Was she insane?
It was probable. Eyine certainly believed so. And standing now in the parking lot of a bank in Lagos, Dinah was tilting toward the idea that she might be.
For the love of God, she had travelled all the way from Asaba on a quest to exact some silly revenge. More than seven hours on the expressway to prove she could beat him in his own game.
Is that what you’re doing, Dinah?
Yes. She thrust up her chin and tucked away every self-doubt. She had her mind made up and would not second-guess herself.
Ha, that voice. Slightly deeper than she remembered it, but still as smooth as silk. Dinah raised her head, blinked, and stared, at Oliver Kenudi.
Charcoal grey well-cut suit. Tall and built in the wiry form of a dedicated athlete. Short-strap beard around a strong jaw. Tempting made-for-kisses lips. Full-browed dark eyes.
Still the dashing type who could make her fall flat on her face.
Why disappoint him?
“Hello, Oliver. Long-time no see, as they say.” There was an undeniable tickle in her belly and too much heat skimming along her skin. Dinah ignored both reactions as she pushed off the car she’d braced her back on and strolled forward, her gaze on his, her smile coming slowly. “I was debating if this was a crazy idea.”
She was certain now, beyond all reasonable doubt, that it was a darn good idea.
“If what was a crazy idea?” A quizzical frown furrowed his brows and gave him a slight rugged look.
Which, for some mystifying reason, made him more attractive.
“Getting in the bus yesterday to come to Lagos and see you.” She tilted her head in a considering slant. “After we had our chat, I started to wonder what you looked like these days.”
“Really?” Surprise flickered in his eyes.
Not only interest, Dinah thought, watching the simmer of heat as his gaze skimmed over her. He was captivated, which she’d counted on when she chose the indigo jumpsuit and accessorized it rightly to give her the effortless, yet elegant look.
“No, that was a lie. I didn’t come to Lagos to see what you look like these days. Although I have to say you do look good.”
His quick smile showed off perfect dentals. “Thank you. Let me also say you look amazing. You have gone from a pretty young girl to a very attractive woman.”
Dinah gave a demure smile. “Thank you. Anyway, I’ve started to come to my senses and realize I didn’t have to come all this way to say…Well, what I wanted to say.”
Her shoulders went up in a small shrug. “I should have said it during our chat. However, I felt it was too important to be talked over in that way. A letter like that requires a personal response, doesn’t it?”
“A letter?” He looked baffled.
“The one you slipped into my diary ten years ago. I only saw it a few days back. I never did then. If I had, I…” Dinah flicked the hand that held her purse and let out a sigh. “I guess we will never know now what could have been if I’d seen the letter.”
“The letter. I, um, have forgotten about that.”
“You have? Oh dear, this is mortifying.” With a soft gasp, she stumbled back. “Of course, you’ve forgotten about it. It was many years ago, after all. I shouldn’t have come. It’s just…”
She bit down on her lip. “I’ve never read anything like that. Heck, I’ve never received a love letter in my life. It was a love letter, right? The words you said. The way you said them.” Dinah blinked and laughed, shakily. “I’ve clearly made a big deal out of nothing. It was all so long ago. You have your life now and I have mine, and…I think I should go.”
“No, wait.” He clasped a hand over hers. “Don’t go. Let’s talk. Only it can’t be right now as I’ve got to get back to work.”
“You have work. I shouldn’t be here during working hours. That’s so wrong.” She backed another step. “Let’s chat again. That is if you want. I’ll go now.”
“Can we meet this evening? Maybe have dinner, and then talk?”
Dinah looked at the fingers on her wrist. Then returned her gaze on his, deciding it was okay for her pulse to skitter. “You want us to have dinner and talk?”
“Yes, I would like that very much. Please.”
“Okay.” She gave a smile. “Send me a message about the time and venue, and I’ll meet you up.”
“I will do that.” His sexy mouth curled with a smile. “It’s nice to see you again, Dinah. I have to say that.”
“Really?” Her pulse was on a fast-paced relay race now, so she slipped her hand out of his. “I hope you mean that. Anyway, I will see you this evening. Take care.”
“See you this evening, Dinah.”
She nodded, gave a wave with her purse and turned, strolling toward the exit. Dinner with Oliver Kenudi. Would there be a true confession, or persistence in lies?
She would see. For now, she needed to decide which one of the limited outfits she’d brought along best suited this evening’s event.
THE VENUE WAS A classy restaurant at the Maryland area of the mainland, and Dinah was glad she’d gone with the off-shoulder Bodycon dress with its mid-thigh front slit.
