“Katherine, news just reached me that ten thousand naira is missing from the managing director’s office and that you are also the last person to enter his office. What can you say about that?” Kelvin asked, sipped from his mug of water.
“What I can say about being the last person to enter his office that I don’t know of.” She met his gaze. “All I know is that he asked me to drop a file in his office, so I dropped it on the desk and left.”
“How about the ten thousand?” Kelvin focused striking eyes on her.
Katherine gave a short laugh. “How am I supposed to know as I walked in, dropped the file on his desk and left?” She couldn’t help the sarcasm in her voice.
His voice was calm. “You can confide in me, you can tell me about it. This act can mar all I cherish about you. I beg you to confide in me before it’s too late.”
“This is ridiculous.” Katherine shook her head in disbelief and in a bid to keep calm. “Katherine Sylvester is not desperate; even if I am, ten thousand cannot calm my desperation, talk more of solving it.”
“I don’t think you understand the extent of this allegation, Katherine. You’re the chief suspect.” He entwined his palms on his desk.
Katherine closed her eyes and expelled a breath. “With all due respect, sir, I can’t sit through this conversation anymore.” She stood. “I’ll implore you to go ahead to do whatever is in the company’s constitution for such offense. Excuse me.” She left.
He glared at the closed door not believing what he just heard. Was she void of emotions? How could she be so calm? She had even encouraged him to take drastic measures. He massaged his brows knowing he was in a fix. Everyone was watching, most unhappy about his decision that uplifted her despite the fact none had dare confront him.
Propelled, he glanced at the framed photograph of his father hung and that of Jesus with opened arms.
“Holy spirit divine, guide me on his issue. I need wisdom, do help me.” He closed his eyes
She was writing on a note pad when he came in from his office to hers. She didn’t look up though she sensed his presence.
He stood at the back of one of the chairs. “Katherine, I am sorry about accusing you yesterday, the MD just called me that he found the money.”
She nodded, halting her pen.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?”
Katherine shook her head and continued writing once more.
How unnerving and powerless she did made him feel, no one had left him so confused.
He strode out, she had been his secretary for three months since Precious became an executary and left for her office yet he could tell her personality. He knew there was mysterious aura about her but the more he tried to find out, the more withdrawn she became.
The MD called wanting to speak to the director general exactly two weeks after she was accused of theft and three hours after she had gone to his office to drop a report.
She transferred the call but didn’t drop the phone. There had been another theft and she was a suspect.
When the call ended, she gave a mirthless laughter. Then for ten minutes, she tapped her feet as she waited for her boss to take his decision. By the time he summoned her to his office, she was furious.
Katherine entered his office.
“Kat…” He was interrupted.
“I know what you are going to say, there has been yet another theft and I’m a suspect.” She narrowed her brows.
He glared at her.
“I am sick and tired of all these. I have never being so humiliated and insulted all my life! What have I done so wrong? Who have I offended that I can’t even get a breathing space? I sincerely can’t take this anymore.” She expressed, breathless. “I can’t work in a place where I can’t have peace of mind, where everybody including my boss doesn’t trust me.” She exhaled. “You can call the police, torture me or whatever but I won’t sit through another interrogation.”
He had sat back and watched her, seen a rare part of her. She had let go cautious self and he had seen the sparkles in her eyes though it was of anger. “When you rage, there a unique beauty that radiates on your face.”
Caught unawares, she paled like she had been electrocuted before bustling out of the office.
Was it tears he had seen? He sighed before he allowed his chair rock in deep thought. He was going to get to bottom of the whole mystery before he lost his efficient secretary.
Katherine slammed the rest room door and tears coursed down her cheeks. “God—why can’t I have peace? Why?” She sneezed twice and her nose began to weep.
Kelvin came out to head for the MD’s office but Katherine was nowhere in sight.
He felt a slight headache as he approached the elevator.
When he came in, Katherine’s head was on her desk.
He knew nothing he would say would make the situation better. Besides, he didn’t know what mood she was in and was not a specialist in mood management. So he headed for his office with a suspect in mind and a plan.
