Weeks after bringing Anna to the big house for shelter, Patrick, their inside man working with the police finally returned with information about Anna’s past.
“What is it that was so urgent for you to call us so late at night? Samar asked as soon as she and Anna entered Madam’s office. “I was quite grateful that there weren’t any clients calling tonight.”
“I don’t think that’s something to be grateful about – after all, isn’t it your livelihood?”
Samar glanced at Patrick as she motioned Anna onto the nearest chair. She wasn’t aware that her aunt wasn’t alone in the room. She wasn’t sure why her aunt was close to Patrick; probably because Patrick’s employment with the police department gave them the leeway that they’ve been enjoying for a while now. She was sure however that Patrick was completely in the dark pertaining to her past; Samar was confident that her past remained a story that only her blood knows.
“It depends on the way you look at it, sir. Too much of clients would be bad for health as well, don’t you think so? We aim to achieve some sort of moderation; after all, what’s the point of being one of the elites if you still have to service on a daily basis? What’s the difference then between a cheap fuck and sophisticated sex if both are readily available at any moment?”
Patrick grinned at her, enjoying the whiplash from her words. He knew that Samar hated him – more so because of his undefined relationship with her aunt. He enjoyed mixing work with pleasure; he was sure Samar would understand his stand had she not instantaneously despised him from the get-go.
“Let’s not bicker; as Samar said, it’s late in the night and I’d like to rest too.” Focusing her attention on Anna, Madam continued. “I had asked Patrick to ask around about you – hoping that he’ll discover something about you that can help trigger your memory. Apparently, Patrick had discovered more than I can hope for.”
“I believe I have found your family,” Patrick revealed, picking up from where Madam left off. Fishing into his pocket, he took out a photograph and handed it over to Anna, watching silently as Anna studied the photo with Samar standing, keeping watch beside her.
Tracing her fingers softly on the photograph, Anna felt a surge of unexplainable pain within her. The photograph brought a wave a familiarity and recognition to mind, yet she was unsure of it – how could she, with the bells ringing so loudly in her mind?
“Kuimby Jones’ a prominent businessman across our shores; he deals mainly in the import-export industry though he’s also known to dabble in hoteling and hospitality as of late. He’s married with a daughter and a son – the daughter is you, of course.”
Something flashed in Samar’s mind – Anna Kuimby; that was the name written on the identification card that Anna had shown her. Surely Patrick wasn’t barking up the wrong tree.
“You can say that your father had dealings with the sorts of people you wouldn’t want to … invite to dinner with the family. While it was obvious that these people can’t be trusted, your father was happy to have that sort of connection with them. It was all underground of course; no one knew that he was leading a double life. The problem with leading two lives is that one will eventually catch up with the other.”
“What do you mean?” Samar asked.
“You can say that her father didn’t realise that he had such a young, irresistible daughter that was attracting the eyes of the wolves he was dealing with. A business deal went sour and as a result, Anna became an unlikely pawn for both sides.”
“What did he do?”
Rocking himself on the chair, he studied Samar’s reactions with interest. He wondered how this would end tonight. Regardless how it ended, all he was interested in was to amuse himself.
“He used her as a leverage for a business deal; a promise that he never intended to keep – which also happened to be a fact that most of the parties involved were aware of. Since he put her up as leverage, she became some sort of ‘public’ property. Everyone was after her at one point.”
“That bastard!” Catching Anna’s stricken look, Samar spewed out furiously. “Don’t give me that look. A father shouldn’t have done something despicable such as that.”
“A hooker talking about ethics and morals?” Patrick interjected sarcastically.
“Stop this!” Madam Ahjunta bellowed, noticing her niece’s face turning scarlet. “Stop attacking her,” she warned Patrick. “Just tell us what you had found out.”
Shrugging, Patrick continued his story.
“Well, let’s cut the story short. A group of thugs tried to kidnap Anna, yet, in order to save her little brother that was with her, she pushed him to safety and decided to run away instead, so that her brother wouldn’t get hurt. During the chase, she somehow ran onto the road and was knocked down by a car – I was told she flew higher than the MPV that rammed into her and slammed solidly onto the tar road. Adrenaline must be rushing fast and high for her; the witnesses testified that she simply got up and continued running away.”
“If he’s a big shot overseas, what was she doing here?”
“They came here as a family for a holiday; a kind of ruse to escape the heat back home.”
“Where are they now?”
“Well, they’ve returned to their hometown after making a police report and posting up the ‘Missing Person’ flyers yet I heard that they had hired a group of private investigators to continue the search for Anna. I don’t know why they didn’t find her previously but since I’ve been doing some inquiring, it’s a matter of time before they link me back to her and start following me around.”
