Life on the Fast Track – 22

Track 22: My parents make me want to lose my isht….still, I love them.

What a day, was all Jasmine could think as she drove into her family home.  The one-acre plot was set up like a farm.  Her mother dabbled in farming: growing house veggies like cabbage, lettuce, carrots and herbs.  Her father kept two cows, for fresh milk.  His pride when looking at those two cows was enough to ignore the amount of energy spent finding food for them.  It was good luck that her parents hired a workman.  Otherwise, Daryl and Jenny would never escape the duties of milking in the early morning before the birds woke up.

Jasmine chuckled as she parked her car in front of her parents’ cute ranch-style house.  A grey cat stood outside the front door, staring at the new arrivals.

Kanyau was a permanent fixture here.  Once, when she went missing for a day, the whole house was outside looking for her.  Only to discover the cat was stuck in the ceiling trying to catch a rat.

Jasmine shook her head.  The memories in this place were too many.  Some fond, others…her father stepped out of the house, and she grimaced.  Others, she preferred to forget.

She got out of her car, watching her mother greet her dad with a wide smile.

Wanja had driven her car home, knowing Danny would bring Jenny and Daryl home.

Jasmine walked to her father.

“Daddy,” she said, and he took her hand pulling her in for a hug, holding her tight.

“Look at you, you grow beautiful with time, Jasmine.”

Jasmine chuckled when her dad stepped back to give her a good look.

“Have you been taking care of yourself?”

“Yes.” Jasmine nodded, urging him into the house after her mother.  “What about you?”

“I’m an old man worrying about my children.  How do you think I’m doing?”

Jasmine bit her lip watching her dad settle on the couch.  The Sunday paper a mess on the table.  Her father liked to read the paper on Sundays.  Doing the crossword puzzles and checking the answers from last week’s paper.

Wanja had gone to the master bedroom, so Jasmine sat on the armchair across her father.  Catching up was easy, her dad was a great listener.  Jasmine found herself telling him about her work, the good days, and the frustrating ones.  Two hours passed by, and Wanja entered the living room carrying three mugs of coffee.  She handed one to her husband, and the other to Jasmine.

“Jazz, tell your dad what brought you here today,” Wanja said, as she sat down to drink from her own mug.  “It’s getting late, and tomorrow you have work.”

Jasmine placed her mug on the coffee table and met her father’s frowning gaze.

“Jasmine?”

She took in a deep breath before plunging in.

“It’s about Daryl.”

“If Daryl has something to say to me, he should come and tell me.”

“He has tried, hasn’t he?” Jasmine asked.  “You won’t listen to him when he says he doesn’t want the military, accounting or medicine.”

“You’re the one encouraging him to fight my plans,” her dad accused.  “He left the house the last time we were discussing this topic.  Jazz, don’t fill his head with ideas.  I know what’s good for him.”

“I’m only supporting my brother’s ideas about his own life, and you should too.”  Jasmine shook her head.  “Sometimes it feels as though you’re making us fulfill the dreams you didn’t finish.  You must have wanted to be an accountant, or a doctor, as you’re in the military already.  Jenny did what you wanted, and now you want Daryl to study something he doesn’t like, or get into the military, like you.  Why do you have to be so unfair?”

Duncan Lima stood to his full height and Jasmine followed suit, facing her formidable father.  She curled her fingers into fists determined not to back down.

“That military career you’re looking down on gave you kids the life you now live,” Duncan said, his eyes narrowed.  “It paid for your university, Jenny’s and now it will pay for Daryl.  Why don’t I have the right to suggest what I think will work for Daryl’s life?  You’ve always been too stubborn for your own good.  I couldn’t do anything about you, but Daryl—”

“What?” Jasmine cut in.  “He’s the one to continue the bloodline?  Your precious heir?”

Duncan growled, taking a step toward her, the coffee table the only thing keeping her from his wrath.

Wanja stood then, placing her hand on Duncan’s rigid arm.

“You test a man’s patience,” Duncan said after a minute.  “I’m your father.  I don’t deserve to hear you talk to me like that, Jasmine.”

“Daddy,” Jasmine said, gentling her tone.  “I respect you very much.  You’re set in your ways, and we all try to get through your stubborn ideas, but important things like this…”

Jasmine broke off and shook her head.

“This is Daryl’s life we’re talking about here.  He is really smart, better than—”

Jasmine bit her lip stopping herself from saying Danny’s name.  Her dad did not like Danny.  She met her mother’s gaze for a moment, then continued.

