Loveth watched her siblings talk excitedly on the phone and smiled secretly to herself as she waved the hand fan in her hand, blowing breeze on Mr Peters. Mr Peters was a heavy sweater and the heat had him sweating so much, water beats rolled down his exposed chest, down his stomach and disappearing into his trouser. Sweat beads formed on Loveth’s brow and her hands ached as she fanned Mr Peters but that was the least on her mind.
Loveth watched her siblings with keen interest as they passed the mobile phone around talking to none other than Timothy. Oh how she longed to hear his voice again. It had been so long. It was nothing but three weeks but it sure did seem like three years to her. Tessy and Jerry laughed from time to time and Loveth felt jealous. She should be at the receiving end of her brother’s words and jokes, oh, what she’d give to see her brother again…
Tessy walked up to Loveth suddenly and propped the phone before her. Loveth blinked.
“Timothy wants to talk to you”
Loveth froze, staring at the phone in Tessy’s hand with confusion and fright.
Mr Peters looked up at her. “Loveth? Are you not going to speak with your brother?” Loveth stared for some seconds then shook her head. “You don’t want to talk to him?” Mr Peters looked as shocked as Tessy. Jerry didn’t understand much of what was going on but Loveth was sure. She wasn’t going to speak with her brother. It was the price she was willing to pay to see her brother again. Loveth shook her head stiffly.
“I don’t want to speak with him” she muttered with a sober look.
Mr Peters collected the phone, looking confused and put it against his ear. Loveth couldn’t listen, she dropped the hand fan and walked out of the sitting room. She really wanted to speak with her brother but she knew that beyond hearing his voice, she also wanted to see his face so badly. And weirdly, she had the feeling that starving him of her voice would make him stay alive long enough to not only hear her voice but see her as well. She only hoped that she wouldn’t regret it… she prayed that the time wouldn’t come when she wished she had savoured the sound of his voice while she had the chance.
Teju Pascal sat in her seat, her fingers shook violently where they lay on her laps as she smiled tightly at the men seated across from her. The silence was so deafening and Teju couldn’t begin to imagine just how silent the graveyard would be.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t get your names” she muttered, breaking the silence with a smile frozen on her face.
“Our names are unimportant” one of the guys dropped stonily. He was the taller of the two guys, the one with the most frightening look and also the one Teju spotted a gun on. “We prefer the anonymousity.” he finished with a small frightening smile.
Teju swallowed, keeping her frozen smile on her face. “Oh… Well, be my guest, sirs, I am Peju, by the way. Would you like me to… call my sister for you?” she said, stretching her hand across the table to pick her big phone.
The eyes of the second guy snapped. “No, don’t. We’d just wait for her. We want to… surprise her” he smiled, revealing smoke coloured teeth.
Teju dropped her phone, making sure that they saw her do that. She relaxed somewhat nonchalantly against the backrest of her chair, then snapped up, with an audible sigh. “Please excuse me guys”,
Teju’s heart raced wildly as she noticed the fastening of their eyes on her, watching her like a hawk. “I have to visit the convenience” she quickly explained, looking as casual as possible, “but do make yourself comfortable, I’ll be back in a bit”
She turned her back on them, walking towards the bathroom with her heart in her mouth. Her hands were shaking beyond control and she carefully kept them in front of her in order not to give herself away.
Finally, she opened the door of the bathroom and entered, closing the door firmly behind her. She leaned against the door, breathing heavily with her eyes closed. Snapping her eyes open, Teju searched the inner part of her skirt and grabbed the small phone she hid before those men walked in. She knew who those men were. She needed no one to tell her before she knew that she was face to face with assassins. What had she ever done to anyone to warrant this?
Teju swallowed as her shivering hands punched in her husband’s number. She dialed and placed the phone against her ear, turning to stare at the door as though she could see the assassins through it. She hopped nervously as she waited.
“Oh Cal” she whispered immediately she heard her husband’s voice on the other end.
“What’s wrong, baby?”
“Cal, you have to come back here with your bodyguards, police, army, anything” she ranted as she started pacing the bathroom nervously.
“Calm down and tell me what’s wrong” her husband snapped.
“There are two men in my office now, Cal. They look like assassins and I saw one of them with a gun, I am so scared Cal”
“Turn the car around” Mr Pascal bellowed, obviously to his driver. “We’ll be there soon, baby, we are not so far from the plaza. Where are you now?”
“In the toilet” she muttered. “I lied to them, they don’t really know I’m me”
“I don’t understand that but stay in the toilet there, lock yourself up there. Don’t get out, do you hear me?”