“Stop coming here then.”
Glaring at Samar, Madam Ahjunta signaled at her to restrain herself. It did them no good to attack and bicker with the only policeman that was willing to help them no matter what.
“Anna,” she called, bringing everyone’s attention to her at the moment. “You’ve been awfully quiet; what’s wrong?”
“I can’t get over the fact that my father … used me? While it all seems like a convenient tale and nothing much, I’m quite certain that Patrick got it right. It feels more as if I was just a collateral damage to him.”
“But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s still looking for you. It could be that he cares for you but just doesn’t know how to show it – there are people like that, you know.”
Noticing the look of confusion marring her face, Samar realised that there was nothing she could say at the moment to make Anna feel better. She knew that this was something Anna had to deal with on her own and decide on her own as well. She just wished she could do something for her.
“How does this make you feel about him?” Madam asked her after a short while of silence.
“I’m … not so sure. I’m a bit confused as to what I’m supposed to do. I can’t deny that seeing that picture triggered something inside of me yet at the same time, it feels like there’s a war inside my head. Everything seems bleak and blank; my head feels so heavy at the moment.”
“Maybe you should sleep on it, think it over tonight. With Karmen and Inness giving us plentiful of drama, I’m sure this is like having a boulder dumped onto you all of a sudden.”
Nodding at Samar, Madam Ahjunta gave her the signal to escort Anna back to her room, yet before either of them could move, Patrick stood up as he spoke again.
“Wait a minute, what about my payment? I did do some serious sleuthing for you; a kind of work that could cost me my job.”
“What is it that you want?” Samar asked.
Pointing at Anna, he simply answered, “Her.”
Gasping in shock, Anna covered her mouth and stumbled backward, hiding behind Samar immediately.
“You have a death wish, old man?” Samar asked silkily, her voice dangerously soft.
“Well, I hope she takes me to heaven first.”
“Leave her out of this; she isn’t one of us. If it’s a warm, willing body that you’re after, you could have me instead.” Samar offered herself.
Twisting his face into a mocked-shocked expression, Patrick mimicked the action of fanning himself.
“Samar Roko, the hottest elite of this house is offering herself up to me, for free? What did I do to be lucky enough to win this lottery?” Grinning at her, he added, “Or is it a kamikaze mission – you wanna take me down with you, Princess?”
“I’m not going to harm you. You want sex, then it should be with an experienced partner; she’s just a child – you can see that just by looking at her. I doubt you’d manage to jerk off to her, unlike how you will, non-stop, if you were with me.”
“Samar…” Anna began, pleadingly but she was cut off immediately.
“I’ve had it with the two of you!” Madam Ahjunta literally stepped in between the two of them. “Stop this nonsense; you’re both behaving like kids! Patrick, you and I have a deal; you said you wouldn’t touch any of my girls.”
“Yes, I did say that but Anna isn’t your girl now, is she? She’s just a stray kitten lost in this big, scary house. I helped her find her way back home; don’t I deserve a reward from that kitten?”
Laughing heartily at the furious and dirty looks that both Samar and Madam threw at his direction, he slumped into his chair once again.
“You are indeed related by blood; your facial expression clearly matches each other!” he said, still laughing to an extent that his eyes began to water.
“Ignore him,” Madam Ahjunta said to her niece as she turned to the two of them. Noticing Anna’s panicking face, she quickly hurried Samar out from the room; ordering her to ensure that Anna gets into bed and falls asleep immediately.
Once they had left, she turned her attention back to Patrick.
“What is wrong with you?” she hissed at him as she stalked towards him.
“Come on, you didn’t think I was serious – did you?”
“It doesn’t matter whether you were or weren’t. What’s with the constant attack on Samar? She only speaks to you such when you treat her that way – so the fault is with you.”
“There’s something about her that makes her hate me so much – and I’m very certain you know what that is.”
“Samar’s past is something that belongs only to her; if there’s a story to tell, it should be hers.”
“Fair enough,” Patrick said. “But don’t you dare think I’m going to sit back quietly and roll my tail around me every time she attacks me or throws me that ugly look. She needs to know that she’s not getting rid of me that easily …” he stood up and wrapped his arms around Madam’s waist. “… especially when I’m madly in love with you.”
“Or so that’s what you said.”
“Four years of being together and you still don’t trust me,” he commented, lacing his words with the extra strong flavour of guilt but Madam wasn’t taking the bait.
“Four years of being together and yet you’re still sleazy and on the constant prowl for other women,” she shot back at him.
“You know me so well, Ahjunta.”
Replying his hug, she smiled softly at him. “Of course I do.”