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Chapter 1

Zain Ford didn’t hear her husband, Halake ‘Lucky’ Ford, come in or slip out of his clothes. She didn’t feel the bed dip as he slid into the bed with her. She didn’t even hear him whisper her name as he pulled her body closer to his own. But even in her sleep she knew he was there.

He was home.

Having the hard planes of his chest pressing against her back made her feel protected, like if she moved closer, she’d hear their hearts beat in concert. He placed a series of soft kisses along the nape of her neck and collarbone as he ran his hands over her, as if assuring himself that she was as okay as he’d left her.

She impulsively ground against the knobbed head of his erection that twitched against her ass, teasing him. His long fingers dug into her thigh, telling her that she was playing with fire. So she smiled and did it again.

“Zain.” Her name was a mantra of craving on his lips as the deep timbre of his voice broke the hush of the darkened room. His kisses whispered against her silken tresses as his hands wandered her exposed flesh. Like a cat, she stretched and soaked in the warmth of his body as his soothing touch claimed her.

“Zain,” he murmured again. There was a slight tremor in his touch as he turned her to lie on her back.

The shadows of the room masked his face, but she knew what he looked like; a replica of her fantasies. His hands framed the contours of her cheeks and his thumbs hovered over her lips as he stared down at her, mesmerized by the slight pout he’d confessed had made him fall in love with her. The pads of his fingers smoothed over the soft plumpness of her lips before he brought his head down and kissed her.

His mouth was warm against hers as he flirted with her lips. He coaxed her to let him in with light teasing licks and placed a nibble strategically. The sensuous version of hide and seek caused her to sigh into his mouth then take a deep breath inhaling the faint trace of mint that still lingered on his breath. He took advantage of the slight opening and dipped his tongue into her moist cavern.

The mating of their tongues was frenzied, each plunge and foray designed to drive the other over the edge first. Zain shifted restlessly on the bed. She needed to touch him and to feel him. But the duvet was a tight band across her upper chest, imprisoning her movements. He pushed it to her waist, releasing her from its clutches and revealing her breasts to his gaze.

The chocolate tips perked with sudden awareness of his eyes, and her desire rose by several notches. Eager to make him feel just as desperate as she did, she tried to grab his engorged manhood. However, his hands closed over her wrist and drew it back to his chest.

“Too quick,” he muttered.

Frustrated, she settled for playing with the rest of him. The tendons of his shoulders swelled and tightened as she ran her hands over him. Her fingers would’ve seared if his muscles were any more solid or his skin any hotter.

He touched her, but the glance of his hand across her breasts, belly, and thighs wasn’t enough to pacify her. She craved a more rigid touch. She wanted to be manhandled, treated like a whore, but she knew her man would never do it – he was a gentleman to the bone. Zain held her breath as his hands hovered her breasts.

Do it! Do it! Do it! She silently urged. The tingling began when he finally cupped the swollen weight of her breasts.

“Mine,” Lucky whispered in her ear as his palm fitted itself over her perfectly bared mound. She arched her back, pressing her aching flesh deeper into his hand. His response was to pinch her nipple before soothing it as his head bent to take the aching point into his mouth, his tongue scraping deliciously against it.

The light hairs on his thigh tickled her as he slung one of her legs over his, widening her for him. Her mouth went dry as his hand settled between her inner thighs. She couldn’t hold back a keening whimper as his fingers grazed her slit.

He knew where and how to touch her to make her teeter on the edge of passion. Eleven years of practice had created a master whose explorations only spurred the fluttering in her belly. His fingers stroked her blossoming bud in time to the rhythm of his mouth on her nipple, and she moaned his name with every stroke of his thumb.

“Lucky, Lucky, Lucky,” she whimpered.

“That’s right baby,” he encouraged. “I’m gonna take care of you.”

The moist walls of her center stretched, welcoming his invasion as his fingers sank into her. The tangy scent of her arousal surrounded them as he pressed in, retreated, spread her wetness around, and pressed in again.

His shaft lengthened against her upper thigh, letting her know that beneath the measured ministrations on her body, he wasn’t as calm as he’d led her to believe. His breath hitched as she rubbed her thigh against him. She wouldn’t be stopped this time. She trailed a finger down his body to his erect rod, the crown of him already slick with desire’s moisture. He was hot, hard, and large and seemed to become more of each as she fondled him.

“Harder,” emerged heavily from his parted lips as he tucked his head into the crook of her neck. She matched the firm upward and downward stroke of her hand to the in and out of his fingers inside of her. Unable to bear the pleasurable torture any longer, he shifted his weight over her and slipped between her thighs positioning his tip at her entrance.

“Tell me you love me, baby.” Lucky pressed the wide head of himself against her opening but didn’t quite slip in. “Tell me you love me.”

“You tell me you love me,” Zain teased back, grinding her sensitive nub against the weeping crown of his cock.

“I love you Zain,” he conceded then plunged into her.

The heavy length of him pressed into her, stretching her like always. The whimper that rushed from her lips was one of both pain and pleasure. No matter how many times they came together, he always felt too big and too snug. His uneven breaths gushed across her shoulder as he paused midway inside of her to allow her to become accustomed to his length.

