It was the day of the wedding and so far, everything was going as planned. Father Anthony had been impressive, delivering a short but powerful sermon during mass, in which the vows were exchanged.
From the church, the party moved to the Norfolk Hotel for the reception. The bride and groom went into their lodging to freshen up.
After about an hour, Ryan and Olivia showed up at the entrance to the jamboree that buzzed 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 cameramen hit her hands.
There was a scraping of chairs as family and friends flung to the aisle to congratulate, hug and kiss the newlyweds. 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 cheers and clapping from the assembly muffled 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,” said Olivia, adjusting her thigh-high slit dress.
“I told you I’m always shy before large crowds,” said Ryan, before he turned to his old friend from the society, Anthony, who’d come up to him.
“Mark sends his congratulations,” said Anthony, looking toward Ryan’s former spiritual director.
“I saw him at the church.” Ryan waved at Mark, then continued talking to Anthony. “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.”
The waiters and waitresses, in black and white uniforms, moved around, serving hors d‘oeuvres on the tables.
“You look cute, stoop down a little,” said Layla, setting 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 stretched a hand and 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. It felt strange on his hand. He'd have to get used to it.
Ambrose cracked a joke, perhaps to clear the emotion in the air. “There’s this five-year-old who, studying his parents’ wedding photos, asked his mom if he married his dad because he was
good-looking.” He looked around, supposedly to see if everyone was following.
“Hmmm.” Justin nodded.
Ambrose continued. “'Not really,’ the mom said, and the boy, shocked, continued, ‘okay, did you marry him for his money?’”
“I can already guess what the mother said, but lemme not spoil the joke.” Martha picked a skewer of grilled shrimp and focused her gaze on Ambrose.
Ambrose took a long drink of his whisky before continuing. “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
Everyone burst with roars of laughter, but Ryan simply smiled sheepishly. He felt this joke was a veiled jibe at him, but he didn’t care. He wouldn’t give Ambrose the power to ruin his
The assembly composed of all the gentry in Justin’s circles--neighbors and business associates. The men, draped in 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 just married a month ago, 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 voice answered.
“The couples must be looking 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 coz 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.”
Such was the gossip among Olivia’s friends.
Instead of getting him annoyed, their comments 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 leaned her head on his shoulder, and a smile of happiness reflected in everyone who looked at her, beamed on her radiant face. “Go ahead, but just know I’m
now officially jealous of her” She teased.
Ryan looked around before he pecked her, not sure if this was appropriate. “Come with me.” He gave her his arm, and guiding her through the aisle went to the stage, flooded with lights, to make his
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?” asked Ryan, embracing 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 cell phone glued in his ear.
“It must be one of his business deals,” said Ryan, drawing Olivia close.
A few minutes later, Gisela walked to the high table. Ryan and Olivia stopped dancing and went back to their seats.
“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 was saying.
“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. “The DNA results are out. Coral is Justin’s baby.” She placed the envelope and the letter on the table before Katelyn.
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, surprised to see Ryan. “Who?”
“Gisela, she’s just from our table.”
Justin’s jaw dropped. “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 DNA and said the baby is yours, then ran out.” Ryan looked around. “I think she’s up to something. We should find her as quickly as possible.”
One of the security guards volunteered information. “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. “Let’s just go back and figure it out,” said Justin.
“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!” were the comments in the crowd, when Justin and Ryan walked back to the high table.
“Where is she?” asked Martha, taking the baby from Justin’s arms. “Give him to me.”
Ambrose pulled a seat for Justin to sit 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?”
“Dinner’s next and then speeches from the best man and the maid of honor,” said the MC.
“Okay, carry on, get people to their tables.” Justin whisked the MC away and 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 lips twitched with a whisper. She must have restrained herself so as not to draw more attention. “I’ll never forgive her.”
“Honey, I’m so sorry, I’ll vehemently deal with her after this.”
When they went back on the stage, their talk was disjointed this time round as Olivia couldn’t hide her annoyance with Gisela. “What is she up to? She’s caused mama a lot of suffering as
it is already.”
“She’s so wicked. But don’t let her ruin this moment for us. Otherwise, we’ll be helping her achieve her aim,” said Ryan.
The MC announced everyone to move back to their seats as one set of waiters and waitresses started serving dinner. The other set 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. Just then, screams were heard from outside and half the crowd ran to the source of the
“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 her right hand.
A minute later, Ambrose came back, eyes wide open. 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 warmth, now quickly turning cold and pale. And the smell of copper hung thick in the
God, 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 Coral. 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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