TRUE TRAGIC LOVE: CLARA THE GOVERNOR’S DAUGHTER (PART SIX)

Are you yet to read part one to five? Read them below

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

Part five

 

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

Scene opens at the governor’s house which looks busy as Clara and Charles get set for the journey that would change their lives forever. Charles looks overly excited while Clara looks very withdrawn. It’s very obvious she isn’t happy at all. She is seen discussing seriously with Vivian
‘’I beg of you dear sister, don’t leave with that bastard. Don’t ruin your happiness. Don’t sacrifice your life like that. You need to be strong and stand your ground my dear,’’ Vivian begged for the umpteenth time but her words made little effect on me. I was very much ready to leave with Charles, very much ready to face any outcome. It was really pointless fighting a lost battle. Perhaps I could even end up loving him, I hoped with all my heart.
‘’you know the situation of things. It’s pointless trying to stop me from leaving. Save the energy my dear’’ I muttered with a smile while Vivian shook her head in despair.

My mother and Charles walked into the room that moment, smiling happily. She drew forward and hugged me while Charles watched with a smile.
‘’my dear, I know you are very nervous. Yes your life is going to change once you step foot in Paris. You are a woman now and I wish you nothing but the best. Your father and I will be in Paris next week for the wedding’’ she breathed happily, kissing my hair.
‘’my dear we have to leave now. Your luggage are all in the car. We have to get going’’ Charles muttered while I breathed deeply.
‘’bye mum, see you in Paris’’ I managed to mutter.

As we left the house and headed to the airport, I couldn’t help but notice two cars following us plus one in the front.
‘’why the long convoy?. You hardly use this much security?, what’s wrong?’’ I asked Charles curiously. He smiled.
‘’many things have changed my dear. I have lots of enemies including your silly boyfriend agent Val. I’m not taking any chances sweety’’ he replied while I sighed and faced the window once again. Of course I was very nervous and anxious at the same time.
‘’my love, check out this tourist magazine. I hope you can still read French or have you forgotten all you learnt in secondary school?’’ he joked after few minutes of silence, dropping a French magazine on my laps.
‘’we will visit the Louvre museum which you know is the most visited art museum in the world. We will take a boat tour of the seine river, we will climb some of the tallest towers in the world. We will visit churches of the last century, plus the classiest restaurants and cinemas. Come on dear you really have to thank me you know’’ he breathed, trying to make me cheer up but I really was far from being happy. Of course the places he mentioned and the pictures in the magazine were quite captivating and the dream of every woman but on the contrary I felt empty. I felt hollow..

Suddenly a loud explosion happened right in front of us, shattering the first car and sending our own car into a gutter. The force of impact almost knocked me out with its pressure. Everywhere instantly became dark as I struggled to get up. I just can’t explain what happened, it was just like a dream. Out of nowhere the car door in charles’s corner was thrown open as a masked man sprayed something inside the car. I instantly lost consciousness.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

I nervously watched as Charles’ convoy pulled out of the governor’s house and headed towards the airport. I quickly followed, keeping a good distance to avoid being noticed. I was yet to get the necessary order to stop them and I was really getting impatient and worried.
‘’they are on the move sir. They are headed to the airport, should I make my move now?’’ I asked over the radio.
‘’just hold on, Jennifer and her team are yet to make any discovery. Just keep following them’’ the head of operations replied, leaving me hissing with anger.
But then suddenly, a loud explosion took me and my colleagues by surprise as we got to a lonely road leading to the airport, knocking out Charles’s convoy and leaving me with no choice than to apply my brakes with full force, screeching the unit car to a stop as rain of bullets rained from nowhere on Charles’s convoy, leaving his bodyguards with little or no cover to return fire.
The attackers never noticed I and my team, giving us the opportunity to take good cover and fire our F2000 rifles in quick succession, but unfortunately it made no difference to the attackers who were more prepared and probably military trained. Three smoke grenades were instantly thrown towards our direction, blinding our view as we held fire and took cover.

A minute later, everywhere was silent. We cautiously approached Charles’s convoys which were now nothing but piles of wrangled metals. The four cars took quite a hit as if they were fired at by a six pounder or an armoured tank. I nervously got to the second car which the rear right door was surprisingly open.
I peeped in to see only Charles lying face first on the back headrest of the front seat, struggling to get out of the car. I quickly pulled him out while searching for Clara at the same time but unfortunately she wasn’t in the car.
‘’where is Clara you bastard?’’ I screamed.
‘’I guess she’s with the devil?’’ he replied, spitting out blood.
‘’what do you mean she’s with the devil?, who’s the devil and where can I find him?’’ I screamed with frustration as I made to hit him with my F2000 but was held back by my colleagues.
‘’I don’t know where he is. You don’t find the devil, the devil finds you,’’ Charles breathed, spitting out blood as he struggled to stand on his feet. His reply got me angry, yes very angry. Of course I knew he was trying to play smart.
‘’how many men were there? What did you see?’’ I asked.
‘’ I saw nothing. When my car took the hit I was knocked out and when I regained consciousness you showed up. I saw nothing and you have to let me go check out myself. You can see my men and I are in bad shape’’ he muttered quickly, looking around nervously. More police patrol units showed up that moment to take over the scene.
‘’you are coming with us to our office. You have a lot to answer my friend and you are going nowhere’’ I replied with a smile as I nodded to my two colleagues who quickly bundled him into our waiting truck while he struggled to free himself.
‘’This is not the end Val. You are abusing my rights and you will pay. Trust me,’’ he protested. I breathed deeply as I listened to his ranting. I sure knew there was a big battle ahead. I felt finding Clara would never be easy and could bring up a lot of hidden secrets or even more bloodshed.

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

I opened my eyes to find myself in a moving vehicle; I instantly tried to sit up but discovered that I was tightly tied up. Just that moment one of my captors drew close, smiled and placed a wet piece of cloth over my nose. I lost consciousness once again.

I slowly opened my eyes once more to find myself in a neatly furnished room. I wasn’t tied up this time and I couldn’t really tell how long I was out. I slowly sat up, feeling slight headache as the events of the day played back in my head bringing up tears in my eyes. Deep down I hoped that it was Charles that kidnapped me again but then I knew he had no hand in it this time.
‘’Dear lord what is happening?, why are all these bad things happening to me? What have I done?’’ I sobbed as I wondered what my fate would be in the hands of my captors. I couldn’t think straight. I just didn’t know what to expect. Of course I was terribly terrified.

Minutes later, an old man with white beards walked into the room with a middle aged lady who was dressed like a nurse. The old man limped in one leg and carried a walking stick to aid his movement. He looked about sixty five years old or so. I drew back with fear as I saw the two adults approached me.
‘’what do you want from me?’’ I screamed with all the energy I had left. The old man smiled.
‘’Finally I meet the adopted daughter of Imo state governor,’’ he chuckled while my heart pounded
furiously as I wondered the meaning of his words.
‘’I could be your biological father you know?’’ he added, licking his lips as he studied me.
‘’oh forgive my manners, you can call me Mr. Patrick but everyone calls me Donpatric, the most ruthless business man in the east’’ he introduced himself while I eyed him.
‘’dinner comes up at 7pm which is just few minutes away. Roselyn will check you out and help you to prepare’’ he added, nodded politely and headed out, leaving the nurse alone with me.
‘’please what’s happening? Why am I here?’’ I nervously cried, Roselyn drew close and sat on my bed.
‘’Madam I advise you stop crying and accept your fate here. Be nice to Donpatric so that your stay here will be okay. There is nowhere you are leaving this fortress without his approval. I advise you calm down madam’’ she advised seriously.

Few minutes later, I was led to the sitting room where I reluctantly joined Donpatric
at the table.
‘’why am I here?’’ I bravely asked, as the housekeeper served my food.
‘’relax my dear; you know my castle has been very lonely and uneventful for quite some time now and it’s really a privilege having you around. These days I hardly go out. I’m confined in this house and that’s life. I have evaded the authorities for thirty five years and yes that’s quite a
feat. Tomorrow morning we can go horse riding, hope you like horses?’’ he replied and asked, avoiding my question.
‘’please why am I here?’’ I asked once again
‘’when your fiancé came running to me, wanting to be a man, wanting to prove himself to his rich fat father, I took him in. I nurtured him. I made him a man. I made him very rich but one thing I asked him not to do in order not to implicate everyone in the family, he refused and went against the rules. Yes you are here my dear because of Charles and you are going to be here a long, long time. Your boyfriend is very ambitious. So brace yourself my dear,’’ he finally answered with a smile while my heart froze as his words played over and over in my head.
‘’I know you have questions. I know you need answers to everything your parents has been hiding from you?. Just act like a good girl and I will act like your father okay?. Now eat your food.’’ he commanded while I nervously stared at the food before me. Yes I wasn’t happy leaving for Paris with Charles but then I would have preferred being in Paris than being held captive by a strange man who claimed to know all.

New scene opens showing Charles seated across a table facing senior special agent Bola at the DSS office. Agent Val is seen standing behind the senior agent.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

‘’You know I really thought I was brought in here for questioning over the attempt on my life and my fiancée’s disappearance but I’m very surprised that all you guys care about right now is the huge amount of money found in my house. This is ridiculous. This is the height of irresponsibility. I don’t think keeping my hard earned money in my house is a crime. I’m not a government employee. I’m not a public office holder and you are not the EFCC for Christ sake. I don’t owe you guys any explanation and if you don’t find my fiancée before the next hour I will be the one to sue you guys’’ Charles threatened confidentlyas senior agent Bola brought up the money laundering charge. There wasn’t any doubt he was having a hard time with Charles. Yes the department already knew holding him over the huge amount of money found stashed in his house wasn’t going to hold ground unless we could get the required evidence to link the money with drugs. We merely used the money laundering charge to detain him for questioning but by the look of things he was way smarter and intelligent than we thought.
‘’you know this man?’’ agent Bola softly asked, pushing forward the sketch of Donpatric to him. He stared at the drawing for some seconds while we anxiously waited for his reply because we knew we could hold him on it, either way his reply went.
‘’Hmmmm I’m not saying anything anymore till my lawyer gets in here’’ he finally answered, folding his hands and dashing our hopes.
‘’Your fiancée’s life could be in danger Mr. Charles and you are here trying to play mind games with us. You better cooperate; nothing is going to stop you from going down. So do the honorable
thing by talking to us and possibly saving the life of your woman. I hope you know she’s the governor’s daughter; moreover we already have very strong confession from one of your people and we have strong reason to believe that you know how to find your attackers. Everything is all linked up to the money, the man on this drawing and your shady dealings’’ agent bola pushed on while he scoffed. ‘’the more you are wasting my time asking irrelevant questions, you are putting my fiancée in harm’s way. If you really have everything you need against me, why questioning me then. Simply take me to court and charge me’’ he replied scornfully, leaving agent Bola with no choice than to bang his fist on the table in frustration. Out of anger he got up and left the room. I quickly followed him. Just outside the room, the state director was waiting with a frown on his face.
‘’I just got a call from headquarters. I’m afraid we will have to let him go. We have his travel documents and money. He won’t be going anywhere’’ he said to agent Bola who breathed deeply and shrugged.
‘’you can handle that Val’’ he ordered and walked away while I headed back to the room to meet Charles who was all smiles.
‘’I guess the senior agent won’t be coming back. Am I free to go now?’’ he asked
‘’yes you can leave but we will keep your money and travel documents. Mind you we are watching your every move’’ I replied with a fake smile.
‘’okay I guess I will have to come back for my money. Seriously you guys don’t know that some things are bigger than your payroll. As for you Val, be careful with how you interfere in my business’’ he threatened and stood up.

(Vivian’s side of the story continues:)

The news of Clara’s kidnap blew in like the harmattan wind late that fateful morning. At first I couldn’t believe it but after dialing Clara’s number which failed to connect I just didn’t know what to make of it. A part of me felt it was one of Charles’s tricks. I nervously waited for more news like a patient rat waiting for nightfall.

Few hours later, Charles walked into the house and headed straight to the sitting room where Clara’s mother has been all morning with some of her friends. I sighed as I watched him from my room window, wondering whether to confront him or not. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long before the first lady and Charles climbed the stairs and headed to the sitting room upstairs which was a bit close to my room. I quickly left my room and headed out to eavesdrop. Fortunately the sitting room door was very much open, giving me the opportunity to even peep on the two adults who were seriously discussing.
‘’Don’t worry mum, I will get your daughter back. I promise you that. I’m sure Donpatric has her and I just pray the old man doesn’t open his dirty mouth to tell her everything. The man is really a pain in the neck and we will have to get rid of him or else he could end up blowing out a lot of things and smearing our dear governor’s image’’ he assured the first lady.
‘’what exactly does he want?. We haven’t heard from him for ages. My husband broke up ties with him long before joining politics. Charles are you really sure this has nothing to do with you or your business with him?’’ she asked him seriously while I listened and watched. Charles poured himself a shot of whiskey, breathed deeply and faced the worried woman.
‘’I will get your daughter back her Excellency. I will get rid of Donpatric once and for all before he destroys everyone of us,’’ he assured her while my heart froze with great fear.
‘’what exactly is going on?’’ I pondered over and over.

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

[Clara is seen horse riding with Donpatric who rode behind her, smiling confidently]

‘’You remind me of so many things my dear. You remind me of good old times but unfortunately
good things never last’’ Donpatric breathed, riding closer to me while I nervously tried to control my horse. Even though I was a very fast learner, I couldn’t really believe I could ride such a big animal on my own after few attempts.
‘’you are a very strong and beautiful girl Clara, no wonder you are driving Charles crazy’’ he praised. I stared at him curiously.
‘’why are you against my relationship with Charles?’’ I curiously asked. He breathed deeply.
‘’that’s a story for another day my dear. I bet you will get tired of my stories’’ he promised while I scoffed and shook my head.
‘’Anyway my story is really a long one. I lost my parents during the civil war when I was barely fifteen years old. My dad was a Biafran soldier who died at Nsukka war front. He died for what he believed in. He died saving Nsukka from the Nigerian army invasion. My mother, my good old woman died at Okigwe when the Nigerian army surrounded the town. My only uncle died helping us escape to Okwelle. He pushed back a whole company of soldiers with his Dane gun while we ran towards Okwelle. Of course we never heard from him again. He definitely died’’ the old man narrated, stopping briefly while I nodded for him to continue.
‘’after the civil war, I had no one to run to, no family to help out and no relative to look up on. There wasn’t any job, I had no education, and my life was just empty. I gave up on life and did some terrible things just to get enough money to head to Lagos.

On getting to Lagos I upgraded my life of crime and built an empire. I made lots of money doing what no one would do and here I’m living well. Yes I regret a lot of things and I equally made lots of terrible mistakes. But the thing I regret the most was the young sales girl I raped and impregnated for no just reason. . . Don’t look at me that way my dear. Of course I took responsibility but she died giving birth to the baby and I had no choice than to play a very dirty trick with a friend just to ensure that the young child had the best care and family’’ he stopped while I silently waited for him to continue but he said nothing else.
‘’so the child, does he or she know about you?’’ I asked. He shrugged.
‘’no she doesn’t and it’s better that way. Moreover I have a wife and three kids in London’’ he added with a smile. Somehow I was getting a bit comfortable with him and his reason for not wanting Charles to be with me was another thing that kept bugging my mind.
‘’I know what you are thinking right now, but don’t worry I still have many stories to share’’ he promised and carefully got down from his horse while I breathed deeply.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

[Later that same evening]

‘’I am so worried for Clara. I don’t even know if she’s still alive. We just have nothing and no one is talking, not even her mother is showing enough concern,’’ I breathed in frustration as I fell on my bed while Jennifer smiled and watched me.
‘’just relax, we have two agents watching Charles every minute. It’s just a matter of time before he leads us to Clara or to her abductors’’ she assured me confidently.
‘’I just can’t wait. I just can’t wait’’ I breathed desperately. She smiled, drew closer and pulled off her top, revealing her bosoms which were tightly held by her bra. My eyes almost popped out with surprise.
‘’How about we get busy?’’ she suggested, jumping on me like a wild cat.

Meanwhile just at the outskirts of the town, the two agents sent to watch over Charles are seen lying unconscious in their car while Charles and his men are seen heading out of town in a convoy of thirty trucks.

At the governor’s mansion, Vivian is seen looking out of her window and crying silently while the governor’s wife is seen at her bedroom kneeling and reciting the holy rosary with a chaplet she held on her right hand,

At Donpatric’s castle, Clara is seen lying quietly in her room in deep thoughts, but suddenly she jumps up and heads to the toilet to throw up. She couldn’t help but wonder why she had been throwing up all day with fear written over her as something struck in her mind, while at the other side of the castle, Donpatric is seen smoking a big cigar at his large balcony as he gazed at
the stars. There wasn’t any doubt he already knew Charles was on his way. A battle between two men lies ahead. Only one of them could end up surviving.

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

‘’No you are not going to die, be strong. You are yet to finish your story. You are a strong man’’ I begged Donpatric desperately as I tried to stop his bleeding the little way I could.
‘’it’s pointless my dear, just go to your father or your mother and urge anyone of them to finish my story for you. I have no reason to continue living. Even if I survive this, I will spend the rest of my life in prison and its better I die this honorable way than set my foot in jail. Good bye my dear’’ he struggled to breathe while I shook my head in desperation.
Two police officers ran towards us that moment, kneeling beside him to see if they could help but they came a little too late. Donpatric gave out a deep yawn, fell back and laid still.
‘’he’s dead’’ the first officer breathed, quickly radioing for more backup and ambulance.
‘’you have to come with us to the patrol car, you will be safe there’’ the second officer said with a smile, helping me to my feet.

(Val’s side of the story continues”)

I arrived Donpatric’s huge fortress with almost all available agents in the state at exactly 3:30am to meet a very horrible scene. Piles of dead bodies were just arranged at the front of the compound like stockfish. It was so, so horrific and I couldn’t help but imagine what the first police officers to get there passed through.
The police chief in charge of the area was at the gate to welcome us and of course I knew he was very much relieved to hand over the situation to us.
‘’seventeen men died, twelve more critically injured. A handful escaped. Plus two more dead men at the backyard. I haven’t seen so much bloodshed in my fifteen years of service’’ the police chief said to us as he lead our team into the building. My heart couldn’t help but pound loud as I wondered if Clara was safe or not.
‘’were you able to come across any young lady?’’ I managed to ask when we got to the backyard to see Charles’s body lying beside an old man identified as Donpatric. Seriously with the sketch we had on Donpatric we thought he was a young man and perhaps that was the reason he had been able to go undetected for a long while.
‘’yes we found three young women in the house. We took them to the station since none of them appeared hurt’’ the police chief replied, giving me great hope.

It really was quite a tasking job, taking over the crime scene, searching the corpses and ransacking the house. Of course the death of Donpatric and Charles brought the ongoing drug case came to an abrupt end. I really didn’t know whether to be happy or disappointed about it. It was an ending no one ever imagined for both men.
As we prepared to leave the crime scene later that morning, the news confirming Clara’s safety was whispered to me by Jennifer. But unfortunately for me I wasn’t able to meet her that morning due to my assignment and by the time I was free, the state director already had taken her from the police station to the governor’s lodge.

‘’I guess this was never the ending you wanted?’’ Jennifer asked with a smile as we headed back to town hours later. I smiled and shrugged, unable to say anything. The horrible scene I witnessed in Donpatric’s house really was something that failed to leave my memory and I couldn’t help but imagine how much the young men that died were paid in the first place.
‘’Val I have another news I have been holding back all these while’’ she added, drawing my attention.
‘’the state director requested you be transferred with immediate effect once the drug case is solved. With the way I’m seeing things now you might not be spending much time in Owerri’’ she muttered while I kept quiet. Yes there was really nothing to say. All that was in my head that moment was to see Clara, to talk to her, to caress her, to kiss her. I guess Jennifer noticed it too and never said another word for the rest of the journey.

All through that day I dialed Clara’s number over and over but it never went through and I couldn’t get myself to head to the governor’s mansion because I knew how disastrous it could be for me.
‘’oh my Clara!’’ I whinned.

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

Yes I felt relieved getting home safely that morning after a mind blowing experience in Donpatric’s house. Of course my head was filled with questions and I had a lot to ask my parents concerning their relationship with him. Deep down I really felt my parents could be responsible for the massacre that happened over there. Yes I knew how powerful the office of the governor could be and I felt perhaps Dad sponsored the whole shootout just to clean up the mess and disgrace that could have befallen everyone. I never knew Charles to be someone who could put his life on the line for someone in such manner and I kind of felt he was used as the sacrificial lamb. My head was just confused. I really didn’t know what to believe.

Mum and dad were at the house to welcome me, but the fear in their eyes easily gave them out. I could tell they were hiding a whole lot of things
‘’God brought you back to us my dear. Thank you God.’’ mum screamed with tears of joy as she hugged and kissed my hair. Dad equally drew forward to hug us together. No matter their short comings, I was sure of one thing. I was sure of their love. They had never treated me badly nor given me reason to think otherwise, which kind of made it sickening to think that I could be an adopted daughter, like Donpatric addressed me.
‘’mum, dad we need to talk. We need to talk now’’ I breathed seriously.
‘’you need to first get some rest my dear’’ dad begged.
‘’no we need to talk now’’ I insisted.
‘’fine let’s go to my room then’’ he muttered in resignation.

On getting to his room, I quickly stopped and faced him and mum with a strong face. It wasn’t really easy asking what I had in mind but I had to do it no matter the pain it caused me.
‘’Donpatric said you guys were friends. He equally told me that I was adopted. Is it true mum?, is it true dad?. Was I adopted??’’ I asked with great energy while my mum instantly sat down on a sofa and buried her face with her palms.
‘’for the love of God what is this madness?, why do you want to break your poor mother’s heart?’’ Dad asked, breathing deeply.
‘’I just want to know the truth dad?’’ I fired back.
‘’close your eyes and think, go back to when you were a little kid, go back to your first memories. Who was the first woman you saw her face. Who was the woman that prepared your tea every morning?, that bought you your first bicycle and thought you how to ride it?, were you not there with her when your other siblings were born. Who has been the lady of the house all these while?, what happened to you over there?’’ he screamed with anger while I brought down my face still confused. Yes I had no reason to believe Donpatric over my parents but, but I just was confused.
Vivian ran into the room that moment, breaking down the tension with her presence..
‘’Clara is doubting us, I don’t know what happened to her over there’’ dad quickly reported to Vivian who hugged me with a very worried look.
‘’did Donpatric play with your mind in his house?’’ She curiously asked me.
‘’I don’t know. I don’t know’’ I broke down in tears.
‘’I demand you apologize to your mother right now’’ dad ordered while I hesitantly stared at mum, not exactly knowing if to obey the order or not.
‘’apologize to your mum dear,’’ Vivian begged, grabbing my hand and leading me close to my mother who still had her face buried in her palms. I knelt beside her and softly brought up her face to look into her eyes.
‘’I’m so sorry mother for making you feel bad’’ I softly apologized but she surprisingly shook her head while her eyes lit up.
‘’you need the truth? Of course I will give you the truth you need’’ she hotly breathed, throwing me off balance with her outburst..
‘’your biological father is a rapist, a murderer, a drug dealer. Yes Donpatric is your biological father but we never got to know till few years ago, before your father joined politics’’ she suddenly fired, pushing me back with her words.
‘’you appeared in my life when I was having problems with my marriage, when things were very tough for us. I found you in a small basket in front of our gate crying helplessly. We took you in with great joy, not minding the problems we were having and everything changed afterwards for us. Donpatric showed up that period and helped turn life around for us. But he never told us he was your father nor gave out any reason for us to suspect such a thing till few years ago when we learnt the whole story of how he raped and killed a poor sales girl who gave birth to you. We kept the story from you for your best interest; for your happiness and I bet you would have done the same if you were in my shoes. My dear we gave you love, care and great attention. We gave you the best education. A mother isn’t one who gives birth to a child but one who cares and raises a child. If you feel that I’m no longer your mother. That’s fine by me, you can start calling me by my name,’’ she poured out, breaking down in tears while my father nervously walked out of the room without saying a thing.
‘’mum, you are still my mother. I still very much love you. I love you mum. All I needed was just to know the truth and nothing more,’’ I cried, hugging her softly.
Yes the story really hurt me. I couldn’t help imagining that I was never her blood. It was very painful and I really didn’t know how to relate with my siblings once the news gets to them. Luckily I was now an adult.
Vivian simply stood motionless, watching the drama.

[7:30pm in my room]

‘’come on, you can’t leave the house on your own by this hour. It’s very dangerous’’ Vivian begged for the umpteenth time but my mind was really made up. I really needed to catch some fresh air. I really needed to be with Val all through the night to see if I could get over the feelings I was having. Moreover we equally had some making up and planning’s to do.
‘’I want to be with Val this evening. I want to surprise him with my presence. He’s the only one that can cure the terrible headache I’m having right now’’ I opened up to her, leaving a knowing smile on her pretty face.
‘’Hmmmm I smell something’’ she mused.
‘’moreover I think I’m pregnant and he needs to know’’ I added while she rolled her eyes.
‘’Huh?, okay but do you know how to get to his house on your own? Should I help out?’’ she asked curiously.

At exactly 8pm, I got to Val’s apartment and nervously knocked. My heart kind of pounded very hard and fast as if it was the first time I was meeting him. Yes we really had a lot to discuss and I could tell it was going to be a long and interesting night for us. Leaving the governor’s mansion wasn’t really easy for me and it was a miracle I finally left on my own, thanks to Vivian’s help.
Two minutes later, the apartment door opened but instead of seeing Val, I stood face to face with agent Jennifer who was overly shocked to see me. Her dressing really showed that she wasn’t just visiting because she was wearing a semi transparent singlet with no bra and a bum short. My heart felt like exploding. I was just so short of words.
‘’Clara!!!!!!!’’ she screamed with surprise, heightening the tension between us. I simply gave her a long look, turned and headed out of the house, straight to my car, of course with tears in my eyes, with a broken heart.

As I unlocked my car door, Val came running towards me.
‘’Clara my love, I beg of you stop,’’ he begged, reaching to me before I could get into the car but it earned him nothing but two sharp slaps from me. I instantly jumped into my car and furiously drove home with tears that poured down from my eyes.

I made up my mind that very evening to leave Nigeria as soon as possible, away from everything. My baby could end up growing without a father.

(Vivian’s side of the story continues:)

I was busy talking with my sweetheart Chinedu on phone, discussing the future and making new plans with him when Clara suddenly barged into my room with tears in her eyes, really shocking me so much with her presence. I wasn’t expecting to see her so soon or even that night. One look at her as she fell on my bed told me all was far from well.
‘’I will call you back sweety, have to go now,’’ I nervously said to Chindeu, abruptly ending our conversation to face Clara who buried her head in my pillow crying like a little child.
‘’what happened?, what’s wrong dear?’’ I curiously asked, drawing close to touch her shoulder.
‘’I met her there; Jenifer the agent, I met her there,’’ she sobbed while I rolled my eyes and breathed deeply, so shocked to think straight.
‘’you saw her there and what?, she’s his colleague you know’’ I breathed softly, trying hard not to look silly.
‘’what do you mean?, what time of the day is it?, she was virtually naked when she opened the door for me. You need to see how surprised she was seeing me. I don’t know how long they have
been sleeping together, or even living together. Why was I so blind?’’ she complained. I drew a little bit back, not exactly knowing the right words to use in consoling her. Yes I knew Val loved her, he virtually rejected me for her and so her story kind of shook me up. I really didn’t know how to react.
‘’so what did Val say?’’ I fearfully asked. She sat up, faced me and scoffed.
‘’I didn’t give him the chance to say anything. I didn’t give him the chance to lie. What would he have said huh?’’ she fired back with great energy.
‘’oh dear’’ I breathed with concern
‘’I will be leaving for Lagos tomorrow evening, from there I will head to Abuja and then leave Nigeria. My head is just filled up. First it was the painful discovery of my real identity and then this. I just need to leave the country and face my life’’ she sobbed bitterly.
‘’you have to calm down and think things through. He’s still going to be the father of your baby and I think its better you talk to him before leaving. Yes I’m not saying that he did well by keeping
another lady in his house by this hour of the day but for the sake of your unborn child just talk to him’’ I softly begged, drawing out a cold stare from her with my words.
‘’you know I was mad at my parents for holding back the truth about my real father but now I see things differently. I now understand why they did that. I will leave Nigeria and start all over again. Val will never see my baby’’ she breathed seriously while I closed my eyes and shook my head. I knew she really passed through a lot to stick with Val and it was kind of disheartening to learn that the same guy was cheating at the last minute. However as my sister, I had an obligation to do something to save her happiness. I had to do something I never planned doing. I had to call Val and hear his side of the story. I had to talk to him.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

I was close to tears as I headed back to my apartment that fateful evening after failing to talk with Clara, to convince her that Jennifer and I had nothing going on. She really gave me no chance to explain myself, no listening ear, nothing. Of course I knew it was my entire fault. She had every reason to conclude things the way she did, but then nothing ruins a relationship than rushing into conclusions without giving your partner the opportunity to explain things .

I returned to my sitting room to see Jennifer staring at me with a worried look.
‘’I’m sorry Val, it wasn’t my fault you know? I never knew she was the one at the door’’ she tried to apologize but I simply eyed her and headed to my room, locking the door quickly to avoid her
coming in. I was shattered. I was broken. Deep down I was scared of what life had in store for me.

I was still battling with my thoughts when my phone rang and it was Vivian calling. I quickly answered her call with a fast pounding heart.
‘’what did you do?. Why did you break the heart of a woman who loves you so much, why Val?’’ she asked, pushing out tears from my eyes with the question. How do I explain things?. No one would believe that I had nothing to do with a very beautiful colleague seen at my apartment scantily dressed at that period of the day. I knew explaining myself was going to be difficult. It was really my fault for not telling Clara about her presence when I had the chance. But I couldn’t tell her back then because of my fears and the situation of things.
‘’Clara is leaving Nigeria. I will be escorting her to the airport tomorrow evening to catch a flight to Lagos. You have to think out of the box if you still want her back. This could be your last opportunity of ever seeing her. I’m not doing this for you but for her’’ she informed me and hung up.

Very early the next day, I headed to Jennifer’s room to talk to her. It was an idea that got into my head during the night and I prayed for it to work. Jennifer appeared very surprised to see me in her room that early in the day. She quickly sat up and stared at me.
‘’hope you are not here to throw me out of your apartment. I’m sorry over what happened. I never knew she was the one knocking’’ she hurriedly tried to explain while I sat beside her on
the bed.
‘’if you are really sorry over what happened, then you have to help me. I need your help’’ I softly begged.
‘’my help? How ?’’ she curiously asked.
‘’I need you to help me convince Clara that we had nothing going on between us. You are a woman like her and she will believe you easily. Please help me. I don’t want to lose her. She’s leaving the country and this could be my only chance’’ I begged seriously. She dropped her eyes.
‘’I really don’t know how else to convince you that Clara doesn’t fit you in any way. She has no manners. She’s too proud. She has no listening ear. Come on’’ she quickly breathed.
‘’just help me. I beg of you’’ I helplessly begged.
‘’No I can’t Val, I won’t bring down myself for that over pampered girl. You can kick me out of your house if you want. Nothing is going to change my mind. I’m sorry’’ she replied defiantly, while I
bit my lips in frustration.
‘’She’s taking the 4pm flight to Lagos today and this is my only chance’’ I begged once again.
‘’Good for you’’ she hissed and headed to the toilet.

By 3:30pm that fateful evening, I was already at the airport all alone waiting for Clara and her cousin to show up. My heart couldn’t help but pound very fast. I couldn’t afford losing her for
anything.

At exactly 3:58pm, I felt someone’s touch from behind; I turned to see Jennifer smiling at me. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
‘’I’m here to help you Val even though she doesn’t deserve your love’’ she poured out softly, melting my already weak heart with her words.

Hmmmm between Clara and Jennifer who do you think loves Val
most? But for the last time Val, do you think you can cope up with Clara. Forget about the hormones raging in your body now. Can you cope with her for the rest of your life? You have a tasking job and your lifestyle is very much different from hers’’ Jennifer pleased seriously. I smiled and held her shoulders.
‘’I’m in love with Clara and that’s all that matters to me. Just help me get her back and I will be indebted to you for the rest of my life’’ I pleaded. She rolled her eyes and shrugged in resignation.
‘’I already tried my best to open your eyes to reality. Don’t come crying to me in few years time’’ she breathed with a smile.

Together we headed to a small shop where we enjoyed some snacks as we waited for Clara and Vivian to arrive. It wasn’t long before they showed up in a black Toyota SUV. I made the sign of the cross as I nervously got up. Jennifer smiled and got up as well. I bet she understood what I was passing through that moment.

