Read Chapter 37 here.
“Don’t overthink this, Naicy. It’s just a bad dream,” AJ said as they worked out at the gym.
“I can’t help it. It felt so real, AJ.”
“Dreams are supposed to feel real.”
“Not all the time. Sometimes I know I’m dreaming…like I’m looking on as the events fold…like I know I’ll wake up before things get too far but this one…I felt the shock run through my body. Do you think I should ask him?”
“Ask him what?”
“If he’s having second thoughts?”
“Uh huh…perhaps this is a caution to straighten things out before things get worse. Geez, I don’t know what I’m going to do if that happens in real life. I would have to relocate to another continent…just because no other planet is habitable at the moment. How am I going to live with myself? First, I was dumped after being proposed to in front of my family and then jilted in front of the altar? That must be the 21st century definition of cursed for real!”
“Stop talking nonsense, Jackie! You’re not cursed. Life just dealt you a bad hand. Perhaps you could find a subtle way of finding out if he’s having cold feet. If he is, you could hold on with the wedding and just move in together to work things out. Technically you are married so…”
“And miss out on my white moment? Please don’t kill a girl’s dream.”
“You can opt for a simple blessing. The marriage is more important than the ceremony, Naicy.”
“Says the bride who got her dream wedding. I get you but there must be something memorable about this step I’m taking. If I’m not getting married to the man of my dreams, then at least let me get the ceremony.”
“Since the man factor has changed, the more reason the ceremony must change as well. Or else your mind will still be playing the ‘what if’ games with you even during the vows. And besides, if your heart is not into it, just bow out and go ahead and be with Dante.”
“Nope. That ship has sailed.”
“How? Has he found someone else to propose to this quickly?”
“Don’t be mean. We just called a timeout. I don’t know if going to see Cece was part of it…but yeah.”
“Why didn’t you tell me it was Cece you went out to see that day?”
“And relieve you of your wild imaginations of me and Dante hooking up before my traditional marriage? Not a chance. You deserved every minute of that torture for ever doubting me, my friend.”
“Now who’s mean?”
They both chuckled.
Dante and the Bineys sat grimly in front of the doctor, anxiously waiting for the autopsy results. The seconds never seemed to end whilst he glanced at the report. Finally, he lifted his head and looked at them.
“It was the cancer; no foul play. Judging from the level of damage in her system, I would say the last month she lived was even a miracle. You should be grateful you had more time to be with her.”
They all sighed.
“Can’t believe my baby is really gone,” Mrs. Biney said and burst into tears. Her husband rubbed her back.
Dante closed his eyes and moments spent with Cece, laughing, sleeping and arguing with Cece flashed in in his mind. He opened his eyes and felt the pain of her loss. He didn’t know his hand was trembling till Cece’s mum held it. He looked at her and gave him a comforting nod. They were in this together.
They all drove to the Bineys’ residence to make final arrangements for the burial. After they have had the hard talk about what to do concerning the final burial rites, they had lunch together.
“So…Dante, I know you’ve been out of the office since…Eyram’s passing. I know we’ve butted heads for some time now but we are still family. You’re the father to our granddaughter so we are forever connected. I wanted to know if you still want to continue to be the CEO of Noble Realty because it’s yours if you want it.”
“I’ll think about it,” he said quietly. He was thinking of a way to cut all ties with him so he could start afresh with his life and that of his daughter.
“In this moment of grief, let’s put the past behind us and move on together, shall we?” Mrs. Biney said, holding the hands of both husband and in-law. She squeezed them like her life depended on it.
Jackie laid in Julius’ arms on the couch surrounded by his things packed in boxes. He sipped from a glass of wine.
“Want some, honey?”
“No, thank you.”
They both laughed from a scene they were watching from the Brooklyn Nine-Nine show showing on the TV.
“You’re not having second thoughts about the wedding, right?”
“What? Me? Absolutely not. Are you?”
“No, certainly not.”
She sat up straight and looked up at him.
“What is it, Jackie?”
“I had a dream that you dumped me and it’s been haunting me since. My love life has sucked ever since I can remember and I would hate to have it climax in such a humiliating way so please tell me…do you still love me enough to marry me?”
“I love you more every day, Jackie Yankson. The question is, do you love me enough to marry me?”
“Yeah, I do Jules. I really do.”
The kiss he gave her put her heart at peace. Everything was going to be alright.
“You look beautiful, Naicy,” AJ complimented as they stared at each other in the mirror.
“Are you ready for this?”
“Yeah…after my mama’s prayer when putting the tiara and veil on me, I feel ready. I’m getting married!”
“No tears please…can’t afford to ruin your makeup just yet.”
AJ held her hands.
