Forever and For Always 10 pt 2

PRESENT DAY

“Are you dressed, Zora?” Ezinne called at her daughter from behind the door.

“I’ll be done in a bit, mom.” was Azora’s reply.

“Alright dear, I’ll be in the kitchen with Aunt Rachel, you’ll set the dinner table when you’re done right?”

“Yup mom, I will.”

“Alright.” Ezinne muttered making her way carefully down to the kitchen. She wasn’t much use to anyone, so she’d just gotten herself dressed in preparation for the occasion. Rachel had picked out the outfit as Ezinne didn’t really care what she wore these days. Rachel had put herself in charge of that department and Ezinne was fine with it. Left for her she’d put on one of her plain and simple caftans but Rachel had insisted on a knee length form fitting gown which was hidden in the back of her closet because she’d never worn it. What was the point in looking good, when she couldnt see herself or appreciate how she looked?

What she wouldnt give to have her eyesight back, she thought just as she stumbled upon something.

“Ow!” She cursed silently stooping to pick the offending object. A shoe, definitely Azora’s, what in the world could her daughter’s shoe be doing in the hall? She needed to have another lecture with her on putting her things away properly. From time to time she seemed to forget that she had a blind mother and in order not to injure herself, things needed to be in their proper places.

Shoe in hand, she continued to the kitchen where the evidence of Rachel’s work assaulted the air. Rachel was a fabulous cook and never hesitated in showing it off, Ezinne wondered what in the world she would do without her friend. What would happen if her friend ever got married, she wondered.

Before her marriage to Ekene, Ezinne had been useless in the kitchen. She’d grown up with maids and housekeepers that took care of everything. Even while married to Ekene, she had never lifted a finger in the house nor had she even worked for a living. Ekene had not consented it, she had been a stay at home trophy wife, looking good for him, attending functions and taking care of her daughter, all the while enduring verbal, emotional and physical abuse from him.

They had been returning from a function that fateful night the accident had occurred. during the party Ekene had downed one too many glasses of alcohol as usual. He’d dragged her to a corner and accused her of flirting with the men in the room,  some people had tried to intervene but that had just gotten him more angry. He’d ordered her into the car, dragging her in roughly. It had been a very humiliating night, she hated to recall it.

“Hey, you’re set?” Rachel said as she stepped into the kitchen

“Yeah” She replied “the lovely smell from the kitchen has been assaulting my nostrils for a while now, I had to come down and see for myself. It all smells so good as usual.”

“Well, I do aim to please and you do look stunning yourself, wow, that gown does justice to your figure.”

Ezine hissed “Like anyone will notice my figure. Please keep this shoe for Zora, the girl seems to forget to stash her things away in the right places, one of these days I might break my hip from stepping on her stuff.”

Rachel laughed but came and took the offending shoe from her “Why do you think no one would notice your figure? In a dress like that Stevens will definitely be looking all night.”

“Stevens?” Ezinne asked wonderingly. Why would he be looking at her?

“Yeah, Stevens, his gaze follows you around all the time when you are in the room.” Rachel revealed and Ezinne was surprised. This was definitely news to her but knowing Rachel, she was probably over blowing a few stares Stevens had probably given her. She was blind, it was quite normal for people to stare.

“And you know this after you’ve only seen once us together just once.”

“Ezinne, I saw all I needed to see that one time. His eyes were on you all through, and there was a sort of tension between him and Emeka. Some sort of male territorial tension thingy.”

Ezinne pulled out a chair, shaking her head she asked ” Tension? Really? Could you be any more Telemundo, are you even hearing yourself?”

“Yeah Ezinne. I’m serious, there’s something between those two and it isn’t friendly. I think he might have a thing for you and Emeka might suspect….”

“Oh please Rachel, you and your over active imagination, I only just met the guy how many weeks back?”

“Ezinne,” Rachel called “think about it, look at all he’s done  for you, why do you think he’s doing all this?”

Ezinne shrugged trying to explain to Rachel what it was really about as her friend was being ridiculous, “Well, he might just appreciate the work we are doing here and wants to help out…and he’s not doing it for me, it’s for the centre.”

