“You did what?”
Lara winced, moving the phone away from such close proximity to her eardrums. With a frustrated sigh, she put the phone against her ear again to continue listening to Teresa’s ranting. “Exactly what you heard”
“You totally blew our plan?” Now Teresa was furious! Well, that was expected.
Lara turned on her side on the bed, adjusting the pillow beneath her head. “I only told him that I wanted his love, that’s all. Besides, I have no regrets”
“Of course you don’t” she yelled back. “Oh God! What did I do to deserve such brainless friends?”
“What did I do to deserve your consistent yelling?” she returned.
“If you don’t know, then you are even more brainless than I thought” Lara sighed. “What changed? For more than two days, we have been polishing our plans. I hammered on discretion more times than I can remember and you were in step with me all the way, only for you to see Jack today and lose your head? What actually happened?”
Lara stared at the white ceiling above. She could not tell Teresa! Jack was not the reason for her sudden change but her mother was. She hadn’t mentioned a thing about the kidnapping to Teresa and Bola and she knew she wouldn’t be able to tell them. She would not have her friends talk ill about her mother, but even as she thought about it, she knew they would never do that. Still, she couldn’t tell them. So what excuse would she give for suddenly changing their plans? She remembered Jack’s dark eyes in the garden and swallowed. She had no cause to regret what she had requested of him. If he was not ready to give her love, there was no reason why she should accept him. She would never have him think she was with him for personal gains… never!
“Of course you have no answer” Teresa said and hissed when Lara gave no response. “For God’s sake Lara, we were supposed to make him fall in love with you, not ask him to” Teresa’s frustration was eminent.
“You cannot make someone fall in love with you; again, I refer to your relationship with Marvin”
“Don’t you dare! So, you are just realizing that now? After two days of endless planning?”
Lara sighed. Thoughts of her mother reminded her of the fact that her mother still hadn’t called her. She should be there with her mother, not lying around, thinking about marriage to a stranger. “I have to go Terry”
“Please do, you have completely kissed my appetite this evening. Try not to do any other stupid thing, if you can; I would think of a way to salvage this already messy plan”
Lara rolled her eyes. “I wonder why I even called you”
Lara hung up and sighed. Teresa’s anger was justified but that would not make her regret her actions. She pushed herself out of bed and hastened towards the door. Absently, she used her fingers to smooth the edges of her blouse before exiting the room. The small walk to her mother’s bedroom was spent on the phone, as she dialed her mother’s number. It rang endlessly without an answer. When she got to her mother’s bedroom door, she raised her hand and knocked softly. “Mum” she called.
No response came. Lara sighed and knocked again. “Muuum…” she drawled. “I told you I’ll come to disturb you if I don’t see your call” she said through the closed door. She got no response. Lara swallowed. She was becoming increasingly worried. Something was wrong with her mum! Something went far beyond what she had been told and she still could not put her finger on it.
She knocked again. “Mum, why don’t we take a walk? The evening is still young” she coaxed even though her mum still hadn’t answered. It was not a strange practice for her to be talking to her mother through the closed door. Her mother always did likewise whenever Lara was upset and locked herself up in her room. Maybe this was a good time to return the favour. “Muuumm… please open up” she knocked again. Her knuckles were beginning to ache and her worry was beginning to heighten. “Mum” she called louder, increasing the force of her hand. With her other hand, she dialed her mother’s number. Her mother wasn’t a deep sleeper, even if she was asleep; she would be awake by now. Fear was beginning to creep in. she banged on the door with all her might. “Muuuum” she yelled.
She heard footsteps and turned, only to see the maid – Nora. Her face was askew as she looked in Lara’s direction. “Is everything alright Miss Banks?”
Lara shook her head and she banged on the door. “My mother is not answering” she turned to her. “Did she leave her room? Please tell me she did”
Nora frowned. “No ma’am, she didn’t. Or maybe she did and I did not notice”
Lara banged on the door with more vigor. What if her mother had been kidnapped? Lara wiped sweat of perspiration off her forehead. “Get the bodyguards” she ordered over her shoulder and Nora took off immediately. “Mum” she yelled as she banged on the door noisily. She knew her mother. If she wasn’t in the room, the door wouldn’t be locked. The fact that it was locked was enough proof that she was in there; if she hadn’t been kidnapped yet. Maybe the scarred man did not get enough money from the exchange and decided to kidnap her instead. She shook her head. Oh no! She couldn’t be thinking evil thoughts now… “Muuuum” she turned the door’s knob over and over again but it did not give in.
She didn’t bother turning when she heard the quick approaching steps. She stepped out of the way immediately they got close enough. “Break this door open” she told them nervously, as she tapped rhythmically on her phone. It only took one kick from one bodyguard to send the door flying open. Lara’s feet became fear-paralyzed. Did she really want to see what was behind that door? Her heart was beating so fast, she was sure her blood pressure was way above the limit. The bodyguards walked in almost immediately but it took a gentle tap from Nora to get her legs walking. She walked into the room and the sight before her froze her in time.
“Mum” she gasped out. Her phone slipped out of her hand as she ran to the bed. Sewa lay on her back with her eyes closed as though she was sleeping; Lara had never seen anyone paler. It felt like one of those horror movies she often watched with Teresa. “Mum” she called shakily as she raised shivering fingers to touch her mother. Her heart was pounding wildly, threatening to break through the confinement of her chest. Tears rolled down her eyes as she touched her mother’s shoulder. “Mum” she did not answer. “Muuum” she yelled as she held her mother’s shoulders and shook her.
