Authors: Somi Ekhasomhi
When she was done, she paused to admire
herself in the mirror. I look hip and trendy, she thought, almost giggling. Who
would have thought she’d ever see herself as hip and trendy?
Eddie arrived at exactly seven p.m. Very
punctual, she thought. For a moment, she wondered if she really looked okay,
and then decided that either she did, or it didn’t matter.
She went to open the door to let him in,
but when she saw him standing there, for a few moments all she could do was
gawk at him.
How did he always look so good?
He had been leaning against the doorpost.
He straightened as the door opened and smiled at her. Ada felt as if someone
had kicked her in the stomach, driving all the breath from her body.
Oh! But he was handsome!
Her eyes travelled of their own accord over
his tall slim body. He looked especially good in black pants that emphasized
the length of his legs and his slim waist, and a dark, long sleeved shirt that
displayed the breadth of his shoulders and his flat, flat stomach. She could
have stood there staring at him forever. She wanted to get closer to him, to
fill her nostrils with the tangy smell of his cologne, to wrap her arms around
What is wrong with me! She wondered, trying
to recover her bearings, He is not the first handsome man I have ever seen. Why
does he affect me like this?
“You look gorgeous.” He said.
“Thank you.” She replied, smiling up at
him. If she looked gorgeous, then he looked magnificent! “You don’t look
too bad yourself.” She told him.
He shrugged nonchalantly. “So are you
ready?” He asked.
“Yes.” Ada replied. “Just come inside for a
moment while I get my purse.”
He waited while she got her things and
switched off the lights, then held the front door open for her and took the
keys from her to lock it. Downstairs, he continued the gentlemanly
attentiveness, opening the car door, asking her if she was comfortable...
She had been on the receiving end of his
courtesy many times before, but never to this extent. If it hadn’t been Eddie,
she would have laughed and told him to get real, but as it was him, she
couldn’t find the words. Her stomach was tied up in knots just sitting in the
car next to him.
The music started as soon as he started the
car, Andrea Bocelli’s sweet tenor floated out of the speakers, pleasantly
assaulting those parts of her senses, which were not already in turmoil.
She closed her eyes and let the sounds wash
over her. It felt beautiful, to be the lady Eddie was squiring tonight. Who
cared if it was probably going to be another girl next week, she smiled. When
she opened her eyes, he was looking at her face. When she raised her eyebrows
questioningly, he smiled and turned back to the road.
She watched his fingers as they moved the
wheel. He had beautiful fingers, they were long and slim, but also
strong. She wondered how it felt to be so beautiful in every way, from your
head to your toes.
“Where are we going?” She asked him. It came
out almost as a whisper. Who knew her voice could be so whispery light. He was
either bringing out the best, or the worst in her.
He turned to look at her again. “Somewhere
I hope you will like.” He said.
She cleared her throat surreptitiously. “On
the island?” She asked. There! That sounded better. They were taking the turn
into the express route going towards the islands. It seemed strange to drive
all the way back over the bridge for a meal.
He nodded. “Yes.” He replied. “Don’t
worry.” He assured her. “I’ll get you back home on time. You won’t be late to
Who had been thinking about work? Ada
thought, slightly amused, work was the last thing on her mind.
It was already past seven. There was no traffic
going, but there was a gridlock coming from the island. It felt liberating to
drive against the traffic, to glide so fast on a road that, in almost all her
experience, was always packed bumper to bumper.
“I like to go to the island in the
evenings.” He observed, echoing her thoughts. “There’s just something very
pleasurable about driving on these roads when they are free.”
“Yes.” She agreed. “I just wish it would be
like this all the time.”
He laughed. It was a rich sound. It filled
the car and made her smile too. “If wishes were horses....” He said with a
grin. “So many people have made that wish, and yet, the traffic remains the
most distinctive thing about Lagos.”
Ada chuckled. “We all get used to it,” She
“I could take you tomorrow, you know.” He
said. “I go to the island every morning too, and your office is on my way.”
Ada sighed, and imagined travelling with
him to work every day, sitting in such close proximity to him for at least an
hour every morning. There was no way she would survive that. She smiled
noncommittally and didn’t reply.
In no time at all the many lights of the
Marina were spread out in front of them, and then retreating behind them as
they sped over yet another bridge into Victoria Island. She found herself
wondering again, where they were going. It was probably going to be a Chinese
restaurant. Those were always the favorite with Lagos people. Personally, she
had never been crazy about the food. She found herself wondering whether she
would have to suffer through a sumptuous meal where the ribs were the only food
item she liked even a little.
He drove past the Galleria, another popular
spot. Okay, no movie then, Ada thought, which was good because she was hungry.
“You know you can just tell me where we are
going.” She told him as her curiosity grew.
He gave her a teasing smile. “Be patient.”
He said. “We’re almost there.”
‘There’ - when they finally arrived - was a
brightly lit, glass fronted, two-storey building somewhere off the Bar Beach
road. It had a low fence, and by the security lights, she could see that the
spacious compound was exquisitely landscaped.
Eddie drove in and parked as close to the
main building as he could in the crowded car park. This time, one of the
security men beat him to opening the car door for her, but as she stepped out
of the car, he was right there. He took her hand - causing a pleasant tingle to
start in her fingers and spread throughout her arm - and led her towards the
She could hear soft music and muted
conversation. What was this place? She wondered. As they ascended the steps,
the front doors opened, as if by magic, but not quite so, there were two
doormen on either side, ready to pull them open, whenever anyone came near.
