So sorry for weeks of absence…lot of work and script writing….yes, yes… got a scripting gig and it’s been great – just out of
lies stories..but will keep you posted…when dem act am….hehehe.
So today is final episode of Love on the 25th… after months of writing about Debbie Black and Vince Fatasho, we rest their bitter-sweet story. Do comment…let’s know what think, your own ending version and share ….
Episode 17. Season Finale
Timothy Benjamin Dickson was a vengeful man. No one crossed him and remained within close radius – if life was precious. Victoria Motosho knew better than to have let him live after she pulled a handgun on him and his ugly mistress demanding for her daughter 16 years ago. But it happened that Ben who wasn’t a cat still found a way to survive bullets sprayed in his midsection; a miracle that left Victoria fleetingly in mortal fear of a strike back and an unhealthy appetite for cold revenge after she found out that he was alive and had killed her best friend. The strike back never happened.
The look of shock and loud scream from the ugly woman Ben had left her for fueled her confidence and hatred as she held them at gun point on that dark fateful night. The ugly woman who had been cocky and annoyingly displaying a self-satisfied smug prompted a heartbroken Victoria to whip out the shiny weapon she had obtained from her father’s old box. Ben’s thick lips that Victoria loved had tightened when she waved it at the ugly woman who suffered from acute color blindness; bidding her to let her tongue wag one more time.
“Put the gun away” he had commanded firmly as his bleached mistress stood like Lot’s wife – a pillar of poisonous salt. Victoria had raised it with the intention of shooting her thighs but then Ben made an unplanned move to collect the gun from her trembling hands. An involuntary press of the trigger as they struggled and a bullet was logged in the ugly woman’s chest. She slumped on the black settee, almost in slow motion, lifeless body devoid of sound sprawling obscenely as blood soaked through her flowery shirt and yellow pants.
Ben ran to her, knelt beside her, jerking her dangling head and getting soaked with her abnormally red blood that gushed from her left breast as he called her name with tears stinging his eyes, his voice for the first time cracking and catching in his throat. He loved her – Victoria had come to realize as she stood afraid of what she had done.
He buried his head in her neck as he cried and pleaded for her to come back. Victoria should have left but she couldn’t bring herself to move. Victoria didn’t know how long she stood there until Ben came charging towards her in rage and she knew there was only one option. She raised the gun, closed her eyes and released strays of bullet into his wide chest and thick legs as he approached, tears falling from her eyes. She should have listened to her father.
“He is no good” he had told her on his death bed. But she didn’t listen.
His heavy body fell to the ground with a loud thump and Victoria stood in the cold room with the gun hanging from her hand as she looked at the dead bodies. Just as she made to leave, the stillness was interrupted by a teenage boy who opened the front door and stepped into the room albeit gingerly. He stared at the bodies and a look of recognition registered in his eyes as they stared at themselves.
“Alama’s mother” he said out loud. She buried a bullet in his head. She couldn’t afford loose ends. She had come to get her daughter but a murderer she had become. She stood, the bodies littered around her as their warm blood leaked out of the remaining of what was once alive. Weak and afraid of what she had done, she hurried out of the house, the bloody scene and smell of warm blood threatening to overcome her sanity, the need to retch overpowering her being. She rushed out.
The old gateman who tried to get a glimpse of the night visitor was given away by creak of the rusty door of his gatehouse. A bullet had entered the old gateman’s head as he begged, stopping his words forever.
She remembered everything.
The look of fear in her tiny ugly eyes, the angry look on Ben’s face as he charged towards her, the arrogant stare from the teenage boy and the last words from the dark lips of the old gateman
“Madam, please….I get children”
Time of murder – 10:55pm.
She opened her weary eyes as she always did when she couldn’t sleep. After 16 years, she still regretted the killings but knew she would not hesitate to put a bullet in his head if she ever set her eyes on him again. A cheat and a rogue, Ben had taken her for a fool, leaving her penniless and without a daughter. The days she had begged for contracts and favors on goodwill, selling her body to her so-called father’s friends for funds to execute government contracts but it had paid off in the end; an end that did not justify the means. She had come to understand that there were no endings – just series of unfortunate events with transient happy moments interlaced with unending days of regrets, fear and pogoing hope. Life as it were was nothing but just time and moments – there were no justifications.
The killings were never unraveled but she had been contacted after the bodies were found twelve hours after the shooting. An overbearing inspector with his timid partner had found her in her Lagos home 48 hours after the murder. She had driven back to Lagos from Benin the night of the murder and had gone straight to Kaita’s house. Dumping the gun in a small pool of water across a mini bridge as she drove on the lonely road at midnight, she wept for her missing baby, the lives she had taken and the children of the old guard. She wept because she had lost everything and he had chosen the worthless ugly woman in the end. Kaita, her best friend had taken one look at her and dragged her in without questions.
The ill-mannered policeman with beady accusatory fowl eyes reiterated that her daughter was still missing; her husband and his new ‘wife’, a teenage boy and an old security man had been murdered in cold blood at his Benin residence and she was the prime suspect. She knew he was buffing and like a shark circling, he smelled blood but couldn’t prove it. A play out of emotions of one who was suffering the anguish of a missing child, hatred her husband but still human enough to tear at the news was appropriate and Victoria played the part to perfection. There was no way she was going down for the crime when her daughter was still out there.
