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Episode 27

“Okay ladies, I think you are going overboard with this philosophy thing” Teresa said, staring at the two ladies with an incredulous smile on her face. “Lara did not just consent to a marriage proposal with her half-brother!”

“But you just said that my analysis was logical now, didn’t you?” Bola countered.

“Yes, logical; if you wanted to shoot a Hollywood movie that would wow the audience” Teresa ranted. “Saying that Mrs. Banks, as upstanding as she is, had an affair with someone and made the governor believe the child was his…” she laughed slightly. “Give Lara’s mum some credits please…”

Bola nodded, looking guiltily away from Teresa with an apologetic look. “I’m sorry bae” she said to Lara, who had gone thoughtful. “It is totally wrong of me to insinuate such ridiculous nonsense”.

Lara swallowed, ignored them and started walking down the flowery path slowly. It was so painful hearing upsetting things about her mother, especially since her mum wasn’t there to defend herself, but she couldn’t blame her friends. They were trying to help, and as much as she wanted to honour her mother’s memory, Lara knew she would never let sleeping dogs lie until she knew the full details of what happened to her mother. Teresa and Bola murmured to each other as they fell in step with her again. She tried to shut out their voices; her brain was working really fast, she couldn’t pull together what she was thinking with all of them mumbling in her ears.

She couldn’t be related to Jack! No way would that be possible, right? Lara tapped her fingers against each other nervously as her brain went on overdrive. Her mum had said specifically that Pascal – Jack’s father – had been her ‘rock’ during the early years of her marriage. Following that, no way could she be the child of that man, right? But if the man had been her mother’s ‘rock’, what other insinuation could be sensible asides the fact that she had an affair with the man? But… hold on…

Lara stood still as a vague memory popped into her head. When they had been arguing in her father’s home office the morning before her mother died, her father had mentioned something about her mother betraying him again… Could he be referring to an affair? Could the betrayal have anything to do with Jack’s father? This was becoming too clumsy for her to handle.

“Don’t think about it too much” Teresa said, popping into her thoughts. “I am sure we are losing out heads over nothing.”

“Just keep quiet and let me think” Lara snapped, rubbing her fore fingers against her temples. The headache she had this morning was intensifying with each strenuous thought that crossed her mind.

Bola sighed. “I never should have brought this up” she muttered under her breath.

“Okay, listen girls…” Lara said, thinking aloud. “This Pascal who happens to be Jack’s father was my mother’s ‘rock’, as she put it…” this was becoming painful because each time she mentioned ‘my mother’, she was painfully reminded of the fact that she would never see her again. But she had to do this! This was important, not only for her peace of mind; she had a strong feeling that there was something she needed to know. She had to uncover the mysteries behind her mother’s painful past, she needed to know the secrets her mother could not trust her enough to confide in her and hopefully, bring her father to his knees if he had anything to do with it. She swallowed the lump in her throat and continued. “My father hinted that she had betrayed him once…” she added, tapping her fingers. Teresa and Bola were watching her attentively, and by the look on their faces, they were connecting dots. “Jack… Jack hates his father” she suddenly blurted out and frowned, wondering why she forgot that.

“He does?” Teresa asked as her eyes widened slightly.

Lara blinked, staring at the floor in confusion. “When I asked him why he lied about not knowing who Pascal was, he said something related to that. Something that suggests that he is not in good terms with his father.” She raised her eyes to her friends. “Yes… that probably explains why his eyes had flashed so violently when my… mother mentioned Pascal”

“And why does he hate his father?” Teresa asked, her frown deepening.

“No idea! I didn’t ask”

“Well, we need to know” Teresa said emphatically. “It might be the key to this whole fiasco”

“And how sure are you that he is not lying again?” Bola interjected.

Teresa raised her eyes to heaven, feeling exasperated. “Honestly Bola, your distrust of this guy isn’t helping at all”

“What? It seems I am the only person with a sensible brain here; besides, I was right all along. The guy does have something to hide.” She said, emphasizing her point as Teresa sighed audibly. Lara was busy massaging the ache in her temples, paying half attention to Bola’s argument. “Has it not occurred to you girls that there are just too many coincidences here?” she stared at her friends like they had suddenly gone dumb. “We saw him at the boutique, he magically surfaced and got Lara away from Kidnappers, asked for her hand in marriage the second he met the governor, claimed to have been following her and wants to make her happy and now, his father seems to have some sort of connection with your mother…” she raised her hands in the air, “…I mean… oh my God! I refuse to believe that I have idiots as friends” she shook her head, looking at them in bewilderment.

