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Episode 4 ?❤

Adaora fell back on the bed, wondering what had just happened between the two of them. Trying not to overanalyze the situation, she hopped out of bed and slipped into the shower.

She dressed quickly and headed down to the main floor. She headed for the exhibition hall but found that it didn’t open for another two hours.
Not wanting to go back to her room, and not really wanting any time to think, she dug out some naira notes from her purse and decided to find some mindless entertainment on the casino floor.

When 10:00 rolled around, she cashed out and headed in to rest.
Sometime later, Adaora waited for Clifford near the Café. He was right on time and the two shared an awkward lunch.
Neither of them knew what to say as if both expected the other to start the conversation.

Clifford seemed distant, and Adaora felt like she had unconsciously put up a wall between them, too. They walked around for a little while but didn’t even hold hands.

He excused himself to head back to the conference seminars. Adaora checked her watch and then went off to take care of some business.
She was pacing when Clifford returned to their room. What she had done that afternoon would either make him very, very happy, or it would make him very, very angry.

When he came through the door, he had a puzzled look on his face.
“Hi,” he said, trying to figure out what was going on.
Adaora smiled at him, trying not to fidget.

She knew he half-expected her to greet him naked, just like he asked the day before, but she was wearing a nice pants suit and looking all business.

“Sit down,” she said, immediately wishing she had found a different way to say it. A look of dread crossed Clifford’s face, even though he wasn’t sure what the bad news was.

He set his things down on the desk and then sat on the couch. Adaora continued to pace back and forth.

“So what’s up?” he asked, wanting to get it over with.

“I’ve done something without your permission,” she said quietly. He took that pretty well. Some other guys might have started yelling, but Clifford was at least going to hear her out.

“Like what?”

“I bought you some things for your restaurant.” She steeled herself for the inevitable explosion.

There was a flash of anger in his eyes, but he remained calm. “Okay. What did you buy?”

“Well, I didn’t actually buy anything.” She went over to the desk and picked up a stack of papers. “But I pretty much committed you to buying all your stuff.”

Clifford started looking through the printouts and brochures as she handed them to him a few at a time. Ovens. Stoves. Fire-suppression equipment. Dish-washers.

“Where did you get all this?”

“They loaned me a computer and a printer.” Adaora pointed to the desk. When he came in, he hadn’t noticed the monitor, keyboard, mouse, and laser printer on top of it, nor the desktop tower on the floor.

“Don’t you have to pay to rent all this stuff?” he asked.
“Um … usually,” she stammered. “But they’re loaning this to me for free. I’ll tell you about that later.”

She directed his attention back to the printouts.
“I did some research and checked with a couple of the other vendors down in the exhibition hall. This is the best stuff available for the money.”

“How did you learn about all this?” he asked, curiosity momentarily displacing his anger.

“Lovely thing, the internet,” she said.

“Don’t we have to pay for that, too?” He looked at her bewilderedly.

“Focus, Clifford,” she said.

“I went back to see the guys at TGR and flirted with Chris and Ken. They’re going to sell all this stuff to you for #95,000. Do you like pizza?”

“Do I … what? Yes.” Clifford looked even more confused. “You spent #95,000 of my money?”

“Ninety-four, nine eighty-seven, to be exact. That doesn’t include delivery, though. I didn’t actually spend it, but I gave them a written commitment that if you bought it from anyone, it would be them.”

“Did you check with anyone else? Or maybe with me?” his voice was getting louder. Adaora had a feeling it would come to this, and she really couldn’t blame him.

“I did … Check with some other people, I mean,” she handed him another printout.
He stared in disbelief at the newest printout, a spreadsheet showing an itemized breakdown of all the equipment from a couple of different vendors. She pushed another one into his hands.

“I did some more research on the internet, and the retail cost of everything individually is around hundred and twenty thousand naira. Plus delivery.”

His jaw dropped. Maybe this wasn’t going to be as bad as she thought.
There was one final paper that Clifford needed to see. It was a bid sheet. Adaora’s name was signed at the bottom.

“They need a #50,000 deposit this week, but they can deliver any time,” she said softly.

“How did—” Clifford was at a loss for words.

Adaora smiled at him.

Clifford looked again at the papers, letting it all sink in. She had just saved him over #10,000 and an afternoon of haggling with vendors. Not to mention a stack of research that he no longer had to do himself.

The anger was long gone from his face. It was replaced by disbelief.
“How did you get them to come down 10k on all this stuff?” he asked.

“They didn’t,” Adaora replied with a wicked grin. “I negotiated the price of each piece individually. Ken and Chris spent the better part of an hour staring at my cleavage and didn’t add it up until we got to the final tally.”

