The Girl with the Golden Smile – 5

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 5

Nicholas couldn’t help stealing glances at Nalia. He drove with care, keeping to the speed limit, not overtaking at EA 2will. A smile tagged at his lips.

Eli would be proud, he thought.

Nalia sat with her hands on her lap. Her fingers were in tight fists, her gaze fixed outside the window. She hadn’t spoken much after her consultation with Eli.  Eli resisted his efforts to discover what they discussed in privacy. Instead, Eli had given Nalia his card and made her promise to call him.

Nicholas stopped the car at the first bus stop he found on the main road. Parking on the curb, he turned to Nalia.

“Do you live close?” he asked.

She nodded, but didn’t say a word.

Reaching into his jacket, Nicholas got his wallet and found a five hundred shillings note.

“Will this be enough?” he asked, holding it out to her. “It should get you home—,”

“That’s too much,” Nalia said. “Two hundred is fine.”

Nicholas sighed.

“I don’t have loose.”

She frowned at him.

He didn’t like those little frowns of hers. She probably thought him stuck-up or something worse for carrying large notes.

“Take the money, Nalia,” he urged.

She scoffed and took it with a short jerk. “I’ll pay it back.”

“Are you always this stubborn?” Nicholas asked. “You don’t want help from anyone. Who lives like that?”

“Me,” she said and reached for the door handle.

The surge of panic that flooded him was new.  Nicholas was sure he’d never see her again, but…he wanted to see her again.

“Wait,” he said when she opened the door.

“For what?” she asked jumping out of the cab.

She held the passenger door open and met his gaze.  When he didn’t say anything, she shrugged.

“Thank you,” she said. “You’ve been very kind to me.”

Nicholas nodded and watched as she closed the door and took two steps back.

She had his card, he thought.

She’d insisted on it, to be able to pay back the money she borrowed.

A matatu stopped in front of his car, and he watched Nalia hurry to board.  Nicholas smiled when she paused at the last minute to look back at his car. She gave him a short wave and he scoffed at the little flutter in his chest. The matatu took off as fast as it had shown up.

Nalia was intriguing.

She was a woman who took the time to bake to thank him for being kind. Her sense of humor made him laugh, not to mention she was beautiful in her own right. The bruise on her face brought a frown, and Nicholas wondered what it was Eli had learned about that bruise.

Domestic violence came to mind. He wondered what kind of man dared to hit a woman like Nalia. Would that bastard do it again?

Nicholas frowned, staring after the retreating matatu.

Maybe he shouldn’t have let her go.

“Come to your senses, Nick,” he murmured and started his car. “She’s a stranger you met last night.”

Turning the car around, he drove back to the villa and his renovation plans.

****

Malik wasn’t home when Nalia entered their small rental house.

floorNalia stood in their living room staring at the plates she’d dumped on the living room floor. She leaned down and righted one of the two dining room chairs they owned. She rubbed her arms looking around the little living room that could fit in the bathroom she’d used to clean up hours before.

Her home was small, but she’d once thought to be happy here, now this small space felt cold. Colder than the rain she’d ran through last night.

Ignoring the mess on the floor, Nalia went to the single bedroom she shared with Malik.

The bed was unused. Malik hadn’t slept here. She stepped over Malik’s soiled shirt on the floor and sat down on their bed. The room was messy: the clothes she fought to keep neat in their tiny closet were falling out.

Nalia shook her head.   She needed to figure out what she wanted.

****

“What kind of woman runs out in the rain?” Malik demanded later that day when he got home. “You made a mess, and then left me to clean it up. What did you think was going to happen?”

Nalia sat at the small dining table peeling potatoes for dinner. She kept her gaze on the potato peels, refusing to look at Malik.  Her husband was drunk. He had come home from one of his binges at the bar. Something was either right or terrible wrong. She didn’t dare ask. Her cheek was starting to heal. She didn’t need a fresh bruise.

“Are you just going to sit there?” Malik asked, standing over her. “All you do is cook and clean, work. You have no time for me. Why did we get married again? You don’t even try to look pretty anymore.”

Nalia closed her eyes and forced her fingers not to stiffen on the knife she held.

“Go sleep,” she said. “You must be tired.”

“Sleep here?” Malik scoffed. “This shack we call home is not comfortable, Nalia. What do you want to do about that?”

Nalia’s eyes opened and she dropped the knife on top of the potato peels.’

“What do I want to do?” she asked, her tone sharper than she’d intended.

Damn it, Malik was a spoiled man. She couldn’t stand it anymore.

Malik blinked staring at her.