A female officer was busy bringing out Clara’s luggage from the car trunk while she and Vivian stood a distance away discussing as we approached. Before we could get to
them, Clara spotted us and quickly headed away from her cousin. I increased my pace while Jennifer struggled to catch up with me. In no time I got to Clara, grabbing her left hand to stop her from moving further away.
‘’I beg of you listen to me my dear’’ I quickly begged as she struggled to snatch her hand from my grasp. Jennifer caught up with us with a smile on her face while Clara gave her a suspicious look
‘’Miss Clara you are lucky to have a guy like Val who loves you with all his heart. I was shocked over how you acted yesterday on seeing me in his house. Val and I are just colleagues and nothing more. I’m only squatting at his apartment because I have no house in this city and I’m on a temporal assignment. You have to trust him if you really want your relationship to last. He is a
federal agent and you should know by now what to expect by being with him. You can’t imagine how much he begged me, how much he brought himself down just to beg me to come help him save his relationship. Do you really deserve such a good guy? Yes I really do want him for
myself but unfortunately you are the one he wants to be with,’’ Jenifer softly addressed her, getting all her attention. Her face slowly changed as she stared at Jennifer with remorse in her
eyes.
‘’hasty conclusions most times gets one into trouble. Val loves you and you have to make up with him and equally apologize to him’’ she concluded, smiled and walked away, leaving Clara stunned as she stared into thin air. I bet she wasn’t expecting such words from Jennifer. Yes I equally wasn’t expecting all that from Jennifer. Deep down in my heart I thanked her a hundred times
over.
‘’Clara my love,’’ I breathed drawing closer to her. She slowly faced me, looked into my eyes for some seconds before hugging me, sobbing on my chest.
‘’I’m so sorry Val. I was just confused. I have been through a whole lot. My heart, my head everything hurts. I’m sorry for doubting you’’ she apologized with great energy. Vivian walked up to us, smiling. ‘’I don’t need to ask if you are still travelling or not. In fact its better I don’t know. I’m leaving right away with the officer that accompanied us’’ she softly said to Clara while I smiled back at her.
‘’Thank you Vivian for helping me get her back’’ I breathed with all my heart.
‘’Just take care of her and never give her the opportunity to doubt you ever again’’ she replied, turned and walked away, leaving Clara and I all alone.
‘’so are you still travelling out of the country and leaving me all alone?’’ I asked.
‘’I don’t know, do you want me to stay back?’’ she asked back, bringing up her face to look into my eyes.
‘’Yes yes yes, stay with me. In fact we can go back to my apartment together. No one will know, come on dear’’ I begged.
‘’yes we really do have a lot to talk about’’ she accepted with a smile.

On getting to my apartment the first thing we did was tear each other apart and made great love. Yes we badly needed it and we dug at each other the way we had never done before. We devoured, ate and tore each other as if our lives depended on it and yes of course our lives depended on what we felt for each other, what we had for each other. We really passed through a lot to get to this stage. We fought a lot of battles, took risks and came out stronger.

‘’Oh Val I love you very much’’ Clara breathed later in the evening after another round of hot sex. It was the fourth time we were doing it that very evening and yet we still needed more of it. The passion in her eyes was so intense and revealing.
‘’It’s almost 9pm now and I have many things to tell you’’ she solemnly breathed, sitting up on the bed. I quickly sat up to hold her.
‘’first I’m pregnant and we have to figure out a way to make my parents like you’’ she opened up, leaving my heart melting with more joy.
‘’can you also believe I was adopted?. . . just calm down and listen to all that happened over the past few days. That really was why I got so upset yesterday when I saw Jennifer in your apartment. I’m still emotionally weak,’’ she opened up, slowly narrating all that went down in Donpatric’s house, plus her mother’s confession. My ears and head were so filled up with her story. It was too much, really too much.
‘’well no matter what, the first lady is still your mother and I agree that a mother isn’t the one who gave birth to a child but the one who cared, fed and nurtured the child,’’ I managed to mutter when she was done with her story. She smiled and dropped her eyes.
‘’but we still have one problem. My mother doesn’t like you and we have to find a way to change her heart. She’s very powerful in her own way.’’ she added, bringing up her eyes to meet my gaze. Just that moment, her new phone rang, gaining our attention. She
slowly reached for the phone and breathed deeply.
‘’its mum’’ she said with a smile, accepting the call and turning the loud speaker on. ‘’Clara what has gotten into you?,
why plan with your cousin to deceive and lie to us that you are travelling to Lagos while you only wanted to go spend time with that small boy, that young agent that is set to take advantage of you and your fortune huh?’’ she barked, leaving her extremely surprised which she probably sensed.
‘’you think I will take chances again after what happened with you and Charles huh?. I assigned some detectives to watch you every hour of the day and yes I was merciful enough to allow you be in his house till this time, now get up and head to the gate. A police patrol car is outside waiting for you. In case you feel like disobeying me, I will be down there myself to take you home’’ she ordered over the phone while Clara angrily ended the call and faced me with fear in her eyes. ‘’what do we do?, I have to go now?’’ she stammered.
‘’It’s time I talk to your mother. You are going nowhere tonight’’ I insisted.
‘’come on Val, that’s not a good idea?’’ she protested
‘’I don’t know but we have to defy her tonight. She can’t ruin this moment for us’’ I breathed strongly.
‘’so I should disobey my mother to obey you?’’ she asked with a soft smile.

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

I was so happy making up with Val, so happy to be in his arms. I had this insatiable urge of making love with him over and over and yes he never disappointed me. He gave it to me the way I wanted, leaving my entire body burning hot with desire and love. But unfortunately my mother’s unexpected phone call nearly spoilt my mood, everything.
‘’yes disobey your mother this one night for me’’ Val pleaded, dropping a soft kiss on my lips. I trembled as I felt the hotness.
‘’what if she follows her threat and barges in here?’’ I asked curiously.
‘’do you think she can go that far?’’ he breathed with concern
‘’hmmmm I don’t know but her disdain for you could make her but don’t worry I will give her a call and talk to her’’ I suddenly promised, dialing mum’s number without hesitation. It was something I never planned doing but had to do it if I was to spend the night with him.
‘’why are you calling me?’’ mum harshly asked as soon as she picked my call.
‘’dear mum I have always given you the ultimate respect and admiration. Please don’t spoil tonight for me. Allow me to stay this one night with Val. I’m an adult. I know what is good for me.
By tomorrow I will be back in the house, you can deal with me, you can kill me, you can do anything to me but please allow me this one night to be with the man I love. Val is a good person. I beg of you mother.’’ I desperately begged while she kept quiet for a while.
‘’so you are begging me to approve of this insanity?’’ she asked.
‘’yes mum I beg of you. It’s for my happiness; it’s for my well being. This is what I want. Don’t tell me you don’t understand how I feel right now, come on mum.’’ I pleaded desperately.
‘’be home by 6am’’ she muttered and abruptly ended the call while I heaved a sigh of relief and smiled, holding Val tightly.
‘’let’s make love one more time’’ I demanded with all my heart.

Early the next day Val took me home and waited to meet my mum. It really was a pensive moment as we waited for her in the living room. It equally was a good opportunity of making her accept Val as part of the family. Seriously I really didn’t know why she disdained him so much. Val was a federal worker, young with good prospects and future, with every opportunity to build his own name and fortune, not like others who rolled with an inherited family name.
‘’Are you okay?’’ I softly asked him with a comforting smile.
‘’Yes I’m fine, I just pray she doesn’t cut off my head’’ he breathed, smiling back while I playfully eyed him.

Mum soon walked into the sitting room with a frown on her face.
‘’Mr. Val, the agent sent to protect my daughter’s life but instead became the thief and stole her heart. Now you equally have taught her how to lie to everyone just to be with you’’ she muttered coldly, drawing out the deepest gasp from me.
‘’dear mum, I’m very much in love with your daughter and I promise to make her happy for the rest of her life. I will work day and night to provide all her needs. She will never lack a single thing.’’ Val suddenly stood up to say, stunning me with his boldness which kind of impressed my mum. I noticed her face change.
‘’And how do you really plan in maintaining her lifestyle?. Can you take her to Dubai for shopping, to Paris for holidays and to London for childbirth huh?’’ she asked him
‘Mum!’’ I screamed
‘’mum all that matters is love. Money can’t buy happiness neither can it buy love. All I have is the love of Clara your daughter and that same love is equally what I’m offering her’’ Val calmly replied
leaving her speechless with his mature response.
‘’Oh please that’s what you all say but at the end you see. . .’’ she tried to argue but I quickly cut her short by grabbing her hand.
‘’mum this is another opportunity to make things right for me. Charles is dead and gone for real so please stop this attitude you are trying to display. You and I know that Val is a good guy. He has a good future and a good heart. I want to be with him and no one else.’’ I pushed on while she breathed deeply and shrugged in resignation.
‘’I hope you will stay for lunch?, the governor will like to talk with you, plus Vivian’s fiancée will equally be coming over. We are all going to have one big lunch’’ she softly said to Val, leaving a huge smile on my face.
‘’Thank you mum’’ I breathed with great happiness.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

Facing off with Clara’s mum wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be. In fact, Clara easily convinced her to accept me, kind of making everything very easy for me. I had to stay for lunch where I had a very cool chat with the governor who asked lots of prying questions. The old man was so inquisitive that I even feared he was going to ask if I had slept with his daughter. Luckily he never asked such a question.
‘’I’m happy for you guys, yes it reminds me of my youthful days when I had to beat every obstacle to marry Clara’s mother but nevertheless losing Charles cost me a lot. His father was a great political ally and now I have lost him plus many of his influential friends. I don’t think I will win my second re-election bid or any election in this state again’’ the old man muttered with a faint
smile while Clara nervously pinched me. Lunch with the governor was a huge success. I was officially welcomed into the family and yes I felt very great. I equally proposed to Clara that very
evening in the presence of Vivian. My life was back on the right track.

However, just like Jennifer said, I was transferred to Abuja that same week, and yes I accepted the transfer with great happiness because I had feared I was going to be transferred to a remote
northern state. Clara on her own part finally opened her good heart and made Jennifer her friend till this day. Oh I forgot and our wedding which was held three months after, was an event
that left me totally stunned. To my surprise the governor and his wife sponsored the wedding to the last kobo, they even paid for our honeymoon to Paris. The only big thing I spent my money on was the traditional marriage rites. Vivian equally married a day after our white wedding and left for India the next day with her husband.

Five months later Clara got me a very handsome baby boy, the pride of our love, turning me to a very proud father. Yes such a happy ending for everyone apart from Clara’s father who lost his second term election bid to a candidate from a smaller party and till today the old man is still answering lots of corruption charges with the EFCC. Perhaps in 2019 he could be elected once again as the state governor.

[THE END]

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TRUE TRAGIC LOVE: CLARA THE GOVERNOR’S DAUGHTER (PART FIVE)

 

Are you yet to read part one to four? Read them below

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

(Vivian’s part of the story continues:)

‘’I guess I will have to leave you two alone. Let me go get something downstairs’’ I softly muttered after watching the two adults struggle for a while on the bed like kids. None of them said a word to me. I smiled, fetched my phone which was under the pillow and headed downstairs to the bar.
On getting to the bar, I checked my phone and was surprised to see ten missed calls from Charles. My heart instantly froze as great fear struck me. I couldn’t help but call him back after regaining a little composure but unfortunately he failed to pick my calls and after the tenth attempt I dropped my phone and ordered for drinks. I wanted to get drunk and forget my fears. Up to that moment I still couldn’t tell if I made the right decision or not by telling Clara the truth. By the look of things she was very much interested in making up with Val than caring for my well being and safety. I knew what Charles was capable of and I couldn’t help but fear the worst.

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

Yes I really was very surprised to see Val with Vivian when I walked into her hotel room that fateful evening. I thought she had invited me for a private chat, hence my great surprise in seeing Val there with her. However the explanation she gave and things that followed afterwards kind of changed my feelings, my mood and everything. I wasn’t expecting something like that to happen and somehow I found myself blaming Val for my own mistakes.
Of course we ended up fighting or should I say struggling on Vivian’s bed, leaving the poor girl with no choice than to leave the room for us.
‘’what’s your problem Val’’ I finally managed to ask Val as I broke free from him. My body was really on fire. My nipples stood erect and my heart pounding furiously like a virgin who just got her first kiss. My body was just on the verge of expulsion.
Of course I missed his touch, kiss, sex and breathe. I missed everything about him but as a woman I perfectly hid my feelings and reacted as if he was trying to take advantage of me. ‘’I don’t get you. You made the first move. You slapped me. I don’t understand you’’ he stammered, breathing heavily. I scoffed, eyed him and stood up. ‘’I’m sorry for hitting you. I guess I now have to face Charles on my own. He’s now my problem’’ I muttered, not exactly knowing what else to say. ‘’what do you plan doing?’’ he quickly asked.‘’I really don’t know yet. But I guess the right thing is to act as if I heard nothing till I get enough evidence to use on him. I can’t cancel our wedding just like that. That will put Vivian in grave danger’’ I answered and shrugged. ‘’no you can’t do that. You can’t go back to him. He’s a monster’’ Val instantly screamed. ‘’and why is that a problem to you. You told me you don’t care anymore’’ I fired at him. He breathed deeply, stood up and drew close to me. ‘’even if I don’t care anymore, that isn’t enough for you to risk everything by still being with him. What if he rapes and gets you pregnant. He’s a master schemer’’ he pushed on, holding my hands. I trembled before his touch. My legs shook. I just didn’t understand my body that period. His touch, his presence, everything from him was just crazily turning me on. ‘’I can’t break up with him like that. You know Charles, I can’t just end everything without a very good reason and evidence. Just go on with your life and let me be. It’s my life and happiness we are talking about and not yours’’ I painfully muttered, snatched my hand from his grasp and headed to the door. ‘’let’s do this together. I can’t let you do this alone. I still care. I want you back’’ I finally heard him say, stopping me with his words. I turned to face him with eyes filled with tears of relief. I needed nothing but a deep passionate love making from him that moment. I needed his breathe, his arms, his manhood inside me. My heart froze as he drew closer, kissed and grabbed me by the waist.
‘’Oh Val stop’’ I weakly pretended to fight him off, but just like I expected my pleas only encouraged him. The next second we were back on Vivian’s bed, shamelessly making love. The heat of passion between us was so strong that we cared for nothing. We never cared that we were in Vivian’s room; we never even cared to use protection on the quickie that followed.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

I really wasn’t expecting to see Clara that fateful day, talk more of playing romance with her. I equally was very much surprised with myself for going back to her. Perhaps my feelings for her were stronger than I thought. I just fell for her by the slightest touch. I really don’t know whether to be ashamed or proud of the situation I found myself. Yes sometimes matters of the heart can’t just be explained.

Meanwhile, at the hotel bar, Vivian is seen busy gulping down alcohol like someone whose world just crashed. There wasn’t any doubt she was ready for the worst.
Thirty minutes later, she is seen inside one of the hotel toilet close to the bar surprisingly kneeling on the floor and muttering incoherent words like someone more under the influence of hard drugs than alcohol. No one could tell how she got to the toilet.
what could be wrong?

After cleaning up in the toilet, Clara returned to the room and sat on the bed, breathing deeply. ‘’so how do you advice we handle this Charles’s case?, seriously I don’t know how to act it out. I equally fear for my cousin’’ she muttered with a frown. ‘’just like I earlier suggested, you guys should try meet my director. I believe he will get a way to help you guys without putting Vivian’s life at risk. For now I can’t really show up my face because I’m still on suspension. But please be careful with Charles. That guy is a snake’’ I replied seriously while she smiled and shrugged. ’’Charles will never harm me. That I know for sure. Let me call Vivian, the poor girl just left her room for us, not minding how tired she was after the long trip from Lagos’’ she breathed and picked up her phone. After few minutes she dropped it on the bed while I stared at her curiously. ‘’what’s wrong?’’ I asked ‘’she isn’t picking up. I hope she’s alright’’ she replied with a worried tone. I instantly sat up. ‘’let me go search for her’’ I offered, standing up. ‘’let’s go together’’ she added, grabbing my hand tightly.
Together we headed to the door but as we stepped out of the room, we saw two of the hotel staff approaching us. One of them was carrying a lady on his shoulder and as they drew close we recognized Vivian. I couldn’t help but gasp. ‘’what’s wrong with her?’’ I asked curiously. ‘’we found her lying inside the toilet downstairs near the bar. According to the barman who served her, he said she was served just few drinks before she headed to the toilet. He insisted she didn’t drink much. I guess she needs a little rest sir’’ the guy carrying Vivian managed to explain, leaving us with no choice than to allow him inside the room where he softly lowered Vivian on the bed before leaving. Clara drew close, sat on the bed and checked her out,slowly frowning. ‘’something isn’t right. Vivian can’t drink herself to this state. Check her pulse. Her pupils are dilated and her body temperature very high, her breathing is equally abnormal. I’m scared, I think I should call our family doctor right away. She isn’t alright’’ she said to me while I shrugged. ‘’I hope you are not over reacting?’’ I asked cautiously as I drew closer to check out the sleeping girl myself. Just like Clara said, she appeared more like someone slipping into coma than someone dead drunk but then I also knew excess alcohol intake could equally react badly to a person’s body in different ways and so couldn’t really make any good judgment. But suddenly Vivian sprang up with great energy, like someone who just transformed into a vampire, gave out a loud breathe, fell back heavily on the bed and started shaking rapidly and uncontrollably, leaving us totally stunned and confused.
‘’my God she’s having a seizure, I have to call our family doctor right away. Something is very much wrong with her’’ Clara screamed with fear but before she could finish the sentence, Vivian instantly stopped shaking, breathing faintly. We just couldn’t believe it.

Thirty minutes later we were in a private hospital at the other end of the town. Clara had to desperately call her family doctor who demanded that Vivian should be brought over to his hospital and with the help of her security team who had been waiting outside the hotel all evening, we made it to the hospital in no time where the doctor instantly started work on her.
It was a long wait as we waited at the reception, wondering what could have happened to Vivian. She looked very healthy and alright before leaving us in the room earlier in the evening. I couldn’t help but suspect foul play just like Clara had suspected all along. The doctor soon showed up, looking very serious. ‘’let’s go to my office’’ he added, leading the way. On getting to his office, he breathed deeply and studied us for some seconds. ‘’Vivian was lucky to have been brought here on time. She had excess amount of cocaine ingested in her system which caused the high body temperature and seizure that followed. The alcohol in her system equally didn’t help matters. I have dealt with this kind of situation in the past and I hope you know that I have an obligation to report my findings?’’ he muttered seriously while Clara and I exchanged glances.
Vivian was never known to be a drug addict and we couldn’t understand how cocaine got to her system, moreover she was inside a secured hotel all evening unless of course the drug was in her system before she got to town which was highly impossible. I couldn’t help but feel that somehow someone got to her when she was out in the hotel bar and injected her with the stuff. That was the only logical explanation I could come up with and there wasn’t any doubt things were going to get bad for her. Her reputation and plans were now very much at stake, because in a country like Nigeria no one takes a junkie seriously. The only remedy was to find the perpetrator of the dastardly act which equally was going to be a herculean task. I suspected it was Charles’s doing but there wasn’t any evidence to back it up, moreover I equally was yet to figure out why he left her alive after getting the record he needed from her in Lagos. ‘’what do you think my dear?’’ I heard Clara ask softly. There wasn’t any doubt she was so scared and worried.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

‘’I guess I should be going now. You know I can’t spend the night here with you guys’’ I softly said to Clara as we watched over Vivian who was peacefully sleeping like a baby. The doctor really did a pretty good job on her and had equally assured us that she would be okay to go home the next morning. ‘’ I guess I have a long night of watching over my cousin all alone. Who could have imagined things ending this way today? I’m really still confused about the whole thing. Many things don’t add up’’ she breathed while I softly embraced her. ‘’early tomorrow, I will head back to the hotel to talk to the manager. I will try to get the CCTV footage of the bar from him, with that I can check out what really happened’’ I assured her,. ‘’what if they don’t have it?’’ she asked curiously, bringing up her face to meet my gaze. ‘’come on don’t be ridiculous’’ I replied with a smile. ‘’ok very well, I will wait for your call tomorrow. Good night dearie and be careful’’ she added, and pecked me.

I cautiously headed back to my house with plans on how to follow up with the case. I had showed up from the village that fateful day on Vivian’s invitation and was never prepared for the turnout of events. I couldn’t go back to the village that evening because it was already very late at night when I left the hospital and I equally knew with the case at hand that my vacation there was definitely over. As I got to my apartment that night I couldn’t help but inspect my surroundings because I knew whoever that drugged the poor girl was still very much around following things up. I equally knew my own life could be in danger but only hoped for the best as I whistled a song. and headed into my apartment.

The next morning I headed back to the hotel to talk to a visibly surprised manager who nervously listened to my story without interruption. ‘’I really do sympatize with the poor lady but I can assure you that neither the bartender nor any of my staff was responsible for her condition. We run background checks before employing anybody and I can vouch for them. Luckily the bartender in question works two shifts and he’s at the hotel already, I will send for him right away and equally get the CCTV records for the previous day for you to see’’ he replied politely, grabbed his office phone and summoned the bartender who appeared within two minutes.
‘’this young man here is a DSS officer and he’s here concerning the lady that collapsed at the toilet yesterday. You served her drinks right?’’ he asked the young man who was probably in his early twenties. ‘’yes sir I served her like every other customer. She didn’t drink much. I was really surprised when I heard she fell at the toilet. My first thought when I heard the news was that probably her head couldn’t take the drinks she took which weren’t much in the first place’’ he nervously replied. ‘’fine, I will collect your name and phone number from the manager and get back to you if I still need you for more questioning. You can go now’’ I said to him while he heaved a sigh of relief, smiled and headed out of the office. ‘’so now I will be needing the CCTV record you promised’’ I said to the manager who smiled and stood up. ‘’I will be back shortly with it. Let me go get it at the security department’’ he breathed while I nodded. Definitely with it I could see what really happened at the bar the previous evening.

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

It really was a very long and uncomfortable night for me as I watched over Vivian. Of course I could have easily assigned someone to be with her and gone home to sleep but I didn’t do it because I wanted her to feel respected and appreciated. Yes I must confess it really took me a whole lot to be with her till morning. I wasn’t used to spending the night in such an uncomfortable small room. In fact I wasn’t even sure of making it to the next morning but I luckily did. My mum on her own part kind of disturbed all night with her calls. ‘’where am I?, what happened?’’ Vivian woke up the next morning asking like a terrified child. I smiled and held her hands. ‘’I believe someone got to you at the hotel and got drugs into your system. We still don’t know how it happened’’ I informed her slowly while she closed her eyes. ‘’I remember nothing. All I remember is having few drinks at the bar as I waited for you and Val to finish with your romance’’ she managed to mutter while I rolled my eyes as the memories of what we did the previous day played back in my head.

Two hours later we were back in the house to face my mum who was as curious as ever. I had to leave Vivian in her room to rest further while mum and I went into my room to talk. For the first time, I opened up to her, telling her everything and hiding nothing. I had no choice than to tell her everything myself because I knew she would still find out if I hid my story. However I couldn’t help but smile inside as I noticed the different expressions her face gave out as I narrated everything to her, including my rekindled relationship with val. Seriously I didn’t know what got over me that gave me the mind to open up to her as if we were mates. ‘’so you see mum, there is no doubt Charles is behind everything. I won’t marry him anymore. He’s too tricky. He has a bad heart. He’s a chameleon’’ I concluded seriously while my old lady grabbed a bottle of water which was on my table, drank it and breathed deeply. ‘’my ears are filled up believe me. Dear Lord, you children of nowadays is something else. Gosh I feel so terrible and disgusted’’ she muttered with a frown. ‘’mum let’s talk about the current issue at hand please. How do I deal with Charles?. I need your help. I need your support’’ I asked seriously. ‘’you should first ask yourself if all Vivian told you was the truth in the first place?, even according to your story she had and still has a thing for your val. Are you really sure she told you the truth?. Let’s not sacrifice Charles yet till we confront him. He called me yesterday evening, full of excitement that he finally secured the ministry of works deal he has been fighting for his father. He equally hinted of making full payment for a house he got close to ours for your sake. Do you think such a guy is capable of doing all you accused him of?’’ mum asked while I drew back in despair. I couldn’t help but feel that I made a mistake telling her the whole story. ‘’Anyway first thing first, since Charles will be showing up either today or tomorrow we will confront him together and decide afterwards. Do you agree??’’ she asked while I swallowed hard and nodded. Deep down I felt very uncomfortable.
How do I get to catch him red handed?
‘’You know what, just forget about questioning Charles. I will deal with it my own way please’’ I suddenly begged surprising my mother who stared at me suspiciously. ‘’what do you mean by that?, what do you plan doing?’’ she asked quickly while I smiled to calm her down. ‘’nothing mother, just don’t ask him anything, moreover you don’t expect him to turn up, do you?’’ I replied breathlessly. ‘’you can’t expect me to keep quiet after all I just heard. Since you are sure that Charles isn’t what he claims to be, allow me to confront him’’ she pushed on while I shook my head in disagreement. Luckily her personal assistant walked into the room before our argument could heat up and informed her that the director of state services and his wife were waiting for her in the living room. I instantly stood up as if I was the person they came to see while my mother gave me another suspicious look.
‘’what’s the matter?’’ she asked. ‘’nothing mum, just leave Charles for me’’ I breathed and ran to the living room. It really was as if God touched the director’s heart, making him show up at the house by that crucial hour. Of course his presence saved me the stress of going to his office. Yes I badly needed to see him just like Val advised. I was told he was a good man.
I had no difficulty dragging the surprised man to Vivian’s room where he listened to all Vivian had to say. ‘’are you really sure Mr. Charles did all these?. How can one man be so ruthless and still appear like a gentleman at the same time?’’ the old man queried with an excited tone. ‘’we dropped the file we had on him when he kidnapped you months back miss Clara because your father wasn’t willing to push on with the case but with the story I just heard, I guess we have to do something fast’’ he added thoughtfully
‘’Anyway I think the police should be better in handling this present case. Have you guys informed the state police commissioner yet?’’ he asked ‘’no and that’s the problem. Charles’ has very big connections in the police department. They are his buddies and there isn’t anyone we can trust than you. Agent Val specifically told us to meet you’’ I pushed in.
‘’Hmmm agent Val? why is that guy always coming up in everything concerning this family?. Assuming every other agent assigned to the governor is behaving like him I doubt if the department will still be in existence,’’ he muttered to himself while I seized my breath as I watched him.
‘’Anyway I will invite Val to my office to talk to him’’ he promised, smiled and left. ‘’do you really think he will help us?’’ Vivian softly asked. I turned to face her with a smile even though I really wasn’t sure myself because he didn’t promise anything. ‘’I fear for my family, I fear for my boyfriend. I shouldn’t have talked to you’’ She sulked like a terrified child. I softly sat on her bed and smiled deeply. ‘’I promise you nothing will happen to them’’ I assured her.

Val’s side of the story continues (4:35pm same evening):

I was busy with my laptop going through the CCTV record I got from the hotel when my phone rang. I cursed as I stared at the ringing phone. Of course I wasn’t in my best mood because I was yet to find what I was looking for at the footage. The video record of the bar was very accurate but gave out nothing incriminating. There wasn’t sign of anyone approaching Vivian’s table or tampering with her drinks. The only suspicious move I could get my hands on was when she left the bar, probably to the toilet, a middle aged man had quickly followed her but unfortunately there wasn’t any CCTV coverage of the toilet or the hallway leading to the toilet which kind of left me with only a guess.
My phone rang again for the second time breaking the silence in the room, I lazily picked it up and was surprised when the caller introduced herself.
‘’Hello, I’m Miss Chima, the first lady’s special assistant’’ she introduced herself. ‘’Hope I’m speaking with agent Val?’’ she asked
‘’Yes of course you are’’ I answered softly.
‘’my boss wants to see you at her office right away. It’s very urgent and I advice you leave whatever you are doing and head over to her office right away’’ she muttered and hung up while I drew back with serious doubts. I had no current dealings with the governor’s wife I could remember and so the invitation was very suspicious. Nevertheless I left all I was doing and headed to the state first lady’s office with a fast pounding heart.
On getting to her office I met her assistant waiting for me at the door. She instantly led me into the office where the old lady was waiting for me. I couldn’t help but wondered the reason behind the urgency and the reason for asking me to show up in her office instead of her house.
‘’Agent Val, kindly sit down I want to talk to you’’ she said softly. I silently obeyed, sat down and faced her.
‘’what is it you have with my daughter?’’ she curiously asked, leaving me totally confused and speechless. Of course I couldn’t get myself to say anything because I really didn’t know how much she knew about Clara and I.
‘’However, I invited you here to beg you to leave my daughter alone. The poor girl is not used to how things work here in Nigeria. Ever since you came into our lives it has been one problem to another. Assuming other agents we have with us are behaving like you, we would have all been dead. I don’t care what you have with Charles or my daughter but I’m warning you now to stay away from my family. It’s not your business if my daughter marries Charles or any other man. You have a good job, you are young, and full of life. I beg of you stay away from my family or I will be forced to act like an angry mother’’ she seriously appealed while I nodded like a lazy student unable to say a word to defend neither myself nor my actions. What was there to even say? She gave me no room for explanation.
Deep down I kind of felt that it was silly of me to have involved myself with Clara again but it was all the fault of love.
‘’Hmmmm! love until you finally lose your job or life’’ a second voice mused in my head.

Clara’s side of the story continues (10am, next day):

I was busy going through a fashion magazine I got from mum’s room when I heard someone knock and enter my room. I turned to see Charles smiling like an angel. As usual he was well dressed in a well fitting black suit like he always does. He equally was holding a small customized bag. I seized my breath for some seconds as I tried to compose myself. ‘’my love I missed you. It’s been quite a while. Oh you look so pale gracious me’’ he breathed, sat on my bed, dropped the bag, kissed my hand and equally pecked me. I couldn’t help but shiver as I wondered the kind of guy he really was. He was such a good actor, so perfect and convincing. I also couldn’t help but notice that he polished his approach towards me a little more.
‘’of course why shouldn’t I look pale? My parents want me to stay a whole year here doing nothing while I’m dying to go back to the U.S. I can’t take it anymore’’ I softly replied. He smiled and brought up the bag he came with.
‘’There are many places I could have taken you to but you have been very uptight towards me. I had plans to make your stay very comfortable here but you kind of preferred being with other people than being with me. Anyway I got these stones for you directly from The House of Tiffany’’ he muttered with a smile, fetching out a pave diamond bangle bracelet from the bag. I stared at him not exactly knowing what to say. The gift was really super enticing with its flawless dimensional designs. He smiled as he noticed the interest in my eyes, reached into the bag once again and brought out a small box which he quickly opened, revealing a shiny basket weave bracelet and a heart pendant with my name embedded fancily. Of course I knew they cost him a fortune to get and I had a tough time contemplating whether to accept them or not.
‘’they are all for you my dear, and yes I have a whole lot more surprises’’ he added while I dropped my eyes.
‘’thank you Charles but you shouldn’t have gotten all these for me because I don’t need them. What if I refuse to accept?’’ I asked softly.
’Hmmmm! No you got to accept my dear, it will be unladylike of you to reject such splendid gifts’’ he pushed on.
‘’Thanks,’’ I forced out a smile. He heaved a sigh of relief, drew close and kissed my hair.
‘’I have talked to your dad about the traditional marriage rites. You have nothing to worry about. You don’t even need to be present. It’s just between your family and mine’’ he added while I drew back with a frown.
‘’what again my dear?’’ he asked, looking surprised.
‘’Nothing, nothing I’m okay’’ I stammered and got out of the bed, backing him.
‘’I heard Vivian is back? I also heard that she’s still not a hundred percent okay?’’ he asked while I closed my eyes, breathed deeply, turned and faced him.
‘’yes I think someone is trying to frame her up or kill her,’’ I replied, studying his reaction but he gave out nothing away. He just only appeared surprised.
‘’seriously someone is trying to frame her?’’ he asked. I shrugged.
“let’s go see her please. After seeing her we will go check out the new house I bought’’ he added. I shrugged once again and led him to Vivian’s room where the poor girl had a hard time acting cool. Charles acted as if he knew nothing about the whole issue, and asked lots of prying questions like a detective. He even offered to call the state police commissioner. I couldn’t help but imagine what was going through his head. I also couldn’t help but imagine how he would have acted supposing we confronted him with my mother. Of course I knew he was well prepared for any scenario and probably played along with us. Moreover with Vivian’s tape he could get Val in jail any time he wanted and Vivian’s creditability and sanity could be questioned if she tries to speak out. Just like Val, she was really in a very big mess without realizing it. Yes she played into his hand very easily if all she told me was really the truth. After talking with Vivian, Charles virtually dragged me to his new house, a very spacious mansion I knew cost him a fortune.
‘’yes I paid for this house with my own money’’ he boasted as he took me round the house.
‘’you know I still can’t point out exactly what you do for a living other than running errands for your father. So are you telling me you bought this house from the salary you earned from working with him?’’ I asked while for the first time I got him a bit uncomfortable. He kind of frowned before forcing out a smile as he led me to the spacious master bedroom where he instantly grabbed me, kissing my neck.

