Kaine was watching a movie on an English channel when Dominic came in. The moment he stepped through the door and entered into the room, her entire body warmed and tingled at the knowledge of his presence and her heartbeat quickened.
This was her curse now since she’d realised she was in love with him. If she wasn’t having the light burn way underneath her navel, she was having ticklish feelings as her body hungered for a single touch from him. The most disturbing fact was that much as she hungered for his touch and kisses, she dared not allow him touch her as that would be tantamount to blurting out the truth that she was never Tobi’s lover and therefore not Baby Tobi’s mother.
She wanted to be free of the burden of that lie but she felt confused on how best to approach him—or even Mia—with the truth.
So, she inhaled, buried her worries deep within her heart and turned to offer him a welcoming smile. “Bem Vinda.” She greeted in Portuguese.
And as she had hoped, his full luscious lips widened into a grin at her use of his language. “Obrigada, minha querida.” He said softly, strolling towards her.
Her body was already slightly trembling even before he leaned down and closed his mouth over hers. The kiss was brief and she found herself hungry for more when he lifted up and stepped back.
“Did you have a good day, querida?” He asked in a voice that was deeply sensual.
Kaine inclined her head. “I did. And you, how was your day at the office?”
“Hmm, so-so.” Dominic moved his shoulders in light shrug. “I think I forgot to mention this, but there’s a party going on at the hotel tomorrow. It’s a yearly event where our guests get to mingle with the hotel’s staff and their families. We call it Mingle, using that simple English term. There’s food, drinks and lots of dancing.”
“Oh.” She always felt out of her depth when at a party. She’d only been to a very few; dragged there by Anwuli despite their father’s protestations. “I’m not really much of a party person and you know how hopeless I can be with drinks.”
“You’re not hopeless with drinks, you only become less inhibited and more fascinating after a couple of glasses.” His eyes sparkled with a mischievous gleam. “Besides, I’ll be there with you, so you need not fear. I am expected there, querida, and I must come with my family. In the past Mama, Tobi and I used to go, but with little Tobi here, I guess Mama will have to stay back. In fact, she’d already volunteered to stay and look after the baby when I stopped by her room. So, it’s just going to be you and I.”
And a great number of people who probably would be more sophisticated than she was, Kaine thought as her heart pounded in nervousness. “But can’t you go alone?”
“I can, but I won’t. We are going together, querida. It will be our first official function and believe me when I say that there will be many more.” He bent over and kissed her firmly on the lips, then straightened up and turned. “Stop worrying that pretty head of yours, I will be by your side all night, so you don’t have to fear that anyone will scoop you up and run away with you.” He chuckled as he said the last bit.
Kaine sighed and wished her body—and heart—will stop begging for more of his kisses. If this was what being in love meant, it’s no wonder it drove Anwuli crazy that she had to leave her son to go find the man she loved. She frowned faintly as it struck her that she would never abandon her child for anything… not even if her heart was going to break for love.
Not liking the momentary judgment of her sister, she focused again on the television and tried not to listen to Dominic’s movements inside the closet room.
Mia had helped her dress for the party. Mia and an ever-curious Catia.
Mia had chosen the T-back, plunged-neck Persian-red, long Jersey dress with padded bust cups and the four-inch ankle-strap Jimmy Choo champagne-gold coloured sandals. And Catia had expertly done her makeup, applying darker colours than she usually went for.
Now as she stared at her image on the full-length mirror, Kaine decided that they both had known what they were doing. She didn’t look like herself. She looked instead like a gorgeous supermodel. Her eyes were subtly more shadowed and made to look bigger and her lashes fuller and longer. Her mouth was covered in hot-red lipstick and looked even more pouty—and kind of sultry. Like it was begging to be kissed.
Catia, with her usual devilish twinkle, had said that it was a kiss-proof lipstick and won’t go away no matter how much she was kissed.
Well, that was reassuring because she was certain Dominic would want to kiss her—as she wanted him to kiss her. She sighed and started to step back from the mirror, but the door opened and Dominic came in. He was in a suit, but no tie. Kaine thought she’d never seem him look more handsome. His curly hair was brushed back, so that the curls rested at the nape of his neck. His eyes met hers and the dark intensity of them quickened her heartbeat.
“You look exceptionally beautiful, minha querida.” He said, his voice low and deep. “Catia was not exaggerating this time when she said you will be the most beautiful woman at the party tonight.” He stopped right in front of her and reached out a hand to caress her face. “And I will be the luckiest man there.”
“You’re looking very handsome yourself.” Kaine murmured, trying to force her heart to stop jumping about.
