It was morning. Almost morning I should spell out. Last night before I slept, I wondered whether it was the right thing to call Alex and let him know that Kris and I were moving away for a little while. But hang on. We had just moved in to our novel house a few days ago, wasn’t it? Would it seem out of the ordinary to him that we were relocating away too quickly? Wouldn’t we seem to be corrupt and insincere people, perhaps criminals who were running away for horror of chastisement of the law and law enforcers themselves, say the police? Yeah, we would seem perfectly dishonest and un-honest, the picture of which I did not ever want to paint in his mind.
Following that nightmare about Martin, Kris’ brother—yes, I had had a nightmare about him even though what I had been musing about a little while before following it had been true and exact. That was what had in fact happened. Martin was discovered dead subsequent his failure to rape me. Even the police could not tell what had in reality killed him. Perhaps something paranormal and extraordinary they assumed. Which Kris and I myself would not even come to make out ourselves. What could have precisely killed him? What exactly?
I began packing my clothes, unhurriedly and inch by inch. I was going to leave this cherished home of mine. Even though I had spent only just a couple of days in it, I felt so emotionally involved and drawn to it like it was one such exceptional place I had lived in all my entire life. I loved its quietness, its mild comeliness, its hale and hearty cleanliness, its fascinating and charming plainness. Everything about it was just puzzling and satisfying. I hated noisy places. Dirty and unhealthful ones much worse. I wondered what kind of place it was that Kris was going to have me move to. Was it straightforward but gorgeous and in good physical shape just like our house? Was it?
While I was packing my belongings and stuff, I kept on looking at my phone every once in a while. The enticement to grab it and ring up Alex was so great and irresistible. Did I have to do that? Was it the correct and best thing to do? I sighed in frustration and derangement, dividing my heart into two, all sides of which were pulling me either region to make unlike decisions.
To my shock, the phone rang straight away, and I jumped away from my bed, breathing out as fast as I could in utter surprise and bewilderment. Who could have called me? I checked and discovered that it was…Alex! Who-o-wie! That one and only man I loved in the entire world had given me a bell? I doubted it. So I investigated again and verified without failure this time that it was him who had actually called.
Alex. I loved him. Like nothing else in this world. My self-quarrel was not over yet in any case. I wondered whether to pick his call or to stay off away from it. What precisely? Come on, Sophia—my conscious counseled me—if you won’t answer that call, Alex will think that something awful has happened to you and you will only get him anxious and broken-hearted. Answer it so that he knows you are safe and sound. Do it, baby, for us. Do it right this moment.
I answered the phone hesitantly. “Alex. How are you?”
“I am fine, Sophia, my love. And you yourself, how did you wake up this divine morning?”
“Alright. You are up early today, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am. I ever wake up this early on each and every morning. Specially to think and muse about you. You have no idea how so vital and prized you are in my life. Taking you away from me would be like killing me in some way or another. Not bodily however. But internally.”
Damn! I was so touched and moved by those words. Why? Because what Alex had talked about was what I was precisely about to do. Going far away from his reach and sight. If I was lucky enough, I wouldn’t have to go any further from Brownton itself. Oh yes, I wouldn’t.
I didn’t realize it. But a tear streaked out of my right eye, followed by another one, and a brook lastly. I scolded myself for it. I didn’t have to be crying like this was my last time ever talking to him. No, it was not. It wasn’t. I was still seeing him some day or another and moreover going to enjoy being hold in his arms and touched and stroked smoothly and dotingly by him. My Alex. I was going to go away from him…and that hurt…like a needle that had pierced through my chest and penetrated deep into my heart, stabbing and causing it to bleed.
“Sophia, my love, you are not saying something, are you?” Alex said, sounding nervous and vulnerable to some degree. His voice was so malleable and mild like he had come to realize that he had said something discourteous and aggressive to me, which he hadn’t done at all in any way. No. He didn’t have to feel blameworthy and awful about something that had to do with me and not himself instead.
“I am all ears and present, Alex. I am perfectly hearing everything that you are saying to me right now. I am around and also paying special attention.”
“Was your sleep okay last night?”
“Yes, it was.”
“Were there not any nightmares?”
“No there were not. It wasn’t that much appalling and disturbing in any case.”
“Meaning that you had some unpleasant dream, right, my sweet angel?”
“Yes. We all experience them at one time or another, don’t we?”
Wait a second! Alex was doing the fortune telling thing, right? Is that how they call it? Or the prophesying thing in different words? Whichever was whichever, he had guessed everything correctly at any rate. Oh yes, he surely had!
“I feel too bad for you on the subject of that. Honestly speaking.”
“There is no need to, Alex.”
“Hey. Would you be insulted if I hang up on you right now? My brother, Roxy, has come to fetch me for something urgent. I will call you when I find the time and occasion to. What do you say to that?”
