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Book of Romance

Driving Miss Crazy (Episode 46)

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Caleb searched every inch of Preye’s room using the torchlight on his phone, careful not to make any loud sounds. Preye slept on, spent with passion and soothed by the little amount of alcohol she had imbibed. She did not stir until Caleb found what he was looking for.

The key card was nestled between the leaves of a personal journal which he found in the bottom drawer of her dresser, buried beneath a pile of fresh underwear. Caleb shuddered at the three-fold violation of her privacy—searching her room, digging through her lingerie drawer and opening her personal journal. If there was a special hell for traitors, he and Judas Iscariot would probably be sharing the same equally hot space.

He stood over her for a few seconds, wishing he could kiss her one more time, but he was afraid to wake her up. He knew it was probably the last time he would be standing that close to her. Once he had the documents, and it was dawn, he planned to saunter out of the house casually, before any alarms were raised. So, he was looking at her for the last time, and he couldn’t even touch her.

As he slid out of the room, guilt nibbled at him.

When she wakes up tomorrow and you’re gone forever what will she think? And if…no…when the theft of the key card is discovered, how do you think she will feel? Does she deserve to feel like she was merely a tool for your nefarious purposes?

He steeled himself with his reasons for being desperate. After all, her very life depended on him getting those files from her father’s basement. He consoled himself with the excuse that he had been pushed to his last option.

He had no choice.

The first floor corridor was deserted as Caleb inched his way towards the elevator. He glanced at his watch, surprised to see it was almost two a.m. in the morning. Heat rushed into his face as he realized that he and Preye had been involved in bed gymnastics for almost two hours.

Time flies when you’re having fun
, he thought wryly as he reached the elevator. He braced himself and turned Preye’s key card to face the closed doors, before sliding it down the required slot beside the glowing number pad. There was a click and he cringed in expectation of a loud alarm or some other disastrous event. But the elevator doors only slid open with a mild whoosh. He stepped in and pressed the B button. Cold air wafted over his head as the doors closed and the elevator descended quickly. The floating feeling in his stomach barely lasted ten seconds before the doors slid open again.

He stepped out and faced the basement door, sighing in relief when he noted another keypad slot that would allow him to use Preye’s card. Again, he slid the key card down the required groove. There was a muted click, and when he pushed down on the handle of the door, it slid open.

He took a deep breath as he faced the final, newly installed door, and again repeated the entry process. There were a series of muted clicks and then the pad beside the door gleamed green. Caleb pushed open the door, feeling air sucked into the room as the vacuum sealed door swung open. He looked around, wide-eyed, at towering shelves, filed with books and folders. A large safe sat squat in a corner, dark and menacing, probably filled with money or precious property. If either of Caleb’s accomplices had entered the basement with him, the safe would have been of particular interest to them, but Caleb barely looked at it. He walked over to a shelf which had folders stacked vertically.

He said a thankful prayer as he noticed the folders were painstakingly labelled. He was lucky that Chief Hanson Briggs was meticulous; wading through all the folders in the basement would have taken forever.

His breath hitched as his eyes caught an inscription.

Olobiri 1

It was the name of his community. He pulled out the folder, careful not to let any other ones topple of the shelf. Flipping the pages open, relief filled him as he saw the documents that he had been scheming to get for almost a year. The stapled sheets of paper were as crisp as the first day they had been issued. His anger stirred as he browsed through the contents. It was as he had suspected—an agreement to shut down the community’s court case against the oil company that had poisoned the waters where they survived by fishing. A crowd of signatures notarised the agreement and Caleb fumed as he recognised the names of a few high-brow businessmen and politicians.

He frowned as something struck him. He knew time was running out, but he paused to check each signature and name painstakingly.

Chief Hanson Briggs’ name was missing.

Caleb was confused. Why wasn’t the billionaire’s signature also at the bottom of the document? Was he not involved in the underhanded proceedings that had robbed Olobiri community of a chance to seek redress?

The folder in his hands shifted and the movement brought Caleb out of his thoughts, a sense of urgency filling him as he glanced at his wristwatch again. He had to get out of there fast. There would be time to go over the fine print later.

He rolled the folder into a cylinder and tucked it into the waistband of his jeans, then pulled his shirt over it. If he walked past anyone, he would be effectively empty-handed. He exited the basement and pulled the heavy door shut behind him, then walked quickly out the second door, careful to close it as well. The elevator waited, gleaming, ready to swallow him up and vomit him onto the first floor hallway, where all he had to do was quickly make his way downstairs and out of the house.

It was only a few hours till dawn, and then he would be out of the Briggs home and done with this subterfuge.

And out of Preye’s life for good.

He pushed down the morbid thought as the elevator hurtled upwards. There would be time to mourn the loss of the beautiful and intelligent woman who had taken root in his heart so quickly. After he delivered the Olobiri documents to the dangerous men who had their feet on his neck, at least Preye would be safe.

He took a deep breath as the elevator stopped and its doors swished open, then he stepped out, careful to be silent.

He froze as the doors slid shut behind him, shock and dread on his face.

Waiting just beyond the elevator were two armed security men, their faces grim, their guns pointed at him. As he watched, still frozen stiff, Chief Hanson Briggs and Benson Adewale pushed through the men and stepped forward.

Caleb felt his heart drop with an audible thump, and then begin to race like a frightened gazelle.

There was no escaping now. The game was up.

Check back on Thursday for more episodes.

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