Authors: Nikki Woods
“You get right to the point, huh?” I shifted weight and took a deep breath. He was right, no use in beating around the bush. “Listen, Damon, I've been doing a lot of thinking about things
you said before you left Chicagoâabout me thinking with my head and not my heart. Well, you're right. Pride can be an ugly thing and I've let it rule my life for too long. In your note you said that you didn't want to pressure me and that if I ever wanted something to happen between us, then it would be my move.” I smiled. “Well, consider this my move.”
“I'm sorry?” Damon asked, cupping his hand to his ear and leaning toward me.
“You heard me.” I crossed my arms in front of me, each second feeling more and more unsure.
“No, I don't think I did,” Damon answered as the corners of his mouth pulled back into a big cheesy grin.
“See, that's why I wasn't going to come over here.” I pointed my finger at him. “You always make things so damn difficult.”
“What are you talking about, Kingston?”
“You know good and damn well what I'm talking about.”
“I'm not quite sure I do, so show me,” Damon said and leaned back in his chair, the dare shining in his eyes.
Accepting the challenge, I walked over to him and ran my hands over his shoulders and up his neck until they were cupping his face. If he needed me to prove that I was ready, then that was what I would damn well do.
I leaned down until my lips were touching his. “I love you, Damon. I never thought I could ever love anyone as much as I love you. I love you more now than I did ten years ago, and I will love you more tomorrow than I do today. You complete me. Forever would not be enough time to spend with you.” Then I kissed him with all the feelings that had been penned up for so long, the feelings that I was no longer ashamed to show.
Damon ended the kiss with a gentle push and stood. “Sounds good to finally hear that, Kingston, but you've made me wait a long time. I think I may need a few days to think about this.”
His words came as a slap in the face. I felt as if he had just poured a pitcher of ice-cold water over my head and I struggled to keep my composure.
“That's fair,” I said despite the war that was raging in my head. “You know where to find me. Let me know what you decide.” I turned to leave, determined to get home before the sobs that were building forced their way out. But before I could reach the door, Damon grabbed my hand and spun me around.
“I was just joking.” His eyes danced with merriment.
“Well it wasn't funny, Damon.” I started crying, purely out of anger and embarrassment.
“I'm sorry. I couldn't resist. You know I love you. How could you not know that?” He sat down and pulled me onto his lap. “I just want you to be sure.”
“No, I want you to be sure because it's no longer just me. Teeka is a part of my life now, so we come as a package deal.”
“Then, I accept.”
“Wait, not so fast. There's something else I need to tell you.”
“I'm listening,” Damon said, as he nuzzled my ear.
His lips paused in midair. “Come again.”
“I'm pregnant,” I repeated slowly, but Damon's face remained blank. “Don't look at me like you're about to ask me who the father is.”
Damon frowned. “I wasn't going to ask you that. I know it's my baby. You were born to be the mother of my child. I'm just trying to figure out how you feel about it.”
“I'm happy about it; a little surprised that I'm now the mother of two or about to be.”
“How far along are you?”
“Just a few weeks. I used one of those early pregnancy tests.”
“That's what I figure. I need you to recommend a doctor so I can get formally examined.” When he grinned, I added, “And no, it's not going to be you.”
“There are a lot of qualified gynecologists in Kingston.”
“Good. And Keela's gonna come for awhile after the baby is born.”
“Keela knows?” Damon asked, a hurt look on his face. “Why didn't you just come and tell me?”
“I needed time to think about all of this. I wanted to know what I was going to do before I came to talk to you.”
“And what do you want to do?”
“I want to be with the father of my child.”
“Then the only question left is do you want to be married to the father of your child?”
I tried not to swoon. “Are you asking me to marry you?”
“I guess I am.”
“Good, because if you hadn't asked me, then I would have asked you. When?” I asked as if this were a business meeting and we were in the middle of negotiations.
“As soon as possible.” He smiled before burying his face in my stomach and rubbing his head back and forth slowly. “I can't believe my baby is in here.” He kissed my tummy. “You're not showing at all.”
“I'm only a few weeks,” I said as I pulled the necklace that Damon had given me for Christmas out of the pocket of my miniskirt. I passed it to him and he clasped it around my neck. He ran his hands up the back of my thighs and traced the outline of my lace bikini while I pressed my lips to the top of his head. Then, I came to my senses.
Fighting against the tingle in my stomach, I swatted his hands away. “Don't even try it, Damon. We're gonna do it right this time. Pregnant or not, we don't make love again until we're husband and wife.”
“Not at all? You mean you're completely shutting down the sugar factory?”
“Yep. So don't even think about trying to open the door. It's locked and I have the only key.”
“So I can't do something like this?” Damon ran his tongue along the waistband of my denim mini-skirt.
“Definitely not something like that,” I said, but didn't pull away; just the opposite, I leaned in a little bit closer.
“Then this wouldn't be allowed.” He slowly slipped a finger inside of me.
“You damn right it wouldn't be.” I wiggled my hips, tried to escape, but he would not be dissuaded.
“So then tell me, Kingston. What about something like this?” In went another finger.
“Damon,” I breathed, feeling as if I were going to burn from the inside out.
“Wait, I have another question. Is this on the list, too?” And suddenly my mini skirt was pushed all the way up and his tongue had made it to the sugar factory. I tossed my head back and prepared myself for an out-of-body experience; but just as the factory was about to explode, there was a short rap on the door.
“Doctor,” Tiny's voice squeaked. “Your next patient is here.”
Damon swore viciously under his breath as I fought to control the tidal wave that was crashing inside.
“Give me five minutes to finish up and then bring her back.”
“Yes, sir,” Tiny said, her heels clicking all the way to the front room.
“Just five minutes?” I teased.
