That evening Daniella requested that she be taken to her father’s graveside as he had been buried in her absence. Michael offered to take her but Maria insisted that they be driven as they were both exhausted. They were driven in silence till they got to the graveyard. Michael signalled the way and on getting there, they found a man standing there. Without turning he said, “you finally came”. Both Daniella and Michael were confused. “Excuse me, I do not believe we are familiar”, Daniella politely stated. “Of course we are not. You see I have been hidden from the world for too long and now I am out. I am Martin George Estiamo jnr., son of Late George Estiamo and his only biological child”, he explained finally turning. The couple were taken aback. ‘You mean dad had another child outside?’ Daniella could not believe her ears. This guy apparently knew about her which gave him the audacity to roll the word biological round his tongue. “I am Daniella Estiamo, his daughter”, she retorted. Martin looked to Michael and he introduced himself as well. “It is my pleasure to meet both of you. I am on my way out,” he said casually. He definitely had an ego, an annoying one, Daniella concluded. She was hurt that ‘dad’ had done this to her. The whole truth was out now. “I am not your child so why did you leave your whole wealth to me huh?” she asked the grave. She wanted to scream but instead she cried and Michael did not stop her. He simply watched her offering her sympathy with his presence and promising her to be here forever. He was shocked as well.
After sometime she got up and walked to Michael. She hugged him and said, “let us leave”. They went to the car and the driver was instructed to take them home. Again the ride was silent but this time Daniella’s head was on Michael’s shoulder. She sucked his strength without her knowing. He was weak because she was weak. When they got home, they found Maria in her favourite seat hugging her picture. Immediately she saw them, she got up to hug them. She knew something was definitely wrong. “Daniella, Michael what happened?” She asked. Michael simply bowed his head giving Daniella the platform to explain. Daniella walked to a seat, pulled off her jacket and fell into the chair. The other two took a seat as well. “Mother, are you familiar with Martin George Estiamo jnr.? Dad’s biological child,” Daniella asked with bitterness laced with each word. Maria smiled and that annoyed Daniella. “Mum please answer me”, her voice a bit high pitched but Maria was not disturbed. “He paid me a visit after your father’s death. He thinks he owns everything but that is a lie my dear. Do not even sweat over it. Tomorrow, there is a board meeting where I shall resolve this whole drama. Cecilia and her son will not ruin us. The two of you are expected to be there, is that understood?” Maria asked in a firm tone and the two nodded.
Maria got up and made for the stairs. She went straight to her room and called the family’s attorney. “Hello Peter, it is me, Maria”, she said casually. “Maria, I know it is you. What is wrong?” Peter asked in a calm tone. “Peter, tomorrow there would be a board meeting. I need you there with the Will to read what is left for Cecilia and her son, Martin”, Maria informed him. Peter shook his head in his office. They had already agreed on this. He could understand how Maria and Daniella must feel knowing that George had had another child outside. “Maria, I will do as you have instructed,” he finally replied. “Thank you very much Peter. Have a good evening, good bye,” she said as she ended the call. It was time to end the circus. No one would take Daniella’s birth right. At least, George had been sensible enough to protect that judging from his Will. Maria rubbed her temple and laid on the bed, deep in thought and she slept some moments afterwards.
In the sitting room, Daniella paced back and forth while Michael watched in silence. “Dad actually could not bear that he was not my father that he had to have a child outside without anyone knowing. That is just unfair Michael. Do you have any idea how I feel right now? This news will not even let me mourn the man I have always known as my father properly. What I cannot understand is why I was left so much.” She said as she vented her anger and bitterness to Michael. Michael had no answer for that and remained silent. “Do you think he was trying to mock me? You know that Martin boy or whatever he is. Did you see his ego?” she asked Michael this time facing him causing intensity to burn through him. “Daniella, I do not know if he was trying to mock you but ego, yes he has a lot I must confess”, he plainly stated. “But believe me, everything will be sorted out tomorrow”, he tried to calm her down. He got up and hugged her. He felt her fall to tiny pieces in his arms. She was shaken, terribly shaken by all these. What could he do? She had been right when she warned him about having a thousand and one sides. He had never seen her like this. He had never seen her weak, broken apart or even in tears. This experience was new, a complete deviation from the Daniella he knew. It made him want to protect her, take the pain instead, anything to give her life. Her sorrow pierced him like a sword. Every time she cried, his heart moved. He could not explain his feelings for her right now and would not attempt to at the moment. He was too busy searching for words to comfort her. He sat her down and ordered for some juice for them. They drank slowly.
Daniella’s brain was in a state of confusion. She was probably as devastated as the devil was when he was sent down from heaven (if he was). She would not let this break her down. She had an empire to run and as much as she hated it, she would have to face it. A part of her was grateful for adding Michael to the company. Many times in the past when the Estiamo and Saint Morgan companies had to merge to execute a deal, they were always in charge, spearheading the direction of the project and together they always made it work. Just as they finished their drinks, Robin stepped in to announce that dinner had been served. They both stood and headed for the dining table. On their way, Daniella decided to go check on her mum instead of sending a maid. She casually pulled off her heels she had been wearing since their return and raced up the stairs leaving the men smiling behind her. Robin looked at Michael who was obviously amazed. “Do not be to amazed sir, she does things like this every now and then”, Robin informed. “Oh! Sir, I have seen some very new sides recently”, Michael replied still smiling. Michael always referred to Robin as ‘sir’ despite Robin kicking against it. He did it out of respect knowing that Robin was old enough to be his father. While Michael always called him ‘sir’, Daniella always gave a bow after talking to him. Robin had come to like it and did not complain anymore.
