“Dakore, why are you crying?”
She didn’t notice her mother had woken up and seen her in tears. Dakore was sitting on a white plastic chair at the right side of the bed. She quickly cleaned her face and smiled.
“I am not crying mom.”
“Don’t lie to me. I have been awake for the past two minutes. You didn’t notice.” She said in a softened tone. She appeared weak and compared to her former figure, she had reduced a small amount of weight. There was drip in her left hand.
Dakore swallowed and adjusted the cover cloth on her mother’s body. “You should rest.”
“I have been resting Dakore. What is going on?”
“Nothing is going on. I just want you to stop talking and relax. Have the doctor seen you today?”
“You don’t want me to talk and you are asking me a question.” She smiled weakly. “That’s smart.”
Dakore smiled and rose up on her tired feet. “I will speak with the nurse.” She strolled to the door.
“Why were you crying?”
She looked over at her sick mother and that broke her heart. She couldn’t hold the tears for long, it rained and she covered her face. “Mom, I’m coming.”
Mrs. Robert stared in shock. Something was wrong. Her daughter always told her anything that disturbed her, Even when she called off the engagement between her and the fiancé, Dakore told her. Why was this difficult to say? What could have happened? Was Silas okay? Wasn’t Dakore expecting her goods? That ought to make her happy. She closed her eyes and took a deep breathe. She would wait for Dakore to return and there was no way her daughter won’t tell her what was bothering her.
Dakore went to the restroom to cry more. Before she decided to lodge in a motel, she called a close friend who told her she and her husband were attacked by armed robbers on their way to Abuja. They were traumatized by the incident and couldn’t help at the moment. One of her friends said she did not have the resources to assist her and her husband would not be able to accommodate anyone that wasn’t a relative.
The relatives she had had abandoned them after her mother fell sick. The only person that crossed her mind that would willingly help was out of reach. She had lost his contact nearly two years ago after she misplaced one of her phones. They were very close before he relocated abroad three years ago because of his sexuality. The last time Dakore spoke with him was a few days before her father’s burial. He sent her money, one million naira. It was a contribution for the burial occasion.
Dakore had no clue what happened to Harrison. Even if she lost his number, he had hers and sometimes it bothered her if he was okay wherever he was. He wasn’t a social person. He had no Facebook or Instagram account.
She washed her face and hands in the bathroom. She spoke with a nurse about the condition of her mother. The nurse advised her to see the doctor. Dakore went outside, saw a bench and sat down.
What was she going to do next? Her mother would not forgive her if she agreed to get pregnant for one of her wealthy customers who mentioned he was ready to give her the exact money for the operation if she gave birth to his child.
Growing up wasn’t easy. Her parents were poor especially her dad who worked as a gateman for a company that always delayed his salary. Her mother mostly assisted her father to cater for her and Silas.
When Silas turned fifteen, on his birthday, their parents came home happy. Her mother said someone that owned her huge amount of money paid her after many years. They never disclosed the amount, but their father bought a land, changed their school and opened two businesses. As his businesses grew, he started to build the house that Silas eventually sold.
Dakore still wondered how her mother got that money. One day, she would demand answers. Since that day, they were rich. She and her brother went to the university and graduated with good grades. Silas got a very good job in a marketing company and Dakore started her own business with the help of her father. His own businesses closed down when he was diagnosed with diabetics. He chose not to disclose the poor state of his businesses until it was already too late. His wife had retired and had become a housewife. When Mr. Roberts died, their lively mother was never the same.
Dakore thought. Maybe she should get her certificate and search for a job. No matter how small the salary, she would use it for other expenses until she was able to find another strategy to get the money for the main operation. It hasn’t gotten worse, for the main time, her mother could still breathe on her own.
After satisfying the accountant with a blowjob, Caroline went to her office to check her mails and left to see Bruno again. He was already coming out from his office with his Louis Vuitton briefcase. It contained few documents, gadgets, wallet and a pack of condom.
“Going home already?” She asked as she enthused closer to him.
He looked at his secretary. “Send a mail to everyone informing them about a meeting next tomorrow by 8am.”
“Okay sir.” The agile young man said.
“I am likely to employ a new P.A tomorrow. When Miss Uchenna brings her, direct her straight to my office.”
Jimoh and Caroline acted surprised.
“Yes sir. Sir, is it a male or a female I am expecting?”
Bruno gave him a displeasure look.
Jimoh looked down. “Sorry sir. I will bring her straight to your office.”
