"Great work on the case." One of my colleagues smiles warmly at me before lurching to the front door. The smile I returned was orchestrated enough to not allow my loneliness to seep through but even I couldn't hide the pain that was already present.
"You've covered a lot of evidential ground, good work." Another colleague compliments me before he too stalks to the front door to join his wife.
"I can feel it Jae, we're almost there."
And that was the last person to leave the laboratory.
As per usual for the past week, I was the last person to leave the laboratory. Mason was catching up with cash flow and it consumed his time entirely. He was hardly home, flying to various areas in the country and I couldn't help it. Although this may really bruise my ego as I admit it, I was definitely in the wrong and I wouldn't be surprised if Vincenzo and Dina wanted to blow my head off my shoulders. Quite frankly, I didn't know what was going through my mind at that moment and I felt the consequences of my actions when my body was numb and lathered in my own perspiration.
Mind you that I still haven't forgiven that bastard.
Begrudgingly, I exit out the lab whilst locking the building's front doors and await DeAndre to come pick me up. DeAndre, God forbid, was always African time. You would ask him to arrive an hour before the lab is locked and he would later arrive three hours after you'd been on your swollen feet all day.
I truly hated this setup.
A wolf whistle catches my attention and I lift my head up, scanning the dusty area before brushing it off. This area was for chemical engineering and forensic sciences trainees only so I doubt anyone would want to rob this place.
"Ey! Micio!" my ears twitch at the beautiful sound and I cock my head to the side, an automatic smile finding itself on my lips.
Mason's ripped muscular body is clad in a crisp black suit and his hair has become longer, following his scruff that we seriously need to take care off. Without hesitation, I charge to him as quickly as I could waddle and he opens his arms wide, a beautiful grin on his lips.
Oh, how could I have forgotten to mention this? Mason was clad in a crisp suit and standing next to my Betsy, who looked in incredible condition after a new paint job to replace the old colour and brand new rims. Like a happy mother, I hugged my car first with heavy eyes.
"Humph, that's not how it goes about in the movies." Mason quips with an arched brow and I finally release my car, with a teary smile, before hugging my husband.
"That's more like it," he chuckles while grabbing my face and giving me a hearty, passionate kiss. His lips taste like an exotic combination of a citrus fruit and cashew nuts. "I called you last night, why didn't you answer?"
He called three times a day everyday for the past week. I found his interest in my condition endearing and somewhere at the back of my mind; I hoped that he'd surprise me by actually coming home for once.
"GMT– Greenwich Meridian Time. Which pregnant black woman would be up at three am?"
"One who really loves and adores her husband," he dips down to kiss my clothed belly with his full lips "'sup my little mullatos."
With furrowed brows and pursued lips I say, "That's so debasing and they're your kids."
My husband rises to his full height, irises glistening with mischief and he bestows one last kiss on my lips, "come, I have to show you something."
Odd, this is the first time since he's been home and he wants to waste it on showing me something.
Nevertheless, I agree to go with him to this 'thing' he has to show me. Before Mason's destination I had him take a detour to a Taco Bell nearby and he bought me nachos drenched in raspberry sauce. Sure, it may sound disgusting but the sweet contrast next to the savoury corn shell was absolutely scrumptious.
Recovering from my tastebud-gasm, I shift my gaze to Mason – who stared at me with absolute awe and intrigue – and I smile apologetically at him.
"May I?" he asks politely with calculating eyes and I nod to grant him permission to have a taste of my taco. Mason leans into me, his ripped abdomen hovering over the gears of my gorgeous Betsy and he takes a careful, slow bite of the raspberry drenched taco. Within moments, he was dashing to his window and spitting out the morsels of my taco.
"Hey!" I scold him harshly "you just wasted my food and you might get Betsy dirty!"
He returns from his window with his facial muscles contorted into utter disgust, "Cazzo, how do you even manage to keep that down?"
I laugh at him, hard and my stomach tightens at the laughter leaving my lips, "it's not even that bad."
Mason juts forward quickly and his lips are on mine, enrapturing me into a magical whirlpool in soft, delicate kisses, "you're right. It's not even that bad, it's quite horrible," he continues to press his lips on mine, drawing my lips into his mouth gently "but it tastes way better from your mouth. Much more...sexier and delicious from mia moglie's lips."
"May." He silences me with a feeble kiss "I." He does the same action once again "Get." Again "Back." Again "To." Again. "Eating." He gives me one last sloppy one "Now?"
