BOOK REVIEW: KASALA by Azubike A. Ahubelem

A vivid written story doesn’t need applauds nor screams.  It needs recognition; it needs to be shared across to everyone to read. That is exactly what you get when you grab Kasala-The Curse to read. A book that promises to make your blood heat and boil, your heart to beat and your eyes to be teary at the same time.

Azubike A. Ahubelem, the writer took his time to blend an action story with the rich culture of the Osun and Benin Dynasty of the Southern Nigeria. The writer unravels the origin of Oduduwa and his people, bronze heads and terracotta, the meandering river and landscape dotted with sanctuaries and shrines. To even think the writer is of the Igbo descent filled me with admiration and wonder of the rich culture of my ancestors which I have somehow disregarded.

This story is a tale of diverse people who found themselves flung together by fate and the unfortunate happenings that ensued.

After a struggle with an elderly woman, Nike becomes the victim of a curse that threatens to destroy her life and those of the ones she loves. Her only salvation lies in a statue. She joins forces with an art thief who is on the run from guards of The Lodge. A secret society; whose members are willing to sacrifice their lives in order to retrieve this statue and protect their secret. In a breathless race through the streets of Lagos, and a face-off with a deadly soldier, intent on a mission from which he cannot fail. A soldier on a mission, but also locked in a desire to be with the woman he loves. He must not return without the statue, he cannot lose this woman.

Kasala-The Curse promises to glue your eyes to every word in the two hundred and sixty seven pages. Filled with mind-blowing suspense which gripped me that I wanted to know what would happen in the next chapter to the next and in five readings, I was done with the book.

I must confess. I was a bit unhappy. I always hate this feeling where my heart wrenched and yearned to read more and now I could only hope that Azubike would release a sequel.

I recommend this book to everyone especially Young Adults out there curious to know the rich history of the Yoruba culture. If you love to read Dan Brown’s books, this should be your pick.

Book available on

Amazon

Okadabooks

 

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Half Man #16

r2

Please read episode 15 here.

LUIS

11 Hours Earlier on Valentine Day.

Araba’s desire and passion heated the whole room like a blazing fire. My breath couldn’t quench the heat; enjoying every bit of her body. Our body glued to each other to the extent we had no room for air, we moaned on our skins. She smelled so good and that turned me on so easily. My prostate was on full guard on the ready for me to give it a go! But I had other plans. I wanted to wet Araba beyond imaginations. I wanted her legs to tremble like an earthquake rumbling the ground. Yes, she made me feel good, it’s only best to return the favor.

Her words howling in my head like a siren telling me to go down on her. Removing her pants felt like days as I savored every millisecond as the pant caressed her skin while planting kisses here and there with the motive to keep her in cliffhanger. Finally, the cookie was in the open. I got closer to her cookie and she used her hand to push me aside unexpectedly.

“What was that for? I thought you want this?”

“I….. I want this?” Her tone with a certain edge.

“Sorry, we want this, Araba, you know how much I like you so much.” In times like these, women are always superior; they have your balls in their hands.

“Luis, I am not so sure about this, about us. What do you want from me?” she said waiting for an answer, what does she expects me to say now? Oh my God, just some few seconds, we had something going and now, women can be so dramatic.

“Araba, as it stands you are the only woman in my life. I have no one.”

“Yeah, I am your second option, right?”

“No, No Love. You mean the world to me.” I manage to say with all sincerity.

“I mean the world to you? I see. Then you need to come clean with me Luis. I need to be able to trust you and not the psyche womanizer we all know you to be.”

“Really?” I sniggered. “Is that how you girls see me?”

“What do you think? You need to see how Merissa and the other girls felt when I showed them your picture being the lucky man in my life.”

“Hmm, that’s in the past, Araba. You are my future. I need to tell you something. If I really need to move on with you, you need to know this.”

“Okay, please tell me.” I adjusted myself and to my grave disappointment, Araba began wearing her cloth. I shook my head and got over it. “Merissa and her mother have a large chunk of money invested with me.” I paused.

“Okay,” she said while she put on her top, watching her belly button, drove me nut.

“Yes, and now the money are all gone.”

“How do you mean gone?”

“I seldom use my clientele purse of cash to do my overnight hedging. It involves lot of risk but never had it been this so bad. I’ve lost their entire half a million cedis.”

“What? Half a million. Luis, you are in a big trouble.” She said while she stood up.

“I know.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know. I am confused.”

Araba involuntarily placed her finger in her mouth, thinking.

“You have to leave this apartment.”

“Leave this apartment?”

“Yes, except if you have the half a million cedi to pay the Mensahs.”

“I don’t.”

“Then you better start packing.”

“Like right now?”

“Yes, now. You are already on the wanted list, Luis. Can’t you think? Do you use your brain to only woo women?”

“Oh my, what am I to do?”

“Just pack a few stuff and lets leaver here.”

“Okay, but where to?”

“You’ll stay at my apartment for the mean time before we can think of something else.”

“But don’t your friends know where you stay?”

“Hmm, I am glad no one knows.”

“Okay good, I will pack my stuff now. Please freshen up.”

“I am already done.”

MERISSA

Late Cold Night…

We got to Luis’s apartment but met a locked room. We were worried over our heels. A neighbor stepped out from his room to look out for the disturbance and perhaps calm the situation we were already creating. The young man approached us and said Luis had packed his belongings and moved out. Just with that word, my mother slumped to the ground. I wasn’t fast enough to grab her but the twenty something looking man was damn fast to have a grip on her.

I shook her very hard, calling her, shouting to the extent that I could hear the clangs of other room security doors opening and closing. My mother was empty, breathless and lifeless. Her shoulder and hands were slouching with no firmness. Other neighbors were approaching now. I didn’t want to make any scene as worse as it was. I told the young man to grab her tight. I quickly opened the entrance gate and the car doors, helped the man to adjust my mother in the rear seat and drove out of the place immediately.

With my lifeless mother at the rear, that fueled my haste to get to the clinic on time. I stepped on the accelerator all the way and had both head-light beaming with my horns hooting at its wake. No car had a chance to block my way, they actually did the reverse and in less than fifteen minutes, mother was carried on a gurney into the emergency ward. And I was left in shambles watching the nurses take my mother away from me. I wondered why she was taking so long to open her eyes.

After half an hour, the nurse came bustling out from the intensive care unit seeking my attention from the doctor. I was relieved but not quite as the nurse refused to tell me the condition of my mother if she had woken up. I gathered my last courage and put my act together and embraced the doctor’s office. The doctor sat on his recliner with a morose face. Several Awards and commendation hung on his white walls but my eyes didn’t scan it thoroughly.

