The brown coloured jump suit hugged her body, revealing perfect curves in the right places. She wore a simple necklace with a small pendant, then an earring and a bracelet to match. Her hair, natural, was held up by a black band. She stood in front of her mirror, accessing her dressing, before applying makeup.
"Na wa o", Helen said from where she sat upright on the big bed, watching her friend, "dem go hear am today o. So there is a man in this world, Nigeria kpa kpa, that can make you dress like this? That guy needs an award".
"What's even your own self?" Benita asked, folding her lips and pressing them together.
"My own is that if anyone had told me I would see you like this today, I would have denied it", she laughed.
"You ganged up with my parents on this issue of boyfriend, fiance, husband. Now I see a guy that catches my fancy and you are here laughing?" she turned around, still admiring herself in the mirror.
"I'm not laughing. I'm only saying the guy must be seriously hot. I can't wait to meet him".
Benita turned around sharply, "meet ke! He wouldn't even look at you. You're in your third trimester for crying out loud" she chuckled.
"It doesn't matter. Haven't you seen guys that accept other men's children just because of the love they have for the woman?" It was Helen's turn to chuckle. "Don't worry. I'll simply give you my husband and take your man".
"Naaa... It won't happen", Benita made a face. I don't like your husband". Helen laughed.
"But seriously Benny, you look sweet".
"Just make sure you get him to come see your dad and mom, then me".
"I will do my best", they both laughed. "Ok now, I'm set to go. Give me a hug?"
Helen struggled out of bed and hugged her friend, "this hug is for you", she said, then hugged her again, tighter, "and that is for Tobi". The duo laughed.
"I'll ensure I give it to him".
"You had better".
Me and you, we two of a kind,
we out of our minds
there ain't no love like ours....
That was Benita's ring tone. She looked at the caller ID. It was Chucks, the Uber driver that normally takes her out on special occasions or when she didn't feel like driving. She picked the call.
"Hello Chucks, you are here already?"
"Yes," a voice replied from the receiver.
"Ok. I'm coming out". She hung up.
"Off you go sweetheart", Helen hugged her a last time. "Take care of you. I'll be waiting for the gist when you return".
"You too like gist", Benita pouted, playfully.
"Who no like am", she laughed.
Benita picked her bag and headed down to the sitting room. Helen accompanied her to the door and out to the gate. After which, she returned to the house. Benita got into the car and told Chucks her location. It was still noon - 3:15pm. Lagosians weren't returning from work yet. So hold-up was definitely avoidable
She was wrong. They still met hold-up on the way. However, within 45 minutes, the car came to a halt in front of a restaurant somewhere in Maryland. She said her thanks, paid her fair and continued into the restaurant. However, when she looked around, Tobi was nowhere around. A waiter came to usher her to the table that was reserved for them, after Benita explained that she had a reserved table. She only sat 5 minutes when one of the waiters delivered a letter to her. It was from Tobi. She opened it and read,
Hi dear. I'm so sorry for the delay. My car suddenly developed a fault. Please meet me down the road, behind Queen's Supper Market.
Your dearest, Tobi.
Although the letter came as a surprise, she was glad he left It for her. If not, how would she find him? She folded the letter into her bag, stood up and left.
She go to the super market at the end of the street and took the road beside It to the back road. Tobi was there, by the side of the road, leaning against his car - an old Camry. His clothes were soaked with sweat, effect of staying under the hot sun for hours.
"Good afternoon", she greeted as she reached where he stood.
"Hi" dear. Good afternoon", Tobi replied, as he openly admired her. "You look stunning",
"Thanks.", she grinned. "And you are so sweaty." He laughed, looking down at himself. "So what happened to your car?"
"I can't tell. Just that it suddenly stopped and wouldn't start again. I've spent time doing everything I know should be done to a car. Guess what?"
"It came back to life. I turned it off just before you showed up".
"Ok. Good news. You have nothing to worry about then. So, shall we?"
"I don't understand ", Tobi said, confused.
"We still have a date, right?" Benita asked. Wondering why he choose not to understand.
"Oh", he chuckled. "Yes we do. Please forgive my earlier question. The car must have down something to my head".
