Kelvin closed the door behind him.

She looked up from the proposal she had been perusing. “Is everything all right?” Her brows creased in worry.

Kelvin lowered himself into a chair and heaved. “Mr Philip just called to inform me that ten million had been stolen from the strong room.”

“What!” She gasped. “How come…armed robbers…? Hope nobody was injured. Please talk to me.” She searched his expression, at the edge of her seat.

“Katherine,” He began calmly. “No thief, no matter how masterly and learned he might be, can penetrate SIC except he is working with an insider, not with the security system we possess.”

Her brows narrowed into a frown. “Are you insinuating that somebody from inside did the stealing?”

He nodded.

“Oh my—Oh my God!” She muttered and buried her face in her palms. “This is ridiculous!”

“Can you believe that none of the cameras was able to capture the act?” He expressed bitterly. “I’ve a mind of arresting all members of the control room and technical department.”

Katherine eyes fluttered open and for the first time since she knew him, she saw him angry and knew he was going to do as he had said. “No matter how disappointed and upset you might feel, it’s improper to allow the innocent undergo torture with the guilty.”

“What are you suggesting then?” His eyes flashed.

“Seriously, Kelly, you don’t expect me to give you a suggestion with that tone of yours.”

He exhaled and met her gaze. “Talk to me already.”

She glanced at her wristwatch. “I’ll go address them as soon as you’re ready to go.”

His gaze lingered in consideration. “Another magical talk?”

Katherine chuckled.

When he left her to get his jacket, she went down on her knees and prayed for wisdom.

*-*

“I’d never have believed that my maiden address in the production company would be on theft. I’m sure you’ve friends who work with other organization, we all know it’s with few that SIC finds its match in terms of salary and other employment benefits. I stand to be corrected if I’m wrong.” Her eyes scanned their faces while she waited for an objection. “Since there is none, I start the narration of a true life story. No one tells a story standing, right?”

That said, she sat.

Kelvin uncovered a bottle of water and took sip. He wondered what a story has got to do with theft but for that same reason, he was inquisitive. He sat back and unbuttoned his jacket. He glanced around and saw all eyes were fixed on her.

“There was this poor boy in a public school who couldn’t even afford the two hundred naira tuition fee during a particular term. He was insulted, bullied, ridiculed and so on because of his inability to pay his fee, even some teachers didn’t spare him. Every student had paid save him. He was given a day’s grace by the school management which he obtained after weeping, pleading and prostrating. He got the money eventually.” She beamed and then it was gone. “While everyone was in the assembly, another classmate, in fact the richest in their set, searched his backpack and took the money. It boiled down to the boy searching every nook and cranny for his money, heartbroken. Eventually, a teacher paid for him and boy B spent all of the money gleefully. Hmm.” She mumbled and her brows creased.

“Forty years later, boy B now man B retired honourably from his work and was given a payoff cheque, all in one. You can imagine the amount. Mind you B didn’t steal again after the secondary school incident.

On his way back, he boarded a commercial bus where he was robbed of everything he had on him with the cheque inclusive and was pushed out. He lost consciousness out of shock, his concerned family members took him from one hospital to another, one spiritual home to the other. One spiritualist did reveal to his family members that the misfortune that had befallen the man and them his family was as a result of what he did back in school, the same act of stealing.”

She saw eyes widened and some shook their head. “Can you imagine that? Millions of naira compared to two hundred naira. Boy A never said—e no go better for anybody wey take my money—neither did he go nude, sprinkle sand over his head and say—God punish the person that  took my money.

They couldn’t smile despite the humour because, each individual was thoughtful.

“Forty years later, I repeat forty years later… if that isn’t thought provoking, I wonder what can be.” She exhaled. “Evil always come with an even greater price and it is no respecter of duration.” Her gaze swept their faces.

The production manager exhaled.

“It can be in form of that daughter or son you’ve spent so much on, who has been doing you so proud that he graduated with a first class. Even while he was serving her country, various employment opportunities came and he called to inform you that he was coming home soon so you could guide him to take decision. Then you had retired. You plan a welcome party on the day of her arrival just to be call and be informed a drunken truck driver had lost control of his brakes and had use the vehicle your child was in as a wedge. The child had died instantly.”

Most shuddered.

“This is ten million even if it’s not even going to give SIC a setback.” She shrugged. “SIC is not a creepy company, we are not into drug peddling or human trafficking neither are we into anything illicit. So that money would be all of our sweat.” She chuckled. “I’m not going to say anything more because the message is crystal clear. Mrs Hameenat?” She directed her attention to the chief accountant. “How easy is it for staff to obtain a loan in financial emergencies?”

“Very easy, Miss Sylvester.” The bespectacled woman replied.

Just then the PM eyes met hers. “Sir, it’s a wrap from me, anything you’ll…?”

He stopped her with a wave of hand.

“Mr Sigismund?”

He shook his head.

