Kaine stretched again on the bed and tried to force her mind to shut down so her eyes and the rest of her body could get the nap she’d come up for. But it was so pumped with life—well, thoughts—that it refused to relax and slither into rest-mode.
It didn’t surprise her, the mild restlessness. It had been that way since that woman… well, to simply refer to her as ‘that woman’ seemed quite improper—not as a term but as a form of description, since she’d been anything but ‘that’.
When she’d turned and seen her, her first thought had been that a supermodel had come visiting the Kojo-Edwards. She had been so beautiful with a milky brown complexion that gave her the look of one with mixed parentage—much like Dominic. Her hair had been rich, reddish-brown that had been arranged in a knot-style on top of her head and her eyes had been a lovely mix of brown and light green colour.
But she hadn’t been… wasn’t a supermodel despite her beauty and her lovely curves. She was the head of Corporate Communications at La Quinta—the hotel where Dominic worked. The hotel where Dominic had said he was going to that morning.
Was that where he’d told her about her?
Kaine frowned because the thought so unsettled her and she wasn’t even quite certain why. Mia had dismissed her when she’d commented on her beauty after the woman had left and only murmured that true beauty came from inside. But Kaine hadn’t thought so. Well, yes, human goodness and splendour came from what is in the heart, the mind and the soul, but that didn’t quite dispute the fact that physical loveliness most often caught the eye quicker than what was inside.
But she wasn’t looking to catch Dominic’s eye, was she?
Because the thought disconcerted more than the worry of who really Senhorita Camilla was, Kaine adjusted more into her side and firmly shut her eyes as she reached out to circle her arm around a napping Baby Tobi.
Dominic came into the living room and found his mother on her favourite reclining low-arm sofa. It was once his father’s favourite relaxation seat but now it was hers. Dominic supposed it was love for his father—for the man she’d spent twenty-four years with that took her back again and again to that seat. It made him wonder what it will be like to love one woman for that many years and be true to her.
His brows knitted at the thought and he found himself mildly unsettled.
“Mama.” He called out quietly, wanting to get rid of the sudden uneasy feeling.
Mia let out a murmur as her eyes flustered open. She steadied them on him and a smile curved her unpainted mouth. “O meu Nico, you’re back. We were expecting you much later.”
Dominic leaned down and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I’d planned on coming back late with so much work at the hotel but I guess I changed my mind. How was your day?”
“Wonderful as I had your beautiful wife for company.”
Dominic knew she purposely used that possessive term and only smiled. “I’m glad you two had fun. And where is she? She and Tobi?”
“Upstairs. Napping.” Mia reached for the recliner remote and pressed the seat back up. “Camilla was here.”
“She was?” Dominic was surprised. “Why was she here?”
“You tell me.” His mother said with arched brows.
Dominic frowned. “I am guessing she came to have a look at Kaine but I didn’t ask her to do that, Mama, you should know that.”
“I know you didn’t and I am not blaming you for her discourteous appearance here today.” Mia said. “But I will hold you responsible if she returns, Nick. You are now married, Dominic, and you owe your wife respect, affection and fidelity.”
“I only married Kaine so we can bring little Tobi home, Mama, you above all know that.” Dominic didn’t care for the reproach in her eyes.
“Nonetheless, she is your wife now and must be accorded the respect and dignity of that station.” Mia let out a sigh after a momentary pause. “I have no wish to interfere in your relationship or in your marriage, Nick. You are a man and you can handle your affairs. But this is my home and now, your wife’s home too; I would not tolerate any disrespectful presence here.”
“Was Camilla rude to her?”
Mia made a hissing sound. “She was here for the sole purpose to see and make trouble with the woman you’ve made your wife and you ask if she was rude? You men!” She flicked an impatient hand. “You just be thankful Catia was sharp enough to quickly get me. But whether she was or not, that don’t matter. I never liked her and you know it and now, I am asking that you keep her away from here… and if I dare add, away from your life.”
