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The setting for the Sheila & K'avir stories is the Star Trek Mirrorverse. Anything Star Trek-related are the intellectual property of Gene Roddenberry. All other characters, planets, star systems and content not within said scope are my own.


Switchblade Romance (16/?)

XVI:  Summertime

That Thursday afternoon, Shantreyl watched as Malcolm charmed the hell out of her parents, her sister and her sister’s husband.  Shannon and Trey Troy were quite enamored with Malcolm after a thirty-minute conversation.  When Trey stepped up to speak to Malcolm, he asked his daughter to leave the room so he could talk to Malcolm alone—not knowing that his questions and concerns were being conveyed to Kaphiri as well.  Malcolm reassured Shantreyl’s father that he was the man he claimed to be and that he was completely in love with Trey’s youngest daughter.

Zuri was at first a little more resistant to Malcolm’s charms, but it did not take long for her to be converted.  Zuri’s husband Kit did indeed ask Malcolm a bunch of direct questions—after asking Shantreyl to leave the room again—and was satisfied with Malcolm’s answers.  After the phone calls, Shantreyl asked both men what they thought of her family.

“Your sister’s a mess,” Kaphiri said.  “Is she always like that?”

Shantreyl said, “Not always.  She saves her sweet side for her husband.  Zuri and I…we don’t always get along.”

“She’s very critical of you,” Malcolm said, “I don’t care for it.”

“I don’t like it either,” Kaphiri said.

Shantreyl said, “I’ve gotten used to it.  You won’t have to deal with her that much.  I talk to her maybe once a month.  I do miss my niece and nephews, though.  And Kit’s a great guy, which means Zuri must be someone worthwhile if he can stand being married to and having kids by her.”

“He cares about your well-being.  You said he’s an FBI agent?”

“Yes.  Violent Crimes.  Zuri used to be an agent and they were actual partners at one time, but when she got pregnant with her first child, she transferred to Quantico to become a firearms instructor.”

Kaphiri looked at Shantreyl.  “Your sister’s a firearms instructor?”

“Yes.  She’s an excellent shot, she likes guns, and she’s a great instructor, according to her.”

“And you’re afraid of guns?”

“I am.”

“We’re gonna work that out, bambina,” Kaphiri said. 

“I know,” she replied.  Then she said, “So…now that you’ve met the Troys, what do you really think?”

Malcolm shrugged.  “Your parents are nice.  You look like your father, but your sister is your mother’s twin.”

“Who’s prettier?” Shantreyl asked, giggling.

“Between you and Zuri?  You are, of course,” Malcolm said.  “No shade to your mother.”

“Of course not,” Shantreyl said.  “My mother still has it.  My father says so all the time.  I hope I can age as gracefully as she has.”

“You will,” Malcolm said.  Then he sat back in his chair.  “So, I’m scheduled to go to the clinic tomorrow.”

“What?  Why?  What for?” Shantreyl asked.


“For?” Shantreyl asked. 

“So I can have my vasectomy reversed.”

Kaphiri said, “You’re ready for that?”

Malcolm nodded.  “Yes.  It’s time.”

“When is the actual procedure?”

“I want it to be the next day.  It’s gonna take about four or five weeks for me to heal completely, which means no sex for at least a month.”  He sighed.

“Oh dear,” Shantreyl said, pouting.  A month without Malcolm’s D was a depressing thought indeed.  “Oh, that sucks!”

“Yes.  But better to go on and get it out of the way,” Malcolm said.  “I’m not happy about it, believe me.  I love making love to you, especially in that bed, and to have to put that on pause…”

“It’s for a good reason,” Shantreyl said.  “And yeah, may as well get it done as soon as possible.”  This let her know for sure—not that she ever doubted it—that Malcolm was 1000% serious about marrying her and having a family, and that he was confident she and Kaphiri would develop feelings for each other.  “I will go with you.”

Kaphiri said, “Well, I’ll keep Shantreyl good and satisfied…while you watch.”

Malcolm rolled his eyes.  “You’re a dick.”

Kaphiri clapped right back.  “You’re a dickhole.”

“Boys,” Shantreyl said, “Play nice.”  Then she addressed Malcolm.  “Will you have to be on bed rest?”

“For 48 hours after the procedure.  I’ll need plenty of ice for the soreness.  I’ll have to wear a jock strap for support and my activities will be limited for at least four weeks.  I plan to be off work for five days, just to be on the safe side, and when I do return to work, I’ll be doing everything seated.  Kaphiri will run things while I’m out.”

Shantreyl asked, “I will take you to the doctor that day and bring you back to my house.  Will you stay with me, baby?  So I can take care of you?”


“You need to make a list of things you’ll need, so I can prepare.”

“Of course.”

“You’re going to be fine,” she said.  “I’m glad you brought this up, because I’ve been wondering for the past few days…who’s planning on getting me pregnant first?”

Kaphiri folded his arms.  “Malcolm will do the honors.  Are you on birth control?”

“I’m on the pill.”

“How long do you have to be off of them to get pregnant?”

Shantreyl shrugged.  “I’d guess a month to six weeks; enough time for my regular cycle to return.  Ugh,” she said.  “I was on the pill mainly to regulate my cycle so that my period lasted three days.  Without them, my period will probably be five or six days…I’m warning you now: my periods are bad.  You won’t want to be around me when I’m menstruating.”

“It’s just blood,” Kaphiri said.  “Blood washes off.  Why would we stay away from you?  If you’re feeling bad, then we’ll take care of you.  Your body does what it’s meant to do.  I’m not put off by a woman’s period, and Malcolm isn’t either.”

“He’s right,” Malcolm said.  “If you’re irritable and crampy, then we will have to take steps to make you feel better.”

“You both are so sweet.”  Shantreyl put a finger to her lip, deep in thought.  “So, a month for you to heal, six weeks at the outset.  A month to six weeks for my normal cycle to return…it’s almost July…I go back to work in August…school year is nine months…Jaya’s baby is due in December…”

“Are you trying to plan your pregnancy, baby?” Malcolm asked.

“No,” she said.  “I’m just thinking logically about when would be the best time to stop taking the pills...if I wanted to get pregnant immediately.  I would love to raise my baby alongside Jaya and Renee’s, but I’ll be 36 in November…and Kaphiri might want a child, but I don’t want to be trying to have a baby at or after 40.  No sir.”

