Zaneta sat on her bed, she felt slightly restless. She shook her head at her self.
“How won’t you be restless” she thought, “when you went on a visit and slept like a sedated hamster?“
She froze and thought for a minute, her eyes on her phone. She had just spoken to Zach, telling him she had arrived home and thanking him for his hospitality.
“Could he have…” she left off.
Granted, she had been very tired from the events of the past few days – preparations, the bach eve, the wedding and then thanksgiving at the couple’s church, but she hadn’t been a tad sleepy that evening. “Heck! I didn’t even feel drowsy and next thing, I woke up from sleep” she thought.
“Could he….” she left off again. A shiver ran down her spine at the words that were coming and the thoughts that were forming in her mind like frightening storm clouds.
“Check yourself” a voice screamed in her consciousness. She leapt off the bed and ran to the door, making sure it was locked, she took of her clothes. She was about pulling off her panties when her phone rang, making her jump.
It was Febi, she picked up. “Hello”, Zaneta said, hugging her chest with her free hand, eyeing the air conditioning unit that was directly across from her.
“Hi, darling” Febi’s voice came through.
“E ku inawo” Zaneta said giggling
Febi laughed then replied “E ku’dide“
“What are you up to? I hear pots and stuff in the background”
“Making something for bobo, I’ll never eat at this time”
“Na so, team FitFam toh bad” Zaneta teased.
“Anyways, nice one you pulled on the couple; bringing Max-Tee was great. Alice was freaking out” she said laughing.
Zaneta contemplated her response and decided to go with the truth. She already told Alice and Bode the whole story, anyway. “It wasn’t me oh! Hmmmm” she said
“It wasn’t you what?” Febi pressed
“I have never spoken to or met Max before yesterday”
“I don’t get”
“You remember the chocolate cookies guy?”
“The ‘Z’ guy?”
“That’s him” Zaneta said chuckling
“What about him?” Febi asked, confused
“He made it happen”
“He brought Max-Tee?” she asked
“Out of his own volition?”
“He told you about it?”
“Nope!” Zaneta replied sitting on her bed.
“He knows the guy or he paid?”
“I didn’t ask him” Zenata replied, pulling off her panties.
“This is serious” Febi said slowly
Zaneta laughed then said “This one is strong!”
“Eleyi gidi gan!” Febi replied then burst into laughter.
Zaneta touched herself a bit, there was no form of tenderness or anything that raised a flag. She swallowed, much more relieved, but still worried about the way she fell asleep so quickly at Zach’s.
Zach pulled into a spot in the car park. He was amazed. The last time he had driven through, it was a construction site and one could barely see the top level of the structure over the make-shift corrugated sheet fencing around the property.
“All of this happened while I was away?” he asked himself as he got out of the car.
The car park was underground, a smart move to maximise space in an area where the price of a plot of land was closer to twenty million than ten.
He made his way to the reception and was surprised at the exquisite state of finishing and furnishing. A concierge walked up to him with a brilliant smile, behind her he noticed some work was being done on what was clearly the front desk.
“Hello, Sir” she said
“Good evening” he replied
“How may I be of assistance?” she asked
“I’d like a room, please”
“That’s exciting, Sir, but we aren’t open for lodging just yet”
“Is that right?” he asked smiling at her.
“Yes, Sir. We launch this weekend. A three day event starting on Friday night” she explained.
“Ok?” he urged her on
“But one of the bars is operational and we’d love to offer you a drink on the house.“
“That’s kind of you, but I’ll pass seeing as I have to go get a place to spend the night”
“We would be glad to have you from Friday night, Sir”
“Yes, Sir. We could make reservations for you now for check-in on Friday”
“That would be nice. Where do I sign?” he asked
She unlocked the tablet she held and came around to Zach’s side to show him the room rates.
This particular cost was coming out of his own pocket, so he chose a Classic room and reserved it for the period of the launch, no point getting a suite.
“I really don’t need to stay that long, but if the launch is as fun as you make it sound, I just might” he said.
“You won’t be disappointed, Sir” she said.
“I never am” he thought, smiling at her.
As he made his way back to his car, he sent a message
“Who owns the Pelican? Who runs it? Who’s on ground?“
Zaneta’s phone lit up, it was Zach calling. She smiled then shook her head.
