Elizabeth smiled slightly. “I am sorry; I don’t know who you are.”
David swallowed. “Of course you do, don’t deny it.”
She blinked. “You are harassing me, kid.”
He dropped to his knees. “I am sorry, mom.” He cried
She laughed sarcastically. “I don’t have a son, he died.”
“No Mom, he didn’t. He’s right here; it’s me, David.”He paused to catch his breath. “David Sunflower, your son.”
She scoffed. “Young man, you are getting me really upset. Please, don’t make me call security.”
He shook his head. “You may call them; I just want you to know I am sorry.”
“I am not your mother, please get out.” She whispered as she shook her head unable to believe what was going on. “You are not my son, you are a liar.”
He held her hand. “Mom, I am David, stop this, mom.”
“You are David Coker!” she yelled. “Now get out!” she shouted as she pressed the emergency bell near her bed.
Tola took a large gulp directly from the vodka bottle. Ini laughed hard as she sipped gently from her own glass. “You were sober…”
“Up until this moment!” Tola retorted. “Ini, you are the devil! I can’t believe you would go that far just to hurt Shola.”
Ini shrugged. “That devil would have done the same to me if she had had the opportunity.”She replied and took a deep breath. “Although, I must say I regret it now.”
“You should!” She stressed as she took a deep breath. “Shola is good. She cut a serious deal.”
Ini smiled. “Her tenure is over.”
“What are you planning?” Tola asked as she poured herself another glass. “You always have a plan B, you are too evil not to.”
Ini smiled faintly. “Of course, I have a plan. I have turned myself in to the police! My jackpot! That idiot is not aware and so I am going to force her to file a report and then make her withdraw it when I let her know that I have turned her in for blackmail”
“What?! Ini…” Tola started.
She scoffed. “Tola, you really need to be smart in life. Our people say when you are in the sea if you can’t eat the whale get ready not to be eaten by it, be fast.”
Tola hissed. “Does that even exist?”
She nodded with a grin. “I just coined it, and so, it does.”
“Rubbish. I don’t like what I am hearing. You have gone too far, Ini.”
She sighed. “Too far to look back now!” she replied as she drew closer to Tola. “The truth is I am really sorry about what I did to Shola, but she is paying evil for evil.”
“What did you expect? You staked her career. An eye for an eye!”
Ini sneered. “Is what you go to learn at church?”
“Don’t even go there.” Tola replied moving away from her gently. “What if Shola doesn’t file a report?”
Ini smiled. “She will! Don’t be a pessimist. Henry is putting ideas in her head on my behalf.”
“Yes, he is helping me nab her! I am expecting her to do that tomorrow. She is already upbeat about who filed in the anonymous report, so I guess she would want to topple it as soon as possible.”
“Have you thought of the possibility that she would play the victim and not turn herself in?”
Ini scoffed. “She won’t! I know that fool, she won’t, and I am putting all my cards on it.”
Tunji Bankole’s driver pulled up in front of a warehouse. “We are here, sir.” He announced.
Tunji pulled his sleeves up slightly to check the time. “Are you sure?”
He nodded. “There he comes.”
They watched as Femi approached from the warehouse twisting and turning right and left, he knocked kindly on the glass as soon as he got to the car.
Tunji pushed the door open. “Thank you for meeting me.”
“Yes sir! But sir, why am I doing this? My life, my job, my family, they are all at stake here.”
Tunji took a deep breath. “Femi, I know you have worked for Mr. Coker for a long time and you are loyal to him, but sometimes, we don’t need to do things wrongly.”
“What’s your point, sir? I have kept Chief Bello alive and lied to my employer risking my own life, what’s in it for me?”
Tunji brought out an envelope. “That’s enough money for you to run away and start your life in any country or city of your choice, get away before Mr. Coker finds you.”
Femi nodded. “Bbbbut sssir…Why are you doing this to your friend?” he stammered
“That’s none of your business! Where is Chief Bello?”