“Don’t just stand there” she turned and yelled at the bodyguards with chapped voice. “We need to get her to a hospital fast. Carry her” she commanded. Too much fear stopped her from checking her mother’s pulse or even placing her head against her heart. “Oh God!” this was becoming too much for her. She watched as the bodyguards rushed towards Sewa’s body and one of them lifted her lifeless form into his arms. Her hands dangled, increasing Lara’s fears. No! Her mother couldn’t leave her now! She rushed after the bodyguard carrying her mother and held onto her mother’s flying hand. “Mum” she called pensively…
Jack put the cup of wine in his hand against his lips and drank the content deeply as he paced his bedroom. He should be celebrating now! He should be happy that Lara had accepted his proposal, gifting him with a measured level of her trust but no! He couldn’t be rejoicing now because there was nothing to rejoice over. Lara had attached the ‘love’ condition to it. And even though it did not affect his plans in the least, it had given him a pause. For the first time ever, it had occurred to him that he was probably doing something wrong. Maybe he was just as terrible as the man he was trying to get his revenge on. Maybe he was just as cold-hearted and inconsiderate as the governor himself. He shook his head. No! He was giving his mother the vengeance she deserved. A parent for a child! That was what he had promised his mother even though he had been making the promise to her lifeless body. The governor had taken away what he loved the most and in response, he would take away what he loved the most. That had been the plan all along. That was why he had hit on the governor’s daughter. But now, recent events were making him have second thoughts…
Lara had asked for love! All along, he had the feeling that the governor loved his daughter and wanted the best for her despite the fact that all the things he was doing was impacting negatively on Lara. But then, maybe as always, the man actually preferred money to his own daughter. When he had paid the ransom for her release, he had felt that the governor valued his daughter more than money, but now, he was beginning to think otherwise.
Jack sighed. He knew he was just looking for excuses in his head to exclude Lara from his revenge plans. She looked so young! So beautiful and innocent; it would be terrible to destroy her life the way he wanted to, in order to pay back Tunji Banks. And if he carried on with this, would he be able to do it? Would he be able to ruin Lara that way? He was heartless, he knew, but that time in the garden, as Lara gazed up at him with those dreamy and innocent eyes, something had clicked.
Jack walked to the only picture frame in his room and stared at the face of his mother. This was the only picture he had of her; the only memory he could summon. He had been so young when she had left him and many times, he often forgot what she looked like. This picture had always kept him on track; kept him focused on his mission. That lovely face had been ejected from life forcefully and brutally, in such a humiliating fashion. He closed his eyes as memories flashed. No! He had to give his mother the vengeance she deserved, only then would his soul know peace.
Bola and Teresa rushed into the secluded part of the hospital where Lara was seated. Journalists were all over the waiting room, trying to get news to make headlines. Only God knew how they got to know that something was amiss. Lara, who had been pacing rushed into the open arms of Bola, crying profusely. They were the only ones she could rely on now! Her father was nowhere to be found. He was never there when he was needed. It was so painful that her mother was married to someone like him. Pain ate at her insides as she thought of her mother! “I am a terrible daughter” she sobbed into Bola’s shoulder as Teresa rubbed her back with compassion.
“Now, don’t say that nonsense” Bola scolded softly.
Teresa peeled Lara from Bola’s hands and hugged her tight. “We are here for you babe” she whispered. Their earlier argument was forgotten as Teresa focused on consoling Lara. Finally, Lara stood on her own, with Bola wiping at her teary face.
“What actually happened?” Bola asked.
“I don’t know” Lara raised her hands in the air, frustrated. “I knocked on her door endlessly but got no response, when I asked someone to break the door open, we found her lifeless on the bed” she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. She looked like a frightened little kitten, her red eyes running wild. “I am really scared… You don’t think she is –”
“Of course not, don’t even say it” Teresa cut in. she squeezed Lara’s shoulder and pulled her in for a quick hug. “I am sure she would be fine, don’t worry”
“Yes, I agree with Teresa, maybe she just had a relapse or something. She would be walking out in no time” Bola sounded so sure that Lara was tempted to believe her.
“Absolutely” Teresa and Bola chorused.
A brief smile crept up Lara’s face but it was gone in no time. Her friends were the best. They were doing all they could to lessen her worry and she was so grateful, but she knew them enough to know they didn’t mean what they were saying. She stared anxiously at the door, waiting for the doctor to emerge and hopefully give her some good news, but then, the waiting was better because she was no longer alone.
Teresa stepped into the toilet; her worry was at its peak. He loved Lara’s mother almost as much as she loved her own mother and she hoped nothing bad happened to her, but as she stood there, she dialed a number. Weirdly, her overactive brain had presented an idea when she stood with Lara. She ought to be in a sober mood but this was a very good opportunity and being the swine that she was, she couldn’t let it slide.
She placed her phone against her ear and waited patiently. Immediately, it was answered, she smiled. “Hello Jack” she said into the mouthpiece and waited for Jack’s response. “This is Teresa, Lara’s friend…” she paused for his response before continuing. “Actually, Lara is in a very bad state now. Her mother was rushed lifeless into the hospital and Lara has been all over the place ever since, I was hoping you could help console her maybe… I just don’t want my friend to die of worry before we get news about her mother” she finished and smiled when she got Jack’s anxious response. She hurriedly gave Jack the hospital details and hung up. She took a deep cleansing breath and exited the toilet to join her friends, still praying that the doctor would have good news for them.
Thoughts are Real!
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