After partaking of this repast, if your curiosity lasts, I will spread a feast before thee....
If You Love Me, Come
Disquietude and dread befriended him. Took up with him for weeks now, like old friends.
Victor Naylor opened his front door to a resounding silence. He didn’t have to shout her name and walk through the bellowing rooms to know she wasn’t there, but he did both anyway. Action steadied him. He entered the kitchen. She’d scoured it of everything, even smells. “Shar-maaayne!” The inside of the refrigerator was a telltale sign, much like the unanswered calls when he’d phoned home from Colorado and North Carolina. He walked inside the pantry and found a can of whole stewed tomatoes and a half-empty box of macaroni among the olive oil, crackers and oatmeal.
When he tired of the mocking house echoing her name, Victor washed his hands and boiled and drained the pasta and then, in a small sauce pan, sliced the stewed tomatoes over the unappetizing concoction.
Was it possible she was gone?
He ate, his head churning with thought. Leaving the dirty dishes on the table, he sought refuge in the living room, where he sat in his favorite chair and imagined what he’d say when she walked through the front door. From shopping with Free…most likely. He picked up the phone to call Freddie but changed his mind. Freddie might say the unacceptable.
Exhausted from bouncing on the lumpy seats of his tractor trailer, he climbed the stairs with wooden legs, gripping the banister to heave his weight to the next stair. He undressed slowly. The bedroom whined and he knew why, though he needn’t have opened her drawers and stared at the gaping space in the closet where her clothes had been. No shoes neatly arranged on the other side of the door. No make-up tiered on the vanity. Not even the latest books she was reading on her side of the bed.
“Shar--maaayne! Sharmayne? SHAR…MAYNE!”
A cold shower revived his faith and he sprawled across the bed in fresh boxers and a white T-shirt he’d found in his underwear drawer. With bleary eyes, he bore holes in the vaulted ceiling, bewilderment closing in on him like a lizard with addiction in her veins and infection between her legs, stalking a truck stop for peace in a stranger’s arms. His body cried out for a few measly hours of real slumber, but his mind mocked louder than the mocking house, louder even than roaring silence.
He still couldn’t believe it. His woman had snapped, had allowed those freaking spirits to uproot shit in her touched brain. An unnatural heifer. She and that…that…damn dyke were probably laying up lapping and feeling on one another and bumping and grinding and doing whatever else made up their unnatural bullshit love.
When Victor couldn’t take anymore of the ceiling, the white stucco flashing subliminal images of women having sex, he flipped onto his stomach and pressed his forehead on his crossed arms and gritted his teeth to keep from crying.
How the hell had loneliness climbed down out of his truck’s cab and walked its ass into his house like he wasn’t Victor Naylor? Behind closed lids, he strained to remember who he was. Amused, his mind took pleasure in the knowing and reminded him what others thought of who he was, too.
On a run in April, a fellow
The trucker’s mustache fluttered over thin, gravy-stained lips. “Victor, man, you talk a lotta shit about that woman of yours. She cain’t be as bad as you raggin’.”
A penetrating blue gaze dribbled over Victor, unafraid of the result of his unsolicited advice. “Ever have a decent word to say about the old lady? Ain’t half careful, man, your lady be done packed and left you with a big-ass gapin’ hole smack dab in the middle of yo’ heart, and you, my friend, ain’t gonna have the ready resources to repair it. Keep talkin’ that yang, Homeboy.” How he pronounced ‘homeboy’ ridiculed Victor’s ears for hours afterwards, male laughter at an eavesdropping table curdling his hunger.
Now, bile in Victor’s stomach spawned the notion that although he rarely had anything pleasant to say about Sharmayne, surprisingly, he did love her and found her physically appealing. He vowed to fill the house with purple hydrangeas and lilacs and find her, wherever she was, and invite her home.
The Friday after he’d been home for one week, disquietude and dread caught up with him in the form of a tall, officially pressed sheriff, who served him with papers that
Passion lived in Nzinga’s fortress, Sharmayne’s spirits knew.
