Chapter 22

Duel in the Savanna
By Wanjiru Waithaka
Copyright ©2015   All Rights Reserved

February 1992

The attack came so swiftly that Bola barely had time to react before all hell broke loose.

He had noticed the white Toyota Corolla saloon car trailing him soon after he picked up Makena from Lavangwa Gallery in the city centre where she had just wrapped up a week long exhibition of her artwork. She had sold all but three of her paintings and was so excited she chattered nonstop.

He was so used to being trailed by intelligence officers from the Special Branch that he didn’t pay much attention to the car that stayed two or three vehicles behind him. But he could clearly see it in the twilight.

The ambush came as he turned into the long driveway leading to the main gate of his home. A white Peugeot 505 that had been parked on the road shoulder drove straight into the middle of the road blocking his way. Bola slammed on the brakes of his Mercedes and swerved to avoid hitting the other car.

Before he could recover from the jolt, he saw the white Toyota accelerate and stop behind his car sandwiching him in. Men swarmed out of both cars and in seconds the sounds of bullets hitting metal rent the air. Bola ducked as the windshield shattered pulling a screaming Makena down with him.

His arm burned as a bullet hit it. Something grazed his forehead sending a sharp pain streaking through his head. Another bullet slammed into his chest and he felt like he’d been hit with a sledgehammer.

Makena has to live. They can kill me but I won’t let them take my child too.

The refrain kept running through his brain as he tried his best to cover his daughter with his body. She kept flinching in time to the rapid gunfire, still screaming. It went on for what seemed like hours but in reality must have been just a minute or two. The shooting finally stopped.

Bola heard footsteps approach the car. He hugged Makena tighter and played dead. One last shot rang out. It slammed into his back and felt like someone had dropped a sack of cement on him. He heard the sound of footsteps running, car doors slammed then revving engines as the two vehicles drove away.

Don’t close your eyes. You’ll go into shock and you’ll be dead.

In response to the strident voice in his head, Bola gritted his teeth and tried to stay awake. He really tried. But he was tired. He felt the cold spreading through him. He was vaguely aware of Makena pushing his chest, trying to get out from under him.

He tried to lift himself up to avoid crushing her but his arms refused to obey the commands of his brain.

Don’t go to sleep!

He opened his eyes and fought the lethargy stealing over him. But he couldn’t stay awake. He closed his eyes and surrendered to it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When the bullets started flying, the watchman at the gate dashed to the main house and banged on the door frantically.

Maria, the housekeeper opened it and watched in astonishment as he rushed straight into the living room where Isabella sat watching television with Rose and Susan.

“Anauwawa!” She looked up startled. “Ita polisi. Wanamumaliza!”

Isabella froze for a long moment in shock then rushed to the telephone in the hallway as the watchman followed jabbering incoherently. She dialled a number. “Patrick, Bola has been attacked at the gate. They’re shooting. Please come,” she sobbed into the line. She listened for a moment then hung up.

“Amesema nini?”

“He said I stay in the house and lock the doors and windows.” Maria rushed to do just that but turned in surprise when Isabella rushed instead to the front door. “Hide the children. Don’t let anyone in!”

Mama what are you doing? They’ll kill you!” Maria’s voice was frantic with fear.

“I have to see him,” Isabella tossed the statement over her shoulder before she swung the heavy door open. “Lock the door behind me. Don’t let anyone in.”

The watchman hesitated for a moment indecision clearly written on his face, then he rushed after his employer who was running towards the gate.

Isabella froze as she caught the first glimpse of her husband’s car parked sideways across the drive. It was riddled with bullet holes. Surely no one could have survived all those bullets. “Bola!”

As if her vocal cords had also released the paralysis in her legs, she found herself sprinting to the car. “Bola! Makena! Can you hear me?” Her first look inside the car chilled her blood. Her husband slumped down partly wedged beneath the steering wheel. He didn’t move. Makena was trying to dislodge his heavy body which covered her.

