“You must be losing your mind, Vicky.”
The anger in Idris’ voice was something old and rancorous. It came from a place of disremembered memories. Victoria found his eyes burning into her when she looked into the mirror. He had a manner of expressing his anger in calm. It took a lot to get a fiery reaction from him. Inside he could be frothing with venom while he left a smile on his face. This character had made him a dangerous man to toy with in the past. He always struck his enemies with the same hands he used in feeding them.
Victoria kept her stare in the mirror. It was neither cheeky nor welcoming. She denied him the pleasure of a reaction as she engaged herself in her nightly routine of warm coconut oil body massage.
He had just returned home. It was almost midnight and she wasn’t sure where he had been all day. She wasn’t bothered with what he did with his personal time, though. After their first separation, she had learned not to ask questions about his whereabouts. It was mutual on his end. They both believed that silence was the best truth. You asked questions, you got lies.
“You want to place your son on psychedelic drugs to shut him up?” Idris accused.
“I see that Chima spoke to you.”
“Chima is the family doctor, Vicky. When it comes to health issues, he consults me on everything regarding this family. You know that. It was foolish of you to go behind my back to make decisions like that, especially for a grown man. Tanko is not a child.”
“I only want him to feel better.” Victoria got on her feet. “The Tanko you see now is not the Tanko that left here. Psychiatric treatment will bring back the son we used to know.”
“Stop lying, Vicky. You only want to shut him up.”
“Your son was asking me questions, Idris. Questions he should not be asking.”
Victoria crossed her arms. “Meaning?”
Idris began to unbutton his shirt. “We were at the polo club for drinks all evening. He asked me questions too.”
“That shouldn’t be your concern. What you should worry about is what else he knows that he’s not telling.”
“He thinks we’re responsible for his disappearance.”
Idris’ question was an accusation. His eyes took Victoria’s. A look of shared regret, although brief, passed between them. Idris went back to his anger, evident by a dent between his brows.
“He won’t talk about what he went through,” he continued. “He just wants revenge.”
“This is why we should stop him.” Victoria moved closer. “He’s not thinking straight. He needs to see a psychologist and a psychiatrist and whoever else he needs to see to get better or he’ll ruin all of us.”
“He will see doctors, but it’ll be their professional decision to put him on medication. Not yours.”
“So you’re going to just stand by and watch him get all of us into trouble–?”
“We’ve always been in trouble, Vicky.”
Victoria gathered the collar of her robe as her chest rose and fell in reaction to his silent outburst.
“None of us have been safe in this house. Nobody. They took Tanko, and you know damn well that it could have been anyone else. You know they’ll still come back. Anything we do is just a waste of precious time. The clock is already ticking…”
“There has to be a way.”
“There is no way, Vicky. Stop talking to me like an ignorant person. Tanko’s return set time back into motion. You just have to accept that our sins are finally here to meet us.”
Victoria moved forward and placed her hand on Idris’ chest. Her eyes wandered into his and dropped to where her hands rested. She spoke as if to his chest. “Then let’s swallow our pride and go back to Luke Igwe.”
“I’d sooner die than grovel at that man’s feet,” Idris said this while peeling away from her. “Look what he did to Bianca.”
“She turned out fine.”
“Are you okay?” Tanko slammed his shirt on the bed, having just taken it off his body. “No! She is not fine! She is messed up! You don’t see it, but I do! He hurt her, he damaged her!”
Victoria was cut by his words. Four decades with him and he still loved her enough not to blame her for their problems, even though she was responsible for them
“I gave her to him. Not like I had a choice!” Idris shouted painfully. “I had no choice, Vicky. Captain took more than an arm and a leg from me when he took her. And you want him to take more?”
Victoria cast her eyes to the floor. “It’s either him or them, Idris.”
Idris dismissed Victoria with a wave of his hand as he entered the bathroom. The door slammed after him, making her flinch. Victoria let her weight down on the bed. She picked Idris’ shirt and inhaled it. The feel of the material offered comfort. She squeezed it, fighting off the regret that brought memories from the past back into the bedroom. Nearly four decades ago, she had made what she felt was the best decision for her family, to free them from the darkness Idris had plunged them all into.
On the outside Victoria seemed like a happy housewife with no worries about money. One would have thought she was content with her simple life, but she wanted more for herself, for Idris. He was a smalltime farmer then, managing a farm he inherited from his ailing father. He could afford to put meals on the table, but Victoria had grand dreams for him. Her friends were married to wealthy men, some of them well-placed in government and in the army. They traveled the world and lived in houses built by their husbands. It was the kind of life she longed for.
