13 – Hidden Secrets & Changing Relationships
Ashley Dhali swept her finger over the photos on her pad with reserved judgment. She was in her office at the Dhali estate. Her assistant stood a few feet away from her desk clearly worried about her reaction.
She frowned and shook her head.
She wasn’t angry. She settled back in the comfortable leather office chair, surprised. She really wasn’t angry. In fact, she hadn’t thought about Koya Kalahari in years.
Ashley glanced at the pictures on the screen again.
Charlie stood too close to a beautiful woman in a long green dress. Koya had matured into an elegant creature. What worried Ashley was the expression on Charlie’s face.
She placed her pad on the desk and met her assistant’s gaze.
“Where was this?”
“The Power to Women gala held at Riruta church on Saturday.”
So that’s where Charlie had gone.
He’d gone to check on his old flame.
Hunting, she scoffed. “That punk.”
“Miss Kalahari is the foundation’s Chairlady. Dhal Corporation has donated one million shillings to their community center project. They foundation is building the center on a plot close to Miss Kalahari’s home.”
Koya seemed to have found a foothold in the power jungle.
Ashley stared at her pad for a full minute then made a snap decision.
“Call Adele Kouga,” Ashley said, remembering the M.P.’s wife was the Vice- Chairlady. “Make an appointment with her for tomorrow morning. Tell Nora to start preparations for a dinner party on Friday night. The guest list is as usual. Make sure you add Koya Kalahari to the list. Let’s see if she can swim with the sharks.”
“Yes, Madam,” her assistant left her office fast, shutting the door.
Alone, Ashley stood and walked to a chest of drawers against the wall to her left. The top drawer was secured with a small keypad. She punched in the password and the lock system disengaged. Pulling open the top drawer, she removed a sizable lacquered box, placing it on top of the chest.
Ashley removed a bunch of letters she’d kept hidden for eight years. Taking the oldest one, she stretched it open and stared at her son’s familiar writing. Her gaze on the heartfelt words written…
She wasn’t sorry for the decision she’d made eight years ago. She really couldn’t be sorry, because it would mean undoing so much. Dhal Corp wouldn’t exist, Charlie wouldn’t have turned out the way he had. Folding the old letter, she stuck it with the rest and returned them into the box. She locked the box away in the drawer and strode out of her office.
Regrets were for weak minds.
The best she could do now was get to know Koya Kalahari.
“Mahali travel would like us to create a campaign promoting their Diani, Malindi and Nyali packages,” Koya said, reading through the requirements Mahali emailed her. “We need site visits, Hannah. I’m leaving that to you.”
“I’m in for a trip to Diani.” Hannah grinned as she took the pictures of the beach cottages Mahali Travel used to host their clients. “I see myself here for a month.”
“Haha, there is a two-week limit on the project, cousin,” Koya said as she sat back in her seat. She swiveled it from side to side, twirling her pen. “Don’t get lost down there.”
“Hmm,” Hannah met her gaze. “This will be a fun campaign to create. I have a billion ideas already forming.”
“I’m sure,” Koya said with a small smile.
She stopped swiveling her chair, and leaned her elbows on her desk. She signed off on the budget the accountant had laid out and passed the file to Hannah.
Hannah stood to leave, and then paused, studying Koya.
Koya raised her eyebrow.
“Are you alright?” Hannah asked. “You’ve been like a zombie since the gala on Saturday. You drank yourself to sleep that night. Yesterday, you agreed to wearing lime green at Ashi’s wedding without flinching. I’m worried.”
“She seemed so set on the lime green for the bridesmaids,” Koya said. “I didn’t want to argue with her.”
“I’m counting on you to change her mind. I refuse to look like a bright fruit in the name of a wedding.”
“Fine, I’ll take her out to lunch,” Koya said. “I’m fine, Hannah, there’s nothing to worry about.”
Hannah frowned and took her seat again.
“Koya, we all understand that things are a bit tough for you—.”
“Hey,” Koya protested. “This is exactly what I want to avoid. Nothing is hard, Hannah. Charlie can’t dictate how happy or sad I am. Life goes on.”
“Sounds to me like you are trying to convince yourself you’re fine.” Hannah stood and waved the file she held. “Thanks for this. I’m off to Diani for some work and play. Meanwhile, please think try to live a little, cousin. Life is not all about work, you know.”
Alone in her office, Koya swung her chair around to stare out her office windows. She tried to get a hold of the anger rising up at odd times of the day: an old anger she’d never managed to destroy. She kept busy to ignore it, but it was constant and ready to burst out these days. Charlie had looked well, too well. His intention to get back with her after the horrendous letter he’d written was insane. Who did he think he was?
She’d come in to the office this Monday morning ready to bury her head in work and forget him, but apparently work wasn’t helping. Her cell phone buzzed on her desk and she reached for it.
“Kalahari,” she answered.
“Come out and play,” Kim said into her ear.
“You’re staring out the windows brooding, come on, don’t be a bore. It’s Monday.”
“Most people would think you’re the crazy one. Mondays are serious business days.”
“Not for me,” Kim chuckled. “Change into jeans and a t-shirt. Let’s go glass shopping. I have a client who wants fancy art on glass. You’re good with that kind of thing…how about it?”
“Will you pay me commission?” Koya asked, although her blood was already singing at the thought of a road trip out of the city.
“A steak dinner,” Kim offered.
“Meat?” Koya laughed. “I guess I’m that kind of girl. Fine, let me change. Where do you want to pick me up?”
“I’m downstairs, hurry down,” Kim replied.
Koya got up from her seat and looked down at the parking lot below. She grinned when she saw Kim’s familiar black four-wheel drive pickup.
“Five minutes,” she promised, rushing into the bathroom attached to her office.
She kept a mini wardrobe on a shelf in the bathroom. She changed out of her white and red skirt suit into blue skinny jeans and blue t-shirt. Pulling on matching rubber shoes, she held her braids up in a ponytail and hurried out of the bathroom.
She made it downstairs in six minutes, but who was counting. Kim grinned at her as she got into the passenger side. He gave her a once over and pointed at her neck.
She touched the gold necklace she’d been wearing to match her elegant skirt and blouse.
“Oops,” she smiled and unsnapped it. She slipped it into her handbag and wore her seat belt.
Kim gave her an approving wink and started the truck. He tuned the radio to a rock station, turning up the volume. Koya loved the drive out of the city, a sense of freedom always settled over her. Glancing at Kim, she smiled because he always knew how to lift her spirits.
To be continued…>>
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