Fiction Snippets – Zev’s Afrotheria Part 6

In a blink, Zev joined the most powerful army in the Afrotheria Empire at the age of seventeen. He had chosen to become one of those most feared and revered gangs of the land: The Theria Guild Guardians.

In his heart, he knew his choice had to do with the need to expend the rage that now ruled his life at the memory of watching a pack of ghost wraiths attacking his brothers and Gen.

If it weren’t for those ghost wraiths, he would have been there for Amare. He would have been able to keep her safe. A dark cloud of grief threatened to take him over.

Zev shook his head, pushing the constant grief aside.

His lungs burned for air, and sharp pain on his right side made it harder to run. Zev ignored the pain and powered through, his gaze on the red line drawn across the track ahead. He pushed his body harder and managed to run across the red line just as his body felt like it might collapse. He fell to his knees on the track and sucked in harsh breaths, hoping to relieve the pain. His t-shirt was soaked with sweat.

“Again, Mablevi! You’re too slow,” the instructor shouted, blowing his whistle. “One delayed second and you’re ghost wraith meat. Push harder. Get up and do it again!”

Zev glanced at his training officer standing on the sidelines caught between hate and worship.

Zev was in a class of fifteen cadets. Their instructor was a no-nonsense slave driver. The instructor subjected them to relentless running drills to improve their speed. Every part of Zev’s body felt sore, and his muscles burned. He took in air, his lungs desperate for it.

 Zev worried he would never get up to run again.

A strong hand gripped Zev’s left arm, pulling him up before he decided to lay down on the tarmac and give up. On his feet, Zev tugged down his sleeveless gray t-shirt and turned to his left to find an older boy grinning at him.

“He keeps yelling until you stop collapsing at the finish line. Hi, I’m Saul. I joined a month ago The trick is to remain standing at the finish line.”

Zev nodded.

A second boy around his age came up on Zev’s right and gave him a nod in greeting.

“I’m Noah. I will pace you so that you cut your time,” Noah said.

They headed back to the starting line, and Zev was oddly glad that he was not doing this alone. Noah and Saul each took a spot on each side of him. The instructor blew his whistle and they took off, Noah and Saul running next to him in camaraderie. It suddenly felt like training might turn manageable.

Three days later, Zev decided he was in over his head.

Zev stood in a Santi Corp Simulation Training Room. He was dressed in his white cadet armor, smart VR glasses clipped on the bridge of his nose. He held a Santi Sword, the blade designed to work in the simulation world.

“Mablevi, you’re seventeen, and you’ve never been in a simulation room. That means you’re late to the party. You have to work harder to catch up. We are starting you at the basic level,” the instructor’s voice rang through the large dome-like room. “This is your first test. Scenario: A forested village in the hills of Teru is facing a ghost wraith reap. There is no way to know the size of the ghost wraith pack. You only know the pack is traveling fast heading to unprotected villages. Your goal is to take down any ghost wraiths coming your way. Mission Commence: Cadet Mablevi, Basic Simulation 001, Start.”

Zev had no time to think, as the room turned dark and vegetation filled his vision.

The call of birds filled his ears with the sun high up above him. Zev imagined if he closed his eyes, he might inhale the scent of fresh crisp air. He took one step forward, and a ghost wraith jumped out of nowhere. He had no chance. The ghost wraith crushed him and the simulation ended.

 “You are dead,” the instructor said. “You have failed an entire village, Cadet. Only one rule matters: Stay focused, Mablevi. This is not a game. There is no one coming to save you. You are doing the saving. Do it again. Mission Commence: Cadet Mablevi, Basic Simulation 002. Start.”

Zev died ten more times in the simulation managing only two steps.

At the fifteenth session, he managed five steps, hoping by the thirtieth session, he would be able to see the ghost wraith coming at him. The realization of how fast a ghost wraith moved had Zev wondering if he could make it as a guardian.

***

Find the rest of this chapter on Wattpad or here: Zev’s Afrotheria Chapter 6

A Snippet of Fiction – The Price of Amber

Happy May! I’m so excited to share snippets of the story Ram and Amber, which now has a tentative name ‘The Price of Amber’. Still not in love with the title, in any case, I’m excited to have a 10K word count on this project.  There is nothing like getting started and having something to work on, instead of only planning.  Here is a look at the first chapter.

Chapter One

Kata right, kuja, kuja, sawa. Hapo! Hapo!”

Ram Jelani hit the brakes, stopping the tipper truck.  He leaned out his window to see his friend and business partner talking to their client.

“Amos,” Ram called out.

Amos hurried to the back of the truck and spent a few minutes unlocking the tailgate.

Mwaga,” Amos called to him and hurried to the side, giving Ram a thumbs up.

Ram nodded and engaged the controls to lift the tipper’s dump body.  The dump body of the truck lifted on hydraulics, letting out thirty tones of sand brought from the river.  Ram waited until it was all poured before he drove the truck forward to allow any excesses to pour out.

Ram’s phone rang and answered it, hands-free. His attention stayed on Amos and the two young men working with them.

