I know you must be wondering, ‘what is going on today’… I am terribly sorry for the delay today. Lagos forces combined to frustrate today’s episode but thankfully, God has taken charge. I sincerely apologise for the delay. Please read, comment and share. Thanks for the patience.

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Episode 15

Jack got out of the shower with droplet of water glistening on his chocolate skin. He removed the white towel around his neck and mopped the water off his face. Now, his nerves were back to normal. He couldn’t fathom why he had been sympathetic towards Lara. He couldn’t afford to allow himself the luxury of feeling emotions now. It must be the stress of the day, Jack thought, feeling refreshed and normal, now that he had taken a cold shower. All he needed now was a deeply refreshing sleep!

A knock made him pause slightly as he moped his dark hair with the towel. He turned his head towards the door slightly. “Come in” he said, continuing what he was doing.

The door opened and Bewaji appeared, looking blankly at him. “She is fully settled in the guests’ room sir” she murmured, looking displeased.

Jack didn’t notice her expression though, because he nodded nonchalantly. “Have you given her something to eat?”

She shook her head. “She said she doesn’t want anything”

Jack swallowed and continued what he was doing. If there was one thing he couldn’t stand, it would be having a starved person under his roof. He knew what it was like to be hungry and he wouldn’t wish it on his enemy! If only Mrs Balogun was around, she would be able to persuade Lara into eating. The woman had chosen the worst time to go for one of her overnight church programmes. “When would your mother be back?” He still hadn’t turned towards Bewaji fully, only glancing at her at intervals as he mopped his nude chest.

Bewaji was silent for some seconds, then she answered. “She would arrive early tomorrow morning sir”

Jack released the breath he had unknowingly been holding. That was good news! “Thank you Bewaji” he said dismissively as he walked to the wardrobe to pull out something to wear. It was only after he had his singlet over his head that he discovered that Bewaji was still in the room. He turned towards her. “Is there anything else you want to tell me?” he asked, raising a brow at her.

She hurriedly turned nervously. “N… No nothing! Good night sir” opening the door shakily, she scrambled out.

Jack smiled softly to himself as he considered his next line of action. He picked up his camera, and after careful consideration, he smiled gaily as he scrolled to Lara’s picture. His instincts had never failed him. He had known that a time would come when the picture would come in handy. He removed the memory card from the camera and slotted it into his phone. After getting rid of the white towel around his waist, he pushed on a grey short and walked out of the room.

*****
*****

Sewa sneaked back into her bedroom, closed the door and sank onto the floor with her back against the door. She placed her head on her arched knees as she sobbed. She had prayed. She had hoped beyond hope that no one would ever know the evil she had done, especially not Omolara, her one and only child, but it was all over now. Tears flowed down her cheeks and soaked the front of her disguise blouse. Why did she have to always live like this? Always bearing one guilt or the other? Anger overtook her senses and she started clawing and tearing the flimsy cloth she had on. After tearing and clawing for several minutes, she finally calmed down. The clothes on her looked more like rags now, making her look almost as miserable as she felt. How would she explain to Lara? How would she make her believe her reasons? Most importantly, how would she make her daughter forgive her for what she had done to her?

Sewa raised her head and let it rest against the door. Tunji was to blame for all these. He was to blame for the monster she had become. She had been living a lie. Because of fortune and selfish interests, she had disregarded her foundation.

The pain in her heart couldn’t be quantified. She wanted a bit of complete happiness in her life, but no, she had never been completely happy and Tunji Banks was the reason for this. Her hatred for her husband grew as she sobbed. The pain and hurt in Lara’s eyes had almost choked her to death. She had known that Lara would not believe her and she got just that when she had told her that she did it for her father. How would Lara believe her when she had always fed her with the lies that she had no relatives from her mother’s side?

Lara groaned bitterly as she shook her head. “Oh, my life is miserable”

The door of her bathroom suddenly jerked open and she jumped to her feet as Tunji appeared before her. Her heart was beating wildly as she faced her husband. Tunji was looking at her with a completely unreadable expression on his face. She was sure of one thing; today was totally not her lucky day. In fact, it was fast turning into a nightmare. “I… I didn’t know you were… back” she stammered, as her mind went into overdrive.

