WIP - More than just a nice smile

“I hope you weren’t too bothered by that official?” Babs asked, slowing down his steps so that they matched with hers.
“Not really,” Dunni replied, “I knew he could only do so much.”
In a way, the man reminded her of a parking attendant she had once run into in Dallas, who had been about to put a ticket on her windscreen when she’d run over and gotten inside. The man, tall and skinny, had insisted that he would still issue her the ticket but she had challenged him, drawing the attention of two passers-by. In the end, the attendant had walked away, grumbling swear words under his breath.
Babs’s friend walked a few paces ahead of them, and Dunni kept her eyes on him hoping they would get to the suya place very quickly. Now that she was here, all sorts of doubts assailed her. She could be biting off more than she could chew. As she tried to keep her mind on the slow conversation Babs was trying to sustain, it was his words about their kiss that looped through her mind. 


She wondered what he actually felt about what had happened between them, and about her. He was a very attractive man and she couldn’t deny the desire that raked at her whenever he was near. The thought of that fiery first kiss had not left her since that day, now almost a week ago. It had been a long time, if ever, that any man had stirred such deep feelings in her, and much as she hated to admit it, he was becoming more than just a nice smile and a pair of twinkling eyes to her. It was just too bad he had only one thing on his mind.
“What are you thinking about?”
Babs surprised her by stopping and taking one of her hands in his. She snatched it back immediately, her gaze flying to his.
“Hey, relax.” He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
“Are we at the Suya place?”
“Yes,” he smiled, “right there.”
Sure enough, there was a bar area a few steps from them and beside that a suya arena. Now that she was paying attention, a nutty aroma pervaded the air, of roasting meat and peppery spices tinged with wood-smoke. Two northern-looking men manned meat-laden tables and moved nimbly between those and the meat roasting platforms. As she watched, his brother began to talk with one of the men whose hands wielded the knife he was using to cut up meat for customers with an impressive and dexterous efficiency.
“I prefer chicken suya.” Dunni said, as saliva filled her mouth. Anticipation for the coming sensory overload that was suya forced other worries from her mind.
Babs called out to Kingsley to ask if they had chicken, and Dunni left him there to walk closer to the suya spot. Sticks of kebab meat stood tall on top of one perfectly round platform, the firewood underneath them giving off bright orange and red flames. The heat increased the closer she got to the seller’s table but the anxious desire to taste the spicy meat drew her forward. Bab’s brother had ascertained that her choice was available and she couldn’t wait till it was her turn to order. She was finally before the toothy mallam and asked for enough to take away. Wale and babs laughed at her as she picked a piece out of their order of chunky beef suya before it was wrapped in newspaper. Swallowing saliva, she watched the mallam serving her as he sliced the chicken she’d ordered into even thinner strips. She smiled in anticipation as some spices were sprinkled over the meat and large cuts of tomatoes; onions and cabbage were added to the side.
Babs took her arm and they walked over to join his friend at one of the plastic tables arranged in the bar area across from the serving table. Kingsley had already gotten some drinks and Dunni thanked him as she took a seat.
“It seems you like Suya a lot?” he asked.
“I do,” Dunni replied, popping a piece of chicken into her mouth slowly. She munched on it, savoring the rich taste in her mouth especially when she washed it down with the malt drink.
“So what’s the verdict on this one?” Babs asked.
“Ten over Ten,” Dunni replied, pushing her free thumb up.
“You can’t be serious?” He laughed.
“Well, this is only the second time I’m eating Suya since I arrived in the country, and this is definitely better than the one my parents bought in Ilorin.”
“Are you here on vacation?” Kingsley rejoined the conversation.
Dunni replied in the affirmative and for the next half an hour, the three of them chatted lightly on topics ranging from suya to American politics and finally to the English premier league. On the wall in front of them, a football game played on a large screen TV and the guy’s attention moved sporadically to it. When Dunni said she had no interest in the sport, and knew virtually nothing about it, Wale almost took it as an affront. After she had determined that he was just joking and they were laughing again, she informed Babs that it was time for her to go.
“I’ll walk you home,” he said.
When Dunni protested that she could get there on her own, he insisted and she finally gave in. She gave him descriptions of her parent’s house and he told Wale to wait for him at the Suya spot since Dunni’s home wasn’t too far away before following her out of the makeshift bar.

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