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Loving Lana- Chapter 2
By
SweetestSins

Loving Lana- Chapter 2

Hate can be just as powerful as love
Chapter 2
Remember Me?

LANA 

Our little vacation in Ocean City was going okay, until Maxwell had to fly out to Seattle to take care of some business for a week. My husband would always say he was retired, but clearly he was in denial about it. Vincent and I were keeping the peace with one another really rather well, but when Max left, we just kept getting into arguments. None of which I instigated.

Thankfully Sandy was going to be arriving at the house tomorrow, and she was bringing some friends along with her. Darius Forester was Vincent’s best friend from college. He married a beautiful woman named Ciara Hastings a year ago. Her mother was from Barbados, and her father from Trinidad. I envied her cinnamon skin, and gorgeous hazel eyes. She was so exotic, and tall. If I were to ever switch over to the other team, Ciara would definitely be my type. She had a very outgoing personality, and was extremely intelligent.

Right from the get go I discovered that we both had similar interests, and loved to shop. She had this great appreciation for art, and music, and we often went to plays, and art exhibits together. I guess she and I were able to bond more because we were both ‘new brides.’

Ciara and Darius didn’t have any children yet because she wasn’t ready for motherhood. There was a three year age difference between them. He was older, and the same age as Vincent.

She worked as a therapist, specializing in sex therapy, and her husband owned and managed a restaurant in Atlanta. He had opened several successful chains across the states, and they were living very comfortably to say the least.

I honestly couldn’t wait to see her. I really needed to see a familiar face, one that didn’t hate me. She was the only best friend I had. Most of the women I met at the country club were so stuck up, and looked down on me, but Ciara always treated me with respect. Our friendship only grew and strengthened the more we spent time together.

Anyway, I was in the kitchen that morning, fixing some breakfast. Mina and Milo had finished eating, and were watching a Disney film in the den, while I finished cooking some bacon and eggs for me and Vincent.

I was wearing a red chiffon skater dress that had a lace insert along the neckline, which was a very flattering fit for my body. It was nipped in at the waist, with a gathering skirt that hung just above my knees, creating a deep V on the reverse. I was always obsessed with fashion, and Maxwell practically made my dreams come true when he took me to all these incredible runway shows across Europe last year. I matched my outfit with a pair of red, open toe heels. Yes, I had quite the shoe fetish.

Never in my life had I possessed such an abundance of shoes and clothing. My husband practically turned my closet into a designer store overnight. Every time I stepped in that walk in closet, I had something new to wear. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly appreciated it, and usually ended up donating a lot of my clothes. But it felt nice to look good, and feel good for once. There was a time when I used to walk out the door in tattered jeans, a messy bun, and old sweatshirts that I had owned for years. My lifestyle did a 180 when I got married and officially became Mrs. Luther.

Careful not to burn the bacon, I turned off the gas stove, and moved the crispy strips onto a white plate. Then, I added the scrambled eggs, and served it in front of Vincent. He was sitting on a stool by the island with the black marble counter top.

“There’s no rat poison in here, is there?” his face was dead serious.

“Vincent, that’s not funny.”

“What?—just asking.”

I loved his soft English accent, despite his rude accusation.

“If I was actually trying to poison you, do you honestly believe I would confess to it?”

“Touché,” he stuck his fork into his breakfast, and gave it a taste.

I walked over to the fridge, and grabbed some orange juice. When I turned around, I couldn’t help but notice the way he ate his food in such a slow measured pace. It kind of put me on edge, like he was going to complain about my cooking.

“The bacon could be crispier.”

Oh, come on! I groaned, and complained in my head. It was certainly crispy enough, but I ignored his criticism, and sat down across from him to eat my breakfast.

“You’re not going to go upstairs and vomit that afterwards are you?”

What the hell? Why couldn’t he just lay off?

“Are you implying that I’m bulimic?”

“How else do you eat that much, and not get fat?”

Oh-my-god. There was a list of things a man should never say to a woman;

1. You never harass them about their weight.

2. You never tell them that they are eating too much, while they’re in the middle of eating.

3. You don’t insult them…ever!

It took every ounce of effort to hold my tongue, and not stoop down to his level. I knew exactly how he operated. He just wanted to provoke me on purpose, probably because he was bored and needed some entertainment.

“I work out, just like any normal person does to maintain their health,” I finally replied, in a calm tone of voice.

Vincent kept his eyes on his plate, while the radio played in the background at a comfortable volume. I recognized the song. It was, Just Another Day by Jon Secada. My heart immediately dropped, as I carefully watched Vincent’s face. This song was special. This song brought back a memory I could never let go. A memory I shared with him one night, and one night only. But he just kept on eating, completely unaffected by the trigger.

Why couldn’t he just remember? It almost made me want to cry. Maybe he did remember, but pretended like it didn’t matter. When I confronted him about it last year, he looked at me like I was some crazy person. I guess he really had been drinking too much that night. Personally, I always remembered everything that happened the night before, when I’d wake up the following morning with a hangover.

I didn’t bring it up anymore, since he clearly didn’t remember, or want to talk about it. But this song was setting off so many mixed emotions in me. It hurt that he wasn’t affected the same way I was.

“Could you pass me the salt?” he asked.