“I don’t understand half the things Danny talks about when he gets into it.  He’s always wanted to do engineering.  Why would you stop him?  Why take that dream away from him?”

“Because we have to think of life and if he can maintain a life with his dreams,” Duncan replied.  “Dreams won’t provide you with a good life.  They won’t plan your life, get you married and have you living comfortably.  You need a steady job for that, a guaranteed job.”

Jasmine nodded.

“I guess that was meant for me,” Jasmine said, with a little scoff.  “Administration work in a warehouse is not your ideal job.  It might not be something to brag about to your friends of course, but it maintains the life I want.”

“A life without direction,” Duncan spat out.  “Who knows what you’re doing anymore?  Or where you’ll end up?  Is that ideal for you?  Where did we go wrong with you?”

Jasmine stepped back at that jab and picked up her purse.

“I’m not here to talk about me,” Jasmine said, biting her lip hard to keep from crying.

“Daryl is my son,” Duncan said, turning to sit on the couch.  He picked up the paper, his expression dismissive.  “I know what’s best for him and his future.  Don’t interfere, Jasmine.”

“You know what, you’re right,” Jasmine agreed.  “Daryl is your son, but he is also his own person.  Think about that too.  Don’t let him live a life he hates.”

Jasmine met her mother’s gaze for a moment, then turned and left the house.  She got in her car and drove out of the compound in a hurry.  She had to pull over a few miles after when the road became a blur.  Changing gears to park, she leaned back and allowed the tears to flow free.

Her worth as a daughter to her father…she couldn’t define it.  He never looked at her with pride for having refused to do as he wanted.  She had refused a career he thought would be perfect for her.  The life he had planned out down to the year she should get married.  His ideal son in-law was in the military or a doctor of some sort.

Well, joke on him because she was definitely not going to be giving that to him.

Jasmine punched the steering wheel, letting out a hard sob.  She’d built her life by herself, she held down a good job, she was taking the world each day with courage.

Would her father never see that?

Jasmine hugged the steering wheel and cried hard.  A few minutes into it, she gasped in the middle of her tears when her door opened.  The doors must have unlocked when she parked the car.  She stared at the figure standing over her.

“Who is it?” Danny demanded.  “Tell me where they are and I’ll get them.”

“Danny,” Jasmine sobbed out, covering her face with her hands.  “What are you doing here?”

It didn’t do for him to see her this way.

“Jazz.” Danny crouched down beside her and stared at the mess she was.  “Jasmine.”

Reaching in, he pulled her into his arms and held on as she cried harder than she had in a while.

***

←Previous Track

So, this story is coming to an end, can’t wait to write post the last 2 tracks.  Thank you for loving this story of mine.

Calculating Self- Publishing Costs in Kenya – Non-Fiction Books

Break out the calculator!  It’s all about the Word Count!

So, I’ve had a few questions about what the process of self-publishing a physical book in Kenya looks like.  What does it take?  How much does it cost?  So, let’s calculate it in this post.

Are you ready to self-publish?

Writing in Kenya is a journey! A myriad of experiences that sort of take you through very high highs and low lows, but when you find the perfect fit, you end up in a sweet spot.  You can lower your costs depending on how hard you decide to work.  I can only share a snippet of the journey my sister and I have traveled under The E.i.N Company on our publishing journey.  As you know, or are now learning, hehehe, my sister and I run Amari Baking Center.  The center has published recipe books and a How To book on the baking industry.  To get the Business Baking book published has been quite a process.  I will share some of that with you here, as documenting it all would take a few pages.

Is your manuscript finished? 

This is a question you need to ask yourself the moment you write the last word on the last page of your work.

  1. If your answer is yes, then seek a Beta Reader before you find an Editor.  Beta readers are test readers.  Your first test reader.  You can have one, two or five, have them read your work and let you know what they think.

A good beta reader will give you valuable feedback.  They help you clear your mind, refine your thoughts as you want to lay them out in your book. They don’t mind having a discussion with you about your content, and they save you thousands, helping you refine your manuscript.

Listen to each beta reader if you get five, you can also have just one who really gets you, and that is also important.

