It had been two days after the planned attack but Fred Eseme had just dropped off the face of the earth.
Mike Okpo fidgeted with his tie in front of a mirror. He was running out of time, he needed his deal to fall through and for that to happen he needed Fred Eseme’s financial genius.
Akwa Ibom was a sitting pile of money and he wanted that money. Nobody was going to stop him from getting that money. He had already spent too much in setting up Fred Eseme; he especially despised that he had to pay the security detail at the University campus.
Those guys were a bunch of arse holes. After the planned attack, they had refused to carry out any of Mike’s orders until they were paid again. There was no problem with that but the exorbitant price they’d mentioned was a reap off. It was possible that Fred might even stay out of the school premises for a long time after his unpleasant experience, so why would he pay them any money for work they might not get to do?
Mike sighed heavily and stared at his crooked tie. He had hacked into his facebook page and email and he’d proceeded to drop messages on them. There was no harm in trying again, this time, he would make the threat very ominous.
With a plan, his smile returned and he abandoned his tie and rushed to his laptop.
It had been two days of toiling at Emma’s house, not that he was complaining. He had been glad to see her relaxed and the food she cooked was worth the stress.
Fred had forgotten that he had the capability to carry out such tasks. He had forgotten because he his dad had gotten rich and therefore, an influx of house helps had taken over his duties.
He had been comfortable clearing out the cluttered backyard of both grass and junks, although, he had pointedly avoided where Emma’s uncle had smashed the eggs. He tried not to think about it and not to feel as if what he was doing was because of the diabolic exercise that had taken place there.
The sweat that crawled down his body had been as satisfying as the sight of the neat backyard and Emma’s shocked expression.
Standing at the side of the house and pretending not to be nervous, Fred had to admit that Emma’s shocked expression had been the most satisfying result from his toil.
His heart leapt when he saw Emma slowly park his SUV. Her uncle had thought it wise that she be the one to retrieve the Honda Pilot, in case, Mike Okpo had people watching it and waiting to ambush him. She belonged in that car and he wouldn’t mind giving it to her to ease her movements, but he had to wash it first.
Three nights of being parked at the campus really showed on the SUV; bird excreta decorated the dark polish and dead leaves were stuck in between the bonnet and wiper.
Fred imagined that Emma would have tried to remove the leaves that had surely settled on the car. Despite the fact that she’d driven the car from school, some wet leaves still doggedly stuck on the roof of the SUV; the fact that she was diminutive in height and her swelling stomach would have contributed to her inability to effectively clear the leaves.
All these thoughts ceased to matter when she stepped out of the car. Fred grinned like an idiot, his earlier anxiety vanishing at her appearance.
Emma frowned at him contemplatively, “What are you doing out here? Your father is still around, right?” she asked, pointedly noticing the ostentatious Infiniti SUV that belonged to his father.
Chief Eseme and his wife had finally come to meet with senior agent Ette, on the issue of their children and the way forward. Fred had been too nervous to sit through the inane niceties exchanged by the older people despite the very large elephant in the room.
Besides, he was still angry with his dad for breaking his promise and sending the cops after him, even though that might have contributed in causing his impromptu escape. The point was, he didn’t need the old people to decide for them, he wanted to relate with Emma, he wanted her to be comfortable with whatever was decided.
“My dad is still here,” Fred answered, pointing at the Infiniti SUV.
“So, why are you out here?”
“I was waiting for you.”
Emma scoffed disbelievingly, “You should be inside before they decide things that are against your will, parents do that often.”
Her scoff totally slashed through his gladness to see her; in fact, it depleted his hope that she might have forgiven him a little in the few days he’d spent with her. They had conversed at length and laughed a lot, but, apparently, it had meant nothing to her.
Breathing deeply, Emma looked away from the forlorn look on Fred’s face, hating that she had caused it. He had really tried to make up for the past months in two days and if she was honest with herself, she’d acknowledge that it was working. But she didn’t want to give in to him that easily, it would be wrong to do that.
“I saw Paul and the rest at school,” she flung over her shoulders, striving to sound casual as she walked past him and approached the back door. Pausing, she fished in her hand bag and came up with Fred’s phone, “And I found this,” she handed it to him.
“I thought I’d lost that at the…” Fred clamped his mouth and pocketed the phone. He was actually glad to get his phone back and had feared the cultists must have taken it from him in the course of their tickle torture; but he didn’t really think there was a need to explain it to Emma, she probably didn’t care.
“Thanks,” he murmured and waited for her to precede him into the house.
She shouldn’t care, but she did. She shouldn’t ache at his obvious hurt, but she did. She shouldn’t want to assure him, but she desperately wanted to, if only to bring back the goofy grin he’d had for her when she’d stepped out of the car.
Emma stood indecisive for a couple of seconds before hardening her melting heart and going inside. If he could stay away from her for months, surely she could manage to punish him just a while longer; with a mental sniff, she flounced to the sitting room, leaving Fred to follow in the wake of her perfume.
“Ah, there she is,” Ette declared as she breached the sitting room.
