Always One More Time #13 By Temitope Ogunyinka
It’s my day . . .
The day was finally here. The day she never thought could really happen in reality but only in her dreams. It was a dream come true.
Efe took a deep breath and allowed the make-up artist perform the magic of transforming her to a beauty queen. Funlola had told her it was her day and she should own it. No one else mattered; whether it was Adesewa and how Daniel looked down about everything was covering up with fake smiles. It was her wedding and it was happening. She was liking Funlola. In fact, she already liked her despite Daniel’s disapproval.
Funlola breezed into the room dressed in the colours of the day; Fuchsia pink and blue. She looked stunning in her Fuchsia pink Iro and Buba and blue Gele. Her accessories all blue. Her face perfectly made up.
“Are we almost done here? The wedding has to take place in a couple of minutes o!” Efe thought she would make a great wedding planner. She had offered to help even though it was few days to the wedding and had helped Daniel’s mother with the finishing touches.
Uche, Daniel’s sister, walked into the room dressed in her royal blue maid-of-honour’s gown that flowed down to the floor and covered her feet. “Oooh Efe you look so beautiful! My big brother is just a mu-mu for taking so long to marry you.”
Efe laughed lightly. “Thanks Uche, but God’s time is the best.”
“I hear u na.”
Uche strolled to her side and peered down at her while the make-up artist finished her work. As soon as the make-up was done they hurried her into her wedding gown and gushed over how she looked. The photographers were called in and they took pictures of Efe alone and then with both Uche and Funlola and the last one with Efe and her daughter who was dressed in a little bride’s dress.
There was a knock on the door and a female usher popped her head in and said it was time.
Efe walked down the aisle in her father’s arm as the choir sang to the hymn Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Daniel’s back was to her as he waited for her to join him at the altar. The wedding was taking place at her father’s church all the way in Ibadan. The reception was strictly by invitation but the church was free to all that wanted to be there. Today she wasn’t going to think about all the people that had looked down at her when she got pregnant. She was going to the let the comments they uttered about her finally finding a man to marry her and accept her wedlock child.
Dwelling on all that was a waste of time. What mattered was now.
The church was naturally beautiful with out the flowers that hung on the sides of the pews as well as the blue and pink ribbon-bows that were placed on either ends of the aisle. It had been a while she had attended a church service without the need for her camera but just to bask in the presence of God. There were no excuses as to why that happened. She had drifted long ago . . . She couldn’t place her mind on when exactly it had happened. Or was it that she had stopped seeing the need for it?
Jasmine raised her camera up and took snap-shots of the bride and groom. She had been to a few weddings and captured the faces of the couple as the Pastor pronounced them husband and wife; some were filled with joy and love, others with sadness and disdain. But today’s couple? The bride’s face had a mixture of happiness and sadness and the groom seemed indifferent. As the pastor presented the latest couple to the congregation the groom’s smile appeared forced.
God, please don’t let mine be like that. All she knew about the couple was that the groom was Dele’s good friend and he was forced to marry a woman he didn’t want. Dele hadn’t hesitated to say how much he disagreed with the wedding, but there was nothing he could do about it.
Jasmine just did her work and snapped the pictures. She moved down the aisle to where some people had just stepped in and took their pictures. She took a step back and bumped into someone and strong hands held on to her arms.
“I’m so sorry -”
She turned around to find a delectable piece of man standing in-front of her dressed in a blue Dansiki attire.
She almost pinched herself for staring. “Sorry about that.”
He smiled. “It’s fine. You’re working, it’s not like you have eyes at the back of your head.”
Jasmine gave a light chuckle and placed a strand of hair at the back of her ear, exposing the three piercings she had.
“Let me let you get back to work. Take care.”
I need a man . . . A good man that would let me forget about Dele . . . Jasmine spotted Funlola far in front. She was beautiful.
Am I not beautiful as well? Intelligent? What don’t I have that she has? Jasmine placed her questions at the back of her mind. She couldn’t afford to let it get to her; it would affect her work.
Adesewa got on her little black dress and red heels. Her Brazillian hair falling in soft waves down her back. She knew the wedding was over and they were all at the reception. She stayed still as Zainab applied the red lip-stick and Adesewa smacked her lips together to distribute it evenly. If she wanted to pull her plan off she had to dress the part. Only Zainab knew about the plan, Adesewa couldn’t tell Audrey for fear she would talk her out of it or tell her brother who would in turn tell Daniel and Efe.
