A week later, on Sunday, Malcolm picked Shantreyl up from Fallon Station at noon and took her to Fireside Park, where they had a picnic. Malcolm ‘fessed up when Shantreyl accused him of getting help with the menu, which consisted of antipasto lettuce wraps, hummus and pita bread, black bean and corn salad, fried chicken wings, panzanella with vegetables, peach hand pies, fruit salad, lemonade and sweet tea.
“I know you didn’t cook this yourself, Malcolm! Did your mother make all this? Did you wake your mother up to cook for you?”
He laughed. “No. My mother’s cooking days are over and I can’t cook. I have a very, very good friend who owns the Zig Zag Diner. Her name’s Nyx and she put all this together for me. I arranged it ahead of time because I knew exactly what I wanted our fourth date to be.”
“Everything looks amazing and the chicken is still hot. And it’s a perfect day for a picnic, Malcolm. You chose well.”
“I’m trying to get Nyx to expand her business, but she’s on the fence about it. I want her to open up a bar next to the diner.”
Shantreyl wasted no time biting into a chicken wing. Her eyes closed in bliss. “Damn, this is goooood!” After she finished the wing, she said, “You told me that you wanted to make breakfast for me after that night…how were you gonna make breakfast for me if you can’t cook?”
Malcolm smiled again as he fixed her plate. “What I had planned was to take you to the Zig Zag Diner. Kaphiri and I eat breakfast there regularly. Nyx’s food is delicious.”
Shantreyl leaned back in her cozy little seat that Malcolm had been thoughtful enough to provide and wiggled her toes after kicking off her sandals. She sipped on her lemonade. “Maybe we can go another time.”
“Absolutely,” he said, handing her the plate. “I’m a fan of her omelet breakfasts and her biscuits and gravy. Kaphiri loves her pancakes and waffles.”
Shantreyl said, “You said fourth date, not three.”
He looked at her. “Come again?”
“You said you knew what you wanted our fourth date to be.”
He nodded. “It is our fourth date. I’m counting that night at the club. We had dinner and we made love. It counts. It might have started as a one-night stand for you, but it quickly became something else for me. How were you counting?”
“I wasn’t,” she said, as she ate some salad. “I’m following your lead. If you say this is date number four, then it is. Jaya said I shouldn’t fuck you again until date five or six.”
Malcolm almost choked on his salad. Shantreyl smiled. “Her concern is the same as what I shared with you that night at the Vermilion…that we have a true compatibility, not just sexual harmony.”
“Sexual harmony. I like that. It sounds like the name of an R&B group.” He side-eyed her. “Did you put a sex deadline on our dates?”
“No. When I’m comfortable, we’ll have sex. I’m enjoying all of this. All of the attention, the adoration, the gifts. I’ve never had it like this with any other man I’ve dated. So far, things are working in your favor.”
“Good. I want you happy, baby. I love to see that smile on your face.”
“Kaphiri told me that,” she said. “He said that you don’t like it when I’m unhappy.”
“I don’t,” he said, matter of fact. “You told me that you were going to leave everything up to me, which means you trust me. If something happens and you don’t like it, then that means I screwed up and your trust in me is no longer absolute. Can’t have that, Shantreyl. I can’t. If things work out and I have my way, you’ll be my wife, and you definitely can’t be unhappy with me as your husband. I won’t hear of it.”
Shantreyl smiled as she ate some fruit. “Let’s see what happens.”
* * *
The week after that, Malcolm took Shantreyl to Skate Town, a roller skating rink, on Adult Night. Neither of them had been on skates since they were teenagers, so both of them fell a few times. However, Shantreyl was having so much fun skating with her boyfriend that her six trips to the ground didn’t cause her any real distress, even though she was sore as hell the next day. Jaya and Renee were thrilled with the progress of Malcolm’s and Shantreyl’s relationship. They appreciated Malcolm’s honesty and attention to detail.
The following weekend, Shantreyl decided to do something for Malcolm so that he wouldn’t think she was completely selfish, in spite of her saying she would leave their courtship up to him. But she was on her last week of work and all of the things that work required had her exhausted by the weekend. Graduation was on Saturday night and it didn’t end until shortly before midnight. While the graduates were receiving their diplomas, Shantreyl was texting back and forth with Malcolm. She invited him to her house the next day and told him that all she really wanted to do was to spend time with him, watch TV and relax.