“What am I to you?” she asked, pushing her chair back, Nalia got to her feet. “A punching bag? A private chef? Your cash cow?”

“Stop this foolishness,” Malik said with a wave of his hand. “You still haven’t told me where you went last night. No descent woman sleeps outside—

“Whose fault is it I went running out in the first place?” Nalia demanded. “I’m tired of this, Malik.”

“Tired of what?” Malik asked, his gaze dropping to the peeled potatoes. “Cooking?”

“No, being your slave,” Nalia snapped. “I want a divorce.”

****

Previous Chapters

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 4

Read More EA Friday Feature October Snippets

Amistad ain’t got nothing on me

The Assassin Diaries: Show me Mercy

Some Kind of Love

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 4

Prompt:

quote

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 4

“You haven’t told me your name,” Nalia said.

She trailed behind Nicholas, watching him survey the house. She supposed he was assessing his purchase. She tugged peeling paint from the wall in the corridor, and winced when white dust fell on the floor.

“Nicholas.” He flashed a grin at her. “Nicholas Muchemi.”

She nodded.

“Nice to meet you,” she said.

“So, Nalia,” Nicholas said walking down to the next room on the second floor. “What were you running from last night?”

“Do you have to know?”

“You said I was your lifesaver.  Of course I have to know.”

Nicholas leaned on the doorjamb to what appeared to be a library. There were old books left on the shelf. Nalia entered the room, the books calling to her.

“Lifesaver or not, I don’t know you well enough to tell you,” Nalia said, stopping by the bookshelves. She read the titles on the shelves with interest.

“Do you like books?” Nicholas asked.

“Some,” Nalia said touching the old spines. “The owner of these ones didn’t take care of them. Are you going to sellOld-Books them?”

“Maybe,” Nicholas said coming to stand beside her. “I might have them restored and keep them as part of the house.”

“How often do you do this sort of thing?” she asked, pulling out a geography encyclopedia from the shelf.

“This is my third house.”

Pride colored Nicholas’s words. Of course he would take pride in his achievement. She couldn’t imagine how much money it took to restore a house like this. She’d probably never see that kind of cash in her life. Returning the encyclopedia, she sighed and walked to the windows.

“It must be nice,” she said, staring out at the overgrown flower gardens behind the house.

“It’s a challenge. I like challenges,” Nicholas answered behind her. “You’re changing the subject, Nalia.”

“I don’t want to talk about last night. Why are you making me wait for your friend?”

“He’s a doctor.”

Nalia turned to look at Nicholas. He walked along the bookshelf, reading the book titles like a connoisseur. He was tall, taller than Malik. Nicholas was lean where Malik was bulky. Nicholas moved with grace, a warm refined air clung to him. Nalia imagined it came from years of living in a world he’d mastered.

She couldn’t imagine Malik browsing a bookshelf. Her husband preferred watching the news, and reading newspapers as though they held the secrets of the world. He thought novels were a waste of time, and he only wrote when he absolutely had to.

“Nalia,” Nicholas broke into her thoughts.

She blinked and stared at him.

“What are you thinking about? You looked so far away. My friend just text me, he’s two minutes away. We should head downstairs.”

Nalia frowned. “You said he was a doctor?”

Nicholas chuckled.

“Don’t worry, Eli is a real doctor. I saw him graduate and get his certification.”

Nalia stared at him and then she laughed.

The saga of a quack doctor had taken over the local news. A man who’d pretended to be a doctor and used his position to abuse women instead. She imagined doctors were having a hard time lately, having to prove they were real doctors.

Nicholas had a sense of humor.

She liked that.

“I like your laugh,” Nicholas said studying her.

His compliment shouldn’t have excited her, but it did. Warmth burst inside her, so vibrant, she forgot all the reasons why liking him was wrong. Heat suffused her cheeks and she dropped her gaze to the floor.

“We should go,” he said then.

She nodded and followed him out of the library.

She imagined the folks living here before must have been grand to have a whole room designated as a library. All her books were stacked on a carton in her closet. She often had to fight with her clothes to get those books to sit well.

Downstairs, anxiety hit when she heard the sound of another car. She slowed down, while Nicholas seemed to increase his footsteps, hurrying to the front door. She watched him open the door with a flourish.

She stopped in the middle of the living room. Fear returned, and she realized how free she’d felt before, when it had just been her and Nicholas. This house had somehow given her solace from her life in the last twelve hours. Sitting at the kitchen table with Nicholas, prowling the house with him, laughing…she couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt so carefree.

