She remained rooted to the spot. Though she had prayed that Masai is found soon, she was not sure how to react now that her prayer appeared to have been answered. In this unsettling moment, the smile on her face would change into a frown and curve into a smile again, all the while telling herself that Masai was okay. Or was he? She hadn’t asked James where his friend saw Masai and the state he was in but her gut told her he was okay. Ordinary, him being okay would be a good thing, but not if it meant his leaving was intended. That he had decided he wanted nothing to do with her or their baby, and so he was distancing himself from them both. James called again and she hesitated before answering. She hesitated because she was not sure which questions to ask and what answers James would give. A part of her was still holding on to the belief that Masai’s leaving wasn’t deliberate and that something, one which she wouldn’t stomach, might have happened to him. But she was the one who had silently accused James and the two officers of doing nothing to find Masai, so the least she could do was answer her phone.
“Good morning, Amara. Now before you panic, I am glad to confirm that Masai, if it’s indeed him that my friend saw, is okay.”
A wave of relief swept right across Amara. Still holding the phone to her ear, she walked into the living room and patched herself on the edge of the couch.
“Where was he? Where did your friend see him?”
“Balozi Hotel. Steve says he has seen him leaving the hotel on two different days. He believes he is staying or hiding there.”
Balozi hotel was located on the outskirts of the city, almost an hour’s drive from the CBD. Amara had never been there before, but from what she had heard, only moneyed people and musicians wanting to use the hotel’s beautiful garden to shoot their music videos frequented the place. In fact, even though no one remembered what it was called before, it was said that the hotel was renamed Balozi because foreign dignitaries loved it there due to the quietness and sacredness the hotel commanded. So it came as a surprise to Amara that Masai could afford to stay in such a hotel, even though he had repeatedly shown that money to him wasn’t a problem. She suspected either Steve, whom she assumed was the friend James was talking about, had mistaken someone else for Masai, or that Masai was making his money through some illicit trade.
James said, “So if it turns out that he is staying in Balozi, we can go and see him there if you want.”
“But how will know for sure that he is staying there?”
“The hotel’s security guards work for Steve’s security firm. Other than that, Steve’s office window overlooks the hotel so it should be easy.”
“What do we do now?”
“I understand you must be anxious right now. How about I pick you up and then we can go chill at Steve’s office as we wait?”
Amara agreed it was a brilliant idea to go and wait at Steve’s office. After her shower, she found herself looking for the best outfit in her wardrobe because subconsciously, she wanted to look gorgeous for when she saw Masai again, almost as if to remind him of what he was taking for granted—and no other outfit, other than the grey striped rib dress she picked, would communicate this message better. She especially loved how the dress’ soft linen caressed her skin, and how the dress curved with her hips and ass. She twirled in front of the mirror to make sure the dress was a perfect fit and when she opened the door for James, she saw in his eyes the affirmation that, yes, it was a perfect fit. He couldn’t get his eyes off her even as she led him to the chair, asking if she could offer him anything.
“Water will be fine,” he said with a smile.
She brought him a glass of water and before he drank it in one gulp, he said, “That man must be stupid or insane if this is what he is running away from,” while gesturing at her body.
When Amara saw Steve, she tried to recall where she had seen him before and when she couldn’t wrap her head around it, she asked him.
“It must have been on TV,” he said.
He was a regular guest on the main TV channels, appearing as a security analyst. Amara would later find out that he was a former military man who quit to start his own security firm. He looked like he was in his late 30’s and Amara outrightly loved his contagious smile. His office was large and carpeted. A black leather couch sat on one end with a small glass table before it, a bottle of scotch and a set of glasses resting on the table. Behind his desk was a large curved window overlooking a busy highway and Balozi hotel’s entrance. On his desk, other than a MacBook Pro, was a large portrait photo of a woman Amara assumed was his wife, and two beautiful young girls she assumed were his daughters. The older girl in the photo had her father’s smile while the younger one looked distracted, almost as if she had wanted to be somewhere else when the photo was taken. For a long time, Amara couldn’t stop staring at the photo because it reminded her of what she and Masai would have if he stopped playing whatever game he was playing.
“Do you guys care for a drink, albeit 11 in the morning?” asked Steve as they sat down. James said he didn’t mind but Amara requested for a soft drink. Steve called the reception and a few minutes later, a slim young guy, the office messenger, showed up with his arms behind his back. It was evident from the way he stood before Steve that the young guy feared and respected him, and it wasn’t difficult to find out why because even Amara felt she was in the presence of greatness.
“Amara,” Steve called out her name suddenly, “I wish my wife was here. She would worship on your feet.”
Amara had not expected this and so she stammered as she asked, “S-she listens to my show?”
“She would be damned if she missed it. At first, she was worried you wouldn’t fit into Achika’s shoes but she was surprised with how good you are on air.”
There was a brief silence before Steve casually asked if she had any idea why Masai left the way he did. Amara contemplated the question for a while and then crossing her legs, said, “I wish I knew. If he had told me, I wouldn’t be seated here waiting for him to show up at his hideout as if he is some kind of a terrorist or something.”
