They weren’t really each other’s type. Or so it seemed….
Jo lay back against her recliner and sighed with contentment. Next to her was a long, cool glass of her favourite drink. The weather was mild, and through her sunglasses she gazed up at the sky which was a perfect blue and white tapestry.
She was dressed in a trendy and somewhat skimpy bikini as she sat close to the hotel’s Olympic-sized swimming pool. Jo had felt the need to experience some of the moderate sun on her bare skin for a change. Besides, the pool wasn’t so crowded that time of day, so there was no need to feel self-conscious.
Reaching for her cold, tall glass of fresh juice, she took a long sip before placing it down and sitting back again. This is the life, she thought, lifting her iPod and scrolling to the latest best-seller e-book she’d been reading since yesterday. To think it had been months since she’d read anything apart from business reports and newspapers. But since her vacation began a week ago, Jo had started to get back to enjoying the many things she’d deprived herself for so long. Things like having fun, living. Gosh, she’d missed those.
One more week of this, Jo mused, and she may not want to go back. And then her heart tripped for a moment, as she realised that if she didn’t do what her father’s will had stipulated and soon, then she might have nothing to go back to…
Yep – her “man-hunt” was the one thing that could cramp her otherwise perfect holiday. The truth was that her mother had been right, and she’d met plenty of young, eligible men since her arrival in the Gambian Greatstone hotel and towers. She’d gone on a few dates, done some serious socializing. The results had been far from encouraging. The men were always good-looking, charming, and intelligent. And yet, there was still always something missing. Jo knew she didn’t have the time or inclination to be picky, but still, a girl could hope, right? The man of her dreams could just walk up to her right at that moment and…
Jo went still at the sound of her name, shocked because no one, except her parents, ever called her that. She saw the great shadow that fell over her body, and looked up very slowly. Her eyes ran over the most gorgeous, toned and manly legs she’d ever seen grace a pair of shorts, then past the half-open white shirt which displayed a smooth, well-defined torso and pecs. And then, smack up into the handsome face of Jeta Freeman.
“You!” she growled, her initial female interest dwindling as she recognised the tall hunk of manliness standing above her. His lips slanted in a smile, which revealed a cute set of dimples in each chiselled cheek. That was about all that was “cute” about him, though, was her reluctant admission. The rest of him spelled grown man – gorgeous, take-a-bite-of-him grown. Blast it, she didn’t want to think of him that way! Why on earth hadn’t she noticed all this before?
Perhaps, she mused, because she never really used to “see” people; just mainly looked through them. Jo was beginning to realise what a self-absorbed individual she could be sometimes – and that was one more thing about herself she needed to change.
“So…enjoying your holiday?” he asked, his tone cordial.
Jo finally managed to regain her composure, fiddling a little nervously with her sunglasses as she said with cool courtesy, “Oh yes, thank you. What a..surprise to see you.”
“I was thinking the exact same thing. May I?” he said, indicating the lounger next to hers. She couldn’t very well refuse, and so nodded mutely. This was so weird, she thought, glancing his way and wondering why she was suddenly so hot and bothered. So he was serious eye candy – big deal. She’d meant a lot of handsome men lately, some far more than him. So why was her heart beginning to pound at his sudden nearness? He was seated facing her now, his elbows resting on his bare knees as he leaned forward slightly.
“I’m sorry if I startled you just now, when I walked up,” he was saying, his voice slightly humorous. “It’s just that, I noticed you from back there where I was sitting, and I decided to come over and say hello.”
“Uh…well,” Jo struggled for something to say, wishing her head didn’t feel stuffed with cotton wool just then. For heavens’ sake! she chided herself. He wasn’t the first half-dressed man she’d seen, she told herself. She really needed to behave and keep her suddenly rampaging female hormones in check…
“I guess you turning up was something of a shock,” she finally said, hands waving airily. “I mean, who would have thought? I know this is a popular retreat for many Nigerians, but still…”
Jeta found that he’d stopped really listening about half a minute ago, letting his gaze slide over her curvy, smooth as velvet honey-skinned body. Unblemished, her skin seemed to glow in the sun’s forgiving light. Her legs seemed endless, and were shapely and fine. She had on a pair of orange-coloured wedges on her feet. He let his eyes travel past her concave belly and up to where her bikini top barely held her firm looking and generous boobs in place. So this is what she was hiding under that suit, he thought with deep masculine appreciation at what his eyes beheld.
He had to snap back to attention when she suddenly swung her feet off the recliner and unto the ground so that they now sat face to face. He looked up and smiled charmingly, realising that she’d been aware of his scrutiny.
“I hope you’re enjoying the view,” she said a little sarcastically, propping her arms behind her which thrust out her bust a little more. She’d seen him checking her out. And damnit it had felt freaking hot! But she still thought he was a jerk. She hadn’t forgotten the way he’d acted at the seminar, not one bit. She tossed her loose shoulder-length curls a little haughtily as she held his gaze.
