Tarasha wiped her face with her handkerchief as she relayed her story to him. Henry moved closer and drew her body nearer to his. He engaged her in a tight hug as tears dropped off his eyes too. ‘You had such a bad past, I’m sorry for bringing back those memories’ he said as he placed a hand on her back. ‘But God can help you forgot those memories and focus on the future’ Evelyn moved her head from his chest and stared into his eyes angrily. She gradually removed herself from his grip and got up in a hurry. ‘I’m sorry, but I was just saying the truth.’ He stood up, watching as she put on her shoes hurriedly.
‘Look, you can’t blame God for what some evil men did’ She proceeded towards the door without paying attention to him anymore. He followed after her and held her bag to stop her. She turned to look into his face. ‘I don’t know how you feel Evelyn, but I know you must feel very bad’ Henry said in a calm tone. ‘But God didn’t send those men to your family’
‘Then why didn’t he save my family from them?’ Evelyn screamed as she dragged her bag from him. ‘Why didn’t he save us from them?’ Henry stood speechless for a moment and watched as she barged out of the house and hurried away.
‘Let me drive you home’ he shouted and followed after her again when he regained himself. She has walked away into the darkness already.
8am, next morning Jubril Lawal had just walked into his office with his personal assistant when his phone began to ring. His P.A handed the phone to him. The call was from an international number. Jubril settled into the swivel before answering the call.
‘Hello Mr. Jubril’ a mixed kind of accent was used to answer him. ‘How are you doing today sir?’
‘I’m fine. May I know who’s on the line ….’
‘Oh! Pardon me. I thought you were expecting my call. I’m Alexander Amaechi, director, AA Ltd Canada’ the voice came bolder.
‘Oh! Good morning Mr Alex’ Jubril spoke cheerfully. ‘I wasn’t expecting the call so early’
‘Oh! I prefer to do it early if it’s business’ the caller said a chuckle. ‘My daughter told me about your discussion with her and I showed interest in speaking with you directly, she gave me your mobile number’
‘Yes, she told me that I should expect a call from you’
‘Good. I started a little research about you from the day she told me about your company’ the man continued in his baritone voice. ‘I’m a Nigerian myself’ there was a pause. ‘But I was a little bit disturbed when she told me about coming to Nigeria for the cotton business. It’s not easy to do business with Nigerians nowadays especially when it’s a Young person. I didn’t want her to fall into wrong hands’
‘I understand’ Jubril replied with a smile. ‘I had a little research about you too, I wanted to be sure of what I’m getting into’
‘Well… I believe you’re the right man. I’ll be speaking to her from time to time. The monies needed for any transaction would be transferred from the AA account at any time’
‘Okay, you agreed to fund her deal’
‘No, the monies we’re dealing with is for her, she saved it up’
‘Oh! I see’
‘I must commend you. You really did a great job in bringing her up, she’s a very focused young lady’
‘Hmm, Thank you. I’m always very proud of her’
‘Well, I’ll talk to you later ‘
‘It’s okay’ Jubril said and dropped his phone. He made a signal to his P.A who motioned forward.
‘Trace that number for me, find out who owns it.’ He handed the phone to the P.A. The P.A gave him a puzzled look. ‘Find an expert who can do that, I didn’t mean you should do it yourself’ Chief Jubril fired at him.
‘Okay’ the P.A replied timidly after which Jubril dismissed him with a wave of the hand.
‘How far?’ Benny asked as Cole ended the call.
‘Good, went as planned’ Cole answered standing to his feet.
‘No true caller application can detect where and who the call was from’ he boasted as he walked towards the TV to switch it on.
‘I trust you but I don’t trust that voice disguiser, I almost recognised your voice when we tested it’ Benny said.
‘We tested it at a close range, it could misbehave. But you still said my voice sounded more like an older man’
‘That’s enough for us, the man doesn’t know me before so he can’t even detect any resemblance to anyone’s voice.’ Cole returned to the sofa.
‘I believe so’ Benny gave a light smile.
‘Has the boss called you still?’
