Having just put her granddaughters to bed, after two annoying hours of struggling with them, Hadiza craved for a glass of wine and a pill to drive away the pain in her back. She also desired to have her feet massaged. Kadiri used to be so good at it, but she had recently began to drift away from him. This wasn’t intentional. Her life as a person living in the shadows, where she had needed him the most, was ending. Yet her feelings for him persisted. He meant a lot to her, still.
“Is there anything you want me to do for you?” he asked as she entered the kitchen to pour herself some wine. He had just fixed a broken knob on the gas cooker.
“I’m fine. You should rest. It’s been a long day.”
She got lost in the notched movements of his muscled arms as she watched him wash his hands at the sink. Her eyes then ran the length of his body when he turned around to wipe his hands on a towel. He looked at her and she had a fleeting recollection of the last time he was in her bed. She wasn’t counting, but it had been over a month, and he hadn’t snuck in at night as he usually did. She was scared that he was getting tired of her in the same manner she was drifting away from him. She needed him to need her, to make her feel that she was still desirable. One of the things the accident and Mazino’s betrayal took from her was her confidence in her body. Having spent years in a wheelchair and walking around in crutches, she felt less than herself. Kadiri’s presence in her bedroom had been the healing balm her body longed for. She needed him tonight.
He stood before her with concern in his eyes. “You should be the one resting.”
“I’m waiting for Nero to return.”
“All right then.” He nodded. “Good night.”
Kadiri,” she called. He stopped and looked at her. She didn’t have to say anything. He saw it in her eyes. He responded in silence and walked away. Nero returned shortly.
“Why are you still awake?” he inquired, going for a bottle of water.
“I’ll be turning in soon,” Hadiza answered. “When are you going back?”
“Work is keeping me here until the 24th.”
“I hope you’re not spending Christmas here?”
“No, but when did you start wanting me to spend Christmas away from you?”
“You have a family now.”
“A son,” Nero corrected.
“He needs you. Cheta needs you too. Go and be with them, please. We’ll be fine.”
“There’s a question that’s been burning on my mind, Mom.”
“It’s you and Cheta.” Nero leaned on the backdoor. “What’s the deal with two of you?”
“Cheta and I?”
“Yes. There’s something going on that neither of you is telling me. What is it?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. The only secret we kept from you was what she did to me. Other than that, there’s nothing.”
Nero shook his head. “You’re not telling me everything. This is why I haven’t told Cheta how I felt about what she did to you. I feel like there’s more to the story. Something is just not adding up. Why are you so into us ending up with each her, even after what she did?”
“Because I’m a sweet, loving mother.”
“An unforgiving mother. Let’s not forget that.”
“Nero, Chichetaram is not Mazino. The dynamics are different.”
“Really? She took years out of your life.”
“No. Mazino did. It was an accident that I survived, but Mazino’s actions buried me afterwards. Yes, I am unforgiving and I still hold it against him. But I repeat, Cheta’s case is different. She didn’t set out to intentionally hurt me. Besides, she’s the mother of my first grandchild. That means a lot to me. And let’s not forget the most important factor at play here.”
“Your feelings for her. I respect that, and I want to watch it flourish. You have no idea the pain in a mother’s heart to see her children ending up with people who don’t love them. First, it was you and that nasty actor.”
“You can say her name, Mom.”
“Then the other joyless one. And of course, Fajr and her absentee husband. I feel like that boy shows up only to impregnate her. I hope he doesn’t give her a disease or worse.”
“Tragically, she won’t dump him.”
“Let’s not even talk about Hajara and the white baby she’s carrying.”
“She finally told you guys?”
“Finally? You’ve known?”
“Since last week. She was freaking out.”
“She has to get rid of that pregnancy.”
Nero gave her a reprimanding look. “I am never comfortable with the way you talk about abortion.”
“Your sister doesn’t need a baby in her life right now. A white baby, for that matter.”
“And your racism. It irritates me too.”
Hadiza was unbothered. “All I’m saying is that I’m happy for you, Son. You and Cheta as a couple would make my heart swell. I can already see your wedding.”
Nero hid a smile. “Good night, Mom.” He rubbed her cheek as he walked past. Hadiza switched off the lights and went to her bedroom. She took her pills, sat on her bed and sent a message to Cheta.
He’s asking questions. Please, don’t tell him what we’re up to with your dad. He’ll never let you go ahead with it.
She put her phone away and changed into her pajamas. Kadiri enjoyed the thrill of taking off her clothes and gazing at her body. Hadiza often wondered if he gave his wife that much attention. He never talked about the woman, except for times when he traveled home for the holidays.
