Sons of Victor – Chapter Fifteen


Mara gave up reading through the long list of tabloid and media headlines her team had compiled for her after their press release went viral. She threw the tablet on the passenger seat and reversed into her parking spot at Eris-Harmonia.

There was nothing surprising about what she had just read. It was exactly the kind of gabbage she had expected to see from a population that thrived on sensationalized scandals of its political figures and celebrities. This was the first media storm for the provincial minister of Lusaka. He had candidly informed her that he was mentally prepared for the onslaught that would follow the release of his announcement, but Miranda couldn’t help worrying about the one person who was at the center of it all; Irvin.

She had wanted to call him the night before the release came out, but she knew what having such a conversation with him would mean. She would have to take responsibility of his welfare, and that would directly interfere with how she handled the whole case. She never ever had to worry about mixing business with please before, but now with Irvin in the picture, it was all too consuming. In the end she had not made the call.

That night, she kept turning and tossing in bed, unable to sleep.

And then he had messaged her.

She had only looked at the number once from the list William’s personal secretary had compiled for her, but she was able to recognize it right away. How many times had she found herself staring at that piece of sheet during the day, fighting the temptation not to save it again after deleting it that first time?

Miranda had considered ignoring Irvin’s texts but a picture of him flashing the most purest of smiles she had ever received flashed through her mind and her heart skipped a few more bears faster than humanly recommended. What is happening to me!? She wondered. She threw the phone on the other side of the bed as if it had burnt her fingers, jumped off the bed, and frantically started fanning herself with her hands.

This is wrong. I can’t be feeling like this. He’s just a little boy. Get your head on straight Mara. What’s wrong with you?

She kept pacing from one end of the room to the other as the two sides of her conscience battled each other. Of course the evil side won because she found herself picking up her phone and sending a response. After that, everything went as wildly out of control as her good side had predicted. She was doomed. She was attracted to a man over ten years her junior, and he happened to be the son of her biggest client, who was a minister and multi-millionaire. Everything spelt disaster, but she wouldn’t be Mara if she did not dive straight in like a demented woman despite the obvious danger.

“Good morning Ms. Bwalya,” came the greetings from everywhere around Mara in the lobby as she made her way to the front desk of her business fortress. It was a daily routine at EH, one she thoroughly enjoyed because it reminded her of at least one thing she was still in charge of despite her disastrous personal life which was constantly spiraling out of control. She waved and nodded to her employees until she reached the front desk where the receptionist Carol was waiting for her, a huge smile on her face and a stylish mug of hot coffee in her hand.

“You’re my favorite thing in the morning Carol,” Mara said as she took the mug from her. She had long accepted her addiction to caffeine and had given up fighting it altogether. She opened the lid and drew her nose to the steaming brim of the mug and inhaled.” I’m in heaven,” she said before taking a sip.

“You look extra beautiful today ma’am. In fact, you’re glowing,” Carol said, giving her boss a sweeping look from head to toe.

She was right, Mara was feeling extra sexy today. Normally, it would have been because of the successful signing of the account with the Minister’s personal office she had just landed, but this happiness was for a whole other reason. There was just something about a young man finding her irresistible and bravely making his intentions as clear and daylight. It was something she had never experienced before. Of course she had been pursued, and even went as far as dating younger men before, but not with the kind of age difference that existed between her and Irvin. Irvin had given her something no other man had ever given her, be they young or old. He had given her assurance. And that had made her feel like a super woman.

“Expect a shit storm of our usual suspects today,” Mara informed the receptionist. “I’m sure you’ve read today’s headlines.”

“They’re actually already here Ms Bwalya,” Carol said, looking at something behind Mara’s shoulder. Mara turned to check and was not surprised to find her media nemesis Gift Tambatamba, the lead investigative journalist for the country’s leading and most trusted online newspaper FOCUS. Tambatamba was the king of scoops. His paper was the number destination for breaking news. It was a paper those seeking fame hopes to be, and the same one they despised the most once they became famous.

Gift was the first journalist to awaken the country to the idea that any individual, firm, or organization that contracted the services of her PR firm was indeed guilty of something, and thus trying desperately to control the media narrative and reduce damage by contracting the services of the ruthless scandal fixers. And that is why, everytime EH released one of its famous PRs, Gift was the first to show up at their doorstep. He was like a cockroach, the one with wings. It didn’t matter what the obvious story was, whether eminent death loomed by or not, if Gift had a hunch about something deeper, he refused to let go until he proved himself right or wrong. Unfortunately for Mara, he was rarely wrong.