She shook her head. She didn’t want that.
Zainab and Audrey had agreed to follow her there. So the trio walked into the reception hall together, the two ladies at either side of Adesewa. Just like Charley Angels. Attention was gotten very well. She spotted the couple seating at their designated corner. It had been a month plus since she last saw him. Her throat clogged up with tears that threatened to come but she bit the inside of her cheek to prevent that from happening. No tears today Adesewa Shonibare. Keep it together!
Suddenly, as if aware someone was staring at him his eyes found hers. His mouth fell slightly open and his eyes widened. He gawked at her; drinking in all of her.
Adesewa smiled, luck was on her side today. She stopped a waiter passing by her and took a glass of champagne from his tray.
She raised the glass in salute to him and took a sip of the amber liquid.
After which she dropped it on a near-by table and walked out. She took slow steps to her car, not because her heels were too high for her to walk in, but because she was expectant. She recalled her conversation with Zainab that morning.
“What if he doesn’t come after me?” Adesewa had asked Zainab for the umpteenth time that morning. Audrey was unaware of the whole plan.
Adesewa was extremely nervous at pulling it off.
“He would come after you.” Zainab had said.
“Are you sure??? ‘Cause I can’t risk another embarrassment. If he doesn’t come after me Zainab I would never take any of your advices again! See where you and Audrey have landed me in the first place.
“He would come after you.”
As soon as she heard her name she wasn’t disappointed. She stopped in her tracks but didn’t turn around. She felt him walk up to her with slow steps until he towered over her.
He looked lean. But Adesewa wasn’t bothered by all that. Pity weren’t in her books any-more.
“Don’t let him have the first words. Talk first!” Zainab’s advice echoed in her head.
“Congratulations Daniel. You are now a married man. How does it feel?”
He licked his lips. “Ade, I – .” He shook his head. “I’m sorry.”
She wagged a finger at him.
“Shh . . . I only came to congratulate you . . . But if you really want to apologize, I would only accept it on one condition.”
His brows drew together in a puzzled look. “What?”
She moved closer to him and ran her finger over his lips. The corner of her mouth lifted in a smile and she looked him in the eye.
“Make love to me now.”
He stepped back. “What?!”
She gave a half-shrug. “Yes, you want me to forgive you? Make love to me. Let’s go to the bathroom or wherever and let me show you how much of a mistake you made in not marrying me.”
“Ade you’re being serious?”
“Ade I just got married -”
“Forcefully, and I understand. I don’t blame you baby. I still love you and I know you still do. I’m willing to stay with you Daniel. I love you.”
He said nothing.
“Just tell me you don’t feel the same way and I would leave this place and not bother you again.”
“I love you Ade. You know that.”
“Then show me.”
He didn’t hesitate when he said yes and led her to the plush male toilet. He locked the door after him. Adesewa turned for him to unzip her and her dress slipped down to the floor. She heard him gasp and he took in all of her. She had purposely treated herself to the spa to let her skin glow as much as it currently did and had splurged on a new lingerie.
She faced him.
Daniel cupped her face in his hands and bored into her eyes. His thumbs caressing her cheeks.
He bent low and kissed her.
He couldn’t help if his eyes kept moving in her direction as she sat amongst the guests. He was seated with his cousin Uche, close to the couple. They had spoken a bit and caught up on each-other’s lives. But he was itchy to meet Funlola. He missed her teases.
“I like your fiancée.” Uche said as she popped a Samosa into her mouth. “She’s cool. How did you guys meet?”
“Thanks. She’s Audrey’s room-mate.”
“Oh? Audrey wasn’t too self-absorbed to let someone live with her? What was the catch?”
“I don’t really know.”
“So how long have you guys been together and how come I’m just hearing about it?”
“Erm – just recently.”
Uche snorted. “And you guys are getting married just like that?”
“What can I say? When God shows you your wife and gives you the go ahead, what else are you waiting for?”
“Hmm, I see your point. I’m happy for you John.”
John glanced at Funlola as she raised her phone high up and took a picture with Helen Paul. He knew the next place that picture was going to.
“Go and sit with her and stop staring too much. You’re clearly in love with her.”
Am I? God am I really in love with her? You don’t know what love is yet. The answer was laid swiftly on his heart.
“It shows abi?”
John chuckled as he excused himself and promised to be back. He walked over to Funlola who was dipping her spoon into the bowl of cake and ice-cream. He smiled. So far he knew she was a huge fan ice-cream. It was like her deepest weakness.
