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Epilogue: 7 Days - The Aftermath Of Love - Part VIII
New York, Mid June 2009

It’s early afternoon when she unlocks the door and stumbles across three bags and a big brown Louis Vuitton case. There are toys dragged out from Helena’s bedroom scattered all over the floor in the hallway and just around the corner, on top of the kitchen counter there are left overs of KFC and a message from Grace waiting for her.
“P, took the kids out, MJ’s working. Enjoy your quality time! ;-) Call you before we get back. G.”
Placing her purse on one of the chairs she steals a filet bite and smiles bright. It’s the best feeling in the world to come back home after an exhausting day and find a battlefield in her apartment that causes a wild rush of butterflies in her stomach by simply knowing her man and the kids are finally back.
Moving across the living room she finds his jacket on the backrest of the big sofa and right in front of their bedroom she’s greeted by one of his black loafers. She kicks off her high heels and leaves them right there; next to his abandoned shoe.
Carefully cracking the door open and peaking inside, she feels her pulse speeding up, needs to suck in air and bite her lip at the heart-melting sight she finds. There’s a path of his clothes, another shoe, black pants, white socks, a loud patterned Audigier sweater, marking the way to their king size bed. It’s all messed up, comforter on the floor, notes and papers on her side of the mattress; the TV turned up, as if someone’s profoundly deaf, playing cartoons. And in the middle of mayhem she finds Michael dozed off.
His black curls spilling loosely over his tilted face she watches him sleep for a while. Holding on to a notepad in his lap, his chest is rising and falling slowly underneath his white v-neck shirt. And although he is tucked away under the sheets, although she can still feel a slight dampness in the air and smell a hint of shower gel, she knows he’s wearing a pair of his blue pajama bottoms. There’s the door of the big walk-in closet standing ajar, and she can see the mess he caused in there, looking for new underwear.
Tracing her eyes up his body she stares at his slightly parted lips and feels that instant need to climb into bed and kiss him, wrap him into a tight embrace and just feel him sleeping in her arms. She misses him badly; the time they can share together these days is getting scarce. He’s so busy preparing for the upcoming shows; working hard. Too hard. And she’s worried about him. He lost weight those past weeks, looks a lot thinner. He started working on his face again and when she looks closer she can see the evidence on his skin. She reads it in the papers and sees him on TV, coming out of doctor’s offices, hidden behind masks and sunglasses. It is something she learned to accept over the years. Something she never tried to prevent or argue about. She knows his reasons and she never judged him.
Stepping out of her black skirt and unbuttoning her blouse she moves closer, smiles down on him while she slowly undresses.
“Hey Angel” he whispers and stretches his back, makes room for her to climb in next to him.
“Hey Moyo,” she says lowly, kneeling down on the mattress and bends over to kiss his lips softly, “So good to see you, Baby!”
She can feel him smile against her mouth, his hands tracing up her naked arms to pull her closer.
“C’mere.” he sighs and makes her straddle him.
Giggling playfully, she pulls him into a strong, tight embrace, buries her face into his curls and combs her fingers through the thick black strands.
“Oh boy, I missed you so much!” she whispers against his ear, lips tickling his temple as his fingers crawl across her back.
“Hmm, sorry I neglect you, gurl.” he murmurs against her skin, face between her breasts, inhaling her sweet powdery scent.
Closing his eyes he holds her for a while and starts blowing small soft kisses along the cups of her bra.
“That’s my favorite color…” he whispers smirking, knowing she has cocked her head to watch him caress her.
“I came here prepared, knowing what my man needs… but maybe you wanna go back to sleep for a while?” she teases, feeling him growing hard against her warm tingling crotch and starts to grind on him slowly.
“I wanna fuck you…” he breathes softly and makes her heart race like crazy.
It’s the first time he looks straight into her eyes; his big brown chocolate wonders begging her for love, like the eyes of a child on Christmas Eve asking for presents. It makes her gasp and stare at him, makes her go weak in his arms when she watches his eyes blinking, shutting tight before his velvet mouth claims her lips and draws every last breath from her throat with his hungry kiss. He pulls her tight, thrusts his hips carefully against her and makes her feel how hard he is, how painfully he’s aching for her.
“I wanna fuck you so badly!” he whispers again, in-between those deep slow strokes of his hungry tongue.
His kisses like a promise, a testimony of what his body wants to do to her, he unclasps her bra and traces his fingertips up to her shoulders, yanks the fabric off of her so teasingly slow and makes sure it faintly brushes her nipples before he drops it to the floor.
“Gawd, Michael…” she chokes, not able to do anything but hold on to him, bite her lip and lose the fight against her moans when he touches her there.
His big warm hands cupping her breasts, bringing them up to his lips to caress her dark swollen peaks with the swirling tip of his tongue. Somehow she finds the hem of his shirt, manages to pull and yank it up, get him out of it when he raises his arms to help her undress him.
“I need you, Baby! I need to feel you…” she sighs, when he rolls her over and lays her down, when he’s between her legs, and kisses passionately all over her chest.
“What about the kids?” she hears him, his hands travelling south, hooking into her red panties that are obviously stained with her lust for him.