Best places to get a Beta Reader:

  1. A Friend/family with the same interest.  Someone who will not coddle you, and is honest about your masterpiece. (I played this role for the project along with two others.)
  2. Join writing groups or critique circles.  Be warned, you might go through a few groups to find the perfect fit.
  3. Online resources – Goodreads has a Beta Reader group, explore it.  Writing.com, join the community and find a group that you’re comfortable with.  You can even get critiques on your work.  Absolutewrite.com the forums are a great resource.  Facebook Writing groups like this one: Beta Readers & Critiques.

Find your right Beta Reader fit.  The person who makes you comfortable enough to discuss your work and how to improve it for the better.  If you are not relating with your Beta Reader, stop and seek a new relationship.  Sort of like dating…hahaha, get your right fit.

Cost in this part of the process: Your Time. Beta Readers are beautiful souls if you find someone willing to gain the experience at reading/editing, it costs you nothing cash wise but work and a willingness to listen to your beta reader.

Once you are satisfied your work is ready, find an Editor.

2. Invest in an Editor.  There is no way around it.  I’m serious.  They are gold to your work.  Find someone who is willing to work with you, and if you find you are not melding with your editor, please, stop and find someone who is singing to you.  That way when they yell at you about the commas you keep adding in the wrong places, you won’t hate them for life.

Our cost in this process was as follows: Cost: 0.20 cents per word, or Kshs. 45 per 250 words. (We had about 35,000 words in the manuscript the end cost was Kshs. 6,300)  The service included the following: 

  • Proofing for spelling mistakes, typos, punctuation problems, capitalization errors, and awkward grammar.  The overall structure of the manuscript.  Which includes managing your content flow, word choice, clear narrative, and offer research help to ensure situations and scenes are factual.

The process took a little over two months as we worked to ensure everything was just right.  Inputting time for Re-edits, and general discussions among all involved.  Quite a process.  When it was done, it was time for the cover.

3. The Book Cover – The first cover for this book was simple.  It cost Kshs. 500 to design.  I had taken on the role of publisher at this point, so we had numerous chitchats, and we weren’t really looking for something expensive looking.  It was an industry book, one we were testing out, so that’s about how much we felt it deserved at the time.  We printed out 50 books to start, but more to come on the printing. Here is the first cover.  Pretty basic, but it was the first, and so still proud of it.

Book Cover1

The second cover we worked harder.  It cost about Kshs. 2,500, and it now included the ISBN barcode.  Very proud of this one as well.

Amari Cover

What to know during the book cover process:  Understand your budget, and the person working with you, and what kind of book you want to sell.  This creation process took a week, though with the second cover there was a lot of back and forth, going almost to two weeks.

Now: The first cover had no ISBN and we had not even gone searching for copyright, so those costs didn’t factor in.  However, it’s good to get copyright and your ISBN the first time you get published. So, here are the ISBN and Copyright Costs.

ISBN – Kshs. 1,500 (confirm with Kenya Libraries on this as you get yours)

Copyright Costs – Kshs. 1,000 (The price at the time, confirm with their site as well)

In total our book cost:

First time Print:

  1. Editing – Kshs. 6,300
  2. Book Cover – Kshs. 500
  3. Printing – (Kshs. 180 x 50) = Kshs. 9,000
  4. Total = 15, 800 (We sold it at Kshs. 500)

We weren’t happy with our first print.  Pages misprinted, and arranged wrong, about 10 of the books were given for free. So, that first time was a bit of an experience.

Second Printing

  1. Re-editing – Kshs. 2, 000 (There were a few changes we needed to make)
  2. ISBN – Kshs. 1,500
  3. Copyright Costs – Kshs. 1,000
  4. Cover – Kshs. 2,500 (included the ISBN bar code)
  5. Printing – (Kshs. 180 x 50) = Kshs. 9,000
  6. Total = Kshs. 16,000 (We sell it for Kshs. 500 still, but now all we need to do is reprint for restock)

A very generous and kind client of ours shared the Publish4All  contacts with us.  A simple email actually. (p4akenya@gmail.com). He said they print really well and this book would come out so well with them.  They were really fast to respond, and very helpful. So, that’s how we redesigned the cover and sent the book to Publish4All for second print.  The end result was amazing and they even helped us sort delivery, becoming our perfect fit at last.

Do note that Publish4All requires you to have your book edited and formatted for print, as well as formatting the book cover for print.  You can reach out to them and learn more.  Remember, word count is key.  The larger your book, the cost rises as well.