She had spent her early teenage years mostly as a maid for the Igwe family, whose patriarch was presently the head of state. Her aunt at that time was one of the cooks and Victoria who was her ward, worked alongside her in the kitchen. She had had a whiff of their wealth; and not the regular type. The type that made you immortal and had people worshipping the ground you trudged on. It was at that age she began to get intoxicated with power and the affluence it came with. But life will lead her on a different path, when just at the age of seventeen, she was married off to a man not as wealthy as the Igwes, who was old enough to be her father. But after three years with him and two stillbirths, he passed away and she was forced to find a new life. It was then she met Idris, fell in love, got pregnant and became his wife. It was during the advanced stage of her pregnancy that she fell into a moment of self-realization, when she looked into her future and saw a picture she had not envisioned for herself. She hated the idea that she would end up as a housewife with more children than she could handle.
Not being the type to waste her moments in depressive contemplations, she began to dream again. Her ambitions gave her sleepless nights as she sought ways to take her family out of what she considered poverty into a better life. But it would take a visit from a friend to see her walking the path of her dreams.
The woman had stopped over on the occasion of Victoria’s birthday. Victoria recalled how she had walked into her modest home with a bags of gifts for her. She was a trendy woman, much like Victoria would have loved to be. The woman constantly kept the bar high with her fashion taste, always flaunting outfits that were purchased outside the shores of Nigeria. Ergo, it was with some bit of envy that Victoria complimented her outfit that morning when she entered the house. They were in an era where women sported soft fabrics and neutral colors. It was almost as if glitz and colors were the enemy, and all things brown and tan were all there was to wear. Every woman’s closet boasted of a scarf, a turtleneck and a silk blouse. But Victoria’s guest’s closet probably contained more clothes than she could handle. That morning, she wore a pleat skirt and a white silk blouse, complemented with a velveteen jacket. It was over the top, in Victoria’s estimation. One didn’t have to go visiting a friend with all that flashiness.
The ladies made small talk as they snacked on biscuits and tea in Victoria’s backyard while Victoria kept a steady rub on the spot where her pregnant tummy itched. She was seven months gone with Yohan.
“You should sincerely get a wet nurse when this baby comes,” the friend advised. “I don’t recall breastfeeding each of my kids for more than two months.”
“A wet nurse? But why?”
“Do you want your breasts to fall? You should see mine after three children.”
And as if Victoria expressed that she wanted to see her breasts, she unbuttoned her blouse, lifted her bra and out spilled firm breasts that Victoria politely smiled at.
“See them?” She held them out. “They would have fallen if I allowed those children suck them.”
“It just feels somehow, having my child suck another woman’s breasts. What if she has a strange disease?”
The woman dismissed her fears with a casual throwing off of her hand, and then went ahead to button up her blouse. “Breast milk has immunity. It will kill anything strange. If you like, I could bring someone to you. The best wet nurses are all those unfortunate Zaria girls that got themselves pregnant by some means and their parents kept them at home. Juts pay them some little money and bring the girl into your house to do the rest. That way you can relax and get your life back.”
The woman’s advice seemed strange to Victoria, but she showed a grateful smile. “I’ll think about it, Agatha. Thank you.”
Agatha placed her empty teacup in its saucer, turning it facedown. She moved towards the edge of her chair, leaning towards Victoria.
“There’s another reason why I’m here,” she said, her face becoming serious.
“It’s about my husband. Em…about what he does.”
Agatha’s husband worked with the army, although a civilian. He was the heir to a wealthy father who had also been involved in the government. No one in his circle of friends was from an underprivileged home. The wives, as well, came from highly-placed families, except Agatha. Victoria had met her during her stay with the Igwes. She had also been one of the domestic staff, working directly with Igwe’s last wife. But somehow, Agatha had wormed her way through the cracks of a common existence and found herself with the rich. No one remembered she was once a nobody. Even the way she spoke these days told of the affluence she was pulling.
“What does your husband do?” Victoria’s question was sarcastic, but in a playful tone. Everyone knew what Agatha’s husband did. Agatha laughed. “You mean his extracurricular activities outside work? If he has another woman outside, Aggie, I think it’s normal.”
