The Radison hotel,
Roberto placed a suitcase on the bed and started packing in a hurry. Sweat dripped from his face on the bed. He stopped packing and looked at the black suitcase already packed, leaning on the wall by the door like a pigmy. He looked through the wardrobe again to make sure he left nothing behind. He walked over to the window, pulled the curtain aside and peered at the cars moving on the street below. His phone rang and he answered it.
“The car is here,” a man said.
“Wait for me in the car park. I will be down in a moment,” Roberto said.
“Do you need any assistance?” the man asked.
“I have two suitcases. I can handle this.” He finished packing the suitcase and placed it beside the other one by the door. He entered the bathroom, washed his face, put on a black t-shirt and combed his hair. He looked around the room one more time before he rolled the suitcases out of the room to the elevator.
“Good morning,” a hotel maid carrying some towels greeted him with a bright smile. As soon as she turned the corner she brought out a phone. “Mukaila, the man has left his room and is taking the elevator downstairs.”
Mukaila stood up, signalled another man sitting at the other end of the lobby and they both headed for the elevators. When the doors to the elevator opened, Mukaila and the other man walked in blocking Roberto from exiting the elevator.
“Excuse me!” Roberto said and tried to muscle his way through the two men but they were too strong for him.
Mukaila said nothing. He pressed a button, the doors closed and the elevator started rising.
“Who are you and what is going on here?” Roberto asked the man in dark glasses.
“We are escorting you back to your room.” Mukaila said.
Roberto struggled to stop the elevator but the other man stopped him with a strong hand on his shoulder. “If I were you I wouldn’t aggravate Luka,” Mukaila warned the Italian.
“What is going on here? I demand an explanation!” the Italian shouted.
“We are returning you to your room until Shade gets here or tells us what to do.”
“Why is Shade doing this to me? I am not her prisoner!”
Mukaila ignored him. The elevator doors opened and they escorted him back to his room. Luka opened the door and pushed the Italian. Roberto staggered into the room and fell to the floor. Mukaila kept the suitcases in the wardrobe, opened the fridge, brought out a can of coke and sat down on a chair. Luka stood by the door looking dangerous.
Mukaila opened the can of coke and took a sip.
Roberto got up from the floor and sat on the bed. “What do you want from me?”
“Nothing,” he took another sip. “Now we wait for Shade.”
Chief Dotun Babalore stopped the car before the gate. He pressed the horn twice. A security guard looked through a small window, saw who it was then hurriedly opened the gate. The guard saluted him with a wave of his hand as he drove in. He got out of the car and entered the house.
“Dotun, why do you need to see me so urgently?” the skinny man asked from the dinning table. Dotun sat down facing the man on the table. “I am in trouble, serious trouble,” he said shaking his head.
The man drank some herbal tea, placed the cup on the table gently. “What is this about?” the man asked calmly. “Osas, yesterday I found out that a lady was carrying my child.”
The skinny man regarded his friend. “And so?” he asked. “That’s not a problem. You are a chief and your position and status entitles you to as many wives as you can marry. Her pregnancy should be a cause to rejoice because she is going to bless you with a child at your age.”
Chief Babalore looked at the ceiling,then looked at the floor for a few seconds. When he lifted up his head he was sweating. “You don’t understand. This is not a cause to rejoice at all.The lady carrying my child is my daughter’s maid.”
“Otio!” the man exclaimed spilling some tea on the table. “May we not see evil,” he prayed. “Are you sure about this?” he asked with a look of grave concern on his face.
Dotun placed his hands on the table looking forlorn. “She called me yesterday and told me about it. I think she is in some sort of trouble. Osas, I must get to the bottom of this matter and see how I can resolve it. If my wife ever finds out about this, I am finished!”
Osas, looked at his long fingers in silent contemplation. He turned to his friend. “Dotun, relax. Take some herbal tea. It will do you good.” He got up from the table and walked to a window. He stood before the window looking at the empty street.
Dotun poured himself some tea, took a sip and set the cup down on the table. He looked at his friend waiting for a solution to his problem. Osas returned to the table and sat down. “Where is this woman now?”
“She is somewhere in Lagos.”
“Find her. Bring her here and leave the rest to me.”
Dotun had a worried look on his face. “Are you suggesting I kidnap her? Osas, the days of military dictatorship and lawlessness are over. We cannot go around bundling people into our cars without regard to the rule of law.”
“The law is what I say it is!” Osas raised his voice. “Find me the girl and I will end this problem for you. All you need to do is get her into this house by any means you wish, then leave the rest to me.”
Dotun raised the cup to his lips. His hands trembled slightly and he spilled some tea on the table. “Are you sure about this?” the chief asked the ex-military officer.
Osas laughed. “Have I ever failed you?” He asked.
Dotun was silent. He cursed himself for rushing to Osas without thinking it through.