Jeta tipped his head with a wry curve to his lips, letting her see that her innuendo wasn’t lost on him. However, he chose to misunderstand her, as he looked about him with a nod. “Oh yeah, definitely. This is a beautiful place, very opulent yet…so close to nature. Lots of trees, birds, fresh air.” He turned to her again, his smile warm. “I think it’s really great that we happen to be staying at the same hotel here in the Gambia. Just this morning I was thinking about that Creekview project and how…”
“Now, now, Mr Freeman,” she said with a reproving smile, “What I had planned for my vacation was in the way of leisure, not business. That’s why you’re here, I assume? To enjoy yourself?”
Jeta concealed a grimace at her words. It was only the third day since he’d checked in, and he was already starting to cringe at the bill he was running up. Not to mention his constant worrying about the business back home and how to get it back on track before it was too late. Everything cost an arm and a leg here, and it was beginning to tell on his tight budget. Enjoy himself, she said? Hardly possible.
But he kept his smile pinned in place as he finally replied, “Yes, of course, you’re very correct. However, I see no harm in mixing a little business with pleasure. In any case, I would love to take you out to dinner tonight. Would you do me the honour of joining me? There’s a pretty awesome local restaurant and bar not a half hour’s drive from the hotel.”
Jo’s instinct was to blurt out a firm “No” – Like, seriously? Did he think she’d even consider going on a date with him?
But then the strangest thing happened. She looked into his deep, dark brown eyes with the nicely crinkling skin in the corners, his grin flashing an engaging white. Jo finally had to admit it to herself, no matter how much it irked: she was attracted to him. Deeply. It could be the muscles on display, or his careless, forward charm, but she was curious. What did this all mean? She figured it wouldn’t be amiss to spend an evening with him and find out.
She smiled sweetly at him, seeing his surprised look. “Hmm, that sounds fab, actually. So..seven fifteen pm, downstairs in the lobby. I’ll meet you there.” And with that, she straightened her glasses more firmly on the tip of her pert nose, rose fluidly to her feet, and walked away with the grace of a catwalk model.
Jeta stared after her, knowing that even as he admired her tiny waist and the rounded curves of her bottom in the skimpy bikini, he was feeling pissed off. She really was annoying, he decided. He couldn’t be sure if she was doing it deliberately, or that this was just her way. Stuck up and yet sexy – Jeta wasn’t sure he liked the mix. True, she’d agreed to go out with him later, but why did he suddenly feel like he’d been manoeuvred? There was no doubt about it; he’d have to take extra care with his temper and make sure that he’d spend an entire evening without giving in to the urge to take her by the throat and…
He shook off those murderous yet tempting images, and decided that he too, would leave the pool side, which was starting to heat up as the sun brightened into noon. He figured he’d get some rest up in his room, and then prepare for his date from hell…
Jeta fully expected her to be late. Wasn’t that fashionable? And wasn’t that a female prerogative? He sighed, standing there in the palatial hotel lobby at a few minutes to seven fifteen. He shoved his hands into the pocket of his trousers and wondered if he hadn’t better just sit down, take up a magazine and…
The elevator across from him slid open at that moment, and she emerged.
Jeta hadn’t expected to be caught unaware by Jo Sanda, not again. This was the third time in a row she was making him look at her like she’d just dropped from the sky. At the seminar, in her buttoned-up skirt suit, she’d been hot. Earlier that day, in her almost-there swimwear, she’d set his blood pumping. And tonight…damn, she was on fire.
And maybe that had a lot to do with the red, clinging dress she wore. It was cut perfectly to suit her hour-glass figure, the length reaching a little past her knees. She wore a pair of “killer’ red heels which made her feet look like they were made for having sex in. Ooh boy, Jeta thought, blinking. She had only just appeared and already he was thinking of the bad, bad things he wanted to do to her. Her face was as gorgeous as the rest of her, expertly made up, with her hair sleek and tied pack to display her lovely cheekbones with more prominence. Jeta had to remind himself to breathe, and not act like a complete idiot. Everyone else in the lobby seemed to be turning and staring at her, but she didn’t seem to notice, stepping out of the lift as she held on to her beaded black clutch.
She smiled once she noticed him standing there, and strode over with that hip-swaying walk of hers that made his mouth go dry. She came up to him, and he was at once enveloped in her perfume, a light, wafting scent that brought to mind dark, satin sheets covered in blood-red rose petals and a naked Jo spread all over them…
Seriously dude, behave, he warned himself. She’s a walking bombshell – get over it!
and yet he knew that calling upon his reserves of common sense weren’t going to do him much good where Ms Jo Sanda was concerned…
“Wow,” he heard himself say deeply at last, forgetting to be sensible. And then he was glad, because he was rewarded by the most genuine smile she’d ever given him.
“Hmm..that’s got to be the best response I’ve had so far,” she said, head tipped to one side as she regarded him admiringly. “I must say you don’t look bad yourself. Very…dashing.”
He bowed slightly in acknowledgement. “Thank you, you’re too kind,” he replied, and they both shared humorous chuckles. “So…shall we leave now? There’s a hotel taxi to take us around to where we want to go.”
“Perfect,” she said, nodding, and he instinctively took her arm as they walked in the direction of the hotel exit. Jeta was no longer feeling as pessimistic about the dinner date as he’d been all day. In fact, if anything he was looking forward to it with a passion…