Kaita, a renowned lawyer stepped in when the crass inspector asked for Victoria to remain silent and cuffed her to the station with mere suspicions and few witnesses’ account of seeing Victoria two days before murder asking for her daughter in the street with flyers of a child. With a lawyer as an alibi and legal representative, it wasn’t long before the case fizzled out after series of appearances in court. In the cause of investigation and thanks to Kaita’s digging skills, it was discovered that Ben had embezzled millions of Naira of a very dangerous man in the creeks that couldn’t be named. It was also established that Ben had swindled Victoria of her inheritance along with other persons who were faceless. Soon the case quickly turned to one with more suspects than admissible – ‘above-the-law’ kind of suspects. Ben became the fraudulent dead man who killed his family and guard because of his recklessness and unmatched greed. Ben’s stash however was never found and the inconsequential amount in his accounts was frozen by the court. The case was dismissed.
“Give it time to breathe and we can check back” a determined Kaita to unravel where Ben hid his stash had told Victoria as she drove her to the Murtala Mohammed Airport after she was acquitted and was on her way to her home country – Ghana.
All was quiet until Kaita stumbled on a keg of gun powder 5 years later and was murdered few days to exposing the rot that was buried deep in the Nigerian Stock Exchange and big stalwarts in Government.
Ben was not dead.
A silent investor using a new name, Ben controlled companies worth billions Naira with subs that did whatever they were told. Not one to stay in a place long enough to reveal identity, Ben was steadily on the move and rise to acquire businesses across Africa with pseudo names. Kaita had found out the stunning discovery when one of her clients complained of shares bought in a company that had been declared non-performing by the Nigerian Stock Exchange and wanted to sue the company along with other investors who bought. His investments to the tune of five million Naira had gone down the economic drain and he wanted it back at or to be compensated. The story was that FAT Communications had issued IPOs – Initial Public Offers for the company clearly with the intention of not reporting to the NSE quarterly as stipulated. After 6 years, the company alongside others was declared non-performing, investors didn’t get a single kobo on shares bought because “they were supposed to share in the risk” and worst off, they couldn’t recover their investments. Their lives savings, borrowed funds and seed money was gone and they wanted Kaita to represent them.
Kaita, the notorious digger had dug deep into the company and discovered monumental dirt in the modus operandi of the perpetrators. These companies had the Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in their pockets and as such could default without any slap on the wrist. More also, not only was FAT Communications a cover up company, four other companies on the list of the non-performing companies had the same chairman – A Tim Bent.
Kaita, dogged, continued to track down the evasive man until an old copy of his passport stared at her from the laptop of the clerk she had seduced with her fine legs and a promised bed rump after work.
Tim Bent was no other person than Timothy Benjamin Dickson.
Victoria was the first to know and together they had worked on how to expose the system that sold shares to unsuspecting public for the purpose of raising millions for personal gain and Victoria – with the sole aim of destroying Ben.
But sadly, few days after Kaita had an incriminating document she wouldn’t show Victoria, she was taken off the 3rd Mainland Bridge by a truck – one belonging to one of the companies under investigation. An autopsy after refusal of company to pay huge compensation demanded by Kaita’s firm revealed enormous dose of cocaine in her system. The case had not only destroyed her reputation as the best female lawyer in the country, it had also left Victoria mad with grief and ambition to take Ben down at all cost, even if it were the last thing on earth she’d do. Now, Victoria decided was a good time to contest ownership of the company – Zenith Group and expose him for what he truly is – evil in human form.
Tim Bent owned 70% of Zenith Group with a miserly 30% shared between unknown fronters including Abel Fatasho, her father’s P.A before her father died and she had married Ben. It took Hanna Towel, Victoria’s new forensic accountant 2 years to dig out and trail Ben’s investments across Africa and in the UK but Ben remained ‘dead’.
There was simply no trace of his existence.
Whether he was alive or his ghost existed, Victoria was going to make him pay for his crimes. She might have pulled the trigger that ended lives but he had gone long enough wrecking more havoc and needed nemesis badly. If she was a hypocrite, then so be it. Victoria was ready to bare the economic rot he had long cultivated and take her pound of flesh. If he thought he had powers at the top, she had garnered alliances from top officials and international bodies….this time; Victoria was ready to see the nail go down his coffin – firmly.
It was her life ambition. It was time.
The long talk with Alama now Debbie Black revealed she had worked with the Group and had a fling with Abel’s second son. Victoria had smiled at the new name her little princess had given herself and admired her strategy for survival – she was really her father’s daughter. Alama had no idea of the power at play and the recount of her life had Victoria pasting a wide white smile as Alama continued to jab away on her friends, work and achievements. Did Abel know Alama – now Debbie was Ben’s daughter? Was Ben aware she was alive and working in his company? If so, what was his plan? He always had a plan and Victoria was sure Alama was going to be caught in between them once again.
She lied when she told Alama her father was dead because she wanted her daughter to smile, to stop the tears that flowed but mostly because she desperately wanted him to be. She hoped for both of them that Ben was indeed dead and that someone was acting on his behalf or impersonating him. Despite the task at hand, Victoria was thankful for the wedding interview – she had found her daughter. And now, she waited for tomorrow – Alama’s wedding day before flying to Abuja to go see Abel to make her demands. God help them. God keep her.
A smile at the thought of witnessing her baby girl walk down the aisle as she dropped her legs on the cold tiles tugged the corners of her mouth. Her phone rang. It was Alama. She smiled and picked it.
“Mum, Mum!” Alama called in panic. Her voice is shrill like she has seen a ghost. Victoria was sitting up as fast as she could.
“Yes Alama, what is it?”
“He is alive, He is alive” she said in quick breath.
“Where? Baby, where?” Victoria asked, panicking as she thought of the worst that Ben could do to her baby just to spite her.
“With my boss, with his son, I don’t know..I can’t be here. I am sorry the wedding is off” her voice barely in whispers.
“Calm down baby” she calmed her.
“I will find you” she said as she swallowed a sob and ended the call.
“Hello? Alama! Alama?” she called, staring at the dead phone in her hand.