So, this is the process of printing a non-fiction book in Kenya.  The end product has 102 pages, and the cover, pages neat and sealed to perfection. You have a snippet of the costs to get you through a first print. Be brave and try and get something printed, it’s the only way to know what works for your work.

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Sis proudly spreading the news! She’s awesome.

With the book in hand, the rest is marketing in all shapes, forms and sizes.

Thoughts on this process:

Before the first print, we had walked all over Nairobi trying to find the best printer.  There was a printer who had the best product, but wouldn’t take our book without us printing 500 copies in one go.  Imagine our shock, that was a low, because we really liked their work, but couldn’t afford all those copies at once.  So, you shake it off, and keep looking. We went to the second, and a third, I think we found the first printer after talking to six printers.

I believe it depends on the amount of money you are hoping to spend, and the end product you are hoping for.  So, shop around, don’t be in a rush, just be sure to have all the information you need before you start investing.  That is what this process comes down to.  An investment in your manuscript.

Then, start marketing like the end is tomorrow.

I hope this post is of insight to you.  I will work at compiling an editors in Nairobi list that you can use for your editing process.

Keep writing, and sharing, let’s get published!

Cera’s Fruit of Life

Dust sifted in a fine cloud covering her forehead.  Cera closed her eyes fast, tasting fine red soil on her lips.  She blinked away dust and continued her climb up the steep cliff.  Fingers grabbed at roots and jutting rocks that felt sturdy enough to hold her.  She wedged her foot into crevices, always reaching.  She climbed up, her muscles straining with effort, ignoring the pain, gritting her teeth, she pushed harder.

Her right hand went up, fingers closed over a thick branch, and she gasped when the Tree-of-life-springbranch broke off.  Her heart slammed against her chest when she slipped, her left hand gripping the rock she held tight.  She flattened her body against the cliff to keep her balance.  Her right hand searching for another hold, she sighed in relief when she held thick roots.

Cera took in a deep breath to calm her beating heart.  Holding on tight, she risked a glance down the cliff.  Her best friend, Jeri, stood in the clearing below.  Beside her, Cera’s little brother lay on a kanga unconscious.  There was no one to fight for him but Cera.  Their parents were long gone.  Cera was Ken’s mother now.

Cera could barely see them below.  The fall down would kill her.  Cera closed her eyes bringing her attention back to the roots she held.  She couldn’t fall to her death here.  She still had so much to do.

Shaking off fear, Cera continued her climb.  Legend was a tree of life grew on top of this cliff.  The tree bore a single fruit each year.  One that stayed ripe for months.  The juices of that fruit brought life to the sick and the dying.  Many had attempted the climb, very few ever made it to the top.  Cera was determined to be one of the few.

Her brother was ill.  The doctors in their village could not help him.  Cera had spent the better part of two years trying to find a cure for Dan with no results.  Now, her brother could barely wake up: he slept too long and she worried that he was slipping away.  She could not bear such a loss.  Being left alone in this world…Cera shook her head refusing such a reality.

So, she climbed.

Not stopping even when her fingers got damaged, and her muscles got weak.  When she felt her strength waning, tears tracking down her dusty face because her arms and legs hurt, she worried she might fall off, she reached up and her fingers found nothing.  She looked up to find clumps of grass and she used them to pull herself up.  Her heart skipped with relief when she came up on a flat plain, green with lush grass.  Unable to stand, she rolled to her back, then crawled to her knees, her gaze on the majestic tree in the middle of the clearing.  A purple fruit grew low on the bottom branches.  Hers to take, hers to give to give to her dear small brother.

This was a short story submitted for a flash fiction thing.  Enjoy it!

Ocean trinkets – Art & Craft

A burst of inspiration struck this afternoon.  We collected shells on the beach during a trip to Diani, and we had this huge bag of shells we didn’t know what to do with.  Anyway, the inspiration came from browsing pinterest, and finding these great seaside jars made over at Completely-Coastal.

So, got to work collecting glass jars in the house.  Impromptu arts & crafts, hahaha.

Made quite a mess of it at first.

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Memories in a Jar!

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But the end result looks awesome.  These are now going on the bookshelves.  Memories in a Jar!

All in all, a productive Saturday afternoon…at least it was a great save for the shells.  Hope your Saturday was great!

Up next, Life on the Fast Track – 22.  Jasmine is to face Dad and make a stand for her little brother! Oh boy!

Cheers.

