Nathan knocked lightly on the dark-oak door. At the quiet ‘come in’, he opened the door and strode into the exquisitely furnished and totally feminine bedroom.
His mother was sitting in front of the ivory, antique dressing mirror.
He watched her, smiling, as she wiped her face with a skin cleansing wipe. At fifty-six she still looked so beautiful, so young. Her milk-chocolate skin was still so clear and smooth, no much sign of ageing at all. Her smooth oval face and small nose, so like Toinette’s, were practically wrinkleless.
Tonia twisted slim long neck to smile at him. “I knew it was you knocking on my door this night.”
Nathan grinned and walked to her side. He bent down and kissed her on her cheek. “You look beautiful.”
“Even at fifty-six?” She asked in a truly feminine manner.
“Even more so at fifty-six.”
She laughed with pleasure. “You were always a charmer… just as your father was.”
“You can always count on an Abayomi-Phillips.” Nathan grinned moving to sit on the blue-flowery made bed.
Then watched quietly as her son licked his lips, trying to find the perfect way to phrase the question that was uppermost in his mind. He was so like his father – so handsome, so kind and compassionate, so full of fun and charm; the same thoughtful look in the eyes and slight tilt of the chin when worried or nervous – truly a chip off the old block.
“A lovely amazing evening.” She said standing up from the dresser.
“Yeah, it was.” He nodded, took a deep breath and decided to hit the nail on the head. “What did you think of her?”
Ambling to the bed, she sat down beside him. “That is a question I’ve been waiting for some time now to hear you ask me.” She said softly.
“Really. I’ve waited for a girl… a woman to mean enough to you, so you’d bring her home to meet your mama. To matter enough, so you’d want… need to know what I thought of her.”
“So what’s your verdict… now that I’ve brought her home?” Nathan grinned.
“I think she is beautiful.” She said lightly. His lips curved, he’d been expecting that. “And I don’t just mean her sheer, exquisite physical beauty… that got me thinking where the heck are all the Miss Nigeria beauty pageant crew to discover such a rare beauty.”
“She’s beautiful… on the inside.” She continued. “The kind that is not easily seen or appreciated. She has a simplicity and genuineness that shows in her unpretentious loving friendship with Kike, in the easy affection she has for Toinette and even in the nervousness she felt walking into the house to meet Nana and me.”
Tonia smiled, saw Nathan smile back. “Also perceptible is her pain and her fear of being hurt. All well tucked away at the background. But still there.” She added.”
“I don’t want to hurt her, mum. I…”
“You love her and want to protect her.” Tonia finished the sentence. She’d seen the way he looked at her, the way he couldn’t stop looking at her. “You love her… but you cannot protect her. She must face her demons and conquer them.”
Nathan looked at his mother’s calm gentle face, and sighed. He was about to say something, when the door opened and Nana stepped in.
“Hey, young man, I do believe Toinette is waiting impatiently for you to come do the bedtime honours.” Nana said in her sotto deep voice.
Nathan sighed again, getting up from the bed. “And yet she keeps announcing, ‘I’m not a child anymore dad’.” He shook his head as he made for the door.
The ladies laughed. “Goodnight.” They chorused.
“Goodnight Ladies.” He responded, shutting the door after him.
Nathan sighed deeply. Her hand felt so warm and soft in his, so supple. A whiff of her perfume seemed to fill the night air, seducing his senses. She was wearing a pair of black leggings and a long sky-blue T-shirt, and as always, she looked simply alluring and sexy.
His heart beat seemed to thump and beat faster whenever she was a within sight, doing a break dance and a rumba all at once. She seemed to open his vision and cloud his senses all at once – it was like he could see a whole new world out there and yet unable to reach for it.
He’d never be in love… he’d lusted after, been attracted a couple of times but never once had he felt like his very breath belonged to another. He felt incomplete without her. Nathan exhaled slowly.
Valerie felt so content strolling by his side. She’d never felt this peace and contentment with a man before. Just being beside him, holding unto his cool strong hands, made her feel safe and protected, like nothing could ever hurt or wound her again.
