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The Prodigal Daughter (Episode 52)

There was a deathly silence in Barrister Bishop Ekanem’s office for a few shocked moments. Chris could literally hear his heart thumping against his ribcage as the lawyer pressed Kate closer against his body and cruelly dug the gun into the side of her neck, eliciting a gasp from her. The armed policemen had immediately jumped to their feet and aimed their guns at the lawyer, but the man was careful to keep Kate between him and any bullets.

“I swear it! I’m not going down without a fight!” Barrister Ekanem warned, his eyes darting around as he glared at all the occupants of the office and those peering into the office from the doorway. Outside, in the waiting lounge, the chattering stopped as everyone realized what was happening in the office. Most of the shocked watchers held their breath, as though afraid one loud inhalation would pull the lawyer’s finger around the trigger of his gun.

Kate had gotten past her initial shock and disbelief at the speed with which her impulsive act had caused the situation to take a turn for the worse, and she whimpered in fear and pain as the lawyer pushed the gun against her neck. Deji shuddered with barely controlled ager at the sound of her moan, but he knew better than to even move a muscle. He remained still, beside Chris.

“Okay, sir, you don’t want to do anything stupid.” Chris said softly. “This building is filled with policemen. You can’t possibly walk out of here.”

The lawyer grinned. All traces of civility had disappeared from him. His eyes were wild and his breathing was fast. “Oh but I can. No one will dare make a move on me as long as I have a hostage as valuable as the heir of the great Chief Itah Bassey.”

“Dad, listen to him.” Idara said , sounding scared. “You can’t avoid being arrested, but you can save your life…”

“Shut up, you stupid girl!” the lawyer spat. Kate shuddered at the sheer venom in the voice just beside her ear. “I gave you a few simple tasks and your usual inefficiency ruined everything. And then you turned yourself in to the police. I may have gotten your mother pregnant, but you’re no daughter of mine! You’re as useless as your stupid mother, with none of my grit and courage! Go and ask your prostitute of a mother who your real father is!”

Idara’s anger ignited. “Don’t you dare talk about my mother that way!” she screamed back at the lawyer. “She was an innocent girl and you deceived her with your sweet words and lies. I’m every inch your daughter, and you’re the despicable monster who sent men to kill me!”

“Easy, Idara!” Chris hissed. His eyes were riveted on the gun whose barrel was digging into Kate’s throat. “Not now, please. Let’s all just stay calm.”

“Why?” Kate suddenly asked. She twisted her head around slightly, ignoring the pain as the gun grazed her neck. In the grip of fear, she had found an inexplicable calm within herself. “Why did you get Idara to kill the Chief? He was your friend.”

For a moment it seemed Barrister Ekanem would ignore her question, but he suddenly laughed, a bitter grating sound that rubbed her nerves raw.

“There are only three reasons men are pushed to murder. Love, revenge and power.” The lawyer rumbled, his lips close to her ear. “I had all three reasons behind my action, dear girl. He took too many things from me. His wife, his political positions, and all the money he made. Ah, beautiful Clementine, who stole my heart from the very first day I set my eyes on her! With Clementine by my side I could have had all these! But he stole her from me! I introduced him to her and he took her right from under my nose. She didn’t just enter his life with her brains and acumen, she brought him fame and fortune. I never forgave him, and as time passed I began to hate him. I was left to deal with the female dregs!” He threw a glance at Idara, whose lips tightened. “Yes, you happened when I tried to recover from the loss of Clementine by hitting on anything in a skirt. Your mother was gullible. I was careless. You were born. End of story.”

Kate shuddered. “You’re a terrible person. A truly horrible man.”

The lawyer shook her. “I know. Now shut up and move. Slowly.” They both shuffled forward, the lawyer making sure his gun never wavered from its position. Chris, Deji and the armed policemen watched helplessly as they moved towards the open door.

“I’m coming out now and if anybody makes a wrong move, she dies!” Barrister Ekanem yelled in the direction of the door. The crowd outside shifted backwards, clearing a pathway immediately, the gun at Kate’s neck becoming a Moses’s staff, parting the sea of people in front of them.

Chris watched them move past him, his fists opening and closing helplessly. He could sense that Deji, who was standing beside him, was just as tense. But neither of them dared to make a move towards the lawyer. They knew it would be a fatal mistake to make. If they spooked the man into pulling the trigger, Kate would definitely die.

Kate’s gaze met Chris as they moved past him. In that moment, unsure that she would survive the next few minutes, Kate felt regret. Tears pricked her eyes as she stared at Chris with longing, remembering their moments of shared passion. How she wished she had done more than just kiss him. She knew what she felt for him was beyond mere attraction; her instant connection to him had been a visceral jolt she should not have ignored. If she had known about the danger that loomed ahead, she would have taking the risk of opening her heart fully to him. In that moment, Kate knew she had fallen in love with Chris Umoren. The pain and fear in his eyes as he watched her on the brink of death told her one thing—he was also in love with her. But now they had lost the chance to follow their connection to a blissful conclusion. She felt no real fear as she turned her head away from him. All she felt was sadness.

And yet, even though her mind had reconciled itself to her possible fate, her body had not. As she and the lawyer steeped through the doorway and past a line of grim policemen who were helpless to act, her trembling knees buckled. That was when it happened.

Just as she missed a step, Kate heard a loud bang.

Check back on Saturday for more episodes. 

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