Tunji stalked towards his wife slowly like a daunting predator, enjoying the spectacle of his squirming form. “And how would you know that dear wife?” he asked with a bitter smile on his tight lips. “You seem to have been…” his eyes ran over his Sewa’s form slowly before returning to her face, “… preoccupied with other escapades” he finished.

Sewa shifted away from the door, towards the bed, fighting for a show of normalcy. “I… I don’t know what you are talking about Tunji” she said, straightening the edge of her perfectly straightened mattress sheets nervously. “What were you doing in my bathroom?”

“Confirming what my spies told me”

“What?”

Tunji’s face turned darker and became filled with rage. “I was informed that you have been sneaking in and out of the house, going to God knows where” he said, walking towards Sewa. “Where were you?”

Sewa tensed and lowered herself onto the bed, removing her jewelries as calmly as she could manage. “I went for a walk. This house was becoming suffocating, is there anything wrong with that?”

Tunji grabbed her shoulders forcefully, jerking her like a ragged doll on an auction. “Don’t you dare lie to me woman” he boomed. “Did you think you could cheat on me and go scot free? I am not as foolish as you are woman.”

Sewa almost sighed out in relief. It was better for him to think she was cheating on him, because if he got wind of what she had actually done, she was as good as dead. “What nonsense are you talking about Tunji? You are hurting me” she whined as Tunji’s fingers dug into her skin.

“I am not hurting you yet. If I find out that my suspicions are true… that you are seeing a man…” his face brought on a wicked laughter that ended just as soon as it began. “You know me Sewa, I would make your life hell on earth”

Sewa swallowed hard as she stared fearfully back at her husband. “You are assuming things Tunji”

“Time would tell. Remember, I am watching you” he pushed her out of his hands, causing her to reel back slightly as he stalked away. “Remove those rags you have on” he ordered. “It makes you look uglier than you already are. With that he was out of the door, slamming the door against its hinges with a resounding thunder.

*****
*****

Lara sat on the bed in Jack’s guest room, looking totally defeated. The event of the past hour continued to replay in her senses. Who would believe that it was even possible? How could her own mother have had someone kidnap her? It seemed so senseless. She is the wife of a governor, for heaven’s sake. Surely she had enough money at her disposal, and even if she didn’t, Lara knew undoubtedly that her father was worth so much. Then, why on earth would she have her daughter kidnapped in order to get money from her own husband?

Lara replayed the trauma of her kidnap in her mind, wondering why her own mother would have her go through something as painful as that. Her mother had always been so loving, Lara could talk to her as freely as possible. That was why she hadn’t really felt the impact of growing up without a sibling; her mother had always been there, engaging her in small talks, every now and then. Now, the woman who posed as her mother was a different being entirely. Lara shook her head as she stood up and grabbed the helm of her gown to whisk it above her head. She really needed a cold bath; who knows, maybe after a good sleep, everything would make sense.

Before Lara could get the cloth halfway up, a knock interrupted her movement, making her drop the gown instantly. After smoothening it to cover the rest of her thigh, she sat down and murmured, “Come in”

The door creaked open and Jack walked in. Lara swallowed as he walked fully into the room. The suit he had on when he picked her up was no longer on him; his entire outfit had been altered for one which was too casual. He had on a white masculine singlet and a baggy short was just above his knees. It was easy to see the rippling muscles on his chest, despite the singlet he had on. His strong arms were laid bare before her seeking eyes and she marveled at the strength they would possess. Lara raised her eyes to his, embarrassed that she had been staring, but Jack didn’t seem to notice. He looked calm and fresh. Then she noticed his hair, it was moist, looking softer than usual. He must have taken a shower, she thought absently.

“Bewaji told me you didn’t want anything to eat” Jack said quietly, watching Lara carefully.

