As the group waded across a shallow stream filled with rocks in the climb to the pool, Dunni missed her footing and nice smile was suddenly beside her. Forced to take his hand to keep from falling her skin tingled when he gripped her palm firmly. After a couple of steps, she looked up into his face. There was a frown of concentration on his forehead but as if he felt her gaze, he turned an open and admiring stare on her. He wanted her and he did not mind if she knew it. In fact, he wanted her to know it. Dunni snatched her hand away. She did not want to know, she wasn’t in the mood for any vacation fling and it was obvious that was the only thing she knew his type could give. She thanked him reluctantly and moved quickly to catch up with the others.
Back at the second cascade, she did not join those that swam again, but chatted with Folarin and a couple of the others. He did not join the conversation but she could feel his presence giving off a heat that warmed her from the inside out. His muscular body was like a magnet that drew her gaze several times. On their way down, she walked off from the group in order to put some distance between them and when she found herself in a clearing near the edge of the hill, she decided to take some pictures. Under the sunny sky, the view was clear for miles around, a collage of rusted tin roofs and colored aluminum ones interspersed with power lines and trees.
“Like what you see?”
Dunni almost dropped her camera when his voice interrupted her, and glared at him. He was leaning against a tree at the edge of the clearing where she was.
“Are you following me?”
“So you’re still the typical Nigerian; answering a question with another one.” He smiled and she was struck again by his perfect teeth. The sun drew patterns on his clothes, throwing his cheekbones into relief and hiding his eyes in shadow. Dunni wondered if they were twinkling as usual and then internally pinched herself to stop the thought.
“Folarin says you’re visiting? How long are you visiting for?”
“It’s none of your business is it?”
“What if I want to make it so? I want you Dunni, and I think you know that already. You’re a very attractive woman. ”
There was no denying the inflection in his voice, and when he began to stalk toward her, her skin rippled with goose bumps while her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth.
“What do you say to a mutually pleasurable relationship?” He was standing directly in front of her, the killer smile on full display.
Alarm zigged through her previously sluggish brain and Dunni searched for something smart to say. She jumped back from the hand he was reaching out to her and remembered a phrase she’d learnt since arriving for her vacation just in time.
“You can go and hug the transformer.” Her heart was pounding as she walked away from him.
After that encounter, she stayed with the others when her cousin declared time out and they relaxed in the round-roofed and open-sided chalets that lined the ridge. She didn’t want to go off, and give him a chance to follow her or talk to her again. It was with relief that she spied the parking lot in the distance. She was rattled by the energy between her and the mystery guy. She still didn’t know his name and she couldn’t even call him oaf anymore since he saved her back there on the trail.
At the car, she dumped her knapsack into the backseat and bent over to check her face in the side mirror while Folarin was still saying his goodbyes. Just as she was about to stand, a recently familiar muscular body appeared in the mirror, and she turned to meet twinkling eyes. This time the sun was directly in his face, turning his eyes the color of melting brown sugar in which his pupils were pin-pricks of darkness.
“Did you think to leave without saying goodbye? Eh, Dunni?”
“Yeah, you know my name, now what?” She snapped, looking away. She was all riled again as her gaze seemed drawn to those wide lips, and the smile which the twitch at their side promised. This close, the scent of his aftershave or cologne tickled her nostrils under the smells of masculine sweat and dry-cleaned khakis. Dunni got into the passenger seat and slammed the door.
“Don’t you want to know my name too?” He had bent and was peering through the windows that Folarin had left partly open before they left to let out the heat.
Her gaze went to his quickly in expectation, realizing too late that he was teasing. He laughed out loud, a smooth, low sound. In the mirror, she could see Folarin approaching them, Dunni prayed her cousin will address him directly but he was quicker than her.
“Let’s not play games OK? I think we both know what we want, don’t make it too hard. I’ll see you again soon,” he said before walking off to meet Folarin halfway.
Her jaw hung open before she recovered and ground her back teeth. In her head she called him every single bad word she could think of. To hell with her earlier thoughts that she couldn’t be too nasty to him since he’d helped her cross that rocky stream without falling.
“You wish,” she muttered under her breath, trying to cool down and determined to push him out of her mind. He must think himself the trek lothario, out to have as many flings as he could with tourists that joined the hike. No wonder he seemed fixated on how long she was here for. Well, he may have the whole good body thing and great smile working for him, but she wasn’t up for that kind of business. She had to device a way to prevent them from seeing again. He must be the one Folarin had said worked in Lagos, meaning she could breathe easy in Ilesha and Ilorin where she planned to do some running around when they returned. And she would certainly not be getting his details, not to send him a scathing mail, or for any other thing. In fact, she would cancel the planned trek of the New Year in case that was what he referred to. She’d had enough of an adventure for the whole trip, and from now she would stay in Ilesha and bear the mouthing off from the women who wanted to marry her off.