The Hook Up Part V (Final)
One year later…
“By the power vested in me, as witnessed by family, friends, and God, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Zion, you may kiss your beautiful bride.”
Zion wasted no time pulling Indya into him and kissing her like he waited his whole life to kiss his wife. In some ways, I guess he did. The wedding ceremony culminated with Zion and Indya descending the stage and being greeted with applause and well wishes.
When Indya told me Zion proposed almost a month after they met, I was floored. But not as floored as I was that she accepted it.
“Don’t you need to get to know him a little more? I mean…what if he’s a serial killer? What about his family? What if they are messy and crazy?” I’d asked her.
But Indya assured me that she knew Zion was the one the second she met him. And he would tell anyone the same thing. Their wedding was proof of that. The entire ceremony was a celebration of love and thankfully I had on waterproof mascara because I cried through most of the ceremony. Their vows to each other, the prayer, the songs, the whole mood was beautiful.
When me and her two cousins that served as her bridesmaids helped her pick out her dress, I loved it on her. But today, with her hair and makeup done, she looked like a princess. The off white ball gown looked amazing on her, but the most amazing thing about her was her smile.
Since meeting Zion, her confidence soared. He supported her, treated her like a Queen, made her laugh, encouraged her and pushed her to do more. Because Zion offered to take care of her financially, Indya finally left her 9-5, enrolled in school and was on her way to becoming a marriage and family therapist. The right person in your life could take you places you never dreamed possible.
At the reception, Zion and Indya’s first dance was to Raheem Devaughn’s "Mo Betta" and the lyrics were so befitting them. As I watched them sway to the music, I teared up a little bit. I was so happy for my friend. Even though my time at the Hook Up was an eye-opener, my friend found the love of her life. I would take my L’s because of how it worked out for her.
This past year has been one of the most freeing yet simultaneously difficult of my life. After six years with Todd and my experience with Nahji, I chilled on dating. And it was hard. I still went out to parties and bars for happy hour, but I never engaged with anyone outside of that. No numbers were exchanged, no sex, nothing. There were times I was lonely and craved companionship and an orgasm from a man, but I was really serious about healing.
At Indya’s insistence, I began seeing a therapist. Initially, I wasn’t convinced I needed therapy, but Sydney was truly a godsend. Most of the time I didn’t even feel like I was in therapy; Sydney talked to me like a friend. A friend with clinical advice that has worked wonders in my life. She helped me to realize I stayed in the relationship with Todd for so long because he was stable. I also realized that I never truly really dealt with my losing my parents. I was so young when they passed away and because Auntie Tess took me in, I thought I was ok. But there were times I missed having parents. I had just turned 30 and I realized there were some life events my parents wouldn’t get to be a part of. My mama wouldn’t be there during my pregnancy and my daddy would never be able to walk me down the aisle. With Sydney’s help, I was beginning to make peace with that.
Sydney and I also talked about Nahji. I agreed with Indya that our timing was just off. But since meeting him, he was the litmus test for other men. I had only known him a few days, but those few days were everything. I just wished I was in a better place to see where things would go. But everything happens for a reason. His IG wasn’t private, so I stalked his page every so often. He only posted pictures related to his business so I really didn't get to see much.
After dinner, the real party began, and I swear I never had so much fun in my life. The DJ was awesome, the drinks were flowing, and my best friend was happy. I was in bliss. I was sitting down watching everyone else do the Bus Stop and wishing I had just a drop of rhythm so I could be out there, too.
“Would you like to dance?”
I heard the voice behind me, and I thought it belonged to Aaron, one of Zion’s groomsmen. He’d been on me since the engagement party and I’ve been turning him down ever since. This weekend, he’s been really trying and for some reason, he just was not catching my hints.
I was prepared to be nice-nasty to him, but the voice didn’t belong to Aaron. It was Nahji.
