“In a bet, there is a fool and a thief.” (Author unknown)
SHE came out of nowhere.
That was how it was perceived. This sudden apparition that emerged out of nowhere and conflated with the scene without quite blending in. The evening sky had lent shadows to most corners of the quadrangle yard of the biggest off-campus hostel in the university. The formal studying hours of the day were gone and most students had come out into the four-square yard to either mingle with their colleagues and neighbours, or simply, to enjoy the cool, breezy atmosphere.
She stood alone, and she stood out. She approached no one, and no one approached her. But they all saw her; and most talked about her strange appearance in perplexed whispers. Many were wary, a few disinterested and a lesser few, intrigued.
Osawe and his friends belonged to that latter group.
“Who is she?” Lekan asked.
A third-year Anatomy student, he considered it part of his study-description to behold, analyse and when possible, explore the human body. Human body in female form, of course.
“I don’t know. But I saw her earlier today just as she was coming out of the Library.” Dickson was a second-year Accounting student, roguish female hunter and a proud bearer of a lean-muscled, dark-skinned, quite attractive build. The latter gave him much pride. “I said hello, but she did not respond. Only looked at me and gave me this come-get-me smile.”
Osawe snorted, switched the toothpick in his mouth to the left side and adjusted on the hard bench that was blunting his butt slowly. “You’re a Casanova, so of course you thought she was giving you a come-get-me smile.” He thought though that Dickson might be right for the… lady was looking in their direction. Had been doing so the last five minutes. “Why the hell does she have that ridiculous hat on?” Since she had her eyes hidden under the wide floppy-brim red hat she had on, it was difficult to tell which one of them she was looking at. “She looks dressed for church. Over-dressed at that.”
Neither of the other two responded to his comments. But all three scrutinized her afresh.
She was tall. Not overly so, maybe five-eight or nine. This was Lekan’s assessment since he usually bragged of a talent in near accurate body measurement knowledge. And he was accurate most often as his friends knew. Her skin was a light brown shade of topaz. And even from the distance where she still stood alone, they could all see that it was flawless and gleaming. There was a light touch of makeup on her face. The part of her face they could clearly see—which was her lush lips covered with a dim red lipstick. But it was the burgundy-red hip-flared dress and heeled pumps that were vividly conspicuous.
“She didn’t have the hat on when I first saw her and she was wearing a different dress.” Dickson finally said. “Maybe she is coming from a church program.”
“I agree with Osawe, even for a church program, she is over-dressed. It’s the middle of the week for heaven’s sake!” Lekan wondered if she’d be the type to wear matching underwear. He couldn’t help the thought. Watching her set off something in him. Something more sweltering than what chicks usually ignited in him.
“She would look over-dressed to you since you never care what you put on.” Dickson smirked, shifting his gaze briefly to sneer at the brawny figure clad in near-tattered jeans and descript Polo shirt.
“No one cares what’s on the body when it comes off and what lies beneath is revealed.” Lekan jeered, giving the crotch of his jeans a tug.
“What I can’t get is why anyone would be completely dressed in red.” Maybe it was his nature, or the fact that he studied Sociology, but Osawe always found himself quick to examine human, as well as societal, behaviour. “Everything on her is red, even her lipstick. Surely that is odd.” He found it so and he couldn’t explain why it disturbed him—more so than the fact that watching her ticked off an itch in his groin.
“Everything on me right now is black. Even my boxer shorts are black and I don’t find anything odd in that.” Dickson carelessly dismissed. He never much cared for Osawe’s over-analytic nature. It ruined things when you examined them too closely, was his belief. “I want her.” He added, the yen of desire smouldering and spreading, everywhere.
When he had seen her as he was walking into the library and she was gliding out through its doors, he had felt it, that force of a strong sexual attraction that had sent his male member nodding to life, instantly strung up. Momentarily mindless, he’d blurted—‘Oh my, aren’t you a vision in red? ’ The filmy dress that had slinked down her form exotically then had been something shimmery and more like purplish-red in colour. Dickson absently wondered if her wardrobe was made up of varied hues of red. It would be interesting to find out, he mused, the steer of passion tugging inside those black pair of boxer shorts he’d bragged about.
“Of course you want her—you want every female you meet.” They shared that calling, as Lekan saw it, but it didn’t stop him from taunting him especially as something incomprehensibly possessive in him made him want to have this lady in red alone. “Well, you can’t have her unless you win her over first.”
“Not that stupid bet again.” Osawe groaned. They made these bets who can get a particular girl into their bed first and he’d always felt ashamed that he allowed them talk him into such silliness. “Aren’t you guys getting an odd vibe from her?” She was beginning to spook him. Especially as she had not moved from her position in the fifteen minutes, more or less, she’d been standing there.
“The only vibe I’m getting is that she wants me.” Dickson cackled and pondered absently if he should approach her now. “She’s been looking at me since she strolled inside here. Maybe she even stalked me from the Library.”
“In your dreams, Dickson.” He would be damned if he was going to let Dickson win over this one, Lekan thought. “Maybe she is waiting for someone. Maybe that someone could be me.” He tossed his friends a haughty smile. “I bet five thousand naira to the first man who can get her on her back. And we’d want life evidence of course.”
That meant the other two came to watch after an allowable period of time.
“I haven’t got five-k to waste on something so stupid. I find this chick—lady—strange and I want no part in this bet.” Osawe declined.
“Coward!” Dickson mocked. “Don’t worry I myself will hoist your five-k if you can get her in your room and naked on your bed in less than a week.”
“I’m not interested in your five-k and I’ll advice you save it for something worthwhile.” Osawe retorted in a near prissy tone.