Victoria Motosho knew Alama had slipped past her fingers once more and as always Ben was the denominator.
It was time to face Ben and face him squarely.
Her eyes closed, long lashes fanning her flushed cheeks and tempting swollen pink lips. Head on white soft pillow and hand placed delicately along her curved hips, she slept peacefully and I resisted the urge to wake her up for another romp. Watching her even breathing, I couldn’t resist anymore and planted a kiss on her warm soft lips as her eyes fluttered open. She woke up with a sad smile.
“Hi” I smiled as she looked sleepy and blinked to focus on me. I placed light kisses on the tip of her nose and she purred, smiling.
The sound of light rain caused her to turn, the movement revealing her pebble-like nipples on healthy sturdy breasts. I could see the receding love bite from my sucking and I smiled recalling her eagerness, hot dirty talk as she rode me and her twenty seconds blackout. She had screamed into my mouth as we came together and I felt the flimsy material between us rip as I filled her with my essence.
“Hey beautiful” I said, dipping my head to give her a full kiss. The room was dark and cold, the Air Conditioner humming in distance as we moaned, sucking and kissing. I could kiss her all day.
“I have to go” she choked after the passionate kiss, looking at me with unfathomable eyes. I didn’t know what she was thinking and the fact that she showed no emotion made me flinch.
“No, you don’t” I murmured as I tried to drag her soft warm body under me but she twisted free, standing up and going to the bathroom. I followed her.
“Really Vince, you don’t need a bath” she said as I joined her in the shower. Silence followed as we took turns washing each other and she smiled, shaking her head as I pressed her up against the glass wall.
“Someone is determined to get me pregnant” she said as she felt me slip my fingers in her tight love hole before going down on her. She had insisted on condoms right from the start and I had obliged her. It wasn’t my fault it ripped. I simply wasn’t built for condoms. After a thrashing orgasm from my mouth, I was determined to leave a piece of me in her and I plunged in, deeper, without a single thought of retracting until the deed was done.
“You are mine, only mine” I said as I pushed into her womb, standing and bracing her legs up. Her squeal and tightening of her legs round my waist, flexing of her vaginal muscles became too much for me as we went at it slow, raw lust building up as I fed her; and then she had shattered in my arms; crying and clinging to me. I came unexpectedly as we stilled; each afraid of moving, holding on to the moment. I was spent, sedated but surprisingly hard again in few seconds. This was too much.
“You have to get that sorted and don’t you dare come close” she laughed as she came down from her climax and felt me growing hard in her canal. Unhooking her legs, she moved away for a thorough bath. Words were not exchange afterwards as we washed; looking at each other and smiling.
“Marry me” I asked as I relished the feeling of teasing her pebbles on firm flesh.
“I am not going to leave you” I said with profound determination as her silence washed over me. Pressing into her and trailing kisses under her earlobe, she remained stiff but gradually got excited again as I sunk my index finger in her. I couldn’t resist – I had her again.
“What time is it?” she asked as we finished ‘bathing’ for the umpteenth time, getting into her jeans and looking around for her bra.
“Let me help you with that” I said going behind her and slowly putting it on but holding it lose as my hands covered her firm round breasts that were defying my persistent attention to cause them to fall.
“Vince, stop it. It is not a toy” she said trying to push my hands away
“Are you sure? Coz I am pretty sure I could play with them all days” I said tweaking the already hardening nubs.
“I can’t do this right now” she snapped as she walked over to where her shirt lay on the sofa.
“I am sorry….I just can’t get enough of you” I said as emotion caught in my throat. Never did a woman get under my skin this deep and the thought that she was walking down the aisle in less than twenty-four hours caused me great discomfort. It also made me feel less of a blockhead for what I was about to do. A desperate man really could be a foolish man. I had no idea of what I intended to achieve but doing nothing to stop the wedding would be waiting to be spoon-fed.
“Do you love me?” I couldn’t believe the words had come out of my mouth as I watched her adjust her shirt in the mirror. She froze, not turning to look at me. Few seconds passed as she found her bag and walked around the room almost too afraid to acknowledge I had spoken as she picked her phone.
“I asked you a question Alama” I pushed and she turned to face me; her eyes begging to be let off the question.
“I need to know” I pressed as I noticed her lips clamping together.
“Debbie?” I called, reaching out to her.
“Vince, I can’t”
“Do you feel anything for me? Some kind of connection, likeness, love maybe?” I asked standing in her front, almost begging her to let me know what she was thinking. It seemed like she only wanted me for sex and then couldn’t get away fast enough once it was over. It was unfair to have these feelings and not have them reciprocated.
“Even if I did, what would be the point?” she said looking straight at me, then dropping her eyes.
“Marry me Debbie” I asked again, tilting her chin to look at me. Her eyes watered and her lips tightened; I could feel her heartbeat and noticed the uneasiness in her breathing. I could see the conflict of emotions in her eyes, fear, desire and loyalty.
“I am getting married to Kole in less than 24 hours” she finally answered, looking at the door. She had decided. I watched her as she walked out of the room but not before long heard her gasp.
I closed my eyes.
“You are such an a**hole” I muttered underneath my breath as I followed her out, grabbing a shirt on my way.
Perhaps a meeting of ex-husband and soon-to-be husband might just stop wedding.
I could only hope.
For the umpteenth time, I wondered what was wrong with me as I rode him hard, twisting and gyrating for all I was worth. I couldn’t get him out of my system and the fact that I transform into some devious sexual being whenever I was with him confounded my confusion. Why Vince? Why did I have to get mushy and brainless the moment I’m left in the room with him? To say he is the best I ever had would be an understatement. He was firm, long, big, curved and his measured strokes took my breath away. He knew his way around my body and I didn’t care if he had 10,000 hours practice with 10,000 women to get it right every single time. I lost it when his lips found mine and all I could think about was having him.
