Ibitoru planned her escape but each plan met a dead end. She thought about waiting for him return and then hitting him on the head with something really [email protected] even if she ended up dislocating her arm, but the problem was this: he’d have to open the door before the protector gate and would see her before she could do anything.
She thought of putting something in his meal to render him unconscious but he didn’t trust her. So whenever she had to cook, he ensured that they ate from the same plate and he stirred the food first. That was risky. But she had to come up with something.
Her opportunity came exactly twelve days after her abduction. He had left the house in a hurry and forgot to lock his bedroom door. Ibitoru took advantage of this. She gave him about an hour, to be certain that he wouldn’t come back, before going into his neat bedroom.
They’d had a quarrel that previous evening which had strengthened her resolve to escape. He hadn’t hit her but she would have preferred it if he had. He had returned from wherever it was that he went to and in a sore mood. He had taken it out on her saying hurtful things because she had been watching a movie and had forgotten that she was cooking. By the time she remembered this, the house was filled with the choking odour of burnt food. He’d told her, amongst other things, that he didn’t know why he was wasting his time on her. That she was hopeless in the kitchen and he felt sorry for the man who would be saddled with a liability like her for life. He concluded by saying that he should have just locked her up until he made a demand on her father and had his demands was met.
Just because she was stuck in his home, he felt like he had the right to tell her anything he liked and get away with it!
You’ll rot in jail, [email protected], she’d thought. You’ll know that I’m not useless when it comes to the matter of connection.
She’d admit that in the twelve days they’d been together, there had been a few moments when he’d been kind to her, although he still kept the inscrutable expression on his face. But that didn’t make him any less than what he was. A criminal. Abduction was a criminal offence, wasn’t it? The fact that the culprit was very good looking and with an excellent physique did not change that.
This is not the time to be thinking of his superb physique, she told herself, although he had the kind of physique that could get any girl thinking real [email protected] Well if he’s your type, she added to herself. She had heard about Stockholm Syndrome, that situation whereby a victim developed strong feelings of trust or affection towards her captor. Well, that was never going to happen to her, even if he decided to cook all the meals and handle all the chores!
She went through his things ensuring that she returned them in the position she’d found them. She found novels with only initials on a tiny shelf beside his bed. On a table were his cologne, roll on, shaving cream and sticks, comb, powder etc.
She wiped the sweat from her forehead and walked over to the switch of the AC and put it on. Why sweat when there was a good way to get cool? She didn’t bother with the fan over the bed. The AC would do just fine.
She searched his drawers, finding a Bible. The Bible had the following inscription:
To my dearest Toni
With love, mum.
Toni! So that was his name.
She kept on searching, going through the pockets of his trousers, careful to fold them back the way she found them. He was a neat freak, she thought. He left nothing out of place. No wonder she pissed him off. Well so was she, as long as she didn’t have to clean up after herself.
She had almost given up on the search when something fell from one of the clothes. An MTN sim card. This gave her hope. After a thorough search she found a blackberry battery. Not bothering to search for others, she left his bedroom and ran straight to her room to retrieve one of her phones. She took off the back and inserted the sim card and the battery before replacing the back of the phone. Once the phone came on, she scrolled through the names on her phone and settled for her father’s number.
Pick up daddy. Pick up.
Chief Davids was yelling at the commissioner of police at the incompetence of the police evident in their failure to find his daughter who was missing for two weeks now when his second mobile phone rang.
He ignored it but the caller persisted. He told the COP to hang up and pressed the receiving button on his second phone without looking at the screen ready to yell at whoever had interrupted him.
‘Ibitoru Davids, where the hell are you? Your mother and I have been so worried.’
‘I’m in trouble dad. I was abducted on my way home.’
‘Are you all right?’
‘For now. I couldn’t call you earlier because he took my sim cards and batteries. I was only able to retrieve this line because he left the house. I’m scared daddy.’
‘It’s all right baby. Just tell daddy where you are and daddy will come and get you.’
‘I have no idea where I am. I was drugged on the way back here. All I know is that there are lots of bushes around the place with no other house in sight.’
