The Girl with the Golden Smile – 4

Prompt:

quote

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 4

“You haven’t told me your name,” Nalia said.

She trailed behind Nicholas, watching him survey the house. She supposed he was assessing his purchase. She tugged peeling paint from the wall in the corridor, and winced when white dust fell on the floor.

“Nicholas.” He flashed a grin at her. “Nicholas Muchemi.”

She nodded.

“Nice to meet you,” she said.

“So, Nalia,” Nicholas said walking down to the next room on the second floor. “What were you running from last night?”

“Do you have to know?”

“You said I was your lifesaver.  Of course I have to know.”

Nicholas leaned on the doorjamb to what appeared to be a library. There were old books left on the shelf. Nalia entered the room, the books calling to her.

“Lifesaver or not, I don’t know you well enough to tell you,” Nalia said, stopping by the bookshelves. She read the titles on the shelves with interest.

“Do you like books?” Nicholas asked.

“Some,” Nalia said touching the old spines. “The owner of these ones didn’t take care of them. Are you going to sellOld-Books them?”

“Maybe,” Nicholas said coming to stand beside her. “I might have them restored and keep them as part of the house.”

“How often do you do this sort of thing?” she asked, pulling out a geography encyclopedia from the shelf.

“This is my third house.”

Pride colored Nicholas’s words. Of course he would take pride in his achievement. She couldn’t imagine how much money it took to restore a house like this. She’d probably never see that kind of cash in her life. Returning the encyclopedia, she sighed and walked to the windows.

“It must be nice,” she said, staring out at the overgrown flower gardens behind the house.

“It’s a challenge. I like challenges,” Nicholas answered behind her. “You’re changing the subject, Nalia.”

“I don’t want to talk about last night. Why are you making me wait for your friend?”

“He’s a doctor.”

Nalia turned to look at Nicholas. He walked along the bookshelf, reading the book titles like a connoisseur. He was tall, taller than Malik. Nicholas was lean where Malik was bulky. Nicholas moved with grace, a warm refined air clung to him. Nalia imagined it came from years of living in a world he’d mastered.

She couldn’t imagine Malik browsing a bookshelf. Her husband preferred watching the news, and reading newspapers as though they held the secrets of the world. He thought novels were a waste of time, and he only wrote when he absolutely had to.

“Nalia,” Nicholas broke into her thoughts.

She blinked and stared at him.

“What are you thinking about? You looked so far away. My friend just text me, he’s two minutes away. We should head downstairs.”

Nalia frowned. “You said he was a doctor?”

Nicholas chuckled.

“Don’t worry, Eli is a real doctor. I saw him graduate and get his certification.”

Nalia stared at him and then she laughed.

The saga of a quack doctor had taken over the local news. A man who’d pretended to be a doctor and used his position to abuse women instead. She imagined doctors were having a hard time lately, having to prove they were real doctors.

Nicholas had a sense of humor.

She liked that.

“I like your laugh,” Nicholas said studying her.

His compliment shouldn’t have excited her, but it did. Warmth burst inside her, so vibrant, she forgot all the reasons why liking him was wrong. Heat suffused her cheeks and she dropped her gaze to the floor.

“We should go,” he said then.

She nodded and followed him out of the library.

She imagined the folks living here before must have been grand to have a whole room designated as a library. All her books were stacked on a carton in her closet. She often had to fight with her clothes to get those books to sit well.

Downstairs, anxiety hit when she heard the sound of another car. She slowed down, while Nicholas seemed to increase his footsteps, hurrying to the front door. She watched him open the door with a flourish.

She stopped in the middle of the living room. Fear returned, and she realized how free she’d felt before, when it had just been her and Nicholas. This house had somehow given her solace from her life in the last twelve hours. Sitting at the kitchen table with Nicholas, prowling the house with him, laughing…she couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt so carefree.

The sound of excited male voices outside reached her and she closed her eyes. She was scared again.  Nicholas returned followed by a short light-skinned man who carried a medical bag.

“Eli, this is Nalia,” Nicholas said, leaving the front door open. “Nalia, this is my best friend, Eli. He’s a private doctor.”

Nalia could only nod, her voice lost. She tried for a smile, but even that seemed stuck.

“Nalia,” Eli said with a warm smile. “I hope Nicholas has been good to you?”

She glanced at Nicholas and her traitorous heart skipped a beat.  Guilt set in. She was married. Yet here she was…tempted.

Alas, it was true; there is no one in the world that lived without sin, was she to count her sins in the last day, she was sure to burn.

Malik would be the one to burn her, she thought with a shiver.

“Shall we find a private room?” Eli broke into her thoughts. “I’ll take a look at that bruise on your cheek, put ointment on it.”

Nicholas pointed to a door to their right. She gave him a nervous smile and led the way to the door. It opened into a study. There was an old desk and a pair of chairs before it. She chose one and let out a shaky breath when Eli produced a stethoscope.

She closed her eyes when he leaned down to study the bruise on her cheek.

“Can I ask how you got this?” Eli asked.

She’d heard the question asked many times before. Concerned friends, her mother, her neighbors…she always lied. She told them stories of falling, bumping into doors, cupboards, absurd lies…never the truth. Opening her eyes, she met a kind gaze, and suddenly she just couldn’t lie anymore. Tears filled her eyes and she found she couldn’t form the words, though she wanted to say them.

“Did someone hit you?” Eli asked then, taking a seat.

She nodded, making the tears slide down her cheeks.

“Was it your husband?” Eli asked his gaze on her left hand.

Nalia fought back the shame that welled inside her and took in a deep breath.

“Yes,” she said, feeling as though she was jumping over a huddle. “My husband hit me.”