“Sure,” I stood up, and went over to him, setting the salt shaker down next to his plate.

“You could’ve just slid it over,” he looked up at me, frowning.

“It might’ve fallen halfway. There’s a huge distance between us,” yeah, literally.

He sprinkled some salt on his eggs, and then said, “Are you going to hover above me while I eat now?”

Shit. I zoned out.

“Sorry, do you need anything else?”

“No, thank you, stepmother,” his tone was condescending, and mocking me in a way.

“I really wish you’d stop calling me that,” I said, as I sat back down on my stool.

“Stepmother? It’s what you are, aren’t you?”

“We both know I can’t mother you.”

“Indeed, you can’t, which is why your marriage to my father is bloody ridiculous.”

“My relationship with Maxwell has nothing to do with my relationship with you,” I tried to defend myself.

“Is that what you think we have? A relationship?” Vincent snickered under his breath. “Hardly.”

“We’re family now, Vincent.”

“You’re not my family,” he stressed. “You’re an intruder, an imposter.”

His words deeply wounded me, but I refused to show it.

“I’m not going to argue with you this early in the morning,” I expressed, while playing with my food.

“Right,”

We both remained silent, as we finished eating our breakfast.

The sun was shining brightly through the windows, filling the space with natural light. I especially liked the classic checker board flooring, and the off white color scheme of the kitchen. It was huge, with a set of glass sliding doors that led to the backyard. I just loved to cook, and having this much room certainly made the task easier, and more enjoyable. Earlier that morning, I had cut some fresh white roses from the garden, and arranged them in a crystal vase. They looked so beautiful, and majestic in their own way, as I stared at them for a while. I had placed the vase on display on the round dining table, and since the sliding doors were open, the summer breeze gently blew inside the kitchen, carrying the subtle traces of its fragrant perfume, as it pleasantly permeated the air. I loved the smell of roses. It reminded me of my Aunt Helen’s garden.

Mina’s laughter resonated into the kitchen, pulling me out of my state of nostalgia, and I couldn’t help but smile. She was watching The Lion King. For a moment I began to daydream and pretend that I was Vincent’s wife, and Mina and Milo were our children, watching a movie in the den, while we sat across from each other as husband and wife, enjoying a breakfast together. It was nothing more than a fantasy, and seemed pointless to even conjure such silly thoughts in my mind. It must’ve been the music. Yes, the music was to blame.

I stole a couple glances at Vincent when he wasn’t looking. That nightmare I had of him was still very vivid in my memory. It felt so real. But I was glad it wasn’t.

“So, what are your plans this afternoon?” he asked me.

How could he just pretend like we didn’t have an argument two minutes ago? I wondered.

“Um, I’m not sure. I think I might do some writing. What about you?”

“I’m taking the kids out on the boat.”

“Oh, that’s nice. I’m sure they’ll enjoy that.”

The little blue eyed princess suddenly sprinted into the kitchen. She was wearing a cute pair of denim shorts, and a white T shirt that had a sparkly pink butterfly on it. I had put her hair up in pigtails earlier, and she looked adorable.

“Aunt Lana, may I have a glass of apple juice, please?”

Always so polite, unlike her father.

“Of course, sweetheart,” I got off the stool, and grabbed her favourite blue juice cup from the cupboard.

“Daddy, when are we going on the boat?”

“In an hour or so, love.”

“Can Aunt Lana come with us?”

“She’s going to be busy doing some work.”

Of course he wouldn’t want me to come. The man hated me.

“Please can you come with us?” she hugged my waist, while I poured her some juice.

“I have to do some writing, Mina.”

“When will you be done?”

“I’m not sure, sweetie,” I smiled warmly at her, and handed her the cup of apple juice.

“I want to go when Aunt Lana can come!”

This child truly loved me, and I didn’t take it for granted. I loved her to bits.

Vincent let out something that sounded like a frustrated sigh, before he looked at me, and said, “Lana, would you please accompany us on our little boating excursion today?”

I was a little amused. Leave it to Mina to get her way with the man.

“Hmm…let me think about it.”

He rolled his eyes at me, and carried his dish to the sink.

“Please, please, please!” she begged, while jumping up and down.

“Okay. I’ll come.”

“Yay!” she squeezed my waist real tight, and then disappeared out of the kitchen.

“Rambunctious little girl,” I laughed, tidying the countertop.

“Yes, a little too much,” he added, while washing and rinsing his plate.

“You don’t need to—I can do that,” I said, offering to take over the dish washing duties.

“You cooked. I’ll clean,” Vincent looked at me, and I immediately felt this invisible hand reaching inside my chest and squeezing my heart till I couldn’t breathe. His eyes were just so daunting and penetrating. He always made me nervous, which I hated, because the feeling was comparable to social anxiety.

“Thanks,” I smiled, and placed my plate inside the sink. “I’ll help dry up.”

Grabbing a dish towel from the drawer, I stood next to him, and dried the plates and cups he would set into the dish rack. We were both quiet, and I wasn’t sure how to open up a topic that would spark good conversation. I seemed to be distracted by the way this man was influencing my thoughts and feelings when I stood next to him. He was just so handsome. Attractive in the kind of way that would make you want to stare at him for hours. But even admiring him was dangerous. If a woman was wise, she would avoid him and look away at all costs, because direct eye contact was lethal. Those frosted eyes could literally freeze you. The longer you stared, the more vulnerable you’d become, and leave yourself open to fall in complete infatuation with him.

