It is Saturday evening, and Nancy is meeting Jim for dinner. She is nervous, although she is not sure why. Nancy and Jim used to have lunch together twice every week when they both worked at S&S LLP. The habit slowed down when Jim left, and now they only meet on weekends. Nancy is beginning to romantically like Jim. She thinks about him more and more every day. She has convinced herself that she is just missing a friend, but at the back of her mind, she knows that that is not true. She is falling in love. She wonders whether her growing fondness for Jim was the reason she finally cut Sam loose.
She told Jim about the incident with Sam, and he has been very supportive about it, in his quiet, thoughtful way. It is now about a month since it happened, and she is largely over it. At least she no longer cries on her pillow at night.
She fusses over the dress she should wear. A red skirt and a black top? Too formal. The purple dress? Ish ish. The beige dress? Too short. In the end, she slips into a pair of jeans and wears a white t-shirt with a black jacket over it. She settles for white sneakers on her feet and prepares to leave. Is she fussing over a meal with Jim? Really? She almost laughs out loud.
She locks the house and leaves for the matatu stage, where she boards an old jalopy that must have been around since the First World War. The matatu has one headlight missing, as well as both side mirrors. Not that that is anything out of the ordinary. The matatus on her route are all pieces of scrap that manage to move only because of daily divine interventions.
Nancy sits at the front seat, next to the driver. The main cabin is often overloaded, and if she sits there, there is a possibility that she will alight smelling of someone’s sweat, or cigarette, or both. She prays that the person who will sit next to her will be clean.
Moments later, a young man with a hooded jumper hops in. A college student perhaps. He is well groomed with a faint scent of lemon-flavored cologne. Nancy sighs with relief. She has nothing to worry about the driver because while his clothes are not the cleanest on the continent, he does not smell of sweat, cigarettes or cheap alcohol.
With the small issue of seatmates sorted, Nancy relaxes and allows her mind to wander. She catches herself thinking about her life with Jim, as his wife. That thought gives her goosebumps. What is she thinking? Jim is just a friend. He does not see her as anything more than that. While the ride to the city centre is as bumpy as usual, she does not notice as her mind is floating, carrying Jim with it.
She alights at Latema Road and crosses over to Moi Avenue. They had agreed to meet at Cockerel Restaurant, a fairly new place on the equally new Mwimbi House on Kimathi street. She is at least half an hour early and she is determined to make it before Jim for the first time. She climbs the stairs to the first floor where the restaurant is.
As she heads to their usual spot, she notices that someone is already there. Jim.
“You should get a life. You can’t be sitting in restaurants all day,” she says, stretching her arms to hug him.
“Hi Nancy,” Jim replies, smiling.
“I didn’t know you missed me that much,” she teases and instantly regrets it. Will Jim think she is too forward? But Jim is smiling.
“You got me. How can I live without seeing you?” he says laughing.
Nancy’s mind goes on an overdrive. What does he mean? Is he serious? Of course not. He must be joking. She sits down, nervously looking at the menu.
“So how have you been? Has Andrew given you the promotion yet?” Jim is asking.
“I don’t even know whether I will get it, but no, he has not given it to anyone yet,” she says, staring at him. The brown eyes. Masculine jaw. Well trimmed beard. The dimple on the right cheek.
“You are staring,” Jim says, again with a smile. Nancy blushes.
“How is your firm doing?” she asks, attempting to change the subject.
“So far so good,”
A waiter is hovering near their table so they prepare to make their orders. Jim orders kienyeji with beef stew while Nancy orders pilau with chicken. They are informed that their orders will take about half an hour to be processed. One thing that they like about Cockerel Restaurant is that their food is prepared on order, unlike most of the other restaurants in the CBD which offer ready food, raising questions about the freshness of the food.
Jim orders white coffee while Nancy orders tea masala. They sip their beverages chatting, as they wait for their food to be prepared. Over the past few months, Nancy has been amazed by the wide range of knowledge that Jim possesses. She had always thought that he is a legal geek and cared for nothing but the law. But over time his wide range of knowledge amazed her. He knows almost everything yet he somehow does not dominate conversations.
“Hello Jim and Lady,” a deep voice interrupts their chat.
Jim and Nancy simultaneously look up. A tall man and an equally tall woman are standing at their table.
“Tom! Good to see you,” Jim’s face lights up as he gives the other man a shoulder hug.
“This is my friend Nancy. Nancy, this is my friend Tom. We have been friends since our days in Law School.”
“Hello Nancy,” Tom says, stretching his hand towards her.
“Hello Tom. Nice to meet you,”
“Jim, Nancy; this is Jane, my girlfriend.”
“Pleasure to meet you Jane,” Jim says.
“The pleasure is all mine,” Jane replies. The pleasantries are cliché, but they are so used to the format that no one gives it a thought.
After pleasantries, Jane and Tom find another table a safe distance away, leaving Nancy and Jim to continue with their conversation. Nancy is a basketball fan and is telling Jim about the finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I don’t think all is well with your friends,” Nancy suddenly tells Jim.
Jim glances at the table where Tom and Jane are sitting. Jane is angrily talking to Tom. Suddenly she stands up, picks up her handbag and leaves the restaurant. Tom catches them staring. Nancy quickly looks away, but Jim and Tom shrug their shoulders in mutual understanding.
“You were saying something earlier,” Nancy says.
“What were we talking about?”
“About Golden State Warriors and Cleveland,”
“Oh right. I was asking, do I need to be a basketball player to steal your heart from LeBron James?”
Nancy ponders the question. What does he mean? She decides to play it safe.
“No you don’t. LeBron is just a celebrity crush. But you have to put some effort,”
“Okay. Here goes the effort. Nancy Nkirote, will you be my girlfriend and future wife?”
Nancy feels her skin jump out of her body. Has he actually asked that or is she dreaming? Should she say yes immediately or should she play hard to get? As she is pondering her answer, Jim suddenly clutches his chest and seems to be incredible pain. He falls off his chair onto the floor.
Jane screams and seconds later Tom is by her side. Everyone in the restaurant is watching, some taking pictures with their phones. Tom takes Jim by the shoulders and drags him to the lift, with Nancy following. They find their way to the basement and get into Tom’s car. Jane sits at the back with Jim, and with Tom driving, they speed away towards MP Shah Hospital.
Today is the day you buy me coffee, dear readers. As I mentioned on Friday and again on Tuesday, today’s story is not a part of a series. It is an excerpt from my novella, a 55-page ebook that I have written. To get the whole story in the book follow the easy steps below:
Edit: We have improved the system to improve your experience. The steps are now fewer and more direct.
- Click the link provided below. It will take you to my bookstore.
- Log in. If this is your first time at the bookstore, register first. There is a register button at the top. If you are using a mobile phone you will see a button with three lines at the top right. Click there to reveal the “Register” button. site.
- Tap the cover page of the novella then click the cart that appears BELOW the cover page to add the book to the cart.
- Click on the green cart that is at the TOP of the cover page after it shows a number 1 on it.
- Scroll down and click on the “check out” button at the bottom. 7
- You are now on the payment step. Enter your phone number and start with 254 instead of 0 (DO NOT use +) e.g 254722xxxxx.
- The amount (Kshs. 100) is already shown. Click Confirm.
- Your phone will prompt you to complete the payment.
- You can now download the book from the portal. The system will also automatically send a copy of the book to your email once you pay successfully.
I hope you enjoy the read. Be sure to come back on Friday because we are starting the next free story.