I sat on the shore and watched the yacht lights bob on the calm waters. Dusk. Dark clouds shadowed the sky and forced me to narrow my eyes at the slowly receding tide. I knew from my education that the tide would recede faster with the rise of the moon and increased gravitational forces.
“She’s a beauty isn’t she?” A voice beside me said.
I turned and saw her and my jaw dropped. I tried to reply but words failed me. It was my hot boss, Mrs. Linet.
“How are you doing Keith?” Mrs. Linet: 43 years old, a Shanelle shawl over her red bikini, an outrageous body of every boy’s desire.
“I’m doing fine Mrs. Linet. Just enjoying the view.”
“Can I join you?” She asked, pointing at the spot on the sand next to me. I nodded and shifted my beach shorts to make room. Together we sat and admired the yacht and the waves slapping gently on its starboard. She was a beautiful luxury boat: 23ft long, white sails flapping in the wind.
Above us Seagulls screamed and landed on the ocean bed, where the tide had retreated. I followed the birds with one eye and watched Mrs. Linet with the other.
“How many more months before you finish your internship program?” She asked.
“Two more months ma’am.”
My phone suddenly went off and I excused myself. She smiled as I walked away from her. “Hi honey, how are you doing?”
“Not so good,” my wife said. “I came home from the grocery store and found the foreclosure sign on the front yard. What are we going to do Keith? They are going to take our house from us!”
I felt the air sucked from my lungs. “I have two more months of internship Nivea and then all these problems will be over. Two more months and we can start making some real money.”
“We don’t have two months babe. If they take the house our credit history will hit rock bottom and we will never be able to get a loan again.”
I knew she was right. “Hey Nivea. Let’s sleep over it. I will be flying home tomorrow and we can figure out something. I promise you that nobody is taking the house from us.”
“That’s what you always say Keith. But you never do anything! For once be a man and actually do something!”
Ouch! That hurt really bad and we were both quiet for a moment. My manhood had been challenged. I was the King of my castle no more.
Shock turned into anger and I readied myself to yell back. But I suddenly remembered that my boss was only a few steps away and I didn’t want her to see that side of me.
Nivea’s voice softened and she reached out to me. “I’m sorry Keith, I shouldn’t have said that.”
My emotions were a mess by this time and I struggled to reply. “Let’s talk tomorrow babe. I love you.”
“I love you too Keith.”
I hanged up the phone and closed my eyes. So near yet so far. Two more months of food stamps and government assistance; two more months before freedom and stability. I walked back and joined Mrs. Linet on the sand.
“Problems at home?” She asked, cleavage hanging, her hands behind her back in the sand.
I risked a glance at her face but her eyes betrayed nothing. “The usual,” I mattered.
“Two more months before you finish your internship,” she continued. “It must be tough for you.”
“There’s no salary Mrs. Linet,” I said. “My wife and I have been surviving for six months.”
She nodded sympathetically. “I started like you, you know?”
“What? For real?” This new revelation rocked me and I did not hide my shock. “How did you get so far ahead?”
She laughed at the look on my face. “Do you have a laptop with you? I could show you.” And before I could answer she added, “What the heck Keith. Let’s go use the one in my room. It’s faster and my room is bigger. I can give you a lot of tips to get you ahead in the game.”
I liked the sound of that. She started walking and I caught myself staring at her rear. The red bikini left nothing to imagination.
The internship was for six moths for a stockbroker position. While other candidates carried master’s degrees, I only had an undergraduate. There was no salary but whoever got hired after six months became a stockbroker for the firm: a licensed professional who buys and sells investments on behalf of individuals and corporations. Salary came with a car and numerous allowances. My life would be set if I could survive two more months.
The internship was a rough road lined with obstacles. We had to build a list of clients or a book of business through cold calls. Cold calls are a method of obtaining new business by making unsolicited calls to potential clients. It entailed effective communication of concepts and ability to sell these concepts over the phone. Rejection was a constant downer to our spirits.
