If there was anyone who hated me, it was Jessica. I still couldn’t figure out why I had to bear the brunt of her hatred when it was her brother that left me at the altar.
“Hide me, babe!” I slipped behind Ronke.
“No, I won’t. Go talk to Biyi, Jessica can go to hell.” she pushed me forward.
I shook my head, where were friends when you needed them?
And how was I going to play this? Ignore Jessica? Ignore Biyi?
I didn’t have enough time to think because at that moment someone slipped behind me, covering my eyes.
“Hey birthday girl,” I felt his warm breath in my ear and a tingle crawled up my spine.
I would know his voice anywhere.
“Biyi, naughty boy,” chuckling, I touched his fingers.
“You just have to spoil the fun!” he bellowed, scooping me in his hands like I didn’t weigh anything.
“Stop it jor!” I giggled, swatting his hands away.
“Just to remind you I’m stronger,” he said as he set me on the floor.
“Like I can ever forget that,” I hugged him. “You look amazing.”
As all this was going on, I deliberately ignored Jessica who stood a little way from our mini reunion.
“And you look…breathtakingly gorgeous. Wow!”
“Thank you, kind sir.”
“Oh yeah…let me introduce you to…Jess, Jess baby…” he motioned to her, drawing her into our inner circle.
“Kehinde.” she said my name like she’d tasted something rotten.
“Jessica,” I returned the gesture.
“What’s this? You know each other?” Biyi looked between both of us.
“Yes,” Jessica eyed me. “Kehinde here was actually engaged to my brother a couple of years ago, isn’t that right?”
I heard the malice behind her words, the same malice I saw in her eyes when I had ended up groom-less on my wedding day.
“You were engaged?” Biyi asked, incredulous.
“Yes. Biyi, can I…can we…go somewhere and…talk?” I stuttered. I didn’t know why I felt guilty all of a sudden. It wasn’t like I owed Biyi any explanations.
“Sweetheart, I want to dance.” Jessica slid her hand into his. “Let’s dance.”
Biyi’s eyes locked with mine and I couldn’t read what I saw there. Disappointment? Confusion?
“Of course, this is a party. Enjoy yourselves.” I walked away, leaving them standing there.
My legs felt wobbly as I wove my way through the maze of bodies. I was feeling dizzy; whether from the alcohol or the impact of Jessica’s presence, I didn’t know.
I needed privacy so I headed for the toilet in my room.
Today was supposed to be a new page, starting afresh. Why did something have to spoil my happiness every time?
I took out my phone as I got to the toilet. Six missed calls from my sister.
I called her.
“Hey birthday girl,” she picked on the third ring.
“How’s your party going?” I asked.
“Well, it’s quite a quiet party. Dignified, elderly colleagues of my husband are here so we have to behave,” she laughed. “He owes me a real party after this one. I’m even wishing I attended yours.”
“I’m sure yours is less dramatic,” I sighed.
“What does that mean?”
“Biyi is here.”
“Oh…that’s lovely. But…you don’t sound too happy about it. What’s wrong?”
“He has a girlfriend.”
“And she’s Austin’s sister.”