Lara was in total agreement with Bola because she had thought the same immediately Jack told her that the mysterious Pascal was his father. So, what if Jack truly had some skeletons in his cupboard, did she really want to know? Lara swallowed. He had kissed her with so much passion within so short a time. He seemed like a man who could sweep off any woman with not only looks but with his charm and seduction prowess. She already had too much problems in her life. It seemed she was going round in circles, looking for a particular piece of glass amidst a bucket full of broken glasses; she might end up finding nothing with a bloody hand to nurse afterwards.

“Bola is right” Lara said finally. “The coincidences are becoming uncomfortable”

Teresa nodded. “Okay, I give it to you Bola, you succeeded in convincing me. Maybe he is hiding something, and believe me, we all have things to hide…” she said, matter-of-factly, making Lara wonder if Teresa did have things to hide. “… but, if we are going to know exactly what happened between your mother and his father, I think the only person that could tell us now would be Jack’s father, and to find him, we need Jack. You need to find out why Jack hates his father” Teresa said to Lara, pointedly. “If he is lying or has something to hide, it would show. I know you Lara, you read people so easily; you would know if he is being suspicious”

“If she doesn’t get carried away by his charms” Bola muttered under her breath.

Teresa ignored her and continued. “There is something I can’t get through my head though…” Teresa stated as she frowned at Lara. “Is it possible that your mother kept so many secrets to herself? I find that hard to believe”

Lara sighed and turned away as pain ate at her insides. “I know the feeling”

“No! It is practically impossible. She must have confided in someone… anyone! Did she have close friends? Who do you think she could have opened up to?”

“She only had distant friends and I don’t think she confides in them. She couldn’t tell me, what makes you think she would tell others” In fact, Lara would be happier if she never confided in anyone because it would hurt more that her mother trusted others more than her.

“Someone introduced her to the kidnapper, right? Or how did she meet the kidnapper?” Bola asked

“I don’t know” Lara yelled. This was becoming too much.

Teresa swallowed. “I’m sorry babe, we just want to help.” She said, touching Lara slightly on the shoulder. “Finding a confidant would have been the answer to all these”

“Well, I used to think of myself as her confidant” Lara snapped. “But obviously, I am not. She just couldn’t trust me to keep her secrets safe” she said bitterly. “I…” Lara froze.

“What?”

Lara looked for some seconds and blinked. “She has… she has a diary… erm… I have seen her on one or two occasions, writing inside this… striped purple and white diary. Do you think it can have any answers?”

“It most definitely would” Teresa said strongly.

Teresa took out her phone from her pocket and dialed a number.

“Yes! Maybe this diary is the confidant we need” Bola seconded.

“Who are you calling?” Lara frowned at Teresa.

“Nora”

“Our maid? How did you get her number?” Lara asked with a deep frown on her face.

“Errr… I’ll explain that later…” she murmured. “Hello……”

*****
*****

Nora gripped the duster and Napkin firmly in her hands with her heart skipping over the edge. She put the napkin in a bucket and lifted it pensively. As a servant in the state house, she knew so many secrets, overheard so many conversations but what she was asked to do by Miss Teresa was not so easy. Finding the CD that she had asked for earlier was still a dilemma to her, now, how would she get into her late madam’s room without rousing suspicions? Nora had been working in the state house for some time, but it was long enough to make her know that the governor was a mean man. He always fought with his wife, and initially, Nora had thought that the governor had women outside who satisfied him sexually, that maybe the mistresses were the ones behind the governor’s attitude, but no. The governor did not have a mistress, if he did, one of the servants would have hinted on it while gossiping, so why did he never see eye to eye with his late wife?

Nora held the duster and bucket in her hand and tried to make her face as neutral as possible as she walked carefully towards the bedroom of her late madam. She smiled playfully at the guards she met, standing stationery on the way and they smiled back. The only time they were less statues was when they were with fellow servants. Nora’s heart was racing fast; if the governor had a cause to suspect her, she was finished. She knew the governor was home, carrying out a farse mourning charade by staying in his bedroom. This was the perfect time to do this! If she waited for the time the governor wasn’t around, she would draw suspicions.

As she drew closer to Mrs Banks room, she started humming songs, as was her custom whenever she was working. The guard standing close to the door smiled at her and she blinked her eye seductively at him. She knew he had been making passes at her, maybe it was good that he was shifted to man this place, she thought.

“I was asked to dust up the room” she explained to him as she walked to the door.

