It’s been a bumpy long ride, but today we end the Heartbreak Series! I’m glad you’re still here with me to find out how it finally goes down! In case this is your first time encountering this, though, you need to meet Chris first, then the Wedding he went to, before Eduwa’s story finally. Trust me today: you’ll love this one. Don’t forget your comfortable spot and chilled drink before you start o…
The sudden exposure to the cold water shocked him back to alertness immediately. The drowsiness, however, left a fading sense of confusion as the last traces of the drug worked its way out of his system.
How did I get here? What’s going on?
He reflexively kicked for the surface as he felt the tightening in his chest that signaled a pending need for another breath. He broke the surface after a few desperate kicks, taking a greedy gulp of the cold bay air. He spotted the small yacht about 100 metres off already – no one seemed to be at the helm of the lithe craft, but the sails were loose. The shore was much farther than he remembered now, the twinkling lights barely visible.
Taking another deep breath, he struck for the boat, praying silently in his head.
I hope Eduwa is okay…
The shrill ringing of a telephone pulled him out of his reverie.
Chris had been thinking of his next step all day. He still couldn’t wrap his mind around the rejection after the interview. Everything had really gone well and he could have sworn that Lawyer Akorful had been pleased with his performance at the end of the day too. All these thoughts only served to compound the confusion he felt at not getting the job.
Almost absentmindedly, he thumbed the screen of his phone in response to the unfamiliar number to answer it.
“Hello, Sir. I believe I’m speaking with Mr. Asumeng?” The feminine voice sounded familiar.
“Yes, this is he. May I know who’s speaking?”
“I’m Erica Smith, calling from Akorful, Gyemibi and Associates. You had an interview here last week, I believe.”
He was a bit irritated now. What did these people want from him now after raising his hopes?
“Yes, I did. I also received a very polite rejection letter from your outfit only a day ago. What can I do for you this morning?”
She seemed to pause a bit before continuing.
“I’m sorry about that sir, but I’m calling about a different matter. Lawyer Akorful would like for you to meet him at Hightop Towers for lunch tomorrow afternoon at 1pm. He would like to discuss a matter with you he asked me to specifically state as mutually beneficial.”
Chris’s interest was piqued now as the shreds of irritation were vanishing. He paused, shuffling papers on his desk as he thought through the message for a second.
“Okay then, unemployment does free up a man’s calendar. What have I got to lose? I’ll be there.”
With the last bit of his strength, Chris hauled himself up unto the deck of the boat with the aid of a sturdy rope that trailed it in the water. Breathing in deeply, he caught his breath lying down for a few seconds before rolling unto all fours and lightly tiptoeing along the 50-footer’s deck. The main door to the compartments below was ajar, and he could hear voices coming from below that became clearer as he approached the sitting room.
A woman’s voice first, it sounded as if she’d been crying – Eduwa!
“What did you do?! What did you do?! You’ve killed him!” She was saying, as if on the verge of hysteria, punctuated by sobs.
“Oh come off it! He meant nothing to you, and you know it.” That was a man’s unfamiliar baritone voice. “Spare me the theatrics. You remember you promised me that you’d love me alone forever? Why did you abandon me for him? You know what? I don’t want to know the answer to that question. We’re together now, and that’s all that matters!”
His heart caught in his throat at what he overheard. Was Eduwa involved with someone else all the while? He shook his head a second later. Impossible. She wasn’t that type of lady. He’d come to know her over the past year and-a-half and wouldn’t be in a relationship with her if he’d had the least inkling that she’d been that type of woman. She’d been nothing but pure gold from Day 1 and they’d had no issues since, save the normal ups and downs of any well-meaning relationship.
His first instinct was to rush into the room to confront whoever was there with Eduwa, but on second thought, he decided to make his way to the Secure Room to retrieve one of the handguns there. Can’t be too prepared.
Backing away from the corridor leading down to the sitting room, he moved toward the aft room quietly. He idly wondered where everyone was – the cook, the solitary deck hand and the temporary captain. A banging sound from the kitchen next to the Secure Room answered his question almost immediately after the thought crossed his mind. After briefly considering letting them loose, he decided against it – better they stay safe behind the metal doors for now. Having too many people underfoot might compromise Eduwa’s safety too if it spooked the attacker.