Hadiza turned off the air conditioner and opened the windows, parting the curtains. She lay in bed, feeling the inebriating effect of the cocktail of pills and wine. She soon shut her eyes but not in sleep. She was suspended in a state of quiet. When Kadiri walked in, she stared at him for a second and shut her eyes again.
Cheta was already stressed and it was not yet sunrise. She hadn’t been this hassled in a while. Her house was so crowded that there was hardly space to poke a needle. Everywhere she turned, there was a relative. Even her living room had been turned into a makeshift bedroom for distant cousins. She couldn’t wait for the wedding to be over.
She had woken up on a couch, having surrendered her bed to Naza, Jacinta, and another cousin. Jacinta was awake now, seated upright with a pillow to support her back. Her eyes were shut, but her lips moved as if in prayer. The other two were still asleep.
Cheta picked her phone and tiptoed to the bathroom. As she sat to ease her bowel, she opened work emails. They were more than she could attend to presently, but she responded to the ones she could. Cheta ignored an email Nero forwarded to her from yet another company that wanted to buy off Laja Towers. She had promised to give him an answer on where she stood at the turn of the new year, but Nero was persistent. He was as stubborn as she was.
She opened one of her music apps and picked a stimulating jazz playlist. She sometimes enjoyed starting her day with music, but most times, she began with the Bible. It was nostalgic and comforting to hear a voice read to her from the scriptures. It reminded her of her childhood and the morning devotions of which she had been forced to partake. It also reminded her of how God’s words comforted her in a home where she had felt abandoned and alone. At the age of fourteen, she had already read the Bible four times. She had also memorized uncountable verses, so that there was hardly any passage with which she wasn’t conversant. With her vast knowledge, she won trophies in competitions for the children and teenagers’ units of her church. Moments like those made her parents proud, of course. Many had prophesied that she would take over from them in the ministry, but Cheta had known, even as a child, that she would have nothing to do with the church.
As she got older, she began to shed off her cloak of religiosity. Her heart held questions for which the faith didn’t have answers; and for a while, she doubted that God existed. But like a goat whose neck was tied and could only go as far as its owner intended it to go, she always snapped back to her beliefs. With time, she stopped questioning and accepted the truths she couldn’t change. Presently, she felt like her relationship with God was one-sided. She loved and believed in him, but she also believed that she was not one of his favorites. However, she no longer feared that her distrust in his love for her could offend his sovereignty or even make a mark on it. When she discussed this with Nero the other night, over the phone, he told her that her relationship with her father was largely responsible for the way she saw God.
“You think?” she asked. His theory was deep, reaching into a place in her heart she didn’t like visiting.
“Maybe it’s just logic. I had to take care of myself for most of my life, living like I had no one. I wasn’t supposed to go through that type of pain if God really loved me.”
“I’m not trying to talk down on your struggles, Cheta, but everyone goes through hell. It’s life.”
“Did you go through hell?”
“No. But I’ve had my own share of pain. Look, I know that my childhood, up to my adult years, were filled with love and provision from my parents, but it’s not because God loved me more.”
“He did, and he still loves you more.”
“Then, I should say that about you too. I mean, look at your life now. Look where you are.”
“I suffered, Nero.”
“And I didn’t have to. Truth is, nobody, who doesn’t deserve it, has to suffer. See, I know that this is an old argument and it’s Atheism 101, but if God is truly just as they say he is, why does he let good people suffer and bad people keep getting away with evil? Look at Nigeria and other African countries, for instance. We have leaders who rob and kill us, but God does nothing! He just sits there and watches the innocent die while the wicked live their lives in luxury and die peacefully. Isn’t he partial?”
Nero tried to make a case for God, but Cheta wouldn’t accept his philosophy. It ended in an argument that elicited cynicism from her, which she regretted later. She apologized to him for her tone and vowed never to discuss religion with him again, although she wanted him to know that she didn’t feel the same way about God as she did for her father. All she wanted was to believe that someone would be there, waiting in the end. Asides that, she just wanted to be happy in life.
The bathroom door burst open and Jacinta barged in, dashing for the washbasin. She bent over it and vomited. Cheta watched her, sick at the thought that her father was responsible for the pregnancy. She wondered if he still raped her, if the relationship was consensual or Jacinta was still his victim. She seemed happy to be getting married, though. She couldn’t stop talking about her fiancé.
“Sorry,” Cheta muttered. Jacinta nodded.
“It’s something I ate last night.”
“Jaci, I know you’re pregnant. Pretend to others but not to me.”
