… the world through the eyes of the rambler.
Packing a travel bag was usually a tiring chore for Tracy. She almost always had a hard time deciding what to carry along and what to leave behind. She was running late as it is, and if she didn’t hurry, she would miss the check in deadline for her flight to Miami. There was no direct flight from Abuja, so she had to find her way to the Lagos airport first.
She had items sprawled all over the living room couch. Everything she thought to pack from her bedroom closet was going into the empty suitcase on the floor. What am I missing? She mused, eyes scanning the litter for inspiration.
Jackets.Tops. Jeans. Undies. Beachwear. Accessories. Cosmetics. Shoes. Bags. Phones…
Oh yes! She remembered; her promise ring. The twenty fifth birthday present Nicholas had given to her about a year ago.
A one carat cut from Cartier, he ’d called the somewhat expensive ring a promise for the future. Hinting that someday soon, he would replace it with the ‘real thing’.
Tracy retrieved the ring from the jewelry box in the wall safe hidden in the bedroom. It was important that her erring boyfriend see the ring on her finger when she got to Miami. He needed to be reminded of the promises he’d made to her, promises she had every intention of holding him to.
The taxi she ordered was waiting in front of the house. Tracy stepped out of the front door and informed the driver she was ready.
Her thoughts were ambivalent as the journey to the airport began. She didn’t know what to expect when she got to Miami, but she was sure of one thing: a month was a long time to be away from the man she loved.
Too long. It was the longest they had ever been apart since the beginning of their relationship.
Tracy finally admitted to herself what her conscience would no longer permit her to deny – the tiff was mostly her fault. Knowing Nicholas and his enormous pride, she shouldn’t have accused him. At least, not without sufficient proof.
I should have handled the situation better. She thought. I shouldn’t have let him walk away.
Staring out the window and watching the cars speeding along on the expressway, several questions flitted through her mind.
How had they come to this? This separation? This silent war?
She prayed it wasn’t too late for them. He had called her the love of his life that night of her birthday, she hoped desperately that he still felt the same.
I’m scared, she sighed. Her shoulders ached. Relaxing her arms and allowing her head to fall back on the head rest, she felt the immediate ease of tension from her neck region. I won’t lose you Nicholas, she vowed silently, mindlessly rubbing the area. I won’t lose you.
Harrison thought for a moment before answering the query. A couple of his men had Tracy, Julia’s sister, in their sights. They reported that she was in a taxi, and appeared to be on her way to the airport. Aki was the driver, and he wanted to know if he should intercept the taxi, or maintain a covert distance.
Julia’s location remained elusive. Amanda Jang had been questioned thoroughly by another group of his men, and in spite of the threat of bodily harm, Julia’s mother was still holding out, insisting that she had no knowledge of her daughter’s whereabouts. Harrison was becoming impatient.
“Intercept the cab,” he decided. “but no abduction. I want her delayed, so you have to be creative. I’ll join you in a bit. I think it’s time I met the twin.”
“Okay boss, where are you now?” Aki asked, needing to figure out how long they would need to delay the subject.
“Approaching the bridge at Berger. Stop her before the taxi gets to the airport, and stay on the road till I get to you. No high handedness, I don’t want her frightened or harmed.”
“Done.” Aki replied, stepping on the accelerator.
Lost in her musing, Tracy jerked forward when a large Jeep seemingly out of nowhere rammed into the taxi from behind. She screamed; hands instinctively gripping the sides of the front seat.
The impact of the hit caused the taxi to jerk wildly off the road. Stepping on the brake sharply, Abu, the driver, stopped the car from ramming into a tree by the roadside. He flew out the moment it halted and stalked angrily towards the other vehicle.
“You dey mad?” he cursed angrily in pidgin English, drawing abreast of the driver’s door. Two men, young and well built, stepped out of the Jeep. One was tall and casually dressed; while the other, of medium height, wore a shirt and tie.
Tracy put a hand over her chest to calm her heart as she watched the unfolding scene. Abu was in a full wild rant mode.
“Na you be hin oga?” He shouted at the man in the tie. “Make you come see wetin your driver don do to my motor.”
“Take it easy.” Aki said in the best conciliatory tone he could muster. “It was an accident.”
“I no talk say no be accident.” Abu insisted, determined to make sure they paid for the damage to his taxi. “Make you see wetin you do na wetin I talk.”
Tracy glanced impatiently at her watch. At this rate, she might end up missing her flight. “Abu, abeg let’s go.” She called out. “I don’t want to miss my flight. You can collect their number and settle this later.”