Chasing the Sunset to Eldoret

Took a road trip to Eldoret, KE this week.  There were so many pictures that I thought it’s best to just share them on the blog.  So, here are sights from our beautiful, lush countryside!

always meet them having lunch, hahaha!

A lake to purposely visit

The sun painting the sky.
Where did the riders go? ^_^!

Shades of Sunset Gallery.

We were heading west, so each town tended to have it’s own moment.

I was in charge of photos for the trip…caught this selfie moment among the three ladies doing baking training at our destination.

I’mma take a selfie!

Checking out the Kerio Valley in Iten.  Home of the Champions!

Training hard to run for KE

 

Massive Kerio valley!

Along the way, caught sight of this billboard and it made my day.

I had fun on this trip, collected quite a few stories.  Until next time.

 

Life on the Fast Track – 21

Chapter 21 – This is what the future looks like

Jasmine wanted to fight Danny.  She wanted to stay angry at Danny.  Angry at him for making her live through a sleepless night worrying the worst had happened.  Yet, seeing his face, his eyes filled with sincere worry, all she could think was, ‘thank goodness he wasn’t hurt.

Jasmine shifted her gaze to the silly apron he still wore.  It was pink, with frills on the side.  She liked sticking her hands in the pockets while she cooked.  Now, she would always remember how funny it looked on Danny.

“Are you going to say anything?” Danny asked, not moving away.

“I lived through a nightmare last night,” Jasmine said, still staring at the apron.  “Every time I close my eyes, all I see is you spinning out and you not making it.  I needed you to stay with me, Danny.  I needed to make sure you were fine, but you pushed me to Jimmy and drove off.”

“I needed to do that,” Danny insisted.  “It was the only way to catch that bastard.  Which we did, and the trouble is gone now.  I finished it.”

Jasmine shook her head.

“So, now what?  Should I be happy you almost got yourself hurt?  Oh, thank God he caught the culprit. What if something happened during the process?  I can’t live like that.  Don’t make me lose you.  I don’t want to—”

Danny pulled her into a tight hug.

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Two peas in a pod

 

“I’m not reckless.  I was safe, and as long as you were with Jimmy, I knew you were safe too.”

“You’re missing the point.”

“Don’t ask me to stop racing.”

Jasmine closed her eyes pressing her forehead into his shoulder.

“I’m not asking you to stop.  I’m asking you to think about the fact that you and I, we—

“We what?” Danny asked when she stopped.

Jasmine bit her lip, then let out a soft sigh.

“We’re like two peas in a pod, Danny.  Can you think about my heart too?  I don’t want to see you hurting.  I don’t want you to catch trouble.  I—I wouldn’t survive it if something happened to you.  So, promise me you’ll be extra careful.”

Danny tightened his arms around her, kneeling on the floor as he pulled her even closer.

“I promise, Jasmine.  Your heart is the most important thing to me.  You have to know that by now.”

Jasmine smiled, thinking she must have saved a village in the distant past.  Danny seemed to be hers when she had thought he would never be.  She wrapped her arms around him, as the fear that had bothered her all night dissipated.  It always did, when he felt so alive in her arms.  She hoped it would always be so.

They stayed holding each other until the door opened to admit Wanja.  Danny took his time letting go, even with Jasmine pushing him off her gaze on her mother.

“I figured I would have to come in here,” Wanja said, her chuckle startling Jasmine.  “Jazz, food is ready.  Come on.”

Wanja left them and Jasmine sat staring at the open door in surprise.  She had expected yells, and a few curses at Danny.  Danny took her right hand and pulled her up.  She followed him out of her bedroom to the little dining room off the kitchen.

Lunch was eaten in a cloud of excitement.  Jasmine listened as her brother and sister asked Danny too many questions.  He answered each one with patience, and interest.  He engaged her mother with stories of his childhood, his father’s restaurant, Terry’s business, his garage.  In a sense, it was the perfect family lunch.

Her strange apprehension about her mother disproving of Danny died away with each minute, each laugh, each giggle, and she wondered why she had worried so much.

Jasmine took her glass of orange juice from the table, sipping juice, her gaze resting on Daryl.  She thought about Daryl and their father.  The man who saw fault when his kids refused to follow the line and wondered how she was ever going to introduce Danny to him.  She frowned.

More importantly, what were they going to do about Daryl?

“Jazz?”

Jenny touched her left shoulder and she looked up to find everyone staring at her.

