”Who are you?” Anikka backs away from him as the man walks closer to her
”Do not be scared sweet child” Abetta says
”I should not be scared? You drugged me, and I see two men who look like nothing other than angry men about to devour me and you said I should not be scared” she backs away until she reaches the wall, the man walks to her.
”I will scream, I will if you touch me” she says, her heart in her mouth, she was shaking.
”I will not harm you, none of us will.” The man says
” We would not harm you, I swear it on your father’s grave.” She takes her neck chain and then kisses it.
”Get away from me then” she whispers in fear
The man smiles and steps away ”My apologies, Mama..” he turns to Abetta ”I am hungry”
Anikka scoffs ”Mama” she turns to Abetta ”So your family kidnaps me? I will inform the police and you all would rot in jail” She points to them, but her voice shakes, so did her hand.
Abetta comes to her and touches her hand, Anikka slaps it away ”Don’t touch me. If you say you won’t harm me , why am I here, why did you drug me, why do you have me holed up in here?”
”Here is your house, it is your fathers. One of the many he has. He came here when he needed privacy. Only a handful of people know about here, me , my boys… and a few others who used to watch over the place when he is around… was around” She turns away
”Then, get out from my house then if you say you aren’t here to harm me”
”On the contrary Child, we are here to protect you. I apologize for my tactics but, it was necessary. Things are not the way it was before your father died sweet child”
”My name is Anikka, do not call me sweet child”
She smiles ”Yes Miss Anikka, my apologies”
”Why did you drug me?”
”There was no time to explain anything to you, but come, I have prepared breakfast, you eat and we talk”
”I am not going anywhere till you tell me what the hell is going on. And who knows, you may want to kill me”
She smiles, the men laugh ”If we wanted to, you will not be alive. I tell you, your Papa was a good man, he helped me, helped my boys and gave us a reason to live again, we would not harm you, we only want to protect you.., considering the circumstances of your Papa’s death”
”What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Her ears perks up
”It means that things are not what they are Miss Anikka. But, breakfast is ready, you eat, you wash up and then we talk. Greg, go make sure all is well and Brandan, do not ogle at the Miss like that, know your manners” She says over her shoulders and makes her way out of the room and then downstairs.
The men follow her, Anikka takes a minute to still her breath.
Okay, okay..okay. Be calm, they say they won’t hurt you, be calm.
She breathes in and out and then stares around. The room was slightly dark, shutters was closed. She walks towards the open door and was blinded by the light that seeped into the house.
She realized that she was standing at the top of the stairs to a gigantic house, painted white with dropping chandelier. The walls lined with flowers.
It was a replica of their house in the states. She sniffs as her eyes pulled with tears.
Her father must have missed home so much that he wanted where he was to feel like home.
She makes her way downstairs, staring at the pictures which lined the hall; hers, her mother, her father. Tears slips down her eyes each step she takes downstairs.
Since this was a replica of their house , that means she would know her way around.
She takes a turn at the foot of the stairs, entering a hall way which takes her a few steps upwards into a sitting area and then to a door which she opened.
She found her room just the way she always left her room. Her toys, her castles, her pink bed and then her walls lined up with picture posters of her favorite things. Then her roof had dancing stars and the night clouds painted on it.
She covers her mouth, a tiny sob escapes it. She ventures into the room and then seats on the bed, touching the dancing ballerina which began to dance and let out a tune she was all too familiar with it. Reaching out, she touches the box on her bed. She opens it to find pictures of her and her family, same one she had in her house back in the state.
Looking through them was like re-living memories of when she was happy, when they were alive and happy.
She didn’t stop the tears, she didn’t control them. She cried.
”oh mamma, papà, perché mi hai lasciato” She cries even harder.
Abetta looks up when she walks into the kitchen, she smiles ”I see you find your way down here without a problem. Your Papa used to say he made it just like the one you and your Mama used to stay in so it feels like home. Your Papa was a good man, the best. Pity he died, he was loved by all. Come, sit , eat” She places food in a tray and then walks to the dinning.. ”Come Miss Anikka, you need food, you hardly eaten since the funeral. Go on to the other side Greg, that is Mr Thomas’s seat, that would be Miss Anikka’s” she nudges her son away. He moves.
Anikka stands where she is, her eyes red from crying ”What do you mean considering the circumstances my father died. Who the hell are you and why are you supposedly insinuating that you are here to protect me, why did you drug me, tell me because I do not see how I can seat and eat at a table of a woman who drugged me and kept me holed up in my father’s house with two men who have rifles and their eyes darting from side to side… so start talking”
Abetta sighs cleaning her head ”Before your Papa left for the trip, to come see you. He had told me to take care of you if anything were to happen to him”
”Take care of me how, what does that mean?”
”It means that your father had enemies” Brandan says with his mouth full.
”My father was loved, what do you mean he had enemies?”