“September,” Kaphiri said.  “If your timetable is right, your regular cycle would resume during mid-October, and Malcolm will be fully healed well before then.  If you got pregnant then, you would be due right when the school year ends and you can have an extended summer.  How many sick days do you have saved up?”

Shantreyl, who was rarely sick, smiled.  “75 days so far.  I’m blessed with good health.”

Kaphiri was working it out.  “So thirty days of maternity leave, plus your saved sick days—adds up to 105 days, not including weekends…you wouldn’t have to go back to work for an entire semester after the baby is born.  Assuming, of course, your body behaves as you expect it to.”

“I like that,” Malcolm said.  “She gets more time to bond with our baby and not have to rush back to work after six weeks.  And of course, we’ll be off as well...and our mothers?  Shantreyl won’t even get a chance to hold the baby before my mother or Mama ‘Nee takes it away.”

“We’re forgetting one tiny thing,” Shantreyl said, smiling. “Malcolm, you haven’t proposed.”

“He will,” Kaphiri said.  “Don’t you worry about that.”

“I’m not,” Shantreyl said.  “But I won’t be a mother before I’m a wife, so let’s be clear on that.”

“It’s crystal clear,” Malcolm said.  “I’m not playing any games, baby.  You know that.  I am glad we’re talking about this, however, because it’s really important.  We want you to be comfortable in all things and with all decisions.  You decide when you want to stop taking your birth control pills.  You’ll get pregnant when you want to.”

“Okay,” she said.  “Fair enough.”

“And don’t you worry, baby.  I’m going to propose.  I know exactly how I want to do it, and I’m waiting for the right moment…and no, I’m not going to tell you when that is.  It’s going to be a surprise.”

“How long do you want to wait to have an actual wedding?” Kaphiri asked.

Malcolm said, “I’m not interested in any time frame longer than three months.  Shantreyl?”

“That works for me,” she said.  “But I need to give my family at least two months’ notice so they can be off work and save up enough money for plane tickets and hotels.”

“There’s no need for that, bambina.  We’ll fly them out here and put them up in one of our hotels.  By all means, give them enough notice so they can be off, but they won’t have to come out of pocket for anything,” Kaphiri said.  “It’s the least we can do.”

Shantreyl was flabbergasted.  Are you serious?”

“We are,” Malcolm said.

“That’s seven people you have to account for!  You would do that for me?”

“We will do anything for you if it makes you happy, baby,” Malcolm said.  “Flying your family out so they can be at our wedding is a miniscule thing.  We can afford it; we’ll even fly your parents first class.  Your father was very persistent when it came to us being able to take care of you physically and financially.  I want him to know that he has nothing to worry about.”

Shantreyl’s eyes began to water.  “Thank you so much.”

Kaphiri came over and took her hands, pulling her out of her seat.  He brought her in for a hug and she closed her eyes, letting her tears flow. 

“It’s all right, bambina.  You don’t have to cry.  It’s the right thing to do.  You can’t get married without your family.  We won’t hear of it.”

“I’m okay, honeybu—” she said, catching herself in time.  She released him and wiped her face.  “I just…this is just…this has been one hell of a week and it’s not over yet.”

Malcolm asked, “Well, what size wedding do you want?”

“Small,” she said.  “Our families, and maybe one or two friends from my job.  Jaya will be my maid of honor.”

“I have a large family,” Kaphiri said.  “My mother has three sisters and my father has two brothers, all married, all with kids, all consider Malcolm family…and all of them will show up.  Clan Parker is real with it.  Malcolm’s got his mother, brothers, and his stepfather Pretty Ricky.  So it won’t be as small as you think.”

“Asshole,” Malcolm said, rolling his eyes at Kaphiri.  He did not like thinking about the depths of his mother’s and Pretty Ricky’s relationship.

Kaphiri gave Malcolm the finger.  “Dickhead.”

Boys,” Shantreyl said.  “Behave.”  Then she replied, “That’s fine.  I don’t want a large wedding.  I don’t even want a complicated one.”

“Do you have a location picked out?”

Shantreyl smiled wistfully.  “I’ve always wanted to get married on the beach, but if we’re talking a three-month time frame from the time Malcolm proposes, assuming it’s soon, then it’s gonna be winter.  I need to give that some thought.”

“You act like there’s no such thing as a winter beach wedding,” Kaphiri said.

“I don’t want the guests to be cold.”

Malcolm said, “It won’t be that cold, baby.  We’ve had some very mild winters for the past three years.”

“Then we’ll tell them to dress warmly.  If a beach wedding is really what you want,” Kaphiri said.

Shantreyl smiled.  She had always dreamed of a beach wedding.  Nothing else came close.  It had always been the beach for her.

“A beach wedding is what I want.”

“Do you want a wedding planner?  Kaphiri and I are good friends with Julie Styles of Events in Style, the best event planner in the city.”

She smiled at him.  “Of course you are, and yes I do.  I can’t even think about all the things I’ll need to do.”

“All right then,” Malcolm said.  “I’ll put you in touch with Julie soon so you can begin conversations.  I don’t like doing things at the last minute, and Julie stays booked.”

“I can’t believe we’re actually discussing this,” Shantreyl said.  “These past few months have been a whirlwind of activity and surprises.  Six months ago, I was…merely existing.  My dreams were smashed, but now…”

“Your father filled in the blanks,” Kaphiri said.  “He was furious with the way your last relationship ended and how heartbroken you were.  He said, ‘If you are not 100% serious about being with my daughter, leave her alone now.  Right now.  If you don’t plan to keep my princess on a pedestal; if you can’t keep up after you’ve stepped up, end it.  If you hurt her, I will fly out there and invite you out to the nearest parking lot.  Do you understand me, young man?’”

“Daddy said that?”

“Word for word,” Malcolm said.  “And I believe him.  I don’t want him mad at me; I don’t want to be invited out to anybody’s parking lot.”

“Me either,” Kaphiri said.  “Pops looks like he’s good with his hands.”

Shantreyl smiled proudly.  “That’s my Daddy,” she said.

“So we’re in agreement?” Malcolm asked.  “You can start planning the wedding; you can start thinking about where to go for a honeymoon; when you wanna catch pregnant…you can do whatever you like with all this information.  Just let us know dates and all that stuff, and tell Julie to send the bills to us.”

