Mr Charles stroked his goatee tenderly, pondering thoughts and waiting for his undercover agent to pick up. He was just about to set the phone down when she did.
"Good afternoon sir, sorry I answered late, I was......uh uhm."
" Yes, I can tell you were "uh uhm" I can hear it in your ragged breathing.I hope your partner is our Mark."
"Yes he is sir, I um...I'm still working the case, getting him to loosen up."
Mr. Charles paused and guilt strangled his neck making his tongue bitter and his throat dry."Listen Stella, your like a daughter to me, I promised your Mum and your Dad i'll protect you, Not pawn you off like some prostitue...."
"Its what the Job requires." Stella said with a sigh dragging the Covers further over her chest.
"I know that, whatever it takes, I wrote the contract remember?. All I'm saying is, if you ever want to back out, if that animals makes you do anything that's crossing the line, feel free..."
"I can handle myself Uncle C. and I've already gathered substantial Intel, I know there's something big brewing, I just don't know what , once I find that out I promise....I promise I'll stop taking field jobs ok. I'm not enjoying this....."
"I never said you were."
"But you implied it, that's what you do isn't it. Imply things?"
"Stella what are you talking about.."
"A few seconds ago you called me your daughter. Its funny because right now I can't tell if you're concerned or jealous."
She hung up.
Setting the phone down Mr Charles looked at his wall of Villains, and for once in his whole career fighting crime,he identified with them.
"Who was that babe?"
"No one." Naomi, known to most as Stella replied curtly. Then she crawled on all fours towards Seun who was standing by the bed and batted her eyelashes. "What,no breakfast in bed?, and to think I was beginning to see you as something of a romantic."
"What?Me?Why?." he asked sitting down by her, feeling the heat of her flesh fend off the cool morning.
"Well you know, how you opened up to me about, your childhood, your fears, and....work?"
"Oh yeah, that, well let's just say lately I've felt like a mediator, like the vest between a bullet and a chest.."
"And you needed someone to save you for once..." she said softly.
He chuckled nervously, and she gave him a peck.
"I'd be able to help if I knew what the situation was."
"I already told you, a friend got in trouble at work, now the boss is thinking of firing him."
"Yes, you told me all that last night, but people get fired everyday, I don't see why your acting like it's the end of the world, I mean..."
"Its nothing Naomi, I already told you too much anyway. I think it's time you leave..."
"Hey now, don't be mean!" she said melodramatically and threw a pillow at him.
"Was that supposed to hurt?" he teased.
"No, but this will." She walked naked around the room picking up items of her clothing then stepped into the bathroom and locked the door behind her.
The Story of The Lawansons was the stuff of legends. They had moved to Lagos From Ijebu in 1961 and survived solely off of the Garri they sold on their front lawn. Ajayi Lawanson, Bodes grandfather was a visionary. Admonishing his two daughters and his three sons not to let themselves be put inside a box due to the reality that surrounded them. And it was with this sort of motivation that the family went from selling Garri to trading in live stock, and from live stock they went to selling the White Man's clothes to the eager Black men and women. They thrived and excelled for five years, but then Major Ezeogwu led a charge that would change their lives forever. In the long aftermath of the Coup, Ajayi Lawanson lost both his daughters and some would argue, all three of his sons to the Military incursion. His eldest son died by the sting of a stray bullet, his second son who was always the most hot headed of the bunch died in the forefront of the opposition. His last son, the one who'd managed to survive and seen almost all his siblings die beneath the heel of The Military opted to join in their ranks against his father's wishes, and he rose like a dead fish from the bottom of the ocean, ruthless as he was soul-less, and he'd survived the ascent and descent of The Military without a scar. Major Akin Lawanson, Bode Lawanson were the soul survivors of the Lawansons, Aderemi, Akins sister and Bodes aunt had disappeared 7years ago, and thought to be dead. Bode had only his Uncle, and his maternal grandmother. The former was as glacial as the latter was warm.
"You've always been foolish boy.Cant blame you, must have got it from your Father."
"I told you, they threatened mama."
"Yes yes, your care for that woman still perplexes me. She was hardly around when we were growing up, now she's feeding off you like a damn tick."
"She raised me Uncle."
"She put food in your mouth and a roof over your head, dogs get just about the same treatment."
"Yes yes, don't wear me down with your nonsense. Who are these people, these Filters you speak of?"
"It doesn't matter, I only told you because you gave me the money and I don't want it to look like I already squandered over a quarter of it. They laundered it, they got their share, all's fair."
" They threatened someone you care about, I'd hardly call that fair."
"It was... my fault, listen Uncle don't make this an issue, please."
"Ok, ok, my hands are up, you want to be a mat and let them walk all over you, fine by me, but I won't let my name be disgraced."
Sighing Bode looked to the roof for comfort, his collar was feeling tighter by the minute.
"So what do you want to do?"
"I'm not sure yet, tell me more about this Jesse person, if retaliation becomes necessary, he seems important enough to prove a point, and expendable enough to not inspire an all out war."