Read Chapter One Part One from Bound to Liberty #ComingSoon
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JAMES COKER had a sure thing.
The notion roused a playful grin on his face as he leaned into the supple black leather sofa of the VIP Lounge and took in the view ahead of him.
Revellers gyrating to the Afro beats music, played by the house DJ, crammed the main floor below.
Always packed, Bold nightclub opened less than a year ago and became one of the most popular party venues in Victoria Island, Lagos. Alcohol flowed constantly. People wore scant clothing—men and women. Even the arctic air blowing from the air-conditioners didn’t stay cold for long as bodies ground against bodies generating heat.
“The place is rocking tonight,” Kezie Nwobodo who sat on the sofa beside James had to raise his voice to be heard above the thumping baseline.
James would admit that party scenes and clubbing got predictable and boring. He didn’t mind being here because Kezie was here. He would happily go wherever Kezie went.
“You can say that again.” James turned his head so he could see his best friend and secret lover of over a decade.
Dim lighting caught the brandy colour of Kezie’s eyes under arched dark brows. For a moment, James drank the sight of the man—strong jaw, oblong face, twisted locs held in a man bun, fitted long-sleeved black shirt hugging broad shoulders and chest, and long legs in charcoal trousers extending to feet covered in black and white leather sneakers.
When a smile curled his lips, and Kezie brushed his fingers along James’s bare arm, tingles sizzled down his spine. His heart rate thumped along with the beats of the music.
This, right here, was the reason James had a sure thing.
Unlike many of the people in the club hoping to score and go home with a partner, James didn’t have to preen and pose to get anyone.
His man was sitting beside him, although not close enough to touch.
Not as close a James would like.
So he didn’t have everything he desired.
Life remained good, no doubt about it.
So he celebrated his blessings.
He’d recently landed a promotion at his brother’s constructions company which was partly the reason he’d come out tonight.
As the new regional Business Development Director for West and North Africa, he was being relied upon to take the business to the next level of expansion as per their long term strategies.
The new job proved to be a massive vote of confidence from his older brother, Henry, who had worked hard to build up the company from scratch and had employed James, first as an intern while he was still in University, and then as a full-time staff upon graduation.
James had always wanted to pay back his sibling in any way he could for the continued love and support Henry had shown him throughout his life.
As such he wanted to be part of the success of Coker Constructions because that was Henry’s dream and he loved his brother enough to make his dreams a reality.
It wasn’t all bad.
While James lived his brother’s dream career, he harboured a personal dream.
Of having a man who would love him and only him for eternity.
The man sitting right next to him had been in his life for fourteen years.
If James could wangle it, they would be together for the rest of their lives.
There’d been years, prior to university and while pursuing his degree programme, when he’d lost touch with Kezie.
Kezie’s parents had sent him and his twin, Gozie, abroad to study.
But they’d reconnected when the twins had returned to Nigeria.
“You’re very quiet tonight,” James said as he leaned to the side so that he could speak in Kezie’s ear.
The loud music meant that long conversations were out anyway. This venue was designed for one purpose—letting all inhibitions loose with the help of booze, boogie, and booty. What else would anyone expect in a place named Bold?
“Just have a few things on my mind.” Kezie waved his hand in the air as if to dismiss James’s curiosity.
James thought of many things he wanted to do with Kezie to distract him from his thoughts. He needed to liven up his evening. Impatience coiled his body.
Low lighting provided pockets of secluded corners allowing for intimacy and stolen moment.
Perhaps he should drag Kezie to a dark corner, and canoodle like Gozie was doing with his dates.
One rule of their relationship forbade any public indications that they were ‘dating.’ This meant that sometimes James had to watch Kezie with his female escorts.
Occasionally James, Kezie, and Gozie went out on triple dates, each paired with a woman. However, James had never allowed his female companions to think there would be anything more than just platonic.
Now James leaned close to Kezie, inhaling the spicy scent of his cologne as well as the musk of his skin. His pulse raced as he brushed lips against Kezie’s ear on purpose.
“Anything you want to tell me?” James made sure his hot breath whispered against the other man’s skin.
Kezie gasped and jerked his head back, his eyes wide and gleaming. “What do you think you’re doing?”
James smirked. “Just doing what everyone else is doing. Having fun.”
