Zev’s Afrotheria – Chapter 1

Playlist – January 12th

Music is my go-to when I’m feeling a serious need to keep working.  Here’s my playlist of late:

1. Easy on Me – Adele

2. Burn – Ellie Goulding

3. Return to Love – Ellie Goulding & Andrea Bocelli

4. Cycles – Svrcina

5. Battle of the Bastards – Ramin Djawadi (Game of thrones ost)

6. Wild Life – One Republic

7. Fire on Fire – Sam Smith

8. Arcade – Duncan Lawrence

9. Bach, Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, Prelude – Yo Yo Ma

10. Heartache – One Ok Rock

From my playlist to yours, may you have mad inspiration in your creative journey.

On the Writing Desk – Work in Progress

A fresh new start for the year 2022.  I’m excited for new projects, and a new creative cycle.  Here is what is on the writing desk this year:

Zev’s Afrotheria – This is a story I’ve worked on off and on for the last few months. I’ll post it more often on this blog , look out for the chapters.

Zev Mablevi’s younger sister goes missing after a vicious attack on their home by ghost wraiths.  To find her, he needs the power of the Guardian Guild.  Zev gives up on his dreams to join the prestigious Tech Class and enters the Guardian Guild.  He works hard to join the most elite force in the guild on a quest to gain enough power to investigate his sister’s disappearance.  He soon meets Dahlia, a progressive scientist who believes she has found a way to win against the wraiths for good.  She needs a guardian who can take her to the top of the mountain where the ghost wraiths come from.  She promises Zev to help him find his sister if he gets her to the mountain and back.

Kipepeo – I started this during the 2019 nanowrimo cycle. I always feel it needs more work, so I’ll polish it up and share it soon.

Henson lives in a two-room house in with his mother and four siblings.  He wins a swimming competition in the local community center and wins a scholarship to Bayside College.  An elite school in the Lavington Hillsides.  There he meets Livia, the daughter of an affluent businessman.  They fall in love, but when her parents discover their relationship, they threaten to withdraw his scholarship. Livia breaks Henson’s heart to protect him.

Ten years later, Henson works in a reputable accounting firm in Nairobi.  He meets Livia, who is now managing her father’s business.  She needs help to save her family’s business from creditors.  Will Henson help her?

Jelani’s Empire – This is a tentative name for this story. In the books it is simply Ram & Amber. Hoping by the end of the year, it will be more than a shell.

Ram fights to recover his mother’s place in his family’s empire. This is a work in progress with no real blurb.  I’m lost in development world with it.

So much to do and write, and January is already underway.  ^_^ This is my list of work in progress.  I hope yours is going well too.

Notes Under the Door & Other Stories – Book Review

Notes Under the Door & Other Stories

By Michelle Chepchumba

Dead fathers. Critical mothers. Abusive marriages. Body insecurities. Young love. And always, expectations. Notes Under the Door is an anthology of seven African literary short stories that explores what it can mean to be a girl, a young woman, in a world that demands too much of women, and gives back too little. Set in urban Kenya, each story follows a girl or a woman grappling with the experience of being who they are – young, female, African, layered, complex, whole.

Book Review

Notes Under the Door & Other Stories is a collection of seven short stories.  Each story is a glimpse into a deeply profound moment.  A moment delving into the secret, complicated mind of Kenyan women at different stages of life.  The experiences described in these moments are tangible and feel very real.

Chepchumba’s characters speak on diverse, sensitive issues such as, unexpected pregnancy, and how hard it can be to acclimate to the dramatic change of life a baby brings.  She delves on relationships, and how hard they can be to maintain. A short story on domestic violence from the perspective of a young girl shows the impact it has on children. How domestic violence changes a child’s view of a parent.

Notes Under the Door gives this book its name.  It is a story tackling grief, obligations, and abortion. Each one of these adding on to the damaging effects on a mother at the time of abortion, and years later, when life continues on.

