BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Copyright © Ufuomaee
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Erhuvwun’s first thought was of Akpos, the man she’d wanted to marry, when her father told her about his foolish mistake. She’d been holding out for Akpos for over a year now, and had turned down other suitors, believing he was going to come back and take her with him to the city. But as the months came and went, she slowly came to grips with the possibility that he was never coming back…
She swallowed as she looked at her poor father. The old man looked so drained, and she felt so bad for him. He had really loved her mother, and she knew he was missing her terribly. She knew losing her to marriage to Amadi would be very devastating to him, especially if he knew how afraid and unsure she was.
“Father, I’ll go…” she found herself saying. He looked up at her with wide eyes and shook his head frantically.
“Princess, I cannot ask that of you… Please, let me think of some other solution.”
“No, Father. I’ll go. I’m not getting any younger… Any day now, a suitor will come for my hand in marriage. It might as well be Amadi.”
“But he’s so… He’s not the man I wanted for you… What if he hurts you?”
Erhuvwun smiled and tried not to think of that possibility. “I won’t give him reason to. You’ve raised me well.”
Onuoha looked at his daughter with respect, adoration and regret. He knew she was just trying to be strong for him, and he couldn’t believe how much he loved her. Right now, she reminded him of his late wife, Fejiri, and he couldn’t help the tears than flooded his eyes.
Erhuvwun remained strong as she held her father close. She said a silent prayer for herself and for him. And her thoughts returned to her beloved Akpos.
Akpos rolled on his side, panting. He rose up quickly and pulled up his trousers and zipped them. Gbemi was sprawled on the bed, not concerned for her nakedness. He looked at her as she watched him.
She was a very beautiful woman, but she was not the marrying kind. Their relationship was more of convenience. She was the house girl to his master’s neighbours, and occasionally, they satisfied each other. But his heart was still set on Erhuvwun. He longed to return to his village and marry her, but he wouldn’t be free to go until next month.
He had already saved enough to rent a small room for them in Ketu. She could start a small trading business, while he would continue his employment as a house boy. He was also involved in some side hustles, so that he would soon be able to quit his servant work and become an agent. There was big money to be made in real estate, even as an agent. Ultimately, he hoped to start his own construction firm. He had big dreams, and he was just weeks away from making the first come true.
He smiled as he thought of Erhuvwun’s curves, and her full, brownish-pinkish lips, which he had kissed a few times. He wondered what she was doing now. He knew she would keep herself for him. She wasn’t anything like Gbemi. The older woman was engaged to be married. They’d just done her introduction over Christmas, when she’d travelled to her village in Oyo State.
He sighed, as he slipped into his slippers. He mumbled “Goodnight” as he opened the door to her room in the Boys Quarters and sneaked out. When he was back in his room, he stared up at the cloudless, midnight blue sky, admiring the stars and the half-moon that glowed in their brilliance, thinking that his love was also observing the same ritual, which was the sign of his promise to her that he would return and take her for his wife.
A small traditional marriage ceremony was held for Erhuvwun and Amadi, the day after she turned 16 years old. The bride had sewn her own garments, having received gifts of fabric from her late mother’s friends. For all but Onuoha, it was a joyous occasion, to finally have their beloved daughter married off to one of their own, even if it was the estranged Amadi. At least he had wealth and influence.
For Amadi, the wedding was contractual, and he conducted himself formally. He brought the bride price and presented gifts to the chiefs. He took part in the cultural ceremony, attentive at every point, until Erhuvwun was pronounced his wife, at which point, all witnessed his first smile. Few women had envied Erhuvwun, until that point. Amadi had a beautiful smile, when he smiled with his heart, which he rarely did. Mostly, he grimaced and kept a hard expression.
Erhuvwun danced before her husband and her family, and enjoyed her last freedom and celebration, before she would move out of her father’s home to become a woman, the wife of a man. No one could tell that she had any anxieties about tonight, or tomorrow or even the rest of her life. No one knew how her heart was broken, because her love, whom she had kept herself for, had delayed and left her to this fate. But she had made a decision, she would give it her all. She would be a good wife to Amadi, even though she didn’t know him at all.
That very night, Erhuvwun packed out of her home, and followed her husband to his in the woods. It had been a long day, as she’d risen early to prepare for the festivities, and she’d stood many long hours. However, despite this and despite the long trek to his hut, Amadi expected his wife to fulfil her duties to him that same day. He’d waited long for this day, and a few more hours were too long to wait, not with the beautiful Erhuvwun in his home.
It was not romantic. It was not anything like she’d dreamt of, or even imagined it would be. It was very painful, and tediously long. It was unpleasant and violating, as she wasn’t physically, emotional or sensually ready to give herself to him. But she did, without complaint. That very night, she lost her virginity to Amadi.
To be continued...
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