The dark cold room lit with white light from the Television was remarkably quiet but the warm masculine breath fanning my head told me he was awake and looking at me before I raised my eyes.
“Awake?” his voice so soft and low, almost seductive if I were susceptible like some spring wet chicken.
“Yes” I answered him with my head on his chest. Hard and warm, I was tempted to wrap my hands around him for a better feel.
I was lying beside him on the large soft bed with my clothes on and shoes off. ‘Did he help remove my shoes?’ I scanned my fuggy memory. I remembered getting into bed 5 hours ago with his urging amidst fake tears meant to dissuade him from asking questions that had ‘jail-like’ answers. Telling him I killed a man wasn’t going to happen.
Vince was dangerously getting too close for comfort; persistent with his good guy façade and strong arms that promised safety and something else I wasn’t ready to define. When was he going to show his testosterone horns? All men had those and I waited for the day I’d have a look at it. I knew he wasn’t taken with the story but I was at my wit’s end when I came up with the husband-abused-me-story with familiar variables and supported it with tears that flow like Ikogosi warm spring in Ekiti state.
He had held me so close and slow-danced me into feigning tiredness when I felt too comfortable in his arms that were wrapped around my waist in a possessive but harmless grip. Why! I was getting giddy with excitement as I felt his strong thighs brush against mine, his chest rubbing my nipples.
“You are so peaceful when you sleep” he whispered as a conspirator would, his eyes soft and dreamy. I gave a small smile, lowering my gaze. Why was I allowing myself get this close? Why was I comfortable in a man’s arms? They were all abusers and here I was betraying all I stood against – a breathing male. I made to get up.
“Please, don’t leave” he begged, his hand finding my waist. It was 4:37am.
“Please” I felt his hand wrap around my waist, pulling me tighter and burying his head in my neck. I froze.
“What are you doing?” it was almost a whisper.
“You smell so good” he murmured.
“And warm” he was breathing in my scent and the warm sensation that pooled at the tip of my breasts sent red signals up my brain as he kissed my neck in a caress.
“Vince!” I called in alarm, trying to get him off me.
“I know” he sounded grumpy.
“That is ticklish” I laughed; pushing him away as he licked my earlobe.
“I was hoping you’d laugh”
“And why?” I said extracting myself.
“I love it when you laugh. You hardly laugh” he said as he placed another kiss under my earlobe. I jumped. He laughed.
“So jumpy” he said as I got away from his arms.
“Guilty” I said suddenly self-conscious. Was my hair untidy? My black liner spilling? My lips cracked?
“You can be the woman on top” he said and I turned sharply at his meaning. He laughed as I used my pillow to hit him.
“Hey! It was a joke….if you don’t want to take it serious” he winked and I hit him again.
“I am sorry!” he laughed now, grabbing the pillow with force. I lost my stamina and fell on him, his hands swiftly wrapping me around the waist as I laid down on him.
“Vince” I called solemnly.
“I know” he smiled as we locked gazes.
“Can I go now?” I asked after the long silence.
“I like you on top” he teased.
“Let me up” I fidgeting.
“Keep on doing that and you’d have yourself to blame” he teased some more.
“Oh Vince! Stop it” I sounded pathetic, almost as if puberty happened yesterday. In a swift move, he was on top of me and I almost screamed; laughing and struggling to get him off me. A playful struggle ensued and soon I had my hands pinned to the headboard.
“You look so sexy down there” he called, breathing high.
“You need to know how to treat a lady”
“Oh! I know how. I need your permission”
“You are incorrigible!”
“English” he retorted as I struggled to get him off. I laughed, breathing high. I could only imagine how he’d take my chest rising and falling with hands pinned up. And why wasn’t I hyperventilating?
“Let me up” I demanded. He must have noticed the serious tone and was up.
The room was quiet as I made it to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. Raising my eyes to meet his, I saw him approach slowly and the air got tighter. He stopped behind me; his hands going round my waist.
“You make me hot Debbie” our eyes fixed.
Almost hypnotic, I turned in his hands with his prod.
“Let me kiss you” he whispered against my lips and I let him. A rush of air escaped my tensed lungs. This was not me. Why was I so pouted in his hands? He was a man for Christ sakes!
