Camilla was still furious at the discourteous manner Dominic had treated her yesterday—twice for that matter!
She let out a low hiss as she clinked down the hallway of the executive offices of La Quinta. She’d gotten her usual alert that he was going to be at Chã das Caldeiras and had immediately gotten into her car and made the drive down so she could be there with him. But had he appreciated her efforts? No. He’d acted as he always did since he got back—nonchalant and insulting. Rebuffing her affectionate moves like he hadn’t once welcomed and even sought for them.
Damn that pretentious innocent-faced gold-digger! It was her fault. She had come between her and Dominic. If her mother hadn’t taught her never to take the fight for a man’s attention to the extreme, Camilla felt certain she wouldn’t have been able to stop herself from doing something dire.
But like her mother always said, no man was worth that many sorrows—not when there are many more to fish from. She knocked on the door and didn’t wait for a response before she turned the doorknob and swept into Kanayo’s mini-sized office.
He was seated behind his desk and looked up as she sauntered towards him. “You are not looking very pleased, my sweet.” He said with a somewhat wry smile.
Camilla let out another hiss as she slid into the chair in front of his desk. “That is because there is nothing to be pleased about. That naïve fool, Dominic, left me fuming with anger twice yesterday. Can you imagine that?”
“I am sorry you had a bad day yesterday, minha bela.” Kanayo said, his smile now soothing. “You should have called me to cheer you up though.”
“I did, your phone was switched off.” She regarded him with narrowed eyes. “What were you up to yesterday? One of my vexations was that Nick came demanding to know your whereabouts at my place and didn’t even act polite about it. He said something about a get-together— how would he know you had one with your friends? You check in your social calendar with him now?”
Kanayo chuckled. “Now, that would be something.”
“That doesn’t quite answer my question, does it?” Camilla leaned forward and sent him a knowing wink. “Did you take his precious Kaine out to this get-together of yours? You made another move on the boss’s wife, didn’t you, my dear friend?”
Kanayo moved his shoulders. “It’s what you wanted, not so?”
“It was what I asked for on Saturday at the Mingle. But I see you took it further the next day.” She reached out and caressed the fingers of his right hand lying over a stack of papers. “Looking to win over sweet, innocent Kaine for yourself, Kanny?”
“That would suit you, wouldn’t it?”
Camilla shrugged. She sensed he was prevaricating. “It certainly would be fun to prove to Dominic that she is just a two-timing gold-digger. So, where did you two go? Was it a get-together for only two or were your friends really there?”
“It was our usual meeting at Oyin’s place. And I invited Kaine because it was a chance for her to meet other Nigerians here.”
Camilla frowned. She’d forgotten he had this monthly social function that mostly took place at the home of the Nigerian girl she’d once thought was his girlfriend. “So, you are using the simple and mundane to get to her, good strategy.”
She didn’t really think it was a strategy, not the way Kanayo was looking nonchalant and he proved her suspicion right with his firm-voiced response. “It is not a strategy, Camie. I am not interested in seducing Kaine; and even if I were, she wouldn’t be interested. She’s in love with Dominic.”
“Is that what she told you?” His disinterest annoyed Camilla but she kept a firm hold on her spiralling temper. “And what else did she tell you? Any shared-secrets as to how she seduced my Nick after having seduced his poor brother?” She leaned back against her seat as she smirked. “Did she tell you a sob story about having fallen in love with one brother and then the other when she heard the first was dead?”
“She didn’t have a sob story. She’s not the pretentious type and she is not a gold-digger.” Kanayo had also leaned back into his seat and his expression was back to wry amusement as he watched her. “She is truly in love with Dominic, Camie. And not to be sourpuss, but he is her Nick and not yours.”
“Não seja estúpido, Kanny!” Camilla hurled out in Portuguese, her irritation getting the better of her. “I see like the two stupid brothers, you too fell for her deceptive charms. My God, what is wrong with you men?” Unable to contain it, she sprang to her feet and started pacing; hating that there wasn’t enough space to do so. “She is in love with Nick? What a load of bullshit! She took what was mine and she gets the free will to do so and even an applause because she got pregnant and had a baby for one of the Kojo-Edwards brothers?”
“If that was the key, maybe you should have done the same.”
