16 – Best Friends say it like it is.
Early the next morning, Koya stared at the back flat tire on her Mazda a sigh escaping. Of course, her day would start like this. It was six in the morning, the road quiet, with no one to ask for help this early in the morning. Shaking her heard at the situation, she reached up and held her braids in a ponytail. Walking around to the boot of her car, she popped it open and reached in for the jack and spare tire. Thankfully, she always had her car serviced and the spare tire was good.
She took off her heels and changed into white rubber shoes she kept in the boot. She was five minutes from home, but there was no need to trouble anyone there. It would only waste her time, and throw her off schedule.
Taking the jack, she placed it under her car and concentrated on lifting her back tire. Her father had shown her how to change a tire. Too worried she’d be helpless on the road, he had thought it a good skill to have. She was fitting the new tire when another car stopped behind hers, interrupting her concentration. Without looking up, she listened as the driver opened his door and she called out.
“Niko sawa,” she said. “Almost done.”
“You always liked the do-it-yourself policy,” Charles Dhali said behind her.
Koya looked up in surprise. Damn it, he was the last person she wanted to see.
Charlie stood a few feet away looking neat in a navy blue suit. His driver beside him.
“Isn’t it too early for you to be awake?” Koya asked, not stopping what she was doing.
She pushed the tire in tighter and reached for a bolt. She gasped when she was swiftly pulled up, and the bolt taken from her fingers.
“Koya,” Charlie said, moving her a few steps back. “I have missed your sarcasm.”
“What are you doing?” she demanded when Charlie handed the bolt to his driver.
The man was already quickly fitting her tire and turning the bolts in quick motions.
“I was fixing that.”
“You were,” Charlie said. “Now you’re getting help. I don’t remember you being so stubborn.”
“People change,” Koya said, pulling away from him.
Two women walked by, their gazes curious, Koya winced. A few more minutes and this incident would be the breakfast news on Ndwaru Road. She cursed under her breath.
“Why did you stop?” she complained.
“I’d never walk away from you when you need help,” Charlie said. “Koya, I want a chance to talk to you.”
“I don’t want to talk to you.”
Koya walked around the crouching driver and opened the front passenger seat. She rummaged in her bag, retrieving wet wipes after a second. Taking one towel, she used it to clean her hands.
“You don’t want to, or you’re afraid?” Charlie asked, coming to stand beside her.
His proximity more than she could handle today. She had spent last night working at giving her heart the chance to move on. Kim’s kiss while not earth-shattering, was warm and kind. She had promised to give him a try. Maybe, warm and kind was what she needed.
If so, she definitely shouldn’t be appreciating how intoxicating Charlie’s cologne was, or how he consistently refused to adhere to personal space rules.
Dumping the dirty wet wipe into a small paper bag from the glove compartment, she closed her hand bag and reached up to let her braids down. She escaped Charlie again, walking around to the trunk to get her heels.
Charlie followed her.
“I’m done, Sir,” the driver said, saving her. The man picked up the flat tire and jack. She moved away so that he could put them in her boot.
“What’s your name?” she asked the man.
“Thank you, Kuria. You’ve saved me.”
Kuria nodded, giving her a small grin before he headed back to the large black SUV Charlie used.
“Do you smile at every man you meet?” Charlie asked, as she wore her heels.
“Just the nice ones,” Koya answered.
Picking up her rubber shoes, she put them back in the boot and closed it.
“Thank you for stopping—,”
Charlie moved to stay her progress to the driver’s side.
“Koya, the more you push me away, the more I’m going to search you out. So, once again, meet me for lunch, dinner, hell even coffee.”
“I don’t want to,” Koya said. “I told you on Saturday. You and I are over. I don’t want to see you, or spend time with you. Leave me alone, Charlie.”
“Is that how you want to play this?” Charlie asked, when she shrugged his hold on her left arm off.
In answer to his question, she opened her door and slid in to the driver’s side. She waved at Kuria, and started the car. Seconds later, she pressed her foot down on the gas and sped off like the devil was chasing her.
Charlie watched the Mazda speed away and grimaced as Koya swerved to miss a bump on the road. She couldn’t even try to be careful. He was losing his mind worrying about her. Shaking his head, he went to his car and got in the back seat.
Getting his cell phone, he dialed Archer.
“Did the contract arrive?” he asked when Archer answered.
“Yes. She signed the five year contract with Mahali Travel.”
“Good,” he smiled and ended the call.
Fine, if Koya wouldn’t give him time, he would simply have to take it from her.
At lunch, Koya found herself seated across Ashi upstairs at the Green Corner restaurant. Ashi’s wedding preparations continued: chaotic, endless and taxing. The joys of marriage so beautifully wrapped in a nutshell.
“I have settled the catering, flowers, venue and entertainment,” Ashi counted down on her list. “Kim and Nic will deal with transportation.”
