The Runaway: X

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“I will like to have breakfast downstairs at the dining room” Grandma Kehinde said, looking at Abi suspiciously.
Abi gave her a suspicious look of her own, finding her patient’s request to be strange. The woman never ate at the dining room. She had her meals in her room.

“Ermm…okay?” Abi managed to say, wondering what was up with the old woman. Thus, she placed her on her wheel chair, and motioned her down the stairs to the dining room.

“Nike!” Abi called for the maid, requiring her to bring down Grandma’s breakfast.

“And tell Tonye to come down here. I would like to eat with him. It’s been a while” Grandma said with a smile to the maid who was about going to get her food.

Abi’s heartbeat doubled its race as she heard the words which came out of her patient’s mouth. She didn’t want to face Tonye today. She still felt ashamed from yesterday’s experience with him. She had planned on hiding in her room all day.

“Won’t you have your seat? And why do you look so flushed young woman. Did you see a ghost or what?” Grandma asked, her voice carrying a taunting tone.

Abi sat immediately. She didn’t realise she was still standing, she didn’t even know Nike had set their meals on the table already. She wasn’t hungry anymore, she just wanted to disappear, but she relunctantly picked her fork and dug into the porridge in front of her. She didn’t want the old woman suspecting anything.

As she was about taking a bite of a little piece of yam porridge, Abi heard giggles from a end, coming close to the dining room. It was Tosins’. It was a seductive giggle, the type she had heard many Rhexa waitresses give whenever they wanted to lure men into their pants.

“Hmm hmm” Abi heard a hoarse, manly, tired, but no less alluring voice follow the giggles. It was Tonyes’ . Abi knew it was, even before the form of her boss and his fiancee finally emerged.
Tosin had her arms wrapped at Tonye’s back, her hair was a bit disheveled and she was wearing a very thick smirk that seemed so unwilling to leave her face. She looked the happiest Abi had ever seen her. Tonye on the other hand, was wearing a passive look, but also had a arm wrapped around her shoulders, and his hair was just as tossled. The sight before Abi was so compellingly painful, it hurt her to see them the way they were; all happy as though they just concluded a love-making session. Her eyes burned with tears, as the couple took their seats side by side. But she willed those tears away, and managed to mumble a good morning to both of them, burying her face into her untouched meal.

。。。

“Please be kidding! You can’t be serious! Please… Please… She can’t be dead” He wailed as he spoke.

“I’m so sorry, we tried our best. I’m so sorry sir.” The doctor replied, compassion in his voice.

“Bring her back! Bring her back!” The man said, as his voice billowed with anger, and grief.

“Sir-”

BANG! The doctor got interrupted with a blow on his eye.

“Bring. Her. Back!” BANG! BANG! BANG! “Bring her! Bring her! Bring her!” The man said frantically, while hitting the doctor on the face, until the living doctor became corpse; all from his hard punches.

Exhausted from exercising his hands on the doctor’s face and realising the doctor to be dead, the man knelt down, and wept profusely.

She was gone. She was gone. Gone forever.

They were coming back again, the nightmares. The more he delayed, the more they haunted him. It was killing him, he hates to remember. That moment when she took her last breath was the worst day of his life, a day that has become a haunting memory in his life. A memory he would love to destroy.

。。。

“Are you not hungry?” Grandma Kehinde’s voice drew Abi from her thought. She had drifted again, she realised. Her food was still untouched.

“Not really, I guess” Abi managed to say, and she was replied with a gentle squeeze of her hand by Grandma, a gesture which took her aback. She looked at her patient and saw compassion in her eyes. Does she know? Abi began to wonder. The woman’s eyes had spoken words like “it’s okay my dear”, ” don’t beat your self up” “c’mon!” Or was she imagining it? Grandma Kehinde really knows, and Abi flushed at that, averting her gaze from the woman face.

Tonye had been staring at her surreptitiously. He felt so terrible. Abi wasn’t stupid; he knew she would have added two plus two to come with the right conclusion that himself and Tosin had been ‘busy’ last night―the same day he had claim her lips like he owned it indeed. He hadn’t intended to have sex with Tosin, but Abi’s lips had given him a permanent hard-on, he couldn’t help but relieve himself. And of course, Tosin was willing to help ou. She had always been willing, seducing him subtly, but he had never given in, until last night.
He wanted to hold Abi right there and tell her he was sorry; something he never thought he would be doing―he must like her very much, more than he thought.

Abi gave up trying to eat, there was no point. She had lost her appetite. Maybe if he wasn’t present, she would have.
“I will just take this to the kitchen.” She finally said, taking my untouched meal to the kitchen.

“Abi”

She heard Tonye call after her, as she walked to the kitchen. Hearing her name caused a sweat of nervousness on the back of her neck, but she turned to him nonetheless―she didn’t want to seem weak.

“Sir?” She answered formally, waving off the fact that Tonye had called her informally, in front of everyone. And as it seemed, everyone noticed, because they were all gawking at her, especially Tosin, whose face had already contorted into a frown.

Tonye didn’t know what to say to avert any suspicion. He had called after her without thinking. Her name had been at the tip of his tongue through out his meal. And when he saw that she was about leaving, when he saw her lissome body, which he so much adored, when he saw the way her small hips swayed from side to side in her bandage skirt, and the way her long hair dangled in its ponytail style, he couldn’t rein himself any longer. He wanted to hold her, he wanted to comfort her, he wanted to have her. Everything about her got to him―and that scared him. It’s like he was losing his senses.

Before he spoke, he cleared his voice, finding the right words to say in front of everyone. “I will like to see you in my office in the next five minutes.” He said in the most formal tone he could muster for her.

“Okay sir, but first, let me take Grandma to her room.” Abi said in the most formal and confident tone she could muster as well.

。。。

“What do you have?” The man into the phone, as soon as Fred picked, no hello, no good morning, no pleasantaries, no nothing; just strict business.

“Nothing sir. I’ve got nothing.” Fred replied.

“Nothing?! You can’t have nothing. I want results, and I want them now!”

“Well you can’t get shit from me right now. That’s not how it works. Besides, you called too freaking soon. I just spoke to you yesterday. When I have something, I will let you know. You will just have to chill out man.”

Truly, he had called too soon. But he was running late, damn it! He wanted to be free from his mess. And he needed Abi. Fred was a fine man at his job, he couldn’t dispute that. So relunctantly he gave in. “Fine! But I need results, and I need them fast. Don’t fail me. You wouldn’t want to cross my path my friend.”  He said sinisterly, and ended the phone abruptly, without giving Fred the chance to respond to his threat.

。。。

Tonye’s Home Office…

“Please have your seat.”  Tonye said, as Abi entered into his office.

She had her seat, but he said nothing for over two minutes. He just kept looking at her. That made her uncomfortable, thus, she spoke, “Errm..Sir, you requested that I see you?”

“Yeah, right, about that…” He had been lost in her eyes, in her face. She had innocence written all over her. Damn! she was too beautiful, too cute, not to go head over heels for.
“I-I just want to apologise.”

“About what?” Abi asked, indeed confused. She didn’t know what he was apologising about. Was he sorry about kissing her, or about having sex with his wife-to-be? She bemused.

“Don’t make me spell it out for you Abi.” Tonye answered her question.

“Really, I do not know what you are apolgising for Sir.

Tonye sighed looking at her intently, realising that indeed she knew not what he was talking about.
“Alright, but first, before I explain myself, I will like to clear something out of the way. I will like you to ccall me by my first name, Tonye. I hate it when you are all formal to me.

“But sir-” She got silenced with Tonye’s fingers on her lips, tracing her bottom lip. He was sitting close to her now, at the edge of his large office well polished mahogany table.