The sound of excited male voices outside reached her and she closed her eyes. She was scared again.  Nicholas returned followed by a short light-skinned man who carried a medical bag.

“Eli, this is Nalia,” Nicholas said, leaving the front door open. “Nalia, this is my best friend, Eli. He’s a private doctor.”

Nalia could only nod, her voice lost. She tried for a smile, but even that seemed stuck.

“Nalia,” Eli said with a warm smile. “I hope Nicholas has been good to you?”

She glanced at Nicholas and her traitorous heart skipped a beat.  Guilt set in. She was married. Yet here she was…tempted.

Alas, it was true; there is no one in the world that lived without sin, was she to count her sins in the last day, she was sure to burn.

Malik would be the one to burn her, she thought with a shiver.

“Shall we find a private room?” Eli broke into her thoughts. “I’ll take a look at that bruise on your cheek, put ointment on it.”

Nicholas pointed to a door to their right. She gave him a nervous smile and led the way to the door. It opened into a study. There was an old desk and a pair of chairs before it. She chose one and let out a shaky breath when Eli produced a stethoscope.

She closed her eyes when he leaned down to study the bruise on her cheek.

“Can I ask how you got this?” Eli asked.

She’d heard the question asked many times before. Concerned friends, her mother, her neighbors…she always lied. She told them stories of falling, bumping into doors, cupboards, absurd lies…never the truth. Opening her eyes, she met a kind gaze, and suddenly she just couldn’t lie anymore. Tears filled her eyes and she found she couldn’t form the words, though she wanted to say them.

“Did someone hit you?” Eli asked then, taking a seat.

She nodded, making the tears slide down her cheeks.

“Was it your husband?” Eli asked his gaze on her left hand.

Nalia fought back the shame that welled inside her and took in a deep breath.

“Yes,” she said, feeling as though she was jumping over a huddle. “My husband hit me.”

****

Previous Chapters

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 3

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 2

The Girl with the Golden Smile -1

Read More EA Friday Feature Entries

What If – by Annemarie Musawale

A Mother’s Love – Maureen Wakarindi

EA Friday Feature – September Prompt #3

EA Friday FeatureFriday Feature1

Write a story of only 1,000 words using the prompt given.  Post it on your blog on Fridays and share posts from fellow bloggers participating in the feature.

September Prompt #3:

A Quote: There is, No One in the World, That Lives without Sin…

quote

Previous Prompt Responses:

The Red Kanga

Read the EA Friday Feature August Issue for Free.

The Red Kanga

Friday Feature1Mystic woods

Prompt:

The Mystic Woods! What story do you see here?

The Red Kanga

Do you remember…?”

Kuria glanced at the woman perched on the stump in the middle of the clearing. She had a new red kanga tied around her hips. Her green blouse, made of soft silky fabric, clung to her curves. She’d covered her hair, that glorious long dark mess, hidden with a green headscarf. He couldn’t see her face because she was staring at the green grass at her feet. She held a stick, poking at the ground as though searching for answers in the soil nourishing the green blades.

“Do you remember we used to come here when we were kids?”

Nostalgia clung to her words; brought back memories.

“I remember,” Kuria said with a wistful smile. “I remember you never covered your hair those days.”

She chuckled, poking at the grass faster.

“I had time to play with a comb then. These days I’m too busy.”

“Busy is a state of mind, Shiro.”

Kuria shifted, pressing his back against the rough trunk a tall tree. Hundreds grew around them. He stuck a blade of grass between his teeth and stared up at the waving branches above. The sun sifted through, rays of light falling on the stump in the middle of the clearing, highlighting Shiro. It looked like a natural spotlight.

She paused in her poking to glance at him.

“Are you going to tell me why you called me?” she asked. “I left githeri cooking on the jiko.”

“You always have githeri cooking.” Kuria scowled. She never invited him to eat it. “Who are you cooking for this time?”

She shrugged.

“The house is full of people. Stop worrying about my githeri. What do you want to tell me?”

“I went to the shopping center to get charcoal earlier.” Kuria threw the blade of grass on the ground and crossed his arms against his chest. “I heard you were seen there with Chege. Are you two together now?”

Shiro scoffed.

“You’re like a woman. Why do you listen to gossip?”

“Is it true Chege bought you mangoes from Mama Nora, or not?”

“The mangoes looked good.”

Shiro tossed her stick and sat up straight, a frown dancing on her forehead.

“So he bought you mangoes?”

“Ah ha,” Shiro said with a nod. “What’s wrong with eating mangoes?”