“You have to stop this wanton behavior. This isn’t you” my inner Being said, frowning in disapproval as I voiced phrases that would put the highest porn star to shame. Using the last ounce of self-control, I stopped and made to climb off him but he was quick to anticipate my move. He switched and I was on my back before I could blink. Thoughts flew out of my head as he drove in with one purpose. Domination. I blanked out as I came and I felt him rip the protection I was counting on.
His lips taking mine hours later woke me up and I felt my treacherous body respond in a way I knew would cause me to misbehave again. His hands, his hard-soft body and lips tempted me as we showered until he asked if I loved him and repeated I marry him. His continuous chant of the two-word sentence was beginning to get personal and serious. I freaked out. Hurrying out to the sitting room to escape the tensed atmosphere, and there he was. Sitting with his back to me, I knew even before he turned. I felt my lungs collapse and my throat clamp up as I watched him turn.
“Caleb?” I called. I couldn’t believe he was sitting here after so many years. My legs needed support at this point and I found myself leaning on to the sofa in the large live-in space.
“Alama?” he called, his eyes meeting mine. A smile? A confused look?
“Caleb. Why are you here?” was all I could come up with. The questions were whispered and my heart beating so fast I had to consciously tell myself to calm down.
“I thought you were dead” he said standing up and advancing slowly. I raised my hand to stop him.
“You left me.” I said in a strange high pitched voice. Like the frightened 16 years old who was left in the fire.
“I..” he couldn’t find the words.
“I am sorry” he whispered as I waited for him to explain why he deserted me. Why he wasn’t with me in the burning hut. Why he let me suffer knowing I was carrying his child, our child.
“What are you doing here?” I repeated, my eyes filling with salted water. Vince had told me Caleb was with him in his message but seeing him here was overwhelming. What was his plan? To reconcile us? To get a confession from me? From Caleb? Surely it was just a ploy to get me in bed and it worked. I wasn’t angry, I felt cornered.
“Mr. Vincent” he said looking anxious and uncertain as he lifted his eyes to the approaching figure. I knew without looking back that Vince was standing behind me. When did he let Caleb in? Most probably when I was sleeping. And for how long was he here? Did he hear me scream? I shifted on the sofa as I gathered my thoughts.
Vince went straight to the bar across the room and got a glass of spiked vodka for himself eyeing both of us, and just as he screwed the lid back, a knock sounded on the door.
“Right about time” he said without looking at me, questions on who he was expecting and what he wanted to achieve with the ambush trapped in my throat. He walked over to the door and opened it. I saw his body tense before I heard a familiar voice. A voice that would change the course of events.
“We need to talk right now” it was an angry Mr. Fatasho. What was Mr. Fatasho doing here? I tried to process the connection between my wedding Kole, Caleb and Mr. Fatasho and came out blank.
“Tobi can host the government official father” Vince sounded pissed and I wondered what was going on. Caleb sat looking at me quietly and I stood up, uncomfortable at his silent direct stares. I approached the door and decided to find out what was the cause of the raucous exchange.
“Good evening sir” I greeted sweetly and a flick of alarm registered on his face. He looked like ashen; like a blow had been delivered in his midsection; and as he glanced beside him, my eyes followed his to the subject of his agitation. A mass of living body occupying gold plated wheelchair stared back at me.
My heart literally lurched; fear, anger and an emotion I knew as hatred flushed down my body all in one second.
A look of shock etched on his lined face and dimpled nose, I saw the proud man I knew as my father seated in a wheelchair with a pregnant young woman; his hair white, lips drawn to the side imitating a sardonic smile and a little glint in his eyes. If I wasn’t any wiser, I would have concluded he was happy to see me but I knew better. This was the man who was responsible for a terrible childhood, this was the man I wanted dead, this was the man who was dead yesterday but today lives. This was the man who changed my life before and who had the power to change it yet again.
What was the connection here? What did Vince and his father have to do with my father? And how did they all get here? Caleb, my father and just as I lifted my eyes….I saw Kole at the landing of the stairs few meters from the door.
It was official. There was no way I was going ahead with the wedding.
Just in a second, what took me sixteen years to forget was staring at me in the face and this time it wasn’t any different. I did what I knew how to do.
I knew without being told that she was with Vince the moment her line rang off repeatedly. The text from Vince after the fourth ring confirmed it. Although it barely stated why he was inviting me to his apartment, the vague message from Vince was all I was hoping to avoid few hours to my first wedding. It was obvious that Debbie had tuned out since the Alex episode and whatever I said afterwards evoked passive of smiles, the signed agreement serving to divide us further. The little spark that existed between us was long gone and we were going ahead with the wedding because it was too late to stop and I, hoping for a fresh start and giving my sexual orientation a break.
How did Vince get my number though? That wasn’t an issue with Debbie’s phone on her person. I was furious and as I got ready, I vowed he wasn’t getting away this time without a disjointed jaw. Taking two hours off the guys to “go sort out some issues”, I drove roughly to the address. Alex had gone MIA and wasn’t returning my calls. I had to make sure he wasn’t going to try some crazy stunt at my wedding tomorrow. Perhaps he was why Vince had invited me to his apartment – I hoped not.
The drive to Ikoyi took the last shred of patience and as soon as I found a suitable parking spot, I was out fuming and eager to put the little boy in his place.
My phone buzzed. An email from Alex.
I knew the content of the mail before opening, call it premonition and you’d be right. Taking a deep breath, I opened it nonetheless.
