Click here to read the next chapter: Masked-Chapter One
When he arrived at the station and saw the condition of his motorcycle, he could only imagine the state in which his neighbor was before he died. The officers informed him promptly that his neighbor had been riding drunk and on full speed before he collided with a car and died instantly. They took down his statement and let him have his bike. He knew since his neighbor was beyond poverty, his death would be uninteresting to them. He was just another statistics to the stereotype, of an irresponsible drunk man with a death wish.
Martha had been worried to death. Why hadn’t he called her yet? They were supposed to leave town and start a new life together. She arrived just in time, his neighbor had just returned from the station and he didn’t waste much time to tell her of what happened to his motorcycle when she asked.
“Why, what happened to it?”
“Your guy did this.”
“What?! Is he alright? Where is he?”
“I am sorry, you don’t know yet?”
“Don’t know what?!”
“He is dead Martha. He had an accident with my motorcycle. He was drunk and all messed up, when a car crashed into him.”
“Oh my god!” Martha covered her mouth to stop from screaming, she fell to the ground crying. When she remembered the child he took, she ran into his house. She hoped the baby was there and alive. She was welcomed with the stench of alcohol, she found the child lying still with its eyes closed and she cried even more.
“It’s dead! What have I done? Oh my god! What have I done!?” she asked clutching her chest and crying.
“Are you okay?” her neighbor called out.
“I am alright, please go away.”
“Don’t keep long, the police might be here soon.” She looked into the child’s face, such a precious little thing, they could have been happy together, all three of them, she didn’t even understand why he wanted the baby. But she loved him and trusted him so she did what he wanted. She was still peering into the face of the baby when she saw the baby’s lid make a jerk.
“Oh my! It’s alive!”
Immediately she carried the baby with her and ran out through the back door. She knew she had to find a safe place for it. The baby was at the verge of death, and it needed to be nursed back to life. It had been all alone for almost 24 hours. She had been told not to leave town. But keeping the child herself was too dangerous. She had to make an urgent call.
Three months past and the police still had not been able to find the man Dave described to them, and after much questioning the maid had been set free for lack of substantial evidence. The feedback was always the same now, the case was not yet closed, but there were no visible signs of improvements. Tangy had been calling them every morning, then every other day, and now once a week. “Are you sure you don’t want to stay in with me? Those reporters are awful Tangy. Besides, seeing you on T.V might only make them more agitated.”
Tangy was putting on her Manolo Blahnik heels, when she was done, she turned to Dave, “I don’t care about them honey. Sitting at home crying my eyes out won’t bring my Sophie back to me. I need to get busy. It’s been three months already and I am beginning to lose hope … Can you believe it Dave? I am even starting to forget what she looks like.”
Dave moved to her side and put his arm around her.
“We could try some more you know, I don’t think we have been trying as often,” he said running his hands up her thigh.
“Ha…you need to learn some new tricks, perhaps they would work. Clearly, you’re trying to stop me from getting to work.”
“But I have to go.”
“Alright, just don’t pay attention to any gossips, and don’t look at any more blogs. I am on schedule for an evening flight today. I will be gone by the time you get home,” he said, not letting her go, instead he pulled her into a tighter embrace.
“Thank God, I married an equally busy man.”
“We are a perfect pair, aren’t we,” he asked smiling.
“Have a safe flight and call me,” she warned. She didn’t need to raise herself as much to kiss him, her Manolo Blahnik heels were doing a good job.
She smiled at him, and he remembered how rarely she had smiled in the past months. In a way, she had been distant, although they had been physically together most of the time.
“I am going to be late, if you don’t let me go.”
“You say that like I care.”
“Okay, go away!”
“Bye, and have a safe flight.”
In the past three months, Tangy never contacted her office, and they hadn’t called her either, and had made no efforts to reach her, at least not that she was aware of. When she finally sat in her car, she sighed involuntarily, and by the time she got to her office building, she couldn’t recall the journey. As she stepped out of her car, flashes of light serenaded her, she pushed her way through, surprised to see the press. She was wrong to think they would have relented.
