candlelight: refers to lighting that is provided by candlelight, to provide a warm hue or tone, and connote intimacy, romance, and harmony
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Tallulah ruffled her voluminous curls, simulating an air of allure and confidence in her mirror. Her effort, however, shattered within seconds as she realized how silly she looked. She shrugged on her clutch’s gold chain-strap and strutted out her bathroom. She ventured across the glass mansion’s vastness and up the stairs.
She slowed her pace as she approached Milo’s ajar bedroom door. She peeked through the opened slither to witness Nick assist their son with mathematics homework. Except Milo seemed to be the one coaching him through it.
“15 ninths is an improper fraction,” Nick stated, a confused frown carving his handsome bearded face as he examined the math problem. “The numerator is larger than the denominator. That’s how I learned it.”
“It’s not called improper anymore, Dad. It’s called a fraction greater than one,” Milo explained.
Nick donned a mildly annoyed expression. “That doesn’t sound very catchy.”
“Fifteen-ninths is another proper way of saying 1 whole and 6 ninths.” Milo patted his father’s back sympathetically. “I know it’s a lot to process, but we’ll make it through this.”
Staying hidden, Tallulah swallowed back a giggle. Her heart warmed as Milo showed a puzzled Nick the 21st century way of converting ‘fractions greater than one’ to mixed numbers. A doorbell echoed throughout the homestead, marking the little homework session’s conclusion and the arrival of Ester, tonight’s babysitter.
Tallulah, finally, widened the door, prompting Nick and Milo to look over her. A scarlet-red off-shoulder ruffle-neckline bodycon dress embraced her curves. Peep-toe Louboutins adored her feet. A creamy red stained her lips.
“You look beautiful, Mom.” A proud excitement brightened Milo’s face. On the other hand, Nick’s mood darkened.
“Thanks, kiddo. Ester’s here. If you finish up your homework in twenty minutes, you might able to fit in an hour of video games before bedtime.” Tallulah crossed her arms, winking playfully.
Milo’s eyes grew at the prospect and he immediately dove back into his homework, his pencil writing furiously. Nick gracefully accepted his son’s abandonment and smoothed a fatherly hand over the boy’s light ash-brown hair. The gesture induced a happy glance and a loving smile from Milo before he returned his hectic attention to his schoolwork. Tallulah retreated into the hallway and Nick followed her out, returning Milo’s door to its previous ajar state.
She proceeded to the task of letting their trusty babysitter in. After a brief exchange, Nick escorted her to a chauffeured luxury car he booked for their outing. Before the chauffeur drove out the Bryant estate’s electric gates, Nick curled an arm around her waist and ushered her onto his lap.
He stroked her thigh, provoking goosebumps. “I think you want me to misbehave and sin tonight.”
“I’m offended by that accusation, Mr. Bryant,” she replied in mock injury. “I believe you’re capable of being an angel.”
“How can I be an angel when you’re dressed like a she-devil?” he countered.
“If I’m a she-devil then where’s my horns?” she asked teasingly.
He smirked as his palm slid higher up her thigh and caressed the side profile of her ass. “I ain’t interested in horns. I wanna know where your tail is.”
She giggled as she rested her hand on his and steered it back down her thigh, depositing it on her knee. “Down, boy.”
Nick laid a kiss on her red-painted lips then uttered throatily, “Woof, woof.”
Last Thanksgiving, she and Milo ate turkey-and-gravy microwave dinners and binged on cartoons. A week ago, they celebrated the holiday in Kauai, sun-napping, sandcastle-building, ocean-splashing, and stargazing. Time away from The Golden State further solidified their budding familial bonds. Time away also gave Tallulah the opportunity to explore her feelings for Nick. At Dmitri Chernov’s photoshoot, she recognized she was falling for him again.
Yet an insecure piece of her kept her from submitting entirely to love. Paparazzi, biased media, and a worldwide army of fans fueled her hesitancy. How many women would kill to sit in Nick Bryant’s lap at this moment? To have Nick Bryant as their child’s father?
She was living the dream.
“I’m right here, Desiree.” Nick captured her chin softly, drawing her out of her troubled thoughts. “Don’t leave me behind and get lost in your head.”
“You’ve got me in your lap, Nicholas. I can’t stray too far.” The genuine seductress she wanted to be tonight dissolved in a vat of guilt, but she mustered up a believable smile. Like the saying goes: Fake it until you make it. It was the number one rule of survival in Hollywood.
Even this ‘marriage’ was fake.
He regarded her momentarily before he kissed her, exhibiting his true feelings. Her eyelids fluttered shut and she surrendered to him, matching his tender tempo note for note. Reality disintegrated, their united passion enveloping them. Her thumb caressing his cheek’s masculine curve as they robbed each other of breath and thought. The chauffeured car hit a mild pothole, the jilt thereby transporting Tallulah back to reality. Nick, however, was still ensnared by their make-out session, dialing the intensity from affectionate to ardent.
