Read Chapter 38 here.
Cece was finally laid to rest at the Achimota cemetery. Upon Jackie’s pleas, AJ escorted her to the graveyard to pay her last respects. They held hands as they stared at the tombstone. Mother. Wife. Daughter. She lived. She loved. Now she’s at rest.
“When the time is up, this is where we’ll end up,” Jackie said as if realizing the fact for the first time.
“So young and full of life…her daughter will never get to know her.”
“Do you know what she asked me when we met for the last time? She begged me that in case Dante and I got back together, I shouldn’t punish her daughter for what she did to me. That I should love her like my very own,” Jackie said with trembling lips. She wiped the tears running down her face with the handkerchief in her other hand.
“I promised her that I wouldn’t have if that were to happen. She also said that she knew I have a big heart and that she’d wish me to raise her daughter than any stranger out there. She also said a part of her wished I wasn’t getting married to someone else. I told her we don’t always get what we wanted. A part of me feels responsible for her being here because God knows how many times I’ve wished her dead and now that she is, leaving a baby behind and I, married to someone else makes life such a messed up puzzle.”
“Don’t blame yourself. We all made our choices and we’re responsible for them. Let fate take care of the rest,” AJ said, squeezing her hand gently. A sudden wind blew against them. Jackie shuddered.
“Rest well, Cece. Your watch has ended.”
AJ gave her a look. “Did you seriously quote Game of Thrones?”
“Couldn’t help it. Let’s go.”
Dante returned to Accra with his baby girl Kara after a week getaway. He went to Hon. Biney’s residence and was led to his study.
“It’s good to see you, Dante.”
“It’s good to be back.”
“Come to grandpa,” he beckoned to the baby. Dante handed her to him and he placed her on his lap.
“Eyram’s unfortunate passing has compelled me to reflect on many things and it has sobered me, I must be honest. I know the two of us have had our moments that I hope we can put that behind us. I started the real estate company not just for myself but to leave something behind for generations after me. I’m grateful that Eyram left behind a daughter who would become heiress to whatever I own. I can have anyone at all with all the qualifications to manage the company but I believe you would be the very best to take it up.”
“Because I’ll be the easiest person to mess around?”
“Of course not. This is somewhat your company as well knowing that however you leave it is for the good or otherwise of your daughter.”
“Fine then, put it in writing giving me more breathing space to function without you checking my every move.”
“Revised salary and terms and conditions of work.”
“Then we have a deal.”
“Great,” he said, extending his hand for a shake. Dante took it.
“She looks like her mother, doesn’t she?” Hon. Biney said, touching Kara’s face.
“She surely does.”
“I miss her,” he confessed. Dante nodded.
“Would you like to stay for dinner? Should be ready within the hour.”
“No, thank you. I have to go. Have a few things to do before I can settle in.”
“Alright then. Don’t you dare bring me the keys of your house. It’s for you and your daughter.”
“Thank you. I’ll be on my way now. My regards to your wife.”
“Will definitely let her know. Kara, say goodbye to Grandpa.”
“Give Grandpa a goodbye kiss,” Hon. Biney said. She only stared at him. He kissed her forehead and gave her back to Dante. Dante left the premises.
Jackie was enjoying her lunch at work whilst laughing at a Trevor Noah video when a WhatsApp message came through from AJ. It was a link to an article on Ghana web with the comment: It looks like the Biney bridge is coming down lol. She tapped on the link.
Hon. Biney summoned at EOCO for fraud allegations. Jackie gasped. She quickly read through it. Her heart jumped when she saw Dante’s name in the article. Oh no, Dante managed his real estate. She hoped he wouldn’t be roped into this scandal if the allegations were true. Her first instinct was to call Dante and ask him how he was doing and what was going on but she checked herself. She was married now. She stared at the ring on her finger. So far being married felt great. She hadn’t been hit with any pangs of regret…yet. And something told her that as long as she stayed away from Dante, she wouldn’t have to experience that emotional turmoil.
“Father, keep Dante safe. Don’t let him become a collateral damage in whatever is burning in the Biney’s household. Keep him and his daughter safe,” she prayed silently. He would be fine. And so would she.
“You’re sure it’s him?” Hon. Biney asked his aide.
“Yes, Honorable. Had some guys tail him for a while. He is really serious about causing you some damage, boss.”
“Is he that bored in his new marriage that he wants to use me for his amusement? I see, I’ll show him who was born first. Thanks, Issa. Good work done. Won’t forget this.”
“Yes, boss. Will be on my way now,” he said and left his study.
Hon. Biney picked up his phone. The number could not be reached.
“Coward,” he muttered and canceled the call. He heard a knock on the door and lifted his head to see Dante’s head popped inside.
“Come on in.”
“Good evening, Honorable,” Dante greeted and sat down opposite him.
“Good evening, Dante. How are things?”
“Going well, I suppose. What’s going on? What’s this thing I’m hearing concerning you and EOCO?”