At first I thought it was just a harmless play but unfortunately he wouldn’t let me go, instead he reached for my bosoms while I struggled to be free. ‘’come on you are my wife already, why the struggle’’ he breathed as he strongly tried to go on with his sexual play but I fought back. ‘’why are you this way my love?, I have done everything possible to make you happy. What else do you want from me?, why can’t you give me your body, heart and soul?. I beg of you my love, tell me what else you need?’’ he breathed as he tried holding me to his chest. Luckily for me, his phone rang that moment; he cursed, drew away from me and picked up his call. ‘’oh dear please wait for me, I will be back shortly’’ he instantly begged and hurriedly left the room while I heaved a sigh of relief, arranged my hair and headed to the door to leave. But as soon as I opened the door I came face to face with a six foot plus lady who kind of surprised me with her presence.
‘’Good day madam Clara , my name is Celine and I’m Mr. Charles personal secretary and assistant. He sent me to get his briefcase,’’ the tall lady breathed politely while I left my eyes on her face as I tried to remember where I once saw the face. Slowly it flashed into my head. She was the tall lady I saw at the gate of All Seasons hotel the evening Vivian was drugged. Yes I easily noticed her that fateful evening because of her extraordinary height.
‘’You look very familiar, have we met before?’’ I asked Celine, to see how she would react to the question. She smiled and nodded. ‘’of course we have ran into each other a couple of times but you probably never noticed me,’’ she quickly replied. I shrugged and made way for her to enter the room while thousands of ideas ran through my head. ‘’thank you dear’’ she soon breathed and headed out of the room while I waited few seconds before heading out as well.
As I headed down the stairs leading to the main entrance door, Charles who was with about five guys in the sitting room instantly got up as soon as he saw me. He left his visitors and approached me with a visibly worried look.
‘’where are you going my dear?’’ he asked curiously, grabbing my hand. ‘’I’m leaving. I have seen the house and it’s very beautiful’’ I muttered, forcing out a smile. ‘’so you can’t even give me few minutes to attend to my friends?, that’s not fair’’ he protested.
‘’I came here willingly to see your new house, please don’t spoil my mood by stopping me from leaving. You know what happens when I get angry’’ I threatened. He drew back and shrugged. ‘’very well then, I will ask one of my boys to take you home’’ he breathed while I nodded in acceptance.

Ten minutes later, I was on my way home in Charles’s car. I couldn’t help but think of how to follow up with the discovery I just made. Of course it couldn’t just be a coincidence that Charles’s assistant was at the same hotel the evening Vivian was drugged. She could be behind it all and yes Vivian was really right all along.

On getting home, I instantly called Val on phone. ‘’how do we see this evening?’’ I asked softly, ‘’Huh? That can be arranged now,’’ he kind of stammered. ‘’just go to a good secured guest house, send me the location and wait for me’’ I nervously said to him.
(Val’ story continues:)

I was busy going over the CCTV tape from the hotel for the umpteenth time while thinking over all Clara’s mum said to me at the same time when my phone rang and it was Clara calling. I dropped all I was doing and answered her call, smiling as I listened to all she said. She wanted us to meet again in a guest house and of course I knew we couldn’t meet in such a place without another hot sex session. I whistled happily as I tried to figure out the best guest house suitable for our meeting. Of course Owerri town is well known as a capital city with lots of hotels and guest houses.

By 4.30pm the same day, we were already in a guest house we agreed to meet:
‘’So have your director called you yet?’’ Clara asked as we faced each other inside one of the rooms in a guest house down town.
‘’No and I’m kind of worried,’’ I replied ‘’but he promised to get in touch with you.
Anyway let’s wait till Monday,’’ she breathed with a smile.
‘’Charles took me to see his new house today and while I was there I met this tall lady who introduced herself as his personal assistant. But the funny thing was that I equally saw the same lady at the hotel the evening Vivian was drugged. Oh God! I forgot asking you to bring the CCTV record you got from the hotel, I bet she was at the bar with Vivian that very evening’’ she added thoughtfully while I nodded.
‘’yes the bar had a lot of customers that evening and she could be one of the ladies there at that hour. Anyway I guess I will have to wait till I get home to check her out with your description’’ I muttered with resignation. She smiled and drew closer.
‘’you have to be very careful with Charles. There is no doubt he knows everything and could be planning something new for us. He might even be aware that we are here together and seriously I still don’t know where our relationship is leading to’’ I breathed.
‘’who cares jor. You know I feel like taking you home and screaming to everyone that we are in love’’ she giggled playfully, turning up the passion in me. I softly reached for her, dropping a kiss on her lips that ignited the flame of love between us. In no time we tore off our clothes and began another round of passionate love making that left us breathless when we were done.
I had the opportunity to tell her of my encounter with her mother, but I couldn’t get myself to open up to her even though I swore to be honest with her in everything.

I got home at 7:02pm to meet my apartment totally ransacked. My computer, some valuables and the CCTV record I got from the hotel gone. It sure looked like a break in but I knew it was no ordinary break in.

Meanwhile, back at the governor’s house, Vivian is seen arguing with her boyfriend doctor Chinedu who appeared all shaken up and sad. He was kneeling and holding Vivian who was equally in tears as if something terrible just happened:
‘’my love I can’t allow you to break up with me because of your revenge plans. Just leave everything in God’s hands and move on with your life. We can have a quiet wedding and leave this country before Monday evening. You know I came home solely to marry you and I can’t leave just like that. I also can’t allow you to continue with this madness. I was set up with drugs and you hid the real facts from me. You equally got drugged and instead of learning your lesson, you are asking me to stay away from you until you put that bastard in jail. You don’t know how much that guy is willing to go to ruin you. I can’t allow you to continue with this madness. This is insane’’ Chinedu protested while I closed my eyes.
‘’yes I’m in pain. I’m insane, I’m clueless but one thing I know for sure is that I will be in court one day testifying against that criminal. All I ask of you is to stay away from me until my aim is achieved. I don’t want you getting hurt. You can even go back to India I beg of you’’ I pleaded desperately.
‘’listen to yourself my dear. You said someday you will be in court testifying against him. This is Nigeria. He has power, he has money. The only thing you have on your side is just the family name and nothing. Forget this madness my love’’ he pleaded strongly.
‘’if you are in my position will you just leave everything in God’s hands and walk away?’’ I asked bitterly.

At the other end of the house, Clara is seen gently walking back to her room after a heated sex session with Val downtown. Due to the sex guilt she was having, she tried to avoid being noticed or questioned but unfortunately, she ran into Charles who has been waiting all evening for her
‘’where went you my love?’’ he asked while Clara froze, leaving a smile of understanding on his face.
‘’I don’t think I owe you any explanation Charles. I went out to see a friend and that’s it’’ I answered a bit coldly. He shrugged, drew closer and held me by the waist.
‘’I really don’t know what else to do to prove to you how much I love you. I have more than enough money to last three generations. I’m young, I’m not bad looking. I’m from a good family. What exactly do I need to do to prove myself’’ he asked seriously.
‘’I thought you have already started marriage talks with my family?, what again do you want me to tell you huh? Please I just want to sleep. I’m very tired’’ I replied, broke free from him and fell on my bed, breathing heavily.
‘’you went to see that bastard right? You can’t even spend up to five minutes in my house but you spent all evening with him. Don’t worry I will try my best to prove to you that he’s nothing but a gold digger’’ he breathed furiously and left while I smiled to myself.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

2pm the next day, I got a message from my deputy director to show up immediately at the department. I quickly dressed up and headed out of the house, so happy I was finally being called back. Yes I had been expecting to be called back since the beginning of the week and I couldn’t help but sing happily as I drove down to the state department.

On getting there, I was quickly directed to the conference room where I was surprised to see agent Jennifer seated with the state director, the head of operations, the deputy director that invited me on phone and two other senior colleagues. Another unfamiliar agent stood in front of a projector which displayed a crude drawing of two men. I nervously walked into the room, breathing deeply.
‘’welcome back agent Val, I guess you are fit to resume with us?’’ the deputy director asked while I nodded, swallowing hard.
‘’good, this is senior special agent Bola Davis, he came all the way from our headquarters with agent Jennifer on a new assignment. Mr Bola is an Assistant Chief Security Intelligence Officer on international operations and he has worked together with the CIA and FBI in the past. We called you in because of a special request being made on your behalf by agent Jennifer and the state director. I hope you don’t disappoint us again’’ the deputy director addressed me as I sat down before them. Senior special agent bola quickly cleared his throat and got to business without giving me any chance to answer. There wasn’t any doubt he was in a hurry to get on with the job at hand.
‘’we got a not too detailed report from Interpol last weekend on two drug barons from this part of Nigeria who are taking drug trafficking to a whole new level. Over the past six months about sixty boys have been caught with different types of narcotic drugs especially cocaine and according to the information sent to us by Interpol, more than twice that figure is suspected to have successfully made it across. With investigations, profiling and statements gotten from some of the arrested boys we got two names Charlieman and Donpatric plus a sketch of what they looked like. We have no strong evidence linking these two men to drug trafficking and we believe they run the cartel through agents, series of networks and fronts. So getting them is going to be pretty tough and that’s where your department comes in. Charlieman has been identified to be no other person than Mr. Charles, the fiancé to the governor’s daughter and I believe every agent in the state knows him very well. I brought agent Jennifer with me on the director’s request and I believe you guys can dig deep and get me results. Please my office is under fire from the presidency to get results. The image of the country has been ruined enough and the NDLEA is filled with corruption. Getting at least one of these two men could help the president save face in the international community. Thank you,’’ senior special agent Bola lectured, leaving the whole room quiet for a while.
‘’Agent Val here has a very good history with Mr. Charles and that’s why I asked for him to be brought into the case and with agent Jennifer partnering with him, I believe we will get results’’ the state director assured him while agent Jennifer nodded.
‘’Yes Mr. Charles has a very weak spot and that’s his obsession with Miss Clara, the state governor’s daughter. I believe that’s the weak point we should exploit but then it could lead to collateral damage. Miss Clara could end up being put in harms’ way,’’ Jennifer chipped in.
‘’I just need results and I don’t care how you get it; moreover the girl is already in harms’ way by dealing with a drug trafficker’’ senior special agent Bola replied seriously while my heart froze. I was unable to contribute to the discussion because I really had nothing to say. Yes I knew Charles hands weren’t clean but I never imagined he could be into drug business, moreover he was from a very wealthy home and had no need getting his hands dirty for money unless his father equally was in the business or retired.
‘’This dude is from a wealthy family. I hope we are all right in this’’ the deputy director who has been silent all along muttered.
‘’Yes and that’s a good front to hide his shady deals’’ Mr Bola replied .
‘’My only problem right now is the issue of accommodation, I don’t like staying in hotels and I will like to stay in Val’s place if he doesn’t mind’’ Jennifer chipped in, changing the topic as she threw a quick inquisitive look at me.
‘’Of course you can stay with me as long as you wish,’’ I replied without thinking twice, leaving a smile of satisfaction on her face.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

Jennifer’s stay with me was awesome all through. We were in my car for routine check to know if our assignment could be tempter when we cornered to a restaurant only to spot the same tall girl Clara introduced to me as Celine. I killed the engine of my car leaving Jennifer behind.
‘’Hello, how are you? Actually my name is Val, we have run into each other a couple of times but I don’t know if you noticed or not’’ I kind of stammered, very surprised that I wasn’t able to make an eloquent introduction. She shrugged, staring at me inquisitively. ‘’I don’t know how you will see this request but I will actually love to discuss something with you at your leisure time. Please can I have your card or phone number?’’ I asked with a forced smile. She silently studied me for few seconds before shrugging once again. ‘’sure you can have my number’’ she guardedly muttered, putting my mind at ease as she took my phone and entered her number. I smiled gratefully and thanked her.

‘’so how did it go?’’ Jennifer curiously asked with a smile when I returned to the car.
‘’it went well, we can now plan for the next stage’’ I replied happily while she shrugged. There wasn’t any doubt she wasn’t very much comfortable with the plan.

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

On the same morning I was with Vivian in her room discussing and arguing with her over her reason for asking Chinedu to stay away when I got a call from Charles that he was in the sitting room upstairs waiting for me. I left Vivian and nervously headed to the sitting room to see him. I
wasn’t really expecting him and he never told me he was coming. . . Anyway that was his style, always showing up without any notification.
‘’My love how are you doing?’’ he asked with a smile, standing up to hug me as soon as I got to the sitting room. I forced out a smile as he kissed my hair.
‘’I came with bright news my dear. I hope this will make you smile’’ he softly muttered, leaving me
slightly curious. I brought up my eyes to meet his gaze.
‘’something came up my dear. Plans have changed sweety’’ he breathed, bringing down his hands to my cheeks and leaving me colored up with his touch. ‘’we leave for Paris in few days dearie. We are getting married there. A short ceremony and nothing more. We will complete the traditional rites when we return. I hope that suits you?’’ he muttered, trying hard to smile as if all was alright but I wasn’t a kid. I could tell he was nervous and a bit shaky. I could tell all wasn’t well. ‘’what?, this is my life we are talking about?, you can’t be making decisions as it suits you without first seeking my opinion. What happened to the old plans you were forcing on me? Anyway I’m not even going anywhere with you. You can leave for your Paris anytime you want. I’m tired of seeing you everyday’’ I replied with a raised tone while he held me strongly.
‘’my dear I’m taking you to Paris. The dream of every woman, Of course I know you can afford going there on your own but without a man it won’t be fun. Come on why are you so uptight? You never wanted a big wedding and I chose to do this for you’’ he pleaded.
‘’I can’t marry you. Forget it Charles. I used to think I know you but I don’t. Your life is filled with secrecy and confusion. Just look for another woman‘’ I breathed, breaking free from him and stepping backwards.
‘’I have already talked to your mum about it and she didn’t protest, of course they will show up at the wedding’’ he added with a smile while I scoffed and backed him.
‘’I don’t know what you have on my parents that are making them dance to your tune but it won’t work for me. I feel nothing for you. Each passing day increases my hatred towards you’’ I
breathed softly. Somehow my words made him snap and lose control..
‘’you are just a naïve girl and I’m done begging and pampering you’’ he hissed.
‘’you are running away from Nigeria isn’t it so?. What else could make you want to leave in a hurry?’’ I asked thoughtfully, turning to face him.
‘’my dear all you have to do is to go prepare for the trip ahead and not questioning me. You have a lot of packing to do and I have a lot of planning to do’’ he softly breathed, drawing close to hold my waist.
‘’get off me Charles. I don’t want to see you ever again. I can’t bear your touch anymore. You make me sick. I’m not going anywhere with you’’ I fired angrily, hitting him on the chest and provoking him further.
‘’how many times did you sleep with that idiot?’’ he strangely asked. ‘’do you really want to know?, I can’t count how many times I sleep with him and yes I don’t regret it’’ I replied bravely, very much
surprised with myself. Perhaps it really was his sudden decision to take me to Paris that got me all fired up in such alarming way. Yes and he was really having a hard time controlling the rage building up in him.
‘’Spoilt kids like you really don’t know that the world is a tough place to be. You have everything provided for you and all you dream of day and night is love and silly romance. You get your head filled up with silly books, stories and soap operas. You don’t know what your parents pass through every day to provide for you. You don’t know what a guy like me goes through to make it in a harsh economy. I’m offering you the whole world and all you do is spit on me. Now I’m going to break down everything for you the way you will understand and I call that leverage’’ he breathed furiously.
‘’I have a tape which could land your lover boy in jail anytime I want and as for Vivian and her family, just a little twist from me will make everyone of them become permanent tenants in a federal prison of my choice over drug trafficking. . . hmmm and your family. Yes the scandal it will create will be too hot for your dad to continue being the state governor. He will either resign or be impeached. And as for you, you will end up being a very miserable girl who will spend the rest of her life regretting ever making a bad decision.’’ he threatened softly, leaving me so furious and fired up. I instantly slapped him, shaking with rage. He licked his lips and smiled.
‘’yes that’s my girl. I bet you can’t live in poverty. I bet you can’t live to see all your loved ones in jail. You can’t live with nothing. I’m just offering you two books. One for happiness, the other for a life of penury and shame, it’s all left for you my love to chose.’’ He added while my eyes melted
with tears.
‘’you are a devil. You are heartless’’ I cried.
‘’no you are the one being heartless and cruel my dear. I have known you for years. I have been close to you more than any guy. I have been your friend more than anyone. But what do I get in
the end?, rejection, deception, heartbreak. You even cheated on me with an agent sent to be your
bodyguard. You never cared for my feelings. You never cared for all the sleepless nights I had, the pains I went through to struggle on my own, to make my own money so that you could be proud of me. You never cared and now you call me heartless when I open up the reality of your decision. My love I’m not heartless, you are the inconsiderate one here. So get ready. We are leaving for Paris, The city of lights. The city of love,’’ he poured out, leaving me so broken and empty. Yes he had me where he wanted. There wasn’t a way I was going to let my family humiliated and kicked out of power. There wasn’t a way I was going to let my loved ones rot in jail.
‘’dear lord why? I’m supposed to be happy as the governor’s daughter but my life is nothing but a living hell,’’ I cried.
‘’my love don’t cry, I beg of you. It hurts me seeing you like this,’’ he surprisngly begged, drawing my head to his chest as I sobbed.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

I barely had returned to the office with Jennifer when Clara called me on phone, sounding much stressed up.
‘’I want us to see right now, will it be possible?’’ she asked softly.
‘’now?, yes, hope you are fine?’’ I asked breathlessly.
‘’yes I’m fine, let’s meet at the usual place. I will be there in thirty minutes’’ she added and hung up, leaving me a bit worried because it was the first time she was asking for us to meet at our usual
guest house very early in the day.
‘’Clara wants us to meet now’’ I opened up to Jennifer whose curious eyes were all over me.
‘’alright then I will have to wait for you at the office’’ she replied with a smile.

Forty minutes later, Clara and I met at our usual meeting point. She looked very troubled and shaky. There wasn’t any doubt something serious was bothering her.
‘’my love, make love to me’’ she begged like a possessed girl as she threw herself on me.
‘’you are not okay, what’s the matter?’’ I asked curiously.
‘’just make love to me first, I beg of you,’’ she begged with tears in her eyes. I couldn’t understand her. I couldn’t understand the reason for such outburst. I equally couldn’t get myself to make love
to her in the condition she was.
‘’what’s wrong dear, come on tell me’’ I demanded curiously
‘’Charles changed his plans once again. he wants me to travel to Paris with him. He wants us to get married there. We could leave any moment. I just don’t know what to do,’’ she poured out
solemnly.
‘’come on that’s easy, simply say no to him. He won’t carry you to Paris, Will he?’’ I asked quickly.
‘’it’s more than that. He threatened throwing you in jail, he threatened destroying my family and everything I cared for. No one can stop him. The police can’t do anything. Your department equally can’t do anything. I guess I’m destined to be with him forever and I have resigned myself to the fate. This could be our last time together’’ she sobbed, breaking my heart with the terrible words that came from her mouth.
‘’you can’t leave with him, I won’t allow that’’ I breathed fiercely.
‘’there is nothing you can do my love. Instead you could end up in jail. Think about your family. Just let me be’’ she cried.
‘’I swear you are not going anywhere with him. I will do everything possible to stop it’’ I promised…

Later that same evening, Jennifer and I traced Celine to her house. Of course the news of Charles’s intending travel kind of jolted me to my feet. I knew I had little time to save the situation. I had to do everything possible including playing dirty to stop him, hence the impromptu decision to visit Celine.

On returning to the office after meeting with Clara earlier in the day, Jennifer had suggested we talk to Celine together which left us with the decision of tracking her to her house, a low cost three bedroom building very close to Charles’s new house).

‘’what the hell are you doing here?’’ Celine asked with disbelief as soon as she opened the door to see Jennifer and I.
‘’we are here to talk to you and its better you cooperate and get immunity from what’s coming’’ Jennifer said with a smile, flashing her I.D.
She had no choice than to hesitantly allow us into the sitting room.
‘’what do you want?’’ she asked.
‘’information about your boss. We have been watching you guys for a while and I don’t think you will like to spend the rest of your life in jail while he jets out to Paris to enjoy his life and marry a new wife after using you like a rag?’’ Jennifer said softly. ‘’I don’t think you have anything on my boss or on me, if not I won’t be talking to you in my house. So I advise you guys leave now,’’ she replied seriously.
‘’my dear either way you are as good as gone. Once Mr. Charles learns that you are talking with us he will definitely discard you and we will be out there waiting for your corpse or waiting to put you in jail. We already have all the information we need. We only need you on our side to testify in court and nothing more. If you won’t talk with us, we will definitely find another person to help us. There is no need playing dumb with us. The drug deals, the recruitment, the transportation and every document is with us. It’s all left for you my dear to redeem yourself by helping us,’’ I said with a smile, praying for her to fall for my words. Of course we really had nothing strong. All I said were just made up.
‘’so that was the reason you approached me this morning huh?’’ she asked
‘’can you even guarantee my life afterwards?. Just leave me alone please,’’ she screamed.
‘’Fine here is my number, call me when you make up your mind,’’ Jennifer added, wrote down her number on a paper and dropped on the table.

‘’That was a nice show we put up with her but very risky. Do you think she will fall for it?’’ Jennifer asked with a smile as we left the house.
‘’I hope so, I believe things are no longer going fine in their camp and this could be her only way out’’ I breathed. Yes I was very desperate.

[Two weeks later, at DSS state headquarters Owerri]

Agent Val, Jennifer, the head of operations, the state director and senior special agent Bola are seen facing Celine in the interrogation room. The young lady surprisingly showed up that
morning offering to talk in return for immunity against prosecution and seizure of her illegally acquired wealth. A deal the department quickly made with her.
‘’As I talk to you now, my boss is at the governor’s house. His helicopter is waiting at the airport. He plans heading to Paris through Ghana with Miss Clara. That’s all I know about his current plans and you have to stop him before he gets to the helicopter. As for the hard drugs you can’t find any at his house. He has many off-site facilities and agents. I can give you their names but they are all ghosts. I don’t think my boss is running from the law but from his partner Donpatric who has always been against his relationship with Clara. The two men are now at war with each other and that’s the main reason he’s getting married in Paris instead of Nigeria’’ Celine revealed softly while I impatiently listened. I had many things in my head to ask but at the moment all I needed was a way to stop the idiot from leaving the country.
‘’please give us something we can use to stop him right now. We need concrete evidence’’ I interrupted.
‘’okay fine, you can stop him over money laundering for the meantime. His house has a very big underground hall, built like a bank bulk room. I bet you will find close to five hundred million naira in there” she opened up while special agent Bola heaved a sigh of relief as the head of
operations nodded to Jennifer and I.
‘’Agent Jennifer get your team ready and storm the house. Agent Val, head over to the governor’s house with five men. Keep close watch and wait for instructions’’ he ordered, leaving a smile on my face. Yes things were about going in my favour even though Celine’s sudden change of mind at the last minute was very much suspicious to me. I kind of felt she wasn’t really after the immunity she asked for but perhaps more interested in getting back at Charles. Anyway all I cared for at that minute was stopping Charles from leaving.

[To be continued]

TRUE TRAGIC LOVE: CLARA THE GOVERNOR’S DAUGHTER (PART FOUR)

Have you read other parts? If NO, read them below

Part one

Part two

Part three

 

 

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

My phone was soon bombarded with calls and text messages as we headed home, giving me no chance to discuss things Charles. It was just as if some of my friends who weren’t at the wedding ceremony all got the news of my engagement in a flash. I really was in a very precarious situation. I was very much confused over how to follow things up. Charles on his own part kept smiling like someone who won a jackpot. We got back to his house without discussing a thing.

However as I settled on my bed to think things through, he walked in and sat on the bed.
‘’How do you feel my dear?’’ he asked calmly. ‘’I feel awful. You used me Charles. You took advantage of my trust and forgiveness’’ I replied with a raised tone. ‘’’but I only proposed to you before all our friends for you to see that I’m genuinely in love with you, For you to see that I very much want to be with you, For you to see my seriousness. Come on my dear, don’t tell me I did wrong again. Wasn’t it a good surprise?’’ he asked with an innocent tone. I sat up on the bed, pulled out the ring and offered back to him. ‘’I don’t need your ring Charles. Not now, not yet’’ I said simply, shocking him with my words. ‘’I beg of you Clara?, what is this madness?’’ he breathed, drawing backwards. ‘’I don’t want to be engaged with you yet. I only accepted your proposal in order not to hurt your ego; I did it to help you save face. I didn’t want to embarrass you before everyone’’ I muttered. ‘’then kindly keep the ring and still pretend that all is still fine. I can give you all the time in the world to make up your mind. I really see no reason why you are having a double mind all of a sudden. Every other girls would be happy to marry me but you are so unbelievable. This isn’t fair to me at all. This is supposed to me my happiest day’’ he sulked, trying hard to play the victim. ‘’I don’t care what you say or feel. Just take back your ring or I will throw it away’’ I threatened. He softly took the ring, stood up and left the room without another word. I fell back on my bed and cried. Of course I couldn’t say if I did the right thing or not.

Early the next day, we headed back to the east in a cold mood. Of course after all that happened the previous day, I was so eager to head home because I knew the more I stayed with him the more uncomfortable I would be. I couldn’t sleep the previous night and very early in the morning I had dressed up and walked up to his room to tell him that I was leaving. At first he appeared confused but when he noticed that I was very determined to leave on my own he had no option than to offer to take me home. He silently drove, saying nothing to me while I busied myself with my thoughts. I had a lot to think and so his silence never got to me. When we eventually got home around 7:10pm, I simply muttered a quick ‘’thank you’’ to him and headed to my room without turning back. At exactly 10pm, that same evening, mum surprised me by walking into my room. It was something she rarely did and I couldn’t even remember the last time she came into my room. She softly sat on my bed, breathed deeply and placed her hand on my body. ‘’how do you feel my dear?’’ she asked ‘’I feel awful mum’’ I confessed. ‘’Charles told me everything and I understand how you feel but you should please act like an adult and stop behaving like a baby. You already accepted him publicly and as far as I know he is yet to do anything that would lead to a change of mind’’ she added softly. I sat up and faced her. ‘’I only accepted his proposal because I didn’t want to embarrass him’’ I defended weakly. ‘’I know but what good will it be for his image, for people to hear that you broke up with him the same evening you accepted him before everyone. It’s still the same as rejecting him publicly. As far as I know, you don’t have any other strong suitor you have feelings for. So take back your ring and act like an adult. You are engaged to him doesn’t mean that you are married to him. Wear his ring and still take your time to make a good decision. For now you are blinded by the past. You can still call it off in the end when have a good reason. You once told me that love is never enough. So calm down, and act like a woman. You already accepted him before the whole world. So take back your ring’’ she said strongly, leaving me with no choice than to obey and hesitantly take back Charles’s ring she brought along. I wore it and looked down. She drew close and hugged me ‘’when I married your father, I liked him, I was a bit fond of him but was never in love with him. I had other admirers who were more fashionable, handsome and presentable than him but I chose him because I saw he had a good future and ambition more than the rest. Now here I’m a governor’s wife and an envy of many women. So my dear, I totally agreed with you when you said love is never enough. You have my spirit and I know you are wise. Charles has all it takes to go far in life and you guys already have a history together’’ she added convincingly, caging my feelings with her subtle words.

Val’s side of the story continues at that same moment:

(Val is seen talking to agent Jennifer who listens with great interest)

‘’so that was how Charles brutally stabbed Vivian and I that fateful evening and all I just told is exactly how it happened and the threats he made. Right now I’m scared of Clara’s safety and I know my story is hard to believe but I’m also disappointed that you guys didn’t investigate properly before concluding that Vivian and I had a fight and I stabbed her. I’m a trained agent and supposing I wanted Vivian killed, it wouldn’t have been messy as it is,’’ I summarized convincingly while Jennifer nodded. ‘’I believe you Val but for now you should lay low and wait to heal first. By then the department must have made a decision on your case. I believe by that time Vivian must have recovered as well and once she returns to the country, her words will be enough to nail Charles’’ she breathed softly while I returned her gaze with great gratitude. She really sacrificed a lot to keep my mum and I company all the time I was down. There was no doubt she believed in me.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

Early the next morning, I was woken up by loud knocks coming from my door entrance. I quickly washed my face and mouth before checking who was knocking and on getting to the door; I met the greatest surprise of my life. I opened the door to see Charles smiling at me.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t believe he still had the courage to show up at my house after what he did the last time. There wasn’t any doubt he was getting bolder with each passing day.
‘’Hello Val, I can’t believe you recovered. I’m here for something important. Maybe we can reach a deal’’ he added with a smile, while I gnashed my teeth and controlled my temper. My main worry was my mother who was in the other room.
Yes I knew I was going to face Charles once again but I never knew it was going to be so soon and of course wasn’t really prepared for him. I was just so vulnerable that moment, very vulnerable. I equally didn’t know what he had planned out already and everything just seem to be working perfectly in his favour.
‘’can we go inside and talk?’’ Charles asked calmly as if we were nothing but friends. I scoffed and shook my head.
‘’say whatever you came here for and disappear before I lose my temper’’ I replied with a slightly raised tone while he laughed.
‘’you see the difference between us? I think before I act while you act before you think. Anyway let’s keep that aside. I’m here to reach a compromise with you’’ he muttered calmly. I stared at him suspiciously.
‘’Clara and I will be getting married very soon and I wish to clear my conscience. I want to settle you handsomely so as for you not to cause problems for me again. I do know you have a pending case with the people you work for and I have the connection to make it all go away. I’m equally ready to pay you off with a reasonable amount. All you have to do is simply to forget everything about Clara and move on with your life’’ he offered softly while I laughed coldly. His words just appeared like a slap on my face but I controlled the anger in me.
‘’and what if I still chose to refuse your offer?’’ I asked curiously. He shrugged.
‘’that means you are putting your life and your family in danger. I already told you I think before I act. You have no idea what I’m capable of doing and it will be so disgusting for a young man like you to die over a woman in this present century. Anyway Clara sent me to check how you are faring. She really wants to talk to you. What should I tell her?’’ he concluded and asked, drawing out more suspicion from me. Deep down I felt he was trying to rope me into one of his games. I knew if Clara actually wanted to see or talk to me, he would be the last person she would send.
‘’get out from my house. Get out’’ I screamed, not caring about anything as I violently pushed him backwards.
‘’I’m leaving, but think over my proposal. I will check back for your feedback’’ he muttered and left calmly while I bit my lips in great anger. I really felt like going after him and finishing him off but I knew it was only going to get me in jail. I needed nothing but a tactical approach to deal with him but first I had to keep aside my pride and call Clara. I felt it was good I talked to her.
I rushed to my bedroom, grabbed my phone and called Clara.
‘’hey Clara it’s me’’ I breathed as soon as she picked my call.
‘’my God, Val!’’ she screamed over the phone. I couldn’t help but notice the excitement in her voice which made me wonder why she was yet to call me if she really was this excited to hear from me.
‘’we need to talk’’ I breathed.

(Vivian’s side of the story continues:)

(Vivian is seen fully awake as a young black doctor attends to her. Her eyes equally were surprisingly filled up with tears)

‘’So how are you my dear? My name is Chinedu, I’m the doctor in charge of your recovery’’ the young handsome doctor said to me in a very affectionate tone as he checked me up. I stared at him, not exactly knowing what to say. I was extremely happy to be alive, happy to testify over God’s miracle. It was a lucky escape from death. I couldn’t believe that bastard tried to kill me. I really thought we were friends. I thought we were on the same side but no he turned against me with the slightest opportunity he got.
‘’where am I?’’ I managed to ask with a soft voice, knowing full well that I was in a hospital.
‘’you are in a hospital my dear. You are in Indian’’ the doctor answered quickly, smiling deeply.
‘’but you are a Nigerian?, your name sounds like…’’ I asked like a little kid.
‘’yes I’m a Nigerian but I work here’’ he replied with a smile, softly feeling my pulse.
‘’you made a magnificent recovery dear. You were in a very terrible state when you were brought in here but with the look of things, you will leave this hospital within a month’’ he added reassuringly as more tears dropped from my eyes. I couldn’t help but play back in my head the terrible incidence that happened in Val’s house. How I was badly stabbed and left for dead. I knew Val wouldn’t survive it because he really was the main target of Charles’s brutality.
The young doctor soon observed the tears flowing down my eyes, leaned forward and wiped the tears softly. I blushed. I really haven’t been this close to a man for long. The last time I was this close was when I was with Val and it led to nothing but calamity. But the doctor before me looked kind and caring. I couldn’t help but feel a tingling sensation.
‘’I almost lost my life because of a man. I was in a place I wasn’t supposed to be and the worst of it all is that I almost died for nothing, for someone that never cared for me. That’s the worst feeling one can ever have’’ I confessed, very much surprised with my outburst. I never knew what made me open up to him so easily.
‘’we all have a story to tell my dear. Without a story, without challenges our life would be so meaningless. You can’t believe I left Nigeria just to escape the humiliation and scorn of a failed relationship. Just try your best and recover quickly, I promise to tell you my story once you are very strong’’ he promised in Igbo language, bringing out a smile from my face with his words. I lifted my eyes to meet his gaze once again. I liked what I saw, but slowly the light in my eyes died down as I realized that it could also be the way he played with other patients. He was a doctor and his duty was to treat patients both emotionally and physically.
‘’why the sudden frown my dear?’’ he suddenly asked.
‘’I need to get well as soon as possible. I need to know the situation of things at home. My sister could also be in greater danger. Charles must pay even if it’s the last thing I do’’ I breathed with all my strength while the doctor smiled and caressed my shoulder.
Sure I was ready to make Charles pay.

