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IT TOOK all of fifteen minutes to convince the stern-faced head teacher that he wasn’t there to harass one of his teachers and cause unrest in his school before he reluctantly showed him to a small-sized unused classroom with polite instructions to ‘wait here for Miss Adewale’.
He was contemplating how affordable it would be to send a child to a private school as high-classed as this one when the door was pushed open and a tall, slim and quite curvy lady walked in. She had on a knee-length black skirt with a nicely tucked-in bright blue, cup-sleeved blouse. She wasn’t exactly what you’d call pretty but Calvin felt sure that her curvy, long length got her looks from the men folks.
She was wearing flats, yet when she stopped right in front of him, he was certain they’d be almost same height. Which would make her really tall as he was a six footer.
He gestured to the dark wooden desk beside him instead of getting up. “Please have a seat, Miss Adewale. You are Bukola Adewale, right?”
She gave a quick nod. “Yes… yes, I am.” She shifted on her feet like she wasn’t sure whether to sit or remain standing. “Err… Officer, I am quite surprised that you are here to see me.”
Calvin cocked his head to the side. “Are you really, Miss Adewale? And it is Detective.” He added with a smile. “Detective Calvin Viakosen. And I’d really appreciate it if you sit, Miss Adewale.”
“Ah, okay, Offi… Detective.” She amended with a small smile, moving a few steps backwards to drop gingerly onto a desk.
He noted she avoided the one directly beside his. She instead chose the one after. She was nervous, he could see. But it could mean nothing, most people were never comfortable with the Police.
“So, is there a problem, sir… Detective?” Bukola asked, then gave a short laugh. “Or am I in trouble and you’ve come to arrest me?”
“Have you done anything that would warrant an arrest, Miss Adewale?” Calvin countered, noting the way she clasped and unclasped her hands.
“Nothing that I know of.” Her laugh was too hearty and as if noting it, she stopped suddenly. “Please sir, if you will just tell me why you are here… I do have to get back to my class. Teachers are not really permitted to entertain visitors in school or be negligent of their duties.”
“Then I shouldn’t keep you from those duties.” He smiled, then asked without further ado. “What did you do yesterday morning when you woke up?”
“What did I do yesterday morning?” Bukola repeated the question with a look of astonishment.
He inclined his head. “Yes, what did your morning activities for yesterday entail?”
She was quiet for a moment like she was considering her response, then she shrugged. “Well, it was Tuesday and I did same thing I always do weekdays. I got up early, about four-fifteen am… I have to because I live on the Mainland, Agege precisely, with my fiancé. We are getting married in two months.” She added hastily as if to avoid any judgements from him. “Em, so I have to be up early and do whatever needs to be done before leaving home to join the Lag-Bus coming to the Island.”
“Hmm.” Calvin nodded. “So, you got up early and you did same things as always, nothing other than the usual?”
“Well, except for Cate visiting quite early, nothing unusual happened. Cate is my best friend.” She explained, beaming a smile that was a little wobbly in Calvin’s estimation.
He smiled too, calmly and widely. “So, you had a visitor yesterday morning? What time was this early visit again?”
She looked at him, then lowered her eyes. “Well, I’m not sure exactly.” She shrugged. “It must have been between five-fifteen and five-twenty or so, because I always leave the house at five thirty, so as to get to the bus terminal on time.”
“So, she was there at say five-twenty and she stayed for how long?”
Bukola flicked a hand through her weaves and then patted down the strands she’d disturbed out of their clasp. “She didn’t really stay.” She said, giving another shrug. “She only came to discuss something with me and she left soon after. As a matter of fact, she dropped me off at the bus-stop herself.”
“Aha.” Calvin nodded. “And this discussion, what was it about, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“It was something of a very personal nature, Detective.” Bukola replied calmly, smiling apologetically. “I’m sorry I can’t really tell you much, sir but let’s just say it had to do with man trouble.”
Calvin arched a brow. “Man trouble?”
She smiled ruefully. “Yes. She had man trouble.”
“One that she had to leave her home that early to come discuss with you?” Calvin made a tsking sound. “C’mon Miss Adewale, there is a reason for mobile phones and it is my experience that women are forever on that handy instrument.”
“Sometimes, Detective, a telephone can be so limiting.” Bukola said.
“Hmm, indeed.” Calvin narrowed his eyes. He noted that most of her nervousness was gone now. She appeared to have gained courage with time. But still she couldn’t quite meet his gaze directly. “There is a missing ring from Edwin-Maurice’s home, Miss Adewale. A home where your best friend and her mother lives.”
“A missing ring?” Bukola stared at him.
“Yes. One worth about five hundred thousand USD, I am told.”
“And you think Cate or Aunty Anna took the ring?” She finally stared him straight in the eye. “You think Cate stole that ring?”
