The Girl with the Golden Smile – 7

7 – Choices

Nalia clutched her handbag, as she waited outside the Kilimani courthouse. Her choices led her to this moment; still divorceEA 2 wasn’t an easy choice. She’d struggled with the decision. Her hand touched her jaw, and for the first time in years marveled at the lack of pain.
Men and women alike glanced her way, as they passed her. She was glad to find the overwhelming urge to keep her head down gone. Before, with Malik, she’d found it hard to look up, afraid people would guess how she’d gotten the bruises on her jaw. God, she’d hated that feeling. That helpless feeling that she couldn’t express without tears filling her eyes, and sliding down her cheeks.

Nalia let out a soft breath and glanced at the time on her phone.

Nicholas was late.

She frowned.

Nicholas.

He remained worlds away, even though they’d spent almost everyday together for the past two months. Nicholas had turned cold toward her after he found out she was married.

As if a switch had turned off inside him, Nalia’s frown deepened.

Perhaps he judged her choices harshly. She couldn’t tell. Nicholas helped her without complaint. He wasn’t her lawyer; he’d refused that job outright, and instead, had gotten a competent woman named Christine who worked with FIDA.

Christine was a godsend.  Christine had taken her through the divorce process without asking for money first. When Malik had shown up at the new one-room house Nalia was renting, Christine helped save her from a beating. Christine had used that incident to get the law on Nalia’s side. There was nothing to fight for in court. Nalia didn’t want anything Malik owned, or his money. She was afraid that money would haunt her. She thanked God everyday that they hadn’t gotten children. It made the divorce process easier.

Nalia sighed leaning on the wall.

“Are you happy?” Malik asked and she looked up in surprise to find him standing a few feet away from her.

“I asked, are you happy Nalia?” Malik asked when she didn’t answer him right away.

Malik looked tired, his suit hanging on his shoulders, his jaw unshaven. His eyes, however, still held the same anger toward her. He refused to forgive her for making the choice to leave their home.

“I’m happy,” she said now, her voice strong.

“You’ve made us into the talk of the town. Everyone knows we’re divorced. How are you going to keep working at the school? Surely parents will shun you for being a divorcee,” he sneered.

“If they don’t want me there, I can always get a transfer to another school,” Nalia said.

She had options. Christine taught her that. Refusing to leave a bad marriage was not one of those options. Christine taught her that choosing to live a free and happy life was the most important decision to make.

“You have everything figured out,” Malik said.

Far from it, Nalia thought. Holding Malik’s gaze, she straightened her shoulders.

“No, I don’t. All I know is that I don’t want you slapping me because you don’t get what you want.”

Malik scoffed and took a step closer.

Fear arced through her, irrational fear, because they were in public. There were people passing them and the sun was out. Malik wouldn’t dare hurt her here, but still the fear grew deep inside her and she had to clench her fists to keep from running.

“You’re weak,” Malik said in a hateful tone. “You’re no beauty, and you could never fit my standards. It’s good you’ve left. I’ll find a better wife now.”

Nalia bit her inner lip wishing she could ignore his words. She knew Malik wanted to hurt her, and she shouldn’t let his words matter, yet they did. They mattered because she’d loved him. Loved him enough to marry him, and try to build a life with him.

Tears stung the back of her eyes and he smirked.

“I hope you’ll be happy,” she said in a tight voice.

She locked her knees as he stared at her for a moment, before he turned away and went into the courthouse. She fell back on the wall with a sigh once he disappeared, and took in a deep breath.

Warm hands clutched her shoulders and she looked up into Nicholas’s kind eyes.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

The tears she’d held back fought their way out, her eyes filling; she blinked fast hoping to keep them at bay.

“You did well,” Nicholas said, squeezing her shoulders. “You did very well.”

She closed her eyes and the tears fell down her cheeks. Nicholas moved closer, handing her a handkerchief, he waited for her to wipe her eyes and compose herself.

“You’re late,” she said after a while, staring at his white handkerchief.

“I’m sorry.”

She met Nicholas’s gaze.  She wasn’t sure what he was sorry about, being late, or being cold toward her.

“Well, you’re here now,” she said with a small shrug. “Christine is getting paperwork done. She wanted to talk to you.”

“I know,” Nicholas said, his gaze still holding hers. “I’m—

She frowned when he broke off.

“What?” she asked.

