Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 18
Toni didn’t call Chief Davids as intended because IB fell sick. It had rained non stop for hours and she had exposed herself to the cold despite the fact that he had given her a t-shirt and cardigan earlier.
She had ignored the clothes and lay on her bed throughout the day, her windows open all night. By morning she was freezing and he had a sick woman in his hands.
Of all times to be sick!
Just when he was ready to be rid of her!
Now he had been turned into a nurse or was it an orderly? Taking care of a child was easier, he told himself, and less complicated. You could bathe the child, feed her, read her a bed time story and hold her until she fell asleep, and then monitor her temperature. But taking care of an adult female was so much different.
He had seen her in her underclothes and well… no he didn’t even want to think of all he had seen. She was an adult and as such there was no way he could bathe her. The only safe thing to do was ensure that she had her meals especially her hot soup. Anyone can do that.
Safe thing! he thought presently as he sat beside her on the bed, a tray of pepper soup with juicy pieces of goat meat balanced on his knees. He had to spoon feed her while she snuggled in his arms like a little child, the incident in his room forgotten at least temporarily.
He had checked her blood pressure with the blood pressure machine his mother had gifted him with the previous year. It was a bit on the high side but not a cause for much alarm. He would wait until she had recovered before taking her back home. He had taken her in good health, and he would return her to her parents in good health.
The way she snuggled him made him almost suspicious that she was trying to tempt him but she hadn’t flirted with him since he had almost taken her out of provocation. Besides, her temperature was high and her shivering was genuine. He had gotten her medication from a pharmacy, something his mother would frown at. As a doctor, she frowned at self medication.
He cupped Ib’s chin and held a spoon over her mouth. She shook her head, wincing, and returned her face to his shoulder. He’d taken the time to chop the meat into tiny pieces for easy consumption.
‘Open up,’ he told her and she shook her head.
‘My mouth tastes funny,’ she complained.
‘It’s the fever. You need to take this soup while it’s still hot.’
‘I don’t feel like it.’
‘You can’t take your drugs without eating first.’
‘I hate drugs.’
She sounded like a child, he thought.
He finally talked her into drinking the soup and taking her medication and for a promise: he would hold her in his arms until she fell asleep.
Three days later, she was fully recovered but in those three days, they had grown closer, sharing an intimacy that wasn’t sexual but still powerful.
For four days, he was at her beck and call, reading to her from one of those romance novels women loved and which he wondered what was interesting about them; ensured that she brushed her teeth, had her bath and took her drugs. Fortunately he didnt have to give her a sponge bath after the first two days. And she only slept when she snuggled against him like a large teddy bear. Whenver he thought she was asleep and tried to escape from the bed, she found an annoying way of making him stay back – she woke up and whined.
Holding a beautiful woman in his arms and in her bed and without taking advantage of her! Considering his attraction to her, he deserved an award for self-discipline. It hadn’t been easy holding her in his arms all night, her body pressed against his. He was relieved when she was finally okay and she didn’t have to be in his arms. Then again, he did miss snuggling with her.
Ibitoru was feeling better but she still sat next to him, her head resting against his shoulder, a plate of yam pottage in her left hand. There was something cosy about the way they sat. She lifted the spoon to his lips and he found his lips parting and accepting the spoon of pottage.
‘Thanks for taking good care of me when I was sick,’ she told him.
He said nothing.
She scooped another portion of yam and pottage and lifted it to his lips. He humoured her by accepting it once more.
‘What are you up to?’ he asked her.
‘I beg your pardon?’
‘What is going on in that mind of yours? I can hear a ticking sound in there but I can’t imagine what you are up to.’
She took one last bite of her food and placed the tray on the table, quickly snuggling cosily against him before he could escape.
‘You haven’t answered my question.’ he reminded her.
‘Must you always be suspicious? I’m covalescing, what else could be going on in my mind?’
‘I don’t trust you one bit.’ he told her, certain she knew exactly what her cuddling did to his entire system.
