They stayed in Lagos three more days before they started back home. They could have left a day earlier than they did but Dominic was loath to get back home and to get back to the trouble he knew awaited him from Camilla. He’d have stayed back longer if he didn’t have work to get back to. Or if he wasn’t already missing his mother.
He’d purposely been ignoring her calls and messages. For one thing, he wasn’t in the mood to deal with the matter over the phone but mostly he didn’t want to deal with it with Kaine so close by. He couldn’t understand why—maybe it was his upbringing—but he was reluctant to disrespect her in such a way. Or in any other way. Their marriage might have been contracted under rather irregular circumstances but she was still his wife and he owed her some measure of respect and honour. Besides, he felt this odd need to protect and shield her from pain, especially after their talk of her missing her father and her family.
And so he’d delayed their leaving even after her Passport was almost instantly ready and he’d spent the time taking her and little Tobi around Lagos and when he could wrangle it, he’d snagged some alone-time with her. It was funny how he found himself enjoying her company. When she was at ease, she was a fun person to be with—open, cheery and a good conversationalist. But even when she was uptight, which she was more than half the time, it was still fun having to tease or taunt her.
She’d been teary-eyed when they’d arrived the Lagos International Airport earlier that morning. But behind the filmy tears, there had been an obvious expression of awe. It was clear that beneath all her jitteriness, she was excited to be travelling with him to Praia. That excitement had shown on the flight from Lagos to Casablanca. She’d been chatty, nonstop talking and laughing at his responses. A completely different person from the woman he’d travelled with from Benin to Lagos. The entire four-plus hours of the flight, she’d had questions, made comments about this or that or simply just expressed, over and over, her delight with their Business-Class seats.
She remained chatty until they boarded their final flight from Lisbon to Praia and then the conversations started dimming. Now, as their flight neared its end, she was back to holding tightly onto little Tobi and her eyes, no longer on him, was darting nervously around.
Dominic supposed the thought of meeting new people she didn’t know has her worried and maybe, even scared. He looked at her now. Even ill at ease, she looked beautiful. She’d chosen a simple red, knee-length dress with long cuff-sleeves for the trip. It was a right choice for the long trip. Comfortable because of its loose-fitting and cool enough because of the cotton-polyester fabric and the V-neckline. She looked the image of a casual, yet classy traveller.
He reached out to tuck in a strand of hair that had escaped the red-clip she’d used in pulling up her hair. “My mum would definitely be waiting, arms wide open, for us and she’s going to overwhelm you with hugs and kisses. She’s a hugger, mama.”
She looked at him. “I suppose she must have missed you. And she would be looking forward to seeing her grandson.”
“She would be.” Dominic nodded. “But she would be looking forward to seeing you too. She’s very excited that I’m married—whatever the circumstances. She will like you, you don’t have to worry about that. And I’m sure you’ll like her too.”
She said nothing, only nodded and shifted her nervous gaze again.
Dominic sighed and squashed the temptation to lean over and give her a reassuring kiss. That wasn’t in the books anymore and whilst it drove him almost insane having her so close and forbidden to touch her, he knew she really needed time to get used to him. And maybe he needed time too to clarify his confounding emotions.
So, he leaned back against the wide seat and waited for the Pilot’s announcement that they’ll be descending the Praia International Airport soon.
Kaine wished her heart would stop thudding. She was almost tempted to run back to the plane they’d just descended from and demand that it take her back to Nigeria. But she had to squelch the crazy temptation and to keep moving as Domini led the way towards the Arrivals section, dragging along their luggage. He was saying something, probably telling her stuff about the airport, but she wasn’t quite hearing him. Her mind was more focused on how his mother would receive her—and Baby Tobi.
Well, there was no doubt that she’d be overwhelmingly pleased to see Baby Tobi. He was her grandson after all and it was for his sake that she’d asked her son to marry her. It was how she’d receive her that had her almost panicked. How would a mother see a woman who slept with one son and then married another? Did she believe, like her son, that she—that Anwuli—had been demanding financial compensation in her mail? Was that how she’d perceived the mail Anwuli had sent too?
And if that was her perception, how then was she expected to like her as Dominic had said she would?
The sudden exclamation from Dominic jolted her out of her thoughts. Kaine stumbled and almost dropped the baby in her agitation. She inhaled, scolded herself to be calm and composed and then looked up at the woman who was practically running towards them.
“Oh my God! She’s so beautiful!”
Kaine didn’t know she said the words aloud until Dominic touched her with an elbow and responded with a grin. “Yes, she is. The most beautiful woman I’ve ever known.”
There was pure love, absolute pride and complete joy in the deep voice and all showed on his face as he let go of their suitcases and wrapped the woman in a warm embrace when she reached them.
Kaine stared at the two. The woman was murmuring words in Portuguese as she held onto her son. Then she pushed back, placed her hands tenderly on both his cheeks and gave him a resounding kiss on the lips.