The gentle slip of his tongue, deep penetrating and rhythmic sucking of our mouth was getting me hot. I wanted him! Gosh! I wanted this. With hands around his neck and tip toeing to get myself pressed against him, I heard myself moan as his hands brushed my breasts. It was the wake up all.
“No” I grunted getting my limbs off him and walking out of the bathroom with face so hot I wanted to deep in a bucket of ice.
I was acting like a senseless teenager and I hated myself for it. This was the last time I was going to allow myself get this close to him.
I was older.
He was my boss’s son.
He was a male.
“Debbie” he called sadly.
I stopped to look at him with my bag and shoes in one hand and the room key in the other.
“I am sorry Vince. I can’t do this” and I was out.
“Black, would you come into my office” it was Mr. Fatasho on Monday morning. ‘No sir, I won’t’ I answered in my head. Sunday had been quiet and depressing as I tried to ignore the sweet sensations traveling up my spine each time I remembered his strong hands on me. Hands that were next door. The girls had given me a melon-sized headache with a Skype chat that Uloma and Tina trying out lingerie and gowns for a gala night. Their breasts spilling out of the small sized gowns and bra had Eva and Sandra laughing so hard they pounded me on the head with throw pillows. I joined in after a while but had gone to bed early pleading migraine.
Now as I headed to Mr. Fatasho’s office, I remembered the grunt he gave early Sunday morning after I apologized for my disappearance. He had simply waved it off. I was tensed. Was I going to be fired for having a thing with his son? Demoted maybe? Warned off? What did he want so early? No more Vincent! I matched purposely.
“Good morning Sir” I greeted curtly, in long black trousers and poker dotted chiffon blouse tucked in tightly at the waist, I looked like a corporate cougar in ponytail. Maybe I was. My heels clicked the marble tiles in his office in smart steps as I approached.
“Morning. Please seat. I don’t suppose you have met Mr. Kole McGregor” he said leisurely as I noticed the fair skinned handsome man in the smartest of suit sitting in front of him.
“I haven’t” I said directing a polite nod at the man whose eyes were greyish blue with the pinkest of lips contrasting his black hair and nicely manicured thick side beards that looked like carpet grass – unusual for a white man.
“Well, I am too old to make introductions. Kole, this is the lady you should feature” he was saying. I simply stared at him, finally breathing. I wasn’t getting fired or warned off.
“Please call me Kole” the man said in the brightest of smiles, extending his hand for a shake.
“Debbie” I replied taking it.
“So can I leave the office Sir?” Mr. Fatasho said playfully getting up and placing his white cap on his head.
“No Sir” the mixed race man named Kole said in an entitled laugh getting up in a traditional bow. It was obviously a private meeting, the type where the son of his friend asked a personal favor instead of working for it. I briefly wondered what I had to do with it.
“Well, good luck to you. Debbie, do oblige him please?” he said as he waved us out. I was up and out in record time, almost hissing out loud. Fowl was my mood.
“I must say you come highly recommended” he was saying as I headed for the elevator down, simmering and working the heels. ‘Maybe I should break a tile’ a rebellious thought.
I didn’t need to be in their little meeting but he had called me anyway. Of course I knew who Kole McGregor was. An international designer and surprisingly an A-list producer of an entrepreneurial reality TV show who thought the world of himself and was constantly in the news about creating SMEs for the unemployed without Government support. ‘McGregor, a man after Africa’s heart’ he was called. He was getting unnecessary publicity that was akin to idol worship and the mere fact that he never failed to use his “McGregorian” aka white-DNA heritage in each interview I ever had the misfortune of watching pissed me off. The last thing I needed was some arrogant international designer and TV showman disrupting my Monday.
“I still think the special appearance wasn’t necessary” I said biting my tongue.
“And she has a good sense of humor. My kind of woman” I rolled my eyes, precisely what I expected from a showman.
“So what exactly am I to do for you again?” I asked as we entered the elevator.
“I am lucky to produce ‘Impresario’ and I need new judges for next season. I want you on it”
“Am I that qualified?” I asked with a small pretentious smile that got stuck in my throat. I hated the job already.
“More than I’d hope for” he replied my sarcasm.
“Then I shall oblige” I stressed sweetly using Mr. Fatasho’s word. He laughed again. The sounded surprisingly friendly and infectious.
