Deolu and Laura danced out of the reception hall with smiles enough to light up a city. Their happiness was so glaring as family and friends cheered aloud. Laura’s long train dragged on the floor behind her so beautifully as cameras clicked continuously, capturing the exquisite beauty of the latest couple in town. Laura waved her ring finger in the air, grinning from ear to ear as the ring sparkled in the evening glow. Deolu pulled Laura to his side, his impatience to get away from the throng of people around them was so obvious.
“Patience, Ad” she grinned up at him.
Right now, Deolu was sure ‘patience’ wasn’t resident in his vocabulary. “Gosh! These people would not allow me to be great. I just want to have you to myself, baby”.
Laura was about to state just how much she would like that also, when Tito pulled at her hand. “Mind if I steal her for a second?” Tito asked Deolu impatiently.
Deolu almost rolled his eyes in frustration. “Like I have a choice”.
Tito grinned while Laura smiled apologetically at Deolu as Tito dragged her away. What is it?” Laura asked impatiently.
“You haven’t thrown your bouquet yet”, she nodded at the flower in Laura’s hand.
“Oh yeah, I totally forgot about that. The MC skipped this vital detail”, she noted.
“Well, I won’t forget, everything has to be ‘perfect‘, for your sake”
Laura grinned. What did she do to deserve a cousin such as Tito? She wanted this for her cousin. She wanted her to also experience the happiness that only love could give. “You’d join them?” she asked. “Only then would I throw”.
Tito rolled her eyes. “Fine! Not like the ‘catch the flower’ thing works anyways. Get on with it and be fast, I think your husband would have me sliced for barbeque if I don’t return you soon”.
Laura grinned, then looked around. “Gather round single ladies”, she yelled, looking determined. Tito joined the group of single women who gathered round, albeit reluctantly and Laura subtly noted where her cousin stood, determined to throw the bouquet in her direction. Satisfied, she turned back and saw Deolu standing with his friends, discussing. Teju hovered close to him like the able best friend that she was. As if he felt her eyes, he turned and stared into her eyes. Laura winked at him and saw the heat in his eyes, enough to send her heart galloping. Yes! She had known she’ll get this effect from him when she had sighted this incredibly sexy gown she was putting on. Gosh, Deolu was right. The earlier they got away from this teaming crowd of well wishers, the better for them. Where was she? Right – bouquet. “One…” Laura yelled. “Two…… three…” Laura sent the bouquet sailing backwards in Tito’s direction. She turned instantly with a smile to see if Tito had caught the flower. The smile wiped off her face instantly when she saw who caught the flower. “Jane?”
“Yes! Yes, yes yes yes…” Jane danced around with the bouquet in her hand, swinging it in the air with a victorious grin on her face.
“What were you doing amongst them?” Laura questioned, her frown growing deeper. Tito put her hands on her waist but she seemed to be trying hard to stop herself from laughing.
“Hello ooo… You asked all the single women to come out, remember? I am very much single”, she said sassily.
Laura smirked. “Jane! You’re only twelve”.
“Of course, you cannot be anything but single at your age, and you are a girl, not a woman”.
Despite herself, Tito started laughing, covering her mouth when Laura glowered at her. “This is not funny”.
“Sorry… sorry” she covered her mouth but still couldn’t stop the laughter that erupted from her throat. Laura shook her head and Jane took the opportunity to escape, swinging the bouquet in the air like an trophy.
“Gosh, that girl is a piece of work” Laura muttered, her mouth breaking into a reluctant smile.
“She is a troublesome bundle of excitement”, Tito muttered as she looked in Deolu’s direction and sighed. “He hasn’t been able to keep his eyes off you all day; Mrs. Aderigbe.” Tito grinned.
“Rigs” she corrected.
Tito shook her head. “You are nervous”
“Shouldn’t I be?” Laura asked, swallowing. “There was too much drama preceding this wedding, I’m scared it’d rub off on the marriage”.
Tito sighed. “You both would have the most perfect marriage. Nothing good ever comes easy and coming from me, Deolu is really good catch. You have nothing to worry about, you’d have the happily ever after you desire”
Laura shifted nervously. “Are you sure?”
Tito sighed. “Have I ever been wrong about anything?”
Laura frowned. “That is not reassuring, Tito, you’ve been wrong more times than I can count”.
Tito rolled her eyes with a smile. “Well, I am not wrong this time”.
