This is the unedited draft of Love came calling – the very last sequel to Love in Paradise.
Anwasia noticed him staring at her through the window. Uncomfortably, she shifted. First on one foot, then the other, as she became aware of his scrutiny. Boss lady was coming any time soon and if she found this stranger staring at her through her precious shop windows, she would throw a fit. Angry at the brazen look this man was giving her, she turned to give him a reproachful glance of her own. She mouthed the words “Rude. Rude to stare.” The man only smiled, a self –assured grin that maddened her only more. She saw him shrug and before she could take her next breath, she realized that he was coming into the shop…heading straight for her. She stiffened.
“Come over here.” Boss-lady screamed at her from somewhere in the midst of the stacked boxes that lay by the corner.
“Yes ma.” She replied, her reverie broken by the commanding tone of her Boss.
“Why do you never listen, Anwasia?” the fat lady bellowed at her employee, her jowls shaking with violence, which really was her normal look any given day.
Boss-lady hissed in derision. “I keep telling you not to stack these boxes here. But do you listen? No. You don’t listen. You must stand there, by the counter, dreaming away your life. Other girls your age are getting married, but for you, no. You are lost in your own world. You are a disgrace, I tell you. A huge disgrace.”
“Yes ma.” This was the order of the day: Boss lady telling her how she was nothing but a no-good.
“Carry them boxes over there, stupid girl.”
“And then come over here and manage shop. God knows you are worth nothing more than a penny. I swear to God, I wonder why I took you from your mother to come to the city to serve me. You have no looks to draw customers in. And you are too dumb to hold on to a conversation. Why did I have to curse myself with you?”
“Yes ma.” Anwasia was used to the daily rants. If Boss lady never ranted at her, then there had to be something sinisterly wrong.
“I am going for a drink.” The big woman announced.
“Excuse me. Let me help you with that.”
Both she and Boss-Lady looked up at the same time to view the young man who had walked in unnoticed. The same man had been staring at her through the window for the last thirty minutes or so. She gasped.
In her numb state, she could feel Boss-lady studying the stranger. Up close, he really was a handsome man. About five feet eight with a slightly heavy build. He almost looked like a street fighter with his physique, emanating a quietly fiery spirit. He still had the same amused grin on his face – the one she had seen plastered on his face when she realized he was walking into the shop. He could not have been more than thirty, for there was a youthful sparkle in those brown eyes of his’
Boss lady was all smiles now. She only smiled when she could smell money. And Anwasia knew she had a good nose for detecting currency.
“Mister. I can help you. What do you want to buy today?”
“Something special.” The man replied; a serious glint in his eyes, but Anwasia could detect the devilish gleam in his eyes.
“Everything here is special. ” Boss lady replied, rubbing her hands in glee. She could tell she would make a fantastic sale today.
“Not everything.” The man replied. He was suddenly all hauteur as he spoke and it was only then that Anwasia noticed that he had the arrogant look of the military officers that had oppressed the nation with frequent coup de tats, causing political instability and economic turmoil in the country.
“I want only the item on special sale. The one that is worth nothing more than a shilling.”
“Okay sir. What is it sir?” Boss-lady said, deep disappointment suddenly etching her face.
The next statement the man made left both women utterly stunned, leaving her numb, too frozen to move, as boss lady gasped in shock.
“This girl. Right here.” He replied without further ado.
If words could kill, Answasia was sure her boss was about to be slain by the audacious words of this man.
“She is not for sale.” Boss lady replied coldly.
“Everything is for sale.” The man rejoined. “So long as the price is right.”
“Well, she is not for sale. And that’s that.” Boss lady replied determinedly.
“I could have her right now if I wanted.”
“And why is that?” Boss lady sneered.
The man flashed a badge at Boss lady, and she suddenly looked pale.
“ Well…” She was saying now. “I don’t fear you. And I don’t fear the secret service officers.”
“Maybe you should.” The man responded quietly.
“The girl is mine. And you cannot take her from me.” With a mixed look of fear and disdain, Boss lady walked away, her huge body turned towards the counter.
“Anwasia.” She yelled. “Come over here and start working.”
Anwasia finally let out the air that she had held in for what seemed like eternity – ever since this troublemaker had walked into the store. “Yes ma.” She responded, her stiff body headed in the direction of her Boss.
One hand reached out for her, suddenly stopping her dead in her tracks. “Anwasia.” The man murmured. “That is a beautiful name. Were you raised here- in the city?”
None of your business, she inwardly fumed as she struggled to shrug herself free from his tenacious grasp. Unsuccessful, she gave him one of her chilling disapproving looks. No further words needed to be said. The man released her, but his eyes still had the same devilish gleam she had seen in it earlier.
“How much did she pay for you?” The man said to Anwasia, who in turn stared at him uncomprehendingly.
“I am not for sale.” Anwasia wanted to slap him so bad, it actually hurt thinking about it.
“Everyone and everything is for sale, Anwasia.”
“Not me.” She replied, but the slight break in her voice betrayed her.
“Your parents or your guardians …whoever is in charge of you sold you to her for something. Probably a chance to live in the big city. Make some money so you can send it to your family back in the village.”
Anwasia stiffened. This man was opening a can of worms. She did not need to think about this right now.
“Please leave.” Boss lady was suddenly yelling again, this time to the man. “Get out of my shop so the girl can do her work. You are holding her up as it is. And when you hold her up, you hold up my money.”
“How much did she pay for you?” The man asked again. “I’ll pay you more and treat you far better.”
Anwasia was sure she would truly slap him now. Her fingers clenched and unclenched at her sides with her agitation, but by some miracle, she managed to refrain.
He now smiled mockingly at Boss lady, then turned back to Anwasia – a most determined look surfacing on his sharp features.
“I’ll be back.” He hummed quietly, so quiet that even Boss lady did not hear, yet his voice sounded loud enough to drown every nerve fiber in Anwasia’s body. “And she had better have named a price. Or I’ll take you by force.”
Over my dead body, Anwasia replied without a word.
The man walked out of the store, his confidence quite infectious, while his menacing threat hung like a sword in the air, leaving a sudden chill inside the shop. Some moments later, Anwasia could not help smiling to herself as she reflected on the audacious stranger who had walked in the store and done the unimaginable: ruffle Boss-lady’s feathers like no one had ever done.
And hers too.