Agatha smiled, head shaking a little. “Not his extracurricular activities. There’s more. The last time we spoke, I was very sure you were unhappy with your present status. I sensed it.” She looked around the small living room in a manner that rich people did when they didn’t want to come off as snooty while assessing an environment that wasn’t up to their station.
Agatha moved to the edge of her seat, and in low tones, revealed that her husband and his group of friends were part of a society, some sort of fraternal order, made up of members from certain renowned families across the country. They controlled wealth, and to some certain degree, had a long arm that stretched into the government. Most of their activities were carried out in secret and were not open to non-members. To become part of them, one had to be born into one of the families or introduced by a senior member.
Agatha’s story didn’t sound odd in Victoria’s ears. Her late husband had come off as someone who had been involved with a secret society. Once in a while he had held parties in their home and rich men had attended, all of them wearing identical signet rings on their little fingers. After his death, some men had barged into the house and into a room she had never had access to, led by the first wife; only to emerge with fetish objects, one of them being a skull that had what seemed like pins stuck all around it. She remembered having nightmares about that particular incident.
“Your husband dabbles in blood rituals?” she probed Agatha.
“Oh no, no. Not at all. I don’t really know what they do, but I know that it’s not that type of society.”
“So why are you telling me this?”
“I can help you, Vicky. We can help you and Idris. My husband is one of the family heads there, and has the power to bring in anyone he desires. I have suggested Idris to him and I think he would be interested if I keep persuading him. It’s all up to you, if you want to leave this life to a better one.”
“Agatha, I don’t like the sound of this o. These societies always ask for something in return.”
“It’s usually something small. Nothing idris cannot give. But once he starts with them, they will not even demand anything. They instantly make you rich through connecting you to their business partners and ensuring that you lack nothing.”
Victoria was silent. She kept her eyes lowered in thought.
“You will never get poor. Your children’s children and their children’s children will get the best of everything and have a name for themselves for life. Don’t you want the Bahago name to be recognized all across Nigeria, and even abroad?”
“Well, then, talk to your husband. Convince him and the rest would go smoothly.” Her hand came to rest on Victoria’s arm. “If I can go from the girl that washed the underwear of the most important woman in Nigeria to sitting at the same table with her, so can you. Why eat the crumbs when you can eat the bread directly from the table?”
Victoria looked at her. She withdrew her hand and picked her handbag. Out of it she pulled out a bulky envelop. “This is for you. Go and buy yourself beautiful and fashionable things. You’re beginning to look old in here. And for God’s sake, get a perm.”
She rose to her feet.
“Thank you, Aggie.”
Later that evening, Victoria brought up the discussion with Idris. She told him about Agatha’s visit and what she had proposed. Idris, in his characteristic way of reacting to things, kept a cool demeanor when he replied, “I will join no such fraternity.”
The ice-cold glass of kunu in his hand was brought to the side-stool before him and he raised his eyes to meet Victoria’s. “You’re not happy with where we are?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Be honest with me, Vicky. Are you happy or not?”
Victoria gave a silent heave. “I’m not. I want more for us.”
“We will eventually get there. I am trying my best. I know you’re not used to living like this but please, be patient. Give it time.”
Victoria swallowed her disappointment. She hadn’t expected him to buy the idea, but she had hoped for a more promising response.
That month, Victoria was knocked down by a car on a trip back from the market. She almost lost her life. Idris sold off his entire farm for her medical bills, but his efforts came short as Victoria, while hospitalized, suffered multiple seizures due to a traumatic brain injury. The doctors advised that she be flown out of the country for further treatment. Idris, by now, had run out of funds, even after soliciting from friends.
Weeks after, following Victoria’s recovery in a hospital in Germany and the birth of Yohan, Idris would tell Victoria how Agatha and her husband, Funom, came through in their time of need.
“I had not gone to her,” Idris explained, cradling his newborn. “She had come to me and begged me to allow them help. I didn’t have a choice. I could have accepted help even from the devil.”
Victoria didn’t ask any questions, and she continued with her silence when the months passed and she noticed that Idris’ financial status had been upgraded. They went from a rented flat to a bungalow he bought from their landlord towards the end of the year. He had also purchased a couple of landed property in the outskirts of Kaduna where they resided, and began working on getting back all he had lost. Victoria’s recovery was slow, but she noticed a lot of things, especially the type of men who stopped by once in a while to have drinks with Idris. She was happy. Her husband didn’t have to give her details of his newly-found wealth. They were finally on their way to riches.