“Help. I can’t move him,” she whispered, her voice raw from screaming.

Isabella tugged at the door handle but it wouldn’t budge. The watchman pushed her aside and yanked the door open. He put his arms underneath Bola’s and pulled as Makena pushed until he managed to get Bola out of the car and onto the road where he placed him flat on his back.

The watchman bent and placed his ear above Bola’s mouth. “Ana pumua.” He looked up at Isabella who let out a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding.

Headlights swept into the drive and a few seconds later Patrick’s white Land Rover Defender came into view. He stopped on the road shoulder with a screech of brakes and hopped out of the driver’s seat followed by three security guards from the hotel.

“I’ve called an ambulance. It’s on the way,” he told Isabella before dropping on one knee to examine Bola. “Get her,” he ordered his men, gesturing to the car where Makena still huddled on the floor of the passenger side seat.

He examined Bola with practiced hands as his men removed Makena from the car and laid her gently beside her father. All his men were trained in first aid. They ran their hands over her body examining her for injuries.

“She’s covered in his blood but she hasn’t been hit,” one of them remarked. “She has a dislocated shoulder,” he added pressing his fingers to the area gently as she winced.

“He pulled me down and covered me when they started shooting,” she stuttered, shivering.

“He saved your life.”

“Please don’t let him die.”

“She’s going into shock. Get a blanket,” the security man ordered his colleague who rushed to retrieve one from the Defender.

“How is he?” Isabella asked frantically from her kneeling position beside her husband.

Patrick didn’t answer, busy bandaging Bola’s wounds to stem the bleeding. He had a deep gash on his forehead, his entire torso was covered in blood as well as his upper right arm, left shoulder and both legs.

Her heart squeezed in her chest when she saw how much he was bleeding. Patrick and his assistant worked rapidly and pretty soon Bola was all bandaged up as Patrick applied pressure to the wound on his chest.

“Where is the damn ambulance?” he muttered under his breath. “Radio the switchboard. We need it now.”

The words were barely out of his mouth when a siren rent the air. Two St John’s ambulances swept into view, strobe lights flashing and halted behind Bola’s Mercedes. Two paramedics jumped out from each ambulance carrying a stretcher.

Isabella was shoved aside as they went to work checking Bola’s pulse, breath sounds and pupillary response before applying an oxygen mask and putting in an intravenous line to administer fluids. They dressed and taped the wound on his chest, put him on the stretcher and lifted him into the ambulance.

The other two paramedics had finished working on Makena. She was on oxygen and a drip with warm fluids to treat the shock. Paramedics put her in the second ambulance.

“Lavangwa Hospital,” Patrick instructed the ambulance driver. He turned to Isabella. “Go with Bola. We’ll follow you.” She got into the ambulance and sat, gripping her husband’s hand tightly.

Patrick walked to the passenger side of the Defender and opened the door. “You drive. I have radio calls to make,” he instructed one of his men. “You two stay here. Wait for the police. Radio when they arrive. Take his statement.” He pointed at the watchman who stood stock still, reeling from shock.

Patrick issued the terse instructions as he got into his car. “Find out what the hell happened,” he ordered the two security guards as his colleague put the car in gear, reversed and raced after the ambulances.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tony was just concluding a meeting with his brother at Gemini Plaza when his radio crackled to life. He frowned.

He had started carrying a radio ever since the attacks on Woodville began to ensure that he was reachable easily in case of trouble. “Sierra to Tango, come in.” The frown deepened as he glanced at his watch. 7.45pm. Patrick calling him at this hour could only be bad news.

He unclipped the radio from his belt. “Go ahead Sierra.”

“Zulu in distress. I repeat, Zulu in distress. Ditto Zulu 4. En route Lavangwa Hospital. Meet us there ASAP. Over.”