“Of course not!” Bukola gasped out, then laughed as if the idea was totally absurd. “Cate would never do such a thing… steal a ring or anything else for that matter? Bah!” She rose from the desk and came forward to stand again in front of him. “Listen Detective, I’ve known Cate for many years now, since we were course-mates and roommates in Unical. Never once has anything been missing in our room and never once has she been accused of stealing anything… anything at all, Detective.”
Calvin pursed his lips. “Desperation can make the sanest person do the craziest thing, Miss Adewale.”
She stared at him and then shook her head. “I don’t know anything about any five hundred thousand dollars ring, Detective, but one thing I know is that Cate didn’t steal that ring.”
She sounded confident and somehow Calvin knew she was telling the truth. It was in that direct stare, that straight-back, self-assured stance. Whatever made her nervous at the beginning had nothing to do with the ring.
“Mind if I ask who your last caller is?” He asked abruptly.
She looked momentarily surprised. “My last caller? Today?”
Calvin nodded. “Yes, today.”
She hesitated. It was obvious from the quick way she looked away and then back at him. “Funny enough, it was Cate. She called to tell me that she will be meeting me at home this evening. She’s helping me with wedding plans.” She added with a beam.
Calvin smiled. “Of course she is. And your fiancé, did he see Cate yesterday morning when she came to discuss her man trouble issues?”
She held his gaze. “No, he didn’t, Detective. He isn’t in town, travelled out of town on official matters and would be back this weekend.”
“How convenient.” Calvin quipped getting to his feet.
“Actually it’s not at all convenient, sir, I miss him terribly.” Bukola said with a bright smile. “Would there be any more questions, Detective, or may I return to my class?”
“That will be all… for now, Miss Adewale.” He gave her a smiling nod. “Thank you for your time.”
“You are welcome, sir.” She smiled and turned to leave.
“I wonder if you ever heard of the term accessory to a crime, Miss Adewale?” Calvin asked in a matter of fact tone.
Bukola turned. “Yes, I have, Detective. You get to hear these legal terms a lot from Law and Order and even NCIS.” She angled her head. “It means someone who assists in the commission of a crime, doesn’t it?”
Calvin smiled widely. “I am so glad I don’t have to explain it to you, Miss Adewale. Thank you, once again.”
She only nodded this time and left the classroom with measured, unhurried steps.
Grimacing at having made no significant progress, he followed her out and walked to his car. He was considering returning to the Station when his phone rang. He wound down his car window as he picked the call.
“Yes, Victor? Tell me something.” He said to his subordinate.
A sigh came before Victor said in a rueful tone. “Nothing to tell, sir. Either Kabiru and his boys have gone underground or they have taken off and are no more in the city. There’s absolutely no trace to them. No one seems to know anything.”
Calvin frowned. “Oh, they are still here alright. I think they know we are hard on their tails and are lying low, hoping that not getting anything, we’ll soon forget them and move onto other things.”
“So, what do we do now, boss?” Victor asked after a pause.
“Pretend we are chucking the case and lie low ourselves.” Calvin told him, inserting his key into the ignition.
“That will get them out of their shells and comfortable enough to plan another heist and then we strike when they do.” Victor gave a triumphant laugh at the plan. “Great plan, boss.”
Calvin sighed. “Well, hopefully it will work.”
There was an affirmative murmur and then Victor spoke again. “Oga said the COP has assigned you to a top secret case.” He said referring to their divisional head and the Commissioner of Police.”
“Yeah and I need you to check on some things.” Victor was only a Sergeant but he was dedicated, thorough and above all trustworthy. “I want you to find out all there is to know about Anna Makinde. She is the Principal of Crest High College and the fiancée of Temitope Edwin-Maurice. I will be focusing on wealthy groom-to-be myself.”
“Anything particular we are looking for?” Victor wanted to know.
“Like I said—everything. I want to know who she’s been meeting in the last three days, what financial commitments she’s made, what is her financial situation and so on. There is a missing, extremely valuable jewellery and I need to know who has the most motive to go for it.”
“I’ll get on it, sir.” Victor said now.
“Good. I expect an update ASAP. Not sure I’ll get back to the Station today, so reach me on phone if anything comes up. And Serg, I don’t need to tell you that this is highly classified, right?”
“I understand, boss.” Victor said before murmuring a respectful Police lingo and cutting the line.
Dropping his phone, Calvin started his car, knowing immediately where he should be headed next.
The housekeeper, Bosede, opened the door for him. And after going inside to alert her mistress on his presence, led him to the study where he found Yinka Edwin-Maurice behind the desk he’d sat yesterday.
The notched collar of the maroon long-sleeved top she had on told him she was wearing a suit. Calvin vaguely wondered if she always dressed so formally around the house.
“Detective Viakosen, come right in and have a seat.” Yinka Edwin-Maurice smiled as she flicked a hand.
It was a regal gesture and Calvin had an errant thought that that must be one of the reasons irrepressible Cate called her, her royal majesty.