Three years went past that saw them in the throes of wealth. This included trips out of the country and Idris’ business expanding rapidly. By now, Tanko had been born, and Victoria was not burdened with raising two little boys, as she had gotten a couple of nannies to assist her, leaving her enough time to pursue a course in herbalism. She didn’t see much of Agatha who lived in the United States, schooling as well. But whenever she came around, they spent most of Victoria’s free moments together.
On this occasion, Agatha had stopped by a few minutes after Victoria returned from school.
“We need to have a serious talk, Vicky.”
Victoria had washed off the makeup from her face first, before settling down to have a word with Agatha.
“Idris is in some kind of trouble, Vicky.”
“Last night, I overheard a conversation between my husband and some friends. I don’t know what your husband did but they said he’s going to find himself in trouble. The type of trouble is what me I don’t know.” Agatha slapped the back of her hand over the palm of the other. Her burnt orange lipstick didn’t seem like a good match for her outfit.
“They wanted him to do something but he has been stubborn. I just came to let you know, so that you’ll be very careful. When they want to deal with someone, they can be dangerous. Please, watch your boys. If possible, take them out of Nigeria so that Idris will face his punishment alone.”
“Wait, wait… Calm down.”
The information was coming to Victoria too fast.
“Please, explain more.”
“There’s nothing to explain. I don’t really know what’s happening. I just feel you should know what’s happening and do something about it. All the money you and your husband have gotten is not for free.”
Victoria protectively cradled Tanko who had crawled up to her. Agatha’s words, although confusing, left her feeling afraid.
“I just said let me come and tell you. You’re my friend. I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
“You mean they can hurt me and the boys because of what Idris has done?”
“Can they k-kill us?”
“I didn’t say that o.” Agatha picked her handbag. “I have to start going.”
“Agatha, tell me everything. I’m so confused.”
“Funom’s father and brother were part of them. His father foolishly thought he could walk away. Look how he ended.”
“But his father died in a car accident with the brother and sister…” Victoria’s words faded off as the enormity of what they implied dawned on her. “Oh my God.”
“As I said, I just came here to tell you.” Agatha got on her feet. “Please, be careful. I don’t want anything bad to happen to you and the boys.”
She stroked Tanko’s head who was now in Victoria’s arms. The shock of her words left Victoria so lost in her own thoughts that she didn’t know when Agatha left.
When Idris returned home that evening, Victoria questioned Idris about Agatha’s assertions. He lied. And she knew this, but she was willing to let it rest. At least for that night.
“A trip outside the country would do you good,” Idris said to her. He was mixing a poultice for one of their dogs who was bedridden with worms. The green substance pervaded the air in the kitchen. Victoria stood by the netted door that led outside, her face taking in the cool evening air that held hints of rain in it. Idris snuck up behind her with a kiss.
“Don’t believe everything your friends tell you. Agatha is an idle mind.”
Days after, Victoria questioned him again while they lay in bed, his body longing for her. She coaxed him patiently and sweetly, and soon he was spilling shocking secrets.
The society Agatha’s husband had introduced him to, at the beginner’s level, seemed concerned mostly about the economic and public prestige of its members. It also was involved in humanitarian and political pursuits. But when one dug deeper into their activities behind the scenes, one found a web of criminal networks. To remain a certified member, one had to get their hands soiled with dishonorable undertakings they could not wring themselves out of. At that level, it was a business of constantly surrendering oneself to grubby compulsions to tighten the bond of brotherhood.
At this point in Idris’ tale, Victoria felt the hair on her skin rise. “Idris, please let this not be what I’m thinking.”
Idris looked at her, his eyes divulging nothing.
“What have you given them? Who did you give them?” she demanded.
“You shouldn’t concern yourself with that.”
“Don’t concern yourself, Vicky.”
“What do they want from you now? They want me? The boys? Your sisters?”
“I am not giving them anything, Victoria. Relax.”
“And then what happens to you if you don’t?”
“Have I not just told you to relax?”
“What happens to you, Idris? To us?”
It took him a while to answer. “You’re not safe, okay? Neither are the boys. But like I said, would not worry about it. I can fix it.”
Victoria disregarded his words. She griped all night about how insecure she felt and how she wasn’t going to wait to be in a coffin with her children before she acted. At every turn, Idris reiterated that she had no business feeling unsure of her safety in his hands.
