Life on the Fast Track – 15

Track 15 – Because getting to know you, is my favorite adventure…

The door was open, and Jasmine sat on her bed writing in her diary.  She didn’t look up, so Danny leaned on the doorjamb and watched her for a few minutes.

The reading glasses resting on the bridge of her nose made her look studious, and sexy…Danny grinned.  He leaned the hockey stick on the wall inside her bedroom and cleared his throat.

She looked up at him.

“Still mad at me?” he asked.

Jasmine closed her diary and placed it on the bedside table.

“No.”

“I need to know you’re safe when you’re alone,” Danny explained.

“I know,” Jasmine said, removing her glasses, she held out her right hand to him.

Danny entered the bedroom and closed the door.  He moved closer and took her hand.  Getting on the bed, he pulled her into a tight hug.  Not wanting to let go just yet, Danny shifted until he was comfortably resting on the comfortable pillows.  Jasmine settled against him, and he rubbed her arm, breathing in the scent of mint.  The scent like home.

Jasmine traced shapes on his t-shirt.

“Will you tell me what tonight’s been about?”

Danny held her tighter.

“First, let me ask, do you trust me?”

Jasmine’s finger stilled on his chest.  She lifted her head from his chest to meet his gaze.  Danny searched her eyes for a hint of doubt, and when he found none, he couldn’t help the little burst of joy in his heart.

“I’m not a criminal,” Danny said then, needing her to know that.  “The garage’s revenue is clean, no dirty money.”

“And the race grounds?” Jasmine asked.

“Jimmy and I bought the land and own it free and clear.  We built the course, developed the tracks.  We’ve ran a tight circle until a few months ago when Adrian approached us wanting to join in.”  Danny shook his head.  “At first glance, his business looked legitimate.  He imports car parts and has a shop in the middle of Nairobi town.”

“He has other sources of income,” Jasmine said, resting her chin on Danny’s chest.

“We allowed him into the circle because he could pay the cut,” Danny sighed.  “It worked out well a few races.  Then Anderson’s people started working the guests.  Trying to sell merchandise, Jimmy thinks there were drugs involved.  It got weird, and we started not calling him for any races.”

“Now he’s upset,” Jasmine said in understanding.  “Upsetting Adrian is like stepping on a cat’s tail, Danny.  He’s a mean bastard, his claws scratch deep.”

“I made Terry finish her business with anyone associated with Anderson.  Jimmy has people watching her.  I stayed away from you thinking I was protecting you.  Then Terry came home and told me you used to date his little brother—,”

“Hence the ex-boyfriend conversation,” Jasmine sighed.  “Danny, I doubt Anderson will come after me.”

“He will because you matter to me,” Danny said, tightening his hold on her.  She frowned, and he brought his free hand to pinch her left cheek, and then gave it a small caress.

“It would hurt me if something happened to you, Jazz.  That’s no secret,” Danny said.

***

Well…when he put it that way, Jasmine thought, sucking in air.  Danny certainly knew how to say the right thing to make all her mad disappear.  Wiping out a full evening of being upset with a few words, what talent.  Her heart squeezed and she gave up on fighting her feelings for this man.

She smiled and Danny stared at her, then ran his hands down her back, tickling her.  She started laughing and tried to wiggle out of his hold.

“Were you really going to hit me with the hockey stick?”

Jasmine grabbed his wrists to stop him, but he was strong.  He tickled her sides and she convulsed into uncontrollable laughs.

“Tell me, or I won’t stop,” Danny threatened.

“I thought you were a thief.”  Jasmine tried to move away, but then Danny rolled on top of her.  “You’ve been freaking out about psychos at my door.  Then I hear banging—,”

“Next time, call for help,” Danny said.

“My phone was in the living room,” Jasmine said.

“You’re exasperating,” Danny chuckled.  “I think I need to stay here with you.”

“What?” Jasmine stared at him in surprise.  Then he kissed her hard and she forgot all thought.

***

She wasn’t working the next morning.  Danny finally got his wish.  He woke her with heated kisses, bringing her up as the sun rose to a beautiful Friday morning.  Jasmine curled to his side and pressed a kiss on his shoulder.

“Morning,” Danny said.

“Morning,” she smiled.  “If they were all like this, I’d never get to work.”

“Hmm…” Danny said, his tone low.  “Is that an idea?”

“Maybe,” Jasmine said.

They spent the morning lazing around in bed.  At around nine, they dressed leisurely and ended up in the kitchen around nine-thirty.  Danny stood behind Jasmine as she made eggs, his hands on her hips.  He pressed a kiss on her neck.

“Danny,” She chuckled.  “Do you have to stand so close?  I’m trying to cook here.”

“I know,” Danny said, kissing her shoulder.  “I’m hoping I’m the only one you cook for woman.”

“Such a jealous man,” Jasmine said, turning the eggs.  “Pass the plates.”

Danny reached behind him and picked up the plates.  Helping her serve the eggs, he took the plates to the dining table while she turned the fire off.  Taking their cups of coffee, she followed him to the dining table.  Taking a seat beside him, she grabbed her fork and started eating.

“Baby, you’ve got an appetite,” Danny teased.

“So what?” She sipped her coffee.  “Am I fat?”

“I love your body,” Danny answered rubbing her back.

“Good answer.”

Danny chuckled and sipped his coffee.

“What were you busy typing last night?”

Jasmine swallowed her eggs hard, meeting Danny’s gaze.  She’d never told her friends about her hobby other than her immediate family.

“Uhm…some stuff.”

“Work related?” Danny asked.

“Not really,” Jasmine evaded.  “Anyway, what are you doing today?”

“Spending the day with you,” Danny answered, smiling at her shocked reaction.

