The room was dark and shadowy, with just a ghostly white strip from an outside light. Alex turned the light on and they both blinked their eyes at the brightness. He quickly turned it off again, and sat down on a beanbag, pulling Ntombi next to him. They sat there for a moment. Ntombi felt his nearness, his breath, smelled his deodorant. Suddenly she felt overwhelmed by what she was doing.

“You look tense,” he said. “Sit forward, let me give you a massage.”

She sat in front of him as his strong hands stroked her muscles. It was supposed to relax her, she knew, but each time she felt his touch her skin tingled.

His hands stretched down her arms and reached forward for a moment to touch her breasts. She knew that she could move away right now, and stop what was happening. She stayed still. His hands stroked her breasts gently. She leaned back to make it easier for him to touch her.

After a while she took his hand, and squeezing it, turned around to face him. He moved forward and kissed her on the lips – a long, full kiss. She felt a surge of warmth through her body.

Earlier at the club she had suddenly known that Jozi was going to be the place that changed her forever, where she lost her virginity. And now it was happening. His hands were at her jeans, unbuttoning her, finding her panties.

For a moment she panicked, remembering Mzi’s rough hands. But then she told herself to breathe deeply, that this was not Mzi. This was a kind guy who was fun and sexy as well. She could stop whenever she wanted. And he would have to stop because she hadn’t even got the condom out yet. She fumbled in the back pocket of her jeans, trying to find the packet Mahlodi had given her.

As she pulled out the packet, and he saw what she was doing, Alex’s cellphone rang. He clicked his tongue in irritation. She waited for him to switch it off, but he looked at it and started getting up.

“Sorry, babe, I’ve got to take this.”

There she was, with her jeans down her legs and a condom packet in her hand, and he was taking a call on his cell. She pulled her pants up. He had gone out of the door and was whispering. Who was he talking to? She went to listen.

“I love you too, my baby.” Silence, then he said it louder. “Yes, I love you too. I can’t talk too loudly – people are sleeping. I must go.” There was silence as the other person spoke. “Of course you can trust me, babes, you know me better than that.”

Then he was back in the room, smiling at her. “Well, where were we?”

She couldn’t believe his cheek. “Who was that on the phone?”

“Oh, Dirk was looking for me,” he tried to bluster, but he saw the look on her face. “You’ve got a boyfriend yourself, girl! Why make out that I’m the one doing the wrong thing?” He took her hand. “You are so gorgeous – I can’t wait to touch you.”

She pulled away. “I don’t have a boyfriend any more – he’s found someone else. And you never told me about your girl, you cheater.” She threw the open condom packet at his face. “How could you?” Her body was ice cold as she pulled her jersey down and buttoned her pants. He reached out as if to calm her, then changed his mind and turned to walk out the door.

Ntombi waited for him to leave and then collapsed back onto the beanbag and cried. She cried for her shame, for her betrayal of Olwethu. How many girls had Alex charmed with that sexy smile? But deep down, she cried for how jealousy had made her behave – like the kind of girl she never thought she was.

She wanted to talk to a friend now – she needed to. She would phone Asanda – Asanda would understand. It wouldn’t matter that it was past midnight. But when she got her cell out she saw a message waiting for her – from Olwethu. She couldn’t read it. Not now after what she had done. It would be like salt in a wound. She couldn’t bear his kindness now; even worse, she couldn’t bear it if he wanted to tell her about his new girlfriend. Maybe he had kissed her already. After all, look at what she had become in just a few days. He wouldn’t be interested in her any more.

She couldn’t bear these thoughts, these fears. Through her tears she deleted the message without reading it.