… the world through the eyes of the rambler.
In the privacy of his office, Harrison flipped through the pages of the report the private investigator delivered to his secretary that morning. The result of the background check he’d ordered on Julia and her family, the pages were full of material information he hadn’t known before. For instance, he now knew that Julia’s father had willed several real estate properties to his wife and children before he died. Harrison had a complete list of the worth and location of each of those properties, including the house in Kogi, where the report indicated Julia’s mother now lived. He didn’t expect his search for Julia to be easy, so he’d been sure, even as he reached for the intercom to instruct his chief of security to have men dispatched to Kogi, that Julia would not be found there.
After the call, he leaned back in his chair and cursed her inquisitiveness. Any other woman, any woman at all, provided with all the luxuries he had provided, would have been content to enjoy the many perks of dating a man like him and kept her nose out of his business. But not Julia. She had to go snooping in areas that were none of her concern.
Pa was right. He thought sardonically. Julia knew too much, and was already a problem. Harrison knew what he must do to protect the image of his family, and his fondness for his beautiful lover not withstanding, he would do whatever was necessary.
He retrieved a ball pen from the pen holder on the desk and underlined the address of the house. The action was a mindless one, because taking note of names and addresses in a correspondence was the sort of thing he did out of habit. In this instance, he realized that Kogi was only the beginning. Julia was far too practical to imagine that he would not be searching for her, so she would have hightailed it across the border by now. It was certainly what he would do, were he in her shoes.
No, Julia was not stupid. She knew enough to know that he would find her mother’s house, and that his men would track her there.
Harrison closed his eyes and recalled her image for the umpteenth time in his mind’s eye. He remembered the scene in the bedroom when he had threatened to kill her if she left him. He would never forget the look in her eyes, or the defiant way she had lifted her face and clenched her chin. She would not be in Kogi, but it didn’t matter. If his men found Mrs Jang, that would be enough. He leafed through the pages to the Tracy section and smirked.
Now, this was where the report got really interesting.
Julia’s twin sister was a little hellion. Fiery, passionate… a fighter. Her school assessments were full of reported infractions to the rules. She had narrowly missed expulsion twice, and Harrison surmised as he read, that her saving grace each time was the perfect grades she’d had in all her courses. For such brilliance, the college disciplinary committee had been willing to let her off with a warning, when ordinarily, an offense such as slapping an administrative staff should have attracted a suspension at the very least.
Harrison was amused by all of Tracy’s antics, spelled out in report to the minute details. Her proclivity for violence, evidenced by her acid tongue and wild temper, excited him immensely. That she was even more beautiful than Julia was a minor consideration. What Harrison imagined and now craved, was the satisfaction he would derive from taming that wildness he saw in her eyes. The picture included in the report was one from Tracy’s college days. Seated on a dirt bike, the wind blew long hair away from her face as she struck a pose. She’d stared wide eyed into the camera, a slightly mischievous smile dancing on her very sensual lips.
He removed the picture from the file and held it up to get a proper look. Yes. As a pawn in his revenge, Julia’s sister would do nicely.
The sound of the doorbell woke her from a deep sleep. Groggily, Amanda Jang struggled out of bed and dragged her plump body to the front door. She was expecting the cleaning lady who dropped by twice a week to do the laundry and tidy the compound; so, without a care, she released the latch and threw open the door.
What happened next would remain a blur in her memory for days to come. Three strapping men burst into the house, pointing identical handguns in her face. The first man through the door grabbed Amanda’s arm and pushed her further back into the hallway. She heard the door bang as another gave it a hard kick.
The name flashed ominously in her mind. She started to scream, but was cut off as a menacing whisper had the airs of her skin standing on end: “one sound from you and you’ll be begging for death.”
She clamped up and nodded her co-operation. Julia had warned her that this could happen. With long strides, the one she guessed might be the leader (the one who’d grabbed her arm), marched into the living room and spun her around. He did it so fast that her senses were reeling by the time he stopped. The others had followed closely behind, and Amanda found herself surrounded. There was no possibility of escape, she thought despairingly, as her eyes darted quickly from the men to the door.
“Where’s your daughter Julia?” The leader asked without preamble.
Amanda took her eyes to his face, trailing his upper torso, and the words she had been about to say died in her throat. He was tall and heavily muscled, strong biceps evident under the polo shirt he wore. The face she read was the most menacing expression she’d ever seen on a man.
“Where’s Julia?” He asked again, stepping forward to grab a fistful of her hair. She winced in pain as he pulled hard, straining her neck. Amanda hands flew wildly in panic. Quickly, she forced a response past her throat.
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen her in months.”
A hard slap connected with her cheek bone. “Try again,” he snarled, yanking her hair harder. The force of the blow to her face forced Amanda’s body to stagger backwards, as a hot flash of pain exploded in her head. She screamed.
