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]

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