She heard her friend hiss, “yeah, right…. anyway, I know what I saw, there was something about the way he stared at you…something in his eyes…like the look of a man that wants a woman in an intimate way, you understand?”

“Rachel!” Ezinne screeched shocked at her friend and Rachel chuckled.

“Why do you appear shocked? Is it so difficult to imagine a guy wanting you? You look really good, you know?”

“Rachel, I’m quite sure you are reading more into it than it is, I just met the guy not too long ago for crying out loud…how can he now begin ‘wanting’ me so soon?” She made air quotes at ‘wanting’ to draw emphasis at it’s ridiculousness.

“I’m the one with the eyes, Ezinne and I have quite sharp eyes, you yourself know I do. His eyes were all over you and you wore those snug fitting pants that accentuated you….um, curvy lower parts at the back.”

Ezinne silently vowed never to wear those pants ever again, if it would get men looking at her in that manner.

“You should feel good, not shocked Ezinne. If his eyes weren’t on you the way it was, I might have made a play for him myself.”

“Rachel!” Ezinne was shocked again.

“What? The guy is fine, as in smoking hot and he’s got class. Both times I’ve met him, he’s always well coiffed. His watch, clothes, shoes, car are all expensive and his cologne….” Rachel inhaled lightly“hmmm, he scents so divine. It’s hard to believe he’s a journalist, I wonder where he’s got the money because I doubt journalists are that well paid and then he’s got that driver who obviously looks more like his personal security guard. He is more like some very important person than an ordinary journalist. Maybe his family is important or something…well I just might ask such questions tonight, I would really like to know the guy who has an interest in you.”

Ezinne shook her head at how her friend’s imagination ran wild. “Just remember I have a fiance, whatever you do, please dont give Stevens the impression that I entertain feelings for him. “

“Please! I still will never get why you are with that guy. You could do so much better.”

“Rachel stop it.” Ezinne was quite pissed now. She hated Rachel’s consistent jabs at the man she was dating.

“Stop what? I seriously do not get it…. If you could only see this guy, Moji Stevens, you would dump your Emeka in a second.”

“Well unlike you I am not moved by material things…Isn’t that why you are still single, waiting for the highest bidder? Will anyone ever be rich enough for you?” Ezinne countered.

She heard her friend gasp and Ezinne knew she had probably gone too far.

“Is this really what you think about me Ezinne? Really after all these years you believe I’m that shallow?”

“I’m sorry…”Ezinne started but Rachel cut her off.

“Don’t bother apologising Ezinne, it’s out there already and you can’t take it back.”

“Rachel, you know that’s not what I think of you…. you do so much for me and Azora, if you weren’t selfless there’s no way you would have stuck with us these past years. I’m so sorry please.”

Rachel didn’t reply and Ezinne knew she must be deeply hurt. Rachel hardly ever got hurt but when she did, it wasn’t pretty. It would take a few days probably for her to get over it.

Before Ezinne could talk again, the doorbell rang.

“Got it.” Azora called out from the living room.

“Rachel, we are entertaining tonight, we don’t need a fight now.” Ezinne tried again.

“Maybe you should have thought about that before you called me a gold digging greedy woman.”

“That’s not what I meant and you know it.”

“Do I?”

“Rachel please.” She said before she heard the footsteps approaching the kitchen. It was him, Stevens, she’d subconsciously committed to mind how his feet tapped lightly but brisk against the tiled floor, he was early, too early.

“Hi?” He said as he came in.

“Hi yourself, you’re early,” Rachel said, Ezinne could hear the smile in her voice and wondered if it were real or fake. It had to be fake, she couldn’t have gotten over Ezinne’s insult that quickly but she probably didn’t want to let it ruin dinner. Ezinne managed to paste a smile on her own face also.

“Yeah, I was quite bored with nothing to do so I decided to just come over. Hope its no bother?”

“Not at all,” replied Rachel “You know you are very welcome in our home considering all what you’ve done for us?”

“Its really not a problem.” He replied “Are you alright, Madam? You’re quiet.”