“Grace took them…” she gasps, and spreads her legs wide for him as soon as the small fabric is gone.
“Gee… don’t do this to me, Angel!”
He stares at her swollen center, touches her softly before he lowers his head and kisses her, traces his tongue carefully over her hot aching spot, further down to her opening, licks her cream and a low groan escapes from the back of his throat when he feels her trembling underneath his caresses.
“Baby, please, I… I need all of you.” she whispers, sighing, reaching out to touch him and show him what she wants.
His eyes are like fire when he reluctantly stops eating her, crawls up the length of her beautiful body and comes face to face with her; the scent of her lust lingering on his lips, her juices like sugar icing all over his mouth.
“What do you need, Angel? Tell me…”
Holding his face in her eager hands, she drowns in his eyes, realizes how beautiful he still is, how deeply in love they still are. How he still can make her melt in seconds, lose control and give him whatever he asks for.
“I need to feel you deep inside of me, Baby.” she says and kisses him urgently, makes it clear she doesn’t want soft and slow; wants all of him, inside of her. Locked and united.
So he lets go of her, yanks down his pajama bottoms when he lies down next to her and grabs his huge erection. Makes sure she watches him wrapping his long fingers around himself and jerk it in quick short strokes.
“Turn around, Angel.” he gasps, when he can feel the strong excitement in his loins already turning into that hot pulsating pressure that has him slow down his hand and avoid contact with his swollen tip.
And when he spoons her he just lays still behind her for a short while, traces his hand carefully over her soft warm skin to recover and calm down again. Pecks small kisses across her arm and feel her round butt pressing against his crotch.
“I love you so much, Pru.” he exhales and grabs her leg, rests it on his thigh and sinks into her center slowly, has her moaning out loud and hold on to his hand for dear life.
He can watch her features slipping, a sensual smile gracing her face when he thrusts deep into her for the first time and the sight turns him on, makes him bite his lip and concentrate on what he’s doing. He wants all of her, wants to see her fall apart in his arms, as strong and fast as he can.
He feels so lost without her, so empty and dried out when she’s not with him. When he pretends to be someone he does not want to be anymore. For a moment his thoughts drift off, hurt him, make him wonder why he is doing what he does, why he takes all the shit, why he takes all the risk.
And maybe it’s the exact same moment that makes her realize how thin and bony his body feels on her back, how concerned she is and never really says anything. How much he changed and sometimes even feels like a stranger when they can only talk on the phone, when he sounds worn out, cloudy and doesn’t make much sense to her.
But it’s only a moment, a wink of an eye, cos then their love and the pleasure, the passion and desire for each other are stronger. Fade out reality. It’s when looking over her shoulder watching him making love to her, with his long black curls clinging to his sweaty face reminds her of 1996, when he loved her like that for the first time; against a door in a hallway of an aquarium. It’s when her passionate voice shakes him to the core and makes him feel so alive. Makes him realize why he is even doing all that he does.
“Oh Baby, not like that Michael…” she moans, holding on to his hand, fastens her grip and rests her head back against his shoulder as if to steady herself and not lose ground.
“Why?” he whispers, brushing his lips softly against her ear; yet he knows the answer already, knows why, reads on her face why and it makes his stomach somersault, makes his hips thrust a bit faster, deeper.
The word so deep and heavy, intense like his movements that fill her tight warmth up to her spot, he makes her gasp and moan, breathe louder, harder, when he starts to rub her clit in slow soft circles at the same time. Causes strong waves of pure pleasure in her lap.
“You’ll make me cum so fast…”
“Oh boy, say that again, Angel.”
He can feel the throbbing in his tip, feels his fingers on her wetness slipping, losing control when she starts to shake against him, when her inner walls constrict so tight around him and her voice cracks and drifts, turns into passionate cries.
“You make me cum so fast… Baby … Michael, gawd!”
And that’s when he feels like losing ground, feet slipping, body sailing, soul soaring. The speed of unloading his lust making him dizzy, shaking him, making him tremble and feel hod and cold at the same time.
He gasps for air, squeezes his eyes shut, and pulls her into a tight embrace. Holds on to her until his chills subside. Feels his flesh creep, a thick layer of sweat covering his body when he rolls onto his back and smiles at the ceiling like an idiot high on drugs.

“Baby! What are you doing in there again?”
She props her head up on one of her arms and stares to the door of the walk-in closet. He’s in and out of bed for the umpteenth time, restlessly pacing up and down in front of her when he talks about the production, his features stressed and tense yet gloriously excited the next moment. Going in and out of the bathroom, roaming around in the closet instead of spending that much needed quality time close to her.
“I’m just checking on the safe, Angel. Did you change the code?”
She drops down on her back and rolls her eyes.
“Of course, Michael. You asked me to change it last time, remember?”
“So what is it?”
She frowns, raises her head again.
“Blanket’s birthday!?”
He stays silent for a moment, sighs loudly and peaks around the corner.
“Blanket’s birthday?” he asks and at his lost expression, those empty eyes that search for an answer she wonders if he really forgot about it or if he’s just checking on her.