Ada gazed around, eyes wide. How was it that
she had never heard of this place? The whole ground floor was an immense suya
joint, with gleaming marble floors, frosted glass windows, inlaid wall lights,
a well-stocked bar, and about a quarter of the space taken over by a large
kitchen range, over which a troupe of able looking young men barbecued juicy
looking beef, ram and chicken meat. The smell was marvelous!
“Wow.” Ada said.
He looked relieved that she liked it. “Wow!
Right?” He said, echoing her. “It’s magnificent.”
There were about fifteen tables, most of
them occupied with people making their way through huge dishes of suya
garnished with onions, tomatoes, peppers and so on, with ice cold drinks to
wash it down. A few people waved at Eddie and he waved back, his easy smile
sitting comfortable on his face. They all looked affluent, Ada noticed, She
wondered just how much a plate of suya cost in this place, certainly not the
same as the regular roadside suya man. She decided.
Eddie tugged at her hand, interrupting her
thoughts. She followed him as he led her up the curving stairway at one end of
the restaurant to the floor above.
Upstairs was another revelation. The stairs
ended at two dark double doors, which were again opened by attentive doormen.
What lay beyond was a traditional restaurant, softly lit, with beautiful
hanging lights. Dark mahogany tables for two or four were arranged in such a
way as to provide intimacy for diners. The floor was covered with a thick rug
from end to end. The air was cool and filled with the scent of well-cooked
traditional foods. Ada’s stomach did a small rumble of appreciation, which she
prayed Eddie hadn’t heard.
“I hope you like traditional food,” He said
lightly, “and I hope you are hungry.”
She gave him a smile. “I do,” She replied,
“and I am.”
He grinned. The dimples appeared again. Ah!
Ada thought, Even if she didn’t like the place, she would gladly have lied for
the sight of those darlings on his cheeks.
An attentive waiter in black trousers and
waistcoat, white shirt and African print tie showed them to a table. The waiter
pulled out the seat for her while Eddie stood, waiting for her to be seated
comfortably before he sat himself. Hmm. Ada thought, she was truly being given
the gentleman treatment. She looked around while Eddie ordered wine. Almost all
the tables were occupied, she observed. It definitely was a popular place.
Eddie finally decided on white wine, seeking her approval before ordering. She
just shrugged and nodded, it wasn’t as if she knew anything about wine.
The waiter who had shown them to the table
came back with the menus. Even the menu was exquisite, light and leather bound
with the name of the restaurant embossed in the leather in gold lettering. Ada
opened it, and was almost stupefied by all the choices available, there were
local dishes from all over the country. She sighed. How was she supposed to
choose from such a fabulous list?
“Can I recommend?” His smooth voice cut
into her thoughts. He named one of the native soups. “You should
definitely have that. It was the first thing I ever ate here, and I still order
it almost every time.”
Ada thought for a moment. Well at least it
was a soup she had never cooked herself. It made sense to try something new.
“Alright.” She smiled at him. “I’ll have it.”
The waiter came and took their order,
smiling attentively as he did so. While they waited, Eddie kept her entertained
with stories about his work, from the way he spoke, it was obvious that he was
very passionate about it. He asked questions about her life and she found
herself telling him more about her photography, working for Sophie, her family
than she had ever told anyone. When he asked about her parents and she told him
that her mother had died years ago, he looked so sorry that she almost felt she
had to comfort him.
His father worked a lot, he told her, but
he had always made time for family. His parents were still very much in love
and often snuck off for weekend getaways. He told her that his mother was a
professor of History at the University of Lagos. Ada realized she had always assumed
that his mother was some rich trophy wife. Shamefacedly, she listened as he
spoke about his sisters, three of them, all older, all married with children.
It was obvious that he loved his family and was proud of them.
At some point he cautioned her not to drink
too much of the wine, her face heated up as she remembered the last time
they had drank wine together, when they had ended up kissing in her apartment.
It took about twenty minutes, for the food
to arrive. However, when it finally did, it smelled incredible.
“They should bottle this smell.” She said,
impressed. “It’s so good I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed when I actually taste
He shook his head. “You won’t be. I
The waiter made a great show of setting out
the dishes while Ada suffered the excruciation of being able to see and smell
but not eat. Finally, he disappeared and she was able to face the food.
She took a taste and sighed in ecstasy. She
had never tasted a soup so... sublime. She looked up to see Eddie’s eyes
glinting with amusement.
“What are you smiling at?” She asked,
feeling slightly self-conscious.
“I would rather not say.” He replied, still
She frowned, eager to go back to the food
but also wanting to know what he had been smiling at. “Tell me.” She said.
He grinned mischievously. “If you insist.”
In the dim light of the restaurant, the teasing glint in his eyes seemed almost
seductive. “It was the expression on your face.” He said.
“What about it?” Ada asked.
His grin widened. “Well you looked like you
were having a ...”
“A what!” She exclaimed, interrupting him.
Her face heated up in embarrassment. Had she really looked like what he was
suggesting? The idea was disconcerting to say the least.
He leaned forward, eyes twinkling, his
voice dropped to almost to a whisper. “Well you looked like you were having a
very pleasurable experience.” He said innocently.
There was nothing innocent about the glint
in his eyes.
“I was having a very pleasurable
experience.” Ada said primly. “The food is delicious.”
He laughed. Making her breath catch in her
throat, she forgot the food for a moment, enjoying the sound of his full