Ezinne realised he was talking to her but before she could reply Rachel butt in “Yes, of course she’s fine…probably slipped into her dreamy world for a bit.” She giggled enjoying her joke but Ezinne didn’t feel it was funny.

Ezinne spoke up finally. “I’m fine Mr. Stevens, please call me Ezinne.”

“Then you must also call me Moji or better still M.J, I brought wine…not sure if you ladies were alcoholics or teetotalers so I brought both.”

Rachel laughed telling him she was an alcoholic while Ezinne didn’t touch alcohol but Ezinne barely heard them anymore, her heart had skipped a beat when he’d mentioned his name as M.J.

It was suddenly too much for her, how could this man who sounded so very much like Mofe actually share the same short name he did. She’d recalled that feeling she’d had the first day they had met, when their hands had touched. She had tried not to think much of it but what were the odds that she would feel it with this stranger who also happened to be M.J?

She suddenly felt dizzy, was he really Mofe pretending to be someone else? What could his game be? Why would he put her through this torture? But he’d done so much for her, He should hate her and not help her, so how could this be him?

“Ezinne, are you okay?” she heard him asking. “You look pale all of a sudden.”

“Yeah Ezinne, what is it?” Rachel asked, the concern evident in her voice.

“Nothing,” she said quickly, too quick. She forced her voice to be light as she got up from the chair, she didn’t feel too good  and needed some space to think. “I feel a little tired, I think I need to rest, I didn’t have much sleep last night and I’m quite useless in here anyway. Let me know when to come down for dinner.”

They were both quiet as she took her leave but she heard him ask” Is she going to be okay?”

Ezinne had never told Rachel about Mofe, so Rachel had naturally assumed the child had been Ekene’s. Only her friends from school Dara, Uduak and knew the true story, then of course there was her father. She should have told Rachel the truth, she had planned to but had never gotten around to it.

“Hey mom, I’m almost done setting the dinner table.” Azora called from the dining room.

“Alright dear, good job. I’ll be up in my room for a while.” Ezinne managed as calmly as she could even though she was feeling anything but.

She needed to talk to someone about this but she didn’t want to disturb any of her friends especially if it was nothing but a false alarm. If he was Mofe, by now he would have suspected Azora was his, she had taken after him in looks, complexion and even in height. The girl was so tall for her age that Ezinne prayed she wouldn’t also end up being Six foot Seven like her biological father.

Even though she had been blind for a few years now, Ezinne still recalled her daughter’s face vividly, her features most especially her eyes were a dead give away and then there was the birth mark. If nothing else, that birthmark on her right hand near the wrist, same one he had would show even a skeptic that she was indeed his daughter.

There was no way he could have found out about his daughter and would be acting so cool and unperturbed about it. There was just no way. Maybe she was just overreacting, she really needed that nap.

*********

“Is she going to be fine?” Mofe asked Rachel as he watched Ezinne’s retreating figure, there was something really off about her. He had seen her features go ashen when he’d said he preferred to be called MJ.

Maybe he shouldn’t have done that, his name might have triggered something in her. He didn’t like keeping his identity a secret and was going to have to tell her one of these days. He wanted to avoid a situation where Ezinne would go into cardiac arrest when he revealed who he was and from her reaction just now that was probably what would happen if he did.

Maybe it was a good thing she had reacted this way as it meant she had a suspicion who he might be. This charade was going too far and he didn’t like it, the sooner he came clean, the sooner he could have a chance at knowing his daughter. He silently purposed that the next time she told him to come clean, he was going to. The sooner he did that, the sooner he could get what was rightfully his.

She’s alright.” Rachel brushed off his worry returning to the vegetables she had been shredding before his arrival. “She probably didn’t have enough sleep last night.”

Mofe raised a brow at this news, “why? “

“She was up late preparing lesson notes, you know she has extra classes to take and all.”

“She hasn’t employed additional staff?”

“Yeah. Afraid so…according to her ‘boyfriend’,” she made air quotes at ‘boyfriend’ “we still don’t have the funds.”

