The view from the top of McCarthy Hill, west of Accra, was spectacular, second only to the view from the hills surrounding his own home.
At the top, Atu had parked at the designated lookout, thankful it was deserted at this time of night.
He should’ve taken her straight home. Instead, he’d seized on the delicate rumbling of her stomach to make an unnecessary detour.
The spicy aroma of the chichinga, the thinly sliced roasted meat liberally sprinkled with a concoction of spicy herbs, blended with the sweeter scent of kelewele, ripe fried plantain coated in aromatic spices.
It was street food at its finest, enjoyed best at night, and one of the things he’d miss most if—when—he was forced to take the action he suspected was inevitable.
He pushed the thoughts from his mind, instead watching Amelie as she speared the soft, spicy plantain with a tiny plastic fork.
They’d stopped to buy the kelewele and meat from a street vendor. Then he’d driven here.
Atu didn’t know why he’d brought her to his second-favourite view in the world. Didn’t know why he was here with her in the first place. Why he wished he could show her that secret lookout on Quayson Hills that was his favourite view. The place he withdrew to when the pressure of family and life got a little too much: when butting heads with his father felt like it would tear him apart from the inside, and yet surrendering to what his sire demanded from him felt like a fate worse than death.
“I haven’t had time to have any of this since I’ve been back. Thank you.”
His insides jerked with awareness, the sound of his name on her lips far too enticing to herald anything other than further chaos to him.
And in that moment, because he was starved of even a hint of the gentle nurturing he heard in her voice, he wanted to spill every worry, every fear, every aspiration he’d ever harboured. Wanted her to look at him with those soft brown eyes and soothe the chaos inside him. To make promises neither of them would be able to keep.
Then he wanted to take her in his arms like he had on the dance floor. But he didn’t want to stop at just dancing. He wanted to go further. Perhaps even taste the edges of the fever the Hayford women seemed to trigger.
And what was that if not complete and utter foolishness?
“Our families are at war. Does it not bother you to socialise so blatantly with us? Do you not care that you’re causing further friction?”
A trace of hurt darted across her face, but she shrugged it off in the next instant. “Of course I care. You don’t think I wish none of this had happened?”
He pressed his lips together, unwilling to divulge that he wished the same thing too. That perhaps it would’ve been one less burden to carry.
Because, what? It would’ve given him permission to lose himself in this woman the way every fibre of his being seemed to yearn to do.
“Where have you gone?” she murmured again, gentleness in her tone.
“Nowhere. There’s no point wishing for things out of our control. Come, I’ll take you home.”
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