(Continued from The Age Factor IV)
Elizabeth looks outside the window of her office. The farm looks beautiful at this time of the year. The early morning sun is spreading a beautiful golden color over the green expanse. At a different time of her life, she would have experienced sheer joy by simply looking at the farm.
But today her mind is preoccupied with problems.
She has just received word from the lawyers: Richard’s children are challenging the will. It is all very confusing. A mere two weeks ago, she was living a simple life. The only complication was her crush on Richard, but even that was in control for as long as it was secret.
Then Richard asked her to be his girlfriend and immediately after things start going falling apart. Now Margaret, Richard’s mother, is dead, and Richard is gloomy and irritable.
Perhaps Richard is also bothered by the fact that Silvia is living with a very young man. That caught even Elizabeth by surprise. Silvia is a stingy woman. She is not used to spending even a cent of the wealth that she has accumulated from past lovers. That she is spending huge sums on a lover, young or otherwise, is a shocker. Maybe age is finally catching up with her. She has bought him a Mercedes Benz that he drives around with.
Elizabeth sighs and walks back to her desk. She rubs her temples and sighs. Silvia has the luxury of doing whatever she wants, but she, Elizabeth, has a farm to run. And Richard is not helping much these days. He just sits gloomily in his office doing pretty much nothing.
Besides his mother’s death and Silvia’s escapades, there is also the other matter. One that must also be weighing heavily on his mind. The matter of his mother’s will: Margaret, before she died, had written a will leaving her 30% stake in the farm to Elizabeth. That makes Elizabeth the majority shareholder, with a 60% stake against Richard’s 40%. She left her school to a board of trustees, with Richard as the Chairman of the Trustees Board and Elizabeth as the Secretary. Surely, anyone in Richard’s shoes would feel aggrieved. He had always expected that his mother’s stake in the farm was his.
Silvia drives to her apartment in a high mood. Her young lover Hezron has rejuvenated her spirits (and body) in a way she could never have imagined. She parks her vehicle on her parking slot, which is usually next to Hezron’s. The Apartment owners give two parking slots to each tenant.
Hezron’s Mercedes is not at the parking lot and she wonders where he could be. This boy! she mumbles, smiling. Even she does not know why she helped the boy, who was part of the gang that kidnapped her, to avoid jail alongside the others. But something about him made her feel…feel what? She doesn’t know, all she knows is anxiously waiting for him to come home so that they can hop into bed. He is a skilled and attentive lover, unlike the older men she has dated in the past. She goes up the steps to her first-floor apartment. The shoes at the door puzzle her. The lights are also on.
She opens the door and enters slowly. Then she stops. Inside the house, Hezron is with a girl she has never seen before. They are both on the floor, with the girl lying on Hezron’s chest. They seem to be playing a game on Hezron’s phone.
It takes a moment for Silvia’s brain to register why they are on the floor. The apartment has been swept clean. No furniture. No electronics. No curtains. Nothing-except the carpet they are lying on.
“What is happening here?” she demands.
They ignore her. In fact, the girl nestles into a more comfortable position on Hezron’s chest. Enraged, Silvia rushes towards them, with the aim of grabbing the girl and yanking her off by the hair. She does not anticipate what happens next.
Hezron and the girl spring up like cats and wrestle her to the ground. Within minutes they have Silvia tied up. Hezron folds the carpet, a luxurious Russian rug, while the girl takes Silvia’s car keys, two phones, and ATM cards.
“You do not know the PIN,” Silvia says sarcastically.
“I don’t. But your lover knows. You told him yourself,” the girl replies with a smile, nodding at Hezron.
“But surely, you can only withdraw Kshs. 40,000 from each of those cards. How can that help you?”
The lady smiles again.
“It will help me and your lover to skip the country. We have already transferred the bulk of your money to the Organization’s accounts. By the time you involve the police, your money will be in dollars and out of the Kenyan System. And your lover and I will be safely in Somalia. My agents are already selling your household items on the black market, and by morning this carpet and your car will be too. Of course by morning this car will have a new identity. I must say, Hezron is the most profitable recruit I have had in recent years,”
Suddenly it dawns on Silvia that this girl is a criminal mastermind, not a dumb girl Hezron has picked up for cheap sex. She starts to scream. Within seconds the two have gagged her mouth firmly. When they have everything, they turn to leave. Hezron pauses at the door.
“Do not worry, sweetheart. I will call your husband to come and collect you when we are safely out of the country,”
Richard sticks his head into Elizabeth’s office.
“Can I have a word?”
“Sure,” Elizabeth replies, puzzled.
Richard strides into the room and heaves his body into the visitor’s chair next to Elizabeth’s desk.
“I want to take some days away Liz. The last couple of weeks have been brutal to me. Seeing my mother bleed to death was not easy. I keep asking myself if I should have let those fools take Silvia. I started the gunfight Liz. In a way, I killed my own mother, because if I did not shoot at those fools, they would not have fired back.”
Tears start rolling down his cheeks. Instinctively, Elizabeth reaches out and touches his arm.
“You did what you felt was right Richard. And no, you did not kill your mother. Those criminals did,”
They stay in silence for a while as Elizabeth ponders on how to bring up the question of the will.
“Your children have objected to the will. They want their grandmother’s share of the farm. They say she was not in her right senses when she crafted the will,”
Richard looks surprised.
“I didn’t know that. Don’t worry, I take care of it. I will get them to keep off. Of course mother knew what she was doing. Silvia blinded me and the only person she could trust with this farm was you.”
“I can transfer 10% to you so that we become equal partners,”
“No Liz. Mother wanted you to take care of the farm. This is her husband’s toil and she wanted someone in charge who could take care of the farm as my father did. I have fallen short of course, largely because of Silvia,”
Just then his phone rings. He picks it and holds a brief conversation with the person on the other hand.
“He is claiming to be Silvia’s boyfriend. He says she is tied up at her apartment and that I should go there and help,”
“How do I know that this is not one of Silvia’s ploys to manipulate me? No, Liz. I am done with that woman. I will just call the police and relay the message.”
A strong wave of affection goes over Elizabeth’s body. Maybe she was wrong about this man. Maybe he is in fact over Silvia.
“I told you. I regret choosing her over you. But I respect your decision and won’t pressure you,” he says, reading her mind.
Elizabeth goes over to his side, bends over him and pecks his cheek.
“I will give us a chance Rich. But please do not break my heart,”
“I promise not to deliberately hurt you. I may hurt you unintentionally, but that is because I am human, and I am sure we can sort it out as other couples do,”
He stands and hugs her tightly.
“One more thing. I think you should take your mother’s shares and be the majority shareholder. How will this relationship work if I am your boss?” Liz asks, freeing herself.
“If you respect me, it won’t matter. When my father married my mother, he was jobless while she was employed. For many years, mother earned more than dad and it never affected their relationship. They respected and loved each other. Of course, later this farm became very profitable and dad earned way more than mum but the point is, to both of them, it didn’t matter who earned more. They did not allow finances to come in the way of their relationship. To them, finances were theirs jointly. I would want that for us to,”
“Of course. But you will remain the CEO and I will remain the COO,” Elizabeth says.
“Whatever you say, Madam. You are the boss,” Richard says smiling.
Elizabeth throws her hands around his neck and hugs him tightly.
“You should call the police now. Your ex-wife might actually be in trouble,” she says, breaking free from him.
He looks at her dreamily, as if he has not heard. Then he slowly removes his phone from his pocket and dials the police hotline.