“Nice view” he commented as we entered my office.
“It never gets old” I said, trying politeness as he walked to stand by the large glass wall.
“I may be tempted to share your office” he said. ‘God no go gree’ I thought in pidgin.
“So a judge huh?” I said in a haste to get started on the numerous emails in my box. Reports from the companies we visited had started coming in and I need to get them appraised as soon as possible. A new advert for the paper company was ready and needed a final yes from me. Of course the old bald M.D had problem with that but a little call from Mr. Fatasho had put things in place. I clicked the attachments and watched it as it downloaded.
“Yes, I am hopeful you’d consider”
“My consideration went out the window when I was called up for the handover, don’t you think” I couldn’t hide my displeasure of the little heel exercise to Mr. Fatasho’s office just to be told to ‘oblige’.
“How Nigeria works. Na man no man” he tried pidgin in funny accent.
“I bet the British hardly do that” I couldn’t hold the sarcasm. He caught it.
“I am sorry I didn’t come directly. I had my reasons” he said taking the seat in front of my desk.
“One actually, I was told you hate my guts” he joked.
“And they might be unto to something” I smiled, opening the attachment.
“I think you have done a phenomena job with businesses in the last decade. I studied your portfolio and we’d be honored to have you on the show” he sounded serious now but there was one thing, I was fine hiding in the shadows. There was no way I was going to be a judge…not with his circus activities.
“Thank you Mr. McGregor…”
“…Kole but I don’t like Television. Perhaps a tutor for your contestants?” I said simply. I never would have considered this if it were not Mr. Fatasho’s indirect order.
“I suppose that will work”
“Without pictures on your websites and prints” I quickly added. I was concerned about the unwanted spotlight this would bring and would speak to Mr. Fatasho later. Perhaps some other person would take this cup from me.
“Now that will be discussed over dinner” he said, a little smile revealing his dimples. He rather looked cute.
“Of course” I said, raising my eyes from my screen.
“Would you mind having my driver pick you up at 7pm?” he was on his feet.
“That would be lovely” I shook his outstretched hand. It was impossibly soft unlike Vince’s.
“I am going to need your address” he said with a little wink dropping his card, I chuckled.
“I will have Idris send it” and I stood up to walk him out.
“I appreciate you doing this”
“Don’t be so sure” I joked. A little peck as we stood outside the office and the look on Idris’s face scared the hell out of me. With a scowl so deep and intense, I waved the showman out the door.
What was that look for?
The large rain drops dampened me as I dashed into Anonymous – Harold’s bar and restaurant. John was rather surprised at my request to have the limping man who I now knew as Caleb deliver all my orders from now on. John, Harold’s skinny manager was my little man and did exactly he was told.
“Hey man! You didn’t tell me you were coming. What are you doing here? Come, let’s catch up in my office” I swallowed a groan as Harold walked into the reception. He joked all the way to his littered office and offered me a beer from his huge fridge.
“Naa! I am going back to the office. Stopped to make an order” I lied. I was going home.
“Suit yourself” he said taking a beer and popping it opened with his teeth.
“So how is Ann? Still hiring private detectives?” I joked as I sat on his dusty chair. At first it was fun to shake off the tails and play smart but when she pointed a gun at his previous genitals after her subtle food poisoning tactic did not work, Harold was sure his days of having free sex was over. Boy was I glad! I couldn’t use a clipper after he had a shave and he almost always needed to use my clipper back in the days.
“Mehn! I don lock up! My guy, I nor fit try pim! She go just castrate me one time and God didn’t give me good junk to have it blown off by crazy Benin girl” he said laughing. I joined in. Ann was his antidote but she was killing him. He was frustrated and it showed.
“I guess you have it under control now” I teased and he stoned me with a tennis ball he found from his drawer.
“It is hard though” he said looking at the wall and I nodded. Harold lived for the ladies.
“I bet it is”
“How is Ele? Still your best man?” he asked brightly, sucking on the bottle so hard I thought it would crack.
“Nah! She called it off”
“What?! She broke your heart? I thought she was the one”
“Now I am not going to get a tuxedo. I was hoping for a new tux” he said heavily in between belch as he walked to the fridge to get another bottle. He was spotting a big stomach and losing his clean happy look. Harold was becoming a drunk and I didn’t like the look of frustration he was trying so hard to hide.