Laura sighed. “I hope so… I really do”
Disaster was brewing
A destructive wind of chaos was blowing, but they were too blind to notice…
Eating, merrying, dancing and loving was the atmosphere in the Rigs’ residence, while disaster drew nigh, creeping closer like an unwelcome thief, threatening everything they held dear. She had no warning! And though anxiety lurked behind the façade of happiness she displayed, Laura had no clue as to what was coming for her. But even if she knew, there was no stopping the onslaught of the destructive thunder which headed towards her home…
Six years ago, on the sixth of June – the sixth month of the year – Laura had gotten married to the man of her dreams and realities. And although, she didn’t find marriage to be a bed of roses, as long as she had her ‘one perfect rose’ – Deolu Rigs – she was complete. But why did she have a sickening feeling that something was about to go wrong? Maybe it was her 666 phobia at work again! They really shouldn’t be throwing a grand celebration for this anniversary; she had said this but Deolu had insisted otherwise.
The sun receded beneath the clouds, casting the beautifully decorated garden with a warm evening glow as they rocked together to the sound of the playing orchestra under a sky which grew darker by the minute. The music of love! Laura inhaled deeply and sighed. Perfect! The world was so perfect! With each glide across the grassy grounds of the garden in their residential compound, she felt sweet happiness and peace flood her troubled soul. For today! I would let go of my worries and fears for this one special day. She turned her nose into Deolu’s chest, closing her eyes and letting his scent wash away her fears. Their friends and loved ones who danced around were forgotten as Deolu’s scent and arms enveloped her.
“We should do this more often”
Reluctantly, Laura raised her head from Deolu’s chest, to look up into his face. Dark sexy eyes beamed down at her as his sexy mouth eased into a mischievous smile. “Parties?” She asked.
His arm tightened around her waist, pulling her even closer until they were practically glued to each other as his other hand stole up to brush tenderly against her blushing cheek. “Dancing” he responded huskily.
Their indecent stance and movement was making Laura uncomfortably aware of his rock hard body. She cleared her throat and looked around at the friends who had gathered to celebrate their anniversary with them. Scattered scantily all over the perfectly decorated flowery compound, some were sneaking glances at them with cynical smiles on their faces, winking at her as their eyes met; others were imitating them – dancing indecently with their spouses. Deolu pulled Laura even closer and she grew still. She gasped and took her gaze back to Deolu. The sly man was grinning mischievously now. Crap! Thank God the few children around were too busy playing to notice their indecency, Laura thought gratefully.
She frowned. “I think it would be a bad idea. If we dance like this very often, I would not be able to stand, not to mention go to work”.
Deolu grinned wider. “That’s the idea”. The silent whisper and feel of his warm breath on her skin sent tremors of excitement down her spine. She shivered and pressed into him. His gaze grew darker and more intense. “How does a private dance sound to you?”
Laura chuckled as she raised her arms from his shoulder to circle Deolu’s neck, unashamed to flirt with her husband in public. “And what would happen to your guests, Mr. Rigs ?” she stared up at him with brimming eyes.
“They can go to hell” he answered fiercely without delay.
She shook her head “You are a terrible host” Laura said, smiling up at her husband. They were still dancing the waltz, but now, she had added extra sway to her body movements. She was teasing her husband and she was definitely enjoying it. But then, he always loved her teases because the outcome was always explosive and memorable. Laura smiled secretly. Who would say that after six years of marriage, Deolu and Laura could still behave like smitten lovebirds? But that was what they were – lovers! Now and forever! After six years, filled with loads of ups and downs, turmoil, tears and confusion; the only thing that remained constant was the love that Laura shared with her husband. And that outstanding factor was what had kept her going all the way; as long as she had his love, she could surmount every mountain.
A mischievous look crossed Laura’s face as she stood on tiptoes, leaning into Deolu as she brought her mouth to his ear. “Maybe when the music becomes fast-paced, we could sneak out…” she whispered as Deolu’s arms tighten around her and she felt the steady beat of his heart against her palm as they stopped dancing to the waltz altogether. “… that way, our disappearance wouldn’t be noticed much. Besides, I am enjoying this dance too much to leave now” she finished and lowered herself back to her normal height, grinning up at him.
Deolu swallowed hard as he stared at Laura’s lovely upturned face. Even after years of living with her, her hold on him was still as strong; if anything, it was even stronger. He felt a sharp pang in his chest and pulled her closer, her head on his chest as he restarted the waltz dance. “That’s a very good plan, Mrs Aderigbe” he breathed as he put his nose in her hair, inhaling deeply.
