About ten minutes later, Naomi was alone in a very big library. The library was way too big for just one mansion. Inside it, there were four long shelves each, in five rows. Lined on the walls, were also shelves packed full of books. Naomi looked around the library while waiting for the master of the house. Mrs. Mercy had asked her to wait there. She felt very familiar with the library, it was almost like she had seen it before, but she didn’t know where.
Naomi walked around, moving from one bookshelf to the other and looking through the books, but none of them held her interest. What held her interest was the fact that she was also familiar with some of the books she came across. However, there was one book that was even more familiar. The book looked so much like the one she used to see with her father. It was a small book with a green, hardback.
Her father used to carry something similar; he took it with him anywhere he went. One day when she asked why he never dropped it, his answer was that the book was his life insurance and he did not want to misplace it. It was an old book which obviously hadn’t been opened in years. Unfortunately, as she remembered this, she couldn’t really picture her father’s face. However, she knew that such conversation once happened between them.
Naomi picked up the book and blew the dust off it. She opened it and to her surprise, it was another name written boldly on the first page. She frowned at this new discovery. Did the master of the house also share the same book with her father? Or were they really just business partners?
She was about to open the second page of the book when she heard footsteps, just outside the library door. Naomi quickly placed the book under a big encyclopedia on the shelf. It was well hidden away from prying eyes. Five seconds after hiding it, a man in his mid-fifties walked into the room. It was a close call. If she wasn’t fast enough, she would have caught her in the act and suspicion would have begun to brew. Naomi looked at the man who walked in.
She recognized him as the man from last night; the one who looked up at her window and probably the one who came into her room. Apart from last night, she didn’t think she had seen him anywhere before. He was an elderly man. He had full eyebrows, a not so wide nose, and full lips. His skin was a chocolate brown and he had patches of grey hairs and beards. Naomi was surprised that for his age he had very little wrinkles. The elderly man stood still for a while; observing at her. He observed her countenance and her features thoroughly and gradually, a smile showed up, starting with the curve of his lips.
Good morning to you sir. Naomi greeted from where she stood.
You truly look so much like her.” The man said, ignoring her greetings.
Confused for a moment, Naomi asked, Like who sir?”
My daughter.” He said. “The guards told me you looked so much like her. They say you are a spitting image of her. I thought they just wanted to see what wasn’t there.
Oh, Naomi said, pretending. So where is she? I would love to meet my look alike.
The man sighed and looked away. He then walked behind the large, mahogany table by the door entrance and took a seat. “She got missing twenty years ago.” He said. She was kidnapped and maybe killed, by wicked men. Can you imagine men killing a five years old girl?”
Oh, Naomi said, feeling sorry. Im so sorry, sir. I did not mean to remind you of your loss.
Its okay. Normally I wouldn’t take kindly to it but, pew well, you are her look alike and you did not know so, I will let it pass. Although, I still believe I will see her someday. I’m hoping she is still alive.”
“But if she was only five years old when this happened, how do you know I look like her?” Naomi asked with raised brows. “This is twenty years after.”
“I know. I have my ways of knowing what I need to know. Lets put that discussion aside. So how are you feeling now?The man asked; observing her.
Im fine sir. Thank you so much for having me. I really dont know what I would have done.
Thats okay. He said, and then gestured towards the opposite seat, Take a seat and tell me all about you. I want to know why someone would chase after my daughters look alike. By the way, you can call me Moyede. That is my second name.
Naomi took the opposite seat and sat with all the dignity of a well-groomed lady. Moyede’s heart skipped a bit. It was the same way Mrs. Mercy had taught his daughter to sit when she was rehearsing for a beauty contest at school. However, he let it pass.
Im glad to meet you, sir… I mean Mr. Moyede.” She said. “My name is Helena, Helena Abeam.
Nice to meet you too Helena.” He said without any form of expression. “That name doesn’t sound Nigerian. Where are you from?”
“Oh sir,” Helena said, “Believe it or not, I am a Nigerian. It just so happens that my name sounds foreign.”
“The East sir; Ebonyi State to be precise.”
“That explains it. Most easterners have a somewhat, English name. So tell me, what happened to you?
Well, it is a long story, sir. I don’t want to bore you.”
“But you are not boring me.” He insisted, “Besides, I love long stories.”
“Okay sir, since you insist, I will tell, but I will summarize.
Okay, go on.
My stepfather, Mr. Okorie,” she began, “Was a construction worker who decided to go into politics. At first, all went well until I saw him kill a man. Of course, he knew that I saw him so, he got scared. He was scared that I would expose his actions to the whole world. To make sure that didn’t happen, he sent his men after me.
They caught me and locked me up in a cabin some distance away from here. Lucky for me, there was a lousy argument among the men yesterday morning, this led into a brief fight and the guards involved forgot to lock my cell after bringing me food. I saw the opportunity to run away and I took it.