“If it makes you feel better, I think I might have found the one” I watched him bite the can off and began sucking on the content like breast milk. Debbie’s breast flashed my mind and I flinched. I had to get out of here.
“Really? I was hoping you would not” he said sadly, taking another long draw from the unfortunate bottle.
“Might have” I stressed.
“I hope so. You, my man don’t need love. Love threatens your junk” I was on my feet. A pity speech was next and I wasn’t one to listen to him spill. Alex had called off his wedding after one afternoon session with Harold. I wasn’t about to get sucked in.
“Leaving?” he looked at me.
“Got to get that new love to lunch” I lied.
“I knew it. A bloody leech” and that was my cue. I was out.
Caleb brought the delivery at past 6pm, Debbie was home but Sandra came down instead. I was rooting for her to get the door as I watched from my front door. I was disappointed as I saw Sandra open the door and caught me before I could close my door. She waved coming over as she collected the package and dismissed him. Caleb was out soon and I was left to entertain Sandra. Bugger!
“So I have dinner. Thanks to you” she said
“I think I ordered for two” I corrected.
“Debbie won’t be eating. She has a date! Getting prepared for some special person” she winked and I found myself grinding my teeth. What date? With who? Not after the kiss at the suite.
“And the date has no name?” I tried humor as I walked up to my kitchen, Sandra trailing behind.
“Some really nice and tall hunk she says. A British too….Debbie likes exotic men” she joked.
“I certainly hope so” I answered as I stood at the sink, losing my appetite. This was crazy but I was beginning to get unnecessarily jealous. The thought of having another man smile at her, hold her or look at her made my blood boil. What was it about that woman that got me so rattled?
“So let’s have our own date right here” it was Sandra coming close.
“I have work to do over dinner” I said almost to myself. Do I follow her? That would be weird and stupid.
“Doesn’t matter. I’d love to watch you eat and work. I am too lonely anyways and I am beginning to consider going back to Port Harcourt if I get really lonely” she said as I felt her arms around my waist. I stilled.
“And what do you think you are you doing? I asked trying to dislodge her hands.
“I like you obviously. I know we have history but I am no longer that girl. I have grown, changed and I am stable. I am clean Vince. Please just hold me” she said with pleading eyes. This was absolutely ridiculous. I wasn’t about to be dragged into some love soap opera, was I?
“And I like Debbie. We can’t be together Sandra. Yes, a friend we can be but let it be clear, I am not interested in you” I said as she dropped her hands but not stepping away.
“Alright then. A kiss”
“Just one kiss and I promise never to bother you again”
“I promise” she said, already tilting her head.
“I can’t do that”
“You want Debbie or not?” she asked. I looked at her and knew what that implied.
With eyes closed, I brought my lips to touch hers as her slender hands wrapped around my neck, massaging the back of my head in total abandon. She tasted of mint as her tongue entangled with mine. What I had planned to be quick kiss turned slow as pressed her body into mine. I reached down to her waist to peel her from me when I heard her voice.
“Ah! Sweet” she was standing at the kitchen entrance with long legs and smiling with bright red lips. She looked gorgeous and I was instantly jealous of the faceless date.
“Debbie!” I called, almost cursing out loud. And why was she smiling?
“You are done?” it was Sandra, licking her lips. I wanted to slap her so hard; the thought of violence scared me.
“Yes. I wanted to tell you I took your purse and say hello to Vince” she said, looking at the food pack on the slab after giving me a heated look.
“Coming back tonight?” it was Sandra.
“Not sure. Is that food?” she said, totally oblivious to my presence. What do I say? ‘Not what you think?’ That sounded so lame and generic.
There was a reason I hated soap operas.
“Yes” I croaked.
“I am so hungry” she said as she walked over to open it. One peppered gizzard disappearing into her mouth before her phone rang.
“Madam, your car is here” it was the guard.
“Oh! Let him in”
She chewed and took another.
“Thank God!” she hurriedly chewed before putting the second gizzard in her mouth.
“So eager huh?” I couldn’t resist.
“I bet you two are eager too. I am going to leave you two to it. Have mercy on him” she winked at Sandra and was gone before I could get a reply in. How in the hell did I not hear her climb up the stairs?