“Abi, Abi, baby, don’t tell me you still think to be all that after what we shared yesterday? It wasn’t just a kiss and you know it! If it was, you wouldn’t have been angry and sad today, when you both of us.”

By both of us, he meant, himself and Tosin.
He continued “I’m really sorry about that, Abi. I don’t know what came over me. I wanted to more than kiss you yesterday, but I know it was silly to do more than that. I wanted to do so many things, but I left them undone. But they still lingered Abi, I fought it, but I gave in at the end, I just had to, I’m so sorry.”

Abi ears burned at his words. He wanted to have sex with me? She didn’t know what to say. She was speechless, dumdfounded, shocked to her toes. But finally she spoke,
“This is so weird…” She said with a nervous voice.

“Weird?” Tonye asked.

“Yes, weird. Why are you apologising for having sex with your fiancee. She’s legit, I’m not. If there is anyone you owe an apology, it’s her.”

“I don’t owe her shit! She knew what she was getting herself into. Ugh! I don’t even know why I agreed to all those BS. I don’t want her, I want you. Hell! I’ve never wanted anyone like I want you.”

“Wow” That was all Abi could say to the shocking confessions that just spilled from his mouth. But she recovered quickly.
“Sir-”

“Abi….”

“Sorry, Tonye. You shouldn’t talk like that. That’s just plain harsh! I don’t think I will be happy to hear my husband-to-be speak of me this way. What kind of man are you? You know, I used to have great respect for you, I saw you as a very good man. Unlike other men who visited Rhexas’ you had no hunger in your eyes, for the waitresses. Even after our kiss, I still never thought less of you. I just saw it as a mistake on your part. I might be angry that after kissing me, you still made love to her. But rationally, I shouldn’t be. I’m your employee, not you fiancee. I let myself loose like a fool, I let you do what you did, it’s not your fault, I’m not a kid; in less than a week I will be twenty. So, you can keep your apologies to yourself. In fact, I regret kissing you, you are such a despicable person. Why would you speak that way about not even your girlfriend, but you FIANCEE?! That’s just too bad, too bad!”

“Abi, you don’t understand” Tonye said, stunned by her words.

“Really? What’s there not to understand?

“Everything.”

That was all he said, he couldn’t tell her that his marraige was arranged. That he never wanted it. He couldn’t tell her everything. What was the point? It wouldn’t change anything. She’s a goodie, arranged or not, as long as he is betrothed she wouldn’t want to have an affair with him.
Thus, he watched walk out of his office with her new conception of him.

The Runaway IX

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He had placed an informant at Rhexas’ to watch and report every of Maria’s moves. His phone was switched off through the night/this morning when he boarded a flight to Lagos. Now stepping on the smooth floor of the airport, he put on his phone, only to be greeted with a text from Fred―the informant. Maria had spoken to Abi; he had read from the text. As much as his hands itched him to take her life, he wasn’t going to. For now. He needed her. She’s the bee who’s going to lead him to his honey.

He dialed the number of the informant immediately. He didn’t have time to waste. He needed Abi, and he needed her fast. He wouldn’t be complete without her.

“Hello Fred, I just got your text, good job.” He said into the phone.  “however, I will need you to up your game. I need you to trace the location of the next calls she makes to Abi. Can you do that?”

“Yes Sir, definitely.” Fred said cockily.

“Good. When next I hear from you, it better be about her location.” The man said brusquely cutting the call in the same manner.”

As he boarded a taxi, he hummed like a happy child, who had just been given the best gift of his life. For him, it was so wonderful, a feeling to know that he was getting Abi soon, that she was going to be his forever! He would never allow her suffer the same fate as his wife. With Abi, he would right his wrongs. She is my redemption. He thought happily.

。。。

Tonye’s Residence…

She was getting her phone today. It was high time. She was done beating around the bush. It’s been two weeks since she last heard from Maria. Even though having a phone handy was a prerequisite for her safety, Abi still found it a little annoying, for she was one of those people who spent their money rather ‘too wisely’.
However, she wasn’t like this before. While in Aregun, she could have anything she wanted. Her dad’s a chief, they could afford things many others couldn’t in the community. But here in the city’s hustle and bustle nature, and with no father or mother to look after her, every dime she took from her purse was given great thought before being spent.
Thus, as she laid down her patient, she was going through how much she was going to spend in her head. Presently, she had only 25000 Naira. She wasn’t getting any phone that exceeds #5000. It’s just to make calls pfft! She mumbled, as she gently closed the door to Grandma Kehinde’s room.

Kunle was taking her to get a phone. Lately, they have become quite good friends. Right from when he started last two weeks saturday, she had liked him instantly. He was fun to be with. He cracked so many jokes. Whenever she was around him, she never had to think about the fact that a psycho was on the hunt for her, or the fact that she was the reason a man was murdered, or that her friend’s life was in danger, also, because of her. Kunle’s presence was also gratifying to Grandma Kehinde. She laughed at his jokes too. Whenever they were at the Veranda, instead of asking Abi to read to her, she would rather want to hear a joke or two from Kunle. This seemed to help Abi a lot. At least, she didn’t have to sit with her patient all day. She could take a break, if she wanted. Her breakfasts never turned into lunch anymore. All these benefits she enjoyed only on mondays and saturdays, which were when Kunle was around.

He had promised to take her Slot to get a phone, since she’s a JJC in Lagos. Entering her room, she checked the wall clock, and found the time to be 11:00 AM. She decided to take a fast shower to cleanse herself of the drugs she reeked of. Kunle was going to arrive in the next thirty minutes or thereabout.

Within twenty five minutes, she was ready. As she walked down the srairs, she was faced with Tonye, who was rather climbing up the stairs. She had not seen him for a week. Lately, if he wasn’t locked in his home office, he was rather outside at work, and he came back really late. He looked somewhat lean, and haggard, the little beard he kept on just his chin and the one on top of his lips had spread round his mouth.

“Good Afternoon Sir.” Abi said, as she wondered what he must have been up to.

Where are you going?” Tonye replied instead, he didn’t give back pleasantaries. He had been busy, alright! Busy with so much work, but this lissome looking beauty had occupied his mind quite intensely, that it seemed uncontrollable not have her in his head. It was part of the reasons he spent more time burying himself in work. He was avoiding her with as much as he could. He never had affairs with his employees; that has been his long time maintained policy. But this Abike Oludare, was giving him a hard time keeping up with his standards.

“Uhmm I-I want to get something?” Abi stammered her words, for she was taken aback by his reply.

To get what?” He said, looking at her in the eyes. Her eyes were tempresses. He loved them so freaking much, he could daydream in them all day.

As much as Abi found his gaze uncomfortable, she disregarded it. He was pissing her off with the rude way he kept asking her unnecessary questions.
To.Get.Some.thing!” She said with a scowl, on the verge of snapping at her boss. She came here to be a nurse, not his little sister. As long as she did her job very well, her whereabouts is none of his concern.
Okay maybe it should, afterall you are a nurse to his frail old grandma durrh!. A voice in her head said, but she regarded it not. He was rude on the onset, and that irks her.

“Abi” He said, moving close to where she stood on the staircase. “Where are you going? And why is Kunle outside waiting for you? It’s friday isn’t it, Kunle isn’t expected to be here until tommorrow. Where the fuck are you guys up to?”

He was pissed. She could sense it in his voice as they stood facing each other. She couldn’t hold his gaze, it was too penetrating, as if a lot was going through his mind as he looked at her. The heat emanating from him as she stood close to her, was intoxicating her in a good way. She felt like leaning on him right that instant. She didn’t understand the feeling at all. What’s wrong with me. She thought to herself.

“Abi, I asked you a question?