“No problem, Alex. Greet Roxy for me. And please do tell him that I miss him so very much. You get that?”
“I probably have gotten it, my sweet angel.”
“One more thing. I hope you are not envious and gnashing your teeth against your brother, right?”
“Of course, darling, I am not.”
“Bye my sweet angel.”
My sweet angel. When was Alex ever going to give up addressing me by that title? Well, did I want him to dump it, you may wonder. Definitely not! I was his sweet angel indeed. My sweet sire. That was what I as well had to call him. Probably. Alex, my sweet sire.
Five thirty struck. Kris was already up. Dressed and moving about in white and black pajamas from the living room to the kitchen and so on. She had her long dark brown hair curled and warped fashionably and elegantly.
“Sophia, good morning.”
“Good morning, mom.”
“Are you done packing your luggage?”
“Yes, I am. You haven’t told me about where it is that I am going to stay and with whom, have you?”
“No. I was just about to. This very morning. While we are having our breakfast that is. Would you mind coming and joining me?”
“Breakfast is ready and served as at now?”
Kris simply winked at me—an indication that ‘yes, it was all ready and by now served on our table in the dining room.’ I went there after her. My, my! There were luscious-looking scones that she must in all probability have baked last night and cupcakes and buns stationed in bowls of chilied and scented-like-smelling soup with petals of flowers dipped and drenched in it. Tea was also ready in the teapot which lay in the centre of the whole lot on the massive table itself. Just the sight of the food alone was enough to drive me hungry and famished. It was like I had not eaten anything in years. Years really? That was what it seemed. Surely.
I took my seat down next to my beautiful and slender-built mother. This morning she was looking in high spirits and at ease. Last night she had been deeply disturbed and remediless like I myself later came to be. Where had all that trouble and torment of hers gone? Where precisely? To me, it was a mark that things were alright or they were soon going to be absolutely alright. Which was a pleasing thing, right? Surely.
Kris prayed. I distributed the plates as they ought to be stationed and placed. She poured out tea into the mugs. I grabbed two silver spoons and spilled sugar into the warm tea and stirred it gently and little by little. Kris handed me a napkin, which I fixed and wore on rightfully and correctly. She did hers too. And then we ate, unhurriedly and silent at first. Deep down my heart, I was impatient for her to speak and say out something. Would she state whatever thing? Of course, she would. All I had to do was sit still and calm and concentrate on having my food completed and finished. Be a good girl in other words, right? I bet so.
“You are not leaving Brownton,” Kris began.
What? That was good news indeed, wasn’t it? Yes, it surefire was!
I asked again, “You mean I am not—”
She cut me short straight away. “Yes, you are not going anywhere beyond the margins of this town.”
“Where will you have me go then? Where here in this lately small but up-to-the-minute town of ours.”
“Keep your cool, will you, please,” she reminded me.
Oh, oh! I had gotten over-sentimental and over-joyous, hadn’t I? I surefire had. Having mused and determined that, I stayed immobile and quiet, noiselessly praying that she would say out the entire thing just to cool and quiet down my inquisitiveness and nagging ache to be all aware of every little bit of tads and pieces.
“You are going to stay with someone supportive and trusted. He is a relative of ours and he knows quite well our secret that we are keeping away from the rest. You will be protected and okay in his hands.”
“Wait a minute please. How did he get to know our secret? Did you tell him about it or he just stumbled across the whole hidden thing. What specifically?”
“He found everything out after my sister, Lydia, died.”
“He is Alvin Morgan. Lydia’s only living son.”
“Aunt Lydia had a son and you did not bother to make it known to me?”
“Yes. I had my own reasons for not telling you that. He is not like her genetic son. Lydia died without any child. The boy is child to her late husband, Stanley Morgan. The late and exceedingly well-off Stanley Morgan. South-African born and bred. Stanley’s life is one that is attention-grabbing and truly the only one of its kind. He was born from a middle class family and he worked his way till he started his own wine-manufacturing company, The Stanley Morgan Corporation, which today has grown hugely to become Africa’s leading wine-making firm. Its brand is so popular and well-known the world over. By the time that Stanley died, a very old man of ninety-five years of age, he was by then a multi-billionaire and one of the continent’s wealthiest men. Of course, after his death, his legacy officially went over into the ownership of his two alive children. Stanley and his sister, Adelaide. The two siblings are billionaires themselves. Stanley being the oldest and twenty-six years of age, and Adelaide following him, no more than twenty-four years old.”
Alright. Now I was beginning to understand why Kris had not introduced me to these two other exceptionally well-to-do relatives that I had. It was all thanks to their eternal heaps and sacks of money. The highest ones did not fit in with the lowest ones like us, right?
