Finally, the wedding day!
Everything happened as planned. Father Anthony had been impressive, delivering a short but powerful sermon during mass. Then the bride and groom exchanged vows. From the church, the party moved to
the Norfolk Hotel for the reception. The bride and groom went into their lodging to freshen up.
An hour later, the newlyweds showed up at the entrance to a jamboree abuzz with excited chatter. All eyes turned to the bride, dressed in a strapless cocktail dress made of silky black fabric. It
shimmered the same color of her nail polish each time the light from the low hanging chandeliers and flashes from the photographers hit her hands.
Chairs scraped as family and friends flung to the aisle to congratulate, hug and kiss her. It took about half an hour before the couple reached the high table. The sound of teaspoon rapping
on the side of the master of ceremony’s wineglass signaled everyone to silence.
Justin whispered to his son-in-law. “You need to welcome everyone. Just be brief.”
Ryan smiled into the microphone held for him. “Welcome and feel at home— “
The resulting cheers and claps drowned out his voice even before he could finish. He sat and narrowed his eyes on Olivia’s hair that fell in perfect curls on her bare shoulders and exposed back.
Her strikingly slender figure, with a long neck and cleavage showing in front, made her prettier than ever.
“That was awesome.” She adjusted her thigh-high slit dress.
“Told you I’m always shy before large crowds,” he said, then turned to his old friend from the society, Anthony, who’d come up to him. “Hey.”
“Mark sends his congratulations.” Anthony glanced toward Ryan’s former spiritual director.
“I saw him at the church.” Ryan waved at Mark. “He’s a saint. I thought he’d never want to see me again. I’ll come talk to him later.”
“Don’t stress. Just focus on her.” Anthony smiled, looking at Olivia. “I’ll see you later.”
Servers in black and white uniforms moved around, delivering hors d‘oeuvres on the tables.
“You look cute, stoop down a little.” Layla set straight her sister’s locks of curls.
Katelyn opened her mouth like she wanted to say something, but stopped short. Ryan saw that she held back a sigh and her shiny eyes revealed deep emotion. Justin squeezed her shoulder.
Olivia pressed her mother’s hands. “Mom, thank you for everything.”
Meanwhile, the jazz band started their live performance.
Ryan, not knowing what to do, fiddled with his wedding band. Still strange on his hand.
Ambrose cleared his throat. “There’s this five-year-old who, studying his parents’ wedding photos, asked his mom if she married his dad because he was good-looking.” He looked around, supposedly to
see if everyone was following.
“Hmm.” Justin nodded.
“’Not really’, the mom said, and the boy, shocked, continued, ‘Okay, did you marry him for his money?’”
“I can already see where this is going, but lemme not spoil the joke.” Martha picked a skewer of grilled shrimp.
Ambrose sipped on his whisky. “Ha. Ha. Ha. His mum was quick to refute, ‘No, he didn’t have money.’ The boy became even more confused. ‘Did you just feel sorry for him then?’”
Roars of laughter followed, but Ryan simply smiled. Sheepishly. Was the joke a veiled jibe at him? Anyway, he wouldn’t give Ambrose the power to ruin his happiness.
The gentry in Justin’s circles—neighbors and business associates--comprised the assembly. The men, wearing bow ties, tuxedos and frock coats, talked in subdued voices. The women and the girls
preoccupied themselves watching every detail of the ceremony.
Annie and Fred, married a month earlier, sat a few meters behind Martha. Dan had been invited, but never showed up—perhaps he still begrudged Justin over their fistfight.
Among those seated nearest to the bride were the bridesmaids and groomsmen, her siblings; Layla, Mike, Natasha, and Elizabeth’s kids, David and Carol. Olivia’s former classmates from campus, some
of whom were her common friends with Gisela, sat behind her siblings.
One commented. “I love that lady’s dress. See how she’s matched it so well with her earrings and strap heels.”
