It was Fatihat. She was just disembarking from the bike when he came out. He raised an eyebrow at her dressing.
“Are you going to the devil’s den?”He asked in a humorless voice. She grinned quickly. “I had a phone call this morning. I’m going to get my kid.”She gave him a summary of her phone call conversation with the early morning anonymous caller. The hair on his neck stood up in alarm.
“Are you crazy? What if it is a false alarm and the call was made to lure you out into danger? Don’t you ever think at all?” Bone-deep fear made his voice sharper than he had intended as he shook her by the shoulder violently.
“Stop it!”She ordered sharply as she shrugged off his hands. “I’m not stupid and I’m aware of the danger I am walking into but I’m willing to risk my life to save my daughter’s. “She ended in a gentler voice. He stared at her bleakly. “I’m willing to offer myself as bait and take the risk if it is worth it but I won’t sit at home and do nothing. It is not my nature and you know it. “
‘You don’t think you should let the police handled this?’
‘They have been handling it for more than 2 days. Are you expecting me to sit down until they called me to come and identify my daughter’s body? I lose her once. I won’t lose her again.’ She vowed quietly. He sighed out loudly.
“They are not out to get you, Fatihat. Whoever is behind this kidnap is aiming for me. Please don’t add to the burden on my conscience. Come to your sense and stop acting the macho woman.” He pleaded as he took her hands and she gave it a reassuring squeeze. “That is the more reason I have to rescue my kid. She is just a baby. She shouldn’t be hurt for the mistake you made in the past. I intend to come back but if anything happens just in case, that was why I came to your house before leaving for my destination. Please take good care of my kids; thank God they are yours too. Lekan has finally accepted me into his life, thanks to the crisis on the ground. “She gave a quick grin which tore at his heart. He turned away.
“I hope you have backup plans?”Tayo came out of the house, not bothering to hide the fact that he has been eavesdropping on their conversation. His siblings joined him on the front porch, leaving their mother in the sitting room where the tears never stopped flowing, especially since she heard the bravery in Fatihat’s words.
Motherhood could be a curse at times, she thought forlornly.
“I will be very stupid not to have one plus it is a territory I’m familiar with. I’ve been there before. How are you, Tayo?”
‘I’m good. I could see you are too.”He gave her a boyish grin and she returned it.
“Damn it. I don’t want to lose you, no matter how stubborn and frustrating a woman you are.”He caught her to him and kissed her desperately. Her body relaxed against him. She kissed him back with equal fervor. The kiss continued on and on for a moment until he finally released her and looked down at her face.
“I’ve not succeeded in changing your mind, right?”
“Just wish me luck if you believe in it, I’m running behind schedule. See you!”She glanced at her wrist-watch and bounced down the front porch, then straddled her bike and rode into the night without a backward glance.
Tunde ran into the house and snatched up his car key.
“Are you going to tail her?’ Wale asked curiously.
“Yes. Tayo, please stay at home and get in contact with my Private detectives. Call him on my behalf and tell him what is happening.”He gave his younger brother the card. He didn’t raise an eyebrow when his two other siblings joined him in the car.
“Please be careful.”Tayo cautioned as Tunde drove out of the house at a neck-breaking speed. They spotted fatihat in the distance immediately he drove unto the expressway and he kept behind her at a safe distance.
“I’m wondering if we are going to Oyo state at this time of the night.”Ayo’s voice was solemn. The other two burst into nervous laughter.
She rode on without reducing speed on the now-deserted road until they left Lagos far behind them and turned suddenly into an untarred road.
“Do you know where she is going?”Wale turned to his younger brother. He shakes his head in the negative.
“I’m not sure of the exact address but I have a rough idea. It is not a palatable place to be.”Tunde shrugged.
“I just hope we are not too late.”Ayo voiced out the fear on everybody’s mind but none of his brothers answered him as they watched fatihat snapped off her headlight and rode on in the dark.
“She is so brave!”Tunde murmured to himself as he turned off his own headlight. They drove on in the enveloping darkness.
“She is not Delilah Smith for nothing, guys. I used to hear about her escapades for years from my friends for a long time, not knowing she is the same woman as Fatihat Ali.”Ayo’s voice resonates with reluctant admiration.
“She reigned in Lagos social circle. There were rumors that she deals in shady business, that it was how she made her money so fast. God knows how true that is.”Wale added conversationally.
“She is still reigning till now. It is just that she has been lying low since she met her kids. I don’t care how shady her deals were. The woman is just too smart and cool to be true.” Tunde grinned at that.
“I should have been warned about the new Fatihat Ali but I was out of the country mostly when she was making waves and I must admit she is still making it. Half of the damn board of directors and company is half in love with her. One moment, she would be unselfishly generous, only God knows how many youths she was sending to school and practically supporting the family. The next moment, she would be so ruthless you could have strangled the life out her body. She is a highly contradicting woman.”Tunde’s smile was rueful as he kept his unwavering glance on the figure in the distance.