Dr. Akinwale has been our family doctor for ages even before I was born. He wouldn’t play games with me. He would tell me as it is, I assured myself.

“Dr. Akin, please tell me what is going on? Has my mother opened her eyes? Is she alive?”

“Merissa please calm down.”

“Everything is alright.”

“Alright? You mean my mother is okay? Is she alive? Can I see her?”

“Merissa, calm down. Your mother is fine. Yes she has opened her eyes.”

“So what am I doing here? I need to be seeing her and not you.” I stood and about to head out was when the doctor shouted.

“You mother has diabetes”

“What?” I sunk in my chair like a lifeless thing. “Diabetes? How come? She never told me about any sickness.”

“Yes, your mother might have her reasons for not telling you about this but as it stands I have no choice but to tell you.”

“Doctor, what do you mean?”

“Her sickness is worsening. She has Diabetes Mellitus II.”

“OMG! And she kept this from me? Please doctor, what are the odds? Would she make it out from this in one piece?” My lips were shaking.

“Hmm, I believe so. Your mother is a strong and an active woman. Much more reason why she chose to hid this from you. She would fight this.”

“What am I to do doctor? I can’t live my life without her. Please do all you can.”

“You need not to ask Merissa. My team and I are on her case.”

“Please can I see her?”

“Of course, but please be gentle with her. She doesn’t need any news that would send her heart beating wildly.”

“Okay Doctor.”

I didn’t notice tears had been pulled out from my eyes until the doctor handed me a tissue. I cleaned my tears and walked with him to the ICU. Mother was there in a lifeless form, all she had on her face was a sick smile reassuring me that everything would be alright and to think all this was happening because of Luis, that bastard. He will so pay for this. I will make sure I lock his ass in prison.

A drip stood beside my mother and intravenously tucked into her skin. I collapsed by the side of her bed and began mopping. The doctor quickly helped me to my feet and led me out of the room.

“Why don’t you head home, Merissa, and be back in the morning with fresh clothes and towels for her.”

“Okay doctor,” I sniffed my nose. I headed out of the hospital without any fight and got home at the eleventh hour of the cold night.

SHANTEL

The Next Day…

I needed no one to watch and tell me, waking in the curling arms of Huge plastered a beaming smile on my sleepy face. I wanted to celebrate. Jump. Laugh. Hop like a bouncing ball. My eyes opened and met Huge smiling in his sleep. He must be dreaming of us, our future together, I mesmerized. I dismounted the bed and grabbed a tee-shirt of his and wore it which covered my bum seductively. I sauntered, more like hopping like a ballerina to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. I got some bread, eggs and Ovaltine. I broke the eggs in the oily frying pan and scrambled it, toasted the bread and heated some water for the tea. I served the meal on a clean tray and headed for the bedroom. When I got to the bedroom, Huge wasn’t there.

“Huge, are you there?”

No response came from the bathroom. He must be in the living room, I thought. With the tray on my hands, I headed to the living room. I heard murmuring indistinct sounds; more like the bearer doesn’t want to be heard. My heart was somersaulting.

I got into the room, my mouth opened wide to what I saw. The tray slipped from my hands. The hot tea splashed on my skin. Huge and his male visitor stopped kissing on hearing the tray slipped from my fingers.

I screamed.

I rushed to the bathroom, locked myself and opened the faucet to cool my hurt legs.

I cried like a child.

Half Man #15

r1

Please read episode 14 here.

Shantel

No! This can’t be happening. No! Huge, are you really sleeping? These thoughts blared in my head. I mounted on the bed watching him snore helplessly. I wanted to tap him but my hand froze in mid air. I resigned and coiled to a corner for comfort and mopping to sleep.

In less than thirty seconds, Huge attacked me in my sleep. He roared like a lion and got on me. I looked at him surprised and scared.

“So you thought I was asleep, right?”

“Yea, thought you drifted off, leaving me to wonder why you would leave a horny lady up all night?”

“Hmm, I love that sound. How horny are you?” he said, smiling ruefully.

He was on me staring at me. I just don’t know what’s wrong with men. You give them food on a gold platter and they still act bossy, the lion of the jungle, asking silly questions. So pardon me if I broke the girls’ code. I squeezed his tee-shirt and gave it a strong pull drawing him to my body. His pink lips glued to mine in a moment of weakness.

My breath almost seizing as my mouth moaned in his parched mouth. He continued playing with my lips till I could feel fire burning through them. To change the position, I reached for his tee-shirt and removed it revealing his hairy chest. I allowed my hand caressing his nipples which look almost red like they were burnt. I reached for them and suck them hard. He laid back on the bed which gave me an opportunity to be in charge. I love been in charge (winks). I continued biting his hard nipples as Huge closed his eyelids and gave a soft moan here and there.

I loved for a fact that I blew his mind away.

And just when Huge couldn’t control himself anymore, I would have sworn he was damn close to a climax, he got up almost immediately and rushed into the washroom. I managed to stifle a giggle which broke free when he finally disappeared.  I peered at my body and I was surprised I still got my dress on. Imagining if it were to be some random dude, he would have gone down on me already and ruining the long night. Huge surely knows how to make this last long. And just when I was having this thought, he came into the room wearing something that got me screaming at first, and later laughing. Huge wore an elastic men g-string leaving his bare chest for me to drool on.

“I am about to give you a show.”

“Oh yea,” I said, looking rhapsodic.

He grabbed a remote and switched on his music player which I didn’t even noticed was somewhere in the room and invisible speakers hidden or camouflaged in the room.

The speakers released a beat from Hold You Down by DJ Khaled and Huge began twirling, swirling and strip-teasing.

I’ll hold you down

I’m on my way

Want you like right now

(You the one that got all I need, give me all of you or all of me)

I’m on my way…

His erotic and sensual lap dance got my body shivering to the goose bumps which couldn’t help themselves. He turned and twerked his bare bum and spanking them to the slow rhythm of the music.

Within fifteen minutes, (I wasn’t counting though) but it was a sure fifteen minutes to get him all sweaty and tired.

“Why don’t you sit and let me give you a lap dance.”

His eyes widened to what he had just heard. He collapsed on a sofa and watched me heading for the washroom. I came back wearing only a tee-shirt and black pant on a six inch heels.

“Oooh laalaa!” he said, feeling excited.

“Let me have the remote. What do you have on your playlist?”

“Well, a lot.”

“Do you have Feeling the Nigga by Dbanj & Akon?” I asked praying he would have it.

“Yes, I have that track. I love that song.”

He helped me shuffled the tracks to what I wanted and the beat echoed in the room rendering my body to move in an erotic way.

