The third missionary journey begins - The Perfect Backside
“D-a-m-n,” Dunni said in wonder and regret when she noticed that the rudimentary ascent to the Erin- Ijesha Waterfalls was beginning to level out.
Covered in moss, the broken up blocks that made up the steps were only held in place by the tufts of grass growing around them. Assessing the remaining, she took in the profusion of foliage that surrounded them and breathed in the clear air, so different from the heat and humidity of Dallas. At the top of the steps, she took a picture destined for her desk, something from home to relax her on those frazzled days at work. From her vantage point, the crumbling steps spread out in a triangle, the sentry trees at the edges casting a shadow that framed the edges.
The low sun caressed her bare arms while a light breeze cooled them, fanning under the short sleeves of her T-shirt. A film of dew and dust coated her size 10 sneakers but she could care less. She loved the outdoors and especially this opportunity to explore a part of her previously overlooked heritage. She rolled her neck, and then each of her shoulders in turn as she hurried to keep up with the rest of the group though she would’ve preferred to take her time on the climb. But she guessed the others had made this journey a few times before, and wanted to get to the main attraction of the falls quicker.
Dunni remembered the first time she’d gone rock-climbing with colleagues from her office. Her quest for adventure had started at Dallas Rocks, an indoor climbing gym, where she’d trained for a few months until she felt ready to go with the others into the hills around Dallas. In fact, this trek reminded her of a hike some weeks before this Nigerian trip with her favorite meet-up group. They’d gone on the Knob Hill trail near Lake Grapevine, and except for the missing cacti, the the Erin-Ijesha trees provided the same patterned canopy from the sun overhead.
She exhaled, craning her neck as far as they could go to see if she could catch a glimpse of their destination. This was like a slice of paradise she didn’t want to end.
“Folarin, I hope there are more steps up there?” She called to her cousin. The other people in the group, two women and three men all looked at her as if she must be out of her mind.
“Not much, we’re almost at the top.”
Dunni exhaled again, turning to smile at Folarin as he came to stand beside her.
“What do you think?” He asked, smiling back at her.
“This is great.” Dunni couldn’t resist taking another picture of the shimmering horizon.
“Those must be my stragglers,” Folarin said, his gaze fixed at the bottom of the steps.
Dunni followed his gaze and saw three people coming towards them. She recalled that their group was supposed to be ten in all but one of the men said his companions had stopped off along the road to buy some stuff.
“Do you want us to wait for them here?” She asked Folarin.
“No, they’ll catch up with us at the first cascade.” He said, turning away. “One of them has been on this hike several times before, says the open air and the walking take away the stress of his high-flying Lagos job.”
Dunni smiled in understanding as she followed. It was also her position as human capital analyst at Deloitte Consulting that had sent her in search of a physically exerting hobby.
“Need a hand?” One of the men asked, coming alongside.
Dunni shook her head and walked faster. He’d introduced himself to her as Paul as they’d all left the parking lot and had been stealing obvious glances at her since. She knew he would be all over her if she so much as gave him an inch, but he held no attraction whatsoever for her. And what was the need of striking up a relationship when she would be leaving the country once her vacation ended? As Paul fell in step with her, she considered acting interested just to spite her aunts and her mother’s friends who felt she lacked man-snagging skills. Arriving with a man in tow after just one outing will surely show them.
And it was the same marriage-nagging coven that made her jump at the chance to go off with Folarin when he’d called her to say he was going hill-climbing that morning with a small group. He was four years younger, but they had hit it off during her last visit and kept in constant touch after she returned to Dallas. He had been in university then and she loved the pictures he shared on Facebook of treks through the wilds of the south-western Nigerian states. The initial plan for her six week vacation had been to relax for the first three weeks in Ilorin and go hiking with Folarin after the New Year. But with the trip becoming more stressful than she expected, she couldn’t pass up this drive to the waterfalls, less than half an hour’s drive from their village. She needed to clear her head and get back the peace that usually enveloped her when she was in Nigeria with her family. But with gossipy women everywhere she turned in the village, a hilltop seemed the only place to get away from all the bull.
And what an amazing and welcome getaway it was proving to be. After an hour of climbing, they came upon the waters of the first cascade which bubbled over several ledges before plunging into its pool in a shroud of white foam. All her worries of the past week, her father’s still shaky health, the nattering women, seemed to slough off her skin with the rushing stream, and she quickly shrugged off her backpack. Pulling her T-shirt over her head to reveal her halter neck sports bra, Dunni tugged off her cargo knee-pants and waded into the water. Nothing was going to stop her from enjoying this experience to the full, not even the ogling men. The bracing cool water welcomed her and stretching out her arms, she dove in. Heaven.
