15 Jul

  "Girl, I am telling you, this is going to be the hottest guy I have ever sent you and trust me you will like him," Amelia says.   

"You always say that, but let me just wait. Talk later." I reply as I disconnect.

Amelia is my best friend, but um... Can I be honest for just a second?
If you’re still reading I will take that as a yes. Amelia is not really my best friend, but the fact that she knows all of my secrets, gives her that position, I mean I can’t afford losing her, now can I? She's my partner in crime. And this is not a metaphor because what we do is almost a crime. I mean it’s our bodies and stuff but yeah, I will call it what it is - we're sluts, classic bitches. I admit it. It's how we make a living. I don't dare deny it. But whoever sees me down the road would never guess because I look so elegant and smart from a distance. Sadly, when you inspect deeply, you find out what I really am. A prostitute. I am not proud of it but that's how my life has turned.

  I am sitting in Bourbon Café, a nice cozy place in the centre of the city, my hometown, Kigali. I have been all over many cities in East Africa, some are very powerful trade cities like Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam with rich guys dripping cash, but coming back home in Kigali feels awesome, the fresh air, the people here, and the cleanliness, it all has a way of refreshing me.              

 I am waiting for this “hot” guy Amelia has found for me. In the pictures she sent me, he doesn't look more than any other guy I have slept with. Amelia chooses them well. Those guys we sleep with, we sometimes wish they could be ours forever, but then you stumble on one with a great physique, deep voice, but with some loud flaws, like never taking care of the woman after sex, or even during sex, some of them would just ram into you as if you’re just an object.                   

Yes, they pay their money, but I think they should understand that we’re not fucking toys, we’re goddamn humans. Most of them are just looking for a release, and I know it.
                 I met Amelia, desperate and homeless, when I was thrown out of the family that had adopted me because I had failed to get good marks in class like all the other children. Amelia took care of me. She told me that she would teach me her profession. I didn't know what it was when she said it, but after seeing three different guys in her apartment for some weeks. I understood what she had been talking about. 

"Well sweetie, you have to understand this, I know you don't want to be a prostitute. It wouldn't make your late parents proud, but darling this is how we can make it through in this life. You didn't get a decent diploma, and it's been a year. Get over it. Let me teach you how you can help yourself, have fun and all."  She would lecture me late at nights when there was no guy or man in the house. Back when they came to find her in the ramshackle ghetto.     

"Listen, I don't ever sleep with married men, I am not a homewrecker, neither do I want you to be that. I just bring in good customers, single guys who are hot and rich. You just sleep with them and we make ends meet."                 She never forgot to add that. And in my brain, I would feel soothed that at least there wouldn’t be any children waiting for these men we slept with. I would hate to have a man in my house when there was a poor woman waiting for her husband, with a hot meal waiting on the dining table.  In my head too, wheels turned all the time as I wondered if this was the only way we could survive, if it was the right thing to do. But the rent, the food, the water bills, the electricity and all wouldn't pay for themselves; that sobered me, I would be reminded of the reality of our lives. I took time to think about it, and finally I decided.  "Amelia, I thank you for everything you have done for me, if not for you, I don't even know where I would be, so I think you are right. I want you to teach me how to do this." I said one night.

That was two years ago. Here I am sitting in a cozy café waiting for a customer. Another rich and horny guy looking for release.  Just as I blink and come back to reality from my trip down the memory lane, a guy enters. This is the one, I think.  I have many of his pictures, and I think he looks better in person. Sometimes, I think Amelia would be a great spy.  She sends a million pictures of the same person, profile, full body, captured from the left, right, bottom, and up. I had learned to be so scathing like her over the time too. His black t-shirt showcases his amazing abs with nice skin with an Arabic looking light chocolate colour, he is wearing a face mask that covers most of his face and a ball cap, and it's hard to see his face. But the rest of his features are fine, attractive and all. I fixate my eyes on him, just like I do with every customer. One of the important tips Amelia taught me is to never show a man that he's so interesting.                  

Because just like all of them, he will have a good time with me. I have some lovely assets – they all like my perky breasts and coy smiles. Time in bed, and we part ways as soon as he deposits the money on my account or hands it over to me.   He sits down and removes both his facemask and ball cap. Holy Moly, he looks more than hot. I mean I have seen a fair share of men, but this one looks cute and handsome both at the same time.    He has glassy dark eyes, so deep like you can drown in them. He has a few beard threads popping out and his arms are hairless which means he is not a hairy man at all.  Just my type.  I lick my lips slightly and slowly as I offer him a slow smile and hold out my hand. 

 "Emery," I say.                

 "Samson, Sam for short." He says.  Tingles run down my spine, this guy will be great in bed. So, it won't be a chore at all.             