Men and even women noticed as we walked through the halls headed for my boss’ room. Mrs. Linet in a red exotic bikini curved quite an impressive figure. We spoke little as the elevator shot to the top floor. She tipped the elevator man and we walked into a luxurious suite.
“Make yourself at home Keith,” she said as she headed for the bedroom. “I will be back in a moment.”
My heart pounded at the thought of where I was and whom I was with. There were recliner couches and a glass table in the room; a 50-inch TV and a full size refrigerator. Every piece of furniture looked ornate and state of art. I opened the sliding door and walked into a balcony. The sight of the ocean from a bird’s eye view was breath taking. I heard the bedroom door open and quickly rushed back inside.
She walked into the room wearing a red sleeveless mini dress and no shoes. “Martini?” she asked and handed me a fancy glass. I took a sip and closed my eyes at the impeccable taste. It was so much better than the ones at my local pub.
“Okay,” Mrs. Linet said as she joined me on the red suede couch. “Where do we start?” She clicked open the laptop and motioned for me to move closer. I did and the soft fragrance of a sensual perfume drifted into my nostrils. One eye stared at the computer, the other at her slightly exposed thigh.
“I wasn’t always rich,” Mrs. Linet said. “I used to be terrible with money you know. Every time I walked through a mall or grocery store I always ended up buying something that I never meant to. Impulse buying will never get you rich.”
I was listening to what she was saying, sipping my drink too fast. She poured me another drink and continued. “How much does a cappuccino at the gas station cost?”
“Is that a question?” I asked completely caught off guard lusting at her body. “2 to 3 dollars depending on size,” I said.
“I used to be addicted to that,” Mrs. Linet said. “So I said to myself, what if I stop drinking cappuccino, how much money would I save in a year?”
I did the math quickly and almost shouted the answer in an attempt to impress her. “Approximately 1,000 dollars a year.”
“Good job,” she complemented. “At a price of 3 dollars, I saved approximately a thousand dollars a year. So I said to myself, how else can I save money, because that’s what a lot of people forget. It’s not just about how much money we make, or how much we invest, but also about how much we spend.”
She had a great point and an image of my spending list flashed through my head. I really needed to stop buying beer in the middle of the week.
Mrs. Linet brought me a third drink and I found myself relaxing in her presence. So this is how it felt like being rich, I thought. I had to admit that I was enjoying myself.
“So I called my phone company, my cable, electricity and car insurance,” Mrs. Linet continued. “I discussed with them on the various ways I could save with their company. On what TV channels I didn’t need or phone apps that were not relevant. I slashed 20 dollars on my monthly cable, 10 on my cell phone, 20 on my electricity and 15 on my insurance. How much did I save in a year Keith?”
I pulled out my cell phone and did the math. “780 dollars a year,” I whistled. “So you added that to your gas station cappuccino and you get a total of 1,780 dollars’ savings a year.”
Mrs. Linet raised her glass at me. “That’s where you start if you want to become a millionaire.” She had driven her point home and had my full attention.
I stared at her as though she was a genius. Impulsive buying was sucking a generation out of an opportunity to be wealthy. Investing and saving money was somehow the easier part because most people knew about that.
“How did you succeed through your internship?” I asked her as the first buzz hit my head.
“That’s the easy part Keith. You have to be aggressive to achieve what you want. Your job is to accumulate as many accounts as you can through cold calls. You not only target individuals but also businesses. And you must have a heart for rejection. People do not like to be called by strangers.”
Soft music played in the background and I noticed it for the first time. I begun to sway to the beats, my eyes half closed.
“I read your file,” Mrs. Linet said. “You have talent, are relentless, intelligent and an independent spirit. You will have no problem rising to the top.”
Her compliments went straight to my head and I felt pretty good about my chances with the company. It was what every new employee wanted to hear.
“What are you going to do about your mortgage,” Mrs. Linet suddenly asked. “If you lose your home then you will have a real problem in your hands.”
My eyes widened at the topic. “You know about my mortgage?”
“Sorry,” she mumbled. “I overheard some of the conversation with your wife. The wind was blowing in my direction.” Suddenly her hand was on my thigh and she was sitting very close to me. “I can help Keith. You are a good employee and we wouldn’t want to lose you because of bad credit or financial problems.”
