Koya’s Choice – 2

Two – A Mother’s Love

Charlie was leaving.

Koya shifted in her seat to face him.

“Uhm…”

“My mother is afraid I’ll end up like Tony,” Charlie explained. “She asked my father to take me with him.”

“Turn out like Tony?” Koya frowned. “You’re not Tony, Charlie.”

“She’s my mother. I can’t fight her on this. She’s had it rough with my brother’s death.”

“So…when are you leaving?”

Charlie shrugged.

“I made a deal with my mother. She’ll let me graduate, so we have the rest of the year together, Koya. It will be okay.”

“You’re leaving me,” Koya said. “How is that okay?”

“I’m not leaving yet,” Charlie said.

He took her right hand, holding her gaze.

“I don’t want to leave, Koya, but it was this or leave next week with my dad.”

A year, Koya thought, she only had Charlie for a year.

“I hate your mother,” she said.

“Don’t,” Charlie soothed, lifting his free hand, he caressed her right cheek with a smile. “She’s worried, you know that, right?”

Koya sighed because she understood Ashley Dhali’s fear.

“Koya, whether I’m here, or abroad, you matter to me. You’ll always be my girl no matter where I am.”

“I should record these lines,” Koya said on a laugh. “No one would believe you say them, bad boy.”

“Only for you, princess,” Charlie said.

He leaned over to kiss her, a soft kiss that left her heart fluttering in excitement. She couldn’t help wrapping her arms around him, drawing him into a tight hug.  A year didn’t seem enough.

“We should go,” she said against his shoulder.

“In a bit,” Charlie said holding her.

***

At the club, Koya allowed Charlie to open the door for her and waited while locked the car. He took her hand in his as they walked up to the club’s entrance. Loud music filled the warm evening as they entered Club Klutz. A group of girls swept past them dressed in slinky dresses. Koya ran a hand down her hip hugging tight jeans and clingy blue blouse. Her hair was in a slick ponytail, she’d visited the salon that morning.

Charlie glanced at her with a grin.

“You look sexy, Kalahari. Otherwise I’d let you know.”

She smiled, her cheeks flaming.

Charlie slipped his arm around her waist, navigating through the crowded club. A few patrons called out to Charlie, and as he waved back, she found her thoughts preoccupied with the news of Charlie leaving. He was taking it well. He smiled, and laughed as though their world wasn’t about to rip in two.
“Hey,” a familiar voice said above. “Koya, Charlie, up here.”

Koya looked up to see Ashi Mwende leaning on the railing upstairs. Koya waved at her, and allowed Charlie to lead the way upstairs. Ashi, short and cute, her hair short and blown out, rushed Koya, engulfing her in a tight hug. Ashi let her go and hugged Charlie too.
Behind Ashi, Bernard ‘Kim’ Kimani strolled in a more leisurely pace. Kim was an inch taller than Charlie was. He wore his hair long, his body built for hard labor: toned in hard muscle. Dressed in a blue t-shirt and a pair of black jeans and boots, Koya imagined Kim would have a lucrative career in hip-hop. He had the look for it.
There was a time Koya had thought Ashi and Kim would make a great couple, but they were too alike. Ashi said they made good friends.

“What took you so long?” Kim asked in greeting. He kissed Koya’s cheek and glanced at Charlie. “I thought you weren’t coming.”

“Charlie was giving me a confession,” Koya said. Her gaze slid to Charlie before she allowed Ashi to lead her to the lounge seats along the wall.

“You couldn’t wait,” Kim said to his best friend.

“She threatened to walk away from me,” Charlie said with a shrug. He took a seat across Koya and reached for a bottle of Heineken on the table. It looked like Ashi and Kim had made their usual orders. Charlie took a healthy swig straight from the bottle and winked at Koya. “I can’t have that.”

Ashi sat next to Koya. “I know Charlie leaving is sudden, but we have a year with him.”

“I can handle it,” Koya said, not wanting to be the one who took this news badly. Charlie seemed relaxed. Ashi and Kim were not stressing either. Why would she be the one bent out of shape? “He’ll be back anyway, right Charlie?”

