2

MEREDITH



"HeyHerman how are you?"I said with a genuine smile.He stared at methe emotion in his face seemingly nonexistent.I used to be able to look in his eyes and see adoration and lovebut now there was just nothing at all.Those eyes were empty and cold.


"I'm fine." He turned to look at the TV.


"You look tired.Did you have a long day?" I asked walking closer.


"I said I'm fine." He snapped.


"Okay.Did you eat?I can make you something real quick."


He narrowed his eyes."Here we fucking go again.If we are not going to fuck.Can you just zip it?I'm trying to concentrate on my game and you're being a nuisance."


I sighed and calmly looked at him. "I was just trying to make conversation."


He scowled at mehis eyes zoning in sharp and angry before he stood up going to the kitchen."You're trying too hard.I'm getting sick and fucking tired of you asking too many questions all the time.Just shut up."


I moved into the kitchen and stood thereback pressed against the counter and arms crossed over my chest. "I'm sorry if I offended you in some sort of way.I was just.."


"Womanshut your broke ass mouth up.You talk too much and its annoying!" He bellowed and turned over looking at me.


"Herman." I said softly and walked over to him.


I placed my hands on his sides and looked in his eyes. "You're being too hard on me and its not fair.I never asked to be in this situation in the first place but we all have to accept what life throws at us.I didn't tell you about my debt because I didn't want to appear as if I wanted money from you.You don't have to bring me down all the time when I'm trying to be nice to you.I love you but I can see that you no longer feel the same about me.I have been observing.You don't take my calls.You come here when you feel like it.And all you ever do when you're here is to insult me.I know there is someone out there who has replaced me.I have told you from the beginning when you feel like you don't want me anymore just leave.I'm giving you a way out.There is no need for you to pick up fights with me or try to start unnecessary quarrels.You don't love me anymore or maybe you never did in the first place and that's okay.You can just leave.I can't do this anymore.I'm tired of you constantly bringing me down instead of encouraging me.At this point in my life all I need is positivity but you give me the exact opposite.I can't take more of it.I have had enough.This is not the Herman I used to know.You have become a man I do not want to spend my future with.You don't have to try and convince yourself that I'm a bad person by starting unnecessary arguments.It won't make you feel better about yourself.There is nothing left for us.You don't love me anymoreI get that and I accept it.You can take your things and drive your fancy car out of my broke life."


He scoffed. "No one will want to spend a future with you anywayexpect for your debts obviously.You really have the nerve to break up with me after all the shit I had to put up with.I did you a favour by approaching you.Do you think anyone wants you?You're a fat pig and you think you're all that.."


"Please don't say things like that to me.Please just leave.I'm not fighting with you.Just go Herman.You and..."


 _Slap!_ It came out of nowhere and shocked me so heavily that I stood thereface stinging eyes widehorrified.He stood in front of meglaring down at mepanting with a rage I have never seen on a person.This wasn't the man I fell in love with.It certainly wasn't the man I wanted a future with.


I turned to walk out but he grabbed my hand roughly. "You're not going out there to cry abuse.I fucking slapped you.I didn't punch you."


"So that makes it okay?You slapping me is okay?Please just go Herman.This will not end well.Its over between us." I tried keeping my voice as placid as I could.


"Its over when I say so bitch." He backslapped me that I staggered.

"You think you're all that but you're not.You were a bet and I won that bet.We placed a bet on your pussy bitchand I conquered it.Now you have the nerve to say its over.Its not over until I say so." 


So many thoughts and words swirled around in my headbut honestlynone of them seemed to want to move past my lips to escape.I was numb.Completely shocked.I wasted an entire year loving this man only for him to tell me that I was a price he won.


"And you dragged my son into this."


"Bitch.."


"I said leave!I don't care that you used me.I don't care that I was a bet.But you dragged my son into this.You involved my son's feelings into this mess and I will never forgive you for that." He looked at mecompletely shocked that I had raised my voice.


"Listen to me you..." He didn't finish his statement.I let my anger get to meand I did something I'd wanted to do the entire time.I slapped him hard across the face.After he got over the shock of what had just happened he tried to retaliate.Herman was a large man with enormous shoulders and chiselled arms.But despite his sizehe was slow and predictable.When he tried to move towards me in his attack mode I didn't give him the chance to.I slapped him again across the face and kneed him in the dick and then kicked one of his knees.He moved with all my hitsfalling down because I had struck him so quickly hitting all his most vulnerable places.