Every time that we’re together… 

The song continued to play, while I helped him clean up. He was wearing a pair of Ed Hardy shorts that had a really cool tattoo graphic print on it in black and white. His V neck T shirt dipped really low, exposing a bit of his smooth, muscular chest. White looked really well on him. His skin tone was a golden color, like dessert sand. Everyone got a little darker in the summer time, depending on how long they stayed out in the sun.

Being so close in proximity allowed me to smell his body wash, and I was convinced it must’ve been a scent by Axe. His brown hair was short, but the way he styled it made it look like he had some serious sex hair going on.

It had been such a long time since I last saw him clean shaven. These days he kept a very trim, barely there goatee. I liked a man with a little scruffiness to play with. Not every man could pull off facial hair, but some actors looked more attractive with it. Orlando Bloom for example, or Johnny Depp. Vincent was definitely in that category.

Every time he walked into a room, he somehow changed the energy and atmosphere along with it. He had this amazing ability to make people feel really special, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, he could also make a person feel like they were absolutely worthless. This man could raise you up, or smash you down, and unfortunately for me, I always came in direct contact with his war hammer too many times to count. So much that I was surprised to still be standing after all the injuries he inflicted on me.

The song was finally over, and I felt relieved. A radio host was now giving the forecast about the weather.

“Thanks for helping,” I said to him.

Vincent gave a little nod, dried his hands off, and left the kitchen without saying another word to me.

Was I really that bad to be around? I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed inside.

After I finished making a chocolate pudding for the kids, I joined them in the den, and watched the rest of the movie. Mina was singing along with Timon and Puumba, and I was tempted to record her, because she sounded so cute.

I was curled up on the end of the sofa, with my sketchpad in front of me, drawing Vincent and Milo. He was holding the little guy in his lap, while watching the Disney flick. Honestly, that was one of the things I loved so much about him. He was an amazing father. There was no doubt about that. I could tell how much he loved his children, and he was so devoted. Unfortunately for me, my parents were always smoking meth instead of taking care of me. I grew up living with my grandmother in Illinois, and life with her wasn’t easy. We butted heads a lot, especially in my teen years.

I kept looking up at Vincent, making sure I drew every line and detail perfectly. My goal was to capture the flawless symmetry of his face. He was blessed with good looks. I never had art lessons, but apparently I was a natural born artist according to Maxwell.

Fortunately for me, I was able to finish the drawing once the film was over. Vincent managed to sit still long enough for me to complete the sketch without him noticing.

I was about to get up, when Mina skipped over to me out of nowhere, and jumped into my lap. I quickly set my sketchpad on the side table, and held her in my arms.

“I love The Lion King!”

“Who’s your favourite character?” I asked her.

“Simba and Nala!” she beamed, and then gasped really loud. “Wow! You drew my dad!” she reached for my drawing, and held it up in her tiny hands. “Daddy, look! It’s just like you!”

He placed Milo down in his play pen, before he approached us, and took the drawing from Mina.

I watched his expression, as he examined it. I didn’t mean for him to find out.

“Have you taken lessons in the past?” his face remained unreadable.

“No. It’s just something I like to do every now and then.”

“You drew my chin kind of funny, and my nose is not that big, and also your shading is not so great.”

My face went bright red, and I felt so embarrassed by his very blunt criticism. I stood up, retrieved the sketch out of his hands, and ripped it in half.

We both stared at each other, like it was some sort of battle of who can break the other first. Well, he already broke me. Vincent always won these wars.

“You didn’t have to do that.”

“Didn’t I?” I smiled sarcastically, and left the room.

oOo 

A huge chunk of my morning was spent reading, and writing. Once I got bored with that, I decided to paint my toe nails a fluorescent lime colour to match with my tequila green, halter strap bikini that I wore underneath my black vest top, and blue denim skirt.

I sat by my vanity, and curled my hair a bit, putting it up in a ponytail. Sadly, I felt like Belle, hiding away in my room from the beast. He left me with no other choice. There was no use being around him. Vincent’s tongue was harsh, and his temper was explosive.

I wanted to take a rain check on that outing, but when Mina came in my room all excited, I couldn’t say no and dampen her spirits. Kids were my weakness.

So I slipped on a pair of stylish gold flip flops, and then grabbed my white shoulder bag, and left my bedroom.

Vincent and I didn’t exchange any words, as we took the kids, and left the house.

VINCENT 

It felt good to be out there in the open water. I loved the ocean, and I loved boats. Dad had this luxury motor yacht for a while. I was surprised he didn’t sell it when mum died. He called it Lady Jane, after my mother. It had some nice features, like built in marine speakers that were great for outdoor entertainment. I had some music playing while we sailed out on the waters.

Lana was lying down on the front of the boat, catching a tan. Her swimsuit was quite…distracting, so I tried to focus on steering, instead of staring at her breasts.

I made sure to get the kids in life vests, just in case. Mina was already learning swimming lessons, and I was going to have Milo take some as well, once he was old enough.