“Shut up! Or I’ll put a bullet in your skull.” Her attacker warned sharply.
Stark fear gripped Amanda, registering its presence with a vengeance. She felt as though her heart was straining against the rib cage, with each exponentially accelerating heartbeat. “Please don’t hurt me…” she cried, falling to her knees. He ignored her and signaled to his two accomplices to do a thorough search of the house. They took off and returned a few minutes later, reporting that the rest of the house was empty.
“Alright, let’s go.” He said, pulling Amanda to her feet. “You’re coming with us.”
“No!” she gasped in horror, sobbing as she stumbled along. “I don’t know where Julia is… I swear. Please… please… don’t take me.”
She might as well be talking to a brick wall. Amanda dug her heels and refused to take a step further. Twisting her body to face her captor, she bent her knees in a gesture of supplication and clasped both hands in front of her. She would prostrate and beg if she had to, because this was a scenario neither she nor Julia had prepared for.
“Please… I have money in the house, I can give it to you…”
The man turned to his cronies with an impatient sigh. “Can someone please shut her up?”
“No!” Amanda protested, making a sudden mad dash for the door. Strong arms closed about her waist and lifted her body from the floor. “Bitch.” She heard before the piece of cloth covered her face. A pungent smell filled her nostrils, effectively cutting off her air supply. In a few seconds, she lost consciousness and slumped limply to the floor.
Julia wondered how she could broach a subject as delicate as the new apartment at Utako with Nicholas without offending his pride. Her limited experience of men notwithstanding, good old fashioned female intuition warned her that he might not take too kindly to her interference in his relationship.
They walked side by side on the beach. An evening pattern they’d developed in the last few days. It had become their routine because Nicholas often worked in his room during the day – conference meeting with his staff and business associates. He’d explained that there were important business issues he needed to resolve, which necessitated frequent communications with the players on ground. He was usually done by five, and thus could devote most of the evening to leisure.
“Tracy misses you.” Julia began tentatively, kicking the sand mindlessly with her feet.
“Does she?” Nicholas responded with an amused smile. He had known it was only a matter of time before Julia confirmed the true state of affairs with her sister.
Julia glanced at him imploringly. “You know she does Nick.” He sighed, correctly interpreting her expression. He knew the discussion they were about to embark upon would be uncomfortable for him, and he realised there was nothing he could do to stop it. Julia would have her say, of that he was sure; if not at the moment, then later. Whenever she felt was a more opportune time.
Why should he delay his inevitable discomfort? “What exactly did she tell you?”
“That you’re not picking her calls.” Julia replied, halting to place a hand on his arm. “I know it’s none of my business Nick, but Tracy is my sister; and I care about her feelings. I know you’re a great guy, so it really hurts me to know that there’s a problem.”
“There’s no problem, except the one she created. Let’s cut to the chase Julia, I suppose Tracy told you that I’ve been cheating on her?”
She shrugged and said mildly. “Something like that was implied, but I don’t believe it.”
“Why not?” he asked curiously. He would have expected Julia to come out strong in defense of her sister.
“I don’t think you’re that type of man, the type to be unfaithful I mean.” She said quietly, causing him to glance back at her sharply.
“Don’t tell me you’re that gullible?” Nicholas looked away. “When it comes to fidelity my dear, men are men. Don’t let anyone kid you that there’s a type. We are everyone one of us flesh and blood.”
Julia refused to be dissuaded. “Not all men are the same. I know you’re not the type of man that jumps from one woman’s bed to the other, you are very discriminate. Tracy said so herself.”
“Means nothing, since she obviously cannot trust me.” He pointed out.
“She does trust you…” Julia began, but he cut her off. “How about we skip this whole discussion and I tell you what you really want to know?”
“Don’t be mad Nick, and I really am sorry for prying.” She said apologetically. The last thing she wanted was to annoy him. Especially when he had been such good company since she came to Miami.
“Don’t apologize.” He said shortly, sighed, and then threw an arm over her shoulder. “I’m sorry. It’s just… I’m not used to explaining myself to anyone.”
Taking a deep breath, he offered. “I’ll tell you my view of things if you agree not to ask any more questions or bring up the matter again. You have to let it drop the moment I’m done, agreed?”
She nodded, grateful that he was at least willing to share his side of the story.
Nicholas summarized his point of view in three words: “Lack of trust.”
“That’s it. If your sister wants our relationship to go back to what it was, then she needs to demonstrate to me that she’s capable of trust. You tell her that.”
“No buts Julia, you promised. Conversation over. A deal’s a deal.” He insisted, removing the arm that was over her shoulder and heading for the sea. “I’m going for a short swim.”
Julia watched bemusedly as he walked away. Hot damn!
To be continued.
Copyright 2013 by Idowu Oluwatoyin. All rights reserved.
A Crack At Prose And Poetry
...Your Favourite Writer's Favourite Writer
... the world through the eyes of the rambler.