“Malcolm, as the bride I should be—”

“Nope,” he said.  “Not one word against what I just said.  All right, baby?”

She nodded.  She was learning.  “All right, babe.  Full speed ahead then, I guess.”


Malcolm spent the following week at Shantreyl’s house after his surgery.  His doctor advised him that he wouldn’t be able to have any sexual intimacy for five weeks, which made the month of July extremely frustrating for him.  Shantreyl waited on him hand and foot, happy to be taking care of her man.  Malcolm, who was also blessed with good health, had never gone this long without working.  He freaked out the first couple of days, but as he was on strict bed rest, there was little he could do.  Shantreyl had to take his phone away.

“I’m not used to being away from the hotel,” he had said.  “I’ve never missed more than a day here or there.”

“You’ve never taken a vacation?”

“Never needed to.”

“Well, you’re taking one now, you control freak,” she replied and snatched his phone out of his hands.  “You will get some rest.  Kaphiri is more than capable of running Sullivan Parker.  We’re gonna lie here and binge watch Netflix and you’re gonna like it.”

Which he did.  It was nice to leave things in the hands of Kaphiri and his managerial staff. Over the course of seven days and nights, they binged the best seasons of American Horror Story, Daredevil and The Punisher.  Malcolm quickly got addicted to the latter two and was frustrated when he learned that there would be no more seasons on Netflix.  On day four, when he was finally able to navigate the stairs without pain, she set him up on her living room couch and they continued the marathon in the company of ShoNuff. 

Malcolm had to admit, he loved lounging around with Shantreyl and her friendly cat.  He loved that she wanted to take care of him.  He loved that she was eager to cook for him.  He loved that she wanted to be with him and with Kaphiri.  She took to his presence in their relationship with the greatest of ease, and Kaphiri slid right on in even easier.  Malcolm was confident that Shantreyl would be able to love Kaphiri as much as he knew she loved him.

When it was time for Malcolm to return to work, he openly admitted that he hated having to leave the comforts of Shantreyl’s home and that he was going to miss laying out on the couch and watching TV.

“No you won’t,” she said.  “We will be doing that when you come home to me in the evenings.  No more of this all work no play foolishness.  Not if you want kids by me.”

Malcolm and Kaphiri adjusted to their new schedules within a couple of weeks.  Having been off for a week as he healed from surgery, Malcolm found he liked leaving work at a decent hour and coming home to Shantreyl, who normally had a meal ready for him within a half-hour of his arrival.  The same could be said of Kaphiri, but there were a few nights when he went to his own house to work on some projects.

It did not take long for Shantreyl to get used to living with two men; in fact, she believed it brought out the best in her.  She liked taking care of them.  She and Kaphiri went to Triple Creek Farms on a weekly basis.  She began to cook more often and sometimes Kaphiri helped her when he came home on his early days.  Sometimes he cooked and they would eat in front of the television.  For Shantreyl, having one of her men home with her before nightfall was a wonderful new aspect of her existence. 

She had been wise enough not to shack up with Miles—in spite of him requesting it—so being with either Malcolm or Kaphiri in the evenings was blissful.  Malcolm gave her foot massages while they watched television, and sometimes they would snuggle on the couch and talk, and sometimes they went to bed early.  As he was still healing, the only physical intimacy they engaged in was kissing.  Shantreyl thought that anything else would have been unfair to Malcolm.

Kaphiri was prone to wanting to take showers with her and give her full rubdowns afterwards, while engaging in conversation.  Sometimes she read to him and sometimes they listened to horror stories on YouTube.  One evening, he showed up at her house with one of his guitars and an amplifier and played for her.  She really liked that, and so he did it regularly.  He even brought one of his keyboards over and she enjoyed listening to him play.

When they were all together on the weekends, she made brunch on Sundays and they usually spent the day doing random things or nothing at all.  Sometimes they went to the Rebels’ baseball games or took walks in either Fireside Park or Sunrise Gardens.  On Monday afternoons, after breakfast at the Zig Zag, the trio went house hunting in areas within thirty minutes of Shantreyl’s job.  Shantreyl already knew the house had to have a full basement for Kaphiri’s studio, gym and library, a three-car garage and at least five bedrooms; she felt that each adult should have their own bedroom, bathroom and closet space.  Kaphiri wanted a large backyard with a swimming pool and clubhouse, and all Malcolm wanted was a game room where he could install a pool table and have a setup for spades, chess and dominoes.

Shantreyl still had her Friday afternoon ritual with Renee and Jaya, but she always left at six so she could get home and prepare a meal for whichever man was scheduled to be home on that day.  Jaya and Renee were thrilled that Malcolm and Kaphiri were moving forward in their relationship with Shantreyl, and began helping her plan for the wedding, and the honeymoon.

Shantreyl spent time getting to know Kaphiri and as he’d said, she realized that she knew everything she needed to know.  He admitted that he now preferred to be in her company rather than by himself so much.  He acknowledged that he had lived a fairly lonely existence before and wasn’t interested in going back to it.  When Kaphiri owned up to this, Shantreyl jumped in his arms and smattered his face with kisses, declaring that he would never be lonely again.

To Shantreyl’s surprise and delight, one day Kaphiri presented to her a large, beautiful blue bottle filled with a pale oil.  When she opened it and sniffed, her eyes closed and she smiled.  “Oh, this smells so good…what is it?”  She stuck one finger into the bottle and rubbed the oil between her finger and thumb.

“It’s your new body oil,” he said.  “Since you’re so responsive to mine, I made some just for you.”

“You made this for me?”


“What did you use?”

Kaphiri stole a kiss.  “Try to figure it out, bambina.”

Shantreyl scowled.  “Malcolm’s right.  You are a dick.”

“I’m your dick,” he replied, stealing another kiss.  “And anything else you want me to be.”

Kaphiri liked to take either Maxine or Candy to an old race track on the outskirts of town and race them.  One day, he took Shantreyl with him and she nearly got hoarse from screaming so much, but it was exhilarating to go that fast.  On multiple occasions, he invited her to the Solar Fountain—which was larger than the Vermilion—so they could have extravagant dinners in each of the four in-house restaurants: Amuse, which specialized in Italian cuisine; Serenade, which specialized in seafood; Charm, which was dedicated to Greek & Middle Eastern food, and Enigma, which was a Japanese hibachi and steakhouse.  Then afterwards, Kaphiri took Shantreyl to his office on the top floor so they could admire the view and have sex on his desk.