“The whole day?” she asked.

“Yes, Jasmine.  I’m going to spend the whole day with you.  Get  used to the idea, girlfriend,” Danny said, leaning over to kiss her cheek.

Jasmine shook her head, taking a bite of her eggs.

“I wonder what your racing buddies would say if they saw you now.  Your playboy reputation would suffer.”

“It would be worth it,” Danny winked at her.  “I’m trying out new things.  Speaking of which, later tonight, there is a race.  I want you to come.”

“Danny—

“I’m not taking no for an answer,” Danny said.  “Please?  Come be my luck, Jazz.  Let me try to end your fear.”

She stared at her fork.  Terry had warned her.  Told her she would need to accept this side of Danny too.  When she met his gaze, he looked anxious, expecting her to say no.

Jasmine hid a smile and turned away.

“Well, since you asked so nicely,” she said, “I guess I can try it out.”

***

To be continued…Thanks for Reading! ^_^

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Life on the Fast Track – 14

Track 14 – My past, your present…we just  need to understand each other

After Danny left, Jasmine gave up on working.  She took a shower, and crawled into her breakfastlarge bed ready for sleep.  Yet, her eyes remained wide open.  Her thoughts on her relationship with Tyler Anderson.

Tyler had made her smile.  Had made her think she could give up on Danny, and maybe live a happy life.  Tyler cared, he was easy to be around, and had accepted all her flaws.  Since her dream with Danny seemed impossible, she had thought being with Tyler would work.

Jasmine sat up and gave up on sleep.  Arranging her pillows behind her back, she reached for her diary on the bedside table.  Opening it, she touched the silver chain with a ring hanging on the end.  Tyler’s last gift.

The proposal that turned to dust when Anderson rolled into her house and told Tyler he didn’t want trash like Jasmine in their family.  Tyler had not defended her.  Instead, he’d said sorry and simply walked out of her house.

She kept the ring to remind herself not to be fooled again.  Love was easy, but it faded in the face of misconceptions, expectations and perceptions.

Closing her diary, she sighed.

Now there was Danny, insisting he wanted to protect her, cared about her.  Yet, he was neck deep in trouble.  The races might be clean as far as Danny was concerned, but Adrian was a thug.  If he was part of Danny’s life, she didn’t want the reminders of a hurtful love, or the idea that Danny might be involved in crime.

Putting her diary on the bedside table, Jasmine stretched out on her bed, burrowing her face under her pillows.  Min jumped up and settled near her head, purring loudly, trying to offer comfort.

Jasmine closed her eyes and might have fallen asleep.  When she opened her eyes again, it was to the steady sound of pounding.  For a moment, she wondered if her landlord was fixing the fence again.  He liked doing shit like that at odd times.  She’d learned to ignore it, but this sounded way too close.

Sitting up on her bed, she felt panic fill her when she realized the pounding was actually in her house.

Who was thinking of robbing her?

Oh damn it, why was Danny always right?

Jasmine got off the bed, looking around her bedroom for a weapon.  She came up short.  Her cell phone was by her computer in the living room.  She cursed under her breath and hurried to her closet, searching the corners for anything heavy.

Lucky there was a hockey stick from her high school days in the back.  Taking it up, she braced herself and quietly got out of her room.  Better to be sure, and then try to find an escape route.  The banging was deliberate.  Jasmine ran through her list of possessions and wondered what anyone would want her ordinary furniture, and clothes.  She owned no expensive jewelry and was paranoid about cash, so never kept it in her house, it was all in the bank.

Walking the short hallway to the living room, she paused at the end of the wall, breathed in and out for courage and peeped into the hallway leading to the front door.

A hot wave of relief flooded her at the sight of Danny and Jimmy kneeling at her front door with tools around them.  Stepping out in the open in surprise, she gripped the hockey stick at a loss for words.

“Hey Jazz, what’s with the hockey stick?” Jimmy waved at her.

Danny didn’t stop working, holding a power drill to her door.

“What are you doing to my door?” Jasmine asked.  “Who gave you permission to change locks?”

“Jazz, don’t come closer if you don’t want to fight,” Danny warned.  “Will you pass me that screw, Jimmy?”

“Jimmy do not give it to him,” Jasmine moved closer, still holding the hockey stick.

“Danny, she’s armed,” Jimmy said, his gaze on Jasmine.

“I know,” Danny said.  “Jazz, if you hit me with that, I’ll come back to haunt you.”

“You’re a pain the ass,” Jasmine said.

“So are you,” Danny said, taking the screw from Jimmy and getting on with his work.

Jasmine scowled at his back, and propped the hockey stick on the wall.

“Jimmy, you want a drink?  You shouldn’t have to deal with this mess,” Jasmine asked, going into the kitchen.

“Sure,” Jimmy grinned.

“Oh treat him like the saint,” Danny scoffed.  “I’m the one doing all the work.”

“No one asked you to,” Jasmine said, coming over to give Jimmy a bottle of juice.  She ignored Danny, went to take her phone from her desk and returned to her bedroom.

***

“She’s pissed,” Jimmy said, an hour later when they finished changing the lock.

“I know,” Danny said, watching the door lock automatically.  Shaking the keys at Jimmy, he grinned.  “But she’s safe enough.  I can deal with the anger.”

“I don’t envy you,” Jimmy said, turning the lock and opening the door.  “I’m heading home, see you tomorrow dude.”

“Thanks, man,” Danny said, with a short nod, letting the door close.  A satisfied look coming on his face at the sound of the automatic lock engaging.  Placing the keys on the a small table right at the door, Danny picked up the hockey stick leaning on the wall and made his way to Jasmine’s room.

