She didn’t tell him about Camilla’s visit when he got back home yesterday and she’d forbidden Catia to say a word about the visit either to Mia or Dominic. Of course, the talkative housekeeper had only reluctantly agreed.
She wasn’t sure why she was reluctant to let him know his ex—or maybe still present girlfriend—had come to the house to warn her off him. Maybe it was her pride not wanting him to know anything he did with other women affected her. And it shouldn’t anyway. They had a marriage of convenience and not a love relationship.
Kaine frowned and shifted on the armchair. Juliet had had a different view though.
Kaine, a woman must fight for her man and her marriage. You are now his wife. Don’t just stand aloof, defend your marriage.
That was what she’d counselled. It was a counsel that highly tempted given her incomprehensible feelings towards him lately. She was attracted to him. Attracted and something else she wasn’t exactly sure what how to define.
They weren’t emotions she’d quite experienced before but still she recognised the feeling of attraction. She was always too aware of him when he was in same room with her—or even in same house. She tingled when he spoke in that deep, drawling voice of his. And quavered when he as much as gave her a stroke. And his kisses? They tore every good sense out of her head and made her ache for more.
She hadn’t thought she’d ever like him or come to feel anything this confusing for him. But there it was, an unwavering desire she could not suppress or escape.
But was that all she felt?
Her frown turned into a scowl as she recalled Camilla’s bragging. She had no doubt she’d been telling the truth when she said she was—well, had been Dominic’s lover. She’d figured out that much after her first visit and her condescending attitude at the hotel. She had been his lover but if she still was, was something she didn’t know. A part of her doubted it. A part of her believed—wanted to believe that he wouldn’t be the sort of man to cheat on his wife.
Not that cheating should apply with their kind of marriage.
But still she hoped. Her heart hoped, so she chose to disbelieve Camilla’s claims. Particularly the one that Dominic would divorce her and get back with her. He had told her that their family didn’t believe in divorce, hadn’t he? And he was acting like a man, a husband determined to win over his wife and make their marriage work.
Or was it a way to get her into bed he was after?
Kaine sighed and decided she’d done enough thinking. She’d made a decision to ignore Camilla and her threats and that was what she was going to do. She rose from the armchair and walked to the door.
Downstairs, she found Raquel playing with Tobi on the rugged floor of the mini parlour.
“Boa tarde, Madame.” She greeted with her usual sunny smile. “Baby and me having fun with toys.”
Kaine smiled. “I can see that. But he seems to be having the more fun with your hair though.” She added as Tobi reached out a chubby hand to pull on Raquel’s long curls. “Is mama outside?”
“Yes. In garden.” Raquel replied amid gurgling laughter as she uncurled Tobi’s fingers from her hair.
“Okay. I’ll join her.” Kaine was still smiling as she headed for the side door that led out to the garden.
She’d quickly found out that Dominic had been right when he said there’d be enough help with the baby, she’d have time for herself. She did. So much time she didn’t even know what to do with it. But whenever she saw Tobi with Mama or with the girls who worked at the house, her heart sang with joy at her decision to marry Dominic and come to Praia with him.
Tobi was home. In his true home. In the home of his father. Whatever happened, she’d be happy she’d at least done that for him.
She inhaled reflexively as she walked into the garden, breathing in cool, sweet smelling refreshing air. She saw Mia squatted beside a flowery plant, hand-weeding, and walked towards her.
Mia heard her footsteps and turned. “Ah, you finally come out of the house, bonita.” She said, her brown eyes alight with a welcoming smile. “You had a good rest?”
Kaine wasn’t exactly sure what the Portuguese word she’d said meant but it sounded really nice that she found herself smiling back. She was never ill at ease with Mia. No one at the house was. She was the kindest, friendliest person she ever met. Except of course when she didn’t want to be friendly, like she hadn’t been when Camilla first came to the house.
“I really couldn’t sleep, so I decided to come out and help you.” She stooped down and reached for the hand draw hoe lying by Mia’s left foot.
But she knocked off her hand. “I don’t need help. Never need help when I garden.” She picked the short handle tool herself and started scraping with it. “And if you can’t rest, then I recommend you go out.”
“But yes, go out and have some fun.” Mia scooped up plucked-out weeds and poured them into a trash can close by. “You don’t have to stay cooped up in the house all the time. It’s not good for you. You’re young, beautiful.” she sent her a wink. “You should do what young people do and not stay in the house all the time with an old woman.”
