Koya’s Choice – 13

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.

“What?”

“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.”

Koya laughed.

“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.

“I’m busy.”

“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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Koya’s Choice – 12

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.

She smiled.

“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.”

Charlie winced.

“You were always so very sarcastic.  I missed that too.”

Koya sighed.

“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!!

Koya’s Choice – 11

Koya’s Choice – 11

11 – I Miss You, I Hate You, I Love You

Koya glanced up to see Adele and a man dressed in a white t-shirt and jeans walking toward them.

“Oh no, here comes Addie,” she said with a groan.

Kim chuckled and bumped her arm with his shoulder.

“She’s harmless,” he teased.

Koya shook her head and would have responded but Kim held on to her hand and pushed off the table.

“Koya,” he said his tone too quiet.

Frowning at his serious voice, she looked at him and found his gaze focused on the man with Adele.  Returning her attention to the two approaching, she studied the man walking beside Adele.

He moved with assured confidence.  He laughed and she gripped Kim’s arm in recognition.

It couldn’t be.

Her heart filled with apprehension, it felt as though her heart was going to burst out of her chest.  A sudden urge to run in the opposite direction had her shaking.

“Koya,” Adele greeted with excitement.  Her eyes were shining in triumph.  She’d finally found a weakness.  Koya would have happily strangled her right then.

“Guess who has come to our little gala.  Mr. Charles Dhali came in person.  Can you imagine?  I was just thanking him for his generous contribution today.  I insisted that you would want to thank him too.”

Koya was sure Adele was put in this world to torture her.

In which planet would she want to thank Charlie for anything?  Charlie, the bastard who chewed on her heart and spat it out like garbage.  This Charlie with a smug smile on his ridiculously handsome face….

What would he do if she shoved the bunch of flowers on the stand beside him into his mouth?

“Hello, Koya Kalahari.  How have you been?” Charlie greeted in a voice that seemed to travel through her.

“Oh, you know each other,” Adele said, still smiling.  “Good, Mr. Dhali, I will leave you in Koya’s capable hands.  We shall talk later.”

Adele patted Charlie’s arm and walked away with quick strides.  Koya could barely breathe.  She doubted she could keep standing if it weren’t for the tight grip she had on Kim’s arm.  How was it possible that Charlie still had such power over her?

“Don’t I even get a hello?”

“What are you doing here?” Koya heard herself ask.  Her anger was so strong; she feared she would break in half at the force of it.

“It’s a gala,” Charlie replied with that stupid smile that showed off perfect teeth.  It seemed his love for sweet things hadn’t destroyed them yet.

Koya turned away from Charlie then.  She needed to get a hold of the bubbling emotions inside her.

“At least call before you show,” Kim said, his arm going around Koya’s waist.  She was glad for his strength.

“Best friend, you won’t give me a hug either?” Charlie asked his tone full of sarcasm.

“It’s difficult.  We haven’t been best friends for so long,” Kim said, his tone tinged with mild amusement.

Charlie’s gaze narrowed.

“Well, sorry to surprise you with my presence.  But—, I really wanted to see you guys.”

“You chose the wrong time,” Kim said.

“It’s never the wrong time with friends,” Charlie countered. 

“Strange, how long has it been, Charlie, since you left—

“Leave, Charlie,” Koya interrupted Kim.

She couldn’t take the sight of him.  She just couldn’t listen to him, with that voice—so many memories returning.

“Go back to where you came from,” she said.

“Come on, Koya,” Charlie said with a smile.  “I’m starting to have fun.”

“Please,” Koya heard herself beg.

Nausea rose and she took in air to control it.  She’d be darned if she lost control in front of Charlie.

“You don’t have to contribute here.  Your money is not needed, so leave.”

“Ask me anything else,” Charlie said.

“I don’t want anything else,” Koya said.

Koya was sure if she could physically carry Charlie out of this field, she would.  But then there was the intense need to run into his arms and hug him, how she’d missed him, missed seeing him…she shook her head.  The best thing was for him to leave.

***

Did she need to keep holding on to Kim?

Charlie scowled.

It was taking all he had not to walk up to her and grab her hand away from Kim’s bulging bicep.  They made such a pretty picture, it annoyed him.  The tall muscular man, supporting the graceful damsel in distress.  Charlie’s gaze met Koya’s angry eyes and he adjusted his thoughts.  Damsel wasn’t right; she looked more like a furious valkyrie with fire burning deep inside.  God she was beautiful.  Her skin brown and warm in the sun, her braids falling down her back, the wind teased them gently.  Her tantalizing figure wrapped in green fabric, made him think of mermaids in the deep sea, seducing men to their deaths.

The woman was driving him crazy.

What did she mean by leave?  He wasn’t going anywhere when another man was staking a claim on his territory.  Thinking of her in Kim’s arms was going to drive him to murder.

Were they together, he wondered.

She looked comfortable by Kim’s side.  And the way Kim’s arm wrapped around her waist, there was no awkwardness.  Rage blew through him like a storm.