Femi took a deep breath. “He is in my house.”
“Get him out of there as soon as possible, and let me know when you do.”
Femi nodded and without another word stepped out of the car.
The nurses tried to keep David back. “Please leave, sir.”
Wole held him. “It’s okay, man.”
“I don’t know you! You are not my son! You are Bolu’s son!” Elizabeth yelled furiously.
David fought hard to get away. “Mom, I am sorry. I am sorry.”
“Go away, David! I don’t want to see you. I don’t ever want to see you! Leave.”
The nurse stepped up to her. “Please calm down, ma. We don’t want you to get yourself worked up.”
“Get that man out of here.” She ordered.
The Nurse nodded and turned to David. “Please leave.”
David stared at her. “I just want to talk to you, Mom. Please…” Elizabeth turned her face away. Heat flushed across David’s face as his tears rolled down his cheek.
Wole pulled him out. “Come on, David.”
David swallowed. “Wole, she will never forgive me.”
“We would keep trying. She must forgive you.” he replied, as he walked with David to the car.
Ini hurried to the door in her bathrobe. She took a peek through the keyhole. “Oh my…” she muttered as she opened the door. “Good morning, sirs.”
“Good morning. We are from the Police station.”
She nodded. “Clearly.”
“We have a warrant for Ms. Obong to be interrogated.”
She nodded. “That’s me, let me see it.” She replied, collecting the document. She breezed through it to confirm Shola’s name in it. “Okay, give me fifteen minutes.” She said, and shut them out.
Shola smiled as Ini took her seat. “Justice always prevails my dear.”
“I know.” Ini replied.
Mr. Itama walked in and signaled to the standing officers to be dismissed. “I have read your statement, Ms. Jones.”He started. Shola nodded with a smile. “We have decided to file a report back to your agency and we would check with the security unit for evidences.”
Shola scoffed. “I have the evidence here.” She said dropping a CD on the table.
“How did you come across this kind of information?” he asked, raising the CD before her.
She smiled. “I simply helped the Police do their job.”
He nodded and turned towards Ini. “Ms. Obong, I have also read your statement and we would try to reconcile yours with hers.”
“I have some evidences here.” She replied, bringing out a file from her bag.
Shola slammed the table. “What evidence could that be?”
Mr. Itama stared at her. “Ms. Obong here also reported a crime from your end. Are you not aware?”
“Not at all. They are all lies, cheap lies.”
He nodded. “We would see you both in due time once we have processed your information.”
“What are you doing, Ini?” Shola asked.
Ini smiled. “Nothing.”
Mr. Itama cleared his throat. “On a lighter note, you both are public figures, are you both ready for this?”
Ini nodded. “Yes, we are.”
“Speak for yourself. What do you mean, Sir?”
He put Ini’s file into his drawer. “You both have filed reports against one another, I am not even a judge but I can promise you both that you are both guilty.”
Shola slammed the table. “Impossible! I was the victim.”
“You blackmailed me.” Ini replied with a smile.
Shola stared at Mr. Itama. “Sir?”
He nodded with a wry smile. “I am in a very nice mood and I would be willing to help you both resolve this matter as long as you both are prepared to let go.”
Shola swallowed. “Are you saying that I could go to jail for that?”
“Exactly. You both are on the wrong side of the law.”
Shola’s face fell. “Not fair.”
He nodded. “I understand how you feel, but, Ms. Jones, you are in luck that I am not willing not to send you both to court without a warning, what would it be for you both?”
“What choice do we have?” Ini asked.
He smiled. “There is only one, both of you would close your cases here and as a law enforcement officer, I would melt the punishment which I am liable to give to you.”
Shola took a deep breath. “What sort of punishment?”
He fetched his handbook. “We could regard this as a mild case of public nuisance and since you both have a history of that, you each get 2 hours of community service for a week.”
“Fair enough.” Shola replied.
Ini shook her head in disagreement. “I want to go to court.”
Mr. Itama took a deep breath. “Are you sure?”