Unfortunately, one of them spotted me and raised an alarm. The others stopped fighting and they all came after me. I spent the whole day in the woods, running and hiding for my life. Naomi stopped talking, as emotions took over. She drew her nose and wiped a small tear off her cheeks before continuing. I was already out of strength when I saw this place. At first, I was afraid but, I had to risk it. That was why I came here.” With that, Naomi stopped talking and suddenly went on her knees, Please sir; please, dont send me back out there. I won’t survive another day if you send me away.”
Touch by such show of emotions, Moyede got up and walked over to her side of the table. He held her hands and tried to pull her up but, she refused to get up. Your wounds are still healing my dear; both physically and emotionally. Moyede said. I will not send you out unless you choose to go out. You are very much welcome to stay in my home for as long as you want.”
Oh, oh! Thank you very much, sir. I really I’m grateful. She got to her feet, moved forward and hugged him. It was a father to daughter hug. Moyede was equally emotional at that time, he felt like he was hugging his own daughter. He had lost his daughter, only to have her look-alike in front of him. He didn’t care if she was a stranger at all, he was going to accept her and treat her the way he would treat his own daughter.
Back then, his little girl was the whole world to him. She made him mad with anger, sad with sorrow if anything happened to her, crazy with laughter when she was trying to play pranks on him and she failed woefully. He could never stop thinking about her. Even his room walls were covered with her photographs. With her look-alike around, he most certainly was going to be a happy man again.
“You are welcome to stay in this house, my dear.” He said, while still holding her in his embrace. “And if there is anything you want, please don’t hesitate to let me know.”
“Thank you, sir,” Naomi said, feeling happy. Her plan was going very well. She had been accepted into the house. Now it was time to plan her next step and cause major damage to the idiots who killed her parents.
Just as they disengaged from hugging, the library door slowly opened and a man in his early thirties walked in. He was a full six feet, fair complexioned and wore a low cut over well-trimmed side beards. His black t-shirt matched his blue jeans pant and black snickers. The t-shirt was tight, therefore revealing his muscular features. He had round eyes, round nose, and full lips.
Hello papa.” He said as he looked from his father to Naomi, without expression of any kind.
Naked Secrets – Chapter Four
“Vincent!” Mr. Moyede called. He was so surprised and happy at the same time to see the man. He quickly moved forward and got locked in a manly hug.
Naomi stood aside and watched them; all the while trying to remember the face of the young man. She was very sure she had seen him before but she couldn’t place a finger on where. She knew he had to be very much involved with Moyede and his activities but she did not know how.
After the hug, Moyede turned to her. “Helena,” he said. “Meet my brave son, Vincent.”
“Hello, Vincent.” She greeted. “A very good morning to you and nice to meet you.”
“Vincent, meet Helena.” Moyede introduced. “Helena Abeam. She came here yesterday, famished, injured and bruised. She escaped from her step father’s men who were ordered to do only God knows what, to her.”
“Hello, Helena.” Vincent greeted coldly.
Seeing that his son had nothing else to say, Mr. Moyede went on to explain that Vincent had been overseas for almost two years. He wasn’t expected to come home until the following month but, he was pleased to have him around. According to Moyede, he was really needed.
While Moyede spoke, Vincent gazed at Naomi like he had never seen a woman before. She was like a strange creature in his eye and she wondered why.
Something is definitely going on in his mind. She thought. She could tell from the look on his face.
After exchanging some more greetings, which didn’t come from the heart, Moyede asked Naomi to excuse them as he had some private thing to discuss with his son. Naomi agreed but not before requesting for the encyclopedia on the shelf. She lied about loving encyclopedias. Moyede agreed and she took the book, as well as the small one under it, without their noticing. She tucked the smaller one inside the encyclopedia and walked out of the study.
In her heart, Naomi really wanted to stay back and eavesdrop on their discussion but, she knew she could not. She couldn’t risk any of the guards who paraded the place finding with pressed ears to a closed door. They would consider her a spy or something worse.
She couldn’t risk blowing her cover. However, she wasn’t bothered. She wasn’t bothered because while taking the encyclopedia, she hid an audio recorder at the side of the book shelve before leaving the study. It was no ordinary recorder. She had it specially made by a Chinese company. They carried out a lot of test run and so, she was absolutely sure that the recorder could record all discussions in the library for the next one month; unless of course, it was tampered with. The plan was simple.
When she goes to return the encyclopedia, she would use the opportunity to take back the recorder, go to the safety of her room and listen to every discussion.
Smiling to herself, she went up to her room, hid the little book in her drawer and kept the encyclopedia on the bed before going back downstairs to the dining table.
After breakfast, Mrs. Mercy who was indeed glad that Naomi would be staying for a longer period; took time off her chores to show the new guest around the premises.
