Ike tuned to Channels, increased the volume on the television set, and held Gabrielle close; her attention focused on the small screen.
“I’ve called you here tonight to announce some late-breaking developments in the George Rosenfeld murder case,” The Prosecuting Attorney, Amobi, who was surrounded by a gaggle of reporters, began sombrely. “Due to the relentless efforts of this town’s excellent police force, another viable suspect has been uncovered and is being pursed with every means at our disposal.” He looked tired and his hair was unkempt.
“You mean the wife did not do it?” one of the reporters yelled while Amobi was still talking.
“Uh, it appears that more than one person in this case had motives to kill the deceased, and the police are on the trail of another suspect. That’s all I can say at the moment.”
He tried to escape but the reporters closed in on him like a wolf pack on fresh meat – cameras flashing, recorders brushing against his lips.
“Are you saying that the charges against Mrs. Rosenfeld would be dropped?”
“Who is the new suspect?”
“Does the new suspect look like Mrs. Rosenfeld?”
“Will the DPO be making an announcement concerning this case?”
Reporters shouted questions until Amobi’s mouth became a thin line, and the scene shifted to an anchor.
“And there you have it,” the Channels anchorman said in clipped tones. “With a possible second arrest in the George Rosenfeld murder case, we all await the fortunate fate of his wife, Gabrielle Rosenfeld who was initially –”
Ike clicked off the TV.
“I take it you had something to do with that performance,” Gabrielle said to Ike.
He smiled thinly, “I sent Steve to get Amobi out of bed and tell him I was expecting an announcement on the late night news. And that if I don’t see one I would dig up enough dirt on him to shame him into hiding his face even in the minutest gathering of two.”
“You’re not a police officer at the moment… technically.” Gabrielle said.
“I think Amobi got the message anyway.”
“Thank you for that. I know it is important to me to clear my name, but don’t you think putting it on TV would give a warning to my…sister? I mean, right now she thinks she got away with it.”
Ike shook his head. “I agree it’s a gamble, but I’m hoping it would have the opposite effect and flush her out if she sees it. An experienced criminal would not be rattled by this announcement, he or she would take it in stride and change plans accordingly. But I’m banking that George was your sister’s first murder, possibly motivated by revenge. In that case she should be calming down, hoping that you would take the fall, and if she suddenly realizes she’s was wrong, she may go into panic. We are watching all the transport routes, and if she tries to make a move anywhere we would nail her.”
“You’re sure she won’t leave the country?”
“She won’t, but I’m hoping she tries. We know she might be in Owerri now so we have all eyes positioned there. If she as much as attaches her name to anything, we would get her. This is just an attempt to accelerate the process, Gabrielle. We’ll get her. Tonight or tomorrow, next week or next month. We’ll get her.”
Gabrielle nodded. “I just want it to be over, you know? I just want to go home and tell my kids and my grandmother that it’s over.”
“It will be soon.”
Gabrielle closed her eyes. “And I can’t even begin to think about how to rebuild our lives. My children would probably need therapy; we might have to take some time off to recuperate, and only God knows what else…”
Ike wanted to say something to make her feel better, he wanted to say the magic words to make everything go away, but he knew her life was still hung in the balance, and he wanted to believe with her that all would be well for her after her sister was caught. He silently wondered if he was ever going to be a part of the ‘We’ she spoke about. A tiny part of him wanted to hold unto what they had a little longer. He wanted to remain her anchor in her vulnerable times, like now, and forthis he felt a tiny resentment for himself.
His cell phone chirped, and he grabbed it while Gabrielle’s heart climbed her throat.
“Yeah?” he barked into the phone. He listened intently for some seconds and said, “Good job. Keep me posted.” He put the phone down as Gabrielle looked at him inquiringly.
“They found someone marching your sister’s description who signed up with an escort service in Owerri a few weeks ago.”
Gabrielle clasped her hands together prayerfully.
“Don’t get too excited yet. This might be a coincidence; I’ve seen things like this happen many times.”
“Ike, please let me have this one hope.”