In Spilling into the World, a character asks, ‘…why can’t you decide you’re beautiful?’.  What a powerful question.  Spilling into the World looks at body image in a world where mainstream stereotypes impact women’s views of their own beauty, and their self-confidence.

A heartbreaking story told from the perspective of a young girl whose father does not look at her, nor treat her as ‘his princess’, concludes the collection.

Overall, Notes Under the Door & Other Stories reads like tales told from a best friend’s perspective.  Stories to make you feel, ‘Ah, I’m not alone in this. There are others like me.’ These stories depict women living experiences in our rapidly changing modern world.  They are a conversation to continue, and normalize.  I most enjoyed the realness of these short stories.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

(4.5 Stars)

Connect with Michelle on her blog

The Villainous Neighbor

It was less than two years after three children lost their daddy to a car crash.  The rawness of such a loss still fresh in their minds, the world seemed like a battlefield with every step.  Strangers turned to friends, while friends they had known left, not able to withstand the sense of grief clouding around the three children and their little mother.  It was a hard time for the small family of four.

Now, their home was a farm at the end of a stretch of land with a very muddy access road.  On very rainy days, a lake of sorts would form in the middle of the access road.  The mother of these three children would then have to find a way to get them across daily in order to get them to school.  There were two pairs of shoes to be worn.  Gumboots and rain coats to get through the massive swamp and school shoes to wear when the three children got to the bus stop.  The family that owned the property closest to the main road was kind and allowed a small path at the driest part inside their own farm away from the access road.  But even this little path would sometimes get hard to pass through.

In any case, the little family survived the best they could through the very rainy season and the massive swamp lake that formed in the middle of their access road.

One day, the neighbors who owned property opposite the little family’s farm opened a small gate on to their access road.  They wanted a second exit they said.  One that would allow them to have two gates.  One gate on their main road on the other side of their property, and the little one on the muddy access road with the swamp in the middle.

The mother of the children had no problem with this development.  In fact, she thought it would be a blessing.  Perhaps the kids would have an easier time going to school now.  They might use that small access to get to the drier road on the other side, and their path would be easier to school. 

In the dry season, this little gate never came to play for the little family.  Their access road was fine, and they went about their lives as usual.

Then the swamp in the middle of the road returned after a particularly rainy day.  It was holiday time, and the three children did not need to go to school.  However, their mother did want to send them to the shop, so she handed the three money and asked them to get a kilo of sugar from the shop.  They had seen others using the small gate made by the neighbors to escape the swamp, so they thought, ‘Oh, we can also try this gate.  It will be easier to escape mud and swampy water.’

They were nervous about it, after all this was a new route, but they thought they would try it and see if they could get to the other dry road.  After all, the owners also use their access road in the dry season.  All would surely be well.

They were wrong.

A panga is a Machette, very popular farming tool in Kenya

They barely made it to the opposite gate of the quiet property to the other road when a man came out swinging a panga from his house.  The panga was sharp, his words sharper and he chased them as one would chase thieves.  He screamed insults at them, and threatened to cut them to pieces, fear grew and the three children screamed running back home at the speed of light.  They forgot why they had ventured outside their home and went to find their mother.

When the three children ran home, their little mother was in shock at their crying faces.  She asked if they had been robbed off the money she gave for sugar, and tried to soothe them, wiping away their tears.  In minutes, she discovered their story and a burning anger fueled her to confront this villainous man who would dare threaten to cut her children with a sharp panga.

When she got to his gate, she asked him why he would do this, and he threatened the little mother, telling her to shut up or he’ll kill her.  This mother was not one to take insults quietly.  She screamed for help and the neighbors came.  As she was calling for help, this villainous man wrapped his hands around her neck and tried his best to rob her off breath.

It took three men to pull this villainous man off the little mother.  Her voice was hoarse from the assault. Her neck damaged. The three children were in shock.  Not less than two years ago, they had all buried their father after a car accident, now here was a man doing his best to turn them into orphans. Sinister yet, he was not sorry about it. 

It became clear that a path to the dry road on the other side was not worth this hefty price of death.