They moved from the sitting room to the kitchen, rooms, small home offices and study, the laundry room and balconies. After that they went underground; where they came in contact with a closed steel door. According to Mrs. Mercy, the doors were opened electronically
“Also,” she said, very seriously, “This is a no go area. Unless you are invited, you don’t come here. The penalty for breaking the law concerning these steel doors is not one you will want to experience.”
Naomi frowned as she looked at the doors closely. She had seen something like it back at her father’s house, but as a child, he always warned her not to go near it. Seeing the door again made her even more curious about what was behind it. However, curiosity was the last thing her expression held.
Her expression was rather, one of fear, pretense fear of course. Mrs. Mercy looked at her and smiled at her frightened expression. She placed a comforting hand on Naomi’s shoulder and then pulled her away. They left the underground and went back into the main house.
Once there, Mrs. Mercy turned to her “Don’t be disturbed by the laws of the mansion.” She said. “Look at me, I have lived here for thirty-one years and nothing has happened to me. All I did was keep the laws, not break them. If you do the same, you will have nothing to worry about.”
“And what is she worried about?” said a male voice from behind them. They looked back only to find Vincent leaning against the entrance to the sitting room, with arms folded across his chest.
“Oh!” Mrs. Mercy clapped her hand in delight, as she moved forward o hug him, “My baby, you are home at last.”
“I am,” he said. A smile played around his lips as he hugged her back. However, his hard gaze remained fixed on their new guest.
The man who went into the study was completely different from the one that stood before her.
I guess I did not have a good look at him in the study. Naomi thought as she looked back at him, a little timid, so as not to give herself away. Out there in the open, he looked more rugged and had striking, handsome features.
Anyway. she thought. I came here for a purpose and that purpose does not include checking out handsome features of Vincent or any other guy for that matter. Get that straight into your head Naomi. She silently warned herself.
After they disengaged from the hug, Mrs. Mercy took Vincent by the hand and led him, like an obedient schoolboy, towards Naomi. From the expression on her face, one could easily tell that Mrs. Mercy was about to introduce them. As soon as the duo covered the short distance and got close enough, Naomi quickly spoke first.
“Hello Vincent,” she said. “Nice to meet you again.”
“Hi Helena,” Vincent replied.
“We met each other almost an hour ago,” Vincent said. “I didn’t know we will be meeting again so soon.”
“Oh!” Mrs. Mercy exclaimed, “Then there is no need for a formal introduction. I was only giving Helena a tour around the house.”
“No Ma, there is no need for introduction,” Vincent said, as he held Mrs. Mercy by the shoulder and pulled her close. “But there is something else you can do.”
“What?” Mrs. Mercy asked.
“Can you kindly allow me to take your place? I would love to give Helena an extra tour around the premises. It’s just a way for me to know her better.”
“Oh! That will be good.” Mrs. Mercy agreed. “I would love nothing more than for you two to get acquainted. That way, Helena will relax more in her new environment.”
What on earth is this idiot of a guy up to? Naomi thought. Anger was already brewing inside of her. “Who did he think he was fooling? He looks at me with suspicion in his eyes and now, he wants to get to know me? Vigilance, I love that about guys who think they are so smart.
Naomi didn’t feel comfortable. She knew Vincent was up to something else. However, since she was the guest, she had to try not to be rude. She looked Vincent straight in the eyes and smiled her most sincere, charming smile, before responding. “I would love to see what you have to show me. The garden already looks beautiful from a distance. I’m sure it will be even more beautiful in close range.”
Vincent’s brows shot up. “Oh,” He said, “I do have a lot to show you and I believe you are going to love it all.”
“Well,” Vincent said, as he stepped forward, “Let our tour start from the extensive floor of the mansion, then, we move to the gardens, the greenhouse ”
“You have a greenhouse here?” She interrupted him.
“Yes we do,” he said without any form of expression. “After the greenhouse, we would move over to the game reserve, to the woods and finally, the beach. So, are you ready for a whole day’s walk?”
“Of course I am.” She replied.
Immediately, they started by visiting the gardens first. Naomi really loved that she was going to be taken around the premises. That way, she would know her way around when her real mission started.
The sun was already setting when they left the beach. It was indeed a great sightseeing day. Earlier, before going to the beach, Vincent and Naomi visited the local villages around. What surprised Naomi was the way the villagers, in each village, rushed forward to greet Vincent. Their actions got her thinking. He was like their savior, some sort of god to them. Some thanked him for the help they had received in the past, while others continued to pour out their problems to him. Those he could help, he promised to get back to them with what they needed.
How does a criminals son choose to be helpful to people? Naomi thought. To the extent that he is worshipped?
At that point, he looked up at her, as if he had read the question in her mind. Vincent smiled and turned back to the elderly man he was talking to. He painstakingly attended to every one of them, before leaving with Naomi.
