‘You would do what?’ Dave asked in a surprised tone, still holding the phone close to his ear.
‘Yes, I am ready.’ Stephanie replied confidently from the other end.
‘No, you are not ready for this yet?’ Dave disagreed. He wanted to keep talking freely but realized that Dan and their third office partner were in the room with him, he quickly changed the subject of discussion. ‘You are not ready to have a baby yet, I’m sure you aren’t.’ Dave said in low tones.
‘What are you talking about Dave?’ Stephanie asked, surprised at his deviation.
‘Oh! If you insist that you’re ready, you’re on your own. I’m not ready to be a father yet, so you would have to bear the responsibility alone.’ Dave replied.
‘Hey! Mr. Dave, this is Stephanie George.’
‘That’s your problem. Anyway you can call me back whenever you’re ready to do away with it.’ Dave snapped and ended the call.
He met the mocking faces of his partners as he dropped the call. Dan could not hold it any longer and burst into laughter. ‘Agent Dave, don’t tell me you’re asking a lady to get an abortion.
Dave hissed and looked away, ignoring Dan’s question. He tapped his computer keyboard and focused on the keys with a serious look.
‘But you’re always moving around with packs of golden circle, how come you missed this one?’ Dan asked mockingly.
‘Just leave me for now Dan,’ Dave said, acting pissed off.
‘Hahaha,’ Dan and the other partner jeered at him.
Dave forced himself to hold the smile that was trying to escape his lips. He picked up his phone again and turned on the data connection, he clicked on the whatsapp messenger to see if he received any update from Lizzy on her work with Victor. There was none yet, he turned off his data connection and switched back on his WiFi connection to the NIS hotspot.
He let out a breath and relaxed his back. He needed to find a way to excuse himself from the office and talk with Stephanie. She had just told him that she was ready to charge the Vice President to court. He wondered if she knew how dangerous the part she was about to tread was. It would be impossible for her to remain alive if she started the case without getting enough protection for herself. But was it even possible for her to get any protection? The police or other security officers who should be the ones to protect her would take orders from the Vice President instead as the heads of all the security officers were loyal to the Vice President just like Inspector General Rikau. The Vice President seemed to wield more power than the President himself in terms of security of matters of the law, the president had given him (his vice) the free hand because he was once in the force too.
Another thought came to his mind. Was it a coincidence that Stephanie George was taking the Vice President to court at the same time Samantha Osman threatened to also do? Or was it a plan by the assassin gang? Could it be a further proof of the connection between Stephanie George and Samantha Osman?
‘I need to take some fresh air outside,’ Dave said as he picked up his phone and got up from his seat.
‘Hmm, I guess the air conditioner in this room isn’t working fine anymore.’ Dan mocked.
‘Whatever,’ Dave said and walked out without saying any other thing.
Dave found himself a convenient place where he could make the call to Stephanie without being heard by anyone. He dialed her number and it connected immediately.
‘Hello Steph, I’m sorry for what happened earlier on’ He quickly apologized first. ‘I was with the wrong folks then and I had to talk that way not to make them suspicious of anything.’
‘It’s okay, hope you heard all I told you.’ Stephanie replied.
‘Yes, I did. But do you really think you’re ready to face the Vice President? Do you think you can ever win him?’
‘Yes, I can. I have the necessary evidence to prove his guilt.’
‘Have you gotten a lawyer?’
‘I plan on calling my lawyer this afternoon. I told him already that I had a serious case coming up.’
‘Okay,’ Dave released a breath. ‘And do you think you’d live to see the case won?’
There was silence for a moment.
‘I don’t understand what you mean.’
‘Do you think it’ll be difficult for the man that carried out the murder of your father and several other people to murder you without a trace?’
‘God forbid!’ Stephanie exclaimed. ‘Come on, why are you talking like this?’
‘I’m saying the truth to you as an experienced journalist, no one else is going to warn you if I don’t.’
Stephanie remained silent.
‘Steph,’ Dave called calmly. ‘We need to make sure you are protected before we make any move.’
‘But once the report is made, the police would offer protection.’ Stephanie argued.
‘Have you forgotten that the person you’re against controls these forces or do you have something else that protects you which I don’t know of?’ Dave said, trying to see if she would make any hint about her connection to Samantha Osman.
‘No, I don’t.’
