“The boss’ wife sure looks beautiful.” Kanayo said as he twirled his glass of wine.
The words added insult to the wrath she’d been feeling since Dominic so carelessly treated her, but Camilla curbed her temper as she curled her lips in dismissive disdain. “If you like the straight-line no-curve type.”
Kanayo let out a chuckle. “She doesn’t have your curves, true. But she was certainly no straight-line type. And she was definitely no push-over.”
Camilla didn’t respond immediately. Her eyes only narrowed as she thought of that woman. She’d been myopic in dismissing her after seeing her that very first time. It had been a judgment she’d realised was hasty when they’d met yesterday at the bar and she’d shown herself to be no soft-touch. She hadn’t considered her threat enough to be considered a rival, but after the way she’d confidently held herself and even dared treat her condescendingly, Camilla had come to realise that she was a rival to be wary of. Especially as Dominic was obviously fawning over her.
She needed to make hay, or else she would lose entirely.
“Yes, dear little Kaine is no push-over.” She murmured now, lifting up to walk barefoot across the plush-padded carpet to where her mini bar was. She lifted the bottle of wine and topped her glass, and with both in hand, returned to the leather single-seater. “She might look insignificant at first glance, but when you really look, you find that she’s wiser than her innocent looks depict. I have no doubt now that she set up my Dominic. She’s a gold digger, Kanny.”
“Is she?” Kanayo’s doubtful question came with a frown that wrinkled his broad forehead. “She did not look like one to me. But then again, Shakespeare did point out that the construction of the mind cannot be seen on the face.”
“I am not interested in what Shakespeare or any ancient literature writer has to say.” Camilla flicked a careless hand. “I am only concerned with how I’m going to win my man back.”
“He’s not your man anymore, beautiful Camie. He is Kaine’s man now.”
Camilla glared at his smiling expression. “He won’t be for long, that I can assure you. Dominic Kojo-Edwards is mine and I’m not allowing some gold-digging baby-mama to snatch him away from me.”
“But the snatching has already been done, minha bela.” Kanayo looked amused as he pointed this out. “You have lost him and what is left is to accept defeat.”
“Never!” Camilla sprang to her feet. “Don’t you dare talk such nonsense to me, Kanny, or I will throw you out of my house.”
Kanayo only chuckled at the threat, sipping his wine with unworried tranquillity.
Camilla hissed and turned away. Of course, she wouldn’t throw him out of her house. That was only her bad temper talking and he knew it. He was like her best friend—well, the closest thing to a best friend since she didn’t really believe in such emotional-all-for-one-one-for-all craps. She liked him, was even vaguely attracted to him, and for these two reasons, plus the fact that he always treated her with the utmost respect and even pampered her, she kept him close and allowed them to share confidences.
So, once again, she swallowed her temper and lowered back into her seat. “Kanny, you know that I love Nick—” She broke off when he let out a loud laugh and hissed at him. “You know, I’m beginning to think that you might not value our friendship after all. You want to tell me what is funny?”
“You are funny, sweet Camie.” Kanayo sent her a wink. “Come on, bela, you and I know you do not love Dominic Kojo-Edwards. You only love his wealth and his position.”
“I also love his good looks and the fact that he is a great lover.” Camilla retorted with a sulky pout. “What of it, Kanny? A man like him was meant for me. I worked here nearly a year before I could catch his attention long enough to make him my lover. And just when I am slowly coaxing him into believing we could have a future together, that ugly gold-digger comes out of nowhere and snatches him from me!”
“She’s anything but ugly. And no woman can snatch a man who doesn’t want to be snatched.”
“Oh shut it with the philosophical nonsense, Kanny! You should be on my side and not forever defending that no-ass-barely-visible-boobs nobody.”
“Calm down, my sweet. You will give yourself wrinkles losing your temper so often.” Kanayo walked over and dropped on the arm of her seat, draped a hand around her shoulder and rubbed soothingly. “I am not defending her—I hardly know her. But I don’t think you should waste so much energy on something that is already lost—”
“Dominic is not lost to me, Kanny. He only married that woman because she had a baby for his brother and I know I can still win him back.”
“Did you see how he was with her yesterday? Come on, Camie, it’s obvious the boss is at the very least attracted to his wife.” Kanayo made a small derisive noise. “He has always been a lover of women and won’t pass up the chance to be with this woman especially as she is his wife. And whether you care to admit it or not, she is beautiful and any man would find her attractive.”
“And would you be one of those men who would find her attractive, Kanny?” Camilla angled her body, so she could look at his dark good looking face. “Did you find her attractive yesterday when you met her?”
Kanayo made that derisive noise again and heaved off the arm of the chair. “She is the boss’ wife, Camie. It is not my place to find her attractive or not.”
“You did, didn’t you?” The idea delighted Camilla. “You liked your countrywoman who comes from a state not far apart at all from your own.” She swept up to her feet and circled an arm around Kanayo. “Confess to your sweet Camie, Kanny. You want our dear little gold-digger, don’t you? You have, after all, been praising her beauty.”
