Friday, July 12, 2019

Book Preview: Like Never Before (Chapter Five)

Hi readers,

As I count down to the release of my upcoming romance novel, I'll be sharing chapters of the book every other week.

Here's the fifth and final chapter, and I hope you enjoy it:

Chapter Five: Five-minute walk

It was the sound of her ringing phone that woke her up. Chiny didn’t know where the sound was coming from, as she couldn’t remember where she had flung her purse when she returned from her outing. The phone kept ringing and she tried to ignore it by putting a pillow over her head, but the caller was persistent. She staggered out of bed, found her purse and took the phone out to see who it was. It was Nneka calling.


“Hello?” Chiny said, with a cracked voice.

“You really sound like a frog, for the first time.” Nneka laughed. “I’ve been calling you since.”

“I was sleeping, sorry. I had a long night.”

“Really?” Nneka asked, prolonging the word. “Sounds interesting. Tell me about it.”

“Not now, Nneka, I need to sleep. I’m too drowsy.”

“So you had a lot to drink?”

“I did, but I will have to tell you about it later, please.”

“Wake up jor, let’s talk.”

“No! I will call you later.” Chiny hung up before Nneka could protest. She knew that Nneka would surely call her back, but she wasn’t going to pick up.

Her phone rang again and rang out. It happened about three more times, then the fourth time, she gave in.

She grumbled, grabbed the phone, and then answered, “What?”

“Having a bad morning?” the caller asked.

Chiny immediately raised her head. She looked at the caller ID, just to be sure who was calling, even though she knew it was David. It was him quite all right.

“Hey, morning.” She sat up, as if he could see her. “I’m sorry about that. I’m not having a bad morning. I thought you were someone else.”

“I wonder who.”

“A friend from back home. She’s been calling me non-stop all morning and won’t give up.”

“I see. You’re still in bed?”

“Yes. What time is it?”

“Time for us to head out to the beach. You mentioned you would love to go there yesterday at the club.”

Chiny looked at the time on her phone. It was 11:15 a.m. She had slept for over six hours uninterrupted, but it felt like she had only shut her eyes for a few minutes.

“I feel weak,” she complained. “Can we do the beach tomorrow? I want to sleep today.”

“No, Madam. Get up and have some coffee. It’ll make you feel better.”

“Is that what you had?”

“Something like that.” He laughed.

“You sound like you never even drank or tasted any alcohol yesterday.”

“I also had breakfast. Maybe you should have some as well.”

“Oh, that’s why you sound so full of energy. I’ll have the coffee then, but I’ll pass on the breakfast,” she said. “Are you coming to get me?”

“Of course, I am. I’ll be there in thirty minutes,” he responded. “Get up now and go have the coffee.”

***

It was like a dream, but it was really happening. David had stopped by at the hotel thirty minutes later and asked the valet to park his car. He waited in the lobby for Chiny to come downstairs and smiled when he saw her approach.

She was dressed for the beach with a nice short orange summer dress that had several colours of flowers on it. She had her sunglasses on her head and carried a transparent bag that had her towel, body cream and wallet in it. She also smiled when she saw him. He had beach shorts and a tee shirt on, and wore dark sunglasses.

“You look lovely,” he said, then when she was close to him, he gave her two pecks, one on each cheek.

“Thank you,” she replied. “Although I’m not sure the coffee worked. I’m still very sleepy.”

“Are you really sure you had the coffee?”

“Yes, with milk and sugar.”

“That’s why you’re still feeling sleepy. You’re supposed to have black coffee, with no cream or sugar.”

“No way I’m drinking such. It’ll be too bitter for me.” She laughed. “Let’s go, please, before I change my mind.”

David excused himself first and went to meet the hotel receptionist. He asked if he could get a taxi and she said she was going to call one for him. While waiting for the taxi to arrive, he went back to meet Chiny.

“What’s going on?” Chiny asked.

“I asked for a taxi.”

“Why?”

“I don’t think I want to drive to the beach today. We’ll take a taxi to a grocery store close to the beach to buy something to eat and drink, then continue on foot. It’ll be a five-minute walk from there.

“Is something wrong with your car?” She looked sad, as if the car was a human being who could have been hurt.

“Oh, nothing happened to the car. I just want to keep a low profile.”

She laughed hysterically. “The same way you kept a low profile at the club yesterday? What were you even thinking doing that? Or you didn’t think anyone would recognise you in the South of France?”

David grinned. “It was an experiment. Marie said that I couldn’t get away with remaining anonymous, even if I wanted to. So I took up the challenge. I dressed down and walked up to the club while one of the club security men drove my car.”

Chiny had already stopped listening from ‘Marie said.’ She obviously wanted to know who the ‘Marie’ was, but she didn’t know how to ask. Instead, she said, “So I guess you lost the challenge.”

“I did.”

Just then, the hotel receptionist called out to David to tell him that the taxi had arrived. As they walked outside, Chiny looked for the best opportunity to ask David who Marie was, but didn’t find any. When they got into the car, she noticed that the taxi’s meter was reading, and it was already on twelve Euros.

“I don’t understand the taxi system here. How can it already be on twelve Euros when he just got here?”