For the rest of that Friday, she couldn’t eat nor do anything, she just wept till she was sore and drifted to sleep. Thankfully the next day was a work free day since she had woke up from the edge of the bed with frontal headache, cracked voice and swollen eyes.
The conference room was the smallest they had in the company, despite the fact that the DG, executive director, head of every departments, MD, executary and five other secretaries were present with Katherine inclusive, there were few seats unoccupied.
“Precious, could you please exchange seat with Katherine?”
Silence prevailed after they were seated.
“I welcome you all to this meeting that is the first of its kind and would be the last hopefully.” His eyes swept their faces. “The matter at hand is that of the incident of the missing money.” He paused and looked at the MD. “I am not going to blame Mr Oderinlo for keeping such amount of money in office because I see no reason why money can’t be safe in the privacy of our offices.”
She braced herself for the worst.
“I don’t want and won’t tolerate theft in my company.” He frowned as he directed his gaze to Yemisi. “Yemisi what do you know about the cases of missing money?”
She flinched as they all directed their attention to her.
“I—I don’t know anything about it, sir.”
“What relationship did you have with Patrick, our former account director?”
“The AD-secretary relationship.” Her voice was calm.
“Nothing more, sir.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, sir.” She nodded before the reply.
The conference room was becoming like a court session and that got everyone alert.
“Good, but I’m sure you can give the needed confession.” He smiled.
“Confession?” Flummoxed, her eyes widened. “What confession?”
“The missing money, the relationship you have with Patrick Sunday.” He placed his palms on the table.
Katherine’s eyes were fixed on Yemisi.
“With all due respect, sir, I don’t understand what you are talking about.”
With a smile lingering on his lips, his gaze probed hers. “I like you because you are a good game player. Unfortunately, you play the game as it comes without acknowledging the rules. He glanced around. “Those that are good game players can bare me witness that your skills and experience in a game might be insignificant in another.”
Most nodded, including Precious.
“I am afraid, girl, your method of playing is not going to help you one bit.”
“Please, sir, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Yemisi was close to tears.
“I can also bet you wouldn’t until the torturing by the members of the police force begin.” His voice was icy.
Glances were exchanged but nothing was said.
She opened palms in plea. “Sir, I swear—I haven’t done anything.”
Some of the ladies present were touched but who dared to challenge the DG.
“I hate lies, Yemisi. You understand me I—hate -lies!” He shot to his feet upset. “You alone know what is good for you, one more lie from that mouth of yours and you will be receiving it hot. On your feet!”
All of them were flabbergasted, before them was a part of their boss they never knew existed.
Yemisi scrambled to her feet, trembling.
“You have been sleeping with Patrick.”
“No—no sir.” Heat crept up to her neck. A glance at him and the threat his face held made her rethink. “Yes sir.”
Jaws dropped. But them some weren’t taken aback.
“For how long?”
She clasped a palm over her mouth and tears rolled down her cheeks. “Em—I can’t remember.”
Katherine just watched the drama unfold with a blank expression.
“Why did you have an objection when I told you to address the termination of appointment letter to Patrick and why the rudeness to Katherine?”
“Objection? I agreed—with… em…” She swiped cold palms against her skirt. “I saw Katherine as a threat and I didn’t like her.” She blurted.
Precious rolled her eyes.
He glanced at Katherine but the expression on her face remained. “What threat? Should be my next question but I know the answer. Since you have an affair and the need to plan a meeting venue must be the reason Patrick calls at most three times on daily basis.”
His statement charged through her like a volt of electricity, her jaw dropped and she stared.
“Yemisi, do I need to repeat myself?”
“Em—I—I…” She stammered swinging her hands as though she had dipped them in hot water.
“I am going to help you.” He smiled and lowered himself to his seat. “Is it because he wanted to know what is going on and how to get back at his enemies or both of your enemies?”
Yemisi shook her head.
“I can play a couple of recorded phone conversations.”
“It is true.”
“Which is true?”
“Everything is true.”
“Splendid!” He exclaimed gleefully. “To the missing money, is there is a link between the two cases?”
“You did the stealing?”