‘No, she hasn’t’ Cole answered with a frown. He picked his phone from the stool.
‘It’s strange of her not to pick her calls, since yesterday evening’
‘Hope everything is fine with her’
‘Sure, nothing can be wrong’ Cole sniffed as he dialed her number again. He stared at Benny.
‘It’s switched off now’
‘Switched off? I hope nothing has gone wrong’ Benny frowned.
‘I’m sure she’ll call us soon, don’t bother your mind.’ Cole concluded. He smacked his lips and rubbed his palms together as Aisha walked into the living room, he was expecting an announcement about breakfast Aisha stared at both of them curiously, wondering why they stopped talking when she appeared.
‘What are you guys hiding?’ Cole and Benny laughed in unison.
‘Hiding what?’ Benny asked.
‘Please is breakfast ready?’
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Henry dialed Evelyn’s phone number for the thirtieth time that morning, it was still switched off. He rested his back into the office seat and loosened his tie. His mind had been unsettled since the last night when she left his apartment. He had driven after her in a bid to catch up with her on the street and drive her home but she wasn’t found, she just disappeared into thin air. He began to feel guilty and wasn’t going to forgive himself if anything happened to her.
He stared at his phone, confused about what to do. He thought of going back to the hotel to ask about her but he had only little information about her. The only thing he knew was her first name. He got up and took off his suit jacket and hung it on the rack by the wall after which he began to pace around the office. The landline on his table rang.
‘Hello.’ He answered the call.
‘Hello Mr Henry’ Sylvester’s voice came through. ‘I’m sending someone to your office right now, he has a job for us and I think only you can handle it well’
‘Okay… Send him in’ Henry replied after a brief moment of hesitation.
‘Right away’ the line went off. Henry put another call through to his secretary after putting back on his jacket and knotting his tie.
‘Hello, someone is coming from Mr Sylvester now, please send him as soon as he gets there’ Someone pressed the bell two minutes later.
‘You may come in’ Henry answered. A tall dark man in a black suit walked in smiling. He looked like someone in his early forties. Henry rose to greet him.
‘Good morning sir’ Henry stretched his hand to shake him.
‘Good morning Mr Henry, I’m Debo Ola’ the Man introduced himself as he took the handshake.
‘I’m pleased to meet you sir, please have your seat’ Henry motioned him.
‘Thank you’ the man settled down.
‘Yeah, Mr Sylvester said you have a job for us’
‘Yes’ the man replied, pushing a paper forward on the table. ‘Here is it’ Henry picked it up to look at it.
‘This is a mobile number. Canadian right?’
‘Yes, Canadian. It has the Canadian code but we’re doubting the authenticity. That’s why I’ve come to you’ Debo replied.
‘What’s the reason for the doubt?’ Henry asked and began to scribble the number into a notepad. ‘I mean it looks authentic to me’
‘It’s the number of one of our invisible business partners’ Debo explained. ‘We need to verify if we’re discussing with the right person or someone is just playing tricks with us’ Henry gave him a stern look.
‘But do you know that this is illegal? You’re asking for confidential details of someone which shouldn’t be released’ The man dipped his hand into his suit inner pocket and brought out his ID card.
‘I’m a private investigator approved by the government’ he displayed the card to Henry.
‘Okay then, just a minute.’ Henry turned to his computer after confirming the man’s identity. After seven minutes, he turned back to the man.
‘The number is really Canadian but I’ve not been able to verify the owner’
‘Okay. But is it possible?’
‘Yes, it is. I only need to get data from the network bearer in Canada. It may take us sometime and cost us some money’
‘How long will it take?’ The man enquired.
‘Three days should be okay’ Henry replied with so much positivity. ‘As far as the authorities cooperate and provide us what we request for’
‘Okay, how much will it cost?’
‘Five hundred thousand naira should do’
‘Five hundred thousand?’ Debo looked surprised.
‘Yes’ Henry replied unperturbed. ‘We would be charged by any of their authorities we pass through’
‘But it’s kind of much, It’s okay’ The man said, dipping his hand into his bag. He brought out his cheque book and began to write in it. ‘I should write it payable to who?’ The man asked after signing.