Hadn’t she said she was going to step back from this guy last week? The very next day, she was in his crib. She was glad her fears about being drugged and raped had been put to rest, but she still felt it was a red flag if she could even think he was capable of that.
Or she was just plain paranoid.
“Hi, dear” she said, taking the call.
“Hey!” he replied.
“Did you send me messages?” she asked, wondering if this was urgent. She was working on something and had silenced her phone.
“No, I’m driving. Somewhere on the island, going to inspect some renovations on one of my concerns” he said
“How may I help Daddy Raiden this afternoon?” she teased
“Very funny” he said
“You didn’t laugh” she retorted
“Raiden did” he replied, making her laugh
“Is he there?”
“Yes, he is”
“Give him a kiss for me”
“Come do it yourself” he threw back, making her laugh some more
“Ok,” she managed after she calmed down, “you didn’t call to make me laugh now, did you?”
“That’s certainly always the idea. But in addition, I was wondering if we have plans for the weekend?”
“Hmmm, I don’t know, do we? The weekend is still a few days away”
“Joker. I know today is Wednesday”
She grinned, then said “What have you in mind?”
“Nothing, thought I’d excuse myself. Have to be out of town”
“Oh! Business or pleasure?”
“You sure?” she pressed, mischievous.
“No, I’m not sure. Are you?” he asked, equally naughty
“Me, keh? No oh!”
“Clown. Maybe you could stop by the office tomorrow. I’m sending you the address” he said
“I’ll try, but if I don’t see you before your trip, say me well to her”
“What ‘her’?” he asked, knowing exactly what she was alluding to – another woman.
“Bye” she said and hung up.
She knew the signs. When men started disappearing for weekends, there was almost always another woman or family elsewhere. She had experienced it with Dare – a complete faffer that suddenly caught a work ethic and became busy every weekend.
“What’s my own?” she said with a shrug
As she put the phone down, an SMS came in. It was Zach’s office address.
Zach tipped the porter who had helped him with his light travel bag, then shut and locked the door.
It was a cozy room. Better than he had expected. Downstairs, in the lobby, it was bubbling with activity and things were just getting started. He’d claimed his reservations and paid cash for three nights. The ‘concierge’ who had taken his reservations on Wednesday was actually the Guest Relations Manager and was playing her true role today. He’d smiled at her, noticing her name tag ‘Sarah’. She’d smiled back but had not shown any sign of recognition which was quite convenient for him.
He didn’t unpack, he simply unzipped his fold-up travel bag and spread it on one side of the bed. He took out his laptop and got to work. He had fresh names on his list and fresh intel in his mail to catch up on. There was an email from his boss about inside sources in the opposition confirming what they already suspected and had prepared for – that Dr. Molokwu’s name (Zaneta’s Uncle) would be on the ticket as VP for the party primaries next week. That was the gist of the mail, what was however unwritten was a reminder to keep in mind how core his own mission was. He didn’t need to be told.
From what Zach had read and heard, the primaries of the top two parties were forgone conclusions. Anyone who paid enough attention to politics already knew who was going against the incumbent. He leaned back in his seat. Dr. Molokwu had been very engrossed of late, travelling, speaking and attending functions. Zaneta’s security was there – bored to stiffness. The house, however was a lot more secure. How ironic that properties were more guarded than individuals. He could empathise though; a house was static, a person was dynamic in nature and hence more difficult to secure.
He didn’t reply any of the mails. He shut his laptop, set an alarm on his watch and got in bed with the lights on. On second thought, he pulled out his pistol from the bag beside him, screwed on the silencer and placed it under his pillow.
“Bye, Sir” Zaneta said into the phone. She was sitting in the back of one of her uncle’s car, being driven home from work.
“One more thing, Ogechi” Dr. Molokwu said, making her roll her eyes. He never quit calling her the name her maternal grandma had given her. Heck! He was the only soul who called her that.
“What’s it that, Daddy?” she asked
“Did you read that book? The one I-” he was saying.
“Its quite boring, Dad, but I’ll push harder” she cut in without actually answering. She had read the back cover and it had bored her to the bones.
“Try, my dear” he admonished
“I will, Dad” she said. He hardly called her whenever he was out of town, but when he did, the calls dragged on for long. It was like he was trying to make up for his silent periods past and future.