Very slowly, his face opened into a big smile. Clifford stood and gave Adaora a big hug. He lifted her off the ground and spun her around, laughing with joy.

She hugged him back, happy to have done a good job at something that didn’t involve spreading her legs for someone else’s pleasure.
Happier, still that she had pleased Clifford.

Her boss pulled back and planted a big sloppy kiss on her lips. She was eager to kiss him back. She got the feeling that he was about to trip her right there when a knock came on the door.

“Who is—” he asked.

“Room service,” Adaora said with a slight smile. She wiggled out of his arms and smoothed out the wrinkles in her clothes.

He went to the door. Two stewards were in the hallway. They wheeled a cart into the room. With practiced efficiency, they set up the cart near the couch and laid out drinks.
Clifford slipped the pair one thousand naira note each and watched in amazement as Adaora finished setting up their dinner on the table.

“I don’t know what you like, so I had them send up a little bit of everything,” There were half a dozen ceramic serving plates each displaying a wide variety of rice; white, fried, and jollof. There was even a square lacquered bowl with some meats and fried fish. They also brought a couple of salads, some steaming-hot soup, sauce for the rice, and fufu.

I just hope you ain’t salivating.. Lol.

Quite simply, Clifford was stunned. He had no idea how resourceful his companion was, but at that moment, he was the most thankful man on the planet.
Adaora set the plates on the table, then threw some of the pillows from the couch on the floor. She sat Clifford down next to her and the two dug into the meal.

“I thought maybe you had heard of a nice place to go visit,” he said, taking a long sip from his soup bowl.
Adaora smiled. “I wanted to stay in tonight.”

The two of them picked their way through the meal, feeding each other and sharing the dishes.

“How did you arrange this little dinner?” Comfort asked, slipping a small slice of meat into Adaora’s mouth with his chopsticks. “I don’t even remember seeing bush meat in the casino.”

“If you make friends with the right people, they can get just about anything here.” Adaora picked up a piece of “roundabout meat” and dropped it onto Clifford’s plate.

“And just who are the right people?”

“Nneoma, the pit boss over at the craps tables, has been very good to us.”

“How much time have you been spending with other men?” Clifford asked teasingly.

“She is very nice,” Adaora giggled. “That’s how we got the use of the computer and this magnificent feast.”

“Is that what you’re doing with all your free time?”

“That and buying commercial kitchen equipment.”

“How are you doing?”

It took her a second to add up all the numbers in her head. “I’m sixty thousand down at the slot machines.

“Pass me that plate with the salad on it,” Clifford said. “You’ve lost sixty thousand naira and they’re buying us dinner?”

“No,” Adaora replied. “I’m up almost forty thousand at the craps table and I’m up about.. um, at blackjack,” she said not recalling the exact number.

Clifford nearly choked on the bite in his mouth. “You’re up forty-six thousand naira
“How did you manage that?” he asked when he could breathe again.

“I haven’t always been in the restaurant business,” she replied with a wink.

“Really,” he said. “How is it that in two days you can make almost fifty thousand naira? It’s not like casinos are in business to give money away.”

“No, they’re certainly not,” Adaora greed. “The trick is finding which games have the lowest house advantage and not being cocky. Pass the salad, please.”

“So you’ve been playing craps and blackjack.”

“And slots.”

“And slots. Don’t tell me you just learned Lagos table games this week,” Clifford said incredulously.

“Of course not,” she snorted softly. “Dad used to play poker with his friends once a week. He taught me how to play all sorts of games, count cards and do the math in my head. Card games are all about statistics, probability, and patience.”

“What about craps?”

“I was bored and got on a hot streak,” she shrugged and flashed him a lucky smile.

“Don’t tell me this is the casino’s reward for you taking their money.”

“Not quite,” Adaora finished the last bit of salad on a plate and set it aside. “This is their way of rewarding me for giving them the opportunity to take my money, and they hope it will entice me to come back and give them a chance to win their money back and take a little bit more from me.”

“You’re an amazing woman, Adaora,” he breathed softly.

“Thank you.”

Her heart skipped a beat. The way he was looking made her stomach flutter. He was appreciating her, not what she could do for him, not for how pretty she looked, but just for being herself.

“For what?”

“You’ve saved me over ten thousand naira today.” He stopped for a moment, unsure of what to say. He smiled instead. “And you bought me dinner. I guess this means I’m yours tonight.”

They laughed.

“To you,” he said, raising his cup of drink.

“To us,” she replied. Their cups clinked together and they downed the liquid
Soon, they were both full. It was still early, but neither of them really wanted to go out. Clifford turned the television on while she went into the bedroom and changed.

She came out in a nightie that was neither frumpy nor risqué. She sat down next to Clifford on the couch and rested her head on his shoulder.

To be continued…
Frank The Writer

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