The sun was out to the glee of the couple walking down the streets holding hands. There wasn’t much to do in a small place like Kansas but then again all they needed was each other; away from the subways, honking taxis and the indignity of paying toll in additional to taxes.
The woman suddenly gasped as a man emerged from around a building.
“You know him?” the husband asked following her gaze.
Her response was to take two quick steps forward and then embrace the man. “Hi Brad. Long time no see! How have you been?”
The man’s face beamed with excitement. “Its nice seeing you too Veronica, wow, it has been a long time.”
A cough behind them and they turned.
“Sorry,” Veronica quickly said. “Brad, this is Paul my husband.”
“How do you do sir?” Brad said as the hands rattled.
“How do you two know each other again?” Paul asked with a mystified expression. The man in front of him was expensively dressed in a four button dinner jacket and matching shiny shoes. White was the theme and not exactly the proper wear for a walk in the park. He looked like he had stepped out of a limo.
“Oh,” Brad said. “Veronica and I dated for a while in College. I haven’t seen her since she moved from Miami and now I understand why.”
Paul stood to the side uncomfortably while the two caught up and exchanged contacts. Five minutes later, the couple walked away, this time not holding hands, the magic of the moment ruined by a crack in a Pandora box.
“Are you okay Paul?” Veronica asked as she stole a glance from her cell phone.
“I’m okay,” Paul granted. “What do you want to do for the rest of the day? Do you want to go bowling?”
“No,” Veronica said with a bored tone. “Let’s just go home…watch a movie or something.” She was stilling recovering from the aftermath of encountering an old flame.
“What happened between you two anyway?” Paul was trying hard to sound indifferent but it wasn’t working.
Veronica stole another quick glance at her husband’s face then quickly replied. “Brad and I would never have worked. He was too much of a player and I just wanted someone to call my own.” She leaned over and kissed him on his lips.
The white Pontiac cruised through a nice neighborhood and took a hard right into a concrete driveway. With the engine still idling, Veronica told her husband to go ahead and that she would follow shortly. It was one of her daily routines that Paul tried not to interfere with.
Engine off, she walked down the driveway and turned to admire the four bedroom Chalet bungalow; the well trimmed hedges and beautiful flowers. It had been her childhood dream, especially more coming from a humble upbringing. It had been a part of her life’s check list. A check list?
A life’s checklist can be differentiated from a bucket list in that it checks upwards and not downwards. Love; check. Marriage; check. A loving husband; check. A beautiful home; check. A fancy car; check. Children; almost a check.
A complacent smile sparkled Veronica’s eyes as she walked into her home. The power of positive thinking always lifted her spirits. Paul was on the couch watching TV and their eyes met briefly as she stepped on the white carpet.
“I’ll fix us something to eat honey,” she said as she headed into the kitchen.
Bzzzzz. Her pocket vibrating. A text message. She reached inside and read the screen. It was Brad.
Hey! It was really nice seeing you after so long. I missed your smile and laugh. Your husband is a very lucky man.
Without thinking Veronica replied: Nice seeing you too Brad. I missed you too.
She opened the refrigerator and searched inside. Lettuce. She could make a sandwich. Bzzzzzz. Her cell.
Hey! I know we haven’t seen each other in a while but I would really like to see you again. Come with me next weekend. If you look at the date, you will know what I mean. We never even said goodbye and I thought it nice that we find closure.
Veronica stared at her cell for a long time and didn’t hear her husband walk into the kitchen.
“Everything okay honey?” Paul asked as he reached for a beer.
The cell phone quickly disappeared from view. “Yes, yes! Is a sandwich okay?”
“It should do.” Paul paused on his way to the living room. “Are you sure that you don’t want to go somewhere?”
“Yes,” Veronica quickly replied. “I’m sure. I don’t feel like rubbing shoulders with strangers today. Some peace and quiet sounds nice.” The truth. The truth was that she hadn’t stopped thinking about Brad and how good the man looked. They had been so in love and then she had moved away for her first real job, leaving behind her heart for her career. And he in turn had never pursued her, why? The questions were numerous but the answers weren’t.
Evening turned into night and moonlight streaked through the window. The couple turned in early and Paul decided to make his move. The mood was right: nobody was tired and they hadn’t made love in a while.
