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Friday, November 20, 2015

'I fell in love with my brother's killer!' (5)

Pointing to the door, I stated:
"I think you better leave. Mark is mine and neither you nor any other lady can take him from me."
She downed the rest of her drink, then stood up. She eyed me, like a snake would would look at its victim before pouncing, a smirk on her face.
"I can see you are going to be difficult. But are you tough enough to deal with me?" she asked in an aggressive manner.

She picked up her bag and made for the door. Then turning to face me, she said:
"I can see you love Mark but what do you really know about him, about his past?"
I looked at her, puzzled. What's she on about now, I wondered silently.
"I can see you are ignorant about a lot of things. Girl, let me enlighten you. Don't let his present lifestyle fool you. Now, he acts all decent, like a gentleman. But he was not always like this," she said mysteriously.

"It's no big deal. Everyone has a past," I rejoined, dismissing her words as those of a desperate person. It was obvious she wants Mark back and she was ready to do anything including smearing his reputation to make me leave him, I reasoned.
 "If this is part of your plan to make me leave Mark for you, then it won't work. He's mine so stop wasting your time, trying to get him back. He loves me and it's me he wants to be with..."
 At that moment, the front door opened and Mark came in. He was surprised to see Victoria.

"Mark! Welcome!" she greeted excitedly, trying to embrace him. But he evaded her arms her arms and instead, came to me and held me by the waist.
 "Sweatheart, hope you are ok," he said, kissing me on the cheek.
 Then turning to Victoria, he demanded angrily:
 "And you, what are you doing here? I told you I never wanted to see you ever again!"
 "Ah, Mark darling, I just wanted to see how you are doing. I missed you, honey."

"Ok. You've done that. Now, leave. Go," he stated, glaring at her. Then hugging me tightly, he said: "I hope you've not been harassing my girl here. Omos means a lot to me and I don't want you messing around with her," he added, giving her a menacing look.
"Don't worry about that. Omos and I have been getting to know each other. And I've been telling her about us, how crazy we were about each other..."
He cut in impatiently.
"That's all in the past now, Victoria. It's over. I've moved on and I'll advise you to do the same," he stated.

"Yes, I can see that," she nodded, her eyes drifting to me. "But did you tell your new love what you used to do? About your dark past, how you used to..."
 "That's enough!" shouted Mark. "Just get out!" he added furiously, taking her hand and practically dragging her out of the house.
 I sat down, wondering what she was about to say before Mark kicked her out. 

He returned and sat besides me.
"Hope you are not upset. Don't let her get to you. She's desperate to rekindle our relationship but that can't happen. With you here, I don't need any other woman. So, just ignore her, ok," he said.
"I don't ever want to see her in this house again. Make sure she keeps off. You are mine now. She needs to get that into her thick skull," I said.
"That's the spirit, girl. No one, not even a million Victorias can come between us," he reassured me, drawing me close and kissing me deeply...

About a month later, a Friday afternoon, I went over to Mark's place as we had a date later that night. He was not at home so I used my key to enter the house. The day was hot so I decided to take a shower before finding something to eat.
As I undressed, one of my earrings rolled under the bed. I bent to retrieve it and my hand touched something hard. I pulled the object out. It looked like a large jewelry case, very expensive looking with precious stones decorating the top. It looked as if it had been there for sometime as it was quite dusty.

'Why did Mark keep this here? It should be in the wardrobe' I said to myself. Out of curiosity, I opened the box. What I saw left me stupefied.
It was filled with all kinds of jewelry- wristwatches, rings, chains, bracelets, brooches, earrings, cufflinks and others in all kinds of precious stones and metals- diamond, pearls, ruby, gold. It was like a mini-jewelry store.
'Is Mark selling jewelry now?' I wondered as I picked a gold lady's watch and strapped it on my wrist. I stood, admiring it especially the small diamonds on it. I was rummaging through the box when something caught my eye. It was a gold necklace, like so many others in the box. What attracted me was the name engraved on it.
I stood rigid, like a stone, holding that necklace in my hand for a long time, thinking different thoughts. What was my sister's gold necklace doing in a jewelry box in my boyfriend's house?
A necklace that was stolen from her many years ago? 
'What's going on?'