“You can help?” I was a little tipsy. Our eyes met briefly and I saw something soft and hypnotizing. She looked so young and beautiful.
“Yes.” She started moving the cursor on the laptop. “We take care of our own Keith. Who do you bank with?”
“Bank of America,” I whispered, hardly believing what was happening. This was too good a solution to be true.
“Account number?” she asked and waited as I fidgeted through my wallet. I gave it to her.
“How about 20,000 dollars?” She said. “Will that cover your expenses?”
My jaw dropped and my eyes gleamed at the thought. Twenty thousand dollars was nothing but change to her. She smiled, leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. “You are so sweet Keith,” she said. “I like the innocent look on your face.” She was back on the laptop typing.
“I swear I will pay you back Mrs. Linet,” I said, trying to regain some dignity. It was hard with the liquor in my blood.
“Just one more click and… there it is. Done!” She suddenly placed the laptop on the table and leaned back on the couch. Her head shifted to the side and landed on my chest. Her hair smelled really good and my arm subconscious went around her shoulder.
“Why are you helping me Mrs. Linet?” I asked.
“I don’t know Keith. You are a nice guy,” she said. “You remind me a lot of who I used to be at your age.” Sigh. “You know what they say about success?”
“If you want something in life you have to go and get it. It’s that simple. People are going to tell you who you are your whole life, you can’t let them. You have to punch back ever so often.”
The laptop’s screensaver suddenly came on and I gasped. It was a photograph of a half naked female on the cover of a fashion magazine. I took a closer look and gasped. It was Mrs. Linet at a younger age.
“Cover shoot for Vogue magazine,” she said, her head still on my chest. “Those were some good days before I joined the cooperate world.”
“I had no idea,” I said. Vogue was only the world’s most influential fashion magazine, with 11 million readers in the US and 12.5 million internationally. The thought that the same luscious body on the cover was the same one in my arms turned me on in a big way.
“Dance with me Keith,” Mrs. Linet suddenly said. It wasn’t a request.
We stood up and she put her hands around my neck. I hesitated then put mine around her waist. For a 43-year-old woman she had a really firm body.
We danced in a seductive way, our faces close to each other. I swayed and stumbled and she caught me with a laugh, her big breasts crushing against my chest. She did not pull back and I did not want her to. She was married, but nobody was asking.
Everything felt unreal and my head was spinning. I felt her full cherry lips on mine and instantly reciprocated with a burning desire. I kissed her right back with the passion of a teenager and she knew that she had me. My hands started exploring her body and she quickly stopped me.
“Go easy Keith,” she whispered. “We have all night.”
I was caught in the heat of the moment and didn’t know what I was doing. And with all the blood flowing away from my brain I didn’t care. The time was now and she, with her Beyonce hips, was the fantasy woman of my desire.
We moved the party over to the bed and she lay down on her belly. How could a body look so perfect? I moved over and stood next to her.
“Keith,” she moaned my name. “Can you please give me a back rub?”
I froze and stared down at her. Those were the same words my wife always used. Something shifted inside me and my head cleared. No. This was insane! What was I doing here? I had to go. I was a married man! I quickly took a step back. She turned and gasped in shock. “What are you doing Keith?”
“I… I… I can’t do this Mrs. Linet. You are very beautiful and I swear I want to. But am married! I can’t go through with this!”
She was on her feet like lightning. “You can’t go now Keith. I want you and I know that you want me. We are both adults here. What’s so wrong about listening to our bodies? At least stay and let’s have a drink together and talk about this.”
I felt bad for what I was doing to her. The doorknob turned in my hand and I ran into the halls, her image embedded permanently in my mind. I could see her eyes begging me to stay. She looked hurt and wounded. I knew she would never forgive me for as long as she lived.
My feet sunk in the sand as I ran. Tears burned down my cheeks and I had no idea where I was going. The tide was gone and water had receded. I climbed on some boulders and pulled out my cell phone. There was only one voice I wanted to hear.
