The Stress Test – excerpt

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Here is an excerpt from The Stress Test by Mojisola Aboyade-Cole.

Enjoy.

**************

He took a seat beside Taramade and their thighs made contact. He noticed how swiftly Taramade moved hers away. Felix glanced at her and, for a brief moment, fought to control the uncomfortable tightness in his groin.

“You will sign my stuff, Oyinbo, before you take off,” he said.

Taramade sighed. “What do you want me to sign now, Felix?”

“Do you know what happened to your sister-in-law?” Dr. Johnson asked.

Felix listened half-heartedly as Dr. Johnson gleefully repeated the fiasco with the market women, making Taramade feel like a fool. Uninterested, Felix cut in at the first chance.

“Mummie, see what your only son has done for the bank,” he said. “This deal is from Yinusa Ahmed.” He signalled to one of the young interns who had taken a position by the door. She approached with a file and handed it over to Dr. Johnson. She went through it, clapping her hands in delight.

“Oh my son, this is a very good one. We are finally sponsoring a polo tournament. No bank has done this!” she said, signing her approval.

“Yes we are, Mummie,” he said, beaming. “Your son Felix snatched the deal away from that telecoms company. They call themselves giants, when we,the Johnsons, are colossal. I need the draft today. Yinusa will not wait.”

Felix passed the file to Taramade and collected another from his intern.

“How much are we throwing to the wind, Felix?” Taramade asked him with caution.

Felix let out a loud yawn. Taramade had become Miss Righteous. He wanted them both to work together to wrest the bank from Dr. Johnson; it was time for her to hand over the baton.

One of his own contemporaries had just been appointed MD of a bank. That guy was set for a financial transformation! And yet here he was, being queried by his brother’s wife and playing the gigolo to his stepmother for mere handouts from a bank that was rightfully his.

“Oyinbo,” he said to Taramade, “it is not about what we are giving, but what we are getting in return. When will you ever get what banking is all about?”

He had told her many times that her extreme loyalty to Dr. Johnson would backfire. Did she not know that Dr. Johnson had just purchased a private jet for her prophet, and yet he, Felix, did not have one? Dr. Johnson had enough money to create a royal kingdom. Meanwhile, he had to seek her approval to settle his hotel bills.

Felix was loyal only to himself. In his twenties, absorbed in a decadent lifestyle financed by his mother, he’d shuttled from one foreign country to another. He’d never visited Nigeria, not even for his father’s funeral. Guilt and regret were unfamiliar emotions for Felix, but they surfaced when his brother, Frank, became incapacitated.

Only then had he returned to Nigeria. It still hurt to see his brother in his current condition.

Felix had never had that much time for his mother. At first he had ignored his stepmother, not understanding her strong desire for his approval.

When he mismanaged what was left of his father’s estate, he succumbed to her entreaties for a closer relationship and she was eager to pay for it. Only later did he learn that whatever she gave him she took back a hundred times more.

But things were about to change now, leveraging on the current financial crisis was his key. Dr. Johnson had to be removed, and with Yinusa’s help and direct link to Aso Rock it was going to happen soon.

It would not be easy getting rid of his stepmother, but Felix prided himself on being a risk-taker – the bigger the transaction, the more desperate he was to corner it at any cost. Taking ownership of the bank was a transaction that would definitely turn out to be a thrilling ride.

“If only I had more EDs like Felix,” Dr. Johnson said with a proud smile. “He chases whoever money chases.”

Typical, Taramade thought. She was always on his side.

“Yes, Mummie, I do,” Felix said, his tone smug. “Now we have to sign two of these offer letters. I promised Yinusa; one is personal, one is for the company.”

“This man, Yinusa,is owing us so much, it’s as if he owns this bank,” Taramade said. “With the outstanding principal and interest, we are already looking at fifty-nine million dollars from his company. Why are we talking about more money? He should pay what he owes us.”

“What is this about, Felix?” Dr. Johnson asked, now suspicious. She recalled the meeting with the TBN governor accusing her of lacking financial discipline and integrity. All of Felix’s society friends had taken one form of loan or the other, and they were not repaying. It was always billions for gambling on shares, property or for oil and gas transactions with worthless and overvalued assets as collateral.

She had to stop trying to please him all the time.

The obsessive behaviour had to end.

*********************

 The author of The Stress Test will be at the FarafinaReads event this March. 

 

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