Read chapter 23 here.
Alexa was fast asleep, her head on Paul’s bosom by the time the movie ended. Paul smiled at her soft breathing and brushed his palm along her arm. He had wished that they talked some more but he was sleepy himself. He gently picked her up and took her to her bed. He covered Alexa with the bedding, planted a kiss on her forehead and closed the door behind him.
Alexa woke up and stretched on the bed. She looked around the room, trying to recollect the previous day’s activities. The last thing she remembered was watching a movie with Paul. She gasped as she lifted the bedding and looked at herself. She sighed in relief when she saw that she was still in her outfit. She lay still in bed for some time, just staring at the ceiling. After letting out a yawn, she got out of bed and opened her suitcase. She took out her bath kit bag and entered the bathroom.
She opened the door to find Paul doing pushups in the parlor with one of Drake’s hit songs playing in the background.
“Hey,” Alexa said with an impressed smile. She leaned against the door, watching him.
“Hey. Want to join?”
“No, thank you. I’m very lazy when it comes to keeping fit. But you seem to have it all under control,” Alexa said, admiring Paul’s muscles as they flexed with each movement.
“Alright; how about you help me work out?”
“How, give you moral support? You don’t seem to lack any motivation.”
“Nah, get on my back.”
“Lie on my back…be my weight.”
“Whoa…with pleasure,” Alexa said, rubbing her palms together in delight. She walked towards him and stretched across his back, her face facing the ceiling, and her feet on the sofa.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Yeah…are you comfortable?”
“Oh yeah, great back you have.”
“Great; let’s go,” Paul said and resumed his pushups. Alexa steeled herself as she felt Paul moving up and down beneath her.
“Am I heavy?”
“Heavy enough. Perfect weight to manage.”
Alexa smiled proudly as if it were an achievement. She listened to his deep breathing with each pushup.
“I must say I’m enjoying this.”
“Bet you are,” he said.
The routine continued for a couple of minutes more. He shifted a little and Alexa slid off his back onto the carpeted floor. She gasped as she panicked for a second until Paul held her. They held each other’s gaze for some seconds. Alexa could feel her heart fluttering as he leaned closer.
Oh no, he’s going to kiss me, she screamed in her head. When his lips landed on her forehead, she realized she had been holding her breath the whole time. She let it out and immediately relaxed. Paul leaned his forehead against hers and whispered, “So glad you’re here with me.”
She rubbed his arm as she replied, “The pleasure is all mine.”
“How about we get breakfast?” Paul asked, looking into her eyes once more.
“Great. My hunger bells are ringing.”
He chuckled as he got to his feet and pulled her up.
“Make the order while I go and freshen up real quick.”
“Any special orders you’d like?” Alexa asked, picking up the phone.
“Croissant and some salad for sure.”
Paul chuckled and entered the bathroom. Alexa called room service and made the order. She walked to her bed and picked up her phone. She smiled when she saw a message from Louie. Before she could reply, a video call came through from Esme.
“Hey! Really miss you! Are you home?”
“No…Have you touched down in Accra?”
“Yeah. Where are you? Thought we could hang out and catch up,” Esme said.
“I’m out of town for the weekend. But we should definitely catch up. Miss you, S!”
“Miss you more, sweet. Are you per chance with Louie?”
“Oh no, he should be in the city.”
“Oh okay, I’ll hit him up and hang out with him and wait for you to return.”
“Okay sure. Welcome back, honey.”
“Is that…who’s that behind you?” Esme asked.
Alexa turned and saw Paul bare-chested and his waist wrapped in a towel.
“Talk later, cuz. Bye!” Alexa said hastily and ended the call.
“Sorry…I hope I haven’t caused any trouble,” Paul apologized.
“Nah, it’s fine.”
Paul caught her gaze lingering on his chest.
“Like what you see?”
“A little too revealing for the morning, don’t you think? Hope we can keep this as PG as possible,” Alexa said jokingly. Paul laughed as he walked to his closet to pick up a tee. Alexa’s phone beeped and Paul could tell she was busily typing.
“Who’s checking in on you this early morning?”
