Back behind the counter, Kate gives the food orders to Godwin in the kitchen and then walks over to place some coffee orders with Shade, a bubbly, petite lady who’s acting as a barista and handling the counter for takeout orders. Kate and Shade had hit it off from her first shift.
“Kate! Who is that fine boy you came in with o!?!” Shade asks, gesturing her head toward where Michael is sitting. Kate looks at Shade and a huge smile spreads across her face, while a blush creeps up her face.
“Oh my god, you’re doing him!” Shade exclaims.
“Shade!” Kate frowns at her. “Shhhh.” Kate says as she looks around to see if anyone heard that.
“Oh my god, you like just did him, didn’t you?”
Shade lowers her voice. “He He He, Kate, it’s written all over your face. And his,” she says. “Plus he hasn’t stopped staring at since you came in.”
“Really?” Kate smiles.
“Yeah, he has literally watched you the whole time as you walked all around the place.” Shade says, “Sooo, who is he? When did this happen?”
“He’s Michael,” Kate says wistfully, looking over at him, a giant grin on her face. Shade places her hands on her hips.
“No coffees for you until you start talking,” Shade admonishes. Kate laughs. “Your customers are not going to be terribly happy if we delay too long.”
“Well, you know Pamela and Jide who I live with?” Shade nods. Kate continues, “he’s Jide’s best friend. He hangs out at the flat all the time.”
“Uh huh,” Shade nods once, and tilts her chin forward with her eyebrows raised, waiting for more.
“Well, I’ve been secretly lusting after him for months. Turns out, he felt the same way about me.” Kate glances lovingly over at Michael, then turns back to Shade and continues, “When I didn’t show up at that party last night, he came by the flat looking for me.” Shade is grinning broadly, clearly happy for Kate.
“Well, the party was rubbish. I’m sure you had a much better time than I did,” Shade rolls her eyes, but smiles at Kate.
“No doubt,” Kate says and blushes again. Shade gives her a knowing smile and turns to start making the coffees.
“I want to hear more about him later, after the lunch rush,” Shade says.
Kate just smiles and fills some glasses with water and takes them to the table that asked for them. She feels like she’s floating on air as she flits about the café, visiting the tables and checking in with the patrons, bringing them their coffees. She heads back to the kitchen and picks up a number of food orders, one of which is Michael’s sandwich. She takes his first, and heads over to where he is sitting.
As she walks over toward him, their eyes meet. A tingle rushes through her body just from the eye contact. The look in his eyes seems to reveal a combination of affection and longing. Her hips sway a little more as she walks. God, he is so sexy, she thinks.
Smiling at each other, they have a conversation with their eyes. I want you, he says with his eyes. I want you too, she says with hers. His gaze travels deliberately over her body while she walks toward him. I want to peel your clothes off and kiss and lick every inch of your skin, he says with his eyes. I want to jump on you and fuck you right here on this chair, she says with hers. She realizes that this last idea of hers is probably not the best for her job security, though. She giggles to herself as she arrives and leans in close.
“What’s so funny?” he whispers as she approaches.
“Just thinking….” she whispers to him while placing his sandwich on the table beside him. She turns her eyes to his and the fire burning behind his eyes makes her blush. She averts her eyes and starts to pull away.
“Thinking about what?” he whispers with a low growl, and places his hand over hers, motioning for her to stay close. The touch makes her shiver. He notices and smiles. She glances around quickly, and seeing no one watching them, she looks back into the depths of his eyes. He’s staring into her eyes with such intensity, she cannot look away. Her heartbeat speeds up. For some reason, she feels compelled to answer.
Fighting through her embarrassment, she drops her voice to a hoarse whisper, “I was just thinking that what I’d like to do to you right now would get me fired.”
Michael raises his eyebrows and his eyes flash wickedly. Kate gives him a sultry smile, and straightens up, and turns to go back to the gallery upstairs. She looks back over her shoulder at him and sees him staring after her, dumbfounded, mouth gaping open. She smiles to herself.
After about three hours, Kate comes downstairs to find Michael still at the café. She swings by his seat again and asks him if he wants another refill of his coffee.
“No thanks, I think four cups is enough,” he chuckles holding her gaze. The eye contact makes her shiver and her nipples get instantly hard. He notices and smiles knowingly. Then he adds, “Actually, I probably should go home, shower and change.”
“But you look so good in this,” Kate smiles. He smiles broadly back at her. Kate raises her eyebrow, “besides, you’ve already had two showers in the past 24 hours.” Michael smiles wickedly, apparently remembering them both fondly. He sighs.
Oh my god, did he actually just sigh?
“I really should go,” he says after a long moment of gazing at her.
Kate looks a bit sad but realizes it’s best. She does have to work another five hours, so she can’t really spend time with him here.
