Nabila was the fairer one, and her looks had bought her favor before many men. She was tall and slender, with supple bosom and a slim waist line. Nabila had the longest hair in Kanem Dazau, and other women envied her. She had come into the ranch when she had just been eighteen years old, and Fatma, Abdul’s late wife had treated her kindly. Now she had blossomed into a fine young woman.
Keerna was short and stout. She had a dark brown complexion, but her greatest asset was her almond eyes. They were soft and clear like streams of water. Keerna had a beautiful heart, and Hazim found her very attractive. But he couldn’t pursue his love interest because he wasn’t sure if Abdul would approve of the relationship.
“And good morning to you,” Abdul snorted and continued advancing toward the room. Keerna could come off rude sometimes and he knew just how to put her in her place.
Keerna didn’t like his response. She adjusted her scarf and rushed to stop him. Clearly she had feelings for Hazim, but he was too blind to see it. Of all the cowboys, Hazim had stolen her affection and she was desperate to be with him.
“By God, you aren’t going anywhere.” Keerna blocked his way.
Hazim shrugged, “fine, you can take the boxes to her room yourself.”
Keerna’s eyes glowed with surprise. She wasn’t aware that a visitor was coming.
“Her?” Keerna asked.
“None of your business,” Hazim snapped at her.
Keerna knew he was upset with her because she had refused to greet him.
“I am sorry Hazim, I just felt like getting on your nerves today. Good morning handsome one.” She flashed her dimples, and at the sight of her pretty face, Hazim knew that he couldn’t be angry with her for too long.
Keerna smiled and stepped out of his way.
“So tell me, are we expecting someone?” Keerna continued.
Hazim knew he had to tell her; else she would bug him to death.
“Yes. Mallam Abdul has taken a new wife.” He replied calmly.
“Walahi, you are very bad in telling jokes.” Keerna rolled her eyes and pressed a hand against her chest. How could the master take a new wife when he was still in mourning? She wasn’t comfortable with this joke. If Nabila were here, it would break her heart for she had fallen in love with the master.
Hazim ignored her and parted the door to Amina’s room.
“I have said my truth. Now that the ranch has a mistress, you and Nabila would have less time for gossip.” He dropped the boxes in the room and shut the door immediately.
Keerna’s heart sank as she realized Hazim wasn’t bluffing. How could the servants not be told about the master’s new wife?
“See you later Keerna, I have important matters to attend.” Hazim cast one glance at her gloomy face and strode away. It baffled him why she looked so sad at the hearing of a new wife for the master. He scoffed and rolled his eyes. Women were such unpredictable creatures.
Keerna glared at the door to Amina’s room darkly before running towards Nabila to tell her the news.
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Abdul glared into her green eyes. She had no fear in them. Her voice was neutral and commanding. Amina knew the history between himself and her father, yet she wasn’t trembling before him.
“Your father isn’t my enemy, but I am his.’” Abdul replied calmly, while watching her expression. He noticed how her dark brows gathered together in confusion.
“I don’t understand that.” Amina replied. There was still time to run back to Dafa. She could still make it. She would beg her father to forgive her, and then she would agree to the marriage between her and Mallam Idris.
She had no option now. Getting married to that old fool would be a better choice than staying with her father’s enemy.
“My relationship with your father cannot affect us. Except you intend to harm me…” He regarded her lovely eyes steadily.
Amina knew she could never harm Abdul. In his eyes, she found kindness and accommodation. And it made her wonder if her father had been telling the truth all these years. She didn’t trust her father again. He had been overcome with greed and ambition to own a ranch like Mallam Idris.
“I cannot be like my father. I would not work in his shadow. I wasn’t there when the feud took place. Why play a part in it now?” Amina asked.
Her words were intelligent. She was a wise woman. Her wisdom reminded him of Fatma. How could two people from different places be this similar?
“You are a virtuous woman Amina Tukur. I will bury whatever grudge I have against your father. I will take you as my wife. Later tonight, I will show you to all my servants. You are now the mistress of my ranch.”
He moved closer to where she stood and cupped her face between his palms.
Blood tweaked her cheeks and she stared down at her toes in shame. How could she be attracted to a man she had just seen in one day? Something was wrong with her. Maybe he had cast a spell on her. The Kanuri people were known to use powerful spells whenever they went hunting. Maybe Abdul had purchased a powerful charm so she could fall in love with him.
“I mean no harm,” he whispered into her ears, sensing her hesitation.
“I have to learn to trust you then.” Amina mustered courage and looked into his eyes.
There were still speaking when Hazim returned. He made a crackling sound with his throat and the couple broke apart.
“What do you want Hazim?” Abdul asked.
“I came to announce that her room has been prepared.” Hazim bowed his head and advanced towards the gate of the ranch.
“Where are you off to?” Abdul asked.
“I have an appointment with Mohammed. He says he has something important for me,” Hazim returned.
Mohammed owned a gambling centre in the market square. Apart from selling gin and tobacco, he was an information seller. If Mohammed had something to tell you, it was very likely to come to pass.
Gently, Abdul grabbed her hand and led her inside her new home.
To be continued…