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Adebiyi went straight to his room, pulled off his clothes, freshened up and relaxed on the bed. He was tempted to burst into Popoola’s room, grip his shirt and confront him of what he did but reconsidered. He knew his friend cared for him and had been through a lot with the death of his wife and accusing him of telling Tiwa about his parents would tear his heart apart. Popoola was the brother he never had. He wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize their friendship.
‘Tiwa’ He muttered her name. ‘I don’t know why but I will miss you’
He smiled as he thought of her. If she left, he was going to miss her company, ravishing smile and especially her sharp tongue. Although was she said was the truth, Mrs. Aisha reminded him of his mother, not only the victim’s mother but women that had also crossed his path.
The reason he felt Tiwa was different was her willingness and the determination to succeed in unraveling the murder case. He was not only telling her to go, it was an opportunity to take her out of danger. He wanted to protect her from the heart-taker evil eyes. She was not only an agent to him anymore but also someone he felt was special. The moment he thought of the money she was going to receive, something in him changed. Tiwa was like the woman that gave birth to him. They loved money and not the feelings of people in their lives.
He checked the wall clock. It was 10pm on the dot. He took his phone and dialed Mr. Bankole’s number.
“Is everything alright?” He asked immediately he answered Adebiyi’s call. He was on his bed with his wife. She was already asleep.
“Everything is fine sir and I am sorry for calling you by this time.”
“That’s not a problem as long as all is well with my daughter.”
“Actually, she is the reason I am calling. Tiwa is coming home tomorrow.”
“So soon?” He asked surprised. “I didn’t hear anything about the case. Has it been solved?”
Adebiyi cleared his throat. “No but I want to do it alone. I believe your daughter’s life is very important and I don’t want anything bad to happen to her.”
“You care about Tiwa?”
“I…I just want to keep her safe, that’s all.”
“But… but did she agree to leave just like that? My daughter hardly ever gives up until she succeeds. She really wants to catch the murderer.”
“I can do it all by myself. Despite not working with her anymore, I will send the balance first thing on Monday morning. Remember today is Friday.”
Mr. Bankole sighed. “That won’t be necessary. I don’t need the money if Tiwa is off the case.”
“Take it has a compensation for wasting your daughter’s time. Tiwa has the right to get the remaining payment. She should be with you and her mother.”
“Her mother is sick and she doesn’t want her to know.”
“Oh, I am very sorry to hear such news. I won’t tell her but she has to come home.”
“We will sort ourselves when she arrives. Keep the money, my daughter does not need it. The money is not her priority but the safety of the innocent women that are the killer’s targets. Tiwa never wanted your money. She didn’t accept it.”
What he said, hit Adebiyi hard on his chest. His heart felt heavy. He sprung on his feet. He was dumbfounded and confused. “I don’t understand. Tiwa didn’t take part of the first payment.”
“No. She never wanted me to tell you.”
“I… I …. I don’t know what to say.”
“Say nothing more and do the right thing. My daughter might not like you but she has a good heart. I don’t know what happened between both of you but please sort it out with her. Sometimes, I think I was stupid to let her go and investigate such a dangerous case nevertheless, I am still happy she was willing to take the risk. She is a woman with a heart of diamond. Her kind is rare. Don’t let her go, she’s is the best agent to solve the case.”
He still couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Tiwa did not accept the money. Which woman does that? “I will speak with you soon and my regards to your wife. I will put her in prayers.”
“Thank you Mr. Gold and have a goodnight.” He ended the call.
Tiwa gulped some whiskey, surveyed the place before deporting to her room. She was going to miss everyone including Adebiyi. She wasn’t happy at all. All she did was crawl on her bed, and wrapped herself with a white blanket.
She wanted to call her mom but it was of no use. No one, nothing could change the way she felt. Adebiyi had already made up his mind and it would be difficult to persuade him to allow her stay and finish what she started with him.
The following day, Tiwa woke up early, arranged her belongings and had her bath at 8:15am. She wore a black trouser, a white bra and was about taking her jacket from the bed to cover up when she heard a hard knock on the bed.
“Come in.” She said.
Adebiyi entered and his eyes were stunned. She was shocked to see him.
“I’m sorry,” he quickly said and closed the door. His heartbeat pounced harder than the normal rate at the thought of what he saw. Her body was sparkling and she was a gorgeous goddess.
She put on her sleeve rapidly and informed him to enter.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Yes, I am properly dressed now.” He entered and apologized again. “I’ve heard. I was wrong for not asking who was at the door. I thought it was Mimi at first.”
