® 18+ SNVL
© Oluwatosin Emmanuel Oyinloye
Edited by Daniel Benjamin
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday Dear Cynthia, Happy Birthday to you!
A round of applause followed at the end of the song and multiple flashlights from different phone cameras shone as they captured the smiling celebrant behind the birthday cake.
“Happy birthday, honey,” Mrs. Alexandra was the first to move closer to her daughter. She bent slightly to hug her and pecked her on the cheek.
Following behind her was Evelyn who also pecked her and handed her a birthday gift. The rest of the audience; Dave, Cole, Jennifer, Samantha, and Henry also congratulated the girl with different gifts.
After some minutes, they all moved to the dining room for the special dinner.
“Who would take a short prayer for us before we start eating?” Mrs. Alexandra asked when they were all seated.
The hesitation could be seen on the faces of Henry’s team as they had never taken time to pray before they ate.
Mrs. Alexandra took her time to look at the faces of all the people sitting around and finally stopped at Henry’s.
“I think you should lead us in prayers,” she said, staring directly at Henry.
“Me?” Henry shone his eyes at her in surprise.
“Yes, you,” she affirmed.
“Okay,” he cleared his throat and sat up. He noticed his team members all had mischievous smiles on their faces and he could tell they were silently making jest of him. “Let’s close our eyes for prayers,” he said and watched until everyone’s eyes were closed before he closed his.
For some seconds, Henry remained mute as he wasn’t sure of what to say. Then he remembered the last time he had a meal with Sheila before going to pick his team for the mission.
Some of them had opened their eyes to stare at him before he began to pray. “Precious Father, we thank you for this wonderful meal. We pray that it is sanctified and blessed. As we eat, let it nourish our bodies and provide health and strength for us. We also pray that we may have many more opportunities to celebrate Cynthia’s birthday happily. In Jesus’ name, we pray.”
“Amen!” they all chorused and opened their eyes to start eating.
“Mom,” Evelyn called after taking a bit of the meal. She had a pleasant smile on her face. “This taste so different from your usual bobotie meal. Any secret ingredient I need to know?”
Mrs. Alexandra looked up and smiled at her daughter. “There’s no secret ingredient, it’s just a different recipe.”
“Different recipe?” You didn’t tell me were learning new stuff.”
“Well, I didn’t make the decision myself. I had some help,” Mrs. Alexandra said and looked towards Jennifer.
“Oh!” Evelyn exclaimed.
“This is how Bobotie is done in the part of Africa where I hail from.”
“And where’s that?” Mrs. Alexandra asked.
There was silence for a while and it seemed everyone paused to hear Jennifer’s response.
“She’s from Zimbabwe,” Evelyn answered while Jennifer was still thinking of what to say. She knew it would be difficult for Jennifer to reveal anything personal when Mrs. Alexandra and the little girl were there.
But it seemed the little girl was not done asking her questions.
“Where in Zimbabwe?” Cynthia asked another.
“Harare,” Evelyn replied.
Cynthia stared at Evelyn for a while, wondering why she was the one answering. Then she faced Jennifer again.
“Would you tell me about…”
“We’re eating Cynthia, I think you should stop disturbing Aunty now. You can talk when you’re done eating.”
From then on, the whole house ate in silence, and even after the meal, Cynthia seemed less interested in asking Jennifer more questions.
“Mom, can I play some more video games before I go to bed?” Cynthia asked after getting up from the seat.
“Sure, you can for tonight. But you have to sleep once it’s ten o’clock,” Mrs. Alexandra said to the girl and she ran off immediately. “Excuse me,” the woman curtsied before leaving the rest at the dining hall.
“We need to talk, Evelyn,” Henry said, getting up from his seat. He began to walk towards a passage. Evelyn got up and followed him.
Steve turned the metal once again and the door gave way. He held it and pushed it in slowly, to avoid making noise. After getting into the house, he returned the tool in the bag which was hung across his body and closed the door. He then took out his torchlight and turned it on.
