Ogechi Nwobia: Hunter’s Game (Episode 1)
Leela stirred in her sleep but didn’t open her eyes. She looked so pretty and peaceful, Uzo was afraid to touch her. He simply lay beside her and stared. A few minutes later, as though she could feel her eyes on him, Leela stirred again and this time she opened her eyes. The room was not very bright as the sun was yet to find its way up but the signs of dawn had already made an entrance.
Leela smiled and stretched a lazy finger to draw a line across Uzo’s face.
Uzo took her finger and kissed it with an easy smile.
“Morning babe. Sleep good?”
Leela nodded and Uzo leaned in and kissed her forehead.
When he drew back, Leela sat up.
“So why were you staring at me like that?”
Uzo laughed nervously.
“Nothing really. I just realize more and more every day just how beautiful you are and how I would absolutely love to wake up to your face every morning.”
“Aww. Aren’t you sweet! But don’t you already wake up to my face every morning?”
Uzo saw the smirk on her face and shook his head.
“I’m being serious Leela.”
She nodded and yawned.
“I need to pee. Gimme a sec.”
He watched her get out of bed and into the bathroom then he reached for his phone to check through his social media. In a short time, she returned from the bathroom and he dropped the phone. She didn’t get back into bed but went to the closet instead and proceeded to bring out some dresses. Uzo looked a little surprised.
She appeared behind a dress she was holding up.
“I thought we were talking about something.”
Her face was instantly apologetic.
“Right! Sorry. I just realized I haven’t figured out what to wear to my meeting this morning.”
“Do you think you and I have a future together?”
Leela walked to his side of the bed and dropped the dress before sitting next to him.
“Sure. It’s all we ever talk about now isn’t it?”
“Yes. But I noticed how you’ve been evasive of the subject lately and I’m a bit worried. Are you having doubts about us?”
Leela smiled and leaned in to kiss him but Uzo placed a hand between them.
“Answer me, Leela. I’m serious.”
She saw the frown on his face and sighed.
“So you won’t let me kiss you. What if that’s where my answer lies?”
“I’d still like to hear it. In words.”
“Okay. I want to be with you. And I don’t think I’ve been evasive. I just get carried away with a lot of other things easily. That’s it. And I’m sorry if you feel that way. But I do love you. A lot.”
Uzo nodded and exhaled.
“You’re not convinced still are you?”
“Well. Maybe some action would be nice right about now.”
Leela laughed and drew him close. She ran her right hand over his brows, traced a line down his nose to his mustache and his lips, then she kissed him fully on the lips. When she pulled back, she said
“Try to not doubt so much babe. Show some faith in us.”
Uzo grinned and got off the bed.
“Preach. I need to go shower.”
Leela picked up the dress she’d been holding earlier
“What do you think though? This one or the other blue one?”
“The blue one. With your white blazer and white shoes. Love it!”
She nodded and walked back to the closet. As soon as Uzo got into the bathroom, she picked up her phone and quickly composed a text.
This is getting a little tougher. We need to talk. Lunch at 12? I miss you…
She pressed the ‘send’ button and stared intently at the screen until a response popped in.
Sure. Miss you too. Jevinik at 12.
Leela smiled and deleted both messages from her phone.
Uzo looked up from his computer when he heard his office door open and shut. Nathan walked in dripping fatigue.
“Guy. Are you alright? Why do you look like you were hit by a truck?”
“Probably because I was.”
He shook Uzo’s hand before sitting across from him.
“I went to cash a cheque that Mira’s dad gave me for the car I was to help him buy and it bounced.”
Uzo’s face transited swiftly to surprise.
“Uzo. I have never been so embarrassed my entire life. I went to the bank with one of the car dealer’s guys so I could cash the cheque and have the funds transferred to their company account. We drove the car together there o. Only for the lady to tell me the cheque bounced. Tried everything, called the man, but nothing. The guy eventually took the car and left.”
“Wow. That is messed up. I’m sorry man. I’d been looking out for you since I came in but I thought you were working out of the office today.”
“I wasn’t o. Just wanted to get the car and have it delivered to him today as he requested but the man really played me.”
“Look, I know this might sound somehow but those people are only messing with you. How can you not see that?”
“I dunno man. Maybe it’s coz I’m madly in love with Mira and when you’re in love, nothing makes sense other than what you want to see.”
“Ha. Tell me about it. I think you should give her some space though. Her family needs to stop making a fool of you and she needs to call them to order.”
