Kelvin felt the world around him spin and spin out of control. He reached over the reception counter, grabbed the visibly confused and shaken receptionist by her jacket and asked;
“Who took my wife?”
Everyone down in the hotel lobby was now starring at the two of them.
With her lips quivering and her feet off the ground, the girl stuttered her way through her response. “It was a tall man…sort of, like your height…young, I think in his late twenties…or early thirties…I don’t know! I’m not sure. Why are you doing this to me?”
Kelvin released her immediately as realization dawned on to him. Lebogang, he thought. How the hell did he know to find us all the way here in Zim?
“Is there a problem sir?” The thundering masculine tone of the man standing behind Kelvin sent a chill down his spine before he could slowly turn to look at who had addressed him.
The gigantic frame dressed in a well-fitting black designer suit hovering over him forced Kelvin to take a deep breath and calm himself down, if only for a few seconds.
“I am sorry sir,” Kelvin quickly apologized for his behaviour. And then he turned towards the receptionist and bowed his head at her in sincere commiseration.
“My name is Simbarashe Chiruvhu, I am the manager.” The giant had reached out his hand and Kelvin extended his as well and the two men shook hands.
“Sincere apologies for losing my cool,” Kelvin apologized again. “It’s just that, I thought something might have happened to my wife and….”
“I understand sir and thank you for apologizing,” Mr Chiruvhu said. “Safety for our guests is one of our top priorities and if there’s anything I can do to help….”
“Surveillance cameras,” Kelvin quickly said. “I saw that you have some by the entrance when we came in yesterday.” He was pointing to the entrance of the hotel. “Do they work?”
“Yes they work perfectly fine.” He answered.
“Then I think we’ve found a way you can help me.”
A few minutes later, Kelvin was looking at Evelyn rush out of the hotel with her bag in hand and was met outside by none other than Lebogang.
Forgetting where he was for a moment, Kelvin banged his fist on the table and won himself questioning stares from the technician and the manager.
“Can you zoom in,” Kelvin told the technician operating the cameras. “I want to see that car’s number plate.
Kelvin quickly wrote down the number plate, thanked the two gentlemen and went back to the suite.
He called his PI.
“Get a pen,” Kelvin said the moment his call was answered.
“Who’s this?” The PI asked.
“It’s me, Kelvin.”
“Oh sorry boss,” the man said. “I couldn’t recognize the number. When did you travel to Zim?”
“You have a pen and paper ready?” Kelvin asked, completely ignoring the PI’s efforts at civility.
“They’re ready,” he replied.
“Write this down,” he said, giving him Lebo’s full names and the car plate number he had written down. “Find out everything you can about this guy and give me his current location presently. I need this info as soon as yesterday.”
“Yes boss, on it.”
“And my mother?” Kelvin asked.
“We still have people on her and also on her people,” the PI answered. “We are keeping a close eyes on them you don’t have to worry about a thing. She tried to get someone to give her access to the list of names of all S&A secretaries but we managed to block that too. But Mr Kelvin….”
“What is it?” Kelvin could sense something in the PI’s tone.
“You do know that it’s only a matter of time before your mother gets to someone…could be an employee there or just someone else connected to the law firm to give her names. She is a very well connected woman…and she always gets things done no matter what it takes.”
“Harry,” Kelvin interrupted his PI. “Have you forgotten that this is my mother we are talking about? I already know what she’s capable of so don’t waste my time talking about the obvious. I don’t doubt that she will find out soon. I just need you to get me everything you can on that person immediately.
“Yes sir, apologies.” Harry said.
“If that happens, there’s nothing we can do on our end to stop it.”
After the call, Kelvin went back to the reception and was about to inquire about car booking services when the receptionist addressed him first.
“Sir, this was left for you a few minutes ago.” She handed him a small white envelope.
Kelvin grabbed it from her and ripped the envelope apart. The letter inside was short but it’s brief content was enough to rip his heart apart.
Please forgive me for leaving like this. I heard what was said on the phone and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I am so scared for my life and I hate to see you struggle between keeping your loyalty to me or to your mother.
Because I love you, I don’t want to put you in this kind of situation where you have to choose and that’s why I’ve left. I am sorry that I couldn’t trust you all the way to the end…and I am sorry for letting us both down. Please go back home and don’t try to look for me. If you can find me, so will your mother so please I beg of you, don’t look for me.
Take care of yourself.
