The day did drag, again. But Christiana wasn’t sitting around doing nothing like it happened the day before. All thanks to Stanley. He had lived up to his word.
Earlier that day, morning precisely, after Keno left the duo in the kitchen, Stanley turned questioning eyes on Christiana.
“Are you flirting with him just to get back at me?”
“What?” She looked perplexed. What in God’s name was Stanley talking about?
“I saw the way you both looked at each other, Christiana. I’m not blind”.
“Well if you’re not blind, you would have seen that he was just helping me out in the kitchen”.
“Or making his moves to get in your pant”, Stanley finished for her.
“You’re just acting jealous”.
“Or protecting you from danger”.
“I don’t need your protection. I thought I made that clear earlier?”
Silence followed. The duo eyed each other, briefly. It was Stanley who broke the silence again.
“I’m sorry I have kept you in the dark for this long. But please, I will plead that you give me a listening ear when I come home tonight. I will tell you everything you need to know in addition to what I’m now forced to show you this morning, and after that, whatever decisions you decide to take, will go unchallenged, and unprotected against. When you’re done here, just let me know”. He turned to leave. Christiana sighed.
Something told her Stanley may not really be what she made him out to be. But then, Ovi was proof he cheated on her. And she couldn’t really shake off the fact that, the voice she heard from inside the boot, after she was kidnapped, belonged to Stanley.
He claimed he loved her and only wanted to care for her. Why then did he have to connive with the lanky idiot who kidnapped her? And she couldn’t wrap her head around why the lover of her ex-boyfriend made it her priority to save her from drowning in the boot of her car.
Oh. She remembered. Ovi did say she did it for Stanley. She saved her boyfriend’s ex because of her boyfriend. Nice! The entire scenario was even more confusing and she knew she needed answers.
“I will give you a listening ear tonight”, she said, finally, stopping Stanley in his tracks, ‘as long as you promise, you’ll only tell me only the truth”.
Stanley sighed before turning to face her, “the truth is scary, Christiana. Even to me. But I’ll tell you. And that’s a promise”.
She nodded, “Ok then.”
And so Stanley led her back to the gym house and took her to a back room she never knew was there. The room seemed to be a mini library and office at the same time. Maybe a Library. It was stock full of books on three shelves. A desktop computer sat on the table just in front of the window.
Pulling out the chair for her to sit directly opposite the computer, Stanley switched it on. He hovered the mouse around several files and finally stopped at a video file. He clicked on it to play. Then he told her how to play the other videos, about 10 of them after the one playing was over.
Then he left. Just like that. But Christiana didn’t try to stop him. Her instincts told her, he had given her something that would link to her past and help her know some truths.
It was five minutes later she settled to watch the videos. They were videos of what seemed to be an apartment she was sharing with Stanley. The videos showed them playing, eating, bathing, singing, dancing together and even kissing or smooching.
It was clear they were really in love. Christiana couldn’t argue with the proof.
The 9th video, however, was something different. It was a video of Stanley explaining everything there was to explain about his gift of seeing dreams, how he got involved with the cult and his job as a cult member. He explained how her parents died because of him and how he was sent to take her out. But he ended up falling in love. To top it all up, his discovered that the child the cult so badly wanted to prevent from coming into the world was his own unborn son.
The part that really got to Christiana was his explanation of how he and a friend of his made moves to kidnap her from her home in Lagos, as they were certain she wouldn’t willingly follow them to safety and they didn’t have so much time in their hands.
Unfortunately, it so turned out his friend was working undercover for the cult. His original mission was to get Christiana to the cult for a reward of six million naira.
It was why he threw a distraction at Stanley, saying Stanley needed to branch at the market and get Christiana her basic necessities, e.g. clothes, undies and everything else he could think of, as she would need them in the new place she was soon to call home.
