MARRIED EPISODE 3

“You should have woken me up Lizzy, I

am not a baby” Jessica said. Even

though her head was still pounding, she

did not like being the last person to

wake up, only to find all the work

already done.

Lizzy smiled. “You are my baby for

today sweetheart. Just wait, Paulina

would be here soon”

“Oh no”, Jessica groaned. “I don’t need

a motherly intervention right now”.

Jessica stared at the food in front of

her, she had no appetite whatsoever

and her head ached terribly. She drank

the tea slowly.

“I am all ears Jessica” Jessica did not

need a long speech to know what Lizzy

was referring to.

Jessie sighed and decided it best to

talk about it. “Andy is a womanizing

cheat”

“Wow Jessie, that is a really strong

statement. I assumed that Andy was

the subject matter but needed

confirmation. Andy does not strike me

as a womanizer, though I can’t dispute

that he looks seriously like a ladies’

man. Women would always be attracted

to him, there is no stopping it but I

don’t think Andy is someone who jumps

from skirt to skirt”

It hurt Jessica that Lizzy was defending

Andy. “Well, he turned out to be a

womanizer”

“I don’t like people feeding you with

lies. You are married to one of the

most famous men in this country;

people want to take your place. Come

to think of it, even if this were true,

should it bother you? I mean, you don’t

have feelings for him, do you?” Lizzy

knew that she was intentionally goading

her friend.

Jessie swallowed and glared at Lizzy

for some seconds. “Of course I don’t,

and it does not bother me” Lizzy’s

knowing smile annoyed Lizzy. “I am

serious Liz, the only thing that bothers

me is what happened” she paused.

Talking about it seemed much worse.

Now that she thought of it, she could

not imagine Andy raping anyone but

common sense never makes sense to

people when faced with a situation like

this. “He almost raped Sonia”

Lizzy choked on the tea she was

drinking and started coughing. She

coughed and coughed for sometime and

breathed in deeply. “Ok Jessie” she

coughed. “I think you are imagining

things. Are you sure you don’t feel

dizzy? The drugs I gave you are strong

and you should still be asleep by now.”

“Cut it out Liz, I am not crazy. I got a

call from Sonia yesterday evening and

she asked of what I was doing. I told

her that I was home with Andy and was

about going to make my hair. She then

told me that she was coming over and

should get to the house in about two

hours. I decided to go over to the

saloon, leaving Andy at home, since

everything I needed to do there would

just take about an hour. On getting

home, I saw Andy with Sonia, struggling

with each other on the chair. The sight

was…” she trailed off.

Lizzy was looking with wide eyes and

open mouth and for almost a minute,

nobody talked. Lizzy stood up and

paced thoughtfully. “Jesus, I can’t

believe this. Andy?” the full memory of

the past evening returned with full force

and she swallowed as pain

overshadowed her. “What did they both

say?”

“What else would Andy say? He said it

is not what I think” she laughed slightly.

“Sonia said he was trying to rape her. It

is so disheartening Liz, my friend

almost got raped because she visited

me” she remembered something. “That

was when Sonia surprised me by

mentioning the one year contract

between Andy and I”

Sonia paused.

“Yes. I was terribly shocked. She said a

whole load of crap” Jessica went ahead

to narrate everything that was said the

previous night, even including Andy’s

bewildered responses. Lizzy sat down

and looked thoughtful.

“Something is fishing. I am not sure I

trust Sonia”

“Lizzy! How can you say that?”

“It is true Jessie, I don’t trust quiet

people. Come to think of it, she said

she would be in your house in two hours

time and you got back after one hour

only to meet her there”

“It happens all the time Lizzy. She

might have anticipated traffic when she

said that but met with a clear road”

Jessica defended.

“But she knew you were at the saloon

and could have gone earlier to meet

Andy” Lizzy looked thoughtful.

“Why would she want to do that?”

“Everyone loves a rich man”

“Stop it Lizzy, I can’t believe you doubt

your own friend.” Jessica was

surprised.

“I am just trying to be the reasonable

person here; I mean, if you can doubt

your husband, I see no reason why a

friend cannot be doubted. Besides, I

cannot fully trust someone who is too

quiet, just like Sonia. I can still

remember how much she lamented on

the beauty of your house and how

much you must be enjoying”

“Everyone did that, even you. I can

surely doubt my husband, or contract

husband but I have known you girls for

a long time now, I trust you”

“The same way you trusted that best

friend of yours and she stole your first

man? You can deny it but deep down,

you know that what is between you and

Andy is beyond just a mere contract”

Lizzy countered. Jessica did not have

to answer when they heard a knock.

Jessica was still processing everything

when all of a sudden Andy was

standing before her. She did not know

when Lizzy opened the door, all she

saw was Andy, standing at the

entrance, looking directly at her. As

usual, his presence was so powerful,

she could almost touch it, but she still

noticed his anxiety.

“I would leave you two alone” Lizzy

said.

“No Lizzy, don’t you dare” Jessica

yelled.

Lizzy was never known to be an

obedient child; she went outside and

closed the door. Jessica breathed

deeply. “What do you want?” She folded

her arms across her chest.

“I just want you to hear me out Jess.

Don’t sentence me without giving me a

fair hearing” Andy said.

“What do you have to say? More lies?”

“The truth. Jess, Sonia was forcing

herself on me” Jessica laughed. “I was

sitting shirtless in the sitting room when

I heard a knock. I felt it was you so I

did not bother putting on the shirt.

Sonia came in when I opened the door

so I went for my shirt but she flung it.

She came up with a story that she does

not know what I saw in her S.U. friend

and that I should have come for

someone like her. She jumped on me

before I could even think and we both

fell on the chair. It was while I was

trying to detach myself from her that

you entered” Andy landed.

Jessica smiled and laughed. She

clapped her hands slowly. “Bravo. Did

you spend the entire night coming up

with that story?”

Andy groaned. “Come on Jessica, I

know we just became intimate and that

it must be hard for you to believe me,

but trust me Jess, I can’t hurt you” he

paused. “I love you”

Jessica swallowed. “Wow… the three

magic words. Is that what you tell every

woman you sleep with?”

Andy swallowed. It had taken being in

that traffic to finally admit that he was

madly in love with Jessica. It was

something he had known for some time

but never admitted to himself, much

less someone else. “I have only told

Wendy that”

“Oh, the woman at Convy Hotel?”

Andy hated the way Jessica goaded

him. “No, my ex.” He paused. “She was

my fiancé” she swallowed. He sat on

the chair at the dinning for some

minutes without talking. Jessica was

done goading. She saw the pain that

raked through him and was deeply

touched. “She is the reason why I could

not love any other woman. She was my

first love”

“What did she do?” Jessica’s voice

softened.

“She died” Jessica gasped. “A day

before our wedding” Andy swallowed.

“She was asthmatic, I knew that and

made sure I always got her inhaler. I

was not rich then and getting the pump

at times was difficult. She was caring

and understanding. When her pump

finished she did not tell me; heck, she

should have. She was so damn

stubborn, wanting to buy things by

herself.” He inhaled. “She got an

asthma attack and the people in the

house found an empty pump. They

rushed her to the hospital but before

they got there, she was already…

already dead” she swallowed hard and

breathed deeply. Jessica could not

move a muscle. “I was busy expecting

the next day so that I can be joined

with my wife. I was at the bachelors’

night that was organized by my friends

when my friends called me. They were

told to tactically deliver the news to

me. How tactically can they deliver

that? Tell me”

Jessica went and hugged him tightly.