The guard smiled. “I could help you”

Nora smiled back, hoping her smile wasn’t shaky enough to rouse suspicions. “No, I wouldn’t put you in trouble; I can handle everything”

Without wasting time, she pushed open the door and entered, closing the door behind her firmly. She swallowed, taking a deep breath to calm her nerves. she couldn’t lock the door; the lock click would definitely make the guard know hat something was amiss.

She looked about the room. the room still had her madam’s perfume scent attached to it. she had the distinctive urge to cry. Mrs Banks had been a good woman. She hadn’t been fond of the servants but then, she hadn’t been harsh to them either. She was the easy going type, not saying much of anything. Nora would have preferred it a million times if the governor had fallen dead instead. Surely the world could do without such an evil man.

Purple and white… without wasting time, she rushed to the small table by the bed and checked, no diary. She opened all the drawers but didn’t find anything. This was becoming difficult. She glanced at the door nervously as she rushed to the wardrobe, opening it carefully. She searched all the handbags and racked through the clothes. She heard a small noise outside the bedroom and froze. Oh no!

She stood stock still, expecting the door to bounce open but after a few seconds, the noise dissipated. She sighed and bent, pulling the small drawer under the wardrobe, several books were there and after shuffling for seconds, she stumbled on a big purple and white book. She swallowed and took in breaths to stable her racing heart. She hurriedly rushed to the bucket she brought with her and dropped it inside, covering it carefully with the napkin inside. She took cleansing breaths and wiped the sweat on her brow. She closed the drawers and picked up the duster she brought. She had told the guard that she wanted to clean up the room, how would she explain the room’s dusty state if she left? With that, she started dusting the room, taking her time to rearrange everything she had scattered during her search.

*****
*****

Jack sat, facing the governor with his hands fisted beside him. The man had to be the most heartless person he had ever come across. Tunji Banks actually had the grace to pretend to be sober but the man, probably out of pride, would not even give himself the grace of being less obvious. Tunji Banks sat opposite him, in the home office he had entered some days back, looking as calm as ever. There was nothing to show that the man had actually lost his wife, a woman he had been married to for twenty something years.

“I am sorry about your wife sir” Jack murmured stonily, knowing that tge governor expected him to say that.

“Yes! It was very painful indeed” a feigned sober look crossed Tunji’s face.

Indeed! Jack thought as he gritted his teeth. “Accept my condolences Sir”

Tunji nodded, staring at the table as if there was something interesting about it. Was that supposed to convince Jack that he was really sad? “You have done a lot” the governor began, “I’m sure it must be taking a lot to console Lara”

Jack nodded. “She is really devastated. Mrs Banks died in her presence, she hasn’t been able to shake off her grief”

“But she must” Tunji said, raising his eyes from the table to stare at Jack. “Her disappearance is beginning to raise eyebrows with Journalists, I am sure you are aware of the real cause of my wife’s death, it would only take a matter of time for the journalists to begin to question the real cause of her death if Lara keeps up with this!”

Jack blinked, his anger mounting. “You want Lara to talk to the press?” How could the man be so cold towards his daughter?

“Don’t you know the disaster this could causd for me if the press find out that my wife actually committed suicide? The burial is coming up in two weeks and my campaign should kick off in a month, any scandal, especially one as serious as this would destroy all my chances. The opposition has a strong candidate as you already know, we can’t afford to be careless about this” he stated. “You are funding the campaign as arranged, surely, you want to invest your money wisely”

Jack paused and took a clensing breath. “Absolutely sir. I would see what I can do about that sir” he said and a thought popped into his mind. “I wouldn’t mind taking part in the burial plans, it is the least i could do sir”

Tunji’s eyes brightened. “I didn’t make a mistake accepting you as a son-in-law” he said with a smile.

Jack smiled. “Thank you sir. Lara mentioned something about searching for her mother’s family…”

Tunji snapped up instantly. “No!” His eyes flashed. “They cannot be at the funeral! It would ruin so many things”

Jack nodded. “Absolutely sir”

*****
*****

Jack got into his car and drove out of the government house with a smile on his face. He dialed a number on his phone and dropped it to focus on driving. His Bluetooth was inserted in his ear as he waited for the phone to be answered.

“Sword!” He murmured immediately the phone was answered. “I need you to get me some information…” He said. Let’s make the burial ceremony as memorable as possible for our dear governor, he thought with a smug smile on his face.

#MaimedSoul

Thoughts are Real!
Follow on Twitter: @nissi_adeola @inspysworld

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