Rose was sleeping when her phone rang sharply. She groped for it on the bedside table, cracked open an eyelid to look at the caller ID, wondering if it is someone she could ignore.
‘Hi, Becky. Is everything alright?’ Her voice was husky with sleep.
‘Are you sleeping, Rose?’ Rebecca tried to keep her temper down.
‘It is okay. Is Caitlin alright?’ She sat up in bed, holding the duvet to her chest.
‘Caitlin is alright. I’m sorry to wake you up but I need to confirm something from you. Is Joseph responsible for sponsoring our trip for your wedding?’ She blurted out sharply.
Rose glanced at her husband who was sleeping beside her and snug out of bed, pulling the duvet with her. The momentary silence gave Rebecca all the answer she needed.
‘Rose, are you there?’ Rebecca asked impatiently. Rose shut the bathroom door behind her.
‘Yes, I am here. To answer your question, he is the one who foot the expenses and he is the one who got your husband’s address in Houston. He is also responsible for quite a number of things in your life.’ Rose confirmed in a firm casual voice.
‘I am aware he has been our knight in shining armor rising to my family’s rescue.’ Rebecca’s voice was hurt and bitter. Rose inhaled softly.
‘Well, you can choose to indulge in self pity because a very rich good-looking man decided to step in and assist the woman he was in love with.’
‘Don’t you dare use that patronizing tone with me, Rose. You have no right to keep such information away from me. It is not fair.’ Rebecca snapped at her coldly.
‘We kept it away from you because I know you will act like a child and react precisely the way you are reacting now. Grow up, babe. Count yourself lucky. Your dumbass husband left you high and dry. Do you want to continue rotting in poverty?’ Rose snapped back.
‘That doesn’t justify the fact that you guys were interfering in my life behind my back. I do not appreciate it at all. You won’t if you were in my shoes.’ Her voice had mellowed down considerably.
‘Call me back when you have crawled out of your self-pitying hole, Becky. I love you.’ She put an end to the call before she could respond and put a call to Joseph’s private line afterwards.
She was ending the call when she noted her husband standing on the doorway. She cocked a brow at him.
‘Well done, madam. I knew this would backfire one day. I don’t want to run up against your conniving scheming mind any time soon, dear wife.’ Alex’s voice was full of admiration.
‘Get out of my way.’ She made to sidle past him but he pulled the duvet from her body and pulled her naked body into his arms.
‘You sure handled your friend.’ He grinned down at her upturned face.
‘I just love her. She has a stubborn streak in her.’ Rose sighed worriedly.
‘No wonder you guys are friend.’ He rubbed his lips over hers and she wrapped her legs around his waist.
It was a long morning.
Rebecca dragged herself up the staircase, weary both in mind and body. She was still wondering how she would handle all the information she had learnt today as she opened the door and walked in.
Joseph was in the sitting room with Elizabeth and her mother. She stood still in shock but it was only her mother who glanced her way.
‘You are welcome, dear. How was your day?’ Her smile was strained. Rebecca frowned in concern.
‘I’m fine. Where are the kids?’ She moved to sit opposite them.
‘They are sleeping already. By the way, Caitlin wants to stay in Nigeria permanently.’ Ruth grinned at her.
‘Her sister will have my head.’ Rebecca’s voice was tired. Joseph stared at her.
‘She can stay with you if you and Joseph decided to get married.’ Elizabeth grinned at her. Rebecca glared at her sister while Joseph ducked his head, hiding a grin.
‘That is not funny. I am not even in the mood to talk to you.’ Rebecca’s voice was cold.
‘Shield your claws, kittens. We have more pressing issue on ground. Our family lawyer, Emeka Daniels is dead. He was killed by hired assassin.’ Ruth dropped the information solemnly.
‘May his departed soul rest in peace. How does the information impact our life, mum?’ Rebecca’s voice was brisk. Elizabeth blinked in surprise.
‘Ramsey is back in town, Becky and he is not here for family re-union.’ Joseph told her quietly. Her heart missed a beat.
‘How did you know that?’ He gave her a bland look and she swallowed hard. ‘What is going on?’ She met his gaze.
‘Ramsey and Emeka were both responsible for your father’s death. His sudden death is not a coincidence. Ramsey is a wanted criminal in Houston.’
‘No wonder he was always supporting Ramsey back then. The asshole!’ Rebecca swore coldly.
‘Are the kids safe here? Joseph, I am quite sure he knows you are responsible for tracking him down. He will do anything to get to you or to Rebecca.’ Ruth said worriedly.
‘I can get them over to the Coker’s house. There is maximum security there and I can ask mum to stay with them until it is over. That is if you are okay with it, Becky.’ Joseph looked at her for confirmation. She nodded numbly.
‘I can get them out of the country but I don’t want to leave until he is safely behind the bar.’ He added with barely concealed anger.
‘Thank you, Joseph. God bless you for me.’ Ruth picked up his palm and patted it between her weathered one.
‘I will take my leave now. Lizzy, get your butt back to Lagos tomorrow morning.’ Joseph told her as he got to his feet.
‘Yes sir.’ She winked at him.
‘Please keep your phone close to you at all times, Mrs. Badmus. Try not to be in this house alone at any point in time. Good night.’ He curtseyed briefly, turned on his heels and walked out.
‘Wait, Joseph. I want to talk to you.’ He was half-way down the staircase before Rebecca’s voice stopped him. He paused and turned to face her in the dim yellow light. He watched her come down the staircase until she was a step above him and they were on eye level.
‘I want to thank you for flushing Ramsey out this way.’ She paused and took a deep breath. ‘It must have cost you a fortune for the investigation and for everything.’ Her lips tightened grimly.
