It's Pride Month. To celebrate, this week's tease is the full chapter one from Worthy, which features Tessa who is a bi lead character.
Sometimes, you have to do wrong, to do right. ~ Tessa Obum.
“Grab those free seats, and I’ll get the drinks.”
Tessa made a beeline for the only available table in the already crowded nightclub while her friend Anuli sauntered to the bar. She settled on one of the low, padded oxblood chairs, pulling the other beside her and placing her purse on the cushion to secure it. So no one else carried it away as was likely to happen.
They liked to get here early on a Friday night, so they would have enough time to relax and survey potential marks. Unfortunately, an accident on the road into Port Harcourt had caused tailbacks, delaying them tonight. In the end, they’d exited the taxi car and flagged down motorbike riders instead. The bikers had been able to navigate the traffic and take an alternative route. To make sure no one saw them arriving, they’d hopped off a street away and paid the men.
Her gaze swept through the area. Xtasy was one of the premier night spots in Port Harcourt. The rich and the beautiful of the city came here. Dark walls, dim lighting, low tables and dance music contributed to the party atmosphere. Bodies gyrated against each other on the dance floor. The music was loud but not enough to drown everything out. Smartly dressed people stood, chatting and holding colourful drinks in their hands.
A few tables away, a man sat next to a woman who had to be his girlfriend from how she draped over him. He kept glancing at Tessa, flipping his tongue over his bottom lip in a suggestive manner.
Tessa resisted rolling her eyes heavenwards and ignored him. The place was busy enough she didn’t need to resort to some guy who should be paying attention to the woman next to him. She didn’t roll like that.
Anuli manoeuvred through the crowd, carrying Coke bottles with the black straws sticking out of them. She plonked the drinks on the table as Tessa pulled her purse from the other seat, giving her room to sit.
One of their rules. They never drank alcohol unless someone else was buying it. The non-alcoholic beverages in here were expensive enough.
“Seen anyone interesting?” Anuli asked as she leaned into the seat and glanced around the space.
Tessa grabbed her drink. “No one specific—” She leaned towards her friend, so no one else would overhear. “—but the guy in the red shirt at the table to my right has been eyeing me.”
Anuli tilted her head as she picked up her drink. “You mean him with the girl in purple?”
“That’s the one.” Tessa rolled her eyes.
“Nah wah, for some people. No be babe dey with am?” Anuli replied in the local Pidgin English, which they used privately for conversations.
“Are you telling me?” There was nothing more annoying than a man with a beautiful lady who was still ogling every other woman in the room.
She had a rule. They both did. They never encroached on another woman’s territory. If a man was so obviously taken, then they avoided him. Men with other women and men wearing wedding bands were off-limits.
Of course, some married men came here, hoping to pick up single women. If he didn’t wear a ring and didn’t declare himself as with someone else, then he was fair game.
“Well, let’s give him something interesting to look at.” Anuli nudged forward and planted her lips on Tessa’s, giving her a brief kiss.
The man’s eyes went wide, and his body racked as he coughed.
“It looks like you just gave the idiot a heart attack,” Tessa said with a giggle.
Anuli glanced over and laughed. “That’ll teach him.”
“Troublemaker.” Tessa smiled. Her friend had always been bold and uninhibited. Over the years of their friendship, Tessa had learned to be free and adventurous too. There was no other way to the life they lived. Their exploits had been born out of necessity, a need to survive rather than a search for thrills. The excitement was just the by-product. “Now I have to go and reapply my lipstick. I’m coming.”
She stood and headed to the ladies’, weaving through the throng of people. The smell of perfume and cologne mixed with smoke and sweat in the warm air. There was always a good group of people out here on Friday night—wealthy men, white expatriates—all looking to have fun. All with money to burn.
Tessa and Anuli were here to help them blow the dough. They were working girls with bills to pay.
As she came out of the bathroom stall, Tessa caught her reflection in the mirror. In the empty, muted space, she glanced at herself again. It was always a shock to see the transformation in her on Friday nights. She looked like a different woman from the person she was during the day, during the week.
Now, another woman stared back at her with brown tresses of wavy clip-in extensions almost to her hips, smoky dark eyes and sultry red lips. The short-sleeved, soft stretch jersey dress moulded onto curves stopping mid-thigh, and her velvet platform shoes made her appear taller than her usual five-feet-eight height.
She stood unrecognisable. She preferred it this way. The person she was on these nights wasn’t who she was for the rest of the time.
Keeping the two personalities and worlds separate was key to her survival.
What if you’re discovered? A cold finger skittered down her back, and she shuddered, pushing the thought aside. She didn’t want to entertain the terrible idea tonight or any other night.
She reapplied the ruby red lipstick before hurrying to the door. She needed to get back to the social atmosphere of the club. Friday nights weren’t meant for gloomy self-introspections.
As soon as she stepped out of the door, she collided with someone—an unyielding rock of a person. The force of the impact sent her stumbling back on her stilettos.
“Oh,” the man said and reached for her flailing arms.
