It was New Year’s Eve and Dushan and Chioma were at his friend’s party. It was after ten and the party was in full swing. His friend, Jeffrey and his long time girlfriend, Lynn lived in an industrial style loft three bedroom apartment in Camden. It was modern and beautifully decorated for the holidays. A massive table was set out and covered with all sorts of dishes, salads and desserts. Music and voices filled the room as people mingled and enjoyed the culinary delights.
All night he could hardly take his eyes off Chioma. She looked amazing in the black dress which hugged her body in all the right places. Earlier when he picked her up at her flat and as she backed him to open the closet to take out her coat, he couldn’t resist pulling her against him and lowering his head so that he could kiss her on the side of her neck. She leaned back against him and closed her eyes.
He turned her around. His hands moved from her shoulders to cup her face between them as he hungrily devoured her mouth. She put her arms around his waist and eagerly kissed him back.
The ringing of his cell jolted them and he broke off the kiss to see who was calling. It was the taxi driver. He had taken the tube over to her place and had ordered a taxi to take them to the party. He never drove on New Year’s Eve. “The taxi’s downstairs,” he told Chioma.
“Okay.” She turned away to open the closet door to remove the coat from the rack, her hands trembling slightly. Her lips and body tingled. She was tempted to just skip the party and take him to her room.
Breathing heavily, Dushan helped her on with her coat. He was so aroused, he had no idea how he was going to get through the night without wanting to touch or kiss her. How he longed to pick her up and take her to her room but he had to respect her wish to abstain. “Let’s go.”
He preceded her out of the flat and after she locked the door, they proceeded to the bank of elevators. They hurried to the waiting car, he opened and held the door for her to get in and then, they were off. At the back of the taxi, he reached for her hand. He laced his fingers through hers which felt small and soft. He leaned his head against the back of the seat with his head turned to stare out of the window.
Twenty-five minutes later, they arrived at the party. As they approached the loft, they could hear muffled sounds of music and voices. He rang the bell. Minutes later the door opened and his friend, Jeffrey stood there, grinning. “Hey, old chap,” he greeted him warmly. “It’s great to see you.” They shook hands and then, Jeffrey’s gaze shifted to Chioma.
Dushan introduced them. “This is my girlfriend, Chioma. Chioma, this is my friend and fellow Oxford graduate, Jeffrey.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Chioma,” Jeffrey said as they shook hands. “Come in, you two and join the rest of the party.”
They went inside. Jeffrey took Chioma’s coat. “What would you like to drink?” he asked them. “We have Lemon Lavender Mocktini, Pineapple Mint Mojito Mocktail, Sparkling Cranberry Kombucha Mocktail and French 75 Mocktail.”
Dushan turned to Chioma. “Which of those would you like to have?” he asked her.
“I’ll have the Sparkling Cranberry, thanks.”
“And I’ll have the French 75.”
“I’ll be right back with your drinks,” Jeffrey said and hurried off.
Dushan said to Chioma, “Our hostess is over there. Let me take you to meet her.” With his hand in the small of her back, he escorted her over to where Lynn was talking to a couple. Her face brightened when she saw him.
“Hello,” she greeted Dushan with a big smile and hug. “It’s so good to see you. We don’t see enough of you. I hope that will change in the New Year.”
Dushan smiled. “It will,” he promised. “Lynn, I’d like you to meet my girlfriend, Chioma.”
Lynn turned to Chioma. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Chioma.”
Chioma smiled. “It’s a pleasure to meet you too.”
Lynn introduced them to the couple. After the five of them chatted for a while, Lynn said to them, “Well, there’s lots of food. Help yourselves, mingle and dance. At eleven fifty, we will gather with our Chocolate Martini Mocktails to usher in 2022.”
Dushan and Chioma went over to the table to see what was there. There were Steak Frites Bites, Baked Feta Bites, Stuffed Mushrooms, Loaded Cheese Ball Bites, Spinach Puffs, Antipasto Bites (these they passed on), Cranberry Brie Bites, Pigs In A Blanket (they passed on these too), Chicken Satay, Fried Mashed Potato Balls, Pizza Stuffed Mushrooms, Spinach Artichoke Cups, Thai corn fritters with a sweet chilli dipping sauce, mini beef mince pies, Lamb biryani rolls, Salmon Fish cakes, Popcorn chicken with basil and Chicken Parm Egg Rolls. For dessert, there were cakes, tarts, cookies, macarons, cream puffs, cupcakes, chocolate fudge and a fruit salad. Dushan and Chioma helped themselves to some of the food and then, they found a place where they could sit and eat.
And now, they were standing by the window talking to other people. When they were alone, Dushan asked her, “Are you having a good time?”
She nodded. “Yes. Thanks for inviting me to come.”
“I wanted you to meet my friends.”
“They’re a very nice couple. How long have they been together?”
“About ten years, I think.”
“Do you think they’ll get married?”
“I don’t know. Maybe, they will eventually.”
“Did they know your wife?”
“Yes. And they also know why we’re divorced.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t want to spoil our evening talking about your divorce.”
“Would you like to dance?”
He took her by the hand and led her to the dance area. Their eyes met as they faced each other. Then, he took her in his arms and they began to move to Michael Jackson’s The Lady in My Life. It felt so good holding her. He wanted the song to last but when it ended it was time to get ready to ring in the New Year.
They all gathered together, holding their glasses as the countdown began. At the stroke of midnight, they raised their glasses in a toast and then, there were hugs and handshakes. Dushan put his glass down and after taking Chioma’s, he cupped her face between his hands. “Happy New Year,” he muttered, his eyes meeting hers.
“Happy New Year.”
He lowered his head and kissed her. She put her arms around his waist and kissed him back.
Jeffrey and Lynn watched them and smiled. “There’s no doubt in my mind that those two are in love,” Lynn said.
“Yes. It’s about time that he fell in love.”
“I liked Evelyn but she wasn’t the right woman for him.”
“And I’m happy that he ended his affair with the married woman.”
“Me too. Well, Honey, here’s to a wonderful year ahead for all of us lovebirds.” They made a toast and then they went and danced.
Dushan raised his head. “Let’s go and dance,” he suggested huskily.
Holding hands, Chioma accompanied him to the dance area and they danced to Anita Baker’s Good Love.