Toni returned early the next morning after a sumptuous breakfast courtesy of his mother. She had fussed over him so much that he was glad to escape from the hospital. He loved his mother to bits and she felt exactly the same way about him, but a man could take just about enough fussing.
‘I expect you to keep off everything strenuous this week,’ Marina had told him. ‘And I mean it Toni. No press ups, no sit-ups. No altercations. And make sure you return here in a week’s time to have your stitches removed.’
‘You forgot to add: stay away from the ladies.’
‘I did forget,’ she had smiled. ‘You stay away from the ladies.’ Her twinkling blue eyes rendered the sternness of her voice useless. ‘I can’t wait to see you finally settled down, Toni, mio caro.’
‘I doubt if you really want this particular son, mascalzone as Nonna would say, imposed on some innocent unsuspecting woman,’ he teased.
‘The right woman wouldn’t mind,’ Marina had assured him. ‘At least she would keep your gorgeous head out of trouble.’
He had kissed her cheeks and said ‘I hope there is really such a woman out there.’
Presently he thought the house was too quiet, which was a good thing, but he’d expected to find Ibitoru watching a programme on telly or reading a book, and then glaring at him with her brown eyes. He smiled at that thought. She could glare for Africa but it didn’t work on him.
He saw her handbag on the carpet and recalled that he locked her up in her bedroom after she had attacked him like a wild cat.
‘Let her seethe,’ he thought.
Toni bent over to pick up her handbag, wincing as pain shot through his temple. He sat on the sofa and emptied her bag on it. He kept the purse and cheque book aside and was returning the other things in the bag when he noticed the screen saver of one of her phone. Bitting back a curse, he pressed a button and scrolled to the phone book section. Like he’d suspected she had been through his things!
This time he’d keep both phones. He went through the dialled calls and found that she had called her father twice, and then the bank. She had saved the number with ‘Bank’. No wonder Ibitoru had wanted him to make that withdrawal. She must have warned them to contact the police as soon as he came with the cheque.
She must think him a fool!
He picked up the things he had kept aside as well as her bag, and marched down to his bedroom where he checked and found out that every other thing was in place. He heard Ibitoru knocking on her bedroom door and ignored her. He was furious, his blue eyes dark with anger and his jaw clenched. This was how she had repaid him for his kindness! For treating her like a person and not a prisoner! He should have left her locked up in her bedroom.
He went through the dialled numbers in his phone to be certain that she hadn’t called her father with his number. It would have been very disastrous to have his phone number appear in the newspapers. Like a description of him was bound to. He had no doubt she had told her father what he looked like.
He was so upset. And he had every right to be.
She kept on knocking at the door. Frantically now.
‘Stop that infernal racket!’ he ordered.
‘Open the damn door, Toni.’
He paused. ‘What did you just call me?’
‘Toni. Isn’t that your name? Let me out this minute.’
‘You were snooping around yesterday, weren’t you?’
‘What did you expect me to do? You left your damned door open and I made good use of the opportunity.’
‘You are not even remorseful.’
‘It served its purpose. Now open the door.’
She kept banging on the door.
‘Look, if it’s an apology you want, then I’m sorry okay? Now I need you to unlock this door right now.’
‘And you are in no position to give me orders.’
‘Do I have to spell out to you? I need to relieve myself.’
‘None of my business.’
‘I could really mess up this room.’
‘And you will stay in the stench.’
A long pause.
‘Please my damned bladder is on fire.’
He had pity on her and unlocked the door. She was out of the room with the speed of light heading straight for the bathroom, not even bothering to shut the door behind her. The length of time she spent in there reminded him that she had she had held it all night. And that must hurt. That serves her right, he thought. If she hadn’t attempted to escape, he’d have had the need to lock her up.
‘You are a very cruel man,’ she accused feeling relieved for the first time in hours. ‘The worst I have had the misfortune of meeting. How could you lock me up all night?’
‘You deserved it. Now get back into the room.’
‘You can’t make me.’
She cried out when he caught her wrist and dragged her into the bedroom. She rubbed at her wrist shooting fiery darts at him with her brown eyes.
‘You are not a gentleman. No wonder you are not married.’
‘Shut up Ibitoru before I shut that thing you call a mouth for you.’
They glared at each other. He tossed the bag at her.
‘I’m sure you’d like to call daddy once more and tell him the fool just managed to get out in one piece.’
‘I don’t know what you are talking about.’
So she had left her phone on! Damn!
‘Don’t you dare lie to me or so help me-‘
‘Quit threatening me okay. I don’t know what your problem is but if anyone here is entitled to anger, that would be me. I am the one who had to spend a very uncomfortable night with a full bladder and don’t think that the fact that you returned this morning looking like a mummy exonerates you, because it does not.’
‘You ought to show more gratitude.’
Damn! His head hurt when he raised his voice.
‘Gratitude my s£xy behind,’ she spat. ‘If you had not abducted me I wouldn’t have to be here putting up with your rudeness. You won’t even dare treat me in such a humiliating manner.’
His eyes gave her a once over, a rude one at that, making her conscious of what she had on. She had completely forgotten that he had taken his shirt from her in her unconscious state.
‘How do you expect to be treated when you stand before a man looking like someone trying to sell her favours,’ he told her.
He got a well deserved resounding slap for that insult. Damn, for a female, she was strong! he thought.
‘Bloody pervert!’ she yelled shutting the door almost in his face, but she would have felt better if it had connected with his face.
She picked up the wrapper on the bed and covered herself with it half expecting him to come in after her but all she heard was a click as he locked the bedroom door.
‘Miserable half-breed,’ she shouted.
