When Khosi left the house for the late shift the next day, she hesitated just outside her front door, and scanned the street. Sbu was nowhere to be seen. She had already sent a text message to Bongani early that morning. It had said:

Sbu was w8ing 4 me last nite
he scares me

Bongani replied:

b careful
Sum1came looking 4
u this morning

When Khosi got to the restaurant Bongani was busy slicing the vegetables.

“Wait here” he said going into the back of the kitchen. He came back with a large bunch of red roses. Khosi couldn’t believe it. He had bought her flowers.

“These came for you,” Bongani said handing her the roses. Her heart fell − they weren’t from him. Then from who? “With a card.” Bongani handed her an embossed card.

“Did you see the person?”

Bongani shook his head. “No, the flowers were waiting outside the door. I was the first to arrive.”

Khosi opened the card slowly.

For our cover girl
Who’s all grown up now.
The sky’s the limit!

She looked at the handwriting carefully. It wasn’t Sbu’s messy scrawl. These letters were beautifully neat and flowing.

“Looks like you have more admirers,” teased Bongani. Khosi turned the card over. There was a number on the back. She didn’t recognise it. She would call whoever it was after lunch, but not now. Already a bus load of tourists had arrived and were taking up most of the tables.

As she set the tables on the patio, Khosi noticed that there was a new security guard posted outside the restaurant, patrolling the pavement. The owner also told all the waitrons that a number of new panic buttons had been installed that morning. Bongani had been right. Security had been increased overnight.

When the lunch shift ended, and the tourists were all safely back on their bus, Khosi breathed a sigh of relief. There had been no sign of Sbu, although she had been watching the street and the trees on the other side where he sought out the shadows.

Bongani brought his plate of lunch to an outside table where Khosi sat, counting out her tips.

“Well, everything went pretty smoothly at lunch,” said Bongani, tucking into his plate of steak and chips.

Khosi didn’t feel hungry. “I’m just glad there was no sign of Sbu,” she said with a frown.

Bongani put his hand up, and grinned, “No talk of Sbu while I’m eating please,” he said, with a mouthful of chips. “He gives me indigestion.”

Khosi took out the card that had come with the flowers and looked at the number again. Then she punched out the numbers on her phone.

A woman answered: “Hammonds Furniture Emporium. Can I help you?”

Khosi felt numb. It was the company that had her eight-year-old face on all of their trucks. She couldn’t believe it. Khosi told her who she was, and that she had received flowers and a card. The woman asked if she could come by their offices as soon as possible. They had something they needed to talk to her about.