“And you like her that way, don’t you? You like every damn frustrating thing about the woman.”Ayo said with a perspective which shocked his two elder brothers.
“I like her alright but I don’t want to inspect the depth of my feelings for her until all this mess is sorted out first and I make my peace with Nike.”He said soberly which brought them back to the situation on the ground.
“I hope you are not still planning to get married to Nike, even if she forgives you because it will be unfair to both of you when it is obvious you have strong feelings for the mother of your kids?”Wale voiced out Ayo’s fear as he glanced at his brother’s unreadable profile.
“Time will tell.” was all Tunde said. They let the subject dropped as they saw fatihat turned into another untarred road and they lost sight of her for a moment.
“I’m fairly sure she is aware we are behind her. She is too smart not to be aware of the fact that she was being tailed especially since it seems as if we are the only two automobiles in the whole world.”Ayo broke the tense silence once again.
Tunde nodded as he turned into the same road, coming into view of the lone rider again. On both sides of the road were tall bushes and the air becomes chilly.
“I’m wondering if our journey is ever going to end. “Wale rubbed the chill out of his arms.
Just then, Fatihat pulled up by the bush and jumped off the bike. Tunde came to a stop by the bush too and turned off the engine. They watched her dropped the bike into the bush and headed for a tall fence they noticed for the first time.
“How could anybody build a house in this kind of place?”Ayo wondered aloud in pure awe and horror.
“Well, it is built by those who have evil plans to carry out and things to hide from the normal society”Wale answered coldly.
“I have a feeling that my daughter is somewhere in that fucking building and I’m feeling damn helpless watching her mother go in there to rescue her on her own.”Tunde said with gritted teeth.
“But that is the wisest thing to do. Both of you cannot put yourself at the same time. That is apart from the part that she is more experienced in handling things like this than you do. So be content with being a backup plan.”Wale told him with a casualness he wasn’t feeling.
“God! This girl is a born rascal! Look at the way she just vaulted over that tall fence!”Ayo gave a long slow whistle of admiration as they watched Fatihat reached up to the fence with her two hands. She swung her legs over and disappeared into the building. That was the last they saw of her until they heard a gunshots moments later.
Fear tightened Tunde’s stomach into knots as he stared at his brothers in horror. Ayo squeezed his shoulder from the back seat in assurance.
“It will be alright by God’s grace.” He nodded tensely as he brought out his phone to make calls.
“Hands up!”A cold voice ordered immediately she dropped unto the other side of the fence. Shivers of dread ran down her spine but she didn’t move from her bent position. “Are you deaf?”The voice snapped angrily as the figure of a tall, bulky man moved into view, obviously holding a gun.
She dismissed the idea of tackling him physically because he was far bigger than she was but when she finally straightened up seconds later, she was holding her gun. She shot him without aim in a blink of an eye.
The gunshot mingled with an ear-splitting scream of pain from the bulky man whose gun has dropped in the process. It was then she realized she has forgotten to put the silencer on her gun. She stood back and shot the man in the forehead. He went down without a sound.
She moved back in the shadows, knowing she has already announced her presence with that scream. She waited in the corner of the backyard where the shadow of a palm tree hides her presence. She held her breath as she watched the shadow of a man moved out cautiously from the back entrance of the house. He looked around for the source of the sound and saw the body of his colleague.
“Ray, are you okay?”He whispered as he turned the man over and saw the wound on his head. She frowned. The voice sounded like the voice she had heard earlier on the phone but this is a boy, not a man, she thought in confusion and decided to take her chance.
A bullet flew by the boy’s ear, barely missing him. He jerked back in horror, looking towards the direction of the shot. She stretched out her hand as she came out of the shadow.
“Don’t bother with it. We both know I would have killed you a moment ago if I want to, so let me have that gun now.’ Her voice was quiet but he recognized the menace in it. To her surprise, his hardened face dissolved into smiles and he handed over his gun without qualms.
“Ah!! Sister Fatihat, I’m not disappointed in you. You really impressed me today.”His voice was low but she heard him clearly and stared intently at his face.
“You are the one who called me this morning, right? I seem to remember the voice.’ Her face was devoid of any expression.
“Yes, I am the one who called you. I saw your name and phone number on the interview you had with the press immediately you came back from Abuja. My name is Isiak Ali and my twin brother, Ismail Ali is inside the building. Can you remember those names? We were just kids when you left Kaduna.”He held her gaze without moving an inch from where he stood and watched her, watching him with the help of the light coming from the moonlight that just appeared briefly, searching for family resemblance, then she grinned suddenly.