“I love you so much, baby.” His hushed murmur whirled about the room as he remained motionless inside her. Strong fingers smoothed the hair from her face as his firm lips traced her profile with kisses. “I love you.”

Her body relaxed beneath him. He pressed his lips against hers to swallow her moans as he drove himself deeper inside of her. The stroke was long and drawn out. He pushed and pushed until his large shaft was completely encased in her sheath.

The dance begun.

He was slow and thorough. He thrust into her with a calm precision that rivaled the inferno that burned inside, coating his cock with her moisture with each in and out movement.

“Don’t stop!” She sighed lustily as her fingers dug into his closely shaved hair. He didn’t. He ground himself into her, hitting her spot every time he entered before withdrawing at a leisurely pace and repeating the movement again.

“Not enough,” he groaned as he changed their position slightly. Bracing her legs over his shoulders and widening her even further, he started to thrust again. It felt like he was hitting her throat with every thrust in.

Faster! Faster! He sped up into shorter sharper strokes Almost there! Almost there!

When he touched her clit, she tumbled over the edge. A crashing wave of bliss swept over her and Lucky quickly joined her, spilling his seed inside her.

He held himself on his elbows above her taking in deep, gasping breaths. Finally gaining control of his breathing, Lucky collapsed beside her on his back. She turned to her side, slinging an arm across his warm chest as he wrapped his hand around her waist. He pulled her closer to his body until she was practically on top of him before he pressed a kiss to her forehead.

“Did you miss me?” he murmured.

“What do you think?” she retorted.

They both laughed because the answer was more than obvious. She’d missed him. She’d missed him very much.

* * * * *

EARLY THE NEXT morning, Zain found herself being interrogated by her three-person miniature FBI squad.

“Did he come home last night?” Five-year-old Lily Ford pestered. The little girl had put her picture book down and was looking at her mother with wide, hopeful eyes.

“We saw his car,” Iris Ford, chimed in. Unlike her twin, Lily, she wasn’t even seated. Instead, she half kneeled, half crouched in the barstool as if ready to sprint up the stairs at any moment.

“Why didn’t you wake us up?” asked Maari, the girls’ nine-year-old brother. He had somehow managed to untuck his shirt, loosen his tie, and lose the band his mother had tamed his dreadlocks into only an hour earlier. His gaze trained on the door, he asked, “Did he bring something for me?”

The children sat at the kitchen island, tucked neatly into their school uniforms as they bounced on the wood and leather high stools around the counter, trying to get information on their father. Even Runo, their Border Collie, wagged his tail excitedly beside Lily’s chair.

“Mommy, I wanna go see him,” Iris whined, one foot dangling precariously off the stool.

“Uh-uh.” Zain lifted her up and sat her properly into the seat. “Daddy’s gonna be down in a minute, then you can see him.”

Iris’ lips trembled. “But Mommy…”

“Eat your cereal.” Unmoved by Iris’ threat of tears, Zain turned back to the eggs scrambling in the skillet on the stove.

Lucky was upstairs, still sleeping off his jetlag. The kids would likely have to go to school without seeing him. But telling them that was akin to triggering a fire alarm. She wanted them to at least get something in their stomach before the groaning, tears and gnashing of teeth officially started.

Without turning from the cooker, she said, “Lily, don’t think I didn’t see your slick behind sneaking bacon down to Runo.”

“Mommy, he’s hungr-”

Before Lily could finish her sentence, Iris let out a scream so piercing it filled the spacious kitchen. “Daddy!”

With a wince, Zain turned to face the door. Lucky stood there in gray sweats and a white t-shirt with a big smile on his face. The children hastily clambered from their seats and raced toward him.

The ensuing commotion was ridiculous, funny, and heartwarming at the same time. The three of them clutched onto Lucky, hanging from any limb they could find free. How Iris managed to get on his back and seize his bald head was a mystery. Runo circled around them, barking and wagging his tail madly as the children all tried to get a word in.

Even as he tried to keep up with their barrage of questions, Lucky threw Zain a desperate look. She smiled and shook her head before turning back to her breakfast preparations. He was the one who’d been away from his family for almost two weeks, leaving them all starving for his attention and affection. She wasn’t getting involved.

He finally managed to untangle himself and get the children reseated. Zain felt him behind her before she felt his hands on her waist. She turned in his arms, skillet in her hands, to meet his kiss. It was a fast peck but it brought back memories of last night and she couldn’t help the small smile that snuck its way to her lips. He smiled back, as if the same memory had crossed his mind and Lucky started to dip his head again…


“Ew!” Both twins squealed as Lily slapped her hands over her eyes.

“Y’all are nasty.” Maari wrinkled his nose in disgust. “What you trying to teach a young thug here? Is this what’s hot on the street?”

“Boy, don’t make me shave your head,” Lucky threatened and pressed his lips against Zain’s before turning to the kids. “Were you all good while I was away?”

“Well, Maari went to Justin’s house without Mommy’s permission then…” Iris rushed in first because she was daddy’s girl through and through. Maari inserted the words ‘snitch’ and ‘stitches’ after every five words she said. Meanwhile, Lily, kept out of the whole snitch-fest like the smart girl she was.