“Thank you, ma’am.” He came forward and slipped into one of the chairs opposite her. “I do apologise for coming without any prior appointment.” He wasn’t sorry at all that he’d decided that such a humble opening would please Yinka-Edwin-Maurice.
And it did because she gave a soft laugh and flicked another regal hand. “Oh, don’t you worry about that. You are working for the family now and can come and go as you please. Would you like to take a drink maybe?”
“No, thank you, ma’am.” Calvin smiled affably, refraining from telling her he didn’t work for the family. “I am on duty, ma’am and so, on attention, so to say.”
She smiled again. “Very well. So, do you have any news for me? Have you uncovered any trace to my ring?”
“Sadly not yet, ma’am.” Calvin shook his head. “But I am certain that it is a case I will soon resolve.”
“Hmm.” Yinka Edwin-Maurice inclined her head. “The Commissioner has confidence in you and so I must too. I do not have to tell you how important this ring is to my family and how valuable it is too?”
“You do not have to repeat it, you told me yesterday.” He gave a winsome smile.
“Good.” She gave another imperious nod. “Did you follow the lead I gave about Cate?”
“I most certainly did, ma’am. And while I’m keeping an eye on Cate Makinde, there are other angles I must look into.” He retained the affable smile.
Yinka Edwin-Maurice frowned mildly. “But of course. Would there be anything else you’d like know?”
“Indeed there is, ma’am.” Calvin crossed his hands on his laps. “You were not impressed at first with your son’s choice of a wife.”
The frown on her forehead deepened. “Is that a statement or a question, Detective?” Her voice had taken an aloof note.
Calvin smiled amicably. “It will be safe to consider it a question, ma’am.”
She drew in breath and leaned back against her seat. “And pertinent to note that it is a rude one.” She retorted. “But I’ll answer it all the same. I was not only unimpressed, Detective, I was quite disturbed by my son’s choice for a wife. There was nothing remarkable about the Makinde name and family and no one knew them.”
“Whereas the Edwin-Maurice name is not only a powerful one but also a wealthy one.” Calvin put in calmly. “And so you objected to their marriage.”
She made a sound, it might have been a hiss but it seemed improbable that Yinka Edwin-Maurice would react so commonly. “Is that another rude question, Detective?”
“Just a curiosity about the facts, ma’am.”
Her eyes flashed at his unruffled tone and posture. “And what if I did, Detective? The Edwin-Maurice name is a prestigious one and many women would do just about anything to own that name and partake of its heritage. This generation of women have no dignity or morals.” She sniffed.
“And you would do anything to protect the Edwin-Maurice name and wealth from their undignified grasps, wouldn’t you, ma’am?” Calvin prompted.
“This is preposterous, Detective Viakosen.” Though her voice had risen a notch, Yinka Edwin-Maurice was still composed enough to remain seated albeit stiffly now. “Are you suggesting I stole my own ring to stop my son from marrying Anna Makinde?”
Calvin met her gaze without flinching. “Is that what happened?”
“How dare you?” This time she shot to her feet and unwittingly knocked down the file she’d pushed aside upon his entrance. “I invited Anna Makinde into this home because I wanted to get to know her and be sure she was good enough for my son and worthy enough of the Edwin-Maurice name.”
Calvin bent to retrieve the file and its contents. “But unfortunately you also had to meet Cate, her daughter and whilst her mother might be a manageable choice, Cate isn’t exactly your everyday toe-the-line kind of girl, right?”
“How audacious!” Yinka Edwin-Maurice declared, snatching the file from him and tossing it on the table. “You are off this case, Deputy Superintendent Viakosen. I shall be calling the Commissioner to let him know I want you nowhere near me, my family or my property.”
“As you wish, ma’am.” Calvin passed her a cheque that he’d retrieved last. “But I am certain you want discretion in this matter… you wouldn’t want anything that might taint the name and image of Edwin-Maurice.” He gave her a pleasant smile. “I can assure you, ma’am, I am not only the very best there is as regards Larceny and Burglary, I am also the very soul of discretion.”
“This conversation is over, Detective.” Yinka Edwin-Maurice said in an icy tone, resuming her seat and hitting the desk bell. “Bosede will see you out.”
Calvin dipped his head. “Have a good day, ma’am.” Though he kept a pleasant smile on his face as he walked to the door, his mind reeled over the ten million naira cheque to a Nonso Daberem. What was it for and who was he?
He met Bosede just inside the living room and she escorted him to the front door. “Excuse me, Detective?” Her hesitant voice came just as they reached the door.
Calvin turned to look at her inquiringly. “Yes?”
She stared straight at him. “I sent you that text message.”
His brows shot up, interesting.
**For those who are not aware calvin & cate THE PEARL RING comes up every Tuesday and Saturday. HOpe you enjoyed today’s episode? Let your comments speak. Have a great weekend.*