Amara dipped the tiny spoon into the cup of chocolate ice-cream in her hand, scooped up a spoonful and drove it straight into her mouth. Even though she had spent the whole hectic day with most of her staff, trying rather fruitlessly to salvage some of her damaged supplies, having dinner out with Kelvin was a God-sent relief. She was enjoying herself beyond measure and was sad to see that it would come to an end soon. The meals had been exhausted and Kelvin had treated her to this delicious cup of ice-cream which she couldn’t have enough of. She moaned in appreciation. “Uhmmmm…” She raised dreamy eyes to Kelvin, who was looking at her in amusement. “Oh, my God Kelvin! Tell me why I never thought of tasting chocolate ice-cream”
Kelvin grinned. “You were busy running a company”
Amara looked into her cup with gleaming eyes as she dipped in her spoon again. “We always had to serve ice-cream once in a while but I never did taste this chocolate flavour” she dipped another spoonful into her mouth and her eyes again turned dreamy.
Kelvin watched her mouth with narrowed eyes. He had never been as jealous of a spoon as he was at that moment, watching Amara lick off the ice-cream from the tiny plastic. His cup of ice-cream was held idly in his hand as the frozen cream defroze untouched. His eyes was more focused on Amara and her excitement. Amara raised her eyes to his cup and look at him with a small frown.
“Your ice-cream is becoming bored since you have completely ignored it.” Her eyes became bright with mischief, something that he hadn’t seen in her before, not even years back. “Why didn’t you take chocolate instead of vanilla? You might be licking with more enthusiasm”
He frowned slightly. “I don’t like chocolate” he said.
She raised her brow. “You don’t know what you are missing” she turned her eyes back to her cup and dipped in her spoon. She seemed to pause, then she suddenly lifted a spoonful of chocolate ice-cream in the air. Her eyes was bright with laughter when she looked up. “Why don’t you have a taste?” Kelvin froze as Amara brought the spoon closer. For the first time, Kelvin noticed the people in the eatery as they turned to look at them. Amara obviously had forgotten about them, concentrating solely on achieving her goals. Kelvin stared at the fast approaching spoon carefully. “Open up” Amara said and dumped the full spoon in his mouth before he could even fully open his mouth. Some residues of cream smeared on his lips, making a funny line on his upper lip. The air cracked around them as they gazed into each other’s eyes, the spoon between Kelvin’s lips. Amara quickly pulled out the spoon and settled back in her seat. She kept her eyes down, noticing the amused look of people in the restaurant who seemed not to be minding their own businesses. With a sigh, she raised her head to brazen it out to the end. She placed a fake too-bright smile on her face, only to find Kelvin’s amused face smiling down at her.
“Well, how is it?” She snapped.
Kelvin’s lips started working on the forgotten cream in his mouth and his face brightened the more as he swallowed. “I must admit; it is really good. Better since it came from your beautiful hands” he said, his stained lips moving. Amara blushed slightly. Then, bringing on his own mischievous looks, he grinned slightly at her. “Although, I think you dropped some on my lips. Do you think you could rectify that?”
Amara froze and shifted in agitation. “You are crazy” she looked around but everyone were back to minding their own businesses.
Kelvin winked at her. “No one is looking, c’mon” he taunted with a grin.
“You would wait forever” she said, grabbing her bag, ready to leave.
He frowned pitifully. “Awww. Sweetheart, you won’t have me walking out in such a mess, would you?” Amara ignored him and he chuckled. “I knew you couldn’t”
Amara frowned, hating the dare. Taking a deep breath, she leaned over and quickly brushed her finger against the cream on his lip, but as she removed her finger, Kelvin completely shocked her by capturing her finger between his lips. She pulled her hand away with lightening speed, glaring at him as her heart pounded. She didn’t even dare look around to see who noticed; she knew she might die from embarrassment.
“It tastes even better on your finger” he whispered, his eyes gleaming with an unidentified emotion.
I have had enough! Amara jumped to her feet at once, grabbing her bag. Kelvin smiled and pushed to his feet as well. Amara did not wait for him, just marched on. She waited until the got out of the eatery before she exploded. “I could kill you, you know?” She shouted back at him.
He laughed. “I never asked you to feed me”
Amara conceded angrily that he was right. She did not even know what evil had prompted that action in her.
“But I wouldn’t mind if you want to do it again” he whispered behind her, drawing nearer. “You know, I think your ice-cream was truly sweeter than mine”
Amara concentrated on breathing as the heat from his body enveloped her as he put his arm around her waist, drawing her closer as they walked. She tried to break out of his hold, but the effort was completely futile, since his hand was as hard as rock. She sighed in resignation, walking with him to his car. Wisely, she changed the topic.
“Do you think we should visit Tina again? She might need my company. I can sleep over with her”
The ‘we’ in the sentence pleased Kelvin beyond words making him smile internally. “No. Tomorrow would be good because you need your rest also. You went through so much today and still went to her place after work and spent some hours. You need to sleep” he said.
