~Abuja, at the NSCC office~~
‘Sir, how many times have you visited that house after she left?’
‘About three times Agent; twice with two of my colleagues and once on my own,’ Mr Sylvester replied him in a stressed tone, resting his back in the chair and folding his arms tiredly.
James took another long look at the paper in his hand, he heaved a sigh. ‘And who’s her guarantor?’
‘Guarantor?’ Mr Sylvester asked in a surprised tone.
‘Yes, guarantor.’ James replied.
‘Ermm…’ Mr Sylvester scratched his head as he tried to put together words to express himself.
‘Isn’t she supposed to even have more than one guarantor?’ James added.
‘Yes, she had a guarantor but the circumstances that surrounded her employment did not allow us take it very serious.’
James stared at his face in disbelief, he didn’t believe the Chairman of an organization like the NSCC could be talking like an inexperienced person.
‘It was the Vice President that hurried up the process,’ Mr Sylvester quickly added, trying to shift the blame away from himself. ‘He wanted someone else to represent Henry E.G immediately, so he asked to rush up her employment.’
James heaved another sigh, he placed a finger on his lip and continued to stare at Mr Sylvester in silence.
**Rael University premises, Lagos**
Two guys sat under the tree impatiently, Ojo was standing. He was holding one of the lower branches of the tree. He checked his wristwatch from time to time and would change his standing position to the other direction to check if the one they were waiting for was in sight.
‘Capon, don’t you think we should call him again?’ one of the sitting boys suggested.
‘Okay, use your phone.’ Ojo replied, still staring around, he changed the hand used in holding the branch to the right hand.
Other students were around the place but kept a reasonable distance from them. Students who unknowingly moved closer to them would quickly withdraw once they saw their faces. Ojo was a well known cultist in the school, even the lecturers and school board recognised and respected him. His association with top criminals like Don and Stainless made him function in a way that he was invisible to the law enforcement agencies.
‘Where are you?’ one of the sitting guy stood up with the phone on his ear. ‘Come on, we’ve been…’ he stopped abruptly as he noticed someone coming towards them. The guy had his phone on his ear too and was putting on a face cap. The caller cut the call to wait for the approaching guy. Ojo and the other sitting guy also looked in direction of the approaching guy.
The guy with the face cap joined them in less than a minute, ‘I’m sorry for keeping you guys waiting,’ he quickly apologized on seeing the angry look on their faces.
‘Okay, what’s the information you have for us?’ Ojo asked him impatiently.
The guy looked around to check if anyone was watching them, then he took out a paper from his back pocket and handed it to Ojo. ‘I’m going to lure her to the place, make sure you make use of the chance well,’ he said and paused to look around again. ‘You know she’s getting more dangerous and she could cause you a lot of…’ he stopped and a look of fright appeared on his face as he saw the evil face Ojo was making at him.
‘Disappear!’ Ojo barked at him in a loud gruff voice.
He stumbled and almost fell as he took to his heels.
Aisha and cole left Abuja very early in the morning but at different times, Aisha left by 5am while Cole left by 6.30am and they took different routes to different transport vehicle’s garage to avoid being tracked. Tarasha was left home alone with Henry.
Henry had been up before Aisha’s departure, he had heard noises and carefully listened from his room. He knew that Aisha must be the one leaving as he had been suspecting they were planning a journey but didn’t know where they were planning to go to. He was also out of his room and at the backyard doing exercises when Cole was leaving by 6.30am, Tarasha had driven out with Cole in a car, they had kept two big bags in the boot which herry suspected to contain weapons.
Tarasha returned thirty minutes later without Cole and an empty boot. Henry who was in the living room when she drove back into the compound walked into his room before she entered the house.
Tarasha of course noticed that he had been in the living room but decided to ignore it like she had been ignoring all his other activities.
Henry kept turning around the bed, he felt tired already without even doing anything yet that morning. He heard a noise from his belly as he ran his hand through his hair, that reminded him about breakfast. He didn’t know if he was going to have breakfast that morning since Aisha was out of the house. Usually, she would have come knocking at his door, asking for where he would like to have his breakfast.
He thought of going out to check if the food had been served at the dining but he discarded the idea at the thought of meeting Tarasha in the living room, he wasn’t sure what the feeling would be like between them both, especially now that they were alone in the house.
He turned to his left side of the bed and closed his eyes in a bid to force sleep and suppress his hunger but his belly made another sound, this time louder and longer, that was when he remembered that he didn’t take dinner the night before. He had been so engrossed with a new app he was developing that he worked until it was very late and he went to bed tired, without remembering to eat. He rolled out of bed reluctantly and put on his sandals, he proceeded out of the room hurriedly.
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He met at the dining what he had been trying to avoid, Tarasha. She was sitting and also taking her breakfast, she was dressed up neatly, like she wanted to leave the house. She noticed his presence as he approached the dining and heard his footsteps, she turned back and their eyes met.
Henry felt a little discomfort as their eyes met but the feeling of hunger had overwhelmed him, so he joined her at the dining without minding how awkward the feeling would be for them having breakfast together.
‘Good morning Tara,’ Henry greeted as he walked past her to the seat where he saw his breakfast served.
‘Good morning Henry,’ she replied, her eyes followed him to his seat.