***

To be continued….Thanks for reading ^_^

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Life on the Fast Track – 13

Track 13 – There is nothing smooth about relationships…

cody-davis-259003
Photo by Cody Davis on Unsplash

For the first time since she’d moved into her house, Jasmine discovered she had a doorbell.  The ringing started when she was busy typing at her desktop.  She kept at her work thinking that someone who would ring her doorbell was not welcome at this time.  Ignoring the ring, might encourage them to leave.  So, she kept working.

The ringing didn’t stop.

Glancing at Min, her white cat, who was perched on her desk watching her as though in irritation at the noise, she sighed.

“Door’s open,” she called.

She kept typing not wanting to lose her thread.  The door opened and in a minute, strong arms pulled her out of her chair and wrapped her in a tight hug.

Staring at Danny’s white t-shirt, she started to talk but he stopped her when he covered her mouth with his, kissing her breathless.  She clung to his shoulders as he pulled her flash against him.  The kiss was hungry, almost brutal.  It ended as abruptly as it started.

“What’s gotten into you?” Jasmine asked, once she could breathe.  “Danny—

“I’ve asked you to stop leaving your door unlocked,” Danny cut her off.  “Lock it, Jasmine.  It’s almost ten o’clock at night.  There are psychos in this world.”

“Clearly, if a psycho was after me, a locked door would do nothing to stop him.  Will you calm down?”  Jasmine stepped away from him, pushing her chair under her desk.  She picked up Min and stared at Danny.

He looked frantic.  In black jeans and a white t-shirt, he looked deliciously wild, so handsome and annoying.

“Did you come here to yell?  Coz, the same way you just walked in, is the way out,” Jasmine said, lifting a brow at him.

“And leave you unprotected, hell no,” Danny snapped.  “How can you live alone like this?”

“I’m not in the mood,” Jasmine said, taking Min to lie on the couch.  The cat yawned and climbed up on to the arm of the couch promptly falling asleep.  Jasmine turned to look at Danny.

“What’s really bothering you?” she asked, folding her arms against her chest.  “You couldn’t have driven all the way from your house to come yelling about my door.”

Danny studied her, really taking in the picture she made.  She was in warm white sweat pants, fluffy pink bunny socks and a pink bunny t-shirt covered with a heavy white sweater.  Reading glasses perched on her nose; she looked too soft and defenseless.

“Cold much?” he asked with a chuckle.

She made a face at him and he smiled.

“I worry about you, living here alone.”

“I’m safe enough.  The neighborhood is quiet.  The compound secure,” Jasmine said.

“Your neighbors are not my worry,” Danny glared at her.  “Your ex-boyfriends are my main concern.”

“Ex-boyfriends…” Jasmine nodded, “and you want to have that talk now?”

“Yes,” Danny said, without a flinch.  He pulled out the computer chair, sat on it and swiveled to see what she’d been doing.  Jasmine moved faster and put her computer to sleep.  Gracing him with a glare, she went to the kitchen.

“Jazz, we’re going to have this talk, sooner or later.  Fast forward it all and tell me about Tyler.  He’s the one you were most serious with right?”

“Did Terry tell you that?” Jasmine asked.

“No.”  Danny swung the chair around to look at her in the kitchen.  “I have eyes of my own.  You nearly married that bastard.”

Jasmine stared into her fridge, taking his words in.  Had it been that obvious?  How desperate had she looked clinging to Tyler Anderson?

“Why do you want to know about him?” Jasmine asked, clearing her throat.

“Because of his brother,” Danny said, watching her.

Jasmine closed the fridge without taking anything and turned to look at him, her eyes narrowed.

“What about Adrian?”

“He’s dangerous,” Danny said.  “Adrian is a crook, trouble-making, breaking the law, kind of dangerous.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do.”

“Danny, don’t patronize me,” Jasmine said, holding his gaze.  “How do you know?”

Danny wanted to escape her gaze, but couldn’t.  He owed her the truth, needed her to understand his life, his choices.  So, he swallowed the urge to lie and gave in.

“Adrian is in the racing scene.  I only found out he was trouble a few weeks ago.  I’m trying to get him out of my business and the races.”

Jasmine stood so still for a moment; he thought she hadn’t understood what he was trying to say.  He frowned when she suddenly cursed and came to where he sat.  Taking his hand, she pulled him up and he followed her.

Puzzled, his frown deepened when she led him to her front door.

“See you, Danny.  It’s been great.”

“You’re kidding me,” Danny blinked.

“No.  Say hi to Terry for me,” Jasmine said, opening the door and holding it open.  The security light in the small porch outside her house spilled into the hallway.

“Jazz, you’re nuts if you think I’m walking away from you without an explanation.”

“I don’t think I have to give you one.”

“Oh yes, you do,” Danny insisted.

“I don’t want to discuss this.”

“We have no choice,” Danny said, raising his voice.

“Okay, tell me, Danny.  How straight is your business?” Jasmine asked.  “For you to have Adrian, that thug in your life, you can’t be doing good things.”

“Do you think doing business in Nairobi is easy?  You have no idea the amount of murk I have had to wade through to get the garage where it is.  To build the races to where they’ve reached.  Having you stand there, judging me—

Danny broke off, shaking his head, his gaze filled with anger.  He paced the length of her doorway, and then wiped a hand down his face.

“What makes you so darned defensive about my racing?  Isn’t that the problem?”

Jasmine’s grip on her door tightened and she started to turn away.

“Jazz.”

“I told you, I don’t want to talk about this.”

“Too bad,” Danny pulled the door out of her hand and slammed it closed.  “Stop being scared and tell me—

“Scared?” Jasmine scoffed.  “You think I’m scared.  Wouldn’t that make me stupid?  To be scared for someone who obviously doesn’t need my worry.  I’m indifferent, Danny.  Even more so, when I know nothing about your racing.  Stop this and leave now.”