Tony stiffened. His father and Makena were hurt. He’d come up with the code, a tongue in cheek reference to Shaka Zulu since Bola was king of their family business empire. While he and James were referred to by their code names Tango and Juliett, the other children had numbers based on their order of birth.

He didn’t bother asking for exact details. For routine business Bola was referred to in radio transmissions as “Chairman”. Patrick’s use of his code name was a sign that he wasn’t comfortable disclosing the nature of the emergency on an open channel.

“Status India, Zulu 6 and 7? Over.” India was Isabella’s code name.

“India is with me. Zulu 6 and 7 are secure at base. Inform Juliett, over.”

“He’s with me. We’re on the way. Over.”

“Roger. Sierra out.”

Tony turned to see his brother already on his feet shrugging on his jacket. They didn’t waste time and immediately left for the private hospital a few minutes away. Patrick met them at the entrance.

“He has multiple gunshot wounds. He’s being rushed to theatre now. Makena wasn’t hit but she dislocated her left shoulder when Bola pulled her down to the floor of the car and covered her. The doctors tried to pop it back in but it didn’t work. She requires surgery,” he informed them leading the way down a well-lit corridor to the lifts.

“Where is she?”

“She’s just been admitted. North Wing, first floor room 109. Isabella is with her now.” They got out of the lift and walked to Makena’s room. Isabella sat at her bedside, arms around her middle rocking to and fro. “She’s in shock and has been sedated. Doctor said she’ll sleep for a few hours before they operate.”

Isabella began to sob when they walked into the room. James immediately crossed to where she sat and put his arm around her shoulders. “They tried to kill him,” she choked out the words, her whole body shaking.

“Shh, it’s okay. We’re here. It’s ok, everything will be fine,” James tried to soothe her.

Tony walked to the other side of the bed and cupped his sister’s cheek. Seeing her lying there so still, a large bandage wrapped around her shoulder, twisted his insides into knots of pain. “What happened?”

He turned to stare at Patrick who had stopped just inside the door as if reluctant to intrude on their private grief. His radio crackled. He listened for a moment, replied, then clipped the radio to his belt. “The police have arrived at the scene. I need to go. I will keep you posted.”

Tony pulled a chair from the corner close to the bed and sat, then took his sister’s hand. It was cold. He rubbed her hand between his trying to infuse his warmth into her.

“How long did the doctor say the operation will take?” he asked Isabella who had calmed down a little under his brother’s ministrations.

“A few hours. He was shot in six places.” Her voice jerked with renewed tears as James and Tony flinched.

The operation took nine hours. It was nearly dawn before the doctor appeared with news about their father’s condition. Makena had woken up a few hours before and been taken into surgery. The family had relocated to the small waiting room down the corridor to wait for news on both operations.

Isaiah and his wife Ruth had arrived, followed a few minutes later by Freddo. Isaiah’s father Makanti sat in a huddle with Gaku and Jawiri discussing in low tones. Paula, James’s wife was also present. Isabella’s best friend Salome had an arm around her friend, rubbing her back slowly in a soothing motion, occasionally murmuring words of encouragement in her ear.

Tony stepped forward as the surgeon who had operated on Bola walked into the room. Dr Solomon Gabo, a short, stocky, middle aged man with receding hair smiled, immediately putting Tony at ease.

“Your father is a very lucky man. He was shot six times but none of the bullets damaged a major blood vessel which would have been fatal,” he said. He held out a small book which Tony took. He glanced at it and realised it was his father’s diary, soaked in blood and barely recognisable.

“That was in his inside jacket pocket. It absorbed the impact of the bullet aimed at his heart. He’d be dead if not for that.” Tony clutched the little book tightly and swallowed with difficulty then handed it to Isabella who grasped it like a drowning person clutching at a straw.

