Location : Gravl Avenue, Ikeja Lagos.
‘Tarasha, I’ve been expecting you.’ Chief Gab looked up as she walked into the small living room he met with her some days ago. ‘I thought you weren’t coming today anymore.’ he said as he rose up from the two seater sofa.
She approached him and received the handshake he offered to her. ‘I’m sorry Chief, I couldn’t come by air today because it might be unsafe and I also had to do some things around town before coming here.’
She was dressed in a simple fashion. A grey top on a black jean trousers, shredded slightly at both knees. She had a bag hanging from her shoulder slantingly down and the weight resting on one side of her waist.
‘It’s okay, please sit.’ he said and sat back into the sofa. She pulled out a tablet device from her bag and sat right beside him.
‘So when are you leaving the country?’ she asked.
‘I’m leaving very early tomorrow morning and that’s why I was eager to meet you tonight and tell you what you asked me for.’ the man replied, looking at her face.
The feeling was odd. They had never been so close, on the same seat, without so much space between them. The arrangement was like a father and daughter discussion and it made Chief Gab remember his children and his first wife, the family he lost several years ago in the fight for his life. He had given up on life then but somehow his life refused to end and he made it out of prison alive.
For a second, he remembered his late daughter, she would have been a few years older than Tarasha if she were alive but the enemies took her, her siblings and her mother.
‘So, what do you have for me?’ Tarasha asked. She noticed tears in the man eyes, he turned to wipe it off. A mocking smile appeared on her face and she chuckled. She understood it was her closeness to him that stirred the emotion. ‘Hey! I’m getting you emotional?’ she said as she got up from the seat. ‘Badass like you, but not lewd, that’s strange.’
She moved away and sat at the one seater adjacent his seat. He had surprised her with the tears. She sat beside him for the purpose of ease when using her tablet device for their discussion. The normal feeling that got stirred in the other men she tried it with was lust, but they wouldn’t make any attempt because of the graveness of the discussion.
‘Sorry about that but I just remembered my family, the ones Elvis and his friends killed.’ Chief Gab said in a voice filled with emotions. ‘Can I make a request?’
She raised a brow. ‘Yea?’
‘Can you come back here?’ he asked, referring to the seat she left.
She gave him a weird look. Then a scornful smile appeared on her face and she let out a mocking laugh. She imagined how he felt and found it funny that he wanted to have her sit close to him like a family member. However, she got up and granted his request. It felt weird. She could feel him hold his breath. She suddenly began to feel pity for him and wished she could return his feelings. But she chuckled again on a second thought, it was funny and strange to her. Then the mockery on her face disappeared, she suddenly remembered what it felt like loosing a family.
‘Did you have a daughter?’ she asked.
‘Yes, I did.’
Tarasha thought for a moment and then looked at him again. ‘Would you have sent her to kill like me if she was alive?’
There was silence. All the emotions suddenly disappeared. Chief Gab returned to his normal crooked self. He got up and let out a scornful laughter as he walked towards the window. He considered himself as wicked and deserving wickedness but he was damn sure Elvis Richards had no right to the happiness and good life he was enjoying as the Vice President. His determination to see Elvis Richards die a terrible death was rekindled again.
‘I was doing all I did to secure a future for my family,’ he said, turning towards her. ‘But what I do today is what Elvis Richards turned me to.’
Tarasha turned on the tablet device in her hands. ‘Let’s go back to business. We agreed you’ll do a check on the Doctor for me.’
‘Yes, I did. I found out where he lives now and I have the address with me,’ Chief Gab paused and took some steps closer. ‘But I was wrong about some of the things I said.’
‘Does he live in Lagos?’
‘No, he stays in Nnewi, that’s where he moved to after his retirement. I also heard he divorced his wife a year before retiring, all these he did secretly.’
‘Nnewi, is that in the East?’
‘Yes, Anambra State precisely. He has several houses in Anambra State, but the one he resides is in Nnewi. He has a Hospital in Ngozika Estate.’
‘What else did you find out?’
‘Well, good enough. I converted some of the documents you sent and I have three here,’ she got up and sat on the arm of the chair. She placed the device on her lap and began to scroll. ‘I need clarification on two of them and I need you to make changes to one.’
Just as Cole turned off the engine, the phone placed on the seat beside him began to ring. He smiled on seeing the caller’s ID and quickly reached for the phone.
‘I just drove in now,’ he said into the phone.
