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Nifemi kept trying Uzo’s number through the hour that morning but all she got was the automated voice telling her the number was not reachable. She began to feel a sense of panic when he didn’t show up at noon and his number was still not reachable. It was certainly unlike Uzo to be away from work without prior notice and without a word this late into the day.
Towards close of business, she had made a mental note to obtain Uzo’s house address from someone in the HR department when she received the email from the HR team informing the entire office that Uzo had been involved in a serious accident and had been flown abroad for treatment urgently. Nifemi gasped as she read the entire message and her eyes soon clouded with tears. Her head was spinning and she found herself falling through time and landing on Friday night, the fun she’d had and the promise of a call that never came. She cried when she thought about the fact that she had been low-key upset when his call didn’t come through the weekend and how she had been too proud to get in touch with him first. She wanted to bash her head into a wall. If only she had known. The email didn’t have much details other than that the rest of the staff should keep praying for him and they would be waiting for more word from the family.
As soon as she got home, she went crying to Victoria who tried and failed to soothe her. Victoria soon gave up.
“I don’t even know why you’re crying like a baby. I thought you said weren’t catching feelings for him. Since when did he become important to you?”
“So I can’t care about a person again?” Nifemi asked through her tears
“No, you can. But your reaction is not proportionate to the situation and it’s beginning to annoy me. He’s not dead. He’s not your boyfriend yet somehow you’re here crying like a new bride whose husband just died.”
Nifemi sniffed and tried to gather her wits together. Victoria was right. She was overreacting. Uzo wasn’t dead. And maybe, just maybe she probably cared about him a lot more than she was willing to admit even to herself.
“Although I must add it’s quite suspect. He meets me, I say he looks fishy, then you confront him then suddenly he has a mysterious accident and disappears.”
“You’ve started again abi?”
Victoria tapped her forefinger on her temple.
“Think. That’s all I’m asking.”
“We are not having this conversation.” Nifemi said as she stood up and walked out of the room. Victoria shrugged. She didn’t care.
Sharon held the test result in trembling hands and tried to fight the tears gathering in her eyes but she was unable to. They came down slowly in tiny droplets. Kunbi stood before her, a kind smile on his face.
Sharon smiled through her tears as she shook her head and nodded at the same time. Kunbi laughed.
He opened his arms for a hug and Sharon went into it. He held her close for a long time and Sharon exhaled deeply. Relief coursed through her body as she thought of the implication of the test results she held. The baby was certainly Ani’s. There was a mini Aniekan growing inside of her; a baby that would help her always remember the man she loved. She couldn’t be more thankful. The child was not going to be a reminder of a costly mistake but a reminder of a beautiful and powerful connection she had shared with an amazing man.
“I’m going to be a mummy Kunbi,” she whispered into his shoulder. Kunbi chuckled and squeezed her tight.
“Indeed you are.”
When she eventually stepped back and wiped her face, Kunbi asked
“Are you ready? Can we go?”
Sharon nodded and Kunbi took her hand and led her out of the hospital and into his car. They were back at his place in 20 minutes and Otto was waiting. She and Kunbi had talked the previous night and he had succeeded in getting her to release some of the hurt and frustration she was dealing with. She still had questions and Kunbi’s reassurance that she would make it through the phase left her feeling better than anything or anyone else could have done. She had also promised to ease up on Sharon after Kunbi mentioned the possibility that the child Sharon was carrying could be Otto’s niece or nephew.
Now she looked at Sharon expectantly, and when Sharon nodded with a smile, Otto leaped on her and squealed excitedly.
“It’s Ani’s baby?!! It’s Ani’s??”
Sharon laughed and tried to steady her.
“Yes, yes it is.”
“Oh I pray it’s a boy! Daddy would be so happy! Even if it’s a girl! I would love her and spoil her so much!”
Sharon laughed at Otto’s enthusiasm. It was infectious. She was amazed at Otto’s ability to translate from zero to hundred so quickly. The lady never ceased to amaze her.
“Oh my goodness, I’m going to be an aunty!” Otto was still gushing and Sharon was smiling contentedly. She felt Kunbi’s hand hang loosely around her waist and for the briefest moment, she felt like it was Ani. She leaned into him and Kunbi firmed up his grip. She looked at him and smiled. Kunbi was truly precious. She mouthed a “thank you” as her eyes glazed and she turned again to look at Otto who had now launched into a monologue of possible baby names and what plans the Ubong family would make for the baby.
