Beverly Da Silva lifted her face to the sun. God,it felt good to be home in Nigeria. It was so beautiful out here. The lush,sub tropical vegetation of the private estate in Obudu cattle ranch soothed her senses. Sunlight,spilling from the sky flooded their whole reception. Everywhere she looked,the party was immaculate. The luxurious grounds of the exclusive hotel,reserved for her and Lanre;just the two of them. Waiters,flown in from Lagos,mingled with their well dressed guests from various descents. There was enough Dior and Chanel,Louboutins and Manolos, Piaget watches and Hermes bags, in attendance. The guests included princes, senators,governors, and half the moguls from the entertainment industry in Nigeria and beyond. In all her quiet,unassuming life,she would never have imagined she’d end up here. Beverly Okujaiye, daughter of the Late Chris Okujaiye, a laundry man who lost his life after a prolonged battle with cancer,now married to one of the richest producers in Hollywood who was a Nigerian? It seemed too good to be true.
Where was Lanre? For a moment,she felt a sudden rush of warmth towards her new bridegroom. After all was said and done,he had provided this for her. Regardless of the fights,the controlling,the misery she’d felt,he’d stuck by her,even when the tabloids decided they didn’t like her image. And now they were married,truly married,inspite of it all; Lanre’s disapproving family,the catty wives of his work colleagues,and the rants on social media . He had gone ahead and put a ring on her finger. And here they were in Calabar,all the way from New York,with tons of friends and well wishers travelling with them. He was her friend,her rescuer,her knight in shining armour. She took a tiny sip of her champagne and strutted her custom made Vera Wang gown about. She wanted to go and find him. Some of the catty American wives of his work colleagues stared at her. They were giggling amongst themselves. She shrugged it off; she wasn’t about to let them spoil her good mood. She wanted to hug Lanre,and be with him..that was all that mattered to her there and then.
She headed over to the gazebo where a string quartet were playing. She walked across the lawn,and guests melted to let her walk past them. The gazebo was tucked into a little corner,out of sight. She had last seen him there with a business counterpart of his. She craned her head. She couldn’t see the aged African man,but her Lanre was there. She could hear the low pitched sound of his laugh,something she’d relished in the beginning,when he shocked everyone by starting a relationship with her.
Beverly stopped dead. Her bridegroom was alright. He was leaning over Temisan Richmond,the wife of his personal assistant,and one of her ‘Girlfriends’ . Temisan had pulled her expensive gown around her waist. Beverly blankly took in the sight of spread-eagled legs; his tailored pants loose at the waist. They had been married for four hours,and he was already with someone else. She walked back to her hotel room,glad they weren’t aware that she had caught them ‘in the act’.
She sobbed and cursed as she put on her night dress; a yellow chinese silk gown with delicate embroidery,a priceless heirloom of his mother’s,which she had reluctantly given to her. She stared at the diamonds on her engagement ring,and the tapestries on the wall with tears streaming down her face. She sobbed with confusion and terror. Lanre was a good man,and he loved her. Everyone around him hated her. Nobody could understand why one of Hollywood’s top African Producers,with thousands of gorgeous,accomplished models,and actresses to choose from,would marry a poor Nigerian waitress from a little,riverine town in Lagos. Her mother was a market woman who could barely afford to feed her siblings,and her dad was late.
The American tabloids loved to hate her. They stalked her at the supermarket,took long-range photos of her on the beach. Her non-model’s face,her normal curves,everything was lit in the worst possible way. They ran unflattering pictures of her next to Lanre’s ex-girlfriends. “THE WAITER NOW WEARS PRADA “. One of them wrote. Beverly wasn’t worth it,and the press never let her forget it. She knew that was why he suggested they exchanged their vows in Calabar; he was trying to shield her from the nasty comments and reviews of the bloggers and fashion stylists in New York. They would have literally killed her with their comments if the wedding ceremony was conducted right under their pessimistic noses.
” I love you. That’s all that matters. ” He always assured her whenever she tried to end the relationship. She loved him so much. But he was a womaniser,and everyone around him called her a gold digger,and made her feel more inferior than she already felt.
She had stayed in the relationship partly to spite them. Beverly was stubborn,and she wasn’t a quitter. She was grateful to him for the massive fiasco of the wedding,the millions of naira it cost to rent the ranch,the chartered jets,the society columns and photographers,celebrity florists and makeup artists..the list was endless. She wished to God she had just walked away from him after he proposed. She had given him her all; and in return,he promised to stop womanising. He was a casanova,but he promised to change,and she believed him. But now…
Beverly poured another glass of whiskey down her throat whilst she waited for him. She was going to threaten to leave him if the incident repeated itself. She prayed for courage to face him. She was hopelessly in love with him,and wondered if a divorce could ever be an option for her.
Mrs Beverly Da Silva woke up next to her husband’s corpse the next morning. Her night dress was soaked with his blood,reddish-brown where it had oxidised. Blood caked everything: her hair,her skin,and of course,it was on their marriage bed. Beverly stared blankly. She was too shocked to take it in. Her head thudded with the relentless pain of a serious hang over. She was dehydrated;her temples pulsed,blood pumping loud in her skull. Her mouth and tongue were wretchedly dry. So dry she couldn’t even scream. The last thing she remembered was emptying the bottle of whiskey down her throat; she had been very drunk last night.
” Babe.. Babe.. Please,wake up. ” She pleaded as she checked his pulse. His body felt cold and lifeless. Beverly knew she was in trouble when she rose to her feet. She saw the dagger. It was a gift from the local aristocrat he was dealing with- Prince Nuhu, that was his name. It was antique,made of pure gold,with a smooth ivory handle,slightly curved and now stained with a reddish substance; Lanre’s blood. It had been kept very sharp and appeared very deadly; it was obviously the murder weapon. Lanre had regarded the gift as unusual,and un-welcomed two days before. They felt disappointed when they had unwrapped it,and he had promised to give it to a friend of his,who was a curator at a museum in the States. Sickened with tears,she ran into the bathroom. She emptied her stomach into the sink,and gulped some water. She retched again. Even though she was hideously thirsty,the toxins in her stomach would not let her drink from the tap.
She tried desperately to remember as she walked into the room. No broken windows,the doors were sedately hid in their frames. No burglar had busted in there. She had murdered her baby on their wedding night. She had got drunk,and she had killed him. Stabbed him,and tried to slit his throat with one of their wedding gifts. She didn’t remember any of it,but that didn’t matter,did it? That was the only conclusion she could come to,and no one would believe her if she said otherwise. She wished her mom had attended the wedding,she would have been able to offer her a bit of timely advice,which was what she needed now. But the woman had never been in support of their relationship in the first place. She scoffed at Beverly when she had invited her to Calabar,and called her a greedy little girl who was so hungry for wealth,she pounced on the richest Nigerian man in New York and stretched her legs wide open for him. She wondered if her mother was a clairvoyant,and wished she had hearkened to her words. Beverly wrapped her right hand around his,and prayed for a miracle. She needed him to wake up,she was alone in this world without him. Crying,she lifted his hand to her lips and kissed it gently. She wished she had killed herself after killing him. He was God’s gift to her,and sadly enough,she had gotten rid of that pleasant gift. Or,hadn’t she?