Our Marriage of Convenience

Our Marriage of Convenience

The Malik Billionaires: Book Two
(Volume One)

Misbah blinks. ‘Excuse me?’
‘You have been staring at me as if you want to kiss me. Is that what you want?’
‘Reana, where is this coming fro-?’
‘Answer the question, Misbah,

Misbah Malik

The evening harmattan wind carries a lot of dust and chill. The chill penetrates my thin shirt fabric, aiming right for the bones.

Slightly worried that the dust might irritate my eyes, I knock on the heavy metal door more urgently.

The sound of the latch comes through. The door opens wide.

‘Thank God you’re here. I’m starving.’

As always, her familiar scent hits me first, followed by the thought of how lovely she looks. Casually put-together in a long green top, dark jean trousers and a fashionable cap, Reana dimples prettily as she steps back to let me in.

Against her coffee-and-cream skin, her full, unpainted but gleaming lips are curved in a slight smile. Then again, they almost always seem to look that way. I know for sure that she’s excited about something though, by the sparkle in her large, expressive eyes. ‘Sorry I’m late.’

‘And you forgot your key again. If you’ll make me open the door for you every time, you might as well return the key.’ ‘Sorry. You really should learn to check who is at the door before opening it, Ree.

That’s what this peephole is for.’ Reana grins, ‘and that concludes the chastisement portion of tonight’s entertainment, folks.’ ‘I am serious, Ree. This isn’t a safe area.’

In bare feet, Reana’s head reaches up to my shoulder, so she has to tilt up her head slightly to look into my eyes. ‘You worry needlessly.’ As if the discussion is over, Reana turns on her heels. She precedes me down the short, dimly lit corridor to the living room.

The living room always looks cheerful: overwhelmingly so, in fact. There are throw pillows and knickknacks in bright, clashing colors. This place makes me think of a nursery school classroom. As usual, it is in slight disarray. Books are piled high on a bookshelf in the corner of the room. It suits Reana to the ground. Reana never learnt how to use a bookshelf properly. Maybe she simply doesn’t care.

The long, glass-topped table in the center of the room has a pack of Whot cards for our game.

Slipping on something, I catch myself, but only just.

At my slight sound of distress, Reana halts. She walks back to me. With a sheepish smile, she kicks a teddy bear with one ear out of the way. ‘Sorry.’

‘About the door, what if it was someone with nefarious intentions? Would you open the door without checking first?’

‘M, darling, don’t be a bore. Now, as you can see,’ Reana gestures towards the long table. ‘All is set for tonight. We’ll eat first.’

With a sigh, I push my worries aside. ‘You look great tonight.’
She laughs, ‘thank you.’
‘But, there’s something … more. New scarf?’
‘New something. Did you bring food?’
Surprised, I peer into her eyes. ‘Ree, you said you were going to cook.’

‘Aw, I thought you were going to bring the food.’
Ah! I relax. ‘Reana, you know that twinkle in your eye always gives you away.’
Her fake look of horror turns into a mock pout and then soft laughter. Reana returns from the kitchen a moment later with a large tray.
Grape juice! ‘Reana, my one true love, marry me.’
‘And make you grape juice every day for the rest of our lives?’
‘That goes without saying.’

With a fond headshake, Reana serves us Couscous and meat balls.
I take a large gulp of juice and sigh. ‘So, are you going to tell me why you’re in such a good mood tonight?’

Reana giggles. ‘I met someone. He’s handsome. He dresses really nice, like you.’
She puts a meatball in her mouth. ‘He has swag and a nice car. This one has class, unlike that idiot, Garba.’
‘I know, I know.’ Getting my meaning, Reana sighs. ‘I just met him, I know. But he’s really kind, I swear.’ She smiles. ‘His name is Eric. He calls me doll.’
Great! Knowing my job, I nod, ‘happy for you.’
‘Cool. So, I invited him to Femi’s wedding tomorrow, and he said he’ll be there.’
‘Wait, I thought we were going together.’
‘Yes, yes, of course. I invited him along as, like, a second date. I really want you to meet him, M.’

It is quite painful for me to deny Reana anything. It is just about impossible to do so when she aims those large, brown pools right at my soul, just as she’s doing now. Ignoring the funny feeling in my gut, I nod once more and shove a ball into my mouth.

After the meal, Reana brings us mugs of hot cocoa. ‘It is rather late.’ She sits, facing me across the table. ‘Maybe you should stay here tonight.’
‘Are you sure your new boyfriend won’t mind?’ I pick up the cards and shuffle.
Reana dimples. ‘We’re only talking. Eric’s not my boyfriend yet.’
‘Sounds as if you’d like him to be.’ I deal out the cards.

We’ll see. Anyway, we’re a package deal, right? You’re non-negotiable. He should know that from now on.’ She drops a two-plus. ‘Pick two.’ Hiding the pleasure her words give me, I pick two cards from General Market with a grunt.
‘Why did you arrive late anyway?’
‘This and that,’ I hedge.
Reana says nothing, which means she can see what I’m trying to do.



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