And what exactly did young people do? Because she had absolutely no idea since staying cooped up in the house has been the story of her life. “The thing is I don’t really know anywhere here.” That sounded like a better excuse than I’ve never been the social type.
But Mia brushed it aside with a wave of her gloved hand. “But that is nonsense! You don’t know anywhere and you won’t know anywhere unless you go somewhere, not so?”
Kaine shrugged at the inquiring look. “I suppose so. But I don’t—”
“You say but too much. Forever protesting because you’re afraid of what you might discover.” She dumped the hand hoe and heaved smartly to her feet. “Beauty should not stay hidden, you know. Did not our Saviour say that light cannot be hidden under a table?”
“Ah… yes, he did.” But Kaine seriously doubted Jesus was talking about physical beauty when he’d made that statement.
“There. The Lord knows that what is good must be seen. It must show itself; shine that others may see it and enjoy it.” Mia angled her head to the side and studied her. “You don’t think much of how beautiful you are, do you?”
Kaine shook her head. She’d always known she was beautiful. People said it often enough and she used to get stares from the young men around the neighbourhood back home. But it had never been something she dwelled on. There had been times, she’d even considered it a disadvantage since it seemed to stop her father from letting her go hustle like everyone else seemed to be doing.
“Well, you should.” Mia recommended. “A woman must never be carried away by her physical looks but she must not be completely or naively unaware of it either.” Her soft mouth curved into a smile. “God gave us beauty that we may bless the world with it. My Nico—Nick’s papa—he used to say that the best thing he loved in me was that I knew I was beautiful and was not pompous about it and yet, knew how to use it to my best advantage. You know your problem, Kaine?”
Though Kaine shook her head, she could almost guess what her response was going to be.
“You don’t use that beauty God freely gave you to your advantage. You waste it. But today you won’t.” She turned and resumed her squatted position. “You go out. Jamar will drive you. Go have fun. Take Tobi with you. See the Island again.” She turned and smiled as if a magical idea had struck her. “Go see Nick with the baby. You two can have lunch together. He will like that.”
Kaine wondered if Dominic would really like her just dropping by at the hotel without notice. “Oh, but I—” She started to protest.
But of course Mia interrupted her. “Didn’t I say you say but too much? Enough of it. Off with you. Dress up real nice. Look beautiful for your man.” She chuckled. “I used to do that often—dress up and go see my Nico at the winery or the hotel. It always pleased him and we will have ourselves an hour of pure pleasure… and not just satisfying our appetite for food, no? We satisfied other more important appetites.” Her eyes twinkled with a wicked gleam as she said this. “One must always satisfy one’s many appetites, right, my sweet girl?”
“Ah…” Dear Lord, if she was light in complexion, her cheeks would be tinged in bright red. “Okay. I’ll go out. I guess I can do with some… ah, air.”
Mia laughed. “Oh, Kaine, you always look like a real innocent. I think it’s your heart. Your heart is innocent and so, it shows in everything you do. Go, my child. Go charm your Nick.” She chuckled again and turned back to her plants.
Kaine stood a moment feeling flushed and wondering where the tiny little butterflies swarming about underneath her navel came from. “Okay. I’ll see you later then, mama.”
“Have fun, bonita.” Mia flung her a grin over her shoulder.
Since she found Catia and not Raquel with the baby when she came inside, she asked her to bring up the baby and come help her dress him.
“Oh, I love romantic outings!” Catia gushed as she changed Tobi’s clothing.
Kaine rolled her eyes inside the closet. “This is not a romantic outing, Catia. I am going out alone.”
“But you will be seeing the boss, no?” She let out a delighted giggle. “Every lover loves a surprise. Tomas, he loves it when I surprise with a visit. Then he goes all…” she seemed to struggle to find the right word. “Crazy, you know.” She finally decided. “Tomas wants to do many things with me, but I tell him to wait. A little wait intensifies passion, yes?” She let out another giggle, obviously delighted with herself. “But he kisses so good and then I almost forget I want him to wait. A lover’s kiss can make a woman forget hers senses, not so, Madame?”
Because she’d momentarily been thinking about Dominic’s kisses, Kaine found herself flushing and to cover her embarrassment, she drew out a cotton dress. “What do you think of this dress? It looks nice, right?”
