Hunter’s Game S2 (10)

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previous episode

Williams woke up with a start. He looked around the room and discovered he was by himself, as was to be expected. But for some inexplicable reason, there was a void in his heart, a yearning for something he could not immediately place his finger on. He just knew he felt some latent sadness that he could not account for and as he sat up slowly in his bed, it soon hit him. Tinu had been here last night. He sighed. There had been an argument, raised voices and she had stormed out of the house saying she would not be returning until he got his shit together.

He was still struggling with Aisha’s death, almost a month later. He thought he was getting better- Tinu had been helping and when he tried to think of why they had ended up fighting last night, he couldn’t wrap his head around it. He heard his doorbell go off in the distance and he ignored it at first but whoever they were, they simply would not go away. He eventually dragged himself out of bed and into the living room. When he looked to see who it was, he found himself hurriedly opening up the door.

Tinu walked in, a kind but firm expression on her face. Williams followed her into the living room and when she turned suddenly to face him, he came to an abrupt halt to stop avoid bumping into her.

“You and I need to talk.”

“Sure. Go ahead” Williams said as he scratched his head. He wasn’t sure what to expect.

“You have been using me-”

“Tinu-”

She raised a hand to object to his interjection.

“No wait, let me finish. You have been using me to fill the void Aisha’s death created and I resent you for that. The reason we fought last night was because I had a lot of pent up annoyance that you tipped over with your careless statement. You told me I am not Aisha and you honestly thought I wouldn’t flip?”

“But there was a context to that” Williams protested weakly and Tinu rolled her eyes.

“You’re missing the point. I don’t give two shits for your context. I’m not trying to be Aisha. And the truth is when we dated the first time, I was only a seat filler until whenever it was that she would return. And she did return and claim your heart. But now she is dead Will and she is never coming back.”

Williams was subdued and he stared at his feet.

“I care about you Will. I always have but I can’t keep letting you use me and hurt me like this.”

“So you’re gonna leave me too?” Williams’ voice was small and Tinu felt a tinge of guilt but that was it.

“Just for the time being. I know I was insensitive last night and said some really hurtful things but that’s why I’m back here so we can have a civil conversation. I don’t want to be used anymore. Your grief is not something you can deploy as a shield for your inadequacies. You have not treated me right at all. You only call when you need something. And every single time I answer and show up at your doorstep, you manipulate me into having sex with you, then you feel better then I end up feeling like thrash because I know there’s nothing in it for you. You do not care about me as a person and your grief is an insufficient excuse to keep manipulating me. I won’t let you do that anymore.”

Williams stared at her in silence. Her chastisement hit him hard but he knew he would not last a week without her. He needed her friendship. She had been there for him like she had said and he had failed to notice how awfully he had treated her. But she was right. In all her consistency, he had never once bothered to find out what was going on in her life or how she was faring as a person. It had always been about him and his needs.

“What do you want me to do?” He asked humbly.

“Don’t call me or reach out to me. Deal with this on your own and if at the end of your mourning you’d like us to still be friends, give me a call.”

Williams nodded slowly.

“Ok…”

Tinu gave him a curt nod.

“Good bye Will.”

She turned around and walked briskly out of his house and suddenly that yearning, that latent sadness Williams had woken up with overshadowed him again like a cloak wrapped thickly around his shoulders. How was he to find his way without her?

***

Sharon sat on the toilet bowl in the bathroom of her exquisite suite and stared at the two lines in the strip she held in her hand. Her heart stopped and the entire room zoomed out into one looming, dark space. All she could hear was a soft buzz in her ears. Her mind lacked the capacity to conjure any coherent thoughts and all she could imagine was that this was not happening. No way. It couldn’t possibly be happening. The tears came to her eyes and she fought them back weakly. She had no one to blame but herself, what use would tears serve?

After what seemed like hours, Sharon finally got off the toilet seat and flushed. She walked shakily out of the bathroom and back to her suite, her head was still buzzing. Her devices lay just as she had left them- laptop open in an excel sheet she had been working on, iPad emitting music from the YouTube app and her phone charging in a corner. She stared at them and had a sudden urge to throw them against the wall but common sense prevailed. She sat beside the laptop instead and moved her fingers across her trackpad, looking but unseeing at the screen.

It was the email notification that caught her attention and brought her back to earth. Otto had finally responded to the email she had sent two days ago.

Hi Sharon, I’m good. In Aberdeen, got some tattoos and piercings, been to a strip club, kissed some lesbian chic. Basically trying out all the wild stuff in life. You know it’s too short. Hope you’re well.

-Otto”

Sharon was not certain what hurt her heart more, the fact that Otto seemed to be on a train wreck or the fact that she just discovered she was carrying Tobe’s child. She went to the fridge in the corner and retrieved a bottle of water. A few shots of vodka would have sufficed to clear her head but she was not rescinding on her alcohol abstinence. She had to find a more effective way to manage stress and all other unpleasantness.

She wondered what she was to do. Otto’s tone in the email did not indicate that she needed saving and even if it did, did she have the capacity to fix things? Hadn’t she also embarked on her own self-destruct mission, the evidence of which would rat her out in a few months? Who was she to turn to for help anyway?

Certainly not Tobe who had been trying desperately to get in touch with her. She remembered his stupid outburst the day she was leaving the country. He had tried to contact her for two days without any luck and had showed up at her apartment without any warning. Then he had launched into a sorry tale of love and feelings and a future and a legacy and preserving Ani’s memory. Nothing he had said that evening had made sense and the moment she was in a cab heading to the airport, she’d discarded the entire conversation. There was no way she could call him now 2 weeks later and say she was pregnant.

She was still contemplating her options when another email came in.

“Can we talk sometime please?”

It was still from Otto. Sharon sniffed and typed out a response, asking for a means to contact her. Otto responded with a Skype ID and Sharon called immediately. When the call connected, neither of them had anything to say and after a couple of failed starts which involved them talking at the same time, Sharon exhaled and asked

“Are you alright love?”

Otto shook her head.

“I’m struggling. I have so many questions without answers. I know how much Ima loved God. How she used to tell ‘Kela that he would end up in hell for chasing so many women and ‘Kela would always say he would only be assigned 70 virgins in heaven. But I’m just here wondering, why did Ima die? Was she not religious enough? She was the uptight one, the one that used to see visions every time, how did she not see this coming? And what about ‘Kela and Ani? Are they burning in hell?”

Sharon swallowed hard.

“If I said I knew the answers to your questions Otto, I would be lying.”

“But what if there is no God?” Otto asked

“What if we’re being sold lies by all these preachers and religious houses? What if people just cease to exist when they die and what if there is no after life?”

“I don’t know Otto. I’ve been struggling myself. But not with my faith. I haven’t even given God a single thought.”

“Well maybe you shouldn’t. It’s pointless.”

“Actually, I think I should and I would. I haven’t been honest with anyone about how much Ani’s death hurt. I haven’t tried to deal with the pain. I have just shielded it and done stupid stuff. But I actually want to start fixing it now.”

Otto saw Sharon’s eyes ake on a new light and she was confused.

“Okay? I don’t see where this is going.”

“Do you still have a valid Schengen visa?”

Otto nodded, “Yes.”

“Okay. I’m in Ibiza at the moment. I’ll get us tickets to France. There’s someone I think we both need to speak to.”

“Sharon, if this is a pastor, don’t bother.”

“No, he’s not a pastor. He’s an old friend. And he is someone I ought to have reached out to a long time ago.”

Otto’s eyes clouded.

“You think we’re going to be okay?”

“I know we are hun. I know we are. Just get your things together. I’ll book the tickets for tomorrow and we can both try to go about dealing with our hurt the right way. For their sakes. It must hurt them to know we’re falling apart this way.”

Otto let the tears drop as she nodded.

“See.”

She raised her sleeve up and showed off the tattoo on her left arm. Sharon smiled.

“You are truly a survivor Otto. And this will pass.”

They talked for a few more minutes before Sharon hung up. She felt immediate relief. How had she not thought to reach out to Kunbi in all this time? He was just what she needed and she knew his promise of all round availability to her at any time would forever be in play. She scrolled through her contacts on Whatsapp and found his name. She called him on the app and the moment his voice came through on the line, Sharon fell apart.

“Sharon?” He called softly. But she could not stop the tears. She just let them flow for a long time while he tried to soothe her over the phone.

“I’m sorry Kunbi. But I need you.”

“I am available to you hon, you know this. What can I do?”

“Where are you?”

“At home in Paris. Why?”

“Can I come see you tomorrow evening?”

“Of course darling. Where are you? I would be more than happy to have you.”

“I’m in Ibiza at the moment but I intend to come tomorrow and I’m bringing someone with me. Our lives are falling apart and I need you to do what you always do.”

She heard his smile through his voice.

“Anytime. What time is your flight? I’ll come get you from the airport.”

Sharon shook her head and wiped her eyes.

“I haven’t booked it yet. Just needed to double check that you were in the country.”

“Well I am. And I’ll see you tomorrow. No matter what it is, I speak to your heart this moment. Peace be still.”

Sharon held on to those words long after the conversation ended. They were the reason she was able to eat and subsequently fall asleep later in the day.

***

Uzo rolled the car to a stop in front of Nifemi’s house, a smile spread generously across his face as he bobbed his head to music from his car stereo. Nifemi had a similar smile plastered across her own face. It had been a great night.  They had seen a movie as planned, then headed off to Shaunz bar for karaoke and drinks on a whim. On the way there, Uzo had asked again about Fola and Nifemi told him as much as she could without making herself appear too much like the victim. She and Fola had dated, he went abroad and broke things off without a reason. She didn’t say he stopped talking to her, just that he had ended things without a reason, only to surface six years later with a tale she did not buy. Uzo had been gracious after the revelation. He neither bashed Fola like most people in his shoes would have done, nor did he make too much of a fuss over Nifemi. He had just carried on with other conversation after saying that life happened sometimes and that he thought she handled Fola’s reappearance well.

At karaoke, Nifemi was impressed by his strong vocals which were evident in his rendition of Sam Smith’s “Stay with me.” She would never have guessed that Uzo could sing or that he would be a Sam Smith fan either. But he had shocked her, even more so when he hit all the right notes towards the end of the song. His rendition had earned him an explosive applause at the bar and she had been proud.

They had then performed Sia’s “Cheap thrills” together and the song gave her such a rush, especially as she held Uzo’s eyes flirtatiously while they danced, mirroring each other’s fluid body movements. She had not had that level of sync with anyone in music and dance, yet the chemistry did not bother her. She barely acknowledged it anyway.

But seated in the car in front of the house now, she was somewhat reluctant to get out. It was almost midnight.

“Are we going to stay here all night with that smile on your face? Because I swear I don’t mind. It’s the most beautiful thing since Picasso.”

Nifemi laughed somewhat self-consciously.

“Watch yourself sir.”

She opened her door and got out. Uzo followed suit, walking her up to her doorstep.

“This was great-” Nifemi started

“Just great? Please, it was awesome, fantastic, mind-blowing, mad exciting, etc, etc”

Nifemi laughed softly.

“You should drink more often. See how alcohol causes you to loosen up.”

Uzo pouted

“Are you calling me uptight?”

Nifemi pulled his nose.

“Sometimes. Like, you can be really distant and shielded.”

Uzo grinned.

“I have trust issues.”

He held her eyes under the radiance of the moonlight and for the briefest moment, he thought about claiming her petite lips. Nifemi smiled nervously.

“What?” she asked.

“You are beautiful” he responded with the softest of tones.

Nifemi brushed her hand over her hair and kept on smiling without a word.

“We should do this again. Maybe not too soon but definitely again.”

He stepped back and Nifemi nodded.

“Sure.”

“Alright, I’ll head home now. But I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Nifemi smiled.

“Good night Uzo, and thank you for an amazing night.”

“My pleasure.” He dipped his head slightly in a mock bow then walked off to his car. Nifemi stood at her doorstep, watching him till he got into the car and drove off, then she smiled to herself and went into the house. Six weeks, too much, this was almost week 4 and Uzo was already tipping in her direction. Just a little more prodding and he would fall.

Uzo thought there was something slightly odd about her smile as he drove away but he shrugged it off. Why ruin a great night by overthinking things? He would never have guessed that Nifemi could sing and dance like that and the way they had connected over karaoke? Too much. He had never shared anything this intense with anyone his entire life. Perhaps it was too soon to tell but there was some chemistry there and he would likely be exploring it. To hell with his talk of not messing around with colleagues. Nifemi seemed to be into him too. He would follow the trail and see where it led.

He was home in less than 15 minutes and as he walked into his house and turned the lights on, he jumped in fright.

“What the hell??”

He clutched his chest and backed away, towards the door.

Leela who was seated on a couch in the living room smiled at him.

“Hello you, I was beginning to wonder if you’d show up at all.”

