“He’s not home yet?”
Sighing, I gave a downtrodden glance to the clock before standing up to check outside my window for the millionth time, even though I already knew what I’d see once I looked out there. My heart felt heavy.
“No… he’s not.”
“Damn, he must really be mad.”
Carmella was definitely not lying. Luke must have really been mad. Like for real. In all the time that I’d been with him, he’d never stayed out all night like this. And ever since learning that I was pregnant, he’d never ignored my calls—not even when he was pissed off about something. But this time, not only was he not answering my calls—the nigga had actually turned his phone completely off. When I called, it went straight to voicemail. Thinking that maybe he’d just blocked my number to piss me off, I called Carmella and asked her to dial his number for me to see what happened. The result was the same… her call went directly to voicemail. Luke was really in his feelings.
“I need a favor, Carm,” I began with a tone that meant I was about to ask for something that I really wanted but already knew she probably wouldn’t want to do.
“Nuh uh, nope! I am not asking Cree about this. Every time you start actin’ like a bitch and he gets mad, you call me to see if Cree can smooth things over for you. Not this time; you need to deal with your own problems!”
Pouting, I flopped down on the couch, pulling my cashmere blanket over my bare legs. My stomach was twisted up in knots. There was no way that I could get in my bed and go to sleep peacefully until Luke made it home.
“But how you gon’ call me a bitch?”
Sucking her teeth, I could almost see Carmella rolling her eyes on the other end before she replied.
“I said you’re actin’ like a bitch and we both know it’s true. You stay clickin’ on that nigga and then wanna call me cryin’ afterwards. What the hell is going on with you, Jani?”
I sifted through my thoughts for a good excuse for how I’d been acting lately and came up empty. I really couldn’t say shit because Carmella was right, and I knew it. The sad part of it was, I also knew how I was acting was wrong but I couldn’t stop it once I got started. A few months ago, no one could tell me that I wasn’t the happiest that I’d ever been, because I was. I was engaged to the man I loved and had a baby on the way, things were straight between my dad and me, and my law firm was starting to actually make some serious moves.
But all of that happiness I felt came to an end about a month ago.
A little over two months ago, Gerald started working with me and along with him, he brought one of my biggest clients, Wellington & Co. For the first time since my business was started, I was able to pay my own bills without asking Luke for help and could even bring home a small profit. My dreams were finally becoming a reality at the very moment that I’d started to lose hope, thinking that I was stupid for thinking I could run a law firm on my own and would end up being a jobless housewife.
And I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking it, too.
Not Janelle Alexandria Elizabeth-Ann Pickney! A housewife? The two things together didn’t even sound right, but that’s what was happening. I’d sacrificed my goals and ambitions for the sake of love. And maybe to some other woman, it was the ultimate dream to have no responsibilities, no ambitions and simply be the wife of a paid nigga, but to me, that was a complete nightmare.
So my luck changed when Gerald came about, being that he’d interned with Wellington & Co. and was able to convince them to come on as a client. But about a month ago, Wellington & Co. decided that they wanted to pull out after discovering that I was the owner of the law firm Gerald worked at, and finding out about Luke’s criminal history and reputation as the infamous menace of New York.
Losing Wellington & Co. was only the first domino to drop. That same week, I lost three more of my clients for the same reason. Of course they didn’t come right out and say that it was because of Luke, but I could read between the lines. For clients who had previously been satisfied with my services to all of a sudden claim that they had to terminate our business relationship due to a ‘conflict of interest’ was an obvious sign.
In addition to failing in my professional life, two weeks ago I received an email from some random email address that I couldn’t trace. There were no words, but attached to it was a grainy, distorted cell phone sex video of some man, who resembled Luke, and a woman. I couldn’t really tell it was Luke at first, but a few seconds in his voice came through and I knew it was definitely him. Closing the video, I kept the email but didn’t finish the video and never looked at it again. I didn’t bring it up to Luke either.
The date it was taken was from around the time Luke and I had just started messing around so I couldn’t be all that mad because technically he hadn’t cheated on me. But seeing the video, even just the small piece I’d looked at, bothered me all the same. Since then, every time he touched me, it came to mind and severely fucked up my mood.
Lately, I’d started being stingy with having sex with Luke because between feeling nauseous and fat all the time, it was uncomfortable. But even though that was all true, it wasn’t the only reason. No matter how much I tried to push it from my mind, I couldn’t stop thinking about how somewhere out there, some bitch had a video of her and Luke having sex and was using it to fuck with me.