“Danny wants to take us to visit his garage,” Daryl said, his excitement tangible.  “Do you mind if we go?”

Jasmine looked at Danny and smiled when he winked at her.

“You can go,” she said, smiling at her brother.  “Don’t cause trouble though.”

Danny chuckled as both Daryl and Jenny got up heading outside to his car.

“I should help clean up,” Danny said, waving at the messy table.

“Don’t worry about it.” Jasmine pushed her chair back and stood.  “You helped cook.  I’ll clean up.”

Jasmine took plates to the kitchen, and wasn’t surprised when Danny followed her.

“I’ll see you later?” Danny asked, stealing a quick kiss, making sure Wanja didn’t see him.

“Yeah, sure.  I’ll be home.”

Jasmine swatted his hand away when he pinched her waist.  She watched him hurry back to the dining table.

“Mamma Jazz, I’ll bring Daryl and Jenny home.  Thank you so much for lunch.”

“It was nice to meet you, Danny,” Wanja said.  “I hope this is not the last time we’ll see each other.”

“Definitely not,” Danny said, moving to hug her.  “I’ll come visit you with Jasmine next time.”

Wanja chuckled and Jasmine came back to the table to see Wanja watch Danny leave.

“He’s bold, that one.”  Wanja noted when Danny was gone.  “So, you two are serious?”

Jasmine wiped the table mats, arranging them neatly.

“Do you approve?”

“He’s a good man.  I know his father, and Terry is like your sister.  She slept over our house so much, she’s like a daughter to me.”

Wanja patted the empty seat next to her.

“Jazz, sit.”

Jasmine placed the cloth she held on the table and moved to sit next to her mother.

Wanja took her hand, and rubbed her fingers gently.

“I’m no expert on love.” Wanja gave her a rueful smile.  “So, I won’t tell you Danny is right, or he is wrong for you.  All I can say is make the right choice for you. Your heart knows what it wants.  That’s what matters most in this very long life.”

“Mum.”

Wanja brought her hand up to stroke Jasmine’s right cheek.

“You were always the strongest of my kids.  I don’t think you get it from me, Jazz.  I think you get it from your father.”

“He won’t approve of Danny.”

Jasmine shook her head, sure she was right.

“He is set in his ways,” Wanja said with a sigh.  “But you prove him wrong on a constant basis.  So, he’ll accept Danny, in time.”

Jasmine squeezed her mother’s hand and stood up.

“Speaking of which, before he approves or disproves of my boyfriend, why don’t we talk about Daryl.”

“Jazz.”

“Military?  Mum, seriously?  Daryl doesn’t want that.” Jasmine shook her head.  “You’ve always known he loves engineering.  Why won’t you fight for him?”

“It’s not that easy.”

Jasmine picked up the mats she had arranged.

“Fine, I’ll help you make it easy.  Daddy is home, right?  Let’s go see him.”

“Jazz—

“We have to try, Mum.  Otherwise, Daryl won’t forgive us when he ends up marching for the country.  And I’m not saying there is anything wrong with joining the military.  I just think a guy should do what he wants.  If Daryl wants to work in engineering, he should.  Who knows what he’ll end up building?”

Wanja wiped a hand down her face, and shook her head.

“You’re probably the only person who can stand up to Daddy with that statement.”

Jasmine grinned and hurried into the kitchen to dump the mats in their drawer.

“Then let’s do it today.  I’ll go get my sweater.  We should go before Danny finishes with Jenny and Daryl.  I don’t want them anywhere near the explosion when it happens.”

***

Thank you for reading…to be continued ^_^

←Previous Track

Life on the Fast Track – 20

I Accept you…and all your flaws, but we must understand each other

Jasmine drove up to her house, slowing down when she saw Danny’s car parked next to her mother’s jeep.  She had known he would come.  She had not anticipated that he would find her mother.  She sighed and parked behind his car.

Getting her shopping from the backseat, she hurried to the front door, a little panicked.  Her mother was an interrogator.  She could make the worst criminal squirm under her gaze.  Jasmine was sure she had learned it from being a military wife.  Their dad was no walk in the park.

Danny was in double trouble today.

Unlocking the door, Jasmine walked into her house and stopped when the scent of cooking hit her fast.  Her family was in the kitchen, she stopped at the kitchen entrance to stare at the scene.  Danny wore an apron, and was hard at work chopping carrots into thin strips.  He was an expert at it too.