Another thing Kaphiri did every now and then was play in the piano bar in the Solar Fountain’s hotel lobby lounge.  Shantreyl sat nearby and listened to him play and was amused to see people leave him—the owner of the hotel—tips in the basket next to the piano.  She asked what he did with the tip money and he said he always made sure the housekeeping staff got it, no matter how much it was.

Kaphiri took Shantreyl to Emerald Hill, a high-end cigar bar downtown near the Solar Fountain and showed her how to smoke a cigar; which surprised her because she didn’t know he smoked cigars.  It wasn’t something he did often, but it was something very different than what she was used to.  But in the end, she found she liked it.  And as promised, he took her to the local gun range and began teaching her how to shoot.  She was terrified at first, but became comfortable under his tutelage.  Kaphiri built lessons into their schedule, as he was serious about Shantreyl learning how to handle guns.

Kaphiri took her to the Zodiac Club and showed her all of the different amenities the pleasure house had to offer.  Shantreyl was very nervous about being naked in front of so many strangers.  Kaphiri explained that patrons could not wear clothes once they entered the back, but were allowed to wear towels.  He showed her his favorite room: the Auditory Canal, where the focus wasn’t on watching couples have sex, but listening to them.  The room was pitch black, but the speaker system was top-notch and they could hear absolutely everything taking place in the three rooms that surrounded the Canal. 

Malcolm had told her that Kaphiri liked to listen, and after spending about ten minutes in the Auditory Canal, she understood why.  Without realizing it, she began to play with herself as she listened to the sound of strangers fucking.  She grabbed Kaphiri’s hand and invited him to play along, which he happily did.  Shantreyl, horny as hell, and asked him to take her somewhere so they could have sex—as the Canal was the one room where actual fucking wasn’t allowed.

“Do you want an audience?” he asked.


“There’s a room for voyeurs.  You can’t see them, but they can see you.”

“Oooh, I don’t know, Kaphiri…I don’t think so.  What if some of the voyeurs are parents of my students?  Awkward much?”

“The rule is you don’t talk about who or what you see or do here,” he said.

“Yeah, but how many people actually obey it?  I can’t take that risk.”

Kaphiri shrugged.  “Come on; we can go to one of the basic rooms.  But next time, let’s try something different, okay?”

“Okay,” she said, wet and juicy and ready to fuck his brains out.  She already knew what that something would be, but she wasn’t ready to tell Kaphiri yet.  But overall, she enjoyed herself at the Zodiac and thought that she would definitely go again if he asked.

One Wednesday afternoon, Kaphiri called her from work and asked if she would be willing to meet him at the Solar Fountain right before he got off.

“Sure,” she said, and he sent a car to pick her up.  When she arrived, he was waiting for her.

“Where are we going?”

“I want to go home, but I want you to come with me.”

“Will we be spending the night there?”

“No,” he said.  “But we will be late getting back.  I already told Malcolm.”

“What are we going to do?”

“I want to show you something,” he said.

The something was located on the second floor, in his studio.  Shantreyl, happy to be in the chocolate factory once more, stood over by the piano.  “What do you have to show me?”

“Actually, it’s something I want you to hear.”  He played with some knobs and buttons, and music began to play.  He pushed some more buttons, the overhead lights dimmed and a violet blue ray of light shone across the room, flickering in time to the music.

Shantreyl listened, closing her eyes.  The song was hauntingly beautiful, and the guitar solo was flawless.  She opened her eyes to see the light again and got mesmerized by its movements.

When the song ended, Kaphiri turned the overhead lights back on.  “What do you think?”

“I like it,” she said.  “I really like the guitar solo.”  Then it clicked; she’d forgotten.  “Did you create that?”

“I did.”

“Really?  Play it again, honeybunny.”

He did, and she smiled at him.  “You’re like my very own private Prince.”

He smiled back.  “In my dreams I can play like Prince.”

“Don’t sell yourself short.  That is a beautiful piece of music.  What’s it called?”

“Right now I’m calling it Magic, but it’s subject to change,” he said.  “I’ve been working on it here and there—we’ve had a very busy summer—but I need to finish it, which is why I asked you to meet me at the Fountain.  I want to work on it some more, but I didn’t want you worried about me not coming home on time.”

“Kaphiri, you could have simply called me and told me you wanted to work on your music.  I would have understood.  You’ve done that before.”

“I know, but now I want you with me.  I want to know what you think.  Your opinion matters.”

“Has Malcolm heard it?”

“Not yet.”

“Do you have other pieces of music I can listen to?”

“I do.”

“Has anyone else heard them?”’

“No,” he said.  “I have no interest in sharing my music with anyone other than you, Malcolm, and my mother.  It’s all mine.”

“I understand,” she said.  “But if you’re going to work on your music, I don’t want to get in your way.”

“You’re welcome to do whatever you like, but I don’t have much food in the fridge.  I’ll only be a couple of hours.”

“I’m going to go over there,” she pointed to the couch on the other side of the room, “and read one of your books.  Is that all right?”

“That’s fine.  Thank you, bambina.  Even though what I need to do is distracting, I want you here with me.  I like having you around.  I hope that’s okay.”

“Kaphiri, knowing how you are, that means everything to me.”

So she curled up on his couch with an anthology titled Great Tales of Terror and theSupernatural and listened to him create.  Between that and the stories, she spent an enjoyable three hours on his decidedly comfortable couch.  But when her stomach started to growl, she got up and walked over to him.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

“I’m starving.  Do you want to order something from PotRoast?”

“They don’t deliver over here.  I’m almost finished; I promise.  Just give me about ten minutes.”

“All right.  By the way, I’m taking this book with me.”

Ten minutes later, they were leaving his house.  When they got into Bree, Kaphiri handed her a small USB device.

“What’s this?”

“Some music.  Download it to your laptop when we get home.”

Shantreyl squee’d and put the device into her purse.  “I can’t wait to listen to it.”

“Let me know what you think, bambina.”

“Of course.  Can we swing by a restaurant and get something to eat?  I’m famished.”

“What are you in the mood for?”



