MORE ~Part Two~

7개월 전

"I heard a woman who rocks a ponytail is hard to please. Is that true?" my eyes were fixed on Tana's hair as I sat beside her uninvited. Her expression showed a little shock and her brows raised in curiosity as she chuckled. To think I was the same person sitting languidly across from them should shock anyone. "I guess you'll have to find out" she said with a smile as she briefly touched her ponytail with her slender fingers.

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That smile was all I needed, and I knew I had her. Then I started the cruise. I deliberately came strong but softly. I would aim and miss slightly enough before she figured out I was reaching. I was inside her head, plugging all the sockets and pushing the switches. Five minutes was all it took before Tope came back, but it was all the time I needed to make him irrelevant.

'The key to a woman's mind is compliments, more compliments and then you let every discussion be about her' a smart man once said. All that plus a reassuring smile; and these I have mastered. And so it was no wonder I was the one seated beside her in the bus.

One hour into our travel, we diverted from the express lane and joined a dirt road. On either side of the road were obeche trees, bamboo plants and thick shrubs of different variety. The vegetation was lush. The branches from the trees crisscrossed each other and projected outwards like a canopy. The cover filtered the sunlight, giving the place a certain surreal atmosphere. It was magical. Everyone had their gazes out the window. The sight was heavenly, pure, it was nature at its finest.

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The road was bumpy too and every bump was a delight, pushing Tana and I to brush against each other. Tana had considerably relaxed around me. She was a bit cagey earlier on but now she was even beginning to initiate conversations.

For the nine months we had worked together, this was the most we had acquainted. And I wished we had, prior.
I felt in place; the strength of a man against the tenderness of a woman. It was dreamy, ideal and perfect.
After some distance into the woods, we re-entered a tared road and the air suddenly became humid. The windows in the bus were immediately wound up and the air-conditioner engaged.

"I can't eat that to save my life, but maybe you can convince me to, some..." the abrupt deceleration of the bus made me halt in mid sentence. Tana, Ene(a female colleague) and I were ranting about some native soups before the sudden break. With mild apprehension, I instinctively raised my eyes to see some armed men in camouflage stationed by a barricade some feet away from our bus.

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A tall one, well built among the lot approached us. One hand clutched against his semi-automatic and the other gesturing. He exchanged greetings and talked with one of my colleagues in the front seat. At the same time two other armed ones scanned us through the window without a word...

The story continues

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