“Jazz, I thought the supermarket swallowed you up.  I hope you bought nyanya?” Wanja said, looking at her from her position at the kitchen counter. (Tomatoes)

Jasmine lifted up the bag with vegetables, placing it on the counter.  Jenny took the rest from her, and they got to work putting them away.

“Too many people in the kitchen,” Wanja said, when Jenny bumped into her.  “If you’re my kid, get out of here, go entertain yourself.”

Jenny and Daryl hurried out.  Jasmine hesitated, her gaze on Danny.  He sent a smile her way and continued chopping, whistling a happy tune.

Wanja placed gentle hands on her shoulders and led her out of the kitchen.

In the living room, her brother sprawled on the couch and turned on television.  He tuned to Netflix and got comfortable.  Jasmine mentally thanked her landlord for hooking her up with cheap Wi-Fi from Jamii.

Jenny grabbed Jasmine’s hand and led her to her bedroom, closing the door.

“Talk,” Jenny said, perching on her bed, folding her legs under her in anticipation.

Before Jasmine could start, Jenny broke into a tirade.

“You and Danny…when did you get together?  Why didn’t you tell me?  You have been holding out on me.  How is that fair when I’m your sister?  Terry knows, doesn’t she?  You treat her more like a sister, than you do me.  That is so not fair.  Gosh, he’s so hot.  Why is he so hot?”

“Are you done?” Jasmine asked, sitting on the bed beside Jenny.

She let out a sigh, unable to stop thinking about last night.  The sight of Danny’s car spinning out of a high speed race ran in a loop in her head.  Round and round, when she closed her eyes to sleep, all she saw was him spinning out, and not making it.

“Jazz?” Jenny squeezed her right hand, pulling her away from her thoughts.

Jasmine met Jenny’s gaze and smiled.

“You’re my favorite little sister.  I didn’t tell you because we haven’t seen each other.  Plus, I wasn’t sure about him.”

“And now you’re sure?”

Jasmine sighed.

“We have a few things to work out, but yes.”

“Oh yes!” Jenny jumped off the bed and stood watching her.  “This is so awesome.  Danny is those guys you wanna brag about.  Can I call him when I need a ride?  Coz, you know that happens sometimes.”

“Jenny.”

“Come on, Jazz, please.”

“I’ll run it by him first,” Jasmine said, shaking her head.

“It’s so cool to have an older brother now,” Jenny clapped.  “You have done well, sister.  The elders will be happy.”

“What are you the village seer?” Jasmine laughed.  “Gosh, Dad will have a conniption when they meet.  He is so not open minded.”

Jenny seemed to deflate.

“I suppose I should celebrate after they meet.  Danny might want to run.”

“Way to support,” Jasmine scowled at her little sister.

“It’s the truth.”  Jenny sat on the bed.  “You know Dad talked to Daryl a few days ago, about the future.  Daryl was given three options: military, doctoring or business courses.”

Ngai,” Jasmine shook her head.  “He doesn’t change the choices.  You’re the only one who did the right thing and did accounting.  He knows Daryl loves mechanics, even engineering would make sense.  Military?”

“Daryl walked out.  He went to stay over at Aunt Monica’s,” Jenny said.  “He came home this morning.”

“And Mom?”

Jenny shrugged, smoothing her hand over the bed spread.

“Since you, she hasn’t tried to fight for the rest of us.”

“That’s not true,” Jazz said, shocked.  “Jenny, you said you wanted to do accounting.”

“It was the easiest choice that didn’t involve gory detail,” Jenny shrugged.  “You know Mimo, she’s a nurse.  She hates it, but it’s the only thing her parents wanted to pay for.  So—, at least I had two more choices.  I’m not sad about it, Jazz.”

“Gosh, Jenny.”

“Daryl will need your help,” Jenny said, meeting her gaze.  “You’re strong.  You can stand up to Daddy.  Help Daryl do what he wants.”

Jasmine took in a deep breath, and gave her sister a nod.  She pulled Jenny into a tight hug, and held her.

“You should have told me what you wanted,” Jasmine murmured into her sister’s hair.  “I would have fought for you.”

“I didn’t know what I wanted,” Jenny said into her shoulder.  “Not like Daryl does.”

Jasmine rubbed Jenny’s back and brushed her sister’s cheek when Jenny pulled back.

“I love you, kiddo,” Jasmine said, smoothing Jenny’s hair.  “Terry and I will induct you into the sister group on your next day off.  Come sleep over, sawa?” (okay)

Jenny giggled.

