SHADOW chapter 4 Is he gone?

As the two men stood just a foot apart, a part of me wanted Nkosi to punch the stupid smile off of Franks face. However I really did not want him involved in any fight…………..in case he should be harmed. All I wanted at that point was for us to have the flat to ourselves and this intruder gone from our lives. Just a little sanity to come back! I stood beside Nkosi and faced Frank. I knew if I did not say anything, he might give in to his anger and deal with Frank, or so I imagined, since he had never been this angry around me before.

“Frank, I need you to leave. Thank you for the meal but right now…..please……get out!” I said to him as calmly as I could, despite the urge to scream at him. I felt Nkosi tense up even more. I was not sure if I actually saw his hands begin to curl into a fist but all I knew was that if Frank did not move soon, the stuff would hit the fan. I guess at that point a little sanity prevailed. Frank stopped smiling, took his cold stare away from the deadlock he had with Nkosi’s eyes, looked at me, a softness returning to his face and said, “My apologies”. He then walked out of the room in his weird, gliding way. Frank followed him to make sure he went straight out the front door.

When they reached the lounge, I heard the door open and Nkosi say to Frank, “The offer is withdrawn with immediate effect. We will not be working together I’m afraid.” Frank replied with a sarcastic, “Sure, understood!” I heard the door close and Nkosi exhale heavily. He then locked the door. I walked into the lounge as he turned away from the door. He looked so drained from that ordeal and from the look in his eyes, I knew he felt it was his fault that Frank had found me somehow. He was so sorry!

I did not believe for a second that it had anything to do with him. We had both been victims somehow and if we sat down and discussed it, we would probably find the clue to how this guy had found his way into our lives. At that moment though, we were both tired. He had just come from work and…well…I had an afternoon of drama which he had become a part of, as if he needed it! I could not imagine having a girl’s night at my place after this. It just seemed too hectic and I had no energy let for it. We needed to be alone.

Nkosi walked over to me and held me for a while. When he pulled away he took my hands and asked me if I was alright. I closed my eyes, took a very deep breath, held it for a bit, and then I exhaled very slowly, as if I was cleansing myself from deep within. We both started walking back to the bedroom, hand in hand. When we reached the open bedroom door we both stood still and looked inside the room. In such a brief moment one man had managed to change the whole feel of the place. If Nkosi was thinking the same as I, then we would have both been playing the whole thing over in our heads, seeing the spot where it all took place. Nkosi was the first to move. He walked over to the side of the bed and looked down at the tray of food that was getting cold on the bedside table. He sat down slowly, still staring at the plate. He then picked up a fork, cut off a small piece of omelette and ate it. I just stared at him, wondering how he could put that food in his mouth. I would not have tried it at all. If I had been alone that would have been in the trash. That is how much I trusted that stranger.

All of a sudden Nkosi grabbed his throat, his eyes wide open as he choked. I rushed over to him, climbed onto the bed and knelt behind him, pounding his back. It wasn’t working! I then remembered the Heimlich manoeuvre, and put my arms around his waist. As I was locking my hands together I realised the sound he was making had changed. I let go and sat back in confusion, still on my knees behind him. He was having a great big jolly laugh. “Ha ha ha ha ha…….I’m sorry babe….ha ha…I was just teasing! I’m fine really. You should have seen the look on your face when I took that bite. Looked like you expected me to collapse and die. I couldn’t help it. Sorry my love……but…ha ha ,” he continued to laugh. By this time I was smiling and eventually we were both laughing. It felt so good to laugh….so good.

Nkosi pulled me onto his lap and kissed me lightly. Every issue seemed to melt away. Once again I remembered just how much I loved him and how nothing would ever change that. As I curled my arms around his waist and planted my cheek onto his warm manly chest, my eyes closed listening to his heartbeat, with every part of me wishing that moment could last forever…….. he broke it with, “Here try some..” I opened my eyes to find a fork with a piece of Frank’s omelette sitting at the end of it, right in front of my face. “Oh no, I’m not eating that,” I protested “No chuck it out.” Nkosi insisted, “Baby it’s just an omelette and it tastes real good too. Come on…try a little.” I pressed my lips shut shaking my head vigourously.  “Actually it tastes just the way you like it love…..come, come……aaaaaaaaah!”

I finally gave in and tasted it. It was amazing. The blend of spices, with a touch of garlic! Ah! I tasted some ham and some cheddar cheese too. Oh it was lovely. Exactly the way Nkosi makes it for me. Before I let that thought simmer, I realized Nkosi must have been terribly hungry having come straight from the office. “Hey…you must be starving. Did you eat anything before you came over? What time is it anyway?” I lifted my arm to check the time on my pretty little white gold watch Nkosi bought for me for my birthday the year before. It was a quarter to six, which explained why the sun no longer shone as bright outside, and the air had cooled down. “There’s a whole omelette and toast here. I’ll eat that.” He said trying to convince me. I responded with, “No way…. that is not enough! Tell you what, I’ll go and fix up something more to go with that. I can grill some steak if you like. Steam up some veggies quick, quick and some rice or something. In the meantime you can get yourself showered. I think there is a clean pyjama of yours in the wardrobe. Eh….you are staying over right?” He stroked my cheek, kissed me lovingly, lifted me off his lap as he stood up and said, “Yes mam” and made his way to the bathroom.

