Chapter 17

Kenneth watched her and her movements with amusement. Her black, shiny hair was expertly braided; she was garbed in a grey blouse and blue jeans while her fleshy lips were painted in red.                          ‘’Can I call you Kenneth?’’ she began subtly.                                                            Kenneth nodded coolly.                                                                                     ‘’I came to thank you for the other day.’’                                                     ‘’That’s thoughtful of you.’’                                                                                       The smile on her face grew bigger, revealing a set of white teeth.                 Kenneth was quick to note her mood was immensely relaxed as against what it was at their last meeting.                                                                                                          ‘’A friend in need is a friend indeed,’’ she said.                                           Kenneth gazed into her face intently. ‘’How are you now Lauren?’’                        ‘’Fine, Kenneth,’’ she replied.                                                                  ’’You know, I learnt a great deal from the incident of the other day. When I got home I sat and thought about everything and wondered why I had to go that length just to swim in a swimming pool. You are right; desperation shouldn’t push one into crime. I’m now a changed person.’’                                                                                ‘’I’m happy to hear you’ve taken a new leaf.’’                                                   Leaning back in the chair, she took a wide glance round the room. ‘’By the way, your office is fine, a CD player, a ceiling fan, a TV, you even have a fridge,’’ she said, rising up daintily and walking to the medium-sized fridge that stood backing the wall- about six yards away from Kenneth’s desk. She jerked open its door and looked at the contents for long moments which made Kenneth wondered what was holding her attention so long, then her face fell. ‘’Oh, just soft drinks, malts and water,’’ she shrieked as though she had just clapped her eyes on the most despicable things in the world,’’ don’t you ever store dry gin, whisky, brandy, spirit, hard cider  . ..’’ she said goggling at him over her shoulders.                                                                  ‘’What?!’’ Kenneth exclaimed, his eyes on her slant lips, he barely understood what she meant.                                                                                                               She shut the fridge and turned around to face him, a grim expression on her face. ’’Are you surprised? Don’t tell me you’ve not heard about the stuffs I mentioned, for someone who works in a leisure centre I’d have expected you to be familiar with all these brands and also expect to find them in your fridge whether in the office or at home. It’s a shame you don’t even know them much less have them in store.’’  She said eyeing him with despise.                                                                                   ‘’The fact that I work in a leisure centre does not mean that I guzzle alcohol.’’ Kenneth protested which attracted another horrid glare.                                                        ‘’So, what do you take then, Kenneth?’’ She asked, still pacing the room, she walked to the window drapes and touched the yellow silky material that hung over the window.  Kenneth was watching all the moves with interest.                                                          ’’The stuffs you just saw inside my fridge – water, malt, soft drinks, fruit juice, lemonade,’’ he said and the drape fell off her bony hands as she turned around to catch his face then giggled as if he had said something silly, ‘’you know you made me remember an old uncle of mine, he’s as underexposed as you are. Anyway, as for me, I care a lot about alcohol and I admire men who take it. In very large amounts too,’’ she said then giggled again.                                                                                       ‘’So you don’t admire me then?’’                                                                               ‘’I think I like you Kenneth,’’ she said, ‘’but maybe there are a few things you need to do to make you more manly.’’                                                                               Lauren stood and stared at him for long, then left the window and strode rather seductively round his wooden desk. She inched to his chair and looked into his eyes, as she did, her navel gently nudged his shoulder where he sat. Kenneth briefly held his breadth as her strong fragrance overwhelmed him, and the strong scent might have suffocated him but for the air blowing into the room from the window. Looking up at her, his eyes gently explored her dark exuberant face and settled on her seductive eyes. As their eyes met, she smiled and then bent to place a manicured fingernail, which had a red paint, on his chin which made his throat ran dry and set his heart thumping. He suddenly became uneasy as she moved on daringly, he flinched from what would happen if Dele Delani or Raymond Agbo or any visitor at that should walk in now.                                                                                       ‘’You don’t keep your beard, why?’’ she said not minding the apprehension in his eyes, her slim finger delicately working up from his chin to his cheekbone, then back to his lips which she fingered along their lengths, ‘’you have thin, brown lips,’’ she whispered into his ear.                                                                                                        Kenneth sighed, his eyes charily riveting on the door knob which he feared could turn at any time, he must find a way to end this provocative drama right away, he must make her leave, now.                                                                              ‘’No! No, stop it!! What you’re trying to do is inappropriate! Besides, I’m busy with work!!’’ he shrieked, pulling his head away from her.                                                Lauren was jolted by the rebuff as her face suddenly tightened up. She straightened up at once, her dark fluid eyes, regarding him contemptuously.                       ‘’Oh I see,‘’ she snapped,  walking away from his chair and round the table to the opposite end. She regarded him scornfully then began to mumble ‘’I came a long distance just because of you, I have to take a cab back and I have to buy a couple of items, my shoes are gaping at the nose, my bag’s straps have ruptured and my dresses are worn. Did I also mention that my hair needs fixing . . . ‘’ She rapped on, even as her eyes hungrily darted to Kenneth’s brown wallet placed beside Raymond’s document.                                                                                                                                      ‘’I wouldn’t have bothered you but I’m still in school . . .’’                                 Kenneth studied the sleek handbag on the table and the recently-braided hair briefly, sighed heavily then reached for his wallet, unzipped it and brought out some wads of notes which she handed over to her, she winked enticingly and flashed him a wider grin. ’’I admire you Kenneth, I really do. You’re one in a million,’’ she said quickly grabbing her bag from the table and dumped the money inside. She then cheerily got up and made for the door and as she placed her hand on the door knob, she suddenly turned and said: ‘’by the way I heard the leisure centre is arranging a weeklong show next week, that you people want to open your new hall. I’m really looking forward to it and thanks for the money.’’ She winked at him, blew him a kiss and then left the room. Long after she had gone Kenneth remained still in his chair.


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