“I bring you avocados from my mother’s tree and you sell them, but you ate the mangoes, didn’t you?”

“Chege paid good money for them,” Shiro said as though that should make sense.

Kuria frowned.

The woman was going to drive him insane.

She just didn’t see the point.

“I don’t want you to eat anything Chege buys you again.”

Shiro gaped.

“Did you hear me?”

Shiro stood up, her hands on her hips.

“You’re going mad, Kuria. You can’t stand there and dictate what I can or can’t eat. Who died and made you my master?”

“I’m warning you.”

“Warn away,” Shiro said. “Keep going and I will go find Chege and tell him to buy me all the fruits in the market.”

“I’ll kill him.”

“Then you’ll go to jail,” Shiro said. “Anything else you wanted to say?”

Kuria fumed, annoyed by her innocent expression. She had no idea how mad she got him. How angry he was that she dared talk with that Chege.

Why couldn’t she see how he felt about her? Why didn’t she care?

He thought about the avocados he took to her house. Three afternoons ago, he’d climbed the avocado tree behind his mother’s house and spent two solid hours picking each fruit with care. The trick with avocados was not to drop them from the tree. They bruised easy. Bruised avocados turned to rot.

Yes, he’d carefully picked each fruit, and hauled two large baskets down the tree. He’d taken one to his mother, the other he’d kept for Shiro.

She’d thanked him with a smile. Ah that smile…, he glanced at her face now. That smile was missing. She didn’t grace him with her smile too often, so when she’d smiled at him that day, he’d felt like he had won the lottery.

Yesterday, he’d gone to take milk to the dairy and he’d heard the women there talking about Shiro’s avocados. Shiro had sold all the avocados he’d given her. It had hurt to know she hadn’t even tried to eat one.

“If you’re going to scowl at me, I’m going home.”

Shiro’s irritation was clear and he pushed off the tree when she started to leave.

“Why did you sell my avocados? I brought them for you and your siblings to eat. Why sell them?”

“You brought a basket full. They would have gone bad in the house.”

“They weren’t ripe. You could have divided them and—

“I don’t like eating avocados.” Shiro sighed. “Don’t you have a fruit you don’t like?”

“No.” Kuria fumed. “You used to eat them fine when I gave you a slice over at our place.”

“That’s because I didn’t want to disappoint you.” Shiro shivered. “I don’t like the taste very much.”

“What kind of excuse is that? If you don’t like something just say it,” Kuria said confused. “Did you sell all the avocados?”

Shiro nodded. “I sold them all.”

Kuria scoffed and shook his head. “So much for my efforts.”

“Don’t look so disappointed. I used the money to buy this kanga. Do you like it?”

Kuria looked at the red kanga.

“My old one was fading.” Shiro smiled and his heart jumped the beat racing. Shiro’s smile had that effect on him.

“What do you think?” Shiro prompted, touching the red kanga.

“It looks good on you,” Kuria said, clearing his throat with a slight cough. He liked this pleased smile on Shiro’s lips. He wondered what else he could do to bring it back. “I can bring you more avocados if you like.”

“Will you?” Shiro asked in surprise.

“Yeah,” Kuria said thinking his mother wouldn’t notice one basket missing.

“Are you going to get mad if I don’t eat them?”

Kuria shrugged.

“No, as long as you don’t sell to Chege.”

Shiro laughed and turned to leave.

“I’m going to finish cooking my githeri. You’re welcome to come and eat it, if you like.”

Kuria grinned because that was the first time she’d ever invited him to eat her githeri. She left the clearing in quick strides, glancing back once to wave at him. He stared at the stump where she’d sat, and smiled.

Yes, he remembered. He remembered every time Shiro met him in this clearing. Every laugh, every smile, and every argument they’d had.

One of these days, Kuria thought, he was going to propose to Shiro right here, and she was going to say yes.

****

githeri – popular beans and maize traditional dish

kanga – colorful wrap

Read other Stories in the EA Friday Feature:

The Human Shrine

Never Complain, Never Explain

Dear Michael

The Haunting of Mystic Woods

*****

FREE READ – Download the EA Friday Feature August Anthology here.

EA Friday Feature – September Prompt #2

Friday Feature1

EA Friday Feature

Write a story of only 1,000 words using the prompt given.  Post it on your blog on Fridays and share posts from fellow bloggers participating in the feature.