In any case, the courts became involved.  The villainous man was tried with attempted murder and the illegal path into the muddy access road was closed by a judge.

Life continued, as it often does.

Three little children grew up and in a blink twenty years passed.

Their little mother still struggles with neck problems, as a result of the assault on her neck.  Some nights she has to sleep with a neck collar.  The children often make sure it is new and available even when she travels. This was a price they paid for daring to think that all neighbors are made equal.

They all learned that the kindness of one family cannot be carried to the next family.  Their access road still gets terrible in the rain, but they endure and find ways to pass through it without complaint.  Muddy shoes are a much easier price to pay than death from murder by a villainous neighbor.

A few years ago, the villainous man’s family opened a path to the muddy access road again.  They use it unstopped by the little mother and the three children.  No pangas raised against them or hands wrapped around their throats in a grotesque picture of murderous intent. None of the villainous man’s family help fix the muddy road, after all they still have the other side to use during the rainy seasons.  This lesson is that the nature of a family’s values remains and does not change.

Recently, the little mother was helping one of her daughters transplant a tree from their gate into their farm.  She saw a woman pass their gate heading for the now illegal path at the end of their access road and said, “Ah, that’s that villainous man’s daughter. You should know her in case she comes to yell over electricity poles near their fence.”

Yes, the spectacle of a woman screaming over electricity poles has happened to the little mother, but that is a story for another day.

The little mother’s daughter spared the woman in question no glance.  After all that woman’s daddy almost cost her a mother.

“It’s better not to know or interact with them,” the daughter said. “Nothing good can come from it.”

“True, ” the little mother said, touching her neck.

In the end, the little family lives on, but the question still remains, what makes people so unreasonable as to want to murder over a small moment?

Can you forgive someone who tries his best to choke you to death because you asked a question about your children, who tried to pass a path this person’s opened, that others have used unstopped, but your children had to face a machette on the first attempt?  What would you do with this reality?

Life continues, as it always does.

How to get an ISBN in Kenya.

Assigning an ISBN number to your book in Kenya

  1. Get an account with the Kenya National Library Service(KNLS)  ISBN service here: ISBN website
  2. Create a Profile, adding important personal details.  Please note we did this as a Publishing Co., (request information if you want to do this as an individual.)
  3. Once  you are set up, click on the ISBN Products.  They offer options of buying 1 ISBN, 10 ISBNs,  100 ISBNs to 1,000 ISBNs.  Choose the number that fits your needs, and make the purchase.  This process is easy, and flexible, you may do it in cash, mobile payment, through the bank, whatever works for you.isbn
  4. Once payment is approved, wait to hear back from KNLS.  They are very fast about this, and you will get a message from them giving you your ISBN numbers, as well as the barcode that goes along with it.
  5. Here is a short guideline of how and when to use your ISBN when you get it and what to do with it once you get it. The ISBN site, sends these guidelines to you once your ISBN is approved.

You may allocate ISBN to the following publications:
– Printed books material
– Microfilms
– Educational video or movies
– Atlases and maps
– Publications in braille
– Electronic publications

ISBN should NOT be allocated to the following publications:
– Off print from periodicals
– Advertising materials (sales catalogs, price lists, prospectus, instructions publishing flyers, etc.)
– Wall posters, newspapers, leaflets
– Programs of theatrical, music and other performances
– List of exhibits without additional text
– Curricula of schools and colleges of all kinds
– Lecture and teaching materials of manuscripts character
– Calendars and diaries
– Form and coloring books

PLEASE ALSO NOTE that ISBN should always appear on the verso of the title page, or if this is not possible at the foot of the title page. It must also appear at the foot of the outside back cover at a prominent outside position.

FINALLY, remember that the BOOKS AND NEWSPAPERS ACT CAP. 111, Laws of Kenya, stipulate that every publisher MUST deposit 2 clean copies of their (new, future and back issues) with the Director, Kenya National Library Service, (National Reference and Bibliographic Dept.). This process begins by filling in details under the “My Publications” section when you log into the ISBN service, and later depositing the copies physically at the National Library for approval. You shall not be allowed to purchase further ISBNs until you complete this process for all issued ISBNs.

