Klarissa Edozie hurried back home in excitement. Shata gave her a huge diamond ring when they met for lunch. Although he clarified that it wasn’t an engagement ring, he was quick to add that it was his show of commitment to what they shared and his hope for their future together. He told her that the formal engagement ring would follow after he got her father’s blessing because he was raised to respect the place of family in courtship and marriage. Shata told her he didn’t want to put her under any pressure and that they couldn’t realistically be planning a wedding when her father was dealing with a life-threatening situation. However, because he wanted to do the honourable thing and not take advantage of her in his absence, he wanted his father to immediately meet with Chief.
Shata reminded her of her promise to get the address of the home her father was sequestered while he awaited his fate from his village people. He told her that he and the ambassador wanted to pay Chief a surprise visit by the weekend to formally notify him of their relationship and seek his permission to marry her.
When she hesitated because she wasn’t sure if her father would like the invasion of his privacy, he reminded her of the friendship between both men and how a marriage between the two families would honour that friendship and cement the long-standing ties the two men shared. He said it might even cheer him up.
Klarissa didn’t have an address. But she had an emergency phone number her step-mother gave her just that morning. When giving it to her, Ohita Edozie cautioned her against saving the number on her phone in case it got lost or stolen and ended up in the wrong hands. Instead, she advised that Klarissa kept it somewhere safe and only bring it out if something urgent came up and Chief’s number was switched off or his phone rang and he wasn’t picking up. Her step-mother even made her swear not to share it with any other person because people couldn’t be trusted and Chief would be very mad if he got contacted by someone he didn’t wish to speak with.
But she trusted Shata. He loved her and she loved him too. Besides, he worked for her father who only had good things to say about the man, his work, and his upbringing. Her father also trusted Ambassador Nebu Anele.
Klarissa ran straight to her step-mother’s room to show her the beautiful ring Shata gave her. She didn’t remember until she saw the unmade bed that Ohita Edozie left for the airport earlier in the day with Kendrik and Kendra. She told them something came up and they had to leave for America. Klarissa thought it was rather abrupt, but since her step-mother didn’t offer any more information about her sudden trip to the United States, she decided not to probe or pry.
She did notice however that her step-mother packed like someone going away for a long time. It struck her as odd, but because she was preoccupied with what to wear for her date with Shata that afternoon she didn’t want to complicate her life any further.
Sad that she didn’t have anyone to show off her stunning ring to, Klarissa took a picture of her fingers and posted it on Instagram. She didn’t bother with captions. She waited for a few seconds and then the likes, questions, and congratulatory messages started coming in. Smiling to herself, she walked back to her room to wait for the phone call from her closest friends. She knew they’d be eager to hear the story behind the picture and if she just got engaged.
Back in her room, Klarissa remembered the request from Shata. The card with the number was in one of her suitcases in her closet. She typed out the number and added three red hearts at the end of the message. Shata texted back with six hearts. And then he sent another text asking if there was a name for the number.
Klarissa hurriedly texted the name on the card. It was Akingbade Fagbemigun. In bracket, her step-mother had written Baba Iperu.
She waited for Shata’s reply but none came. So, she sent three more red hearts and a kiss and went about her day.
On the other end of the phone, Shata was busy giving instructions to D3.
Rain waited patiently in her car. Although she was parked in a poorly illuminated part of the Melford Okilo Road, she didn’t feel like she had anything to fear. The street was fairly busy with people still buying and selling things by the roadside. Beside the spot he asked her to wait, was a white garment church. Seeing the members come in and go out even at that time of the night made her feel even safer. He told her on the phone that he chose that particular spot for that reason.
Their appointment was for eleven o’clock but he didn’t show up until twenty minutes after. Ordinarily, Rain would have been mad, but she didn’t take offence because he had texted to say he was running late. The message said he was on his way though so she leaned back slightly on the driver’s seat and waited.
From her rear-view mirror, she noticed a car pull up behind her. The driver opened the door of the black SUV and walked up to where she was parked. Rain unlocked her door and motioned for him to hop in. He took the front passenger seat. For a minute or so, none of them said anything. They merely gazed up ahead into the hustle and bustle of the cold Yenagoa night.
“It’s been such a long time, Rain.” Her passenger broke the silence.
“Yes. It has been a long time,” Rain responded coldly.
“And how have you been?”
“Look, I didn’t come here for small talk or to reminisce. Maybe you should go straight to why you asked me to meet you here at this time of the night. It’s really late and you know I’m not a night person, so this has to be as important as you made it sound on the phone.”
“I know you’d like to get back home quickly, but I was hoping we could chat for a bit. Just for old time sake.”
“Please, can you tell me why I am here. I have a long day tomorrow and I should get going so I can catch some sleep.”
“I’ve missed you Rain. And I’m really sorry for the pain I caused you and for disappointing you the way I did.”
“Can we not do this now? Seriously, is this why you asked me to meet you here? Because I would start my car and drive off.”
“Rain, please…I know I hurt you really bad. But that was in the past. I have changed, Rain. I made a promise to myself to make it up to you whenever I have a chance to.”
“Please, can I go now? It looks like you didn’t really have anything important to say to me after all.”
“I do,” her companion blurted out. “It is about your boss, Chief Edozie and his children. Their life is in Danger. Someone wants them dead. If you don’t do anything about it fast, it could happen as early as this weekend.”
Rain couldn’t hide the fear that engulfed her. She listened in shock as he told her everything he knew about the plot to assassinate Chief Edozie and his sons.
“What do we do now?”
“I don’t know. Even though he had a hand in our breakup, that man has been good to you and I don’t know what would become of the company and all of you working for him if he dies. Rain, I want to do something nice for you, that is why I came to you with this information. What you decide to do with it, is entirely up to you.”
She watched as he opened the door and walked back to his car. She watched him drive off.
Unsure of what to do next, Rain brought out her phone from her bag and called him.
“D3, thank you for giving me this information.”
“You’re welcome, Rain. You know I love you and I’d do anything for you, right?”
“I should tell his wife. Or should I go straight to the police?”
D3 ended the call.
Rain started her car. She couldn’t go home. In her confusion she decided to go to the one person she always went to for clarity – Uncle Kalku in Kalakala Street. He would know what she should do.