Lying on her back, arms splayed in sleep’s helter-skelter repose, Sharmayne awoke gradually, mind and body yawning, like the morning, every inch of her instantly desiring a replay of last night’s love-making. She luxuriated in the beauty of her magically changed life, and in the way it, like her body, had come into a wondrous wakefulness. Her toes snaked the width of the cozy bed, already knowing as they slithered, the object of their hunger was up and about. Skiing into the warm indentation left by Nzinga’s body in the waterbed, her toes ached to caress Nzinga’s ankles and feet, one of their favorite pastimes.
Slender arms settled for cradling a starched pillowcase, sweetly redolent with the vanilla scent of Nzinga’s body and hair. Sharmayne lay under baby-powdered sheets, listening to another Monday morning symphony of her lover’s presence.
A flush of water, a cascading waterfall, segued into the padding of feet to the vanity, where a pelt, pelt, pelting simulated the music of morning rain.
After the pelting, a whining cabinet creaked and an electric whir followed a soft sucking of teeth, and then gurgled liquid wafted to her ears. Spurts of rain masked footfalls into the walk-in closet. Then, almost imperceptibly, there was the quick click of metal on metal and a soft slap of leather against skin.
Unless Sharmayne muffed her ears, Nzinga couldn’t camouflage her coming.
Would she ever get enough?
“Good morning, sweetheart.” Nzinga grabbed a handful of sheet and yanked it from its tucked-in neatness at the foot of the waterbed and slid her hand underneath the
cotton, aiming for Sharmayne’s ankles. The tiny woman squealed in delight, flailing her arms and straightening then drawing up her legs and skating them out of Nzinga’s grasp, their foreplay making her ‘it’ in a heated game of tag.
“I heard you coming. No fair!”
Nzinga marveled at her raven’s heightened nature, at how perfectly she fit into her muscled embrace. “You hear everything?”
Sharmayne giggled, sheets above her head. “Uh huh, but I’m not sure what you did in the closet.”
“Got a shower gift from me to you. And a promise, you’ll never be the same.”
“Life-altering, huh? Might have to think about that one.”
“Abandon thinking. The objective is to feel. And feel deeply.”
With heavy rains still falling, the squirming bundle fell limp, listening, as Nzinga crawled the sheets and squatted over a humped back, cocooning it, and when she did so, a thickness between the cleft of Sharmayne’s ass made both women shudder. Nzinga lowered the sheets and breathed in the macadamia-perfumed locs. She stroked the frozen shoulders, a purple and beige strap-on, custom-made, fitting perfectly on her washboard waist. Nzinga tapped it against the guitar-shaped curves of her woman’s body. Dark and delightful. The phallic saluted, its cool, bulging head startling Sharmayne.
“Not frightened, are we?” Nzinga kissed the back of Sharmayne’s hands. When Sharmayne shook her head no, thick locs sweeping her shoulders, Nzinga cupped the small chin, and turning it sideways, gently kissed the mouth, sucking her bottom lip. She caressed the neck, the hair, the shoulders, before savoring the sensual delight of a handful of beautiful breasts. The nipples chocolate raisins, Nzinga tasted and nibbled them, until they melted on her tongue.
Sharmayne sighed. Her lashes black butterflies, like the bevy swarming about her heart, making her flesh glow with a sweet heat washing over her entire body, from the curls of her nape to the back of her thighs, every inch of her alive with throngs of quivering for Nzinga’s kiss, for the way she was drawing every drop of flavor out of her, her pussy weeping to have Nzinga finger it, kiss it, and now fuck her with a dick bigger and more colorful than any she’d ever seen…
Nzinga’s fingers massaged her spine, soothing her. Though her heart was beyond soothing. It throbbed with a frenzy that doused the jet skin in a spicy sweat. Everything about the woman made Sharmayne feel so good. Flat on her back now, Nzinga above Sharmayne, their breath in the other’s lungs, the women embraced.
“Not before you fully experience my gift.”
With kisses slipping down Sharmayne’s spine, her pussy purred prettily, and she gave herself over to being carried to wherever prisoners of love were taken at dawn.
