Authors: Janet Adeyeye
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I dedicate this book to my mother for her unconditional support and love. Thanks, Mom.
As I walked down the aisle alone that day, if anything could explain what I felt that very moment, it would be pain. I had always dreamt about my wedding day and how I’d hold my dad’s hands while he walks me down with a huge smile on my mom’s face. But here I was, alone and holding on tightly to the bouquet while everyone stared at me. Or maybe they were just staring at my dress. It was flown in especially from Italy a few days ago and, I must admit, I never knew I was this beautiful until a make-up artist came into my room this morning and did some magic on me. My diamond necklace was specifically handpicked by my soon-to-be husband Angel Morero and had been given to me as a wedding gift. Something I know for sure must have cost a fortune. Apart from that, the simple fact that I was a black American was more than enough reason for them to stare at me. My shoes suddenly became tight. I could feel the angels in my belly singing hymns.
I suddenly wished again that I had my dad beside me, but that dream of having him walk me faded years ago after his sudden demise. I say sudden because I know it was a planned murder, but I wasn’t just going to allow him to die without my revenge. Not after discovering my soon-to-be husband’s family was responsible.
So yes, this whole marriage thing is nothing but a facade, a part of my plan to get into the Morero clan. I want to see them suffer twice as much as I did and even though I was able to wear a fake smile on my face as I walked down this aisle, I wanted nothing more than to see the whole Morero clan fall down in ashes one by one, starting with Elizabeth, their so- called mother.
My name is Kayla White, and I am not marrying my husband for love, but for revenge.
As I got to his side, Angel held my hands and squeezed them softly. He smiled. “You look beautiful, Kayla.”
“You look handsome,” I replied taking my gaze away from his face for a second to scrutinise his tuxedo. Of course, he must have spent a fortune to get this too. But without a doubt, Angel was the most charming man I’ve ever met with those blue eyes of his and the way he moved and talked. Everything about this man I didn’t love was fascinating to me. And unlike me, he was a Mexican-American. I slowly shifted my gaze to look at my mom. She was sitting in the front row, her legs crossed like a queen. Although, I know she hated the Moreroes twice as much as I did. After my father’s death, the Morero clan took his company from us. My father had partnered with them in his company The Matrix, the biggest information center/newspaper company in the whole of East LA. And as if that wasn’t enough, they humiliated us by sending us away from our apartment with a claim that it was the company’s property. A company that my father started with his own sweat. My mom had to swallow her pride and work for the Moreroes in their mansion as a maid because I was still in college. I remember how close the Morero clan were to my family when my dad was still alive. You can imagine. Your best friends turning to enemies overnight.
“I do,” Angel murmured
“I do,” I said shortly afterwards, a weak smile on my face. I watched him slide the ring into my fingers, then I reciprocated the action, slowly at first. I couldn’t say if I should be doing this. I looked at my mom again, she nodded then frowned. I looked around at the audience: at Elizabeth, Angel’s mom; at Clifford and Matthew, his brothers; at Zee and Alex the Morero twins, then back at Angel.
“Are you having second thoughts?”
I swallowed my saliva unable to find the right words to say. I slid the ring onto his finger and looked back at the priest.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
“Finally,” I heard my mom whisper, like for a second she was scared I’d get cold feet and leave.
Angel pulled me closer with his hand and kissed me passionately. Then hugged me. “Finally,” he whispered into my ears, taking me by my hand. I looked around. Everyone was happy. Everyone was smiling. Everyone except me.
My mom came and congratulated us now, hugging me first. “Good girl,” she whispered, and then and hugged Angel.
Then Elizabeth came and hugged me too. “Welcome to the family.”
I nodded. And that’s how one after the other, everyone came and congratulated us. After what seemed like forever at the church, we took the wedding to the Morero’s mansion to celebrate. At least, one thing was for certain, and that was my mother would never be used as a maid ever. They had hired a wedding planner to decorate the mansion already so all that was just left was to eat and dance and smile and mingle... something I wasn’t really good at. I secretly sneaked out of the party and went to the terrace for some fresh air. The night was cool. The breeze that came with it swept against my skin gently. I looked into the horizon, then at the stars. My mom always told me that whenever I miss my dad I should just count the stars and he’d be there watching over me. I knew she only said that to comfort me, but somehow I believed it. My dad was the best of everything. His only mistake was trusting the Moreroes.
“You did good.”
I turned around now to see my mom walking towards me. She was holding two glasses of wine, so I knew she wanted us to celebrate. I collected the wine from her with a smile, and then looked back at the stars
“I miss him, Mom. I miss Dad.”
“We’re doing this for him. He’d be so proud.”
“You think so?”
“I know so. Now let’s celebrate, okay? This is only the beginning.” We clicked our glasses together now and took a sip from it.
“You should go in now child. Don’t keep your husband waiting.”
I nodded and walked away back into the party. My eyes met Alex for a brief second. He just kept on drinking. I went over to him instead.
“Congratulations,” he mocked, gulping down another glass of wine.
“Stop. Don’t do this to yourself.”
“Do what?” He fixed his eyes on me now then smiled. “You look good, Kay.”
I knew he was drunk. “Come with me.” I pulled him back outside to the veranda. He kept staggering back and forth unable to stand still.
