Today's teaser comes from RIDING REBEL (The Essiens series book 3).
In this scene, Tony and Rita are having an impromptu wedding in Beya, where they'd gone on a short break.
Side note: Beya is featured as a setting in THE FUTURE KING (Royal House of Saene book 8). Full marks to you if you realised that Zik and Amara are the Duke and Duchess of Beya and wondered where you'd read about it before. They are all in the KTU (Kiru Taye Universe) Who knows if the Essiens will meet the Saenes? Perhaps through the Onohs! Watch this space. 😘😘
Anyhoo, back to today's teaser. Enjoy.
Rita felt a little uncomfortable undressing in front of strangers. But when Yise took off her clothes, she knew she couldn’t stand in the sidelines. Tentatively, she removed her clothes and placed them where Yise indicated. She rushed into the water, and the cool drops on her hot skin felt glorious. The girls giggled and someone splashed her. Soon, they were all splashing each other.
Yise tugged Rita's arm and pointed to the shoreline. "Time you dress."
Rita nodded and followed the girl out of the water. But instead of letting her get back into her jeans and top, the girls pulled out hand-woven leppe fabric that looked similar to the traditional top and skirt she'd seen Fulani girls wear. As she sat on a rock, they braided her hair and inserted what looked like cowry beads into the intricate braids. Then, they decorated her skin in beautiful designs with something similar to henna. Someone pulled out a small, old chipped mirror and held it in front of her.
Rita's heart stopped. She couldn’t even recognise herself. She looked... "Beautiful. You made me beautiful," she said in a breathy voice.
The girls giggled.
"My brother will have a beautiful wife," Yise said.
Rita's cheeks heated up and the girls giggled some more.
"Come. The sun is setting." Yise pointed at the sky where the sun was disappearing below the horizon.
They headed back to the settlement and the girls sang a song and clapped their hands. At Ma Yise's, they led her into the hut lit with a kerosene lamp.
"You sit inside until my brother comes," Yise said.
Her mother put a veil over Rita's head. They both left her in the hut. The singing outside continued, the women joining the girls. It seemed there were more people out there now.
Rita sat and listened, fidgeting nervously and trying not to put out all the threads from her beautiful attire as she fought to control her anxiety.
She was getting married. How did that happen? She'd dated Anayo for a year and they hadn't been any closer to marriage in all that time. They hadn't even discussed it after she'd told him she wanted to wait until she was married to have sex.
Now, she was only moments away from being traditionally wed. Yes, they would still have to travel to her hometown and do the marriage rites according to her custom. But this was still valid with regards to both of them. In Nigeria traditional marriages were as legitimate as civil ones. They would be man and wife after this.
And she'd only known Tony just over one week. OMG. She nearly hyperventilated at the thought. How did she go from wanting to make Tony and his family pay to marrying him in one week? Her mother would think she'd gone mad. Kechi would think she'd taken some drug. Nobody she knew ever did stuff like this. Yet, here she was, and she wouldn’t change it for anything. All that mattered was her and Tony.
Ma and Yise came inside and her heart thudded. Was Tony outside?
"It's time." Yise helped her stand and she followed them.
Outside, the dark night was lit with lamps and it took a while for her eyes to adjust to the scene. Women stood in front of her, blocking her view of the crowd. Ma Yise made sure her veil stayed in place and Rita held onto it. The singing ladies parted and she could finally see the crowd. They led her to a chair. Her palms sweated and her hands trembled. This was actually happening.
Her skin prickled and she looked up and met Tony's gaze. Her breath hitched. He was dressed in a similar fabric to what she had on, in trousers and a tunic. He couldn't seem to take his hungry eyes off her. Her body flushed and she lowered her eyes.
The whole ceremony passed in a haze. She couldn’t understand most of what was said in Beya, anyway. Music and dancing started. People ate and drank but she was still no closer to Tony.
Yise came to her. "You follow me."
She stood and followed her. They walked past Ma Yise's hut.
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"You will find out." The girl smiled at her. She stopped before the hut Tony had taken her to first and waved her on. "You go and wait for your new husband."
"Aren't you coming in?"
"No." Yise giggled. "You don't need me."
Rita wiped her palms on her skirt and walked into the hut. Her mouth dropped open. It had been transformed. Colourful fabric draped down the walls. The bed was spread out with beautiful blankets and the floor had woven mats covering it.
A lump formed in her throat. She couldn’t believe how much trouble they'd gone to in order to make the place look so amazing. She was so enraptured with everything she didn't hear Tony come in. The skin on her back prickled with heat.
"How is the new Mrs. Essien?"
Come back next time for more wedding teasers.
Seen as the rebel Essien, Tony has always felt like an outsider. With a daredevil lifestyle, he’s more at home in leathers than in a suit, and more likely to be seen gracing the red carpets at a movie premiere with a starlet draped on his arms than in a boardroom. Still, he’s determined to prove himself to his family and build a successful movie business. Spotting Rita Dike at an event, he sees the potential star of his new movie and his next pleasure conquest.
Rita is a journalist looking for her big break. When she inherits the journal of her late best friend who claims Tony is not an Essien, she spots the perfect scoop. Her acting classes come in handy when she has to pose as an actress to get closer to Tony. Succumbing to the charms of dark and brooding Tony might just be the only way to get through the close ranks of the Essien family.
But as she gets closer to the truth, Rita risks losing the riding rebel who’s raided her heart. Can love heal hearts or will deceit break them?
Available now in ebook, paperback and audiobook