Kate’s jaw dropped and her head whirled as the implication of Idara’s greeting sunk into her brain.
She turned and threw a wild look in Chris’s direction and he nodded grimly, in answer to the silent question in her eyes.
“Oh my God!” Kate’s jaw was refusing to move back upwards, so she covered her open mouth with one hand. “Oh my God!” she repeated, her voice muffled.
Deji pushed his way to Kate’s side. “Kate? What is it? What’s going on?” he turned towards Idara. “Who’s this?”
“This is Idara, the Itah’s house manager.” Chris answered Deji’s question.
Deji’s eyes narrowed. “You mean this is the person who tried to kill Kate twice?”
Idara shifted her feet, uneasy under the heat of Deji’s glare. It was obvious that Kate’s friend was furious. If looks could kill, Idara would have dropped dead that instant. When Deji curled his hands into fists, Chris took a step forward and touched him warningly.
“Easy there. I understand your anger…” Chris nodded towards the troop of armed policemen standing by the office door. “…but I don’t think these other guys will be happy if you touch their prisoner.”
Deji looked around and made a visible effort to calm down. Kate’s hand was still over her open mouth. The conversation between the two young men had only lasted for a few seconds but it had seemed like an eternity to Kate as her head turned from Idara to Barrister Bishop Ekanem, her eyes trying to conduct an impromptu visual paternity test.
The lawyer seemed to suddenly break out of the shocked trance that Idara’s words had caused.
“What? What the hell is going on here?” he sputtered, pushing out his chest in indignation. His grey-flecked afro and beard, and his round stomach only made him look like an old, enraged rooster. Kate fought down an absurd urge to laugh. “Young lady, why are you addressing me in that manner?”
Idara laughed softly at the question, shaking her head. “Of course I don’t expect you to admit you’re my father just like that. I told the police as much…”
“Who is your father? What are you talking about?” the lawyer responded, flecks of spittle flying from his lips. He looked around, his eyes red. “Is this a set-up? Who is behind this nefarious plan to soil my reputation…?”
“Enough with the grammar, sir.” Chris cut in impatiently. “Miss Idara here did a lot of talking last night and this morning. And she definitely identified you as her father and the brain behind all the recent unpleasantness and bad luck that has seemed to be following the family of your late ‘friend’, Chief Bassey Itah.”
The lawyer laughed, “This young lady has obviously been paid to implicate me in this matter. I won’t take this embarrassment lightly! Everyone in this room will be help culpable…”
“Dad, stop it.” Idara sounded weary. “I’m tired of this pretence and the lies. But you won’t get away with denying me again. I spent twenty years of my life not knowing who my father was because you denied your responsibility when you got my mum pregnant.” Idara turned to Kate. “You should understand how that felt; growing up without knowing your father isn’t easy. I was eager to meet him when my mother finally revealed his identity. I was so desperate to be a good daughter, toe be accepted by him, that when he told me to wrangle my way into the life of the Itahs, I obeyed. And when he put his plans into action, I had to obey.”
Kate finally found her voice. “You had to obey? Had to?” a feeling of anger welled up in her chest as she looked at the person responsible for her father’s death. “Did he out a gun to your head? How can you blame another adult for your choice?”
She turned to the Barrister. “Why? Why, sir? You spoke of the chief, my late father, in such glowing terms. How could you have him poisoned…?” she suddenly staggered as a wave of dizziness washed over her.
Deji instantly moved close to her, while Chris dragged a chair towards where they were standing. “She needs to sit down. I think she’s in shock.” He turned towards the watching policemen. “Please, let’s get some air in here. I don’t want her to pass out.”
The policemen milled around reluctantly for a few moments, but soon all but three of them moved to the waiting lounge outside the lawyers’ office. The ones who remained kept a grim eye on the lawyer and the handcuffed Idara.
Kate waved Chris and Deji aside, and refused to sit down in the hair Chris had pushed behind her. The dizzy spell had passed and although she felt a little nauseous, she was alert again. “No, I need to hear this. I’m fine.” She looked at the Barrister, who was standing behind his work table, one phone still clutched in his sweaty hand. “I want to hear him explain this.”
The lawyer was unwilling to change his story. “I insist this is all a set up!” he pointed a finger at Idara, but Kate noticed a tremor in his hand. “This young woman is not known to me beyond her official capacity as the house manager at the Itah mansion.”
Tears welled up in Idara’s eyes. “I was still hoping my recent fears were not true, but hearing you deny me so harshly now, I know you sent those men after me last night. Dad, how could you?”
The lawyer raised his chin, his eyes cold. “I have no idea what you guys are talking about…”
“If you insist you’re innocent, and then let’s see what’s in that phone of yours.” Chris cut the lawyer short. “Let’s see who you were texting.”
The lawyer looked down at the phone in his hand, and then slid it into his pocket. “I’m not handing my phone over to you or anyone else. On what grounds? You can’t just come in here and try to bully me and fling false allegations about.”
“I’m betting you were texting one of those men lying dead downstairs.” Chris said. “Surprised? Yes, they are all dead. We waited for them just outside the gates and followed them in when they entered the office premises just before midday. But instead of what they thought would be Kate’s easy abduction, they were met with a barrage of bullets. None of them managed to survive the ambush, which is a shame.”
The lawyer cleared his throat loudly. “I still have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Before anyone could stop her, Kate darted towards the lawyer. Deji tried to grab her hand, but she escaped his grasp as easily as a wet bar of soap. Kate rushed forward, furious; her anger had finally gotten the better of her. “You evil bastard! You killed my father!”
“Kate! Stop!” Chris yelled, stepping forward to catch her, but he was too late.
As Kate stepped towards the lawyer, rather than cringing backwards, he moved towards her quickly. In the blink of an eye, Kate was held tight to his chest and gun that had materialized from underneath his work table was pressed to the side of her neck.
“If anyone comes near me, she’s dead.”