'My husband is rich, handsome and kind. Only problem is, he refuses to sleep with me!' (2)

After my boss had talked for a while about the terms of the proposed marriage between us, I remained silent, too stunned to say anything.

'What kind of bizarre proposal is this?' I thought, watching him as he continued to eat and drink as if everything was normal.
But what was normal about a man asking you to marry him yet with so many strange terms attached to it, in a so- called contract? Back in my hotel room later that night, my mind mulled over his words.
"After our wedding, we'll live together like a normal couple, except for one thing: there will be no intimacy between us. We can't have sex. We will stay in separate bedrooms. Also, we can't have children. We can always adopt if you care so much about having children, but we can't have kids of our own."
He paused for a while before continuing. "This arrangement will initially last for seven years. If at the end of that period, you choose to end the marriage, you will be paid a substantial amount of money that will set you up for life. If you choose to stay with me for life, then you will be my sole heir. You will inherit all my money, properties and other assets." Then looking keenly at me, he added: "Another thing, though we can't sleep together, that doesn't mean you can keep lovers outside our marriage. If I find out you are having affairs, I will immediately terminate the contract, throw you out and you will be left with nothing."

My initial reaction was to say; "Hell, no! No way will I marry you on those terms!" But as if reading my mind, he quickly stated:
"I won't blame you if you run away now and never want to see me again. But, Amanda, think of the bright side of things. If you accept this proposal, you will benefit immensely. All my wealth and resources will be at your disposal. You will live a life of immense luxury beyond your dreams and never lack for anything. Designer clothes, expensive jewelry, holidays anywhere in the world, just name it. All these and more will be yours. I will also take very good care of your family and they will never lack for anything. Think about it..."

So, that night, I sat for a long time thinking. In all my 28 years on earth, I had heard a lot of strange things but this must be the weirdest of all. What kind of union would that be if the couple involved can't sleep together, have children and other things that come with marriage? Besides, what kind of man was my boss that he would make such a proposal? Was he in a cult or what? There were tales of some men who join cults or some secret societies who had to abstain from certain things. Was my boss involved in a cult? Was that the source of his wealth at such a relatively young age?

And why me? With all the ladies out there, many of whom threw themselves at him, why did he pick me? He couldn't be in love with me as he said he did not believe in such things. And how did I feel about him? I liked my boss and if circumstances had been different, he was the kind of man I could love and cherish. But he did not want my love. All he needed was a wife in name only. It was as simple as that. Was I ready to commit myself to such a cold-blooded arrangement? How would I cope in a marriage without love and affection from my husband?
Without intimacy?
It took me all of two weeks to reach a decision. It was solely made by me as I did not confide in any one including my mother. I knew she would not approve of such a marriage despite all the perks that came with it.
But watching her one evening at home as she struggled to get up from her bed, to use the bathroom, I knew I had to do something. The sickness had made my mother become lean and weak. The once vibrant woman who was so hardworking and full of life was gone. In its place was a weak, pitiable figure I could barely recognize. It was obvious she needed very good medical care which I could not provide with my wages alone. My beloved mother who had sacrificed so much for me and my younger brother was fading away before my eyes. I couldn't just watch her die.

"You've made the right decision, Amanda. You will not regret the step you have taken today," my boss stated when I told him later that week I would marry him.
"I will take good care of you and ensure you lack nothing," he assured me. It was closing time and most of the workers had left. We were alone in his office.
"If you say so, sir," I stated quietly.
"Just call me Bennie. We will soon be husband and wife so don't you think it sounds silly for you to be calling me, sir?" he said in a teasing tone.
I smiled and called his name for the first time...

Meeting Max
After our wedding, Bennie kept to his promise about taking care of me. It was like he could not do enough for me. He showered me with all sorts of expensive gifts and ensured I lacked nothing. He also took care of my mother's health. When the doctors he consulted advised she should be taken abroad for treatment, Bennie made all the arrangements and had her flown to a foreign hospital. My younger brother, Johnnie went with her so she could have a familiar face around her.
I had to resign from my job after we got married as my husband didn't want me to continue working.

"I don't like the idea of my wife working in the same office with me," he stated.
I needed something to do to keep busy as I hated staying idle. So I told him about having a boutique where I could sell top quality clothing items for women. He agreed and gave me the money to start off the project. Everything went well and in a few months, I was the proud owner of a classy boutique and store in a choice part of town. It quickly became popular among the chic, sophisticated ladies in town due to the kinds of goods I stocked. Money rolled in and I couldn't be happier.
Though Bennie provided well for me and gave me lots of money even without my asking, I felt a certain satisfaction in having my own income.
Life was good and at this stage, I had no regrets about marrying Bennie. Okay, there were certain things lacking in our marriage. There was no romance, passion or sex. But I convinced myself that there was more to life than all that. Afterall, I had gained so much from the union so if not having a love life was the sacrifice I had to make for all the material blessings that had come my way, then so be it. I bet you must be thinking at this stage that I was one cold-hearted woman.

Don't get me wrong. As a young, healthy lady, I had normal desires and needs but I was also a pragmatist who liked to face the realities of life. Having struggled so much in life, it would have been stupid of me to give everything up for the sake of love and romance. At this stage, I had convinced myself I could live like a nun as long as my mother was well and alive and I had all the comfort I needed.

That was what I told myself and things would have continued this way if fate had not intervened in the form of Max. He had come to the store one afternoon. Some of my shop assistants had gone out to eat as it was their break time. I was standing at the shoe section, taking stock of the items there when a voice spoke behind me.
"Please, could you tell me the colour of shoe that will match this bag?" He held up a brown leather bag. It was an expensive designer one, the type I usually reserved for my well-heeled customers.
I studied the bag for a minute then glanced at the stack of shoes on the racks.
Picking up a high-heeled pair, I gave it to him.
"I think this will go well with the bag," I stated.
He thanked me and left. After he had paid at the cashier, he came over to where I was arranging some clothes on a rack. He thanked me again for helping him make the right choice.
"It's a birthday give for my younger sister. And you women can be so fussy over the right colors that match and so on."
"I'm sure she will like the gift," I stated, smiling at him.
Then he asked:
"Are you a sales girl here?"
I looked at him coolly for a while before telling him I owned the place.
"Is that so? You look rather young to have such a big, classy place like this. Your parents must be rich," he noted. I laughed at that.
"Actually, it's my husband who is rich," I told him.
"Husband?" he stated, a look of disappointment in his eyes...

to be continued.................

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