Although, Amara would love nothing more than to be there for Tina right now, the mention of sleep sounded heavenly. She hadn’t had enough sleep last night due to the mysterious note and now, she really would love to close her eyes for some hours. But then, the thought of sleeping in her own apartment was beginning to make her nervous.
Kelvin noticed and gave her a slant, concerned look. “Do you think you would be comfortable at your place? You can stay with me for today” he offered.
Accept! Just accept! Her brain screamed at her. She sighed and shook her head. “No. I am fine. Whoever is doing this would get bolder if I show fear and I won’t do that”
Kelvin looked ready to argue, then stopped, pulling her closer instead. “I already have people watching your house, so you don’t have to be worried, the person involved would be caught soon”
Amara’s shoulders sagged slightly in relief. She gazed up at him, appreciatively. “Thanks a lot Kelvin”
He didn’t respond, just walked on silently.
The drive home was filled with comfortable conversations and Amara really enjoyed herself. Kelvin’s phone rang and he took it out to stare at the caller. He looked a bit unsettled but picked up and put the phone against his ear. “Hello” he said into the phone. Amara had never been accused of eavesdropping, but she strangely found herself doing exactly that. “Really… I can’t really talk now… I would call you back…” There was a pause, then, he hung up, dropping the phone without looking at her.
Amara’s brain ran wild with thoughts. It was obvious that he was hiding something. He had made several business calls in her presence throughout the day without being tense, but as Kelvin dropped the phone and looked squarely at the road with a grim expression on his face, Amara knew something was amiss.
“Is everything alright?” She asked him gently.
He turned to her, looking at her strangely, like he hadn’t quite heard her, then he nodded. “Yes, everything is fine. I just need to sort out some things”
Amara nodded and turned to look out through her window. It might be his girlfriend! She thought vaguely as the thought created a bitter taste in her mouth. Besides, she thought, nothing stops him from having a girlfriend, does it? It doesn’t matter that he kissed me today! He could have just been reacting to the tension at that time. Men kiss women all the time, right? It doesn’t even matter that he spent most of the day with me, helping me through things! He has always been very nice and helpful. And what if he is a flirt? He has always been! I should stop thinking he has another sort of interest in me. This is all happening in my head! She sighed. It doesn’t even matter if he told me years back that he loves me! That was several years ago.
Amara swallowed the deep sadness that engulfed her, trying to put a cheerful look on her face. The car stopped in front of her house and Kelvin turned slowly towards her. “I enjoyed myself today” he said gently.
“Me too. Thanks so much” she answered.
Kelvin raised his hand to brush her cheek gently and her breath caught in her throat. “You don’t have to thank me sweetheart” he whispered. He leaned over and gently kissed her on her cheek. His scent enveloped her senses at the nearness, but Amara could barely contain her disappointment that he hadn’t kissed her where she wanted. She was even surprised to find that she wanted him to kiss her; to really kiss her. But as he drew back, the prospect that he might have a woman in his life already grew larger in her head.
“Are you sure you want to stay here” he asked gently. Amara nodded, unable to open her mouth for fear that she might expose her sadness. He nodded also and Amara saw that it was time to leave. She grabbed her bag and turned to the door before she said “Goodnight”
Kelvin’s response was lost to the closing sound of the door as she walked into her compound without looking back. She vaguely heard his car pull away after she had entered the compound. She security lights quenched the darkness of the light as she made her way to her apartment. She saw no justifiable reason why she should be angry. Just yesterday, Max has bid her farewell with a peck just like this and she had hastily jumped out of the car, but now, here she was, wishing Kelvin had given her a real kiss instead. What the hell was wrong with her. Tina couldn’t be right, could she? I am not in love with Kelvin, am I? Amara froze as she thought about it. About the way her heart quickened at the sight of him; about the way she felt safe and protected whenever he was near; about the way happiness always filled her heart whenever she was with him…
She shook her head. No! I am not in love with him or anyone for that matter, she told herself sternly. She turned to glance at her car and noticed suddenly that all the tires have been replaced. She gripped her bag and sighed. Kelvin definitely knows the way to a woman’s heart. She had already lost count on the number of things she needed to thank him for.
She opened the door and went inside the apartment, noticing that everything was just as it should be. She relaxed. The thought that someone was guarding the house also gave her a measure of comfort. She entered the room, discarded her clothes and took a cold shower, washing away all the sweat she had accumulated throughout the day. She vaguely thought about Tina and hoped she was asleep now. She thought about her dinner with Kelvin and smiled, discarding her worries for a while. She finally got out of the bathroom, dried herself and pushed on a silky nightie. She opened her bag to take out her tab, then spotted the letter Tega had given to her during the day. She had been too busy to even read it.
Lying down on the bed with a sigh, she tore the sealed envelope and extracted the paper inside it. When she opened the paper, she bolted up instantly as she read the bold words.
