Tobi rushes into the house frantically while screaming for Abena. He ran up the stairs and checked every room, slamming doors with anger and frustration.
Listing a lot of colorful words un-der his breath, he checked the indoor pool and the cinema room. She was nowhere to be found. He screamed out of anger and rested on the wall wearily, doing what he never thought he would do.
He hit the wall over and over again until his knuckles bled.
But she wasn’t home, and the only sound he could hear was his anger over the silence. He berated himself quic-kly. Throwing a pity [email protected] won’t bring his Abena back.
Shaking his head, he fished out his phone from his pocket and dialled Joseph’s number.
“What’s up?” He heard his friend say over the phone.
“She’s gone. She’s not home, I thought her appointment was tomorrow but I think it was moved to today. I’m so scre-wed right now! What am I supposed to do?” Tobi [email protected] over the phone, wiping the tears that he allowed flow freely on his cheek.
“Calm down man. This-.”
“I can’t bloody calm down! What am I supposed to do admit!” Tobi roared in frustration.
“Well I can’t tell you what to do if you don’t shut the hell up and listen to me!” Joseph snapped.
“Sorry. Okay. What would I do? I’m not thinking clearly at all. Everything is just a jumbled mess in my head.” Tobi said quietly.
“I know. But if we’re going to find her, you have to chill. First, call the police.” Joseph said.
“The police? They won’t do anything. It’s not even up to twenty four bloody hours, they won’t take the case.” Tobi scratched his head in frustration and stomped his foot.
“Oluwatobiloba! Calm the hell down!” Joseph shouted over the phone. “You’re Tobi Ademi. You own half of the police f0rç£. Make a call, tell them to bring some guys over, the good ones oh. Not those pussies who are usually afraid. I’ll come with Francis.”
“Francis. The pri-vate investigator guy?” Tobi said more calmly. He was now sitting down on the arm of a couch in the sitting room, checking his other phone for the number of the head of the police f0rç£.
“Yes, that Francis. Get the police to come to your house, Francis, his guys and I would start coming right now.” He could hear Joseph stand up and some papers shuffling. “Don’t do anything stupid Tobi.”
“Yes but what if you guys come too late and they’ve alre-ady taken her away. If I go now, I would be able to get to her before they leave.”
“Of course, why not? Go into a den of kidnappers by yourself, and unarmed too.” Joseph replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “Take a drink and sit the hell down. Wait for me. I’ve alre-ady left the hospital.”
“I know. I un-derstand. We’ll get her back, I promise. Just stay put and don’t do anything stupid.”
Tobi nodded although his friend couldn’t see him.
“Tell your driver to step on it then.”
Abena woke up in a large bus with a pounding headache. She felt dizzy, and every image in front of her seemed blurry. She ru-bbe-d her eyes as the events that happened earlier pla-yed in her mind. She suddenly began to panic. She looked around and saw other women just like her.
They all looked the same way she felt, drowsy and tired. Some were still asleep, but some were struggling to keep their eyes open. The bus wasn’t moving, she looked around, trying to find a way to plan her escape before she was sh!pped off to God knows where.
She looked behind her, the modeling house was still in sight. She sat up slowly, ignoring the waves of pain that sh0t throu-gh her back. She cracked her n£¢k and knuckles, feeling temporary relief, the craned her n£¢k to get a better look at the door.
She heard some men coming closer to her, so she leaned down on the uncomfortable leather seat and peered at them, being careful while trying to make herself invisble. One of them was holding a notepad and writing things down, the other one, that manager, was telling him something. She strained her ears to listen into their conversations.
“I want them arranged according to how many months pregnant they are. I’ve put the tags on their backs-”
Abena reached for her back and felt a piece of paper plastered to her shi-t.
“The nine months pregnant women would be dropped first at the brown warehouse, a doctor would be there to receive them, the couple that wants the child is flying in tomorrow. All the other ones should be taken into the smaller warehouse. Feed them well, so that by the time they’re due, the babies would be healthy enough for sale.”
Her jaw dropped and her breath quic-kened.
“You’re not coming with us to the east sir?” The smaller man asked.
“No. I have urgent matters to attend to. Don’t make any mistakes or else, he would have my head.” The manager instructed harshly.
“Ahmed would follow you, he’ll be driving. To make sure you don’t mess up. Get going in the next ten minutes.”
The man nodded and scurried away.
*Ten minutes later*
She tried to stand up, then she noticed the chain fastened on her leg. She swore loudly earning the look of the manager. He just sm-irked at her, a sm-irk that she hated. A sm-irk that showed evil things to come.
“You’re not going anywhere. So sit down, and enjoy the ride.”
She placed her hand on her stomach, as though she could protect it.
Protect her baby.