Jacinta smiled in embarrassment. She had always been the good, quiet girl. The conservative one. She was beautiful in an unfussy manner, and despite her modest appearance, she had a sensuous body that couldn’t be hidden.
She rinsed her mouth and returned to the bedroom, just as a call came in for Cheta from her father.
“Gather everyone for morning devotion in an hour,” He instructed. “You’re leading the prayers.”
Cheta wanted to cuss at him. He was barely in her life five minutes and he was already the constant pain he was. Since their arrival two nights ago from Abuja, he had been all up in her hair. It was always his manner to suffocate her with attention after every major fight. Rather than apologize for hurting her, he would stress her with his presence, demanding for favors. Her mother had once called it his love language; Cheta had retorted, saying that he was an abuser and their marriage was a sham. Her mother’s response was a vicious slap on her face that almost threw her to the floor. It was the last time Cheta said anything to the woman about her marriage.
This holiday, she vowed not to get herself into a situation that would earn her more slaps or make her say things that would cause a fight. She already planned to give them both a heart attack by introducing Nero to them as the father of her child. It was enough drama on its own, which was why she would step away from triggering situations and enjoy her time with her man. He was returning this morning, and she had thought of the many different ways she wanted him inside her.
She had a full bath, pampering her body in the tub. When she came out to the bedroom, she walked into Naza quizzing Jacinta over her expensive handbag and phone.
“Are you not a school teacher again?”
Jacinta simply smiled.
“How on earth do you own an iPhone 12 Pro?”
“A friend bought it for me. Satisfied?”
“Are you fucking this friend?”
Jacinta laughed. “Chinaza, leave me, please. If you know what’s in my head, you won’t be disturbing me this morning,” she said in Igbo.
“Even your handbag is Chanel.”
“It’s okrika o! I bought it in Yaba.”
“Na so. Green snake under green grass. Na una carry Bible pass, na una dey sin pass. Your type dey fuck pastor well sef.”
“Naza, your pidgin sucks,” Cheta said.
“As long as she gets my message.”
Cheta looked at Jacinta who continued to smile. “Jaci, Daddy said you should gather everyone for morning devotion, that you’ll be leading the prayers.”
“Morning devotion again?” Naza whined. “Fuck that shit. I’m going back to bed.”
She dove under the blanket as Jacinta left the bedroom. Cheta wore a long, striped dress that drew attention to her curves. She slipped her feet into a pair of fancy slippers her mother had brought for her from Abuja. Afterwards, she picked her handbag and began towards the door.
“Greet our baby daddy for me,” Naza said from underneath the blanket. “But please, fuck hard. So hard, that I get wet here.”
“You’re just useless,” Cheta said as she stepped out. She could hear Uncle Before-Before talking to someone down the hallway. She hurried out, lucky to bump into only a couple of relatives as she made her exit.
A cab was parked outside and she got into it at the same moment she saw her parents coming out of the guesthouse. She ducked down and urged the man to drive away as fast as he could.
Out on the road, she lifted her head, laughing at her silliness. It reminded her of her younger years and how she used to sneak out of the family house to party.
Her phone buzzed, informing her that she had missed a call. Her lips stretched in a smile when she saw that it was Nero. She returned the call.
“Dream girl,” he said.
“I think so. How are you?”
“Your sister and her baby?”
“They’re barely pulling through. I feel bad that I have to leave today. But Bas is here.”
“So, are you on your way?”
“That’s why I’m calling. I’m yet to sign the agreement with these guys. I don’t know why they’re stalling, but they promised we’d do it at five this evening. I’m so sorry, baby. Once I’m done with them, I’m heading to the airport. I was lucky to get a ticket for 9pm.”
Cheta was disappointed. “And here I am, rushing to be with you. I’m already on my way.”
“Don’t change your plans. Go and wait for me. Eat all you can, watch movies, sleep… I’ll come and wake you up.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“Send me a picture. I haven’t seen your face in a bit.”
Cheta turned on her camera and took a selfie in which she was making an angry face.
Seconds later, he was laughing. “What can I do to make you smile?”
“Just carry your sexy self and come here.”
“All right. Talk to you later.”
She rang off and her disappointment returned. Her phone screen lit up with an incoming call, displaying the name, ‘Mummy Dera’.
“Nne, biko…” Cheta grumbled. “Not now.”
But she took her mother’s call.
“Where are you?”
“On my way to see my boyfriend.”
Her mother went silent for a few seconds. “When did you start having a boyfriend?”
“I’m not good enough for a man to date?”
“That’s not what I meant. I thought you had sworn off men. I’m surprised you have a man now.”
“Well, it’s what you guys want na. You know I’m an obedient child.”
