“I think it worked. May I sit please?” My mouth was full so I just nodded to the man standing before me. He sat comfortably and flashed a grin. I just kept on chewing slowly and waiting for him to say something but he simply said nothing. After I swallowed, I took a sip of wine, wiped my mouth and broke the silence. “Was the champagne from you” I asked with sincere curiosity. “Yes. It was and I think you certainly look happier. I’m hoping it’s the wine.” His gaze was piercing like when someone wasn’t getting a good look at something and was pouring more effort into looking at it. “It’s not just the wine. The food’s great too.” I replied in the bid not to give him all the credit for the beautiful evening I was having. Truthfully, I wasn’t happy just because of his gesture; I had bottles of Dom Perignon sitting in my bar at home but he definitely scored good points on the scale. I scrutinized him as he sat silent looking smug. He wore an adire jumper dominated by the color green and a pair of mahogany-brown loafers. He wore a plain gold chain on his right wrist and a TAG Heuer wristwatch I couldn’t help but notice on his left wrist. There were no rings and it wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention that he smelled like heaven on a man. Go figure. The last time I was this taken by a man’s scent, I was in university, he was my best friend and I slept hugging his jacket for months. Yes, the very same jacket and no, the scent didn’t leave. Don’t ask whether I washed it cuz I did not. Anyways, it’s needless to tell you that amidst his simplicity, he reeked of class. The kind of man you’d see standing in front of a hotel and ignore until the valet brought his car to him. He wasn’t strikingly handsome but I thought he looked pristine. He wore an afro trimmed at the sides, and neat side burns that ran down his profile to his beards. None of the bushy beard gang drama that seems to be in vogue was going on there. His eye brows were full and well aligned. His lips were full with an undertone of pink. I was able to take note of his height before he sat and he was quite tall; about my husband’s height. That means that without heels, I’d be just about four inches above his shoulder. His teeth were perfect; I always, always check out the teeth. So he wasn’t strikingly handsome but he had my attention alright. I caught myself
studying staring at him and quickly
thought of something witty to say.
Unfortunately, all I could muster was “So it wasn’t the man in the cubicle then?” “You must be good at math.” he replied visibly amused by what he figured must have been me trying to say something clever. I laughed at myself. Apparently, he had caught me and his sarcastic retort didn’t go unnoticed. I might enjoy this conversation, I thought and decided to drop my defenses and have this potentially interesting dialogue. “I like sarcasm on a man who knows how to wield it.” I said honestly in between mouthfuls. Of course I went back to my meal. “Yes? I guess we’re different. I like it coming from dogs. Its special cuz they can’t talk” he laughed lightly. I offered him some of my wine but he declined politely; something about not interrupting a lady’s greatness. “So you’re not the guy from the cubicle” I said giving him a cue for some proper introduction. “No I’m not. That’s Mr. Eno. He’s a regular. He probably doesn’t look it but he’s not big on wine. He’s more of a fruit juice-shakes kinda guy.” “I find it interesting that you’ve told me everything about that fine young man and you haven’t even dropped your name by mistake.” How did he even know who was a regular and who wasn’t? I was pretty sure he wasn’t in the room when I tried to find who the gift was from. He laughed and shook his head. “My apologies ma’am. My name’s Udoka Amanze. I hail from Imo state and I absolutely love your smile.” This time, he didn’t smile, as if he was trying to convince me that that wasn’t just another pick up line. This guy was too smooth for his own good. “I’m Edima and I’m married.” He caught the not-so-subtle hint and leaned back. “Of course. Your ring is quite visible. I mean, that diamond is nearly blinding. If it helps, I used to be married.” He said with a shrug. I almost asked what happened with his marriage and caught myself before it fell out. It was none of my business. “You must be proud of your home. Tell me about it. Any kids?” I liked how he asked these sensitive questions with a touch of innocence and a great deal of sincere curiosity. At least, that’s how it seemed. Thank God he specifically mentioned the kids because I certainly didn’t want to talk about my husband. “Yes, I have kids. Four. Two soldiers, two princesses” I could literally feel myself glow. I never spoke about my kids without that glow spurring