Chief Eseme stood up almost reverentially, she could see where Fred must have learnt his charm, “My God,” he uttered under his breath but still loud enough to be heard.
“If I wasn’t already married to my exquisite wife, you would surely do,” he said and smiled; the act reminded Emma so much of Fred, the shape of the mouth, the eyes, it was all there; possibly, their kid would inherit those features.
“Good afternoon, Sir, Ma,” she greeted, almost curtseying in their influential presence.
“Good afternoon, dear,” Mrs. Eseme replied with a calm, nice smile that left Emma feeling received and loved already.
The strangest thing happened, Fred felt jealous of his dad and the smile he’d been able to evoke from Emma. It was an unreasonable feeling, but it was there and he did nothing to curb it; he just settled his back on the wall beside the door and looked on.
Are you okay? Caro mouthed while every other person’s attention centered on Emma. Fred shrugged and shoved his hands into his pocket, waiting for the decision that would surely be taken that afternoon.
“You have done well, my brother,” Chief Eseme said with a wide grin and shook Ette’s hand vigorously. As far as he was concerned, this was the best thing that could and has happened to his son, now there was no dodging his responsibilities no matter how hard he tried.
“I believe you should do the honors of informing them of our verdict,” Ette said and chuckled good naturedly.
“Of course, of course,” Chief Eseme said and sat down, after Emma had taken a seat.
“Come sit down, son,” Ette invited Fred in apparent camaraderie.
“It’s okay, Sir, I’ll stand,” he assured the man with a small smile, but looked at nobody else.
Emma’s heart flipped alarmingly, she’d stared at him and wanted to exchange a smile with him, but Fred seemed closed off, it was worse than the friendliness he’d used to cover his real issues. Now he was exuding a kind of malevolence which she was sure every other person felt, and she was guilty of causing it.
“So, after much deliberation on what we believe would benefit everybody, Fred and Emma especially, we have decided that it would be best for Emma to move in with Fred.”
“What?!” Emma exclaimed. Her voice echoed loudly in the room and she felt bereft because she’d expected to hear Fred’s own exclamation thundering along side hers in mutual shock and refusal; no sound came from where he stood.
Amongst all the things she’d been expecting from this meeting, moving in with Fred hadn’t been one, it had not even crossed her mind. She had been confident that Fred would try to weasel himself from any form of responsibility, and so she’d been prepared to play distant parents with him. That was why she had began distancing herself from him even though he’d been striving to out do himself for her sake.
Four pairs of eyes turned to her and she was left speechless and dried mouth. Emma desperately turned to Fred, her expression asking him to say something that would thwart this decision.
“Fred, what’s your take?” Chief Eseme asked as though reading Emma’s terrified mind.
Fred shrugged casually, “I’m okay with it,” he said as though he had no problems in the world.
“Shouldn’t we talk about this?” Emma over came her shock enough to furiously whisper at him.
He gave her an expression that clearly said ‘Oh, so now, you want to talk’.
“Welcome to the family,” Chief Eseme said with a wide grin at Ette and a satisfied smirk on his face which mirrored Ette’s own.
“If I had my way, I’d pay her bride price now,” Fred announced after looking away from Emma’s dismay, but he still heard her gasp at his announcement.
“To do that you’d have to have cash and to have cash, you need a job. Lucky for you, I have one waiting,” Chief Eseme equally announced, smiling magnanimously.
Fred saw Caro, his step mother, flinch at his dad’s insensitivity, she actually reached out and placed her hand on Chief Eseme’s thigh, squeezing it to keep him from talking further.
“I have money, my investment finally pulled through. By this evening I should be able to return your money and then, I will activate plans for my consulting firm,” Fred said calmly and waited for the fire works that was sure to come.
“So, you would pay her bride price?” Ette hurriedly asked, intersecting Eseme’s explosion.
“I want to do that, I don’t want to have different mothers for my kids,” he pronounced confidently.
“Then it will be arranged,” Ette concluded.
Emma was tired of following the conversation as though she wasn’t sitting there. “Has anybody asked me what I want?!” she exploded.
“You can not open a consulting firm and run a group of companies at the same time!” Eseme shouted over Emma’s perturbed voice.
Fred straightened to his full height and took precedence of answering his father’s non-question.
“I will not run your group of companies because they are yours,” he explained reasonably, refusing to join the shouting match.
“And you,” he turned on Emma, noticing that Caro held her hand in a form of comfort. “If you had just talked with me outside, we would have had our own agreement. As it is, it’s too late, and I like this arrangement better than what ever it is we could have decided, so, try and bear it for the sake of the baby,” he said and walked out.
“Now that is a decisive man,” Ette commented but nobody replied or added to it.
Eseme could not recognize his son; Caro secretly cheered her step son for standing up finally. Emma was left speechless; if she was honest to herself, she would acknowledge that she so admired the man that had just spoken to her in a firm tone. That man she had never met before, that man would make a good father to their child and that man seriously turned her on, it was almost embarrassing.
The story continues
LagosConvo family, I greet you all. Its your girl Emem Bassey. So, people have been wanting my stories as a full novel, I have done this and even added hotter scenes to it. Please help my ministry.
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