“It is OK Drew” she wanted to take

away the pain she saw in his eyes.

Andy was not the extremely emotional

type but he needed that hug.

“That was why I dived into work. It paid

off because I am successful today but I

didn’t have time for women. I had some

women after that but it was not

anything serious.” The feel of Jessica

drove his pain away. He pulled back

and stared into her eyes. “I would never

hurt you Jessie. You were the reason

why I became obsessed with work. I

thought about you every time and I was

using work to substitute you in my

mind” he kissed her head. “Do you have

feelings for me Jess?”

“Andy, I…”

“Please, don’t say no.” he paused. “You

know what, I would be back. Please

think about it” He kissed her cheek,

stood up and walked out slowly.

Jessica took in a deep breath, feeling

like confusion was her middle name. It

had been hours since Andy left and she

still could not put the pieces together.

Now that she was actually thinking, she

could not imagine Andy raping anyone.

She had spent a night with Andy in the

same room and he had kept his promise

by not touching her. Due to her

experience with men and how much she

had been pressurized by them to grace

their beds, she knew that men were

always very sexually provoked. But

Andy? Andy had kept his word that

night even though it meant

inconveniencing himself by sleeping on

the floor.

Sonia! Jessica exhaled. Sonia had been

just like a sister to her, the same way

the other two were to her but Sonia

was the closest. Her easy going nature

made it very easy to talk to her without

expecting an argument to come up. She

was friends with everyone because of

her quiet nature. The Sonia she knew

would avoid trouble like a plague but

now, Jessica was not sure she knew

Sonia. But why shouldn’t she? Why

should she doubt Sonia? She had known

Sonia for more than three years and

now she wanted to believe Andy who

was more or less a stranger to her. She

hasn’t even known him for five months!

Jessica swallowed.

One thing still seemed off point though.

Sonia hadn’t called ever since the

incident happened. That was very

strange. The Sonia she knew would

want to explain everything all over

again and make sure no one was

holding a grudge against her. That

Sonia would want to know if she was

OK. That Sonia would want to explain

to her how she found out about the

secret she was hiding and also find out

why Jessica hadn’t confided in her.

Was Lizzy right? Could Sonia be jealous

of her? Lizzy was right to say that

Jessica was too trusting. One would

expect that after the experience Jessie

had with her former best friend, that

Jessica would be wary of friends, but

no. Jessica still defends her friends.

Still saw the good in everyone. The only

set of people she managed to be wary

of were men, but even at that, it had

not taken much to get her to fall for

Andy, and ultimately fall into his bed.

Bed? Yes, that was another thing. She

had given Andy her treasure and the

annoying thing was that she held no

regrets whatsoever. Even when she had

told Andy that their love-making and all

that accompanied it was a mistake, she

had only said it on the surface, and she

hadn’t meant it. Those few hours she

spent with Andy, having him treat her

like a queen, was the best experience

of her life. She could not recall any

other thing being more wonderful. But

that was a problem. Jessica sighed. If

she had to leave Andy, it would be more

painful than all the other break-ups she

has had put together. But this time, it

won’t be a break-up, it would be a

divorce.

Jessica started pacing the room. Her

life was in shambles. A contract

marriage is definitely the worst thing

you can ever consider in life. She knew

she had feelings for Andy but she didn’t

think she should call it love yet. It was

a different kind of feeling. A feeling she

had never experienced with anyone.

Seeing him in pains earlier had affected

her in a very strange way. She had felt

his pain like it was hers.

“OK, where is she?”

Paulina’s voice brought her back to her

surroundings. What is she doing here?

Jessica wondered. As Paulina’s

footsteps drew closer to the room,

Jessica groaned. She knew she was in

for it.

The door opened as she sat on the bed.

“Jessica” Paulina breathed and hugged

Jessica until Jessica thought her bones

would break. “Sweetheart, why didn’t

you call me uhn?” Paulina sat beside

Jessie.

“Thought you would be busy in school,

teaching your children” Jessie

answered, although the main reason

was because she did not want anyone

to fuss over her.

“That is silly of you. You and the others

are my priority, you should know that. I

could have taken a sick leave or

something. How are you baby?”

“I am fine mummy”

“Don’t call me that. And don’t you tell

me that you are fine because you are

not, Lizzy told me everything”

“Then why did you ask?”

“Wanted to hear it from your mouth”

Paulina replied. Jessica raised her brow

casually in response. “So, what are you

going to do?”

Jessica let out a breath. “I don’t know”

“I don’t know what got into that girl.

She must be so selfish”

Jessica looked at Paulina critically.

“You think she is the one at fault?”

“You think your husband is at fault?”

Paulina countered.

“You don’t trust Sonia?”

“You don’t trust your husband?” Paulina

countered again.

Jessica pushed her hands through her

hair and stood up. “I don’t know what I

think Pauline. I don’t know what to

make of what I saw”. Jessica was more

frustrated. Paulina knew nothing about

the contract and obviously expected

Jessie to trust her husband more than

she was doing, that much was clear to

Jessica.

Paulina stood and went to stand beside

Jessica. She turned Jessie until she

was facing her. “Sweetheart, let me

give you the lesson I had to learn the

hard way: never let a friend come

between you and your man; not me, not

Lizzy, not Sonia, or anyone. Unless you

have very tangible and undeniable

evidence, trust your husband always”

**********

**********

The following day, Andy was feeling too

nervous. She hadn’t heard anything

from Jessica ever since he left Lizzy’s

house the previous day. In a few hours,

it would be time for the party his father

had organized and he still did not know

if he would be attending because there

was no way he would attend without his

own wife.

He heard a knock on his bedroom door.

“What is it Ada?” he called out without

checking who it was.

“Someone is here to see you sir” he

heard Ada respond.

“Who is it?” he yelled out of anger but

heard no response. He stood up

reluctantly and moved to the sitting

room but his anger dissolved when he

saw the person standing there.

“Jess” he breathed.

Jessica felt shaky as Andy’s gaze drove

into her. Suddenly, meeting his eyes

was not so possible. Andy did not leave

where he was standing, at the far end

of the sitting room, so she was forced

to go and meet him. Standing directly in

front of him, she looked at the floor,

then his white short sleeved shirt. “The

party is today” she said at a loss for

words.

“Yes” Andy’s heart was pounding but he

looked as calm as the open sea. “Is

that why you came”

“No” she turned away from his

overbearing presence and walked

slightly away. “But I don’t know if I can

state why I came. I don’t know if I

should put my trust in you.”

Andy placed his hand on her shoulder

and turned her. “I know you have gone

through a lot Jess, all I want is a

chance to make you happy. Please

Jess”

“I am scared Andy. I am scared that

you would crush my heart like so many

people have and I don’t think I can-”

Andy kissed her deeply, stopping her

words. She returned his kiss, as the

memories of the past few days flashed

through her head. There was no doubt

in her mind that Andy loved her. His

hands shook slightly as he held her,

with his heart racing against her chest.

“I would not make you cry again

Jessica, I promise” Andy said

breathlessly.

“I love you Andrew”

Andy smiled from the bottom of his

heart for the first time in years. “I love

you Jessica”

**********

**********

The exquisite hall was filled to the brim

with people. Andy and Jessica had

arrived late because they have been so

preoccupied with their newly found

love. Their father had sent a driver to

pick them up. They both stared at the

building with anticipation. They had

both decided that the party was very

perfect because it would be a means of

starting all over again.

Andy smiled at Jessica. “Jess, you look

absolutely stunning sweetheart”

Jessica looked at her fingers feeling

shy and nervous. She was putting on a

short black gown which clung to her

skin. It contrasted her skin perfectly

with her skin, making her eyes twinkle.

