Lifestyle

Playing with Fire III-By Edward Maroncha

(Continued from Playing with Fire II)

The old man opens the door to the hut and Louisa is surprised. The place is surprisingly spacious and comfy. The walls and the roof are lined with white pieces of velvet cloth, concealing the mud and the thatch. The floor near the door is covered with a PVC carpet, and this is where the old man motions Louisa to remove her shoes. The rest of the floor is covered with an expensive wool carpet. The room they have just entered appears to be a sitting room, because it has expensive furniture all around. There is a door on one side, and Louisa wonders where it is leading. Outside perhaps? But why would a hut have two doors?

But luxury is not the most surprising thing about the hut. The most surprising thing is that seated on one of the sofas is Humphrey, cool and collected, as though Louisa did not see his corpse at the airport. Is he a ghost?

“Humphrey?”

“Hello, Louisa. Welcome to Lima Island.”

“I thought you are dead…what is going on?”

“Oh that is my brother Henry. He has been putting his nose where he shouldn’t and had to pay paid the ultimate price. But trust me we will avenge his death. How was your flight though?”

He is so casual about it, as though he is not talking about his own brother.

“You have…had a twin?”

“We are triplets actually. There is another called Hebert. You look shaken.”

“Of course I am shaken Humphrey. In fact I am wondering why you are not. I have never seen a dead person before. But today I saw a man with his brains blown off. The man who I thought was you. I am not just shaken, I am traumatized. And then I am driven into remote village by a savage…”

“Have some respect for my father. He is the chief of this island,” Humphrey says icily.

“That old man is your father?”

“Yes he is. It will also interest you to know that he is also Jared’s father-in-law and the owner of Tauen Investments Limited.”

Louisa gasps. So it wasn’t Alpha doing the killing and kidnapping her after all. It was Jared’s father-in-law. But there are still things that don’t make sense. For instance, why would Jared propose that they meet in Lima Island when he knew very well that his father-in-law was the Chief of the village? Besides, Humphrey knew about their affair-he is even the one who organized this trip-why would he betray his sister like that? And finally, why did the old man kill his own son and how did Humphrey intend to avenge that death?”

“Dad did not kill Henry,” Humphrey says, as if reading her mind. “That was the work of your boyfriend Alpha.”

Louisa is surprised. She has never told anyone about Alpha. The only people who know about it are her social media manager and her photographer/videographer. And they know Alpha well enough not to open their mouths. Alpha considers Louisa to be his wife, and according to what he told her, he has many enemies who would want to hurt people close to him. He explained that she would be a target if their relationship became public. So even when they travel together, she pretends to be his PA. They even book different hotel rooms even though they eventually sleep in one. They never take photographs together. Louisa does not buy the theory-she was and still is convinced that he has a harem of women and doesn’t want them to know each other. The man probably owns multiple houses in multiple towns and cities each of them with a woman in it. But it suits her just fine. She does not love him so she is not jealous of the other women. He has been providing for her so what is the big deal if the wealth gets distributed amongst a bunch of women? He always uses protection so the chances of getting infected are low. And besides, on social media she styles herself as an independent and self-built woman, so the fact that he prefers to remain in the shadows suits her just fine.

The question now is, how then did Humphrey find out about her relationship?

“I am the one who chose you, Louisa,” Humphrey says, answering the question she had not yet asked. “My father, my brothers and I have been trying to bring down Alpha for years, but we have not had any success. The man is just too crafty and too connected. My father and the President are friends, but the President has other friends, and many of them are connected to Alpha. The President cannot touch Alpha-even though he detests the man-without his entire political system disintegrating.

It was frustrating, until Jared came to dad and told him that he wanted to throw his hat in the Embu gubernatorial race. At first we were all against it. We did not want the publicity that would come with a political campaign.  But then I heard from one of our sources that you are Alpha’s woman, and I knew instantly that I had to get to you somehow. I discussed with my father and brothers and we agreed that using Jared’s campaign to bait you was a good idea. So we agreed to let Jared vie, but I would work as his PA and campaign manager, just to monitor things. We also agreed that his marriage to Harriet would remain as private as it has always been. That way, we would get a shot at Alpha without exposing our family.

I am the one who suggested to Jared that he should hire you as his social media manager. That was the first step towards drawing you in.”

“So everything has been a lie? You guys have been manipulating me all along?” Louisa says angrily. “I thought Jared was different. He has always seemed to be a very sincere man to me, which is why I fell for him in the first place, even though I knew he was a married man.”

“Jared doesn’t know about all this. Of course his marriage to my sister is a sham. They don’t love each other even though there was initial chemistry when they first met. But my sister is complicated-she has unapologetically cheated on Jared multiple times, something that has caused a lot of fights between her and father. Father really likes Jared, but he also has vested interests in that marriage, as we all do. I think at some point Jared also got fed up with Harriet and whatever feelings he had for her died.”

“Then why are they still together?”

“They have two children, and I think that is what keeps them together. Okay, that is a lie. It is my father who keeps them together. He will not allow them to get divorced. The marriage has been very profitable to us. For starters, even with all the challenges associates with it, that marriage has helped to stabilize my sister who has always been a hot head. She is now a very mature woman and is even running her own business, thanks to the calming effect of Jared. Jared is an effective CEO of the business, and it helps that he is a family member even though not related to us by blood. My father doesn’t like using his sons in the business.”

“Why is that?”

“Publicity. Dad hates publicity. Before Jared we had CEOs who were non-family members. But having a family member who is not a family member-if you know what I mean-was very attractive to dad. In Jared we got a man who is absolutely loyal to us, but whose family tree can be found away from us. Besides, Dad really and genuinely likes Jared. Like you were saying, Jared is a very nice and sincere guy.

Anyway, the point is that we set you up with Jared, without any of you knowing. Other than bringing you together, I am also the one who ensured the offices would be clear in the evenings so that you could fall into temptation. I also messed up Jared’s schedule to ensure that the two of you would be working on that speech late at night, alone. I had noticed some chemistry between the two of you so I just provided an opportunity for the two of you to act on it. Before you came around we have always closely monitored both Jared and my sister, to ensure that a sexual scandal would not arise that would embarrass the family, or worse, make us the centre of attention. That was especially after my sister’s sexual escapades started getting out of hand.

But to get to you, we are willing to relax that. That is why we let the two of you enjoy your illicit love.”

“Jared doesn’t even know that his father-in-law is the chief of this village?”

“How would he know? Whenever he wants to meet dad, he meets him at the family house in Malindi. He knows that I own the cabin where you will be enjoying your romantic get away, but that is that. We are a very close knit community down here, and we prefer it when tourists restrict themselves to the beach. And by the way I am the one who offered Jared the cabin for the weekend, because I wanted to bring you to the island so that we can get the terms and conditions clear.”

“What terms and conditions?”

“We expect you to deliver Alpha to us. If you do that, we will even pave way for you to marry Jared. My sister will file for divorce against Jared so that you and Jared can get married if your love blossoms to that level.”

“What if I don’t do as you say?”

“Jared is a nice guy, Louise. But I am not, and neither is my father or brother. Alpha’s men killed my brother today. They have also destroyed the lives of thousands of other young people in this island.  We want revenge. The two men who killed Henry are already dead, but that is not enough. We want more blood to flow-Alpha’s blood. If you don’t deliver Alpha to us, your blood will flow before Alpha’s. We don’t take betrayal kindly.”

Louisa shivers involuntarily. What has she gotten herself into?

(Continued Here)

Image by Gary Ross from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/asian-woman-wedding-people-female-653899/

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