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EPISODE 2

Jessica packed her hair up the way she always did as she stood facing the mirror. The length of her hair always made people envy her even when the only thing she wanted to do recently was to cut the hair off. Combing it was always a burden for her and she had resorted to packing it. She rarely made her hair due to the long waits she was always subjected to at the salon, so she had stuck with retouching and setting which was less expensive and also time saving.

It has been two days after the exhausting wedding and she hadn’t really left the beach house. Andy had practically restricted her to the building, saying that it would be awkward for the bride to be seen outside alone without her husband, immediately after the wedding. Jessica had asked him to go out with her then but her contract husband had so many things to sort out on net and did not have the time to camouflage with her.

If a prophet had prophesied that Jessica would be married to a jerk like Andy, she would have called him a joker but now that she faced the reality, she really could not believe that she had agreed to this marriage.

After putting on a long blue skirt and a white top, she lay on the bed, feeling the pieces of her shattered world the more. Jessica was someone who loved and loved deeply but that proved to be a very bad thing for her. She had been jilted by three different guys who were practically sex addicts. Her mother always told her before that abominable day that she should hold on till she was married before opening her legs for any guy. Before the death of her entire family, she did not really give the advice much thought but when her family died; all she wanted to do was to obey everything that her parents ever told her. The first man she had fallen in love with several years back, who was her first love had shattered her world by sleeping with her best friend. When she caught them in the act she almost ran mad. Trusting another guy again had been almost impossible but due to her nature, she moved on and fell for another guy. He had been descent enough to call it quit with the excuse that he could not do without sex until marriage, after several attempts to sleep with her. The third guy had been the one that really hurt her. It had taken a long time for her to get over the trauma and even now, the remembrance always moved her to tears and filled her with undiluted anger.

A knock interrupted her thoughts and she stood up from the bed. She opened the door and stared at Andy. He was in a grey suit. “Good morning sir”

Andy muttered under his breath. “Would I have to spend a lifetime explaining why I hate this ‘sir’ you use for me? It makes me look old”

She stared at him for some seconds then swallowed. “Andrew, Andy, Drew; choose one” she responded with an official look on her face; not smiling and not frowning.

He looked on the verge of laughter, and then raised his brow. “They all sound good but Drew; it sounds very good” He looked surprised.

“Good morning Drew” she responded.

He looked at her with a frown on his face. “Do you ever smile?”

“Do you respond to greetings?” she returned.

He shook his head slowly.

“Then I guess I should not bother greeting again?”

Andy realized that she took the shake of his head as the answer to the question she asked. He thought of explaining but realized that he had wasted a lot of time already. “Today is Monday, I am off to the office” he said.

She blanched. “This is supposed to be our honeymoon, however fake it might be. What would people think when you return to work just two days after the wedding? It is not like you would be sacked if you don’t appear even for a year.” It was after Jessica heard the echo of her voice that she realized that she was shouting.

“Everyone can think whatever they want to think, at least, you did not mind what the maids would think, why should I mind what my employees would think?” he challenged calmly.

“They would think that I don’t have the womanly or feminine erm… expertise to keep you for at least a week on our honeymoon. How would people look at me?”

“I guess that is for you to worry about”

Jessica noticed that he was throwing her words back at her and it made her even angrier. “This is the worst marriage ever. No wonder you had me sign a contract to marry you, no woman would marry such a self-centered man”

Andy’s face transformed before her eyes and she wanted to run but her stubborn nature made her stand where she was, returning his glare with equal measure. He grabbed her hand fiercely and all her courage seeped out of her, leaving her with dread. “I guess that makes us the same. You also accepted this contract because of personal gain so think twice about calling someone else names”

He was gone before she could even blink and she leaned against the door for support.

*********

Even as Andy alighted from the car about an hour later, he was still boiling in anger. Jessica had guts, he could give her that. No woman had ever confronted him hands down the way Jessica constantly did. She had the talent of getting him angry whenever she felt like. The frustrating thing was that he somehow felt that she was right. Self-centered, he muttered to himself with a grim face.

As he matched into the massive building, he did not notice the intense surprise on the faces of the security men; neither did he hear their greetings. He entered the office like a soldier instead of the calmly measured steps he was used to. The surprised looks he got from his employees made him aware of his environment. He returned their gaze with a stern glare and they all started pouring greetings and congratulations on his just concluded wedding, before returning to their duties.

Andy felt the eyes of staff on him as he entered his office. Again, Jessica had been right; coming to work was a stupid thing to do. However right she was, he told himself that he ought to be at work, if not, his workers would run the company to the edge of bankrupsy.

He hadn’t even sat down when the door opened. He was not surprised when he saw Tunji, his best man and his assistant, standing at the entrance with a bewildered look. “Hey man” Andy called.

