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Mr. Williams stood by the massive window of his extra large house. Guards stood motionless in strategic positions but all their faces were stony. Andy’s dad now felt a measured level of regret for what he did to Jessica. The poor girl did not deserve the kind of treatment he had given her. Andy’s confession of love, coupled with Jessica’s disappearance made him know that what he had seen when he visited them was not a drama. If what he had glimpsed that night hadn’t been a drama, which he doubted now, then, he was sure that Jessica must have feelings for Andy also. Frankly, he had never seen Andy as devastated as he had been for the past week; it was like replaying the tapes of Andy’s reactions when he found out that his wife-to-be was dead. He wanted his son to be happy – that was what he promised his wife – but all he had succeeded in doing is add to his sorrow.
Mr. Williams drank from his cup slowly. He should make things right immediately they find Jessica. He prayed in his heart that she was safe and not in harm’s way, if not, he won’t be able to forgive himself. Andy would surely never forgive him if anything happened to Jessica. Even if he found Jessica, how would he make things right with her?
Andy’s hold on Jessica’s arm slackened as he stared at her, horrified. He just could not believe she had just mentioned the seven lettered word like it was nothing. ‘What is going on here’ he mused. Several emotions crossed his face; bewilderment, hurt, anger.
Jessica saw these expressions and she felt her heart sinking. She never wanted to cause Andy any pain but right now, she was not even sure if Andy had feelings for her. Why would he? She is nothing but a nobody who agreed to marry him for 20 million Naira while he is the most eligible man that ever walked the surface of the earth. Every woman had their eyes fixed on him, wanting him, no matter the cost. Apart from being so distractingly attractive, he is also terrifyingly wealthy with a capital ‘W’. How would she be able to keep up with him? It is obvious that she and Andy are both from two totally different classes, and even though she had had a taste of what it would feel like being rich when she was small, that does not seem to apply to this situation because, compared to Andy’s wealth, that still passes as being poor.
“Sit” Andy said instantly, snapping her out of her thoughts.
She turned puzzled eyes to him. “What? I am not-” Jessica murmured.
“Sit down Jessica, now” Andy rarely showed his controlling side but when he does, it can be a little scary. Jessica felt like a five year old when she finally sank her butt on the bed, gazing a bit angrily at Andy for making her feel so little. Andy grabbed the tray filled with food and put it in front of Jessica, carefully keeping his face blank.
“Eat up” he murmured, staring straight into her eyes. “All of it. We would have this discussion when you are through” Andy marched out of the room.
Jessica stared at the food in total confusion. Just seeing Andy had brought back part of her appetite but she doubted she would be able to finish half of the food set before her. Swallowing gently, she picked up the extremely big chicken and took a bite. It tasted so good that her stomach growled in response. She picked up her fork eagerly and scooped the fascinating fried rice into her mouth. A moan of delight escaped her lips as she became instantly aware of her empty stomach. The fried rice had so many ingredients and colours, exactly what she needed after a hunger strike. She smiled dryly but the pain she felt overshadowed her, almost making her lose her appetite.
Knowing that Andy would not be pleased, she struggled to eat as much as she could manage. When Jessica could not take more, she was surprised that she had eaten a bit above half of the food. She picked up the chicken and peeled off the meat from the bone. Jessica wondered why the food tasted incredibly sweet. She assumed that it was because she had been starving herself for a few days.
The door opened and Andy entered. His presence almost choked her and she focused on taking in a deep breath. Her throat suddenly felt dry and she picked up her glass of orange juice, draining it at once.
“Thanks” she murmured.
“You did not finish it” he said, gazing at Jessica without revealing anything. He looked strained and agitated but his stance was firm and strong. Jessica felt that he was revealing his business-like stance, using it to cover the awkwardness. She swallowed.
“I have had my fill”. She stated. Andy looked like he also needed the same treat but she was not sure if she should say it.
“It is ok wife” Andy said, stressing the word ‘wife’. Jessica shifted uncomfortably, looking at the walls instead of matching Andy’s intense gaze.