“You’re telling me. I sent her a text when I was leaving the bank and I told her I needed some space. She’s been calling me and texting to say she’s sorry since but I’m not answering. I need to clear my head first abeg.”
“Yeah. You should.”
“Anyways, how’s Leela?”
“She’s fine. I thought she’d been a bit weird lately sha. But I realized it was all in my head.”
Nathan raised an eyebrow.
“Weird? How do you mean?”
“Well, I’ve been dropping all these hints about us getting married just to get a vibe of how she feels and she seemed to be getting evasive. So I asked her about it this morning and she said we were cool that she wants to be with me as well. So it’s all good.”
“You’re a bush man. Dropping hints. Because this is treasure island abi? Drop hints for her to pick up and find the treasure.
My guy, better arrange a proper proposal for her and put a ring on it. That’s the only way she’ll take you seriously. Dropping hints indeed. Dey there dey do like learner until person come carry your woman.”
“You’re right though. She probably didn’t think I was serious. That would explain why she was always changing the topic.”
“No kidding. Of course, I’m right. Let me get back to work jor. I’ll see you later.”
Uzo held Leela’s hand as they walked out of the cinema hall. It was almost midnight and he was really tired. Leela didn’t look any better. Uzo could see that she was worn out. As they walked towards the car, he spoke up.
“The movie didn’t seem to help much did it?”
She blinked a few times then smiled.
“Naah. It was alright.”
“I’m sorry babe. I thought it would help cheer you up seeing as you didn’t get the role for that advertising gig.”
“It’s fine. I appreciate your trying to help. I’ll snap out of it.”
But even on the drive back home, Leela’s mood did not improve. She kept her eyes trained on the window the entire time and her silence bothered Uzo. He didn’t make any comment, however. He just continued driving.
Gbemiga’s words kept echoing in Leela’s ears as she stared out through the window.
“You’re getting emotional about him. And I can sense it. And you’re being selfish too…”
How was she even supposed to start explaining things or even sorting them out? And how dare he call her selfish? She wasn’t sure which upset her more. Being called selfish or unnecessarily emotional. She sighed as she recalled his warning to her.
“I sense that something is about to go down. You better be careful and not drop your guard.”
She was exhausted but she had to tell herself the truth. She needed to keep it all together. Suffering an emotional breakdown at this point would not help her or anyone else for that matter. It was the last thing she needed.
She sighed and turned to face Uzo who had been casting her side glances without a word.
“Thanks for tonight Uzo. I really appreciate it.”
Uzo smiled and rubbed her arm, keeping his eyes on the road.
“Anytime love. I’m here for you always.”
They had just negotiated the turn into his street and Leela smiled to herself at what she considered to be the irony of his statement. As they pulled up in front of the house, Leela immediately noticed that something was off. There was a rolled up rug lying just in front of the house.
Uzo noticed it too and frowned.
“Who dumped this thing here?”
He stopped the car about a hundred feet from where the rug lay, left the engine running and came down. Leela followed him, eyes immediately scanning her surroundings. Uzo kicked the rug and looked around. Leela stooped down to tap the rug.
“Is this some sort of joke?” Uzo asked.
Leela didn’t respond but proceeded to unfold the rug.
“Babe, what are you doing?” Uzo asked.
Leela didn’t answer him. Her heart thumped a little faster in her chest as she felt something uneasy creep up her spine.
Uzo joined her just as she got to the end of it and what they saw had them frozen to the spot.
“What tha hell?!!!”
Uzo found himself looking down on the bloodied body of a young man who had obviously been shot a few times.
Leela’s scream however overshadowed every expression or feeling that he might have been overcome with at that point. There was something in the way she shrieked, piercing the darkness with the sound and tearing at his soul. Later, Uzo would come to realize that it was a mixture of deep pain and shock. But in that time, he thought it was the shock of seeing a dead body lying in front of the house.
Uzo moved to hold her but she went into a fit, running into the car and grabbing for her purse. Uzo ran after her. And it was a good thing he did because moments later, the gate swung open and gunshots rang out from inside his compound.
Uzo could not believe what was going on. Leela jumped into the car and pulled out a gun from her purse, firing back at the intruder and yelling at Uzo to drive. He was dumbstruck and could barely move. But between her yelling for him to move the car and the gunshots that kept ringing, Uzo managed to find a way to move the car and speed right out of his street, out of the estate and unto the main road.
Leela was shaking and crying as she lowered the gun to the floor of the car. All she could see in that moment was Gbemiga’s lifeless body lying in front of the house.
Welcome to Hunter’s Game. See you next week.
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