44

The front door shook like a mild earthquake. The tears that had fallen from Margo’s face hours earlier had long since dried, but anger had replaced them. She pulled the belt from around her trench coat and, after slipping out of it, threw it on the nearest chair.

“You’re a cheater and a liar!” she said, throwing her pointed finger in Jefferson’s face.

He held out his hand. “Hold it, Margo. What are you talking about?”

“I saw you, Jefferson. I saw you with that slut, Angelica. Yes, I followed you to the cozy hotel. I guess you figured if you were out in the open, you would blend in.”

“Margo, it wasn’t what you think.”

“Don’t interrupt me!” Margo screamed. “You told me you didn’t love her…that you didn’t want anything to do with her. Made me believe that I was all you wanted. The moment that wench moved onto your radar, you went sniffing and running like a basset hound; you couldn’t resist. You make me sick!”

“So why didn’t you come in and find out what was going on?”

Margo raised her hand and swung it at Jefferson. He grabbed her arm and held it in mid-air. He looked like a trainer giving his student an exercise tip. “You, you…”

“You aren’t a good detective,” Jefferson said, his eyes trained on Margo as he let her arm go. “It’s apparent you didn’t stay long enough to see Angelica’s brother, Edward, come to the hotel as well. Now what do you think happened?”

“Don’t try to play reverse psychology on me, brother. Tell the truth for once,” Margo hissed. “You were in the hotel with her.”

“You’re doing all the accusing. Sounds to me like you’ve gathered all the facts and come to some kind of conclusion that I’m sure is incorrect.”

“Don’t get smart with me, Jefferson. I’m not playing with you.”

“Angelica asked me to review some documents and account information Hamilton had given her for safekeeping. Edward had put them away while Angelica was in prison, and it turns out that Angelica will realize a small fortune. Hamilton had inherited all of his mother’s assets after she died some years ago, and although he and Angelica were divorced, Hamilton trusted Angelica with his finances. He didn’t have a great relationship with the other members of his family. When he was in the hospital before they carted him off to prison, he had Angelica go and retrieve the papers from his house.

“Nothing happened between me and Angelica. She, Edward, and I reviewed the documents and I advised them on what to do. I may not be able to practice, but I still know my money.”

Margo bit her lip and tugged at her dress. She sighed heavily, ingesting what Jefferson had said. She began to sway unconsciously from side to side, tapping each foot on cue. There was no way to know whether Jefferson spoke the truth, but she wanted to believe him.

This bit of news stripped the venom from her heart. She had wanted to be angry because it justified what she had done, running straight away to Malik and crying crocodile tears on his shoulders. Now she felt like a fool because she used what she thought was Jefferson’s deceit to fall into the arms of another man and give up her goodies-her hidden treasure-without a second thought. Maybe she was in love with two men, she admitted to herself-and just gave her puddin’ away. Damn that Jefferson.

“Since you have nothing to say, I’m going to help Angelica finish the funeral arrangements. You can come if you like. It seems it was a good thing Angelica came to town because Hamilton’s family members weren’t interested in him-only his assets.

“Now, sit down. I have something to tell you,” Jefferson continued.

Margo began to hyperventilate. After all of Jefferson’s relating what had gone on with him and Angelica, there was a strong possibility he was going to tell her he had had enough and was leaving. This wasn’t the moment she had visualized. Jefferson had taken her anger and turned it into something else. That pissed Margo off, but this was not the moment that made her realize Jefferson was her heart. Maybe she wanted to make him suffer like she had suffered. Malik was there-a convenience at the moment-but she could never love him the way she loved Jefferson. Margo knew she had not been the wife Jefferson had hoped to come home to, but from this moment on, she was going to do everything to right the wrong.

“What’s going on?” she finally asked.

“Remember when I told you that I believe Santiago may have had something to do with Hamilton’s death?”

“Did you find out who killed Hamilton?”

“No, but to fill you in on Angelica’s whereabouts, she was in New York. And guess who she was living with?”

“Santiago?”

“Not by choice. I’ll fill you in on the whole sordid mess later, but I’m sure and she’s sure that he’ll be looking for her.”

“That’s why you need to separate yourself from her, Jefferson. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

A frown formed on Jefferson’s face. “You don’t mean it, Margo. I know you’re in love with Malik. I feel it every time I’m around you…when I see you. It’s that look of disgust you give me. Oh, it hurts, and maybe I don’t deserve you, but I’m not going to be the one to leave. I meant what I said about loving you for the rest of my life.”

Margo bent her head down and then back up. She was unsuccessful in trying to keep the tears from falling. She went to Jefferson and placed her hands on his shoulders.

“While you may not want to believe what I’m going to say, it’s true. I’ve never stopped loving you. I’ve been a little mixed up. I’m convinced that seeing you again made all the pain that I thought was gone reappear. But at this very moment, I can stand here and tell you that, even with all we’ve been through, you’re the man I love, and I want to be with you forever.”

Jefferson grabbed his wife and held her tight. Tears fled from Jefferson’s eyes as he continued to squeeze Margo. He pulled back, looked at her and whispered, “I love you.” Finally, he kissed her passionately and she responded in kind.

A moment turned into minutes until Jefferson picked Margo up from the floor.

“Let me make love to you,” he said.

Margo hesitated but knew she couldn’t back away now. She felt the eyes of God looking down at her shame. It wasn’t even an hour ago that she was getting out of one man’s bed, and now she contemplated getting into another, even if it was her husband’s. The marquee from Heaven was blaring bright: Sister Margo is a bona fide Ho! She hadn’t given herself to a man in the last five years, yet now, in all of two hours, her credibility and sterling reputation were called into question. Her page in God’s Book of Life was marked with a blemish. But she loved her husband.

“I want all of you,” she replied.

Jefferson kissed her as he brought her to their bedroom. Lust may have followed them, but there was nothing but love in the room. Jefferson helped Margo remove her dress. Margo helped Jefferson unbutton his shirt. When they were completely naked, they held each other, massaging each other’s souls and letting forgiveness roll away, allowing love to take complete residence in their bodies.

They took their time and kissed, turning the heat up a notch as the minutes rolled by. Discovery was a beautiful thing because they both rediscovered the sensual side of what their lives had been and what kept them together all those years. Thirty years was a long time, but their romance was as hot as it ever was.

They took their time, exploring and learning each other’s bodies again-inch by inch. Margo’s groans were music to Jefferson’s ears, and the love and gentleness Jefferson gave to Margo as he took his time with her all but confirmed that Jefferson really did love her.

Passion took them to another level. Although Jefferson took his time, he was like a drunken fool, tasting, cuddling, sucking and kissing every inch of Margo’s body, unable to get enough. Likewise, Margo became the woman Jefferson once knew-the one who knew how to tend and fan the flames of his desires and return the love in ways that would make a man beg the Lord for divine intervention because he couldn’t take much more of what the sister had put on him.

Guilt riddled Margo’s body when she finally lay next to Jefferson, spent from a long-awaited reunion. She wondered if Jefferson had felt as she did at that moment-the moment after he had made love to another woman. Making love to Jefferson was as good as it ever was and hadn’t been hampered by his being in prison the last five years.

Gathering up courage, Margo looked at Jefferson. “I need to share something with you.”

“Shhhh,” Jefferson said, holding his second finger to his lips. “Let’s not spoil the moment. Whatever it is, I forgive you.”

Her courage evaporated as quickly as she had gathered it. For now, she’d let sleeping dogs lie, but somehow secrets always had a way of coming to the light and manifesting themselves. Margo closed her eyes. “Welcome home.”

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