HI GUYS, I AM WELL AWARE OF THE FACT THAT I HAVE UNOFFICALLY AND STYLISHLY CHANGED THIS SERIES FROM WEDNESDAYS TO FRIDAYS, E MA BINU, NO ME MY FAULT, I HAVE BEEN SCATTERED AND DISORGANISED AND MISPLACED AND I HAVENT EXACTLY BEEN IN THE WRITING MOOD FOR A WHILE NOW, BUT I PROMISE YOU IT WOULD RETURN TO WEDNESDAYS FROM NEXT WEEK.
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Toni heard the gunshot again and he knew whoever was firing meant business, trouble was brewing and he had to do something about it fast, he glanced at the frightened woman in front of him and looked at the door, there was no fooling himself, they couldn’t go through the door, it simply wasn’t an option. He looked at the window and he knew they were doomed. The window had iron bars protecting it and it was simply impossible fitting through the tiny spaces in between the bars, he was slightly nervous but he dared not let it show, lest Dede be worried.
He thought of the only reasonable option in that situation and faced her, “I am going outside now…”
She didn’t let him finish, he sounded really silly to her. He was going into the middle of all that chaos to do what?
“Are you crazy? Do you want to get killed?” She asked him
“No. but they would come up here and look for you anyway, so I might as well go down and distract them. And make sure you don’t leave this place”
He didn’t leave room for her to complain anymore, he darted out of the office, Dede watching him in fear.
When Toni emerged through Dede’s office doors, he realized they were under siege and in real trouble, the gunshots had hinted there was problem, stepping out had revealed to him how much problem there was.
Three armed men, with huge biceps and stony faces were pointing their guns at the sales girls, hair stylists and security men, Dede’s employees were frightened and the men didn’t look like they were ready to leave, at least not until severe damage was done.
One of them looked his way and discovered him standing by the door, he immediately pointed his rifle at him. Toni had not been sure the last time he saw a rifle like that, it must have been in a movie, a thriller to be precise. And the rifle had done terrible harm in the movie, causing many to lose their lives. It wasn’t a good thing to remember at the moment.
“On your knees!” He barked but Toni didn’t move, not immediately and this angered the guy who had barked the orders, “I say on your knees!”
He slowly went on his knees, all the while surveying the entire room, one of the girls had peed on herself and the rest were extremely nervous, but that was about all, nobody was hurt and the salon was as arranged as it was before.
“Where is Dede?”
The guy who was barking orders was asking for Dede, apparently the girls had not said anything.
“You people think I am joking ehn? By the time I scatter your brains on the floor here you will tell me! I know she is in here, where is she?”
Toni looked at him, “You just missed her” he murmured.
“Ehn?” there was disbelief in his voice.
“She left just before you came in” He said.
The guy looked at Toni and the latter knew that not only wasn’t his statement unconvincing, the guy meant serious business, he pushed Toni out of the way and burst into the office.
Dede felt his presence immediately he walked into her office, she should have known better than to come to Zest Ville of all places, she should have listened to Funlola, she had been right, her life was still needed by the people who wanted her dead and she had played foolishly into their hands.
She could hear her heart beat and she was scared it would be loud enough for him to hear too, she was hiding in the toilet, the door was bolted, but she had a strong feeling the killer would bring it down anyway.
“You better come out because I know you are inside this place”
Her throat ran dry, her pulse quickened and she instantly felt sick. She sat on the toilet seat and silently prayed for God to take her soul, there was silence for a short while, immediately followed by a loud bang on the door.
Then she heard voices, it was different from what she had heard earlier, it was the police, “Madam, it is the police, open up if you are in there”
She didn’t say anything, didn’t dare to move not until some few minutes later when she heard Toni’s voice, “Dede it is the police, please open up”
And she let down the water works as she slowly made it to the door.
TONI HAD TOLD HER TWO THINGS AFTER HE TOOK HER TO HIS HOUSE; One, someone powerful wanted her dead and two, she was not allowed to leave his house anytime soon.
