**11am** Dayo walked back into the control room smiling. For him, learning something new was good, but learning it from a very beautiful and intelligent lady was extraordinary. He stared more at her face than the computer screen when she was explaining. Her gentle and soft way of speaking made an impact in his heart, he watched as her sexy lips moved while she explained to him and Sylvester.
‘Kimberly E. Alexander,’ he murmured to himself as he proceeded to the seat he previously occupied. He was too lost in his thoughts to notice the gazes that were on him. Henry and the other developer had fixed their eyes on him as he entered noisily and began to bounce to his seat like someone who has just won the star prize of the Young C.c’s Readers’ contest. It was until he sat in front of the computer and looked up that he met with Henry’s gaze. Henry gave a chuckle.
‘What’s up with you?’
‘Nothing sir,’ Dayo answered, surprised seeing the look on his colleagues faces.
‘How can you say nothing?’ Henry’s friend, Frank retorted. ‘You walked out over an hour ago and returned smiling like someone who just finished riding a hot chick.’ Dayo smiled at the nastiness of Frank.
‘I was coming from Mr Sylvester’s office’
‘Mr Sylvester’s office?’ They both asked in unison. Henry faced front and continued with his work.
‘Yes,’ he replied and tried to face the computer set.
‘Hmm…’ Frank cleared his throat and gave Henry a mischievous look.
‘Hope it’s not what I’m thinking?’ He muttered to Henry. His voice was loud enough for Dayo to hear.
‘What’s that you’re thinking?’ Dayo raised his head to ask.
‘Nothing really,’ he said and burst into laughter. ‘It’s just that I’ve not seen anyone come out of that place smiling or laughing. You’re the first I’ve seen, so I’m wondering if the man has become a comedian overnight.’
‘It wasn’t Mr Sylvester that got me smiling. I met his new staff,’ Dayo began. ‘She’s intelligent and beautiful. She’s the one behind his prolongation of the monitoring time’
‘Oh! I see.’ Frank took a quick glance at Dayo as if to look at his face for a confirmation of his words. He turned back quietly to his work.
‘Is she really that good?’ Henry asked, turning back again as he seemed to develop more interest.
‘Yes, she is crazily good.’ Dayo widened his eyes to emphasize his point. ‘Did you see her work on the system?’
‘Yes, she showed I and Mr Sylvester what she did on the system yesterday. That’s why I was there for so long.’ Dayo replied with an excited voice.
‘Okay, maybe I’ll have to see her for myself.’ Henry said and quickly punched some keys on the computer keyboard. ‘Is she’s still in Mr Sylvester’s office?’
‘I left her there.’ Everyone’s attention suddenly turned to the door as it opened. Sylvester popped in his head, his eyes searching the place. His gaze met with Henry’s. He entered and closed the door.
‘Good morning Mr Henry and Mr Frank,’ he greeted with a kind smile.
‘Good morning sir,’ they both replied at the same time.
‘Mr Henry,’ Sylvester called as he got to Henry’s front. The smile on his face was replaced with a serious look. ‘Agent Dakolo just called,’ he said almost in whispers, his voice bearing a warning tone. Henry frowned,
‘what did he say?’
‘He’s coming here, to see you’
‘When and about what?’ Henry asked. Fear gripped his heart at the thought of facing Agent Dakolo again. Maybe the man was finally coming to arrest him for lying about the Jubril’s job, but there was no way the Agent was going to know if he was lying or not except if Sylvester had told him. He shivered at the thought of Agent Dakolo questioning him again, maybe inviting him for a lie detection test this time around. Was he going to get caught for defending Omotara, who was probably somewhere trying to play another fraud on someone else.
The fear of being caught and labeled as dishonest and a person who harbors criminals terrorized his heart. He began to consider if it was really worth it to take the risk hoping that Omotara had changed for a better person or to give up and confess to the Agent with an apology. He was sure that with an explanation, the Agent who was also like a brother to him could help and cover him up.
