(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]