Chika has now assumed office as a Director, although she still stayed in her present office at the National Intelligence pending the completion of the new site.
Recently, as part of the job, she chanced on a file that detailed the illicit activities of the Collingahs and how they were conniving with some corrupt FBI agents to carry out their illegal business. It wasn’t directly linked to her office, so she wasn’t willing to dig further.
But somehow she got interested in the tracking system that was to be employed in the investigation. Chika was interested in understanding this program seeing that her unit would make use of it in its operations. After going through the file, she asked one of her unit members to study the files deeper and get back to her soonest.
A few days later, what she learnt would shock her. And would define how the coming months of her career would go. When the officer she had assigned the file to reported back to her, she discovered that the program was similar to what Ik had spoken to her about some years ago. She got curious and began to dig deeper into it by herself. She soon found out that some members of the FBI weren’t happy about the activation of the program. Her curiosity led her to hypothesize that Ike could have been killed because of something similar. She couldn’t really lay hands on anything as everything seemed cloudy in her mind.
So, she decided to begin piecing the pieces together. She went from the program Ike developed several years ago to the night of his death. The text messages they had exchanged while he headed to the FBI headquarters to the scene of his presumed death. She sought to obtain the forensic report of the death of Ike’s driver. Some things made sense but several things weren’t adding up. Chika decided to run a parallel investigation at home to unravel what truly happened that night.
One evening as Chika was having dinner, a knock was heard at the door. It was 8 pm and Chika wasn’t expecting any visitors that night. She wondered who it could be that came around. She didn’t want to open the door but on second thought she decided to. ‘Maybe Dede decided to bring Ebuka back,’ she thought. But that was improbable seeing that Ebuka went to stay with him on holiday just yesterday. It’s a long vacation and the entire family had travelled to the mountainous countryside for a few weeks of relaxation. Chika went to drop Ebuka off yesterday and return because of her work. So, there was no way Dede would be coming to visit tonight. Also, they could have called her if they were coming.
Chika slowly walked to the door and inquired who it was. A man responded and said that he was Mbe. He said that he had dropped a friend off and decided to stop by to greet the family. Chika knows Mbe, he used to be friends with Ike before things turned sour and Ike decided to sever the friendship.
‘Can I come in?’
‘Sure, you can.’ Chika smiles as she slowly walks back into the house, leaving the door open for Mbe to come in.
Mbe forces a smile in return as he brushes off his shoes before getting in. ‘The house is quite warm. Such a great refuge during this cold winter.’
‘Just like almost all the houses in the country, you mean?’ Chika responds
‘Yeah. But nothing beats the house of my Director. It’s so warm and cosy.’ Mbe retorts as he hangs his thick black leather winter jacket on a wooden rack adjacent to the door.
‘So, would you mind a cup of hot water on this very cold winter evening as well?’ Chika asks sarcastically as she advances to the kitchen.
‘Yes, a hot tea if you wouldn’t mind.’ Mbe responds, as his eyes wander through the photos and other objects on the wall and around the rooms leading to the kitchen.
As Chika readies the tea, she slowly tucks in a sharp kitchen knife in her gown. Since she began her private investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of her husband, she has had to be more careful with everyone except some trusted friends and assistants. She was determined to get to the root of the matter. At first, she didn’t want to admit Mbe into the house, but she thought it’d be an opportunity to ask Mbe some questions seeing that he works with the FBI and maybe was there the night Ike came for a meeting at the FBI headquarters.
‘Your tea is ready. I’m also adding a few slices of bread though you didn’t ask for it. I also have butter. And my entire collection of beverages is on the table. You can serve yourself as always. Let me get something upstairs that I’m sure you’ll like.’
Mbe nods in agreement as he walks aimlessly around the kitchen and to the dining table. Chika runs upstairs to shut the door to the room where she has been keeping the info she gathers on her private investigation, being careful not to have been followed by Mbe. It’s a small room with an entrance from the master bedroom. Originally intended to be a prayer room for Ike and his wife, Chika has now transformed it into her secret room. No one, not even Ebuka goes in there.
As Chika went upstairs, Mbe walked around the rooms and finally came and stopped at the stairs, as if waiting for Chika. When Chika opens the door to come down, she was surprised to see him standing there and asks why he wasn’t seated eating. Mbe tells her that he wanted to admire her beauty as she ran down the stairs. Chika couldn’t understand what he was talking about.