‘Then, you have to be very careful. Let’s meet this afternoon by two o’clock, hope you’d be free by then.’
‘Yes, I would. Where should I meet you?’
‘I’ll be coming to meet you at your place.’
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SAMANTHA OSMAN’S GANG NEW BASE
‘You did a great job with the news articles,’ Tara praised Henry as she walked into the computer room.
‘Thanks,’ Henry replied and glanced back at her. ‘But I didn’t do it alone, I got help from Dr Ekwueme.’
‘Oh! Talking about that man, do you think he’s doing healthy enough for him to keep working with us?’
‘Well, he doesn’t sound to me like someone who’s willing to leave us yet. I guess the man is enjoying the little bit of adventure he’s experiencing with us and doesn’t want to go back yet to his normal doctor routine.’
Tara chuckled; she pulled a seat closer beside Henry and sat on it. ‘And has he been able to adjust to this new place?’
‘I think he’s doing well, Cole shared the room with him last night.’
‘I know and I’m still wondering why that happened.’
‘You shouldn’t be wondering, its obvious Cole doesn’t want to have anything to do with Tomi anymore, that’s why he left her in the room.’
‘That’s their business anyway, I don’t get into people’s personal lives.’
‘Do you think so? Don’t you think you could help as the boss if you step in and hear what the problem is from the two parties?’
‘Help to do what?’ Tara asked in a surprised tone. ‘As the boss, I don’t think I should get into their personal affairs, anyone that messes up between them would face the consequences.’
Henry shrugged. ‘It’s okay if that is your choice.’
‘Are you fully monitoring the movements of the Vice President and the Inspector General?’ Tara asked after two minutes of silence.
‘Yes, as much as I can, I am.’
The door to the computer room opened gently and Cole entered. He stopped halfway and bowed slightly to the boss. ‘Tarasha, I want to take some time out from three thirty pm, I’ll be back before night.’
Tarasha glanced at the time, it was five minutes to two. ‘It’s okay; make sure you watch your back.’
‘Of course boss,’ Cole smiled faintly and bowed again before walking out.
MADAM HENRIETTA’S RESIDENCE, ABUJA.
Dave sat quietly, admiring the design of the living room. He wondered why Madam Henrietta spent so much on decorating a place she barely used. He had wanted to ask Stephanie what kind of job the woman did but it wasn’t the right time to do that yet.
Stephanie walked into the living room some seconds later with a pack of juice and a glass cup in a tray. She served Dave and sat beside him.
‘Thanks,’ Dave said after taking a sip from the cup.
She smiled at him. ‘I’ve prepared lunch for us, I don’t know if you’re ready to eat now.’
Dave widened his mouth in surprise and then smiled. ‘I hope you’re not trying to make up for yesterday.’
‘Uhmn…It’s afternoon already and even if nothing happened yesterday, it’s the right time for lunch today.’
Fifteen minutes later, both of them were seated at the table eating lunch. Stephanie had made spaghetti with fried plantains and chicken, garnished with green capsicums with tomatoes. The whole place was silent as they ate, only sounds of the cutleries against the plates could be heard.
Dave continued stealing glances at Stephanie’s face as he ate, it had been a long time he ate such a food in his home or in someone else’s. He wondered if she cooked the food herself or if she got it from an eatery, the latter seemed to be the most possible one.
‘Hope you like the food?’ Stephanie looked up and asked, both of them were almost done with their rations.
‘Oh yea, I do.’ Dave answered her with a smile. She had opened the opportunity for him to ask where she got the food from. ‘The food is excellent, which of the eateries did you get it from?’
She looked at his face in surprise, her mouth left ajar for a moment. ‘You can’t be serious with that question right? How can you expect a lady to get food from an eatery when she’s in her home? Or you think I don’t know how to cook?’
‘Erm, not that, I know you’d be a good cook.’ Dave said, forcing out laughter to make her feel he was only joking. He tried to make up a reason to give for asking her the question. ‘I was just wondering how you got to prepare the meal so quick considering the time we spoke on phone and when I arrived here.’
‘Well, the duration is enough time to prepare spaghetti, I only added enough quantities for both of us when I learnt you were coming.’
‘Nice, you’re such a good cook.’ Dave complimented.
‘Thanks,’ she smiled.