“I'm sorry, sweetheart. Ms. Gladys is here for her diagnosis,” Damon said as I straightened my skirt over my hips, pushed my hair back into place. “Are you ready?” Damon kissed me tenderly on the lips, still tasting of me, then touched the chain that lay against my chest. It was now a symbol of our love.
“Ready for everything?” Damon asked and I smiled, full of the knowledge that I really was ready for all that God had chosen to give me. Damon returned the smile and opened the door just as Tiny's fist was raised in the air, prepared to knock again; an older woman right behind her stared at us over horn rimmed glasses.
“Tiny, Ms. Gladys, I'd like to introduce you to my fiancÃ©e, Kingston.”
Tiny fluttered, while Ms. Gladys offered her congratulations.
“I'll be down for dinner,” he said with a quick kiss on the cheek, already claiming his territory. I nodded and kissed Damon one more time, leaving Ms. Gladys and Tiny with more than a little to gossip about before heading home and trying to come up with the words on how to break the news to Bianca and Teeka.
I swung away from the full-length mirror, scooping up the cascading ivory satin train just in time to save it from being trampled. “Hi, sweetie,” I said and kneeled down so Teeka could wrap her arms around my neck, kissing her loudly on the forehead before pulling back, and giving her the once over. “My, don't you look pretty in your new dress!”
The purple lilacs on her dress danced as she spun around the room like a ballerina, beaming at the compliment.
“And you look absolutely stunning, Kingston,” Bianca commented as she walked into the Church's choir room that doubled today as my dressing room. She was wearing an adult version of Teeka's dress and would stand beside me as my maid of honor. Her hair was twisted in a French bun sprinkled with small lilacs. With a smile, I rose carefully, not wanting to step on the hem of my dress.
“I can't believe you're getting married.” Her voice broke and I grasped her hand. “Please, don't start crying. You'll make me start crying and then I'll ruin my makeup.”
“I'm sorry. I'm just so happy for you,” she said sincerely.
Bianca turned to Teeka. “Want to go with me?” Teeka answered by grabbing her hand. “ I'm gonna go check on things out there again. Give you a few minutes by yourself.”
I watched them leave, hands clasped and their arms swinging between them. I couldn't ask for more; Damon, Keela and Bianca had accepted Teeka into the family without question and I was about to marry the man of my dreams and have his child.
Standing in front of the mirror, I turned from side to side. Small, iridescent pearls decorated the bodice of my wedding dress that tapered to a cinched waist and form-fitted skirt. I had elected to leave my hair down, but did agree to let the beautician straighten it at Bianca's insistence. It was parted and fell gracefully to the middle of my back. Mama Grace's simple pearl drop earrings dotted my ears and her pearl necklace was clasped around my neck.
“You don't even need make-up today. That âpregnant and I'm about to be a married woman' glow is more than enoughâyou could light the whole church up,” Keela said just as her face appeared in the mirror. Our eyes caught and we smiled.
“I'm so glad you could make it, Keela. I thought I was going to have to get married without you.”
“Never that. You just have to repay me the money I used to bribe the doctor to release me to travel this far in my pregnancy.”
“I would have gone to Chicago and kicked that doctor's ass if he hadn't agreed to let you come.”
“Yeah, well, now I might deliver this baby at the reception.” She rubbed her protruding belly, a hand pressed in the small of her back. “Just wait, you'll understand soon enough.” Her maternity bridesmaid's dress made for extra room just a month ago was stretched tightly against her stomach.
“Damon's a good doctor. You'll be all right.”
Keela laughed. “Does he have any of the good drugs hidden in that tuxedo? âCause I don't want to wake up until it's over.” Keela rubbed her tummy. “But today's not about me, it's about you.”
Bianca and Teeka walked back in the room. “Looks like things are actually going to get started on time. Are we ready?”
“I'm ready!” Teeka squealed, her hand shooting in the air.
“Well, if you're ready, Teeka, then I guess I am, too,” I teased, rubbing my hands together. “Let's get this show on the road.”
“I'll let the organist know. And we should take our places.” She nodded to Keela.
I took one last look in the mirror before turning to face themâthere wasn't a dry eye amongst us.
“I'm so glad my best friends are here with me today.” I clasped their hands with mine. “I couldn't imagine doing it without you guys. I love both of you.”
“And we love you, too,” Keela said, pulling us into a group hug. Teeka struggled her way into the middle and wrapped her arms around my legs.
“Me, too, me too!” she yelled.
“Yes, you too, Teeka!” I smiled down at her and gave her a special hug. “Now let's get out there and marry Daddy.”
We walked from the choir room to the foyer of Coke Methodist Church and lined up behind the oak double doors that led to the sanctuary.
This was the church where my grandparents had been married, I had been christened, and we said goodbye to Mama Grace. My union to Damon would start the cycle of life once again.
The doors flung open and the organ started playing Teddy P's song, “Greatest Inspiration. ”
I hummed as Teeka walked in first, tossing roses to the left and to the right, only stopping when she reached Damon's side.
“You're my latest, my greatest inspiration,” crooned Teddy.
Damon stood alone, handsomely dressed in his tuxedo. Two of his cousins that I'd just met the night before stood with him, a little off to the side. Reverend Pegue loomed over the proceedings from the pulpit.
Bianca looked back one last time before walking down the aisle, followed by Keela. I would tease her later about waddling at the reception.
Finally, it was just me. When the organist segued into the traditional wedding march, I clasped my bouquet closer to my breast and looked at my prize. The church fell silent and eventually the well-wishers that packed the pews disappeared.
It was just Damon and me. And as I stood looking into his sugar brown eyesâI saw that what was imprinted on my soul was imprinted on his, too.
In that moment, I knew that I had everything that I'd ever need right here in this church.