Nzinga stepped into the tub and, maneuvering just enough to permit the cold stream to shock her body first, gradually eased Sharmayne under the deluge, the water beading clear crystals down her back. Sharmayne whimpered and went baby-soft against smooth, strong flanks, their bellies kissing, shapely midnight calves encircling firm golden hips. Soapy hands lathered Sharmayne’s body. Nzinga, gently penning her against the shower’s cold tile, moaned and stroked Sharmayne’s waist, back, and thighs. She wiggled in excitement, the cold and the heat commingling, taking her to the mountaintop to be baptized in Nzinga’s kisses.
Skin soggy, Sharmayne struggled to maintain a grip on Nzinga’s towering slickness. She tittered, slipping and sliding, thighs eventually tiring. To keep her from falling, Nzinga anchored Sharmayne’s weight with her hipbone, the upward motion sending shivers of liquid heat to her hidden pearl. Exhilaration surged between them. Moans kissed Nzinga’s shoulders, teeth nipping the skin over rippling muscles. Desire and wetness melded their flesh, leaving pellets of water powerless to squelch a smoldering racing towards a second coming.
Sharmayne gasped. Nzinga was lifting her up and down, slowly, playfully, and she reveled in the sanctity of her ass in Nzinga’s palms. She kissed her lover’s neck and lips as she felt a saluting stiffness kiss her own body. “Hold on, baby. Tighten your arms around my neck.” Nzinga’s murmuring against her ear made her shiver, and she clamped down on the Amazon, the shower’s tile aghast at her back. Sharmayne let out a soft shriek and leapt for joy. Nzinga was sliding a purple and beige wand into the pink folds of her flower. A tongue flickered over her nipples. A finger thrummed her clit.
And Nzinga’s gift filled her, and she rode it, and Nzinga rocked her, and she cried. It was true.
She belonged to Nzinga, and Nzinga to her.
Nzinga bouncing and fucking her to a variation of rhythms, their energy mounted, sending them into exquisite titillations, one filled, the other filling, until they imploded, together, in a spell of lights and colors and heat and emotion.
“You okay? Didn’t hurt you, did I?”
“Only if you can make it hurt more…I’d like that.”
Nzinga laughed. “I can handle that.”
Sharmayne lay prone in a puddle of moisture. It was shameless, but she wanted this woman, Nzinga Edwards, to love her however she wanted, as long as she loved her passionately. Understanding, Nzinga planted a kiss, like an African planting a holder’s post, on the curvature of Sharmayne’s lower back. Then she plucked the CD’s remote from rumpled sheets, where it often hid, like Sharmayne and a book, and, pointing the remote towards a glassed, ivy-adorned, mahogany case, pressed a button and released her personal brand of fuck-me melodies, the first the crooning lushness of Me’ Shell Ndege’Ocello’s aphrodisiac, “Stay.”
Then Nzinga began to play her again, a maestro, this time laying Sharmayne on her belly, unaware she was, of how thoroughly she decamped all memory of Sharmayne ever lying under Victor Naylor, the memory, something that gnawed at her, sometimes, whenever they were in the company of men. But her insecurity dissolved, always, in the love in Sharmayne’s eyes. The woman couldn’t imagine a world outside of Nzinga’
kisses, kisses potent enough to have her, as she was now, climbing their waterbed, a sumptuous morning glory vine creeping toward the sun.
“Who do you love?” Nzinga murmured into the side of Sharmayne’s neck. “Who loves you?” Her breasts sighed against Sharmayne’s back, her pubic hairs tickling the gentle rise of the tiny ebony buttocks. She reached for a plush white towel on a chair and dabbed it along the soft darkness of her lover’s body. Their fingers laced spontaneously, and Sharmayne basked in Nzinga’s aura. A magnet, she pushed upward, slowly, arching her back, signaling Nzinga to rock with her against the cool sheets. The ceiling fan whirred rhythmically. A fine mist of sweat formed on Sharmayne’s upper lip and, as the music they made sizzled, her face against the sheets, rivulets of moisture glazing their skin, causing suction kisses and, remembering the shower, their tempo sliding from light to momentum, she fastened her perspiring arms about amber forearms, her backbone hot against Nzinga’s bosom, and the smack of Nzinga’s dick easing into the tight tunnel of her ass became a never-ending symphony.
