A Pleasing Temptation(8)

By: Deborah Fletcher Mello

Rising, he moved himself from his bedroom into the shower. He came out of his clothes along the way, leaving a trail behind him. Stepping into the enclosure, he dashed his head beneath the hot water and allowed the spray to pelt his back. The heated moisture was soothing as it massaged him gently. He thought again about the women who were in his life. Or, more honestly, the women who weren’t.

Wesley couldn’t remember the last time he’d gone on a second or a third date. But he’d had more than his fair share of first and last dates. He was used to women throwing themselves at him. More times than he cared to count, women who had seen him perform or who knew what he used to do saw him as little more than a slab of beef, good for a late night between the sheets.

Brenda-Joy Taylor had been the closest thing to a serious relationship that he’d ever had. She’d been a church-going girl and someone his mother had liked. They had grown up together, and both their families had assumed the two would end up married with kids.

But Brenda-Joy hadn’t wanted the same life he had yearned for. She’d been happy with average and regular and hadn’t aspired to do anything extraordinary. The day she’d told him his dreams were too big had been the beginning of the end for them. He dreamed too big and she didn’t dream at all.

The last he’d heard, Brenda-Joy had married Quadell Baker. Quadell was an aspiring rapper, unemployed and sometimes known to stand on street corners, asking for handouts to help support her and their five kids. Apparently Quadell didn’t do much dreaming, either. But Wesley aspired to greatness and he couldn’t fathom a life of anything less.

* * *

The exterior of The Wet Bar was basic, at best; nothing about it raised any red flags. Despite its proximity to Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, there was nothing about the building or parking lot that drew anyone’s attention as to what might be happening behind its doors. It was exactly what Kamaya wanted; the neon lights and abrasive signs that had been there just months ago were long gone. The women who would frequent the club weren’t interested in everyone knowing their business. Discretion was key and Kamaya had insisted on everything that would make the clientele comfortable.

She nodded approvingly as she sat in the club’s parking lot waiting for Paxton to arrive. The two hadn’t spoken since he’d delivered the news that he was tying the knot. If canceling had been an option, she would have, knowing that at some point her friend would want to talk about his marriage plans and she wasn’t interested in having that conversation with him.

She still couldn’t fathom what all the fuss was about. In her humble opinion marriage was an antiquated concept pushed by bible-thumping radicals, the Hallmark greeting-card industry, bridal bloggers and her parents. Intelligent, educated women didn’t need a ring and a license to legitimize their most intimate relationships. They could build empires, mother babies and still enjoy the love of a good man. Oprah was doing it with Stedman, Coco Chanel had enjoyed the Duke of Westminster, Sheryl Crow had her lengthy list of talented, wealthy, successful male companions. Even Simone de Beauvoir and the existentialist philosopher Sartre had made love work without marriage. Marriage worked for some but Kamaya couldn’t ever see herself doing it.

Her thoughts shifted as she watched a car pull into an empty parking space right at the door. This one caught her attention and held it because the vehicle was neither flashy nor pretentious. It was a drastic contrast to the other vehicles sitting in the lot. She’d been watching as one dancer after another in some high-priced, high-end vehicle, wearing low-slung jeans or sweats and looking like they’d just graduated from a semester of thugs-are-us paraded into the club. They’d been hard bodied and buff and some very entertaining eye candy.

But this car and its owner were in a class all to themselves. The hooptie had seen better days, rust and Bondo holding it together. After shutting down the engine the driver continued to sit, seeming to look for something that had fallen between the seats. As he finally stepped out of the vehicle and locked the car door with the key, she eyed him curiously.

The tailored suit he wore looked like silk. The classic styling fit him to perfection, and unlike his car, his clothes looked expensive. The suit was a charcoal gray and he’d paired it with a white dress shirt, a somber gray and black print necktie and black dress shoes that were polished to a high gloss. He looked very corporate and very boring. Had she dressed him, he would have worn a hint of color, maybe a lavender shirt, something that hinted at a semblance of personality. Assuming he had a personality.

For a brief moment he looked toward her car, but she knew he couldn’t see inside the darkly tinted windows. Which was a good thing, because as his curious gaze skated in her direction, Kamaya felt a wave of heat course through her body and tinge her cheeks a deep shade of red.

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