“No.”

“What do you mean no?  This is my house.  I get to say when you leave.”

“We both know you don’t want me to leave,” Danny said.  “You care.  You pretend not to, but you do.  You want to stay indifferent, but you can’t, coz I worry you.”

Jasmine shook her head, hating the fact that he read her too well.  She turned to escape to the living room, bu7ft Danny reached for her left wrist and pulled her to the hallway wall.  He moved closer until she was leaning against the wall.

“Admit it, Jazz.”

“Danny, I don’t—

“Come on, Jasmine,” Danny cut her off, unable to hide his frustration.  He needed to break through the protective wall she had around her.  “Tell me, please.”

Jasmine refused to meet his gaze, and instead pressed her forehead on his shoulder.  Her heart squeezed tight, the tight knot in her stomach loosening when she took in Danny’s scent.  She closed her eyes as her heart gave in.  How could she explain that what she feared most was losing him?

“I can’t—,” she started, making Danny sigh in exasperation, so the next sentence burst out of her.  “I can’t stand to see you hurt, Danny.”

Danny wrapped his arms around her, in response.

“I don’t breathe easy when I hear you’re racing.  I make Terry take me out or drive out some place far away.”

“Why?” Danny asked, when she didn’t answer, he whispered into her ear.  “Why Jazz?”

She wrapped her arms around his waist.

I don’t think I could live if you crashed, Danny.”

Danny exhaled and held her tight.

“You must think I’m a nut.  Worrying about such useless—

“Your concerns are not useless,” Danny said, leaning back so that she was forced to raise her head.  When she looked up at him, he kissed her soundly.

When their kiss ended, Jasmine sighed and stared at his chest.

“Despite your marvelous kisses, I won’t change my mind, Danny.  Adrian scares me, Danny.  I don’t want to deal with him again.  I mean it.”

“What did he do to you?” Danny demanded, gripping her arms.  “Tell me, Jazz.”

Jasmine hated to remember the site of Adrian in her house, telling Tyler he could do better.  As though she were a worm crawling in the dirt, and Tyler was a thousand heights above her.

She never wanted to meet that bastard again in her life.

Meeting Danny’s gaze, she said, “He did nothing.”

Danny scowled.  “I swear if he touched you—

“He didn’t.  Let it go, Danny.”

“I can’t.  Can’t you see that it’s not possible for me to let this go?” Danny asked, but she moved away and headed back to the living room.

“I don’t want to talk about Adrian.  As long as you’re hanging out with him, I’ll stay away,” Jasmine said.  She pulled out her chair at her desk and shook her index finger at him.  “I was quite happy before you walked in.  I was content in my little world.  I’d like to get back to that now.  So please, leave.”

Danny stood watching her, then because she got him so mad, he turned and stalked out of her house, slamming the door hard behind him.  Going to his car, he got in the driver’s seat and sat staring at Jasmine’s house at a loss.

What was he supposed to do with such a stubborn woman?

Turning over the engine, he backed out of her short drive and headed out.  Jaw clenched, he made a decision at the first turn on to the main road.  He knew exactly what he was going to do.

***

Thank you for reading…to be continued ^_^

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Life on the Fast Track – 10

Track 10 – You showed up when I was having a Hard Day…my heart moved

Terry found Danny making breakfast while he fed the white cat milk.  She paused at the entrance into the kitchen and let out a whistle.

“Well, well, you look quite at home, my dear big brother.”

“Do you want eggs or not?” Danny asked, sparing her a short glance.

“I just had waffles with Jimmy,” Terry said, looking around the neat kitchen.  “Looks like you’re moving in.”

“I wish,” Danny said, placing his eggs on a plate.  Picking up his coffee, he leaned on the counter and studied his flamboyant sister.  Her hair was in a ponytail today.  As usual, she looked beautiful in jeans and a dress top thing that should be illegal.  She was too comfortable in her own skin.

Terry owned a clothing boutique in the city.  She sold clothes and offered personal styling to well-off clients.  Her friendly personality afforded her a long list of happy clients, but her working hours were erratic.  He wished she had a steady schedule.

“Your friend is impossible,” Danny said.  “What’s wrong with the cat?”

“She’s getting shots,” Terry said, stroking Min’s fur.  “Otherwise she’d be popping kittens every three or four months.  I’m glad you two got together.”

“I’m not sure Jazz is happy about it,” Danny said, sipping his coffee.  “Enough about that, aaron-burden-185993I want you to keep away from Adrian Anderson.”

“Oh come on now,” Terry scowled.  “Your big brotherly concerns are so tiresome—

“Anderson’s a thief,” Danny interrupted, spooning eggs into his mouth.  “He’s going to get our business and races in trouble if we keep him around.”

“How do you know this?” Terry asked, staring at her brother.

“Nic Mugera.”

“Nic,” Terry gaped.  “Since when do you take anything he says at face value?”

“Since Anderson became a thief,” Danny answered.  “You realize we don’t need that kind of trouble, right?”

“Aish, Danny,” Terry cursed, moving to find a cup so that she could pour herself coffee.  “Anderson has people in my client list.  I have five orders right now with them.  If I refuse, can you imagine the kind of losses I will make?”

“I’ll find new clients for you,” Danny said.  “Come on Sis, being round Anderson is not an option.  Your safety comes first.”

Terry shook her head.  “How can I wake up one morning and decide to ignore five major clients?”

“Don’t be dramatic,” Danny said.  “Whatever orders you have, fill them, then don’t take anymore from anyone associated with Anderson.”