“I cannot keep her away from my life, mama. Camilla works at the hotel. You might not like her personally, but you have to admit that she is good at her job. In the one year plus she’s worked with us, La Quinta has made so much progress and welcomed more guests than ever before.”
“Then keep her at La Quinta and away from La villa Kojo-Edwards.” Mia retorted in a huffy tone that got a smile out of Dominic.
“You won’t have to deal with her here again, mama.” He made the promise because he too didn’t want Camilla at the house anymore. She shouldn’t have come here at all today and he would deal with her later for that. “You know, I find it odd that you so easily like and approve of Kaine when you’ve never approved any of the women we—Tobi and I—brought home in the past.”
“Because I’m a woman who knows a good woman when she sees one… and this is the first I’m seeing one.” The laughter in her eyes sobered up as she said next. “But don’t tell me you can’t see for yourself the clear difference between Camilla and Kaine.”
Dominic lifted a careless shoulder. “They are both beautiful women, mama, what difference can you mean?”
“Don’t be so offhand!” Mia reproved. “You are telling me you actually believe if we have offered money to your Camilla as we did Kaine that you think she would have rejected it and insisted on keeping her baby?”
Because he had discovered that truth himself, Dominic frowned. “Have you considered also the fact that maybe Kaine refused the compensation we offered because she knew she’d be getting more as my wife than as a paid-off baby-mama?”
“I have thought about that and I have realised that that isn’t the case. And you will only be thinking with your suspicious head if you tell me you still can’t see what good lies in that young girl.” Mia added with a cluck of her tongue.
“It is not a matter of thinking with a suspicious head or not, mama. I don’t know Kaine very well… and you don’t either. We both only just met her. And if truth be told, I don’t think Tobi even knew her very well.”
“You think to know a person is a matter of length of time? Bah!” Mia made the dismissive sound with a flick of her hand. “I know what is important to know about Kaine and that is because I think, not just with my head, but with my heart and spirit. And you would too if you think like I do.”
“I trust my head more than I do my heart, mama.” Dominic lowered again to give her another kiss. “But one thing is right, she is now my wife and I will treat her as such. I apologise that you both had to put up with Camilla’s unannounced visit today, you can be sure it won’t happen again. Now, I must go inside. Despite closing early, I’m a little fagged out.”
“Then go rest and you all only come down when it is time for dinner.” Mia held his hand. “Nick, I know this marriage didn’t happen like most traditional marriages should, but I also know that you can make this marriage into what you want it to be. Kaine might have been your brother’s girlfriend and had a baby for him, but she is your wife now and so, belongs to you. Try to get to know her. Give her a chance in your heart.”
“I’ll do what I can, mama.” Dominic promised.
But when he came into their bedroom and found her lying straight on her back with the baby on top of her, both of them fast asleep, Dominic wondered what it was he really wanted to do. He’d told Camilla that he planned on being faithful to his wife but how can he be when that wife didn’t want him touching her.
And did he even want her in his heart?
The week had sped by so fast that Dominic wasn’t even sure how it came to be Saturday already; all he knew was that their first week back at Praia was already gone and he hadn’t seen much of his family. After that first day, he hadn’t been able to spare the time to leave work early again. He’d spent most of the week at the winery and usually returned late, sometimes after dinnertime even.
He looked at her now as she chatted on the phone with Juliet. They were both talking on WhatsApp and it was clear she was having fun as her mouth curved into a smile every now and again when a new beep announced Juliet’s response to whatever they were chatting about. He loved the way her unpainted lips moved as she read to herself the words of the messages and the way they tugged inside at the corners when she smiled, or let out a soft, deep-throated chuckle.
He wanted her.
That wasn’t a new thing but the yearning for her was becoming deeper that he’d taken to sleeping on the couch just so to avoid succumbing to the temptation that burned wild inside of him. She’d said they both needed time to get to know each other and his busy schedule wasn’t providing them that time. She hadn’t made any complaints though and Dominic was almost convinced that his constant absence relieved her.
