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Friday, February 12, 2016

Storms of Love (1)


Amara was in a meeting with a client when Dave, an assistant in the office entered. 

"There's someone at the reception asking for you," he said, standing by the open door.
"Who's it?" she queried, slightly irritated. She hated being interrupted when busy with a client.

"He said a friend," he said with a shrug.
  
"Ok. I'll soon be done here."

As she passed through the reception to see her client off, she saw him. It was Ebi, the guy she had met on the flight from Lagos a few days before.

 "You didn't call me you were coming," she said crisply as they entered her office.

 "Sorry. I tried your number but couldn't reach 
you. Probably network problem," he explained.

 "So, what can I do for you?" Amara studied him, noting how different he looked from when they met.

 They had sat together on the flight and had got chatting. On landing at the Port Harcourt International Airport, his driver had been waiting and he had offered her a lift to her office at GRA Phase 2.

 He was smartly dressed in a navy suit with a burgundy tie and expensive looking pair of shoes. 

The outfit set off his tall, slim frame off well, making him look really handsome. 
He smiled at her.

 "Have you forgotten so soon what we discussed on the plane?" 

 She remembered quite alright. He had suggested the accounting firm where she worked, handle the auditing of his company. It was an oil services business which he ran with a partner.

 "I didn't know you were serious about it," she told him.

 "I don't joke with anything concerning my business," he rejoined, smiling a little.

  She then put on her computer and they discussed business for a while.

  "I'll be in your office in a couple of days to do some paperwork before we can start," she said sometime later as he rose to leave. 
At the door, he turned.

 "Do you have anything lined up for this weekend?"

 She looked at him quizzically then shook her head.

 "No. Why do you ask?"
 "I was wondering if we could go out for dinner or something..." said Ebi.

 "Sorry, can't make it," she said shortly.

 "A pity. Maybe some other time then," he said then left.

  The following week, the auditing work began, making Amara to spend a lot of time at Ebi's office. 

For the first few days, she was very busy and did not see him. Then, one afternoon, as 
 she was heading out of the office complex to an eatery nearby for a quick lunch, she saw him drive in.

 They exchanged greetings and when she told him where she was heading to, he offered to take her for lunch.
 When she declined, he said:

"It seems you don't like me. Have I offended you in any way?" 

 She was surprised at his words.

 "Why do you say that?" she queried.
 "This is the second time I've invited you out and you've rejected me. That can only mean one thing."

 "I've nothing against you. It's just that you are my client and I don't mix business with pleasure," she explained. That was not the main reason but she was not about to tell him that.

 "Will you go out with me then when the job finishes?" he asked.

 She shrugged.
 "Maybe," she replied vaguely before leaving. 

She knew it was never going to happen as she was not ready to go out on a date with any man then or ever. 

She had suffered too much in the hands of men, making her swear never to have anything to do with them ever.

 But she had reckoned without Ebi's persistence.
 After concluding the auditing job in his company, she thought she would never see him again. But he kept calling, inviting her for one outing or the other. 

She declined all.

 In the past, she would not have minded going out with him. He was charming, good looking and he had money. Lots of it from what she had seen while doing his accounts.

 But things were different now. So many awful stuff had happened to her in the past that had put her off men. She would not make an exception in Ebi's case no matter how attractive or tempting he was...

 ***
 One Saturday, she had gone to the office to work on the account of a client that was due for submission on Monday. 

 Being a weekend, there were few people in the office. She worked steadily till afternoon when she decided to leave and visit her sister, Flora who lived at Woji area of the city.

 "Done for the day?" said a voice as she walked towards her car.

 She turned to see Ebi sitting on the bonnet of his car, his car keys dangling in his hand.
 "What are you doing here?" demanded Amara in a surprised tone.

 "Have you heard the saying about Mohammed and the mountain?" he asked teasingly, then added: "I just couldn't stay away. I had to see you."

 "Why? What do you want from me? The job you gave me has been concluded. There's no need for us to see each other anymore," she said.
 "But there is, Amara. I want to see you, be with you. But you keep pushing me away," he stated.

 She sighed.
 "I'm sorry there's nothing I can do about it. I've to go," she said, turning away.
 But he held her hand to stop her.

 "Please, just let me take you out just once. And if you don't want to see me again after that, I'll be fine with it," he cajoled.

 They first went to the cinema to watch a movie. It was a comedy film and Amara could not remember laughing so much in a long time.

 Later, they ate at a bar cum restaurant at the old GRA in the city. They chatted as they ate, with Ebi telling her stories about his time when he worked on oil rigs far away in the ocean.

 Strangely, she felt relaxed with him, in a way she had not felt with any man in a long while.
 "Thanks for the evening. I had a nice time," she said when he dropped her at the office so she could pick her car.

 "Glad to hear that. Can we do this again? Tomorrow, perhaps?" he asked her.

 "That's not possible," she said, shaking her head. It was too risky; she could not afford to let her guard down. Doing so often resulted in heartbreak. And she did not want that. Never again...

 With that resolve, she refused to see him again, or pick his calls avoiding him as much as possible.

 That was until late one evening when she had closed for the day. 
 She was about to enter her car when she saw him driving in.
 He told her to get in his car as he had something to tell her.

   "What's it you are afraid of, Amara?" he asked, gazing intently at her in the dim light coming in from the car park lights.

 "Afraid? Of who? I'm not afraid of anyone!" she denied hotly. She stared fixedly through the windscreen, refusing to meet his gaze.

 "Then why have you been avoiding me? You don't even pick when I call you. What's wrong?" he queried.

 "Nothing. I was busy."

 "Too busy for me? I thought we had a connection," said Ebi, continuing to stare at her.

 "You were mistaken, Ebi. There was nothing like that," Amara said firmly.

 "Are you sure? Look at me and tell me you didn't enjoy the time we spent together some days ago," Ebi noted.

 But she still refused to look in his direction. She knew that doing so, gazing into those mesmeric eyes of his, would weaken her resolve. To avoid getting involved with him. Because doing so in the past had brought nothing but pain and heartache.

 She had suffered too much of that to last her a life time. She wanted what was left of her heart to herself, not sharing it with anyone.
 But Ebi was having none of that. 

 Holding her by the chin, he turned her round to face him. The look in her eyes, a strange mix of dread and longing, made him smile.

 "You see, I was right! I know you like me. I like you too, Amara. Very much," he said as his lips closed in on hers.

 She stiffened, with surprise and shock as it was so unexpected. She tried to resist him, but it was hard, as his soft lips explored her mouth, teasing, tasting, savouring. 

 With a sigh, she relaxed, her arms wound round his neck and she gave herself up to the sweet sensations washing over her...



To be continued...

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