Shola stared at her. “Please give us a moment to talk alone outside.” She replied, dragging Ini out.
I stared out of the black Limousine as it pulled up in front of one of our companies in Abuja.
“You are going to love it here.” Mom said as she stepped out to the teeming press who were expecting the arrival of Prof. (Mrs.) Bankole.
I took a deep breath as I stepped out. I waved with a smile, Mark had told me to expect an ambush.
“Ms. Kimberly Bankole, how are the preparations for your wedding coming along?” “Kim Banks, you have pushed Millaroca back up, are you going to abandon her now?” “Ms. Bankole, are you taking over your father’s company here in Abuja?” The questions kept pouring in. Is this what Genevieve Nnaji and co. go through? I thought.
“Schedule an appointment for an interview with her.” Mark said, telling the press off.
I took a deep breath as I got into the elevator. “What was that all about?” I asked.
Mark smiled. “Last night, I sent in word that you were in Abuja, I am hoping you won’t be ambushed later on.”
Mom nodded. “Good job, Mark. Impressions need to be made.”
I scoffed. “Mom, I am not cut out for all of this.”
“It’s okay dear, we would help you out.” She replied as we stepped out onto the first floor. “Kimberly, we would be meeting the members of staff later on after lunch, but I want you to prepare yourself for work here.”
I stopped and stared at her. “Mom, I am not here to work. You know I want Millaroca.”
Mark nudged me ahead kindly. “Yes, we know.”
“Mom, what is this?”
She smiled. “Do you want to remain at home bored? This is just to take you away from boredom. Now let’s go, people are staring.”
I nodded as I walked on with them.
Bolu Coker stared at David as he walked in. “Have you forgotten about your suspension?”
“I haven’t forgotten. I just want to know why I am getting married in two weeks. Do you need Kim’s inheritance so badly?”
He nodded. “Yes I do, I know money means nothing to you, you have made a lot for yourself, but I want my right soon. I am broke.”
“Father, have you no shame?”
He smiled. “Why? It was an agreement. I am proud. I want it soon and I want it now.”
David took a deep breath as he loosened his tie. “When last did you check on my mother?”
Bolu hissed. “She must be dead.”
“My mom is not dead.”
He smiled. “Good for her. What’s this all about?”
“I saw my mother yesterday.” He said as a tear drop rolled down his cheek. “My mom doesn’t want me again.”
Bolu blinked as he sat up straight. “Where did you see her?”
David scoffed. “Why?! So you can finish off what you started? He shook his head stubbornly. “No, I won’t tell you.”
“Then why are you here?”
David took a deep breath. “I am here to let you know that I am no longer getting married to Kimberly…”he said. Bolu’s jaw dropped. “Not on your terms, father.”
“What do you mean? I don’t care what you do and how you do it, we already have an agreement which you would sign at the registry and that’s final.”
David smiled. “Things change. This…has changed.”
Bolu scoffed. “You can’t do that.”
“Dad, I love Kimberly and I refuse to lose her to a selfish old man like you.”
Bolu slammed the table. “You don’t have a choice! That paper is valid as long as two people are in agreement, I have her father.”
David nodded. “Not for long…” he replied and approached the door. “Dad, remember my mom is alive, so don’t get too comfortable.”
“Is that a threat, David? Elizabeth is a vegetable.”
David turned towards him. “It’s funny how the weakest could hurt us, right? I heard Prof. Mrs. Bankole ruined your take over.”
Bolu charged towards him and held him by the collar. “What are you driving at?”
David smiled. “You are sitting on my mom’s fortune, it would soon be pretty uncomfortable.”
“Be very careful young man, you know what I am capable of.” He retorted.
David dropped his father’s hands. “Don’t ever touch me like that again.”
“I made you, David.”
He scoffed. “I am not proud of it.” He replied and walked out.