“Not tonight honey,” Veronica said as she turned away from him. She couldn’t stop thinking about Brad and the life they could have had; the boyish charms and lean muscles.
Paul couldn’t believe her words. He reached out and rubbed the soft silk on her back; up and down, softly at first and then faster as he became aroused.
“No Paul.” She grabbed his hand and pushed it away.
Silence. Paul turned and faced the opposite direction; eyes open, staring at the dark corner where the crickets chirped. This was the true definition of marriage: a death sentence… less sex and more silence.
Not a word more was said but the breathing in the room was a dead giveaway that both partners were wide awake.
“Paul? Are you asleep?” She finally asked. No reply. “Paul? Are you angry?” No reply. He was really angry.
She stepped out of bed and walked into the bathroom. A minute later she came back, hair let loose and totally naked. Her legs slipped gently under the sheets and her breasts rubbed against his back. She caressed his back and kissed his neck, whispering softly into his ears. He was an easy target and she counted the minutes down; 5,4,3,2,1… Paul turned and pulled himself over her. The blankets fell on the carpet as he madly kissed her … on the lips, neck, breasts…
She lay on her back and watched him… knew his every move.
“Paul?” she called.
“Yes baby.” He didn’t even look up.
“I have to go to my sister’s next weekend. I haven’t seen her in a while.”
He looked up and studied her face. “North Carolina?”
“Yes. I miss her and it will do me some good to take a vacation.”
“Do you want me to come with you?” His lips were on her thighs, kissing her with diligence.
“No. It’s a sister’s thing.”
And that was it. A moment in time. The beginning of something that she couldn’t stop. She was going to meet Brad and find closure.
Paul groaned and entered her. “I love you Veronica!”
“I love you too babe.” She touched his face and encouraged him. He felt good inside her… if only he could last longer. But that wasn’t going to happen. Paul roared like a bull and thrusted blindly, rocking the bed and shaking the house; shaking everything except the one thing that mattered; her. She couldn’t remember the last time she had had an orgasm.
She cuddled him and watched him sleep. Her hand rubbed gently on the nape of his neck and she cooed into his ears. “I love you Paul. I love you very much my love.”
Two Weeks Later
The Boeing jet rose steadily to 35000 feet and leveled above the white clouds. Inside the first class cabin, Veronica sat nervously holding a glass of champagne.
“Drink up Veronica. It will help with the nerves,” Brad said from across her seat.
She turned with a half smile and appraised him. Tight Levy jeans and a sky blue designer t shirt: dark jelled hair with a bang hanging above one eye. Brad would look good wearing rugs or even better… nothing.
She quickly turned away. The problem wasn’t the flying; it was the lying. Her very presence with Brad was a betrayal to everything she had believed in, in the past two years of marriage. Love… her love for Paul meant… she couldn’t think straight. Drink up Veronica! She did and it felt better.
“Are you ready for Mexico?” Brad asked with an irresistible bad boy vibe.
“We are not kids anymore,” Veronica said with laughing eyes.
“It’s not about that Veronica and you know it too. We met and fell in love in Cancun and if the magic is still there then we will know.”
Boyish grin; an undeniable pull.
“Why did you let me go Brad?” Veronica asked. “Why didn’t you come after me?”
He shrugged. “I wasn’t gonna stand in the way of your career Veronica. I loved you too much and if you love someone you have to set them free. If they come back then it was meant to be.”
It made sense to her and then again it didn’t. Mexico was the destination and three champagne glasses later it didn’t seem like a bad idea. The giggles came and Veronica finally relaxed. It was time for a little fun. It was time to look for phenomenal.
“Thanks Brad.” She liked the way he looked at her.
“For this. For giving us a final chance. It’s better to know than not to know. I have a lot of unanswered questions.”
He raised his fourth glass and they clanked midair. “To Cancun!” He said with a raised voice.
“To Spring break, where we first met!”
We set off to far off destinations to find or loose ourselves; and sometimes the payoff is great and sometimes not so great. The bigger the risk, the higher the payoff.
So many negative things have been said about Mexico as a country but when it comes to Spring Break, the beautiful resorts and palm tree beaches are a number one attraction to students and tourists from all around the world.
