He found he could wait, if only to see the surprise and pleasure that flared into her eyes and made them dance with pure excitement as they made into a nightclub that was just coming alive for the night.
“I was certain we were going to a restaurant to dine, and was looking forward to it, but this is a wonderful surprise.”
“Glad you find it so. I wasn’t sure if this is your kind of scene, but hoping you won’t find it distasteful, I thought it was a good spot to begin our evening.” And he was glad, relieved too, he hadn’t been wrong about that. “Enjoy a few cocktails, hear good music, maybe dance, and then go someplace else for food.”
“I love the plan.” Taking in the place with a slow appreciative glance, she settled on an armchair beside the exquisite bar. “Looks good. I can’t remember the last time I was at a nightclub. It has to be a few weeks before Victor and I got married.
“Being here now, I realise I’ve missed it, as it’s something I enjoyed doing now and again. Bartenders making you delicious drinks, great music–if the DJ is good enough–and people swinging to the beats.” Her eyes sparkled as she grinned at him. “Are you a regular clubber?”
“No. I go only when the mood strikes. Or, when I’m hoping to impress a lady.” Catching the attention of the bartender, he called out an order for two cocktails.
“Whatever my reason for going though, I prefer to come in early, enjoy my drinks and the company without the clang and cluster of loud music and too many people. Hope my sedate style doesn’t offend you, cause we can stay longer if you like.”
“I rather like it early as well, as I’m not the late-night kind of person,” she said, took her drink and tasted. “Love it,” she proclaimed, and took another leisurely sip. “So, I’m guessing this evening’s reason is to impress me.”
Saz liked the way her mouth curved easily with a flirtatious smile. “You guess right. And are you impressed?”
“Duly so.” She took a longer drink this time, nearly emptying the glass before she set it down.
“Another?” Saz asked, following her lead by dropping the content in his glass.
“That would be nice. Or, we could try something else. I like to be adventurous on evenings like this.”
He called a different order to the bartender. “How much adventurous?”
Her shoulders moved in a limp shrug. “Depends on what I’m in the mood for. With you this evening, I think I’m in the mood for a lot less than I would like to be.”
“Honesty works very well for you, too, I’ve noticed.” And he liked it that way. “So, what’s holding you back, not sure if you can trust me yet?”
“Not sure I can take what I want…what I see you want, and step back without a bruise.”
“It might surprise you that I’m not sure if I can do that too.” It did surprise him to realise it, and made him suddenly wary, so he took his time finishing up his drink.
“I think you’re more surprised by it than I am,” Anya rightly guessed, watching the small frown flickering in his eyes. “You’re after a relationship without complications, and if we allow too much feelings into this, we’ll be complicating things.”
“If we remind ourselves what we can only offer, as we’re doing now, maybe we can avoid the complications,” he said.
The easy tone didn’t completely clear off his frown, and Anya cocked her head in a thoughtful slant as she studied him. “Is there someone else? In Benin, I mean.”
As it got served, he picked up his second cocktail, took his time to drink before he gave an approving nod. “A good one. You should taste and see. And to answer your question, I don’t know anymore. There was, I don’t just know if I should consider her still mine given the way I’m feeling about you, and what I want from you.”
That bout of honesty again, and the act surprising him again. Also disturbing him, Anya thought, noting the gleam of worry. “I wondered if you had someone. Maybe you should be certain where that stands before we get into this. Or, we could decide to let this be.”
“We can’t. I can’t.” Saz realised, and with considerable shock, that he couldn’t step back from her. Not without having had her. “I have this need to have you. I’m not sure if it’s to have you in my bed, or in my life. But I want you, and can’t let that be.”
“Then you will have to completely close the other door, so as to walk without looking back through another.”
He suddenly grinned. “That sounds like something my grandmother would say.” Was that the hook, that she somehow reminded him of Iye? “Anyway, tell me what’s standing in the way of getting the brand new oven. I would think the shop was doing well enough to handle such expenses.”
“You are changing the subject again. I just can’t tell now if you’re evading me digging into areas you want no one touching, or avoiding yourself.”