"I told you this was not going to end well.Just because I don't say much and I have a high level of tolerance it doesn't mean I'm weak or stupid.Now get out.You have three seconds to get out of my house.OrI'm gonna kick you in the face and knock out two front teeth.What's it gonna be?" I stood over himvictorious.

Self-defense was something I learnt from the neighborhood I lived in as a kid.It was a bad neighborhood with gangsex-convicts and criminals.I didn't have a father to protect me because my parents divorced when I was so young.I had a brother yes but he wasn't always there to protect me.I was subjected to sexual harassmentbody shaming and at one point molestation.Then I learnt to defend myselfso I threw mean punches and I could take some like a professional.The reason why I didn't defend myself from Kate four years ago was because I was pregnant.All my focus was on protecting my child than myself.If that wasn't the caseI was going to show her flames and be sued for something I actually did.


Herman scowled at menursing his balls."This isn't over."


I opened the door for him.He left so fasthe didn't even get his clothes and shoes and other stuff he had at my place.When I heard him driving outmy anger subsided and the sadness came.I was devastated.This hurt so much.I loved this man.

After crying my eyeballs outI took a shower and started cleaning the mess he had made.While I was at itthe door opened and Leigh-Anne walked in.


"You forgot your phone in my...What the hell happened to your face?" She raised both her eyebrowslooking at me from my head to toe.


I breathed hardtrying to control my tears but they coursed down my cheeks anyway.


"Herman hit you didn't he?"


"Its just a mess.He.."


She looked at mehands on her hips as she stood tall in her wedges. "I'm calling Chicago." She took out her phone and dialled.


"We have a situation.I'm at Meredith's place.Its code red." She hung up and looked at me.


"You can sit down.I will finish doing that.When Chicago comes you will explain to us why the hell you didn't tell us that this man was abusing you." She grabbed the broom and started working.


In less than an hour Chicago's car pulled into my yard.Within seconds she stormed in.


"What the hell happened to your face?" She examined it.


"Herman hit her.Now I wanna know why she never told us anything.I told you this guy wasn't hood for you and you should leave me.Now this." Leigh-Anne folded her arms.


Chicago sighed and sadly looked at me.This was personal to her because she was once a victim of an abusive relationship. "A lot of women who suffer physical violence go through this.You can get in a bad relationship and you don't or you can't find your way out.It's easy to talk about leaving him.Its hard to do it.Part of you really thinks it will get better but it won't.Meredith I feel guilty because if it wasn't for my cousin you wouldn't have met Herman.But you can't stay in a relationship where you're abused.I will never let you.Yes its your life but this shit will not happen under my watch."


I shook my head. "You need to relax.He never hit me before.Needless to sayI'm not justifying what he did.We had an argument when I got back.It wasn't really an argument from my side but he made it one.I have had enough so I broke up with him.He didn't take it wellso he slapped me.I told him to leave and he slapped me again.Then he told me that I was a bet.I was hurt that he involved my son in that so I hit him and kicked his balls then he left."


"What?" They both looked at meshocked.


"They placed a bet on you.Who does that?"Chicago fumed with anger.


Leigh-Anne shook her head.She took my phone and started typing.


"What are you doing?"


She gave me my phone. "Just texted Herman."


I read the text. "Fuck youyou worthless nutsack.I'm setting your shit on fire.I will start with your Jordans." I looked at Leigh-Anne.

"Why would you say this?"


She shrugged. "Because we are setting his shit on fire.And I want him here.Trust me honeyhe will come.Black men love their sneakers way too much."


Chicago carried all of his things to the fire place and lit it.


"Guys I really don't want to fight with him.Just let him come and take his things.I don't wanna fight over shoes.You never know what's gonna happen if you mess with a black man's shoes."


Leigh-Anne chuckled. "Ohh shit is going down honey.Someone is getting their ass beat and its definitely not gonna be us." She threw Herman's brand new Versace shirt into the flames.

"This shit is even fake."


Like Leigh-Anne had predicted moments later there was a loud bang on the door.

"Open this door Meredith.I ain't playing with you.Don't touch my Jordans!"


"I will go get it." I opened the door and he stormed in like he owned the place.


"Look what the cat dragged in." Leigh-Anne folded her arms.


"I don't have time for you two."


"Neither do we." Chicago did what any black woman who was being disrespected would do.She punched him right in the face.Leigh-Anne hit him in the knee with her massive shoes and he fell on the floor.They started stomping on him.They were straight ghetto-stomping him out.It was like watching a Jackie Chan movie.Hit after hit being delivered in seconds.I didn't even stop them.He deserved it.That was for playing with my son's feelings when he knew he wasn't going to stick around.


