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Captive Heart: Hearts In Peril (Episode 17)

Posted by on September 13, 2016.

The next day, Helen followed one of the cooks to a local market nearby. She just needed to get out of the Thomas Mansion; the secrets and danger just kept piling up and she felt stretched past her emotional elastic limit. She had to escape from all the negative energy before she snapped.

The market was busy, full of hustling traders and hurrying people. They had spent almost two hours shopping for foodstuff and her arms ached under the weight of the heavy market bag she was carrying.

She brushed off the hand of an overzealous male trader as they made their way out of the market, giving him a warning look. She was used to being prodded and pulled in markets as busy as this, though. ‘Fine girl’, the men and sales-boys always called her whenever they wanted to get her attention. They would lose their simple minds if they saw someone as voluptuous as Bukola Deinde, Helen thought wryly.

“Sister Helen, which of this stock fish make I take?” the voice of the cook, Ireti, intruded into her thoughts. The heavyset woman squinted at the dried fish heads in her hands, hefting them as a trader, in front of whose stall they had stopped, looked on keenly. “This one heavy, but this one get ear.”

Helen smiled, and propped her market bag between her feet. It felt good to concentrate on simple things like haggling and trying to decide what size of stock fish was the better bargain. She hadn’t shopped in almost two weeks, weeks that seemed as long as a nightmare year. She pushed away thoughts of the Thomas house from her mind as they threatened to intrude. She really needed to go back to living her normal, average, drama-free life.

“That one.” Helen pointed, after running an expert eye over the dried fish in Ireti’s hands. “I like the one with ‘ears’. Looks better, and I like the lighter colour. The other one is too dark.”

“Ah Aunty, no be by colour o!” the trader cut in, laughing. “Those dark ones dey get very strong scent o. if you start to cook, everybody go just dey smell am.”

“Madam, na that smell I no dey like. If e too strong, e dey overpower everything.” Helen said, switching to Pidgin English too. “That type only good to do peppered stock fish.”

“Well, you’re right, my sister.” The woman agreed, adjusting her wrapper. “Customer is always right na. As long as you go buy my market. This one no dey costly. Just one thousand naira…”

“One thousand wetin?” Ireti shrieked dramatically. “For this small lizard head?”

Helen let the women’s haggling fade into the background as she scanned the noisy market, her eyes relishing the vibrant greens, reds, oranges and yellows of the fruits and vegetables on display. This was normal, everyday life. What was she stuck doing in a job for which she was overqualified? A job where she had to keep ridiculous secrets of the rich, while suffering threats and the disregard of an employer who she was getting too attached to?

In the taxi on the way home, Ireti talked non-stop, eager to use the rare opportunity to get close to the young woman who ran the house. Helen kept her responses casual and friendly, but not too deep, wary of getting too close. It would be unwise to get too close to someone she might need to scold or even fire in the future.

But the time spent with the chattering cook lifted her spirits and helped her reach a few hard decisions. It was time to talk to Lionel. Even if it would cost her job, she had to tell him to be careful. He had too many snakes around him.

If he wasn’t watchful, one of them might bite.

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

Cleaned up and refreshed, Helen made her way towards Lionel’s office, her steps determined. It was time to do the right thing. Maybe it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but she was fed up of all the secrets that were living rent-free in her head. It was time to evict them.

She got to the door of Lionel’s office door and paused. She had avoided him since the scene in the corridor, so this would be the first time they would face each other since those sparks had flown between them. She hoped it would not be awkward.

She took a deep breath, raised her hand to knock and…

“Miss Bassey. May I have a word with you?” A sultry voice stopped her.

Helen turned to see Bukola standing by the living room door. She was about to reply, to tell Bukola that she needed to talk to Lionel first, when she noticed the woman kept looking worriedly over her shoulder.

Bukola looked almost… afraid.

Helen’s curiousity was piqued. What was going on with her boss’s fiancée?

To Be Continue

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