Click here to read the previous chapter; The Night Shift, The Night Shift-PT 2, The Night Shift-PT 3, The Night Shift-PT 4, The Night Shift – PT 5, The Night Shift – PT 6, The Night Shift – PT 7, The Night Shift – PT 8
Danielle woke up to the tantalizing aroma of food wafting from somewhere nearby.
Her eyes fluttered open to take in her environment. She shot out of the strange bed she was lying in and immediately had to lie down again when a strong wave of dizziness hit her. She placed her hand on her forehead and felt a bandage wrapped around it, there were a few other places that had been bandaged too. She sat up slowly the next time and looked around. It was a simple room with just a bed, table, chair and a standing fan. A closed wardrobe stood to the far left side of the room.
Had she been kidnapped? She wondered as she began to panic. She walked quietly to the door and tried the handle. It was unlocked so that was a good sign. She quietly stepped out of the room and found that the aroma was stronger outside. Her mouth began to water but she scolded herself for thinking of food at such a time as this. She heard footsteps so she became alert. She would defend herself if necessary although she was in no state to do so.
“Danielle, you’re awake.”
Her eyes widened. “Gabriel? Taxi driver?”
“That’s me.” He nodded amiably.
“Wait… how did I get here?”
He explained what had happened after he dropped her and her friends off at the club the previous night. Danielle hung her head sadly and her eyes watered.
“Do you know what happened to my friends? Where are they?”
“I called emergency before I left. I’m sure they’re fine.” He said to reassure her despite remembering how a bullet had passed straight through the chest of one of them. “Once you’re better, you can find a way to contact them.”
She nodded and looked up at him curiously. “Why did you bring me here, why didn’t you just leave me with them? I mean you already called an ambulance. I would’ve gotten medical help anyway.”
To be honest his decision baffled him too. While trying to keep himself out of sight from the authorities, he had avoided appearing in public places were his records might be taken such as a hospital. This had been a good reason to learn all the basics of first aid and learn to care for all sorts of injuries himself. Danielle’s injuries hadn’t been anything he couldn’t handle. He got to his feet, tired of the questions.
“You’re a familiar face besides, your injuries were not as critical as theirs. Now, are you hungry? I made chicken soup. I hear it’s good for recovery.”
Her stomach chose that moment to growl in its demand for food and he took it as a sign.
Danielle stared at the food before her warily. Despite its tempting aroma, she tried to restrain herself. He was a stranger after all. She frowned, a stranger who had saved her life.
“It’s not poisoned.” His voice came from behind her.
She startled and dropped the spoon she held in her hands. “I-I know that, I w-was just.”
“You were just what? Binding and casting out evil spirits from the meal?” His voice was teasing.
She hid her smile and bent to pick up the discarded cutlery. He stopped her midway and picked it up instead to clean it out before returning it to her.
“Eat. You need your strength back. I don’t plan on keeping you here for long so you have nothing to be worried about.” He turned away.
She suddenly felt contrite. “I’m sorry I don’t mean to be ungrateful. I really appreciate your help.”
“I know.” He said simply before walking away.
Later that day, he received a call from his boss J.D about a new contract he’d been hired for as a private driver.
“You will start two days from now. I’ll send you the contact details of the client. Make sure you uphold my company’s reputation.”
“Yes sir.” He replied. However, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of foreboding.
Gabriel showed up right on the dot of 8am to Claire Roberts’s house and waited. His boss had given him the necessary information about her name, address and contact number. A gate opened and out walked a stunning woman who he knew without a doubt he had met before. She was the one who gave him goose-bumps and set him off in a weird way.
“Gabriel, we meet again.” Claire smiled but something about her smile seemed predatory.
He nodded in form of a greeting and asked for her destination. Once they were on their way, he did his best to make her ignore his presence but she had her eyes set on him half the time and the other half, she spent on the phone. His heart nearly jumped in his chest when they arrived at a Police station. He glanced at her discreetly but didn’t see any badge. Was she one of those undercover private investigators?
“What do you mean you’ve lost track of her whereabouts?”
He glanced towards the backseat at the authority in her voice.
“No, you listen to me. Do everything within your power to get a clue on her location. I’ll handle things over here.”
She got out of the car, reminding him to pick her up by 4pm that day. He drove home straight, parked the car and placed his head on the steering wheel. He was doomed. A knock on the window startled him and he raised his head to see his neighbour standing by the car with a bright smile on her face. He reluctantly rolled down the window as he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to see anyone.
“May I help you, Ada?” He asked.
“Oh, I just wanted to see if you were alright.” She wore a look of concern.
It wasn’t the first time she’d tried to have a conversation with him but he would rather keep to himself.
“I’m fine, thank you.”
