Lawrence watched Lara with one raised eyebrow. For someone who claimed her car had been sabotaged, she looked too calm. A bit surprised, yes, but not as scared as he would expect the average Nigerian young woman to be.
“I was right.” she murmured to herself, crossing her arms and tapping the tip of her nose thoughtfully. She seemed to have forgotten there was a person standing beside her. “I did see someone near my car last night…”
Lawrence watched her bite her lower lip. Despite the seriousness of the situation, his male interest was stirred at the sight of the beautiful woman lost in thought. The teeth pressing down on the corner of her lip were brilliant white, and he could see a gap in front. The slim finger touching her statuesque nose was alluringly feminine and her large eyes, ringed with full natural lashes, blinked slowly as her mind worked. Lawrence realized she was quite stunning to look at, up close. But this sudden fascination was still mixed with unease. What if she was right about her car being sabotaged?
“Do you live alone?” he asked, tearing his eyes away from the luscious lower lip she was still nibbling at.
She looked at him and a subtle change happened to her face. It was an expression that was easy to identify. Mistrust of a stranger. He almost slapped himself on the forehead as he realized what he had just asked. She was a young lady and he was an unknown man, asking her if she lived alone. Of course the question would seem suspicious.
Still, he had meant it in good faith and a small twinge of annoyance travelled through him as she took a hesitant step away from him. Did he look like a woman-stalking psychopath to her?
“You don’t have to answer.” He said curtly. “I shouldn’t even have asked. But if you do live alone, and you’re sure this hole in your exhaust pipe is as a result of vandalism, you should report this to the police.”
Lara scoffed, and despite his annoyance, he smiled. Her reaction to his advice was understandable. The police would probably not take her concern seriously.
“I’ll let the security guard of the estate where I live, know.” She said, and then added in an apologetic tone. “Sorry if I reacted a bit strongly to your question. You know how things are. A girl must be careful.”
Before Lawrence could respond, the driver of a car that had driven up behind Lara’s Toyota tooted its horn. When they both turned, the man behind the wheel lifted both hands and shook his head in that silent universal question all frustrated drivers ask. What are you doing?
Lara looked at the fuel pump meter as she walked back to her car, then settled into the driver’s seat and brought out her wallet from her purse. She fished out a few naira notes, counted them carefully, and then leaned towards the passenger side window to pay. When she gave the money to Lawrence, their hands touched.
There was a brief spark of awareness as their skin made contact and she had to remind herself to breathe as their eyes held. She looked away and her gaze fell on the back of his hand. There was a red scratch standing out against his fair skin.
She winced, feeling guilty, and pulled her hand away, quickly turning the ignition key in her car.
“I’m sorry about that scratch.” She said, over the sound of her car engine roaring to life. “You deserved it sha.”
Lawrence smiled at her through the car window, handed her some change, and then shrugged in agreement “I won’t argue with that. How are the shoes, by the way?”
The car behind hers tooted impatiently again, and Lara swallowed a smile as she moved off without answering. So he had deliberately doused her feet with petrol the day before? She couldn’t even summon a little indignation. The entire incident just seemed funny now.
The good feeling lasted less than a minute, and then she remembered the hole in her exhaust pipe. What kind of vandalism was that? It was certainly weird and she couldn’t think of anyone she had offended badly enough for them to want to vandalize her car. The act itself seemed petty and rather tedious. Wouldn’t it have been easier for the person to just slash her tires or crack her windshield?
The vandal’s intention had been to cause a situation where she would quickly run out of fuel and need to stop and refill her car in the most convenient place. The hole had definitely caused her car to burn more fuel than usual.
And then she had been forced to stop again, at the filling station closest to her home. The realization made her frown. She didn’t like the feeling that she was being pulled around by the nose.
As she steered her car into the street leading to her house, her hands clenched around her steering wheel in worry.
Who was manipulating her movements? And why?
What was so important about that filling station?
To Be Continue By 3pm