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Richard stormed into Alexa’s room without knocking only to find it empty. “ Alexa” he roared and his voice echoed. He had never lost his temper this much before. He marched out of the room bellowing Alexa’s name several times without getting a response and Belina also joined in calling and looking for Alexa.
Alexa quietly closed the back door and ran on silent feet with her shoes in her hands. The sound of her parents’ voices tore at her heart but she could not go back in there. She could not bear their disappointed and hurt faces anymore. When she got to the gate, she was happy that the gateman was not outside. She opened the gate and it gave a slight squeak. Hurriedly, she sneaked out and closed the gate carefully. Satisfied, she dropped her shoes, wore them and started running. It was just a matter of time before her parents decide to check outside when they can’t find her anywhere inside and Alexa needed to be out of the estate gate before that happened. Her dad might call the estate security and she would not be allowed out. immediately she approached the gate, she slowed and walked a bit calmly.
She exited the gate with a sorrowful sigh, her bag balanced on her shoulders with the keys to her apartment in it. For the mean time, she decided it best to stay with Teresa for a few days. She dialed her number as she walked down the road. All the taxis that usually stayed outside the estate were all gone. When Teresa picked, she explained her predicament to her and the latter asked her to come over. After the extensive call, Alexander had walked along distance, so she stood by the road side to get a cab. A car spotted Alexa and reversed. When the car paused in front of Alexa, she saw the driver – Michael’s assistant.
Anita smiled. “What a surprise Alexa” she said. “It is not every day that we see celebrities like you standing by the road”
Alexa stuttered. “Erm… I am.. I’m on my way to see a friend and I wanted a cab instead of the stress of driving”
Anita sighed. “well, hop in. it can be really hectic driving in this insane state”.
Alexa entered and did her best to hide her pain behind a cheerful face. “Thanks” she said.
“I can see that you are really troubled”
Alexa wondered how Anita saw beneath her façade all the time. she thought for a second. “The gay news is still too much to take on”
“Hmmm. Why do I feel like there is something else?”
Alexa swallowed. She was surely not going to talk about the pregnancy with Anita. “Michael is married”
“What? The bastard” she looked astounded. Alexa took a deep breath and kept quiet. “Well, I am not sorry that he is suffering”
“What do you mean?”
“He was arrested today. You know it is illegal to be gay in Nigeria now, the police came today and took him away. I also think there is a takeover plan going on.”
This was a serious shock to Alexa. She swallowed and willed herself not to feel pity for Michael because he deserved everything he was getting for making her life miserable. But losing ‘Tel?’
“If I were in your shoes, I would crush him with the last drop of my blood”. She said, pounding her hand against the steering. “You would be called soon, you know you are a shareholder, you need to decide if you would support Michael or be against him”
it had been three days and Michael’s lawyer hadn’t been able to secure his bail. Everything seemed to be on halt as Michael stayed behind bars with all his thoughts scattered against the four walls of his cell. How had he gotten himself into this mess? He wondered. Should he come out with the truth? No! he couldn’t do that. He wondered why he couldn’t be released on bail. It was not like he was being accused of murder! He was more worried about ‘Tel’. the company was suffering seriously and he could not imagine what was going on now that he was not there.
A cell attendant came to open his door and took him out. Some of the policemen feared Michael, maybe because he showed no sign of fear or anxiety in his face. Michael had mastered the art of hiding his fears even in the face of death. Michael expected to see his lawyer but he was slightly surprised to see the last person he wanted to see.
The policeman murmured five minutes and vanished quickly.
“Why am I not so surprised to see you” Michael murmured.
Patricia smiled heavily. She had seen the policeman squirm slightly before Michael and she had wondered why Michael had so much effect on people. Seeing Michael again almost made her edgy. “You should be happy to see me” she said. “Many people don’t get to see me”
“And they are happier that way” Michael said, sitting.
She smiled tightly. “I can be your ticket out of here”
“And how is that?”
“I have connections”
“That I don’t have?” Michael looked amused and Pat tried very hard to hide her anger.
“Like I said, I have my connections. Your world is crumbling, if you want to stay here, it is up to you”
Michael frowned. “What does that mean?”
“John Coker is planning to take over ‘Tel Communications’”
Michael seemed to blanch as he swallowed heavily. “Who told you what?”
“I have done my findings, you obviously know that I don’t go by rumors” Now, Patricia did not feel the satisfaction she always felt when she surprised people. She felt a disturbing compassion for Michael’s plight.
“What do you want?”