“I thought distance was better,” Nicholas said abruptly. “I thought it would make this easier for you. Watching you stand up to him, I think I made a mistake. Nalia—

She dropped her gaze to his shirt collar. “I thought you didn’t want anything to do with me because of him and the divorce.”

“That’s not true,” Nicholas said touching her right shoulder.

Nalia met his gaze, a soft gasp escaped at the longing in his eyes.

“It’s time,” Christine interrupted coming up to them holding a pile of files. “We should go in.”

Nicholas nodded and squeezed Nalia’s right shoulder. Christine headed into the courthouse, but Nicholas stopped Nalia.

“It’s almost over,” he said.

Nalia smiled. “I feel like its just beginning.”

Nicholas took her right hand and squeezed gently.

“I’m right here,” he said. “Right here with you.”

It was hard to ignore the wave of happiness that swept through her.

****

Other Stories from the EA Friday Feature:

The Restaurant: You’re a Waiter

Some Kind of Love – 4

Unlucky 13

The Plot it Thickens

 

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 6

6 – Longing for Cupcakes

“Keep the library,” Nicholas said, surprising himself. Renovations at the Villa were underway.EA 2

“Nick, you wanted to divide the library and turn it into two bedrooms,” the contractor in charge argued,

“I’ve changed my mind,” Nicholas said sitting back in his office chair.

He couldn’t forget the sight of Nalia standing by the windows, sunlight dancing on her pretty face. She had looked like a goddess with a golden smile, designed to turn him into an idiot. Why couldn’t he stop thinking about her?

“Nick?” his contractor said, cutting through his thoughts. “What about the books? They’re not exactly the best—

“Box them,” Nicholas said. “I’ll collect them this weekend.”

He knew a man who could restore those books.

“Whatever you want,” his disgruntled contractor said. “You’re the boss.”

Nicholas sighed.

“Keep to the schedule, Tony. We’re not working on this house for six months.”

“I promised one month, Nick,” Tony said.

“Make sure you keep the promise,” Nick urged ending the call.

The trouble with renovation and construction, no matter how many deadlines the contractor had, they always went beyond those deadlines.

Nicholas stared at his phone, ignoring the pile of files on his desk. Legal papers to notarize, cases to work, requests from his bosses to fill, today, he’d be stuck in his office until midnight.  His finger slid over his phone’s screen and he tapped on a two-month-old message from Nalia.

She’d paid the five hundred shillings through Mpesa. Her accompanying message read, “Thank you, Lifesaver.”

Nicholas smiled. He should have cleared the message by now, instead…he stared at the little smiley face she’d included and wondered how she was doing.

Nicholas wanted to reply to the message, had even composed replies, close to a dozen, but he never sent any. Exiting his messages, he placed his cell phone on the desk and shook his head.

This was no time to daydream about a woman. Nicholas reached for the folder on top of his pile and got to work. He had no time, he decided, no time to worry about a woman he’d met in the dark.

****

Two days later, Nicholas stood in line at a bakery opposite City Hall buying chocolate cupcakes. The aroma was delicious, but not the same one he remembered. He dreamt about that sweet scent of chocolate cupcakes every night it seemed.

His phone buzzed and Nicholas smiled when he saw Eli’s face on the screen.

“Come to my office,” Eli said in greeting.

“That’s in Westlands, you mad man. Traffic is killing right now,” Nicholas protested.

“I have a present for you,” Eli said. “If you don’t want it, fine, I’ll just eat Nalia’s cupcakes alone.”

Nicholas gaped. “What?”

“Cupcakes, chocolate,” Eli said with a laugh. “We have them at my office—

“Whose cupcakes?” Nicholas asked.

“Oh,” Eli chuckled. “Nalia. Remember her? Two months ago—

“I’m on the way.”

Nicholas dashed out of the bakery forgetting the order he’d made. The drive to Eli’s practice took one hour and that’s with reckless driving and angry horns from innocent drivers and pedestrians.

Traffic at two o’clock was no joke.

Nicholas drove into the Medical Plaza on Waiyaki way and parked at the front parking. He dumped his sunglasses on the dashboard, and got out of the car, his gaze roaming the three-story building that housed Eli’s medical practice.
Seemed as if business was good, what with the packed parking lot, Nicholas thought as he locked his car.
Nick went into the building and hurried through the lobby to catch the elevator as the doors closed.

“Hold,” he called out and cursed when the doors closed anyway.

