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EPISODE 12

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”

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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”

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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.

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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?”

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