That was fine by Dede, she wasn’t ready to lose her life and since she was willing to fight back and find out why she suddenly was a threat to someone she didn’t know, she had decided to be safe in every way she could be.
He didn’t return to work, he had cooked for her and tended to her but without saying much. He had ordered a few clothes for her online and she finally ditched the bathrobe his ex wife had given her for something else. Something like a round neck Tee and distressed jeans which she was wearing now as she sat on the kitchen counter, in the spacious kitchen, watching as he drained water from rice while he fried plantain almost at the same time.
She was a huge distraction for him, even when she was all covered and was wearing no make up, she wasn’t wearing weave and her full long hair was held loosely in a pony tail.
“Why are you not saying a word to me? I feel like you are avoiding me”
“You are in my house Dede, I am not avoiding you” he diced more plantain and poured it into the hot oil.
“Hmm..” was all she said as she eyed him, left the kitchen counter and pulled a jar of freshly made pineapple juice from the fridge.
“I am going to be here for a long time though” She said as she poured herself a full glass, she raised the glass to her mouth and watched him intently before drinking the juice, enjoying the sweetness of the cold fresh, unprocessed juice as it made its way down her throat.
“I intend for you to be” He said, without looking at her.
Dede wished he would say more, but he didn’t look like he was in the mood to.
ISEYIN WAS A SMALL TOWN IN OYO STATE AND IT WASN’T THE FIRST PLACE ANYBODY THOUGHT OF FOR A HOLIDAY OR A VACATION OR A RETREAT, it wasn’t the first place anybody would think of (if they thought of it at all) and so many people didn’t even know it existed and that was why it was the town Dede had chosen to hide her beautiful secrets.
That was what she called them, beautiful secrets. And the reason she called them that was simple, they were her secret, secrets she didn’t want the world to find out about until the time was right and they were very beautiful, beautiful to look at and so beautiful and innocent anybody would want to protect them. Anybody except the people they trusted so much and that had eventually betrayed them.
Dede had not been in touch for weeks and the reason was very obvious, she had been trying to get away from Makun, get a life outside him, get her whole life together and be a woman she could be proud of. That had been the plan until Makun suddenly died and her life suddenly took a different, unexciting and dangerous turn.
She had plans to reveal her secrets to the whole world, she had planned it perfectly, had been planning for two years and that was why she wanted to take all the money she could from Makun because she needed to fund her grand plan.
He had found out about that and when she had been trying to leave without anything whatsoever, he had been dead and whoever killed him had wanted her dead too.
Now she couldn’t leave Lagos and head to the small town of Iseyin to take care of all that needed to be taken care of, she wasn’t even sure the people over there knew what was going on with her and if they felt neglected.
She rolled away from the bed, stood and walked out of the spacious room into the more spacious sitting room. Immediately she walked in, she heard the low voices of people talking on television, Toni was awake and was watching a movie on Television. He was watching Titanic, his favourite movie and a movie he had watched several times over. The light in the sitting room was off but the bright light from the Television illuminated the room, giving her enough light to walk towards the kitchen. She entered into the kitchen where she poured herself another glass of the pineapple juice she had earlier.
It was 2am and she couldn’t sleep. Her mind was troubled and she was trying hard to find a way to get herself out of the fix she had somehow unconsciously gotten herself into.
“Why aren’t you asleep?” he had walked in on her without her noticing and she dragged her eyes from his body and consciously made an effort to keep it on the juice.
“I have a lot on my mind” she said. It wasn’t a lie, she had her troubles on her mind and now, she had his body on her mind as well. The latter seemed to be temporarily pushing the former out of her mind.
