist with the analytical presentations and Saffia saw him a God sent. She was also finding herself attracted to him.
Andrew was at least six feet tall with remarkable good looks. Michael was the only man in Saffia’s eyes for so many years and it seemed strange to find another man so attractive moreover her incumbent. She caught herself staring at his defined muscles as he stood outside her office one Saturday morning. He was not in his usual office attire and she got the chance to see every inch of his well toned body in his jeans and white tee shirt.
While working late one evening, Andrew decided to break the monotony of the office and he made a bold request.
“Saffia, why don’t we go over by the Suite and finalize the presentation for Wednesday’s meeting?”
“I don’t know how that would look Andrew, it might send the wrong message.”
“Besides, I haven’t been to that place in months.” I’d like to keep it that way.”
“Thanks for the offer though.”
Andrew was not satisfied and he continued..
“Are you going to roll over and die, while he carries on with his life?”
Saffia removed her reading glasses and looked up at him with stern surprise. Andrew bent his lips wondering to himself
“What did I just say?”
“Excuse me!” Saffia exclaimed and knitted her brows. She was astonished by his forwardness.
“You are way out of line.”
“Because we are on a first name basis and I crack a smile with you every now and then doesn’t give you the right to say anything about my personal life.”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Brady.”
“Just that I hate the fact to see such a beautiful and bright woman like you wither away.”
“Forgive me, but Michael Brady is a fool……”
“This minute I want you to stop…this conversation is over and you are not to bring this up again.”
“How dare you?”
Andrew widened his eyes as Saffia unveiled her defence against him. Perhaps he approached her the wrong way, perhaps it was too soon.
“Listen we can finish this tomorrow, I’m too upset to finish up tonight.”
He clearly could not say anything else because she was still hurting.
“Ok Saffia, I am sorry to have upset you.”
“Just go Andrew….just go…”
He took up the stack of files and left her office without another word.
She closed the door behind him and she hollered at her desk. She was not ready to hear anyone speak of the situation between her and Michael. Saffia completely forgot about her affections for Andrew when she threw him out of her office.
On Tuesday, Saffia avoided Andrew throughout the entire day. Her requests went through Rosie and he made the same moves sending back files to her office through the clerks.
Andrew had been developing strong feelings for Saffia. The long hours had drawn him close to her. He knew she was feeling him too but the stress of the new job and the pending divorce was much too overwhelming for her.
By the end of the week, Saffia opened her door one morning to be greeted by a dozen red roses on her desk. It was not out of the norm for a female senior manager to receive gifts but to receive flowers meant it was from a lover, a spouse or possibly an admirer. Saffia hurriedly closed the door to look at the card.
I’m sorry a dozen times over
There was no name, could it have been Michael? He never sent roses to her during their marriage. Why would he do that now?
She called Rosie to inquire who had brought the flowers.
“Mrs. B, I don’t know, I came in to get your coffee mug this morning and they were there.”
“If I got these, I wouldn’t care who they were from, it’s not every day you get roses.”
“All is well as long they are not from a woman.”
“Rosie! You’re so bad” Rosie always found the humour in any situation.
“Can you DISCREETLY find out if my husband sent these?” I have a hunch who might have sent them if they aren’t from him.”
“Ok, no problem.”
Saffia drank her coffee looking at the red roses placed on her desk thinking to herself that Andrew could have sent the roses but deeply knew that Michael had so much to be sorry for. Maybe he had come to his senses; maybe his father’s death had done something to him.
Her “maybe” thoughts were interrupted by Rosie’s call confirming that the flowers were not ordered by Michael. Slightly disappointed, Saffia thanked Rosie and hung up.
She called Andrew at his extension.
He answered within the first ring
“I hope you like roses, I wasn’t sure, and I thought to myself every girl loves roses.”
Saffia thought this guy was so ahead of himself but she was blushing.
“First of all I’m not a girl, I’m a grown woman.”
“Secondly yes,the roses are lovely.”
“YES!” Andrew was delighted with her approval. “I’m really sorry for being out of line the other evening and I would really like to make it up.”
There was a pause on the line and he decided to clarify his idea of what he meant by making up.
“Well, definitely I will not invite you to the Corporate Suite; I was thinking Friday we could go for a drive to a very secluded spot.”
“Away from the prying eyes.”
“Ok Andrew, I’ll go with you.”
“Remember to tweak the presentation for this afternoon.
“And thanks again for the roses, they are lovely.”
The presentation went well at the meeting and the approval was given to start the new ad campaign. Saffia was elated; it was the first accomplishment she had attained since working in the marketing post. She had Andrew to thank for most of it.
She met with Andrew in her office after the meeting to thank him.
“Andrew, I could not have done this without you.”
“Thanks for all the extra effort that you have put into this.”
“Saffia, you have yourself to thank also, you put a lot of work into this presentation as well.”
“You can congratulate me when this new campaign brings in the volumes we budgeted for.”