I used to work as a lifeguard during the summer at our local pool when I was sixteen. I wasn’t sure if Lana could swim, but I found the idea of making her walk the plank extremely entertaining.

The weather was amazing, and perfect for spending the afternoon on the beach. I put on my shades, and soon killed the motor.

“It’s such a beautiful day,” Lana sat up, and looked back at me. She took out some sunscreen from her bag, while I pulled out a Red Bull from the cooler, before sitting down.

“The sun is so hot though. I hope you’ve put on some sunscreen.”

I watched her rub the lotion on her toned arms, legs, and thighs. The temptation to stare was a little frustrating. She pretty much had all the goods hanging out.

“Do you mind rubbing some lotion on my back?”

Yes, I did mind.

“Mina, come here, love.”

She was playing her favourite game on my iPhone, but put it down, and came to me when I called to her.

“Yes, daddy?”

“Hold out your palms for me, sweetheart.”

I took the sunscreen, and squeezed it until there was enough lotion in her little hands.

“Now, I want you to rub this lotion on Aunt Lana’s back. Can you do that?”

She grinned, nodding her head vigorously.

“Thank you, Mina,” Lana said, while lying down on her stomach

“You’re welcome! It feels so slimy!” she giggled.

There was no way I was going to voluntarily touch that woman.

“All done!”

“Now come here, princess. You need some more sunscreen as well.”

I rubbed some lotion on her arms, and made her wear her pink sunhat.

“Make the boat go fast again! Please?”

There was no use saying no. I kissed her on the head, stood up, turned on the motor, and we were cruising the waters once more.

Lana sat up, pulled out her ponytail, and spread her arms out like an eagle, as the wind blew through her golden hair.

I was relieved to know that my wife would soon be here. At least she didn’t drive me insane the way Lana did. Last year had been very rough for me. I still didn’t feel like I was over my mother’s death. Frankly, I didn’t think I’d ever get over it. Being here brought back too many memories.

The sky was a brilliant blue, but it was a stormy forecast in my chest. There was always a storm going on inside, and I was good at hiding it.

After I drove the boat back to the dock, we took the kids to a local fair, and let Mina and Milo have some fun for a bit, before heading back to the house. I tried not to harass Lana too much. It was usually during moments when we were alone that I felt compelled to attack. I couldn’t explain why, but I seemed to be in a constant state of anger around her. She pushed my buttons, and got under my skin. She was Lana fucking McKenzie.

oOo 

LANA 

Vincent and I cooked some pasta in the evening, and had a quiet dinner with the children. He seemed to be someplace else in his mind. A place I couldn’t reach. I wanted to ask him if he was okay several times, but I knew he would most likely snap at me. So I just let him be.

Mina and Milo went to bed around 8:30, and then he pretty much avoided me for the rest of the night. So I headed upstairs, and started editing the novel I had finished. Well, I said it was finished, and it was, but it didn’t feel that way to me. I couldn’t explain it.

I fell asleep around eleven, and luckily I didn’t have any dreams about Vincent. In fact, I couldn’t remember any of my dreams at all when I woke up in the morning. I just had a nice, deep sleep.

Sandy, Ciara, and Darius arrived around noon the following day. They had a two day road trip.

Unlike Vincent, Sandy was always nice to me. I couldn’t recall a time where she and I ever got into an argument. We respected one another, but were not super close.

Darius was a tall, good looking man. He had dark mocha skin, a built, buff body, eyes as black as the night, and a faded buzz cut. The guy was extremely witty and charming, so much that it just naturally poured out of him. Ciara always told me he was a ladies man, and I believed her.

Sandy’s parents lived in Ocean City, and the plan was to take the kids over to her mom and dad’s for a couple days, so we could all have some fun at the house and drink. I wasn’t really sure why she wanted to get rid of her children so quick, considering the fact that she had not seen them for an entire week, but I didn’t say anything about it, because it was not my place.

Vincent and Darius were setting up the barbeque in the backyard, while Ciara and I were having some girl talk in my bedroom. I was trying to decide on a bikini to wear, while she sat on my bed, with a margarita in her hand.

The bedroom was very spacious, and practically everything was white—the walls, duvet covers, curtains, dresser, vanity, and table lamps. It was a stunning white neutral bedroom with a crystal chandelier that hung from the center of the ceiling. The floor plan was laminated wood, and my favourite feature in the room was the large bay window with a built in seat cushion. I liked to read there during the evenings. There was a beautiful walkout balcony that had a nice view of the ocean.

“God, I love this house. The renovation turned out amazing. I’ve been thinking about buying some property up here, but Darius wants to buy a villa in Florida.”

I heard Ciara’s voice echoing from the bedroom, as I stood in my walk in closet, rummaging through my collection of bikinis.

“I mean, we could always purchase a place over here and in Florida—then rent it out,” she suddenly appeared by the threshold, wearing a long leopard print sundress, with her dark hair hanging past her breasts.

“Property is a great investment,” I said to her.

“Yes, I agree,” she stepped inside, and sat down on a white ottoman, while I continued to look for a swim suit.

“We’ll figure it out,” she sighed. “Try on that white one.”

“This one?” I held out the stringed bikini.