"hahahahahaha..." she laughed. "Don't sweat it dear. Let us just move ahead".
Tobi opened the front passenger seat for her. She stepped in and he closed it before going over to the driver's side. He started the car and the engine roared to life.
"Awesome!" he exclaimed as he reversed the car. He then drove off in the direction Benita emerged from.
It was not until they passed the restaurant where they made seat reservation that Benita turned to Tobi with raised brows. "You passed the restaurant", she told him
"I know. The restaurant can go. There's somewhere I need to take you to"
"And what's the name of this somewhere?"
"Don't worry. You'll see it when we get there".
"O..k", she managed, wondering what this place was.
The next 45 minutes met them in a less busy location, far away from the city. It had more bush than houses, talk less humans. At this point, Benita started to wonder where they were and why they were in such a place.
"Tobi, where exactly are you taking me?"
"Safe from what?" she was perplexed.
"Somewhere safe for me. Not you"
"Tobi stop this car right now!", she ordered, panick already taking over. She had heard too much about kidnappers to know that there was 75% chance she was being kidnapped. But the car continued, now on top speed. "Tobi!" she yelled.
The car slowed down gradually and finally came to a halt under a banyan tree by the side of the road. Benita looked around. They were way deep inside the bushy area. The houses in their present location were scantier and not a single person could be found on the street. Tobi had quickly gotten off the car, walked around to her side and opened the door.
"You have to take me back to the city", she told him before he took her hands and pulled her out of the car. "Tobi.." she cried out when in the process, she hit her side against the door frame.
"Sorry", Tobi said. But it didn't stop him from pinning her against the car and then tying her hands and legs together, amidst muffled screams and pleas. Once done, he picked her up and placed her at the foot of the back seat. "Stay put," he instructed. "There are lots of potholes on the way. The ride will get bumpy".
"Tobi please," she begged, "Please don't do this. Please don't kidnap me".
Tobi paused. He looked down at her. His expression gave away the fact that he actually wanted to pick her up, hug her and wipe her face clean of all sweat and tears. But doing that would give away a lot and since he couldn't risk having his plan destroyed, he ignored her, got in the car and continued deep into the bush.
It was not the first time, neither was it going to be the last time she battled with the rope that held both her hands and legs together. As she worked, bending over and using her teeth, her panting increased' her fears receded to the background and all she could think about was escape. That was it. Unfortunately, the bumpy ride didn't make it easy for her to focus on the task at hand. She lurched and was tossed. Was it a crime to finally fall in love? All her life she had never truly been into any guy. Now the first guy that she was loved was actually a kidnapper. Maybe a ritualist. She wasn't sure.
Tobi, if that was his real name, would have a lot to answer to if she eventually escaped his evil plan. She would use all the powers and resources at her father's disposal to crush him. The filth! How could she have been so stupid to have fallen head down into his trap? What was he going to do with her? Rape her bloody before taking a knife and ripping off her body parts for rituals? Or was he going to sell her off to those cartel lords who trafficked young women abroad for prostitution? What? Really what?
Love, they say is truly blind. Apart from being blind, it made one do stupid things; things you ordinarily wouldn't have done. She had never been one to be so easily deceived. Benita was, as her friends described her, down to earth, had no time for sitting on cloud nine when life was dealing her real blows. She preferred to call a spade a spade and even though she had her own share of boyfriends, none had easily swept her off her feet. No way, They weren't even close. She was too real for that.
Being the only child of Chief and Chief Mrs. Asabi, she should have been spoilt silly during her growing up days, but Mrs. Asabi, her mom, wouldn't have any of that.
"Life is real, my dear. Being spoilt and over pampered wouldn't get you far in life. You need to see things as they truly are so that you can get adjusted to it and find away to live with it or solve it".
Her first relationship was a flop. Being a virgo didn't help issues either, as she always was darn too hard to please. Her second relationship lasted a little longer but it held no real interest for her. Her boyfriend at the time, Steve was his name, seemed to be doing everything to please her. But she always suspected that he was only being extra nice because he had eyes on her father's wealth. It's a game she had seen played over and over again - get a rich girl, beautiful or ugly, it didn't matter. Woo her, treat her well enough so she can accept your marriage proposal when the time came. Their game was done just so as to get hands on her father's wealth. Steve knew that her father's money was solely hers to spend - benefits of being an only child.