He looked around the busy field and gave Koya a small smile.

“I’m not making this easy for you two.  I’m staying all day, my love.  You’d better practice your smile, you’re going to have to flash it when I’m handing you a check for your precious foundation.”

Turning away before he punched Kim for his betrayal, Charlie headed for the drinks tent hoping they were selling something stronger than juice and punch.

***

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Koya’s Choice – 10

And so…We’ll meet again….

Saturday morning dawned with bright sunshine streaming into the Dhal mansion.  Charlie came down the stairs in a cheerful mood, a spring in every step he took.  No one could burst his happy bubble, he thought as he jumped down the last step.  Today was the day he would get to see her again.  He felt as though he were busting at the seams with excitement.

Charlie walked through the elegant living room, and entered the dining room with a wide smile.

An older lady in a pink apron was setting up breakfast at the side table.  He walked up to her and hugged her in greeting.

“Morning, Mama Nora.”

“Morning Charlie,” she said looking at him with a narrowed gaze.  “You are about to burst in glee.  Did something good happen this morning?”

“Can’t a guy be happy?” Charlie asked as he poured himself a cup of coffee.  He put two spoons of sugar and stirred with rushed impatience.  Taking the cup, he took it with him to the chair at the head of the dining table.

“When are you going to wear a proper suit for work?  I think abroad has spoiled you, son,” Mama Nora asked with a small shake of her head.

She had been a part of the Dhali household for ages.  Charlie could remember her chasing after him to wear his underwear when he was six years old.  Those days, she’d been younger and quicker than him.  Now, she was heavier, and the years had slowed her down.  Time surely moved fast.  Glancing at the white t-shirt and the navy blue jeans he wore, he grinned at her.

“It’s Saturday.  Today is playtime; my minions are working for me instead.”

“What your father would say, Charlie,” Mama Nora said.

“I doubt am a concern at the moment.  He’s at the coast trying to catch pirates for fun,” Charlie teased.  Not that he knew what his father was up to.  Isaac Dhali was a mysterious man.

Mama Nora laughed and brought him a plate of toast and scrambled eggs.  She brought a glass of orange juice as well, and he sipped coffee as she stepped back to the side table.

“When are you going to get married so that I can fuss on grandchildren?” she asked as he picked up a spoon to eat his eggs.

“You women, can’t a guy enjoy his bachelorhood?  It’s good to enjoy life, have some fun, why add wives and children to the mix?”

“It’s the natural order of life, Charlie,” Mama Nora said, her tone matter of fact.  “How else do you think the world goes on?”

“My refusing to get married hasn’t stopped the world from going on,” Charlie replied.  “And don’t tell me about tradition, Mama Nora.  That is a very lame excuse for things.”

“Are you telling me you don’t want a wife?” Mama Nora asked.

Charlie took a bite of his eggs, his gaze on his nanny.  She probably thought he was strange for saying this.  In her world, children married when they were old enough.  She had two grandchildren from her daughter Nora.  In his world, marriage felt like a huge commitment.  One he wanted to make to only one woman in the world.  Would Mama Nora understand that?

“I’m only saying that no one should marry for the sake of getting a wife.  I want the right wife, the right woman so to speak.”

“You must have chosen then,” Mama Nora said with a smile.  “Who is this right woman?”

Charlie smiled and shook his head.  “She doesn’t know it yet.  Stop digging for gossip now.  I had better not hear about this when I get to the end of Ndwaru Road.  Gossip mongers around here should work for intelligence.”

Nora laughed, covering the dishes at the side table.

“Where’s mum?” Charlie asked.

“You know her.  She’s lazy waking up in the morning.  I’ll get the paper for you.”

Mama Nora left the dining room.

Charlie was thinking about the gala to be held at the Riruta Catholic Church grounds when his mother walked in.

Ashley was in her dressing gown, her hair tied back with a bandanna.  Her eyes were still bleary but her beauty shone through.  Even in her late fifties, Ashley remained slight and held herself straight.  She looked ten years younger than her actual fifty-six.

She let a delicate yawn escape and came toward him.  She stopped by his chair, rubbing his head affectionately.  She chose the chair to his right.

“You’re quite the woman, mum,” Charlie said in greeting.  “Had enough sleep?”

“No, and don’t tease,” Ashley said.  She picked up his coffee cup and took a sip.  She made a face as she swallowed his coffee.  “That much sugar in anything will kill you, darling.”

“It’s down by a spoon,” Charlie said.  “You should congratulate me.”

“Only when it’s no spoon at all,” Ashley said.  “You’re looking handsome.  Where are you going?”

Charlie grinned.  “On a hunt.”

Ashley gave him a comical expression she wouldn’t show anyone outside the house and he laughed.

“A hunt?” she asked.

“Yes,” Charlie replied.  “Guess where.”

“Save me and tell me.”

“There’s a delightful thing called a PW Gala going on today at Riruta church.  One Adele Kouga, wife of our county’s MP invited Dhal Corp. to attend. The foundation is courting sponsors.”