‘Ermm… I think Mr Sylvester would handle that’
‘Alright.’ Debo returned the cheque book and pen into his bag.
‘Is there any other thing left?’ Henry asked.
‘Nothing, I only want to be assured that we’ll get the report in three days’
‘You will, I assure you’
‘Okay.’ Debo rose to his feet. ‘I have to go now’
‘Alright’ Henry rose too and shook hands with the man again.
‘Thank you Mr Henry’
‘You’re welcome.’ With that Debo walked out of the office. Henry sat back into his chair and stared at the number on his notepad for a while. He wanted to begin work on it but he felt restless. His thoughts immediately drifted back to Evelyn. Without much thinking again, he grabbed his car key and proceeded out of the office.
A police Hyundai sonata parked right beside the cameras security office. A young officer came out of the car thirty seconds later and proceeded to the gate. He met the security man in charge.
‘Good morning sir’ the young officer greeted.
‘Good morning officer’ the security man answered.
‘I’m Officer Paul from Division A’ he said, displaying his ID card. ‘I want to know if there’s any Henry working in this organization’
‘I’m sorry Inspector, I don’t have the right to release such information’ The young officer laughed. He dipped his hand into his pocket and brought out a card.
‘Why are you hiding a criminal? We found his national ID card in a crime scene yesterday’ he displayed the card to him. The security man opened his mind in shock.
‘Yes, we have one and that’s him. He’s inside’
‘No, we don’t want to arrest him now. We want to trace him to his accomplices’ the young officer tucked in the card into his pocket. ‘What kind of car does he use?’
‘He has different cars but he brought a blue Honda accord today’
‘When does he close from work?’
‘Okay, here’s our number’ the officer handed a card to the security man. ‘Please call us anytime he’s leaving this premises’
‘No problem, I will’
‘We’re watching you, don’t try to aid his escape.’ The young officer warned with a crooked smile before he turned and returned to the car. He was satisfied that he could put fear in the older man’s heart. He got into the back seat where Afo was also sitting down, dressed in the police uniform also.
‘How did it go?’ Afo asked.
‘Fine, the man’s gonna call us. He says Henry uses a blue Honda’
‘Did he notice anything about the fake national identity card and was the picture correct?’
‘He couldn’t have noticed anything and the picture is the right one. I sent it to Dare for confirmation after I downloaded it from Facebook’
‘Good’ Afo applauded after which he picked up his phone and dialed a number.
‘Hello… Has the girl come out of the hotel at all?’
Evelyn finally got up from the bed after what seemed like the longest night she had had in several years. She stood up and stretched, she felt a little at peace than she did the last night. The only thing that still kept the event still fresh in her brain was a sharp headache she felt.
She clenched her teeth as she walked to the window and opened the blind. A strange anger against herself was welling up as her head continued to bang. It was wrong for her to feel headaches. It had been ten years ago she had one, at least not one that made her feel as terrible as this. She was sure that it was a result of the emotional stress she went through last night. But how did the emotions return, she thought they had died long ago? She couldn’t describe what she felt when Henry spoke with her.
Her mind raced back to the feeling she had when she stared into his eyes as he narrated his story. She had tried to deny the feeling before but she felt it again now as she remembered the faint glow in his eyes. She rebuked herself and turned away from the window, she was not supposed to be thinking of him, a total stranger who was only going to be used in the course of her operation. The only right thing for her to think about was the operation.
She suddenly remembered her phone as she sat back on the bed. She quickly looked for the bag she went out with the last night and picked it out. It was switched off.
‘D–n!’ She cursed. It was supposed to be always on as she was expecting a call from Jubril Lawal. The first three messages that entered when the phone came on were from MTN, her network bearer. The fourth message was from Henry. She closed her eyes and dropped the phone as she saw his name. His face popped up in her mind again.
Wait! Did she tell him the story of her family’s massacre? How did he get her to do so? She clenched her fists and opened her eyes, it was bloodshot. Her phone call distracted her. …
to be continued