”Yes, he was loved, but he was also envied Miss Anikka. And a few times than not, an attempt was made on his life, was it connected? We do not know… but, he kept on saying all too frequently.. ”Abetta, promettimi che veglieresti a mio figlio se mi succede qualcosa’‘
”Abetta , promise me you would take care of my child if anything happens to me” Anikka repeats in English.
She smiles nodding ”Your Papa used to say that your Italian was bad, that you never liked your mother’s language and preferred the language of the french and then English”
”It was too difficult for me to learn. But, over time, it stuck.”
”He would have been proud”
”Why would he tell you that, to take care of me if anything were to happen to him? If you say my father had several attempts on his father, was the police not informed?”
”They were, but nothing substantial could be found. He was loved Miss Anikka, who would think anyone would harm him”
”Did they, did they harm him?” Anikka asks, fearing the worse.
Abetta shakes her head ”He died from a plane crash Miss Anikka, all the way up there and his body was burnt that he was not able to be recognized. Everyone died…you think anyone would be so heartless to kill over a 50 people to kill one man?”
”I…” she blinks ”I do not know, you said an attempt was made on his life. I am only stating the obvious.”
”Yes, it also means that it was just miscreants, touts and bad men who are thieves who wanted to steal and God knows what. Nothing was ever proven, but he kept insisting that he had enemies and he wants his family, you.. to be protected and that if anything where to happen to him, I must protect you”
She stares at her ”With what? Your sons with their rifles, and if he felt they could protect me, why couldn’t they protect my father? You couldn’t protect my father”
”But we would protect you”
”Right, I find that hard to believe. Why did you drug me, why didn’t you tell me there? What was the need to drug me and whisk me away?”
”That drunk was saying things he shouldn’t to you, and people would suspect things they shouldn’t and ..we didn’t want you to be there in that house, alone in the city. We do not know who to trust and who we shouldn’t. I am only doing what your Papa wanted; which is to keep you safe and here is safe. You stay here, you keep safe, we protect you”
”I see, and the police cannot?”
”Police? they can, but they do not know your father as we do and those he works with, we would keep closer eyes on you”
Anikka walks closer , ”Look, okay… I get it, you are doing a duty to my father… and saying you need to protect me and then having your sons gawk at me and all that is not comfortable. You say one thing and I get vibe of another.”
”My apologies for my sons, they have not seen a beautiful woman like this up close, they are used to the women without class here”
”And you smell nice” Greg says ”And have a loud scream, my ear drum almost burst” he touches his ear.
”Yes, she smiles nice” Brandon smiles in understanding, his brother and him share a smile.
”Okay, I want them out’ She points to them ”They sound like perverts, I do not want them close to me ever…” she raises her voice
”My sons would never disrespect you Miss Anikka, they would not bite the hand that feeds or fed them neither would they take what is not theirs. I trained them well and they look up to your Papa like their father. Their father found the bottle too early and followed a woman and never came back when they were wee little ones. They may have a stupid mouth and speak from their thoughts, but I swear that they would protect you and not harm you…”
She stares at them questionably
”We apologize Miss Anikka”
Both of them nod, she eyes them, Abetta smiles going to her
”Come! breakfast would get cold, come eat..” She touches her elbow and ushers her to the table pulling out a chair for her to seat which she does. . ”You eat and have strength, and then we make plans for you to leave”
”Leave?” Anikka turns to her ”Leave here, where to?”
”Home, back to the states, away from here”
Anikka is shaking her head ”No, you must be out of your mind! You tell me all these and you think I would leave, no way. I want to know what happened to my father”
”We would do that”
”No. You say he was attacked several times, that means somewhere there is foul play and if there is, that means he didn’t die from a plane crash just because nature wanted to strike, it would mean that he was killed”
”Miss Anikka, do not get in way over your head. We can keep you safe here, but you must go. He also asked that I do not let you stay. Even if there was foul play, you cannot be able to address it. But you need to be safe and far away from here so that no one can find you to harm you. ”
”I am not going nowhere”
”We would take you to the airport by tomorrow and you would leave. It is for your safety”
”I said I am not going anywhere until I know what the hell is going on. Once I am done here, I am going back into town and going to the police station.”
”But Miss Anikka. you must listen”
”Look, if you think for a second I would run the other way just after hearing all this, you think wrong. I am going to find out what this all means, and you won’t stop me”
Abetta sighs ”He did say you have stubborn streak”
”A trait I took from him”
”Drink, eat” Abetta pushes the plate of food to her and then the glass of juice.
Anikka eyes it ”How do I know you did not drug this juice again and I wake up and find myself on a plane”
Abetta smiles ”I would not do that again Miss Anikka, not without your consent”
”And I would never give it.” She gets up leaving the table ”I would eat in town, I do not trust you”
She leaves them staring after her
”She is smart” Brandon says reaching for plate of food, then he reaches for her glass of juice.
Abetta slaps is hands grabbing it ”It is spiked” she takes it to the sink and pours it away.
The brothers look at themselves.