“My first compliment from my wife, I’m already feeling lucky.” He grinned and moved his hand to play with the locks of her hair. “I like that you left it down. You have such beautiful hair and it suits you better when it is flowing freely down your back.”
“Mama insisted it was the best style.” Dear God, she was going to have a heart attack at the rate her heartbeat was racing.
“And she was right. I usually love a woman’s hair pulled up from her face and neck, but tonight, this makes you even more beautiful.”
Kaine felt her body warm at his appreciative expression and words. “Thank you.”
He smiled, dropped his hand and slipped it inside the jacket of his suit. “I have something for you.” He got out a small rectangular shaped box and passed it. “A small gift for my most beautiful wife.”
Kaine took the box with a hand that slightly quivered. “Thank you. I wasn’t expecting a gift.”
“That makes it even nicer to give it, no? Open it.”
It sounded like an order but Kaine didn’t care with the way she was feeling. She pushed up the top of the box and an involuntary gasp escaped her. “Oh my God, this is so beautiful!” She stared, mesmerised, at the white gold diamond stud earrings and single strand diamond necklace.
It has to be diamond, because Mia had shown her a collection of hers—gifts from her Nico—and they looked just like this.
“I am glad you like it. Come, I’ll put it on for you.” He lifted out the necklace.
Since she wasn’t wearing any neck-wear, he slipped his hand around her neck and clasped the diamond necklace on it. Kaine shut her eyes and held in her breath, forcing herself not to sway into his arms. Gosh, he smelt so nice—so headily like a man.
“You will have to take off your earrings and exchange them with the studs.”
Kaine snapped open her eyes to find him watching her closely. Dear Lord, if she was an experienced woman, she would lean in and kiss him. She would have told him to undress her and to— she stopped the wild thoughts and laying the box on the dresser, slipped off her earrings and replaced them with the diamond studs.
“Exquisite.” Dominic pronounced. “I am now torn in two. One part of me is dying to take you to the party and show off my exquisitely beautiful wife. And the other part, want to kiss you senseless and convince you to let me make love to me. Which part of me should I listen to, querida?”
Make love to me, let me know how it feels, her body and heart screamed. But she only moistened her lips and swallowed the crazy wish. “Ah… you did say it is important that we be at the party, so… I think we should go.”
“I could call someone and make acceptable excuses— if you ask me to.” He murmured, raising his hand to caress her cheek.
Ask him! Her tingling body ordered. “We are already dressed and it would be a waste of all the efforts Mama and Catia have made if we don’t go.”
“It would be that. But I have a feeling Mama and Catia would understand if they don’t see us coming down the stairs any time soon.” His hand had trailed to her chin and was now gliding down the open neckline of her dress.
Kaine wondered if he could feel the trembling of her body and prayed the hunger in her heart wasn’t brimming out of her eyes. “Maybe. But they will be so disappointed… they really worked hard to make me look this beautiful. And this gorgeous gift you just gave me is meant to be showcased, right?” Kaine was desperate for any excuse to stop her from falling into his arms and screaming out the love in her heart.
“Too many protests and yet your body trembles underneath my finger.” His mouth curved into a slow dazzling smile. “One day, querida, you will not be able to resist me and will beg me to take you. One day—soon.” Then he leaned down and kissed her.
It was a slow, soft, tender stroke. A simple, un-intrusive caress with only his lips. Yet, Kaine’s entire body lit up like he’d prodded open her mouth and had intertwined his tongue with hers.
“I think we will have to continue this when we get back, querida, I am completely unsatisfied.” He murmured as he lifted his head. “Pity, we must go.” He stepped back and crooked his left hand.
Kaine slipped her right hand through it and told herself to calm down and be composed. Gosh, she was becoming something else over this man. Thank God he was already her husband or she’d be in real trouble.
The Mingle turned out to be a bigger event that Kaine had imagined. When he’d said it was a way to bring together the hotel’s guests and the staff with their families, she’d thought it would be a gathering of under fifty-sixty persons but inside one of La Quinta’s magnificent halls, there were at least a hundred people milling around.
It was a buffet event. No waiting staff, everyone got to serve themselves and everyone got to mingle with whomever and talked whatever. Of course, most of the conservations went on in rolling, fast-paced-uttered Portuguese, Kaine found she didn’t mind as she had Dominic holding onto her hand and interpreting compliments and praises from guests who did not speak English.
“What do you think?” Dominic asked her as they found themselves alone after over forty minutes of having to greet and chat with guests and staff alike.