She feeling the nigga eh

And the way that I package

Make I dey no no

Make I dey maya maya

 

She feeling the nigga eh

And the way I do this

Make I dey no no

Make I dey maya maya

Huge served me a glass of champagne. I sipped some more and the song hit the climax

Make I dey shake am (Shake am)

Orobo dey shake am (Shake am)

Lepa sef dey shake am (Shake am)

Everybody dey shake am

At this point, I twerked my bum and after I did that, I went on him, my back facing him and my soft bum playing on his friend which seemed to be very hard now.

…And that was how I got dis-virgined after three years. The night was rough; we practically did every conceivable style you could bring up. He went down on me, got me from behind, and raised my legs in the air like a wheelbarrow.

After hours; three or four, we resigned to bed.

 

Merissa

I sped all the way through to home. I was lucky not to have met any man policing the road, else would be a straight scapegoat. My brains pounding to the enormous thoughts which some were reasonable, crazy and funny. Could this explain why Luis hadn’t called me all this while? I have been so mad to the extent that I made this slipped by. He would probably be leaving the country right now knowing full well, he wouldn’t be able to pay that huge money.

The secured gate slid ajar and my car parked inside. I disembarked from the vehicle and walked into the room. Mom was engrossed watching Keeping up with the Kadashians.

“Hello mom,” I said, collapsing on the sofa she sat on.

“How was your dinner date?

“Errrm―” I couldn’t tell mom that my date was the stranger whom had been sending me messages and gifts.  That would simply get mother heart boiling. And there was no way I could say it was Luis, not after hearing this panicky news. “―Yes, it was good. It was some guy that had an eye on me for a long time,” Mom gazed at me as though wanting me to tell her a detailed story. “You don’t know him,” I added.

“Okay, hope you enjoyed yourself?”

“Yes I did, mom,” I said while mom fixed her attention on the screen once more giggling to something Khloe did to her sister, Kim.

“Mom, there is something I need to ask you about?”

“Yes, please tell me,” she said, switching the TV off.

“How much were the shares you got from Luis’s firm?”

“I can’t really say…. Give me a minute”

I swayed my body tiredly and mom got back with some shares certificate.

“Well, it says we have about 78,640 units of shares at 3 cedi 60 pesewa.”

“That is about 283,000 cedi?”

“Yes, even less”

I got up and grabbed one of the certificates. It had exactly what mom had said.

“And what of that one?”

“Well, you can take a look.” The other certificate had roughly 79,000 units of shares.

“Mom, we are looking at roughly 600,000 cedi about 500,000 United States Dollars.”

“Exactly, Merissa, Yes, I do know. What’s the problem?” she said, her hands began to shake mildly, staring into my eyes as though trying to read my mind.

“Well, it has not been confirmed but I have reasons to think we are affected by the stock dive.”

“What stock dive?” Mom hands were shaking now and her lips quavering.

“The man whom I had the date with told me of a worse stock dive which happened last month. He was affected badly.”

“Oh my God! Merissa, why didn’t you tell me sooner?” she said while her eyes rummaging around for something. She finally founds it and began punching it for a number.

“Give me Luis phone number”

“I have been trying his numbers but they are all unavailable.”

“What?” Mom shouted.

“Give me. Let me try. That bastard can’t run away with my money.”

Even though we both knew the number wouldn’t go through, we still tried, perhaps to satisfy curiosity. We had the same response from her phone. I was startled when mother shot up in the air looking around again.

“What are you looking for, mom?”

“We need to go to Luis house, right now”

“Right now?” My eyes shot wide.

“Yes, right now. Do you know where he stays?”

“Yes I do. “

“Okay, freshen up and let’s beat it”

Mother never gets worried but when she does, it manifest in the choice of language she chooses.

“Merissa, please hurry up”

I took the flight upstairs taking double steps. In twenty seconds, I was in a top and short jean, and pulling a sneaker to wear when mom screamed from downstairs.

“I’m coming, mother.”

I dashed down and we left the house beating the road for Luis’s apartment.

We touched down in a vibrant community at Greda Estate in the heart of Teshi, a next town to Nungua. Mother stepped out of the car and rushed to the gates as though she was familiar with the place.

“Mom, that’s not the place.”

We crossed the road and we entered into a semi-detached bungalow house. We rapped madly on the gates but no one seemed to budge. I looked carefully; I noticed there was a padlock attached to the gates.

Then, someone, a neighbor came out and gave my mother and I the shocking news.

“Luis packed out this afternoon.”

Mother fell to the ground.

Half Man #14

r1

About 12 Hours Earlier…

Luis

I roused from the bed in the morning with a kick-start in my member, and stared through the window into a bright Valentine sky. The sky was bright and blue with no clouds like a forget-me-not flower.

A bell had rung leading me to the entrance door. I pushed the venetian blinds to reveal a beautiful Araba standing outside in a lion designed white t-shirt and stretch leggings. She had requested for my address the previous night but I didn’t know she would show up on an early day like this.

“Hey, what’s up?

“Hi,” she managed.

“You didn’t tell me you would be showing up this morning when you took my address.”

“I wanted to surprise you.”

“Well, you plan has worked.” She walked inside.

“Hope you didn’t find it stressful locating here?”

“Not at all.”

“Such a lovely bachelor pad you have here”

We had walked into the living room.

“Oh, thank you.”

“There is only one thing missing in all of this, you know”

“And what is that?” She dropped her black Tote bag and her phone on the couch where I rested my body, watching her.

“You”

“Me?”

“Yes, you. You are the missing fraction to the equation.”

“You men and your sweet talk,” she drawled while looking at the giant flat screen. “What do you have in your fridge?”

“Errm, depends on what you looking for.”

“Okay, where is your kitchen. Let me help myself.”

“It is just the room over there.”

“Okay, I’ll be with you in a minute”

They say curiosity kills the cat but I rather killed curiosity in this case. My senses were still trying to register her strawberry smell signature when my eyes fell on her bag and crawled to her phone.

A prickling feeling led me to grab it. I thought to myself, it might be wise to snoop in her phone perhaps, her messages, and see if she had other men in her life. Why was I even thinking of this? I wouldn’t be surprised though because Araba was very beautiful: a caramel éclairs complexion skin of hers drew me to our first conversation.

Then I remembered it was a smart phone: it surely going to have a security lock on it. It would be a waste of time and my suspicion sufficed when I pressed the power knob revealing a swipe pattern security. Looking crestfallen, I dropped the phone and gazed at the TV but the thought of seeing something strange crept within me.