Fingers wrapped around her upper arms and tugged. She slammed into the warmth of his compact abs. Breath whooshed out of her lungs, and she clutched his navy silk shirt to get steady.
For a moment, she didn’t move—a little disorientated. A little sucked in by the safety of the body cocooning her. Something made her lean in, close her eyes and suck in a huge breath. A fresh, clean scent filled her nostrils.
Wow. He smelled good. Better than good. Divine. She couldn’t remember the last time she stood this close to a man who made her was to nuzzle him and mark her body with his scent of cranberry, lemon, sage and man.
He couldn’t have been in the nightclub for long because the scent of sweat and smoke didn’t linger on his clothes.
There was a smoking ban in enclosed spaces and a sealed designated smokers’ section located in the club. But this late in the evening, when everyone buzzed on alcohol and fun, people smoked in the main club area as the ban wasn’t enforced strictly.
“Are you okay?” The sound of his voice rumbled low. It seemed to emanate from his chest.
Shivering, she opened her eyes and looked into his. Her breath caught. His were an obsidian shade, dark and compelling. His smooth skin was a tawny colour, the hair cut pretty close to his scalp. Brown brows arched over alert eyes, sharp nose bridged a symmetrical face, completed by lush lips and a square chin.
She wasn’t a small girl, and she stood in tower-high shoes. Still, he loomed over her. His navy dress shirt buttoned up without a tie. She followed the lean line across his broad shoulders down to the narrow hips and legs in charcoal trousers onto the ebony wingtips.
He was fucking hot—front cover of GQ magazine jalapeno hot.
Her body temperature went mercurial, and she wished for a blast of arctic air.
“Hello?” His voice rumbled with concern.
He’d asked if she was okay, and she hadn’t replied. Heat spread up from her chest, and she worked saliva into her dry mouth before speaking.
“Yes, I’m okay.” Her voice sounded alien. “Thank you. Sorry. I’m not usually this clumsy.”
She brushed fallen hair away from her cheek, a little shaken by her response to this man—this gorgeous man.
“It’s fine. I was the one walking fast.” He squeezed her arms as if trying to reassure her that it wasn’t her fault. “I should’ve known someone could be coming out of the door. Let me buy you a drink to make up for it.”
Releasing her, he stepped away.
A pang spread across her chest. She missed his closeness, his solidity. His warmth. There’d been something between them when their bodies touched, sparking in the air and sizzling along her nerve endings. She wanted to feel it again.
“How about you dance with me instead?” She stepped near him, hoping to re-establish physical contact.
Lines appeared on his forehead as he frowned and glanced towards the archway leading to the main club area. “I’m not a good dancer.”
He stared at her with those dark, assessing eyes of his.
She looked great in her outfit. Unless he already had female company, which wasn’t likely if he were offering to buy her a drink, then he hopefully wouldn’t be able to resist her offer to dance.
Curling her lips in a slow, seductive smile, she traced her fingertips along his arm. “It’s not that challenging, and I bet you’re a man who can do whatever he puts his mind to.”
He grinned, a boyish grin complete with a dimple that made him appear younger than the early-to-mid-thirties she’d placed his age.
“When you put it that way, I can certainly try.”
“Great.” She ran her tongue over the inside tip of her bottom lip, tasting the lipstick. “I’m Tessa.”
“Peter,” he said as she pulled him along onto the dance floor.
The music playing was ‘Yes No’ by Banky, a slow rhythm that made her step close to him and clasp his shoulders. They stood inches apart.
“Sway with me,” she said and started moving.
He hesitated only for a few heartbeats before he moved with her, wrapping his arms around her back and pulling her even closer. Their bodies met hips to hips. He danced with ease. Fluidly. Expertly.
Humility. A rare quality among Nigerian men. She’d met so many who’d proudly boasted about being great on the dance floor or in bed for that matter and still failed to deliver.
This man, Peter, exceeded her expectations within minutes of meeting her.
Her entire body thrummed, the spark of something between them reigniting. She tilted her head, sweeping the hair away from her face. Her pulse picked up speed. Adrenaline rushed through her veins. Leaning close to his ear, she spoke so he could hear her. “You’re good at this. What were you worried about?”
“I haven’t done this in a long time.” There was a sigh in his voice, a hint of regret that called to her in a way no other man had ever done.
His breath whispered against the skin of her nape. A tingle raced down her spine, and she almost moaned out loud. Their entwined bodies flowed with ease across the dance floor.
She’d always known that music could have erotic cadence, and she’d used it in the past to entrap others. She got lost in the motion, no longer the one in control of the situation.
Not with the snug way Peter held her in the security of his body. Not with her head cradled on his shoulders and her mind focused on him. Not with the way her belly fluttered and goose bumps skittered across her skin.
Everyone else on the dance floor seemed so far away on another planet. She orbited on planet Peter.
The music changed. This time, a faster beat with a throbbing baseline vibrated throughout the space and bounced off the walls. They didn’t separate, and Peter didn’t let go of her.
What are you doing? The small voice in her head nagged. Don’t get comfortable. You’re not on a date. You’re working.
She sighed. She’d never been this relaxed in the company of a man before. She’d almost forgotten the reason she was here and just gotten swept away in the moment. She needed to up the game.