Later that night, Shantreyl sat in one of her bedroom chairs, earbuds in, listening to Kaphiri’s music.  Malcolm had already gone to bed and Kaphiri was taking a shower downstairs in the guest bedroom.  She closed her eyes and moved her head in time to the music.  He was extremely creative.  Time passed and she didn’t realize it until he appeared in her bedroom, dressed in his sleep attire.

“I love it,” she told him as they got into bed, careful not to disturb Malcolm.  “Every song is perfect.”

“You jest,” he said.

“I will never lie to you, Kaphiri.  I know what honesty means to you.  I really enjoyed listening to your music.  You’re gifted.”

“That’s what my mother says, but she’s biased.”

“She’s also right,” Shantreyl said as he cut off the lights and they settled in bed.  “You’re immensely talented.  Accept it and let’s go to sleep.”


The month of July passed by so fast that Shantreyl was surprised to get the dreaded letter from her job.  She didn’t want to open it, because she knew it signified the end of her wondrous summer, and she didn’t want it to end.  She waited for Malcolm to come home before opening it.

“You open it,” she said.

He did and read it before passing it to her.  She read the letter and groaned.  Ugh!”

“You don’t want to go back to work?”

“I don’t want to go back to work.  I mean, this has been the best summer of my entire life.  I don’t want it to end.”

“You know you don’t have to go back to work if you don’t want to,” Malcolm said.  “Kaphiri and I can take care of you.”

She put a hand on one of his cheeks and stroked his goatee.  “I know.  But I do love my job, Malcolm.  I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t have it to go to, in spite of all the bullshit I have to put up with.  I’m a working woman and at some point, I’ll be a working wife and a working mother.”

“Do you know if that administrator you hate is still working there?”

“Probably.  But Dr. Bowlen is still the principal, so there’s that…even if it’s not much.  I’m not putting up with Cindy’s bullshit this year, though.”  She ran a hand through her Afro.  “Back to putting this in a bun.  Ugh, I hate that shit.”


“I have to wear my hair in such a way that I don’t look too Black.  Basically, I don’t wear my full Afro at work.  I usually pin it up in a bun, or wear a headband so that my curls are up top.”

“Oh, that’s some bullshit for real,” Malcolm said.  “I love the way you wear your hair.  I love seeing you in Afro puffs, or when you Mohawk it.”

“Yeah, but that’s one of the sacrifices I have to make to work at Heather Hills.”

“I bet they don’t make the white teachers hide their hair.  Isn’t it illegal to discriminate?”

“In public schools, yes.  Heather Hills is a private school and they can do what they want.  It’s okay, baby.  I’m used to it.  This is my fifth year at HH.  But I hope they’ve hired another black teacher for the high school.  It would definitely be nice to see another person of color in the hallways. “

“Did any teachers leave?”

“Yes.  There was a slot for a language arts teacher, a math teacher and another science teacher.  I’ve got my fingers crossed.”

“Are you going to teach the same classes this year?”

“I expect so.”

Malcolm pulled her in for a kiss.  “It’s all going to work out, baby.  You watch.”

A week later, Shantreyl was back at work.  She wasn’t ready—this was the very first time that she wasn’t ready—but it didn’t matter.  When she reported to work, she learned that Cindy, the bottle-blonde bitch, was the administrator responsible for the master calendar, and she wasn’t finished with it.  “Another couple of days,” she told the teachers during the back-to-school brunch.  “I’m just working out a few kinks.  It will be ready before the kids come next week, I promise.”

So Shantreyl began updating her website and getting her classroom ready.  She was looking forward to seeing her upper-level chemistry students again.

Three days later, she came home from work with a full-on headache.  She texted Malcolm—it was his night to come home early—and told him she wasn’t feeling well; would he be okay with ordering from PotRoast.  Being that Shantreyl was never sick, Malcolm called her back and knew immediately something was wrong just from the sound of her voice.

“I’m fine, I promise,” she said, closing her eyes.  Her head thumped.

“Bullshit,” Malcolm said.  “Kaphiri and I will be there as soon as possible.”

“No baby…I didn’t call you to make you leave work early—”

“Shantreyl, you don’t get sick.  You don’t have headaches.  Did something happen?”

She couldn’t lie to him.  “Yes.”

“At work?”


“I will be there in forty-five minutes.”

Shantreyl hung up the phone and sat on the couch, arms folded.  Then she picked the phone back up and opened up the PotRoast app.  She spent a minute trying to decide what to eat when Kaphiri called.

“I’m on the way home, bambina,” he said.  “I’ll bring you something for your headache.”

“Hi honeybunny,” she said.  “You don’t have to come ho—”

“Malcolm says you’re sick, so I’m coming home.  I’m in the car now headed for Monument Bridge, so don’t tell me not to, all right?”

“I’m not sick.  I just have a headache.”

“You don’t get headaches.  Now just sit tight, drink some water and maybe eat a piece of fruit.  We’ll be home soon.”

Sure enough, about forty minutes later, Malcolm and Kaphiri pulled up in their parking spaces within five to six minutes of each other.  How they managed that eluded her.  Shantreyl opened the door and received hugs and kisses from both men before heading into the living room.

Kaphiri had an ice cold Coca-Cola and a package of Goody powders.  He opened the Coke and handed her a powder.  “Take this and chase it with the Coke.  Guaranteed to run your headache off in under 15 minutes.  Mama and Baba swear by it.”

Shantreyl didn’t argue.  Her head hurt like hell.  She took the powder and drank the Coke.  She burped and covered her mouth, excusing herself.

“What happened?” Malcolm asked.

Shantreyl wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.  “That bitch Cindy—that! fucking! bitch!…she took my classes away and gave them to the new science teacher.”

“What?” Kaphiri asked.  “She did what now?”

“She took my upper level chemistry and grade 10 physics classes and gave them to the new science teacher—who’s been out of college for exactly two years and has never taught upper level sciences.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Malcolm said.  “Why in the hell would she do such a ridiculous thing?”

“She did it to get back at me for not going to that conference last spring,” Shantreyl said.  “I know she did; I know it in my soul, and nobody’s gonna tell me different.  I know that I don’t technically own any classes, but this simply doesn’t make any sense other than Cindy getting her revenge because I won’t put up with her bullshit.”

“What did the principal say?  I know you went to him.”