A bent-over, rounded female was the first thing he saw once he entered the clearing, as the owner arched her back, about to dive into the Olumirin pool. Babs walked closer, bounced once on his toes, and then settled into the heels of his hiking boots to fully take in the most perfect backside he had ever seen. And he knew what he was saying because he’d seen a lot. She splashed in, surfacing in a strong crawl. The tight shorts she wore barely covered her hips and clung like a second skin. Sunlight glinted off the water on her long and lean limbs as she moved effortlessly through the pool. The other people splashed around the banks of the pool, or took pictures of each other on the rocks around but they couldn’t keep his attention.
Folarin came over and they shook hands but Babs didn’t say much and soon, the other guy went to chat with the couple that had straggled in after him. Babs was standing in the same spot when the swimming lady waded out, rivulets of water of sluicing off her narrow shoulders and hourglass waist. He swallowed the lump that climbed his throat and cleared it loudly in order to get her attention. When she glanced over at him, he flashed his best smile. He’d always found it easy to get the girls he wanted and walked towards this one without thinking twice about it. Women were quickly charmed by his looks and what some of them called his confidence.
By the time he got to her, she had stepped into tan knee-length khakis that did nothing to camouflage her divine figure. “Hello, how are you?”
She eyed him then turned away to pick up the top lying on a grass-covered rock, shrugging into it without a word. Was she ignoring him? He stuck out a hand and smiled more widely. “I noticed you’re a very good swimmer.”
His smile faded a bit as he watched her eyebrows climb her forehead. After a couple of seconds, he let his hand drop. She’d half turned away as if looking for something, or someone. Had he made a mistake and she was coupled up? But she didn’t look familiar, and he could’ve sworn he knew all the people in this group. Babs looked around again, and saw Paul staring at them both with a strange expression in his eyes. Was that a smile? Had his colleague got to her before him? He looked back at the still silent woman. Why doesn’t she just say so?
“Are you deliberately being rude?” He asked finally.
“You mean rude like the lecherous look on your face as I walked out of the pool?” Her reply took him by surprise, and before he could formulate an answer, she shot another volley.
“And how long were you standing there with spit dribbling down your slack jaws?”
Babs laughed inwardly. She sure had a smart mouth on her. And he noticed her American accent. She must be visiting and what could be better than a tourist romance? Well, he wasn’t one to back down from a verbal sparring, it was all part of the fun as far as he was concerned.
“Cat got your tongue?” She taunted, following it up with a drawn out hiss. “F-o-o-l!”
“How dare you!” Babs hissed back, the smile wiped from his face.
“How dare I?”
Her almond shaped eyes had gone wide and he wondered if it could go wider still. After the sting of her insult, the fun was coming back to their exchange and he wanted to see how much further he could needle her.
“You need to wash out that mouth of yours with soap. You’re acting like a spoilt child.”
“You, s-i-r-,” she rolled her eyes at him, “are the spoilt child here, acting like you’ve just seen a new toy and can’t wait to get your grubby hands on it. I won’t be surprised to find you have a couple of wives at home, and several mistresses too.”
“Sorry to disappoint you,” he laughed, “I am very much unmarried. You see, I love women too much to deny them of myself.”
Babs felt charged up, his heart chugging away in his chest like the trains his company planned to put on Lagos rails.
“So, yes, I’ve had my fair share of girlfriends and mistresses,” he continued, smiling at the memories, “I have to say though; in all my years, I’ve never seen a backside to rival yours.”
“How dare YOU!” She hissed, her eyes snapping a fire that flickered electricity over his skin. He could see her jaws tense as her fists clenched. Boy, did she have a temper. As she stepped closer to him, he saw she was almost as tall as his six feet. He wanted to reach out and touch her, and he also realized that he really wanted to know her name.
Barely managing to keep his hands by his sides, Babs sighed theatrically. “We can stand around here daring each other, or you could tell me your name?”
“Go to HELL!”
“Dunni, are you OK? What’s the problem?”
Babs allowed a smug smile to spread over his face, and watched her, Dunni, close her eyes as if in pain. She quickly opened it to glare at Folarin who had just joined them, and then at Babs. He could guess at the colorful words running through her head, and probably letter by letter, but she remained silent, only picking up her backpack and slinging it behind her.
“Dunni?” Folarin called again.
“He’s your customer, right? Tell him that I do not talk to o-a-f-s.”
Babs swallowed his laughter at being proved right and watched her straight-backed march through the grasses as she stalked away. She might have been trying to control the sway of her hips but they had a mind of their own, and he couldn’t tear his gaze away.
“She’s my cousin, you know?” Folarin’s voice called him back to where he was standing. “She’s just visiting from the US and I don’t want anything to spoil her trip.”
“Relax, Folarin. We’re all adults, and your cousin is very beautiful. Trust me, I’m not going to spoil her visit or anything else. Not unless she wants me to.”
So what do you say? Did the characters grab you, do they feel real and do you want to keep reading? Remember, Feedback, feedback, feedback. What did you not like, and could do without?
_ Picture from www.naijatreks.com. Folarin, the tour guide and Dunni's cousin, is also named for the owner of the Naijatreks blog, parts of which inspired some settings in this WIP.