“Mother!!” Hector screamed as he came out to face his mother in the sitting room of their family home in the village. Hillary rose on her feet startled at the voice of her brother. Michael and Felix ran from the backyard where they were drinking to check what was happening.
“What is it Hector?” she asked surprised at her son.
“How could you?” he asked with bitterness coming out from his voice.
“How could you attempt to kill Renee's mother?”
“What!” Mrs. Harriet exclaimed.
Michael, Felix and Hillary stood motionless to the ground with their mouths opened wide.
“How dare you accuse me of something I am innocent of.”
“Renee just called and her mother is in the hospital battling for her life!!!”
“What did you just say?” Hope asked as she and her husband came out from their bedroom to check on them.
Hector said to her. “Renee’s mother is at the hospital and her life is at stake because she might die.”
“Oh my God!” Hope cried out and turned to face her mother. “How could you do this? How could you be so heartless and cold?”
She stood on her feet. “I did not attempt on Renee’s mother’s life. What will I gain for trying to kill a woman that did not offend me?”
“But you don’t want her daughter to marry your son!”
“I will not be disrespected for a crime I did not commit.”
“If anything happens to that innocent woman, believe I will kill someone.”
"You will kill no one,” Hillary said with fear in her eyes. She looked at her mother. “You promised me there will be no blood shed. Why? How could you do this to Renee’s mother?”
“I did not attempt to kill Renee’s mother!”
“It will definitely be you and Melissa.” Hector said pacing round. “The two of you have been planning to separate me and Renee but it will never happen.”
“We don’t need to kill anyone for us to stop you from being with Renee. I am innocent.”
He shook his head repeatedly and glared into her eyes. “I don’t believe you, I don’t even trust you anymore. How am I not sure you don’t have a hand in father’s untimely death?”
“Hector!” Hillary uttered shocked.
His mother ran towards Hector and laid a slap on his face. “How dare you?! I am still your mother and I demand respect from you, I will not be ridiculed, insulted because someone got shot! How can I kill a sick man? My husband, the father of my children. You should be blamed for your father's death!"
"Mom!" Hillary uttered.
"Don't mom me Hillary."
"You can put the blame on me," Hector said. “But that someone is going to be my future mother in-law and there is nothing anyone can do about it. When I get to Melissa she will be very sorry for herself.”
Mrs. Harriet could see the anger in his eyes. She felt helpless to argue because she had never seen her son so furious. “I am innocent!”
“How do we believe you?” Hope asked.
“Shut up your mouth,” her mother said. “You don’t have a say here.”
“I have every right to defend my brother in this situation and I don’t trust you.”
“I will come over there to you and shut your trap!”
“And you think that will stop me from saying the truth? You are a bad and unprincipled mother.”
“Hope please it’s okay.” Peter said.
“No Peter,” Hector said to him. He turned to Felix and Michael. “Please, don’t take it has an insult, we need some privacy.”
“I understand.” Felix said.
Michael let out a sigh. “That’s not a problem,” he said and turned to his aunty. “I am sorry for what is happening but I know you will resolve whatever issues you have with your children, my cousins.”
The two of them walked out to the backyard.
She turned to her daughter, Hope. "I carried you in my belly and gave birth to you, nurtured you as a mother and you tell me to my face that I am a bad mother. I gave you your life!”
“God gave me my life and not you,” Hope fired back at her. “I called you a bad mother because you care only about yourself and what will benefit you. You always insult and curse me, saying I brought disgrace to the family for divorcing my first husband. When I do run home to you after getting beaten and injured by my abusive ex-husband all you would tell me is endure. I endured until I almost died.”
“Are you blaming me?”
“I blame you mother! You never cared about what I passed through, all you ever asked me about was how much money we made and you wanted grandchildren. You never sat me down to talk as mother and daughter. Did you ever advice me on anything?”
She looked at her daughter without saying a word.
“Mom,” Hector said. ‘You have never asked Hope why she’s unable to have children, you concluded on your own that she does not want to have a child and she was also barren. You judge all the time when you know you are not God.”