Henry took off his sunshades as soon as he came out of the sports centre. His phone rang. “Dear cousin, what do you want?” he said aloud as he stared at the caller. The following conversation ensued between them;
Henry: Hello, Shola!
Shola: I won’t need your services anymore.
Henry: Take a chill pill, couz! Why is that?
Shola: Ini and I have resolved our differences and so any info you have for me is useless, therefore, no money for you.
Henry shook his head as the line went dead. A wry smile lurked around his face and he soon started to dance. “We did it.” He said aloud.
“This can be regarded as a first grade madness.”
Henry stopped dancing as he stared at the lady in the Chrysler who had just hurled at him. “Excuse me?”
She took off her shades. “You shouldn’t be dancing in the streets.”
“FYI, this is no street, this is a free road, university campus. My dance didn’t hurt anyone, did it?”
She nodded. “Yes it did. There is a lady across the road that just dropped dead because of it.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Your sense of humour is really weak.” He replied as he adjusted his tennis bag and leaned against her car. “Smooth ride, you are not from around here, are you?”
“I think I have a good sense of humour.” She replied with a smile. “That aside, I need to get to Moremi Hall, could you please help me?”
He smiled as he stared at Moremi Hall which wasn’t far off. “It is really far, you will have to give me a ride.” He replied.
She nodded with a smile. “With all pleasure, thank you.”
He jumped in. “Straight down.”
She drove on. “So, is my sense of humour really that weak?”
He scoffed. “That should be the least of your worries, you are in a car with a guy you don’t even know.” He flashed a grin at her. “You should be scared.”
She scoffed. “Why? You are in a car with a lady you don’t know, she just picked you randomly, she could have picked any other guy.”
He stared at her as he slipped his hand underneath his shorts. “Really?”
“You are scared. Cool.” She replied.
He cleared his throat. “Here’s Moremi.” He lied.
She pulled up. “Don’t be scared, I am not a serial killer. Thanks for the help.”
He immediately jumped out. “Sorry boo!” he said with a smile. She raised an eyebrow. “What? You really are not from around here. Moremi is back where you picked me, just opposite. This is my destination. Thanks for the ride.”
She took a deep breath. “That’s not cool, man.”
“I know! Henry is typically ‘not cool’.” He replied and ran off.
Oyinkan dropped the receiver as she smiled. “Nice to have you here, what’s up?”
“Oyinkan, I came to get you for lunch.”
She smiled. “Ben, stop consoling yourself. I can’t be Kim.”
“No, I am not using you,the thing is Mr. Adeoye just certified pay raise with this success Millaroca is enjoying.” He replied with a smile. “I have decided to spend the lunch with you as a way of celebrating.”
She scoffed. “Is this because Kim is out of town?”
“Just shut up, okay…I love you!”
She giggled. “You know movies and pick up lines will do you no good.” She replied grabbing her bag. “Let’s go eat. I am starving.”
“Are you running away from me?”
She eyeballed him. “I have two counseling sessions after lunch, I am starving.” She said as she walked out.
He smiled and followed briskly.
Tola stared at Wole as he tried convincing a client to take on a house. He had learnt the ropes pretty fast. She withdrew from the conversation and took her seat staring at them. Wole never flashed a glance at her as he walked smartly along with the client. She hoped and prayed that he would at least turn in her direction, but he didn’t. ‘He must have written me off!’ she thought. They even drove in separate cars to meet up with the client.
Wole ushered the client out of the building and stepped aside allowing the client to make a phone call. He stared at Tola from afar. ‘She was so quick to jump into her car. She must hate me so much. What if she decides to break up with me? I can’t let Tola go.’ He thought.
Tola took a deep breath as Wole approached her. “The Client is ready for the final negotiation.”He announced.
“Tie it up, it is your commission.” She replied.
He wore a faint smile. “I am still under you, ma’am.”
“Wole…”she stressed sadly. “I think…”
He cut in. “It’s okay, I’ll tell him you are unwell, I would tie it up properly.”He said and walked away.
She wiped a tear drop from her face as she watched him leave.
