SHE was on her way home when his call came in.

“Hello, Kane. Touched down?” He’d told her he was flying back that evening.

“On my way home right now.”

“Me too.”

He chuckled. “I missed you and Lagos.”

Her smile widened. “Lagos and I are happy to have you back safe.”

“Let’s have dinner. Sorry.” He hastily added the apology. “I’m assuming you don’t have any plans this evening.”

“I don’t and dinner sounds nice.”

“Wonderful. I will pick you up at eight.”

“See you then.”

Only self-control stopped her from letting out the squeal that bubbled in her throat. He was back and they were having dinner. More than wonderful!

She took her time with her dressing, choosing the tiered shift dress she knew flattered her slender figure, and matched it with orange coloured sandals.

“Even in black, you look ravishing.” He said when she strolled out to meet him.

“Thank you.” She smiled. “And thank you for the necklace.”

“I see you’re wearing it. Looks great on you. Now, I’m wondering if the restaurant I have in mind would be suitable and befitting your glamorous look.”

“Wherever you’ve chosen, I don’t mind as long as they serve good food.”

“Hopefully they do. It’s a new place at Maryland. I haven’t been there before, but a friend told me it’s a nice place.”

“Then let’s go find out.”

The restaurant was more than suitable, in Fejiro’s estimation, and even more so because of their romantic table-for-two arrangements. But it wouldn’t have mattered if it was or not, she thought with a glance at her dinner companion. When a woman was sitting with a man as courteous and amiable as Kane was, it did not matter what the environment looked like.

“So, how was your trip?” She asked.

“It was great. A bit exhausting though. I would be grateful to be home, except that I am getting back on the road again tomorrow.”

“You are travelling again tomorrow?”

“Yes. I’ve got this movie contract. They were supposed to start shooting next week, but it’s been pushed a couple of days earlier. So, it’s off to Accra tomorrow.” He pulled a face.

“Accra? That’s where the movie is being shot?”

“Yes, Accra for the first week, and then Johannesburg for ten days.”

“Accra and Johannesburg, sounds exciting. You should look happy, not gloomy.”

“You are right, I should be happy. But I guess I’m jaded. I’ve been in both places before; Accra and Kumasi a couple of times and Johannesburg twice. Anyway, I think I’m looking gloomy because I won’t be seeing you for almost another three weeks. By the time we’ll be done, at least nineteen days will be gone.” Kane sighed. “I like seeing you, Fejiro. I like being with you.” He paused a few seconds and then, added. “I like you.”

“I like you too, Kane.”

“I was kind of hoping you do.” He smiled. “You know, so you don’t confuse what I’m trying to say, I’m very interested in you and I am asking you to be my girlfriend. Ah, that is if you are available.” He added. “I do get presumptuous sometimes, pardon me. But say you’re available, please. I would really be gloomy if you say you are in a relationship.”

“If I were in a relationship, I wouldn’t be here.” Fejiro smiled. “But since you are officially asking, then I will in turn ask straight out—I hope I’m not encroaching on another woman’s territory, because I don’t like to poach.”

“No, you are not.” He shook his head. “I recently broke up with, uh, my ex. About two months ago actually.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“No, it’s okay. Not every relationship ends at the altar.”

“That’s true.” She studied him. “But just two months, some will say that’s too soon to be delving into another relationship.”

“I don’t think so. When it’s over, staying alone to mourn the relationship won’t change anything. My policy is when it’s over, move on.”

“I sort of have same policy too.” She smiled, took a breath and relaxed herself. “Well, since I am free as a bird and you are, and I wouldn’t mind being with you, I say yes to being your girlfriend and will drink to us.” She lifted her glass of water. “To us.”

“To us.” He touched his glass to hers, then smiled as he set it down. “You are an unusual woman, you know that?”

“How so?”

“Well, you don’t act coy or try to be mysterious. I like it.”

“I don’t because I won’t know how to.” She shrugged. “I am a simple woman who wants only the simple things of life.”

“Like what?”

“Money, for one.” His quick chuckle made her grin. “Money is very important, so it takes first place. Then love.”

“Love is important.” He said, smiling.”

“Very important. And finally, joy forevermore.”

“Money, love and joy forevermore. Hmm.” Kane’s expression turned thoughtful. “Could that be translated as good money, good man and good marriage? I ask, because my pastor says that those are what most women want.”

“Your pastor must be a wise man. Although, some might consider him sexist and somewhat narrow-minded.”

“I think he’s just conventional.”

“Maybe. But to answer your question directly, yes, you could say I want good money, a good man and a good marriage. But,” she paused, offered him a smile. “We are yet far from that place… I mean, the last part of the deal, so you need not panic.”

“I am not panicked.” Kane laughed. “Marriage doesn’t scare me. I want it. I am looking forward to it. I want to settle down before my thirty-fourth birthday.”

“And how old are you now?”

“Thirty-three.”

“Ha.” Her heart danced. “Well, I’m thirty-one.”

“You look younger.”

“It must be my slender build responsible for that.”

“More like your youthful face.” He countered. “You are a very pretty woman.”

“Thank you.”

“I think I got lucky the evening I saw a tall, slender, pretty lady walking in heels like she was strutting along a runway, trip and fall on her knees.”

“You saw me before I fell?”