Nzinga’s body commanded her, and Sharmayne couldn’t think straight to entertain the question lodged in her locs. She prayed Nzinga wouldn’t stop fucking her, but when Nzinga plunged the phallic into her soft ass, smashing a crescendo that mashed her dazed pearl into the mattress, her body’s seeping honey sweetened the grateful sheets and she lost the power of speech again.
“Who do you love?” Nzinga trilled, low, no threat to Ndege’Ocello’s soulful “Who Is He and What Is He to You?”
Sharmayne heard her and felt her and submitted. To a point.
She allowed Nzinga to play her skillfully. Teeth clamped, she suppressed what Nzinga longed to hear and went with the drumming in her ears a while longer. Complete submission would come, inevitably, as it always did; but for now, she bit her bottom lip, prolonging sweet release for them both.
Nzinga had it like that. So she rotated slowly, until she faced her and rained a flurry of moist, tantalizing kisses on her face and neck, breaking Nzinga’s meditative pose above her. Slowly, methodically, Sharmayne pushed herself into Nzinga, their rhythm a slowed bongo that picked itself up and up, past Sharmayne’s elevated legs, and empty cat, then pounded faster, then beat harder, working itself into a steady, frenzied backdoor thrashing. In no time, Nzinga had her dangling over the edge of the world, right where she wanted her to be.
By the time Nzinga rescued her, breathing hard, and trembling, Ndege’Ocello had graciously stepped aside for the rock-n-roll sass of Melissa Ethridge, whose plea “Don’t You Need?” suffused Nzinga’s insatiable need to taste Sharmayne’s nectar.
“Who do you love?” Nzinga took a rare pearl between her lips. She massaged slender thighs before tossing them over her shoulders. Her tongue lashed a chocolaty clit, lips sucking greedily, mouth consuming sugary lips. Her fingers, thermometers, gauged Sharmayne’s internal fire.
Sharmayne couldn’t control it. She clawed the sheets. At Nzinga’s back. At her hair. At the soft valley between her thighs and hips. Until a scream roiled up from her. Head back, throat exposed, Sharmayne wafted towards a tongue that refused to take silence for any answer and, tensing with satisfaction, knew again the masterful musician Nzinga to be, her sonorous melodies coming from Sharmayne’s pores and pussy.
“Who do you love?”
Sharmayne couldn’t deny her. Forever.
“You!” she screamed. “Oh my god, you! I love you, Nzinga!”
Lips parted, like her thighs, both screaming their pleasure, the small body writhed in flames of liquid fire.
“I love you, too, baby girl.” The Amazon cradled her, their heartbeats one.
Neither woman cared a single iota about the unbridled passion slipping under the raised windows of Nzinga’s fortress in their
On the inaugural Saturday of the National Black Arts Festival, the sky was periwinkle blue. It shimmered with an invisible heat that reflected off the asphalt in the Greenbriar Mall’s parking lot and volleyed it up the bare legs of crowds of Festival-goers. Pinky and Sherrie Ann weaved their way through bands of folks heading towards the mall’s entrance.
“Honey chile, you betta drag your behind on.” Sherrie Ann had to admonish a tarrying Pinky, who strolled leisurely, hips swinging seductive in blue-jean shorts. A white crop top inches below her bust, glittering white flip-flops on her feet, without jewelry or make-up, Pinky was at home in her sensuality. Her A-symmetrical haircut had grown out, and the curly bob that replaced it now threatened to bouffant into something resembling the unconquered territory on Sherrie Ann’s straw-colored head.
“It’s hot as hell out here!”
Pinky snubbed her, stuck a finger into her mouth as if to vomit. “What’s the rush? There’s so much to see at these events, I love them.”
“C’mon, woman, before I have to cuss---some of your cousins stepping on my damn feet like they crazy and no apology to speak of.”