Saffia replied “That’s true but I am confident we will achieve them.”
They embraced each other in the professional manner that they had grown accustomed to over the past four months. Something was different about this hug, the professional feeling had disappeared and new found feeling of intimacy was unleashed between them both.
Saffia did not object to the pleasure of his kiss. She kissed him back, deeply and intensely before suddenly realizing where they were. She pulled away from him and tried to pull herself together.
“We can’t do this Andrew, I can’t do this.” She was apologetic for leading him on.
“It’s okay Saffia; once again, I am getting ahead of myself.”
“Sorry about that.”
“It’s okay Andrew, I didn’t stop you, so I’m equally at fault.”
“We’ll talk in the morning.” “It’s been a long day; we both need to get some rest.”
“Yeah we do.” Saffia agreed.
As he opened the door, she called out to him.
“Andrew, I still want to go on Friday.”
He smiled and said “Ok, I look forward to it.”
As he left that night, Saffia could not help but reminisce on the kiss she shared with Andrew. She could no longer deny the budding feelings she had to herself or to Andrew.
She spoke to herself “It’s just a kiss Saff, you’re a woman, he’s a man and things like this happen all the time between a man and a woman.”
That night it rested heavily on her mind as she tried to dismiss the thought that she had grown extremely fond of this young man so quickly. Was it too soon to have this attraction for another man? She was not over Michael, the divorce was not finalized and she did not want to open another door without closing this one.
Chapter V –
Dinner and a Movie
Saffia had asked Andrew to pick her up at home that Friday evening and she was ready by 6 o clock. Andrew bought jerk food on the way up and parked at a cozy spot in the hills overlooking the city.
It was a quiet journey up the hill and Saffia felt that she had to say something to break the silence. Andrew was not sure how to start the conversation, so to be safe, he remained silent. He did not want to risk getting her upset.
“So, do you come here often Andrew?”
“Yeah, I do but mostly alone, it’s a nice spot to sit and think.”
“There’s no one to bother you.”
“And there’s usually no service, so you don’t have to worry about a ringing cell phone.”
The area was enchanting and Saffia could not stop looking at the lights.
“It’s my first time here.”
“I’ve heard about the location but I have always been so busy and never quite found the time.”
“Michael was always afraid of secluded spots, so we never went to places like this.”
Andrew was feeling relieved thus far that they had started a real conversation. He wanted the flow to continue.
“So what do you want to talk about, or we don’t have to talk at all, we can just eat and look at the city lights.”
Saffia liked his modesty and patience.
She quickly found a topic.
“Andrew, I didn’t reply to what you said that night in the office because I didn’t know how to.”
“Saff..That’s ok, we are past that…….”
“No Andrew, you were right, I have played dead all these months because that’s exactly how I have felt.”
“I have felt numb from defeat, embarrassment and total failure.”
“I didn’t want my marriage to fail.”
“He gave me a fairy tale wedding and opportunity for a different life.”
“And in a moment’s notice, everything vanished.”
“Even though deep down, I knew our marriage wasn’t perfect, it’s still so hard to get past the loss of everything.”
Andrew hugged her closely to console her.
“I don’t want your pity Andrew; Michael pitied me all these years.”
“I don’t want another man’s pity.”
Andrew held her face.
“Saff, you don’t need pity, you have never needed it.”
Their conversation shifted gear and went from her growing up in Manchester to her time at Mary Seacole Hall to him spending time in the US Navy and going to college in New York.
For Saffia, Andrew’s time in the navy explained his decency and willingness to please and the perfectionist side of him.
They were so deep into the conversation and they had not realized two hours had swiftly passed.
“Saffia, I would love to see you again.”
“I want to take you on a date, a date that teenagers go on.”
Saffia laughed out hard. She had not laughed like that in months.
“Are you serious Andrew?”
“What kind of date is that?”
He laughed and replied.
“A dinner and a movie date or maybe an ice cream date.”
“Andrew, I haven’t had that in….well forever.”
“My point exactly, that’s why we need to go.” Andrew was convincing and Saffia needed to get out every chance that she had.
“Ok, but we have to do it the following weekend, my mother and sister will be visiting next weekend.”
Her period was also going to be visiting her that weekend and there was no way she would go out on a movie date while on that visit.
“We are doing this on your terms Saffia, so whenever you’re ready.” Andrew was enjoying her company and he did not want to do anything to spoil it.
“That’s okay for me too, I will be away next week; I have to go to New York for a family emergency so I leave on Sunday.”
“It’s just for a week, so I’ll be back by the following Sunday.”
Saffia was curious to ask him more about this family emergency but she thought it was too soon to pry.
They closed the evening agreeing to have just one hug and zero kisses.
Saffia missed Andrew that week in the office. She knew his presence captivated her because it was almost as if she was slowly beginning to ignore Lisa and Michael’s public affections. She could not wait to see him.
