She eyed Vincent as he walked up to her, two bright red plastic cups in his hands. She had only ever said hello to him once or twice before on the tracks whenever she was passing by on her way to the swimming pool. She had finally decided to do something about her irrational fear of water and had been taking swimming lessons at the university campus on the weekends. Her parents’ place wasn’t too far from the campus. She couldn’t fit in any time for leisurely activities during the week, what with back to back classes and her final exams in a couple of weeks. She wanted very much to tick “Learn how to swim” off her bucket list before her graduation.
The task was proving to be a lot harder than she had anticipated. She just could not control the panic attack that always creeps in as soon as the instructor let go of her hands in the pool. She wasn’t giving up yet though. She was determined to conquer her aqua phobia.
Zariah’s first impression of Vincent was that he looked unassuming and he definitely had a thing for her. He wasn’t bad to look at either. She could always feel his eyes on her whenever he thought she wasn’t looking. Sometimes, she could see that he wanted to say something to her but would change his mind and continue jogging. She could have made things easier for him and stopped to chat but she wasn’t ready for any unnecessary distractions in her life at the moment. Those final exams needed to be aced and that required undivided attention to her books. Besides, she already had a boyfriend and Femi was just her kind of perfect.
Vincent handed one of the plastic cups to Zariah. There was loud music blaring from one of the speakers nearby so he had to lean in close to tell her gin and coke was all he could find. As he did, he couldn’t help but notice how sweet and soft she smelled, and it wasn’t just the perfume.
Vincent couldn’t believe his luck when Zariah walked into the room. He was getting bored and was just about bailing when he saw her. He had first noticed Zariah a couple of weeks ago on her way to the pool. He had discovered how peaceful the campus tracks were early in the morning on the weekends and had started taking advantage of those periods, between 6 and 8am, to go for his morning jogs. She always came alone, her stride always steady. Her face a blank canvass that made him itch to know what was going on behind those eyes.
Sometimes, when they were within ear shots of one other, she would give him a slight smile and mumble a greeting. But she never stopped walking. Vincent was used to girls being openly flirtatious with him and trying to chat him up. He knew he was in great shape and definitely a knockout in the looks department. But despite the fact that he was running shirtless looking like something out of a GQ magazine, she looked right at him then past him like he was just another lamp post on the side of the road.
Because her expression was always so unreadable he couldn’t tell how she would react if he tried to strike up a conversation. He couldn’t take being rejected, especially by her. She wasn’t the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen but there was just something about her. She always appeared so cool and calm, like nothing could ruffle her feathers. She had intelligent eyes that beckoned to be challenged, and he could tell just by looking at her that she was definitely a lot more than she appeared. He had this urge to peel away her cool exterior, layer by beautiful layer and discover what lay underneath.
“I wasn’t expecting to see you here, I was just about to head out when you came in”, Vincent said as Zariah took a sip of her drink.
“I wasn’t expecting to see you here either. Sola told me it was just a small drinks and barbeque thingy. Didn’t think there would be so many people here, and the music is almost deafening”. Zariah replied. She had to really raise her voice to make herself heard.
Sola was Zariah’s swimming instructor, and apparently a good friend of Vincent’s. He had invited them both to the party and had introduced her to Vincent when she told him he looked familiar.
Two cups of gin and coke later, Zariah began to loosen up a bit and the conversation between her and Vincent started to flow more effortlessly. He was charming and funny and had her giggling for the most part of the night. He was a bit older than he looked and was in a long-distance relationship with his high school sweetheart. He hoped to have twins when he eventually settled down. He spoke intelligently without being off putting, which she found very sexy. Zariah had a thing for intelligent minds. It was a big turn on for her.
Vincent didn’t expect to find Zariah’s company so refreshing. She wasn’t as immature or naïve as one would expect most university girls her age would be. She was intelligent and smart and could hold her own. They talked and laughed and danced all night till she decided it was time for her to leave. He didn’t want her to leave but she had stayed a lot longer than she had intended and thanked him for a very entertaining evening.
Her cab was waiting outside. She had drunk enough to make her quite unsteady on her feet, so Zariah held on to Vincent as he walked her out of the compound. She was still laughing at something he said when she felt him turn her into his arms for what she was expecting to be good nights hug. Instead she found her arms going round his neck as if being pulled by gravity as Vincent lowered his mouth to hers and kissed her like it was the most natural thing.
Vincent had acted on pure impulse when he pulled Zariah into his arms. He just could not imagine ending the night without holding her close, feeling her soft, supple body against his and kissing her breath away. He had half expected her to push him away, not respond like they had done it before. He was elated. The unexpected spark of chemistry the touch of their lips together ignited was shockingly intense. He pulled her closer and kissed her harder still.
The night wasn’t going quite as planned for Zariah. The last thing she had wanted to do was kiss Vincent, but the alcohol and their cheerful drunken banter at the party had dulled her inhibitions, and that zing she felt when his lips touched hers was her undoing. She found herself returning his kiss just as hard, digging her fingers into his neck and pulling him closer till they broke apart gasping for air. As the cold night breeze washed over her Zariah blinked and turned away abruptly, her knees shaking as she walked towards the cab. What the hell just happened!!
To be continued…..