My heart almost stopped when I saw his smiling face and his hand extended out to me. I had so many questions, but I didn’t ask any of them. Instead, I just took his hand and let him lead me to the dance floor where the DJ slowed it down. Nahji wrapped his arms around me as we swayed to “The Point of it All” by Anthony Hamilton.
For three minutes and fifty seconds, nothing else in this room mattered. We spoke no words and right now, we didn’t need to. This song, this moment and his arms around me was all the conversation I needed.
After the song ended, Nahji lead me outside so we could talk.
“So, how have you been?”
“I’ve been good,” I smiled. “Real good.”
“I see. You’re looking good.”
I blushed at his compliment and returned one of my own. “You don't look so bad yourself. How was Kentucky?”
“It was long and tiring, but worth it. I got a few more jobs lined up because of it. All in Georgia.”
His addendum made me smile. I wasn’t going to assume anything, so I asked him point-blank what he meant.
“This past year was…something. I had been single for a few months before I ventured to the Hook Up. I expected to just hang out, maybe meet someone there that was cool and just get back into the dating scene. I didn’t expect to meet you.”
I nodded my head slowly and he continued. “I liked you. Still do. Even after what happened at that restaurant when you were with ol boy…oh yeah let me apologize for bombarding you like that, I wasn’t thinking clearly.”
I chuckled as I remembered the scene from Odessa’s that day. Todd blew my phone up asking me a million times who Nahji was. I finally had to block him on everything to get some peace. Funny how the man that didn’t want to marry me suddenly became worried about me when he felt he had some competition.
“Anyway…while I was in Kentucky, I thought about you. A lot. I tried dating here and there, met some women but none of them were you. And I know it sounds crazy but those few days with you were some of the best of my life.”
“It doesn’t sound crazy, because I felt the same way. I just wasn’t in a good headspace. My best friend asked me if I was sure I wanted to go and at the time I was. I later realized I may have caused more damage to myself by going.”
Nahji’s eyebrows creased in confusion. “What do you mean?”
We moved to some empty seats outside of the reception area after two women got up. I long ditched my heels, but I was grateful to be able to sit down.
“I mean…I wasn’t ready for you. And no matter who I met or talked to after you, I constantly compared them to you. Because the timing wasn’t right, I felt like I lost my one shot at…something. I’m not quite sure what yet.”
We sat in silence for a few minutes. I wasn’t really sure why he was quiet, but I was just taking in the moment. It had been a year since I’ve seen him, but I’ve thought about him off and on since our time in Florida. It was strange seeing him again, and even more strange that I felt like we were just picking up where we left off. Almost like all this time hadn’t passed.
“So what about now?” Nahji asked breaking our silence. “Is the timing right now?”
I couldn’t help but to smile at his question. But again, I didn’t want to assume. “What do you think? I mean you’re the one with a thriving business that could take you anywhere.”
Nahji stood from his seat and held out his hand. When I placed my hand in his, he pulled me up and into his arms. I barely had time to process what was happening when his lips crashed into mine. His kiss felt like a cold glass of water on a hot summer day. His kiss felt like life, the thing that had been missing for the past year. No scratch that. This is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life.
“Oooooooooo, see Zion! I told you!”
Nahji and I broke our kiss after hearing Indya squeal in delight. We couldn’t help but laugh.
“You were right babe. Looks like inviting him was a good idea,” Zion chuckled.
“Maybe now you will stop moping around here and give this man a chance!” Indya said. I could tell she was tipsy, and she had every right to be. The happiness on her face, the happiness she and Zion exuded was evident.
“Girl, I was not moping. I was healing!” I corrected my friend, embarrassed that she was putting my business on front street.
“Same difference!” Indya shrugged.
“It is not the same thing! I was getting myself together!”
“Yeah for him!”
I threw up my hands in frustration because we'd had this conversation a million times since we came back from the Hook Up. And every time, I tried to shut her down but we both knew he was part of the reason.