So we’re going to Netflix and chill, baby?
I guess we are. When was the last time you did that?
It’s been a while. And it’s a good idea. I’m glad you came up with it. I’m exhausted and currently fresh out of date ideas and all I really want to do is absolutely nothing. It’s been a busy week for me. I would love to kick it at your house, have you feed me, watch TV and hang out on the couch.
I know I said I would leave it all up to you, but it is time that I do something for us. Don’t get used to it. I love being spoiled by you, but I think it’s okay if I spoil you for a bit. I’m tired too. I don’t want to do anything any more strenuous than flicking the remote. My summer officially begins tomorrow. So glad. Tired of that bitch.
And now you can relax and enjoy yourself without having to deal with that woman. Baby, you spoil me by being amenable to my plans. You spoil me by being with me and letting me take care of you. That’s important to me, as you well know.
I know. I love that about you. I don’t worry when I’m with you and Jaya and Renee adore you.
Good. That’s what I like to hear.
So they spent the next day on Shantreyl’s couch, in front of her 65-inch flat screen. She put together a fruit and veggie plate, made a crock-pot full of chunky queso dip with tortilla chips, and ordered wings and beer from PotRoast. It had been a long time since Malcolm actually watched television, and so he was at a loss when Shantreyl started listing shows that they could watch.
“You choose, baby,” he said. “Whatever makes you happy.”
“Black Mirror is one of my favorite shows. It’s like Twilight Zone, but with technology as the focus. It’s British, so there aren’t that many episodes per season. Or we can watch this show called Slasher, but it’s got three seasons with eight to ten episodes each, so we won’t finish it in one day. Or we can watch some movies. Which do you prefer?”
“Let’s do movies. You choose which ones. I just want to sit here with you and munch on all these goodies you put together. Also you.”
ShoNuff introduced herself to Malcolm by way of jumping in his lap and doing a double rotation before settling down. He caressed her and scratched her head. “What’s its name?”
“After Julius Carry’s character in The Last Dragon? You named your cat that?”
Shantreyl smiled. “Sho ‘nuff, but she’s a girl.”
The cat settled into Malcolm’s lap and Shantreyl smiled at her, scratching her head. “Well, I guess I won’t be able to lay on your lap. ShoNuff likes you. That’s a good sign.”
“I can put her down,” he said.
“No, it’s fine. We can sit here with her.”
“Whatever you want.”
ShoNuff purred in agreement. Malcolm idly stroked her fur.
About forty minutes into the first movie, 1922, ShoNuff got up to go to her litter box. Malcolm took that opportunity to remove his shoes and stretch out on the couch and Shantreyl did so with him. She put her head on his chest and he put his arm around her. It was nice being with him like this. Shantreyl felt safe, protected, and most importantly, loved.
About fifteen minutes later, she asked: “Do you want children?”
“Yes,” he said. “Two would be nice; I don’t care what.”
“I can’t believe you made it to forty without having at least one kid.”
“I believe in protection. I had a vasectomy when I was younger because I knew I didn’t want kids at the time, and to be honest, I didn’t trust some of the women I dated. I know that I’m a catch for some because of what I do for a living, but I was never really serious about most of my previous relationships. The women I dated before you were glamorous. They were like supermodels. Slender, stylish, didn’t want me to see them without a face full of makeup and flawless hair. Some were actually models, others kept women, and maybe a few of them had actual jobs. You are more beautiful to me than they were. Like right now, you’re not wearing makeup, you have on some old shorts and a T-shirt with no bra, and you have a bandanna on your head. Your hair’s a mess.”
“I’m at home,” she said. “This is how I look at home. Yesterday was the end of the school year and I’m exhausted. If you were expecting otherwise, then…”
“No,” he said, running one hand over her ass and using the other to tweak one of her doorknob nipples. “I love it. You’re sexy as hell. I would be wearing your fine ass out right now if you allowed it. The others never let me see them like this.”
“So what about the vasectomy?”
“I’m going to have the procedure reversed when it’s time.”
“How many women have you dated?”
“Seriously? Two or three, but it never worked out. I was too busy trying to grow my business. Now that everything’s stable, I’m ready for that next step.”
