Duel in the Savanna
By Wanjiru Waithaka
Copyright ©2015 All Rights Reserved
Tony groaned as he hit the ball into the trees again. He had missed the green with a wedge at the first. A shortish putt at the second didn’t hit the hole. He pull hooked a six iron at the fifth. It had all gone downhill from there.
On the seventh, he hit three balls in a row out of bounds. The third attempt was a three iron (just to find the fairway) and he pull hooked that so far out of bounds that he conceded the hole to Freddo, despite the fact that the latter was having his own trouble.
“You guys are making this too easy.” Isaiah laughed in glee. “Tony what’s wrong with you today?”
Tony adjusted his white cap and stared morosely at his friend. “Stop gloating and hit the damn ball.”
Isaiah laughed at the cross retort. “Why the temper? You’ve had bad games before.”
Tony grunted in response. His mind just wasn’t in the game and it showed. He kept thinking about Sophie and their meeting the previous night. She was the most elusive woman he had ever met. He had known her a month and still knew next to nothing about her. All his usual moves weren’t working. She was as skittish as a kitten. Whenever he tried to get close to her she ran. Yet he knew she was just as attracted to him as he was to her.
The flare of lust that sparked inside him the first time he spotted her on the lawn just outside the lobby had deepened to a slow burn of arousal. He had only seen her a handful of times since then but something about her drew him like a magnet. Perhaps it was the hint of wildness he sensed in her, such a contrast to the untouched innocence she seemed to radiate.
He was distracted while at work, something that rarely happened to him. She invaded his dreams at night and now his golf game was suffering.
“Hey relax. Don’t bite my head off. It’s your turn, but hey, no rush or anything.” Isaiah waved his hands and made a dramatic show of backing away from him. He stared at his friend with a worried frown. “What’s bugging you?”
“Nothing.” A snort of disbelief from Freddo greeted his reply.
“Your game has gone to hell and you’re cranky. Who is she?” Isaiah grilled his friend.
“Don’t know what you mean.”
Isaiah stared at Tony keenly. “It’s that intern isn’t it?” Tony ignored him and concentrated on taking his shot. They watched as it sailed over the green straight into a bunker. Tony bit back a curse and threw down his club in frustration. “Yep. Definitely a woman. Want to talk about it?” Isaiah asked.
“I came to play golf not waste time on idle chit chat.” Tony stomped off. His friends shared an amused look then set off after him.
“Boy he’s got it bad.” Freddo nodded in agreement. They played for a few minutes in silence. “You’ve known this girl for a month and you haven’t nailed her yet. What’s up?”
“What makes you think I haven’t?”
Isaiah laughed. “Tony come on, it’s us. You can’t hide it buddy. You want her bad.”
“Maybe he’s lost his touch,” Freddo finally spoke. “It usually takes less than a week.”
Isaiah’s eyes twinkled in mischief. “I should give it a shot. What do you think?”
“What makes you think you’d have better luck? I think she’d go for me.”
Tony narrowed his eyes and glared at them in silence.
“Oh yeah. Why?”
“Well for starters,” Freddo looked Isaiah up and down, “Most girls prefer the tall, rugged, muscular type.”
“Wanna bet?” Isaiah turned to him a challenge in his eyes.
“Shall we say five thousand?”
“You’re on.” The pair shook hands.
“Why don’t we make it more interesting?” Tony chipped in, pretending to be bored, his voice lazy, his stance easy, arms loose on his sides. His eyes betrayed his true emotions, however. They blazed with anger and just the barest hint of jealousy, as he pictured one of his friends with Sophie. “Ten thousand says I have her in a week. If not you go for it. Deal?”
“Deal.” They all shook on it.
“Now that we’ve settled that, how about I win this game?”
Freddo laughed. “With the way you’re playing? Good luck.”
Tony picked out a new club and prepared to take the shot as a golf cart raced towards them. He paused and waited until it reached them. A hotel security guard stepped out and saluted Tony. “Sorry to interrupt sir. We have a situation that needs your attention.”
“What is it?” Tony asked as he handed the club back to his caddy. The hotel management had strict instructions never to interrupt his game unless it was an emergency. The security guard glanced at his friends, clearly hesitant to divulge any information in front of them. “We’ll resume this later,” he told Isaiah and Freddo who nodded.
He got into the golf cart and the driver reversed and drove back to the hotel. Once inside he headed straight to his office and found Ayize and Patrick Lusebo, the head of security, waiting for him. He didn’t bother to change out of his golf clothes and after exchanging a handshake with each man, sat behind his desk with the two managers facing him.
“What’s the problem?” He listened quietly as Ayize explained the events of the night before. “Was the boathouse properly secured?” Tony asked when he finished.
“Yes. The thieves broke the padlock, probably using a crowbar,” Patrick answered.
“And no one heard or saw anything? Where were your men?” Tony’s voice hardened as he leaned forward and stared intently at the hotel’s head of security.
“The team on patrol heard the thieves escaping with the boats down the river and tried to raise the alarm but there was no response from the switchboard. They finally managed to get hold of the farm manager who called the police but it was too late. The thieves had vanished into the forest.” Tony stiffened at his response.
“I spoke to the intern who was on duty at the switchboard last night. She says she fell asleep and that’s why the radio went unanswered. I suspended her for a week without pay and alerted HR. They are going to recommend termination of her contract for gross misconduct,” said Ayize.
Tony raised his hands in surprise. “What?”
“They want to fire her…”
“No, no, I meant, what you said before – she said she fell asleep?” The look of incredulity on Tony’s face spoke volumes.
Tony leaned back in his chair and cursed inwardly. What a fiasco! He was angry and it wasn’t at Sophie. He ran a hand through his hair in agitation then drummed his fingers on the desk processing the information he had received. Of all the stupid, insane excuses to give, she had to pick the one guaranteed to get her fired.
After a long silence Tony leaned forward again. “Look, the most critical thing now is the sports derby. What do we do about it?”
“Well…” the deputy GM hesitated.
“Continue.” Tony waved a hand impatiently.
“We cancel it. I don’t think we have any choice.”
Tony’s lips thinned and his eyes narrowed in barely disguised anger, a look that caused the other man to cringe. “Out of the question.”
“But sir, we can’t replace the boats in two days. The canoe race is the signature event of the derby, we can’t possibly hold the event without it.”
Tony blew out a hard breath and tried to stay calm. “Find another solution because we’re not cancelling the derby.” His tone brooked no argument. “That will be all for now.” The meeting was over. He slammed a fist hard on the table as the door closed behind the two men and then began to pace the room.
Anger surged through him when he thought about Sophie and what she must be going through right now. He had to find a way out of this pickle. He reached for the phone on his desk intending to call the switchboard and talk to her, then remembered that she was suspended and had most likely already left the building.
If she had proved elusive before, he could just imagine how hard it would be to even get her to talk to him now. Talk about bad timing. But he wasn’t a man to give up easily. He had always relished a challenge and boy did this situation present one.
I’m not done with you yet Sophie.
Hot on the heels of that thought came another – he couldn’t let her get fired. Not just because it wasn’t her fault. His plan to seduce her required that she continue to work at the hotel. He had a week to find a solution to the problem. And he was determined to do it.