‘Please, get back to the table. The tea is getting cold. Remember it’s a cold winter evening and you need something quite warm that only a Director’s house can give.’ Chika says as she points Mbe back to the kitchen.
As they sat down to eat, Mbe seemed to be more interested in complimenting the looks of Chika and saying all sorts of sweet things to her. Chika on the other hand was waiting for the right moment to bring up the discussion on Ike’s death. When she saw that Mbe wasn’t going to stop saying nonsense to her ears, she cut in, this time more decisively.
‘Mbe You’re yet to tell me what happened to your lovely friend. Several years have passed and you seem not to be ready to talk about the death of someone you call your best friend.’
‘O come on Chika. You know that Ike was my best friend. I mean, I was there when you guys were wedded and when you had your child Ebuka. Of course, he was and you know it. I just don’t want to talk about his death because it hurts me so much, just the same way it hurts you. I just want to move on. I think that’s best for you. And I’m here to be a shoulder you can lean on.’
‘Fine. But you’ve never even spent a minute since the incident to tell me what you know about the meeting at the FBI office. Each time I’ve asked you, you’d often shrug it off as if it was a regular briefing that took place that day.’ Chika insisted
‘But that’s because I don’t know. It’s highly classified information.’
‘You can’t tell me that. With your level at the FBI, you have access to certain classified information. We both know that.’
‘Exactly. Certain classified information. Not every classified information. What happened that night is a top-secret that only a few people are supposed to know.’
‘And who are the few people?’
‘The FBI director and the Director of National Intelligence, I suppose. But what does it matter? You can never get to know these things.
‘How do you mean that I can never get to know? What are you hiding from me Mbe? Speak! Speak Mbe. What are you hiding from me?’
‘I’m not hiding anything. But let me warn you, the more you go deep into these things, the more you’ll get yourself hurt. And you may end up like Ike!’
‘What did you just say? So, you actually know certain things regarding the death of someone you call your friend, yet you hide them from me?’
‘Calm down Chika. Calm down!’ Mbe shouts at her before recollecting himself. ‘You see Darling, You need to forget about Ike. He’s dead, he’s gone. Unfortunately, but that’s the truth. You need to move on with your life. And that’s why I’m here. I’m here to take good care of you. I was his best friend. I know your needs are emotional and matrimonial. I can make up for them. I can…’
‘Oh shut up!’ Chika shouts at him.
‘I know you’re angry now. Just calm down.’ Mbe says as he advances towards her. He tries to hold her hands and move his palms around her shoulders.
‘Oh get your filthy hands off me.’ Chika shouts
‘But calm down. We can work things out. Things can work between us. Remember I had my eyes on you even before Ike. I’ve always admired you from a distance, my love. Ike just came in…’
‘Get out of my house! Mbe, I said get out of this house right now! Such a snake of a man. Leave my house immediately and never come back here again. And don’t ever send me flowers nor go to Ebuka’s school again. I’ve been calm with you all the while, but that’s over.’
‘Oh come on! It hasn’t gotten to this point Babe.’ Mbe tries to douse the flames.
‘Baa what? I said, leave this place immediately. And let me tell you this: whether you like it or not, I’ll eventually find out what you are hiding. And when I get to know them, it won’t be funny.’
‘Alright. As you desire Ma. But I have warned you.’
‘For the last time, Leave!’ Chika repeats and goes towards the door. Mbe picks his winter coat and exits the house, as Chika shuts her door loudly. She then goes to her room to weep, while recalling the happy moments she enjoyed with her husband – their first meeting, date, proposal, wedding, vacation and future plans.
A few days later while Chika was at her office with her secretary discussing her schedules, Mbe came around to see her. Initially, she refused to grant him an audience, but after much insistence, she obliged and allowed him in. Mbe comes in and pleads for forgiveness for what transpired the other night. Chika told him that she had forgiven her but warned him never to come close to her house again. If he had anything regarding the death of Ike that he wants to discuss, he can come to the office. Else, he should keep a distance from her.
NEXT IN CHAPTER TEN: Chika doesn’t know what she has just gotten herself into. But Mbe can’t imagine what Chika has up her sleeves. And another unsuspecting player is about to enter the scene… shhh
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You can read CHAPTER TEN