Picture Perfect 13

Chapter 13

PP“She’s very special,” Eric said to the older woman. “Victoria, this is my aunt Rose. Auntie, this is Victoria. I’m trying to impress her. Please tell me you have a table.”

Victoria was surprised, but she managed to hide it, or she hoped she did. Clutching Eric’s hand since he wouldn’t let go, she met Aunt Rose’s curious gaze. The older woman studied her with critical appraisal.

Victoria tried not to feel like a specimen under a microscope. When Aunt Rose simply smiled and nodded, Eric grinned, while Victoria let out a soft sigh of relief.

“I always have a table for you, Eric,” Aunt Rose said leading the way into the restaurant. Instead of the main dining room, she led them to a staircase mounted in the back of the dining room.

Eric held her hand tight as they climbed up the wooden stairs to the top.

Aunt Rose opened a door and led them into a bright small dining room, with windows showing off the city.

“You’re magic,” Eric said giving Aunt Rose a one armed hug.

“Fish?” Aunt Rose asked as she let him go. Eric nodded and she laughed, patting his shoulder. “I’ll bring it in.”

Victoria watched Aunt Rose leave and turned to Eric when they were alone.

“You introduced me to your Aunt?”

“She’s my favorite,” Eric said leading her to the round table in the middle of the room. He pulled out a chair and urged. “Have a seat, Victoria. Aunt Rose makes the best fish.”

“I think you’re biased,” Victoria said sitting down. She placed her handbag on the seat beside her, while Eric chose a seat across her.

“How are you going to keep working with Ronald?”

Victoria frowned. “You don’t want to let that topic go.”

Eric leaned his elbows on the table.

“You should avoid an environment that hurts you.”

“I love my job,” Victoria stated. She loved the challenge it presented daily and meeting different people. “I worked hard to get the job, and to keep it as long as I have. I’ll endure Ronald. He won’t stop me from getting what I want.”

“You’re so stubborn,” Eric said.

No actually, she was naïve, Victoria thought.  She’d trusted a man with blind faith thinking he felt the same way she did. Her anger with Ronald would take time to fade.

Smiling at Eric, Victoria countered, “Aren’t you stubborn too?”

“Well…,” Eric studied her for a moment then asked, “Are we dating?”

“Huh?”

“You and me, are we dating?” Eric asked.

Victoria blinked.

Why did he need to define their relationship?

“We’re having meals together,” she said.

“I’ve noticed,” Eric said, a slight wrinkle appearing on his forehead. “Since that salsa night, we’ve gone to the barbecue your friend had, then that evening party at your neighbor’s house, now its lunch.”

“What’s the problem?”

“I want to know if we’re dating.”

“And if we are?” Victoria asked.

“It’s good to define our relationship, Victoria.” Eric grinned. “No misconceptions allowed…”

He broke off when the door opened and Aunt Rose came in carrying a tray with two plates of fish.

“I added extra lemon juice for you,” Aunt Rose told Victoria. “No smell, just good taste. Karibu, eat.”

Victoria thanked her and watched Eric pick up his fork, eager for his meal.

“Wewe, look at you,” Aunt Rose chastised. “He doesn’t even wait to say grace. Put your fork down, Eric.”

Victoria hid a laugh when Eric did as Aunt Rose asked.

“Victoria, close your eyes. I’ll say grace,” Aunt Rose clasped her hands and said a few words to the lord, thanking him for the food. When she was done, she patted Victoria’s right shoulder.

“Let me know how you like the fish. Next time, I’ll make your favorite instead of Eric’s, okay?”

Victoria smiled, her heartbeat skipping at the words ‘next time’.

“Thank you, Aunt.”

“Eric, be good,” Aunt Rose said. She left them with a wave closing the door behind her.

“This gossip is going to explode at home,” Eric said staring at the door. “Maybe we should have gone for lunch elsewhere.”

“In hindsight,” Victoria teased with a smile.

She picked up her fork and tried the fish. Eric was right. The taste was addictive, fresh and tangy. Aunt Rose knew her marinate.

“Good?” Eric asked.

“Very. I might come back alone.”

“You’re not allowed,” Eric said pointing his fork at her. “You have to come here with me.”

“You can’t stop me. It a public place.”“Aunt Rose will sit you down in a corner and grill you ‘til you cry,” Eric threatened. “You need my protection.”

Victoria laughed then and Eric lifted his camera and snapped yet another picture.

****

Lunch was fun.

Eric liked being around Victoria. She was comfortable, undemanding. She laughed at his jokes, teased him back andTomMboyaStreet though he could tell it startled her, she tolerated his picture taking.

After lunch, they walked along Tom Mboya Street, their pace slow, lazy.

Victoria paused, her attention on a pile of key holders laid out on the pavement by a hawker.

“Want one?” she asked, bending to sort through the key holders carved out of wood. She picked a giraffe and rubbed her finger on the smooth surface. “I like this one.”

Eric inspected the collection of wild animals and chose a leopard.

“I like this one,” he said with a smile.

Victoria got two hundred shillings from her skirt pocket and started to pay for them.

He stopped her.

“Wait,” Eric got a hundred shilling note from his pocket and handed it to the hawker.

Victoria frowned when she took her change from the man.

“I was going to pay for both of them,” she said as she pocketed her hundred shillings.

“I know,” Eric said, taking the giraffe from her. He handed her the tiger.

“Keep mine for me,” he said.

“You’re doing this again?” she asked, her gaze on the tiger. “I really wanted the giraffe.”

“If you want to check on your giraffe, you’ll have to find me, Victoria.”

Eric put the giraffe in his pocket and continued walking. He turned back to find Victoria watching him.

“Are you coming?” he asked.

She shook her head and hurried toward him. They walked back to the Savon Hotel in comfortable silence. When they reached the front doors, Eric took Victoria’s hand and stopped her from entering the hotel.

“I’m heading to Nyeri tonight.”

“Work?”

“Yes,” Eric said. “Want to go with me? We can check out the national park there, spend time exploring the highlands.”

Victoria sighed. “It sounds tempting.”

Eric nodded and touched her chin, tilting her face up.  Victoria met his gaze and he read guilt in her eyes. She wanted to come along.

“One of these days, I’m going to pull you out of here,” Eric said. “We’ll go on an adventure together.”

“Not today though,” she said. “I have a business conference to prepare for, one thousand name tags to replace—

Eric kissed her then, cutting off her short tirade. It was a short kiss, meant to refocus her attention on him. He wanted more the moment the kiss ended.

She touched her lips, taking a step back from him.

“I’ll see you when I get back, Victoria,” he said.

She nodded. When he turned to leave she grabbed his arm and he stopped wishing she’d changed her mind.

“What about your equipment?” she asked instead.

Eric took her hand and squeezed. “Linda has it; I’ll meet her at the studio. I’ll call before leave.”

Victoria’s hand dropped away.

“Yeah sure,” she said. “Thanks for lunch.”

“Anytime love,” he waved and hurried down the steps.

****

Thank you for reading ^_^….

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