She broke away, a breathy nervous laugh slipping out of her. The sheer power of a top-notch matte lipstick anchored the bold red hue to her lips and nowhere near his. She still, however, erased an invisible smear off his mouth with a swipe of her thumb to break any awkwardness she created.
His teeth gently caught the digit and he gave it a nice suck. A heated thrill rattled her senses.
“What’s gotten into you tonight?” she asked teasingly as he freed her thumb.
“There ain’t nothin’ wrong in a man lovin’ his woman,” he replied.
Tallulah immediately recognized his clever scheme to shower her with affection on the car ride to the restaurant in preparation for a night of public displays of his loving. After getting back together, their outings consisted of hand-holdings and quick pecks. His PG-rated public acts of endearment was a perfect example of his restraint. She appreciated him for dialing it down.
At home, Nick unleashed all his pent-up passion on her.
“You aren’t going to keep your hands to yourself tonight, are you?” she asked.
“Not a chance in hell, baby,” he stated, a devious grin carving across his lips.
Tallulah rolled her eyes. “I shouldn’t have worn this dress.”
“It ain’t about the dress. It’s you. The dress is just a candy wrapper I gotta get rid of to get to the gourmet chocolate,” he said.
She burst out laughing. “You hate chocolate.”
“And yet I eat you up any chance I get,” he breathed in her ear, prompting her laughter to cease and her heartbeat to flutter frantically inside her ribcage. He capitalized on the moment and kissed her sensitive earlobe, stealing her breath away. Tallulah then recognized she didn’t fear what else he’d steal from her by the night’s end. Instead, she worried all that she’d give to him willingly under the public’s judgmental gaze.
Intimate seemed like an odd name for a food establishment. However, if you managed to squeeze your name on the mile-long reservation list, you’d discover the four-Michelin-star restaurant’s name was more than fitting. The dim candlelit atmosphere ensured anonymity and privacy. The curtained private booths ensured intimacy.
Tallulah slipped into their reserved booth’s right side, blinking her surprise as Nick slid in right after her thereby caging her in. Their server undid the curtain ropes, enabling a red velvet shield. She cracked open a leather-bound menu and examined her options as he settled his arm onto her shoulder and leaned in to do the same.
His proximity disrupted her ability to read.
She shook her head, smiling. “You have your own menu, you know.”
“Sharing is caring, Desiree,” he said.
When it came to restaurants she’d never been to before, she had a one-step method for deciding what to eat.
1. Look at the price.
Once upon a time, she believed twenty bucks for an entrée was the definition of splurging. Nowadays, she had to add height to those monetary limits, but even then, she didn’t feel comfortable throwing cash left and right just because it was at her fingertips. Yes, living in luxury had its perks, but she wasn’t going to let it change her—or Milo.
Though she was no longer a penny-pincher, she was still sensible.
Tallulah steered her eyes to him when he uttered her first name.
“Don’t worry about the prices. Let me spoil you,” he said. Even after years apart, she hated how attuned he was to her, always intercepting her thought frequencies. Maybe, it was because she was fundamentally still his Desiree that he married nine years ago.
She sighed gently. “I’m trying to.”
In the end, she settled for a seventy-dollar salad and he decided on rosemary lamb chops. Once the curtains rippled back into the place after the server’s departure, Tallulah reached for her flute of chilled water to give herself something to do. As she sipped, she drunk in the private booth’s gorgeous décor. A miniature chandelier over the table to cast a soft amber light. A genuine painting of a classy 1930s couple on a moonlit grand balcony decorated the wall. Her mind wandered to the San Diego steakhouse she and Nick worked.
She remembered how pictures of famous paintings graced the walls to inspire and stir a sense of self-importance to its middle-class patrons as they indulged themselves on fifty-dollar steak and thirty-dollar wine. She remembered how poorly she was treated and tipped compared to her slender white coworkers. A universal theme which followed her everywhere like a bad omen. It didn’t matter if she was a steakhouse waitress, an actress, or an A-lister’s baby mama, the world relished in mistreating an overweight black woman.
But she supposed it was fate.
If a drunk customer hadn’t berated her, Nick wouldn’t have comforted her in the alleyway. Back then, she hadn’t paid him any mind. It was acting school, work, and her troupe. He, on the other hand, was the resident jokester, wielding his southern charm to lighten up the mood. He teased, played around, and flirted. His easy-going philosophy on life didn’t appeal to her, so she didn’t feed into it.