A bell rung in my mind immediately which led me peering at the phone once more and at the end, got me spell bound…

And I didn’t know what happened next, until she came back in the room holding a plate of fried eggs and sausages with crisp toasted bread. For her to have done all this while I was in shock caused me to worry.

“What is wrong with you as though you’ve seen a ghost?”

“Errm, ―” I blinked my eyes.

“―And why are you holding my phone?”

“Oh sorry, I was just admiring the brand,” I lied and quickly dropped it as though it would cause me harm.

“Okay,” she said while she laid the food on her thighs and sat cozily to me and began feeding me.

“Why are you acting this way? Are you shy?”

“Not exactly,” I managed a feigned smile. “Araba, I saw your screen wallpaper.”

“Yes, what about it?”

Araba didn’t know what was coming or she had put in a good act of absolute oblivion. She grabbed her phone voluntarily and what she saw, hit her in the face.

“I never knew you with friends with Merissa and Askaline.”

“Yes I was.”

“Was?”

“Yes was! I resigned being friends with Merissa. I am tired of her controlling me in every way. I am tired of her always telling me what to do or- or… telling me what I am.”

She unlocked her phone and saw her moving to settings and I could bet she was about to change the wallpaper of her and her friends posing at a beach.

“Take it easy, Araba.” I was so confused. “I want to know what happened between you two but I am also curious. If you two knew each other, then you would know I was dating her all along but you were never worried about it.”

“Yes, Luis. I knew very well that you were dating Merissa for a very long time.”

“And how long is this?” I stood up in a complete rage, my voice intensified.

“Not the first time though. It was the time we had the bonding get-together at Elmina beach.”

“I see,” I said while my breath slowed down. “So why―”

“Luis, please don’t make it worse as the situation is,” she interrupted. “I never wanted all of this. When I got to know that you and Merissa were an item, I was disappointed. Despite Merissa knew about this, she still wanted us to continue a charade luring you to completely fall into her trap.”

“A trap?”

“Yes, a trap. She wanted this to continue, hoping you get involve with me. She wanted to catch you in the act. Like a test or something.”

“Wow. This is getting interesting.”

“Yes, Luis. And you know what? I didn’t talk to her after that day.”

“Meaning you didn’t want to go with the plan?”

“Yes, I don’t want a controlling freak as a friend and the clash at the Barclay Club house was totally a coincidence. Well, it wouldn’t have happened if you were truthful to me.”

“I know but I didn’t know.” I managed to say thinking what I had just said didn’t make sense.

“It’s okay. So how is she?”

“Who?”

“Merissa? Isn’t she your girlfriend?”

“Oh, not anymore. That fiasco tore us apart. She doesn’t want to speak to me.”

“Yeah. I guess so. Now sit down, let me feed you,” she said with a smile.

I obeyed. Anytime I looked into her eyes, I was lost in them. And without thinking, without lethargy, without thinking of the consequences, I went in for a kiss.

Araba had so much passion flowing through her veins. She tossed the empty plate to the side and literally jumped on me. Her soft lips caressed mine like a very first true kiss. She began fiddling my buttons as though she could just use magic to get me instant naked. By then, I was busily going for her t-shirt and with a slight effort, she was topless. Her white bra made an effort in revealing seductive curls on her chest elongating to her mind-blowing breast.

My member shot up with a jolt as though all blood had traveled down there. For a moment, I thought it might burst when I noticed her reaching her hand into my sweat jogging pants. Her lips were still on mine and I didn’t want to ruin the moment.

Her hand pampered my other friend down there and before I could moan out of ecstasy, she began stroking it with her hand which led our kissing to a halt. I leaned backward and gazed at the sky and I moaned in a complete euphoria…

She saw this: that I enjoyed her playing with my cock, and so she swallowed it deep down in her throat. My body shivered momentarily to the instant goose bumps. My flesh on her heated tongue traveled to her throat and her right hand played with my delicate balls.

I screamed just as the sperms shoot out in excitement.

Just after that, she quickly turned her back to me and I understood why she had done that. I unstrapped her brassiere and her breasts were freed. Araba groaned as her black nipples shooting upright caressed my tongue as I almost swallowed them in. As my tongue sucked one of her breast, my other squeezed the other.

I stopped for a moment and stared at her inflated twin towers as though they were calling my name to bit them. Unfortunately, Araba didn’t let me finish my reverie; she violently grabbed my head and pulled them to her breast. I saw, she enjoyed this so I continued so hard giving her intense passion as she squirmed from left to right and right to left.

My fingers played violin in her ears while I continued and shockingly, she grabbed my fingers and sucked them.

Then I stopped.

I reached for her weak ear and sucked them and that even excited her more as she wriggled her body on the sofa. I felt fire burning in my ear after she had whispered to me: “go down please.”

My eyes sparked to the invitation.

I reached down for her stretch leggings and removed it, then dipped my fore-finger into her.

Araba was so hot within her inside.

I wanted her. I wanted more of her. I wanted to ride inside of her. I wanted her to enjoy this and remember this for a very long time to come. I removed her panties and my head was closing in for orals but she stopped me in my tracks.

 

 Presently

 Shantel

After we had finished eating, I stood and walked to the banisters guiding the frail pitch-dark sky, feeling frightened to peer down but one impervious feeling was that you couldn’t help but to enjoy the view. It boasted of a very large expanse view of fast cars moving across the H1N1 road with the colorful streak of light zigzagging to its wake.

The breeze billowed madly causing my curtain of hair swinging forward to my face. I adjusted myself and my body jolted when Huge came behind me and held me allowing his soft palms to crease my hairy goose-bumped skin. Our body connected like two magnet gone astray, and I noticed my body swaying to the slow rhythm of Huge. My eyes closed gently on its own volition enjoying his mild cologne wafting through my senses and my imagination spiraled to the day I had my massage. And for once in a very long time, I understood the song sung by my heart.

“Huge, I am feeling cold. Let’s go inside. I want to see your room.”

Huge led me to his room on the 15th floor.

A fine orange color carpet tiles gently laid on the floor complemented the grandeur couch stretched in Huge’s living room. A shiny silver pendulum swung in a tick-tock from the grandfather clock amidst black and white art portraits which hung firmly on a white-orange glossy wall.

“Wow Huge, this is so beautiful”

“Thank you”

“I didn’t know you appreciate Arts”

“I do, love. I have a deep passion for it.”

Did I just hear him call me “love?” I hid my face almost immediately so he wouldn’t see me giggling with scarlet cheeks.

“Where is your bedroom?” I quickly asked still transfixed on the Art portrait on the wall.

“Let me show you,” he said. “I’ll show you only one condition?” he quickly added.

