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img Abigail busayo
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An overachieving Vera aspires to achieve success in Atlantic City, but her dreams hinge on marrying someone. She enters a three-year contract marriage with Ivan, who harbors a powerful secret. Unbeknownst to Vera, Ivan shields her from various threats to her life and even posing as an anonymous Angel investor to save her company from bankruptcy. When their contract expires, Ivan resumes his responsibilities to lead a secret organization, seeking vengeance for a past war that shattered the group and claimed his lover's life. Meanwhile, Vera becomes entangled in the murder of her rival, Steve Anderson, which was orchestrated by Ivan. Simultaneously, a visually impaired girl discovers her importance to the "new gods” — a treacherous faction responsible for the war. As these events unfold, the characters' destinies intertwine, leading to a compelling story of power, secrets, and retribution.

Chapter 1 I

Chapter One

Somewhere in a large mansion with ornate architecture and interior design, located somewhere in the heart of the city of Atlanta, Ivan was seated in a chair, clicking a retractable pen repeatedly as he stared at the paperwork on the table for passing minutes. His eyes ran through the letters back and forth so many times in few seconds like he was hoping to getting other meanings from what he had read.

The cluster of letters plastered on the white paper read a divorce agreement, with a long line at the bottom left for him to scribble his signature on.

Opposite him sat the pretty lady whom had placed the divorce agreement in front of him and whom he was about to end things with - Vera, a lady with a bold red lipstick, which created a beautiful contrast on lips against her shining porcelain skin and her royal blue dress. Young but with wrinkles that had crept to the sides of her eyes, indicating she was getting towards the age of mid life crisis, and skin care products couldn’t hide them any more.

Ivan’s clueless face marked one of the stark differences between he and his about-to-be-ex-wife. With a big body wrapped about in a black suit which couldn’t contain his large muscular body. The buttons of his jacket stayed tightly to his body but threatened to bust out if he flexed his muscles.

Vera’s eyes hovered around his wide and bearded face, wondering what was making him take a little longer than she had expected he would. She had thought he was going to sign the papers as soon as she placed them in front of him.

Without any further hesitation, he brought his hand on the paper and scribbled his signature, much to Vera’s surprise. Although she had wanted him to sign but she couldn’t understand why she was beginning to feel she didn’t want him to.

Three years ago, they had signed on a contractual marriage in that same room because she it had been mandated that she needed to get married to take the top position of the family company. It was a sort of trap so she wouldn’t have any choice but to marry someone who they wanted her to marry.

She had thought it had been a meaningless hindrance to stop her from reaching what she wanted and she wasn’t ready to back down because of that. At the same time, she detested their choice. Being an over-achiever, she devised the plan of the contract marriage.

What had been different that year was that Ivan wasn’t rich-looking as he looked that moment he wanted to sign those divorce papers, totally different from what he looked like when he wanted to sign for the contract marriage.

He was to be paid three million dollars as soon as the three-year contractual marriage elapsed. He was a house husband through out the marriage, playing his character when he was needed, even as far as public display of affection. He played it really well and Vera might have felt a tincture of something towards her fake husband.

Fast forward to that moment, Vera had become what she had always wanted to be - to be the most successful woman in the city. She had gotten what she wanted Ivan to help her get, perhaps even more but at that moment she felt bad letting him go like that.

She collected the divorce papers from him and slipped the divorce agreement into the brown envelope from whence it had come out, then she gave him a wry smile which he didn’t return. She brought out his cheque from her jacket and stretched it towards him. The clueless Ivan’s face instantly lit up in surprise as his eyes read the content on the cheque and raised his face to look at her. She gave a reassuring smile to him like what he was seeing wasn’t a dream - she had added to two million to the original agreement.

“That’s for an exceptional job,” Vera said to him.

Ivan stared at her for a while and turned away to look again at the slip in his hand. He muttered a thank you to her and folded it to put it in his pocket.

Vera had gotten so used to waking up and finding his bare body wrapped in white sheet in the morning that she began to feel that him leaving was going to leave a vacuum in her large house. She knew the loneliness that would follow as soon as he leaves.

“You know, you can stay here for a while. I feel a little guilty for cutting this marriage so short,” she said and chuckled.

Ivan looked through that chuckle and found out that she was going to feel lonely when he leaves. Even though he was hard on the outside, the mushiness inside him made him to second guess his decision to leave her. He was able to eventually overcome his emotions.

“No, thanks,” he said, “you don’t have to feel bad for cutting it short because it was an agreement. It was a fake marriage.” He finished his statement and bit his bottom lip when Vera fell her head. She smiled and raised her head, Ivan could see through the false smile. She simply agreed with him that he was right.