“Get married and I will release our love video” an email
Staring at me as attachments were sex videos. Alex, a weirdo had recorded one of our session because ‘it kept him warm’ and wanted to get kicks from editing the footage. But from the attachments, he probably must have recorded more sessions. I felt heat climb up my neck and took a moment to take in air. I sent a reply instantly.
“I will be there in 1 hour. Don’t do anything rash” I replied.
I cursed my addiction to the fine specimen…Alex was going to be my downfall, I knew it and yet I couldn’t wait to get to his apartment – mostly to ‘reassure’ him of my love the only way I knew how.
‘There goes my bachelor’s eve’ I muttered as I looked up the apartment number from Vince’s message.
‘Get her and leave’ I muttered again all the way to the 1st floor chastising myself for thinking she was with him and using the stairs to work up anger.
And then I saw her.
Her face red, like she faced a furnace, as she ran down the stairs as fast as her legs could carry her. A look at the little group at the door of the apartment told me they were responsible for the tensed atmosphere and they stared back at me as Vince dashed past me in hot pursuit.
“Debbie! Debbie!!” he called as he ran after her.
I briefly considered asking what Mr. Fatasho what was going on but decided against it and I followed suit.
“Debbie!” I called as I ran down the stairs but she was already out of the mini estate and had waved down a taxi.
“Debbie! Listen, I had nothing to do with whatever that was back there” it was Vince shouting as Debbie got into the car. Her hair askew, eyes red and nose running, she was on a call.
“He is alive, He is alive” she was saying into the phone in panic as I came within hearing distance.
“Debbie” I called and she looked at me.
“I am sorry Kole. I can’t” and she was gone. I knew even without her saying it – the wedding was off.
My phone rang. It was Alex.
“I can’t talk now Alex” I said into the phone as I watched the car speed off.
“Then you leave me with no choice Kole” he threatened.
“The wedding is off” I barked into the phone, exasperated at his timing.
“I need you here with me, please” he tried the pitiful tone he knew got me every time.
“Give me few minutes” I said grudgingly into the phone and I cut him off.
“The wedding is off” I said looking at Vince with a straight face. Vince stared after the long departed car, rubbing his nose violently and cursing in muted tones.
“I hope you are happy” I said to a distraught Vince who finally looked at me with heated eyes.
“Yea, I guess so” he said maliciously and he matched back into the estate with anger oozing from his pores.
I had less than 25 minutes to get to Alex. It wasn’t a good time to find out what the little gathering was all about and moreover the wedding was off…..I sent the three worded sentence to my ever efficient P.A and switched off my phone.
She knew what to do.
I knew even before I boarded the plane that Alama’s rumored wedding would not hold. Against Umar’s advice, I had taken the plane ticket from Mr. Vincent and had left for Lagos – hopeful, excited and ashamed at various times as I prepared for the trip. Mr. Vincent didn’t know this but Umar was a friend of a friend I briefly housed when he came into Abuja for his job interview years back. It was a huge relief when he had stepped into the house weeks ago.
“I really don’t know what you did or didn’t do. I think it will be wise to stay off for now” he had advised as we left Mr. Vincent’s house. Two days later, Mr. Vincent strolled into the lounge and handed me a Lagos-bound ticket. I took the decision to end the suspense. Yes, I was a murderer or almost a murderer and yes, I wasn’t going to confess, I wanted to see the woman she had become – the woman who had the attention of millions. I simply wanted to see her just one more time.
And I had seen her – more radiant and confident….until she had seen her father and fled, Vince in pursuit. I knew I wasn’t going to see her again; maybe in another decade. I could only hope.
Vince returned alone with eyes so bright with anger and chest heaving with words unspoken.
“Who is he? What are you doing here?” he shouted the moment he walked in, slamming the door as he pointed a look at the mean looking man in wheel chair. The atmosphere had been quiet but tensed in the airy room as the old men and young pregnant woman made entrance few minutes earlier; my eyes refusing to meet the man I knew was Alama’s father. I didn’t introduce myself and frankly I didn’t know what I was still doing there.
“I am Tim Bent – Alama’s birth father” he said without missing a beat.
“We need to talk” it was a man who looked like Mr. Vincent in his mannerism and thick brows knotted in determination to maintain aloofness. Mr. Vincent simply ignored him and went into his bedroom but exited shortly after.
“Book yourself a flight” it was Mr. Vincent handing me two bundles of one thousand Naira notes. The look in his eyes told me I was free to go.
“I am sorry” I said for the first time meaning it. He didn’t know what I was sorry for but he nodded.
I was sorry for keeping Alama when her mother was looking for her.
I was sorry for taking advantage of a 16 year old
I was sorry for killing an innocent baby.
I was sorry for deserting her
I was sorry for the chance lost to apologize to her.
I was sorry.
“I am too” he answered and showed me to the door.
One last look at three domineering men and I gave a sad bow.
I got what I came here for – I got to see her one last time.
But I was not going back to Abuja.
A new life in Lagos beckons – Another fresh start and I welcomed it.
The two old men sat staring at each other and I was tempted to scream the roof off.
“I see you are her father” I started after the silence followed Caleb’s exit.
“You knew she was alive and you didn’t tell me!” the old man in the wheel chair snapped at my father.
“I didn’t know” father said in low tone looking out of the window.
“I see” he replied and turned to face me.
“Where is my daughter now?” The intimidating man in wheels turned to ask me and I blanked out for few seconds.
“That is irrelevant” my father voiced coming to stand in the middle of the room.
“What do you mean it is irrelevant? If you have nothing to say, it would do you good to keep quiet” he barked again; I could see him with legs looming over the room.
“She ran away again and I want her back” he continued without a breaking, looking at me.