Now that you have your ISBN, consider Copyrighting your book with the Kenya Copyright Board

This procedure is for a first time buy, for a second time buy, make sure you have met all their requirements on submitting books to the National Library.

Dora Okeyo – EAFF Profile

The EA Friday Feature is a circle of five writers who write 1,000 word flash fiction stories every Friday and post them on their blogs.  This week, we feature these authors, as we get to know them better, and learn what inspires them to write their stories.

Dora from Nilichoandika

I’ve read loads of Dora’s stories.  I’ve also reviewed them on this same blog, so when she agreed to be part of the EA Friday Feature, I was excited.  It’s great to have a seasoned author write with you, she makes me want to keep going as she writes on like nothing will ever stop her.  Dora writes great romance stories, however, she’s branched off to delicious African Tales in her series of books called “The Currents Series.”  The first of which was Fire, and then there was Water, now here’s a glimpse of Wind.

When the wind blows, even the strongest of trees sways.
He felt it while he was at the training grounds.
The people who witnessed it said they had never known the wind to have such anger that it brought down branches of the strongest trees to fall on their roofs.
When he felt the wind on his face, he put down his shield and ran right into it.
The people who saw him wondered why he would do such a thing, but he knew where he was going.
He was Wema.
He was going back home, back to Leo.

Author Profile:

Dora is a wanderer whose writing attempts have earned her some reviews. She is neither famous nor rich, but loves reading and drinking coffee. She is currently forcing her family and close friends to read her book, Fire. It is available on Amazon.
To follow her day in day out life, forget reality TV, and follow her on Twitter, @herhar.

Elly in Nairobi: You are working on the Currents Series:  I’ve read your second book Water, and the following book three is out too.  Please tell us a bit about this series, what inspired it, and the passion in the story.

Dora: The Currents Series was inspired by a friend’s frustration with his Father on his responsibilities and studies. He kept saying how much his Dad wanted so much from him and he was tired.  So I thought that could be a theme, where you have such high expectations of your son and they do the exact opposite (as most if not all kids do). I didn’t start writing the series immediately, because it was more like “that could be a good plot right there” kinda feeling, but as time went by I gave it a shot and now I am writing the final book in the series.

Elly in Nairobi: Have you always written fiction?  How did you get started?  What made you feel, yes, I can sit down and put down fiction on paper?

 Dora: I cannot stipulate an exact time when I started writing fiction, but its always been snippets of stories and scenes in my mind and some have made their way online while most have found themselves in my journal.
There is however a story I wrote in high school called ‘Butterfly Gossips’ that made rounds in class, and had ardent followers even during lessons, especially the Agriculture and History lessons. This made me write more.

Elly in Nairobi: How do you see fiction in Kenya?  What would you like to see happen in terms of publishing, reading, movies e.t.c..Kenyan fiction

Dora: There are lots of writers in Kenya and social media has made it easy for aspiring writers to get feedback and have their works noticed. Isn’t it odd and grand that most people have blogs in Kenya? (Yep, lots of blogs)
On other hand, there is the need to nurture these writers because there is no regulation on the quality of content, and this could go a long way in improving the quality of blog posts and the writing.  I wish Kenya had a paper mill, yes, according to my history, Webuye paper mill was closed, but we need to produce paper because now that we import, paperbacks published in the country are expensive due to the tax on imported paper. You’ll see a book by a Kenyan Writer on the shelf but it’s going for eight hundred or a thousand shillings plus, yet right outside the supermarket there’s a vendor selling international books at a hundred shillings, wouldn’t that hinder you from buying the book by the Kenyan Writer? (It sure does)

Elly in Nairobi: Does your day job affect your writing habits in any way? What is the strangest question you’ve been asked when you say you write fiction?