She had heard about them on the evening news, they kidnapped pregnant women, and gave their babies up for adoption, for a price too.
She shook her head in disgust. Why buy a baby when you could just adopt one? Then she looked back, as the bus started to move, and saw Tobi running frantically towards them. But he wasn’t fast enough.
Tobi drove furiously towards the modelling house, two cars occu-pied by casually dressed police men and some of Francis’ guys followed him in tow, trying desperately to keep up with his speed.
Joseph sat beside him, shouting every time they almost hit a car or a person. He would have drove, but his leg was still bad. He had to wrestle with the doctor, literally, before he was allowed to leave.
“There it is!” Joseph exclaimed as they pu-ll-ed up sharply in front of the modelling house. Tobi ran out of his car, slamming the door harshly behind him, while Joseph folded his arms in anger; he would be missing all the action.
“Check every inch of this place! They wouldn’t have left by now!” He ordered and all the hefty men stormed into the almost deserted building, slamming doors and shouting.
Tobi noticed a bus at the back of the building, and gestured quietly for two men to follow him. He held a pistol in his hand, although he had never held one before, talk less of shooting at someone, but at that moment, he knew exactly what he was doing.
He crept to the back of the building, going slowly to the bus. His eyes wi-de-ned when he saw Abena, but before he could do anything, the bus started to move.
A sudden bur-st of adrenaline [email protected]£ throu-gh his veins and he chased the bus, as fast as he could, screaming in frustration because he wasn’t fast enough. He st©pped, sweating profusely, and bent down, hands on his knees.
The men behind him started to shoot at the bus. “What are you idiots doing?” He roared at them, running back and gr-abbing one by his collar.
“She’s inside the bus you bloody idiot! Are you trying to bring her back to me dead?” He shouted and pushed the man f0rç£fully, causing the man to stumble back in fear.
“Search that building! There has to be a clue, just one clue. Get me something, all of you, now!”
They all scurried away into the building, while Tobi walked back to his car. He opened the door and sat beside Joseph, who looked very uncomfortable with his cast in the car.
“I lost her. I saw her, but they were alre-ady moving and…”
“Well there has to be something in that building that would tell us where they’re going. St©p seating here sir, when you can be inside there, tearing that place [email protected] I know it’s not easy, you’re running out of your mind right now. But you’re going to have to be in your right mind, or you won’t find her. Think like Tobi Ademi.” Tobi nodded, knowing his friend was right.
He reached for his friends chair and reclined the seat. “Thanks man.” Joseph smiled.
“Now go get something tangible and st©p being such a p—y.”
Tobi charged back to the building with determination.
“Well, anything?” He barked at the men who were tearing the place [email protected] They shuffled throu-gh papers, do¢v-ments and hacked into the computers.
“Sir. We found this man hiding at the back of the building.”
They dragged a wiry looking man towards Tobi. His eyes were wi-de with fear, and he alre-ady had a bustedl-ip. There was a tag on his shi-t that re-ad, ‘Manager’.
Tobi gave a sinister sm-irk. There was not a merciful bone in him anymore. He gestured for them to stra-p him into a seat, while he twirled his pistol on his f!nger. He was re-ady to do whatever it would take.
“Why don’t you take a seat while you and I have a chat about where you took my girl to?”
Abena sobbe-d quietly at the back of the bus, while trying to re-move the chain that gr!pp£dti-ghtly to her ankle.
She had untangled it, and all that was left to do, was to un-hook it from her ankle. She was bending down, much to her discomfort, tugging at the chain gently, to prevent anyone from hearing her. She was starving, and it was eating her up inside. It made her even angrier.
A hungry pregnant woman was not to be messed with.
They had been driving for hours, and finally pu-ll-ed up into a filling station. No one looked at them suspiciously, the [email protected] of the modelling house was on the bus, and most of the women were slee-ping.
One man [email protected]£ out of the bus and walked into the supermarket. The other one, Ahmed, was buying fuel into the bus, and into another keg, probably as a reserve. The door to the bus wasn’t locked, and she had finally re-moved the chain. Her ankle was throbbing, her b©dy ached, and her bladder was full. But she didn’t . bother about all of that.
She crawled quietly in the middle of the seats, thankful for her small stature, and made her way to the door of the bus.
She felt a hand gr-ab her and another woman looked at her with pleading eyes.
“They’ll catch you.” She whispered.
“Then at least I tried.” Abena said and re-moved her hand from the woman’s grip.
She had gone this far, nothing was st©pping her.
She got to the door of the bus, and dragged it open quietly. The driver had earphones in, and was still buying fuel while nodding his head to the music, and the other man was nowhere to be found.
She crept out of the bus, re-sisting the urge to stretch. She would do that later. She looked around, and decided to hide in the toilet until they left. Then she would find her way home.
