Playing The Game #3 By Olajumoke Omisore

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//I Want You//

Anu wrapped her arms around her front; suddenly feeling inappropriately dressed.

“I meant stay with you as a friend,” Idriss added quickly, sliding his hands in his jeans’ pockets. “I don’t think Alhaji would spare me if he found out I took advantage of his vulnerable daughter.”

She raised her brows. The word vulnerable was not an adjective she liked to be qualified with. “I’m fine now. We have another auction to attend tomorrow, so I should probably go to bed.”

“I will be right next door if you need me.”

“Are you not going to the restaurant? Mr. Malik from Solvent and Sons will be there.”

“I agreed to go because of you.”

“You should still go…Idriss.”

Saying his name made her even more uncomfortable. It didn’t slide out, choosing instead to come with difficulty, as if her mouth had just been recently unsealed. It was the first time she called him Idriss, perhaps because the day he told her to call him Idriss, the air at the estate agents’ had been the goose pimple gifting type but his walking in had turned the temperature up a few degrees. She had skated around the name issue since; addressing him as Mr Akinwale when she introduced him to her staff at the weekly meeting – knowing Kaz had started to call him His Royal Hotness. Whatever it was, Anu decided he was more of a problem for her than she’d first thought. His eyes were raking over her again, as if he could read her mind.

“I will go, Aisha.”

“You should call me Anu like everyone else.”

“I’m not everyone else. Besides, you will have to accept whatever I chose if Aisha is not fine by you. Let me see… baby. Shey, baby is fine by you?”

“You are only like ten years older than me. Anyway, If you call me baby, I will call you ancient.”

“Yes, baby.” He turned around and opened the door.

Anu allowed herself to exhale properly. Referring to her as a baby would imply he saw her the way a brother would their sister. The subtle flirting she’d noticed could have easily been her own mind running overtime.

She walked to the door as he slid through the entrance.

“I will get room service to bring you something.”

“Thank you.” She stopped in the door-way, adjusting her eyes to the bright lights overhead. The foyer was clear and quiet, suggesting that most of the guests were yet to return to the hotel.

“Goodnight, then.”

He tilted forward. Anu met him halfway because she imagined he wanted to give her a friendly hug. Although, his right hand snaked round her waist and pulled her really close, the warning signals in her head did not ring loud enough for her to expect his lips would close around hers.

The contact did not feel intrusive either. Her lips parted for him as the fingers of his other hand printed itself on the back of her neck. His body pressed harder against hers, communicating his longing in multiple languages. The feel of his hard body against hers was enough to make her lose herself in his arms. She wanted her skin next to his; to feel even closer to him. She wanted to be in his arms for the rest of her life.

What are you doing, Anuoluwa?

The voice in her head was her mother’s. She moved her face away from his. It hurt but she persevered.

He let go of her and backed away from the door without speaking. Then he turned and started to head for the lift. She stood still, watching him walk away.

It had never been like this with Bradley. This wild, stupid desire that made her want to beg Idriss to never leave her. That made her want to hand the reigns of her thoughts and feelings to him so that he could lead her. Heck, she’d never wanted anyone to lead her.

***

When they came back from the auction the following day, she followed him to his room, eager to talk about last night and this afternoon. The Sandringram Event at London Bridge had been so busy. He had forced her to bid for a North London ex-council house for him, pitching her against two burly men in suits. She had kept bidding not caring to check with him because she wanted him to end up with one of those houses that looked more like an abandoned barn or a wood shed – or worse lose his ten per cent deposit. That was supposed to be his punishment. Except, she’d won him the best investment of the Sandringram Event lot. He had been in high spirits when they drove round to check it out.

“Thank you.” He said after putting his phone on the hotel’s centre table and turning on the bedside lamp. “I would never have won that bid if you hadn’t stepped up…”

“You practically forced me into a bidding war. Something I have never done before.”

“Exactly. Those men saw you and saw inexperience, beauty and youthfulness. Of course they were wrong to judge you on the basis of your gender…”

“Are you saying I’m just a woman?” Anu followed his gaze to her dress and the silver, sensible but sexy heels. She had taken extra care this morning when she got ready, choosing a dress that Kaz once called her “killer dress”. Yes, she looked like her brain held nothing in it except how to tend to relaxed hair and how many squats would help the butt shoot out but her head also held important statistics about the housing market. Knowledge he didn’t have.

“I didn’t mean it like that. You are a smart, gorgeous woman.” His hand played with his tie as he advanced towards her. “And I’m sorry I made you uncomfortable. It was just business.”

“Okay, Mr. I-love-myself. If you think that’s an apology, I will go to my room.”

“How would you like me to apologise then?”

The quiet tension between them hung as thick as a winter blanket.

“Aisha? Talk to me.”