Tonye’s voice caused her to withdraw from her bewildering thoughts. He had called her Abi, not Miss Abior Oludare; she noticed. And she found herself liking the way her name rolled off in his tongue.
“I want to get a phone, Kunle will be helping me with that.” She finally said, unable to look at his perusing gaze. Her heart was thumping fast on her chest, the proximity of their position was having profound effects on her. She couldn’t explain it. No one has ever had such effect on her. She loved and hated the feeling at the same; it was good, but confusing.

“You could have asked one of the boys to help with that.” By the boys, he meant those uniformed rigid looking men, she still found scary to have a conversation with.

“Well, it didn’t occur to me to. Those men are quite scary you know?” She said. “Kunle must be waiting Sir, I really have to go now.” She said, trying to escape him.

“That won’t be necessary.” He said. “He has been sent back home.” Tonye replied calmly.

“Why? I don’t understand” Abi asked, a slight fold of confusion, appearing on her forehead. She wanted to get a phone today. She hadn’t heard from Maria. She was worried about her friend. She was also missing her parents. She missed them so much, it hurts. She wanted to hear their voices, wanted to tell them she’s okay. They were probably worried. Worried, was an understatement, she knew they loved her. She was their only child, loved and cared for in all the right ways.

“Because I don’t want you going out with him?” Tonye said gruffly.

What the hell! He was out of his mind as far she was concerned. Boss or no boss, she wouldn’t take rubbish from him. “With all due respect Sir, whoever I want to hang out with is none of your business!” She said, her words laced with infuriation.

The lines that appeared on his face on hearing her response, quite affrighted her. He looked like one of those soldiers who worked for him. She cowered a little in front of him. He looked like he was going to do something dangerous. But what he did wasn’t a dangerous thing, it was totally far from that. It was something no one has ever done to her, something her body seemed to enjoy.

Instead of lashing out at her, Tonye grabbed her firm by the waist. He had taken her by surprise, he knew. She looked at him in the eye now, out of shock. Even her stunned look was enough to give him a hard-on.
His head was dipping downwards, his nose was on hers now. This slow movements of his caused her heart to quicken. Her breath became quite audible. She couldn’t move. She was anticipating what he was about to do. And then he did it! He kissed her so gently and chaste, just that little connection caused her legs  to weaken. 
He lifted his head, to look at her. The look he gave right now, she couldn’t decipher. He was looking at her like he wanted to eat her on the spot.
“Abi…” he said in a sexy hoarse tone, and immediately, bent his head to give Abi another kiss.
This time it was fierce. He was doing all the work. All she did was let him devour her mouth with his tongue. She has never kissed anyone before. She was enjoying the sensation of his breath in hers, the taste of his tongue. The way her body was pressed tightly on his. Like he should go on forever.
When he finally let go her mouth, they were out of breath. Abi found herself licking her lips, a slight blood had appeared on it. It sounded animalistic, but she loved the blood, as she licked it, she relished on their just concluded exercise. She put her fingers on her lips, enjoying the way it felt used.

“If you want a phone, come to me, not Kunle! Here” he said placing a brand new phone in her hands. “Now, go back upstairs.” He said, giving her a kiss on her forehead.

Out of shock, she complied, running straight to her room.
What just happened?!” She said bemusedly, as she slammed the door of her room closed. She had just kissed a man, a man who had a fiancee. A fiancee, whom she lived under the same room with. And the worst part was that she liked him kissing her. She had enjoyed it, not caring if he was engaged. She just acted like a typical Rhexa girl. “ARRRRGGH!” She groaned into her palms. She was ashamed of herself, concluding never to let such happen again.

。。。

Rhexas’ Inn…

“Hey sweetie.” Maria said into the receiver. She was talking to Morris, her seven year old son, who resides in Ogun state with his Aunt.

“Mommy!” the little seven year old shrieked with delight as he heard his mother’s voice.

How are you my baby? Hope Aunty Ifeoma is treating well?”

“Yes she is! Mommy, she bought me a bicycle!”

Just hearing his voice warmed her heart. Six years ago, she left Morris under the care of Ifeoma, her late mother’s sister. As much as the woman tended to complain about Maria, she nevertheless, took care of her niece’s son, just fine. At least she fed him and clothe him right. Maria tries her best to visit her son, although these visits only occur once in a blue moon. But things are about to change. She was going to Ogun soon, not just to visit, but to dwell. She was going to have to look for a new job, which is not going to be easy. This was going to irk Ifeoma. It was going to be burdensome, but Maria had to leave Calabar if ever she wants to stay safe.

“That’s great honey. Did you tell her thank you? She finally replied her son.

Yes mommy”

“Good. Guess what, I’m coming over to see you soon my dear!”

“Yay! I miss you mommy.”

“I miss you too my baby.”

。。

Shit!” Fred almost said aloud as he heard Maria end the call. She has a son?! The knowledge of that pricked him intensely.

At that moment, he felt sorry for her. He has been an informant for years, working for several big companies as a spy against one company or another. He didn’t need to do a background check to know that whoever hired him to spy on Maria was a psychopath. He knew in one corner of his mind, that after he the information he needed, the dude was going to kill her.
These never bothered Fred, but finding out that she has a son, was going to change things. He wouldn’t let another kid become an orphan, he just couldn’t.

The Runaway: VIII

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“Yes, how can I help you?!” Louis, the gateman who worked at Tonyes’ barked at the stranger who knocked continuously at the gate, getting in between his lunch.

“I-I saw the ad.” The stranger answered in a stutter.

“What ad!” Louis asked impatiently.

“The one which required a gardener. I’m here to apply for that position.” The stranger answered politely.

“Alright. Wait here for a minute.” Louis said, leaving the stranger outside the gate for few minutes, before returning with another uniformed man.

Nawa oo. Is this a military base?! The stranger mused upon seeing another military dressed man arrive.

“Your name?” the uniformed man asked the stranger.

“Adekunle Sir.” The stranger provided.

“Alright, Come on in.”

“I’m lieutenant Farouq by the way. You want to apply as a gardener if I’m correct?”

“Yes Sir.” Kunle replied

“Alright. Just fill this form in the next five minutes. You are required twice a week; mondays and saturdays. Anyways, all the terms are included in that form in your hand. It’s good that you-
Mr Kunle!” Farouq yelled at the soon-to-be gardener who seemed not to listening to him at the moment. He looked to be as though he was in a trance.

“Sir?! Sorry Sir. So-sorry about that.” Kunle stammered at his words as he tore his gaze from who obscured his mind.

“Sorry for yourself! You start tommorrow, and if you really want this job, you better keep your head right! Is that clear?” Farouq said angrily.

Yes Sir” If he ever took the job not seriously, he was now, considering what, or rather who he just saw. The lady was a perfect beauty. He didn’t know her. But he found her interesting already. If she indeed resides here, he was more than ready to start his job soon.

。。。

“Good afternoon, I will like to make a call?” Abi said to the young lady who managed the call centre.

“Hello?” Maria picked on first ring.

“Marie baby. It’s me, Abi. H-“

“Oh Abi!” Maria cut her off, her tone mixed with both delight and worry. She continued, in a frenzy, “I’ve been trying to reach you! Oh Abi! a lot has happened, a lot I wish never happened.”

“Wait a minute, please slow down. What are you talking about?” Abi asked. Worry was beginning to set in.

“Look Abi, there is this dude who’s been asking around for your whereabout. It’s a miracle I’m alive right now. What the hell did you do Abi? Cos this man I’m talking about is dead serious about finding you. I mean dead serious!”

“What are you talking about Maria? If this is a joke, please stop it! I don’t like this kyn one at all abeg. Just stop it!” Abi said in a shaky voice, fear was beginning to envelope her.

“Who is joking! I said it’s a miracle I’m alive, you are saying I’m joking. A man is freaking after you. In fact Mr. Udofia is dead!”