“Why don’t you take her to your house,” He hissed and muttered. “Idiot.”
Bruno said nothing to him and glanced at Caroline. “Yes, you were saying?”
Deep down, she felt embarrassed and belittled in front of a secretary that highly respected her. What she had planned for him, Bruno would never know it came from her unless she revealed her true color. Caroline heaved a sigh and smiled. “I wanted to check on you.”
“It’s because of what happened. I am surprised you are leaving the office now.”
“I am going to see my father.”
“Oh. How is his condition?”
“He won’t die tomorrow. Do you have anything else to say?”
“Not really. I will walk you to your car.”
“I don’t need a babysitter Caroline. I know what happened today is sad and unfortunate but if you want to walk with me to my car, no problem. Let’s go.”
After a short period of reasoning about how to overcome her challenges, Dakore went back to the room and met her mother seated on the bed.
“Mom!” Dakore sauntered towards her. “You should be resting.”
“Tell me why you were crying. You better tell me now.”
“It’s nothing to worry about and besides your situation makes me cry.”
“This is not only about my predicament. Something is wrong. What is it? Is Silas okay?”
Dakore could hardly hide the scornful expression surrounding her face.
“Did Silas do anything wrong?”
She heaved an audible sigh and sat beside her mother. “I am having financial issues. It will be hard for me to come up with the money for the surgery. The goods I was expecting and the money in my account has disappeared. Going into details about it will only make me cry more. I am tired of crying.”
“Then let’s sell the house!”
Dakore was stunned.
“If you are going through such a thing, sell it. We should have sold it after we buried your father. That house reminds me of him. We will rent a smaller apartment, you will use the money to stand on your feet, give Silas some and if the remaining balance is enough, I will do the surgery. It’s not as if I will die tonight or tomorrow, we will overcome this.”
“Mom, this is a heart problem. I know the medication given to us for now is sustaining you, but for how long? Are we going to allow your condition get worse than this before doing the right thing? That is not what I want for you.”
“I know what you want. You want me to have a successful surgery and return home. I am getting older and you and your brother are still young. Don’t allow my health weigh you down. I know you are strong and smart and no one can ride on your intelligence. If no one is willingly to help without getting into your pants, sell the house.”
“I have sold the car.”
Mrs. Roberts widened her eyes. “Why?”
“I don’t have money and I will have to pay for your drugs and other hospital bills.”
“You didn’t have to sell the car.”
“It is the right thing to do now.”
“You would have convinced Silas to sell his power bike instead of that car.”
“I think he has sold it.”
She shook her head and asked. “By the way, where is Silas?”
Dakore kept her mouth shut.
“Dakore, is Silas sick? Is he in danger? Did something happen to him? Please, talk to me. Was he involved in an accident?”
“Mom!” Dakore uttered and stood in front of her. “Silas is hale and healthy!” She burst into tears.
Her mother took her hands and held them tight. “If he is fine, tell me what is making you to cry.”
She released her hands and turned her back. “Silas sold the house and left the country with the money.”
Dakore heard a thump and turned back to see her mother fallen on the bed. Fear gripped her as she called out her mother without getting any reply. She ran to a nurse and another raced to call the doctor. Dakore was left alone outside the room as her mother was attended to.
Bruno drove into his father’s mansion. The gateman welcomed him and Bruno promised to see him before leaving. He entered into an amazing and beautiful private living room of his father. Mr. Kingston, tall and slim, was eating diced pineapple and watching a Hollywood movie. Bruno didn’t greet, he sat down at the right side with a frown on his face.
Mr. Kingston took the remote beside him and lowered the volume of the gigantic television. “Someone is in a bad mood.”
“Good evening dad.”
“I don’t think the evening is good to you. What is it?”
“Gabby is dead.”
He made a face and wore an uncertain look. “Who is Gabby?”
“Gabriel my personal assistant.”
“What! How did it happen?”
“He died in an accident.”
“You couldn’t get him a plane ticket?”
“Do you want to blame me for his death?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“You should have allowed me to finish. He went to his village and yes, I sent him an amount of money that could get him a plane ticket. I don’t want to talk about him. I just came here to check on you.”
“I won’t die tomorrow.”
“I know. Caroline sends her regards or do I have to explain who she is.”
“I don’t have amnesia, son. I know her. I know you have always wanted a sister, I could adopt her for you.”
“I believe she has a family. When I wanted a sister was a long time ago. I no longer need one. I already treat Caroline as one except when I am not in a good mood. Is mom at home?”
