Deolu sat in his office, looking lost. Everything about the last three days was affecting him severely. He had called his friend, Caleb, in Ogun State who was a policeman to comb the entire state for that son of a b—h who is behind Lucy’s disappearance.
He was able to persuade Fred’s neighbor; Chika to give him a picture. He had seen Fred with Lucy countless number of times and he, for some time thought the two were dating until Lucy wiped out that doubt. His jealousy never made him like Fred, instead, it made him despise him but never did he know that someone so close to Lucy could hurt her.
His forehead showed sweat beads even though the office was chilling, considering the air-conditioner. Never in his life had he known such misery. His head rested on the back-rest of the office chair as he gazed blindly at the ceiling. He was oblivious to the consistent knock on the door until the door opened and his secretary walked in; he was still lost in his thoughts.
“Sir”, Fadeke called. He did not hear her until she called louder for the second time. When he came back to his senses, he gazed at her for some seconds like he had forgotten who she was.
“Oh… Fadeke. What is it?” he rubbed his forehead.
Fadeke’s face held concern as she spoke. “Sir, it is already some minutes past six. I wanted to ask if I could leave since there is nothing left for me to do”.
Deolu is the owner of D&C Limited. The firm engages in supplying quality furniture to both private individuals and companies. The company is well known for the quality doors, slates, roofing sheets, cupboards and the likes; that everyone building one thing or the other ends up buying their things from D&C.
Deolu sighed as he gazed at the time. Fadeke should have closed since 5 O’clock and now he had kept her for more than one hour extra, doing nothing at all.
“You can go” he said, dismissing her.
“I am sorry sir but; is everything alright? I have not seen you like this before.” She was genuinely worried.
Deolu smiled faintly.
“Nothing is alright but don’t worry. It is personal; just go home, ok? Thanks for your concern” he stood also preparing to leave. She wanted to probe but decided otherwise and left. Deolu decided the family house would be better for him. He would have people around who can take his mind off this trauma; he doubted that though.
Just about an hour drive and he was in the family house, surrounded by his extended family members. His father and mother were not around when he got there. The general discussion they were having was only making his situation worse so he retired to his room.
Deolu lay lost in his own world on the massive bed. He hadn’t been able to stop his brain from thinking about Lucy. He picked up his phone and dialed Caleb again.
Fred was glued to the ground as his mind desperately searched for a way out. He never imagined that the police would catch him so soon, and he was a hundred percent sure the police were the ones knocking. His cloth was already soaked in his own sweat as he stood, unable to move a nerve. The knock became persistent and louder, matching with the intensity of his heartbeat.
“Fred” someone yelled from the entrance. “Freddy”. Fred exhaled audibly and almost collapsed in relief. He had never been so scared. He knew that voice like the back of his palms. How did that freaking guy know I am in Abuja? He got to the door, peeped to be double sure his guess is not wrong before he opened the door.
“Wetin dey do you? You no fit open door since?” Chris was angry and scared. He had been worried that something might have happened to him in there, not allowing him to answer the door.
Fred glared at him for some time and hissed. He was still trying to regularize his heartbeat. He had a desperate urge to pee. Chris took a look at his sweating profile and opened his mouth again.
“Ol boy, wetin do you? You dey run race for here? Or…” he smiled and winked. “any chick dey room”.
Fred hissed for the second time and closed the door.
“Who told you I am in Abuja?” he asked through gritted teeth. “You almost sent me to an early grave with fright” Chris widened his eyes and folded his arms across his chest.
“I never knew you could be so afraid with a mere knock. Bless the Lord for this surprise visit”. He was definitely enjoying himself. Fred fought the huge urge to deliver a solid punch but calmed himself.
“Answer the d–n question” he growled, Chris raised his hands in surrender.
“I was passing by this place yesterday night and saw the security lights on. The light could not have come on by itself, so I figured it could only have come on with the help of someone. You are the only one with the key so…” he left Fred to finish the remaining in his imagination. He went over to the seat and collapsed in it since Fred was not ready to offer him a seat. He turned to glare at Fred who was still at the door.