He sighed and started to press the button to call another one. The doors opened and he stared at the woman carrying a cake box in the elevator.

“Nalia,” he whispered.

An older woman pushed her way past him into the open elevator, and Nalia gave him a frown.

“Are you coming?” she asked, her expression blank.

Nothing there to indicate she knew him, or she’d even been thinking about him. He scowled and entered the elevator, turning to punch the number to Eli’s office. The number three was lit, already pressed. His scowl deepened and he leaned on the wall, his gaze on Nalia.

The elevator stopped on the second floor, and the old woman exited. The doors closed and Nicholas crossed his arms against his chest.

“Hi Nalia,” he said. “Are you ill?”

She graced him with her smile.

“Hi, Nicholas,” she said. “Are you ill?”

“You can’t answer a question with a question.”

“And why not?”

“Because it’s going round in circles,” Nicholas said.

“Do I look sick to you?” Nalia asked.

Nalia looked great. Fitting silk green blouse, dark slacks that hugged her hips, her feet in green flats, no excess make-up, though her lips were a pretty red.  She was pretty.

“What?” she asked, when he didn’t comment.

Nicholas cleared his throat. “You look well.”

The elevator doors opened.

Nalia led the way out, Nicholas followed amazed when she got a round of hellos from the nurses at the reception desk. She got a very warm welcome, which was surprising. He’d never gotten that reaction from Eli’s nurses.

“How long have you been coming here?” Nicholas asked as they walked to Eli’s office.

“A while,” she said with a shrug.

He frowned. “Are you really not sick?”

Why else would she visit Eli so much?

Nalia shrugged and opened the door to Eli’s office. Nicholas followed, his frown only deepening when he saw Eli grin from ear to ear at the sight of Nalia. They greeted each other like old friends. He was jealous.

“Nick,” Eli said, glancing at him. “Come on in and close the door.”

“What’s going on here?” Nicholas asked, afraid of the answer.

Eli was single after all.

Eli took out a chocolate cupcake from the white box Nalia had set on his desk. He smiled and held it up.

“I promised you cupcakes, didn’t I?”

Eli took a bite and groaned with pleasure.

“You’re magic, Nalia. These are delicious. Your customers must be going crazy.”

Nicholas stopped in the middle of the office, his gaze on Nalia who sat in an armchair, that maddening smile on her lovely face.

“You own a bakery?” Nicholas asked.

“I do now,” Nalia said. “I’m also a teacher.”

“Sit down, Nick,” Eli said holding out a cupcake to him. “Nalia and me, we have a favor to ask you.”

Nicholas took the cupcake and sat next to Nalia. To think he’d been dreaming of these cupcakes for weeks. He smiled because in truth, he’d wanted to see Nalia, wanted to know more about her.

“Nicholas, Nalia needs a lawyer,” Eli said, shocking him. “Can you help?”

Nicholas turned to look at Nalia.

“I’m divorcing my husband.”

****

Thank you for reading. ^_^

Previous Chapters

Girl with a Golden Smile – 5

Other EA Friday Feature Stories:

The Restaurant – Waiting on Tables

Some Kind of Love

Porn with Plot

The 9th Circle

Have a Nice Day….

Prompt: Let’s have some fun, and go to a Rock Concert!!  Whatever rocks your boat. Yeah!!

Write 1,000 about this.

concert

Have a Nice Day….

Hunter picked up his guitar cases from the minivan’s floor, and scowled when the snap broke and the case opened. He knelt on the tarmac, and placed the case on the ground, reaching for the lid, he paused, his gaze on the expensive electric guitar resting in the black velvet bed.

Hunter touched the surface with reverence. The surface smooth to the touch, he smiled as he remembered the first time he’d fallen in love with the guitar.

Fourteen years old, he thought.

Listening to a random station in the back of his mother’s house, Bon Jovi’s Have a Nice Day, damn, he loved that song. He’d sang that song every day after that. Screaming it out like a maniac so all the neighbors could hear him. He’d sing in the shower holding the soap like a microphone, at the dinner table with his spoon for a microphone. He’d sang that song until his mother had started calling him, ‘Have a Nice Day’.

Of course, he’d grown out of the phase of singing ‘Have a Nice Day’ aloud when no one was happy about it, but not his love for guitars. At fifteen, he’d cajoled his father into paying for classes at a private music school in Hurlingham. He winced at that memory. His father had used it against him for years…through high school really.