She did not pick up and so I tried again.
“Hi Keith, its kind of late. Is everything okay?” The voice of an angel.
I closed my eyes and drew strength from the voice. “Yes Nivea. I just wanted to hear your voice. I couldn’t sleep.”
I heard the bed creak and knew that she was sitting up like a dutiful wife to give me a shoulder to lean on.
“Nivea,” I said. “Did I ever tell you about our cat?”
“You used to have a cat?” She sounded surprised.
“Yes. When I was twelve years old. It was my favorite pet too and slept on my bed every night. Malik was the cat’s name.”
“W…what happened to Malik?” Her voice sounded confused. I could tell she was trying to read between the lines.
I closed my eyes and saw the day as clear as yesterday. “Malik came home one day staggering. I ran to him and noticed how sick he looked. But I was twelve years old and there was nobody else at home. He started eating grass… I mean it was more like biting into grass and I suddenly realized what was happening.”
“What was happening?” Nivea asked in a rushed voice.
“He was trying to puke Nivea. I think the cat had been poisoned.” Pause. “I was twelve years old and so I sat there and watched. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do Nivea!” I started sobbing out loudly.
“Shhh… Don’t cry Keith. It wasn’t your fault babe. You were only twelve years old. How were you supposed to know what to do?”
“I could have saved his life Nivea. Malik was never supposed to die.”
Silence. She sat quietly and listened as I cried…waited for me to get a grip of myself.
“I have a surprise for you tomorrow when you come home,” Nivea said in an effort to cheer me up.
“Well, you have to come home to see it. Get some rest honey because you may just need it. I love you Keith.”
“I love you Nivea. I love you with all my heart.”
Touch down in California was at 2pm. The company paid taxi dropped me off at my house at exactly 3pm after weaving for an hour through crazy Los Angeles traffic. Nivea opened the door for me with a smile and a kiss.
“Happy valentine honey,” she said. I had forgotten.
“Happy valentine babe.” I untangled myself and handed her a box of her favorite chocolate. She squealed in delight and kissed me hard on the mouth. It was the acceptable gift considering our financial situation. She would have killed me if I showed up with jewelry.
“Are you hungry,” she asked as she took my luggage from me.
“No. Just tired.”
“Why don’t you jump in the shower and then maybe we can take a nap together. I missed you.”
“I missed you too Nivea.” I kissed her again and then walked into the bathroom.
The water felt hot on my back and I liked it. I placed the palms of my hands on the wall and closed my eyes… let the hot water soothe me. A movement caught my attention and the curtains shifted. It was Nivea, totally naked. She walked into the shower and started applying soap on my back. I sighed and lost myself in the moment. Everything was perfect with her. I felt a familiar stirring within me.
“Your muscles are so tense Keith.”
I took the soap from her and returned the favor. Shortly after, we kissed our way to the bed and made passionate love. Nivea was a gentle lover and there were some things that she didn’t like to do, and I never forced her to. But our bedroom romance was okay by any standards and we loved each other dearly. And when it was over, I fell asleep with a happy look on my face.
I woke up at seven to a quiet and dark house. I instantly knew that something was wrong because on any other day, Nivea would be cooking and the homely smell of fried onions would be suffocating me. There would be music, the hum of the TV and lights in the house. It was all too quiet.
“Nivea?” I called as I pulled into a pair of shorts.
No reply. I walked into the living room and saw her on the dining table, her eyes fixed on the laptop. I walked over and kissed her neck. “Hi babe, why so quiet.” And then I saw it and my world came tumbling down.
She looked at me with a confused expression. “There’s a 20,000-dollar credit in our account Keith. Where did that money come from?”
Trouble loomed in the near horizon. I fell into a chair and looked away. “You told me to save our house Nivea. I did.”
Silence. She was still waiting for an explanation. “Where did the money come from Keith?” Her voice, even though confused was firm.
“I took a loan from work,” I said. “What’s the matter honey? I told you I would do anything to keep us afloat so I took a loan from work. All we have to do is repay it as soon as I get hired.”
