*Recap: Dami experienced first-hand what working for Mr. Phillips is like. She also found out where her ex-coworker Bukky has been all this while. Meanwhile, Natasha and Inspector James devise a plan to expose those behind the drug and human trafficking.*
1:33pm, 30th May 2016,
I was getting fed up with all this. For the past 6 days I’d done things which were indescribable. Things I never imagined I would stoop so low to do. With every assignment Mr. Phillips gave, I felt like I was sinking deeper into a dark hole which I might never get out of. Bukky’s advice was starting to seem very unappealing because I knew deep within myself that I could only take so much of this burden before it drove me insane.
My newly assigned phone rang, drawing me out of my thoughts and I glanced at the screen in annoyance. It was him. It could only be him. My phone was seized and the new phone I was given contained only his contact.
“Yes sir?” I muttered as I answered the call.
“Sound more alive.”
I rolled my eyes and mentally cursed the day we met.
“Yes sir?” I repeated.
“Better. Now I’m calling to remind you of your appointment by 6pm sharp. Do not be late and do not disappoint my client because this is a slightly different situation. I’ll send you a message containing the details of the meeting.”
“But sir, I-”
He didn’t even give me a chance to finish my sentence before the call ended. I stared at the phone in confusion. What did he mean by this being a different situation?
I sighed and tossed the phone unto the bed before getting up to look out the window. The room I was kept in had a single small window that let in air and sunlight. Standing behind it, I felt locked away from the world, from my family. And frankly, I really was locked away and kept a prisoner. I shut my eyes tightly as all the anger and desperation to find a way out of this place flooded back into me. I thought about my sister Toyin, we were supposed to be having fun planning her wedding and my mom who was no doubt worried out of her mind by now. Then I felt even worse as I thought of Daniel who had warned me against going after the strange man. He had been right after all. I’d fallen straight into a trap.
I silently prayed to God to help me get out of here safely.
It was close to 5:45pm when I arrived at the address Mr. Phillips sent. It was a popular hotel located in Victoria Island, known for having some of the wealthiest people in the society as patrons. I sat in the reception feeling like a fish out of water. I didn’t belong here, in these flimsy clothes that I’d been forced into, carrying about a clutch bag that was filled with anything but female essentials.
I looked up as the doors opened and a group of people walked in. In the midst of three heavily built men was an older man dressed in flowing traditional wear. I looked away towards the doors again as they passed by, still waiting for who matched the description I had built in my head of who I was waiting for. Mr. Phillips didn’t give me a name when he sent the details of this meeting. It was to my utmost surprise when I was summoned to a room only to find the elderly man seated in an armchair, waiting for me.
I stepped in cautiously and waited by the side of the door.
“Come closer.” He said in a low voice.
I took one step forward.
He beckoned with his hand for me to move closer still.
I shifted uncomfortably on my feet before doing so. I was less than two steps away when he got up and walked slowly in a circle around me. Alarm bells rang in my head as my defensive instincts kicked in. Now I knew what Mr. Phillips meant when he said this assignment was slightly different. He had only reached out a hand to stroke my shoulder when there was a knock at the door. A trace of irritation crossed his features as he turned towards it.
“Yes?” He asked in a sharp tone.
“It’s room service, sir.” A deep male voice answered.
I was glad for the interruption and quickly stepped away from him, turning away from the door too. The door opened moments later and for some reason, I felt the hairs at the back of my neck rise in a strange way. I’d now gotten used to the strange feelings I had whenever something unusual was about to happen.
“I don’t remember ordering room service.”
“This is a special form of service sir, courtesy of the hotel manager.” The male voice replied again.
I heard the sound of a food trolley being rolled into the room and turned at the sound of it. My eyes met familiar dark eyes that made me almost cry in relief. I nearly gasped in surprise until I saw the slight warning in his eyes.
“In that case, you can leave it over there.” The client gestured to the far corner of the room with a wave of dismissal.
“Certainly sir, there is also a complimentary bottle of wine personally recommend by the head chef.” He dropped the bottle while giving me a discreet look which I tried to figure out the meaning.
All too soon, he was out of the room, leaving me alone with the man. But this time, I was able to think fast.
“I’m a bit thirsty, shall we have some wine?” I asked.
I didn’t wait for him to answer before serving it into two wine glasses. I took a sip, making sure to keep my lips sealed so as not to swallow. I watched carefully but discreetly as he drank more than half of the glass. Minutes later, his eyes began drooping and I knew I’d just found a way out of there. Quickly, I dropped the packet of hard drugs beside him as his eyes drifted shut, grabbed my things and slipped out of the room. Two steps away from the door I bumped into my rescuer.
“Daniel!” I gasped in relief.
He grabbed me in a tight hug, almost crushing me but quickly let go and dragged me into a corner of the hallway.
“How did you get here? How did you even-?”
He put up a hand quickly to stop my words.
“There’s no time right now, Dami. Someone would soon notice something’s wrong. Let’s get out now.”
I immediately followed him as he led the way out of the building. He went directly to his bike which was parked close to the exit of the parking lot and took off within seconds. He didn’t stop for a long time until we reached a quiet street with bungalows on either side of the street.
“Where are we?” I asked.