She chuckled. “Don’t call me Mrs Aderigbe, your mum would get angry”
He rolled his eyes and whispered. “Thank God she isn’t here then”
Lara sobered up and swallowed. Thank God! And in an instant, the excitement she was feeling a moment ago died, leaving her with a sense of foreboding. Deolu’s arms tightened around her as they waltzed in silence. “I love you, Laura” Deolu suddenly whispered. “Don’t ever forget that”.
Laura frowned slightly. The unsettling feeling she had been having since daybreak was back again. Deolu was always telling her those words, but why did it sound different this time? It was probably her paranoia at work again, but then, why had he sounded so solemn and emotional, like the confession was spoken from a place of pain? Something wasn’t right.
She raised her head from Deolu’s chest and stared up at him to verbally ask him if something was wrong, when someone cleared his throat behind them.
“Still so cheesy”
Laura and Deolu turned to see Chris wearing a smug look. Laura smiled, forgetting what she had been about to ask Deolu.
“Really man, we already know that Laura is yours, you don’t have to rub it in our faces all the time” Chris said drily.
“We really need to search out a wife for you as soon as possible, maybe we’d try OLX this time” Deolu said with a pissed look on his face. “She should keep you occupied enough to give me some privacy” The interruption was obviously not going down well with him.
“It’s your anniversary party, there’s no privacy.”
Laura chuckled while Deolu scowled at Chris. The two impossible men had been friends for as long as Laura could remember, and though they were both birds of a feather, Deolu was as married as Chris was single. The fact that Chris still hadn’t found the woman he wanted to settle down with still remained a mystery because asides being impossibly handsome, he was also financially stable. Chris was just too damn picky! Laura thought.
Chris continued, sighing dramatically. “Besides, all the ladies I want don’t think my husband material is up to one yard, and there is nothing I can do about that now, is there?”
“Some things in the women’s department can make you acceptable by almost anyone. You should try”
Laura looked from one man to the other and shook her head, arms akimbo. “You two are not at it again, are you?”
Chris sketched a bow as his mouth soothed into a seductive smile, a tiny dimple appearing on his left cheek. “Pardon our rude manners, your majesty. Your husband has the manners of a toad, I, on the other hand, am a gentleman” he picked Laura’s arm and placed a soft kiss on the back of her fingers, with a cynical smile.
That’s Chris! Charming, seductive and definitely a hopeless flirt. Unfortunately for ladies, he had the killer looks to match his wit and charm; they were constantly falling over themselves to have even as little as a smile from him.
“And that begins the flirtations” Tito whispered into her ear and Laura turned her head to see her cousin shaking her head in disapproval before vanishing into the handful of people around.
Laura blushed, hiding the chuckle that threatened to break free as she faced Chris. “Why not try your charm on Tits”.
Chris frowned at Tito’s disappearing back. “She’s immune. She doesn’t like me”
Deolu grinned. “A smart decision, if you ask me”
“Unlucky me” Chris replied with a glow in his eyes as he turned his eyes back to Laura.
Deolu pulled Laura to himself, frowning. “Go and try some Shakespeare lines on some single girls, maybe they’ll pity you enough to drag you out of the market.”
Chris grinned. “The market is an interesting place to be” Laura shook her head. These two were just hopeless. Chris glanced at his watched and sighed. “It’s a shame I won’t be able to stay long; I have… an impromptu appointment”
“With a woman?” Laura winked.
Chris sighed. “I wish; I think I am fast losing my charm”
Deolu snorted. “Maybe it is a wake-up call”
Chris scowled at Deolu. “I should be on my way” he muttered. “You guys should have fun and reserve my own portion of that pounded yam and egusi soup” With that, he was gone.
Laura watched Chris walk away and grinned at his departing back as she muttered. “What do you say we matchmake Chris and Tito? Those two would make a fantastic match”
Deolu’s eyes grew large. “Oh no! If they don’t kill eachother before the wedding, I hope there won’t be a bloodbath at the altar”
Laura laughed out loud.
A thought popped into Laura’s mind. “Or Chris and Teju. They would be perfect for each other.” she frowned slightly. “Where is your bestie anyways?” she asked, wondering why Deolu’s childhood friend wasn’t at their anniversary celebration.
