“You like it,” Steve asked.
“It is beautiful. I love it,” Susan said. She looked at the silver locket in her hand and run her finger over the beautifully intricate design of a rose. Steve had great taste in everything, jewellery, clothes, cologne, and women.
“Good. I know Mary will love it. I think she might be the one.” Steve hugged Susan and took the locket from her. “I am finally ready to settle down. I think Mary would make a good wife. I will pursue her seriously”
Susan sighed as Steve went to get them more drinks from the counter.
“Men are so daft,’ she thought. Then she forgot where she was and she said out loud, “I wish he would think about me that way.” Then she shook her head and took a sip of her drink.
“Well girl, you had your chance, and you blew it. Steve is never going to see you as more than just a buddy”
She looked at the cake box which was on the table. She had baked one of her special raspberry cakes that also had wine in it. “Mary is going to love it,” she thought. Steve had ordered it specifically for her.
Susan could feel a headache coming on. Great – a headache to go with the heartache she was already feeling. She massaged her temples. “I can’t do this,” she thought. “I will give my excuses when Mary comes.”
An hour later Mary entered the restaurant to find that she had been set up. She thought she was having dinner with Steve, but Steve had planned a surprise birthday party with a few friends who had arrived half an hour earlier. Because she didn’t want to disappoint Steve, Susan stayed around for another hour but eventually she couldn’t take it anymore. She excused herself and went home.
Susan swallowed some painkillers, took a shower, and got into bed. As she lay there under the cold sheets she reflected on where she had gone wrong.
4 years ago, Susan had come back from Italy where she had gone to culinary school and where she had worked in one of the top Michelin star restaurants. She was excited to be back in Kenya after 6 years away. She started off by working at one of the five-star restaurants. Life was good and it was exciting to be back. Susan was working hard and saving up. She had some savings, and she was planning to add the money she earned this year to her nest egg and after one year she planned to start her own restaurant. Working for somebody else was not ideal but since she had been out of the country, she needed experience in the Kenyan hospitality industry so that she could understand the market and what Kenyans were looking for.
During her day off, which was only one day a week she would go basketball with her friends. It was something she loved. It allowed her to exercise and meet new people.
At basketball is where she met Steve. He was tall, about 6 foot 5, muscular, and good looking. He had beautiful chocolate skin.
The first time they met they were in opposing teams and they challenged each other. They met a couple of times after that and then started hanging out after the games.
Steve was interested in Susan She was also tall for a girl, standing at 5 foot 9. She had a chocolate complexion, full lips that always had red lipstick, long hair that was dyed colour red and she was curvy in all the right places.
Steve tried chatting her up. She wasn’t interested. Well, she was interested, Steve was a hottie. But she had no time for flirtations or relationships. Susan was extremely focused on starting her business and looking for the money to set up the business. She had been buying equipment for her kitchen and scouting around for staff.
Steve asked her out a couple of times. She said no, she didn’t have time for romance or dates. Her focus was on her restaurant and opening it. That’s what occupied her mind day and night. She told him as much – that she was focused on building the business and that at the moment there was nothing else she could focus on. Steve respected that and they still hang out they had the same friends although Susan stopped going to play basketball at some point because she was busy on her day off.
On one of the nights when Susan was out with her friends Steve was there. Susan had a bit too much to drink and Steve offered to drive her home. She accepted the offer. Was it the alcohol or it was just Susan feeling a bit daring because when Steve took her to her door, she decided to be mischievous and kiss him! Although it caught Steve by surprise, he kissed her back. It was a passionate kiss. A kiss blew her away. Steve sure knew how to use those lips. She asked him if he would come in for coffee. Since Steve was a gentleman and didn’t want to take advantage he left. He said they would talk in the morning.
The next day Susan woke up and remembered the events of the last night, she was so embarrassed. She decided to behave like the kiss was nothing. When Steve called her in the morning, Susan told him the kiss had been a mistake and that they should just forget it had happened.
Steve was hurt that she would just brush off the kiss like that and his feelings for her as well. He decided to give up on trying to pursue Susan and he asked another girl out. Susan told herself that it wouldn’t have worked anyway.
But from that time, she would keep thinking about Steve. She would get so nervous if she was going to meet him and her heart would beat fast. Her palms would become sweaty. Steve had gotten the message she had been sending before, that he was friend-zoned. He never asked her out again. Before they would chat all the time but now, he stopped talking to her on WhatsApp and stopped commenting on her social media pages.
Susan eventually started her restaurant, and she threw herself into making her restaurant a success. She worked long hours and at the end of the day she was tired. Too tired to think much about Steve and how she was still crushing on him and how she missed his calls and texts to find out how she was or tell her to check out something he thought she would be interested in.
Eventually after a year or so they started talking again. But it was never the same. The teasing Steve was gone, he now treated her like a buddy. They started being close again and her crush moved towards love.
