(Continued from The House of Judah I)
The private road leads to a massive gate, the entry into Paradise that is surrounded by a high wall. The words “Paradise Village” are prominently inscribed on top of the wall. Lamb does not slow down even as they approach the gate, and Audrey tenses and looks at him anxiously. But he looks calm, not like a man who is driving a vehicle without brakes. When they are a yard or so from the gate, half of the gate opens by swinging inwards.
“That is super cool. How did that happen?”
“Our cars have sensors that are aligned with the sensors of the gate. When one of our cars approaches, the gate senses it and opens.”
“What if the sensors malfunction? I mean, computerized systems malfunction all the time.”
“If that happens then the vehicle rams into the gate,” Lamb says laughing.
“Gosh, that is not funny.”
“If the sensors of the vehicle have a problem then I will see from the dashboard long before I get near the gate. If the gate sensor has a problem then I will get a warning on the dashboard as I approach that gate.”
“What if you are hijacked or if any of your vehicles is stolen? Won’t the thugs gain a free entry into the Village?”
“This is the first gate. There is a second gate a few metres ahead. As we passed through that first gate, cameras have already scanned the vehicle and passed our faces through a face recognition application.”
“My face is foreign.”
“Yes. But there are no weapons in this car so you can’t have kidnapped me. Trust me if there were weapons of any kind in this vehicle, we would not pass the second gate. But all the family members know not to carry weapons when they know they will drive in with guests.”
“You have weapons?”
“Our family has many enemies, so many of us are licensed to own guns.”
“Yes, but I don’t carry mine. I don’t think anybody wants me, so I almost always leave my gun here in the Village.”
“This place is a fortress,” Audrey says quietly as the vehicle cruises through the second gate.
“You could say that. There is only one way this place can be attacked: either through the air or through an influential traitor from the inside. Both are unlikely though.”
After the second gate the road passes through a planted forest. They drive for about ten minutes before residences start appearing. Lamb drives through what appears to be a small town. He pulls up in front of yet another gate. This gate does not open automatically, but an armed guard opens it and salutes. Lamb acknowledges the salute with a nod and a warm smile.
“This is home now,” he tells Audrey as they drive through.
“I thought the entire Village is home.”
“It is. But this is home proper. This compound is where my grandfather and his immediate family live. Other members of the House of Judah are scattered across the Village and around the world.”
Lamb parks in front of a large mansion.
“This is my father’s house,” he says as they step out of the car. “You will be staying here until we get married. After that you will move to my house which is further down the road. Audrey knows Lamb’s father even though they have never met. Benjamin Judah is a former County Governor and a current Senator. He is a very influential politician, but then again that is not news because the House of Judah is a very influential family. Besides the sixteen active politicians in the family and the family members running the family business, the House of Judah has members holding senior positions in the government of Kenya, the UN and its affiliate organizations, International NGOs and large corporations.
The family is extremely wealthy with investments in many sectors of the economy, including hospitality (Judah Group of Hotels), Finance (Judah Commercial Bank and Judah Insurance Co. Ltd), Agriculture (Judah Flowers Limited, Judah Cereals Limited and Judah Poultry Farm Limited) and manufacturing (Judah Steel Works Limited and Judah Cement Limited).
Lamb is the current CEO of Judah Commercial Bank. Audrey is an accountant; she works for the audit firm that audits the bank’s accounts. A year ago her boss asked her to make a presentation to the bank’s board on the state of their accounts. Lamb saw her for the first time that day, and as they say, the rest is history.
Senator Benjamin Judah and his wife welcome their prospective daughter-in-law warmly. Lamb’s eldest sister, Hannah, shows Audrey the room where she will be staying in before she moves in with Lamb. Audrey showers and then joins the family for dinner. There is a lot of easy banter at the dinner table, but being a guest, Audrey does not participate. She just smiles shyly.
After dinner, Lamb and his sisters leave. The girls insist that they want to chat more with their brother and follow him to his house. Audrey excuses herself and goes to her room, leaving the Senator and his wife watching TV.
Lamb’s house is a few blocks away from his father’s, so he and his sisters walk. His sisters are chattering excitedly, but Lamb is distracted. He knows that the reason his sisters have followed him is because they want to sleep with him. They haven’t seen each other for a long time. Ever since Lamb became the CEO of the family-owned bank, he has been living in the city. He comes to the Village every weekend, but he is always holding meetings with the Lord, Lion and other senior members of the family. He has been begging off sex, saying he is exhausted.