Deolu was silent for several seconds, Laura almost thought he didn’t hear her. “She had an important engagement to attend to” he finally said.
“Are you sure you two are okay? It’s not like Teju to be absent at a time like this” She traced her finger delicately on his shirt as she wondered if the sudden stiffness of his hand on her waist was merely her imagination.
“She’s not absent”
“Mom?” Deolu rasped in surprise.
Laura felt her world crash. She’d know that voice even in her sleep. Her heart slammed wildly in her chest. How had she even hoped that today would be uneventful.
“What in the world is going on here?” boomed the voice again, loud and clear. Gasps went round as the music came to an instant halt.
Laura closed and opened her eyes slowly as she turned to her worst nightmare – her mother-in-law. There she was in all her fury, glaring down at her. “Mum” she gasped as her blood ran cold. How on earth had she harbored the hope that this day would be perfect? Laura swallowed hard as tension recoiled her intestines. She glanced nervously at the handful of friends and colleagues who had gathered to celebrate their anniversary and watched as everyone stood still, staring from she and Deolu to her mother-in-law. It was a good thing that she had minimized the invited guests, but even at that, the handful of people around were not people she would gladly wash her dirty linen around.
Laura quickly knelt to greet her mother-in-law but she was almost invisible as the woman brushed past her, holding her son’s gaze.
“What are you doing here, mum?”
“What? I am not welcome in my son’s house anymore? Is that it?” she raised her brow defiantly.
Laura shot up, startled. “No… That is not what he meant mum” she rushed. “He was…”
“Shut up” she snapped. “Did I talk to you?” Mrs Aderigbe raised her brow as she growled, finally turning to Laura, staring down at her like she was nothing but an abandoned vomit. She eased her legs into motion, advancing on Laura slowly. “I always tell you; when I am talking to my son, you shut your mouth” she snapped.
Laura felt her heart crash to the pit of her stomach as humiliation washed over her. Eyes of the people around stabbed into her like knives.
“Well, you want to be the mouthpiece?” Now, her mother-in-law faced her fully, her eyes shooting daggers at her, arms akimbo. “Why don’t you tell me what on earth you are celebrating in my son’s house…” she put an ironic smile on her face as she stood impatiently, waiting for Laura to respond. “Naming?” she supplied. “Baby shower?” Murmuring voices drifted in the air as few descent people quietly exited the compound to give the couple a bit of privacy, but as always, many of them waited with wide eyes, trying to capture her humiliation. Laura’s head felt too heavy for her neck as she stared at the ground, counting the grasses. There it is! My childlessness after six years of marriage was being hurled in my face in public like a bowl of rotten of faeces. Not like the people around didn’t know already.
“Mum! Please stop this right now!” Deolu growled as he glared at his mother. Laura could already feel him losing his temper. She couldn’t have him disrespecting his mother; that would only make matters worse. They would come at loggerheads and she would be blamed for it.
Surprisingly, Mrs Aderigbe smiled. “You are right, son. In fact, I think this party is just perfect. I think you were looking for Teju, right?” she was smiling mysteriously. “Teju, my dear” she bellowed. “Come in here”
Laura frowned as she looked around in confusion. What did Teju have to do with anything. Just then, Teju moved into focus. Laura’s frown deepened as she studied Teju. It was the same Teju she knew, yet, it wasn’t. Something was terribly wrong. Her mother-in-law was smiling in a weirdly odd manner as she moved to Teju, putting her hand on her waist.
“Teju…” Laura called in a small voice, as her heart slammed wildly in her chest but Teju couldn’t meet her gaze and blast it, why on earth were her fingers shaking tensely?
No! She shook her head and unconsciously took a step back as various thoughts played in her mind, driving her crazy. She wouldn’t dare contemplate the evil thoughts playing in her head… no…
She chanced a look at Deolu but there, that pained guilty look in his eyes was as clear as the dawn of a new day. “What…what is going Deolu?” she gasped out as different unpleasantly insane ideas popped into her head. Her eyes watered. “Teju” she called shakily as the lady before her nervously seemed to be counting grasses. “Would someone please explain what’s going on here?” she ground out in frustration.
“Laura…” Deolu and Teju called at once.
“I’d do it” Mrs Aderigbe said.
“Mum… please mum” Deolu pleaded.
“She’s pregnant” Mrs Aderigbe declared, grinning. “Teju is pregnant”.
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