“You’re beautiful, Naicy, both in and out. You love hard and all out. That’s what draws people to you so don’t ever lose it. Marriage isn’t easy; you just have to make up your mind to work it out every single day. All you have is each other and God. We can plan couple trips together, prayer retreats, counseling, babysitting…the whole works, okay?”
“Okay,” Jackie said and hugged her.
“Now let’s go before we get there late. The pastor was very emphatic about that.”
“Just one minute more. This hug feels like heaven.”
The door opened. They pulled apart.
“We are ready, mum.”
A second look at her suggested something was wrong.
“What is it, mum?”
She looked at the phone in her hand and back at the young ladies.
“There has been an accident.”
“Jackie!” AJ screamed as Jackie fell on her. Her mother rushed to them as AJ laid her on the floor. AJ took her hand fan and started fanning her face.
“Nana Esi, wake up! I didn’t say he was dead. Wake up, please!”
“Jackie…Jackie, please wake up. I’m here.”
Jackie’s eyes opened slowly and fell on Julius’ face.
“Hey babe…are you alright?”
“Are you okay? I heard…” Jackie said, sitting up.
“Yeah, I’m fine. My car developed a brake fault…today of all days but I’m fine. We are getting married today.”
“Oh thank God. Oh no, you’re not supposed to see me in my dress!”
“Oh I don’t care about all those myths. I just wanted to see that you were alright. I guess your mother didn’t tell you the full story before you passed out. I know Hon. Biney had something to do with this.”
“What? You just said it was an accident. Why would you think he would have anything to do with this?”
“I just know, okay? And I think it’s about time he got paid back for all his misdeeds.”
“What are you talking about, Jules? I don’t want you having anything to do with the Bineys. They messed up my life the first time; I’m not letting them into my life this time.”
“Don’t worry, I’m going to keep you safe…”
“No…I don’t want you having any business with them. I’m serious, Julius. The Bineys are a deal breaker for me.”
“Yeah, for real. I’m not going to the altar if you’re bringing the Biney baggage with you.”
“Alright. I’ll let it go.”
“Promise me, Julius. I can’t believe we are having the conversation hours to our wedding.”
“No need to get anxious, my love. I promise I won’t have anything to do with Hon. Biney.”
Her mother came in.
“Can we please leave already? We are almost an hour late.”
Julius helped Jackie up.
“See you soon, honey,” he said and kissed her cheek.
He left the room.
“Feeling better, dear?”
“The Bineys are bad news. He shouldn’t think of going near them,” AJ said on their way to the church.
“That’s what I tried telling him. I can’t have daughter and father ruining my love life in this lifetime. I’ve suffered enough.”
“I agree but since he promised he won’t, let’s hope he lives up to his word.”
“Yeah…I just wished this had come up sooner.”
“It would have been your get out card, huh?”
“For sure. He once manipulated Julius to make my life miserable, remember? I can’t imagine having him as an enemy. It’s too dangerous.”
“It will be fine. You can talk about it more after the wedding.”
“I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
Jackie’s mum clapped passionately with tears in her eyes. Finally, her daughter was married. To a gentleman as well. What else could she ask for? Now she could move on with her life. When their eyes met, they both smiled. This was the day they had both been looking forward to for a while.
“Congratulations, Jackie,” Edem said as they hugged.
“Thanks, Edem. I’ve not forgotten my promised dinner treat.”
“Neither have I. Now we can have a double couple dinner courtesy yours truly. Let me know when you will be free and I’ll set it up.”
“Will speak with your wife.”
“Sure. You look amazing by the way. You are glowing.”
“Thank you. I feel at peace.”
“That’s the best feeling in the world, trust me. Welcome to the club, dear.”
Jackie smiled when she saw Debrah approaching. They hugged briefly.
“Did you come alone?”
“Yep. He couldn’t make it. He said it would be too painful for him to watch. He sends his blessings though.”
“I understand and tell him I’m grateful for his blessings. I appreciate it.”
“Thank you Julius for making my daughter smile again,” Jackie’s dad said, shaking his hand gratefully.
“She’s a tenderhearted girl. Promise me you will take good care of her heart. It’s the biggest part of her.”
“I’ll do that with everything that I have…every day, sir,” Julius promised. He coughed.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes, just a little chest pain,” Julius replied and coughed again. He sputtered out blood.
Jackie’s face drained of color when she spotted her husband fall against her father. She rushed to them.
“It must have been the impact of the accident earlier. He refused to go to the hospital saying he felt fine. He only wanted to see you first,” Julius’ best man and friend told Jackie.
They put him in the back seat of his Range Rover and Jackie got into the car. AJ joined in the front seat and the best man drove off.
“Hang in there, Jules. You’re going to be fine.”
“We are going for our honeymoon as planned. I’m not going to ruin the experience for you.”
“Don’t worry about me, Jules. I need you to be fine.”
“I will be,” he said faintly as he squeezed her hand gently. He coughed again.