And thinking that, caused him a regular irritation because that simply meant she wasn’t looking forward at all to things changing between them. Well, that was going to change and starting right now, he decided, dumping the magazine he had in hand on the stool beside the armchair and pushing up to his feet.
She turned quickly as he approached the bed. The instant look of nervousness amused and annoyed him, will she never be at ease with him? “Sorry to intrude on your enchanting conversation with your dearest friend, wife of mine, but I have some suggestions on how we might spend this beautiful day together.”
“You want us to spend the day together?”
The puzzled frown on her forehead made him chuckle. “It is usually expected of couples—particularly newly-wed couples—to spend much time in each other’s company. Unfortunately, I haven’t been around to make that possible, and for that I apologise.”
“Oh, you don’t have to apologise.” Kaine offered a small smile as she set down her phone. “I am not complaining. You have been very busy at work and I quite understand.”
And that was what he was afraid of—that she wasn’t complaining where other wives would have whined and grumbled. “Well, I am. I am disturbed by my constant absence and today, I want to make it all up to you. So—”
“You don’t have to.” She interrupted, sending him a reassuring smile. “I haven’t really minded being on my own and—”
“But I mind that you have been on your own, querida, I mind that very much.” He lowered onto the bed and ignored the fact that she quickly shifted her feet. “You and I are supposed to be getting to know one another, not so?”
“Yes. But it’s nothing to rush over. I mean, getting to know a person is something that requires time and—”
“And time is what I have today.” He cut off her babbling, enjoying the fact that she was nervous now. And to magnify that nervousness, he leaned towards her and reached out to caress her cheek. It felt so soft and she smelt so sweetly feminine. “I am looking forward to getting to know my wife… because I have this great need for her. You understand my meaning, querida?”
Her eyes fluttered nervously as they stared into his. “I—”
“I think I should kiss you.” He cut her off again. “I’ve been thinking of your lovely, sweet lips all week. Have you been missing my kisses, querida?”
“Ah… I… Nick…”
“That will be a yes.” He let out a low chuckle. “We shouldn’t so deny each other when rightly we belong to one another, don’t you think?” He traced a finger across the full, naturally-pink lower lip and smiled when it quivered involuntarily underneath his finger. “I love your mouth. It was meant to be kissed and oddly looks like it has never had that pleasure. But I know better, don’t I, querida?”
“I have kissed you before and I shall kiss you again.” He looked into her eyes. They were wide with apprehension and—with unconcealed desire. “You want my kiss, don’t you, minha querida?”
“I love it when you call me in that breathless tone. And now I shall kiss you… and satisfy both our needs.” And he bent forward and his mouth skimmed over hers.
She inhaled sharply at the soft, tentative stroke but didn’t draw back. He did it again, adding a tender nibble to the single caress. “Say you want me to kiss you, querida. Tell me you want me to kiss you.”
There was a moment’s hesitation and then she murmured. “I want you to kiss me, Nick.”
And riding on that invitation, he covered her mouth instantly with his, sucking in the soft, full mound of her lower lip even as she willingly leaned into him.
She returned his kiss, like she’d done their first night here when she’d asked him if he wanted to kiss her. But unlike that time, her response wasn’t slow and drowsy; this time her mouth curved perfectly against his and eagerly met the pressure of his own. She did not stay unmoving as she’d done the first two times he kissed her. No, this time she moved her own lips over his and when their tongues met, she willingly tangled hers with his.
Dominic felt raw need vibrate through him and settle in his groin as her body pressed hard against his with the soft mounds of her breasts rubbing his chest. He wanted to push her back into the bed and just let himself drown inside her. That was his first and natural inclination but he knew, despite his bulging need, that he had to take it easy. If he was to win her over, he must learn to hold back his own passion and yield to that request for time… and so he allowed himself to push back as he ended the kiss.
Her eyes fluttered open and the deep, glazed desire in their dark depth was some comfort to the powerful bulge between his legs. “I think you should change. Though what you have on is beautiful, I think you’ll be more comfortable in something different for this outing.”
