The bride and chief were set before half past nine o’clock. We waited patiently for the car to arrive that would take us to church, just a fifteen minute drive from the hotel. We hadn’t spoken much since the last conversation. I didn’t know what to feel towards Vera or what Vera was feeling towards me. I didn’t care so much either, I was in the middle of nowhere and Vera was part of the solution even though she had no idea.
Just as we were about to leave after the car had arrived, I asked everyone else to excuse us for a little friendly chat which they obliged. Vera gave me that knowing stare, wondering what else I’d come up with.
“Of course you know I didn’t buy that sex maniac lunatic thing. I really want to know and feel I have the right to know. So are you now ready to speak?”
Vera shook her head in total disbelief. “Not again. I refuse to be drawn into this again. We must leave now.”
“If you don’t tell me right now I’d call Desmond and tell him anything that comes to mind and I swear I’ll make it damn bloody.” I warned sternly.
She retreated from the door and came close to me, close enough I could feel her breath. She wasn’t derided at all as her breath was steady. But then she spoke in a cold, still voice.
“So tell me girlfriend, why are you doing this? What is it you have refused to tell me? You were supposed to be my chief bride’s maid, but here you are playing the witch of Ooz. What exactly do you want?”
“The truth.” I replied coldly.
She nodded slowly and pulsed her lips. She then opened her purse and took out her phone which she forced into my hand and ordered. “Make the damn call. I saved his I-D as D.”
I was shocked by her action. With the phone still in my hand, she turned towards the door and slammed it hard behind her.
Frozen at that spot, I knew it was game over. She’d never get to talk to me, ever.
The grand piano hummed from a distance as we arrived the decorated premises of the Anglican Church. Beautiful gowns and suits, foreign and local, littered the whole place with everyone feeling important. Desmond’s SUV arrived accompanied by some other SUVs that formed a convoy, with both indicator lights of each vehicle blinking. I felt like we were receiving the president. I knew what I was expecting to see but not how classy it would come. The oil men had arrived with oil palms and wheels.
The bridal train was a crop of charming beauties, most of which were regular campus girls hired for the day and hoping to make a catch or two from the oil guys. Their long baby pink gowns with slight touches of reddish pink and white showels to cover their shoulders until the reception time.
To say these ladies were beautiful was to say the least about them. But then, I had my focus on the gentlemen alighting from the convoy of SUVs.
“So you never told me Dickson was the Best Man, how could you?” I leaned forward and whispered into Vera’s ear.
“I think something went wrong. He wasn’t supposed to be. You saw Dan, he was supposed to be the Best Man.”
I swore under my breath and maintained a cordial expression, somewhat deadpan. From then on, the wedding was more of a torment, a day of torture, just emotional dilemma. I felt so ashamed of myself. I had enjoyed the kiss initially and even dreamt about it but now, I hated Dickson for trying to take the place of my Collins. He was far cuter and better than all the oil boys put together, I mean my Collins. That thought gave me all the strength and energy required to scale this stream full of hungry crocodiles in my own mind.
We processed and I found myself sitting side by side with my now arch enemy. He kept making eye contact with me as he never ceased to turn my way. In return, I’d look away to avoid his incessant glances.
Immediately after the wedding we headed for the reception. Thankfully, the wedding was intended not to consume too much time. When it was time to dance, I disappeared through the back as I noticed Dickson was looking for me. How could I have known I’d never escape him?
As soon as the reception was over, or rather my part of the bargain, as I wasn’t interested in the post wedding party, I retreated to the hotel room to pick up my belongings and leave. I was really done with putting up with Vera’s fortunes. I wanted to be gone from her and far away as much as I could.
I picked the things I owned and started to leave. As soon as I stepped into the hallway that led to the elevators, he grunted from behind me and startled me.
“Sorry I didn’t mean to startle you.” He apologised sincerely.
“Well, always find a better way to announce your presence.” I retorted.
“Maybe next time I’d bring along a praise singer… All hail King Dickson.”
“It’s not funny,” I rebuffed him sternly.
“Oh, okay. So why are you leaving so soon. I thought you’d stay back for the party tonight. You don’t wanna miss it, do you?”
“I’m sorry, but I have a flight to catch.” I started leaving but he trailed behind me.
“But why in such a hurry. At least you can still make the trip tomorrow morning. Today is Saturday, and tomorrow is Sunday.” I didn’t reply him and walked through the gaping elevator doors. He joined me.
“Okay fine, I just wanted to apologise for last night. I lost a very impulsive battle.”
“How am I supposed to be concerned with what you want?” I was deliberately being annoying.
“Okay fine, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. I thought I could use tonight to make up for it.” He said with both palms joined together like a kid praying in the kindergarten.
I didn’t utter a word until the elevator came to a halt and the doors opened again to let us out.
“You know what?” I eventually said to him, “I’m good and fine. At least you can see for yourself. Good bye lover boy.” I didn’t look back again until the cab I had chattered drove me off the hotel premises.
On my way to the airport, a text message arrived and Collins ID. I smiled to myself and opened to read.
“FIFA, sori, Fifi my Fifi. Ope ur on ur way alrdy? Dnt wnt u 2 miss dt flight. Lots of surprises await u, red red 9ts???.”
I was smiling hard when I finished reading and enjoyed the splattering rain against the window of the cab. It had started raining. Looking out the window, feeling the cold, hugging myself and hoping it would all be over in another 2 hours time maxi. I wouldn’t want to miss red red night for any boring wedding party.
Indeed, Collins had a huge surprise waiting for me in Lagos.