Inputting the code on the door’s side panel, the heavy metal door swung open and he stepped into the dark interior of the Secure Room. He made a beeline for the wall safe and keyed it open to retrieve the Colt .45 stored in it. This would be the first time Aunty Patricia’s son would be holding a real gun in his life, but the thought of losing Eduwa to a madman terrified him more than the thought that he held a deadly weapon in his hands this evening.
He steadied himself, sending up a silent plea not to need to fire a single round as he stepped out of the cold room.
“And that is why I asked to meet you here today.”
Chris couldn’t believe his ears. His chicken teriyaki lay in front of him, forgotten for the moment. The surprise he was feeling was threatening to squeeze out of him in an undignified whoop any moment as his mind tried to comprehend his good fortune.
Arriving just 5 minutes before time, he’d been pleasantly surprised to find Lawyer Akorful already sitting in the waiting lounge on the last floor of the Hightop Towers with a cold Bisaap drink on a glass coffee table by his side as he did the daily newspaper crossword puzzle.
This man makes being rich so much more classy than most of the big bosses in town, he mused to himself as he strode through the elevator doors out into the lounge himself.
After surprisingly warm greetings, the older man wasted no time for much small talk and launched into the subject of their meeting.
“Shortly before the interviews we held last week, an idea that I’d been toying with came strongly to life in my mind. You might already know that our firm liaises with other firms in West Africa to conduct business for our clients with international interests in the sub-region. What I’ve been planning with the key members of the Board is us becoming the first to have offices set up in 3 countries in the Sub-Saharan region! Our main office will be in Ghana here, while we plan to have one in Cote d’Ivoire, and a third in Nigeria.” He paused to smile slyly at this point.
“We therefore decided to interview not just for the position of a new Associate here, but for someone to head up the groundwork in rolling out our establishment in each of these countries under the supervision of one of our key partners.
“Candidates who could serve neither as an Associate here, nor in the forerunner capacity I just mentioned didn’t get past Eduwa. The other senior executive you interviewed with and I were the ones with the final say on who got shortlisted for what. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m offering you the opportunity to be the main point man under a managing Partner to help set up our Nigerian operation. And that is why I asked to meet you here today.”
The grin that split Chris’s face gave Mr. Akorful all the answer he needed. Pushing back his chair and rising up from the table with an extended hand – which Chris promptly took in a hearty handshake – the older man smiled in return.
“We’ll be sending you the conditions of service via email this afternoon so you can go through it before a meeting to iron out the final details in 2 days. I’ll be expecting to see you in the morning at 9am then.”
“Thank you, sir”, was all Chris could manage to say at this point. Matters had swung way past the mean of what he’d grown accustomed to nowadays.
“And one more thing.” Lawyer Akorful spoke up again as they got to the bronze elevator doors, bringing out a calling card.
“Eduwa asked me to give this to you and to ask you to call her. Handle it…carefully.”
His smile now was reminiscent of a predator on the prowl, causing Chris’s to falter somewhat as he decoded the underlying message – don’t mess around with my daughter!
Chris nodded shortly to convey understanding of the unspoken directive. Roger.
The elevator doors slid closed a second later as Chris returned to the restaurant, elated.
The card was burning a hole in his pocket though and after asking them to package the rest of his meal, he dialed the number the moment he was free as he waited.
“Hello, this is Chris. I got your message Ms. Eduwa. Your father was…not intimidating as he delivered it at all.”
Her laughter in response was heavenly.
“You’ve got jokes”. The smile was evident in her voice even after she’d stopped laughing.
“Sorry to put you through that though. I just wanted to apologise for putting you through the interviews without letting you know the full extent of expertise required and both of the positions you were actually being interviewed on. The Lawyer felt that our purposes would be better served getting the applicants at their best when they didn’t know the full extent of the interview.”
“Well, to be honest, the rejection letter really did a number on my already flailing spirits and I’m still only slightly revived by the good news from your father. Hmmmm…” He’d added the sigh for theatrical effect alone mischievously.
