12 – The Past starts to take A Backseat
Koya let go of Kim’s arm and stalked forward, intent on punching Charlie. The bastard, how dare he—
“Hold it,” Kim said, tightening his arm around her waist. He restrained her against him.
She struggled for a minute but then stopped when she realized people were watching them.
“Can I let go now?” Kim asked.
Tears filled her eyes. Koya nodded and turned to face Kim so that her face was hidden from the curious crowd.
“I hate him for doing this to me. He is such an arrogant idiot. How dare he?”
Kim gripped her upper arms and gave her a little shake.
“You don’t to do this here,” Kim said. “Suck it up, breathe in and take control.”
Koya wiped tears from the corners of her eyes and took in a deep breath. Her stomach hurt. She wished she didn’t have to be here at this gala, but she couldn’t leave. It would be rude to their other guests.
“He made me this way,” she said, taking in several deep gulps of air. “How can I miss him and at the same time hate him so much. Is that normal? I don’t think I’m normal.”
She pressed her right hand over her heart. Her heartbeat was racing faster than a bird’s, threatening to jump out and rush after that idiot.
“You’re doing fine,” Kim said, his tone gentle.
She looked up, met his gaze.
“You’re fine,” he repeated.
Kim seemed sure so she nodded.
“You’re right. I’m strong.”
“The strongest woman I’ve met,” Kim assured her.
Koya stilled then, reading more in Kim’s gaze than she wanted. She wondered if it was alright to hold on to him when she knew she couldn’t offer anything back. Kim was always so steady. Such a rock…
“Can you do this?” Kim asked, he rubbed her arms, the motion familiar, meant to console her. “Why don’t you stay here, and I’ll get Ashi.”
Koya nodded and took a step back away from Kim. Her gaze remained on him as he walked away in search of Ashi.
Ashi and Hana stayed by Koya’s side as though she were an invalid that needed constant care. Whenever Ashi saw Charlie move close, she maneuvered Koya away from him: she and Hana worked well.
Koya couldn’t help laughing when Hana pressed pistachio ice cream into her hands.
“You guys are crazy,” Koya said, taking a small bite of her ice cream. “I’m not going to melt just coz he’s close by.”
“Could have fooled me,” Ashi teased.
Koya ate her ice cream, her gaze never straying from Charlie, though she pretended not to watch him. Their guests gravitated to him, as moths would to an open flame. No doubt wanting to get an in with the budding leader of the dark world, she scoffed.
She swallowed a huge bite of ice cream and almost chocked. Jeez, she needed to find a solution about that darned check, there was no way she was going to receive it from Charlie.
As the gala came to a close, Koya stood on the dais giving a thank you speech. Her gaze settled on Adele who sat at the front, her headdress so huge, she couldn’t be missed in the crowd, and an idea struck.
“Your generosity has made this gala successful,” Koya said to their guests. “On behalf of the members of Power to Women Foundation, I want to thank you for raising money enough to fund our community center for a year. The foundation gives the honor of receiving the largest donation of the day to the lady who has worked with tireless dedication. She made this gala possible today. Please welcome the Vice- Chairlady, Mrs. Adele Kouga.”
Adele beamed as she got up amid applause. She went up the dais, followed by the executives from Dhal Corp, headed by Charlie. Koya took her seat beside Ashi and watched Adele receive the one million shillings dummy check from a grim Charlie.
After the simple ceremony ended, the gala guests left at their leisure. Charlie lingered, watching Koya work with the staff to undo tents, pack chairs and tables into a huge truck. She’d avoided him all day, instead sticking to Kim, Hana and Ashi, allowing them to corset her.
Charlie scowled. Koya’s escapism annoyed him. He was not leaving until she talked to him.
“Charlie is still here,” Ashi said when the field was clear and only one event truck was left. “What do you want us to do?”
Koya gripped the envelope she held and sneaked a glance behind her. Charlie stood by the Zuri Events truck, talking to the driver. She sighed.
“Go get the car,” Koya said, “I’ll meet you.”
She walked the few steps to Charlie and the driver with false determination.
“Thank you guys,” she said to the Zuri Events driver, handing him the envelope she held. It had their pay. “Drive safe.”
“You’re welcome,” the driver smiled at her and started the truck with a final wave.
Then she was alone with Charlie once the truck drove off.
“I’ve avoided you all day.”
“I noticed,” Charlie said, and then went silent for a moment. “I came because I wanted to see you, Koya. I missed you. There isn’t a day that passed I didn’t wonder how you were. You’ve always been important to me.”
“How lucky for me,” Koya said. “I’m sure your dogs have the same consideration.”
“You were always so very sarcastic. I missed that too.”
“What do you want from me, Charlie? A hug? A ‘Hey, welcome back, the world is still as you left it?’”
“Any response is fine, Koya. You’re giving me nothing here. And I see for myself that the world is different now. You and Kim seem close.”
“We’ve been through a lot together.”
“And we haven’t?”
“You threw that away, Charlie. Not me,” Koya said.
“I’m back now.”
Koya lifted her hand.
“Stop right there. I don’t want to hear more.”
“Why?” Charlie asked. “Because you’re still angry at me? I made a mistake leaving, I admit that, but I’m telling you I’m here now to fix it. Fix us. I want us back together, Koya.”
“You’re about eight years too late,” Koya said with a soft scoff. “I don’t deny we were great. With you, I thought I’d be happy for the rest of my life. But, that was another time and place. That girl doesn’t exist anymore.”
Koya straightened her shoulders, stood a little taller, and held out her right hand to Charlie. He took it, confusion on his face.
“Welcome back, Mr. Dhali,” she said. “Thank you for your donation. The foundation appreciates it. Good luck on all your other enterprises. Have a good evening.”
She let go of his hand, gave him a short nod and turned. She was glad Ashi had brought the car closer, so she didn’t have to walk too far. Reaching the green Sedan, she entered the back passenger seat with as much grace as she could master. She didn’t look back at Charlie.
To be continued….Thanks for Reading!!