“He said that my particular skill set would be best served this year with the rising eighth and ninth grade—life science and physical science—which is fucking garbage!  I’ve never taught life science!  I told you that Cindy’s got something on him; maybe she’s seen him butt-ass naked fucking a dude at the Zodiac.  He doesn’t ever disagree with what she does!”

Kaphiri said, “But that upper level chemistry class is a two-year course, right?  You have a master’s in chemistry.  Why would they sabotage the students’ learning that way?  Why would they take you away from them when they’re seniors now?  Why would they give a class that hard to a child fresh out of college?”

“Cindy is a malicious…cunt,” Shantreyl said, spitting the word out.  She hated the term ‘cunt,’ but she couldn’t think of a better descriptor.  “She had the nerve to ask me to help Karen out when she needed it, but I told her I would not.  She wants Karen to teach upper level science? Then Karen will teach upper level science.  I’m not about to be her mule.  I have to start fresh with two new classes; I don’t have time to hold Karen’s hand.  And I really don’t give a fuck now.  This will be my last year at Heather Hills.  So let’s not restrict ourselves when we go house hunting next week.  I’ll be all right.  I’m gonna start job hunting in a few months.  Roseland Hills has a couple of excellent private schools, as does Sugar Creek, Ashwood and Ravencliff.  I’ll cross the river if I need to.”

“Those parents are gonna be mad,” Malcolm said.  “Those kids are gonna be pissed.  I know I would be.  You’ve been teaching that group of students for how long?”

“I’ve worked with the current seniors for three—well, two now—years.  Most of them took physics with me in grade 10, and then some migrated to chemistry when they became juniors.  I know them very well and I’m familiar with their parents.”

Kaphiri shook his head.  “They are gonna be very upset.”

Shantreyl rubbed her forehead.  “Oh well.  They can go storm Cindy’s office, but leave me out of it.  I’m just sorry for my grade twelves.”

Kaphiri began massaging her shoulders.  “I’m sorry, bambina.  I wish there was something we could do.”  Then he said, “Have you ever considered becoming a college professor?”

“I’m not about to go back to grad school for a doctorate, Kaphiri.  It’s not worth it to me.”

“You’re qualified enough to teach underclassmen.  There’s no difference between a high school senior and a college freshman.”

“I guess, but I love teaching high school kids.  I don’t know.  I’ll think about it.”

“I hate that I can’t help you with this,” Malcolm said.  “I hate it.  You are gonna be miserable this year and I can’t bear for you to be unhappy.  I can’t.”  He wondered if he could help out remotely.  “What’s her name again?”

“Cindy Weathers.” Shantreyl closed her eyes for a long moment.  “I’ll be all right, baby.  I won’t take it out on the kids; it’s not their fault.  And I won’t take it out on you two, as it’s not yours either.  I will find a way to deal with Cindy’s fuckery, and I’m about to use up as many sick days as I can.  May as well.  I’m outta there come May.”

“What do you need?” Kaphiri asked.  “We have in-house physicians who will cover you if you need it.”

“Maybe,” Shantreyl said, her mind jumping ahead.  “I’ll let you know.”


August was a tough month for educators in general, but for Shantreyl, this August was the absolute worst.  The last time she taught middle school was when she taught sixth grade science at Siren Heights Middle School.  She preferred grades 10-12, where the rigor was greater and the students a skosh more mature.  She could have good intellectual discussions with her juniors and seniors and she knew she was going to miss that.

Shantreyl had to transform the eighth and ninth grade curricula into versions that fit her teaching style, and it was time-consuming.  Every evening when she came home, she spent two hours a night writing and revising lesson plans just to stay two weeks ahead of her students. She would wake up at 3:30 in the morning just to make sure the day’s lessons were ready.  She stopped cooking and was back to ordering meals from PotRoast.  She spent Saturdays working while both of her beaus were at work, but she made herself stop working at five p.m. when one of them was due to come home.  On Sundays, she was up well before they were, trying to get in as much work as possible so that she could have the rest of the day with her men.

To be fair to Malcolm and Kaphiri, she made herself stop working at 7:30 p.m. during the week so that she could have time with them, but she was so worn out by then that she would fall asleep on the couch.  They would wake her up so that she could shower and go to bed.  Neither man was happy about this turn of events because she was exhausted all the time and had no energy for sexual intimacy.  For Malcolm, that was the worst part as he was healed from surgery and anxious to be with her intimately.  She tried to reassure them that once August passed, things would settle down and she would be able to revert back to her normal schedule.

“Had I known this was gonna happen, I would have been prepared,” she explained.  “I could have devoted some time this summer to lesson planning.  I promise this won’t happen once September comes.”  Shantreyl knew they were frustrated by the lack of intimacy, but neither man ever brought it up to her.  She knew that they thought that mentioning it would only stress her out more.

“I don’t like that you’re tired all the time,” Kaphiri said.  “Our quality time has been severely affected.” Shantreyl hadn’t had sex with him since the end of July.

“And that woman knows it,” Malcolm said.  “She knew what she was doing; that much I can say for sure.  You’re tired when you wake up in the mornings and you’re not getting enough sleep.  You’ve got bags under your eyes and you’re not eating properly.  I don’t care for this at all, Shantreyl.”

“I know and I’m sorry,” she said.  “I promise things will be somewhat back to normal when September comes.  August is always a hot fire mess, and it doesn’t help that I have to start from scratch.  This isn’t my norm, guys.  I promise it’s not.”

“It’s not your fault,” Kaphiri said.  “You’re a professional and it isn’t the students’ fault.  I bet that woman is sitting in her office gloating because she thinks she got one over on you.”

“It’s gonna backfire,” Shantreyl said.  “Karen’s been asking me for help since the second week.  I let her borrow my notebooks, but I told her that I couldn’t help her more because I had my own plans to create.  I know she told Cindy, but Cindy hasn’t yet got in my face about it.  When she does, I will calmly remind her that she gave me a brand new schedule and my time is better spent working on it than helping Karen work on hers.  Once those parents start complaining after that first exam, Cindy will have a lot to answer for.”

“When’s that?” Malcolm asked.

“If Karen is on schedule, the seniors should be taking their first test by the end of the first week in September.  If Karen is on schedule.  Some parents have already emailed me asking why I’m no longer teaching chemistry and I redirected them to Cindy.  I’m removing myself from any and all conversations.  This is all gonna be on her.”

