A series of emotions flicked through her eyes in quick succession – surprise, awe, pleasure, which was quickly shadowed by a cool disinterest.
So that was who he was. Why he’d looked familiar. Like the last time, he was looking totally hot and amazing in slightly faded blue jeans and army green Rugby shirt and leather palms.
In a voice that didn’t reveal the variety of emotions rioting inside her, Valerie said. “So it is you, again.” Refusing to show she hadn’t recognized him the first time. That should bring him down a notch, she thought a little maliciously.
Nathan’s face cracked with a wide grin. “And it is you, at last.”
He couldn’t believe his luck. So finally they meet again. His eyes took her in. She was wearing a watercolour print cotton dress that fell fluidly over her curves in a hot flirtatious manner. Glamorous single strand acrylic turquoise and mint necklace draped over her shoulders to fall just below her breast bone, a simple touch that showed off her smooth long neck.
This lady had exquisite taste in bead jewellery, he thought, admiring the choice of round and oval mint beads. Teal Chlambake Aerosoles sandals finished off the illusion of simplicity she’d obviously intended. But there was nothing at all simple about the stunning beauty looking at him with cool disinterest, which Nathan deduced she was feigning, but still couldn’t get why.
Kike looked from one to the other. They’ve met before? She was puzzled.
“You’ve met Nate Phillips?” She asked Valerie, voice accusing. “You have met Nate Phillips and you never told me?”
Valerie eyed her. “I didn’t …”
“Quite recognize me then.” Nathan finished his teeth flashing.
So he’d noticed her surprise, the smug devil. She gave a slight nod. “No I didn’t, I had my mind on more important things.”
He received the shot with an even wider grin. “I’m sure, it was after all Valentine’s Day.”
Kike started. Sweet Jesus, this was the … she looked at Valerie, saw the warning look, but what is life after all without a little storm in a teapot?
“Oh my God, so this is the man who slammed into you at the supermarket that day?” Her face was a sweet smile. “The tall, dark and abso…” Valerie’s hand shot out and clamped her mouth shut. She glared at Nathan’s amused stare, but the latter was not the least bit intimidated.
“I see what you mean by wicked stepsister.” He looked pityingly at Kike who was pulling Valerie’s hand off. “Frightful,” he whispered leaning towards the now free Kike.
Kike burst into laughter. Quickly forgetting to be cross with Valerie for obviously ruining her lipstick.
“Wicked stepsister?” She turned from Nathan’s amused stare to look brow arched at Kike. Wicked stepsister, huh? Ah the traitor, she will have to deal with her later.
“Kike, we are running late.” She said smoothly, ignoring Kike’s snickering. She turned back to Nathan, cool smile still in place. “It’s been a pleasure running into you again. I hope …” She was cut off by a sharply scolding voice.
“Daddy! And where have you been? We’ve been looking for you everywhere.” The owner of the slightly husky voice came to stand in front of the now dismayed Nathan, hands akimbo.
Valerie looked down at the lovely girl in black leggings and deep pink flowered long top. She was the split image of her father.
She was maybe eleven or twelve, but was already showing the makings of great height, standing already at five foot four. Her deep set dark eyes and pouty full lips were clear indications she was her father’s daughter. Only the lighter shade of her skin spoke of the probability of a fair-skinned mother.
Something twisted hard inside Valerie. She flinched against the raw pain. But managed to keep the smile on her face as she looked at the cute girl who appeared not at all mollified by his father’s explanation of just passing time until you finished your shopping.
Toinette knew better. Her father avoided fans most of the time, especially female fans, but here he was obviously enjoying himself with these two. She cast a glance at the very tall one her father had been staring at. Wow! She was beautiful. Very beautiful.
She must be a model, Toinette supposed. She was so tall and simply … beautiful, for lack of a broader vocabulary. And she had a beautiful smile too.
Kike bent towards Toinette smiling in a friendly manner. “This must be your daughter. You are one lovely girl aren’t you?” Her eyes sparkled. “Hmm, nice perfume. What is it called?”
Toinette flushed with pleasure. This pretty lady with spiky short hair had not only noticed her perfume but said it was nice too. “Thank you. It’s Color me Pink. Have you ever used it?”
“Color me Pink, huh?” Kike shot Valerie a look that said you hear that then turned back to Toinette, shaking her head slightly. “Not Color me Pink, but I was privileged to use Color me Red when I was younger, though a little older than you are now.” She winked at her.
Toinette pretty face was wreathed in smile. She instantly liked Kike. “I only just started using it.” She confided. “My dad bought it for me on Valentine’s Day. Grandma said he had to since I was a teenager now and seeing my …” she lowered her voice, “period.”
Kike smiled. “Then you are most lucky then. My mama only got me mine only after I had finished secondary school. Twentieth century, you know.” She rolled her eyes in a dramatic way that made Toinette giggle.
“Hope you all know you are blocking the hallway.” Duncan said as he reached them, shopping bags in both hands. He’d been watching them as he approached slowly down the hall. He was guessing that the dazzling beauty Nathan was gawking at was gorgeous long legs from Valentine’s Day.
But it wasn’t the long length of beauty and sex appeal that had slowed him down, it was the skinny ebony black lady with striking dark pixie short hair with its red hues in pure black three quarter tights and sheer red silky knee-length top. He couldn’t quite explain it but something about her slim body in shimmering red top seemed to tug at him.