As she stepped into her work place, all the conversations seized and she could feel the atmosphere go rigid. Everyone had paused for what felt like forever to glance at her, although it had only been a fraction of a second.
She wondered if they expected her to grow horns, while she was away.
She walked straight into the broadcasting room, as she didn’t have the patience for hair and make-up. She looked just fine. But when she came in they were already live, discussing the unique roles of parents in the lives of their children. Tangy smiled at them from behind the scenes, she thought she would have to congratulate them for somehow managing to run the show even in her absence. She had not been able to bring herself to watch T.V, if not she would have seen that for the past months, they had been running a series; early pregnancy, abortion, parenting, child abduction, childhood dreams…all sorts. For lack of title originality relating to child topics, they had decided to discuss children and all their paraphernalia and they were on a roll. It did not take long for Tangy to hear people talking behind her back.
“I always thought she was a superwoman, turns out she is not,” a thick voice said.
“No one blames her though, but I doubt she would be able to forgive herself. I heard her IVF failed five times before she got this one” a quieter voice added.
“No one blames her my foot! Have you seen those tabloids?” the thick voice asked.
Tangy tried to pay no more attention to them, and tried listening to what was airing, but it didn’t do her any good.
“Cut!” Tangy’s voice was cold and curt. Everyone stared at her again, but this time she didn’t mind.
They had never stopped a show half way while it was airing live before.
The manager in charge, nodded reluctantly to the video camera man to cut and then he turned towards Tangy.
“What’s the problem?” he asked as he approached her, when he met her eyes he retreated his steps.
She began walking briskly towards her office, and he followed her quickly. Tangy sank into her seat and he stood waiting. She didn’t offer him a seat and he continued standing there.
“Fire those two gossips in charge of the stage.”
“Tangy? You are upset. You can’t just__”
“Do I look upset to you? Just do what I say or I am going to fire you as well.”
“I am afraid I can’t do that. There is something pertinent I have to tell you,” his face grew apologetic.
“What is it?”
“I no longer work for you.”
“Yes, really.” her co-host, Nitta had walked into her office.
“You see, a little change might have occurred during your long absence, she said taking a seat in front of Tangy. 60% of the shares now belong to Jeffery, basically he wants me to run the show now. And I understand you_”
“Excuse me, Tangy interrupted, what do you mean by 60% of the shares? He owns a little less than 15!”
“We sent you an e-mail, we tried reaching you but to no avail. There was a board meeting and we waited but you didn’t show up. You know how it is, this is business. And during your absence from the show, the ratings were really low, and we had to take drastic measures as some people wanted out. Jeffery caved in and bought their shares. He saved the whole show, you need to have seen the ratings, darling. We were going down fast. Jeffery practically saved our lives.”
“I am not surprised Nitta. Who wants to listen to your narrow minded perspective on how to raise children? I listened to you live today and I was appalled. No two children are the same, so even if they are both brought up in the same environment, you don’t expect them to behave alike. That’s basic stuff. Anyways, just give me a week, the ratings would skyrocket.”
Nitta and the Manager’s glanced at each other, they knew she was only saying the truth.
“Of course. Just a tad bit of an issue. Hopefully it doesn’t change anything. You will have to co-host, because I am the main host now,” Nitta announced smiling.
“Ridiculous! Look! You literally just got here. You have a lot of work to do, and so much to learn as well. You can’t just sex your way up to the top. Besides the show is “The rule with Tangy” now how is that going to work with you as the main host?”
“About that, Jeffery and I were considering renaming it, a new brand, revamping the whole show, you know something sexy, along the lines of “Keeping up with Nitta.”