Hmnnn. Everything made some sort of logic, didn’t it? Of course, it did. I happened to be related to two self-important and lower-class hating tycoons that would look upon me as nothing but a creepy-crawly bug and bacterial pest to feed and suck on their possessions till I had grown so overweight and well-off myself that I could hardly breathe without any difficulty or fall asleep either. Well, I was not a gold-digger. And I did not want to be misguided for one. Oh no! It would be even horrifying and sickening to picture myself as one. Crap!
I stared at my food for a little while, silent and unmoving.
Kris told me, “You must eat up quickly, treasured. I will have you leave for Alvin’s in a short while from now. He expects you to be at his place by ten. Somewhere around that time.”
“You haven’t given me directions on how to get to his majestic mansion, have you?” I babbled, scowling and rolling my eyes as I did so. Wait a second. How was I sure that Alvin’s was a king-like and very classy mansion? One whose worth would cost all the sum of money that I could ever work for till incredibly old age as a government civil servant? How was I so sure of that?
“There is no need to direct you on how to get there, Sophia. Alvin will have someone take you there.”
The door bell pinged at that moment. I stared at it in apprehension and shock, guessing that whoever was knocking there must be the one whom my well-to-do family member had sent to fetch me. Wasn’t that it?
Kris speedily rose up from her chair, announcing to me brusquely, “I will get that. Concentrate on getting your food finished please.”
I watched her open the door with prying and vigilant eyes. She turned back to glare at me irately and scoldingly. I stared away instantaneously, doing my best to finish what I had left on my plate. To be sincere with you, all my appetite was gone and nowhere to be found. I ate out of compulsion to finish everything that I had put on my plate. Not out of starvation or any craving.
The gentleman was honey-skinned and tall and muscular with undersized but coiled and twisted raven-colored hair. He was dressed and ravishing in absolute black. Squeaky clean and spick and span in other words. He had an earpiece affixed to one ear and a pair of very shady glasses held in one hand, glasses which you could stare at and not make out where his eyes were gawping at whilst he was able to see everything plainly and faultlessly on the other hand. He had to be a bodyguard, I deduced. Alvin’s bodyguard.
I had finished my food and took my stand from where I sat by the time that the man came to a halt before me and Kris. With his glasses unworn, he had an unsympathetic and grave look that was sort of unfriendly. Wait a moment. Was it outlawed for bodyguards to just smile and show some bit of gentleness, even for a split second? Was it?
“Good morning, Miss Ortiz,” the man greeted Kris.
“Good morning, sir.”
“Good morning, Sophia.”
How had he known my name and my identity all in all? I thought that Kris was a little bit younger to the extent that I almost didn’t seem to be her daughter. Like we were sisters or something of that sort. Whatever. This man had eyes and the smartness, didn’t he? I felt so.
“I am Eman Katongo. The guard that the boss, Mr. Morgan I do mean, consigned to come and get the young lady here.”
“You are welcome, Eman,” Kris said courteously. She then faced me. “Is your luggage ready, honey?”
I breathed out in relaxation. “Yup, it is, mother.”
“Why wait? Show it to Eman so he can carry it to his car.”
Uhmnnn…Kris had seen Eman’s car? I itched with want and longing to lay an eye on it. Was it like those super fast and eye-widening cars that were trendy in James Bond movies and the Spy Kids series? Was it that really incredible and out of the ordinary? There was only way to find out. Sitting inside it and enjoying the high-speed ride. Only then could I tell everything for certain.
Eman was the strongest man I had ever seen. But by no means any stronger than Alex. My Alex was just unbelievable and very funny. The way he—Eman, I do imply—carried my bags and stuff made it all bare and obvious. He didn’t let me carry a thing. Anyway, after insisting untiringly, he permitted me to take my weightless purse, which I made it clear and plain that I was not ever going to allow him lay any hand on it. He obliged to my request nonetheless.
Outside. It was all sunny and cloudy at the same time and warm and divine. The weather was so beautiful as much it was pleasurable and favorable.
There Eman’s car was. My goodness! It was the most expensive car that I had ever seen. How did I know that it was the most pricey vehicle my eyes had ever snatched a dekko at? I don’t know. I just guessed. Tycoons and moguls are known to exclusively enjoy exceedingly luxurious things, right? Regardless of the answer to that, this was car was just fantastic and great. It had space to accommodate no more than two people, with unblemished and very lucid and sparkling windows that were molded and shaped in a curved and warped method. The wheels were just neat as a new pin and silver-like on all sides and strong-looking. The number plate was what made me bust a gut. It was labeled ‘EMAN 31.’ That 31. Was it his age or what?
Eman packed my things into the trunk warily and tenderly. Phew. At least I didn’t have to do a thing. Or either tell him what to do. He knew what he had to do incredibly fine and he did it exceptionally well and mannerly. Kuddos!
