To celebrate the release of Kola, I'm going to serialise the prologue on my blog over the next 7 days.
Many of you may not know this but Kola's story is very close to my heart. Of all the Essien brothers, he gave me the most sleepless nights. LOL.
I started writing his story back in 2011 after I finished the first draft of Felix's story which you now know as Keeping Secrets. Even before I knew Mark or Tony very well, Kola came to me a very vivid and yet enigmatic character.
I wrote his story to the half-way point and got to a road block. I couldn't go forward. It was like he was saying to me, "you can't write an ending for my story until you've written my beginning."
Forward to 2015, after I'd written Mark and Tony's story, Kola's background became clearer to me. This is how the prologue was born and I had to write it into the story.
This is Kola's beginning. Enjoy it.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright© 2015 Kiru Taye
Editor: Zee Monodee
Cover Artist: Love Bites and Silk
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be used
or reproduced electronically or in print without written
permission, except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in reviews.
When sassy heiress Tari Essien needs a place to escape the pressures of the hounding press, she turns to Kola Banks, a deeply scarred ex-soldier who's also the Essien chief of security. Kola can't offer Tari anything more than his protection. She's family, for goodness sake, even if they share no blood ties.
It’s a weekend of lessons for both of them. Together, they can't avoid the explosive heat that sizzles between them, nor help pushing each others' boundaries physically as well as emotionally.
But when the weekend ends and Tari's life is in danger, will Kola put his body as well as his heart in the line of fire to keep her safe?
Twenty-two years ago.
"Olori, here he is."
The boy standing behind Kola shoved him and he stumbled forward on the uneven floor. His thin body trembled as it normally did on a cold morning when he had nothing to shield himself from the harsh Harmattan winds blowing from the Sahara Desert into Nigeria. Except now, the sun blazed in a clear blue sky, stifling him in afternoon heat.
Sweat made his palms clammy. He pressed his arms to his sides and blinked at a rapid rate as he stared at the group of five boys surrounding him. They were a raggedy bunch in tired torn shirts, some in trousers and others in shorts. Most of them appeared around his age of eight, not much taller or bigger than him.
One stood apart. A tall, older teenage boy with dark-skin that reminded him of burnt rubber tyres wore a plain grey t-shirt stretching across muscular chest and arms, blue jeans, and a pair of dust-smudged red sneakers. He lounged against the exposed grey brick wall of the uncompleted building. Kola's gaze riveted to the boy he assumed to be the leader of this gang and the pen knife he used to pick his nails.
"Tunji, who is this?" the burnt rubber-skinned boy asked, waving his pen knife in Kola's direction.
"I found him scavenging without your permission, Olori," the boy who'd pushed Kola replied.
"Is that so?" Olori straightened. His flat, wide nose flared, reminding Kola of an angry bull as he swaggered over, his pen knife now in his fist.
Breath bursting out of his open mouth, Kola couldn’t seem to control his shaking body. Like a cornered, wounded animal, his gaze didn't slip from the boy who looked at him as if he was prey and open for the kill.
Blinking several times, he gulped, determined not to cry. Surely the boys wouldn’t hurt him because he'd been at the rubbish dump, scavenging for anything he could resell so he could make some money to buy food.
He sucked in a deep breath and the smell of stale food and burnt rubber clogged his nostril. Swallowing the bile in his throat, he tried to quell his trembling body. There wasn't anything in his stomach so even if he heaved, nothing would come out of his dry mouth. Hunger pangs cramped his tummy. He needed food. The last time he'd eaten anything had been the day before yesterday when he'd scavenged partially rotted plantains off the rubbish heap where he now lived. At least when his mother had been alive, he'd eaten at least one good meal a day. Now, he was lucky if he ate anything all week.
"I—I was just trying to find something to sell so I can buy some food," he said when he finally worked saliva into his mouth and could speak.
"Do you not know that you need permission to touch the patch of garbage?" Olori said, now in front and staring down with hard, dark eyes. "It belongs to me."
Kola's mouth dropped open. How could a boy this young own the dump?
"I didn't know," he squeaked in reply.
The other boy flicked his knife shut and crossed his arms. "How long have you been working here?"
Kola scratched the flaky skin on his elbow and darted his gaze from Olori to the other boys as they looked at him with a mix of curiosity and menace. After his mother's death, his neighbours had let him stay for a few days. Until one of them had tried touching his body the way he'd seen other men touch his mother. He'd bitten the man hard and ran as far away as he could, ending up at the rubbish dump. The people over here didn't care about him or his plight. They lived in a worse state than the slum he'd run from. He had to fend for himself, which was how he'd ended up scavenging in the first place.
"Just this week. I only started this week." He rushed his words, hoping the boy believed him.
The gang leader eyed him from head to toes, making him cringe. "This means you owe me a week's worth of taxes for the work you've done so far."
Taxes? Kola swallowed and clutched his hands tight. He'd barely earned enough to feed on from the items he'd sold. How could he afford to give money to someone who wasn't going to give him food? "But I don't have any money."
To be continued.
Come back tomorrow for more.
Can't wait? Click here to download a copy of Kola.