They ate the rest of the meal in silence and finished at almost the same time.
‘So,’ Dave began after the meal, both of them still at the dining with the plates unpacked. He relaxed his back and folded his arms as he stared into her eyes. He was lost for a moment. He wanted to begin the discussion which he came to the place for but something in her eyes had made him speechless. He took in another deep breath as he stared unconsciously, wondering if the person sitting before him was human or a goddess. He couldn’t explain why he was just finding her attractive even though he had seen her beauty a long time ago.
Dave jerked back to reality to find Stephanie staring at him with her eyes widened. She appeared to have been trying to get his attention for some time.
‘So what? And why are you staring at me like that?’ Stephanie asked with a raised eyebrow.
Dave forced out a smile. ‘I’m sorry, so…’ He gasped. He had forgotten what he initially wanted to say.
Dave smiled again. He didn’t know what to say and how to explain himself.
‘Why were you staring like that?’ Stephanie asked, seeing that he had forgotten what he wanted to say initially.
‘I was just amazed at how beautiful you are,’ Dave wanted to say but the words only sounded in his head. Stephanie was still staring at him and waiting for a response. ‘I just remembered something,’ Dave lied.
‘Hmmm, it must really be something nice.’ Stephanie said and picked her glass cup to take a sip of water.
‘Why do you say so?’ Dave asked.
‘I know from the way you were smiling absent mindedly.’
‘Hehe,’ Dave chuckled mildly. ‘Let us proceed please,’ he readjusted his sitting position. ‘So you plan on taking the Vice President to court?’
‘Yes, I told you on phone already and you stated your concerns about my security.’
‘And so, have you made up your mind?’
‘I thought that’s why you’re here, to help me make up my mind.’
‘Well, at the end the decision is all yours.’
‘What do you think I should do?’
‘I think we should gather more facts first, and then we make public accusations before involving the police. If we go the other way, they could silence us before even the case starts.’
‘Okay… Ermm, since you’re a journalist, I believe making the accusations public won’t be a problem for us right?’ She asked and Dave nodded in response. ‘You also mentioned getting more facts, I do think that what we’ve gotten is enough for us to prove that my father was framed up and accused wrongly and also that his death was a murder and not an accident.’
‘Yes, we have so enough to prove your father’s case but if we could get facts to prove another victim’s plight, it would make us stronger and help us gain more attention from the outside world.’
‘I really do not need attention from the outside world, what I want is to stop the man so that others would not become victims of his wickedness,’ she paused and raised her shoulders a bit. ‘Haven’t you seen the accusations Samantha Osman made against the same Chief Elvis?’
Dave’s heart skipped a bit as she mentioned the assassin’s name. The thought of the connection between them came back to his mind. He decided it was the first time to find out if they were really connected. ‘What about Samantha Osman’s accusations, what do you know about those things she said?’
‘What do I know?’ Stephanie squinted, surprised at his question. ‘I know what I read online. She accused him of drugs trafficking and made several instances and periods where he did the transactions, she also made mention of some cases similar to my Dad’s case where several people had to be judged unjustly even though Chief Elvis was the culprit.’
‘Is that all you know?’ Dave narrowed his gaze at her, he folded his arms again.
‘What do you mean?’ Stephanie asked, her tone showed that she was surprised at his type of questions.
‘Hey! Sorry, don’t be offended,’ Dave apologized with a chuckle. ‘I was just exercising my journalistic instincts.’
Stephanie gave a wry smile and then relaxed her shoulders.
‘But since the last time we met, have you had seen or heard from Samantha Osman?’
‘No, I haven’t.’
‘Okay,’ Dave paused for some seconds to think. From Stephanie’s response and body language, it was obvious that her investigation wasn’t connected in any way to Samantha Osman’s accusations. ‘I’m thinking that your kidnap then wasn’t just for supremacy or cult reasons,’ Dave said in a thinking tone.
‘Why? Because this is coming at the same time Samantha Osman’s accusation is coming?’
Dave didn’t answer immediately. He stared at her face for a while, trying to understand her state of mind. He realized she was already thinking that he was accusing her of working with Samantha Osman. ‘No, it’s not the timing but the fact that the same person who kidnapped you had something to do with Samantha Osman.’
‘I don’t get you,’ Stephanie said with a frown.