Later that evening, with Kunbi off to a meeting, Sharon and Otto lay in the guest bedroom scooping from a bowl of ice cream and munching on some chicken wings, talking and laughing.
“No, he was legit the smelliest homeless person I have ever seen.” Otto was saying
“Only you will make fun of a person like that.” Sharon responded with a laugh.
“But it’s not poking fun. I was just calling it as I saw it. I was tempted to drop a can of body spray in his coffee cup. Would have served him better than a pound coin.”
Sharon laughed some more and shook her head.
“I swear I’m going to give up on you soon. You’re too much.
How come I never knew you were this funny?”
“You never asked.” Otto responded with a grin. “I certainly do try.”
“Indeed you do.”
Sharon sighed contentedly and rubbed her belly.
“I think I’ve had enough food to last me a lifetime. If I eat any more, my baby will be fat and round.”
“Don’t be like that please. Eat food so that the baby can at least have life. Please don’t be like all those people that obsess over their bodies especially when they are pregnant. Allow your baby grow.”
“Sounds so much like something Kunbi would say. You’ve been around that man too much.”
“He is hot though. And so funny and smart. What’s the story with you two?”
Sharon bit into a chicken wing lazily.
“What kind of story?”
“You tell me nau. The story of your friendship. Did you guys date?”
“Naah. Kunbi and I go way back but we have always had a platonic friendship.”
“Hmmn. No crush, no moment of indiscretion ever?”
“I find that hard to believe” Otto said sitting up and facing Sharon squarely.
“Why? You think I’m in the habit of screwing all my friends?”
“No. But you guys just seem so close and I’ve seen how he looks at you. It’s hard to believe your friendship is purely platonic. Abi someone friend-zoned someone?”
Sharon laughed again.
“Otto, I have very few strong, personal connections with people. It’s largely because I travel a lot and my life is complicated. But each connection I have, I value on its own merit and I try to preserve. Getting romantically involved with Kunbi will ruin our friendship.”
Otto observed her as she tried to take in what had just been said.
“Naah. I’m still not understanding.”
“I don’t know how to explain it. I love Kunbi but not in a romantic sense. We have been friends for about 6 years now. And in all that time, I have actually never thought of dating him. We used to see each other every other month and now it’s like once or twice a year. But each time we see, we just catch up like good friends. If I’m ever down or struggling with anything, I go to him. Well, things I couldn’t talk to Ani about. But dating him? It has just never come up. It’s possible to just be friends with a guy you know. I mean, Kunbi is nothing like any other guy I know and I feel like trying to convert what we share into something else would ruin it. Besides, he has a girlfriend he is entirely over the moon for.”
“Ah. I see. It’s because he has bae then. And you were with Ani. So if he were to breakup with his girlfriend, maybe you two could hook up.”
Sharon massaged her temples.
“I give up.”
“Well if you don’t want him, me I want o. He is hot! He is rich and he is an artist. And then he loves God. And he has all the answers to all the issues of life. How can you not want to keep that kind of person forever?”
“I do have him forever Otto, as my friend. And that is more valuable to me than a relationship. Now stop trying to put ideas into my head please.”
“Okay o. Have you bought our tickets to return home?”
“Tickets? Thought I was only buying mine.”
Otto looked at her suspiciously for a moment and Sharon shrugged, a smile peeking out of the corners of her mouth.
“Eku ise o, credit card wrecker.”
Otto rolled over in laughter.
“I love you Sharon, I swear!”
“No, you love my money. I’ve sha bought the tickers.”
“Awww. No, really, I do.”
Otto suddenly threw herself at Sharon in a hug.
“I really do love you and I’m glad I’ve got you.”
“Me too hun, me too.”
“But you aren’t scratching your eyes out yet so how do you hope to convince me that you are bored to death?” Leela said into her phone. She listened for a response and laughed quietly.
“You’re not okay. There are lots of novels there Uzo, knock yourself out.”
“I can’t believe you’re the only phone call I get in a day.” Uzo said with a feigned sulk.