The days that followed that night were hard for Victoria. She suffered emotionally and psychologically, blaming herself for their present predicament.
“What were you thinking it was all about?” Agatha asked in irritation when she visited her.
“I thought it would be a friend helping a friend. At most, a loan. You people came to Idris when he desperately needed help…”
“And we helped him and transformed you people’s lives. Now, you are acting like the money fell from the sky. Vicky, you knew what you were getting yourselves into. Stop acting like a saint. Go and tell your husband to do what they are asking him to do or you both will regret it.”
Victoria did not relay Agatha’s message to Idris. Instead, she struggled with staying sane under looming danger. She became paranoid as weeks progressed, and with good reason too, as strange happenings began to occur. She had woken up one morning to find the muddy footprints of a man’s shoes stamped all over the floor of her matrimonial bedroom. Idris was away on a business trip and the doors had been locked as was always the routine. How had the intruder gotten in?
And then the phone calls came. The landline rang at exactly twelve noon each day with no one saying a word on the other end when it was answered. Just a steady, quiet breathing that lasted a few seconds before the line went dead. Or was it the strange car that always tailed Victoria’s each time she was out on an errand in town?
Gallingly, Idris dismissed her fears, insisting she had nothing to be worried about. But after a particular incident in which her car, being driven by her chauffeur, had a brake failure and skidded off a lonely road on a wet afternoon and almost took their lives as it went crashing into a tree, Idris began to take her seriously.
“I’ll fly you and the kids to the US immediately. You’ll stay there with Agatha until I investigate what is going on and fix it.”’
“There’s nothing to investigate!” Victoria answered hotly. “You know who is behind this and you have chosen not to do anything about it!”
“Do you know what doing anything would mean? What it would take from me?”
“As long as my sons and I are fine, I don’t care! Deal with this mess or I will!”
Idris never got the chance to deal with the mess. The following night, his younger sister was gunned down by unknown men in what looked like a robbery attack in her home. By morning, Victoria took her sons and got on the first flight to Lagos. She had gone to pay an old friend a visit. His name was Luke Ogar Igwe, AKA Captain. Apart from being the son of the current head of state, Captain had a reputation for being the most formidable man in the army asides his father.
“Tell Idris to come and see me,” Captain had said, eyes desirously washing over her.
“Thank you, Luke.”
It was with much frothing that Idris flew down to Lagos to see Captain. He had been mad at Victoria for taking their business outside. Captain had sensed his angst, and with an easy smile, clarified that Victoria had done the right thing for the family.
“You have no idea the type of people you’re in bed with,” he said to Idris, keeping a steady swivel on his chair. His office was a haven for books. There were wall-to-wall shelves that held all genre of literature. Captain was as well-read as he was traveled.
“You don’t even know who Funom is. That he is part of them doesn’t mean they are family, Bahago. Did you ask him the number of innocent babies whose lives were taken? Do you know how many were killed for you? And the virgins? How many have died for you? Of course you do know. That type of shit haunts you. You never forget it.”
Victoria looked at Idris. She judged him with her eyes.
“Is that the type of life you want for your family?”
Idris kept his brows furrowed.
“I know they have given you everything you need. Money, lands, connections… But at what cost, Bahago?”
“With all due respect, this is none of your business.”
“Idris?” Victoria scolded softly.
“It is my business, Bahago. You and your vile lot, you’re my business. I can’t have you running your criminal activities under my nose, inside my country.”
“This is personal for you, isn’t it? The Kentoro-Abassi family who are the Igwes’ longstanding rivals are part of us.”
“And yet their patriarch was overthrown in a coup by my father. Does that not tell you that you are on the losing side? Your hero rots somewhere in prison and all your powers, both political and spiritual cannot bring him out.”
The ‘spiritual’ was said with an air of mockery.
“Come to my side, Bahago. You wouldn’t want to be caught in my line of fire, because I’m coming for all of you. I’ll take you out one after the other. Every single one of you, no matter how long it takes. Yes, it’s personal.” Captain smiled, not breaking from his swiveling.
“Thank you for the offer, but I decline.” Idris stood up.
“Your wife and children need to be protected.”
“I will protect them myself.” Idris looked at Victoria. “Get up, Vicky. We’ve overstayed our welcome.”
Victoria rose up, embarrassment and apology scrawled on her face. “I’m sorry, Captain.”
“No need to apologize.”
