Zuri Kabinda: Sweet & Lemon/ Big Numbers and Li’l Sisters – 2

“We have a two-day conference to be held at the St. John Riruta hall.  We’ve invited a hundred people to participate from the surrounding area.  I have to handle the program from the office.  I need you to help me handle venue logistics, food, and everything else.”

A hundred people, Zuri smiled.  She loved big numbers.

“I’m happy to help out, Mr. Khali.”

She got a brochure from a drawer to her right and handed it to him.

“These are our prices.”

When he took the elegant paper, she continued.

“We have a package for corporate events.  The price is reasonable and I assure you that my staff and I handle everything from day one to the last.”

Mr. Khali read the prices carefully.  She wondered if he always looked so serious.  Relief flooded her when he nodded in approval.

“Great.  Shall we get started?” she asked, picking up a pen and a diary from the corner of her desk.  “Let’s start with what the conference is about?”

Mr. Khali gave her his first genuine smile ready to relinquish control to her.

****

An hour later, Zuri walked along the path to the St. John Riruta Hall with Anjik and Lily.  She jotted notes in her diary while Lily and Anjik talked about the coming event.  Mr. Khali had written a check to pay the booking fee and a deposit of his estimate.

Zuri stopped at the entrance into the hall.  She’d introduced herself to the church secretary, and gotten permission to scout the hall.

“Can I work this event?” Lily asked, coming to lean on the fence beside her.  “Please?”

“I suppose that means I have to pay you?” Zuri asked with a slight grin.

“Money sounds good,” Lily said.  “I need to get my hair done, sis.  Weaves don’t come cheap.”

“Yeah sure, you can work the gig.  But, it sounds like a big wigs kind of thing.  So—”

“I know the drill,” Lily said happily.  “Be cordial and smart, no hitting on cute executives in perfect suits.  Jeez, Zuri, when do you let loose?”

“When my bank account is chubby,” Zuri answered.

Lily laughed then teased, “That’s like never, you hustler.”

“See what I mean?” Zuri said.  “Come on, we have to check the chairs in there and find out how many more we need.  Then we can go find out about food.”

“Yes, mistress,” Lily said, following her to the hall doors.

****

Have you read all about Zuri Kabinda? Catch up on all Zuri Kabinda’s Snippets below:

1. The Birthday Party Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

2. Sweet & Lemon Part 1 ,

Zuri Kabinda is a story about a young woman in her late twenties, living in Nairobi and struggling to make her Event Planning Business work.  Follow her as she works through the various challenges young entrepreneurs face, especially in a city like Nairobi.

Zuri is joined by her two best friends, Sonnie and Airi.  They’re the people she relies on, especially when she’s down on her luck and the world is imploding.

Zuri Kabinda: Sweet and Lemon/Family Relations -1

Zuri spent her Monday morning sorting out receipts and logging them into her accounting system.  It was her least favorite activity but a necessary one for her business records.  She’d found those records useful when she needed to get a loan from her bank.  Moving closer to her desk, she stared at a receipt from a supermarket without an items list.  She was busy writing in the paper cups she’d bought on the receipt when her office door swung open.

She glanced up at the skinny five foot two girl standing at the door.  Dressed in a pink silky blouse and white skinny jeans, long braids falling down her back, her baby sister was clearly in crisis.

“Zuri, help me,” Lily Kabinda wailed.  “My boyfriend wants to get married.  How can he think about marriage when I just finished college?  What do I do?”

Zuri sat back in her chair with a smile.

“Hi Lily,” she said, amused by her sister’s constant drama. This wasn’t the first time she had heard this question.  “How have you been?”

“Are you listening?” Lily asked, coming to sit in the chair across her desk.  “That guy won’t take no for an answer.  He keeps acting like I’m playing around.”

Zuri sighed.  “Lily, how long have you and this guy known each other?”

“Eight weeks,” Lily said dramatically.  “Imagine that, how could he talk about marriage?”

She chuckled because this was so typical of Lily.  In the last two years since Lily graduated from university, she’d had a series of crazy and weird relationships and jobs that made Zuri’s head spin.

“Break up with him,” Zuri advised.

“But I like him,” Lily said with a disappointed sigh.  “He actually makes sense when he talks, you know.  He’s real, he’s-,”

“Do you want to get married?” Zuri asked her.

“No!”  Lily’s eyes were wide with horror at the mere suggestion.

“Then, end it,” Zuri said studying her sister.

Lily groaned and leaned her elbows on her desk.  “That’s so final.  Do you ever think of how hard that will be for me?  ‘Break up, why do you get yourself in these situations’.  Your advice is so black and white, sis.”

Zuri laughed.  “Lily, you’re twenty-two years old, barely out of college.  Please work on getting a job, or come and work for me.”

Lily sat up and picked up a pen from the desk.  She stared at it for a moment and Zuri frowned at the pensive look on her sister’s face.

“Zuri, can I tell you something?”

“What?”

Lily sighed and met her gaze.  “Is it okay if I don’t like Henry’s new wife?”

Henry was their second oldest brother.  Zuri placed her receipts on top of her keyboard and got up.  She walked around the desk to take the seat beside Lily.

“What happened?” she asked, taking her sister’s hand.

Lily squeezed her fingers.  “Yesterday, I went to Henry’s house in Uthiru, just like I’ve always done on Sunday afternoon.  I just wanted to hang out a while, maybe help that woman make dinner.  Henry really likes when I make pilau.  Anyway, I show up, and she’s with her friends.  Henry was out.  That Doris acted as if I was a maid or something.  She made me clean all the dishes for the weird party they were having.  I ended up leaving early because I didn’t want to fight with her.”

Zuri took in a deep breath fighting the urge to run out and give her brother’s wife a piece of her mind.  No one mistreated her sister, no one!

“Zuri,” Lily said her tone unsure.

“What did she say to you?” Zuri asked her tone hard.

“Nothing,” Lily said with a sigh.  “Hey, relax before you jump your guns and go off running to yell at Doris.  She ignored me most of the time.  Acting as if I don’t exist or something-,”

“Don’t go there without me,” Zuri cut her off abruptly.  “If you need a place to hang out on Sunday, come over to my house.  Hmm…I don’t mind having you, Lily.”

“But Henry,” Lily said shaking her head.  “Does he have to stay with a woman like that?”

“Henry has made a choice,” Zuri said quietly.  “We both love him, so we can’t do anything to make him unhappy.  We can’t tell him not to like Doris, my dear.”

Lily sighed.  “Fine, so is it okay not to like her?”

Zuri chuckled and reached out to rub away the frown on Lily’s forehead.

“Yes, it’s okay not to like her.  Just don’t let it affect you so much that you don’t see Henry too.  And don’t be mean to Doris either. Let me know if she does something to hurt you. Is this why you’re freaking out about your boyfriend?”

Lily shrugged.  “You’re right about him.  He’s too clingy; I was going to let him go anyway.”

“Jeez,” Zuri said with a laugh.  “Look at you, so many boyfriends.”

“At least I’m trying.” Lily pointed out, squeezing her fingers.  “When are you going to give Devin the time of day?  He’s so into you.”

Zuri scowled.  “Don’t say things like that.  Devin and I are just friends.”

“Yeah, keep saying that,” Lily said with a laugh.

Anjik came in to the office with a short knock.

“I have a new client waiting for you.” Anjik smiled at Lily.  “Lily, come with me.  I’ll let you share my cinnamon rolls from Amari Bakery.”

Lily stood up to follow Anjik.

“Who is it?” Zuri asked Anjik when Lily left.

“He works for a publishing company,” Anjik said.  “He wants to plan a two day conference.”

Zuri smiled happily just as their client walked in.  A tall thin man with glasses resting on his nose.

“Good morning,” Zuri said, taking the man’s hand.  “I’m Zuri Kabinda, how can I help you today?

Zuri Kabinda is a story about a young woman in her late twenties, living in Nairobi and struggling to make her Event Planning Business work.  Follow her as she works through the various challenges young entrepreneurs face, especially in a city like Nairobi.

Zuri is joined by her two best friends, Sonnie and Airi.  They’re the people she relies on, especially when she’s down on her luck and the world is imploding.

Zuri Kabinda : The Birthday Party – Part 3

Heavy rain woke Zuri from a deep sleep.  She sat up on her bed, rubbing her eyes as she tried to shake off vague dreams.  Rain pounding on her window cleared the remaining cobwebs.

“No, no,” she said, as she bounded out of bed to her window.

Throwing back the curtains, she stared at the dark clouds overhead, and the water running down her windows.  It was six o’clock in the morning. She’d planned an outdoor birthday party for Mrs. Tolinda’s daughter.  That gave her approximately five hours to find tents.