He pulls away, looking almost saddened and he smiles tightly before veering forward into his desired route. Mason had something to say, I could feel it like sunshine on a winter's day, and he knows that he has more than enough freedom to talk to me about anything.
"Out with it." I probe him sternly and his breath hitches sharply following his sudden wince.
"I'm just thinking about the times I've been a complete fúckboy." He murmurs lowly and bites his bottom lip "I'm not exactly giving you fitted glass slippers and an evening ball experience, am I?"
My hand makes way onto his thigh, "I doubt my swollen feet would feet into glass slippers though."
He laughs lowly and we're soon thrust into comfortable silence while I continued to finish my meal.
Bewilderment strikes me once Mason sways into a correctional service facility that was littered with two handfuls of police officers. We park opposite the silver fence and in curiosity; I follow after Mason to see what the whole hype was about. Mason stares at the huddled police officers and I join him, my hand fitting perfectly into his.
After some time, the police officers disperse sparingly and a burly, built, mocha-skinned man dressed in an orange suit stares at us oddly. His ankles and wrists were bound together with shackles and his harsh face held a strong jawline. He looked like the men I would expect Mason to associate himself with: completely handsome but wasting away his good looks in jail.
"Who is he?" I ask him quietly even though I'm sure the man – who was still staring at us – could make out my words.
"He owns a nursery with only one flower growing in it."
Confused, I arch a brow, "what does that have to do with you?"
"He...he always wanted me to protect his wild tulip."
Wild tulip? Why was Mason speaking in riddles?
Fortunately, Mason continues and clears up my confusion, "You're his wild tulip that he wanted me to protect."
A drilling sound echoes throughout the whole building and the metal gates are forced to split open. Two officers relieve him of the shackles and beacon him to take his first steps outside the correctional facility. He staggers outside slowly, basking into the sun's rays and he stops. His chest fills with air and he cranes his neck, a chilling smile spanning across his lips immediately after that.
"That's your father, Germaul Luther Carter. Brooklyn's greatest crime king."
An acidic bubble of disgust forms in the middle of my chest and it wasn't a mere case of heartburn. The feeling seems to intensify as Germaul advances towards us and when he was a foot away, I lost it. My throat felt like it was on fire while I emptied my stomach in some nearby bushes and Mason's comfort couldn't help me either. After emptying my insides I begin to sob, I sob hard while staring at my delicious lunch and I sought after his comfort like a drenched animal seeking shelter from the rain.
"Mia moglie, I don't like this sight of you, not one bit. Well, you are bent over some bushes and your arse is huge and – I'm not helping, am I?"
I shake my head vigorously and wipe my damp cheeks before pacifying myself. My body tenses as I force a vast heave of fresh air and I couldn't even help the shaky breaths I released when exhaling.
Alright Jae, you ready? My conscience enquires sternly while spurting cold water into my mouth and handing me a mouth guard ayt, leggo!
A rehearsed smile spans across my lips and I squeeze Mason's hand, "uhm, do you mind introducing us?"
Mason seems taken aback by my sudden composure and lurches with me to Germaul, whom sneered openly at my husband.
"Ayt, I asked your motherfúcking ass to take care of my daughter, not to knock up her aṡs."
Mason arches a brow with pursued lips, "I can't seem to hear you; orange tends to be quite loud."
Germaul went from a raging blood hound to cracking a crude smile and giving Mason a hearty hug. They were both booming with laughter, Germaul's mouth open and displaying his countless gold teeth that worked for him.
Recuperating from his bro-session, Mason grabs my rear discreetly and brings me to Germaul's attention, "this is your wild tulip."
Germaul cranes his neck, sizing me up before stopping at the top of my head "you're Cecilia's daughter alright."
"Coffee," I blurt out with wide eyes "you and I need to talk over coffee."
Germaul shrugs, "ayt, it's better than that piss water I kept drinking."
We stopped by a coffee shop in town after we found Germaul an outfit that would be more appeasing to society and wouldn't raise any brows. The waiter, who later attends to our orders, directed us to a cosy spot in one of the dark corners of the shop. Mason orders Minestrone soup with a café latté, Germaul is set with his strong espresso and I order an enormous slice of cheesecake.
I inhale the enticing scent of coffee and chew on a plastic straw that came with our drinks. Noticing my uneasiness, Mason rubs my thigh and he gazes at me intensively, "is everything alright?"
I nod with a sweet smile, "coffee...all I smell is coffee and I miss it."
"You know that I'd give anything to swap places with you," he smiles cheekily and gives me a sweet kiss "I'd do absolutely anything."