“The daredevil twins! Both of you eventually ended up in the devil’s den!”She gave out a low laugh, soft and infectious as she remembered her old nick-name for them, behind their mother’s back of course. He found himself grinning back.
“It wasn’t a palatable journey. I know you will be wondering how I was able to recognize you. Apart from the picture in the paper, your kid is the spitting image of what you look like as a child and I still have that picture in my head till now. We were moved here today. Only God knows what that means.”He watched as the smile drained out of her eyes.
“I hope I’m not too late? How is she?”
“She is okay. My bosses are inside with her now. They asked me to check the source of the noise. I’m sure they will be wondering what is taking me so long.”He glanced towards the house with apprehension and then, back at her.
“What kind of vehicle brought them to this place? How many are they?” She asked as she reloaded her gun with the shells in her boot.
“There are just two from Lagos with Ismail making three; he has a long scar on his right cheek sustained from a street fight.”He gave a rueful shrug when she raised an eyebrow at him. “They brought a black 504 Peugeot car.”He answered rather puzzle.
“That is the car they used in kidnapping my baby. Take your gun and punctured their four tyres with bullets. Get water and poured it into their petrol tank. I will deal with those sons of bitches.”
“That is a piece of cake. We are three against their two. I’m sure we will conquer them.” He moved away and blended into the darkness.
Fatihat noticed that only one room was lit in the whole house. She assumed that was where the party was taking place. She walked in through the back door with the help of a thin torchlight and found herself in what must be a long, unlit corridor.
She picked her way slowly, progressively, keeping to the side of the wall until she came to a room where she heard voices and proceeded to try her hand on the doorknob. The air on her nape stood up instinctively before she was grabbed by two powerful hands abruptly from the back. Her torchlight dropped as she was propelled into the room. She noted the boy with the scar almost immediately as their eyes connected briefly. In that brief moment, she saw the fear and terror in his eyes.
The other man, Raymond, popularly called Jack Daniels (J.D for short), chuckled to himself in delight as she was brought in.
“Mummy!!!”Gift screamed from where she was seated on the ground, still clad in her filthy school uniform.
“It is so good to meet you in person, Delilah Smith. I have no business with you. What are you doing here?”J.D asked with a smile.
“That is my kid you have with you. I intend to have her back, alive!”The two men laughed at her outburst. The sound sent a chill down her spine.
“You know what, Delilah Smith? You have nerves. I have always hated you for it. I guess this is my opportunity to deal with you after finishing my first assignment.”He glanced significantly at her daughter. Her heart freezes in terror but her face was a complete blank.
“Please don’t kill my mummy.”Gift cried out, tears filling her eyes. The two men laughed again. The man behind Fatihat, known simply as Canon among the gang, jerked her arms back forcefully and she stifled a cry of pain, even as tears filled her eyes.
“Let me give the iron lady a dose of her own medicine before we get going.” J.D moved towards her with a wicked grin. He raised his fist to punch her nose.
She jerked backward forcefully to both men’s surprise and brought her foot down on the J.D’s face.
Ismail chose that moment to strike out at his bosses. He reached for a metal rod standing against the wall and hit Canon on the back. Cries of pain from both men filled the room. She was released so abruptly that she stumbled forward. She took a deep breath to regain her balance and then proceeded to attack Canon.
“You bloody traitor! Why the hell are you fighting on her behalf? You think you can find favor with her. I will teach you a lesson you will never forget in your miserable life.’ J.D rounded on Ismail.
They were engaged in a fierce struggle while his accomplice lay on the floor, still writhing from the blow from the metal rod. J.D disengaged abruptly as a knife appeared in his hand and proceeded to stab the younger boy. Fatihat turned around in time and shot him in the head.
The next moment, she would have been a dead woman because Canon whom she thought was helpless had gotten to his feet with a gun and was aiming it at the back of her head with trembling fingers.
‘Mum, look out!”Gift screamed out a late warning. Fatihat swirled round abruptly. Isiak came in at that precise moment and shot him in the head. He went down without a sound and suddenly all was quiet.
She took the knife from Ismail and cut the rope that was used to bind her daughter’s hands and legs. She then scooped the little girl up in a tight, fierce hug.
“Thanks for coming to my rescue, mum. I love you so much.”Gift clung to her. The twins looked on in obvious envy and admiration.
“I will do anything for my precious baby. I think I saw Tunde’s car behind me on my way here. It was very foolish of him if indeed he was the one, though’ She backed her daughter. She was secretly glad of the moral support, no matter how stupid the act was.
They made their way out of the house. A car’s headlight flashed in the distance. She released a warning shot into the air. The car moved closer and she stood in front of her family, her finger on the trigger.
“It is me, Tunde. Please put that gun away. It looks scary and deadly.”Tunde called out in the darkness. They all burst into laughter.
