It’s been a long time and I’ve missed you.
I’ve been in my writing cave, and I’m so excited about my next book release! It should be ready by the end of this week. Yay!
Please read the details and the first chapter here.
Title: Before the Storm
Genre: Contemporary romance
Trope: Second chance romance.
Just back from a delightful date, Nkem Edun gets a phone call. Her ex-husband is in hospital in critical condition. After four years apart, why hasn’t he changed his next of kin? Regardless, Nkem rushes to his bedside. After all, he is the father of her son. But is that the only reason? As memories of their life together come flooding back, so do Nkem’s doubts. Would forgiving him be so terrible? And more importantly, could she ever trust him again?
Shots. After waking up in hospital, Tunde has plenty of time to ponder the word. Like the shot fired at him point blank, lodging a bullet in his chest that almost killed him. A bullet that also makes him think. Then, there’s Nkem. The first person he sees when he regains consciousness. Another shot. This one in the foot and self-inflicted. How on earth he was ever stupid enough to betray his beautiful Nkem and lose his family, he still doesn’t know. But one thing Tunde does know— he wants his family back. Will Nkem give him another shot?
The woman beckoned him over with a sly smile and a flutter of feathery false lashes. Tunde grinned and gulped down the last of his drink. Setting the empty glass on the cabinet beside him, he made his way to the bed where she sat sporting a racy red bra and matching thong.
He pulled his shirt over his head and unfastened his belt. Reaching downwards, he hauled her soft, rounded body to him in an embrace, letting the warmth of her flesh soothe his aching muscles. It’d been a long day of work. Two women, two surgeries. Cutting into their bodies, filling and sculpting their curves with silicone. All, just to fulfil their visions of the perfect figure.
Afterwards, he’d needed to take the edge off and relax, which is how the lovely, uncomplicated Yemisi came to be on this bed half-dressed. Always available, she never asked questions, never wanted more, never blurred the lines between them. She simply showed up, did her thing whenever he needed tangle-free sexual release, and disappeared. Exactly what he needed tonight.
Her gaze dipped to the tenting in the front of his trousers, and her smile widened. “I can see you’re quite ready,” she cooed, her voice soft and sultry.
“Oh, yes,” he drawled, slowly trailing his hands downwards over the silken skin of her back. He cupped and squeezed the round globes of her ass, then swatted them with his palms. The thwacking sound echoed in the room. Her butt was firm under his hands but didn’t jiggle. Not the way he would have liked.
Packed with silicone inserted on his surgical table, Yemisi’s backside was huge and round. His masterpiece. Perfect to look at, even if he did say so himself, but not as pleasant to touch. Not as soft and fleshy as he usually preferred. Not like his Nkem’s—
Tunde shook his head briskly, slamming the brakes on his thoughts. He would not venture into that territory tonight. He had no right to compare the two women. Besides, if he continued down that road, he would lose his erection. And he desperately needed a quick release.
“Okay, then, show me a good time,” she murmured, reeling his mind back to the willing woman in his arms.
Unhooking her bra from behind, Tunde peeled the lacy confection away and cupped her large breasts in his hands. Another sample of his handiwork. Perfect round spheres he’d created with his surgical tools and D-cup silicone implants. A fine work of art. A testament to his excellent skills as a plastic surgeon. He loved to look at them, give himself a mental pat on the back for a job well done.
“Still erect even after more than a year,” he murmured with appreciation, rolling his thumbs over the turgid tips of her breasts.
“Yes. You’re an excellent surgeon.”
“I have you to thank,” she whispered, flinging her arms around his neck. “You made me feel good about myself after years of hating my body…”
“Now, you can walk about naked and proud any time. You deserve that.”
“I certainly do.”
Yemisi’s soft giggle rose in the air, making him chuckle, too. Then, she suddenly stopped and fixed him with an intense look.
“I love when you laugh with me,” she said in a hoarse voice. “Fills me with hope.”
The gentle caress of her hands around his neck grew firmer, more purposed. She tugged his head downwards, puckering her lips and edging them closer to his own.
Tunde’s neck stiffened, resisting the pull towards her. He didn’t kiss women. Never. That was just too intimate an act, one reserved only for …
Damn it. He didn’t need this. Tunde shook his head again, trying to shut down the invading image. No. He would not think about her, could not think about her. He needed sex tonight. Pure, easy, unemotional sex. The past two weeks had been gruelling, filled with long, back-to-back surgeries. Today, he’d vowed to let himself loose in the body of a willing woman. And nothing would destroy that aim more quickly than visions of Nkem.