Sleep escaped as she grabbed a pair of jeans and t-shirt from her closet.  Taking her phone, she hurried out to her small kitchen to start a pot of coffee as she thought about whom to call to get tents on such short notice.

She’d found a vendor by the time she made it to her office at seven o’clock.  The problem was he couldn’t deliver the tents because of a previous engagement.  She had to find her own transportation.

Anjik found her pacing their small reception hall with the phone pressed to her ear.

“What’s going on?”

“People want an arm and a leg to get tents from Kikuyu road to Lavington.”  Zuri sighed and ended another disappointing call.  “I need someone who’ll do me a favor without cost.”

“Call Devin,” Anjik suggested, dumping her bag on her desk.  “He’s always doing things for you.”

Zuri frowned.  “Now why didn’t I think of him?  Anjik, you’re the best.”

She grinned at Anjik, pulled up Devin’s number on her phone and dialed.  He answered on the second ring.

“Zuri?” he answered, his voice sleepy.

“Did I wake you?” she asked as sweetly as she could manage.  “It’s not too early, is it?”

He yawned on his end.

“It’s seven o’clock in the morning, gal.  What’s wrong?”

“Do I only call you when something’s wrong?”

“Then did you call me because you missed me?” he asked, his tone way too hopeful.

She chuckled, filled with guilt.  “Devin, I always miss you.  How’s your company doing?”

“Fine,” he said.  “Zuri?”

“Yeah?”

“Just tell me what you need help with.  It’s painful to listen to you beat around the bush.”

She bit her lip.  “I actually do need your help.  You have a Pick-Up truck and I need to get tents to an event in the next two hours.  Are you available?”

There was silence and then Devin cleared his throat.  “Yeah, sure, I’ll get ready.  Where do you want to meet?”

She sighed in relief.

“How about in thirty minutes?  Pick me up at my office and we’ll go together.  The tent place is on Kikuyu road.”

“Right, sure,” he yawned.  “You owe me breakfast.”

“Anything,” she answered and hung up.  She jumped up and down happily.  “Thank God for Devin.”

“You should really pay more attention to that guy,” Anjik said with a slight sigh.  “Ask yourself why he never says no to you.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Zuri said, slinging her handbag over her shoulder.  “I’ve no time right now.  Time to find out if Amari Bakery is on time.  I’m sure I can convince Devin to help me pick up the cake and party favors on our way to Lavington.  I’ll meet you there later.”

“Think about it, Zuri,” Anjik called after her.

****

Zuri got Devin a huge travel mug of coffee and mandazi from a shop close to the tent office.  They got the tents and headed to Amari Bakery on Ndwaru Road.  Maureen, the Bakery’s owner met them at the gates with the party favors, and the Birthday Cake: a four kg. Chocolate cake decorated with chocolate shavings.  Just looking at it, Zuri knew the birthday girl would love it at first sight.

Thanking Maureen, they headed out to Mrs. Tolinda’s home in Lavington.

“Where have you been this past month?” she asked Devin.

“In Nyeri,” he said, sipping his coffee.  “I got a huge contract to set up computers in a primary school there.  The job turned into five and suddenly the month was over.  You didn’t call me.”

She shrugged.  “I had a few problems of my own.”

Devin glanced at her for a second. 

“You sound sad.  Did something bad happen?”

“No,” she said, shaking her head, “just had a serious dry spell.  I was worried I might have to close my business if I didn’t get any clients.  It’s a scary thing.  I’ve sunk everything I have into it, you know.  I keep thinking what would I do if I closed Binda Events?”

“Find a job,” Devin answered casually.  “Get married, maybe start another business.  I don’t think you’d stay down for long, Zuri.  It’s not your style.”

“Get married, really?” she asked, looking at him.

Devin Makoto was those lean guys that just seemed never to gain weight no matter how much he ate.  He was a genius with computers and had managed to create an IT company that had clients all over the country.  He was innovative, easy going and industrious.  She could see how women would find him handsome: he had a cute face, and boyish charm.  He never failed to make her day.  They’d known each other since nursery school when he’d shared his juice box with her because he liked her strawberry jam sandwich.

“Don’t you think it’s something you’ll do soon?” he asked.

“I’m busy waking you up at seven o’clock in the morning, running around trying to make Binda Events work.  What time do you think I have to get married?”

“I was just asking a question,” he answered mildly.  “Jeez, Sonnie is right.  You have tunnel vision these days.”

“When did you and Sonnie talk about me?” she asked.

“She calls me all the time,” he said with a smile.

Zuri blinked.  “Well, good for you.  Maybe you can marry her then.”

“Now you’re getting pissy,” he chided.  “Relax, I was just teasing you.  You don’t need to get married.  In fact, I think I like seeing you live alone.”

“Such caring and warmth,” she teased.

He laughed, and turned onto the street Airi lived on.  Mrs. Tolinda’s house was opposite Airi’s house.

Devin backed up the driveway, going around Mrs. Tolinda’s house to the backyard.  She was glad to see the staff she hired standing in the garage, sorting through decorations.

“Okay, time to get to work,” she said and opened her door.  “Thanks, Devin.  I know I don’t say it enough, but I really do appreciate this.”

He smiled at her.  “You’re my girl, Zuri.  Call me anytime.”

The expression on his face made her pause, Anjik’s words flitting through her mind.  Did Devin like her?  She squelched her suspicions as fast as they came and got out of the truck.  She instead concentrated on getting tents erected for the party, as well as getting the bouncing castle up for the younger kids.

By the time they finished, her jeans were muddy, her t-shirt sweaty.  She spotted a new cut on her palm.  She’d gotten it helping Devin and the crew put up the tents.

“It looks great,” Devin said, coming to stand beside her.

The tents covered the back yard keeping away the rain, and creating a warm ambiance.  She’d scattered tables along the edges of the tent, leaving the middle for the kids to play and dance if they so wished.  The bouncing castle took up one end of the five tents.

They had set up a stage in one whole tent for the Deejay she’d gotten for the party.  Sweet sixteen birthdays were about being cool, and having music at your party.  She had gotten Deejay Dre, an up and coming entertainer, who’d give the kids a good time.

She set up the caterers in the open garage, and the cake was safely kept in Mrs. Tolinda’s kitchen.

“I didn’t think I’d make it,” she said after a minute.  “I can’t believe it’s finally done.”

“Time to change,” Devin poked her left arm, “you stink, Kabinda.”

She cuffed his shoulder.

“Whatever Devin,” she said, shaking her head.  “You look worse than I do.”

He grinned when she reached up to wipe mud from his jaw.  Conscious of Anjik’s earlier warnings, she stepped back and gave him a slight smile.

“I left a change of clothes at Airi’s house,” she said then.  “I’ll just head over and get a shower.”

Devin nodded.  “Sure thing, I need to go anyway.  I’ll see you later?”

“Sure, Devin,” she said and practically ran away from him.

****

“You ran away?” Sonnie asked with a laugh.  “You ran…”

Zuri scowled when Sonnie burst out laughing.

“Hey, that’s not fair.  It’s not my fault I started thinking he wanted me.  Blame Anjik.  That darned girl speculates too much.  She’s making me paranoid.”

“Well,” Airi said, coming to help her zip her dress.  “Anjik is not speculating anything.  We can all see how much Devin cares for you.  I mean, you drag him out of bed at seven o’clock and he comes running without complaint.”

“He demanded breakfast,” Zuri pointed out as she swept up her braids into a top ponytail.

“Yeah well, that was more like his woman feeding him,” Sonnie said still chuckling.  “Devin likes you, Zuri.”

“I’m not listening to either of you,” Zuri said decisively.

If she did, she would have to reevaluate every conversation she’d had with Devin, and that was just too much work.  It would break her concentration on her business, and she couldn’t afford that right now.

“Fine, we’re just putting it out there.”  Airi sat on the couch beside Sonnie.  “So, where does this event put the business?”

“We’re in the black, but it’s shaky,” she said with a sigh.  She sat on Airi’s bed.  “I need to do serious marketing.  I’m going to need a few more clients before I can breathe at all.”

“Well,” Airi said, shrugging her shoulder elegantly.  “I can help with the marketing for now.  At no cost, of course.  I don’t have anything to do, and I liked talking to Mrs. Tolinda for you.”

Zuri beamed. 

“What would I do without you two?”

Airi grinned.  “Stumble along blindly.”

They all laughed.

Later at the birthday party, Zuri stood in one corner sipping a glass of orange juice.  Her gaze sharply taking in the events as they unfolded around the tents.  The caterers ran a smooth shift: no one had missed any food.  The Deejay had the kids jumping up and down with excitement.  She smiled as she watched the birthday girl scream happily when her favorite song came on.  Their parents sat talking at the tables she’d set in intervals.

Everyone was having a good time.