“I got you something” he pulled out a

box and opened it. Jessica gasped as

she saw the sparkling jewelry in the

box.

“Andy” she gasped. She hadn’t worn

jewelry for a very long time.

“I saw this when I was returning from

Lizzy’s place and I could only imagine

you wearing it.” He ran his fingers on it.

“May I?”

She nodded and turned. Andy raised

the necklace and put it carefully around

her neck, moving her hair in order to

secure the hook. He put the bracelet

around her wrist and put the ear-rings

in her ear. She looked breathtaking.

“Thanks” she murmured.

He opened the door and stepped out.

He stretched his hand to her and she

put her hand in his. “I hope you enjoy

your evening my lady” he leaned down

and kissed her.

**********

**********

The party was going on smoothly. The

crowd was as full as the wedding day,

with numerous family members and

friends. There was actually no one that

Jessica knew that was not there,

including her uncle and his family; her

friends and others. Andy and Jessica

had met about half of the invited guests

and were busy chatting with some

friends when their attention was drawn

to the podium. Andy’s father stood

there with the microphone in his hand.

“Hello everyone, I am so happy that you

were able to make it today. I was not

around for my own son’s wedding but

now, I do not feel so bad. I have a

surprise for you” everyone applauded

him but the smile on Jessica and

Andy’s faces vanished when Sonia

surfaced.

“Come up here my dear”

“Oh my God” Lizzy gasped as she

stared at Sonia.

“This girl here has something to tell

everyone about the couple” Mr. Williams

announced. He handed over the

microphone to Sonia, who took it with a

smile. Jessica felt like she could not

breathe. Andy was just glued to the

ground, staring with horror.

“Hello everyone”

“What are you doing Sonia?” Lizzy

yelled.

Sonia ignored. “Hello everyone, I am

sorry to inform you that Jessica is a

fraud” gasps of surprise followed the

announcement. “She pressured Andy

into marrying her so that she can make

away with most of his money. She

planned to penetrate the company in

order to escape with 20 million naira.”

Everyone had horrified looks on their

faces. “I heard Jessica telling Lizzy

this. She planned to divorce Andy once

she gets the money.” She looked

straight at Jessica. “Am I lying Jessie?”

Jessica concentrated on taking in air

and releasing it but even at that, her

breathing was terribly fast and her

chest was heaving. No! This is not

happening! She tried to shake herself to

see if she would awaken from this

horrible nightmare but she could not

even muster enough energy to move a

muscle. Her horrible life of constant

nightmares and disasters seem to be

adding another event to the pent-up

list.

“Answer me Jessica, is this information

false?” Sonia screamed.

Andy, who had been glued to the spot,

too stupefied to do anything suddenly

charged to the front, marching to the

podium. All he could see was Sonia and

he would not stop till he got to her. A

viselike grip dragged him back and he

struggled, succeeding, due to his great

strength. He did not even have the time

to check the face of the person that

stopped him as he charged forward. His

dad blocked his way and Andy almost

collided with him. The place was like a

backstage entrance to the podium so

people could not see them.

“Dad, please leave the way” He

growled.

“What do you want to do?”

“What sort of rubbish is this dad? What

kind of stunt is this? Why are you doing

this?” Andy’s hands were fisted and

ready to charge. The only problem is

that he could not punch his own father.

“I am saving your sorry ass. Don’t think

I don’t know what really went on but I

am obliged to think that this Jessica of

a girl bewitched you. I would not let the

name of this family fall into a stinking

mud because of your senselessness”

Mr. Williams said too calmly.

“How did you even find out? I bet that

stinking thing out there spilled

everything” Andy wished he could be

left alone with Sonia so he could teach

her a lesson she would live to

remember.

His dad smiled. “I knew something was

fishing when I heard you got married.

When I got to your house, I planted a

camera in the sitting room when

everyone was asleep. I did not expect

to find anything suspicious though

because you and your so-called wife

seemed so intimate.”

Andy stared, not believing his own ears.

His father had invaded his own privacy.

What on earth had given him the right?

“I felt guilty about the camera and went

back to the house to get the camera. I

played what I saw on it just in case and

saw some love scenes, just as I was

about to stop it, I stumbled on the very

interesting scene where Sonia came to

your house. I heard all the drama that

ensued and went looking for Sonia”

“Who gave you the right dad? What

makes you think you can meddle with

my life? I am a grown man dad,

perfectly capable of making my own

decisions and choices” Andy yelled.

“Even stupid decisions like a contract

wedding? What happened to a normal

wedding?”

“You are pushing it dad. It is my life.

How dare you do this to her? You may

want to destroy someone’s life but the

person involved here is the woman I

love; my wife” Andy emphasized.

“Contract wife you mean. Son, that girl

is only after the money, she has no

dignity and don’t even think of loving

her.”

Andy gritted his teeth painfully. “It is a

bit late for that. Dad, tell that demented

thing to get off the stage, or so help

me God, I would cause a scene that

even your almighty self would not be

able to control.”

Jessica, who was still standing where

Andy left her could not respond to the

challenge that was being tossed her

way by the very person she called her

best friend. Lizzy and Paulina went to

stand with Jessie but she almost could

not notice them, the only thing that

clouded her senses were the

murmurings she heard and the loud

accusations.

Her uncle suddenly appeared in front of

her, his face as tight as hard rock. He

seized her hand roughly and started

pulling her out of the hall. She

staggered behind him but he did not

slow. When they got outside, her hand

came free but pain shot through her

like lightening as her uncle’s hand

connected with her cheek. She winced

and moaned in pain as tears that had

been held in her eye socket rushed out.

“How dare you Jessica” he roared.

“How dare you shame our family like

this? How can you stoop so low? Tell

me” he growled.

“No…” Jessica sobbed. “Dad, I…”

“Don’t call me dad; don’t you dare. We

are not rich but then, we are not

hungry. Were you so discontented?”

Her uncle’s wife pushed through the

crowd that Jessica was just noticing.

“Funsho! Stop this” she tried to calm

him down. “We have not heard her own

side of the story”

“What does she have to say? She does

not look ready to protest”

What could Jessica say? That she had

actually married Andy for 20 million

Naira but not the way Sonia had put it?

That she had decided to forfeit the

money? That all their declarations of

love had been a perfectly rehearsed

drama? No! She could not say anything.

In fact, it might just make things worse.

She looked at the faces of people who

had gathered, seeing so many friends of

hers, seeing so many people who had

attended their wedding, seeing their

best man who was Andy’s best friend

and some of Andy’s friends and family

members. They all had the look of

hatred and disgust on their faces. Some

were stunned and many murmured

continuously. She took to her heels and

started running as fast as her legs

could carry her, even though she wore

high heeled shoes.

Andy charged through the door. “Where

is Jessica?” he yelled. No one was

ready to give a reply but as he saw a

familiar figure running ceaselessly, he

ran after her. As he ran, he yelled her

name but she did not slow down. Andy

did not know if he was feeling rage,

worry or confusion, all he knew was

that he wanted Jessica to be alright.

The heels were really affecting Jessica

but she continued running. She just

wanted to run. She could still hear all

the voices in her head as she cried.

She stopped abruptly and started

tugging off her shoes. She did not care

if her bare feet got severe injuries by

running without her shoes. She felt she

would be glad if a physical pain could

take her mind off the incident that just

occurred. She continued to sob

furiously as she gathered the shoes in

her hands and started running again.