He was dressed for the job and brought with him all the tools he needed. His total black outfit helped him gain entrance into the compound easily using the shadows. His palms were also covered with gloves to ensure he left no fingerprints behind.
He located the hallway quickly and proceeded there. The doors of the rooms were not locked, so he had no problem getting into them. The first one he stepped into was for the little girl. He didn’t take so much time in it but proceeded into the next room.
The next one was Evelyn’s room. He could tell at the minute he entered into the place that it was hers. He quickly began to search the room. The wardrobe was the first place he opened. He began to take the clothes one after the other. It took him over forty minutes to finish with the wardrobe. He couldn’t find anything close to what he was looking for. However, he found some knives and an empty gun but that was nothing strange to find at the home of a FOX agent. Then, he began to search other places in the room. He looked under the bed and moved the items positioned at different corners.
He stopped to think after he did not find anything. It was possible Evelyn had thought about the possibility of her room being searched and she had kept the incriminating items elsewhere or had hidden it somewhere it won’t be easy to find in the house. He stepped out into the hallway and looked around, trying to identify the places he could have hidden something in that house.
He was still thinking when he heard some sounds. Someone had just opened the door and stepped in. He moved closer to the wall and leaned his back against it. He held his breath for a moment as he tried to listen to the sounds from the living room. From the soft footsteps, he could hear, he knew more than one person had gotten in. He was also sure they were walking so gently not to make any sound. Quickly, he stepped back into Evelyn’s room and tried to close the door as quietly as he could. He took out his gun from the back pocket to check if bullets were in it.
He let out a sigh as there were only two bullets there. He had not come prepared to meet anyone there. But he also had a feeling that he might not need to use the bullets. The people who had just entered could be Evelyn and her people. But he needed to confirm first.
Three men had just gotten into the living room. They had been watching the building closely from outside but Steve’s entrance had been so smooth that they did not notice or get any sign when he went in. However, they had placed a sensor chip at the door and it had alerted them outside when it was opened.
They spread slowly with their guns held firmly in their hands. Each step taken was done gently as they wanted to make sure the person who was in did not know he had company. But they had no idea that the person inside had taken extra training which made his ears able to catch very little sounds.
One of the men stepped out of the kitchen and waved a finger to the two others in the living room to tell them he found nothing there. The one close to the hallway then beckoned on them with a gesture to follow him into the hallway.
They got there and he went straight to the first room while the other men proceeded to the other rooms.
The second man opened the door to Evelyn’s room quietly and stepped in. He tapped the switch by the wall to turn on the light and the whole room was brightened. There was no one in sight but he could tell that someone had been in the room. He could see that the wardrobe was closed properly and clothes were hanging in a disorderly manner behind.
“The first room is clear,” the man who had checked Cynthia’s room appeared at the doorstep of the second room.
The one inside glanced at him. “This place looks clear too but I suspect someone was here.”
The first guy got more interested and took a step further into the room. The one inside also proceeded towards the wardrobe. “I’m sure the person couldn’t have gone far. Remember that we need Evelyn alive but you can kill anyone else you find.”
He was about to turn and step outside of the room when he heard a loud cry from his colleague and turned back.
They had been too careless to note that someone had been hiding behind the bed all through and was just waiting for the right opportunity. Steve had grabbed the man who came close to the wardrobe and stabbed once in the belly and the second time in the neck.
The other man was about to raise his gun and shoot but Steve’s bullet pierced into his belly first. The bullet only held him for a second and he tried to shoot again but Steve fired another one which got to his chest this time.
Steve jumped out of his hiding place and proceeded towards the door immediately. He wasn’t sure if there were only two persons in the place so he stayed behind the wall to listen. The gunshot must have alerted the other people and he was sure that if the two dead men were not alone, someone else would be on the way towards the room soon. Just as he thought, he heard someone’s footsteps close to the door at that time. He leaned against the wall quietly. He saw the gun which had fallen from the dead man close to the door and thought of reaching for it as he no longer had bullets in his. But he knew any move he made at that point could lead to his own death. He remained calm where he was and tried to listen carefully.