“Who left this here?” Kelvin asked the receptionist, his eyes wet and heavy with unshed tears.
“A little boy, about ten years old.” She answered.
“Where did he go?”
“This way,” she pointed to the left.
“Describe him for me.”
Kelvin went out and searched for a tall, light-skinned skinny boy dressed in red shorts and grey t-shirt but he found nothing.
Wild thoughts kept running through his head as he searched high and low around the hotel for the skinny looking boy.
Why couldn’t you trust me?
Why him of all people?
Why couldn’t you give us a chance Eva?
You looked me in the eye and promised to stick with me and stay with me till the very end. What changed? What did that guy tell you to convince you?
I said I would protect you…why couldn’t you believe me? Is it because am her son?
After hours and hours of searching, Kelvin finally gave up and went back to what had once been his and Evelyn’s honeymoon suite.
He picked up the pillow she had used and held it to his nose for a very long time, taking in her scent and trying his best not to break down.
How could you do this to me? Kelvin thought as tears welled up in his eyes.
How could you Eva?
He carried those thoughts with him into the shower as he just stood under the cold shower for minutes that felt like hours, with his head bowed and the water falling on his head uninterrupted.
Kelvin was getting ready to check out of the hotel early the next morning when he received a call from Harry his PI.
“It doesn’t look so good boss,” was the first phrase that Harry said the moment Kelvin answered his call.
“Did something happen?” Kelvin asked.
“I think you need to come right away Mr Kelvin.”
For a moment, Kevin froze as he listened to whatever the PI was telling him but he soon recovered and grabbed his small suitcase and he starting running out of the hotel.
“Your reciept sir!” the receptionist shouted after him but Kelvin neither stopped nor did he look back.
* * *
Two days had gone by since Evelyn had last seen Kelvin. Even in her thickest determination to part ways with him, there was still a huge part of her that wanted to be him, that missed him and that cared about him deeply.
“You are doing it again,” Lebo appeared in front of her out of nowhere. He took her hands that where holding on to the rails of the balcony behind their suite and he held on to them in front of her.
“What have I done?” there was discomfort written all over her face as she looked down at their hands.
She tried to free her hands but Lebo tightened his hold and smiled at her. “Your body might be here with me but your mind is still with him.” Lebo noted.
Evelyn’s face flashed with guilt and she quickly avoided meeting his eye.
“I’m right,” Lebo was forced to admit. He let go of her hands and went to sit down on one of the two chairs by the balcony table.
One leg crossed over the other, he looked over at her with a pained expression on his face. “Do you regret coming with me?” he asked her.
“Wait, don’t answer that.” He said.
“You need to understand something Lebo, this isn’t easy for me.”
“I know…I want to understand, I swear am trying my best Eva but, it breaks my heart when I think about how you chose the son of the woman who’s after your life over me.”
Evelyn was nervously rubbing her ring finger, unable to give a response to what Lebo was talking about.
“I can only imagine how you must have been moved when he offered to go against his mother to protect you but Eva,” Kelvin continued.
“How can you still trust him despite everything that he put you through? He spent twenty years of his life avenging his sister’s death…twenty years Eva. That’s not a joke. And if he can so easily betray his own mother, what do you think that says about his level of loyalty?
“I admire the courage you have and your willingness to forgive people but I think you are making a huge mistake right now sulking over someone like that. As long as that guy is in your life, his mother will also be there, lingering around and waiting for the opportune moment to take her revenge.”
“Please, let’s not talk about them anymore.” Evelyn said, and rubbing her forehead she said, “I need to rest for a bit, the migraine is back.”
Evelyn walked back into the room and was about to open the door to her room when she heard a knock on the door.
She turned to look at Lebo who had followed her inside. S
“Are you expecting anyone?” she asked him.
Lebo walked over to her, took her hand and led her to sit down on the couch. “Sit here for a moment,” he said as he knelt down before her.
“What are you doing?” Evelyn asked as a number of wild thoughts went through her head.
“What’s about to happen,” Lebo was saying. “I need you to know that I am doing all this for you…for us. It’s a chance for us to start a brand new life away from all the drama. It’s an opportunity for us to put everything that’s happening right now where it belongs…a chance to buy you the freedom you’ve always wanted.”
Evelyn’s face had turned into a question mark. “What are you talking about?” she asked.
There was another gentle pound on the door again.
“Wait here,” Lebo got up and went to answer the door.
“You came?” Evelyn heard Lebo tell whoever was standing by the door.
