I dropped my fork when I saw her walk into the hotel’s restaurant, her underwear peeking cagily from behind her thin, stylish summer dress. She stopped and scanned the room as if she were looking for a particular face. In a bid to pick up my fork, I bumped my head against the dinner table. I winced and bore the pain valiantly.
“Which one today?” Modupe said, smirking. Her waiter’s notepad gently slammed against her mouth in a bid to stifle a chuckle.
“It’s not nice to laugh at your customers.” I said, sitting up straight.
“Sorry.” She turned around as she tried to stifle another chuckle.
My eyes roved. Customers sat at tables placed strategically in front of the band stand. They sipped out of chilled glasses filled with assorted beverages. A three-man band busied itself setting up equipments on the band stage. Mystery Lady, however, was nowhere in sight.
“Who you dey look for? I dey here,”Modupe said, a flirty smile on her face. Her Biro pen was positioned above the pad, ready for action.
“Give me the same.” I sipped from my glass to douse my growing irritation. The Star Larger beer burned through my throat deliciously. I liked Modupe, but it seemed as if she were taking my casual friendliness further than I meant it.
“Wetin be the same?”
“Ah, ah, Dupe,” I admonished gently. “ No be the first time I don come here now.”
She scribbled on the pad. “I call you yesterday. You no answer.”
“My lap top. You promise to check am for me.”
“Do you have it here?”
She shook her head no. “How much you go charge me?”
I shrugged. “Free.”
She beamed. “Your order dey come now now!”
I sat back and reminisced. This was the scene of the crime. Almost a year ago to this day, Shomolu, my boss and owner of the IT outfit where I worked, flashed his wealth at Ngozi, my love, and stole her away from me. I could still remember the whole thing as if it happened yesterday.
“Enjoy,” Modupe said as she placed bowls containing balls of pounded yam and a mouth-watering broth of ogbono soup in front of me. The tangy smell of the broth riled me out of my reverie. She barked orders to another waiter to hurry up with the washing water, and then left. I preferred eating my eba or pounded yam with my hands, rather than with forks and knives, as favored by tourists and cosmopolitan Lagosians.
I didn’t wait for the water. I brushed my fingers against my pants and then pinched off a morsel of the pounded yam. I dug deep into the ogbono soup, scooping up its essence. I leaned back as I savored all of the broth’s glory, closing my eyes and nodding appreciatively to the riot of tastes in my mouth.
I opened my eyes to notice a couple of patrons staring intensely at me. I wondered what the attraction was. I ignored their stares, grabbed a piece of goat meat, leaned back on the seat, and ate it slowly and with relish.
“What’s the name of the dish?”
A British accent. I opened my eyes. Mystery Lady stood in front of me in all her glory, her eyes a pair of black dots ringed by clear, happy egg-whites. A musk, sweeter and richer than I’d ever smelled on a lady, wafted authoritatively towards me.
“Ogbono.” My heart thumped. Now I knew why she caught my attention. Those eyes and face reminded me of Ngozi.
I swallowed clumsily. “Yes, yes.”
She pulled out the chair across from me and sat in it. “Must be good. A few of us have been watching you. The band is distracted too.”
“What did I do?”
“Caught everyone’s attention. If the selection is as good as you looked eating it, then I’ll order it.” She pointed at the bowl of soup. “May I?”
“Yes, yes.” I waved at the approaching waiter to offer her wash water.
She spooned a sample of the broth unto a plate, and then picked out a piece of dried fish with a pair of long, slender fingers. “Come here often?”
I liked her already. “Occasionally. How about you?”
“First time.” She ate the fish, shook her head appreciatively, and then smiled.
My heart melted. She was truly beautiful. The oval of her face echoed pieces hand-carved by the best of artisans this side of Egypt, and her dark-black skin shined, evoking mirages sometimes seen on perfect black top thoroughfares in developed parts of the world. “You like it?”
She nodded yes. “I think that I’ll order it. I like its stickiness. Nicely spiced.”
“Let me do the honors.” I waved at Modupe, who slow-stepped her way towards my table, her notepad flicking open-and-shut aimlessly, and her eyes burning with indictment.
