The next day was Tuesday and by eight o’clock in the morning, Madam T, wearing a dressing gown over her nightgown, was downstairs in the large dining room of her mansion, seated at the head of her ten-thousand-dollar high-polished mahogany dining table for breakfast.
The large hand-carved table could sit eight people comfortably but was reserved solely for the small Benson family, Madam Augustina Benson herself, the head of the family, her son, daughter, and two nephews. Her two nephews were hardly ever present as they didn’t live in the big mansion but her son and daughter did, and so she always ate her meals with them as many times as she could. It was one of the few things that brought real joy to her heart now – the sight of her children.
Charles, her only biological child was a well-built man of thirty-one, a graduate of law with a Master’s degree in Business Administration from an American university. He was tall, light skinned and very handsome, the apple of Madam T’s eyes, though she hid it well, those lovely hard eyes never gave away a thing. Even as a teenager Charles had known and indicated dislike for the family’s organized crime business. At first Madam T had tried to force him into changing his mind, even put him to some tests, all of which turned out to be huge disasters. Charles was physically strong and smart but he didn’t have the required hardness and ruthlessness for the business at all, he was too soft and kind hearted. She had finally let him go his way, particularly after she found Helen, discovered her impressive inner strengths and adopted her. After Charles graduated from the university, rather than try to get him into the family business again, Madam T bought up a big company and put him in the driver’s seat, which turned out to be a superb idea because Charles proved himself to be a talented businessman. The company had expanded a lot in five short years and was now being run entirely as an independent and very legitimate business front. Madam T’s ownership of the company was buried so deep under so many layers of offshore shell companies that it was impossible to trace.
Dressed in an expensive gray business suit and ready to go to work that morning, Charles was seated in place at the dining table, on the right-hand side of his mother. Mother and son were tucking away the last of a hearty breakfast when Helen came into the room looking like she hadn’t slept a wink the night before. She was in white trouser pajamas, her hair was disheveled, lovely face dull and eyes red and puffy.
Madam T and Charles watched her come across the room.
“Good morning, mama,” greeted Helen, coming up to the take her place on Madam T’s left side, directly across the table from Charles, but ignoring him.
“Morning, my dear,” replied her mother, eyeing her as she picked up her glass of water.
Charles watched his younger sister closely.
“You looked like hell,” he remarked after she sat down. “What’s wrong?”
Helen glanced at him as she reached for an empty plate.
“Nothing, just a hangover,” she said dully.
“You don’t drink,” he said.
“There’s a first time for everything,” replied Helen, shoveling some fried eggs and plantains from the flask pots on the table into her plate with a big spoon.
“Are you –” Charles began again.
“That’s enough, Charles,” cut in Madam T sharply. “Leave her alone and finish your breakfast then get out of here. Don’t you have an appointment at the office or something?”
Charles looked at his mother in surprise but got the ‘hands off’ message loud and clear. He glanced at his gold watch.
“I got to go, I’m late,” he said. He cleaned his lips with a napkin and got to his feet. Adjusting his suit, he went over and kissed his mother on the cheek. “Bye, mom. Baby sis, catch you later.”
Madam T watched her son walk away. Once he disappeared through one of the two wide archways to the room, she turned to her daughter, pushing away her partly consumed plate of food.
“You couldn’t sleep well last night, could you?” asked Madam T gently.
“I couldn’t sleep at all, mama,” replied Helen, staring down at the plate of food before her. She didn’t feel like eating anymore. She sighed heavily and sat back in her chair.
“You should have done the killing yourself, and twice on your first day,” said Madam T, still gently.
Helen looked her mother. “It was something I had to do myself, mama.”
“Yes, but now you regret it.”
“For the children, yes,” replied Helen. She looked away and rubbed a hand over her eyes.
Madam T frowned. “Have you been crying?”
Helen stared fixedly at the opposite wall and said nothing.
“You listen to me,” Madam T’s voice had a hard edge to it now. “We are women at the head of a large organization full of very dangerous and ruthless men, all of whom can murder whole families and think nothing of it. I am where I am today because I had the guts to kill everyone that stood in my way and kill their family as well. I started with my boss and his entire family, then worked my up. I earned my respect the hard way and it preserves me today because all those tough men looking in from the outside, they all know what it means to cross me and will never risk it. You have to earn you respect and make them fear you too. If you don’t, you are finished. Once these men see or even sense the slightest weakness in you, you are done because they will exploit that weakness to your death not just your downfall, they won’t stop there. When you get though a killing, you cannot afford to show any sign of remorse. Crying is the last thing you should ever do, you hear me?”
“Yes, mama,” replied Helen, pulling herself together quietly.
“Sit up!” ordered Madam T sharply.
Helen sat up at once.
“I didn’t build an empire to have some greedy bastard kill me and take it over as I get older and weaker. I want to live a long life and retire in peace and that can be only if you come after. You will prove yourself to everyone and you will do it very well, do you hear me?”
Helen nodded quickly. “Yes, mama. I hear you.”
“Good,” said Madam T with satisfaction. “I planned to allow you rest for two to three days before giving you your second task, but I will not do so again. You begin your second task tonight. You are familiar with my problems in acquiring that nightclub La Tormenta?”
“The time has now come to use force to get it since that stupid fool, Johnny Lee, won’t sell it to me in peace. You are ordered to go and make him an offer he won’t resist.”
“What of Chief Emmanuel? Johnny is still under his protection, isn’t he? If we touch Johnny he’s going to go to war,” said Helen looking worried.
“Then war it is, unless you are smart enough to figure out something.” replied Madam T, eyeing her daughter. “I must have that nightclub intact so I can have a place to set up a proper office, do business and receive visitors safely. This house won’t do anymore.” Madam T pushed back her chair and stood up. “You will have Bruce, Jamiu and Hector with you this time, and they are pulling their teams from all aspects of the organization. Do the job quickly and do it well. Do not fail me.”
“I will never fail you, mama,” replied Helen, eyes alive now.
Madam T stared at her daughter a moment then walked away across the room without another word or backward glance. She went through the other archway and disappeared from sight.
Alone now, Helen sat thinking for a minute then looked down at her food. She was no longer depressed, her heart was beating faster now, filled with excitement. At last, the real action she had been patiently waiting for all these years had finally come.
Suddenly feeling hungry Helen picked up her fork and began to eat.
To Be Continued…..
*Action stories of wealthy African women in organized crime*
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