Lebo held the door wide open and stepped aside to let the person in.
Evelyn jolted up in her seat and gaped at the guest.
“Good morning Eva,” Shadreck greeting her with a smile on his face.
“What is he doing here?” Evelyn was shaking all over as she waited for Lebo to give her an answer.
Lebo walked over to her and tried to put his arms around her but she flinched at his touch and moved away from him.
“What do you want with me?” Evelyn asked Shadreck Mwangala.
“I came to make you an offer you can’t refuse.” Shadreck said, still smiling smugly.
“Make me an offer?” Evelyn asked. “Did someone tell you that I am looking to make deals, especially with someone like you?”
Shadreck chuckled. “You break my heart little Eva. I thought you and I had an understanding. I happen to like you quite a lot.”
Evelyn threw him a disgusted look.
“Oh no,” Shadreck waved his hand. “Not like anything you are imagining,” he quickly corrected her. I am a business man, not a paedophile.”
“What do you want from me?” Evelyn asked again.
“Why don’t we all sit down and….” Lebo was saying to the both of them but Evelyn’s glacial stare sent him shutting up immediately.
“Why did you tell him where we were?” Evelyn asked Lebo.
“He told me that he had a way of protecting you against Mervis so that she can never harm you?”
“And you believed him?” Evelyn asked.
“At first I didn’t,” Lebo answered. “But when he told me who he was and what he can do to help, I knew that we needed him if we are to live our lives in peace forever.”
“You really have no idea do you?” she was shaking her head slowly as she talked.
“What are you talking about?” Lebo asked.
“You shouldn’t have meddled in my business Lebo.” Evelyn stood up. “I was such a fool to put my trust in you.” She went into her room, picked up her handbag and walked back into the room where Lebo and Shadreck where standing.
“Where are you going Eva?” Lebo went over to her.
“I have no business whatsoever with this person here,” Evelyn sternly said. “The two of you talk amongst yourselves and leave me the hell out of it.
She yanked the door open to get out but her exit was blocked by two huge masculine figures.
“Are these your men?” Evelyn turned to Shadreck.
“If you do not want anything to happen to your best friend Thando, I suggest you come back and sit down so we can talk business.”
The two men pushed her back inside and shut the door.
As Evelyn stumbled back into the room, Lebo rushed to keep her from falling back.
“What have you done to her?” Evelyn yelled
“What do you think you are doing?” Lebo asked Shadreck whilst helping Evelyn gain her footing.
The moment she was stead on the ground, she pushed Lebo aside and faced Shadreck, defiance written all over her face.
“I think you should sit down first,” Shadreck told her and followed his own advice by sitting down as well.
“What do you think you are doing?” Lebo went at him but the door immediately opened and the two guys gave him threatening looks. He held himself back and stood back to address him instead.
“We had a deal,” Lebo said. “I trusted you because you said we had the same enemy. You said you had a way of ensuring her safety as long as you knew where she was but what’s this you are doing?”
Shadreck was chuckling like a man on a thrill of entertainment. “She was right when she said you shouldn’t have meddled in her business.” He said.
“What are you talking about?” Lebo asked.
“Ask her,” Shadreck pointed at Evelyn. “She knows exactly what am talking about…the reason why she’s very afraid right now.”
Lebogang turned to Evelyn, a desperate look on his face.
“He is not here to help me,” Evelyn informed Lebo, but her eyes were fixed on Shadreck. “He is here for purely selfish reasons.”
“What do you mean? He is basically your step father isn’t he?” Lebo asked.
Evelyn scoffed. “Despite everything I told you about my past, you still think he is someone I can consider my step father?”
“When he told me that Mervis had stolen from him and that he was on a mission to ruin her, I thought we could trust him as an ally.”
“And just how did you imagine this alliance playing out Lebo?” Evelyn quizzed him.
“I didn’t think much about it, I was desperate and he sounded so convincing so….”
“So you put my life at risk by signing a deal with the other devil after my life?”
“Maybe we should hear what he has to say first….”
“Are you kidding me?” Evelyn yelled. “You should have talked to me first before making decisions behind my back Lebo. You have absolutely no idea what’s going on here for you to have made such a weighty decision without consulting me.”
“I have no intention of sitting here and listen to the two of you have your lovers fight so am going to lay it down for the both of you so that we are all on the same page.” Shadreck said.