Catia turned and quickly clucked her tongue. “Too ordinary. Not good.” She bent, swiftly pulled on Tobi’s shoes and then settled him into the deep cushioned couch in the closet room before swinging over to hers side. “I help you pick nice dress, yes?” And not waiting for her response, she snatched the beige cotton dress off her hand and hung it back in the closet. “You will need something soft and… ah, what’s the word?”
Sexy? Kaine said to herself, watching her as she rummaged her closet.
“Ah, yes… sexy.” Catia tossed her a quick grin as if she’d read her thought. “A woman don’t look ordinary when she go see her man. She must look beautiful, sexy… divine. He is to see her and then go crazy. Good crazy, of course.”
Kaine bit the inside of her cheek to stop a chuckle. She wondered what good crazy would look like with Dominic. Maybe it would be his brown eyes lighting up when he saw her and his full, gorgeous lips curving in a smile and then brushing soft kisses on her own lips. And then…
“Ha, I find the right dress.” Catia delighted announcement broke into her own crazy thoughts. She pulled out a dress on a hanger and shook it in front of her. “Perfect dress, no?”
It was an asymmetric spandex dress with one flutter sleeve and the other a band-strap, and Kaine decided it certainly was sexy.
“Isn’t it too much for just an afternoon outing?” She protested. She’d protested too when Dominic had picked it out in the store.
“For afternoon outing, yes, too much. But for seeing husband at a big hotel like La Quinta and very fine man like boss? No, it is not too much but just perfect.” She gestured with the dress. “Come, I help you dress and I do your makeup. I am very good at makeup. I do it soft and light like you like it. You will see. Quick, undress.”
Since protesting again will do no good, Kaine started to unbutton her top.
Kaine felt absolutely sexy as she stepped into the spectacular lobby of La Quinta despite the fact that she had a baby hanging by her shoulder. Catia had taken one look at her after the makeup session and dressing and had cried out several words in Portuguese before exclaiming—‘you look much-much sexy’.
It wasn’t the words but the look in her eyes that had instantly boosted her confidence and she was still riding on that confidence as she strolled past equally beautiful and divinely dressed guests. Two or three shot her curious, appreciative glances and her confidence spiked. She wondered how Dominic would look at her when she entered his office.
She hoped he would go good crazy… at the very least.
She was going to head for the elevator when she remembered Kanayo, the Nigerian bar manager she’d met on Saturday and decided to stop over and say hello. He had, after all, been quite friendly and was the only Nigerian she knew so far in Praia.
He was sitting on a bar stool and sent her a quick smile as soon as he saw her. “Boa tarde, ma’am.” He greeted, rising to his feet. “Welcome to our bar.”
“Boa tarde, Kanayo.” Kaine smiled back. “And please, you can call me Kaine. I think I am way too younger than you to be called ma’am.”
Kanayo dipped his head. “It’s an honour to call you that, Kaine. Is this the youngest Kojo-Edwards then? He sure is a handsome fella. Like a true Kojo-Edwards.”
“Thank you. He’s asleep now. Always falls asleep when riding in a car.” She gave a soft chuckle. “Um, I just wanted to say hello. I actually came to see Nick. We—Tobi and I—thought we’d give him a surprise.”
“And I am sure he would love the surprise.” His eyes were darkly appreciative as they watched her.
Kaine found herself suddenly self-conscious. “Oh well, I hope he considers it a pleasant surprise and that we won’t be interrupting his work.” She laughed a trifle nervously and turned. And all at once the laughter died.
Dominic and Camilla were coming towards them and she had her hand crooked around Dominic’s. He was looking down at a paper in his hand but Camilla had her eyes on her and her expression was triumphantly smug.
Dominic raised his head and when he saw her, he jolted.
Kaine sensed the jolt not from any physical startled budge but from the quick shock in his eyes before it was replaced by the glowing pleasure that now filled them. She had wanted that very look. She’d been anticipating it all through the drive down there. And she would have preened underneath it if that shocked look hadn’t preceded it.
Why would he be shocked if he wasn’t doing something wrong?
The thought hurt but she firmly buried it and beamed a smile. “Hello, Nick. We thought we should surprise you, Tobi and I.”
“And a lovely surprise it is.” He leaned in and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “You look absolutely beautiful.” He said softly.
It was what she’d hoped to hear, so why was she displeased instead of bursting with joy? “Thank you.” She managed an easy smile.