“It is my daddy.”Gift cried excitedly as she scrambled down. Tunde pulled over and got out of the car in time to catch his daughter as she lurched against him.
“That is my baby. I hope you were really brave in there?”He swallowed a lump in his throat as he smiled bravely at his daughter. She giggled as she clung to his neck.
“Well done! You are a courageous woman.’ Tunde’s brother hugged her one after the other.
“But you guys are not supposed to be here tonight. What if the gang came around and saw you loitering around their territory. It is deadly.” Her voice was chiding.
“It is a risk worth taking.”Wale hugged her once again and ushered father and daughter into the car.
“This place gives me the creeps.”Ayo grabbed Isiak’s hand and pulled him into the car with him.
“See you guys in town. Let’s go, Ismail.”She climbed her bike. He got behind her, and she sped into the night, closely followed by Tunde’s car.
The sun was already peeping through the window when Fatihat opened her eyes and stretched out her body luxuriously. It was her first sound sleep since she came back from Abuja and learned about her daughter’s kidnap.
Her eyes went to the wall clock and she shot upright in bed, her mouth dropping open in absolute shock. It was eleven’ o clock on the dot.
She walked into the bathroom for a cold shower, changed into a short house robe and sauntered out of the room. She was half-way down the staircase when the sound of voices hit her and she leaned over the banister to see what was going on in her sitting room.
The sight she beholds gave her the second shock of the day but this time around, it was a pleasant shock!
Both the Badmus and the Abeebs were around including Yemi Abeeb who was seated beside her mother and listening intently to what she was saying.
All her siblings were standing together, gisting and laughing in a happy reunion. Her kids were sitting separately in a corner of the room, already bathed and looking fresh in a pair of jean trouser and white vest.
Breakfast was ready on the Dining table. They all helped themselves to it one after the other.
Funmi took her plate and joined the younger twins on the rug. Aisha did the same, even though she didn’t understand half of what they were saying but she knew she was welcomed all the same.
Chenille was sitting between Yemi and a ruggedly handsome gentleman in his late forties. Yetunde was busy helping Josephine with breakfast in the kitchen and getting it to the sitting room while her husband was engrossed in a heated argument over football with Ayo, even as he wolfed down his breakfast.
It was an amusing sight and one which filled Fatihat’s heart with happiness. She moved away and leaned against the wall as tears filled her eyes.
So I have finally created a home. You are a truly wonderful God, she thought as she lifted her eyes skyward and thanked her creator with all her heart and soul. I guess it is time to give up the past and move on with my life, she thought with a smile and turned around to go upstairs.
“Is there any problem?”Tunde called from the foot of the staircase. She turned back with a smile.
“Everything is fine. I’m just so happy.”She hugged herself and grinned at him.
“You deserve it and more. Thank you.”He said simply as he came slowly up the staircase. “You are welcome. I want to show you something.”She took his wrist and led him into her bedroom. He sat down on her bed while she went o her chest drawer and pulled it out. ‘I don’t like the way you came after me last night. It is very dangerous. She could have lost both of us at the same time.”She rounded on him as she remembered the scene.
‘I am not sorry I come after you, Fatihat. It was my battle to fight and I intend to get to the bottom of it all.”His voice was firm with determination. She gave a shrug before she turned to her wardrobe.
“Who do you think could be behind the kidnap?”She asked curiously as she faced him with a file.
“I have my suspicion but I want it confirmed. What is that?”He asked curiously.
“I want to sell my share of the Abeebs group of companies back to you. Are you interested?”She asked with a raised eyebrow. He stared at her for a long moment with a blank expression.
‘If I am not interested, what will you do with it?”He asked softly with a dare.
“I will sell it out to interested buyers. I want to face my other businesses. Apart from that, I have to admit you are better off running your papa’s business without any interference from me, so what do you say?”She threw back the dare. He laughed out loud.
“No wonder I have grown very fond of you. You are such a contradicting woman. I am interested but I don’t have ready cash or asset now. We can work something out when I get back to work. Right?”He asked as he gave her a solemn look.
“I don’t have any problem with that. There is enough time to do that.’ She dropped the file on her dressing table.
“Does that mean you are going to resign or will you still work for the company?”He asked curiously. She looked down her nose at him.
‘I can’t work for anybody, not even a company. I will hand in my official resignation letter by next week Monday. I have even forgotten today is a weekday. I have never had so many visitors in my entire lifetime at once.”She grinned as she crossed to her wardrobe to get a more presentable clothing to meet her visitors.
“I’m sure you are unaware of your own worth. Trust me, you will receive more visitor today than you will ever do in your entire lifetime because you were a hero.”He grinned and got to his feet.
“A hero indeed!”She gave a dismissing laugh as she opened her wardrobe door and started sorting through her clothes. He came up behind her and circled her waist with his arms. She turned in his embrace and pushed at his chest in vain.
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