Yemisi let out a harsh grunt of frustration and pulled away from him. Her lips twisted into a small frown. “Why won’t you ever kiss me, Tunde?”
Startled by the sudden change in Yemisi’s temperament, Tunde disentangled his body from her. He rose to his feet, and shook his head again … this time in confusion. Where was this coming from? This completely out-of-character neediness. And where was his easygoing, no-strings-attached Yemisi? The only woman he saw now for precisely that reason. She didn’t want any more from their relationship—if you could even call it that—than he did.
For about eighteen months now, he’d abandoned other female companionship, only ringing up Yemisi. He thought she understood his need to distance their interactions from emotions and sentiments. She’d never talked about kissing him before, never questioned his lack of desire to kiss her. What on earth was up with her today?
“You know my feelings about that kind of intimacy.”
“So, I’m good enough to fuck, but not to kiss?” She pouted, her eyes flashing angrily at him.
Tunde flinched at the ferocity in her tone. “Oh, come on, Yemi. Why are you acting this way today?” he said, with a smile he hoped calmed her down.
“Well, I’m tired,” she murmured. “Tired of waiting for you to take me seriously. It’s been more than a year. I’m beginning to feel used.”
“Used? What the hell does that mean? Sex between us has always been consensual.”
She reached for the dressing gown on the bed and held it over her body, covering her naked chest from his view. “Well, maybe I’m tired of just having sex with you. Maybe I want more …”
Tunde sighed, brushing his palms down his face. “Where is all this coming from? I thought we had an arrangement that worked for us?”
“Arrangement?” She glared at him, her shoulders rising and falling rapidly as she breathed. “Is that what you call what we’ve been doing for a fucking year?”
“Keep your tone down, Yemi. The walls in this hotel room are not soundproof.”
“Fuck you, Tunde!” she snapped, springing to her feet, her eyes blazing with fury.
“Well, isn’t that why I’m here, Yemi? For you to do just that?”
She laughed out—a mirthless bellow that rumbled in the room. “Can’t believe how stupid I’ve been,” she muttered under her breath, shaking her head. “I saw the red flags from the start, but you kept calling. And I thought …”
Her breath hitched in her throat, and a film of unshed tears glistened in her dark brown eyes. “I thought you could want me one day… that I could change your mind.”
One tear fell and trailed down her cheek. Its sad path struck a chord in Tunde, and he dragged in a deep breath, regret flooding his chest. Never had he suspected Yemisi wanted more from him. She’d never given him a hint.
Why, just three weeks ago, they’d hooked up in this same hotel. And just like each time before, he’d got up immediately following their lusty romp, shrugged his body into his clothes, and gathered his belongings to leave. Never had she uttered a word of disappointment or dissatisfaction with the arrangement. No pleas that he spend the night, that they share breakfast in the morning, or spend the next day together.
No, she’d simply picked up the room service menu with a giggle and lain back on the bed, a wide grin on her face as she told him she planned to take full advantage of the prepaid room for the weekend.
Tunde inhaled slowly, trying to gather himself together. “I’m sorry—”
“I don’t need your pity, asshole,” she snapped, cutting him off. “I want you to treat me with some dignity. To take me out on dates. I want to meet your family … your son …”
Tunde’s stomach clenched. He shook his head vehemently. “Come on, Yemi, we had an understanding. What you and I do is separate from my life. You agreed. We had a deal.”
“Well, fuck that deal! I’m not a whore. I want some respect.”
“I’ve never treated you like one … I respect you.” Even as he said it, Tunde knew he wasn’t being totally honest.
He had limited their interactions to sex. Had never taken her out or introduced her to his friends and family. But could he be blamed for keeping to his own end of their agreement?
When they’d met eighteen months ago at a fundraising event, he’d been completely transparent. He wasn’t looking for, and didn’t want, a relationship. Just a loose, tangle-free liaison. Perfect, she’d cooed. Between my acting career and being a single mom, I’ve no time for or interest in a relationship either.
So, what the hell had changed?
Her sigh of resignation cut through his musings. “No, you don’t have one iota of respect for me. Never have,” she said as she released the dressing gown from her body and put it on.
“Oh, come on, Yemi, you know that’s not true, I—”
“There’s only one woman who has ever had any chance to penetrate your heart of stone.” With her shoulders slouched and her face crestfallen, she tied her belt in the middle and raised her gaze to meet his. “Too bad you blew your chance with her.”
Her words struck him like a hard slap across his face. Tunde recoiled both emotionally and physically, his entire body going rigid. The only time he’d allowed himself to be vulnerable with Yemisi, he had opened up to her about his painful divorce. And now, she used it against him, saying the one thing she knew would cut him deep to the bone.