To avoid suspicion from the people around, as they would be tagged kidnapers and get beaten up, Stanley asked his friend to go ahead. A good thing Ovi was on their tail, the lookout person for their mission when she got information Stanley’s accomplice was taking Christiana to the cult, not the house.
She informed Stanley but didn’t wait for his orders before she went in full pursuit. She knowingly chased the car even down the slope but threw herself out of the car before it got into the river. She prepared her weapon before diving in.
Ovi killed the traitor before moving to get Christiana out of the boot. It was one of the reasons there was a delay.
And although Christiana was ok, Stanley explained he felt terrible for putting her life at risk.
The video explained a lot. And the last video was proof of all Stanley had said, as it was a CCTV footage of her apartment being searched by armed masked men.
But as much as she appreciated his explanation, she was furious. Her parents died because of him and if he had not fallen in love with her or found out that he was going to be the father of the child whose birth he wanted to prevent, he would still have taken her out. How stupid she had been.
Christiana Wanted to remember for herself. She wanted to think back to what their life together was like. She wanted to look for even one reason to forgive him even after the kind of revelation she just watched. But she couldn’t. Apart from the videos that gave her some insight into her past, she couldn’t remember anything for herself.
She sighed, as she could only remember that she heard Stanley voice just after she was locked in the boot of her own car, “you’ll be fine Christiana. This is just for a while”. Those were his exact words. And he did say them again at the hospital and the day they arrive from the hospital, hence she was skeptical and couldn’t bring herself to trust him.
Looking through all the videos again, one after the other, she couldn’t help but wonder about the lady, Sophie, who seemed to be her very close friend. She appeared in only 3 out of the 10 videos. But those 3 were enough to tell Christiana, this Sophie girl was indeed a friend.
She wished, not for the last time, that she was able to remember something, even if just a little. But nothing came to mind. However, her thoughts were a jumbled mess by the time she was done watching all 10 videos for the second time and a few of them for the third or fourth time.
It was late early evening when she moved away from the table and paced the short length of the room, racking her brains to remember something at least.
It was way past 6:00 PM when the door opened and Stanley stepped into the study. From Christiana’s expression, he was sure he was up for more battles. But he was ready.
“Hi”, he greeted, moving to stand at the opposite side of the table, “I don’t expect you to be happy about everything you’ve seen on that screen today”, he swallowed, “but if you have more questions, I’ll be happy to answer them”.
She eyed him from where she sat, thinking up what to say when the door opened again and Ovi stepped in.
“There you are. I’ve been looking for you all over”.
“But somehow you knew I was here?” Christiana sounded rude.
“I only came here to report a missing person case”, she looked at Stanley, “But I already found her here. When you two are done, you can bring her over”. She left almost as suddenly as she arrived.
The silence that followed was unbearable. But Christiana finally broke it. “If you hadn’t found out the child I’m supposed to birth is yours, would you have spared my life?”
Stanley sighed, “yes. Because before I found out about that, I was already in love”
“And what about Ovi? If you really love me like you claim, why was it so easy for you to be in a relationship with her?” Christiana sat up now, frowning. She needed answers and she wouldn’t rest until she got them.
Stanley sighed, and looked away, “I was never in a relationship with Ovi. What happened was, I missed you, after that terrible breakup. I couldn’t tell you the truth and I felt bad I was putting you through unnecessary heartbreak. I was heart broke myself. And I had no solution then as to how to get you to safety. All I could do was get Ovi to front as the girl I was on to, saying you weren’t really who they thought you were.
It was my cousin that discovered my trick and alerted the cult. We had to take swift actions to get you to safety without too much talk. Hence we chose the kidnap method.
I must admit though, I was truly down, emotionally, and when Ovi offered herself for my comfort, I took her offer. We had sex, several times. But in all, I made her understand I still loved you.
I wouldn’t even deny that I notice she likes me a lot…”
“She doesn’t like you, Stanley. She loves you, more than you know. I’m a woman. I know when a fellow woman is in love”.
