(Continued from Miranda I)
“What exactly is your problem Miranda? What do you want from me?” Jacob asks furiously after Deborah leaves.
“Like I said, my problem is you. I want you back. I want my family back together.”
“You are the one who tore that family apart. You cheated on me and then threw me out of the house. It is has been four years now. I thought by now you would have two children with your Jimmy.”
“Listen, sweetheart. I know I wronged you, and I am sorry. Please forgive me. Come back home and let us be the family we were always meant to be.”
“Everything is not just about what you want, Miranda. I am not your pet. And by the way, how did you find my girlfriend?”
“Easy, you two lovebirds share every little detail of your lives on social media. I stalked you on social media. I found her profile, and I stalked her as well and found her best friend. I bribed that best friend for little pieces of information, such as when and where you would be going for a date. It is amazing what money can do.”
“You did what?”
“I was desperate to know where you were. You changed your lines so I could not call you. So I checked your social media profiles and saw Deborah’s photos all over. I knew that if I sent you a message on Messenger you would simply ignore it. So I did what I had to do.”
“I am sorry, Miranda. But I am not coming back to you. I went through hell because of you. Now I am picking pieces of my life, I will not allow you and your miserable father to derail me.”
“I love you, Jacob. Give our marriage a second chance. Everybody deserves a second chance.”
“If you truly loved me, it would not have taken you four years to come looking for me. There is something you want from me. I don’t know what it is that you want, but I do know that I will not let you use me for your selfish purposes.”
“Don’t you love your daughter? She needs you.”
“I will not allow you to blackmail me, Miranda. I love my daughter, but that is not enough reason for me to be bullied into coming back to live with you. If you really cared about all that, why has it taken you four years?”
“I did not know where to find you.”
Jacob laughs mirthlessly.
“Is that the best excuse you can come up with? Listen, Miranda. You and I are done. You said I am boring in bed. Guess what? I have not been practicing, so right now I am worse than boring. I want nothing to do with you. I know too well that you will not let me see my daughter if I do not agree to your demands. No problem. One day she will become an adult, and she will understand what you put me through. For now, I want you to stay away from me and from Deborah.”
Miranda stops smiling, and her face hardens.
“I will expose you as a dead beat father. We live in the age of social media, Jacob. All I need is to make a post about how you abandoned your daughter and the world will turn against you. I don’t think even your bosses will condone the behavior of a deadbeat father.”
“And you think I can’t tell my side of the story?”
“Who do you think people will believe between a deadbeat father and a desperate mother?”
“Except that you are not a desperate mother. You are the daughter of a powerful and influential tycoon. I, on the other hand, am the son of a peasant who has been bullied, intimidated and manipulated by a tycoon and his daughter. My story is authentic, yours is fake. Who you think people will believe?”
“There are only two ways about this, Jacob,” Miranda says quietly. “Either you come home with me, or I send you back to Mathare North. I hear you had become quite a popular brick layer. Do you think a fine corporate girl like Deborah will allow herself to married by a brick layer? And that is assuming that she will forgive you for not disclosing your marital status to her.”
“I thought you said you did not know where to find me?”
“We are still legally married, Jacob,” Miranda continues, ignoring Jacob’s sarcastic question. “Plus we have a daughter. Come back home or I will get you fired from your job. Trust me this second time will be worse. I will make sure that you cannot even get a brick-laying job.”
“You can’t touch me now, Miranda. My bosses cannot be corrupted with money. Neither can you bully them as you did my previous employers.”
“Don’t try me, Jacob. You stand to lose a lot if you don’t come home. You have already lost your girlfriend, but there is a lot more you can lose.”
“You can threaten me all you want, but I am not coming back to your house. Deborah will come back to me when I get a chance to explain to her the kind of person you are, and what you did to me.”
“Your self-confidence is admirable. But mark my words: I will come looking for you next week, on a day like this. By that time, the organization you work for will either have fired you, or they will have been kicked out of the country. Either way you will be jobless. My father was one of the largest funders of the President’s re-election campaign so you can bet I know what I am saying. Your landlord will have kicked you out and your girlfriend will be dead. All you will have is me. Of course you can save everyone the trouble by coming home. But you need to hurry and make up your mind, because I am not a very patient woman.”
She rises from the table and goes several tables away where a young girl is waiting. The girl’s face stuns Jacob. There is no doubt she is his daughter. The girl glances at him briefly without any hint of recognition as her mother whisks her way. It dawns on Jacob that the girl, who was barely two years old when Miranda kicked him out of the house, cannot remember him. Guilt tears into him. He suddenly feels like the most irresponsible father on the planet. His daughter deserves better; she deserves to have her father in her life.