Just then, the front door to his house opened and Danielle stepped out and stretched lazily. She froze when she saw his car and retraced her steps back into the house. He groaned under his breath. He’d told her to stay indoors. Ada’s eyes widened in curiosity and she turned her gaze to him.
“You have a… visitor?”
He nodded but didn’t say anything. He never quite understood why she was always so interested in his life.
“Well then, I’ll be on my way.” She smiled and turned away, realising that she wouldn’t be getting any real answers from him.
When she was some distance away, he looked up just in time to see her talking on her phone, apparently he was forgotten. He got out of the car and went into the house. Danielle was in the sitting room, waiting for him, an apology on her lips.
“I’m sorry I just wanted to get some fresh air.”
“Couldn’t you have gotten it at the back of the house or something?” He said in a louder tone than he’d meant to use. “I don’t need to draw any unwanted attention to myself!”
“I don’t understand why you’re so paranoid.”
He didn’t reply. She didn’t need to know anything. He walked past her, towards his room.
“Look, if I’m causing you any trouble I can just get out of your way. I’ll find a place to stay, just give me a day or two.” Danielle said before he shut the door.
She waited to hear his reply but none came. She dropped back unto the sofa in frustration. There was only one option left and it was to call home. She got out her phone which she had purposely left switched off in case anyone tried to reach her. As the screen brightened, she looked towards Gabriel’s room. He suddenly didn’t seem like the nice man who had helped her the first time they met.
“Hello?” Danielle said quietly when her aunt picked up.
There was an immediate barrage of questions.
“No… yes… I’m fine… not at all… okay. What?” Danielle’s eyes widened at the last piece of information she heard. “Claire is home?”
Minutes later, she ended the call and sighed. She had landed herself in a big mess. Not only had her law-enforcing older sister returned to Nigeria but now, there was one more person to be disappointed in her. She got up and walked towards Gabriel’s door. She felt the need to apologise. She knocked but there was no response so she tried the handle even though instinct screamed at her not to. The room was empty but she could hear the shower running in the bathroom. Embarrassed, she tried to turn around and leave quietly but just then, the door flew open and he stepped out of the bathroom. A dark blue towel was tied firmly to his waist and water ran in rivulets down his wet torso. They both gasped in surprise and Danielle took a step backwards.
“I-I’m sorry I didn’t… y-you shaved your beard?” She whispered. It was one of the first things her eyes registered, apart from his glaring half-nakedness. But those eyes were suddenly drawn to the item he held in his hand. It was a mass of hair. “It was a fake?” She gasped.
“Calm down.” He said, watching her cautiously as she moved back further with every step he took.
“What kind of sick, twisted game are you playing?” She asked.
His appearance had changed drastically. Gone was the full beard and moustache that made him look like a northerner, revealing a clean, firm jawline. Even his skin was fresher and lighter than she had ever seen it and the tribal marks he had on his face seemed to have disappeared too, leaving his skin looking flawless.
“It’s not what you think it is. I’m not dangerous, neither am I a pervert. Listen, can you at least let me put on some clothes first?” He looked pointedly at his towel.
Danielle cleared her throat in embarrassment and walked out of the room immediately. Gabriel hurriedly changed into some clean clothes and hoped he would still find her by the time he came out. The last thing he needed was for her to freak out and run to the Police. A couple of minutes later, he found her standing by the front door, her bag in her hand as if she was preparing to leave. For some reason, his heart sank in disappointment.
“I see you’re leaving already.”
“Not really, I just wanted to be sure I was close to my means of escape.” She shrugged as her eyes did a quick scan of his body for weapons.
His mouth dropped open in disbelief. Sure, he might be wanted by the Police but he would never intentionally harm a person for no reason.
“Will you please sit down?” He gestured towards the sofa.
“I’m fine here.” She said, stubbornly remaining on her feet.
He sighed and sat instead.
“Listen, I’m not a bad guy but some people are looking for me and it’s not for friendly purposes. I’m just doing this to keep my identity and my life safe. I’ve lived a very quiet life up till now and taking you in was a big risk but one I was willing to take.” He said quietly.
As she stared at him, she felt her resolve weakening gradually but there was one thing she needed to know.
“Why are these people looking for you? What did you do?”
She hoped she hadn’t crossed any boundaries but she simply needed to know. Gabriel looked up at her, his expression was grim. His lips parted as he was about to speak but before the words were out, a startling noise pierced through the silence. It was a gunshot. At first, he was about to dismiss it as a random shot somewhere in the vicinity but when it was quickly followed by two more nearby ones, he jumped up to his feet. Danielle quickly moved away from the door and just in time too because heavy pounding suddenly threatened to break it down. Someone was at the door and they were definitely not paying a friendly visit.