6 – Living, living…really, I’m living
Koya reached for her cell phone. She glanced at the caller ID and sat up in her seat.
“Musa,” she answered. Our client is not happy. He wants to promote vacations; you’re making that difficult, why?”
“I’m not, Miss Koya,” Musa said. “We’re reworking the pictures as we speak. I did everything as you asked, and then your client changed everything last minute. We’re doing the best we can.”
“Excuses kill business, Musa,” Koya said. “I need those prints. I’ll pick them up myself.”
“They’ll be ready,” Musa said.
Koya ended the call after more assurances from Musa. She groaned when she saw the time on her phone. It was time for lunch. She needed to set out a bit earlier today. Jam on Nairobi streets could lead to insanity, especially during lunch hour. She was driving to the Chinese place on Valley Road. Kim had a construction project close by, so she was compromising today.
Oh well, she’d go see Musa after lunch.
Thirty minutes later, Koya sat at a table across Bernard ‘Kim’ Kimani at the China Plate, messing with her chicken fried rice. The restaurant was busy, though the atmosphere made it almost seem like she and Kim were alone. Taking her glass of water, she took a sip and her gaze collided with Kim’s dark one.
Kim had grown up. He was fit enough to play in the national rugby team. His eyes were a man’s eyes now: so keen, he seemed to see straight into her inner thoughts. Kim ran his father’s construction company now; he’d grown into a man to contend with in business. She was proud of his accomplishments. All their school friends had opted to go for mainstream jobs, but Ashi, Kim and herself, they’d chosen to start businesses. Ashi owned two bookstores. Kim ran his father’s construction company, while she’d started the advertising agency.
Starting was hard, it always was, but she was glad she’d gotten off the ground.
“What’s on your mind?” Kim asked.
“Work,” Koya said, sitting back. “It’s been a busy morning.”
“Are you giving Musa a hard time again?”
“You bet,” she said, flashing a smile. “Why? Do I have wrinkles? Musa is driving me crazy.”
Kim laughed. “No wrinkles, you look lovely as always. Good enough to eat.”
“You flatter me.” His words made her happy. She took a bite of her food. “What’s so urgent we had to meet today? Is Ashi driving you crazy with wedding plans?”
Kim seemed to sober up as he picked up the napkin on his lap and wiped his mouth.
“Is everything an appointment with you?”
“I’m a business woman. I don’t have time to waste,” Koya said, reaching for the bottle of soy sauce. She poured a healthy helping over her rice, turning it dark. Kim frowned when she took a blissful bite. “Talk fast. I need to go hassle Musa after this.”
“You can take a break, Koya,” Kim suggested. “You’re always working.”
“We won’t have much to talk about if you bring up my life.”
“Fine, be that way,” Kim said. “I guess I shouldn’t ask if you’re happy.”
“Let’s change the subject.”
“Jeez, Koya. I want the day to come when I can ask these things and not have you flinch and scowl.”
“Happiness is measured by an individual,” Koya said. “You refuse to listen when I tell you I’m happy. I’m happy. I’m so happy, I don’t know how else to explain it.”
“Denial is not a state of happiness. When was the last time you went out on a date? Are you still holding on to the past?”
“I’m going to get up and leave you to lunch alone, Kim.” Koya placed her fork on the table and stared at Kim. “Why are you doing this?”
Kim studied her for a moment, then lifted his hands in surrender.
“Okay, I’ll stop. Eat Koya,” he said.
She picked up her fork and took another bite, as she chewed, Kim smiled.
“I have to tell you something?” Kim said, placing his napkin on the table. “This isn’t easy. Someone has to tell you before you meet.”
Koya stopped eating and met Kim’s gaze.
“You’re driving me crazy. What do you have to say?”
“Charlie is back in town.”
Koya stared at Kim. Suddenly the restaurant sounded so loud, her ears wouldn’t stop ringing. She shook her head, her gaze on the busy waiters tending to customers who ate without pause; couldn’t they hear the deafening explosion?
“Koya,” Kim said in a gentle tone.
His voice drew her back from the edge. She grabbed her napkin and dumped it on top of her rice. Taking her handbag and cell phone, Koya pushed her chair back and got up.
“Come on, Koya,” Kim said.
She didn’t stop to see if he followed. Once outside, Koya headed to her car, holding on to control as it slid away fast. She tripped on a stone, her heels still too new and almost fell, managing to catch herself on her car’s bonnet. She gave in then, kicking the curb with the tip of her new grey heels. Damn it, she still needed to finish the payment on them, but…damn it, she kicked the curb again. A soft cough caught her attention and she looked up to find Kim standing a few feet away.
Koya pointed a finger at him. “Jokes are the last thing I need today, and you’re playing one that is too cruel.”
Kim crossed his arms against his chest.
“I’m not joking. Charlie is in town. Will you stop taking it out on the curb and listen to me.”
“Move closer, so I can take it out on you,” she said, shaking a fist at him. “I need to calm down. I can’t drive like this. I’m so pissed, I might kill someone.”
“I’m sorry. This was a bad idea. I should have told you this evening.”
“You shouldn’t have told me at all, Kim. I don’t—I don’t care about him anymore. You telling me means you think I care and I don’t.”
Abandoning the curb, Koya turned to her car and unlocked it with a flourish. She threw her handbag and cell phone to the passenger side.
“Then why are you so pissed off?” Kim asked when she entered the driver’s side and opened the window.
Giving him a mean look, she started the car and put it into gear. She drove out of the restaurant parking lot at high speed. What did Kim mean, why was she pissed off? Koya scoffed. Who told him she needed to know about Charlie coming back to Nairobi? She was angry with Kim for thinking it mattered. Charles Dhali was old news. She’d let him go.
She drove back to Westlands in a daze. When she got to her office, she found Linda eating a sandwich at her desk.
“Hold my calls,” Koya said, when Linda started to stand up.
“Yes, Miss Koya.”
Koya slammed the door to her office closed. She dropped her handbag on the coffee table and went to her desk. Anger boiled inside her, like lava, pushing to erupt at the slightest pressure. She sank into her chair and stared out the windows. Letting out a breath, she turned around to face her desk and opened the bottom drawer on her right.
Koya reached under a stack of new envelopes and pulled out a picture frame. Placing it on her desk, she stared at the picture of a smiling man, his brown eyes shining with amusement.
“You don’t matter anymore,” Koya said in a whisper. “Stay away from me.”
To be continued…thanks for reading ^_^
Special thanks to Dora for the amazing cover photo…^_^
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