When the track changed a third time, she twisted around, her back to his chest, her bum to his crotch. She rolled her hips, feeling the rock of his erection against the flimsy material of her dress. Answering arousal pooled between her legs, her insides contracting on emptiness.
Another first. She knew how to walk the talk. She’d played the game often enough and had mastered pretending to be aroused in male company. But actual arousal? The knickers-soaked kind that made her want to climb a man—this man—and ride his dick just for the pure pleasure of it? Nah. Never.
This had to be a fluke. Perhaps because Anuli had kissed her earlier, and her body was already primed.
Peter gripped her with one arm around her stomach and the other holding onto her left hip.
“You’re a naughty girl,” he said in a gruff voice. The warm air from his breath fanned the column of her neck, making it more sensitive. She wished he would place his lips there, but he didn’t.
“What are you going to do with me for being bad?” she asked. A warm shiver went down her spine at all the things they could get up to together.
He chuckled, a rich, warm sound that vibrated through her body. “We’ll see.”
She allowed her head to fall back onto his shoulder, one hand on his hip and the other on his arm. This had to be the most intimate dance she’d ever had in public.
Just having him hold her this way without doing anything overtly sexual was making her pussy clench tight over and over again. She could swear she was close to an orgasm.
An orgasm. That would be something to experience, considering no man had ever given her one before.
When she closed her eyes and pictured a head between her legs, tongue swirling around her clit, the chin had stubble grazing her thighs, and the face in her mind was that of Peter’s.
“Uh.” She moaned out loud. She was in trouble and at risk of embarrassing herself out here. Perhaps it was time to seal this deal.
“Can we get out of here?” she asked as she turned to face him.
He didn’t say anything, his face a mask of intensity. What was he thinking? Would he walk away?
The ache in her chest caught her unawares. She shouldn’t care. He was one man in a sea of plenty. She steeled her mind, ready for his rejection.
Instead, he nodded. “Come with me.”
He took her hand, leading her off the dance floor towards the exit. Her heart raced, drumming in her chest. She glanced around the space to find Anuli and eventually found her chatting with a guy at the bar.
Tessa smiled to herself. She would send her friend a message to say she’d left.
Outside, fresh air cooled her hot skin, and she breathed easy. The night temperature had dropped a few degrees, and a slight sea breeze whipped the green and white flag on the building across the road.
During the day, the road was chaotic, with rivers of traffic and bustling pedestrians. Now, close to midnight, according to the phone she pulled from her purse, human and vehicular traffics reduced down to trickles.
Instead of going to one of the cars in the parking lot, Peter strode across the tarmac, along the pavement and towards the brightly lit building next door.
Heart racing and palms sweaty, she stopped walking. “Are you staying here?”
This was a high-end hotel. People like her weren’t permitted to stay, never mind that she couldn’t afford their room rates.
Halting, he glanced at her, and something flickered in his eyes that she couldn’t understand. Perhaps it was just the play of the light and shadow in the courtyard. “Yes, this is my residence for a few days.”
He could certainly afford to pay for the hotel with the sure way he carried himself and the fancy outfit he wore. It wasn’t her expense to worry about, anyway.
Still, she didn’t move as her muscles tensed. She bit her bottom lip and sucked in a gulp of air.
“Did you want me for the night or just a few hours?” She preferred to agree on the deal before she went with the client, so there wasn’t any confusion about the fees later.
He scrubbed a hand over his face, frowning. “Let’s see how it goes.”
“Okay. It’s just that the cost is ten thousand for the night. And I’ve got to send a message to my friend to tell her where I’ve gone.”
His body went rigid, and he pulled his hand away from hers. “What? Ten thousand?”
“Yes, that’s for the whole night, but if you’d prefer an hourly rate...” She trailed off.
His mouth slackened, his eyes blinking rapidly. He seemed lost for words. She wondered if he was one of those miserly types. His clothes cost more than fifty times the amount.
“You’re...” He scrubbed a hand on his head again. “A call girl?”
She flinched at the accusation in his voice. “Didn’t you know?”
“Of course not!” He stared at her, but it was as if he didn’t see her. Looking down, he shook his head before turning and walking away without looking back.
Shit. Her lungs constricted, making it hard to breathe.
About Worthy (Challenge series #3)
Some secrets bind you...
Tessa Obum and her best friend, Anuli, are linked by a dark secret that could destroy them if it ever comes to light. Men are just the means to an end, and society shuns women like her. But she’s determined to live on her terms and own her future. Until an encounter with the intense Peter has her questioning her choices.
Some challenges can break you...
Peter Oranye has never had a challenge he couldn’t conquer. Except for the death that claimed the only woman he loved. He’s been unable to get close to another woman since, and his life is focused on growing his business empire. Until Tessa, a sexy bombshell of a woman, tumbles into him one night, and he’s ready to break his abstinence streak.
Getting involved with a woman who won’t let go of her BFF is wrought with dangers, especially when someone else wants to destroy them. When their secrets come to light, will any of them be worthy of the love they crave?
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