Tarasha continued to take brief glances at the map showing on the device placed on her lap as she drove carefully on the slow lane, also looking sideways for any sign of Bevo hotel.
Soon she located Bevo hotels and halted for some seconds just before the gate, she pressed the car horn and rolled down the window glasses of both sides as she drove towards the gate. She stopped briefly at the security check where she had a brief conversation with the security guards. They conducted a brief search on her car and cut out a pass ticket for her before she was allowed to drive in. She followed the directions given to her by the traffic directors and parked her car where she was instructed to. Soon she entered into the main building of the hotel and located the reception desk.
‘Lovina Dike, personal investigator,’ she introduced herself to the receptionist, bringing out an identity card which the receptionist checked briefly and nodded in confirmation. ‘A lady booked a room here yesterday, ‘Tarasha continued. ‘She left her room yesterday evening and has not returned since then.’
The receptionist frowned a bit before turning to the computer, she began to type on the keyboard until she remembered something. ‘I think I’ve heard of who you’re talking about,’ she said, pausing a bit to look at the personal investigator before she continued to type on the keyboard.
‘Has she returned?’ Tarasha asked.
‘No,’ the receptionist concluded her typing and turned squarely to Tarasha. ‘We don’t know the exact time she left but the cleaners didn’t just find her when they tried to clean her room this morning and afternoon. Those on duty yesterday said they never saw her leaving.’
‘What was her room number and how many days did she book for?’
‘She booked for three days and her room number is…’ she paused a bit and stared into the computer to confirm the room number. ’15B.’
‘Okay, have you guys accessed her room since she left?’
‘Yes of course, we did. That’s how we confirmed that nothing happened in the room.’
‘Ermm… I mean did you find anything strange or suspicious in it?’
‘Nothing like that was reported, her bags are still there and they can always remain there as far as her money hasn’t expired yet.’
‘Hmm… Okay, I think I’ll have to come back in some few hours time. Hopefully she’ll be back by then but I’ll also try to bring with me a search permit in case she hasn’t returned.’
‘Okay ma’am, there’ll be no problems with us once the due process is followed.’ the receptionist said as Tarasha turned to leave.
‘Thanks,’ Tarasha flashed a smile and proceeded towards the exit door briskly. She stopped halfway as a thought struck her mind. She turned back slowly and proceeded back to the reception, ‘Sorry for disturbing Miss, but I just think I should stay around here. I’ll like to book a room and stay in there for few hours and I’ll like you to reach me on phone when she comes in.’
The receptionist stared suspiciously at her face for a second, she wondered why Tarasha wanted to book a room and not just ask for somewhere to wait. She shrugged off the thought, then she took out a neat paper and handed it to Tarasha. Tarasha looked through briefly and returned the paper after making an option. ‘Okay, just a minute please,’ she finally said and turned to her computer for about forty five seconds. ‘You don’t have any luggage right?’ she asked as she took out a small card from a printer and gave it to Tarasha. Tarasha nodded in response to her question.
’13C,’ Tarasha mumbled to herself the number of the room written on the card. She then took out her debit card from her back and inserted it into the point of sale terminal. After making the transaction, she was handed the key and she headed straight to the room.
Henry stood and watched in amazement after the wall splited up right before him, it formed an opened door. He wondered if the facility was existing before like that or if it was Tarasha that built it up the system just within few weeks or if what she did was only to modify it. He pointed his torchlight forward and saw the staircase leading to the underground. He began to proceed downwards but stopped at the fourth step taken. He remembered that he was yet to get the full instructions from Tarasha. So he turned back and walked out. To his surprise, there was a timer reading at the lock box when he returned and it was on ‘3’ and counting down when he came out.
The wall closed by itself immediately the timer got to zero and the access card was automatically emitted. Henry stood there dumbfounded, he inserted his card again into the card reader on the wall and typed in the lock code. The door opened the same way it opened the first time. He checked around the wall to see if the timer had began to read again but it was not reading. He took a step into the place and stepped out again. The timer was reading now and it had started from ten. He found a button on the timer and clicked on it which made the timer stop counting. He took two steps in again and turned to see if there was any means by which he could come out if the door had closed when he previously entered. He searched around the walls of the staircase within six seconds and stepped out again before the door closed.
