An Ode to Orchids
Meet Dawn, Brook, Cicely and Karen: four cousins raised under the Southern sun. Their grandmother called them orchids and taught them to be independent, intelligent, chaste and courageous. So why does Dawn depend on a drug dealer? Why can’t Brook see that her husband is cheating on her? Why is Cicely so promiscuous? Why is Karen so afraid of rejection? But most importantly, why does Cicely hate Karen enough to want her DEAD?
“An Ode for Orchids” is the story of four beautiful young women who want to love and be loved. But will their love outlive the lies and abuse? Is their love strong enough to survive the hatred?
Excerpts from An Ode for Orchids
Cicely lived there as she rested next to Vincent Mann on sweat-dampened Egyptian cotton sheets.
She felt that way as Vincent Mann sexed her with animalistic passion.
Cicely’s promiscuity and pilfering of seeds that rightly belonged to Vincent Mann’s wife earned her that moniker. The theft was no accidental occurrence. She gave Vincent Mann the best of her loving because she wanted to own every ounce of him.
Cicely wore that name. She earned that name.
After collecting himself and gathering his strength, Vincent Mann sat up at the edge of the bed. He glanced back at his harlot, the woman that sexed him crazy. He sighed.
“You’re too much, Cicely Shaw. Too much for a man like me.”
“You bring it out of me. When I’m with you, I have no inhibitions. It’s like I become your personal porn star or something.”
Her lover found the strength necessary to pour a glass of wine. He motioned to Cicely to see if she would join him in the nectar of Dionysus. She declined even though it wasn’t her desire to do so. She very much wanted to sip a few glasses, let the buzz fill her head and make her more receptive for round three. But instinct had taken over. She had to make wiser decisions.
“He couldn’t possibly stay with his wife much longer,” Cicely whispered to herself as she closed her eyes. “Especially not now.”
Vincent Mann, fighting wobbly legs, returned to the bed puffing on a Cuban cigar. The stench from the cigar tickled and annoyed Cicely’s nostrils. She opened her eyes; her instinct kicking in immediately. She faked a cough and placed her hands over her mouth.
“What? The smoke bothering you?” He looked back at her. His tone implied that it shouldn’t bother her because it never bothered her before.
She sighed and pulled her locks to the side, tucking her hair behind her ear.
“Well, I was going to wait until dinner at The Zebra tomorrow evening, when the ambience would be perfect for my news. But I’ll tell you now.” She lifted herself so that she sat right behind her lover, her skin sticking to his. Then she whispered into his ear, “I’m pregnant.”
Vincent was frozen. “What?”
Cicely’s smile was wide. She knew that the news would stun him, bring him joy like never before, especially since his wife was going through menopause. Cicely was going to give him as many babies as he wanted. She was going to fill their mansion with love and laughter.
“We’re having a baby. A baby! Vincent?”
“We can’t have a baby,” he said bluntly.
His words stopped Cicely’s euphoria in its tracks.
“We cannot have a baby.”
He spoke to her calmly, without turning to face her. He took another long pull of his cigar and then littered the dimly lit room with gray plumes of smoke.
“Why not?” she asked softly. When he didn’t reply, she sat back, resting on her knees, her palms on her thighs. “We’re lovers. I love you. Why can’t we have a child? That’s what lovers do.”
Vincent took a sip of wine and then another long drag of his cigar. He turned to face Cicely, his face enfolded in a thick fog of cigar smoke.
“I’m married,” he said. “We cannot start a family until I have properly broken ties with my wife. You know that.”
Cicely hung her head and Vincent immediately placed his finger on her chin to bring her eyes back to his.
“Soon I’ll get a divorce and we can get married and start our own family. It is essential that we do things properly.”
Lifting himself from the bed and gradually finding his balance, he stood in front of Cicely. His eyes seemed to glow with a blood red aura as they peered through the smoke.
He said, “You have to take care of it, okay?” Then he walked to the bathroom and closed the door behind him.
Cicely died inside. She held her stomach and sobbed softly because of the emotionless manner in which Vincent dismissed her pregnancy. She desperately wanted to have a baby girl.
She thought she would make a good mommy. She would do things a lot differently than her mother did. She’d talk with her daughter about boys, giggle with her as her baby girl confessed her gigantic crush on the most popular boy in her class. She would also be there when that popular boy broke her daughter’s heart. She would be there, period.
Then Cicely thought about her busy schedule. She was a division leader, managing various projects and multiple budgets. She could not be the type of mother she wanted to be, not until she married Vincent. He was right. She had to take care of it.
As the sun started easing below the horizon, Maxwell and Tamara decided to take a walk down the beach, leaving Karen and William alone.
“William, I expect you to be on your best behavior while we’re gone,” Tamara said with a wink.
“I’ll be a perfect gentleman,” he replied.
