People often live their lives in stages; go to school, meet someone, fall in love, and get married. Thereafter, there are milestones you are expected to reach to feel accomplished, such as having children and then eventually sending them to school but life often never goes the way one plans. So sometimes you get to tick off everything on society’s bucket list but not in the order everyone expects.
Vanessa had never planned her own wedding growing up, she felt weddings were the kind of event that brought out the best or worst in people; either you are waiting for someone to object, waiting for the moment when you can throw rice over the couple’s heads or waiting to drink the night away at another’s expense. She hated weddings but now here she was, all because of Shahid. She looked around the venue proudly. She felt she put it together rather well, even with the short notice. The ceremony had just ended and before anyone could make their way to the reception hall, she wanted to make sure that everything was set up as she had envisioned it. All guests were directed to the courtyard for light snacks while she and Shahid went for a final inspection.
White draping, red roses and tiffany chairs. Blue and lavender lighting, a naked red velvet cake and a wacky photo booth. They stood there, situated at the centre of the dancefloor and overlooking the room, him in his nude suit and her in her blush dress.
Everyone has a different perspective of what they believe to be accomplishments. For Vanessa, she treasured wedding anniversaries. She felt they signified a choice well-made and a reluctance to give up on your partner. Despite her past, she still believed in love and wanted it for herself but she was not sure she was ready to fully give herself to someone. Despite all that, she would never miss an opportunity to put together a party to celebrate those who were in love.
When Arthur asked Vanessa to plan his and Grace’s vows renewal, she could barely hide her enthusiasm and when he told her she could bring a plus one, she knew Shahid would be the right partner to take with. It had been 4 months since she’d first met him and two weeks since he called her, he said he wanted proof of her operations and a show of how exactly she helps her clients with their requests.
Everything was going according to plan. Vanessa and Shahid made their way to their table and sat down just as guests started entering. Due to all the activities of the day, he realised he didn’t really get a chance to admire the woman sitting next to him.
He looked to Vanessa and whispered in her ear, “You look beautiful, and the wedding is amazing. You did an amazing job.”
Vanessa blushed, a little annoyed that she had to jump through hoops but glad that her hard work had paid off and he seemed impressed.
Shahid looked over to the bride and groom and then looked back at Vanessa. Initially all he wanted was to steal another glance at her but the moment lasted longer than he had anticipated and just as he was about to look away, she caught him staring at her.
She looked at him confused, “What? No, that is never going to be us. This is only business remember?”. She giggled.
He let out a sarcastic laugh, “Never say never. Anyway, I saw them earlier. They were in the chapel before the wedding ceremony, blindfolds on and they were praying together. He wanted to know if she was sure she wanted him, and vice versa. Love is a beautiful thing; it can’t be bought.”
“And why is that?”, she asked.
“Because it can’t be bought.”
Vanessa didn’t respond, she hoped her disinterest in the topic would get him to either talk about something else or simply quiet down. Shahid carried on talking and she could not continue pretending to focus on the festivities. She broke her silence.
“Love is an excuse to open yourself up to pain, it emphasises weakness and brings men to their knees, women to accept situations that they know they don’t deserve and makes both parties act like fools. Yes, I’m a cynic. Love is beautiful and all that, but it doesn’t give strength. It doesn’t give you power. In this life, power is everything.”
He looked at her with a grin and then looked away. His decision to not engage made her blood boil. She could tell he was not trying to mock her, but his silence was equally upsetting.
“Why are you single then?”, she asked, a little irritated.
Shahid never mentioned being single but Vanessa concluded that he had to be. His house, as neat as it was, showed no signs of a female presence other than the maids. The artwork and decor of his place was designed to suit the taste of a man and the bodyguards were not surprised that Vanessa and Shahid had slept together that night. For someone who was such a firm believer in love, she refused to believe that he would betray his desire for a love that was pure.
“Isn’t everyone single until they are married and even then, doesn’t it depend on who is asking?”, he responded sarcastically.
Vanessa rolled her eyes and pinched his shoulder, “I’m being serious. I really want to know.”
“I just haven’t found the one.”, he said with a heavy sigh.
“Yes, someone who just fits.”
For a moment, Vanessa could swear she saw a spark in his eyes and the atmosphere around him felt lighter. It was the first time she really noticed his eyes, the shade of brown was almost dark enough to be confused with black.
“How will you know that the person you’ve met is the one?”
She could tell he was hesitating, not because he was trying to make up some corny reason but rather because he was taking his time to pick the right words.
“We will fit together. She won’t just see me and accept everything I come with. She will embrace me, she will take my flaws and the aspects of myself I tend to dislike and see them as parts of a puzzle worth framing. I know what I do doesn’t make me a model citizen, but I’d want to be with someone who knows that part of me and still choose to see good in me. So even though I am single, it doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in love. Does that make me weak?”
Vanessa took a moment and then replied, “No, it doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. And humans don’t fit in the world of monsters we operate in. I hope you don’t find this offensive but I would like to know how you’ve managed to run your empire with such sentiments.”
Shahid laughed and shrugged it off, “I didn’t choose this world, I inherited it.”
He stood up and gently pulled out her chair.
“May I have this dance?”, he asked with his hand out.
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Jade Novelist ©️ 2021