The Girl with the Golden Smile – Final

Part 8 – On Love, Waiting & Realization

The thing with love, Nicholas thought, is that it didn’t come like in the movies.EA 2

There was no spark, no wave to wash over the heart like magic.

Love at first sight, he scoffed.  Yeah right.

He’d never subscribed to that piece of lunacy. All he knew was that love came when you least expected it. In the form of realization, and not struck down like an idiot holding a lighting rod.

He shook his head, his gaze on Nalia who’d spent the past five minutes lighting a jiko. She was coughing now, the smoke rising from the lighting charcoal all but choking her. She wiped a hand over her brow, and left a smudge of charcoal on her forehead. Her weave was covered with an old scarf, and the green apron she wore had definitely seen better days.

Nalia scowled at the rising smoke and stepped back from the jiko. She entered her bakery, using the back door and returned with a plastic lid. Nicholas sat back in his seat, watching her fan the jiko like her life depended on it. She had a cake order due in the afternoon. Her charcoal oven was unlit, and it was almost eleven o’clock. He’d asked her countless times if he could buy an electric oven for her, but she refused. Preferring the charcoal oven to the whopping electric bill…the woman was strict when it came to expenses.  Her bakery was doing well. She was the baking primary school teacher now, instead of the divorced primary school teacher.

She’d worked a year to get rid of that title.

One whole year, he sighed. One year of watching and waiting for the right moment. One year for the realization of love to come, take root and take over his life.

Nicholas visited Nalia when he could.  He sat here in the small yard outside her bakery and rental house watching her work to build a new life out of the ashes Malik had left her.  She never complained, even when her orders overwhelmed her at times. Or when she ordered sacks of flour and her supplier refused to bring it over, making her get it from the shop. Nicolas chastised her constantly when she chose not to call him for help and instead struggled with public transport.

Stubborn woman…Miss Independent…he sighed.

Yet her tenacity made her appealing. Hell, he’d probably started falling for her when she’d jumped in front of his car one rainy night. Those days, he’d not been ready to imagine he could allow a woman close to his heart.

A painful poke on his shoulder brought him back from his thoughts, and he blinked when he realized Nalia stood a few feet away.

“Your phone is driving me crazy,” she said. “Answer it.”

The ring tone penetrated his thoughts, and he grinned. Reaching for the gadget, he watched Nalia walk back to her jiko. Thankfully, there was progress and the charcoal was lit.

“Hello,” he answered his call.

“Did you find the courage yet?” Eli asked in greeting.

Nicholas sighed staring at Nalia as she carried the jiko to her charcoal oven.

“I’m afraid to talk about that right now, she’s on a tight deadline…

“Chicken,” Eli teased. “If you don’t tell her, I’ll call her and break the news to her.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Nicholas said, afraid Eli might carry out his threat.

Eli and Nalia had formed a fast friendship. He’d been jealous at first, but now he liked that Nalia had Eli to rely on too. AFter learning the truth about her submissive life with that Malik, he wanted her to have people to call on, people to trust.

“Your pitiful stalking is getting to a critical stage.” Eli sighed on the other end. “You’ve even kept the villa, Nick. Is it for her?”

“She liked that house,” Nicholas said with a sigh. “The books in the library…Oh stop rushing me, I’ll do this on my own time.”

Eli laughed. “Fine, you coward, if she calls me at all, I’m going to drop a huge hint.”

Eli ended the call before he could protest, and Nicholas got to his feet.

“Do you have to leave?” Nalia asked her hands at her hip as she turned to look at him.

“No,” he said.

“Oh good, make yourself useful.”  Nalia frowned, her gaze taking him in. “You might want to roll up your sleeves. Don’t want to ruin your handsome shirt.”

Nicholas put his cell phone into his pocket and did as asked. He neatly folded his shirtsleeves to his to his elbows.
He glanced at Nalia, and almost balked when she pointed at a sack of charcoal leaning against the wall.

“Will you put that in for me?”

Nicholas shuddered glancing at his pristine pale blue shirt. He had come straight from his office, hoping to catch Nalia and ask her out. Instead, here he was…he gave an inward groan and bravely walked to the sack of charcoal. Thanking his gym time, he carried the bag into the bakery and placed it at the spot she designated. Dumping the bag on the stand, he stepped back quickly and caught a snicker from Nalia.

Turning to look at her, he frowned when she laughed.

“I didn’t think you’d do it,” she said in between chuckles. “Nick…

“Woman,” he said inspecting his shirt.  There was a smudge on his stomach, he wiped at it with his hands and frowned when he added to the stain.