Uzo felt the entire energy drain from his body.

“No. No friggin’ way. You’re not here and we are not even about to have a conversation.”

He walked past her into his bedroom and slammed the door shut, turning the key in its lock.

***

Uzo woke up with a mild headache. Someone was knocking on his bedroom door. And that made no sense because- he suddenly remembered the night before and he sighed. Of course Leela was in his house. It had not been a dream. He got out of bed, unlocked the door then walked back to his bed and climbed in.

Leela opened the door and walked in.

“Glad you’re finally up. Good morning.”

Uzo ignored the smile.

“Don’t come here and pretend like we’re all good. What do you want?”

“You seem rather pissed.”

“Don’t do this Leela. No more mind games. I am tired of them. And no more pretending like you don’t know what you did. Of course I’m pissed at you. You can’t keep disappearing and reappearing in my life at will. I am not a puppet.”

Leela went close to the bed but remained standing, arms folded across her chest.

“True. You have every right to be mad at me. But trust me Uzo, whatever I did, I did with your best interests at heart.”

“If you’re trying to piss me off further, it’s working. Just stop talking. My best interests at heart? What am I? Some lost dog? You left me after we got back from Zaria. Not a word of warning. Then you reappeared saying you wanted to make things work, then you left again. So don’t expect me to throw you a prodigal child’s welcome party now. You certainly weren’t missed”

Leela smiled.

“I’m not asking for a welcome party. I’m not even asking to be let back into your life. That’s not why I’m here-”

Uzo held up a hand.

“I don’t want to hear it Leela. Every single time you show up, there’s always trouble or hurt in the horizon. I swear I’ve had enough of those to last me a lifetime.”

Leela let out a frustrated sigh. This was not going to be easy.

“Uzo, I’m sorry I hurt you. I’m sorry for every single time I have caused you pain. But believe me, I wouldn’t be here in your room unless it was absolutely necessary. Believe it or not, I care about you and every time I left it was because I didn’t want to drag you down to the dungeons with me. I had personal demons I needed exorcised. At first I thought that coming back to you would take care of that but I was wrong. So I am sorry. But please, you need to hear me out.”

Uzo looked at her in silence for a while.

“What do you want this time?”

“You mother sent me.”

Uzo’s eyes grew wide.

“Wait, what? No way, no friggin’ way! You have got to be kidding me!”

“Uzo-”

“I knew it!”

He leaped out of bed and began pacing the room.

“The nightmare is about to resume isn’t it?”

“Uzo, calm down. Not necessarily.”

“What do you mean by not necessarily?” Uzo snapped.  “Can’t I just have a moment of peace?”

Leela’s impatience was mounting but she bit her lip to contain it. Let Uzo vent all he wanted. He needed it. She watched him pace about some more before she spoke to him calmly.

“Your mum suspects someone will try to use you to get to her. She only needs you to go underground for a few days until she sorts this out.”

“Is there any time someone isn’t trying to use me to get to her? Why can’t that woman stay out of trouble sef? Why is she always pissing people off?!”

Leela smiled. She had wondered the same thing as well.

“This wasn’t deliberate Uzo. Your mum was truly retired but someone made her return to the game and this time, for a good cause.”

“Sure.” Uzo remarked sarcastically. “Always for a good cause.”

“Is that why that girl claimed to recognise me? They have found me already then!”

Leela’s brows came together in a frown.

“What girl?”

“My colleague’s best friend. About 2 or 3 days ago. I dropped my colleague at home and the girl claimed to recognize me then told my colleague I was the guy from the murder scandal. I guess your people didn’t do such a fine job of cleaning up after all.”

Leela smiled.

“Naah. That was just fluke. Maybe the girl really did recognise you. If this person had found you, you would be dead by now.”

Uzo gulped.

“See, I’m tired of all these death threats abeg. Can I just live? You know, have a moment of peace? Or better yet, a regular life where guns aren’t going off and dead bodies aren’t showing up at my doorstep? I do not like the theatrics at all.”

“We don’t choose what happens to us in life Uzo. We get dealt random cards but we take them anyway and we play to win, not claim that the cards are unfair and give in. I need you to brace up. This will not be as tough as the other time, I promise.”

Uzo washed his palms over his face.

“What do you want me to do?”

“Pack a small bag. I’ll send you off to Ado-Ekiti until the coast is clear. Your mum says Walrus has a safe house there. You should be fine.”

“Walrus ke? Aren’t those the same guys that tried to kill us 6 months ago? Are you insane??”

Leela sighed.

“Uzo, can you just trust me and stop asking me 21 questions? Please?”

Uzo shook his head.

“Nope. Thanks to you, I already have a great deal of trust issues. I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what exactly is going on. And you seem to forget I have another job now. You can’t uproot me from this one like you did the last one. News flash, I actually like this job.”

Leela rubbed both palms together and exhaled into them to calm herself.

“A month ago, a plane crashed on its way from Lagos to Abuja. The man who owns the airline reached out to your mum to say he suspected foul play because 3 of his children had died in the crash. Your mum did not show up until he started getting threatened. And when she did, she recruited me to help investigate the crash and see if there was someone behind it like Chief Ubong was alleging. It turns out someone is actually behind it. A ruthless former warlord. He sent a hitman after us 2 nights ago but we took him down. Your mum is concerned for your safety Uzo, so she asked me to come down here and get you to a safe place while we resolve the matter.”

Uzo was subdued.

“Wow. This is real? Like, this is happening in Nigeria?”

Leela nodded.

“Fam, Nollywood needs to make a movie out of this story.”

Leela smiled.

“Just like you to make a joke out of this.”

“But I’m not making a joke. I’m being honest.”

“Pack a bag Uzo.” Leela waved him off. “Something small, like a week.”

Uzo nodded and walked to his wardrobe. He pulled out a small bag and began loading items into it.

“So are you coming with me to this safe house? And what about my job?”

“I’ll have someone get you an extended sick leave from the office. Hopefully if this is sorted in the short time your mother plans, you’ll be back to work. And no, I am not coming with you. I need to help your mum out. You’ll have no phone or internet for the period you are gone.”

Uzo stopped in his tracks.

“You say?”

“Uzo you know the drill already. And you can’t tell anyone.”

“No way! I’m telling Nathan at least. Can’t have him going crazy with worry.”

“Alright,” Leela acquiesced. “But only Nathan. Because the story your office is getting is you were involved in an accident and have been flown out of the country for treatment.”

Uzo sighed and resumed packing his bags.

***

Chief Ubong woke up from his short nap as the plane taxied along the runway. He was finding it hard absorbing all that had happened over the weekend. After Ijeoma’s call to him on Friday morning, barrister Jide had called him in the evening to say he couldn’t find Ijeoma, just like Ijeoma had predicted he would. Chief Ubong was incensed but he played it cool and said he had not heard from her but he was sure she was out there getting her job done. He added that it was just like Ijeoma to disappear for a few days then return with results and assured barrister Jide that she would turn up sometime soon.

It was Sunday morning and he was just back to Abuja. God help barrister Jide if he showed up at his house because he would likely snuff the life out of him. Fola took his bags as they get off the plane and on the ride to his house, he called Ijeoma.

“I just got back in,” he said, the moment her voice came through the line. “Will you come to me or do I come to you?”

“Where are you?” she queried

“Just leaving the airport.”

“Alright. I’ll text you an address. Meet me there in 30 minutes.”

Chief Ubong said he would and hung up.

He tried to imagine what would have become of him and his business if Ijeoma had not shown up. He would probably have been dead by now. The loss of his children had killed a part of him but the loss of his business and a failure to get retribution would have put him six feet below.

Thankfully, Ijeoma had come through on the negotiation with the families and money had been wired to them on Saturday. His lawyer would be notified on Monday that the suit had been dropped and he was to pretend like he didn’t know anything about what Ijeoma had done. He kept wondering what to do with barrister Jide subsequently because he knew that when this whole thing was over, he would need to do something. No one who betrayed him like that was worthy of any form of mercy.

His phone buzzed with Ijeoma’s text message and he gave the address to the driver. To Fola, he turned and said

“We’ll drop you off when we get into town and you’ll take a cab with my things back home. I have a meeting I must attend urgently.”

Fola nodded. “Yes sir.”

Exactly 30 minutes later, Chief Ubong was being ushered into a lush living room whose length and width stretched out like a ballroom. Ijeoma was already seated there and beside her was the young lady she once introduced to him as her partner. There were flags mounted in different corners of the room and pictures of a man somewhere around his age in military uniform littered the walls. Chief Ubong recognised the face and frowned.

“Exactly why am I standing where I think I’m standing?” he said to Ijeoma.

“Because I have answers both of you seek and he’ll be instrumental to wrapping this whole thing up. Take a seat.”

Chief Ubong did as he was told. Major General Yakubu walked in shortly, dressed really casually.

He nodded to chief Ubong and shook hands with Ijeoma.

“You have something for me?”

Ijeoma nodded and turned to address both of them.

“Yemi checked out the 3 other airlines you sent to me chief. The Bishop is a major shareholder in all three of them and he could not afford to let your airline be rated above any of the others. When the threats he sent to you did not work, he decided to do something drastic by crashing a plane. He got lucky because he found the one flight that happened to have almost all your children on it. He planted a mole at your company. Some obsolescence checks were meant to be carried out for certain parts of that plane but those tests were never completed because this mole saw to it. But what actually crashed your plane chief, was fuel starvation. The fuel valves on that plane were positioned incorrectly. The end result was that the two engines were pulling fuel from a single tank. So this had nothing to do with pilot error. It was human sabotage.”

Chief Ubong and General Yakubu looked at her quietly when she was done speaking. Ijeoma waited for a response and when none came, she continued.

“The Bishop is no longer an illusion. We know he exists, we know he is dangerous and we know he did this. I only have one question for you both. What would you have me do?”

“Bury him” Chief Ubong said quietly.

General Yakubu nodded.

“Make it painful and agonising.”

Ijeoma nodded.

“I’ll need more hands from Walrus.” She said to General Yakubu.

“Done.”

Chief Ubong stood to leave.

“Thank you Ijeoma.”

“Don’t thank me until it’s over chief. Let me deliver on this first.”

“My confidence in you is unwavering.”

He turned to leave and Major General Yakubu followed him out as well and offered an apology. Leela yawned and Ijeoma packed up the files they had come with.

“You haven’t slept in 48 hours. Fix that. Because we have work to do.”

Leela nodded and yawned again and the two of them walked out of the room. It was sunny outside and Ijeoma donned on her aviator sunglasses as they got into the car. This would be her last assignment and something whispered to her in the corner of her mind that she would not end it alive.

For Wukeh; The Gift that Keeps Giving

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“Ugee, my time is yours, use it. Use me.”

I received that blank cheque some time back and every single time I have had to cash in on it, it has never bounced. Such is the beautiful and rare gift of friendship I have with this amazing human. Wukeh, the gift that keeps giving. This kind, warm, spirited, supernaturally intelligent, effervescent human being. Although I am often tempted to doubt his humanity sometimes, then he pushes himself too hard and his body chooses to remind him that it is just flesh.

I have been good friends with Wukeh for about 4 years and in all that time he has only shown me love, loyalty and solid support. What I find most intriguing is the fact that I am not the only recipient of the magnanimity of his heart. It is not even a question of where 2 or 3 are gathered either. I am almost certain that Wukeh has over a thousand personal connections wherein he gives 110% of himself and I will never know or comprehend how he is able to do that. But those who know, know.

I can’t even begin to recount the number of times Wukeh has come through, especially when it mattered most. All the words of wisdom, the reassuring conversations in my moments of doubt and despair. The uninhibited humour in his words and manner that crack me up for days or leave me grinning from ear to ear hours after a phone conversation. There are so many stories to share. But one that immediately comes to mind as I write this is when I received feedback on my first assessed essay a few months ago. I picked up the paper with the D3 written boldly and I walked dejectedly to my flat thinking of how I had failed myself and the entire world. I sent one message to him and his first response was “Congratulations, ‘D’ stands for determination.” I didn’t even know when I started laughing. Then he called and encouraged me for about an hour, reaffirming faith and emphasizing the most important thing about education being learning and not necessarily cramming and passing. Of course when I made an A in my last essay, you can imagine who one of the first people I contacted was.

Or do I speak of the period I was crumbling under deadlines and battling inefficiency, one message to Wukeh and he recommended I read Essentialism. (You should read that book too. It will change your life.) I did as he said and my productivity multiplied. Or do I speak of how we became accountability partners and knowing that I was accountable to someone made me so much more responsible with all my tasks and weekly goals.

I have learned so much and shared so much with Wukeh, it is all too incredible for words. Always, he offers a new and refreshing perspective, a fresh idea, an alternative approach and a generally more efficient way to live life and get things done.