My heart started drumming.

“What is the condition?”

“I’ll have to blind fold you”

“Blind fold me?”

“Yes, please”

“Okay, please go ahead.”

As though he had planned it, he revealed a black satin cloth and covered my eyes from my rear. Then he led me slowly to the strange room and as I heard the screeching door, my breath seized. Then, I felt his hands unfolding the blinds and my eyes: blurry at first, by the second, got clearer to the view of white roses petals plucked and dropped on the bed, on the floor, on the sofa, everywhere my eyes could manage the flight to.

A gentle flame danced from an everlasting candles that stood on a candelabra. And as if that wasn’t enough, beads of cold sweat emitted from the ice-bucket of champagne and two glasses by the bedside. My lungs deflated and began receiving air again. My mind couldn’t contend with the enormous thoughts that transported from my eyes which rendered me speechless.

Huge shuffled to my front view and stared into my innocent eyes and I bit my lower lip, this time I tasted blood. Huge was close to me and I could sense him coming even closer but it felt like a distance which would take five sun-lit days to travel. I couldn’t wait for that so I pushed forward to him and again and again. Our head now locked and our lips met.

I withdrew from a three hundred and sixty five days non-stop kiss and sauntered to the bathroom thereafter.

A woolen carpet caressed the sole of my feet as I stared at the mirror. This is what I had wanted and now that I have it makes it so good to be true and just with that one thought, it sent my senses panicking. Are all this real? This isn’t what I had really planned or fantasized about? He is damn good of a charmer. We all do have flaws and Huge is no exception. But what are his flaws? I do not know. Don’t I deserve a good time like this? To be pampered beyond immeasurable words?

Yes. I think I do.

And with that conclusion, I smiled to the mirror and began undressing, or rather; I should make it an adventure for him. I put on my black sleeve bra on my exposed breast and t-shirt. I walked back to the bedroom and met a sleeping and yet snoring Huge.

Half Man #13

4

Please read previous episode here.

Shantel

I buried my mouth in my hands immediately.

Huge smiled.

He helped me with the chair to have a seat. Our table was very close to the banisters which made me to shudder in an embarrassing way.

“What is the matter?”

My sealed lips said nothing. My eyes mustered courage and peered at the open view.

“Are you scared of height?”

I nodded.

“Oh oh,” He quickly dialed a number on his phone and in one minute, a man dressed like a chef appeared and helped him with the table gliding it to the centre, close to the swimming pool. After two minutes, we were settled.

“Are you okay now? “

“Yes please,” my lips finally defrosted.

He smiled and ordered the chef to bring in the champagne. A Moet & Chandon in a bucket of ice cubes came; he gently loosened the foil with his thumb pressed on the cork. He undo the wire cage, I felt a surge of happiness. With a slight pull, the cork shot off into the open air.

With a gleeful heart I clapped. He filled my glass and his. He dropped the bottle and he almost took a sip.

“Wait!”

He froze.

“Let’s make a toast. This is to us.”

“A bright future for us,” he added. We made cheers and we nipped our drink.

“You know, no one would have thought a lady as fierce as you, so strong in your wills would be scared of just height,” he smiled ruefully.

“That is not just some height,” I said defensively. “Do you know how many stories we are on?”

“It doesn’t really matter,” he said, his face with smug. I know where to take you next.”

“And where is that?” twisting my lips, enjoying the conversation.

“We shall go to Kwahu in the Easter for some paragliding”

My heart deflated. “I don’t think I can manage that”

“Don’t worry; you have nothing to be scared of. I shall be with you all through.”

I sighed. “If you say so, what’s on the menu then?”

“We have your favorites.”

“My favorites? Do you know my favorite food?” I gave a raised eyebrow.

“You need to forgive me on this one, my dear. I did ask Merissa what you love to eat.”

“Really? You sought Merissa on the food I love best?” my voice going intense.

“Why didn’t you just ask me?”

“Well, that would have ruined the surprise.”

“Okay. So what is it then?” I said, looking crestfallen.

“Beans and plantain”

“BEANS AND PLANTAIN?”

“Oh no! just joking.” He sniggered. “Banku and Okro soup”

“Yummy,” I clapped my hands like a child. I can’t really remember the last time I was pampered like this.

Merissa

I saved my heart from almost popping out of my gown.

“You,” I thought I saw a ghost. “You are the one that had been sending me all the text messages?”

I shook my head in revulsion, and retreated. He stood immediately and held my arm”

“Do not touch me you criminal,” calling him a criminal though didn’t seemed right as he didn’t look like one. He was spruced in his shirt and suit without tie. His beard neatly trimmed and above all, he smelled good. I thought he might be using Khorrus cologne. What is wrong with me? This man had a gun trained behind me in my car, why am I even entertaining these thoughts. I continued walking in hasty steps. Others found it amusing to watch a dramatic show.

“Please, hear what I have to say”

“What do you have to tell me? That you occupied my property illegally and even trained a gun behind me—” He opened his mouth, about to say something but I didn’t let him, “—you even have the impertinence to show up in my room and watch me sleep,” I scoffed. “TELL ME, GIVE ME ONE DAMN GOOD REASON WHY I SHOULDN’T CALL THE SECURITY ON YOU”

“I never had any gun trained on you,” he said with sincerity. “Please have a seat. Please, I will answer any question you ask of me.”

His eyes made me lose control. My anger inflating like a balloon deflated. For some reasons, I wanted to know why; I wanted to know why such a man dressed like this would be homeless and occupied my property some months ago. I wanted to know how he got my address, my name, how he got my phone number. I felt my stomach doing a somersault. The only way to know the truth would be to listen to him. I walked to the seat calmly. I peered around and I noticed disappointment written all over the spectator’s faces.

Shantel

Our bowl of Banku and Okro soup was served. The chef was really good. He was articulate in everything that he did. I washed my hands in the lukewarm water and had a bite on the liver.

“Hmm, tasty”

“When was the last time you had banku?”

“Hmm, funny. It was a date I had with some guy named Hans. But let me not bore you with the details, he is bad news.”

“Shantel, we have all night to ourselves.”

“Hmm, you are a naughty boy. Eat your food. Your food is running cold. You know how crazy the weather is up here.”

He smiled, taking a chunk of banku.

“You could have told me so I bring a jacket along.”

“Don’t worry,” He laughed. I will tell you what to bring next when we go for swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.”

“Atlantic Ocean? That is crazy”

“Crazy? You haven’t noticed that about me that I love crazy stuffs, I’m odd.”

“Yea, I might have noticed. That would explain me dressing like a stone cold assassin.”