Oyinkan wiped some mayonnaise from her mouth. “My first two clients are coming in soon.”
Ben smiled. “So, you would get paid for psychoanalyzing them?”
“Of course! But that’s not the motive.”
He nodded, “I see.”He cleared his throat. “So, what’s your first case about?”
“It is confidential.” She replied with a smile.“Let’s talk about you, so, did you also get a promotion?”
He smiled. “I would tell you if you agree to go out with me.”
“Durr! I am out with you already.”
He scoffed. “Like in a proper way, on a date perhaps.”
“What would happen when Kimberly returns?” she asked.
He took a deep breath. “Oyinkan, I don’t know, but one thing I know is that, I don’t want to ever lose you.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be your friend forever.” She replied with a smile. “We have to go.” She said, picking her bag as she walked out.
“If I were in your shoes, I would jump at the opportunity of working here.”
I stared at Mark. “That is exactly why we are different.” I replied with a smile. “Clearly, you enjoy working with my mom, that’s good for business.”
He smiled. “What do you know about business? I think you should frequent your mom’s enterprises.”
“I never knew she had so much.” I replied, flipping through the pages of a magazine.
He collected the magazine carefully and replaced it with a folder. “These are financial records from last month, you might want to take a look at them.”
“You have got to be kidding me!” I replied, placing the folder on the table. “I’m not going through that.”
He smiled. “Why do you want to return to Lagos so badly?”
I smiled. “Do you have a family?”
“I have my little girl in Calabar.” He replied.
I sat up. “I have my life in Lagos.”
“Your life?” he asked with a smile. He then paused. “David Coker, right?”
I nodded with a smile. “Yeah…everything is not right without him.” I started. “I don’t know why I am telling you this.”
He smiled as he took his seat. “I know how you feel, love is crazy.”
“But David and I are going through some tough times.” I replied. “I am scared.”
He smiled. “You have been sad since the flight down here, and all through breakfast, Why don’t you go to him?”
“It’s complicated.” I replied.
“Love is a beautiful thing, I only realized how much I loved my wife when she died.”
I took a deep breath. “I am sorry.”
He smiled. “It’s fine. I never knew back then, I was too occupied to notice.”
“We all make mistakes, although it’s really sad that she’s gone now.”
He nodded. “Yeah…I wish I could relive those days, anyway, I think you should stop running and return to Lagos, go back to your love…your life.”
“I don’t know if it is the right thing to do, I think I hurt him.”
He smiled. “We all make mistakes. Don’t wait too long to have yours fixed.”
I stared at him with a faint smile. “What am I gonna do?”
“I can get you a ticket to Lagos for tonight.” He said, with a smile. “Might not be first class.”
My eyes lit up with some hope. “I’ll take anything.”
“I cannot believe you are still here. Are you stalking me?” Henry asked.
“Why should I?”
He smiled. “I left you here, you should have been long gone, you are lucky the bad guys are not here to hijack this baby.” He said tapping her car’s bonnet.
“Are you better than the bad guys? I gave you a ride only for you to turn out to be a con man.”
He frowned. “That’s a strong word, lady. I am no con man!”
“I want you to take me to Moremi Hall.”
He scoffed. “Henry doesn’t take orders from anyone, my dear.” He replied, with a smile.
She nodded. “Okay, I have actually been to Moremi and returned, I thought I’d give you a chance to redeem yourself.”
He laughed. “Why?”
“I am a fan of yours. It’s a shame.” She replied. He raised an eyebrow. “I read your article on the ‘break my heart’ thing, the one you posted online.”
He stared at her. “My paper! Oh my…”
“Henry Rodger? It’s okay, wasted journey!” she said as she pushed her weight up from the car. “Thanks.”
He pulled her hand. “I am sorry, I am usually very playful.”
“I see…anyway, I have to leave now.”
“Please…I really am sorry. To be honest, I didn’t mean to piss you off.”