“Why did you not tell me that you were coming to Abuja as you usually do? Have I offended you or is there something you are hiding from me?”
Fred and Chris had been friends, right from their secondary school days. They came to Lagos from the village together, making them look more like brothers. Chris’ moving to Abuja because of his business had put physical distance between them but they still communicated very frequently and Fred stays in chris’ house whenever he is in Abuja. Fred did not know what to say to the accusation and he said the first thing that came to his mind.
“If you call me often, I would have told you”.
Chris laughed. “You can’t be serious. I called you last week. Why should I call you every day? I am not your girlfriend and neither am I gay”. Fred laughed for the first time, trying to use his laughter to ward off the awkwardness he was beginning to feel. He also sat down opposite Chris.
Chris looked thoughtful for some seconds. “Speaking of girlfriends, now that we are face to face, tell me about this girl you have been crazy about. Did she finally accept you?”
Fred blanched and sat still like someone in another world. He could practically see the scene where he picked up the knife from the tray. The fright in her eyes would haunt for the rest of his miserable years. He had killed his love with his own hands. She tripped over something and fell and…
“Fred… Fred” Chris yelled already close to the chair. Fred almost jumped out of his skin. He was sweating profusely. “What is the matter Fred? You don dey see spirit? See as you white”. Fred almost had a panic attack at the mention of spirit.
“I think you need to leave Chris, I am not in the mood to receive visitors” he rose up. Chris was now worried, very worried.
“Do I look like someone who takes orders or advises? Sit. I must hear whatever your problem is before I leave this place.”
Fred swallowed and glared. He dragged a bewildered Chris and pushed him out of the door. He slammed the door and fell into a heap on the floor.
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The silence was a piercing and extremely uncomfortable one. Bose had never known this much tension in her twenty three years of existence. Raymond was looking at her in a very disturbing way. His gaze seemed to be penetrating her thoughts and she was certain he could hear her pounding heart.
She has always been aware of Raymond’s powerful presence but never had it been this overpowering; it is probably because she is seated very close to him now. Although the sitting arrangement is not one of intimacy, judging by the space between them, she still felt she was seated too close.
“You have not answered me Bose” Raymond said after waiting for what seemed like ages and did not get any response.
Bose’s eyes were on her fingers as she struggled to keep them from shivering.
“I don’t know what you are talking about sir” she managed, surprised that she didn’t stutter.
“Yes, you do” he said softly, already knowing the answer he was expecting.
Bose shivered visibly. “I… I don’t… I don’t know what to tell you” she stammered.
“Tell me the truth”
“Yes” she dropped already in tears. Ray was motionless and speechless. He had suspected this but now that it was out on display, he didn’t know how to handle it. After some seconds of ‘no movement’ on his part, he pulled Bose into his arms and held her. She cried in his arms for some minutes while Ray just kept quiet, trying to think. He pulled away from her and held her shoulders.
“Bose, please stop crying and listen to me” he hates women in tears. He left her shoulders and held her face with his arms. “Listen…” he was interrupted by the ringing of his phone. He was sorely tempted to ignore the call until he saw the caller. He excused himself and received the call. It was Doctor Tunde.
“Hello Doctor… Yes… You don’t mean it? Wooow… I would be there in a jiffy.” He ended the call with a million smiles on his faces.
“The girl is conscious now” he exclaimed. Bose rejoiced, putting aside her emotions. Raymond picked up his car keys and jumped into his car.
Tinuke lay on her bed with her eyes glued to the rolling fan. There is nothing fascinating about three blades going after each other when it is obvious none of them would succeed in catching the others but still, she had her eyes fastened on the fan. Her mind was elsewhere.
Throughout the previous day, she had perambulated anxiously, hoping no one would come for her and luckily, no one did. How can that freaking nurse think I am a murderer? But wait, how did that pillow get to my hands? She wondered.
Her mind shifted to Ray. He hadn’t called her and has not picked up one of her nine hundred and ninety nine calls. How can he just ignore her like that? she felt like a piece of used product. ‘He feels he can just use me and dump me like that, well I would not be so sure if I were him’ she said to herself.