“No.” His father replied. “She is on her way home. Don’t tell her Gabriel is dead.”
“I said don’t tell her. It will be a mistake if you do.”
He wanted to talk when the Chief cook came to salute him and brought a plate of chicken salad, pineapple juice and two apples. They heard the sound of a car.
“Thank you Mrs. Edet.” Bruno said.
“You are welcome sir.”
Mr. Kingston pointed at her. “Tell Jerry to get me the green file in my office. It is on the left side on the table.”
“Yes sir.” She strolled away.
Bruno ate and drank from the juice. Mrs. Mosun Kingston walked inside. A young lady carried some bags, greeted the Kingston’s family and went inside the house. Bruno rose and pecked his mother on her cheek. She smiled at him. Seeing Bruno always made her happy. They sat down together.
“How was your day?” He asked her.
“Lovely. You didn’t call to inform me you were coming, I would have returned early and prepared something nice for you.”
“It’s whenever Bruno comes here you enter into that kitchen.” Mr. Kingston said. “You didn’t even look my way when you came in.”
“Don’t be jealous dad,” Bruno said. “You live with mom, I don’t anymore.”
“Don’t listen to your father,” Mosun said. “We will settle after you leave. Is Gabriel not yet back from the village he travelled to?”
He quickly glimpsed at his father who shook his head and focused on his fruit.
Bruno rubbed his laps and sighed. “Mom, Gabby died in an accident.”
The news robbed her of speaking. She could only open her mouth wide. It took her almost a minute for her to speak.
“Oh my God! Why would such a thing happen to him? He was a good man who treated you like a king. He never wanted anything bad to happen to you. I really liked him. Who is going to look after you?”
“Mom, I will take care of myself.”
“When you moved out, I never got worried because Gabriel was there to monitor everything around you. Who will do that now?” She briskly lifted herself. “You will have to move back into this house.”
“Mom!” Bruno’s eyes travelled to his dad. Mr. Kingston looked another direction.
“Don’t mom me! Gabriel is no longer here to look after you on my behalf. Move in or I and your father will move into your house.”
“I am not going anywhere.” Her husband said. “He is welcome back here.”
“I warned you.”
“Bruno Kingston,” His mother called his name. He gazed at her with a frown. “I am your mother and you will listen to me. Move back in until you find someone like Gabriel. I will not be able to sleep at night if you are alone in that house.”
“I’m not alone. My chef and housekeeper stays with me.”
“For three times in a week! The two of them looks like people with no strength. I wonder where you got them from.”
“Gabriel was not even living with me so what’s the fuss about me not being safe because he is dead.”
“That is not the issue here. Move in and find another personal assistant.”
“The office assistant is already looking for a good applicant for the job. I am sure she will get a good lady from a good home that won’t steal from me. Don’t worry, I will get someone.”
His statement got the attention of Mr. Kingston. “A female P.A?”
“You better don’t sleep with her.” Mrs. Mosun said.
“Mom!” Bruno spat out. “Come on! I cannot downgrade myself to that level. I have taste and sleeping with my personal assistant is off limit. It has never crossed my mind to do such. I like being professional.”
“I know that you like being professional,” his father said. “But employing a female assistant to do what Gabriel did for you will change you. Women are fragile. They become emotional especially when you are harsh on them. You might act as if you don’t care about people, I believe, there is somewhere in your heart that is soft. I would have advised you to get someone that is married, but your passion for calling people in the middle of the night to do something for you will not be accepted by the spouse.”
“I don’t need a married woman. Uchenna will not disappoint me. She has been trying to impress me because I don’t like her. Caroline might get one for me too.”
“I have told you what I want,” Mrs. Mosun said to him. “Don’t make me come to your office and drag you here.” She didn’t wait for him to speak. She quickly walked out on them.
“Is mother actually serious?” Bruno asked his dad.
“She is serious. Didn’t I warn you?”
“You didn’t tell me why and I wanted to find out her reaction in case you were exaggerating. I am no longer a baby. I can take care of myself. Maybe she is doing this because she misses Bayomi.”
“I doubt that. You are her favorite.”
“I’m not. She loves Bayomi and myself equally.”
“I don’t have the urge to argue. Where is Jerry?”
“I’m here sir.” Jerry came out from inside.
He had been waiting for them to finish their conversation before walking to meet his boss. He gave him the document, greeted Bruno and left. Mr. Kingston extended the document to Bruno. He took it from him.
“What is the document all about?”
“Will you read it and stop asking me a stupid question.”