She scoffed. “Well, you did.” She said and wriggled from his grip. He hurried to the car. “What do you want?”
“I want to make it up to you. I am sorry.”
She nodded. “Now you are sorry because you know I am disappointed in you, right?”
He nodded. “Yes. I am a jerk, I know.”
She scoffed. “Impression has been made, sorry.”
He jumped into the front seat as she entered. “I am sorry.” He said, with a smile. “And I think your sense of humour is cool.”
She laughed. “You are a real jerk.”
“What can I do?!” he said with a smile.
She smiled back. “I’ll take the drink.”
He nodded. “Henry Rodgers, nice to meet you.” he said, stretching out his hand.
“Mirabel Briggs.” She replied, taking the hand.
David watched carefully from a distance with his binoculars. Mother Francesca waved at Elizabeth as she drove off in the Victoria’s home pickup truck. He watched as his mom walked slowly towards the garden. “Now or never” he said to himself and jumped out of the bushes.
Elizabeth gasped as she saw him. “What do you want, young man?”
“Mom…I just want to talk to you.”
She scoffed. “I think I haven’t had a bath yet, I might embarrass you.”
He took a deep breath as his voice broke. “Mom, I am sorry. I regret everything I have done.”
She nodded. “Why are you looking for me all of a sudden?”
“Mom, I have been looking for you for a long time now.”
She scoffed. “David, I don’t want to ever see you again. Please, don’t ever look for me.” she said, as tears flowed down her eyes. “Go away from me.”
Tears flowed from his eyes freely. “Mom, I have lived the last twelve years of my life in regret, please don’t do this.”
“Are you saying I am not justified?”
He shook his head in disagreement. “You have every right to hate me, but I don’t want that to happen.”
“All those years of rejection from my own son, you meant everything to me, but now, David…David you are dead to me.”
He dropped on his knees. “Mother, please.” He said with his head bowed. “Please mother, forgive your son.”
Elizabeth lifted her eyes up to fight back tears which didn’t stop. “David, you hurt me.”
“I know, Mom…I am sorry. I just want you to forgive me.”he pleaded as he held onto her legs. “Please…” he cried.
She stared at him and shook her head. “It is hard for me to forgive you, I can’t.”
“Mom, please.” He begged as he prostrated. “I want to be your friend again.”
She knelt down and stroked his hair tenderly. Her voice broke. “David…I am your biological mother, but I can never be your friend.” She said, and walked away.
Tola waved to her secretary and hurried to the garage. She started her car and drove off. She played some music as memories of Wole flooded her thoughts. “If Wole leaves me, it’s over. Why did he have to come and leave me this way?” she asked herself. “Wole, I am sorry.” She said, softly.
She stared to her left and saw a driver flagging her down as he tried to overtake. She pressed the controller for the window and turned in his direction.
“Flat tyre!” he shouted as he sped off.
She instantly hit her brake. She didn’t do her routine check before leaving the office. Honks blasted behind her. “Just shut up all of you!”she shouted. She heaved a sigh of relief as the traffic light went red. She kept her door and window firmly closed as some people walked over to bang on her door. She ignored them, Wole had eroded her thoughts. “Damn you, Wole! This is entirely your fault!” she said as she cried.
She looked up and had a blurred vision of a man standing in front of her car. She cleaned her eyes and opened the door to step out. She stared hard. “Wole!” she said, with a smile. His face was hard and stern. Her smile faded immediately. She approached him slowly as he stood just a line from the zebra crossing. “Wole?” she called softly.
He took a deep breath as she stood before him. The lights went green and cars drove past them leaving them in the centre
“What are you doing, Wole?” she asked.
He raised an eyebrow. “I don’t understand, you are the one who came out of your car.”
“Wole…I am sorry for everything.”
He placed his finger across her lips. He stepped back slowly and got down on one knee and opened a tiffany box with a diamond ring before her. “Tola Matthews, would you please marry me?”
Tola gasped as she covered her mouth with her right hand.