Annette played nervously with the hem of her skirt and glanced occasionally at her lawyer. They had decided a few days ago that it would be Annette’s best interest if she found somewhere more permanent to live, and more specifically not with her council. She was hesitant to call Sophia, but she had no one else to turn to. To her relief, Sophia came to pick her up right away without hesitation. Now it was time for her to focus on proving her innocence.
Lydia clicked through some files on her laptop, pensively rubbing her chin every so often. Finally, she leaned back in her chair and smiled at Annette.
“I think we’re ready to go to trial,” she grinned. “I just received an email from the clerk’s office, and Mr. Prah’s lawyer has filed a motion to have this case fast tracked. He wants to have an emergency hearing.”
“Can he do that?” asked Annette anxiously.
“Of course he can!” laughed Lydia. “He’s just banking on us not being ready.”
“When do we appear in court?”
“In five days.”
Annette blew out a long, slow breath and looked out of the window, searching for some phantom savior to magically appear. Lydia clicked her tongue disapprovingly at her.
“Have you been honest with me about everything?” she asked, staring gravely at Annette over the rim of her glasses.
“Yes! Of course…”
“Then you have nothing to worry about,” she said, rising from her desk. “Come with me. We’re going out for lunch.”
“I thought you said attorneys and clients shouldn’t mingle so casually.”
“And we’re not,” replied Lydia. “It’s a working lunch. There’s something I want you to see.”
The two women walked to a road side kiosk and sat on a bench. Lydia brought over some roasted plantains and groundnuts and handed them to Annette, who looked at the fare curiously.
“Not very high class lawyer food, is this?” she sniffed.
“High class? No,” agreed Lydia. “But it has all the essentials you will ever need – protein and carbohydrates. Plus, it’s easily portable, and won’t stain your clothes. All this “designer” food that people are so obsessed with is terribly bad for you…fried rice and chicken and such.”
Lydia threw and handful of roasted nuts into her mouth and chewed vigorously. Annette waited politely for her to say something else, but she never did. She cleared her throat to get Lydia’s attention. She was looking in the distance, fixated on something – or someone.
“Did you bring me out here to have a conversation about culinary preferences?” she asked.
Lydia ignored her question.
“You see that girl over there…the one in the blue floral dress and short hair?”
Annette strained to find the child in question among the crowd of people milling about. Finally she spotted her, carrying a tray of bananas on her head.
“Yes. I see her. What about her?”
Lydia bit into a piece of plantain.
“I used to buy bananas from her all the time. You can’t tell from here, but she’s very pretty. She’s smart, and hardworking.”
Annette took stock of the child, who minutes ago just blended in with the masses of faceless people crowding the street.
“She told me that she wanted to go to school, and she couldn’t go to school until she had sold all her fruit,” Lydia continued. “Someone obviously made her that promise. So every day, I would come and buy all her bananas in hopes that I wouldn’t see her the next day. But every day, I would pass this road on the way in to work and there she would be, with even more bananas, until I realized I was doing her harm.”
“It became obvious that the more fruit she sold, the more her family would pile on her head to support them. She will never go beyond a class three education, and she will never live a life worthy of her hopes and dreams.”
Annette chewed absently on her groundnuts, empathizing with the young street seller. How sad must this girl’s life be?
“You’re not much different from the street seller, you know.”
“Yes,” continued Lydia. “To this day, you have let other people control your destiny and have handed over your future without a fight. Even if we win this court case against Mr. Prah, you will find yourself in the same or a similar situation again. There are a thousand Mr. Prah’s waiting to take advantage of you. The difference between you and this little girl is that you are an adult. You have the power to do something about it…you just have refused to until now. It is time for you to become a full woman, otherwise all my work will be in vain.”
Annette opened her mouth to object, but closed it. She quickly realized that Lydia was right and it would be wrong for her to argue with her.
“Do you ever buy bananas from the little girl?”
Lydia shook her head. And spoke quietly.
“No. I seem to have developed a strong disliking for bananas.”
Afosua arrived at Tony’s doorstep as the sun was going down. Dressed in a simple shirt dress, she wasn’t trying to make much of an impression. She was distraught over Naa Akweley’s departure and ready to vent all her fury on the most obvious target: Mr. Boakye.
Tony smiled and welcomed her in.
“Do you still have the files?” she asked.
“Yes, right here,” he said unlocking his brief case and handing it to her.
“Did you look over them?”
“Yes, I did,” said Tony. “I needed to know whatever it is that had you so upset. I have to confess that I am bit concerned about what I saw.”
“And why is that?”
“Something in the terminology just seemed familiar. I couldn’t figure it out until I realized -”
“What?” said Afosua, holding her breath.
“ – until I realized that this was the same prospectus format used at Phillips & Boakye.”
Afosua looked at Tony. He was frowning broodily.
“Oh my God. Is someone at P&B involved in something illegal?” he blurted suddenly.
“I believe they are,” confirmed Afosua. “Either illegal or unethical, and I have to find out which.”
“Phillips & Boakye have been a client of mine for a long time,” said Tony darkly. “I have always known them to be ethical. If someone is doing something to ruin that reputation, I’m going to help you unearth it.”
Afosua could hardly believe her ears. She had taken a huge leap of faith in trusting Tony. He knew that something was wrong at the company, but how would he react when he found out that one of the owners was the culprit? She buried her face in his chest, relieved to share at least part of this burden with someone. He lifted her chin and caressed her cheek.
“Hey. I told you before you left. Whatever I can do to help you, I will.”
She kissed him softly in thanks. He returned the gesture with gentle care, realizing that the weight of her discovery must have been brutal for her. Despite her often brusque behavior, he could tell that she wanted affection. He smiled with the knowledge that he was slowly winning his battle to give it to her and rocked her gently in his muscular arms.
“Will you make love to me?” she whispered.
“Of course,” he murmured.
Tony lifted her curvy frame and carried her to his home office. Something about the whir of a sleeping laptop always made their sex better. Afosua allowed herself to be plied in his skilled hands as he undressed them both. He smelled like soap and aftershave, and Afosua was heady in the scent of him. She sighed loudly when he began to suck her nipples, coaxing them until they stood at erect peaks. She had truly missed him while she was away, and the realization that they were alone, undisturbed and together sent a violent surge of wetness through her. She took command, manipulating him into a sitting position on his office chair. She slid onto his massive erection, lifting her hips slightly and rhythmically until they were both glistening with sweat and the room was filled with the heavy musk of their lovemaking. Tony slid his hands beneath her soft buttocks, spreading them faintly so that he could go deeper in her. To faint change in tempo caused Afosua to cum quickly. She began to sob quietly and rested her head on his dark shoulders.
“It’s okay, my love,” Tony whispered, rubbing the small of her back. “It’s okay.”