“What is the meaning of this Andy?” Tunji asked, closing the door.

“The meaning of what? Andy sat down feigning ignorance.

“What are you doing here? You ought to be with your wife, this is your honeymoon man; the company is not running anywhere”

“My wife and I decided to use this time wisely instead of wasting it on a leisure beach. You know the challenges we have been confronted with by our competitors, staying back would just be useless”

Tunji was glaring at him. “So you could not trust me enough to know that I would handle the company properly till you are back?”

“Come off it man, I trust you; still it is scientifically proven that two heads are better than one. My being here gives us more chances. I don’t want to have another lengthy meeting with displeased shareholders” he powered his desktop and centered his attention on it.

Tunji shook his head. “If I were a woman, I surely would not envy Jessica.” With that, Tunji left, leaving Andy with a measured level of anger.

*******

Jessica walked barefooted on the beach sands that same evening as the breeze blew at her packed hair. She wanted to remove the bond and have the breeze blow her hair into disarray but she quenched the wild feeling. She had long ago stopped leaving her hair. In fact, she had stopped everything that could make her look attractive to the opposite sex long time ago. She wore oversized clothes, packed her head tightly upwards and used almost no jewelry at all except the occasional stud she had resorted to. Men had made her life a living hell and she had resorted to living her life alone with only her family and friends, until Andy asked her for a contract wedding.

Why Andy had decided to pick her, of all the women in the world still remained a mystery. Even at that, the thought that she could be bought with money, no matter the amount would have made her laugh but here she was, in an agreement to stick with a rich handsome workaholic for the sum of 20 million naira. Tears stung her eyes but she blinked them away. She had stopped crying a long time ago, she wasn’t about to start now.

“Hey lady” she heard a guy call and she turned. He walked up to her. “I am not lying when I say you are the most beautiful woman I have ever set my eyes on”.

From the physical outlook of the guy, he looked like someone within her age bracket. He was very slim but handsome, nonetheless. “Should I say thank you?” she asked.

He smiled. “I am Jack. You look vaguely familiar”

She took his hand. “Jessica”

“Cool. J.J; Jessica Jack. We are a perfect match” he murmured grinning.

“You dream a lot” She responded.

“Every reality started with a dream in mind”

Jessie seemed to think about that. “Not every dream sees the limelight”

“What are you doing dressed like this on the beach? You should be in shorts” he asked, changing the subject.

“What are you doing talking to me then? There are a lot of women here in shorts”

“Well, it is very easy to notice an outstanding woman”

“Why don’t I believe you?”

“Do you ever smile?”

Jessica noticed that she had heard that question for the second time that day. Andy had asked her that same question but she hadn’t given him an answer. She was about to give an answer when she heard a voice behind her.

“Hey sweetheart”. She did not have to turn to know that it was Andy. His voice was far different from every other guy’s. She swallowed and turned. He had a smile on his face but she sensed the anger beneath. “I have been looking for you” he said with his eyes on Jack who had become rigid.

“I came for a walk on the beach” Jessica responded sweetly as he stunningly placed his arm around her waist.

“I knew I had seen you before. Your wedding was carried by almost all the TV stations” Jack’s eyes were on arm Andy put around Jessica’s waist until he forced them upwards with a frozen smile. “Congrats” he murmured.

“Thanks” Andy said stiffly.

This struck Jessica as awkward as she swallowed bile that formed in her throat. The silence that followed was so uncomfortable and Jessica decided to put an end to the awkwardness. “Drew” she called, turning to him and placing her slender palm on his chest the way only a woman could. “Why don’t you walk with me?”

Andy felt a great sense of victory that stunned him. He looked into her eyes and quickly looked away. She was dressed in an unappealing way but the shabby dress looked to him like a challenge. He wanted to see what she was hiding underneath. But the idea vanished immediately it came and he mentally made a note of never allowing his mind to go astray. He kissed her forehead. “As your ladyship pleases” he gave a slight bow which had her grinning.

“It was nice meeting you” she murmured to Jack. She would have mentioned his name but she realized that she could not even remember his name. Andy’s arm around her waist was disturbing. Both of them walked for a long time without speaking. “That was an excellent drama you displayed back there. You could make it in the movie industry” she stated.

“Uhn?” Andy could not understand what she was saying

“I don’t suppose you were genuinely jealous, or were you?”

“Who is that guy?”

“You met him too, right? You know him just as much as I do” she said with faint amusement. The response did not satisfy Andy but he said nothing. “We are far from prying eyes so you can remove your hand from my waist now” Jessica said.

Andy extracted his hand instantly, like her body suddenly caught fire. He had forgotten his hand around her. He swallowed hard as he stared at the beach, wanting to dive inside for a swim. He ran his hand through the tiny waves of his hair as he got back to the beach house. He marched into his room without looking back.

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