"Get your ass up nigger.We are fixing to beat your ass some more.We are fixing you for the next woman.You will think twice before laying your hands on her or gambling on someone's feelings." They started going berserkwhile Herman groaned on the floor.


When they were tired they glared at himbreathing heavily. "Come near our girl againand I will pluck your balls from your body  like peaches off a tree.Bitch.I'm a doctor you piece of shit.I will kill you and make it look like an accident.They will perform an autopsy and conclude it a natural death.Don't mess with my girl."


"And I'm a lawyer you pathetic excuse of a man.Even if she gets caught I will defend her in court and she will walk out a free woman.You don't know us." Chicago shouted and walked towards himready to attack again.


Herman got off the floorgroaning.He looked at me. "I could have stuck around but you're boring.You're not fun and spontaneous.At least wear a lingerie for the next guy who will have the courage to be with you.You already have a coldrigid pussy and you add to that problem by your boredom.Try new things and be fun."


"Niggeryou still have some shit to say?" Leigh-Anne walked towards him.He wiped his bleeding nose and limped out.


"We are selling your Jordans you piece of shit." Chicago shouted and locked the door.


We exchanged looks and laughed our lungs outbut I ended up crying.Chicago cupped my face while Leigh-Anne squeezed my shoulders.

"Meredith aww you beautifulbeautiful sweet mess.There are many ways to get over a toxic relationship but you have to put yourself together.You cannot let this catastrophic moment control your life.You're better and stronger than that.You're Meredith Burnett."


"I agree with Chicago on that one.I know you're hurt and everything but the dude is garbage.I ain't gonna say I told you so." 


"So sensitive of you Leigh-Anne." Chicago glared at her and she threw her hands in the air.


"I can organise for you to get a dick tonight so you can get over that trash."


Chicago rolled her eyes and patted my back. "Don't convince her to go back and forth with guys.She is not a Rihanna.She is more of a Beyonce.Not like someone I know."


Leigh-Anne chuckledher eyes lighting up at the same time. "I know i get back and forth with guys.I don't have a problem being forward with men.Time is important to me so I like to get to the point as quickly as possible.If he isn't into methat's just fine.I will find someone who isso in that way the cycle is endless.If I'm your Rihanna then that's okay."


I wiped my tears and sighed. "If there is something that this relationship has taught me is that if you pursue happinessit will elude you.But if you focus on your family the needs of othersyour workmeeting new peopleand doing the very best you canhappiness will find you.After Sebastian I just wanted to feel loved.I wanted to make myself believe that whatever Kate said wasn't real.As a result I pursued happiness.I gave my all in this relationship and invested all my feelingsonly to be told that I was a bet.Now I just want to focus on me and my family.My happiness will not be determined by a man.I have learnt my lesson.I should just lay low when it comes to dating."


"I hear you girl.Whatever you decide to do with your lifejust know we got your back."


"Thank you girls." We had a group hug.


"This was an eventful day." Leigh-Anne laughed and threw herself on the couch.


"What else did you do?" Chicago walked to the fridge and took Herman's beer.He gave one to Leigh-Anne and gave me my juice.


"Please don't get drunk."


Leigh-Anne rolled her eyes. "Urghpeople who don't drink always want to make those who drink feel guilty for drinking.We gonna get wasted.This was one hell of a day."


"Is there something I'm missing?" Chicago asked.


"Leigh-Anne went all full angry black girl mode on Juan-Carlos."


Chicago choked on her drink. "You did what?!That man is my boss.I'm in his legal team."


"So what?He is never gonna find out that we are friends and he definitely will not fire you."


"The bad part isshe shouted at him without knowing that he has shares at the bank we were at." I sipped on my drink.


"How do you deal with that kind of a man though?How do you work with him?" Leigh-Anne asked with a frown.


Chicago sighed. "His nickname is Dracula.That man is cold like ice cold and he breathes fire.That's all I can say."


I frowned. "He sounds like a nightmare."


"Ohh yes a hot nightmare."

We all laughed.


"For a man who is approaching forty he really is hot.Not everyone can manage to keep a body like that and be smooth like that at thirty-nine.I mean he is one of the most incredible looking men I have ever seen.He stands out and turn heads.You will look at him even if you don't intend to."


Giggling Chicago wiggled her eyebrows. "Trust me he is an asshole.Hot but an absolute pig."


"There is also this regular customer at the coffee bay.I met him yesterday at the casino and took a closer look.He is fine.Like the model type fine.The kind you see on vogue magazine covers."


"Uhh tell us more." Leigh-Anne saidsitting upright.