Andy’s arms closed around Jessica

immediately, dragging her against him

forcefully. She did not know that she

was being followed but even as the

familiar hands wrapped around her, she

started struggling.

“Please Jessica, sweetheart, please

calm down”

Jessica struggled and shook in his

arms. “Leave me…” she cried. “Let me

go Drew”

“No, Jess. Let me hold you”

Jessica had no more struggles. She

buried her head against his chest and

cried. Andy’s heart was shattered into

pieces. It took all his willpower to stop

him from crying. Seeing Jessica so

heartbroken and shattered was more

than he could handle.

“I am ruined Andy.” Jessica wailed.

“Why can’t I just die? Tell me Drew.

Why does God hate me so much” she

cried.

Andy was not sure he had answers to

any of the questions she asked. He

hugged her tightly. “It is going to be

alright Jess. I love you, nothing can

change that. We would get through

this” he kissed her head and held her

close. He called the driver that brought

them to the party and within minutes,

the driver arrived. Andy was happy that

the driver had not witnessed all that

took place because the driver looked

shocked when he saw Jessica crying.

“Is everything OK ma’am?” he asked

with concern.

Jessica could not answer.

“She would be fine” Andy replied and

took Jessica to the backseat, sitting

beside her also. The driver picked up

Jessica’s shoes and purse which was

scattered on the road and put them in

the car as he got behind the wheels.

Andy pulled Jessica back into his arms

and she rested her head on his chest.

Jessica sniffed and swallowed as her

tears stopped. Andy stroked her head

slowly and kissed the top of her head.

He felt responsible for this occurrence.

He never should have accepted the idea

of a party, especially one which was

being organized by his own father. His

father had always been mischievous

and spontaneous when it comes to the

family name. To his father, nothing was

more important and anything should be

done when something untoward

surfaces, even if it meant having a

sacrificial lamb.

Jessica was already asleep when they

arrived home and he was greatly

relieved. He carried her inside the

house and straight to the bed. When he

placed her on the bed, she sniffed like a

baby that just finished crying and folded

her knees, towards her chest. Andy

swallowed and kissed her cheek as he

ran his fingers through her hair. His

temples throbbed. He had promised to

protect her and make her happy but no,

all he had been able to give her was

more and more pain. He felt terribly

devastated. He wanted to remove

Jessica’s clothes and jewelries so that

she would sleep more comfortably but

he remembered that she did not get

anything to eat at the party before it

crumbled. He covered Jessica with a

blanket and put on the air conditioner.

He went to the kitchen but did not see

any food there. Cooking seemed to be

out of it because he did not feel up to

it so he picked up the car keys and

wallet and left the house to get food at

the eatery.

He wished he had not relieved the

driver, he would have sent him to get

the food while he held Jessica as she

slept. He thought of how small she

looked as she slept; she looked like a

little girl who was afraid of a stormy

rain. After he got the food, he got back

into the car and drove home. He locked

up the doors and went inside the room

but received a very big shock when he

found the bed empty.

**********

**********

Sonia left the podium, feeling very low.

She had just acted a script for personal

benefit at the expense of her friend’s

happiness. Sonia had always been

jealous of Jessica’s pronounced beauty

even though the person in question

seemed not to notice it but instead,

tried in vain to look unattractive. She

started wearing various flashy clothes

just to feel more beautiful whenever

Jessica was around and her job at the

bank enhanced it but Jessica never

even noticed this act, no one did

because Sonia was very discrete. Her

jealousy had turned to envy when

Jessica announced that she would be

getting married to the richest bachelor

in the country. Why couldn’t it be her?

Why was it always Jessica? All this

questions had clung to her

subconscious. Jessica noticed that

Lizzy was becoming closer to Jessie

than she was and she became

suspicious then one day, she got the

golden ticket when she eavesdropped

on their conversation and heard them

talking about a contract. All that came

to Sonia’s mind then had been to

snatch Andy by seducing him but when

she found out that he was loyal to

Jessica and even seemed to have

feelings for her, she became confused

but the answer came looking for her.

“Sir” she called when she sighted Mr.

Williams. “My job is done and your son

is not involved, he appeared to be the

victim of the whole scheme”

“Yes, good job” Mr. Williams said dryly.

Sonia canceled the irritation she felt at

the nonchalant dismissal. “Sir, if you

would give me my due, I would be on

my way”

The elderly man faced her slowly. “You

said that lady is your friend. Don’t you

feel guilty for what you did to her?”

Sonia was thrown off balance by the

question but after thinking about it she

decided. “No. I am doing the right

thing. What they both did is wrong. No

one should get married for money. She

got what she called for” Sonia

remembered how stunning and

sophisticated Jessica had looked when

she arrived at the party. She looked

perfect and everyone’s eyes, especially

the men had followed her around. He

could almost feel the jealousy in their

eyes as well as the desire to be in

Andy’s position. The ladies had also

admired her beauty and coveted it.

Sonia remembered the golden costume

jewelries that Jessica wore and anger

clouded her senses. She had no doubt

that the jewelries would cost a fortune.

Mr. Williams looked at the woman in

front of him and shook his head in

disgust. “You are the worst friend a

human being can have, it would be

better to be friends with the devil

himself.” The words stung Sonia

painfully. He withdrew a check of 10

million Naira and gave her. “I don’t want

to set my eyes on you again”. He

turned and walked away.

**********

**********

“Jessica” he called out with his heart

pounding but did not hear any response.

Alarm bells rang in his head and he

flung the package he was holding, not

caring where it landed. “Jess” he called

louder. He checked the toilet and every

corner of the room but did not find her.

He started searching everywhere in the

house, yelling ‘Jessica’ but he got no

response. He hurriedly unlocked the

door and went to his gateman.

“Did Jessica leave the house?”

“Yes, oga. She just commot, she no tell

me anything”

“Oh my God” He groaned. “Why did you

not stop her? What is happening for

Christ’s sake?”

“Oga, abeg no vex”

“Shut up and open the bloody gate.”

Andy yelled. The young man spun into

action.

Andy jumped into his car and drove out

with his blood boiling. He started driving

and searching for Jessica. He

crosschecked everyone twice even

though he knew he would identify

Jessie immediately he sighted her.

After more than thirty minutes of

fruitless search, Andy had to confront

the fact that Jessica was nowhere to

be found.

Mr. Williams paced his sitting room

slowly with a wine glass in his hands.

His thoughts were in disarray. Thinking

back, he was not happy with what he

did. When he had planted that camera,

he hadn’t expected to find something

so pathetic. The couple had portrayed

the act of close intimacy when he saw

them. The look in his son’s eyes when

he stared at his wife was one of longing

and desire. It had been so perfect.

Little did he know then that it was all a

script. That his son could act so

perfectly was so unbelievable.

Love. He remembered that Andy had

mentioned something about being in

love with Jessica. ‘He’d better not’ he

thought firmly. He knew that that

woman was so stunning and that any

man would fall senselessly for her.

Even he himself was floored when he

saw his daughter-in-law, but he later

realized that the little wench was using

her exquisite beauty for other means.

How perfect it is to make Andy fall for

her; it would be easier for her to extort

money from him. 20 million was nothing

but he could not allow a woman to toy

with his son’s heart. The poor boy

hadn’t been able to get over the death

of his love, it would be terrible if he

falls in love with the wrong person this

time. Mr. Williams drank from his cup

slowly. He felt a little guilty for turning

the tables, making the girl to bear all

the consequences by publicly

disgracing her but he had no other

option. He didn’t want his family name

to get soiled, so he decided to coin a

believable lie out of the truth. The mere

fact that the contract was already

known by an outsider like Sonia, made

Mr. Williams know that it was only a

matter of time before everyone found

out. He had to quickly find a solution

and…

The door burst open, making Mr.

