A COLD BUT PLEASANT DAY
“Hey Erica, dreadfully cold morning huh?” yelled Maddie as I went by in a frantic haste.
“Hello Maddie, can’t say I wanted to get out of my bed this morning. Going for a cup of coffee before work” I waved at my favorite magazine retailer as I walked by.
It was a particularly cold morning, and on my walk to the boutique where I worked, I made a stop at André’s Café, just a block away from my job, to take my usual cup of coffee. As I walked in, I noticed a calm looking young man sitting on my favorite spot, “Aaaaaaargh” I muttered under my breath. Andre’s was as noisy as usual, the smell of brewing coffee was in the air, as I swept through the other customers, I gestured to Julie for my order and she nodded. I walked straight to the rear end of the cafe from where I could see every other person and settled. Julie brought my cup of coffee and we chatted for a few seconds before she drifted away into the crowded room to serve others. As I sipped my coffee, I felt intense eyes boring at me. I shifted in discomfort and pretended not to notice. But he kept starring. I had an eerie feeling that the minute I look up at him I would be in great trouble. I felt his eyes travel slowly from my fingers to my upper arm before settling on my lips. I swallowed hard!
That was it, enough of this! He had to stop staring at me like that. I raised my head and turned sharply to ask what his problem was, but I could only stare. I had not noticed the sharp features, the angular face and the smoky grey eyes. I melted from the inside as I stared at this stranger who had still not taken his intense eyes off me. Somehow, I managed to tear my eyes off his gaze and quickly gulp down my coffee. My hands were trembling as I picked up my stuff to get out of the café as fast as I possibly could.
I walked passed him in a frantic haste and headed straight for the door without a second glance. As I took the first steps out of the cafe, I felt a warm hand grab my arm in a gentle but firm grip. I did not need to look because I knew who it was without a doubt – the stranger had followed me outside. In one flustered moment I did not know what to do until he spoke up, in an ever so gentle voice, “Hi, could I please have a moment with you.” I hesitated, while keeping myself from looking at him, I barely spoke the words, “I need to get to work, don’t have much time now.” There! That should keep him away now.
His warm hand encircling my arm was very distracting, I could not think straight. I tried to pull my arm away but he held on. My breath caught. “Can I walk with you to work? Do you work anywhere around here?” Oh no, not that, not that! I bit on my lip to stifle the grunt which had made its way up. Then I turned to look at him [big mistake], I was drowning again. Those eyes again. I couldn’t say ‘No’ when they were staring at me like that. I quietly accepted to walk with him to the boutique.
“Sorry to barge in on you like this, but I really couldn’t help it. I am Kierona Atembe and you?”
“Erica, Erica Eware,” that was all I could manage.
A few weeks later, as I expected, the sparks flew and emotions went wild. We spent the days after our meeting, getting to know each other at a personal level and discovering this new found love. Conversation with him was so easy and stimulating. I had never had such a feeling of utter accomplishment in my life.
However, I was a little unsettled about the age difference between my new beau and I. Atembe was three years younger and I had set a number of rules on the kind of guy to date. He could not be younger, could not be living with his parents, or be dependent. But all of that flew out the door when I looked at him. My heart was totally in love but my mind kept telling me, ‘this is not it.’ I ignored the tiny voice of caution and went for it. ‘To hell with rules! I just can’t stop thinking of this guy.’
Atembe was a truck driver who traveled the Gabon-Cameroon road, so I knew he would often leave but the passion was great. I had never experienced anything so strong. The first nine months were absolutely magical! He would send me long love emails when he was on the road. We would spend every weekend together, making love and big love declarations to each other. The strong emotional ties of a love at first sight relationship were present, emotions were running wild. My entire body rocked with every word he spoke, every smile and every time he touched me, I melted like butter on heat.