“Hmmmm,” was his reply as he thought about it. He had to get rid of that fraud real soon. In just a few days Mofe Had gotten everything he needed to sink the guy and was going to expose him for who he really was very soon.

“Anyway, even when she manages to sleep it’s quite restless.”

He frowned again, concerned at this news. “Restless, how?” He asked quite sharply getting a curious glance from Rachel.

He mentally kicked himself at showing too much emotion, for a second he had forgotten himself, he felt the need to explain his over reaction “I..I just …”

Rachel smiled holding up a hand, “it’s okay, I know you are concerned about her, it’s all over you.”

Now what did she mean by that and why was she smiling sheepishly?

“I don’t know the full story as she likes to keep some part of her life personal but from the little I know, she’s had a few rough years, her marriage had serious issues and then the accident where she lost her husband and her eyesight…” she paused with a sigh, “it couldn’t have been easy for her, when she first came here she was a mess and had it not been for her daughter, she might have taken her own life. My late mother and I tried our best until she became quite normal and then we all became quite close and she decided to work here. Ezinne is a very caring, selfless woman,it’s just too bad she has a brute for a father. I once met the man and goodness knows once was once too many.

She never speaks about him, Azora doesn’t even have an idea she has a grand dad, that’s how much she hates the old man.”

There were definitely no surprises there, the old man was indeed difficult but Rachel wasn’t done.

“I think the old man forced her into marrying someone she didn’t like and it all went downhill from there. He had been difficult to live with, physically, verbally and emotionally abusive to her. He was an alcoholic, threatening to have her killed if she ever left him.”

“Really?” He asked taking it all in, she’d gone through all that? Ekene had been a piece of work, he’d known something was off with the guy but not this and her father had just let it go on? He really shouldn’t surprised by her father’s actions, the man had cared more about his status in society than his daughter.

“Yeah, really.” Rachel replied, “if you ask me, I would say the accident was a good thing because it freed her from the animal. She still has nightmares about the accident, although it’s sort of reduced now.”

So she was haunted, just as he had been all these years. “What exactly happened to her eyes?”

“Well, according to a specialist, damage was done to her optic nerve. And her sight is permanently gone. I can’t begin to explain how she felt when she was given the news. One can’t imagine how it feels, to just up and lose one’s eye sight just like that… I know I can’t even though my own mother was also visually impaired for years. It’s a cruel thing not to be able to see one’s own kid. She often runs her hands over Zora’s face and I wonder if it helps, if there is a way she can somehow see her face in her mind by running her hands over it.It’s sad, no one deserves such.”

No one did indeed, Mofe suddenly felt a need to kill Ekene again even if he was already dead.

“Are you sure it’s permanent? You know how these local specialists can be.”

Rachel shrugged “My mom wanted to send the scans and results to a foreign specialist but Ezinne didn’t want anymore money wasted on her. She said she didn’t want to have her hopes raised and then dashed. You should know how she can be sometimes.”

Mofe rolled his eyes, he knew very well how she could be.

She was just so damn stubborn sometimes, she should have had a second opinion from someone else probably better qualified.

“Since then, she has learnt to embrace it and take it a day at a time and here we are. She’s been really brave, strong and a good friend to have…. when she loves, she loves with all her heart.”

Well, he wasn’t sure about that, she had been in love with him, at least he’d thought she was until she had moved on without him so easily.

“So why do you think she was forced into marriage? What if it had been her choice to be hitched to the guy? Did she tell you she had been forced into it?”

“Not exactly.. but I have heard her talking about it to some of her friends?”

“You eavesdrop on her conversation?” He asked not forgetting he himself had eavesdropped on her a few weeks back.

“Well…is it my fault when she is on the phone and I am in the house also? Anyway,” she brushed his grievances aside “it seems there was some other guy she was in love with and he left her suddenly, she was heartbroken and then her father forced her to marry this guy for the sake of his business or something…. that’s the best I could surmise from my eavesdropping.”

Mofe pursed his lips, if she had been so heartbroken why hadn’t she reached out to him? He wondered.

“You like her, don’t you?..I see the way you look at her.” Rachel asked him suddenly.