She was gladder when those midnight-dark eyes illuminated with sultry appreciation.
“You look stunning. I refrain from saying sexy as I don’t know if you’ll consider the word inappropriate,” he said, smiling as he crooked his arm. “Allow me to escort you to our table?”
“Yes, please.” She slipped her hand through his, saying as she followed him into the restaurant, “Thanks for the compliment, and I wouldn’t have been offended if you said sexy.”
He’d shed the jacket of his suit and had the crisp white shirt rolled up to his elbows. The sleek tie was also gone, and now he looked a lot less polished.
And still liable to make her fall on her face.
An event she wasn’t going to allow being no more a nineteen year old impressionable girl, Dinah thought, sticking a guard over her emotions.
“I’ll keep that in mind for another time,” he said, and reminded her of those charming manners he had when he waited for her to sit before doing so.
“Ready to order?” he asked as a waiter appeared.
“Yes.” Dinah studied the menu and did so. Then said when they were alone again, “Not even a profile picture on Facebook. What’s with that?”
“Not willing to make the effort to upload one, I think. But I do put up pictures once in a while on IG when I make the effort to get in there.” He moved his shoulders in a faint shrug. “I’m not much of the social media type. I keep my socializing offline.”
“You’re one of the serious types who believe social media is for those who have no real social life.”
“I don’t think I am. I mean, I don’t give it much of a thought. If I’m in the mood, or just bored enough, I click open one app or the other and put up a post. That’s how it works with me. It looks like it’s that way for you, too.”
There was a playful smile on his face, and Dinah remembered he used to smile in just that way. With the same flirtatious gleam in his eyes. Only now the gleam was several degrees more intense.
Attraction. One he appeared incapable of hiding.
“I’m not much of a social media enthusiast. But I try to keep my accounts active.”
“You have an amazing collection of pictures—family and friends. You.” He waited for the waiter to serve their food before going on, “I have to say, though, you’re way lovelier in person.”
“Thank you.” He’d looked her up, as she’d done him, and was enthralled by her pictures. By her. Hard as she tried, the sensation of pleasure and her smile weren’t false.
“You reaching out through Facebook was a pleasant surprise.” He ate with his gaze on her.
“You said so.”
“Yes. I must confess I wasn’t thinking of you; haven’t thought of the old days in a long time. But reading through your message, all the old memories came back. Every single one of them.”
The heat in his stare smouldered, and Dinah could have sworn she felt a burn sizzle down her spine and all over her skin.
Head on your goal. Don’t believe every word you hear, Dinah.
“That means you remember the letter,” she said.
“Um, yes. I do remember the letter.” His gaze dropped, and it took a few seconds before it came up again. “I remember also the girl in pink-tinted denims with a fanny pack around her waist, strolling into the library.”
“You mentioned that in your letter. It was the first time you saw me.”
“The second time I’d come to your faculty to find your lecture theatres, and looked in every one until I saw you in the last hall, sitting in a middle row, head bent over a book I doubted very much was a textbook.”
“That’s a very clear memory.” While his tone was light, there was nothing blithe about his steady, dark gaze. “Do you remember what I was wearing that day?”
“Faded blue jeans and a red graphic T-shirt. The red colour is the same shade as what you’re wearing now. Burgundy?”
“Maroon, actually.” A tickle shimmied in her throat, and Dinah feared it was triggered by the foolish hope trying to sneak its way into her heart. “You didn’t mention this part in your letter. But what you said—everything you said was unexpected. I didn’t think you noticed me those days.”
“I noticed you. I…” He gave a crooked smile. “I wanted to be with you. I thought of having you in my life.”
“You’re saying you meant every word in your letter?”
He hesitated, too long. And there was a flicker of doubt in his eyes. Of guilt too, if she was reading right that blink of shame.
“I mean it now when I say I’m glad you got in touch with me, Dinah. I’m glad you’re here with me.”
Guilty blink or not, it looked like dear Oliver Kenudi wasn’t going to do any confessions. Not this evening, if ever.
Are you still playing your game, Oliver?
She should ask him that. But no. She would play his game. That was why she was there, after all.
“I’m glad, too. And I want to say I’m sorry I didn’t give a reply to your letter. You must have thought I saw it and ignored you. I didn’t.” Her voice cracked a little. “I wouldn’t have ignored a letter like that. I want you to know that. I only wish—”
“Why bother with wishes when we’re both here and have this moment?” Oliver said softly. “I like to think the present and future are more important than the past. Don’t you agree?”
“I quite agree,” Dinah said, and smiled.
Continue reading Playing His Game