“What!” The MD gasped and glanced at Katherine, whose head was lowered.
“Why did you return the first money?”
“So that everyone will think the accused repented.”
“And the second?”
“To put her into trouble.”
“Jesus Christ, Yemisi, what are you thinking? To put an innocent into trouble!” The MD leapt to his feet.
“Calm down, MD. I am going to give you time. Don’t you want your money back?”
That seems to douse his anger as he settled back into his seat.
“How about the fifty thousand?”
“I gave it to Mr Patrick yesterday.”
“Huh!” He was surprised for the first time that day.
“Madam, what is your share in it?” The executive director just a couple of years older than Kelvin said with a voice laced with sarcasm.
‘This meeting is recorded for future reference and punishment to those who have the guts to repeat this kind of thing. The technical department have been wonderful in trashing out this issue.” His gaze swept over them. “The same way Yemisi was fished out is the same way those perpetuating evil will be fished out but then, the consequence will be grave.” He stood. “Precious go out and usher the police in.”
Yemisi burst into tears and slumped to her knees. “I am sorry, sir—please—I am sorry everyone. Please help me beg the boss.”
“Channel your apology first to Katherine. For once, I permit you to spread the word, the consequence of theft is grave.” He took his leave after the three police officers led her away.
They began to leave, one after the other.
The MD stood beside her seat. “The one thing I don’t appreciate in life is false accusation. I am sorry for doing that to you.”
“Please, I’m sorry.” He apologized once more before leaving.
Precious placed both hands around her shoulder while she stood behind her. “Katherine, it’s better the truth has prevailed and it’s better people have a different perceptive about you and it’s better you’re not suffering for what you did not do. I trust everything to be fine once more.”
“Thank you.” She smiled up at her.
Precious squeezed her shoulder before leaving.
Katherine folded her arms and stared into space. Life was so unpredictable. One could never what extent another would go to bring another down.
She blinked back to reality and felt her neck; it was warm and sweaty despite the air conditioning.
She stepped out of the elevator and lurched. Her vision blurred and she held onto the rail. She waited with eyes closed and took in deep breaths.
Katherine knocked on the door.
Kelvin watched her approach, still attending to the call on his mobile phone. “That was a huge step… when everything is set, I will come….” He laughed and gestured for her sit. “Okay… of course. Bye.”
“Yes, Katherine?” He sat up.
“I have something to tell you, sir.”
“Do I owe you an apology?” He felt a tinge of guilt at the way she had paled.
“No, sir, I am rather grateful for your expertise.”
“I don’t feel well. Please may I take the rest of the day off?”
He did see it. “Is staying off going to make you better or you go to the clinic?”
“No to your latter question.”
“Okay then, give me your mobile number so I can call you later.”
“I don’t have one, sir.”
He blinked in quick successions in disbelief but something about her facial expression told him she was serious besides he couldn’t remember seeing her fiddling with any.
He shrugged. “I really need to call for I don’t like your present state. I would have rather you see a doctor.”
Katherine shook her head.
“I have to do something else then.” He pulled out one of the drawers and brought out a SIM card. “I haven’t used this nor give the number out.” He picked the phone on the table, removed its SIM and replaced it without a glance at Katherine, whose brows were raised.
“Sir, you don’t have to do all that, giving me your permission is enough.”
He looked at the screen of the phone as it came on. ‘This is not going to be another conference session, Katherine. I won’t take an objection.”
She pouted her lips even as she collected the phone and Kelvin almost asked her if she was the last child. He chuckled instead.
He saw her off to the door. “Do I ask one of the drivers to take you home?”
She shook her head.
“You’re being overly dramatic; in a way I contributed to whatever health challenge you are experiencing. After all, I accused you directly.”
“You did what you should have done.”
He stepped ahead and opened the door. “I’ll talk to you later and I need you to know that never for once did my trust in you dwindle.”
Kelvin closed the door after her and was glad he was able to get a smile from her.
When she got to the gate, Abbey had seen her countenance and knew she was under the weather. The news had spread fast.
He hailed a cab for her and paid despite her objection.