Stephanie opened her eyes and found herself in the middle of the bed in the room she shared with her mother. The woman was seated at the edge of the bed with her back resting against the headboard. She didn’t seem to notice anything until Stephanie turned to sit up.
‘Stephanie,’ Madam Atinuke flashed a look at her daughter. ‘Are you okay?’
‘Mum, how did I get here?’ Stephanie asked, squinting at her mother’s face.
‘You went out with Samantha and I was told you were afraid seeing someone die and you passed out,’ Atinuke replied.
Stephanie could now recall what happened to her. The last thing she remembered of the event was being grabbed on the arm by Samantha and not knowing what happened to her after that.
Atinuke watched as the girl got up to her feet and proceeded slowly towards the door.
‘Where are you going to?’ Atinuke asked her.
Stephanie stopped and stared at her mum. She couldn’t answer the question, she couldn’t tell what she was going to.
‘Your food has been brought in already, you don’t need to go outside for anything, everything you need for the night is here.’ Atinuke added, pointing to the food on a stool beside the bed.
Stephanie let out a breath as she spotted the plate of food she hadn’t take note of before. She glanced at the door again, she wished she could just leave that building immediately, she wished she could leave Samantha Osman and everything concerning the assassin but there was no way she was going to be safe with her mother without the help of Tarasha. She knew there were no government agencies in the country she could run to for safety. She wished she had listened to Dave James and helped him when she was supposed to.
A knock sounded at the door while she was still standing and lost in thoughts. She glanced at the door and then walked back in anger to the bed.
‘Why didn’t you check who we have at the door?’ her mother whose eyes had been following her asked. The knock sounded the second time.
Stephanie gave no answer to her mother’s question.
The older woman replied after the sound of the third knock. Stephanie laid in the bed with her face buried in a pillow. The door opened and Cole stepped in slowly.
‘Stephanie,’ Cole called in a calm voice after closing the door. She didn’t give a response. Her mum looked towards her direction. ‘Sit up Steph, I’ve got some really important information for you.’ Cole said, knowing of a certain that she wasn’t asleep. ‘Sit up!’ he added in a firmer voice.
She got up from the bed and suddenly rushed towards him. She began to hit him on the chest as she wailed. ‘Samantha killed her, why? What did she do to deserve to die? I wonder what her gain is.’
Cole managed to grab her two hands and keep her from throwing him more blows. She struggled with him but he was stronger and able to keep her from freeing her hands.
He kept a straight face as he spoke to her, ‘Her death is all for good, Samantha would not do anything to hurt someone in her team, Madam Henrietta’s death was to save her from more pains and also to protect you and your mother.’
Stephanie got angrier on hearing Cole’s stupid justification for his boss’ action. She stopped struggling with him and stared at his face with so much spite. He also released her hands after seeing she wasn’t going to hit him anymore
‘How is she protecting me and my mother by killing the person who protected me since I was little?’ she cried.
Cole’s face remained straight, ‘You’d understand when the time comes.’ he said confidently.
Stephanie stared at him thinly with disbelief in her eyes, she couldn’t understand how he could still defend what was obvious wickedness. She had seen the cruelty in Samantha’s eyes when she shot Madam Henrietta and knew it was more than protecting someone but believed it was an action based on her selfishness. She believed she must have shot Madam Henrietta because of Madam Henrietta’s involvement in the video made by the police to implicate her.
Stephanie’s greatest pain was not the woman’s death but her being involved in killing the woman. Samantha Osman had deceived her by lying that they were going to rescue the woman from the enemies, little did she know Samantha was only using her as a tool to kill the woman who brought her up.
‘Steph! I encourage you to keep yourself together, arrange your clothes and other things and help your mother arrange hers too. I’ll be taking you out of here tomorrow to a location where I’d explain how you can return to school and stay out of trouble. Then you can continue to live your normal life,’ Cole explained.
For a moment, Stephanie felt some shrills run down her spine. She felt something contrary to what she expected to feel by the news of having the chance to leave Samantha Osman. She suddenly felt she was leaving a protective cover to an uncertain future.
She looked at Cole’s face however, unwilling to show her weakness. ‘Why don’t you take us out this night? I can’t bear it to stay one more minute with ruthless vipers who have no regard for human life,’ She blabbered.