As he walked off, I picked up the tray of food and took it over to the kitchen. I placed it by the sink, my mind still telling me to put the food in the trash but the truth of the matter was, I wasn’t making enough money to be throwing food away, even if it was made by Frank. Inside the refrigerator that I bought second-hand from one of those pawn shops, obviously sold after someone defaulted from paying off a loan, I had three steaks that I was saving for the rest of the month. The idea was to chop them up and make them stretch till the end of the month. However, I felt we needed to have a good meal together so I made us both a full steak each. Plus…I wasn’t going to tell Nkosi I was broke again this month. He had helped me out a lot before and I just wanted to give him a break from worrying about my finances too, especially since he was trying to build a house for us. Yes…that was my Nkosi….very focused!

I had just turned the steak over for the last time when Nkosi walked in in his pyjamas smelling so fresh in that way that always drove me wild. I loved it! “Oh now I feel sticky. I can’t have you smelling that good and me all….!” I said trailing off. “Ok hurry, I’ll finish off here. Don’t be too long! I will eat it all otherwise,” he laughed. I didn’t wait for him to say anything more. The food was almost ready. I knew he couldn’t spoil anything. He just had to dish it out, so I ran off and had a quick shower. I always preferred to eat when I am fresh especially if I am with someone else.

By the time I got back. All the food was ready, including the omelette, all laid out on the coffee table in the lounge. I had not bothered to buy a television set, so we watched movies from the laptop which he had placed in the middle of the table. I sat down beside him and watched as he prepared my cutlery and handed it over to me. I actually was not that hungry. I was still a little full from the take away I had had about three to four hours ago, however, just to share this moment with Nkosi, I was going to eat and enjoy the meal. We ate together, watching a comedy and having a great laugh. None of us were prepared to mention what happened earlier. It felt like another war we had fought and won together, and now we just wanted to enjoy the victory with a little bit of intimacy.

The movie was almost at its end. We sat cuddled up together, stomachs full and eyes heavy with sleep, trying to hang on so we could see the end. Then we were woken up by the sound of someone fiddling with the door knob on the front door. It was followed by a knock and Rebecca’s voice shouting, “Wonder…hey Wonder.” I then remembered I had  left a message on her voicemail, asking her to come by. I had totally forgotten. I rushed to open the door for her. “Hey Becky, you came! Great!” I said as she walked in, out of breath and gasping for air.

See I lived on the third floor and since the elevator was not working, she had had to climb the long winding staircase. She hated that! I did not mind it. It kept me fit. It only bothered me on days when I had groceries or bags to carry. Actually even when the elevator worked I did not use it. I was afraid I would get stuck inside. Actually the landlord did once, much to my satisfaction. He never got things fixed when we asked……until he had that experience. Then he started to take our complaints just a little more seriously.

Becky gave me a hug then disappeared into the kitchen as I went back to the couch to re-join Nkosi. She sauntered in a little later with 3 glasses and a wine bottle she obviously brought with her. “Woman, you need to move to a place with an elevator or otherwise could you just stick to the ground floor next time.” She complained as she sat beside me on the couch. “Right where is this photo that just had me falling all over your stairs? Sharp Nkosi!” “Sharp Ribs! Why were you falling, mummy?” Nkosi replied with a nod and amusement that was about to have him in stitches. He always found Becky ridiculously funny. She did not mind….….especially after seeing him and I fight to keep our relationship intact. It made her respect him to the point that he really couldn’t offend her. Well he actually respected her most out of all my crazy, artistic friends. “Argh…I was just here, on the last flight of stairs when I missed a step and fell. I swear it was as if someone reached out of the ground and grabbed my leg by the ankle. Gosh my ribs hurt, but don’t worry it was nothing serious. I did break the other bottle of wine though.”

Somehow that sounded too familiar. Nkosi cut in, still a little amused, “Sorry Ribsy! Seemed both you ladies had yourselves a fall today. Is it a friend thing? And since when do you buy two bottles of wine, as stingy as you are?” Becky rolled her eyes at him then looked at me and asked when and how I fell. I told her the story quickly, maybe too quickly because she did not pick up on the similarities of the fall. She dismissed it as a coincidence then went on to explain how she got the other bottle.

It was not the oddest of stories. Becky was a very beautiful light-skinned woman with long, shoulder length, straightened hair. She had that typical coke bottle figure and knew how to dress it very well, with tight-fitting jeans and body clinging tops. You could drown in the dark pools of her huge eyes and get lost at every movement of her pink lips that she liked to glisten with a clear gloss. With all that came the craziest most outgoing and adventurous personality you ever came across.

Men always bought her stuff in the hope that she would end up in their bed or something. It never happened! She was crazy but she wasn’t lose. “Yeah this guy……..actually quite cute too……..saw me trying to choose a bottle of wine for tonight. I was trying to get something different…you know! I failed as you can see. I bought the same as usual, but he was so keen on me trying out his choice, so he bought it for me.Ha!  Told me to greet my friend and whoever else I was going to drink it with.” Looking at Nkosi she said, “It’s quite odd how he looks almost like you man! Anyway! I need the bathroom,” She got up and as she walked away she said, “He had the oddest smile that guy……….with pearly white teeth…………I think he said his name was Frank.”

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