“Going out again?” X asked Thomas
“The ransom money came in this weekend what’s your excuse for going out now
because we have the money we need.”
Thomas ignored him and continued fixing himself in the mirror. He started whistling the chorus of his favourite tune Three Little Birds by Bob Marley.
“You’re even whistling what’s with the good mood?” X fished some more “You know you might as well give me the title deed for this warehouse because clearly I’m the only one who stays here. I wouldn’t be surprised if you just packed your bags and moved in with Kathrine because you spend so much time with her.” Still there was no reply “Helloooo? Earth to Benjamin or Thomas or whatever you feel like calling yourself today.”
“What boy?” Thomas finally gave in to X’s nagging “Don’t you have anything batter to do than nagging me like a bored housewife?”
“No actually I don’t. There’s load-shedding so my computers are down which means I don’t have anything better to do with my time. Maybe I would have something to do if we had a backup generator.”
“Then go and feed Adam or keep Miracle company or something. Whatever it is stop nagging me. I have a big day ahead of me” Thomas said and continued with his whistling tune.
“I’m sick of talking to your hostage. If she’s not threatening me with what her father is capable of she’s offering me loads of money to let her free.”
This grabbed Thomas’ attention immediately “She offered you money? You know what’s going to happen if you become stupid and fall for that right? We’re both going to jail. And if you think you’ll run away…”
“You’ll come for me and kill me I know I know! I’m not that stupid. So why are you so excited?” X asked changing the subject.
“I’ve been invited to have dinner with the rest of the Knight family this evening. Katherine was impressed when I paid her the money for the dog. I think she was relieved even.”
“So let me get this straight. You kidnapped Katherine’s sister Miracle right? Then you went to her function and bid for a dog you didn’t have money for to get into Katherine’s good books. Then you asked her for ransom for her sister whom you kidnapped and used that same money to pay Katherine for the dog you bought from her and impress her even more? You made her buy the dog with her own money and she thinks you’re this great guy?”
“Yes and now I’m going to ask them for more money. Then when they cannot pay anymore I’ll bring Miracle home and I’ll be part of the family. That way I’ll rip Patrick’s life apart like a virus.”
“Thomas Benjamin Leno-Reeves you are the devil himself. Remind me to never mess with you.”
Thomas smiled at the compliment “I’ll be back late remember to feed Miracle and keep her hydrated at all times. We don’t want any hiccups I’ll scare the Knights into another big ransom then when they are bout to lose hope in my abilities I’ll bring poor Miracle home. I’ll be the hero and they’ll forever be indebted to me.”
“What about Patrick?”
“The fact that he didn’t recognise me the first time he saw me is a good sign. It means he’s not expecting my moves. He’s forgotten about me and won’t see me coming. He’s a smart man so I always have to factor in the possibility that he’ll eventually figure out who I am but I already have a contingency plan for that.”
“What’s the plan?” X asked curiously.
“Oh this is the big boy’s game now boy. You just sit back enjoy and watch a mastermind at work” Thomas said as he grabbed his new car keys and headed out. “I’ll see you later. Don’t do anything stupid.”
Thomas had gotten used to the wealth of the Knights by now. As he pulled into their driveway a servant opened the door for him and greeted him in recognition. For some odd reason Thomas appreciated this gesture it made him feel closer and closer to his ultimate goal destroying Patrick Diale while getting rich from his in-laws. He climbed the stairs leading into the mansion and Katherine was already waiting for him in the foyer.
“Hey Benjamin” she said dressed in a charming red designer dress that complimented her every curve.
If Thomas didn’t notice how truly gorgeous she was before he did now. “Katherine you look amazing.”
“Oh please this old thing. But thank you” she replied unable to hide her blushing “Almost everybody is already here. Please follow me.” She led him down a passage. Thomas couldn’t help but wonder to himself how much everything in this house amounted to. From the expensive paintings on the wall to the decorative vases and sculptures situated all around the house. It seemed Richard Knight was a man who loved his art and not just any art rare and exorbitantly priced art. They arrived at the dining table and Thomas scanned the faces. Seated at the head of the table was Richard Knight his silver hair neatly combed. He was dressed in an unbuttoned white shirt dark-green cigarette pants and brown-suede loafers without socks. The old man had style no one could fault him on that Thomas observed. Seated next to him was a beautiful blonde haired lady who was about the same age as Katherine. Thomas didn’t recognise her face but if she was on the table that meant she was important to Richard Knight and that made him curious. Also on the table was Maxwell Knight his friend Jimmy and Katherine’s husband who looked like he was held hostage until his eyes met Thomas’. He gave Thomas a condescending look of disgust that made it clear what he thought of him. But Thomas was certain not to let him ruin this night for him.
“Ah Benjamin the man who has promised to bring my daughter home” Richard said unable to mask his sarcasm. “Please take a seat and tell me all about why Katherine paid a two million Rand ransom but my Miracle is still not here.”
“Dad please. Can we just have a normal dinner and enjoy ourselves?” Katherine came to Thomas’ defense.
“Your sister is still missing how on earth do you expect me to have a normal dinner and enjoy myself? Benjamin gave me his word that he would bring my daughter back home and since she is still not here I just want a progress report from the man. Especially now that two million has left my pockets.”
Thomas took a seat next to Maxwell and Katherine sat next to him at the tail of the table “I understand where you’re coming from Richard. I myself felt exactly how you’re feeling when my own son was missing. So if there’s anyone who can empathise with how you’re feeling right now it’s me.”