Sept. Prompt #2:

Mystic woods
Once again we have a picture. The Mystic Woods! What story do you see here? The due date for this prompt is: September 11, 2015.
Remember the prompt is simply a guideline…let your creative juices flow and your imagination go wild.
Last Week’s Prompt Responses:
Rosemary – Nilichoandika
The Cursed Blessing – Flashes of Vice
Stay Tuned for the next series of stories…from the EA. ^_^

EA Friday Feature – September Prompt #1

The Prompt for September:

Friday Feature1

Write a story of only 1,000 words using the prompt given.  Post it on your blog on Fridays and share the posts of fellow bloggers participating in the feature.

September Prompt #1

Risk: What is your interpretation of Risk: A gamble on something

Last Prompt Responses:
Chocolate Cupcakes

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 3

Prompt #1Friday Feature1

Risk: What is your interpretation of Risk: A gamble on something

Life Outside the Box

Nalia.

Nicholas bit into the chocolate cupcake.

She was a temptress, how had she known he liked chocolate? They tasted good, heavenly.  She passed him a mug of coffee and he stared at the steaming liquid.  She was a magician too.  He hadn’t done grocery shopping yesterday.

“There’s a shop at the end of the road. I bought instant coffee there. I took money from your car.”

She grinned.

“I think it’s funny you have a jar of coins in your glove compartment.”

Nalia seemed to have gone exploring while he slept. Changed her clothes too…or her blouse.  She wore a clean white t-shirt that read ‘Wishing for the stars’, and the blue jeans she’d worn yesterday. They had water marks. She’d tried to clean out the mud. Her braids fell around her face, hiding the bruise that had turned darker than it was last night.

“I borrowed this too,” she said tugging on the t-shirt. She sat on the chair across him and leaned her elbows on thebreakfast table. “Found it in a closet on the second floor. Do you live here?”

Nicholas sipped the coffee, it wasn’t the best, but it was hot and sweet. Three healthy sips and the sleep cobwebs dissipated.

“No.” He looked around the kitchen. The previous owner had left a lot of things hanging around. “This is my first time here.”

Waa,” Nalia’s eyes went wide. “You’re one of those people, aren’t you?”

He didn’t like the tone she used, accusing…judging.

“What people?” he asked.

“You own a country house and an apartment, and a hut in the hills, and a bungalow by the beach.” Nalia counted his imaginary houses using her left hand, she shook her head. “No one lives in these houses but the rats and the stray cats. So, why own them?”

Nicholas chuckled. “You have a wild imagination. Do I look rich enough to throw money away that way?”

“So, are you a penny saver then?” she asked. “Ah…but the coins in a jar should answer that question. You know I noticed you don’t have proper furniture around here. There’s only that one mug you’re using, and I had to use a rolling pin to mix the cupcakes. Do you know how hard that is?”

“No.” Nicholas sipped his coffee. “You talk a lot.”

“It’s not my fault.” Nalia sighed and sat back in her seat. “I hang out with kids all day. When I meet adults, I get excited and try to use all my words.”

Nicholas laughed then.

She smiled.

“Finally,” she said. “I was a bit worried you’re those people who frown all the time. I feel better now. I wanted to thank you when you’re smiling.”

“Thank me?” Nicholas asked, reaching for another cupcake.

“For being my life saver last night,” she said, her tone changing. “You took a risk taking in a strange woman in the night.”

“You jumped out of nowhere,” Nicholas accused. “You could have been killed, what were you thinking?”

“I don’t think I was.” Nalia rubbed her arms with a sigh. “I wasn’t in the best of places last night. You must have been shocked.”

Nicholas studied her face. She had one of those slender faces. Clear dark brown eyes, and a ready smile. She was pretty, in a plain innocent way. The bruise on her left cheek bothered him.

“Did you get that bruise running in the woods?”

She reached up and touched it, her fingers trembling as they touched the tender skin.

“I got it from a bad habit.” She sighed and got up. “I’m sorry to have bothered you. I’ll leave now.”

“Wait,” Nicholas said surprising himself.

She paused, giving him a frown.

“I made you coffee and chocolate cupcakes. I don’t have money to pay you—

“That’s not why I’m asking you to wait.” Nicholas waved her worry away. “Please, sit down for a minute. If you stay a bit, I’ll drive you home.”

“No.” Nalia shook her head, the cheerful smile disappearing. “I—

“Fine, I won’t drive you home,” he said, wanting that ready smile back. “I’ll take you to the bus stop.”

“I don’t have money.”

“I’ll lend you bus fare.”

“How will I pay it back?”

“You can pay me with Mpesa.”

“I’m—

“Hey, it’s a Saturday.” Nicholas sat back in his seat and folded his arms against his chest. “Everyone takes a break on Saturday morning.”