From the slow movements of the leg, he could tell that there was only one person who was also close to the door and trying to be careful. Luckily for him, the man outside made a move that made his shadow seen and Steve was able to detect his exact position. Steve raised his feet quietly one after the other and took off his shoes. After which he moved closer to the dead body and picked the gun. As he tried to get up, he noticed the man’s phone on the floor and also picked it.
He held both shoes together with one hand and then throw them out. He followed the shoes bending and fired two shots into the belly of the man as he stepped out.
40 Minutes later
“We have enough information to nail Daysman already and I believe he’s going to speak tomorrow,” Evelyn said to Henry.
They were sitting together in the study. They seemed to be the only ones awake in the house as no sounds could be heard around.
Henry seemed to doubt Evelyn’s words. He shook his head and pushed out breath from his mouth.
“Well, he could talk but I doubt if he’s going to give you guys useful information,” Henry said.
“We just need the identity of the bleeping strategist from him,” Evelyn replied. “Once we get that strategist’s details, we’re going to launch out a full attack on him.”
“What kind of attack are you thinking about?” Henry asked.
Evelyn stared at him for a while. “Well, none yet until we know who it is. But I shouldn’t tell you even if there is. You know strategies remain confidential to the team handling a case.”
“And you don’t think I’m part of the team handling this case?”
Evelyn shook her head. “Not official,” she replied. “You’re not doing anything official. If anything, your operations are illegal.”
Henry chuckled. “You’re beginning to sound like the chairman now.”
“Paul Edwards?” Evelyn asked.
“Yeah,” Henry replied.
“No,” she chuckled. “I don’t think I can sound like that guy, we’re not pals.”
“But I think you’re becoming pals already, he gave you your case to handle.”
Evelyn chuckled. She was about to say something else when a thought came to her find. She squinted at Henry’s face.
“Does the chairman know you’re alive?”
Henry was silent for a moment, he was about to answer when Evelyn’s call began to ring.
“You may need to take that,” Henry said and got up from his seat to do something else in the room.
“Yeah, Evelyn Alex. How may I help you?” Evelyn said in response to the caller.
“Where are you, Miss Evelyn? Three people were murdered this night in your apartment.”
“What the f***!”
Henry turned to stare at her from where he was.
“We will need to see you right away.”
“Sure, I will be there.”
“What happened?” Henry asked, walking back towards her.
“Three people were killed at my apartment today, the police want my attention.”
Henry stared at her face thinly for a while. “Are you sure it’s a call from the police?”
Evelyn opened her call register to show him the number she received the call from.
“F***! Hutton Ryker must be up to something,” Henry said.
Evelyn stared at him in surprise. “Who the heck is Hutton Ryker?”
Henry stared at her face. “The strategist.”
“You know the strategist? Why didn’t you tell me?” She questioned him, looking angry.
“What would you do if I let you know? Tell your colleagues? Who would you tell them was your informant? Or are you going to start a personal investigation on him?”
Evelyn took in a deep breath. He was right. Even if she knew who the strategist was, she couldn’t use the information until she got it from a source that could be documented.
“I think I need to go meet the police now,” Evelyn reminded him and tried to walk past him.
Henry stopped her by grabbing her arm. “I and Samantha would go before you to the place to check how safe it is. Then, Dave would also go with you.”
50 minutes later
Dave and Evelyn could see several police officers as they stepped out of the car and hurried into the compound. They tried to move towards the balcony but the police officers stopped them from moving further.
“It’s my apartment, I need to know what happened here,” Evelyn said to the officers.
A female officer who was standing on the balcony turned on hearing her voice and climbed down to meet her.
“Miss Alex,” the woman called. “I spoke with you on phone not too long ago.”
“Good evening, Evelyn greeted. “You said three people were murdered in my apartment.”
“Yes, please come with me,” the female officer said and Evelyn followed.
