“I was lucky – I got a parking right here in front of the club,” Thabo said as he picked Ayanda up in his arms. She was small, no more than fifty kilos, but still she was impressed.
She noticed a few people staring; no doubt they were thinking she was drunk. She buried her head into his chest so nobody she knew would recognise her.
Thabo walked with quick, easy steps to his car and, opening the passenger side, he began to place her carefully inside.
As he did so a light flashed in front of her. Headlights? She shielded her eyes and didn’t lift her head.
When he reached across to fasten her seatbelt, she couldn’t help but notice the soft white cotton of his shirt – the top few buttons undone. He had a strong, lean and muscular chest.
When Thabo jumped into the car next to her she asked. “What was that flash?”
“Oh, probably some people taking selfies. They can ogle over them tomorrow and see how they looked tonight.”
“You really don’t have to go to all this trouble,” she said quietly.
“I know,” he teased her. “But I want to. In fact you’ve barely been out of my mind all day. I thought I was hallucinating when I saw you standing there on the balcony.”
“Really?” It came out a croak. “You’re a nice man. A good man.”
He burst out laughing. “That’s what Olerato said.”
“You remember,” she smiled.
“Of course I remember. But I’m hoping you’ll think more of me than just as being ‘a nice man’.” He drove steadily and safely through the night. All too soon they would be at her home.
I wonder, will he kiss me, she thought in panic. I want him to kiss me. I’ve thought of little else all day and this evening.
“I’ve wanted to kiss you ever since I first laid eyes on you,” he said as if he’d got right inside her head. “Only of course I couldn’t do that in front of Olerato. I also presumed a woman as beautiful as you are couldn’t possibly be unattached. I couldn’t bear the thought of another man living with you. It’s absurd really as I had just met you.”
She smiled softly to herself, knowing she had had the same thoughts. She wasn’t going to tell him though.
“If you don’t mind me asking, where is Olerato’s father?”
Her eyes became moist. He glanced over and looked at her. Suddenly he slowed the car down and pulled over onto the side of the road.
“I’m sorry,” he apologised. “Are they bad memories … or … perhaps good ones?”
“Olerato is not my biological child,” she said softly.
“Really? You’d swear you were mother and child. There is a strong resemblance between you two.”
She told him all about Gloria. He listened carefully to her.
When she was finished speaking he leant over and said, “I’m so sorry, Ayanda.” Then he took her hand.
She shuddered where she sat, his hand felt so good.
His eyes gazed into hers. Then his hands moved to her waist. She could have pulled away; except those dark, brown eyes mesmerized her. She wanted to kiss him as badly as he wanted to kiss her.
“Can I take you out on Wednesday? I’ve got some business in East London but I’ll be back late on Tuesday night.”
His question broke the spell of the moment when they could have kissed.
“I’d love that,” she said quickly, the blood pounding in her head.
Ayanda was out on a story Monday morning, her foot bandaged but OK. At lunchtime she was feeling hungry so she went to the nearest café to buy a cold drink and a sandwich.
She could think of nothing but Thabo. This was hopeless, she thought. How would she manage to write the story before Wednesday when she saw him again?
She was just thinking about how he had surprised her on the balcony of the club when she happened to glance down and spotted The Express, their rival paper, open on a table someone had recently occupied. There, staring up at her from the society pages of the paper, was a picture of Thabo carrying her to his car on Saturday night. She stared at it for a few moments, hardly able to believe it.
She bought a copy. ‘Who’s the mystery woman PE’s most eligible new bachelor is carrying to safety?’ ran the headline.
How tacky, was her first thought. She scanned the first paragraph, reading, ‘Heir to hotel fortune Thabo Moremi has recently relocated to Port Elizabeth’. The article named the two hotels the family owned, one in Cape Town and the other in East London. ‘The family are now in the process of buying their third hotel in PE,’ it continued.
Ayanda could hardly believe what she was reading. She looked at the picture again and thanked anybody and anything she could think of that her head was buried in Thabo’s chest when the photograph was taken. Suddenly she recalled seeing the flash and how she had asked Thabo what it was. He had dismissed it. But surely he must have known all along that somebody was taking a picture of him. The writer of the article had no idea who she was.
She was mortified as the article went on to suggest that she had probably had too much to drink. Thabo had rescued her and brought her to safety. How dare they suggest such a thing, she thought?
Ayanda looked down at the picture again. Would anybody she knew recognise her? She doubted it but she just couldn’t be sure. Her face was totally turned away from the camera. It was mostly her legs you could see.
The blood coursed hotly through her veins. She knew her mum would recognise her but it didn’t matter. Neo wasn’t going to go blabbering to the papers about her. Ayanda took some deep breaths to try and calm herself down. She was used to being the reporter, not the subject.
Tell us what you think: Is it a good or bad thing that Thabo has not told her about his wealth and business interests?