Kanayo’s mild taunt sent a stream of cusses from her lips. “I hate it when you are smirking and mocking me, Kanny, so stop it now!” She ground out finally, getting her temper back in check. “So what you are telling me is that that silly girl did not tell you anything meaningful except the lie that she loved Dominic? And what about Saturday, when she was disgracefully drunk? Did she not let anything slip? People are known to talk freely and carelessly when they are drunk.”
“She wasn’t drunk; she was just a little too tipsy.”
Camilla stared at him. “And what difference is there in that?”
Kanayo shrugged. “One is slight and the other much. But that is pointless argument. The truth is that Kaine told me nothing. Nothing incriminating. She only confessed her feelings for Dominic to me and that was that.”
“She confessed—what are you now, her Priest?” Camilla mocked, not sure if she believed him. Yet not certain, why she shouldn’t.
Kanayo chuckled, got up and came around his desk to her side. He took her hand and drew her to him. “If I were a Priest, I will tell you that you are wasting your God-given time and your beauty on Dominic Kojo-Edwards. That ship has sailed, Camie. Let it go. He hasn’t done anything to show you he’s still interested since he got back, has he?”
“He is confused. That witch of a woman has him confused.” Camilla leaned into him because she never minded being held in Kanayo’s strong arms. “I worked so hard to get him to notice me, Kanny. You know that.”
“Maybe you don’t have to work that hard to get someone who is really right for you to notice you.” He slipped his hands around her waist. “Accept that it’s over between you and the boss and let him be, minha bela. You deserve better than a man with a divided attention.”
Camilla frowned as she thought about it. He had a point. She deserved better—better than Dominic’s constant neglect and rejections. She wasn’t used to having to so belittle herself just to get a man’s attention. Men fawned over her. They pursued her and would do anything to win her over. Only sad thing was that most of them were not the kind of men she wanted. Like Kanayo.
She knew he wanted her. She knew he wanted to be her lover. The desire in his eyes was clear but she wanted more. More of the things he cannot offer. But if she was going to let Dominic go, then there was no reason not to enjoy him whilst she hunted for a perfect replacement. After all, she had always wanted to have a taste of him.
“Is your attention undivided where I am concerned, Kanny?” She lifted her arms and curled them around his neck. “You do want a taste of me, don’t you, my handsome black male?”
“Every man with good eyes on his head wants a taste of you, minha bela.” Kanayo murmured, giving her a soft bite on her chin.
Camilla let out a throaty chuckle. “I am tempted to give you a taste, Kanny. But you know what I want. And you know that I will never want differently, right?”
“You are greedy, minha bela. But you are also irresistibly alluring and my blood boils for you.” He gave her another soft bite before tentatively tasting her lips. “Now that you no longer belong to the boss, dare a lowly man like me douse his thirst?”
“Maybe once… or twice. If the first time is very good.” And because her body was yearning for the touch of a man, she leaned in and covered her lips over Kanayo’s, moaning when he turned the kiss into masterful possession.
Kaine lifted up Tobi into her arms and started towards the door. He’d just woken up from his nap and would be needing his food. She had to find Raquel or Catia to get her his bottle. She gurgled into his face as she made her way down the stairs.
“Maybe I will reduce your ration for this afternoon given the way you’re so heavy these days.” She sent him a playful glare but he only gurgled in delight. “You’re going to be a round-figured toddler if you go on like this, little man.”
“Still threatening my grandson, I see.” Mia said, coming out of her room. “A healthy baby is supposed to be round, fresh and cuddly. Bring him to me and stop trying to turn him into a six-pack runway toddler-model.”
“Six-pack? He’s a one-pack dude.” Kaine scoffed, laughing as she good-naturedly went towards the older woman. “I was just going to get his food. Could you hold him while I go prepare it in the kitchen?”
“Happily.” Mia declared, taking the baby from her. “And be sure not to ration his food, for I will know if you do.” She warned before shooing her off.
“I will try to resist the temptation to.” Kaine said with a cheeky grin, marching off.
She returned a few minutes later and handed the warm bottle of food to Mia who was sitting on the couch in bedroom with the baby on her laps.
“It look like it’s short one millilitre.” She said with a mocking glare before settling an already eager Tobi for hid feeding.