Dora: Yes, it does. First, my job entails a lot of traveling and I can always encounter something amusing or frustrating to write about, but sometimes I am too exhausted to write.

The strangest question I’ve been asked when I say I am a Writer, has to definitely be ‘what do you write about?’
I always wonder isn’t that old? I prefer someone asking me to tell them about a story or a character that I wrote about. It’s still on what I write about but it focuses on a specific aspect.

Elly in Nairobi: Your favorite book?
Dora: I have a long list of books, but let’s say that I loved literature and narration through a lot of books, but when it comes to dialogue, it’s Chinua Achebe I resonate with the most.

Elly in Nairobi: Do you have another hobby?
   Dora: Yes, I love photography and cooking. If it can be fried, then I will fry it, nothing gets me like preparing fried food.

Elly in Nairobi: Anything else you’d like to tell your readers, or potential fans…
   Dora: Read as widely as you can, you can bury your nose in books, magazines, not just newspapers only, yes, and it never hurts to share a review of a good book. If you read a book, you have traveled on a journey with an author, and it wouldn’t hurt to share what you’ve learned from it with other people.

Get her Currents Books Here:

Also, she has a lot  of free stories to read, download them here.

Thank you so much for answering my questions Dora.

That wraps up the round of interviews from the EA Friday Feature writers.  Look forward to the September and October Issues.  Keep writing folks! And if you read it and love it, review it too.

Annemarie Musawale – EAFF Profile

The EA Friday Feature is a circle of five writers who write 1,000 word flash fiction stories every Friday and post them on their blogs.  This week, we feature these authors, as we get to know them better, and learn what inspires them to write their stories.

Annemarie from Child of Destiny

I love her stories because they always touch on the paranormal, the other world, or just plain fun.  Her wit makes me laugh, and let’s not forget the love of Sam and Dean in Supernatural.  This October, she’s worked on her story about a man named Bulitia.  He’s a man taken from his home and thrust into a new world, this story reminds me a bit of Amistad.  Annemarie has also published a book this October.

Child of Destiny is her third book out…here’s a short glimpse.

….“Where’s your grandmother?” he asked, in a tone that strove for light curiosity but ended up sounding 9adeaa199e5a6176d119271c9da987e2e13ff309merely exasperated.

She narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously; he noticed that they became almost black.

“Why?” she asked.

“Well, I’ve been here three times and haven’t really seen her. I just wondered…” he replied, managing this time to sound casual about it.

She seemed to think about his answer like she was searching for loopholes or hidden implications.

“She went to New Orleans,” she replied finally,“for the festival.”

“Festival?” he asked, intrigued.

He put down his brush and sat on the floor facing her.

“The Feast of the Dead,” she replied.

“The feast…of the dead?” he asked tentatively.

“Yes,” she replied without embellishment.

“You mean like Toussaint?” he asked, accenting it correctly in French.

“Yes,” she said in surprise that he knew that name.

“But…isn’t that like, on Halloween?” he asked, trying to get her to speak in more than one syllable.

“It is.” She replied.

He raised his eyebrows at her, and kept silence so she would be forced to fill it.

After a minute of staring, she sighed and said, “My grandpa George is buried in the family crypt in New Orleans. Every year, my grandmother and…other friends gather to celebrate the day of his death which was 17th of August, 1980. They prepare immortelles for his grave, burn candles and tell stories to remember him. It is a ceremony that starts on the day of his death and concludes on Toussaint or the All Saints Day as the Christians call it. This year is special because it’s the ten year anniversary of his death.”

This little speech brought up so many questions for him; he didn’t know where to start…

“By friends, you mean other witches?” he asked her, wondering if she would answer.

She did not generally talk about her witchyness. If it hadn’t been for The Charlotte Incident, he probably wouldn’t have believed the stories.