“About the car you wanted, you haven’t gotten back to me on what exactly you want. Or would you rather have one of the ones at home?” he asked
“No, Dad. I will make up my mind before you get back” she said. No way she was taking a used car, “lai lai” she thought.
A few more minutes of talk about each other’s welfare and he rung off, asking her to excuse him as he had arrived at his meeting.
She dropped her phone in her lap and looked out at Lagos traffic through the tinted windows. She missed Zach, more because she knew she would not be seeing him till after the weekend. She had purposely failed to check him up at his office yesterday, and anyway she had this crazy deadline she had finally met today. He had called her at lunch time yesterday to ask if she was on her way, she had explained about work and he had taken it well. Earlier today, he had called just to say ‘Hi’ and that he was leaving the city.
“Mr. Issac” she said to her driver, “Could we go to the mall, please, I’d love to see a movie”.
“Which, ma?” he replied
“Ikeja is fine” she said.
Beside her on the seat lay her bag, from which peeked out the corner of the book her uncle had given her.
The alarm went off and Zach got off the bed.
He had a quick shower and changed into something else. Armed with a pair of plastic restraints, a vial of sedative and his pistol, he headed downstairs.
If his intel was correct, Bimpe was here tonight, the security was the regular off-the-shelf type and no-one of importance to him owned or managed the place. He made his way to a bar, sat on a stool and ordered a drink. He scanned the place while he nursed his drink.
After an hour, he decided to look in another bar. He struck gold.
Walking into the bar, he spotted Bimpe talking excitedly with another girl, not with a man as he had expected. He found it interesting that she could now afford such luxuries, though he knew how that had come about.
He found a bar stool one stool away from hers, sat down and ordered a drink, completely ignoring the glances from Bimpe and her friend. After a few short phone calls between Bimpe’s sidekick and someone on the phone, a guy walked in and they waved him over. He seemed bent on impressing them as he began to make the drinks and gizzard flow.
Not long after, Bimpe got a call, took it and when she was done placed the phone, absent-minded, on the bar beside her LV bag. It was a small Nokia phone. Zachsaw his opportunity. He signalled the barman and ordered a fresh drink. He just had to wait for the right moment. He paid for both drinks, ready to move.
The guy got up, it was time to leave, since the girls were staying here and he had needed directions to get here, Zach guessed they would be heading to the girls’ room. In one smooth motion, he got off the bar stool, swooped up Bimpe’s phone and walked in the other direction and into the gents’.
He stayed in a stall for 5 minutes then made his way back to the bar. Bimpe and her crew were gone. From the normalcy of the bar, he could tell she hadn’t noticed the missing phone. He resumed his seat at the bar with the phone in his pocket. He was prepared to drop it on the floor, if she were to come back looking for it.
After about ten minutes, he ordered a bottle of rose wine and left for his room.
Once in his room, he diverted all incoming calls to ‘0’, then began going through her messages.The only items of interest, aside her planned activity for the weekend, which included meeting over half a dozen guys here and in other places in the city, were the messages from her banks. A few days after the Professor’s demise, she had made several cash deposits in her two banks, systematically giving some days interval between each deposit.
“Smart” he thought. Now confirming his thoughts. Clearly, on finding the man cold in the bath, she had, maybe after the initial panic, cleaned out his safe of all the cash in it.
Zach did a quick sum of the suspicious deposits, it came to N635,700. He knew there was some USD in that safe, but on this phone he couldn’t find any trace of a domiciliary account. He leaned back and planned his next move.
At 11:30pm on the stroke, he undid the divert, as he was about placing the phone back on the table, it rang. “My Etisalat” flashed on the tiny screen. He answered but said nothing.
“Hello” came her voice.
“Hello” he said.
“Please, I lost my phone earlier tonight”
“Ok? Where?” he asked pretending to be making sure he had the right person.
“A bar, Pelican hotel” she replied
“It’s you. I kept it for you” he replied.
“Thank you. I was very worried. Where are you, please?” she asked.
“I left” he lied
“Wow! Please, how do I get my phone back?” she asked.
“Where are you?” he asked
“I’m still there” she replied
“Ok. Are you staying there?”
“Not really. Can I meet you up someplace?”
“Ok. Let me find some where to stop, I will call you back” he said.