And, baby, believe me when I tell you that the pressure of holding in all this shit had my ass going insane! Some days it felt like I had steam coming out of my ears and was about to boil over. I knew that the way I was treating Luke was my own passive aggressive way of punishing him for doing things that weren’t his fault—he couldn’t help that I was losing out on clients because of the reputation he’d earned way before me. And the video happened before we were a couple so I couldn’t fault him for doing the things a single man was supposed to do.
Still, at the same time, I couldn’t help the rage that took over whenever I thought about what I was losing out on by being with him. His life remained perfectly intact while my shit was collapsing all around me like a tower made of cards. I was pregnant well before the age I’d planned on having children, my career was taking a nosedive, driving me crazy as I tried to hide it, and I was single-handedly destroying my relationship by pushing away the man I loved, simply because another woman had found a way to virtually push my buttons.
Still holding the phone to my ear, I rubbed the back of my neck with my other hand, trying to relieve some pressure.
“I’m just stressed,” I said to Carmella finally. “Maybe it’s the hormones getting to me.”
The piece of me that hated to admit defeat couldn’t even tell my sister about what was going on in my life. I grew tense at the thought of telling her that I’d worked my whole life towards a goal that I was so close to obtaining but now had to let slip away because I was a fool for love.
“Well, you need to take a bubble bath, massage, or something to get a handle on it. Whatever it is you need to do to calm your ass down so you can stop going in on your nigga every damn day… do it!”
“But if you could just ask Cree—”
“I’m not asking Cree shit,” Carmella dismissed me roughly, true to her selfish nature, having little regard for my state of distress. “Besides, we’ve got our own issues.”
She let out her last words along with a giant puff of hot air, making me wonder what could possibly be going on with the two of them. Last I’d heard, everything was peaches and cream—Carmella was in school and Cree was supporting her while she followed her dreams. And by support, I meant that he was spoiling her with all the bells and whistles that came with living the high life as girlfriend to a paid nigga. Besides staying in the books, Carmella stayed in the stores shopping about as much as she also stayed in the club.
“What issues do y’all have?”
“This may sound stupid but I don’t want judgement, okay?” Lifting my brow, I stopped myself from reminding Carmella that she’d done more than enough dumb things in her past for me to pass judgement on.
“Promise. What is it?”
She expelled air and then there was a pregnant pause.
“Well?” I pushed.
“You ever felt like things were going too well? Cree and I aren’t really having any issues and it’s making me feel…” She paused, trying to collect her thoughts into the right words.
“Like you may be overlooking something in your relationship?” I assisted her. “Everything is just right and you’re waiting for the drama that is definitely on the way?”
“Yes!” Carmella’s voice pierced through my eardrum so forcefully that I had to pull the phone away. “That’s exactly how I feel.”
Shaking my head, I replied, “Carm, you do this all the time… in every relationship, you eventually go looking for drama. Why can’t you accept that you deserve to be happy?”
There was another pause and then Carmella’s voice came through, much lower and more somber in tone than before. “Because every time I’ve gone looking in the past, I’ve found something that snatches away my happiness. Men always disappoint.”
To hear Carmella sound that doubtful about being happy in love saddened me.
“Just because you’ve experienced bad things with men in the past doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll get with Cree. He’s very different from anyone you’ve ever been with,” I reminded her and she snorted as she forced out a tense chuckle.
“You can say that again.”
Before I could inquire further about her personal business, I heard a key enter the lock in the front door and I nearly jumped straight up in the air—a remarkable feat being that I was eight months pregnant and had been lying flat on my back.
“Carm, let me call you later!” I blurted out before quickly hanging up the phone.
My heart thrummed within me and my thoughts ran rampant with things that I should say as soon as I saw him. The door swung open and Luke swaggered in, sexy as ever, instantly making me feel stupid about everything that had happened between us earlier. When I thought on everything we’d been through since the day we decided to be together, it really wasn’t worth it to be fighting over stupid shit.
My breath stalled in my chest when Luke’s fiery eyes rose to meet mine, widening a bit in surprise at seeing me standing across from him. Exhaling softly, he stood in place and ducked his head before running one hand through his hair, which was loose in a messy but sexy halo that hung down far below his shoulders. He pulled his black hoodie over his head and his shirt lifted with it, exposing his washboard abs before he had a chance to adjust it. My lady lips began to throb in response and I squeezed my thighs together in an attempt to control my desire.