“Witches, warlocks, other family members…” she replied with a shrug…”

Read more of this story, get the book here: Child of Destiny

Author Profile:

Annemarie Musawale is a free spirited single mom with a passion for reading and writing stories.  She’s lived in Nairobi, Kenya for most of her life but considers herself to be a citizen of the world. She is a very cerebral person, able to exist mostly in her head which is very advantageous because the life of a writer is rather solitary. Her first story was written at some point in nursery school and her mother said, “Very Good, keep going”, so she did. But somehow she did not consider it as a career choice. She assumed writing stories is just what people do…like in their spare time. However when her son was about nine, he got a serious respiratory infection that required him to be admitted to hospital. Her job working as a pharm tech for a chemist meant she could not get any leave time to go be with her son in his time of need. That was when she considered a career change which would give her greater flexibility. Enter Academic Writing…which lead to other types of writing for money. Somehow, through that process, her first book, Child of Destiny was written and submitted to the Kwani Manuscript Project.  The rest is kind of history.

Elly in Nairobi:  You have recently published a book, Child of Destiny, tell us a bit about this book.
Annemarie:
Child of Destiny is the first book I wrote in this series (Child of Destiny series), yet it’s the last to be published. It’s about the power of love to overcome and what the magic of love can produce if you let it. It’s totally not a romantic story though. It serves too much realness for that. But because of its realness, it seems to me to be likely to happen sometime somewhere. That’s what I try to do with all my stories however outlandish; make them likely. I really enjoyed writing this one; I didn’t hold back in any area and people might go from fanning themselves in arousal to embarrassment. Hopefully it starts some conversations going. Mostly I just really want people to enjoy it.

Elly in Nairobi: What inspires you to write fiction?  What is your favorite thing about writing fiction?
Annemarie:
The thing I love about fiction is the creation of worlds and universes that both the reader and the writer can escape into when reality gets too harsh. Its also just another form of being a creative being that
God made us to be. Everyone has the gift of creation;mine is stories.

Elly in Nairobi:  What is your day like?
Annemarie:
My day begins with checking my mail and then my social media. After that, I set up my ‘office’ either on my verandah or my living room depending on the weather and my mood. Have some breakfast and get to
work. Sometimes I exercise before starting on my workday, other times I don’t. Depends on my energy levels. I write most of the day sometimes until past midnight with one or two stops for meals and lots of tea.

Elly in Nairobi:  The quirkiest thing you’ve done lately.
Annemarie:
The quirkiest thing I’ve done lately is DM Rihanna on twitter a link to my book I guess.

Elly in Nairobi: What is it like for you writing the EA Friday Feature?
  Annemarie: I enjoy the camaraderie of having five other writers collaborating with me. It’s a window to other worlds and teaches me something about how other writers are doing things. It also gives me feedback on my writing which is wonderful. I love honest feedback.

Elly in Nairobi Anything you’d like to tell your readers, and new fans.
Annemarie:
I’d like to tell my readers that I have created the Child of Destiny universe for their enjoyment and maybe also they learn something new they didn’t know. I try to base my legends and all in actual historical fact as much as possible though I don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Get her Book today:
9adeaa199e5a6176d119271c9da987e2e13ff309

Download it at Smashword

Price: $5

 

Thank you Annemarie for taking the time for this short interview.   I look forward to reading more stories from your blog.  Look forward to an interview from Vincent of Flashes of Vice

 

October Snippets – The EA Friday Feature

EAFF Sept

Beautiful October is coming to an end, and this month the EA Friday Feature writers have been letting their creative juices run wild.  The plan in October was to write without a prompt, and instead let the creative juices run.  Each participating blogger wrote 1,000 words on Friday, of an original story that fit their most favorite genre.

I love reading great stories, and these bloggers have not disappointed this month.

Next week, this blog features each of these amazing writers and their blogs.  I can’t wait to share their stories outside the EA Friday Feature.

Look forward to it.  Meanwhile, visit their blogs, read great stories.

 

E. A. Friday Feature Bloggers:

Dora from Nilichoandika

Annemarie from Child of Destiny

Vincent from Flashes of Vice

Maureen from Nepenthe

&

Elly from Love in Nairobi (that’s this blog)

 

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