I paced the room nervously while twisting my Afro kinky hair. The act was executed in such precise strokes that, it seemed a sure way to find a solution to the mess we had created. I looked expectantly at Marcus, who seemed to be in a pensive mood.
"There must be a way around this, a way to disentangle this whole mess. Maybe we should just come clean and hope everyone understands," I finally said out of frustration, even though deep down, I knew that ship sailed a long time ago.
The stare Marcus gave me emphasised how confused I must have been to have suggested such a ludicrous idea. At this point, I had already blown far too many chances to confess anything worth forgiving. Marcus sat quietly near what used to be the fire place, unconsciously observing my uneven movements.
"Why can’t we just keep this between us for now, and I will explain to Ashley after everything cools down." He moved about as if to examine the remains of the once beautiful family house, all in an attempt to avoid my eyes. Those eyes that had seduced him that night.
"Well, it is not that simple anymore. Tris is arriving this morning and you know that means trouble." My attempt to get his attention succeeded instantly at the mention of Tris. Marcus finally processed the seriousness of the problem at stake.
"What! Why are you telling me this now? Did you know all this while that she was coming?"
I gave him an infuriating stare as I screamed back at him, "Stop shouting at me. None of this is my fault." How could he scold me when it was his stupid idea in the first place to keep our little secret from my sister, his bride?
He turned just in time to see the mounting pain as it formed slowly on my face. "I am sorry. I am just freaked out because the wedding is in two hours and this situation is so messed up."
"Well, I am not exactly having the time of my life either. She is my sister for God's sake," I managed to speak amidst tears.
It happened five years ago at the Coast Globe resort. My cousin, Tris had just closed a huge deal for her company, and they in turn rewarded her dedication with a fully paid trip for two at the resort.
Since she had no social life whatsoever, she invited me to join her. It was a time in my life when I felt entrapped in all the chaste demands of being a Christian. A time when I wanted to break free and step outside my moral self into sweet oblivion. I secretly knew my purpose for that vacation was to explore something forbidden, and it all became clear immediately I laid eyes on him. As I stood on my balcony observing the stretch of ocean, his muscular body interrupted my unconscious interaction with nature. I was instantly smitten. He had the most dazzling smile to complement his flawlessly chiseled body. I let my eyes follow his every move while admiring his perfection. He wore a pair of slightly loose swim pants. As I tried to take in more details of him, I met his gaze and blood shot through my totally embarrassed face. He looked intensely at me for a while despite the distance between us, and smiled. I could feel my legs wobble beneath me as he jogged his way along the shore.
That evening, Tris had an emergency call from work and had to stay glued to her laptop for hours while making phone calls. I waited for a while and then decided later to take a stroll on the beach by myself, and that was when we met again. We got acquainted so fast that in no time we were talking about our personal lives. We walked on the beach the rest of the evening talking, laughing, lusting and flirting all at once. At the beginning, I was terrified at the thought of walking alone with a stranger who looked like that in the middle of nowhere. Marcus was a perfect gentleman and tried to make me feel as safe as possible, when he realized how uneasy I was. I observed how freely the tides danced their way to shore, ridiculing my rigid life. The moonlight outlined the contours of his lips and I felt as though they were beckoning unto me, I wanted to feel them. For the first time in my twenty- two years of existence, I wanted more. I wanted to break the rules. I wanted him. He must have sensed my yearnings and slowly lowered his lips to mine which I accepted with much urgency. We pulled apart briefly and stared into each other's eyes as if to seek for confirmation of what was to happen. With hunger in my eyes, I leaned in again and our lips locked with a more fierce passion than before. Common sense told me I was treading on dangerous grounds, but the urge to rebel in addition to this irresistible man was stronger. Hormones I didn’t even know existed in my body suddenly came alive, I knew then it was too late.
In the days that followed, Marcus tried to contact me but I was too ashamed to see him. He even managed to have Tris tell me that he was falling in love with me. Though I loved him back, I felt I had sold myself short and that was never going to change so I ignored his pleas for an honest chance at a real relationship. I gave him up and fate decided to play a cruel trick on me by having him meet and fall in love with my sister, Ashley.
As I reflected on everything, Marcus' voice drew me back to reality.
"So what do we do now? I love your sister and I really want to marry her. You told me yourself that night meant nothing to you."
His words gnawed at my soul and I tried hopelessly to calm the thundering opposition my heart made as I nodded to his words.When Ashley first introduced Marcus as her boyfriend, I had decided that a fling that ended almost immediately as it started shouldn’t be reason to ruin my sister's happiness. Tris wasn’t going to be a problem for the wedding due to her busy work schedules until her unexpected email the night before. She wasn't one to look on as Marcus married my sister, knowing the brief yet intense sparks that emanated between us at the resort. We just needed plan B and fast.
"I know it might be too late now, perhaps we could still convince her that it really meant nothing." The words felt so heavy on my lips.
Our faces went blank when her voice sailed across the room. Ashley. She had been listening all along. I turned to look at Marcus with our mouths agape almost as if we had a lot to say. She had suspected all along. She even asked me a couple of times if I had known Marcus before her which I vehemently denied. I always took the slightest opportunity to escape any association with my sister and her newly found love.
"I can't believe I was right the entire time. I knew there was something off about the way you two always avoided each other, but you deceptively denied ever meeting anywhere else. Eva, how could you have kept this from me?" Ashley, now visibly shaken, was in tears and tried to confront me.
"I am so sorry I didn’t tell you. I knew how you felt about him so I just didn’t have the courage to say anything," I finally managed to say.
"Baby listen to me. We met at a resort five years ago and got caught up in the heat of the moment. I just didn't think something from the past should influence our decision to be with each other," he stretched his hand towards her as she tried to move away from him.
Ashley was convinced we were lying to each other and that we cared more than we were willing to admit. She told us that if that night really meant nothing to us, we would have let her in from the very beginning. She was furious that we had decided her future for her and she hated us for that. I felt really disgusted with myself for hurting my little sister that way. I was to blame for everything. If only I had not given in that night. If only I had been brave enough to take up his offer to be with me later. If only.
With a determined expression on Ashley's face, she boldly walked away. Marcus and I stood rooted to the same spot probably with the same thought in mind. Our damned secrecy ended up hurting everyone and now we were all losers of this love triangle. There was no way I could end up with him now, and Ashley didn't look like she would forgive us anytime soon. As we stared at Ashley's retreating figure, one thing was certain. The wedding was definitely off.
Pamela Thompson is a final year student of English and Psychology at the University of Ghana.