I shrugged. "I don't know much apart from that his name is Benedict."


"I'm going to visit the coffee bay every morning.I have to see this guy.But does he stand out like Juan-Carlos?"


I looked at themthoughtfully. "In his own way yes.But Juan-Carlos is a head turner."


"I agree hundred percent." Leigh-Anne took a long sip on her beer.


"And he is probably taken.A man like that can't be single.They are always taken.Trust meI know." Kate's words rang in my head. A hot man like that and you thought he was single?


"We don't know that for sure.He keeps his personal life very private.We only know that he has a seven old daughter.If he had a wife or girlfriend then she is probably in an ER right now because that men exchange women like suits.Every event he goes he will be with a different model.I don't know if he sleeps with them or what but the point ishe can't have a wife and behave that way.He is probably single.He is..." 

When she continued talking I turned her out.Herman's words got to me and it still hurt so much.I had given my allonly to be treated like I was nothing.It wasn't fair.


"Hey what are you thinking about?" Chicago asked.


"I'm not ashamed that I desire a life partner.That is something extremely important to me.Yes I'm fine on my ownand yes I love myselfat least I try despite what everyone says.Operating in self love doesn't mean you can't be in a relationship right?But I'm scared.No man really loves me genuinely.They all come into my love because its benefitting them somehow.Sebastian was in it for a destruction.His wife was away and I was his destruction.Herman dated me because I had a bounty on my head.No one is ever genuine.They use me.Maybe Herman was rightI'm not spontaneous and I'm not fun.Which is a big problem adding to the one I already have.My body.I don't even own one pair of a lingerie.Be honest with me girls.If you were guys would you date someone like me?"


They exchanged glances.Chicago sighed. "I wouldn't date someone like you.GirlI would I just wife your assperiod.To me attractiveness is not faceliftsnosejobsass shots and boob jobsit is a loving and caring attitude.You have that Meredith.Its a pity people don't realise what they're losing.Besides you're beautiful.You don't need to have a flat stomachslim waist and all that.You're amazing just the way you're."


"And girl maybe you don't see it but you're curvy.You seriously qualify to model for curvy women.In my eyesyou're beautiful.The tummy you always complain about is not even that big.The stretch marks you always say they are unattractivethey are the most beautiful part of you.They look like those amazing lightning bolts and shit.Embrace who you're because you're a work of art.Someone out there is getting a boner just by looking at you.And we will solve the lingerie situation okay.On the weekend we are going to buy you some.We also have to burn the lace full panties.They annoy the shit out of me.Don't worry about what Herman said.He is an asshole.He knew you were broke and couldn't afford that luxurythey are the most beautiful part of you.They look like those amazing lightning bolts and shit.Embrace who you're because you're a work of art.Someone out there is getting a boner just by looking at you.And we will solve the lingerie situation okay.On the weekend we are going to buy you some.We also have to burn the lace full panties.They annoy the shit out of me.Don't worry about what Herman said.He is an asshole.He knew you were broke and couldn't afford that luxuryhe should have bought you the lingeries himself.I don't know what the hell you saw in that guy but he is total garbage.Going for a guy like that only showed that you were way too thirsty girl.He is handsome and has a decent job but he is trash." Leigh-Anne lifted her third can of Heineken and laughed.She was getting drunkand Chicago too.


We continued talking about everything.I told them about my goalsmy pain and experiences.They also told me about their fears and expectations in life.They were just as messed up as I was.I also realised that since we entered the adult world we have been worrying about what other people think about our decisions and we have crossed so many lines that we never thought we would cross.But during this momentinstead of worrying over that we decided just to be ourselves.


***


I pulled Leigh-Anne's car into my mother's yard around 5pm.Chicago and Leigh-Anne were both too drunk to drive.I took them both because they wanted to see mom.Ever since we were young eay back from junior schoolthey regarded my mother as their own because they both never had mother figures in their lives.Leigh-Anne's mother died while giving birth to her.Which is the reason why she wanted to be a doctor so badly.She grew up with her fatherher brother Leighton and her father's different girlfriends.Chicago's mother abandoned her when she was young.She grew up with her grandmother.My life was messed up but when looking at these girlsI considered myself lucky.They didn't have it hard like mebut I was richer than them in the sense that I had a mother.And no money can ever by that.


I walked in with the girls and found mom cooking with her grandbabies messing around the place with their toys.


"Mama!!" Both my girls ran for my mom and squeezed her in a tight hug.


"They are drunk aren't they?" She smiled hugging them both.


