The look on Lara’s face could be described with a million words with none coming remotely close to touching the confused state she was in. Shock, confusion and bewilderment flashed across her face within the space of nanoseconds. Lara stood mouth agape at the entrance of the dark room, only illuminated by a lone candle. The light from the candle was not bright enough to make her see all the details of the vacant room, but it was definitely enough to make her see the stunned faces of the room’s occupants. She blinked repeatedly. What she saw before her was beyond her reasoning. Beyond what could be termed sensible.
“M… Mum?” She gasped, hoping for some sort of miraculous transformation. Hoping that the person just had close resemblance with her actual mother.
“La… Lara…” She gasped back, looking as pale as sheet.
Lara stared at the man in the room as tears formed in her eyes. “You?” She pointed at the man she remembered vividly as her captor. How could she forget his face? The scar on his face was more than enough trademark! “You?”
Sewa started forward. “Lara… it is not what you think”
Different things were nagging at her brain and every one of them was senseless. What on earth would be sensible about seeing your mother with your kidnapper? What on earth could be going on? Did she just drop into a scene in one of her scary novels? Lara was in a state of complete confusion, yet, everything that seemed logical sounded crazy to her ears. “What are you doing with the man who kidnapped me mum?” she rushed.
Sewa started forward. “It is not what you think, Lara, I swear it” Sewa murmured again in agitation.
Lara put her hand against her mouth to prevent herself from screaming. Surely she was outliving a scene in a horror novel. “You are even aware that he kidnapped me?” she gasped out at the silent recognition. She had prayed silently that her mother would be stunned that the man she was standing with had kidnaped her, but instead, she had said, ‘it is not what you think’. Oh no! Nothing was making sense. Lara blinked away the pain that was eating at her, bringing tears to her eyes. Surely, there must be a mistake, maybe she was overthinking things.
“What?” Sewa gasped softly. “I mean, no, how can I be aware of a thing like that?” Sewa glanced at Sword, probably trying to beg for support but the man continued to stare at her. He looked as deadly as the devil himself; it was a wonder that her mother could be standing so close to someone like him.
Lara swallowed and took two tiny steps into the room. Her fear of darkness was eating at her, or could it be the fear of the truth which might be revealed? Her heart was racing wildly in her chest; the ache in her head had doubled. She strained her eyes against her swimming tears to focus on the two people before her. “Please offer an explanation mum, before I go crazy” she pleaded. “What are you doing here? With this man?” her voice rose as agitation set in.
For the first time Sword moved and Lara jumped, out of fear, but he only moved backwards, running his large hand over his head wordlessly.
“I… I can explain… I… We were uhmm…” Sewa stammered.
Lara stared at her mother as she looked around, probably searching for a convincing excuse hanging against the wall of the room. Her heart came to a full stop as reality dawned. She took her hands to her head as the ache multiplied, blurring her gaze. Finally, everything was making sense. Oh God, how could she have stupidly ignored this truth? The truth had been staring her in the face and she had been too stupid and trusting to even acknowledge it. Now, her mother’s constant unease made sense to her. Her mother’s tears when she arrived home, stating that she was a terrible mother; sneaking out of the mansion in disguise; convincing her father not to investigate the kidnap… it was all making sense! Oh God! Lara gasped. “The hundred million” she gasped aloud.
Sewa had gone paler. She tried to move numbly towards Lara but Lara quickly jumped back, avoiding her mother. “You are overthinking things Omolara” she said as tears left the confines of her lids to coerce down her cheeks.
“Am I?” Lara turned to look at her kidnapper again. He still hadn’t said anything. She looked back at her mother. “Am I overthinking anything mum” Tears ran down Lara’s cheeks. “You” she pointed at her mother. “You were behind the kidnap?” she strongly needed her mother to convince her that she was still overthinking things, but as her mother went pale, she knew she needed no other conviction.
“Oh no, no, Lara, I am not behind anything” Sewa rushed. “I am your mother”
Lara stared at her mother numbly. “Is that even true?” she said quietly. “Can you be my mother?” Lara raised her hand to her cheeks and wiped off her face. “I knew he was working for someone, he called the person from time to time; was that you? Oh God! He said he had been instructed not to touch me” it was becoming clearer by the minute. “Last week, I saw an alert of a hundred million on your phone” she walked towards her mother who was sobbing now. “But you lied that the message was from a friend. You lied to me”
Sewa broke down and grabbed Lara’s waist, going to her knees as tears came unhindered. “I am sorry Lara… please… please forgive me… I never meant to do it”
Lara was the replica of a frozen statue. Despite her proof, Lara had still held on to the hope that her mother might be able to convince her out of this senselessness. She had been hoping that she was misjudging things, but as she stood, immobilized by the tight arms of her mother, she felt her world crashing with resounding claps. Tears rushed back to her dry eyes with a tidal force and spilled over the edge. “Leave me” she murmured, pulling at her legs.
“No! Let me explain Lara-”
“I said; let me go mum” Lara screamed and clawed at her mother’s hands until Sewa was forced to let her go. Lara turned instantly towards the door. She needed to get out of the room so she could breathe freely.
“Lara wait, let me explain please… Sword, say something” Sewa barked at the man who remained mute in the room.
Lara stopped briefly at that. She turned towards the man and stared at him through her tears. “Sword! So you do have a name after all” she murmured bitterly. With that she turned and walked out.