“A second bullet went into his lower back. A millimetre to the left and it would have severed his spine, paralysing him. Another bullet hit the abdomen perforating a bowel. Those were the worst. The bullet in his right shoulder was a through and through. We managed to remove the other two, one lodged in his ribs and another in his right hip. The deep gash on his face was caused by a bullet which narrowly missed his head. He lost a lot of blood and his lung collapsed,” the doctor explained.

“It’s a miracle he’s alive,” someone behind Tony whispered in disbelief.

“It is. Being shot inside his car saved him.”

“How?” James asked.

“If they go through metal, bullets may have so little energy that they get into the muscle or fat and then they stop,” he said.

“Where is he now?” Tony asked.

“He’s still unconscious and in the ICU. We’ll monitor him closely for the next few days. Infection is always a major worry after these kinds of injuries, but we hope for the best.”

“Can we see him?” Isabella asked.

The doctor’s gaze scanned the room before turning back to her. “Only the immediate family can see him and only in pairs to avoid disrupting the activities in the ICU.”

“Thank you doctor,” Tony reached out and shook the other man’s hand. “You saved my father’s life.”

“Not just me. The paramedics informed me that his security did first aid and had controlled most of the bleeding by the time they arrived. That made a big difference. Most people with gunshot wounds like these bleed out before they can get to a hospital. Those men saved your father’s life.”

“Thank you doctor.” Dr Gabo nodded and left the room. Tony turned to his step mother. “Bella, why don’t you see dad first? You can go with Salome if you like. Stay as long as you want. We’ll let you know about Makena’s operation once we have news.”

Isabella stumbled to her feet still shaken from the ordeal. She walked to Tony and hugged him. “Thank you,” she whispered with a kiss on his left cheek. Then she left the room arm in arm with her best friend.

Thirty minutes later, Dr Alice Shombe, the surgeon who had been operating on his sister came and told them it had gone well. “There were no complications. She’s in recovery where she’ll stay for two hours or so while we monitor her until she wakes up. You can see her once she’s taken back to her room.”

Tony sat down heavily once the doctor left the room. He buried his face in his hands and took a deep breath, feeling the fear that had been clawing at his insides ease marginally. They were both stable. They still had a long road ahead but for now they were okay. All they could do now was pray.

He stood up to go to the ICU and brief his step mother about Makena’s operation and almost collided with Patrick at the door. The other man looked around the room then leaned in close and spoke softly. “Can we speak privately?”

Tony looked behind, caught his brother’s eye and jerked his head towards the door. James immediately stood up and followed them outside. Patrick didn’t speak until they reached Makena’s room. He closed the door as the two brothers sat in chairs on opposite sides of the bed.

“I’ve just come from the scene,” Patrick stood at the foot of the bed and looked from one to the other. He looked just as fresh as he’d been this morning when he swept his office for bugs, observed Tony, aware of how he himself must look to the other man – bags under his eyes, which were red from lack of sleep and worry.

“The police recovered 26 spent cartridges. Those men meant business.” Patrick’s voice was grim.

“Do they have any suspects?” asked James.

“It’s too early to tell. They’re chasing a few leads based on what the watchman could tell them,” replied Patrick.

“Was it the Special Branch?” Tony asked. “Leswa and his goons have been after our businesses for three years. Maybe they finally decided to get rid of dad.”

Fear gripped his chest like a metal vice every time he thought about how close his father had come to dying. And it wasn’t over. They could still lose him. Tony knew he wouldn’t rest easy until his father was out of the ICU.

“No.”

“You sound so sure.” Patrick hesitated. “Just say it,” Tony said, his voice coming out much sharper than he intended.

“Special Branch guys are very good. If they were after your father, he’d be dead.” Brutally frank, that was Patrick. He didn’t mince words. “Also, the cartridges we found were not from police issue pistols. Intelligence agents were not involved,” he added.

“Could it have been a robbery or carjacking gone bad?” James asked.