Every time he failed exams, his father would threaten to discontinue paying for the classes.

Hunter sighed.

As a result, he’d worked like a maniac in school. Studying hard, keeping top grades, all for the love of guitars.  Snapping the case closed, Hunter got to his feet and carried the case toward the entrance into the Safaricom Kasarani Stadium.  His band was having three shows here, before moving on to Tanzania.

“Let me get that for you,” a young man hurried to his side, holding out a hand eager to take the case from him.

Hunter shook his head.  No way, he loved this baby too much to give it to anyone else.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said when the young man gave him a disappointed look. “Hey, what’s your name?”

“Maina,” the young man said a smile returning.

“Look Maina, maybe you can get me a large bottle of cold water. Cold, very cold.”

Maina grinned and hurried away in the maze of corridors. Hunter hoped Maina would know where to find him.

“What took you so long?”

Hunter glanced ahead to find his bandmates watching him.

His crew, he thought taking in the trio leaning on the wall, surrounded by management staff.

Hunter remembered the day he’d met them too. Nairobi University, at a poetry discussion meet, they’d all sat in the back, listening to poems about the world ending.  Depressed, they’d skipped out and instead gone to hang out at a local hangout joint and ended up starting a band.

There was Jake, the band’s drummer. Jake was an architect by profession. Then there was Troy. Troy had started out doing medicine before he ditched that major and pursued music. Troy wrote the band’s music. Then there was Kate. Kate with her long thick braids, and catty eyes that could chill a man’s blood, she was the band’s bassist.

Together, they made up the rock band, Furahi.

Hunter held up his guitar and Jake shook his head in amusement.

“No one will steal it,” Troy teased with a sigh, crossing his arms, his drumsticks held in his left hand.

Troy never let anyone carry those either, Hunter thought in amusement.

“Stop teasing him, Troy,” Kate said, moving to pull Hunter into the circle. “The back-up band is on stage rehearsing. I like their guitarist; he’s almost as good as you, but he’s missing the flair.”

“No one is as good as Hunter,” Troy scoffed. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t have him in the band.”

“Well, that’s good to know,” Hunter said with a smile, there was no ending Troy teasing him.

They’d all known each other for ten years. Lived through mistakes, bad decisions, devastating outcomes, and disappointments, Hunter could remember each one with a painful pang in his heart.

Furahi was successful today, but it hadn’t always been. Their down days haunted Hunter.

As though reading his thoughts, Jake touched his left arm.

“They say the tickets are sold out,” Jake said. “They’re worried fans will riot at the entrance.”

“That’s crazy,” Kate said her amazed expression understandable. “We’ve arrived folks.”

Jake and Troy chuckled; Hunter just squeezed Kate’s shoulder and nodded to their manager who was beckoning them.

The next two hours were exhilarating and nerve wrecking. Prepping a concert started months before, but the last few minutes before that first song, Hunter always felt as though the world was dancing on his shoulders.

Taking in a deep breath, he adjusted the black fitted pants and the metallic belt he wore. The band’s hair stylist had his hair cut in a short Mohawk; he sometimes didn’t recognize himself in the mirror. If it was up to him, he’d have a full on Afro like Lenny Kravitz, but apparently that didn’t work for him. Hunter shook his head, rubbing his clean-shaven jaw. Oh well, whatever it took to sell their albums.

Chicks dug the whole bad boy thing anyway, so…he sipped the water Maina had brought him.  He’d had to give an autograph for that.

“If I didn’t have a boyfriend, I’d kiss you,” Kate said coming to stand next to him. She looked hot in leather.

“Dump him,” Hunter challenged, wishing she would.

Kate grinned and pressed a kiss on his left cheek before she walked away.

“Tease,” he called after her.

“Time,” the show’s producer called into the dressing room, setting off the butterflies in Hunter’s stomach.

He’d performed thousands of shows, for thousands and thousands of people. Still, that moment before a concert always got him. He followed his bandmates backstage, climbing the steps with trepidation.

“We got you,” Jake said beside him, right before they stepped out on to the open stage.

Their audience exploded, screams and shouts, and their energy blew him away. Hunter stood still on the stage, feeling free for the first time in his music career. The audience’s enthusiasm exorcised his butterflies, fueling his energy.