“Is this an order?” Terry asked.  “It’s not so easily done, you know.”

“You’ll manage,” Danny said.  “I’ll have Jimmy send someone from the garage to keep an eye on you.  I’m serious about this, Terry.”

Terry shook her head.  “I worry about you, Danny.”

“I’m doing just fine.  I’ll be a thousand times better if you do what your big brother tells you.”  Placing his mug of coffee in the sink, he looked around the kitchen.  “So, where’s the carrier for the cat?  I’m not carrying her with my hands.”

“What?” Terry asked in surprise.  When Danny gave her a look, she pointed to a store room tucked into the corner of the kitchen.

“I’ll take the cat to the vet,” Danny said, coming back from the store room holding a black pet carrier.  “You go arrange your business.”

“Today?” Terry asked.

“Yes, today,” Danny scowled at her.  He picked up Min and placed her in the carrier.  “Give me the address to the vets, and go handle your business, Terry.  Sawa?”

Terry sighed, there was no winning with Danny when he got this way.

“Fine.”

***

“You’re late,” Jasmine said, trying to keep her temper calm.  She pressed her cellphone to her ear.  “Do you understand that sets us back a few hours?  Clients wataka mali yao, and we’re making their lives a living hell.  Tell me, how can you help me?”

Jasmine strode out of the building and started walking around to the docking area in the back.  A line of four trucks stood, men in the back of the warehouse offloading the contents in each truck.  She needed one more, and their most demanding client would receive his property in the morning.

“I’m sorry, Madam,” the truck driver on the other end of the call said.  “We’re stuck in traffic.  When we break free, we’ll be there in an hour.”

“I hope so,” Jasmine warned.  “I don’t like lies.  If you think the situation is not going to improve, be straight with me, Banda.  Don’t make it worse.”

She ended the call, and stopped for a moment to take in a deep breath.  This job was killing her today.  Her head was starting to throb.  Glancing at her cellphone, she discovered that it was passed lunch.

Three o’clock already, where did the time go?

Leaning on the wall, she closed her eyes and sighed.  Opening her eyes, a second later, she stared in surprise at the sight of the black Mazda parked a few feet away.  Leaning on the driver’s side door was Danny, watching her.

She couldn’t explain why her heart sped up in joy.  Her mood, instantly, revitalized.  Smiling to herself, she started toward him.  When she was standing a step away from him, she said,

“Hey.”

He looked good in blue jeans and a black t-shirt, she was tempted to kiss his cheek.

“Hey yourself,” Danny said, opening his arms.

She walked right into them without much thought and allowed him to hold her in a tight hug.  He didn’t talk, just held her in silence.  After a moment, she pulled back and studied him.

“Did you miss me?” Jasmine asked.

“Very much,” Danny said, pressing a kiss on her cheek.  “I didn’t like how we left it this morning.”

“Neither did I,” jasmine said, meeting his gaze.  “How has your day been?”

“Hmm…” Danny looked deep in thought, then he winked at her.  “I took your cat to the vet to get her shots.”

“You did,” Jasmine smiled.  “Danny, you surprise me.”

“I know,” Danny said, his gaze on her lips.  “I like surprising you.”

She rested her forehead on his shoulder.

“I gotta go back to work.”

“I know that too,” Danny said, not having missed the trucks unloading in the back of the warehouse.  “Have you eaten?”

“I will, later,” Jasmine said, her phone buzzing.  She pulled away, one glance at the caller’s name and she squeezed his arm.  “I gotta answer this.”

“Alright,” Danny turned and reached into his car.  Pulling out a brown bag from the Passion Restaurant, he handed it to her.  “I also saw my dad today.  He sent me with this.  Make sure you eat it.”

Jasmine stared at the bag in shock.  Apart from Terry, no one ever cared enough to come to see her at work.  No one ever brought her lunch…taking the bag, she smiled and pressed a fist to her mouth.

“Jazz?” Danny asked.

She shook her head.

“Thanks,” she said, pressing a kiss on his jaw.  She answered her phone in the next minute and hurried off.

***

Danny grinned, watching Jasmine hurry away, her heels clicking on the pavement.  It tickled him how freaked out she had been by his bringing her lunch.  His task accomplished, he slid into the driver’s seat and watched her for a moment longer.  Her work annoyed him, he didn’t like to see her stressed.

If he mentioned it though, she’d only ignore him.  Headstrong women, he thought.

Driving off, he smiled at the little he’d done today win her over.  It was a step forward.

***

To be continued….Thanks for reading!

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A/N: In case you’re reading this for the first time, this is an ongoing story, with a few chapters in it.  I’ll work on consolidating in one page very soon, so that it’s easier to find.

Blog Feature – Jagombaka

This week, The E.i.N blog takes a break from writing, and goes on a Nairobi Fictionspiration Trip.  Sharing stories from fellow writers (bloggers) from my area code (254).

Our Blog Feature today is Exciting.  I love this blog, and the look and the feel of it.  Jagomboka, written by Awino Lesley.  And in her own words, she is:

 “I am a simple listener, writing to you the stories from the true Jagombaka. I fear she sees too much, but the stories must be told. They hold our souls together, and therefore, must be told or else…”

Read one of her stories “Watching Wonder” below:

Watching Wonder

A lone female sits in one of the available benches in Nairobi. The day has yet to turn from where it sleeps in preparation for its final dream. She is young, a few months shy of 24, and yet, looking into her eyes, you get the feeling that she has lived more years than you. A large furry coat is all you see keeping her covered, besides the heeled black boots.  What you see of her skin is smooth and chocolate coloured. Her hair is dark, pure and untouched by the unnatural element of cosmetics. You think about going to her, but you stop yourself mid stride. She does not give  any indication that she has noticed your presence.