Letting out a low grunt, he turned away from her and grabbed his shirt off the floor. He dragged it over his head and shoved his arms through the sleeves.
“The room is paid for all weekend,” he seethed, head down as he fastened his belt. “Feel free to stay if you want.”
With that, he walked out, closing the door behind him.
Too bad you blew your chance with her.
The comment whirled in his head as he made his way to the elevator, marching in long hurried strides, determined to flee as far from her and her distressing accusation as possible.
Taking deep breaths in and out, he waited for the elevator, his chest heavy with regret. Yemisi was right. He could never love her, or anyone, except the woman who had captured his heart when he was only a young man of twenty-one. Now, even after more than fifteen years, that woman still held him captive.
A short elevator ride later, Tunde stalked through the hotel’s lobby and stepped out into the night, his ears buzzing and his stomach churning.
He’d had the perfect life. A wonderful family with a loving son, and a wife who still made his heart beat in double time every time he set eyes on her. Yet, he’d thrown it all away.
He had destroyed the happiness he’d found with a woman who had loved him when he was a nobody. A woman who had quit her high-paying job in finance and followed him to New York for seven years, so that he could go through the rigorous training in plastic surgery and flourish in his career. The mother of his only child. The one person who had really understood him, cried with him at his lowest point, made him a somebody from nobody.
How could he ever expect another chance at happiness when he’d had everything and tossed it all away? Heart laden with regret, he crossed the street to his car parked on the roadside adjacent to the hotel parking lot. He liked to be discreet whenever he hooked up with Yemisi here, so he preferred a less public parking place. Yes, he was single and free, but he never wanted anyone to know who he was sleeping with. Never wanted any of that to get back to his wife … ex-wife.
As Tunde opened the car door, a shadow blocked the street light’s illumination. He whirled around, only to encounter the muzzle of a gun pointed at him.
“Make a sound and I’ll end you here right now!”
Tunde froze, pressing his lips together to keep from gasping out in fear. Cold sweat trickled down his spine. His heart galloped as he looked up from the gun into the coldest eyes he’d ever seen.
“Get out your wallet and your car keys,” the man ordered. “Slowly …”
“O-okay,” Tunde said. “They’re in my pocket,” he said, before reaching for them. Fingers trembling, he inched his hand into his trouser pocket, trying not to make any sudden movements. He retrieved his wallet, his pulse jerking uncontrollably, his stomach quivering from dread.
“Hand it to me,” the man said in a low, harsh voice.
Tunde did as he was told, fear stiffening his body. Parting his mouth, he gulped down breaths. He needed to stay calm, to keep himself from panicking.
“Now give me your car keys,” the man instructed with a steady ease. For sure, this wasn’t his first robbery.
The muscles in Tunde’s stomach clenched as he obeyed, stretching his hand forward slowly.
The man snatched the keys from him, searching his face curiously. “Wait a minute. You’re…” His eyes narrowed as though trying to recall something. “You’re that plastic surgeon,” he said with an uncertain lilt. Then, he smiled broadly and nodded. “Yes, The one on the billboard in Lekki.”
His terror intensifying, Tunde became very still. He tried to think. Was being recognized good or bad? He couldn’t remember. Should he say yes or no, admit he was the guy on the advertisement or not? God, he couldn’t think straight.
“That’s too bad,” the man said, tearing through Tunde’s erratic thoughts. “I hate to do this to a doctor.” With a regretful sigh, he raised the gun and aimed it directly at Tunde’s chest, his finger curling around the trigger. “But you’ve seen my face, so I can’t let you live even if I’d like to.”
Tunde’s feet quickened and he leapt backwards in a desperate bid to escape. He only managed a half-turn before a loud bang rang out, stopping him. Sharp pain tore through his chest as he fell sideways, landing on the pavement with a thud.
He lay on the ground, gasping for air, pain scorching every cell of his upper body like someone had set him on fire. He was vaguely aware of the sound of screeching of tyres speeding away … leaving him there alone. To die?
His lids were heavy, but he tried to keep his eyes open as images of his wife and son flashed in rapid succession before him like slides on a projector screen.
Nkem in her white gown smiling up at him on their wedding day.
Nkem, naked and in his arms, her eyes twinkling with pleasure and satisfaction.
Nkem’s stomach swollen with his son.
Nkem holding Jide in her arms.
Jide skipping about and giggling in the garden while Nkem sprayed him with a water hose.
Nkem crying and walking away.
Jide holding his mother as she cried.
Nkem smiling at another man like she used to smile at him.
Slowly, his eyelids drooped, blocking out the images as he finally gave in to the darkness that claimed him.