“Oh… yes. Of course.” Her eyes quickly dropped from his as she moved backward and slipped off the bed. “Of course, I can’t wear shorts and a top out…”
“I don’t mind if you do.” Dominic broke in, grinning at the return of her nervousness. “In fact, I would love it if you do. But I have a feeling you are not the type to be comfortable so casually dressed.”
“I… no… I mean, yes, you are right. I won’t be comfortable wearing this. So, I’ll change. Just give me a few minutes. And err, are we taking Tobi?” She was already heading towards the closet room.
“No. He’s with mama and will stay with her until our return. I’m sure they’ll have fun together.” He watched her disappear behind the archway. “Would you need my help to maybe draw up a zipper?”
“No, I don’t. I’m fine.”
The quick objection caused his grin to widen. “But someday soon, I shall be drawing open and not close any zipper that may be standing in our way, minha querida.” He murmured to himself, lying back as he waited for her to finish with her dressing.
They started their outing with a tour of the Island and some of its best spots, stopping at a popular and favourite restaurant of his to have lunch before he decided to show her La Quinta.
“Oh my God! It’s such a beautiful hotel. It looks so grand, so magnificent.” Kaine chatted in a dazzled tone beside him as they walked through the hotel lobby. “I mean look at this lobby? It is grandiose and spectacular… even more beautiful than the Sheraton where we stayed in Lagos.”
Dominic grinned. “Now, I think you’re biased because this is our own hotel. Sheraton is world-renown, you know.”
“And La Quinta is still more beautiful than it.” She declared, laughing.
“Prejudiced in our favour… I like it.” He took her hand and joined their palms. “Come, I’ll show you our bar. It is one of the most popular bars on the Island—and I am not just being biased.”
She chuckled. “It’s okay to be biased. One must value one’s own property.”
“Maybe.” He looked at her happy face and wanted to stop at that moment and kiss her. He would have done it too if he didn’t know she’d be mortally embarrassed. “But that’s not my bias speaking, the bar is truly one of the best on the Island. In short, it is the very best there is.”
“Ah now, you’re bragging.”
He chuckled at her teasing. “Maybe I am. But you tell me after you see it.”
“Oh my, you have got to be right!” She exclaimed the instant they swept into the classically decorated and already teeming bar. “I’ve never been in a bar before, but this must be the most spectacular in the entire world.”
Dominic frowned as they made their way across the rich end-grain wood floor, gliding between rows of leather banquette seats and tables. “You’ve never been in a bar before? I thought you met Tobi at a bar in Johannesburg?”
Her hand tightened his hand a moment before she relaxed them again. “Oh, I quite forgot that because bars are not something I frequent. That was my first ever visit to a bar and it wasn’t anything like this at all. This is so beautiful. Gosh, look at the flooring. I’ve never seen anything like that.” She laughed as she chatted on. “I confess, you do have a right to brag. This bar has got to be the best on the Island.”
Though he responded with a smile, Dominic was still mulling over what she’d said and he would have further questioned it if he didn’t notice Camilla behind the oak bar beside the hotel’s bar manager, Kanayo Nduka, at that moment. She was watching them as they approached and he saw at once the open dislike she failed to conceal blaring through her heavily-shadowed hazel eyes.
“Oh, your Head of Corporate Communications is here.” Kaine murmured beside him, her voice losing its carefree, happy note.
“She’s not mine but the hotel’s Head of Corporate Communications, Kaine.” Dominic frowned as he said this and added, not knowing why he did. “And I didn’t know she’ll be here. But she’s quite friendly with the bar manager, so she might be here for him.”
She said nothing as they reached the bar. He pulled out a leather-embossed high-stool for her and helped her into it before sliding into one himself.
“Evening, boss.” Kanayo dipped his head as he greeted. “Evening, ma’am. What can I get you both?” He gestured to the barman not to worry.
“A simple glass of wine, Kanny.” Dominic responded with an affable smile. “Hello, Camilla.”
“Nick.” Camilla moved her head in a quick, regal nod. “Hello, Kaine. You’re looking quite nice in that dress. Is it Berardi?”
