“I don’t know when it happened. I didn’t even think it would happen.” Still awed by the love which trembled in her heart, Callista looked across the quaint decorated living room at Jebolisa. “How can I like him as a friend one minute and love him as…as I’ve never before loved anyone the next?”
“That is the way the heart works.” Smiling, Jebolisa set down the malt drink, uncorked it before taking her place on the brown leather sofa. “You might not have known it would have happen, but I suspected it. How could you not fall for him when Mario’s such a wonderful man?”
“He is. In every way.” Callista sighed at the thought of remembered passion. “The man has the most magical hands, and mouth. And tongue.”
At another lusty sigh, Jebolisa chuckled. “I was talking more of his character. But I see he’s dazzled you with other fine qualities he must possess.”
“I didn’t know sex could be so enjoyable. Such a slow, sweet pleasure. And then heated, fast, and equally as pleasurable.” Becoming aware of her words, Callista flushed. “Hear me talking this way. I’ve become wanton. But you know, Jebo. I feel not the least ashamed.”
“And why should you be? Sex is meant to be enjoyed. Besides, you love him.”
“I love him.” It made her happy. Yet, it scared her. “What if he doesn’t fall in love with me though? What if all he would ever feel for me is desire? Would that be enough?”
“It is for you to decide what is enough or not,” Jebolisa said gently. “But I think you shouldn’t worry about things you have no need to now. Enjoy each moment with him as it comes.”
“That’s a good advice, Jebo. But,” she reached for the bottle of drink, took a long swallow. “I want him to love me. I want his love just as desperately as I want his kisses, and all the other delicious parts of him.” Her eyes softened with a smile. “I want to marry him.”
“Then do so. You know that particular ball is your court.”
“It is, isn’t it?” If she said yes, he would fulfill his promise. “But that’s not how I want it. I want him to marry me because he loves me, and can’t bear to live without me.”
“Now you’re being overly sentimental. Or maybe too romantic.”
“What is wrong with being either one?” Callista wanted to know. “Is it wrong to wish him to fall in love with me? Or to desire a marriage built on love?”
“No, it’s not wrong. But if he wants the same thing you do, and he cares deeply for you, what does the word love matter?”
“It is not the word I seek, Jebo. It’s the feeling. I want love to be a part of what he feels for me. A greater part.”
“Men and women express love differently.” David came in, bearing his sleeping daughter in his arms. “Sorry. I couldn’t help but hear you.”
“It’s all right.” Callista accepted his apology with a smile. “I don’t mind hearing your opinion.”
“Thanks.” David sat, adjusted the little girl into a comfortable position. “My opinion is if he cares enough to publicly declare his intentions where you’re concerned, then you have nothing to worry about. Men are simpler creatures. One set of emotions can be enough for us. If he desires and wants you, it’s likely that’s enough for him. Enough for him to want to commit to you.”
“You’re asking me to be content with the desire he feels for me?”
“I am saying his feelings are no less as serious, or as deep, as yours because he hasn’t tagged the word love to it. He cares for you, that is for him as important as you loving him.”
“He doesn’t know yet that I love him. I haven’t told him.”
“And it is your choice whether to tell him or not,” David said. “Whatever you do though, know that you’re both important to each other. I can fight to defend a woman when she’s being insulted. But I won’t stake my freedom for any woman who’s not important to me. He cares, that should be enough.”
But it wasn’t. Even as she nodded and smiled, Callista knew it wasn’t, and worried that it might never be.
“Mario.” While her head nestled on his chest, her fingers played with the tangle of hair scattered across slightly loose muscles.
“Mmm.” He caught her hand, lifted it and kissed her palm. “You continue with this, and you’ll set me off again.”
“You should know that’s not a threat.” In spite of having been well-attended to, her swollen core throbbed with excitement. “I can take you anytime you’re ready.”
“Is that right?” With a tug, he hefted her up to lie prone across his body, his hands slipping down to cup her backside. “Anytime like now?”
“Now. The next hour. Tomorrow. Anytime.” She wiggled her body, felt the quick tightening of the flaccid lump against her thigh, and let out a soft sigh. “It’s amazing what I can do to you.”
“That it is.” He clamped his mouth on hers, kissed her hard. “It’s more amazing how I’m unable to have enough of you.”
His kiss this time was deliberate, and seductive. He started with soft caresses, brushing his lips over hers and adding delicate nibbles to the gentle assault. Then he sucked her lip between his, grazing his teeth over it as he let out a low, ragged sound.
“Touch me. I need to be inside you. Make me hard again.”