"I brought you the rolls you love so muchbut I think I ate them.I will bring them tomorrow.What are you cooking?OMG is that cabbage.OhI want to tear this cabbage up."

Only a drunk person can be excited about eating cabbageso you know they were drunk as hell.It wasn't even cabbage.


Mom laughed. "Meredith please take over.I'm going to rest for a while before these two drain the energy out of me.Merlin is fixing my old car at the backyard.I want you to use it.It might be an old model BMW but it will come in handy."


"Thank you mom.Let me finish this up then you will eat and take your medication." I said taking over.


"Its okay.My back is aching." She walked out with her grandkids.My son was too occupied with his toys and puppy that he didn't give me any attention but I was happy just to see him happy.


Merlin walked in with his blue overalls and white vest covered with grease and dirt.

"Hey little sis.May you please fix something for me to eat real quick?I have been working on that old car for hours.I'm almost done though.You will get yourself a car." He tried to touch my hair but I dodged it.


"Your hands are dirty.Wait outside I will fix a snack."


"Man I never realised that Merlin is this hot." Chicago said trying to open her eyes but they looked heavy.


"We should definitely eat him up." Leigh-Anne laughed.


Chicago staggered and rested her arm on Leigh-Anne's shoulders. "Are we there?Are we eating him up."


"Yepwe are." They both nodded and lifted their cans.


Merlin chuckledshaking his head. "These two shouldn't drink at all.Just look at them." 


I laughed and continued cooking.Thensomeone knocked.

Chicago rose from the kitchen chair and walked over to the door. "Okay maybe I should start drinking less because now I'm hallucinating." She staggered back to her seat.


Merlin and I looked at the door. "Hey Megan we weren't expecting you." I smiled.


She stepped insidelooking around. "Hy." She tossed her fake hair back.Always looking fabulousno one would even know that we were related.She had a long blonde wig that hung to her waist and lighter skin.She looked more like dad.We only shared the same curly hair.That was where the resemblance ended.I had a caramel complexion with curls falling past my shoulders.Merlin and Megan were lighter.She looked amazing in a body hugging dress that exposed her slender figure and high heels.She had her handbag on the other arm with her chihuahua with a pink bowtie peeping out.On the other hand she was holding a gift bag.


"My goodnesswe are honoured aren't we?It isn't very often these days that we are graced with the presence of her majesty." Merlin said sarcastically.They never got on particularly welleven as children and in my view maturity had done nothing to improve their relationship.They were always at each other's throats.


Megan gave him an angry look before directing her gaze to me. "You're gaining weight.Cut down on the cabs and fats.Jeez this ain't attractive.AnywayI just came to drop this handbag for mom.A new collection just dropped out so I thought she should have one.She is probably sleepingright?I don't have time.I have an event to attend to.I will see her when I pass by."


Merlin's rate of breathing increasedhe was angry.Shit was about to go down and I was not going to interfere. "Are you serious right now Megan?Our mother has cancer and you buy her handbags.You can't even spare a minute to check on how she is doing.You just pass by looking amazing with your fake lashes that look like wings..."


Chicago laughed and rested her arm on Merlin. "Ohh that is good.And you surprised me with the fake lashes and shit because they are looking crazy.But keep going bro.Keep going.I wanna hear more of the disses.I could get some pointers."


"You know what?I have no time for this shit.I didn't come here to be insulted.This is the reason why I avoid coming here in the first place." Megan gave him an angry look and turned to leave but Merlin locked the door and took the keys.


"You must think I'm joking with you.I have been quiet only because Meredith asked me not to say anything but I have had it with you.If you don't want to perform your duties as a daughter I will make you.Take off those high heels right now."


"Excu.."


"I said take them off." He yelled.Megan slowly took them offtears threatening to come out of her eyes.

"Give me all the jewelry on youincluding that Rolex watch.I need the earrings too.They look fakeprobably diamanté (glass cut to resemble diamonds).Make it quick I ain't playing with you."


"Merlin.."


He reached his hand out. "Don't make me ask you twice.Take out your dog and everything else in that handbag and give it to me now.I'm going to sell this shit and pay for our mother's bills."


"Take the wig too.Its Peruvian its expensive.I know someone who works in a saloon.She will buy it for a quiet a good amount." Chicago laughed.


"Give it to me and empty that handbag like I said.I will sell it along with the one you brought for mama.It will make enough money for her chemotherapy this month." He took everything and placed it on the table.


"What is going on here?What is this noise about?" Mom walked in with her grandkids.When Gabriel walked inChase wiggled his way out of his arms and attacked Megan's chihuahua.