After her shift was over, he found her sobbing on a stack of wooden crates by a smelly dumpster. He lessened her pain through his humor—made her smile through her tears. Even though they’d work together for a year, that night opened her eyes wide, forcing her to notice him in a different light. The next night he asked her out. Within a year, they were married and stayed so for two more. And through the ocean of time that’d passed between them, destiny brought them back together.
Looking back at their past made her look back to him with a renewed focus softened by time-tested love.
She tilted her head to the side. “Do you remember our first date?”
“Of course. I took you to Dulce. It was a Saturday. You wore a flowy blue skirt, a shirt of The Wiz film poster, gold Converses, and a red poppy headband. I couldn’t keep my eyes off your lips,” he said, trailing his gaze down to her mouth. “They were a rich red and plump, and every time you smiled or laughed when you talked about actin’, I wanted to kiss all that lipstick off your face. You let me take you home and you branded my cheek with a sweet kiss. I wore it like a badge for the rest of the day around my apartment. My roommates ribbed the fuck out of me for it, but I didn’t care. I was hooked.”
“After one date?” she giggled.
“Desiree, I’d been tryin’ to get your attention, but you never noticed. You’d post flyers for your troupe’s performances in the breakroom and I’d go if any of ‘em lined up with my days off. And if they didn’t, I’d switch a shift with someone, so I could,” he admitted. “My plan had been for you to look into the crowd and notice me, but that didn’t work either.”
Her jaw dropped. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“No need. I knew sooner or later you’d need someone and I’d be that someone,” he said. “I just bided my time.”
“You seemed very confident I’d be single and willing,” she said.
“I knew you would. You were meant for me and you still are.” Nick bent his head to press a kiss onto her forehead and her eyelids slid shut to savor the moment.
As the velvet curtains parted with the arrival of their dishes, he kept going as he laid an unhurried trail of pecks down her nose’s bridge. Impatiently, she took his lips, garnering a rumbly chuckle from him. Her stomach’s protesting grumbles interrupted them, which they reacted by laughing.
“With all these kisses, I thought I kept you well-fed,” Nick stated as he cut into one of his glazed lamb chops and sawed off a piece, wanting to feed it to her.
She accepted the offering, giggling in between her chewing.
“That was fucking wonderful,” Tallulah sighed contently, laying her head onto Nick’s lap as their chauffeur carted them down Beverly Hills. She relished in him stroking a path along the curvy ridge of her waist, hip, and thigh. Behind closed eyelids, memory of their first date swirled in her mind. Her tastebuds tingled for a cold dessert.
She admitted tiredly, “Ice cream sounds nice.”
“I was hoping we’d have dessert at home.”
Tallulah lolled her head to peer up at him. “I think our definitions of dessert vary greatly.”
Nick smirked. “Doubtful. It’s universally acknowledged that chocolate is a dessert.”
“Yeah, except I want to eat my dessert. You want to screw yours,” she noted.
He glided a calloused thumb across her lower lip. “Can’t we both have our cakes and eat it too?”
She answered instead by drawing his digit into her mouth, lightly twirling her tongue around it. A dark heat clouded his intense blue eyes. He instructed Wilbur, their chauffeur, to drive them to Creamy Dreamy on Wilshire Boulevard. Many minds thought alike on that Thursday night as the couple entered the shop.
Nick’s presence electrified the atmosphere, amassing reactions of shock. Camera phones snapped photos and recorded videos blatantly and shamelessly. Hushed excited chatter swirled around them. The queue moved up at a steady pace until it was Tallulah’s turn at the counter.
“Um, I’ll take the Apple Pie Cream Dream,” she ordered.
A blonde freckled employee stood there utterly dumbfounded; her stretched eyes completely latched onto Nick’s face. Finally, she snapped out of her stupor and presented a nervous smile.
“Yes, absolutely. Coming right up, ma’am.” Her jittery hands massaged together the ingredients on a countertop with utensils. She offered up the cup of ice cream to Tallulah and immediately directed her attention to Nick.
“Is there anything I can get you, sir?”
“No thanks, my dessert’s at home,” he stated, the shop employee hanging on his every word. Tallulah fought the urge to elbow his ribs. He paid for her icy treat and landed his hand on the small of her back, navigating her to the exit. Witnesses might conclude he was eager to leave due to the garnered unwanted attention, but Tallulah knew he could care less about that. Nick desired to get home and get her into bed as quickly as possible.
However, she wasn’t ready to go home yet. Oh, no. She wanted to milk this moment for all it was worth before she offered up her cookie to him. She casted him a deceptively sweet smile as she steered off his intended course and sat down at an available table.
She used her spare hand to pat the empty chair beside her. “Sit down, Nicholas. What’s the rush?”