But when she couldn't stomach his pretense anymore, she broke off the relationship. Steve, in all his anger, rained insults on her, telling her how shallow he thought of her. She wasn't surprised. She just wanted to move on. And she did.
Benita Asabi was an event organizer. Her company, B. Asabi's Center, was a successful one. Thanks to her hard work, planning, execution and her parent's connections. She had capable hands in her staff list, but still, she never left anything to chance.
Her best friend, Helen, married to another chief, ran the center with her as assistant. Helen was her bestie, from childhood to adulthood. They were partners in everything - sisters to most others.
The first time Helen talked to her about internet dating, she vehemently rejected the idea. Benita had read too much stories of woe from internet dating activities and she preferred to learn her lessons from other people's experiences, not hers.
"But Benita, there are still those who will tell you that they got married via online dating. And today they do not regret it". Helen reasoned.
"That's their own cup of honey. Let them enjoy it for being fantastic risk takers. As for me, I must see the man I date one on one, access him well before I decide if its yay or nay".
"You're too tough on men", Helen accused.
"I can't help it." I'm a rich woman. A lot of men only approach me for what they can get, financially. Nothing more".
"Then choose one. Don't delay any longer. You're not a baby",
"What? you've joined my parents and all the gang that remind me to hurry up and get married, like I'll just walk up to any man, put a rope around his neck and drag him all the way to the altar. Do I also have to make his lips move to say, I do?"
"Oh come on!" Helen stood up too, ignoring her slightly protruding belly. She was in her first trimester then. "Its not like That. Ok? We are not trying to make you feel bad. All we are saying is stop being too harsh. Try to pass a smile sometimes. Its the only way guys will warm up to you. And belief me, you need them to".
It was that advise Benita took. She loosened up, smiled more often with men at events and even on the road, when they threw a hello or hi her way. It was the advice that rang in her head when she , on one sunny day at the Bar Beach, saw a man sitting all alone. Ordinarily, she wouldn't give him a second thought. But he looked lonely and sad. His floral print shirt was undone. The sea breeze made its ends flap restlessly against his sides. She couldn't see his full features as he had his back to her. But she noticed he sighed repeated and she wondered what could bug a man to such state.
"Try to pass a smile sometimes", Helen had said. In as much as she did not want this particular man for a relationship, heck, she wasn't even thinking of It, she was sure her smile would do him some good. And so she stood up and walked up to him.
"Hello", she smiled warmly. A pair of brown eyes turned upward to look at her. Her breath caught and her heart did a number on her. So much so, she almost missed his subdued, "Hi", If not for his rich baritone that caught her ear. She swallowed - an effect she had never had before for any man. This stranger's full brows, full lips, finely modelled nose and chin beards got her starring and almost forget why she walked up to him in the first place.
"Are you ok?" he asked, getting to his feet and fully turning to face her. She had just walked up to him and said nothing more than hello. And then she turned pale.
"Oh", her heart played another prank on her when she saw his body built - four packs, through the opening of his shirt. She was suffocating. Couldn't breath. It took her will power to turn away and catch her breath, before she made more fool of herself.
"Are you ok?", he asked again, moving closer as he towered over her.
"I am", she slowly turned around, a little more composed. "Sorry. I just thought you were someone else", she lied. "I've been watching you from over there", she pointed to the spot she sat a while ago. "You seemed sad and alone. So I thought a little hi might help pull you out of your sad state".
"Hmmm!" he sighed and looked away. "I wish it was that easy. But thanks all the same. Your distraction plan helped. I'm Tobi. What's your name?"
"Nice to meet you, Benita".
The duo got talking. Benita made him walk with her along the beach shore, instead of going back to his lonely corner. They talked and laughed. Oh, his laugh, it was breath taking and heart stopping. She wanted to place her hands on his chest just to feel the rise and fall when he laughed. She wanted to place her hands on both sides of his cheeks, pull him down and passionately kiss his smiling lips. It took all her self restraint to not do to him all the things she thought of doing. His nearness warmed her body, as well as caused goose pimples, making her nipples hard behind the pads of her bra. Benita couldn't understand why he affected her so much. He was the first man she had ever felt those tingling butterfly feelings for.
