Mofe got down from the back seat of the SUV just as his aunt’s car arrived, parking beside his.
They were outside the gates of the rehab centre which Ezinne managed. He had invited his aunt over knowing only she could get through to Ezinne.
The two had always gotten along all those years ago. Ezinne was comfortable with his aunt, she respected and held her in high regards, he knew she would listen to her.
He recalled how quickly they had both taken a liking to each other all those years back. His aunt hadn’t understood why they had broken up, she had advised him to make up with her. He had tried to reach out to her but hadn’t been able to as she had disappeared. He had then gotten angry at how she could stay away, if he hadn’t anything to her, she could have also reached out to him.
If only he had known that she had.
He sighed now remembering how weak he had been to have given into her father’s proposal. He had sold out on his love.
His aunt had never said it but he knew she blamed him for the relationship going south. Well, she might be right about that but he sure as hell wasn’t to blame for being kept out of his daughter’s life. That was all on Ezinne and she would pay dearly for it.
The driver of the Audi Q7, came out, quickly bowing his greeting at him before opening the rear door for his aunt to exit.
“Ma mi, ” he greeted as he also bowed slightly. “Thankyou for coming.”
“Like I had a choice in the matter.” She muttered, her features stiff. ” I don’t understand you kids of these days… But I blame you, Mofe, you and your lies and deception…. I don’t blame her for keeping her daughter from you because goodness only knows your true intentions.”
Gosh, she was still really pissed with him ” But…. she is my daughter also, I just want the best for her…I just want to know my daughter.”
His aunt fixed him with one of those her stares, as if trying to read his true intentions and he was afraid she would see everything.
“Look Mofe, the day you hurt Ezinne again, that is the day I will stop being your mother.” She told him with a warning glare.
“Ah.” He was shocked at her sudden pronouncement. “Ma mi.”
” I don’t understand all of you, you and Eric… I hate to think I failed at bringing you two up properly…. I don’t know where you both turned into liars and deceptive people.”
“So you are not going to blame Ezinne? This is just Eric’s and my fault?”
“Are you Ezinne?” She asked him and he kept quiet.
” It’s you I am talking to right now not Ezinne…so instead of blaming others, look at yourself and see what you yourself did wrong and avoid making such mistakes again.”
” I repeat, do something to her again and I will give you the cold shoulder, just as you are giving Eric.” She warned him wagging her finger in his face before making her way into the compound ahead of him.
Mofe followed behind quietly. He told himself she was just speaking out of anger, she couldn’t disown him. Even if she did for a while, he knew his aunt, she would get over it eventually.
Ezinne chose to remain on her knees as she pleaded and begged forgiveness from Mofe’s aunt.
She held onto the older woman’s hands as she lay her head on her knees, her tears drenching the older woman’s fabric.
She had said it was okay but it really wasn’t, Ezinne was wrecked with guilt. Mofe might have wronged her but not Aunty Moni, the woman had done nothing to her.
“Mummy, I am so sorry for my actions….. I just thought you all didn’t want me especially after all Eric had said, so I just decided to stay away and not disturb you… I beg you to please forgive me for what I did, I am so sorry.”
“It’s okay, Ezinne. I forgive you, please calm yourself…you don’t need to exert yourself this way. All we want to do is move forward from it all. Please Ezinne, you need to sit down, please.” Aunty Moni said.
“No, I am very okay here…” Ezinne managed to reply between sobs. She insisted on kneeling down.
“Ezinne, please, your blood pressure, you need to calm down.” Rachel said.
“Ezinne Please,” Aunty Moni cajoled pulling her up and she let herself be lifted.
She sat down beside her and someone pushed a tissue into her hand, she guessed it was Rachel. She dabbed at her wet eyes and struggled to compose herself but she still felt horrible within her.
“Ezinne, I have nothing against you, we all had a hand in this, even myself….. I am disappointed in my
sons and how they treated you…I only just learnt of all that transpired all those years ago but let’s not go into all that.