She sighed and sniffed as they strolled past bright pink, purple, yellow and red flowers springing from different kinds of plants and shrubs. Leaves and flowers alike seemed to swing and float as the cool night breeze brushed gently against them. It was beautiful. They seemed to fill the night air with romantic scents and colour.
Nathan guided her to the gazebo, zipping down the waterproof netted flaps, he led her to the wooden sofa.
She sank down into the dark brown cushions.
He sat beside her, raised her hands to his lips. “It’s so nice to have you here.”
“It’s nice to be here. Your mother was… is amazing – friendly, kind, easy going… and so is Nana too. I like them.”
“The feeling is mutual.”
Valerie angled her head. “Really?”
Nathan chuckled. “Really, really.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” She said, then sighed deeply.
“And what’s that for?” He asked.
“Oh, nothing, just loving this place.”
“And the man beside you?” His voice was sombre.
“I guess I’m liking him too.” She said lightly.
“That’s nice to know.” He said curving his head to kiss her palm. “And so you don’t wonder, I’m liking you too.”
He leaned closer to her. “uh hmm, I like your luscious plump lips.” She hmmed, sending shivers down his spine. “And darn, I love when you make that sound.”
He leaned down and took her lips slowly. Just melding their lips slowly into one. He tasted her – she tasted of wet glossy strawberry and sweet chocolate and a tang of grapefruit. He sank in and savoured the taste.
Valerie moaned deeply. God, it felt so right, it always feels so right – like his lips were meant to do soul dances with her own. She opened her mouth and welcomed him in.
His tongue brushed lightly over hers and a surge of pleasure gushed through her. She moaned again – deep, hot, wanting, demanding – as passion ignited deep inside her, running wild and free, from her wild beating heart to the hot wetness slinking down her legs. She felt her knees weaken and her body go boneless as she leaned into him.
He wanted to sink in – deeper and deeper, just drown in her… he wanted to push down into the sofa and just loose himself in her, but he knew he had to wait.
So drawing his hands regretfully from her dark hair, he laid them on her quivering shoulders and pushed back a little. Laying a light kiss on her forehead, he drew her warm groping hands from under his shirt.
Valerie’s heavy-lidded eyelids flustered open, a puzzled questioning light in their depth.
“One day soon we will not have to stop until we are both spent.” He promised kissing her again on the forehead.
She withdrew her hands, laying them on her laps.
God, she’d wanted him to slide his own hands underneath her T-shirt, fondle and taste her tingling breasts and… just make love to her right there and then.
She could still feel him right between her legs and he hadn’t even touched her there or anywhere else really, for that matter.
And yet she’d lost total control, just lost all sense and propriety. What…
“I was just twenty when Sonia told me she was pregnant.”
Valerie’s head shot up at Nathan’s deep quiet voice cut into her thoughts.
“I’d gone to see her as I always did at a room she shared with her girlfriend off campus. We’d had sex like we always did – adventurous and uninhibited. Then casually as if talking about the weather, she’d announced she was pregnant – two months gone already.” Nathan exhaled.
Getting to his feet, he slide his hands into the pockets of his baggy sweat pants.
Valerie was quiet. They’d never really talked about Toinette’s conception before, except the one time he’d said that her birth had been a life changing experience for him. He’d called her the greatest miracle in his life.
“I was shocked. Shocked and scared.” Nathan continued. “I’d just celebrated my twentieth birthday two months before.” He laughed shaking his head. “Guess you could say the pregnancy was a birthday surprise.”
He sighed. “So here I was twenty and a three hundred level undergraduate and being told I was about to become a father.”
“I felt used… trapped.” He shook his head. “We’d had consensual sex over and over… and I still felt used. Talk about self-centeredness.” He leaned against the wooden table. “I panicked and started screaming a whole lot of obscenities at her… she returned them – word for word – Sonia was no doormat. I ended up stalking out – angry, hurt and really, really scared.”
“You were twenty, you had a right to be scared.” She said softly. “And so did she.”
He nodded. “Yeah. We were both scared shitless, I guess.”