“Oh no,” Ashley widened her eyes.  “I know you’re not going there out of the goodness of your heart, Charles Dhali.  Tell your mother who you’re going to see.”

“Hey,” Charlie protested.  He’d never tell her, but honestly, was it so obvious he was going to see someone?

“I’m an investor,” Charlie said.  “PW is a good foundation.  A bunch of women campaigning for equality and education, just imagine all those gorgeous independent women.  I thought you said you want to see me married?”

“To a nice girl,” Ashley said, still sipping his coffee.

Mama Nora walked in then carrying a newspaper.  She placed it at Charlie’s left elbow and moved to pour Ashley coffee.

“Mama Nora, my son is going to hunt for women.”

Nora burst out in a laugh.  “He just said he’s not getting married.”

“I think he’s going out to eat nyama choma and have drinks with the guys.  Meanwhile, he’s putting his mother on.”

Charlie pushed his plate away and gulped down his orange juice.  He stood up and took the newspaper.

“Mum, you know I love you.”  He leaned to kiss her cool cheek.

“Yes,” Ashley said.  “I love you too, but you’re still a player, Charlie.  I pity the woman who marries you dear.”

***

Tents were up, and seats arranged in neat rows.  The stage was set up, and the DJ was setting up his equipment.  Ushers were in place, the decorations and Power to Women banners were also in the right places.

Koya ticked her list with a satisfied nod and headed for the buffet tents.  Guests were already arriving; they mingled in the cool tents, dressed in fine summer wear.

Koya was glad she’d decided to go shopping the evening before.  She’d found a pretty emerald dress that flowed in silky yards to her feet.  A pair of comfortable, matching green kitten heels made sure that her dress didn’t sweep the ground.  She’d let her braids down and chosen a green beaded necklace with a carved amulet for jewelry.

Koya pushed up her sunglasses and looked around the sunny green field in search of her friends.  A frown danced on her forehead and she was just about to start making calls when she spotted them.

“I’m glad you guys made it,” she said in playful sarcasm when they reached her.

“It’s Saturday,” Ashi complained.  “Have you seen traffic on Ngong Road, and then there is Kawangware.  I thought we’d never get here.   Those PSVs are really trying, be glad we made it at all.”

“So dramatic, alright, you’re forgiven,” Koya said as she hugged Ashi.  “You could have slept over my place.”

“Nic couldn’t, he had to work,” Ashi explained.

Koya turned to the handsome man standing beside Ashi.  “Hey Nic, good to see you.”

She accepted his hug and then Hana’s.  When it came to Kim, she ignored him and instead listened to Nic.

“The place looks amazing,” Nic complimented.

“Thanks Nic, you’re such a gentleman.  Ashi you’d better take care, I might steal him,” Koya teased.

Nic grinned and wrapped an arm around Ashi’s shoulders.

“I’d better take Hana and Ashi to get something to drink,” Nic said.

“Sure, sure, you’ll love the buffet tables.  “Hana, Wahu is performing, you should make it over to the entertainment tent.”

Hana nodded as she followed Nic and Ashi.

Koya suspected they were running away so that she and Kim could talk.  She hadn’t seen Kim since he’d told her about Charlie.

As if he was reading her mind, he said, “You’re not going to be angry with me your whole life.”

“I can try,” Koya said, turning to head to the walkway that led to the podium where the speeches would be held.

She made a show of arranging the flowers that were already set in pots.

Kim followed her.  “Talk to me, Koya.  What are you really angry about?”

Koya couldn’t understand how Kim knew her so well.  It was as if he had insight into her darkest parts.  Of course, she wasn’t angry with Kim.  Sighing, she shook her head and stared at the lilies before her.

“I’m angry with myself,” she said.

“Why?”

“Because,” Koya shook her head and turned to look at Kim.  “I can’t believe how scared I am right now.”

Kim placed a hand on her bare shoulder.  “Why are you scared?”

Koya met his gaze.

“Don’t ask that when you know.  You saw how I reacted on Tuesday.  I wanted to scream bloody murder when you told me Charlie is back.  People aren’t allowed to do that.  They can’t leave chaos behind and come right back years later.  They should give warning to the people they left behind.  Do you see what I am saying, Kim?”

“Who said you have to see him?” Kim asked.  “You can stay in your corner of the world and pretend he’s not here.”

“That will only work so far,” Koya said.

Koya stared down her feet.

“It doesn’t matter where he is or what he is doing in the city.  I can’t help wondering what he’s thinking.  What he’s planning, why did he do that?  It’s annoying because he’s so close and I’m tempted to drive by his house on the hill, call him…I’m pathetic and stupid.

“Hey,” Kim said, reaching out, he lifted her chin up with a finger.  “Stop that.  Don’t hate on Koya Kalahari.  I’ll have you know she’s a great woman, strong, independent and very beautiful.”

Koya chuckled.  “Wow, you’re a loyal friend.  Where is this Koya Kalahari?  I’d like to meet her.”