She could see her mother attempting to roll her eyes. She never got it right. It always came off looking like she was cross-eyed.
“But why didn’t you tell us about this person?”
“Because it’s private.”
“But you just told me.”
“You want me to also tell you about how we fornicate?”
“Chichetaram, respect your mother,” Nnedinma scolded in Igbo.
“So, when are you coming back home?”
“On the 26th. I cannot stay in that house with all that multitude of people.”
“You’re not spending Christmas with us?”
“Ha-ahn. What sort of behavior is this now, Cheta? When last did you spend Christmas with your family?”
“Can we not fight, please?”
“And where is Obi sef? He showed his face on the day we came and he just disappeared.”
“He’s at his father’s place.”
Another moment of silence from Nnedinma. “His father?”
“That person truly exists?”
“Mommy, I didn’t impregnate myself.”
Nnedinma muttered a long sentence in Igbo, which Cheta didn’t care to catch, and then she laughed. “You are joking.”
“I am not.”
“So, after all these years of keeping him a secret, you’d just tell me about him so casually? And that was because I even asked you. You were not going to introduce this person to us?”
“Mommy, I will. You’ll see him at the wedding.”
“That’s good. But that means you’re introducing two men to us.”
“Your boyfriend too.”
“Mommy, they are one and the same person.”
A third moment of silence.
“You’re full of surprises, Chichetaram.” Nnedinma’s voice turned pleasant. “Me, I cannot wait to see him. What is his name?”
Cheta swore silently. “Mommy, I have to go now. Bye!”
She terminated the call and sent a quick message to Obi, telling him not to reveal anything about Nero to his grandparents.
Cheta slipped on her earphones and listened to music from her phone to still her restlessness. Even though Nero wasn’t going to be with her until later, she was nervous about the next stage in their relationship. Once sex came into the picture, it meant commitment. She had never been this excited to be with any man before, and it amused her as much as it embarrassed her. She feared that she might lose herself to their relationship. Was it okay to discuss her expectations with Nero and explain how much she enjoyed being alone for long periods? Would he understand?
Cheta cleaved to the songs she was listening to and displaced her worries. In a short while, the cab pulled up outside a hotel. A valet opened the door for her and offered his arm as to help her out of the car.
At the front desk, a lady handed her the key to a reserved suite and pointed her towards an elevator. Cheta rode upstairs, staring down at a beautiful view of the island. She stepped out and walked down a curvy hallway before arriving at her suite. Once inside, she kicked out of her sneakers and took a tour around the exquisite apartment. In the bedroom, she found four gift boxes waiting. There was a note on the bed in Nero’s writing, wishing her a Merry Christmas.
Three boxes had outfits each, which included clothes, paired with shoes. The last one held three imitation first class tickets to France—for herself, Nero and Obi. In the box was also a simple note that said, whenever you’re ready. Cheta smiled at Nero’s thoughtfulness, recalling the time she narrated how she had missed the Cannes Festival in which she had been nominated for an award. She had been too broke to attend.
“Nero, why are you so sweet?” she whispered, staring at the gifts. “How do I repay you?”
She sat on the bed as her nervousness returned. How was she to respond to this type of attention and love from one person? How long before she began to feel inadequate and not enough for him? If the old demons crept back, would she stay or push him away?
She crawled farther into the bed and curled into a ball.
“Don’t fuck this relationship up.”
She turned towards the balcony. Laja was there, staring out and bouncing a tennis ball that had Nadal’s autograph. He had a white robe on with the hotel’s insignia.
“I put in my dying breath to see you two together.”
“You did not.”
“You get the point, Cheta. Don’t fuck things up. Nero’s a great guy. Not perfect, but solid. He doesn’t want you to love him back the way he loves you. He just wants you to give him a chance to be happy, to give yourself a chance to be happy too.”
“What if he wants me to cream his back?”
Laja laughed. “Naza and her pathetic life.”
“You know what I mean, Large.”
“He won’t ask you more than you can give. And even if he does, you would know what to do.”
Laja appeared on the bed beside her, but with his head resting on the other end. He tossed the ball into the air and caught it.
“You are enough, Cheta. Enough to be loved. Enough to love. I know nobody tells you this, but it’s the truth. Open your heart, take out that ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign and you’ll see things better.”
He tossed the ball again but it disappeared into the air. When she looked down, he was gone too. She got off the bed and put a call through to Gold, informing her that she wanted to send her a parcel.
“For real?” Gold shrieked.
“Yeah. Text me your address.”
“Em…You know where I’m staying, right?”
“Okay. Your gift will be there in an hour.”