‘Okay, I wanted to find out if you have gotten home.’
‘Thank you, just allow me settle in, we’ll chat better.’
‘Yea, I’ll send you a message.’
He hung up and squeezed the phone in his palm. He closed his eyes and let out a breath. His fingers reached for his lips to check if they were swollen. He had not kissed anyone so passionately like he did with her that night.
From the creamery, they had moved to the night park, holding hands as they walked. They spent time together on the decorated bamboo seat, enjoying the gentle breeze and the scent of the atmosphere. There, she had laid his head on his chest and whispered that she loved him too. This kiss started, gently but it became fiercer. They would have proceeded to something deeper if they weren’t in public. Cole wanted all of her and couldn’t get her out his mind.
He wondered how the EasyShoppers girl who he had seen as a cheap slut at first and only wanted to have a taste of her ‘rich assets’ had now taken complete control of his mind.
‘You didn’t stay overnight today?’
Cole looked up at the sound of the voice and a sudden sadness overcame him as he met Tomi at the balcony of the house.
‘What’s your business with when I come in?’ he asked as he approached the main door.
‘I’m just showing care, is that wrong?’ she asked in a defensive voice.
‘Thank you but it’s not necessary,’ he said and stopped in front of her. She was blocking the entrance.
Both stared at his other’s faces for a moment.
‘I’ve missed you Cole,’ Tomi said, folding her lips in.
‘We see everyday, why should you miss me?’ he tried to move forward but she still stood in his way. ‘What’s the matter?’
She frowned. ‘You are the matter,’ she said accusingly. ‘Am I not good enough? Why are going to meet other girls outside?’
Cole stopped to look at her, he shook his head and let out a chuckle. ‘What makes you think I met any other girl outside?’
‘I don’t have to think before I know, I can perceive a lady’s perfume all over your body.’
Cole blinked at the revelation. He couldn’t perceive what she talked about but he knew Patricia’s perfume was good enough to have rubbed up on him.
‘I do different girls at the clubs and brothels, you’ve always known me, haven’t you? Why is it a problem for you now?’
Tomi shrugged. ‘Well, it’s not my problem. But I know you’re not coming from the club.’ she stopped and looked up at the sky as if to check the time. ‘This time is too early to come from the club and I know the smell of someone from the club,’ she raised her nose. ‘If you went to the club truly, you’d be smelling of beer, cigarettes and maybe weed, Cole, I know you.’
Cole was shaking his head already in disgust. ‘Tomi, let me go in. I’m very tired.’
She stared at him for a moment, hissed and finally gave way for him to pass. He walked into the house, leaving her standing at the entrance with her arms folded across her chest.
‘Is there any problem?’ Henry was approaching the entrance and met Cole walking in. He was attracted by their voices at the door.
‘Nothing bro,’ Cole sighed and walked on while Henry proceeded to the door to meet Tomi who still stood there sulking.
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Jumoke’s residence, Lagos.
‘Damn! The guy is sick, he keeps annoying me more everyday.’ Dave smiled as he read the new WhatsApp message. He adjusted himself properly and began to type a reply with the phone in his right hand.
He was in the bed with Jumoke, both of them naked under the sheet. She had her head resting on his chest and her hands wrapped around him. She seemed to be sleeping peacefully.
‘He must have done stupid things for you to complain so bitterly,’ he sent his reply with a ‘grin’ smiley.
‘He wouldn’t allow me breath, his mouth was all over mine and he wasn’t willing to stop.’ her reply entered seconds after.
Dave felt a bit uncomfortable with her message. He wondered why she was describing the kiss and hoped she wasn’t going to proceed to what was done in the bed, if that ever happened. That was the awkward nature of their job. He himself was with someone else and had done worse with her body in the last few minutes.
Their bosses never encouraged sexual acts directly during course of an undercover investigation, in fact they publicly condemned it and called it immoral but would still go ahead to give them tactics and targets that could only be achieved through it.
He replied her message with a smiley carrying a blank expression. She was typing already when the words to send came to his mind.
‘He requested for us to meet again tomorrow but I told him I’ll be busy till Saturday.’ her message entered before he could finish typing his message.
He quickly deleted the words he already typed as they weren’t appropriate anymore.
‘That’s fair enough. I hope it wasn’t too stressful today combining your work with his date.’ he typed and sent.
‘Not bad though, I’ll be busier tomorrow.’
