Read Chapter L here.
“You should have seen her face, Esi. Pure horror. I never felt such satisfaction from someone else’s panic before,” Nhyira said and bit into his shawarma.
“I’m sad I missed the show. I’d have loved to rub it in,” Kukuaa said.
“Don’t worry; your time will come. I leave her into your capable mischievous hands. She’s all yours to play with.”
“Thanks, brother. It’s the best pre-wedding gift one could ever give to me.”
“Does mum know about it?” Esi asked them.
“Nope. Dad was amused about it. I don’t know if he has told mum yet.”
“Do you think she’ll okay this move?”
“I hope she will. Because she’s not in, we’d have to drop it sooner or later. We need her blessing on this.”
“I’ll talk to her,” Nhyira told his sisters. He raised his glass of juice.
“To tying of loose ends.” Their glasses clinked. “To tying of loose ends.”
“And the end of Constance’s tyranny.”
Fiifi and Bisi entered the house. They had returned from a dinner with one of Fiifi’s foreign associates who was in the city for a few days.
“Where are my babies?” Bisi called out.
“We’re in the kitchen, mum!” Esi replied. Bisi’s eyes widened when she saw what they were eating.
“Why, you didn’t cook dinner?”
“Nah, since you and dad were eating out, we thought we’d spoil ourselves a little.”
“Uh huh, such a nice way of saying you were feeling lazy to cook. It smells good though.”
“Want to taste?” Nhyira said, offering his to her. She leaned forward and took a bite. She gave him a thumbs up. Fiifi walked in.
“I guess tonight is for eating out.”
“There’s pizza in the fridge.”
“I see. Now that everyone is here, I think it’s the right time for me to break the news to your mum. Honey, it seems we’d be going to court soon.”
“What? Why?” Bisi asked, alarmed.
“It’s nothing to be worried about, mum,” Kuks said.
“We’ll talk about it,” Nhyira said. Bisi looked at all them suspiciously.
“Are we being sued for something?”
“Oh no. We are doing the suing.”
“To who and why?”
“Let’s go upstairs and get you out of your heels, honey. I’ll fill you in,” Fiifi said, putting his arm around her waist and turning her around. He gave them a wink and led her out of the kitchen.
They all giggled.
“So you have a co-counsel on this?” Esi asked her sister.
“Oh sure, the very best.”
“And who’s paying him?”
“Oh don’t worry. It’s a favor.”
“Really? I didn’t know lawyers took on cases as favors.”
“It’s dad’s lawyer. I’m sure if the verdict goes in our favor, dad will reward him handsomely. But for now, he just wants to help me set the stage in the courtroom.”
“I so don’t want to be in Constance’s shoes.”
“Oh you don’t, honey. It’s my aim to make her cry on the stand.”
“That’s my sis!” Nhyira said, giving her a hi-five. Esi shook her head, sipping her juice.
The following day, Nhyira entered the kitchen to find Bisi busily searching for something in the fridge.
“Good morning, mum. What are you looking for?”
“Chocolate. I remember seeing some here two days ago. Where did it go? I don’t think you guys could have finished it this fast. It was a gift for crying out loud!” Nhyira chuckled.
“Come on mum, you know chocolate doesn’t last long in this house. Let me get it for you.” He pulled it out of the corner.
“How did it…?”
“We all have to guard our chocolate in this house. Dad taught me the trick.”
“Huh, I see. Thanks.” He closed the refrigerator door. He watched her unwrap the chocolate bar and take a bite. She moaned.
“I needed a chocolate fix.”
“I can see that. Mum, can you spare a minute to talk?” She nodded and pulled a chair to sit down. He did same.
“I’m sure dad told you what I did last night. I half expected you to burst into my room with questions.”
“I thought of it but I decided to sleep on it. I just don’t understand why you’d turn against her like that.”
“You know why Constance was so sure that I was poisoned? It’s because she did it. She laced my drink when I passed by that day knowing very well I was coming home to have dinner with you. I know that because I tasted something funny but I didn’t think much of it. But I’m sure of it now. I even confronted her after I was discharged and she couldn’t deny it. That is criminal, mum. She almost killed me and she wanted to frame you for it. She needs to pay for that.”
“I understand. I’ve been through hell with her in my life and I wish I could have her locked up if that could guarantee me peace but this court thing doesn’t put me at ease either.”
Nhyira took his mother’s hands in his and squeezed them.