“Like two-one-zero-two-two-zero-zero-two.”
He disappears and she can hear him typing in the code, open the safe that sits in the wall behind his clothes, closing it and opening the heavy metal door a second time. Then finally he comes back to bed, crawls under her sheets and cuddles up against her warm body.
“What’s wrong, Michael?” she asks lowly, concerned about his strange behavior, and entwines their fingers.
“Nothing.” he says and looks at her, touches her cheek and combs a strand of hair behind her ear. “Just checking, Angel. I brought another stash of money.”
“Again? Why are you always carrying that much cash around, Michael?”
“Listen, Pru, you know they are after my money and my catalogue.” his voice is dark and just above a whisper and she can see an alarming hint of fear flashing in his eyes. “Cash is the only thing in my control.”
“You are scaring me, Baby! What is this all about?”
She sits up and looks down on him, not knowing what he is talking about. In 13 years they never talked much about his money. She never asked questions whenever he gave her a big bunch of dollars or when he asked her to open an account after Helena was born. It was his way of taking care of her and their child.
She understood his reasons to hide huge amounts of cash wherever he was living in case the kids were kidnapped or they got threatened. She understood when he asked her to install that safe into the closet and store more than 2 million dollars in there for the same reasons. But now that he brings more and more cash and asks her to store it almost every time he comes home to her makes her feel uneasy.
“I just want you and Helena to be well-funded. If something happens to you or her, if something happens to me…”
He grabs her hands and squeezes them tight. An expression on his face she has never seen before. Something that makes her shudder and feel utterly worried.
“I’m just saying, Angel. When we go home to Africa next year, when we are finally married, everything will be easier. I promise you, Angel. Please just trust me.”
He silences her every question with his kisses, with his art of making her quiet, of not asking any further and just to be all that he needs her to be. His love, his warmth, his home. The place he can be who he wants to be.

Pilanesberg (South Africa), Early October 2009

“I was such a fool! How could I be that blind, Grace?”
She stops in her tracks and drops the knife, stops cutting ginger into small dices and watches Grace gathering her belongings. Feels her hands start to shake at the thought to let her go the next morning.
“What are you talking about, Honey?”
“Michael. He changed so much those past months. It was crystal clear, right before my very eyes. I should have known that there was something so wrong!”
She covers her mouth as if to stop herself from screaming and closes her eyes. Shakes her head no and tries to breathe easy.
“When will you stop that, Pru? When will you stop blaming yourself?”
Grace freezes in her spot and glares at her, clenching her hands. Wants to pull her into a tight embrace and cry, yet she can’t. Feels too exhausted, to overwhelmed with all the emotions she handled those past weeks.
“Never!” she yells and looks furiously at Grace, storms away from the kitchen counter across the room and out on the deck.
“Pru, no one could safe him. Michael did what he was used to all of his life. He was in denial. He didn’t want to face the truth…”
“What truth, Grace?”
“That he couldn’t do 50 shows, Prudence! That he should have had the guts to pull his ass out of that crazy deal or just tell them no, instead of going back to the old habits.”
The truth hurts and it cuts her heart into a million pieces. All over again. And she wonders how many times will she be able to go through this pain, how many times will she survive her heart bleeding out?
“Something must have happened when he announced those shows in March, Grace! Prior to that, he was so full of energy and joy. He looked forward to do this. I know he didn’t just pretend…”
“Of course something happened, Pru! Shit got real. Suddenly Mr. Jackson woke up and realized he was not in control. He was not the one to pull the strings. And that’s something Michael just doesn’t like. It’s either his way or no way… You above all should know!”
From one second to another the conversation gets out of hand. Too much turmoil, too many emotions, too many questions unanswered and too much pain in the game.
“Why are you talking like that?” Pru whispers and she can’t help but cry now, facing the truth behind Grace’s words.
“How can I not talk like that? Just look at what happened, how much hurt he caused!”
“You shut up now!”
“He knew what he was doing, Pru. And you know that. Don’t deny now! He willingly put his life at risk and THAT is just beyond me… I don’t get it. How could he do that to you and the kids?”
It’s only a mere second without thinking before she spins around and slaps her in the face.
“You are not talking like that in his house, in front of me, Grace! Never, hear me!?”
Running down the stairs that lead to the pool she feels her heart racing so hard in her chest, her pulse throbbing so wildly in her throat she feels like passing out on the spot. All the things Grace says she has thought about so many times herself, has been angry at him, furious, has tried to blame and accuse him.
And yet, it never eased her pain. It never made her heart any lighter, stopped her tears or filled the emptiness she feels inside. Nothing ever changed the fact that the love of her life is gone.
Walking the grounds with her hands down the pockets of her pants she feels drawn to the Marula, to the place where she can feel him so very close. And she quickly climbs up the steps and sits down on the old sofa, leans back and stares up into the blue sky above her.
“Moyo,” she calls him lowly, asks him to forgive her for being upset with him, for feeling angry sometimes, for not understanding why he never trusted her enough to tell her what was really going on.
“What happened to you, Baby?” she cries lowly and curls her body into a ball, pulls her knees into a tight embrace and sobs herself to sleep.