And it hasn’t always been about work. We have had the most fun together, turning up across different cities. I recall the one time he paid me a surprise visit in the ‘Deen and I was beside myself with excitement. Wukeh is a burst of sunlight on a cloudy day, a breath of fresh air in a dreary space and a sliver of hope in the most despondent of situations.

I tell myself that Ephesians 2:10 is my personal anchor scripture, the foundation upon which I do all that I do when it comes to human relations but Wukeh is totally Ephesians 2:10 goals. He lives that scripture like it was written with him in mind and I am absolutely inspired by it.

Wukeh is that one person that will tell me to jump and I will take the first leap before asking how high. For him I would go above and beyond, over a cliff even, he has earned it. And because there is precious little I can give in return to this superhuman, I have resolved in my heart to continually replicate the kindness and love I have received from him towards other people.

Today is Wukeh appreciation day. So thank you Wukeh, for your kindness, for your wit and charm, for your wealth of wisdom which you so graciously dispense, for your humility, for your drive, for your dreams, for your spirit,  and above all for your essence. I earnestly pray that you never lose these. You my dear friend are everything. You are truly legendary.

I am wealthy in relationships and you, Wukeh are unarguably the largest share in that wealth. Dearest, I love you, fiercely, and I am eternally grateful for the gift of you that keeps on giving. Always for you, above, beyond and over a cliff.

Happy birthday my darling.

Hunter’s Game S2 (9)

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Vlad touched his index finger to Ijeoma’s neck to check for her pulse but suddenly heard a sound that distracted him. He stepped away from the body and moved towards the stairs in the darkness. The sound of pattered feet became heavier as the bearer drew closer to the basement and Vlad crouched by the stairs, out of sight.

The door opened and Leela instinctively turned on the light switch, wondering why the room was in pitch darkness. The first thing she noticed was Ijeoma’s body lying limp on the floor. She screamed in panic and rushed down the stairs. Once she got to the bottom of it, Vlad leapt out of his hiding place and grabbed her. Leela was taken by surprise but panic and dread fuelled her adrenaline and she trashed out violently. Vlad struggled to maintain a tight grip but Leela who was incredibly flexible wriggled and writhed, constantly slipping out of his grip. She jabbed her elbow in his side and shot her right foot back, jamming her spiked running shoes into his shin. Vlad grunted but didn’t release his grip.

Ijeoma suddenly leapt from the floor where she’d been lying, a knife in her hand and she struck Vlad on the neck. Vlad did not see it coming because his back had been turned to her in the scuffle with Leela. He groaned in pain and Ijeoma retrieved the knife, thrusting it in again as blood began to gush out. Vlad relaxed his grip on Leela and grabbed his neck instead as he sank slowly to the floor, spluttering and choking until he passed out.

Leela’s breathing was heavy and her chest hurt.

“Are you okay?” Ijeoma asked. Her voice was subdued and her breathing slightly irregular.

Leela nodded.

“Who the hell was that?”

Ijeoma didn’t respond. She found her phone on the centre table and took pictures of Vlad’s body then composed and sent out an email.

“We’ll find out soon enough. Help me move him.”

They dragged Vlad’s weight across to the room to a corner under the stairs and Leela went back upstairs to get some cleaning agents. By the time she returned, Ijeoma was on the phone, her expression pensive.

“Yes, I suspect so too but I need a confirmation in another 10 minutes. It’s urgent.”

Ijeoma hung up and leaned against the centre table, burying her face in her palm. It was the first time Leela ever saw her ruffled and it heightened her worry.

“Ijeoma, what’s going on? What happened after I left?”

Ijeoma rubbed her eyes and stroked her chin.

“I was asleep. When I woke up, something was off. The entire room was dark and when I tried to stand up, he attacked me and tried to strangle me. He had a good angle to his grip and I realised that struggling would be useless so I pretended to struggle and slowly eased out, trying to buy myself some time and catch him off guard. Then you showed up.”

Leela knelt on the floor, her hands stained in blood and stared at Ijeoma.

“We aren’t safe here anymore.”

Ijeoma shook her head.

“No.”

She suddenly turned around and began to gather up documents and folders. Her phone vibrated on the table and she picked it up.

“Yes?”

Leela observed her keenly and saw her eyes darken.

“Right. Thanks”

She hung up again, shut her eyes and held her breath. When she exhaled, she cussed under her breath.

“Bloody hell.”

Leela stared at her blankly.

“We need to leave. This is about to get extremely messy.”

Leela swallowed. She wiped the floor hurriedly as best as she could while Ijeoma gathered up the rest of the documents and tossed items into the lone gym bag she had. Ijeoma left the room armed with the documents and headed to the car which was parked in the driveway. In two trips, she was done. Next, she placed another call across to Maj. Gen Yakubu.

“I need a favour.”

“Go.”

“I’ll send you an address. There’s a body here. Make it disappear please. Preferably before midnight.”

“Done. Anything else?”

Ijeoma paused briefly as though contemplating her options.

“I-j?”

“Bishop. This is him and I’m going after him.”

“Ijeoma. Bishop is an illusion. How do you go after someone that doesn’t exist?”

Ijeoma sighed.

“Yakubu, he does exist. And I may not have linked all the dots but I swear he is behind the crash and Aisha’s death.”

“What do you need?”

“Space to think at the moment. Just send your boys to clean up this mess first.”

“Done.”

Ijeoma hung up and turned to Leela.

“That man, he’s a Russian mercenary. One of the highest paid hitmen in the business. We got lucky. He never slips up, ever.”

Leela gaped and suddenly began to laugh but her laughter held no mirth and was more fear than amusement.

“Great. Just great.”

“Get your stuff let’s go.”

Leela did as she was told and in 20 minutes, Ijeoma was driving them to Transcorp Hilton. Ijeoma was worried. The Bishop was someone she had heard of while she was with Walrus but just like Yakubu had said, he was more a myth than a real person. No one knew what he looked like but she heard the stories of his personal involvement in war crimes across Africa, from Liberia to Central Africa Republic and even South Sudan. He derived some sick personal pleasure in torture and no one who ever crossed paths with him survived. It made sense that he would be crash an entire plane with over a hundred people and not break a sweat or feel the tiniest bit of remorse. He was cold and deadly. No African government or international court had ever tried to indict him because of course, it was difficult to track someone who didn’t exist. Rumor had it that he had undergone multiple plastic surgeries and had the ability to manipulate his looks at will. She had no idea how she was to begin finding this man but one thing was certain- it was either she found him first and took him down or he would find her and kill her.

***

 Nifemi marched purposefully to Uzo’s desk that morning determined to obtain some form of explanation from him but when she got there, Uzo was not in. She milled around for a bit and just as she was about heading off to her cubicle, she saw him approaching. She maintained what she thought was a neutral expression but Uzo saw past it.

“Madam, am I in trouble?”

“Good morning to you too sir.”

Uzo smiled as he set down his laptop bag.

“Good morning ma. Am I in trouble?”

“You’re late.”

Uzo smiled smugly

“Twenty minutes. Big deal. No one is dying.”

“I need to talk to you about something.” Nifemi said with an air of seriousness.

Uzo raised an eyebrow in a frown.

“Hmm. Okay.”

He followed her as she led the way to the office cafeteria and took the seat right across the one she sat in.

“I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to be honest with me.”

“Okay?” Uzo asked with a half-smile and half-frown.

“Early this year, there were rumours about a guy who was dating another person’s fiancée and how the two of them killed the fiancé and fled town…”

Nifemi observed Uzo keenly as she spoke but he didn’t flinch.

“Okay?”

“Did you read about it?”

“I don’t keep up with rumours. But why is that relevant?”

Nifemi suddenly became uncomfortable. She felt silly for the question she was about to ask. Victoria had been so sure, yet here was Uzo looking entirely clueless.”

“Well?” Uzo asked. Nifemi sighed.

“Victoria said you looked like the guy.”

Uzo laughed. “Which guy? The dead guy?”

He led her eyes and slowly, his smile disappeared. Nifemi felt really small.

“No- the, the other guy.”

Uzo studied her face for a few seconds then suddenly pushed his chair back and stood up. Nifemi stood up right after him.

“Uzo, I’m sorry!”

Uzo ignored her and made to walk out of the cafeteria but Nifemi went after him and grabbed him by the arm. They almost bumped into a couple of interns and the girls giggled mischievously as they walked past.

“What?” Uzo asked coldly

“I’m sorry. I don’t even know what I was thinking.”

Uzo maintained a cold stare.

“Oh I know what you were thinking alright. That I am a murderer.”

“Uzo it’s not like that” Nifemi pleaded.

“So how is it like? I haven’t been here for one month and you and your best friend are accusing me of being a murderer?”

His voice was not raised but each word hit Nifemi hard.

“I’m sorry. I just thought to ask.”

“Well thank you for asking. The day someone tells me you look like a murderer, I’ll be sure to return the favour.”

He snatched his arm away from her grasp and walked away without looking back. He did not even return to his desk. He left the office and took the elevator downstairs. Once outside, he exhaled loudly and paced around, trying to steady his breathing. It was the first time anyone had come close to recognising him since the incident. He had grown a full beard, changed his haircut style and even got a fake birth mark on his face to completely disguise his appearance and so far it had worked. So who was this person that was trying to blow his cover?

He also knew that Leela’s organisation had been responsible for wiping the internet so that no one would ever be able to recall the story but he guessed it was true what they said. The internet never forgot. He did not know what to do but he desperately hoped that the little act he had put up in there would deter her from asking further questions or digging further because he was not about to lose this job. He thought some more about Victoria and her claims to never forget faces. Was she legit or was she some part of another agency that was trying to smoke him out? Was this drama really over or was it just about to begin again?

He thought about contacting Leela but discarded the idea almost immediately. Leela had quit the agency. He knew her life was a mess and he was not about to get sucked back in. There was nothing she could do to help him. He could only hope that this would go away as quickly as it had come without any drama. But Nifemi had definitely taken him by surprise. He ran his fingers through his hair and walked back to the office.

***

Ijeoma held the phone to her ear as it rang out one more time before dialling the number again. It was 6am. Why was he still asleep? A grumpy voice, laden with sleep suddenly came through the line.

“Hello?”

“Hi Mr. Benson.”

She heard him sit up in bed and imagined that the sleep would have immediately cleared from his eyes.

“Hi. Hi.”

“I’m calling this early because I need to warn you. Things are about to happen very fast.”

“What?” she heard the fear in his voice but continued nonetheless.

“This morning, you’re going to call your clients and convince them to take a settlement of 2 million naira each.”

“Wait, what?”

“Just shut up and listen.” Ijeoma snapped impatiently.

“You will convince them to take the money because that is all they’re going to get. Your handler will likely contact you before midday today. He is probably going to be very angry. Should he ask about your communication with me in recent time, you must tell him that you haven’t heard from me at all. And the moment that call drops, take your wife and your kids and leave town. The money will be transferred to your clients before the end of the week. But you must convince them today to take it. I don’t care what you have to say to make that happen.”

“But, I can’t just do what you’re asking me to do. That’s just crazy. How am I supposed to just leave town?”

“Do you value your life and those of your family Mr. Benson?”

“Yes?”

“Then do exactly as I have said. There is a storm coming and I assure you, you do not want to get caught up in it.”

Ijeoma hung up the phone and looked out the window. The sun was nowhere in sight but the streets were beautifully lit. She had barely gotten any sleep through the night and had been awake since 4am, thinking and strategizing. She needed to get a team together. She had killed a person she was certain the Bishop had sent to her and she knew he would be pissed. It was only a matter of hours before Bishop realised something was wrong. Thankfully it had bought her some time.

But her mind was still a web of chaos. Somethings were not adding up. Why was the Bishop involved? If he was behind the air crash, what were his motives? Was he working for someone else? Although that would not make sense. The man never worked for anyone. She remembered chief Ubong and decided to call him. He needed to be given a heads up. Chief Ubong picked up on the second ring.

“Ijeoma?”

“Good morning chief.”

“How is it going?”

“Well, that depends. I think I may have found the person behind the crash but it is a lot more complicated than I can explain. I just need to ask a couple of questions first. What other airlines were in play for the title of national carrier?”

“Just 3 other top ones. I’ll text you a list.”

“That would be helpful. Next, apart from you, who else knows where I live?”

“Just Fola. Why?”

“Hmm. Well, something-”

Chief Ubong quickly interrupted.

“Ah, I just remembered. Jide called yesterday evening to ask where you were. He said he needed some information urgently and couldn’t reach you on phone so I told him to try the house.”

Ijeoma cursed silently. It was him. She had been right.

“Chief, are you sitting or standing at the moment?”

“I’m sitting in bed, why?”

“Good. Keep it together. Jide is not your friend. He tried to have me killed last night.”

“I beg your pardon??”