“Will Danny be there?”

“Sisters first, then we can have Danny take us out later,” Jasmine said, falling back on the bed.

Besides, she needed to work things out with Danny first.  They had a boat load of things to talk about.  One of them being, not racing off into danger when she begged him not to.

***

“What kind of work do you do?” Wanja asked.

Danny finished cutting carrots and put them in a bowl.  Taking a piece, he popped it into his mouth and faced Jasmine’s mother.

“I’m a mechanic,” Danny said.  “I work on cars, fixing them, restoring them, servicing.”

Wanja chuckled.  She lit the gas cooker and placed a frying pan on the fire, adding oil in one elegant move.

“You’re trying to shock me.”  Wanja flashed a smile at him.  “It won’t work, Danny boy.”

Danny grinned and leaned on the counter watching Wanja stir-fry the vegetables they cut up.

“Mum, I love Jasmine.” Danny stated.  “She means the world to me.”

Wanja chuckled and adjusted the fire on the stove.  She opened the cupboard above the gas cooker to get spices.  Danny watched her put black pepper, ginger and a mix of spices Danny couldn’t name.  The extent of his cooking skills included chopping, peeling, and grinding.  Came from working at his father’s restaurant when the place was short staffed.

Wanja mixed the vegetables, covering them with a lid to simmer.  She wiped her hands on a clean cloth and turned to face him.

“You’re Teresa’s big brother,” Wanja said, leaning on the counter across him.  “I know your father.  My husband and I love his restaurant.  We go there for celebrations.  It’s a great place.”

Danny held Wanja’s gaze.

“You have some steel in you, meeting me in my daughter’s house.”  Wanja narrowed her gaze.  “You’ve pissed her off.  I found her upset.  You want to fix it?”

Danny nodded.

“What did you do?”

“Disappointed her,” Danny said.

“Yes, men disappoint women,” Wanja said, pushing off the counter to check the vegetables she was cooking.  She took a spoon from a plate next to Danny and scooped some soup to taste.  Shaking her head, she added salt and winked at him.

“Women disappoint men too,” she said.

Danny smiled.

“Mama Jazz, are you going to say no to me dating your daughter?”

Wanja covered the food and lowered the heat.

“Jasmine is the most head strong woman I’ve ever met,” Wanja said.  “When she wanted to move out of the house, she simply packed her stuff, found this house and moved.  She is her father’s daughter.  I can’t stop her from doing anything.  However, the kitchen knife you used to chop vegetables is also a weapon, Danny boy.  You hurt her and I’ll show you how that works.”

Danny shifted, straightening up.  Wanja’s gaze scared him more than Anderson ever could.  He could not look away.  For a full minute, they stood staring at each other, until he folded and lowered his gaze.

Wanja laughed and stepped up to pat his shoulder.

“We have time, Danny, to get to know each other.  Meanwhile, Jazz is hiding in her room, avoiding you.  We came to visit her.  She won’t come out as long as you stay.  If you can talk to her, and get her out here, I’ll be happy.”

“Really?”

“I’ll give you ten minutes to solve it,” Wanja said, glancing at her watch.  “Fix it as fast as you can.”

Danny grinned, and left the kitchen quickly.  He hurried to Jasmine’s room.

***

Jasmine sat up when a soft knock came on the door.  Jenny opened it, and smiled wide when she saw Danny.

Sasa,” Jenny grinned.  “Mathe amekupatia time?” (Hi, Mum gave you time?)

Danny nodded and lifted his hands indicating ten minutes.

“Don’t go over,” Jenny advised, stepping past Danny into the hallway.  “She’ll come get you and it won’t be pretty.”

Danny shuddered and entered the bedroom, watching Jenny close the door.

Jasmine remained sitting at the foot of the bed.  Refusing to move, even when Danny came to stand in front of her.

“You won’t look at me?”

“You should have gone home to sleep,” Jasmine said.  “I imagine almost crashing and dying would exhaust a man.  You don’t look like you’ve slept.  Go home, Danny.”

Danny crouched before her, so that she had no choice but to meet his dark gaze.

“There you are,” Danny said, holding her gaze, placing his hands on the bed on each side of her.  “I’m sorry, Jasmine.”

“Danny.”

“I’m sorry I left you alone last night.”

***

 Thank you for reading…To be Continued ^_^!

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