He sat and opened the plate cover almost immediately, he picked the fork and knife and began to eat.
Tarasha watched him silently while eating her meal slowly, he was fully concentrating on his meal though he still ate moderately. She had lost concentration on her own meal, she fixed her eyes on his face as he ate.
He had changed and gained more flesh since he had been taken out of prison, his sores and wounds had also healed but he looked very unhappy, there was an absence of the joyful beam of light that his eyes usually carried. Tarasha felt guilty.
‘Why are you staring like that? Hope you won’t chew your tongue?’ Henry’s words drifted Tarasha back to reality. Then she noticed she had finished chewing the food particles in her mouth and had been chewing nothing for more than one minute. Henry had almost finished his food while she was still halfway.
‘Are you traveling too?’ Henry added, using his eyes to scrutinize her dressing and new ‘gallas like’ hairdo. The food had given him more strength and energy to talk. Tarasha’s thoughtful mood and uneasiness had also added to his confidence to speak.
‘Traveling where?’ she replied with a question.
‘To where your guys went to,’ Henry replied, cutting another slice of yarn in his plate.
Tarasha heaved a sigh and tried to dodge his question, ‘So why were you hiding when you saw them leave?’
‘I wasn’t hiding, I know you saw me watching.’ Henry replied as he chewed the food particles in his mouth.
‘I didn’t see you watching but I knew you were watching,’ Tarasha corrected. ‘So why have you been locked up since?’ Tarasha asked, trying to bring up a lively conversation. All she wanted to see was that beam of happiness on his face again and she thought conversing with him freely could help.
‘Why shouldn’t I stay in? It’s not like we’ve been having any smooth discussion recently, it’s like you just want to keep me here like a dummy.’ Henry replied accusingly, staring into her eyes directly and wondering why she sounded accommodating that morning.
‘It’s not like that Henry but…’ she stopped abruptly and heaved a sigh. She thought it would be unwise stating again how she didn’t want him to be involved in the revenge anymore because of his weakness of wanting to submit to the authorities.
‘When are you going to join them?’ Henry asked, after waiting for few seconds without her continuing her speech. ‘Soon, I’ll be locked in here for days without being allowed to go out or being visited.’
‘No Henry, that won’t happen.’ Tarasha said in a convincing tone. ‘I think we can make a solution to your limitations of going out.’
‘A solution? What solution is there to it? I’ll be caught by the authorities once I’m seen.’ Henry said. He felt like adding that the only solution would be taking himself to the authorities himself but he choose not to, knowing how much she hated the idea. He didn’t want to ruin the conversation they had just begun which was not even going smoothly yet.
‘I can help you with a good disguise idea, something like that of Aisha’s,’ she replied him.
‘Huh?’ he squeezed his face as he tried to figure out what she meant. ‘Which Aisha are you talking about?’
‘Same Aisha, the wanted Aisha Bello.’
‘Humn…’ Henry stared thoughtfully, he was still trying to figure out where she was driving to. ‘Do you mean the Aisha that works with you is the wanted Aisha Bello?’
‘Yes,’ Tarasha replied with a brief smile. ‘You should have noticed that if you paid more attention to her face anytime she’s here. Her disguise plan is working well for her and she goes out very often without ever being recognized.’
Henry paused for a while to think, he never imagined that he had been living with someone who had been declared wanted like him and she even served him food every morning. He stared at her face blankly for some seconds before letting out a short hiss. ‘Just forget about that, tell me how long you’ll be gone.’
She paused and stared into his eyes for close to thirty seconds, Henry’s eyes looked like that of a terrified child whose mother was going on a long journey. She tried to conceal a smile that was gradually forming on her lips, ‘You don’t want me to go?’ she implied.
‘Huh? Why would I stop you, it’s not as if you’ll listen to me anyway. You should go anywhere you want to, I don’t really care.’ Henry tried to feign carelessness but the look on his face betrayed him, it was obvious he cared about where she was going to.
Tarasha let out a smile accompanied with a short release of breath, she rose up from her seat and moved closer to him, abandoning her food. She turned the seat next to him and sat facing him directly, a very close distance that both of them had to hold their breath for some seconds.
‘You’ve changed a lot, you now smile more this days,’ Henry tried to change the discussion as he knew he had been defeated.
‘You taught me how to, ‘ she said and rested her weight on the table with her arms. She shifted the plate of food away from his front and held one of his palms in hers. Their knees were also touching each others and their face came closer. There was a deafening silence for close to one minute.
‘Tell me what love is,’ Tarasha found herself asking. Even she was surprised as to who and where the question came from.
‘Love?’ Henry mumbled. He took his eyes off her face for some seconds, staring at the table. He looked up again, ‘I can’t explain it but you’ll understand when you feel it.’
Tarasha drew in a short breath, she reached out for his second palm. ‘I don’t know if it is what I’m feeling,’ she said, looking down shyly.
Henry drew closer to her, ‘I’m sure of one thing, love makes you ready to make sacrifices for the one you love.’
There was another thirty seconds silence, ‘Is that why you were willing to sacrifice yourself for me?’
There was another silence, this time longer than the previous ones put together. Henry stared at her lips as their faces moved nearer to each others. Tarasha closed her eyes and held her breath, she could feel Henry hold his breath too. Their lips moved closer, only a centimetre far from each other.
To be continued