Before leaving the beach that day, they exchanged contact details. And upon getting home, Benita couldn't help but ring Helen up. She just had to tell her bestie what she experienced at the beach, being the first time ever.
"Finally!", Helen was excited. If Benita could see her, she was actually jumping for joy, while holding her belly, "a man who has caught and held your interest. I'll love to meet him in person and thank him till he begs me to stop".
"Oh, go away", Benita laughed.
Days turned to weeks and weeks to months. She saw Tobi only at weekends. But each time there seemed to be something disturbing his mind. Whenever she asked, he'd say he didn't want to laden her with his burden.
Now there she was, tied up like a chicken and being taken to only God knows where. She looked up at the sky through the rolled up window. It was getting dark. Evening was approaching. Benita bent over again, trying to use her teeth to undo her binds. The car chose that moment to run wild along a terrible pot-hole infested road. The sudden jerking threw her backward, hands and legs followed and she hit her head against the door.
"Ahhh!" she cried,
But of course, Tobi seemed not to care about her. She could cry all she wanted, there was just nothing he could do, not when he was trying to reach their destination before dark. If only she had stayed put, as he had instructed her earlier, she wouldn't spend the ride being thrown from one passenger door to the other. Neither would she hit her head. He had a plan, and he had to see it through.
The bumpy ride went on for another 45 minutes, running past trees and bushes on lonely roads. As hard as she tried, Benita couldn't pick a sound of human activities in the region they travelled through. It was quiet, save for the sound of the car wheels and engine at top speed. They had been traveling for more than an hour. Night was almost at hand and she had no idea where she was. She was tempted to cry, but she couldn't. Her father's words rang in her head, "only weak women cry. And crying has a way of preventing you from thinking of a possible solution to the problem that faces you".
"What do I do now, daddy?" she whispered. "I've tried, I can't loose my binds. I don't know where I am and Tobi is a big man. He'll pin me down and have his way because I wouldn't be able to fight him".
Seated at the foot of the back seat, she bent her head over her tied hands and feet. For the first time since the unfortunate journey started, she lost hope and she wept.
She didn't know how long she remained like that. All she knew was that sometime later, the car came to a halt. She heard Tobi, from the driver's seat, sigh in relief. Few seconds later, he opened his door and stepped out. She heard his footsteps close to the door she rested against. But then, it moved away. If he was going away and the car had stopped, then it was her perfect opportunity for escape.
Benita pushed herself forward and checked the compartment between the two front seats. There was nothing there she could use to cut her binds or even work it. Desperate, she bent over again and began to work on it the best way she could, with her teeth.
The door behind her chose that moment to open. Tobi stood there, looking down at her. His almost pink lips gave his already handsome features an additional finess. His chin beards were as she liked them, trimmed and shaped. His broad shoulders covered what was left of the setting sun from her view - a shoulder she once leaned on and ran her hands along. She swallowed then, wondering why she ever let him use his handsome features and gentleness to deceive her.
"What are you doing?" Tobi asked, frowning, "You will hurt yourself".
"Like you're not already hurting me", she shot at him.
"I am. I know. And I am sorry. But I have to do this". Opening the car door wider, he got hold of her and pulled her out. He loosed the binds holding her ankles together, held her by the arm and pulled her along, ensuring her reluctant steps matched his.
The scary looking one story building in front of them was their destination. It was surrounded by trees, roofed, had windows and iron bars in place as protectors. Tobi didn't let her take in the surrounding properly before pulling her into the dark house and into one of the empty rooms along the passage. There, he tied her ankles together again and then stood up to look at her. From the little light playing across the room, she could see his facial expression. It looked like he couldn't bear to see her suffering as she was, but there seemed to be nothing he could do for her.
"I'll get you something to eat", he said, and then walked out, closing the door behind him. The sound of a key turning in the hole soon followed. Now she was sure, Tobi really meant to harm her. And from the looks of things, there was no escape for her.
To be continued....
©Karo Oforofuo. February 2017
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