“This meeting is dismissed, thank you all for your time.” She stood.

The PM and Kelvin stood likewise and they all stood to acknowledge their exit.

Kelvin entered his office with Katherine following him.

He had been silent throughout their journey and she didn’t try to start a conversation.

“I really appreciate what you’ve done, please… I beg you…” He turned to face her. “Don’t take it personal, I need to make a couple of calls, the earlier this matter is handled, the better.” His voice was more of a whisper. He turned to go to his seat.

She had surprised herself when she held him back by the arm. “Sir,” She exhaled. “All I ask is forty eight hours, please.”

For few seconds his gaze locked with hers, he saw something that stilled him, something that was so compelling that he couldn’t refuse, right in her eyes.

He closed his eyes and heaved.

“Please…”

*-*

Katherine entered the office breathless but delighted.  “Can I sit?” She asked but without waiting for his reply, she sat.

Kelvin only smiled as he looked up from his laptop. “What happened, Kathy, you didn’t drop your bag?”

“This news can’t wait.” She moved the swivel seat closer to his desk.

“You know this meeting involves personalities like the DG, ADG or ED representing? You know it was for all companies that are nominees of the BBAA?” Katherine began.

Kelvin nodded and capped his pen.

“In the course of the meeting, the secretary general of the biennial business administration awards told us to give a summary of the changes each of our companies had undergone for the past couple of years. It was impromptu yet I didn’t expect what I witnessed. The meeting was a closed one, just a video recorder. Probably that was the reason while most of them believed it was not important. The first company was called on and its representative spoke for five minutes.” She shook her head.

“In my entire life boss, I have never seen nor heard of what I experienced today. Professionals were blabbing—these were head of notable companies. Most of them even made jokes out of everything they said in so much that an outsider needn’t think twice before considering the meeting an executive comedy show. People that managed top position in companies yet they don’t know the littlest change path their organization had taken for two years.”

“That’s pathetic.” Kelvin said.

“Truth be told, I was almost carried away.” She shook her head. “When SIC was called, I said all I could within five minutes. Guess what…”Her face light up and her eyes shone.

“No, I’m not guessing.” He waved a finger at her.

She chuckled. “Afterwards, the secretary general expressed her disappointment and announced that… that…” She stammered on purpose.

“Come on.” His brows narrowed.

“She announced that come the award evening, SIC will be picking the award as the most dynamic company in Nigeria.”

“Whaat!”

“For real.” Katherine applauded in glee.

“Glory to God.” He raised his hands then closed his eyes briefly. “Wow.” He beamed. “Thank you, Kathy. It is probably a good thing I didn’t go who knows what I would have said with my mood and the situation on ground.”

“Don’t patronize me, sir.” She frowned at him. “This news should be confidential but we need to tell Olaide and Mr Philip.”

Kelvin nodded and speed dialled the ED number. “It’s ringing but he is not picking.”

Katherine glanced at her wristwatch. “He should be back from the TV interview he went for.”

“He is.” He pressed another button. “Anita, look for Olaide, let him come to my office right away.”

“Babe, you too much! Give me high five bo.” Olaide said on hearing Kelvin’s narration.

Katherine obliged him. After the palms collided, she cried out in pain. “You wan break my hand.” She sized him up with her eyes.

The guys burst into laughter.

Just then Kelvin phone rang. “It’s the PM.” He announced before picking and activating loudspeaker. “The money was returned back to the vault, I had to ensure it was genuine before calling.”

Katherine shrieked in delight.

“Oh my God…” Olaide placed his palm over his mouth.

“Was that Katherine…? With all due respect, Kel, I’m not asking for permission, I am just telling you. I am on my way there. Katherine and I are going to my wife’s boutique to pick her dress for the award night. That is the least I can do to thank her for helping take away that feeling of incompetence that had threatened to overwhelm me.”

“You have my permission.”

Katherine glared at Kelvin with feigned annoyance.

Kelvin burst into laughter and Olaide joined him.

*-*

Yerima, one of Nigeria’s youngest pilot read the missive with quaking hands.

He began shake his and tears formed in his eyes. No, she is joking, she is only trying to test me, she can’t be leaving not after three years.

By the time he got to the end of the letter, tears had channelled paths to his neck. He reached for envelope once more and his greatest fear was confirmed. The engagement ring. The one he had shopped for in Paris, the diamond solitaire engagement ring in 14K White Gold.

She had returned it.

He clasped his palm over his mouth and the other clutched his chest as the burning pain surge through his body and rested in his chest. All sweaty, Yekini passed out right there on his high back swivel chair.

The lady he adored and had given him the best three years of his life. The lady who respected God and had helped him get rid of his pride. She had called off their engagement barely two months to their marriage not because she became scared nor had found another man but by divine revelation, she had been warned that her marriage to him would lead to her untimely death.

The death of three members of his family all in one year was an evidence.

*** ~~~ ***

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