“How can we help you?”  Kaphiri asked.  “What can Malcolm and I do to relieve you of all of this additional stress?  We haven’t had sex in four weeks, maybe longer.  Malcolm?”

“I haven’t made love to you since June, Shantreyl.  I don’t like that shit at all.”

“I’m so sorry,” she said.  “September’s a week away.  Please just bear with me a few more days.  That’s as much as I can ask for.”

“Okay,” Malcolm said.  He felt powerless and for once, his influence was useless in solving a problem.  He hated feeling like that.  He made a point to have a conversation with Kaphiri after Shantreyl went to bed. 

The conversation began with the following: “I’m putting Romeo on Cindy Weathers.  What do you think?”

“What is he looking for?”

“Anything.  Everything.”

“What will we do with the information?”

“Whatever we need to do.  For her sake.  I don’t like what this new workload is doing to her.”

“I don’t like it either.”

“So, do you concur with putting Romeo on her?”

“I concur.”

The first Friday in September was a busy day.  Shantreyl taught two blocks on alternating Fridays and had two blocks for planning, meetings, and other things.  She liked her schedule because her classes were in the mornings and her “free” periods were after lunch.  Shantreyl was the kind of teacher that didn’t spend much time socializing with her co-workers mainly because she couldn’t trust most of them.  She had a friend, Diane, in the counseling department and a buddy, Christine, in the language arts department and they communicated via text message; never over email.  So she was usually in her classroom working or teaching, depending on the schedule.

She was busy reading and responding to emails over lunch when she heard something in the hallway.  Somebody was playing music; it sounded like a violin.  She figured it was one of the strings students practicing for the upcoming concert at the end of the month, but why they were on the science wing doing this made no sense.

The music got louder and louder.  Shantreyl frowned, as she began to hear more than just the violin.  People were talking and it sounded like there was a bunch of students in the hallway.  It was very distracting.  What in the hell was happening?

Shantreyl got up, put her shoes on and walked over to her classroom door.  She needed to see what was going on for herself.  As she was crossing her room, someone knocked on her door.  She opened it and was completely stunned by what she saw.

Kaphiri was standing there playing a violin and Malcolm stood at her door, holding a dozen beautiful blue and white calla lilies.  Dr. Bowlen, some office staff, some teachers and a handful of her former students surrounded them.  All of them were eagerly staring at Shantreyl.

“Malcolm…Kaphiri…?  What are you doing here?  What is going on?”  She looked at the crowd.  “What’s happening?”

Kaphiri stopped playing.  A few teachers told the chattering students to hush so that they could hear what was going on. 

Malcolm handed the lilies to a nearby student, took Shantreyl’s hand and got down on one knee. 

Shantreyl stared at Malcolm, her face getting warm.  Her heart started beating fast and her eyes began to water.  Of all the things she expected to happen on a Friday at work, this wasn’t one of them. 


He reached in his jacket pocket and pulled out a Tiffany box.  “Shantreyl Denise Troy…I love you so much.  You have changed my entire world and I can’t imagine my life without you.  Will you marry me?”

She looked at Kaphiri, who was actually smiling in public for once, and then back at Malcolm.  Malcolm…?”

He opened the box and she gasped when she saw the ring.  Students who were close enough to see it exclaimed loudly.  The stone was a large infinity cut in a white gold setting. The diamond was pale blue.

Oh my God,” she said, her voice low and whispery.  “Malcolm…Kaphiri…???”

Malcolm calmly asked again.  “Will you marry me, Shantreyl Troy?  Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”

She bit her lip as tears fell from her eyes.  She nodded her head dumbly and Malcolm looked at her.

“Woman, is that a yes?”

“Yes,” she said, her voice a little louder than before.  “Yes, Malcolm Sullivan…yes, I will marry you.”

The students and teachers cheered and clapped so loudly that classroom doors opened so others could see what was going on. 


Kaphiri stepped up by Malcolm’s side as he stood up and placed the ring on her finger.  Shantreyl stared at the beautiful ring, unable to find words to express her emotions.  She put her arms around Malcolm and he hugged her tight.  “We love you so much,” he said in her ear.  “Can we come into your room?”

“Absolutely,” she said and waved them inside as the student handed her the lilies.

Some of her former students—all of them girls—rushed to offer her hugs and congratulations, gush over the ring and give their opinions on her new fiancé.  After a minute or so of this, she told them thanks and ushered them back to class.  The principal and Shantreyl’s co-workers offered their congratulations and two of the office staff quietly asked about Kaphiri. Shantreyl shot them down quick, telling them he wasn’t available.

When the crowd died down, she went into her classroom and closed the door.  Quickly she covered the window with her availability sign.  She turned around and hugged Malcolm once more and gave him a big juicy kiss.  Then she hugged and kissed Kaphiri, who gently gripped her ass.

She stared at her ring.  “This is absolutely exquisite,” she said.  “You actually got me a blue diamond ring!” She loved blue and was grateful that she’d gotten a manicure earlier in the week.

“I had to shop around for it,” Malcolm said.  “It took some doing, finding the right cut and setting.  I ended up having to have it specially made.  Look carefully at the band and the engraving.”

Shantreyl took the ring off and looked closely.  The band was actually a combination of yellow gold and white gold.  The engraving read: K heart S heart M.”

Oh my God,” she said again.

Malcolm continued.  “I started hunting for it back in May and it wasn’t until last month that it was ready.”

May???”  They might have had their third or fourth date in May.  She couldn’t recall.

“I knew then,” he said.  “I knew you would be everything I needed and wanted you to be, and that you would be everything Kaphiri wants and needs.”

She looked at Malcolm and then at Kaphiri, who took the ring out of her palm and slid it back onto her finger.  “Did you know?”

“About his plan for the ring?  Yes.  I’m partial to white gold.  He prefers yellow, so yeah.”

“But you and I didn’t start messing arou—getting to know each other until June.  You couldn’t have known then that I would accept you as a lover and a mate…you couldn’t have possibly known then that you and I would get along as well as we have.”

“I trusted Malcolm.  That gift he has with people…it’s never let him down.  Whatever you did or demonstrated, it was enough to send him down the right path.  Everything else was simply a matter of time.”

“You planned to propose to me at work.”  She thought that he would do it over dinner or something.

“Yes,” Malcolm said.  “I wanted everybody in this school to know that you are spoken for, and that ring will say the rest.  Bet you that everybody up in here will know by the end of the day.”