After leaving the village, they headed straight to a nearby beach. The surrounding was bushy, had tall trees and was very quiet. The only sound was the chirping of birds who peeped out from the comfort of their nest.
There were stones at the bank of the river but all that did not matter. Because of the hot weather, the water was very much inviting. Naomi took advantage of the invitation and went into the shallow part of the water, wading in it. She bent low, scooped some water in both her palms and poured it on her face. She did it repeatedly and even poured some on her neck. The water gave her some relief from the heat and sweat.
Vincent, on the other hand, sat on the stony shore and watched her. There was an expression on his face that made Naomi feel like he suspected something. She turned around several times to look at his face and each time she did, his expression made her uneasy.
Not wanting to leave anything to chance, Naomi quickly came out of the water and joined him.
What are you thinking about? She asked carelessly, lest he gets suspicious of her.
Nothing that concerns you. He replied, with no emotion.
Oh! Sorry.” She said, with pushed up lips. I am a stranger, not family.
I didn’t mean it that way.He protested
Yes, you did. She argued Its okay to not trust me, yet. If I were you, I will do the same.
Vincent looked at her and smiled lightly. Im thinking about our security. He said at last. There was a thoughtful look in his eyes. One that showed he was not only thinking; he was also worried.
Why are you thinking about security?” Naomi scoffed, Everything looks fine.
Yes, it does. Unfortunately, someone, somewhere, has vowed to wipe out my entire family, and she could take any form.
Surprise and complete shock took over, but Naomi tried not to show it. What do you mean by she? She asked, already becoming uneasy.
I mean a girl, or should I say, a woman? He sighed and went on to explain that while he was abroad, he heard from a very reliable source that a girl he had known way back, was planning a hit on his family. “I really wonder who this girl is. It must be one of those crazy girls I sent to prison.”
Is that why you came back home? Naomi asked, trying to feel unconcerned.
Yes. He sighed, I had to let everyone know what was up and also help boost up security. He then turned to her. Naomi simply threw all anxiety away and pretended not to be affected by his revelation. Frankly speaking, He went on, When I first saw you, I suspected you to be her but… His voice trailed off.
But what? Naomi asked, with no expression on her face.
But I don’t know you. Yes, you look very much like Esther, my father’s lost daughter, but I don’t know you. I have never seen you before. Besides, after a day with you, I dont think you can be her.
Let me guess. You only decided to spend the day with me because you suspected me, right?
Yes. But I’m a little over that now. I dont think you are her.
“A little over?” Naomi frowned. “A little over is not over, Vincent. Should I have reasons to be scared? Since you think I’m someone who wants to kill your family, you wouldn’t think twice before putting a bullet in me.”
“You have nothing to worry about, Naomi. Since you are not her, then you are safe.”
Naomi sighed, trying to roll all fear and tension to the background. Im glad you know I’m not her and I hope we will be friends?
Vincent looked at her and smiled one of those his heart melting smiles. Yes, why not?
They spent about an hour at the lake, telling stories, watching the water and just generally trying to catch fun. As soon as it was sunset, they started on their journey back to the mansion. By the time they got to the mansion, it was dark. However, some of the guards, on seeing Vincent, pulled him away from Naomi because they needed him to attend to an urgent matter.
“I guess I will see you later,” Vincent said to Naomi. “Feel free in this house, you are very welcomed here.” That said he went off with the men to another building detached from the main mansion. Naomi looked up and saw that her room window was opposite the building Vincent went into. Not wanting to miss anything, she quickly started on her way to the bedroom. She had to spy on them, she had to see what they were doing, and she had to know what they were up to.
Walking very fast, she got into the house and was heading upstairs to her room when Mrs. Mercy’s voice stopped her on her tracks.
“Oh, Helena dear, you are back!” Mrs. Mercy said. “I was beginning to get worried.”
Naomi slowly turned around to face the elderly woman. “Oh, good evening ma. I didn’t mean to get you worried. Besides, there was nothing to worry about ma, Vincent was with me.”
“I know, but where is he now?”
“The guards took him to the other building,” Naomi replied. “They said there is an urgent matter he needs to attend to.”
“Oh! Okay then. So, can you come over to the kitchen?” Mrs. Mercy pleaded. I seriously need some help with serving supper.”
At that moment, Naomi actually wanted to yell at her. Why did she have to be so demanding? And at a point when she was going to spy on the men? However, Naomi knew that she dared not yell at the elderly woman. Mrs. Mercy had been too nice to her since her arrival.
“Yes, ma.” She replied. “I can help you out.”She
“Oh! Thank you, my dear.” Mrs. Mercy said with sincere gratitude. “Come now, the kitchen is this way.” She led Naomi to the kitchen and together, they worked on serving supper
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