The declaration – Excerpt from Love’s persuasion

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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