“Yes.”

“Are you sure?”

“Girl, with that tan, that color is going to look hot.

I smiled and went behind the shoji screen, which was basically a room divider.

“How are you and Darius doing?”

“We’re good. We’re technically swingers now,” she chortled to herself.

“What!?” I almost lost my balance, as I took off my panties. “When, and why?”

“The past month or so, I realized that he has this tendency to gravitate towards provocative women. He told me he slept with someone at a club two months ago, and that it didn’t mean anything. It was just sex. So, I told him that if he wants to screw other bitches, he can. So long as I can sleep with other men as well. This way, we both stay honest. We can sleep with whoever we want, as long as it’s protected, and we don’t get emotions involved.”

Ciara was a sex therapist. I trusted that she knew what she was talking about.

“Wow, Cici…”

“I know it sounds like a big shock to many, but then again, most people really don’t know how to separate sex from their emotions. You really need to be in a very secure relationship with strong foundations of trust in order to practice this kind of life style.”

“You love Darius, right?”

“Of course.”

“You’re in love with him, correct?”

“Those feelings haven’t changed,” she responded.

“Then how come it doesn’t bother you to know that he’s sleeping with someone else? Sharing his body with another woman? Giving another woman pleasure he should be giving you?”

I finally had the bikini on, and stepped out of the privacy screen.

Ciara’s jaw dramatically dropped.

“Girlfriend, can I just say that you look like a hot ass bitch! Damn!”

I laughed, and evaluated my figure in the 360 mirror.

“No wonder that man wanted to tie you down A-SAP.”

“Oh, stop it. You’re avoiding my questions,” I started putting away the other bikinis, while offering my friend a listening ear at the same time.

“Look, it doesn’t bother me because I know that I have the one part of him no other woman can have—his heart. Sex is just sex. It is possible to go to bed with some body, wake up the next day, and not feel any kind of bond or connection. You can walk out the door, never see them again, and never miss them. If I walked out of Darius’s life, he would miss me. He would hurt.”

I understood where she was coming from, but I didn’t agree. “I don’t know babes. I feel like the only way I could be able to have that kind of relationship, is if I wasn’t in love with my partner. Only then would I be able to endure his womanizing ways, and lead a promiscuous life of my own. Giving my body, my heart, and my soul…that’s something I take very seriously. And if I expect loyalty from myself, then I expect the same from my significant other.”

“Hmm, I feel you,” she nodded. “Straight up, I could never be in a hybrid relationship.”

“Hybrid relationship?” I asked, looking confused.

“Yes. It’s a type of relationship where one partner is non-monogamous, and the other is monogamous. So basically, one makes a full-fledged commitment, and the other doesn’t.”

Yikes, count me out, I thought.

“I just can’t see myself being in an open relationship.”

“Mm-mm,” she shook her head adamantly. “That’s a big no-no for me as well.”

“But I don’t understand. Isn’t that what you’re already doing?”

“Honey, swinging is so different from having an open relationship. The difference being, when you’re a swinger you’re in a committed relationship, engaging in sexual activities with others, strictly on a recreational level. Having an open relationship is when you’re in a committed partnership, and you form this agreement with your partner that any romantic, or intimate relationship with another is permitted for however length of time. This can leave your relationship in a very vulnerable position, because feelings are involved with a third party that can be a potential threat. But with swinging it’s strictly about the sex. No feelings, no commitment to another person.”

Wow, this was all so enlightening.

“Are you ever worried Darius might fall in love with somebody else?”

She pondered her thoughts for a moment. “I think we all have that fear deep down inside. But I believe that you have to be secure enough within yourself, to trust yourself and know that if your loved one hurts you, and betrays your trust, you can handle it, and move on. You have to know what you deserve. Life doesn’t have to stop just because someone hurts you. For example, I love Darius, but I know that if he hurt me, or left me, I could get over it, because my happiness does not depend on him. Most relationships succeed the long haul when both people pursue their own happiness, but choose to share that happiness together. They are not depending on one another to keep each other content and fulfilled. They are sharing their own personal fulfilment together, which will make them happier as a couple.”

“Wow, Cici, that’s deep.”

“I only speak the truth. I am the guru of love and sex after all,” she boasted with a grin.

“How many marriages have you saved?” I asked, sitting down on the ottoman with her.

“Too many to count,” she smiled, and tucked back a strand of my hair.

For a long time I felt that Ciara was bisexual. It wasn’t like she came out and said it, and I never asked her about it, because it honestly didn’t matter to me if she was straight, gay, or bi. Every person deserved to be loved and accepted no matter their sexual orientation, race, gender, or faith. Her affection towards me never bothered me. I felt comfortable with Ciara. She was my best friend, and the sister I always dreamed of having.

“I’m so glad you’re here.”

“It’s been that bad with Vincent, huh?” she placed her drink down on a side table, and rested her palms behind her.

“He’s determined to hate me forever.”

Ciara shook her head, laughing, and I had no idea why.

“What’s so funny?”

“The dynamic of your relationship with this man.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Let me tell you something, girl. I believe Vincent is suffering a common case of disease of desires. You say he hates you so passionately, but what if that hate is only overshadowing the passionate love underneath?”

