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When Uzo woke up the following morning, he couldn’t immediately figure out where he was or what had happened. He sat up straight in bed almost going into a panic attack until he noticed Leela seated on the floor next to the door, a gun lying beside her. Then it all came back to him. The dead body, the drive down to some obscure location in Mushin and then the stab of the needle on his arm.
He bolted out of bed immediately and Leela stood up. She looked tired. Her eyes were red, like she had barely gotten any sleep.
“Don’t make me drug you again Uzo. I’m too tired.”
“Who are you?”
“My name is Yemi. I work with a special security agency and I was hired by your biological mother to protect you.”
Uzo began to pace the room slowly, rubbing his head with his hands.
“That doesn’t make any sense. You’re my girlfriend. We’ve been dating for 8 months now.”
“And I’ve been watching over you for at least a year.”
“Wait. So you’re trying to say our relationship wasn’t real?”
Leela slapped her arm to kill a mosquito that was perched there.
“Err. Is that the most important thing right now?”
Uzo turned swiftly to face her
“Are you crazy? You’re telling me I have lived a lie with you the last year and you don’t think it’s important?”
“Would you rather be dead or living a lie?”
She lifted the gun directly to his face and cocked it.
“Tell me. I could give you a one way ticket to Heaven now and save myself the stress I am about to embark on this very minute.”
Uzo raised both hands and backed away from her.
“Sorry. Put that thing away. Please.”
A knock sounded on the door and Waheed opened it, slowly poking his head first before revealing the rest of his body.
Leela did not lower her gun or take her eyes off Uzo while she spoke
“Baba Seyi don show. If una don ready, make we dey go airport.”
“We dey come.”
She lowered the gun and retrieved her purse from the bed before turning to Uzo.
Uzo did not argue. She waved to the door and he walked out after Waheed with Leela following closely behind him.
Outside the house, there was a rickety old car waiting with an elderly Yoruba man in the driver’s seat. Waheed got into the front of the car and Uzo and Leela got in the back. The man started the car and drove off. Leela checked the time on her phone. It was 8:30am.
A text message came in almost immediately and she slid her thumb across the screen to read it.
Ade just landed Lagos. Be sure to be there by 9am.
She typed a response.
On my way already.
She turned on her camera and looked at her face in it. She looked terrible. She turned off the camera, locked her phone and replaced it in her purse. She noticed Uzo casting her furtive glances from the corner of her eyes but she ignored him. She was not ready to say any more than she already had. And she was spent. She needed to get somewhere safe where she could cry and mourn Gbemiga privately and properly. And she needed to get in touch with Uzo’s mother. If their cover had been blown, that meant she was in grave danger herself.
The flight to Zaria took almost two hours and was uneventful. It was Uzo’s first time flying in a chopper and the trip made him nervous, not to mention the reason they were making it in the first place.
They landed in a vast field and there were two men casually dressed waiting for them on ground. Leela made no introductions. She simply shook hands with the men and walked briskly to a car that was waiting a little way off. Uzo followed her closely behind.
In less than five minutes, the car stopped in front of a building that looked like it had recently been renovated. Leela got down and Uzo followed her. She walked into the building, running up a flight of stairs and walking down a corridor until she got to a door that read “Rector.” She knocked softly on the door before opening it and walking in.
A cold blast of air greeted them as they walked in. Uzo looked around. It was a small office with a large cushion and a middle-aged woman sat behind a computer on a desk. The woman smiled broadly at Leela and stood up to hug her.
“Bawo ni Yemi?! It’s been such a long time!”
Leela’s smile was tired as she held on to the woman.
“Mo wa pa, aunty. Daddy nko?”
“He’s in a meeting. I’ll just let him know you’re here.”
Uzo cleared his throat and the woman looked in his direction.
“Good morning ma.”
“Morning my dear.”
She didn’t acknowledge him any further but picked up the intercom on her desk and dialed a number. Leela sat down on the couch and tapped a spot beside her.
Uzo did as he was told.
A few minutes later, another door opened and the sound of laughter came through it before the three elderly men that followed. Leela did not look up. Her eyes were glued to her phone. The three men walked past them, lost in whatever amusing conversation they were having. But it didn’t take too long for one of the men to return.
The man walked to Yemi and took her by the hand. Yemi stood up and followed him into the office. Once the door shut behind them, Yemi turned the key in the lock then she embraced the older man and began to sob gently.
Engr. Kola held her firmly and patted her back softly. Yemi’s sobs became louder as she shook in his arms but he did not say anything. After what seemed like a long time, Yemi pulled away and said.
“Gbemiga is dead daddy.”
Engr Kola’s eyes were the very image of surprise. He took a deep breath then pulled her into another hug.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry darling. I’m sorry.”
Leela sniffed and pulled back, massaging her temples.