“Dead?” Abi couldn’t rap her head around that. “Dead?” She asked again, trying to understand all she had just heard.

“Yes dead Abi, dead! And I’m very sure this man on the hunt for you is responsible. The police came today to deliver the news to Rhexa. They reported his death as homicide, but as of now, no suspect. Look Abi, whoever this man is, is ready to kill anyone just to get to you. I don’t even plan on staying here any longer, I’m definitely relocating. Who knows, he might come back for me.”

Oh Maria,” Abi was in tears now, as she spoke. “Mr. Udofia is dead because of me. What I’m I going to do?”

“Look Abi, don’t you dare. You are not responsible for his death. This was why I didn’t want to tell you about Mr. Udofia. I mean, this killer is obviously a psychopath. I advice that you stay on the low. Instead of coming outside to make a phone call, just go and get a phone, so you could make calls indoors. I doubt he will ever find you, Lagos is a big place. But still, for your own good, just stay indoors, okay?”

“Yes, thank you, Maria” Abi said in a small voice, tears still spilling from her eyes. She still couldn’t bear the fact that Mr. Udofia was dead, murdered because of her. Her friend’s life was also on the line. All because of her. It’s all my fault he is dead. Oh God!

On this, she would never live with herself.

。。。

She is in a body of water, it seemed to look like a sea. She was getting smaller. The wave current of the sea seemed to be too high. She’s struggling with it. Her body is going under now. He is losing her. Oh no no no. She can’t hold on. Now all of her is gone, except her hands which looked to be screaming for a rescue. Then a big wave comes and envelopes that hand. The sea colour changes. Red. Blood. She was gone, she is gone, gone forever. He would never see her again.
Immediately he jolted from the nightmare he has come to embrace as part of his gloomy life for five years now. Therapists tried their best, but no treatment had conquered them. Something was however different about the just concluded nightmare. This time it wasn’t Chidinma drowning, it was Abi.

。。。

As much as he was angry with his mother for her crazy scheme, he had concurred nonetheless. It was a needed one. Tosin as a wife?! He couldn’t imagine having a future with her.

You know I’m right Tonye. If you really want your father to cede those assets to you, you will need a woman by your side. That’s his requirement. I did this for your own good.” His mother had said.

“I can get one for myself!” he had retorted, while his mother just replied with a scoff that spoke volumes. He couldn’t get one for himself. Marraige was yet to enter his life plans. He isn’t ready to settle down, but at the same time, he needed some assets that was conditioned―according to his father―by engagement to a woman.

“You guys fit just fine. I can picture your babies already, they will be sooo cute! You know yourself that Tosin is really beautiful.” His mother had said with so much bliss and smirks, as though she’s really pleased with her handwork.

As much as Tosin looked beautiful, she wasn’t Abi. Tonye found himself comparing the two women. He understood not, why he did, but he did anyway.

He wished he didn’t need the assets so bad. But a man’s got to do what he’s got to do.

Right there, as he signed the document―which attests to his ‘relationship with Tosin―he pondered over a future with his arranged fiancee but found it to be nothing but surreal. The incongruity of it all caused him to make a decision. He would follow through with his mother’s idea, but halfway.

He had a scheme of his own.

The Runaway: VII

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Rhexa’s Inn, Calabar…

There were two policemen, they seem to be waiting on Rhexa’s arrival. Maria had been watching them, battling with the idea of going over to them to discuss her previous gruesome encounter with the fellow who almost choked life out of her. Just then, Rhexa walked in to attend to the men. She directed the them to her office, and few minutes later, she came out with puffy red eyes. The waitresses wondered what was up with their boss. They however, didn’t wonder for long, for Caroline, the olofo of all olofofos came to deliver what she had heard, while eavesdropping.

Hmmm it’s not a good thing oo. Chai!” Caroline said, hugging herself, and shaking her head in a left-right motion.

“What is it!” the waitresses waiting on her gist pressed her further.

“It’s her father oo. Hmm!” she said, taking a pause again, and shaking her head as she did before.

Maria was beginning to sense something terrible. Whatever it is, she had a feeling it’s going to be terrible. She knew Rhexa’s dad, courtesy of Abi.

“He is dead. Somebody killed him. Na wetin the police talk o.”
At that point, the all the hairs on Maria’s neck stood.

Could it be? Oh God! She said inwardly, fright enveloping her. She knew who was responsible, who else could it be?

“Oh God, please let Abi call me today please!” She made a silent prayer; something she has been doing quite a lot lately.

。。。

Tonye’s Residence, Lagos...

Being a nurse to Grandma Kehinde was no joke! The old woman was a pain in the ass, who belly-ached about almost everything. Abi had woken up at six am, following the schedule list delivered to her last night by Nike. When the maid had given her the list, she had gone further to tell Abi how annoying the old woman could be, that it would be a miracle if she lasted, because she drove away the nurses with her frustrating attitude. Abi had underestimated the degree of her patient’s irksomeness, until she experienced it herself this morning.
When Abi tried to help her in having her bath, the old woman had refused. She only allowed Abi wheel her to the bathroom.
“I can do it myself!” She had said indignantly. This was a  frail old lady, who used a wheel chair. But her hands still worked to some degree, so she can as well use them. She also insisted that Abi leave the room, while she dressed.
“Just stay outside the door or something. When I’m done dressing, I will call for you.” Grandma Kehinde had said.
Abi had looked at her patient like the woman was crazy, before finally succumbing to her wishes. She spent forty-five minutes outside the room, waiting for grandma Kehinde. The woman actually, did manage to put herself in a gown. But she couldn’t do her zipper, so Abi had helped her, overlooking the woman’s unnecessary grunts.
After eating her meals and taking her drugs, grandma Kehinde asked that Abi wheeled her round the house. “I’m bored” she had said. As much as Abi found wheeling the stubborn old woman round the big house silly, she complied. It was better than dreading the day a man decides to perform vile actions on her body.

They went to every room as directed by her patient. This, they did for fifteen frustrating minutes. It was as though Abi was playing with an annoying big baby. She wanted to cry. Yes, she had practised nursing, but not on someone like this.

Finally, after fifteen minutes of wheeling, her patient found her spot and time right for her, to stop. They halted at the veranda, where she asked Abi to read to her, the newspaper. After five minutes of listening to Abi’s voice, the woman dozed off. Abi couldn’t be more grateful. According to Nike, the woman slept like the dead for long hours, Abi was grateful for that too.

Immediately after taking her boss’ grandma to her room, Abi made a beeline for the kitchen.
At the moment, she was nuking her already cold meal, even though she was intensely hungry, but a cold food was no food as far as she was concerned.
While she ate, she thought about Maria, and smiled at how her friend would make a joke of her first day as a nurse, finding the story hilarious. She needed someone to laugh with, so she decided to call Maria, before the end of the day.

。。。

Muritala Mohammed Airport…

Tonye, having spotted his mother in the airport, walked towards her to welcome her. She was dressed in an posh jump suit, swaying her hips in a way that turned the heads of men. She’s one to love attention, everyone in the Raymond family knows that. She was a very beautiful woman, of which, having children for, and getting married to Mr. Benson Raymond at the age of seventeen had served her to her advantage. At age forty seven, his mother still carried a youthful look and demeanour; something her husband loves about her. Hell, the man was head over heels for her.

Tonye shook his head mockily as he looked at the way his mother swaggered intentionally and beautifully, in such a way that a man couldn’t help but look.
This woman tho. he mused playfully, as he gave her a warm smile, and welcoming hug.
“Welcome home.” he said.

“Thank you my dear.” Simisola Raymond replied her son, and said further. “There  is someone I will like you to meet.”

Until now, Tonye hadn’t noticed the lady behind his mom.
“Tosin, here is my son, Tonye.” Mrs. Raymond said. The way she emphasized the the first syllables on both names, weird to Tonye.