She looks up to the dark sky as if searching for something. Something you fail to grasp, because you hear her chuckle to herself. There is a look of wonder on her face, pure and unadulterated. Somehow, she has managed to find wonder in the night sky, even as the bright lights of still open bars dull its brilliance. Her gaze remains unbroken even as the colours begin to adjust. As night’s shift ended, it left in its wake a trickle of people milling about in a bid to reach their jobs, businesses, and in some cases, homes.

Her eyes change focus, to the fast and faster moving waters of humanity. She reads them all as they walk past. To them, she is invisible. To her, they seem to be all the same, all running around like headless chicken. From the suits, to the dresses, to the tattered old clothes worn by the still sleeping chokoras. Nothing matters to them save their own little worries, and perhaps the notion that they care for others. But even then, it is rare to find those that truly love, whose hearts understand the magnitude of that emotion.

Every now again, there is a ripple caused, as someone passes by whose heart is true and continues to feel love. She smiles, knowing that there may be hope yet for the future of this species. And then comes one of them for whom she searches. One of them whose very presence alters whomever they pass for the better. He is self assured and, every once in awhile, busts out a small smile as he moves. There is something tangibly positive about him… He is compelling in his own walk, with neither a word nor sound needed. You get the feeling he has the power to do anything he sets his mind to, and he does so often. She turns to you.

“What do you think? Are you the same?”

She pauses.

“I bet you are…you just don’t know it yet.”

She watches him for a few seconds, gets up, stretches and follows him. Two steps in, she disintegrates into flecks of gold dust and becomes a part of him. You sense a subtle change… and you know he has just become the best and most powerful version of himself.

A voice softly whispers in your ear.

“I’ll come to you once you decide you are ready.”

Thoughts:

I love the description of the city in this story.  How intense the masses of people can be walking along those streets.  I see the one on the bench, watching these masses, seeking for one that stands out, one that shines with strength.  What do you see in this story?  Do you think she would see you as being different too? 

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Life on the Fast Track – 9

Track 9 : It’s the small things like trust, honesty…wanting to take care of the cat

An hour later, they sat on Jasmine’s couch, sharing a glass of wine; soft music filled the living room.  Jazz had her feet over Danny’s lap and he was stroking them absently as they talked.

“Your father is really a good man.  I like how he’s dealt with you guys.  Easy-going and encouraging, you don’t find that very much,” Jazz said.

“You never talk about your father,” Danny pointed out gently.  “Why?”

“My Dad and I, we have a difficult relationship,” Jazz sighed.  “He’s a military man.  His ways are set, he likes it when everyone in the family tows the line.  I’m the child that doesn’t follow the path he directs.”

“I’m sure if you talked now, you could settle things,” Danny said, studying her.  She was keeping her gaze down.  It wasn’t hard to see the breach in that relationship hurt her.  “He’s your dad.”

“We had a huge fight the week before I moved out of home,” Jazz said.  “He told me if I left the house, and failed, I would have no choice but to return home and live as he directed, down to marriage.  You know me.  I love a challenge.  I left.  He hasn’t wanted to talk to me since then.”

“Jazz,” Danny brushed a kiss on her cheek.  “It will work out. He’ll come around.”

Jasmine feigned a smile with a small scoff.

“You’re being sweet.  My father is tough.  He’s everything yours is not.”

“Is that why you’re scared to trust me?” Danny asked, holding her gaze.

Jasmine chuckled.

“Really Danny, you think I have Daddy issues?”

“Well,” Danny laughed.

“No,” Jasmine poked his chest and shook her head.  “That’s not why.  I’ve just never been able to be easy on trust with men”

“Hmm…,” Danny said.

“What?”

“I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad about being grouped in with the horde of men you’ve dated.”

“Danny.  I didn’t mean it that way,” Jasmine frowned.  “Besides, I’m pretty sure we should take this, whatever this is, very slowly.”

“Not jumping into it,” Danny stated, “has led us here.  I’m of the opinion we should go all in.”

“Danny—,”

“Jazz,” Danny cut her off.  “I’ve never felt this way about a woman.  You’ve always had this strange hold on me.  Can’t we just go together without thinking too much?”

Jasmine studied him, her gaze thoughtful, her eyes inky black and full of wary shadows.

“If things go wrong, it will definitely hurt more,” Jasmine stated, her tone low.

“Shhh…” Danny pressed a finger over her lips.  “Don’t predict the worst.”

He shifted and pulled her on to his lap.

“Just – enjoy – the – moment,” Danny said, punctuating each word with a kiss.  “The rest, we leave for the future.”

“One step at a time,” Jasmine insisted, pressing her forehead to his.

Danny smiled, holding her closer.

“You’ll get used to having me around, Jasmine Lima.  I’ll make sure of it.”

***

Danny woke up early Monday morning and was once again disappointed to find Jasmine awake and about.  The woman seemed incapable of lazing around in bed.  Pushing a pillow behind his back, he sat up and watched Jasmine pull on a black pencil skirt.  She shimmied it up and reached behind her to zip it.  The material hugged her hips to perfection, made him want to moan in appreciation.  She picked up a lacy blouse, wore it.  As she turned to the vanity table, she noticed that he was awake.

A smile graced her lips, and she came over to his side of the bed.

“Morning,” she said, leaning down to kiss him.

He pulled her down to his lap and kissed her thoroughly, making her catch her breath and her arms lock around his neck.

“Morning,” he answered, when she ended the kiss.

“Did I wake you?” she asked, stroking a finger over his dark stubble.

“No.” Danny studied her swollen lips with an answering smile.  “I wish you had.  I would have loved to wake you up, Jazz.”