She stood up and glared at me. “You are a poor liar Keith, always have been. I know you very well. I- know- you- very- well. What happened last night?”
“I don’t understand. What do you mean?”
“Last night when you called me. You were in tears. It was never about your cat. What happened last night?”
I couldn’t believe that we were fighting. “Nothing happened last night babe. Why would you think that?”
She took in a deep breath. “Did you cheat on me Keith? Did you sleep with someone?” An epiphany. “Did you sleep with your boss? Is that where the money came from?”
She had me. She just didn’t know. “No Nivea. I did not sleep with anyone. I would never do that to you.”
She suddenly leaped from her seat and scratched at my face. I raised my hands and blocked her. Girly slaps hit my hands and the side of my head. She screamed the whole time as she reached for me. “Who was she? What is it that she has that I don’t! Who’s the whore Keith?”
I had never seen her like this before. “Calm down Nivea. I didn’t sleep with anyone. I swear. I would never do that to us!”
“Where did the money come from Keith, ha? Where is the paperwork? Can I see it? Did they just hand it over to you without a signature?”
Yes they did. “I did not sleep with anyone Nivea.” I tried to move her away from the paperwork request and blatantly proclaimed my innocence.
She sat back on the chair and sobbed into her hands. I watched her with a devastated look, not knowing what to do. We sat in an uncomfortable silence for a good fifteen minutes. Darkness descended outside and a cricket chirped in a corner.
I wanted to tell her the truth. I wanted to be honest with her. But how could I explain my desire for Mrs. Linet. How could I explain to her that a part of my body had desired to have sex with the older woman? I couldn’t and so I kept quiet.
“You won’t tell me the truth, will you?” Nivea stood up and walked into the bedroom. I followed as the first tinge of panic touched my nerves.
“Where are you going Nivea?”
She was dressing up and throwing things into her bag. “I’m going to my mum’s Keith. You disrespected me. You know how much I hate liars. I told you that before we got married. I would rather have someone admit their mistake and take responsibility for their actions. But lies? I can’t do lies. How are we supposed to solve something if we don’t know what the problem is?”
Her heart was broken and it killed me that I was the reason. She was coming apart and I could see her summoning the courage to leave. I was losing her and there was nothing I could do about it.
“Goodbye Keith,” she said as she walked towards the door.
“Please don’t go Nivea. We can work this thing out. Trust me, I didn’t cheat on you?” My voice was soft and pleading. I wanted to yank her back and drive some sense into her skull. But I couldn’t stop her because I knew she had every right to leave. Beneath all my façade, she was right. I was a two faced loser and nothing but a liar.
“Trust?” She snorted. “Look where trust got me.” The door opened and closed behind her. She made eye contact one last time and then she was gone.
On Monday morning I walked into Mrs. Linet’s office with two envelopes in my hand. She looked startled when she saw me and asked me to close the door.
“Why are you wearing jeans Keith?” She asked.
I sat down and handed her the envelopes. She tore the first one open and pursed her lips. Inside was a 20,000-dollar check. “You know you can keep this, don’t you?”
“I know,” I said. “But I want to struggle the way that you did. Nothing that’s worth anything comes easy in this world.”
She nodded and opened the second envelop. I watched as her eyes widened. “You are quitting the internship?”
“Yes,” I said nonchalantly. “I figured I need a new beginning.”
“But Keith, you have to be reasonable. Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment. This is a great job and many would kill to be in your shoes. What about your mortgage?”
I shrugged and stood up. “My wife left me. The house will be gone soon. I’m beyond caring now.”
She stood up and took in a deep breath. “You are lashing out Keith. Don’t do this. Life is really tough out there. Let me help you. Hands down, no strings attached. Take the check and we can work something out.” She was pleading with me and I knew she felt guilty.
“Its okay Mrs. Linet. I messed up. I have to take responsibility for my actions.” I started walking towards the door.
“Keith!” she called in a desperate voice. “You didn’t do anything wrong!”
I smiled and gave her my full attention. “Yes I did. I should have never come to your room. I came because I wanted to.”