“Your other boyfriend,” Shadreck was pointing at Evelyn accusingly. “That Kelvin,” he said. “I recently had the misfortune of learning who he really is. Him and that mother of his worked hard to bankrupt me and on top of it, they are holding my children hostage. I want my children back, and that Kangwa lady wants you.
“In exchange for my children, I offered to bring you to her since you are the reason why all this is happening. Because of you I lost all my money, everything I have ever worked for is gone. My reputation has been dragged to the ground and I can’t even walk with my head high in public.
Because of you my life has been torn apart so I would rather she takes out her revenge on you than on any of my children. Perhaps is my wife cared about you, I would feel some guilt over what am doing but fortunately for me, she doesn’t seem to care whether you are dead or alive. So, if I hand over to Mrs Kangwa, I get to have my children back.”
“Is that what she told you, that she has your children?” Evelyn asked.
“She already told me everything,” Shadreck said. “I sensed something was off when Kelvin disappeared at the same time my investment deal went south. Even though I can’t take back all the money I lost to her, at least I can have me children back, even if that means sacrificing you in order to achieve that.”
“What are the two of you talking about?” A confused Lebo asked. “What children?”
“She lied to you,” Evelyn informed Shadreck. “Mervis doesn’t have your children, she lost your children…it’s been over a week now.”
Shadreck was up on his feet. “What do you mean she lost my children?”
“Do you need me to say it in Lozi?” Evelyn asked sarcastically.
Before she knew it, Shadreck was on her, grabbing her by her blouse and demanding answered from her. Lebo tried to interfere but he was yanked away like a piece of paper and he went flying across the room.
“What do you mean she lost my children?” Shadreck thundered at her.
“You should ask her who took the children from her yourself,” Evelyn answered. “Someone knew what she was planning against you and used the children to blackmail her into doing something for him. That deal didn’t go so well so the kids haven’t been given back to her.
“So you are wasting your time if you think that handing me over to her will bring those children back to you. She has played you for all these years and you had no idea. Do you think that you are fit to play games with her right now? She has you exactly where she needs you to be because she is still using you.”
“Kasonde!” Shadreck yelled and the two buffed up men entered the room. “Take her to the vehicle right away.” He instructed them.
Evelyn tried to run away but the two men where on her, each holding her by the arm while Lebo desperately tried to fight them, like a dog backing at a wall.
“Where are you taking me?” Evelyn asked.
“Taking you back home,” Shadreck answered. “It’s time for you to say goodbye to the Chobe weather. You are going to follow these men like a good girl and if you so much as attract unnecessary attention to yourself, you will not get to see your friend Thando ever again. Is that clear?”
“I will do whatever you say but please leave Thando out of this. She has nothing to do with any of this.”
“Then she should have picked her friends well.” Shadreck said. “We all have to pay for the decisions we make at some point in our lives.”
“I guess Mervis was right by that logic then,” she said. “Whatever your children are going through right now, it is because of the decision you made to marry a woman like Beatrice.”
“Take her away.” Shadreck commanded his minions. “If you want to see her and her friend alive, you better keep your mouth shut and go back where you came from.” He told Lebo. “You have more to lose fighting enemies that are not even your own and you have already done enough damage.”
Lebogang had never felt so useless in his life as he watched Evelyn walk away with the two men to her sides and Shadreck right behind them.
What have I done? He asked himself.
Shadreck and his minion’s trip to their car down in the dark parking lot was intercepted by the appearance of Mervis in the company of four gun wielding minions that surrounded them.
Shadreck looked around him and found that there were no other people in the car park despite it being in the morning.
“Hand her over to me,” Mervis said to the two men holding on to Evelyn. One of her men who had long dreadlocks on moved closer and before he could say anything, they let go of her arms.
The dreadlocked man grabbed Evelyn and let her to the vehicle.
“Where are my children?” Shadreck asked Mervis.
Mervis was laughing at him.
“They say you can take a man out of the village but never the village out of him,” she said mockingly. “And yet people have the audacity to call you my rival? Just look at yourself….tsk tsk tsk.”
“You have the girl,” Shadreck said. “Take me to where my children are or at least tell me who has them.”
“So you heard….” Mervis said. “It’s true, I am not the one who has your children. Just like you, I have no idea where they are.”
Shadreck lost his cool yet again and was going after Mervis but the three guns pointing at him from all directions stopped him in time.
“Then at least tell me who has my children,” Shadreck pleaded.
“I have your children.” Kelvin was standing behind them.