“My mum, who else? She sees this as some mock honeymoon.”
“Oh yeah? Then I should be stepping up my game then,” he said playfully, approaching Alexa. He snatched her phone from her typing hands and threw it on her bed. She gasped when he put her arms around his neck and pulled her to him.
“Going all Korean-romantic on me?”
“What? You watch K-drama too?” He asked, chuckling.
“Oh yeah, they are very cute.”
He brushed some stray hair from her face away behind her ear and smiled.
“I like what I’m feeling, Alexa. I’ve a good feeling about us. I don’t know if you feel it too but I’m almost certain that we can be a success story if only you’d give us a chance.”
“Oh I’m the one holding us back?” Alexa asked.
“The ball’s in your court, lady.”
A knock on the door. “Room service.”
“Let me get that,” Alexa said and walked past him to the door.
“Good morning,” the waiter greeted when Alexa opened the door wide enough for him to wheel their food in.
“Thank you,” Paul said, sitting down.
He nodded and left the room. Alexa joined him as he uncovered their breakfast. He gave Alexa an amused look when she rubbed her palms together.
“Forgive me; the foodie in me has no self-control,” Alexa said.
He chuckled and shook his head. He said grace and they started eating.
“Tell me about Louie,” he said suddenly. Alexa swallowed what she was chewing and pushed it down with some tea.
“What do you know about him so far?”
“Your dad said you’ve been friends since you were in your tiny teeny years.”
“Yeah, that’s right. Crushed on him, grew distant for a while…it’s been a roller coaster ride with him. But we’ve managed to remain friends all this while.”
“So…are you still crushing on him?”
“Not at the moment, I’ve moved on from that. Some sweethearts are not meant to be romantic, you know. It’s better when you stay as friends.”
“Yeah…I’m not going to downplay how deep our bond is. But he’s a cool dude. He’s low-key rooting for you, actually.”
“Oh he knows about me?”
“Yeah…he saw you at the hospital when I was admitted.”
“I see. So is there a chance I can meet him for Alexa 101 titbits?”
“Haha…I doubt he’ll give you any. You’ve got to ace that on your own.”
“How did your last relationship end?” It was Alexa’s turn.
“Nasty. We wanted different things. My mum always said I was too generous for my own good. I kept giving and she kept taking and she didn’t seem to appreciate or care for the things I was passionate about. I saw the red signs early but I didn’t want to give her up. She was pretty, very hot and very…”
“Good in bed?”
He chuckled. “Yep. I was young and I didn’t know better. How did you guess that?”
Alexa shrugged. “I’ve a male best friend. Apparently, it’s very necessary in your books. How long ago was this?”
“About three years…”
“You’ve been single for three years?”
“Went abroad to study and I dated some ladies on and off but nothing serious.”
“Well, if I’m to compare myself to her, I think I fall very short on the scale. I’m not…”
“I don’t care about that anymore.”
“Okay. I’m going to be honest with you, Paul. I feel like I’ve some growing up to do and it wouldn’t be fair to you waiting for me to get in shape, you know.”
“I also have to grow up, Alexa. I just need someone exciting enough to do that with.”
Alexa nodded. She was running out of excuses.
“Okay, I hear you, Paul.”
After chatting idly for the next hour, they went for a spa treatment. They laid in bed lazily, starring up at the ceiling and playing with their fingers afterwards.
“So…did the car influence you giving me a chance?”
“Yes, it did. I felt like it was too grand a gift to treat lightly. But your company is worth much more.”
“Glad to hear it.”
He had a confession to make but he felt like it would ruin everything if he made it right now. It would be wise to shut up about it until later. He kissed her forehead. Alexa had dozed off.
Louie was watching a playback video of a Lakers game on his iPad when he heard a knock on his door. He got up and walked to the door and opened it.
Louie blinked. “Esme, you’re back. Welcome.”
“Thanks, honey. Brought you something. May I come in?”
“Yes please,” he said. She entered and he closed the door.
“Does know Lex you’re in?”