“Oh dear, if it isn’t Gift!” Mara exclaimed sarcastically. “How shocking to see you here at this hour.”

“Save the theatrics for the fools that believe the gabbage you put out there in honey coated sentences Mara,” Gift said. He was a very thin tall man, appearing to be in his mid-thirties and looked like he could use a whole bottle of Vaseline for his cracking lips, and perhaps even a plate of ten pig hooves dipped in brown beans to keep him nourished for at least two days.

“What did your lips ever do to you Gift?” Mara asked, removing a small bottle of Vaseline from her handbag and handed it to him.

Without protest, Gift shamelessly scooped a generous amount and carelessly stabbed it on his lips. He handed the bottle back to Mara who shook her head in response. “Keep it,” she said. “I bought that one specifically for you. I knew you would be coming by,” she smiled sarcastically. “I thought that maybe if I helped you look like a decent human being for once, you would spend less time in front of your computer digging into people’s private lives, instead, spend more time digging into women’s private parts using those two weapons of mass destruction on your face. What do you want here Gift? “

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear your insults and go straight to business,” Gift said, opening his notepad and turning his recorder on. “I don’t need to mention that I’m recording this conversation right?”

“I don’t remember accepting any interview appointment with you,” Mara turned to the receptionist. “Did my PA inform you of any such thing?”

“No ma’am, there’s no such thing on your calendar for today or the rest of the week, or month, which by the way is already filled up,” Carol said.

Mara made a mental note to write to HR and increase Carol’s Christmas bonus by 10%. “You heard for yourself,” she shrugged her shoulders in feigned innocence. “I have a pretty filled up day. I’m sure you understand. You of all people know the situation.”

“We both know my name will never appear on your calandar,” Gift said. “We also both know that I won’t just go away just because you refuse to talk to me. And you know very well what happens when I can’t get answers directly from the source. I start to dig, deeper and deeper.”

“I’ll give you two minutes,” Mara said. She knew when to fight, and when to relent. “Ask and then make yourself scarce. The clock starts-“

“Is Miranda Kamanga the reason for the demise of the Minister’s marriage?”

Of course that would be the first question. How they love a Scandal. “The records for the divorce are in the public domain,” Mara answered. “Irreconcilable differences. Only the two of them know what those differences were, it’s none of our business. However, I can tell you that Miranda was not even in the country when the two were going through divorce. The Honorable Minister didn’t even know about the existence of Irvin, until a few days ago.”

“Why did she keep his birth a secret?”

“Did you even take time to read the PR or you just ended on the headline?”

“I did,” Gift said. “But it was way too generic, which wasn’t so surprising given the firm behind it. It doesn’t address the when, why and how.”

“Do you know why your parents decided to have you Gift?” Mara asked. “Do you know how they did it? Who said what to who first? Who was on top or down? Or maybe they preferred other adventurous styles?” Behind her, Carol was terribly failing at muffling her chuckles.

“You’re crossing the line Mara,” Gift warned.

“You know what, I think you’re right,” Mara said. “It isn’t any of my business poking into the private lives of your parents like that.”

“Except, neither of my parents is standing for political office,” Gift countered.

“Be that as it may, the minister has a right to privacy, regardless of his political standing. Now, unless he’s been found guilty of something or is being investigated for one crime or another, that right remains intact,” Mara said. “He has done his duty as a presidential aspirant standing in this year’s election and shared parts of his personal life he feels coincide with his politics, but don’t confuse that to mean am entitlement to everything that goes on in his life.

“It’s a simple story: he was young, he fell in-love, they broke up, she had a child she wanted to protect from media scrutiny so she kept him a secret. And then one day someone sent by the opposition knocked on the door of her Carlifornia home making inquiries into her past, sensing danger, she contacted the father of her child, and here we are today. The end. Two minutes was over three minutes ago. You know your way out.”

Mara was about to show him her back when something… Someone caught her attention. She knew instantly who the woman was the moment she laid eyes on her. She had first seen her pictures in the photos sent to her by the Minister’s PA. She remembered being enamored by the razor sharp penetrating gaze of the woman who appeared to have posed against her wishes for that particular photo. There was something about her eyes that hand enchanted Mara. And she had looked forward to meeting the formidable woman in person.

Miranda Kamanga’s presence in the lobby of EH commanded the attention of everyone. And it wasnt that she was too flashly dressed or appeared out of place. With her purse tucked under her arm, she was dressed in high waisted slightly loose-fitting dark purple formal pants that loosened further down her legs.