“I don’t even know what to do.”
“Tell me what happened.”
Leela walked to a couch at the edge of the room and sat down.
Engr Kola retrieved a bottle of water from a fridge nearby and handed it to her. She took a few sips as he sat next to her and then she began to speak.
“It’s this assignment we’re working on. The guy outside is the son of our most recent client. She’s mixed up in something dangerous and so she hired a few of us from the agency to look out for him until she sorted out her issues.
Gbemiga wasn’t comfortable about not knowing all the details but the money was good so I insisted that we took the case and now I wish that we didn’t.”
Engr. Kola reclined in the couch, his expression grave.
“Yesterday, Gbemiga and I met for lunch and he told me he felt something was about to go down and that he had gotten a phone call but he would investigate and get back to me. But he never did. He was killed last night and his body dumped in front of Uzo’s house.
Uzo and I got back there at almost midnight and the body was waiting outside plus whoever had dumped it there was waiting to finish us off. We fled to safety and then I called my boss who asked me to go off the radar while they looked into it so I decided to come here.”
Engr. Kola was silent for a little while.
“Do you need me to do anything? Contact anyone?”
Leela shook her head.
“No. I just need to stay here for a while till I figure out what next to do.”
“Have you contacted the boy’s mother?”
Again, Leela shook her head.
“Not yet. My first call was to one of my local people for a place to stay the night. Next call was to my boss. I’m expecting to hear back from him but I’m going to call Uzo’s mum as soon as I settle down.”
Engr. Kola nodded.
“I’m going to do my best to not worry about you but if at any point I feel you aren’t safe here, I’ll have you flown out of the country immediately. Are we clear?”
Leela bit her lips as she stood up.
“Dad, please don’t.”
“Yemi, in case you do not realize it, there is something very dangerous going on here. I might not have liked Gbemiga much, but you were in love with him and I had to respect that. Now he is dead. That should tell you that you aren’t safe.”
Leela exhaled loudly.
“If your people do not get this sorted out in a few days, I’m flying you out. No ifs, buts or whys.”
Engr. Kola shrugged.
“That’s for his mother to worry about. I’m your father. Not his.”
“I’ll get the driver to take you home. Will he be staying with us?”
“I’ll see you at home then.”
He hugged Leela one more time before returning behind his desk.
“By the way, it’s really great to see you again. It’s been what? Almost a year?”
“Blame it on the job daddy.”
The older man chuckled.
“Oh I do. Every single time.”
“This will be your room.”
Uzo looked around the room that Leela had ushered him into. It was quite spacious and tidy. He guessed that it was the guest bedroom.
Leela made to leave the room but Uzo stopped her.
“Leela. There’s so much I do not know yet. You need to talk to me. Please.”
She sighed and walked back in. Leaning her back against the wall, arms folded and with tired eyes, she asked
“What do you want to know?”
“What exactly is going on?”
Leela studied his face carefully as she pondered how much to tell him. He looked so vulnerable, she felt sorry for him.
“About a year ago, I got an email from a woman with your pictures, profile and contact details. She said she was your mother and that we needed to watch over you at whatever cost for a short period of time. She said she was involved in something and needed time to get it sorted. No one knew she was your mother but if they figured it out, they would come after you to get to her and she didn’t want you to get hurt.
Her instructions were simple. We were to integrate ourselves into your life, one way or another but ensure that we always had a close eye on you. So there was me, Gbemiga, my boss and one or two other people. But the only ones who had the most info were me, Gbemiga and my boss. Gbemiga is dead, which means our cover has been blown and whoever is after your mum has figured out that you’re her son. My boss is trying to sort things out and I was instructed to go off the radar with you. That is why we’re here.”
Uzo scratched his head.
“I didn’t know I was adopted. No one ever told me that.”
“Well, I’m sorry.”
“Where is this place? Where are we? And who is the man that we went to see?”
“This is the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology. It’s a flying school where pilots are trained in Nigeria. The man we went to see is my dad. He’s the rector here.”
Uzo rubbed his hand over his face.
“You told me your dad was a business man who travelled a lot.”
Leela’s face was expressionless.
“What else did you lie to me about Leela?”
Her gaze unflinching, Leela replied
“So what we shared the past year wasn’t real? All those things you said? All the times we kissed?”
Leela raised a hand as she pushed herself off the wall.
“None of it was. I’m sorry.”
She walked towards the door.
“I need to get some sleep. I suggest you do the same thing too.”
Uzo swallowed a slight lump in his throat.
“Can I get my phone please? I need to call Nathan. He’ll be worried about me.”
“No you can’t. You can’t trust anyone right now Uzo. Except me.”
“Sure. Says the woman whose relationship with me the past year has been a lie.”
Leela did not respond. She simply walked out of the room and shut the door quietly.
by Ogechi Nwobia
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