At eight-thirty that evening, the last guest left the house next door, staggering down the front walk and shouting some joke over his shoulder.
Ada had been pacing her own empty house for the past half-hour, listening to soothing music that was doing nothing to calm her down, and arguing with herself about whether to take Wale’s invitation. He’d just asked her over because he felt sorry for her. He’d probably forgotten all about it. And—
Fuck it. She played a Naira Marley’s music on her phone and swung open the door to her parents’ liquor cabinet for a shot of liquid courage. Whiskey? Gin? She had no idea which one to choose. She had never tried more than a sip of wine.
But time was ticking, so she did her best to toss back a shot of dry gin, spent most of the next minute bent over coughing, then went upstairs to put on her swimsuit, a sundress over it, and just enough makeup to look like she had tried a little but not a lot.
As Ada walked up the path to the house next door, tingling warmth spread through her arms and legs. She was starting to feel more relaxed. The door opened, and she caught the cleft in Wale’s chin, relieved that the right twin had answered the door. Then she sucked in her breath as he bent to kiss her cheek. He was still just wearing his swim trunks, and she realized too late that she was staring at his muscles.
“You came.” He smiled at her, walking her into the kitchen with a hand on her back. Her heartbeat accelerated. Oh yes, she had, just a few hours ago. Suddenly she wondered if Wale could smell her pussy on her fingers, and instead of being terrified, her stomach curled with arousal.
A little part of her hoped he could. He was standing much closer than he needed to. “I was about to go over there and get you myself. Beer?”
Party leftovers littered the long kitchen. Ada blinked at the bags of chin-chin spilling out, the bottles everywhere, the open jars of sauce, the melting ice. “I— sure. I’ve never tried it.”
He opened a bottle from the cooler, handed it to her with a smile, and guided her to the backyard. There was no way he could know what his hand at the small of her back was doing to her. She tried to breathe normally as his thumb stroked her through her light dress, right above the waistband of her swimsuit tights. At least that stupid shot of vodka was helping. Her legs weren’t shaking now, even though her crotch was already damp again.
“Make yourself comfortable,” he said softly. Was that a joke? She couldn’t be farther from comfortable right now. “Feel free to swim. I’m going to do some cleanup, but I’ll be down soon.”
What? Ada stared at his back as he walked away, outlined against the setting sun. This was what she’d been afraid of. Maybe she hadn’t passed the fun test. Should she have kissed Wale when he met her at the door? She had no idea what the hell to do.
At least he had stranded her in an empty backyard, with only the chirping crickets and the darkening sky for company, instead of in the middle of a big party. Sighing, she sipped the bitter bubbly drink in her hand, just to have something to do. But as the bottle got lighter in her hand, she began to relax again, leaning back in the chair.
Years had passed since she had set foot in this backyard, but she still knew it so well. There was the long pool in the middle where she had tried to hold her own in water fights with the twins, the lights strung up over the area that had held birthday parties, the darkness at the back of the yard where clumps of trees made tall shapes against the deepening night sky, and, buried in those trees, the shed the twins’ dad had built for them ten years ago.
She remembered the “no girls allowed” sign Tunde had posted on the building, and the way Wale had tried to convince him to take it down.
It felt good to be back. Safe, really. Comforting. Relaxing. It was probably better that Wale had left her alone. And the pool looked so inviting.
She stood up, set the empty beer bottle on the table, laid her glasses down next to it, and pulled her dress over her head. More warmth spread through her body, curling out from her stomach in the most relaxing way.
Kicking off her slippers, she strolled to the edge of the pool and jumped in, not with a sleek dive, but a belly flop. Ohh — that stung. In a good way. The pool was pleasantly warm, still holding the heat from the day, and she swam a slow lap, enjoying the way the water caressed her body and flowed over her curves, washing away the stress and all of the senior year.
Her head felt so relaxed now. Wale had been right — she should celebrate after six years of hard work, or at least take it easy for a little while. Her whole body was tingling. Her limbs felt a little heavier, but she could still move easily through the water.
On the second lap, she rolled onto her back and floated. The sun had set completely now, leaving the sky dark and salted with stars, with the only light in the backyard coming from the bulb over the area.
Suddenly, a noisy drumbeat split the quiet air. The noise made her splutter and kick. Water streamed into her eyes as someone cranked up the growling music even higher and jumped into the pool with an enormous splash. A sleek body, outlined in the darkness, sent water arcing up, moving swiftly past her with powerful strokes.