“Hi. Can I join you?”
Funlola looked up at him and he saw cake on the side of her mouth. He took a napkin from the table and helped her out with it. His eyes on what he was doing and she staring at him.
“There . . . It’s gone.”
He took his seat beside her.
“How’s it going? Have you eaten? Did they serve you well?”
“Yes PJ. I’m impressed at the catering company. They didn’t have us waiting for hours to get the food. We should use them for our wedding.”
John nodded. “Yes ma.”
“And then I was thinking if we could have velvet cake served to the guests instead of all those cakes that have that black black yeye thing inside.”
Huh? “You mean currants?”
“Yeah currants. Thanks.”
She took another spoon of her dessert. “Did you see your twinnie? She has been eyeing me since she got here with her friends.”
“I spotted Adesewa a while ago and Daniel following after her. I think you should check on him.”
John scanned the room to find Audrey seated with Zainab at the far end of the hall, but Adesewa was nowhere in sight. He looked at Efe who sat alone and had a smile plastered on her face as she listened to the MC crack jokes; something about chickens attending weddings.
He rose from his seat.
“Excuse me, I’ll be right back.”
He took hurried steps to the door and went to the parking lot. There was no sight of the both of them. He walked back into the building and thought of going to the men’s toilet to check if he would be there. He didn’t have to bother going in as Daniel walked out of the toilet with Adesewa behind him. He looked at the both of them. Adesewa ran her fingers through her hair and smiled at him.
“John, good to see you.”
She walked away, leaving the two cousins together. Daniel didn’t make eye-contact with John.
“Daniel what have you done?”
Efe was enjoying herself. She had taken Funlola and Uche’s advice. She stared down at her ring as the solitaire ring and little stones beside it shone. She was now a married woman and shared a covenant with Daniel and God. There was no going back. Not now, not ever. Daniel wasn’t exactly the happy husband but one day she hoped he would be. She looked up and searched the hall for her husband. He was no where in sight and the MC would soon call them forward for their first dance as a couple.
Her eyes came on Audrey and a beautiful black woman seating beside her. Is Adesewa here as well? Panic and worry enveloped her and she called Uche’s attention to it.
“I would check for him. Don’t worry.”
Uche took quick steps out of the hall. She had long put aside her heels and wore gold sandals.
Efe scratched her nose. Against Uche’s wishes, she couldn’t help but be worried.
Daniel adjusted his shirt and bow-tie.
“I didn’t do anything. If you must know we were just talking.”
“In the men’s toilet? Why not in a public area? What if it was Efe that saw what I did?”
Daniel snorted. “What did you see? You saw nothing. And I didn’t do anything.”
His cousin had an exasperated look on his face.
“Let’s get back to the wedding. I believe the first dance should be the next thing on the program.”
He walked away leaving John there. He let out a sigh. He had been close to being caught. But he liked the adrenaline from his actions. It was exciting and was happy to know Adesewa still wanted him in her life. Part of him was sceptical about it all but he knew if Adesewa was pissed she would lash out at him and maybe throw in a few girly punches. But asides that she couldn’t do anything.
He smiled to himself. Perhaps everything was going to go on better than he thought. Daniel knew his cousin wouldn’t say anything about what he saw. And even if he said anything he had no proof he had just slept with Adesewa. He greeted a few people on his way back to Efe’s side. She had her hands folded in her lap and he knew she was worried.
“Daniel is everything okay?”
“Yeah, everything is fine. Just had to make sure the caterers still have enough food for my friends coming in from work. You good?”
“Yeah, I was just worried when you didn’t come back soon.”
He grabbed one of her hands and squeezed gently. “You don’t need to worry. I’m fine and you’re fine.”
At the moment the MC asked them to step out for their dance. Daniel placed his hands on her waist and held her hand. Efe held his hand and placed the other hand on his shoulder. The tunes of KC and JOJO’s All My Life, played softly on the stereos. Daniel wished to be anywhere but there in front of everyone as they looked at them. Daniel saw his father nodding and and his mother’s eyes glistened with tears. Uncle Eghosa on the other hand had mixed feelings on his face. Like something was bothering him. Does he regret me marrying his daughter? It’s already too late for that.
For Daniel this wasn’t exactly how he had planned his wedding in his mind. He wanted to sing for his bride as she walked down the aisle and watch her face and probably see her have tears in her eyes as he sang a love song. In his mind it was Adesewa. But as the crowd clapped for them as the dance came to an end, he knew his dream may not ever came true.