“Hmm…” Jasmine smiled.  “I bet you would have.”

“Must you leave?” Danny asked, not willing to give her up yet.

“I have to.  Work calls,” she said, resting her head on his shoulder.  He rubbed her back, holding her tighter.  “I would stay otherwise.”

“I want to have breakfast with you one of these days,” Danny complained.

He breathed in her scent, something flowery, it was intoxicating.  Jasmine pressed a kiss on his shoulder and pulled back.  She stood and returned to the vanity table.  Grabbing ab rush, she ran it through her hair, styling it quickly.  Danny watched her wear her make up, a swift sweep of a brush on her skin, drawing a steady line for eyeliner, followed by a thin coat of red lipstick.  Jasmine picked a pair of hoop earrings from a jewelry box and slipped them on.  Danny watched her study her appearance in the mirror.  She was beautiful, and it fascinated him to watch her see flaws where he saw none.

Jasmine put everything on the table back in its place.  He smiled when she removed the hoops and replaced them with gold teardrop earrings.  Satisfied with her look, Jasmine leaned down and reached for a pair of black heels.

“Terry is passing by to pick up Min.  She’s going to take her to the vet.  Will you be here?”

“Maybe,” Danny said, his tone preoccupied.  Jasmine looked like a conservative administrator now.  It thrilled him to know that underneath that was a wild temptress.  “I could take Min to the vet for you.”

“Why?” Jasmine asked, rummaging through her handbag.

“Because,” Danny said.  “Do I need a reason?”

“I’m just wondering why you’d want to run errands for me,” Jasmine said, giving up on her handbag.  She went to the closet.  “I’m sure Jimmy won’t be happy with me for keeping you away from the garage.”

“Jazz, you’re pissing me off,” Danny said, leaning his head back to stare at the ceiling.  “What’s wrong with being nice to you?”

“Because we’re together now?” Jasmine asked, emerging from her closet with a black jacket that she wore in swift jerks.  “Because we’re sleeping together, help me understand.”

“You know what,” Danny said, glaring at her.  “Go to work.”

“What?” Jasmine asked, a frown dancing on her forehead.  “What have I said now?”

“Nothing.  Go to work,” Danny said.  “I’ll call you later.”

Jasmine studied him for a moment, then picked up her handbag, moved to kiss his jaw before leaving in a cloud of subtle passion fruit perfume.

Danny sighed when he heard the front door slam closed.  He slipped out of the bed and headed for the shower.

***

To be continued….Thanks for reading! ^_^

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Picture Perfect – 16

Chapter 16

Eric wanted Victoria.

She was fun, her sense of humor fresh and surprising.  She had quirky habits that left him laughing in amusement when he was alone.  Like singing out loud to her favorite song came on.  The song wasn’t the problem, he could take a little Justin Bieber…but the off notes, full volume voice were the problem.

You see, Victoria thought she was the next Beyoncé, except no one had told her she wasn’t.  God help him if he said anything in criticism.

Victoria had a temper.

He found that out the hard way.  Visiting her house on a Saturday when she was doing general cleaning, he had gone out to check on her car engine.  When he came back upstairs, he entered still wearing his rubber shoes, into her clean pristine house and a monster was born.

She kicked him out, made him remove his shoes while she cursed like a sailor, almost calling the neighbors to witness his offenses.  He tried to take a picture of monster Victoria in action, and almost got his eyes scratched out when she grabbed the camera out of his hand.  She’d taken a year off his life when she threatened to drop his baby.  Her tirade lasted an astounding five minutes.  Then she got over the mad quickly, turning into a sweet woman who then cooked him lunch.

Scary shit.  He was sure she was a crazy woman!

He definitely loved her sweet side the most though.

Victoria in an agreeable mood was addictive, to the point of madness and obsession.  Her laugh was infectious, when she talked it was with passion on the subject, when she listened, it was as though he were the only man in the world.  Those moments, sitting close to her, kissing her, and never going beyond that…it was at those moments he worried for his sanity.

“Eric.”

Linda touched his left arm and he looked at her.  He was at the studio today working on an advertisement photo shoot.

“Are you up for another trip?” Linda asked.  “We have a request for a shoot in Dar.  Three days, do I schedule it?”

Eric sat back, his gaze on the dummy food waiting on a table.

“When?”

“This weekend,” Linda said.  “The cash is good.  They accepted our quotation without a bargain.”

Eric frowned.  For the first time in years, reluctance to leave the city filled him.  Victoria was tied up more than usual lately.  The holidays were here and the hotel events had increased.  He didn’t want to miss out on her free time.

“Can we postpone it?” he asked.

“Are you sick?” Linda asked, touching his forehead.

He winked at her.  “Let’s do it next weekend, Linda.”

“Why?  Can’t stay away from Victoria?” Linda asked.

“She’s off this weekend.  She promised to go see my house with me.  I don’t want to cancel.”

Linda waved the quotation in front of his eyes and he took it out of her hands.  Reading the total amount, he groaned.  The payout was very good.

“Damn it, I can do it mid-week,” he said, still not willing to give up this weekend.

Eric really wanted to hear what Victoria thought of the house he was building.

Linda smiled and took the quotation.

“Wednesday sounds good.  Victoria can do without you for three days, right?”

Eric smiled standing.  He picked up his camera and walked to the table full of fast food dummy products.

The problem, he thought, was that he didn’t want to do without her.

***

“Wait, taste this,” Olive said

Olive held out a spoon full of strawberry and blueberry ice cream to Victoria.  Victoria closed her eyes as the sweet treat melted in her mouth.  She sighed.

“I’m going to get fat if we continue like this.”  Victoria met Olive’s amused gaze.  “Fat, Olive.”