“I am out in the open. I am not supposed to be seen out and if you were thorough and smart as I thought, you’d have known my daughter was right under your nose all these months” he seethed with malice; his words coming out in hisses.
“I suggest you take a vacation then” father voiced bitterly.
“I want to see her” he said almost to himself than to the occupants of the room.
“I don’t see that happening” father stood his ground with the hot tempered man. “Can you get in touch with her? I see you two may have some kind of relationship” he waved.
“I suppose?” I answered meeting his eyes.
“Look for her” he instructed.
“She knows how to remain elusive. I looked for her for years” my father answered.
“She was right under your nose. Don’t speak anymore” he commanded and I was surprised to see father bite his tongue for the first time in my life.
“I told you to receive a visitor in Abuja, if only you had. We’d have devised a way to keep her where we can always find her” father growled at me.
“What has that got to do with the fact that Debbie is out there and unreachable?” I said, exasperated at my father as I called her number. It was switched off.
“You were supposed to receive me. I guess you should have told your boy to keep her an eye on her since you knew there was a probably of finding them together” he was saying to no one in particular and the young woman sat, her eyes trailing one mouth to the other.
“You, my boy refused to receive me. I demanded this meeting to tell you to help me keep my daughter safe and well, guard until I could tell her …” he stopped and looked out of the window.
“Dad, is that my sister?” the young pregnant girl asked as stillness came over the room and the operator’s voice telling me Alama’s number was switched off came to an end after the 6th dial.
“Such a fool….who will inherit my empire” he rubbed his eyes and I felt pity for the pregnant young woman.
“I will leave the country in few days” the old man said tried as he wheeled himself out. The young woman clambered after him.
“Right. We will find out where she has gone this time” father reassured.
“Don’t bother. It will be another decade before I see her again. She is my daughter afterall” he said with shiny eyes and a smile on his lips.
“If she contacts you, tell her I love her and need just five minutes of her time” he said as he reached the door.
“Will do” I nodded.
Soon the crowd of three piled out and I poured myself a full cup of whisky and dialing her number.
“You must know that I have no knowledge of what happened earlier. Please don’t let this come in between us. Call me”
An email sent. A text sent.
But somewhere deep down, I feared I had lost her. Forever.
I poured the hot drink down and felt tears running down my eyes involuntarily
“Debbie….please” I choked as my heart broke for the first time.
It was love on the 25th.
The bright sun was significant on Monday morning as Victoria walked into the reception of Zenith Group HQ. A look at Victoria and a card made the stoned faced receptionist skip like ram as she called Abel’s office. Victoria having spent 48 hours waiting for Alama to contact her was exhausted but saturated with anger.
“Please come with me Ma” she said as she led Victoria and Hannah to Abel’s office at the penthouse; heels clicking with the sparkling marble tiles.
Abel was already on his feet as she walked into the rich space that oozed authority. She faced the green snake who was christened Abel after 20 years and with him, his son – Vincent sitting heavily with blood shot eyes. The receptionist bowed out.
“I suppose you have more than enough time to chat with an old friend today” she said sweetly as she swayed into the room.
“Of course! Victoria! So nice to see you” he said coming around for a hug.
“Been a long time my faithful friend” she said with sarcasm.
“Ah! There she is….the acid tongue” Abel laughed; the chuckle not reaching his eyes.
“You chose sides…I wasn’t happy with you for a long time” Victoria said with a small smile of her own.
“Oh! You don’t blame me…he was a very dangerous man” he laughed off the comment.
“My son, Vincent. Vincent…this is Victoria Motosho, Alama’s mother” he introduced and passed a look to his son, who looked temporarily lost.
“Debbie Black, just in case you were wondering” Victoria sitting down and extending her hand to Hannah who produced a bulky report.
“It is my pleasure Ma’am” the young man said in a small uninterested voice. He looked sick and worst off; he looked like he would rather be at home sleeping than at sitting here.
“Heard from her, have you?” Victoria asked noting he was probably love sick.
“No” he said, sitting up.
“Me neither” Victoria said looking at Abel.
“So to what do I owe this visit?” Abel asked wriggling his hands.
“We both know Ben is alive and probably out of the country…it took me a while I confess but I think he will be interested in this little compilation. I have had the pleasure of making this compilation and I am sure you’d find it quite expository” she said as she dropped the bulky report mid-way between her and Abel who had long taken his seat.
His face tightened as he pulled the thick volume close and opened it gingerly, each page a revelation. Like a well-researched project, each page revealed names of companies under the Group and supporting documents that showed the amount raised through fake IPOs, companies delisted, taxes evaded and monies transferred to offshore accounts, fictitious transactions and bogus fraudulent figures that could bury the Group and all directors. The report really was the end of Zenith Group should it reach the wrong hands. This amount of information could only have made its way out of Ben’s den and he knew how. Akin had died because he had been careless with the documents.
Now, here it was after 11 years.
“From your look, I bet you know what those are” she sneered.
“What do you want?” he asked closing the report and meeting her eyes.
“Well, since you asked…I want Ben”
“You do realize that is impossible”
“Not as impossible as publishing this page by page. I wonder what your business partners and international friends will do”
“You are not going to bring all of us down because of your vendetta with your ex-husband who you killed” he snapped.
“I am aware of a court judgment that says otherwise. Can’t say the same for you Abel. You are a fraud, accessory to murder of Kaita Lawal and more importantly a betrayer. I wonder what Ben would say if he knew you were the one that gave Akin the documents to bring him down? What were your plans? Take over the Group?” she asked taunting him.
“I was in love with Kaita goddammit! He killed her and he will pay for it” Abel said, looking at his son that watched without an expression – almost bored to death by the banter.