“Keep it together chief. Yemi and I had our suspicions. Yemi had him followed the other day and she’s done some investigations. He has not been working on the case like he told you he was and he has been in contact with whoever hired the other lawyer.”

“Oh my goodness.”

“But I need you to do me a favour chief. You need to act like all is well. I left the house last night and I’m back at the Hilton. If he contacts you about my whereabouts again, just tell him you haven’t heard from me. When do you get back?”

“Hmm. Sunday evening.”

“Alright. Hopefully I have more answers then. Meantime, I raised the settlement offer to 2 million naira per family. Please have your account officer ready to wire the money to the families by close of business today. Again, do not mention this to Jide. Do your best to remain normal and clueless if he calls you. It is important that he does not know he has slipped up.”

“Alright then. Please be safe.”

“I will chief.”

Ijeoma hung up and turned around to find Leela sitting up in bed.

“What’s the plan for today?” Leela asked.

“I need you to do some serious digging and find out everything you can about these three airlines.”

Ijeoma tapped on her phone repeatedly as she spoke.

“I just sent you a text. Dig. Find me anything from their financials to their leadership. I want to know who sits on the boards, who has shares and to what extent. Flag anything you can that strikes you as a similarity between those 3.”

Leela nodded as she reached for her phone.

“Does this Bishop person worry you?” Leela asked.

“He gives me cause for concern. But I will handle it. Just get me the information I have requested. Meantime, are you able to face Uzo again?”

Leela gulped.

“Why do you ask?”

“Because I need you to go to Lagos and check him out. It’ll take Bishop a matter of days to make a connection and go after him. I just need to be sure he is safe for the next couple of weeks. If you can convince him to go underground, that would be great. I don’t want him moving around in daylight. He might well be a walking corpse.”

“Alright.”

A knock sounded on the door and Ijeoma stiffened. She reached for her gun which was tucked in the back of her jeans and moved slowly towards the door as the knock sounded again. Her phone vibrated with a text but she ignored it.

“Who is it?”

“Malik, ma’am.”

Ijeoma seemed to relax and she opened the door, only a crack. Malik stood outside, his expression blank. Kazeem was standing beside him, eyes bloodshot. They must not have gotten any sleep. Ijeoma regarded them suspiciously then opened the door fully for them to come in. only then did she notice the bags that were on the floor beside them. They both carried the bags into the room and placed them in a corner.

“What are you doing here?” Ijeoma asked.

“The General. He sent us.”

Ijeoma smiled. Yakubu was trying to protect her. She picked up her phone and saw the text message he had just sent.

Sending you backup. They should be arriving shortly. Contact if you need anything.

She typed a short reply.

Seen.

She turned to Malik whom she had mentored briefly while still in Walrus and she remembered how they had both been mandated to hunt her down. It almost felt like a betrayal but she knew that as far as the games went, loyalty was something that changed with the tides.

“It’s good to see you Malik. We have a lot of work to do.”

She gestured towards Leela.

“This is Yemi. Yemi, Malik and Kazeem. They are here to help.”

Leela nodded and got out of bed.

“I better get started on my research then. When do you need me in Lagos?”

“Tonight at the latest. Quick trip. If you can return tomorrow, that would be great.”

To Malik and Kazeem, Ijeoma said

“Guys, you can set up over there.” She gestured to a table across the massive suite and the guys followed the direction of her hand. They set down their bags and began to unload technical equipment as well as some guns. They could tell that Leela did not recognise them. And indeed she would not have because all the time they had been hunting Uzo and herself, Leela had actually never seen them.

***

Nifemi ate her lunch in silence. Fola sat across from her watching her pick at her food.

“Stop staring at me that way. It’s creepy.” Nifemi finally spoke up.

Fola cleared his throat in embarrassment.

“I’m sorry.”

Nifemi eventually pushed the plate away. She was not that hungry anyway and her nerves were all over the place. The awkward conversation with Uzo this morning had left her feeling bad. She was usually not the one to judge people based on hearsay but the moment Victoria had convinced her that Uzo was the same person from the tabloids, she had come to him, half-convinced that he was guilty. And Uzo’s shock and hurt at the accusation made her feel bad. Now lunch with Fola was her penance. Fola called this morning to say he would be leaving town earlier than planned and she agreed to let him take her to lunch but this was clearly a bad idea. He had just ordered her food then proceeded to stare at her while she ate.

“So what’s your big explanation?”

Fola cleared his throat again.

“Erm, so towards the end of my program, I met this guy who I became really good friends with. We just clicked and we used to hang out a lot. I didn’t know he dealt drugs and one night he set me up. I got arrested and was on the verge of losing everything. But this German girl I told you was in love with me at the time came to my rescue. Her father had sick money and somehow in a matter of weeks, they were able to make everything go away. The day I got out of jail, she made me sign a contract to never contact you again. That was the basis on which she negotiated my freedom. She blocked you on all my social media and eventually insisted that I went off social media completely. There was nothing I could do. We moved together to Germany after grad and lived there for 4 years till she died in a car accident. I just packed my stuff and came home. But I didn’t know how to contact you or where to start mending things from so I just laid low. Chief Ubong offered me a job as his Executive Assistant and I took it. I’ve been working with him since then.”

Nifemi looked at him, uncertain of his story but she said nothing.

“Babe, please say something.”

“Like what?”

Fola reached across the table and took both her hands in his.

“Nifemi, I am sorry. I know it doesn’t in any way make up for the wrong that I did but I am sincerely sorry. If there was anything I could have done at the time, I would have.”

Nifemi smiled sadly.

“The truth. You could have gotten your family to tell me the truth, not treat me like some leper. You could have left me a message secretly. You could have done 5 million other things, but you didn’t. There was a wealthy German girl who was in love with you and you let yourself get carried away by all her wealth. Don’t come here and try to spin some story to make me feel sorry for you. I don’t.”

She stood up to leave and Fola held her arm and knelt down.

“Femi, please.’

Nifemi’s eyes darted around the restaurant in nervous embarrassment.

“Stop this Fola! Get up!”

“Not until you tell me you forgive me Femi. I can’t. I know I hurt you and its killing me. Please.”

More people were turning to observe them and Nifemi wished the ground would open up and claim her.

“Stand up. Please.”

Fola stood up but still onto her arms.

“Femi, I’m not asking you to take me back. I’m just saying you should let me prove to you how sorry I am. Let me make up for everything. As your friend. Only as your friend. Please.”

Nifemi’s shoulders dropped and she turned away to avoid his eyes.

“Fine. But no more kneeling in public.”

Fola smiled, hugged her then pecked her on the cheeks.

“Thank you love.”

They sat down together for a few more minutes of awkward conversation before Nifemi finally returned to the office. Once back, she played the entire lunch with Fola over and again in her head and tried to convince herself that his story was true but she realised that it made no difference to her. Fola had died to her a long time ago and his sudden reappearance with a sob story was not enough to reignite any significant form of interest. She was emotionally exhausted and just needed a time out.

The rest of the day flew by quickly. Victoria sent her a message to say she was making an impromptu weekend trip to Ibadan. She had no plans for her Friday night and decided she would just go home, make some dinner and curl up with a good book. As everyone packed up around her to leave, she remembered Uzo again and went back to his desk. He had not spoken to her at all during the day and whenever their paths crossed, he always looked away. Uzo had been laughing at something Mosun was saying but the moment he saw her, the laughter disappeared. Mosun hugged him then turned to leave and Nifemi could not understand why she was suddenly jealous.

“Still mad at me?”

Uzo shrugged.

“Nope.”

He slipped his laptop into his bag and gathered up his phone and wallet.

“Uzo, I’m sorry. Please. This- this feels really weird, you not talking to me all day.”

“I’m talking to you now, aren’t I?”

Nifemi smiled.

“Sure.”

She turned around and walked away and Uzo mentally kicked himself. He was acting like an ass. Nifemi was being gracious and his attitude was totally uncalled for.

He went after her and found her packing up her own things.

“Hey.”

Nifemi didn’t look up.

“We can both choose to act like assholes Uzo. It’s nothing new to me.”

Uzo was shocked.

“Wow. The way you go from zero to hundred in seconds will forever amaze me.”

“Sure. Like how you went from zero to hundred this morning when I asked you a simple question?”

Uzo raised both hands in the air.

“Okay, okay, truce. I overreacted. I shouldn’t have dragged my annoyance this long.”

Nifemi smiled.

“Why do I feel like you were trying to punish me for something?”

Uzo shrugged.

“Well, maybe coz you wouldn’t tell me about this mysterious nobody who showed up at the exhibition yesterday.”

Nifemi laughed.

“Amebo.”

“I kuku don’t have work.”

Uzo clasped both hands together like a market woman as he spoke and Nifemi laughed some more.

“Plans for tonight?” she asked as they walked out of the office.

“None. My guy has a movie date with his girlfriend. 3 is a crowd.”

“And you? No girlfriend to take to the movies?”

“Well, the last one I tried to date had me caught up in some murder scandal so I’ve stayed away from those.”

Nifemi caught the twinkle in his eyes and she smacked his arm.

“I’m not going to hear the last of this now am I?”

Uzo shook his head multiple times.

“Nope.”

Nifemi chuckled.

“Let me put you out of your misery tonight then. Let’s go see a movie. My treat.”

Uzo put his hand to his chest in mock surprise

“My goodness. Are you asking me out on a date?”

Nifemi hissed.

“Dream on, dreamer.”

Uzo chuckled.

“Stop forming. Yes, girlfriend, we can go see a movie together.”

He slipped his arm around her waist and Nifemi laughed and slapped it off.

“Mumu. It’s like you want another murder scandal on your head.”

The elevator buzzed open and the two of them got into it, still laughing. The moment the doors shut, Uzo pulled her close to himself and looked into her eyes intently.

“For you, I would not mind another scandal.” Nifemi’s breath caught in her throat and just as suddenly as he had drawn her in, Uzo released her and burst into laughter. Nifemi slapped his arm again.

“You’re so useless.” Uzo grinned and stroked his beard while the elevator made its way down. Nifemi checked out her appearance in the mirror, suddenly self-conscious. She needed to touch on her makeup and put on some perfume as well. Tonight would surely go well.

 

Hunter’s Game S2 (8)

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This is specially for everyone who has ever said an episode was short. If 5,000 words no do you, I am sorry, I can’t help you again. LOL.

***

Previous Episode

Nifemi’s palms were cold and clammy and Uzo watched her wring and unwring them together in mild agitation. The moment the elevator doors shut before them, he’d turned to her and asked casually with an amused expression who the guy outside was but Nifemi said no one. He knew there was definitely more than she was letting on. This person had thrown her off balance and he could tell she was struggling to maintain her composure.

The ride up was short and soon the doors opened before them again and they walked out into a hallway, all the way down till they met ushers at a doorway who led them into a hall. Uzo noticed how Nifemi’s countenance instantaneously transformed into an amiable one, blowing air kisses around strangers’ faces and laughing like she had not just shared a kiss with a dementor. He determined to mind his business and go on with the business of the day. If she wasn’t willing to share, he wasn’t willing to push. He smiled warmly and shook hands with people she introduced him to and eventually moved on to monitor the interns setting up the company’s roll-up banners and the brochures.

Nifemi listened half-heartedly to one of the top-shot investors in the industry ramble about new start-ups springing up all over the country and soliciting his funds. He wasn’t sure he wanted to take any more chances having lost money to a couple of failed start-ups. She wished he would just shut up. She needed a bathroom break. Her composure was cracking at its seams and she needed to fix it real quick. It was her outfit that had him running his mouth. He was one of the lewd ones and she was in no frame of mind to play nice.

He made to hold her waist casually and Nifemi stepped back. She suddenly checked her watch and feigned surprise.

“Oh wow. I was supposed to meet my boss at the lobby 5 minutes ago. Really sorry sir, I’ll be right back.”

The elderly man smiled, nodded and winked at her. Nifemi held a plastic smile for all the two seconds it took her to turn away from him before she hissed and hurried off to the bathroom. Once in, she locked herself in a stall and leaned on the door. What in the world had just happened? Where had Fola appeared from? This had to be a dream. She pinched her arm and winced instinctively. No, it was no dream. Fola was actually here. At the Oriental hotel. They had just bumped into each other. She laughed. Of all the scenarios she had pictured in her head, it had to be the most cliché one that would come true. And nothing, no amount of anticipation or mental simulations could have prepared her for it.

She buried her face in her palms and exhaled loudly. She felt drained. All the energy she had saved up for this event was gone. She just wanted to go home and curl up in a ball and cry? Did she really want to cry? She wasn’t even sure what or how she felt. After 6 years. She reached into the pocket of her blazer and retrieved her phone to dial Victoria. Victoria picked up on the second ring.