Saz chuckled. “More of one than the other. Still, tell me. I’m curious to know; and not because of the offer of the oven, mind you,” he added, to make that part clear.
“I want to insist we finish the talk, but I know how to be patient,” she said after a short pause, and then sampled her drink. “You were right, it is a good one.
“To answer your question,” her mouth curved as she borrowed his words. “The shop is doing quite well, and can handle the expense of a new oven if I ignore the other thing I’m saving for.”
“What other thing?”
“A home. For the elderly who don’t have families to take care of them. And maybe a small section to regularly teach children who need help with school work. Or, feed them too, if they need to be fed.”
“A home?” Surprised, more by the idea than the fact that she was saving for something like that, Saz stared at her. “You want to open a home for the elderly? In that town?”
“Well, why not there? I know they have such homes in Lagos, Port Harcourt…why not in Ogwashi-Uku? Too much of a small town?” She snorted. “We can, and should have one if it’s needed. And it is needed. They will be better of having someone attending to them more regularly.”
“I have no doubt. But a small town like that, people believe in taking care of their old. Heck, people generally believe that in this country.”
“So they believe it, but their belief is not always matched with practice.” While there was no scorn, her tone was a little dismissive. “Saz, some of these old people suffer a number of old people’s ailments and need more attention than a stopover to drop food, or help with their bath. They need a caregiver, twenty-four-seven.”
“And you will be that caregiver?”
She smiled now. “Not just me. There will be staff at the home. It’s kind of a long term plan. I’ve bought the land, and now saving for the building. Hopefully, we can begin work in two years, or less.”
He did not sputter into his drink, and Saz gave himself kudos for that. “You are planning to build the home?”
Anya laughed, because his stunned look actually amused her. “Well, of course. It’d be wiser to build than to rent. Definitely, more cost effective. That’s why it’s a long term plan, not something I want to hurry over.”
“And I suppose you’re already taking into consideration how to fund the home when it becomes a reality?”
“I’m working on the hows of that.” Aiming a charming smile, she leaned slightly forward. “We’re not taking proper advantage of this atmosphere. We should be flirting, stealing kisses, dancing, and not having a serious conversation. It’s a nightclub, after all.”
“You probably have a point.” A slow smile curved his sexy mouth as he too edged forward in his seat. “Should we begin in that order, or go with whatever feels right?”
His eyes have taken on that smouldering, hot look, and tilted down to focus on her lips. She wanted them, his lips on hers. An intimate, possibly wanton, kiss, to remind her what it feels like to have a man’s hot lips seducing hers.
“You’re thinking of something. Maybe not thinking of, but imagining.” Lust darkening even more his eyes, he raised his fingers to stroke her chin, and then her lip. “You want me to kiss you.”
“I do.” Desperately. “But I’ve never kissed in a public place.”
“It’s a nightclub, so no shocked stares I’ll expect.” His hand went around her neck, held there. “I want to kiss you. I’ve wanted to since that first evening you drove over on your bike.”
The confession surprised her, delighted her even more. “So, you’re desperate to kiss me.”
The smile came back again around his mouth. “I will probably beg in a minute.”
“I’ve never kissed publicly. But I’m thirty-one, already a widow, and in a nightclub where there’d likely be no stares, so what the heck?”
“I like a woman daring enough to take what she wants.”
And what she wanted was exactly what she got. His mouth was hot and wild and desperate against her own. He didn’t taste and savour, like one expected of a first kiss. Like she’d once known of a first kiss. He didn’t hold back, or keep it light like he was conscious of the fact they were in a public place.
He plunged in and took, poured the need that obviously clawed through him into long strokes that explored her mouth even as they devoured. His hand didn’t move from her neck, nor did the other rise to hold her, but he poured heat into her that ran along her skin like stroking fingers.
Anya stared into his eyes, because hers would not close when his didn’t. They were dark pools of lust, and they told her he would take more than a kiss, soon.
He eased back, slowly, planting a light kiss before he entirely lifted his head. “I’m afraid I miscalculated. There are a few shocked stares tossed our way.”