“I have only stated the obvious, nothing more.” Kanayo moved so they faced each other. “It is you, minha bela, that I find attractive. You, whom I cannot help but want.” He lowered his head and kissed her.
It was a light kiss. Not even passionate and Camilla only smiled against his strong full lips. “You lie to me, Kanny. You might find me attractive but you also find attractive the wife of your boss.” She moved a step back, but left her hand about his waist. “You can have her, you know. You should pursue her, seduce her, make her yours.”
“I cannot trespass the boss’ woman, Camie.” Kanayo said mildly.
“I am the boss’ woman, Kanny. She’s just a convenient arrangement.” She tilted up to the tip of her toes and kissed him, just as lightly as he had done her. “Befriend her. Get to know her. She’s quite young and can be easily seducible. Besides, I’m sure she will prefer a man from her own country.”
“You only want her out of your way.”
“I do.” Camilla grinned. “And I will get her out of my way. But there’s no reason why I can’t share you with her. I can be generous when it comes to you.”
“Only because you and I are nothing more than friends, Camie. And besides, I don’t belong to you, so sharing doesn’t come into play here.” Kanayo gave her another light kiss and disengaged from her arm. “I’m not interested in seducing the boss’ wife, Camie. You want to meddle in their marriage, do it alone.”
“I will do it… but not alone.” Camilla sent him a twinkling smile. “You, my fine man, will help me. You will help me because that little attraction you feel for her will push you to. It is the ways of men. Cheers, o meu amigo.” She raised her glass to him and even as he only scowled and shook his head, she grinned as she took a long sip.
Kaine stared at the gorgeous plants as they fluttered and billowed under the cool midday breeze. It felt so peaceful inside the garden. Tobi was asleep in his cot after his midday meal, Mia had gone for a club meeting on the Island, she’d invited her along but she wasn’t the ladies-club type. Besides, they’d probably be communicating in Portuguese and she’d feel left out, so she’d politely declined. Dominic had gotten a call from the winery and had gone out to see to the problem.
She was alone and Kaine was enjoying that singular fact.
Yesterday had been wonderful. She hadn’t anticipated that she would so enjoy spending time with Dominic. He had been so easy going and fun. He had been flirtatious too. Asking her if she wanted him to kiss her and demanding, after they got back home, that she kissed him. And thereafter, kissing her to the point that she nearly forgot herself.
She’d nearly confessed that she hadn’t kissed anyone on her own accord before. It was a mistake she’d nearly made but had caught herself on time. Such a pity she hadn’t been able to stop herself from making same mistake when she’d blurted out that she’d never been in a bar before.
Kaine frowned as she recalled her thought-less words. She’d sensed his hesitation even after she’d tried to act all nonchalant and dismissive about her statement. She needed to be careful. It was important that she watched her words.
But for how long will she continue to watch what she said and to continue to lie? she pondered, her frown deepening.
Juliet had told her that there wasn’t any news of Anwuli. That she hadn’t turned up at their house. She too had not heard anything from her and though she’d sent her a private message via her Facebook account, there hadn’t been any reply.
Was she all right? Had she found out that Tobi had died in a helicopter crash and had done something stupid to herself?
Kaine shuddered involuntarily and quickly pushed away the thought. No, she shouldn’t think such crazy, evil things. Anwuli would never harm herself. And in any case, she would want to come back for her son. She loved her son and would want to return to him one day.
But when will that day come?
And what will Dominic do to her when that day comes and the truth comes out?
Losing the peace and quiet she’d been enjoying, Kaine got up from the bench and started to stroll around, breathing in and out as she tried to calm herself and push away the heavy feeling of disquiet.
She was almost succeeding when she heard the humming of a car coming towards the house and thinking it was Dominic, she drew in another calming breath and hastened for the small side gate. But as she stepped through it and cornered to the front of the house, the smile she’d plastered on her face vanished at the sight of Senhorita Camilla locking her car and turning in the direction of the house.
She saw her and stopped. “Oh hello, Kaine.”
Kaine could not help her frown—or her rudeness. “What are doing here?” She demanded, not responding to the greeting.
Camilla strolled forward. “It is rude to ignore a greeting, Kaine. Didn’t anyone teach you that?”
Kaine eyed her. She was dressed in a red, three-strap dress that clung to her body like a second skin and a pair of heeled sandals that nicely lifted her legs. She wondered if she’d dressed thus purposely to seduce Dominic. Such a pity for her, he wasn’t here to appreciate her effort.
“Dominic is not home. And neither is mama.” She told her, crossing her arms over her chest.
“I know. I saw Mia in town—and no, she didn’t see me.” Camilla chuckled as if amused. “As for Nick, a little birdie told me he arrived the winery some thirty minutes ago but instead of driving over to be with him, as I would have done in the past, I decided to come over and see you instead.”