Cheta changed into one of the outfits Nero got for her. It was a pair of silky pajamas and black heeled sandals. After dressing up, she called for a cab. When it arrived, she headed to Ransome’s house, but stopped at the mall first to pick a few things. She was lucky to find Ransome at home at this time. He welcomed her at the gate, holding on to the leash of one of his wolfdogs that went wild the instant it saw her. Somewhere in the compound, other dogs echoed its growls with loud barks.
“Am I safe?” Cheta asked, apprehensive.
Ransome handed the leash to one of his guards. “You’re good.” Putting an arm around Cheta’s waist, he led her towards the house. “Are you sure we won’t revisit our talk about marriage?”
“Because you look and smell so yummy right now. Damn!”
“I’m someone’s babe. Back off.”
He pecked her cheek.
“Goldie!” he called as they got into the house. Gold came out of the kitchen, frowning. She spotted Cheta and burst into a smile. “You came!”
She ran to her and they hugged each other.
“I’ve missed you!” Gold held tightly to her. “So much.”
“Babe, you were literally at my place last week.”
“Plus, we talk every day.”
“I know, but I miss you.”
“Ransome is an ass.”
“I know,” Ransome responded. “I’ll leave you two lesbians to make out in the kitchen while I sit upstairs and wait for lunch. Gold, try not to add too much pepper like you did last night.”
As they went into the kitchen, Cheta asked Gold how she fared.
“Heard from him yet?”
“He’s been calling, but I don’t pick up. I still haven’t told him about Giri road. I don’t need that burden on my head abeg.”
“So, you’re not going back to him?”
Gold shook her head slowly. “It’s best that we’re apart, Cheta. Things are too complicated.”
“I’m not talking to that one too.”
“That’s good to hear.”
Gold walked to the cooker where she was making lunch. “So, tell me about you and Nero. How far with that?”
Cheta shrugged. She picked a banana from a basket. “Nothing special.”
Cheta told her what she was comfortable letting out, Muhammed’s illness, inclusive.
“I think you should call Basim. He’s been in Abuja since Tuesday.”
“Or maybe I could just send a text. It’s not like it’s his baby.”
“Goldie, just call. It doesn’t mean that you’re going back to him.”
“I’m ashamed of what I did, Cheta. I want to erase all of that.”
“You can’t. Just forgive yourself and move on. But call him and tell him you’re praying for Muhammed.”
“I will.” She handed Cheta a bottle of fried groundnuts. “So, where is the gift you said you had for me?”
“What gift…? Oh!” Cheta sniggered. “This is the gift na.” She pointed at herself. “Me.”
Cheta reached into her handbag and took out a jewelry box. She handed it to Gold. When Gold saw the earrings in it, she screamed.
“You kept your promise!”
“Merry Christmas, sweetie.”
“This is gold, right?” Gold asked.
“Awwww. Thank you, Cheta.”
They had lunch at the poolside. After that, Ransome took them to a women’s only store nearby. He needed their help to pick gifts for his girlfriend. They stayed there for quite a while. By the time they returned, it was almost sundown. Cheta assisted Gold as she baked cupcakes for a client. It was almost past eight when they were done. She announced that she was leaving and asked Ransome to take her to the hotel.
“With all pleasure.”
On their journey there, he tried to kiss her, but she pulled away.
“You’re serious about your relationship with this guy?” he asked.
“If you say so.”
“What does that mean?”
“Nothing o. Just wondering when you started taking relationships seriously. Are you sure you’re not being pressured by his mom?”
“Cheta, being with a man out of guilt is wrong.”
“As opposed to being with him out of political ambitions, right?”
Ransome gave a guilty smile. “I’m wrong as well, but she and I know it. We’re not pretending to be in love.”
“Who says I’m pretending?”
“Are you in love with him?”
Cheta looked away, eyes following twinkling Christmas lights on a high-rise building.
“Look, as I am, I’m seriously thinking of walking out of that arrangement,” Ransome confessed.
“Because I don’t want to be a slave to her father. This whole thing was arranged by my godfather, and I have a good mind to tell him that I can’t do it. It would cost me a lot, but at least, I’ll be free.” His eyes were filled with righteous worry for Cheta. “I want you to be free too. That Hadiza bitch is holding you to ransom with her son. I don’t think it was what Laja intended when he wanted you two together.”
“Just think about it. Okay?”
He took her hand and kissed it. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
They got to the hotel and he parked outside the gates.
“I got something for you.” He reached for the backseat and handed her a box.
Cheta opened the box. There was a blank check resting on a silk chemise.
“Rans, I told you not to bother about me financially. I’m good.”
