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Cassie froze in the middle of her pacing. The fear of losing her mother gripped her. She could endure anything no matter how bad or terrible, but losing her mother was one thing she knew she couldn’t handle. The disheartening pictures of her mother the last time she visited flashed through her head. The pains and groans. The discomfort and the constant aura of death lurking everywhere around her. Those hot tears streamed down again, warming her cheeks. She closed her eyes to let them all out. Then she saw herself in a cemetery, golden casket lying beside a freshly dug tomb. She looked around at the different sad faces dressed in black; faces of the friends who turned her away, the neighbours who shut their doors at her and the colleagues who ignored her pleas. She stared on as they read their wonderful and heartfelt tribute, while they lower the casket down the tomb following the everlasting farewell from the priest. Her heartbeat increased and so did her breathing. Her lips shuddered and her legs trembled. She wailed as the sound of earth on the casket hit her ear. plus size semi formal dresses under 100

Tracey jumped up from the bed and rushed to her. She held her tightly, saving her from falling on the tiled floor. “Hey! What happened?”

“I don’t want mama to die,” she said, her voice lost in her cracking voice.

Tracey took her to the chair and made her sit. She took her hand and looked into her scowled face. “I wish there is something else I could do. I am running out of cash and you know my junior brother depends on me for...”

The sad and piteous look on Cassie’s face gave way for a courageous and brave one. “I will do it.” She froze Tracey’s words in her throat. “I will meet Alhaji.”

Tracey stood up in a slow motion. A soft smile trailed out of her mouth. “Look, I don’t want it to look like I am pressuring you into doing something bad, but you really should do it.”

Cassie stared at her, wondering if she understood really the meaning of what she just said. “I said I will do it. Just call him and tell him I am in.”

“Are you sure?”

She stared at Tracey and snivelled. For some horrifying seconds, her brain boggled to balance the moral gap between what she was about to do and the teachings she was raised with. At twenty three, she was still a virgin, not just because her mother said she should, but because she believed and understood the spiritual consequences of sleeping with a man not your husband. Yet, of what use would her virginity be to her if her mother would not be around to celebrate it with her? She sighed, took a deep breath and muttered a short prayer to God, for the forgiveness of the sin yet to be committed. “Just this once.” She stood from the chair. “I am doing it just to save my mother and nothing more." She walked to the mattress, lay down and shut her eyes in sleep.

"Everyone does it for a purpose. That’s what I am trying to make you understand.” Tracey joined her in bed.

Cassie hands shook as she signed off on her evening shift that day. The sudden change in her plan with Tracey was freaking her out. If she would sell herself off for money, she would prefer it to be somewhere outside her workplace. But as Tracey called Alhaji that morning; he told her that he was lodged in the hotel- in Eagle Heights Hotels and Towers.

Few steps out of the reception hall, she reversed and hurried upstairs. She flung the kitchen door open. “I can’t do this.”

Tracey’s eyes widened as she glanced at her colleagues who stood at still, peering at them. She dropped the cabbage she was holding and scurried to her. Her stained hand clipped her mouth. “Are you insane?”

Cassie muffled.

“You can’t do what?” One asked, dropping the egg in her hand to stand akimbo.

Tracey sighed. “Nothing.” She freed Cassie’s lips. “Come here.” She dragged her out of the kitchen. “What are you thinking blabbing like that in front of everyone?”

“I am sorry.” Cassie wiped the vegetable stains off her lips. “But I can’t do this. If he wants me, he should check out and go somewhere safe. There are thousand and one hotels in Dawnte Town, why Eagle Heights?”

“Well, you are the one who wants her. Just a dial tone and girls will swarm his room.” Tracey glanced around the quite hallway.

"But not virgins."

“Whichever! Girl na girl! Look, there is still...”

“No, call him. Tell him, I am not coming again.” Cassie made for the elevator.

“This is your one chance of saving your mother, Cassie.” She pulled her back. “Do you know how much she would pay you if truly you are a virgin?”

Cassie scowled at her. “Are you saying I am not?”

“I no talk anything. But just imagine what eight million would do for you and your mother. She could get a transplant. It would be an end to her suffering and you would end this stupid job and...”

“Wait! Did you say eight million?” Cassie’s eyes popped out. “Is that what he...”

“Oh yes.” She held her shoulders. “So you see, this is a life time opportunity.”

Cassie inhaled and exhaled same way, her gaze on Tracey, morose. “How do I get in? I wouldn’t want those girls to think me a prostitute.”

“Forget! They are all doing it, except Cindy from Human Resources; I am still suspecting her, though.”

“What? How do you know all this?”

“It doesn’t matter.” Tracey shrugged.

“Then why were you tying to shut me up in there?”

“Are you crazy? You are the Virgin Mary of this Hotel and it reflects well on me sometimes. I can’t let you dent our reputation. ”

Cassie scoffed. "Our reputation?"

“Look, there is a door at the back, by the staff quarters," Tracey said, ignoring her. "I will be by 10 pm to get you in. Then you will follow the back elevator. He is in room 666...”

“Sounds like a conference room for the devils.”

“Whatever! Just do not look at the cameras.”

“Oh my God, Tracey, that doesn’t sound like a good plan.”

“Relax. I got you.”

Cassie sighed and closed her eyes. Then she flipped them open. “You said eight million, right?”

“Maybe even more, depending on how well you rock him.” She whined her waist.

“Get lost!” Her brain began the calculation of what she would do with the money. It was a huge amount, capable of granting her mother a permanent relief from her sickness. She smiled. “I will be there exactly at ten. Don’t keep me waiting.”

“I got you.”

Both hugged and Cassie ambled into the elevator.


"You all need to see this!" An officer said from the room.

His voice reached deep down the oblivion Cassie’s soul sunk into and pulled it back to reality. She mopped as the other two officers as they dashed into the room. Her body system revived. Her blood started flowing and her legs felt alive again. A strange strength befell her. Strenght of a man running away from death. She sighed deeply and hastened down the hallway. Before she could hasten pass the front elevator, its door opened, and Ndola, the Chief Security Officer walked out.

“Cassie?” He was surprised. “I thought you were on morning shift! What are you doing here?”

Cassie iced up again. Her hands clutched on each side of the jacket, covering the blood stains on her gown.

Ndola ambled closer. His eyes caught sight of the stains on her clothes and hands. “Is that blood?” He opened the jacket and gasped. His feet lost balance and he staggered backwards. “What happened to you?”

The other three officers rushed out of the room and hurried towards them, their face twitched in disgust.

"What happened in there?” The tall one asked.

Cassie shook her head. A hot tear dropped from her eyes before she slumped.

****How well do you think Cassie handled this situation? What lie do you think she told? Is fainting the best thing for her to do? Find out in the next episode coming Tuesday, only on E C Michaels platforms. Don’t miss it.********