His eyes were digging into her core again, making her wish she’d worn a different dress. She looked away from him unable to keep staring at his dark, arresting face. It was like staring at an unwrapped opulence chocolate in the fridge and then trying to walk away from it. She had never been able to walk away from chocolate.

Air stopped flowing into her lungs, the second his palm cupped the side of her face. She heard him saying sorry as his mouth claimed hers. His other hand pulled her to him, full of determination.

Despite the sensations that travelled her length and made her almost delirious, she pushed at his chest.

“My father will kill me.” These were the words that came out of her mouth. She wanted to tell him instead that she wasn’t in the habit of giving herself freely to men.

“Do you care what your father thinks? Aisha, you are an adult. A strong, independent, beautiful woman. I want you. The question is, are you going to let him control you for the rest of your life.”

He didn’t really need to tell her he wanted her. That much was obvious in his eyes. And in the way that he seemed to move closer, with every step she took backwards.

“I’m not that kind of girl.”

“I know, baby.” He held out his hand. “I know things are complicated for both of us…but right now…I’m yours.”

He bent his head to her face when she stopped moving backwards. This time the kiss stopped everything else. Her eyes were closed as she savoured the moment.

He slid his tongue in between her lips, stroking her curves with his free hand whilst slowly leading her towards the king size bed in the room.

***

Anu was happy that she’d taken Idriss’ advice to go to the West End that morning. He’d suggested it whilst they drank coffee in his bed. He had a morning meeting with his bank manager. He was supposed to be meeting a business acquaintance at lunch time too. Despite not being a lover of fashion trends, she’d happily let the hotel’s chauffeur drive them to the London shopping capital. Preferring to be out than alone and bored.

Idriss had pulled her to himself in the back of the car and kissed her, saying that he would hurry with his meetings and meet her back at the hotel later on in the afternoon. The plan was that she would return to the hotel after her shopping and he would come to her room after his last meeting.

As she walked back to the hotel from the underground station, she was glad that he’d talked her into extending their stay at the hotel yesterday. Deep down she felt like a naughty woman who broke all the rules women were supposed to abide by. Yet, there was this renewed vigour in her stride.                            .

Her phone started ringing again. It rang whilst she decided on the Manolo Blahnik embellished shoes she wanted.  Kaz was the one that called, wanting to know if their client could evict his tenant. A tenant still on a provisional contract who swore he hadn’t signed a tenancy agreement. “Find our copy of the contract and scan it to the landlord right now. Email it to me too.” Anu had said, ignoring the niggling voice telling her one of her agents had messed up.

She crossed the road with her single purchase and her bag having sighted a cafe. The mess needed sorting out right now. The hotel was a good ten minutes walk. Her father had thought her never to leave anything for later. They couldn’t afford to lose Mr Phillips, their client. She would access her email, knowing even if her agents didn’t keep a record of the agreement; she would have it on email, a practice of hers never to delete their copy of contracts off the company’s email system.

She scanned the cafe until her eyes came to rest on a big table with a single occupant.

Although, the man at the table was staring out of the window at the kidney-shaped, bustling pond nestled in the garden at the back of the cafe, Anu recognised him.

It was Idriss.

It didn’t surprise her that the seat next to him had a cerise bag on it. It didn’t surprise her either that on that side of the table was a phone with a pink cover. Clearly, his business acquaintance was more of a bed acquaintance. It wouldn’t even shock her that a man like Idriss kept a woman in every town and city.

She turned round to get out of the cafe. The air in the place was steamy, almost choking her.

She had neared the door before a shrill voice called out “bae!” Anu turned around immediately. There was only one person in this world that had ever described her as her “Before Anyone Else.” Perhaps only one person in her circle that was young enough to flow with current trends. Her sister.

Elicia seemed to have just returned from the ladies room. She walked over to her and they hugged. It was the first time that they had seen each other since Alhaji told Anu the truth.

“It is so good to see you. But what the hell are you doing in London?” Elicia asked.

Anu would have answered if her eyes hadn’t spotted Idriss rising and moving towards them.

“Elicia… what’s going on? You two know each other?”

His gaze stayed on Anu as he spoke although Elicia’s hands were the ones that grabbed hold of his right hand.

“Remember me going on about my bae, well here she is. She is my sister.” Elicia said flashing a flawless set of teeth at him before turning to Anu who stood rooted to the spot as if she had grown roots.” Idriss is my man, the one I call Bf. Your brother-in-law to be.”

Olajumoke Omisore

Olajumoke Omisore

Olajumoke Omisore lives in Lancashire. She grew up in London and Abeokuta. Her writing has appeared in The Kalahari Review, African Writer, Naija Stories, Tales from the Other Side anthology, TNC and elsewhere. Her flash story, Ochuga’s Girl was longlisted for the Minority Contest.

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