“I’ve been here for a while. If I stay longer, they’ll suspect a thing, I’ll go back in. Hurry up” she whispered.
“No, Teju don’t-”
Before her husband could argue, she hung up. She made sure the phone was silenced before hiding it perfectly in the folds of her skirt. She knew her husband wouldn’t agree to her going back in there but she had to go back. On one hand, staying back could alert the assassins that she knew something; the could break the bathroom door and kill her anyways or flee out of danger of being caught. She couldn’t allow any. If anything, she needed to know who hated her so much that he wanted her dead.
She pushed down the flush button of the toilet, took a calming breath and exited the toilet.
“Sorry for keeping you waiting” she murmured, smiling awkwardly.
The faces of the men, if anything, looked more ferocious than before. Teju turned white. They couldn’t have found her out, could they? Her stiff legs carried her to her seat just as shorter of the two guys asked her bluntly.
“Are you sure you are the sister? I never knew Mrs Pascal had a sister” he was looking so impatient, angry even.
“I told you already, I am Peju, my sister is Teju. Why do you need her anyways? Whatever you want to discuss with her, you can also discuss with me” Teju tried to convey bold seriousness but she knew she was failing and they were disbelieving her words more by the minute.
Suddenly, the door of the office opened and the men jumped out of their seats. Teju looked up, surprised that her husband arrived so fast but discovered with horror that it was her secretary. Why was she earlier?
“Madam”, the secretary – Nike – stared into the office, Teju tried her best to communicate with her eyes but her secretary was just too unobservant. She looked surprised to see people in the office. “I’m sorry ma, I didn’t know you had guests, someone is here to see you” she muttered, looking uncomfortable. Teju jumped out of her seat as the men looked from Teju’s secretary to Teju, looking furious.
“She is Teju Pascal” one of them barked.
Teju and Nike chorused. Oh no! I’m dead. Pascal, where are you? Teju yelled internally.
“I told you Mac, I told you she’s lying.” The shorter guy snapped as the other guy brought out his gun. The secretary shrieked and tried to escape. Immediately, Mac fired a shot in her direction, connecting with her upper arm.
Teju’s scream merged with Nike’s as she fell on her face, kneeling before the guys. “Please… please don’t… don’t shoot… don’t kill me, pleeease” she cried guarding her head with her hands.
“Lift your head” Mac snapped and Teju obeyed without a second thought. “Ehen, so you had the guts to lie to us abi?”
“You thought you are smart, but you cannot be smarter than death” he hissed through clenched teeth. “I would have given you the chance to say your last prayers before but you don’t have that grace now. Say hi to the devil when you get there” he said smiling devilishly.
He pulled the trigger.
Timothy stared at his parents with a sober look on his face. “Loveth refused to talk to me” he muttered with a frown.
Bola and George were equally as stunned as Tim was. Now that they thought of it, Loveth hadn’t spoken to Tim ever since they left for the hospital. Could something be wrong? Loveth was always weird, she always thought and acted older than her age demanded.
“I’m sure she was upset over something. Maybe Tessy or Jerry got her angry.” Bola tried to pacify Tim. She didn’t want anything to upset Tim again, not now.
“We’ll call again in the evening, I’m sure she would talk to you then” George added.
Tim shook his head. “She won’t”
Bola and George frowned. “Why? Do you have a quarrel with her?”
Tim shook his head. He knew what she was doing. He knew Loveth so well and he could tell the reason why she didn’t want to speak with him. Many times, Loveth had stunned him with her actions and this was definitely one of those times. But why on earth was she freaking wise?
It took Teju almost a full minute to realise that she was still breathing. She wasn’t dead! In fact, she couldn’t remember hearing a gun shot. She raised her pale face, staring at the shocked faces of the assassins. Mac pulled the trigger again and yet, nothing happened. His companion brought out his gun, trained it on Teju and pulled the trigger, all to no avail. Their faces registered fright as they stared at Teju. Teju still couldn’t process what was going on.
As the assassins started backtracking, the door busted open and policemen filled the office, guns in hand. “Freeze” they yelled at they stumbled over Nike who had obviously passed out. Teju was too frozen to even move a finger.
Mr Pascal rushed into the room, grabbing Teju off the floor and holding her against him. “Oh, thank God…” he murmured breathing heavily like he had been running a marathon race. “Thank God you are alive”
He pulled away from her slightly. “Are you okay, baby?”
Teju stared blankly at him. Her brain was too frozen to even process an answer. ‘What just happened?’
To be continued