Dave tried to follow but the other officers stopped him. “F*** it! I’m with her.”
“He’s with me, let him come,” Evelyn turned to tell them.
“Who is he?” the female officer by her side asked.
Evelyn stared at Dave’s face for a while and then turned back to the woman. “He’s my boyfriend, he picked us here yesterday.”
“Things have gotten more complicated, I don’t think she should return to the FOX,” Dave said in a discussion with the rest of the team. They were all in the strategy room which had many computers around. While all others were still dressed casually, Evelyn was already dressed for work.
“I don’t think that would help us or help her,” Samantha chipped in. “The FOX would declare her wanted in a few days after pulling up suspicious information about her.”
Evelyn walked to where Henry was and stood right in front of him.
“What do you think we should do?” She asked in a stubborn tone, determined to get an answer from him.
“I don’t know, I’m still wondering what Hutton Ryker is trying to achieve by killing three men in your apartment.”
“It’s obvious,” Dave put in. “He wants the police attention on her so that he can distract her.”
“Not just that, Dave,” Henry countered. “As a FOX officer, you have to report to the office if you have such cases so that it can be handled by the FOX. This means Evelyn has to tell the office about the murders.”
“What if she doesn’t tell them? How would they know?” Jennifer asked.
“The police would need to interrogate her and it could take long hours. How will Evelyn leave her work in the office to be at the police office?” Henry explained. “Her superiors in the FOX would ultimately find out.”
“That doesn’t look good for her personally nor the team,” Samantha joined in.
“Yes, that’s why we need a quick solution,” Henry said.
Evelyn turned to Henry again. “I have just one question for you. Is Paul aware that you are back?”
“Yeah, he is. He met the whole team at that camp in Anthanna. He helped to save Sheila Jack and even all of us from getting killed,” Henry answered.
Evelyn chuckled as she shook her head in surprise. “So, that crazy man knows you’re alive and he never mentioned a word to the FOX?”
“He couldn’t,” Henry said to her. “Just like you can’t now.”
“That makes it easy for us,” Evelyn shrugged. “All I have to do is return to the office like nothing happened. You call Paul Edwards and let him handle it.”
“I never wanted him to know you are working with me,” Henry replied.
“Don’t tell him I’m working with you, tell him I only helped you wipe off the fingerprints,” Evelyn said to Henry.
“I don’t want him to know that either,” Henry replied.
“What other choice do we have?” Evelyn asked, shining her eyes at him. She stopped and then looked at her wristwatch. “By the way, I’m running late already. We have to make a decision quickly.”
“Alright,” Henry finally gave up. “That’s the best choice we have right now. If I call him, he’s going to transfer the case from the police to the FOX secretly and kill it right away.”
“That means I can proceed to the office right away.”
The FOX Corporation
Steve in his office, staring at the computer screen absentmindedly. He hadn’t been able to focus since he resumed work that morning. The thought of what happened the previous day kept coming to his mind every single minute.
He had killed three men in Evelyn’s apartment. Even though he had taken necessary precautions to make sure the murders were not traced to him, he wasn’t still so confident. He may not receive so much punishment for killing the men if he was able to prove that they also tried to kill him but he was surely going to be punished for breaking into a colleague’s house. There was another thing he was so afraid of. And that was getting Evelyn into trouble for murders she didn’t commit.
He checked his time after a while; it was 9:30 AM. Maybe Evelyn had not yet gotten to the office. Or maybe the police had kept her in detention the last night, he couldn’t stop thinking. At that time of the morning, he expected that the case would have been transferred from the police to the FOX already. He was Evelyn’s direct boss and if a case involving her was transferred to the FOX, he would be one of the firsts to be notified.
“Good morning, Agent Steve,” a voice startled.
He looked up to see Agent Evelyn standing in front of him and he shook visibly.
“Is anything the matter, Agent Steve?” Evelyn asked when he didn’t give her a reply.