“Who would you rather be talking to? The man trying to have us all killed?” Leela asked, her tone light.
“No. This hot girl at my office actually. I was supposed to call her last weekend till you carried your reggae and came to spoil my blues.”
Leela laughed loudly.
“Pele. I’m sure Harrysong will be able to fix her up. She must have realised by now that even her boo has a boo.”
“Which boo? You? So that you will carry the powder that you crushed my heart into and now throw it into the Atlantic Ocean? Mba, no thank you”
“You’re not okay. I need to go oga. Your mother would kill me if she gets back here and sees I’m not done with this task yet. We’re taking this guy down tonight. I really need to finish up with this blue print.”
“Alright. Thanks for checking in anyways. I actually appreciate you. You’ve been kind to me the last couple of days. Suspicious, but I’m thankful still.”
Leela shook her head.
“You’re impossible to please.”
“As are you.”
“Take care of yourself sir. Eat. Read. Chill. Like I’ve been telling you-”
“Consider this a mini vacation.” Uzo finished off.
“Exactly. Bye sir”
Leela hung up and smiled. There was a guard assigned to watch Uzo at the safe house. Every day for the last 3 days, she had called the guard’s phone to check in on Uzo and keep him company for at least 20 minutes, seeing as he had no other interactions with the rest of the world. They had built a steady, easy rapport. She looked forward to their conversations. He had forgiven her and they had both moved on from their failed relationship. All was right with the world again. Or so she thought.
A few seconds later, Ijeoma was bursting into the room through the main door and yelling for her to duck. Ijeoma made a bee line for the table where the blue print of the Bishop’s house in Abuja lay as well as their guns but the warning came a second too late or perhaps Leela failed to register it properly. Leela turned her back to the door to reach for her gun and the moment she raised it and turned around, she felt something cold and hard hit her chest. She took two more hits as she staggered back and crashed through the table, falling to the floor. She heard a lot of yelling, feet pounding, more screaming and more shooting and suddenly everything began to fade out. She saw Uzo’s face smiling at her as they lay in bed in his room at the Lekki house, next she saw Gbemiga smiling at her and stretching out a hand to her. She smiled back and raised her hand to meet his outstretched one then everything went black.
Ijeoma slowly regained consciousness but she did not open her eyes immediately. She lay on her side and tried to mentally register where she was and what had happened. Her joints were stiff and her body ached. Her head hurt as well but she was only vaguely aware of it. She remembered returning from one final meeting with Yakubu. The moment she got into the house, three hefty men appeared seemingly out of nowhere and lunged at her. She ducked just in time and fled into the operations room where she had her weapons, the moment she burst into the room, she had yelled for Leela to take cover but she had been too late. The men were right behind her and one of them fired off his gun at Leela who had tried to reach for hers. He had aimed straight for the heart and didn’t miss. Leela was dead in seconds. She remembered taking her gun and firing blindly for a few seconds before the men grabbed her. She was sure she had hit one person. Someone had stabbed her arm and she passed out.
The room felt dark and she finally risked opening her eyes. It was indeed dark. She wondered how long she had been out for. It had been noon when she returned to the new house they had been operating from and now it was pitch black. It had to be late at night. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness and she could not make out any figures. She was definitely alone in the room. Her hands were bound tightly behind her and her feet as well.
She needed a plan. If she was still alive, it meant one of two things, the Bishop wanted to kill her himself or he wanted to use her as leverage for something else. Either way, she determined she would not go down without a fight. Leela’s death hit her badly and further fuelled the rage she was feeling. The poor girl did not deserve to die.
She heard a small click and shut her eyes immediately. The door opened, someone pulled a switch and the room was at once flooded with light. She heard a voice which she assumed had to be the Bishop’s.
“Wake her up.”
She felt a kick in her side and she bit her lip to stop herself from groaning. She turned and opened her eyes. The light blinded her briefly and she blinked multiple times to adjust to this new found brightness.
When she looked up, two men towered above her. They were the two people who had attacked her earlier in the day and standing a hundred feet away from them was the devil himself- the Bishop. She was mildly disappointed. He looked like a regular person. There was nothing evidently sinister about him. But she knew by his age that he had to be the one and when he spoke, he confirmed it.