“You are so funny,” he laughed hard. “That is one thing I love about you. You are easy going.”

“Well, thank you. Huge, I am still a bit confused as to how you could afford all of this, even your apartment. I know being just a masseur at the Mirage Spa wouldn’t pay you this much.”

“You are right, Shantel. Masseur has been something I have enjoyed for a very long time. You see, money hasn’t really been a problem for me…”

“Wow, is that so?”

“Yes, darling.”

“And my late father never approved of my job. He wanted me to manage his companies spread across Africa—,” he paused. Took a handkerchief to wipe his tears which struggled to come out, “—When he died, I got to know he left a Trust for me.”

“A Trust,” my eyes widened.

“Yes a Trust which gives me twenty percent of the millions that is in it and the remaining would be given if only I satisfy a few clauses.”

“Huge, you only making it more interesting and curious to ask more questions”

“I know,” He smiled faintly. “The clause state I have to get married and I also have to completely switch my career path to become the CEO to the companies left behind”

“Wow, that is illuminating, but you wouldn’t stop being a masseur, right?” I swallowed a ball of banku.

“You know the answer to that”

“And do you have any timeline?”

“Yes, I do, Shantel. Before the age 28, I should be married else, the trust would be donated to charity.”

“What is stopping you,” I sighed. “From getting anything that you want, Huge?”

“What do you mean?”

“You being the CEO”

“I am not dropping my hobby for some wealth, Shantel,” he flared.

“And who is saying you dropping anything?”

“I am lost”

“Don’t worry, I will tell you when we done eating.”

“Shantel, you know I hate suspense.”

“Yes I know that is why I am serving it to you.” I rolled my tongue out, teasing him.

Merissa

“Well for starters, you could tell me your name?”

“My names are George Kofi Wilson.”

“You said you never had any gun trained behind me in my car?”

“Yes, I had no gun but I made my hand like a gun and you went for it.”

“What did you expect from a vulnerable lady?”

“I know what I did to you is a criminal offence in the eyes of the law. Please forgive me. I needed money to go elsewhere and I couldn’t just ask you.”

“Who are you? What do you really want from me?”

“Well, I am an entrepreneur.” He paused

“Into what?”

“I own Delivery Machine.”

“Oh really?” I wanted to know more.

“Yes. Delivery Machine is a business venture, I started from school and I have made it grow to what it is today.”

“I am very sure you already know my next question,” he interrupted.

“Yes, I do know your next question. How does an entrepreneur end up being homeless?” he scoffed. “I took a silly decision and it almost ruined everything I had worked for.”

“Almost? Meaning, everything is back to normal.”

“Not quite. I gambled with my business into buying of Stocks. My friend encouraged me to buy, that it was a good deal. After several push, I fell into it. I put in all my money into it and that was when the Stock Exchange took a negative dive. It was on the news for weeks.”

“You mean the Stocks were very bad? How bad did it affect you? Were you the only one?”

“I wasn’t the only one. Everyone who had stocks lost gravely. I had a loan facility from my bank which ended me homeless as my home was seized.”

“That is terrible”

“Yes, very terrible.”

I didn’t know why I believed him and why I never heard anything about Stocks taking a dive. I know I probably don’t read the business news but something like this could have gone viral? Then, it occurred to me that mother also had Stocks with Luis’s firm. Oh my! I hope nothing had happened to the money. Mother told me it worth half a million cedis. This would ruin us if anything happens.

“Hello Merissa”

“Yes,” I blinked, “I am here. I was just thinking of something.”

“Oh okay”

“So tell me, how were you able to stand back on your feet. I can see you looking pretty well and your business is back in shape.”

“Well, it is not so good but I am getting there. I had to do a few redundancies of my employees. As it stands, I can’t pay the bank loan. I thank God for stashing some money elsewhere which has really kept me moving.”

“Wow, I am truly sorry, it just that I don’t feel too good, right now.”

“What is the matter? Did I say anything wrong?”

“No, it is not you. My family might also be a victim. We invest in Stocks as well and we haven’t really heard any news that would be concerning just as you’ve told me.”

“Oh, that is a shock. You need to confirm then.”

“Yes, I must. I need to take my leave please”

“Okay, I am fine. I will be in touch.”

“Thank you.”

The only thoughts that rung in my head was the Stocks and it being managed by Luis. What if something had happened? What if he had absconded with the money? I grabbed my phone from my purse and dialed his number. The computer said number dialed is not available on the MTN network.

Half Man #12

r1

Please read previous episode here.

Shantel

I stepped out of my apartment in black diamond studded heels and breathed into a chilly Valentine night. I clutched my black purse which complemented with my t-shirt and jeans. I opened my purse, uncover the chocolate which was gifted to me earlier today by my date and crunched slowly. My tongue heated with passion melted the caramel in my mouth giving me a soothing feeling. I trudged into the pitch dark night making a mental note to enjoy my night whiles it last.

My date, my lover, my boyfriend had been full of surprises lately: receiving flowers every morning, the fifty messages minimum we share, talking about everything from his past to the future and I am completely dazzled that we have both come far reaching this point. This is the point you would be wondering who that lucky man is? Well, I’ll tell you, let me rewind to that faithful day.

Weeks ago, at the mirage spa, I bashfully belittled myself having multiple fantasies while enjoying a massage from Huge. I don’t regret saying this; his hands are a piece of magic! I wouldn’t forget that massage in a hurry. After thanking him for the comment on my tattoos, I sprung out of my reverie and drummed my hands in frustration. My eyes met a confused Huge whom later requested for my phone number and we became friends afterwards. Strange isn’t it? But I might have skipped the part where I had added a few bit of prayers in making this work.

I am getting tired of relationships and if Huge doesn’t work, I had promised myself that I am done. I would pay attention on my work and think of how to establish a lucrative business venture—perhaps a model agency.

A 2006 Jeep Wrangler parked outside and Huge stood by the door. Huge can be possessive: he loves to take control. Earlier on, he had told me to skip fancy gowns and put on jeans and t-shirt. At first, I was like “for real?” I thought he might be scared as fancy gowns would send a strong message to his inside for having a committed relationship. But I am not really fussy about this, I appreciate his thoughts and if he loves me to be in this, I would be in it gladly.

The Jeep sparked to life after we had fastened our seatbelts. The incombustible smoke escaped freely from the exhaust pipe. I dipped a cube of chocolate in my mouth again, twiddling on my tongue.

“Thanks for the chocolates. I have been enjoying it since morning.”

“Is that what you having?” he beamed. “I thought by now you ought to have finished it?”

“Silly you, how can I finish that whole box?”

“Well, Adam could also have a bite”

“Oh yeah! He is not with me but with my mother.”