From where she was seated behind the SUV closely guarded by Mervis’ minion, Evelyn’s heart skipped a beat when she saw Kelvin. She wanted to wave at him but with her hands now tied behind her back, she could only manage a nervous and frightened smile in his direction.
“Kelvin.” Mervis and Shadreck said at the same time.
“How did you….” Mervis was asking.
“Surprised mother?” Kelvin said, completely ignoring the guns that had been turned on him. “Let Evelyn go right now.”
“Don’t point those things at my son you fools,” Mervis shouted at her minions who immediately pointed the guns back at Shadreck.
“And what makes you think that I would do such a stupid thing?” Mervis asked her son. “How could you betray me like this? You fell in-love with her of all people? How could you do this to your father and sister?”
“I have no time to get into this with you right now,” Kelvin said. “Until a few days you were the most important thing in my life mother but because you keep insisting on being a villain all through the end, I gave me no choice but to reconsider my priorities.”
“Are you telling me that she has become your first priority?” Mervis pointed over to where Evelyn was. “You have chosen the girl that caused you to lose your family over your own mother? Have you lost your mind?”
“You can choose to look at it like that, I don’t care anymore.”
“Who the hell does that girl think she is to come into this world and wreck my family apart like this?” Mervis grabbed a gun from one of her minions and started walking towards the car.
“Because she is my wife.” Kelvin shouted from behind.
Mervis stopped and turned back around to face her son. “What did you just say?”
“She is my wife,” Kelvin repeated, very proudly. “And she is the mother of your first grandchild.”
Mervis felt the ground below her start spinning and immediately after, then everything else around her was spinning.
“W-what?” She asked.
While Mervis was taking in the shock her son had just dealt her, Shadreck was looking from son to mother bemusedly.
“When did the two of you get married?” Mervis asked.
“It’s been a week now,” Kelvin said. “But the pregnancy is old enough.”
“Do you really need to go this far just to spite me? This joke of yours is too cruel son.”
Kelvin chuckled. “It would be, if I were joking,” he said, and suddenly turning serious, “You are very good at digging around for the truth, why don’t you conduct your own research?”
“What are they talking about?” Evelyn asked the dreadlocked man guarding her.
“I think your husband just informed his dear mother that she’s going to be a grandmother.” The man said with a smile on his face that Evelyn could not seem to understand.
And then then the meaning of his words finally sunk into her. “How did you….” she started to ask but the man surprised her when he held out a knife towards her.
Evelyn tried to scream out but his next words shut her down real quickly.
“You better keep your mouth shut if you want to get out of here alive. Without looking suspicious, give me your hands.”
Evelyn’s eyes registered the shock first but she remembered his warning and moved her arms so he could cut the rope.
“Why are you doing this?” Evelyn asked the man as he was cutting, using one arm to avoid being detected by Mervis and the others.
“Let’s just say that I am paying back a debt to Kelvin.” He said. “Now, quietly, open that door and slip to the back. Use the stairs to your left. You will find someone waiting for you at the top.”
“What about you?” Evelyn asked. “Mervis will kill you when she finds out what you’ve done?”
“Worry about yourself Eva. There,” he said when the rope completely came off. “Best for you to slip out right now while he’s keeping her busy.”
Evelyn looked over at Kelvin and saw him still talking with his mother. She then grabbed the door handle and slowly started moving it.
“By the way,” the dreadlocked guy was saying. “Congratulations.”
Evelyn paused for a second, smiled and said, “thanks.” She finally opened the door and quietly slipped out.
“How could you do something like this Kelvin?” Mervis asked her son for the umpteenth time.
“Because it’s the only thing I could do to keep you from doing her any harm.” Kelvin said. “So what are you going to do now mother? That girl you hate with everything you’ve got, she’s carrying your blood in her womb. Tell me, do you still feel like killing her?”
Mervis turned to look at the girl that had turned her world upside.
“Where’s she?” Mervis asked. “And where’s Donald?”
There was no sign on Evelyn or the Donald the dreadlocked guy that had been put in her charge.
Mervis furiously turned to face her son while her men went in search of the fugitives. “What have you done?” She asked him, her eyes flaming red and shooting daggers at him.
With a triumphant smile playing at the corners of his lips, Kelvin simply shrugged his shoulders, put his hands into his pockets and spread his legs apart like a man who had just won a long fought war.
He was looking from Mervis to Shadreck when he said;
“Can we talk about Lucy and the kids now that I have both your attention?