Grinning, Zain shook her head as she walked to the French door stainless steel refrigerator. A blast of cold air met her as she opened it to remove a jar of homemade juice. After pouring some into a glass, she placed it in front of Lucky so he could drink and talk while she finished up.

She wasn’t really listening to them, but she loved hearing their voices flow around her. Zain would’ve laughed four years ago had anyone told her this would be the life she’d be living now. Cooking breakfast and preparing three children for school had never part of her life’s plan.

All that had mattered back then was her career.

Did she miss her old life? Of course. It was hard not to crave the sense of purpose and excitement that came with being Dr. Ford instead of Mommy. It was hard not to miss waking up daily and knowing something new would happen, but she didn’t regret it because it had been the right decision then.

“Mommy, my bacon is finished.” Lily tugged on Zain’s khaki capris, drawing her from her thoughts. She had her plate in hand in her best Oliver Twist impression. “Can I have some more?”

Laughing, Zain put the plate on the counter beside her then lifted Lily up in her arms. She grunted slightly under Lily’s weight, “Baby, I told you if you keep giving Runo your-”

Her words were interrupted by a loud slam of the door. Then she heard that voice that always raised her hackles, “Halake, are you home?”

Nadifa Yasin. Lucky’s mother. Zain’s mother-in-law, and the bane of her existence.

“Nana!” Iris and Maari ran out of the kitchen to meet their grandmother, but Lily remained in Zain’s arms.

Of the three, Lily was the most perceptive. Even at five, she knew when their mother was unhappy and she hadn’t missed the fall of Zain’s smile.

“Halake, Halake, Halake!” Nadifa called out repeatedly as she made her way through the house.

Lucky caught Zain’s eye roll and shook his head in warning before he shouted out, “Ma, I’m in here!”

When Nadifa finally found her way to the kitchen, she was all smiles.

With one look at Nadifa, one could tell where Lucky got his height from. Nadifa was tall and slender; even fragility and age hadn’t taken from her svelte form. Her hair was arranged in a curly bob to soften the sharp contours of her face and her deep-set eyes. She wore a long-sleeved maxi dress in a soft shade of grey that fell to her feet and was cinched around the waist with a silver belt.

“How was Atlanta?” Nadifa asked as she hugged Lucky.

“It was okay.” Lucky returned her clasp. “We won the game.”

“That’s good.” Nadifa reached for the glass that was on the counter. She sniffed its contents and wrinkled her nose in distaste. “Is this what she’s feeding you?” She shot Zain a baleful look. “No wonder my boy is getting thinner.”

Clucking disapprovingly, Nadifa dropped her bag on the counter then snatched the skillet from Zain’s hands to continue the cooking.

Zain was tempted to slap her with that skillet. The woman hadn’t even been in her house for five minutes, hadn’t even bothered to greet her, and was already firing shots.

If it were any other day, Zain would have snapped back with a few choice words. However, the kids were in the kitchen. Plus, it was Lucky’s first day back. The yelling could be saved for another day.

Silently, Zain surrendered the cooking to her mother-in-law and turned to cleaning dishes. She was almost done with cleaning when she glanced at her watch. Frowning slightly, she sidled up to Lucky. “Baby, I have to get the kids to school.”

The whining immediately began. “Do we have to go to school?”

“Can’t we stay with Daddy for just one day?”

“But it’s cold outside.”

“You know the house rules.” Zain wiped Maari’s milk moustache – or tried to before he ducked out of her reach. She added, “No missing school.”

“Don’t force those children to go to school.” Nadifa waved the skillet up in the air like it was a judge’s gavel. “One day at home won’t kill them.”

Both Zain and Nadifa turned to Lucky. He paused with bacon dangling on his fork close to his mouth. His eyes shifted to Nadifa, then to Zain, then back to Nadifa. He licked his lips nervously. “Kids go get ready for school.”

The ensuing moans and groans couldn’t dull the victory Zain felt. She knew it was petty, but it wasn’t often that she won against Nadifa when it came to Lucky so she was milking it for all it was worth. Though she tried to keep the satisfaction from her face, the small smirk was instinctive. Nadifa didn’t miss it. She kissed her teeth before throwing Lucky a narrow eyed look. Zain was sure that the moment they left Lucky would get an earful.

The kids trooped out of the kitchen with lackluster goodbyes to Lucky and Nadifa. Once Zain got them into their jackets, mittens, and scarves, she hurried them outside, through the snow, to the car and strapped them in. Just as she was about to get into the car herself, she remembered that she’d forgotten their lunches on the kitchen counter.

She left them in the car while she ran back into the house. She was about to get into the kitchen when she heard Nadifa say, “What did the doctor you went to see say?”

Lucky’s words were muffled. “…nothing wrong… just wait…happen in time…”

There was a pause before Nadifa asked, “Obviously there’s something wrong with her. When will you get a real woman who can give you your own kids instead of hanging on to your sister’s?”

“Ma, that’s my wife.”

“Boy, don’t Ma me.” Even without seeing her, Zain could imagine Nadifa’s lips curling in derision as she said, “That’s no wife. She’s an empty shell who’s sucking all your money up into her childless womb.”

“Ma!” Lucky rebuked.