Daniel was exhausted from the day. He closed his eyes as he laid on his back on the bed. There was no honeymoon abroad or anything fancy. They were at a plush hotel in Ibadan; tomorrow morning they would head to Lagos. His stomach grumbled. He was grateful they had few coolers of food from the party. He couldn’t even think of cooking and he was sure Efe was tired too. He heard the bathroom door open.
“I need you to please help me with something.”
And here goes married life day one . . . He opened his eyes and sat up. “What do you -”
The words failed to come out. He saw Efe standing shyly before him clad in nothing but a white lingerie. He swallowed hard. When did she develop those curves? He rose from the bed and walked slowly to her. He stared at her from top to bottom and looked into her eyes.
“Efe you look beautiful. Even more beautiful than in the wedding gown. I mean, I could notice some curves when you wore it but,” He looked back down again, “but this is spectacular.”
She raised her hand and covered her mouth. “Thanks. Are you just going to keep admiring me or what?”
His eyebrows rose. “I’m taking my time.”
He drew her close and bent his head low to kiss her. He put it far at the back of his mind that she was like a sister. He did away with the thought of weirdness and replaced them with the fact that she was a woman and was now his woman. His wife. He was only going to give her what was due her.
After all, it was her right.
Everyone had a past before they gave their life to Christ. So had Eghosa Phillips. Way back in his thirties he had been a man that loved a woman he knew he could never have. His family was against the relationship but he hadn’t cared. Samira was a beautiful woman. He allowed himself smile as he thought about her. She was too straight-jacketed and principled. She preferred things done in a certain manner and he preferred things done any way as long as it got done.
They had fought many useless fights but at the end of the day they would kiss and make-up. Despite how different they were from each-other and how stubborn she claimed he was, she loved him. She was willing to go against her family and religion to be with him but her father had threatened to do harm to her if she tried it. He didn’t mind killing her if it were his last option.
Eghosa had refused to let that happen and came to his senses, finally facing reality.
He had known all the while that they could never be together. He knew what God said about it, but he had just wished he could manoeuvre the idea into God’s heart so he could have her. He left Jos and moved to Ibadan to stay with his uncle. He started a new life and refused to pick her calls and read her messages. He wanted to forget her and be done with it.
I wonder what she went through when her father found out she was pregnant? He shuddered at the thought. Alhaji Baruwa was a cold-hearted man that took his religion serious. He would never have allowed his daughter keep the child, so how had she managed?
Eghosa raised his mug up to his lips and took a sip of his coffee, enjoying the scent of coffee beans. He closed his eyes as he inhaled it and opened them again. Zainab came to mind.
She was a spitting-image of her mother. But her eyes . . . Her eyes were his. He couldn’t imagine he had such a beautiful daughter. Not that Efe wasn’t beautiful, but Zainab was model material. Why hadn’t Samira told him all those years ago? What would you have done? Married her? It wouldn’t have happened. The thought was laid on his heart and he knew God was comforting him. But God she should have told me. I would have gotten to know Zainab long before now. I would have raised her up in Your precepts.
It’s not too late.
Eghosa agreed. It wasn’t too late. From all indications she was different from her mother. Very different. The belly-button piercings, the way she dressed, her out-look on life . . . After she had introduced herself to him she explained why she was there and not because she wanted to know him.
“I don’t need a father now. I’m good on my own.”
“Does she think she’s in America?” Eghosa shook his head as he took another sip. Yes, he wasn’t the best of fathers because Efe had slipped along the way, but he had forgiven her and loved her. She was his daughter and so was Zainab. God helping him, he would be a father to Zainab, whether she liked it or not. He couldn’t introduce her to Efe yet, not because Zainab had expressed disdain of her step-sister being her best-friend’s rival, but because he had no idea how to break the news to her.
NEXT . . .
She sighed and couldn’t stop herself from smiling. Last night had been wonderful.
Efe turned to look at Daniel who was still fast asleep. She said her prayers while in bed; thanking God for the wedding and letting it be successful. She thanked God for Daniel and asked for God to help their marriage.
When she was done she wrapped her bed-sheet around her and got out of the bed. Her leg stepped on his trousers. She picked it up and was about putting it on the bed when her eye caught on to something red.
She dipped her hand into his pocket and pulled out a lacy red pant. It obviously wasn’t hers. Her hips weren’t that small. She looked back at Daniel. He was still asleep. Who does this belong to?