“I don’t see it that way. I remember you were the C.E.O of Gabs Transport at the time. Your truck pushed her off the bridge” she said wickedly
“My hands were tied but I have not forgotten”
“I wish I believed that”
“Victoria, I can assure you that going this way will not lead to a satisfactory conclusion” Abel said palming the report.
“What will you have me do? Keep this well written report all to myself?”
“You can’t win”
“I can’t?” she asked as she stretched out her hand to Hannah. A piece of paper was given to her from a file.
“Just a copy of a court action” Victoria said as Abel reluctantly collected it and skimmed it.
“You are suing the company for its ownership? On what grounds?” he asked, sweating.
“Well, his last will had me as his next of kin. And he is dead. It is only logically I take over the Group as stipulated”
“But you can’t prove the Group is his”
“How do you propose you will do this?” Abel asked, alarmed now.
“I presume the report will fill in the missing blanks in court. It boils down to who will be held responsible for fraud and countless forgery – Ben is dead but his name and signature keeps appearing on incriminating documents. It could mean one of two things – Abel Fatasho is an impersonator or an accessory to murders and fraudulent diversion of funds, tax evasion…..need I say more? Either ways, you will be spending a long time with Jamie Ibory – I remember he was a friend of yours” Victoria said taking back the court action.
Abel didn’t know this but Victoria was bluffing. The court action had been doctored but Abel couldn’t tell the difference seeing that she flashed it and retrieved it just in time. She could see him fall under the pressure. No one wanted to take the fall for Ben – it was too big a fall for one man.
Abel feared Victoria and knew she would do as threatened. He couldn’t take the fall for Ben especially since he wasn’t even going to show up if the court action were instigated against the Group. He would lose everything. All he had worked tirelessly for –sweat and blood. Moreover, it was time Ben paid for taking Kaita from him.
“I believe we can work something out” Abel said after long minutes.
“I am willing to consider your options. I will be waiting for your call” Victoria said with a smile. She knew that look.
Abel was back on her side.
Abel Fatasho thought hard for days, his grey hair turning white in less than a week and experienced what his doctor told him were the early signs of a heart attack. He had given all to serve the man called Timothy Benjamin Dickson. He was not going to give his life too.
He was ready to relegate the control of company to Victoria but surprisingly, Ben had named his daughter Alama Dickson as his next of kin as he found out from his friend Tunde – Ben’s lawyer. Tunde was one who didn’t know the definition of the word “confidential” after a few too many bottles. A discreet visit to some of the directors revealed their absolute readiness to save their necks when faced with public humiliation. Some mentioned the need to eliminate Ben to save their necks if push turned to shove. There was no one ready to take the fall.
Abel made the call.
Ben was excited to receive news of Alama’s return and readiness to meet her. A meeting in his home in Nairobi had been fixed and he was exhilarated. He wanted to tell Alama he was sorry, he wanted her to know he loved her and all he did was for her. He wanted her to have all he had worked for, to take over his legacy. He couldn’t wait.
And while he sat sipping his favorite drink of freshly blended ginger and cinnamon, he knew he had been poisoned as soon as Victoria walked in.
In white apparel, she let her hair fall as she approached him under the palm trees where he relaxed. Abel, who had met him hours earlier, told him Vince was bringing Alama and so they waited; sipping drinks and sharing laughs.
“We meet again” was all she said as he felt his eye lids begin to fall. Trying hard to keep his eyes open, he turned to look at a straight faced Abel who had dropped an enormous amount of abrin into his drink when he brought his glass from the house.
“You filthy betrayer” he choked as he held his chest, piercing Abel with a heated look. His eyes closing and mouth trying hard to reveal the last secret, Abel was fast to block his view from Victoria as the words escaped his dried lips in gasps.
“He killed your father for me” he voiced but Victoria didn’t hear it.
“It was a pleasure to have worked for you” Abel returned as he stepped aside and they watched him choke; trying to reach for his phone. Abel shifted it from him and both watched as his heart gave out, taking his last breath, pointing a long accusatory finger at Abel.
“Kaita would be happy” Abel said as he looked beyond Ben; seeing nothing.
“Yes, she will be” Victoria said and unexpected allowed pent up tears flowed down her cheeks, for the first time grieving for Kaita.
Abel stood up and walked into the mansion to alert his young daughter and his body guard.
“Call an ambulance, He is having seizures” he said to the hefty guard who called the hospital immediately.
“Is he dead?” Abel heard the timid voice of the girl as he turned to return to Victoria and nodded solemnly.
“Thank God” she whispered as tears fell out of her eyes.
She was finally free from his hateful words. She had sinned because she wasn’t Alama. Mary had been in school when her mother had been murdered and soon after, Ben discovered that Josephine, the woman he had left Victoria and Alama for, had lied about Mary.
Mary wasn’t his and she had paid dearly for her mother’s deceit. But still, she called him father and regarded Alama, her sister.
Where will she go? Who would she tell? Who would believe she was carrying her his child?
She sunk to the floor and wept; until the woman in white apparel had reached for her and helped her up.
“I am sorry” she chanted continuously as she cried in Victoria’s arms.
Victoria had found the shaken girl on the floor and she knew God had given her a second chance to redeem herself. She was going to be a mother. She would take care of her.
The next day, the death of a Kenyan business man Jela Chane hit the local news. He had died in his home from a heart attack. Ben was laid to rest in an unmarked grave at the public cemetery with Victoria, Mary, Abel and his body guard paying their last ‘respect’.
An orphan, Timothy Benjamin Dickson had died the way he fought all his life against – To be unknown.
Tunde who read his will in presence of Victoria, Abel and Mary revealed what Abel already knew – he had given everything to his real daughter – Alama Dickson. But in absence of her, Victoria would take over affairs till Alama returned.
