The Declaration – excerpt from Love’s Persuasion out 15 December.

Ada is furious at Tony's behaviour. She wishes she never let herself imagine that he had feelings for her.
Ada is furious at Tony’s behaviour. She wishes she never let herself imagine that he had feelings for her.

Ada’s lips tightened as she held tightly on to the TV remote. She noticed that Liz’s attention seemed to be fixed on the window which looked out over the street.

“Ada, look outside.”

“What is it now?”

“Ada, come here,” Liz urged. “You won’t believe who has just parked across the road.”

She joined Liz at the window. They looked out and saw Tony Okoli getting out of his Jeep. He locked the doors and walked quickly across the road. Despite her annoyance Ada couldn’t help noticing how the blue African print shirt he wore emphasized the broadness of his shoulders and the muscles on his arms.

“The man fine o.” Liz exclaimed. “God don butter your bread.”

“What does this guy want now eh?” Ada pushed past her and went to the door. “I will tell him to leave me alone. I’m not in the mood for all his nonsense.”

Liz ran after her.

“Ada…don’t start shouting at the man. Remember he is still your Oga. You still want a job o.”

Ada marched down the passage and saw Tony standing in front of the house greeting her neighbours in passable Yoruba. Was there no end to this man’s abilities? She thought sarcastically.

“Good evening, Ada,” he said. He looked at her like a little boy who was expecting a telling off.

Gini? What do you want?”

“Ada, can we talk inside, please?”

“I don’t see what we have to talk about,” she said. “You made that clear the last time.”

“Things have changed a little since then. That’s why I want to talk to you.”

She folded her hands over her chest and glared at him. “What makes you think I really want to hear anything you have to say?”

“I will stand out here until you listen to me,” Tony said. He looked uncomfortable, but resolute.

“How you have the guts to stand there and…..”

A neighbour who was enjoying watching the whole exchange decided to add her advise.  “Ada. Listen to the man.”

“She does have a point,” said Tony, hopefully. Ignoring him, Ada turned to the woman.

“I hear you, Ma,” she said politely, but made no move to invite Tony in. “Say what you have to say here. I’m not going anywhere alone with you.”

Arabirin, take the man into your room and be hospitable – get him some minerals or something – instead of standing on the street,” added the old woman who sold fried yam in front of the house. “Do you want the world to hear your business?”

Ada felt a sharp nudge from behind and realised it was Liz, looking at her as if she had committed some crime. She could feel the eyes of the landlady and her other neighbours boring into her and realised that her landlady and flat mate would hound her for life if she didn’t listen to Tony.

She shrugged. “Ok, follow me.”

Liz smiled and announced rather loudly that she was going down the road to buy something – and that she would be some time.

Ada turned to go back into the house and Tony followed.

She was conscious of how small her room was as she as she opened the door. Now that he stood inside, everything looked smaller. Even the guest bathroom in his house was bigger than her room. She saw him wipe away the sweat from his brow.  She could have switched on the fan, but didn’t. She took perverse pleasure in watching him suffer.

“Did you tell your fiancée that you are here?” she asked acidly.“Look, let me tell you something –I have heard stories about rich playboys who are looking for ‘bush meat’ to pick their teeth with after they’ve had their main meal and if you think that I’m that desperate you can take your money and–”

“ADA!” He spoke firmly, interrupting her speech then he stepped forward and took her hands. “I’m sorry for what I did. I’m sorry for what I said, but I’m not sorry for feeling the way I do about you – and before you bring up Gloria again, it’s over. We are both in love with other people.”

In love? Ada stared at him, feeling the fight dissolving out of her. “I don’t understand.  I thought ….”

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Excerpt from Love’s Persuasion – OUT TODAY on www.ankarapress.com

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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