Cancun Oasis was the destination, located on South East Mexico, on the CaribbeanOcean. The exclusive resort hotel encompassed a pyramid shaped building in the center, surrounded by lush gardens and an idyllic setting.
They booked a room and changed into their swim suits. She stared at his perfect abs and he pretended not to notice her full bosom.
“It’s beautiful,” Veronica exclaimed.
Brad smiled. “There’s more to see. Come on! Let’s go! We are burning daylight here.”
The swimming pool, the longest in Latin America sat at 300 meters with colorful pool chairs lined to the sides.
“It’s beautiful,” Veronica again said breathlessly. “But the beach looks more appealing.”
“Well come on then. Let’s go catch some waves!”
He took her hand and together they ran into the white sand. They ignored the vendors and ran into the crystal blue water; ankle and then knee deep before they finally dove into the blue. Brad had a mean stroke and he dug through the water like a fish. Veronica who had been a member of his high school swim team followed with ease and they swam deep into the sea.
“Is that far enough?” Brad asked as he eased off on the strokes.
Veronica turned and looked back at the beach. The people were but small specks. “We can go a little farther,” she dared him.
The waves were bobbing gently but both knew that the tides could easily switch direction and wash them into the deep waters. The thought made their hearts pound and adrenaline flooded their blood.
“Let’s do it then!” Brad dove and headed deeper into the sea and again Veronica followed with ease. The waves got larger and they were forced to dive under.
“Brad!” Veronica finally yelled. “Stop!” She turned and searched for the beach but all around she saw nothing but high waves. Brad swam hard for her and together they dove under a wave.
“Which side is the beach?” Veronica asked as they came up for air.
“I don’t know!” Brad turned and searched but before they could reply, a huge wave slapped them from behind and they went under.
It hurt badly because inside the waves were sand particles and other debris. He grabbed her hand tight and together they rose to the surface. A huge wave appeared to the left and they dove in front of it, allowing for the water to carry them. Two more waves came and they again dove in front, in the same direction as the wave. Five waves later, the beach appeared in sight and they sighed in relief. At an easy pace they swam for the safety of the shore.
Adrenaline. She had never felt so alive before. Danger! The thought of death! She lay her head on Brad’s chest as they caught their breath on the beach. Brad’s arm came naturally around her back and rubbed her gently. They were on the opposite side of the beach, away from the curious tourists and annoying university students.
He leaned down and kissed her head and then her forehead. There wasn’t a moment of hesitation as she raised her lips to meet with his. Raw passion. Tongues. Animals noises.
The joys of flesh. Her red bikini came loose and she lay naked on the sand looking up at him. He kissed her ever so gently and teased her to an explosive state of mind. She wanted to scream but only did when he entered her.
“Aaaaah….” The scream faded into a moan as he rode her. “Don’t stop! Don’t you dare stop!” Claws on his back; teeth on his neck. She had forgotten. She had forgotten how it felt. Love, romance, a union matched in heaven. Brad was a god of love and now she remembered why she had loved him so.
“Turn,” he said. She did and again he rode her hard. The clock stopped moving and her thoughts turned hazy. And then she screamed one last time and her whole body trembled with orgasm like she couldn’t remember. She lay on the sand and allowed herself to enjoy the moment… sweating. The sun was warm on her face, human voices far in the distance. She had never been so happy in her life.
A city that never sleeps. There was so much to do at Cancun Oasis. The pool was great but the beach was better. The hotel featured two beach clubs, spa, gym, 9 hole par 3 golf course, tennis courts, shops, 10 restaurants, 11 bars and an impressive stage which hosted various international artists.
Brad and Veronica settled for the spa and later on shifted the party to the Coyote Loco Bar where they flirted and got naughty. The bartender served them diligently at the sight of American dollars.
“Everybody looks so young,” Veronica noted. The age group was between 18-26.
“It’s spring break girl, University students.” Brad pointed out the screaming and yelling groups. With the loud music playing and coarse language, spring break was definitely the wrong time to bring family to Cancun.
Veronica and Brad made love again in the Hawaiian bedroom before heading to the Ibiza Club for a wild night of partying.