The desperate plea matched the need already clamoring for fulfilment inside her. Heaving up, she positioned herself on his thighs and caught his swollen length between her palms.
It didn’t take long for it to take up the utterly inflexible rigid form that never ceased to delight her.
“Lift up and take me inside of you,” Mario instructed, a touch impatiently because all he wanted was to feel her enshroud him.
Callista’s eyes widened. “You want me on top?”
“Yes. I want you to be the one in charge this time.” Since it was clear she was both shocked and shy, he raised her slightly by the hips, drew her forward and lowered her back on him.
The turgid shaft missed sliding into her. But having it behind her still did wicked things to her.
Trembling, with an equal measure of unrestrained lust and nervousness, Callista shifted back to his thighs. “I’m not sure I know how to do this. I’ve never before been in charge. I…um, will be clumsy. Ruin things.”
“No, you won’t. I’ll guide you. Like this.” He lifted her again, tugged forward her body. “Hold me. My manhood, I mean. Guide it into you, and relax on top it.” Mario let out a low gratifying sound when she rightly followed his instructions. “Gosh, but you’re utter sweetness. Now, angle your body in the way you’re most comfortable, and begin to move.”
She was going to protest again, to slip off him, but the look in his eyes, absolute confidence that she could do it and undiluted lust, cast off all her self-consciousness.
Wiggling her hips, Callista frowned in concentration as she tried to sit herself right. His strangled moan distracted her.
“Am I hurting you?” she asked in sudden alarm.
“No. But I’m likely to die soon unless you do something with me.”
“Oh, it’s torturous pleasure then.” She grinned wickedly, wiggled again and then leaned towards him to kiss him.
The length of him seemed to shift and glided deeper into her. “Oh, but that feels better,” she said in wonder. “Much better.”
Positioning herself in that way, with her knees slightly touching the bed, she tested another wiggle. “What do I do now?”
Barely suppressing a groan, Mario said, “Use my body to further find your balance, and then begin your thrusts.”
The fact that his voice had a broken edge encouraged her more. No, it empowered her. She felt the surge of pride and control, like she was indeed in charge of their lovemaking–of him.
“Like this?” She placed her hands on his hips, holding firm. “And I begin to thrust up, and then, down?” She raised her hips ever so slightly, and then sank back down on him.
“Oh God, yes! Just like that. Don’t stop.”
“You don’t want me to stop?” Oh, how deliciously wonderful. “Good thing, as I don’t want to stop. Not ever.”
I never want to stop because I love you, she finished to herself, looking into his passion glazed eyes. And when he lifted up to catch her lips in a fierce kiss, she began to move.
She started slow and steady until she found her rhythm. Then she increased the pace…or maybe it was him who increased the pace for her. She couldn’t quite tell. But as her slow grinds became fervent bounces, he was moving with her, obviously intent on giving her as much pleasure as he received.
“Callista.” he said her full name before he reared up again to take her mouth, and then turned her over to empty himself into the protective barrier between them.
Only their ragged breaths echoed in the bedroom for long moments afterwards. Then he slid off the bed, walked out and then came back in with a small towel.
He started to clean her up. “It’s never been like this with anyone, you know.”
With an effort, she pried her eyes open. Being so completely sated made her drowsy. “No one’s ever been on top of you? I find that hard to believe.”
He chuckled. “It’s not what I meant. I meant I’ve never felt this way with another woman.”
Callista’s heartbeats bumped. “How are you feeling?”
He raised his head, held her eyes. “Like I can’t ever again do without you. Like I would somehow be incomplete if you’re not with me. Like I would die of thirst if I don’t have you.”
Love. What was the word for what he was describing? Or, was it only a deep-seated desire?
“I…” Realising she’d wanted to confess her feelings, Callista stopped. “I have similar feelings,” she said instead.
“Who knew it would one day be like this between us?” he murmured, as if in wonder.
“I certainly didn’t.” She swallowed, hesitated, and then said because she had to ask. “Mario.”
“Mmm.” Suddenly he grinned. “I recall now that we pounced on each other because you called my name. Wanting me again so soon, my sweet Cally?”
His sweet Cally. Dear God, she wanted to be his sweet everything.
“No. I am sated yet.” She bit her lip, then took a deep breath. “I want to ask, will you marry a woman who didn’t love you?”
He stiffened. It wasn’t a question he was expecting, but it was the implication, the one he read from it that sent the jolt into him.
“Why do you ask this question?” he countered, trying to ease away the alarm he couldn’t yet explain.
There was a slight frown on his face, and Callista wondered if it was there because he was a little irritated.
