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“This gown is perfect” Sonia exclaimed as she hurriedly held out the wedding gown that caught her fancy in the extremely large room filled with gowns.
Jessica sighed exhaustedly. “You can’t obviously expect me to wear that?”
“And what is wrong with this one again ooo” Paulina asked, equally exhausted.
“Yes, tell us what is wrong with it. Even though I don’t like the design at the back, I can’t wait for you to make your choice. We have been in this dress shop for hours” Lizzy scolded.
“And every cloth you guys have been pointing out is either too showy or too expensive” Jessica pointed out.
Lizzy stood in front of Jessica. “You are dulling my spirit honey. You are getting married to the richest and most famous guy in this blessed country of ours and you are lamenting money? He gave you his MasterCard for crying out loud” she exclaimed.
“So? Am I supposed to drain the account all in the name of a wedding dress?”
Sonia stepped in. “I agree with Jessica” Jessie smiled. “We can’t overspend just because the guy is rich”. Lizzy hissed
“All the same, no gown here is expensive enough to catch his notice. I mean, come on, this gown is not even up to 150, 000 Naira” Paulina said in one breath.
“I agree with Paulina” Sonia said.
Jessica shook her head. Of all her friends, Sonia was closest to her. Jessica believed that no matter how many friends you have, you would always have a best friend, or at least someone who was closer to you than the others. Sonia always played it safe. She is not the arguing type but when it came to advice or a good listener, Sonia was impeccable. She would reason with you and carefully try to make her point without an argument. Lizzy was the fashion freak that could use her last penny to buy what was in vogue, as long as it fits her perfectly. Paulina was the one with the attributes of a mother. She babied and bullied everyone into doing her will but she could never really exert her controlling power on them; especially not on Jessica.
Jessica was the most stubborn. Once she made up her mind, it takes only God and divine intervention to change it. The only way her three close friends ever succeeded in manipulating her is if they joined forces. Her stubborn nature was the reason why they still have not picked a wedding dress for the wedding that would hold in two weeks time.
Lizzy was busy sampling other dresses while the others continued to argue.
“What is wrong with the ones I selected?” Jessica asked.
“No… I surely would not best you if you wear any of those” Sonia said with her eyes wide.
“Your fashion sense is totally out of league. I am sure no one would have agreed to wear those ridiculous dresses in the year 1789. Do you know the dignitaries that would be present at the wedding? I would definitely not miss handshakes and photographs with governors. You need to look presentable enough my dear, if you are going to be marrying Andy Williams. He is every woman’s dream”. Paulina had dreamy eyes.
“Why don’t you marry him instead? I am so tired of this”
“Oh really? I am so grateful honey” Paulina squealed happily.
“I always knew you liked her more than me. Why did you not give him to me?” Sonia asked with sad, accusing eyes.
Jessica hissed. “See the people I call my friends” she shook her head.
“Hey lazy bones” Lizzy called, out of sight. “Get your butts down here. I got the hottest gown here and I am not taking ‘no’ for an answer”
The girls walked there even though Jessica was reluctant, knowing that whatever caught Lizzy’s fancy would not please her. Paulina and Sonia gasped when they saw the gown. Jessica’s breath was blown away as she stared at the gown. It was the most beautiful gown she had ever set her eyes on. She hid her interest in it and noticed what she had suspected. The gown needed no jacket, unlike most of the tubes she had seen. It was a tube with a transparent net finishing which gave it small hands, although sleeveless. The design of the gown from the net beginning to the stylish finishing was so breathtaking but the gown was too exposing to Jessica.
“I can’t” she finally said and they all turned stunned eyes at her.
“OK, listen bride, you are going to wear this gown whether you like it or not. What is wrong with it?” Lizzy was clearly angry.
“The net” Jessica said flatly.
“What?” Sonia exclaimed.
“You can’t be serious” Paulina said
Jessica caught sight of the price tag and her eyes widened. “It is also too damn expensive”. The three friends turned glaring eyes at her and from the look on their faces; Jessica Adams knew that she had been boxed into a corner.
Jessica Adams stood at the entrance of the overcrowded hall, feeling like an exposed rabbit. Her uncle had her hand tucked in his elbow and the music was being sung softly but Jessica heard nothing. She felt a chilling fear in her spine that something would go wrong. As her eyes took in dignitaries as they stared at her, she felt incredibly small. The gown which she had been forced to buy by her friends now seemed like a big consolation and life-saver because it made her look important and rich.
Rich? She swallowed. How could she be marrying Andy Williams? He was not just rich, he was exceedingly rich. Apart from the wealth of his father, Andy was the owner of Max Petroleum which had uncountable branches all over the country. It was not surprising that he was that established at 35; he was born into a wealthy family and once there is money, anything is possible.
Jessica stared straight at the altar and saw Andy with his back to her. Slowly, as if noticing everyone’s diverted attention, he turned round. Jessica who had been standing rooted to the ground seemed to freeze the more. If there was one man who had the most compelling and breath-taking physical appearance, it was Andy Williams. He was exceedingly handsome with an arrogant air in his stance. He always stood with so much confidence that Jessica wondered if anything could shake him. The black suit he wore did nothing to hide his muscular body; instead, the suit emphasized his financial status. When Jessica’s uncle tugged at her hand, she instantly snapped out of her thoughts. He smiled at her and they started moving towards the altar while various photographers snapped away.