That was the end of Timothy Benjamin Dickson.
The resolution of Group directors was unanimous too – until the return of his next of kin – Alama Dickson, her mother and ex-wife of Timothy Benjamin Dickson would be the new President of Zenith Group.
Victoria Motosho on her first day of work collected names of all shareholders and through the legal department returned monies to them. There were no profits but surely a refund was a most welcomed idea. In an unexpected move, shares of the company soared in six months – if there was goodwill and assurance to get a refund, most investors trooped in.
Never one to shy away from the camera, she granted interviews in hopes to reach Alama. She knew she was watching.
Victoria knew one day Alama would return and she waited.
I remember like yesterday the move to Abuja with Debbie, the shameless absolute need to have Vince, the wedding of the decade and Debbie’s disappearance. Kole wouldn’t tell. Vince wouldn’t see me or the girls. He worked all the time and he looked like he had an acci
dent with life the weeks that followed. Months and five years, Vince became the eligible bachelor that had vowed off women. He looked hurt all the time and the last time I saw him, he drank whisky all day barely meeting my eyes.
“Have you heard from her?” was all he asked.
“No” I answered and he had let out a fake laugh.
“Will you let me know?” he asked in a murmur.
“Yes” I reassured and he had nodded. That was the last time I saw him.
I remember her text.
“The wedding is off. I am on my way to Abuja. See you soon”
At first I thought it was a joke and had called her line. Her phone was switched off. Panicking, I told the girls and we had gone into overdrive calling her.
“The number you have dialed is switched off” it was the electronic voice of the female operator.
“Call Kole” Tina suggested.
“The number you have dialed is switched off” it was another operator.
“His number is switched off” I said panicking further.
It was midnight before we saw him drive in. Kole looked flushed and sad.
“What is happening?” I fired still trying Debbie’s line.
“Where did you keep your phone?” It was Uloma.
“Have you spoken with Debbie? Have you seen her?” It was Eva
“Debbie said the wedding was off” Tina continued and at that point, he looked like he wanted to throw us out.
He looked tired, his shirt showing a rip and his hair totally spiking at all angles.
“The wedding is off” he said as he walked past us.
Undoubtedly the news of the broken engagement made pages of papers and front covers of soft sells in coming weeks. Debbie’s twitter account was deleted and all that was left of her were personal pictures, mentions of her in write-ups and the legendary interview uploaded on different blogs and websites.
Debbie had disappeared from our lives. Her line was switched off and at some point, the operator simply didn’t reply when the line was dialed. Emails went unanswered.
That was 5 years ago.
I am married and pregnant.
Uloma relocated to the UK with an Igbo man who still drank palm wine as tea and called everyone ‘Nne.’
Eva was in series of relationship – it was Frank, then Moses, Ebi was the last after Nathan…I had lost count.
Tina was having the time of her live in Paris with her new catch – Alhaji Bello Fatagi.
Kole is the father of my baby and I am his trophy wife. It happened in Dubai during a fashion show we both attended. I had no issues with his sexuality and it was fun to have the freedom to desire another man should I ever get tired.
I don’t regret the one night stand or the outcome.
Yes, I know……..I am a good friend and should not be with Kole. But I am. Sometimes life is more than rules, more than expectations, more than girl-code. Most times, life is just what it is – series of interesting unfortunate events.
I keep waiting to see her again.
I don’t know.
5 years, 9months later
Dinan, Bretagne – France
Catherine Ejor held the hand of her little baby girl. Eyes deep as her father’s, she sang nonstop as they headed to the local market to get her favorite lunch of baked potatoes and greens. Long limbs springing into a run, Catherine called after her.
“Alama” she called as she bumped into the solid frame of a black man who turned to look at her with the same set of deep set eyes that tormented her at nights. He looked so much like him. No two people should look this good…
“Hello” his voice reverberates.
“Hi” she is breathless. He smiles as he released his hold on her arm.
“Lanre” he offered
“Catherine” she called still looking at him.
“Mummy” it was Alama coming back to drag her.
“You live around?” he asked as she smiled and made to follow her excited daughter.
“Yes” she answered as she walked away.
“See you around” he said as he stepped into the art shop.
Jaja Fatasho didn’t like his name mainly because he didn’t like the sacrificial tone. Almost gone for 8 years and constantly been hammered to come home, he made a hasty decision; picked an ugly vessel and without second thoughts went in search of the beautiful woman he had seen in the small market minutes earlier.
She wasn’t married, that he was sure because her dainty fingers revealed no rings and her eyes said more about her need. Perhaps he could return home with her as his wife and the pretty girl his daughter – the thought soothing his return plans.
That will shock his father and his little brother…and step mother.
With a smile as he found the beautiful females taking a seat at the sidewalk restaurant.
“Catherine” he called.
“Lanre” she waved.
“You call it well” he sounded surprise.
“Yes, I lived in Nigeria for a while” she replied.
“I think we might just have a lot to talk about then…Lunch sweety?” he asked the shy pretty girl hiding behind her mother’s skirt. She nodded and looked up at her mother with missing front tooth.
“I am hungry” she said and Catherine laughed.
“I know what you will like” Lanre offered as he held out a seat for the little girl.
“Green” she called as she pointed at the plate on the waiters hand going to another table.
“My! You are really hungry” he teased and she hid her face behind her small hands.
Catherine laughed; her heart filling with joy at his easiness.
“God please, let this man not complicate our lives” Debbie Black prayed as she watched him feed a happy Alama who was ecstatic at having a new friend and vegetables in her toothless mouth.
If only God didn’t have a wicked sense of humor. There was more than enough humor in the days ahead.
‘Let the pilot begin’ He says.
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