“You’re right,” she said.  “Good news travels at light speed here.  Bad news travels even faster.”  She looked at her hand again.  “I can’t believe how beautiful this ring is.  Have you told your parents?”

“Not yet,” Malcolm said.  “We want to wait until the next cookout to spill the beans.”

“When’s that one?”

“It’s the Fall Equinox, so in about two weeks or so.  The actual day is Monday, but the cookout will be on Sunday.”

“Same as before?”

“No.  It’s smaller, family and maybe 30-40 guests.  There’s a DJ and open bar, obviously, but the food will be seafood: a fish fry, a clam bake, a crab boil…basically all the seafood you could ever want.  Waterman’s is catering.”

Shantreyl, who had some of Waterman’s excellent seafood in the past, closed her eyes and said “Mmn…that’s gonna be nice.”

“Will Renee and Jaya be able to attend?  Are they seafood lovers?”

“They are, but I’ll have to find out if they’re able to go.  Considering how much fun we all had at the Solstice Cookout, I don’t see them missing it.”  Then she eyed Malcolm.  “You know what this means?  Your dance lessons are about to start.”

Kaphiri laughed and Malcolm sighed.  “I know,” he said.  “I know.”

“So, we’ll tell our parents at the cookout then,” Malcolm said.  “We wanted you to have a ring on beforehand…otherwise, it’s just chatter.”

“Yes,” Kaphiri said.  “No one has time for those kinds of games, bambina.  How’s your day going?”

“It was going fine,” she said.  “But now I can’t even recall what I was doing before you two showed up.  How did you get past the front office?”

“The principal was there when we arrived.  I told him who I was and why I was here and he smiled so hard I saw most of his teeth.  He allowed us in and we got visitor’s passes and by the time we made it up here, we had a slew of escorts.  Kaphiri started playing once we were told where you classroom was.”

“Was that an original piece?” she asked.

“Yes.  Written just for this moment, but it’s not finished yet.  I can do more with it.”

“What’s the rest of your day like?” Malcolm asked.

Shantreyl walked over to her computer.  She couldn’t remember anything about the rest of her workday.  She had to go and look.  “I’m actually free,” she said.  “I taught two blocks this morning and I have no meetings this afternoon, so your timing is impeccable.  I was just working on next week’s labs and eating my lunch.”

“Can you leave early?”

She smiled at her fiancé.  “I will leave early.  I don’t think Dr. Bowlen will mind.  I’ll take half a personal day.  I’m good and ready to fuck the hell out of both of you.”  If she could have gotten away with it, she would have been trying to fuck right then and there.

“At the same time?” Kaphiri asked.  Due to the schedule she’d had for the past month where neither man was getting anything remotely close to pussy, the opportunity for a true threesome never manifested.  “Like, the three of us?”


Really?”  Malcolm said.  He had often wondered if and when that was going to happen, but was content to leave it up to her.

“Yeah.  We should have been done this, but after the schedule adjustments, your surgery and then my ridiculous August…no better time than today, when I get home.  Were you two planning to go back to work?”

“It was dependent on whether you still had to work.”

Shantreyl smiled, saved her work and turned off her computer.  She put her lunch items back in her lunch bag.  “I’m going to go sign out and go home.  I will meet you there.  I’ll need to let Jaya and Renee know that I won’t be available this evening.”  She grabbed her phone, snapped a pic of her newly engaged hand and sent it to Renee and Jaya with the following message: I’ll see you sometime tomorrow.  She grabbed her purse, put it and her lunch bag in her work tote and grabbed her room keys before picking up her calla lilies.  “These are gorgeous,” she said.  “I love them.”  Then she smiled at her lovers.  “Last one home has to cook dinner.”


Shantreyl beat Kaphiri and Malcolm home simply because she knew a shortcut.  She didn’t know how much time she had before they arrived.  She ran upstairs to her bedroom and turned the bed back, checked the drawer for condoms and then quickly began removing her clothes.  She took her hair down, went into the bathroom, washed her face and rinsed her mouth.  Her eyes fell upon the pink container that housed her birth control pills.  Shantreyl picked it up and opened it.  She was on the last week—the placebos—so her period was due in a couple of days. 

Shantreyl closed her hand around the container and shut her eyes, thinking about everything that had happened over the spring and summer.  Thinking about sweet Malcolm, darling Kaphiri, and the fact that she was now engaged.  Which meant come December, she would be married.  She started the year out licking her wounds and now she would end it being married to not one, but two awesome men who adored her and had nothing but her best interests at heart.  

But something--a tiny something--reared its head.  Her relationship with Malcolm and Kaphiri was too perfect.  There had to be something lurking in the dark corners of their connection, because no relationship was as flawless as this one was.

'The other shoe will drop at some point.  Expect it.'

Shantreyl shook her head and chastised herself for doubting her men.  There was nothing to worry about.  She threw the pills into the trash under the sink and gazed once more at her blue diamond ring.  She turned on the shower, put on a shower cap and got in.  She hoped she had at least another ten minutes to wash up, put on something sexy and be laid out on the bed by the time they arrived.

No such luck.  By the time the water was as warm as she liked it, she heard her door alarm chirp, which meant that they were there.  A minute or so later, Kaphiri and Malcolm entered the bedroom, heard the shower running and then went to the bathroom door.  Shantreyl stood at the shower door with an enormous smile, covered in sudsy eucalyptus bubbles.

Kaphiri and Malcolm looked at her, then at each other, and then back at her before stepping into the bedroom and undressing.  When they were both naked, they joined her in the shower.  Shantreyl saw Malcolm put some condoms on the bathroom counter and smiled at him as he came in.

“This is what you had in mind?” Kaphiri asked.

“Doesn’t matter to me,” Malcolm said, kissing her lips.  “We could do it in ShoNuff’s litter box.  I don’t care.  I’m just happy Shantreyl feels like fucking.”

“I wanted to wash up before you guys arrived, but since you’re here and I just hopped in…no better place to start than in the shower.  Key word: start.  Do you have enough room?  I hope you have enough energy.”

“We’ll be fine,” Kaphiri said as he moved around to her back.

“Absolutely,” Malcolm replied, stepping up to her front.

Shantreyl smiled.  “Good.  Let’s make a baby.”

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