“Well,” Kim made a show of looking around the field.  “She was around here a minute ago.  Where did she go—?

Koya punched Kim lightly on his chest.  “Ouch, so violent…Alright, Miss Koya Kalahari, chin up.  It’s okay to be a little worried.  Point is, you don’t have to suffer alone.  I’m here, so is Ashi, Hana and even Nic.  Hmm…so smile.”

Koya sighed and hugged him for the encouragement.  Feeling a little lighter, she pulled back and took his hand as they walked to the closest tent.  She leaned on one of the tables.

“I should be over him by now.”

Kim leaned on the table beside her.

“To tell you the truth, I think you won’t have the answer to that until you meet him face to face.  Meanwhile, don’t think about it.”

Koya filed away that comment and leaned on Kim’s right arm.  He was a rock she didn’t think she’d ever let go of.  “You’re a good friend, Kim.  I owe you a lot.”

“Just your friendship, nothing else,” Kim replied.

***

Standing across the field at the registration tent, Charlie felt bile rise up his throat at the sight of the couple leaning on the table.  Did they have to stand so close?  And what was with Koya mooning into that bastard’s eyes?  Clenching his hands into tight fists, Charlie fought the urge to stalk across the field and separate them.

She was his, damn it, no one else could have her.

A woman in an elaborate Kitenge ensemble walked up to him, blocking his view.  Her head dress momentarily distracting him from the annoying scene ahead.  He wondered how it stayed on the woman’s head.  A bird could nest in it quite comfortably, but who was he to comment.

“Mr. Dhali, how nice of you to grace our gala,” the woman said in greeting.  “We are very honored you came personally.  My name is Adele Kouga, at your service.”

Charlie nodded, his gaze straying back to the couple still leaning on the table.

“It’s a wonderful foundation, of course I had to come and show my support,” he said in a distracted tone.

Adele turned to follow his gaze and gave a knowing smile.  He groaned inward at what she must be thinking but he was beyond controlling his jealousies.

“Ah,” Adele said.  “Come, I must introduce you to the foundation’s Chair.  She’ll be pleased to meet you, Mr. Dhali.  Your corporation has done so much for us.  I’m sure she’ll want to thank you personally.”

Charlie’s eyes widened at the realization that the woman meant Koya.  Could it be this easy…he smiled.  The gods were on his side today.  This woman didn’t deserve the bird on her head dress, he adjusted.  Taking her hand, he smiled with charm and calculation.

“Please, let’s meet this Chairwoman,” Charlie said.  “Though, I’m sure she won’t be as charming as you’ve been, Mrs. Kouga.”

Adele glowed.  “You flatter an old woman.”

Charlie grinned as they walked toward Koya.  “Hardly old, Mrs. Kouga.  You’re absolutely lovely today.”

“My, it is true,” Adele said, her tone light.  “You are charming, Mr. Dhali.  Promise that you will come to dinner one of these days.  My home is five minutes away, and my family would be delighted to meet you.”

“I’m sure, Mrs. Kouga,” Charlie said, without committing. 

He knew what it meant to commit to Mrs. Kouga.  His mother was living proof of such commitments.  He doubted Ashley saw it.  The numerous favors and liaisons for friends in high places, Charlie shuddered to think how deep it had gotten with his mother.  He pushed thoughts of his troubles away and concentrated on the present.  He’d been waiting ages to talk to Koya Kalahari.

***

**Nyama Choma – Barbecue

To be continued….Thank you for reading ^_^!

<-Previous Chapter

Koya’s Choice – 9

The Odds and Ends…daily life…

Late Friday afternoon, Koya sat at her desk in her office reading the contract Mahali Travels had sent her.  A soft knock came, and she glanced up to see Hana walk in carrying a rolled up poster.  Koya smiled in greeting at her cousin.  Hana came to her desk and unrolled the poster she held.

“This is the final Power to Women poster,” Hana said.  “Adele finally sent over the rest of the details concerning the education project.  Unfortunately, she also sent me the line up for the gala tomorrow.  We all need to be present for the launch ceremony she’s planned.”

“I thought it was optional,” Koya said, her frown deepening.  She’d been looking forward to her first lazy weekend in months.

“We were going to have a barbecue,” Koya complained.

“Adele has pulled out all the stops,” Hana said with a sigh.  “She’s invited too many important guests for us to ignore the gala.  Instead of a barbecue, we can invite Nic and Ashi to the gala instead.  It will be fun.”

“Adele is doing this on purpose,” Koya pushed her chair back and got up, walking around her desk to join Hana.

She helped Hana open the poster, anchoring it with a glass rabbit paperweight.  The words Power to Women Foundation were emblazoned across the glossy paper in vibrant green and yellow colors.  The poster was simple, straight to the point, announcing the date and time of the fundraising gala.  Koya was glad to have Hana working with her in the foundation.  Otherwise such simple things would become cause for war between her and Adele Kouga.

“The poster is pretty good, you’ve outdone yourself,” Koya praised her cousin.