I was leaving Kris. That hurt to realize; it in fact pained to bring to my awareness. I was going to say goodbye to the one and only motherly person that I adored and cherished like nothing else in this entire world. And what hurt worse was how I wasn’t even sure when I was going to see her yet again and where exactly and how. Would she be visiting me? I wanted that to go on very much.
Kris stood there before me, all cheerless and silent. Of course, there was no way she could possibly smile. Smile for what? For being separated and distanced away from her adored and valued daughter? Damn everything! Damn our suffering and the wickedness in this world itself! When was our pain and tears and ache going to finally and certainly end? When precisely?
“Mom,” I began, “It is time to go now, isn’t it?”
“Yes, my girl. I would want to hold you so tight in my arms right now and hug you and make you not go anywhere far away from me. But I can’t do that. You must leave. It is for your own safety and mine as well.”
“Tell me one thing please, will you?”
“What is it, honey?”
“Where will you be going yourself?”
“I am sorry, my darling. I can’t tell you that. It is not a wise thing to do.”
“Why can you not tell me?”
“The wardens may force you to disclose where I am if they happen to seize and capture you. And that would be quite devastating. I don’t want that to come about so please don’t ask me about it please, do you hear me?”
“I do, mommy.”
Kris and I hugged. That was the most emotional and in-tears moment ever. I squeezed and compressed her as firmly and very much as I could. No! I was saying goodbye and that hurt more than anything else. How would I live without her? Even if it was just for a couple of days, it felt like I was going to spend all infinity in the non-existence of her loving and friendly company.
“I love you, mommy,” I sobbed like a little child.
She patted my back calmly and caringly. “I love you too, my Sophia, and I will greatly and deeply miss you. Take care of yourself please. Alvin is a good man. Trust and obey him always, do you hear me?”
“I do, mother.”
“Before you sleep every night, I want you to all the time place a hand on your chest and whisper to yourself that mommy loves you. You can even do it with your eyes closed so that you can imagine me clearly sitted there besides your bed and placing my own hand on your chest. Do you give your word to do that each and every night, my precious girl.”
“I do, mother.”
“Good. Journey well then.”
Kris waved at me lightly and smoothly as the car left. I waved back. And that was it. There was no more sight of her, no more physical feel of her gentle touch and stroke, no more sound of her voice, its beautiful and engaging pitch forever gone, its tuneful and honey-like piece of music vanished behind. I loved her so very much. I definitely did.
As Eman was to some extent quiet and soundless like a lifeless tree, I found something else to keep me amused instead. I bought a Hollywood-based magazine down the street and perused it as we sped our way farther down, cautiously but a little bit heavily fast. Stars and their lives. It was not like I was a Hollywood aficionada. Any magazine that happened to feature a movie star or musician or whatever VIP that I recognized and liked very much was sure to be snapped up into my hands for reading and literary pleasure merely. Not that Hollywood alone was what produced stars and stories that I found amusing and engaging. Even Bollywood and Nollywood and our home-based Zollywood and so many more film-making industries. Only that the rest—except Tinsel town itself—had not that much prevalent and easily available reading stuff.
I KILLED MY GROOM STAR REVEALS HER LATEST SECRET DATE
I Killed My Groom. I liked that film. It motivated me even. A pleasant and interesting and irresistible story about a twenty-one year old girl whom everyone believes to have murdered her rich old husband by alcohol poisoning. Not that she did it. She didn’t. Someone else did it in her place. And went on to frame her as the actual killer. In fact, everything happened to her out of nowhere. In the whim of a spilt-second even. Natalie Schwartz was a girl with no reminiscence. She woke up in a comma to wed an elderly but still reasonably handsome and well-off man she didn’t know. A man who loved her like she felt she had never been loved before in her whole life. She didn’t resist him. She accepted everything he said as the entire and unambiguous truth. But then, that was the launching of her misfortune and hardship and intense affliction.
I Killed My Groom. The day before she married Brady Colton, she understood that he would be dead. They made it all clear to her. Mystifying and top secret people who communicated to her through writings of blood on the walls. Whenever she called someone to come and see their announcements, she found the blood having dripped and fallen so low to the extent of wiping away everything that they had unveiled.
Natalie cried inside the house. She ever screamed. She yelped out all the time. She screeched at the top of her voice untiringly. Everyone thought she was going mad. Everyone believed her to be Brody’s actual murder who was trying to make use of madness as defense to be condoned and set free from her crime. Everyone supposed that she was highly wicked and merciless. Everyone hated and despised her. Everyone waited for that very day that she would sit on the electric chair. She was the nation’s worst ever nightmare. A horror and terror and rejection to the world even.
But deep down her heart, Natalie knew that the real killer was out there, parading the streets, swaggering on them joyfully even. If she wouldn’t hunt him down herself, no one was going to do it for her. No, not even those whose responsibility it was to investigate strongly into the case. Or her detective best friend. If she unmasked not the concealed killer, she was certain to die for a crime she was not guilty of.