The slap had sent the left side of his temple where he had his cut, throbbing. He deserved that slap but he was not going to apologize for his rudeness.
Ibitoru’s stomach growled in an undignified manner reminding her that she hadn’t eaten in twenty-four hours and she didn’t have any of her food supplements in her bag. She heard the sound of cutlery connecting with a plate and realized that he was having lunch.
‘Hey!’ She banged on the door.’ You aren’t going to leave me here to starve, are you?’
He ignored her.
‘You can’t expect whatever food you are eating out there to digest knowing that you are starving another human being.’
He ignored her and she banged on the door until her knuckles hurt. She blew at them.
‘Damn you Toni. Why are you doing this? My stomach is presently curved like the inside of a plate.’
‘Look on the bright side, at least it would enhance your hour glass figure.’
‘That is not my problem right now. I need food.’
‘Not until I am ready to give you one.’
‘Starving me isn’t going to make you feel better.’
‘On the contrary, it would.
‘You want me to beg you?’
‘Save your breath.’
‘Well I won’t,’ she assured him. ‘I’m not that hungry.’
‘Of course that’s why your stomach is growling so loud.’
She sat on the bed glaring at the door. The man was a royal pain in the butt, she thought. She was hungry but she’d hang on for another day if that was what it took. If he expected her to beg him then he was wasting his time. She wouldn’t.
He could eat his damn food and see if she cared. What she needed was a bath and real clothes. And a pair of boxer shorts and bra top didn’t qualify for one, even when the man in the house acted like a damn eunuch! She wouldn’t be surprised if he was gay.
He should be, she thought.
She had been in his home for weeks and he hadn’t, not even once, looked at her the way a man would look at a woman. Not once. And she had a kind of beauty that men irrespective of their ages couldn’t resist. She was used to being stared at and used it to her advantage. So the fact that this man looked at her like she was a fellow male felt like burning her reputation.
Not that she had any interest in him! Okay, so he was very good looking, but then so were numerous guys. Besides, she had never had a thing for mulattos who were neither black nor white. He had a superb physique, so what? Criminals were not her type. And he was one.
She wondered how many wealthy females he had kidnapped before her and why he insisted on keeping her without asking for money! If he had come on to her, she would have thought that was why he had brought her there, but he hadn’t.
He kept her locked up for a three days, releasing her only for her to take a bath in the morning, and relieve herself. Her meals were taken in her bedroom. He spent more time outside than he had in the past and she told herself: ‘Good riddance to bad rubbish.’ She was not going to beg him. This time when she made her escape she would ensure that she knocked him out completely. She would ensure that he’d wake up in a prison cell. And he would stay there until she gave an order for his release if she ever did.
He had insulted her one too many times especially through his actions. This time she would be the one to laugh. After all he who laughs last laughs best.
She missed seeing Steve! He would be so worried about her! Toni had absolutely no right to disorganize her life. No right whatsoever! She wasn’t doing anything here.
What exactly did he want from her?
Chief Davids had problems with his company that had been ongoing for months and having to deal with his daughter’s abduction wasn’t helping matters. He hadn’t spoken to her since the evening she called him and he was worried.
The policemen in charge of the case were yet to come up with the information about her whereabouts. It was as though the Toni guy had taken her to a place in the middle of nowhere. All the searches proved abortive but he wouldn’t give up. The police had informed him that it was in the best interest of his daughter if the abductor’s name and description were not released to the media, social media or general media, so as not to endanger her life. If he knew they were getting close, he might get desperate enough to kill her.
He had something else on his mind. He had discovered a few days before IB was abducted that he had a teenage son from one of his past lovers whom he had forgotten about until she reached out to him with the good news. He had been intending to break the news to his wife and then Ibitoru was abducted. But the news couldn’t be delayed anymore. He had every intention of bringing his son home. He would sponsor the seventeen year old to the United States for his degree programme after he had acknowledged him openly.
‘What!’ Emi Davids exclaimed.
‘I have a son,’ Sotonye repeated. ‘And I intend to acknowledge Damiete publicly.’
Emi’s mouth opened and shut again for a few seconds.
‘You are not serious, Sotonye. I won’t be in this house and watch you bring in another woman.’
‘I am not taking a second wife, not that you can stop it if I so decide to do so. Damiete’s mother wants me in his life and i intend to let the world know that I have a son.’
‘He is illegitimate.’
‘Not if I acknowledge him. I am his father and thus, he has a right to live in my house.’
‘And what do you think Ibitoru will say about this?’
‘That really isn’t important. He is her younger brother and she would have to accept him. My name is on his birth certificate and he bears my surname. This is his home and he is moving in.’
‘I won’t let you do this. You are not thinking straight, what with Ibitoru’s abduction and the problems at the company. You are not bringing anyone into this house. My daughter is top priority. She must be found.’
‘And the police is already involved in the matter.’
‘You think that justifies your action, Sotonye? You told me that our daughter was more than enough.’
‘But the male child is very important. I have given Ibitoru everything she deserves: the best education, a fat bank account and she gets away with everything. Soon she’ll be getting married, probably to Steve, bear his name and have his children. Then what happens to my name, tell me? Would you have preferred me to compel her to stay back home until she has a son born out of wedlock that would bear my name before I can permit her to get married? Would you have preferred that?’
‘Of course not. My daughter is not a whore.’
‘Good. I’m not disowning her. I am just accepting my son. The least you can do is to accept him as your step son. That way the gossip you fear will be almost non-existent.’
‘You don’t expect me to ……’
‘I’m still bringing him home. The least you can do is accept him and make him feel at home because this is going to be his home. If you won’t be his mother then you’ll only have yourself to blame for whatever happens. Be his mother and you’ll reap the benefits of being a mother.’