‘You would rather slap me for interfering, right?’ He stared into her eyes and she dropped her gaze. ‘Becky, I am not going to apologize for everything I have done. I will do it all over again if it makes life easier for you either you want it or not.’ He told her with a smile.
‘You should have at least let me know.’ Her voice came out sulky, instead of sharply as she had intended. He laughed softly as he cupped her cheek.
‘Ramsey is dangerous. He will come after you, Becky. I can move you and your mum over to Coker’s house. You will be safe there.’ He murmured against her lips. She stiffened and moved back.
‘I won’t live my life that way, Joe. I need to face that idiot on my own ground. He has done enough damage in my life. I won’t give him that kind of power over my life again.’ She said solemnly. He sighed.
‘I know you won’t agree. It is just a suggestion. I will pick the kids from school tomorrow and take them to the Coker house. Mum will stay with them.’
‘Thank you. I appreciate your assistance so much.’
‘You are welcome.’ He pulled her into his arms and kissed her until she forgot about her environment. Her arms went around his neck and she clung to him, moaning deep in her throat.
‘Getting married is not going to be a bad idea, you know?’ He teased in a husky voice.
‘I won’t accept a proposal on a dark staircase please. That reminds me. There is something I need to discuss with you.’ She cleared her voice with a light cough.
‘It is late, Becky. You are tired. Go and in and relax. We will talk later.’ He turned her around and patted her bum, playfully.
‘Go away.’ She batted his hand away but she was smiling as she walked into the house.
‘So are you in the mood to talk to me now?’ Elizabeth teased as she walked in.
‘Mum, please warn your daughter to leave me in peace or else she will get a serious beating this evening.’ Rebecca tried without success to keep from smiling.
‘Hmm. Someone is in a good mood because they just get thoroughly kissed.’ Elizabeth rolled her eyes skyward and followed her into her room, despite her glare.
‘What were you doing in that hotel, Titi? Who was the lady with you?’ Kingsley asked casually as he waited for her to shut down her system for the night. He had made it a habit to wait for her every evening to make sure she went home on time.
‘We went for a swim and to catch up on each other’s lives. She is my friend.’ She lifted her bag and inclined her head, indicating she was ready to leave.
‘I see. I have this weird feeling about the two of you. It is rare to see two women checking out of a hotel room at the same time.’ His voice trailed off as he pulled her door close behind her and looked around casually as they moved through the empty store.
‘What kind of feeling?’ Her voice was challenging as she spared him a cold smile.
‘Titi, are you into women?’ He stopped to face her squarely.
‘What if I am?’ She looked down her nose at him.
‘That will be too bad because I am really into you. I like your person and admire your mind. I would want the chance to know if we can have a committed relationship between us.’ He stepped close to her.
Her jaw dropped in surprise.
‘Ah! I am very weird woman, Kings. I think you should look for another woman to engage in a steady relationship.’ There was real panic in her eyes as she stepped back hastily.
‘Calm down, Titi. I won’t do anything to harm you. Do you like me? Are you comfortable with me as a man?’ He took her hand gently in his and rubbed the cold palm within his own.
‘You are good looking. I like your person but I don’t think I am ready for a relationship.’ She flexed her palm, looking everywhere except his face.
‘We will take it at your pace then. Give me a chance and I promise I am not going to disappoint you.’ He tipped her chin up to meet his gaze.
‘Kings, I am going to disappoint you. I really don’t want to spoil our fragile friendship. I am..was a lesbian and I am still in therapy.’ She looked miserable as she looked into his eyes.
He pulled her into his arms and hugged her closely. She stiffened at first before she gradually relaxed and hugged him back.
‘Give us a chance, Titi. You will be fine.’ He drew back and touched her cheek lightly.
‘Thank you for not judging me.’ She smiled at him and squeezed his hand.
‘I am not a saint. No one is perfect.’ He shrugged as he put his arm casually around her shoulder as they walked out of the store.
Joseph was in the middle of a meeting when his phone beeped a message. He checked the message and his blood seemed to freeze in his vein.
He murmured a hasty ‘Excuse me’ to the room in general and rushed out of the boardroom. Afolake and Olayemi’s worried gazes followed him out of the room but none of them stood up from their seats.
Joseph tried Rebecca’s number as he ran to the elevators but it was switched off. He swore and headed for the staircase. Fear pumped adrenalin into his blood and he got to the ground floor without gasping for breath.
One of the security men ran to open the car door for him but he waved him away.
‘Go and open the damn gate fast.’ He growled at him as he jumped into his car and gunned it into reverse.
‘Yes sir.’ The security guy ran to do as he was ordered. The gate had barely slid open before Joseph shot through it and drove like someone who was pursued by the devil.
Rebecca’s shift ended that afternoon. She had promised Joseph to check on the kids that afternoon but her phone battery was dead. She was tired and famished. She had forgotten it in her handbag.
She decided at the last moment to go home and charge it with generator. She would re-fuel and go visiting towards evening time. She missed the kids desperately.
There was no light at home as she had expected. The curse of this dreadful country we live in, she thought as she dropped her handbag in the sitting room and headed for the kitchen.
She slowed down immediately she walked in. She turned around in a circle as she had a feeling something was not quite right. Nothing was amiss, at least not at a glance.
She was heading for the balcony to put on the generator when she heard a rustle behind her. She swirled around and gasped when her husband straightened up.
‘Hi, Becky.’ He smiled at her as he leaned against her cooker. Her lips tightened with grimness as she noted that he looked good.
Bastard! He has finished spending my father’s money, she fumed inwardly.
‘Hello, Ramsey.’ Her voice was hostile.
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