Tunji Banks banged on the door of his wife’s bedroom with his clenched fist. “Open this door Sewa” he yelled as he banged on the door. He knew she was in there. The guards around were standing like statues, like they were trained to do and they were not his concern now. He banged the door again. “You don’t open this door woman, I would ask these men to break it open” he warned.

“Please let me be Tunji, I want to be alone” Sewa said behind the door.

“This is my house woman” he barked in return, “And while you are under my roof, I would see you whenever I feel like. Open this door this minute” he ordered, hitting his hand on the door for emphasis. He was boiling with anger. Earlier, he couldn’t wait to be alone with her in order to properly strangulate her. If only he could give her the beating she deserved without raising eyebrows and putting his upcoming re-election at risk…

The door creaked open slightly and Tunji kicked the door back forcefully, causing it to slam against the opposite wall noisily. Sewa squeaked and ran backwards fearfully, moving closer to the window.

Tunji’s face was like that of a hungry lion, ready to devour. He pushed the door back and it closed with a bang which echoed round the room. “You” he snarled. “You tricked me” he stalked towards her slowly.

Sewa shivered and took backwards steps. “I… I already said I am sorry” she stammered.

“Sorry?” he snarled. Sewa gasped aloud as he hit the flower vase on the table with the back of his hand. It hit the adjacent wall and scattered all over in all small shapes and sizes. “Sorry?” he roared again, his eyes burning bright like the flames of hell. “You took my hard earned money and think sorry can settle it?”

Sewa gasped aloud as he grabbed her upper hand, the same throbbing place he had grabbed earlier in his office. She was sure his fingerprints were there already, imprinted on her skin to make her remember this day for as long as she lived; if she lived beyond today. “You are not sorry yet! By the time I am done with you, you would be eternally sorry that you toyed with me”

Sewa turned pale. “Please Tunji, don’t do this”

He smiled devilishly. “I warned you, didn’t I?” he raised his brow. “I warned you of the consequences of coming against me”

Sewa went on her knees, with tears rolling down her cheeks. “Please Tunji, I am begging you” she sobbed. “Don’t do this to me… I would do anything you want but please don’t… don’t do this…”

Tunji looked stupefied. “You are on your knees” he murmured and bursted out in laughter. “Oh, this sure is a sight we don’t see every day, isn’t it?”

Sewa swallowed. “Please Tunji” she pleaded.

“Shut up” Tunji snapped. “The more I see you, the more I wish I could kill you with my own two hands” he drawled, his face bringing on a frightening glare. “But… what’s the fun in that, right?” he smiled cynically. “The video would go live tomorrow”

“Nooo… please Tunji” Sewa pleaded and tears flooded her eyes and rolled down ceaselessly.

“It would be made public for the world to see just how useless you are”

“No… you can’t do this Tunji. This affects you too, remember” she tried. “The video would make a ridicule of you too”

Tunji laughed. “Do you think I haven’t thought of that?” he hissed. “I am not as dumb as you are Sewa; immediately the video goes live, get ready to sign our divorce papers. I would not remain married to a dog. And, don’t worry, it would not affect my campaign, in fact, it would aid it”

“Please nooo” Sewa cried.

Tunji Banks leaned forward to bring his face close to his wife. “This would teach you never to dare Tunji Banks”. With that, he walked away amidst Sewa’s pleading cries. Sewa lay on the bare tiles in her room, sobbing profusely as Tunji left the room and slammed the door shut.

Lara made for her mother’s room after leaving Jack. She was convinced that she was doing the right thing where Jack was concerned. Although she knew her friends would crucify her for completely murdering their plans, she felt she had done the right thing. She would not have Jack believe she was an opportunist who went about accepting things, based only on personal gains. That was the way her father saw her mother, never would he allow her future husband see her in the same light. She remembered that look on Jack’s again as she walked on… he had looked ready to kiss her out there in the garden as he placed the watch around her wrist. Lara rubbed her palm over her arm as Goosebumps crept up her skin. What she had felt there and then wasn’t something she could describe. So unlike her, she had also wanted him to kiss her. She shook her head. Though a romantic at heart, she had never been a fan of ‘public displays’. She preferred kisses and hugs that came safely behind closed doors, but out there in the garden, she had been a totally different person. He had wanted to kiss her – or so she thought – and she had wanted him to; how weird can that be. Then, she had done something really similar to ‘seduction’. That was Teresa’s field for God’s sake, she mused, surprised at herself. But then, she didn’t regret it because it revealed a big secret about Jack.

What could he have against love? She wondered, remembering that cold look in his eyes immediately she had mentioned that word. She remembered the other look again – the one that flashed so furiously when her mother had assumed him to be someone else. She was still trying to piece together that puzzle. Despite Jack’s claims and cover-ups, Lara felt within her that he was not being completely sincere. True, people get attached to their dogs, but could the mention of his late dog’s name cause his veins to pop out and light up his eyes with fire? Lara sighed. She wondered if she would ever understand the man, but she was definitely interested in understanding him. He intrigued her the way no other man ever has. He was not predictable like the other men she had come across and this made him more intriguing. What if he said he couldn’t love anyone and refused her offer? How would she stomach that? Maybe she should have listened to Teresa after all; she probably should have applied discretion. But have him think she was marrying him only because of what he could offer? She shook her head. She would never have anyone think about her in such a demeaning fashion.