Williams turn instantly.

“Where is she?” Andy growled as he

stormed the massive sitting room,

moving to his father and covering the

space with charged long strides.

“Where is who?”

“Don’t play coy with me dad, I am

warning you. Where is Jessica?” Andy

barked

“She is your contract wife, shouldn’t

you know her whereabouts?” Andy’s dad

threw back.

Andy fisted his hands and gritted his

teeth. “Damn it dad” he hit his fist

furiously on the bar stand. “If you have

done anything to Jessica, I promise not

to spare you. What did she do to you to

deserve this? I proposed this contract,

not her; why can’t you carry out your

frustration on me?” He yelled. “Tell me

dad”

Andy faced the exit and walked towards

it. He paused and turned. “If anything

happens to Jessica” he breathed and

pointed at his dad. “If ‘anything’ should

happen to ‘my’ Jessica” he looked like

he wanted to say more but just stood,

fuming and pointing at his father. He

dropped his hand and stalked out

**********

**********

Lizzy marched into the small building

with anger roaring inside her. She

couldn’t recall ever being this angry in

her life. Sonia had betrayed their

friendship in a very disheartening

manner. She had suspected Sonia’s

jealousy when she would not stop

ranting about how rich Jessica had

become but Lizzy had shrugged it off. If

she had been told to guess what the

quiet Sonia was capable of, not in a

thousand years would she assume that

Sonia would do something as grievous

as this. Lizzy had taken Jessica and

the other girls like sisters but she saw

Lizzy as more of a sister to her even

though Jessica seemed to like quiet

Sonia more than everyone else. But

even at that, Lizzy had always wanted

the best for Jessica.

When Lizzy got to the door, she paused

for some seconds and took three

calming breaths before raising her hand

to knock the door but the knock was

still harder than she had wanted. She

swallowed and waited, hearing nothing.

She raised her hand again and pounded

the door harder because the lights

made him know that the house was not

empty. She tapped her right foot

restlessly as she waited.

“Who is it?” Lizzy heard Sonia’s voice

loud and clear, just behind the door and

decided to keep quiet. The door opened

slightly and Lizzy pushed the door

forcefully and it went ajar, making

Sonia to stagger backwards.

“Lizzy” Sonia gasped, frightened.

Lizzy rewarded Sonia with two

resounding slaps on each cheek and the

sound echoed round the room. A

startled cry escaped Sonia’s lips and

she forcefully shut her mouth.

“You” Lizzy grounded. “How dare you”

she said through clenched teeth. Lizzy

grabbed Sonia by the neckline of her

dress, shaking her like a ragged doll.

“Let go” Sonia gasped out.

Lizzy laughed and held Sonia’s cloth

more firmly in her arms, making Sonia

struggle. “And if I don’t, are you going

to beat me?” Lizzy laughed the more.

“You see bitch, unlike you, I cherish the

people I call my friends and I don’t stab

them in the back, but when they betray

me, like you just did to Jessica, I

bounce back. I can squeeze the living

daylight out of you” Lizzy shook her

head in disgust and pushed Sonia away,

leaving her cloth. Sonia tried to

regulate her breathing and Lizzy look

around her for the first time. She saw

travelling bags and packed things. She

smiled tightly and glared at Sonia.

“There is no peace for the wicked, is

there? How perfect of you to destroy

someone’s life and run away. Tell me,

how much were you paid? Say it Sonia;

how much are you worth?”

“None of your business. At least we

know that Jessica is worth 20 million

Naira” Sonia croaked out.

“I am very sure you are worth less than

that” Lizzy returned, astounded that the

filthy girl could still open her mouth.

Lizzy’s phone rang, shattering the

exchange of glares. She fished out the

phone and her anger instantly turned to

surprise and anxiety.

“Hello Andy” she breathed. “What do

you mean?” Lizzy’s frown deepened and

Sonia became agitated. “Well, of course

she is not with me. I thought you went

after her” Lizzy’s voice is high now,

with confusion. “Oh my God” she

breathed. “Oh my God” Lizzy’s hand

dropped and she became blank and

pale. Lizzy looked lost for some

seconds as she stared at the ground,

trying to process what she had just

heard. She raised weary eyes and

bubbled with anger when she saw what

looked like worry on Sonia’s face. What

a bitch!

“You better pray… You better pray that

nothing happens to Jessica. Pray that

nothing happens to my friend because if

not…” Lizzy advanced towards Sonia,

glaring at her until they were just a

breath apart. “I will find you. Even if I

have to comb the entire planet, I would

bet you, and then, you would wish that

you never knew Lizzy. You would seek

death and you won’t find until you wish

you had never been born. I Promise

You” Lizzy passed that same message

with her eyes and marched out.

**********

**********

“Funsho” Mrs. Adams said as she

climbed out of the car. “Just accept

that you made a mistake, that is all”

“Well, I have not done anything wrong.

For God’s sake woman, are you blind?

Can’t you see what Jessica has put

herself into? Not to mention what she

has put this family into”

Florence shook her head. “I am not

saying that she did the right thing, all I

am saying is that you should have at

least given her the opportunity of

defending herself. She is our family and

we should believe her above every other

person.”

“Come on, didn’t you see her eyes? It

was obvious that it was the truth.”

“But even at that, I won’t blame her

terribly. She has suffered a lot in life, I

can only imagine her reluctance about

giving her heart out again when men

had made her life a living nightmare,

especially that fool that left her at the

altar. She is going through a lot”

Funsho sighed and pushed his fingers

through his hair. His wife had a point,

maybe he had been too hard on

Jessica. He could have sought answers

in a more private environment. His

phone rang and he frowned when he

saw the name. ‘Son-in-law’. His wife

became anxious when she saw the

caller and she pressed the answer

button, also putting the phone on

speaker.

“Hello sir” they heard Andy say and also

heard the restlessness in his voice.

“Hello Andy, is everything alright?” the

question seemed odd since everything

was already in disarray.

“Not really sir, I just wanted to know if

Jessica is with you”

The alarm sounded in Funsho’s head.

“She is not here” he breathed out.

“Where is Jessica?” Florence asked,

feeling a cold chill sweep over her.

Andy seemed to swallow. “I don’t know

ma’am, I have been looking for her but I

can’t find her. She seemed to have just

vanished”

“Oh my God!” Florence squealed. The

call ended instantly and Funsho started

blaming himself, internally. His wife was

right. He had been so tough on Jessica

and now, she has gone missing.

**********

**********

Andy was frustrated as he drove

furiously. It was now very dark and he

could hardly see anyone on the street

but he could not imagine himself going

to sleep when his wife was obviously

missing. To crown up his worry,

Jessica’s phone was with him. He had

seen it on the bed after he had called

several times. He could have had the

phone tracked down if the phone had

been with Jessica. He could not tell if

Jessica ran away or if she was

abducted. The latter seemed impossible

though, as he thought of it. Everything

that had happened still seemed like a

really bad nightmare and Andy was

having a hard time believing that it was

reality but someone would pay;

someone had to pay for all these. And

who else would pay except the very

person that started this commotion.

He parked outside the building. He had

only been there once before the

wedding but now, as he marched

towards the door ahead, he formed his

palms into fists, trying to control

himself. When he got to the door, he

pounded loudly. When he got no

response, he pounded again and the

door shook but still he got no response.