She was trembling, inside. Anya tasted her lip with her tongue, felt it warm, wet and tasting of him. “I find I don’t care. Thirty-one, widow, nightclub and all.” She smiled, because she found she liked her first kiss after a long while. “I find I’m looking forward to having more than your lips on mine.”
He grinned. “Good. As I have the same findings, too.”
“Meanwhile,” she took her drink, finished it. “Let’s dance. It’s been a while I danced with a man. And maybe while we’re testing out our dance moves, we can shock them with another kiss.”
Saz chuckled. Darn it, he did like this lady. “I’m willing to shock, if you are.”
He pulled her to her feet, slid his arms around her, nuzzled her neck as they swayed towards the dancefloor. “You smell somewhat erotic. It’s not so perceptible, but it tempts and seduces now I’ve caught it.”
“Like I always say, you’re a man who knows how to compliment a woman.” And she did a skillful move out of his hands, and began swinging her hips to the beats.
They did share more than one kiss on the dancefloor, and a lot of smouldering looks at the dinner table, so that Saz was actually desperate enough to beg her to come home with him.
“Only for an hour. I’ll have you home before eleven.”
“I want to say yes; I’m needy for your mouth and hands to want to agree without a single thought. But…” She sighed. “I can’t have sex with you when that door is still open.
“It’s not an ultimatum, it’s not even a demand, or what I consider yet my right to ask. But if we are to take the next step, I need you to finish with her. I’ve never been the type, and still not comfortable, to intrude on what might be another’s territory.”
He’d never, himself, felt comfortable dating two women at the same time. So, he would close that door, and then have her.
“I can respect that wish…and I am cursing myself for being such a conscientious guy.” He grinned at her low chuckle. “But you’re going to soothe me with another kiss, aren’t you?”
“I can grant that wish, especially as I wish it, too.” She reached for his hand and drew it on her lap. “I like being with you, Saz. It’s a long time since I had that pleasure.”
“Then, I’m even more glad it’s me bringing you that pleasure.” He slowed the van to pull up beside the road. “I want to kiss you here, in case we get to your home and find your mother waiting for us on the veranda. I think she’s suspicious of me enough to do just that.”
“She wouldn’t, not on the veranda, but in the parlour where her legs would be jiggling as she fights inner battles with her worry.” Smiling, she leaned across the console, lifted a hand to his face. “You’re a pleasant surprise, Saz.”
“I am?” Snapping off his seatbelt to draw her closer, he arched his brows. “Why do you say that?”
“I didn’t think you would be such fun and irresistible temptation all those years when my teenage heart pined for a look from you.”
“Ah, I keep forgetting the little girl who had a crush on me.” The thought of that little girl enchanted him now, surprisingly. “Do you think she will accept this kiss to make up for all the time when I was too preoccupied to give her the look she wanted?”
“Well,” she flicked her tongue lightly over her lip. “Give me the kiss, and I will find out what she thinks.”
Grinning, he curved his head and took that slightly wet lip, then the other. Saz wanted to sate the need that only bit harder when he had a taste of her, but he thought of that sweet teenage girl, and how he would have kissed her if he had the chance at the time.
Slow, he thought, and took the time to taste and explore her lips. Definitely gentle, holding off when the need to plunder itched. And tenderly, oh yes, tenderly was good. He slid into her mouth with a warm affection he hadn’t recognised was there. He was the young boy who hadn’t seen her in those days when he stared into her eyes and allowed his to flutter close.
But when he opened them, less than half a minute later, he was again the man, and the one still wanting more than he had the right to take at the moment.
“I didn’t come here looking for this. I don’t know if I will want to keep what I find when we take the next step.”
“You think about it, while I think about my own wants and desires.” She kissed him, and drew herself back on her seat. “Meanwhile, the teenage girl is satisfied with the kiss as an apology. She’s very satisfied.”
Oh heck, he was doomed. He was only here for a while, and couldn’t afford to lose his bearing over a woman who’d made her home in the one place he could never call home.
Doomed, unless he kept his fences up and well planted, Saz thought, borrowing a thought from his grandmother’s maxims.