“Wale…?” she asked.
“Tunde,” he said briefly over his shoulder and sped towards the end of the pool.
Ada groaned. Why did Tunde have to show up and ruin her relaxation? And where was Wale? The kitchen had been messy, but not that messy. Maybe he was avoiding her, figuring he had fulfilled his social charity work by planting a couple of pity smooches on her and inviting her over to swim.
She tried to ignore Tunde as he swam past her the other way — he had always been a fast swimmer — but he was noisy in the water, and the pounding bass vibrated through the pool. As he swam past her on one lap, then another, it became obvious: he was crowding her, forcing her to move closer and closer to the side of the pool until she barely had room to swim.
Prickling with irritation, she turned abruptly and cut across his path. A hand grabbed her ankle, and she gasped. She could have sworn Tunde was on the other side of the pool.
“What are you doing?” she hissed when he surfaced, his fingers still wrapped around her ankle. It was completely upsetting, even in the near-dark, to be looking into the same handsome face that had leaned in to kiss her a few hours ago — the same deep dimples, white teeth, and beautiful eyes.
This was definitely Tunde, though. Wale’s lips would never be twisted in that mocking half-grin, while she had been seeing that superior smile on Tunde’s face for as long as she could remember. That is, until he stopped smiling at her at all.
Water dripped off his face, and his hair was wet from swimming. With a jolt, she realized she was too annoyed to be paralyzed with shyness.
“This is my lane,” he said. As she kicked, he let go suddenly, only to grasp her waist. More irritation surged through her. Without thinking, she grabbed his broad shoulders so he couldn’t push her under.
“You’re crowding me. You did it on purpose.” And he was crowding her now, closer even than Wale had been in her bedroom. His breath was hot on her cheek.
“Nah. You’re just blind without those stupid glasses on.”
“I can see you just fine,” she snapped. “And I wish I couldn’t. You’re polluting my view. And my eardrums.”
“You’re in my pool.” She could barely see the smirk on his face, but she could definitely hear it in his voice over the waves of music reverberating through the backyard.
“Wale invited me.” And where the hell was he? “And now I’m drowning in offensive stupid music.” Too pissed to be scared, she glared at him. “And so is the whole neighborhood. You’re going to get arrested.”
“Ooh, arrested,” he mimicked. “The worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m so scared. But not as scared as you are, Mrs-perfection who’s never broken a rule.”
“How do you know?” she snapped. “You haven’t talked to me in, oh, six or seven years.”
“I don’t have to. It’s written all over your clothes, and your perfect record that my mom brings up all the time, and the way you walk around like a princess who’s better than everyone else. And you haven’t talked to me, either.”
Ada could only stare at him. Her whole body was hot now. Why did he have to be squeezing her waist like his hands had every right to be there, and why wasn’t she telling him to let go? His broad shoulders were smooth under her palms, and so muscular.
“I don’t think I’m better than everyone else.” Her voice dropped. Tunde was staring at her, his face much too close to hers. They had kicked their way out to the middle of the pool, and she felt completely defenseless.
“Did you like it when my brother kissed you?” His voice was low now, too.
Heat rushed to her cheeks. “He told you?”
“We don’t have any secrets from each other.” Tunde’s mouth was so close to her ear now, his lips brushed her skin.
“He told me it was your first kiss.” He squeezed her waist.
“And you’re an innocent little girl who doesn’t know what to do with boys.” He pushed her wet hair off her face and gave it a tug. “And you were all alone in your house, too scared to come to our party.”
“Those are my secrets,” she whispered, the air knocked out of her. “Not Wale’s.”
“Now they’re mine too.” He grinned at her.
Anger and embarrassment stung her throat. Only one way with Tunde, she reminded herself: fight back, fight harder. She dug her fingers into his arms, gripping them as hard as she could. “Why are you such a bastard, Tunde?” she snarled.
“Why are you such an uptight brat?”
“I’m not,” she gritted between her teeth.
Oh, God. What was happening? She leaned forward — she, not Tunde. As soon as her lips touched his, he pulled her closer with a low growl. Shocked, she opened her mouth to his tongue as he kissed her roughly. Her head spun. She would have gasped for breath, but Tunde’s tongue, hot and determined, didn’t leave her any room to gasp.
Why was he doing this? Why was she doing this? And why was hot desire shooting through her body along with fury? Confused, panting, and painfully aroused, she raked her nails down his back and bit his lower lip, hard.
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