Cole grabbed her by the arm harshly and turned her to himself as she tried to walk away. ‘Be careful what you say girl,’ he warned with a threatening look on his face. ‘Don’t try to do anything stupid against Samantha when you get out there, else we’d come for you.’
Cole’s grip on Stephanie’s arm was causing her so much pain and the look in his eyes was scaring her to death. He looked as if he was ready to kill her that moment.
He finally released her and let her take a breath. He spoke again, calmly this time, ‘You know that when Samantha Osman decides to come after you, no one in the country can save you and not even security or government agencies in USA can save you from her wrath.’
Stephanie stared at him for some more seconds before she angrily turned back to the bed.
Cole moved his focus to Madam Atinuke and tried to soften the look on his face in order not to scare the woman.
‘Madam, Samantha would love to have a word with you before you leave tomorrow.’ he said to the woman.
Stephanie sprang up to her feet immediately, ‘Over my dead body would I allow her meet with my mother again.’
Cole only glanced at her but refused to give her more attention. ‘Have a goodnight Madam,’ he said to the older woman and flashed a look at Stephanie before he turned back and walked out of the room.
‘Goodnight Mister,’ Madam Atinuke mumbled back in response to Cole.
‘Mother, I won’t let you see her tomorrow.’ Stephanie said aloud and got up to her feet. She turned to her mother’s side and knelt in front of her. ‘You won’t see her tomorrow, I promise I would do everything I can to make sure you don’t see her,’ she said and held her mother’s hand, trying to reassure her.
‘I would see her,’ Atinuke whispered in reply. ‘I need to hear what she has to say to me.’
‘No, she’s doesn’t have anything to say to you.’ Stephanie said in a pleading tone. ‘I can’t let her hurt you.’
Atinuke placed her hands on her daughter’s shoulders and looked into her eyes. ‘Samantha would not hurt me, or you. I believe what he said,’ she said with so much confidence in her tone. ‘I see the way she looks at you when she does and I know the way she talks about you, she has so much affection for you like an elder sister has for a younger one.’
‘No, she doesn’t see me that way. If she does, she wouldn’t kill Mrs Henrietta.’ Stephanie argued.
‘I believe she has a good reason for killing Henrietta if she did, but I don’t think she can harm you.’
Stephanie stared at her mum in disbelief. She couldn’t believe that the woman was also defending Samantha acts.
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Tarasha had just finished taking her bath when she heard a knock at the door. She took her time to put on a short gown before going to unlock the door.
‘Henry,’ she muttered as his eyes met hers when she opened the door slightly. She opened it well for him to enter and closed it after he walked in.
‘Tara, how are you doing tonight?’ he asked as he walked straight to the table and picked up an item.
‘Good as usual,’ she replied and walked straight to his front. He was still reading from the piece of paper he picked. ‘I see you’ve been so busy in the control room that you couldn’t spend more than a minute with us when we returned.’
‘Yeah, sorry I had to go back to the task you gave me.’ Henry replied, he dropped the paper and looked at her face.
‘Which one?’ she squinted at him.
‘Monitoring the Inspector General’s and the Vice President’s movements,’ Henry replied.
‘Oh!’ she exclaimed and stared at his face with a smile. She didn’t expect that he would still be monitoring the Inspector General whose case she had already settled and was done with. ‘So what about the files from the drive I gave to you this morning?’ she asked. She had initially thought the drive was what he referred to as the task.
‘I copied all that already,’ Henry replied. ‘I did it since morning.’
‘So what have you been doing alone in the control room?’
‘Checking out the test result of my new application,’ he replied. He pulled the seat of the armless plastic chair from under the table and sat on it.
‘And what’s the result?’
‘Successful, as usual.’
‘Nice, what’s the application about?’ she asked and moved closer to him slowly.
‘It monitors and hacks online sources, mostly data collection sources and stores their data in it’s archives, it’s grabs the data as it’s been received or sent out and keeps it even though it’s deleted from the main source.’
‘What kind of sources are you talking about?’ She widened her legs placing each at both sides of the chair, and sat on his knees and held the backrest top with her hands.
‘I actually developed it to hack communication lines, but I implemented some tools which makes it grab video sources too. I installed it about three days before our first operation base in this state got attacked and destroyed.’
‘So if it stores communication lines data, that means it keeps data of calls, the callers and receivers, their locations, texts… And what else?’