”Tell the others, she is coming to town. They must not loose focus of the plan” She rests on the sink, saying over her shoulders.
”Yes Mama” They say leaving the table.
”Find that Drunk, and bring him to me too.”
Brandon nods ”Okay Mama”
Teneka Lorde picks his call on the third ring ”Yes?” he seats up adjusting his shirt.
”Sir, they are waiting for you in the circumference room” His secretary says over the phone
”Tell them I would be there shortly”
The line cuts.
He scrolls through his phone again and then dials a number. It kept ringing and no answer. He rubs his jaw and then gets up, grabbing his briefcase he leaves his office and makes his way to the circumference room.
He opens the door to see a dozen of people already seated ”Gentlemen, good morning”
A few mumbled back a reply
”Get to it Teneka, you call us for a meeting and you waste our time?” A man with rimmed glasses perched on his nose says
”My Apologies, I was trying to make a few calls.” He places the briefcase on the table and then opens it, taking out a file He flips it open.
”Well carry on with the meeting, Why are we here”?” Another says. His hair is white and his mustache has a tint of brown gold to it.
”Okay, I would inform you why you are here and make apologies. Mr Thomas George had made a will which should be read while his daughter is in attendance but I cannot do that now that she isn’t. However, I would make the following statements I am allowed to in her absence. As board of directors to his projects foundations with a few shares, you are allowed some certain liberties but there are of limits which he had stated out clearly. One being that his daughter would step in as the CEO of all projects as she would be the one handling it from henceforth”
”What nonsense is this?” Another man stands up hitting the table.
”What does this mean?”
”I do not believe this!”
Everyone is talking
”Also, also,” He tries to calm then down. ”You all are aware that the government have tapped into his projects and they are replenishing. He states that his ”Giving back to the community” goes on and is not stopped. He wants his daughter to also be appraised of the activities so she can spearhead it, she may not do the work but she be able to participate. But most importantly, she has been transferred to be the power of attorney to all that he owns, All…
Which means that… whatever business transactions, contracts etc, and place for signing and what have you, it is her signature that would be there. Her signature would prompt everything to happen. She would be the only signatory to all of his accounts, home and abroad and would sign before an approval for the accounts to release any finances, just the way it was when her father was alive”
”This is nonsense, how can Thomas humiliate us like this? I have worked with him closely for years and know the intricacies of his entire business and projects, now he wants his daughter who knows nothing to be in charge of us, grown men like us who have ran this projects when he was not even around at most time.. or when she was a child? This is ridiculous” Gapon Gilles states as he flares up. Others begin to shout and talk.
”Gentlemen, please there is no need to argue. It is the man’s final wish”
”Wish my ass. When did he do all these changes, when?”
”A week today, before his death, He had called me to revisit his will.”
”What was in the former will?”
”I am not at liberty to say, I am only at liberty to inform you of the changes. What he says in the other part of the will is for his daughter…”
”What about the Blackcoal enterprises scattered about, does she have the power of attorney too to that and how would she handle that?”
”I said all.. and I am sure she would manage fine, but, I am sorry gentlemen, I cannot give out more information at this time, but this is what he wants and that is what will take effect. The banks and the entire board of directors would receive a drafted letter of this changes today. I am still trying to get a hold of his daughter and when I do, I would call for another meeting so that she would be introduced to you. Gentlemen” he nods and then takes his leave. The voices erupts in the room again, he doesn’t stop but goes to his secretary.
”Anything?” he asks her.
”No Sir. They said the last they saw her was at the funeral. Others who went to the house said that she was there when they came to pay their last respect. They haven’t seen her leave the house either. But I sent someone there, he said there is no one there. Maybe she left back for the states”
”No, she hasn’t left here. I called someone at the airport to ask. She is here, but where we do not know. She needs to sign these documents and hear her father’s will. Did you try the number listed as hers?”
”Yes sir, not reach able”
”Okay, keep trying.”
”What if, something had happened to her.?”
He stares at her ”Like what? Keep trying. If it calls for worry, we inform the police” he says walking away, staring at the closed conference room door hearing loud voices.
He saw him perched at the entrance to the house he lived in, waiting for him. He uncorks his bottle and takes a gulp staggering closer.
”Tickle” Brandon calls out ”Mama wants to see you”
”If I have to beat you down to drag you I would” Brandon threatens ”Come” he points to the car.
Tickles eyes it, turns and began to run. Brandon chases after him.
Abetta turns off the engine of the car,”Want me to come in with you?”
She watches as Anikka alight and walk straight into the station. She stares away and waits.
”Thanks for calling me man, it’s been handled.” Lucas turns away after shaking an officer and bumps right into her, catching her before she hits the ground.
They stare at each other.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Footnote| Language Glossary
*Oh Mama, Papa, why did you leave me?” – oh mamma, papà, perché mi hai lasciato?
*Abetta , promise me you would take care of my child if anything happens to me” – ”Abetta, promettimi che veglieresti a mio figlio se mi succede qualcosa .