Let’s move forward, I am here because Mofe tells me you are keeping him from his daughter….now that isn’t fair Ezinne. Mofe grew up without his parents and although he had me, I am beginning to think maybe I hadn’t been enough for him….Maybe if there had been a father figure in his and Eric’s lives, all this foolishness would have been averted. Is that how you want to feel? Or is that how you want your daughter to grow? The child needs both her parents… also if you keep her from Mofe, you are indirectly keeping her from me. Is that what you want? To also deny me privileges to my own grandchild?”
Ezinne shook her head, dabbing at her eyes with the tissue paper, she had gained some control over her emotions. ” Aunty Moni, I understand you but I just don’t trust Mofe, I suspect he plans to take her from me…. That’s the reason I don’t want him close to her.”
Mofe who was standing quietly by the exit scoffed. She heard him and turned her head in his direction.
“If I’d wanted to, I would have done so already.” He said.
“Hush Mofe, you will speak when I ask you to, other than that just keep it shut.” His aunt instructed before turning back to her. “As long as I am still alive and and he still calls me mother, he will do no such thing. He has forgiven you just as I have, all he wants is to have a chance in his daughter’s life. Can you just try to trust him? I am here to vouch for him that he will not take her from you.”
Ezinne listened, Mofe she knew years back would never go against his aunt’s wishes but this new Mofe was different. He was independent, powerful and she doubted he answered to anyone anymore but she couldn’t refuse an elder’s wishes. She would just have to go along with it.
She nodded, “but we can’t just spring it up on her, that he is her father, we need to give her time, give them some time together. “
” Sure, Sure.” Aunty Moni agreed. “Of course, he knows this… We will all take it one day at a time.”
“I also have some few requests of my own.” He spoke up.
Ezinne’s hand must have tightened on his Aunt’s because she spoke up, cajoling her. “It’s okay dear, just listen to him first.”
Taking a deep breath, she nodded.
” I want to be welcomed whenever I am around, not talked to or treated rudely, or even insulted…by anyone.” He began crisply and Ezinne had a feeling he was referring to Rachel.
” I would like to relate freely with my daughter anytime I am here, Not be watched over by a chaperone and I would love to provide for her whatever I deem necessary. “
Ezinne spoke up now, “You will be free to relate with her but you have to run things by me first before doing them. You are free to provide for her but only after you have told me about it and I have agreed.” Ezinne countered.
“Fair enough.” He said. “One other thing, as I am planning a renovation of this place, I would like you to move out of your living quarters to temporary accommodations which I have made provisions for.”
Ezinne frowned, not sure she had heard right. “Excuse me … did you just say I have to move out of my home?”
“More like disaster haven.” He muttered.
It was probably meant to be funny but she didn’t see the humour. ” I am not moving out of anywhere, let your renovations include me living in here.” She snapped.
” I plan to tear down the place, the structure is not sound anymore. The place has gone so long without repairs, we have to bring it down and build something better.”
“Tear down what?” She screeched. “You can’t tear down my house! Not without my consent.”
“Okay, maybe I should invite people from the ministry to take a look and mark it for demolition?”
“Hey hey, Mofe and Ezinne! Quiet now!” Aunty Moni thundered and they both shut up but Ezinne couldn’t help but add something.
“Aunty, you see how he threatens me so easily? That’s who he has become, always threatening and trying to scare me, I won’t put up with it.”
” Mofe, watch how you talk to her.” She cautioned him before squeezing her hand and speaking to her. “But Ezinne I have to side with Mofe on this, your house needs work. It’s not safe for you and your daughter. You have to let him do this for her at least.”
Ezinne sighed, she was going to need Rachel’s opinion in this. Rachel had been sitting quietly in the room, quietly observing everything without interfering.
Ezinne turned in her direction. “ I don’t know… Rachel, what do you make of it?”
She spoke up. “This house is far gone Ezinne…I don’t think it’s a bad idea but..I have some news related to this move that we need to discuss…. Maybe in private? Later?”
“i suggest if it’s related in anyway to what we are discussing now, you should come up with it.” Mofe said.