The week went by slowly and when the weekend finally arrived, Saffia was relieved. She shopped with Ali at the supermarket picking up grocery items for Annie to cook.
“I can’t believe I am cooking.” Annie complained.
“Hello, I am the visitor here.”
And their mother would remind her why Annie had to cook.
“Annie, remember I want to live long enough to meet the grandchild you are going to give me.”
Saffia did not mind the jab because she knew her cooking skills were way below par. She loved food but she was never required to cook back home or at Brady Manor, so she never took it seriously.
They had a great Sunday dinner. Annie made potato salad, oxtail and beans, rice and peas with a delightful drink combination of carrots and june plums.
Saffia was ecstatic “Annie, this is heavenly.” She commended her sister while she sucked on the oxtail bone.
“You need to send me dinner every week.”
Ali corrected her “Mommy, Auntie Annie needs to send food every day.”
Saffia smirked “Thanks sell out.”
That evening, Saffia told Annie about how she was feeling about Andrew.
“He sounds really nice Saff, but don’t you think you’re venturing in deep waters.”
“I mean he works at the same office of your husband, mind you your husband that owns the company.”
“Annie, we are getting divorced and Andrew makes me happy at least for now.”
“What would you have me do then?”
“Drink my sorrows away or start taking some narcotics.”
“Saff, that’s not what I meant.”
“I am just saying you have to tread carefully, and make sure his intentions are right.”
“With everything that has gone on with your marriage.”
“I don’t want you to make the same mistake.”
“Annie, you were right about me marrying Michael.”
“Is that what you want me to tell you?”
“Wise Annie, you were right.”
“And maybe you are right about Andrew, but for the time being, he fits me and I don’t know what I am doing.”
I am not afraid to say that, but I just want my big sister to be happy for me in the moment.”
“These past few months have been rough for me and Andrew has been nothing but nice to me.”
Annie embraced her sister and assured her that only her happiness matters.
“I’m sorry if I made you feel that way sis, I didn’t mean to.”
“Well, I hope you get everything you desire from him because you deserve it.”
“I hope so too.”
“Annie, please don’t tell Mommy just yet, let’s see where it goes first.”
Andrew returned home that Sunday night and his first local call was to Saffia.
“Hey you, how was your trip?”
“It was okay.”
“How about your visit with your mom and sister?”
“Oh Andrew, it was good as always. We had so much fun and laughs.”
“Good, well I will see you tomorrow at work.”
“I missed you a lot.”
Saffia missed him too but felt that she was not ready to tell him that just yet.
“Yes, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
The week came and went and the Saturday evening movie date arrived. Saffia had gotten so accustomed to cocktail parties and corporate mingles, it almost become nauseating. This evening was perfect, she swopped the little black dress for an H&M black sequin top with blue skinny jeans. The sparkling black slipper and throw over bag jazzed up the outfit. She felt youthful and almost as if she had missed her twenties for a brief moment.
There was that masculine cologne that approached her as she stood outside her car, it was Andrew’s scent. That cologne he wore was seduction in itself, it haunted every thought she had of Andrew in the past few weeks.
“Hi beautiful” he smiled and looked at her from head to toe. “This is different, no suits, no heels, no hair let down…..I like, I like.”
“You could wear this to work on Monday, I could get used to this.”
Saffia could not help but break a smile…”You’re too much Andrew, I bet you tell that to every 20 something girl that you date.”
“No, why would you say that? He looked at her as he tried to understand her insecure response.
“I’m sorry, I should be saying thank you, instead I am being a snob, I can’t help that sometimes…I feel a little old and it’s been a while since I’ve been in the company of a man to compliment me.”
For Andrew, she could not have been any more radiant and she was nothing like any other twenty something girl that he had ever been with. She was smart, intelligent and classy.
“Well, Ms Brady, let’s go, shall we? I got us box office seats.”
They entered the theatre which was filled with young couples and teenagers strolling in to find their respective cinema. Andrew selected a comedy, which was perfect. It was not too serious that would have bored Saffia to death and definitely not a romance flick.
During the movie, Saffia was thinking about the Andrew’s invitation to his apartment after their movie date. It was tempting and she knew that the chemistry was building up between them. She was certain she could go to her car, possibly kiss him goodnight and be on her merry way home.
As they walked back to Saffia’s car after the movie, Andrew put his arms around her and the probability of her kissing and saying goodnight seemed less likely to occur at this stage.
“Saffia, I can’t explain the feelings that I’m not supposed to be having”
“Then don’t have them, she interrupted. I’m still very married and I don’t want to do anything to upset the process of this divorce. She could not stare him in the face and tell him that. He would not believe her.
That kiss in her office two weeks ago evoked a thirst that had to be quenched.
“Let’s do ice cream as we planned,” he was so cute when he begged and how could she say no to him? She could not lie to herself; she was very attracted to Andrew and her body ached for the touch of a man, not any man but this gentleman that took her out to the movies.
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