'Hi, long time...how are you? Come, let me introduce you to my wife.'Reluctantly following his lead, after acknowledging his greetings.
'Sweetheart, meet Claire, a friend of mine. In fact, she's the one I last dated before I met you. Claire, meet my beautiful wife.'
Ok, that hurt. That really hurt. I thought he'd just wanted to do a simple intro, but I could see he was only gloating. I took it all in and gave my brightest smile.
'Claire, nice to meet you. I hope you are doing great?'
After we'd exchanged pleasantries, I walked towards my office, but not before Charles made a hand gesture and mouthed inaudibly, that he would call me.
Hmmm...I couldn't be less bothered about his call. What was he going to say anyway?
I was already in bed, getting ready to turn in for the day. I reached for my phone to switch it off and the call came in.
'Claire baby, how are ...'
'Who is Claire baby?' Cutting in.
The effrontery of this man!
'Ah, ah...are you not my baby anymore? Just because things didn't work out between us, doesn't make you less my baby. You know that...'
I cut the call and switched off the phone. I wasn't ready to listen to this foolish talk and have some trash spoil my mood before I sleep.
A week later, I saw the mail.
My heart skipped several beats as I gazed into my phone. I looked at munched chats I had had with Charles, when the going was still good. When I had thought that this was it. This was my soul mate, my confidant, my lover, my knight in shinning armour. The one.
I had decided to stick to the rules and make our relationship a model, a case study for all intending couples, on how to make your relationship a success.
That was not to be the case.
This was pure blackmail. I couldn't believe what I was looking at! It took me several minutes to even realise what I was reading. It became more real when I saw my name and my picture on the chat. There was no denying it, this was me in that chat.
My mind raced back to that day, that fateful day, that I had met and courted with the devil.
Mr. Rasheed had been stalking me. I had bumped into him, while coming into the office, that morning.
I had sat across him at Iya Oyo restaurant, where I usually go for lunch.
I had stood at the bus stop with him, after work, as I was heading home.
During lunch the following day, he had sat with me on the same table and it was after he paid for my lunch that he finally got my attention. Not because I was interested in him, but because I was merely trying to be nice to someone who had paid for my lunch.
I shouldn't have allowed him pay.
I shouldn't have allowed him walk me out.
I shouldn't have allowed him ask me so many questions.
This became a usual occurrence for the next one week.
And then he asked me to get him a copy of a letter.
I didn't know what made me agree to that, but I went back to my office, snuck into my Oga's office and made a copy of the letter which I gave him.
It was two days later that I knew what I had done.
I searched for Mr. Rasheed to tell him what had happened, but he was no where to be found.
He had accomplished his mission.
No one knew what had happened, nor my involvement in it.
My boss was in and out of court for the next one year.
He was found guilty and made to pay millions of naira for damages.
I caused all this.
I was an espionage agent.
Charles knew all that had happened. I had confided in him. How could I not have?!
He made me feel like a saint. He would hug me and tell me that everything would be fine.
'What one does not tell, will not be known.' He would say.
He was my pillar, my support, the glue that held me together. He made me feel less of what I taught myself to be at that time. A spy. A criminal. A disgrace to my family. A cheap person.
Today, I'm being haunted by a ghost from my past.
'Continue with the relationship or I go to your boss with this information,' the mail had read, right under the munched chats.
How do I tell my boss that I was the culprit who leaked the information to our competitors?
I'm going to lose my job.
I'm going to lose my pride.
I'm going to lose my credibility.
Nothing had prepared me for this.
Having spent two years of my life with Charles, I knew this was no bluff.
What manner of person munch chats and keeps for whatever reason, if the person isn't a monster?
Charles has always won.
And he has defeated me again!