“So you got yourself snipped so that the women you dated wouldn’t trap you with a child?”
“Precisely. A couple of them tried to, which let me know they were fooling around with other men while they were with me. They weren’t happy to learn that I had a vasectomy and knew without a doubt that their pregnancy tests were either fake or the result of them fucking other men.”
“Really. My status as a businessman and hotel/casino owner affords me a particular lifestyle; one that certain types of women want. I make a whole lot of money and some women see that and start plotting a way to get their hands on my bank accounts, be it fair or foul.”
She looked up at him. “Wait. Hold up. Are you saying that you own the Vermilion? You don’t just manage it; you own it?”
“Yes, and the Solar Fountain, and some other businesses under the name Sullivan Parker Incorporated.”
“Are you a millionaire or something?” Shantreyl held her breath, not sure how she was going to feel about the answer. She was still processing what he just told her.
Malcolm turned her chin up so he could look at her. “Yes. I told you, Kaphiri and I are very good at what we do. Is this a problem for you, Shantreyl? You may as well know now that I’m rich.”
She shook her head. “It’s not, but it is a little overwhelming. I’m not sure what I should do with the knowledge.”
“You don’t have to do anything, baby. Just let me love you and spoil you. I’m able to, you know.”
Shantreyl said without thinking, “I love my job and I don’t want to give it up.”
Malcolm rubbed her ass. “You don’t have to do that. If you want to keep on teaching, then keep on teaching. It’s not like the average person knows who Kaphiri and I are, or what our holdings consist of. There’s no paparazzi chasing us; we’re able to live our lives in relative anonymity and the same will be for you.”
“I’m going to need some time to process all this, Malcolm.”
“Take as much time as you need. I’m not going anywhere.”
Shantreyl ran her hand underneath Malcolm’s Black Panther T-shirt. “Is Kaphiri married? Does he have children?”
Malcolm chuckled. “Kaphiri doesn’t date, isn’t married, and he most definitely doesn’t have any children.”
“Doesn’t date? Are you serious? As fine as he is?”
“I’m serious. I told you that he has no patience for games, lies, or drama. I told you he wasn’t good with people. He gets what he needs sexually from the Zodiac Club. It would take a serious set of circumstances to get him to settle down and have children.”
“He gets what he needs sexually from the Zodiac Club? The club where we met? I’m confused.”
Malcolm tweaked her nipple again. “The Zodiac is more than just a club. It’s also a pleasure house. There are several levels in that building and it has everything any true hedonist desires. The pleasure house is serviced by thirteen extraordinary men and women—named after the signs of the Zodiac—who are trained to extract and enact one’s deepest desires. It’s a member’s only enterprise, and memberships range from burgundy to diamond, depending on what you want or need. Burgundy memberships are $5000 per month and diamond memberships cost $25,000 per month.”
“Trust me, there are plenty of people in this city who happily pay the requisite fees. The Zhous, the owners, have created a unique environment for their clientele. Kaphiri and I are good friends with Madalyne and Macallan Zhou, so he gets a discount.”
“Do you know what kind of membership he has?”
“Knowing my friend, diamond is likely. He’s bisexual, so he’s not going to limit himself.”
Malcolm looked at her carefully. “Yeah. Is that a problem for you?”
“Um…no. I’m still thinking about the pleasure house and what all it contains. Have you ever been inside?”
“Of course. I tried it out, just to see what it was like and I had an amazing experience. There’s a dungeon, a bathhouse, a spa, and other specialized rooms and areas designed for whatever one desires. I’ve gone a couple of times, but it really isn’t my thing. I’m good like this.” He squeezed her ass again.
“Wow,” Shantreyl said. “I’d love to see it, just on principle.”
“If you really want to see for yourself, just ask. Kaphiri will take you if you want to go.”
Shantreyl poked her head up and looked at Malcolm. “Are you serious?”
“I am. He’d make a better tour guide than I would.”
“You wouldn’t have a problem with your friend taking me to a pleasure house?”
“I trust Kaphiri with my life and I trust him with you completely. So if you ever want to visit the pleasure house, just tell him.”
Shantreyl stared at Malcolm, stunned. “Wow!!! I don’t know any man who would be cool with letting his girl go to a sex club with his best friend and without him. I don’t know of any man who would be cool with letting his girl go to a sex club, period.”