It was 3 years after that kiss that had changed her view of Steve. As Susan lay in her bed alone, while Steve partied the night away with his girlfriend, she thought with regret that it should have been her. She should have been the one held close in Steve’s muscular arms, breathing in his sexy cologne. She should have been the one Steve kissed and who he took home at night to his bed, to make sweet love all night long.
Tears run down her face as she lay there in the dark in her sexy red lingerie. Outside the dogs were barking. She held her pillow close and slept, her body hot, thinking about Steve.
At 10 am Susan was rubbing the back of her neck. Her braids which were tied with a rubber band lightly scratching her hand as she tried to massage the kinks out of her neck. She thought “great. Another thing I have forgotten to take care of. My hair.” She had been so busy working that she didn’t even have time to go to the hairdresser.
Susan sipped her strong black coffee as she looked at her favourite painting. It was an oil painting of a ship out in the sea. It helped calm her on most days but not today. Not after her meeting with her part-time accountant. He had explained the situation to her. She was bleeding money. The restaurant wasn’t making enough money to cover the expenses it was incurring.
When she had chosen the location of the restaurant 2 years ago it had been in the perfect place. On one side of the restaurant was a movie theatre and on the other side had clothing boutiques and a baby shop. Business had been good. The movie theatre had closed a year ago citing low sales due partly to the habit of Kenyans of buying pirated movies and also because many movie theatres had converted to 3D movie theatres. The other boutiques had also moved soon after to another prime location. Susan had paid her rent for the year in advance, so she had to stay there to recoup her investment.
“Why does everything have to spin out of control just now?” she wondered.
Last week her lover Anthony had proposed. They were having dinner at his house and just before dessert he had proposed. The ring was a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring that had belonged to his family for generations. The proposal had come as a shock. Ok well, she should have read the signs, but she had been so busy with the restaurant she had ignored the signs.
Tony was dreamy with the kind of bad boy looks Italians were known for. He was 6 feet, 3 inches. He had olive skin and a smile that made girls weak in the knees. His jet-black hair was slicked back with gel and his ever-present black biker jacket made him look dangerous, gorgeous, and yummy at the same time.
Tony had been hinting they should move in together. Susan had resisted the idea. She liked her space and she also had a secret. That she loved Steve. Tony was a great lover, very considerate and fun to be with. He made her laugh, but she didn’t love him. She couldn’t be herself, the real Susan. She was in a relationship with her body but not her mind.
Susan told Tony she needed to think about it. Tony lived in Italy for most of the year and came back to Kenya to check on his investments. He also came back quite frequently to see Susan who he said, “was the love of his life.” Getting married would mean that she would have to move to Italy. Not that she didn’t love Italy. She loved it there. It just meant she would have to leave behind her restaurant, her family and Steve.
Susan had met Tony when she was studying in Italy. They had dated when she was Italy, but she hadn’t thought of it as being a long-term relationship. After all, she was moving back to Kenya when she finished her studies. Tony had come to visit her, and he decided to invest some money in a leather factory that would export leather to Italy to make items. She started dating Tony because it was convenient, and a girl got needs. It’s not like Steve paid her any attention and she was kind of lonely. All the people she knew in Kenya had sort of moved on during the 6 years she had studied and worked in Italy.
Susan really did try to stop thinking about Steve. But it was hard when he persistently brought girls over to her restaurant to eat there. He thought he was giving her business but what he was doing was constantly putting a sword through her heart.
The door to her office opened and Andrew her manager came in. “Steve is here. He is asking for the chef.” Andrew smiled and then said “This girl he has come with a couple of times. Things must be getting serious. Steve has good taste. I wonder where he gets those beautiful women that he is always dating.”
Susan said “at basketball. They are always drooling over Steve!”
Andrew said, “I think I should take up basketball. Hey, boss can I be leaving early on Tuesday to play basketball. I need a cute girlfriend!”
“Of course, you can. I shall deduct the time from your salary, and you will have to explain it to your wife!” Susan replied.
“Ai boss usikuwe hivyo. You know I have a soft spot for the ladies. I just like to look.” Andrew said.
“Yeah, right look. That’s what they call it nowadays.” Susan retorted.
Andrew left the office.
Susan put on some of her signature red lipstick and put some lotion on her hands. She looked at herself in the mirror. She looked tired. She wondered where that beautiful, confident woman she used to be had disappeared to. She thought “I need a vacation, but I can’t afford one right now. Now I have to go to deal with watching Steve with Mary and pretend that I am happy for them.”
“I love my life,” Susan said out loud sarcastically.
Susan practised her fake smile in the mirror. Then she went out to meet Steve and his “marriage material” girlfriends.
Susan has three problems. A failing restaurant, a proposal she does not want to accept and a love for somebody who has moved on from his crush for her. Will she be able to sort all these issues out and be happy or will she have to move back to Italy. Find out in the next and final instalment – Sweet Cakes Will Not Get You Love Or Keep You Warm At Night (Part 2)
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