Click here to read the previous Episode; Lethal Games PT-1
*Recap: Dami got an unexpected promotion after a clumsy accident at the restaurant. She also realised that she was being stalked on her way home by a stranger.*
Minutes after discovering the shirt, I picked up my phone and dialled Daniel’s number. He lived in the male dormitory which was on the other side of campus. After briefly narrating what happened, he sounded worried and confused at the same time.
“Dami, are you sure about this?”
“I’m telling you it’s the exact same shirt and the oil stain is a sure confirmation that it’s the guy I bumped into at the restaurant.”
“And you’ve never met this guy before, except today?”
“Yes, why won’t you-“
I turned sharply when I heard footsteps approach the door. My heart felt like it was about to leave my body.
“Th-there’s someone coming.” I stuttered.
“Please tell me you locked the door, Dami.”
My mind raced. Did I? Oh God, why couldn’t I remember?
I felt paralysed until his voice snapped me out of my silent panic.
“Go and check Dami, hurry up!”
I’d barely taken two steps before the handle turned and the door flew open. My phone crashed helplessly to the floor and I heard it come apart at the impact.
“Why are you staring at me like that?” Chioma snapped as she tossed her bag unto her bed.
I felt torn between two decisions at that moment. I didn’t know whether to slap her silly for scaring me like that or to hug her for well… being her.
“You wouldn’t understand.” I sighed.
She gave me a strange look and shrugged before grabbing her towel and going to the bathroom. I quickly assembled my phone and called Daniel.
“Dami, are you okay? What happened? Why did the line go off like that?” He fired all three questions in one breath.
“I’m fine. It was just Chioma, my roommate.”
I heard him take a deep breath and release it slowly.
“You scared me for a moment there. I thought I was about to witness a murder over the phone.”
“It was a false alarm.” I said, letting out a small laugh of relief.
I finally felt like I could breathe again.
“False alarm or not, just take care of yourself okay? And be careful. Call me if anything happens and stick within groups as much as possible.”
He rattled off more instructions and I was surprised he seemed to know so much.
“Daniel, calm down. It’s probably not as terrible as it seems.”
“I know what I’m talking about.” He replied quietly. “Just promise you’ll follow my advice.”
“Okay, I will. Bye.”
It wasn’t until several hours late into the night that a thought hit me. If the man left his shirt, does that mean he plans on coming back for it?
The following morning, I woke up tense and paranoid. My nerves were frazzled from getting up several times at night and staring at the door. Chioma once caught me awake and for the first time since we met, she looked concerned.
“Are you sure everything is okay?” She asked as she picked up her bag to leave for the day.
Only God knows when she’ll be back this time.
“Everything is fine.” I smiled.
“Okay then.” She nodded and turned to leave.
“Um wait, do you mind if we walk together?” I thought I sounded absurd. Never in my life had I felt scared to leave the room by myself.
She frowned before shrugging a single shoulder abruptly.
“If you want to tag along, then okay.”
Tag along. She made me feel like an unwanted kid sister. All the same, I grabbed my purse and we left the room together. The whole situation was beyond awkward and neither of us exchanged a word except when we parted ways with murmured farewells. I braved the rest of the walk on campus without any incident and arrived safely at work. During our lunch break, Daniel led me to a quiet corner to talk.
“Any news about who this guy is?”
“No, I’ve only seen him once in my life and I don’t even remember what he looks like.”
“Did you do what I asked you?”
“Yes, I even walked with Chioma this morning.”
“Good. If anything strange happens, let me know.”
“What do you plan to do about it?” I asked in curiosity, but he didn’t even answer.
“I’m serious Dami.” He said before turning to leave.
As I watched him leave, I couldn’t help but feel there was something he wasn’t telling me. After work, Toyin called to remind me about the dress fitting today. I was to be part of the bridal party, yet I’d put off this part of my duties for as long as possible.
“I’ll text you the venue, just remember to show up early. Or shall I come and pick you up?” She asked.
“No, I can get there easily from work since it’s on the Island. I might need a ride back though.”
“See you soon.” I said before ending the call.
I turned sharply to find Kevin standing behind me.
“When did you get here?”
“Not too long ago.” He shrugged.
“Well, did you have to sneak up on me like that?” I snapped. The effects of yesterday’s events still made me wary of being watched.
“What’s up with you?” He chuckled, looking amused.
“Nothing.” I mumbled and walked past him.
On the way out, I spotted Daniel with his bike in the parking lot. I was about to ask him for a ride but changed my mind when I saw him repairing something in it. I sighed and continued towards the main road to get a cab. Maybe I should treat myself to a little comfort once in a while even if it comes at an expense.
I arrived at the boutique around 4:30pm and made my way into the shop to look for Toyin. The AC was on full blast and I immediately felt better.
“For once in your life, you’re early.”
I smiled and gave my sister a big hug.
“How could I resist? You promised me a free ride and free food afterwards.”
