…Kelechi Dike wants me dead…
Helen’s words hung in the small space between them, growing larger until they seemed to gather enough strength to push Lionel backwards from the chair in which Helen was seated. He slid his hands away from hers and slowly rose to his feet until he towered over her, face blank with what she supposed was surprise.
She drew her cold hands back and pressed them beneath her armpits, crossing her arms over her chest. She felt like Lionel’s sudden withdrawal was a bad sign, but then Kelechi Dike was his business partner of many years and also probably his friend. While she was ‘just an employee’, she reminded herself with a wry smile.
“I knew you wouldn’t believe me.” she said, trying to keep the fear and disappointment out of her voice. She tipped her chin up bravely and looked up at Lionel, meeting his eyes. “But it’s the truth, as far as I know.”
Lionel towered over her silently and she felt a tremor of alarm run through her as she stared up into his face. If eyes were truly the window to the soul, his long, thick eyelashes were the shutters that hid his soul from her gaze. His expression was unreadable and her mind whirled with apprehensive thoughts. Other than the brief sparks that had jumped between them, how well did she really know him? What if he physically lashed out at her in anger for accusing his friend of attempted murder? What if he already preparing to fire her on the spot or, even worse, call the police to arrest her for trying to implicate his friend and partner?
The sound of quick footsteps broke the tension. They turned to see a short man in a white ward coat approaching them purposefully. His coat was ridiculously long, as he was almost shorter than Helen, but his face was plump and pleasant. He smiled at Helen, and then turned to Lionel.
“Mr Thomas?” the man asked, offering Lionel a handshake. “I’m Doctor Timothy Ajibade. I just left your bodyguard, Mr….” he peered at a chart in his left hand, “…Mr Joe-B. He was shot, but the bullet went through his shoulder, so it’s a clean wound, no bones broken or nerves affected. Apart from a slight concussion and some blood loss, he’s pretty much stable. I do need some medical history, a proper name and someone to fill out a police report.”
As the doctor chattered on, Helen used the opportunity to gather her composure, attempting to smooth back her hair and clean her face with the handkerchief Lionel had given her. She grimaced when she saw how badly her face was smeared, looking at her ripped skirt and dirty shirt in dismay. She was up for some hard questions from Lionel and looking like a street urchin wouldn’t help her confidence at all.
“Why?” Lionel’s voice made her jump. She looked up. The doctor had just left- she could see his ward coat almost touching the floor as he walked away- and Lionel towered over her once more, face unreadable. She had been expecting a bellow of anger and yet, his hushed voice seemed even more menacing. “Why do you think Kelechi wants to hurt you?”
Helen sighed, aware that her headache had returned. She raised a shaky hand and massaged her temples. It was time to tell it all. She was weary of the deception.
“I overheard something, sir- a plan to kidnap you when you returned from the United States. I kept it to myself at first, because I thought I could think up a way to keep you safe without directly informing you, and later, because I was threatened.”
Helen exhaled loudly and looked at Lionel. He was still, waiting for her to keep talking. So she continued.
“I received the first warning as a text message on my phone about a week after you arrived, warning me to mind my business. It scared me a lot and I almost told you at that point, but I decided I needed proof or you would never believe me over…”
She paused, old habits of keeping secrets tying her tongue.
“Believe you over whom, Helen?” Lionel snapped. Helen could hear the anger in his voice. “Who exactly are you referring to here?”
Helen shrugged and decided to bell the cat. “Bernard. It was Bernard I overheard talking on the phone to someone about kidnapping you after your return. And I think he knew I heard something, so I was threatened. So it was just my word against your cousin’s.” she laughed bitterly. “After all I’m just an employee.”
Lionel ignored her last sentence. “Bernard is capable of many dishonest things.” He said, frowning. “I would have taken you seriously if you had come to me. Did you think I would be heartless enough to ignore a threat to you?”
Helen smiled sadly, rubbing her brow as her head thundered from within. “I didn’t know what to think, sir. I guess… I don’t really know you that well at all.”
Lionel nodded, frowning as he saw her wince in pain. “You need to rest, and we need to get someone to look at that head and prescribe something for pain. But I have one more question. Why Kelechi? You haven’t explained why you think my partner wants you dead. Is he involved in the kidnap plot?”
Helen nodded in the affirmative and the movement made her sight double.
“How did you know?” Lionel asked, his voice seeming to come to her ears from a distance.
Bukola, Helen thought dimly. Bukola told me.
Before she could make the words leave her mouth, a sharp pain jabbed at her eyes. She gasped and clutched her head, falling out of the seat.
She heard Lionel calling her name, but as she tried to respond, a deep blackness rushed towards her, then swallowed her.
To Be Continue By 4pm