“Yeah, not me,” Nalia clutched the back of her seat, looking out the window at the rising sun. “I need to get going. I did something last night.”

“Something bad?” he asked, curious as to what would make a woman go running in the woods so late.

“Something outside the box,” she said with a sigh. Her hands were shaking. She let go of the chair, and crossed her arms against her chest. “I know I look like I’m smiling right now, but…I’m a bit insane.”

“Should I be worried?” Nicholas asked.

Nalia stared at him and when he lifted a brow in question she burst out laughing.

“You can’t possibly be afraid of me, can you?” she asked.

“You said you’re insane,” Nicholas countered.

Nalia studied him for a moment, and then nodded.

“Yes, you’re right. I’m insane. I’ve gone crazy. You are the first poor soul I ran into after my descent into this state, so you’ve taken a risk I tell you. Who knows what I’ll do next.”

“My friend is coming over,” Nicholas said then reaching for another cupcake.

“What does that have to with this situation?”

Nicholas bit into the delicious chocolate cupcake. “I’m just letting you know someone will worry about me if I go missing.”

Nalia laughed again, and she pulled out the chair she’d vacated and sat down.

“I thought you were leaving?”

Nalia reached for his mug of coffee and made a show of taking a sip. She took one of the cupcakes and made a show of eating it too.

He frowned.

“I’m eating too, in case you think I’ve poisoned them. This way, you’re sure your friend will find two bodies.” Nalia swallowed quickly, and sipped his coffee again. “Mmm…these are really good.”

Nicholas chuckled and wondered what fate had decided. It seemed his risk taking last night had awarded him with a crazy woman who loved chocolate cupcakes.

What was he going to do with her?

***

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 2

Read other E. A Friday Features here:

 The Cursed Blessing

Fear of Falling

Rosemary

Bitch Better have my Money

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 2

Prompt: mail.google.com2

Use “Chocolate Cupcakes” in your 1,000 word story this time.

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 2

Wewe,” Nicholas said when he got out of his car. “Do you have a death wish?”

The woman in the rain didn’t speak. Her face was bruised, and there was blood on her pink blouse. Nicholas frowned, peering into the dark trees on each side of the road.

Had she been mugged?

Lord, was she a decoy?

He’d heard stories of hijackers making a plot to deceive unsuspecting drivers.

“Help me,” she said, before his paranoia could take root.

Nicholas cursed when she started to fall and he reached out to catch her before she hit the muddy ground.

“What the hell are you doing?” Nicholas asked as he drove through the rain.

His clothes were soaked and muddy thanks to the passed out woman in the passenger seat. Instead of driving back to the main road, and a hospital, he was headed to the villa, against his better judgment.

Shaking his head, Nicholas decided it was the rain. The thunder, the mud, the fucking non-visibility…he’d never been happier to see the shadow of a house as he was when he saw looming dark gates ahead.

Nicholas stopped his car, running out in the rain to go open the gates. His loafers slid on the grass, he ran back to the car, double soaked. This night was turning into a shit fest.

Thirty minutes later, Nicholas sat on an old armchair, watching the strange woman he’d saved. He’d found an old faded red blanket in a closet, and covered her with it. She was beautiful, in a rustic sort of way. He was used to women who valued looks: high-end style, down to fake eyelashes. It was interesting to have saved a woman who looked like she didn’t know what lip gloss was. She shivered under the blanket, and gave a soft sigh.

The bruise on her left cheek shone in the light.

His phone buzzed, and he reached for it like it was a lifeline.

“What am I reading?” his best friend asked. “You have a woman in that old creaky house? How is that a bad thing?”

“She jumped out of nowhere, in the rain,” Nicholas said. “She looks beat up. She has a bruise on her cheek.”

“Why didn’t you drive to the hospital?” Eli asked.

“It’s raining.” Nicholas thought that excuse sounded hollow, but it was the truth. He didn’t want to drive in that mess outside. “You’re a doctor, advise me what to do.”

“Ah ha,” Eli said with a chuckle. “You’ve always been impulsive. This falls under shit Nick would do.”

“Stop making fun of me. What do I do now? It’s almost ten o’clock at night.”

Eli sighed on the other end. “I guess you keep her overnight. I’ll drive out there in the morning and check on her if you like.”

“Would you?” Nicholas asked. “You’re the best, Eli.”

“You’ll owe me.”

“Yeah, add it to my tab.” Nicholas sighed. “What do I need to do? She’s shivering.”

“Keep her dry and warm.” Eli laughed. “That shouldn’t be too hard.”