This completely caught me off guard. “Cici, I don’t think he loves me, or has feelings for me that way. He adores Sandy, and I would never cross any boundaries with him like that.”

She carefully studied my face for the longest while, and then crossed her leg over her slender thigh. “I’ve seen the way he looks at you, Lana. I’m a therapist and my job is to observe people. I watch their body language, the way they speak, and socially interact. The most subtle actions, and words, I’m able to catch and interpret the meaning. Trust me when I say that man has got it bad for you. He’s just in denial about it.”

My face suddenly flushed in heat. She was my best friend, but I hadn’t told her about that night I shared with Vincent…nobody knew but me and him…he just couldn’t remember it.

“I guarantee that if you two were stuck in a room together for an hour—like an elevator for example, before that hour would be up, your clothes would be on the floor. He would have his hands all over you, and his tongue in your mouth, while he fucked you hard against the wall.”

“Oh my god, Ciara! Don’t be so vulgar!” I laughed off the embarrassment, and tried to push away those images.

“What? It’s true,” she giggled. “No disrespect to Sandy— just a personal observation.”

I stood up, and tried to look for a sun dress to wear over my bikini.

“There’s so much tension between you two, sexual tension.”

“You can seriously sense all that?” I glanced at her, as I went through some hangers.

“Sense, see, feel. It’s so obvious. You and Vincent have chemistry.”

“Yeah, like toxic chemical compounds.” I pulled out a floral print dress that had a thin red belt around the waist. “How’s this?”

Fab—love it.”

“I just wish I could change his mind about me.”

“You care about what he thinks of you?” she flashed a pearly white smile, and sipped on her margarita.

“No, well—yeah, I mean, he’s Maxwell’s son.”

“How are you and Max doing? Has he fixed his little…”

“He still has erectile dysfunction. We haven’t had sex since we met, and it’s really bothering him.”

“Has he tried the magic blue pill?”

“Yes, and the weird thing is I’ve seen him get…you know, but I think he’s avoiding sex with me because he hasn’t gotten over Jane’s death.”

“That’s so strange. The man marries you two months after his wife’s passing, most people would think it’s because he wants to make you his personal sex doll, no offence—”

“None taken,” I responded.

That was the popular belief. I was used to it.

“I guess we all deal with grief in different ways.”

“I know Maxwell loves me unconditionally, and I know that I can’t replace the love and history he shared with his late wife. But sometimes I can’t help but feel more like…a daughter to him. I don’t want to feel like some charitable project. I fought with him last week over this.”

“What did he say?”

“He told me that I’m wrong, and that he understands if I want to look elsewhere for sexual gratification. I got mad and told him I take my marriage vows seriously, so that kind of hurt.”

“Well, I can offer you some professional advice, free of charge.”

“That’s a relief,” I smiled.

“Give him time. Obviously it’s not because of you. Any man or woman would be lucky to sleep with you.”

She made me blush.

“I think he’s coming to terms with her death, and grieving in his own way. Worst case scenario, you could always find yourself a sexy boy toy on the side.”

My eyes widened in shock. “You’re such a bad influence, Cici.”

“You have no idea,” she looked at me, flashing a naughty little smile, and biting her lip.

oOo 

We spent a majority of the afternoon in the backyard, drinking, and soaking up the sun. Darius was playing some really great tunes, and I was taking a swim, when I heard some familiar beats vibrating the pool.

Once I emerged out of the water, I saw Darius walking out of the sliding doors, with a beer in his hand.

“Oh my god! Is that Milli Vanilli?” my face lit up. It was their smash hit; Girl You know It’s True.

“Way back- play back!” he hollered out.

My husband had installed some amazing audio speakers inside and outside of the house. We could’ve had our own little pool party.

I swam towards the shallow end, and carefully went up the steps. Just as I was about to get out, I noticed that my right breast was on the verge of slipping out of my bikini top, so I stopped, and tucked it back in. When I looked up, I saw Vincent lying down on a patio lounger right across from me, and I felt a little embarrassed because he probably noticed my wardrobe malfunction. He was wearing only a pair of blue swimming trunks, with his hands folded behind his head, and his eyes covered by dark sunglasses. I couldn’t tell if he was looking at me or not, but I squeezed the water out of my hair first, before stepping back out on the concrete. It was tempting to stare at his body, but that would’ve been blatantly obvious.

Luckily, I had some more eye candy. Darius had a serious gym bod. He was drinking a Corona, and dancing behind his wife. They were such an attractive couple, and were having a good time with each other.

Ooh, ooh, ooh, I love you!” Sandy sang along with the music, as she walked out on the deck, with a tray full of margaritas.

I liked the black bikini she had on, because it was accented in a really intricate design of sparkly rhinestones around the edges. She wore some black flip flops on her feet, and had her hair up in a high ponytail.

“I love this song! Did I already say that I love this song?” she was clearly in a great mood, unlike Vincent.

I watched her set the tray down on a table, and grab two drinks, handing one over to Ciara, before she danced behind Darius.

“Dance sandwich!” she cheered and hollered, while gyrating her body. “Vincent, get over here!”

He looked over at his wife, bringing his shades down just a bit, before yelling out over the music, “I don’t dance, you know that!”

