Tough Alliance is coming at the end of the month, and we get to follow Zoe and Maddox on an exciting, emotional journey to a happy ever after. Working on the edits got me thinking about the first time we met Zoe on the page in Xandra’s story, Killer of Kings. She also showed up in Rough Diamond.
So today, let’s go back and meet Zoe for the first time again. In this scene, Xandra meets Zoe at their family restaurant named after her. The eatery is significant in Zoe’s life and also shows up in Tough Alliance. The graphic is a representation of how I imagined the location.
Note: While Lokogi is a fictional location, it is loosely based on Lokoja in Kogi State, Nigeria which is a real place. See what I did there. LOL.
Enjoy the teaser.
Zoe’s was an African fusion restaurant in a neighbourhood of designer boutiques and tea shops. It had flower boxes of orange tulips, dark wooden tables and cushioned seats set up outside on the terrace overlooking the river.
Two Himba crew members, Vanni and Bruno, sat at a table, smoking cigarettes and playing a draughts board game. They acknowledged Xandra in greetings and chatted briefly.
Inside, Zoe met her with a warm, tight hug that lingered longer than it should. Zoe was the ‘handler’ or ‘intermediary’ for want of a better word. She negotiated the contracts with the clients and loaded them onto the server.
“How are you doing, Xan? We don’t see you around anymore unless Papa summons you.” Smiling coquettishly, she batted her thick, black lashes.
Shrugging, Xandra extracted herself. “You know how it is. How are you doing?”
“Waiting for you to sweep me off my feet.” She winked.
Xan chuckled at the joke. “Abeg. Your father will use me for cooking pepper soup if I ever looked at you that way.”
Zoe had never hidden her attraction to Xandra, and they’d once shared a brief kiss.
However, while Xan desired the pleasures of a willing adult, she didn’t want the complications or the bad blood associated with a failed relationship with her boss’s daughter.
“Oh, come off it.” Zoe waved one hand in dismissal as she arranged the centrepieces on the tables unnecessarily. “I can convince Papa that the two of us will make a formidable team.”
Zoe was the daughter of Don Himba and, at twenty-nine, one of his capos. When she’d left university with a law degree, her mother had wanted her to settle down and marry a nice young man. Instead, she’d gone to work for her father. Whoever married her would become the future Don. That was pretty much guaranteed. A few men had their eyes on her, although she remained single.
“And you think the men will accept a woman in charge of them?” Xan asked the obvious question.
If there was anyone in the Himba family that Xandra could trust, it would be Zoe. But the other woman’s first loyalty was to her father and the business.
“If it were just you...” Zoe shrugged. “But you and me? No one can touch us. Think about it.” She waved her hand towards the stairs and smiled. “Go on up. Papa is waiting.”
Xan returned the smile. “I’ll think about it. It’s good to see you again, Zoe.”
Find out more about Killer of Kings, Yadili series book 2
Find out more about Tough Alliance, Yadili series book 5