“What are you still doing here? Osas asked. “Go and get me the girl.”
Dotun Babalore looked like a man who had just swallowed a live cockroach.
Mama watched Gbenga asleep on the hospital bed. Omolara stood beside the bed in silence. Yemi stood by the door with her hands folded on her chest. Mama turned to Omolara. “Thank you for saving my son’s life.”
“Mommy, I was only doing my job,” Omolara said.
Mama found a chair and sat down. “You may not know this but I warned Gbenga not to marry that gold digger but he wouldn’t listen to me. From the first day I laid eyes on her I knew she was bad news, but my son was deceived and wanted her by all means.”
Omolara remained silent, her eyes fixed on the sleeping figure on the bed.
Mama turned to Omolara. “Sometimes we make foolish decisions but God has a way of correcting them.” She paused. “Look at this,” she spread her hands towards Gbenga. “This can only be God, bringing him right back to you under such circumstances. My daughter, please forgive my son for what he did to you. I know this must be difficult for you. But can you find it in your heart to forgive him?”
“Mama, he told me everything that happened. How he was shot by Shade then thrown into the Lagoon.” She turned to Yemi standing by the door. “Thank you for saving Gbenga’s life. If it wasn’t for you he would be dead by now. The wound on his chest was infected and could have caused more damage if you hadn’t brought him to the hospital.”
Yemi said nothing. She wanted to return to Kalu who was waiting for her.
Mama turned to Yemi. “I will reward you for what you’ve done for my son. Could you give me a moment with the doctor?” Yemi hesitated, looked at Gbenga on the bed, sighed and left the room.
Mama took a deep breath. “My daughter, as soon as Gbenga gets out of this bed, you are going to get married.”
Omolara shifted uncomfortably on her feet. “Mommy, I am not sure we are ready…” Mama raised her right hand and cut her short. “This foolishness has gone on long enough. Look at my son, he is a shell of his former self because he married that jezebel! If I had insisted on your marriage he wouldn’t be in this condition today.” Mama stood up from her chair. “You are going to tell your family that you and Gbenga are engaged and are going to get married.”
Omolara couldn’t keep quiet any more. “Mama, we need to make sure that Gbenga recovers and is nursed back to health. After he recovers we will have enough time to consider other matters.”
Mama walked to the door. “It is because I listened to such nonsense six years ago that I didn’t insist on your marriage. I am not listening to that anymore. From this moment I have accepted you as my daughter-in-law.” She paused and pointed a finger at her. “And you are not going anywhere.” She turned and walked out.
Omolara kept a straight face but as soon as mama left the room the doctor lifted up her face and smiled. “Thank you Lord for all you have done for me today. Thank you for bringing Gbenga and I together again. I know you will heal him completely and restore him back to health. Lord, could you help me tone down my soon-to-be mother-in-law, I think she’s too intense. But I am not complaining,” she said.
Standing outside the door the matriarch of the Philip’s family overheard Omolara’s prayer and smiled. Things were going even better than she thought possible. Now that the tide had turned in her son’s favour, what was most pressing on her mind was how to get rid of the maid and her accursed pregnancy.
Sadique came out of the bathroom in Gbenga’s bathrobe. Shade lifted herself on one hand and looked at him with disdain. He wore his trousers and proceeded to put on his shirt. Shade was silent with her back turned away from him.
“You know life is so unpredictable. Yesterday I was your security guard, today I practically own you and can do whatever I like with you.” He walked over to Shade’s side of the bed and stood before her as he buttoned his shirt.
“Shade, power is fleeting. A few days ago you shouted my name with disrespect as if I were your dog but now we both know who the dog is. Don’t we?” he laughed. Shade said nothing.
He finished buttoning his shirt, entered the walk-in wardrobe and searched for Gbenga’s stash of colognes. He found them and selected an expensive looking bottle. While applying the cologne he kept on talking like a power drunk politician spouting inanities. “You see, money gives you an illusion of power, but where is that power now? Can it save you from me? No, it can’t.” He came out of the walk-in wardrobe and found the bed empty. The sheets were tossed to one side and Shade’s nightwear was on the floor by the foot of the bed. “Shade?” He called out.
From the corner of his eyes he caught a movement coming from behind the door to his left. Years of military training kicked in and he stepped away from the door but he was too late. The scissors missed his neck and plunged into his left shoulder. He yelped in pain. Blood spluttered from the wound spreading on his shirt, dripping to the floor.
“Die!” Shade screamed and lunged at him again like a samurai warrior with the scissors held high above her head. The blade came down on his back, piercing soft skin tissue, spilling more blood. Sadique went down on his knees in pain. She attacked him the third time but he managed to raise his left hand, blocked the strike and knocked the blood stained scissors out of her hand.
“Dog!” she spat on him, fled the room and left him kneeling in a pool of his own blood.
To be continued.