“Ram, it’s Mom,” Candace Jelani’s voice filled the cabin.  “Where are you?”

“At a construction site in Othaya delivering sand,” Ram said.  “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t always call you because something is wrong,” Candace said.

“I told you I would be far today.  You must have an issue to call me,” Ram said, giving Amos a thumbs up when Amos called out that they had emptied the truck.

Ram lowered the dump body, drove forward, and brought the tipper to a full stop.  He parked and removed his phone from the hands-free mode.  He took it from its holder and brought it to his ear.

“What’s wrong?” Ram asked.

“Naria needs you,” Candace said with a sigh.  “She is stranded in Nyeri Town.  Her friends left her alone to pay for the table.”

“Mpesa her,” Ram said, annoyed by his little sister’s consistent letdowns.

“She doesn’t have her phone,” Candace said.  “She says she lost it last night.”

Ram bit his bottom lip not wanting to curse for his mother to hear.

Sawa, I’ll deal with it,” Ram said.  “Where is she?”

“White Rhino,” Candace said.

“Her tastes are getting expensive, Mom.  One of these days, you’re going to need to use your mwiko on her.  Why is it I’m the only one who knows what that mwiko is used for?”

“Keep complaining and I’ll give it to you when you get Naria home,” Candace said.  “You might be taller than me, but I can still smack you with a mwiko, Ram.  He, who are you joking with?”

Ram chuckled.

“Relax, Mom.  I’ll make sure Naria gets home after lunch,” Ram said. “Let me call when I have news.”

“Thank you, Ram,” Candace said and ended the call.

Ram started the truck and drove it out of the tight path leading to the construction site.  He drove it out to the exit of the access road and parked on the side of the main road.  Taking the keys, he jumped out of the cabin and stretched his arms over his head.

Amos hurried to meet him.

“Have they paid?” Ram asked.

“Yes, thirty thousand,” Amos said, waving their business phone. “Thank you for maneuvering the tipper.  The driver would not have made it.”

“I have to head out,” Ram said.  “Let’s meet in Karatina this evening.”

“Where to?” Amos asked, reaching into his pocket for car keys.  He handed them to Ram in exchange for the truck keys.

“To rescue Naria,” Ram said.  “I don’t know what to do with her.  Her friends are not friends.  She won’t believe it.”

“What happened now?” Amos asked.

Ram scratched his chin and shook his head.

“The story she gave mom sounds incomplete,” Ram said.  “I’ll need to hear it from her to know the truth.”

We,” Amos sighed.  “I’ll do the next delivery and call you later. Let’s meet at the usual place.”

Ram thanked Amos and hurried to the black SUV parked on the side of the main road.  He jumped into the driver’s seat and drove off with a wave at Amos.  Ram thought about Naria and his mother on his drive to Nyeri Town.

Naria was his half-sister.  She was younger than he was by ten years.  His mother had gotten her with her boyfriend, Zion Kavinde.  His mother, Candace, was soft with Naria.  She spoiled Naria and gave her everything she could.  Candace said she did so because Naria was a child born into an unsteady home.

Ram scoffed at the description.

Unsteady was a mild way to describe their tumultuous home life.  Broken home was more accurate.  The truth was that Candace Jelani still loved her husband, and Ram’s father.  She refused to divorce him and the affair she had with Zion was an attempt to heal her heartbreak.  Naria was born into a messy situation and there was nothing to do but cope.

Ram parked his car at the White Rhino Hotel and went in. He found Naria sitting at a table for two on the terrace.  She smiled when she saw him.

“Ram to the rescue,” Naria said with a quick smile, though it did not reach her eyes.

Ram pulled out the chair opposite her and sat.  He placed his phone and car keys on the table.  Crossing his arms against his chest, he sat back.

“I’ll settle the bill in exchange for the truth.”

Naria started to talk but Ram shook his head.

“If you don’t give me the truth, I’ll walk away,” Ram said, not caring that his mother would find her cooking stick and hit him with it.  He could take a little pain.

“Ram,” Naria said, her voice shaky.

Her eyes filled with tears and in a different setting, he would fall for this, but not here.

Ram pushed his chair back and started to stand up.

“Wait!” Naria said, reaching for him in a panic.  “Just wait a sec. I’m just…”

“The truth, Naria.”

“Fine,” Naria said, sitting back.  “Relax, please don’t leave me here.  I don’t want to call Mom again.”

“If you tell me, I’ll even buy you lunch,” Ram said, glancing at his watch.  It was just past twelve o’clock and he was hungry.

Naria sighed.

Aki, Ram,” Naria shook her head.

“Why are you here?” Ram asked, looking around the high-end hotel with a frown.  “Your budget does not allow you to be here.”

“I came with friends,” Naria started, clasping her hands on the table.  Her nails were a brilliant shade of green.  She was in a short black dress, her leather jacket shiny and there was smudged eye shadow around her eyes.

Ram sat back and crossed his arms against his chest, waiting.

To Be Continued!

Look for it on Wattpad, or Here. Hope your Friday is full of great vibes!

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!