“Like her?…Goodness no!..I’m just curious,that’s all.” He said quickly.

She gave him a look that said she didn’t believe him “Sure.”

“Seriously! I’m even engaged to someone else so I can’t like her.” He said again hoping to quell Rachel’s absurd idea.

Rachel turned to him, surprise on her face as she raised a brow, pausing on the vegetables she was slicing she wanted to speak but before Zora’s timely appearance stopped her.

“I’m done with the table…. is there anything else you want me to help out with, Aunt Rachel?”

“Nope, all I’ve got left are these  veggies but you aren’t old enough for that.”

“Okay then guess I will just sit and watch you.” She said and Mofe wondered what a perfectly mannered girl she was. Suddenly he felt like the mannerless one, gossiping about Ezinne while Rachel did all the work.

“I could help with the veggies.” He spoke up

Rachel gave him another surprised look “you know how to shred veggies?

He scoffed, “of course I can,don’t look at me like that.”

“Yeah Aunt Rachel, it’s not rocket science.” Azora chipped in suddenly, making both of them laugh.

“What do you know about rocket science, young lady?” Rachel asked her

She shrugged her scrawny shoulders, a mischievous smile on her oval shaped face, and it was unmistakable that she was indeed his daughter. “I don’t know, it’s something people say.”

“So you are just going to say something without knowing its meaning?” Rachel asked her before turning to him “lemme get you an apron, that shirt looks too nice to have tomato stains on it.”

Mofe turned to his daughter as Rachel went off in search of an apron, “if you would like to know more about rocket science, I could get you a small tablet, install some apps to teach you on the subject.”

The little girl’s eyes widened, “seriously? A tab, wow? I wished for one my last birthday along with another wish but both never came true.”

“Well I guess one wish just came true.” He told her.

“Wow, thats awesome!” She exclaimed, grinning widely and jumping up from her seat. “I guess my second wish just might come to pass also.”

He wished he could know what she wished for,he was ready to bring all heavens down for her and make all her wishes come through, he didn’t care if he would be spoiling her, that was the least of his issues.

Rachel came back into the room, apron in hand “why do you look so happy, Zora?”

“Uncle…Uncle MJ just promised to get me a tablet, you know I wished for one on my birthday, Aunt Rachel.”

“Wow, MJ, that’s a bit much don’t you think?”

“It’s no problem at all, it’s never too early to begin training a future rocket scientist, is it?” He asked with a playful wink at his daughter.

“No, it’s not.” Azora supplied.

Rachel pursed her lips at her “well, okay, I’m sure your mom wouldn’t mind but nothing expensive.”

“Sure.”Mofe replied already knowing he would get her the best money could buy but probably a seven inch one so Rachel wouldn’t think it was too big or too expensive.

The glow on Zora’s face was priceless and he wished he knew what her second wish had been so he could also make it come true.

Rachel handed him his veggies, a chopping board and a knife just before  the doorbell rang.

Azora dashed out of the kitchen to answer it.

“Expecting someone else?” He asked.

“Nope.”

“Its Uncle Emmie!” Azora called and Rachel rolled her eyes.

“I should have known Ezinne would tell him.” Rachel said rolling her eyes.

Mofe smiled as he began cutting his vegetables, there certainly was no love lost between Rachel and Ezinne’s fraudulent lover. Little did she know that Emeka’s days as a guest to their house were numbered.

 

********

 

Mofe smiled as he watched his daughter struggle with the latest riddle he’d asked her. Dinner had gone really well, the food had been tasty, he understood Rachel was something of a caterer and loved showing off her skills. Well it had been worth showing off but the only downside to dinner was Ezinne’s fiance who had showed up unannounced and uninvited it seemed.

He didn’t say much but he regarded Mofe suspiciously, Mofe didn’t hide his own dislike for him. The guy was a lying thieving bastard , Mofe had found everything he needed to know about the fraud and his days were definitely numbered as business manager and lover to Ezinne. Mofe had decided to save Ezinne from whatever pain the news would cause her and instead tell the guy to resign and quit the relationship for his own good without involving Rachel and Ezinne. He was quite sure the guy was smart enough to know when he was cornered.

