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“Some things aren’t what they seem. They just aren’t.”
AJ had almost made it to the gate, his legs covering the space from the entrance of the house to the gate in record time. He grabbed his bag pack and drew him to a halt as AJ’s hands reached for the gate.
“Guy, where you dey go na?” he asked, a look of puzzlement on his face. He’d said something wrong, maybe, but why was everyone taking it as some sort of declaration for a public holiday?
All of a sudden, nobody seemed interested in their mega plans anymore and they were calling it quits.
Was that how it worked? Plan to scam a wealthy man and then stop everything simply because someone on the team said something he shouldn’t have said.
“Yellow, you heard the Lead. We were all here in the first place because Hakeem wanted to steal his father’s money. Now that he does not want to steal again, I say let everyone go back to their homes”
Yellow frowned, “Na like dat?”
“Sorry na. I no mean…” his voice trailed off as he began to look for a way to apologize genuinely. He hadn’t meant to put a stop to their plans. He hadn’t meant to accuse Hakeem, he just couldn’t sit and watch Ekanem go through another form of abuse from Alhaji for Hakeem’s sake.
Or as it were, their sakes, because of course, they were splitting the money if the plan became successful.
“But why is it that he is angry because of that small thing I said?”
“I don’t know. He seemed troubled from the moment he walked in through the door” AJ replied.
“Can we go and beg him at least?” Yellow asked. Of all the issues they had, Hakeem had never been that way. And just like he had known with Ekanem, he knew Hakeem’s response earlier was some sort of trouble that ran deeper than what he’d said to him.
“Fine” AJ replied, Yellow was visibly relieved. “Where is your Bus?”
“Outside” Yellow replied and they both made it out of the House and headed for the white and green bus sitting outside the compound in the afternoon sun.
It had rained heavily the day before, and the gutters had overflowed, causing the roads to be heavily flooded. It was something Yellow particularly hated about the Island; the fact that the roads, even the ones that led to the homes of the Wealthy, were not immune to flood.
He always thought that it was ridiculous that residents in places like Banana Island, Lekki, Victoria Island and even posh parts in Ajah, had to deal with the flooding that came with the rainy season.
Trying to escape a puddle of water, he jumped through and held his bus for support as he made for the Driver’s seat.
AJ hopped in almost immediately.
“Have you always wanted to be a Bus Driver?” AJ asked as he navigated the Bus out of the area and made for the main road.
“No” Yellow replied, “But it is Nigeria, you are never what you wanted to be” he added, slamming his foot on the accelerator, so he could beat a road user to the wide roundabout in front of him.
“So what did you want to be?” AJ asked
“I wanted to be successful” he replied in Igbo and then, when he saw the confusion on his companion’s face, he provided in Yoruba.
“That’s not something to aspire to” AJ frowned
“Everything we do, we want to be successful, don’t we?” he had opted for full blown Yoruba now, it was after all, the only language he was fluent in. “So why not just aspire to success as opposed to aspiring to being a Pharmacist or a Banker or a Lawyer. Just simply aspire to success and then, find what you want to do”
They were speeding through the road that led to Hakeem’s house now. He was aware they couldn’t drive the Bus into his father’s estate, so he faced AJ and said, “Ask Hakeem to meet us somewhere where they will allow us park the Bus” he said.
AJ nodded and dialed Hakeem’s number. Yellow busied himself with driving roughly through the road, ignoring angry road users who sent a cuss word or two his way.
Oloriburuku! Omo ale!
He hissed at the one who’d called him a bastard and spread out his five fingers, an action which meant he was insulting the person’s mother, before trying to escape another traffic light.
“Yellow, how far na? Slow down” AJ said, struggling to hold the phone to his ear as Yellow drove like he was being chased by the police.
“If I slow down now and Hakeem changes his mind nko?” He asked
“You don’t even need the money that much again. Shebi you already took care of the Hospital bills you came here for…”
Yellow laughed, “Guy, I have children.” He replied, slowing down as he approached a U turn. “How far? He’s not picking?”
AJ shook his head, “Maybe he meant what he said”
Yellow’s face fell before he said, “Text him”. Then, he began to offer prayers to God. Hakeem needed to pick, he was not done yet. Not until they all got their hands on that money.
He’d been trying to park when he saw her storming out of the House, her favorite Louis Vuitton traveling bags clutched in both hands. She was dressed in one of those flowing dresses she liked to wear, this one had the face of a white woman printed on it. It vaguely reminded him of one he’d seen on a famous Actress on Instagram.