Patrick shook his head. “This was an assassination attempt. They didn’t try to take the car. They came out of their cars shooting and didn’t stop until they thought he was dead. They didn’t steal his watch or wallet. He had Sh60,000 in cash in a briefcase in the backseat which was also found intact. Their mission was to kill not rob him.”

James turned to his brother fear in his eyes. “Could they try again?”

“It’s possible,” Patrick answered before Tony could open his mouth. “That’s why I wanted to speak to both of you.”

They leaned forward anxiously awaiting his next words.

“He’s quite safe in the ICU which is closely monitored at all times. I’ve obtained permission from the hospital administrator to put one of our security people outside the doors.”

“What about Bella and the children, are they likely to be targeted?” asked Tony.

“I’ve beefed up security at the house just to be on the safe side. The security company has sent four men with dogs to patrol the grounds and farm 24 hours. I’ve also put our men at the hotel on high alert in case the attackers try to penetrate the farm through the golf course.”

“Thank you Patrick.”

Relief flooded through him at their head of security’s calm efficient tone as he outlined the measures he had taken to protect their family. For much of the night, Tony had felt like a man who was drowning, as fear and panic threatened to overwhelm him. Patrick was like a beacon, shining bright and pointing out the way in the midst of a severe thunderstorm.

“I’d like to suggest a permanent bodyguard for your father once he’s out of the ICU. Someone who will monitor who goes in and out of his room. Once he’s out of the hospital he should never go anywhere without a security team. I suggest four men in a car behind him at all times in addition to his personal bodyguard.”

“Isn’t that overkill?” James winced the moment the words were out of his mouth. He’d spoken without thinking.

“Deterrence is a very powerful weapon. A man in a car alone is an easy target. Most people will think twice about attacking two men in a car with a backup team,” Patrick explained. James nodded.

“Do you have someone in mind?” Tony asked. “I’ll feel better if we can have the personal bodyguard in place immediately. I don’t want to wait until dad is out of the ICU.”

“I’ve been in touch with my old commander. He’s recommended someone from the current squad. Smart, quick on his feet and a crack shot.”

Patrick was a former member of the Recce Company, a special unit within the GSU responsible for presidential security. The GSU is similar to the British famed Special Air Services (SAS) and the Special Boat Services (SBS).

GSU commandos undergo extensive overseas training, at UK’s SAS and SBS facilities and with Israeli’s covert Sayeret Matkal, the commando force that stormed the airport terminal in Entebbe, Uganda on July 4, 1976 to rescue 106 Jewish and French hostages of an Air France flight hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists in a mission dubbed Operation Thunderbolt.

Members of the elite unit are experts in all manner of weapons, demolition, sabotage, evacuation, sniping, reconnaissance, surveillance, VIP protection, bomb disposal, night combat, infiltration, desert, urban and mountain warfare, and survival techniques in enemy territory.

“I can set up a meeting with him tomorrow. Just let me know when you’re available.”

“Can he come here?” Tony asked.

“Yes.”

“Is 9am okay with you?” Tony asked his brother.

“Shouldn’t we wait until dad wakes up? What if he wants to choose his own bodyguard?” James countered.

“Right now I’m more worried about keeping him safe. If he doesn’t like his new bodyguard when he wakes up, he can always pick a new one.” Tony’s voice was curt.

His brother sighed. “Nine is fine.”

“The media is camped outside. That’s the other issue I wanted to discuss. You may want to consider putting out a statement on the shooting and your father’s condition,” Patrick said.

James groaned. “Dammit. That’s the last thing we need.”

“I’ve been working with the hospital security and a few of our own people to give your family privacy but that won’t keep for long. There are all sorts of rumours flying around which you need to address. We only have a few hours before people start coming here wanting to see your father. I’m not worried about friends and family as much as politicians. Akisa’s people have already been in touch. They want to know the best time for him to visit and are talking about holding a press conference here at the hospital,” Patrick explained.

“Arggh.” Tony ran his hands through his hair. He stood up and began to pace. “James, you have to address the media.”