“I understand your uneasiness, mum but you deserve justice for all the harm she has caused you. If I hadn’t woken up the moment I did, who knows if you’d still be behind bars? Your reputation, everything that mattered to you was at risk. I just want her to learn this lesson: not to mess with the Pratts,” he explained. She smiled at his last statement.
“Let me guess, Kukuaa proposed the idea.”
“No, I did. And I know she’ll have a field day grilling the flesh of Constance.”
“Yeah, I’m sure of that.”
“So I have your blessing to proceed?”
“If you want to do this because of the harm she caused you, that’s fine. But for me, I’d rather not see her face again be it in a court room, at the mall, anywhere at all.”
“I know; I feel the same way and that is why I’m doing this.” Bisi sighed and touched his face.
“If you want to go ahead with this, that’s fine,” Bisi said with a smile.
Bisi made her way towards Kukuaa’s room and knocked on her door. She entered to find her listening to something as she jotted down notes.
“What are you listening to?” She asked, sitting on her bed.
“A podcast.” She paused it and took off the Beats headphones and put it down.
“Kuks, I want to talk with you.”
“Oh no, you’re not going to shut the Constance thingy down, are you? Please mum, this is the best pre-wedding gift I could ever have! Don’t take it away from me, please,” she pleaded.
“I know Constance has had it coming ever since she set her eyes on this family. But I don’t want to spend the next weeks of my life visiting courtrooms and siting on docks having to relive every hardship she has put me through.”
“This is for you, mum. For attempting to put you behind bars…that was the last straw.”
“It was. I appreciate why you want to do this, Kuks; I do. But I don’t want to spend the last few weeks I could have with you as my daughter prepping for testimonies before you moved to your husband’s house.”
“But you’re the lawyer. If you believe you can win this case and keep that woman away from me and this family, then so be it.”
“Thanks, mum.” They hugged.
“You’ve suffered enough, mum. She must be kept far away from us.”
The family had breakfast together like old times, chatting and teasing each other. Bisi was informing the family about a moderator gig she had been offered at a corporate women’s seminar when Kukuaa’s phone rang.
“Hello. Yeah, this is she. May I know who I’m speaking to, please?” She listened.
“Oh hello. Oh I see. I’ll relay the information to my client and get back to you. Thank you. Bye.” She ended the call. She looked up to see all eyes glued at her. She burst out laughing.
“You have another case you’re working on?” Nhyira asked. She shook her head as she kept on laughing.
“That was Constance’s lawyer.”
“What did he want?” Bisi asked, sitting up straight.
“They want to meet us to discuss an out-of-court settlement.”
“Wow…she really must have a phobia for the courtroom,” Fiifi said, amused.
“Maybe you should take it,” Bisi said. All eyes turned on her.
“I mean, you should hear her out. The sooner this is behind us, the sooner I get to breathe freely around here.”
“What do you say, that we make her sweat a little?” Kukuaa asked her brother.
“I’m all in for a little sweating.” A hi-five was shared.
Bisi glanced at Fiifi who shrugged. She sighed as she rubbed her forehead.
“What did she say?” Constance asked anxiously when her attorney ended the call.
“She said her client has a busy schedule and a meet can only be possible not later than Wednesday,” he informed her.
“What, Wednesday? Is he kidding me? How busy is he? Whenever I called him, he came right by! What at all is he doing?” She asked.
“If you’ve such cordial ties with him, why don’t you call him?”
“You don’t you think I’ve tried? He stopped picking my calls and even now, it looks like he has blocked my number. It was Kukuaa, right?”
“Yeah, Fiifi Pratt’s daughter. I don’t know why you thought it was funny to mess with that man’s family in the first place.”
“We have history.”
“I know and from the look of things, you’re on the wrong side of that history.”
“Hey, whose side are you on?”
“Yours fully till I get my first payment.”
“Cash is a little tight right now. Why do you think I want this settled out of court?”
“You better pray this meet goes in our favor or else you get ready for some tough court days and payment plans. I’ll let you know when the meeting is confirmed.”
“If it doesn’t go well, I have one last card to play. It involves some humiliating groveling but when push gets to shove, I’d have to do it. I’ll be on my way,” Constance said and left the office.
Constance kept hitting the surface of the table with her perfectly manicured and bright red-colored nails. She looked at her watch for the sixth time in five minutes. Where the hell were they? She couldn’t afford to pay attorney fees which would be unproductive. The hour was quickly running out.