“Madam sorry, no vex. I no go fit collect number.” Abu maintained stubbornly. “Make dem bring the money wey I go take repair my motor.” He motioned at the rear end of the car. “You no see say all the light don break?”
Tracy’s eyes followed the direction of his hands. He was right. The tails lights were broken and there was a large dent on the trunk. This really couldn’t be happening, she thought, turning to the other men. “You guys are clearly at fault, why don’t you give him some money so we can all leave here on time?”
Her eyes begged them to save the situation. The men shrugged and looked away, obviously unimpressed by her appeal. Aki’s response was far from what she hoped to hear. “We didn’t break anything.” He denied firmly. “The lights were already broken before. If it’s money he wants, you’ll spend a long time here. The best thing for him to do is to enter his cab and get going, because frankly, this is a waste of our time.”
The curt denial and subsequent dismissal was the final straw. Abu saw red. “E be like say you dey craze?” he sneered, dashing forward suddenly with one arm flinging wildly. These boys had to know that he was no pushover. A satisfied grunt escaped his lips as his fist caught Aki on the chin. It made a very small impression. Harrison’s man shrugged away what he considered a light tap, and swung an arm of his own, flattening the taxi driver.
No, this is not happening to me. Tracy covered her face with both hands. I don’t have time for this. She moved swiftly to open the trunk of the taxi. It was heavy lifting, but she retrieved her suitcase. Just as she was about to start waving at the cars passing by in the hope of flagging down another taxi, a Range Rover Jeep cruised to a halt in front of her.
Harrison stepped out of the car and smiled at her. His face was open and friendly. “Tracy? Tracy Jang?”
“Hello, Harrison.” Tracy said, face breaking into a smile as she made an instant recognition from the several articles on the Lolade Group she’d read in the newspapers.
“I wasn’t sure it was you, but I didn’t think anyone else could have your exact image.” He explained. “Julia has told me a lot about you. You’re even more beautiful in the flesh than in pictures.”
“Really? Thanks.” She responded brightly, feeling oddly pleased with the compliment. She had wanted to meet Harrison for the longest time, pity she was meeting him today of all days, when she had very little time to socialize.
“What’s happening here?” He asked, nodding towards the scuffle taking place a few feet away.
Tracy followed his gaze and recounted the chain of events. “The driver of the Jeep was completely at fault.” She said when she finished. “Unfortunately, neither of them are behaving like adults at the moment. I’m just angry ’cause I’m on my way to the airport and I don’t want to miss my flight.”
“Don’t mind them.” Harrison said sympathetically, and inquired about her luggage. “Business or pleasure? No, don’t tell me.” He angled his head to the side and smiled, “I would say a vacation?”
“Yes.” Tracy averred. “I’m planning to join Julia in Miami, but I have to get to Lagos first.” Unbidden tears formed behind her eyelids, and she blinked them back annoyingly. “Thanks to these fools, I’m running late.”
She was really upset, it seemed like everything that could go wrong had gone wrong lately. Harrison put an arm casually over her shoulder, and offered in a soothing voice: “I also intend to join Julia in Miami, but I’m making use of a private plane. Why don’t we travel together?”
He lowered his voice to a conspiratory whisper. “It’s a surprise for Julia. I didn’t think I would be able to join her before, but now that I’ve freed up my schedule, I want to spend this time with her. So please, don’t mention to her that I’m coming before we get to Miami. It would ruin the surprise.”
“My lips are sealed.” Tracy promised, chuckling softly as her spirits lifted. She had flown many times with Nicholas in his private jet, so she needed very little persuasion to forgo commercial flying. “Thank you. I can see why Julia’s so crazy about you.”
Harrison laughed aloud, as if she had just said something very amusing. He didn’t say a word however, but gently steered her into the Range Rover with his palm on her back. As Tracy settled in place beside Harrison on the back seat, she did not spare a glance at Abu or the scene she was leaving behind. Served him right for being so pig headed and wasting her time.
The driver secured her luggage in the trunk and got the car back on the road. A comfortable silence prevailed for a while. Tracy’s thoughts centered on her knight for the day.
He’s a good man, she concluded, glancing at his calm profile beside her in the car. Nicholas was more handsome of course, but Tracy observed that Harrison had a charisma that was impossible to dismiss. He exuded sheer animal magnetism – pure power in his huge, broad shouldered frame. She inhaled the crisp scent of what she was sure was a very expensive cologne.
Hmmn, nice. I hope he marries Julia.
To be continued.
Copyright 2013 by Idowu Oluwatoyin. All rights reserved.
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... the world through the eyes of the rambler.