“Luke… I’m sorry. For everything.”
Pensively cradling his chin between his thumb and the side of his index finger, he kept his eyes low for a minute, averting away from my stare. I could see the thoughts running through his mind even though I had no idea what he was actually thinking. That simple fact had my emotions on edge.
“Baby, please. Just forgive me. I—I don’t wanna fight anymore.”
Luke still said nothing and made no movements to indicate that he even heard me. The silence around us was so suffocating to me that I could barely breathe. I was at a loss for words to say that I thought could fix our situation, so I bit down on my bottom lip and decided not to say anything at all. He needed space and I was going to give him that for now, and hopefully… hopefully we could set everything straight between us in the morning.
With my shoulders slumped over in defeat, I began to walk to our bedroom and was almost there when I heard his heavy steps echoing behind mine. In the next instant, his hand was on my forearm, gripping me hard before he pulled me back, fully knocking me off balance. I stumbled backwards into him and he cradled me lovingly in his arms, hugging me gently from behind.
Tears sprouted in the corners of my eyes as I relaxed into him. He pressed his lips to my temple and kissed me so softly that, for a second, I wondered if I’d imagined it until he roughly whipped my body around, gripped my chin firmly with his hand, and crushed his lips against mine, kissing me like the roughneck I knew him to be.
His hand probed all of the curves of my body, rubbing and caressing me while sucking hungrily on my lips and sampling every bit of my mouth with an eager tongue. When he forced my thighs apart and inserted his fingers into my soft spot, I felt my knees go weak. This was the man I fell in love with; the one I’d recklessly risked it all for, throwing caution to the wind. How I could spend so much time pushing him away, I didn’t know.
Without breaking our kiss, Luke lifted me up with ease, as if I didn’t weigh nearly an extra thirty pounds, and laid me gently across the bed. Then he separated his lips from mine, leaving me no time to mourn their departure before placing his head between my legs. I felt his breath gliding across the sensitive skin of my clit and I squeezed my eyes shut in sweet anticipation.
The second his tongue pushed through to my center, I gasped and nearly came on the spot. He worked me like a pro, exploring every bit of my folds like he’d designed them himself. He knew exactly what moves set my body on fire and in less than a few minutes, I was thrashing and crying out for mercy, gripping his soft hair in my hands as he lapped eagerly between my thighs. Though I begged him to stop, Luke only went deeper, bringing more intensity to my already Earth-shattering orgasm.
“Daaaamn, baby!” I was positive I couldn’t take anymore but Luke’s nature was to consistently push the limits. Reaching down, I tried to push him away but he clamped his lips around my nub, sucking hard as I struggled not to lose my mind.
“Stop running from me.”
He released me from his grip and I was able to somewhat catch my breath. When I opened my eyes, I was pleased to see him holding his long, thick rod in his hand, stroking it gently while staring at me like a starved animal, even though I’d already given him a good meal. Once again aroused, I licked my lips in craving. I wanted nothing more than to feel him inside of me.
Like a genie, he granted my wish and entered me slowly, easing in with caution as if he didn’t want to hurt me. Shifting my hips, I opened wide and pushed against him, forcing him to slide in a little faster. My lips parted and my head fell back when he’d filled me completely and started stroking me, long and hard, bringing me quickly to the brink of another climax.
He grabbed my nipples, squeezing hard as he slammed into me. I clenched my teeth together, loving the feel of his hard body against mine. His lips brushed across my neck and then he began sucking and kissing as he rocked his hips into mine, making love to me in the sweetest way. A low growl escaped through his lips before he hoisted my thighs up with his strong hands and started thrusting into me with sharper strokes, still at a steady pace and not too fast, but with more vigor, grinding into me hard like he was trying to merge our flesh into one.
Trembling subtly, I sucked in a breath and rode the waves he was stirring up through my middle, until I was on the brink of another orgasm. I parted my lips to speak; I wanted to beg him not to stop but I was so overcome with how I felt. Luke began to work into me a little faster and I knew that he was approaching his climax. A cold breeze blew over my body and my skin prickled. Nearing my moment, I gnashed my teeth together and then went stiff as a board. I came for the second time at the same exact moment that Luke released into me, breathing heavily, his eyes closed while he enjoyed the moment.
“Pregnant pussy really is the best pussy,” he enthused with a grin while looking down at me. I rolled my eyes and but couldn’t stop the edges of my lips from turning up into a smile.