“Please hurry. I think he’s getting worse.”
“I’m doing my best.”
The doctor informed the family gathered that the impact of the accident had caused some internal bleeding but they had brought him in right on time. He was going to be fine. After some time, Jackie was allowed into his room. The beeping sound of the machines filled the room.
She sat next to him and held his hand. She wiped her face with her other hand.
“I’m so sorry, Jules; so sorry that my bad luck at love caught up with you. If I could take your place and feel your pain, I would. Please don’t leave me. Come back whole so we grow old together…”
She kissed the back of his hand and her tears fell on it. She wiped it away. She put the hand down and placed her forehead on it. She kept sobbing until she felt his hand squeeze hers. She lifted her head and looked at him.
“Hey,” he said softly.
“You’re awake. Thank God!”
“Please don’t cry. I hate to see you cry.”
“I can’t help it. Why should this happen today of all days?”
“Life happens, honey. Don’t worry; I’ll get well soon and we’ll go on our honeymoon, okay? I won’t let that pass us by.”
“I don’t care about any honeymoon as long as you are alive and well by my side.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
The door opened and Julius’ parents were ushered in.
“Oh my son! So glad you’re awake!”
Jackie wanted to stay by his side but Julius persuaded her to go home and change from the gown. Wearing the dress would make her more depressed.
“Go home where? To my parents’ house? I don’t want to on my first night and neither do I want to enter my matrimonial home on my first night alone. Both seem as bad omens to me.”
“Don’t think like that. I’d prefer you stay at your parents’ house so you are not alone. I wouldn’t want to leave you more vulnerable than you already feel.”
“I agree. I’ll take you,” AJ said.
“Thanks, AJ. You’re a great friend.”
AJ smiled at the compliment. Jackie kissed his forehead.
“I feel like no matter how close I get to leaving home, something just keeps me there.”
“Now you’re being superstitious. Julius is going to be fine and you’ll move to your home, okay?”
“When I saw him fall, I thought I had lost him. I thought I had suddenly turned into a bride widow.”
“Let’s be thankful he’s alright. All this will be behind us soon. Cheer up, Naicy.”
Her phone rang. She answered it.
“Hey…how are you feeling? Debrah told me what happened.”
“I’m fine. Yeah, story of my life. Julius is doing okay.”
“Good to know. Hope you are okay.”
“I am. Thanks for checking in. I’m exhausted.
“Can imagine. Get some rest. Will check up on you later.”
“Thanks; I appreciate it. Bye,” she said and ended the call.
“Was it who I think it was?” AJ asked.
Jackie dabbed her face with tissue and blew her nose. She felt too tired to reply.
Julius picked his phone. He typed a message: It’s back on.
After a few seconds, a reply came through: Are you sure? I thought your wife said no.
The bastard almost got me killed and rendered my bride a widow. There’s no way I’m going to let him get away with it.
If you say so. So when?
After my honeymoon.
Julius removed the blindfold from Jackie’s eyes. She gasped at the setup of the candlelit dinner.
“This is just like I dreamed and told you about. Oh gosh…you were really paying attention.”
“Of course I was. I always pay attention when you speak,” he said and kissed her cheek. He pulled a chair for her to sit down. He sat down as well.
“I am so glad to be here with you right now. Two weeks back, I was growing paranoid of becoming a widow.”
“And I regret that you had to go through that. But I’m here now. There’s nothing to fear. I think that deserves a toast, doesn’t it?”
“It surely does,” Jackie said, raising her glass of champagne.
“To life, love and happiness.”
As they danced to a tune after dinner, Jackie admired the ring on her finger. The glistening jewel was from a diamond collection from Saint Tracy.
“This is beautiful, Jules. This must have cost you quite a fortune. Honestly, I was a bit worried when you said you’d choose the ring by yourself. But, this is perfect…much more beautiful than I could ever imagine. Thank you,” Jackie said gratefully.
He kissed her forehead. “Beautiful just as you are. I’m glad you love it.”
“I promise to love you to the best of my ability…so help me, God.”
“And may my imperfect self be willing to submit to you as the head of our family, so help me God.”
“You were paying attention to the counselor. That’s great,” Julius said. They both chuckled.
Hon. Biney was snacking on some peanuts and glancing through the Daily Graphic when his phone beeped. He picked it up.
Your cup is full, Honorable. Your time to pay for every hurt you’ve caused is up. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Hon. Biney scowled. It was from a private number. He wondered who it could be. He had a number of enemies and he wasn’t sure who would be this stupid to threaten him like this. He had no patience for such cowardly nonsense. He’d put his men to it to immediately bring an end to it. Elections would be coming soon and he couldn’t afford to lose his seat over loose ends like this.
© Josephine Amoako 2018
Read chapter 39 here.