"This is the reason why I never wanna come here.I'm going to open a case of assault.I just thought it was nice bringing you this hand bag but Merlin took that as an opportunity to insult me." She cried picking her chihuahua which couldn't stop barking in pain.


"If you open a case I'm going to post this shit on social media.Let's see what people will think knowing that we have to rob you in order to get money for your own mother's chemotherapy.Black Twitter will roast you bitch."Leigh-Anne smiled evilly holding her phone.


"I can't believe this." She turned and walked out barefootedbanging the door in the process.


Mom sighed. "I don't know where I went wrong with that one."She walked  back to her room.


Merlin took everything and put it in one bag. "I'm going to sell these things.I wasn't playing."


I chuckled and shook my head. "You didn't have to go all ballistic on her."


He raised his hand. "Please don't start with me Meredith.Right now I don't need a lecture about peace and love.I'm not in the mood for that shit."


He walked out.



JUAN-CARLOS


I set my work on the coffee tableabandoning the smooth whiskey that flowed down my throat with just the right amount of heat.I looked over a report from my distilleries where they created winemaking sure the blending was just right and still true to the flavour I chose created when I started the wine company.When I finished going over the detailed reportI was impressed.I adjusted my watch on my wristfeeling the smooth platinum with my fingertips.I had a big day ahead of me.I had back to back meetings and I had to attend a charity event afterwards.It was a lot to do in one day.Running two empires was a lot of work.


Cassie one of my PA walked in. "Mr Zulu is ready to see you sir?"


I nodded. "Okay let him in."


"Its about time." Jordan my business partner and friend saidunbuttoning the front of his suit jacket.Lindania business  acquaintance walked inside.Jordan shifted uncomfortably in his chair.No matter how much he tried to hide itI knew he was intimidated.


"Sothis is where all the magic happens?" In dark jeans and a white T-shirt that clung to his bodyhe carried his weight towards my desk.


"Mr Zulu." We exchanged a handshake.


He chuckled."Jalal its Lindani if we are not talking business."


I chuckled."How have you been?How was your flight?Please take a seat?" I sat into the chair and unbuttoned the front of my black suit.


He exchanged a handshake with Jordan. "You can relaxits just the scars and tattoos.I don't bite."Jordan laughed but still looking uncomfortable.


I chuckled. "You never change."


He smirked. "Always the same.By the waymy flight was okay."


"Some whiskey?"


He shook his head. "NoI'm good.Let's talk business."


I nodded and rested my arms on the table. "Surestraight to the point.I like that about you."


I rested my fingertips against my lips as I listened to him.Jordan made some notes.


"So you want a large order of my wine.How large are we talking about?You have your own form of wine already."I swirled my whisky before taking a sip.


"We are talking an enormous order.I prefer to keep both selections on hand.When my wife came up with this wine businessI didn't think it will be successful but here we are.Jalal Wines produces the best and finest wine out there and I would be stupid to let that opportunity pass.We need to give people a wide range to choose from.It will also create a good image for you back in Africa.."


When it came to business personal opinion was irrelevant.Whoever paid the right price was entitled to what I had to offer.

"You do know its going to cost you right?"


"Money is not a problem."


I chuckled. "So says the man.I will get my legal team to draft all the documents needed and then we will have the wine bottles fly all the way to South Africa.We'd need to hire an extra crew just to oversee the production though.You got yourself a deal." I adjusted the sleeves of my suitconscious about my appearance.An invisible crown sat upon my head and I balanced it well all the time.


Lindani checked his wrist watch. "Wellmy flight is in two hours.Looks like I have to go."


"I thought you were going to attend the annual charity event."I askedpartially sarcastic.

I knew he wanted to get back to his wife as soon as possible.She had him wrapped around her little finger.The dude worshipped the ground she walked on.I admired his love for her but I didn't wish to be like him.Most of the greatest legendary heroes in history were destroyed by the greatest women.Men were the ones who ruled the worldbut in reality the world was ruled by the women who ruled the men.I wouldn't let that happen to me.


"I knocked up wife and she is mad.Baby number eight is on the way so I have to be by her side all the time."


I shook my head and chuckled. "Mando you want a soccer team or what?"


"Eight kids?She is strong." Jordan joined in.


"No she did not give birth to all of them.Some are from previous relationshipssurrogacy and adoption."


"But still man that is quiet a lot."


He shrugged."I grew up in a large family so I always wanted one.Its pretty fun because it's always a houseful.Wifey is good with the kids anyway so we can manage."


"But you're putting pressure on her ovaries."


"This was supposed to be the third child but she gave birth to a pair of twins last year."He shrugged.