Sunset. A weekend of weakness. A blurred moral streak. The taxi pulled outside her house and Veronica walked slowly up the driveway. She opened the front door and found Paul watching TV in the living room.
“Hi honey,” she greeted as she dragged her bag into the room.
Paul looked up once and then turned his eyes back on the TV. “How was Cancun?” He asked.
She stopped dead on her tracks unable to believe her ears. What? “What do you mean Paul?”
Paul switched the TV off and leaned back on the couch. “I’m a computer analyst Veronica, not a fool. That little story about going to see your sister in North Carolina was the weakest lie ever. How is Brad doing? Or did you forget? When we dated you told me about Cancun and your previous relationships. I never forgot.”
She stood speechless unable to respond. “I wasn’t in Cancun Paul. I don’t know what you are talking about.” Denial. It was the only thing she could do. She walked into the bedroom and Paul followed.
“I hacked into your email Veronica. There are some things am very good at and hacking is one of them. You booked a ticket to Cancun. I hope you found what you were looking for.”
She turned and faced him. “It’s not like that Paul…”
“How is it Veronica? Tell me. You fly outside the country with an ex boyfriend to one of the most exotic resorts in the world. How is it baby? Can you explain that?” His tone was mocking.
“Nothing happened?” Veronica almost yelled. “I swear nothing happened. When we broke up we never said goodbye and all we were looking for was closure.”
“Closure? You are a married woman! Closure?” Red eyes. He was livid. “Admit it Veronica. I’m a boring guy and you wanted to feel young again! Its okay, you can say it.”
“That’s not what am saying?”
“That’s exactly what you are saying?” Silence. “I loved you Veronica. I loved you with all my heart and … I gave you everything you ever desired. Why couldn’t you love me back?”
“I do,” she said crying. “I love you Paul. Please don’t talk like that. I’m sorry for what I did. I was wrong. Please forgive me. It will never happen again.” He was scaring her.
“I know it won’t!” Paul yelled, “Because am leaving you.”
“Noooo,” she cried. “Please Paul, nooo. I need you. It’s you that I love and nobody else! Please.”
But he was already walking away. The front door slam shut and he was gone.
She cried for a long time and carried herself to bed. She was tired: the jet lag and alcohol in her blood; the all night dancing and endless sex with Brad. Two nights of pure heaven. Had it been worth it? She wondered. “Paul?” She whispered as her eyes closed. But Paul was gone. Gone from her life for good.
Veronica woke up at midnight and wondered where she was. Her bedroom. She lay still and tried to remember what had happened and suddenly she sat up. Paul! Feet soft on the carpet, she ran into every room in the house searching for him and finally saw a bundle on the guest room bed. It was Paul, fast asleep, face stained with tears.
It broke her heart to see her man crushed like that. He looked broken, almost …almost like a boy. She took off her night dress and slipped naked next to him. He stirred as her body touched his.
“Shhhh….” Veronica whispered. “It’s me baby.”
“Veronica?” He flinched at her touch, tried to rise but she pinned him down with all her strength.
“Please Paul, please!”
He stopped fighting and watched her… a mona lisa in the dark, hair roughly dangling over her face in a seductive way. She sat on his stomach, leaned down and brushed his chest with her boobs and within seconds he was aroused.
“Don’t … don’t do anything babe,” she whispered. He obeyed and lay very still while she rode him. It’s felt great. Oh gosh, it felt great.
Adrenaline surging. Her thighs tightened around him and she squeezed hard, released and continued to ride him. She had never done this to him before. He had never felt such pleasure. All the anger and hurt suddenly vanished and he felt like a man again. Tingles and vibrations. The sex lasted longer than he remembered and when they rose to climax, both came at the same time.
“I love you Paul,” she whispered as she lay her head on his chest.
“I love you too Veronica.”
Love. The most powerful human emotion. It took every ounce of energy from their body and after the sex, neither had anything left. They fell into each other’s arms and passed out. Sex took away the pain, if only for a moment.
Paul woke up at 5am and packed his bags. He walked back into the bedroom one last time and watched his wife sleep. She looked beautiful. She always looked beautiful. But the truth was that Paul would never have her. She was too good for him… for any single man. The front door swung open and Paul entered his Jaguar.