“Then you have to hold Raquel and not me responsible. She made the food.” Kaine laughed.
Mia snorted. “Uh-hmm. The servant always obeys her mistress.”
Kaine chuckled and reached out to lift the centre-opened magazine on the stool beside her. But it was in Portuguese, so she dropped it back.
“You know, I was thinking just last night and it struck me that you and Nick never really had a honeymoon.” Mia broke the small comfortable silence. “I think you two should go on one.”
“Honeymoon?” Kaine turned surprised eyes to her.
“Yes, honeymoon.” Mia’s expression was amused. “”You did not get a chance to have a real one with this little one in tour. The entire wedding was a whirlwind to say the least. But now, Tobi can stay here with us while you two take the chance and go somewhere all by yourself. You need to spend time alone together.”
The idea both thrilled and scared Kaine. They had both spent a lovely evening together after her return from the get-together yesterday and Dominic had even slept on the bed with her without making a move on her—even though a part of her had yearned for him to. But going somewhere alone with him, with nobody as a distraction or a middleman? Surely something would happen and surely that would only bring about trouble at the end of it?
“You have a face like I’ve just suggested you go do something terribly forbidden.” Mia said, laughing. “I am only talking of a honeymoon with your husband, Kaine. That is not something bad, is it?”
“Ah… no. But it’s just that Nick and I are not that kind of couple, Mama. We only got married so…”
“You got married to give my grandson what he deserved, I know.” Since Tobi was done with his feeding, she lifted him up to her shoulder to burp him. “But whatever the reason, you two are married and that is all that counts. You have to get to know each other. You have to learn to understand and love one another. Love is not hard when the heart is willing, Kaine.”
Kaine looked down at her hands. Her heart, willing or not, had fallen in love with Dominic but she couldn’t tell the older woman that. “I think maybe Nick may have made other choices if he hadn’t been forced to make this one. He might have chosen to marry Camilla if I hadn’t come into the picture.”
“Know this first, my child, no one forced Nick to make any choice.” Mia said in a firm voice. “I did ask him to do this for me but if he didn’t think it was the right thing to do, he wouldn’t have done it. Nick is a noble-hearted man but he can be stubborn like his father was and his little brother before he left us. Though Tobi was always much more stubborn.” She smiled a little at this and shook her head. “Anyway, as for him marrying Camilla? That would never have happened. She’s a showy woman. And easy fruit to pluck. No man values what so cheaply falls into their laps.”
Kaine’s still doubtful heart longed to find its rest in her reassuring words. She really wanted to believe that Camilla meant nothing to Dominic as everyone kept saying. She wanted to believe that he had eyes only for her now.
Mia bent and lowered Tobi down to the carpeted floor. “I feel like your heart is starting to beat for my son, Kaine. I see feelings in your eyes.” She reached for her hand and held it. “You have no need to envy that unimportant woman not when my son can’t stop looking at you.” At her quick stare, Mia chuckled and nodded. “Oh yes, he looks at you and I see what is in his eyes. You are a beautiful woman. You have beauty in your heart and in your soul as well as on your body. It is good to make a man wait. But never safe to make him wait too long.”
Kaine flushed as she caught her meaning. “Ah… we haven’t because… ah…”
“I do not ask for explanation.” Mia cut off her stuttering. “I am sometimes a nosy mother—not always; only sometimes.” Her eyes twinkled. “A honeymoon, that’s what you two need. A time alone in a romantic place to get to know each other.”
She had to tell her how impossible that was. This was her chance to come clean. Kaine cast a glance at Tobi playing with his toys on the floor and then back at Mia. “Ah… Mama, there’s something I have… I need to tell you.” Her heartbeat suddenly started pounding. She inhaled and tried to calm herself. “I didn’t mean to…” She broke off as Mia’s phone blasted out.
“Oh goodness! I’ll take this and get rid of this person and then you can tell me without interruptions, okay?” Mia rose and walked to her dresser to pick her phone. Then she let out another exclamation and turned to her with an apologetic smile. “Ah, this one I cannot get rid of; not for at least an hour or more. It is my cousin, Ines, and she does like to gossip.” She let out a laugh. “You don’t mind if we finish our talk another time, do you, my sweet girl?”