“Hmm…it looks like someone is in the mood for fatal play so he’s poking the tail of a tiger. Don’t worry your head about it. I’ll sort it out.”
“I hope so because I wasn’t happy when my name appeared in the article.”
“Are you saying you’re ashamed to be associated with me?”
“Well in the light of fraud, crime and scandal, I must say I will be. And I hope it won’t come to that.”
“Oh hell no; I won’t let that happen. I’ve worked too hard and come too far in my political career for some nincompoop to come and mess it up for me. Don’t worry, I won’t let it come near you.”
“If you say so,” Dante said, although not convinced.
Julius arrived home in a cheerful mood, humming and whistling to himself.
“Honey, is that you?” Jackie asked, coming out of the bedroom.
“Yes, baby, it’s me! See, got you ice cream from Cigusta.”
“You did? What’s the occasion? I don’t remember requesting for some.”
“Do I need a special occasion before getting the moon and stars in my sky some of her guilty pleasure? This is just one way of showing you how much I love you!” he said excitedly as he gave her loud kisses on her cheeks.
“Thank you, Jules; I really appreciate it.”
A few minutes later, they settled on the sofa in the living room, with Jackie enjoying the ice cream and Julius massaging her feet.
“You are in a particularly good mood today. What’s the good news? Promotion?”
“Nope. Even better?”
“Really, what is it?”
“Can’t tell you now but trust me, it’s good. I feel the time for justice is upon us, Jackie.”
“Justice for us? What are you talking about?”
“You and I have endured some crap because it was some kind of amusement for some big man somewhere…and now it’s time for justice.”
“I’m not going to pretend I understand what you mean and I’m not going to ask you to explain. I just hope…” It struck her.
“Oh did you hear about Hon. Biney’s summon to EOCO?”
“Is that what you mean by justice? Does it make you feel better that he could be in trouble?”
“It doesn’t for you?”
“Not really…not when…” She stopped herself. He looked up at her curiously.
“Not when what?”
“Not after his daughter died…no matter what wrong you’ve done, no one deserves the pain of losing a child,” Jackie quickly said. She hoped it was convincing enough.
“Well, when you plant lemon seeds, you don’t expect to harvest grapes, do you?”
“Come on, have some compassion. I prefer to leave things in the past and move on, you know? Oh gosh, the ice cream is almost finished.”
“Will get you some more tomorrow,” he said and planted a kiss on her foot.
A week later, the case had escalated much to the annoyance of Hon. Biney. Evidence of money laundering as well as cyber fraud had reared its head. Reports suggested that his dirty money was being cleaned through his real estate company Noble Realty which was being managed by the his in-law, Dante Mends. Dante was also summoned to answer some questions about the operations of the company he was managing.
“What is going on, man? Why is your name popping up in a brewing scandal?” Debrah asked Dante.
“I’m as shocked as you are, Debrah. When all this commotion started, I asked Honorable what it was about and he said it was nothing serious; that he would handle it. And now, it’s getting worse each day. It seems the agents have their hands on some solid evidence.”
“So it’s true Honorable is cleaning money through your company?”
“I’m going to confront him and if I get a whiff that he’s in any way complicit, I’m leaving.”
“Leaving? You can’t leave. Not right now. It makes you look like you’ve something to hide. But who could be behind this operation of ousting Honorable?”
“Who knows? That man is a crook to the letter. He steps on toes everywhere he goes. Anyone of them could be behind this.”
His phone rang. He picked it up.
“Hey…are you okay? I heard. Is everything alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Not sure everything is alright though.”
“I’m so sorry. I wish there was something I could do.”
“I appreciate it, Jackie. Hopefully, this will blow over soon.”
“I hope so too. Thanks for checking in. Take care.”
“You too, Dante. Bye.”
“Love is thicker than vows, huh?” Debrah teased.
“She’s just worried, that’s all.”
“Uh huh, tell me about it.”
Dante burst into the Biney’s living room.
“Dante! I was just about to call you. What did they ask you?” Hon. Biney asked.
“Why don’t you tell me what’s going on? Why are there allegations of money laundering and cyber fraud floating around you and why am I being pulled into it?”
“I know you’re a little shaken after the interrogation but you need to calm down. I’m taking care of it.”
“Taking care of what? Is it true or not?”
“You want to know who’s behind leaking these stories to the media? Julius.”
“Which other Julius do you know?”
“Do you mean…Jackie’s husband?”
“The one and only.”
“And what could he hold against you that he’d go to this extent to bring you down?”
“I got him fired after he defied my orders to mistreat your little Jackie a little bit. He also dared to threaten me so I decided to give him a little scare on his big day and I think he figured it out that it was me so he’s out for blood.”
“Goodness. Can’t you sit down with him and hash it out man to man?” Dante suggested.
“That ship has sailed, Dante. He’s after my reputation. And there’s no going back from that. Many people are beginning to ask questions and that’s not good for me.”
“Is it true what they say you’re involved in?”
“The question you should be asking is, what are we going to do about Julius?”