"How are you?" He asks as he takes out his phone and unlocks it with his fingerprint.              

"I was good, I am better now that you're here." I say flirtatiously. Guys like eager girls.              

  "Um sure. That's good." He says. Still looking down at his phone; I purse my lips and sip my coffee.                  

He is actually ignoring me. That's a first. Considering my more than great cleavage, he should be staring at me, not his damn phone. I am offended a bit. Damn, this is not a place for emotions. When you’re a slut, you learn to do personal things, but never take it personally.  Interesting, right?   "Coffee?" I ask. "No, I am good. I was actually coming to take you; we're going somewhere." He says, catching me off guard.   Getaways, yay, I love them; who doesn’t? Me!    "Really?" I ask. In my experience, you sleep with a guy first before he takes you anywhere. If he had a good time with you in bed, he takes you on exotic vacations and awesome places.               

I am perplexed, but I don't say anything. He is still looking at his phone, he sends a quick text to someone on WhatsApp and finally lifts his gaze to mine.

 "Let's go, shall we?" He says.

 And I nod, gulping my coffee down. It cost me, I can't leave it. That's my rule., Everything that you bought for yourself, use it to the fullest. I guess that’s what these men do when they demand countless rounds of sex from us the whole night. I grab my purse and follow him out; we both don on our face masks before leaving the café. We head to his shiny black Avensis Toyota car. A car I personally like. The sun glares at me as we get out, it's the remnants though, those piercing sun rays that come right before the sunset. He doesn't open the door for me, and I don't complain even though I am somehow disappointed. He’s probably gonna be a difficult one to please. I conclude. I sit in the car; wordlessly he starts to drive. I take my phone from my purse and text Amelia. 

"Babes, what kind of a guy did you send me this time!?" I type and add on some eye-roll emojis at the end. "Relax, Emery, you will be fine. He is hot and rich. Just go to his house, give him a treat and then later on you come home; we will watch something and cuddle." She replies instantly. Typical Amelia. She always plays mother hen when I am in this position. She is just telling me that I have to go through this. This is our life. I quickly put my phone back into my purse. I don’t really like spending time on my phone. Still the guy is not saying anything. Normally, he should be sending me some cheesy lines and not make this entire affair awkward. But he keeps driving, and I doze off for some time until I wake up startled at him by his deep voice.

 "We're here," he says. "Sorry," I say. Then realize that he has gone out of the car. The sun is setting and it seems like the darkness might fall soon. I rub my eyes, and I see he has parked his car on the side, on the road near the petrol tanks, in front of the swamp around where the Kabuye Sugar industry is, in the outskirts of the city. I am surprised at his choice of destination. I had thought we were heading to his place, but I was obviously wrong but fortunately I am not wearing high heels. I am in boots, thick biker leather jacket of course with a sexy top and loose pants. I get out of the car and join him out. As soon as I reach his side, he pulls me in a big hug, he buries his face in my neck and inhales my scent. Stunned speechless, I wind my arms around him too and pat him awkwardly. To our luck, the road is clear and there's no one to see us hugging, at this time, when we should be putting some social distance. Maybe he is one of those anarchic people. Then he releases me and removes my facemask, as he removes his. 

He then asks me the last question I expect him to ask: "Do you remember me?" He asks and chuckles when my eyes widen in surprise. "Have we met before?" I query. 

Looking at him warily. "You're so funny," he chuckles and steps away from me. And he leans on the fender of his car. "So, you couldn't really tell from the pictures and the voice notes we have sent each other on WhatsApp and all other platforms where we chatted., I am shocked. 

I am Sam, well you know me as Andy, the guy who's been teaching you programming and web design online," he explains and holds out his hand for a handshake. I shake his hands as my face reddens from the embarrassment. I can't believe I didn't notice his voice which I have heard for almost a full year and six months now. We had met on twitter, and unlike some other guys who sometimes asked for pictures, he asked me what I do for a living. I had lied to him of course, I wouldn't say that I am a professional prostitute. I told him that I worked as a marketing officer in some phony company Amelia and I used to conceal ourselves. Andy had then asked me what I do in my free time, and I had told him I like to swim, which wasn't a lie. I happened to mention that I would like to learn some computer based skills, and from there we had made time for him to teach me some basic skills which I had mastered in a few weeks. Then I got obsessed with websites and blogs. Then somehow, I ended up starting with some programming languages. I was still in the basic stage for now. I never told anyone, not even Amelia, about these online courses. I mostly told her that I had gone on vacation with a client, I would go to a guesthouse and spend my time there learning. 