Her mind drifted to Tobi as she walked as swiftly as she could with all the pain in her lim-bs.
The expression on his face while he chased the bus. The fear was obvious, written in his eyes. He was afraid of losing his baby. She un-derstood. And she didn’t want to lose her baby to a bunch of greedy criminals either. She walked into the supermarket, noticing the man that followed them. He was packing a lot of snacks; probably for the women in the bus.
She walked in the middle of some shelves, bending down so he wouldn’t see her, and made her way to the toilet.
As she got to the door of the female toilet, she let out a breath of relief and started to open the door. Then she felt a pres£nce behind her. Before she could react, she felt a cold metal on her back.
“Did you really think you’ll escape? Ehn? You ehn, you’ve entered wahala. Now you’ll walk out with me, with a broad smile on your face. One wrong move, and you and that unfortunate child of yours would never see light again. Oya be going.”
Tobi drove into the filling station just in time. After asking the manager, who was now sitting in a filthy prison cell with a broken leg and more than enough bruises, he headed to the filling station he talked about.
Traffic was good, and in an hour, he was alre-ady there. As he pu-ll-ed up into the filling station, he saw the bus parked in a corner. But the next thing he saw made his blood boil.
Abena walked out with a greasy looking man, with a strained smile on her face. He was very sure that there was a gun pressed to her back. He walked out of the car, as calm as he could, and walked towards the car behind him.
“Police guys. Do your thing.” He simply said and in a flash, they were running out of the car, pointing their guns and shouting for everyone to get down. The man visibly stiffened behind Abena.
Tobi walked up to the man, gun in his hand.
“Are you okay?” He asked Abena softly. His eyes softened for that second. She nodded, her face flooded with relief, although she was still afraid.
“Let her go.” Tobi snarled at the man.
Instead, he pointed a gun at Abena’s head, which made her whimper in fear.
“Don’t even try it.” Tobi growled.
“Let me leave, then you get your wife.” The man replied, although his voice was shaky.
“Wrong move bro.” Francis said from behind him, a gun pointed to his head.
“Let the girl go, now.” Tobi barked and the man re-leased Abena immediately. “Throw your gun on the floor and kick it away from you.”
The man complied and Tobi reached for Abena, pu-lling her into a ti-ght hvg.
“I thought I lost you.” He whispered.
bu-tterflies swarmed her stomach, but she knew he was talking to the baby, and not her.
“Tobi. You’re killing the baby.” She scolded pla-yfully. He loos£ned his grip but still had his arms wra-pped around her. She relaxed in his arms.
When next would she have the chance to be in them again?
“I’m so glad you’re okay. God! I was so scared.” He whispered into her hair. “They were going to… my baby, Tobi.” She sobbe-d quietly.
“Its okay love. I’m here now.”
Her heart fli-pped at the word ‘love’. She pushed the thoughts out of her mind. She nodded and let him lead her towards the car. Police men had swarmed the place alre-ady, and the pregnant women were taken into ambulances.
“We have to st©p at the hospital first, to make sure you’re okay.” He said and she just nodded in reply.
“I had no idea you could handle a gun.” She tea-sed.
“I’ve watched enough American movies to know how to be an agent.” She laughed and he opened the car, helping her into the backseat.
“Besides, I’m Tobi Ademi. There’s nothing I can’t do.”
She rolled her eyes and averted her gaze, looking out of the window.
She was falling fast, and for a second there, she had a feeling he was falling too. But the contract still [email protected] between them, and there was no way Tobi Ademi would fall for a girl like her.
“You do realise that I’m perfectly capable of walking by myself, right?”
Tobi had insisted on carrying Abena bridal style when they got back from the hospital, and although she liked the clos£ness, very much, she was obviously not going to show it.
They had gone to the hospital first, to drop Joseph, much to the displea-sure of the doctor.
Apparently, he was a handful.
Then, after Abena had her check up, they [email protected]£ home.
“Abena, you know the doctor said that your b©dy would be so-re. So be a good girl and shut up so I can set you up in the bathroom.” He easily manoeuvre throu-gh the door, up the stairs and into her room. He dropped her gently on the be-d, and went into her bathroom. She heard water rushing and after a while, he [email protected]£ out.
“So, I’ve set the bathtub for you. It should relax your muscles. What would you like to eat?” He asked, wiping his we-t hands with a towel.
“You are acting so nice, it’s weird.” She pointed out.
“I’m always nice, you just didn’t know. Now answer before I change my mind.”
She rolled her eyes and smiled. Well, it would be good to make good use of the situation.
“Fried rice plea-se. Chicken included, and bananas too.”
“Okay then. Get into the bathtub before it gets cold, or would you nee-d help in there too?” He wiggled his eyebrows at her and she started laughing.