“That is good. I would love to see him soon.”

Wow! Did I just hear him right? He wants to see my boy? I swallowed in the creamy caramel and relished the cool wind as it blew my hair. The night wore on into a thick night and flashes of light passed by.

“Where are we going by the way?”

“You would know soon,” he smiled. “Give me some chocolates, would you?”

“No, the chocolates are for me. Just me.” We laughed.

Merissa

I blinked several times thinking I had read it all wrong. Who does he really think he is to command me to wear a cheap gown he got and order me to be at a place? What the nerve? I cleared my table at once, almost wasn’t sure what I was doing. I thought to myself I wouldn’t worry much about this. This is a total waste of time. He had first chosen to hide his identity and telling me to reveal myself. I grabbed the intercom at once, about to dial a number, then it occurred to me I don’t even know whom to call. My friends: Araba had decided to go along with the game plan I initiated without my notice; Askaline is having a disruptive relationship, and Shantel, Ha! I know what she would say —go ahead girlfriend; you need to know who the stranger is, you would never forgive yourself if you don’t go. Shantel might be right, I wouldn’t know him. I guess I ought to go and if it ends up being Luis, there wouldn’t be anything that would change my mind.

I thrust for the card and glanced on the notes. The words on the card were short but I read it many times.

La Palms it is.

I had the whole day thrown into garbage as I couldn’t do any quality work. I kept on crossing out and crossing out on the paper till I got furious. The only thing I could do was to close early and get home. I left the gifts at the office as they made me felt miserable. I reached home at 4pm and welcomed by a silent house.

Mother hadn’t gotten home yet. I took the flight upstairs to my room and fell on the bed with a dull thud. With the sweetness of the air playing a lullaby in my ears and my body lolled sideways, I drifted to sleep.

A pearly white sky illuminated Luis face in the corner. He kneeled and begged me but I turned a deaf ear to his pleas. In a cold fist, I held a berretta trained at him. My hands and my feeble heart in a stifled conflict and frozen to take a decision; kill him, the voice rung in my head. Will you rather see him cry or just pull the trigger? His tears transported me into a state of revulsion, flaring my anger more.

A gun shot fired.

The sound jolted me out of sleep. I felt beads of sweat on my temple with the back of my hand. I dismounted the bed and headed for the shower immediately.

A mere shower couldn’t help my situation. I decided to go for the date. I really wish I had my friends to support me at least have the knowledge of whom I’m with, one cannot trust men these days, I mulled about it. Then it occurred to me that La Palms is a public place and nothing unthinkable can happen. I would scream if I find anything fishy. It better not be Luis, my head throbbed in a gnawing pain.

To send a strong message to him that I wasn’t a lady he could toil with, I opted to wear a blue tiffany gown which had my back bared. I spent quality time in applying excellent makeup. I checked my mother’s room for the Jaguar’s key. I found it, headed for outside and drove to La Palms with the view of the birds chirping and flying in packs in the sunset sky. The silky voice from the radio presenter giving the 6’O clock news breathed into the car.

I got to the carwash to have the car clean. By the time they were done with the car, the time rung 7pm. I continued my ride and touched down at La Palms at exactly 7; 45pm.

La Palms had great scenery beholding an exquisite hotel, casino, sport club and restaurant. It also lived up to it name with the giant palm trees having their fan-feathered leaves swaying in a bit to say, enjoying the evening weather. An enormous parking space dedicated to customers and they were all occupied except for one which I barely got, had to speed my way in getting it.

I switched the engine off and came out of the car.

Shantel

We drove for forty minutes and we appeared on the H1N1 Spintex road. Huge took a curve leading us to the magnificent Villagio Vista Heights which boasted of a 27 storey building.

“I thought Villagio vista only has luxury apartments?” I asked.

“Yes it does” he said.

“So why are we here then?” I crossed my hand in desperation.

“I live here.”

“You live here,” my eyes widened in disbelief.

The lavender smell from the swaying flowers greeted us as we touched down from the vehicle. We took the lift elevating us to the very top. Those seconds we spent alone in the lift, I bit my lower lip anytime I stared at him. I wanted him to come close to me and grab my swelling breast and hush me with a kiss. Frankly, I wish men could read my mind, it makes life easier. I wouldn’t have to say much and men would understand anything I want.

“We are there,” he said.

I turned and sulked, twisted my lips like a child that needed sweets. But for some funny reasons which I couldn’t explain, I thought Huge might be playing everything: he knew perfectly well what I really wanted and added it to his cue waiting for the right moment.

My eyes helped by capturing images from every angle but tried my best not to be close to the banisters. I’d seen Villagio Vista always anytime I am in the Accra Mall. I have drooled about been in such a place and here I am.

It boasted of a splendid view at the top with swimming pool and fern trees, and the colorful streaks of light on the road moved at an amazing speed. The chilly climes sent my body shivering, and while we walked I noticed a dinner table had been set for the two of us.

I let out a scream.

Merissa

I ambled to the restaurant section. I checked my watch and I was 10 minutes early. I probably might not meet him. Nevertheless, I trudged ahead to have a word with the attendant if she could be kind to show me my table.

She stood with a tablet on her hand having a name tag on her breast pocket. Two qualities of her shone brightly into my eyes; her white set of teeth and her curly hair.

“Good evening madam. You are welcome to La Palms,” she greeted.

“Thank you. Please I have a reservation for dinner at 8pm,” I checked my time again.”

“Please can you confirm your name to me so I check?”

“Merissa Mensah”

“Meriiissa Men-saah,” she drawled.

“I have your name here for table 46.”

“Please show me”

She walked with me to the table. As we passed table 44, a man dressed in suit was seated 2 tables away with his back view only in sight. Who could that be? That can’t be Luis, I felt uneasy in my stomach. Judging his broad trunk which reminded me of Luis made me recoiled. With few steps more, I could see the size of his head and finally I got to table 46 and the man stared into my eyes. My legs went numb.

Fifty Shades of Grey | Review

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SPOILER ALERT

I will admit it. I have read all three books in the Fifty Shades of Grey series.

I am not admitting this because I am ashamed of my sexual desires or even because I feel the need to rant and rave about the poor writing quality of these books. (And it is extremely poor. I set my Kindle to count how many times the word “gasp” is used in the third book and the total was more than 70). I am admitting this because I feel the need to share my opinions about what I consider to be the incredibly — and dangerously — abusive relationship portrayed in the books.