The movers came and cleaned out the house. Nivea’s brother came over to help with her stuff and we encountered awkward moments of conversation. We had been friends once, but now that I had broken his sister’s heart, he couldn’t even look me in the eye.
That night, I slept on the floor in an empty house. Sleep was long in coming and when it did, it came in the form of Nivea. I saw her laughing and happy. I called for her but she never turned to look at me. “Nivea!” She started walking away and when I tried to follow, she vanished into an alley. “Nivea!” I called and woke up sweating, my back sore on the concrete floor.
The time was 2am, my cell phone in my hands. It took a lot of courage to dial her number. She answered on the third ring and I sat up in shock. “Hi Nivea, I didn’t expect you to pick up.”
“What is it Keith?”
And then I knew. Her brother had taken her things over and told her about the foreclosure. A chapter in our life was coming to an end and she was feeling the strain just as much as I was. It was why she had answered the phone. She felt just as empty as I did.
“I called the bank. They are taking the house next week,” I said with a lot of regret.
“My brother told me.” She sounded normal and calm.
“I will miss it. I miss you,” I said.
There was no reply but the crackle of static.
“I have to go now Keith.” I knew she was crying.
“Wait!” I yelled before she could hang up. “I want to tell you the truth.”
Silence. “What’s her name Keith?” She was pushing me like a lawyer; wanted me to say it.
“Mrs. Linet,” I said, my eyes closed. “Her name is Mrs. Linet.”
“Your boss? Your hot boss at the Christmas party?” She could not believe it. I felt mortified by her reaction.
“I did not sleep with her Nivea. Please listen to me. We may never be together again so I just want you to know the truth.”
She calmed down and waited.
“Mrs. Linet and I met on the beach and she invited me to her room for a drink; told me that she could help me with ideas that would drive me to succeed on the job.”
“And you fell for that?”
“I was wrong to go to her room Nivea. I guess a part of me was curious. I felt like I was being accepted as an equal. Its what every man desires for… respect.”
“So you went to her room and slept with her.” She was relentless.
“No Nivea. It was all business at first over a glass of martini. I got drunk and careless after that.”
“And then you slept with her. Admit it Keith, she gave you 20,000 dollars to sleep with her! Why won’t you just say it?”
I knew what she was doing. It would be over as soon as I said yes. My chances with her would be over as soon as I uttered the words yes I slept with her. I wanted her back. I wanted my wife back.
“We kissed Nivea. That’s all. She gave me 20,000 dollars as a loan. I guess she assumed that I was going to sleep with her. We kissed and then … my senses came back … because the next thing I knew I was running on the beach crying.” Silence. “I never slept with her Nivea. I could never do that to us.”
She was quiet and I knew that I had gotten through to her. She could tell that I wasn’t lying. I mean, there was a little omission but I would lose her if I went into too much details of what had transpired.
“I went to see her today at the office,” I added quickly.
“You what?” An angry voice.
“I gave her back the money and quit my job.”
“You what? Why would you quit your internship Keith? You worked so hard to get it.”
“I don’t want it Nivea. It took you away from me. I would rather be poor. I will find a new job. I will make a new life.”
“Oh Keith,” Nivea moaned. “How did we get here?”
“I messed up babe. I’m sorry. Can you ever forgive me?”
“It’s too soon to ask that,” she said. “Betrayal hurts so badly. Every time I think about it I end up in tears.”
“I’m sorry babe. Just know that I love you and I messed up. I will do anything to have you back. I will make this right. I will find a good job to support us. What are you going to do? Come back to me babe, you are still my wife.”
“No Keith. It’s not that easy. I think I will go back to school. We got married young. There are some things I always wanted to do. This is my chance to do them.”
“But you still love me don’t you?”
“You have no right to ask me that Keith. Not after what you did.”
William Shakespeare: The course of true love never did run smooth. True love always encounters difficulties.
My book A Whisper in the Jungle has been picked by a publishing company and approved by the board. It has been scheduled for release soon.
The music is all around you, all you have to do is listen
Without God, what are we? What do we have? What is life...