“I’m just curious to know if you would prefer a woman who loves you, or would one who desires you suffice?”
“I want what you can give,” Mario said. Then all at once his heart, or possibly it was his mind which questioned him.
He shook his head, to get rid of the confusion. “Let’s not over-worry ourselves with what’s coming in the future, Cally. Whatever will come, will come naturally, and in their own time.”
“What if whatever comes is less than what either of us wants?”
“Let the future take care of itself. Enjoy the present.” He tossed the towel into a chair, climbed into bed to take her in his arms. “Now, at this moment we have and share, I want you, and that is enough for me.” He bent his head and kissed her.
But it wasn’t enough for her, Callista thought, and wondered what he would say if she told him.
Instead, it was her mother she told.
“Nothing but love would suffice. I don’t think I will be happy unless I married a man who loves me as much as I love him.”
It was one of those rare moments she sought her counsel, and Callista only did now because she wanted someone who would convince her thoughts were wrong.
Staring at her daughter, Ijeoma Okoli pursed her lips. “I thought you two said it wasn’t like that between you?”
Callista flushed with embarrassment. Then she shrugged. “It is now.”
“Well, that surely explains the secret light I’ve been seeing in your eyes lately.” Ijeoma Okoli muttered. Then she sighed. “I guess you know what you’re doing. You’re, after all, old enough to make these choices.”
“And Mario isn’t the first I’m making such choices with,” Callista said primly.
“I do not require you to tell me what I know,” her mother retorted with a reproving glare. “Anyway, I still know Mario to be a good man, and he will treat you with respect and honour. At the end, he will do right by you.”
“Mama, I don’t want him marrying me out of respect because we sleep together. That is what I’m saying.”
Choosing to ignore the fact that hearing her daughter talk lightly of sex troubled her, Ijeoma Okoli asked, “Are you not going way ahead of yourself here? You told me you were yet to decide if you’re accepting his public proposal, have you made up your mind then?”
“It wasn’t really a proposal,” Callista murmured with a shrug. “But I find now that I want to marry him. I don’t want to ever be without him.” Like he didn’t want to be without her. “He said a similar thing, and it made me wonder if he was speaking of love.”
“What similar thing did he say?”
“That he can’t do without me. That he feels incomplete without me.” That he would die of thirst if he didn’t have her. But Callista wisely kept that last bit to herself.
“If he said all that, then what more do you want?” Her mother asked, exasperated.
“Love. I want him to love not only my body, but all of me. I want his heart to yearn for me just as much as his body does.”
Love. Ijeoma Okoli was not a firm believer of its importance in a relationship. It hadn’t mattered to her when she was younger and seeking a life partner.
“I didn’t think of love when I married your father. It was enough for me that he wanted me for his wife, and I wanted him too.” A soft smile came around her mother’s mouth. “But I learned to love him. At least I think I did, for I stayed with him despite all the odds.”
“I don’t think I love Mario, Mama. I know it. And I know I want his love.” She did not just want it–she needed it. “I am not you, or anyone else. I am not even my old self who would have been content with whatever she was given. A marriage without love wouldn’t make me happy.”
“A marriage with love doesn’t guarantee your happiness either,” Ijeoma Okoli said. “But you’re right. You are not me, or anyone else. You are you, and can only be you. So I say, be patient.”
Here they went again with this counsel for patience, Callista thought sourly, realising nothing, or no one, could convince of what her heart was already set on.
“It’s early days yet in your relationship,” her mother went on. “Time is likely to give you exactly what you seek.”
“But how much time? That is what worries me. What if I wait all my life and he never falls in love with me?”
“Well, you can’t wait all your life, can you?” Ijeoma Okoli retorted, herself impatient now. “You’re a woman and we are a time-bound species. You wait a while, and if you don’t find what you’re after, you seek it elsewhere.”
“But I don’t want to seek it elsewhere. It is Mario I love. Him I will always love. I am certain of it.”
“Then you will have to accept what he offers and be content.”
The glint of impatience in her mother’s eyes told Callista she was thoroughly exasperated now. She didn’t blame her. She exasperated herself with her worries. Why couldn’t she take it one day at a time, and hope for the best outcome?
Why couldn’t she be content in the fact that Mario desired her?
Because she desperately wanted his love, Callista answered her own question.
“Nothing but his love will content me,” she murmured. At her mother’s loud sigh, she added with a smile, “I know I’m being foolish. But I’ve suddenly decided I deserve only the very best of things. And love is the best.”
Mario’s love, no other’s.