“Wow, it is amazing.” Kaine still felt dazzled and bobbed her head to the rhythm coming from the band at the other end of the hall. “I didn’t think it was going to be this big. There are so many people.”
He laughed. “This is nothing. Wait until our Christmas Carnival and you will see a crowd that will leave you speechless. That one is for the entire Island and hardly anyone misses it. But of course, it’s never held here but always on one of our beaches. We call it Bonfire-Night and it is always spectacular.”
“This one already looks spectacular, I can’t imagine how that one will be.” Because she was torn between excitement and nervousness, she emptied her second glass of the delicious wine and reached for the bottle on the tables close by to refill her glass.
“I see you’re enjoying the wine.” Dominic commented, his expression amused. “I recommend you add food to it though. In fact, I’ll set up a plate for you. You hold onto my glass for me… and don’t you dare take a sip of it. This one is a stronger beverage.” He added in a laughing warning tone before turning to pick a paper dish from the stack on the table.
Kaine looked into the dark liquid in his glass and was going to tease him that she would empty it and then he’d been in trouble with a drunken wife when she saw Camilla swaying over. She had on this sheer red, asymmetric body-fitting midi dress with one cut-out sleeve and silver heeled strapped sandals that matched the clutch purse in her hand. Her hair was pulled up and her long neck bare of any jewellery. The only jewellery on her were the dangling earrings and the blinking bracelet.
Kaine wished Mia had chosen a different colour of dress for her, then they wouldn’t look like they were competing for attention—Dominic’s attention.
“Hello, Kaine.” She stopped beside her and regarded her with her usual condescending expression. “Hmm, one might think we both discussed our dressing before coming out this evening, seeing as we have similar colours on.”
“If we had discussed it, you can be certain I won’t be wearing this.” Kaine told her, ignoring her greeting and her haughty smile.
Camilla let out a low laugh. “Trust me when I say that you and I can wear the same thing but I’ll still stand out, Kaine. You might have made an effort tonight but true class cannot be bought.”
“I am not trying to buy anything, Camilla. I am content with who I am.” She cast a glance over her shoulders. A guest—or was it a staff?—was talking to Dominic and they both had their backs to them.
“Are you sure?” Camilla’s haughty smile turned derisive. “Did you have this kind of lifestyle before you ensnared Nick into marrying you?”
“No, I didn’t.” Kaine didn’t see any point in lying. “But I am not one to be carried away by flimsy, unimportant things such as this.”
“Yet, you got pregnant for one brother and married another.” Camilla mocked.
“I did what I had to do for my son.” And because it was the only weapon she had, she decided to use it. “But for whatever reason we are together, the fact remains that Nick and I are married and there is absolutely nothing you—or anyone else can do about that.”
The scornful smile vanished and was replaced with a glare. “You think you have won, Kaine, but you are making a mistake by underestimating me.”
Though something shook inside of her at the low-voiced threat, Kaine only sent her a cold smile. “I don’t even think of you, Camilla, let alone estimating or underestimating you.”
It was a lie but of course Camilla didn’t know that. “You are such a pretender!” She hissed. “Nick thinks you’re an innocent but I see through you.”
“You see nothing because you are blinded by jealousy, Camilla.” Kaine retorted, proud that her comeback had unsettled the annoying woman. “My advice to you is to find yourself another man—there are plenty here at the party. So, why don’t you go charm them and stop trying to seduce my husband.”
Whatever curse she was about to viciously spit out was interrupted by Dominic. “Camilla, I see you have arrived.” He came forward and passed Kaine a plate filled with assorted chops. “Here you are, querida. I mixed them up so you can have a taste of almost everything on the menu.”
“Thanks, sweetheart.” Kaine took the plate and flashed him an adoring smile.
It was the first time she was addressing him by any form of endearment and the quick flicker in his eyes showed his surprise before Dominic reached for one of the glasses she held on one hand. “My pleasure, minha querida.” He murmured, his eyes openly caressing.
“I hate to interrupt this sentimental session but Senhor Da Silva just arrived moments ago and he stopped me to ask after you.” Camilla said, her cool smile back on.
“Then we must go meet him. He is an important political figure in Cape Verde and a regular guest of the hotel whenever he is in Praia.” Dominic’s explanation was directed to Kaine.
“But you cannot come along with your plates of food.” Camilla protested. “Why don’t you leave your own plate with your wife and we go see him? I’m sure she will feel out of place since Senhor Da Silva hardly speaks English.”