“I did it for my father” Sewa hurriedly said when Lara got to the entrance. “He is ill and needs money for… an operation”
Silence reigned as Lara stood still at the entrance. She turned slowly and looked at her mother. The hurt she was feeling was clearly displayed on her face. “That is a good analysis” she said. “You only forgot something; you have no family, remember? Your father is dead mum; the dead doesn’t go for… operation”
With that, she rushed out of the room, running as fast as her legs to carry her. She heard her mother’s voice calling out to her, but she was not about to stop anytime soon. She ran faster, out of the lonely building until she got to the street, and even them, she didn’t stop. She faced the first direction that came to view, running blindly as tears overtook her. Her mother’s betrayal ate at her nerves. My mother ordered my kidnap! My mother!
Jack overtook another vehicle as he drove home on top speed. He had breaking the speeding limit ever since he left Lara’s house one week ago. He was beginning to seriously consider other options. Surely, he could take his revenge on Tunji Banks without necessarily marrying his daughter, even though he knew that marrying her alone would be more than enough revenge. But then, it had taken the experience in Lara’s room to give Jack second thoughts. It would have been better if Lara happened to be a rich spoiled brat, given to pampering and sweet words. He had banked on that! But he had seen that fire in her eyes. She was just as stubborn as her father; maybe even more.
And that was what he hated her! The sparkling similarities she had with her father. Jack shook his head. The more he thought of it, the more he repulsed the idea of marrying her. Maybe he could think of something else asides marriage. Besides, marrying her was just a means to an end. All he needed was her trust and loyalty, then, he would use her to destroy her father. He smiled. How painful would it be to be brought to your knees by your own daughter? His smile widened. He would love to see the governor’s defeated and broken face. He would use Lara against her father, and after Tunji had been brought to his knees, he would carry out the ultimate revenge. He would do to Lara exactly what the governor did to his mother twenty years ago, and the best part is, the governor would be there to watch, just as he had watched helplessly. Jack’s mouth tightened as the dark memory invaded his thoughts. His arms tightened against wheels as he fired on. If only he could gain Lara’s trust and loyalty without necessarily marrying her…
Suddenly, a running form caught his eyes, causing him to hit the brakes instantly. He strained his eyes to see the face of the running woman and the headlamp of the car caught her face. Lara? He frowned deeply. She was crying! In fact, she looked like she had been crying for an awfully long time. Her eyes looked swollen and her nose was red. He had no soft spot for crying women, in fact, he had no soft spot at all, but there was something about her crying state which caused him slight distress. Lara was a strong stubborn woman and seeing her reduced to tears caused his stone heart to grow stiff.
He hurriedly pulled to a stop, hitting the brakes fiercely before she got to him. She was still running! Was she rubbed? What was she doing out of her father’s house, roaming the road in tears. “Lara” He called out in his baritone voice. She didn’t seem to see his car or him, she continued on, jug-running. He pulled the gear to ‘R’, reversing until she came to view again. He rolled down the window of the passenger door and leaned his head to the side. “Get in Lara” he barked in a warning tone. She stopped then and turned her head to him. Her eyes were so red, he couldn’t believe he had once stared at a ‘pure white’ version of the same set of eyes.
“Can’t you just leave me alone? Go to hell” she spat in a croaky voice.
“Why don’t you wait for my funeral before sentencing me? Get in” he ordered. “It looks like I am doomed to be your chaperone again tonight”
Lara stared at him for some seconds, then, she eased forward, opened the door and got in beside him. She wiped her face with the back of her slim manicured hand, like a little kid. Gritting his teeth, he moved the gear back to ‘D’ and the car eased forward, picking up its pace as he drove. No one spoke, and asides Lara’s occasional sniffs, no one made a sound. It was so unlike the previous time she sat with him in his car. Even though she had just escaped from a kidnapper, she had been so chatty, but now, she just stared at the large expanse of road ahead. Lara didn’t say anything and Jack did not ask. He wasn’t even in the mood to do that! His mood had taken a downslide and anger was fast setting in. what he didn’t know was who and what he was angry at.
Lara took her feet out of her slippers and brought her legs up towards her chest, with her heels on the chair. She remained like that for some seconds until Jack decided to break the silence. “Where do I take you?” Jack finally asked.
Lara was silent until she finally opened her mouth. “Anywhere” she said. “You can even take me to hell, but please… don’t take me back to my… the government house” she finished.
Maybe this is the key to what he needed, Jack mused as he drove on. Even if Lara had said something different, he still wouldn’t take her back to her house. He gripped the wheels as he drove them to his house.
Lara looked round the big compound in fascination as Jack drove in. It was not even half as big as the government house but she could see vividly that it was a place anyone would desire to be. It was surrounded with flowers, and even though Lara did not see Jack as a ‘flower’ kind of guy even though he brought her a rose flower, she knew why he bought it. Anyone would fall in love with the house at first sight.
The engine died and Jack opened his door. Lara pushed her legs back into her slippers and pushed out of the car. Jack was quiet, too quiet. She knew she had given him the silent treatment all through the drive since she was locked up in her own misery, but she was entering his house for the first time, the welcome should be better; she mused. Lara walked behind Jack as he headed towards the building. The gateman greeted and he answered grimly. Lara gave the gateman a warm smile when he greeted her and the gateman glowed back. She knew her smile always had that effects on some people.
Suddenly, a girl materialized and Jack’s features softened. Lara stated at the girl with curiosity. She would be just a few years older than the girl, Lara knew, but there was still something childish about her. Or was it the way the girl was grinning shyly at Jack?
“Welcome back Mr Andrews” she called, hoping from one foot to another. She completely ignored Lara, or did she even see her?
“Thank you” he said, then turned to Lara before murmuring. “Take her inside, prepare a room for her”
The girl turned to Lara with a smug cold look. “Follow me”
What’s her problem? Could she be involved in a relationship with Jack? Lara frowned, but her headache was making it impossible to think straight. She had too many problems. With a frustrated sigh, she followed the girl and Jack in.
Thoughts are Real!