They were relaxing now, drinking red wine as Zora tried to figure the riddles he asked her. She was a smart kid and he loved her tinkling girlish laugh. How Ezinne could have let him miss out on so much, how could she have been so cruel?

“Mom can you help me out here? I can’t think of anything that has a single eye except a cyclops.”

Mofe chuckled ” A cyclops sees with its eye, my question was what has a single eye but cannot see.”

“But of what use is an eye if you can’t see with it?” She asked him in return.

“Good question.” Ezinne muttered dryly drawing an unexpected chuckle from both Mofe and surprisingly Emeka also.

“Well thats not the question.”mife said

“Mom, are you helping?” Zora asked of her mother.

“Sorry dear, you are on your own on this.”

“Just give up and I’ll tell you.” Mofe tried to help out, she had been battling with it for quite a while now.

She shook her head, “no way, I will figure it out…..just give me a while to think.” She got up as she said this and made for the kitchen, Rachel was in the kitchen.

“If Aunt Rachel tells you the answer, then you’re disqualified,” he called after her.

“I’m not asking her, I’m going to think.” She called back.

“I think she might be going to google it.” Rachel supplied coming out of the kitchen with her glass of wine. He had offered her help with the dishes but she had declined. “She just took my phone and ran upstairs with it.”

Well, he wasn’t going to stop her, he preferred her to search for the answer than to have it handed to her.

“So Mr. Stevens, can you say what it is you really do?” Emeka suddenly asked sitting up, he’d hardly said a word all evening and now he wanted to cross examine him?

“He is a writer, a journalist.” Rachel replied before Mofe could reply.

“I asked him and not you Rachel.”

“Yeah and I didn’t think he needed to waste his time answering when you already knew…..” Rachel retorted caustically

“Guys?” Ezinne cautioned.

“I was just wondering how well the career of journalist paid, so much that you could afford a Range Rover SUV and a personal bodyguard.” Emeka spoke up again ignoring Ezinne.

“Well, you can keep wondering because it’s not exactly your business.” Rachel supplied again. “I dont see how your questions would help our dying centre, you say you cannot spare money to repair this place because we have loans to pay off, loans which I’m not even aware we took.”

“Maybe if you weren’t so busy cooking you and paid some attention to the centre you would know.”

“Well, here I am now and I would love to know how we incurred such heavy debts, if you would care to explain?”

Emeka laughed “This isn’t the place or time.”

“Why not? We’re all here.”

“Rachel please,” Ezinne finally spoke up.”We have a guest.”

“Well, I actually wouldn’t mind knowing also.” Mofe surprised everyone by saying “The reason behind getting that deal with Techbits was so you could renovate this place not spend everything paying imaginary loans that suddenly appeared out of nowhere.”

“My point exactly!” Rachel agreed.  

Emeka regarded him coolly for a second before speaking “Mr. Stevens you might have helped get the deal but the running of this place is none of your concern. Ezinne is confident in my capabilities as business manager.” He said with a confident smirk on his features.

“Guys, please.” Ezinne tried again.

Mofe ignored her again, the liars overconfident smirk seriously irritated him, he hadn’t planned to do this here but he just couldn’t stand the fraud anymore.

“I’m sure Ezinne wouldn’t be confident in your capabilities once she learns of your wife and two kids and how you have been siphoning every money you can into your private accounts.”

The sudden shock on Emeka’s face was priceless, everyone was speechless. After five seconds of silence, Emeka finally gave off an uneasy laugh “Your joke isn’t funny man.”

Do I look like I’m laughing?” Mofe asked him back, holding his stare, he saw a sudden fear and realization dawn on the man. He had been caught and he couldn’t lie his way out this time, but Mofe was sure he would try.

“What are you talking about Mr. Stevens?” Rachel asked, she seemed to have recovered before Ezinne who was still in shock and looked quite confused.