“I know that the profit from Laja Towers is not coming in any time soon because Laja took a loan not long before he fell ill. So, until then, let me take care of you the way you took care of me in school.”
“I hardly did much…”
“Because you didn’t have much. But the little you had, you shared with me, even when I said no.”
“And this lingerie, what’s it for?”
“It’s just a nice Christmas present to a friend.”
“Sweet but creepy. Thank you.” She gave him a hug and stepped down from his car. She rode the elevator up to her suite. When she got in, the sounds of Tems and Wizkid, singing Essence, welcomed her. She looked in the direction of the balcony where Nero stood, his concentration on his phone.
She kicked out of her shoes and dropped everything she came with.
“Hi Eden.” He gazed at her. “Those PJ’s look good on you.”
Cheta spun around.
“Come here, let me spank that ass,” he instructed her.
She walked to him, slid into the space between his arms and went on tiptoe to kiss him.
“Okay…” He smiled approvingly. She replied with another kiss. He tossed his phone on a sofa nearby and shifted her hair from her face to look into her eyes. He brushed his nose against hers and their lips came together a second time. Nero had this manner of slowing things down, like he owned time and he could do whatever he wanted with it. But Cheta wouldn’t let him tonight. Her hunger for him always scared her. It had taken her immense restraint to keep her hands off him before this time. Now, she pressed her body into his and intensified their kiss as if his lips were the main course for the night. At first, it seemed like she might follow his controlled pace when she stopped and looked into his eyes with intent; but she tiptoed again and asked him to fuck her.
Nero didn’t give any of his teasing chuckles, neither did he waste her time. If she recalled, he had it in him to switch from sweet and tender to wild and hardcore in seconds. She was dying for that side of him. That first itch had to be scratched until it was completely peeled off.
She clung to the collar of his shirt as he gripped her waist and brought her body closer to his. He impressed a hungry kiss on her mouth. His hands moved from her waist to her bum, kneading it, nudging her to feel his escalating hardness. She unbuttoned his shirt from the top but didn’t make it to the last button, as he interrupted her with his mouth, seeking pleasures from the weak spots on her neck.
“I’ve been thinking about being inside you all day,” he said. He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed the palm, then led it back to his waist, where she had left the last button untouched.
Cheta unfastened it and did the same to his jeans, undoing the zip as well. She didn’t want to undress him just yet. There was everything sexy about making out with someone who had their clothes on.
He murmured something about how sweetly she smelled. She stepped back and began to take off her shirt, her eyes never leaving his. But Nero didn’t let her finish, as he helped her toss the shirt to the floor. Next, he reached behind her and unhooked her bra. After he took it off, he hesitated for a second, eyes moving from left to right, as though he was unsure of what to do with her breasts.
Yet, he dove for them—feeling, caressing, and squeezing, all at once. Cheta threw her head back, following a long moan, as he took one nipple in his mouth. He sucked gently—then hard—and gently again, just before he bit down softly on it, causing her to squirm and groan. He gave the other nipple equal attention while squeezing and lightly smacking her bum.
Suddenly, he lifted her off the floor and carried her to the sofa. He crawled over her as she pushed her body farther in, flinging throw pillows to the floor to give them more room. Her eyes traveled down to his waist where she had left his jean unbuttoned. She reached underneath his boxer briefs and freed his dick. With a long sigh, she reacquainted herself with it—length, width, bulgy veins, thick hardness, and all.
Nero murmured an obscenity into her ear that made her moan and giggle at the same time.
“When was the last time you did this?” he asked.
“I can’t remember…” She gasped as he kissed a nipple and smooched his way downwards. He stopped at her navel, adorned with colorful strands of waist beads, and with both hands, tugged her pants lower, taking her thong along. First, she felt the cool blast of the air conditioner on her exposed body; next, it was the heat of his breath on her skin.
He inhaled and kissed her before pushing her thighs apart to have better access. For a second, Cheta was embarrassed about how wet she was, but Nero’s mouth on her banished her shyness. She shuddered when his tongue tasted her. Memories from the past reminded her of the things his tongue could do. But he lifted his head with a torturous smile, moved up, leaned over her body, and kissed her mouth.
From his back pocket, he took out a condom. Cheta snatched it from him.
“You’re not even playing,” he said, his fingers traveling down her tummy. She tore the condom wrap as he went farther and parted her vulva. She gasped when he slipped a finger into her, brought it out, and rubbed it lightly over her clit.
“Fuck…” She had never wanted a man inside her the way she wanted him right now. His finger went in again while his thumb played with her clit. She squeezed her eyes shut, clamping her thighs against his wrist.