“Stop,” she said, swiping his hands away. “You’ll only make it worse. Come on, wash your hands, and take the shirt off, I’ll clean that spot for you.”

“Why would you make carry the charcoal then?” Nicholas asked as she led him to the sink and handed him soap.

Nalia leaned on the counter with a smile.

Damn that smile, the golden smile he saw in his dreams.

Nicholas stopped washing his hands and turned to her.

“I came to ask you if you’d go see the villa with me.”

Nalia met his gaze in surprise. “Are you selling it?”

Nicholas winced. “I was going to, when we first met.”

“Oh,” Nalia sighed. “I guess the new owners will have asked you to gut it and—

“I changed my mind,” he said then.

“About what?”

“Selling the villa,” he said, taking in a deep breath. “I kept the house.”

“Kept it?” Nalia stared at him. “As in you’re going to live there? Here I thought you were a simple man…what do you need all that space for—

“I was going to ask you to move in with me.”

Nalia gaped, her eyes going wide. “What?”

“I—,” Nicholas broke off and he reached out to wipe the smudge of charcoal on Nalia’s forehead. “I love you.”

“Nicholas.”

“I have thought about this for months, and—

“Months?” Nalia sighed. “When were you going to let me in on your thoughts?”

Nicholas shrugged. “When I was sure?”

Nalia stared at him and for a moment he thought he’d misread her.

She grinned.

“I’ve known for a while, you know. No man will agree to carry charcoal when dressed like you are right now.”

“I should have known you knew,” he said then, staring at the smudge on her face.

“Why?”

“No woman will stay with charcoal smudges on her face in front of a man she likes, without assurance,” he said.

“Oh you,” she pushed at his chest and he caught her arms with a laugh, pulling her into his arms as he’d wanted to for a year.

He kissed her then, and smiled when she wrapped her arms around him. It was like coming home.

“I promise to protect you,” Nicholas said when they broke apart and he hugged her. “I won’t break your trust, Nalia.”

Nalia sighed and held on tighter.

“You gave me strength when I didn’t have any. If I hadn’t met you, I’d still be married to Malik. I’d have gone back to him, thinking that I’d keep surviving. But meeting you saved me from that.”

“Nalia.”

“I’m glad that you’ve waited this long for me,” Nalia leaned up to kiss his left jaw.

“So what is your answer, girl with a golden smile?” Nicholas asked needing a clear way forward.

Nalia kissed his right jaw, and said, “Yes.”

Nicholas let out a happy sigh and wrapped her in his arms, whirling about in the middle of her bakery.

“I have a cake to bake,” she said when he held on.

“You’re spoiling the moment,” Nicholas complained.

“And I have a business to run,” Nalia said extracting herself from his arms. “You’d better go inside and get that shirt off. I have t-shirts in there…

Nicholas smiled as she moved him aside to wash her hands.

His woman, he thought as she went to whip up a cake recipe…he couldn’t wait to see what the future held for them.

***

Fin

Thank you for reading.

Previous Chapters

Girl with the Golden Smile – 7

Other EA Friday Feature Stories

Can I take your order

The Prostitute Killer

Some Kind of Love – 5

It’s A Rat Race

Have a Nice Day….

Prompt: Let’s have some fun, and go to a Rock Concert!!  Whatever rocks your boat. Yeah!!

Write 1,000 about this.

concert

Have a Nice Day….

Hunter picked up his guitar cases from the minivan’s floor, and scowled when the snap broke and the case opened. He knelt on the tarmac, and placed the case on the ground, reaching for the lid, he paused, his gaze on the expensive electric guitar resting in the black velvet bed.

Hunter touched the surface with reverence. The surface smooth to the touch, he smiled as he remembered the first time he’d fallen in love with the guitar.

Fourteen years old, he thought.

Listening to a random station in the back of his mother’s house, Bon Jovi’s Have a Nice Day, damn, he loved that song. He’d sang that song every day after that. Screaming it out like a maniac so all the neighbors could hear him. He’d sing in the shower holding the soap like a microphone, at the dinner table with his spoon for a microphone. He’d sang that song until his mother had started calling him, ‘Have a Nice Day’.

Of course, he’d grown out of the phase of singing ‘Have a Nice Day’ aloud when no one was happy about it, but not his love for guitars. At fifteen, he’d cajoled his father into paying for classes at a private music school in Hurlingham. He winced at that memory. His father had used it against him for years…through high school really.

Every time he failed exams, his father would threaten to discontinue paying for the classes.

Hunter sighed.

As a result, he’d worked like a maniac in school. Studying hard, keeping top grades, all for the love of guitars.  Snapping the case closed, Hunter got to his feet and carried the case toward the entrance into the Safaricom Kasarani Stadium.  His band was having three shows here, before moving on to Tanzania.