Kaine’s jaw dropped. Mothers didn’t kiss their adult sons in Nigeria… at least mothers she knew. But she had to quickly pick up her fallen jaw as the woman stepped away from Dominic and turned her attention to her.
“Good… good evening, ma’am.” She stuttered out, doing her best to meet the bright light brown eyes.
Dominic had inherited her colour of eyes, she noted somewhere in her dazed mind. But dear God, she was more than just beautiful, she was a gorgeous woman. Exquisite, even. She was tall, not as tall as herself. Kaine placed her at maybe five-feet-seven. But her slim build made her look taller. She looked nothing like a woman who’d birthed two sons and didn’t look old enough either to have a twenty-nine year old son. One could safely put her age at just forty. She looked that young. Her complexion was light, her skin soft and supple, untouched by any visible freckle or even wrinkle. She had long reddish-brown hair and it flowed down her back in bouncy waves. Her face was oval, smooth and flawless with a nose that was small and almost button-like, a mouth that lower-full and top-dipped and eyes that were perfectly lashed and browed and were gleaming with laughing, welcoming light.
“Que garota bonita!” She said, earning a wide-eyed stare from Kaine. “I said that you’re beautiful.” She translated, grinning with twinkling eyes. “You’re much welcome to Praia. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you… but I can show you.”
And with that she came forward and wrapped her arms around Kaine and the baby she had in her arms. “Bem-vinda. Welcome.” And like she did with her son, she pulled back, held her cheeks and then kissed her on her lips and next, on both cheeks. “Now, may I hold my grandson? Look at him?”
“Ah… yes… yes, of course.” Kaine was more than a little flustered with the kisses. A woman has never kissed her before, let alone on the mouth.
She took Baby Tobi in her arms, looked down at him tenderly, then turned to look at her son. “He is no doubt the son of my son. This is Tobi come back to life.” Her brown eyes shimmered with tears as they returned on Kaine. “Thank you for bringing my son—my grandson—home. He is beautiful. As you are and as his father was.” Then she leaned down and kissed the baby. “Now, we go home. There’s much to celebrate.” She said in a sudden brisk tone, turning to lead the way. “We have cooked a feast. A small feast to celebrate your marriage and to welcome you home.”
“A feast is not necessary, mama. But I’m sure we shall enjoy it.” Dominic said with a grin at her as he picked up their suitcases.
“Bah! A feast is most necessary.” His mother countered. “I would have done something bigger but it’s your first day back and you’ll both be tired from your long flights. We’ll do something bigger another time. You like a good party, don’t you, Kaine?” She turned to her, then added. “I can call you Kaine, can’t I? It’s what my son calls you.”
Kaine bounced her head, struggled to find her voice. “Yes… yes, you can. Ah…” did she like a good party? “Well, I’m not exactly the partying type. I mean, I am rather reserved in nature.”
“Except when she’s in a temper, then she’s a spitfire.” Dominic chimed in. Then chuckled at her glare. “See what I mean? She’ll probably want to hit me later for that comment.”
“Don’t tease her so.” His mother reproved with a chuckle. “And don’t mind him, Kaine, he can be such a naughty boy at times.”
More like a menace, Kaine thought forcing a smile on her face as she focused on the beautiful woman in long silk flowery dress beside her. “Anyway, I’m sure I will enjoy the feast you have prepared,…” what does she call her? Mama? Ma’am?
“You can call me Mia.” His mother invited as if noticing her dilemma. “Or if you’re comfortable enough, mama.”
Mama it will have to be. No way was she calling a woman old enough to be her mother by her name, uh-uh. But Kaine only sent her a smile as they got outside the airport and walked towards the parking area where a Mercedes GL SUV was waiting with a chauffeur.
The house, if one can dare call it that, was the biggest and the most magnificent Kaine had ever seen. It was a three-level house with two small balconies at the mid and top level. Kaine gaped a full minute at the sheer astounding architectural beauty of it that gave it the look of a small hotel.
“I always say it’s a little bit too exaggerated a house but neither my sons nor their father ever listened to me.” Mia said with a twinkle as she too got down from the car, holding a sleeping Tobi securely against her shoulder.
“It’s beautiful.” Kaine murmured. “And awe-inspiring.” She added with a nervous laugh. “But really very beautiful.”
“Obrigada.” Mia said, then translated with a quick laugh. “That means ‘thank you’. You’ll find I say a whole lot in Portuguese. But don’t fear, I most often translate. Come, let’s enter. The girls will take care of the bags.”
The girls turned out to be the servants Dominic had spoken off. And they were not just girls, there were young men among them too. Kaine felt completely overwhelmed and a trifle embarrassed as they greeted her and either curtsied or dipped their heads in a bow before her.
“You go up to your room and change and be back down immediately so we begin the feast.” Mia instructed handing the baby back to her at the foot of the stairs. “Your room is ready and you’ll like it I’m sure. It is Nick’s old room of course, but I made some changes a woman would welcome. Go up and see.”