Seeing the sad thoughtful look on her face, Michael adds. “I’ll be back before your shift is over. I mean, if you want me to….”
“Of course I want you to,” she implores seriously. “….if you want to.”
“Just try and keep me away,” he smiles and seeing her return the smile, the look in his eyes turns wicked again for just a moment. “In fact, it will take every ounce of my willpower not to drag you out of here before you’re done”
They share another smile while wicked thoughts pass behind both their eyes.
As he stands, he holds his hand out offering her five one thousand naira notes. She looks at it with confusion.
“My bill,” he says.
“It’s nowhere near this much, and I’ve already covered it,” she says pushing the money back at him.
“I can’t let you do that,” he says, offering the money back to her.
“Already done,” she says pushing the money back at him, looking stern and serious. Her look says there will be no more discussion on this point.
Michael gives up seeing that look on her face. “Alright. Then I owe you dinner,” he says.
“Deal,” she says smiling brightly.
As they fall silent, there’s an awkward moment, as he clearly wants to kiss her but knows it’s not prudent here at her place of work. Kate shivers as he reaches out and gently caresses her upper arm just below the shoulder. He’s looking into her eyes with such endearing affection as he slides his hand down her arm and off the end of her fingertips. She literally shivers.
“See you soon,” he whispers, as he turns to go.
She smiles broadly at him and watches him leave. She feels an odd emptiness after the café door closes. She’s never been so impatient for her day to end in her life.
Michael walks home from the gallery thinking about all that has happened in the past 24 hours. Images and memories from last night and this morning flit through his head one after another. He just can’t seem to wipe the smile off his face or quell the bounce in his step.
Then he starts to think of the many things that have transpired over the past few months and how, in hindsight, they all have new meaning for him now. It strikes him how little he’s actually made eye contact with Kate in the past three months. So many evenings hanging out at the apartment with Jide, Pamela, and Kate. So many conversations. So few times they actually made eye contact.
It seems unusual. He realizes now it was because they would often be staring at each other and would look away when the other one would “catch” them, just like she had described in her story. And thinking back on it now, the times they had made eye contact, she had always seemed to be blushing.
He remembers another time he had arrived at the apartment after work. It had been the season of the Champions’ League, so there were games playing on a Thursday. Jide had called him, said he was leaving work early and asked if James could get away from work to catch the 4:15 game. Jide said he had the fridge stocked with beer and suggested they meet at the apartment, order pizza and watch the game.
So Michael had shown up at the apartment straight from work, wearing his business suit. Jide had called out from the living room. “Guy, you’re just in time. Opening kick-off! I’ve got a cold one here for you.”
As Michael was walking toward the living room, Kate had come out of the kitchen, carrying a plate of pancakes and cup of tea. She’d been wearing an old t-shirt and yoga pants, her hair tied up in a messy bun, no makeup on. She had clearly been startled to see him. He had noticed how, at first, her eyes had gone wide with surprise. A smile jumped quickly into her eyes, then they traveled over him. She had said, “Wow, you clean up nice.” He had smiled at that, and his eyes had traveled over her while she had been checking him out.
He thought she looked amazing. She always looked delicious to him. She then seemed to remember how she was dressed, looked down at herself and furrowed her brows. As he was about to say something, she’d said sheepishly, “better get back to my essay,” and she had hurried back to her room. Michael watched her backside as she walked away and closed her bedroom door.
Later when she had joined them in the living room for pizza, she was wearing nicer clothes and had makeup on. It didn’t register at the time.
Other moments with Kate occurring over the past three months, take on new shape and significance in his memory, resolving now as signs of their attraction to each other, signs of their growing connection. So many phrases, so many little gestures, take on new meaning now in hindsight. Damn, if only I’d known sooner, he thinks, we’ve wasted three months.
But then he realizes, maybe they haven’t wasted three months. Maybe they needed all of that time to get to where they are now. So many times in the past, he’d acted quickly on his initial lustful attractions and had sex with women right after meeting them, often that night. It had never lasted. Sure a few had lasted for a couple of weeks, maybe months.
A couple had turned into fuck buddies. But he’d never had a long-term loving relationship that worked.
Now, he was at a completely different place. He had feelings of genuine affection for her before he had sex with her. The most amazing part was that the sex was so much better, so much more, because of his feelings. There was this reciprocal emotional connection between them. It wasn’t just carnal enjoyment.
Well, it was definitely that! But it was so much more! And then… it was like the incredible emotional connection during sex, plus the fact that she felt the same way about him, had solidified things and made his feelings for her even stronger. He was definitely in uncharted territory here. Is this what love is like?
He suddenly realizes that he’s walked the whole way home with very little awareness of his surroundings.