That was a lie, because he did dance. He danced with me that night, and I could never forget it; the way he held me close to his body, and how we almost kissed.

I was drying off with a towel, and couldn’t help but feel as if something was really bothering him.

“Lana, get your fine ass over here, girl!” Ciara waved her hand at me.

I finished drying my hair, and approached them.

“Here, dance with my sexy wife,” Darius slapped her ass, and stole a kiss from her lips. “I need to finish barbequing these burgers.”

“My pleasure,” I smiled, and started moving my body to the music.

“Be right back!” Sandy walked past us, while she continued to dance a bit.

“Girlfriend’s got some serious moves! Work it!” Ciara placed her hand on my hip, and rolled her body against me in a really sexy way.

“Yeah, you’re not so bad yourself,” I teased.

“Oh, you’ve seen nothing yet,” she turned around and started to wind and pop her booty in front of me. Okay, this woman seriously had curves in all the right places. I was able to dance, but wasn’t as skilled as Ciara was.

I glanced over at Vincent, and saw Sandy sitting on the edge of the lounger, talking to him. Of course I couldn’t hear their conversation, but I think she was checking on him, to see if he was okay. He seemed a bit off all afternoon.

The song finally ended, as Haddaway faded in. Darius had a wicked 90s dance mix playing, with all my favourites; Corona-The Rhythm of the Night, La Bouche- Be My Lover, Night Crawlers- Push the Feeling On. I absolutely loved 90s dance music. It always got me in a good mood. That dance era was so upbeat and fun.

I laughed when Darius started fist pumping, while he flipped the burgers at the same time. His biceps were massive. I wondered if he used steroids.

“Now this is exactly what I need after that long week of work,” Sandy joined us again, dancing with the music, and sipping on her drink.

“Yo, Vince! Come over here, bro!” Darius called out to him.

He seemed reluctant at first, but eventually got up, and walked towards us, as I continued to dance in front of Ciara. She suddenly leaned into my ear and whispered, “He so wants you...”

I turned around, and faced her, so Vincent wouldn’t see the embarrassing shade of pink that had spread across my cheeks. She was clearly amused by my reaction.

“This is so my jam!” Sandy swung her hips from side to side, raising her arms in the air so carefree.

Vincent placed his hand on her hip, and kissed her cheek, before he walked past her.

I kind of felt like a fifth wheel, because I was the only one minus a husband at the moment, but Ciara made sure to socialize with me enough, so that I wouldn’t feel left out.

oOo 

After dinner, I went upstairs and took a shower, because I didn’t want to smell like chlorine. Then I styled my hair, retouched my make up, and changed into a white jean skirt, and black tube top.

I followed the trail of music and laughter to the recreation room in the basement, and noticed the boys shooting some pool, while Sandy and Ciara were sitting on a sofa, drinking and chatting away.

There was a pool table down here, a bar, home theater, a caramel coloured sofa set, ceiling lights, and a fireplace. Some of the walls were constructed in common New England fieldstone. The space had an overall sophisticated design that made it the perfect man cave.

I noticed that everyone had changed out of their swimsuits. Vincent was wearing dark navy trousers, a black shirt with the sleeves rolled up at his elbows, and a couple buttons undone, showing a bit of his chest.

Darius had on a grey V neck T shirt, and black shorts, while Ciara wore a black strapless dress with a gold belt around the waist. She had her hair up in a bun, and I loved her thin hoop earrings, including the gold cuff around her wrist.

Sandy looked amazing in anything that was green. The color really complimented her fiery red hair and cream coloured skin. I noticed that she had her hair down, and it was much shorter than the last time I saw her. The length was short enough to frame her face, and she had straightened it.

“Wow, love the new hairdo,” I approved, seating myself next to Ciara.

“Thanks, hon. Got it cut a couple days ago,” she ran her fingers through her hair, and smiled. “If you girls ever need a stylist, mine is great. I can give you his card.”

“I need to redo my nails,” Ciara held out her hands.

“Oh, me too—and I’m in desperate need of a pedicure! We should go sometime this week. I’m sure we can find a salon close by,” Sandy suggested, before she stood up, and called the boys over.

Once the guys joined us, we all started talking about planning a trip to Belize in late August. Sandy wanted to book a resort because her friend was able to get this awesome all inclusive package for six couples.

After about an hour or so, the conversation started to gravitate towards sex, which got me extremely uncomfortable. Luckily, Ciara changed the subject, and then Sandy spontaneously asked us to move the coffee table over, so that we could play a game.

I watched her gather some cushions, and place them down on the Oriental rug.

“Okay, everyone. Have a seat on any one of these pillows,” she dropped them down in a circle, then grabbed an empty wine bottle, and set it in the middle.

“You can’t be serious, Sandy,” Vincent folded his arms in his chest, as he quickly put two and two together.

I had a feeling I knew where this was going.

“Oh, come on, Vince. Don’t be a party pooper!”

“Umm, maybe I should skip this one out guys,” I felt a little apprehensive to play.

“None sense, sit down. It’ll be fun!” Sandy encouraged. “We’re just playing a little game that’s completely PG. It’s not like we’re having an orgy down here,” she laughed out loud.

“Sit next to me,” Cici patted her jewelled hand down on a gold cushion, and I reluctantly sat next to her.

