It all started with a kiss….

Tony arrived to pick her up at 8pm. She came out wearing a simple sleeveless knee-length dress made of brown African print material patterned with green leaves. A green belt and matching heels gave her some added height. Her braids were plaited high on her forehead which gave her eyes a slanted mysterious look and large gold hoop earrings drooped from her ears.

I like. Very much, he thought to himself. Maybe too much.

“Good evening, Ada,” he said as she got into the car. “You look nice. “That wasn’t what he wanted to say, though.

Ada, you look drop dead gorgeous. Actually quite, alluring.

His eyes lingered on her for a minute more. Was her waist really that tiny? He couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to see if he could put his hands around her to find out.

Then he looked up. She was looking at him curiously.

“How was your day?”

His face assumed its usual easy friendly tone. “Brilliant.” He put the key in the ignition and they were off.

When they arrived, the exhibition hall was packed with people; some standing alone, others in groups discussing the paintings. As it was a corporate affair, most of them were smartly dressed in suits and dresses and the rest were artist types – jeans, T-shirts and dreadlocks. Some stewards in white shirts and black trousers served soft drinks and canapés.

There were charcoal drawings, pencil drawings and oil paintings on display. Some were abstract and others brought to life everyday scenes; a busy market, a snapshot of Lagos during rush hour, two kids playing in a stream, some women dressed in white garments having a church service on a busy beach.

They strolled through the exhibition halls, discussing the merits of different works. They stopped for a while to listen to a lecturer who spoke in knowledgeable tones telling the visitors about the artists and their works.

“I would like to buy a piece for my sitting room. It looks so bare,” Tony said as they walked. “But I know nothing about African art, you see. I have some ideas, but I’m not sure, so I need someone with taste to guide me.”

“What about that one?” Ada asked nodding towards an oil painting of a bustling market scene.

“It’s nice,” Tony said, shrugging. “I can see it in my study.”

“I like the way the light is falling on the people’s faces.” She pointed at one of the people in the scene, a little girl selling oranges under the shade of a tree. Her face seemed bathed in joy as she sat eating one. “It’s got character,” Ada said, “But it’s also got a Hundred thousand naira price tag.”

That settled it for him. “I’ll get it.”

“It’s a good choice.” Ada murmured. Her mind was doing some quick calculations. She couldn’t help it. 100K was several months’ salary for her. It was the down payment on a nice car, or several months’ rent. All for one picture! Whoever said having money didn’t make life easier…

“Are you hungry? Tony asked after he had finished negotiating with the gallery owner and the picture had been wrapped up and handed over. “I know I am.”

“Yes…” she wasn’t sure how to respond.

“We can go for dinner at mine.”

She stared at him.

“Dinner…”

“Yes, dinner. Then you can have a look at my collection as well.”

“Collection?”

“Of diamonds and rare stones.”

“Are you making fun of me?”

“My books,” he said laughing. “They are more precious to me than gold or jewels. I have a whole study of them – wall to wall. I don’t mind lending you a few, if you like.”

She nodded and pushed aside the voice of experience and common sense.

Go to http://www.ankarapress.com to get your copy and find out what happens next

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