“Thank you.” Kaine murmured but she was already sweeping off and talking rapidly in Portuguese to one of the servant girls who kept closely behind her. Kaine had a vague recollection of her being introduced as Catia.
“This way.” Dominic said beside her, gesturing with a hand. “Hope you don’t mind the stairs. Mama does, so she stays on the second floor. My… our room is on the third floor. There too, Tobi’s room used to be, just next to mine. But it’s locked away now.”
Kaine murmured something indistinct. It always made her nervous when he brought up his brother because she never knew what to say or how best to react.
“Here we are.” He stopped before a dark oak door. “It is traditional I carry you over the threshold… but that is at the front door not over the bedroom door. Still, I guess keeping tradition this way won’t matter.”
“There’s no need…”
The rest of her protest was swept off as he bent slightly and scooped her up into his arms with her clutching tightly to the baby.
“Turn the doorknob, querida, my hands are full.” He said, flashing her a grin.
Kaine quickly turned the doorknob and pushed open the door. “All right, put me down.” She ordered the instant he crossed over it and entered the room.
He did. Then curved his head and gave her a soft kiss on the lips. “I think that too is traditional. Welcome home, minha querida esposa.”
Kaine stepped back, managed a shy smile. “Obrigada.” She repeated what Mia had said to her.
Dominic’s grin broadened. “It is obrigado, because I am male. But thank you for using my native tongue.”
She nodded, bolstered up her smile and turned to look at the room—their bedroom. It was a large room, painted in a light brown hue with a couple of paintings on the wall. There was a massive wooden shelf with books at the top level and a wide-screen television in the middle, then odd flower vases and some sculptors on the last level. The bed, much like the bed in the hotel suite, was king-sized and covered in bright patterned bedspread and coverlet. There was a table-lamp on the right-side of the bed and on the left, what looked like a magazine rack.
No doubt one of the new touch-ups Mia had spoken about.
“The bathroom is this way.” Dominic gestured to a glass door. “And the French door leads out to the balcony. That open archway takes you into an adjoining closet. I barely use it, but I’m sure you’ll find it quite useful.” He turned at the knock on their door. “Ah, I think they’re here with our luggage. We’d better hurry with our bath and changing and get back downstairs before mama sends someone to bring us down.”
It was indeed a feast. Though they were the only ones at the table—she, Mia and Dominic—there was an assortment of dishes to feed a dozen people to say the least. There was barbecued meat, a funny-looking but very tasty vegetable-like rice Mia had called Moqueca. Then there were sweets like Brigadieros, Pão de queijo and then the glossy yellow extra sweet Quindum Kaine couldn’t have enough of. There was also an assortment of wines, their wine, Melhour, being the majority of it in different flavours and then some bottles of champagne.
The conversation flowed easily in English and when they noticed she was too quiet, either one of them prompted her with a question or a comment.
By the time dinner was over, Kaine was already tipsy from her many glasses of wine and could only grin foolishly when Mia recommended Dominic carry her upstairs to their room as a real groom would.
“Goodnight, mama. And thank you for a lovely, delicious feast.” Kaine called cheerfully as she slipped her arms around Dominic’s neck.
“Sleep well, darling girl.” Mia responded with a grin, blowing her a kiss.
“You were right, I like your mama. And I think she likes me too.” Kaine crooned into the strong neck. Gosh, he smelled so nice… and felt so warm.
“I’m glad to hear that.” Dominic murmured. “And I’m glad you enjoyed the small feast. You do well with new foods, I’m impressed.”
“It was all delicious, I couldn’t help but eat too much… glutton me.” Kaine giggled and snuggled closer. “Your wine is very delicious too. You should start exporting to Nigeria, you know. We love good and sweet-tasting wines in Nigeria.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” He adjusted her weight and then pushed open the door.
“Oh, I forgot to ask where Tobi was.” Kaine murmured, blinking her eyes to adjust them to the semi-dark room.
“Sleeping in his cot, right here in this room. You don’t have to worry about him.” Dominic gently set her on the bed. “Mama figured you won’t want a separate nursery for him, so they brought his cot in here.”
“No… no, he stays with me. I want him always with me.” She fluttered her eyes. She was beginning to feel drowsy. “Do you know you have a beautiful face? Not as beautiful as mama’s own of course, but still very good-looking.” She giggled, reached out and touched his hair as he hovered over her. “I like your hair. I’ve been wanting to touch it… to sweep my hand through the thick mass of curls.” And she did just that, gliding her fingers into his hair. “I like your mouth too… it’s so full and supple and soft when you kiss me. Do you want to kiss me now, Nick?”
“I’ve wanted to do nothing more all day.” He murmured, then lowered himself and covered her lips with his own.
Kaine let out a satisfied moan and slipped her arms around his neck.
*** ~~~ ***
Que garota bonita!:What a beautiful girl!
Obrigada: Thank you (to a woman).
Obrigado: Thank you (to a man)