OPUS Mag

Far from timid • Caveat Lector

Fiction Series: Heaven's Dew - Part 1

Fiction Series: Heaven's Dew - Part 1

“I am so sick of this shit.” I whisper to myself walking towards the entrance.

I loved Pax but he was in love with his work. He had his meetings and business trips, his dinner parties. I attended every one; standing at his side, fake smiling at his friends and colleagues.

Tonight, he promised we would only stay for an hour. Then, we would make our way over to my best friend’s birthday dinner. We are three hours in. I am pissed. He noticed my annoyance levels rising when I traded my red wine for aged Bourbon. He nodded towards the exit. I rolled my eyes, downed my drink, and quickly took my leave before his audience noticed our strained interaction.

Appearances mean everything to Paxton Camren.

I stood in the lobby as he said his goodbyes. His partner and best friend, Cruz Reyes, follows me out and stands next to me. I stood looking out into the parking garage of the hotel where the dinner is being held. I adjusted my dress. I wasn’t sure if it was the warmth of the bourbon or his grey eyes but I suddenly felt vulnerable under the weight of his gaze.

Cruz notices my discomfort and attempts to fill the silence between us nodding back towards the crowd surrounding Pax, “He’s the life of the party. Isn’t he?”

I turn and look back through the glass doors. I watch as the man I’ve chosen worked the people around him.

 “Yes, I imagine he is.” I smile, letting out a short breath. “Why aren’t you inside playing your role?”

The double doors before us slide open and a couple stumbles in. Cruz pulls me near to him as the first woman trips over herself and stumbles towards me. Her partner grabs her just before she falls into me apologizing as she goes.

 “You know me, Noelani. I’ve never liked the crowds or the attention. I’m just here because these people keep the doors of our offices open.”

It isn’t until he chuckles that I realize how close we are, his arm still holding onto me protectively. I close my eyes and take a moment to breathe him in. Maison Margiela. Pax loves this scent, also.

 “Lani. Lani.” I’m torn from my trance by his stern but gentle voice. “Pax is coming now.”

I step back and fix my hair behind my ear. Guilt washes over me. I haven’t done anything wrong. I reassure myself when I feel Pax’s hand at the small of my back.

 “I’m sorry, Lani. Time got away from me.” He holds his hand out to me. I reach inside my clutch and grab his phone handing it to him. “Did you call for the car?”

Pax begins to scroll through his notifications responding quickly to emails and iMessages.

 “No, I didn’t.”

 “Cruz has you distracted I see. Are you flirting with my fiancé Reyes?”

 “Of course. She’s beautiful. Who wouldn’t?” Cruz winks at me. I roll my eyes and look away. Pax doesn’t seem to notice engulfed in his phone.

“Well, Noelani is mine. Remember, we only share business.” Pax smirks patting Cruz on the shoulder just as two black trucks pull up. I cringe. I am no one’s property.

“I’m the least of your worries, brother.” Cruz extends his hand towards Pax. “Goodnight, Paxton.”

 “In the morning, brother.” Pax responds.

 “In the morning.” Cruz calls back.

He turns to walk toward the driver who has opened the door to the first black truck but turns back after a couple of steps. He bends to me placing a gentle kiss on my cheek. “Goodnight, Lani.”

I shrink back from him, “Goodnight…Cruz.” His name leaves my lips in a gentle whisper.

He turns and walks away, disappearing into the back of the truck.

 “Noelani. Let’s go.” Pax beckons me. He’s already standing at the back of our car still typing away on his phone.

I watch as the first truck pulls away and climb into our car, Pax following behind me. I move to the far left, lean into the door, and stare out of the window. I watch as the lights of the city begin to fade as we make our way from downtown to our private community. I must have dozed off for some time. I was awakened by a gentle nudge. We were in the wraparound driveway of our home. I grab Paxton’s hand and climb out of the back of the truck thanking the driver. As we make our way up to the porch the lights along the path begin to glow.