Zain expected him to come to her defense, say that she was doing everything the fertility specialist had said they should do. He could’ve said that they needed more time to try, but he said nothing more. Feeling tears gather in her eyes, she turned on her heels and rushed out of the house.

“Ma, you forgot our lunches again!” Maari reminded her as she started the car.

“I’ll buy you something.”

“Burgers?” “Pizza?” She let the kids suggestions eclipse her disappointment in Lucky.


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Chapter 2

Was it rude to stare at your own husband?

Probably not, but the way Zain was staring at Lucky was the kind of stare that’d send a nun directly to the penance box. It was a sex stare. She hardly realized that her sunglasses had slipped to the edge of her nose again.

Lucky stood on the other side of the room, manning the grill along with some of his friends unaware of her scrutiny. It was hard to look away, especially when he only wore white swim-trunks that sat low on his hips and were a stark contrast to his toffee colored skin.

“Zain? Zain? Zain!” Tasha Nelson pestered in an attempt to gain Zain’s attention, but Zain remained enraptured in Lucky-land.

Mm mm mm! My man is fine!

From his lean, chiseled, strong features to his tall, muscular body, Lucky was the representation of a fine male specimen. For the last week he’d made a point of showing her how much of a man he was and how much he’d missed her. Zain could still hear the deep timbre of his voice break the hush of their lovemaking as he whispered her name.

She pressed the cold glass to her left temple in an attempt to cool herself. It didn’t work. She could still feel tingles rush from her head to her toes as his kisses whispered against her skin in concert with his hands as they wandered her naked body. She could still feel the stretch as he…

“Ow!” The slap at the back of her head caught her unaware, but the sting in its aftermath was quite real. She swiftly turned and threw daggers with her eyes at Chryssa Williams, her other friend and the one who’d snuck up behind her to give her a rapid slap back into reality. “You can be such a-”

“Bitch. I know.” Chryssa settled elegantly back into the wicker chaise lounge next to Tasha, “You need to go tell your man to put on a shirt…bony ass walking around like he thinks he’s on the cover of GQ or something.

“Saaalty,” Zain sang as she pushed her sunglasses back up her nose. “Lucky is so fine, he deserves his own KING cover. Every woman wants my man.”

“Please!” Chryssa kissed her teeth as she picked up a towel and aimed for Zain. The heavy white cotton flew over Tasha’s head and landed with a plop beside Zain’s lounge chair. “You know I’m more a Victor kind of girl. He’s got those big muscles, and I know he’s got some big things going on underneath those navy trunks.”

“Ew! Nasty!” Tasha wrinkled her nose in distaste.

Chryssa rolled her eyes. “Like you didn’t think the same thing!”

After ending the season in style by beating the Atlantic Scorpions on their own turf, Victor Zickel, the Firebacks team captain, had decided to throw a team party at his house – if you could call the pseudo-five-star hotel that – for all the players and their significant others.

The room was a reflection of the opulence that covered the rest of the house. An oval swimming pool dominated the room, its pale blue depths sparkling beneath the ornate chandeliers that hung high above their heads. The room was encased in floor to ceiling windows, providing a breathtaking view of the snow covered lawns outside.

Contrary to the bitter winds on the opposite side of the glass, the room had been heated to a warm summer temperature. The guests milled around in their designer swimsuits laughing, chattering, and enjoying the brief respite from winter’s responsibilities. Zain, Chryssa, and Tasha had carved themselves a place by the edge of the pool where they could sip mojitos and be pervy.

“You should talk to him,” Zain suggested to Chryssa in reference to Victor. As one of the few white players on the team, he already stood out in this crowd. Add in the blond hair, towering height, bulging muscles, money, and the recently divorced label, and it was no wonder every single woman was either next to him or watching him.

Of the three friends, Chryssa was the only one without a man. Zain had no doubt that Chryssa would beat the competition if she put her mind to it. Very few men could resist the package she presented. It wasn’t every day you came across a high profile attorney who was loyal to a fault, beautiful, and towered at a good six feet without heels – and she always rocked heels.

Chryssa pushed her glasses up her nose, her gaze on Victor. After a moment she sighed deeply, “Nah!”

“Why?” Zain prodded.

“Because…” Chryssa started, but changed the subject instead. “I’m not the one you should be worrying about. This bitch is staring at your man like she wants to eat him for dinner.”

“No, I’m not!” Tasha protested, her eyes focused in the same general direction. It could be argued that she was looking at her own husband, Polo, a linebacker for the Firebacks, but Zain always got the sense that something wasn’t right between the two of them. She wasn’t surprised considering Polo was notorious for playing the field and had illegitimate babies coming out of his ears. What surprised her was that Tasha was still with him.

Tasha may have been reserved but she wasn’t stupid. Zain couldn’t imagine being married to that. The thought that Polo and Lucky were even friends irritated her to no end but it wasn’t like she could tell Lucky who he could and couldn’t hang out with.

“Then why can’t you keep your eyes away from him?” Zain teased. She wagged her finger at Tasha in mock reprimand. “Tasha, Tasha, Tasha… Should I be worried?”

“You don’t need to be worried about her.” Chryssa laughed. “You know she can’t work that pussy like you.”

“Ew!” Tasha slapped Chryssa’s arm. “Why do you always have to be so crude?”