Koya got a receipt from her handbag and handed it over to Ashi. Ashi took the receipt, as she sipped her fresh mango juice.
“The receipt covers invitation cards, guest card names and all other printing you needed,” Koya said. “The delivery will be made tomorrow to your house. Looks like the wedding is ready.”
“Except the bridesmaid dresses,” Ashi complained. She stirred her juice with her straw. “You really won’t wear lime green?”
“Ashi, I love you, but we’re not wearing that color. Choose another one.”
“The wedding colors are forest green and white.” Ashi sat back in her seat. “White is obviously out of the question.”
“I can work with forest green,” Koya said.
“Great, we’ll talk to the tailor tomorrow morning,” Ashi said, marking it in the diary at her elbow. “So…now that my wedding is taking shape, how about you tell me what you decided about Kim?”
Koya reached for her orange juice and took a healthy sip. She stared out the windows at the busy parking lot behind the KCB bank and wondered if she could get a way with a lie.
Her date with Kim had gone well. Kim dropped her off at home at around ten o’clock, leaving her with a chaste kiss on her cheek. She had fun. The cooking, the laughing, the stars. How easy it was for Kim to make her laugh.
Only one small fault, she thought.
She met Ashi’s gaze now, thinking about Kim’s kiss. Her heart beat had sped up, but not in excitement…no…she’d felt nothing. It scared her to feel nothing, so she’d let Kim kiss her, her eyes closed, afraid of betraying the shallow depths inside her.
To feel warmth instead of passion….kisses weren’t meant to be so flat, she thought.
She knew, after all, Charlie’s kisses had driven her crazy. Hell, she was still obsessing over the scent of his cologne this morning. Koya shook her head at the insanity in her head.
“I can’t do it,” Koya confessed to Ashi in a whisper.
She didn’t want to hurt Kim.
“You mean you don’t want to give Kim a chance.” Ashi adjusted, leaning her elbows on the table, moving closer so that she studied Koya. “You and Kim are perfect. I know you don’t see it, but I do. He’s been in love with you for a while. He’s a guy who does everything he can for you.”
“I like him as a friend,” Koya said. “He seemed so happy last night, I couldn’t say anything.”
Ashi stuck the receipt Koya had given her into her purse. She stood up and picked up her set of shopping bags and handbag.
“I have something to say to you and this is not the place,” Ashi stated.
Koya reached for the bill, paid it and stood up, taking her own set of shopping bags. She followed Ashi down the stairs and out the restaurant onto the busy street. Ashi led the way to the parking lot. They’d used Ashi’s grey Toyota SUV today. Ashi unlocked the back and dumped their shopping bags on the backseat. She slammed the back passenger closed and turned to Koya.
“What do you want to tell me?” Koya asked.
Ashi leaned on the driver’s door.
“Koya, I’ve been your friend for as long as I can remember—,”
“Are you going to start a lecture in the middle of town?”
“You’re living in a shell,” Ashi said, glaring at her. “You don’t let anyone in, you’ve decided what happened with Charlie will happen again. I’m worried about you. Quit acting like a nun and let go, for god’s sake. Life is short.”
“I’m no nun,” Koya protested, looking around the busy parking lot. “Not all of us are lucky like you. We don’t have incredible Nic’s waiting for us.”
“Man bashing will get you nowhere with me. You not dating is about you and the issues in your head. Kim has been super patient, and now that he’s made a move, you’re acting like an idiot. Friendship is a gift, Koya.”
“Are you done?” Koya asked.
“No.” Ashi glared harder. “I wanted to tell you that you do like Kim. More than friends, otherwise you would never have let him kiss you. So stop lying to yourself. I’m done now. We can go.”
Ashi pushed off the car and opened the driver’s door. She got in and slammed the door closed. Koya stood staring at her, then laughed. There was nothing else to do when Ashi got this way.
Straightening her pale blue blouse over her jeans, she walked around to the other side and got into the front passenger side. Ashi was busy messing around with the radio.
“Do you still want to go back to the office?” Ashi asked, her tone more friendly.
“Yes. I need to sign LPOs and Hana left for Diani.”
“That sounds like loads of fun,” Ashi started the car. “You should have gone with her.”
“Next time,” Koya promised. “How are your parents taking the wedding arrangements?”
“The sagas continue. Nic’s dad and mom are coming to visit on Saturday. I’m afraid my extended relatives will show up with more hidden demands.”
“Like your uncle last time when he asked for a crate of booze?” Koya laughed. “Everyone wants a piece of your dowry.”
“You have no idea—,” Ashi said.
**Niko Sawa – I’m fine.
Thank you for reading *_*….to be continued.
Day 8 – Friends in stories and the roles they play…I loved this one because I love writing Ashi and how there she has been for Koya. It’s hard to find a connection to trust that long…so Day 8 was quite a fun write. I muddle along…