She finally stood up from the bed with the perfect idea of her next line of action in mind. She is officially Ray’s fiancée and nothing stops her from moving in with him, or so she thought. She packed a small suitcase, filled it with clothes and other necessities. It had been a while she called her friends and they seemed to have forgotten her. She would call when she is fully settled in her future husband’s house.
Ken and Bewaji Jones entered the house and sank into the leather couch. Their faces were drawn. It had been a rough day. They had been going to every television station to announce that their daughter is missing and also to publicly declare a search warrant for Fred. One million Naira was promised as reward for anyone who leads them to either the guy or their daughter.
It hadn’t been easy at all emotionally. Bewaji cries most of the times and Ken was too preoccupied trying to pet his wife that he didn’t even know how to vent his anger and fear and anguish. Things had gone worse when a possessed lady asked them to check the mortuary. They had both rejected it, saying that their daughter would never be in a mortuary.
The maid brought them dinner and Bewaji refused, saying she would eat when she sees her daughter. Ken tried to beg her but she would have none of it. Ken was not hungry but he wanted Bewa to be strong, it is only in her strength that he found his courage and strength. He sighed as Bewaji rested her head on his shoulders, crying. Lucy, my Lucy, where are you? He wondered with pain tearing his heart.
Raymond got to the hospital and practically sailed the distance between the parking lot and the doctor’s office. He had become a regular face and no one delayed him. He got to Doctor Tunde’s office and entered with smiles pasted all over his face. He was ecstatic.
“A lovely evening it is Doc T.” he said, sitting.
“With a lovely news to go with it” doctor Tunde replied with a smile.
“When did this happen and how?” Raymond was curious. He wished he had been there when she opened her eyes.
Doctor T smiled. “Some minutes before I called you. I went to her room to perform some doctorate rituals, in order to be sure everything is going well when she opened her eyes. She made some discomfort sounds which alerted me and I was so happy that she had finally come around. I never expected it to be this quick though. There is no doubt about the fact that she is very strong and God is solidly behind her.”
Ray agreed. He could not remember when last he had been this happy about something. “Forget this talk, let me see her” he was already on his feet.
“Did I tell you that your fiancée was here?” that surely got his attention and he sat down again.
“What do you mean?”
Tunde smiled. “Tinuke was here, told the nurse she brought provisions for the patient and was caught with a pillow clawed tight in her hands but she escaped”, he said.
Ray stared for some seconds. “Wait, you are not thinking that she tried to… tried to…” he could not complete the sentence.
“Kill her?” Tunde asked with a faint smile.
Ray was speechless. He rubbed his palms together and swallowed painfully. “Let me see the girl, we would come back to this later” he stood up already furious. Tinuke was constantly making his life hell on earth.
They entered the room with the doctor ahead and Raymond behind him. Tunde smiled but the smile was not returned by the girl. Seeing her eyes open for the first time ever was like a miracle. Her eyes was on the doctor. He asked her how she was doing but she said nothing; it didn’t look like she had ever opened her mouth because it seemed glued to each other. For some seconds, he thought she was deaf when she did not respond to anything the doctor said.
“Look. This is the man that brought you here” for the first time, her eyes left the doctor and that made it obvious that she could hear what was being said. Ray’s breath was knocked out of him as those dark eyes rested on him. ‘Beautiful’ is a word but it is not weighty enough to describe this lady.
He was held spellbound by her stunning beauty but what really gripped his heart was the pain he saw in her eyes. The pain was so evident in her dark eyes. He tried desperately to regain his breath. The only desire he had was to remove that pain. He desperately wanted to drive that pain away and make her laugh.
He sat down gently on the chair beside the bed and took her hand slightly. He felt a totally strange emotion and he stared at her hand for some time. He had forgotten about the presence of Tunde.
“I am Raymond, please what is your name?” he asked gently so as not to startle her.
For the first time since she became conscious, she opened her mouth to the surprise of both men.
“Brenda” she whispered.
…To be continued