“You don’t have to tell me I’m right,” she slurred. “Cause he’s been wanting to reach out to you and you haven’t stopped thinking about him sooo..bam! I hooked it up!”
Zion shook his head and dapped up his former suitemate and Nahji congratulated him on his nuptials. Zion led his semi-drunk bride away to mix and mingle with more people. Once we were alone again, I didn’t waste any time kissing him again.
Once we finally came up for air, I felt like I was intoxicated. His kiss was everything I needed in my life.
“I want you in my life, Marley. I’m not exactly sure how to make that happen, but I just know I can’t spend another day without you,” Nahji informed me.
I let him get away one time and I refused to let that happen again. But the beauty of it was this time, I was emotionally and mentally prepared for him. "Whatever I have to do to make this work, I'll do it."
Nahji pulled me into him and wrapped his hands around me. This simple act let me know the time I spent working on me was worth it. I felt protected in his arms.
“I need you, Marley,” he whispered. “Can we get out of here?”
My duties as maid of honor were technically over and while I should probably stay, I didn’t even think twice about saying yes. Besides, Indya is the one that invited him so if she needed me for anything and I wasn’t here, I would just blame it on her.
Nahji whisked me to his car and about twenty minutes later, we were at his hotel. We talked the entire drive, catching each other up on our lives since leaving Florida. It wasn’t until we were in the elevator going to his fifth-floor room that it dawned on me what was about to happen.
But I didn’t have time to really think about it. As soon as I stepped inside of his room, I was in a place of comfort again. The way he kissed me made my legs weak. Kissing him was sensual. Kissing him was what I’d been missing for a year.
Nahji’s hands roamed my body and his fingers tips felt like they possessed fire. He backed me up so that my back was against his door. His lips left mine and trailed kisses down my neck causing goosebumps to pimple my skin.
“You don’t know how much I’ve missed you,” he admitted in between kisses. If the way his lips felt on my body was any indication of how much he missed me, I understood perfectly.
Nahji stopped kissing me long enough to end up on his knees in front of me. Slowly, he started to raise my dress and again, his fingers blazed a trail on my legs. As he continued to lift up my dress, he planted kisses on my thighs. Once my dress was around my waist, he looked up at me and smiled.
I bit my lip in anticipation of where his lips would kiss next. Nahji kissed me through my panties and I had to stifle a moan. I wasn’t sure if it was because it had been a while since a man was this close to me like this or if it was because it was the man that left a lasting impression on me a year ago. Either way, I held my dress up and spread my legs to give him better access to me.
He continued to tease me, kissing me softly through the lace of my underwear until I started to come undone...I needed this. Bad.
“Nahji, please!” I begged.
“Don’t rush me, baby,” he replied between feathery kisses. “I want to savor this.”
His words were almost as erotic as his kisses. But he really didn’t understand my need. With him so close to me like this, I was desperate to feel him. Finally, after teasing me for a few more moments, he slid my black panties down my legs and licked me tenderly. Almost immediately, my body jerked, and my eyes rolled in the back of my head. “Oh my God…”
My hands were in his locs as he took his time licking and sucking on my pearl. I wanted to close my eyes, but I needed to watch him feast on me.
“God, this is better than I dreamed,” he groaned before licking me with more intensity. The way he sucked, licked and nibbled on me caused my legs to shake. If anyone was walking by his door, they heard my moans, but I really didn’t care. This was like a dream come true. I moved my hips to the rhythm of his tongue and got lost in the sensation of my impending orgasm.
“Nahji…Nahji…Nahji!” I screamed over and over. As if he could tell my body was about to explode, his tongue flicked my bud faster. I stood on my tiptoes as my body reacted to his talented tongue. “OH MY GOD!”
The sweetest release I ever experienced took over my body and it felt like the world around me ceased to exist. In the throes of my orgasm, I let go of my dress and Nahji was covered in the yellow chiffon gown. He stood up and smirked at me. “Let’s get this off of you.”