Taking his guitar from it’s stand, Hunter walked up to the microphone, amid screams, he was afraid their audience wasn’t going to let him sing.

“We love you, Hunter!” someone screamed out and he grinned. “We love you Furahi.”

Hunter turned to his bandmates.

“Have a nice day….” He sang and got wide grins from them in return, they knew the story of that song. Those days, when he’d sang and, no one had screamed in happiness to hear it.

Hunter turned back to the packed stadium, and strummed the first bar of their hit song, ‘Get me home’.

Hunter started singing, and as his audience sang along, he finally understood Bon Jovi’s song.

Do what you want….no matter what, live your life how you want it.

Other Concert Prompt Stories:

4. Mira’s Love Affair

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 5

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 5

Nicholas couldn’t help stealing glances at Nalia. He drove with care, keeping to the speed limit, not overtaking at EA 2will. A smile tagged at his lips.

Eli would be proud, he thought.

Nalia sat with her hands on her lap. Her fingers were in tight fists, her gaze fixed outside the window. She hadn’t spoken much after her consultation with Eli.  Eli resisted his efforts to discover what they discussed in privacy. Instead, Eli had given Nalia his card and made her promise to call him.

Nicholas stopped the car at the first bus stop he found on the main road. Parking on the curb, he turned to Nalia.

“Do you live close?” he asked.

She nodded, but didn’t say a word.

Reaching into his jacket, Nicholas got his wallet and found a five hundred shillings note.

“Will this be enough?” he asked, holding it out to her. “It should get you home—,”

“That’s too much,” Nalia said. “Two hundred is fine.”

Nicholas sighed.

“I don’t have loose.”

She frowned at him.

He didn’t like those little frowns of hers. She probably thought him stuck-up or something worse for carrying large notes.

“Take the money, Nalia,” he urged.

She scoffed and took it with a short jerk. “I’ll pay it back.”

“Are you always this stubborn?” Nicholas asked. “You don’t want help from anyone. Who lives like that?”

“Me,” she said and reached for the door handle.

The surge of panic that flooded him was new.  Nicholas was sure he’d never see her again, but…he wanted to see her again.

“Wait,” he said when she opened the door.

“For what?” she asked jumping out of the cab.

She held the passenger door open and met his gaze.  When he didn’t say anything, she shrugged.

“Thank you,” she said. “You’ve been very kind to me.”

Nicholas nodded and watched as she closed the door and took two steps back.

She had his card, he thought.

She’d insisted on it, to be able to pay back the money she borrowed.

A matatu stopped in front of his car, and he watched Nalia hurry to board.  Nicholas smiled when she paused at the last minute to look back at his car. She gave him a short wave and he scoffed at the little flutter in his chest. The matatu took off as fast as it had shown up.

Nalia was intriguing.

She was a woman who took the time to bake to thank him for being kind. Her sense of humor made him laugh, not to mention she was beautiful in her own right. The bruise on her face brought a frown, and Nicholas wondered what it was Eli had learned about that bruise.

Domestic violence came to mind. He wondered what kind of man dared to hit a woman like Nalia. Would that bastard do it again?

Nicholas frowned, staring after the retreating matatu.

Maybe he shouldn’t have let her go.

“Come to your senses, Nick,” he murmured and started his car. “She’s a stranger you met last night.”

Turning the car around, he drove back to the villa and his renovation plans.

****

Malik wasn’t home when Nalia entered their small rental house.

floorNalia stood in their living room staring at the plates she’d dumped on the living room floor. She leaned down and righted one of the two dining room chairs they owned. She rubbed her arms looking around the little living room that could fit in the bathroom she’d used to clean up hours before.

Her home was small, but she’d once thought to be happy here, now this small space felt cold. Colder than the rain she’d ran through last night.

Ignoring the mess on the floor, Nalia went to the single bedroom she shared with Malik.

The bed was unused. Malik hadn’t slept here. She stepped over Malik’s soiled shirt on the floor and sat down on their bed. The room was messy: the clothes she fought to keep neat in their tiny closet were falling out.

Nalia shook her head.   She needed to figure out what she wanted.

****

“What kind of woman runs out in the rain?” Malik demanded later that day when he got home. “You made a mess, and then left me to clean it up. What did you think was going to happen?”

Nalia sat at the small dining table peeling potatoes for dinner. She kept her gaze on the potato peels, refusing to look at Malik.  Her husband was drunk. He had come home from one of his binges at the bar. Something was either right or terrible wrong. She didn’t dare ask. Her cheek was starting to heal. She didn’t need a fresh bruise.