She stared at her children speechless.
“Say something mom,” Hillary said.
“Shut up Hillary because you are not different and remember I am keeping your secret.”
“What secret?” Hope and Mrs. Harriet asked Hector at the same time.
Hillary’s eyes were scared.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said. “I will leave all of you to sort things out.”
“Where are you going to?” she asked her son.
“I am going to stay by Renee and pray for her mother. I expect you, Hope to put her in your prayers.”
“I will.” Hope said.
“But you can’t go, we still have three more days to stay here and mourn your father.” Mrs. Harriet said.
“Dad will understand.” Hector said and sighed. “Dad is not a selfish person like you.”
“Hector I am innocent.” She said soberly and her eyes were becoming watery. “You don’t have to travel and leave us.”
“Do you have any idea how long I have not seen Renee?” he asked her.
She sniffed her nose.
“I will go inside and pack my things, Felix is coming with me. Michael will stay behind.” He walked away inside.
She turned to Hope. “I don’t know why you are blaming me for everything but you should have discussed with me the inability to have children.”
“But you never asked me,” Hope said with tears sinking from her eyes. “Father and Hector sat down with me in my unhappy moments to ask me and I opened up. What about you? You were supposed to my best friend! The woman I can tell my secrets to. If not that I met Peter, I would have gone into depression and only God knows what would have happened to me. I have a condition, it’s rare.”
“What is it my daughter.”
“Some women are born with ovaries that cannot produce eggs and I am one of them. I have tried to get it restored but it’s still the same. The doctors I have gone to has tried their best but I still cannot get pregnant.”
She ran and gripped Hope. “I am sorry my daughter, please forgive me.” Tears flowed, Hillary cried, and Peter walked away. He could not bear to watch his wife cry.
Hector and Felix came to the sitting room to say goodbye.
Hector hugged Hope and kissed her on the forehead. “I know you are going to be fine. You have a good husband and I am proud of you and Peter.”
He went to Hillary. “I know we quarrel all the time but you will always be my little sister but I still want you to change. Think about your future and we will talk about it when you leave the village and come home.”
“I will miss you.”
“Me too dear.” He hugged her and turned to his mother. “I want you to pray nothing bad happens to Mrs. Alice because I will never forgive you.”
“I am innocent!” she said shedding tears.
“I will have you investigated and I don’t care if you are my mother.” He walked away.
“I am innocent my daughters.” she said to Hope and Hillary.
Renee’s face brightened up with Hector by her side at the hospital. She had been praying for her mother to come out from the trauma and nothing positive has happened.
“I called the inspector general of police on this case," Hector said to her. “I believe the wicked souls behind this will be caught.”
“You don’t need to thank me, I am doing the right thing.”
“Are you suspecting Melissa?” she asked.
“Melissa and my mother.”
Her sore eyes widened. “Your mother?”
“Why should your mother go after my mother? It makes no sense at all.”
“Why would you say such a thing.” he asked her.
“She knows if anything like this happens it will cause rift between you and her.”
“Maybe she didn’t think about that before carrying out her plan. I am very sad my father is not here to see all these.”
She rubbed his back. “It’s okay my love.”
“Whatever amount the hospital demands for your mother, don’t hesitate to collect if from the money in your account.”
“I know and thank you.”
“I will have to spank you for the many thank you.” She flashed a smile at him. “I want that smile Renee, don’t be sober. Your mother will be fine.”
“Amen and thank…” Hector and her burst out laughing.
Four days later, Melissa arrived from a trip. Hector went to her house and the housekeeper led him to her bedroom. She was putting on a skimpy gown and immediately he saw her, he grabbed her by the throat.
“If anything happens to Renee’s mother I swear I will kill you with my bare hands.” He released his hands on her.
She began to cough and was able to get a hold of herself. “How dare you threaten me?”
“I will make you pay!”
“Make me pay?” she asked surprised. “What happened to Renee’s mother?”