“Kaphiri’s the only one I trust that much,” Malcolm said. “If you want to go, he’ll take you and he’ll protect you from getting hit on by randos...which will absolutely happen. Some man is going to see this juicy booty,” he smacked it for emphasis, “and these fat titties you got and lose his fucking mind trying to get to you. Kaphiri will keep that from happening. People tend not to fuck with him.”
“Your friendship is deep,” Shantreyl said.
“I told you he is more like a brother than a friend. I trust him and he trusts me. There are no secrets between us and we share everything equally. We don’t argue and we don’t fight. It’s a good partnership. We’ve made a lot of money over the years.”
“And your actual brothers don’t mind you having this close of a connection with Kaphiri?”
“Nope. I told you that Melvin is a doofus; I trust him with low-level security issues, but that’s it. Michael’s smart, but he doesn’t have the capacity to run a corporation as diverse as Sullivan Parker. He’s good with his accounting.”
“Okay then,” Shantreyl said. “You just laid a lot on me right now. I’m gonna need some time to process all this.”
“Fine, baby. I told you I’m not going anywhere. And I meant it when I said that if you want to go to the Zodiac pleasure house, ask Kaphiri to take you. It won’t bother me at all.”
Shantreyl kissed Malcolm’s lips. “You won’t deny me anything, will you?”
“Anything within reason,” he said, tweaking her nipple. “And you’re reasonable.”
Shantreyl bent her leg and ran her knee over Malcolm’s pelvis. She continued to rub his chest and kissed his lips. “Let’s go to my bedroom, what do you say?”
“Are you sure?” he asked.
She kissed him again. “I’m sure. Come wear my fat ass out.”
“We’re not done with the movie, baby.”
“I don’t care,” she said. “I want to fuck my man. If it matters that much, I can pull it up on my bedroom TV,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter at all, baby. If you want to fuck me, then let’s go. I’ll never say no to that.”
“We need to put the food away first,” she said, getting up.
Malcolm slapped her on the ass. “Just tell me what goes where.”
A few minutes later, Malcolm was lying naked on Shantreyl’s bed. He was on the phone while Shantreyl was in the bathroom. She had pulled back the duvet and the sheets and turned on the bedside lamps at Malcolm’s request. Malcolm arranged his phone on the nightstand and when Shantreyl came out, buck naked, he got up and took her hand to lead her to the bed. He set up her pillows against the headboard and pushed her up against them. Shantreyl sighed as he fondled her breasts and started kissing her lips. Soon, they were locked together in passion and ecstasy.
Across town, Kaphiri relaxed in his favorite chair and drank a glass of wine. He stared at his phone, watching his best friend fuck his girlfriend, a bottle of lubricant and Kleenex on the table next to the wine bottle.
* * *
Tuesday morning at the Zig Zag diner, Kaphiri sat at their usual table, sipping on fresh orange juice, listening to music and waiting for Malcolm. Malcolm spent Sunday and Monday at Shantreyl’s house and Kaphiri knew better than to bother him when he was with her.
Malcolm walked in a few minutes later and sat down. “Sorry I’m late, Kap.”
Kaphiri removed his earbuds. “This is a first. I imagine you had a hard time getting out of her bed.”
“And you know this,” Malcolm replied. “She’s on summer break now and whew…she was insatiable. She couldn’t get enough. I’m tired as hell.”
“I noticed,” Kaphiri said. “How many times after you contacted me?”
“I lost count, brother,” Malcolm replied. “I don’t have any idea. She was all over me. Sorry I couldn’t get you any more footage after that first round.”
Kaphiri said, “It’s okay, Mal. You gave me plenty of material to work with. She’s got a beautiful body. You were right; she sounds amazing when she climaxes. I like it when she’s loud. I think we both came at the same time.”
“I told you,” Malcolm said. “I nutted so hard I saw little black dots swirling before my eyes.”
“Her tits are incredible,” Kaphiri said. “I’ve never seen a woman with nipples that big. What do they feel like?”
Malcolm closed his eyes, remembering. “They’re thick and tender and they feel good on my tongue. It’s like having one of those dense lollipops in your mouth. Whenever I touch or lick her nipples, it makes her shiver. When I suck on them, she gets really wet; she can’t help it. She likes a little pressure, a little discomfort.”