‘Can you describe the building?’
‘It’s a bungalow and unpainted.’
‘Any distinct feature?’
‘None really, but it has a garage.’
‘Do you know his name?’
‘Toni. I don’t know his surname. Just Toni. But he is a mullatto. Good looking, about 6”4, late twenties, early thirties, lean and muscular.’
‘He uses a pair of blue contact lens.’
‘No,’ she replied.
‘The information you have given isn’t enough to find you but I’ll give it to the COP to see if they can identify him. I need you to do something for me. Call the customer service line of your banks and tell them to report any withdrawal made on your account to the police. Then if you can, lure him to the bank with a cheque. In the meantime see if there’s any way you can find out where you are. A sign post or something.’
‘I’m locked in.’
‘And you can’t try to escape?’
‘No. Besides, I’ve searched for and can’t find any set of keys.’
‘Hmm. We’ll see what we can do about it. I’ll call you. Be careful, okay.’
‘I will daddy.’
She called her account officer with Zenith Bank to report any proposed withdrawal on her account to the police and to put out a notice to that effect so that withdrawals could not be made from another branch. She wished she was in a country where a call could be traced. She put her phone on vibration and threw it into her hand bag, returning to Toni’s bedroom.
She was searching for her other lines when she heard him unlocking the door and soon the protector. He was back. There was no time to get out of his bedroom because he would see her crossing over. Besides, he would be suspicious the moment he walked into his bedroom and found it cold.
She heard his footsteps as he headed for the room. She quickly dived into his bed and tucked his blanket beneath her chin. She lay on her stomach facing the wall and in time because he was soon inside the room.
Toni walked into the bedroom shutting the door behind him. He’d forgotten to lock his bedroom. He wondered what IB was doing in her room. She hadn’t spoken to him since their quarrel the previous day but he wasn’t prepared to face a sulking brat.
The coolness of the room hit him. He might have left the door unlocked but he was certain he hadn’t left the air conditioner on. One look at his bed and his conviction was confirmed. Ibitoru was on his bed and asleep.
Her crave for AC is strong, he thought.
He wanted to wake her up but changed his mind. He was hot and needed a bath as well as food in his stomach. He tossed his phone and keys on the dressing table and strolled to the wall hangar. He began to undress. Once he was done with his bath he would go through his things to be certain she hadn’t tampered with anything. He didn’t trust her one bit.
Ibitoru took a peek at Toni from beneath her long lashes noticing the way his muscles rippled as he moved. She shut her eyes as he moved in her direction to drop his shirt and trouser on the only chair in the room. He left the bedroom, leaving the door partially open. She waited until she heard him turn the key on the bathroom door before rising from the bed.
She picked the keys and his handset, tossing the latter into the bag he’d somehow missed, tiptoeing out of the room. Could she get the door open without his finding out?
She didn’t have to answer that question because she soon noticed that he hadn’t locked the bathroom door but had rather been unlocking the door. The key was still at the entrance. She’d locked it after washing the bathroom at his orders that morning. And it was to her advantage.
She quickly turned the key, locking the door with relish.
‘What the…’ She heard him swear.
She also heard a thud as he hurried out of the bathtub hitting something in his haste. Soon he was pulling at the door handle from the inside.
‘Open this door this minute, Ibitoru.’
‘Make me!’ She jeered as she hurried to the front door.
She began to try the keys on the key ring, noting that the keys were of the same make but didn’t open the same padlock. She had succeeded in opening two padlocks when she heard him heave against the bathroom door.
‘If I get you, Ibitoru Davids, you will rue the day you flaunted my orders.’
‘Oh I’m so scared, I’m shaking!’ she laughed.
The door was beginning to give way. She hurried into the kitchen where she took an empty pot to buy herself time. She reached the bathroom door in time for the door to give way. He fell over and without thought she hit him twice in quick succession on the head with the pot, wishing the rolling pin had been available.