Looking at Andy at the altar should make her want to run to him but instead; she wanted to run away; far away. Jessie, what is wrong with you? She asked herself. Her uncle tightened his grip on her hand, noticing her nervous state; he smiled at her. Jessica had lost her family – father, mother and brother – in a car accident when she was eleven. Life had not been the same since then for her. Her father’s brother and his wife had been the ones to take her in when every other person in the family deserted her. Even though they always struggled to eat on a daily basis, they ensured that they took care of her. Jessica’s joy had known no bounds when God answered the couple’s prayers with a baby boy.
She suddenly found herself standing opposite Andy who seemed not to be able to take in what he was seeing.
“It’s the gown right?” she asked nervously.
“Uhn?” he instantly snapped out of his thoughts. “You look erm… very ravishing” he said. Jessica blushed instantly. “You are nervous?” he seemed surprised.
“Shouldn’t I? Everyone has their eyes fixed on me and I feel like a dripping cat”
Andy laughed and looked like he was about to say something but he swallowed his words. He took her hand and they faced the church.
“Andy Williams, do you take Jessica Adams to be your wife? To love and cherish her until death do you part?” The pastor asked.
“Yes, I do” Andy replied without hesitation and the cheers in the church was deafening.
“Jessica Adams, do you take Andy Williams to be your husband? To love and to respect him, till death do you part?”
Everyone seemed to hold their breath, or was Jessica just imagining it? Only one thought came to her mind and her answer was decided. “Yes, I do”
The applause went out.
“Do we have anyone who has any reason why these two should not be married? If so, speak now or forever hold your peace” The pastor said and everyone started turning heads. The question was repeated again but no one signified. The wedding rings were brought forward.
The pastor faced Andy, giving him a ring. “Now, repeat after me: I……”
The vows were exchanged between them and the rings were slipped into their fingers. After a simple kiss, they were pronounced husband and wife.
Contrary to the thoughts of Jessica’s friends that Jessica would be spending her honeymoon in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Jessica ended up spending it in Nigeria. As the driver drove Jessica and Andy to a beach house, the silence in the car was so uncomfortable. Jessica later dozed off, giving in to sleep after a very stressful wedding. Andy woke her up when they got to the beach house and the first sight she saw was both heavenly and frightening. She had heard of the beach and had also seen it on the TV but she had never been to one. Looking at it now, she was scared that the water would carry her away if she moved an inch closer to it but she surely wanted to play inside it. She had always loved water and seeing the beach was like an irresistible invitation.
“You like the beach” Andy said, knowingly.
“I love it” she breathed.
They walked to the beach house and as they went, it became increasingly difficult for Jessica to walk on the sand with her shoes, so she took them off, feeling the cool sand with her bare feet. She admitted her exhaustion when she entered the house and although the only thought in her mind was a warm bath and a cool mattress, she still appreciated the luxurious house. It was so beautiful and everything in the houses spoke of Andy’s financial status.
“This place is so beautiful” she said. Despite her tiredness, she was incredibly aware of Andy. He had removed his suit jacket and his shirt hugged his muscular body so firmly that she itched to touch him. She had always thought that rich men should be fat, due to the loads of garbage they eat on a daily basis but Andy was very hefty. He looked like a model that spent most of his time in the gym, gathering muscles. He was not a talkative but she noticed that he had been incredibly quiet. Perhaps that comes with being married because she was also quiet.
Andy showed her the bedroom and she walked in, only to find that he was not following. She was happy because she needed some privacy in order to shower and change her clothes. All the things she might need were in the room already, including her boxes of clothes. As she showered, she scrubbed her body, hoping to erase the thoughts that were flooding her head. Back in the room, she mopped her body dry and wore a long oversized gown. The gown carefully disguised her endowed body but still gave a hint of what to expect underneath. Her wedding gown left her feeling exposed so she intentionally chose this gown in order to get her bearing back.
She lay on the bed and started wondering where Andy must have gone to on their wedding night. Just as she was about to doze off, he entered with a laptop in his hands. An alarm went off in her head.
“You should be tired after the wedding. Won’t you come to bed?” she asked, sitting up.
“Come to bed? You can go to sleep; or have you forgotten that we have a signed contract?” Andy replied with his eyes fixed on the laptop.
Jessica blanched. For a moment, she had forgotten about everything, about the contract agreement she had with Andy Williams. For once, she had thought that this façade was real. She might be Jessica Williams now but it would only last for a year. In the next one year, she would be back to being single, or rather, divorced. She swallowed.
“How can I forget?” she said forcefully.
“Thank God” he murmured.
Jessica breathed and stood. “Well, since you obviously don’t need my help here, why don’t I just have a room to myself? This building should have more than one room” she was already taking out her bags from the wardrobe.
“Some cleaners and helps may notice that we do not share a room and spread rumors” Andy replied, raising his eyes from the laptop.
“Then don’t employ their services; I can help myself here. I have been doing so since I was born without any difficulty”
“And what if I can’t do without the maids?” Andy asked as Jessica started dragging the boxes out, not willing to see reason.
“That is for you to worry about. I am around in case you need my help” Jessica closed the door gently.
Andy stared at the closed door in anger. “Damned woman”
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