“Can you see her heels?” asked another, craning her neck to have a better look at Martha.
“I wonder why they put the reception late in the evening.”
“So much the better. There’s something so romantic about evening dinners,” another answered.
“The couples must look forward to when they’ll be alone,” said the lady with oversized boobs, likely held in position by a push-up bra and wearing a tight miniskirt that exposed the entire length
of her thighs in her seated position. “I hear he married her because of her family’s wealth.”
“Who cares, I like him. He’s simple and well built. Look at that chest and his biceps,” answered another. “And how well he’s behaving!”
“Well, we’ll see if they’ll last. Nowadays marriages don’t last.”
Instead of annoying him, the gossip only made Ryan cherish Olivia even more. All they said was true—he didn’t deserve her, only that it was mean of them to say it openly. His eyes inadvertently met
with Annie’s. Damn it!
He picked a satay beef skewer and leaned towards his wife. “I want to request the band to play me a song.”
“Is it by that West African lady?” Olivia smiled and leaned her head on his shoulder. “Go ahead, but just know I’m now officially jealous of her.”
Ryan looked around before he pecked her, not sure if this was appropriate. “Come with me.” He gave her his arm, and guided her to the stage, where he made his request.
First, there was a rustle of movement. Then, one by one, the guests joined them on the stage and they couldn’t go back. The dancing started. Jerry, his high school friend, and best man came over
and clasped the lapel of Ryan’s tuxedo. “May I, your excellency? You’ve already started sweating.”
Ryan felt lighter and fresher without the tuxedo. A female voice, leading the orchestra, distinctly rendered the West African song. A stout young man in a white shirt and black bow tie, running a
finger through his long mustache, had been dancing so close to Olivia, and Ryan had noticed her discomfort.
Another clean-shaven guy in an open waistcoat straightened his tie and pulled this dude aside. “Richie, what do you think you’re doing?”
The name ‘Richie’ rang a bell. “Is this the Richie you were telling me about?” Ryan embraced Olivia’s waist. “Your little secret, remember?”
She laid a hand on his shoulder, her feet moving rhythmically in time to the music. “He’s just silly, can I tell him off?”
“No, don’t. He doesn’t deserve our time.” Ryan kissed her, their slow steps moving with the tune.
There was nothing that could spoil his happiness this evening. Nothing mattered to him except her.
She leaned in and kissed him back. “You’re right, he’s such an asshole.”
A slender girl, in revealing clothes, came over and hugged Olivia. Ryan recognized her and shook his head after she’d gone.
“What is it, you know her?”
“I overheard her say I married you because your family is wealthy.”
“What! Are you for real? I know Tracie can be mean--”
“Wait, a minute.” Ryan craned his long neck and scanned the high table. “What’s the matter over there?”
Justin was rushing out, almost at a trot, his phone glued in his ear.
Ryan drew Olivia close. “It must be something to do with his business deals.”
A few minutes later, Gisela walked to the high table. Ryan and Olivia left the dance floor to confront her.
“Sorry, I don’t mean to disrupt your celebrations. I-I I won’t be a bother anymore. Just wanted to do it right, at least for the last time,” Gisela said.
“What’s wrong with you, are you crazy?” Katelyn clenched her teeth. “I don’t care what you want to do right. You’re not needed here. Just go.”
Gisela opened the envelope in her hands. “Here! The paternity test results. Thomas is Justin’s baby.” She placed the envelope and its contents on the table.
Martha gasped. “Oh. My. God!”
“Surely, you couldn’t even have some decorum to bring this up later?” Olivia whispered, moving closer to her. “What’s your aim? To spoil my wedding?”
The brief commotion on the table drew the attention of a few guests, who gathered around to behold the spectacle.
Gisela spoke over her shoulder as she hurried outside. “Sorry, Olivia, I know I’m the most horrible person you’ll ever meet. But please forgive me. This is the last you’ll see or hear of me.”