He [email protected] as he lay there in his towel, the rest of his body covered in soap. As she tried to walk past him, one hand stretched out and f!ng£rs wrapped around her ankle tripping her. She fell, the pot flying out of her hand. Toni tried to pull her to him but she struggled, trying to reach for her weapon. Soon she got hold of it and with all the force she could manage, s£nt it crashing once more on the side of his head. He freed her immediately.
Back on her feet, she returned to the front door, unlocking the last padlock. The wooden door was no problem at all. Within seconds she was out of the house and had succeeded in locking him in. She held onto the purse she had found earlier and which to her surprise still had the money in it. She ran as fast as her legs could take her in the shirt she had grabbed from his wardrobe and his shorts, but this was the least of her problems. What was important was that she was finally free.
At some point, her conscience began to bother her. What if she had injured him more than she realized? She had seen blood on the side of the pot when she’d tossed it away. Could she live with his death on her conscience?
No, all he’d have is a nasty headache, a voice in her head told her. If you go back to that house, he is going to deal decisively with you. And he’s going to forget that you came back to save his life.
That was it! She’d leave and if he got worse he wouldn’t take it out on her. He didn’t deserve her kind thoughts at all.
Toni struggled to his feet, the wound on the side of his head bleeding profusely. She had succeeded in knocking him out for only a few minutes. He poured water over his head, watching as the blood flowed into the sink. He might require a stitch or two, he thought.
Good riddance, he thought but he had to stop her.
If she succeeded in getting away she could reveal this hideout to the police. He could leave this place but he didn’t cherish the thought of spending the night in a hotel or relocating immediately. This house was situated a few miles from other houses that was why he’d chos£n it. This part of town was just being developed so it would take years before buildings replaced the [email protected] and trees. Until then, Ibitoru just had a large stretch of land with different turns to [email protected] But he couldn’t take the risk. One of the owners of the large acres of land around might just drive by and rescue her.
He placed the first aid box on the table and took out a large roll of bandage which he wrapped around his head to stop the bleeding. He adjusted the towel around his waist as he headed for his bedroom where he put on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Fortunately, he’d left his car keys in the pocket of the trouser he’d worn to work.
He swore when he recalled that she had locked him in. To get the spare keys would take time. He looked for and found the keys to the back door. Within minutes he was on the road in a deep blue Peugeot 504 searching for her. His head ached but he ignored the pain, intent on finding her.
Ibitoru was so tired. She had been running for some time and was exhausted. There still wasn’t a building in sight.
Damn! Where had he taken her to?
There was also no sign post in sight. She took out her phone and hissed when she discovered that there was no service out there. Not even with his own phone.
She began to walk, breathing heavily wondering if there was really a house around there. Suddenly she heard the sound of a moving vehicle. Finally, help had come!
She stood aside and flagged the driver of the peugeot down. It wasn’t until the driver pulled over that she realized that it was the very same person she was trying to escape from.
How could fate be so cruel?
She took to her heels but he came after her pulling over a little distance ahead of her. He caught her before she could escape pulling her down with him and spraining his left arm in the process but he held unto her. Her struggles hurt him more but he stubbornly held her in place. He dragged her to her feet, threatening to break her wrist. If she didn’t quit struggling. And in his pres£nt frame of mind, he would carry out that threat.
He fought a dizzy spell as he dragged her none too gently to the car. He pushed her into the front [email protected]£nger seat, fastening her seat belt. He hurried to his side catching her as she made to climb out of the car. He pointed his gun at her.
‘You won’t dare it,’ she told him
‘Is that a challenge?’
‘All right I’ll be good,’ she @ssured him, not wanting to upset him any more than he already was, ‘but you should have let me escape.’
‘To whose detriment?’
‘I already offered you three million naira. The offer is still open. My cheque book is here. I can sign it and we’ll both be happy.’
She waited until he did a quick reverse and they were headed in the direction of his house, before lifting her fist to hit him on the head. His bandage was soaked with blood. He saw it coming and caught her wrist in a grip that had her screaming in pain. He controlled the steering wheel with his injured hand biting back a cry as pain shot through his arm. He held unto her wrist until they got back to the house. He pulled over at a spot where his vehicle would not be easily detected and came out of the car.