He wanted to tell her not to bank completely on it but decided against it. She deserved a chance to hope, and he let her have that. “We will find her soon. Not too long. Imo State police are checking it out now. We should know something by the end of tomorrow latest.”
Gabrielle bit her lower lip, “I don’t know if I can stand this.”
“You’ll stand it, Gabby. We both will, because the end is in sight. You would be free as soon as we get her.” He pulled her closer, and she heard him gasp a bit as she rubbed against his chest. She stood up.
“Hey!” He said.
“You’re going to the medical centre with me in the morning.”
“Alright.” His quick resolve indicated that he was in more pain than he cared to admit.
She sat back down gently. “Hey, Ugochukwu never showed up?”
“Oh! He did, sometime during Steve’s questioning. Steve asked him to leave, and that we would get across to him if need be. Seemed like the perfect thing to do to minimize publicity of our findings.”
“Oh, okay. He just crossed my mind.”
“Gabrielle, did you know nothing about your husband?”
The tone of his question surprised her. She stared him up for some seconds before answering. “George was a stranger to my house, my children, and my bed. The man was a complete alien to me.”
He watched her searchingly, wondering how much resentment she had held for him, and how far it might have driven her, and then said, “That’s understandable.”
Gabrielle’s sister wasn’t apprehended for another week. Gabrielle spent her days with her children, trying to follow their activities and keep them calm about their situation. Things had been moving so fast and she felt like she was also losing them. The death of their father had really told its toll on them and their mother being accused of killing him didn’t make it any better. The kids were aware the police was pursuing another suspect, but not that the person was their mother’s long-lost sister.
When the call eventually came, Gabrielle was playing Chess with Ekene. She flipped the phone slowly, staring at the caller I.D and hoping for good news.
“We got her, Gabby.”
Gabrielle closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. She wondered how long she had prayed to hear those words. She couldn’t control her emotions, they were all welling up. Nelo came into the room, and her eyes rested on Gabrielle.
“They got her?” she mouthed, and Gabrielle nodded and started to cry.
“Are you sure?” she whispered into the phone, taking Ekene’s extended hand.
“She is your double. Maybe a tanner shade, but I just saw the picture they sent, and the resemblance is unmistakable. So far she has confessed to nothing, but she will. She doesn’t seem to have anything to fall back on now.”
“Where was she?” Gabrielle asked as Ifeoma walked into the room, heard the news, and joyfully hugged Gabrielle from behind.
“In Owerri. She had been hiding there and it seemed like she knew she was going to be found. The arresting officer said she went with him without protest, almost like she was waiting for him.”
“Ike, I think I would call Obiekwe and have him represent her. I’ll pay.”
“Gabby, are you sure? She might be your blood sister but you don’t know her. She is a criminal. She set you up to take the fall for a crime you did not commit.”
“I feel like I deprived her of a life she deserved with my parents. She is my father’s child too.” Gabrielle wiped her face.
“I doubt Obiekwe would take the case.”
“I would have to try.”
“Okay, if that’s what you want.”
She heard the restraint in his voice. “Ike, there’s something else. I’m not sure how you would take this, but I would like to meet her. Talk to her.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“I really want to. Would that be allowed?”
“I can pull some strings.”
“Ike, I don’t know what to say.” Gabrielle murmured, emotions still surging through her. “You saved my life. If not for you, I would have left my children parentless and gone to jail for a long time. Thank you, dear.”
Nelo took that as a cue to send the children away. Gabrielle’s kids weren’t ready to hear that yet.
“No need to thank me. You deserved fair justice.” His own voice filled with feelings. “I will call you tonight,” he added and hung up.
Gabrielle stood in a daze, trying to take in how that call had unburdened her heart.
“Did you tell him?” Nelo asked.
“What?” She opened her eyes.
“No, Nelo, I can’t tell him now. I wouldn’t want to soil what we already have.”
Nelo watched her for a bit. “Okay, whatever you say, ma’am. I just hope you’re doing the right thing.”
“Thanks for always watching after my kids and I. You’re like a mother to me.” She hugged her tight.
“Ugh! I would.”