“You’re calling me in the middle of your Exhibition? What’s the emergency? Did Uzo propose to you in front of the guests? Are you dying? Did Mr. Toba have a stroke and die??”

Nifemi listened to Victoria’s rushed words and suddenly found herself laughing with tears gently streaming down her face. Victoria was a perfect friend for her. She laughed while the tears flowed silently but couldn’t speak. Victoria immediately sensed something was wrong.

“Femi, what’s wrong?” she asked softly.

Nifemi couldn’t speak. She just broke into soft sobs.

“Boo, talk to me. What is it? Where are you?”

Nifemi sniffed and took a deep breath.

“Fola is here.”

She felt Victoria freeze on the other end of the line.

“Which Fola? How??”

Nifemi rolled some toilet paper off the hold and blew into it.

“The same Fola. He’s here at the Oriental. We bumped into each other at the elevator.”

“You have got to be kidding!”

Nifemi sniffed and tossed the used toilet paper down the toilet bowl then flushed.

“You think I would raise that bastard’s name to make a joke? Ha. He’s here.”

Victoria was quiet. Nifemi rolled off more tissue and walked out of the stall. She stood before the mirror and shook her head. She had smudged her makeup.

“Are you okay hon?”

Nifemi nodded as she dabbed her face with some tissue, trying to fix the damage.

“I think so. I just want to disappear from here first. Like, I need to process. I was with Uzo when we saw him sef. I just pretended like he was no one. Uzo asked and I said it was nobody.”

“But of course. Were you supposed to pour your life’s story there?”

Nifemi chuckled.

“Were you crying?”

Nifemi sighed.

“Just small o. I think I was just overwhelmed. And then the things you said when you called.” She laughed again and Victoria laughed alongside.

“Ehen nau. You that once you go for these meetings or presentations, you will throway cell phone like Allen babes off paynt-”

Nifemi doubled over in laughter. Victoria was so silly.

“I kuku thought someone had to be dead or dying for you to be calling me at this time. Apparently someone was back from the dead.”

Nifemi laughed a little more and soon regained her composure.

“You will kill me one day this woman. How do you know how Allen babes off pant? How did you even say that thing sef?”

Paynt, pah-yint.” Victoria emphasized.

Nifemi chuckled and massaged her head with her free hand.

“I am tired of you o.”

“I’m sorry boo,” Victoria said, her voice suddenly taking on a serious note.

“Just try to get through the day and put this behind you. When you come home, we can rant and cuss all we want. But for now, don’t let that waste of a human being ruin all the hard you have put together. Go out there and make the best darn presentation of your life. Network, build contacts, just do your job, okay?”

Nifemi stood before the mirror, phone to her ear and she smiled.

“Thanks babes.”

“You’re welcome. Where are you?”

“The bathroom. Standing in front of a mirror and mulling over ruining your makeup.”

Victoria laughed.

“It’s nothing boo. You’re in front of a mirror. Speak to that woman staring back at you. What do we always say to her?”

Nifemi smiled and her eyes softened. She cleared her throat and spoke firmly.

“You are one hell of a woman Nifemi. The world is at your feet. You are royalty. All you do is win.”

She smiled and wiped a smudge off her cheek. The look was not too bad. She could try to fix it up a little more once she got off the phone.

“Exactly. Go out there and win baby. Call me when the exhibition is done.”

Nifemi nodded.

“Thanks Vicky. Love you.”

“Love you too bud.”

Nifemi hung up, stared at her reflection in the mirror some more then took a deep breath. She dialled one of the interns on her phone and requested the girl to bring her bag to her in the restroom. She would brush up her makeup and return to the exhibition. No way Fola was going to throw her off. He would not win this time.

***

Otto walked out of the tattoo parlour feeling really exhausted. Her entire body hurt. She had started off the day getting her nose, ears and bellybutton pierced and now the tattoos. She didn’t mind the physical pain much. It was a convenient distraction from the anguish in her heart plus it made her feel better in a way. She had planned to walk back to the hotel but with the amount of protests her body was putting up, she knew she would pass out before she was halfway there if she attempted it.

She decided to call a taxi instead. A quick google search found her dialling the number of a taxi company in no time. She gave her name and specified her exact location then waited for the driver to show up. Aberdeen was such a random city. She had travelled a lot with her siblings but for some reason they had never come up to Scotland. Twice they had made plans but failed. The night of their funeral when she made the decision to go off grid, she decided she would visit cities they had planned to visit together but had been unable to conquer. She would do it for them.

The taxi showed up almost immediately and Otto got in, giving the address of her hotel as she reclined her back in the seat. Of the 3 tattoos she had gotten, the one on her chest with the initials of her siblings was her favourite. It was heart shaped, with red ink and hints of yellow on the side. The initials “A.E.I” were inscribed in black ink at the centre of it. On her left arm, was a dragon spitting fire, at the end of which was written ‘survivor.’ On her right wrist,
“πάντα”was inked boldly in black, the Greek word for “Forever.” She was really light skinned so all her tattoos were easily visible but she spared no thought for what anyone would think or say.

The guy at the tattoo parlour had been kind and interesting. He asked so many questions and listened attentively when she spoke about wanting the tattoos and what her reasons were. He helped her decide which ones to get and explained to her that they all symbolized strength and an eternal connection to her siblings. Even though they had passed, they would live on forever in her heart and their passing would not break her as she would remain a survivor. She was grateful for all his words and once at the hotel, she popped in some sleeping pills she had brought with her from Nigeria, turned out the lights, drew her curtains and fell asleep. She still had plans to go around the city but that would only be when she woke up.

***

“Who is this woman?”

“A ghost pretty much. No one seems to know who she is or where she came from.”

The older man who had asked the question regarded his much younger companion with a grimace. Everyone called him the Bishop. Not because he had any affiliations with any religious body but because he had a silver chain with a cross permanently hanging around his neck.

“I’ll tell you what she is. An inconvenience. And you know how much I hate those.”

He struck the golf ball with his stick and watched it careen through the air to the other side of the field.

“I’ll get one of my boys to sort it out sir.” The younger man said somewhat nervously.

“No. If you could, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Get me my phone. I need someone who hunts ghosts for a living.”

The younger man did as he was told and watched as the Bishop placed a call across.

“Vlad, I’ve got a small matter I need you to take care of. I need a head and I need it in 48 hours.”

A voice heavy with a Russian accent grunted back at him.

“Your golf cart look nice. I take a ride in it and you tell me about this head.”

The Bishop smiled. Vlad had an unusual sense of humour. He hung up and waited. In 5 minutes, a tall Caucasian man sauntered down the field in his direction. He looked up at the man with a bald head whose casual ensemble of shorts and a flowery shirt failed to diminish his intimidating figure. He looked like a tourist missing from a movie set. Vlad smiled at the Bishop, revealing 4 missing teeth in the front row of his dentition.

“I tell you all the time to not smile.” The Bishop said, a bemused expression on his face.

Vlad grinned even wider.

“So much sunshine my friend. I have to smile.”

They shook hands.

“Somewhere in this city, a woman is complicating business for me. I’ll have pictures and an address sent to you in 2 hours. Can you make this clean and quick? She won’t be missed.”

“Done.

“And how is it that you’re conveniently here when I need you?” the Bishop asked leaning on his golf club.

“You’re the Bishop, I am Jesus. Lo, I am with you always.”

Vlad patted him on the back, took the golf club from him, picked up a ball from the set in a bag lying by the corner and set it down. He angled himself appropriately then struck the ball. It didn’t go too far. The Bishop chuckled.

“Don’t play golf when you retire otherwise your retirement will suck.”

He patted Vlad on the back and walked away, making yet another phone call.

“Email me the house address and at least 2 clear photographs in 30 mins, or my dogs will have your tongue for dinner.”

Vlad watched the retreating figure of the Bishop and cracked his knuckles. He was a trained Russian mercenary, now a freelancer. He went wherever the money was good and his skills were yet to be matched. He had never missed a target, had killed more people than communities were made of and for some reason had never been caught. He was called the ghost hunter because he specialised in seeking people who did not want to be found and then he made them disappear permanently at the request of whoever was crediting his account. The Bishop was someone he had worked well with in the past. He admired him and was loyal to him. Last night, he got word that the Bishop would likely be needing him for an assignment and he only needed to follow him discreetly for 12 hours before the phone call came across. If he got the information in time, he would complete the assignment tonight and go back to his country tomorrow. Nigeria was getting too hot for him. It didn’t matter how many times he visited, he could never adjust to the weather.

***

Leela hurried down the stairs into the basement breathing heavily.

“You were right! Barrister Jide is actually the biggest scum of the earth. He has been dragging the case and he has no intentions of winning it. He is not on Chief Ubong’s side.”

Ijeoma looked up from the laptop screen she had been staring at nonstop the last 6 hours. She was comparing reports she had gotten from Chief Ubong’s staff to the evidence she had seized from barrister Benson and a lot of things did not add up. It was obvious there was a snitch somewhere and someone had been altering evidence. The question was who?

“What do you have?”

“Remember how you told me he said the AIB were still investigating and he had nothing? Well, preliminary reports had been sent to him to help with the trial but he discarded them.”

Ijeoma rubbed her eyes.

“It doesn’t mean anything. He could have regarded them as inadmissible. Maybe he had his reasons.”

“How do you regard important documents which can help your client’s case as inadmissible?”

“It’s possible the other party can argue that whatever results held so far can be deemed inconclusive till the final results are out. Leave it alone Yemi. It could be anything.”

Leela frowned and Ijeoma shrugged.

“We both dislike and mistrust him. But I need something more than my guts to convince chief Ubong that his trusted friend is screwing him over.”

“Does the name “Bishop” ring a bell?”

Ijeoma’s eyes darkened.

“Why?”

“I was at the golf club today. Went there on a hunch and I flirted with some of the staff. Barrister Jide has been there a number of times to meet with someone called the Bishop. Two days ago when you snatched that folder, Barrister Jide had met with that same Bishop and had given the folder to someone at the bar to give to Benson when he showed up.”

Ijeoma licked her lips swallowed. Her eyes looked tired and she suddenly buried them in her palms and massaged them. Leela watched her in silence.

“Say something.”

“I need to sleep, then go for a run and clear my head.”

Her tone troubled Leela.

“Who is this Bishop? Is he of any relevance?”

Ijeoma shrugged.

“He makes the devil seem like Jesus.”

Leela sighed.

“I always get the worst of the lot whenever I work with you, don’t I?”

“Good is boring. You should know that by now. I’m going to nap.”

Ijeoma walked to the bed and set her alarm for 8pm, 2 hours later.

“So when are you going to tell chief Ubong?” Leela queried.

“As soon as he gets back from Lagos in a few days. I’d rather tell him to his face. But you do some more digging and see if you can find any other concrete evidence. Is there a money trail anywhere? Find it. I need something on paper.”

Leela nodded and turned to leave the room. “I’m going to find food. I’m starving.”

As she retreated, Ijeoma called out.

“Hey, did you get all the data on the families?”

“Yep! I dropped the folder earlier today but you weren’t home.”

Ijeoma nodded, turned on her side, shut her eyes and promptly fell asleep.

***

Fola sat on the bed in his hotel room, his expression pensive. He’d always known that this day would come, yet it had taken him completely by surprise. Nifemi looked so very different from the last time he had seen her. He almost did not recognise her. The curves seemed to have emerged from nowhere and her face was more beautiful than he remembered. He needed to speak with her. He knew there was no explanation that would justify what he had done but he was willing to try anyway.

Bumping into her had all but ruined his entire morning. He had been distracted at the meeting he had with chief Ubong and the insurance officers and the moment it was over, he had hastily made his way back to the room and taken a cold shower. Now he was here on the bed, thinking of the one major mistake he had made that had changed the course of his life.

His phone buzzed and he looked at the screen. It was chief Ubong.

“Yes sir?”

“A couple of friends are at an exhibition that is just wrapping up in one of the halls here. Join me please so can have a talk with them. I need as much money and support as I can get right now.”

“Alright sir.”

“10 minutes. Be outside my door in 10 minutes.”

Fola reiterated that he would and waited for chief Ubong to hang up. He picked a shirt different from the one he’d had on earlier and decided he didn’t need a tie. He just threw on his jacket, put on his shoes and walked out. Exactly 10 minutes later, chief Ubong walked out of his own room and they made their way to the exhibition hall together.

He saw her again before she saw him and he stiffened up. She was standing beside the guy she had been with earlier on and she had that intense look on her face that indicated she was concentrating deeply on whatever it was that he was saying. Chief Ubong turned to him

“Is everything alright Fola? You have been incredibly distracted all day.”

Fola blinked and shook his head.

“Sorry sir. Everything is fine.”

“Then be here 100% please.”

Fola nodded and chief Ubong walked up to a man in his sixties. It was the same man Nifemi had been speaking to earlier.