Nice to meet you” The Tosin lady said in a syrupy tone.

“Nice to meet you too.” Tonye reverted, a slight frown already surfacing. He could sense something wasn’t right.

Seeing her son’s unease, Simisola said, “I think we should start heading home. I’m really famished right now.”

。。。

Tonye’s Residence…

“Welcome ma. Welcome sir.” Nike greeted her boss and his mom, while the other work men took care of the luggages.

When they entered into the living room, they were greeted with the sight of Abi, who was staggering on her feet, as if she just awoke from sleep.

Abi went to bed after eating. She had nothing doing, and found being idle boring. So, she chose to sleep. Better than doing nothing. She had back to the people in the living room―oblivious to their presence―as she went tottled to the kitchen, in the bid to get a glass of water.

Tonye relished the way she lookeright that moment. With her hair rough―probably as a result of sleep―and the way she kept rubbing off sleep from her eyes with her fingers, she looked so innocent. That innocence, to him, was a lure. He hasn’t seen her since last night. She failed to come for dinner, choosing sleep in its stead. She was probably exhausted from the long journey. He didn’t see her this morning either, because he needed to get to the airport.

ehem! ehem! ehem!
The sound of someone clearing her throat brought him back from his riverie.
“Who is she?” Simisola, the ‘throat clearer’, asked her son. As she spoke, slight scowl lines showed on her face. The same showed on Tosins’.

“She’s grandma’s nurse. I hired her recently.” Tonye replied, waving off their frowns.

“Oh, I see…”

Just then Abi emerged from the Kitchen. On seeing an elderly woman, she gave an almost-kneeling gesture, as she greeted Tonye’s mom.

Tonye did the introductions.
“Miss Abi, meet my mom.”
Abi gave a warm smile which faltered immediately, for Mrs Raymond replied with a smile that was entirely forced and false.

Tonye continued with his introductions.
“And meet err….Tosin-“

“His fiancee” Tanya injected, giving an insidious smile, as she stretched her hand to Abi.

The Runaway: VI

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He hadn’t planned on killing Mr. Udofia, but he had had to. His aim was to just threaten questions out of him, just as he did with Maria. But Mr. Udofia had told him, ‘his Abi’ had gone to Lagos with a man, to work as a freaking nurse to his grandma. And he knew what that meant; she was going to be sleeping under the same roof with with her boss. He couldn’t handle it. And to make matters worse, Udofia was the one who incited all these, he couldn’t bear to see him or know that he is alive. His hands balled into a fist, as he imagined whoever the susposed boss could be.

“I will find you Abi, I will!” He said, addressing the dark sky of the night, while standing on his porch.

。。。

Lagos||Tonye Raymond’s Residence…

A gate man, who looked to be dressed in a soldier uniform, opened the gate as Tonye’s vehicle swerved into the compound.

“Oluwa o!” Abi exclaimed in fright as she saw two bull mastifs, and two rottweilers. What are these?
She was already on Tonye’s arms, holding unto him so tight, his muscles were crying for help. She was oblivious to the kind of position she portrayed at the moment, sitting on his lap, her hands around him, and her head intensely burying itself into his chest, as if to escape the beasts of dogs which had emerged in sight of their master’s jeep.

“Hahahahahaha…..” Tonye’s laughter caused her to remove her burrowed head from his chest, bringing her gaze to him.

“You are you laughing?! What the hell are those?” She asked, her face mixed with confusion and apprehension.

“What do they look like?” Tonye sighed, mocking laughter still in his voice.
He continued, “don’t worry, I will tell someone to them to their cages okay?”

“It’s not funny!” Abi said. Although her chest was still beating fast, her fear was somewhat beginning to ebb, being replaced with anger.
He thinks this is funny? she mused.
However, her emerging anger transformed into embarrassment when she realised that all this while, she was on Tonye’s thighs, with her body pressed on his so tight and intimate. With a flushed look, he scurried away from his lap back to her seat.
“Sorry” She muttered in a small voice, her head bowed, facing her sweaty palms which were toying other, out of embarrassment, on her laps. She couldn’t look at him.

Tonye looked at her, a groan almost escaping his lips, as he took in the perfect picture she made. Her hair which had been tied in a bun afore, now had loosed strands falling to her face. The band used to pack her hair upwards was already coming loose, encouraging some strands to fall to her back as well. Her hair looked to be very long, and very full, that his hands itched to remove the band totally, and watch her mane fall, cascading her enticing face.
“Fuck!” Those words, out of their own volition, came out of Tonye’s mouth. She was too beautiful, too perfect.

Abi’s eyes swung to him as she heard his exclaimed words. “What’s the problem?”  She asked, with a brow arched on her forehead

“Fuck” he wanted to say again, as he saw her beautiful heart-shaped face. “Nothing, don’t mind me. You can get down now, the dogs have been taken away.” He said instead.

A man―also dressed in a soldier’s uniform―came to the back seat to lift a sleeping Grandma Kehinde. She had slept all the way from the hospital―where she had been since Tonye travelled to Calabar. Despite the fact that the dogs were not in sight, Abi found herself being unable to move her feet, until Tonye makes a move first. She went to his side, her palms fisting themselves on his biceps.
“Miss Abi, don’t tell me you still think the dogs are out here” Tonye said, looking at her frightened form.
Abi replied not with words, but rather with a look that said what do you think?
Tonye didn’t want her holding him, not because he hated her touch, but rather because he liked it too much, that he was losing his mind.
“Miss Abi…” He said in a warning tone, of which Abi seemed not to notice. As she seemed not to let go, Tonye lifted her in his arms, carrying her into his house.

“What are doing!” Abi exclaimed in surprise.

“I thought you were scared?”

“So? does that mean you must lift me?”

“OOOH! But it means you can hold me huh?” Tonye retorted, but the truth is, he didn’t know why he lifted her, he just wanted to.

“You m-“ Whatever it is she had to say, got interrupted with Tonye’s mood change.
“What the hell.” He said, disgust in his voice, and dropped her on her feet to the ground.
He was disgusted with himself. This was his employee, who hadn’t even spent up to a day as one, and here he was acting like a child who just sighted a lollipop. He wasn’t thinking, just acting. And that wasn’t him. He never loses control. Women went crazy for him, not the other way round. He couldn’t let a mere nineteen year old tamper with his brain.
With a mighty scowl, he  faced Abi, and said brusquely, “Nike will show you your room.”
And with that, he left her stunned, wondering what had caused his mood swing.

The Runaway: V

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Since they left for Lagos, Abi’s been so nervous. She’s been busy making a silent prayer, of her staying in his house for at least a year. The girl, ever an ambituous one, was already making plans in her head:
Work as a nurse for a year, in the space of this, get a phone, save a lot of money, and go back to school―

“I was told you are quite good.” Tonye interrupted her thoughts.

“Ye-ye-yes sir.” She stuttered in reply. Quite good ke? She hadn’t told Mr. Udofia anything about the level of her skills, just her having an experience in nursing. God bless him. She said inwardly. She made a mental note to thank him later.

Tonye responded with a curt nod as he swerved the vehicle through a roundabout. Then he spoke, “Nineteen huh?”

“Yes sir.”

“Hmm”. He said, then continued. “What kind of experience will one have in a space of how many years? Why nursing?”

Is this an interview? Aren’t we already going to Lagos? It’s now this one wants to do interview? Burst my brain. All these, she wanted to say.
“I’ve been into nursing, although not professionally, for about three years. And well, I love nursing, always loved it since I was a kid. Love to help people.”

Keep talking. He wanted her to. He was asking her these questions because he wanted to hear her beautiful voice. Interview be damned! Under normal circumstances, he would have interviewed her, before employing her. But mom was due to be home by tommorrow, he didn’t want unnecessary drama.