She had on a long matching blazer with all its buttons undone covering three-quarters of her derriere. Underneath it was a tight-fitting white blouse with patternered ruffles that stylishly covered her chest. She was a tall woman with an unmistakable figure of an athlete. Every step she took towards the group of three standing by the rรฉception desk echoed with an unrivaled strength and confidence that brought everyone in her line of vision to a stop. Looking away was not an option for any of them. As she drew closer, Miranda took off her huge sunglasses and smiled expectantly at the group.

“Who is she?” An awestruck Carol asked no one in particular.

“That my dear Caroline is the future first Lady of this country,” Mara whispered into the girl’s ear before separating herself from the group to make first contact with her guest.

“Ms Kamanga, it’s so great to finally meet you,” Mara shook the intimidating woman’s hand. She was not surprised by the strength behind the grip. In fact, she would have been gravely disappointed by its absence.

Mara was used to always being the most assertive figure in a room, but standing next to Miranda could make any woman…or man feel like a fly on the wall. It was not as if the woman carried herself with an air of superiority. It was quite the opposite actually. She appeared warm and friendly, even more so when she was smiling. It was the sure way with which she carried herself, the way she moved, the determined steps she took, how she owned every part of her body, her gaze focused on something specific, making her appear completely oblivious to the rest of her surroundings. Especially the gaped looks thrown in her direction. Miranda Kamanga was a dangerously attractive woman. And she knew it.

“And you must be Ms Bwalya,” Miranda said.

“Please, call me Mara. Welcome to Eris-Harmonia.”

“You’re the woman making all the headlines, aren’t you?” Gift had joined them. “My name is Gift Tambatamba,” he offered her his hand which she shook without hesitation, a smile plastered all over her face. “I know who you are Mr Tambatamba,” Miranda said.

Flustered, Gift asked, “You do?”

“Of course,” Miranda said. “I’m ร  huge fan of your paper. I make it a point to know the business of the people who look into my business. How’s your daughter by the way?”

“Daughter?” Both Mara and Gift chorused at once. Mara had had a brief fling with the reporter years back. She needed to get off off her client’s ass. She had not heard of a child then or now. The two of them were Facebook friends. Gift had never shared anything about having a daughter. He was the sort of man who would have no shame posting a video of the child coming out of its mother’s hooha, and then bombarding his feed with images of the child everytime it took a breath. That’s how obsessed with kids Gift was. He had dumped his childhood sweetheart after discovering she had terminated his pregnancy.

“I don’t have a child ma’am,” Gift said.

Unflustered, Miranda simply shrugged her shoulders and said, “Oh, I see. My bad.” Then she turned to Mara, “I’m I too early for our meeting?” She asked.

“Actually, you’re right on time. This way please.” Without saying goodbye to Gift, Mara led the way to the lift and Miranda followed her behind. A few steps away, Miranda stopped and turned to face the man who had not moved an inch from where they had left him standing.

“Mr Tambatamba, ” she said, her voice catching the attention of Mara who also stopped and turned around. Miranda took out a business card from her purse and walked back to the man. “My card,” she said as she handed it to him. “That line goes straight to my PA. Give her a call, and she’ll let you know when you can come through for an exclusive.”

Gift was completely taken aback by the gesture. “I don’t understand,” he said. “Does this mean there really is some secret to tell?”

Miranda smiled. “Do you know any adult who doesn’t have a secret Mr Tambatamba?” She winked at him. “My regards to your daughter.” Before he could respond, she turned and joined Mara in the lift.

“I didn’t know Tambatamba had a daughter,” Mara said the moment the doors of the lift were shut. It was just the two of them inside.

“That’s because he doesn’t,” Miranda said.

“But you-“

Miranda chuckled. “At least now we know what he will be spending half his time on. I have seen what that man can do with too much time on his hands. My son deserves a break from all this nonsense.”

“I think I’m afraid of you Ms. Kamanga,” Mara confessed.

“Unless you’re coming after my son in some way or the other, don’t be.”

The words, though spoken in a mild tone sent shivers down Mara’s spine.

“Ms. Bwalya, we’re here,” Miranda said ร  few seconds later.

For a brief moment, her mind had transported her to a scene where her body was strapped to an electric chair and an angry Miranda had just turned the switch. The elevator doors where starting to close again when she jumped out of her riverie and summoned her senses back to her.

I am sooo screwed. Mara thought as she led Miranda to her office.

4 thoughts on “Sons of Victor – Chapter Fifteen

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