“Don’t worry about Adele,” Hana said as Koya returned to her seat and she rolled up the poster.  “This aside, what are you reading?”

“The contract from Mahali Travels,” Koya said, picking up the documents as she sat in her chair.  “Hana, do you remember the name Charlie’s family uses for their business?”

“Dhal,” Hana said.  “I heard his mother started it.  You should know this.”

“I have blocked out everything concerning that family,” Koya confessed.  “But, this travel agency seems to be part of Dhal.”

Koya shook her head at the thought.  She had grown Avenue Advertising with one purpose in mind, to prove the Dhali family wrong about her and her family.  She’d done everything in her power to escape contact with the Dhali family in the business world.  She wasn’t about to start working with them now.

Hana placed the rolled up poster on the edge of the desk and came around to stand beside Koya.  She studied the documents on the desk, picking out the company details.

“Mahali Travels is renting space at the Dhal Tower.  That doesn’t mean Dhal owns them,” Hana argued.

“Either way, being housed at Dhal Tower means meeting the Dhali family,” Koya said.  “Call me paranoid, but I prefer to stay millions of miles from them.”

“It’s business, Koya,” Hana advised, her tone gentle.  “A five year contract for Ave Ad is worth anything.  The revenue it will bring in is unmatchable.  Working with Mahali Travel will build our reputation.  Who cares where Mahali is housed, they’re a huge account.”

Koya rubbed her forehead with a sigh.

“Gosh, when you put it that way, I sound like a child.”  Koya smiled at her cousin.  “You’re right.  I’m just being ridiculous.”

Maybe she was being too cautious.  She’d spent the past eight years ignoring anything to do with Charles Dhali, and suddenly this week was full of him.  She couldn’t turn without a mention of the Dhal Corporation.  She’d been living in oblivion until Kim mentioned Charlie’s return.  Now, she couldn’t escape him.

Hana squeezed her left shoulder.  “Sign the papers, Koya, for the sake of our company and not because of the past.”

Koya nodded in understanding and reached for her pen.  Hana was right.  Life went on.

“Alright, I’ll stop being paranoid,” Koya said.

She signed the designated areas and stamped them with a flourish.  Placing the contracts in an open briefcase to her right, she closed it with a snap and smiled.  She stretched her arms up, relieving tired shoulder muscles with a small sigh.

“We should celebrate,” Hana said.  “How about tomorrow after the gala, we go out.”

“We can have a party at the house,” Koya suggested.  “The day will be so tiring already.  Let’s chill out at home, nothing on our minds but drinking with friends and eating nyamchom**.”

“I’ll call Ashi,” Hana said with a nod.  “So she plans Nic the doctor.”

Koya loved her cousin’s enthusiasm.  “I heard there will be local musicians at the gala which should be exciting tomorrow.”

“Yes, even if Adele is irritating, she does know how to get a crowd over to a shindig,” Hana said with grudging respect.  “We can ignore the pomp and circumstance that comes from being an MP’s wife and take the rest.”

Koya laughed at that.  Adele could be exhausting when it came to politics.  She lived, breathed and slept in it.  She couldn’t be blamed.

“You know she wants your position,” Hana pointed out.

“I know,” Koya said.  “Sometimes I want her to have it.  Being chairlady of the foundation can be exhausting.  But, imagine the direction the PW would take in Adele’s hands.  I like how we are right now.  All our projects go through, and the members are enthusiastic.  Dear Adele will have to chill out.”

Hana went around the desk and sat in the visitor’s chairs.

“Why do you do it, Koya?  I mean if it gets hard, quit.”

“Should I say I do it to empower women,” Koya said with a small chuckle.  “I don’t know Hana; I love what we do for women.”

“Such an iron woman,” Hana teased.

Koya made a show of sitting with her shoulders squared, and winked.

“Why don’t you tell me the program tomorrow?” Koya asked.  “I’m sure Adele called everyone to come, but forgot there is actual planning to be done.”

Hana got her Blackberry from her pocket and they started planning the gala activities.

***

To the next chapter – >

Thank you for reading…you beautiful person.

<-Previous Chapter

Koya’s Choice – 8

Chapter 8 – I Remember, Do you?

Nairobi had changed in eight years. The city had grown, expanding its wings to the surrounding towns, boasting bigger and better buildings. Charles Dhali found it exciting. He’d grown too. Eight years in the outside world, learning business under his father, he’d had no choice but to grow and adapt. Isaac Dhali was his father, but when it came to making money, the man turned into an unrelenting tyrant. His father had once told him the only way he would inherit anything from him, was if Charles held a larger net worth than Isaac did.

Charles scoffed.

Who was he to take a challenge lying down?

He’d taken that challenge up with determination and built Dhal Corp. Dhal Corp dealt in real estate, tourism and owned two resorts. Sadly, he’d made a mistake with his first business decision when he’d chosen to partner with his mother. Ashley Dhali owned half of his company because she’d helped bring up the business when he had been abroad.

