Face to face

Tony Issley was a corporate hardnut. His face radiated craggy disdain. It was a portraitist’s dream.

He thought the sittings a waste of time. But Sonja laughed off his gruffness. She won him over. Completely.

He’d never met anyone like her. Soon he was calling from the office. ‘Sonn, it’s Tone. Gotta blow out this morning’s board meeting. You up for some painting?’

That was fine by her. There was a portrait prize closing soon and she hoped he’d let her enter the picture.

But something was troubling her. The face she wanted had softened. The tyrant’s face had become…oh god, it couldn’t be. There was no mistaking. Tony Issley was smitten. That’s what the mushy grin was. The clenched jaw turned slack, the moistened eyes and faraway look.

He called her up one night, tippsy and maudlin.

‘Not tonight,’ she said. ‘Let’s put in a full day tomorrow.’

He was on her doorstep at nine.

As he sat on the usual seat she said, ‘We’re spending a lot of time together…’

He straightened.

‘…so in case it matters, I’m not into guys. Clear the air. You know.’

He stared at her. Hard, as if what she said was incomprehensible. ‘I’m not guys. I’m Tony Bloody Issley.’

And suddenly the hard features she needed for her portrait were back.

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