CHAPTER 3

Damilare was in love. Though he failed to grasp the truth, everyone around him could see the obvious. It
wasn’t just obsession or pure lust, he was in love. He had been irritable and depressed for weeks, nothing
could hold his concentration nor keep him involved.

His boss had noticed a decline in his performance at work and wondered what the problem was. When
it was told him that Dare’s girlfriend had been out of town for months and that Dare was feeling her
absence, the man had understood and given Dare ample space to order his emotions.

So, when he had requested for an impromptu leave of absence from work, his boss had obliged him on
the basis that Dare would bring his former self to work the following day. He agreed, and there he was,
waiting, smiling like a fool. Her grace beholding.

*********************************

Damilola Adelegan had been in many relationships, yet she had never dated anyone who doted on her
as much. As she walked out of the airport, dragging her boxes behind her, she was repulsed that Dare
was smiling like the fool he was when he coud have covered the distance between them, lifted her in his
arms and made her heart flutter to no end.

Then, he would set her down with a calm french kiss to the consternation of all and her own
exultation. Only then would he grab her bags and lead her to his waiting car. But he didn’t get it, she
thought sadly. They all don’t get it, these African men. She hissed, and continued dragging the boxes
towards him.

What was the reason of a romantic pick-up if he was going to be this stiff she thought. She shouldn’t
have called him to tell him she was coming back into the state, she should have just happened on him.
Fool, she hissed again.

When she got to the car, he embraced her warmly almost smothering her with his hug, still nothing
moved inside her. He had failed the test and though she knew he was crazy about her, she knew, she
would have to teach him a lot on romance. She smiled stifly and pushed him gently.

‘I can’t breathe,’ she offered.

He was too dazed, too happy to see her. His brain cells weren’t functioning as they should and it took
the gentle nudge of her high heeled shoe to jerk him back to reality.

‘That hurt!’ He fired.

‘Well…’ she rolled her eyes. ‘…I couldn’t breathe’

He held her away from him, observed all of her on the tarmac and pulled her to him again. He
understood then, he would have to marry her.

‘Can we go now?’

‘Yes. Of course.’ He seemed almost subservient as he grabbed her luggage, dumped them in the trunk of
the car, opened the door for her to enter and then went round to start the car after closing the door.

At least, he’s not a complete idiot she thought as he pulled away from the parking lot of the airport,
driving her home. She wondered as they rounded the bend why she was being mean to Dare and a
fleeting thought occured, she was crushing on Tunde Smart. She repelled the thought immediately.

All the way to her parents house, Dare had only one thought. Will you marry me? It was the answer
that scared him. If she said yes, he was not sure he was really ready for a family of his own. If she said
no, he would be crushed. Any other type of response different from the initial two meant he would be
heartbroken. Still, the only thought that rang in his head as he sped to her father’s house was, will you
marry me?

*****************************************

Tunde was looking out of the window as the car sped on its way to Yewa. Whether he liked it or not,
he had to confront her sooner or later. A child ran in front of the car as they entered the streets of
Mafoluku, the driver slammed the brakes, swerved and cursed.

‘Awon omo jati jati.’ He was visibly angry.

Tunde jerked out of his reverie. Time to face the piper, he eyed the man as the man slowly brought a car
to a stop at Agbelekale Street. He was there, yet, he wasn’t prepared for her wrath. He sighed.

‘Se ko si oo?,’ the driver asked, concerned.

‘Ko si baba, e se sir.’ He paid the man a generous amount. Told him to keep the change. He got his
bag out of the car, slung it over his shoulder and started for her apartment. All the man’s enthusiastic
prayers fell on deaf ears, he had to contend, and doing so in a happy mood was not the way to deal with
Yewa. He jumped over the drainage, opened the gate of the house and thought in his head, Yewa, I’m
home!

***********************************

‘Daddy!’ Yeni saw him first and shrieked. She was already running to him as she screamed, scattering
the books she had been studying in her wake.

Tunde dropped his bag, caught her as she jumped into his arms threw her into the air. In his mind, she
was still three months old. He caught her and embraced her, love and pride filled his heart.

Although he had refused to marry their mother, she had remained true to her children, and stayed
single. Making it so there was just one father figure in their lives: their father. He pecked her cheek and
set her on the ground gently.

Jide was eyeing in warily. The boy did not know how to react to his father’s presence a day after he had
broken someone’s bones. He bit his lips, uncertain.

Tunde smiled, bent a little and whispered into Jide’s ear, ‘I hope you beat him well before breaking the
bones?’

Jide’s eyes lit up. The father he knew was the one that had come home. He grinned, all will be well now
he thought. Dad would take care of it. For the first time since beating Charles, Jide felt a confidence
course through him.

Tunde hugged his son tightly. Unlike most fathers, he always indulged his kids. Always allowed them
the freedom and independence to be themselves without so much restraint. It was Yewa’s job to put
the fear of God in them, and she was doing a great job. His kids were sound all round and he had their
mother to thank for raising his kids well. He became nostalgic.

He released Jide, spurn around and there she was, flesh and blood. Still beautiful as ever. She stood at
five foot eight inches tall, a perfect match to his six foot frame. She had refused to grow fat and retained
her prim physique. His eyes misted, the rush of the good days, the nostalgia of their union. He was helpless in
front of her.