Zuri smiled because Mrs. Tolinda had given her a check ten minutes ago.  The amount would go into her bank and finally clear any arrears she had with the bank.  She also had extra money to clear Anjik’s salary and pay back Sonnie.

“You look happy,” Sonnie said, coming to stand beside her.

“I am,” she said, watching Airi talk to Mrs. Tolinda.  “I’m glad I’m in the Trep Zone.”

“Trep Zone?”

“Entrepreneur Zone,” she clarified with a smile.  “There are bad days, like two days ago when I had no idea where I was going to get money.  And then, there are really good days, like today.  I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”

Sonnie nodded and slid an arm around Zuri’s waist. 

“Well, that’s great.  What about days you realize your guy friend likes you?”

Zuri groaned as she watched Devin walk into the party all dressed up.

“I call those ‘feign-ignorance-days’.  I can’t afford relationship drama right now.”

****

<—The Birthday Party – Part 2   

To be continued…thank you for reading!

Zuri is joined by her two best friends, Sonnie and Airi.  They’re the people she relies on, especially when she’s down on her luck and the world is imploding.

Zuri Kabinda is a story about a young woman in her late twenties, living in Nairobi and struggling to make her Event Planning Business work.  Follow her as she works through the various challenges young entrepreneurs face, especially in a city like Nairobi.

All baked goods mentioned refer to the Amari Baking Center

Zuri Kabinda: The Birthday Party – Part 2

Airi to the Rescue

That evening, back in her one bedroom apartment, Zuri grabbed her towel from the foot of her bed and turned to Sonnie.

“Where are we going again?”

“You’re not the only one with problems.  Airi called me earlier.”

Zuri groaned.  “What’s wrong now?”

“Her boyfriend has flown out of the country and he didn’t tell her for how long.”

Sonnie sat on her bed as she rushed into the adjoining bathroom.

“One of these days, Airi is going to have to make a choice.  Living like a kept woman is so not cool.”

Zuri sighed and closed the shower door.  She turned on the shower, made sure it was steaming hot before she jumped in for a quick wash.  The heat soothed her tired muscles, and she closed her eyes as she took in a deep breath.  The day had ended much better than she’d imagined.  Her loan was paid, Anjik was paid….sort of…she’d paid the girl half her salary.  Now all she needed was a client.

She was thankful for Sonnie.  They’d grown up together, gone to the same high school and university.  They’d also worked in the same advertising company until Zuri quit two years ago.  Sonnie grounded her when her world was imploding.  Together, they grounded Airi who was always having problems with her longtime boyfriend.

Zuri washed up quickly and stepped out of the shower in five minutes.  She grabbed a towel and heard Sonnie call out from her bedroom.

“Don’t forget to shave your legs.”

Zuri put toothpaste on her toothbrush, stuck it in her mouth and reached for the razor.  Propping her foot on the toilet seat, she grinned at the thought of an evening spent listening to Airi complain about her boyfriend.

Five minutes later, she hurried into her room to find Sonnie had laid out a white and pink sundress for her.

She grabbed a bottle of lotion from the top of a chest of drawers set against the wall and sat in an armchair by the window.

“I wish Airi would leave that man,” Zuri said with a sigh.

“I don’t think she can,” Sonnie said lying back on her bed.  “She’s spent the past three years holding on to him.  She’s invested time, her heart, emotions…do you think she’d give him up so easily?”

Zuri concentrated on dressing.  “I guess when you put it that way it makes sense, but surely,” she shook her head.  “I don’t understand why she needs to keep staying with a guy who treats her like a second thought.”

“Fear,” Sonnie said sadly.  “Fear to be alone.”

Zuri pulled on the dress over a white short slip and turned so that Sonnie could zip it up.  When it was done, she reached up removed the hair band holding her braids up.  The long braids fell down her back and she ran her fingers through them with a relieved sigh.

“Aren’t you afraid of being alone?” Sonnie asked getting off the bed.

“Do I look like I have time to be concerned about loneliness?”

Zuri grabbed a tube of lip-gloss from her dresser, used it negligently, before she dumped it in her purse.  Taking a beaded flower ring, she slipped it on her right middle finger and smiled at Sonnie.

“How do I look?”

“Pretty,” Sonnie said leading the way out of her bedroom.  “And stop changing the subject.  You can’t tell me you’ve never thought about it.  You’re twenty-seven years old.  I’m sure your mum keeps mentioning it.”

“She’s open-minded,” Zuri said stopping in a small closet in the corridor to take out a pair of white wedges.  She slipped them on, and watched Sonnie take her own purse from the coffee table.  “She’s more worried about my lack of a steady income.”

“Well, you’re lucky,” Sonnie said as they headed out.  “My mum thinks we should have married at age twenty.”

Zuri chuckled.  “No she doesn’t.  Your mum just worries about you, Sonnie.  She’s very sweet when we talk.  Yesterday, she called me to ask the best place to buy wholesale flour.  I directed her to that shop we like in Kawangware.”

“Come to think of it, should I be jealous that you get along with my mother better than I do?”

“You get along with my mum too.”  Zuri pointed out as they went down the stairs.

Sonnie chuckled.  “I guess that makes us even.  Should we walk up to take a forty-six bus?”

“Yeah, it’s easier than taking a matatu here and then connecting.”

****

Airi Kwetu lived in Lavington, at a two-story house that belonged to her boyfriend Evan Latema.  They’d lived together for two years.  Zuri couldn’t remember a time Airi had ever lived her life without Evan drama.

Airi met them at the door, dressed in grey sweat pants and a t-shirt.  Her eyes were red, as though she’d been crying all day, and when she ushered them into the living room, Zuri sighed when she saw the bottle of Baileys sitting on the coffee table.

“How long have you been in here?” Zuri asked, although the used tissues on the coffee table told their own story.

Airi might have used an entire box; used tissues piled a tray on the table.

“All day, I was watching movies,” Airi said quietly.  “Thanks for coming ladies.  I’m so glad you came.”

“You know what, sit.  I think it’s time we changed what you’re drinking,” Zuri said.  “I’ll make some coffee.”

Sonnie drew Airi to the couch and Zuri grabbed the tray of tissues, the bottle of Baileys and the used glass.  She took them to the kitchen, grimacing when she had to discard the tissues in the trashcan.

She started making coffee and rummaged in the stocked cupboards for food.  Fifteen minutes later, she went back to the living room with a fresh pot of coffee, and a plate piled with peanut butter cookies.

“Airi’s thinking of getting a job,” Sonnie announced when Zuri had served everyone.

“What kind of job?” Zuri asked, sipping her coffee, careful to wear a blank expression.

Airi’s business ideas were perishable, like flowers blooming at night and withering in the morning.  The last time her boyfriend left, she’d decided to start a fashion business.  The idea only lasted until Airi registered the business name.

“I don’t know, maybe consulting,” Airi said softly.  She stared into her coffee mug.  “Maybe, I’ll join Zuri in her business and help her plan parties.”

Zuri winced.  Airi was bossy, and demanding.  She couldn’t imagine working with Airi on a day-to-day basis.

“Well, we could work something out,” Zuri said cordially.

Sonnie gave her a skeptical glance before she turned to their friend.

“Airi,  you need to take a few more days before you jump into any serious project.  If you want something to do, help us find Zuri an event to plan.”

Airi sighed, still staring into her coffee, and then she looked up with a small smile.

“What?” Zuri asked when the smile only widened.

“I might have something,” Airi said happily, the shadows in her eyes disappearing.  “Remember Mrs. Tolinda?”

“Your neighbor?” Zuri asked, with a frown.

“Yeah, we had an estate meeting the other day.  I heard Mrs. Tolinda wanted to throw a sweet sixteen party for her daughter.  I’ll give her a call.”

Airi jumped up and ran off to find her phone.  Zuri met Sonnie’s gaze and smiled.

“At least she got off the couch,” Sonnie said, biting into her cookie.  “Jeez, I think I have to go to the gym tomorrow.  Between you and Airi, I’ll end up gaining a ton.”

Zuri laughed and they both stopped in surprise when Airi returned dressed up in tight black jeans, top, and vibrant red heels.  There was no sign of the lost woman who met them at the door.  She was with purpose again.

“Come on, ladies,” Airi said, waving her car keys.  “Mrs. Tolinda wants to meet.  I think we got Binda Events a gig.”

***

← The Birthday Party – Part 1

To be continued….thanks for reading ^_^

Zuri Kabinda is a story about a young woman in her late twenties, living in Nairobi and struggling to make her Event Planning Business work.  Follow her as she works through the various challenges young entrepreneurs face, especially in a city like Nairobi.

Zuri is joined by her two best friends, Sonnie and Airi.  They’re the people she relies on, especially when she’s down on her luck and the world is imploding.