They cruised up the right-hand side of the mall corridor and jockeyed through a knot of kente-clad sisters engaged in a reunion and stopped to admire a display of hand-crafted, hand-painted, resin dolls. Arrayed in elaborate traditional costumes, with braids and soft wiry halos as hairstyles, the dolls were as natural as miniature girls and women.
“Bet Clemmy would love one of these little ladies.” Pinky examined a placard claiming the dolls as Sandra Blake originals. “I should put it on my credit card.” She peeked at another, searching for a price tag. “Girl, it’s a hundred and twenty-five dollars!”
Sherrie Ann frowned and gave her a look of disbelief. “Now, I know you didn’t come way over here thinking these folks traveled further to permit you to rob them slap-happy blind. They done sweated over this stuff, and can’t hand it to you, for peanuts.”
“Honey, unless Clemmy came out and said, ‘Mama, I want a Blake doll,’ I say you ought to encourage Homegirl to check in with that stuff-shirt daddy of hers and let him shell out his greenbacks for this doll.” All the while Sherrie Ann spoke, she guided Pinky backward into the milling crowd.
“Would you buy one, seeing how much you collect all kinda sculpture?”
“Yeah, if one could sing and dance and feed my fish and jump up and scratch my big butt when it itched. Uh huh. I’d buy one.”
Pinky laughed, cut her a Girl, shut the hell up look.
“Okay! I’d buy one if I really wanted it; they are nice dolls, but don’t make a decision just yet; you might see something else that catches your eye.” Stopping a few feet ahead, she peered left then right, before pivoting right and plowing towards a dazzling exhibit of African-American sculptures, the first in a long line of exhibits running the length of the mall’s main thoroughfare.
Pinky stared at her girlfriend’s departing back and shook her head; the woman’s living room was buried beneath wood cravings and masks and figurines. But she couldn’t worry herself with that nonsense, not with the delicious aroma of yogurt, candy, and chocolate-covered raisins assailing her nose. Though the last thing she needed was extra weight in all the wrong places. So she checked herself.
Then she meandered down another section of the mall, pausing now and again to finger multicolored ceramics, photography, more clothing, books and jewelry. When she’d purchased a set of seven-dollar copper bracelets for herself, a storybook for Mookey, and an unusual bangle, wide and silver, for Clemmy, she drifted back into a throng of shoppers and, stopping before a partially unoccupied bench, plopped down and crossed her legs and people-watched.
She marveled at the beauty and diversity in the predominantly Black faces and stared at the hairstyles---afros, cornrows, serious weaves, Senegalese plaits, dookey braids, straight wraps, pressed do’s, twisted locs, natural and permed, and wrapped kufi-crowned heads. Did the brothers always rival the sisters in clothing and headdress, many decked in loose-fitting, cool-looking African chic? After twenty minutes, she got up and looked around for Sherrie Ann.
Tucking her possessions under one arm and surveying more displays, she resolved to catch up with her talking girlfriend a little later. Right now, something was telling her to peep at one final exhibition.
Paintings, mounted in ornate frames, metal and wood, hung from a draped contraption behind a black, velvet-cloaked counter. A tall, good-looking, dark-skinned brother stood behind the counter, talking with a short stocky woman in a flowing dress. He was handing her a large bag Pinky knew whatever was inside she couldn’t afford, so she wended past a clump of teenagers with British accents scrutinizing a painting of a wearied black man leaning against a wall. She cocked her head in contemplation. What had drawn the kids’ spellbound attention? Wouldn’t have been
Continuing to browse the exhibition unaccosted, Pinky floated from painting to painting, which seemed to oppose one another, watercolors now, brilliant with varied hues, and then charcoals, muted with subtlety, and always of familiar Black faces. Scenes. And emotions. One painting, no, a series of paintings, beckoned her, summoning her to communion with them, the intimacy of their women, common African-American women, some young, some older, alive with the pain and joy of living in their features and bodies and personalities. She studied the sequence of eight paintings, positioned in a thoughtful combination.
Astonished at the familiarity of the exchange between the images and her, she was transfixed, remembering, instantly understanding something of what could’ve reached out and held the teens rooted in their footsteps before a simple painting.
The women whispered.