Killing the ignition, he saw her hop into her BMW; it was the only car she’d ever purchased with her money. Every other car she drove had been bought by his father.
He remembered when she bought it a year before, it had been one of the most beautiful cars he’d ever seen and his father had told her repeatedly that he was proud of her. She had finally mastered the art of business and reaping the fruits of her labour he’d said.
However, she never really sat behind the wheel. The car was a lovely one, but it paled in comparison to the ones his extremely wealthy father owned or bought for the family.
He had a lot of money after all and it was only normal.
So Aunt Martha simply rode the other cars, or like he, whatever car she wanted and never really bothered with the BMW.
And that was why seeing he hop into it was quite surprising. That, and the bags she was armed with, like she was traveling.
If he cared a little about her, he would have gone after her and asked where she was headed or why she had that look on her face. But he did not care for her or her decision to leave the house.
So he simply watched her make to leave the House. His father followed minutes later, demanding to know where she was headed and what she thought she was doing.
“Please leave me alone!” She yelled as she struggled with the door of the car.
“Martha, you are about to see the stupidity of this very action” his father said calmly, his face as bland as an unimpressive work of art. Whatever was going on between the duo, it was serious and it stemmed from something more serious.
She glared at him, tried to close the door. He stopped her.
“Go away, Femi Rasaq! I will now go and worry about my child…”
“Alex is our child. If you insist on being irrational, don’t bring the child into this.” His father replied, if he was not standing a few spaces away from them, trying to hear what they were saying, his father would have lost him. The man spoke like whatever was happening was not enough to faze him – typical Rasaq behavior.
“I am being irrational? You’re the one who still won’t see me as family even though we have been married for fifteen years”
“I cannot remember treating you as anything other than family. What you want cannot be done. You have refused to respect that and you have to understand that I cannot do anything about it”
“Then be prepared to lose me” she said and made for the door, this time, he made no effort to stop her. She slammed the door and drove out of the compound.
When he made it into his room minutes later, his clothes shed on the clean bathroom floor, his body under the hot water coming from the shower, he wondered what happened between them.
Aunt Martha looked hurt. Since he knew her, he had never seen her like that. Not even that one time she had caught his father cheating with his Assistant.
Expensive clothes, designer shoes, real diamonds and millions of naira had kept her happy and bought her forgiveness.
So, whatever made her that pained must have been something serious. Turning off the Shower, he closed the glass shower doors, grabbed his towel off the towel rack and strolled into his bedroom.
He got there in time to hear his phone ring and when he saw who it was, he ignored it.
He was not ready to speak to AJ or any of the guys. He was still angry.
He was not the guy who cared about friendships or others really, so it hurt him to think the only people he’d have gone out for were the ones who thought he was conceited.
Settling for a pair of grey slacks and a black Yeezy shirt, he threw the phone in his pocket, fit his legs into his Slides and went in search of his Father.
He wondered where the man was meeting with Ekanem. He was not certain they had ever met under this roof and if they had, it only showed how disrespectful his father was to his marriage.
If anyone asked him, he’d say his father did not love Martha, but hey, who did the old man love? Definitely not him, because he never really cared, never even remembered his birthdays.
But after he got the money, he was going to pin it on Martha like he’d discussed with AJ, because someone had to get blamed of course and he was going to disappear for years.
It was what he’d always wanted.
However, as he sat at the dining table, he wondered why he wasn’t happy with what he had always seemingly wanted.
For instance, disappearing for years wasn’t so appealing anymore. If he disappeared, how was he going to see Ekanem? Maybe he could ask her to come with him?
He was falling for her but was she feeling the same way? It had been easy for her to insinuate he had been by her side for selfish reasons. So maybe she didn’t like him and he was the only one who had fallen in love…
Oh shit, he was in love!
There was no way in hell that was going to happen. He was not the guy who fell for Ekanem, he was the guy who fell for Nadia. The guy who was happy being an Ass, the guy who didn’t become friends with people like Yellow. The guy who people like AJ hated.
Shit, how had he ended up here?
His heart thumped against his chest; a reminder of what she had done to him without even trying much. He swallowed hard, trying to stop the effect the mere thought of her was doing to him. Thinking about her was like the lyrics to a great love song.
Willing to push the thought away, he grabbed his phone and read the message AJ had sent earlier and that he’d ignored.
AJ was apologizing on Yellow’s behalf and was asking him to see them and have a conversation at least.
He was about to type a reply when Ekanem walked in through the front door.