“Ow, then let me know your address so I can send you a hamper to help you get over it asap,” she teased.
“Well…since you appear so interested in lifting up my spirits, there is one thing you could do…”
“And that would be?”
“Dinner, or lunch – whichever you prefer – this weekend. What do you say?”
Did I overdo it too soon?
“Are you sure about that date, Chris?”
“Oh quite sure! You come across as one interesting young lady, and if for nothing at all, we’ll be working together pretty soon and I’d like to get to know those whom I work with better.”
“Oh, so you’ll be taking the whole Accounting staff out for dinner in the coming weeks, right?”
“Oh chale!” Chris burst into laughter. It was quite an even more interesting character she seemed to be by the second.
“There norr, misunderstanding dey come inside o!”
She was laughing again.
“Okay, okay. Let’s make it a late lunch this Saturday – I’ve got a promising appointment that whole morning – you pick a place and I’ll be there so you can tell me more about your plans for the Accounting and Administrative Departments!”
The cold metal in his palm prevented him from succumbing to the wild thought that this was all a dream as he crouched, listening at the door to the sitting room.
Eduwa’s sobs had quieted now and the man was ranting less and less. He seemed to be pacing nervously now. Apparently, the enormity of what he’d done was just dawning on him.
“Do you know that your father has been trying to keep us apart?! Foolish man! I came up to the house over 10 times in the past 3 months alone and he even set the dogs loose on me the last time!”
He seemed to be getting worked up again.
“He was even telling lies about you saying you didn’t want to see me again – can you imagine that? I don’t know what shocks me more: lying about your wishes or him blatantly lying to a man of the cloth?!” He ended this line with a hearty laugh.
“Gerald, Daddy was telling no lies. I asked him not to let you into the house. Besides, even without my saying so what else did you expect from him?! You’re the one who quietly slipped out of my life, remember? It was pretty obvious by then that you couldn’t handle a wheel-bound me, wasn’t it? Don’t change the narrative now you want something from me – you left me at my lowest.”
“Oh you too, that’s all in the past. Can’t you forgive again? I’ve said I’m sorry many times so far. Wo nso so!”
“Oh, are you referring to the low-key stalking you were doing all over my social media footprints before I blocked you? You left over a year ago and now you’ve been suspended by your Church you’re showing up for what here? Yes – I heard through the grapevine of you impregnating the Overseer’s 19 year-old daughter! I only thank God I was way out of the picture before you degenerated into this.”
“Oh, so you’ve been keeping tabs on me, eh? I knew you still had feelings for me after all. Let’s let the past be the past and forge forwards from now on. We’ll just say that guy – Chris, right – we’ll say he was unstable mentally, drugged everyone and then committed suicide, see? Simple!”
“Never! Then you’ll probably have to murder me too because I won’t go along with such a wicked plot. I don’t love you anymore, can’t you see?”
Chris was just about ready to step into the room then when he heard a sound that too many television series and movies had made him grow accustomed to – the unmistakable cocking *click*of a gun.
“In that case, I’m sorry it’s come to this Eduwa. I guess it’s a murder-suicide this evening because I cannot go to jail over that fool of a boyfriend of yours. He couldn’t even take care of you when you needed him. Or maybe he’s some sort of freak who has a thing for girls in wheelchairs?” He punctuated this last sentence with a short bitter laugh.
Chris had had enough and kicked the door open, taking in the whole room in a split second. The crazy man stood facing him on the other side of the room, the menacing pistol at his side now. Eduwa was sitting with her back to the door, however, in the direct line of sight between him and Gerald! Thinking fast, before Gerald could swing the gun his way once the surprise wore off, Chris raised the gun with a shout.
The late lunch didn’t really go as he’d expected.
Chris had opted for Christie’s Buka for late lunch. It was just outside the heart of the city though, so getting there wasn’t too difficult. It was basically a large open summer hut that could seat not less than 100 patrons at a moment with the different meals being prepared right in its center. Local dishes were the main attraction with a fewer continental dishes available also. A number of winding paths meandered through the about 2-acre sized mini-park behind the summer hut.
