Hosting her younger daughter's friend's birthday party, Lungile meets the friend's father, Zach. She finds him attractive, and gets to dance with him, which is a delight, but also torment, as it reminds her again, how very lonely she is.
Zach took off his sunglasses to get a better look at the woman at the door. She is divine, he thought. She was tall, about five foot nine, and light in complexion. Her body epitomised womanhood. She had an hour glass figure and breasts that he ached to touch. The flame red dress that she was wearing flattered her inviting curves.
He felt his body tighten as if he was a teenager again. He realised that his jaw had dropped. He closed his mouth quickly and focused on the vision of beauty before him. She had opened the door when Lwazi had rung the doorbell. Her eyes were on Lwazi. Zach noticed that Lwazi had inherited her mother's body shape, but there was no further resemblance.
His eyes fell on Ethel who was looking at the beautiful woman, with love. Zach looked from her to the woman who had inspired love in his child. She was smiling. Her mouth made him think of intimacies that he had no right to think about engaging in with a total stranger. She had beautiful white teeth. One of them was a little crooked. He smiled, it made her even more adorable.
She had beautiful dimples. If she smiled at him, there was nothing he would deny her. She was wearing red sandals. Her long hair was combed neatly in its natural state. Lwazi had told him that her parents were divorced.
He wondered if the beauty before him had found a man to replace the father of her children. He had every intention of becoming Lwazi's new father. He never rushed into relationships, yet here he was within seconds of laying eyes on Lwazi's mother, planning to be her husband.
Lu's heart warmed with love when she opened the door. She smiled at her younger child.
"Hi! How are you?" she greeted, making to hug Lwazi. Lwazi evaded the embrace. Lu lowered her arms, studying her. She looked sad and solemn, as usual. Lu always thought that the sadness marred Lwazi's young, beautiful face. Her heart squeezed in pain.
"I'm fine. How are you? I heard that you were ill?" said Lwazi.
"I wasn't ill, your sister exaggerates."
"How are you, really?"
"I'm fine," said Lu. Lwazi studied her closely and nodded.
"You remember my friend, Ethel?" she said. Lu noticed Ethel standing beside Lwazi and smiled.
"Hi Ethel," she said, hugging her.
"Hi Mama," said Ethel, returning the embrace. Lu released her and looked both girls over.
"You look like princesses. Come in," she said. She stepped back, the girls entered the house. Lu noticed a man behind them.
"Oh, hello," she said. Her heart tripped over itself. She had never seen such a handsome man. She took a deep breath to calm herself.
"Hello," the man returned, offering her his hand. She shook it. His handshake was warm and firm.
"Mama, that's Ethel's Baba, Zulu. Baba, this is Mama, MaKhumalo," said Lwazi. Lu withdrew her hand from Zulu and invited him into her home.
She made to close the door.
"We're going out again," said Lwazi.
"You've just got here, aren't you staying for lunch?" asked Lu, as her heart sank with disappointment.
"We are, but..."
"I'm sorry, I should have told you."
"Told me what?" Lu asked as her heart thumped in fear. She would get Lwazi out of whatever trouble she was in.
"I invited some people over." Lu felt her chest muscles start to relax.
"How many?" she asked, then she noticed Zulu watching her. He was so handsome!
"A few," replied Lwazi.
"How can you not offer your friend's father a seat? Sit down, Zulu. How many people did you invite, Lwazi?"
"Have a seat, Baba. Can we borrow your car?" Lwazi asked Zulu.
"Here are the keys," said Zulu, handing them to her.
"We'll be back now," said Lwazi, leading Ethel out of the house.
"Lwazi, Lwazi..." called Lu, following the girls out of the house. They climbed into the car, and Lwazi drove off.
"It's alright," said Zulu. Lu turned to the house. The handsome man was standing at her open front door. She walked towards him.
"How can you lend her your car? What if she damages it?" she demanded. Her hand was pointing in the direction that the car had taken.
"She won't," said Zulu.
"I can't afford to pay for a damaged car!" Lu could feel herself start to sweat. Her budget would be ruined and...
"You won't have to," said Zulu.
"Come in, sit down."
"What if she..." Lu felt a hand on hers. Zulu drew her into the house and led her to a seat in her lounge.
"Sit down," he said. She sat down, then she stood to go to the kitchen. She got a glass and a drink, put them on a tray and took them to the lounge.
"Have a drink," she said to Zulu, then she returned to the kitchen. She phoned Lwazi.
"We're on our way back, Mama," Lwazi said.
"How many people do I cater for?"
"Nolwazi! I don't have that kind of food here!"
"Don't worry, it's all taken care of," Lwazi said, then she cut the call. Lu sighed in frustration.
"Hi," she heard. She looked up from her cellphone. Zulu was in the kitchen with her. He was broad-built and tall, at least six foot three, dark in complexion, with a beard above and below his mouth. His cheeks were clean-shaven. The beard was black, his hair was peppered with grey. He had a beautiful mouth with full, kissable lips. His brown eyes were on her. He smelled good.
Stop it, she told herself. She forced herself to look at the pots on the stove. They did not have enough food for her guests.
"Hi," she returned.
"Can I join you? I don't want to sit all alone in the lounge."
"Won't you join me for a drink?"
"No, thanks, I have so much work to do. I thought I was only hosting Ethel and Lwazi, and now I hear I'll be catering for half the township! I wish she would tell me these things!" Lu said, putting more meat on the stove. There was a silence as she cut tomatoes, onions and potatoes.
"Can I shell these peas for you?" she heard. She started and noticed Zulu.
"Yes, please, that would be great," she said.
"You must be proud of Lwazi."
"Right now, I want to strangle her. The people she's invited will starve."
"She's a very good influence on Ethel." Lu stopped what she was doing and looked at Zulu. He was focused on the peas.
"Did you just say Lwazi is a good influence?" she asked.
"If it hadn't been for her, Ethel would have dropped out of school."
"Lwazi's pulled her through some rough patches. You and your husband must be proud of her." Lu almost laughed at the reference to her husband and returned to work.
"I'm proud of her, but her father doesn't know she exists," she said.
"What do you mean?"
"If she or her sister died, he wouldn't go to their funerals."