“Taffy Must Not Marry Zed”
Taffy said yes, of course. Zed was becoming a hard man to say no to, it seemed. She really couldn’t remember how the dinner ended; everything was a blur after he unearthed a ring from his pocket and slipped it on her finger. He told her he’d been carrying it around with him for weeks, waiting for the right time to ask her.
Taffy kept staring down at the fantastic diamond cluster every few minutes, not quite able to believe that he actually, truly wanted to marry her. She’d known he was serious about their relationship, but seeing the final proof, well – it was taking some time to really sink in!
The final course was taken away, the tab settled, and soon they were heading out to where his car was parked. Taffy got in beside him, feeling somewhat bereft that the enchanted evening would soon be over. Cinderella returning to her ashes, she thought with a small smile.
Starting the car, Zed glanced at her and caught her expression. “What’s the secret smile about?” he teased.
She only shook her head, looking out of the window, at the brightly-lit Lagos streets, with the crowds outside the swanky nightclubs, and the late-night eateries. Everyone seemed to be trying to make themselves happy, one way or another. It was a happiness that was well paid for, but it was worth it. She sighed deeply when she realised that there was one happiness that was always free: Zed’s love. It was a gift she knew she would cherish forever. And that thought made her realise there was one gift she herself could give in return. . .
“It’s only eight p.m., Zed,” she broke into the comfortable silence within the air-conditioned car, her voice soft yet clear, “Don’t take me home just yet. We could. . we could go to your place.”
“Okay, if that’s what you want,” he said slowly, glancing her way once more. Taffy smiled reassuringly at him. “I just don’t want the night to end,” she told him, putting out a hand to squeeze his briefly. She knew he usually spent his weekends with his parents, but he had his own flat, very tastefully furnished with a bold, modern decor that still felt quite inviting even as it awed you with its grandness. ”Not yet, anyway. But if you’re worried about my aunt and uncle – ”
“I’m not,” he told her, “And if it gets too late, you could stay over and I’ll think of a good explanation.” He grinned mischievously, but then sobered up a little as he regarded her for a moment. “You really want to come home with me?”
She nodded, her lashes swooping down and shielding her from the warmth of his gaze. The car seemed to pick up speed, and the sudden smile on his face was happy and infectious. “Alright, princess – and I promise that you’ll have nothing to fear from me. I’m one man who can say that.”
They shared a glance, and she knew what he meant. “I trust you, Zed,” she told him quietly. “You’re the one man I can say that to.”
At her words, he took her hand and kissed it with gratitude, before returning his attention to the road ahead. “Let’s go home
.” * * * * * * * ** * ***** **** ****
She had simply wanted them to be alone, away from strangers and bright lights. Once inside his flat, she kicked off her heels, threw off her pashmina, and just thunked herself on the nearest sofa.
“Make yourself comfortable,” he chuckled, slipping out of his own jacket, and loosening the top buttons of his shirt. “I’ve got some wine, or a cold soft drink if you want one. Or shall I just make you a nice cup of tea?”
She laughed; she loved how he could make her do that so easily. “Tea sounds nice.”
“I may not know how to fry an egg, but I do know how to rustle up a great brew,” he joked when he finally returned with two steaming mugs, only to find that she had dozed off on the sofa, her head falling to one side. His heart softened at the sight of her, her face free of any lines of worry, so beautiful and sweet. Putting the mugs on the table, he decided she must be tired and would be more comfortable resting in the bedroom, so he gently lifted her into his arms.
In the dimly-lit room, he laid her upon the sheets, unable to resist planting a kiss on her softly inviting lips. Her eyes fluttered open, and he began to draw away, only to be imprisoned by the slender length of her arms wrapping round his neck.
“Rest now, my love,” he told her huskily, though his senses swam with the scent and feel of her, the allure so strong he was afraid he’d be incapable of tearing himself free from the force of it. She responded with a dreamy shake of her head.