She got to the eatery about 10 minutes after Chris had arrived himself, waiting at a table as he scrolled through his Facebook timeline to while away the time. The driver of the sleek Mercedes who drove her had assisted her out of the car and into her portable battery-operated wheelchair by the time she’d called him to tell him she’d arrived. She rolled up the ramp on her own, just as Chris got to the doors.
“I can move the chair on my own, you don’t need to help push me,” she said with a little smile as he reached for the handles on the chair.
“I don’t mind,” was his reply with a smile.
She disengaged the motor, allowing him to push her to their table.
It was a bit awkward at first, but within just under half an hour, and with a few well-placed jokes and pop culture references, they were chatting on as if they’d been childhood friends.
Strolling through the park after the meal, Chris found himself opening up to her like he hadn’t so far to anyone on how he really had felt about Adjoa’s betrayal. In some ways it felt like a lifetime ago now, in others like just yesterday.
As he spoke he felt a large weight leech away and he found himself even laughing at some points as he recounted their date the night of his passing the Bar exam.
“But that girl, she messed me up paa o,” he ended.
Eduwa had been quiet through most of his story, laughing only at the points where he cracked jokes about the story. She sighed now he was done.
“C’est la vie, Chris. Sometimes we can only play the hand we’re dealt, not what we wish for. You’ll be fine, okay?”
He looked away then, a bit embarrassed that he’d opened up like that to virtually a stranger when he’d barely even allowed himself to dissect the whole issue so he could let go of all the baggage of it.
“Chill, let me tell you a story of grace to balance out your own, okay?” They’d gotten to one of the shaded benches by now so Chris took a seat by her as she spoke.
By the time she’d gotten to the point of her strenuous earlier physiotherapy days, he was spellbound.
“My father has been following up on every lead that promises to restore me to at least some semblance of mobility over the past year. I think he still blames himself a bit for my accident. In fact, I was just coming here from meeting up with a German specialist in Experimental Microsurgery who flew in for a conference this morning. I’m just getting tired of all the hopes being raised by specialist after specialist now…”
She sighed and looked off into the distance at the setting sun on the horizon. Chris stared at her profile and knew that if he was just curious before, he was now totally intrigued…and smitten.
“You’re a beautiful, strong, inspiring young woman. Don’t give up hope yet – not when you’re closer today than you were yesterday, okay?”
She tilted her head up at him with a sudden mischievous glint in her eyes.
“Oh, so you’ve now recovered enough to be a motivational speaker now, right?”
He roared with laughter at that.
“Herh! You eh? I won’t mind you. I’m only glad that you aren’t put off by the church in general now after – what’s his name sef? – the great Apostle Jericho!”
It was her turn to laugh now.
“Hwɛ, it wasn’t easy that day! The way the two of them pissed me off eh? I was already frustrated enough from the intense workout I’d had that day, so his oil was the last thing I needed on my plate that evening. Mtcheww!”
They spoke at length about growing up, school and family till the walkway lights were all lit as the dark of night descended.
They resumed their stroll and all too soon were back at the parking lot.
“It’s been an interesting experience, Mr. Asumeng. Thanks for the welcome distraction from my dreary existence.” She smiled widely the smile that was covertly giving him palpitations from the backseat of the plush Mercedes.
“The pleasure was all mine, Ms. Akorful. I would like to do this more often though if you wouldn’t mind too much.”
She paused for a second, the smile lessening a bit.
“Are you sure about that? I won’t fault you if my wheels put you off after all…
He leaned in closer and pointed at his face.
“Look me in the eyes to see if I’m lying – I’ve enjoyed your company immensely and if you’d let me, I’d like to enjoy it even much more in the days and weeks and months to come. Does that satisfy you now?”
“Let the records forever show that you brought this on yourself, young man. No refunds o!”
She waved at him as the car drew away.
The silly grin on his face said it all to anyone who cared to glance at him just then – Christopher Asumeng, Esq. was officially in love again: hook, line, and sinker.
Chris flung the handgun straight into Gerald’s face! He’d decided that he couldn’t risk the bullet ricocheting within the enclosed space or a shot going astray in Eduwa’s direction. The lunatic getting a shot off too was out of the question so his genius plan was to try and get him to drop the pistol so he could subdue him.