‘I don’t have that detail, he’s coming to see you personally and he’ll be here in fifteen minutes.’ Sylvester replied.
‘Okay, thank you sir.’
Jefa returned from the market sweating heavily. Of course that was expected due to the stress experienced in the busy local markets on the market days that comes up in an interval of five days. A tricycle had brought him and his goods from the market. He first stopped at his store to drop the goods meant for business which was eighty percent of what he bought. Now he had come home with foodstuffs and other things he bought for home use. He sank into the weak sofa tiredly and let out a deep breath.
Everywhere was silent, except for the sounds of the fan blades which were just accelerating. Jefa closed his eyes to rest a little but soon sank into a deep sleep.
The day was bright and sunny. The sidin singing heard from every corner of the street was enough to announce to an alien that it was Sunday and churches were having their morning services. Jefa was seated in the passengers side of the white Range Rover, Omotara was driving. They both looked happy, dressed in matching white native attires. Jefa was moving slowly to the sound of the worship song being played, Omotara was miming along.
They got into the church compound and Omotara followed the directions of the Traffic Marshals and stopped where they instructed her to. She switched off the AC and killed the car engine. In few seconds, both of them stepped out of the car. It was Thanksgiving Sunday, they could hear the Thanksgiving hymn being led by the choir and sang by the large congregation. Omotara held her tablet device which contained a Bible and writing applications while Jefa preferred to go with a paper Bible, a pen and a notepad.
The ushers welcomed them warmly and handed them the Thanksgiving leaflet before directing them to the available seats. They got comfortable seats close to the centre of the auditorium and dropped their Bibles and gadgets on the chair while they joined the congregation to complete the hymn being sang.
Few minutes later, they were seated and other segments of the service began. Several Thanksgiving verses were read from the Bible and different categories of people are called out to dance round the church and give their Thanksgiving offerings. Omotara and Jefa stood up and joined the group when the coordinator called out those who surrendered their lives to Christ in that year. They had their Thanksgiving envelopes in their hands as they danced to the front of the altar with the other people in their category.
The dancing paused when they got to the front of the pulpit and very few people with outstanding testimonies were called out to share with the rest of the congregation. They dropped their offerings and began to dance back to their seats, Jefa noticed that Omotara was distracted. She had seen something and slowed her dance steps. She was flashing her teeth happily at someone. Jefa glanced at the choir stand and saw Henry seated in front of the keyboard, flashing his teeth back at them happily. He took a hand off the keyboard and waved at them. Omotara and Jefa waved back and faced front.
Just before they passed the front row, they saw another familiar face seated on the second row. He was a government official who had once done them evil, he was shaking his legs to the beat of the song being played. Omotara smiled on seeing him but Jefa was indifferent. Reason being that Omotara had forgiven him and other offenders since she repented but Jefa was still trying to completely forgive them. He silently prayed and confessed words of love under his breath. The government official looked up and met with their gazes. His smile diminished, in fact, he was visibly shaken. Omotara and Jefa ignored him and kept dancing back to their seats.
The church service ended two hours later and some church members began to depart to their homes immediately while most began to greet themselves and break into groups. Omotara politely excused herself from Jefa and made her way to the choir stand to meet Henry. She met him about standing up from the keyboard. There were three people arranging chairs in front of him, they were those who wanted to learn how to play the keyboard.
‘Hi,’ Henry greeted with a smile on seeing her. He excused himself from the learners and proceeded towards Omotara.
‘Hello,’ Omotara replied his greetings, with a smile too.
‘I was just planning to come and greet you and your brother before you leave.’ Henry gestured for them to walk to the back.
‘No, don’t bother.’ She refused politely. ‘Don’t keep your students waiting, I’ll extend your greetings to my brother’
‘Hehe’ Henry chuckled. He was staring at something behind her. She glanced back to see. Jefa was walking towards them, making funny faces. She gave way as he moved closer and had a handshake with Henry.