“Oh yeah…she was in a room with a shirtless guy…I’m sure I saw him in a towel; although he didn’t look like Uber boy. Any idea who he is?” Esme asked, putting her handbag down.
“No,” Louie replied distractedly as he wondered what could be happening between Lexa and Paul for him to be in a towel.
“Anyway, aren’t you going to give me a welcome back hug?” She asked as she opened her arms. He hugged her and she held him tightly.
“Hmm…I missed you,” she moaned. They pulled apart.
“So what have you been up to?” she asked as they sat. “Praying and hoping for my cousin to come back into your loving arms?”
“Among other things…how was your trip?”
“Great. Had fun. I wished Lexa was with me though. Would have been more exciting.”
“Before I forget,” Esme said, opening her bag. She brought out a box and handed it to him.
“Thank you,” Louie said and opened it gently. It contained a fancy bracelet made of beads.
“Oh wow…I’ve been planning on ordering some online. Thanks, Esme.”
She held Louie’s shirt and pulled him to her.
“Esme, let’s not…”
“Not what? Because of my sweet cousin, Lexa? She’s giving the ride of her life and you’re here playing faithful boyfriend?”
Louie blinked and mental images of Alexa and Theo in her apartment came to mind. He blinked again to clear the images.
“Come on, we’re all adults here. No labels, no strings. Just benefits – that’s how you play, right?”
“We’re not doing this, Esme. I respect you very much…”
“To hell with respect. I just want you and I know you want me too,” Esme said in an alluring voice, her hand racing south of his chest. He quickly caught it.
“I don’t have rubber. Run out of them.”
“Don’t worry; I got you. Brought a couple with me,” Esme said with a mischievous wink. Louie swallowed hard. His head was screaming no but his body was already responding to her advances. What a betrayal.
It had been a while since he got warmed up by a woman’s body. No wonder his defenses were too low to fight back. Esme leaned forward. When Louie responded to her kiss, she smiled, knowing it was a go.
Esme walked to Louie’s refrigerator and opened it. She smiled when she saw a box of Hollandia yoghurt. She was about to pick it but Louie took it first.
“Sorry, out of bounds.”
“It’s not for you.”
“Who’s it for?”
“Seriously? I just gave you the best time of your life and you’re holding out on refreshment because it’s my cousin’s favorite?”
“Sorry, it’s a ritual. And what did you say about giving me the best time…?” Louie asked teasingly as he put the yoghurt box back in the refrigerator and closed the door.
“Oh come on, you’re not going to deny that, are you?”
“I won’t be a jerk and say no but I’m sorry, you can’t have that. I have juice and even sparkling water, if you want.”
“Can’t you just buy a new one for her?”
“I could but I don’t want to…come on, you can have anything else.”
“Geez…you’re the worst kind of human being. Fine, I’ll have anything else,” Esme conceded. Louie smiled and reopened the fridge. Esme rolled her eyes as she picked a bottle of juice. Louie closed the door and pulled Esme to him. He kissed her forehead and she smiled.
“Does that mean I’m your girl now?”
“Is that what you want?”
Esme nodded expectantly like a little girl. He chuckled as he touched her face. She leaned forward and kissed him.
“So have you thought about my proposition?” Paul asked as they pulled up inside the Baiden’s residence.
“Yes, I have. And I like it but I don’t want to be tied up in a relationship. After my last breakup, I decided to go on a love sabbatical. So I’m all up for it but nothing exclusive. So you let me know if you’re okay with it, yeah?”
“In other words, you’re not convinced about me.”
“In other words, I’m committed to not being committed now. Rushing into a relationship when I’m not ready would only end ugly for both of us. I believe I need to give my next one a good fighting chance. But I do like you, Paul and who knows, I might end my sabbatical earlier than I thought,” Alexa said, touching Paul’s face. He kissed her forehead.
As Paul helped Alexa with her bag inside the house, her phone beeped. A message from Theo. He had sent her a poem: I Tasted Love and I’m Hooked!
Alexa chuckled and started typing a reply.
“Everything okay?” Paul asked.
“Yeah…I’m being missed by a friend.”
(c) Josephine Amoako 2020
Read chapter 25 here.