Idris stormed out. Victoria followed. But she remained in Lagos while he returned to Kaduna to lay his sister to rest. Exactly a week later, the heads of the fraternity were murdered. All at the same time. Idris’ bedridden father, who had no business with them, also received a gun to his head in his hospital room. Idris returned to Captain, angry and demanding answers. Captain invited him to sit with him at the roof of his house where chicken was being barbecued and a small party of army men sat for drinks. Captain drew Idris to a corner. Beneath his anger, Idris was shaken. It took some time and a few glasses of brandy to bring him to calm.
“It’s sad that you lost the grand patrons of that trash society you belong to. But I was only taking out the people who would gladly see your family burn.”
“And my father?”
“How else would your friends know you’re innocent of the murders?”
“You’re no different from them.” Idris chugged down a half glass of brandy in one breath. Captain lit a cigarette for him.
“Why did you do it? What do you even care?” he asked Captain.
“I don’t care at all. But the ‘why’ is Victoria. I used to love her when I was a young boy with nothing to stress about and a lot of hormones that would not give me rest. She was one of the housekeeping girls that worked for us. Sometimes she cleaned my room. And it was during those moments my juvenile heart decided it was in love with her. She and I played a lot in that room.” Captain’s eyes wandered into the distance in a smile. “I had the utmost pleasure of deflowering her. I loved her and still hold something warm for her. So when she came to me a few days ago to tell me that her life was in danger and her reckless husband was responsible, I knew I had to step in and save her.”
“We don’t need saving.”
“When you go home tonight, hold her close and thank her for everything. Of course, I am not done with you and your people. But for now, I’m sated.”
“What do you want? You want Victoria?”
“Oh no. If I wanted her back, I wouldn’t tell you. I’d take her. But even I, I’m a man of honor.”
“So what do you want?”
“For now, nothing. But when the time comes, I will have my recompense. No, actually, I’ll take it.”
After the burial of his father, Idris abandoned the fraternity and was introduced into Captain’s social and commercial circle. It didn’t take long to have his business flourish beyond what the fraternity gave him, expanding beyond the north and breaking into the southern part of Nigeria. But his marriage to Victoria began to have issues, because he became distant and involved with another woman. When Victoria found out about the affair, she asked for a brief separation. She planned on following in Agatha’s footsteps to further her education outside Nigeria. She was taking the boys with her.
Resentment and pride were part of Idris flaws then. He made no attempt to stop her. Instead, he gave her all she needed for the trip and bade her and the boys farewell.
Out of spite, Victoria moved onto a new man, a doctor in the United States. In Nigeria, Idris concentrated on his agricultural, and now, milling business. His enemies had increased a hundredfold, mostly businessmen and some from his old fraternity who were mad that he had defected. But no one could touch him. The fear of Captain kept even the strongest men at bay.
Time would pass and Idris and Victoria would get divorced; Victoria would get married to her new man and birth Apollo while Idris would make a name for himself in the agricultural world. He kept in touch with Victoria, nonetheless, for the sake of their kids, visiting once a year. During one of those visits, under the influence of wine, Victoria opened up about how her present marriage wasn’t all she had dreamt it would be and how she was now in the process of divorce. She confessed that she had missed Idris. She wished they had not separated.
Idris did not wait for her to finish speaking before he left the other end of her living room where they sat and went to her with a kiss that seemed to have longed for years to happen.
“Come back to me,” he begged, fingers in her hair. “I’m building an empire and I want you running it, Vicky. I can’t think of my life without you.”
She spent that weekend with him in a hotel. She didn’t need her estranged husband’s permission to leave the house. Normally, she would lie to him that she was visiting Agatha in another city each time she wanted to escape the marriage for a couple of days. But she and Agatha had not spoken since Idris deserted the fraternity. And these days, Victoria’s husband didn’t care what she did with her time.
“Come back home with me,” Idris begged.
“I can’t. I need to have a proper divorce. I don’t want to have any reason to be tied to him. Besides, I want to have half of all he owns. You do not just get married to a woman and decide overnight that you are tired of her. He’ll pay for his callousness.”
“He has no idea who and what you are, Vicky. Forgive his stupidity.”
Victoria lifted her weight from the bed and sat up, staring out through the open balcony in the hotel room. The hotel was situated on Market Street in San Francisco, one of the busiest places in the city. Victoria had enjoyed the sounds that filtered in while they had made love. The weekend was going to leave her longing for Idris in a way she had never done before.