Nicholas ended the call and dropped his cell phone on the table. He hoped Eli was right about keeping the woman dry.

That was all he could do for her, he thought.

Getting up, Nicholas stretched his arms above his head, the muscles on his shoulders protesting. He was tired. The day was too long already. He dropped his hands and looked around the old house. The electricity was on, thank goodness for that. Despite the complication on the couch, he’d managed to purchase a damn good looking house.
Nicholas decided everything would be fine after a shower and a good night’s sleep.

****

Nalia woke with a start. It was the chirping birds. The last time she’d heard chirping birds, she’d been in her mother’s house in the country. Nostalgia filled her, and she lay still staring at the unfamiliar ceiling.

Clutching the thin blanket over her, Nalia winced at the familiar sting on her left cheek. Malik’s gift last night when she’d tried to explain why there was no meat in his plate. The bastard was obsessed with meat. He didn’t taste anything else, but meat. Nalia sat up to escape her anger.

She’d lost her mind last night.

Crazy, she thought.

She’d taken the stew she’d been cooking and flung it at Malik in anger. When he’d screamed in shock, she’d run outside in Art 5the pouring rain and started running.
Right into the angry man with the black pickup truck, Nalia remembered, swinging her feet to the ground.

Nalia shook her head, and rubbed her eyes. She sighed and got up, looking around the elegant living room. It looked straight out of the movies, nice neat chairs, wide windows, everything seemed so…expensive.

Straight out of her dreams, Nalia sighed.

Her gaze dropped to her stained shirt, and her muddy jeans and bare feet. She was seriously out of place. Her insanity had taken her down a rabbit hole she didn’t quite understand.

Smelling her shirt, she decided to wander, and find out if the elegant house had a place to clean up before she met her rescuer.

****

The sweet scent of baking cake woke Nicholas. His stomach rumbled; reminding him he’d skipped dinner in lieu of travel. He’d eaten one sandwich before he’d gotten on the road. He threw off the sweater he’d used as a blanket and got out of bed.

His clothes were dry and wrinkled. He needed to get his suitcase from the car.
Remembering the woman he’d rescued in the pouring rain, Nicholas left the bedroom and followed the scent of baking. His stomach felt empty, it was humbling, the need to run into the kitchen and get a bite of whatever smelled that good.

He paused in the entrance to the kitchen at the sight that greeted him. Chocolate cupcakes on the counter, the source of the scent, they looked welcoming. Nicholas grinned and walked to the counter, reaching for a cupcake. He stopped when the woman he’d saved last night straightened, closing the electric oven, she was holding a fresh batch of chocolate cupcakes.

She held back a gasp, and he stared at her clean, freshly scrubbed face. A slow smile tugged her lips and she held out the cupcakes she held.

“Morning,” she said. “I’m Nalia. I hope you like chocolate.”

***

The Girl with the Golden Smile 1

****

Read other EA Friday Feature Posts:

The Birthday Killer

You’ll Hear from Me

EA Friday Feature Week #4 Prompt

The EA Friday Feature:

Friday Feature1

Write a story of only 1,000 words using the prompt given.  Post it on your blog on Fridays and share the posts of fellow bloggers participating in the feature.

Participating Bloggers:

  1. Nilichoandika
  2. Flashes of Vice
  3. Children of Destiny Books
  4. Love in Nairobi

Week #4

mail.google.com2

Use “Chocolate Cupcakes” in your 1,000 word story this time.

The story is due on Friday, 28th August, 2015. 

This is an open entry Feature.  If you’d like to participate, simply write the 1,000 word story using the prompt, and leave a comment on this post to let us know to share your story.

Week #3 EA Friday Feature Responses

1. Father’s Love

2. The Man in the Rain

3. The Girl with the Golden Smile-1

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 1

Friday Feature1Prompt:

Rain, Rain, Rain: mail.google.com

The Girl with the Golden Smile

Thunder rumbled, dark clouds rolled in, large drops of rain drummed the iron sheet roof.
Nalia wondered if the creator was starting a band. The drops kept falling in fierce beats on the roof, like a doomsday rhythm.

She kept chopping onions, her eyes stinging. Tears slid down her cheeks.

Nalia wasn’t sure where the tears from the onions juice and the ones caused by sorrow met and melded.
Wiping her arm over her cheeks she finished chopping the onions and put them in the cooking pot. Adding oil, she turned on the fire on the gas cooker and banged the pot on the stand.

No one could hear the noise anyway.