He dragged her through the back door, through the kitchen and into the sitting room where he pushed her into one of the seats.
‘Take the three million naira and let me go,’ she told him.
‘After the stunt you just pulled. I should just shoot you and feed your corpse to the vultures.’
‘You are a fine one to talk,’ she told him. ‘You are the one keeping me here against my will, threatening me with a gun. You want money, and so if you feel the three million naira I’m offering you is not enough, then call my dad and make a request for more. There’s no need to keep me in your rotten dilapidated home.’
He ignored her, unwrapping the soiled bandage with his good arm.
‘You know, if you’d let me go, I wouldn’t have called the police. I would have just made other plans for my vacation and put this unfortunate incident behind me.’
‘I don’t trust you.’
‘That’s your problem.’
‘Get me the first aid box,’ he ordered.
‘Why should I?’ she returned stubbornly
‘That was an order.’
‘You are in no position to order me around.’
He gave her a thunderous look and ended up giving himself a severe headache. He winced.
‘You will do what? It’s only a matter of time before you [email protected] out and I’ll be out of here,’ she told him matter-of-factly.
‘I’m a lot stronger than you think,’ he informed her, ‘now get me the first aid box.’
She got on her feet but only so she could retrieve the blood stained pot. His eyes narrowed as he watched her.
‘I’m sick and tired of taking orders from A NOBODY – AN INSIGNIFICANT MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY.’
‘Put that down before you hurt someone,’ he warned her.
‘And I’m tired of taking orders from you.’
When she attempted to hit him on the head with the pot, he grabbed the pot, dragging her down with it. She fell over him and his arm went about her waist in a vice grip. His grip tightened as she struggled with him.
‘Let go of me this minute, you bloody Neanderthal,’ she yelled, trying to push herself away from his body.
‘You are going to pay for the damage you have caused.’
‘Let go of me, you bas***d.’
She clenched her f!ng£rs into fist and s£nt it crashing down on his head, aiming for the exact spot where he was injured. He winced, releasing her immediately as fresh blood began to flow from his wound. As though possessed, she began to hit him wanting to draw more blood, taking out her annoyance at him.
Toni lifted his hand to shield his wound fighting a dizzy spell. In self-defence, he pushed her off him. Although that wasn’t his intention, IB fell back hitting her head on the side of the table and [email protected] out. Breathing heavily, Toni staggered to his feet, his body aching. He bent over her unconscious body and checked her pulse. Normal. There was no blood beneath her hair which meant that she wasn’t seriously injured but she’d have a headache by the time she regained consciousness. Until then he had to do something about her.
Wincing with pain, he dragged her to her bedroom, crying out as excruciating pain hit him as he heaved her onto the bed. He had to see a doctor. He blamed himself for her escape. If he’d locked his bedroom earlier, she wouldn’t have had access to his shirt and shorts.
He retrieved his shirt and staggered out of the room. He locked her in and headed out through the kitchen door after retrieving his phone from her bag.
‘Ikechukwu Antonio Ekwueme! What have you done to yourself?’ The slender proud mother of quadruplets demanded.
Whenever his mother called him by his full name, he knew he was in big trouble. Marina Ekwueme had never failed to use a stern hand on her children when it was absolutely necessary. Even as adults, they still tried not to get into trouble.
Toni had found his way to the hospital with difficulty fearing he’d [email protected] out before he got to her. And it had been difficult fighting the dizzy spells that came over him with each move he made. Fortunately he hadn’t [email protected] out until he’d stepped out of the car in the car park of Liberty Hospital.
He had no idea that his mother, a consulting neurologist, consulted there. But it had been a relief to see her there though. After his cut had been stitched and his mother had confirmed that he had just a mild concussion and there was no need for his arm to be in a cast, Marina was more than ready to hear all the excuses her youngest child had to give.
‘You have some explaining to do,’ she started.
They were in her office. He reclined on the bed in there, eyes closed.
‘Can we save this for another time, mum?’ He winced lifting a hand to his neatly bandaged head.
‘You are not getting out of this one, Toni.’