“Well, I want that five-k and also our little lone lady over there.” Lekan drawled. “And I am going to get both.” He added, mildly amused by Dickson’s loud scoff. “Since I called the bet, I’ll go first. But that is also because I want to save you poor fellas the anguish of adding rejection to loser. Wait here, dudes, while I return with my spoils of war.”
He laughed at another scoff from Dickson and a shake of the head from Osawe before striding towards the massive iron gates. He kept his expression affable and friendly, and his gaze unwaveringly on her. She angled her head, directed her gaze at him briefly and turned to slide out of the side gate. Lekan’s mouth curved in a satisfied grin as he hastened up his steps, playing hard to get was a chick’s ace game. And a bluff more than half the time.
He shouldered past an incoming male student, muttering a quick apology as he went through the rather narrow pedestrian gate. He turned first to his left to scan the street, she wasn’t anywhere in sight, so he switched his gaze to the left and there she was, walking—no, gliding down the newly asphalt tarred street. For a moment, he stared at her burgundy-red heels. They were moving with effortlessly quick and yet graceful steps. It was like she was sliding across the solid ground beneath her feet and not walking on it.
Maybe she was a model. She certainly had the height and the figure for it and that might explain her overdone fashionista dressing. Slapping his game-boy smile on, he picked up his steps, practically jogging after her. The street wasn’t empty but he was unconcerned about the fellow students who tossed him jeering glances as they figured out he was in pursuit of the chick ahead of him.
“Hey! Excuse me!” He called, wondering vaguely, and annoyingly, why he couldn’t catch up with her. “Hold up, lady!”
But she never paused and she didn’t stop walking.
“Gorgeous lady in red.” Lekan tried a flatter, starting to puff. It didn’t work. She didn’t falter and her quick steps didn’t slow down. “Hey, you dropped something!”
That got her attention, for she abruptly halted and swiftly turned.
“Damn, you sure know how to work those heels.” Lekan trotted up to her, blowing out a breath as he stopped right in front of her. They came eye to eye with her heels. “I think you dropped your pen.” He said, brandishing his own pen and a twinkling roguish smile.
“That is your pen. And I would go back if I were you.”
Her voice was soft, evenly-pitched and as cool as the evening air.
“Why, some big bad dude gonna pop out of nowhere and break my jaw?” The scent she was wearing seduced his senses. It was feminine, sultry—magnetic. Desire spread and smothered. He wanted a taste of her, badly.
“I don’t know any big bad dude.” Her dim red painted lips seemed to barely move when she spoke. But their lush fullness tempted Lekan.
“Glad I am to hear that.” He tried a bigger grin. But she didn’t respond, just continued to stare coolly at him. Something about her eyes should unnerve him but Lekan always figured he had more man in him than wimp. “Where you looking for someone at the hostel?” He wasn’t overly interested. But she seemed the sort not easily impressed by cheap lines.
“Oh.” Disappointment tugged. “Who?”
“Not you. I came for another and I am only here for him.”
The cool response both annoyed and amused Lekan. “Looks like you didn’t get to see him though. Maybe if you tell me who he is, I can help you find him.” No way in hell.
She tilted her head ever so slightly, so her jutted chin became more prominent. “You lie. You’re not interested in my finding him. You would rather I didn’t. But I will and he will be mine. I do have to go now. I would counsel that you do not come after me again.” She swept around and resumed her smooth, paced walk down the street.
“Wait! Can you at least tell me your name please?” Lekan rushed forward but his left foot caught on something and he lost his footing. “Damn it!” He cussed as he heaved up and dusted himself. He flung up his head to call out to her but— She was nowhere to be found.
The street was long, straight and without any side-streets or lanes for another mile or so and yet she had disappeared from it. Lekan frowned, baffled and confounded. The swelling in his groin had eased off and he found that odd as it usually took him a hand-job to bring down his shaft once it was up and not sated.
“Quickly lost interest, did you?” He muttered to it, and then looked down to curse the obstacle that had knocked him down. There was nothing lying on the smooth black tar.
Apprehension climbed behind his confusion. How could he have stumbled over something and yet nothing was lying on the ground? And where the hell had she vanished to so quickly? Shaken, and annoyed that he was, Lekan muttered a cuss under his breath and turned to walk back to the hostel.
The guys were still on the bench by the wall where he’d left them.
“If you have a number, I want to hear you call it.” Dickson said. But his mocking eyes said he didn’t believe he had.
“These days only easy-virtue chicks rattle out their numbers that fast.” Lekan said mildly. He couldn’t completely shake off the uneasiness though. “There’s something strange about that chick. She had this strange manner of speaking.”
Dickson let out a guffaw. “Strange because she didn’t swallow your cheap talk?”
“Didn’t I say here that there was something odd about her?” Osawe demanded, gratified that he had been proven right. “What kind of a girl wears red from head to toe—and when there’s not a carnival going on, huh?”
“Oh shut it, you!” Dickson waved a dismissive hand, adding a disgusted snort. “I can’t believe you’re now speaking the language of a loser-brother, Lekan. Strange talk indeed.” He sputtered out a laugh, rolled his eyes and then, shook his head. “Let me raise the stakes here. I will get her name and number by tomorrow or add another five-k to the bet. And before the week ends, I’ll have her in my bed and you two can jerk-off watching me do her.”
“Gosh, you can be so crudely stupid, dude.” Osawe glared at him.
Dickson only smirked.
But Lekan said nothing. He had a strange pull to call off the bet but that would make him a sore loser. So he squashed the pull and told himself he was probably just overreacting.
PART 2 Here