All baked goods mentioned refer to the Amari Baking Center

 

 

Zuri Kabinda: The Birthday Party – Part 1

“Please.”

Such a simple word, a pleading word, Zuri Kabinda thought as she said it again.

“Please give me time.  I will make the payment in two weeks.”

“Miss Kabinda, why did you let it get this bad?” Sylvia, her loan officer, asked.

The woman spoke as though she hadn’t made her payments on time.  Shaking her head, Zuri prayed for help from a higher power.

“I’m trying to make you understand my situation.  Business was slow last month.  The money I had paid my business expenses.  I’ll do my best to fund raise for this last payment, but it will take me at least two weeks.  Please, don’t blacklist me.”

“You’re making things hard for me.  If you can’t pay your installment in time–”

“I have paid on time for the last six months.  This is the final payment, please.  I’ll make sure it’s done.”

Zuri owned an event planning business named Binda Events.  She’d started Binda Events two years ago, after quitting her advertising job in an international firm.  Her mother had not taken that move well.  Start-up was hard and challenging, most months she struggled to make ends meet, but this month was especially hard.  She hadn’t gotten any events to plan in two weeks.  With no income coming in, she was strapped for cash.

Sylvia let out another sigh and Zuri crossed her fingers on her lap.  She really needed this woman to consent.  She’d woken up this morning to a call from the bank urging her to pay her loan arrears.  A loan she’d taken six months ago to expand her business.  Six months ago, she’d opened an office and hired an assistant to help her with the influx of clients she’d gained.  Her clients seemed to have dwindled this last month, bringing her sales down.

Last night, she spent the evening paying bills and counting the amount left in her personal account with apprehension.

She needed a client and soon.

“Miss Kabinda,” Sylvia interrupted her thoughts.  “I’m giving you two weeks.  I’m counting on you to make a payment on time otherwise; we’re both going to end up in a tough position.  Do you understand?”

Elated, Zuri held out her hand to Sylvia and when the woman shook hers, she smiled.

“Thank you so much.  I’m not going to let you down.  I promise.  Thank you.”

Letting go of Sylvia’s hand, she grabbed her handbag and dashed out of the cubicle before the woman changed her mind.

She left the bank in a state of anxiety.  The sun blazed above in that merciless January way.  She still had to walk to the Binda Events offices.  Biting back a groan, she crossed Kikuyu road and headed toward the Riruta Catholic Church.  Her office building was along Naivasha Road across from the church.

Zuri hoped her assistant had gotten one client even if it was to plan a small tea gathering.

A stone caught in her shoe and she paused to get it out.  Her feet were dusty from walking up and down this morning, trying to raise enough cash for rent.  Her phone buzzed and she reached for it with a frown.

“Binda Events,” she said, as pleasantly as she could manage.

“I’m not calling for money,” her best friend Sonnie said with a laugh.  “Jeez, cheer up. What did the loan officer say?”

“She gave me two weeks,” Zuri said with a relieved sigh.  “Where are you?”

“At your office, hurry,” Sonnie said.  “I got you something.”

Sonnie Togo ended the call as abruptly as it started.

Zuri bit back a chuckle and increased her pace heading to her office.  She reached the small shopping center across the church and slowed down.  The apartment complex where she lived, dwarfed her office building.  She’d been lucky to get an office so close to her home.

Passing a butcher and a salon, she entered the reception area of her small office to find her assistant Anjik and Sonnie laughing merrily.

“There she is,” Sonnie said and stood up holding a white cake box.  “I have the fix for all your problems.”

Zuri grinned as Sonnie opened the box to reveal nine delicious chocolate cupcakes.  Taking one cupcake, she took a bite and sighed in appreciation.  She always loved Amari Cupcakes.  Soft, moist, and so full of chocolate, her worries disappeared at the first taste.  She took a seat on one of the reception chairs and dropped her handbag on the seat beside her with a sigh.

Taking another bite-,

Mmm…chocolate could cure all problems, she thought as she demolished the cupcake.  She glanced up to find Sonnie and Anjik watching her.

“What?” she asked.

“Was it that good?” Anjik asked with amusement.

“I was starving,” Zuri said.

Sonnie laughed. “It’s a good thing I bought the box of nine then.  Anjik, get some coffee please.”

When Anjik hurried off to their tiny little kitchen in the back, Sonnie turned to look at her.

“How bad is it?”

“My loan is overdue and the loan officer was threatening to blacklist me this morning.  I just spent the last hour convincing her to give me time.”

“At least she agreed,”Sonnie said, reaching for her handbag.  Zuri ate another cupcake as her friend got an envelope from her purse and held it out.  “Here.”

Placing her cupcake on a napkin on Anjik’s desk, Zuri took the envelope and opened it to find ten thousand shillings.  Zuri felt a lump of tears lodge in her throat. She took in a deep breath to get a hold of her emotions.

“You don’t have to do this, Sonnie.”

“What are friends for?” Sonnie asked with a small smile.  “I have the cash, and you need it.”

Zuri moved then, wrapping Sonnie in a tight hug.

“Thank you,” she said,the word sounding inadequate.  It was so small; it couldn’t possibly express her gratitude in this situation.  “Gosh, Sonnie, you’re like an angel sent to me.”

Sonnie patted her back with a small chuckle.  “Relax, I didn’t do it alone.  Airi contributed too.”

Airi Ketu was her other best friend.

“But you put her up to it,” Zuri said pulling back, hugging the envelope.  “What would I do without you two?”

Sonnie winked.  “Stumble along blindly, but you’d be okay.  What happens now?”

Letting out a relieved breath, Zuri smiled.

 “I’ll make the loan payment, which is four thousand,and then search for a client.  If you know someone who has an event, direct them my way.”

Zuri put the envelope in her handbag and met Sonnie’s gaze.

“I’m insane.  I mean, giving up a regular paycheck for this, you’d call me crazy, right?”

Sonnie shrugged studying her cupcake.

“I think you’re brave.  I’m in a job, and I wish I was you.”

“What part?” Zuri asked with a laugh.  “Broke, messy hair or the cupboards full of noodles?”

Sonnie laughed. 

“Your independence, you’re your own boss, you own a business…should I keep going?”

Zuri smiled and shook her head.  “Thanks Sonnie.”

Anjik came in with a flask of coffee and three cups.  They sat around Anjik’s desk, enjoying Amari Chocolate Cupcakes.  Her world wasn’t perfect, Zuri thought, as she listened to Anjik and Sonnie talk about who to hassle for an event, but it was almost there. 

Now, if she could just get a client.

***

To be continued…Thank you for reading!

Zuri Kabinda is a story about a young woman in her late twenties, living in Nairobi and struggling to make her Event Planning Business work.  Follow her as she works through the various challenges young entrepreneurs face, especially in a city like Nairobi.

Zuri is joined by her two best friends, Sonnie and Airi.  They’re the people she relies on, especially when she’s down on her luck and the world is imploding.

All baked goods mentioned refer to the Amari Baking Center

Life on the Fast Track – Track 23 (Final)

Track 23 – Our Life Together

Danny drove Jasmine home, after calling Jimmy to pick up her car. Ignoring the messy dining table, she sat on the couch and took the glass of water Danny got her.  After, he sat with her and she told him about Daryl’s situation with their father.

“He makes it hard for the rest because of me.  I refused to follow Daddy’s plans,”Jasmine murmured, studying her hands.  “I’m the eldest, the one supposed to show a good example.  When I moved out and chose different, he cut me off.  It seems like he’ll never forgive me for going against him.”

“Jazz.”

“I told you my dad is not like yours,” Jasmine murmured.  “He’ll take one look at you and shake his head.  You might never get along.”

Danny smiled then.

“Are you thinking of introducing me to him?”

Jasmine looked at him, her heart racing.

“If it’s what you want too,” she said.  “Just so you know, meeting my dad—

“I’m in all the way,” Danny cutin.  “I want you for life, Jasmine.  I hope that’s what we’re discussing here.  “I want nothing less”

Jasmine bit her bottom lip and nodded.  She looked away after a moment.

“I’m sorry my father will be a pain, when your dad was so nice to me.”

Jasmine shook her head.

“Dads are supposed to be over protective when it comes to their daughters,” Danny said, pulling her into his arms so that she rested against his chest. “We’ll face him together, Jazz.”

Danny’s together sounded like a gift.  She didn’t feel so alone hearing it.  The world seemed bearable with the sound of that together.

Jasmine took in a deep breath and let it out, feeling relieved for the first time in hours.

“Thank you, Danny.”

****

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon,Jasmine finished filing invoices from a distribution company in Mombasa.  She shut down her workstation for the day and got up, ready to leave.  Stretching her arms above her head, she winced when her back cracked.  A bitter sweet release from tension.  Her phone buzzed and she dropped her arms,her gaze on the lighted screen.

