• Stories

    Me, John and Love – #1 PATRA

    When I abandoned my lone debate over serif or sans serif font for the book cover I was crafting to answer my front door, the last person I expected to encounter was John Dumbiri.

    What the freaking heck was he doing here again? I asked myself, wishing I’d ignored the bell. Or that I could work up the poor manners to slam the door in his face.

    “Hello,” he said.


    I sighed at the commonplace greeting delivered with a charming smile. It was his voice, not the smile though, that sent a cruise of warm tingles along my skin.

    A reaction I didn’t appreciate, and one out of the three reasons I didn’t want him at my door, or anywhere close to me. The second reason was the attraction I read in his gaze. The same attraction would be replicated in mine, and plain for him to see, if I was interested in any kind of relationship with John.

    I wasn’t.

    My lack of interest was due, in part, to the fact that the first time John Dumbiri was at my door, he was sprawled out on his back and we presumed he was dead.

    In his unconscious state, Abba, Ronnie, Jide and I had believed him to be a corpse and we’d gone through the worst hours of our lives trying to get rid of it.

    We didn’t want a dead body to be discovered on my backyard. Although we hadn’t killed him, we’d have been alleged suspects in his murder investigation. That’s what the Nigerian police would have tagged my cousin, best friend, her boyfriend and me. Alleged suspects.

    Or not. If they checked his pulse, as we should have done, and confirmed he wasn’t dead.

    If he had, in actual fact, been dead, he wouldn’t be here causing pertinent parts of my body no small amount of discomfort by just being tall, dark and–good-looking.

    All in black attire.

    “Going to a funeral, or coming from one?” I asked.

    “Neither. I left home only with the intention to see you. May I come in?”

    “No, you may not.”

    The man possessed the power to make me overly aware of his body and mine, and I wasn’t going to put my willpower to the test by letting him into my house.

    “That’s not polite.”

    His eyes were the colour of rich, dark chocolate and sparkled with humour.

    What the heck? I thought, appalled that I’d just described his eyes. Since when did I begin to notice the colour of anyone’s eyes, and compared them to chocolate?

    I’d never before done that.

    I didn’t even particularly like chocolate.

    “I wasn’t intending to be polite. I don’t appreciate people turning up at my house without invitation. So, I want you to leave.” My tone was colder than it needed to be because I was annoyed at myself. “And I’m telling you, this time face to face, that I want nothing to do with you.”

    “You’re right. It’s impolite to visit without invitation. I’m sorry.”

    A sheen of remorse glazed his eyes. I could tell he was sorry, but not so much. For the darnedest reason, the small act of impenitence intrigued me.

    A fourth reason why he was never to be allowed into my life. I had a history of taking men I found intriguing to bed, to test out how far that effect would go. Most times it burned out quickly like a poorly lit flame.

    The problem was never, ever, the man. It was me.

    If I gave in to whatever John inspired in me, I would have the same problem after a mere few weeks. Two, or three months at the highest. I’d never made it to three months, if the truth were to be said.

    “Your apology is accepted. All the same, you have to leave.” Suddenly, I felt weary. Facing the fact that I might be shallow as my mother implied during my last visit drained some of my energy. “I am not interested in friendship with you, or whatever it is you’re after.”

    “I am after you, Patra. Destiny is at work when it comes to you and I. Of all the backyards I could have lost unconsciousness in that night, it was yours. And instead of depositing me at some hospital, you took care of me until I came to. We share a special connection.”

    “There’s nothing special about that night,” I retorted, evading the lure to be mesmerized by his words. “You had party drugs and passed out at my backdoor. And we didn’t take care of you. The four of us thought you were dead and were desperate to get rid of your body. We were trying to figure out how best to do so when you regained consciousness. End of story.”

    “I beg to differ. That’s where the story began. I woke up, saw the most beautiful face any man ever saw–“

    “Oh, please.” I snorted.

    He chuckled. “I agree. That’s an exaggeration. But you’re beautiful, and I was enchanted once I saw you. Then I sat at your kitchen table and ate a meal with you, your cousin and friends. It started there, Patra, not ended.”

    When he laughed, although it was only a low, short laugh, it came out deep and rumbling. Like the deep purr of a large cat.

    Stop it, Patra. Stop romanticizing him and his every action. Stop reacting to them, I scolded myself, willing the heat brought on by burgeoning lust to disappear.

    “It may have started for you, John, but when you left that morning, it was the end for me.” I liked his name, I thought, and not for the first time. It was strong and manly, like him.

    Again, I needed to stop thinking about him.

    “But it didn’t end. We kept in touch.”

    “Only because you insisted.”

    “Also because you’re not indifferent to me.”