“Open this damned door Sonia” He

roared but still got no response. Andy

moved back and with enough strength,

kicked the door. The door seemed to be

more cooperative as it flung open

instantly. He looked around in horror but

could not find Sonia. He noticed that

the house was in disarray and most of

the luggage was not there. There and

then, he realized that he had come too

late. Sonia had saved herself by running

away. He groaned and turned round. He

saw two to three people who had come

out of their own apartments to confront

him. Immediately they saw him, they all

seemed to register who he was and

they all held their tongues. He

swallowed and marched out of the

house, entering car in anger and

zooming off.

It was already one week and no one

had caught sight of Jessica or heard of

her. The tension was so thick that no

one knew what to do anymore. Andy

had pulled all the stunts he could with

his endless streams of connections, the

police were all out, searching for

Jessica with pictures of her all over,

with a huge amount of money for

whoever provides a lead. So many

people had called, giving them false

leads just for the ransom, and even

though Andy always paid the people

handsomely, the leads were fruitless.

Andy was not worried about the money,

not even a bit. He already had more

than enough money to last a lifetime

and money still comes in every minute.

Everything would be in vain to him if

Jessica wasn’t found.

Andy had bags under his eyes, due to

lack of sleep as he moved himself to

the office. He was almost going crazy

because as he drove, he continuously

scanned faces of the people who

walked by. He hadn’t gone to the office

ever since Jessica vanished and it took

the constant persistence of his best

friend to make him decide to go to the

office.

“Good Morning sir” a staff member

greeted shyly as she batted her eyes.

Andy murmured a response, without

looking at her and marched into the

building, leaving the girl feeling

neglected. For the very first time, Andy

did not feel like being in his own

company building, he was just too

worried. The strong aching of his heart

was so intense that he did not think

that work could take his mind off it.

As he sat behind the table in his extra-

wide office, the door to his office

opened and Tunji entered. Andy was

not sure if seeing his best friend was a

welcome development but he just sat

there without uttering a word.

“Hey man, what is going on?” Tunji said

as a way of greeting.

Andy breathed. “Is it not obvious?”

“Frankly, no. I don’t know why you

should bother yourself over that gold-

digger.”Andy’s eyebrow shot up,

warning. Tunji sighed. “Look man, I was

at the party for God’s sake, I heard

everything, and I just don’t know why

you are so obsessed with finding her

after all you heard. I know it must be

hard, she is a very stunning woman with

an exquisite beauty that can’t be

rivaled. She has a temptingly sexy

body…” Andy’s eyes narrowed

dangerously and Tunji had to pause his

analysis.

“I can see you have a clear picture in

your head Tunji” Andy dropped sourly.

Tunji blinked and stared at Andy. “Wait

a minute; don’t get all jealous, I am just

stating the facts. You have to get her

off your mind. She does not deserve

you”

“Stop this nonsense Tunji; I am the one

who does not deserve her. She is hurt

and missing and it is my entire fault.”

Tunji looked puzzled.

“Everything that was done and said in

the party is a frame up Tunji”

“What does that mean?”

Andy swallowed. “Before I got married

to Jessica, we signed a legal agreement

to dissolve the wedding after a year,

after which I would give her twenty

million Naira.”

Tunji whitened. “You are kidding”

“Dad found out and destroyed

everything by making Jessie look like

the villain. He is obsessed about

protecting the family name; couldn’t he

think of how Jessica would feel? How

disgraceful and humiliating this is? I am

at fault; she did not want to agree to

this ridiculous plan at first. Christ, I am

so screwed up” Andy was pacing.

Tunji was still taking time to process

the information he had just heard.

Somehow, everything started making

sense. Andy’s sudden wedding which

sprang up out of nowhere, working

during his honeymoon and a host of

others.

“I can tell that something must have

changed between you two”, he

murmured but Andy was silent. “You

have developed feelings for her Andy”

he stated matter-of factly.

Andy ran his hands through his hair. He

exhaled heavily. “Why did dad interfere

in this? For the first time in years, I find

myself going crazy over a woman but

before I can even relax enough to enjoy

the blissful sensation, it is ruined.” Andy

swallowed. “And now, I don’t even know

where she is. What is something had

happened to her? What if she did not

run away like everyone is making me

believe? What if she is worse or

worse…” he could not finish that

statement. The thought alone was

frightening. He clenched his jaw. “I

would find her; if it is the last thing I

do”

Tunji just stared at Andy. He had never

seen Andy so agitated and restless.

Andy always posed an indifferent front,

no matter the situation but it seems

that Jessica had really gotten under his

skin. He had found it hard to believe

that Jessica was capable of doing what

she was accused of at first but later, he

had had to accept it, judging by

Jessica’s facial expression. Tunji

walked to Andy and patted him on the

shoulder. “Does she feel the same way

you do?” he asked. Before Andy could

answer, his phone rang and Andy

jumped at it.

“Andy Williams” he said immediately he

picked up. “What… Are you sure

ma’am…? You are sure you are not

making a mistake?”

Tunji looked anxiously at Andy,

wondering what all the fuss was about.

Andy was looking stupefied.

“Where exactly ma’am” Andy asked,

frowned and then nodded distractedly.

“I would be there as fast as I can”

“What was that about?” Tunji asked.

“The caller said she just saw Jessica.

The place seems odd though”

“Where”

“A cemetery”

“What?” Tunji exclaimed. “I am sure it is

false”

“What if it is correct? I am not taking

the chance.” Andy picked up his car

keys and started walking out.

“Well, wait for me man”

**********

**********

Jessica sat by the graveyard of her

parents. It had been a really terrifying

week for her and all she had been able

to do was cry. Everywhere she went,

she was conscious of people staring at

her. Even when they were not really

staring at her or when it was obvious

that their stare was a result of her

beauty, she still did not accept it. Her

reputation had been destroyed, her life

had just been ruined and it was all her

fault. She should never had gotten

married for money. It was the most

stupid mistake she ever made in her

entire life. She had wanted to talk

about the contract with Andy but she

hadn’t wanted to shatter what they had

just started experiencing.

Missing Andy was much more painful

than she thought, she had lost her

appetite completely and she needed no

one to tell her that she had lost weight.

She felt lighter and the breeze seemed

stronger than usual. It was as though it

would sweep her off her feet.

As she sat at the tomb at the

cemetery, she shivered as she tried to

hold back her tears. She had always

hated burial grounds and being there,

where several tombs lay, she was

terrified but she could not leave. Ever

since her parents had been buried, she

hadn’t had the courage to visit their

tomb, not to mention her brother’s

tomb. She did not think she would be

able to visit her brother’s tomb, it was

just too depressing. She dropped one

bouquet of flower on her dad’s tomb

and dropped the other on her mum’s

tomb. The tears that she held at bay

suddenly started rolling down her

cheeks. She had cried and cried all

week and now, she was surprised that

she still had water left in her eyes.

“Oh mum, why did you leave me so

soon? Uhn?” she sat at the foot of her

mum’s tomb and cried. “Why did you

leave your Jessie? I need you so much

mum” her hands shook as she held her

hand to her mouth slightly, trying to

stifle her sob but it was not working. “I

am all alone mum. You all betrayed me.

You and dad and brother left me all by

myself; why did you not take me with

you? Why?” She cried and could not

control her tears anymore. She cried

and cried until she had no strength left

in her anymore. All her strength had

vanished, coupled with the fact that she

hadn’t been eating.

Jessica sagged against the tomb and

gasped when she heard her name. She

stared at the tomb. “I am hallucinating

mum, I am beginning to hear voices.