She answered the call with a smile.

“How did you know I was leaving?”

“I know you,” Terry said with a small laugh.  “Come out.  I’m waiting by your car.”

Jasmine had not seen Terry since the day she left Danny’s house, the night of the race.  They had written each other short messages,but not really talked.  It was weird not talking to Terry about everything.

“How did you get here?” Jasmine took her handbag and her sweater in a hurry. She left her office and waved at the receptionist who gave her a thumbs up as she ran to the front doors.  “You should have told me when you reached.”

“I used Taxify,” Terry said.  “I was just finishing with him before I called you.”

Jasmine saw Terry first.  She was leaning on Jasmine’s car, looking fabulous as always.  Jasmine ended the call and walked fast to her car.

“Hey, you,” Jasmine said, when she reached Terry.

Terry pulled her into a tight hug as though they had not seen each other in ages.

“Danny told me you and him are official,” Terry said into Jasmine’s shoulder. “I’m really happy, Jasmine.  I always hoped but dared not say anything.”

Jasmine smiled.  “Hoped for what?”

“That you’d be my sister,” Terry said, still holding on to Jasmine.  “I would have hated it if you two broke up or something over the racing thing.  I’m glad it’s all worked out now.”

Jasmine rubbed Terry’s back, gentle strokes designed to soothe.  She had not stopped to think Terry worried about losing her.  She had not thought that at all.

“Terry,” Jasmine leaned back to look at her.  “You won’t get rid of me that easily.  Even if Danny and I don’t work out, I’ll still show up at your shop and make you dress me.  You know I suck at finding clothes.”

Terry chuckled, and agreed with a nod.  She stepped back and touched the pink blouse Jasmine was wearing today to compliment her black jeans.

“This does look really good on you,”Terry said.  “And you had refused to buy it, saying it didn’t fit.”

Jasmine smiled and pressed a kiss on Terry’s cheek.

“I missed you, Terry.”

Terry pinched her cheek and waved to the car.

“Well, let’s go.  I heard your brother was hanging out at Danny’s garage today.  You wanna go check on him?  We can go celebrate after, have dinner or something at Dad’s place.”

“Sounds great,” Jasmine unlocked her car as Terry went around to the passenger side.

The drive to Danny’s garage went fast as Terry told her about getting new clients for her boutique.

“I’m so glad the Adrian saga is over and done with,” Terry said.  “Did you hear about Tyler?”

“What about Tyler?” Jasmine asked as she turned on to the street where Danny’s garage was.

“He helped the police arrest Adrian, and provided them with evidence to put him in.  He’s taken over Adrian’s businesses.  I didn’t think he had it in him.”

“Wow,” Jasmine drove into the garage and parked in the parking lot, next to Danny’s car.  “Who would have thought?”

“Jimmy says that Danny talked him into it,” Terry said, shaking her head.  “I believe it.”

Jasmine turned off her car and stared at Danny’s business.  The garage was alive with activity.  Three clients standing by their vehicles as Danny’s mechanics checked tires, and engines, and whatever else.  It annoyed her that she didn’t have the knowledge to name whatever else.

“I think I have to start learning about cars,” Jasmine said, the thought suddenly so clear.

Terry laughed, long and hard.

“What?”

“Welcome to the family, Jasmine Lima,” Terry said as she opened her door.

End of Track coming up!

Jasmine followed her into the garage, stopping in a corner when she saw her little brother having a serious talk with Jimmy.  Their heads bent over a car engine, with Jimmy using a screw while Daryl helped.

Terry started to walk over, taking her along, but Jasmine refused.  She didn’t want to take this away from her brother. He looked happy and at home doing what interested him.  It was enough watching him work with Jimmy.

“Jazz.”

She turned and smiled wide when she saw Danny.

“Hey.”

“You came.”

Jasmine nodded, waving a hand to take in the garage.

“I thought I should see where you spend your days.”  She lifted her shoulders.  “I can’t move engines, but I can drive a car, manage the receipts or arrange the new oils.  After work of course.”

Danny grinned and opened his arms.

She walked into them and he laughed when she jumped up and wrapped her legs around his waist.  Danny hugged her to him and whirled her around.

Catcalls and whistles greeted their embrace, Danny ignored them holding her tight making Jasmine feel as though she had finally found her place.

***

Life was not about the happy ending, but what happened after.  Jasmine embraced a new world with Danny.  Sure,she held her breath when he joined races. Sometimes he won, other times, he lost and was in a terrible mood for a week.  She learned to coax him out of those bad days.  When Daryl moved out of home in protest of their father, Danny helped her cope with the constant calls from her father.


Life was not about the happy ending, but what happened after.  Jasmine embraced a new world with Danny. 

She loved Danny even more for letting her little brother stay at his house, and work at the garage for money.  When their dad discovered what his son was doing, he agreed to pay for any degree Daryl wanted.

When Jenny was stranded on the road because her purse was snatched, Danny was the one to pick Jenny up and take her home.

So many little things that amounted to so much.  A year after the Adrian saga, Jasmine sat on the couch at her parents’ house facing her father once more.  Danny sat beside her dressed in a formal dress shirt and trousers, looking more nervous than a new mother.  Wanja busied herself with pouring tea for them.

Taking a deep breath, Jasmine held Danny’s hand and smiled at Duncan Lima.

“Daddy, this is Danny Kihome.  I’m going to marry him.”

Duncan Lima glared at Danny, and a new tale began.

****

End of Tracks….Rough Road ahead!

Thank you for reading Life on the Fast Track!

Life on the Fast Track – 22

Track 22: My parents make me want to lose my isht….still, I love them.

What a day, was all Jasmine could think as she drove into her family home.  The one-acre plot was set up like a farm.  Her mother dabbled in farming: growing house veggies like cabbage, lettuce, carrots and herbs.  Her father kept two cows, for fresh milk.  His pride when looking at those two cows was enough to ignore the amount of energy spent finding food for them.  It was good luck that her parents hired a workman.  Otherwise, Daryl and Jenny would never escape the duties of milking in the early morning before the birds woke up.

Jasmine chuckled as she parked her car in front of her parents’ cute ranch-style house.  A grey cat stood outside the front door, staring at the new arrivals.

Kanyau was a permanent fixture here.  Once, when she went missing for a day, the whole house was outside looking for her.  Only to discover the cat was stuck in the ceiling trying to catch a rat.

Jasmine shook her head.  The memories in this place were too many.  Some fond, others…her father stepped out of the house, and she grimaced.  Others, she preferred to forget.

She got out of her car, watching her mother greet her dad with a wide smile.

Wanja had driven her car home, knowing Danny would bring Jenny and Daryl home.

Jasmine walked to her father.

“Daddy,” she said, and he took her hand pulling her in for a hug, holding her tight.

“Look at you, you grow beautiful with time, Jasmine.”

Jasmine chuckled when her dad stepped back to give her a good look.

“Have you been taking care of yourself?”

“Yes.” Jasmine nodded, urging him into the house after her mother.  “What about you?”

“I’m an old man worrying about my children.  How do you think I’m doing?”

Jasmine bit her lip watching her dad settle on the couch.  The Sunday paper a mess on the table.  Her father liked to read the paper on Sundays.  Doing the crossword puzzles and checking the answers from last week’s paper.

Wanja had gone to the master bedroom, so Jasmine sat on the armchair across her father.  Catching up was easy, her dad was a great listener.  Jasmine found herself telling him about her work, the good days, and the frustrating ones.  Two hours passed by, and Wanja entered the living room carrying three mugs of coffee.  She handed one to her husband, and the other to Jasmine.

“Jazz, tell your dad what brought you here today,” Wanja said, as she sat down to drink from her own mug.  “It’s getting late, and tomorrow you have work.”

Jasmine placed her mug on the coffee table and met her father’s frowning gaze.

“Jasmine?”

She took in a deep breath before plunging in.

“It’s about Daryl.”

“If Daryl has something to say to me, he should come and tell me.”

“He has tried, hasn’t he?” Jasmine asked.  “You won’t listen to him when he says he doesn’t want the military, accounting or medicine.”

“You’re the one encouraging him to fight my plans,” her dad accused.  “He left the house the last time we were discussing this topic.  Jazz, don’t fill his head with ideas.  I know what’s good for him.”

“I’m only supporting my brother’s ideas about his own life, and you should too.”  Jasmine shook her head.  “Sometimes it feels as though you’re making us fulfill the dreams you didn’t finish.  You must have wanted to be an accountant, or a doctor, as you’re in the military already.  Jenny did what you wanted, and now you want Daryl to study something he doesn’t like, or get into the military, like you.  Why do you have to be so unfair?”