“I agree.” Aunty Moni said just as her phone began ringing. “Goodness, I need to be somewhere else right now.” She exclaimed jumping up from the seat. “Ezinne, I am so sorry. I really wish I could be here through all this but I have an urgent meeting I was scheduled for.”
“It’s okay Mummy, I understand.” Ezinne replied even though she was slightly unsettled that with her leaving, Mofe would assume his annoying self. She still had Rachel anyway, that one could put him in his corner.
“I am so sorry, but you can be sure that Mofe will behave himself.” She said as if reading her thoughts. “Don’t be afraid of him, just let me know if he tries to bully you into anything. I know he won’t anyway.”
Ezinne nodded, “it’s okay ma, thankyou so much.”
“It’s okay, I will call you in the evening.”
With a final squeeze, aunty Moni hands left hers and Ezinne heard her footsteps as she made for the exit.
Ezinne heard a second set of steps and she guessed it was Mofe. The door opened and she heard aunty Moni cautioning him in Yoruba.
“Mofe, So ra e.”
Ezinne was tempted to smile as she deduced she was telling him to behave. She was still same as Ezinne remembered her to be, which was more than she could say for Mofe.
The door closed and he spoke up. “So what did you want to talk about, Rachel?”
”Ezinne..” Rachel began “a space opened in that school I have been applying to for years now…. They have received me on a full scholarship…. It will be great for me but if you will be moving out of here, you’ll need someone to help you get familiar with the new space. You will need someone to take care of you….and I can’t bring myself to leave you.”
“ No, that’s absurd…are you crazy?” Ezinne was appalled “You finally got accepted after three years. You are going, that just means I’m not leaving here.”
“Yes you are.” Mofe added.
“Did you listen to anything she just said? I can’t be alone in a new house, bumping into walls and everything, I need help.”
“I will get you all the help you need, just tell me what you need. Housekeepers, cooks, maids, cleaners, even your personal nurses, I will get as many as you need, just name it.”
“ I don’t think we would need so much staff in a small place……”
“It’s a six bedroom duplex in Maitama…. With another building for the staff.”
Ezinne’s mouth dropped open, he had rented a big house? “What in the world are we going to do with all that space? And how do I even come down here from Maitama?”
“You will have a driver and car. He will also drop off Azora at school in the mornings and pick her at closing.”
“So you’ve got it all planned, haven’t you?”
“Yes. I have because that’s what I do,I plan. Which is also why I will be employing a new, reliable business manager who can take over the running of this place. I’m also talking to some professional medical personnel who can take a look at you and give you a thorough check up.”
“Whoa! Whoa! Check up, what for? There’s nothing wrong with me!” Ezinne protested.
“They’ll just be making sure of that. I hear you have been ill for the past few days, a high blood pressure? You need a doctor to ….”
“I am fine.” Ezinne snapped annoyed. “Just because you have the means to do anything doesn’t mean you can come into my life and up end it!”
“Yes you are! Just because you fathered my daughter doesn’t give you the right to boss me around! I won’t allow it, if I need a doctor I will see one myself.” She yelled.
“Ezinne,” he called softly which surprised her. Mofe was never soft with her, he was always brash and commanding. She heard is footsteps coming approach.
He sat down on the coffee stool close to her sofa. She knew because she could feel that familiar energy between them as they were so close in proximity.
”I just want to know you are okay… if not for yourself, do it for Azora.” His voice was light and cajoling. “Right now, you are all she has and it wouldn’t do if you suddenly fell ill, so let’s just do this for her sake, okay?”
Ezinne sighed, she hated when he sounded like this. It reminded her of the old him and she was powerless against that version of him, she wanted to disagree but couldn’t.
When he spoke up again, it was to Rachel. “Tell her It’s for her own good, Rachel.”
“Hey, this is between you two, count me out of it….” She protested before adding, “but he does have a point, Ezinne. You haven’t been doing too well lately. Maybe you do need a thorough check up.”
She did know he had a good point but she just didn’t want him thinking she needed him for anything at all. She most certainly didn’t need his money, and without his help, she would survive one way or another.