She smiled. Relief washed over her, she was happy he had come for his kid. He looked dashing as
always, unkempt, yes; but dashing all the same. She softened at his sight.

He took a minute to compose himself, get his words in order. He had learned from experience that just
because she was smiling and gooey, it didn’t mean she couldn’t turn on him the following second. He
stilled his vibrating hand.

‘Can you please bring me up to speed about what happened yesterday and today? What are the other
parents saying?’

Yewa regarded him for a bit. The only time she remembered he had taken that tone with her was after
she had just delivered Yeni and a guy in the area had called her slut for refusing to date him. Tunde
had calmly inquired about the guy, his manner was so calm, her mother had told her she was going out
with a sissy of a man.

The next day however, her mother had recanted her words. Tunde went looking for the guy, the lore
was that there had been five of them. He single-handedly beat them up, then dragged the one that had
offended her to her foot to beg for forgiveness. It was as though she was seeing a hindi movie.

Then, as she observed him, she could see the calmness she had seen then. Something in her gave, her
eyes misted and she rushed into his arms, her eyes tightly shut.

Tunde was uncertain how to react. He waited a few seconds, then inclosed Yewa in a warm embrace.
Something at the back of his head kept ringing the alarm, he ignored and lost himself in her touch. The
kids did not exist as they locked in the embrace, finding peace, in the other’s heartbeat.

*************************************

Chinedu Okezie felt uneasy. He looked around for the umpteenth time, no sign of danger, yet his
unease grew by the second; he knew something was coming. He continued walking after checking his
wristwatch for the tenth time in as many minutes. He had a rendezvous to keep.

The man in the dark room had been stalking his target for days. A tough man to keep up with, he had
had only two chances of killing him in the last two weeks. He had however not been authorised to do so,
so he waited.

Three days earlier, the order had been given just as Chinedu crossed his scope and entered a building.
He waited to no end, the man codenamed Whisperer truely had disappearing skills. He had searched for
two more days before getting a hint he may see the agent.

He had watched the agent emerge from the bar three houses away, anyone seeing him would be fooled
he was tipsy the way he moved. He fingered his triggered and willed the agent to move away from the
bar.

Minutes passed, the agent seemed to be having a war of sorts with himself. He kept checking his
wristwatch every minute, the man in the dark room was becoming impatient.

‘Move, dammit!’ He cursed under his breath, as he continued willing his target to move.

Finally, Chinedu turned, started walking down the road. The man had seen him shrug before he started
walking. He felt a keen sense of respect for the agent. He didn’t deserve to be dying a cowardly death.
He pulled the trigger, felt the rifle cough, continued staring into his scope as he watched as the agent’s
head bobbed.

It took a few seconds, the agent’s head exploded, a sadness descended on him. In another life, the agent
would be a comrade, not an enemy. He began unpacking his gun, his work was done. He had another
mark to hit before the week ended.

***************************************

Tunde woke with a start. He was immediately alert, watching for signs of intrusion as his feet touched
the floor of the bedroom. He heard her rouse and it all came back to him. That embrace, their weakness
and he had spent the night at her apartment against his better judgement. He heard it again.

Humming in a low tone was his paging device. It was the device the agency used to contact him anytime
he was unreachable. He took it out of his trousers pocket, read the message ‘call me asap’ and sighed.
There was an unknown number there. He stretched lazily and walked toward the door. He was on his
way to make the call.

He spied Yewa sleeping peacefully. A satisfied, content look on her face. Gone were those days she had
nagged him to no end to marry her. She had even threatened to marry the oil magnate, still, there she
was, his whore, the mother of his children. He felt a pang accusation stab him in the heart. He shook it
off, time to make the call; he stepped out of the room.

‘Hello, who is this?’ Tunde asked. After an agent had wrongly disclosed his details to men who later
killed him, Tunde had learned not to disclose his identity, thus the greeting and question.

‘Agent Tango Sierra, this is the Eagle, can you speak freely?’

Tunde almost froze. He had seen the man earlier that day, or more precisely the previous day: had been ordered by the man to let go of his need for vendetta in exchange for a mere guard duty. He paused, waited for the man to continue.

Colonel Bala waited for all of two seconds, then started. ‘I know I ordered you to guard the head of
Sting, Ismaila Arigbabuwo, but in light of events that have take place since, I’m asking you to abort And
walk away.’

Tunde blanched. ‘Walk away, sir? What happened today?’

There was a brief pause on the other end of the line then the colonel said ‘we’re taking hits. Someone’s
eliminating my best agents and in a hurry too. They’re not bothering with finesse, four agents dead in
one night. One shot, to the back of their head.

‘I have deactivated the other agents till the time we identify and terminate this threat. So, I need you
in the Lagos office by 7am today.’ The line clicked off leaving Tunde to stare at the darkness and finally
spied the time. It was 2.30am.

The DG had said the people were taking out agents, depleting the agency. Suddenly it hit him, his kids.
The woman he loved to hate, and all other memories he had in her house, he dropped the phone. It had
begun.

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