He looked around and noticed she was ready to travel and leave him. He might never see her again and the mere thought of it frightened him. She watched him move and sat on the chair close to the dressing table. She remained quiet and waited for him to say something that would brighten her day.
“I want to offer an apology for what I said yesterday.”
“No… I wasn’t supposed to say anything about your parents.” She sat on the edge of the bed. “I intruded and it was wrong.”
“I want you to allow me speak.” She nodded and listened attentively. “What you said last night was true and I have to start believing there are still good women out there. Money revealed the true color of my mother. I disliked her for treating my father like shit after he lost his job. I begged her several times to change and respect her husband but she would threaten never to pay my fees and disown me if I ever repeat such and disrespect her. Sometimes, we don’t get to see her for days or weeks. Whenever she comes home late, she was always drunk, and the few times my father confronted her, she would abuse and spit on him. When I was a young boy, I saw women as earthy angels, God’s gift to mankind, and as I turned older, my mother’s crazy behavior changed my aspect and thoughts about women. I should not have used her type to describe women. Popoola always told me there are still good women, although hard to find. He said his late wife was one of them.”
“Am I one of them?” Tiwa asked with her innocent eyes staring back at him.
He smiled a little. “Yes and I misjudged you in the past. You are a strong and good woman.”
She felt relieved and happy. “I am not a saint. I misjudged you too and I am sorry.”
“Both of us are and we should forgive one another.”
She told him about her brother.
“I never knew you are the sister of a celebrity. I have listened to Temidayo’s songs, watched him perform live and he is truly talented.”
“I miss him.”
“How could he leave just like that?” he asked. “I mean he should go home often and spend some time with his mother. She needs him.”
“Why only my mother?”
“I… I only feel for her.”
“Well, I believe he will come back one day after realizing we love him very much.”
“I am glad we are comfortable with each other.” He extended his hand for a handshake. “Let’s start all over again. My name is Adebiyi Gold. Can we be friends?”
The smile that plastered on Tiwa’s face was huge. She shook his hands. “I am Tiwatope Bankole. Yes, we can be friends.” Both of them laughed.
Adebiyi released his hand after the long hold. He got on his feet. “I have the new victim’s address already. We will go there after we speak with the agent. Although, his number is still switched off but we should be on our way to see him now.”
Her eyes were surprised. “I am still on the case?”
“It was a mistake to tell you to leave,” he said walking towards the door. “Let’s go.”
They reached the living room, and she noticed it was quiet. “Where is everybody?”
“Popoola, Donald and Mimi went to have breakfast in my favorite restaurant, we will go there later. Asante is off during weekends and I advised him to stay a little longer and take care of his sick mother.”
“How is she now?”
“He said she is getting better. I will find time and pay her a surprise visit. The last time I saw her was the period I wanted to meet at least a family member of all my employees and that was four years ago.” He locked the door and gate. Tiwa went outside with Adebiyi and joined the driver inside the G-wagon.
“I haven’t seen the guy I saw you with at the supermarket last year.” Tiwa said.
“That’s my assistant, Samson. He is not around. I send for him whenever I need him to do something for me. He is useful when you need information about someone. He was the one that sent Chinaza Oke’s home address to my phone. He has friends in the media and his sister is a successful blogger.”
“That’s good.” She said. “I think he might be useful to me. Can you send for him?”
He gave her questionable look. “Is there something I should know?”
“I will tell you when I have answers.”
“He will come by the house next week. Is that too late?”
“Why didn’t you wake me up last night?” Mrs. Bankole asked her husband after he narrated his conversation with Adebiyi. “I would have spoken to him.”
“I didn’t want to disturb you and besides, there was nothing you could have said that would change his mind.”
“Does that mean Tiwatope is coming home?”
He broadly smiled and hugged her body. “No. He called very early in the morning to tell me.”
“Should I be glad or sober?”
“You should be prayerful my dearest wife. I know I have been overbearing for many years and you still showed me love and respect. You endured and it’s sad this is happening to you. I want to grow old with you.”
“We are already old honey.” She said and laughed. “You don’t want to get older at all. I am sorry to bust your bubble, you are old enough to be a grandfather.”
He had a frown all over his face. “I don’t want to talk about him.”
She looked at him with sad eyes. “I know you must have read about the woman claiming to be pregnant for him in the newspaper. You have to try to locate him. Maybe if you apologize to him…”
“Apologize?” He pointed at her angrily. Mrs. Banks shut her eyes. She could not look at him anymore. “Why should I do that after disrespecting me? How can I call a homosexual my son?!”