He got up, taking the phone and and the bottle of wine with him, he walked to the elevator and rode down to the car park. He had brought his Camry this time. He sat in the car and waited for 22 minutes then called her. She said she would meet him in the car park.
Not long after, he spotted her walking into the car park, he flashed his lamps and she hurried over.
Once in the car, they exchanged pleasantries and she thanked him.
“You drove all the way back?” she asked
“Actually, I just went to an ATM, I’m lodged here” he replied
“Ok, thank you. My name is Bimpe”
“Zach” he replied, extending his right hand. They shook.
He sensed her hesitation, he decided to help her.
“I didn’t give the phone to the barman ‘cos I wanted to see you again” he said
“Really?” she smiled
“Yeah. But I guess you are busy tonight, yeah?” he asked
“Saw you with someone”
She laughed then “He’s here for my friend”
“Ok” he said flashing her an embarrassed smile
“So?” she asked, cutting to the chase.
“If you don’t mind, I have this, we could go upstairs and share” he said pulling the bottle of wine from between his seat and the door.
“Sure” she said.
They got out of the car and walked to the elevator together. Once they were in, he suggested they rode to the roof top for a view of the night sky. She agreed.
“Sorry, there are no glasses here” he said as he opened the wine “I promise, I won’t put my mouth to the bottle” he added making her laugh.
“Its ok” she replied.
He found a spot by the ledge where they could sit and spread his jacket on the floor for them to sit on.
They talked and drank. He learnt she and her friend had taken a suite with two ensuite bedrooms and they’d be here for the weekend.
“So, your friend doesn’t know you left?” he asked
She shook her head and drank some more wine.
“How much did you take from the safe?” he asked, watching her closely.
“What safe?” she asked
“The Prof’s safe in Ife” he said
She laughed nervously. Then said “What are you talking about?” before putting the bottle back to her lips.
“We were both there that night” he said making her choke on the wine.
She put the bottle down hastily in a coughing fit. He kept his eyes on her. She was not so smart after all, she had just disarmed herself.
“Sorry” he said when she had calmed down a bit.
“Who are you?” she asked
“Guess” he said, keeping his eyes on hers
He saw it coming. She sprang to her feet and made to run for the exit. He kicked and swept her feet out from beneath her. Bimpe hit the floor in a bad fall. She rolled onto her back, she could taste blood in her mouth and her left hand hurt like hell.
Zach was already standing over her with a pistol pointing at her head and and a finger to his lips. She nodded in understanding, she was not to make a sound.
“Get up” he ordered.
She did as she was told. “Please, I’ll do whatever you want” she whimpered.
He pulled out a pen and paper and handed it to her. “Who’s your next of kin?” he asked.
“My little brother” she replied
“What’s his name?” he asked
“Tayo” she replied
“Kneel, put that on the floor and write ‘Dear Tayo, I am sorry’” he said.
Amidst tears and pleading, Bimpe scribbled the note while Zach crouched beside her.
“Now, take off your shoes and put the note in one of them” he ordered.
He almost felt sorry for her as she carried out his instructions. Once she was done he took out the vial, wiped it, then handed it to her and asked her to drink it. A few drops would knock her out for hours, drinking the whole vial was sure to kill her.
“We need to leave here and I can’t trust you to be quiet, so drink up” he said
“Please, don’t kill me. I’ll do whatever you want” she said
“Fine. Drink up” he said glancing at his watch.
She poured the tiny vial’s tasteless content into her mouth as he watched closely.
“You are a pretty girl, you should have been more careful” he said as she collapsed onto the floor.
Zaneta jerked awake.
The room seemed insanely cold. She picked up the remote from the bed-side stool and turned it off. Her phone’s notification light was blinking. She picked it up and taped the wake button. The lock-screen showed 2:40am.
She had messages from Edith. “What is it again?” she murmured.
Just had the weirdest dream about you
Please, when can we see?“
Zaneta thought for a bit. For all the time she had known Edith as co-workers in church to being friends and the the affair they had, she’d never said anything like this. The girl didn’t joke with sleep but these messages carried a 1:51am timestamp. Maybe she should hear her out. She replied:
“Where and when?“
She was about to put her phone away when a message came in
“Come on!” she griped, surprised at what just happened.
“My place, noon?“
Edith had replied.