The carpet felt lush under her feet, she lifted herself off the edge of the bed and walked to the huge mirror on the nightstand, she cracked a smile and her naked reflection smiled back and all of a sudden she felt self conscious, she looked around the room for any form of clothing and grabbed her boyfriend’s shirt, the material felt smooth caressing her naked body. Her boyfriend was still in bed snoring softly, she smiled knowing she had worn him out; actually they had worn each other out but who was counting. She needed something to drink, eat and to call home as soon as possible, she had not called home since they landed and knowing her folks they would be worried sick, especially her cute faced little sister. She suddenly wished she was home.
She walked over to the bedside drawer where Lawrence’s phone was lying and picked it up, battery was dead! The silly boy had been playing games on it all day. Where was the damned charger? She thought to herself as she rummaged through his luggage, when she couldn’t find it, she went downstairs to get something to eat.
“Where the heck is Isaac by the way, it is already past noon and the phone isn’t here yet, my old phone is nowhere to be found, at least lemme try and see if my SIM still works!” She grumbled as she walked across the marbled floor to the oak door leading to the kitchen.
When she got back upstairs Lawrence was already up.
“There is indomie downstairs if you want to eat. By the way, where is Isaac, he promised he would have my new phone here by noon, but it is almost past noon and he is nowhere to be found!”
“You know how Isaac is, he is never one to seat still for more than a minute, he probably is somewhere doing God knows what.” Lawrence said with a stiff yawn. “On another note, the carnival does not start for a few days, I have arranged for us to visit the famous Obudu cattle ranch.” Her face lit up.
“I have booked us a room for two nights, we can go for a ride on the cable car, catch the sights before the main event. Pack a few things, we live in a few hours.”
“Babe, from where did you get the money for this?!” She asked her voice carrying a storm of concern.
“I have saved for this moment for a long time; I want to make it special for you.” He pulled her into his embrace.
“Babe, you do not need to spend a dime to impress me, I love you just the way you are. That money would have been best used for something important. All these are not important to me, just you.”
“You are important to me, so the money was put to good use.” He kissed her firmly. “Lemme go shower, I will eat when I come, then we move.”
The voice sounded strange, like the speaker was speaking into an empty cup, it was obvious he was trying to disguise their voice.
“….can you hear me?” It was asking.
“Yes I can.” Mr. Eze said, moving the phone to the other ear.
“If you ever want to see your daughter again, you would need ten million to secure her freedom.”
Mr. Eze hated not being able to gauge the emotion of the speaker; he or she appeared calm and confident.
“Ten million is a load of money sir,” For all he knew, the caller was fifteen and he had just called him sir.
Well to hell with that, he would beg and grovel, if he needed to just as long as he got his daughter back, unharmed,
“where am I to find ten million in the short time you have given me?”
“Stupidity does not suit you Engineer Ifeanyichukwu Anthony Eze, you are worth ten times that amount and even if you weren’t; your extended family is so rich that if they all pooled their pocket change together they would more than raise that money in twenty minutes.”
These people had done their research.
“How do I know my daughter is still alive? I need proof of life.”
“You will.” The line went dead immediately.
“What did he say nna?!” His teary eyed wife asked. All she had done all day long was cry her eyes out; the meal she had been making sat cold in the pot, untouched. Isabella had been sent to stay at a relative’s till everything was sorted out, she did not need to be privy to the gory details.
Her husband’s cousin; Emeka, who was a senior police officer had been contacted earlier and asked to be kept abreast of the situation, he had already sent plain police details to the area, to keep an eye on the Eze house and monitor it for suspicious behavior. He had had all their phones tapped, so he and his tech guys would be able to trace the caller. He was certain they would be able to capture the criminals in no time; they just had to act fast.
Mr. Eze’s phone rang again and this time it was his cousin at the other end.
“Any news?” He asked apprehensively.
“The call was traced to Amikwo, here in Awka, we have men combing the area now but the SIM was unregistered and thus we could not find the user. But I have my tech guys communicating with the network provider to know who sold that SIM, as a rule, all SIMs must be registered. So my brother wey tuo obi (calm down), we will get them. I promise you that.”
“Oh my brother, I have heard you.” When he hung up, he felt considerably calmer and more confident that they would catch the perpetrators of this heinous crime. As he relayed the contents of his conversation with Emeka, he could not help but notice how much lighter he felt relating his cousin’s progress to his wife. She swallowed every detail up, urging him to repeat when he was too fast and he obliged because that was her way of coping with what must be a traumatic experience for her, as it was for him.
The caller discarded the SIM, fixed a new one and punched the screen a couple of times and brought it to his ears.
“Hello, he wants a proof of life….yes….a video or picture would do. Make it believable.” He hung up, shoved the phone into his pocket and hailed a taxi.