As soon as they left, William asked Karen, “Do you want to go upstairs to my place?”
She tilted her head to the side and smiled. “I thought you said you were going to be a perfect gentleman.”
“Oh and I will.”
Karen thought about it for a few seconds and then she replied, “Okay, sure.”
As they walked up the steps to his apartment, William spied Karen’s backside. He really liked what he saw. Her beautiful face, her stunning body. But he had to admit that there was something else there, way beyond things physical. Maxwell told him to ignore it. But it was still there.
“This is my place,” William said as he opened the door for Karen.
“Okay, okay, I hear you. This is really nice.” She marveled at his décor. “I love the open space. Your place isn’t like Maxwell’s at all.”
“No. The previous owners of this unit made some serious upgrades.”
She admired the African statuettes as well as the life size mahogany framed poster of John Coltrane.
“What do you know about Giant Steps?” She rubbed her fingers over the elegant frame and looked at the late great tenor sax man in his element.
“Aw, that’s my favorite jazz record right there.”
“This portrait is autographed,” Karen noticed.
“Yes. My dad got that when he and my mom were overseas visiting some friends. My parents travelled a lot. They have college friends all over the place: Peru, Europe, Japan, all over the U.S. Sometimes they’d take me and my brothers along when they visited their friends. So I’ve literally been around the world.”
Karen toured the rest of the living room, admiring the tan Berber carpet and the suede couch and loveseat with oil-finished oval drum end tables. Then she made her way to the kitchen and dining room, complimenting William on his stainless steel appliances and marble counter tops. “Look at me,” she said. “I’m just making myself at home.”
That made William smile.
Then she asked, “I’m not going to find any of your girlfriend’s panties lying around here, am I?”
He laughed. “No, no, no. There are no panties because there is no girlfriend.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
“What about you? Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Nope. I am single.”
“I find that really hard to believe.”
Karen took a seat on one of the Cierra bar stools. “Why is that?” she asked.
“You’re too beautiful to not have a man.”
That made her smile. “Aw shucks. But wouldn’t you know that I get that all of the time.”
William and Karen just looked at each other for a moment, beaming. A part of him wanted to scream, I’m in love with you! I dreamed about you last night!
But instead he asked, “Do you want something to drink?”
“Bottled water’s fine.”
William retrieved two bottles of Dasani from his pantry and handed one to Karen along with a paper towel.
“It must be nice living right on the beach,” she said as she looked out onto the balcony. By then the sky was lit with thousands of stars.
“It has its perks, until a hurricane comes. Um—do you want to go out to the balcony?”
They quietly sat on the balcony, enjoying the night sky and the sounds of the ocean’s waves crashing against the sandy shore.
“I have a balcony in my bedroom, too.” Why did I just say that, William thought.
“Oh yeah? If I lived out here, and I had a balcony in my bedroom, I’d sleep with the door open every night so I can hear the ocean. It’s magical.”
Karen glanced over at William, who caught her looking. She quickly looked away.
“I’m glad that Tamara asked me to come with her tonight. I was really getting tired of her trying to fix me up with guys.” Oh goodness! Why did I just say that, Karen thought.
“Yeah, Tamara’s nice. Maxwell is head over heels for her. And he doesn’t usually do head over heels, believe it or not. He was very nervous before y’all showed up.”
“Nervous isn’t always bad. Sometime nervous is a good thing.”
“What’s so funny?”
“Nothing in woman-speak means something.”
He gave a shy smile and said, “Never mind.”
“What? Don’t be scared. Tell me what woman-speak means.”
He turned to face her. She gave him her full attention.
“Woman-speak is when you say one thing but mean another.”
“Oh boy, I’m in trouble now.”
“You’re not in trouble.” She brushed her hand against his arm. “Continue.”
“Like when something’s on a woman’s mind and her man asks, ‘What’s wrong?’ And she says ‘Nothing.’ But in reality something is really wrong. And her man has to keep on asking her what’s wrong until she finally tells him. Woman-speak. You ladies have your own language.”
“So are you an expert on women?”
“By no stretch. But I have a great appreciation for women. My mother’s a woman.”
Karen chuckled again. “That’s nice. You know, William, I was worried about you earlier. You were all quiet. I didn’t know what was wrong with you.”
“I guess I was just nervous.”
“It’s like I said earlier; sometimes nervous is a good thing.”
They looked at each other briefly, Karen admiring William’s handsome smile, he marveling her beautiful eyes.
Then he asked, “So Tamara is trying to set you up with someone, huh?”
“I cannot believe I told you that.”
“So let’s not disappoint her. We should go out.”
“You mean like on a date?”
“Yes. Dinner, a movie perhaps.”
“You’re a nice enough guy. I guess that will be fine.”
“I am a nice enough guy,” he replied. “And I promise. I will be a perfect gentleman.”
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