“Eddy, how you dey na?”

The man turned to chief Ubong and a sad expression overcame him.

“Ah, my brother…”

He hugged chief Ubong warmly and chief Ubong smiled.

“I’m so sorry for your loss. I would flown down but I didn’t know how to face you.”

“It’s okay. I haven’t even been entertaining guests. Between the funeral and the trial, there’s not much time left for anything else.”

“Ah. True. I heard about that. Jide is representing you right?”

Chief Ubong nodded.

“You’re in good hands then.”

“Oh, very good hands as a matter of fact. He has been really helpful. But I could do with a little more help you know.”

Eddy’s eyes were encouraging.

“Anything.”

“I need 10 million naira. My insurance officers are being difficult. I cannot get any claims till the investigation is over and even at that, you know those guys. They’ll find a way to get out of it. It’s a lot of money at stake.”

“Hmmn. I just threw in a lot of money into one of my companies that is launching a product soon. You know how I like to plant money all over. But I’ll see what I can do. It might not be the entire sum. But I’ll find you something.”

Chief Ubong nodded and they shook hands.

Eddy turned his head and spotted Nifemi as she made to exit the room with Uzo.

“Er, Nife!” He called out. To chief Ubong, he said, “I want you to meet one of my people. Very beautiful girl.”

Nifemi turned and saw him. She swore under her breath but smiled brightly. Uzo made to walk away but she held him firmly.

“Come and save me abeg.” She said between her teeth.

The two of them walked over to Eddy and chief Ubong and that was when Nifemi spotted Fola standing behind chief Ubong. Her smile faltered briefly but she managed to keep it together.

“Nife, this is chief Ubong, my good friend.” Nifemi thought his name and face were slightly familiar but she wasn’t sure why.

“Good day sir.” She nodded respectfully and chief Ubong smiled.

“Nifemi is the face of Brimmings Solutions. They are the ones launching the product I was just telling you about. An absolutely brilliant lady, you should see how she rallies all our clients. I have never met a more efficient PR person all my life.”

Nifemi smiled generously and Chief Ubong nodded again. She noticed Fola standing awkwardly behind him but she avoided his gaze.

“Thank you sir. And may I introduce Uzo? He is new on the PR team and also does our graphic designs. He designed the logo we used here today.”

She nudged Uzo forward and Uzo shook hands with both men. He held on a little too long to chief Ubong’s hand, an uneasy expression on his face and chief Ubong smiled.

“I take it you know me.”

Uzo nodded.

“I do sir. My condolences.”

“Thank you.”

Nifemi looked lost still but she said nothing.

“Let’s get you something to drink” Eddy said to chief Ubong. And the two of them walked away, leaving Fola, Uzo and Nifemi standing awkwardly around each other.

“Ifemi, can we talk? Please?”

Uzo looked at Nifemi and she nodded then he stepped back.

“What?”

“First, I’m sorry. I know how empty that sounds but I really want us to talk so I can explain myself.” Fola said urgently.

Nifemi shook her head.

“We have nothing to talk about.”

Fola reached out to hold her arm but she stepped back.

“Don’t touch me.”

“Ifemi please-”

“And don’t call me that either. Just don’t.”

She crossed her arms over her chest and tried to maintain a normal expression.

“Don’t you want to even know what happened? I loved you Femi. You were everything to me. You were at the very core of my existence. We had something absolutely magical. I know I ruined it but aren’t you even curious as to what happened?”

Nifemi bit her lower lip and said nothing.

“One hour. That’s all I’m asking for. We have a conversation for an hour and then you can decide whether or not you still want to talk to me. But please, don’t spend the rest of your life wondering. I know you want answers and I want to do right by you. I owe you that much. Please.”

Nifemi’s shoulders fell and Fola knew he had gotten through to her.

“Please. I’ll take your number and you’ll give me a time and location. I’m only in town till Saturday.”

Nifemi silently reached into her handbag and produced a complementary card which she had to him.

“Thank you, thank you, so much. Thank you.”

Nifemi turned and walked back to Uzo.

“Let’s go.”

Uzo tried to hold her arm as they walked out of the room but she shrugged him off. They walked on in silence till they got to his car. Her feet were killing her and all she could think of was getting home and soaking in her tub. It had been a long day.

“Can you take me home please?”

“Where is home?”

“Ogunlana Drive. Surulere.”

“Interesting. You live close to me. No wahala. What about your car?”

“I’ll pick it up in the morning.”

She got into the car after he did and asked suddenly.

“Who was that Chief Ubong man?”

“Oh. You don’t know him? He’s the owner of Miranda airlines. The plane that crashed last month.”

“Oh.” Nifemi said in a small voice, “I had no idea”.

Uzo made no further comments. He simply kicked the car and drove off. There was something in her posture, the way she reclined in the car seat and shielded her eyes with her hand that created a déjà vu moment for him. He tried to recall if they had ever been this way together before and he suddenly realised she reminded him of Leela. He had not spared her a thought in a long time.

He wanted to ask her if she was alright but he kept his mouth shut. Her phone rang and he listened to her tell someone she was on her way home and also mention that Uzo was bringing her. When she hung up, he finally gave in to his curiosity and asked.

“Are you okay? Do you want to talk?”

She had returned to her default position and she simply shook her head. Uzo nodded and concentrated on the traffic before them.

An hour later, he was parked in front of her house. There was a young lady standing in front of the gate. Nifemi alighted from the car without a word to him and he came down as well. She walked to his side and said,

“Thank you Uzo. It’s been a long day. Go get some rest, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah. You too.”

As he made to get back into the car, the lady who had been standing in front of the door walked up to them and Nifemi smiled tiredly.

“Uzo, this is Victoria, my best friend. Vic, this is Uzo, the new guy at the office.”

Victoria looked at him oddly as they shook hands.

“Don’t I know you?”

Uzo shook his head, smiling uncertainly.

“Naah, I doubt it.”

Victoria shook hers as well.

“No. I’m good with faces and I never forget a face. I must have seen you somewhere before.”

Uzo smiled.

“Or you must have seen my doppelgänger. I seem to have a few of those around.”

Victoria smiled placidly, unconvinced.

“Nice to meet you anyways. Thank you for bringing her back.”

Uzo nodded, got into his car and drove off.

“What was that about?” Nifemi asked.

“Nothing. I’m just certain I have seen him somewhere, and my spirit is giving me an uneasy vibe.”

“Hian. Edakun, keep your uneasy vibes o. I’ve had too much drama for one day and I am tired.”

“I’m sorry darling. Come here.”

Victoria pulled her into a tight hug.

“I got you some milkshake and loads of cookies. Come and tell me about Fola rising from the dead.”

Nifemi yielded into the hug and eventually they walked into the house together. She kicked off her shoes and sat in her favourite comfort chair as she spilled all the details of her meeting with Fola to Victoria. Victoria was intrigued

“So are you actually going to meet up with him?”

“I don’t know yet. I guess so. I’m actually just curious.”

“Sha be careful. I don’t trust him one bit.”

Nifemi laughed. “You don’t trust anyone. See how you were harassing Uzo as if-”

“Hold on a second!”

Victoria leapt out of the couch she’d been sitting in, startling Nifemi. She reached for her laptop that was lying on the floor and hurriedly opened up a google page. She typed in a few words and hit the search button.

“What is it?” Nifemi asked, rushing to her side.

“I think I know where I know him from. Just hold on.”

Victoria tried another combination of words in the search engine and groaned in frustration.

“I swear it’s him.”

“What are you talking about?” Nifemi asked, a little scared.

Victoria sighed.

“Remember one story that went viral on all the major blogs some months ago?”

“What story?”

“About a love triangle between a model and two other guys and how the model and the guy she really loved killed the other guy? The guy lived in Lekki. Remember nau.”

Nifemi’s brows gathered in a frown.

“Yes?”

“I think your Uzo is that guy. I don’t know why I can’t find the full story anywhere any more. Not even pictures. But I’m almost completely certain that Uzo is that guy. He looks different now with beards and stuff but you know me Femi. I never forget a face.”

The blood drained from Nifemi’s face and she sat there staring at Victoria whose expression was worried.

“I’m sorry boo, but he’s got to be the one.”

***

Ijeoma woke up with a start. Something was off. She sat up in bed and tried to recollect her immediate memories and the fact that she had to do that startled her. She remembered the conversation with Leela and she remembered setting her alarm to wake her up in 2 hours. But her instincts told her 2 hours weren’t up yet. The room was pitch black. They never turned off all the lights. At best, the study lamp on the centre table was always on.

She groped around the bed for her phone and couldn’t find it then she suddenly sat completely still and listened. She adjusted her eyes to the darkness in the room, trying to make out objects and figures but nothing was visible. As slowly and as quietly as she could, she stood up from the bed and tried to walk to the stairs which were just by the light switch but strong arms suddenly grabbed her and circled around her throat. Ijeoma kicked, shoved and spluttered as she tried to free herself from her captor’s grip but it was pointless. She had been taken by surprise and the more she thrashed about, the tighter the grip around her throat became. Her eyes began to tear up and she slowly felt the life begin to drain out of her. Her struggles reduced to the barest minimum and the moment she stopped thrashing, Vlad laid her body down on the floor.

His Laughter…

I miss hearing the sound of his laughter. It’s one of the most beautiful sounds in the world, second only to that beautiful whirling sound the atm makes when it is bringing out a wad of cash. I am seated in class, paying attention or trying to pay attention to my Ethiopian lecturer talk about the United Nations and it’s General Assembly when the sound of his laughter randomly comes to my head. And I realise just how much I have missed it. 

I haven’t heard him laugh in ages. It doesn’t exactly mean he hasn’t been laughing. It just means I haven’t been an active part of it. Beyond that, it’s only a reminder of the massive gap distance has wedged between us. So even though we text chat, I remain unable to watch his face break into creases and his eyes twinkle as he laughs loudly and wholesomely. 

He will read this. And he will know it’s for him. Or not. Hehehe. 

Hey mister, I miss the sound of your laughter 😊

Hunter’s Game S2 (7)

IMG_4506

Previous episode

“It’s not bad. Just needs a bit of a tweak. The highlights on the edges don’t look good. Take them out. It makes the design look a little more bogus rather than solid.”

Uzo looked at Nifemi in silence.

“What? You wanted my opinion didn’t you? Abi you thought I would wash you and say it was pure gold?”

Nifemi looked from Uzo to the design on his laptop screen and back to Uzo again. Uzo looked on and gradually, his face loosened up into a smile he struggled to conceal.

“What’s doing you now?”

He snorted, once, twice, then burst into full blown laughter. Nifemi looked around self-consciously. Uzo flicked his fingers over the trackpad on his laptop and soon an image filled the screen. Nifemi gasped.

“Damn!”

Uzo maintained a smug look on his face.

“You were saying?”

Nifemi smacked his arm

“You’re so useless I swear! I was legit seconds away from going to HR and asking them to review your appointment. But this-”

She waved her hand over the screen as she spoke.

“This is priceless. I see why they hired you now.”

Uzo grinned and tipped his head.

“Gracias. I wanted you to be blown away, so I thought I’d lower your expectations a little bit first. That design was from six years ago when I first started designing.”

Nifemi nodded, impressed.

“Amazing. We’re all set for the launch then. Have you run this by Toba yet?”

“Does he know you call him by his first name?”

“Do you really think I care?”

“Feisty!”

Nifemi shook her head.

“It’s a great design. I’ll be glad when this is over. Run it by Toba, if he okays it then we’re all set for the private exhibition in two days before the actual launch in 2 weeks.”

Uzo shrugged. Nifemi walked away and again, Uzo caught himself staring. It didn’t matter how hard he tried, he could not get Nifemi out of his head. She had proven herself a good friend and was great company to be in. She was funny and extremely hardworking, drove herself harder than anyone else at their level and it was impressive. He could tell she poured both heart and soul into her job from the way she dealt with clients, partners and investors. She was a walking wonder.

“Uzo, your final design is due in an hour. I hope you don’t keep me waiting.”
Uzo turned around to see the devil himself, Mr. Toba.

“It’s actually ready sir.”

“Then why isn’t it in my mail?”

Mr. Toba walked on by to his office and Uzo turned his attention back to his laptop and sent him the email. He knew the design was flawless but he expected Mr. Toba to have a complaint or two. The man was too full of himself and never accepted that anyone’s first attempt at any task was good enough. He would always send it back on some flimsy excuse even where the job was the epitome of perfection. Nifemi had given him the heads up and he had experienced the man’s annoying nature first hand in his first week on the job. He was impossible to please.

As he stood up from his desk to go have lunch, an email popped in and he hovered the mouse over it reluctantly. It was from Mr. Toba. When he opened the mail, he was shocked. Mr. Toba liked the design and had given the go ahead for it to be used at the exhibition.

