“I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me,” I say.

“But, Benard…”

“But, no buts. I know what I’m doing. Pam, please understand.” I interrupt.

“Okay, I understand,” Pam responds, looking sad.

“Hey, don’t look so sad. It’ll be over before you even know it,” I exclaim.

Pam smiles and asks, “Promise?”

“Yeah, I promise.”

I give Pam a kiss on the cheek and we hug for a long time.

“I gotta go now,” I say.

“Okay, good luck there and please be careful.”

“I will.”

I get out of the car. Pam waves her hand to say goodbye and drives off. I walk to house number 25, Precious’ house. I can’t spot any snipers. I guess they’re not supposed to be seen, I think.

I go into Precious’ property and look around the yard. The grass is so green and there is a pipe sprinkling water on it. There is a water tank at the back of the yard. I go and knock on the door. Precious opens the door.

“Hey, glad you could make it,” she greets, and winks. She is wearing skinny jeans and a nice top. “Come in,” she adds with a devilish smile.

I look around at first, trying to spot the sniper outside that the police officer said he would place, but I can’t see anyone. It is an open area and I am not sure how and where the officer’s snipers would hide in order to try to protect me.

I look at Precious with a fake smile. I go inside.

“Why do you look so uptight baby, what’s wrong?” Precious says as she moved closer to me.

“Keep those dirty hands to yourself,” I shout at her. “Where the hell are they?” I scan the house.

“Where’s who?” Precious asks with a confused look.

“Don’t try to make a fool out of me, you witch. I know that you were in that little scuffle with your boyfriend, Justin. Where is he anyway? Where’s that coward hiding?”

Precious starts to cry. She’s trying to trick me, I think. I laugh gallantly and say, “That won’t work on me. I won’t be fooled by that.”

Precious’ crying noises increase. Yoh, it seems like she is genuinely crying.

“I couldn’t do it, okay? I couldn’t.”

“You couldn’t do what?” I ask.

“Set you up,” she responded, wiping her tears. I sat down. “They asked me to seduce you and bring you here so that they could kill you,” she adds.

“Who’s they?” I ask, interestedly.

“Mr Jacobs and his goons.”

“Yoh, but how and why are you involved in all of this?” I ask, feeling confused.

“It’s all rather unfortunate. Justin came here out of breath, he explained to me that he had kicked you and you had lost consciousness. He said the man, that had a slashed scar on his face, wanted to kill you, after he saw that Justin had knocked you down,” she explains.

“I still don’t get it. Why did he kick me right in the face anyway?”

“He had no choice, you would’ve obviously defended yourself with self defence and you would’ve been killed. Justin’s initial plan was to call the ambulance after he had kicked you, but that didn’t go according as he expected because the scarred guy heard the kick. They then had an argument about whether to kill you or not. The scarred guy wanted you dead and Justin refused. Justin stood in his way and the scarred guy punched him in the face. A fight started. Justin hit the scarred guy on the head, after a struggle with a gun. He lost consciousness too. That’s when he took the scarred guy and threw him outside the gate of Mr Jacob’s house. Informing him that deal was off,” Precious elaborates the scenes.

“Wow, I never really thought of why I was left to live as I was a witness. You still haven’t answered my question, though.” I remind her.

“Justin was planning to take the first plane ticket away from Stallian to live with his uncle, but Mr Jacobs’ goons got him. Days passed before I heard from him again, then I was called and told that he was being held hostage and that I would only see him again if I seduced you and lured you to Mr Jacobs’ goons.”

“Oh my flipping thunderbolts, my mother’s life could also be in danger, as we speak.”

“I couldn’t do it, Benard. I just couldn’t, it wouldn’t have been right,” she exclaims.

“Yeah, I don’t know what to think anymore,” I said, scratching my head. “How is Collen involved in all of this?” I ask.

“I begged him to start selling drugs at our school, I didn’t tell him about Justin. He refused at first but I seduced him and he changed his mind,” Precious looks down ashamed. “I’m not proud of it though, I would use the drugs to get high, to ease my conscience. I … I had too, for the sake of…” she pauses.

I can see tears starting to shine like a bunch of stars in her eyes. I comfort her, “Shhh, please just don’t cry.” Oh dear, I think, I’m a bit immature for this.

“Everyone that I’ve met at school always said good things about you, and I’ve seen up close of what they mean.”

Precious smiles at me. I smile back. I could never resist that smile of hers, no matter how hard I tried.

“You’re so kind and gentle and your heart is as pure as a crystal, in the end I just couldn’t do it, Benard. I just couldn’t set you up.”

Now I feel really bad for cursing her. But, think – what if she’s acting again? What if she’s faking it? Nah, she can’t fake tears.

Precious touches my lap gently, “You do believe me right?” she asks.

“Yeah, I do believe you, why wouldn’t I?” I ask. Precious kneels and leans forward.

“I think I’m starting to develop some strong feelings for you, Benard,” she says softly.

What is it with these girls today, am I a love potion or something? I touch Precious’ hands and hold them.

“Precious, I think I know exactly how you feel,” I say.

“You do?” she asks with a confused face.

“Yeah, you hate the fact that Justin has created an unforeseen problem for you. You hate the fact that he’s put you and your family’s life in danger. You hate the fact that you’re involved in this. You hate the fact that you had to destroy and put our school pupils’ lives and health at risk by selling drugs. You also hate the fact that you got Collen involved in all of this. You hate the fact that you started using the same drugs to relieve the stress that you were under, you hate him for that. But despite everything that’s happened you still have feelings for him. I can see it through your eyes that you’ve still got some strong feelings for him, despite of what he has done. But still, I don’t think that this is the time for you to play Juliet and for me to play Romeo, we’ve got bigger fish to fry.”

Did I just say that, I ask myself.

“Look, you’ve got to be strong, that’s what that Jacob guy wants. We can’t let him win,” I add.

“You’re right, hey. I still love him despite everything that has happened,” she admits.

“Yeah, I can see it,” I said. “Anyway why did he start selling drugs?” I ask, suddenly interested.

“He’s from a poor background. He used the money he earned to send his little brothers to school – they live with his uncle,” she explains.

Wow, who would’ve thought that arrogant guy actually cares for others, I thought. “But still, why didn’t you go and report it to the police?” I ask, my chin in my resting on my hands.

“Are you crazy? There are corrupt police officers at middle Stallian,” she
says shocked.

“Why do you say so?” I ask.

“Mr Jacobs has an inside man at the police force, and I was threatened that I would be captured and tortured to death if I went and reported to the cops.”

“I know someone who can help,” I say.

“Really? I’m all ears.”

“There’s this police guy that I …” suddenly I feel weak and tired.

“Are you okay, Benard? You seem a little worn out.”

“I’m fine. I just need some water. I’ll go and get some,” I said. I stand up, going over to the tap. But, then I lose my balance, not on purpose though. I just couldn’t even get up.

I look up, and see Precious holding an injection. She puts a needle into a small capsule of liquid and fills it.

“What? What do you wanna do with that?” I ask, stuttering with fear of what’s to come.

She hits the needle with her finger to remove the air bubbles, and says: “Relax, this won’t hurt a bit.”

I should’ve known better, how foolish of me. She was pretending all along, why did I believe her, huh? Why?

Precious takes a few steps towards me, and looks down at me, smiling. I feel completely paralysed. I can’t move, I’m completely defenseless now.

Precious smiles, and lifts the injection. I immediately close my eyes in fear of what’s to become of me.