The real reason however is that he has been rethinking some of his family practices. Incest and having sex with children are some of the practices he now finds disgusting. Lamb has not slept with an underage girl since he turned fifteen, and has not slept with any woman in his family since he became CEO four years ago. He no longer wants to be part of that mess. That has been particularly true ever since he met Audrey. He would never cheat on her, not even at gun point. As a matter of fact, she is the other reason he is distracted. Lamb knows that his father wants to sleep with her. He saw the way the older man kept checking Audrey out during dinner.
According to family tradition, the brides of the heirs to the family throne are supposed to be virgins. The person who tests that virginity is not the groom, but the Lord Judah himself. After the wedding, the bride and the groom are usually taken to the family tabernacle for the final wedding rites. Inside the tabernacle are two bedrooms. The bride is normally taken to one, and that is where she spends the night with Lord Judah. The groom is taken to the other room and spends the night with the wife of the Lion. If it is the Lion who is getting married, then he spends the night with the wife of the Lord. Lamb is actually fortunate that the current Lion is his uncle and not his father. Some people are forced to spend their wedding night with their mothers. That was true for the current Lion, because the current Lord is his father.
Besides the disgusting notion of having to sleep with his sisters tonight, the other reason Lamb is distracted is because he doesn’t want anybody to touch Audrey. The current Lord Judah is eighty five years old, and Lamb is hoping that he won’t touch Audrey on the wedding night.
Lamb’s first plan has failed, but he has a back-up plan. His first plan was an unorthodox way of solving the problem: he started having sex with Audrey before the marriage. Having slept with her, she would not be expected to be a virgin and therefore would not need to sleep with the Lord; or so he thought. He meekly informed the Lord that he had broken his bride’s virginity in a moment of weakness. He expected the Lord would forgive him and allow the ceremony to go on as planned, but without the Lord having to test Audrey’s virginity. He was both right and wrong. After making Lamb swear that Audrey was a virgin when he first made love to her, the Lord gave his blessings to the union, but he insisted that Audrey would have to be cleansed. He (Lord Judah) will be the one to cleanse her by sleeping with her on the wedding night.
Lamb’s back up plan is more convectional. He has already made arrangements with the only relative he trust-a cousin called Tamar-to have the old man’s beverage laced with a sleeping pill. He will not die, but he will sleep throughout the wedding night, and in the morning Lamb will be free to take his bride and go away on honeymoon.
But now Lamb has a new problem. Over dinner, he has seen the way his father was looking at Audrey, and he knows he (Benjamin) will make love to her tonight. Lamb did not think that any of the males in the family would make a move on a bride so soon to her wedding. But Lamb now realises that since he already declared that she is not a virgin, she is fair game to any male member of the immediate family. After all, she will be cleansed by the Lord on the wedding night.
Lamb wonders whether he should have skipped the country with Audrey. They could go and going to live a simple life in another country, free of the House of Judah baggage. He has thought about it many times, but he knows it cannot work. The family deals ruthlessly with traitors. People have been assassinated in faraway places such as the USA and Australia for trying to betray the family. The latest traitor, a woman who married into the family fifteen years ago, has been missing for sixteen months now. Before her disappearance, she went to the police to report that her twelve year old daughter was defiled by the Lord Judah. Lamb and every other family member know that she was kidnapped in the hotel where she was staying after fleeing the Village and was roasted alive at the family incinerator. Her daughter was taken back to the Village and she later told the police that she was still a virgin.
Lamb shivers when he remembers that furnace. There is no escape for anyone who is born in or who marries into the House of Judah. You either follow the family tradition or you die a painful death.
Audrey is falling asleep when someone knocks her bedroom door. She assumes that it is Lamb’s mother who wants to talk to her, so she opens the door without bothering to wear anything over her tiny nightdress. But it is not her prospective mother-in-law who is standing on the other side of the door. It is her prospective father-in-law. The Senator is wearing nothing other than a pair of boxers and a vest.
“Father,” Audrey says in surprise.
“Hi beautiful,” the Senator says with a smile. He pushes his way in, sweeping her into his arms in the process.
“Father, please don’t do this to me. I am going to be your son’s wife.”
“It is fine, darling. My son’s wife is my wife too. So relax, and let’s have some fun.”
He drops her on the bed and starts removing her night dress.
Image by David Mark from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/architecture-stairway-columns-76671/
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