Jordan nodded. "That makes sense."


He stood up. "Anyway I gotta bounce.It was nice doing business with you Juan-Carlos as always.I will see you next time when I come back here with my family for a vacationand business of course."


We exchanged a handshake. "You have my number."


"Sure." He smiled and walked out.


When he leftJordan gave me a quizzical look. "That man is a criminal.Are you sure you wanna involve yourself with him?"


I leaned in on my leather chair. "He is quality and a hardworker.I don't care what he does outside the business.We all have at one point got our hands dirty.He has been my acquaintance for two years and his illegal activities has never been a problem in our professional and personal relationship.His wife and him have a lot of experience and they really understands how much determination it takes to make something work.I trust their work."


"Okayif you say so." He spun the pen between his fingers and made a note on his tablet.


Cassie walked in again.She placed a file folder on the table. "They are waiting for you in the boardroom sir."


I didn't pick up the folder immediately because I knew the numbers in my head. "I will be there in five."


"Okay sir."She walked out.


I opened the folder and reviewed the numbers just to be sure.I dreaded this day but since it was hereI just had to get things done.This was the third time that I had to come face to face with my rivals.There was nothing much I could do since we all had shares of the resorts.I just had to face them and get it over and done with.

I left my office and took the elevator down a few floors.When I stepped out of the elevatorI could see them through the glass walls of the boardroom.I spotted her first.Chrissie.My ex wife.Her brown hairradiant and styled as always.She wore a champagne pink suit that complimented her pale skin.Looking like a princess without a tiara. A devil wears a beautiful mask indeed.

I walked into the room and took my seat at the head of the long table.There was no need to exchange pleasantries and act like we didn't despise each otherso I just went straight to the point.


"Let's start with the quarterly numbers."

My nephew finally glanced up and met my gaze.He couldn't hold it for long and looked down.


"Hello to you too Juan-Carlos that's what normal people say."

I ignored her and opened my folder.


I glanced at him. "You can start." They both presented their numbers.I was unimpressed with how Chrissie was handling the business.


"There is a discrepancy that doesn't make any sense.When the number of bookings at the resorts are lowthe revenue stay the same.Then here it shows that our conference rooms are always booked but there is no income from it.You better start talking."


"I own 24% of the shares so what I do with my piece of cake is none of your business."


I crossed my legs under the table and unbuttoned the front of my suit.One hand rested on my knee as I examined this bitch.I couldn't believe that I once thought I loved her.I was definitely thinking with my other head.

"Shut the fuck up.That's bullshit and you know that.I owe 51% and that makes me the major shareholderso you're answerable to me.Now start talking.In fact send all the details of the bookkeeping to me now.I can't stand your presence."


I stood up and glared at her. "If you continue testing me I will fuck you up.Don't push me."

Her eyes fell with fear.Unable to control her tremblingshe stood up and ran out.


I was about to walk out when he lifted his gaze and looked at me. "For how long should I apologize?Are things going to be this tense between us forever?Its been six years now Juan-Carlos.Let it go."


"Let what go?" I barked. "You slept with her when she was my wife Benedict Salvatore.I dined and wined with you while you probably both laughed at me for being stupid.You made a fool out of me.And you have the balls to say I should let it go?Fuck you.You used me.You betrayed me.She was supposed to be your aunt.You were supposed to respect me if not her.On top of sleeping with her you had the balls to get engaged to her a month after I divorced her.You weren't even remorseful about it.The only reason you're trying to apologize now is because she played you.Right after she got the shares that she always wanted she revealed her true colors.I actually feel pity for you.I know you're a good guy and you deserve better but that doesn't change the fact that you betrayed me.This isn't about herthis is about our relationship.You were supposed to be my nephew but now you're my number one enemy.I worked too hard to turn this business into an empire.Now I have to deal with a psychopath who doesn't have the skills to run this business.And I have to deal with you too.My sister made a mistake by giving you her shares.I have busted my ass for this company only for you to drag a snake into this place.Its all on you Benedict.You made this happen and that's something I will never forgive you for."

If I had lesser morals I would have punched him on the face.


"But I'm here saying I'm sorry JC.I made a mistake.I know no amount of excuses will justify what I did.I want to make amends JC."


"Don't call me JC we are not close.You're only here apologizing because she played you.If things were going well for you twoyou were not going to be apologetic about it.You can send all the information for the next meeting via email so that I won't have to see your face."

I stormed out of the boardroom and went to my office.


"What's the last thing on the agenda?"I asked my other PA Lisa.