Surprisingly, I was getting better and better each day. And I wondered why my adoptive parents had given up on me just because I had a bad diploma. Well, that was the hurt child in me. It really didn’t even matter now. It had been about three years since they disowned me, I am over it. Well, not completely. But it always was touching to me that Andy preferred a heuristic approach of teaching, he would let me explore things on my own, and offer support when needed. He seriously was good at mentoring. I was surprised to find him here. I look at Andy – who's apparently also named Sam, in disbelief. "But, I thought you were slimmer and nerdy and…"

 I trail off and we both burst out in a thunderous laugh that carries all the way in the valley. Somehow, we catch ourselves as we gasp for air. "I know what you mean girl," Sam says. All the tension from earlier has kinda faded. "You didn't expect me to look like this? Well after work and teaching you, I usually hit the gym. I also do some personal training so that I stay in shape, which I now think is great judging from your expression," he says. "Seriously, I am absolutely embarrassed," I say, hitting my head playfully, "God, I am so dumb!" I feel a bit lighter, and I can be myself here. I can ditch my proclivity of trying to stay cute and sexy in the presence of a man. 

Sam understands me. I think he doesn’t judge me. But also, I feel like I have been exposed to him as the slut that I am. "Hey hey, you're not, okay? I am just too hot." He says and I laugh lightly as I tsk under my breath. He's so smart and humorous as well. Through the texts he doesn't seem playful, he is always on point, his voice business-like but in person, Oh God, he's just so hot, and I admit it. He is even hotter to know that he can be a geek and still have a body reminiscent of Greek gods. Or shall I say like ancient African warriors, big and fierce yet oozing beauty? I feel my ears get hot for such thoughts, this is my teacher. Not some guy I am going to bed. But it is also possible, and it’s not an unwelcome thought. I mean why else is he here? "So how did you find me!?" I ask. "Amelia!" He says. "What? Did she know you were my teacher? " I ask. I know I didn't even tell her. "Of course, she knew, I am her cousin, she just arranged for our rather funny meeting," he says, shaking his head, a smile tugging at his lips. "Oh God, she's such a brilliant woman!" He laughs. I remain silent in disbelief. "So, she is the one who sent you my Twitter handle, she told you to text me, and then you knew who I was at the moment!?" I wonder how I could not have known. Maybe I didn't know Amelia as I thought I did. Shit! This can’t be happening. "Yeah, I just told you she's one of the smartest ladies I know." Sam says. 

"Wow, I mean, I didn't even know, I thought I had kept this a secret!" I keep my rage in check. I mean I have been played by two people I currently trust the most. They could have told me what was going on. I feel dumber than I had earlier. "Well obviously your secrecy skills are so lacking!" He laughed again. This was just so unbelievable. I am a bit angry, but on the other hand, Amelia is such a friend for life. I don't even know what I could do without her. Sam and I spend some more time talking, laughing, and catching up on some personal stuff. I don't have anything to hide from him anymore, he knows what we do and he doesn't judge us, but I wonder why he isn't enraged that his cousin is a prostitute. As we drive to our apartment, I think about it and ask him. "But Sam, why is she still a prostitute when you guys are cousins? Why didn't you help her?" He sighs deeply and recounts the tale.

"I didn't have this whole money years ago, I am new money, I created a software for some international company, and I got a lot of money. Back when you met Amelia, she had gotten raped, and she got pregnant. The guy who raped her worked for her parents, and they didn't believe he could do it. So, they said she had gotten pregnant by another guy, and they threw her out. For a while she lived with me in a dilapidated ghetto, I worked as a help at a construction site; obviously I didn't earn a lot. When she was one month due, she miscarried and almost lost her life. I drained my savings to get her medication. When she recovered she met a rich guy. 

Amelia was so in love with this guy. He pampered her, bought her gifts and flowers, took her on romantic dates, and he swore to protect her with his life if needed. They had also moved in together but then one morning she woke up to find that the guy had left for America without telling her. She was so heartbroken, and she decided to drain the money the guy had left her in the maintenance of her beauty. She paid for my University, and she gave me everything, for I am just an orphan." I feel tears softly rolling down my cheeks. I have never known this. So, shit is real. We all have some dark sides. Looking at people in expensive cars, designer clothes, you’d never think they had come from those places. "When she found you on the road, she felt obliged to help you because she knew how it hurts to be thrown out by your own parents and guardians." Sam continues. "She reached out to me, to ask me to teach you all these things because she didn't want you to spend your life selling your body for a living, she wanted to give you a future, she wanted to love you as you have never been loved. She loves you a lot Emery." He finally takes my hand and squeezes.