“Look at your hair.” He stretched his hands trying to touch me.
I moved back immediately. “Stop. Get yourself together, Alex.”
He stood still for a moment, then staggered forward till he fell into my arms “Can’t you see I can’t?” He cupped my face with his hands and kissed me. I wanted to push him away, or slap him, but I found myself pulling him closer instead. I circled my hands around his neck exploring the secret places of his mouth with my tongue.
He withdrew his mouth for a second, and our lips were still inches apart. “I love you, Kay.”
He was going to kiss me again, but I moved my face away instead. He hugged me, burying his face into my hair for a second. He sniffed it with his nose, refusing to let go.
“We shouldn’t be doing this. Anyone can see us.”
“I don’t care. I want you, Kay.”
“I am married to your brother, Alex.” I released myself from his hold and shifted away.
“To hell with him. You know you want to be with me. Not him.”
“I want to be with my husband, Alex. This has to stop. Tonight.”
“Then why did you kiss me back? It’s me you love, Kay. ME!”
“It’s over between us Alex. Whatever we had. It’s over.” I walked away, not daring to wait for another second or look into his face. I made my way back inside now and headed straight for Angel’s room. Everyone was looking for him downstairs already and they asked me to fetch him. I knocked on his bedroom door, then opened it. Angel was standing by the window, a glass of wine in his hands. He didn’t look back at me, even though he knew it was me. Had he seen Alex and I together?
He looked at me now and smiled. “Come. I want you to see something.”
I heaved a sigh of relief and made my way to his side. He pointed at the stars with the hand he used to hold the wine. “My dad. He’s up there watching over us right now. And I know he is happy.”
I smiled then rested my head on the side of his arm. “He must be so proud.”
“I know he is. You know, this room was especially made for me.”
“It has the best view. This is the only room that views the stars and moon so close.”
I looked back at the stars now. He was right. I’ve never seen the stars so close before. “I miss my dad.” I didn’t know why that slipped out of my mouth. Lukewarm tears started dropping from my eyes. Angel slowly wiped them off with a handkerchief he took out of his pockets.
“Take it.” He slipped it into my hands now. “My dad gave me that handkerchief,” he added.
I turned my gaze to look at it now. It had a blue print written on the side. “October 1985,” I read out loud
“That’s the only thing I have of him. I want you to have it.”
I smiled again and nodded, squeezing it tightly with my hand.
“Were you having second thoughts, Kayla?”
I turned my face to look at Angel. He looked sad, like he’d thought for a second that he’d lose me. I walked away from his side and sat on the bed with a gaze casted down into the handkerchief in my hands
“Do you love me?” he asked again, like he wasn’t so sure anymore. He came closer to me now and bent down in front of me holding my hands in his. I was forced to look at him now. The darkness in the room dimmed his perfect eyes. I frowned.
“Yes. Why else would I marry you?” My voice came out in more of a hush tone than I wanted. Why was he asking me that sort of question in the first place?
I suddenly felt all the knots in my tummy exploding. I had kissed him a lot of times before, so why did I suddenly find it impossible to do now?
His hands slowly slipped to my face, then he came closer with his face. I just sat there, eyes cast down. He kissed me on my forehead now, then my neck, then my lips. It felt like time itself had stopped or like we were the only two left in the world. I can’t say why. I suddenly had the urge to hold him now, but my hands betrayed me and pulled him closer until we fell against each other on the bed. He looked at me now, like he was surprised, or maybe he was just waiting to see who’d make the first move. And so I did, kissing him again. His tongue slid into my mouth, clashing with mine for a second.
I moaned when his hands like that of a magician slid into my dress, over my legs. I felt weak. I felt my body slowly surrendering to him. I wanted him more than any man I’d ever met. And then, there was a knock on the door.
We stopped for a moment, then our hearts started beating faster like we were doing something bad. We were afraid that our heartbeat would give us away, so we kept silent. Until we heard another knock. I signaled Angel to say something or else they’d think something had happened.
“What!” Angel yelled
“Sorry, sir. Everyone is asking for you two downstairs.”
“We’re coming,” I replied, then I looked at Angel. He gave me the no look, but I pushed him off me instead. “Let’s go.” I added while standing up. He stood up too shortly afterwards and stared at me. Coming closer, he adjusted my dress a bit more then smiled. We opened the door together. The maid at the door nodded at us as we walked past her. But I knew I saw a smile. I was flush.
This is a game Kay. You are not in love with this man
, I repeated several times in my head as we finally emerged from the stairs holding hands. Everyone started clapping and cheering, making me all the more embarrassed. The car was outside already waiting to take us to our honeymoon.
Everyone watched us as we got into the car. My mom came to my side of the window now and cupped my face with her hands. “Remember what I taught you,” she said in more of a whisper.
I nodded and smiled like she’d just said something funny. She released my face and started waving. Everyone joined too. Everyone but Alex. Our eyes met for a brief second, then the car started moving. I looked through the back window at the crowd. Most people had started going back inside. Alex still stood at a spot though, sipping his wine slowly. He was looking at me. I quickly sat properly in the car and looked forward. When I looked back again, I saw him still standing there like he was reading my mind. Angel suddenly covered my hands with his, patting them gently. I looked at him now and sighed, resting my head on his shoulder. Just one week, and we’ll be back.