His hand spans on my heated swollen belly and I lean into his touch. The feeling was serene and tranquil until Germaul clears his throat rather loudly, immediately forcing Mason and I to part although his hand was still on my bump.
I instigate the conversation with a bite of my cheesecake melting on my tongue, "so, I'm going to be frank with you."
Germaul nods slowly, his cold brown eyes boring into my own, "Good, I expect nothing less."
"I'm not an infant nor a toddler nor a pubescent teen that has yet to go to prom and I don't expect you to catch up on all of that," the mood shifts dramatically in the room "I won't expect any dolls or idle threats to any man who dares to look my way."
"They're most likely to come from me micio," Mason intercepts huskily and clears his throat "the idle threats I mean. No one, and I repeat, no one will fawn over your looks but me."
"Mason Giuseppe DeLuca," he groans softly at the mention of his government name "may I continue?"
Mason nods gently and I turn back to Germaul, "how did you and my mo – I mean, Mama, meet?"
"Simple," Germaul shrugs "yo' mama was a hoe."
My eyes widen involuntarily and even Mason couldn't contain his slight cough, "excuse me?"
Germaul adjusts his sitting positing from sitting with a straight posture to leaning back into his chair, "I fúcked, ate, smoked, sniffed and drank my way to the top. I owned one of the largest trap houses in Brooklyn and I was known as the King of Darkness.
Yo' mama was nineteen years when she was shaking that gorgeous fat ass of hers," his lips twitch into a wicked devilish smile as a memory dances in his head "she'd been hurt before. By some Canadian-Cameroonian-I-don't-give-a-mighty-fúck-man and she needed to money to raise her daughter Samona or some shìt.
She looked very Nubian and her hair was the most appealing thing about her," Mason's fingers subconsciously brush my hair "after her aṡs though."
Guess who got a slight squeeze of the rear following Germaul's words?
Ding. Ding. Ding. You may collect your prize.
"Then she got all crazy. Not sexy crazy but nigga-make-me-pregnant crazy and I couldn't be tied down after that. But you can't blame a nigga for a hard on after his girl twerk on his lap so I hit it. Fúck, I whacked that pússy with my hard baseball bat and a few months after that Lia told me she was pregnant. You know what I did after she told me to leave the trap house and hustling life?"
"Nigga bailed?" I arch a brow with pursued lips.
Germaul smiles timidly at my answer, "I secured my kid's life. Went over to a powerful mafia family and got her the best bae a nigga's loyalty could get. Went over to some German-Post-Nazi engineers and got her the best social security a nigga's status could get. Two friends, both trained assassins and they vowed to do everything for my daughter.
I was about to send her over to the UK for some good schooling until the trap house was seized and I was arrested for drug abuse and possession, illegal human trafficking, fraud, theft, attempted burglaries and assault.
When I saw your baby picture a nigga bawled a lot. You looked like yo' mama and you had a head full of thick curls. Fúck, them Guyanese roots hit you like that stringy white woman's song – the fuck, Wrecking Ball, ain't it? – and I sent money home all the time."
We're Guyanese? After searching for so long I finally belong in a category. I'm Guyanese and it felt good to have such an exotic ethnicity. Blair and Water – bless them – were my real pillar of strengths after all.
They have a lot to explain to me.
This new discovery, this father figure that has been thrust into my life could be of great assistance to my case and after being out of the game for twenty four years, I'm sure he wouldn't mind helping out his daughter.
"I'm working on a case and I need your help."
Germaul finishes his espresso and smirks, "Tell me more."
I had changed from my work attire to a flowing blue sundress that was fit for the evening dinner hosted by my in-laws. Showing a great deal of chivalry, we brought a bottle of red Avant-Garde wine and lemonade as a substitute for the pregnant Mrs. DeLuca.
Seeing Mase play around with his toy train struck my chest and the look he had in his doe-like brown eyes when he saw me fluttered my heart.
"You're my mommy's pretty friend!" Mase squeals trudging towards me with his elbows aimed at my bump. Subconsciously, I manage to doge him unharmed and he trips onto the floor.
"Mase!" Dina chastises, entering the room in a rogue red sultry gown that emphasized her gorgeous figure, and she steps to give us a hug...although she halted in her steps after seeing me.
"Your...your skin is lighter?" Dina frowns at her own words and looks at Mason "her hair...her hair is fuller and livelier – Yes! Yes! Oh god yes! Dio benedica il vostro pene italiano!" (God bless your Italian penis)
"Mama!" Mason whines softly while pressing his head into the crook of my neck "si prega di tacere. vi sveleremo tutto in pochi istanti." (Please keep quiet. All will be revealed in a few moments.)