Mofe sat forward, intending to explain it all carefully. “The last time I was here, Ezinne tolđ me that Emeka here said renovations couldn’t be made because there were outstanding loans to be paid off, well that didn’t go down well with me and I decided to do some investigations. I found out Mr. Emeka here is actually a business Manager true, but as he has no one here to look over his shoulder,no one monitoring him and so he’s let himself freely move money around from your accounts, Ezinne into his. … While you wallow in near Bankruptcy, Emeka’s accounts are being fed by your money, isn’t that so Emeka?”

“You are crazy, you are telling lies!” He screeched at the top of his voice, jumping off the seat. “I don’t know who you think you are, you bastard but I will not be here and watch you insult me. Lies, you’re telling lies!”

“Am I? And how about your wife of twelve years now, how would she feel if she heard you’d befriended a poor blind lady, even made her your fiancee, promising her marriage while you stole her money and to take care of your real wife and put your kids in the best schools in the state?”

“Where’s your proof?” His voice wasn’t so loud anymore as he was clasping at straws, Mofe saw the fear his eyes

“Just give me a moment, I have everything you need in the car, let me just call my driver to get it for me…” Mofe got up from the seat about approaching the door when Emeka got up abruptly.

” I will not sit here and take this trash from you.”

“Emeka,” Ezinne called as she also got up, her voice faint she asked “Are you married?”

“I’m not married!”

“Really?” Mofe asked him. “You are still going to lie, look Emeka, let me lay it out like this…… if you come out clean now, I will take it easy on you…if you tell Ezinne here the truth, I will take it easy on you…. I won’t press charges and you’ll even be free to go with your loot but if you insist on lying, I will take you to the cleaners. You will pay every single cent you stole and more even, then you will end up in jail for fraud…. your family without their thieving breadwinner, What’s it going to be?”

The man held Mofe’s gaze, hatred filled but Mofe wasn’t bothered, he was putting an end to this rubbish once and for all.

“Who are you” Emeka asked.

“What’s it going to be?” Mofe repeated

“Emeka…?” Ezinne questioned

“Ezinne…” Emeka began but his gaze was still trained on Mofe.

“Are you married or not and have you been stealing the centre’s funds?”Mofe asked.

Emeka sighed, now looking away “Yes, I am married but I didn’t steal, I was only borrowing to pay back in….”

“Get out!” Ezinne snapped quietly

“Ezinne, I….”he tried.

“Get out right now!” She yelled suddenly that even Rachel jumped.

“Please just listen….”

Rachel intervened now ” You heard her, get out, and don’t show your sorry self here ever again or we’ll involve the police.”

Emeka took his leave but not without one last long look at Mofe. His eyes held hatred but Mofe wasn’t scared, he knew Emeka’s type, he had dealt with worse.

Mofe heard footsteps coming down the stairs and he guessed Azora had heard all the drama. Ezinne heard her also.

“Rachel,” She said calmly, her face set as stone as she looked in his direction “Take Azora and leave for a while please, I want to talk with….. Mr. Stevens.”

“But…”

“Now Rachel.” She clipped.

Rachel exchanged perplexed looks with him before getting up and leaving the room. He didn’t know why but Mofe sensed for some reason Ezinne was also really pissed with him.

“Ezinne I…” He tried to speak but she raised a hand halting him until the door closed behind Rachel and Azora.”

She began “So… you kept tabs on Emeka, how?.. No , don’t answer. You mentioned having records of his account dealings in your car and I wonder how you got that. The last time you were in my office, I left you alone for a while, I remember Emeka had left his computer in there. You left so suddenly after I got back that I knew something was off but I wasn’t sure what, when I touched the laptop, I realized you left the screen up and it wasn’t in the original position I had left it……  I knew you had touched it but chose not to think much of it just as how I have chosen not to think much about your miraculous appearance here….I should have known…My instincts told me ….. but I refused to believe it.

You came at a time I was about to go under and began turning things around for me, I thought you were an angel, heaven sent but I was wrong… you are no angel, are you? No, you’re mere man, are you not….Mofe?”

She knew. And something deep down told him this time nothing would convince her otherwise.

There was no point in prolonging the inevitable, it was time to come clean. Inhaling deeply, he replied. “Yes, it’s me.”

******

Peju

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