She fed herself a spoonful as she batted her eyelashes. He rubbed his tongue across his canine tooth, impatience flaring in his eyes. He obliged her and claimed the seat, leaning over to issue a low warning into her ear.
“When we get home, you won’t be able to sit down for week, Desiree.”
“When we get home,” she reiterated nicely. “Until then, you’re on my time, buddy.”
Tallulah made a point to savor her next helping of ice cream slowly.
“Gimme some then. I need something sweet to tie me over,” he said.
To appease him, she reluctantly gave him a spoonful of her dessert. “Satisfied?”
“Now, I am,” he said around the spoon still in his mouth as he plucked the cup out her grasp and helped himself to another taste.
“Ass,” she laughed as she crumpled a napkin and threw it at his head, not caring others recorded the incident on their phones.
He retrieved the balled up napkin and dabbed his lips’ corners. “Just what I needed. Thanks, baby.”
Unable to stop smiling, Tallulah crossed her arms and wagged her head at his audacity. Nick presented an olive branch in the form of her stolen spoon and another dose of apple pie ice cream.
They shared looks of playful affection as she ate what was hers.
After relieving Ester of her duties and bidding her good night, Tallulah strutted to her bedroom with Nick at her heels. Before she could open the door, he hemmed her against it, roughly pushing her hair aside to give his dessert a love bite on the neck. She arched against him and fell her head back against his shoulder as he fondled her left breast hungrily, giving her a taste of his passionate aggression.
“You ready for the last course of the night, baby?” he growled in her ear.
She nodded eagerly, desire buzzing through her like an electrical current. Upon entering her room, all fervor evaporated as they found Milo slumbering peacefully in her bed’s center. The two went to their respective sides of the bed. She plucked off her heels. He shrugged off his dinner jacket, removed his belt and oxfords, and untucked his shirt. After they settled into bed, Milo unconsciously bowled into Nick, nuzzling his young cheek against his father’s chest.
Unable to take their eyes off each other, the two listened to their son’s faint snores until their wills to stay awake winked out like candles.
HOLLYWOOD LAUNDRY EXCLUSIVE
Nick & Tally get sweet on each other on date night!
Our favorite newlyweds hit the town tonight. According to our sources, Nicky flexed his celebrity status muscles and called upon dark forces to snag a reservation at Intimate, one of the hottest restaurants in Beverly Hills. How else was he able to get a spot on a reservation list booked TEN MONTHS in advance? Though it's to be speculated he made the reservation months ago when he and his on-again-off-again-never-again ex Naomi were still an item and he didn't want the reservation to go to waste. I guess we'll never know.
After snuggling up in one of Intimate's ritzy private booths, the married couple stopped in at Creamy Dreamy in Beverly Hills for dessert and playtime. Photos and videos are making rounds on social media. We've handpicked the most delicious ones for you. Eat your hearts out, Nickomi fans!
It seems the Bryants are in bliss, but how long before this honeymoon phase comes crashing down?
Ben-Dover: i don't think Nick fakin' it, ya'll. dead-ass he look happy af. his baby mama could still lose some lbs tho...
Nickomi4lyfe: This is stockholm syndrome pure and simple. Blink twice if you need help, Nick!
BeyHiveBzz: YASSSSSSSS QUEEN! Show 'em how it's done, Tally.
cheese'n'whine: I can't stan Nick with his baby mama, but that dress fire tho. I ain't gonna lie.
anonymous-83747: That's not love or marriage. That's a friendship.
AaliyahIsAnAngel: @anonymous-83747, ummm, hate to break it to you but you can be friends with your spouse.
naominator: I can only imagine what's Nick's going through trying to keep up this charade.Can you imagine the psychological and emotional damage he must be going through? He's being held hostage. With Naomi, he was free and happy. Tally is fucking sick. Someone needs to teach her a lesson.
MIMIisQUEEN: @naominator, co-signing this.
Naomi4ever: I'm about done wit bias af Hollywood Laundry. You always put down Nickomi stans. If it wasn't for us, this website wouldn't even be that popular. Stop biting the hand that feeds you. Tally is paying you, isn't she?
Wow, this update has been 1/3 written for a while, but I'm so glad I was able to finish it this weekend. It's my goal to update SUGAR DADDY or UNSCRIPTED every weekend. So far, I've updated two weekends in a row! WOOT! I'll admit that since I last updated this story in November, I didn't know where I wanted to go. The good news is I have mapped out the rest of the plot for UNSCRIPTED, so I know how I need to trunk along. It's about to be a wild ride is all I can say.
Thank you for your patience, your feedback, reviews, and support. It means a lot to me.
Because I wrote two updates to SUGAR DADDY in February. I'd like to write 1-2 more updates of UNSCRIPTED in March.