We walk inside, greeted by my babies, Franklin and CoCo, Yorkshire Terriers gifted to me by Pax when he proposed two years ago.

I follow Paxton upstairs. Neither of us speak. He walks into our bathroom and turns on the shower. I go to him turning my back. He unzips my dress and let it fall to the floor. I step inside the glass shower. Pax climbs in after me. He had a second shower head installed when we were having the house built. Tonight, he insists on being on my side. He turns me around to face him and the warmth of the water through my hair soothes me. He plays with my soft curls as they form under the pressure of the water.

 “I’ve always loved your curls.”

 “I know.”

He runs his hands down my sides and places a soft kiss against my lips. He speaks without pulling back, “If I ever see you as close to Cruz as you were tonight there will be hell to pay.” He abruptly moves back to his side of the shower.

“Pax, it’s Cruz. Don’t be silly.” I reach out to him. He pulls away.

 “Noelani.” Annoyed I turn around and quickly finish showering. I sit down, naked at my vanity and begin to detangle my hair.

Pax walks pass drying himself as he goes, “Make sure you straighten it. We’ll have guests in the morning.”

My face is cold. I can tell he’s upset and I am, too. I missed my best friend’s dinner. I spent the entire night kissing ass for his sake and he is extremely ungrateful. I don’t want Cruz.

I don’t.

I finish my nightly moisture routine, turn down the lights, and climb into bed next to Paxton. Out of habit, I snuggle into his side and out of habit he pulls me into him.

 “Sleep well, Noelani.”

 “Sleep well, Paxton.”

He digs his hands into my hair wrapping my curls around his hand, pulling back forcefully. A scream escapes my mouth as I bite down on the pillow in front of me. He uses his free hand to deepen the arch in my back. As he ventures deeper inside of me I begin to thrust backwards into him.

 “Shit, Lani.” His curses encourage me to move more aggressively. He presses his body into me until I’m lying flat on my stomach. With his hand still in my hair he pulls my head back and hungrily kisses me. Our breathing is in sync as he plunges in and out of me. My body begins to quake beneath him and he whispers softly into my ear, “For me. Do it for---”

 “Lani. Noelani.” A bright light pierces through the room. “Lani.”

I roll over using my arm to shield my face from the sunlight. “What the fu--?”

My mind finally catches up to the present moment. I jump out of the bed simultaneously adjusting my hair and rubbing my face. “Mrs. Camren! Good morning. I wasn’t expecting you.”

I smooth the gown I had slipped on before climbing into bed last night.

Why is she in my room? Why is she here? It hit me. Paxton said we would have guests.

 “Yes, Lani. Well, I could tell by the soft moans you weren’t expecting company anytime soon.” I shrink in embarrassment. She finishes pulling the shades and turns toward the door. “Breakfast is served when you find the time to get yourself together.” She begins to exit the room but stops short, “…and straighten your hair.” She continues exiting the room with the poise and grace of a kept white woman, only she’s not and I know her story.

Bitch.

 “…find time to get yourself together.” I mimic her voice as I open the double doors of my custom closet. I asked Paxton for plush carpeting and he made it happen; imported carpet and light fixtures, ceiling to floor mirrors, and enough space for queen chairs. I run my hands across the dresses and settle on his favorite. It’s a long black maxi with spaghetti straps, a very low neckline, and high splits. It fits loosely as to not offend Mrs. Camren’s uppity ass.

I dress as quickly as I can muster the motivation to entertain Paxton’s guests. If Mrs. Camren is here I can only imagine what I’m about to walk into. I make my way to the top of the stairs and peer down. I can hear the laughter rising from below.

Our foyer has been transformed while I slept. The space is filled with high tops and all white décor. There are fresh flowers all around and several servers carrying trays of cocktails and pastries.  There is a small set with an acoustic band playing softly. A young girl sings lightly over the melody. All of the guests are wearing white. I descend further and I’m met by Paxton.