Of secrets from her childhood. Of loneliness. Of longing and the compulsion to be wanted. Brown and black and hazel gazes stared back at her from breathing, still faces; faces that soundlessly chuckled at her tomboy appearance when she accompanied her daddy looking any kinda way; faces that bided her scoot back on a sofa and thumb a magazine while Earl Taylor’s speechlessness screamed under modest moans; faces that glowed over plates of beans and cornbread and salt pork and invited her not to nurse the food but eat it; faces that censured her whines and apprehensions when fast afternoons faded into slow evenings and tumbled into slower nights; faces that favored the wintry beauty of Grandma Taylor and Miz Too-Sweet; and most poignantly, faces that connoted specters of a face that might’ve resembled her own.
“They tend to wrench you right up out of yourself, don’t they?” a disembodied voice intoned behind her, startling her. “One woman told me yesterday they’re the very semblance of her mother and aunts---until it’s uncanny.”
Still under the womanly spell of the paintings, Pinky nodded slowly without turning to recognize the speaker. “Yeah, like they’re casting spells. The more I look, the more I see things I didn’t notice a second ago. And the strange thing about all of them is I know them, I really know them, but then again I don’t.”
The voice hummed and she went on. “These women was all I knew as mothers when I was coming up. By the same token, I didn’t have a mother, I mean, not one there every day, you know, cooking breakfast, fixing lunch, kissing your booboos, going to PTA, fussing you out, sticking up for you, and tucking you in at night.” She crossed her arms and outlined her lips with one forefinger. Lost in the pictures, she swallowed rising waves of bitterness and blinked back corrosive tears.
“Hey, it’s all right.” An unexpected hand on her shoulder soothed her. “I have happier paintings that might lighten your mood. Sorry my ladies conjured such melancholy memories.” The phantom of the exhibit, his voice crisp and up North, pointed a well-formed arm to frames of dark children carousing on a corner block.
The admission turned her head. “Your ladies? You painted these?”
“Afraid so, but I hope that doesn’t mean you’ll be flying away now?”
Why would she?
It was the tall brother she’d seen chit-chatting with the short woman when she first approached the exhibit. He smiled, his face suspended above hers. He was disturbingly handsome, the kind of fine Sherrie Ann would say, deserved some pussy on looks alone. She couldn’t arrest her gaze, couldn’t thwart her body from wanting to flutter into his arms, her heart abruptly evincing any number of reasons why he wouldn’t be a flawless fit in her embrace.
“Hi,” he said, still smiling and appreciating what he saw and reading the undisputed language in her eyes. “I’m Grant Johnson, the guilty visiting artist whose work has profoundly wrecked your morning.”
They shook hands and he imprinted her features on his painter’s retina, where he’d keep them, until he sifted through the images of beauty there and brought them out of safekeeping for memorializing on canvas. “So nice to have affected you, Miss---?” he hesitated, leaving the unfinished question dripping on the air between them, a balm. Fragrant and inexorable. Like her presence.
“As in General Grant, sometimes, too.”
“Ain’t never met no real-live painter.” The admittance plummeted through the balmy sweetness between them and reverberated a timbre a brother like this one wouldn’t want to get used to; the flatness of her tone and the childishness of what she’d said upsetting her, making her wish she could magically ingest the words.
“That’s perfect. Never met a real-live princess.”
They laughed. And he walked her around his kingdom narrating back story for his work. And she reigned in the sun of his easy talk and possessive nearness. And they exchanged explosive glances. And the episode of their love played out in their heads like a movie.
Then Pinky bumped into time. It was already past 1:45 p.m. on Grant’s gold Timex. She remembered she’d promised Miz Too-Sweet she wouldn’t be late getting back so that she’d be there when that Free chick brought her and Mookey and Mr. Will back from a Festival event at her bookstore. She thanked Grant for his time.
“The blessing was mine,” he said. “Thank you for being…here.”
She turned to go, and then hugged him. “See you.”
“Hope so.” His words were more prayer than parting.
I AM a novelist, short story writer, blogger, and poet. Please look for my book on a shelf near you SOON! All praise to the Divine!