But he also instinctively knows that he has made the right call. There is something very suspicious about Miranda’s sudden interest in him. What would make her go to such great lengths to get him back? Even to the point of threatening to get Deborah killed? It is certainly not love. Miranda has never loved him; not even at the time she was seducing him. Maybe he fascinated her for a while-and he is aware that introverts like him do fascinate extroverts a lot-but that was that. When the novelty of the relationship and the excitement of getting married and having a baby died down, she saw him for who he was-an ordinary guy like any other; and she lost interest. And that is why the sudden interest is suspect.
Jacob scratches his goatee absent mindedly for a long time trying to figure out what Miranda is after, but he does not get an answer.
Miranda is furious. The meeting did not go according to plan. She had expected Jacob to roll over after slight pressure. She has always seen him as a weak man. Getting him to marry her was so easy, and kicking him out of her house when she got tired of him was even easier. But perhaps the latter was a mistake; the trenches seem to have toughened him, and he is now a harder nut to crack. Miranda knows she will have to find a way to pressure him.
She desperately wants him back; certainly not for love, but for commercial purposes. Unknown to many, her father’s business empire is crumbling. It has actually been decaying for a while, but that has not been evident because her father has always enjoyed political patronage. State tenders have kept the taps flowing for years. Old Joe, as Miranda’s father is referred to by friends and foes alike, is an average businessman; but he is a genius political hawk, and that is what has helped him build and sustain the empire. But for the first time in decades, he has miscalculated in his political maneuvers, and it is costing him commercially.
President Wallace Masengo and his Deputy Immaculate Achieng seemed to fall out three years ago, and the President seemed to favor the very popular Nairobi Governor Matilda Nyawira as his successor. Old Joe read the mood and allied himself to the Governor. He has spent a lot of time and money in the last three years undermining the Deputy President. But the winds seem to have changed direction again. A resurgent Deputy President seems to have patched out her differences with her boss, and has edged out Governor Matilda as the President’s favorite. Now the President is openly backing her. As a matter of fact, the President has taken a back seat in the last few months and is letting his Deputy run the government as a show of confidence in her.
Immaculate has been chairing Cabinet meetings and congregations of the ruling party as well as representing the President in most official functions. For the past few months, Immaculate has been the de facto President. President Masengo’s administration is hugely popular, thanks to a revived economy. The President’s endorsement is therefore likely to massively benefit Immaculate. But Governor Nyawira is still hugely popular across the country in her own right, and even without the support of President Masengo, she has a fair chance of clinching the presidency. Old Joe is still convinced that the Governor will beat the Deputy President at the polls.
The problem is that the Deputy President is using her newfound power and influence to punish those who have been undermining her. Old Joe has suddenly been caught on the wrong side of the current administration. State tenders have dried up. Banks are being pressured to call up loans advanced to his companies; KRA has suddenly “discovered” that companies associated with the tycoon have been underpaying their taxes; the man himself is being investigated by EACC for corruption. All this would be okay if Old Joe had the financial muscle he is perceived to have; he would have ridden out the storm. But he doesn’t that financial power. He has been surviving on loans, and all his companies have exhausted their credit lines. Without government tenders, he is finding it difficult to service those loans. In short, he is overextended. With banks and KRA breathing on his back, and with no political patronage, Old Joe is staring at bankruptcy.
Miranda knows the ship is sinking, and that is why she has come up with a scheme to survive. If it succeeds, it will probably be the largest insurance scam in East Africa. It is pegged on a life insurance policy that Miranda’s husband purportedly took. If the plan succeeds, Jacob will die after a few months and Miranda will receive millions of shillings from his life policy. A life policy for which no premiums have ever been paid but which records will show have been paid faithfully by Jacob since the day of their wedding six years ago.
Miranda’s contact at the multinational insurance company will receive twenty five percent of the windfall as his kickback. Miranda plans to use the rest to edge out her father from the family business, and to warm her way into the Deputy President’s camp. She will become the DP’s staunch supporter. By the time Immaculate becomes President, which Miranda is certain will happen, Miranda plans to not only have bought enough influence to save the empire, but also get herself nominated to a political seat, preferably the Senate. But all that needs huge sums of money, which is why she needs to successfully pull off the insurance scam. She has to do it quickly because time is running out.
The only challenge right now is that her contact in the insurance company is insisting that she has to be living with her husband at the time of his death for the deal to look legitimate. Miranda had thought she could manipulate and bully Jacob back to the house. But that has failed, and she suspects it is because he is in love with that woman Deborah.
By the time she gets home, Miranda has reached a decision. The only stumbling block to her plans is Deborah. If Deborah is murdered tonight, tomorrow Jacob will fold like tissue paper and come home; and then her plans will get back on track. Miranda drops her daughter home and drives out again.
She is a woman of action. Deborah has to die tonight.
Image by Oladapo Olusula from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/hair-whip-lady-woman-young-female-2419587/
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