When Daniella got to the room, she found her mum asleep. She gently covered her with a duvet, put a pillow properly underneath her head and pecked her forehead. She began to tip-toe towards the door when Maria asked, “and the problem is?” Daniella froze in her steps, turned around and found her mum sitting upright. “Oh! Nothing mum. I came to let you know dinner was ready but I found you asleep and did not want to disturb you. Either way I think I disturbed you,” she answered. “Oh no! You did not. I am trained to know when someone comes into my room, let alone touch me. Survival instincts sweetie, something you lack”, Maria teased. Daniella smiled and bent her head. “So are you coming down or should I have your food brought up?” she asked her mum calmly. “Never mind dearie. You both should please eat. If I get hungry, I will let you know. For now I just want to rest”, Maria replied. “Okay mum”, she agreed, walked to her mum, kissed her forehead again and then left the room. She raced down the stairs with as much speed as she had raced up and found Michael waiting for her at the dining table. She took her seat, said the grace and they both ate gradually. Robin observed them eat. It would take a long time for Daniella to be revived but the love of her mum and Michael coupled with the expectation of the family would keep her going. That he was sure of.
After dinner, the couple parted. Michael went straight to his room. His phones had been brought to him that day and he had a ton of calls to reply and make. In Michael’s absence, Daniella went to her father’s study. It all seemed fake to her, like he was going to jump out of one corner like he always did attempting to scare her. Like he was sitting on his chair, training her on business management. George had taught her tips on business. He had been preparing her for a moment like this, when she had to do everything on her own. She gently, using her fingers, ran through everything that was on the table. Everything gave her a memory to remember. The stories he had told her, how they had always planned mum’s birthday in this study. How he would ask her to sit in his seat while he would pace, teaching her. How dad, mum and herself went through her results in here. How dad always had cookies secretly in there for Daniella and himself. How they had created a signature together for Daniella. Damn! There were so many memories and all of them kept flashing. She remembered how he gushed about her wedding, how her wedding will be the talk of the century. She smiled and bent her head. Now he would never see that beautiful day. He would never meet her future husband. He would never know his future grandchildren. Wait! If she felt this way, she wondered how Martin felt. How was she sure he was not married with children yet? Deep down she felt sorry for him. All her life, she had the fame, the attention as the Estiamo heir and only child. Meanwhile, his biological child had been hidden. How old was he? He did look matured. Could he be older than her? It took a while after their marriage before she was ‘born’. Had dad cheated on mum then? Oh dear Lord! So many unanswered questions and now he was dead with the answers. She ran her hands lazily through her hair. There was nothing she could do.
She sat in her father’s seat, stroking the picture of him on the table. She saw an album lazily laying on the table and decided to go through it. She discovered it was album that began with pictures of dad. It signified his growth from when he was a toddler to him as a man. With progress, mum came into the pictures and then herself. A tear dropped. She felt the rest threaten to rain but did not stop it. Between the day before and now, she had cried more than ever. Now the tears were clouding her sight and wetting the pictures. She quickly wiped them and closed the album. She knew her mum must have dug that album out. She began to wonder how many more albums were there in the house. Had one been done about her? She remained there till early hours in the morning. She kept spinning in the chair. It was something she always enjoyed doing. She was travelling down the road of memories. Some made her smile, frown, laugh and cry harder. This was going to be tremendously hard and would break her on the inside. Grandma, poor grandma, who she had not seen yet, must be sad to the bone. The Estiamo had a trend of having one child. George was the only child of Lady Hannah Estiamo. She had had to bury her only child. She wondered what grandma would do when she found out Daniella was not an Estiamo. Hell was bound to break loose with grandma’s fury. Why was all these happening to her at this point in her life? She kept rubbing her temple. She got up and walked to the mirror. She examined herself thoroughly and saw she had diminished from her grief and stress. She could not recognise herself. How was everyone putting up with her? They understood her, especially Michael. Poor Michael, was he asleep already or was he still busy? She knew she had to check on him before she went to bed. She wondered how long he would stay with her before he left. He must be growing tired of her constantly crying. ‘What exactly was she feeling for this Saint Morgan dude?’ she asked herself over and over again curling her hair with her fingers. She decided it was time to sleep and walked towards the door. At the door she looked back and could swear she saw her dad sitting on his chair. She was imagining things.
On her way to her room, she looked downstairs and saw someone sitting down. “Yo! Saint! You not going to bed?” Daniella asked. Michael smiled and got up. “Actually Estiamo, I was waiting for you. I went to your room to say goodnight but you were not there so I decided to chill here”, Michael replied. Daniella had to smile at his sweetness. He climbed the stairs and pecked her goodnight. They both retired to their rooms. Daniella had a quick shower, prayed, and attempted to sleep.
to be continued…