Doing business with his mother was dangerous. Ashley Dhali made enemies easily. The moment he’d arrived in Kenya, he’d offered to buy her out, but she was being stubborn. It made him suspicious.

Charles sighed and shook his head staring out the windows. He needed a driver these days. Traffic was insane and he still hadn’t acclimated yet. He was on his way to Westlands, his driver speeding along Waiyaki Way at seven in the morning. A starbus stopped abruptly ahead of them and his driver expertly navigated around. Yes, learning to drive around this town was going to take him a few weeks.

His thoughts returned to the company. It was taking him longer than he had expected to orient himself with the company’s employees. Today, he was meeting the managers of all the businesses owned under Dhal Corp. Glancing at his watch, he decided it would be good to see who was on time.

Dhal Corp’s headquarters was housed in a twelve-story building in Westlands that boasted ocean blue glass. His mother owned the land. He’d funded the building. It had taken him four years to finish building. They had been four years of struggling with building inspectors, sourcing building materials, and dealing with a meticulous contractor. Dhal Corp used the top four floors as corporate offices. The rest were rented out to businesses, two of them belonging to Dhal Corporation.

He didn’t have time to admire the building when the driver stopped at the main entrance. Six men in neat dark suits waited at the front. They hurried to him when he got out of the car. He greeted them with a nod, his gaze fixed on a short man with a beer belly who stood in the back, behind the eager managers.

“Everything is as you ordered,” the man said when he lifted a brow in question.

“Are you sure it was delivered anonymously, Mr. Kimei?” Charles asked.

“Yes. I bought the tree myself, no names on the receipts. My people carried the package into the offices. Why a tree instead of flowers, sir?” Mr. Kimei asked.

Charles smiled imagining the reaction the tree would have gotten.

“That’s for me to know,” Charles said.

Mr. Kimei hurried away, and Charles started into the building followed by the remaining five men.

“Jack, how are we doing on the title deeds in Thika?”

“They were delivered yesterday. I had our lawyers check them and they are in order,” Jack Mathuva answered.

Ashley considered Jack her right hand man. Charles was inclined to agree, as Jack was nothing but helpful in his transition to CEO, still it was too early.

“Then construction should be underway,” Charles said. “The contractor has everything he needs.”

“They have started work, sir,” Jack replied.

They had reached the elevator and Jack pushed the button so that doors slid open. Once they were in the elevator, Charles turned to a short, pudgy man in his late thirties, named Peter Kosgelle.

“How is property management working?”

“Our systems are running smoothly. We are at ninety-five percent on rent collection, and maintenance. I have hired a new team of agents for the new properties. They’ll focus on sourcing new clients. Apart from a few incidents with particular renters, everything is fine,” Peter said.

Charlie held Peter’s gaze. He didn’t sense deception in Peter’s words. The man was relatively honest. He had spent hours analyzing the financials on Dhal Properties and found no problems in their accounts. The business was making a satisfactory profit. For now, Peter was good enough for the job.

“I doubt it’s as easy as you make it sound,” Charlie said. “I would like it if you pushed that ninety-five percent to one hundred percent. We’re a business after all. If someone hasn’t paid their rent, handle it, Peter.”

“Yes, Charlie,” Peter said with a smile.

The elevator doors opened on the first floor to reveal a neat lobby with the words Dhal Properties on the wall ahead. Peter bid everyone goodbye and exited the elevator. Charlie watched the man greet his employees, his tone warm. The elevator doors closed and Charlie turned his attention to the man on his right.

This man was tall, and muscular, like an American football player. It seemed absurd to have him in a suit when he would be quite at home on the field playing a sport.

“Mahali Travel has too many problems, Stanford and is part of the reason I came back here. What is going on, Stanford?” Charlie asked.

“We were undergoing massive staffing changes,” Stanford said.

“Staffing?” Charlie shook his head. “There are so many qualified travel agents out there. If you want, I will hold interviews for you.”

“The staff we have now is quite capable,” Stanford said.

Charlie sighed. “Mahali Travel is getting an external audit. I’m telling you because it has already begun and I want your cooperation.”

Stanford’s jaw clenched and Charles narrowed his gaze at that. So, there was something going on at the travel agency.

“No one is immune to investigations, Stanford. I have investors who want answers, and they want them now.”

The elevator doors opened on the third floor and Stanford got out. Charles couldn’t abide incompetence. The moment the auditors revealed that Stanford was useless, Charles would send him out the door.

Jack started to press the button to close the elevator. Charles’ gaze was on the different posters gracing the lobby at Mahali Travel. Each advertising a vacation spot. He wondered if it wasn’t too clinical…then he saw her.

She was walking toward the elevator. Her braids were in a ponytail, her body trim and shapely in a short pink skirt suit. Her skin the color of butterscotch, he remembered the feel of it against his fingers. She smiled at her companion, and his heart slammed in his chest. The elevator doors closed and he jammed his index finger on the open button, for the doors to open again.