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

I quickly brought down my face, preventing Charles from going any further with his kiss. He smiled nervously and licked his lips as he studied my reaction calmly..
‘’by tomorrow I promise to be back with new information concerning Val. I always keep my promise, trust me’’ he assured me, stood for a while before taking his leave. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply.
Yes I desperately wanted to see Val but I couldn’t tell that moment if my decision to see him was a wise one or not. Nevertheless I found it difficult to wait for the next day to approach. Deep down I equally was greatly surprised that Charles was very willing to assist me in finding Val. It was the last thing I expected him to do and by the look of things he was all out to impress me.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

‘’I quickly got myself and pulled my lips away from Jennifer who still held unto me tightly with her hands. Her face was all colored up. The sparkle in her eyes was real and revealing. I breathed with my mouth as I met her gaze.
‘’tell me the truth Val, were you really in love with me back then in the camp or you just asked me out for asking sake. I really want to be sure?’’ she asked curiously while I lowered my gaze.
‘’come on, how many times will you ask me this same question?. Let’s just forget about the past. Moreover I now have feelings for someone else, even though it looks silly to say right now’’ I replied innocently. She quickly pulled away from me, taking few steps backwards and backing me. I needed no telling that I wounded her ego with my confession.
‘’I’m sorry for being insensitive’’ I stammered, closing in on her from behind. She allowed me embrace her without pushing off my hands.
‘’I like your honesty. It’s rare these days.’’ She breathed, turned and faced me, looking very serious this time around.
‘’concerning the things you told me about Charles. You must be careful this time you are out of the hospital. As long as he is still free out there, you are at risk and I bet you have a lot to lose. He has the money, the governor’s shameless support and even the police with him. He will keep trying until he pulls you down. Just look at your mum and your family. Is Clara worth gambling with your future?. You were lucky the last time, you might not be so lucky again and you are still at risk of losing your job or facing tough disciplinary action from the department. Imagine your Clara never even bothered to visit or know your whereabouts all the time you were in the hospital. That’s how girls like her behave. They are insensitive. They think only about themselves. Is that the kind of wife you want for yourself?. You just have to be wise. I may be leaving for Abuja in few days and might not be there for you any longer. Think about your mother in everything you do’’ she muttered seriously, leaving me so shaken with her words. I was very touched.
All she said were nothing but the truth. Clara never bothered to search for me. She never cared to know how I was faring. Supposing I was dead, it wouldn’t had mattered to her; it would have all been for nothing. I felt bad for the first time.
‘’good night Val’’ Jennifer breathed, forced out a smile, shook her head and left, leaving me with my own thoughts as I battled with my mind over all she said to me. I couldn’t help but wondered if I was letting the woman that loved me from the bottom of her heart slip away all because of my feelings for Clara. For the first time I felt something overly strong for Jenifer, something more powerful than the respect I used to have for her. I wouldn’t call it love but it looked like it. I headed to the sitting room to watch TV and clear my head only to run into my mother who was shutting the entrance door.
‘’you let her go by this hour? That girl really meant well for you and I hope the sadness I saw in her eyes isn’t what I think it is?’’ she asked, forcing me to draw back and return to my room without answering her question.

All night long, I thought about Jennifer and Clara. I had this great urge to call Clara on phone, to talk to her, to scold her but my pride kicked against it.

At last, I called Clara: “Hey Clara, how do we see?, can I come over to the house?’’ I eagerly asked Clara. ‘’No don’t, I don’t think the security guys will let you in. Just go to a less crowded restaurant and send me the address. I will be there within few minutes’’ she quickly replied. ‘’okay then, that’s cool by me’’ I breathed with a quick smile and hung up. Few minutes later I left the house in search of a less crowded restaurant. Luckily due to the time of the day it was very easy to find a less crowded cozy restaurant. I got a table near the window, ordered a fruit juice, relaxed and sent the address to Clara. Yes I was equally nervous like someone on a first date. I couldn’t help but remember the things I shared with her in the past. I just wished I had the power to turn back the hands of time, to correct my mistakes. Exactly thirty minutes later, Clara slowly walked into the restaurant. My heart pounded very fast as soon as I spotted her. She looked more beautiful and radiant than she used to be. There wasn’t any doubt she was living well. I quickly waved at her, gaining her attention. She smiled and walked up to my table. ‘’Good day val. You really don’t look like someone who just escaped death. You are one lucky guy’’ she said with a smile. I blushed, fighting hard to calm down my feelings. Seeing her that moment gave me a kind of funny urge. I felt like kissing her right there and then. Yes I really missed her very much but due to the situation of our relationship I held back my feelings. Moreover she never cared to look for me. ‘’what will you take?’’ I asked as I waved at the waiter. ‘’I will take the same thing you are taking’’ she replied quickly. ‘’did you leave the mansion all alone?’’ I asked curiously. ‘’no I was assigned new security team after the kidnap thing Charles pulled off. My security team is outside waiting for me’’ she replied quickly. ‘’I’m not really happy with you but anyway, first, I’m here to talk to you about Charles’’ I quickly breathed while she frowned. ‘’I didn’t come all the way here to listen to any crap you have on Charles. I came to confirm some things from you as well. Yes the issue has been bugging my mind for the past few weeks. It’s all about your relationship with my sister Vivian which you very much hid from me the way you hid your identity. Vivian was with you the night you were attacked. What was she doing in your apartment?’’ she quickly asked, leaving her furious eyes on me. To be candid I was expecting such questions from her but I never expected the energy and manner she threw them at me. I was totally disoriented. ‘’she brought me food and was about leaving when Charles showed up and attacked us’’ I answered innocently but she never believed me. She scoffed and shook her head. ‘’Charles attacked you huh? Come on Val, you and I know that Charles isn’t that strong or silly to attack you on his own’’ she hissed. ‘’I can tolerate every other thing apart from being taken for a fool. Come to think of it, When did Vivian turn to your cook?, to bring food for you by that hour. You can’t deny you guys were having an affair. Tell me Val, what else am I yet to know about you? What did I do to deserve this deception and lies?’’ she softly asked with a deeply colored face. There wasn’t any doubt she was totally pained. There wasn’t any doubt she never believed any word I said. There wasn’t any doubt she was disappointed in me. I felt like grabbing her and forcing her to believe in me but we were in a public place and there wasn’t much I could do. ‘’from day one you lied to me. The only good memory about you I now have is the memory of how you risked everything to save me when I was kidnapped but still I know you did it just to save your job and not really to save my life. After I learnt what happened to you and Vivian, a lot of questions popped into my head. It’s all good. You said Charles stabbed a trained agent like you and equally stabbed Vivian at the same time?, what else do you have on him because I’m going to marry him?’’ she asked with a mockery voice as she stood up. I swallowed hard as I watched her stand up to leave. She already made a bad judgment and I totally was at lost on how to convince her. She was very much blinded with rage and merely showed up to conclude things she had in mind for me. ‘’I don’t have to tell you that Charles is a master planner. He planned your kidnap and still got away with it after turning the whole town upside down. I know I no longer have a stake in your life but please marry anyone but Charles, you don’t know what he’s capable of doing. He came to see me today’’ I managed to chip in. she simply shook her head, sighed and left the restaurant without bothering to listen to me anymore. Deep down I felt sorry for her. She had every reason not to trust me.

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

Yes at first I was very much excited to meet Val but then he gave no remorse, no regrets, or apology over the things I confronted him with which were definitely the truth. Instead he only came up with more lies, he only tried to bring in Charles to the picture. Yes of course I knew Charles was no saint but he wasn’t the kind of guy who would get his hands dirty in such a way. Charles was a bit scared of Val and the last thing I knew he would do was going to his place to stab both Val and Vivian on his own. Definitely it was a badly concocted fairy tale from Val to probably make me stay away from Charles but unfortunately he only got me angrier.

On getting back to the house, I was told mum was looking for me. I quickly headed to her room. ‘’where went you my dear, you don’t look okay’’ mum asked curiously. ‘’I’m okay mum. I just went out to see a friend’’ I answered quickly. ‘’your cousin Vivian is fast recovering. I just spoke with her doctor’’ she informed me softly while I shrugged. ‘’good for her, but you guys are not showing any interest to investigate what actually happened in that guy’s house’’ I added thoughtfully. She breathed deeply. ‘’for now we can do nothing till Vivian returns, but I’m also confused over the whole story. When Mr. Val was your security guy, Charles had this fear that he was having an affair with you but it now appears like the guy was really having an affair with Vivian instead. Is there anything else I need to know?’’ she asked while I kept quiet, saying nothing. Of course supposing she was very close and attentive as a mother perhaps she wouldn’t had asked the question and I would have confided in her with a whole lot of things but she was so busy playing the governor’s wife that she knew little about what was going on under her nose. Though everything that happened back then was fully not her fault. ‘’Charles really wants to wed you as soon as possible and you have a decision to make. If we allow you have your way, you could take forever to give your consent. So I beg of you if there is anything I need to know, you better talk now and if you have nothing to say I will then ask Charles to start up with the traditional marriage rites as soon as he can’’ she pushed on seriously while I looked at her with great disbelief, too stunned to say a word.
‘’Mum I have nothing else to say to you. I’m returning to my room. I’m tired’’ I said a bit rudely, surprising my mother with my outburst. I didn’t wait for her to say anything else and headed to my room to breathe in fresh air. Meeting Val and equally getting queried by my old lady in the space of few minutes were just too much to handle. I felt like taking alcohol and sleeping off but I knew it wouldn’t do me any good. Instead I grabbed one of Coolval’s novels and started reading. I barely had read for few minutes when Charles knocked and walked in with a smile. I instantly grew tense on seeing him while he smiled confidently. ‘’how are you doing my dear? You look good today’’ he greeted pleasantly as he drew close and touched my shoulder. I couldn’t help but wondered what was going through his mind as the report Val made against him slowly flowed back to my head. ‘’you look good as well’’ I muttered politely, noticing his well matched suit for the first time. He was so well responsibly dressed like someone who wouldn’t dare hurt a fly. ‘’I talked with Val early this morning. You know I promised to get in touch with him’’ he added softly as he sat beside me. I breathed deeply, dropped my book and faced him seriously. ‘’mum told me you are very much eager to fix our wedding date. But you know marriage is a very serious engagement. Yes we are already cool with each other but I want to know the truth. What will be your gain, my family’s gain and that of your family in the union?. Please don’t bring up the love thing again. I’m not a kid. I had a talk with my mother few minutes ago and she couldn’t hide her desperation. If I’m going to marry you, I need to know everything playing down behind my back’’ I demanded seriously. He instantly looked worried, stood up and took few steps backwards. I equally stood up and faced him. His expression confirmed my fears that there were other things at stake. ‘’come on, I want to be your husband because you are the only lady I fancy, I adore, I honor. I have virtually known you more than any of your friends. Your parents trust me more than any other person out there. What sort of interest or benefits are you thinking about?’’ he stammered defensively. ‘’alright since you are not going to open up to me, I have something else to ask. I spoke with Val today and he tried to convince me that you were the person who stabbed him and Vivian at his house. Is it true?’’ I asked seriously, studying his reaction. He quickly turned, headed towards my balcony and stopped at the door. ‘’I can’t believe you believed such a silly accusation. The evening your cousin Vivian was stabbed I was at the police station trying to help out my friends who were arrested when you were rescued from my house. I headed to the DSS office with some police officers later that same evening and I spent almost all night there. Moreover do you think I’m capable of attacking a guy like him on my own?’’ he breathed and turned to face me again. I shrugged. ‘’I really don’t know what to believe but I guess I will have to wait for Vivian to return and tell her side of the story. Thank God she survived’’ I added with a smile but my words only got him angrier. ‘’why are you acting as if you are doing me one huge favor by marrying me?. Our marriage will benefit both of us and not only me. Moreover the only way your dad is going to win his next election, the only way he is going to remain relevant in politics is if you marry me. If not he’s going down with a whole lot of corruption cases. He needs the support of my family. And if you don’t know, my family controls a big part of the state resources and equally has the financial power to influence the party delegates in every election. Your dad knows that, and even before becoming the state governor he signed an agreement that he had no way of fulfilling before the end of this current tenure. The only sure solution he has right now in order to kick and fight back the opposition building up against him is by forming a stronger alliance with my family through marriage. All the apology I showed off before him in your presence was all a charade to impress you and your mother. You have to start seeing me as your husband and not as an option. Moreover I’m very much in love with you and that’s why I’m letting myself to be used and ridiculed. I have already done a whole lot of regrettable things just to win your heart. Sometimes happiness is just a choice. We have to take it or give it up. I’m the only man that can give you stability’’ he breathed, drew close and held me by the waist as I stared into his eyes, unable to say a word. Deep in my heart I still felt he was lying even though his outburst sounded very truthful.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

Seeing Clara that fateful morning brought in a whole lot of old memories but with the way our conversation ended, I knew I had to push away old memories and move on with my life since she already made her choice. Jennifer was right all along and somehow I regretted backing away from her all because of Clara. All day long, I thought of what next to do with my life and couldn’t really come up with anything. I equally thought about Vivian and really wished I could see the future. Early the next day, I took my mother back to the village with a whole lot of gratitude in my heart. There is nothing as pure and wonderful as the love of a mother. No matter how ugly, bad and poor you are, her love would still be unshakeable. Mothers are unique.
‘’my son, I really don’t know what’s going on with your love life but try and fix up yourself. No woman is perfect. You are not getting any younger and I wish I could force you into marrying Jennifer. That girl made sure you were alright when you were down at the hospital’’ she breathed when we got to the village. I smiled, hugged her and kissed her goodbye before heading back to
the city.

5:34pm, same day

I was in the process of opening my apartment entrance door when someone closed in from behind and covered my eyes. I smiled as the familiar perfume of the stranger hit my nostrils. Of course the person was no other person than Jennifer. ‘’I never knew I would see you again’’ I smiled as I brought down her hands. ‘’I came to say good bye for the last time. I’m leaving tomorrow’’ she replied as she followed me into my apartment. ‘’I equally was asked to inform you that a decision has been reached over your conduct in the department. You have been placed on three months suspension without pay and you equally stand the chance of being transferred to another state at the end of the suspension. You can go to the department to get your suspension letter whenever you are free’’ she informed me with a frown while my heart froze. I couldn’t
believe it. ‘’this is so unfair’’ I screamed. She drew close and held my hands. ‘’just leave the issue as it is. You can do a lot with your three months break. You can go stay with your mum. You can travel out of the country. You can equally stay with me at the federal capital city’’ she breathed with a smile. I dropped my eyes. ‘’Life has taken everything away from me, my job, my Clara’’ I muttered. ‘’no you still have your family. You still have me, though I’m leaving right now’’ she added and hugged me tightly. I felt like begging her to stay for a while but just couldn’t.

Two and half months later, I was in my family house at Mbano. I whistled happily as I inspected my mother’s poultry farm at our backyard. I really couldn’t understand the special feeling of happiness I was having that fateful morning. Of course it really was a miracle that I survived my suspension in the first place and was now on the verge of going back to the city to report to work. Somehow I felt the suspension I got was nothing but a miracle in disguise because it gave me the much dreamt opportunity of spending quality time at home with my dear mother. Yes the two months I spent at home was very much well spent. I recovered my energy, my weight and my life. I equally was able to turn my mother’s little poultry that housed only native birds into a very big poultry farm with two paid workers. Yes at first it really wasn’t easy staying all day long in a very quiet village that had little or no lively activities to occupy one’s mind. But I soon got used to it and was even able to get Clara and my past mistakes behind me. I really was lucky to survive it all and I swore never to make another silly mistake over a woman. I whistled happily as I moved my attention to the day old chicks we got the previous day. I was happy with what I saw. I couldn’t help but count the fortune I was going to make out of them in six months time. I smiled to myself, happy to be a farmer and wishing I could stay a little longer in the village to make the sales myself. I slowly made my way to the last section of the farm, housing some native fowl I was growing for cross breeding. I loved experiments and I was hopeful they were going to give me the result I needed.
‘’Val,’’ I heard a soft familiar voice call my name. I froze as I listened again, not really sure of what I heard the first time. ‘’Val it’s me Clara’’ I heard the second time and turned to see Clara standing just before me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It looked very impossible. I couldn’t imagine how she got to my village house, how she made the journey and who led her to my place. My mind instantly went towards Charles as I drew back with confusion, wondering what the idiot was up to by leading her to my place. ‘’what are you doing here?, who led you here?’’ I asked guardedly. She smiled and shrugged. ‘’I confided to the head of my security that I needed to see once again and she led me here. She’s also from your community’’ she replied and signaled to her companion who was standing a distance away. She slowly walked up to her with a smile. ‘’good day Mr. Val. We have met before but I don’t think you still remember’’ the female officer greeted but she wasn’t my problem. My problem was seeing Clara standing before me uninvited.
‘’so why are you here?, the last time we talked you made it clear that you no longer trusted me. I hope I’m safe or you came to spoil my suspension which is ending in few weeks?’’ I asked rudely. ‘’come on Val’’ the female office tried to intervene but Clara tapped her hand. ‘’just leave us alone please’’ she softly said to her. She shrugged and headed back to the front of the compound while Clara and I stood facing each other at the back yard. ‘’so what now”’ I asked her. ‘’I’m getting married to Charles in three weeks time and I’m here to make peace with you and equally confirm some things from you. Ever since that day I walked out on you, I haven’t been myself. Please tell me the truth. My happiness depends on it. I need to know if it was Charles that actually stabbed you and Vivian at your apartment? I never believed your word back then because I knew you were blinded with rage but right now I’m about making a lifelong commitment and I’m appealing to you. Tell me the truth, did Charles actually go that far?’’ she appealed solemnly while I stared at her without showing any sign of sympathy.
Supposing it were two months ago, supposing it was even a month ago, I would have been touched by her presence but on the contrary I felt nothing. My heart was already locked up in my late father’s cupboard and perhaps that was the reason I felt no chills, no current, no passion, no excitement on seeing her beautiful face. ‘’the only answer I have right now is for you to wait and talk to your cousin Vivian. She survived, didn’t she?’’ I asked with a scornful smile, surprising her with my nonchalant attitude. She just couldn’t believe herself. ‘’Val I came all the way down here to seek you and this attitude is what I get?’’ she stammered while I scoffed. ‘’no you came here to tell me that you are getting married. Congrats on that but also know that you are no longer my problem. In the next two weeks my suspension will be over and I will start all over again. You made a mistake coming here. I have nothing to tell you over the answer you seek. As you can see I’m busy with my fowl and you just interrupted me. Good bye Clara’’ I said coldly, turned and faced my fowl, whistling to them as I resumed what I was doing before she walked in. she stood for a while before walking away without another word. Did I act right?

Meanwhile at that same moment, Vivian is seen with her mother, her brother and doctor Chinedu heading out of Murtala Muhammed international airport. Vivian looks super excited to be back in Nigeria, while a distance away, an immigration officer is seen dialing Charles number

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

As I headed back to Owerri I played back Val’s action in my head. I really was very mad at him over the way he embarrassed me. I had hoped he would be happy to see me but on the contrary he looked so uptight and indifferent. I had never felt so embarrassed in a long while and I couldn’t help but feel ashamed of myself for coming to his house in the first place. There wasn’t any doubt I missed him. There wasn’t any doubt I had longed to see him but all those yearnings and hunger disappeared as soon as he treated me like a leper. I slowly thought about Charles and the doubts I was having in my heart. My family, friends and everyone were encouraging me to go ahead and marry him but deep down I felt hollow. There wasn’t this hunger in me to get married to him. There wasn’t any excitement, nothing but then could everyone be wrong about him? I wondered over and over as my convoy speed back to Owerri.

(Vivian’s side of the story continues:)

When I got to the airport I was so happy to be back in Nigeria, So happy to finally be back in my country. I really made one hell of a speedy recovery all thanks to Chinedu. He was my guardian, my helper and my comforter. I was so happy to finally be in love with a man who loved me back unconditionally. He even had to take his much overdue leave from work just to come back to Nigeria with me and start up with the marriage formalities. He really was so eager to get married to me and it was just as if we had known each other for years. Our relationship kind of confirmed to me that whatever is yours is yours. On the night I was discharged from the hospital he proposed to me, shocking me with his action because it was so fast and unexpected. ‘’come on Chinedu, what are you doing?. Have you known me enough?’’ I had asked with disbelief. ‘’yes my love I now feel like part of your family. I can recite every bit of your story and I feel as if I have known you for ages. There is no need delaying anything. I want to get married to you as soon as possible’’ he had insisted and I had no choice than to accept him because I was fully in love with him and just like he said there wasn’t any need holding back anything. We finally agreed to return back to Nigeria together, to make our wedding plans. ‘’so when are we seeing?’’ Chinedu asked, interrupting my thoughts as he grabbed my hand. I instantly noticed a young man who just joined us. The guy looked exactly like a younger version of him. ‘’in five days time I should be in Owerri. I will notify you once I get to town’’ I answered softly. ‘’meet my younger brother Michael. He’s here to take me home’’ he added with a smile while I nodded at the young man who greeted my mother and I. ‘’I can’t wait to see you again’’ he breathed, pecked me and disappeared with his brother.
‘’Hmmmm! love nwantinti — deeply in love,’’ my mother joked while I blushed.

It was 6:30pm the next day in Lagos state Nigeria, when I saw off some friends and was returning back to the house with a happy smile on my face as the Lagos hot air blew across my face. I momentarily closed my eyes as I mediated over some things. Returning home to be with my family in Lagos was something I dreamt pretty much every day when I was down in the hospital. I missed everyone, hence my joy of returning home to spend quality time with them. I missed my family, my neighbors, the Lagos traffic and the noise. Owerri was just a very different city all together and I really missed the thrills of Lagos all the time I was under the governor’s care.

Nevertheless I was still very eager to return to Owerri to put Charles where he belonged. The idiot never deserved Clara and I was very ready to tell my dear cousin everything he was. Yes I knew things could get rough. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I was very determined even if it was the last thing I did in my life. Yes I could have told Clara the truth the few times she called me up but it wasn’t something to say via phone. It was something to be done face to face.‘’Vivian we need to talk’’ I soon heard a familiar voice say from behind. I instantly turned and froze as I saw Charles smiling down at me. Yes at first I was scared as a human being because I knew what he was capable of doing but I soon relaxed because we were just in front of the house and the street was very lively. He equally was dressed in a well fitted suit and matching tie like a bank manager. ‘’I’m glad you are alive. Please can we go somewhere private to talk?’’ he asked while I scoffed with disbelief. ‘’you must be crazy’’ I screamed. ‘’Vivian I never intended to stab you. I never knew you were the girl with Val that fateful night. By the time I realized it I had already stabbed you and I had no choice than to finish up the job. I’m sorry and I’m glad you made it out alive. Just name your prize and I will compensate you’’ he begged softly. ‘’do I look like a beggar to you?. Do I look like a poor girl?. Just get the hell out of my presence. I’m coming for you Charles and I swear you will never marry Clara. You are a murderer. You are an animal’’ I screamed breathlessly. ‘’be careful on what you plan for me my dear. It’s better we settle this peacefully. You already know what led to the desperate action I took back then and please don’t let me repeat it again’’ he begged. ‘’are you threatening me?. Just stay away from me. The farther the better’’ I screamed and headed back inside the house, breathing heavily like someone who partook in a marathon race. Was I scared?, yes of course I was. Charles was really capable of anything and I felt he could be a step ahead of me. I had to act fast, pretty fast.

I couldn’t sleep that fateful night. I was so preoccupied with varying thoughts on how to tell Clara everything. Of course I had no choice than to speed up my plans. There wasn’t any need waiting. I knew Charles was ready to do anything to stop me and I equally knew I had to be very careful with the way I handled the situation. I thought of Val and how he was faring. We were yet to speak to each other after that unfortunate incident in his house. I heard he survived but perhaps he was waiting for me to be the first to reach out to him which I really wasn’t ready to do at the moment.
Very early the next day, I headed to mum’s room to tell her about my new plans. She was very much surprised to hear that I was booking the next available flight down to south East that fateful day. I told her about my new plans but perfectly hid the reason for my sudden change of heart. I couldn’t really get myself to tell her that Charles confronted me the previous day in front of the house because I didn’t want her to get nervous and worried. My other reason for wanting to head down to Owerri as fast as possible was to take Charles attention away from my family. Because he could be compelled to do something nasty to them in order to force me into submission but unfortunately I was a bit late. At exactly 8:30am I got a shocking phone call from my sweetheart doctor Chinedu.
‘’my dear I’m in a big trouble right now. Some NDLEA officers stopped my car yesterday evening as my brother and I was heading down to Owerri and found drugs in my car. I really can’t explain it. I don’t know anyone here and I don’t know who could be doing this to me. Please pray for me’’ he cried over the phone, shaking me with the information. I instantly suspected Charles.
‘’where are you?’’ I stammered.
‘’I’m being detained with my brother at their office in Shaw road Onilegbale I think?. You know the place?’’ he breathed.
‘’I don’t know I don’t know but I will get a cab or someone to take me there. You don’t have to fear my dear. Thank God they let you make calls with your phone’’ I muttered quietly as sweat drenched my entire body. I needed no one to tell me that Charles was up at it again. It couldn’t simply be a coincident that my Chinedu was found with drugs the same evening Charles confronted me.
I instantly realized that Charles could have been monitoring me all the time I was away in India. Yes he had the money and resources to pull such a thing.
‘’Damn’’ I breathed with frustration as I quickly dressed up.

An hour later in NDLEA office Lagos, Chinedu and his younger brother were looking so frightened and shaken up when I met them at the empty dirty room they were detained in. I just didn’t know what to say to him when our eyes met. I felt so responsible and touched. I knew he was set up. He was a medical doctor for crying out loud.
‘’my love just look at me, Isn’t this corruption at its peak?. That’s why most of us living outside the country hate coming home. I’m not a drug baron. I’m a doctor. I save lives. I don’t know what’s happening here. We were on our way down to Owerri when five guys wearing NDLEA apron blocked our car and subjected us to a rough search. I was busy arguing with one of them when all of a sudden a polythene bag filled with drugs was pulled out from the trunk of my car. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s even my first time of seeing such substance’’ he narrated quickly.
‘’We were forced to spend the night here and worst is that they are yet to tell us our fate. We don’t know if we are going to be taken to court or not. I was just given my phone this morning to call a lawyer or a friend. I’m so lost’’ he added solemnly.
‘’don’t be scared. I will see what I can do. I will be back’’ I promised and headed out in search of the officer in charge of his case. But none of the officers in the premises were willing to cooperate or even reason with me. Reluctantly I dialed Charles’ number to know if he was responsible for the mess.
‘’Charles what are you up to?, why did you set up my friend?’’ I asked as soon as he picked up my call.
‘’I don’t know what you are talking about my dear’’ he quickly answered.
‘’you very much know what I’m talking about and you just hit me where it hurts the most. Just start watching your back’’ I threatened nervously.
‘’my dear I really don’t know what you are talking about but we can reason things out and help each other. I can see you are in trouble. Just tell me where you are and I will show up in few minutes’’ he softly demanded.
‘’I’m at the NDLEA office. I know you know the place. I’m waiting’’ I breathed and hung up while my heart pounded very hard. I really didn’t know what to do. I just wasn’t prepared for such a thing.

Exactly an hour later, Charles showed up at the NDLEA premises. He however refused getting out of his car and asked me to join him inside the car. I hesitantly joined him.
‘’so what’s your problem?’’ he asked.
‘’you set up my friend with drugs. I don’t know you do drugs as well’’ I breathed seriously.
‘’are you here to insult me or to seek my help. I can help your friend get out of any mess he is in right now but I also need something from you. I need a confessional statement from you which will be recorded on tape. All you have to do is to say on tape that you were having an affair with agent Val prior to the night you got stabbed. You came to his apartment to be with him on that very night. You guys argued and he tried to stab you to death but wasn’t so lucky. You managed to pull the knife from your body and stab him as well. I need the story confession from you before I can help your friend. Yes I know the story is somehow flawed but it’s enough for me. You know how these NDLEA guys work? They always crave for media attention and I promise you by tomorrow if nothing is done to secure your friend’s release, he will be on the front page of every newspaper and TV station with the caption ‘’ A Nigerian born Indian doctor nabbed with drugs in Lagos’’. Wow such a good headline’’ he giggled evilly while I lowered my eyes.
There wasn’t any doubt he was responsible for everything. His words gave him out but then I was just right between a murderer and a raging fire.

‘’Well, it’s too late for that. I already told Clara everything you did. I told her the whole story this morning via phone’’ I bravely said to Charles, bringing up my eyes to check his reaction but he still remained calm. All he did was just to shrug and breathe deeply. ‘’I still need my own version of the story on tape. I don’t care if you have already told Clara everything or not’’ he insisted, shocking me with his words. ‘’so are you willing to go on with my request or are you willing to sacrifice your new boyfriend over nothing?’’ he asked while I swallowed hard, not exactly knowing what else to say or do. ‘’you should know I always have my way in everything. Even if you sacrifice him for your selfish reason I will still get another way of caging you. So don’t waste my time. Are you going on with my request or not?’’ he demanded with a raised tone. ‘’you are a monster’’ I breathed with disgust. ‘’come on dear, life itself is a monster. Good people die every day while bad people live for long, so what say you?’’ he demanded once again. I hesitantly nodded. I could tell he was more than willing to let my boyfriend hang over his selfish ambition. ‘’fine you just made the right choice. Now bring out your phones’’ he suddenly demanded, licking his lips and surprising me further. ‘’what do you need my phones for?. You think I’m recording our conversation or what?’’ I asked breathlessly. ‘’no my dear, you won’t dare try that. Just bring out your phones’’ he demanded again, leaving me with no choice than to oblige. He took the phones from me, checked them out before handing them back to me. ‘’now turn on the recorder and read out what I wrote on this paper’’ he requested as he pulled out a sheet of paper which he gave to me.
I instantly froze as I read the contents. ‘’oh you thought I didn’t have my own version of the story written down?. Come on read it out loud’’’ he demanded. I nervously turned on the recorder of the two phones and did as he requested. ‘’I’m making this record in case anything happens to me again. Val tried to kill me in his house because I wanted to expose his secrets. He was having an affair with Clara and I at the same time and none of us knew. When I found out the truth it was already too late and he tried killing me when I confronted him. Luckily I survived by fighting back and stabbing him with the same knife he used on me before losing consciousness. How did I pull it off?, it was nothing but a miracle. That last move saved my life and now I’m back in Nigeria to put him in jail where he belongs. I’m still scared he might make another move to end my life’’ I read painfully while Charles listened and smiled. ‘’nice work’’ he giggled as took back my phones, saved the recording and transferred a copy to his own phone. ‘’Vivian I’m really sorry that our relationship got this sour. I never wanted all this to happen. It’s all Clara’s fault. I’m equally ashamed of what I have become and I really don’t know how to compensate you for trying to take your life in the first place. I will make a wire transfer of 1.5million naira to your account later today. Don’t ask me how I got your account number. Anyway I know the money isn’t worth your life and I’m very sorry for everything. However don’t try anything funny. I need not to tell you that I can make your whole family sleep in jail. You also know that I have people watching you. There is a restaurant down the street. Just go there and wait for your friends to be released. ‘’ he said softly. I shook my head, eyed him and alighted from his car. Of course I felt very bad. I never expected the turnout of events. I never knew he was capable of going that far with me. I hated myself. I hated myself. I hated myself.

Exactly three hours later, Chinedu called me on phone, sounding very excited. ‘’my love how did you pull this off?. My brother and I have been released and the case dropped. I was told my girlfriend pulled strings for me. Where are you?’’ he asked happily while tears of joy melted my eyes. I heaved a sigh of relief. Their freedom came with a very heavy price. ‘’I’m just across the street my dear’’ I managed to answer. There wasn’t any doubt Charles had every corner blocked and well secured. He had everything already thought out and planned. I realized that fateful day that I wasn’t going to be able to take him down on my own. I needed help. I needed Val’s help. I needed Clara’s trust. I needed the support of Clara’s family. Of course I knew getting the needed support from Clara’s family was going to be very hard because to them Charles was nothing but an angel. I wasn’t going to let the issue die like that. I had a duty to protect my cousin from getting into a very dangerous marriage. But then my life was equally on the line. Charles could easily have had me killed after getting the recording but instead he paid in money into my account, something that looked very fishy. Yes the dude was smart, very smart.

I really had a very sleepless night thinking over everything and early the next morning, I dressed up in readiness to travel down to the east to be with Clara. I couldn’t travel the previous day as planned because of issues that came up and I wasn’t going to let any other thing delay me further. I also was a bit nervous over seeing Clara once again because even though she sounded cool the few times we spoke on phone I felt our closeness wasn’t going to be like old times because of what she must have heard about me and Val. Yes I had a lot of issues to settle with her and I equally knew I was embarking on a very dangerous mission because any slip of tongue could get Charles unleashing his terror on me but first I had to call Val. I needed his help and if possible the help of the whole department of state services. Charles wasn’t a danger to me alone but to the governor’s daughter and everyone. Yes it could stand as a matter of national security because the dude was a time bomb waiting to explode with his connections in every sector of the government. ‘’Val we need to talk and it’s very urgent’’ I muttered as soon as Val picked my call.