“What level are you?” He finally asked.

What level? I don’t understand.” Abi replied.

“What year are you in school?” He asked again.

She went mute. She didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know how to say that she was a nineteen year old in SSS1. It was embarrassing. It was why she had planned to write all her external qualifying exams as soon as she finished SS1, and not after SSS2 as it is normally done.

“Miss Abi?” Tonye was waiting for an answer.

“Ermmm…. Well… I’m not really in a level right now” Abi said, dragging her words.

“What do you mean?”

She couldn’t tell him she’s a village girl, of nineteen years old, in SSS1What if it turned him off? She couldn’t go back to Rhexas’. So, she lied.
“I’m a school drop out. Being out of school for a year, due to lack of funds. Lost my parents two years ago, so life’s been tough and all. So, uhmmm that’s it.” She winced at her lies. Oh God, please forgive me.

“I see. Do you plan on going back to school?”

“Yes!” She said almost too loudly. She missed school.

“Sorry.” She added. She shouldn’t have shouted like that.

“No problem.” Tonye said, smiling fondly at her before turning his gaze back to the road.

Shit! Abi almost said aloud. Her heart just skipped a beat at the beauty the smile added to his already too handsome face. He had one dimple, which made him younger than he already his. She wanted to touch that dimple. He looked too cute when he smiled. It is only out of self-respect that she didn’t lick his face like a dog.

“Anything the problem?” Tonye’s voice took her out of her riverie. Arrgh! She must have been staring at him. She didn’t know she was.

“No-no-thing.” Just then her stomach growled.

At the sound, Tonye looked at her giving her one of his boyish smiles again.
“Hungry, Miss Abi?” He said.

She was more than hungry. She and Maria hadn’t eaten last night. They had traded food for gossip and gists about how Lagos looked like. Now she was really hungry. In the space of the time she had spent during this journey, she had seen lots of hawkers with lots of snacks. She had been tempted to stop one, she just didn’t know how to tell him to stop his vehicle, that she wanted to get something to eat. For some reasons she couldn’t understand, she was quite shy around him. She didn’t want to talk except he prompted it. What if I say nonsense?

“Yes, kind of.” She finally said.

“Hmm Hmm.” Tonye said in an almost teasing tone. Then he stopped two peddlers in a gesture to get a snack and drink. He got two beef rolls and two cans of Cocacola.

“Thank you.” She said, taking one beefroll and the drink.

“Nah….just the drink, the two rolls are for you.” He said realising what she took. Then he added, “except you wanna feed me, I don’t mind.” He winked, a big flirtatious grin on his face.

Abi found herself smiling, who wouldn’t smile to that face. She didn’t reply though, not out of rudeness, but because she knew not what to say. So, she dug into her snack.

。     。     。

What have you gotten yourself into Abi? Maria asked inwardly. She needed to warn her fast. She had told him Abi was on her way to Lagos. She had had to, for the man had almost choked life out of her with his two hard palms. She couldn’t let him kill her. She had a son for goodness’ sake. She couldn’t bear not seeing him again.

I’ve always told you to get a phone! Maria yelled facing the wall of her apartment, where the stranger had dropped her off.

Everyone in Rhexas’ probably think she was out there screwing someone and getting some cash.

She sighed heavily and said a quick prayer: “Oh Lord, don’t let him find her. Please…..”

The Runaway: IV

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For a minute, Tonye Raymond was lost in her eyes. It wasn’t everyday you saw a Nigerian with very dark, black eyes. In fact he has never seen one. She was a sight to behold. Her colour further accentuates the beauty of her eyes, making her look like an extremely cute kitten. Mr. Udofia had told him last night, about a young nurse he had found. But he hadn’t told him how beautiful she was.

“Good Morning Sir.” Tonye heard the girl’s voice, which woke him up from his wonderland.

He cleared his throat before answering, in order to find his voice. “Morning Miss. Oludare.”

Giving his wrist watch a quick glance, he said, “We should leave now. I’m running pretty late.”

He didn’t have time to waste. His mom was coming back from her trip tomorrow. If she met the house without a nurse attending to her mother, she would tear his eyes out. This was something that up till this day, still amused Tonye. His mother, Mrs Simisola Raymond, had imposed her mother on him. She had given the excuse of not always being around, being busy, and bla bla bla. No one wanted to take care of the woman, including the twins―his elder sisters. Not that you can blame them though; Grandma Kehinde was a pain in the ass. No nurse ever lasted up to six months with her. She always found something to complain about them. Tonye couldn’t count how many nurses he had hired. As much as this irks him, he never complained, because when his mom and dad were busy going on business trips, Grandma was the one who nurtured him. Grandma was his best friend. So, when they had all placed her under his care, he had obliged.

“Alright. Just a minute please, I need to get my bag.” Abi said, making a turn to Mr. Udofia’s Mitsubishi. And at that moment, her voice brought back memories. She reminded him of the waitress at Rhexas’, who was to bring him his order before the ‘supposed robbery’ distorted everything. For reasons he couldn’t nail, that voice had come singing in his head last night. If this was the waitress from yesterday, then he must have been stupid to have thought her to be one of those girls who bleached the life out of their skins. The girl looked to be a mulatto. Fine, she had a nigerian accent, and her names are all Yoruba, but you could tell that her colour was hers, no distortions.

However, one can’t really blame him for assuming she was all bleached during their first encounter. His experience with girls was what turned him into someone who ceased to date fair girls. There had been quite a number of ladies he had taken home to meet his needs, only to find that at the middle of probably a striptease, he would see lots of green, black, weird veins all over, or back-palms that are extremely darker than they should. Having had enough of such girls, he had made a decision to date only girls with darker skin, not that he was dark himself. He was those kind of people you couldn’t place as either dark, or fair in complexion.

The sound of the passenger door of his jeep pulled him out from his thoughts.
And as he kicked off the engine, set for Lagos, he made a mental note: she’s going to be trouble.

。     。     。

“What’s your name beautiful?”

Maria smiled at the good looking man she was to take an order from. She wanted tips.

“Maria”. she answered.”

I want tips too. The good-looking man said inwardly.

“What can I get you?” Maria continued, since the man was only smiling at her, and not saying anything anymore.

“You.”

Maria inwardly rolled her eyes. Stupid man.

“How much?” She spoke through her teeth. She was only doing this for money. She had a lot of debts on her neck.

The man named a very a good price, which made her mouth to water. She gestured to the rooms upstairs. Best to get it over with, as soon as possible. But the man said,
“No, my place.”

With that, they went out into the parking lot and trotted to the man’s car. As they both sat on the car seats, the man slipped his hand into his pockets and brought out, not his car keys, but a gun.

The Runaway: III

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“I know you won’t use them, but take them nonetheless. You never can tell.” Maria said, tossing a mascara, an eye liner, a lipstick and Iman into Abi’s duffel bag.
Maria had supported her decision to work as a nurse.
“You’ve never fitted into Rhexas’. You are the good one my dear. Wouldn’t wanna see you tainted. Best you grab this job baby gal.” Maria had said. She was going to miss her roommate but she knew the nineteen year old lady was better off outside Rhexas’. She hadn’t witnessed the ‘robbery’ being that she was on her day off. She had been so worried about Abi. She couldn’t reach her because the girl had no phone. Seeing Abi on her doorstep two hours ago was a breather. She had jumped and hugged her, explaining her worry. They’ve only known each other for three months and have been close friends since then.

Abi didn’t protest when the makeup items landed into her bag. Maria has been putting all sorts of things inside her bag. She made sure Abi didn’t take any clothes that she owned. She had always hated Abi’s poor choice of clothes.
These clothes of yours tho. Hian! Must all your skirts reach your ankles? Ahan!” Maria had complained bitterly, replacing Abi’s clothes with some of hers.