“Right,” Charlie said, holding her gaze.

“Unless he goes there and falls for a Taiwanese girl,” Kim teased with a sparkle in his eyes. “Charlie might start talking Chinese, and then before you know it, he will love it there.”

“Stop being an ass,” Charlie said.

“Well, I hear they have the best seafood with the exception of snails,” Ashi said, ever the optimist.

“Snails are not seafood,” Kim pointed out.

“Did I say they were?” Ashi asked. “Don’t listen to him, Charlie. He’s jealous.”

“Guys, I’m not leaving yet,” Charlie said.

Koya listened to them bicker. She smiled when they made jokes, and laughed where appropriate, yet inside she worried. She hoped her heart would be stronger by the time Charlie left.  Charlie noticed her brooding and leaned over to hand her his drink. He winked at her when she took the bottle.

***

They stayed out all night. Charlie dropped Koya and Kim at Ashi’s house the next morning at Six a.m. He drove home feeling lighter, his anger soothed. He could breathe without pain.

Charlie was grateful Koya had taken his news so well. She’d remained so calm, not a teardrop in sight. He loved that about her. Koya was level headed.

The night watchman opened the gates and he drove up the driveway to the main house. Charlie parked the car behind the house, in case his mother had woken up already. He used the kitchen door to enter the house. Removing his shoes, he tiptoed down the corridor to the stairs that went up to the second floor.

“Where have you been?” Ashley Dhali asked as he took the first step.

He looked up to see his mother standing at the living room entrance.

Charlie sighed, wishing he could escape her. He held on to the balustrade as he turned to face her.

“Answer me, Charlie.”

“I’m not sure what you want me to say. You’ll scream at me no matter my excuse, so get it over with.”

“I don’t recognize you anymore,” Ashley said. “What has happened to you?”

“I’m still the same person,” Charlie said, exasperated. “You’re the one that’s changed, Mom. You keep seeing Tony when you look at me, but I’m Charlie, Mom. I’m not Tony.”

“I know who you are, Charlie,” Ashley said. “I’m going to make sure you don’t end up like your brother. I allowed Tony too much freedom, and look where it got him. He’s in a grave. Do you think I’m enjoying this?”

“I know how you feel about Tony’s death, but I’m different,” Charlie said. “I won’t do the same things he did.”

“Really?” Ashley pointed at her cell phone. “Look at the time. It’s almost seven o’clock in the morning. You left last night. What do I know you’ve been doing out there? Were you with those friends of yours?”

Charlie winced. His mother had developed a distinct dislike for Koya, Ashi and Kim.

“I’ve warned you everyday these past two weeks. You’ve refused to listen.”

“They are my friends, Mom. You’ve known them for years.”

“That girl is the cause of all this, you would never have disobeyed me before. Now you talk back at will. I forbid you to see her again.”

“Koya’s my girlfriend and I love her. You can’t forbid me from seeing her. Mom—

“You’re twenty years old, Charlie. You don’t know how you feel. Trust me, don’t see her again.”

“Try and stop me,” Charlie snarled in anger. What was wrong with his mother?

“I will destroy them all,” Ashley warned. “Are you sure you want to keep pushing?”

“Mom,” Charlie said in shock.

Ashley Dhali’s threats were not light. She held power in her elegant palm. Her anger had crashed many in business, social circles, even in political circles.

“Test me, Charlie,” Ashley said, her eyes alight with an emotion that frightened him.

Charlie wished his father hadn’t left for the coast so soon after Tony’s funeral.

“Koya has a sponsor for her university, right? A few calls and it can be withdrawn. What about Kim? He’s a nice boy. His father’s construction company will develop loan problems. It’s very easy to make that happen. By the time the problems are cleared…well, business will be over. And Ashi, is it? She’s also on scholarship, isn’t she?”

“You wouldn’t.”

“Try me,” Ashley warned.

****

Thank you for reading ^_^

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