“No, let me.” Mystery Lady called out her order to a coy Modupe, all the while fingering her sample curiously. “Charge it to my room.”
“Another bottle, please,” I said to Modupe, pointing at the Star bottle. She scribbled without looking at me, and then hurried away. I turned to Mystery Lady. “Try the meat.”
“Goat meat, right?”
I nodded yes.
“I can tell. Show me how to eat it again,” she said, leaning in excitedly.
I pulled up a piece of goat meat from the soup bowl, dragging a sticky rope of broth with it. I reprised my eating ritual, igniting a giggly reaction from her.
“Do it again!” She sounded like a little girl witnessing a favorite circus act.
“You do it,” I said, coming alive inside.
She leaned closer and slowly opened her mouth. I almost fainted from watching her full lips part.
I was tingly all over as I inserted the meat in her mouth. I almost lost it when she clasped her lips around my finger, refusing to let go, and then releasing it slowly as she sucked the broth clean off it.
She leaned back on her seat and mimicked my eating ritual. My hearty laughter was punctuated by a standing ovation by a few patrons who’d been watching us. I sipped liberally from my glass of beer, ignoring the little voice in my head that was telling me that I’d reached my alcohol limit.
As Modupe arrived with our orders, several hands went up in the restaurant requesting the same menu. She placed our orders on the table noisily and strutted away, an ugly frown on her face.
“Whats with her?” Mystery Lady asked.
I shrugged innocently. “She looks tired. Probably done double shift. Where are you from?”
I waited for more. “The accent.”
“Yes, the accent. Grew up in London. Don’t hold it against me.”
I laughed. “Won’t. What’re you doing in Lagos?”
“You’re very curious. I like that in a man.”
“You’re daring. I like that in a lady.”
She laughed freely. “Thanks, but ‘lady’ ke? Abeg. I no be lady o. I be African woman.”
“I stand corrected,” I said, laughing along with her. “What’re you doing in Lagos?”
“Starting an online dating service.Was supposed to meet someone here to discuss it. He’s late. But… glad he is.”
“Me too.” I poured more beer into my glass, and then positioned the bottle over Mystery Lady’s glass.
“Whoa!” She covered her glass with her palm. “Slow down, Tiger. I have a meeting coming up. Remember?”
“Sorry.” I stood up and started swaying to the band’s music.
Mystery Lady leaned back on her seat and studied me with giggly admiration. “You are weird!”
“Thanks. Come on,” I said as I grabbed her hand, which felt very soft in mine.
“Wait.” She wiped her fingers with the table cloth, and then followed me to the dance floor. We danced freely and suggestively, prompting admirers in the room to clap encouragingly. The band cranked up the tempo of the music, drawing other couples to the floor. Soon, the floor was heaving with bodies, with Mystery Lady and me the live wires of the party.
A few minutes later, the band slowed the tempo considerably. I grabbed Mystery Lady by the waist and pulled her closer to me. When the lights dimmed, I kissed her on the cheek. She pulled away from me and studied my face closely.
“What’s your name?”
“Steve. And yours?”
“Ana. You’re fun.”
“So are you.”
“Let’s go sit and talk,” Ana said after the band started playing a faster number. She dragged me by my hand and led me back to our table.
“Oops,” I said as I stutter-stepped. In a bid to steady myself, I pulled at her gold bracelet, knocking it to the floor.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes. Sorry.” Just as I reached under the table to scoop up the jewelry, the lights went out.
“NEPA!” A collective shout rang out derisively in the restaurant. Seconds later, the waiters brought out lighted candles that illuminated the restaurant a bit.
“Wey una generator?” someone demanded.
“In a few minutes, oga. No vex,” a waiter pleaded.
I, however, was on all fours under the table, held spellbound by what was positioned in front of me. Ana’s round and shapely thighs were exposed such that I had a point-blank view of her white underwear.
She peeked under the table, saw the look in my eyes, closed her thighs, and sat back bucking from stifled bouts of laughter, and then whispered,“Bad boy.”
I stayed put under the table transfixed by her beauty and quirky spirit. I located the gold bracelet, but froze when I noticed that she’d shifted closer to the table, and then slowly spread her legs.