“The only thing that comes to mind is to find a way to appease him so we can move past this nightmare.”
“Did you hear me when I said he’s out for blood? Compensation is off the table.”
“So what do you have in mind?”
“We shut him up.”
“We show him it’s a stupid idea to mess with us.”
“If you are in any way suggesting putting him in harm’s way, I strongly object it. That’s Jackie’s husband, for crying out loud!”
“Don’t let your affection for Jackie color the situation pink for you, Dante. He is the man who is set out to destroy you and your daughter’s life. Picture him like that and deal with it accordingly.”
“Listen, whatever you’re planning, leave me out of it, okay? Jackie has been through a lot and she just wants to move on. You attempting to ‘deal with the situation’ is only going to compound her misery. Let’s just find a way of moving on.”
“This isn’t about Jackie, Dante! This is about my image and yours. Who knows, Jackie could be in on this with her husband.”
“I sincerely doubt that. Jackie isn’t that kind of person.”
“Well you don’t look the person to steal someone’s heart and run with it but here you are.”
“Dante, you can’t be a saint and survive in this world of ours. We are all beasts and the weak amongst us get eaten. I’ve come too far to be seen as a weakling.”
“Let me try and get through to him, okay? Maybe we can all meet and trash it out. No one needs to make his hands dirty.”
“Tell him I’m coming for him.”
Jackie was driving home in the new Toyota Camry Julius had bought for her upon their return from their honeymoon when her phone rang. She pressed a button on the car’s stereo system to answer the call.
“Ekow, what’s up?”
“Naicy, I’m okay. How are you?”
“Good. What’s going on? Have you been cleared of the charges?”
“It’s still under investigation. Jackie, do you know who’s behind this chaos?”
“Me? Of course not. Why would you ask me that?”
“Jackie, it’s your husband.”
“What? Julius? I don’t think so. Julius wouldn’t do that. He promised me he would sever all ties with Hon. Biney.”
“Well, apparently, he’s not a keeper of his word because he’s on a Destroy Biney and take down Dante operation as we speak.”
“Wow…I don’t know what to say.”
“Please talk to your husband to drop it because Hon. Biney is gearing up for a counterattack and since you’re the only person in Julius’ life here, it’s possible you will be the bait.”
“Okay, thanks for letting me know. Will talk to him. Thanks.”
“Sure, thanks, Naicy.” The call ended. Jackie sighed.
This couldn’t be happening. It must be a mistake, she thought hopefully but a part of her didn’t believe that. She felt the peace she had been keeping at heart since she married fading away. The fear was back.
“Jules, we need to talk.”
“Good evening to you too, honey. How was your day? Mine was great. Yours?”
“I’m sorry. My mind was preoccupied with other things. I need you to be honest with me.”
“Always,” Julius said, sipping wine from a glass.
“Are you behind the Biney scandal brewing right now?”
“Huh? Where did you get that idea from?”
“You haven’t answered my question. Are you or are you not?”
“You promised me, Jules! You promised you would let it go.”
“He almost killed me, Jackie.”
“But you survived it. Let’s just move on with our lives.”
“I’ve known the man for a while. I know all about his dirty business. It’s about time the world got to know the real him before he worked his way up to become president.”
“Okay…I get that but why do you have to drag Dante into it?”
“The husband of his late daughter, Cece. The fact that he manages his real estate company doesn’t mean he’s involved, you know.”
“And you care about this guy because?”
Jackie paused and swallowed.
“I know him…we have…history.”
“When you say you know him, am I to take it in the Biblical sense?”
“Don’t insult me, Julius. You know better than to ask me that question. I just don’t want you to ruin innocent lives as collateral damage to your operation to end Hon. Biney.”
“Whose side are you on here, by the way? Your husband’s or your ex’s?”
“I’m on my side for peace of mind. Trust me, if Hon. Biney believes you are behind this scandal, he won’t forgive you readily. Now you there’s a target on both our backs. I still consider myself newlywed. I don’t want to be living in fear of what is to come.”
“There’s nothing to be afraid of. I promise…”
“Please don’t start. You broke your first promise which I told you was a deal breaker for me. I don’t know if I can ever trust you again.”
“Come on, Jackie; don’t get all sentimental with me. He needs to pay for what’s he’s done.”
“If we were all set out to pay people back for the wrongs they done, we will all not survive. When you made my life a living hell at Scanad, I didn’t hold it against you when you told me the truth about it. I forgave you and look at me, I’m wearing your ring! So why can’t you do same?”
“You’re a suicide mission and you don’t even see it. You want to punish him for almost turning me into a widow on my wedding day? Well, it seems you want him to accomplish that now. I need you here, to love and protect me and not putting us both in harm’s way. Please…” Jackie pleaded, holding his hands.
“It will all be over soon.”
Jackie sighed. She had married a man with a heart of stone. How was she going to turn it into one of flesh?
© Josephine Amoako 2018
Read Chapter 40 here.