“Do you want to share?” he asked, he was already very worried about her, he couldn’t sleep because he had spent the entire night calling every important person he knew and had been calling in for favours asking his friends at the secret service to look into her case for him. But he could take all that, he felt like he had an obligation to protect her and look out for her, he had always felt that way about her since he was a little boy who was fascinated by her. He had it all covered and he didn’t want her losing sleep because of anything. He could worry for her, he could do a lot of things for her actually, which included going to the end of the world, fighting for her and moving mountains for her. So he didn’t want her to worry about that, he just wanted her to sleep and be well rested, he wanted her to go sleep knowing that he would fight for her.
“Do you know who called the police earlier?” she asked him, her mind was everywhere.
“Dede, the police told us someone in the neighborhood told them they heard gunshots”
She nodded absent mindedly, he worried for her, she knew the answer to that question because the police had told them twice, earlier in the day, yet she was asking again. He could tell something was wrong.
“you know I think I have an idea what might be making those killers follow me around town?”
Toni was alert, whatever reason she thought it might be might actually not be the reason, but it would allow him have an idea of what might be wrong. It would bring them closer to what might be responsible for the attempted assasination and at least stop them from walking around in the dark where the situation was concerned.
His guy at the secret service had advised him to make Dede talk, say anything and everything, anything that could give them leads.
“I have secrets Toni, big secrets that nobody knows about, but maybe someone has found out somehow because you see these secrets involves the biggest and most powerful men in this town”
Toni was listening with rapt attention, “Go on Dede”
“There are seven teenage girls in Iseyin, a little town in Oyo state, I kept them there”
She wasn’t making sense to him yet, so he urged her with his eyes to go on.
“They were abused by the people closest to them when they were little and the abuse had gone on until the time I rescued them”
“These girls, do they have families that consider you something else other than a helper?”
She nodded, “Yes. Some of them were raped by their Fathers and Uncles and brothers…” she paused and looked at Toni, he was listening, he wanted her to go on.
“I found them somehow and took them out of harm’s way”
“define somehow Dede”
“I let them trust me, I knew they were being abused.”
“You knew how?”
“Because I was abused myself, as a child, Toni”
It wasn’t a pleasant thing to hear, the woman he had always adored had been abused as a child and the immediate effect of learning that was overwhelming shock and hatred for whoever did that to her.
“You think someone might have found out about them?”
She nodded, she had finished the juice by now and was pouring herself her second glass. “I have a feeling that gets stronger by the second, that someone has found out about where they are and what I planned to do”
“What did you plan to do?”
“I was going to reveal them to the world and let everyone know how horrible the people that are in power can be. the governor’s daughter is part of them Toni”
“The governor of this state…” He said and she nodded, the matter at hand was finally making sense to him and he was finally getting to know how much in trouble Dede could be.
“Can you shed more light on this your revelation” He said, now leaning on the kitchen counter, some few spaces away from her. Stepping closer to her was going to distract him because the strong feelings he felt for her, the fire that burned in him when she was close by was still very much alive and so he stood where he could think less of how much he had missed her and how much he wanted to hold her. The attraction he still felt for the woman after so many years was crazy.
“I was going to bring out these beautiful secrets, that is what I call them by the way because they are sweet looking beautiful angels. I was going to bring them out, have a program that the press would attend and where they would all speak of the evil that has been done them and I had it planned just before the next election…”
“Which is in six months” he concluded.
“Do you think one of the girls spilled this information?”
“I don’t even allow them contact the outside world Toni.”
“Do they know you are fighting for them and not just locking them out of the world in some small town because it feels like a good idea?”
“I explained all that to them.”
Toni nodded and said, “Dede I think some of these little girls don’t know what you are doing for them and one of them might have alerted Daddy. Thing is, considering how hungry some of these people get for political power, you would not be left alone until you are dead because trust me, this would ruin the governor’s chances if it gets out and it would ruin his life”
“I know…I know…”
“So you are getting out of this country Asap!”
“But I can’t just yet, I have an obligation…”
“I don’t care what obligation you think you have but your life is more important than it and guess what? you can only perform the obligation if you are alive and well.”
“You are in deep shit, woman and you are getting out Asap!” He thundered. He was serious. Very serious.