“You know, in all my years in this business, it’s the first time one person has taken down two of my best guys in such a short time. You are quite impressive.”
Ijeoma said nothing and her expression was blank.
“And to imagine that I have you here, before me like this? That’s a major turn on.”
Ijeoma recoiled on the inside but still said nothing.
“Do you have a tongue?”
Ijeoma did not move.
The Bishop smiled.
“Give us a minute” he said to his men. The two men left the room and shut the door behind them.
“Ijeoma, I have read your file. I know a lot of things about you. But let me warn you, you don’t want us to remain enemies. I am going to make you an offer and I’d like you to consider it. You have skills I have never encountered before. And I am sure you know who I am and what I am capable of. Why don’t we work together?”
“Over my dead body” Ijeoma spat.
“Don’t get theatrical Ijeoma. I will have you stripped and whipped and tied to my bed. I will ram my shaft into you till you beg for mercy and even then I will not stop until you pass out. Then I will wait till you come to and I will have my men repeat the process. We will all take turns with you till you drop dead. Nobody says no to me, ever.”
Ijeoma felt chills go over her entire body. No one had ever threatened her like this before and she knew it was not an empty threat. She swallowed hard and cleared her throat.
“What do you want?”
“Good question. You. And I want to be a gentleman about it. What would it cost to get your loyalty? Because that is the only way we can work together.”
“You already have me here. You have threatened me. What else do you think you need in order for me to comply with your every whim?”
The Bishop smiled.
“I want to untie you but I’m a bit concerned about you getting violent.”
Ijeoma was silent.
“Take a little more time to yourself. These walls will be your new home till I can find something to leverage on. I feel we aren’t quite at an agreement yet. Until then, no food, no drink. Just a few conversations here and there till I am certain I have you in total submission.”
He walked out of the room and shut the door. Ijeoma sighed. She could go 5 days without food. It was the most she had ever done but combined with the Bishop’s other torture methods she had heard of, she didn’t know how long she would last. She had nothing to leverage. Her manipulation skills would likely not work. She said a desperate prayer for Yakubu to come up with a plan for her rescue because with what she knew about the Bishop, if Yakubu didn’t come to her rescue soon enough, she would remain his prisoner for a really long time and that was one thought she did not relish in the least.
Yakubu crushed his fist into barrister Jide’s cheek and the latter tasted blood.
“You better start talking now otherwise I will leave a bullet in each major joint on your body and leave you to bleed to death.” He barked.
“I- I don’t know anything.” barrister Jide stuttered.
Yakubu picked up his gun and cocked it.
“You must think I’m joking.”
“I swear, I don’t know. I don’t know where he lives or how many people he works with.”
Yakubu fired a shot carelessly in barrister Jide’s direction and it grazed his arm. Barrister Jide yelped.
“I am not playing here. Ijeoma means a lot to me and by God I will kill you if anything happens to her.”
He tossed the gun aside and stepped out of the room to find Malik waiting. Kazeem was dead. He had been killed when the men showed up at the house. Malik was only lucky to be alive. He had arrived from getting lunch shortly after the men attacked.
“What have you got?”
“Bode has been able to retrieve some information on the hard drive we found. It’s from Leela’s laptop and we’re trying to see-”
“I don’t want to hear anything about you trying! Find her! Just find her!” Yakubu yelled.
He was frustrated. The men who had taken Ijeoma had also taken the laptop she had been working with and all the files they had in the house as well as the blue print of Bishop’s house. There was simply no information to work with and Yakubu was back to square one.
Once back in his study, he made a phone call to the CDI, the man in charge of the Defence Intelligence Agency, requesting for any information whatsoever that they had on the Bishop. He yelled at the officer who talked about not wanting to give out classified information and compromise an ongoing investigation for the sake of Yakubu’s personal needs and the rest of the conversation went downhill. 20 minutes of yelling later and there were still no results. He was even more frustrated. Someone knocked on his door and he ignored it. The door opened and a man in his mid-forties walked in. He was completely bald and Yakubu wondered if he had ever met him before.
“Who are you? And how are you in my home?”
The man bore a sombre expression.
“You would know if you bothered with your emails or phone calls. I have been trying to get in touch with you the last few hours.”
“Please answer the question. It appears you do not know whose home you’re standing in.”