It was her. He knew it. The doors took their time to open and by they time they slid wide, she was nowhere to be found. She must have taken the stairs.

“Something wrong, Charlie?” Jack asked from inside the elevator.

Charlie sighed, glancing at the closing stairway door, he shook his head and returned to the elevator. He didn’t offer an explanation to the three men in the elevator. The elevator resumed its way up and once they reached the twelfth floor, they all exited and headed to his new office at the end of the hallway.
Charles opened the door, his gaze lingering over the new sign mounted on the door. It read Charles Dhali, C.E.O. Dhal Corporation, such simple elegance for so much responsibility.

He shrugged his jacket off and dumped it on a white arm chair. Unlike his managers in their neat suits, he preferred more relaxed attire. Dressed in a grey polo shirt and dark slacks, he put his hands in his pockets and went to stand by the floor length windows.

Behind him, the three men settled themselves in the chairs around his mahogany desk. Charles didn’t move to take his seat behind that desk. He remained by the windows, staring at the city around him.

“I want to know what Stanford is hiding in the Travel Agency,” Charles said.

“Our investigation is hitting road blocks. We can’t find three of the four previous accountants. Money is flowing, witnesses are too absent,” Jack explained.

Charles turned away from the view and glanced at the man seated beside Jack. His name was Nyagah. Nyagah was a tall, thin man. He carried his height well, and wore glasses that were always perched on the tip of his nose. Charles liked him for his meticulous nature.

“Nyagah, document every bit of information you get out of that travel agency. Submit it to me first, even if you have to find me at the house on Ndwaru.”

“The report will be with you in two weeks,” Nyagah promised.

“If there is anything untoward happening in that agency, Jack, I want those people finished,” Charles said.

“We’ll get it done, Charlie,” Jack said and stood up. He followed Nyagah out of Charles’ office, making sure to close the door behind him.

Charles moved to his desk then, and took a seat on the imposing executive chair to face the remaining man. Archer Weru, an average man with unremarkable features. He had an uncanny ability to remain unnoticed in a crowd. People tended to ignore him during important conversations. His services were immeasurable to Charles.

“I hope you have good news for me,” Charles said with a sigh.

Archer gave him an odd smile. “Well, she’s a skilled businesswoman. She seems happy enough.”

“I remember how pretty she was when she smiled. Does she smile?”

“She does,” Archer said.

Archer placed an envelope on the desk. Charles took it and opened it. He pulled out photographs.

“I took those last night at the club she owns with her friend. That’s her cousin Hana and—

“Ashi,” Charles said. “I remember. I want to see her. I thought I saw her downstairs at the travel agency.”

“You could have,” Archer said. “Her advertising agency is handling promotion for the travel agency. They are on the verge of signing a three-year contract.”

“Really,” Charlie said. That was indeed good news. If she succeeded, he would have access to her.

Archer continued his report.

“She spends her daily hours working at Avenue Advertising, some evenings at the club. On weekends, she devotes her time to the property she inherited from her father on Ndwaru road. She’s purchased two parcels of land surrounding her father’s land and expanded the original house. That is where she stays.”

Koya Kalahari, Charles thought, a woman after his heart.

He smiled at the pictures of her hugging Ashi, toasting a drink with her cousin, and then of her dancing. He wondered if she still thought about him.

“What would you like me to do next?” Archer asked.

“Keep tabs on her for me,” Charles said.

Archer nodded in understanding and stood up. He paused as he turned to leave, glancing back at Charles.

“What?” Charles asked.

“There’s a man she spends a lot of time with,” Archer said. “They call him Kim. I thought that might be of interest.”

Archer pulled out a picture from his jacket pocket and handed it to Charles.
Charles stared at the picture of Koya and Kim at a restaurant. They seemed so homey together. He gritted his teeth and nodded his thanks to Archer. Archer left and once the door closed, Charles tossed the picture of Kim and Koya aside. He picked up the one with Koya smiling with her glass in the air.

“Koya,” he said in a quiet tone. “We have unfinished business. Why did you never answer my letters?”

****

To be continued…thank you for reading ^_^

Previous Chapters

Koya’s Choice – 7

Koya’s Choice – 7

Chapter 7 -Besties forever

The Kalaha club along Naivasha road was Koya’s pride and joy. It had taken her two years to open it. Koya could still hear her father protesting against opening the club. She’d managed to convince him to accept the idea. Now the club was thriving and she loved visiting it after hours with Ashi and Hana.

Tonight was no different from any other night, she thought as she entered the main entrance. The big burly men at the door had the ruthless job of regulating who got in. Young high school kids could get the pope in trouble and she was not ready to face fines for selling to underage kids.

The main floor was packed with people, some on the dance floor, others having drinks at the tables. The D.J. was great. He’d better be, she thought, thinking about the fee she paid per session. She watched a young man speed to a table with a tray laden with drinks, maneuvering expertly, and she wondered if she could pull it off if she tried.

