This is a little something I started back in November during the National Write a Novel in a Month program. I didn’t even come close to completing anything, but I have some chapter fragments that I’m going to post.
I met her in Johannesburg in 2004. I was there on business. What kind of business is not important. I was out for a morning run when I saw her. She was sitting in front of a coffee shop. Sitting with her feet on on the chair next to her when I noticed those legs. Oh, those legs! Anyway, I was noticing, noticing hard when I stepped awkwardly off of the curb and just about took a header. She saw me and laughed and said to me, “very graceful!”. I couldn’t let that go, now could I? “Why thank you”, I said, “I do what I can”, with a sly embarrassed smile. I was completely busted, so I thought I’d seize the moment. “Hi”, I said, “come here often?”. Knowing full well how lame that sounded. She just smiled and shook her head. “You’re really in trouble here, you know that right?” She smiled and cocked an eyebrow. I was already sweating from the run, but that look made it even worse. She had the most amazing green eyes, like emerald stars. They just sparkled. I thought to myself, this is already worth the embarrassment. She was really something to behold, those eyes and hair so red it looked like it came out of a spray can. I had never seen hair that color. Her skin was not quite white, not like most redheads. It had more of a creamy color, covered with more freckles than I’ve ever seen on any one body. And, as I found out later, they were all over. Including a funny little pattern at the top of the cleft of her ass that kind of looked like a rabbit. Anyway, I muttered something about buying her a cup of coffee. She just laughed and pointed at the cup on the table. “Tell you what”, she said, “I’ll let you buy me lunch”. I almost choked. How did I manage to pull this one off, I thought to myself. “I’ll meet you in your hotel lobby at 1”, she told me. I started to ask how she knew what hotel I was staying in, and she interrupted, “You’re American right, Americans always stay in the Crown Plaza”. She had me there. “Ok, I’ll see you at 1, and don’t be late – I don’t wait”, she commanded. I could only sigh a sarcastic “Yes Ma’am”. “That’s a good boy, go now and finish your run”, she told me.
So off I ran, or more accurately, glided along my route and back to the hotel. This was too good to be true and likely was just a ruse to get rid of me, the clumsy American boy. I got back to the hotel, ordered some room service coffee and breakfast and took a nice long hot shower. Nice thing about 5 star hotels around the world – plenty of good coffee and hot water. Globalization was sometimes a good thing after all.
I was in the lobby at 12:45, just to be safe. I found a chair with sight lines to both street level entrances so that I would see her coming regardless of her approach. I tried to relax with a little music from the iPhone. Finally decided on some My Morning Jacket. Didn’t want something too heavy, but nothing too poppy either, so MMJ seemed just right. I tend to obsess about music like that for some reason, every situation has to have just the right soundtrack. So there I sat, trying to relax and pay attention to the music without much success. I found myself tensing up every time one of the doors started to open. 1Pm came and went. Sucker, I thought – what a sucker. She certainly had me figured out and played me. Just as I was about to get up, I heard her from behind me. “Well, what are you waiting for?” This was not the last time she completely foiled my plans and caught me off guard. “What are you listening to?” I told her. “Never heard of them”, she said, “Let’s eat.”
She suggested an Indian place around the corner. I’ve not had much Indian food, so I let her order for me. More correctly, she ordered for the both us and then asked me if I minded. The look on her face let me know that it didn’t really matter if I did or not. I just laughed and shook my head. I really didn’t stand a chance and I knew it and I didn’t give a damn. This woman already had a hold on me. This woman, her name was Linda.
We took our time with lunch. It turns out the South Africans make some damn fine wines too. We drank some, and then we drank some more. Our lunch slowly burned through the remainder of the afternoon. The waiter indicated that they needed to prepare for the dinner service and we would need to be packing it in. I paid our tab, over tipping of course. No point in looking cheap. We stepped out into the late afternoon sun. It was a beautiful October day, and the sun was warm but not overly so. I asked her if she had to go, or if she’d like to take a walk. She was game. We walked a few blocks and low and behold, what did we find, but a wine shop! We bought a couple of bottles of a nice SA Riesling.
Rather than figure out how to get away with drinking wine on the street we headed back to the hotel. As we entered the lobby, she set me straight. “We are not going up to your room”, she said. I attempted a protest, saying that I would not be so presumptuous. She shushed me and said, “let’s go the garden.” So we did. We found a table in the corner, away from the pool. The waiter was kind enough to ignore the “outside” beverages and brought us a couple of glasses. When I say kind enough, he responded properly to the appropriate and not unexpected bribe.
We sat and talked in the fading light. We laughed and laughed. Her laugh was soft and sing-songy and her nose crinkled just so when she did. She took great pleasure in making sport of me, finding something funny in everything I shared with her. I didn’t mind, didn’t mind at all. Simply having her pay me attention was enough. I was happy to be her comic foil. I was clearly smitten.