As he walks into the house he shares with his roommates, he is immediately greeted by the smell of stale rice, stale beer, and sweat. He chuckles to himself. Looks like it was a usual Friday night here. They probably came back here after the party.
As he steps into the living room he sees his roommates Chuks and Kunle sitting on the couch playing on the Xbox. An open pizza box containing only crusts is on the armchair. Papers and clothes are scattered throughout the room and there are several empty beer bottles and soda cans strewn on various surfaces.
“Hey, guys!” Michael calls warmly as he enters the living room.
Chuks and Kunle look up from their game, smiling broadly to see him arrive home. Chuks pauses the game. They make quite a pair. Chuks is small and thin, and Igbo, with sharp features, dark eyes, and jet black hair. He wears black jeans, a white dress shirt, and a blue vest. Kunle is tall, slightly overweight, and light-skinned, with messy brown hair. Usually teased of escaping albinoism. He wears a bright yellow t-shirt and shorts. Kunle’s mass on the couch seems to be almost twice that of Chuks’.
“Michael, you dog!” Chuks says, “Out all night again!”
“You left the party pretty early, man. Who’d you hook up with?” Kunle asks.
“Um…Kate,” Michael responds.
“Fuck off,” Chuks says, “I didn’t even see her there.” Simultaneously Kunle says, “Pamela’s friend Kate? The hot chick with the tight ass and big tits?” He says chuckling and gesturing with his hands in front of his chest.
“Hey, don’t talk about her that way,” Michael says sternly, looking at Kunle.
Chuks and Kunle look at each other and burst out laughing.
“I’m serious, guys, I don’t want you to talk about her that way,” Michael says raising his voice. They both stop laughing and look at him.
A serious look crosses Chuks’ eyes and he begins watching Michael’s face more intently.
Kunle simply looks incredulous. Chuckling, he speaks up: “Who the fuck are you and what have you done with Michael?”
Michael laughs, slightly amused and slightly perturbed. He is about to respond, but, before he gets a chance to answer, his phone beeps. He fishes it out of his pocket and looks to see who has texted him.
“Fuck, it’s Linda,” he says with no attempt to disguise his annoyance. He knows what the text will say before he even reads it. Nevertheless, he clicks to open the window and reads:
“Hey, baby! I’m free tonight. I’ve got an itch only you can scratch. Can you stop by after 11? ;-)”
“Linda!” Kunle says, raising his eyebrows with a mischievous smile. “Linda tonight. Kate last night. Shit man, how do you do it?”
“I have no interest in seeing Linda,” Michael says lowly, almost to himself as he grabs the pizza box off the armchair and drops it to the floor. He sinks into the seat. As if thinking out loud, he adds, “Fuck. I don’t want to deal with this right now.” He looks up at his friends again and asks, “How do you break up with a fuck buddy, anyway?”
Kunle still looks incredulous. “What do you mean break it off? Are you crazy? Break off regular no-strings sex…..with Linda? What the hell is wrong with you?”
Chuks has been observing Michael intently since he came in. Realization dawns on his face. He puts his Xbox controller down on the center table and looks at Michael with serious concern in his face. “Oh man, you’ve got it bad, don’t you?”
Michael looks at Chuks and smiles sheepishly. “I do? …uh….yeah… I guess,” He mumbles incoherently.
Chuks nods thoughtfully, seemingly to himself. “S’up, Michael?” Chuks asks.
“She’s just…. I mean… She’s so…. “ Michael pauses and collects his thoughts. Kunle and Chuks both watch him intently – Kunle with a slightly incredulous and disdainful look; Chuks with sincere curiosity and concern.
“She’s amazing.” Michael finally gets a sentence out. He takes a breath, and continues, “Last night at the party, when she didn’t show up, I was disappointed she wasn’t there. I realized how much I was looking forward to seeing her. Too much, you know? I realized….” He trails off.
Chuks raises his eyebrows waiting for more.
Michael doesn’t want to say this out loud to these guys. It’s too soon to talk about this. We just hooked up last night, he thinks. It was different telling Jide….and I shouldn’t have said that to Jide this morning, anyway. Fuck, why did I do that? I was disoriented.
Oh well, it’s already out there now. Anyway, these guys know me almost as well as Jide. They’re some of the best friends I have. But I’d rather it was just Chuks. Oh well, Kunle will know about this eventually anyway. Might as well deal with it now.
Michael takes another deep breath and continues, “I realized I actually had feelings for her. It wasn’t just about wanting to fuck her, you know? Well, of course, that was part of it – a big part. But it was more than that. I actually just had to see her, you know? I missed her. It was disappointing that she wasn’t there. I realized I had to go over to the apartment to see her. Turns out she’s really into me too, so…we hooked up.”
