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Episode 16

Sewa woke up with swollen eyes. She had spent the night turning restlessly on the bed, thinking about the horrid situation she had landed herself in. She went into her bathroom and washed her face. Her head was pounding consistently. She placed her fingers against her temples, trying to massage the ache out, but that simple therapy didn’t do anything to relieve her of the throb. Sewa pushed her leg into her slippers and walked out of her bedroom. She hoped she would be able to get Lara to listen to her; what she had done was inexcusable but maybe, just maybe, she might be able to make Lara forgive her.

She got to Lara’s door and knocked lightly. It was already daybreak. She knocked again but no response came. Taking a deep breath, she turned the knob of the door and it opened. Lara’s bed was empty. It did not look as though she had even spent the night in her room. Her phone was on the bed and her night robe was perfectly intact on its hanger. The only time Sewa had seen this scenario was when Lara had been kidnapped, but that time, she had known where she was. Now, Sewa had a cause to panic. She should have checked on Lara last night but she had been too frightened to do so. Where could Lara be? She obviously didn’t come back home last night. What if something had happened to her? Sewa gasped and put her slim fingers against her throat. No! Lara had to be fine.

Sewa grabbed Lara’s phone and dialed Teresa’s number. She sat down heavily on the bed as she waited.

“”Hey babes” Teresa drawled from the other side, immediately she picked up.

“Hello Teresa, it is Lara’s mum” Sewa said instantly, coming to her feet.

“Oh, good morning ma” Teresa’s voice held a hint of curiosity.

“Actually, I wanted to find out if Lara is with you or Bola”

There was a bit of silence on the other end. “No ma, Lara is not here. I spoke with Bola late last night and she never mentioned a thing like that. What is going on ma? Dear God, hope she hasn’t been kidnapped again” Teresa ranted.

Sewa winced. If only Teresa knew that she was behind that kidnap! “God forbid” Sewa said. “We only had a little… misunderstanding and she left angrily. I am worried because she didn’t pass the night here” Sewa swallowed and took a deep breath. “Okay, I have to go Teresa, call me if she shows up at your place.”

“I will ma”

Sewa ended the call and dropped the phone on the bed as she planted her hands on her hips worriedly.

“What misunderstanding did you have with Lara?”

Sewa spun around. Tunji stood at the entrance, staring at her with a puzzled look on his face. “I see you are getting used to sneaking up on me”

Tunji entered the room, still in his night robe. “That does not answer my question. Where is Lara and what misunderstanding did you both have?”

Sewa blinked and turned away. “It is none of your concern”

“So, why do I feel like it is?”

Sewa turned to him speedily. “Maybe because you think everything is your concern. The world does not revolve around you Tunji, deal with it”

Tunji chuckled as he walked towards her. “But your world, dear wife, revolves only around me” he murmured. “Have you forgotten? I am the only person you have in your little world”

Sewa raised her chin in the air. “Everyone might think so, but both of us know it is not true. I am not an orphan, I have a family somewhere and they truly care about me”

Tunji laughed loudly. “Oh, c’mon Sewa” he raised his hand to brush against her cheek but she pushed it away. “You chose me over them, remember? Your wretched family members couldn’t care less about what happens to you”

“Mind what you say about my family”

“Don’t you interrupt me when I speak” Tunji barked, silencing Sewa. “Always remember this Sewa, you are not to have anything to do with that miserably wretched family of yours, do you understand?”

“And what makes you think I have anything to do with them? You completely severed the relationship I have with them, remember?”

Tunji Banks moved a few steps away from his wife before turning to look at her again. “You forget who I am so easily, wife. I have men reporting to me, and I have been informed that you have been making some findings about your family.” Sewa swallowed  as Tunji’s eyes penetrated. “Don’t try me Sewa” he warned. “Election is drawing near; I would not have the world know that I picked my wife from such a disdainfully low family. I would not be associated with your trashy family, do you understand?”

Tears brimmed Sewa’s eyes as Tunji rained foul words at her family.

“They should even be ecstatic that someone in their lineage is in a place of wealth.” He turned to the door but turned his head to her with a threatening glare. “I am watching your every move Sewa, be warned. Find Lara” he ordered as he started walking away. “She needs to stop kidding around and get married to Jack Andrews. Convince her or… face the consequences”

*****
*****

Lara woke up with a splitting headache.  She rubbed against her eyes as her fingers moved up to her temples to press the throbbing points at the sides of her head. It had taken a while but she had finally been caught up in a sleep after restless turning and tossing. The episodes in her head were just too much for her brain to process. On one hand was her mother who suddenly turned out to be in league with the same man who had kidnapped her, on the other hand was Jack. She still could not understand what was going on in her life. She felt like the pawn in a crazy chess game. She was left feeling hurt, betrayed and confused. Who could she trust? Her dad who seemed obsessed with giving her out to the highest bidder without a care about what she felt? Her mother who had her kidnapped for selfish interests? Or this stranger who claimed to be interested in making her happy? Nothing was making sense, but weirdly, the only person who seemed to be a bit believable was Jack!

Lara shook her head. She had to admit, he had sounded pretty convincing the previous night. Even her blabbing mouth had been silenced. Maybe because she had truly felt someone following her that night, weeks back. All the scenarios he pointed out in the bar were accurate. Could he truly be interested in her? Was it possible that Jack only wanted her happiness?