Mindlessly, I let him turn me around so he could unzip the dress to let me step out of it. The dress lay in a pile on the floor, next to my panties. Nahji unhooked my bra and threw it down with the rest of my clothes. He led me to the bed and beckoned me to sit on the side. He was on his knees again, tasting me.
“Baby…God that feels good! Oh, Nahji! Please don’t stop!” I pleaded.
He had no intention of stopping. He devoured me like a man that missed his woman. He took my clit in his mouth and slid two fingers inside of me, causing me to erupt again. I was stuck between wanting him to stop and needing him to make me lose my mind. By the time he had his fill of me, I came two more times and I was delirious.
Nahji finally stood and peeled off his clothes. Once he stood in front of me naked, I was in awe of him. His body was just as amazing as I remembered. Even though I already had a number of orgasms, I needed to feel him inside of me. I moved to the center of the bed and spread my legs for him. Nahji sheathed himself in a condom and climbed on top of me.
He kissed me, his tongue moving in my mouth much like it did between my legs. Slowly, he inched his way inside of me. I broke our kiss to catch my breath.
Got damn indeed. The way he filled me up was indescribable. It was like my entire body was experiencing him. He gave me a few moments to adjust to him before he started to stroke slowly.
“Nahji…” my voice trailed. I was at a loss for words right now. Since leaving the Hook Up, I’ve thought him more than I cared to admit. I’d even masturbated to fantasies of sleeping with him. But this…this was better than anything that ever played out in my mind.
He paused and hooked my left leg onto his forearm. He sank so deep into me, I whimpered and involuntarily bit his neck. Thinking he hurt me, he pulled back a little.
“No!” I moaned. “All of it! I need all of it!”
He heeded my words and gave me the most delicious combination of pleasure and pain. My hands were in his hair as he moved inside of me like he was an expert in my pleasure.
Just like what happened by his door, he was pushing me to the brink. “Right there, baby! Please, stay right there! Don’t stop!”
Nahji didn’t need me to tell him not to stop. His low growls and moans told me he wouldn’t stop until I released for him again. He sent my body in convulsions, screaming his name as I came.
Nahji sped up his strokes, causing me to hold onto him as he plunged into me. Knowing his release wasn’t too far off, I moved my hips with his, meeting every thrust and every stroke.
“Shit, Marley I’m coming!” Nahji roared as I felt the exquisite throbbing of him inside me. Out of nowhere, another orgasm was ripped from my body.
Slowly, Nahji pulled out of me and rolled onto his back. Our breathing was labored, and my body was still spasming from the pleasure. I curled up next to him and he wrapped his arm around me.
We didn’t need any words. Just being in his arms, surrounded in bliss was a conversation all on its own.
If happiness was a person, Nahji was it.
I never expected to meet anyone that treated me the way he did, and the last six months have been absolutely magical. After Zion and Indya’s wedding, we continued to spend time together. We lived just under two hours apart and the distance really wasn’t a big deal. Weekends with Nahji gave me something to look forward to. Since Indya was living in wedded bliss, I couldn’t impede on her time too much. We still reserved our Sundays for brunch or dinner and drinks and now that things have been progressing with Nahji, we were able to double date the weekends he came to see me.
Today, I was sitting on the beach after Nahji showed up to my house yesterday and told me to pack a bag. This wasn't unusual because sometimes he'd ask what I wanted to do and other times, he told me he made plans for us. I loved the way he was intentional in spending time with me. We made the drive to Destin and I was enamored with the pristine beach and ocean view from our condo. But honestly, I could have been on the side of the road with him and been happy.
“Hey babe, dinner is at 7,” Nahji reminded me.
“I know. I’m just taking in the scene. I want to commit it to memory…I want to paint it.”
“You can’t take pictures?” he asked.
“Yes. But…I want to experience it as well.”
He nodded. “Do I need to push back the reservation?”