‘It was also designed to store voice notes of the calls,’ Henry replied. He took in a breath and could perceive the scent of Tarasha’s perfume. He could also feel the skin below her short gown on his knees.
‘What did you design it for?’
‘Well, it could be useful for investigation by security offices.’ Henry replied.
‘So what made you remember the application after a long time?’
He smiled lightly and licked his lower lip and bit it softly afterward. He looked away from her face for a moment and stared at her laps which was on his, her thighs were fully exposed and only her underpant was covered by the gown. He slowly placed his fingers on her thighs and began to massage gently.
He placed his gaze on her face again. ‘I did some checks on the Vice President today and I noticed he’s been usually close to his son Agent James recently, so I thought I needed to follow their conversation on phone and I remembered that the application can allow me to that.’
‘Wait, but how do you receive signals for the app?’
‘It receives through an antenna, you saw when I hung the antenna outside the gate at the first base.’
‘Oh! I did truly,’ she remembered him talking about the application that day but without much details.
‘So, I realized that the antenna I placed outside the first base wasn’t destroyed, it only shook from where it was but continued to receive and store. I was able to retrieve some data it stored since then.’
‘So which data did it store?’
‘Just my phone records,’ Henry shrugged. ‘I’ve checked through the first week and found the data, that’s enough proof that the application and the process works very well.’
Tarasha gave a light smile. ‘How are you going to use it for the Vice President and James?’
‘I need their phone numbers first, and that’s why I came to you. I want to know if you’ve previously gained access to all the Nigerian network providers database, with that we can search for their phone numbers. It will take me some time, probably weeks to hack each one of the providers if I’m to start from the scratch.’
Tarasha raised her brows. ‘But as a seasoned hacker, you should have gained access to these networks at some point during your work.’
He chuckled. ‘I promised myself not to use my hacking skills for unethical reasons, and I kept that promise for a long time.’
Tarasha smiled again. ‘I’ve only gained access into only one of the providers database but we don’t even need them to get the numbers. I’ve worked with the Vice President before, and in short we’ve got the numbers of the both of them.’
‘Oh! That’s great,’ Henry seemed elated.
‘Yea…’ Tarasha smiled.
Henry stared into her eyes for a moment. She released the top of the backrest from her fingers and rested her elbows on it, bringing her face closer to his.
‘You’re smiling a lot today, what’s the secret?’ Henry noticed.
‘Well,’ she shrugged. ‘I think I just feel relaxed.’
Henry stared at her with disbelieving eyes. ‘I think it’s connected to Madam Henrietta’s return.’
Tarasha raised her brows and chuckled. She realized she had not been able to hide it totally, she had not been able to hide the happiness she felt having the woman back around her. She stared blankly at the wall behind for a moment, reflecting on how it will feel like having her mother close by to her.
After a while of being lost in thoughts, it suddenly came to her consciousness that Henry had his fingers playing around her thighs and already getting under her gown.
‘So, what’s the secret behind you feeling relaxed?’ he asked, when he saw her eyes following his fingers.
‘I’ll tell you the secret,’ she said with a smile. ‘Soon,’ she added and then covered his lips with hers.
She ran her fingers into his hair as he responded to her lips. The kiss was fierce and intense and Henry’s hands dipped further under her gown until his fingers touched her chest. She broke away from the kiss for a moment and helped him take off his shirt before she continued with the kiss. Her action gave him more courage and he carried her up and pulled her underpants down. He dropped her on the bed and found his fingers at her back, pulling down the zip of her gown.
Fifteen minutes later, they lay next to each other on the bed, feeling exhausted. Different thoughts ran through their individual minds as they stared blankly at the ceiling. The room was dead silent and they could almost hear each other’s heartbeats.
Henry freshened up before he returned to the control room. He now had the two numbers he needed to track the Vice President and Agent James calls. As he sat on the seat, he noticed his phone which he had dropped beside the mouse before he left the room, the green notification light was blinking. He picked it up and unlocked it to check, he had a new message.
‘You seemed to have totally forgotten about your mother, few weeks ago you were so consumed with finding her and you even made attempts to get to her location. Have you forgotten her totally now?’
He read the text again and again and still did not understand. He knew the source of the message was the same source that had been sending him such messages. He had blocked some few numbers but the source kept reaching him with new numbers. He read the message one more time, he decided it was time to do something about it.
To be continued