I crept closer to Ana, and then began to lick at the part of her underwear that poked out between her thighs. She bucked a few times on her chair, and then she shot up. When I came up from under the table, she grabbed me by the hand and with purpose led me out of the restaurant.
The hotel’s generator putt, putt into life as we walked past the elevator. We froze, reversed course, and ran into the open elevator. Once the elevator’s doors closed, our passion for each other was unleashed. We kissed deeply, fondling each other with abandon.
Moments later, it took someone entering the elevator to rouse us to the fact that we were not alone. We ran out of the elevator, and when we arrived at the door to her hotel room, she dropped her key several times in a bid to open the door.
I took the key, opened the door, let her in, slammed it shut, and then froze in place. The room was a massive suite that befitted the CEO of a company. Ana grabbed my hand and dragged me further in, but our progress stalled just before we staggered past the couch.
We tore the clothes off each other, and just before I took her whole, she showed me her palm, slid out from under me and ran into the bedroom. I gave pursuit. In the bedroom, she stood beside the massive bed and waved something at me. It was a condom. I smiled, took it from her, put it on, and smothered her with my love.
I took a minute to admire the suite’s bathroom before resting my eyes on the mirror. It was an hour later, and I was trying to restore a semblance of normality to my look. For the first time that night, I noticed a soup stain on my shirt. I brushed the spot with a scrubber in a bid to clean it, but to no avail.
A phone rang in the house. I heard Ana speak to the caller. I could clearly make out the word “late” in her retort. She must be talking to whomever she planned on meeting tonight for a business chat, I surmised.
“Steve,” Ana called from the parlor of the suite. “I have to go down to the lobby. My business friend is here. I’ll be back.”
When I turned, she was already in the bathroom, completely transformed. Outfitted in a Yoruba traditional dress, she looked as beautiful nativeas she had looked casual. She pressed against me and we kissed deeply. I told her how beautiful she looked and that I’d like for her to postpone the meeting, but she said no.
“This thing between us maybe moving too fast, don’t you think?”
I shook my head no. “Not fast enough. You are very interesting, and I like you a lot.”
She kissed me on the lips. “I like you too, but we need to get to know each other more beyond the physical.”
“I agree.” Before I could add another word, there was a knock on the front door. We both frowned. “Are you expecting anyone?”
She shook her head no, and then left to go attend to the person at the door. I turned back to the mirror to comb my hair, and then dropped the comb.
The voice at the door sounded like Shomolu’s, my boss. I panicked. I turned off the lights and cowered behind the door. I took a peek: It was him.
“I told you to wait in the lobby,” Ana said.
“I thought that it’d be better to talk up here. I brought some wine,” Shomolu said.
“Not possible. I have a visitor.”
“So I was told.”
“Told? By who?”
By then I was almost out of the suite by the bathroom window. I could not afford Shomolu to catch me here with his…business partner?
I will lose my job!
“Go back to the lobby, Ade, and wait.”
I was half way out the window when I froze in place.
Why was I running? Had I committed any crime?
I slipped back into the bathroom. No, I was not going to run away. Not this time. I really liked Ana, and if I allowed Ade Shomolu to make me lose this one, I would not forgive myself. I turned the light back on, smoothened out my shirt and walked out of the bathroom.
The bottle of wine dropped out of Shomolu’s hand when he saw me, and then he clumsily tried to pick it up.
“Steve, meet Ade. Ade, Steve.”
“Hello, Mr. Shomolu,” I said as I shook Shomolu’s hand.
“S-Steve,” Shomolu stuttered, a severe wince on his face.
“You two know each other?” Ana asked.
Shomolu and I nodded yes.
“Small World,” Ana said as she led Shomolu to the door. “Well, let’s go. It’s getting late. Steve, I’ll be right back.”
“See you later, Steve.” Shomolu said.
“Yes, later,” I said as I closed the door behind them.
I slowly sank unto the couch and tried to temper my riotous thoughts. By this time tomorrow, I would either be out of a job, or I would’ve become Shomolu’s new best friend.
For now, however…
I felt giddy with joy.
Uko Bendi Udo USA
Uko is a writer who currently lives in the USA.