“My name is Kunle. I was Yemi’s boss. I got news a few hours ago that she’s dead.”
“Oh. I’m sorry about that.” He said distractedly. “The body has been deposited at the morgue of a private hospital. I can arrange to have it moved to whatever city you require whenever you’re ready for a funeral.”
“That’s not why I’m here.”
“Why are you here then?”
“I know where to find the Bishop.”
“You can leave for the night. Be back here tomorrow morning at 9am.”
The two men looked at the Bishop oddly.
“You sure sir?” one of them asked cautiously
“She is tied up in my basement. No one knows where she is. You destroyed the files and killed everyone you met in the house right?”
The men nodded.
“Good. You know how I am about my privacy. I shall see you in the morning.”
Both men nodded and walked out of the house.
The Bishop poured himself a shot of brandy and went up to his bedroom. He took a few sips from his drink and turned off the light and as he lay in bed, his thoughts strayed to Ijeoma. She was a lot more beautiful than her pictures portrayed. The fact that he couldn’t read her thoughts intrigued him even more. He wondered what she thought of him. If she was frightened, she did not let on. He wondered how long it would take for her to break.
The Bishop tossed and turned in his bed for another hour but he was still unable to sleep. Eventually he got out of bed and went downstairs. He picked up the brandy bottle from his bar alongside an extra glass then made his way to the basement. It was almost 1am.
When he turned on the lights, Ijeoma stirred. She had fallen asleep.
“I’d like for us to talk.” The Bishop said.
Ijeoma saw something in his eyes and she gave him a half smile which disappeared immediately.
“Did you just smile?”
“No. I reserve my smiles for my friends. But you, you’re certainly no friend of mine.”
Ijeoma sat up and rested her back against the wall.
The Bishop set the bottle and glasses down between them. He poured into both glasses and held one up to Ijeoma’s lips.
“Have a sip.”
“I haven’t eaten all day. If I take any spirit on an empty stomach, I’ll be passed out in a matter of minutes. Are you trying to have a conversation or something else?”
The Bishop smiled.
“Actually, a bit of both.”
He pressed the glass to Ijeoma’s lips and she took a sip and sighed. He pressed the glass again and Ijeoma took a bigger gulp this time before he set it down.
“How did you manage to kill Vlad?”
“I got lucky,” she responded simply. “He had almost snuffed the life out of me when my partner returned and managed to distract him. It was easy after that.”
The Bishop nodded.
“He was dear to me. I should be pissed but I am only impressed.”
“I guess we’re even then. Your boys took someone who was also dear to me.”
“Someone dear to you? I didn’t think that was possible. Your file read no family, no friends, no close ties, nothing.”
Ijeoma smiled stiffly. He didn’t know about Uzo. That was good. Unless he was playing at something. She decided to tread carefully.
“I had a son.”
“No way. He didn’t show up anywhere. He died?”
“I dunno. I gave him up for adoption at birth. Never found him again. I guess each time someone tries to look into me, I keep hoping they find him but so far, no one ever has.”
“Maybe you’re just not meant to find him or maybe he’s dead.”
Ijeoma shrugged and looked at the drink again and the Bishop raised the glass to her lips. She took another gulp.
“You’re not drinking.” She said to him. He smiled then took a gulp from his own glass and grimaced.
“You are quite something.”
“I think not. But you on the other hand, you are quite the legend.”
The Bishop smiled.
“You know I’d heard so many stories I swore they weren’t true. I was certain you were a myth. Yet here I am, a guest in your home.”
The Bishop watched her carefully. Her eyes were glazed and there was a certain pitch in her voice.
“So you admit you’re a guest and not a prisoner.”
Ijeoma smiled and angled her head for another drink and the Bishop obliged her.
“You have me here, we’re having drinks. Never mind that my arms are stretched and bound tightly or that my joints are badly bruised. You actually have me talking. I call guest!” Ijeoma laughed softly.
The Bishop smiled. The effects of the alcohol were kicking in faster than he imagined. Blood coursed through his veins so fast, he could barely breathe. Maybe, just maybe he could have her tonight.
“And if I untied your hands?”
Ijeoma swayed to the side and slid slowly to the floor.