“Why me?” his brother protested, throwing up his hands.

“You’re the oldest. With dad out of commission, you represent the family.”

“You don’t have to do it alone. We can have one of your father’s friends there. How about Jawiri? He’s had many high profile cases and knows how to handle the media. You could appoint him the family spokesman for the duration of this crisis – if James doesn’t want to do it. Tony is right though. You need to be present as the oldest son,” Patrick said.

“That’s a good idea. What do you think?” Tony looked at his brother who nodded. “We need to draft the press release.” He glanced at his watch. “Call Beth and tell her to come here. Once she’s typed it, we’ll use the photocopier in the business centre to make copies.”

James walked to the writing desk in the corner which had a telephone. He lifted the receiver and called his PA. The North Wing of Bancushi Hospital was set on two floors and had six spacious self-contained rooms, with the ground floor rooms opening to the garden where patients could relax and exercise.

The upstairs rooms each had a balcony. Each room had a comfortable seating area with a television, telephone, a wardrobe, a writing desk and a couch. Each patient was supplied with a daily newspaper of his or her choice, a fruit basket, soft drinks and unless on a restricted diet, ordered food from the à la carte menu.

“Patrick, please check if Jawiri is still in the waiting room and ask him to join us,” Tony requested their head of security who nodded and left the room.

“What do we do about Akisa?” he asked his brother a few minutes later as James replaced the telephone receiver in its cradle. The door opened before his brother could respond. Patrick entered the room ahead of their family lawyer and went straight to the television set.

“You need to see this.” He pressed a button on the remote and the set flickered to life. He switched to Channel 4 which showed a reporter standing outside the hospital holding a microphone.

“…the information we’re getting is scanty but our sources tell us that Bola Karenga is in a coma from multiple gunshot wounds sustained in a robbery at his home yesterday evening.”

Tony stiffened and he vaguely registered his brother’s sharp intake of breath.

“His daughter Makena was also shot in the incident which took place at 8pm. She is currently undergoing surgery. At the moment we have no concrete confirmation on the whereabouts of his wife Isabella who was also home during the robbery. But multiple sources suggest she may have been a casualty. We’ll keep updating you on this story as it develops….”

The reporter’s voice faded as Patrick muted the sound on the television set.

“Bloody hell!” James cursed.

“You need to release a statement,” said Jawiri.

Tony nodded. “We were just about to start working on it.” He walked to the writing desk, sat down and started composing the press release with Jawiri and James looking over his shoulder and offering suggestions and corrections. By the time Beth arrived, the draft was ready for typing.

She was carrying her trusty Canon Typestar 110 electronic typewriter which she set on the desk, connected it to the power socket, inserted the company letterhead and set to work, fingers flying over the keyboard, eyes trained on the notepad where Tony had written out the press release.

A few minutes later she removed the paper from the machine and handed the statement to Tony who read it and passed it to James who signed the bottom.

“How many copies should I make?” Beth asked, standing up.

“How many reporters are down there?” Tony looked up at Patrick who stood at the foot of the bed facing the three of them. Jawiri sat on the couch with Tony and James on chairs on either side of him.

“Last count, at least a dozen,” Patrick replied. Beth nodded, took the press release from James and left the room.

“Do we just send out the statement or schedule a press conference?” asked James.

“I’m thinking for now just the statement,” Tony replied.

“What about Akisa?” Patrick asked. Each man present weighed the options silently.

“Can we ask them to wait until tomorrow? We’ll probably have more news about dad’s condition then,” Tony finally suggested.

“That won’t work. To politicians this is a hot story. Akisa is probably also under pressure to react to your father’s shooting,” Patrick said.

“It’s not just that. They are good friends. He’s worried about him. Your father stuck with Akisa when most people would have abandoned him. Let him see him however briefly. Then we can agree on what he should tell the media,” Jawiri said.