Taking a wooden cooking spoon from a drawer, her gaze lingered over the chopped vegetables laid out in bowls on the counter. Carrots, potatoes, green pepper, cilantro and tomatoes…she sighed.

There was no meat today.

He wasn’t going to be happy.

Nalia shrugged a short elegant movement of her slender shoulders. Yet, instead of relief, a heavy weight settled in her stomach.

Malik liked his meat.

The onions started sizzling in the pot and she stirred them, her gaze barely seeing the browning onions. Her thoughts were on her husband, Malik Kanda. They married early.  She’d been eighteen, Malik twenty.

Children really, none of them had known much about life then.

Seven years going and Malik had turned into a stranger. He’d grown distrustful, edgy and over-ambitious.

It was his new job, Nalia thought.

The one he’d gotten a year ago.

Malik was managing a construction company for her uncle. The job paid good money. Her uncle had told her Malik was paid almost sixty thousand shillings every month. Twice the amount he’d gotten before.  She’d been happy for Malik then, thinking their home would grow, benefit from the good fortune.  But no, their lives were deteriorating. The money had gone to Malik’s head, making him prideful. He paid for nothing in the house.

Nalia sighed and started adding vegetables to the onions. The peppers first, then the tomatoes, followed by the carrots and potatoes.

“What to do?” she asked the sizzling vegetables.

Reaching for a container of mixed spices, Nalia sprinkled the right amount over the mix in the cooking pot.
Her thoughts returned to her latest dilemma.  Malik’s indifference to the well-being of their house worried her. He never had money to contribute to their expenses, yet he wanted to eat and sleep in comfort. He wanted neat clothes in his closet, good food and a clean house.

Her funds were stretched.

She was a primary school teacher. She taught English in class six at the local primary school. Her salary was a quarter of what Malik made. Yet she paid rent, the house bills, water and electricity as well as bought food for the house.
The end of the month was pure hell. She could barely afford things in the house yet Malik’s standards had to be met.
Covering the stew, Nalia picked up the plates and spoons she’d set aside earlier. She went to their small living room and started setting the small table they used for dinner.

There was no meat today.

Nalia’s hand shook as she placed a spoon on Malik’s plate.

Thunder rumbled in the distance and she pressed a hand to her chest.  She didn’t want a beating tonight, but the harder it rained, the more the rain rapped on the roof, the faster her hopes vanished.

Malik’s bad temper thrived on nights like these…rainy nights when no one would hear her scream.

The front door opened and she froze, her gaze flying to the man entering the house. He was soaking wet.
Malik slammed the door closed and Nalia’s heart squeezed tight in her chest. The moment his dark gaze settled on her, her blood ran cold.

****

“Damn it.”

Nicholas slapped the steering wheel and peered out the windshield of his car. He couldn’t see in the thick rain. For a moment he wondered if pulling over was better. At least then, he’d be sure of not taking a wrong turn.
The wipers on his black Isuzu pickup worked overtime, trying to keep the windshield clear.

The clock on the dashboard said it was almost nine o’clock in the evening. The map on his phone said he had thirty more minutes before he would arrive at the Villa Matiga. The sixty year old house he’d bought from a retiring expatriate. He wanted to renovate the villa and put it up for rent. His third jaunt into the real estate industry. So far, he hadn’t gone wrong, but this late night trips were murder.

“I should have started out earlier,” he murmured.

He was a lawyer by profession and worked for a successful law firm in the city of Nairobi. The pay was good the lifestyle exhausting, but he was happy. At thirty-two, his life was on the right track.  To a point, he thought when he remembered his girlfriend had gotten married a week ago to one of his wealthy clients.

The bitch, he thought.

She’d strung him a long for three whole years while she worked hard to hook a bigger fish. She was now a Runda estate housewife. Nicholas couldn’t help hoping she got fat and ugly soon. He cursed under his breath.

She’d turned him into a bitter bastard.

He drove over a bump too fast. The map on his phone said he needed to make a right turn soon, but where?  Peering outside, he frowned when all he saw were trees and bushes.

Great, Villa Martiga had to exist in the middle of nowhere.

Well, it wasn’t really nowhere; the Ngong area was turning into a prestigious area to live.

He braked hard when the dirt road he was supposed to take appeared to the right.  Thank God there were no vehicles behind him. He was driving like a maniac tonight. Taking the right turn, excitement swept through him and he pressed the gas pedal harder, eager for warmth.  A dark shadow streaked onto the road, and he hit the brakes in panic, afraid he was going to hit the woman ahead.

Read other EA Friday Feature Entries;

  1. Father’s Love
  2. The Man in the Rain