SHORT STORY: Flames of love fuelled by obsession and infidelity

Saturday August 27 2022

Sierra spun round in terror to see the same beggar who’d come over to her table. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGA | NMG


Read part 1 here

Sierra licked milky froth off her top lip then bit it, chewing it slightly before letting it go as she leaned forward to place her now lukewarm cup of coffee latte back onto a tiny table she shared with her lanky, muscular boyfriend, Riley, who sat slouched in his chair.

They were sat outside a chic café, whose tables spilled out onto the pavement of an equally swanky street. Sierra leaned back in her chair and tried to relax, but an altercation she’d just had with a beggar had rattled her.

“Relax babe, it was nothing,” said Riley, sitting up in his chair and reached for her hand across the table, as if reading her mind.

But Sierra snatched her hand back, in a reflex. Like the hairs that stood on their ends on the back of her neck, and the anxiety sitting like a stone in her chest. Saving the situation from being awkward, she pretended she’d been reaching for her phone.

“I forgot I had a call to make, excuse me for a moment,” she said, quickly getting to her feet.


It was all pretence but Sierra actually found herself dialling a number as she walked a few feet away from the café.

“Hello,” it was Daniel, her husband.

“Uh, hi!” Sierra tried to sound perky, but his tone caused the anxiety to prickle and burn her insides.

“How’s your sister?” his voice had its usual mean edge to it.

Sierra cringed. She wasn’t happy about lying to him, but she’d already tangled herself in the most intricate meshwork of tales she’d spun for so long, she couldn’t unravel it now if she’d wanted to. Daniel would never divorce her, or let her leave him. Besides, she thought, as she steadied her voice read to spew out the barrage of lies she had at the tip of her tongue, it was him who’d turned their marriage into a sham with his string of affairs. And now there was Ruby, his current secretary and his latest love interest.

“She’s fine, I just left her actually, going to do some shopping at…” her eyes searched the street for a shop as her mind went blank, “Sia’s Jewellers,” she continued quickly, “I’ll be home soon,” her palms were sweaty and her voice was breathless from her rapidly beating heart, as Daniel hang up before she’d finished speaking. Something was wrong.

“He knows!”

Sierra spun round in terror to see the same beggar who’d come over to her table earlier that morning. He was still shrouded in a hood pulled so low over his face that the shadow it cast made him unrecognisable. Guessing his height or weight was impossible, seeing as he was hunched over and covered in layers of rugged coats and scarves.

“Get out of here, he’s going to ki…” said Gilbert, the hooded man softly, but his words were cut off as Riley came out of nowhere and body slammed him to the ground. Gilbert, a private investigator had been hired by Daniel to follow Sierra, and he’d just sneakily taken a picture of her and Riley arm-in-arm at the café as he accosted her under the pretence of begging.

“This guy bothering you again?” Riley stared up at a horrified Sierra, but she was already spinning on her heels and taking off down the street to where her car was parked, “What the…Sierra!” he called after her, but she was already scrambling into her car.

The street had come to a standstill. Nothing exciting ever happens here, besides, it wasn’t fashionable for the high society here to look interested in other people’s affairs openly. One needed to be blasé. But this, the cloaked ruffian shouting as he was tackled by a handsome young man who was also yelling at a beautiful woman, who was seemingly fleeing to her car in red-soled high heels, her face in pure terror. It caught everyone’s attention.

There was hardly ever any traffic on this street, as sleek cars with blacked out windows dropped off and picked up men and women in large sunglasses for anonymity, leaving the street and sidewalks clear for the affluent crowd to promenade, shop and enjoy themselves freely.

Sierra’s hands shook as she tried to jam the key into the ignition, failing twice before her car roared to life. Daniel knew. Which meant she was living on borrowed time. Panic and adrenaline restricted her breathing so that she gasped unevenly as she jerked the gear stick into reverse and stepped on the accelerator. But as she swung onto the normally empty street, a nondescript car appeared as if by magic, going so fast it was a grey blur that sent up a gust of wind as it flew past, ramming Sierra’s car so hard it was flipped into the air; then disappearing into the distance, leaving behind only its reinforced mangled bumper minus a number plate.

It’s like the moment was frozen in time. It was deathly quiet for several moments except for the reverberation of the metal on metal bang from the impact. Then screams interspersed with shouts filled the air. Gilbert and Riley watched in horror, with the former taking his chance to escape, running down the street and diving into an alley, as Riley stared in shock at his girlfriend’s mangled car, now a fireball.