“Touch me again and I will cut you,” Chryssa warned though the small smile tugging at the corner of her lips belied the angst in her words. She put her now empty glass on the table behind them and asked, “Okay Miss Bourgie, what do you want me to say instead of-”

Tasha cuts in before she could finish the sentence. “I don’t know. Dip it down low or something?”

“For real?” Chryssa cut her eyes at her. “Dip it down low? How old are you again?”

“Waiter!” Zain lifted her arm, gesturing to one of the waiters who stood to the side of the room. The young man walked towards them, his demeanor alert. Zain rattled her order, “Can we have some pompoms to go with our virgin Tasha.”

The waiter didn’t even blink. “We’re not serving those today, but if you would-”

All three women laughed, even Tasha. Perhaps it was their laughter that drew Lucky’s attention. He handed the tongs to Polo and headed the ladies’ way, a smile on his face.

“Why is he coming over here?” Chryssa complained.

“I heard you,” Lucky said as he made a beeline for Zain.

“I wasn’t whispering.” Chryssa was unrepentant.

Zain hadn’t asked Lucky about the conversation she’d overheard between him and his mother. Her inability to provide him with children wasn’t something she liked to talk about, especially because she blamed herself too.

Lucky bent down as if to lie next to Zain on her lounge, but she jumped to her feet. “Hell no! You’re still wet.”

“Baby, you’re wearing a swimsuit.” His eyes lingered over the off-the-shoulder, see-through cover-up that she had over her pale blue bikini set. “It’s meant to get wet.”

“Nigga, that’s a Tasha original,” Chryssa took the words from Zain’s mouth. These events were about showing what you had – not swimming.

“You designed this?” Lucky asked Tasha. She nodded but didn’t speak. Tasha’s silence in the presence of men was nothing new. Lucky nodded approvingly and started to reach for Zain. “Let me see how pretty it is.”

Zain took a step back, but the abruptness of her movement jerked the drink in her hand. In an instant, a pale streak of yellow seeped through the almost non-existent threads of her cover-up.

“Look what you did!” she complained.

“I didn’t do anything.” Lucky accepted the glass Zain handed to him as she held the cover-up away from her body to stop it from staining her swimsuit. He added, “You’re the one who doesn’t want to cuddle wit your man.”

“I need to go fix this,” Zain grumbled, her brow furrowed in irritation. After getting directions from one of the servers, she made her way to the plush guest bathroom. The rush of water as she dabbed at her cover-up masked the sound of the door opening behind her. However, the loud snap of the lock was enough to attract her attention.

“What are you doing here?” Zain snapped, turning the faucet to stop the flow of water. She was still a little pissed at him for ruining her cover up. Lucky didn’t answer. Instead, he leaned against the door with hooded eyes, his unwavering gaze locked on her. He flicked his tongue against his upper lip…. her small teeth dug into her own bottom one.

“What do you want?” Zain tried again. He didn’t speak, but the thick erection straining against his trunks was enough of an answer. Her body came alive and heat spiraled through her. She wanted to slip out of her bikini because it was constricting the blood making its way to her lower half. Her response was, “No, not here.”

Ignoring her protests, Lucky stalked toward her, a predatory grin on his face. “I saw you.”

“Saw me what?” Zain took a step back, but her butt bumped into the sink.

“Looking. At. Me!” With each emphasized word, he took another long step until he stood in front of her. Compared to her, Lucky was almost a giant – he topped her by more than half a foot. His size should’ve intimidated her but it didn’t. It made her wet. Spinning his arms around her waist, he lifted her to his height with only a slight hitch in his breaths. “You think I missed the sexy eyes you were throwing me by the pool?”

“Everyone will know!” Zain protested. That, however, did not prevent her from locking her arms around his neck or her legs around his waist.

“They won’t know.” He turned with her in his arms, backing her against a wall and crowding his muscular length against her curves. He slid both of his palms down her back to cup her ass and caressed the firm flesh.

“They’ll know.” She shook her head but didn’t stop pressing her lower body against his still-growing shaft or grinding against the head of his cock in slow figure eights as he encouraged her with rhythmic squeezes of her ass.

“They won’t,” he insisted, his lips searching for hers. When they did find hers, the explosion sent her wits spinning out of control. His tongue sought entrance; he advanced, she retreated; she resisted, he coerced until finally she opened up to him, their tongues meeting in a furtive mating.

He moved one hand between their bodies; first skimming her breasts, shaping their heavy fullness in his large palm and flicking their pebbled tips then lower, much lower. The first touch of his fingers against her clit, over her bikini bottoms, set her senses on edge. He captured her open mouthed gasps with his lips as he plucked the pulsating nub.

She now stained more than her cover-up, but it didn’t matter. All that counted was how good Lucky could work her body. Her mouth went dry as he pushed the gusset to the side and touched her. Her keening cry filled the bathroom as his thick fingers brushed her moist slit.

“You like that, don’t you?” he murmured against her temple as he pushed a finger in and out of her. She whimpered in protest as the pleasure abruptly stopped.

“Easy baby. I gotchu.” Before he could drop his trunks completely, Zain was bearing down on him. He stopped her just as her pussy touched his tip with a firm squeeze of her ass.