Am I running mad.

“Of course not”

Her head turned instantly and almost

fainted when she saw Andy. Her eyes

rotated and she could not even place

where Andy was standing. She bolted

up but her legs could not carry her. She

swayed and vaguely felt Andy’s arms

catching her. “Drew”, she breathed

inaudibly and passed out.

**********

**********

A splitting headache woke Jessica up

and she winced. She felt heavy and

boneless. Andy was beside her and she

realised that she hadn’t been dreaming.

He looked weak and lean. Guilt overtook

her instantly because she knew that her

departure would have affected Andy but

she couldn’t even think about that then.

She still would not think about it now.

“Oh Jess” Andy breathed and then it all

came rushing back like a tidal wave,

hitting Jessica and making her shiver.

She suddenly wanted to cry.

It seemed like an eternity had passed

and having to hear Andy’s voice again

was so unbearable.

“Drew” she whispered.

Andy kissed her eyes, kissing away her

tears and running kisses all over her

face before kissing her mouth, long and

deep. He had watched her sleep,

scanning every inch of her body to be

sure she was OK.

“Oh my God Jess, I have almost gone

crazy. Why did you do this to me honey”

he kissed her. “Come on, you must eat

something, you look so thin” Andy was

searching for what to say.

“I have to go Andy” Jessica said

immediately and jumped up instantly

even though her body was a bit heavy.

Andy frowned deeply. “What does that

mean?” He grabbed Jessica’s hand as

she made for the door. “I would not let

you leave Jess”.

Jessica closed her eyes briefly and

swallowed. “I want a divorce, Andy”.

Mr. Williams stood by the massive

window of his extra large house. Guards

stood motionless in strategic positions

but all their faces were stony. Andy’s

dad now felt a measured level of regret

for what he did to Jessica. The poor girl

did not deserve the kind of treatment

he had given her. Andy’s confession of

love, coupled with Jessica’s

disappearance made him know that

what he had seen when he visited them

was not a drama. If what he had

glimpsed that night hadn’t been a

drama, which he doubted now, then, he

was sure that Jessica must have

feelings for Andy also. Frankly, he had

never seen Andy as devastated as he

had been for the past week; it was like

replaying the tapes of Andy’s reactions

when he found out that his wife-to-be

was dead. He wanted his son to be

happy – that was what he promised his

wife – but all he had succeeded in

doing is add to his sorrow.

Mr. Williams drank from his cup slowly.

He should make things right

immediately they find Jessica. He

prayed in his heart that she was safe

and not in harm’s way, if not, he won’t

be able to forgive himself. Andy would

surely never forgive him if anything

happened to Jessica. Even if he found

Jessica, how would he make things

right with her?

**********

**********

Andy’s hold on Jessica’s arm slackened

as he stared at her, horrified. He just

could not believe she had just

mentioned the seven lettered word like

it was nothing. ‘What is going on here’

he mused. Several emotions crossed his

face; bewilderment, hurt, anger.

Jessica saw these expressions and she

felt her heart sinking. She never wanted

to cause Andy any pain but right now,

she was not even sure if Andy had

feelings for her. Why would he? She is

nothing but a nobody who agreed to

marry him for 20 million Naira while he

is the most eligible man that ever

walked the surface of the earth. Every

woman had their eyes fixed on him,

wanting him, no matter the cost. Apart

from being so distractingly attractive,

he is also terrifyingly wealthy with a

capital ‘W’. How would she be able to

keep up with him? It is obvious that she

and Andy are both from two totally

different classes, and even though she

had had a taste of what it would feel

like being rich when she was small, that

does not seem to apply to this situation

because, compared to Andy’s wealth,

that still passes as being poor.

“Sit” Andy said instantly, snapping her

out of her thoughts.

She turned puzzled eyes to him. “What?

I am not-” Jessica murmured.

“Sit down Jessica, now” Andy rarely

showed his controlling side but when he

does, it can be a little scary. Jessica

felt like a five year old when she finally

sank her butt on the bed, gazing a bit

angrily at Andy for making her feel so

little. Andy grabbed the tray filled with

food and put it in front of Jessica,

carefully keeping his face blank.

“Eat up” he murmured, staring straight

into her eyes. “All of it. We would have

this discussion when you are through”

Andy marched out of the room.

Jessica stared at the food in total

confusion. Just seeing Andy had

brought back part of her appetite but

she doubted she would be able to finish

half of the food set before her.

Swallowing gently, she picked up the

extremely big chicken and took a bite.

It tasted so good that her stomach

growled in response. She picked up her

fork eagerly and scooped the

fascinating fried rice into her mouth. A

moan of delight escaped her lips as she

became instantly aware of her empty

stomach. The fried rice had so many

ingredients and colours, exactly what

she needed after a hunger strike. She

smiled dryly but the pain she felt

overshadowed her, almost making her

lose her appetite.

Knowing that Andy would not be

pleased, she struggled to eat as much

as she could manage. When Jessica

could not take more, she was surprised

that she had eaten a bit above half of

the food. She picked up the chicken

and peeled off the meat from the bone.

Jessica wondered why the food tasted

incredibly sweet. She assumed that it

was because she had been starving

herself for a few days.

The door opened and Andy entered. His

presence almost choked her and she

focused on taking in a deep breath. Her

throat suddenly felt dry and she picked

up her glass of orange juice, draining it

at once.

“Thanks” she murmured.

“You did not finish it” he said, gazing at

Jessica without revealing anything. He

looked strained and agitated but his

stance was firm and strong. Jessica

felt that he was revealing his business-

like stance, using it to cover the

awkwardness. She swallowed.

“I have had my fill”. She stated. Andy

looked like he also needed the same

treat but she was not sure if she should

say it.

“It is ok wife” Andy said, stressing the

word ‘wife’. Jessica shifted

uncomfortably, looking at the walls

instead of matching Andy’s intense

gaze.

“Drew, I-”

“Why are you doing this?” what she saw

when he stared at her scared her. The

pain she saw in his eyes was so

unbearable; it cut through her like a

knife. She suddenly wanted to cry. “You

are killing me, do you know that?”

Jessica took a deep breath. “I don’t

want to hurt you Andy, I really don’t”

“But that is what you are doing Jess.

Do you know how it has been with me

ever since you disappeared? I have

almost driven myself crazy in my

search for you honey, and now that I

have found you, you want to leave me

indefinitely? And you say you don’t want

to hurt me?” Andy looked bewildered

and shocked.

“I don’t Drew, I just-” she stood up and

faced Andy as a cold shiver went down

her spine. “Look at me Andy; I have

been disgraced in the public. I have

been humiliated beyond redemption. I

feel people whispering behind my back

everywhere I go” the tears Jessica tried

to hold back came cruising down her

cheeks. “I can’t bear it Andy, I just

can’t. If I continue with you, the gossips

would continue and I can’t put you

through that Drew, you deserve

something far better”

The tears on Jessica’s face seemed to

hurt Andy more than anything. He

closed the distance between them and

held her face in his arms, wiping away

her tears with his thumbs. The contact

made Jessica shiver slightly. “Look at

me” Andy whispered and Jessica

hesitantly raised her eyes to meet his.

“You don’t think I deserve you? You

don’t think I deserve love?”

“What are you saying? Of course, you

deserve all the love you can get Drew”

“Even if I have to get it from someone

else? Is that what you want – for me to

be with someone else?” Andy asked,

with his eyes blazing.

Jessica felt all her blood drain out of

her. “If… If it makes you happy” she

breathed quietly, lowering her eyes,

Andy had to strain to pick her words.