He nodded. “I was coming out of a clothing store a couple of yards off you where you had your fall—Trendy Wears Boutique? A friend’s girlfriend just opened the store and they invited me over to see it. I came out, was contemplating crossing the road, saw you and got distracted.”

“You got distracted?” That information thrilled her.

“Very distracted.” He grinned. “I stood there wondering if I should make a move, and if I would, how. Then all of a sudden, your leg wobbled and oops, you went down. I quickly abandoned my contemplation and came rushing forward.”

“To rescue the damsel in distress.”

“Huh?” He stared at her in confusion. And then he laughed. “I forgot you like Hollywood romantic comedies, and people who like those usually like romance novels and the quixotic stuffs. So yes, I came running forward to rescue the damsel in distress, but she has rescued herself and all I could do was to offer her a ride back to her castle. Not so much of a gallant prince seeing as I should have been the brave soldier who raised her to her feet. Although, at the time, it appeared someone else wanted to come to the rescue too.”

“You mean Arnold?” Fejiro scoffed. “Please, Arnold is more like the dragon dying to slay me. He’s my ex and a completely annoying one.”

“Ah, that explains the brutal dismissal. That gave me a scary moment, the way you shut him down with one frosty stare.” Kane feigned a dramatic shaky sigh that made her chuckle. “But being a brave lad, I still chanced my arm and offered you a ride home.”

“But if you were contemplating making a move, why didn’t you ask me for my number?”

“I knew where you worked, so I gave myself the chance to think through if I really wanted to make a move. Then I thought about you all week long and started to wonder if that wasn’t a mistake. I still can’t stop thinking about you.” He finished.

“Oh.” Her heart skipped a beat at the way his eyes went tender.

“I’m glad I met you, Fejiro. And I hope that what we are building here blossoms into something beautiful and lasting.”

“I hope so too, Kane.”

Oh heavens, he has got to be the one. Lord, make him the one for me.

THEIR date ended too quickly, Fejiro thought even though it was after eleven when he brought her home and then walked her to her apartment.

“I so wish I’m not travelling tomorrow. Seriously.”

“Nineteen days will pass quickly.” She smiled, though she wished he wasn’t travelling too. Or that he was taking her with him. That would be better.

“Not quickly enough for me.” Kane confessed. “I am so going to miss you.”

“I will miss you too.” She already did.

“You will?” He sighed. “Gosh, I wish I can afford the tickets, so I can take you along with me. I wish if I could afford it, I wouldn’t be so busy and we could spend quality time together. Fejiro, I don’t want to go away when we’re just starting something this beautiful.”

“You will be back and I will still be here.”

“I know. But I want to be here with you.” He took both her hands, drew her to him and wrapped his arms around her, hugging her tightly. “I miss you already.”

That’s exactly how I feel too, Fejiro thought, closed her eyes as her head rested on his shoulder. He smelled so nice and felt so warm and strong.

“You feel so good.” He murmured. “I love the elusive scent of flowers on you.”

“Thank you.” She would step back—in a minute.

“Don’t thank me for what is true.” His lips brushed over her neck.

The soft caress made Fejiro quiver.

“Fejiro.” He groaned her name. Then he moved, tilted up her face and kissed her.

It was a passionate kiss and Fejiro kissed him back with the same ardour as he did her.

“I know it’s crazy and probably too soon but I want to make love with you.” He said when their kiss ended.

What was crazy was that she wanted same thing. “It is too soon for me, Kane.”

“I know. I know, but I just want you so much. So much.” His hand brushed up and down her back. “It’s crazy how much I want you.”

“I want you too, but…”

“Don’t say but, please.” His eyes were passionate as they looked into hers. “Don’t say but or no. Let me make love with you. I’m dying to.”

Mesmerised by his fervour, desire sparked a flame of lust. She wanted him too, so much. But she couldn’t—she shouldn’t. “We should wait, Kane.”

“I want to say yes, let’s wait but I’m unable to. I’ll be gone three weeks. I need you. I want you. I want you so, so much.” He covered her mouth, pulled her to him as their lips fused.

Reason fought with lust as every part of her churned with a longing for satisfaction. “Yes. Okay.” She breathed against his lips, forgetting her protest.

“Oh, Fejiro.” He devoured her lips. Just kissed her until she was jittery with need.

Then he raised his head. “Do you have a condom? I’m so sorry I don’t have any on me.”

“Don’t apologise. It shows that you didn’t plan this, at least.” That he didn’t have one made her feel better about her decision. “But I don’t have any either.”

“O boy!” He stared at her. “Okay, this is going to sound even crazier, but I swear to you that I am HIV negative and have absolutely no infections. I’m clean.”

“Kane, I can’t. Not without protection.” She shifted backward.

“I… um, you’re right. You are totally right.” But he drew closer instead of stepping back. “It’s crazy. It’s risky. I know that, but I honestly want to make love with you, tonight. Here.” He touched her, slipped his hand underneath her dress and caressed her bum.

Her body vibrated with anticipation. “Kane…”

“Just this once and I swear, the rest of our lives, I will load up on condoms if you want. Just this night.” He lowered his head, nibbled her neck. “Let me love you tonight, Fejiro.”

Her head screamed no. Every good sense in her cried out against it.

But she wanted him. She wanted to quell the lust that his fiery eyes set off in her.

“All right. Just this once.”

He made a sound in his throat, then shifted and took her lips and she forgot all else.

***

Not Fairy-Tale: coming 3 Sept. 2018.