“So do I. You should have slapped her titties more. I loved watching them bounce when she rode you. I imagine the view from your perspective was spectacular.”
Malcolm smiled. “Like worshipping twin gods.”
Kaphiri asked, “How does she taste? You looked like you couldn’t get enough.”
“Shit, I couldn’t. She’s sweet, but there’s a little tang to it, and when she’s really excited, she gushes. She wrapped those legs around my head and it nearly drove me crazy how turned on she was. Did you see that part? Did you see how wet my face was when she finally let me go?”
“I sure did,” Kaphiri said, drinking more juice. “It was sexy as hell. I was hard as fuck. I only wish I could have recorded it so I could see it again and again.”
“We’ll have to work that out somehow for next time. I’d definitely like to see things on the other side of the camera.”
Nyx walked over with Malcolm’s coffee. “Hey Mal, how are you? Running late this morning. First for you.”
“Yeah,” he said. “Busy day for me. Give me some biscuits and gravy, and some hash browns and eggs on the side, Nyx. I’m starving.”
“Excellent,” Nyx said, flicking her red hair over her shoulder. “Kap, what about you?”
“I’ll have my usual, Nyx, but give me some scrambled eggs on the side this time.”
“Even better,” Nyx replied. “Be back in a few.”
Kaphiri waited until Nyx was gone. Then he said, “That ass of hers is unbelievable. It’s perfect. I don’t think you slapped it hard enough though. I like seeing it jiggle. And that arch in her back…damn…it makes her ass look even better. You definitely didn’t nibble on it or her tits or eat her pussy like I would have. She would be a banquet, fucking with me.”
Malcolm said, “You didn’t see everything, Kaphiri. I did my share of nibbling and eating. How could I not? She’s a goddamn goddess.”
“I’m just saying,” he replied. “My sample size was small. I'd like more data. A lot more.”
“She’s soft all over,” Malcolm said. “Her neck, her chest and belly, those miraculous thighs and that ass...I can’t keep my hands off her. Being inside of her was like being in heaven, as far as I’m concerned. It was a real struggle to leave her this morning. She woke up horny and woke me up when she put that mouth on me.”
“She good at sucking dick?”
“Yes, and she let me nut all over her ass. I had to convince her to let me go. If I didn’t have to work today…if we didn’t have to deal with the gaming commission this week…I would have called in sick and spent one more day with her.”
“So, what do you think? Is it time, is it okay?”
“It’s time and it’s okay. I definitely want her in my life, in case that wasn’t clear. We had a carefully directed conversation about Sullivan Parker, you, my past girlfriends and having babies. She knows that we’re rich.”
“How much of me did you share with her?”
“Enough that she’s intrigued. I told her that you were bi and about your membership at the Zodiac and she was fascinated. I told her that if she really wants to see it for herself, then she should ask you and you would take her.”
“I sure as fuck would,” Kaphiri said. “And she didn’t object? She didn’t question you being okay with that?”
“She did. I told her that I trusted you, and that you would protect her from random motherfuckers trying to approach her. You’re the only man I trust around Shantreyl; you know that. She thought it was interesting that I trust you more than I do Mel and Mike.”
“Shit, Mel would be trying to fuck her minutes after meeting her, and Mike wouldn’t know what to do with a woman like that. She would scare the hell out of him. They’re going to see her at the cookout on Sunday, right? Melvin will be on her fine ass like flies on shit and we both know it.”
Malcolm nodded. “You’re right. I need to keep her away from Melvin. I don’t think I can deal with him slobbering all over her. I might fucking fight his ass if he tries it with her.”
“So, how much longer are you two going to date before you put a ring on it?”
“I’m playing it by ear. I know she has feelings for me, but it’s not time yet. Definitely before the year is out. She’ll be 36 in November and I want to put a baby in her within a year after that. We need to consider if you want that as well.”
“If she’s good enough to have your baby, then she’s good enough to have mine. I trust your judgment.”
“Well all right then,” Malcolm said as Nyx brought their breakfast to the table.
* * *
Shantreyl was sitting in Renee and Jaya’s living room late Tuesday afternoon, drinking sangria and eating snacks with her friends.
“You’ve been a ghost since Friday,” Jaya said, nibbling on finger sandwiches. “Haven’t called, haven’t texted, haven’t nothing. What’s going on?”