“What about you? You’re still with that other girl?”
“No. I have someone else. A girl in Georgia. It’s nothing serious.”
Knowing he still had a woman in his life meant nothing to Victoria. She would love Idris even if he was married to a thousand women. Her adoration of him was that fierce.
She felt the heat of his mouth on her back and smiled. “I’ll miss you,” she told him.
“You know where to find me,” he responded, pulling her back into his arms
They made love one last time before she returned to her children. She soon discovered she was pregnant, and sent word to Idris. At this time she was struggling with her husband’s lawyers over his wealth. The pregnancy was well hid until she wrung herself out of the marriage. She took the boys back to Nigeria and started them up in school. Idris made her a board member of his milling company and got her a house of her own in Lagos where he visited her frequently. She had no desire to be married to him. At least, not immediately. She was weary from two failed marriages and wary of getting into a third.
Bianca was born and left in Idris’ care when her mother suffered an embolism that led to her death just hours after her birth. Idris then brought her home to Victoria who also had Munachi a month later. With five children between them and a growing empire, Idris and Victoria became best of friends and lovers on the occasion.
The years were kind on them, passing by gently without troubles, until Bianca disappeared a few days after her eighth birthday, shattering Idris’ sanity. Victoria and Idris had been on a business trip outside the country when it happened. They abandoned the business at hand and flew back to Nigeria. The first person they contacted was Captain himself who made it clear that he was responsible for Bianca’s disappearance.
“I’ve come for what I’d say I would take,” he told both parents, unruffled.
“You took my daughter?” Idris asked in a quiet voice.
“I can’t tell you, but be rest assured that she’s in good hands.”
Idris showed no warning signs before he reached across the table with his fist and threw it into Captain’s face. But Captain was faster, and having received the assault, pounced up in the same breath, pinned Idri’s tall frame to his table and put a revolver to his head.
“You try that next time, you’ll be the one disappearing from the face of the earth.”
“Luke, please,” Victoria pleaded.
“I’ll kill you!” Idris threatened. “I’ll fucking kill you!”
“You won’t be the first to try. There’s a long line. Please, join it. Hopefully it’ll get to your turn before you’re dead.”
“Luke, put the gun down,” Victoria’s voice was firm. Captain sheathed his weapon and let Idris free.
“Where is my daughter?!” Idris shouted, jerking Captain by the collar, pushing him and his chair backwards. “What have you done to her?!”
“I won’t warn you again, Bahago. Take your hands off me.”
Idris held on a while longer before letting go.
“I’ll go to the police! To the press! The whole world will know!” Idris threatened as he made his way back to the other end of the table.
“The whole world will also be pleased to know that you’re responsible for the deaths of four men, including your father. This was how many years ago? Yeah. I recall that incident. Wealthy men in government and industry, dropped dead like flies, men who used to be in the same fraternity with you. You had a fallout with them and they ended up dead.”
“Luke, you wouldn’t do that,” Victoria said. “And we all know you were responsible for those deaths.”
“Me? I did nothing. Your man here was guilty of everything. I have proof that leads all the way back to him. So, go ahead and call the police and the press, Bahago, and then wait to see the new twist that takes place.”
Idris was stunned. Captain pulled his chair forward and sat on it once more.
“If anything happens to my daughter…”
“She’ll be fine. Bianca is… She’s one of a kind.”
Idris stormed out of the office.
“What is wrong with you? That girl is his favorite child. How can you be this heartless, Luke? What if someone took your sons? How would you feel?”
“This isn’t about me or Idris. It’s bigger than all of us.”
“She is just eight years old. She’s a baby.”
“She’s fine, Vicky. I assure you that she’ll come back to you in one piece.”
“I don’t know. But she will be back.”
Victoria’s eyes clouded over with tears as she went on her feet. “I shouldn’t have come to you. I should have known it’ll end like this. How do I console him? And the other children, how do they deal with this loss? Why have you brought pain to my family?”
Captain left his chair and went to her. “Please, don’t cry.”
“Don’t touch me.” She moved backwards. “Don’t you dare touch me. You’re a vile, heartless man, Luke. And God! I wish I never knew you.”
Victoria spun around and made for the door. She ignored his calls for her to stay. When she got into the car where Idris had been waiting, she put her hand on his lap.
“I’ll do something about this.”
He looked at her, and then away. She ordered the chauffeur to take them home.
The next episode drops in an hour.