‘Good morning sir,’ Henry bowed in respect.
‘Good morning Henry,’ Jefa replied. He placed his hands behind him and took glances at the faces of both of them. The way he was looking at them made Henry bow his head in shyness. ‘When are you guys getting married?’ He threw a surprising question. Omotara stared at her brother with her mouth agape.
‘Married? Who told you we are planning to get married?’ She asked.
‘I don’t need an Angel to tell me that, I can perceive it in my spirit.’ Jefa replied with a smile. He turned to Henry whose face was still bowed. ‘You’re the man, talk to me.’ He said and gave Henry a playful jab on his arm.
‘Brother, come on leave him and let’s go.’ Omotara said playfully and grabbed her brother’s arm. ‘You bring a wife to the altar first, then you can now talk about me.’ She held Jefa’s hand and turned to look at Henry’s face. ‘We’ll be leaving now, I’ll call you when we get home’
‘Let me see you…’ Henry tried to offer.
‘No need,’ Tarasha cut in. ‘Go back to your students.’ She gestured with her eyebrows for him to look back. He glanced back to meet the eyes of his waiting students all fixed on him.
‘Alright then, we’ll talk later.’ He said and waved them bye. Jefa offered him another handshake before turning back to leave. Henry stood on the same spot and watched them walk out of the auditorium holding hands together. The smile on his face was that of a proud man. He was proud he had being able to help the two of them become better persons. Now they looked happier than they used to be.
In ten minutes time, Omotara was already driving out of the church compound with her brother. The plan was to visit the nearest Mr Biggs outlet and take a meal there since they couldn’t wait to eat before coming to church in the morning. They spotted the closest one and stopped by to take the meal. In another thirty five minutes, they were on their way home. It was after fifteen minutes of driving that Omotara began to notice a black Lexus 2031 model Jeep following them from behind. She kept mute and said nothing to her brother, wanting to verify first in order not to make a false alarm to the unsuspecting man.
‘Where’s this you’re going?’ He asked when she took a route which doesn’t lead to their home. She didn’t reply him, but he could see that her eyes were fixed on the side mirror. He looked back to check what it was.
‘Are they following us?’
‘Definitely, they are.’ She replied.
‘What? Who could that be and why…’ He paused while counting the number of men in the Jeep, two men were seated in front while one was at the back.
‘Three of them, why are they following us?’ He asked no one in particular, he was sure that Omotara was quite as confused as he was. The roads in that estate was not too busy with cars that day as it was Sunday. So there was no car obstructing the Jeep from them. Omotara increased the speed of their car. The trailers increased theirs too.
Soon, they began to hear gunshots from behind. Omotara did all she could to hasten their escape but it was futile. The two tyres at the back of the car were deflated wth bullets by the men. Omotara’s driving skills helped her bring their car to a stop, else it would have resulted to an accident, but maybe an accident would have been better.
The Jeep caught up with them and two men came out. One of them remained in the car, it was the same government official they had seen in the church. The two scary looking men came out with their guns in their hands. They pulled Jefa and Omotara out of the car. The government official soon came to join his boys. Other motorists and pedestrians on the road has turned back and fled on seeing what was happening.
‘Kill the man and bring me the girl.’ He commanded in an evil tone and turned back to the Jeep. One of the men cocked his gun and pointed it straight at Jefa’s forehead. Jefa could hear Omotara screaming and begging for pity as the bullet was released
. … ~~~ ~~~
Henry ushered Agent Dakolo politely into his office, he opened the door and waited for the man to walk in before closing it. He pointed to the visitor’s seat and turned round his table to take his seat. He quickly cleared up some documents on his table and faced Dakolo, ready for the interrogation. He was prepared for Dakolo, ready to save Omotara from him but prepared to do it wisely. He was going to say everything he knows about her as a friend if they ever discovered that they were.