Forgetting that she’d just been protesting this very thing, she moaned, “Lucky stop teasing. Put it in!”

‘Tell me you love me,” he demanded.

Unlike the previous night, she was too desperate to be proud, “I love you.”

“I love you too.” He tucked his head into the crook of her neck and pressed his hips forward. His entrance was slow and thorough; inch-by-inch until he fully possessed her. Once her body relaxed over his, he lifted his head, locked his gaze to hers and pushed deeper.

“You like that?” he asked.

“Yes!” Her hissed word was his cue and soon he pounded into her, spearing her with long, smooth thrusts. The mirrors around them vanished, the cold ceramic pressing into her back disappeared, the slapping sound of their skin meeting faded…every sound and sight waned until there was only Lucky and his long strokes.

“Lucky.” Her fingers dug into his closely shaved hair as her body began to quiver and the walls of her pussy contracted over the hard cock inside her. A few more strokes in and with a loud moan, she came.

“Fuck!” He slammed his mouth over hers, speeding into faster, shorter and sharper strokes. Hardly a minute later, he spilled his seed inside her.

Lucky held Zain against the wall, kissing her neck as they both caught their breath. When he spoke, there was an amused lilt to his words. “Damn! Look what you made me do.”

“I didn’t do anything,” Zain protested as she slid back to her feet. She watched Lucky tear off toilet paper with a small pout. “I told you we shouldn’t do it here.”

“But you liked it,” he teased.

“Maybe I should stay behind and come back out later,” she suggested as they cleaned up and righted their clothes. They already had a rap sheet for having sex in the locker rooms and she didn’t want to add to it.

“Nobody’s gon’ know anything,” he persuaded, leading her out of the bathroom. “Your man’s got you.”

He was right. No one had a clue about what they’d been up to.

* * * * *

BY SIX P.M., the party still hadn’t died down and there had even been suggestions of running it into the night. As much as Zain was enjoying herself, she had children to think of. After changing into warmer clothes, she made her way to the screening room where Lucky and some of the other players had disappeared to watch a game.

Pulling him to the side, she said, “I need to pick up the babies from your mom’s house.”

“Let me get my clothes so we can leave.” Lucky started to move but she stopped him with a hand on his arm.

“No, you stay,” she said, “You’ve been working too hard and need to have some fun.”

“You sure?”

“I’m sure.”

“Thank you.” He dipped down to for a small kiss. “The car keys are in my pants. I’ll get Victor or Polo to drop me home.”

Zain left after saying her good-byes to everyone else. Contrary to the heat inside Victor’s house, it was freezing as she stepped outside. Hood over her head and nose buried in her mitts, she rushed to the black truck. She cleared the windows of snow before backing out of the driveway, headed for Nadifa’s home. By the time Zain weaved through the identical brick houses that characterized Nava Heights – each packed closely together with only picket fences to separate them – it was dark.

Nadifa must’ve been watching for Zain at the window because before Zain could even park the car, the children were shuffled out of the house and the front door was slammed shut. Nadifa wasn’t interested in talking to her. Message received.

“Freeeeezing!” Maari’s teeth chattered as he settled in the front seat.

“Faster Mommy!” Iris whined as she tried to help Zain buckle Lily into her car seat. “Faster, faster, faster!”

Zain was subdued on the ride home. The children didn’t seem to mind much; Maari drifted off into sleep as the twins entertained themselves in backseat with Lily’s book, and only drew her attention when they needed help with a word. With the snow coming down fast and heavy, it took a while to get home and by the time they did all three children were deep asleep, their necks cocked at odd angles.

Her headlights reflected off the imposing gates that led up to the house. The security guard stood outside the gate but wasn’t alone. In front of him was someone huddled in a large overcoat. His agitation was obvious from the way he was flinging his arms about as he spoke.

The moment the guard spotted Zain’s car, he rushed to open the gates while the person stepped to the side. Whoever it was was tucked deep into the overcoat. With the scarf wrapped around their lower face that it was impossible to identify them. Instead of driving up to the house once the gates were open, Zain rolled down her window, “What’s going on?”

“Ma’am, I’m trying to tell her that she can’t see Mr. Ford without an appointment,” the guard explained, “but she won’t go.”

Because of Lucky’s crazed fans, the Fords had a strict ‘no entry unless by appointment’ rule for anyone who wasn’t family or friends. Still, Zain felt bad for the woman – whoever she was. Only someone with something very important to say would bother slogging through all the cold and snow.

“Let her in.”

The moment Zain parked the car outside the house, their housekeeper Marilyn rushed out to help carry the sleeping children from the car. By the time Zain came back downstairs, Marilynn had already directed the woman to the den. The woman stood by one of the settees, her back to the door, her jacket gone and replaced by a black jumpsuit and ankle high boots.

Zain drew her attention. “Hi, I’m Mrs. Ford.”

She turned, abruptly startled by Zain’s voice. It was then that Zain noticed the very obvious bump the woman was sporting. She was as pregnant as the Virgin Mary. Her first thought was: Who the hell wore a jumpsuit when they were that pregnant?

