” Do you think she bought it?” I asked, slipping the ring Annie just handed me into my b—-t pocket. I felt her hand on my arm. I had been so worried Dupe would see through our lies but surprisingly she believed everything we told her.
” Yes of course. She believed we actually got married and for now her mind is at peace.” Annie’s phone beeped, breaking into our conversation. ” Shark just sent me a text. He said Bankole is not on our side so we shouldn’t tell him anything henceforth. He also mentioned that we should give him few weeks break, no calls, no visitations or text messages and that he would get across to us when the time is right. I only hope he knows what he’s doing this time around.”
” We will do just that.” I replied. ” I am sure it has something to do with the case.”
” Definitely. ” She replied.”Don’t worry Uche, Shark won’t let her hang.”
” Thank you Annie,” I said.
” You are welcome ” She replied.
We continued the drive in silence but so many thoughts were running through my mind. I was still worried about Dupe and I also wondered what I would have done without Annie, she had been our backbone and I don’t think I could ever thank her enough. On that fateful day Dupe was going on about us getting a divorce, she had pinched me, asking me to agree. I didn’t know know what she had up her sleeve but I went along with it. Between the both of us, we had devised a means of getting Dupe to calm down. We forged the divorce papers and lied to her that we had gotten married in a private registry.
” I will kill your b—–d child and expose you to the world.” The text read.
The text message was from Cecilia who I hadn’t seen since I had my baby. I dialed her number and she picked it up on the second ring.” Cecilia! What is the meaning of the text message you just sent to me?” I screamed. The baby started crying at the sound of my voice but I ignored him.
” Funmi! how dare you?” She shouted at the other end.” Don’t you know that if I go down you will also go down with me? how could you send such text messages to me? what do you hope to achieve by threatning to go to the police? ”
” What nonsense are you saying?” I asked furiously.” I never sent you a text! You texted me first!,you said you will expose me and also harm my baby!”
” Oh so you have added lies to your list of vices?” She asked.” Look here young lady, don’t think you can play games with me. We are in this together, if I fall i am taking you down with me. I only replied the message you sent to me. You don’t threaten me, I decide who comes out the winner of this game and trust me, it won’t be you!”
” Is everything all right?” Sylvester asked, walking into the room. I quickly masked my feelings and disconnected the call.
” Y..yes” I said, reaching for the baby but he beat me to it. My son stopped crying as soon as he heard his voice. This is not good, I thought. We won’t be here for long and I don’t want baby Tom getting attached to him.” I was just on a call with …..with…”
” I think this little guy is hungry,” he said.
I reached for the baby and took him into my arms. Sylvester made to go and I thought quickly of something to keep him in the room. He was an enigma which I was gradually falling for, maybe it was out of curiosity or lust but he always made me feel pleasure with just a glance in my direction.
” Sylvester? ”
” Yea?” He replied, turning around.
” Thank you….for everything”
” You are welcome.” He said and sauntered out of the room.
I fed the baby while wondering what to do next. Cecilia was threatening to harm my child and the only option I had now is to leave the country. My phone beeped and a strange number reflected on the screen.
” Hello,” I said into the mouth piece.
” I know what you did.” A deep strange voice said.” I know what you and your little friend Cecilia did….” The call disconnected.
” Hello, hello” I said and dropped the call. My heart was beating erratically. Despite myself I was becoming scared, I have to leave. But first I have to settle some scores and Cecilia would be my first point of call.
I was strolling with the baby in the evening. I was enjoying the evening breeze on my skin and I loved the way the wind sailed through my hair. It was a perfect evening for a stroll but I was feeling melancholic. I had already packed my bags, baby Tom and I would be leaving Nigeria very early the next morning. I didn’t tell Sylvester I would be leaving because I didn’t know how to go about it and neither do I have answers to the questions I was sure he would ask me. The threats, blackmail messages and strange calls were becoming too much and the best thing was to leave, at least for some time. The crazy thing was that I didn’t know where I was going but I felt a little at ease knowing I would be leaving. I felt a hand on my back and I whirled around, clutching baby Tom tighter in my arms.
“Hand over that baby to me!” A guy with a mask on his face, pointing a gun at me said. I glanced around the street nervously, the street was deserted. There was no one around to call for help.
“Please…..” I begged, “Is it money you want?” I asked. “I will give you money, I will pay you. Please leave my baby alone….please.”
The guy’s phone rang out and he plucked it out of his pocket swiftly. “Hello” he barked into the mouth piece of the phone. “Yes I have her here with me…. Cecilia.” He disconnected the call and whistled. A dark van drove towards us and he coc.ked the gun. “Give me the baby right now!”
I handed the squirming baby to him and he got into the car. I watched the car sped away with my son, with my heart in my throat. I brought out my phone and dialed Cecilia’s number.
“Funmi” Cecilia said. “I saw your handiwork o”
“You biatch!, you crazy, crazy biatch!” I screamed. “This has gone on too far and everything ends right here and now! I give you twenty four hours to return my child else…”
“Shut up your silly mouth!” She shouted. “You! How dare you? You sent your boys to beat me up because I have not given you the balance! I wish you had died in that fire! I wish your b—–d child hadn’t chosen that moment to be born! If not you would have roasted in that fire!”
I blew out air in disbelief. “You knew something about the fire? ….the fire that broke out at the hotel?” I asked.
“Remember I told you, you won’t end up the winner of this game if you keep pitting against me!” She said venomously.
“Where is my son? What do you want with him?”
“I will not warn you again” She said and disconnected.
