Saturday, 9 June 2018

MARRIED Episode 13-14

Lizzy woke around past six as she was used to and sighed happily when she noticed that Jessica was still asleep. She had given Jessie some drugs which she usually used after a really stressful day and seeing Jessie sleep peacefully told her that the drugs were effective. She was not used to bathing so early, so she just washed her face and brushed her teeth. Moving about quietly in order not to rouse the sleeping Jessie, she went into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. She checked the rice she had cooked the previous night and was happy that it was enough for two; the stress of cooking another food was out. She heated up the rice and stew but also boiled water to use for tea. The weather was very cold, considering the heavy rain that fell throughout the night.
While she waited for the food to steam up, she went to the sink and started washing the plates from the previous night. She was happy that she was on her own and not with her parents, if not, they would be ranting about sweeping the entire house, and she would not be able to ask for food until she had worked her bones sore. Some liberties come with living alone!
*****
“Tunji, I believe you should be able to handle the office without my assistance” Andy said as he conversed rather reluctantly with Tunji, his best friend, over the phone, driving at the same time.
“Well, thank God you finally noticed that. Hope there is no problem? I mean you never miss a day at the office but today would make it three days”
“Well, that is the difference between a married man and a single man”
“Don’t tell me that. Did you just get married? You even came running to the office during your honeymoon so cut it out. Andy, are you on the road?”
“I have not got time for this now Tunji, got to go” Before Tunji could respond to what he said, Andy hung up. He dropped the phone and swallowed. He knew it was too early but he could not stay in the house for another minute. The thought of Jessica was almost driving him mad and he needed to make her believe him. He just could not sit back and do nothing.
He encountered a little traffic and was instantly angry that he lived in Lagos. Lagos was a state that he had always known for its overcrowded nature. Though Lagos was a beautiful place, he was not happy that today of all days he was being delayed by traffic, so early in the morning.
*****
“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. Would she even let her land? “Of course I don’t, and it does not bother me”
Lizzy’s knowing smile annoyed Jessica. “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, does it? “He almost raped Sonia”
Lizzy choked on the tea she was drinking and started coughing. She coughed and coughed for some time 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 last night 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 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, clouding Jessica’s senses 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? She is our friend for heaven’s sake” Not to mention my best friend!
“It is true Jessie, I don’t trust quiet people too much. 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 repeat: 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? Let’s face the facts honey, not all friends can be trusted. 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 time 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 had never been accused of being 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…” she breathed barely audibly. “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 fiancée” 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 d--n 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”
Jessica swallowed hard and breathed deeply. Jessica could not move a muscle; could not begin to imagine his pain. “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 some of 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, her eyes going moist. “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. It didn’t work. What happened between us is practically the best thing that has happened to me. I never meant to hurt you Jess.” he kissed her head. “Do you have feelings for me Jess?”
Silence reigned in the room. “Andy, I…”
“Please, don’t say no. I might just go crazy” he paused. “You know what? I would be back. Please think about it” He kissed her cheek gently and lingeringly, stood up and after one final glance, 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 her 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, she hadn’t meant it. Those few hours she spent with Andy, having him treat her like a golden treasure, 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. It wasn’t fair that Paulina was the only one in the dark here but Jessie reckoned that telling another person about the contract wasn’t a good idea at all. As it is, too many people were already in the know!
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 else. Unless you have very tangible and undeniable evidence that proves him guilty, trust your husband always”
*****
The following day, Andy was feeling too nervous. He 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. The kiss was meant to only alter her words but as their lips clung together, fire sparked between them, clearing whatever doubts Jessica had. All her doubts vanished. Andy’s hands shook slightly as he held her to his body, with his heart racing against his chest. Ending the kiss gently, Andy raised her eyes to his.
“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” he brought his lips back to hers, sealing their love declarations.

To be continued…

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