The moment the woman’s eyes settled on Zain, they widened. However, the panic there faded and her gaze took on a measuring light. She looked Zain up and down before she finally said, “I’d like to see Lucky.”

Lucky? His name rolled off her tongue like she was familiar with it – like she knew him. Zain didn’t need a genius to tell her what was going on. One pregnant woman, one measuring gaze, plus an uncanny familiarity with her husband only equaled one thing.

Zain shouldn’t have let the woman in.


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Chapter 3

The woman was beautiful. There was no denying it. Her waist length hair, small heart-shaped face, flawless complexion, slightly pouted lips, and long lashed eyes made her look like she’d walked off of a Spanish soap opera and straight into the Ford’s living room.

“I’d like to see Lucky.” Her tone was polite, but the small tilt of her mouth as she spoke and her arched eyebrow told another story.

Zain was speechless. Again? Again? The word kept running around in her mind as she stared at the woman. Zain was tired of these whores trying to pin a baby on her husband. A month ago another had threatened to sell her story to the media unless they paid her five million to go away. She’d gotten rid of that one fast enough and she’d do the same with this one’s pregnant ass too.

Calm down. Take a deep breath in, Zain. You might be wrong. She took another deep breath. “I’m his wife. I’m sure whatever you want to tell him, you can tell me.”

“If he’s not around I’ll come back later.” The woman’s eyes darted to the door.

Oh no you don’t. You’re not going anywhere! Zain shifted in front of her, blocking the exit. “It’s cold out there. You can wait for him here.”

“I don’t think…”

“Have a seat!” Smiling, Zain gestured to the brown leather couch. Her tone was hard as she added, “Please.”

The woman hesitated for a second or two but, as Zain expected, she surrendered. Wincing slightly, she lowered herself gingerly to the couch, rubbing her tummy as she went. If it had been anyone else, Zain would’ve rushed to help her, but she wasn’t feeling very generous at the moment. However, the smile on her face would’ve fooled anyone, especially when it was followed by a pleasant, “Would you like something to drink?”

The woman shook her head.

“You must be cold,” Zain declared, ignoring her refusal. “I’ll get you some tea.”

Oh, she was calm; calm as she waited for the water in the kettle to boil and calm as poured it into a cup. Calm she stirred in sugar and cream with the tea. Women like that one were the reason she didn’t have arsenic in the house. One never knew when temptation would strike.

Zain delivered the poison-free tea to the woman. The woman on her part gave her a measuring gaze as if she didn’t quite trust Zain before accepting the full cup that sat atop a saucer. Instead of drinking it she put it on the coffee table in front of her. Zain reached for the remote control, put on the large TV that sat over the mantelpiece and settled beside the woman. The woman shifted slightly away.

There was silence between the two as a comedy played on the screen in front of them. Not even the on-screen laughter could ease the thick invisible thread of tension in the room. If anything the noose only tightened. That’s right. Squirm.

Contrary this woman’s straight-backed and stiff sitting, Zain slouched on the couch pretending a relaxation she didn’t feel. She even laughed at some of jokes on TV. Once the credits began to run, she turned to the woman with a pleasant smile. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”

“That’s ‘cause I didn’t say it,” the woman returned.

Oh Lord! Please give me strength! Zain was tempted to smack the words back into the woman’s mouth, but the sound of a car purring outside interrupted her violent thoughts. Zain stood. “There’s Lucky. Let me get him so you two can talk.”

She met Lucky at the door. Gone were the swim-trunks. They’d now been replaced by a grey overcoat, jungle green sweater, and grey chinos.

“Hey.” He dipped down for a kiss as he shrugged out of his coat. Their lips touched briefly before Zain pulled back.

“Baby, hold my earrings.” Zain pulled off the silver hoops and placed them in his open palm.

“What’s going on?”

“We got another one.” Zain wound her shoulder length jet black hair into a tight band, kicked off her house shoes and tugged him by the hand to the den.

Obediently following her, he asked, “Another what?”

Zain was in her zone, awaiting Lucky’s go ahead. The moment he gave the sign that pregnant heifer would be out on her ass faster than lightening striking metal. The woman in questions turned the moment Lucky and Zain entered the room, her wide eyes shifted between the husband and wife team.

Making a whole production of it, Zain gestured with flourish towards her. “Baby, there she is.”

She turned to Lucky, expecting him to start yelling, expecting his eyes to narrow, and the muscle in his jaw to start ticking as it usually did when he was angry. She expected him to yell at the woman, tell her to get the hell out of his house and threaten to haul her off to jail himself. Instead, he took a step back and his eyes widened.

It was then that she knew. This nigga got this girl pregnant!

Lucky turned to Zain, an excuse ready at the tip of his tongue. “Baby I-”

“Mm mm, don’t speak.” Zain raised a palm to stop his words as she fought the idea of this really happening to her – to them. “Don’t speak!”

She paced the room, to and fro, with her eyes on the floor as she took deep breaths. Calm down, Zain. From the corner of her eye, she saw the woman stand up from the seat, edging to the other side of the room. Lucky, however, remained glued in front of her. Zain took a deep breath. “Lucky, do you know that woman?”

“Baby, I swear Sonia is—”

He knew the woman’s name? Screw calming down!