‘’Hmmm Vivian how are you?, where are you?’’ Val asked with a slightly raised tone as soon as he picked up my call, showing how surprised he was to hear from me. ‘’you sound surprised huh?, I can’t believe you never bothered to check on how I was faring?’’ I reprimanded him. ‘’you won’t understand. Seriously’’ he breathed while I scoffed. ‘’it doesn’t matter. I’m calling for another reason. I need to see you this evening. I will be at All Seasons Hotel later today for something very urgent, let’s meet there. It’s more about your life and future. I’m still in Lagos though but I will be taking the next available flight down to south east’’ I muttered very quickly. ‘’fine I will be expecting your call when you arrive’’ he replied. I smiled, hung up and called Clara. ‘’hey dear how far?’’ I greeted as soon as she picked my call. ‘’I’m just there jare’’ she replied in Pidgin English. ‘’I will be arriving town this evening, but won’t be coming to the house, instead I will lodge at a hotel because of some issues that came up. I will invite you over when I arrive there. Hope it won’t be a problem to you?’’ I asked ‘’no of course not but I hope all is fine?’’ she replied and asked with a worried tone. ‘’yes just be patient till I get to town’’ I added, hung up and breathed deeply. The stage was now set for my next line of action and I needed no one to warn me on being very cautious. It was a big risk I was about taking and it could either end well or badly for me. ‘’dear Lord I hope I’m doing the right thing this time?’’ I prayed.

By 5:45pm that same evening I was already settled in one of the best rooms ‘’All seasons Hotel’’ could offer. The comfort of the room however couldn’t stop me from being nervous and a bit scared as I waited for Val and Clara to arrive. It really was the first time we were about being together in a long while and I knew things could get messy. I equally was unaware of the relationship Val was currently enjoying with Clara who was now about getting married to Charles. I had a lot of questions in my head that needed answers. I equally had my own story to tell. Yes the get-together was definitely going to open up many secrets and truths. I couldn’t help but weigh my options over and over again. I knew going against Charles’s directive could backfire on me in a very explosive manner. It equally was the only way I could redeem myself and save Clara and Val from impending doom. I had a lot to lose; I equally had a lot to gain by going through with my plans. My prayer was just for it to go very successfully because it really was taking a whole lot of courage on my part to get on with.

Val was the first to walk into my room and just like I expected he looked very suspicious and curious over my motive. He perhaps thought I was all out to seduce him. I couldn’t help but laugh in my mind. ‘’thank God you are finally here. What will you take?’’ I asked, trying to make him feel relaxed. He shrugged and breathed deeply. ‘’Vivian I’m not here to take anything but first to apologize over everything that happened in my house the last time we met. It has been in my mind to apologize all these while but I haven’t been myself. Yes I survived Charles’ brutal attack but I have never been the same ever since. I got suspended from work, I lost Clara, I don’t even know if I lost my mind as well. I have been in the village ever since, trying to start all over with life. I’m glad you are okay’’ he softly apologized, shocking me with his words. Yes his apology wasn’t supposed to touch me because I deserved one from him but I was moved by it because I wasn’t really expecting it that minute. However before I could say something, a knock landed on the door. Clara showed up.

Clara’s presence changed everything. Her presence brought in tension and heat to the room. Val looked very disturbed and surprised to see her and she equally looked very unhappy to see Val. ‘’what the hell are you up to Vivian. Why invite me here? You want me to see you guys together or what?. I already know everything, there is no need’’ Clara breathed angrily, forcing me to reach forward and grab her hand. ‘’it’s not what you think my dear. Yes I liked Val. I still do like him but we never had an affair. We were never together. We never went far from being friends. The night I was attacked, I was just in his house to thank him for rescuing you and equally give him the food I got from the house. I did that because I knew what he was passing through that moment but unfortunately someone else had something planned for us. Charles surprised us, using the surprise to his advantage to overpower Val and I. we were brutally stabbed by him. We were stabbed by your fiancé,’’ I breathed with all my energy. Clara instantly colored up while Val slowly sat down. There was uneven quietness in the room as my words sank in. ‘’but that’s not the main reason I invited you guys here. I’m in a deep terrible mess right now. Charles set up my new boyfriend yesterday and forced me into making a confession indicting Val. I was forced to confess on tape that Val stabbed me. I had to do his bidding in order to free the innocent guy who just got to the country for my sake. I don’t know what he planned doing with the tape. I was warned not to talk to you Clara and I beg you to act as if I told you nothing until we get enough evidence to jail him’’ I added breathlessly. ‘’this is just too much. I don’t know why I believe all you just said. It sounds like a cooked up tale. Can Charles really be this cruel?’’ Clara breathed, sitting on the floor with a look of despair. ‘’I know . . . I know but we have to work together to nail him. We have to set our differences and suspicions aside. You can’t marry Charles. That dude can murder you anytime he wants. He’s not a human being. I used to be on his
side until I learnt my lesson the hard way’’ I begged Clara who shook her head, covering her face with her palms. There wasn’t any doubt the information was too much for
her and I was taking a big risk by revealing everything. I looked at Val for him to say something but he looked a bit uninterested. ‘’I don’t think I have any role to play here. Clara is no longer my problem. I’m equally on suspension. The best you guys can do is to find a way to secretly tell the state director of my department your story and plans. He’s a good man and will handle it well. I have to go now’’ he simply said and stood up while Clara looked up at him with eyes filled with tears and disdain. ‘’I came to your house. I begged you to tell me the truth but you were willing to sacrifice my happiness in order to have the last laugh. What kind of guy are you Val?’’ she asked while Val looked away.
She surprisingly stood up with great energy, walked up to him and landed two hot slaps on his face, shocking me with her action. Instead of retaliating, Val tried to hold her still, a struggle ensued and in the process the two love birds ended up on my bed breathing heavily. I couldn’t help but wonder that moment what would have happened supposing I wasn’t in the room with them. There wasn’t any doubt their hormones were raging like wild fire. love song plays in the background ‘’meanwhile unknown to them, Vivian’s phone which was tucked under a pillow had been ringing endlessly. Perhaps the tension in the room, coupled with the low ring volume of the phone made it impossible to be heard. And yes the caller was no other person than Charles ’’ Do you think Charles was dumb to let Vivian live to tell her story?

[To be continued]

TRUE TRAGIC LOVE: CLARA THE GOVERNOR’S DAUGHTER (PART THREE)

I hope you have read

The part one

and

Part two?

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

‘’you should learn to start acting like my wife dear. My love for you is greater than anything on earth’’ Charles breathed as he kissed my cheek, his hands slowly going for my breast. I quickly changed position, blocking his efforts.
‘’how do you plan to get away with this? How do you explain to my family assuming I succumb to your demand?’’ I softly asked curiously while he drew
back and smiled.
‘’leave that for me, in due time things will unfold the way you never imagined my dear. All I need now is your love, presence and attention’’ he breathed softly. I stared at him in great disbelief. I never imagined he would go that far just to have me. Of course his actions were extremely disgusting and I couldn’t help but regret having a silly idea of making up with him the night I fought with val. Yes I had regretted treating Charles badly but I never knew he was this desperate and dangerous.
‘’God help me’’ I prayed and closed my eyes as he drew closer to me very eager to continue with his love play. I needed no telling that he was ready to have me there and then. He was ready to rape me. He was ready to forcefully take what he had always claimed to be his. He was very eager to take what had been denied him all along. I knew fighting or resisting was going to be pointless but I was very ready not to give in easily. I was ready to fight to the last.
‘’please I beg of you don’t do this to me. Don’t use force on me. Don’t hurt me. Let me go’’ I begged desperately. He stopped for some seconds and stared at me.
‘’come on, I’m not going to hurt you. All I want is to make you love me. I want you to be the mother of my kids. I want us to have a great family. Our kids will never lack anything. Who knows in the next twenty years I could be the state governor. We have a lot to gain together my love’’ he proposed while I dropped my eyes in desperation. It was pointless begging him. His mind was already made up and there was nothing I could do but to take everything painfully.
‘’I really don’t know why you chose that lowlife over me. The idiot has no money, no name, nothing. Till now I still can’t believe you ruined my birthday celebration because of him’’ he muttered and unbuckled his belt. I closed my eyes with great pain. I was about being raped, there wasn’t any doubt about it. I could only fight to delay him for few minutes. My fate was inevitable. But then out of nowhere came a loud thud that sounded right outside the room door as if someone fell on the door or was watching us. Charles quickly sprang up from the bed and headed to the door while I followed him with my eyes. As soon as he opened the door I instantly caught a glimpse of a man lying face first on the floor. I couldn’t take a proper look at him because Charles’s big body was blocking my view but deep down I felt the man lying right there
was no other person than Val , a discovery that left me totally alarmed as I screamed.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

After building up my morale, I left one of my phones in the car, put the second one in my pocket, checked my service pistol, alighted from the car, crossed over to the other side of the road and headed to the bush surrounding the back of the building. I was very desperate. I equally was very scared. Of course I was going into an unknown territory without backup or authorization. I was simply on my own and anything could happen in there.

However the thought of saving Clara was very stronger than my fears. I easily scaled the wall, hid at the back of a small building at the backyard and scanned the compound. The compound was a very large one and I spotted about six men watching over the property. They weren’t armed and
everything about the house looked normal like most houses owned by rich men. I softly waited for an opportunity to make my next move, which was picking the best place to search for Clara.
I was a trained operative and yes I had a good training on covert operation even though I was yet to practice it in real life till that very moment. I was trained to pick out hostiles in the midst of a friendly crowd. I knew how to pick out odd things in every given environment. But then everything about this house I was watching looked perfectly okay and if not that I followed Charles to the place I would have given up.

Suddenly I spotted Charles at the doorway linking the main house from the back yard. I nervously watched him give instructions to one of the guys watching the house before going back inside. I instantly made my move and made it into the main building without being seen. You can’t imagine how loud my heart was pounding this moment. I had to be extremely careful. I was able to walk through the empty hallway towards the bedrooms without being seen. Slowly I listened for sounds as I passed through each room. I heard nothing till I got to the last room where I heard Charles’s voice as he talked to a lady whose voice was softer as she appeared to be begging. The voice was of course Clara’s, a discovery that left me extremely relieved. I couldn’t believe everything went very easily for me. I heaved a sigh of relief and grabbed my phone to send a quick emergency message for backup but unfortunately I felt a loud thud on the back of my head which instantly immobilized me as I lost consciousness. I never saw the blow coming. I never knew who hit me.

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

Charles shut the door the instant he heard my scream, leaving me all alone to imagine things for myself. I couldn’t really believe the man I saw lying face first on the floor was Val. It kind of appeared like a figment of my imagination. I couldn’t understand how he was able to locate the house in the first place. I was so scared of what Charles would do to him. It was definitely an opportunity he was craving for. Yes for him to go extreme just to have me, I believed he was ready to do unimaginable things to Val to get even. I knelt down and prayed. I prayed to dear Lord, begging him to touch Charles’s heart, not for my freedom but for Val’s sake.

After about an hour or so later, Charles walked into the room, sweating heavily. I stared at him suspiciously, wondering why he was sweating heavily. ‘’what have you done?’’ I asked breathlessly. He laughed. ‘’your boyfriend is so stupid. Imagine he walked right into my house without invitation. That guy is really sick in the head’’ he mused as he sat beside me on the bed. I felt like hitting him but restrained myself. ‘’what do you plan doing with him?’’ I asked fearfully. ‘’hmmmm I don’t know yet. It all depends on you. If you treat me fine, I will spare his life’’ he muttered and licked his lips. ‘’how do you plan getting away with all these?.
The police are already on you’’ I stammered, trying to frighten him. He laughed.
‘’that’s where you are mistaken my dear. Do you really think I got you here without the help of the police? My dear I have everything all figured out and your Val is surely going to pay for turning me into a monster unless you make me change my mind’’ he added seriously while I held my breath.

It really was obvious he had some bad police officers as friends but unknown to him I was relieved that he was yet to know that Val was a secret agent. The discovery was a big relief to me and I very much knew that for Val to make it to the house so easily that his colleagues won’t be far behind. The only thing I needed to do was to stall him as much as possible for the other agents to come to my rescue. ‘’fine I will do whatever you wish me to do. Just don’t hurt him. I don’t want you to keep hurting people. I don’t want you to be a monster. I will be with you if that will stop you from being a monster’’ I softly appealed to him, reaching for his hand as well. He drew back with surprise, like someone not too sure of himself. I kind of felt I made him suspicious with my composure. ‘’are you really doing this out of the love you have for him?’’ he asked to my surprise. ‘’no I’m not doing it for him. I’m doing it for you, for your family. You are following a dangerous path that will harm you in the end. I will do anything to prevent that from happening, including being with you’’ I breathed, shaking him with my words. He quickly snatched his hand from my grasp and left the room without another word. There was no doubt I got him shaken up with my words. Of course I never meant any of them; all I was doing was to stall him from doing anything silly.

Val’s side of the story continues:

I woke up with a jolt as I felt the effects of cold water all over me. I noticed a huge guy grinning at
me as he dropped an empty bucket on the wet floor. I was tied like a war prisoner who was about
to be tortured. My two hands and legs were stretched out and tied firmly to iron poles. I couldn’t imagine how long I was out. Taking a quick look around me, I noticed that I was held in a basement perhaps an underground basement. One quick blow on my face soon brought back my attention to the huge guy. There wasn’t any doubt he was enjoying every bit of my pains. ‘’I guess he’s now ready to talk’’ I heard Charles’s voice say from behind as he slowly walked towards me with a deep smile of satisfaction. ‘’you know I was having a difficult time with Clara until you stupidly showed up. Now she has accepted to be mine on the condition I let you go. But you and I know that’s not going to happen. You are not getting out of here alive unless you tell me how you got here in the first place and who else knows that you are here’’ he asked softly. ‘’I simply followed you from the city. I knew all along that you got Clara kidnapped. It was very easy to figure out and it equally was extremely easy to tail you’’ I answered with a short smile which left him frowning. A quick blow on my face soon showed me how pissed off he was. ‘’God knows I will torture you till you pass out over and over. I will make sure you regret ever coming between Clara and I’’ he threatened.
‘’How do you plan getting away with all these? I guess you haven’t thought about that?, or are you going to keep Clara here forever?’’ I asked as I spat out blood from my mouth, spitting on him. ‘’maybe you are the scapegoat I need to get away with this’’ he replied with a smile as he landed three heavy blows on my nose. I passed out again.

Meanwhile at the office of the state director DSS; agent Jenifer is seen trying Val’s number for the tenth time with no success. The state director and agent mike are also seen frowning. The atmosphere in the room looked tense and it’s very difficult to figure out what’s going through their minds

(Interlude)

Tayo prayed a prayer of thanks to God as she sat down,the week was fun as she made three new friends which happened to be her brothers wives and victor was staying with her twin brother for a few weeks, but since the day her dad left, she hasn’t set her eyes on him and she was worried but her grandfather who was with him most of the time said he was fine.
“Good morning ma’am” Kelvin said cheerfully.
“Morning. You left early before the reading of the will was done” she said confused.
“I didn’t want to encroach on anyone’s personal space,and it had to do with family”
“If my mum extends an invitation to you that means you are family”
“Nope, she had a message for me which I got”
“You are extremely happy; is there anything I should know about?” She asked confused as he burst out laughing.
“You are very funny but I’m just happy”
“Then you have to treat me to lunch” she said
“No problem, everything on me” he said and she raised her head and looked at him,scrutinizing him.
“I was joking, I wasn’t serious” she said.
“Two colleagues going out on a friendly lunch”
“And that colleague happens to be your boss and people would talk, office gossips and I don’t want to spoil my reputation” she said ,her heart telling her to jump on the opportunity to be with him while her brain kept warning her.
“We had lunch together before”
“That was because we were celebrating”
“I’m celebrating besides you don’t listen to gossips because the first day you got kind of sick in office gossips started spreading that we were dating”
“No way” Tayo shouted standing in disbelief.
“Yes way, I’m not that bad to look at, and I need to tell you something important about my life and if something happens to me I’ll hold you responsible” he said seriously playing the guilt card which worked perfectly well as she bit her lips.
“Okay” she said reluctantly and he gave her a big megawatt smile which melted her heart immediately.
“So what are our plans for today” she asked waking herself from her fantasy world as he swung to business mode.
Kelvin pulled out her chair as they sat, this looks like a date she thought as everywhere looks very fancy,she took out her phone to quickly check her emails.
“What will you like to eat” Kelvin asked.
“This is my first time in this restaurant, why don’t you order for me: it looks like you are known face here” she said seeing how he interacted with the waiter.
“Alright, Felix the usual”
“No problem sir” he said with a smile as he left.

(Val’s side of the stoy continues:)

It took me many days to set up plan to escape from the captiveroom I was kept. I had to tell one of the guy guarding me that I was pressed; that I was going to pee. I was lucky that he accepted my request.

Roughly he jerked me up and dragged me towards the toilet. He definitely was a strong guy and I knew I needed extra strength plus my training to beat him in a fight.
On getting to the toilet, he threw me inside and shut the door, whistling a song as he waited for me outside the toilet.
I soon settled in the toilet where I took time to rest and perfect my plans. After relieving myself, I flushed the toilet, made the sign of the cross and breathed deeply before knocking on the door to get the big guy’s attention.
Just like I expected, he opened the door to drag me out but unknown to him I was very much ready. Before he threw open the toilet door, I scooped enough toilet water from the toilet pit and splashed the water on his face as soon as he opened the door, putting him in great discomfort and disarray as he spit, cursed and wiped his face with great energy, putting down his guard. It was the opportunity I needed to put him down. One kick to the stomach plus a choke hold were enough to knock him out. I quickly grabbed his gun and headed to the room I heard Clara’s voice the last time.

Breaking into the room wasn’t easy and the noise it generated as I kicked on the door alerted the other guys’ guarding the house. But I still had time to break in and grab Clara before they could get to the room.
Unfortunately the difficult part was escaping with Clara. The girl was very weak and scared. She couldn’t run very fast and before we could get to the back of the building the other guys weren’t far behind. The only escape route was scaling the same fence I used in gaining access to the house but unfortunately Clara couldn’t do that without help.

Hmmm! I couldn’t tell how it happened but I had the chance which I utilized to take Clara with me. again. This time I was not ready to let her go without any fight of defence.
The same time I was smelling freedom was the same time the worst seemed to be happening.
I was intercepted by a huge boy not different from the many I had seen in the captiveroom.

Yes we luckily made it to the fence but in the process of lifting up Clara for her to grab the edge and scale over, the other guys closed in on us. One of them fired a round which whistled over my head, making me lose my grip on Clara, she instantly fell on the floor while I nervously pulled out the gun I had with me and got ready for a show off as they surrounded us and waited for my next move. I really was lucky the guys never kept firing at us.
I desperately counted them. They were seven guys in all. Four of them pointed their guns at me while the rest simply stood and waited for the next move from me. I was lucky they didn’t attempt shooting again. Perhaps they wanted me alive or perhaps they were scared that a shootout between us could lead to Clara getting shot.
I was totally surrounded and I knew there was no getting out.
‘’let the girl go and we will let you go. You know you stand no chance. you can’t shoot all of us without getting shot’’ one of the guys demanded quickly as my eyes went back and forth like a cornered rat.
‘’Let the girl go mister. Just take this rare chance we are giving you. You are totally outgunned and outnumbered’’ the young man demanded again while my heart furiously pounded as I wondered what next to do. Of course I knew I was in a tight fix. I equally knew they weren’t going to let me get away once I let them have Clara. Letting go of Clara or my weapon was never an option for me.
‘’you have just two seconds left to make up your mind’’ he demanded as he took a step towards me. I breathed deeply and aimed at him, I wasn’t going to let them take Clara again
without a fight. I knew once I take the shot that the rest of the gang was going to fire at me but then I really saw no other option left than to die fighting. I saw death staring and beckoning at me once again. I never knew I was going to die so young. Sweat appeared all over me as I got ready to fire my last shot. But fortunately for me before I could press the trigger I spotted agent Jenifer and three other agents closing on them from behind. The bad guys all stood facing me without watching their back, an opportunity Jenifer and the other agents used in getting close within range. I heaved a sigh of relief. Yes it was a perfect timing. They came at the right time to save my sorry.
‘’Drop your weapons right now. You are totally surrounded’’ Jenifer instantly barked, shocking the hoodlums who all turned to see that they were all sitting ducks. They instantly dropped their guns without hesitation while four other agents jumped into the compound from the back fence I earlier tried using to escape with Clara. I was very much surprised and relieved at the same time. I never knew the house was already surrounded by my colleagues during the show off. Clara instantly got on her feet and hugged me tightly while agent Jenifer drew close and smiled at me. ‘’thanks for saving my life,’’ I breathed gratefully.
‘’we heard the gunshot and that helped lead us to this corner’’ she replied with a smile.
‘’yes I was shot at when trying to escape with Clara, luckily the bullet missed its target.

How did you find the location?’’ I asked curiously. ‘’the prints found on the bullets we got from the
first crime scene came out yesterday. We ran it through the police database with us and discovered that it matched two officers working with the state police headquarters. We tried reaching you but couldn’t. After picking up the officers, they confessed that they gave out weapons to Mr. Charles but never participated in the kidnap. They gave us more than enough details to help. But when we still failed to reach you today, we had to track your phone signal which eventually gave the same location the police officers gave us during questioning. We had to get as many team as we can to come over here because we didn’t know what to expect’’ she explained quickly while I breathed deeply.
Another agent soon showed up with a frown. ‘’we only saw one huge guy inside the house. Mr. Charles isn’t in the house’’ he informed us.

Clara returned to her relieved parents that same evening while I was asked to go home. According to my director, I still have to face disciplinary action, something I really wasn’t comfortable with. I felt after all the risks I took that everything was going to be fine. ‘’we still have some decisions to make concerning your conduct. So go home and wait for our call’’ was all I was told. Of course I felt bad. It really was painful to know that my efforts weren’t really appreciated. I almost lost my life for the job but no one took notice of it. I returned to my apartment later that evening, so tired and hungry. I had a long shower before dozing off in my sitting room. I barely had slept for few minutes when a soft knock on my door brought me to my feet. I opened the door to see Vivian smiling at me. She looked so sexy in a cleavage revealing green gown which showed off all her curves. I swallowed hard as I stared at her. ‘’I came to thank you and equally apologize over all I said to you the last time. I made you a great meal. I know you will be very tired and hungry. I also heard rumors that you might be suspended from your job over all that happened. I’m here to keep you company. I’m here to be with you through the night. That’s my small way of appreciating you’’ she breathed softly, taking a step towards me and planting a kiss on my cheek that sent sweet sensations down my spine.

Unknown to anyone, Mr. Charles was quietly seated in his car which was parked right in front of
Val’s compound as he waited for nightfall. You can’t imagine the surprise on his face as he saw
Vivian walk into the compound.
Nevertheless, nothing was going to stop him from finishing what he started.

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

I was so happy to be free, so happy to breathe in fresh air again. I couldn’t believe the events of the past few days were actually real. It was just like an action movie or should I say an action dream . I couldn’t believe Charles actually kidnapped me just to force me into loving him. Yes talking about Charles, the desperation I saw in his eyes and the way he forcefully wanted my love looked more of an ambition and not real love. I knew our families had a lot to gain from our union but I felt he and his family had a whole lot more to gain from it. It was all about power, wealth and politics. Yes he even hinted on it when he was ranting like a mad man. But then it equally was so sad and disappointing to know that my father drew back his interest and anger when he learned that it was Charles who kidnapped me. He instantly stopped talking tough and only assured me that he was going to talk to Charles’s father. He never said anything about throwing the boy in jail or taking a more decisive action. It was just as if dad was more interested in saving his political career than caring for my feelings.

Nevertheless I slept peacefully, so happy to be home and so happy that Val and I were now in the same page. It was so wonderful seeing him break into the room to free me and it equally was so amazing running with him as we fled the scene. Even though we failed to make it out of the house without outside help all that mattered to me was how he stood by my side against all odds. He put his life on the line for me. He was just the man. I dreamt about it over and over with a smile on my face. I woke up the next day, yearning to see my val. We never really had the opportunity to talk much the previous day because I was instantly whisked away and brought home while he headed to his workplace to sort things out with his colleagues. I nervously dialed his number but he failed to answer. I tried his line two more times before a lady answered his call.
‘’Hello, I’m agent Jenifer. You are Clara the governor’s daughter right?’’ she introduced herself and asked while a thousand and one thoughts instantly filled my head.
‘’Yes I’m; how about Val?’’ I asked.
‘’I’m sorry he won’t be able to talk to you at the moment. I’m coming over to the mansion to talk to you. Just wait for me’’ she replied and hung up, leaving me a bit worried. Precisely an hour later, agent Jenifer walked into my room with a smile.
‘’How was your night?’’ she asked.
‘’I’m fine but I guess Charles hasn’t been arrested yet?’’ I asked. She breathed deeply and nodded. ‘’yes he hasn’t been arrested yet but I’m also sorry to tell you that your dad wants us to drop the case. I don’t know the reason for his decision and I don’t just
know what to say about it’’ she informed me while I dropped my eyes. Of course the news never came as a surprise to me.
‘’Anyway, you have nothing to worry about. A female police officer plus a team of armed policemen will be assigned to guard you every minute of the day. So don’t be scared’’ she added with a smile.
‘’I’m not scared of Charles but how about Val?’’ I asked breathlessly. She kept quiet for few seconds.
‘’Val won’t be working here anymore’’ she muttered.
‘’but why?, I want him. He’s a good agent. I need no one else but him’’ I protested.
‘’how close are you with him?’’ she suddenly asked.
‘’we are very close. So close for him to risk his life for me’’ I fired quickly.
‘’There is nothing spectacular in what he did my dear. Every other agent would have done the same for you.
By the way how close is he with your cousin, miss Vivian?’’ she asked. I stared at her suspiciously. I couldn’t help but wonder where the question was heading to.
‘’they are friends. She actually met him before me. She equally was the person that revealed to me that Val was an agent when she discovered something about us’’ I breathed, stopping the instant I noticed that I said much more than I was asked. ‘’what did she discover?’’ she asked curiously.
‘’It’s something private. Why should I tell you?’’ I answered weakly.
‘’Because it could help in an ongoing investigation’’ she answered while I stared at her in disbelief. ‘’you see your cousin Vivian was found badly stabbed in Val’s apartment yesterday evening. Val was equally found stabbed. There wasn’t any sign of break in or forced entry in the apartment and we are about coming to the conclusion that perhaps Vivian went over to his house to spend the night or something similar and they ended up fighting and stabbing each other. It’s just a mere speculation for now though ‘’ she softly informed me as I gasped for breath. Many thoughts flowed into my head.

Of course the previous day, I barely had returned home when Vivian who was supposed to keep me company came in to tell me that she was going to a friend’s birthday party. I never bothered to ask her much because I was dead tired. But with Jenifer’s revelation, It all started flowing back to my head. No wonder Vivian bluntly told me everything about Val that led us into quarreling. She never revealed Val’s identity to save me; rather she did it for us to break up. She did it for herself. She was trying to save her relationship with him. I instantly felt used.
‘’Oh my God’’ I breathed with great pain.
‘’so what exactly did she discover that made her reveal Val’s true identity to you?’’ Jenifer softly demanded, breaking into my thoughts. ‘’she told me everything about Val after I told her we were having an affair’’ I confessed with tears which filled my eyes. Jenifer drew back and shrugged. ‘’with the look of things its obvious agent Val was having an affair with both of you. I’m afraid to say that he is in a very big trouble right now, that is if he makes it out alive because his wounds are very deep and serious’’ she added with a frown while I took my pillow and covered my face with shame as I wept bitterly. I regretted ever coming back to Nigeria.

Agent Jenifer soon left me all alone to myself. I spent all day crying and thinking over my life. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t do anything. I felt bad and betrayed. I really didn’t know whether to pray for my cousin and Val to survive or to wish them death.

Around 3:30pm, Charles surprisingly sneaked into my room with flowers. I stared at him with disbelief, wondering how he was able to make it to my room. For some seconds I was at lost on how to react because he was the last person I expected to see. He calmly drew forward and knelt beside me. ‘’my love, my princess I guess you
must have heard what happened to your cousin?’’ he asked softly. I couldn’t say anything to him, instead I looked away. I couldn’t believe he was actually in my room to talk about Vivian after what he did to me. Yes a part of me felt he came to mock me over Val but then he dropped the flowers on my bed and reached for my hand, making me stare at him one more time. I instantly noticed he had a grave look and his hand shook as our eyes met. He looked genuinely worried for me but then the events of the past few days were too heavy to ignore and they came flashing back into my head in full force. ‘’I came to apologize over using the wrong approach on you my dear. I was only desperate and acted out of desperation and frustration. There wasn’t any other way to get you to be with me, to get you to see the truth. I knew all along that Val wasn’t real. You have been away from the country too long to know how things happen over here. I found out very late that he was taking advantage of you and Vivian at the same time and I knew you would never believe me considering our relationship. I had to find a way to get you away from him. Yes I
knew I took the wrong approach and I’m here to apologize and atone for the pains I caused you and your family. I will do anything to have your trust back. Our families have come a long way. I believe It’s better you trust the devil you know than the devil you don’t. My only mistake was kidnapping you instead of fighting like a man. Please forget all the silly words I said back then. I
didn’t know what got over me. I was plain silly. Yes I’m ready to go to jail over it but please I beg of you, forgive me’’ he begged solemnly, leaving me extremely indecisive as he sobbed before me. I had never seen that part of him before. Of course I was touched.
’’My head is very much filled upright now. I can’t think properly but please stop kneeling for me’’ I stammered. ‘’will you then accept my flowers?’’ he begged seriously. I breathed deeply and took them. ‘’we are cool with each other Charles but I’m not promising anything yet.

Moreover you wounded and humiliated me. You almost raped me. I need to come to terms with
everything. I need to confront Val and Vivian as well. I need to tell them how I feel about their
betrayal’’ I breathed with great energy. ‘’my dear, I really don’t think that will be possible. According to what I heard, your Val isn’t going to make it. He lost quite a lot of blood and he has been unconscious since the previous evening. And as for Vivian, arrangements are being made to get her out of the country for treatment. I think India or so’’ he revealed while I breathed deeply and shrugged. ‘’how much do you know about Val?, were you aware all along that he’s a federal agent?’’ I asked curiously, watching his reaction but unfortunately he gave out nothing. He appeared so cool, not revealing his feelings. ‘’let’s stop talking about that idiot. I beg of you. I’m happy God has vindicated me” he softly muttered, holding my hands while I closed my eyes.

At 7:38pm, in Dining room in the governor’s lodge, I went over to have dinner with my family. It really was the first time in weeks I was having dinner together with mum and dad. It equally was an opportunity to discuss some family issues. Of course Charles left me a bit confused and indecisive with his apology and all he told me earlier in the day. He finally left, promising to show up around 7pm to talk to my parents and apologize to them as well. I was just so vulnerable like a young girl experiencing heartbreak for the first time. The news of my cousin’s romance with Val totally shattered me. I needed someone to lean on and it was as if Charles was just making good use of the opportunity to show a new part of him to me. On getting to the dining room, dad instantly stood up and hugged me. ‘’my dear, you can’t believe how happy I’m to have you right here. Charles went too far with his games and I’m really sorry for not doing anything about it. I’m so ashamed of myself’’ he breathed with a painful voice. ‘’its okay dad, what matters the most is that I’m right here with you’’ I replied while mum nodded with a smile. Charles walked in on us that moment as if he had been around, hiding in a corner all along. He approached us and knelt before everyone.. ‘’I’m so sorry for taking advantage of your goodwill. I’m so sorry for
destroying my family’s reputation.

My father is no longer talking to me and he already threatened to disinherit me unless I make up with you sir. Please take me back like a prodigal son returning home to his family. I only did what I did out of love and desperation. I promise never to bother Clara ever again’’. He begged with eyes filled with tears. He looked so genuine, so real and so convincing. I never knew when I drew forward and got him to his feet, not minding that he was addressing my father. ‘’dad, mum, you guys should forgive him. Sometimes we do silly things out of love and what he did isn’t an exception. Yes I now know love is never enough to make a relationship work, what matters most is understanding’’ I breathed, shocking my parents with my words. Even Charles was so surprised with all I said. He couldn’t believe himself. ‘’are you saying that you now understand Charles and he also understands you?’’ mum asked with great curiosity, unable to hide the excitement in her head. I couldn’t reply her question but deep down I answered her in my heart. Yes all that matter is ‘understanding’, Real unpolluted love only happens in movies.

Meanwhile Val is seen helplessly lying unconscious in the emergency unit of a government hospital. A middle aged doctor, a team of student doctors and four nurses are seen working tirelessly on him as the clock hanging above them ticks away. Val’s mother can be heard crying so painful at the waiting room.