“You know I’m going there to become a nurse right? Not for a beauty pageant.” Abi finally spoke up, finding everything Maria’s been doing unnecessary.

“Babe, nurses don’t dress like they are mourning. They always look smart.” Maria retorted, her hands going all akimbo, and her eyes shooting daggers.

“Girl, you don’t need make-up to look smart.”

“And clothes nko?” Maria fired back.

“Okay, maybe you need clothes.” Abi agreed.

“Good.” Maria said.

But she wasn’t finished.

“Just say it.” Abi said. She could see that her friend was biting her tongue against another remark, just by how rigid her face looked.

“You still need make-up madam. Hmph!” Maria chided finally, the tension on her face softening immediately. She has made her point.

Abi just replied with a shake of her head. Maria always loved to win an argument. She was struggling to close the zipper of her bag when Maria tossed a pair of pencil high-waisted gray jeans and a cropped top.

“It cannot enter abeg!”

“I’m not giving you for the bag. It’s for you to wear tomorrow. You have to dress the way you want to be addressed.”

Abi arched a brow looking at Maria like the girl had gone mad. “Dress the way you want to be addressed? This shirt has ‘DO ME’ written on it. Are you blind?! Dress the way you want to be addressed.” She said again, rolling her eyes.

“Ugh! Fine.” Maria said rummaging through her wardrobe. “Here.” She gave another crop top to Abi, this time with nothing written on it. Just plain black.

Nawa for you oo. Must it be cropped?” Abi said, scowling at the girl in front of her.

“Mtchewwww!” Maria hissed heavily before speaking. “Look, the jeans is high-waisted Miss Complainer of the year! So, if you are worried of your stomach being bare, you shouldn’t. I’m not trying to make you look like a hooker, I’m trying to make you look presentable. This soon-to-be boss of yours is obviously a rich man, seeing someone dressed haggardly will definitely be a turn-off. So stop worrying and look nice for once. You deserve a little show off of your nice shape.”

“Ohhhh so now I have shape.” Abi replied grinning from ear to ear.

“Ugh! Obviously. Just because your boobs or ass or hips, or whatever, aren’t as big as mine doesn’t mean you don’t have at all. One doesn’t have to have an over-sized bossom, or a fat behind to be qualified sexy.”

“You want to burst my brains out abi?”

“No babe. This is me being all emotional. Seeing you leaving is pushing me to tell the truth.”

“Awwn. It’s okay. Don’t worry, we will get in touch with each other. I have your phone number.”

“Yes, but don’t have a phone.”

“I will get one.” Abi replied, smiling.

“You better. Oya, come give me a hug before my emotional mode runs off.”

“Yes ma’am.”

。          。          。

THE NEXT DAY…

Abi took in her appearance in the mirror for the umpteeth time. She was pleased with her look. The jeans brought out her very thin waist, ―Maria had mended it her size yesterday―announcing her hips and making her curvier. The cropped top was a tight one which accentuated her boobs. Maria was right. She wasn’t unsexy.

“Abi!” She jerked at Maria’s voice.

“Yeah!” She said, running to the entrance door, where Maria stood.

“Good morning  Mr. Udofia” Abi said, giving an almost-kneeling gesture―as a symbol of respect―as she spotted the man that saved her yesterday.

“Good Morning Miss Abi. It’s best we get going, wouldn’t want to miss him.”

“Okay, let me just get my bag.”

Within three minutes she got her bag, she and Maria said their goodbyes and was in Mr. Udofia’s Mitsubishi Gallant car.

In an hour, they were in front of a luxurious hotel.

“Mr. Udofia?” Abi broke her gaze from the hotel building, as she heard a familiar hoarse, rich, totally male voice.

She couldn’t see the face because the man was in a jeep, parked near Mr. Udofia’s side. He looked like he was leaving the hotel.

“Mr. Raymond?! Oh! thank goodness. Thank goodness we met you just in time. C’mon Abi, get down from the car. Come meet your new boss.”

And Abi got down, and did meet her new boss.

You’ve got to be kidding me. UGH!

The Runaway: II

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Mr. Udofia, as she had learnt the 50-something year old man to be, just saved her life. Abi couldn’t be more grateful. She took in the surroundings of his living room. The structure explains a comfortable owner, not a rich one. She spotted a framed picture on the wall, showing a man and a woman, obviously himself and his wife. There was s girl that looked to be about sixteen. She looked like a younger Rhexa, which caused Abi to blink in confusion.

Yes, she’s my daughter.” Mr Udofia said, sensing her confusion. She didn’t know when he entered. He had gone to get her a glass of water while she busied herself with a view of the house.

“Wow”. Abi said internally. It still seemed weird to her. She couldn’t imagine Rhexa as their daughter. The 28 year old woman used girls for money but her father, the man was obviously a religious man. You could assert that, just by the various Christian posters on the wall, and the crafted images of Jesus, Mary and some Angels, as outlined on a shelf.

“I know what you are thinking.” Mr. Udofia said, reading her mind again.

He sighed heavily, and continued in a sad tone. “Her name isn’t Rhexa, she is Tima. Rhexa and everything she’s become is kind of like a symbol of new beginnings for her.”

“New beginnings?” Abi asked.

“Well, you see, I couldn’t take care of my family. Was a really poor man. The poverty probably killed my wife.” He said with a shaky voice, but cleared his throat to continue. “After her death, things got worse. I drank a lot, not attending to the one person that should matter to me the most. I thought I had already lost that person. I never knew I was leading my daughter astray. Long story short, my mistakes have made her into what she is today. Everyday, I go to Rhexas’ to watch over my baby. Everyday, I am saddened at the fact that I didn’t pay attention. I thank God that she wasn’t around today to witness the robbery. I don’t know what I could have done.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Abi asked, not meaning to be rude. She just felt the man was getting at something. You don’t just open up to a complete stranger like that.

Instead of giving her a straightforward answer, he asked, “What are you doing at Rhexas’ Miss Abi?”

“What do you mean?”

“Look my dear, I’ve been visiting Rhexas’ for a long time to know everything and every worker there. In fact it was one of my buildings.”

“One of your buildings?”  Abi asked.

“Yes. But that’s not what I’m driving at. What I’m saying is that you don’t belong there. Anyone could tell. You don’t look like a typical Rhexa girl.”

Abi didn’t reply, she just gave him a scowl. You don’t look like a typical Rhexa girl. In otherwords, you are all bones, not sexy. These city people tho, they can make you feel shapeless. She said internally, biting her cheek so as not to voice it out.

Mr. Udofia continued all the same.
“I don’t think any reasonable father would be happy if they found out that their daughter worked at Rhexas’.” He looked at her intently as he spoke.

“What’s wrong with this man?” He was giving her the creeps like there is more to what he’s saying.

“What are you getting at?” She finally asked.

“Have you any skills in nursing?” the man answered her question with a question. Again.

Out of ethics, she answered.
“Yes, I do. At a time I worked in a hospital as an assistant nurse.”

“How old are you?”

“Nineteen.”

The man arched a brow, but quickly recovered from his surprise. Too young to work in Rhexas’. He thought, before he finally spoke.
“Good. There is a nursing job available. I spoke with a man who has been in a search for the perfect nurse for his grandmother. He would be going back to Lagos tomorrow. Told Tima about it, she turned it down. I hope you don’t turn it down. You have only today to decide. We will meet him tomorrow before he leaves for Lagos. That I couldn’t save my daughter doesn’t mean I can’t save others. You don’t belong in Rhexas’ Miss Abi. Choose wisely.”