Michael smiles awkwardly and pauses there. He sees Chuks smiling thoughtfully so he continues, “but now…. now I don’t want to see Linda. I don’t want to see anyone else.” He looks at both of them. “I’m totally fucked aren’t I?”
The guys had all been through this when they each met different girls. Each of them had had girlfriends, except Michael. Well, he’d actually had lots of girls, but rarely had a long-term commitment to any one of them. Things had changed for the guys when Jide had met Pamela.
Jide changed. Jide fell in love. At first, Michael had looked down on Jide for being “weak”, but also, in a way, Michael had envied Jide. He didn’t like feeling that way about his best friend. He didn’t like having a woman come between them. It took a while, but Michael eventually found that he just had to get used to hanging out with Jide and Pamela a lot of the time. And he honestly was genuinely happy for Jide.
Michael looked to Chuks more than Kunle. He’d always had a deeper connection and more serious conversations with Chuks. Kunle seemed to want to continue to act like they were still 21-year-old undergrads, even though they were all closer to 30 than 20.
“You just hooked up for the first time, last night, right?” Chuks asks.
“Yeah,” Michael says, and couldn’t help the smile that lit his face and the mischievous look that entered his eyes. “And this morning,” Michael adds smiling.
Chuks rolls his eyes but smiles anyway. He leans forward, leaning his elbows on his knees, giving Michael his full attention.
“But you’ve known each other for….. how long?” He asks.
“Three months,” Michael supplied, leaning forward, responding to Chuks’ body language.
“And how do you feel about her now?”
“I can’t wait to be with her again. She’s so amazing. The things she did to me…..” he trails off with a wicked grin as images from last night flit through his mind again.
Chuks rolls his eyes. Then he smiles and nods, but remains silent, waiting for more.
Michael looks back at Chuks again and continues, “But it’s not just a hookup. I can’t stop thinking about her. I want to be with her every moment. Right now! I feel like….weird… just from not being with her right now. I’m going back to see her at the end of her shift. She’s working till 5:00 today. And here’s the most fucked up thing, Chuks. I can’t even believe this. I actually don’t want to fuck Linda anymore. Now you know how she is, right?! I mean God! But it doesn’t matter. I mean it! I really have no interest in seeing Linda again. The same goes for anyone else. I don’t want anyone else but Kate. And I don’t want her to be with anyone else.”
His brow furrows and a knot forms in his stomach at the thought of Kate being with someone else.
Chuks raises his eyebrows with a look of concern and watches the discomfort and other emotions play across Michael’s face.
Michael continues, “…yeah, the thought of Kate being with someone else is not… well… I’m not gonna go there.”
Chuks nods seriously.
“So, you think she feels the same about you?” He asks.
“I think so,” Michael says.
Kunle scowls and stays silent. He seems to sink further back into the couch.
Chuks smiles. “How can you be so sure?” he asks.
“Well, it turns out we’ve both been fantasizing about each other for three months.”
“And?” Chuks raises his eyebrows and waits.
You promised not to tell anyone about her stories. You can’t tell them. Michael thinks.
“She made it pretty clear she has…. uh… strong feelings for me, too.”Michael says, smiling somewhat proudly.
Chuks sits silently for a moment. His face slowly brightens and he looks at Michael, smiling sincerely.
“Dude sounds like you’re smitten!” He exclaims.
“Oh fuck,” Kunle finally speaks from his corner of the couch.
Michael ignores him, and says to Chuks, “Is that what this is?”
Chuks smiles knowingly and says, “You tell me, man. Is that what it is?”
Michael is silent for a long moment. Chuks waits patiently.
“Yeah,” Michael says, “I think I love her.”
Kunle grunts. Chuks smiles.
“Just don’t tell her yet,” Chuks cautions.
“Duh. You kidding me?” Michael replies. Then adds, “but how long do I wait?”
“Give it some time, man. You’ll know when. Hell, if she feels the same way, she might say it first.”
Michael smiles warmly and sincerely at his friend. “Thanks, Chuks,” Michael says as he rises from his chair.
“Anytime, man. Let me know how things go,” He smiles. Michael nods. Chuks picks up the Xbox controller. He turns to Kunle, sees him scowling, and says “So do you want to continue kicking my ass all over the field?”
As he leaves the room, Michael chuckles to himself, thinking how lucky he is to have friends like Jide and Chuks.
He heads upstairs. Looking in the mirror, he notices he’s got a bit of a five-o-clock shadow. He jumps in the shower and shaves. He wants to be nice and smooth so he doesn’t scratch her when he plunges his face between her legs, which he fully intends to do in a few hours.
Memories of her incredible scent and taste come flooding in, and he feels a stirring in his loins again. Shower done, he changes into a fresh pair of boxers, jeans, and a dark blue button down shirt. He grabs a small pack and throws in a change of clothes, deodorant, and his toothbrush.