“See, that’s why you should be the spokesman,” James chipped in.

“Ok this is what we’ll do,” Jawiri said, taking charge. “When Beth comes back, distribute the statement to the journalists outside then send a fax to media houses saying we are going to hold a press conference at 3pm. Call Akisa’s people and tell them he can visit Bola at 2pm. Afterwards we’ll have a brief meeting to discuss a joint statement.” They both nodded. “Have you seen Bola?” They shook their heads. “Who is with him now?”

“Bella,” Tony replied.

“Has she eaten anything since yesterday?” Jawiri asked.

“I don’t think so,” James answered.

“Let’s go to the ICU so that you can both see your father. Then you need to go home and change, get something to eat and meet me back here in two hours,” Jawiri said, standing up. “James, I want you in a suit.” James winced but didn’t protest. “Come on, let’s go.”

It took a lot of persuading but Jawiri finally managed to get Isabella to leave her husband’s side so that his sons could see him. Tony’s hand shook slightly as he reached for his father’s hand and covered it with his own. Bola lay so still that if it wasn’t for the beeping machines, Tony would have thought he wasn’t breathing.

He had tubes everywhere monitoring his vitals and feeding his body with fluids. Bola had always been something of a giant in Tony’s eyes. Strong and confident, his rock whenever things got tough. Seeing him lying in a hospital bed, looking so helpless and frail brought a lump to Tony’s throat.

His eyes brimmed with tears. “You’re going to be okay. We’ll take care of everything promise,” he choked out the words, the grief like a sack of cement on his chest, making it hard to breathe.

It was one thing to hear the doctor tell them his father had been shot six times. He had walked into this room thinking he was prepared to see him. But nothing could have prepared him for this.

He looked across the bed at James who looked shell shocked, an expression that mirrored his own. He too was holding back tears. They didn’t speak. Just held their father’s hands and willed him to open his eyes.

Tony was startled when a nurse tapped him on the shoulder. “I’m sorry, you have to go now. The doctor needs to see him.” Her voice was a soft sympathetic murmur, but firm.

He glanced at his watch wanting to protest that they’d just got here. Half an hour had passed. He hadn’t noticed. He got up reluctantly, squeezed his father’s hand, bent down and whispered in his ear, “I’ll be back soon dad.”

They walked outside the ICU to find Isabella huddled on a bench in tears, Salome beside her, rubbing her back in soothing circular motions. “What happened?” Tony asked, worry creasing his brow.

“I asked her to go home, to freshen up and eat but she won’t leave,” Jawiri replied, staring down at her with a worried frown.

“He needs me,” Isabella stuttered, her voice thick with tears.

Tony sighed as he watched her knowing exactly how she felt. He would give anything to stay at his father’s side until he woke up and smiled and told him that everything would be alright. Instead he had reporters to deal with. And politicians. And the businesses.

It was all on his shoulders now. His and James. Weariness descended on his body but he refused to give in to it. His step mother needed him. So did Makena. He could rest after everyone else was taken care of.

“Let her stay here. She can take a shower in Makena’s suite. I’ll call Maria and ask her to pack a bag with some clothes. One of the hotel drivers can deliver it here. Salome, please order something from the menu and make sure she eats before she goes back into the ICU.” Salome nodded and urged her friend to get up. “What about you? Can I get someone to bring you anything from home?”

“No Tony. You have enough to worry about. I’ll ask Nathan to do it, thank you.” Nathan, her first born was about Tony’s age. Salome led Isabella down the corridor.

“Where’s Patrick?” Tony asked Jawiri.

“He’s distributing the press release. Now both of you go home, eat and change. I’ll tell Patrick to send a driver to the house for Bella’s things,” Jawiri told them urging them to the lift. “I’ll stay with Bola until you get back.”

Tony shook the other man’s hand gratitude in his eyes. “Thank you.”

Chapters: Prologue 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

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