“No, thank you. I think I can manage.”
“Suit yourself.” He shrugged with a smile. “Shout if you nee-d anything.”
After he left, Abena peeled off her clothes slowly. She remembered that they forgot to get her phone back from the kidnappers. Her gaze wandered to the iPhone that Tobi gave her. She shrugged to herself; nothing wrong with accepting his gift. At least, now, she would be able to video call with Demi.
She missed that boy so much, it hurt. But she knew they had to be [email protected] He had to get better. She knew he was going to get better, that was why she was pregnant for a price.
And now, she was getting more than she bargained for.
“Tobi, what time is the interior decorator coming tomorrow?” Abena asked as she walked down the stairs, wearing her old [email protected] and the shi-t Tobi let her wear the day they went shopping.
“I buy you a whole closet, yet you still wear my shi-t?” Tobi raised his eyebrow and gave an amused smile.
“It’s comfortable. Don’t ask questions if you find out that your shi-ts are missing.” She shrugged and sat down on the stool, resting on the kitchen island.
Tobi was flawlessly chopping the vegetables and she could see that the rice was alre-ady cooking. He was wearing an apron, and she realised that the situation seemed domestic again.
“The interior decorator would not be coming tomorrow. I moved your appointment to next week.” He said, while getting the frying pan from a cu-pboard.
“Because, you’ve had a rou-gh day, so I decided to stay home for this week to take care of you.” Her skin warmed up at his words. “You nee-d to rest na, and we have plans tomorrow.”
“Plans? What kind of plans?” She said, while taking a carrot from the bowl. He [email protected] her hand pla-yfully and re-moved the bowl, placing it far away from her.
“That’s for later.” He said, referring to the carrots. “And we have lunch at Joseph’s place tomorrow, you’ve been specially invited by Dera. He is leaving the hospital tomorrow morning, and we are coming to [email protected] his ‘freedom’, from the apparently evil doctor.” She bur-st into laughter.
“Joseph is a handful.” She smiled.
“And after that, I’m taking you out.”
“Where?” She asked curiously.
“The Quillox club.” He shrugged.
“The Quillox club? You nee-d to be worth at least millions of naira before you can even enter the parking lot!” She pointed out.
He just smiled at her, then mixed the chopped vegetables together. He poured it into the frying oil and it made a sizzling sound.
“Babe, I own the Quillox club.”
She just rolled her eyes, not looking surprised at all.
“I’m not even surprised any more jare. Before I know it now, you’ll tell me that you own half of the Nigerian Government.” She said sarcastically.
“I don’t own half of the Nigerian Government Abena. Maybe just about one eighth of it.” He shrugged.
“Well, you are the third riche-st man in Nigeria.” She pointed out pla-yfully.
“Almost the second. I would be in a month.” He said, pouring the vegetables into the rice, then stirring it.
“It smells so good.” She complimented. He sm-irked at her.
“Of course yes, it does. It was made by me.”
They pu-ll-ed up into the parking lot of Joseph’s modest duplex, and noticed the kids coming out of the house excitedly. “Okay. They have three kids, the oldest is James, he’s eight, then Jesse is five, and the youngest is Juliana. She’s two. His kids hate me by the way.” He said nonchalantly and stepped out of the car.
“Why?” She asked, a smile tugging at herl-ips. She brou-ght out the cake she had baked from the car, and balanced it expertly on one hand.
“They’re annoying.” He grumbled and she rolled her eyes.
The kids ran out at the sight of them, screaming excitedly. The two boys got to them first, while Juliana, the toddler, squealed excitedly while running as fast as her little legs could take her.
“Uncle Tobi!” They screamed, hvgging him.
“I though you said they hate you?” Abena lifted an eyebrow.
“They do. But I always give them money when I come, so when I come, they take my money and then go back to hating me.” He replied.
She just laughed and looked down on the children, who paid her no attention. Their attention was on the wallet that Tobi had fished out of his pocket.
“Okay. So James is the oldest. He gets two thousand.” He said, bringing the notes out of his wallet. James snatched it quic-kly, as though he was afraid that Tobi would change his mind.
“Jesse gets one-five.” He said giving the notes to the second child. He took it from him shyly and muttered a thank you before following his brother inside the house. “Oh! Juliana!” The toddler looked up at him expectantly. “You get one thousand.”
She stared at the note inquisitively before taking it from him and running back to her house.
“I actually thought you would give them like ten thousand each.” Abena joked.
“Joseph gave me a two thousand naira limit. I don’t even know why they expect money anyway. They give it to their mom immediately, and Joseph is almost as rich as I am.” He said as they walked up to the house.
WATCHOUT FOR EPISODE 19
The contract Episode 17 & 18