“Eden, you bad girl…” Nero laughed softly and withdrew his hand. He then stood and took off his jeans. The image of him in the dark, aggressively erect, was not something she could handle.
“Okiemute, stop playing with me.”
He returned to her, but even before his body touched hers, she reached for his dick and drew it towards her. Looking into his eyes, she rolled the condom on him, stroking him.
He lowered his lips to hers as he settled himself between her thighs. He began pushing into her while holding her stare. “Do you remember?”
Cheta couldn’t speak. She was spreading her thighs wider to make room for him. She thought to herself that maybe dicks grew with time, because he felt bigger than she recalled. Big enough to give her tiny shock waves. He felt heavy too, as he moved his hips in small circles until he was deep enough.
He stopped moving, pulled out a little, and kissed her neck. Lips on You by Maroon 5 was now playing.
“There’s no going back after this.”
Before she could respond, he thrust back into her and she screamed out, grasping his shirt. When she thought he couldn’t go any deeper, he buried himself all the way in. She loved his weight on her, the feel of the hairs on his body over her smooth skin, and the heat of his breath on her neck.
His thrusts remained deep, giving her little room to move her waist in response. It was a cheat move for getting a woman wet so quickly. But Cheta wanted him to fuck her hard. So, she scratched his back without warning, from the top, all the way down to his bum. That was all he needed to switch up the heat. He freed her waist and took lengthier, harder strokes. She cried out as his body began to slam into hers.
Still, it was not enough. She lifted her legs up and bent them at the knees. Nero adjusted his position and sank into her again without breaking his rhythm. Each heavy thrust caused her body to shudder.
“You’re still wild,” he said breathlessly. “Still so tight…”
She moved with him, her hips rising to meet his movements, her moans and grunts matching his. Afterwards, she released her legs and wrapped them around him, so that his body came down on hers again. He gave her his lips and she kissed him, but only briefly, because all her mouth wanted was to scream out and call out his name.
And this, she did. Sometimes, she was silent, letting out low moans in response to the things he told her. His words fucked her hard, just as his body did to hers. So intense were the things he said that she nearly teared up. As wild as the sex was, it was getting emotional for her. Nostalgic sex was a thing, and Cheta was going to add it to the list of fucks she had had and given.
Nero was going savage now. He was at that stage that Naza swore was the sweetest part of sex.
“When they’re about to cum, that’s when you start to feel it!”
But Cheta had felt it from the beginning. Every bit of it.
Nero didn’t announce his orgasm, but she saw it coming, and she tightened herself around him, locking him in.
“Fuck. Don’t do that,” he begged, closed his eyes, held tightly to her, and muttered words she couldn’t understand, as he came hard.
She felt him pulsing inside her, even after he stopped moving.
“I can do this every day for the rest of my life,” he said, panting hard.
She wiped sweat off his brow. “Shall we continue?”
“Pity me small na.” He kissed her in pauses and pulled out of her. “I need a drink of water.”
Lustful eyes followed his almost nude body as he walked away from her.
Arin Ray and Babyface were currently singing Always, one of Cheta’s favorite songs. She always marveled at how she and Nero had the same taste in music. She reached for the Bluetooth speaker on the center table and increased the volume a little. Afterwards, she dragged her body off the sofa to pick a box she had come with, containing hash brownies she and Gold had baked earlier. She went into the bedroom with the box.
“What’s that?” Nero asked, emerging from the bathroom.
He dove for the box. “You’re the best.”
They sat on the bed together and ate the brownies with a pack of juice they found in the fridge. While eating, they talked business; Laja Towers, specifically. Cheta’s resolve not to sell was beginning to weaken. She was now asking questions that pleased Nero, although she also let him know that she was still strong on ensuring that Laja’s legacy was retained. Nero assured her that he was good on those terms.
They also talked about her work. She was presently running pre-production for a short movie. He told her that he was interested in the details. As she spoke, he looked at her like he was scared that if he looked away, some words might go missing. Such intensity was new to Cheta.
“I know you don’t need my help, but if you ever feel like you’re overwhelmed, call me.”
“I mean it, Cheta. I’m your man now, and it is my duty to make sure you don’t lack anything.”
Cheta nodded, even though she knew that she would try not to burden him with her problems. To divert the conversation, she asked him about the deal he was pursuing in Abuja.
“We didn’t sign o.” He pulled a pillow and laid his head on it. “But they’ll be here in Lagos tomorrow.”
“Yeah. I’ll pop into the office and pop out. Come here.” He kissed her, rubbing her bum softly. Cheta giggled. She was high from the brownies already.