But he wasn’t going to tell him of his personal discovery he made about her being a fraudster. He had also changed the system evidence he had for his investigation about the Canadian number. He then sold a lie to Sylvester, about how he made a mistake in the investigation, that the number was really Canadian. He knew that Sylvester did not swallow the lie but he felt less concerned about it since he had changed the system evidence. That way he could get himself out of any coming trouble as he was just a private investigator who was doing his job. He was only a bit worried about Sylvester’s new volunteer staff. With the way her intelligence and competence was talked about. She may be able to provide evidence of the number being fake. He didn’t think it was necessary to go and see her again, after he had heard about Dakolo’s coming. He was now thinking of a way to make Sylvester stop her from working any longer with him, before she puts him in trouble.
Dakolo stared around the office quietly, not minding Henry’s eagerness for him to start the questioning. After satisfying his eyes, he turned back to Henry. He placed his elbow on the armrest of the chair and rested his chin on his palm as he stared straight into Henry’s face. Henry was uncomfortable, he could not understand the meaning of Dakolo’s stare but the look on the agent’s face suggested that he was disappointed in Henry for something Henry had done.
‘Henry,’ Dakolo finally began after two minutes of silence, he sat up and rested his back properly.
‘Sir,’ Henry replied in low tones, trying to avoid meeting the man’s gaze.
‘Who is Alexander Evelyn?’ Dakolo asked his first question. Henry was silent for some seconds. He knew Dakolo had found out something else and that was the reason for the question. After much contemplation, he finally spoke.
‘She’s my friend.’
‘Your friend?’ Dakolo’s eyes widened in surprise. He was not surprised that Henry knew her but he was surprised at the endearing manner by which Henry called her his friend.
‘Yes, my friend sir.’ Henry insisted.
‘For how long have you known her?’
‘It’s not up to a month yet,’ Henry answered.
‘How and where did you meet her?’
‘I met her in Abuja, we ran into each other in a computer gadgets store’
‘And you became friends since then?’
‘Our friendship did not start immediately, we still had other encounters after that’
‘When did you finally become friends?’ Henry scratched his head a little, trying to remember the exact time they started talking,
‘About a week or two after the first encounter.’
‘Was your encounter after or before you started investigating her?’ Henry raised his eyebrows,
‘investigating her? I didn’t do anything like that.’ Dakolo licked his lips and chuckled,
‘Henry, you want to tell me that you are not aware she owns the Canadian number you were sent to investigate?’
‘The client never gave me the owner’s information, he only told me to verify the number’
‘Okay, and you didn’t get the customer’s information?’
‘I wasn’t asked to, so I didn’t go that far’
‘I see…’ Dakolo nodded his head slowly as he tried to process all Henry had told him and come up with a new question. Henry seemed confident about his answers, he thought. Maybe he was also a victim and Evelyn Alexander had only used him for her operation.
‘How close were you to Evelyn?’ Dakolo started again.
‘Very close. We got so close to each other within a short while.’ Henry replied.
‘How close? A romantic kind of close?’ Dakolo asked, gesturing with his hands.
‘Kind of,’ Henry reluctantly answered. ‘We got as close as that sometimes.’ Dakolo paused and rested his hands on Henry’s table. He narrowed his gaze and continued.
‘Are you in love with her?’ Henry was made temporarily dumb by the question. He didn’t know what answer to give, he didn’t even have the answer. He wasn’t sure if the passion he felt for her wasn’t something more than love.
‘I don’t know,’ he finally answered. Dakolo smiled for the first time that day. He took out his Android device and unlocked it. He operated on it for few seconds before dropping it on the table.
‘I found out from the file of your kidnap case that she was the same person that you were kidnapped with,’ Dakolo continued.
‘Yes, she was’
‘And you led them all the way to her in Elymax hotel to pick her.’
‘Yes, they were disguised as policemen. They also had similar ID cards to that of the police.’
‘Why didn’t you call someone to report of your arrest?’