Dave readjusted his seating position again. ‘Look at it this way; you and Samantha Osman have one common enemy, the Vice President. You were kidnapped at a time she had something to do with your kidnappers. She did not kill you or harm you when you met, rather she helped you and the other kidnapped people. Now, don’t you think someone was trying to stop you from doing what you’re doing today?’
Stephanie squinted at him. She looked confused and lost. Dave sat back properly and rested his back, waiting for her to ponder on his words and make out the meanings.
‘So you think someone was trying to stop me from reopening this case like I’m trying to do today?’ Stephanie asked after thinking for almost one minute.
‘Exactly, and they were trying to stop Samantha Osman also because of something she knows.’ Dave paused and took in a very deep breath. ‘Look here, the same way you are seeking for information is the same way Samantha Osman does. She got those documents she uploaded from her recent trips to Kwara, and Anambra State.’
‘But did she really kill the Senator and Sir Eze Okafor?’
Dave stared thinly at her face for some seconds without answering. He was considering if it was wise for him to tell her the truth he knew. He felt a strange feeling of safety with her but still didn’t want to risk it.
‘Well, I can’t say for sure but I think she didn’t. I think,’ he stressed the syllable ‘think’ to emphasize his uncertainty.
‘So who killed those men?’
‘I don’t know and I’ve not said she didn’t kill them yet,’ Dave replied, reemphasizing his point.
‘I believe she didn’t kill them,’ Stephanie said slowly and then fixed her gaze on his face. ‘And I do agree with your point now, I’m fighting the same person with Samantha Osman, she probably was another victim of the man’s wickedness.’
‘Hmm,’ Dave sighed, her words made sense to him.
They remained in silence for the following two minutes before Dave spoke again.
‘I think I know how we would go about it,’ Dave said, taking out his pen to make a notepad.
‘How?’ Stephanie asked and adjusted herself to a serious sitting position to listen. She had already the plates from Dave’s front and hers to a side of the table.
‘Have you told anybody else about this? I mean your plan for the Vice President.’
‘No, I only told my lawyer that I had a case I wanted her to handle for me but I haven’t told her details yet.’
‘So, nobody else knows about this except the both of us?’ Dave asked, Stephanie nodded a Yes in response. ‘And even Madam Henrietta?’
‘Madam Henrietta knows nothing, I only asked her for the photo album and some files and she told me to come get them here when I continued pestering her.’
‘Good. So, you have to make sure nobody else knows about it or the plans we are about to make. Hope you can do this.’
‘Yes, I will.’
‘Okay, we’re going to make some news articles this week, accusing the Vice President of the crimes against your father, even though we aren’t going to upload proofs yet.’
‘Just like what Samantha Osman did?’ Stephanie asked. Dave nodded and mentioned a silent Yes. ‘Won’t people think she’s the one?’
‘No, I’ll be posting this on a popular blog of mine and not a fresh one like she did.’
‘Won’t that get you into trouble?’ Stephanie asked, her eyes filled with concern for him.
‘Yes, it will. The police will come looking for me for defamation of character but I would schedule more posts for evening and the next morning. We would have to keep the documents safe before then and also get your lawyer ready. You would wait till a day after I’ve been picked by the police before you speak up for me.’
‘What would I say?’
Dave chuckled. ‘I’ll tell you later.’
Stephanie let out a deep breath.
‘But we have to travel to Lagos tomorrow,’ Dave quickly added.
‘We?’ She raised her brow. ‘Why?’
‘To find out something related to Samantha Osman’s accusations so we can make ours.’ Dave replied with a lie. He actually wanted to take her along to help him in his job of finding facts about Chief Nonso Abel.
He looked at her face, she was staring blankly at the wall, already lost in thoughts.
‘Stephanie, you have to trust me.’ Dave said, thinking she was considering rejecting his request to travel with him.
‘No, I trust you, that’s why I came to you. I was only thinking about Samantha Osman,’ she replied and stared thinly again.
‘What are you thinking about her?’
‘I feel like meeting her right now and asking some questions. She gave me a device that day to easily contact her. I wish I still had it with me.’
‘Hmm,’ Dave heaved a sigh. He also had the same wish as her. It was the first time he wished to see Samantha Osman, not to arrest her or fight her for her crimes but to talk to her as a friend and listen to her explain some of her actions.
To be continue