“Well, that’s where you keep missing it. Even if she loves me, is that a reason for me to love her back? Or are you just trying to make me feel guilty so you can walk away without remorse?”
“I don’t need to make you feel guilty for that, Stanley. I will walk and do as I please. Thanks for your help so far. But it doesn’t change the fact you are responsible for the death of my parents. I’ll never forgive you”.
She got to her feet and started towards the door. But then she stopped, “That girl I saw in the video, the one who is supposed to be my friend. Where is she?” Christiana asked, also wanting
“I don’t mean to add some bad news to what you already have. But your friend is no more”, he sighed
“What do you mean?”, Christiana turned around sharply to face him? Did you kill her too?”
“I didn’t kill anyone, Christy. You’re so angry that you would be glad To pin any bad act on me. I may be responsible for your parent’s death by providing information. But I never did the actual killing”.
“You provided information all the same”.
Stanley paused and looked at her. She was obviously angry and willing to pour whatever anger she had on him. “Her boyfriend killed her. Her boyfriend is my cousin. The same man she was supposed to get married to a few months from now. Three, precisely”.
“Why would he do that?” tears stung her eyes, “I am your target. I am the cult’s target, why would anyone want to kill my friend?”
“I really don’t know. But my instincts tell me her fiancé is responsible. After all, he only proposed to her because he wanted to use her to get close enough to you. I wanted to get her to come here today. To see you. I was hoping some reunion would help you remember something. But I was late. 3 Days late.
Her corpse in the mortuary revealed signs of a struggle. I’m thinking Jude, my cousin, is the one behind it. I have no other suspect.”
Christiana didn’t know if to scream or just run off and never look back. But she was obviously sad, and nothing Stanley said was going to make her feel better. After all, he is partly responsible for her parent’s death.
However, her instincts told her he was telling the truth about not having a hand in Sophie’s death.
She was still thinking of what to do when the door opened and this time, Keno stepped in, dressed in a simple blue t-shirt and gray shorts.
He paused as he realized, Stanley was not alone. He looked from one to the other, then smiled at Christiana, “I didn’t expect to see you here”.
“I didn’t expect to see you either”, she sounded tense.
“If you two are busy, I can come back later”.
“No need”, Christiana objected, “I’m leaving. We’re done”, she reached for the doorknob, turned and pull. She was out of the room in a flash.
“Are you two ok?” Keno asked after Christiana left.
“Yes we are”, Stanley sighed, then got to his feet.
“So what’s up? Ovi said you asked for me”.
“Nothing much. I just wanted to tell you to stay away from Christiana. I saw your moves this morning and I didn’t like it. She’s mine”.
Keno paused, frowned, and then gradually let a smile curve his lips before bursting into laughter. “You are kidding right?”, he asked, after recovering from the laugh
“I’m not”, Stanley maintained a straight face.
“Well, if you say so. But I don’t see any chemistry between the both of you. This morning in the kitchen, it was anger. Just now, it was anger. The lady doesn’t like you, Stanley, let another brother try”.
“Arrgg!” Stanley palmed his chest, and despite being the bigger one, the force did move him back a bit, “I’ve warned you. I didn’t risk my life to rescue you so you can come and take my woman”.
“Well, you shouldn’t have rescued me then. Because you know I always follow my heart”.
“My mother made me do it. And all because we need your help in keeping Christiana safe. Prepare yourself, you’ll perform your ritual tonight. By morning, you’re leaving. Now if you will excuse me, I have work to do”, he moved to stand behind his desk without taking his eyes off Keno.
Keno smirked, nodded and then turned to leave, “You’re the boss, bro. I’ll do as you ask. Ritual will be done 10:00 PM. Ensure you prepare your girlfriend”, he walked out of the office and slammed the door shut.
Although he was gone, Stanley felt uneasy. His instincts told him, where Keno was concerned, he had to be extremely careful.
To be continued…
©️Karo Oforofuo. February 2018. All rights reserved
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