"Si!" Dina nods excitedly with a grin before helping adorable Mase on his feet and I suddenly feel flush.
"Mason – may you please get me some water?"
Mason shifts into instant panic, "are – are you okay micio? Is anything wrong with the kids?"
I smile reassuringly while my chest twists following the large deal of care he just served our children, "no, I just need some water."
When Mason disappears from plain sight, I lurch forward and engulf Dina into a warm, tender embrace. As if knowing what the reason was, Dina responds quickly and little Mase is left hanging onto her grip and tugging onto my dress.
I know what it feels like, I know what it is like to have another woman replace your martial right and I wouldn't even wish it upon my worst enemy. You feel disgusted, discarded and although you may forgive him, the thought of him being touched by another woman will never be forgotten.
"You deserve so much more," I murmur quietly in case this house was wired.
"I know," she smiles sadly and I force my anger to a low "but I can't leave him. I love him and there are only five things I'm good for. Cooking, cleaning, giving birth to his fat kids, protecting his business and opening my legs whenever he desires."
My face contorts into a bitter smile, "you're so much better than that, worth so much more --"
"I'm not educated. Jae, I hardly finished my high school education and I'm more street-smart than anything."
My heart tugs at how lowly she thinks of herself but she continues talking, "you're intelligent, well-educated and beautiful, Mason would be stupid to let go of you. You two work together, the criminal and the woman saving the world from criminals – your love story is genuine and you're an asset to the family."
Our love story wasn't entirely genuine until I fell pregnant.
"I thought I heard voices," a loud voice booms with cheeriness and out of the kitchen emerges father and son, who both donned the same crisp black suit and my man came over to me to hand me a cool glass of water. I down the glass as soon as it was in my clutches in order to gear up for Vincenzo and I needed the extra help.
Vincenzo offers me a wide smile as he wraps me into a quite surprisingly, tender embrace and pecks my cheek, "fiore, you look absolutely gorgeous."
"So does your son," Vincenzo's smile falters "Mase sure does look like his daddy."
To ease the awkwardness, Dina guides everyone to the intricately set table with lavender-lit candles and wild tulips scattered across the floor. The sight of the flowers instantly reminds me of Germaul and his crooked smile that I'm sure I had put on display many times before.
The starter was a light, delicious Chicken Parmigiana sub sandwich so delicate that I had Dina put it on the side for me just so I could take it home. The main course was Chicken Saltimbocca which had a combination of exotic ideas no average person would possibly conjure. It had heavenly seasoned chicken accompanied with prosciutto ham, spinach, and mozzarella cheese.
Mason's hand would often find itself on my thigh, squeezing teasingly and brought naughty memories that date back to a week back upstairs in Nathaniel's spare room.
"Don't touch me," I sneer harshly at him and his hand falls away, following my smirk "don't touch me while I'm eating."
Rude much? You must be probably thinking but I have ample excuse for my behaviour.
Dessert was a sinful chocolate and raspberry pie sprinkled with castor sugar and had a side of chocolate mousse. The treat ended up being too sweet for my liking and I had to take more frolic acid than advised.
But that didn't mean I couldn't take some home, now did it?
"Compliments to the gorgeous cook," I grin widely at Dina while settling into Mason's chest and Mase claps his hands loudly in enthusiasm "the meal was absolutely delicious."
"Thank you very much sweetheart," Dina smiles sweetly with twinkling irises "I wouldn't mind having some African cuisine sometime, that's if you'd like to."
"Absolutely." I shake my head quickly before rising onto my feet with Mason's help. We lock gazes, automatics smiles spanning across our lips and we turn to the table "Mason and I have something to give you."
Vincenzo arches a brow, similar to Mason's one, and smiles cheekily, "presents? Oh you shouldn't have."
I roll my eyes at Vincenzo's words before rummaging in my clutch for a few pictures, "Mason and I took selfies a week ago, we tried to look flawless though."
"Hashtag no makeup and no filter." Mason pipes in cheekily and we hand Dina and Vincenzo our self-proclaimed selfies "hashtag --"
"There are two of them!" Dina screams with wide teary eyelids and flush cheeks "two babies! Two buttermilk biscuits are on their way! Only four more months! I need to call Nathaniel, Tomas, Chin-Lee...everybody!"