****

Previous Chapters

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 3

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 2

The Girl with the Golden Smile -1

Read More EA Friday Feature Entries

What If – by Annemarie Musawale

A Mother’s Love – Maureen Wakarindi

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The Girl with the Golden Smile – 2

Prompt: mail.google.com2

Use “Chocolate Cupcakes” in your 1,000 word story this time.

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 2

Wewe,” Nicholas said when he got out of his car. “Do you have a death wish?”

The woman in the rain didn’t speak. Her face was bruised, and there was blood on her pink blouse. Nicholas frowned, peering into the dark trees on each side of the road.

Had she been mugged?

Lord, was she a decoy?

He’d heard stories of hijackers making a plot to deceive unsuspecting drivers.

“Help me,” she said, before his paranoia could take root.

Nicholas cursed when she started to fall and he reached out to catch her before she hit the muddy ground.

“What the hell are you doing?” Nicholas asked as he drove through the rain.

His clothes were soaked and muddy thanks to the passed out woman in the passenger seat. Instead of driving back to the main road, and a hospital, he was headed to the villa, against his better judgment.

Shaking his head, Nicholas decided it was the rain. The thunder, the mud, the fucking non-visibility…he’d never been happier to see the shadow of a house as he was when he saw looming dark gates ahead.

Nicholas stopped his car, running out in the rain to go open the gates. His loafers slid on the grass, he ran back to the car, double soaked. This night was turning into a shit fest.

Thirty minutes later, Nicholas sat on an old armchair, watching the strange woman he’d saved. He’d found an old faded red blanket in a closet, and covered her with it. She was beautiful, in a rustic sort of way. He was used to women who valued looks: high-end style, down to fake eyelashes. It was interesting to have saved a woman who looked like she didn’t know what lip gloss was. She shivered under the blanket, and gave a soft sigh.

The bruise on her left cheek shone in the light.

His phone buzzed, and he reached for it like it was a lifeline.

“What am I reading?” his best friend asked. “You have a woman in that old creaky house? How is that a bad thing?”

“She jumped out of nowhere, in the rain,” Nicholas said. “She looks beat up. She has a bruise on her cheek.”

“Why didn’t you drive to the hospital?” Eli asked.

“It’s raining.” Nicholas thought that excuse sounded hollow, but it was the truth. He didn’t want to drive in that mess outside. “You’re a doctor, advise me what to do.”

“Ah ha,” Eli said with a chuckle. “You’ve always been impulsive. This falls under shit Nick would do.”

“Stop making fun of me. What do I do now? It’s almost ten o’clock at night.”

Eli sighed on the other end. “I guess you keep her overnight. I’ll drive out there in the morning and check on her if you like.”

“Would you?” Nicholas asked. “You’re the best, Eli.”

“You’ll owe me.”

“Yeah, add it to my tab.” Nicholas sighed. “What do I need to do? She’s shivering.”

“Keep her dry and warm.” Eli laughed. “That shouldn’t be too hard.”

Nicholas ended the call and dropped his cell phone on the table. He hoped Eli was right about keeping the woman dry.

That was all he could do for her, he thought.

Getting up, Nicholas stretched his arms above his head, the muscles on his shoulders protesting. He was tired. The day was too long already. He dropped his hands and looked around the old house. The electricity was on, thank goodness for that. Despite the complication on the couch, he’d managed to purchase a damn good looking house.
Nicholas decided everything would be fine after a shower and a good night’s sleep.

****

Nalia woke with a start. It was the chirping birds. The last time she’d heard chirping birds, she’d been in her mother’s house in the country. Nostalgia filled her, and she lay still staring at the unfamiliar ceiling.

Clutching the thin blanket over her, Nalia winced at the familiar sting on her left cheek. Malik’s gift last night when she’d tried to explain why there was no meat in his plate. The bastard was obsessed with meat. He didn’t taste anything else, but meat. Nalia sat up to escape her anger.

She’d lost her mind last night.

Crazy, she thought.

She’d taken the stew she’d been cooking and flung it at Malik in anger. When he’d screamed in shock, she’d run outside in Art 5the pouring rain and started running.
Right into the angry man with the black pickup truck, Nalia remembered, swinging her feet to the ground.

Nalia shook her head, and rubbed her eyes. She sighed and got up, looking around the elegant living room. It looked straight out of the movies, nice neat chairs, wide windows, everything seemed so…expensive.

Straight out of her dreams, Nalia sighed.

Her gaze dropped to her stained shirt, and her muddy jeans and bare feet. She was seriously out of place. Her insanity had taken her down a rabbit hole she didn’t quite understand.

Smelling her shirt, she decided to wander, and find out if the elegant house had a place to clean up before she met her rescuer.

****

The sweet scent of baking cake woke Nicholas. His stomach rumbled; reminding him he’d skipped dinner in lieu of travel. He’d eaten one sandwich before he’d gotten on the road. He threw off the sweater he’d used as a blanket and got out of bed.

His clothes were dry and wrinkled. He needed to get his suitcase from the car.
Remembering the woman he’d rescued in the pouring rain, Nicholas left the bedroom and followed the scent of baking. His stomach felt empty, it was humbling, the need to run into the kitchen and get a bite of whatever smelled that good.

He paused in the entrance to the kitchen at the sight that greeted him. Chocolate cupcakes on the counter, the source of the scent, they looked welcoming. Nicholas grinned and walked to the counter, reaching for a cupcake. He stopped when the woman he’d saved last night straightened, closing the electric oven, she was holding a fresh batch of chocolate cupcakes.

She held back a gasp, and he stared at her clean, freshly scrubbed face. A slow smile tugged her lips and she held out the cupcakes she held.

“Morning,” she said. “I’m Nalia. I hope you like chocolate.”

***

The Girl with the Golden Smile 1

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