Lara looked away, oddly staring at the mattress with keen interest. “I am not hungry”

Jack took two steps closer, then stopped. “You know you could tell me what the problem is; I might be able to help” he said softly.

Lara shook her head as she raised her eyes to his. “No one can help me, especially not you” she smiled bitterly. “You are part of the problem”

Jack swallowed, looking a bit sober as he sat down at the edge of the bed. For some seconds, he was silent, and then he faced her. “I know we got off on the wrong foot… I am sorry” he began, stunning Lara into a shocked silence. “It was not my intention to cause you much distress, I just… I am not really good at wooing women, so I went about things the wrong way”

Lara nodded, trying to understand him. He was a pretty unpredictable guy and she found this intriguing. Earlier when he had picked her up, he had seemed angry throughout the drive and she had thought she was the reason for that, now; he was sitting beside her on the bed, apologizing for contributing to her miserable life. “It is fine.” She finally said. “I have no problem with you and I think you can be a really nice friend, as long as you tell my father that you don’t want to marry me anymore”

Jack frowned. “But I do want to marry you”

“No, you want to marry my money and my social status, not me. You are interested in becoming the in-law of a governor, and it is fine, I mean, everyone has one ambition or the other” she gestured wildly with her arms. “But, your ambition is making my life a living hell, okay? I have been at loggerheads with my father ever since I refused to accept the proposal”

Lara smiled. “Well you are wrong” Jack answered. “I am not interested in your social status and definitely not in your money. I probably have more money than your father does” he said matter-of-factly, looking her straight in the eye.

“Oh Yeah?” Lara was becoming angry. When Jack started this whole ‘I am sorry’ thing, she had thought she would be able to get the marriage issue out of her life for good, but the man seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. “And what business is it that you do” she asked sarcastically.

“I am into Shipping. Clearing and forwarding”

Lara laughed heartily. “Just admit it, you are a fraud!” she said with a stamp. “Clearing and forwarding… is that not the profession cocaine carriers and yahoo guys claim to be involved in?”

Jack smiled. “Yes. But that does not stop it from being a legitimate business for those who are really into it” he answered.

“Okay. Since you are neither interested in my money or status, what do you want from me?”

“I want you”

Lara bursted into laughter, while Jack just stared at her with a straight face. “Good try Mr. Andrews, but I am not naïve enough to believe that. You met me one day and sought my hand from my father the next day; do you expect me to believe ‘Love at first sight’ was responsible for this?” She knew she was testing his patience with her consistent sarcasms but weirdly, he remained calm.

“I have known you for some time, long before we met that morning” he said and Lara rolled her eyes. “You frequent Mackins Bar”

Lara frowned. “You have been following me?”

Jack smiled. “No. I happen to go there from time to time.”

“I never saw you there”

“You wouldn’t.” he said, not giving any explanation. “You often sat on a stool at the bar, looking really sad and angry. Many times, some men would arrive to take you home, and there I noticed you might be having some problems with your father. I took a picture of you, the last time I saw you there.” He took out his phone, made a ‘taps’ and ‘scrolls’ on the screen and gave the phone to a stunned Lara.

“I never knew who you were the Governor’s daughter until I followed you that day”

Lara’s eyes snapped. “You were the one following me that night?”

“Yes. I wanted to know who you were. It was when I followed you that I discovered who you were. When I went with my friend’s sister to the boutique and saw you, I noticed another side of you. It was then I knew you could laugh, you were free with your friends.” Lara was stunned at everything she was hearing. So the girl she had seen with him at the boutique wasn’t his girlfriend…

“All I want is to make you happy. That is all I want. I decided to meet your father first because I didn’t want you to have the same issues with him. I can make you very happy, only if you give me a chance”

Lara stare at him quietly. She was terribly confused.

“Go to sleep now. We would talk tomorrow” he said and before could stop him, he leaned closer and gave her a soft kiss on her cheek. He smiled softly, stood up and left the room, leaving Lara more confused and frustrated than she was when she arrived.

Thoughts are Real!

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