Her mother, an Italian, was married to an Igbo man, was grounded in the tradition of her people by marriage, except those she didn’t agree with and she spoke very fluent Igbo, like her children, in addition to her English, Italian and French. She preferred calling her youngest son, Toni (Antonio) and she was the only one who did that. Others referred him as Iyke.
Her children all had Italian names, Alessandro, Ariana, Gianna and Antonio, in addition to their Igbo names and these Italian names were used only in private by their mother.
‘It was an accident, madre .’
‘An accident you say. The car in which you drove down here is in good shape and you were obviously not attacked by thieves because the car is still in your possession. So I’d like to know, what kind of accident were you involved in?’
‘Domestic accident?’ he supplied.
‘Don’t tell me you ran into a wall, because I won’t believe that.’
‘I wasn’t about to. If you must know, I had a little altercation and my hear took the brunt of it.’
‘Have you been fighting Antonio?’
‘No, mum. Just got beaten up. Our dearest madre taught us never to fight and never to raise our hand against… Never mind.’
‘Never to raise a hand against a woman,’ Marina completed. ‘Antonio Ekwueme, did you raise a hand against a woman?’
Did pushing a woman who was crazy enough to bash his head in with tiny fists, away from him qualify as raising a hand against a woman? No it didn’t, he answered his own question.
‘No, madre . I didn’t. I have better training than that.’
‘Good. So why did she hit you and with what?’
‘We had a disagreement and she hit me with a pot.’
‘With a pot!’
‘Yes. At least she didn’t have the rolling pin at her disposal this time.’
He couldn’t tell her the cir¢vmstances under which Ibitoru was living with him. She would disapprove.
‘Pot. Rolling pin. What kind of woman are you dating? Is she living with you?’
‘What sort of an answer is that?’
‘You really should mind your own business, madre .’
‘How can I mind it when my little boy is brought into the hospital looking like sh*t.’
‘Oh oh. You just said the ‘S’ word,’ Toni jeered.
‘You are the only one who makes me use words like that. How do you expect me to mind my business with you looking like a mob attacked you? You must have really provoked that woman to have made her give you such a thorough beating.’
‘Don’t burn my rep, madre . My upbringing made it impossible for me to defend myself or you would have called upon all the patron saints of the abused to pray for my damned soul.’
‘What rep? If you were twenty years younger I would have taken a cane to you fair backside.’
‘Fortunately I’m twenty years older.’
‘Are you going to tell me exactly what happened?’
‘No, madre . Just know that it is not going to repeat itself. I need to get back.’ He winced as he tried to sit up and fell back against the elevated portion of the bed.
‘I’m keeping you here tonight.’
‘And you know how much I hate the smell of hospitals.’
‘You should have thought of that before now. You are spending the night. You may leave in the morning if I’m satisfied that you won’t be a danger to yourself in your pres£nt condition.’
‘I’m okay madre , all I need are painkillers.’
‘Who is the doctor here?’
‘You are, but-’
‘The doctor knows best. You are in no condition to drive home and although I have a quiver full, I am not eager to lose one of my sons.’
‘I’ll take a taxi home and come back for the car when I’m stronger.’
‘You are in no condition to leave.’
‘I’m still leaving. I can’t spend the night in a hospital, I’ll go mad.’
‘You are exaggerating. I need to-’
‘Madre , I am not staying,’ he interjected. ‘And you can feel free to give me the drugs you intend to give me for the week. There is no way I’m going to spend the night here.’
‘Good thing I know my boy,’ Marina smiled and suspicious.
Ibitoru cursed as she found her door locked. She couldn’t believe he had locked her in the bedroom! She had woken up several minutes earlier with a slight headache, recalling what had transpired between Toni and herself. She should have hit him thrice with the pot. That should have made her escape successful but she’d pitied him and here she was! You would think he was a friend she didn’t want to hurt.
He had her hand bag and so she would not be able to make a call. Damn! She needed a sachet of Panadol extra. In addition to that, she was hungry and she also needed to use the convenience.
Where the hell are you, Toni or whatever your name is?
Haha, IB is such a wild cat.🤣🤣. What do you guys think of the chapter?