Lara finally got to her mother’s bedroom door; she pushed all thoughts of Jack behind her as she raised her hand and knocked softly. Her mother needed her now and it was her duty to be there for her. “Mum” she whispered gently. No response came. She tapped again, louder this time. “Mum?” she called, still no response came. She tried the knob, it was locked. Her mother had to be in there, maybe sleeping? “Mum, please open up” she said louder as she knocked.

“Go away Lara” her mother’s voice returned.

She sighed, a bit relieved that she was at least hearing her mother’s voice. But the voice was teary and chapped, like she had been crying for an awfully long time. “Please mum” she pleaded. “I was not there for you all these years… don’t deny me now mum” her heart ached for her mother. How could she have carried so many burdens all these years?

“I just want to be alone Lara, please”

Lara swallowed. “Muuum… c’mon” she drawled.

“Please Lara”

Lara sighed, leaning against the door. “Okay mum. I am here for you mum, please call if you need me…” Sewa did not say anything in response. “I would come looking for you if I don’t see your call” Still Sewa did not say anything in response. Lara inhaled deeply and pushed herself away from the door. After one last lingering look at the door, she walked away from it. She needed her phone. She had been without it for days. She walked towards her room but before getting there, a maid walked towards her.

She inclined her head respectfully. “Miss Banks, the governor seeks your presence in five minutes”

Lara shook her head. Haven’t she had enough of her father in one day? “Where is he?”

“He is still receiving his massage, but he asked you to wait for him in the private parlor”

Lara nodded. “Thanks Nora” she smiled at the young lady, who smiled back and walked away. Lara finished the remaining distance to her room and pushed open the door. That fear was still there – the fear that someone would suddenly grab her from behind. The knowledge that her mother was behind it should have eradicated the fear, but maybe, it would go overtime; or maybe what she needed was a change of environment. She released a shaky breath and walked into her bedroom, picked up her phone from the bedside table and scrolled through her missed calls and messages before making for the private parlor. She wondered what her father wanted this time, but she could guess.

She sat down on a couch in the parlor, waiting for her father as she went through her messages with more seriousness. You can trust her father to intentionally keep you waiting, just to prove a point. After sitting aimlessly for more than 20 minutes, the door finally opened and her father walked in, talking on the phone. Lara sighed heavily, tapping her feet repeatedly on the floor. The governor was on the phone for another ten minutes, calling different people, issuing out endless instructions and generally behaving as though she did not exist. When he ended yet another call, only to start dialing another, Lara stood up. “I see that what you called me for is not important dad” she muttered.

For some seconds, Mr. Banks behaved as though she hadn’t spoken at all, then finally; he raised his eyes to her, glaring. “Sit down” he ordered sternly.

Lara gritted her teeth out of frustration and sat down. Her father placed the phone against his ear, probably just to get her angrier, and made another call. Finally, he dropped the phone and leaned against the backrest of the couch, spreading his legs before him. “Have you accepted him yet?”

This only got Lara angrier. “Accepted who?” she pushed and got what she wanted because her father’s nose flared.

“Don’t play coy with me young woman; have you accepted Jack’s proposal?”

Lara clenched her fists beside her, willing herself to exercise self-control. She would not give him the satisfaction of knowing he had gotten what he wanted. “What do you stand to gain from this?”

“How dare you answer my question with another question?”

“And how dare you make my mother’s life miserable for more than 25 years?” she was boiling with anger now.

Tunji Banks stared at her with undiluted anger. “I see you have lost all sense of respect”

“Respect is reciprocal dad; from day one, you have never given me a cause to respect you” she jumped to her feet. “How can you separate mum from her family”

“Issues between my wife and I has nothing to do with you” he returned. “Sit down now” he boomed.

Lara stared on angrily before finally sitting down. Her father was almost erupting but she didn’t care, she was his child after all, she was just as explosive as he.

Silence reigned for some seconds, and then Tunji asked the same question again. “Have you accepted his proposal?”

“Whether or not I have is none of your business dad, it is my life not yours and I can choose to do whatever I like”

“Well, if you know what’s good for you and your mother, you’d accept him”

Lara sighed. “Don’t you ever get tired of threatening me dad? I don’t give in to blackmail”

He smiled. “But you would give in to this one”

What her father didn’t know was that she had already accepted Jack, so maybe she had already given in to his blackmail in a way, but Lara could see something vividly. Something big was at stake where her marriage to Jack was concerned. “What do you stand to gain from this?”