“Well would you check that out?”

He whistled happily and walked off to Nifemi’s desk.

“Do you believe in miracles?”

Nifemi looked at him curiously.

“Sometimes. Why?”

“Mr. Toba liked it. Said it’s good to go.”

Nifemi grinned.

“Congrats. I’ll have Mosun double check our reservation for the exhibition.”

“Oriental hotel abi? What time again?”

Nifemi typed on her laptop without looking up.

“Oriental hotel. 11am. I hope you have an actual suit.”

Uzo caught the tease and smiled.

“Only if you have a piping hot dress.”

“Careful what you wish for mister.”

She still didn’t look up and Uzo grinned.

“I do hope my wishes come true.”

He double tapped his fingers on her desk and walked out.

***

 “Do you want to explain what exactly happened Barrister Benson? Because right now you aren’t making any sense.”

Benson shifted his weight from one foot to the other and kept his head down. He realised how ridiculous his story sounded. Some woman accosted him, smashed his glass and stole the piece of evidence he had been handed. Yeah. Definitely ridiculous.

“Actually, she had a gun. That’s why I was trying to be careful.”

“A gun?”

Benson licked his lips and nodded.

“What did she look like?”

“Somewhat tall, 5’4 maybe. Dark skinned, well built, low-cut hair.”

The man who stood a few feet away shook his head. Benson could tell this was not the man he had been talking to on the phone but this person had obviously come from him.

“And she didn’t say her name.”

“No she didn’t”

“If she shows up again or contacts you. Let the boss know.”

The man walked away and barrister Benson adjusted his shirt collar and walked away. If this woman thought she could shake him easily, she was in for a shock. His mechanic had taken the car last night and he expected to have it back tonight. He flagged a taxi down and gave the address to his house. It was almost 6pm and he was hungry. He shut his eyes and decided to take a nap all the way to the house, trusting that he would meet a decent meal at home. His wife always came through.

Thirty minutes later, the cab pulled up in front of the house and Benson got out. He ran the short steps up to his door and pushed the bell. His wife came to open it and peered curiously behind him, as though expecting someone else.

“What’s up mama?”

“Where’s Jerry?”

Benson rolled tired eyes.

“Really? Is this a joke? I’m tired mama. Let me in.”

His wife raised eyebrows in a frown.

“Who is joking with you? Where’s my son?”

Benson furrowed his brows and stared intently at his wife as his brain tried to process what she was attempting, yet failing to communicate.

“What do you mean?”

“You sent a text saying you would get him from school and your number hasn’t been reachable all day.”

“Me? Text? What text?”

Benson’s wife grabbed him by the collar, eyes sticking out, veins popping.

“Stop this useless joke Benson! Where is my son??!”

She continued shaking him and yelling as Benson tried to calm her down and suddenly he snapped.

“Shut up!!”

He pushed his way past her into the living room and retrieved his cell phone from his pocket. He scrolled through his text messages but there was nothing there to his wife.

“Bring your phone!” He barked. She handed the phone over to him all the while yelling dramatically and placing both hands above her head. Barrister Benson hissed and tried to think. What the hell was going on? Sure enough, on his wife’s phone, there was a text message from him telling her he would pick up their son but he had definitely not sent it.

His mind immediately went to the lady from the previous day and he instantly went into panic mode. Who the hell was she?

As he scrolled through his call log to find his handler’s number, his phone rang and the contact read “Unknown”

“Hello?”

“Hi Mr. Benson…”

He recognised the voice but he was not going to assume.

“Who is this?”

He heard a short laugh over the phone and the voice came on again.

“Nightmares need no introduction Mr. Benson. How’s your evening going? Having fun with the family?”

Benson was seething

“Where is my son?! I swear if you hurt him-”

“If I hurt him nothing would happen and life will go on. So shut your dirt hole and listen up.”

Benson gritted his teeth and kept quiet.

“I asked you before and I’ll ask you again. Who do you work for? And don’t give me that bullshit talk of your clients otherwise I’ll chop off one finger from your son’s hands till you’re ready to talk.”

Her voice, more than her words chilled Benson to his spine and he broke into a sweat. His wife was stared at him in nervous anticipation, breathing heavily and whimpering.

“I- I don’t know. I swear, I really don’t.”

The line was silent for a few seconds and Benson suddenly heard an earth shattering scream that almost deafened him. It was his 8 year old son crying out.

“Stop! Stop!” he yelled. His cry was frantic and his wife went into a panic, tugging his shirt and crying out,

“What? What are they saying? What?”

Benson yanked her hand off his shirt and rushed off to the guest bedroom and locked himself in.

“Don’t hurt him, please. I’m begging you. He’s only a kid. I’ll tell you anything. Please.”

“I’m not a very patient person Mr. Benson. So it’s best you don’t test my resolve. So let’s try this again. Who do you work for? Start talking.”

Benson spilled everything he knew about the case, the man who had hired him- he didn’t know his name, the phone conversations they’d had, documents that were mysteriously sent to him, evidence that were falsified. When he was done, Ijeoma replied.

“Your son will be back to you tonight. Next time your boss calls, tell him to back off. Tell him I said I am the last person he wants to lock horns with.”

Benson heard a click and the line went off. He moved slowly to the bed and sank into it. What kind of trouble was this?

***

“The lawsuit isn’t random. Whoever caused the crash is behind this as well. They really have it bad for you.”

Chief Ubong looked over the rim of his scotch glass and into Ijeoma’s face.

“I see.”

“You know I’ve got this right?”

Chief Ubong nodded.

“I’m going to Lagos tomorrow morning. Is there anything you need?”

“How much can you afford to part with right now?”

Chief Ubong turned questioning eyes to Ijeoma again.

“Meaning?”

“You’ll have to give those families something eventually. No matter how little. How much? You name a price and I’ll make sure they take it.”

Chief Ubong shook his head.

“Have you ever heard of something called the floodgate argument? If I pay these ones off, the rest of the world will come to make claims.”

Ijeoma shook her head.

“Non-disclosure agreements. They’ll have to sign those. If they ever talk to anyone about it, then they lose the money and you can sue them for a breach of contract.”

“How many families are there?”

“10.”

“10 million. One million naira each.”

Ijeoma shrugged.

“I can work with that.”

Chief Ubong sipped from his glass then set it down.

“Alright. Get in touch with barrister Jide so you can both handle the negotiations together.”

Ijeoma looked him over.

“Is that a joke?”

“He’s my lawyer and a good friend. I can’t have him kept in the dark.”

“I choose whom I work with chief. You know this. Just tell him not to worry, it’s being taken care of. If he was such a good lawyer, you wouldn’t have needed to ask me to make this go away.”

Chief Ubong picked his glass from the table and stared at the golden brown liquid in it. He swirled the content around slowly without saying a word then took another sip from his glass and continued swirling it.

“Fine.”

“Yemi and I will get in touch with the families and ensure they take the offer. I should have this sorted in a week then I’ll go back to piecing together the puzzle.”

Chief Ubong nodded.

“I’m going to Lagos tomorrow with Fola. If you need anything, just call.”

Ijeoma nodded and stood up to leave. As she walked out, she dialled a number on her phone and Leela picked up.

“Get a list of the families involved in the suit, contact address and personal information. I want to know what each individual representing each family does for a living. I need that information in 24 hours.”

“Sure thing. I’m on it.” Leela responded.

***

The elevator dinged and opened on Uzo’s floor. He caught one last glimpse of himself in the mirrors and was satisfied with what he saw. He had on a maroon blazer, a white shirt and blue trousers. He also had an ash lapel flower pin as well as an ash pocket square on the blazer. He walked past Mosun, the front desk lady and she gaped at him in amazement.

“Wow. You look great Uzo!”

Uzo laughed, said thank you and waved as he made his way to his desk. He walked past Nifemi’s cubicle but she wasn’t there so he set his bag down at his desk, took out his laptop and proceeded to set it up.

He worked steadily for an hour, looking up and checking out Nifemi’s desk every few minutes but she was not there. It was quite unlike her to be late to work, especially considering that they were meant to be heading out to Oriental hotel in a few minutes. He took out his phone and called her.

“Madam, where you at?”

“Printing room. The interns are packaging the brochures for the exhibition. I’m supervising them.”

Uzo chuckled.

“Na wa for you o. What could possibly go wrong with that process?”

“Ask the grand president of micromanagement.”

Uzo chuckled. Of course, Mr. Toba must have asked her to oversee it.

“Alright then. You want me to come join you? We actually need to start heading out otherwise we’ll be late.”

“Naah, we’re done here. I’ll be out in a jiffy. Just gather your stuff and meet me downstairs at the car park.”

“Okay. We going in my car?”

“Yes please. One of the drivers will bring the interns with the brochures. I’ll be down in 10 minutes”

Uzo hung up, packed up his laptop and headed downstairs.  He didn’t even wait up to 10 minutes before Nifemi showed up and when she did, Uzo’s jaw dropped. Nifemi had definitely undergone some transformation between last night when she left the office and this morning. Her hair had been done, the weave falling graciously over her shoulders, nails shining a deep blue shade and makeup that held the signature of a professional artist. She wore a sleeveless black jumpsuit that hugged her curves perfectly. A maroon blazer hung on her arm as she strutted towards him in blue court shoes, and a blue bag in her hand.

Nifemi looked at him oddly when she walked up to him.

“Close your mouth before all the flies in Lagos make it their head office.”

Uzo shut his mouth and laughed nervously

“You’re gorgeous.”

Nifemi grinned

“So are you. I mean, you clean up pretty nice. I had no idea you could match colours like this. And we’re wearing the same blazer. Interesting”

“Tell the truth, you peeped into my window this morning to see what I’d be wearing then you copied it.”

Nifemi laughed.

“You think I’d look up to you for my fashion choices? You flatter yourself too much.”

She opened the back door and deposited the items in her hand then shut the door and turned to catch Uzo still staring.

“Oga, can we go?”

Uzo nodded and got into the driver’s seat same time as she got into the front passenger seat. They slammed the doors and Uzo drove off. They were at the hotel in 15 minutes and Uzo offered her his arm as they made to ascend the stairs. Nifemi smiled and took it and they walked up together. They waited for the elevator together in silence and as it opened up, a young man whose eyes were glued to his phone walked out it, almost bumping into Nifemi who Uzo managed to snatch out of the way just in time. The young man looked up hastily and began to apologize when he met Nifemi’s eyes. He suddenly froze and the words he had begun to utter were left hanging. Uzo turned to Nifemi and watched the colour drain from her face as she stared at the stranger.

Nifemi could not believe her eyes. She opened her mouth to speak but the words wouldn’t come out. Her palms were sweaty and suddenly there was a buzzing sound in her ears.

“Fo-Fola?”

The man gulped.

“Ifemi, hi.”

Nifemi made a sound that was somewhere between a snort and a laugh. This was Fola. The first man she had ever been in love with. The one who abandoned her after he went off to the UK for his masters.

“You’re alive. That’s good to know.”

She made to go past him but Fola held her arm.

“We should talk.”

Nifemi smiled and turned to Uzo.

“Darling, aren’t we late for a meeting?”

Uzo nodded and took her arm, ushering her into the elevator. He pushed the button to the second floor and they both stared at Fola as the elevator doors shut.

Hunter’s Game S2 (6)

IMG_4506

For Tony. Thank you for all your help.

Previous episode

Tobe watched as Sharon ambled around the room, picking up articles of clothing that were scattered all over. She slipped into her black dress silently and put on her shoes, avoiding his eyes the entire time but he knew hers were heavy with shame. He had seen them the moment she woke up in his arms.

He wished he could say he felt the same shame but that would be untrue. No element of remorse. He had nursed a light interest in her while Aniefiok was alive, which he quelled almost effortlessly but after last night, he knew nothing would stop him from keeping her. She had awakened something in him that he didn’t even know existed- it was a raw sexual desire as well as an emotional one too. He wanted to matter to her, to be the reason she moaned and cussed as intensely as she had done the previous night. He wanted to heal her and protect her from hurting again and he had no apologies for the way he felt.

Sharon made to leave the room without a word but Tobe stopped her.

“Hey!”

She held on to the door knob but did not turn.

“Sharon, can we please talk?”

Sharon shook her head and Tobe sighed. He got off the bed and went to her side. He tried to hold her but she cringed and he immediately pulled back like one who had touched an extremely hot surface.

“Right. Just say something please. I know you’re upset but just say something.”

Sharon shook her head again and Tobe sighed.

“Fine. Let me drive you home at least.”

He noticed her shoulders drop and took that as a sign that she was in agreement. He walked back to his wardrobe and picked out casual shorts and a t-shirt which he put on, then he walked back to the door.

“Let’s go.”

Sharon opened the door and walked out of the room with Tobe following behind. Tobe picked the keys from the living room and went into the car. He opened Sharon’s door and she got in, still without a word.