“What hands?” her speech was slurred and her eyes blinked a few times before they shut.
The Bishop stared at her. Was she asleep?
“Ijeoma?” He tapped her arm which was so tough.
Ijeoma blinked her eyes open then struggled to sit up.
“Sorry. Tired. But so thirsty. More.” Her speech was still slurred.
The Bishop held the glass to her again and she took another gulp from it before crashing to the floor again, this time spilling some of the contents in her mouth on the floor then letting out silly laughter like a drunken 16 year old.
The bishop took two huge gulps from his glass and set it down. Then he took a swig from the bottle and set it down. The alcohol further fuelled the desire that had been burning in his loins. He stretched Ijeoma on her side but she looked too awkward so he proceeded to untie her wrists and once he was done, she still didn’t move. She was definitely passed out cold. He turned her on her back and spread her arms out while on his knees, then proceeded to take off her top, his heart pounding with intense desire.
The moment the top came off, he kissed her flat tummy but before he could go any further, her strong arms suddenly gripped his neck tightly and began to choke him. He fought back and they both tumbled over on the floor but Ijeoma did not let go, even with her feet still bound, she maintained a firm grip till she had him on the floor again. They crashed into the wall and Ijeoma slammed his head against it, once, twice, until he stopped moving. There was no blood so she was certain he wasn’t dead. She rolled over from him grabbed the brandy bottle which was close by and slammed it against the wall. Armed with the broken bottle, she stared at him, expecting him to move at any moment and when he didn’t, she hastened to untie her feet. She dragged him away from the wall and bound his hands and feet as quickly as she could. Her head did feel woozy but the adrenaline rushing through her made it possible to function almost effortlessly.
She went to the door and stood by it, bottle raised, in case someone came running through. She waited for a few seconds but no one did. Then she unlocked it and opened it cautiously. The house was deathly quiet. She tried to remember the blue print she had seen but it was difficult. She made her way upstairs and into the main house. She searched around and eventually found her phone and a few other personal belongings in the master bedroom. But the house was also empty. No other person was around. He must have sent his men away. From what she knew about him, he liked his privacy.
She dialled Yakubu’s number and his voice came through on the first ring.
“Hello?” he sounded cautious.
“Yakubu. It’s me.”
“I’m going to call you back in an hour. I just needed to confirm that I am safe. Don’t do anything. Just stay put till I call you back.”
Ijeoma rung off. Next, she went into the kitchen and picked up a few items then she made her way back to the basement again.
The Bishop was already awake at this time and clearly he had tried to free himself.
“You raving lunatic of a woman!”
“Oh shut up! You really think it would have been that easy? If you read my file like you said then you would have known to never underestimate me.”
“You will regret this. I assure you. You don’t know who you’re messing with.”
Ijeoma left the room and returned with a chair from the dining room.
“You and I are going to have a little conversation. And after that, I will send you off on your journey to hell.”
She saw the fear in his eyes.
“My boys will be here before you know it.”
“No they won’t. Unlike you, when I do my homework on people, I do a thorough job and leave no stones unturned. You never like additional company. Your house is soundproof and you have no means of contacting them. So I know for a fact that they are gone for the night. It’s just me, you and your retribution tonight.”
She slammed the chair across his back then set it right again. She dragged him across the floor and forced him into the chair then she picked up some extra rope she had returned with and tied him firmly to the chair. There would be no escape for him.
For the next hour, Ijeoma inflicted one cut after another on different parts of his body. The cuts came to a total of 122. Each cut, she said represented a passenger on the Miranda airplane that crashed and the extra two were for Yemi and Kazeem who his boys had killed. After each cut, she proceeded to pour some pepper and salt into the wound. The Bishop raged, cursed and cried but Ijeoma did not relent. By the time she was done, he was almost dead and there were blood stains everywhere but Ijeoma did not care.
She stood back, took a picture of him and returned her phone to her pocket.
“I hope you enjoy dinner with the devil tonight.”
She turned away and walked out of the room, locking the door shut behind her then she placed another phone call to Yakubu.
“It’s done. Come get me.”
Uzo stood in his living room, staring out the window. He had been distraught since he returned to Lagos. He had been informed of Leela’s death and it had affected him more than he thought was normal.
“Come on man. Stop doing this to yourself.”