“He is not gay!” she uttered and started to cry.
He got on his feet. “I don’t think your sickness will kill you. It is your son that will send you to an early grave.”
Her ears were stunned. She opened her eyes, and tears rained down her face.
“I… I am sorry my love.” He said and wanted to touch her but she shifted backwards.
“You can never change! I just want you to leave me alone but you have to understand my son, the child I carried in my womb for nine months is not gay. Tiwa assured me of that!”
“And you believe her?”
“My daughter, my best friend will never lie to me! I have nothing more to say, I hope you are still travelling this night. I don’t want you to miss your flight. I want you to leave me alone for now!”
Mr. Bankole didn’t say a word to her. He granted his wife’s request.
Tiwa and Adebiyi looked at each other shocked when they found the entrance of Monday’s office locked with two padlocks. A man working in the same building in another office informed them the agent dropped a message he was travelling for a while with his family.
“When did he leave?” Tiwa asked him.
“Did he give any reason?”
“Did his secretary come here today?”
“Yes. I saw her few minutes ago. She came here, thinking her boss was around. I think he sacked her last night.”
“I don’t know.”
“You mean she left here few minutes ago?” Adebiyi inquired.
“Yes.” the man replied.
He faced Tiwa. “Let’s check around, maybe she might be close.”
She agreed, they thanked the man and rushed out to search for the secretary. They didn’t see anyone that fit her description. They decided to ask the security man if he knew the direction she went. When they approached him, they could hear a female crying inside the small security station. Tiwa peeped through the small window and saw the secretary. She called her out, and she recognized her and obliged.
“What happened?” Tiwa asked concerned. “I hope you know who I am?”
“Yes ma. I remember you came with your husband to see my boss.”
“Adebiyi spoke. “She’s my partner and we are investigating a case. What’s your name?”
“Please Joyce, follow us to my car. We want to speak with you.”
“And please wipe your tears.” Tiwa told her.
She cleaned her face and followed the two of them. They stood beside the vehicle.
“Were you sacked?” Adebiyi asked.
“Yes sir. Mr. Monday called me last night. He said it seems someone was actually killing the models he is working with and he feels I am not safe because I am working for him. I pleaded but he said it’s for the best. I thought he was joking when he said he would be travelling with his family to keep them safe. I had to come this morning to confirm and I have been trying his number. I still cannot reach him.”
“He never discussed about the murder case with you?”
She looked at them confused. “What murder case?”
“You didn’t hear about the girls found dead without their hearts?”
“I heard about it but what does that have to do with me?”
“You didn’t know the victims were the models he worked with?”
Her eyes widened in shock. “Jesus Christ! I never bothered to know their names. Is that why Mr. Monday confirmed that name with me the day both of you came?”
“Yes and that was his third victim.”
“Unbelievable. No wonder he sacked me. Is the killer coming for me?” They could tell her eyes were scared to death.
“Are you a model?”
“No, not in any way! I am just a secretary!”
“You are safe, okay.” Tiwa said and touched her shoulder gently. “But I need something from you that can help us catch this killer.”
“What do you need?”
“First, does Chinaza Oke’s name sound familiar to you?”
She repeated the victim’s name continuously until she remembered. “Yes! She is… was a model working with Mr. Monday. I knew her…. I can’t believe she’s no more. She has a best friend, and they walk together most of the time. I think her name is Halima.”
“I was told you have the list of some of the models?”
“Yes but my list is inside the office and I don’t have the key.”
“What?” Adebiyi exclaimed in shock and glanced at Tiwa. “What do we do now?”
Before Tiwa replied, Joyce spoke. “I can be of help if you give me a day or two to remember some of the names. I have some names I wrote down in a jotter but I don’t know where I kept it. I remember I have twenty names in my main file.”
“Do you have any idea how many are on Mr. Monday’s list?”
“That’s one hundred and three names put together.” Adebiyi said. “It’s remaining ninety nine models.”
“He won’t go after all of them.” Tiwa said to him and stared at Joyce. “Try and recollect the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa names on your list and get back to me.” She punched her digits on Joyce’s phone and saved it. “Your former boss said something about a get together done every month end. Apart from the girls, do you know the people he normally invites?”
“Few of his rich friends, investors… I think that’s all.”
“We believe the killer might have attended the party.”
“Is there anyone else that these models get familiar with? He must have approached them one after the other.”
