Amahle pulls the gate padlock to confirm that it is locked before she walks up the road. Ningi left for work an hour ago, so it’s safe. The sun is sinking below the horizon and taking its light with it. The streetlights have come on, doing their best to light up the dark. Amahle turns a corner and sees Sizwe’s blue Audi A4 parked on the pavement. The Audi’s left rear door pops open and Ziyanda’s head sticks out.

“Get in quickly,” Ziyanda says in a hushed voice and points with her thumb. “That’s your mom’s friend over there.”

Amahle jumps into the car hurriedly. She peeks out and sees Aunt Jabu, a neighbour and friend of her mother, standing outside a fence talking to another woman. Luckily, they’re far from the Audi and Aunt Jabu is facing away.

“You scared me,” Amahle elbows Ziyanda lightly.

“I saved you. What if she turned around and saw you while you were still modelling?”

Sizwe laughs from the driver’s seat. “So she doesn’t walk like that every day?” he turns and looks at the girls.

“I do,” Amahle says quickly.

“You model every day?” Mbuso chimes in.

Everyone in the car laughs. Sizwe starts the car and drives off while jokes are being passed around. Then he takes the slip road to Durban.

Sizwe’s Audi A4 enters the gate of a double-storey house in Overport. There are only two cars parked in the big yard. The only hint that there might be a party going on is the music playing on the top floor and two underdressed girls standing on the balcony smoking.

“Whose house is this?” Amahle folds her arms and sits back like she’s planning not to get out of the car.

“It is my uncle’s house,” Sizwe grins. “He’s a rich man that one, he owns many houses around here.”

“It’s far,” Amahle says uneasily.

“Relax,” Ziyanda looks at her friend with understanding eyes. She’s the only one who knows that Amahle has never been so far from home without her mother by her side. “You’re with me, and we can go home anytime you want, okay?”

Amahle nods but doesn’t unfold her arms.

“I don’t want you to be uncomfortable, Amahle,” Sizwe pulls out a roll of R200 notes from his pocket and takes three notes from the roll. He turns to the backseat and hands the money to Amahle. “Here’s money for the Uber back home. We’re here to have fun and if you’re not having fun anymore, I’d rather you go home instead of making me see sad faces on my birthday party; that’s the worst.”

Amahle looks at Ziyanda questioningly. Ziyanda smiles, takes the money from Sizwe and hands it to Amahle, who takes the money and smiles back.

“Alright,” says Mbuso loudly. “Let’s paaarty!”

Sizwe and the girls laugh as they get out of the car and make their way to the house.

Phindi, one of the girls on the balcony, sees the group exit the Audi. She rushes from the balcony to the living room and her friend Nelisiwe follows her. Mbuso’s friend, Jack, and a beautiful Indian girl with two gold teeth and a nose ring are seated on a long white couch drinking vodka and smoking a hookah. An Amapiano music video is playing on the huge flat screen mounted on the wall.

“Jack, Krish, they’ve got her,” Phindi says.

Tell us: What would you do in this situation?