I shook my head and smiled. His thoughtfulness was so endearing. “No. I’m about to come in and get ready.”
He kissed me on my forehead and helped me up so we could make the short walk back to our condo. We were staying right on the beach and it was heavenly to wake up this morning to the smell of saltwater and the breathtaking view of the Gulf of Mexico.
Nahji made a reservation at this swanky restaurant not too far from where we were staying. I would have preferred to stay in, order UberEats and make love on the beach, but my man wanted to go out. So I obliged him. It was the least I could do for the last six months he’s given me joy. Plus, this restaurant gave me a reason to wear this jumpsuit I ordered online a few months ago. I really loved the way I looked in this one-shoulder green belted jumpsuit. And judging from Nahji’s reaction, he liked the way I looked in it, too.
We called an Uber and headed to the restaurant. When we arrived, we were told there would be a wait on our table. I was cool because I wasn’t too hungry but Nahji was getting restless.
Almost 30 minutes passed and he was getting more frustrated by the minute. It was just dinner so I really didn't understand why he was so irritated. Finally, the hostess told us it would be another 30 minutes before our table was ready.
“So what was the point of me making the reservation if my table wasn’t going to be ready?” Nahji asked the hostess.
“I’m sorry sir, but another party came in and it was bigger than we expected,” the young lady tried to explain. Her voice was shaky like she was afraid to be the one to deliver the bad news. “It really threw off our scheduling.”
Nahji was not hearing her explanation. “This is unacceptable. I need to speak to your manager.”
After another 15 minutes of waiting, there was still no resolution. I finally convinced him that we should just leave. “We can just go to another restaurant, babe.”
Nahji exhaled, his frustration apparent. “I just wanted to do something nice for you. I’m sorry baby.”
“It’s ok,” I smiled. “I appreciate effort.”
“Ok, let’s just go back to the condo and order room service. Or UberEats.”
Since that’s what I wanted to do in the first place, I had no objections. We made the short drive back to our condo and when I was heading to our bedroom to change, something outside caught my eye. I saw lights and movement on the beach. It wasn’t usual to see people out there, but I wondered what they were doing.
“I ordered some Chinese babe. It will be here in about 30 minutes. I’m sorry again,” Nahji said. He wrapped his arms around me and kissed me. “You want to go out there while we wait?”
I would probably never get tired of being on the beach so I didn't hesitate to agree. “Sure, why not?”
As we made our way to the beach, I noticed there was a small table with two chairs not too far from our condo. All the people I saw from our window were a few feet away in the dark, I couldn’t really see them because their backs were to me, but I heard them talking.
Suddenly, I heard “Change your world” Anthony Hamilton playing from somewhere. I started to back up because I didn’t want to invade someone else’s party, but I thought I heard a familiar voice.
Slowly, four people turned around one at a time, each one holding a card. I was too busy looking at Indya, Zion, Auntie Tess and my cousin/brothers to pay attention to what they were holding. I really didn’t understand why they were here. Then I finally looked at the cards in their hands…
Each one their cards held a single word, and all spelled out, they read WILL YOU MARRY ME?
I've been reading for the past 25 years, but for some reason, I wasn’t putting it all together. Not even when I spun around and saw Nahji down on one knee and holding a ring box. Nothing was making sense.
“Marley, the day I met you, I knew there was something special about you. I knew that you were someone I wanted to know, to spend time with. Things didn’t go the way I planned, and I thought I lost you forever. Thanks to some luck and good friends, I found my way back to you. And I never plan on letting you go. I love you Marley Denise Anthony…will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”
I had no words for him. My tears were clouding my view but somehow I made it to where Nahji was kneeling and almost tackled him to the ground. Behind me, I heard my family and friends laughing at my reaction.
After prying me off him and wiping away my tears, Nahji pulled me up after getting up himself and wiping sand from both of us. “So…is that a yes?”
“Yes,” I smiled. “That is a definite yes.”