Andisiwe breathed a sigh of relief as she heard Jacob pull up outside. She punched the code in and the gate opened. She watched his car drive up the driveway, his headlights lighting up the dark garden. She opened the front door and flew into Jacob’s arms. He held her tightly against him. “Everything is fine now,” said Jacob as he kissed her. “I am here. Nothing will harm you now.”

Andisiwe kissed him back passionately. After a minute Jacob pulled away and, smiling down at her, said, “Now let me go and sort out that person who dared to get into your garden!”

“I don’t know how he got in through the security. My aunt and I are the only ones who know the code. Be careful Jacob,” called Andisiwe after him, as he walked away into the dark garden.

It was then that she noticed that Jacob had his hand on a bulge in his jacket pocket. A gun! Andisiwe gasped, but then relaxed.

Jacob is no fool, she thought to herself. He knows how to take care of himself, and, she added with relief, me.

Andisiwe watched nervously as Jacob disappeared into the shadows of the garden. It seemed to take an eternity before he was back at her side.

“No-one there,” he said, as he held her close. “You’re cold, let’s get you back inside.” It was such a relief to have him next to her. Suddenly she felt completely safe. Nothing bad would happen now. He shut the kitchen door and locked the security gate.

“Now, tell me all about this scary message,” he said, leading her to the couch in the lounge. “This really is beautiful,” he said softly, running his finger over the gold clock in the hallway as they passed.

Suddenly Thabo’s message didn’t seem so frightening. Just desperate. Now that Jacob was here. “I got a text from Thabo,” she told him, from her place firmly tucked under his arm as they cuddled up on the couch.

Jacob nodded. “I’m not surprised. I’ve been getting lots of threatening texts and phone calls from him for days now. I thought that sooner or later he would contact you. Can I see the message?”

Andisiwe frowned up at him, and he smoothed her frown away with his hand.

“I’m afraid I deleted it. It was just so awful … I didn’t want it on my phone … I …”

“Don’t worry baby girl. I can handle Thabo. You don’t have to be afraid any more.”

“Do you think…” Andisiwe started, then hesitated. “Do you think it could have been Thabo in the garden?”

“It might have been,” said Jacob, pulling out his phone and angrily punching a number into the key pad, “but he’s gone now. And I’m here. And I’m thirsty. You wait there. I’ll get you something cold from the fridge.”

Jacob seemed to know his way around the house. Andisiwe heard him opening the fridge in the kitchen and then the clink of glasses. Then she heard his voice as he spoke to someone on his phone. His tone was harsh. She was frightened by it.

“That gun,” he said fiercely. “Yes, you know the one. Well, it’s here with me now. So you better stay away! Do you hear me?”

When he came back into the living room with the drinks, he was smiling, as if nothing had happened. He put the glasses and chilled bottle of white wine on the coffee table. Then he sat down on the couch next to her, pulled her close, and began to kiss her.

Andisiwe felt like she was melted into his warm body. She felt so safe in his arms, so protected.

Somewhere along the passage Andisiwe shed her shoes. At the doorway to her bedroom she paused for a moment, thinking vaguely that this was where she had meant to stop. That Jacob was meant to sleep on the couch. What if her aunt came home?

Then she thought how big and empty the bed would be, with only her in it, and how much better she would sleep, with Jacob’s strong arms around her. The house was big. What if Jacob didn’t hear Thabo trying to get into her bedroom window?

So, she shed her shirt in the doorway, and helped Jacob shed his. And then, somewhere between the door and the smooth cream coverlet on her bed she shed the rest of her clothes, and she found them there, in a jumbled trail, the next morning.

Later Jacob left the bed, but only for a few minutes, and returned with two large glasses of the most delicious, ice-cold drink for them both. After the heat of the bed Andisiwe drank it down very quickly.

And that was the last thing she remembered until the morning, when the sun streamed in through open curtains and she put her arm across her eyes to shield them from the harsh light. She struggled to open her eyes. Her head felt thick like soup. She reached out across the silky sheets – to find no-one there.

Her heart constricted. It was like a terrible replay of the morning Thabo had disappeared from her bed. But that was Thabo. This was Jacob. He was probably making her breakfast right now in her aunty’s kitchen.

She noticed her clothes lying in a haphazard trail from the door and felt herself flush at the memory. She wrapped herself in her dressing gown. Andisiwe stood in her bedroom doorway and called Jacob’s name.

She felt strangely woozy as she stumbled down the passage, running one hand down the wall to steady herself. She had only had one glass of wine. Surely it couldn’t have made her feel this bad?

“Jacob?” she called out.

But Jacob was nowhere in the house, and when Andisiwe looked out of the front door his car was no longer there.

On her way back inside Andisiwe steadied herself at the hallway table, noticing that a couple of the roses in the vase had droopy heads, and had already begun to drop their petals. Andisiwe picked one up, and that’s when she noticed that it was gone.

Her aunt’s priceless gold clock was missing. Gone!

Andisiwe held her head in her hands.

What had happened? And why was she feeling so hung over?

“Oh no,” she said out loud. “Thabo.” It must have something to do with him. What had happened when she was asleep? And why hadn’t she heard anything?

But her thoughts were muddled. “Surely Thabo didn’t get into the house? What had he done? Had he kidnapped Jacob? Where was he?”

* * *

Tell us what you think: Has Siwe made another stupid mistake or has Jacob protected her and ended up being harmed by Thabo after all?