“Okay.” She reluctantly agreed.
“Great, thank you.” He said.
Ezinne wondered what he was thanking her for when it wasn’t like he really cared for her.
“So when are we to move? I have two weeks till resumption.” Rachel said “we have quite a lot of stuff we need to put together.”
“I will take care of the furniture, I have a rented storage space to keep it all….All you will need are your clothes, personal effects, important stuff you’d like to keep close, just so it doesn’t get misplaced….. I guess a few days should be enough to get it all together?”
She heard his phone beep and guessed he had a call coming in.
“Please excuse me.” He said as he got up from the stool, his footsteps retreating, she heard the door open and close behind him.
“Ezinne, are you okay?” Rachel asked concerned coming over to sit beside her where Aunty Monibhad earlier vacated.
“I will be fine Rachel. It’s just, I still feel he is up to something, it’s just a niggling gut feeling. I’m not sure what it could be.” Ezinne said.
“I am so sorry I have to leave you now. I just got the letter of acceptance this morning and before I could talk to you about it, he arrived with his Aunty. Are you sure you will be able to cope without me here for a few months? I can try to defer the admission….”
“Are you crazy? No way! You won’t do any such thing. You have given so much for me already, I won’t let my problems distract you from your career…just leave Mofe to me. I might be blind but I will be cautious with him.”
“You are sure you will be fine?” Rachel asked.
Ezinne nodded, even though she was anything but, she replied. “Sure.”
Mofe looked down at the screen of his phone, quite surprised at seeing the caller ID. It was William, his partner and the managing director of the Corporation calling.
He had known William since Caltech, the two had struck a fast friendship after William had heard of the African wonder student in the Engineering and Computer sciences department who the Professors had been buzzing about.
William also being financially smart and had been a graduate student in the Humanities and social sciences department at the time.He had believed so much in Mofe’s ideas, designs and potential that he had loaned him the room above his parents garage for free after Mofe had been done with his course.
Mofe had gotten really great offers after Caltech from big corporations, and also doctorate offers with scholarships from schools but Will had advised Mofe against further studies, he had said he would be wasting his talents ending up a professor when he could revolutionise the world with his hightech gadgets.
Mofe had been unsure, it was so much easier to either take up the scholarship options schools were offering him or work with some of the big Corporations at Silicon valley.
Agreeing to try out Will’s advice for only a year, he had worked on and developed his ideas during his free time while taking an obscure job in a restaurant for money.
Everything had moved on from there so quickly,he now had his own corporation with its headquarters at Silicon Valley and branches in Europe and every continent.
He owed a huge part of his success to William who was hugely ambitious, maybe even more so than Mofe had been.
He had helped in getting some of his personal designs and ideas patented. He had also been responsible for the investors and funding with which they had begun the company.
Techbits Corp’s high tech security and surveillance devices and softwares were invaluable to many big companies the world over and presently being used by the United States Military and the Militia of developed countries around the world.
He owned research labs he personally supervised and had some of the smartest people in the world working with him. It was all possible because William had believed and pushed him.
Mofe had rewarded him with a seat on the board of directors and ten percent stake in the Corporation’s assets. Also being the managing director, Mofe trusted him to keep the company going smoothly while Mofe focused on research, design and idea development.
“Hi Will.” He picked up the call after putting some reasonable distance between him and Ezinne’s house.
“Hey MJ, it’s been quite awhile now. How’s it going over there in Africa?” William asked in his usual booming, jovial tone.
“I’m good, Will… everything is fine here …in Abuja, Nigeria.” Mofe replied, not fooled by Will’s tone. He liked to think he knew his friend better than that.
Will didn’t just make casual calls, he definitely had something serious to discuss. Working with him for a few years now, Mofe was quite familiar with his style.
People usually took Will at face value, an outgoing blond frat party boy who had been born privileged. They didn’t see he was ambitious, calculating and business smart. Mofe liked to think Will enjoyed misleading people into thinking him to be nothing more than a good looking dumb blond who knew how to have a good time.