“Because the damn thing starts reading right after you make the request. Excuse my language,” he said. “It does not matter where the driver is when he receives the call, he starts running the meter from there.”

“So it’s possible that they can come here one day with twenty Euros already?”

“It’s possible, that’s if they claim there was traffic, but I doubt they’ll be stupid enough to do so.”

Chiny laughed, but the laugh felt heavy. It wasn’t let out freely from her chest. She still had the question on her lips, tugging at her. She decided to seize the opportunity, and asked, “Who is Marie, by the way?”

“Oh, my girlfriend.”

“Your girlfriend?”

“My ex-girlfriend, I mean. I was actually wondering if you were ever going to ask.”

***

The taxi took them to the grocery store in no time and they went in to buy the refreshments. David bought some beach mats and umbrellas as well. When they were done, they took the short walk to the beach, enjoying the sun as it brought life to the city.

Finding a spot on the stony beach was quite difficult, as it seemed like the whole world was also there. When they eventually got somewhere nice, they dropped their things there to camp. While David was setting up, Chiny looked around.

The view was heavenly, and the sea, clear blue. Chiny wished she knew how to swim, just so that she could go in, like some people who were already in so deep, with their heads in the distance like small dots.

She turned to her side and saw some women on their mats with bare chests, getting tanned. She was surprised at first, but then looking farther down, she saw that it wasn’t unusual. A few women, also in only their bikini bottoms, lay frying in the sun. Chiny couldn’t help but get David’s attention to a woman she saw looking crispy. Her skin was so dry that Chiny thought it would break if touched. In all, the whole place was lovely; they got a good place to rest, and maybe sleep if she got too tired.

“We’re done,” David announced. “Let’s relax and take in some sun.”

“Sorry, but I’m staying under the umbrella all through. I don’t plan on getting any darker than this.”

David laughed aloud. He opened the pack of grapes he had bought, and they began to eat as they watched the sea. In no time, Chiny napped. She went in and out of sleep, but she could hear David get on the phone, whispering. She was too tired to make out what he was saying or figure out whom he was talking to, and shortly afterwards, sleep overcame her.

She woke up abruptly and a gush of cool air brushed her face. She turned to look at David and he was staring at her, smiling.

“Enjoyed your sleep?” he asked.

She nodded. “I heard you on the phone. Or was that a dream?”

“It wasn’t a dream. I was speaking with my agent, and I didn’t want to wake you, so I had to keep my voice down.”

“Oh, okay.” She muffled a yawn, almost getting a stiff neck. “I’m hungry now.”

“Let’s eat then.”

David brought out paper plates and served salad for both of them, then they had fries and chicken, which had already gone cold, and had juice and water, that had gone warm.

They spent the whole time eating, talking and laughing until David moved his sunglasses over his head, and their private, fun moment ended instantly. Someone recognised him immediately and yelled his name, getting the attention of all the people around. Chiny had a petrified look, while David didn’t react, evidence that he was used to being noticed in public. People started to whisper to each other, then within seconds, a crowd moved towards David asking him for pictures and autographs on anything — towel, tee shirt, bikini, palm, bare skin — anything they could find at the moment. They had to improvise.

Chiny excused herself, and she didn’t know if David had noticed, as he was busy signing autographs. She had been standing in the corner, careful so that she wouldn’t get into any of the photos, but her guess was that someone mischievous had already gotten a shot of her and David together, and was going to put it online. She didn’t think she wanted or could handle that sort of publicity.

As she waited by a corner, she decided to give Nneka a call. Nneka picked up within the first ring. She started off by insulting Chiny for hanging up on her earlier and not picking up when she called back, then they started their gossip. Chiny filled her in on everything that had been happening — from standing at the queue of the night club, talking about the car, meeting the poorly dressed man, the crowd that pushed her down, the security man who came to get her, finding David Butler online, her VIP time with him, drinking and dancing zouk, going back to his place, and then the goodbye kiss they had.

Nneka had listened attentively, surprised and, at the same time, excited about the adventure. Chiny then began talking of her present predicament and the fans that were gathered around David, when she heard a voice from her phone saying something in French. She didn’t understand what had been said but the only word she picked out was ‘minute.’ She didn’t have to be bilingual to know that she was running out of talk time. She let Nneka know that she had to go and told her that she would call her back once she was able to get more call credit. She hung up before Nneka could insult her or call her a frog.

Chiny looked at the time on her phone. It had been almost thirty minutes since the crowd surrounded David. She stared at him, and he was still signing autographs and taking pictures, seemingly enjoying the moment, forgetting that he had come with someone. He was a star all right, but he could have taken just a few pictures and signed only a few autographs, then left the beach with her to avoid the crowd, she thought.

She looked at her phone again, then started composing a text message:
“Hey, I’ve gone back to the hotel. See you later, maybe.”

She read through the text message when she was done composing it, and it didn’t need any editing, so she sent it to him before walking away.

*****

Did you enjoy it? Please share it with people you know might enjoy it, and check my website on how to get your own copy.

I hope to see you at my Book Release this Sunday!!!

Literary Yours,
CMO

1 comment:

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