“I really don’t know. You should question Halima. We normally have a Dj, a chef and two bouncers at the door. One of the bouncers is mean and very rude. The other one must have slept with half of the girls. I am not really the right person to ask. All I do that day is welcome everyone, eat and dance alone.”
“You have tried.” Tiwa said. “Thank you for your time.”
Adebiyi gave her some money before they left to Halima’s residence. Halima was devastated and appeared to be grieving the loss of her friend. They questioned her but she was very emotional to say anything. It was until Tiwa mentioned she could be a target because of her tribe.
“Is it a crime I come from the northern part of Nigeria?” She asked crying. “What have we done? My friend was a good person.”
“I was told she was your best friend.”
“I regret not following her to look for a taxi. Maybe if I had done that she would still be alive. She is the only child of her parents!”
“I am sorry!”
“What can I do to help?”
“Is there anyone that must have approached you and started asking questions about your background?”
“No but my….” She swallowed. “My late friend said a man asked her twice and she thought he was interested in her.”
“She never mentioned his name?” Adebiyi asked quickly.
“No. She said if the relationship clicked, she would reveal him to me.”
“You have no idea if he was one of your agent’s friends.”
“I doubt. His friends only want to have sex with us with nothing attached. I suspected it was the Dj. I am not really sure.”
“What’s the DJ’s name?”
“What about the cook and the bouncers?” Tiwa asked her.
“We don’t know the cook’s name but we call him Mr. C. He comes with three boys to assist him to set the dishes and they leave the cook. I don’t know their names. The bouncers’ names are Jim and Biggie Mike.”
“Do any of the bouncers flirt with some of the models?”
“That should be Mike. He has asked almost all the girls out. Few of them agreed. He is handsome.”
“Did he approach you?”
“No but he asked Chinaza for a one night stand two months ago. She refused.”
“Do you have his contact or know anyone that has it?”
She shook her head. “I wish I had it. Do you think he might be the killer?”
“We don’t know yet unless we have evidence he did it.” They thanked her, took her number and left her house.”
Adebiyi and Tiwa ate in a fast food. After they were through, she requested she wanted to be alone. She insisted Adebiyi should leave with his driver and she would find her way back home. He agreed and left. She strolled to a quiet place, sat down, and thought about the victims and the next step to take.
After a while, she spoke with her dad and he informed her he was travelling to United Kingdom for a conference.
After the call, Tiwa was going through her iPad when a little boy ran to meet her and gave her a chocolate with a card. She was skeptical about it and asked the boy who gave it to him.
“A man.” the little boy said.
“What did he look like?”
“I don’t know. He was wearing a face cap.” The boy said and told her he wanted to find his mother. She advised him never to take anything from a stranger or talk to a man he had never met before. She let him go. She threw the chocolate and card away without reading the contents of the card.
She took a taxi home, entered the house and saw Donald quarrelling with Mimi beside the house. He stopped talking when he saw Tiwa looking at their direction. They greeted her and she answered with only a weak smile. Adebiyi had already ordered for lunch and dinner.
The next day, Tiwa persuaded them not to eat in a restaurant. She sent Mimi to the market to buy food items and she cooked alone happily in the kitchen. Adebiyi was impressed and Popoola praised her delicious food.
Later in the day, she called Joyce and inquired of the names. She sent her three names, Hauwa Mustapha, Linda Yakubu, and Nkem Iheme. She promised to get back to her as soon as she remembered more names. Joyce explained she could not find her jotter.
In the afternoon, Tiwa was looking outside the window, surveying everywhere and admiring Mother Nature. She looked down at the swimming pool and she gasped. Adebiyi was shirtless. He was inside the pool and drinking a glass of champagne. Her eyes were glued to his body and she could not define the excitement that flowed inside her by watching him. She bit her lower lip and desired to be touched.
‘What is wrong with me? I shouldn’t be thinking this way.’
She could not stop. She craved for his arms around her and undesired to have him on top of her at the same time.
‘I have to stop looking. Take your eyes off Tiwa.’
Adebiyi took one more sip, stared at the window and caught her eyes.
Her breath ceased. She speedily moved backwards, touched her chest and turned. She saw Donald staring at her. She was startled.
“How long have you been standing there?!” She asked in an angered tone.
“Few seconds ma.” he took his eyes off her. “I only wanted to talk to you.”
She started to breathe moderately. “What is it?”
“I am begging you not to say anything about what you saw between Mimi and I yesterday.”