‘My phone was seized, they didn’t allow me call anyone.’
‘Oh true! I read that also,’ Dakolo said, picking up his device again.
‘Your kidnap, do you think Evelyn knew nothing about it?’
‘She couldn’t have known anything, she was also a victim.’
‘But the way you escaped from them is still illogical. The explanation you gave doesn’t really make sense. You said you were unconscious?’
‘Yes, I was.’
‘And then she told you that the assassins fought amongst themselves?’
‘Yes.’ Dakolo smiled again. He read something quickly to himself from his device and dropped it on the table. The smile on his face gave way for a serious look.
‘Were you aware that Evelyn was working with Chief Jubril Lawal?’ Henry thought of lying, but that would only complicate issues for him. He decided to say the truth but hide the extra details.
‘Yes, she told me. The day before we were kidnapped, I was with her when Dare Lawal also came to see her.’
‘Did you know before that time that they knew each other?’
‘No, I was just getting to know Evelyn.’
‘Okay, what happened that day?’
‘Dare came in and met us seated together in the restaurant. He was furious and couldn’t wait, he rushed away from the place immediately’
‘And did she follow him?’
‘No, she stayed with me. I told her my story.’
‘And how did she react?’
‘Ermm… Just the way every other person would react.’ Henry replied, consciously omitting the information about her “God outburst” and her story which she also told him.
‘Okay… When then did she tell you about her business with Chief Jubril?’
‘After I told her my story.’
‘And wasn’t that the same day you were given the job to investigate the number?’
‘Did you by any chance mention to her about the job?’
‘No, I wasn’t even aware that the job was for Jubril Lawal then’
‘And you think she didn’t find out in any other way, before or after that day?’
‘I don’t think so, she never mentioned a word about it to me and I never did also.’
‘Okay, so you were kidnapped the next day and didn’t spend up to twenty four hours with the kidnappers?’
‘Don’t you think the kidnap is related to Chief Jubril’s job?’
‘No, the main suspects I have is Dare Lawal and Samantha Osman.’
‘Yes, then I was on her case and I thought it could be her team that carried out the kidnap.’ Dakolo gave a brief laugh at Henry’s last words. Henry was now sounding more like a victim of circumstance to him now. He wondered how Henry would feel if he hears that Evelyn could have been Samantha.
‘But right now, who do you think it was?’
‘I don’t know’
‘We now know your kidnappers,’ Dakolo announced, he saw Henry’s face brighten up a little. ‘But they are all dead,’ he added. Henry looked confused.
‘Yes, but the strange thing is that they all died in the same events centre that Jubril Lawal and Dare died. They were murdered by the same assassin group.’ Dakolo sighed and picked up his device again. He opened it and clicked some commands in.
‘Henry,’ Dakolo called softly in readiness to ask the main question. He was sure in his heart of Henry’s innocence about the assassination but as a detective, he couldn’t let his heart deceive him, he must throw his questions as strict and professional as possible even if he had an emotional attachment to the interrogatee. ‘Did you attend Chief Jubril’s birthday party?’ His face had lost all his smiles, warning Henry not to try denying the truth. If Henry would deny his presence in the party, then it meant that Dakolo’s heart had been deceiving him, Henry was surely working for Samantha’s group and all his innocent way of answering questions was just an act. Henry stopped to think for some seconds. He thought of answering no since he wasn’t an invitee but just accompanied Omotara to the event. No one knew about his attendance, so it was better if he hid it completely. He cleared his throat.
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Jefa grabbed his chest as he felt like a sword just pierced through his heart. He was panting heavily and sweating profusely despite the high speed of the fan blades. He fell on his knees, still feeling the pain in his chest, and trying to fathom what happened to him. It was all a dream. He rubbed his sweaty forehead with his hand and got up. He tried to stretch his body, the pain was reducing slowly. After stretching, he sat back and began to ponder what the dream could mean. This was the second dream he was having in recent times and the both dreams had ended badly. Does it mean that reuniting with Omotara will bring them ill luck? Then if that was the case, he was ready to give up reuniting with her. It was better for them to go on with their lives the way they have been living and for him to act as if he hadn’t seen her.