“Are you just going to sit there?” Malik asked, standing over her. “All you do is cook and clean, work. You have no time for me. Why did we get married again? You don’t even try to look pretty anymore.”

Nalia closed her eyes and forced her fingers not to stiffen on the knife she held.

“Go sleep,” she said. “You must be tired.”

“Sleep here?” Malik scoffed. “This shack we call home is not comfortable, Nalia. What do you want to do about that?”

Nalia’s eyes opened and she dropped the knife on top of the potato peels.’

“What do I want to do?” she asked, her tone sharper than she’d intended.

Damn it, Malik was a spoiled man. She couldn’t stand it anymore.

Malik blinked staring at her.

“What am I to you?” she asked, pushing her chair back, Nalia got to her feet. “A punching bag? A private chef? Your cash cow?”

“Stop this foolishness,” Malik said with a wave of his hand. “You still haven’t told me where you went last night. No descent woman sleeps outside—

“Whose fault is it I went running out in the first place?” Nalia demanded. “I’m tired of this, Malik.”

“Tired of what?” Malik asked, his gaze dropping to the peeled potatoes. “Cooking?”

“No, being your slave,” Nalia snapped. “I want a divorce.”

****

Previous Chapters

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 4

Read More EA Friday Feature October Snippets

Amistad ain’t got nothing on me

The Assassin Diaries: Show me Mercy

Some Kind of Love

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

EA Friday Feature – September Prompt #3

EA Friday FeatureFriday Feature1

Write a story of only 1,000 words using the prompt given.  Post it on your blog on Fridays and share posts from fellow bloggers participating in the feature.

September Prompt #3:

A Quote: There is, No One in the World, That Lives without Sin…

quote

Previous Prompt Responses:

The Red Kanga

Read the EA Friday Feature August Issue for Free.

EA Friday Feature – September Prompt #2

Friday Feature1

EA Friday Feature

Write a story of only 1,000 words using the prompt given.  Post it on your blog on Fridays and share posts from fellow bloggers participating in the feature.

Sept. Prompt #2:

Mystic woods
Once again we have a picture. The Mystic Woods! What story do you see here? The due date for this prompt is: September 11, 2015.
Remember the prompt is simply a guideline…let your creative juices flow and your imagination go wild.
Last Week’s Prompt Responses:
Rosemary – Nilichoandika
The Cursed Blessing – Flashes of Vice
Stay Tuned for the next series of stories…from the EA. ^_^

EA Friday Feature – September Prompt #1

The Prompt for September:

Friday Feature1

Write a story of only 1,000 words using the prompt given.  Post it on your blog on Fridays and share the posts of fellow bloggers participating in the feature.

September Prompt #1

Risk: What is your interpretation of Risk: A gamble on something

Last Prompt Responses:
Chocolate Cupcakes

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 3

Prompt #1Friday Feature1

Risk: What is your interpretation of Risk: A gamble on something

Life Outside the Box

Nalia.

Nicholas bit into the chocolate cupcake.

She was a temptress, how had she known he liked chocolate? They tasted good, heavenly.  She passed him a mug of coffee and he stared at the steaming liquid.  She was a magician too.  He hadn’t done grocery shopping yesterday.

“There’s a shop at the end of the road. I bought instant coffee there. I took money from your car.”

She grinned.

“I think it’s funny you have a jar of coins in your glove compartment.”

Nalia seemed to have gone exploring while he slept. Changed her clothes too…or her blouse.  She wore a clean white t-shirt that read ‘Wishing for the stars’, and the blue jeans she’d worn yesterday. They had water marks. She’d tried to clean out the mud. Her braids fell around her face, hiding the bruise that had turned darker than it was last night.

“I borrowed this too,” she said tugging on the t-shirt. She sat on the chair across him and leaned her elbows on thebreakfast table. “Found it in a closet on the second floor. Do you live here?”

Nicholas sipped the coffee, it wasn’t the best, but it was hot and sweet. Three healthy sips and the sleep cobwebs dissipated.

“No.” He looked around the kitchen. The previous owner had left a lot of things hanging around. “This is my first time here.”

Waa,” Nalia’s eyes went wide. “You’re one of those people, aren’t you?”

He didn’t like the tone she used, accusing…judging.