“Only if you stay close beside me,” she whispered, and he found himself complying somewhat hesitantly. He’d been very good at controlling himself over the past months, but he wasn’t sure how he would cope with such close proximity. His heart was already pounding so hard in his chest he was sure she could sense it as he stretched out beside her, snuggling her close to him. Taffy buried her face in his neck, inhaling deeply and sighing, enmeshed in his reassuring warmth. Suddenly bold, she let her hand roam freely, stroking down from his chiselled jaw, to the furry vee exposed by his unbuttoned shirt, slipping lower and lower till his hand gripped her wrist and he gently asked her what she thought she was doing.
Her reply was to lift her head and fuse her lips to his. He caught his breath sharply, and then it was like he was ignited: crushing her against him, he kissed her back with a harsh, deep hunger. Taffy marvelled at how hot his hands were as they raked all over her quivering frame; it was like he was on fire! Now she realised how much restraint he’d kept himself under ever since they’d started dating, and it made her love him even more, even as her own body thrummed with an answering bolt of desire. She felt him cup her breast, and his fingers seemed to scorch right through her clothes, stiffening her nipples and sending a melting sensation slithering between her legs.
A helpless little moan escaped her throat, and he broke away with an effort, and even in the dim room, she saw the flames blazing in his eyes. “I always felt you wanted us to wait, Taffy,” he said raggedly, “But if you don’t stop me now. . .”
“Does it look like I’m capable of stopping you?” she replied, her own voice far from steady, but quite clear. And to convince him of her intent, her fingers danced past his navel down to where the manly length of him was outlined, rigid and throbbing, through the fabric of his slacks. She fondled him with daring possessiveness, and he groaned.
“Taffy,” he growled, before turning her unto her back and kissing her moistly, lingeringly. His hand slipped underneath the hem of her dress, seeking, searching, till he dipped questing fingertips to her core and found that she was totally drenched and ready for him. But somehow, sanity returned as he strove to let reason return to his lust-addled brain.
Taffy felt more than a tad disappointed when he drove her home some minutes later. For the first time she had felt the womanly urge to be taken, and taken hard, by her utterly sexy and tempting man. But he’d been quite firm as he’d straightened her clothes and insisted that they were going to wait. He’d said he’d bring the wedding date as close as he had to, if that was what it took. But they were going to do things right. . .
**** ***** ***** ****** ****** ****
“Taffy must not marry Zed.”
These were Genevieve Attah’s vengeful words to her husband as she paced the rug in their bedroom. Jerry Attah was sitting on the edge of the mattress. He’d just come home late from work and was kicking off his shoes, then tugging off his tie with a feeling of relief that was shortlived.
He cocked a worried brow at his fuming wife. “What now, my dear? I thought you’d be happy to get her out of your hair, so to speak. I knew you never liked her – I just never understood why.” His tone was faintly accusing. “She’s your niece for goodness’ sake.”
Genevieve exhaled harshly. “I don’t care,” was her gritted out reply. “I hate her so much. She’s more and more like her mother everyday. Grabbing, greedy wretch that she was. I warned my brother. I warned my darling Obong not to marry that witch, but he didn’t listen. Then he went and got himself killed during a stupid trip with her – leaving me with that brat Taffy to take care of. Now every time I look at Taffy I see the woman who stole my only brother from me in life – and in death.” Her voice broke off as she burst into racking sobs, her face in her hands.
Her dumbstruck husband rose and went quickly to her side to embrace her comfortingly. “I know you loved your younger brother so much, dearest, but you can’t blame anyone for his death. Not his wife, and least of all Taffy.”
But she wasn’t listening, lifting her head to stare glassily into space as she ground out, ” The first time I saw that woman Selena, I knew she was bad news. But Obong wouldn’t listen to my warnings, he thought she was..some heavensent angel! I was so. .so jealous of the way he loved her, how he cared so little for what I thought when it came to his darling Selena. I took second place, where before I used to be the centre of his world. It used to be just the two of us, ever since we were kids.” Tears pooled in her eyes then spilled unto her high, aristocratic cheeks that somehow, though she couldn’t know it, made her look a little like Taffy at that moment.