“Are you having an affair with her? I want the truth.”
“Do you love her?”
He gave her a sincere stare. “Very much ma.”
“Your secret is safe with me. You can go.”
He smiled so wide, Tiwa feared his lips would rip off. Donald walked away.
Her instinct told her it was more than that. She was sure she overheard him telling her to quit her job and she was no longer safe. Even if she asked him what he meant by that, he would probably not tell her the truth. She was going to find out herself. Even if he wasn’t the killer, she knew something was going on with him.
After dinner, the three of them went to the veranda to relax. Tiwa sat beside Popoola. She tried to fight the desire of craving for Adebiyi to be by her side. She purposely chose not to get close to him. He was too much for her to handle.The chocolate and card still bothered her. She paid no attention to what they were contemplating about and had no choice but to spill what troubled her mind.
“It could be a secret admirer that wants you.” Popoola said.
Adebiyi frowned. He was jealous. “You have to be careful. You don’t know who it really came from. He might even be a stalker.”
“I know I have to be careful.” She said. “I thought it was from someone I knew in my past but he can’t be the one. It’s not possible.”
“Who is he?”
“My first boyfriend,” she replied. “The relationship didn’t end well. He is in prison.”
“What did he do?”
“He killed a male friend of mine.”
The two men gazed at her speechless.
Tiwa added. “I was naive to have thought I was in love with him. I was only eighteen when we started dating. He was possessive and cold. I never thought he was dangerous until he started to hit me whenever I spoke with my male friends on the phone. On a fateful day, a course mate of mine received his visa to travel to America and I was thrilled about the news, we hugged like normal friends but he didn’t see it that way. To cut the story short, he beat my friend using a wood with nails all over them. It was bloody.”
“I don’t think I will eat for three days.” Popoola stated. “Some people are mean! They don’t have conscience.”
Adebiyi stared at her without uttering a word. He was tongue-tied to express how he felt at that moment.
“Whenever Damon hit him, he used to beg me with chocolate and a card.”
“And you think he might be the one?” Adebiyi asked in a concerned tone.
“I don’t know! He was sentenced to life imprisonment.”
“It might be a coincidence. Just don’t get worried.”
“I will make a call tomorrow just to be sure. I am very tired.”
Adebiyi rose. “I am tired too. We should all go to bed.” The three of them left to their rooms. Tiwa had a cold bath, relaxed on the bed and called her mom’s number.
“Hello mom.” She said.
“I have been expecting your call.” A male deep voice said.
She panicked and her voice turned scared and wobbly. “Who is this and why are you with my mother’s phone?”
“Ah! Tiwatope, you just broke my heart all over again. You don’t remember my voice anymore. Did you get my present?”
“Oh my God!” She jumped out from the bed and started to pace around. “Please, please don’t hurt my mother. Please Damon, she doesn’t deserve this. I beg you, don’t hurt her in anyway.”
“What about what I deserve?!” He asked in a mad and loud tone. “You didn’t visit me at all! Did I deserve such from my baby girl?”
“You killed an innocent man. What was I supposed to do? Visit you for what?”
“I protected you from that worthless guy! He was caressing your body. Your body belongs to me!”
“He was my friend and it was a friendly hug! I told you but you wouldn’t listen. You are supposed to be in prison. What happened?”
“I don’t have time for your silly questions. You will speak with your mother soon and that will be for the last time. I can’t wait to slit her throat and watch her bleed to death!”
“Please!! Don’t do it! Damon!” The line went dead. “Hello?” She looked at her phone and found he had already ended the call. She dialed the number twice and it was switched off. “Oh my God!! The darkness of terror consumed her deeply. All her life, she never wanted anyone’s help. Everything she did was on her terms. This was different. She felt empty, hopeless and helpless. Her mother was in great danger. She needed someone’s help and the only person’s name that paraded her mind was Adebiyi. She suddenly felt he could be the only one that could make the fear in her disappear. Tears were all over her face. Tiwa rushed out of the room, running down the hall and heading towards his room.
“Adebiyi!!” She was screaming his name. “He has taken my mother! I need your help! Adebiyi!!”
Adebiyi heard his name from a distance. He thought he was having a nightmare until he heard someone banging on his door.
“Tiwa!” he uttered when he heard her frightened voice calling out for him. He left his bed in a hurry and opened the door. He saw Tiwa and for the first time in his life, the true definition of fear flowed through his body.
“He has taken my mother!! I need your help! I need you to do something to help me find my mother!!”
To be continued….