Kaine shook her head. “No, no, that’s all right. Go ahead and talk freely with your cousin. I’ll just take Tobi with me, so he doesn’t disturb you.”
“Oh, leave the little boy. He’s no disturbance. Besides, Ines will like to hear his baby chatters. Go rest or watch a movie, I’ll take care of him.” And with a dismissive smile, Mia lifted the phone to her ear and switched to Portuguese as she greeted her cousin.
Kaine wasn’t exactly sure if she was relieved or disappointed at having lost her first chance to confess. But as she felt her heart drop back to its normal beat, she wondered how she would really feel after her confession.
Will she be relieved at having a burden lifted off her or will she just be heartbroken at losing the trust of people she’d come to love?
Unnerved by her thought, she hastened into their bedroom and decided that a movie might indeed be the distraction she needed until she had to speak with Mia again.
But she didn’t get to speak with her again. After her call with her cousin, which lasted more than an hour, Mia sent Tobi back to her through Catia and with a message that she needed to go see her Parish Priest. And would probably stay out for lunch and maybe an early dinner with friends.
Again, torn between a feeling of relief and apprehension, Kaine left Tobi with Raquel and out to the garden to take in some relaxing fresh air. She was still there when Dominic returned earlier than usual.
“It’s always a pleasure seeing you in shorts and tiny, flimsy tops.” He said as he strode towards her, the smile on his lips teasing and alluring.
Kaine responded with a somewhat shy smile. “My top is not flimsy. It’s a full-length chiffon top and you forced me to pick it, remember?”
He chuckled, slid down beside her on the bench. “And for good reason; it suits you.” He took her hand and raised it to his lips. “Did you have a good day, querida?”
“I did.” She tingled at his soft kiss. Once she had pretended she hated when he addressed her by endearments, now she didn’t have to. She enjoyed them and even longed to hear him call her thus in his deep, seducing tone. “And you? You’re back early. Not much work at the hotel?”
“There’s always work at the hotel, but I missed my wife.” He turned her hand over and kissed her palm, his brown eyes steadily on hers. “Did you miss me, querida?”
She had. “I did. I missed you.” Kaine confessed, damning the consequence.
Her bold move sent a wide grin to his face. “Sweet words from your sweet lips. Shall I kiss you in this sweet-scented garden, querida?”
Yes! Her heart cried inside of her even as she felt herself suffuse with warmth. Since she was being bold, she rode further on it. “Yes, Nick, kiss me please.”
“Minha querida.” He murmured and then leaned forward and took her lips.
The kiss didn’t last long but it sent a thousand butterflies fluttering inside of her when it ended. “Nick, I have to tell you something.” She didn’t know why she blurted that out. Maybe it was a sudden need to truly be open with him, she didn’t know. “I should have told you all along but…”
“You don’t have to fear that I am about to start something here, querida. I am not. I long much for you but I am not without self-control yet.” He chuckled as he kissed her again, lightly this time. “I know you’re too inhibited to welcome too much public display of affection. But you will loosen up with time, won’t you? You are married to a man who doesn’t have much sensitivities about places and times, you know.”
“Ah… okay. But that is not what I wanted to tell you.” Her heartbeat wasn’t pounding now, it was thudding and sky-rocketing. “Nick, I…”
“I have an idea.” He smoothly interrupted her. “I am going to Sal in two days. A little business meeting over there. But I think I can spare good time afterwards to show you the Island. It is quite beautiful—one of the most beautiful Islands in Cape Verde. Come with me, querida, and I promise to charm you with the beauty of the Sal Island. What do you say?”
Maybe it was her talk with Mia or the butterflies in her stomach, but Kaine heard herself say with an indistinct distant shock. “Yes, Nick, I’d like to see Sal with you.”
“And see it we shall.” Grinning in triumph, he leaned in and kissed her again. “You will enjoy it, I promise you, querida.”
Kaine only nodded and settled into his arms. Maybe she should have tried harder to make him listen to her; maybe she should broach the subject again—that at least, her head was nagging to do. But the sweet feeling of having him be so loving and carefree with her, made her decide that the talk could wait until they returned from Sal.
She needed to cherish these sweet moments, if she was in danger of losing them.
TRANSLATION: Não seja estúpido!—Don’t be stupid!