She would wake up and find the note next to her bed. The lawyers would contact her later and discuss details of their divorce. In the meantime, she could stay in the house for as long as she wanted until the house was sold. Goodbye love, halo solitude.
Paul drove in a daze and relentless tears poured down his face. They had been happy… they could have been happier. If only she had loved him back… if only he had done more for her.
An hour later, he pulled into the familiar driveway and rang the bell on the front door. A white haired man opened the door and stared at him in disbelief.
“Junior? Is everything okay?”
Paul shook his head and looked at his shoes. “No papa. Veronica and I are divorcing. I lost her!” The tears came again and he couldn’t stop them.
“Come here,” his dad said with outstretched hands. He hugged him like a little boy and whispered into his ears. “You have to be strong son. You have to stay strong. The pain will pass after a while.”
Veronica woke up with the sun on her face and a pounding headache. She looked at the time and cursed softly. It was almost 11am and she had missed work. She pulled out her cell phone and called her boss; found an excuse to stay away for the rest of the day. The boss obliged and Veronica sighed.
One foot landed on the bedroom carpet followed by the other and it was then that she saw the note. Divorce! Paul was divorcing her for infidelity! This was not happening. With a rising panic she quickly dialed Paul’s number but there was no reply. There was only one other person to call.
“Hey you,” Brad’s voice came happy on the line.
“Hi Brad. I need to talk to you. My husband found out about us and he’s divorcing me.”
Silence. Shock. “What? How did he find out?”
“That’s besides the point Brad. I need someone to talk to. Where can I meet you?”
Hesitation on the line. “I break for lunch at noon.”
“Cool,” Veronica said. “I will meet you at starbuck’s on Havana downtown.” Without waiting for a reply, she hanged up and dialed Paul’s number again. No reply.
This was a freaking nightmare. Shower. No make-up; jeans and sweatshirt. She jumped into the Pontiac and sped towards downtown. Midday traffic was just beginning to pile up but she beat it by a hair and was sitting inside the coffee shop at exactly 12 noon. At 12.15pm there was still no sign of Brad and Veronica shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Why was she here and what would she say to Brad anyway?
At 12.20pm she finally called him and he answered on the fourth ring.
“I’m sorry Veronica but I got caught up with work.” Brad’s voice shook with uncertainty.
“Are you avoiding me Brad?” Raised frantic voice. “Why didn’t you call me?”
Silence. She could hear him fighting with the words and even before he said them, she knew. A calmness descended over her body as the words reached her ears.
“I’m married Veronica, with two kids.”
“Why then did you take me to Cancun Brad?”
“For the same reason that you agreed to come. I wanted to get away from my life and feel young again. I love my wife and kids and… I love you too.”
She hanged up the phone and walked out of the restaurant. A cruel twist of fate; pure panic filling her lungs. The security of being a part of something… gone with the wind.
Downtown Kansas was built to accommodate various kinds of people. There were the bikers, the strollers, the folks launching on the benches, the open street restaurants. Veronica sat on the concrete bench and stared at the ducks in the pond. She didn’t know what was happening but she was aware of the shift inside her body; the sting of rejection. It was better to have a heart attack and die.
She called Paul again and left him a message. “Hi baby. I miss you already. I miss bowling with you. I’m so sorry for what I did to you. I was wrong but it was all physical. It’s you that I love and will always love. Please call me and let’s talk about this. I can’t be alone… not now and not ever.” Sniff. “I would never give up on you Paul, please don’t give up on me; not you of all the people… not you Paul.”
She clicked off and stared at the water. In it she saw her beautiful home being auctioned for sale. So much for her life’s list. It was over. Her life was over and she was doomed to walk the lonely road. The earth was dark; the sun shone no more.
Screaming voices. Beyonce’s voice on the radio, on TV, in the car… everywhere! We woke up in the kitchen saying how the h*ll did this sh*t happen.
Veronica bowed her head and started crying. Paul! She cried. Paul! Broken dreams. Free falling. Love; uncheck. Marriage; uncheck. A loving husband; uncheck. A beautiful home; uncheck. A fancy car; uncheck. Children; soooo uncheck.
Her father’s voice. Every choice we make in life defines the person we become.
Off to AFRICA
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...