Toyin shook her head and led me to where the other bridesmaids were. Her maid-of-honour was Hadiza, her best friend since secondary school. After introducing myself to the ladies, Toyin got right down to business and instructed the shop attendant to bring out the dress. Frankly speaking, I was intimidated at first sight.
“Please, tell me there are more options available.”
“There are no options available. We’re sticking with that colour.”
“What? There’s nothing wrong with that dress.”
I stared at it again in disbelief. It was a deep pink, pink! The other bridesmaids smiled encouragingly at me but what I knew, that they didn’t know is that I couldn’t possibly look reasonable in a dress like this.
“Just try it on.” Hadiza said.
I grudgingly accepted the dress and went into the changing room. When I stood before the mirror, I just didn’t see the girl that type of dress was made for.
“So, what do you think?” I asked the ladies.
There were mixed reactions. Toyin managed a strained smile, Hadiza wrinkled her forehead, and Sarah who was one of the bridesmaids, said nothing.
“It’s beautiful! You look absolutely gorgeous.” We all turned to look at the shop attendant who was all smiles.
Toyin and I gave her a sharp look which silenced her and she quietly retreated to another side of the store. I scoffed as she hurried past me. These people will tell you that anything looks good as long as they get to sell it.
“Take it off, we’ll find something else later.” Toyin sighed, but I could tell she was barely holding in her laughter.
The pink monstrosity was a floor length gown with a side slit that started at my knee. The mass of ruffles on the neck was enough to create a new dress altogether and let’s not even get started on the legion of sequins that made me look like a human disco ball.
After that epic fail, the girls split up leaving Toyin and I to head to the restaurant.
“So, when do I get to meet Bello?” I asked when we found somewhere to seat.
Bello Yakubu is the groom. I don’t know much about him except that he’s an investment banker in his mid-thirties who’s rolling in cash.
“Soon, I’m thinking of inviting him over to the house this weekend. He’s already met mom and dad.”
“Okay, let me know so I can come over.”
Soon after, while Toyin was in the ladies’ room I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket followed by the message alert tone.
5:46pm, Sweet Sensation. White short-sleeve T-shirt and denim skirt. It was a pleasure seeing you. R.
At first I was confused. But when the words registered, I felt my blood run cold. It was a perfect description of my outfit and the time was 5:46pm. He was here and he was watching me.
“Are you ready to leave?”
I was startled when Toyin returned.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing.” I forced a strained smile and gathered my things to leave.
My eyes constantly scanned the restaurant for any sign of him. I didn’t even think I would recognise him if I saw him but I couldn’t help but look closely at everyone we passed by. I didn’t feel relaxed; not even when we were safely in the car. And I especially didn’t feel safe when I arrived at my dorm to find another package waiting for me.
As I pushed the door open and stepped into the room, I heard paper crinkle under my feet. I looked down to find a brown envelope lying on the floor. It was close enough to the entrance to tell that someone slid it underneath the door. I felt a tiny bit of relief at that. It meant whoever this person was, didn’t have access into my room. Although, I didn’t know how long things would stay that way.
I dropped my purse on the bed and ripped the envelope open. A picture fell out and landed right side up at my feet. I scanned it quickly and realised it was taken today while Toyin and I were at the restaurant. Behind it was a short message saying, “Next time, it would be me sitting next to you. R.”
“Oh God, what do I do?” I whispered, dropping the picture into my purse.
I wish I was never at work on Monday. I wish I truly fell ill and couldn’t make it and most of all, I wish I’d never spilled food on his shirt. I would never have gotten myself into this situation otherwise. I knew nothing about this person. I didn’t know if he was truly dangerous or if it was a fleeting thing that will pass soon. And why was I the target? Surely, his shirt wasn’t that important. Do I report this to someone? Even if I wanted to, who do I go to?
All these thoughts were beginning to give me a headache and staying alone in this room was beginning to feel like a bad idea. I picked up my purse and locked the room as I went out. Even if it was for a few hours, at least I would be surrounded by people or maybe I should visit Daniel instead I thought. I decided to stop at an eatery to pick up some food. I was starving and knew from experience that Daniel almost never had any food. After several years of friendship, I knew him that well.
As I was standing in line to order, I felt movement behind me as someone brushed me from behind. I turned sharply, already scared of who I might find behind me.
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t looking.” He said.
I nodded and faced forward as the lady at the counter called my attention. As I waited impatiently for her to pack up the food, the guy behind me cleared his throat. I didn’t turn around. I just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible and go somewhere I felt was safe.
He cleared his throat again before sighing and tapping me on my shoulder. I nearly jumped.
“What?” I snapped.
His eyes widened and he stepped back cautiously.
“Sorry Dami, I just wanted to… never mind.” He shrugged and looked away.
I looked up sharply and narrowed my eyes in suspicion.
“Who are you and how do you know my name?” I asked quietly.
People were starting to watch us but I didn’t care. Was this the guy? But, why didn’t I recognise anything about him?
He chuckled lightly before shaking his head.
“I didn’t think I was that unpopular.”
“Answer me.” I said in a serious tone.