"Oh, you are here. I've been looking for you since I got in," said Mark. He had entered the room, but I was so engrossed in my thoughts that I had not noticed him.
"Welcome," I greeted.
It was then he noticed the box on the bed and the necklace in my hand.
"What's going on? Why are you going through my stuff?" he said, hurriedly replacing the trinkets in the box and banging it shut.

I went up to him and demanded:
"Mark, how did you get this necklace? Did someone give it to you or what?"
"Why are you asking?" he stated warily.
"I have my reasons," I said. Then, taking a deep breath, I added: "This necklace used to belong to my sister, Ena. I can recognise it anywhere. Her name is engraved on it. My parents gave it to her on her birthday, a day before my brother's death."
"So? Maybe, she gave it to someone and the person sold it or something," he said.
"You don't understand! It was stolen by the robbers who invaded our home on the night of Ena's birthday party. It was one of the armed robbers that shot and killed my brother!" I said vehemently.

"What..are talking about?" he said, a strange look in his eyes.
"Just what I said. My brother died at the hands of those robbers as he was trying to stop one of the men from taking the necklace from Ena. So, back to my question: how did you get this? Did someone sell it you? Who? If we can get the person, he might lead us to one of the gang members," I said.
Mark slumped on the bed, his face in his hands. "Oh, God! What have I done?" he kept saying over and over.
"Mark, what's the matter? Are you sick or something?" I asked worriedly, momentarily forgetting about Ena's necklace.

He raised his head and I was shocked at the drastic change in him. He looked sick, and in his eyes was a look of sorrow and despair I had never seen before.
"Talk to me, Mark! What is it?" I queried.
"Omos, I'm so so sorry. I know nothing I say will bring him back but please forgive me," he stated pleadingly.
"What are you rambling about? What have you done that you are begging for forgiveness?" I asked, puzzled.

"I'm sorry. I tried telling you about my past, but I was scared of losing you. The incident of that night has haunted me for years. It changed my life, in a way for good because it made me reassess my life and make efforts to change for the better," he stated.
"What incident? I still don't understand," I told him.
"There's no point hiding any more. It's better I come clean so I can be free," he said. He then began to speak. And what he said caused a cold chill to descend on me, like one with a severe case of typhoid fever and malaria and pneumonia...

The aftermath
How I got home that day from Mark's place, I still don't know. After hearing his confession, everything became a blur, as if I was in a dream or something. What kept going through my head was the thought that I had been sleeping with the enemy!
That the man, who killed my brother, caused so much havoc in our family is the same man I fell in love with and have been dating. To think I was even contemplating settling down with him! 

 Oh God, how did this happen, I kept asking myself. But there were no answers anywhere. All I could do was weep tears of sorrow, anguish, despair. At the way things turned out. At Mark's deception.
 "I have no one to blame for the way my life turned out. My parents tried to put me on the right path in life but I resisted and chose the wrong way instead. That way led me to Thunder and his gang. I was recruited and I became a strong member of the robbery gang that terrorized different parts of the city and beyond, robbing, dispossessing people of valuables and money.

  We became rich from our operations and were living well. I thought it would last for ever. That was until that night when we raided an estate at Ogba. It was the first time, I had ever shot anyone in all our years of robbery. We only use the guns to intimidate and not kill. I don't know what came over me that night when I shot that boy. Nerves, fear. I can't tell. All I know is I was 
 no longer the same after that night.

 That boy's face kept haunting me. I left the group after that operation. I no longer had the will or inclination to go on robbery operations. I set up a legitimate business and tried to live a decent life for once. And when I met you, I felt my life was complete. How could I have known that the boy I shot was your own brother? What kind of fate is this?"

 Yes, fate. It was a bad fate that brought Mark my way, made me fall in love with him. Even now, knowing what he did, my love for him is still there. But nothing can come out of this love. It is a doomed love.
 This love will have to take a back seat because family comes first...

The End!

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.

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