“Of course, I should have known. I don’t have a problem being a co-host. Well, as long as the topics are relevant. This Keeping up with Nitta, both you and Jeffery do realize that’s an entirely new show, don’t you? You are doing away with mine completely? The show will become you Nitta. It will reflect your true character and person, Hope you are ready for that?”
Nitta blinked severally, “I am. You are the one who needs to hold tight. Have you seen the recent tabloids? My most sincere apologies, Tangy. How do you sleep at night knowing your baby was stolen in your presence, while you were fast asleep, probably popped some pills to sleep because you had spent all day showing yourself on televisions to make your pockets grow deeper? Well that’s what everyone is saying. Have a nice day, and welcome back,” Nitta said scornfully as she walked out of the room.
The manager followed afterwards, after blurting out how sorry he was about the recent developments.
Tangy was almost in tears, when a polite knock came on her door.
“Come in,” she said, wiping her eyes.
“Hello dear,” he smiled ever so sweetly.
“Hello Mark, have a seat. Nitta just left, she updated me on the recent happenings. Are you sure you want to do this? You have a lot at risk with her.”
“My dear, you don’t think I know that. You are not entirely what we need now. The spotlight you bring these days is not exactly what we want. Hey, I am sorry about Sophie. I didn’t even get a chance to see her. My god, Tangy! Just take care of yourself. Take a break, travel, do something fun.”
“Mark, you don’t have a clue, do you? You have never wanted something so badly only to have it for a moment and then have it snatched away from you. It’s like an awful prank. I don’t care how much they twist the stories, those tabloid vultures. But my work had nothing to do with Sophie’s abduction.”
“But you were in the same room…”
“I know that! You don’t think I think about that. I wasn’t on any sleeping pills. I just went to bed like every normal person does, if she had cried, I would have woken up at least.”
“I don’t know, that’s so strange. I don’t believe them, those nasty rumors, they sit and listen to you every day in their homes. But they don’t know you, at least not like I do.”
“Thank you, it means a lot. How is your show doing? Discussing those matches must be exhausting.”
“You know I love discussing football, what I don’t like is that new guy Jeffery, he is going around changing things for the worse. It’s too bad we had to do away with the rule with Tangy, it’s one of the best things that happened to this station. We didn’t even get to say goodbye to the show.”Tangy managed a weak smile.
Mark stood up, “My break is almost over, I will stop by later.”
“Alright, thanks for stopping by.”
“Always Tangy, you and I have both come a long way here.”
“Yes, we have.”
Later on Dave called to check on her, they were about starting the safety protocol inspection for the aircraft when he called. Her voice on the phone had said it all to him, and he tried reassuring her that everything would turn out fine, with or without Sophie.
When Tangy got home that evening, Miss Martha already left. Her maid had informed Dave and her earlier that she would be moving back to her hometown, following the demise of her mother. She had dropped her resignation letter on the kitchen counter. After the abduction no one was the same, even their maid had a hurtful expression, as they had inevitably accused her of the crime. Regardless, Tangy informed the station about her maid’s resignation and relocation. Then she poured herself a glass of champagne and took off her heels, she would be alone till the next day, when her husband returned. Sometimes she hated him for leaving her to deal with all of it, but it was his job and she had accepted it. She stayed awake all night, like she had been doing in the past months, a knife in hand expecting her baby’s thief to badge into her house and show his face.
Early the next morning, if not for Dave’s timely arrival, Tangy would have drowned in the bathtub. “You need to see someone,” was all he could manage when he got her out.
She smiled weakly at him, “It was only an accident.”
“Maybe we should go on a trip?” he suggested.
“No, I am alright.”
“I am fine, Dave.”
“You don’t look it. No one goes through that and remains fine.”
“I am okay, no need to worry. Besides, I have a better idea.”
Tangy let go of her towel and Dave stared vulnerably at her. He catalyzed the process of his undressing, even though she was helping him. And soon they were both stark naked. They kissed and caressed like they hadn’t done since the loss of their daughter. They made love twice that morning.
To be continued…