Once Darius joined in, Vincent eventually sat down, resting his back against the edge of the sofa with his feet stretched out. He crossed one leg comfortably over the other, and pulled out his iPhone.

I don’t think this game interested him at all. He looked incredibly bored.

“We’re going to play three rounds of spin the bottle. I’m sure everyone’s familiar with this game. But I’m going to spice it up a bit, and add a few rules.”

“Okay, let’s hear them,” Ciara eagerly clapped her hands.

I was already feeling a little buzzed. Actually, I think everyone was getting pretty drunk.

“Once the bottle lands on you, you have to kiss that other person, and that goes both ways.”

Oh, hell no! I ain’t no homo! There will be no gay action going on between me and Vince,” Darius asserted himself.

“Agrees,” Vincent raised his drink, as if to salute him, and then gulped down the liquor.

“God, you guys are such homophobes,” Ciara scoffed.

“Hey, I got nothing against a gay brother, but it just ain’t for me. Know what I’m sayin’?”

“Word,” Vincent extended his arm, and gave him a little fist bump.

“Okay, fine,” Sandy sighed. “If the bottle lands on either of you guys while it’s your turn, you can just spin again.”

“Much better,” Darius chuckled, drinking his beer.

“And here’s another important rule. You have to kiss the other person for one whole minute. The kiss will be timed, and you have to basically make out with them in the hottest way possible. Items of clothing can be removed, and you can also skip your turn only once, but there will be double time added on your next turn, plus if the bottle lands on you, then you have to kiss double the time as well.”

“Great, full frontal snogging like a couple of fucking teenagers,” Vincent cursed under his breath.

“Stop being so grumpy, honey. Why don’t you drink a little faster? I think you need some more alcohol in your system,” she poured him a shot glass full of vodka, and handed it over.

“Yeah, I’m going to have to be wasted if I’m going to play this bullocks game. Keep the shots coming,” he held out his empty glass.

Honestly, I felt so nervous about kissing any one of them.

“So, is everyone ready?” Sandy regarded us all.

“Bring it!” Ciara cheered.

“Okay, I’ll go first,” she reached for the green bottle, and gave it a spin.

It rotated until it finally slowed down, and landed on… Darius. Oh, god. This felt so awkward.

“Well, you don’t need my permission. Get to it!” Ciara laughed, and wrapped her arm around mine.

Sandy set the timer, and crawled over to him like a dangerous predator. They started kissing really fast, right away, and then with tongue, and then there was moaning. Whoa, things were on the verge of getting X rated. Sandy seemed to dominate the kiss. Last month Ciara told me that she felt Sandy had a crush on her husband. I could see that her instincts were right.

She managed to get his shirt off, and swung it around in the air like a lasso when the alarm went off. They pulled back, and she blew him one last kiss, before sitting back on the cushion.

I looked at Vincent, and he appeared to be completely indifferent towards what transpired before him.

“Not bad, but I could kiss him way better. Three and a half stars from me,” Ciara finished her cocktail drink, and placed it on the table behind us.

“Next person!”

Darius spun the bottle, and ironically it landed on Vincent. The girls laughed, as he spun it again, and this time it landed on his wife.

“Mmm, come give me some sugar, baby,” she giggled, inviting her husband in between her legs, pinning her down. They started kissing really passionately, and it almost looked like he was dry humping her. Sandy was enjoying it, and Vincent was actually laughing. I was a little shocked when I noticed how he managed to pull Ciara’s black thong down. The buzzer went off after a minute, and he threw his fist full of her knickers in the air, triumphantly.

“I took her panties off! You can’t beat that,” he chuckled. “Good luck y’all. We so got this, boo.”

Ciara laughed, and pulled her thong back out of his hand. She couldn’t sit cross legged now.

“Okay, your turn, Cici,” Sandy announced, wild eyed with excitement.

I watched her spin the bottle, until it landed on Sandy. They started making out, and this time she managed to remove Ciara’s bra within seconds, like some Houdini magic trick. Once the time was up, she looked at Darius and gloated; “Now that takes skill!”

It was finally my turn to spin, but I felt sick to my stomach. “I’m going to skip my turn.”

“Are you sure? If the bottle lands on you, you have to do double time, and that includes double time during the next round when you spin.”

“I’m sure,” I brushed back a strand of my hair, and tried not to look so tense.

“Okay, honey. It’s your turn. If it lands on Darius, I’m seriously going to die.”

Vincent looked just as hesitant as I was, and I was certain he was going to skip this round too, but he surprised me, and leaned forward, placing his hand on the bottle.

“Fuck it—” he gave it a powerful spin, and then leaned back against the bottom of the sofa again. It took a while for the wine bottle to slow down. The slower it went, the faster my heart would pound, as it went past me once…twice…three times, until it finally landed on…me.

Oh god, no. Please no.

We locked eyes, and I almost felt like having a panic attack. This was so not happening.

oOo

Music in chapter: (all songs can be found in my video gallery on my profile page)

Jon Secada- Just Another Day

Oberst Buchner - Today I Feel (feat. Midimúm) (Alex Q Remix)

Milli Vanilli- You Know It’s True

90s Dance Mix

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