Duncan Lima stood to his full height and Jasmine followed suit, facing her formidable father.  She curled her fingers into fists determined not to back down.

“That military career you’re looking down on gave you kids the life you now live,” Duncan said, his eyes narrowed.  “It paid for your university, Jenny’s and now it will pay for Daryl.  Why don’t I have the right to suggest what I think will work for Daryl’s life?  You’ve always been too stubborn for your own good.  I couldn’t do anything about you, but Daryl—”

“What?” Jasmine cut in.  “He’s the one to continue the bloodline?  Your precious heir?”

Duncan growled, taking a step toward her, the coffee table the only thing keeping her from his wrath.

Wanja stood then, placing her hand on Duncan’s rigid arm.

“You test a man’s patience,” Duncan said after a minute.  “I’m your father.  I don’t deserve to hear you talk to me like that, Jasmine.”

“Daddy,” Jasmine said, gentling her tone.  “I respect you very much.  You’re set in your ways, and we all try to get through your stubborn ideas, but important things like this…”

Jasmine broke off and shook her head.

“This is Daryl’s life we’re talking about here.  He is really smart, better than—”

Jasmine bit her lip stopping herself from saying Danny’s name.  Her dad did not like Danny.  She met her mother’s gaze for a moment, then continued.

“I don’t understand half the things Danny talks about when he gets into it.  He’s always wanted to do engineering.  Why would you stop him?  Why take that dream away from him?”

“Because we have to think of life and if he can maintain a life with his dreams,” Duncan replied.  “Dreams won’t provide you with a good life.  They won’t plan your life, get you married and have you living comfortably.  You need a steady job for that, a guaranteed job.”

Jasmine nodded.

“I guess that was meant for me,” Jasmine said, with a little scoff.  “Administration work in a warehouse is not your ideal job.  It might not be something to brag about to your friends of course, but it maintains the life I want.”

“A life without direction,” Duncan spat out.  “Who knows what you’re doing anymore?  Or where you’ll end up?  Is that ideal for you?  Where did we go wrong with you?”

Jasmine stepped back at that jab and picked up her purse.

“I’m not here to talk about me,” Jasmine said, biting her lip hard to keep from crying.

“Daryl is my son,” Duncan said, turning to sit on the couch.  He picked up the paper, his expression dismissive.  “I know what’s best for him and his future.  Don’t interfere, Jasmine.”

“You know what, you’re right,” Jasmine agreed.  “Daryl is your son, but he is also his own person.  Think about that too.  Don’t let him live a life he hates.”

Jasmine met her mother’s gaze for a moment, then turned and left the house.  She got in her car and drove out of the compound in a hurry.  She had to pull over a few miles after when the road became a blur.  Changing gears to park, she leaned back and allowed the tears to flow free.

Her worth as a daughter to her father…she couldn’t define it.  He never looked at her with pride for having refused to do as he wanted.  She had refused a career he thought would be perfect for her.  The life he had planned out down to the year she should get married.  His ideal son in-law was in the military or a doctor of some sort.

Well, joke on him because she was definitely not going to be giving that to him.

Jasmine punched the steering wheel, letting out a hard sob.  She’d built her life by herself, she held down a good job, she was taking the world each day with courage.

Would her father never see that?

Jasmine hugged the steering wheel and cried hard.  A few minutes into it, she gasped in the middle of her tears when her door opened.  The doors must have unlocked when she parked the car.  She stared at the figure standing over her.

“Who is it?” Danny demanded.  “Tell me where they are and I’ll get them.”

“Danny,” Jasmine sobbed out, covering her face with her hands.  “What are you doing here?”

It didn’t do for him to see her this way.

“Jazz.” Danny crouched down beside her and stared at the mess she was.  “Jasmine.”

Reaching in, he pulled her into his arms and held on as she cried harder than she had in a while.

***

←Previous Track

So, this story is coming to an end, can’t wait to write post the last 2 tracks.  Thank you for loving this story of mine.

Life on the Fast Track – 21

Chapter 21 – This is what the future looks like

Jasmine wanted to fight Danny.  She wanted to stay angry at Danny.  Angry at him for making her live through a sleepless night worrying the worst had happened.  Yet, seeing his face, his eyes filled with sincere worry, all she could think was, ‘thank goodness he wasn’t hurt.

Jasmine shifted her gaze to the silly apron he still wore.  It was pink, with frills on the side.  She liked sticking her hands in the pockets while she cooked.  Now, she would always remember how funny it looked on Danny.

“Are you going to say anything?” Danny asked, not moving away.

“I lived through a nightmare last night,” Jasmine said, still staring at the apron.  “Every time I close my eyes, all I see is you spinning out and you not making it.  I needed you to stay with me, Danny.  I needed to make sure you were fine, but you pushed me to Jimmy and drove off.”

“I needed to do that,” Danny insisted.  “It was the only way to catch that bastard.  Which we did, and the trouble is gone now.  I finished it.”

Jasmine shook her head.

“So, now what?  Should I be happy you almost got yourself hurt?  Oh, thank God he caught the culprit. What if something happened during the process?  I can’t live like that.  Don’t make me lose you.  I don’t want to—”

Danny pulled her into a tight hug.

kay-653602-unsplash
Two peas in a pod

 

“I’m not reckless.  I was safe, and as long as you were with Jimmy, I knew you were safe too.”

“You’re missing the point.”

“Don’t ask me to stop racing.”

Jasmine closed her eyes pressing her forehead into his shoulder.

“I’m not asking you to stop.  I’m asking you to think about the fact that you and I, we—

“We what?” Danny asked when she stopped.

Jasmine bit her lip, then let out a soft sigh.

“We’re like two peas in a pod, Danny.  Can you think about my heart too?  I don’t want to see you hurting.  I don’t want you to catch trouble.  I—I wouldn’t survive it if something happened to you.  So, promise me you’ll be extra careful.”

Danny tightened his arms around her, kneeling on the floor as he pulled her even closer.

“I promise, Jasmine.  Your heart is the most important thing to me.  You have to know that by now.”

Jasmine smiled, thinking she must have saved a village in the distant past.  Danny seemed to be hers when she had thought he would never be.  She wrapped her arms around him, as the fear that had bothered her all night dissipated.  It always did, when he felt so alive in her arms.  She hoped it would always be so.

They stayed holding each other until the door opened to admit Wanja.  Danny took his time letting go, even with Jasmine pushing him off her gaze on her mother.

“I figured I would have to come in here,” Wanja said, her chuckle startling Jasmine.  “Jazz, food is ready.  Come on.”

Wanja left them and Jasmine sat staring at the open door in surprise.  She had expected yells, and a few curses at Danny.  Danny took her right hand and pulled her up.  She followed him out of her bedroom to the little dining room off the kitchen.

Lunch was eaten in a cloud of excitement.  Jasmine listened as her brother and sister asked Danny too many questions.  He answered each one with patience, and interest.  He engaged her mother with stories of his childhood, his father’s restaurant, Terry’s business, his garage.  In a sense, it was the perfect family lunch.

Her strange apprehension about her mother disproving of Danny died away with each minute, each laugh, each giggle, and she wondered why she had worried so much.

Jasmine took her glass of orange juice from the table, sipping juice, her gaze resting on Daryl.  She thought about Daryl and their father.  The man who saw fault when his kids refused to follow the line and wondered how she was ever going to introduce Danny to him.  She frowned.

More importantly, what were they going to do about Daryl?

“Jazz?”

Jenny touched her left shoulder and she looked up to find everyone staring at her.

“Danny wants to take us to visit his garage,” Daryl said, his excitement tangible.  “Do you mind if we go?”

Jasmine looked at Danny and smiled when he winked at her.

“You can go,” she said, smiling at her brother.  “Don’t cause trouble though.”

Danny chuckled as both Daryl and Jenny got up heading outside to his car.

“I should help clean up,” Danny said, waving at the messy table.

“Don’t worry about it.” Jasmine pushed her chair back and stood.  “You helped cook.  I’ll clean up.”

Jasmine took plates to the kitchen, and wasn’t surprised when Danny followed her.

“I’ll see you later?” Danny asked, stealing a quick kiss, making sure Wanja didn’t see him.

“Yeah, sure.  I’ll be home.”

Jasmine swatted his hand away when he pinched her waist.  She watched him hurry back to the dining table.

“Mamma Jazz, I’ll bring Daryl and Jenny home.  Thank you so much for lunch.”

“It was nice to meet you, Danny,” Wanja said.  “I hope this is not the last time we’ll see each other.”

“Definitely not,” Danny said, moving to hug her.  “I’ll come visit you with Jasmine next time.”

Wanja chuckled and Jasmine came back to the table to see Wanja watch Danny leave.

“He’s bold, that one.”  Wanja noted when Danny was gone.  “So, you two are serious?”