    “Are you talking about physical attraction? There’s nothing to admit or deny there. You’re an attractive man and I’m human enough to take notice. Yet, it make no difference. I don’t want you in my life, John.”


    “Because I’m not interested in a relationship with a man at the moment. There, you have a reason. Happy now?”

    “No, I’m not happy. I want us to go inside, sit down and talk about why you’re not interested in a relationship with a man. Or are you bisexual? Because I know you’ve been with men before.”

    I searched his face for a sneer, or anything negative, as he clearly pondered on the true nature of my sexuality. There was nothing but thoughtful curiosity.

    Good for him. I didn’t have to add bigotry to the list of reasons I wanted him gone.

    “We’re not going to do anything. There’s no we, to begin with. There will never be, that’s what I’m telling you. You have absolutely no right to make demands. But I do, as you’re at my house. I’m asking you to go. Right now.”

    “You’re running away. Why didn’t I think of it before? You don’t want me close because you’re afraid of what you feel for me.”

    “You presumptuous idiot,” I hissed, half hating him because he was right. Only half, as the other half of me found his confidence as intriguing as his earlier impenitence. “I don’t want you close because you’re obviously irresponsible and abuse drugs. I don’t associate with your kind.”

    “I don’t have a kind. I don’t abuse drugs and I’m not irresponsible.” In a swift move that caused me to blink in shock, he grabbed and pulled me hard against him. “I’m going to tell you one thing I don’t appreciate. It’s disrespect. I try my hardest never to disrespect anyone, and I don’t at all welcome it. Do you understand me, Patra?”

    His eyes were stormy with repressed temper. His voice was hard and unyielding. His fingers dug into my flesh. He held me in a vise-like grip against him, using his other hand to imprison me against his body.

    In all intents and purposes, he could harm me. Yet, I wasn’t scared. My heart was racing, out of anticipation, not apprehension. I was hot and aware of every single inch of him, and I wanted him to drop those full, supple lips of his on mine.

    I wanted him to kiss me.

    Just kiss me.


    “Ask it of me,” he said, his voice whispery, seductive. Temper was gone from his eyes.

    He wanted me to ask him to kiss me.

    I opened my mouth to ask him, because really, there was no reason not to, and from across the compound, someone called out.

    “Patra? What is going on?”

    Damn you, Tracy, I cursed my neighbour, and hated her above all else for at least ten second.

    For only that meagre amount of time, as I soon silently thanked her for her timely interruption. A second longer and I would have buried myself into another pit of romantic mistake.

    “Let me go. We have an audience witnessing what they shouldn’t, no thanks to you. And one thing I don’t appreciate is making a spectacle of myself.”

    “We could pretend she’s not there. I don’t care if we have an audience or not.”

    But he’d released his hold on me, and I was fully back to my senses.

    “I do care. You’ll have to come in, after all. Tracy will be leaving for work in twenty to thirty minutes. That’s all the time you’ll get inside my house.” Fixing a smile, I turned to Tracy. As expected, she was still on her porch, watching us. “Hey, Trace. I’ll talk to you when you get back.”

    “No qualms. But are you okay?”

    Oh, she knew I was okay. Her interest was in the details of that ‘okay’.

    “I’m fine,” I called back, waited until she turned to clear the folding table where she usually had breakfast, and retreated inside. “Don’t put your hands on me again. Do you understand me, John?”

    He nodded, then smiled. “I understand you. And I think we both understand you didn’t mind having my hands on you. We both understand you wanted more than my hands on you for a moment back there. I hope you understand I wanted the same thing you did.”

    “You know what? I was wrong thinking I needed to ask you in, so Tracy doesn’t wonder what’s going on. You should go. Goodbye, John.”

    He didn’t move. And for several seconds, he watched me with a narrowed, thoughtful stare. Then he sighed.

    “I left home with the goal to do one of two things. To either charm you and convince you to have lunch with me. Or to tell you that if you’re not willing to let me in, I’m backing off.”

    He would back off.

    That meant he would stop chatting with me on WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger, three or four times a week. Sometimes, five times. He would never again call and irritate me into having a two-minute, mostly one-sided conversation with him.

    I would be rid of him once and for all.

    The innards of my stomach roiled with distaste and I think, panic. I didn’t want to do without those chats or calls, and I didn’t want to know that if I said goodbye to him today, it’d be forever.

    Or more realistically, for a long time.

    “Oh, shit,” I swore aloud.

    “My thought exactly,” he said, and grinned.

    God help me.

    Really, God help me, because right at that moment when the broad smile lit his face, crinkled the sides of his eyes and flashed the dimple on his left cheek, I wanted him to pull me against him and kiss me.

    Just hold me, and kiss me.


    Don’t forget our new books: Her Love Story and For Love and Family are on Bambooks and Okadabooks.

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