from the pride that made my heart swell. “Four? Who would have thought?” he asked surprised. “You barely look as though you’ve had any. It’s really admirable” he complimented. “Well, if I keep coming to this restaurant, I won’t be able to keep it up for long. The food is amazing. You probably know that. I mean, you know the regulars…and you sent me wine without being visible. You either stalking the people here or you definitely know your way around her and how to go unnoticed while you’re at it.” “Yes, the food here is amazing but I’m sure you can handle it. And no, I don’t stalk people here. The cameras just make it easy to see what goes on here” he pointed at about two lenses that had gone unnoticed before now. “That explains it. So you work here. Chef?” I thought he had the sophisticated air of Chefs. Maybe not. Maybe I was just lavish with my graces tonight, probably from lack of attention. “Yes, I work here but I’m not a chef.” Honestly, he was quite easy to talk to. We talked about food, my kids, politics in Imo state, how married folks in Lagos forget many times that they are married and how husbands are never caught because they can blame their late homecoming on the traffic on the third mainland bridge. There was a lot of laughter and a few awkward moments of prolonged eye contact and seconds of silence. He was very accessible; it felt like he was holding nothing back. On the other hand, I was trying not to give away too much about myself and honestly, it was pretty exhausting. Somewhere in the middle of our conversation, a woman,probably in her sixties, walked up to our table. Apparently, she was here for him and I could see the admiration she had for him in her eyes. "Mr Amanze, thank you for the other day. I don't know what I'd have done without you" He just grinned at her and said "Now you're embarrassing me. You deserve better ma'am. You should order today's special...on the house of couse" "Very well son. God bless you" and she laid a hand gently on his shoulder before moving to one of the empty tables towards the end of the room. Something about that little exchange moved me. It was obvious that he had done something for the lady that she considered a great deal while he on the other hand didn't consider it as such. He was a helper and I couldn't ignore that. Of course, I didn't ask what it was about; it was none of my business. He carried on with the conversation as if there was no break at all. We talked about places we had both traveled to. We even found out we had two mutual friends and that we both hate popcorn. After about two hours and not a few glares from customers who probably taught we should get a room, I checked my iphone screen to see what time it was. He also turned to his wristwatch and we both smiled. “I should get going” I said, secretly wishing there was more time. I was surprised at myself for thinking that. I was not in the habit of enjoying the company of men; I barely let them close. I didn’t even really notice them. The special ones were like cute dogs; notice them, flash them a smile and forget once they walked past me. But this night, this man had put a crack in my castle of ice. It was probably for the best that the evening had come to an end. There was certainly a reason, I stayed away from craving all this warmth and it was probably for the best. I suddenly couldn’t wait to leave. What was I even thinking at first? I was married with responsibilities and I couldn’t afford to have this particular man around me. That’s right, this particular man.
“You suddenly look uneasy” he said breaking into my thoughts. “No, I’m fine. I just need to get home to my baby girl. Thank you for the wine. Have a lovely evening.” I said rising. I didn’t wait for him to say anything. I picked up my bag and left him at the table. The ride down the elevator felt long with me replaying the entire evening in my head. A pang of fear struck me in the chest. There was something different, wonderful and scary about this man. And I chose to stay away. Just before I got into my car, I looked up at the building and there he was looking down at me with my flowers still sitting on the window sill. I got in, started the car and as soon as the engine purred to life, I drove away without looking back. I had decided; I was going to forget Udoka Amanze and gosh, I’d miss their recipes.
Hello Readers. I hope you enjoyed the second part. Sit tight and look out for the this part. Click here to read THAWED (Part 1) if you haven't read it. I'd love to see your comments with respect to how the story is unfolding...
P.S- This was supposed to be flash fiction and although it might be slightly longer than intended, it will be a short one. Brace yourselves for impact.
I hope you all had a beautiful holiday.