He took out his phone and searched for Henry’s number. He stared at it for some seconds before deleting it from the phone memory.
‘Thank you ma,’ the visitor’s appreciated as Mrs Attahiru ushered them into her office.
‘Please, have your seats.’ She pointed them to the three seats already prepared for them and turned to sit on her own swivel.
‘Thank you,’ Mr Alfred, the elderly man who led the team appreciated once again.
‘You’re welcome,’ Mrs Attahiru gave a warm smile. She was dressed neatly in a black skirt suit, looking smarter than other elderly women of her age. She had an eyeglass with think lenses on. Her dark hair was plaited neatly in a traditional style, it was obvious that the hair was dyed as it look too black and without grey strands for a woman of her age. ‘I was glad when we were informed that we were going to have Nigerian representatives from your organization,’ the woman began with a smile. ‘It’s good to have sons of the soil relate with us. I believe you’ll be more passionate about people in your own country.’
‘Actually ma, we were the ones who initiated this project.’ Mr Alfred joined cheerfully. ‘We pushed in Nigeria when the organization was trying to select an African country.’
‘Wow! That’s what I’m talking about. I know you guys would have more passion for your country.’ She remarked happily.
‘Yes ma, there are lots of needs in our country and we recognize that. That’s why we mentioned your foundation which is recognized for the good works it has carried out all over Africa.’
‘Nice, I hope we’ll have a great time working with you.’
‘You’ll surely do ma.’ Mr Alfred assured with a kind smile. ‘Like we agreed before ma, we’ll carry out the distribution this Saturday. We have the funds available already. All we need is to do it under the name of your organization. The bags of rice would be ready tomorrow. But I don’t know how ready your team is for inspection.’
‘Humm… We may not really need to do so much inspection.’ She said, adjusting her eyeglass. ‘The supplier is a partner of ours and we are sure of their quality, we’ll just do a brief overview.’
‘That’s okay, deal done then.’ Mr Alfred and his whole team smiled.
‘Yes.’ Mrs Attahiru joined them.
‘One more thing ma,’ Mr Alfred quickly added. Mrs Attahiru paused to pay attention. ‘We’ve been thinking of organizing a conference here in Nigeria in collaboration with your organization. We want to use the conference to inspire the wealthy citizens towards devoting their time to helping the less privileged in the society.’
‘Wow! That’s a nice idea.’ Mrs Attahiru’s face brightened up.
‘We’ll be glad to work with you on that.’
‘Thanks.’ ‘Yeah but ermm…’ She paused as a thought came into her mind. ‘How are you planning to achieve that? You know that the wealthy people in our society may snub conferences like that giving excuses of their busy schedule. Most of them may see it as a fund raising event and just send peanuts to our account without coming for the conference itself.’ Mr Alfred smiled,
‘We are aware of that challenge ma and we have a plan to fix it already.’
‘Can you share the plan?’ Mrs Attahiru seemed excited.
‘Simple! We are going to be inviting elites from other countries whose charity works have been laudable. When those in Nigeria hear of the top profile people coming, who are far wealthier than they are, they won’t be able to snub the conference.’
‘Hmm…’ Mrs Attahiru was speechless. Mr Alfred chuckled,
‘it’s a huge program that’ll require a lot of money but we are ready to fund it. Some of our partners in Europe are also ready to provide maximum support.’
‘Nice,’ Mrs Attahiru was visibly wowed by their plan.
‘We’ll need something important ma,’ Mr Alfred quickly put in, acting like it just came into his mind.
‘This project is a huge project and we’ll need a lot of support from the government. We’ll like to meet with the Senate President who is your son and relay this plan to him.’ …
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to be continued