“Why are you doing this?” what she saw when he stared at her scared her. The pain she saw in his eyes was so unbearable; it cut through her like a knife. She suddenly wanted to cry. “You are killing me, do you know that?”
Jessica took a deep breath. “I don’t want to hurt you Andy, I really don’t”
“But that is what you are doing Jess. Do you know how it has been with me ever since you disappeared? I have almost driven myself crazy in my search for you honey, and now that I have found you, you want to leave me indefinitely? And you say you don’t want to hurt me?” Andy looked bewildered and shocked.
“I don’t Drew, I just-” she stood up and faced Andy as a cold shiver went down her spine. “Look at me Andy; I have been disgraced in the public. I have been humiliated beyond redemption. I feel people whispering behind my back everywhere I go” the tears Jessica tried to hold back came cruising down her cheeks. “I can’t bear it Andy, I just can’t. If I continue with you, the gossips would continue and I can’t put you through that Drew, you deserve something far better”
The tears on Jessica’s face seemed to hurt Andy more than anything. He closed the distance between them and held her face in his arms, wiping away her tears with his thumbs. The contact made Jessica shiver slightly. “Look at me” Andy whispered and Jessica hesitantly raised her eyes to meet his. “You don’t think I deserve you? You don’t think I deserve love?”
“What are you saying? Of course, you deserve all the love you can get Drew”
“Even if I have to get it from someone else? Is that what you want – for me to be with someone else?” Andy asked, with his eyes blazing.
Jessica felt all her blood drain out of her. “If… If it makes you happy” she breathed quietly, lowering her eyes, Andy had to strain to pick her words.
“You would be able to handle it?” Andy emphasized quietly.
The thought of Andy with another woman was like a sticky bitter bile in her mouth and she had the urge to throw up just by thinking about it. She could not open her mouth so she nodded softly.
Silenced stretched uncomfortably between then. “Fine” Andy said and left Jessica. Her head jerked up; alarmed by what she had just heard but Andy had his back to her as he went to stand by the wall. Finally, he faced her and leaned against the wall. Jessica could not tell what he was thinking about because his face was carefully blank.
“What?” she gasped out.
“You want out and I am consenting to it. Is that not what you want?”
Jessica stared at Andy like he had just lost his mind. She had expected him to beg and try to convince her but not agree. Does it mean he never truly loved her? She felt hurt and angry as she continuously stared at Andy. She choked and took his eyes away from her, trying desperately not to cry. She snatched her sandals from the floor and sat on the bed to put them on but her fingers were shaking so awkwardly that she just couldn’t.
“Let me do it” She did not know when Andy reached her side and her anger increased.
“No” she said too loudly. “I can help myself”
“C’mon, don’t be a baby” Andy’s voice held vague amusement and when Jessica looked, he was trying to hide his smile.
“What is so funny?” she snapped and her anger doubled. She would not tolerate being made a fool of. The tears she had been preventing dropped suddenly and Andy’s face clouded confusingly.
“Don’t cry, damn it” Andy said, alarmed.
Jessica wiped her face furiously with the back of her hand, pushing Andy’s hand away. “I am not crying, damn you. I just want to get-”
Andy silenced her with a firm kiss, stunning her. Once he had his lips on hers, he could not stop again; he devoured her mouth completely, using the kiss to reassure himself of Jessica’s presence. Jessica held on to him, unable to let go. “Can’t you see… that you drive… me crazy?” Andy murmured between kisses. Jessica put her hand in his hair, holding him close and allowing his words to sink into her. When they came up for air, they were both breathing heavily. “I can never let you go Jess, no matter how hard you persuade me. I love you, don’t you get it? I love you so much”
Jessica swallowed. “I love you too Drew” she was silent for some seconds, happy that the past few minutes had been a terrible joke. “But-”
“Shhhh… We would figure it out baby, OK?”
Jessica nodded. Andy sat on the bed and pulled her onto his laps. She placed her head on Andy’s chest, feeling safe with his strong arms around her.