His curiosity grew and several questions which he couldn’t find answers to ran through his mind. He wondered how and where Tarasha had gotten so much technological knowledge from. The underground was just a perfect hiding place for someone who knew how to use it properly and also a perfect trap for anyone who unknowingly or illegally finds his way in. He retrieved his card from the reader and placed the wall clock back to cover the lock system with the card reader.
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‘Hey! I don’t understand the message you just sent to us,’ Stone said to Don as he and Stainless entered into the computer room Don was seated in.
‘That was the direct instruction from Rex, I relayed it as he gave to me.’ Don replied, taking away his focus from the computer screen to stare at them.
‘Yes, I know it’s from Rex. What we don’t really understand is what we’ve been asked to do,’ Stainless replied him as they proceeded closer.
‘Okay,’ Don heaved a sigh and turned his chair backwards to face them. ‘Rex wants us to put the two hostages in two different places, he wants us to keep them in separate locations,’ he explained.
‘But they are not together now, are they?’ Stainless asked, he and Stone exchanged glances.
‘They are not together but they’re in the same location, he wants them in two separate locations.’
‘Why and when did he give that order?’ Stone asked with a frown on his face.
‘He gave the instructions few minutes ago, and he wants it carried out immediately.’
‘Why?’ Stainless and Stone asked together in unison.
‘You don’t expect he’ll give me full details about that right?’ Don said and paused to look at their faces. ‘From other things he said, I can deduce that he’s not seeing signs of Tarasha’s moves to kill the Vice President and he’s trying to put up some defense here for us if she suddenly shows up here.’
There was a minute silence. ‘But I don’t still understand how separating them would help us,’ Stone said, looking confused.
‘When they are put in separate locations, it’ll bring disoderliness into her plans, that’s if she has any plan of coming here.’
‘Are you sure this is going to work?’
‘Hundred percent sure, and I want us to act immediately. You both would take some boys with you and move Cole to the other place while I’ll remain here with Ojo and some other boys.’
**Bevo Hotels, Lagos**
‘Why are your services slow here?’ Tarasha asked an attendant who brought in a tray of fruit juice for her.
‘I’m sorry ma but we came with your order immediately after the call,’ the lady replied as she dropped the tray on a small table and placed the cup upright.
Tarasha stared at her intently and in silence as she dropped the tray, particularly observing her uniform. ‘What side of the building is room 15B?’
The lady stood up straight and thought for a while, ‘If rooms 13 are on this side, it’ll mean room 14 are at the left side. Then room 15 should be on this side too at the next floor.’
‘Oh! Thanks. I have a friend who claims to be in that room,’ Tarasha replied.
‘Okay, is there any other thing you would like?’ she asked in preparation to leave.
‘No, not for now. You may leave now,’ Tarasha dismissed her.
She curtsied and proceeded to the door, it refused to open as she turned the handle. ‘I think you locked the door,’ she said, flashing a look at Tarasha who seemed to be busy with something else.
‘Oh! I did?’ Tarasha stared up at her and got up quickly with the key but instead of opening the door, she covered the lady’s nose with a handkerchief
** 1 hour, 50 minutes later**
_Rael University, Road_
Tarasha kept her gaze on the gate from the car where she was sitting quietly. She had been watching for over fifteen minutes and was still undecided about what to do or how to get in. She had confirmed from breaking into Aisha’s room what the state of Aisha was. She found the mixture used halfway like she had instructed, so she knew Don’s gang must have threatened Aisha with her parents to make her give in.
After five more minutes of inactivity, she decided it was time to act. She took out her phone and dialed Aisha’s phone number. It rang for the first time without been answered. It was answered when she called the third time.
‘Where are you now?’ Tarasha asked.
For some seconds, there was no sound heard from the other end. Then Aisha’s voice came calmly, ‘I’m in Ikeja.’
‘Where in Ikeja? I sent someone to meet you at Bevo hotel where you lodged earlier,’ Tarasha replied.