Lara sighed again as she raised her fingers to brush her cheeks slightly; the exact spot Jack had kissed her the previous night. He had been so gentle. Totally different from the man she had witnessed in her bedroom when he had barged in without her permission. Jack was a puzzle! She could not quite figure him out. He was all shades of confusing. And that was what intrigued her about him! She couldn’t figure him out. He had told her that all he wanted was her happiness but there was still that feeling within her that something was not right. Maybe because he had seemed so calm last night. He was that way also the day he rescued her on the road. He had been dark and mysterious, with a kind of calm which could bring panic to the heart of an observer. That same calm had repeated itself last night.

‘I have been reading too many novels’ Lara thought as she raised her index fingers to her temples again, with a pained expression on her face. She surely was over-thinking things and probably, this unbearable headache was adding to her paranoia.

*****
*****

Jack walked into the dinning area of the apartment and found Lara seated there with Mrs Balogun fussing over her. They seemed to be getting along pretty well as they talked on like they have known eachother for ages. This mission was proving more difficult than he had planned. He was not a sugar sweet romantic and that is the position he was beginning to assume where Lara was concerned. He should probably speed up this whole revenge process. Until he had his revenge, until he avenged his mother, he would know no peace. The nightmare had plagued him his whole life. He had been so young; too young to experience what he had experienced. But he had experienced it, in fact, he had been forced to experience the horror of what happened to his mother.

How could he be dinning with the daughter of his enemy? Eating on the same table, while pretending to be enjoying it! Jack swallowed hard, gritting his teeth. He fought hard to keep his emotions in check. He was beginning to notice that Lara was exceptionally intelligent, she would pick on his emotional diversities.

Lara looked up and met his gaze as he approached. Jack’s breath caught in his throat as her face broke into a wide blinding smile. “Good morning” she mouthed.

This had to be the most civil thing she had ever said to him and for one second, Jack didn’t know what to respond with. She was in the same cloth she wore the previous night but something was different. Her face did not carry the troubles it did the night before. Somehow, she looked so young and innocent that he almost felt sorry that she was caught up in his revenge plans.

“Good morning”

Mrs Balogun was grinning from ear to ear for reasons only known to her but weirdly, Bewaji held a deep frown on her face. Her mood was still a puzzle to him but as he looked at the direction of her glare, inspiration hit him. Could she have a crush on him? For some seconds, Jack was winded. Oh no! She picked the wrong guy! He isn’t good enough for her, in fact, he isn’t good enough for anyone.

“It is good that you’re here Jack, I made a really delicious meal” Mrs Balogun said, grinning. She went to him and almost pushed him into the chair at the head of the table. Lara was seated just beside him, staring at the food on her plate. Mrs Balogun got to work, filling his plate with more food than he could stomach.

“Thanks for yesterday” Lara said, not looking at him.

Jack grunted in response.

“I think I should be going home soon”, her expression turned sour and he saw that same pained look he saw the previous night before she covered it up with a stubborn determined look. “I can’t run away from my problems”

Jack picked up his fork and dug into his food as his brain went to work. Mrs Balogun hurriedly exited the dinning, dragging a sober Bewaji along to give Jack and Lara a bit of privacy. “You really don’t want to go, do you?”

Lara swallowed as she cut into the plantain in her plate. “I never get what I want”

“But it doesn’t have to be that way. You are old enough to have a life of your own, you can’t continue to live under the whims of your parents”

Her lips tightened. “You know nothing about my family”

He nodded quietly. “You are right. But I know you are not happy. I meant all I said last night Lara. I…” He hesitated slightly as he looked at his food. None of them had tasted the meal which looked so delicious.

“What is it?” Lara asked curiously.

“I have something to show you” he said, more determined now. “If after seeing it, you still don’t want to have anything to do with me, I promise, I would withdraw my suit and not pester you again”

Lara’s curiosity rose. He seemed really serious and determined.

“Eat your food” he ordered, giving her no room to argue. “We would go the minute you are ready”

Lara instantly started digging her fork into the food. She was like a child waiting to open a Christmas present. He could see the eagerness in her even though she tried to mask it with a look of indifference. He felt uncertain about what he was about to do because he was leaving all his plans hanging on her decision, but he knew he had to do this. To gain her trust, he had to make it her decision. He had to give her what her father hadn’t given her. He only hoped he was striking the right mark.

He watched her fork disappear into her mouth and he swallowed. The earlier this was done, the better for everyone.

*****
*****

Lara was amazed by all she was seeing. She had seen this big plaza but never knew it belonged to someone as young as Jack. Everyone greeted Jack with great respect while some of them gaped at her. She was the daughter of the governor but should that make them gap at her so much. It was not like she was even a known figure. As they walked on, she began to wonder if her status was the real reason why she was being gaped at, but she kept her observation to herself. They got to a particular wing and Jack opened the door, standing back to allow her in. Immediately she got in, her mouth fell open. She stood numbly, staring as Jack entered behind her and closed the door.

Before her was everything she ever wanted. A fully furnished shop. No! This wasn’t a shop, it was waaaay bigger than what she could ever need. Half of the room was glassed, giving the shop a view of the road below. There was a gallery also glasses to be used to showcase designs. Tailoring machines of different kinds were installed strategically in various positions. It was the direct physical representation of what she had always wanted.

“Your father cannot have access to this place. This plaza is fully protected and cannot be touched by anyone except on my orders. This place is all yours. You can be truly happy, life is not meant to be so difficult. Think about it, if you still do not want to have anything to do with me, I promise you, I would never show my face before you again” he said, then turned. “I’ll be in the car” he said and walked out.

Thoughts are Real!

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