“Yo’ lil’ evil good pussy havin’ ass.” He slapped me on my thigh and then stood up and walked to the bathroom. As light-hearted as it had sounded, I knew what he’d said was only a half joke. I had been acting evil and I needed to get myself together before I messed around and lost my man.
Seconds later, Luke casually whisked out of the bathroom holding a Heineken he’d stashed in some hiding spot I knew nothing about and laid on the bed next to me with his white tank pulled back behind his neck, showing off his washboard abs. Although seeing him that way was always so sexy to me, I felt my stomach suddenly begin to churn when my thoughts went back to the sex tape. My eyes filled with tears and before I knew it, one escaped and slid down my cheek. Sniffing, I wiped it away quickly and turned away so that I wasn’t facing him.
No sooner than the lie had left my lips, Luke had pulled me onto my back, jumped on top of me, straddling me between his thighs, and pinned my arms to the bed by my wrists. The sparkle in his eyes told me that, although he was being playful, it wasn’t all just fun and games. He was suspicious and he wasn’t going to back down until I came clean.
“You’re lying.” Cocking his head to the side, his eyes narrowed in on my damp cheek. “Nigga, what you cryin’ for?”
My eyes shot to away from his face and my thoughts merged momentarily. I felt childish about what I was about to ask him but I knew I had to anyways. When women gushed about how wonderful it was to be pregnant, no one ever touched on the insecurities that came along with it. No one ever spoke about how hard it was to watch your expanding waistline and wonder if your man’s attraction to you ever changed.
No one ever spoke about how it was hard to keep yourself from asking yourself if he was disgusted by the way you looked, wobbling around like Humpty Dumpty the egg, with dry ass hair, dry ass skin, and acne that you thought you’d left in your early teenage years. And, then there was this stupid sex tape, which reminded me of Luke’s overactive sex life before me… did he wish he could go back to those days and, once again, experience the high men got from jumping into new pussy each day? Was I enough?
“Are you happy with me?” I almost whispered. “I mean… with me being pregnant and all. Am I still beautiful to you?”
A blank stare settled in his eyes and I held my breath in anticipation of what he would say. Biting down on my bottom lip, I shifted my eyes to his navel and watched the rise and fall of his breaths.
“Get the fuck out of here, Nell. You for real?” he asked and then lifted my head up by my chin.
“Look at me… you serious?”
More tears came as I nodded my head shamefully, mashing my lips together to keep from crying. Luke made a scoffing noise and shook his head, his messy mane of a ponytail shaking slightly behind it.
“I want you to listen to me… not hear me, I need you to listen,” he started, leaning down close to my face so that he could have my full attention. “There is no woman on this Earth who is more beautiful to me than you are right now. Yeah, I know I joke around, saying shit about your fat ass belly, but that’s all it is. A joke. You’re the woman I love more than I love my damn self. And you’re carrying my child… ain’t shit anybody can do to make me want them more than you.”
Relief flooded through my veins, sending chills all throughout my body. I nodded my head and wiped at my damp eyes, sniffling my tears away. Luke gazed at me for a few seconds longer before bending down towards my shoulder, as if he were about to go for a kiss, and sinking his teeth into my skin, clamping down just hard enough to make me wince.
“Ow! What did you do that for?” I knotted my brows together and rubbed my throbbing shoulder.
“Because I hate that shit… don’t ever doubt yourself when it comes to me, Nell. What kind of man am I if I can’t show you where you stand with me? If you feel like another bitch got somethin’ on you, what does that say about how I’ve been doing with makin’ you understand how much I love you and how beautiful you are?”
Eyes narrowed and pinned on mine, he waited for me to respond, but I could only shrug. I’d never looked at it that way. Luke had never given me a reason to feel insecure. I could honestly say there was no reason for me to feel threatened by another woman. Maybe I needed to take the same advice I’d given to Carmella and stop looking for something wrong when there was nothing.
“I guess it’s the… hormones,” I replied and offered him a weak smile.
His frown broke and he smirked before rolling off of me and grabbing his Heineken from off the nightstand next to him.
“Just like you said earlier… don’t be blamin’ shit on my baby girl. This one ain’t on her; all this is just you. You better straighten that shit out before I put yo’ ass in time out. Make you thug it out in the guest room with that lil’ ass sheet you got on the bed in there.”
He was insane, right? I couldn’t be the only one to think that. Even so, I had to admit that I couldn’t live without him in my life.