And as he looked at her now with her slightly wide pouty red lips and dark brown laughing eyes all set on a simple fine-looking heart shaped face, he wondered for the life of him why he felt somewhat pulled to her. He preferred his women to have some meat on them for heaven’s sake, not all skinny and bony.
He gestured towards the exit. “Let’s head out and continue … whatever this is outside.”
Nathan nodded his agreement. Drawing Valerie’s trolley out of her hand. “I’ll help you with that as we walk outside.”
Valerie’s it’s not necessary protest was completely ignored as Nathan started towards the exit. She ground her teeth, seething as she followed him. Men, she fumed, they never asked, just took over.
“I’ll help you push yours”. Toinette offered walking over to lay her hands over Kike’s trolley.
“And I’ll just continue carrying the shopping bags.” Duncan muttered following behind.
Valerie walked silently beside Nathan, looking everywhere but at him. So the perfume had been for his daughter, not for some girlfriend. Well that didn’t mean anything, because a guy like him must certainly have a girlfriend or even several girls at his beck and call. He was after all a celebrity and a very good looking one at that. She was damned if she was going to allow herself to be charmed into joining the harem.
Nathan watched the not-so-obvious nervous manner she touched the black Stella McCartney handbag hanging down her right side.
“I have to say here that this is completely a new experience for me.” His smooth low-pitched voice cut into Valerie’s reverie. “I have discovered I have somewhat varied effects on the ladies.”
He flashed her a grin. “Awestruck stares, high-pitched shrieks, incoherent babblings, excited hugs and pecks and sometimes …” he shrugged looking a little pained, “even indecent ass-grabbing.”
Her cheeks tinted with a bit of colour as she recalled her own desire to grab his butt. But she only turned to him with a cool stare. “And this is a new experience for you because I haven’t been awestruck, or shrieked, or babbled, hugged and pecked you I suppose?”
“Or even grabbed my ass indecently.” Nathan looked at her with the same pained expression in his dark eyes.
A chuckle inadvertedly escaped her lips. The wretched man, she thought, seeing his satisfied look. He had intended to make her laugh all along.
They all got outside.
“So where are you ladies parked?” Nathan asked. “Or did you come in a taxi?”
“Right over at that end.” Kike responded pointing. “The pure red Toyota Corolla beside that masterful looking black Honda Pilot.”
Toinette gave a delighted laugh. “And that is our car. Can you imagine? You parked your car right beside our own.”
Valerie almost groaned aloud, of all the places to park, it had to be right beside his car.
Nathan simply smiled, noticing her dismay. Thank you Lord, he thought.
Kike and Toinette went ahead of them. Reaching the car first and they started unloading Kike’s trolley. Toinette was pleased to help. She was beginning to really like her new Auntie Kike. She was so cool, she thought.
“You know I still don’t know your name.” Nathan stopped just beside the jeep.
“Valerie.” Kike supplied pushing aside the now empty trolley.
“Shut up Kike.” Valerie ordered. Ignoring the giggling Kike and Toinette, she turned to back to Nathan with a scowl.
“Now you know.”
“I do indeed.” Nathan smiled. “Valerie.’’ He said the name softly. “It suits you. Has this mysterious sexy ring to it.” He continued smiling crookedly now in a nonchalant manner. “Sounds like a name for a supermodel.” He arched a brow ever so slightly.
Valerie simply gave him a is-that-the-best-you-can-do stare.
Lame effort, Nathan inwardly cursed himself. He just didn’t want her to go off again without him knowing a little more about her, at least how to reach her. But somehow he felt certain that a direct question would be ignored.
He turned as Kike walked up to them.
“You know Chop and Munch?” She asked drawing Valerie’s trolley from Nathan’s hands.
“I do.” Duncan answered. Joining them again beside the cars, he’d stopped just beside the exit to take a call. “I’ve been there a couple of times. Great looking place, even better tasting food.”
Kike flashed him a bright smile. “My mama owns that place. And we work there, both of us.”
“You work at a restaurant?” Toinette asked impressed. “Must be really interesting.”
“Oh not so interesting for Valerie and I.” Kike smiled as she unpacked Valerie’s stuff into the other side of the back seat. “We are kind of the behind the scene people, we just do the paper work.”
Valerie promised herself that she would kill Kike later, shaking her head at the grinning Nathan, she ignored him.
Smiling she gave Toinette a wave as she got into the car.
“I’ve never been to Chop N’ Munch.” Nathan said winking at Kike. “Hope your lunch menu next week will leave up to its reputation.”
“You just come over and we’ll treat you to the best Nigerian dish you ever tasted.” Kike promised laughing at the scowling Valerie.
She gave Toinette a hug. Waved at Nathan and gave Duncan a friendly smile as she passed him.
Duncan smiled back at her. Enjoying her nosy easy manner. “Hi. This has been all informal, no proper introductions. I’m Duncan by the way.”
“Kike.” She smiled getting to the driver’s seat.
A moment later she pulled out the Palms gate. “Gorgeous Valentine’s Day Nathan is Nate Phillip? I see how you can forget the man’s face looking at that gorgeous firm ass, hmm.” She rolled her eyes in obvious pleasure. “A real hot black African ass.”
Valerie merely said dryly. “You do remember another black African ass called Marc?”
Kike sighed lustily. “And I do love his ass too.”
Valerie threw back her head and laughed.
To be continued…