“I need you to respond to the rumor, I want to know if you are truly gay and in return, I would get you out of here. She stated. “I see no reason why you should be running from this if you are not gay. This is the best way to end these rumors and problems, except you are enjoying it”
Michael ignored that. “And how would I prove this?”
“You should think of something”
Michael’s eyes travelled from her face, down to her creamy long neck, to her shoulders which was covered due to the shirt she had on. Michael caught himself in time, stopping himself from following the V-shaped opening at the front of her shirt. He returned his eyes back to hers and saw the embarrassment and fury in hers. She swallowed and looked indifferent but Michael was not fooled, he smiled knowingly.
The policeman came back in. “Do we have a deal?” Pat quickly asked.
Michael smiled and stood slowly. “Yeah. It might be worth it.”
Richard and Belina hadn’t been able to reach Alexa for more than three days. Every time they called her phone, it was always left unanswered. Belina stood up from the bed and stood at the window. She couldn’t believe all that had happened. She was on her way to being a grandmother! She couldn’t believe it. Not that Alexa was too young though. Richard had seemed locked up since the news was revealed. The house had been terribly silent.
She turned to face Richard as he woke up. “Good morning” she greeted and he smiled faintly.
“Come here”. She left the window for the bed. Richard kissed her head and she cuddled next to him till she was lying slightly on him with her head on his chest. He ran his fingers through her hair for several minutes in silence.
“I am not a good mother”
Richard’s hand stilled. “Don’t say that honey, you did all you could do. You are the best mum”
“No. If I had been, this would never have happened”
“Sweetheart, Alexa made a mistake, it does not mean that you are responsible for it. Something must have initiated her decisions. You were right, she should never have left this house, so I am at fault”
Belina raised her head. “No. It could have happened while she was here also. I need to see her Richy, I want to hear what she has to say”
five shareholders were already seated in the conference room. John’s excitement was at the peak. Michael had recently sold six percent out of his fifty percent, so it meant that Michael only had forty four shares. He had sold two first and John had hurriedly bought it. When Michael had sold four percent, John had lost it to someone else and the person was not known to him yet but that still did not matter. Even if the last unknown shareholder supported Michael, John knew that he would be on top with the support of the other shareholders. His takeover was already a reality.
The conference door opened and Alexander Branson entered. John instantly stood up with a polite smile on his face as he greeted her. She smiled faintly and accepted the chair he pulled out for her which was beside his own. She murmured her thanks to him and greeted everyone. Anita entered and winked at her. John stood up to commence but the conference door opened again and everyone gaped.
“You weren’t going to start without me, were you dearest cousin?” Michael asked as he entered. John looked slightly pale as he stared at Michael. He had hoped that Michael would still be in police custody.
“Michael, I thought you were in detention”
Michael smiled tightly. “Well, I got out. I can see you want to take my place.”
“It is what is best for ‘Tel’” John said vigorously.
Michael’s eyes left John’s and found Alexa’s. she looked pale and he felt terribly guilty and burnt. He swallowed and went to sit down. Everyone faced the person who now stood at the entrance.
“Pat” Alexa spoke up in surprise for the first time. “What are you doing here?”
Pat walked in confidently and went to kiss Alexa’s cheeks. “I am a shareholder here” she announced, surprising majority of those seated. Tension filled the room as Patricia Williams sat down beside Alexa. For several minutes, no one spoke. Pat saw that none of the shareholders could meet Michael’s gaze and she shook her head softly.
John finally spoke up. “Well, since we are all here, let us get this over with so we can all leave. We need to leave our sentiments behind and vote for the best person; Michael or me” he said.
Michael said nothing and John quickly asked everyone to start voting. “Please vote wisely.” Anita stayed at the board on front of the conference room to accumulate the votes. Michael’s vote was the first and Anita wrote 44% for him. John’s vote followed which was 28%. Pat swallowed. Mr. Dare was called and he hastily said ‘John Coker’ without lifting his eyes. His 5% was instantly given to John who beamed. The same happened when Mr. Roberts was called, along with all the two other men in the room. John Coker had now risen to 47%. “Patricia Williams” Pat swallowed when she heard her name. She looked at Michael at the head of the table but his face was blank and she really felt for him. “Michael Coker” she murmured. Her four percent was instantly given to Michael and Michael rose to 48%. “Alexander Branson”.
Tension filled the air and Alexa almost suffocated. John Coker had this secret smile on his face as he waited for Alexander’s response. Her choice would make the entire difference. She swallowed and Pat took her hand and squeezed it. She gave her a faint encouraging look as everyone held their breaths. “Michael Coker”.
Everyone in the room gasped including Michael.