“Girl, graduation was Saturday, remember? While I was at graduation, Malcolm and I agreed to spend Sunday together at my place. I forgot to tell you two. I was so tired when I left the civic center. I went home and fell into bed. Glad the school year is over.”
“So did he come over?” Renee asked, sipping her Corona. “Did you two have sex?”
“He did and we watched movies and talked. And yeah, we had sex, a lot of sex. He didn’t leave my house until this morning and that’s because he has to work. I was so horny. I couldn’t keep my hands off him or his dick.”
Renee cackled like a lunatic. “Girl, you beat him up with that top-shelf pussy you got! He’s whipped!”
Jaya laughed. “Was it better than the first time you had sex with him?”
Shantreyl smiled slowly, nodding as she knocked back her sangria. “Way better. We know each other now and we weren’t shy about what we wanted. I went through a whole box of condoms, and not a three-pack, for the record. I bought them on the way home from graduation.”
“So you planned to fuck him on Sunday,” Renee said.
“It was time. I’ve seen him on a regular basis for the past two months. I know what he wants out of this and I know he has feelings for me. It was all right for me to give it up.”
Jaya started singing, off key. “I’ll give it up, yes sweet honey you win…”
Shantreyl joined in, not off key. “Oooh I wanna…give into temptation…a fire’s burning beneath my skin…that tells me stop the hesitation…”
Renee cackled again. “Talkin’ about him being pussywhipped? You’re dickmatized! When was the last time you sang, Shan? He must have put it on you!”
“Been a long time, Renee,” she replied. “I gave as good as I got. Malcolm makes me happy. He does things to make sure I’m content. I like being happy like this. I like the attention he pays me. I’m spoiled.”
“YAAAAAAAS!!” Jaya said, raising her glass of grape juice. “A toast…to Malcolm Sullivan. May he continue to spoil our friend and blow her mind!”
“I’ll drink to that,” Shantreyl said and raised her sangria.
Renee raised her beer and nodded her head. “So will I.”
“But you haven’t heard all of it,” Shantreyl said. “Here’s the big one, the numero uno: he’s rich.”
Jaya’s glass stopped halfway to her mouth. “Rich? You mean rich as in moneyed?”
Shantreyl nodded, a goofy smile plastered on her face.
“That motherfucker’s rich???” Renee said. “He’s rich? Like King Jaffe Joffer of Zamunda rollin’ up at the Waldorf-Astoria three Mercedes-deep rich?”
“I don’t think he’s that rich, Renee. He’s not king of any country I know of, but his business ventures are such that he and his partner make a lot of money. He and Kaphiri—that’s his friend and partner—own those hotel casinos, and a bunch of other businesses. The company name is Sullivan Parker. Sullivan's obvious and Kaphiri's last name is Parker.”
“Sweet heavens,” Jaya said, drinking her juice. “I think I’ve heard of them.”
“When’s the wedding?” Renee flatly asked before turning up her bottle of beer.
Shantreyl laughed. “I don’t know, Renee. If things get that far…who knows? Maybe we’ll just be boyfriend-girlfriend. We haven’t discussed marriage yet.”
“Bull-fucking-shit, Shantreyl Troy! Don’t even try to play us like that! You like him and he likes you and both of you know what the other wants and it’s only a matter of time before you act on it! Don’t even try to pretend that you haven’t thought about what it would be like, being married to a rich motherfucker like that!”
Shantreyl smiled so hard she knew she was blushing. “I did kinda fantasize a little bit after he left.”
“Fantasize?” Renee said. “I woulda been picking out places to go on our honeymoon and naming my first and second born. Girl, you hit the jackpot! You better secure that bag! Miles who???”
Jaya smiled. “I have to agree with my wife, Shan. I would be checking the calendar trying to decide when and where we were going to get married and when I wanted to catch pregnant. It would be nice if you could get pregnant within the next year and your baby be play cousins with our baby.” She rubbed her stomach. “I think that would be great. Don’t be stupid. Don’t you let Malcolm get away.”
Shantreyl blushed some more. “I won’t.”
A/N: Lyrics to "Give it Up" were written by Bobby Caldwell & Dennis Matkowsky. Performed by Evelyn "Champagne" King. No infringement intended.