‘Has anyone told you how cuddly you are?’ she asked Toni. ‘Reminds me of this mega size teddy bear on my bed at home.’
‘You sleep with teddy bears at your age!’
‘It’s no offence. Besides, they are cuddly.’
‘You’ll be back home soon.’
‘What changed your mind? I thought you intended to keep me here for a year.’
‘What informed that thought?’
‘Your comment about making my father wonder what you have been doing to me and then considering asking for a ransom for my child not me. I figured you intended to keep me for at least ten months so that he would wonder if his grand child had been born while I was in captivity.’
He shook his head.
‘Having you here is not good for my health.’
‘I bet you will miss me when I’m gone.’
‘Why should I?’ he returned, hiding a smile.
‘I know you’ll miss me. But you need to tell me what my father did that was so terrible that you would want to put him through this.’
He would miss her alright.
Sotonye Davids picked his phone the moment he saw the caller ID as his daughter.
‘Princess, how are you? Are you okay? I hope he hasn’t hurt you…’
Toni cut him short.
‘My demands are simple. I want the sum of N327,000.00 in exchange for your daughter.’
‘What!’ Sotonye gasped.
He couldn’t believe that the man who had abducted his daughter was asking for such a puny amount of money after holding her captive for 5 weeks!
He had been expecting an outrageous amount of money of which he would have to negotiate, not this! No, he was probably referring to $327,560
That was an insult. Surely the man knew who he was and that he was worth more than that!
Toni could imagine the expression of shock on Chief Davids’ face. Something similar to the expression on his daughter’s face. He had gagged her so she wouldn’t talk. He quickly gave directions as to where the drop would be made and warned against getting the police involved.
He took out the battery from the phone and put it in his pocket. He reached out to ungag her and Ibitoru began to curse at him in kalabari language.
‘I can’t believe that you abducted me and kept me here for over a month just so you could ask for an amount I could easily have paid you ten times over and been on my way for my vacation!’
‘I don’t need your money or that of your father!’
She glared at him but he could see that her mind was working. The amount he had asked for was specific and not even a round figure. That in itself was suspicious. Had this been an ordinary abduction, he would have asked for millions knowing her father could afford it.
‘Isn’t it time you told me what you have against my father?’ she asked him.
‘I thought you would have figured it out by now!’
‘I am not psychic.’
‘For someone with a first class brain, you are slacking.’
What was he talking about?
‘An incident happened seven years ago in your home. Look into my eyes and you’ll know.’
What was he talking about? Seven years ago. His eyes! What sort of answer was that? Even as she thought of it, understanding came to her. Seven years ago – the lovely teenager with the blue eyes!
‘Oh my God!’
Ibitoru lay on her bed in her father’s mansion. Two days had passed since Toni had released her. The money had been dropped off in the afternoon and Toni had released her almost immediately. He had used the same substance he had used to incapacitate her on the day he had abducted her, and then he had driven her car to the major road close to a police check point and placed a call with her phone for her father to come pick her up.
She had made her statement to the police without implicating Toni.
She had assured them that she hadn’t been harmed by her abductor. She also wasn’t prepared to pursue the investigation further. Her father wasn’t happy with this, telling her that it was a criminal offence but she told her father that even if the abductor was caught a complainant was key to any criminal prosecution.
She was thinking of the blue eyed girl.
Seven years ago her father, in her father’s last year as Governor, there had been a tour of the Brick Huose by students. He loved women so much that Ib felt sorry for her mother. Ib knew her father had a lot of concubines/mistresses. He was always flirting with women and she wondered how her mother put up with his philandering ways.
Her mother had been away during the tour, visiting some relatives but Ib had been around. She wasn’t sure exactly what happened but she figured the curious blue eyed mulatto who was about her age at the time had lost her way and so hadn’t been with the rest of the students and that had been unfortunate.