He pulled me into his strong arms while I sobbed my heart out. My b—–s leaked milk, soiling our shirts but he didn’t seem to mind. I was beginning to like him a little too much. He had been there for me since the birth of Tom and he had had also had our backs. I didn’t know if I could trust him but I was afraid for my baby. I was very shaken and afraid and I wanted to let it all out. Maybe he would understand what I was going through, maybe he would understand why I did all that I did in the past.
“Sly…” I began tentatively.
“Yes.” He said, wiping away my tears.” Funmi, I have to call the police now”
“No!” I cried.” Please don’t call the police!”
“Why? Tom has been kidnapped and they are the only ones who can get him back for us.” He said. “Or is there anything you are not telling me? Perhaps you suspect someone?”
I pulled away from his arms and sat down heavily on the sofa.” I don’t know what is going on anymore! I think I am going crazy! What have I gotten myself into?”
He squatted in front of me. “Funmi,” He said, lifting up my chin with his fingers. “I love you and it feels like Tom is mine. I’d hate it if he gets hurt. You have been with me for three weeks now and you just have to trust me.…”
“Please don’t say you love me” I blurted out, “You don’t know what sort of person I am or what I have done!”
“Look at me” he whispered. “We all have our past. Trust me, I know you are going through a lot now. I would have to be a fool not to notice it but I didn’t pry because I felt you would share your fears and worries with me when the time was right. Funmi, trust me.”
“Cecilia kidnapped my baby” I said and started crying.
“Who is she? A friend?” He asked.
“No. It is complicated.” I sobbed.
“Trust me…..” He said.
“Where do I start from?” I said and stood up wearily. “it all started on a night I gave myself to the man I loved. The only man I have ever loved. He…he had a wife and a daughter but his wife, Mabel, treated him so badly and I couldn’t help feeling she doesn’t deserve him. In fairness to him, he told me he was in love with his wife but….but….. I thought …..”
“You thought you could make him forget her by showing him the love and the care he deserved?” He asked.
I nodded my head. “But he choose to stay with her instead. They both plotted against me and had me thrown in jail and by then I had found out that I was carrying his child. When I returned back to Nigeria everyone turned against me including my childhood friend. I was fast running out of the money I came back with and my friend, Dupe, was planning to kick me out of her home. I wanted to get back at Tade and Mabel so badly, I wanted them to feel the pain that I was feeling and the humiliation I was going through every day. I wanted them to lose all that they had and all they had worked for. I thought hurting them would ease away some of my pain, I wouldn’t know because I never got the chance to hurt them. But I couldn’t stop loving him despite all he did to me and that fuelled my hatred against them the more.”
“What did you do next?” he asked.
“That was when Cecilia came into the picture. She was my friend’s husband’s ex and she wanted to get her revenge on him for deserting her. Actually what she wanted was the settlement.”
“What settlement?” He asked
“My friend’s husband, Uche, had an accident which led to him going blind.” I replied. “He was paid the sum of one hundred million naira by the company he worked for. Cecilia wanted that money because she felt it was her right. She offered to pay me N15 million naira if I could help her get my friend out of the way.’’
“Get your friend out of the way?” He asked.
“Yes. I wish now that I hadn’t gone along with her plans. Sly… I have been such a terrible person.”
“And did you help her?”
“Yes. Tom’s grandmother was also against me and I thought with her out of the way I could win back her son. So we…..… Cecilia killed her and my friend got the blame for it.” I said, risking a look at him. There was no accusations in his eyes.
“Oh Funmi” He said, pulling me into his arms.
“I know I acted foolishly but I regret it now.’’ I said.
“How did this Cecilia person kill Tom’s grandmother?” he asked.
“I sent my friend, Dupe to her house and Cecilia followed her there. When Dupe left, Cecilia snuck into the house. Mrs. Afolabi thought it was Dupe that came back and she went to get the door. Cecilia only had to tell her that she was a new member at the church we attend and she threw her door opened for her. Cecilia stabbed her in the stomach when she made to hug her and went up the stairs into her bedroom. She ransacked the bedroom to make it look like the murderer had also stolen some items from the house. She texted Dupe with Mrs. Afolabi’s phone on her way out, asking her to come back to the house. Once she was certain Dupe must have gotten back into the house, she called the police and Dupe was caught while trying to flee from the murder scene or so it looked.”
He sighed heavily. “You were only a pawn in her game. She took advantage of your vulnerability. Why did she take Tom?”
“I don’t know!” I cried out. “She hasn’t given me the balance yet and she said I have been sending blackmail messages to her! She said she had Purity hotel set ablaze because she wanted me dead! I think she is afraid I might spill everything to the authorities. Now she has my son!”
“Funmi, I will go in search of her. But you have to stay here.” He said. “Where can I find her?”
“Oh Sly! Are you sure? She’s dangerous! She even killed another man!”
“Who else did she kill?”
“Please Sly….let me handle this on my own.”
“Tell me where I can find her”
I gave him the directions to her place. He took hold of my hand and led me up the stairs. He opened the door to his bedroom and beckoned me to go in. He pulled out a key and handed it to me.
“Funmi, please promise me you won’t step out of this room until you hear my voice again. Please lock yourself in and wait for me.”
“Shhh…. I will explain some things to you when I come. Please no matter what sound you might hear, don’t leave this room until I tell you it is safe to so. Now promise me”
“Sly….. I promise.” “Please be safe, Cecilia is crazy and…”
He cut me off with a mind searing kiss. It was the first time he would kiss me. although I had always seen it in his eyes and the way he stared at my lips when he thought I wasn’t looking. I had come to care for him deeply and right now I was so scared for him. He walked out of the room, signaled that I should lock the door and I did. I heard his footsteps going back the stairs until it faded away.
To be continued