Joyce sat across Mercy in a cafe in uptown Nairobi. It was hot and Mercy fanned herself with a menu.
‘Honestly, the service nowadays is so poor.’ Joyce commented.
‘The worst part is that they’d still want us to tip them,’ Mercy added signalling to a waiter for the umpteenth time to enquire about their order.
‘I apologize madam, but we’re currently overwhelmed with the number of orders in the kitchen but your meal will be ready in ten minutes,’ the waiter Joram, placated her.
But Mercy was in a foul mood and proceeded to give him an earful despite Joyce’s effort to calm her down.
‘Relax girl! Clearly, there is nothing he can do about it.’
‘I know,’ her voice waning.
‘It’s just this whole scandal with Dan at the office has left me so stressed lately’
Joyce leaned towards her friend.
‘You can tell me all about it’ she responded, taking Mercy’s hand into hers for comfort.
‘I don’t know why Dan would do this. He is going around telling the whole office that I am sleeping with the boss!’
Joyce was shocked. She knew that Mercy was closer to her boss than the other employees but the relationship did not go beyond anything of the platonic nature and as far as she was concerned, he regarded her as he would his own daughter.
‘You didn’t do anything to provoke him? Dan has always seemed like a good guy. Wasn’t he the first to congratulate you when you got that promotion last year?’
Mercy nodded slowly, her eyes beginning to mist from tears that threatened to burst from within her. There were details of her relationship with Dan that she had not fully disclosed to her friend.
‘Dan was more than a friend to me!’ Mercy confessed
Joyce narrowed her eyes into slits.
‘What do you mean more than a friend?’
‘There was more to our relationship than just friendship. We started having feelings for each other during the annual company retreat in Naivasha in April …’
Joyce flashbacked to six months ago when Mercy had been distraught over the sudden death of her father. She often talked about missing her father and on numerous occasions, Joyce had had to spend the night at her apartment when Mercy felt overwhelmed by the loneliness that had filled every room and crevice in her house.
‘I was so lonely then. Do you remember? When I felt like I had lost the will to work.’ Mercy paused their conversation as the waiter brought their meal of two Caesar salads with the dressing on the side, a staple every time they ate at that particular restaurant.
Joyce drizzled the dressing sparingly over the bed of lettuce leaves and chicken chunks.
‘Dan was so gracious then,’ Mercy continued, once again hemming her friend in.
‘We used to sit by the bonfire and talk for hours. It really helped to take my mind off losing dad. When we came back to Nairobi, he used to take me out on dates and send me thoughtful gifts. Do you remember the little teddy bear in my room?’
Joyce nodded to show that she did. Mercy had fawned over it for weeks, reserving for it a place on her bedside table next to a framed picture of her deceased father.
‘Dan bought it for me on my birthday. Things were so good Joyce but we had not slept with each other. He started pressuring me to do so and he was very insecure about my relationship with Ken, my boss’
Mercy took a bite of her salad, first cutting the chicken chunks into smaller pieces like she always did.
‘I reassured him, I kept telling him that nothing was going on with Ken but there was no convincing him.’
‘Hmmh, I know,’ Joyce mused.
‘Even after I got that promotion, he would sometimes throw fits when we were together, asking me to come clean about whether I was really sleeping with Ken. I had had enough and I broke up with him. He was acting like a maniac and I couldn’t stand it.’
Joyce rubbed Mercy’s hand.
‘That’s when he started telling everyone in the office that I was sleeping with Ken and that was the reason I got promoted’
Joyce grew indignant, ‘How could he say that? You work so hard and it’s clear, sometimes being the last to leave.’
‘That’s not the end of it, now all my colleagues think I am loose. I can’t even go to Ken’s office without hearing a snicker. Their stares feel like they could bore into the flesh of my back every time I walk by anyone.’
‘Take it easy, what does Ken say? Has he come to your defence?’ Joyce asked.
Mercy lowered her eyes.
‘No. He is so passive about the whole thing, making me doubt the authenticity of his friendship. I am worried that if this false information reaches the board, I might lose my job. Ken has a contract for another 3 years. Mine is due for renewal in 6 months.’
‘Let’s hope it doesn’t lead to that,’ Joyce encouraged her and they continued their meal in silence.
My Boss Used To Ask For Sexual Favours In Exchange For My Salary
My Boss Fired Me Because I Rejected His Advances