“We can’t, and you know it. We’re in public.” The desire in Kezie’s eyes softened his harsh words.
This constant restraint placed on him mainly by the society and partly by his lover to hide who he loved in public proved to be a source of frustration at times.
Some of the dancers were in positions that bordered on pornographic.
Yet he couldn’t even steal a simple kiss with the man he’d been in a relationship with for almost half his life.
James shrugged, trying to hide his growing irritation. “No one is even looking in this direction. Gozie is busy with his women, and we’re in a dark corner.”
Kezie shook his head, still not relenting. “We’ll do whatever you want when we get back to mine.” His eyes sparkled with sensual promise.
James had to accept his words. Puffing out the mild irritation, he raised his hand, called the waiter and ordered more drinks. He might as well sink himself into the booze because he wouldn’t be getting much out of Kezie until they were on their own.
Minutes later, the male server in an all black outfit returned. The man carried a shiny tray and decanted the cocktails onto the low dark wooden table.
“Thank you.” James accepted the copper mug of Moscow Mule.
One of the things he loved about this nightclub was that the bartenders had finesse and flare he hadn’t encountered in any other Lagos bars.
He took a sip of the crisp and refreshing drink and sighed with pleasure as he relaxed again. Nowhere else served him the perfect blend of sweet and tang, except when he made the cocktail at home.
Close to the chest-high railing designed to blend with the rest of the venue, Gozie ground up hip-to-hip between two girls in mini-skirts, halter tops, and stilettos. With so much bare-skin on display, very little stayed in the imagination. They seemed to be providing their own sensual show to anyone interested in watching.
On spotting the new drinks arrival, Gozie detached himself and sauntered over to the table.
“You’re so shameless,” Kezie said in jest to his brother, a smirk curling his lips. “Are you actually going home with both of them?”
James suppressed laughter and swallowed another gulp of Moscow Mule.
The Nwobodo twins were heartthrobs. Babe magnets. Party animals.
Unlike his brother who still changed women like underwear, Kezie had calmed down somewhat.
Gozie chuckled as he leaned over the table to grab the drinks. “You know I’ll share them with you, Kez.”
This close together, the similarities between the brothers lay stark. They had exactly the same facial features, body build, and height and wore their hair in similar locs. Today, people could differentiate them using their clothing. Gozie wore a grey shirt while Kezie was in black.
But James knew there were other distinguishing marks buried under the clothing, marks only a lover would notice. Like a scar on Kezie’s back that he’d gotten after he injured himself slipping off a metal bunk bed in school.
“Nah,” Kezie replied with a shake of his head. “I’m not in the mood for that tonight.”
“I guess you’re off-the-market these days,” Gozie spoke and turned his head, winking at James. “You’re almost becoming a monk like James.”
James, who had just taken a sip of his drink, spluttered vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice onto his hand and clothes. He reached for one of the paper serviettes on the table and dabbed his shirt and trousers.
“What? I’m not a monk!” James protested. He wasn’t celibate unless he counted the almost-seven days since he’d had sex.
“Really?” Gozie asked, one brow rose in challenge. “When was the last time you fucked a woman?”
James opened his mouth and closed it. He glanced at Kezie who just stared at him with twinkling eyes as if to say “He has you there.”
He was tempted to say, “I may not have fucked a woman, but I’m certainly going to fuck a man tonight.”
Instead, he shook his head and stood up. “My sex life is not up for discussion. I’m going to the bathroom to clean this mess.”
He waved his hand up and down to indicate the spillage on his clothes which was barely there. But he needed a reason to escape.
It was almost as if Gozie knew something, knew that James and Kezie were lovers.
As much as James was averse to outing himself as gay, Kezie was worse. His aversion bordered on paranoia sometimes.
To James’s knowledge, Kezie hadn’t told his twin about the depth of his relationship with James. As far as anyone knew, they were the best of friends. Period.
Then again, considering their history, Gozie had to suspect, surely, even if he never openly questioned his brother.
In a country where being gay was outlawed, where gay marriages and LGBT associations were banned, it was little surprise that the gay men in Nigeria lived in the closet.
This was the reason he could sit next to his lover in a nightclub and not steal a kiss while every other hetero couple slid over each other.
On rare occasions, they attended underground gay clubs or private parties. Still...
To be continued...
Copyright 2018 Kai Tyler / Kiru Taye
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