He came back to sit beside her. “I went straight to Duncan and told him. He panicked with me… but only for a few minutes and then he calmed down and asked what I was going to do? And it occurred to me there and then… that I didn’t want my child aborted. I told Duncan this and to this very day, his next words are the dearest and most touching he’s ever said to me. He said – I am proud of you.”
Nathan smiled and shook his head. “I’d just gotten a girl pregnant at twenty and because I wanted the baby born, my best friend and brother was proud of me, ironic but yet courage-restoring.” He smiled a little. “With that new courage, I went straight to Surulere to tell my mum.”
“She just looked at me for a long moment, then she slapped me. Then she pulled me into her arms and hugged me.” Nathan exhaled deeply.
“Long story short – I went back to Sonia that same day and told her I wanted her to keep the baby. She laughed and told me to stop kidding around, she was heading to the doctor that very evening to get rid of the pregnancy.”
“I pleaded with her. Promised to stand by her, no matter what. She cursed and abused me – I was selfish and thoughtless. I could get on with my life but hers would be over. If she’d known, she wouldn’t have told me at all… wished she hadn’t.”
He rose to his feet again.
“I left her, sure I’d lost my first seed. But the next day, Sonia came over to see me and said she couldn’t go through with the abortion – she’d been scared. But she didn’t want the baby either.”
“Was she in school too?” Valerie asked quietly.
“Sonia? No. She was nineteen and a real wild child. Had to seat for WAEC three times to get her papers and kind of found it hard passing JAMB.” Nathan shrugged. “But she was pretty and above all… willing and available I guess.”
He sighed. “That sounded a little cruel. But it is the truth – I kind of liked her I guess but it was desire mostly.”
She nodded understanding the shallowness and selfishness of youth.
“Anyway, whereas my mum had been understanding, Sonia’s parents were furious – they threw her out of the house.”
Valerie made a sound of pity.
“Mum took her in. She had the baby – it was the happiest day of my life. I looked at this tiny being and I simply fell in love.”
Valerie saw his eyes cloud with emotions.
“I loved her instantly – I hadn’t thought of her or him all through the pregnancy but once she was born and I saw her – I knew she’d changed me forever.”
Nathan laughed, a soft sound of pleasure. “Even then she was so beautiful – so tiny and crinkled and yet so beautiful.”
He sighed and shook his head. “But she didn’t seem to have the same effect on Sonia. Her birth only meant freedom… a long awaited freedom. She left the baby for my mum and Aunty Sochi, and little Chidinma then, to take care of and started going about town – dating again I guess.” He shrugged.
“With the pregnancy, we’d drifted apart and somewhere along the line, I’d lost interest in her sexually – just started seeing her as a woman carrying a child I owed responsibility to. So naturally after the birth and a couple of months rest, she decided to go back to her old wild lifestyle.”
“But mum would not have it. They argued a lot. She registered her for another JAMB. But she just wasn’t interested. She reluctantly wrote the exam and failed. Then her father died and her mother sent for her. And she left. Just packed up and went back home. Not even the smallest interest in her child.”
He said the last simply, not a stem of judgement in his voice. “A couple of months after the burial, while returning from a party with a new boyfriend, they had an accident and they both died instantly.”
“Toinette had been preparing for her second year birthday then. She never really knew her mother.” He stopped and simply stared into night.
Valerie walked to his side, laid a hand on his shoulder. “I’m so sorry. It’s a sad story. I’m sorry for the young girl who never really gave herself a chance at life – maybe because she didn’t really know how to.”
He turned and took her hand. “Yeah, maybe. But her death changed me – made me less reckless, more thoughtful and responsible.”
He looked deep into her eyes. “Valerie, I love you.” Her eyes widened. “I am head over heels, crazy in love with you.”
“I don’t know what to say… or think… or feel.” She whispered.
“Say nothing… just let me love you… and love me too.”
Leaning down he took her plump luscious lips in his, showing her the depth of his love through the slow, gentle kiss.
To be continued…
NB- George Ninian, you dey disturb O! 💕