She had found him as an ordinary man three years before in a bar when she was on the search for a fake husband. He was the lucky one who she had a night stand with. She told him she was looking for a man to do a theatrical performance with for a period of about three years. He had immediately jumped on it as soon as she made mention there was money in it for him if he agreed to it; he showed heightened interest when she disclosed to him how much he was going to get after it all ended.

However, there was something Vera didn’t know when she found him three years ago. She had thought he was an ordinary man but didn’t know he wasn’t. She wasn’t aware he was powerful and perhaps more wealthier than she was.

Apart from that, he was something Vera couldn’t imagine he was or believed existed. If he revealed to her what he was, her mind would literally explode; and if she tried to fathom what he was, her brain would fry up and shrink. He was something strange and out of this world.

Peradventure she did come to understanding of him without any of these things happening, she would be a threat to his existence. Being with her might eventually lead him to fall in love with her, which must not happen because of what he was. He might die…

He was well aware of all these and, hence, the reason he had to leave before she found out who he was.

While she had been thinking he was a house husband all those while, he had been secretly taking care of problems that might have tried to raise their ugly heads. Ivan had been beheading these problems before Vera could catch sight of them or smell their presence. For instance, Vera wasn’t aware that she had gotten some enemies as soon as she declared her intention to run for the position. She had turned some of her family members into her enemies because of her defiance.

She was aware actually but she didn’t know her enemies wanted her dead.

Assassins and bounty hunters had been sent her way without anyone touching a strand of her hair because Ivan had been taking them out of her way. She had been so surprised that she had effortlessly gotten into that position. She didn’t know all these had happened.

During the three-year marriage, there was a time when it occurred that her company was on the brink of going bankrupt, and at the same time, the board of directors were on her neck to get her to step down - Ivan had secretly came to her rescue and had helped the company from sinking as an anonymous angel investor.

Consequently, she was awarded for being able to pull the emergency brake right before sinking the company into the ocean of bankruptcy. Vera searched for this anonymous angel investor for months and gave up, totally oblivious that he lived under her roof.

In so many ways, he had helped her without her knowing a thing and he was prepared to keep it that way. His time with her had ended and he needed to return to where he had come from.

Vera stretched her two arms towards him to offer him a hug but immediately retracted her hands to herself before he could see it. Ivan walked away quite hesitantly away from her and slowly began to gather pace as he walked towards the door and opened it. The last thing Vera saw of him that moment was his silhouette in bright sun before he closed the door.

She walked away from the table feeling a little embarrassed of herself. She reached her hands for a bottle of rum sitting on the table and opened it, then slowly poured its content into a cup, clumsily letting a few spills pour on the table. She gulped it without pausing as she emptied it into her throat, then making a loud grunt of satisfaction with creased brows which disappeared almost immediately. She then poured herself another cup, spilling more drops of the rum on the table again and nonchalantly left without cleaning it to stare outside the window.

Ivan walked some distance from the house, he then looked back to take a last quick glance at the white painted magnificent structure and caught the figure of someone standing at window looking down to him. He knew it was her that moment.

He plastered a dry smile on his face and waved at her. She replied with a wave where her hand didn’t go past the length of her shoulder. He watched as she walked away from the window, then he slowly turned his face away. As soon as he walked some steps away from the wide and large transparent gates, he took out his phone from his pocket after taking some cautionary looks left and right. He put a call through to someone.

“Hermes,” he said with blank eyes, “I am out of the place.”

Hermes happened to be the man who held the fort for Ivan and watched over his properties, his investments and everything of value to him while he had stooped low to act like a house husband for a rich, overachieving lonely woman woman who wanted to be the most successful woman in the city.

“There’s something I want you to do for me,” he said with an an expression that betrayed the clueless face he had always worn through out the contract marriage. The clueless face was what Vera saw all the time and was unaware of what the owner of the clueless face was capable of doing. To her, he was muscular but couldn’t hurt a fly. The other face where he had a death stare like that of an unrepentant psychopath was only seen only by those who tried to hurt Vera.

“What’s that?” Hermes asked over the phone. He had said it like he knew what Ivan was about to say. Like he knew that whatever mission he was about to send him on, was going to require the shedding of blood…

He wanted to do one last thing for her. He wanted to obliterate a person whom hated her guts and wanted her dead. He knew Vera wasn’t aware of what this person was capable of and needed to take him out before the person tried to make a deadly move on Vera.

He said, “I want you to kill a son of a bitch called Steve Anderson.”

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