She didn’t even know how it happened. One minute she was staring at him and the next she had a vase in her hands. She flung it at him with all her strength. He was lucky he had good reflexes or else the ceramic would’ve shattered on his face and not the floor.

“Shit!” he hollered, but Zain had already lifted another piece of their expensive junk and aimed for his head. “Zain, stop!”

Zain wasn’t about to stop. Not with the heated rage that’d exploded in her system. There wasn’t enough space for reminders that their children were upstairs because all she wanted was to hurt him.

Figurines, pillows, flower vases, decorative mugs and anything she could lift was thrown at him. Lucky bobbed up and down the den as if he was on the field. Before she could launch a stool at him, he tackled and lifted her into the air with her back to his front.

“Baby, let me explain!” he panted in her ear as he carried her out of the den and up the stairs. She struggled to get herself out of his arms, throwing her legs around and kicking at his knees, but her strength was no match for his and he kept walking.

“I’m going to kill you.” Her tone was icy, her words precise as she dug her fingernails into his forearms. If it weren’t for the sweater, she’d have drawn blood by now. He winced in pain but didn’t release her. She repeated, “I’m going to kill you.”

“No, you’re going to cool off.” He kicked open the door to their room. “Then we’ll talk.”

He threw her on the bed and before she could scramble off and get another weapon, he was out of the room. There was an audible click as he locked the door behind him.

* * * * *

“FUCK!” LUCKY CUSSED as he paced in front of their room, running his hand over his close shaven head in panic. “Fuck!”

“Halake, let me out.” Zain didn’t shout but she might as well have. He jumped at the loud thump that immediately followed the low growl of her words. He stared at the door, half afraid that she’d cut into it with one of her heels and come after him.

Fuck! He’d royally screwed up this time and Zain was going to kill him.

The door to the twin’s room opened and Marilynn peeked out. “Is everything okay, sir?”

“Yes!” Lucky snapped. He’d forgotten the kids were here, as had Zain. It took a lot to get Zain to that point, but Sonia had caused her to snap. What the hell was Sonia doing here?

Taking them two at a time, he descended the stairs and headed for the den. She wasn’t there. Maybe she’d left. Maybe not. Needing to make sure, he yanked the front door open and – without bothering to put on his coat – stepped out. The cold air bit into his body but Lucky was a man on a mission. He peered towards the gates, his eyes searching the consuming darkness to see if she was walking in that direction.

“I’m here.” Sonia was leaning against the wall of the house, burrowed into the large coat. It was eerie to see her face after so many nights of having nightmares about her. Every morning for weeks he’d woken up in a panic, expecting once again to see her lying beside him in bed instead of Zain. That panic was nothing compared to what he felt now.

“You need to get the fuck out of here!” Anxiety fueling his actions, Lucky grabbed her arm to march her to the gate.

“Excuse me, boo.” Sonia snatched her arm from his hold. “Who do you think you’re grabbing like that?”

“You need to get out of here,” Lucky insisted.

“You wasn’t saying that when you were fucking me.” Sonia cut her eyes at him as she settled against the wall again, her arms folded over chest.

“Here.” Hands shaking, he reached into his back pocket to come up with a wallet full of bank notes. Taking a few hundreds out, he held them out to her. “Take this and get out of here.”

“I don’t want your money.” She sneered at the money in his hands.

“Then what the hell are you here for?”

“As you can see…” She popped open her overcoat to reveal her midsection. Lucky was stunned into silence. He’d been so focused on her face and diffusing the situation with Zain that he hadn’t even noticed a pregnant Sonia. “…we need to talk.”

* * * * *

INSIDE THE HOUSE, Zain paced the bedroom with a wine bottle in her hand. Lucky didn’t come. She arranged thirteen pairs of his shoes on the bed in readiness to aim the moment he unlocked the bedroom door. He didn’t come. She practiced her right hook: one, two, three. He still didn’t come.

Almost two hours later, the steam fizzled from of her body. The evening’s events slowly sunk in. He’d cheated on her. Lucky, the man who had sworn to love and protect only her had cheated on her. She slid down onto the carpeted floors, her back against the bed and her head in her hands.

He got another woman pregnant.

He’d given the baby he’d promised to give her to another woman.

She began to cry.

Sobs racked her body and tears streamed down her cheeks as she laid curled in the fetal position on the floor. How could he do this to me? After all we’ve been through? Eleven years? Eleven years and this is what he does! She didn’t know how long the tears came, but the pain inside wouldn’t let them stop. When her tear ducts were finally exhausted, she slept.

She awoke in darkness with a heavy arm draped around her waist and his whisper-soft breath dancing against her hair. She was momentarily disoriented, wondering why she was still dressed. As the memories flooded her mind, so did the anger.

She took great care not to wake him as she lifted his heavy arm off her body. Once out of bed, she walked towards the bathroom and closed the door behind her to mask the rush of water as she filled the bin they kept beneath the sink with the ice cold liquid. When it was full, she shut off the tap, opened the door, and walked toward the bed with the heavy bin cradled in her hands.

He was so calm in his sleep. So comfortable!

Zain dumped the bin over his head, water and all.

Waking in a rush, Lucky spluttered and cursed as he sat up. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“You said you wanted to talk.”



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