“Let me get that for you,” a young man hurried to his side, holding out a hand eager to take the case from him.

Hunter shook his head.  No way, he loved this baby too much to give it to anyone else.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said when the young man gave him a disappointed look. “Hey, what’s your name?”

“Maina,” the young man said a smile returning.

“Look Maina, maybe you can get me a large bottle of cold water. Cold, very cold.”

Maina grinned and hurried away in the maze of corridors. Hunter hoped Maina would know where to find him.

“What took you so long?”

Hunter glanced ahead to find his bandmates watching him.

His crew, he thought taking in the trio leaning on the wall, surrounded by management staff.

Hunter remembered the day he’d met them too. Nairobi University, at a poetry discussion meet, they’d all sat in the back, listening to poems about the world ending.  Depressed, they’d skipped out and instead gone to hang out at a local hangout joint and ended up starting a band.

There was Jake, the band’s drummer. Jake was an architect by profession. Then there was Troy. Troy had started out doing medicine before he ditched that major and pursued music. Troy wrote the band’s music. Then there was Kate. Kate with her long thick braids, and catty eyes that could chill a man’s blood, she was the band’s bassist.

Together, they made up the rock band, Furahi.

Hunter held up his guitar and Jake shook his head in amusement.

“No one will steal it,” Troy teased with a sigh, crossing his arms, his drumsticks held in his left hand.

Troy never let anyone carry those either, Hunter thought in amusement.

“Stop teasing him, Troy,” Kate said, moving to pull Hunter into the circle. “The back-up band is on stage rehearsing. I like their guitarist; he’s almost as good as you, but he’s missing the flair.”

“No one is as good as Hunter,” Troy scoffed. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t have him in the band.”

“Well, that’s good to know,” Hunter said with a smile, there was no ending Troy teasing him.

They’d all known each other for ten years. Lived through mistakes, bad decisions, devastating outcomes, and disappointments, Hunter could remember each one with a painful pang in his heart.

Furahi was successful today, but it hadn’t always been. Their down days haunted Hunter.

As though reading his thoughts, Jake touched his left arm.

“They say the tickets are sold out,” Jake said. “They’re worried fans will riot at the entrance.”

“That’s crazy,” Kate said her amazed expression understandable. “We’ve arrived folks.”

Jake and Troy chuckled; Hunter just squeezed Kate’s shoulder and nodded to their manager who was beckoning them.

The next two hours were exhilarating and nerve wrecking. Prepping a concert started months before, but the last few minutes before that first song, Hunter always felt as though the world was dancing on his shoulders.

Taking in a deep breath, he adjusted the black fitted pants and the metallic belt he wore. The band’s hair stylist had his hair cut in a short Mohawk; he sometimes didn’t recognize himself in the mirror. If it was up to him, he’d have a full on Afro like Lenny Kravitz, but apparently that didn’t work for him. Hunter shook his head, rubbing his clean-shaven jaw. Oh well, whatever it took to sell their albums.

Chicks dug the whole bad boy thing anyway, so…he sipped the water Maina had brought him.  He’d had to give an autograph for that.

“If I didn’t have a boyfriend, I’d kiss you,” Kate said coming to stand next to him. She looked hot in leather.

“Dump him,” Hunter challenged, wishing she would.

Kate grinned and pressed a kiss on his left cheek before she walked away.

“Tease,” he called after her.

“Time,” the show’s producer called into the dressing room, setting off the butterflies in Hunter’s stomach.

He’d performed thousands of shows, for thousands and thousands of people. Still, that moment before a concert always got him. He followed his bandmates backstage, climbing the steps with trepidation.

“We got you,” Jake said beside him, right before they stepped out on to the open stage.

Their audience exploded, screams and shouts, and their energy blew him away. Hunter stood still on the stage, feeling free for the first time in his music career. The audience’s enthusiasm exorcised his butterflies, fueling his energy.

Taking his guitar from it’s stand, Hunter walked up to the microphone, amid screams, he was afraid their audience wasn’t going to let him sing.

“We love you, Hunter!” someone screamed out and he grinned. “We love you Furahi.”

Hunter turned to his bandmates.

“Have a nice day….” He sang and got wide grins from them in return, they knew the story of that song. Those days, when he’d sang and, no one had screamed in happiness to hear it.

Hunter turned back to the packed stadium, and strummed the first bar of their hit song, ‘Get me home’.

Hunter started singing, and as his audience sang along, he finally understood Bon Jovi’s song.

Do what you want….no matter what, live your life how you want it.

Other Concert Prompt Stories:

4. Mira’s Love Affair