“You would be able to handle it?” Andy

emphasized quietly.

The thought of Andy with another

woman was like a sticky bitter bile in

her mouth and she had the urge to

throw up just by thinking about it. She

could not open her mouth so she

nodded softly.

Silenced stretched uncomfortably

between then. “Fine” Andy said and left

Jessica. Her head jerked up; alarmed

by what she had just heard but Andy

had his back to her as he went to stand

by the wall. Finally, he faced her and

leaned against the wall. Jessica could

not tell what he was thinking about

because his face was carefully blank.

“What?” she gasped out.

“You want out and I am consenting to

it. Is that not what you want?”

Jessica stared at Andy like he had just

lost his mind. She had expected him to

beg and try to convince her but not

agree. Does it mean he never truly

loved her? She felt hurt and angry as

she continuously stared at Andy. She

choked and took his eyes away from

her, trying desperately not to cry. She

snatched her sandals from the floor and

sat on the bed to put them on but her

fingers were shaking so awkwardly that

she just couldn’t.

“Let me do it” She did not know when

Andy reached her side and her anger

increased.

“No” she said too loudly. “I can help

myself”

“C’mon, don’t be a baby” Andy’s voice

held vague amusement and when

Jessica looked, he was trying to hide

his smile.

“What is so funny?” she snapped and

her anger doubled. She would not

tolerate being made a fool of. The tears

she had been preventing dropped

suddenly and Andy’s face clouded

confusingly.

“Don’t cry, damn it” Andy said, alarmed.

Jessica wiped her face furiously with

the back of her hand, pushing Andy’s

hand away. “I am not crying, damn you.

I just want to get-”

Andy silenced her with a firm kiss,

stunning her. Once he had his lips on

hers, he could not stop again; he

devoured her mouth completely, using

the kiss to reassure himself of

Jessica’s presence. Jessica held on to

him, unable to let go. “Can’t you see…

that you drive… me crazy?” Andy

murmured between kisses. Jessica put

her hand in his hair, holding him close

and allowing his words to sink into her.

When they came up for air, they were

both breathing heavily. “I can never let

you go Jess, no matter how hard you

persuade me. I love you, don’t you get

it? I love you so much”

Jessica swallowed. “I love you too

Drew” she was silent for some seconds,

happy that the past few minutes had

been a terrible joke. “But-”

“Shhhh… We would figure it out baby,

OK?”

Jessica nodded. Andy sat on the bed

and pulled her onto his laps. She placed

her head on Andy’s chest, feeling safe

with his strong arms around her.

“Eat up” Andy growled referring to the

left-over food, looking pointedly at

Jessica. “You need to gain back the

weight and strength you had. You are

nearly as light as a feather” he

murmured.

Jessica frowned. “I am trying” she said

and swallowed some more food. She

still could not believe that she was

staying with Andy. The whole world had

already tagged her as a gold-digger, but

she still could not leave the man she

loved. Running away had given her a

taste of what it would be like to leave

Andy and she was not sure she wanted

to relive that moment of pain. She had

been happy at bit when her uncle and

his wife, whom she now saw as her

parents, had come, looking very relieved

and worried. Florence had cried with

relief and she could see that her uncle,

‘Funsho’, who had been very furious

with her at the party was also deeply

worried. He apologized for his irrational

behavior but also scolded her for

running away without thinking about

how worried they would be. She had

been so happy, even though she was

being scolded. They wouldn’t scold her

if they didn’t love her. She missed the

little children: the stubborn Jake and

the sweet and lovely Theresa. The two

children of her uncle were at school

and Jessica thought of bringing them

over for their long vacation holiday; if

Andy agreed of course.

Jessica still could not bear to think of

Andy’s dad and Sonia. She had nothing

but hatred for Sonia now but her father-

in-law? Could she blame him? He was

thinking of his own son’s well-being but

she still could not get rid of the hurt

she felt. Since she had arrived back in

the house about three days ago, Andy

had made her feel like a queen. The

fun she had with Andy, both indoors and

out was mind-blowing. She remembered

some of the nasty things she did with

her husband and her cheeks flushed at

the remembrance.

“You are not going down memory lane,

are you?” Andy winked at her and her

blush deepened. How can Andy know

what she was thinking just by looking at

her? She wondered. Of course, he is

the master of his game. “Do you want

us to talk about your thoughts or act it

out” Andy asked grinning widely.

Jessica lowered her eyes and

swallowed. “Oh” he breathed. “My shy

wife. Don’t worry; we can go over your

thoughts later. Eat your food, we are

going out. I need to show you

something” he kissed her cheeks.

“What is it?” Does my voice sound

croaky? Jessica wondered.

Andy smiled, melting her heart,

obviously hearing the edge in her voice.

“It is a surprise baby”. He sauntered off,

towards the study and Jessica followed

him with her eyes. He turned his head

and met her eyes. Her cheeks flushed

with embarrassment but she covered it

by sticking a tongue out to him. He

grinned and blew her a kiss

**********

**********

Sonia walked around the tastefully

furnished apartment she had just

acquired. It had everything she ever

dreamt of. The house was up to her

taste, with all that she could imagine.

The kitchen had all the accessories she

needed with a microwave and a freezer,

which she purchased at a second hand

market to reduce the cost, although

they both looked new. The kitchen was

filled with food stuffs and fruits; she

took out an apple from the fridge and

chewed as she surveyed the house

again. It had taken a few days to make

the apartment look like this but even at

that, she never got tired of looking at

what she owned. The bedroom was

looking ravishing and welcoming, with

purple and pink colours scattered at

strategic places. Her wardrobe was still

filled with her former clothes and she

told herself that she needed to go for

shopping. There were thousands of

clothes, shoes, bags, jewelries and so

on that she had been dreaming of

buying; now, she had been tossed the

chance to explore for as long as she

could.

She had spent roughly three million

naira out of the ten million naira she

was given by Andy’s father. Since she

still had about seven million naira left,

she decided that she would set up a

business with four million naira.

Thinking, she decided that a jewelry

store would be perfect. She loved

jewelries and anything that had to do

with it. She wasn’t about to spend the

entire money until it vanishes, she told

herself. The remaining three million

would be used for miscellaneous. She

needed a car, to match the class she

was trying to build for herself. She

smiled at the thought. She also needed

better phones; maybe an apple and a

tab, she mused. Proper and classy

clothes. She gave a delighted squeal

but there was no one there to pounce

on her and share her joy. She

swallowed as she thought of her

friends.

How lovely would it be to have her

friends with her, celebrating her

success? How great would it be if she

had gotten this money from the right

source? Her friends had been with her

through it all, through her challenging

times but now, now that she had

something tangible, she had no one to

share her joy with. Joy? Could she

describe this feeling as joy? As happy

as she was that she finally had real

cash in her hands, she could not

quench the shaky feeling that this

money would vanish as quickly as it

had appeared. She hadn’t worked for

the money; she had sabotaged her best

friend in order to get it. She shivered.

Maybe, if she had asked Andy for a loan

of the same ten million naira, he would

have given her. He might have even

dashed her something more than that

because frankly, the guy is worth

billions. But no, instead, she had

shattered her own friend’s happiness.

She regretted her decision but there is

no going back now. She had to live with

the current reality. She swallowed and

the thought of making new friends

came pleasantly to her mind. She

grabbed her credit card and thought of

how perfect it would be to have a car.

She already knew how to drive. Well,

her carless state would change now,

she thought. ‘Let’s go and spend some

cash’

**********

**********

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