Jasmine wiped the table mats, arranging them neatly.

“Do you approve?”

“He’s a good man.  I know his father, and Terry is like your sister.  She slept over our house so much, she’s like a daughter to me.”

Wanja patted the empty seat next to her.

“Jazz, sit.”

Jasmine placed the cloth she held on the table and moved to sit next to her mother.

Wanja took her hand, and rubbed her fingers gently.

“I’m no expert on love.” Wanja gave her a rueful smile.  “So, I won’t tell you Danny is right, or he is wrong for you.  All I can say is make the right choice for you. Your heart knows what it wants.  That’s what matters most in this very long life.”

“Mum.”

Wanja brought her hand up to stroke Jasmine’s right cheek.

“You were always the strongest of my kids.  I don’t think you get it from me, Jazz.  I think you get it from your father.”

“He won’t approve of Danny.”

Jasmine shook her head, sure she was right.

“He is set in his ways,” Wanja said with a sigh.  “But you prove him wrong on a constant basis.  So, he’ll accept Danny, in time.”

Jasmine squeezed her mother’s hand and stood up.

“Speaking of which, before he approves or disproves of my boyfriend, why don’t we talk about Daryl.”

“Jazz.”

“Military?  Mum, seriously?  Daryl doesn’t want that.” Jasmine shook her head.  “You’ve always known he loves engineering.  Why won’t you fight for him?”

“It’s not that easy.”

Jasmine picked up the mats she had arranged.

“Fine, I’ll help you make it easy.  Daddy is home, right?  Let’s go see him.”

“Jazz—

“We have to try, Mum.  Otherwise, Daryl won’t forgive us when he ends up marching for the country.  And I’m not saying there is anything wrong with joining the military.  I just think a guy should do what he wants.  If Daryl wants to work in engineering, he should.  Who knows what he’ll end up building?”

Wanja wiped a hand down her face, and shook her head.

“You’re probably the only person who can stand up to Daddy with that statement.”

Jasmine grinned and hurried into the kitchen to dump the mats in their drawer.

“Then let’s do it today.  I’ll go get my sweater.  We should go before Danny finishes with Jenny and Daryl.  I don’t want them anywhere near the explosion when it happens.”

***

Thank you for reading…to be continued ^_^

←Previous Track

Life on the Fast Track – 20

I Accept you…and all your flaws, but we must understand each other

Jasmine drove up to her house, slowing down when she saw Danny’s car parked next to her mother’s jeep.  She had known he would come.  She had not anticipated that he would find her mother.  She sighed and parked behind his car.

Getting her shopping from the backseat, she hurried to the front door, a little panicked.  Her mother was an interrogator.  She could make the worst criminal squirm under her gaze.  Jasmine was sure she had learned it from being a military wife.  Their dad was no walk in the park.

Danny was in double trouble today.

Unlocking the door, Jasmine walked into her house and stopped when the scent of cooking hit her fast.  Her family was in the kitchen, she stopped at the kitchen entrance to stare at the scene.  Danny wore an apron, and was hard at work chopping carrots into thin strips.  He was an expert at it too.

“Jazz, I thought the supermarket swallowed you up.  I hope you bought nyanya?” Wanja said, looking at her from her position at the kitchen counter. (Tomatoes)

Jasmine lifted up the bag with vegetables, placing it on the counter.  Jenny took the rest from her, and they got to work putting them away.

“Too many people in the kitchen,” Wanja said, when Jenny bumped into her.  “If you’re my kid, get out of here, go entertain yourself.”

Jenny and Daryl hurried out.  Jasmine hesitated, her gaze on Danny.  He sent a smile her way and continued chopping, whistling a happy tune.

Wanja placed gentle hands on her shoulders and led her out of the kitchen.

In the living room, her brother sprawled on the couch and turned on television.  He tuned to Netflix and got comfortable.  Jasmine mentally thanked her landlord for hooking her up with cheap Wi-Fi from Jamii.

Jenny grabbed Jasmine’s hand and led her to her bedroom, closing the door.

“Talk,” Jenny said, perching on her bed, folding her legs under her in anticipation.

Before Jasmine could start, Jenny broke into a tirade.

“You and Danny…when did you get together?  Why didn’t you tell me?  You have been holding out on me.  How is that fair when I’m your sister?  Terry knows, doesn’t she?  You treat her more like a sister, than you do me.  That is so not fair.  Gosh, he’s so hot.  Why is he so hot?”

“Are you done?” Jasmine asked, sitting on the bed beside Jenny.

She let out a sigh, unable to stop thinking about last night.  The sight of Danny’s car spinning out of a high speed race ran in a loop in her head.  Round and round, when she closed her eyes to sleep, all she saw was him spinning out, and not making it.

“Jazz?” Jenny squeezed her right hand, pulling her away from her thoughts.

Jasmine met Jenny’s gaze and smiled.

“You’re my favorite little sister.  I didn’t tell you because we haven’t seen each other.  Plus, I wasn’t sure about him.”

“And now you’re sure?”

Jasmine sighed.

“We have a few things to work out, but yes.”

“Oh yes!” Jenny jumped off the bed and stood watching her.  “This is so awesome.  Danny is those guys you wanna brag about.  Can I call him when I need a ride?  Coz, you know that happens sometimes.”

“Jenny.”

“Come on, Jazz, please.”

“I’ll run it by him first,” Jasmine said, shaking her head.

“It’s so cool to have an older brother now,” Jenny clapped.  “You have done well, sister.  The elders will be happy.”

“What are you the village seer?” Jasmine laughed.  “Gosh, Dad will have a conniption when they meet.  He is so not open minded.”

Jenny seemed to deflate.

“I suppose I should celebrate after they meet.  Danny might want to run.”

“Way to support,” Jasmine scowled at her little sister.

“It’s the truth.”  Jenny sat on the bed.  “You know Dad talked to Daryl a few days ago, about the future.  Daryl was given three options: military, doctoring or business courses.”

Ngai,” Jasmine shook her head.  “He doesn’t change the choices.  You’re the only one who did the right thing and did accounting.  He knows Daryl loves mechanics, even engineering would make sense.  Military?”

“Daryl walked out.  He went to stay over at Aunt Monica’s,” Jenny said.  “He came home this morning.”

“And Mom?”

Jenny shrugged, smoothing her hand over the bed spread.

“Since you, she hasn’t tried to fight for the rest of us.”

“That’s not true,” Jazz said, shocked.  “Jenny, you said you wanted to do accounting.”

“It was the easiest choice that didn’t involve gory detail,” Jenny shrugged.  “You know Mimo, she’s a nurse.  She hates it, but it’s the only thing her parents wanted to pay for.  So—, at least I had two more choices.  I’m not sad about it, Jazz.”

“Gosh, Jenny.”

“Daryl will need your help,” Jenny said, meeting her gaze.  “You’re strong.  You can stand up to Daddy.  Help Daryl do what he wants.”

Jasmine took in a deep breath, and gave her sister a nod.  She pulled Jenny into a tight hug, and held her.

“You should have told me what you wanted,” Jasmine murmured into her sister’s hair.  “I would have fought for you.”

“I didn’t know what I wanted,” Jenny said into her shoulder.  “Not like Daryl does.”

Jasmine rubbed Jenny’s back and brushed her sister’s cheek when Jenny pulled back.

“I love you, kiddo,” Jasmine said, smoothing Jenny’s hair.  “Terry and I will induct you into the sister group on your next day off.  Come sleep over, sawa?” (okay)

Jenny giggled.

“Will Danny be there?”

“Sisters first, then we can have Danny take us out later,” Jasmine said, falling back on the bed.

Besides, she needed to work things out with Danny first.  They had a boat load of things to talk about.  One of them being, not racing off into danger when she begged him not to.

***

“What kind of work do you do?” Wanja asked.

Danny finished cutting carrots and put them in a bowl.  Taking a piece, he popped it into his mouth and faced Jasmine’s mother.

“I’m a mechanic,” Danny said.  “I work on cars, fixing them, restoring them, servicing.”

Wanja chuckled.  She lit the gas cooker and placed a frying pan on the fire, adding oil in one elegant move.

“You’re trying to shock me.”  Wanja flashed a smile at him.  “It won’t work, Danny boy.”

Danny grinned and leaned on the counter watching Wanja stir-fry the vegetables they cut up.

“Mum, I love Jasmine.” Danny stated.  “She means the world to me.”

Wanja chuckled and adjusted the fire on the stove.  She opened the cupboard above the gas cooker to get spices.  Danny watched her put black pepper, ginger and a mix of spices Danny couldn’t name.  The extent of his cooking skills included chopping, peeling, and grinding.  Came from working at his father’s restaurant when the place was short staffed.