Her randy father had the beautiful girl cornered and forced himself on her. Ib had gone to his bedroom to get something when she had happened upon the scene. She had been so shocked she couldn’t utter a word. Cursing at the interruption, Sotonye had moved away from the girl who rolled to her side, and curled up in a foetal position weeping. Her torn clothes told the story of a victim of sexual abuse.
The slim girl had been no match for the over six feet and thickly built man who had forced himself on her. Although IB had arrived before it was over and there was probably no danger of the girl getting pregnant, the damage had been done.
Sotonye had pulled up his trousers and dragged his daughter of the room with him, threatening to disinherit her if she said anything about what she had seen to her mother. Besides no one would believe that a man of his standing would stoop so low as to force himself on an underage girl. Under the Nigerian law, a 17 year old girl had not attained the age of majority.
IB had returned to her father’s bedroom. She had approached the crying girl and led her to her own bedroom where she let her use her own bathroom and change into her clothes. Her torn dress couldn’t be salvaged.
‘I’m sorry my dad hurt you,’ she had told the girl. ‘I assure you that he will never get the chance to do that again.’
The devastated girl had left the Brick House with the other students and Ib had never seen her again. A month later, Ib was out of the country for her tertiary studies.
Her father had been like her best friend but that incident had severed the bond between father and daughter. It was enough having a philandering father but to watch him rape a girl her age had served as a wakeup call. Till date she avoided hugs and embraces from her father. But to everyone outside, she was still the Davids princess.
The girl’s blue eyes had haunted her for years until she deliberately pushed the incident aside so she could get on with her life. She heard the girl’s family had made heavy weather of the incident and her father had denied the allegation. Ib had been the girl’s only alibi which was unfortunate. And her father was covered by the consitutional immunity against prosecution. The incident had appeared to have died a natural death.
‘You left after the deed was done.’ Toni had told her. ‘Your father offered you an opportunity to study abroad and you took it in exchange for your silence. You didn’t think about the girl whose life he had just ruined.’
‘I had no hand in it, Toni. I gave her my clothes and -‘
‘And by offering her the use of your bathroom, she unwittingly wiped out every trace of the fluids that would have implicated your father as a rapist. You totally forgot that you were a female and it could easily have been you. I watched you with him on the network news one night months ago and I thought to myself, “Look how jealously he guards his princess”. I told myself that nothing would give me greater pleasure than to have him feel the same pain any parent would feel when their daughter had been sexually abused and knowing that all the money in the world couldn’t make a difference.
‘I could easily have just abducted you, raped you and left you in your precious car for him to find but I couldn’t visit his sin on you. Besides I couldn’t make myself become what he was. What he is. N327,560 was the equivalent of the dollar sum he offered Jenny’s father at the time to let the matter die a natural death. That sum should jog his memory.
As soon as the money is paid, he will have his princess back.’
‘I am so sorry, Toni,’ she had apologised, hugging her arms around herself. ‘How is she?’
‘Still seeing a therapist. At least she is making progress.’
She couldn’t help but wonder who the blue eyed girl was to Toni. And Toni answered her question: a cousin who was dear to his heart. She wasn’t mulatto. She was his father’s younger sister’s daughter and her very fair skin and hair texture made people think she was mulatto. Diagnosed with myopia, she had favoured blue contact lenses out of her love for her favourite cousin Toni.
She had been drawn to Toni like she hadn’t been drawn to anyone, Steve inclusive.
However, any hope that there could ever be something between them had been extinguished by what her father had done to his cousin. He had told her that clearly.
‘I am strongly attracted to you, I’ll admit that,’ he had said, ‘but nothing can come out of this. I want nothing to do with your father or anyone related to him.’
She had wept for the girl whose innocence her father had stolen, wept for her own stupidity, her silence and wept because the man she had fallen for would never be hers. Toni had held her in his arms but he had been insistent on his resolve not to have anything to do with her family.
He’d kissed her lightly on the lips and wished her a good life before he had once more drugged her like he had done on the day he had abducted her.
What have you done, daddy?