15 August 2012


Chapter 16
In the slate patio of the villa, with the darkness of the jungle enclosing them in a glow of lantern light, Dana and Adam sit by the pool. Adam Tan had come to look in on Dana to see if she needed anything. He brought more champagne and Dana took out the Lalique crystal flutes she discovered the pantry. “Come, come,” said Adam. “You must not mope. You must preserve your looks and spirit – you are the queen of fashion, aren’t you? We can’t have you looking so droopy and sad – tell me how I can cheer you up. Some bubbly?”
Adam had said this in such a tone as to leave Dana in no doubt of what was on his mind. She immediately sensed that it would be wisest to get it over as soon and as quietly as possible.
“Listen to me, Dana,” continued Adam, “your reticence, and disappointment over Eli, actually adds to your perfection. Your little thing over that young man doesn’t affect how I feel about you, I certainly expect you to have had your romances. I’ve had my share. And your unwillingness now is understandable. Let me remind you that your beloved mother will certainly approve of my intentions, intentions too marked to be mistaken, even by Mrs Lee. Almost as soon we met six years ago, I had singled you out as the companion of my future life.
“My reasons for wanting to settle down are, first, that I think it right for any man in my success to set an example in society. I've always led by example. Secondly, I’m convinced you will add greatly to my happiness. I assure you there are many young women available to me. But no one that can compare to you. When we are married…”
Dana almost jumped off the canvas sofa at the word 'married', and felt it absolutely necessary to interrupt Adam before he went any further. The whole thing was coming off like a presentation, and had Adam Pang had a laser pointer, he would no doubt be using it.
"You’re rushing ahead of the plot, Adam!" Dana said. "You forget that I have made no indication as to my feelings. Accept my grateful thanks for the great compliment you are paying me. I’m truly honoured by your feelings and intentions, but things really are confused for me, and at the moment I…”
"I won’t be discouraged by what you say, Dana. I can make you very happy, and I'm convinced that I'm man for you,” answered Adam, stubbornly patient.
“Adam, I need time. I need the space to think of what I want. Please believe what I’m saying. I wish you to be very happy, and by telling you my true feelings..." And rising as she spoke, Dana would have bolted the patio, had not Adam quickly said: “Alright. Calm down. As long as it isn't a flat 'no'. When I speak to you next on this subject, I hope to receive a more positive response than you have given me tonight. I’m not unworthy of your acceptance: my circumstances are more than many men can offer you. My comfortable life, my connections, and my properties, are everything you can expect, and more.”
“Thank you once again for the honour, it's flattering and my ego certainly in needs a boost, Adam. But to accept your proposal now would be an insult to you. I'm truly confused. Please understand that I’m speaking from my heart.”
Adam immediately, and in silence, left the villa, not quite in a huff but not calmly either, and Dana felt more alone than ever in that empty vast space.
The champagne was untouched.