'My husband is rich, handsome and kind. Only problem is he refuses to sleep with me!' (1)

(This is the story of Amanda, a lady who marries for money, material things and possessions, only to realise later that money is not everything in life.)

The first time I saw Max, he had come to do some shopping in my boutique. Back then, I never knew that that chance meeting would have such an effect on my life. With time, we would grow very close, something that should not have happened as I was a married woman and infidelity is something frowned upon by our highly conservative and judgmental society.
Before you start casting stones at me for cheating on my husband, you need to hear my story first to understand the circumstances that made me stray outside my marriage.

I got married to my husband, Bennie about three years ago. I still remember the ceremony which was held in our local church. It was a grand one, as my husband, who is very rich, spared no expense in ensuring that it was an event that would be the talk of the town for a long time. All my friends had been so envious of me back then.
"Amanda, aren't you lucky! I envy you o!" Dorothy, a good friend and one of my bridesmaids had said as I got ready on the morning of my wedding day.
"Bennie's such a great catch! I wish I could get someone like him!" said another. They all went on and on about Bennie's good qualities and what a great husband he will be.

If only they knew.
For as I sat that morning staring at my reflection in the mirror while the make-up artist worked on my face, my mind was churning with different thoughts. Uppermost was the nagging thought, 'Was I doing the right thing or was I making a big mistake that would haunt me later?'

Even as I stood before the pastor at the altar and exchanged vows with Bennie, that thought kept popping up. But I pushed it aside and put on a brave face, smiling and trying to look like a typical happy and radiant bride on her big day.
You might be wondering why I still went ahead to marry Bennie with all my misgivings. Well, there's a plausible reason behind my decision.

You see, I met Bennie at a very low point in my life. It was at a time when nothing was working and it was as if the whole world was about to collapse on my shoulders. I had finished school but had been unable to get a job after several years of job-hunting. Worse still, my mother who had been my sole support after my father abandoned us years ago, had fallen ill with a sickness that defied solution. There was also a younger brother who was still in secondary school. They both looked up to me for support but how could I play my role in the family without a job?

At that point, I was ready to do any job as long as it paid some money. So, when I heard a manufacturing company at the Isolo area of Lagos was looking for some factory workers, I went to apply. But to my shock, I was rejected for the job because of my qualification.
"You have a university degree so you are overqualified for the job. It's school certificate holders we are looking for," the supervisor in charge of the recruitment told me brusquely. I pleaded with him, telling him I was ready to do the job even with my degree but he refused and ordered me to leave.
I was walking dejectedly towards the front gate of the company when someone called out to me.
"Excuse me, young lady," the voice said. I turned round. It was a man in his thirties, I had never seen before.
"Sorry to butt in this way but I heard you talking with the supervisor concerning a job back in the office. What exactly are you looking for?" he asked. I studied him for a moment. He was dressed in a dark suit and blue tie and he looked quite respectable like a top executive.
"And why do you want to know?" I countered, wondering if he was an official in the company.
"I can see you need a job badly. Maybe I can help you," he stated. He brought out a complimentary card and gave it to me.
"I run my own company. There's an opening there now. So, why don't you come and see me and we can talk," he stated.
I gazed at him warily, not sure if he was serious or not, then looked at the card again.
"Mr Bernard or whatever your name is. As you can see, I'm in no mood right now for silly games. So, if you will excuse me, I will be on my way," and I turned and made for the gate once more.
"What makes you think I'm not serious about this?" he said behind me.

I turned round again.
"Because I'm a total stranger to you and people don't just offer jobs to strangers they don't know. At least, not in this country," I said.
"We've been talking for some minutes now so you can't say we are still strangers," he noted, smiling a little. He had this sincere look in his eyes that made me relax a little.
"Look, I understand why you are being wary. You can't trust people these days. But try and come to my office and I will see what I can do for you," he said.
Based on that invitation, I went to his office the following week and he gave me a job right there. It was like a miracle. I was so happy, I felt as if I was walking on air as I went home that day to break the good news to my mother.

I resumed work not long after and I couldn't be happier. My boss, Mr Bernard was a hard-working man who drove his workers hard so they could achieve maximum results for the company. He also treated us well and was not mean to the staff.

The proposal
I noticed he travelled a lot, mostly business trips. On one of such visits to Abuja, he invited me to accompany him.
"You will need to check the sales records at our office there. So, get ready," he ordered.

We were in the city for about a week and we worked most of the time. After that trip, we travelled together to some other cities and even outside the country. It was on our return from one of such trips to Nairobi, Kenya when the office gossips started to circulate the story about my affair with my boss. I laughed when I heard it as it was all lies. Though we had travelled to different places and stayed in the same hotels, he had never shown any romantic interest in me. He was friendly and treated me well but he always acted like a boss to a subordinate to me.

I knew he was still single and I often wondered why a successful man like him, with money and such good looks was still unattached.
Some time later, on another of our trips, I told him about the gossip in the office concerning us. It was evening and we were having dinner in the restaurant of the hotel.
He laughed at my story.
"People love to talk. So don't let it bother you," he stated.
I smiled at him.
"Of course it doesn't bug me since I know it's not true," I rejoined.
He was silent for a while then he looked at me with a serious look on his face.
"Perhaps we can make it real, give those gossips something to really talk about," he stated.
I looked at him warily.

"What are you talking about?" I asked.
Then reaching across the table, he took my hand and said:
"Marry me, Amanda. Be my wife so I can take care of you."
His proposal was so unexpected that I sat for a while, just staring dazedly at him.
"You've not been drinking sir, so you can't be drunk..." I started to say when he interrupted me.
"I know this must be a surprise to you. But I've thought about it and I believe it's the sensible thing to do. I need a wife, you need a man to look after you. We both get what we want and it's that not what matters?" he noted.
When I pointed out to him that there was more to marriage than that, he said:
"I see where you are going. All that Hollywood stuff like love, romance, desire, passion. I don't believe in all that. Maybe because I'm a realist who doesn't believe in fairytales..."
As if his proposal was not strange enough, there was more to come. Something to do with a contract which stipulated clearly the terms of the 'union'...

to be continued........

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