Thabo seemed to sense that there was something wrong. He looked directly at Ayanda for a moment, but he said nothing.
Ayanda had met a good few attractive men over the years – at parties, clubbing, or in the course of her work as a journalist. She had learnt the art of sidestepping the question, ‘Will you come to bed with me?’ It wasn’t that she had anything against men. In fact she liked them very much. But she didn’t want to get into a sexual relationship that wasn’t going anywhere. She had never been the type to have casual sex. It just wasn’t in her nature to be that kind of woman.
Sometimes she wished she could adopt the more laid back nature of some of her friends and colleagues. ‘Love them and leave them,’ for example, was her friend Angie’s motto.
But a while ago she had learnt where that led and once was enough. She’d met David when she was working on a story about a high school in Lorraine. He was the headmaster and had recently divorced his wife of ten years when he discovered she was cheating on him with his best friend. David was older than her and she liked that. She really thought they could make it work. But it turned out he was insanely jealous whenever she had to do overtime at the paper.
Then her life had changed when Gloria died and she’d become mother to Olerato. She’d worked out a routine and the two of them were doing rather well.
But soon David started criticising the way she was raising Olerato. He told her time and time again that she was too soft with the child. One evening the conflict had come to a head.
“What is it with you?” she had yelled at him that night after it had taken her a while to settle Olerato.
“I don’t believe in ‘sparing the rod and spoiling the child’,” he said. “Besides, I need you, Ayanda.”
She was outraged. “What are you suggesting?’ She was so angry she jabbed her fingers into his chest. “That I must beat Olerato when she doesn’t do exactly as I tell her?”
“Well it would sure save a lot of time,” he said. “Gosh I love it when you get angry like that. It turns me on.”
He grabbed her hand and began lifting her T-shirt over her head. She slapped his hands away.
“Oh, so now you’re playing hard to get,” he said in a maddening tone, grinning. “I’ve come prepared. I’ve got a condom right here.” He pulled it out of his pocket as if it was the crown jewels.
Ayanda shook her head angrily, unable to believe the nerve of him.
“I want you to leave right now.”
“No, I’m not going anywhere. Well … not until you make love to me first.”
“It’s all about control with you. You wouldn’t know how to make ‘love’.”
“What are you talking about? I made love to my wife often over the years.”
“Making love and having sex are two very different things.”
“You’re far too arrogant … too cheeky for your own good, Ayanda. You need taking down a notch or two.”
“And I suppose you’re the man to do that,” she laughed into his face. She was beginning to become frightened of him, but there was no way she would allow him to see that.
“I just think I could teach you a thing or two,” he said and made a grab for her. “Come on girl, let’s make love. Have sex, get laid. Call it what you want. I’m just so hot for you, baby.”
When she started to protest he began insistently pulling at her T-shirt again. She had no idea what would have happened if Olerato hadn’t come into the room then and started crying.
“Mama, I heard shouting.” She ran to Ayanda.
“It’s OK, honey.” Ayanda gathered her into her arms. “David is leaving now. We were just playing a game.”
“Can I play too?”
“No, time for bed.”
David grabbed his jacket and walked out without a backward glance. She never saw or heard from him again.
It was this bad relationship that had convinced her she had no room for a man in her life right now. She had made a very bad choice with David and she felt it was all her fault. She had her career and she had Olerato. It was enough.
So why did she feel differently about this man? Why did she want to explain to him that she wasn’t with another man? That Olerato was really her niece, not her daughter?
“Well I’d better be off,” Thabo said, bringing her sharply out of her reverie. “It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Olerato.” He put his head in the window to say goodbye. “You be a good little girl for your Mama. She’s very special.”
“I’m always good,” Olerato said with a solemn look on her face.
Thabo smiled at her and then at Ayanda. “Of course you are.”
Slowly he shook his head. “You’re very lucky to have a daughter like her.”
“I know,” Ayanda answered.
“I can’t help but notice that you don’t have a wedding ring on, Ayanda. I don’t know your circumstances but if you’re free I’d like to see you again.” He winked at her and said, “I’m going to give you my number. I’d love to hear from you.”
Before she got a chance to answer him her cellphone rang. “Sorry, I must answer this.”
“Hi,” her friend Angie said. “What time are we meeting up tonight?”
“I’ll see you around seven.” Ayanda was aware of Thabo watching her as she spoke.
“Are you still at the beach?”
“I’m about to leave now. Olerato is tired and she needs a nap.” She said goodbye to her friend.
“That was my girlfriend Angie,” she said to Thabo. She had no idea why she felt the need to explain to him whom she had been talking to.
“Oh, I see,” he said with what she felt was relief. “Well here’s my number.” He called it out to her and she logged it into her Blackberry.
“I want ice cream,” a voice whined from the back of the car.
“Please,” Ayanda automatically corrected her.
“Bye,” Thabo said and began walking away. “I hope you call me, Ayanda.”
Tell us: How would you describe David’s attitude to women?