Tunji Banks leaned forward. “I paid three hundred million Naira to the kidnappers just to set you free, not knowing that my own wife was behind the entire deed. I spent the money meant for my election to ransom you and now, I have nothing. Jack is going to fund my re-election; all you have to do is marry him. If you fail to comply, your mother and her wretched family would have to refund that money down to the last kobo, besides, her father is better off dead anyways; what is the man living for when he is as penniless as a church mouse?”

Lara stared stupefied at her father. Her brain had gone numb. Initially, she used to think her father actually loved her even though they never got along, but looking at him from a different light, she realized that he was the coldest and meanest soul she had ever met. He cared about none other than himself. How could he be so mean and heartless? Now, she understood what Jack had told her that night. He had eliminated the only obstacle in his way – her father! And how else could you get on Tunji Banks’ good side if not through financial means? He had apparently sold her out! How terrible can a father be? He was a terrible son-in-law, terrible husband and also a devastating father. Lara shook her head. She didn’t know the man before her and no matter what skeletons Jack had hidden in his closet, Lara knew that she would rather answer his surname than continue to answer the name of her father.

She pushed herself out of her seat. What response can you give to that? She blinked back tears of hurt. How could she have been awarded such a heartless man as a father? Without summoning any response, she turned and walked out of the room.

Jack walked into the bar house, with a face cap shielding his face. He walked towards the shadowed edge, sighting Sword immediately he got closer. Wordlessly, he pulled the chair backing the people and sat, facing Sword. He pushed the cap back a bit in order to see Sword more clearly.

“It has been a while sir” Sword said quietly.

Jack nodded. “I have been busy”

Sword’s mouth turned up in something akin to a smile but his damaged face gave no room for any softening effect. “Why did you summon me?”

Jack’s penetrating eyes settled on Sword. “I need information on the governor’s wife”

Sword frowned, making his face turn more askew. “I thought we were done with that mission”

“You have done your part but something came up. The woman seems connected with… my past. I need to know a few things about her” Jack watched Sword closely.

Sword shifted. “What exactly should I be looking for?”

Jack stared at Sword’s half-full glass of beer. “Connections with Pascal”

Sword’s frown deepened. “She knows your father?” Jack’s eyes flashed. “She knows Pascal?” he quickly corrected.

Jack blinked and looked away. “She does. What I want to know is how?”

Sword looked confused with the frown still on his face. Remembering something he cleared his throat slightly. “I think there is something you should know”

Jack looked at him sharply. “What?”

He hesitated, looking away. “Lara saw me with her mum three days ago”

Jack looked on silently.

“I had to… make the final report of the transferred money but Lara tailed her mother there. She now knows that her mother is behind the kidnap”

Jack stared at Sword as things became clearer. That was probably the reason why she had been crying profusely when he picked her up. He swallowed. It was just a shame that she was caught in the crossfire. He shook his head. She was still a tangled puzzle in his head; he had no idea how to piece it together anymore. The garden encounter flashed through his head and he shook it away. “I see…” he finally said. “That explains everything”

Sword looked at him. “You promised not to involve her” he reminded Jack.

Jack frowned at Sword. Something about Sword was different, he just couldn’t place it. “What I do and who I involve has nothing to do with you” Jack stood up. “I’ll be waiting for your info” with that, he lowered his cap and walked out of the bar.

Sewa wiped her tears for the umpteenth time. She had cried all day and now that it was dark, she still could not stop herself from crying. She knew Tunji very well! He would carry out his threat. He would upload the video!

She exhaled shakily. How would she be able to stand the shame? How would she be able to raise her head when the whole world watched the video? The shame would be the death of her. She had been naïve and stupid! If she had been wise enough, she would never have done it, she would never have gotten in bed with two men. But she did. Unknowing to her, the whole episode was taped by the same man who had forced her into the act. Who would believe that her own husband persuaded her to do it? Tunji had forcefully asked her to get in bed with his two friends and she, in a bid to please her husband had done it. If only she had known that he was recording the whole process… if only she had known that all he wanted was something to use to blackmail her whenever he deemed fit, she would never have done it. But she had! He had called her a slut for agreeing to do it in the first place, and maybe she was. He had used the video as a blackmailing tool every time he wanted to get her to do something.

How would she stand before her own daughter when she became the object of pornographic fantasy? She sobbed. No! She would never wait to see the release of that video. She couldn’t… Sewa quickened her steps towards her drawer and pulled out a small cup containing some drugs. She opened it with a pop and poured the entire content in her open palm. Tears dripped from her eyes, running down her neck. She hoped Lara would forgive her for being such a terrible mother, but she couldn’t see condemnation in her daughter’s eyes again. The look Lara gave her when she found out about the kidnap had killed her in half; she did not want to imagine the condemnation she would receive when the video goes live. Grabbing the glass of water beside her bed, Sewa stared at the drugs for several seconds, crying profusely. Taking a deep breath, she poured it all in her mouth and flushed it down with the cup of water.


Thoughts are Real!
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