Springing from his seat, he marched towards her. It was until she walked in through the door that he realized he was angrier at her than he could have ever imagined. And, instead of yelling at her or trying to make her angry like she’d made him, he found himself drawing her into his arms and kissing her.
They were both breathless when he pulled away, leading her to a Seat, he demanded to know her plan.
“You asked me to get password or pin na. That is what I am going to do”
“When I said that, Ekanem, it was so you’d say yes and we’d have a plan. We don’t have a plan now, are you going to just stroll in there and start searching for passwords?” he asked, the look on her face told him she hadn’t been thinking. “You need to stop making spontaneous decisions, Ekanem”
She sighed, “I have siblings to take care of. I need money. I had to do it before you beat me to it and…” she stopped when she saw the look on his face.
“Where did you get off thinking I am trying to use you?” He demanded, he could feel the pain coming back. Why in the world did she have so much power on him again?
“I’m sorry, Hakeem” she replied, “It was insensitive and ungrateful, what I did. I guess it is just hard wrapping it around my head that you really like me”
“I’m falling in love with you, Ekanem. I don’t really like you” when she smiled, he smiled too. “He’s upstairs, you have to act really fast”
“I know” she nodded.
“He has a short memory, never really remembers anything. But I know he has a Tab where he has an App that keeps his passwords. What is interesting is, that App itself is passworded. Now, that is left to you to figure out and, get what we need.”
She managed a smile, he could see she was nervous. He held her tight. “You don’t have to do this, Ekanem”
“I want to” she said, “I swear” she added when she saw the doubt in his eyes.
“Be safe.” He said to her when they heard his father’s footsteps approaching them. “Please” he added as she made to leave, his hands holding hers tightly.
She placed a kiss on his forehead before she walked away.
She was certain that was the longest walk of her life. Her nerves had suddenly taken over her and she felt so jittery, she was almost certain Alhaji could see it in her when she found him in the second sitting room some seconds later.
He looked grim; his face seemed heavy, like something was bothering him.
Desperate to ease her own tension and make him talk to her so her later demands would not seem out of place, she smiled, placed a gentle hand on his face and asked if he was angry she didn’t come earlier.
“No. it is not about you” he muttered, a maid strolled in with a tray containing an empty glass and a bottle of Brandy. She filled it halfway and handed it to him. “Do you want anything?”
Ekanem, willing to shed the tension that could get them all in trouble, nodded. “Another glass. I will share your brandy.”
“Get her another glass” Alhaji told the retreating maid.
Ekanem rested her head on Alhaji’s stomach. “What’s doing you na, Alhaji? You know how you hate it when I am like this and you’re doing the same thing you hate”
He shrugged, “Family issues”
“My wife. She is leaving me”
Ekanem sprang up despite herself, she hadn’t seen that coming. “Why?”
He shrugged, downed a glass of Brandy and poured himself another glass. “Some reason she feels strongly about” he was pouring himself a third glass when Hakeem returned with the glass she’d requested for.
“Ekanem, can I get a minute?” he asked and her eyes widened in alarm. Was he about to ruin their plans? What was he doing?
“Why?” she asked
“I need to see you outside”
She giggled nervously, “Hakeem, we can talk later…”
She glanced at Alhaji and then, Hakeem, the older Rasaq waved her away and she hurriedly left the room, Hakeem behind her.
“What are you doing?” She asked when it was just both of them.
“I can’t let you sleep with him” He replied, “I will get that thing myself”
“You said he never lets you too close. You can’t get it yourself, Hakeem”
“Ekanem, I cannot let another man touch you. I cannot bear the thought of that happening. Not even my father is allowed to touch you. So, I will take the risk” he made to open the door, but she pulled him back.
“Hakeem, you’re not thinking”
“Uncle Hakeem, your friend AJ is looking for you downstairs” the maid announced. Ekanem and Hakeem exchanged glances.
“You asked them to come? Wouldn’t that raise suspicions if your father saw them by chance?” Ekanem inquired, was it just her or was something beyond all their powers combined about to happen?
“I didn’t. They came here because I wouldn’t pick their calls after Yellow accused me of pushing you to do this” he tried to drag her with him, “Let’s go Ekanem”
She had followed him down the stairs before she stopped, “No, Hakeem. Let me go and do this. I promise nothing will happen” she could see that he barely believed her as she made it up the stairs but as much as she wished she could stand there and convince him, she knew she had to do what she had to do.
Until her mother passed, she hadn’t been so passionate about their cause. Now, conscious of what the money she received could do for her siblings’ future, the cause was more important to her than it had ever been.
When she opened the door to Alhaji’s private sitting room, he was halfway through another glass of brandy.