“In the end, she was his downfall,” Genevieve continued on a grave, bitter whisper. ”Why didn’t she just take her blasted daugter with her instead of my precious brother!”
Her husband shook her angrily even as she started crying again. “Stop it, Genny! Stop talking like that! Gosh, you’re so full of bile!” And with disgust, he pushed her to one side, turning away from her as if unable to bear looking at her.
“Yes, I have felt such bitterness for many years, Jerry, because I never had the change to avenge my dear brother,” she informed him coldly.
“And you think that by hurting Taffy, you’ll get your revenge?” he asked with a pitying shake of his head. ”She has a big piece of Obong in her, can’t you see?”
“All I can see is Selena’s face,” was Genevieve’s venomous reply, facing him with blazing eyes. “All I know is she’s her mother’s daughter. Her mother took Obong away from me, and now Taffy has taken Zed from our precious Mimi. Taffy’s a witch, Jerry. I’d die before I see her happy. I’m going to talk to Zed’s mother; she’ll listen to me. When she finds out Taffy’s mom was scum, she’ll understand why Zed must never marry her. I’ll. . I’ll – ”
Jerry Attah’s face hardened as he stared at the stranger that was his wife. For a long time, he’d pretended to be ignorant of her treatment of Taffy, always avoiding any confrontation out of the mistaken belief that it had nothing to do with him. But in his heart, he loved Taffy like his own daughter, she had been nothing but good and he could no longer sit back and watch her come to harm.
When he spoke to his wife, his voice was now hard, cold and firm. “I warn you, Genny, if you do anything to jeopardise Taffy’s future with Zed, you’ll be sorry. I’ll never let you get away with hurting her. Not ever again.”
It was her turn to stare at him, quite dazed. “How can you take her side against me, Jerry?” she breathed. “She. .she somehow got Zed to choose her over our own daughter, she even. . .”
His hand came up to cut off her halting words. “I’ll leave you, Genny. I can’t stay married to a woman who has so muc poison inside her. I love you, but I won’t hesitate to walk out on you for good, if you refuse to heed my advice. You know I mean it.”
She stared at her husband of more than twenty five years, and he’d never looked more determined or serious in his life. She knew he’d do it; she was certain she would lose him if. . .
The very fear of that, the thought of it, made the ice around her heart crack, and the tears that now spilled out of her eyes were of deep shame. Shame for what she had become, at how low she had fallen in the past ten years or so. She stumbled, sobbing, into his arms, and he embraced her willingly.
Genevieve cried and cried, and he petted her all the while, telling her softly, “Let it all out, darling. Let it all out.”
Finally, he pulled back to look into her face. “What every you’ve suffered, my love, I will help you heal. Forgiveness is the balm that closes all wounds, remember that. Now, Zed has asked for Taffy’s hand in marriage, and we’ll give our blessing. We’ll support her all the way because we’ve raised her like our own daughter. It’s the only way I can make up for all the times I looked away and did nothing.” He sighed deeply. “Will you do this for me? Will you be there for Taffy?”
She nodded with a tremulous smile, her face softened and more beautiful than ever before. “Yes, Jerry. I will.”
* * * * *** *******
Taffy’s wedding dress was a dazzling white, an exquisitely cut mass of satin and lace. It was a beautiful, glorious ceremony, with her whole family there to support her – and yes, including her aunt Genevieve, who’d transformed in the few months preceding the ceremony, into a caring, generous mother figure. She’d seen to all the arrangements herself, using the most expensive and elaborate wedding planner in the business.
Mimi was a beaming maid of honour, with her darling Babatunde by her side. It was a day Taffy knew would be embedded in her memory for ever, for at last, she had found her “happily ever after”, with her Prince Charming, Zed.