This couldn’t be the place. It was so charming!
The Teye twins had directed the newlyweds to an estate that looked as if it had been built in a bygone age and bottled and preserved at its prime. It was adorned with coronated towers. Aquamarine louvers in the windows and parapets hewn from stone were a giveaway for the era in which the house was built. Someone’s son – or sons – had done well for themselves during the colonial era. The house featured a three-car garage, its doors painted blue and weathered by time and a courtyard dotted with concrete flower pots that looked as though they had not hosted a bloom since the days of Nkrumah’s deposing. A shiver ran down Ama’s spine.
“Do you think we have the right place?”
“The sign said ‘Paradise and Comfort Inn’. Let’s go inside,” said Felix, noticing Ama tremble. “Besides, it’s chilly and we could do with a hot meal, at least.”
The sound of their feet crunching on loose gravel roused a slumbering watchman who served as the perfect accessory to the hoary home. His leathery skin and faded shirt clung to each other like long lost cousins. He greeted the approaching couple with a toothless smile.
“Take your bag, sir?”
Felix hesitated. It didn’t seem right to hand over his luggage to someone that could be his grandfather…or his great-grandfather for all he knew.
“Yes…please,” said Ama. She knew how offended the gentleman would be if any attention were drawn to his age or skepticism in his ability to do his job. Old men in particular need to feel important. She made a further effort to appeal to his ego and solicited information from him. “We just got married and are looking for a place to spend our honeymoon night. Is there any vacancy here?”
The elderly guard hefted the suitcase Felix had reluctantly relinquished over his head and led the couple from the drive way and up stately steps that brought them abruptly to entrance of the family-home-turned-inn.
“There is always a room available at the Paradise and Comfort Inn,” he mumbled, “especially for a young married couple.”
A brown skinned woman wearing dark brown cloth with a head tied in a brown silk met them at a massive mahogany counter that served as the reception. She was smiling, but Ama could tell she was not truly happy to see them. Her voice was about as pleasant as steel bars being drug over a rusty grate.
“Welcome to Paradise and Comfort Inn. Will you require a room tonight?”
“And dinner, if some is available,” Ama said, inhaling the scent of something savory. “What is on the stove? It smells divine.”
“Goat soup,” said the watchman. “It’s always goat soup on Saturday nights. Meat’s given to us after the sacri…”
The woman in brown shot him a look, silencing him instantly.
“Thank you, Silas. You’ve discharged your duty. You can return to your post.”
“Very well, Matilda.”
Silas lumbered off, closing the door to behind him with a soft click. Matilda watched his retreat, her eyes clouded with a queer mix of longing and contempt for the old man. Felix and Ama tried to ignore the frosty exchange by focusing their attention on the scripted drama playing on a 13 inch color TV in the foyer. The actress playing a house girl was being beaten for stealing rice. Ama decided it would be less stressful to watch Matilda glare at Silas.
“Right this way, if you please,” Matilda motioned. For the first time, she took true note of Ama and Felix. Ama’s emerald cut diamond sparkled in the gloom of the old walls and Felix was fidgeting with his wedding band, telltale signs that these two were fresh in their nuptials.
“When did you get married?”
“Just yesterday,” said Felix. He went on to explain how their honeymoon plans had taken an unexpected turn with the demise of the Burning Lotus. “We are grateful that you have room available here.”
“Especially since there is a funeral in town,” Ama added.
“Three,” Matilda corrected. “There are three funerals in town. But we certainly are glad to have you here…and to share in your special time with you.”
Matilda smiled, but the grin seemed neither genuine nor warm. Ama was uneasy in the wake of its chill. She inched closer to Felix, his bulk again providing a sense of security. She kept close to her husband as the dusty old woman led the way to their suite. Felix grunted when Matilda flung open a set of double doors at the end of the hall. Ama gasped.
It was palatial.
The rooms were decorated with old world charm, furnished with heavy mahogany surfaces and draped in sumptuous fabrics. An enormous mirror framed in winding gold leaf detail anchored all of the adornments. It was magnificent in its regal simplicity.
“Do you like it?” croaked Matilda.
“We love it!”
The elderly woman barred her teeth and pointed to the right side of the room. “Excellent. There’s the bathroom. Why don’t the two of you wash up and meet Silas and me for dinner downstairs.”
She shuffled away without waiting for a reply, closing the doors behind her. When they were certain they were alone, the couple sprinted towards the enormous bed. Ama ran her fingers along the pink silk duvet and inhaled a delicate fragrance. She tapped Felix, drawing his attention to her discovery.
“Do you smell that? I think its lavender!”
“Lavender, eh? You know that’s what they use to put babies to sleep.”
“Do you think we’ll be getting much sleep tonight?” Ama teased.
Felix grabbed her around the waist and pulled her under him, kissing her passionately.
“I highly doubt that, Mrs. Kwakye…”
She responded to his overtures with a soft moan and melted into his embrace. He was hard, and unrelentingly so. Felix began to make quick work of Ama’s clothing, his movements increasing with desperation with every button he unfastened. When she was completely naked before him, she placed her hand on his chest and stopped his advances. Having made love on several occasions before, Ama knew this man’s stamina had little in the way of limits. He was a machine that could run all night, and she did not want their first encounter as husband and wife to be forced to an abrupt end.
“After dinner,” she groaned softly in his ear. “Then we can take our time.”
Reluctantly, Felix pulled away and shuffled off to the bathroom where, he announced, he would be taking the coldest shower known to man.
“You will pay for making me wait tonight,” he threatened.
“Oh, I plan to…with interest,” Ama giggled.
When a blast of water hit porcelain and Felix began singing P-Square, Ama settled into the luxurious covers and let the silk caress her bare skin, contemplating how fortunate she was in this moment.
Downstairs, Silas skulked into the kitchen where Matilda was stirring a black cauldron filled with soup and meat. The gristly old man was breathless as he addressed her.
“Wife. Wife! Did you hear? They just got married!”
“Keep your voice down,” she hissed. “I know!”
“And it’s been less than three days? You’ve confirmed it?”
Matilda’s tone was patronizing. “Indeed I have, Silas m’dear. Don’t you worry about a thing. It shan’t be long now. This torment will soon be in our past!”
She handed Silas a small pot and a bag of rice and instructed him to make himself useful. She glanced up at the ceiling. The honeymoon suite sat directly above the kitchen. There wasn’t a moment to loose.