“What people?” he asked.

“You own a country house and an apartment, and a hut in the hills, and a bungalow by the beach.” Nalia counted his imaginary houses using her left hand, she shook her head. “No one lives in these houses but the rats and the stray cats. So, why own them?”

Nicholas chuckled. “You have a wild imagination. Do I look rich enough to throw money away that way?”

“So, are you a penny saver then?” she asked. “Ah…but the coins in a jar should answer that question. You know I noticed you don’t have proper furniture around here. There’s only that one mug you’re using, and I had to use a rolling pin to mix the cupcakes. Do you know how hard that is?”

“No.” Nicholas sipped his coffee. “You talk a lot.”

“It’s not my fault.” Nalia sighed and sat back in her seat. “I hang out with kids all day. When I meet adults, I get excited and try to use all my words.”

Nicholas laughed then.

She smiled.

“Finally,” she said. “I was a bit worried you’re those people who frown all the time. I feel better now. I wanted to thank you when you’re smiling.”

“Thank me?” Nicholas asked, reaching for another cupcake.

“For being my life saver last night,” she said, her tone changing. “You took a risk taking in a strange woman in the night.”

“You jumped out of nowhere,” Nicholas accused. “You could have been killed, what were you thinking?”

“I don’t think I was.” Nalia rubbed her arms with a sigh. “I wasn’t in the best of places last night. You must have been shocked.”

Nicholas studied her face. She had one of those slender faces. Clear dark brown eyes, and a ready smile. She was pretty, in a plain innocent way. The bruise on her left cheek bothered him.

“Did you get that bruise running in the woods?”

She reached up and touched it, her fingers trembling as they touched the tender skin.

“I got it from a bad habit.” She sighed and got up. “I’m sorry to have bothered you. I’ll leave now.”

“Wait,” Nicholas said surprising himself.

She paused, giving him a frown.

“I made you coffee and chocolate cupcakes. I don’t have money to pay you—

“That’s not why I’m asking you to wait.” Nicholas waved her worry away. “Please, sit down for a minute. If you stay a bit, I’ll drive you home.”

“No.” Nalia shook her head, the cheerful smile disappearing. “I—

“Fine, I won’t drive you home,” he said, wanting that ready smile back. “I’ll take you to the bus stop.”

“I don’t have money.”

“I’ll lend you bus fare.”

“How will I pay it back?”

“You can pay me with Mpesa.”

“I’m—

“Hey, it’s a Saturday.” Nicholas sat back in his seat and folded his arms against his chest. “Everyone takes a break on Saturday morning.”

“Yeah, not me,” Nalia clutched the back of her seat, looking out the window at the rising sun. “I need to get going. I did something last night.”

“Something bad?” he asked, curious as to what would make a woman go running in the woods so late.

“Something outside the box,” she said with a sigh. Her hands were shaking. She let go of the chair, and crossed her arms against her chest. “I know I look like I’m smiling right now, but…I’m a bit insane.”

“Should I be worried?” Nicholas asked.

Nalia stared at him and when he lifted a brow in question she burst out laughing.

“You can’t possibly be afraid of me, can you?” she asked.

“You said you’re insane,” Nicholas countered.

Nalia studied him for a moment, and then nodded.

“Yes, you’re right. I’m insane. I’ve gone crazy. You are the first poor soul I ran into after my descent into this state, so you’ve taken a risk I tell you. Who knows what I’ll do next.”

“My friend is coming over,” Nicholas said then reaching for another cupcake.

“What does that have to with this situation?”

Nicholas bit into the delicious chocolate cupcake. “I’m just letting you know someone will worry about me if I go missing.”

Nalia laughed again, and she pulled out the chair she’d vacated and sat down.

“I thought you were leaving?”

Nalia reached for his mug of coffee and made a show of taking a sip. She took one of the cupcakes and made a show of eating it too.

He frowned.

“I’m eating too, in case you think I’ve poisoned them. This way, you’re sure your friend will find two bodies.” Nalia swallowed quickly, and sipped his coffee again. “Mmm…these are really good.”

Nicholas chuckled and wondered what fate had decided. It seemed his risk taking last night had awarded him with a crazy woman who loved chocolate cupcakes.

What was he going to do with her?

***

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 2

Read other E. A Friday Features here:

 The Cursed Blessing

Fear of Falling

Rosemary

Bitch Better have my Money