“Maybe you should call again.”
“Calm down. They are going to be here. It’s all part of the game.”
“Are they going to pay for the lost hour?” He gave her a grim look. Kukuaa and Nhyira walked into the conference room.
“We apologize for running late. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.” They pulled chairs to sit down.
“Is that all you’re going to say? No explanation to why you kept us waiting? You couldn’t take a minute to consider I’m old enough to be your mother?” Constance ranted. Her attorney touched her hand to signal her to calm down. Nhyira sat down.
“If you’re indeed old enough to be my mother, then you should have been more mature in handling your issues than trying to poison your own son, don’t you think?” Kukuaa replied with a hot glare.
“Hey…” The attorney stopped Constance again.
“Kindly advise your client to compose herself or else my client and I will leave,” Kukuaa said.
“Of course. Can you please sit down and let’s get down to business?” Kukuaa sat.
“So you made me understand that you have an offer to make?”
“Yeah, my client isn’t comfortable with this case going to trial and would like to suggest an out-of-court settlement.”
“She looks pretty comfortable to me,” Nhyira said.
“Nhyira, please don’t do this. I am your mother…”
“No, you’re not. My mother is at work right now, serving the country and not plotting to poison me. Don’t ever call me that again,” Nhyira warned.
“Okay, let’s hear it. What are you putting on the table?” The attorney glanced at Constance who gave him a nod. He scribbled something on a notepad, turned it over and slid it slowly towards Kukuaa. Kukuaa took a nonchalant look at it and blinked. She stared at it again and chuckled. She slid it towards Nhyira who also took a look at it. He glanced at Kukuaa and then at the Constance and her attorney.
“Is this a joke?” Nhyira asked.
“What do you mean?” Constance asked.
“I almost died at the hospital and this is what you offer to compensate me?”
“Listen, this hasn’t been proven…”
“If you want to proof, then let’s end this charade and prep for trial. You’ll get your proof. You can’t waste my precious, profitable time just for a measly offer like this,” Kukuaa said.
“I know this is nothing for you two but it’s all I have. Just accept it and let’s move on,” Constance said.
“I’m not sure your client sees the seriousness of this case. You’re the one not ‘comfortable’ with this case going to trial. If you really mean it, you better correct that figure.”
The attorney leaned toward Constance and whispered something to which she scowled.
Nhyira slid the notepad to the attorney on which he scribbled something. He slid it back to Kukuaa. She bit on her lower lip to stop herself from laughing again and passed it to her brother.
“I don’t mean to sound vain but I think my cheapest tux costs more than that,” Nhyira said.
“How much does your handbag cost, Kuks?” Nhyira asked. Kukuaa only smiled.
“We get it. You two are filthy rich. No need to rub it in my face. You think this is easy for me? I have to pay this attorney for this time. Please be considerate.”
“Were you considerate when you charged my mother for something you did?” Nhyira asked.
“What do you want me to do? Confess my sins on national TV?”
“That wouldn’t even be enough,” Kukuaa said.
“Is there any way we can come to a compromise on this?” the attorney this.
“This settlement idea is enough compromise for my client. And unfortunately, this miserable figure isn’t going to cut it.”
“So what do we do?” Constance asked.
“We go to trial. You’ve wasted our time long enough,” Kukuaa said, getting up. Nhyira also stood.
“Come on, I know you’re trying to punish me for all the trouble I’ve caused. Isn’t my word that I would disappear from your lives forever not good enough?”
“Your word is a load of crap if you ask me. I need to be sure you don’t have the freedom to hurt me or my family ever again,” Nhyira said.
“My life was perfect till the day you abducted me from school years ago. You turned my life upside down and I let you toy with me anyhow you want. But this ends now and it ends in the courtroom. Let’s go, Kuks.”
“I guess that’s all for today. See you in court,” Kukuaa said with a huge smile and walked like a boss out of the room with Nhyira behind her.
“What am I going to do?” Constance asked.
“Prepare for court.”
“Oh no, I can’t go to jail.”
“Why are you condemning yourself even before the trial starts?”
“Because we both know why. I guess I have to use my last card after all. I do have my pride but I’m not that stupid to let it drive me behind bars. You’ll hear from me,” she said as she took her handbag and walked out.
(c) Josephine Amoako 2016
Read Chapter LII here.