As luck would have it, the handle of the Colt smashed with an audible crunch into the other man’s nose and he shouted in pain almost immediately, dropping the gun he held and he reflexively raised his hand to his nose.
Chris launched himself at Gerald, tackling him to the carpeted floor, but he was almost fully recovered from the initial assault now and fought back as one possessed. Bunching his legs together, Gerald finally propelled Chris off him before scrambling to his feet, looking around wildly for the gun he’d dropped.
Luckily, both pistols had been pushed even further beneath the heavy sitting room couches during the brief tussle between both men on the ground. They both stood facing each other now, panting heavily with Eduwa now backed up in one corner of the sitting room.
“Gerald, stop this madness right now. It doesn’t have to get any worse than it already is!”
He ignored her, choosing to address Chris instead.
“Oh, so you didn’t die after all – how disappointing.” Gerald thumbed his nose at him, flicking flecks of blood in his direction. He was gearing up for a fight and wouldn’t back down now.
Chris tried to draw on the aggregate of mixed martial art tournaments he loved to watch on weekends off from work. Knees slightly flexed, body rotated slightly, breathe deeply – don’t get hit!
The taller man came at him with a solid right hook that he managed to closely swerve, but he didn’t see the knee that Gerald managed to drive into his solar plexus out of nowhere!
As he gasped for air, doubled over, the oddest thought ran through his mind. If I wasn’t sure before, I’m now convinced he’s no real pastor at all – what man of God even knows how to fight dirty like this?!
Still bent over, he threw himself headfirst at Gerald, ramming his midriff point-blank headfirst and heard a satisfying shout escape from the other man as they both collapsed on the floor again. They grappled around on the floor again but this time Gerald managed to grab Chris in in a chokehold and no matter what he grabbed or stomped on, the animal of a man still wouldn’t let go!
Chris started to gasp for air as his vision started to blur in Gerald’s iron grip.
So…this is it. At least, I’m not a failure anymore…
That is…until he heard a loud crash followed by an almost immediate loosening of the grip on his windpipe! For the second time that night, he greedily gulped in air, coughing as he rolled away from the man who now lay sprawled out on the ground behind him, pieces of an expensive china vase lying around him.
As his vision cleared further, he lifted up his head to look at his most unlikely saviour – Eduwa!
She stood behind them leaning against the wall, breathing hard as she supported herself.
To say he was stunned would be an understatement.
“How?! When?! You can walk?? But how??!” He sputtered as he tried to take in the miracle before him.
He got up to support her with both arms before she fell over, which she was grateful for. He helped her back to sit in the couch, casting a glance over at the man knocked out cold on the carpet to ensure he was still breathing.
“This is the second time I’ve gotten a response. The first time was in Physiotherapy after the sessions with Dr. Schlessinger. The microsurgeries to implant the NanoBits® [Nanotech Biomechanical Transmitters] took barely an hour each and I really didn’t believe they worked, until I actively extended my legs and took a few steps about 2 days ago! He said that now I’d started experiencing some of the effects it would get progressively better as the tech got used to my physiology or something – you know how those doctors get with their jargons sometimes! I was going to try to stand a bit for you to see earlier today until Gerald hijacked the evening.”
“You know, I saw an unfamiliar face amongst the crew but I thought to myself that I couldn’t possibly know all of them by now, having been here only once before so I shrugged it off. And looking back, the Orijin Zero did taste a bit funny – I can’t believe he drugged me! Ɛyɛ me sɛ w’abodam kakra o!”
“It’s okay, we can dissect the evening later. I’m just glad you’re okay now.” She was leaning back to examine his face for any bruises or cuts, the latter of which there were none in contrast to the multitude of the former on his face and the rest of his body.
“That we both are,” he corrected. “I’m so happy for you, dear!” He hugged her tightly again and sent a silent prayer up of thanks.
“So I guess we secure him and head back to shore now?”
“Yes, please! I need me a warm bath and some sleep after going at it with Tong Po there! But maybe in a few minutes.”
With that, he drew her closer as he lay back gingerly on the couch to breathe in deeply the fresh herbal scents of her hair.
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