“Are you high?” Nero asked. She giggled again. “Look at your eyes.” He teased her, she smacked him. “I like it when you’re high. You’re extra juicy, extra sweet, extra everything…”
Cheta tried to move away from him, but he drew her back, bringing her body to rest over his.
“For some reason, your dick is hard again.”
“You are the reason,” he sang, mimicking Celine Dion. Cheta found it incredibly funny and she burst into laughter. Nero was amused by her mirth. “Your highness is so sexy.” He circled her nipple with his finger.
“Nero…” she squirmed.
“Will you ride my face?”
“Ride your face? Like, right now?”
“Is there a better time?”
“Our test results are not out, Nero. What if I have something and you catch it?”
“Can’t blame a man for trying. But have you ever ridden a guy’s face before?”
He was aghast. “You’ve never queened before?”
Cheta shrugged. Naza had told her about queening a couple of years ago, and as much as she had watched the act in porn, it had never appealed to her.
“You mean, no man has ever asked you to ride his face before?”
“Tragic. But I’ll be happy to disvirgin you, my domina. Don’t worry, you won’t suffocate me. And even if you did, that’s what makes it fun.”
Smiling, Cheta rocked her clit on his hard but hunched dick. She stopped when she saw a frown on his face, revealing that his mind had gone elsewhere.
“I know this is isn’t a good time, but I need to get this off my chest. It’s been burning on my mind.”
“What is it?”
He played with her waist beads as he spoke. “It’s you and my mom… What’s going on between you two? What are you hiding from me?”
“Hiding?” Cheta tried to smile. “We’re not hiding anything.”
“Cheta, I don’t want there to be any secrets between us. Please, tell me everything.”
“There’s nothing to tell, Nero.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. Only that…”
Cheta let out her breath. She was going to keep her promise to Hadiza about not disclosing the details of what they were planning for her father. She had met with Abeni on Monday, and they had already begun to review the testimonies from the man’s victims. The case was bigger than she had imagined. It wasn’t something she wanted to share with Nero.
“Hey, if my mom is threatening you or anything…”
“No, she’s not.”
“So, what is it?”
“Nero, you’ll come for my cousin’s wedding.”
“I already told you I would. What has that got to do with this?”
“You will meet my parents.”
“And they will be shocked at who you are, once you introduce yourself to them.”
“Where is this leading, Cheta?”
“They will be shocked because your mom and my mom…” Cheta broke off, summoning her next words.
“What happened to them?”
“They were in love with each other a long time ago.”
Nero searched Cheta’s eyes in the dark, confusion on his face. “You’re lying.”
“You’re for real?”
“That’s the secret we’ve been keeping from you.”
Nero lifted his body up, resting on his elbows. “What did you just tell me? My mom was a lesbian?”
Nero shook his head in disbelief, then burst out laughing, throwing his head backwards. “Yo! This is wild!”
“For real, Cheta?”
“Ask her, she’ll tell you.”
“Wow!” He threw his head back on the pillow. “Give me a moment to let this sink in.”
Cheta bent over him and began to kiss his neck to dispel the guilt she felt for lying to him.
“But is that all?” he asked. She kissed his Adam’s apple and brought her face to his.
“And you thought I’d be mad at you if you told me?”
“Look, what those old women did behind closed doors is not my business, to be honest.” He lowered his gaze to her lips. “I’m more concerned about what I’m going to do to you now.”
“I can’t wait.” She was going to kiss him when the doorbell rang.
“It must be ten on the dot. I ordered dinner,” Nero said. “Give me a moment.”
He hurried out to the living room while Cheta entered the bathroom to pee and wash herself. When she came out, she met him walking into the bedroom, now wearing his jeans.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
“Good. Where were we?”
Cheta climbed the bad, standing on it. “Right here.” She pointed downwards. Nero wrapped her waist as she put her arms around his neck, towering over him. As if planned, they both fell into a slow dance, moving to the beats of Snoh Aalegra’s Someone Like You. Cheta also sang along. When the song ended and another came on, Nero lifted Cheta off her feet. She squealed as he fell back on the bed with her without warning.
He shut her up with his mouth, and their lips kept busy for a long stretch. Rocket by Beyoncé was now playing, and it seemed to Cheta that the room had suddenly gotten warm, but it was only the heat from their bodies as they began to move against each other. Finally, their lips separated. Cheta pushed Nero away from her body, but only to have him on his back, so that she could straddle him. She stretched a hand to the nightstand and picked a condom.
“Now, allow me show you how I queen.”
®Sally Kenneth Dadzie @moskedapages