Olivia’s lower lip quivered as she sank into her seat. “Where’s dad? He must get her out of here.”
“Lemme go look for him, just stay here.” Ryan rubbed her shoulder, and turned to Angie, the maid of honor, who’d been standing beside Olivia all the while. “Please stay with her. I’ll be right
When Ryan came out, he dashed to Justin, who stood leaning on the black stretch Lincoln, decked out in ribbons and twisted coils of streamers, ready to whisk the groom and the bride away after the
party. He was rocking a baby in his hands. “Hey, where’s she?”
Justin jerked, perhaps surprised to see Ryan. “Who?”
“Gisela. She’s just from our table.”
Justin’s mouth fell open. “Are you serious? She asked me to hold the baby so she could use the bathroom. What did she say?”
“She just handed Katelyn the results of the paternity test and said the baby was yours, then ran out.” Ryan looked around. “I think she’s up to something. We should find her as quickly as
One of the security guards moved closer. “If you’re talking about that lady who gave you the baby, she’s run back to her room.”
Justin turned to the guard. “Her room?”
“Yes, she booked a room here last evening and spent the night here.”
“Which room number?” asked Ryan.
Ryan rolled up his sleeves. “I’ll check her out.”
“No, let me call her.”
The call went straight to voicemail. “No. Let’s just go back,” said Justin.
They walked back to the high table. People talked openly about what was happening:
“There they are.”
“Why is he carrying a baby?”
“She must have dumped the baby to the father!”
“What a shame, eh?”
“I’d do the same if I were Gisela. What he did was wrong. Shameless man, impregnating an innocent girl, then abandoning her!”
“Where is she?” asked Martha, taking the baby from Justin’s arms. “Give him to me.”
Ambrose pulled a seat for Justin, but he remained standing, vigorously stroking his mustache. “Let’s not draw unnecessary attention. I’ll sort this out.” He turned to the MC who’d also come to
their table. “What’s the next item on the agenda?”
The MC said, “Dinner’s next and then speeches from the best man and the maid of honor.”
“Okay, carry on, get people to their tables.” Justin turned to Ryan. “You guys can go back to the stage before everyone congregates here.”
“Dad, why’s she doing this on my wedding day?” Olivia’s cried. “I’ll never forgive her.”
“Honey, I’m so sorry. I’ll sort this out.”
Back on the stage, Olivia kept cursing. “Shit! What is she up to? She’s caused mama a lot of suffering as it is already.”
“She’s so wicked. Don’t let her ruin this moment,” said Ryan.
The MC announced everyone to move back to their seats as the servers brought out dinner. Others wheeled in two big trolleys. One carried a gigantic five-tiered delight cake, with a theme of
feminine glam. The other trolley bore bottles of Champaign and wine glasses. Then screams from outside! Some in the crowd turned. Others stood. A few rushed out. More followed.
“What’s the matter?” asked Olivia, returning a piece of cheese kebab she’d just picked.
“Ambrose, please go check out,” said Katelyn, fanning herself with a hand.
A minute later, Ambrose came back, eyes wide. His voice shook. “I hear there’s a lady who’s thrown herself from the third floor. The body’s unrecognizable.”
“Have you seen her?” everyone asked in unison.
Justin didn’t wait. He ran out.
When he arrived at the scene, he knelt over Gisela’s lifeless body. Blood flowed, thick and sluggish, from her broken skull, soaking her clothes and his hands. Her eyes were wide open, and her
irises held a sudden sadness. Her dress was turned up, exposing her light-skinned thighs that had once offered him warmth. Blood's coppery smell hung in the air.
Good grief! Why hadn’t he taken her seriously when she’d expressly told him she’d kill herself and the baby? Thankfully, she didn’t harm Thomas. But he’d have prevented her from committing suicide
only if he’d listened to her. His heart pounded and tears flowed freely as one question kept racing through his mind. Was he responsible for her death?
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