It made it easier for him to swoop in on them unexpectedly, sometimes making people divulge information they thought would be useless to him.
Will was an opportunist and never let an opportunity slip by him. Mofe did trust him though as they had similar interests in mind which was the continued success and growth of Techbits Corp.
“Alright, any progress on your personal family stuff?”
“Yeah, it’s all going well.” He replied, he hadn’t given William the full story on why he had returned home. Only Eve knew and she’d had to wheedle it out of him. “How’s it over there? Keeping our investors happy, are you?”
“Yeah, they are happy for now… a little bit confused as to why you left suddenly with no specific date of return but I calmed their nerves. Saying you needed some time to reflect and come up with more awesome ideas.”
Mofe smiled. “ William, you crooked salesman!”
William laughed “Guilty as charged.”
“You are actually right, I have been getting a few ideas, especially technology to do with the visually impaired. What do you think about that?” Mofe Asked. He had been doing some reading for a while now on the subject and had realised that whatever was available was either really expensive or still in it’s design stages.
“Wow…. MJ that sounds fascinating. Does that mean you will be back in Silicon Valley soon?” Will asked. He was sure to get excited at the thoughts of new products that would rake in more profits for the business.
“I can’t give an affirmative on that yet Will, but I will work on my ideas here and send to Akihito, the head of designs to have a look at.”
“Alright, you are the boss…just don’t get too comfortable over there. We need you back here real soon. I’m sure Eve isn’t taking your absence so well even though I know how patient she is with you.”
Eve was another matter entirely. She had closed off on him, refusing to pick his calls, he planned on doing something about that as soon after he got Ezinne and Azora settled in the new place.
“Have you seen her around?”
“Yeah… I do see her around in the mornings at the park, where we all do our morning run. Is everything good between you two?”
“Yeah, everything’s fine.” He lied, this was another part of his life he didn’t let anyone into. He and Eve would work out their differences. She loved him, she would come around especially when he surprised her with what she wanted most from him, a wedding date.
He had thought about it. These days he wasn’t as haunted by thoughts of Ezinne as he used to be. It was probably because he was working on getting the closure he needed to move forward with his life.
He felt he was at a point he could commit fully to Eve without having Ezinne in his head all the time.
“If you could check on her once in awhile for me? I would appreciate it.” He said
“Sure, why not? Will replied. “ There’s something I am quite curious about though.”
“Okay..what’s that?” He asked, knowing this was the real reason William had called. Everything else had just been unnecessary small talk preparing the ground for this.
“You recently requested Jared, the West Africa regional manager to acquire some unknown bankrupt shipping company? Onu Shipping?”
“Yes…” He replied. “It’s a personal thing.”
“Personal? MJ, you do know we have to get approval from the board for acquisitions we …”
“I own sixty percent of the damn company and so I can make acquisitions as I see fit. As long as It’s not interfering with the huge profits my company puts in the investors pockets, they should not concern themselves with some of my personal decisions.”
“Whoa, whoa, calm down MJ… this can slide but you can’t make strange acquisitions like this… you have to run it by me first, or you are hanging me out by my ass, wide open without any sort of cover. I just need a heads up from you first, so I can prepare my defence to the board, that’s all I’m asking.”
“Alright, I understand.” Mofe replied more calmly. He understood what Jared meant. “I also directed Jared to have the auditors look into the books to find out if the previous management did any shady things with the accounts and finances.”
Will laughed. “You do know as well as I do that is most likely why the company folded….” His voice trailed before he continued. “Wait, are you planning something? You said this was personal… You do know the owners of the company personally, don’t you? This is some sort of vendetta, isn’t it?”
Mofe smiled, Will was intuitive but he was not giving him any answers.
“I take it we are done?”
“Spoil sport! You and your secrets… Anyway we are done yeah…. Just try and get back here as soon as you can.”
“Sure, soon as I can. Bye Will.” He hung up and couldn’t help the small smile tugging at the edge of his lip.
Things were going to plan, soon all debts would be repaid.
*** *** ***