Shaking her head, Koya headed to a discreet staircase that took her upstairs to a second floor. This area was quiet, and offered a more relaxed atmosphere. The seating was sectioned off: there were comfortable red couches and glass tables. Koya smiled when she saw Hana Wangu and Ashi Mwende seated at the couches by the window. They were laughing, enjoying coconut Malibu pineapple drinks.

Hana was her cousin, her uncle’s daughter. She’d moved to Nairobi from Nyeri and now worked at Avenue Ad as a creative director. Hana should have been a model, Koya thought. The girl was blessed with a tall slender figure, currently wrapped in a beautiful navy blue dress. Her hair was naturally long. Hana wore it down today, left to flow down to her shoulders. Hana’s laugh was infectious, and her eyes sparkled in the warm light. Hana’s tall elegance was the complete opposite of Ashi who was short, had lighter skin and a penchant for punk rock style. Ashi’s hair was in a short cut, and dyed blond. She wore a short black dress, and her nails were painted black.

They both seemed to look up and spot her at the same time.

Ashi grinned and lifted her glass in greeting. “Here’s to trees in offices.”

Koya laughed. “That’s funny.”

She sat beside Ashi, and accepted the drink they had ordered for her.

“Someone must be thinking about you,” Hana said.

“If they really cared, they’d have sent me lilies,” Koya said.

They all laughed and Ashi turned in her seat to touch Koya’s arm. Her hand was warm against Koya’s bare skin. Glancing down, Koya stared at the rock on Ashi’s ring finger. Her best friend was engaged to marry a doctor with a flourishing private practice. Ashi’s happiness seemed to glow out of her. Koya envied her for it.

“So, Koya, Kim called me,” Ashi said. Her expressive eyes trained on Koya, it was hard not to escape the unasked questions.

Koya sipped her drink to escape her rehearsed speech of ‘it-doesn’t-matter’.

“I didn’t want to be the one to tell you,” Ashi confessed.

“How did you find out?” Koya asked.

“I heard gossip from mum. I went home to Ndwaru, and the rumor mills are working overtime. Charlie is home for good.”

“Look,” Hana said, leaning forward in concern. “It’s hard to break such news to you. Considering—

“Considering nothing,” Koya said with a tight smile. “It doesn’t matter anymore. Whether he’s back or not, it has no effect on me. Stop acting like I’m going to pieces.”

Ashi and Hana stared at her with sympathy in their eyes. Koya wondered what they saw. She’d made sure to make every effort to impress tonight. She’d chosen a short stunning red form-fitting dress. Her braids fell down her back in curly waves, and her make-up was flawless. She looked good. She doubted anyone could see the cracks in her heart, but these were her best friends. They saw right through her.

“You’re right,” Ashi said after a moment, withdrawing her hand. “Let’s change the topic. Charles Dhali is old news. I received a shipment of those comics you like Koya. I will send them to your house.”

Koya was thankful for the change. “How’s the bookshop doing?”

“Very good, I should thank you two for your genius advertising.”

“Hana did it all, I’m just the decision pusher,” Koya said.

“I thank you still,” Ashi said. “Nic is free this weekend. We can do a barbecue, what do you think?”

“Is he still handsome as ever?” Hana asked.

Nic was Ashi’s fiancé. Their wedding was in three months. Ashi was driving them all mad with wedding plans and jitters.

Ashi glowed as she spoke about Nic. “What do you expect? He is so hot.”

Koya laughed, taking Ashi’s left hand to sigh over the ridiculous ring shining there. “You’re lucky. I give you props for making such a decision.”

Hana leaned closer to look at the diamond ring too. “I doubt it was a hard one. Look at this ring. It’s as gorgeous as the hunk who gave it. He has good taste.”

“In women and jewelry,” Koya commented.

“I want to get married now,” Hana said with a sigh.

Letting go of Ashi’s hand, Koya sipped her drink and shook her head. ‘Not me, I can’t imagine making such a commitment. I can barely keep a pet.”

“You say that now,” Ashi teased. “I’ll be hearing another story when you meet some guy.”

“She might fall for the tree guy,” Hana said.

“Hey, how come it’s now become a guy?” Koya asked.

Ashi laughed. “They can live in a tree house together.”

Koya poked Ashi with a finger. “Stop jinxing me.”

“They’ll have little tree children,” Hana continued.

“Okay, that’s weird,” Ashi said, still laughing.

Koya placed her glass on the table and got up. She took Ashi’s hand and Hana’s hand, pulling them to their feet.

“Enough with the teasing,” she said, leading the way out of the secluded area to the stairs. At least in the noisy dance floor there would be no teasing Koya.

“I love you gals. You get married. I’ll live vicariously through you. I’ll spoil your children senseless, meanwhile, let’s go dance. I need to unwind this day,” Koya said.

“Hear, hear,” Ashi answered.

Hana wrapped an arm around Koya’s shoulders as they reached the dance floor.

“I love you gals too,” Ashi said, as the joined in the fun on the dance floor.

***

To be continued…Thank you for reading

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Koya’s Choice – 6