“I thought you didn’t care.”

“She got a man,” Grace said, swirling her straw in her passion fruit yoghurt.

Aki, Grace,” Victoria pinched her best friend’s arm.  “That’s not what I mean.  I’m saying the ice cream is really good and we keep buying more.”

“Don’t blame the ice cream,” Olive said, promptly taking a healthy bite of her ice cream.

Olive was naturally thin, no matter how much she ate, she never gained an ounce.  Victoria was a tad envious.  Staring at her apple green blend, Victoria just couldn’t find the strength not to finish the treat, so she dug in.

“So, you and Eric?” Olive asked.

Victoria looked up and Olive raised her brow.

“What?”

“Are you an item?” Olive asked.

“They better be,” Grace said.  “He keeps hugging her and kissing her around the hotel.  I’m getting jealous.”

“That was one time,” Victoria said.

“What about yesterday when he dropped you off in the morning.  He gives you a ride to work even when you have your own car,” Grace said.

“It’s called carpooling.  We are doing our part to save the earth from global warming.”

“Ah ha,” Olive said with a laugh.  “I’ll be sure to thank Eric for his eco-friendly thoughts when he shows up at your house.”

Grace laughed.

“Okay, you two, stop.” Victoria raised her spoon, using it as a wand.  “I did not tease you like this when you and Clifford were getting together.  Or you Grace, and the hubby who walks on water.”

“Did you do it yet?” Olive asked.

“I’m not answering that.”

“They haven’t,” Grace answered, winking at Olive.

“Hey,” Victoria punched Grace’s arm lightly.

“Wow, Eric is looking more and more like a saint,” Olive said, amused.  “Hasn’t it been a month?”

“Almost two,” Grace provided.

“No way,” Olive stared at Victoria.  “Is he normal?”

Victoria frowned.  “What are you on about?”

“Well,” Olive shrugged.  “Let’s be realistic.  In this day and age, relationships start out backwards.  You two not being together after two months is weird.”

“Who decided waiting is weird?” Victoria asked.  “Besides, two months is not that long.  Jeez, I’m glad Eric is not like Ronald.  If I had stopped to think with Ronald, things might not have turned out the way they did.”

“I’m just saying,” Olive said.

Victoria stared at her ice cream.  Truthfully, she knew Eric would prefer not to wait.  There were times when she was alone with him, when it felt like it would be alright to give in, but then…

She remembered that he was a man who was still in love with his best friend’s wife.

How could she—

“Vicky,” Grace squeezed her shoulder.  “It’s okay to wait.  You need to be sure, and that’s important to you.”

Taking a bite of her ice cream, Victoria shrugged.

“If it happens, it does,” she said.  “We’re both adults.  I like Eric.  He’s fun, considerate and I love spending time with him.  If it does happen—”

“Let me stop you there,” Olive said, shaking her head.  “That is a self-serving speech.  We don’t need to hear it, gal.  I totally get your insecurities with that hottie.  Eric is a wild card, and who knows how long it will last?  I get it.  No one’s judging here.”

“Could have fooled me,” Victoria sulked.  “Argghh…. can we stop talking about my lack of nookie?”

Grace burst out laughing, and almost spilled her yoghurt.  Victoria reached out to right it, and Olive grabbed napkins to wipe the little that had spilt on the table.

“Excuse me.”

They all looked up at the same time to find Anita the concierge standing a few feet away.  They were in the hotel’s second floor snack bar enjoying ice cream after a long day.  They had chosen the place because of convenience.  Olive was due at the hospital in thirty minutes.  Grace wanted to head out to meet her husband for a shopping spree.

“Yes?” Grace asked, her tone uninviting.

“Can I talk to you, Vicky?” Anita asked.

“You can talk here,” Grace said.

Victoria met Anita’s gaze and nodded.  She had no intention of being anywhere alone with Anita.

“Fine, whatever,” Anita said, taking a step closer to the table.

Thankfully, there were only two other people in the dining space.  It wasn’t rush hour yet.

“What do you want to say?” Victoria asked the younger woman.

“I want you to stop making trouble for me with Ronald.  He said he would fire me because of you.”  Anita’s expression was bitter.  “If you couldn’t make him happy, I don’t see why you have to take it out on me.”

Victoria gaped.

“Aren’t you out of line?” Grace asked.  “Victoria si sister yako, Anita.  You can’t come here to carpet her over a relationship you started on your own.”

“It’s not my fault Ronald chose me over her,” Anita snapped.  “All I’m saying is that she shouldn’t use her position to get me fired.  I have a family to support.”

“Are you implying that I’m trying to get you fired?” Victoria asked in shock.

“Yes.  I know you did this—

“Who told you?” Victoria cut in.

“Ronald,” Anita said.  “He said that my presence here annoys you.  So—,”

Victoria got up, forgetting her ice cream.

Anita froze, her expression full of fear.

Victoria sighed and moved around Grace to stand before the younger woman.

“Don’t worry about your job, Anita.”

“You don’t want me fired?”

“Why would I?” Victoria asked, shocked anyone would think of her this way.

Anita blinked.  “Aren’t you mad about me and Ronald?”

“Goodness, no,” Victoria said, realizing it then, as well.  “Anita, Ronald is a bastard.  If you want him, he is all yours.”

Turning to Grace and Olive, she smiled.  “I have to go upstairs and straighten this.  Call me?”

“Don’t punch him,” Grace said, winking at her.

“I love this hotel,” Olive said.  “You guys have way more drama than we do, and I work in a hospital.”

****

To be continued….Thank you for reading!

Previous Parts:

Picture Perfect – 15

Picture Perfect – 14