“A friend of mine lives here. We’ll stay with her for a while before I can take you home. She’s already aware of this.”
I nodded in response as he knocked on the door and a tall, beautiful, young lady opened it with a wide smile. She greeted Daniel enthusiastically before giving me a curious look.
“Angela, this is Dami; Dami, meet Angela.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” She smiled kindly, before stepping back for us to come in.
“You too.” I replied.
The house was modestly furnished but still looked charming. She led me to a room and showed me the wardrobe in which a few clothes were neatly folded.
“It’s not much but it would do for the few days you’re going to be here. If there’s anything you need, just let me know.”
I thanked her before she left the room, leaving Daniel and I alone.
“Thank you so much for coming. I don’t even know how you found me.”
“Kevin and I have been doing some digging. Especially when we noticed how girls go missing from the restaurant or get fired in unusual ways. We knew it had to be someone on the inside that’s responsible for this.”
I was surprised they had already figured out so much. I went ahead to explain what happened and how Kayla was involved.
“I never knew she was capable of such. We need to take this to the Police and let them handle it like I said in the first place. You’re not getting involved in this anymore Dami. I won’t allow it.”
“I’m already deep in this, Daniel. They would find me. Let me help.”
He ran his hand over his face in frustration.
“Do you want to get yourself killed, Dami!” He grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me.
I broke out of his hold and shoved him away from me.
“Don’t you get it, Daniel? Innocent girls are trapped in there. Bukky is in there!”
He flinched in shock.
“Yes, our former co-worker. I’m not the only one Kayla deceived and if we don’t do something. I won’t be the last.”
He sighed and paced the floor slowly.
“Let me know what you have in mind, but whatever it is, we’re doing it my way this time.” He said in a firm tone.
“When did you get so… possessive and dominative?” I blurted out in irritation.
“Ever since it became necessary to keep you alive!” He snapped back.
I was in the process of giving another sharp retort until I realized he just risked himself to save me.
“I’m sorry, okay? I don’t know what’s come over me.” I sighed.
He watched me quietly, his face not revealing anything. Moments later, he walked out of the room. I immediately felt terrible but I decided to give him space and let him calm down. Later that evening, there was a knock on the door.
I looked up to find Angela at the door although a part of me was hoping Daniel had calmed down after our argument.
“Hope, you’re settling in alright? I just wanted to check on you.” She said.
“Yes, everything’s fine.” I smiled.
She walked closer and her expression changed into something more solemn.
“I couldn’t help but overhear you two earlier, I don’t mean to pry, but you were quite loud.” She smiled to lighten the effect of her words.
“I’m so sorry about that. We usually don’t do that. Today was just… I don’t know…” I trailed off.
“Can I tell you something?” She said, quietly.
She sat down on the single chair in the room beside the bed before speaking.
“Daniel and I have been friends for a very long time and I know you two have been friends for long too.”
I nodded slowly, wondering where she was headed.
“He may seem hard or inconsiderate at times, but he really cares you know. When he called me and asked for this favor, I knew it had to be something important which is why I didn’t hesitate. And when he came here with you today, I finally understood.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
She was about to reply when we heard someone knocking on the front door.
“He’s probably back, I’ll let him in. But please, try to settle your differences. Daniel is the type of friend you don’t want to lose.”
She left me with those words that made me realise that there was truth in what she was saying. All the times I’d ever needed help, Daniel did what he could to support me. He was the one I usually went to when I had a problem, apart from Toyin, my sister. And he had risked getting into trouble to help me out of the mess I’d landed myself into even after he warned me. Later that night, I knocked quietly on his door and waited for him to let me in.
“Daniel, I’m sorry.” It was the first thing I said.
“You already apologized.” He answered in a low voice, not looking at me.
“But I really mean it.” I tried again.
He sighed and looked at me. For the first time, I saw how tired he was. Signs of fatigue were obvious in his eyes but there was something else there too; an expression that I couldn’t read.
I wasn’t satisfied with his lack of emotion but I figured it was the best I could get at this point. I said goodnight before turning to leave. I walked away slowly in case he called me back but he never did.
11:30pm, 30th May 2016,
If anyone looked closely enough, they might have noticed how Natasha’s hands shook as she sat in the midst of the girls that night. Andre stood in front of the room, addressing the girls on the mission for the night. They were each expected to make at least three deliveries instead of the usual single delivery. In her handbag, her smartphone was recording every word of the meeting to send it to Inspector James later.
This time, Andre gave the girls names of their customers, stressing the importance of getting the deliveries done as smoothly as possible. Natasha was shocked to hear some of the names mentioned as they were widely recognized men and women in the society.
Once the meeting was over, she got up and turned toward the door. On her way out, she bumped into someone and her bag fell from her hand, spilling its contents. Her heart leapt in her chest and she quickly bent to pick up her phone, which was face down luckily. As she straightened up, her eyes met Rashida’s. She gave her a curious look but didn’t say a word.
Later that day, Natasha sent the recording to Inspector James. She felt a sense of calmness because deep within her she knew she was doing the right thing.
To be continued…
Editor’s Note: Two girls, different places the same world… How would Dami and Natasha solve this crime? Find out in the next chapter.