(At 12pm the next day at the governor’s mansion, Clara is seen sitting calmly at the balcony in front of her room reading a newspaper, Charles joins her carrying a bottle of wine and two glass cups)

‘’Deji will be getting married on Saturday, hope you will be attending?’’ Charles asked curiously as he offered me a glass of wine. I shrugged and shook my head.
‘’Deji?, which Deji?’’ I asked, pretending not to recognize the person he was talking about.
‘’come on are you joking or serious?’’ he asked with disbelief while I smiled. Deji was the first son of former deputy governor of Oyo state (3rd republic). He equally was one of Charles’s most loyal friends. However I never had any idea he was getting married.
‘’well he never told me and I don’t think I will be attending’’ I answered.
‘’he sent your invitation through me. The wedding is on Saturday at Abuja. At least you will use the opportunity to meet old friends you haven’t seen for ages’’ he pressed on with a smile. I breathed deeply as I gave him a long look.
Oh yes I already forgave him over the stunt he pulled on me the previous week but I couldn’t get myself to forget it. I was still very much uncomfortable with him and no matter how hard I tried to force myself into feeling very secure with him I just couldn’t.
‘’we will leave for Abuja on Friday and spend the night at my place. On Saturday we leave for the wedding. Once the wedding is over you can decide how long you wish to stay in the city. My job will be to guard and serve you’’ he added pleasantly to impress me. I forced out a smile that never reached my heart.
‘’Charles, you very much know that what you did to me the previous week will never leave my memory. I still find it very difficult to be free with you’’ I bluntly told him while he nodded, drew close and reached for my hand.
‘’of course my dear I know. And I will do everything possible to make you trust me again’’ he promised quickly. I breathed deeply.
‘’okay fine, I will attend the wedding with you. I haven’t attended any high profile occasion since I arrived the country’’ I accepted with a smile. His eyes beamed with joy.

By 10am Friday , Charles walked into the lodge expecting to see me well dressed up and ready for the journey ahead. But instead he saw me in sitting room, busy with my phone. I expected him to get angry but Instead of getting angry, he drew close and knelt by my side.
‘’what’s wrong my dear?, you haven’t been picking my calls since 7am and you are equally not dressed up. Don’t tell me you are not going again?’’ he asked breathlessly. I couldn’t help but notice how tensed he was. Of course he was trying hard to control his real feelings.
‘’I’m still indecisive. I don’t know if I will be going again’’ I muttered looking away like a spoilt child.
‘’come on my dear. I know you don’t feel safe with me but I promise I will never misbehave. I went through a lot of pains arranging for the helicopter that will take us to Abuja. Please consider my feelings as well. I already told Deji and his bride that I will be coming with you. You can’t change your mind at the last minute’’ he begged desperately.
‘’okay fine but where will I be spending the night? I don’t want to share the same room with you and I know it will be rude, leaving you to sleep over at my family house once we get to Abuja’’ I asked seriously.
‘’you will spend the night in my place but you have nothing to fear. I won’t be very much around because today is equally Deji’s bachelor’s Night and I will spend most of the evening at the party’’’ he answered quickly.
‘’so that means I will be all alone and lonely in your house?’’ I asked, putting him in a tight position with the question. He swallowed hard.
‘’come on. Why are you being so uptight. It isn’t fair’’ he cried. I laughed, got up and headed to my room to dress up.

The trip to Abuja in a helicopter was another wonderful experience. It was my second time of flying in a helicopter and my first time of going on a long trip in it. Charles was all caring and nice. He was all out to impress me and yes I enjoyed every moment.
When we got to his house later in the day, he never tried anything silly with me, instead kept a respectable distance. He just wanted me to see that he was a changed person. Yes deep down I appreciated everything but to be sincere to myself I wasn’t in love with him and I never promised him anything.
All I did before my parents when he apologized for his wrong deeds was to forgive and accept him back as a friend with the hopes of . . . perhaps getting serious with him in future. But with the way I was seeing my feelings I still had my doubts over how my future with him would turn out. There was no denying my parents were encouraging the relationship just like his parents were and yes it would be good for business and for everyone. That equally was the main reason I was trying hard to be free with him but still I never get turned on nor felt any sexual urge whenever I was with him. Yes I knew love no longer mattered these days but at least a little of it was all I wanted to feel for him.

Deji’s wedding was a one in town society wedding that had almost all the personalities in Nigeria attending, From politicians to academias, business moguls and expatriates. It was just like an annual get together of the upper class. Almost all my friends were in attendance and yes none of us concentrated very much on the ceremony because of gossips and stories we had to share. It really was wonderful and I was so happy to be there.
The M.C, who was no other person than basketmouth the comedian, did what he was good at by making the second ceremony (reception) as lively as ever.
The event dragged on till around 6:30pm when the M.C, finally announced to everyone’s amazement that he will be in charge of another wedding coming up in few months.
‘’should I reveal the couple?’’ he asked in his usual funny manner, leaving a chorus of yes on everyone’s lips. He then asked the DJ to play him a song.
I laughed heartily as I watched the M.C, dance towards my table, not suspecting a thing. Then suddenly he stopped at the table I shared with Charles and three other friends, cracked a joke and handed over the microphone to Charles while the hall went silent as everyone watched. At that moment I understood what was about happening and my heart frozen.
Charles softly took the microphone, pulled out a diamond ring and went on his knees before me.
‘’will you marry me Clara?’’ he asked in front of everyone. Our friends, family, the media, everyone that mattered were all there.
I felt angry, shocked and speechless. Rejecting him was close to impossible. It would be a huge embarrassment.

[To be continued]

TRUE TRAGIC LOVE: CLARA THE GOVERNOR’SDAUGHTER (PART TWO)

READ PART ONE BELOW:

TRUE TRAGIC LOVE: CLARA THE GOVERNOR’S DAUGHTER (PART ONE)

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

I stayed in my room for the rest of the day, thinking and playing back in my head the events of the past forty eight hours. The look of disappointment Clara gave me as I left her room hours ago equally kept replaying in my head, refusing to leave my mind. Oh yes I had this urge to tell her the truth, to tell her my feelings and my real identity in order to put my conscience at rest but I was very scared of how she would react. I definitely was in a tight corner and I knew I messed up by allowing my heart get over my head. But then we can’t choose who our heart falls in love with and I really was stuck between doing my duty or following my heart. I was at lost, clueless and very nervous.

By 7:30pm, the housekeeper came to my room to inform me that dinner was ready. I headed to the dining room hoping to see Clara but was disappointed.
‘’Madam Clara is currently not feeling fine. She told me not to disturb her with dinner’’ the housekeeper muttered as she noticed my curious look. I couldn’t help but eat alone with the intention of checking up on her after the meal. Of course I strongly felt that I did something she wasn’t happy with when I was in her room in the morning but I just couldn’t figure out what I did wrong.

Fifteen minutes later, I softly made my way to Clara’s room. Her light was on when I gently opened the door. I hesitated at the door as I waited for her reaction but none came, giving me the courage to walk up to her bed and sit beside her.
‘’I was told you haven’t eaten anything strong all day. Is anything the problem?’’ I asked softly as she turned to face me.
‘’I’m alright, I don’t feel like eating. I’m checking my weight’’ she answered softly, trying hard to hide her feelings but I clearly noticed she was lying.
‘’I feel that I did something that made you angry in the morning. I’m very sorry. I just hope you will understand. There are many things you are yet to know about me and someone in my position just has to be careful. I have feelings like every other guy but I have learnt not to listen to the yearnings in my heart. I’m sorry. I know you won’t understand’’ I stammered while she left her eyes on me saying nothing. Of course I wanted to tell her a lot more but I only ended up making little sense with my words.
‘’good night dear, I hope we are still heading back home tomorrow’’ I stammered as I tried to get up but surprisingly she grabbed my right hand, forcing me back on the bed.
‘’you are scared of Charles, you are scared of my family, you are scared of what people will say but I don’t care’’ she solemnly breathed, blinking her eyes as she battled hard to control her emotions. There was no denying she wanted me. There was no denying I wanted her but then it was an affair that wasn’t supposed to be. I could lose a lot. I couldn’t equally gain a lot. It all depends on fate, destiny, luck.
‘’yes everyone will be disappointed in you. Your parents will end up throwing me to the trash can. I’m solely here to be your companion and not your lover. This is Nigeria. This is Africa. We can’t act like whites here’’ I struggled to say without really giving up my real identity. She on her own part never understood what I meant when I said I was there solely as her companion.
‘’so you prefer being a coward instead of fighting for this opportunity?. Yes I know, I know I told you to delete what happened between us in the morning from your mind but to be truthful I can’t even delete it from my own mind’’ she confessed, turned and buried her head in her pillow. I swallowed hard as I admired her hair, shoulders and bare back.
I never knew when I began caressing her and in no time we were back to where we stopped in the morning. This time around the passion between us was so intense that we were soon totally unclad as we caressed and kissed each other.
Finally it got to the penetration part but unfortunately I came with no protection.
‘’come on Val, just be gentle’’ she whispered into my ear, encouraging me to go all the way in without any fear. At that peculiar moment she was just like an ordinary girl before me, her status and personality simply disappeared as we took ourselves to Pluto.

‘’Oh Val,’’ she breathed when we were done few minutes later.
‘’I have never felt this good in my entire life but I’m scared Clara,’’ I confessed as I pulled away from her. She smiled and dropped her head on my chest.
‘’All we need is understanding plus a good plan. Everything will be okay. How about we heading to Obudu tomorrow? I have heard a lot about the place but have never gone there’’ she suggested excitedly while I breathed deeply as I closed my eyes. I couldn’t help but mutter quick prayers because definitely I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
Just like every other rich girls, she could turn against me at the end, especially when the truth eventually starts leaking out.

(Vivian’s part of the story continues:)

‘’Val is a federal agent and your dad got him here to protect you. We had to come up with the lie he told you in order for you to be comfortable with him. We did it to protect you, since you insisted on having no security guy breathing down your neck. I was very much okay with the plan but I never knew the guy was going to take advantage of the situation to sleep with you. That wasn’t part of his job description and his action has shown that he can’t be trusted with your life. He lied to you, he played on your intelligence, and he used your emotions. I’m very sorry that I was part of this grand scheme in the first place. I will leave your house very early tomorrow because I
know after all I just told you, I won’t be welcomed here anymore. Just forgive me
Clara’’ Vivian breathed solemnly while I trembled over her words.

Of course I was in pain. I was so shocked and ashamed of my life. I couldn’t believe I gave myself away very easy to a fake guy. I felt very terrible. ‘’I have to go to my room and pack up my things,’’ I heard Vivian mutter as she stood up. I quickly grabbed her hand. ‘’no you are not going anywhere. This is your home. You are my sister. The only person leaving is Val’’ I stammered softly. ‘’I can’t stay here anymore. Once you confront Val and he leaves this house, he will definitely put a call to your dad who won’t be happy with me for leaking the secret’’ she protested. I slowly wiped the tears flowing down my eyes, took a deep breath and hugged her. ‘’thank you for opening up to me. That’s all that matters now. I can’t imagine how long he would have continued sleeping with me supposing you didn’t tell me the truth. He never loved me. He was only using me to have fun while on duty. He’s going tonight. Just wait for me here’’ I breathed painfully and tried heading towards my door but Vivian quickly held me back.
‘’No don’t confront him tonight. Don’t kick him out this night’’ she pleaded.
‘’No he has to go tonight. Just wait for me here please I beg of you,’’ I pleaded, snatched my hand from her grasp and headed to Val’s room with great fury. On getting to his room, I barged in without knocking, throwing the young man into confusion as he struggled to get out of the bed. ‘’what’s this about my dear? You look awful?’’ he stammered as he got to his feet. I simply walked up to him and lashed out a terrible slap on his face, sending him backwards with the force of my blow.
‘’agent Val or what should I call you?. How dare you? I never believed an innocent looking guy like you could be so deceitful. Charles is very much better than you. I have learnt my lesson. Vivian told me everything about you after I told her all we did. Just leave my house now’’ I shouted with great energy. ‘’please keep down your voice. I know I lied to you but I lied in order to protect you. I lied in order to be with you. Whatever I did with you was done out of real love and affection. Just calm down’’ he pleaded but I was far from calming down. My head was just so full. I couldn’t even think properly.
‘’listen to me Clara. Vivian just told you everything probably to get back at me. Please don’t get mad’’ he pleaded desperately but his words only made me more angry. I slapped him again and again while he simply took it all without flinching. I was very much in love with him. I was feeling the slaps I gave to him down in my heart. I couldn’t believe he didn’t trust me enough to tell me the truth. I couldn’t just stand his sight anymore.
‘’pack your things and leave right now.
You can take one of the cars with you if you are scared of leaving this compound on foot’’ I barked.
‘’I’m sorry but my duty is to be with you at all times. I can’t leave the house’’ he breathed defiantly, surprising me with his words.
‘’fine be ready to be with my corpse then because I’m heading to the kitchen right now to get a knife and stab myself’’ I threatened, turned and headed towards the door.
‘’okay okay, I’m leaving. Don’t do anything silly. I beg of you.’’ He stammered. I stopped at the door, faced him and folded my hands.
‘’then start packing right now’’ I commanded with tears in my eyes. It was so painful watching him grab his bag. I felt the pain very much but I did the right thing in kicking him out.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

As I drove out of the compound that fateful night, I couldn’t help but shade tears. I knew I had lost Clara, I equally was at risk of losing my job. I just didn’t know how to face the governor and my superiors. I equally didn’t know exactly what Vivian told the poor girl and that in its own way was going to make things very difficult for me because I didn’t know the kind of defence to put up in the upcoming query and debriefing I was going to face. I parked in front of the house, kept watch and thought of what next to do. Of course the last thing to do at this stage was to leave my duty post. I still had a duty which was to keep watch over Clara and I had to stay around in case she decides to leave the house. Yes I was scared. I knew it was just a matter of hours before a call from the governor or my commander breaks my last energy. I couldn’t believe I messed up my career because of a silly feeling called love. I was in love with Clara but it doesn’t matter now. Does it? Being on the verge of losing my job, my future, my happiness and my life, I couldn’t imagine living in the country without anything. I couldn’t help but pray. I prayed, begging God to touch Clara’s heart and stop her from telling anyone else that I slept with her, which was the only thing that could save me in a way. But then even if Clara decides to keep her mouth shut will Vivian do the same?. The worst mistake I made was sleeping with Clara .

At 7:30am, next morning, I woke up with a jolt, very surprised that I was even able to sleep inside the car. Perhaps it was all due to the exhaustion of the long trip of the previous day that made me sleep so easily. I yawned, breathed deeply and checked my phone for any missed call as the events of the previous night slowly played backed in my head. I nervously dialed Clara’s number with prayers in my lips but unfortunately she failed to pick up her phone and after trying for the tenth time, I decided to call Vivian and talk to her. Yes, even though I was extremely angry with Vivian over what she did to me, I knew it was pointless fighting with her at the meantime. I still had the chance of fixing my mistakes and I felt talking to her could be beneficial in the long run.

Luckily, Vivian picked up my call the moment her phone rang. I heaved a sigh of relief as I quickly formed out the best words to use on her. ‘’please can we talk for some minutes; it’s very urgent,” I pleaded. She kept quiet for few seconds. ‘’please’’ I pushed on.
‘’okay where are you?’’ she asked. ‘’I’m at the gate’’ I replied.
‘’I will be there in few minutes’’ she accepted. ‘’fine, I’m waiting’’ I breathed and hung up.

Nervously, I waited for her to show up as I prepared my questions and all I wished to tell her. I was very desperate. Yes I was very eager to fix things but I equally was still very confused on how to go about it, the right approach to use.

Exactly ten minutes later, Vivian appeared from the compound and joined me in the car, looking very serious and uptight.
‘’Good morning’’ she managed to greet. ‘’you really messed me up yesterday’’ I breathed as I faced her. She looked down and said nothing. ‘’I thought we were friends. I thought we understood each other? What will you achieve in ruining my assignment?’’ I
asked breathlessly. She shrugged. ‘’sleeping with Clara was never part of your assignment. I was only protecting my sister. I only told her the truth about you and nothing else’’ she replied softly,
trying hard to appear calm.
However I couldn’t help but notice that her hands trembled. Her face looked pale and troubled. ‘’it’s okay. So how is Clara?’’ I asked. ‘’you care only about Clara but never for once cared to know how I feel’’ she muttered, bringing up her face to meet my gaze for the first time. We silently exchanged glances as the tension between us heightened. I really felt like smashing her head on the car dashboard but then I had to control the anger in me.
I tried to say something but my lips refused to open. Just that moment a Toyota SUV emerged from the compound, headed out of the gate and moved into the runway, gaining our attention. The driver of the car was no other person than Clara and of course I was very stunned to see her driving out of the compound that early in the day. At first I really didn’t know what to do.

“That’s Clara’’ Vivian breathed as I quickly switched on my car engine, very eager to follow her up.
‘’what are you trying to do?’’ she asked suspiciously. ‘’it’s my job to follow her wherever she goes and that’s what I’m doing’’ I replied as I threw her a quick look while she grabbed the door handle by her side in a bid to get out of the car. Unfortunately for me the attention I gave her distracted me from noticing on time a Toyota sienna which pulled up in a commando fashion, blocking Clara’s car. Before I could even blink or grab my small service pistol, two masked men jumped out of the sienna brandishing AK47 rifles which they fired on my car, shattering the windscreen as
Vivian and I managed to take cover under the dashboard.

Few seconds later, the Toyota sienna and Clara’s car disappeared without a trace while I frantically radioed for help. I couldn’t believe Clara was gone for real. The poor girl was just kidnapped before me and I couldn’t even fire a shot to save her. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all a setup that cashed in on the confusion between us or just an opportunity that played into the hands of the kidnappers. ‘’but where could Clara be heading to by this time of the day?’’ I wondered over and over.Of course I was screwed.

After alerting every available units within town, I discharged Vivian and went in full pursuit, driving wildly as I headed out of the estate with great fear in my mind. Two policemen who were part of the men guiding the governor’s private residence equally joined in the pursuit, following behind in an unmarked car. We raced blindly to the main road and luckily spotted Clara’s SUV as it took a quick turn and headed towards Umuguma Portharcourt road. The other sienna car was nowhere in sight and I had no choice than to go after the SUV even though it appeared to me as a decoy. It really was a fierce chase as I pursued the car. A radio call from one of the police units along Porthacourt road equally assured me of a road block being set up ahead. But unfortunately on getting towards the general hospital junction, the car took a quick right, raced on and drove with full speed into a nearby bush, really taking me by surprise as I fearfully wondered what the stunt was all about because my life was equally on the line.

I had no time to think before sporadic gunshots from the bush sent me over the other side of the road as my car dived into a small ditch. I jumped out and fired blindly, so scared and frightened over all that was happening. It was my first time of facing real action and . . . hey, it was a life and death thing. There was just a very thin line between life and death in the situation I found myself in. My service pistol was equally no match for an Ak and the bandits really were well prepared for the show. All I did was fire blindly as the kidnappers rained bullets over me. It was just as if they really intended to kill me and pulled the decoy show just to drive me into an ambush. But luckily for me my backup arrived. The two policemen following behind soon joined in the action, firing their own rifles in quick succession as the hoodlums made a quick retreat.

Few seconds later, the sound of motorcycles roared in the bush while we still took cover and waited. After few more seconds there was silence. The hoodlums were gone. ‘’we lost them’’ one of the officers said to me as he carefully checked Clara’s SUV which was empty. I felt like crying. I felt like pissing on myself. I couldn’t imagine the kind of explanation to give for the security lapse that led to Clara’s kidnap. Of course with the way the kidnappers carried out the show I was convinced they still would have successfully kidnapped the girl even if I was with her. The only difference was that I would have been left dead. For the first time I saw the full risk of my job glaring before me. ‘’Yes I would have been dead supposing I was in the car with Clara’’ I reasoned over and over as my ringing phone got my attention and it was Vivian calling.
‘’Hey what’s up. Did you get them?’’ she asked quickly.
‘’No they escaped’’ I breathed. ‘’see I’m ready to keep my mouth shut over the quarrel you had with Clara. I also won’t tell anymore what you did that made her mad with you. So just find a way to talk your way out of this mess because I know you are in big trouble right now. The governor just called me’’ she muttered while I breathed deeply, really clueless on whether to thank her for what she just said or to hang the call rudely. Yes I knew she was trying to correct her wrong and I equally knew telling the whole truth to clara’s family would be a quick ticket to jail. Of course it’s suicidal walking up to the governor and telling him that I slept with his daughter and was kicked out of the house the night before she was kidnapped. I barely had hung up Vivian’s call when my phone rang again and this time the call was from the state governor. I panicked.
‘’Agent val where is my daughter?’’ he asked furiously. ‘’where is Clara?’’ he barked like a wounded lion.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the town, Clara is seen lying blindfolded on the floor of a Toyota sienna car heading out of Owerri via Okigwe road. With her in the car were four heavily built men.
‘’yes sir. The operation was a success. We have her’’ one of the men is heard making a phone call.

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

I couldn’t believe it. It was just like a nightmare. I couldn’t believe I was kidnapped right in front of my house. Yes I knew the country was bad but I never believed such a thing could ever happen to me in such manner. I cried bitterly as the events of the previous evening came flashing back.
I had returned from Obudu with Val, so happy to be in love once again, only to be confronted by the painful reality that Val was only using me for his own selfish gains. Of course I was mad. I couldn’t believe he could toy with my emotions. I had to kick him out of the house that very night with the intention of confronting my parents the next day only to be kidnapped right in front of the house as I drove out to meet my parents. Yes I was on my way to the governor’s lodge when the criminals blocked and took me. I regretted ever stepping out of the house that morning. I regretted ever acting so tough on Val. But unfortunately all my regrets were now medicine after death. I cried and kicked furiously as I wondered where I was being taken to. I very much knew I was kidnapped by professionals. They never called each other by name and only talked when necessary. I couldn’t help but imagine what they planned doing with me.
‘’madam please don’t hurt yourself. Our orders were to get you safely. We are not going to harm you. So relax’’ I heard one of the kidnappers say to me in a bid to calm me but I was far from being calm. I just felt like a helpless cow being taken to the slaughter house.

(Val’s side of the story continues;)

(Val is seen standingfing before the state governor and his entire family members as seen in the court when a culprit is docked)

‘’I was out in front of the compound waiting for Clara to come out in order to escort with the second car when suddenly a Toyota sienna blocked her and fired at me. I stood no chance under the heavy fire power and I followed every due protocol to save her but failed’’ I stammered as the governor listened with great impatience and anger.
‘’Don’t tell me you didn’t know where she was heading to? I also heard you didn’t sleep in the house after returning from Obudu yesterday evening with her. Can you explain that?’’ he asked angrily.
‘’you know your daughter sir. She’s a very difficult girl. I really don’t know what gave her the impression that I was spying on her. She kicked me out of the house but I still remained at the gate and kept watch’’ I nervously explained.
‘’I’m not buying your story. You better get back my daughter’’ he barked and walked away with his wife while agent mike, my director and the state police commissioner all left their gaze on me. I knew I had to come out a little clean with them. They were professionals and unlike the governor they could vividly read through a person’s mind.
‘’I think she found out about my job. I don’t know how she did it but she confronted me about it and kicked me out of the house. I believe she was heading down here to confront her parents before she was kidnapped at the gate or maybe someone lured her out of the house which I doubt’’ I explained further like a frightened child.
‘’agent Val, if not that the governor still wants you to find his daughter, I would have placed you on suspension. You never called it in when you were asked out of the house and that’s a big flaw. Your job was to be with the girl at all times.

Anyway, our field agents will be coming down from Abuja this evening to help the police with the investigation and you will work with them. The press is not yet aware of the kidnap and the governor wants it to be kept that way. He wants it out of public ears.’’ my director said to me while I nervously shrugged.
Agent mike drew close and tapped my shoulder.
‘’Clara’s phone was found on the floor of her car. We will start digging through it as soon as possible. Are you sure you have no other thing to tell us?’’ he asked while I swallowed hard, unable to say a damn thing.

I returned to my apartment hours later, so tired and hungry. I couldn’t believe all that happened over the past few hours were real. Of course I felt responsible for everything and I felt it was just a matter of time before the whole truth gets out.
I barely had settled down when a soft knock on my door got my attention. I nervously opened the door and was surprised to see Vivian smiling at me. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
‘’I’m so sorry Val’’ she apologized and threw herself on me.
‘’why are you here? How did you find my house?’’ I asked nervously.
‘’come on Val, I also have my ways. Aren’t you happy to see me? I know you clearly need a friend now’’ she breathed softly while I swallowed hard.
But before I could get to talk, my phone rang in my pocket, gaining out attention. I picked it up and checked the screen for the caller ID but the number was surprisingly hidden.
‘’who am I speaking with?’’ I carefully asked as soon as I accepted the call. The caller kept quiet for few seconds before speaking.
‘’Agent Val as you know we already have the governor’s daughter. We need you to get hundred million naira from the governor before the end of today. We will call you for further instructions. Mind you we are watching. Say hi to Vivian. I can see you guys are getting along well’’ a male voice said calmly and hung up, giving me no chance to talk. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was as if I just confronted a ghost.
‘’it’s the kidnappers. They called to demand for a hundred million naira’’ I softly informed Vivian who drew back with disbelief.
‘’why call you?. Why didn’t they call the governor and make their demands?’’ she asked suspiciously as she took steady steps away from me, with the intention of running out of my apartment.

Soon, the next person at my view was Jenifer I slowly remembered how she caught my fancy the first time I met her at the camp. Her beauty really captivated me in such a way that I had the courage to ask her out there and then.
Back then it looked like love at first sight but unfortunately she played with my feelings. She never said yes to me neither did she say no. All she kept saying was that I should give her time to make up her mind. For five months she kept saying the same thing and I needed no one to tell me that she really wasn’t into me.
Moreover even when I tried lying to myself that she really needed the time to make up her mind, I kept seeing her hanging out with different guys, something that surely was a big turn off to me no matter how harmless it looked because I was a very jealous and possessive person.
Yes I found it very hard to break out from her charms and when I finally did break out, it took a whole lot of energy to pull off. In fact it was months after I settled down in Owerri that I was able to forget her.
‘’Hmmmm I see you are suddenly speechless’’ she breathed, breaking into my mind.
‘’you know with the way you were acting back then, I thought by now that you would have been married. You played with my feelings’’ I muttered while for the first time she looked a bit disoriented. My phone rang that moment, interrupting us. It was agent mike calling.
‘’I guess you are with Jenifer?. The governor wants to see you guys now’’ he informed me and hung up.
‘’the governor wants to see us. Is there anything else we are doing here?’’ I asked her.
‘’no we are done here. I will take the weapons to my team to run prints on. Tomorrow we will be back here to check out the surrounding streets and question the people living around’’ she breathed while I shrugged.

Thirty minutes later we arrived at the governor’s lodge where my director, agent mike and a senior police officer were waiting for us in the sitting room. We barely had settled down when the governor walked in, looking very anxious and weak.
‘’So the idiots are demanding a hundred million naira? How on earth am I getting such a ridiculous amount today?’’ he breathed angrily. No one said a word.
‘’But sir is there anyone you are suspecting? Are you owing anyone? Are you having problems with anyone?’’ Jenifer suddenly asked, getting the governor’s attention for the first time.
‘’young girl a man in my position has a lot of enemies. Yes I’m suspecting everyone including you’’ he fired angrily at her.
‘’you should calm down sir’’ agent mike softly pleaded.
‘’I believe the kidnappers very well know that it won’t be possible getting such an amount of money today. I do feel they are using it as a distraction. I feel there is more to this’’ my director guardedly chipped in.
‘’that’s why you are in service. Do your goddamn work. I need my daughter back. But please I want her back in one piece. I’m even ready to pay the ransom to get her back. I can get the money on Monday. Once my daughter is safe you guys can do everything possible to get the people behind this’’ he nervously added while we all shrugged in agreement. Of course the most thing important thing was saving his daughter’s life first before any other thing.

As Jenifer and I headed out of the lodge after the meeting, she softly grabbed my right hand, gaining my attention.
‘’I feel the governor is hiding something and the director is right. There is more to this’’ she muttered.
‘’come on every politician has a dirty secret. Do you think he knows the person behind the kidnap of his daughter and is keeping it away from us?’’ I asked. She looked down.
‘’yes you are right, I don’t think he will keep such information from us’’ she breathed.
I said nothing else till we got out of the main building. I stopped and looked into her eyes.
‘’what is in your mind Jenifer?’’ I asked. She scoffed.
‘’I feel like having a private chat with the governor. I believe he could help more by saying everything he knows. Who knows he might even be in contact with the kidnappers without letting anyone know his real plans. I believe we are really missing out something’’ she replied.
‘’listen Jenifer you are here to get back the old man’s daughter and not investigate him. There are many ways we can get to the root of this case. Moreover he has already agreed on paying the ransom and with the money we can track them if every other plan fails’’ I advised. She shrugged and breathed deeply.
‘’very well then if you say so’’ she softly accepted.
‘’I guess I should take you to your hotel now. It’s already late?’’ I asked.
‘’no val, let’s go somewhere to eat and discuss. We have a lot to talk about our past don’t we?’’ she answered playfully making me smile. Unfortunately we were interrupted that moment by Charles who showed up from nowhere and pounced on me like a hungry lion, gaining everyone’s attention as he cursed and choked me, embarrassing me tremendously.
‘’you, where is my woman? What did you do to Clara? I tried warning her but she never cared to listen. After banging the poor girl you got her kidnapped huh?. You lowlife what did you do to her?’’ he barked as Jenifer tried desperately to push him off me. Other agents and policemen soon rushed down to the scene.
There wasn’t any doubt Charles was out to humiliate me and he was really doing a good job of it. Of course I was expecting his confrontation but I never prepared to face him in such a place in the presence of other agents and security personnel.
The last thing I wanted was anyone else knowing about my affair with Clara and the only option for me that moment was to deny his accusation in a very convincing manner as everyone waited for what I had to say about his accusation.
Charles Just wasn’t anyone to the governor. He was a trusted family friend and I needed no telling that the show he put up was really convincing enough to make even Jenifer doubt me.
Perhaps it was his own way of getting back at me or was he truly concerned about Clara’s safety?…….

‘’Mr. Charles you have been getting my relationship with Clara wrong all these while. I have no explanation to give to you right now. If you are having doubts, go and talk to the governor but for your information, I never slept with Clara and if you have prove that I staged her kidnap, better bring it forward, moreover how did you even get to know that she was kidnapped in the first place?’’ I muttered calmly, surprising everyone with my calm response. Perhaps they were all expecting me to react more seriously to his accusation but I never did.
‘’Vivian told me about the kidnap. I guess the best thing is talk to the governor’’ he barked fiercely and headed into the house while agent Jenifer stared at me curiously.
‘’did you actually sleep with the girl?’’ she asked.
‘’of course not, yes we were close but I never went that far with her. The dude never knew I was only a bodyguard to Clara. He saw us together and formed a silly conclusion in his head that I was having an affair with his woman. I couldn’t tell him the truth because I was ordered not to let anyone including Clara to know who I really was’’ I answered convincingly while she shrugged.
‘’let’s go eat then’’ she added breathlessly, holding me tightly.

Jenifer and I spent almost all night talking and recounting old memories. She really was fun to be with and I enjoyed every moment.

By 1am, I returned to my apartment to sleep and pray for Clara.
Early the next day which was Sunday, I got a call to report at the office immediately. I rushed my breakfast and headed over to the department to meet my director, agent mike, Jenifer and her team converged at the forensics unit.
It was just as if I kept everyone waiting.
‘’we just ran a check through miss Clara’s phone and according to the call records only three numbers called her line the morning she was kidnapped. Your call came in first but she never picked it. Mr. Charles number was the second to call her and she never picked it. The third number wasn’t saved on her phone and the caller called twice and spoke with her for five minutes on each call. Four minutes after speaking with the caller, she left the house and got kidnapped. We ran a check on the phone number and discovered it’s owned by Mr. Joe Kelvin, the governor’s special assistant on youth matters. Is there anything you know about him? Is he Clara’s friend?’’ my director summarized and asked while everyone listened patiently.
‘’I can’t say he’s Clara’s friend because I have never seen them together, moreover a day after Clara got back to the country he tried bribing me to help him get close to her. I declined his request and never heard from him afterwards. I also never saw him approach her for once’’ I answered truthfully.
‘’let’s go get him. He could be our man’’ the director ordered. I nodded in agreement as we all quickly filed out.

Ten minutes later Jenifer and I plus ten other agents arrived at Mr. Joe’s house in four hilux trucks. We barely had gotten to the gate, when we noticed the young man driving out with an elderly passenger in his car. Two agents blocked him while a third agent pulled out the frightened guy from the car. One look at him, I felt we had the wrong guy. The surprise and fear on his face was very convincing but he relaxed a bit on sighting me.
‘’agent Val what’s wrong? Please don’t manhandle my mother’’ he begged as he was dragged to one of the trucks while his old mother watched on in disbelief, so shocked to even mutter a word.

