Ikenna sat in his darkened study, the light from the laptop in front of him dancing on his face, brooding over a glass filled with amber comfort. Being rich wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. He was lucky in finances, but terribly unlucky in love and he supposed karma had something to do with it. Fine, he used to be a criminal. Fine, he had overseen and caused a few deaths. But he had left that life behind him and turned a new leaf, dropping out of sight, and re-emerging with a new face and persona; a rich businessman-turned-philanthropist.
Karma didn’t seem to agree though. He always seemed to attract the most sneaky female crooks. He had lost count of how many gold-diggers he had prised off his wealthy butt. It usually started out rosy, then…they would try to dupe him or steal from him. Life just wasn’t fair.
Sighing, he glanced at the Rolex on his wrist, and returned his gaze to his laptop’s screen. He was monitoring a highly illegal trading website. Specially created for discreet transactions amongst jewel thieves, it was accessible only to the most accomplished criminals. Like the two women presently in his life.
Chinwe was beautiful, with a heart-stopping smile and the prettiest eyes. He’d seen right through her act in a matter of days. She was a thief, pure and simple. Game recognises game.
Then there was Alicia. Ikenna picked up his water-beaded glass of brandy and sipped gloomily. Thinking of Alicia made his heart clench painfully. She, he had been gaga for. She was the most brilliant woman he had ever met and he had been convinced he’d hit the mother lode of brains and beauty with her. He had welcomed her into his home and trusted her with his finances. Then a few days ago, he had discovered she had been stealing from him. She had barely made a dent in his considerable wealth, but the hurt went far beyond the money lost. She had broken his heart and had come after his greatest and most secret possession. She, like Chinwe, was after the Derinde Jewel.
All those years ago, Ikenna had dropped out of sight and changed his identity mainly because he was wanted. The Derindes were a powerful crime family, controlling lucrative and highly illegal concerns all over Nigeria. He had been a key member of the organization, seeing to the inner workings of the crime syndicate till he decided he had skimmed off enough money from the surface of the Derinde’s murky money-pond. Knowing he would be discovered soon, he had fled, but not before making off with the famed Derinde Jewel.
A 200 carat, rare yellow diamond, set on a 15-carat white gold chain, the priceless bauble had been stolen from a foreign museum by the pioneer of the Derinde dynasty. Over time, the value of necklace had increased immensely and criminals all over the world salivated over its existence, but the Derindes held onto it, their ability to keep it safe from even the most expert jewel thieves becoming a mark of their power and invulnerability.
Having the jewels stolen by one of their own had been near-catastrophic. Understandably, Ikenna still had a sizeable bounty on his head.
Now, he sat back, eyes scanning the lit screen in front of him. Daily bidding on the hottest jewels was about to begin. He was waiting out the results of his ultimate test. This morning, he had let his two lovers catch a glimpse of the Derinde Jewel, at different times. He was sure they wouldn’t know the exact history of the necklace, but he was willing to bet they would begin tentative plans to find out its value, if they had plans to steal it.
He paused, drink halfway to his mouth, as two new entries flitted across the bidding screen as soon as the website was open for business. His heart sank as he saw two perfect descriptions of the Derinde Jewel. Almost immediately, as he watched, a few interested responses followed the entries.
Ikenna sighed in disappointment, then gulped down his drink, glancing at his wristwatch again. He had expected nothing less than this betrayal, sadly. Travel plans had already been made; it was time to move on and leave the country for good. Now that the description of the necklace was out there in cyberspace, the Derindes wouldn’t be far behind.
He smiled grimly, imagining the frenzied plans the Derinde henchmen would have already begun to put in place. He allowed himself to feel a moment of pity for his two lovers. They would be left high and dry, with no jewel to show for it. The Derindes would definitely trace them down and give them the full treatment; he had witnessed their trademark savagery countless times.
He logged out and quickly shut down his laptop, hurrying out of his dark study. It was time to move on and find love elsewhere. He had known, when he set this ball rolling, that tonight, he would be killing two birds with one stone.