He seemed to realise I wasn’t playing around because he suddenly stopped laughing.
“We’re in the same Faculty of Science but different departments. I’m in Biochemistry, you’re in Microbiology.”
I nodded vaguely although I’d never seen him before.
He looked at me for a while before speaking.
“Still doesn’t ring a bell, right?”
“It doesn’t.” I confirmed with an apologetic expression.
The lady at the counter set my food before me and I paid the bill while the guy behind me kept talking.
“Well, you’re roommates with my sister Chioma. I’m Nonso by the way.”
“Oh! You two are related?” I exclaimed, turning to look at him well.
“I know I look nothing like my sister, I get that a lot.” He smiled.
That was very true. While Chioma looked like she was ready to snap someone in two with her no-nonsense expression and plump build, Nonso looked like an easy-going person who was always seconds away from cracking a joke. Not to mention his impressive height that had me tilting my head upwards to look at him.
“Anyway, I just wanted to greet you since we’ve never really talked before. I arrived on campus yesterday and there aren’t many people around so it’s a bit lonely.”
“I understand. But I actually like how quiet it is right now, it won’t be the same in a few days.” I said.
“I don’t like very quiet places. That’s where we’re different.” He laughed.
I actually found myself smiling at how light-hearted he is. We continued our conversation until he realised he had followed me out of the restaurant.
“Wow, I almost forgot how hunger was dealing with me before I left my room.” He laughed, turning to look back at the restaurant.
“Don’t let me come in between you and your meal.” I smiled, turning to leave.
“I’ll see you around soon.” He waved and went back into the restaurant.
I felt much better than I did when I left my dorm.
I really need to go out more often. I thought, making my way to Daniel’s place. Before I arrived, I called to let him know I was on my way.
“Daniel? I’ll be at your dorm in about 15 minutes.”
“Just like that?” He laughed. “Just know I’m broke oh, so there’s no food if that’s what you’re expecting.”
“Have we just met?” I asked playfully. “When do you ever have food? Anyway, I came prepared.”
“Dami, you’re heaven-sent. I was just about to go and buy Indomie.”
“Save the money for when you really need it.” I advised him.
“Did you buy soft drinks too?” He asked.
“Do I look like I’m made of money?”
“Erm, forget I just said that. I can always arrange for cold water.”
I smiled and shook my head.
“Anyway, don’t let me finish my credit or else I’ll be broke in that area too.”
“I’m the one who called you, Daniel.”
“Oh, well in that case, we can continue talking.”
“So it’s my own credit that should waste. In fact, I’m hanging up now.”
I heard him laugh quietly before he hung up. He didn’t even give me the opportunity of hanging up first.
It didn’t take Daniel long before he started questioning me on the recent happenings.
“Has anything strange happened since you found that shirt?”
I was silent as I thought of the message and the picture I received today.
“I got a text message today and whoever this person is has been following me around.” I sighed.
I just wanted to forget about all that today. Constantly worrying about this man’s next move was starting to take its toll on me and I didn’t want to hurt myself with thinking too much.
“Do we report this to the Police?”
“What do we tell them?”
“I don’t know Dami, but your life could be in danger.”
When he said that, the fear I tried so hard to keep bottled up within me seemed to double its intensity.
“You don’t know that, okay? Maybe this is just some kind of secret admirer who’s too shy to-“
“Too shy to what?” Daniel cut in. “Dami, this isn’t normal. A regular guy would have walked up to you a long time ago. But sending you strange messages and taking pictures of you is not normal.”
I stood up and stared at Daniel.
“How do you know about the picture? I didn’t tell you about that.”
Daniel’s eyes widened with guilt and he looked away.
“Daniel… what’s going on?” I asked slowly, taking a step back.
“I’m sorry, okay?” He said quietly.
“What did you do?”
“When you went outside to take a phone call, your purse fell open and I found the picture. I saw the note behind it and realised that from the angle that photo was taken, you weren’t aware of whoever was behind the camera. What I don’t understand is why you wouldn’t tell me all that’s going on. We’re best friends Dami and I can’t sit back and let something bad happen to you.”
I felt my heartrate calm down slowly at his explanation. I had thought the worst. In fact, I didn’t know what to think anymore or who to trust.
“Daniel, you had no right sneaking through my personal belongings.”
“Well if I didn’t find out myself, you weren’t going to tell me anything. Are you waiting for your name to come up in the missing person news or worse?”
“Th-that isn’t going to happen.” I whispered.
Daniel sighed and ran his hands through his thick black hair, rumpling it.
“Just promise me that from now on you’ll open your mouth and tell someone; even if it’s not me, your best friend of almost 6 years.”
His words quickly made my anger melt into guilt and I promised him I would.
Hours later when it was getting dark, I knew I had to return to my room. It was inevitable. Daniel escorted me all the way to the dorm building and waited for me to text him when I’d gotten into my room and locked the door behind me, somehow knowing that someone was looking out for me made me feel a lot safer.
I even slept better that night; although, if I’d known what was to come, maybe I would have really savored that goodnight’s rest.
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