“Hello, Kaine.” Camilla still had the smug look in her eyes even though her hand was no longer around Dominic’s. “It looks like you came for a family visit. But the little one has fallen asleep, hasn’t he? Maybe it would have been better if you stayed home with him as babies tend to tire easily of long trips.”
“Do you have experience with babies, Camilla?” Kaine refused to acknowledge or return her patronising greeting. And refused to acknowledge that she looked gorgeous in the red A-line flared, above-knees dress. “Because if you don’t, then I suggest you refrain from offering advice that spring from ignorance.”
The smug look vanished and venom darkened the hazel coloured eyes. “One does not have to have had a baby to boast of experience, Kaine. It is clear the little one is already tired, which is why he sleeps so. A mother should be more concerned about the welfare of her infant child… at least that is what my own mother taught me.”
“Tobi sleeps, not because he is tired but because he’s been riding in a car. And Kaine is very much aware what her son needs better than anyone, Camilla.” Dominic spoke in a quiet forbidding tone. His eyes equally as forbidding as they shot Camilla a quelling glance.
One part of her appreciated his quick defence, the other refused to forget the way they’d cosily walked in.
“Come, querida, we’ll go to my office.” Dominic reached for her free hand.
“But Nick, we do have to go over the advert templates.” Camilla protested. “The magazine is waiting to hear from us and we cannot further delay them. The publication must be out next week.”
“Then you handle them, as I’m sure you can.” Dominic sounded dismissive and he didn’t even bother to look at her. “My wife and son are here and so, in greater need of my attention.”
Kaine would later curse herself for her annoyance-caused hastiness but at that moment all she could think of was how Camilla had had her hand on his and he hadn’t been cold and dismissive then.
“No, Nick, you can go ahead and continue with your work. Tobi and I were actually just taking a drive around the Island and wanted to stop over and see you. We’ve done that… at least, I have. Him, he’s busy with his sleep.” She let out a pretentious gay laugh. “You have work to do and we shouldn’t be keep you away from it.”
“It’s all right, Nick. I think since my little man here refuses to flicker his eyes open, he might really be in need of his bed.” She turned to Kanayo, who’d quietly retreated behind the bar table. “Nice to see you again, Kanayo. Have a good day.”
Her smile still easy and friendly, she returned her gaze on Dominic. He was looking thoroughly displeased and that gave her some pleasure. “We’ll see you at home, Nick.”
He seemed like he was about to argue, then he shifted his shoulders. “All right, we will see at home. Was it Jamar who drove you over?”
She simply inclined her head.
“Good. He is always careful.” He leaned in but this time, he kissed her on her lips. “Take care, querida.” He murmured against her mouth before straightening up.
“I will.” She kept the smile as she turned.
“Goodbye, Kaine.” Camilla called.
The gloating in her voice was unmistakable and that was when Kaine regretted succumbing to her anger at seeing them walk in together.
But despite her pain and the anger that still brimmed underneath the surface, she turned and gave her the sweetest smile. “That sounded too final. We shouldn’t say goodbye, Camilla, not when this is not over.”
She saw the quick flash of annoyance before she swept around and walked out of the bar.
Mia and Catia were shocked to see them back so soon.
“Nick was not at the hotel when you two got there?” Mia asked, a mild frown on her forehead.
“Yes, he was. But he had a lot of work and so we decided to come back home.” Though the smile was faltering now and she was tired of keeping it up, Kaine still managed to beam it as she responded.
“He chose work over you? With you looking this sexy?” Catia looked astounded.
“Shush, foolish girl!” Mia chided her. “That is all right, my dear. I think you look tired. Catia will send up a tray for you and then you can rest, all right?”
Kaine warned herself not to cry at the older woman’s gentle, understanding tone. “That will be nice. Thank you, mama.” She said with her forced smile.
“One never fails until one gives up. Remember that, my sweet girl.” Mia said quietly.
She said nothing, just turned and walked up the stairs.
In their bedroom, she put a still sleeping Tobi down in his cot and then plodded to their bed. She pressed her hand to her mouth and bit back the sob even as the tears started down her cheeks.
Oh God, why had she fallen in love with a man who was obviously still having an affair with his girlfriend? Why did this feeling she’d been having have to be love? Why did she have to fall in love with Dominic Kojo-Edwards who only married her just to get his nephew home?
And because the love both hurt and infuriated her, Kaine ground out a low-voiced cuss. “Damn you, Nick!”