(An hour later at D.S.S Interrogation room)

(In this scene, a frightened Kelvin is seen seated and facing the state director of DSS who of course wasn’t happy to be working by that hour of the day instead of being at home with his family. Agent Val, Jenifer and two other junior agents are seen behind him, observing keenly)

‘’How did you get Miss Clara’s phone number and what were you telling her when you called yesterday morning?’’ the old man asked seriously, watching the young man’s reaction.
‘’come on you guys prevented me from going to church because I called the governor’s daughter on phone yesterday? I can’t believe this. I work for the governor for Christ sake. What the hell did the girl report to you? I only wanted to be friend with her but she was very rude to me. I couldn’t say much to her. I got her number from one of the staff working in the house’’ he replied quickly while the director drew back on his chair probably unconvinced with his statement but Just that moment, his phone rang, he picked up the call and gave us a signal that it was the kidnappers calling once again.
‘’hello you are speaking with the state director of DSS’’ he breathed as the person on the other end of the line said something that kept him calm for a bit before his color suddenly changed.
‘’what two hundred million naira!’’ we all heard him scream as he got up from his chair and headed out of the room. The other agents and I all dutifully followed him to his office where he briefed us on the latest development.
‘’they are now demanding two hundred million naira since we failed to get the money yesterday. The caller said it was a price to pay for Miss Clara not losing a finger yesterday as threatened. Something is not adding up here. I have a feeling these guys are not after money. I believe the girl was kidnapped to send a message across or something else. But money, no. It doesn’t look as if they are serious about the money. Check the pattern of their calls for instance’’ the director breathed with a worried look.
‘’after checking the crime scene again today, I need permission to question the governor. Maybe he knows something he isn’t telling us’’ Jenifer softly chipped in while I gave her an askance look. The director kept quiet for a while before nodding.
‘’definitely the guy we have with us isn’t our man. You have my permission to question the governor but I will go with you’’ he accepted, leaving a smile on Jenifer’s face.
‘’and you Val, this is your mess. What do you have to say?’’ he asked me.
‘’I need permission to go after Charles sir, you saw what happened yesterday at the governor’s residence?, Since we are looking into the theory that Clara may not have been kidnapped for money. Perhaps we are looking at a crime of passion here. A guy like Charles can easily have the girl killed instead of allowing her slip from his hands. He has the resources and means to pull this off. Just give me forty-eight hours to focus on him please’’ I begged.
‘’we don’t have time on our hands. You have twenty hours to check the guy out. By Monday evening, you should be here for debriefing’’ he accepted while I heaved a sigh of relief.
Now Charles was mine to tackle and my prayers were for me to be right. I desperately wanted to prove to the department that I was a good agent. I equally needed to save my Clara, my life, job, everything was on the line.

(Meanwhile at the other end of the state, Clara is seen lying drugged in a well furnished room which very much looked like a hotel room instead of a kidnappers den. The room looked very peaceful as if Clara, the only occupant in it was just sleeping in comfort…..)

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

I slowly opened my eyes to find myself in a very strange room. For some seconds I couldn’t remember what happened to me or why I was in a strange place. But slowly it all started coming back in my head. I remembered how I got kidnapped and how a wet handkerchief was placed over my nose when my cries and protest became too much in the car. I remembered nothing afterwards. It kind of looked like a dream. It kind of looked as If I woke up in after life. I really found it hard to believe that I was actually kept in such cozy room by the kidnappers. I also wasn’t tied up, a discovery that fired up my spirit and made me thinking about escape.
I quickly jumped out of the bed and rushed to the door. I tried opening it but unfortunately the door was locked. I tried the two windows at the corner but they were equally well locked. It was just as if the windows in the room were built to keep one hostage.
I weakly sat on the floor and sobbed. I couldn’t figure out what to do with myself or what next to do. I equally was very hungry but food was the last thing on my mind. I desperately wanted to go home.
About ten minutes later, the door softly opened, gaining my attention. I quickly sprang up on my feet, expecting to see a heavily built man but was surprised to see a young lady of about my age walk in with a calm nervous smile. She was carrying a food tray with her.
‘’good morning dear’’ she greeted politely, leaving me speechless for a while.
‘’thank God you are finally awake. I brought you breakfast. Fried egg, hot coffee and bread’’ she added as she set the large tray on a small table beside my bed.
‘’where am I, what time of the day is it, how did I get here?’’ I asked breathlessly. The young lady smiled reassuringly once again.
‘’calm down. I’m here to take care of you. You have been sleeping since yesterday afternoon you were brought over. I was scared because you were heavily drugged. The time is 9:35am. Just relax and have your breakfast. It will do you no good to reject this food and starve yourself. You need all the strength. You can also use the bathroom over there to freshen up. Everything you need is in there’’ she advised softly, pointing to the bathroom while I stared at her suspiciously. Of course I felt like strangling her there and then and break for my freedom but something about her really held me back. She was so nice and charming, something that relatively calmed down the tension in me.

‘’I need to go home. I don’t know how you are involved in this but please I beg of you, help me get out of here and you will never regret helping me. Please’’ I begged desperately while she smiled.
‘’you have nothing to fear here. Just eat your food. I promise today will be full of surprises for you’’ she muttered softly, took a deep breath and left the room, leaving me all alone.
I sat on the floor and thought of what she said and what exactly she meant by today being full of surprises for me. I knew escaping from such a place was certainly impossible without help and I had no choice than to eat the breakfast to gather a little strength.

Later in the evening I was about dozing off out of boredom when someone walked into the room again. I felt it was the girl who had been serving me all day who came in to pick up the plates she used to deliver my lunch and so paid no attention; instead I buried my face in the pillow and closed my eyes.
After few seconds I felt a familiar touch on my shoulder and a kiss at the back of my neck which sent cold shivers down my spine. I instantly turned to see Charles smiling at me. I was so shocked. I couldn’t believe myself. Deep down all the fears in me instantly vanished and was replaced by anger.
‘’what the hell Charles. What do you think you are doing?’’ I breathed with a very shaky voice as I drew away from him. He smiled faintly and tried to touch me again. I slapped away his hand.
‘’I never wanted things to go this way but you forced me into this desperation. I had to man up to set things right. We have to make up. You are my wife and nothing is going to stop us. We are going to be here all alone together until we settle things between us’’ he breathed hoarsely. I couldn’t believe my ears.
‘’you are sick. You are so despicable. You turned a whole city into a hot zone just to kidnap me. You are sick’’ I fired angrily as he drew forward and kissed me. It was the most terrible kiss I ever had.
I couldn’t believe desperation could lead him into taking such a dangerous step. There wasn’t any doubt he had the whole thing well planned out and I knew the only way to get out alive was by succumbing to his games unless of course a divine intervention comes along.

(Meanwhile outside the plush mansion, agent Val is seen inside his car parked a distance away under a mango tree taking pictures. Unknown to Charles he was followed right from the city center to the northern part of the state where he was keeping Clara. However Val was only following his instincts. He had no evidence to prove that Clara was in the building and so the only option for him was to covertly go inside the house to check out things for himself.
He could get lucky; He could get caught.

[To be continued]

TRUE TRAGIC LOVE: CLARA THE GOVERNOR’S DAUGHTER (PART ONE)

At 8am, I was busy at Mbano enjoying the roasted yam my mother served me when I got an unexpected call from my boss. I nervously answered the call without
wasting time, equally wondering why he was calling by that hour; ‘’Agent Val, where are you?’’ my boss asked in his usual gruff voice. ‘’I’m at home sir,’’ I stammered, standing up nervously as if the man was right there before me. ‘’report to my office immediately; It’s very urgent. You have five minutes,’’ he ordered. ‘’yes sir.’’ I breathed sharply even though deep down I was extremely unhappy. I planned spending the weekend with mum after staying away from home for so long and I just couldn’t imagine how disappointed she would be, seeing me leave just an hour after I got home. . . Anyway, that’s exactly the life of an agent. My life and everything belonged to the government
and I had no reason to protest because I clearly knew what I was getting into when I applied to join the department of state services.

I slowly made my way to the kitchen to tell my dear mother that I was leaving again. Luckily to me, I had no much explanations to give. A look at my face told her everything. She simply shrugged and bit her lips as I made my way towards her: ‘’I guess the call was from your office?, when am I seeing you again?’’ she asked. ‘’maybe today, maybe tomorrow. Once I’m free, I will be back here,’’ I answered with a forced smile as I hugged her.

(one hour later at DSS Quarters, Owerri)

As I drove into my work place, I couldn’t help but wondered why my boss needed me so urgently. I wasn’t really holding any sensitive material or position at the moment. The general election of the previous year and every post election security matters had already been dealt with. I really had hoped on having a wonderful weekend with mum only to be ordered back to the office. Yes I was really far from happiness but I hid my feelings as I appeared before my boss who was in his office with a senior colleague who was in
charge of the governor’s security. ‘’Agent Val; I gave you five minutes to report here but you took an hour?’’ my boss asked with a frown while I quickly apologized. ‘’I’m reassigning you. From now you are part of the state governor’s security. Any problem with that?’’ he asked. ‘’No sir’’ I answered, wondering the reason I was chosen for such a job since I clearly knew that we lost none of the agents working with the state governor. I instantly felt there was more to it. ‘’Agent mike will brief you more on your new assignment’’ my boss added, nodding at the
senior agent who smiled at me while I nervously stared back at him as he opened a file he was
holding. ‘’According to your file, you are currently 26years old. A law graduate, did remarkably well in law school, been out of the country twice, still single and from a royal family’’ agent Mike calmly summarized my life as I stood still. ‘’Have you ever been in real combat before?’’ he
asked. ‘’No sir?’’ I answered, wondering why he asked such a question, since he was with my file which clearly stated that I had been in the department for just a year and few months and only worked at the vetting department. ‘’Good, the governor needs a well educated and exposed agent of your age to watch over his rebellious daughter who will be arriving the state this evening. She is 24years old. A Harvard graduate and it’s her first time of coming home since her dad became the state governor, so listen carefully to what I have to tell you. Before accepting to come home, the girl made her father to promise not to cage her, nor suffocate her life with security and bodyguards. She wants to live a free life and mingle with people like she used to do in the past. But you know we can’t let that happen. Her father needs someone within her age range to be with her all the time as a friend without her really knowing that the person is an agent and that’s where you fit in.Do you get me?’’ he asked. ‘’Yes sir, I understand. I think I have seen a similar movie sometime back’’ I answered freely. ‘’Shut up! This is real life. Don’t mess this up or you will see yourself out of this department. The governor is very close to the president and he can ruin your life if you play with his daughter’s safety,’’ he threatened seriously while I instantly hid my smile as my heart frozened. ‘’I need not to tell you that the governor has a lot of enemies and you are being assigned a very tasking job,’’ he added while I looked down with slight tension as the burden of my new assignment played before me. . . It would really be my first major tasking assignment outside office work and I couldn’t imagine protecting a very rebellious governor’s daughter all on my own without any backup. Yes I was a good shooter but I really was yet to face any combat and with the way I saw my new assignment, I felt a day would come when my shooting skills would be needed. I hated being with rich kids, talk more of protecting a rebellious one who could spend all her time putting herself in harm’s way. ‘’Lord help me’’ I breathed.

(An hour later)

Agent mike and I arrived at the governor’s lodge. I was super excited and nervous at the same time. I knew my new assignment had lots of benefits and risks as well. I really didn’t know what the future had for me but yes I was so ready for my new assignment.
‘’please don’t screw this up. It’s my job and yours that are on the line here. This assignment is a very difficult one I know but make sure you are focused and make use of the training you got. Be focused and never lose guard.’’ Agent mike advised as we got out of his car while I nodded quickly like a new student.
I was led straight to the governor’s sitting room where the governor’s wife was anxiously waiting for us. The smile on her face clearly showed how happy she was to see me. We barely had settled down before the governor joined us.
We all stood up to greet the governor who surprisingly offered his hand for a handshake.
‘’Here is agent Val sir. He is the best agent for the job,’’ agent Mike addressed the governor who left his eyes on me for few seconds.
‘’You look very familiar young man. Have we met before?’’ he asked curiously. I nervously nodded.
‘’Yes sir, before the governorship election, I was among the agents that cleared you when you showed up at our office’’ I answered.
‘’Ah! No wonder, I guess you have been briefed on the nature of your new assignment? My daughter Clara isn’t an easy person to deal with. You need to be enduring and very smart to deal with her. She may not want you by her side but always find a way to be at her side. I can’t allow her to move around on her own like she does in U.S. Please protect her for me,’’ he pleaded. He smiled and left us without another word while his wife who had been silent all along cleared her throat.
‘’You will have everything you need provided but just make sure you keep my daughter safe. You will pick her up at the airport by 4pm,’’ she said softly as young beautiful girl walked in on us, smiling pleasantly.
‘’Yes meet Vivian. She’s the daughter of my husband’s brother and she’s equally very close to my daughter, Clara. She will assist you in getting close to my daughter. She knows everything about your assignment. She will also go with you to the airport this evening. Consider her your partner’’ she calmly introduced the young lady who quietly sat beside her.

Minutes later, I returned to my apartment in town to pick up few things and equally prepare myself for the new assignment. I really didn’t have enough time to mentally prepare for the job but deep down I felt it was going to be dangerously fun and a great experience. Vivian looked like a nice and understanding lady and I couldn’t help but wish that the governor’s daughter could be at least half understanding as her.
I nervously prepared, got my stuffs ready and headed back to the governor’s lodge where Vivian was dutifully waiting for me. The smile on her face as our eyes met was enough to put silly ideas into my head but I quickly shut it out of my mind because I knew perfectly well the risks involved in having silly ideas.

By 3:30pm, we headed to the airport. I did the driving while Vivian sat beside me asking lots of curious questions which I answered calmly. There wasn’t any doubt she was a very friendly person and the way she related to me made me very much relaxed.
‘’So is there anything else I need to know about Clara?’’ I kind of asked as we approached the airport.
‘’Hmmmm! Well, she’s a very difficult person to be with but believe me she can equally be very friendly and jovial whenever she feels like. She takes time in choosing her friends and I pray she accepts you, if not her dad won’t have any other choice than to look for your replacement. She also has tons of admirers which doubled since her dad became the state governor. You know she’s a very good catch,’’ she answered freely while I smiled.
‘’So how long have you been an agent?’’ she asked.
‘’just a year and few months,’’ I answered.
‘’I never knew the department has young fine guys like you’’ she complemented while I blushed.

After waiting for almost an hour, at the airport, the plane we were expecting finally landed, bringing our nervous wait to an end. I couldn’t help but make the sign of the cross as we waited for Clara to show up.
‘’Are you nervous?’’ Vivian asked with a smile.
‘’Not really,‘’ I lied. She offered her hand which I took.
‘’just relax’’ she breathed with concern before pointing at the girl we came to pick up.
‘’here she is,’’ she added excitedly.

We soon met up with Clara who hugged Vivian happily before nodding at me as she probably wondered who I was.
‘’I hope he isn’t security?’’ she asked Vivian with a smile.
‘’no, he’s a family friend. Does he look like a security guy?’’ Vivian answered while Clara laughed.
‘’he doesn’t look like security but I haven’t seen him before. Have we met before?’’ she asked me.
‘’Oh! my name is Val, a family friend. The last time we met was years ago when we were still very little. I think we were still in primary school back then’’ I lied like Vivian earlier advised and of course Clara bought it.
‘’Oh val? Hmmmm! Nice name. I Hope you will be as sweet as your name?’’ she joked, making me a bit relaxed with her playful nature as we exchanged glances while Vivian rolled her eyes as she listened.
‘’I hope you are not hitting on him because he is mine?’’ Vivian finally added, while Clara laughed.
‘’of course not my dear, I’m not’’ she playfully answered as I helped her carry her big travel bag.
Deep down I couldn’t help but wonder if Vivian meant her words or was just playing around. Yes as a young guy, silly ideas always tend to get into my head.
Only time will tell.

Clara and Vivian chatted endlessly as we headed back to the governor’s lodge from the airport. I simply focused on my driving while listening to all they discussed. I really was enjoying my job and Clara wasn’t really as troublesome as they painted her to be.
In no time we got to our destination without any issue. Of course I was happy. I passed the first stage of my job very easily.
‘’Hey Clara, please I will like to be with you when ever you are leaving the house to keep your company. All you have to do is just to notify me on time. So let’s exchange phone numbers please’’ I begged as we got out of the car. She silently stared at me for a while before throwing a quick look at Vivian who shrugged. There wasn’t any doubt she was trying to make out the reason for my gesture.
‘’come on, you have done pretty much enough by picking me up at the airport. I’m very much fine by myself. I really don’t need anyone to watch over me. I can give you my phone number but I clearly don’t need your protection or company, whatever you call it. Okay?’’ she answered with a smile while I scoffed.
‘’Come on, I wasn’t talking about protection. I have nothing much doing and I’m always bored. So the best thing you can do for me is to take me with you whenever you are leaving the house so that I can at least have a breath of fresh air,’’ I pushed on. She rolled her eyes and smiled once more.
‘’so you mean you have no job or something?’’ she asked.
‘’Yes. Things are very hard in this country. It’s been two years I left school, yet no good job is forthcoming and that’s really why I’m here. Perhaps your dad could help me out if he sees how close we are’’ I answered faintly. For the first time, Clara looked at me with pity in her eyes. She drew close and held my hand.
‘’it’s very hard to see an honest guy these days. Fine, I will always take you with me wherever I go. Relax, I will force my old man to get something for you’’ she promised, exchanged numbers with me and headed to the mansion with Vivian. I swallowed hard as I watched the two ladies disappear. I really felt very bad lying to her but then I did it to protect her. I was only doing my job.

The rest of the evening was very uneventful as Clara spent the evening with her family while I rested in my room, wondering how the next day would be like. However at exactly 9:05pm, Vivian showed up at my room, surprising me with her presence.
I quickly sat up, thinking that I was in for another assignment but she smiled and sat at the edge of the bed.
‘’Hmmm! relax, I only came to check on you,’’ she breathed, flashing her charming smile on me.

(Vivian’s side of the story continues:)

I really wasn’t fond of guys because of the nasty experience I had with them right from high school to college. Returning to Nigeria in 2007, I still kept my resentment and distance from them. Yes my decision to stay away from guys caused me less stress, less worries and less thinking. I loved my independence and surely was enjoying every bit of it. Moreover the power and attention I got from being the governor’s niece was equally enough to bring up my pride and ego. I enjoyed being the center of attraction and gossip.
Of course I had numerous admirers. I had lots of rich suitor’s coming for me but none of them won my heart because all I saw in their eyes was desperation, greed and business. I needed someone who would love everything about me and not what he stood to benefit from me. I needed nothing but pure and simple love. In fact, I needed a simple guy who had ambitions devoid of greed and deception.

From the moment I saw agent Val that fateful Saturday, I instantly was drawn to him without really knowing the reason . . . Maybe because he somehow looked like my immediate elder brother or maybe because of the innocent look he had which I had never seen in any agent. I liked him: I wanted to be his friend and I just couldn’t help myself but the only problem I had was that he looked too serious like someone scared of playing with his job. I had to find a way to make him loosen up with me without making it obvious that I was falling for him.
I had to make my way to his room when I couldn’t control my feelings any longer. But don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t in his room to seduce him but just to keep him company for a while.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

‘’I hope you are not in need of anything?’’ Vivian asked as we exchanged glances.
‘’oh not at all. Thanks for your care,’’ I breathed politely while she shrugged, leaving her eyes on me. We silently stared at each other for a while without saying anything. I couldn’t think out any topic to discuss with her and she on her own part looked as if she was hoping for me to start a conversation.
‘’Tomorrow we will be moving down to the governor’s family house downtown. Clara will be receiving her friends and guests there. You know it’s against protocol for her friends to be coming here as they wish. So that’s why she decided it was better moving down to the other house to have the space and freedom she needs,’’ Vivian finally informed me after noticing that I wasn’t ready to start up any conversation with her.
‘’very well. I’m ready for anything,’’ I replied with a smile.
‘’good night then. We will be leaving by 12 noon,’’ she added, stood up, smiled at me and left the room while I fell back on my bed and breathed deeply.

On Sunday morning, I was busy checking out the car we were to make use of that day when a female “civil defense” officer walked up to me.
‘’someone wants to see you. He is waiting at the gate’’ she informed. I couldn’t help but stare at her curiously. It was with great effort that I refrained myself from telling her that she was mistaken because I clearly wasn’t expecting anyone.

Curiously, I walked up to the gate to see one of the governor’s aides waiting for me. I was surprised and confused at the same time.
‘’hey! my name is Joe, I’m not really sure if you know me? I’m sorry for disturbing you this early but it’s a matter of urgency,’’ the young man breathed as he led me to a quiet corner while I wondered the reason for all that. Of course I knew him well even though we had never spoken to each other prior to that moment.

He was no other person than the governor’s special assistant on youth matters. A young man of about thirty three years, very friendly and eloquent.

‘’I really need your help brother and I know this may come to you as a surprise but I can’t help it. You see I’m in love with Clara’’ he nervously breathed, shocking me with his words. I couldn’t even figure out how to react or what to say to him.

‘’I heard you guys are very close and that you will be with her at all times. Please I know this sounds weird but I will like you to be my eyes and ears. I simply want you to represent my interest. I really love this girl and you know what I mean’’ he added nervously.

‘’I understand you bro but what you are asking of me is a bit difficult and confusing. Clara is an adult and I don’t have much influence over her. Vivian, her cousin should be the person to meet,’’ I finally said to him.

‘’No you are a man just like me. Just keep it in mind, in due time you will see your role in this,’’ he muttered with a smile while I shrugged.

‘’here take this small change. It’s just ten thousand naira. keep it,’’ he said, fetching out a wad of currency notes from his pocket. I laughed deep inside. His gesture looked a bit desperate and stupid. Moreover I was an agent who was perhaps earning much more than him. But he didn’t know about that though.

‘’you shouldn’t bother about that. I will help you as long as your request isn’t a dangerous one. Just keep your money bro,’’ I breathed politely, smiled and walked away.
I couldn’t help but wonder how many men were desperate to have the governor’s daughter. She was a hot catch quite alright.

Later in the evening in the governor’s family residence at 9:30pm Vivian and I sat on a small field at the back of the big mansion enjoying a very rich alcoholic wine together. It really wasn’t my idea to sit down there at the back of the house drinking and catching fun.
It was all Vivian’s idea and I kind of obliged her since it was already dark and I had no other work to do that evening.

But the more she drank, the more I noticed the drink taking over her senses. She talked very freely while I behaved like a gentleman.

‘’so tell me, do you have a girlfriend?’’ she finally asked while I drew back a bit.
Yea that was a very sensitive question that always pinched me whenever someone asked me about it. I was well employed and good looking but unfortunately I wasn’t successful with women. I had to run away from the few female friends I had when I noticed that they were all interested in ripping me off than giving me the love I needed. I had to resign myself to the fate of being a bachelor with no girlfriend.

Perhaps because of the drink, perhaps because I felt free with her, I opened up. I told her I had no girlfriend not because I didn’t want one but because I was yet to find the person who would give me the love I needed without weighing me down problems and issues.
Vivian silently listened to all I said and when I was done, she said nothing which kind of made me feel that she was asleep or something. I had to lean forward to check out her face only to be held tightly by her as she gave me an unexpected kiss that shocked and left me trembling.

‘’Val,’’ she breathed.
‘’Noooo’’ I cautiously stammered, softly pushing her away. I was scared of hurting her but I just couldn’t help it.
‘’’what?’’ Vivian asked as I gently pushed her face away from mine. Somehow I felt a bit confused and embarrassed at the same time. It really was the first time a girl was making the first move on me, but then she was drunk. She was far from being in control of her mind.
‘’you are drunk. I think it’s time to go to bed,’’ I breathed and helped her up.
‘’come on Val, stop treating me like a baby. I’m not drunk’’ she insisted but I refused listening to her, instead I softly dragged her to her room.
There wasn’t any doubt the drink she had was telling on her and so the right thing to do was what I did by taking her to her room to rest. But on my way out of her room, I ran into Clara who was heading to her own room from the sitting room. She gave me one kind of suspicious look and smile that left me very nervous and defensive.
‘’Hmmmmm! I can see you guys are hitting it off pretty well?’’ she asked.
‘’Nooooo we were just drinking outside and she had too much drink. I had to help her to her room. That’s it,’’ I answered innocently while she shrugged.
‘’we have a lot to talk during breakfast tomorrow. I guess you won’t shy away from eating with me?’’ she asked with a smile and walked past me before I could say anything.

I was restless all night long as I wondered what could be going on in Clara’s mind. I equally couldn’t help but wonder what Vivian’s game plan was all about. I was scared of losing my job for nothing and I knew I had to be extremely cautious when dealing with the two ladies because no matter how mature they looked, they still had a very fragile mind.

(8am, the next day)

As I headed to the dining room for breakfast, I ran into Vivian who smiled as soon as her eyes fell on me.
‘’I know I embarrassed myself yesterday. I’m so sorry,’’ she apologized.
‘’oh it’s nothing,’’ I answered politely, feeling relaxed.
‘’so we are cool with each other then?’’ she asked while I nodded. Together we headed to the dining room where Clara was waiting. To be candid, I was very nervous and a bit uncomfortable having dinner with the two ladies but I had my cover to protect and had to act cool.
‘’you know I still find it difficult remembering you or your family?’’ Clara kind of asked as we faced the meal before us. Vivian quickly came to my rescue.
‘’don’t tell me you are really yet to figure out Val’s identity?. How come you allowed him to come here with us then?’’ she asked Clara who rolled her eyes.
‘’I’m sorry; it’s just that I need help in getting it together. He looks like the son of our family friend way back in Lagos but it’s a long time ago now. I guess 1993 period or so. I just want to be very sure’’ she insisted.
‘’but we have already discussed this issue in your room. Come on, where are your manners?. Don’t you know you are embarrassing him?’’ Vivian pushed on.
‘’I’m so sorry Val. It’s just that I already forgot most of my childhood memories but concerning the job thing, I promise to talk to my dad about it. He will definitely get something for you before the week runs out. I promise you that,’’ she assured me while I silently smiled. Of course there was nothing there to say. Vivian on her own part gave me a knowing look filled with unspoken words which I clearly understood. We were surely using Clara’s head without her knowing it. But it was all for her own good. My only problem and fear was Vivian who could eventually turn back to use all the secrets and lies against me.
‘’aw! I have to go get more sauce,’’ Vivian suddenly breathed, standing up with a small plate.
‘’I will be back in a jiffy,’’ she added and headed to the kitchen while Clara and I exchanged glances.
‘’she’s so much in love with you. Tell me the truth, you guys are dating right?’’ she asked curiously.
‘’no we are not’’ I truthfully answered, but instead of facing her food, she left her eyes on me waiting for me to explain further. And I had to come up with a pretty good defense.
‘’you see, in my condition I can’t afford to be in any relationship. I have nothing to offer anyone and I can’t just take advantage of a beautiful and nice girl like Vivian because of my selfishness or maybe what I stood to gain from her. Secondly I have no special feelings for her. I value her friendship and care but that’s it. I can’t deceive her and pretend to love her only for us to end up hating each other tomorrow. She’s way better off without me. She deserves the best guy. My priority now is to make out something for myself,’’ I softly explained while she dropped her eyes as if my words found a place in her heart. It was just as if she was so touched.

Vivian showed up from the kitchen that very moment and stared at us with suspicion. It was just as if she perceived something, she noticed something that made her uncomfortable.
Yes I really had no strong feelings for Vivian but supposing we met in a different circumstance or position, perhaps I would have gladly tried her out but in this situation I couldn’t risk it. What I felt for her wasn’t just enough to risk my job and career for.

(Tuesday 11am in a week later)

I was busy checking out some news sites with my computer when I heard loud shouts coming out from the sitting room. I quickly grabbed my jacket, tucked in my small pistol and rushed to the sitting room. With great speed I ran into the sitting room as if I was being pursed only to see Clara facing a huge guy who was holding her by the shoulder.
I kind of felt embarrassed, freezing with shock as they stared at me with surprise.
‘’Oh I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I heard noises and I thought you were in danger’’ I nervously explained while the huge guy scoffed. It was very obvious he was very angry but what I didn’t know was if it was my interruption that made him angry or something else.
‘’like seriously you barged in on us just because you heard noises? Who the hell are you? He fired at me.
‘’calm down Charles what is wrong with you?’’ Clara shouted at him.
‘’oh I see you are now defending what he did?’’ he asked Clara who shook her head in anger.
‘’you know what, you can leave now. I’m tired of talking to you, we will see on Thursday’’ she said to him angrily while he stared at her with disbelief. I simply watched the drama with a little smile on my face. I couldn’t help but wonder who the huge guy was. Of course he looked very wealthy and saucy. And with the way he was acting I figured he was very close to Clara.
‘’I said you can leave now’’ she shouted at him again before leaving the sitting room for him. The young man scornfully stared at me for some seconds, breathed deeply and walked away without another word. I calmly returned to my room to continue with what I was doing before the noise got my attention and had barely settled down when Clara walked in .
She hesitantly stood at the door post, smiling faintly as she probably tried to act cool.
‘’I’m sorry for the embarrassment. The guy is just a nut-head but unfortunately he is a very close friend and we have known each other for long. His name is Charles’’ she softly explained while I smiled as I tried hard to come up with something good to say.
‘’his birthday is on Thursday and I will be heading to Abuja for it. I will leave tomorrow. Do you wish to accompany me?’’ she offered.
‘’yes of course, I will gladly do that’’ I answered quickly.
‘’you will do the driving. I love road trips’’ she added, smiled and left the room while my heart sank as I thought of the long distance and stress. Moreover it was going to be my first time of driving all the way to the federal capital city.

Hours later, Vivian walked into my room with her usual charming smile. Yes after that evening she kissed me at the backyard, she became a little more careful with me. She tried to be as friendly as possible while being cautious.
She sat on the bed, crossed her legs and stared at me.
‘’I can’t believe Clara is taking you to Abuja while dropping me. I can’t believe she accepted you into her life so easily. There is more to it you know. A lady can’t accept a guy so easily without having intentions, without having a little romantic feelings for him’’ she muttered, carefully watching my reaction.
‘’so what are you trying to say?’’ I asked.
‘’I think she’s very fond of you’’ she added carefully.
‘’yes and it’s making my job very easy. So far the girl has been nothing but good to me. The only problem I have now is preparing and getting myself ready for the long drive to Abuja. I have never done that before and I’m a bit nervous’’ I confessed with a frown while she laughed out loud.
‘’but on a serious note, Who the hell is Charles?, do you know him?’’ I asked.
‘’yes he is the first son of Senator Adolphus, the man who was very instrumental in helping Clara’s father win the governorship election. Charles and Clara have been friends for long and I believe the young man considers himself her boyfriend. I don’t like him though. He is too rude and arrogant’’ she replied quietly.
‘’Hmmmm! That’s deep,’’ I breathed.
‘’yes and that’s the truth’’ she muttered.
‘’I believe we will be back by Saturday’’ I added, changing the topic while she drew closer to me.
‘’do you like Clara, are you interested in her? Tell me please I’m dying to know?’’ she begged desperately, surprising me with her question. I swallowed hard as I returned her gaze.
‘’Vivian, I’m only here to do my job and romance isn’t part of it. This assignment will soon be over before you know it and no one in this house will remember me again. I have no special romantic feelings for anyone’’ I guardedly answered. She dropped her eyes, saying nothing more.
The last thing I wanted was hurting Vivian with my words but she always had a way of asking the most difficult questions.

Early the next day, Clara and I left the house for Abuja. We covered the first few kilometers in silence until I asked her the question that had been bugging me since the previous day.
‘’are you in love with Charles? I’m sorry for being inquisitive’’ I nervously asked. She smiled and gave me a quick look.
‘’actually we have been friends for so long and it kind of looks as if we are dating even though I’m yet to say yes to him. I like him but he is so unpredictable. He switches mood faster than a chameleon changes color. This minute he will be happy and jovial, the next minute, he becomes so annoying and rude. It’s just as if he takes drugs. I can’t be with such a man’’ she confessed while I drove on silently as I pondered over her words.
I wasn’t really supposed to ask her the question but I never knew how I got the courage to ask. Perhaps I cared for her much more than I thought. Maybe what I was feeling for her deep inside was love.
Yes maybe or maybe not.

We got to Abuja later that evening and in no time made our way to Clara’s family’s residence. A magnificent mansion located in a plush Maitama neighborhood. I just couldn’t say a word for some seconds as I stared at the edifice that stood before me. Clara smiled and placed her hand on my shoulder.
‘’you like the house?’’ she asked softly.
‘’aw! so beautiful,’’ I breathed.
‘’yes dad invested in real estate long before becoming governor. We have a house keeper and two security guys here’’ she added.
‘’I pray to have such an investment someday’’ I added softly.
‘’of course you will, once you are focused. You are still very young now’’ she replied as we walked into the building.

(9pm, same evening)

Clara took me to a quiet restaurant within the neighborhood where we had dinner. I equally used the opportunity to question her about the plans she had for Charles’s birthday.
‘’so concerning your friend’s birthday, is there anything I need to know?’’ I asked softly as soon as we settled down in the restaurant.
‘’nothing really, you have done your part by accompanying me to this city. All you have to do tomorrow is rest while I attend the party. I really don’t know when the party is ending. He told me it’s an all night event, so I guess I will be sleeping over’’ she replied quickly.
‘’the party is holding at his house?’’ I asked.
‘’no in a hotel’’ she answered freely while I thought of how to attend the party with her without raising any suspicion.
‘’but is there anything wrong if I go with you?’’ I chipped in softly. She brought up her eyes to meet my gaze, keeping quiet for a while as she probably pondered over my words.
‘’I really don’t want to be selfish. You have tried a lot by sacrificing your time for me. You can’t continue like this. It’s just as if I’m using you. You are free to come with me if you wish to but I’m not forcing you to accompany me,’’ she finally replied, settling my mind with the answer. Of course my job was to be with her always and I clearly didn’t know what to do if she insisted on attending the party alone. Out of relief I reached out for her right hand which was on the table, drawing out the deepest stare from her.
‘’I always enjoy being with you’’ I breathed while she blushed.
‘’It hurts me that you are still unemployed. You have a kind heart and wonderful spirit. Someone like you deserves a better life,’’ she slowly said, making me very uncomfortable with her words. I had to quickly change the topic.
‘’so why didn’t you take Vivian along?’’ I asked.
‘’she isn’t my servant. She has her own life and I can’t be dragging her to everywhere I go,’’ she answered freely. I smiled, saying nothing.
The rest of the evening was a bit uneventfully. We soon returned to the house and headed to our separate bedrooms.

