The three friends left the restaurant. The night was balmy. Ayanda felt a breeze on her face. They walked through The Boardwalk and crossed the street at the intersection. From there it was a short walk to the nightclub.

Some couples were dancing, others were smooching and still others were propping up the bar.

The friends headed into the throngs of people. They danced a few numbers and shortly after that as more people joined them on the floor the girls became separated. Ayanda danced a few dances with some guys she didn’t even know. She kept looking for Thabo’s face in the crowd but of course he wasn’t there.

Some time later the noise and smoke got to Ayanda so she stepped onto the balcony for fresh air. It seemed as if other people had the same idea. A few couples were kissing in the corners.

Ayanda ignored them as she stepped further out onto the balcony and walked up to the railing. She stood and gazed out at the sea. She was once again thinking of Thabo and wondering what he was doing right this minute. There was a cool breeze coming in from the ocean so she wrapped her arms around herself. She inhaled a deep lungful of air.

“I thought it was you,” a voice said suddenly, right beside her.

She could hardly believe that he was here. Surely he was an illusion. She had been standing there, gazing out to sea thinking about Thabo. Now he was standing right next to her. She was visibly shocked.

Thabo too seemed to be taken aback at the sight of her.

“Hi, Ayanda.” He seemed uncomfortable. “Er … I must say this is an unexpected surprise.”

Ayanda regained her composure. She smiled at Thabo.

“Hello,” she said. “It’s nice to see you again.”

When he returned her smile her heart leapt. She believed she had never been happier to see anybody in her entire life. She longed to feel his lips on hers. She wanted desperately to wind her arms around his body and hold on tightly to him.

His smile was beautiful. He was – quite simply – beautiful. And he was right here next to her. She could smell the scent of him. She was forced to take some slow, deep breaths in order to calm herself down.

“What are you doing here?” he asked eventually and looked directly into her eyes.

“The same thing as you, I guess,” she said, finding that her mouth had gone dry.

“Would you be referring to the club scene, or the fact that the music, smoke and general noise made you want to grab some fresh air? Not to mention that people are packed like sardines in there!”

“I’d say sardines have more room to move around in their usual tin than in here,” she laughed.

He laughed along good-naturedly. “I tend to agree with you on that one.”

Sharp pain in her palms made her realise she was digging her nails into them. She tried to relax.

“How is Olerato?” he asked.

“She’s fine. Her Gran is looking after her tonight.”

After a brief hesitation he asked: “I take it you’re not involved with anybody right now?”

“No, I’m not.” She looked at him. “And you?”

He shook his head several times. Then he opened his mouth to say something, but just as quickly closed it.

“Do you live out in Sea View like me?” She wanted to change the subject.

“No, but I’m looking into some … property there.”

“It’s a nice area to live in.”

“Actually I’m just in the process of relocating to Port Elizabeth from East London. I’m afraid I haven’t got a place yet. I’m staying with my Mum in … in Summerstrand.” She noticed the hesitation in his voice again.

She nodded. “Well I better get back inside. My friends will be wondering where I’ve got to.”

“Are your friends male or female?” he asked her bluntly.

“Female. I’m way too busy to have a relationship right now.” Now why on earth did she say that?

Thabo blinked slowly. Ayanda felt she had no choice now but to go back inside. Thabo could follow her if he wanted. Actually she was hoping he would.

She turned to leave but much to her indignation and dismay she felt the heel on her shoe snap. She found herself floundering, and then with an awkward twist started falling. Ayanda put her hand out to soften the blow and ended up slamming it hard into the balcony floor. Tears of pain and humiliation sprang to her eyes. What on earth must he think of her? She was behaving like a total moron.

“Ayanda! Are you all right?” he exclaimed, crouching next to her.

Now pain shot through her ankle like hot coals. She tried to lift herself up, but found her ankle couldn’t support her.

“Thabo?” She heard the tremor in her voice and didn’t care.

He gently helped her up and led her to the railings. “Here, hold on.”

“Thank you,” she said. To herself she muttered: “Fool. Fool!”

“Do you think you need to go to the hospital?” he asked with genuine concern in his voice.

“I think I just want to go home.” She was close to tears. “My mum’s a nursing sister. She’ll know what to do.”

“I’ll take you home,” he offered straight away.

“Are you sure? It’s a long drive out to Sea View.”

“I’d love to take you home, Ayanda.”

“I’ll just call my friends and let them know.” The three women had a secret code. When they were out and one of them met a guy and wanted to spend more time with him, they used it.

She dialled Angie’s number and after a few rings she answered it. “Where on earth are you?”

Ayanda didn’t want to have to explain anything with Thabo standing right next to her. So instead she said, “Ditto”, which was their secret word. “I’ll phone you tomorrow.”

Angie knew then not to ask any more questions.

“Enjoy yourself, sister.” She laughed and disconnected the call.


Tell us: Should Ayanda trust Thabo?