That smile had to be the most expensive, valuable and ethereal thing she has worn the whole night. It was timeless and if I could do it all over again, grant her this much happiness then I would, within a heartbeat. Vincenzo didn't seem quite happy about the new additions to our family and was distracted by Mase, who kept on poking at the pudgy faces in the image.
My phone was and still is blowing up following the baby news. In an attempt to distress, I went to sit in the darkness of Mason's old childhood room and googled myths about pregnancy, which some had me rolling on the bed in laughter.
The door pushes open and a dark, sketchy shadow stands at the slant opening. His arousal radiates onto me and I could feel images of last week flash into my head.
His commanding tone, his ruthless tongue, sinful lips and his body – everything hit me like a wrecking ball.
"Uh... did you know that looking at ugly things equals ugly baby?"
Mason chuckles lowly, "did you know that coitus is healthy while you're pregnant?" I frown upon him and he enters the room, disregarding his blazer while advancing towards me. He nestles himself right next to me and sneaks a peek at my phone.
"Cold feet mean a baby boy and hot feet mean a baby girl?" Mason grunts disapprovingly "who on earth makes up these things?"
"I came here for some peace and quiet," I hum softly while rubbing the aching bump "and I plan on keeping it that way."
"Alright," Mason raises his hands up in mock-surrender "I have just one question though."
I sigh heavily, "what could that question possibly be?"
"How does it feel to defy black stereotypes by having a father who would give you the world, provided that it was based on a nigga's loyalty?"
That question takes a while to sink in and my cheeks start heating up. My nostrils were flaming and in attempt to hide my tears, I smiled widely. "Uhm," a tear slides down my cheek and a calloused hand wipes it away from me "I wasn't expecting it to be like this."
"Its – he wasn't there. He never was there and thinking about the things I've encountered – I needed him more than the word itself. To be honest, I'd be able to tell that he's my father even if I had one operating eye. The aura he exudes, his grills and his whole stature is enough to send Cecilia Ruby Marks over the rails for days.
I just...I just wish she told me more about him. He went to great lengths for me and I'm honestly appreciative for that. Everything just gave me perspective – be there for our children. If it were up to me, you'd be selling paintings and not be involved in this business."
"I already sold some paintings of you -- Cazzo woman!" my hands are around his neck, squeezing but I doubt they made any difference because his lips were on mine feverishly. Our breathing escalated quickly and I wanted nothing more than to feel his skin, feel his ripped indentations underneath my fingertips and my task was accomplished.
"How many have you sold?" I ask quietly while pushing my nude body flush against his.
"About – your boobs are against my chest – thirty two? Yeah, I sold thirty two paintings of mia moglie." He smiles against my lips and wraps his arms around my bare waist to secure me to him "you're walking art and you brought in some serious cash."
I love it when we talk, although I'm on the verge of killing him but we're talking.
"Since we're planning on christening your old bedroom, let's come up with a list of achievements so that this session is meaningful."
Mason's head disappears into the crook of my neck, "you grew gorgeous boobs."
I chuckle softly with a nod. It was true and I take it as an achievement, "you came back home to me."
Mason hums throatily against my female swells, "you feel great when you're on all fours."
My fingers weave themselves deep within his luscious jet black curls, "you haven't smoked for the past three and a half weeks."
Mason stops abruptly, cuffing my hands to either sides of my head and he hovers over my face, "You noticed?"
I nod softly with a tender smile, "I'm proud of you morito mio, I really am."
"You should be," he bites his bottom lip teasingly "I now know other ways to release pent up stress."
"Oh really? How?"
"Arse up and hair down –"
"You are not pulling my hair again my nìgga – my hair ain't lifting weights and it breaks easily."
And after so long, Mason slid in home and my body warmed to his urgencies instantly. My tongue yearned for the taste of his skin, my eyes searched for his ethereal imperfections and my fingers ached to grip his back. I heard his pleas for my love for him to be undying and two beautiful girls to be brought into the world in four months time like a melodic song, a heavenly sound that would only be mine to hear.
Mason has always wanted two girls and he has professed his fantasy of ruining his daughters' lives by doing their hair countless times. He had the perfect image of them already. Wild jet black curls, wide brown eyes and coffee-cream-coloured skin.
I, on the other hand, wanted two boys. Two mischievous boys who would pacify Mason and make him devote his life to art once and for all. My boys would have thick caramel locks and hazel eyes, steering quite far from Mason's image.
I wish we were cliché, hoping for two healthy babies like every other first-time parents but I think we have established something here.
Mason Giuseppe DeLuca and Jaenelle Kenya DeLuca are far from cliché.
And we love it.