“Don’t ask and pretend like you don’t know.”
She cleared her throat. “I just arrived from the states and you are accusing me of what I know nothing of.”
Hector stared at her in a confused state. “Don’t you know Renee’s mother was shot?”
“Shot?” she asked stunned. “Why would you suspect me?”
“Because you are desperate to marry me!”
She laughed out and walked to her dressing table. “You make me laugh. I don’t need to go after someone’s life for you to accept me as your wife. We are getting married soon.”
Melissa opened the lower drawer of her table and took out a file. She gave it to Hector.
“What the hell is this?” he asked annoyed at her.
“Open it and read the contents of the documents.”
He glared into her eyes and back on the document to glance through. He opened his eyes and mouth reading them.
“What is the meaning of this?” he asked dazed and looked at Melissa. “Where did you get these documents from?”
“Don’t ask me senseless questions.” she said calmly. “You and I will get married in a month’s time and I don’t care if you will invite anyone or not. If you continue to see Renee and her mother I will have to send those documents to the public.”
“Oh my God! That will ruin me, my father’s investments, company and his legacy.”
“I don’t care!!”
“Melissa please don’t do this.” Hector said.
“You have heard me,” she said and walked to her door to open it. “I have someone trailing you and don’t dare contact Renee in anyway, not even on the phone. Don't underestimate what I can do, don't ever call Renee or speak to her in anyway, I will surely know. I don’t want her to know about this too, if not I will leak the original documents. Get out from my room.”
“You want me out?”
“I am finished!” Hector said to Hope in her office immediately he entered.
“What happened?” she asked in a shaky voice.
He gave her the documents to read.
“Oh my God!!!”
“Hope what will I do?”
“I have seen these documents before and they were not signed by father that time. He asked for my advice and I told him not to sign them because it might implicate him if it mistakenly gets out to the public. He promised he was never going to sign them.”
“So why did he sign them?”
She sighed. “I don’t know what to say. Melissa's father is behind this and everything our father has worked for before he died will go down the drain if it gets out.”
“How could he involve himself in such is a deal?” he asked. “This is illegal and I have told father never to involve himself into oil bunkering. Now I do not know who is behind Renee’s mother gunshot.”
“If it’s not mother or Melissa, who do you suspect?”
He shook his head. “I am beginning to suspect someone that threatened to destroy the relationship of any girl I fall in love with.”
“Who is that?” she asked.
“Ndidi, Michael’s ex-girlfriend.”
“How can we locate her?”
“I don’t know.” He said tiredly.
“I am so sorry this is happening to you.”
“Oh my God! I will have to marry Melissa and she has warned me never to contact Renee in any way and even tell her about this, if not the documents will be released.”
Hope closed her eyes and tears gushed out.
“What is happening to me?!” Hector voiced out.
She went closer and embraced him. “I am so sorry!”
Hector eyes turned red, he swallowed and shut his eyes. He looked at his sister and held her arms. “I will never be a happy man. My past is catching up with me.” Tears dripped down like raindrops. He was crying uncontrollably.
Hope stared at her brother in shock. This was the first time she had seen him like this. Even at their father’s burial, he shared no tears but spoke to no one that day.
“My brother I am deeply sorry this is happening,” she said as water fell from her eyes. “I don’t even know what to say anymore.”
Hector could not talk but cry the more.
“Hector please say something.’’
He sniffed and cleaned his eyes. “I have to marry Melissa and I will do it because I did not forgive father before he died. This is what I will do to make things right.”
“What happens to Renee?”
“I don’t…” He could not hold it back but began to sob again. “I don’t deserve to be happy.”
“You do my brother.”
Hector took out his handkerchief from his trouser pocket and cleaned his face. He glanced at his sister. “I have to go.”
“I have to the office and take care of some things.”
“What about Renee?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe me and her were never meant to be together.”
“Don’t talk like this.”
“It’s the truth. Mother has won. I will marry Melissa and I will give them hell.”