‘Oh! Bevo hotel? Ermm… I… I’m not there now, I can’t get there because I’m sure Don’s boys are on my trail and would take me if I move out of this place,’ Aisha’s reply came shakily.
‘Then, where are you?’
‘Ermm… I don’t know the name of the place…’
‘Okay,’ Tarasha cut in. ‘I’ll ask Henry to track this call and figure out your location. Just hold on for a second,’ Tarasha said and kept quiet for about thirty seconds. ‘Okay, he’ll get to you in few minutes. But I think you should know he doesn’t know how to use guns, all he can do is to drive you to safety.’
***Inside the building***
‘Okay Boss,’ Aisha replied with a low voice as the line went dead. She looked up to Don’s face who was staring down at her. The phone was on loud speakers, so Don had listened to the conversation.
‘Henry is trying to track you?’ he asked with a tone which made the question sound rhetorical. ‘We added waves protection to this building today and the point of communication in here can’t be discovered by any tracker. You have to call her back and give her a location for Henry to meet you.’ Don said and took a brief pause to think.
His phone rang while he was still thinking of the location to give Henry, he took it out of his pocket and stepped back to receive the call. ‘Hello Boss,’ he said.
‘Have you separated the hostages?’ Rex voice sounded dry.
‘Yes, we have.’
‘How about the info you’re supposed to send me?’
‘I’ve gathered some already, I’ll send it within the next thirty minutes.’ he said and the call went off immediately. He flashed a look at Aisha and caught her staring intently at him, she quickly hid her gaze when their eyes met. ‘Call her back and tell Henry to meet you at the Bolevian Garden,’ he turned back and redialed Rex’s number as he walked out of the room and closed the door gently.
‘Boss, there’s something new,’ he began immediately Rex answered the call.
‘The man you asked me to gather information about, I think he’s in Lagos now. Tarasha called and told Aisha of his presence,’ Don said.
‘What is he doing in Lagos?’
‘I guess she sent him to assist the captured two. I’ve asked Aisha to send him an address to lure him into our trap.’
‘Sounds good, I’ll like to get a feedback on that as soon as you get him.’
‘Sure boss,’ Don said and ended the call. He returned the phone into his pocket and walked through the corridor to the computer room.
James paced about his room silently, he had a cup filled with alcohol with him. He wasn’t a big consumer of alcohol but he took it once in a while when he was with friends or when he felt heavily troubled like he was this time. All the struggles and the failures he had been facing was giving him headaches and he could still not find any possiblity of making an headway.
Working with the NIS twenty four hours ago, after he had been informed of Samantha Osman’s threat to the Vice President, they had worked together to figure out the location she had threatened from but to no avail. It seemed as if Samantha was never going to be caught but would only be playing games with the police and other security agencies.
Samantha’s case was enough problem at that moment, another issue that added to his worries was the news of Stephanie George’s abduction. He had been following up the Inspector responsible for the case in Lagos and could tell from the information he was getting that there was no progress being made.
He gulped down the contents of the cup in a rush as if the arrival of the solution to his problem depended on it.
‘Stephanie…’ he muttered under his breath. Her picture flashed back into his mind again. He remembered the first day he had met her at the police office reception in Lagos, her beauty had been totally irresistible. He had approached her right there to listen to her complain instead of allowing the constables do their jobs. He personally handled her complaint that day and even gave her a free ride back to her school.
He had found out that she was an assistant to the leader of the SWAD group of which he was also a member of while in school, he also found out that she was a student of computer engineering. They became friends. He had began plans to ask her for a relationship but aborted it when she revealed to him during a normal conversation that she was not ready for any until she was done with school. Since then he had kept his feelings for her unvoiced. She kept him as a friend and someone whom she ran to for advice when necessary.
That was over a year ago, now she was the leader of SWAD. James love for her had continued to grow even though they saw less before he was transferred to Kogi State, her new post as the leader of the group had made her busier.
He poured into the glass cup again and gulped down half almost immediately. He staggered forward and sank into a sofa, already tipsy, he swallowed and closed his eyes, seeing Stephanie’s face in the darkness.
To be continued