Wanja mixed the vegetables, covering them with a lid to simmer.  She wiped her hands on a clean cloth and turned to face him.

“You’re Teresa’s big brother,” Wanja said, leaning on the counter across him.  “I know your father.  My husband and I love his restaurant.  We go there for celebrations.  It’s a great place.”

Danny held Wanja’s gaze.

“You have some steel in you, meeting me in my daughter’s house.”  Wanja narrowed her gaze.  “You’ve pissed her off.  I found her upset.  You want to fix it?”

Danny nodded.

“What did you do?”

“Disappointed her,” Danny said.

“Yes, men disappoint women,” Wanja said, pushing off the counter to check the vegetables she was cooking.  She took a spoon from a plate next to Danny and scooped some soup to taste.  Shaking her head, she added salt and winked at him.

“Women disappoint men too,” she said.

Danny smiled.

“Mama Jazz, are you going to say no to me dating your daughter?”

Wanja covered the food and lowered the heat.

“Jasmine is the most head strong woman I’ve ever met,” Wanja said.  “When she wanted to move out of the house, she simply packed her stuff, found this house and moved.  She is her father’s daughter.  I can’t stop her from doing anything.  However, the kitchen knife you used to chop vegetables is also a weapon, Danny boy.  You hurt her and I’ll show you how that works.”

Danny shifted, straightening up.  Wanja’s gaze scared him more than Anderson ever could.  He could not look away.  For a full minute, they stood staring at each other, until he folded and lowered his gaze.

Wanja laughed and stepped up to pat his shoulder.

“We have time, Danny, to get to know each other.  Meanwhile, Jazz is hiding in her room, avoiding you.  We came to visit her.  She won’t come out as long as you stay.  If you can talk to her, and get her out here, I’ll be happy.”

“Really?”

“I’ll give you ten minutes to solve it,” Wanja said, glancing at her watch.  “Fix it as fast as you can.”

Danny grinned, and left the kitchen quickly.  He hurried to Jasmine’s room.

***

Jasmine sat up when a soft knock came on the door.  Jenny opened it, and smiled wide when she saw Danny.

Sasa,” Jenny grinned.  “Mathe amekupatia time?” (Hi, Mum gave you time?)

Danny nodded and lifted his hands indicating ten minutes.

“Don’t go over,” Jenny advised, stepping past Danny into the hallway.  “She’ll come get you and it won’t be pretty.”

Danny shuddered and entered the bedroom, watching Jenny close the door.

Jasmine remained sitting at the foot of the bed.  Refusing to move, even when Danny came to stand in front of her.

“You won’t look at me?”

“You should have gone home to sleep,” Jasmine said.  “I imagine almost crashing and dying would exhaust a man.  You don’t look like you’ve slept.  Go home, Danny.”

Danny crouched before her, so that she had no choice but to meet his dark gaze.

“There you are,” Danny said, holding her gaze, placing his hands on the bed on each side of her.  “I’m sorry, Jasmine.”

“Danny.”

“I’m sorry I left you alone last night.”

***

 Thank you for reading…To be Continued ^_^!

←Previous Track

 

Life on the Fast Track – 19

Track 19 : No matter how crazy I get, I’ll come home to you

Danny and Nic drove Tyler to Danny’s garage, where they cleaned the cut on his forehead.  Once they drilled the truth out of him, Nic decided to call a criminal investigator who worked with his father.  Jimmy caught up with them as they waited for the investigator to show up.

Danny sat with Tyler, unable to understand why such a young man would want to get into so much trouble.  Adrian ordered Tyler to cause trouble at the racecourse, hoping an accident would occur that would bring in a police investigation.  Apparently, Adrian wanted to buy the racing grounds from Danny and Jimmy.  He figured if enough troubles arose, and police got involved, Danny would cut his losses and put up the business for sale.  As if, Danny scoffed.  He had worked too hard to give up what he had now.

“You could walk away,” Danny pointed out to Tyler.Danny

“Have you met Adrian?” Tyler scoffed.  “He controls my life, Danny.  It’s not like I can say no.”

Hiyo ni ufala,” Danny said, staring at him.  “You’re weak, that’s why you can’t say no.  He is not forcing you; you’re allowing him to control you.  What do you lose if you walk away?” (That’s stupidity)

“I heard you’re finally dating Jasmine,” Tyler said, meeting his gaze.

Danny was surprised to read jealousy in Tyler’s eyes.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Adrian threatened to hurt her when we were together.  I’d found the strength to walk away from him then, I really thought I could make it work with her.  Then Adrian showed up, and I had no choice but to walk away.  To protect her,” Tyler said.  “I broke her heart.”

Danny sighed, not sure what to say.

“You should thank me,” Tyler said, with a small smile.  “She always did like you, never had the courage to tell you though.  Guess she got it somehow.”

Danny thought about Jasmine’s pleading gaze when he refused to listen to her.  She was going to be so angry with him.

“Now what?” Tyler asked, looking around Danny’s garage office.  “Nice place.”

“Now you get out of town,” Nic said, coming into the office with his CID friend.  “You’re going to help this man bring your brother in to the police.  I hate thieves, and bastards who think they’re entitled to anything they want.  If I was a more cruel man, you wouldn’t have lived tonight.”

Tyler sighed, and turned to Danny.

“I suppose this is what I deserve for what I did earlier. I wish you were handling this instead of him. Nic frightens me, more than you do,” Tyler said.  “Can you tell Jasmine something for me?”

Danny frowned.  “Why would I do that?”

“Because.”  Tyler shrugged.  “My head hurts, and she was the last person who cared about me.  Tell her I was wrong.  She was worth fighting for.”

“Okay, Casanova,” Nic said, coming to grip Tyler’s left arm and pulling him up to his feet.  “Let’s go.  Danny, the Andersons will be history in a few.  I’ve cleaned up the races this time.  That means you now owe me a favor.”

“Noted.”

“Good.  I love your car.  Got you around really fast,” Nic said, with a grin as he left the office.  “Care to race for logs?”

“I’ll consider it,” Danny said, glad when Nic disappeared with Tyler and the detective with no further comments.

Danny stared at the keys he still held, the skyline was full of luck.

He sat back in his seat and looked at Jimmy who was leaning on the doorjamb.

“Jazz?”

“She’s with Terry, at your house.  She was not happy,” Jimmy said.  “She looked pissed off with you, you have your work cut out for you.”

Danny stood, and stretched his arms above his head.

“We’ll get through this,” Danny decided.

Jimmy grinned.  “All I can say is good luck.”

Danny drove home at six in the morning.  He parked his car and hurried into the house, anticipation coursing through him.  This was the first time Jasmine would be staying over his house, as his girlfriend.  She had stayed over before, but with Terry.  Now, it was for him, he smiled as he closed the front door.

He was surprised to see Terry relaxing on the couch, watching a home-makeover show.  She hugged her pillow, and was still in pajamas.  This soft, disarrayed side of Terry was rare.  He only saw it when she was worried.  Danny walked over to her and touched the headscarf covering her hair.  She looked at him with bleary eyes.  Clearly, she had not slept.

“Hey.”

“Jasmine went home.”  Terry stated.  “She couldn’t stay here, kept freaking out that you might kill yourself racing the streets of Nairobi after a psycho who tried to kill you.”

“Why didn’t you talk her into staying?”

“Because, I’m sure if I tried, she’d talk herself into the reasons why she can’t be with you,” Terry snapped.

“Tereza.”

“I love her,” Terry said.  “She’s like a sister to me, Danny.  I love you too.  You’re my brother.  So fix it so I don’t have to choose which one of you I have to give up.  I stayed up to tell you that, now I’m going to bed.”

***

Two hours later, showered and changed, Danny walked up to Jasmine’s front door.  He contemplated unlocking her door with the spare key she gave him, but then he thought it was better to knock, and ended up pressing the doorbell.

The door opened, and Danny stared at a younger version of Jasmine.

“Wow, you are Jazz’s secret, aren’t you?” She grinned and leaned on the doorjamb.  “Oh Jasmine, kuna stori ha uja twambia.  Guys, come out here.”

Footsteps, and in seconds, Danny stared at a younger boy who also looked like Jasmine.  Her brother and sister, he assumed.  The older woman behind them all studied him with a suspicious gaze.

Jasmine’s mother, Danny thought, when she narrowed her gaze at him.

“Morning,” Wanja said, pushing her son and daughter aside.  “Call me Mama Jazz.  What’s your name?”

“Danny.”

“Danny, why don’t you come inside,” Wanja said, her smile a tad too inviting.

Danny wondered where Jasmine was, but decided to take the plunge and give Jasmine a reason to forgive him.  Taking Wanja’s hand, he allowed her to lead him into the house.

***

To be continued…Thanks for reading ^_^

←Previous Track