‘Okay, it’s good you refused his offer for tomorrow but did you make any progress?’
‘Not really, but I made an attempt.’
‘Can you brief me about it?’
‘I got to use his phone today, I pretended I liked it and wanted to see the features. He unlocked it for me but he didn’t stay away from me for long, except when he got up to pay the bills. So I was only able to check through the contacts and I didn’t find any other person’s number except mine.’ Her reply entered but it was signified below that she was still typing.
‘That means he doesn’t use the phone for anything else except you.’ Dave sent while she still typed the continuation.
‘I also saw the protection seal icon, I think he just put his sim in the phone and as long as that sim is there, we can’t track him with it anymore.’ her message entered and another followed immediately after. ‘Yes, he uses the phone to communicate with me only.’
‘Okay, I understand why I couldn’t track him earlier today when he was calling you.’
Dave started to type again when the lady lying on his body turned.
‘What are you doing?’ she rose up and sat on his waist region, displaying her bare chest to him.
‘Just replying some few emails,’ he replied and quickly exited the messaging app. He dropped the phone beside the pillow.
Her fingers were caressing his chest again. It seemed she was ready for another round. He stopped her hands and pulled her face closer instead, covering her mouth with his.
He let her go after some minutes. ‘You were supposed to tell me something about Samantha Osman,’ he reminded her.
The atmosphere changed immediately. She climbed down the bed and walked to the water dispenser to take a cup of water. Dave sat up and stared at her while she gulped it down.
She covered herself with a towel before she began to talk. ‘Samantha Osman was here once,’ she began with a shocker.
‘Huh? Where?’ his eyes widened at her as he sat at the edge of the bed and placed his feet on the floor, using the sheets to cover his nakedness.
‘In this house,’ she replied.
Dave’s face was full of surprise, it looked like he couldn’t take it. He had thought she was going to talk about meeting Samantha in the hospital or something regarding the assasin that had happened in the hospital after she brought Stephanie George and the old couples there.
‘She had a gunshot wound I treated,’ Jumoke continued. ‘I met her needing help, outside the gate after the hospital incident, that night you promised to come late but later sent a message at midnight and…’
‘How did you know it was her?’ Dave cut in.
‘She told me…’
‘She introduced herself as Samantha Osman?’
‘No, she told me she recognized me from the hospital, that she was the one who brought in Stephanie George.’
Dave stared at her thinly for a while, still with doubts in his heart.
‘How did she make her way here?’
‘I don’t know, I found her outside. I saw her car by the fence and thought it was yours but as I got closer, I saw a girl on the floor by the fence side, looking lifeless, I thought she was dumped there and decided to help when I discovered she was still breathing.’
Dave took another pause to assimilate the information. He remembered that day vividly. It was the night the NIS Chairman called him and asked for him to be at the NIS office in Abuja before dawn. He wondered what could have happened if he did not heed the man’s call that night. Would that have been the end of Samantha Osman? Could he have arrested her that night?
‘So you helped her with a bullet wound?’ he asked in a surprise tone.
‘Yes, I did.’
‘How can you? A bullet wound? Without involving the police?’ he reprimanded in a loud voice.
She widened her eyes in surprise at his words and the rage she could see on his face. She was dumbstruck. How can he who comes to her severally with such wounds to treat blame her for treating another person who needed help?
‘But how was I supposed to know she was Samantha Osman?’
‘You are a nurse, ain’t you? I shouldn’t be the one to educate you on the ethics of your job. You don’t treat a bullet wound without getting a go ahead from the police.’
‘Stop talking to me like a kid Dave,’ she flared up. ‘She would have died that day if I didn’t help her.’
‘Are you listening to yourself? You helped a criminal!’
‘Yes, I’ve treated another male criminal with bullet wounds on more than one occasion!’ she shouted back at him.
‘Huh? Another criminal?’ he reduced his voice and narrowed his eyes.
‘Yes Dave, I always treat you when you come to me without involving the police. On the first day we met, I helped you and you didn’t die because I didn’t wait for the police.’
‘But I’m not a criminal.’ he said in low tones, almost whispering.
‘How was I supposed to know that the girl was Samantha Osman, a criminal? All I know is that I couldn’t have watched her die to start regretting later that I could have saved a life.’
Dave was quiet for some seconds. He had no right to blame her. She had been carrying out the illegal act with him before and he never complained until she helped someone else.