“I don’t want your empathy Benjamin I want my daughter. If I wanted empathy I would’ve gone to church” Richard hit back. “I gave you two million Rands to bring my daughter and now you have the audacity to come into my house and eat my food but my daughter is still not here.”
“Jeez you sound like a parasite dude” Maxwell said “All you do is take
Thomas took a subliminal deep breath. If he knew he was going to be this disrespected he wouldn’t have bothered pitching up to this stupid dinner. It seemed he underestimated Richard’s impatience “I’ll put pressure on my men. We’ll work around the clock if we have to. But here’s what I can tell you I’m your best shot at finding Miracle.”
“Really now?” Katherine’s husband Lamar said “I thought you were an accountant. So what does an accountant if that’s what you really are know about finding kidnapped people? Excuse me for being skeptical here but you sound too good to be true Benjamin. You sound like a poorly developed made up character for a low budget movie. Is Benjamin even your real name? Because I couldn’t find anything about you online except a sketchy Facebook profile that was created around the same time Miracle disappeared. Which is also around the same time you appeared.”
Thomas was now certain that this was a planned ambush the only thing he needed to establish was if Katherine was part of it. Were the Knights onto him? Was he so focused on his own moves that he didn’t pay attention to his opponents? He didn’t have any answers for these questions and that bothered him. He wanted to leave immediately before things got out of control.
“Cat got your tongue Benjamin?” Lamar pressed.
“Why are you being an asshole Lamar?” Katherine defended Thomas once again “In fact why are all of you being assholes? Benjamin has been nothing but great help to this family and –”
“And we appreciate that my love. I’m not accusing him of anything I’m just asking him questions out of curiosity. Questions that need answers. Answers that he hasn’t given us” Lamar said. His statement was followed by silence as everybody turned to Thomas. He knew now that Katherine was on his side but she was outnumbered. He had to count his next words carefully.
“What is it exactly that you want to know?” Thomas said trying to keep his anger and irritation at bay.
“For starters who is Benjamin Leno? What is it exactly that you do?”
“Benjamin Leno is a hardworking man. Everything I have was not handed to me. I had to fight scratch claw sweat and bleed to become the man I am today. I’ll admit I have skeletons in my closet as I’m sure that everyone in this room does. I’m a very private man that’s why you couldn’t find anything about me online. I handle the books wealth and investments of some very powerful people which is why I don’t go around advertising my business. Have you ever seen a Rolls Royce advert? No. My business is like the Rolls Royce of accounting firms. We don’t search for business our clients come to us upon recommendation by those in their circles. Next question.”
“You don’t have to do this Benjamin” Katherine said.
Thomas felt his phone vibrate in his pocket he ignored it. “No I do. It seems your father and your husband have some suspicions about me and I’d like to put them to rest.”
“You’re damn right I don’t trust you. I won’t trust you until you bring my daughter home as you promised. A man’s word is his bond. It’s how he earns respect. Bring my daughter back home and you’ll have my respect and I’ll open my world to you. Until then you’ll spend the rest of your time here hiding behind my daughter’s skirt” Richard proclaimed with authority. “I’m done for tonight.” He turned to the blonde woman sitting next to him “Yolanda my love let’s go to bed.”
Thomas wasn’t satisfied with how things were going. He didn’t know why but he felt defeated as if he’d gone head to head with Richard Knight and came second best. He needed to do something that would turn things to his favour “Saturday at the latest” he shouted out. Prompting Richard to stop what he was doing and turn all his attention to him “If your daughter is still in this country which I believe she is I’ll have her here by Saturday.” He’d just played his trump card and wasn’t sure if it would have the desired effect. Miracle was his way into the Knight family. It was important that her delivery play to his advantage if he wanted to stick around long after she’d been found. But Richard had pushed him into a corner that he couldn’t get out of. His phone vibrated again and he pulled it out of his pocket and pressed decline.
“You’ll have my daughter back home by the weekend?” Richard asked skeptically.
“That’s what I said.”
“And how exactly are you going to do that Superman?” Lamar asked almost amused by Thomas’ ridiculous revelation “World-class investigators couldn’t find Miracle in two weeks. How’ll a shady accountant with a cheap suit find her?”
“That’s enough Lamar” Richard warned his son-in-law. “If you do what you just said you will I’ll make you a very rich man Benjamin Leno. But if you don’t you’ll make me a very angry man.”
“Saturday Miracle will be here at home with her family.” Thomas’ phone vibrated again.
“Pick it up it might be one of your clients” Katherine said.
Thomas was hesitant only X had this number. He picked up the phone “Yes.”
“Christ I’ve been trying to call you none stop man. Why the hell haven’t you been picking up?” X said. His panic was evident through the phone speakers and Thomas was immediately alert.
“What do you want? I told you when I’ll be back.” Thomas mumbled into the phone.
“I messed up man I messed up big time. I’m so sorry I only went out to get some pizza dude I wasn’t even gone that long I swear. I swear to God I wasn’t gone that long –”
“Slow down and tell me what’s going on” Thomas said.
“Is everything okay?” Katherine whispered to him.
Thomas nodded dismissively.
“It’s Miracle man. Like I said I went to get some pizza and when I came back I thought I should go check up on her and see if she didn’t need some water or something. When I got to her room she wasn’t there.”
Thomas’ world must’ve come to a standstill because he was certain he didn’t hear what he had just heard “What did you just say?”
“Miracle escaped man. She’s gone I’m sorry.”
Thomas dropped the phone. He’d just promised the most powerful man he’d ever met that he’d bring his daughter home. A daughter that he now didn’t have.