。            。           。           。

He was going all cow, thrashing a lot of things in his room. How come they couldn’t find her? He knew she worked at Rhexas’. He had visited the place since he found out about her hiding place. He hadn’t believed at first. Abi was such a goodietooshoes girl. He always saw her that way. It took him two months to find her. He planned to capture her today but it looks like his plan had failed. He had told the kidnappers he had hired to stage the whole thing. They were to make it look like a robbery, while they abducted her. Her abduction was the main goal.

“How come!” He yelled with rage to no one in his empty house. He had always wanted Abi. He’s been obsessed with with everything about her. Her colour, and very beautiful dark eyes enticed him. And her voice, oh her voice, he remembered the first day he heard her speak in class. She was providing an answer to a biology question asked by a teacher. That lush tone of hers had given him a hard-on right away. It still gave him whenever he thought of her. He was having one right this moment.

Hearing about her escape―a flying gist in Aregun―had caused him simmering. He couldn’t bare not seeing her ever again. Thus, he had gone hunting and searching. Finally, he found her, in the last place he could ever imagine ‘his Abi’ to be. He would visit Rhexas’, order a meal, buy a drink, or rent a room, just to see ‘his Abi’. He had noticed how uncomfortable she always seemed to be, as though she hated the inn. He noticed everything about her. The way she frantically lifts her lowly hung V-neck shirt. The way she would intentionally walk stiffly, to prevent her little hips from swaying in the tight bum shot she wore. Everything.

Realizing how very uncomfortable she always looked, he had wanted to save her. He could simply approach her, make her fall in love with him and get her to marry him. But he knew Abi. She wasn’t a type to woo easily. But he has waited for a long time. His clandestine feelings are eating him up. His patience, wearing down. So, he sought an alternative―abduct her. She would thank me later. He had thought to himself.

Now, he has to go hunting again, for she had manage to escape. Again.

“Lucky bitch!!” He spoke with stronger fury.

He looked down at his trousers and shook his head. He was already a mess. Thus, he walked to his bathroom, mumbling something like “she would be the death of me.”

He is indeed obsessed.

The Runaway: I

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Present Day…

Abi looked at the men in the inn with disgust. About 80% of them were pervs. They were either grabbing or smacking a waitress’ butt or sliding their cards in cleavages for a hotel quickie or whatever promiscuity it is they engage in. She’s been working in Rhexa’s Inn for three months now. Been a waitress here sucks, but it’s all she’s got to support herself.

She still remembered the day she found herself in Calabar. She had been so keen on her escape from home and hadn’t thought about the fact that she knew nowhere outside Aregun village. Still, she hadn’t cared. She entered every bus she saw people entering, paying her fare with the money she had stolen from her father’s calabash safe. When she had arrived Calabar, she was already out of cash. She didn’t know where she was and was quite terrified with how big the city is, its crowded state, and the huge structure of some houses and outfits. Everything was new, and fascinating.She had heard stories of how beautiful the city is compared to the village, from some undergraduates who would come visiting their parents in Aregun. She had always wanted to experience the city life considering the sweet stories she had heard.

Right now however, she wasn’t enjoying any of it. She works in a inn where a man could sexually touch a waitress and that waitress couldn’t do anything about it, because according to Miss. Rhexa―the owner of the inn―the customers come first. Sometimes she would see some waitresses slip upstairs―where the rooms are located for the guests―after their shift for the day. She knew what it meant. It meant that they were probably satisfying the needs of the customer. Obviously married men would be seen ogling over another lady’s ass or having a sexual relationship with them. Things aren’t like these where she came from. There are morals in Aregun. Girls don’t wear skimpy things or flirt openly like what she’s been exposed to for the last three months in Rhexas’. She bet almost every girl in the inn has been screwed by one male customer or the other. Some of the waitresses seemed to like it, while others seemed to do it because they needed the cash, like her friend, Maria.

Maria was Abi’s life saviour. She had taken Abi in, when the girl was stranded in a street in Calabar. She had been on her way home from Rhexas’ when she saw Abi crying and had asked what was wrong. Hearing Abi’s story, she knew the girl would probably get lost or end up in the hands of rapists or kidnappers. So, she had taken Abi to her one bedroom apartment. She allowed her eat and sleep under her roof for two weeks. Later, seeing that she couldn’t support two mouths on her own, she had told Abi to come work for Rhexas’, that there’s been a vacant spot for a while.

Abi had refused for a week having heard about how Rhexas’ worked. You might leave your home dressed like a nun, but once you are at the inn, you are required to wear the skimpy and showy clothes, called a uniform. There were two uniforms, a top with a lowly hung V neck and a bum shot, and a highly mini splitted skirt with the same V neck shirt. Whichever is given to you, your luck. None was of good luck as far as Abi was concerned. She had given in later anyway, because she had to support Maria either way. The girl can’t continue feeding her for free. She also knew Maria felt for her, but had had no choice.

Don’t worry, those men won’t notice you. They love their women plump in the right places.”  Maria had said, giving Abi a run-over with her eyes.

Meaning?” Abi had chided feeling slightly insulted.

“Omo no vex. But you know, you are all flat and skinny. Lepa shandy.” Maria had replied giving  Abi’s ass another run-over.

“I’m not flat! How can someone who uses a 38C bra size be flat. Haba. Give me small credit mama.” Abi retorted.

Speaking in between hysterical giggles, Maria had said, “OK, mama sexy, if you say so. But me oo, I know it would be a while before any man will get his hands on you. You gotta be voluptuous to be hands on babe.” She shook her 42D boobs to Abi’s face to make her point.

And truly, no man has had his hands on Abi since she’s been working there. Every waitress like Maria had said, was fat in the right places. They looked like certified hookers. Abi had always thought she was lithe, not skinny. However, the kind of women she saw in Rhexas’ made her feel skinny. Rhexa had relunctantly employed her.

“PIGS.” She muttered after scanning the faces of the men with disgust. She trotted towards table 39 to take a man’s order as instructed.

“Good evening Sir, what can I get you?” She said holding a jotter tab and a pencil.

The man gave a disgusted grunt as though he would prefer someone else attending to him. He didn’t look at her face. Just her slim thighs. It was as though he was trying to check her out from the toe to her head but felt irritated at the middle of his mission. He looked down to his table, shook his head and said “Just give me fried rice and chicken. And water please.” He said those words still looking at his table.

Men who come here love their ladies thick. And Abi thanked God for that. If getting disgusted looks is what will save her from their touch, then so be it.
“Coming up, right away.” She said politely.

The man instantly swung his head to her direction, but she was already backing him, walking towards the kitchen area to get his order ready. Too bad.
She had this feminine rich voice that screamed intelligence and lushness. That was what had attracted him the first time. But what he saw displeased him, he didn’t need to look at her face, he already knew how she would look like. Girls with her type of skin colour were never really beautiful; that was his belief. Beautiful voice, wasted just like that. Too bad. He mused.

Then a yell broke his thought…..

“Everybody down!”

And everyone was down indeed, lying face down on the floor. Rhexas’ was been raided. Considering how the girls were dressed, these armed robbers were definitely going to do more than stealing.
“Oh no, oh no”. Abi paled at the thought of being raped She was with a tray of food to be set on table 39 when the armed men had stormed the building. Now, the food and tray were clattered on the floor, and she was lying face down near a man, who should be about 50-55 years of age.

“Miss, miss”. The 50-something man said in hush tone near Abi.

“I think we both know what is going to happen to you girls right?”

Abi didn’t reply, the question needed none. It was an obvious nakba.

“Come with me.” The man said, stretching out his hand towards her.

Abi replied with her eyes going all wide, out of fear.

“You can trust me, don’t worry. You come with me, and you are saved from these hoodlums, you don’t and you know what happens.”

Abi didn’t trust him, but she went with him anyway, crawling their way to an exit door, she never knew existed.