“Mama warned you not to come here again without prior invitation, did you forget?”
Though what she’d just said about being with Dominic hurt Kaine, she refused to show it. There would be time enough to be jealous and angry in private. And to question herself why she felt jealous at all.
“No, I didn’t. But mama is not here to throw me out, is she?” There was a sneering look on her flawlessly made-up face. “You are a gold-digger, aren’t you, Kaine?”
Kaine frowned. “A gold-digger?”
But before Camilla could respond, the front door was pulled open and Catia stepped out. “Madame, any problem?” She asked, not bothering to offer greetings to Camilla.
“The only problem would be that you’re rudely interrupting your superiors, you manner-less girl!” Camilla spat out, throwing a ferocious glare at the housekeeper.
“You want me to call Jamar, Madame?” Catia ignored the venomous reproof and continued to watch her with worried eyes.
Kaine shook her head. “No, Catia. You don’t have to call Jamar. I am quite all right. And besides, Senhorita Camilla will be leaving soon.” She added with a smile. “Go on, I’ll be inside soon. Go help me check on Tobi and make sure he’s still asleep.”
Catia inclined her head after a momentary hesitation. “I will go check on Tobi. But any problem, you call out in loud voice, okay, Madame?”
“I hear you, Catia. Now go on.”
The young housekeeper nodded again and reluctantly withdrew into the house.
“Well, well, well, I see you have quickly become the little mistress of the Kojo-Edwards’ family home.” Camilla smirked. “Your plan is working, isn’t it, little gold-digger?”
Kaine had had enough of her. She knew now, without the merest doubt, that the woman must have been Dominic’s girlfriend—maybe she still even was. But she didn’t care. She wasn’t a gold-digger and she didn’t care for the demeaning manner Camilla has been treating her since she first came to the house.
“Look here, Camilla, I don’t know who you think you are—”
“I am Dominic’s woman.” Camilla broke in with a sneering smile. “I am his lover. The woman he loves and wanted to marry before he was forced to marry a cheap gold-digger like you just so he could bring his nephew home.”
Kaine felt a wave of shock as she realised that Dominic hadn’t just told her he’d gotten married. He’d also told her the true reason for his doing so. And despite the fact that her feelings for Dominic remained unclear to her, Kaine felt the slash of pain and had to quickly blink to stop the instant tears.
“You were his lover. Now I am his wife.” Used now to fighting for herself since Anwuli left her baby with her and Dominic Kojo-Edwards swept into her life, Kaine faced the blazing woman with equal ferocity. “I am his wife now. What you two had before is over. And not that I care what you think, but I want you to know that I didn’t marry Nick for his money. I too married him to keep my son with me.”
“Liar!” Camilla spat out.
“You are the liar!” Kaine flung back. “You are the liar and the gold-digger. You are not hurt because he left you and married another woman. No, you are instead angry… furious because you don’t love him but you only want his money. You only want him for his money and so, you think that is why I am with him too.”
“I know that is why you married him, you ugly, cheap gold-digger!” Camilla’s eyes flashed with fury. “You think Nick would have married a simpleton like you if he had any other choice?”
Kaine let out a mocking laugh at the last bit. “Nick himself told me we both had choices, but chose to make the one to get married. And so, yes, he had a choice and he chose to marry me. And you know what else he told me? That there can never be any divorce in his family.” Kaine drew closer and smirked at the face that glared at her. “So, Senhorita Camilla, you have lost him forever. And forever, he remains mine.”
“You bitch!” Camilla cussed. “I knew you were a gold-digger. How tacky! Having a baby for one brother and marrying another. You are shameless!”
“You are the shameless one, running after another woman’s husband. Have you no pride at all?” Kaine jerked up her hand. “Now, get out of my house!” At her quick gasp, she curved her mouth in a smug smile. “Yes, it is now my house and he is now, my husband. So, get out and leave him alone!”
Camilla let out stream of cusses in Portuguese before she ended with a scornful laugh. “Take a good look at me, Kaine. I have the body every man dreams of possessing. Nick dies for this body. He can never resist it. He may have married you but it is me he wants. It is my body he burns for. I will have him back in my arms and I will keep him there. As for divorce… a man weakened by lust never remembers moral lessons. You will be the one getting out of this house soon, Kaine. Sooner than you think.”
She swept around, marched to her car, got inside and zoomed off.
Kaine quickly pressed her hand against her thudding heart. She was trembling, and she felt like collapsing on her knees and crying. But she didn’t. She wouldn’t. She turned and walked on somewhat unsteady legs into the house.
She needed to talk to Juliet. She needed to confide in someone because she feared she had bitten off more than she can chew. She might not be a gold-digger, but she was a liar and Dominic would only willingly go back to Camilla if he found out the truth.
Dear God, what has she done?
*** ~~~ ***
Minha bela: My beautiful one.
O meu amigo: My friend.