By 6:55pm the next evening, Clara and I were all dressed up and ready for the evening outing. By 7:45pm we arrived at a hotel in Wuse 2, which was the location of the event (Charles birthday party). Of course I was a bit nervous attending a function I wasn’t invited and at first insisted on staying behind in the car which left Clara extremely surprised. It really took her an effort to convince me to go into the hotel with her and I kind of prayed not to run into Charles, which was really impossible because he was the celebrant and I had this feeling that the evening could end up very badly for me.
We barley had got into the exquisitely decorated hall when two girls hugged Clara.
‘’Finally you are here. Nawa for you oooo, you just left Charles worried,’’ one of the girls said to Clara as they dragged her towards another corner of the hall while I stayed back and kept my eyes on her. But unfortunately for me, I barely had stood there for five minutes when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
‘’what are you doing here?, you think I won’t recognize you or what?’’ I heard a familiar voice ask. I turned to face Charles who looked very angry to see me.
‘’let’s go outside and talk. I need to know what’s going on between you and my girl’’ he added and nodded towards the door way. I shrugged and obeyed after noticing two hefty guys who were standing with him. The last thing I wanted was causing a scene in front of everyone and I equally couldn’t help but wonder the kind of guy Charles really was. He looked very ready to ruin his own birthday party.
Luckily he followed me outside without his two friends, making me a bit relaxed. He dragged me to a slightly dark part of the hotel, where he felt we won’t be interrupted. I also couldn’t help but notice that he was nervous.
‘’I know how this happens; it all starts innocently from friendship. Gradually, you take over my girl, you are already her companion and close pal right?. Slowly I become the enemy and the rude insensitive boyfriend. Then boooooom I lose out like a stupid fool. I’m not stupid, what I can’t just figure out is how you managed to get into her life, live in her family house and be everywhere with her. You guys are virtually everywhere together. Who are you, because you are not a member of her family or in any way related to her? I know everything about Clara’s family but I don’t know you. Who are you?’’ he asked with a slightly raised tone while I stared at him, clueless on what exactly to say.
‘’I have heard stories about how close you guys are since she returned to Nigeria but I don’t want to fight you. I know what guys like you need is money. Where were you when she was just an ordinary girl? where were you when she was struggling with her studies?. Where were you when her father was struggling to become the state governor?. What you need is money, so tell me, how much do you need to back away?’’ he asked seriously, drawing close to me as if he had another thing in mind if I tried giving a negative reply. I kind of felt he was drunk to be questioning me in such manner.
‘’I’m not after Clara’s money neither will you influence me with your money. And please don’t insult me again’’ I said defiantly, shocking the young man with my words. He instantly grabbed me by the collar out of anger but before he could go any further, I heard Clara scream out his name as she appeared with the two ladies she went out with a while ago.
I really didn’t know how much they overheard as Clara angrily slapped him while the two girls tried to hold her back.
”imagine how you are questioning a guy you barely know” Clara shouted at him.

‘’I can’t believe you slapped me because of him?, you slapped me Clara?’’ Charles screamed with disbelief as he took a step backwards.
‘’yes that’s for being disrespectful and insensitive. You had no reason to question Val over anything’’ she shouted at him.
‘’you don’t respect me Clara. You never cared for my feelings. You are always right in everything. You don’t make mistakes. You even came to my own birthday party with your new boyfriend without any atom of respect for me. You are so despicable,’’ he screamed back at her while Clara tried hitting him again but was timely held back by the two ladies with her and of course they were having a hard time holding her back.
‘’I don’t owe you explanation for anything. You are not my boyfriend. Just go to hell’’ she screamed furiously.
‘’you see that. I can’t believe you have the mind to say what you just said. What haven’t I done for you?, Is there any sacrifice I haven’t made for you?. You are very heartless, and you even called me insensitive,’’ Charles fired back with a softer tone. It was just as if he was about to cry.
‘’go to hell Charles. Let’s get out of here Val’’ Clara breathed furiously, broke away from the girls holding her, and headed towards the hotel car park. Yes I won’t lie that I wasn’t surprised over the way Clara reacted. She really took things too far but I wasn’t in any position to interfere. All I did was just to run after her as she headed towards the car park.
‘’come on Clara, aren’t you over reacting?, don’t spoil your mood because of me. I’m very fine. I’m used to taking insults from people’’ I nervously begged as I caught up with her but unfortunately her mind was already made up. It was just as if she got the perfect excuse to leave the party. Yes that could only be the perfect explanation for her action.
‘’just take me home Val, or I will have to trek home on my own,’’ she threatened seriously.
‘’Oh! fine, let’s go,’’ I breathed and quickly headed to the driver’s seat.

As we silently headed home, I couldn’t help but play back the events of the evening over and over in my head. Clara surely over reacted and I couldn’t help but wonder what was going through her head.
She said nothing to me till we got back to the house.
‘’Val you really think I over reacted?’’ she asked as soon as I killed the car engine. I silently stared at her for some seconds, saying nothing.
‘’come on Val answer me?’’ she pushed on.
‘’yes but I believe you were only trying to protect me and I’m very grateful’’ I answered guardedly. She kept quiet for few seconds.
‘’I don’t know if I will be able to sleep tonight. I feel bad. I shouldn’t have slapped him. I stepped out of the line. I feel bad,’’ she confessed while I stared at her, uncertain of what to say.
‘’let’s have few drinks in my room. I think that will calm me’’ she proposed softy, took a deep breath and stepped out of the car. I had no choice than to follow her to the room.
On getting to her bedroom, she asked me to feel comfortable on her bed as she brought over a bottle of alcoholic drink. She sat beside me on the bed, smiling as she tried hard to appear composed. We silently drank for few minutes.
‘’I have never exchanged hurtful words with Charles before. I don’t know what gave me the courage and I ended up over doing it. I know I ruined his birthday but he deserved what he got. Imagine he’s already seeing himself as my boyfriend’’ she softly explained.
‘’Maybe tomorrow you guys should try talk things over’’ I advised.
‘’No, I don’t want to see him again and early tomorrow I will inform the security guy at the gate not to allow him into the house. I know he will be here early tomorrow,’’ she added as she handed over the bottle of alcoholic drink to me, giving the expression that she was done drinking. I took the drink from her and nervously smiled as our eyes met. She drew closer to me, making my heart pound faster as I wondered what she was up to. Softly she lowered her head on my shoulder, closed her eyes and breathed deeply.
I sat motionless as I admired her hair and neck. I had this great urge to caress her but something held me back. After few minutes of silence between us, I noticed she was fast asleep. I heaved a sigh of relief, closed my eyes for some seconds to compose myself before gently lowering her on the bed.
‘’good night dear,’’ I whispered as I covered her with a blanket, admired her one more time, switched off the lights and headed back to my room.

I couldn’t sleep that fateful night. I really was badly falling for Clara something I knew wasn’t supposed to be but I couldn’t help it. All night long, I played back the events of the evening over and over in my head.

At 8am, I woke up with a jolt as loud knocks coming from the gate disturbed the quiet morning.
‘’Clara open the gate please. We need to talk. I beg of you. I’m very sorry for what happened last night. I know you can hear me. Come out, let’s talk,’’ I heard Charles beg from the gate. I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of pity for him. Clara’s actions the previous evening was enough for him to know that she wasn’t in love with him and as a fellow guy, I knew how it hurts.
Have you ever been rejected and abused before? Sorry for the delay.

(Clara’s side of the story:)

There was no denying I liked val. I felt at peace whenever I was with him and he kind of had this innocent smile that always melted my heart anytime we were together. Charles was just the exact opposite of him and I couldn’t help but wish Val was in his position. Perhaps because of his wealthy background Charles had this proud nature I resented. He believed he was better than everyone and I merely tolerated him because of his family. But then seeing him confront Val at his own birthday party really made me snap, I lost all control as I attacked him like a wounded lion.

Yes of course I was equally surprised with myself. I never knew where the courage or spirit came from. Of course in the end I regretted reacting so harshly but then there was nothing I could do to reverse it, moreover it was a good opportunity I used in putting Charles in his place.

Early Friday morning, I was preparing hot tea in the kitchen when I heard Charles’s voice calling me out from the gate. At first I felt like ignoring him but later changed my mind and headed to the gate to meet him. I was a bit nervous as I headed to the gate because I really didn’t know how to face him after what happened the previous evening. Charles on his own part smiled as soon as his eyes fell on me while I kept a straight face.
‘’come on my queen, I never believed you would act the way you did yesterday but I’m sorry for everything. I agree, I’m a jerk and I promise I won’t misbehave again. Please,’’ he apologized quickly, surprising me with his action. Yes he was a guy that hardly apologized over anything and I really was taken aback with his apology. ‘’I’m also sorry for how I acted yesterday. I overdid it. I’m sorry’’ I softly apologized. His eyes lit up with hope, he quickly hugged me. ‘’but we have to set one thing straight,’’ I added, breaking free from him. ‘’what’s it?’’ he asked curiously.‘’I don’t know what gave you the impression that we are dating. We are very close friends and that’s it. Please you are not my boyfriend,’’ I softly said, taking a step backwards as I noticed his mood quickly change. ‘’what do you mean by that? we have gone out many times, we have shared secrets and been together for years now. Oh! or is it because I respected you and never forced myself into getting intimate with you? Damn! I’m now the fool right?’’ he barked, frightening me with the look on his face.
‘’you have to learn how to control your temper or maybe you should take anger management classes. You easily flare up and that’s a big turn off to me. I’m heading back to my state tomorrow. Please don’t disturb me again,’’ I managed to say before heading back into the compound and shutting the gate on him. He banged on the gate for few minutes while I ran to my room to calm down.
Just like I said earlier, supposing he was a little bit calm and quiet like Val, perhaps we could
have been planning our future together. I wouldn’t have hesitated in getting serious with him because it was something that would benefit our families but he looked too strong for me and he was just like the type of guy who would end up killing me in his house. Yes he was a great friend but I was scared of him at the same time. The only difference this time around was that I now had the courage to shout back at him.

As I settled on my bed, I couldn’t help but play back all the words he said to me, more especially the comment he made about holding himself from taking advantage of me. Yes I was lucky I escaped that and it was probably because I wasn’t very much around due to my studies in the states.
‘’Are you okay?’’ I soon heard Val ask as he peeped into my room.
‘’yes, come sit with me,’’ I invited him with a smile.

(Val’s side of the story continues:)

‘’I watched from my room as you went out to talk with Charles’’ I said softly as I sat beside her. She rolled her eyes and laughed. ‘’It didn’t end well right?’’ I asked
curiously. ‘’no it didn’t. I’m tired of that guy seriously’’ she breathed. ‘’you said he isn’t your boyfriend but I’m very curious, have you ever been in any other relationship?’’ I asked. ‘’mmmm yes, I have been in two relationships actually. The first was when I was still a teenager; you know how we get all fired up at that age. It didn’t end well and the second one was even more devastating. I lost my virginity for nothing. Afterwards I decided to forget everything about relationships and ever since then the only male friend I had was Charles because he was more of a family friend,’’ she explained softly.
‘’so tell me, how do you feel about me. I noticed how you always stare at me, you hardly let me out of your sight?’’ she suddenly asked, taking me by surprise with the question.
‘’to be sincere, I have a very big crush on you but I know that’s all I can ever get. We are not of the same level. A gateman can only dream of marrying his master’s daughter. I’m too broke’’ I answered with a smile.
‘’what gave you the impression that relationships only work when wealth is involved?. Money is needed though but it’s just like salt needed to sweeten a relationship. You have to have all the other ingredients ready before the salt’’ she muttered as she drew closer to me. I swallowed hard as I fought back the urge, passion and desire in me. I badly wanted her. I badly wanted to hold her face and make promises but I just couldn’t. I knew I could lose it all in the end. I remembered my poor mother at home, and this time around, a force greater than the fear in my heart pushed me into kissing her.

At first my kiss wasn’t a deep one but Clara responded in a way I never imagined. She held me tightly and kissed back as if she had been expecting my kiss for a long time. Her action of course gave me the courage to kiss her over and over. In no time I found my hand reaching for her left breast while she wriggled and kissed me back.
Deep down I felt I wasn’t doing the right thing, I knew I had to control my urge and stop but I just couldn’t. The heat, the passion and fire between us was just too intense. Finally, Clara softly pushed me away.
‘’your phone is ringing’’ she breathed, sitting up and giving me the chance to recover myself. I nervously fetched my phone from my trouser pocket and took a quick look at the screen. The caller was no other person than Vivian and I just didn’t know whether to feel relieved or angry over the interruption.
‘’Hey what’s up’’ I breathed.
‘’I’m not fine. I can’t believe you couldn’t even call to check up on me ever since you left for Abuja. I thought we are friends?’’ she asked with an angry tone while I swallowed hard as I quickly tried to find a polite way to hang up on her. Of course the last thing I wanted was answering such a phone call in Clara’s presence even though there was nothing wrong in it as we had nothing going on between us. I just didn’t want to talk to her that moment.
‘’I’m so sorry Vivian, I will call you later, I’m very busy at the moment’’ I quickly muttered and hung up while Clara smiled and got up from the bed.
‘’it’s Vivian’’ I informed her. She simply shrugged
‘’we are heading back to Owerri tomorrow. You can go to your room now. Please delete what just happened between us from your mind. You know I haven’t been myself since yesterday?’’ she suddenly said, surprising me with the comment. I couldn’t say anything, even though I strongly felt like asking her what exactly she felt for me. I felt like grabbing her that moment and asking over and over what she felt for me. But I couldn’t because I was a guy on a mission and romance was never part of it. The right thing to do was just to obey her wish without asking any question.
‘’okay no problem’’ I shrugged, got up from the bed and headed out of the room, but as I got to the doorway, I turned to give her a last look and noticed that she was staring at me with a look that somehow showed disappointment. Perhaps it was what I felt in my head or maybe she was actually disappointed over something I did.

(Clara’s side of the story continues:)

Of course I was disappointed with Val. I never really wanted him to leave my room. I just made the comment as a woman who was protecting her dignity. I had expected him to stand his ground, hold me tightly and ask me with strong voice if the kiss we just shared meant nothing to me. I couldn’t believe he left my room without any hesitation and I felt so cheap and stupid. Of course he actually made the first move but I should have pushed him away instead of kissing him back. I felt so stupid. I couldn’t help but lock the door and cry out my heart.

(Vivian’s side of the story continues:)

I woke up that fateful Friday to see five missed calls in my phone. The missed calls were from an unknown number. I called back and was surprised to hear Charles gruff voice. I never knew the dude had my number and with the way he greeted me, I knew something just wasn’t right. However I didn’t have to wait long before he poured out his heart to me, narrating how Clara ruined his party all because of Val. He told me everything, including how he went to see Clara early that Friday morning only to be embarrassed again. The more he narrated his story the more my heart broke. I was never a fan of Charles but then I knew with the way he described Clara’s action that something definitely was going on between her and Val. I knew for her to have the courage to behave so rudely to Charles that something was giving her the morale. I really didn’t know what to say to Charles after his story other than promising to speak with Clara but what he didn’t know was that I was equally feeling the same pain he was feeling.

Instead of calling Clara like I promised, I called Val to hear his voice and at least put my heart at rest. I really had expected him to call me when he got to Abuja days ago but I was so disappointed that he never called and as a woman I painfully killed the urge of hearing from him. But then after all Charles told me, I was forced to call him. The last thing I would do was to sit back and watch Clara take him away from me. I met him first, I knew his secrets and it was because of me that he was able to get along with her in the first place.
Clara on her own part just pretended not to want him while deep down she wanted him. I hated pretence, I hated deceit, I hated backstabbing. Of course I gave my dear Clara all the signs for her to know that Val was mine, the silly girl just pretended and then snatched him from my reach by taking him to Abuja.

I called Val on phone, expecting to have a long talk with him but I was surprised with the way he answered and hung up on me, claiming he was busy. He couldn’t be busy by that time of the day unless he was busy sweating it out with Clara.
Slowly the night we kissed played back in my head. The night he thought I was drunk. Tears softly filled up my eyes as I regretted being too dull.
I knew I had to do something. I had to do something pretty fast.

[To be continued]

THE MOON FOR THE CARNIVAL BY IKECHUKWU AZU (a poem)

 

Azu Ikechukwu is a graduate from the prestigious Ebonyi State College of education, Ikwo. He is a young author, playwright and poet from eastern Nigeria.

I am not the Magi
Who only Know the stars.
Though I’ve not been to the sky
But I know the dichotomy in the Earth and Mars.
I’ve lived before Methuselah,
I surpass the Seven Wonders of Time.
I formed the crown of ancient Minerva
And gave Hammurabi the Law in his prime.
I am the moon;
I shine to steal away your darkness.
I see your soul languishing in endless doom,
So,I want to stand on your head with my brightness.
I am the full moon,
The moon for the carnival.
I shall tell you that December comes very soon
And I remain the only hope for Sallah.
I am the calendar;
I shine to tell days and months.
The tribesmen call me their Messaiah
For I light the carnival for the Monoliths.
Make me your Leader or Radiance.
I shall spread your tentacles across the Antartica;
I shall cause the yam’s yield ahead of the festival;
So,that it will never be a carnival of conscience.

I KILLED PAPA by Rita Ogochukwu

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Papa was the village chief; people loved him for he was an upright man who didn’t support evil.

One morning, I went to papa’s room to bring him his kola and gin for his usual morning ritual, but papa was sitting up on his wooden bed vomiting blood. A shrill cry escaped my throat. Mama came rushing to papa’s mud hut, with Sochima firmly tied to her back with her old wrapper . . . Maybe mama forgot she was supposed to bend over in the little opening covered with a raffia mat that serves as the door. Mama hit her forehead on the wooden lintel and prostrated on the floor which forced Sochima to cry.

I rushed to where mama was lying, rescued little Sochi from her back and rushed out to ask for help from the neighbours.
“Papa Emenike!” I bellowed. Papa Emenike emerged from his hut rubbing his pot belly. I told him what happened amidst tears.
He rushed to his barn, fetched his wheelbarrow and hauled towards my house. Mama’s forehead was still bleeding when we got to the house. Papa Emenike carried my father and placed him on the barrow and wheeled him away. Mama followed him struggling with her wrapper that was falling. She grabbed it, tied it to her waist leaving her breast bare and both hands on her head. “Stay and look after Sochima” she yelled when I was about following them.

Mama came back later in the day with a bandaged face. She went inside her hut without speaking to me. I followed her. She drew out a wooden box from under the bed, picked the old clothes from the table and neatly folded them into the box, took Sochima from me and made for the door. “What happened to Papa?” I inquired. “Your Papa’s heart has failed. He had heart failure and the doctor said I should bring . . . (she started counting her fingers) four million naira, so he would be transferred to their hospital in the city where he would get a heart transplant or he will die.. . Where will I get such huge amount of money from?” she rhetorically asked, wiping tears from her eyes with the hem of her wrapper. “So, I am leaving with Sochi, you are your father’s favourite, take care of him till he dies.” She left not listening to my pleas and cry. “Take care of your Papa” she said again and left.

After visiting papa at the hospital and the doctor telling me I had to source for the money as soon as possible, because Papa’s heart was getting weaker each day. I decided to visit papa Ebuka to ask him for help, he told me he could have helped but the little money he had was for paying Ebuka’s school fees.
As I was about leaving, he called me back and gave Me a hundred naira note. I thanked him and left hurriedly so he wouldn’t see the tears that was already trickling down my cheeks.
Life has been very hard for me: I barely ate one square meal a day, and the thought of my father gave me the heebie-jeebies. I had to beg for food to send to him in the hospital and mama was nowhere to be found.

One day I went to a cobbler’s shop to ask him for help, Amaka my friend told me he had lots of money. “If you sleep with me, I will give you plenty money” the cobbler replied after divulging all my predicaments to him.
The cobbler’s words kept replaying in my memory when I got home. The next day I went back to his shop.
when he saw me coming, he grinned and rubbed his sweaty palms together. He locked his shop behind me and grabbed me. He kissed me while he undressed me, I felt like I was swimming in an ocean of saliva. “Is this the kiss Amaka talks so much about, she is crazy for saying she enjoys it whenever Obi her boyfriend kisses her. It’s so disgusting”, I thought. The cobbler jerked and smiled after I felt sticky liquids pour inside me. “you are very sweet” he said while grinning. His grin revealed his teeth that were almost brown from chewing tobacco. I Almost vomited.
“Give me the plenty money I want to go”, I said.
After standing for ages watching him fiddle with his wallet. He pulled out a five hundred naira note and grinned again. My eyes were clouded with tears. “But this is not plenty money”, I cried. He shooed me out of his shop while asking me what a fourteen year old would do with five hundred naira. I cried to the hospital and when I got to the doctor’s office I gave him the money and ask him to minus.
After staring at me for long he broke out in laughter and asked if I thought he graduated as a doctor to act comedy.
I went to papa’s ward to see him, but he didn’t move when I touched him. I screamed the doctors name and he came rushing to where papa was lying motionless.

“Ay! Kiddo why are you disturbing the patients?” The doctor asked. I pointed to where papa was lying not uttering any word. He is just in a deep sleep. see? . . . (He placed the earpiece of the stethoscope on my ear and placed the diaphragm on papa’s chest) can you hear the heart beat?” he asked. I nodded and smiled. “Don’t create a scene again.” He murmured on his way out.

The cobbler introduced me to his friend. He gave me a five hundred naira note after sleeping with me. “Come again tomorrow.” He bellowed behind me. I quickened my steps not to hear his laughter.
The money they usually give me couldn’t pay for Papa’s surgery even if I saved it for ten years but it could feed me and Papa, so I chose to sleep with them. “I sleep with both of them everyday. I get one thousand naira; cool business”. I thought smiling. This continued for weeks.

After cooking breakfast for Papa, I scooped the food into a plastic bowel ready to go to the hospital. I opened the fancy wooden box papa bought for me when I came first in school and counted the money I saved up. Thirty thousand naira! My eyes widened. I folded it and carefully tied it in Mama’s old wrapper and made for the hospital.
I gave the doctor the money when I got to the hospital. He took the money from me. “Nice try but at this rate, I am going to get old before you finish the payment” he remarked. I sighed and left for papa’s ward. I was watching him eat when I felt a nausea feeling, and next thing I started vomiting, I was shocked because I couldn’t tell what’s happening to me. Papa asked if I was alright but before I could nod, another vomit found it’s way out.

“Ada, don’t tell me you are pregnant, No! Just don’t tell me you are pregnant”. Papa bellowed. I looked down, not knowing what to say. Papa asked again, standing up from the hospital bed this time. “are you going to tell me who is responsible, or should I kill you first?” he asked again, anger boldly written on his face. Since Two days ago I have been feeling so weak and feverish, I vomited most of the times, and my appetite went extinct at the sight of food. I asked Amaka and she told me it was early sign of pregnancy but I should go for a lab checkup to be sure.

I had a pregnancy test done in the morning which the result will be ready by evening but papa just confirmed my fears and concluded I was really pregnant.
His slap jolted me back to reality. “I said, who is responsible?” Pa….pa, it’s Eze the cobbler and his friend. I have been sleeping with them for weeks now so I can save up for your surgery . . .” I couldn’t finish what I was saying before papa fell heavily on the floor grasping his chest and vomiting blood. My scream attracted the nurse who rushed in almost immediately. “I think he has cardiac arrest, I need to call the doctor, he just left now” she said with a pleading eyes.

Before the doctor came, papa was already lying lifeless, the doctor checked his pulse and heaved a sigh. “sorry but we lost him”, he said. He told the nurse on duty to prepare him for the mortuary and left.
At first I didn’t know what to do, I thought of taking my own life but on a second thought, I decided to go bring my lab result.
The nurse handed it over to me, and I read it through. This time I fell on the floor and resumed crying again. I was not pregnant but had malaria and typhoid. “It’s true I slept with the cobbler and his friend who were old enough to be my father but at least papa, I am not pregnant please wake up” I cried. But the deed had been done, papa was dead and couldn’t wake up unless by miracle.
I killed papa while trying to save him.

MY TEACHER IS RESPONSIBLE [Episode 03]: a short story

I wonder what the world is getting into. Why does it happen that when your sweat lifted someone up, you would be his worse enemy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My younger brother, Brutus turned to what I was not expecting from him. Ten years later after when I was sold to Otenkwu as my quasihusband, my brother got employed as an engineer in my state ministry of power. It is a befitting job all are eager for. His project was to see that I was humiliated by Otenkwu. Oh! It’s a sorry story to behold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can not really blame Otenkwu for prejudicing me. It was my parents’ fault.
Five years after when I got married to Otenkwu, every thing about me were problems to him: he started by saying I was unable to satisfy him in bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus! He’s the sex machine I have ever seen. How could a man demand ten rounds of sex a night? It did not end there. It was always a rough one with what he called styles. I regretted ever getting married to him. Women who have had the experience of rough sex can attest to it. I learnt the lessons of life. I never knew men were so sexually active.

Otenkwu’s high sex demand welcomed another problem to my problems. When we got married at first, I endured his high libido for sex until I could no more bear it. I negotiated six rounds per night but he paid deaf ears to my request.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My attempt to let him know I was human being led to beatings and divorce. He realized he did not woo me but was forced on him because my parents were tired of me. The divorce led me to various places for survival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank God for my son, who God blessed. Eighteen years after when Mr. Toje claimed him, he came to me at Nkpor where I served as a sales girl. We worked together and got some money from which God blessed us with.
The God of an orphan has peculia way of favouring him. My son’s experience reminded me Chinua Achebe’s words: “Those whose palm kernel was cracked to them by benevolent spirit should not laugh at those whose Chi is asleep”.

When my son was returning from work one day, he met one Dr. Donald Smith, an American who called him to inquire his way from him.

 

 

 

 

 

My son is really blessed by God. Sometimes, I wonder whether I am his mother. His communication skill is contrary to mine. He speaks eloquently and fluently.
When Dr. Smith called him, his command of English language made him ask his level of education. My son told him he had finished his O’ level. He asked why he did not continue. My son who was then a man told him he was thinking of it. He gave a complimentary card to my son as an invitation to his house. I was moved when he returned and told me he met a white man. I counted my family lucky because I had never thought I would give birth to a son who could impress a white man in his language.

When my son visited Dr. Smith, he sent him back to go and call any of his parents. I breathed the last breath of my life because I thought my enemies were out again for me.
I courageously went to him for I knew my life worthed nothing. I was a moving corpse.

When I got in contact with Dr. Smith, he said, “yah ma’am, how are you? Are you the mother of this guy?” I responded, ‘yes sir’. “I wanna sort things with you. I wanna train up your son to take over my company in Nigeria that was why I sent him to invite you for approval”, he said. My heart was full of joy. I gave him go ahead order. I wonder what he was expecting me to say. Could he be thinking I was going to object it.

It is foolish to rate your tomorrow using yesterday. The sale of NEPA by the federal government of Nigeria left Brutus, my younger brother jobless. The buyer changed the name to PHCN and employed different employees without my brother being enlisted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He had no other place to go but to come and live with me. I found it difficult to forgive him but my bible was my weakness. The more I remembered how he told Otenkwu to be beating me that I lacked home training was the more I was tempted not to forgive him. He had one day told me that it was because of my stupidity that made my parents not to sponsor me to school. He added that if not because he accepted to be trained, my mysterious birth would have caused my parents great harm.

The emergence of MASSOB and IPOD forced Dr smith to leave Nigeria for Chicago. He handed his company over to my son. Before he left for his country, Dr. Smith left with six workers who were his relations. He told my son to recruit and fill the vacancies. Among the applicants is my son. He is a dubious man. I am afraid he may harm my son if he is employed to work with my son. He may plan against him. It is my worry now.

When I was still suffering under men, the song I liked most was the one that says ‘my tomorrow must be greater than today’. It has actually happened in my life.

Mr. Toje who is now an old man comes to me for help. His children abandoned him alone with his only one survived old wife. There is joy in motherhood.

My first daughter, Ruth is a prestigious graduate of accountancy. She is the only wife of the general manager of the most popular bank in my state. She is a charted accountant with many ministries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My second daughter, Kate is a philosophical doctor of international relations. She wedded the brother of Dr. Smith. Destiny will be delayed but cannot be denied. Mr. Toje and Otenkwu are now begging me to marry them.

1. Should I accept any of them?
2. Should my son employ my brother and his uncle, Brutus?
3. How do you feel about Otenkwu?

MY TEACHER IS RESPONSIBLE [EPISODE 02] : a short story

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new face of my problem raised its ugly face after when I gave birth to Chukwuma.
He is the little boy who was supposed to be called mr. Toje’s son.

I like my culture. If any man impregnates a lady without paying her bride price, he is not entitled to claim the child until he pays it.
Since mr. Toje just impregnated me without any price, he is automatically my illegitimate husband who would only be known by my parents and I. My extended family see him as a mere visitor.
Even if he likes, let him sponsor me to a university, he must pay what others pay. He must pay education few as others.

 

 

 

 

 

As it stands, no one would like to suffer but all will like to enjoy. A year after when I gave birth to Chukwuma, mr. Toje saw me in the examination hall in Supreme College, Ndiechi and approached me. I felt the same way I did when we slep in his house but then, my body had got mature enough to ignore sexy men. I controlled myself and asked, ‘sir, do you know me? What do you want?’ He told me that he would meet me during evening lesson.

When he came to the lesson venue, he pretended to be reading some passages for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He started, “my dear, I am sorry for what I made you go through. I did all those things to spare my personality. Imagine what that would have caused if not that I was wise enough to spare myself the insult”. I wanted to pity him but something greater than his compassionate talks struck my mind. ‘could it be he spared his personality to my detriment?’ was the question in my mind. I gathered courage and asked, ‘sir what exactly do you want? Do you want me or my child? Do you want both of us?’ He talked to me like a man. At this time, he roared like a wounded lion. “young lady, what are you up to? Do I look like father christmas? This is your third child, are you expecting me to adopt all of them? God forbid. I am only talking of my child just because he is a boy. If not, what business do I have with you? Did I meet you for other two girls? They are for you alone. I only want the boy, gbagam”.

Though he humitated me, I still respected him. I wanted to insult him but remembered that he was my good teacher. I summoned courage as a mother I was and asked him if he still possessed his good thinking faculty. He snapped a word at me, “young girl, I will come to your people next week to pay as tradition demands on the head of my son. If you like, accept or not, I must claim my lovely son”.
Immediately he finished his utterance, he vanished to nowhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A week later, I heard a whispering voices of two men. I was sleeping in my room when I heard the noise. It was the voice of my father and another man whose voice was too difficult to my understanding. I had no other option than peeping through my door.
Surprisingly, when I peeped through the door, it was my father and mr. Toje speaking in low voices. I knew they were talking about me when they mentioned “she”. My heart started panting but it was calmed by the wailing sound of my crying baby. I left the door for my child.

Two days later, all the elders in our extended family gathered with mr. Toje in their midst. They called my attention through my mum .  .  . If they had not used my mother to attract me, I would have ignored them.
I honoured their call because I respected my mother so much.
When I got there, my father was the first person to talk, “my daughter, every joy of a parent is to enjoy the fruit of his labour. Five years ago, you weaned two fatherless girls without hopeful claimers. This third child seems to be blessing to us.
This young man came to us to claim Chukwuma, your child. He has paid all the necessary payments for him. You have to hand him over to him for his wife to train up since she does not have any male child”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next person to speak was uncle Jude, “my dear, since you left your teacher’s home, this child has been with us as if we are his parents. Now that the father is here, leave the child for him and continue your education; we are up for you. We shall use the money to support your .  .  .”  When he wanted to give me hope, he was interrupted by Elder Ochie.
He is an evil man who does not welcome the progress of my family.
He started, “my daughter do not mind him. You and I know very well that girl child education is a waste to any family. Our plan was to make sure you seat for Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination (JSSCE) which we have achieved. The money will be used to sponsor your younger brother, Brutus He is the only hope of this family. We have arranged Otenkwu, the prestigious palm wine tapper for you. He has paid half of the dowry which we shall add to mr. Toje’s to sponsor your younger brother. Get prepared for he he is coming for you this evening.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

All he said did not go down with my mother but she was helpless. She stood up to talk but was interrupted by Elder Ochie, “sit down woman. Women are made to shine their whims and not their eyes or mouth. The meeting is for men.”

 

 

 

 

You may want to know if I later married Otenkwu and the whereabouts of Chukwuma my son in Mr. Toje’s custody.
Next episode can cure your curiosity.
Bye!