“You don’t think he is involved in some illegal business, do you?”
“No,” Amara replied, rather defensively, mostly because she was now convinced Masai was involved in something illegal. But until she found out what it was, she wasn’t going to throw him under the bus.
The wait continued. Amara watched the clock tick and she was worried the sun would set and Masai would still not have shown up. If it wasn’t for the fact that she was in someone else’s office, she would have paced the room because she always found it difficult to sit still when nervous. Steve ordered lunch for the three of them but she barely touched her chicken drumsticks and fries. She stared at her food as if trying to guess their recipe. Then what she had feared all along happened when the sun began to set without any sign of Masai showing up. She was afraid the gentlemen would get tired and decide to ‘abolish’ the mission so she stood and walked to the window, staring hard at the hotel’s entrance. A yellow taxi caught her attention. It packed outside the hotel’s gate and then to her surprise, someone resembling Masai stepped out of it. She couldn’t outrightly make out whether it was him because he was in clothes she had never seen him with before and was also wearing a cap. A black cap. But as if God was working in her favor, he turned to look around and she saw it was him.
“It’s him,” she screamed in excitement, pointing at his direction. But her excitement was shortlived because a lady in a brief black dress stepped out from the other side of the taxi and Masai took her hand to his and walked with her through the gate.
Before Steve could reaffirm that it was indeed the same guy he saw, Amara was already outside the door, leaving her handbag behind. Half running half walking, she did not stop to look left or right before crossing the road, she simply sprinted across it, turning furious drivers into serial cursers and hooters. James and Steve were not far behind, but by the time they were catching up with her, she was shoving and pushing the security guard who was refusing to let her in. The security guard retreated when Steve showed up and said she was with them. At the reception, the receptionist, who was in what looked like a pilot’s uniform, looked at Amara as if she was speaking in a foreign language when Amara demanded to know where “The stupid gentleman who just walked in in the company of a lady was.”
“I neither have the time nor the patience to excuse people, just tell me where that idiot is. Which room is he in?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about and please watch your language.”
Amara rapidly tapped at the curved reception counter with her open palms, shaking her head while at it. Steve approached the receptionist and told her it was important she told them where the gentleman, whose name was Masai, was. The receptionist recognized Steve because he had been there several times. She also knew the security guards manning the hotel were from his company so she was polite when talking to him.
“You know it’s against the rules to give out room details of our guests to strangers, sir. I could lose my job.”
“I don’t care if you will be fired or deported, just . . . ” Amara started but Steve cut her short.
“No, you won’t lose your job, trust me. Secondly, this is not a stranger, at least not to Masai, she is his wife. He has been missing for a while that’s why she is a little bit angry.”
“Please, just tell us the room he is in and we promise we will cause no trouble.”
The receptionist told them he was in fourth flour, room 14D. As Steve and James thanked him, Amara sprinted through the large wooden staircases. James followed her and when they were on the fourth floor, she stopped and told James to give her space. “I want to talk to him alone.”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
“Trust me, I won’t cause any trouble. Plus you can hang around the hallway just in case.”
After knocking on the door, Amara waited for what seemed like centuries for the door to open. It was the longest she had ever waited for anything and as the door creaked open, she almost screamed at the face of Masai only it wasn’t him who opened. It was the lady. She had shed off her clothes and the only thing covering her nakedness was the white towel tied around her chest. She smiled at Amara even though Amara’s expression was that of someone ready to commit murder. Before saying anything, Amara looked away first and when she looked back at her, asked, in a strangely calm voice, “Is Masai in? I would love to speak with him.”
“I know you heard me, please don’t make me repeat myself.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” She spoke with an American accent, one which Amara wasn’t sure whether it was real or acquired. So her words came out as ‘I dunno wharr yu talking about.” If it wasn’t for the fact that she was trying not to start chaos, no less in Balozi Hotel where she was sure Paparazzis and journalists were looming around, waiting to hear which ambassador will say what, she would have slapped the stupid accent out of her mouth. But she didn’t have to because Masai showed up. Amara was taken aback by the disregard written all over his face, it was like he had never seen her before. He was shirtless. She watched him wrap his arms around the lady’s waist and then with his head resting on her shoulder, asked, “Sweetheart, what’s going on here?”
“I dunno, this crazy woman insists that she wants to see Masai who she is sure is in here, and am gerring tired of reminding her,” she cast Amara a disgusted look, “That I dunno any fucking Masai.”
Masai laughed. A laughter that confused Amara because she wasn’t sure what was funny about this situation. That he was pretending not to recognize her? Or that he had his arms unashamedly around another woman’s waist as if he had suddenly forgotten that she, Amara, was carrying his baby? The little patience she was holding onto was fading off and she wrapped her arms around her chest and with a defeated voice, said, “Masai, you mean to—”
Masai held his finger up and pulling the lady in his arms inside, whispered,” “I agree with you, this bitch is crazy,” and then slammed the door shut. To her face.
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