When I first heard about Fifty Shades of Grey and learned they began as Twilight fanfiction, I swore I would not read them. I have read all of the Twilight books and I did not enjoy them. I found the relationships between Edward and Bella and Bella and Jacob to be patronizing and emotionally abusive, and I also thought the writing was pedestrian at best and boring to read. Why would I devote the limited amount of time I have for reading for pleasure to a series like this?

But as the dialogue about Fifty Shades of Grey increased, both in the media and amongst my friends, my curiosity was piqued. I attended a talk titled “Fifty Shades of Grey – Bad for Women, Bad for Sex” and decided that I should see what all the fuss was about.

To quote the book, I gasped. I rolled my eyes. I even bit my lip a few times. But not for the reasons Anastasia, the protagonist, did. I did out of exasperation, boredom and disgust, but also out of fear. After reading this book series, I am deeply afraid that this type of relationship will be viewed as the romantic ideal for women. And I consider that to be extremely dangerous — much more so than anything that takes place between Christian and Anastasia in the Red Room of Pain.

Could the character of Anastasia Steele be any more of a stereotype? She is an introvert, has low self-esteem, has abandonment issues from her father, apparently has only one close friend who bullies her and even though she works in a hardware store, she doesn’t seem to possess any self-sufficiency aside from cooking for her roommate and herself. She seems to have no sexual identity until Christian Grey enters her life and requests that she become his Submissive in a sexual relationship.

In order to be Christian’s submissive, Anastasia is expected to sign a lengthy and detailed contract that, amongst other requirements, requires that she exercise four days a week with a trainer that Christian provides (and who will report to Christian on her progress), eat only from a list of foods Christian supplies her with, get eight hours of sleep a night and begin taking a form of birth control so Christian will not have to wear condoms. Anastasia negotiates a few terms of the contract with Christian (she only wants to work out three days a week, not four), but all of her negotiations are only within his framework — none of the terms are hers independently. Nothing in their relationship is hers as an independent.

The character of Christian Grey is a rich, superpowered businessman who was abused as a child. He is in therapy, and Anastasia frequently references his therapist, but based on how he treats Anastasia, he doesn’t seem to be making much progress. As Anastasia’s relationship with Christian progresses, his controlling tendencies affect her life more and more. When her friend takes portraits of her for his photography exhibit, Christian buys all of them, because he does not want anyone else looking at Anastasia. (They weren’t even in a relationship when he did this.) When she is hired as an assistant at a publishing company, he buys the company — to make sure she’s “safe” working there. When she goes out to a bar with her one friend, against his wishes, he flies from New York to Washington State that same night, just to express his anger — and exercise his control over her. When she does not immediately change her name at her office (in hopes of maintaining some professional autonomy, given that he bought the company she works at), he shows up, unannounced, at her office, in the middle of her workday, to pick a fight with her. When she asks why it is so important to him that she change her name, he says he wants everyone to know she is his.

Christian’s possession of Anastasia is the cause of much of my disgust and fear of the book’s influence on people and how they view romantic relationships. After they exchange their wedding vows, the first words he says to her are, “Finally, you’re mine.” The control he exercises over her does not reflect his love for her; it reflects his objectifying of her. Christian never views Anastasia as a person, let alone an independent woman. He wants her to obey him, and even though she refuses to include that in her wedding vows, it is exactly what she does. When her mother questions her choice to keep her wedding dress on rather than change before traveling for her honeymoon, she says, “Christian likes this dress, and I want to please him.” Her desire to try some of the “kinky fuckery” in his Red Room of Pain comes from wanting to demonstrate her love for him, not her own sexual desires.

Wanting to please Christian apparently includes subjecting herself to verbal and emotional abuse from him ’til death do them part, because any time she tries to stand up to him — which isn’t often — he berates her, guilt trips her and beats her down verbally until she apologizes and submits to him. After she uses the “safe word” in the Red Room of Pain so he will stop, he bemoans his sad state of mind later, mentioning that his “wife fucking safe worded him.” He is not concerned with her well-being or why she felt the need to use the safe word. He only cares about how it affects him.

The question that I kept asking myself as I read the books was why Anastasia stayed with Christian, and the answer I found was that she has absolutely no sense of self worth. She only feels sexy when he says she is, and when he insults or patronizes her, she accepts what he says as the truth. One of the passages that disgusted me the most was when Anastasia was at a club with Christian, dancing and thinking to herself that she never felt sexy before she met him and that he had given her confidence in her body. Yes, being with a partner who frequently compliments you can increase your confidence, but Anastasia went from zero to one hundred thanks to Christian. None of that came from within herself. Because of his influence on her, nothing in her life came from herself — her job, her home, her way of life, or even her self-esteem.

The co-dependency between Anastasia and Christian is alarming to read and even more to contemplate. When she breaks up with him at the end of the first book, the second book finds her starving herself and wasting away to nothing until he contacts her again. When she thinks his helicopter has crashed in the second book, she thinks to herself that she can’t live without him. Their marriage only comes about because he is scared she will leave him, and when she asks what she can do to prove to him she isn’t going anywhere, he says she can marry him. Yes, origins of insecurity and desperation are a great start to a healthy marriage.

When Anastasia finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and shares the news with Christian, he rages at her, asking if she did it on purpose and storming out of the house, disappearing for hours. Even though Anastasia thinks to herself that the pregnancy happened too soon in their marriage, she never considers terminating it.

The themes of the novel — that love alone can make someone change, that abuse from a spouse is acceptable as long as he’s great in bed, that pregnancies should always be carried to term even if the parents are not ready to be parents, and the ridiculously antiquated, Victorian idea that the love of a pure virgin can save a wayward man from himself — are irrational, unbelievable and dangerous.

Our culture has seen a radical shift of ideals moving towards traditional gender roles and Fifty Shades of Grey is a shining example of that. Early marriage to one’s first sexual partner, having a baby even when saying neither of the partners is ready to be a parent, and submission to one’s husband as the head of the household are all aspects of life that feminists and progressive thinkers have worked to move beyond. Anastasia and Christian’s relationship is not romantic. It is abusive. The ways he tries to “keep her safe” are not masculine or sexy. They are stalking. Fearing one’s husband’s reaction to an unexpected pregnancy is not normal, because “boys will be boys.” It is sad and dangerous and should not happen in a healthy relationship.

Fifty Shades of Grey was one of the best-selling books of the year. Sex toy classes have been inspired by it, as have new types of cocktails. The film adaptation is already in the works. I sincerely hope that honest discussion will be had about the book and that the Christian Grey ideal of romance is not one that will be perpetuated throughout our culture. The best way that can happen is through open, honest dialogue that leads to healthy relationships of two equal partners. That, in my opinion, is sexier than anything that can happen in the Red Room of Pain.