“Are you going to talk to Renee?”
He shook his head. “It will only complicate things. I will tell Weyinmi to make sure she is safe.”
“It will look as if you have deserted her because of what is happening to her mother.”
“That’s what Melissa wants and she has gotten it. There is nothing I can do about this Hope. I don't deserve anything good, the world has turned it's back on me.”
For the past two weeks, Renee had not heard from Hector and whenever she called him, he refused to pick her calls. She located his office and when his secretary informed him about her visit, he refused to see her. This got Renee very worried after sending him text messages without getting a reply. All Hector did was wake up in the morning, bath and get ready for work. He bluffed his mother without greeting her and even Hillary. He goes to work and come back with a bottle of whiskey and drink himself to stupor before sleeping.
All Renee did was cry and prayed for her mother to get well. She was happy her mother health has improved.
“You are not happy.” Her mother said to her.
“You don’t have to stress yourself to talk,” Renee said. “You need rest.”
“Where is Hector?”
“Hector is busy.”
“Busy to come see me?”
“Excuse me mom.” She ran to the bathroom and began to cry. She missed him so much and that has made her to fall sick. She went for a test because of her early morning sickness and vomiting and was expecting the result the next day.
Renee received a bombshell when the result proved positive, that she was two months pregnant. She could not stop crying. She pretended to her mother that everything was fine and lied she wanted to go home and sleep for a while before coming back to the hospital at night. Renee went back to the garden Hector professed his love to her. She glanced at her ring and removed it.
“You promised me that you will never leave me,” she said crying hard. “You told me that I should keep this ring as a prove of my love for you. You promised never to betray me. What have you done to me Hector? You have deserted me and you have failed me. This pain is too much to bear.” She cried and cried until she got tired. She stood closed to a tree and sobbed quietly and sorrowfully.
“You don’t have to cry because of Hector.”
Renee turned her back to look at the person and was surprised to see him. “Michael what are you doing here? Have you been following me?”
“Yes I was following you.” he replied.
She fearfully looked around.
“You don’t have to be scared, I am here to help you.”
“Help me?” she asked.
“Wipe your tears first.” Michael said.
“Are you aware Hector is getting married to Melissa in two weeks’ time?”
She widened her eyes. “That’s a big lie.”
He gave her an invitation card to check and she confirmed it. “Oh no!” She began to cry again.
“Crying will not solve anything,” he said. “Hector is a beast and a betrayer. He deceived you.”
“No he did not!”
“Don’t be a fool, Hector is a manipulator.”
“Something is wrong, I need to see him.”
“He will not see you!”
“But why?” she asked still crying.
“He never loved you Renee and I will help you get back at him. Look at what happened to your mother. It was God that saved her life. Throw away that ring in your hand and buckle up.”
“I love Hector.”
“He does not love you." he said. "I care a lot about you Renee.”
She shook her head. “I want Hector.”
“Forget about him.”
“I am carrying his baby!”
Michael stared at her for a while and moved closed to her. He touched her chin. “I felt something for you the first day I saw you. I will help you take care of the baby and be a father to the child.”
Renee closed her eyes. She felt pain. She opened and looked into his eyes. “You must have a motive for doing this. Why do you really want to help me?”
He moved a little bit away from her and sighed. “Hector took a contract from me.”
“Yes.” He replied. “He sold some cars I was contacted to sell.”
She stared at him shocked. “You are the one he took the contract from?”
“Did he tell you?”
“Yes but he never said you were the one.”
“You can see what he did to his own blood.”
“But he regretted it and you can ask him, I am sure he will give the money back.”
“I don’t want his money!” Michael said angrily. “I want what is mine.”
“What is that?”
“My inheritance. I am the son of late Chief Henshaw.”
“What!” she exclaimed. “You are Hector’s brother?”
“But how did you know about this?”
“My mother told me before she died. She wanted me to keep it as a secret but I cannot take it any longer. I want what’s mine!”
To be continued….. on Tuesday.