 I can't wait to get home and thank Amelia for everything she has done for me, I owe her my life. I had never known that she could be this supportive and loving more than my own parents, relatives and guardians. I never knew that I could find a person with such a heart. We reach home, Sam kisses my cheek for goodnight and heads home. When I enter the house, speechlessly, Amelia and I hug for a long time, I pour everything I am feeling into the hug. I'll never be more grateful than I am now.

*** We both talk about everything that has happened. Everything has fallen in place, I can feel myself smile widely between tears. Before we go to sleep, Amelia tells me something. "I think I have to tell you something. I think I am in love with Sam. And um, the feeling is mutual. Well actually, we are distant cousins, so don't feel bad about it because we are definitely going to conquer all in the name of love." She says blushingly, something she rarely does, and I feel like a cold bucket of ice has been thrown on me. But she looks so giddy and happy and excited. Amelia is never excited about any man. I had thought something was simmering between me and Sam, but I might have gotten some mixed signals of sorts. I force a smile and beam along with Amelia. She deserves this. "Wow, I am so so happy for you Amelia, you deserve this. There's nothing more I would wish for you." I say, meaning the words. Yet, something was off in my head. "I wish he could propose. I just feel like my heart could burst with love. He just loves me so much." Wow, that was fast! I think. But also, they might have been dating for a while. Besides I know they're both older than me and after everything they have done for me, I think that my gratitude and admiration – and maybe some adoration – that I feel for both Amelia and Sam should trump any jealousy I am able to bear.
*** The next few weeks, Sam appears at our apartment frequently, their days are spent egregiously. Some guys call looking to get laid, but we tell them we're no longer in the business. Of course, they don’t believe us, once a slut always a slut, I bet they murmur under their breaths. I am working on an online store for women's beauty products. We agreed on naming it Emelia's, which captures both of our names. Sam is ever so supportive and he helps us with some connections to import stuff from Kenya, Tanzania, sometimes even China and Germany. We hired some more people for the store and for the delivery services we offer, and I have also applied for a course in software engineering at a private university. I don't even have time to meet guys anymore. We have moved into Sam's house in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Kigali, Gacuriro. 

Sam and Amelia got engaged, but I don't want to cost them anymore than I already have. I pour myself into work and start saving some money on my own. I feel like I have a future in front of me. I know there will be bumps, and that I have to be ready for all of it. Sam and Amelia have saved me and now it's my time to make them and myself proud. We might not have started on a good foot, but we sure as hell are righting what we did wrong. Who said all stories start at the beginning, some of them start at the end.

It's one late afternoon, on a Friday, we're already in December now and sales are mounting higher than what we expected. I think I'll get some rest. I head to Bourbon Café, a place I frequent every now and then. As I sit. Someone taps my arm. I look behind to see who it is.

 "Can I join you?" A deep baritone says. I peer at him behind my glasses as I mumble a "sure, help yourself." under my breath. The guy sits, he minds his business as I mind mine. After an hour, he gets up to leave. He reaches in the pocket of his shorts and gives me a card. "Excuse me, I am Peter of Peter and Paul's Limited. Here's my card. I would like to do business with you. " He clears his throat and says. “Actually, not just business.” I look at him with the same nonchalant look that I reserve for men who are strangers, until it dawns on me who I am talking to.

 Oh my God. I can't believe it just happened. Peter and Paul's Limited is the best importer around here, it's a company started by the famous identical twins who are also the wealthiest bachelors and effective business men. It’s usually not easy to come by their contacts, let alone personal information. I can't believe my luck! Best part, he wants more than business. “Oh really?” I say, keeping my voice cold despite my excitement, and the butterflies that are fluttering in my size 6 tummy. This might be the best thing to happen not only to me, but to Emelia's, our online store! “Would you like to discuss this over dinner? Say, 6:00pm?” Peter says, I see his eyes travelling up and down my body. Attraction registers in his eyes. I like that. 

I mean which straight lady wouldn’t? He’s a fine specimen himself. “That’s pretty fast.” I respond. “Actually, it is not, if I was fast, I would ask you straight on a date. And I am doing that now.” he says hurriedly, I think he’s nervous. “In fact, I have wanted to ask you for a long time until now, I mean, I first saw you on Sam’s engagement, and I…” he trails off his rant with a deep sigh, as I watch him wide eyed. What. The. Heck. I think. “Never mind, can I take you somewhere? Please? Now?” I am not given a chance to respond as he pulls me from my seat and heads to his car. I feel people’s eyes on our backs. Fuck people, I am headed somewhere better, with someone. I remember that I had to stay at Amelia’s today as I buckle my seat belt. “I will be home late, or not at all.” I text Amelia. Wishing for the latter, which part would you root for? I am in for the “not at all” part.

* The email will not be published on the website.