She was silent for the entire drive and Tobe gave up trying to get her to talk. As soon as they got to the Ubong’s residence, he parked but didn’t open the doors.

“Whatever it is you’re feeling now, it will pass. Don’t beat yourself up about it. I know how awful things look and feel now but I promise you, they will get better. Just talk to me soon. Okay?”

Sharon didn’t answer him. She opened the door herself and got out of the car. Tobe let out a frustrated sigh and drove off.

Sharon crept stealthily into the house and made her way to the bedroom she shared with Otto. It was just past 7am and she didn’t want to wake up anyone. But she need not have bothered because Otto was awake the moment she stepped into the room. She was lying in bed, eyes staring blankly at the ceiling. She didn’t even turn when Sharon walked in.

Sharon cleared her throat.

“Hey babe.”

Otto didn’t turn.

“I looked for you yesterday, waited through the night, called you endlessly, but you didn’t come.”

Sharon sighed and went to sit beside her.

“I’m sorry. I fell apart yesterday. I couldn’t cope. It’s why I disappeared. Super selfish but I’m really sorry.”

Otto nodded.

“When are you going back to Lagos?”

Sharon scratched her head. She would go back this very second if she could but now she felt responsible for Otto.

“Depends on you. Do you want me to stay?”

“No o. Go do your stuff. I’m leaving town tonight anyways.”

“Yeah? Where to?”

“I don’t know.” Otto’s tone was flippant. “I’ll sha not be here by nightfall. I need to clear my head. It feels like I’ve been in a trance the last couple of weeks. I need to wake up.”

Sharon nodded.

“Let me go take a shower. I’ll take a flight down to Lagos this evening since you wouldn’t be needing me anymore.”

Otto shrugged and Sharon walked into the bathroom. She took off her clothes and turned on the shower, increasing the heat till it scalded her skin. She told herself she deserved it. How could she have betrayed Ani like that? She scrubbed herself fiercely, weeping as she did so and willing herself to forget the previous night and the insanity she had indulged in, in the name of grief.

And Tobe, how could he be so calm and normal like nothing bad had happened? If she had not woken up naked in his arms, feeling sore all over, or even had vivid flashbacks from the previous night, she would have sworn she was hallucinating. But it was all too real and she knew it was not in her head.

She was utterly responsible. Not even the alcohol or the weed could be blamed for this. It was all on her. She had failed as a person. She was just going to avoid him and shut him out completely. And right there in the bathroom, she made a personal promise to herself, to never touch alcohol or any other such substance, ever again. That resolve made her feel only a little better.

“I’m sorry baby.” She mumbled to herself as she heightened the heat of the shower.

***

Tinu walked into Williams’ bedroom for the third time that week and she exhaled loudly. The lights were still out, the room was stuffy and judging from the stench, she could tell Williams had neither showered nor opened his windows in a while. She was sure he had not left the room either. He lay in bed, the exact same position as she had last left him.

“Will…”

He didn’t answer and she went on to draw the curtains apart and open the window to let some sunlight and fresh air in.

“Don’t”

It was a weak protest, one Tinu ignored nonchalantly.

“Don’t piss me off Will. This has to stop.”

“Get out.” He croaked.

Tinu hissed. She was tired of seeing Williams this way and if this final intervention did not yield result, she would give up on him completely.

“This has to stop.” She repeatedly firmly.

“If you want to die alongside Aisha, then go and jump off NNPC towers but don’t stay around here and mope like you don’t have a life to live. Your dad called me. You haven’t been to work, you aren’t taking anyone’s calls. How long do you intend to keep this up for?”

Williams did not respond. He buried himself deeper beneath his duvet. Tinu walked out of the room and turned on the faucets in the bathtub. Water began filling the tub quickly. She went back into the room and pulled the duvet off and tossed it to the floor. Williams grabbed for the bedsheets but Tinu pulled those firmly as well. There were a few clothes lying about the room and she gathered them into one heap with the bed covers and duvet and tossed them out the door.

Williams was huddled on a corner of the bed when she returned but she ignored him. She took out fresh sheets from his dresser and as she laid the bed, he moved to the couch. Tinu walked into the bathroom to check on the tub. It was almost full. She turned off the faucet and returned to Williams.

“Go soak in the tub. Now.”

Williams did not protest. He walked into the bathroom and shut the door behind him. Tinu left the room and returned shortly with a vacuum cleaner and took her time vacuuming every corner of the room. Williams stayed a long time in the bathroom but she did not bother him. She set out clean clothes on the bed and left the room.

After placing the dirty clothes in the washing machine, she went into the kitchen and fried some yam and plantains alongside some egg sauce. She checked the fridge and found some juice and she set out the table. A few minutes after she was done, Williams came out of the room, looking a lot better than when he first got out of bed.

She pointed to the table and sat across from him as he sat down to eat. She watched him in silence, heart throbbing with a multitude of questions. Just how much had he loved Aisha, that her death reduced him to this?

“When are you going back to work?” she asked.

“Tomorrow.”

He pushed the plate away and turned tired eyes to face her.

“I’ve been a mess. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with it.”

Tinu shrugged.

“You’re my friend. It’s what you’d do for me if the reverse were the case.”

Williams shook his head.

“Or not. You’re the kind, selfless and generous one. I abandoned you when it mattered and now that I’m broken again, you’re here giving selflessly of yourself.”

Tinu shook her head.

“No. Let’s not go there. Finish your food.”

She got up and went into the bedroom. His words reminded her of how and why they had started dating the first time. It was after he broke up with Aisha in the face of the realisation that they would probably never work out. Broken and hurting in Nigeria, he had met Tinu and they hit it off, first as friends, before eventually drifting into a relationship. She had fixed him up and taken good care of him until Aisha returned to throw them into chaos again. A small part of her was grateful she was dead. Perhaps Williams would be able to move on for good. But she was not sure what role she was meant to play, if any at all, in this phase of his life.

She had been straightening the bed, all the while lost in thought. So when she turned right round and bumped into Williams, it gave her a fright. Williams steadied her then brushed her lips with his before tightening her in his arms in a warm embrace.

“I owe you big time Tee. But please, I still need you. Don’t leave me.”

***

“My people are still gathering evidence chief. But I assure you, we will win this case. The toxicology reports for instance, they work in your favour. Also, the AIB is yet to ascertain the factual cause of the crash. And that is crucial to determining how this will swing. But just give me time and let me worry about this.”

Chief Ubong looked at the lawyer who stood before him, one of the best legal minds in the country, and a SAN. Then he looked across at Ijeoma who sat with a smirk on her face while she fiddled with her phone.

“What do you think?”

“That we have a good case-” the lawyer said.

“No not you, her.”

He inclined his head in Ijeoma’s direction and she smiled at him.

“How long till the trial date?”

“A week?” the lawyer had a questioning expression on his face. Quite evidently, he did not trust Ijeoma.

“I can work with that.”

She got up to leave the room but the lawyer stood in her way, while addressing chief Ubong.

“Chief, you need to let me do my job. Who is this woman? Don’t complicate things unnecessarily.”

Ijeoma sighed.

“You failed to have the matter struck out at the mention. The judge threw all your arguments of jurisdiction out the window. The case does not look good. No matter how you look at it. Families are grieving. They have lost loved ones. They want blood. Or good money. The judge is already sympathetic towards them. There is no way this is going in your favour.”

“Are you a lawyer?” The SAN asked quietly.

“I don’t need to be one to know that this is a shit case.”

He stared at her intently then turned to chief Ubong.

“Chief, do you want me off the case? Looks like you have someone better than my entire team.”

Chief Ubong sighed.

“Don’t say that Jide. Ijeoma is an investigator. You do your own end preparing the arguments and she’ll keep digging for information to feed you with. She found the altered checklist for the planes didn’t she?”

“She did. But let her stick to the regular investigations and stay away from the legal side of things.”

Chief Ubong turned to Ijeoma and she shrugged.

“You’ll settle out of court-”

“Tried that, didn’t work. That lawyer has convinced the families they can get much more than our final offer.”

Ijeoma laughed.

“Well, let’s convince them otherwise now, shall we?”

She side stepped him and was out of the room in a flash.

Chief Ubong walked slowly back to his desk.

“I apologise on her behalf Jide. Ijeoma is a bit too heady but believe me when I say she is good at what she does. She always delivers.”

Barrister Jide shrugged.

“As long as she isn’t breaking the law. You don’t want this getting messy chief. It’s why we are proceeding with caution.”

“Ijeoma only comes in to clean up messes. I don’t see her creating one herself.”

“Right.”

Barr. Jide whipped his phone out of his pocket and typed a message hastily.

We might have a problem.

He sent it to the designated recipient then smiled.

“Alright chief. I’ll head back to my office now. I’ll keep you updated as I work”.

Chief Ubong nodded and Barr. Jide let himself out of the room.

***

Barrister Benson walked hastily out of the golf club where he had just picked up another package from the mysterious caller. Trial was set to commence in a week and he was excited about how strong his case was looking already. He had someone at the control tower who would testify that Ani failed to listen to instructions given out in the final moments preceding the crash. He also had documentary evidence to prove that some checks had not been carried out on the plane that crashed even though it had developed some minor faults two weeks prior.

So on the surface, all was well. With any luck, the trial would move speedily, he would get it out of the way and return back to his regular life. He got into his car, shut the door and turned on the ignition but the car wouldn’t start. He tried again and suddenly, a shadow fell over his glass. He felt the person’s presence even before their gentle tap on the glass and he turned around sharply. It was a lady, dressed like she was going for an evening run. He took his glass down.

“Can I help you?”

She smiled sweetly at him.

“Yes. Just a ride out of here please.”

Barr. Benson contemplated briefly. His wife was at home waiting and at any rate, the woman could probably be a prostitute looking for some quick cash without appearing too obvious. This was Abuja after all. He smiled back and shook his head.

“I’m sorry miss. But I’m in a big hurry.”

She nodded, smile still in place and stepped away from the car. Benson took his glass up and tried to start the car again but it wouldn’t budge. The lady just stood there smiling at him. It gave him the chills. He decided to stop trying and just go check out the bonnet, although he didn’t have the faintest idea why the car would refuse to start.

As soon as he stepped out of the car, the lady said

“You should have just agreed to offer me a ride and you wouldn’t have to spend all this time figuring out why your car won’t start.”

Benson gulped.

“Who are you?”

She shrugged.

“It depends on you. I could be your newest buddy or your most recent nightmare. Your pick.”

Benson looked around nervously. The lady appeared harmless on the surface but he wasn’t fooled. Her tone and her general manner made him uneasy.

“What do you want?”

“A conversation. In your car.”

“No. we talk out here.”

She shrugged.

“I’m going to make you an offer, you’re going to take it back to your clients and convince them to accept it as compensation for the loss of their loved ones.”

Ijeoma was barely done speaking before Benson burst into loud laughter.

“This is about my case?” He suddenly found his courage.

“Woman, you do not know me. I am not easily bullied or intimidated. Tell Chief Ubong that we will see in court. And if you try this silly joke of a scare tactic one more time, I’ll have you arrested and your case will become even worse than it is now.”

Ijeoma grinned.

“Barrister Benson. Like every law-abiding citizen, you have skeletons in your cupboard. Don’t make me bring them to light.”

Benson was not sure whether or not she was bluffing but he decided to stand his ground.

“Bullying and intimidation will get you nowhere. Tell Barr. Jide I said so. I’ll be sure to mention this to the judge as well.”

Ijeoma stroked her chin and observed him closely.

“Who hired you?”

Benson laughed. The woman was fishing. She had nothing on him.

“My clients. But that is none of your business.”

Ijeoma rolled her eyes.

“I hate lawyers. They get on my nerves. And you’re really working those nerves right now. I asked a simple question. Who hired you?”

“Lady, if you do not leave this place right now, I’ll have you arrested.”

“You do not want to mess with me Mr. Benson. I could have you arrested in a flash for all your dodgy dealings the past week. But you behind bars means nothing to me. Let me have the information I require and I’ll be out of your hair.”

“Go to hell.”

Barrister Benson turned and stormed off in the direction of the club. He was going to get the security guards to bundle her out. Ijeoma called after him

“I warned you! Your worst nightmare. It’s about to begin.”

In one swift motion, she swung her elbow through the glass of the driver’s seat, sending glass shards flying all over the place. She snatched up the envelope he had placed on the seat and sprinted away in the opposite direction.

“Hey! Thief!! Hey!!”

Barrister Benson turned and ran after her but she moved too quickly and was soon out of sight. He hissed and cussed loudly. He went back to his car and kicked it in frustration as two security guards ran up to him.

“What happened sir?”

Barrister Benson slammed his fist on the car in a rage.

“Get me a taxi! Now! And call the police!”