The time passed quickly, but at the same time the day felt timeless – like we’d been together for days. As it turned out, we would be. As we poured the last of the wine, we were informed that we’d have to clear out, the pool area was closing for the night.
She was true to her word. As we walked to the lobby, she slipped her arm around my neck and gave me a soft kiss. “Dinner, tomorrow – I’ll call for you.” She stepped through the revolving door and into a cab and she was gone.
And I was a goner. I don’t remember the elevator ride up to my floor, or letting myself into my room. I found myself standing looking out the window at the lights of the city wondering what had befallen me. I don’t know how long I stood there, but it eventually occurred to me that I did have a job and I had meetings tomorrow, so I’d better get some sleep. I slept the sleep of child on Christmas Eve. Dreaming soft, warm gauzy dreams full of long legged redheads!
The next morning was ordinary. Got in a run and coffee before the first meeting. Thankfully, they served a light breakfast. The meetings seemed to drag on and on, but finally ended about 3. That was a bit earlier than I expected, so I thought I’d get in a swim before dinner. I found out that wasn’t to be the case when I returned to my room. There was a note on the bed from the front desk. 5Pm, out front was all it said. I didn’t have to be told twice. I wasn’t sure where we were going, so I figured I’d better try to be prepared for anything. I put on my linen suit, with a blue shirt – no tie. I figured that would be versatile enough.
I stood on the curb for about 5 minutes when a powder blue Audi TT stopped. Of course, I thought, perfect. I got in. She was stunning! She had on a yellow sun dress with a wrap of some kind around her shoulders. Looks like I guessed right. “Ready?”, she asked. She didn’t wait for an answer before pulling out and whipping a quick u-turn.
We stopped in front of a restaurant. It looked like some kind of steakhouse, not unlike what you’d find in New York or Chicago. Fine, that works for me – I love a good steak, I thought to myself. The Matrie’D knew her, “Good evening Miss Linda”. Dinner was nice, she was charming and of course we lingered again.
And so it went for the next week. We dined frequently and even danced occasionally. She was always firm, but never insistent in getting her way. I was usually happy to oblige, and even when I resisted I fell victim to her charms.
One week to the day of our meeting, I was awakened by a knock on my hotel room door. It was early, but already light outside. I wondered who it could be, never guessing it was her. I opened the door, she pushed into me and kissed me hard on the mouth, never saying a word.
She squeezed past me as I shut and locked the door. I turned around to see that she had already almost completely disrobed. I went to her.
We made love for the first time that morning. We spent the day repeating ourselves, with barely a word spoken.
Morning stretched into afternoon, afternoon into evening. I mentioned calling for room service – we hadn’t eaten yet today. “No”, she said, “Let’s go out. You’ve earned a good meal.” Her smile was sly and a bit mischievous, and I was not about to argue.
We walked around the corner to “our” Indian place. She didn’t want to go far from the hotel. I took that as a good sign, a real good sign. As before, she ordered for the both of us and we had more wine. This time however, we didn’t linger nearly as long.
Apparently dinner was just what she needed. She was ravenous. She started tearing at my clothes in the elevator, and it was all I could do to fight her off until we were back in the room. Not that I was trying too hard, mind you.
We made love again. This time she was on fire. We fell exhausted into each others arms and slept.
I slept the dreamless sleep of the contented, wrapped around her naked body.
We woke together as morning streamed in through the windows. She was more beautiful than ever in that soft light. She rolled over, smiled and kissed me, “Good morning love” she whispered. I was in heaven. How did this happen, I wondered to myself.
I ordered coffee and we sat in silence and smiled at each other like school kids. There didn’t seem to be anything to talk about that was worth interrupting this mood, this moment.
“I could use some breakfast, how about you?” I asked her. “Of course, let’s go downstairs”, she answered. We showered together and dressed. I was a bit out of my mind at my good fortune.
“What are you thinking?” She asked me. “Oh nothing”, I lied. She laughed and punched me in the shoulder. “You’re so full of shit”, she said, laughing again. I just smiled and winked at her.
We sat at breakfast in the hotel restaurant, enjoying the energy of the morning crowd, making chit-chat and laughing with the folks at neighboring tables.
“I must be off”, she said, “I have business to attend to today.” “On a Saturday?” I asked, “what kind of business?” She just waved off the question and said that she’d be back this afternoon and not to wander off too far. With that she jumped up, kissed me and was gone before I could even stand up. “Wow”, I thought, “that woman moves with a purpose and with a really nice ass”.
I spent the day lounging poolside, going over proposals and contracts. Well, more like napping poolside with a bucket of beers and a folder of proposals and contracts serving as a coaster. It was a warm day with a nice breeze blowing through the garden. I was happy and content and just a little buzzed as I dozed in and out of my nap.
I was startled awake by something touching my foot. I looked up to see Linda standing there running her finger up the sole of my foot. “Oh, you’re ticklish!”, she said with a fiendish grin, “I wish I had known!” “Oh, shit – my secret’s out” I yelped, faining shock.