As promised, here is the preview of The Governor’s Wife.
Chapter One—Part 2
“I’m sorry, Phil, but I can’t wait for you any longer. Our plans just aren’t practical. It will take years. You have no job, and I’d be waiting for a dream that is totally unrealistic.” She took a deep breath, as if afraid to utter her next words. “Deputy Governor Uchendu is ready to marry me now. Not years from now, and it’s an opportunity I can’t pass up.”
Like a play, her words came out with practiced clarity, as if she had repeated them to herself over and over and over again…as if trying to convince herself the explanation carried a scintilla of plausibility and absolved her of treachery.
She gathered in another breath, let it out and continued. “I’m the only daughter in my family and almost thirty. Almost past my expiration date. So, my family approved the wedding, the bride price has been paid, and the traditional rites done.”
Philip swallowed hard. Tiny spikes of pain tore at his heart with every word she uttered. Yet he couldn’t seem to overcome the cold shock that transfixed him. He stared at a complete stranger.
“I came down to tell you personally. I didn’t want you to hear it from someone else…because of our history. Our love.”
“Love…our love,” he repeated. “Osanobua! What a beautiful love story. Someone will surely compose a love song about us.” A harsh laugh rose up in Philip and spilled out like red hot magma from a volcano.
“How dare you even say the word. You know nothing about love.” He took a step back from her, quarantining himself from her and his feelings. “While I’ve been here, trailing from one interview to the next, practically begging anyone who would listen for a job, you’ve been securing your own future by selling yourself to the highest bidder.”
She sucked in her breath. Her eyes widened, and he could see the shadow of hurt in them, but he was too far gone to care.
“We both know the waiting isn’t the problem. It’s the money. He is a rich Deputy Governor and I’m not.” He clenched his jaw until it ached. “And we both know your age has nothing to do with this. You’re only twenty-five, a long way from thirty. Which even if you were, doesn’t justify rushing into marriage blindly. So, don’t tell me it’s about your age. It has never been a problem for us. Never!”
Philip strode slowly towards Ogonna again and halted right in front of her, pinning her with his eyes.
“If this isn’t about money, Ogonna, call off the wedding now. We’ll get married, if it’s marriage you want. Let’s do it. Call this rubbish off, and let’s go to court. We could live here in this BQ.” He waved his hand around the small self-contained, one-bedroom apartment he shared with a former classmate and friend. “I’ll ask Femi to move out. I have a job interview next week, and if I get it, the salary is enough to kickstart our future.”
His hopes came alive when he saw her eyes mist and spark with possibilities. Encouraged by this, he continued. “Call the wedding off, Ogonna, I’ll marry you today.”
Silence. For a brief moment, he thought he noticed the familiar tightening of her jaw…saw a rock-hard determination that always etched her features when they talked of their future plans, both personal and professional. They had talked constantly about their dreams of building a real-estate empire. And their four children, for whom they would create a legacy…together. While other couples lived moment to moment, he and Ogonna had been Mr. and Mrs. Power Couple in university. Philgonna, their friends had christened the pair, as if they were a celebrity couple.
Hope seemed to wrestle in her eyes for a few seconds. Then, a sob broke free. Confused, Philip took a step closer to her. She moved back, as though his nearness scorched her.
“Ogonna, please tell me. What’s going on?”
“I’m sorry, Phil. It’s too late.”
“Too late…what does that mean?” A sudden bout of nausea rose to his throat as a horrifying possibility popped into his head. He became very still.
“Are you pregnant?” The question came out in a low growl.
“No!” she denied sharply. “No!”
“Then why…why are you doing this? Nothing makes sense. I have been faithful to you. Never once strayed. And I know you have been faithful to me, too. Until now. Why? Why this governor? Why now?” He paused, his chest heaving with the emotions charging through him. Nothing was adding up.
He half expected her to break into a laugh. To shout April fools! before pulling him into her arms and assuring him it was all a joke. But it wasn’t April. And even a bat could see the tears in her eyes were real. And the engraved invitation card lying on the floor…frighteningly real, too.
“Because he can offer me and my family stability,” she muttered. Tears streamed down her cheeks in a sad trail. “And I need that.”
And here he was, right back to the beginning—unable to believe what he was hearing from the woman he loved.
“Need it more than you need me…more than you need our love?” he asked in a low voice, afraid to hear her answer.
“Yes, yes, yes,” she screamed, the words seeming to come from the bowels of hell. “More than I need you or our love.”
And then, without warning, Ogonna turned and fled from the room as though the hounds of hell pursued her.
Philip stood staring at the door for long seconds after it slammed shut in his face. Tears he’d been holding back fell freely from his eyes, and he made no attempt to wipe them away.
Slowly, he walked over to the corner of the room and picked up the elegantly designed white and gold wedding invitation off the floor. He stared intently at the words typed in bold italics as though the more he looked, the sooner the nightmare would end.
The families of Chief and Lolo Moneke and Chief and Lolo Uchendu,
invite you to the holy matrimony of their daughter, Ogonna Moneke
and son, Deputy Governor Kene Uchendu
on Saturday, November 12, 2011.
Three weeks away. The wedding was only three weeks away. He stood there in utter disbelief.