“I’m filing for asylum in the US.” Uzo said distractedly.
“I can’t do this. I can’t be here. The nightmare will never end.”
“And your mum?”
“Please, stop calling her that. That cold, unfeeling robot couldn’t even do me the courtesy of telling me about Leela’s death herself. And I’m sure she was responsible somehow.”
“Uzo, you don’t know for sure. Just let it go.”
“Don’t tell me that Nathan. I’m going to start processing the documents tomorrow. Leela’s former boss is helping me. After her funeral, I’m getting out. I really cannot do this anymore.”
Uzo shook his head.
A day after his return, Nifemi swung by the house, like she had been doing every day since she got the news at the office. She had not expected to find him there or looking that physically healthy either with no scars. They ended up in a fight and he blurted the whole truth to her. Nifemi was stunned. Then she tried to kiss him but Uzo was having none of it. The loss of Leela was still fresh in his heart. Nifemi told him she thought she was in love with him but he told her it was all in her head. He ordered her out of his house and they had not spoken since then.
“What about her?”
“Uzo, I know you enough to know that you feel something for her. You’re just being stubborn.”
“Even if I do, this is not the time or place. It will not even end well. So what’s the point?”
“You never know man. Don’t shut it down completely. Give it time. If you move there, keep communication open.”
“Nope. Whatever it is she thinks she feels, it’ll be gone in a matter of weeks, I guarantee.”
There was a knock on the door and Uzo sighed. I don’t want to see her. Please tell her to go away.
Nathan went to the door. It was actually Nifemi outside but she pushed past him and went to face Uzo directly.
“I want you Uzo. I have never been more certain of anything in my entire life. I am hurting deeply because I know you’re hurting as well. This is nothing like I have ever felt for anyone before. Don’t do this please. Let me love you. Let me help you heal.”
Uzo shook his head.
“I am a wreck Nifemi. You don’t want to get caught up in this mess.”
“I do. And it doesn’t matter how you try to push me away, I will keep coming back. I will wait for as long as it takes.”
“I’m leaving the country.”
“I will come with you too. I don’t care where you go.”
Uzo massaged his temples. This woman was unrelenting.
“Six months. If in six months you still feel this way, we will have a conversation and try to work out something.”
Nifemi smiled and kissed him suddenly. Uzo tried to protest but eventually gave up. There was something about the fragrance she was wearing that made his head spin. Or maybe it was the manner in which she claimed his lips. But something told him he would not be able to wait six months.
“I’m leaving tonight. For good this time.”
Chief Ubong nodded.
“Thank you for everything Ijeoma. You have no idea how much peace you have brought me.”
“I’m glad I could. We burned down the house. All evidence has been destroyed. Not a single thing can be traced back to you.”
“Thank you again. Meanwhile, I got the best news today. Ani’s girlfriend is carrying his baby. I’m going to be grandfather.”
Ijeoma smiled tightly.
“I’m happy for you. Please take care.”
She stepped out of his study and went past the two young women chattering happily in the living room. She could not bring herself to talk to Uzo because she did not know what to say to him. Yakubu told her he had taken up the asylum option and they would help process his move to the US. She was grateful for it but she knew her time in his life was definitely over. She could not afford to get involved again.
Chief Ubong returned to the living room to meet Sharon and Otto.
“Daddy this is the first time I’m seeing you happy in weeks. I’m so glad Sharon is having this baby!” Otto said enthusiastically.
She was certain Sharon’s baby was the reason for the light that had returned to her father’s eyes but she would never know the truth. Chief Ubong opened an image on his phone and smiled again as he stared at the Bishop’s corpse taken just before Ijeoma had burned down the house
“Me too honey, that has made me so happy.”
He finally decided to delete the picture. He had gotten revenge for his children’s deaths. He was thankful for the ones he had remaining and even more for the baby on the way. But above all, he was thankful to and for Ijeoma, the one woman who had made it all possible. Her hunting skills were truly legendary and he marvelled at how she had been able to successfully uncover the Bishop’s plot and bring him down.
He recalled her statement about being gone for good and smiled. He doubted that Ijeoma would be able to stay inactive forever. It simply was not in her DNA. Not as long as evildoers remained in the world.
by Ogechi Nwobia
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