“Nothing,” he shook his head and tried to compose himself. “Good morning, hope you’re doing well today?”
“Yes, I am. What about you?”
“We need to speed up our progress with Daysman’s case, that’s why I’m here. I’ve been expecting your call and I haven’t gotten it since morning.”
“Oh! Please sit,” Steve said. “What have you got on it this morning?”
Evelyn passed him a file. “We have enough to get an arrest warrant for Daysmanjnr,” she explained as he looks into the file.
He looked up after a minute. “This is brilliant!” He commended. “And I think it’s also a very silly mistake on Daysman’s part.”
“Yeah, there must always be a mistake somewhere.”
Steve chuckled and then returned the file to her.
“So, when do we go for the interrogation?” Evelyn asked.
“Interrogation?” Steve wondered.
“Yes, why are you sounding surprised.”
“Nothing, I just thought you would be busy.”
“Busy with what?” Evelyn asked, already wondering why he was acting strange.
Steve realized he was already acting funny and could get her suspicious of him. He needed to find something to cover up.
“Well, busy telling me how the birthday party went yesterday,” he covered up with a smile.
“Oh!” She chuckled. “Well, it was great. We had fun.”
“Nice to hear that. I have my gift ready too,” he said and took out a wrapped item from his drawer.
“Oh! That’s nice of you,” Evelyn said as she took it from him. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” Steve replied. “Let’s go ahead with the interrogation in fifteen minutes.”
“Okay, will be there before then.”
He watched her as she turned away and walked towards the door. He was feeling more confused than he was before. How on earth could she be so relaxed and focused on work when three men died in her apartment the last night? He asked himself. There has to be something more.
He opened his drawer and took out the phone he took the last night from one of the men’s bodies. He had switched it off after going through it the last night. When he checked the last night, the man had called someone two minutes before they came into Evelyn’s house to attack her. The name of the contact was ‘The Strategist’.
That could only mean the men were working with the strategist and he had asked them to bring Evelyn alive to him.
Steve couldn’t understand what was going on. If Evelyn was working with the Strategist of the Wolves, why would he need to kidnap her? Who were those that wanted to kill her and who were those who saved her?
Many questions were in Steve’s mind and he wished to get answers to them. But he wasn’t sure he needed to keep investigating Evelyn by himself. He didn’t want to get into some more trouble. Maybe he needed to inform the FOX executives.
He opened his drawer to return the phone into it. He looked up to see Maria walking into his office.
“Hey, Steve!” She said with a seductive smile.
Steve heaved a sigh. “I didn’t ask you to come in, Maria.”
“You didn’t need to. You’ve been avoiding me, so there was no need to knock,” she said and sat without being asked to. She crossed her legs comfortably. “I saw that b***h walking out of your office now, won’t you tell me what’s up with her?”
“She’s my team member and she’s none of your business,” Steve replied.
“She’s your team member or she’s the one you’re currently sleeping with?” Maria teased.
“What the heck! Nothing like that happens in my team, Maria. If you don’t mind, I’m quite busy now. We can see later.”
“Dinner tonight?” Maria proposed.
“Dinner?” Steve raised his brows. “What makes you think I want to have dinner with you?”
“Because I could easily log a new report that you trailed your teammate from a mall after an assassination attempt.”
Steve widened his eyes at her. He tried to speak but no word came out of his mouth.
“Who did they try to kill? Was it her?”
Steve shook his head. He knew he had to give Maria a tangible explanation to make her back off.
“Yes,” he replied. “We’re on a dangerous case right now and we made a mistake which let her identity slip. We suspected that an attempt could be made on her life and prepared. But we couldn’t make it official because we did not want the executives to know of the mistake.”
“Oh!” Maria chuckled. She seemed satisfied with the answer. “I initially thought you were just interested in sleeping with her.”
“Can I get back to work now?” Steve said trying to put her away.
“Yes, but remember we have dinner tonight at Stan’s Hotel,” she said, eyeing him seductively as she got up from the seat.
To be continued