“STAY AWAY FROM MY HUSBAND, YOU WHORE”
Amara read the words again and again. Husband? Which husband? She swallowed hard, trying to come up with an explanation. The only man she could think of in her life was Kelvin, and even though he wasn’t technically in her life, many people wouldn’t think that. “Is Kelvin married? Is she the one responsible for all my misfortunes?” She asked aloud, with a bewildered look on her face.
Kelvin pressed the lock button on the remote of the car, answering the greeting of his gateman with a wave as he spoke into the phone. “…so now that Lisa is not responsible for this, who would be?” Kelvin said into the phone.
“I don’t know” Mr Sinja’s voice answered. “I am suspecting a business rival, probably someone who is not used to losing” he said.
Kelvin shook his head, walking into the sitting room. “That might be, but I have this feeling that this is not business related. This person is not just attacking her company. Her four tyres were tampered with. I think this person has a personal grudge against her”
“Interrogating her staff would be the best way to uncover this” Mr Sinja said.
Kelvin sighed. “I know, but Amara is totally against this. She won’t have me question them. I asked some questions though and my prime suspects are the security officers and Amara’s secretary. Even though one of the officers tried to dissuade me from suspecting him by presenting Amara’s secretary, I have my doubts about the man. Even if the secretary helped or is the perpetrator of the act, where were the security men when all that was going on?”
Mr Sinja sighed. “You are right. I just wish I would be of more help to Amara now; I would do a better job if I were physically present”
“Present or not, you are doing an excellent job.” Kelvin smiled. “I have spent too much time in your company, I fear I am beginning to think like a policeman”
The older man laughed over the phone. “That is it my boy, if everyone thinks like this, we would all be safe. You are even performing better than most policemen”
Kelvin laughed slightly, then cleared his throat slightly, unnecessarily dropping his voice to a low whisper. “And-”
“You don’t need to ask” Mr Sinja cut in instantly. “Everything is fine here. Don’t worry about anything”
Kelvin nodded and heaved out a sigh. “I would try to visit soon”
“Take your time boy and take care of my daughter”
Kelvin wondered when Mr Sinja would stop calling him ‘boy’. No one had called him that ever since he clocked thirteen. “OK sir” he said finally and ended the call.
The next day was just as busy as the previous one. With Bracket’s event one week away and all their supplies in shambles, Amara was on her toes. Still, she made sure she went to see Tina, first thing in the morning, taking along the steaming hot breakfast she had prepared very early in the morning. She had spent some time with Tina, talking about their good memories in order to keep her happy. She had talked extensively with the doctor, getting all the information she needed. She had gone to her company then and worked till late afternoon before getting lunch for herself, Tina and the Aisha girl with her. They ate together in the hospital and Amara was glad to see happy smiles on her friend’s face. Throughout, she never heard from Kelvin. She continuously pushed away the words of the letter she had received every time it popped up in her head.
As she entered approached her office about an hour later, she froze when she saw Max waiting for her. He stood up and smiled down at her. “Amara” he called.
She quickly put a bright smile on her face. “Mr Babs. I wasn’t expecting you” amara could only hope that he hadn’t heard anything about what happened to Ara P.
“I just err… decided to pay you a visit” he answered, still smiling.
She nodded and entered the office, opening the door for him to come in. Minutes later, when they were both seated, Amara linked her fingers on the table. “How may I help you Mr. Babs?” She asked professionally.
“When would you be able to call me Max?” He asked instead.
Amara smiled. “When I find you somewhere outside my company. That way, I know I am not bound by official ethics”
He smiled wider. “Oh, I have yesterday’s episode to disagree with you”
His words made her remember that she had seen Alex yesterday. Why had her problems started after she saw Alex? Was he responsible for her problems? Max cleared his throat, bringing her mind back to the present. He put his hand inside his pocket and brought out a cheque. Amara stiffened slightly as he stretched it towards her. She collected it and saw that it held the same amount Bracket had paid for their event weeks back. “I don’t understand. We have already received payment for the event”
He nodded, then, looking at the table, he said. “I heard about what happened to Ara P” Amara froze the more, holding the cheque stiffly. “I am sorry” he breathed, looking at her with a completely sincere face. “I know this must have affected several things, your staff were going around in a frenzy when I came in. This is the least I could do”
“What are you talking about? You are paying me again for the event?”
“This is not a favour. I am just paying you double for the event so that I can get the best” he murmured.
What on earth is going on? “I can’t accept it” she pushed back the cheque at him.
He smiled without touching the cheque. “Once I give something out, I never take it back Amara. Please use it, I can’t allow what happened to affect the coming event and if paying again would give me that, I don’t mind. That is what I do” he stood up and left.
Amara stared at the cheque at her front in total confusion. How did he know about the incident? Who had told him? Amara was still pondering over these questions as she drove into her compound that night. But as her headlamp beamed on the figure at her doorstep she hit the break of the car, startled. Her eyes widened like large saucers as she stared at the living image of Mrs Bello.
…to be continued