We went down the spiral stairs to Shoprite.
“How about you grab the wine and I’ll get some smoked chicken?” Cynthia asked.
“Okay. Meet you at the checkout counter?”
“Sure thing.” She smiled and turned away. I lingered a moment watching her walk down the aisle and turn left, away from my view.
I walked to the wine section and read labels, checking grape, region and year. I had a bottle of Riesling and a bottle of Merlot in each hand trying to decide when I heard “Take the white, drop the red.”
I almost dropped both bottles; I didn’t hear her walk up behind me.
“It’s an excellent wine, to be sure, but I’m not sure the woody bouquet will sit well with the smoked chicken.”
I turned to look at her as if for the first time, impressed.
“What do you not know?”
“If this night doesn’t go too well, you may never find out,” she winked. “No pressure.”
“Please feel at home,” she said when we got to her place before disappearing through a door. I set the bottle down on the glass-topped coffee table and skirted the bean bag, settling instead for the cane chair facing the entrance door.
The door she went through was to my left, and through it I could make out another door to the right that opened into the kitchen.
“I’ll be with you in a minute,” she called from what I suspected was the bedroom.
I heard fabric rustle, and then she came from opposite the kitchen and stood momentarily framed in the doorway. She had changed out of her dress and was now wearing very short shorts and a yellow tank top. Her glasses were back, round and thick.
She took the bottle of wine and popped it in the fridge.
“Dinner should be ready in forty minutes or less, that should be enough time to chill the wine. Meanwhile, that remote control there is for the tv, the other,” she pointed, “is for the DStv. Please feel at home.” And she was gone, through the door to the kitchen.
I loosened the top two buttons of my shirt, rolled up my sleeves, crossed my feet and leaned back in the chair. I flicked on the tv, and while the decoder was scanning, I followed her movements in the kitchen.
How did I get here? What am I doing here?
After a while I went and leaned against the kitchen door post. We talked while she worked; we talked about everything.
Well, she talked while I fought the urge to wrap my arms around her slim waist…
And do what?
Dinner was soon ready. She dished the meals onto separate plates, asking how much I wanted. I got the wine from the freezer.
“Where’s the corkscrew?” I asked.
“In the drawer over there,” she pointed with her chin.
She sat in the bean bag, her legs tucked beneath her. We talked as we ate, and after I had shovelled the last spoon of rice into my mouth I sat back to enjoy the wine.
It was just the right amount of sweet, and chill. The room was lit only by the bluish white light from the tv.
We sat for long moments in silence, not the awkward kind, but a comfortable one.
“How are the knots in your neck?” I asked.
“Still there o. And not just my neck, my back as well.”
We lapsed into silence, the flickering images from the tv bathing us in sometimes grotesque patterns.
“I’ll soon be leaving,” I said, my voice thick.
“What’s your hurry?” she was looking at me over the rim of her wine glass.
“Hurry? No hurry. It’s just that I have a test to prepare for tomorrow.”
It’s just that I don’t trust myself with you like this.
“Test?” she cocked an eyebrow. “I thought it’s a training.”
“Ye.. yes,” I stuttered, “the facilitator said something about testing our understanding of what we did today.”
I could see she didn’t believe me.
“Okay,” she said after what seemed like an eternity. “Would you like me to call you a cab?”
“Haba, are you chasing me?” I felt a shift and I tried to recover. “I’m not leaving immediately.” I looked at my watch. “I’m still here for another thirty minutes, if you’ll have me.”
She held my gaze a moment before she smiled. The shift was gone. I smiled back.
“Will I see you again?” she asked before I got into the cab.
“Tomorrow okay by you?” I asked?
“Tomorrow works just fine,” she said. “You still owe me a massage.”
I made to give her a quick hug, but she leaned in and brushed her lips against my left cheek. Soft lips gave a feathery caress that left my cheek burning where they touched.
I almost paid off the cab, but common sense prevailed.
The red light on my room phone was flashing, the only light in the darkness as I walked in. I inserted my key card in the slot against the wall and white light flooded the room.
“Hi Bobo this is Rolayo, call me when you get in. No, it doesn’t matter what time you get in, just please call me…”
There was a pause at the end like she was going to say something else, thought better of it and hung up.
I checked the time, 21:57. I didn’t know Rolayo’s room number – she told me at lunch and I promptly forgot it.
I was stepping out of the shower when the phone rang.
“Hello,” I said, cradling the handset against my cheek while rubbing my hair dry.
“I told you to call me when you got back, why didn’t you?”
I couldn’t tell her I forgot her room number.
“I only just got back and then took a shower. I’m actually fresh from the shower…”
“See? If you’d called me when you came in maybe I would have helped you soap your back.”
“Maybe next time,” I chuckled.
“Maybe. Meanwhile, you got any new movies on your laptop?”
“Errr… a few, why?”
“Okay, I’m coming to copy them. Can’t sleep.”
She hung up before I could protest.
I was struggling into a pair of joggers when I heard my mobile phone vibrate.
– Hey sweetie, did you still make it to Abuja?