“I am here to interpret should my wife require it.” Dominic brushed aside her argument—to Kaine’s delight. “Besides, this is a buffet party and it is not unusual to see someone with a plate of food. Come, querida. Apart from Senhor Da Silva there are still many more people to meet.”
“Let’s go then.” Kaine dropped her glass on the table and linked her hand with Dominic’s own, tossing a scowling Camilla a smug smile as they went ahead.
But maybe the darned woman had a point when she’d said that she was underestimating her because after she got introduced to Senhor Da Silva and they briefly chatted with him, Camilla gestured to more guests and soon, Dominic couldn’t keep up with his interpretation job as they all got caught up in a conversation with an obviously wealthy couple.
Feeling completely left out and like a useless wheel, Kaine started to step back but ended up slamming into someone. “Oh, I’m sorry!” She said hastily as she swept around.
But luckily for her it was Kanayo and not a Portuguese, she’d had to say words he or she wouldn’t understand. “Oh, thank God, it’s you, Kanayo. I was worried I might have to struggle with my non-existent Portuguese as I apologise for my mistake.”
“An apology is not needed at all. One is bound to step on someone with the way this hall is filled up.” Kanayo gave her a friendly smile. “Looks like you haven’t had a chance to eat your food.” He added, nodding to her plate.
“Ah… no, I haven’t.” Kaine looked down at her still piled up plate and shook her head. “It’s been meet this person or that person and I haven’t found the time to dig into these delicious looking chops.”
“I’ve had myself a plateful, so I know indeed that they are delicious.” Kanayo smiled. “Would you like to move to the sides of the hall and eat in peace? There are more spaces and fewer people that way?”
Kaine cast a glance behind her. Another couple had joined the conversation and Dominic looked very much preoccupied as they all talked animatedly. There was no need to disturb him just because she wanted to keep Camilla away from him. So she turned and smiled at Kanayo. “I think that will be nice. I am feeling a little hungry anyway.”
“Then let’s go.” Kanayo gestured and waited for her to move before falling in step with her. “I’ll get you a drink.” He said once they stopped at the opposite end from where she and Dominic had earlier been.
“Okay.” Kaine smiled her thanks as she lifted her plastic fork and stabbed a round puff-like chop. She could definitely do with a drink.
They finally drifted off to chat with other guests and Dominic turned to offer a quick apology to Kaine who he’d unfortunately been neglecting. But she wasn’t behind him. He scanned the throng of people around him but she was nowhere to be found.
“I think I am getting hungry.” Camilla said beside him, picking the fork from his plate and forking up a diced spiced chicken into her mouth. “Hmm, delicious as always. I swear, we have the best chef on the entire Islands.”
Dominic did not respond to her quick laugh and chose to speak in English instead of the Portuguese she’d spoken in. “You can have my plate then. I have to find my wife.”
Camilla grabbed the plate he pushed to her even as a frown darkened her expression. “Jeez, Nick, allow her to mingle on her own. She’s not a baby for heaven’s sake. And I’m sure she must be relieved to have her husband stop dragging her around.”
“I wasn’t dragging her around, Camilla. She is my wife and she should be by my side.” His worried eyes scanned the far ends of the hall. Darn it, he shouldn’t have gotten carried away and forgotten her! “I have to go look for her. She doesn’t yet speak Portuguese and most people here don’t speak English either.”
“Will you relax, Nick?” Camilla held his hand, stopping him from sweeping past her. “This is a party and there is no doubt she left because she wanted to have some fun by herself.”
“She left because I forgot her and she must have felt superfluous.” Dominic jerked away her hand. “I was supposed to be taking care of her not preoccupied by other guests.”
“You were doing your duty as the President of this Hotel and Kaine should be able to understand that.” Camilla snapped. “Besides, there are still important guests whom I’m sure we haven’t spoken to and made to feel welcome, you should be worried about those and not about your adult wife who can take care of herself.”
“My first duty is always to my family—to my wife. Enjoy the rest of your evening, Camilla.” And not waiting for a response from her, Dominic swept past her and moved in the direction of the DJ and where a lot of the guests had gathered. No doubt they were being entertained by dancing folks and maybe Kaine would be there.
He pushed through the crowd even as his eyes scanned the faces of people for Kaine. But the second he got to the front line, his mouth dropped open as he saw that it was his wife entertaining the crowd as she gleefully swung her waist to the beats coming from the DJ’s turntable, laughing up into his bar manager’s face.
Dominic felt the slam of jealousy first before he felt the quick flare of fury. How dare she make an exhibition of herself like this? He pushed aside the highly-entertained hollering man in front of him and swung to the makeshift dance floor. There were three other couples on the dance floor but his furious gaze was only on his hip-swinging wife.