“I’m not exactly sure, Senhorita Camilla. But thank you for the compliment.” Kaine replied with a cool smile. “And you look nice too.”
“Thank you, Kaine. But since this is Oscar de la Renta, I think the appropriate word would be spectacular.” There was an edgy spark behind the smile she flashed.
And Dominic knew she was annoyed at Kaine using such a simplistic term as ‘nice’ to define her and her dressing. Camilla preferred grand words when she was being complimented. Only he knew too that Kaine wasn’t exactly seeking to compliment her but to return the condescending praise Camilla had paid her. The animosity between the two ladies was quite apparent and he knew instantly that though Kaine had only nonchalantly mentioned Camilla’s visit, she was apparently not as nonchalant as she had pretended. And he wasn’t quite sure yet how that made him feel.
But since he wouldn’t stand for his wife being disrespected by anyone, he shifted attention from Camilla as he said. “Querida, I’d like you to meet Kanayo Nduka, a fellow countryman of yours. Kanny, this exquisitely beautiful woman, is my dearest wife, Kaine.”
There was a sharp snuffle of air as Camilla silently bristled but he, and everyone else, ignored her.
“A pleasure to meet you, ma’am.” Kanayo dropped his head in a respectful dip as he served Kaine’s drink. “You’re welcome to Praia, and to Cape-Verde. Believe me when I say, you’ll enjoy these Islands.”
“Thank you very much, Kanayo.” Kaine smiled. “And are you from the East or from Delta state?”
“A true son of Anambra state, ma’am.” Kanayo replied with a grin.
“Oh, okay. I am from Delta state though.”
Kanayo smiled. “That’s not far apart at all. Just a stroll across the bridge.”
“Well, seeing as these two seem to be getting along just fine, why don’t we leave them alone to better get acquainted, Nick?” Camilla said in an easy tone. “I do have something I’d like to go over with you in the office.”
Dominic only spared her a glance. “That will have to wait until Monday, Camilla. I am only here to have fun with my wife.” He finished his drink and rose. “Come, querida, I’ll show you the rest of the hotel.”
“Okay.” Kaine emptied her glass too and slid down the high-stool. “Nice to have met you, Kanayo. Goodbye, Camilla.”
“Enjoy your day with your husband, Kaine.” Was Camilla’s malicious-eyed response.
“I surely will.” Kaine responded in a pleasant, yet hard tone. “Let’s go, Nick, I want to see more beautiful places.” She slipped her hand into his and curled her fingers around his.
Dominic knew it was a possessive gesture and found that it pleased him. “And I am here to show them to you, querida.” He murmured, leading her out of the bar.
They spent another two hours plus on the Island before they started heading home. They went up to freshen up and change their clothes so they could join his mother for dinner downstairs.
“I had a wonderful time, Nick. Thank you for this beautiful day.” Kaine said with a shy smile.
“I’m glad you enjoyed your day, Kaine. I did too. You make everything so fresh and beautiful the way you experience them.” He came forward and stopped just right in front of her. She’d changed into a simple print dress, yet despite the simplicity of the dress, she looked gorgeous. “Do I get a reward for giving you a good day?” He murmured, his eyes holding hers.
“What reward do you want?” She asked in a voice that quavered.
The singular, unprotested acquiescence surprised him and pleased by the readiness, he took her hand and drew her close. “I want you to give me my reward, Kaine. You kiss me.”
“Oh. But I…” she broke off and bit her lips. Then smiled shakily and tipped herself upward to her toes, and with their bodies barely touching, kissed him softly on his lips.
She would have stepped back but Dominic grabbed hold of her and pulled her into his arms, sweeping back his lips over hers and drinking in all of her softness and sweetness as their lips bonded into one.
But like in the morning, he reminded himself to take it easy and ended the kiss before he succumbed to the need to take it further. “Thank you for my kiss, querida. Now, let’s go dine with mama, before I am tempted to give you more than a kiss.”
The quick shy look in her eyes enthralled him and once more, Dominic found himself wondering how she managed to not only look innocent but act that way too.