“What took so long?” he asked when she sat near him, “What are you up to with that boy?” she covered his mouth with hers, her hands undoing the ropes of his Sokoto, stopping him from asking another question. He pulled her away gently, “Ekanem…”
“Alhaji, are we going to fuck? Or are you going to piss me off by asking if I am sleeping with your son?” she asked, feigning irritation.
He pulled her close, his hands fondling her breasts.
She shut her eyes tightly as he balanced her over his erection. He was going to thrust into her any minute and she was going to lie to Hakeem when it was all done.
She was going to lie to him because she loved him and she didn’t want to hurt him.
When Ekanem emerged from the Building an hour later, she was with the password they needed.
“Ekanem, how are you?” Hakeem asked and she avoided his gaze. Willing to ignore whatever was going to follow, AJ demanded for the password.
She read it out to him.
“That cannot be his password” Hakeem replied.
“Why?” Ekanem asked, “It is what I saw against his Bank Account”
“Yeah, but that’s my birth date. My birth date and the exact time I was born” Hakeem said, “290619951101” he re-read the numbers, “He can’t make that his password”
“Well, looks like your Dad loves you after all” AJ replied, “So what time are we leaving for Ghana tomorrow?”
“Do you guys have to go to Ghana?” Ekanem asked
“Yup. Less chances of getting caught.” AJ responded.
“But if you go to Ghana, they can make arrests after tracing you there too. It doesn’t make sense for you to…”
“Ekanem, frauds committed against said bank outside the country are hardly solved and the perpetrators are hardly caught. Less chances not no chance of getting caught.” AJ explained, his eyes on Hakeem. There was no way they were going back at this point, so he was not going to let Ekanem into his head.
“Ekanem, what did you have to do to…”
“Nothing” she replied quickly.
“He just gave it to you?” Hakeem asked, incredulous.
“He slept off after drinking. I asked him for his password when he started to feel drowsy” she provided, then quickly added, “I have to go now”.
AJ watched the two promised to see each other soon as Hakeem offered to go and drop Ekanem.
The next morning, the trio comprising of Yellow, AJ and Hakeem boarded a plane to Ghana. They ran their plans over and over and barely slept, each man understanding his role in the entire plan and at what time he was expected to make a move.
Yellow and his cousin, Ifeanyi, were to go to the Bank to move the money immediately it got transferred to the account Ifeanyi had opened for the purpose.
Hakeem was supposed to provide all the financial need and AJ was to hack into Alhaji’s account and get all the money through the password given them by Ekanem.
Everyone understood their jobs and it was supposed to go well.
When they reached the Hotel Hakeem had booked from Nigeria, they all went through the plan again before Ifeanyi and Yellow set out for the Bank.
Sitting behind his laptop, armed with the password they had secured the day before, AJ began to work on accessing the millions they had all come together for.
Transferring the funds with one click, Hakeem sat beside him, his gaze on the screen in front of them.
“Done” AJ said, relieved it was all over.
Hakeem shook hands with him. “Nice one.” He retrieved his phone from his pocket and dialed Yellow’s number to ask how it was going.
He walked into the Banking Hall with his cousin following behind. They made for the front desk and made their request known – they had come to withdraw all the money in their account.
Snarling at the Account officer who decided to ask numerous questions about how a new account holder wanted all the money in his account gone, he demanded to have all the money as soon as possible.
She apologized, sat in front of the computer and frowned after half an hour of looking through the screen in front of her.
“Madam, please answer us, we have a long day ahead” Ifeanyi snapped when it seemed like it would take forever.
“I’m sorry, but there is no money in this account” she apologized.
Ifeanyi and Yellow exchanged glances. “What do you mean?” Yellow asked.
“There isn’t a Cedi in this account” she reiterated. “When was the deposit made?”
Ifeanyi grabbed Yellow by the hand and dragged him with him out of the crowded Bank.
“Shit is about to go down, Ejike.”
“At least let us confirm na”
Ifeanyi glared at him, “I asked you if you trusted those guys and you said you did! They just scammed us, you fool! And we have to get out of the premises before the Police is alerted!” he pushed through the security doors and marched towards his parked car.
However, they hadn’t made it far when the Police emerged, surrounding their car.
“You’re under arrest for trying to defraud Alhaji Femi Rasaq” One of the Officers said.
Ifeanyi muttered a curse under his breath.
Yellow stood there, dazed.
Who had snitched?
Find out what happens next in SQUADI: The Originals when the Ebook drops tomorrow. Trust me when I say you didn’t see this one coming.