“I think you have danced enough, minha querida.” He kept his tone light and his expression pleasant for the sake of the watching throng of people. “You dance beautifully but it is time we started heading home. Little Tobi must be missing us now.”
“Nick!” Kaine gave a delighted laugh and flung her arms about his neck. “Dance with me, my love. The music is so wonderful.” She pressed her body against his and continued to swing her hips. “Kanny has been teaching me new dance steps and I think I’ve perfected them now. Let me show you.”
“Another time, querida.” His body couldn’t help its reaction to her slow grind against him and Dominic had to force himself not to cuss out at the smell of drink in her breath. “Come, we will dance another time.” He slipped his arm around her and pulled her forward. “We have to go home now.”
“We will dance at home, yes?” And she giggled like she’d said something terribly funny. Then waved delightedly at the crowd as they clapped for her. “Oh look, they enjoyed our dancing—Kanny’s and mine.”
Dominic was doing his best to not think of the fact that another man had been dancing with his wife and so he did not respond.
“I see your wife is drunk. How utterly embarrassing!” Camilla smirked, as they came through the crowd.
“I am not drunk, you silly woman. I was only dancing but now I’m going home with my husband.” Kaine answered her, her words coming out with a slight slur.
Camilla clucked her tongue. “Poor Nick!” She gave him a pitying look.
But Dominic ignored her as he guided Kaine to the exit door.
The drive home was a noisy one as she kept chattering and giggling, recounting the events that led up to the dance. Which in summary was that after eating her food and enjoying a few more glasses of wine—not too much, just a few—the music had somehow become louder and she had started swaying to it until she couldn’t help but invite Kanayo—who was now Kanny to her too—to take her to the dance floor.
Dominic couldn’t respond to any of this as he was struggling with the mix of anger and incomprehensible jealousy. She had been dancing with another man, swinging her hips to the delight of a horde of gawking men and making a spectacle of herself. And all because he had neglected his duty and abandoned her for another man to take over!
He pulled up the car in front of the house, jerked open the car door and swept out of it. She had already gotten down from her own side and cheerfully clung to him when he reached her side. “I think you should carry me inside, Nick. My head is dancing about like it’s still hearing the music.” And she let out another giggle.
Dominic swore underneath his breath before scooping her up into his arms and made for the door. He ignored Catia’s delighted exclamation and his mother’s mischievous twinkle as he pounded up the stairs.
Inside their room, he dumped her unceremoniously on the bed but couldn’t step back as he’d meant to because her hands grabbed hold of the lapels of his jacket and pulled him down on her.
“Kiss me, Nick.” She ordered. “I’ve been wanting you to kiss me all evening.” And without waiting for him to yield to her request, she crushed her mouth against his and kissed him with unrestrained hunger.
Dominic groaned and allowed himself to sink into the kiss. He hadn’t been thinking of kissing or touching her since she was completely inebriated. But since she had initiated it, he couldn’t resist. He entwined his tongue with hers and let out another groan as the hard fist of desire slammed into him and hardened his entire body. He slid his hand down her leg and yanking up her dress, slipped it underneath, trailing and caressing until his fingers found her already wet centre.
“Oh Jesus!” She cried out and arched into him as his finger nudged aside her panties and caressed her vaginal walls.
Dominic wanted to slid his finger inside her but something stopped him. She was drunk. He wanted—hungered to make love to her but not when she wasn’t entirely herself. He wanted their first time together to be something she would never forget. An experience both of them would cherish forever.
Surprised at himself, he kissed her one more time and heaved backward. “We will have to do this another time, querida.” He murmured, torn between cussing or applauding himself for his chivalry. Darn it! He was going to so regret this when his hardened shaft won’t allow him get any sleep.
“Why can’t we do it now, Nick?” Her heavy-lidded eyes looked confused as they stared at him. “Don’t you want me?”
“Don’t tempt me, querida.” Dominic rasped out, rising to his feet and deciding he wasn’t going to attempt undressing her with the way he was feeling. “Go to sleep and tomorrow you will explain to me why you were dancing so unreservedly with Kanayo.”
“I only danced with him because you were with Camilla.” Her sulky mouth pouted. “Is that why you don’t want me again?”
Dominic cussed and forced himself to look away from the wounded-puppy look. “You will thank me tomorrow when your head finally clears up. And there is nothing between me and Camilla. Now go to sleep before I change my mind.”
And to make sure he didn’t, he dragged the coverlet over her and turned to walk into the bathroom.