She gave me a folder. "The report for the bank is ready.They said they will lower their interest rates for several loans and they want to present it to you first.The director wishes to have a word with you afterwards."


"Okay get the finance team on board."


She nodded and quickly typed on her laptop. "Yes sir."


***


A few minutes later three cars pulled into the circular driveway of the bank.I stepped out and walked inside with my financial team.Knowing that I was a busy man with a tight schedulethe staff started running around when I walked in.Since I was a minor shareholder at the bank I had an office at the third floor.As soon as we walked in the head accountant started explaining the plan that the Examination board had drafted.


"Let's say for a example we are offering you an interest of two percent.." She was rudely interrupted by two women who just barged in like they owned the place


"How did you get.."


"Don't give me that bullshit because I will..." I turned the loud mouth off as my eyes landed on her for the first time.


One glance at the quiet curvy woman and something happened.It was a ping in my chest.A crazy thought came to mindas if I have been waiting for her.Not in a fairytale way.It was a feeling that there was just something about her that I couldn't comprehend.Or maybe I was over-analyzing the fact that she made my cock hard at first glance.While I was a sexual manI wasn't obsessed with women.They camepleased me and left.It took a lot to grab my attention.Since I was thirty-nine and it had never happened beforeI assumed it would never happen.But that curvy woman made me reconsider.And all she did was just stand there and be pretty.I looked at her confused as to why she triggered an erection on the first sight.I had been with far more beautiful women than herand even fucked many.Why her?Maybe it was definitely because of the golden-bronze skin.Curly her.She was definitely a mixture is something.She was so curvy with full hips and a behindrounded stomach and just the perfect average tits but they looked heavypressed against the front of her yellow sundress.I had always loved fuller woman.I bedded modelsactresses and fitness instructors of coursebut I didn't like holding onto their bonesor their tits being quiet flat.There was just something about a nice full ass and a curvy thick body to fuck without the fear of breaking itso right now I was staring at my fantasy.


The loud mouth's voice broke through my thoughts as she continued ranting about unfairness and discrimination.Lady curvy tried to calm her down.Gosheven her voice was so soft that I imagined how it would sound when she moans my name.

But all of this didn't make up for the fact that they had just butted in my meeting.I acted like every businessman who values time out there would do.I reprimanded the loud mouth and offered a simple solution on a silver platter but Lady curvy was too proud for that.


"And you loud mouthtry acting like a lady next time.If you weren't too in love with your own voice maybe you could have been heard without necessarily having to create a scene."


Lady curvy glared at me as if I had slapped her.Her eyes narrowed into a threatening expression.I have never seen a woman with that much pride before.They looked desperate when they barged in but she turned down my offer and no one has ever done that before.I swear when she was talking fire glowed in those melted chocolate pools.She had a nice mouth wide with soft lips.I had the urge to run my thumb on her bottom lip.


"Next time don't go around insulting people.Just because you have moneyit doesn't mean you own the world.I don't know what you think you'rebut you're definitely not God." She was calm but the fire continued glowing in her eyes like two atomic bombs had exploded.If someone spoke to me that wayI would be quick to lay down the lawbut I was too aroused to do so.I wasn't even ashamed of staring at her behind when she walked out.Damn.


I looked at the chief accountant.She couldn't meet my gazeafraid of my wrath.I spotted the tremble in her arms.


"Sir.."


"Shut the fuck up.We treat customers with dignity and we do not discriminate.That's what keeps the business open for decades but you did the exact opposite.You could have attended to them but you didn't.I also have noticed that's what you do to people of color or blacks.It ends today.I will be waiting for your resignation letter first thing tomorrow morning.Don't make me come after you." I stood up and walked out leaving her in tears.I didn't even give a damn.When it comes to business I didn't give second chances.One mistake and you're out.


***


"The stylist found a lovely suit from Valentino for you sir.The color and style will look perfect for you sir." Lisa said typing on her tablet.


"I'm sure.You guys have great taste.Who is my date?" I asked.


"You have a line of women to choose from." Jordan mocked as we went inside the car.


Lisa cocked her head to the side. "Maybe you should go with that model Megan.She is at the top of the list.You once attended a ball with her.She knows about etiquette how to be a lady and she is used to these kind of events."


"Okay then fine."


She continued typing on her tablet. "Should I make arrangements for you at the hotel."

I wasn't in the mood to sleep with anyone else.I wanted that curvy woman.


"No."


"By the way Ariel has been calling wanting to speak to you.She said it was urgent." Jordan reminded me.


I leaned in on the seat and sighed closing my eyes. "Don't take her calls.Ignore her."



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