Bruno grunted and read the document. He stared at Mr. Kingston dazed. “You want to start an NGO?”
“Yes. I want you to register it, do the necessary requirements and get people to work for you.”
“Dad, I have a lot on my table and you want to add another one? I don’t have time to have fun anymore. Sometimes I work on Sunday. Focus on getting another kidney.”
“I don’t need another kidney.”
“This NGO will be on hold.” He looked at the document again and glanced back at his father. “Who gave you such idea? The organization will focus on people with heart conditions. Such ailment is extremely expensive. We can focus on malaria, fever and headache.”
Mr. Kingston laughed. “I think that is a joke.”
“It is father, but I am not cut out on spending huge sum of money on people with heart conditions, especially sick patients I don’t know personally. If we know anyone, we can help, but putting all our attention on more than one person will require millions of naira or even dollars.”
“We have money and wealthy and influential people will also donate. I want to be remembered for this and you are the only one that can do that for me. I have you, but your mom has no one.”
He lifted his eyebrows. “What does that mean?”
“You think your mother isn’t tired of working? It’s just that she is scared to handover her business to someone she doesn’t trust. If only she had a daughter to pass the business to.”
“Is that why you want to adopt a grown woman? You and mom should have adopted a girl when I asked. I was seven years old when I started begging for a younger sister.”
“Your mother tried to get pregnant but it didn’t happen.”
“Like I said before, both of you should have adopted and I would have loved her like my own blood.”
“As for the NGO, I will think about it.”
“It’s a good thing, Bruno.”
“I know. I will think about it.”
“If you had a wife, probably she would advise you on what to do. Your mother could even give her the business.”
With the file in his hand, Bruno stood up and adjusted his jacket. “I didn’t come here for lecture on marriage.”
“Your mother and I are old enough to have grandchildren. You are not getting any younger. Your mom does not want to discuss about it because she does not want to get you upset. As for me, I will tell you the truth. Get married before it is too late.”
“I will get married when I am ready.” His dad was beginning to piss him off.
“You are leaving. Won’t you finish your meal?”
He peeped at the food and took one of the apples. “I am satisfied with the little I managed to eat. Tell mom I had to leave. I will call you.” Bruno marched to the door.
An idea came up as Mr. Kingston thought of his son. “I think it’s a good idea making an effort to employ a female personal assistant. “
He opened the door and turned back. “Thanks dad.”
“If you think she is perfect for the job, bring her home for inspection.”
Bruno walked away and closed the door gently. As he stepped outside, he felt relieved. He was definitely going to get married someday but surely not soon. Few years ago, he was ready to be a father when his past girlfriend, Nancy, a top model in South Africa revealed she was pregnant. He begged her to keep the pregnancy, that he would do anything for the child. She wanted more. Nancy didn’t want to be a baby-mama but his legally wedded wife.
Marriage was off his list and because of that, she aborted the pregnancy without the consent of Bruno. When he found out, he ended the relationship and told her never to ever contact him again. She never knew he had ordered an engagement ring he wanted to use to engage her. He told Nancy, she cried and begged him to take her back. He refused. Not that he really desired to wed her, he planned to deceive her with it and when she gave birth, he would cancel the engagement.
Six months ago, she called him she was in Nigeria for a runway show. Bruno said he was busy and he had a jealous fiancée. She cried on the phone, revealing she still loved him and was ready to do anything for him to take her back. Bruno told her he was getting married soon.
When the ring he ordered from Dubai arrived, he kept it in his pigeonhole and whenever his parents sat together and talked about marriage, he showed it to them and revealed he would engage his girlfriend soon. He was lying. It was a plot for them to back off for a while and whenever they asked if he had engaged his girlfriend, he normally gave them excuses. The last excuse, he told them he engaged her but she died in a plane crash. Ever since that day, they stopped asking.
Bruno got into the car and opened the pigeonhole. He removed some books for him to get through to the small black box. He took it, opened it and the diamond stone glittered on the white gold ring. He didn’t need it anymore, he wondered why he has not sold it. Perhaps, it might be useful to him someday. Although, it certainly would not be the ring that he would use to engage his wife even though it happened to be expensive.
The woman that was going to be his wife must be special, very special to his heart. The soft spot in his heart his father talked about was meant for his missing rib. He believed in love. Bruno was scared he might not get someone who would love him for who he was and not what he had. He put the ring and the books back and prepared to drive away. When Mr. Kingston heard the sound of the car, he smiled naughtily. What he had planned for his first son, Bruno would never see it coming.