‘I’m sorry,’ he apologized with a sorry look. He picked his shorts on the floor beside the bed and got up to put it on. ‘I’m sorry for talking to you that way,’ he apologized again, now leaning against the drawer beside the bed. ‘It’s just that thinking of all the damage Samantha Osman has caused, she doesn’t really deserve any help…’
‘Who made you a judge?’ she cut in.
There was total silence for some seconds.
‘I know I’m not supposed to judge, but then…’ Dave was short of words to explain himself. He just couldn’t get over the fact that he missed an opportunity to have met directly with Samantha Osman.
‘She didn’t look like a bad person to me,’: Jumoke continued to speak with a blank expression on her face. ‘She looked harmless and dangerous.’
‘Don’t say that,’ Dave cautioned. For a second, he wondered if Jumoke really knew what she was talking about. Stephanie George had also said the same thing about Samantha. ‘Most criminals are like that, they look like they can’t hurt a fly but they’re so deadly.’
‘You seem to know a lot about criminals,’ she gave him a suspicious look.
‘Yes, I told you I’m a journalist and that I major in exposing top criminal cases. I sure know a lot about criminals.’
She sighed. ‘She warned me not to mention my experience with her to anyone.’
‘Did she call you after that day?’
‘No, she dropped a note saying I should erase her completely from my mind.’
‘And you’ve not heard from her since then?’
There was a brief silence. Jumoke seemed to be thinking on the possible dangers of what she was doing.
‘I’m scared Dave,’ she said in a weak voice. ‘She looked harmless but I’m scared of her warning and all I hear about her.’
‘Hey! You don’t need to be, she’s not everywhere.’ Dave encouraged. He walked to where she was standing against the wall and wrapped his hands around her shoulders. ‘Think about it, she’s not God, she can’t be everywhere, there’s no way she’s going to know you told me except you tell someone else.’
‘But… But you’re a journalist, what if she finds out through what you report or write about her?’
‘I’m not a fool, Jummy, I know how to play my games.’
‘I’m scared,’ she repeated shakily.
He pulled her with him to the bed and sat her down. He sat beside her and faced her.
‘Look here, one of the things criminals used in covering their trails is making empty threats to victims which will never make the victims open their mouths. What you know might just be the only thing that can bring her down.’
‘But I don’t know anything about her, I only met her once.’
‘Just tell me everything surrounding your meeting with her, you don’t know what I can be able to deduce from what you tell me.’
She took in a long breath. Dave squeezed her palms in his to encourage her.
‘I’m only going to talk because I want you to get done with her case and be here with me, not because I want her caught.’ she said in a warning tone.
‘Just talk dear,’ he urged.
‘She sent me money after some days.’
‘What?’ Dave’s eyes widened.
‘I didn’t ask her for money,’ Jumoke quickly added.
‘Of course, I know you didn’t ask her.’ he said and placed a hand on her shoulder in a reassuring manner, encouraging her to continue talking.
‘A text message came in after the alert saying it was a refund for the expenses I made and my clothes which she took with her.’
‘Do you still have the text message?’
‘I deleted it, she included it in the message that I shouldn’t keep it.’
‘Oops!’ Dave ran his fingers into his hair.
‘But there was no number, I checked.’
‘Okay, she must have protected the source of the message.’ Dave said. He stared at her with an encouraging look for her to continue.
‘That’s all, I never heard from her again.’
There was a long silence. Dave pondered on the information he had gotten deeply. There were two things he needed to know now; the sender of the money into Jumoke’s bank account and how Samantha had found her way to Jumoke. He feared in his mind that it had been through him. Maybe Samantha knew him somehow. He couldn’t ascertain but he knew it was a dangerous situation if it was true.
‘So, the only thing I need from you now is the date you got the money and your bank account details.’ he said to Jumoke.
Her eyes widened in fear. She tried to talk but he placed a finger on her lips. ‘Shhh… Don’t be afraid, no one will know about you.’
Cole woke up to a text message notification on his phone. He smiled as he reached out for it, thinking about his last night out with Patricia. The text message was from Tarasha. It read;
‘Can you suggest a good barbing saloon for me? I need to use one before my flight to the East today.’
He quickly rolled out of the bed and began to think. Tarasha had passed two messages in one – she wanted him to suggest a good barbing saloon and also informed him that she was traveling to the East. He had no idea what she was going to do there but he knew there was going to be work to do, both for him and for her.
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