I'll never understand how I can be left out of the planning for an event in my own home.

 “Lani, good morning.” He smiles gently.

Paxton loves appearances.

 “Why didn’t you wake me and why didn’t you tell me to wear white?” I whisper to him as he embraces me. I smile behind him as our guests look on. “Ahh…morning everyone.” I let him go and brush pass towards the many faces eager to greet me.

I give light hugs moving to stand next to Big Pax, Paxton’s father. Of all the Camrens, Big Pax is my absolute favorite. He is constantly reminding his wife and children of their humble beginnings.

Big Pax started the trading company Cruz and Paxton now run. He retired early once he realized Pax and Cruz were ready to take the company to the next level. So, now while they travel from country to country trading, putting smaller firms out of business Big Pax spends his days watching the Atlanta Hawks practice since he owns a portion of the team.

Big Pax hates keeping up appearances.

However, he does whatever Mrs. Camren says because hell hath no fury like that of Mrs. Camren in the midst of a tantrum.

 “Big Pax, it is always a pleasure to see you.” I take his arm and lead him out on the deck.

 “Lani, you look as beautiful as ever. How is my son treating you?” He looks around for Mrs. Camren before taking out a cigar and lighting it.

I hold back my laughter. “We’re fine.”

He looks at me strangely. “You know I made my living being able to read people. Can’t learn to make good trades without learning to observe people Lani.”

I look away and out onto the garden surrounding the deck. “I don’t know Big Pax. It’s been four years and instead of getting better I feel like we’ve climaxed. What if his work and these homes are it?”

 “Would that be so bad?” Mrs. Camren’s voice interrupts. “It sounds to me as if someone is ungrateful.” She snatches the cigar from Big Pax and drops it into the water glass she is carrying. “If I were you, Noelani, I would tread carefully. You aren’t married to my son just yet.” She takes her husband by the hand and walks back into the brunch just as Paxton calls for everyone’s attention.

I step just inside the door folding my arms. I try to hide my confusion. I have no idea what he could be sharing. Paxton stands at the bottom of the steps and waits for his guests to gather.

His cologne overwhelms me instantly. “I have always loved this dress on you.” Cruz.

I shift my weight from one side to the other never looking up at him. “It’s old.”

 “It’s sexy.”

 “That’s inappropriate.” I reach up with my left arm and begin twirling my earring.

 “Is it?” He closes the space between us. We still don’t face one another.

 “It is.” I lean back on the wall.

He laughs. “It wasn’t inappropriate two years ago.”

I look up at him in disdain. “Reyes. You promised.”

“It’s the dress.” He chuckles. “You knew what you were doing.”

“What? It was quick. I was trying to get downstairs.”

“Is that why you wore the charm bracelet, too?” He twirls the charms around my wrist. His fingertips graze across the inside of my hand as he pulls away sending a shockwave up my arm, down my spine, and into my core.

Everyone has gathered now. “Noelani, Cruz will you join me here?” I move first. I’m not sure if I am running to Paxton or away from Cruz. Cruz follows closely. We stand on either side of Paxton.

“I want to thank you all for being here on such short notice. It was important to Cruz and I that we make this announcement to all of our friends and family together.”  He looks back at Cruz and Cruz nods. “As you all know we’ve been working for some time to create a third segment of Camren Enterprises. Yesterday, we finalized the paperwork for a major partnership giving us the opportunity to do just that. In six months, we will be launching Camren Enterprises-Seoul.”

Our family and friends clap and raise their glasses in congratulations to Cruz and Paxton. The two men embrace each other briefly, smiling. Big Pax makes his way over and puts a hand on Paxton’s shoulder in approval. Both men nod.

Paxton turns around and grabs my hand. “Okay, okay… I have one more announcement.” Everyone is quiet again and looking on in anticipation. He looks back at me sweetly, “Noelani and I have set a date.”

I try to conceal my cough as I choke on air. The walls begin to close in around me.

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