“Make sure I get her” I said in contained anger pointing at Sandra who stood with a satisfied looked on her face as I left my kitchen and headed to my room.
There was no way I was letting another man get his hands on her.
It was decided. Debbie was going to be my woman and nothing was going to stop me from having her.
I couldn’t get her out of my head. The quick unsubtle way she dismissed me and the discreet refusal to be part of the show both annoyed me and impressed me. It was a breath of fresh air to have a woman treats me with such aloofness….I missed the days when I was spoken to like a human and not some god. Goge was right about her. If there was ever a woman who didn’t give a damn about name, appearances and worth, it was Debbie Black. It was going to be harder than I thought convincing her to marry me.
“I am sorry I couldn’t meet you at the house” I said as she stepped out of my black Lincoln Navigator I sent over to her house in simmering black sleeveless top that opened to reveal robust cleavage and free multicolored cotton trousers accessorized in cream-colored high wedges and a long single golden neck chain that accentuated her long neck and bouncy mounds. Her hair wrapped in black tie and lips bright red like Marilyn Munroe’s, I drew in my breath. She was absolutely beautiful and for the first time I doubted if I was doing the right thing.
“You would rather welcome me in faded knee-length jeans trousers?” she dissed me and I laughed. The choice of trousers was deliberate. The meeting at the office had convinced of the need to play the white-guy card down if I was going to get her on board plus I was pretty much tired of the suits and high class restaurants anyway. This was my last ‘recruitment dinner’ and it looked like it was going to end well.
“I was cooking!” I said, taking her hand like an old friend. I felt a little hesitation before she relaxed.
“Beans or microwaving your chef’s dinner” she said as we walked slowly to the house. I laughed harder. She was funny.
“You are such a delight” I volunteered, stepping aside to let her in to my 5bedroom guesthouse in Asokoro.
“If you must know, I happen to be a chef. Certified too” I continued trying hard to keep my banter without specifics; I didn’t want to come off like some conceited TV mogul who was a chef and an international designer. Goge was sure I was one.
“I think I believe you” she said as I held the door opened for her.
“More like a thing white men with black blood use to win African women over” she said with a straight face. It was refreshingly ridiculous and I laughed so hard I gave a cough.
“I may have to argue that over food. A good topic for a long night” I followed. She gave a nod.
“You really have a thing for the arts” she noticed as her eyes roamed my living space.
“That will be my ex” I answered truthfully.
“Ah! A truthful man” she said with a genuine smile.
“I suppose I like the idea of truth and freedom” I said going over to pour her a drink.
“What is this?!” she said as soon as she tasted the strawberry squeeze with a dash of cream, gin, fresh ginger and pineapple.
“Like it?” I asked looking her over my glass rim.
“Love it!” she exclaimed taking another sip of the mix.
“I am a chef after all” I teased and she laughed freely; her eyes wide with amusement and her long lashes fanning her long nose. Gosh! I could get used to looking at her.
“Officially my best drink buddy” she wrinkled her nose and I laughed.
“You should reconsider your stance on the show” I chipped in.
“I may have to reconsider dinner totally” she eyed me.
“I’d hate to have to eat alone”. I knew what she meant. Tonight was not going to be about me buttering her up to be a judge but something more.
“I am glad we understand ourselves” she said feigning British accent; an imitation.
“I do not sound like that!” I laughed and she joined in.
“I didn’t say so” she laughed freely as I pulled a chair for her and made to serve dinner.
“So, what really is being a judge on your show all about?” she asked after the first spoon of the spicy chicken cacciatore.
“Impressed that much?” I raised a brow and she laughed again.
“No certificate in sight, no chef making appearances… I am willing to concede. Excellent meal Mr. McGregor” she said impishly, taking another forkful.
“Thank you but I am afraid being a judge on the show was just part of the proposal”
“Now I know why this meal tastes like Jacob’s porridge” she said looking at me through her lashes. I caught my breath again; God! She was beautiful.
“I don’t see Esau in sight, unless of course you waxed your hairy legs and hands” I joked, taking a sip of my drink.
“By all means, do tell. What is the part two of your proposal?” she asked as she took another fork, chewing seductively.
“Marry me” I blurted out without second thoughts. I was sure, she was the one.