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Previously on Spending Mommy’s Money…
- Everybody was in Bahamas.
- Kofo’s friends were there too, but they were shamelessly pitching their sons to Rain. But…
- Nwanneka was steps ahead, as she had brought her son, Yuri, all the way to the Bahamas to claim his bride, Rain, who was her childhood crush, by the way.
- There was a family meeting to introduce Rain to her siblings, but everywhere scatter. Sunny now showed up with his own drama, tagging a clueless Tari along.
- Tari sef got tired of the whole thing with Rain and said he wasn’t doing. But he wanted to do FWB.
- Everybody was sha mad in the last episode, save for Jaya whose birthday was about to go down and she found some guy to plan a birthday eve party for her.
- Now, that you’ve caught up, go ahead and enjoy this new episode.
- Did I hear somebody ask for a bonus?
CHAPTER TWELVE – Like mother, like daughter
Nadia was going to ignore her phone, but it wouldn’t stop buzzing beside her. Four calls in two minutes! Only one person had the audacity to disturb her this early in this manner.
“Baby sis, do you have any sanitary products? My stupid period just showed up without warning,” Lanumi grunted.
Nadia stared at the man sleeping beside her. He looked like a baby who had cried itself to sleep, finding comfort in a pillow. But there was nothing infantile about him. A couple of hours ago, he had been all man between her legs, making it quite an adventure. Not just because of the pleasure, but also for the thrill of doing something spiteful to Rain.
“I have tampons, but I’m not at home yet.”
“Oh?” Excitement jumped into Lanumi’s tone. “Who is he? Was he the one you were dancing with at the party? That really fair guy?”
Nadia wasn’t going to tell Lanumi who he was yet. Or anybody at all. In fact, she didn’t even know what this was. She had been horny and needed a man. Yuri seemed like a perfect candidate. Of course, she had also shagged him for malicious purposes. It would be interesting to do more than just have sex with him, but she was an intentional woman. Having a man in her space wasn’t something she thought about lightly.
“I have tampons in my room. Check my carry-on,” she told Lanumi. “I’ll see you in a bit.”
Nadia got off the bed and used the bathroom. When she returned, she wore her clothes quietly and left the suite. Riding the elevator down, she revisited her plan to return to Lagos. Of course, she had said those words in anger. But it was still an option. She could return home and continue her life, which was way better than it was a year ago. Presently, she could afford anything she wanted, but she longed for more. She wanted what Rain had—all of it.
The elevator doors parted and she stepped out. The reception of the hotel was quiet, with just a couple of people hanging around. Nadia walked past an old couple who had just come in, dragging matching suitcases. For a second, she imagined them to be her parents—old and happy in their marriage. What would life had been for her and her siblings, if they had grown up in a happy home?
Nadia stepped outside the hotel. Darkness was slowly turning into daylight, and the air smelled crisp and fresh, as if it had just washed out last night’s debauchery.
“Good morning,” some uniformed person greeted Nadia as they walked by. She pretended not to hear, moving toward the car park where a cab service was located. She had wanted to call for a ride at the reception, but she didn’t want to bump into anyone that could recognize her. The hotel was swarming with Nigerians, many of whom had shown up for Jaya’s party last night.
Nadia arrived at the cab service station and requested a ride. A nice lady who asked her if she wanted coffee told her to sit and wait for her driver to pull over.
Nadia’s phone buzzed as a message from Yuri dropped in. He wanted to know why she hadn’t woken him up before leaving.
-You were sleeping like a baby
-Am I seeing you again today? Tonight? Look what you’re doing to me
He sent her a photo of his morning boner, and Nadia considered seeing him again. The sex had been okay. There was room for improvement, though. She particularly liked that she could grip his hair while riding him, something she had always wanted to do during sex.
-I’ll call you when I get home
She had met him at the hotel’s lounge last night, after leaving her mother’s home in anger. She had sought the nearest bar to drown her pain. According to Google, there were two spots within the vicinity, but she chose the hotel—in case she drank too much and struggled to make it home. She would book a room for the night and leave in the morning.
So, she sat at the bar table in one of the hotel’s four lounges and ordered a drink. On her third glass, a man showed up and asked the mixologist for a bottle of whiskey.
“Anything vintage would do,” he said. Then, he looked at Nadia and looked away. “How much would that cost?”
“We don’t sell entire bottles, sir,” the pretty mixologist answered with a Bahamian accent. “Unless you wanna drink it here. But we have a liquor store in the hotel. It’s cheaper there.”
“Oh. But I want to get it here. My friend and I,” he looked at Nadia, “would drink it here.”
Nadia’s brows crumpled into a questioning frown.
“That’s fine, sir.”
As the mixologist turned away, he pulled a stool and sat beside Nadia. He smelled of something zesty.
“Please, don’t ask me what a beautiful girl like me is doing in a place like this,” she said. “Four men have done that already. You guys could really use better pick-up lines.”
“Me, I have great lines like ‘I’m sorry, were you talking to me?’ Then, you’d say ‘no’. And I’ll say, ‘well, would you like to?’”
Nadia gave him an empty stare and he burst into a laugh that made her frown more.
“Ignore me,” he said.
“You stay here in the hotel?”
“Bro, I don’t want to talk to you.”
“Well, would you like to?”
Nadia was forced to smile. “Maybe you should just go to that liquor store and get what you want and leave me alone.”
“You really need to talk to someone. So do I.”
The mixologist returned. “Here you go, sir. Do you need me to mix it with something or make it clean?”
“Not now. But let me have what she’s having, for starters.”
When the lady walked away, he faced Nadia again.
“Like I said, I need to talk to somebody. A stranger.”
“Here’s my story.”
“I didn’t ask.”
“My parents got divorced when I was a teen. My grandparents were quite mad at my dad for the way he treated my mom, so they offered their home to us. My grandad died a few years later and willed everything to my mom, leaving my dad out. My mom, for fear of her life and ours, brought us back home to Nigeria and started a multi-million-naira company. I oversee it now, as my elder brother has no desire to be in the advertising business and my younger brother is quite useless.”
Nadia stared at him like he was mindless. “Do you go around, trying to show off to random women how rich you are?”
“No, but I was triggered not long ago by the woman who is supposed to be my wife. You see, I used to know her as a teen. We were crazy about each other then. But my family moved to Russia to stay with my grandparents…”
Nadia gave him a closer look.
“Yes, I’m half-Russian.”
“You don’t look half anything. You’re just fair.”
“The hair?” He touched his curls, almost making Nadia smile a second time. “Some people say I look like a mix of Trevor Noah and Drake, with a dash of Majid Michel.”
Nadia shook her head.
“None of them? Okay, so… I had to get over her eventually. For context, our mothers had always been friends, and lately, they decided that it would be best if we—me and my childhood crush—got married to preserve the bond between both families and to create a combined legacy, because my company has just gotten into a long-term contract with theirs.”
“I’m sorry, but this 2022 and nobody does that thing your mom is doing with her friend. Arranged marriages are so 1970s.”
“I know, but I think Rain and I…”
The mixologist came with his drink; and as his attention was drawn to her, Nadia fixed her eyes on him, not sure she had heard him mention Rain’s name.
“So, where was I?”
“You said something rain?”
“Yes! That’s her name. Rain. Weird, right? She and I are not getting any younger, and I doubt that we would find soulmates at this point. I’m not averse to us having a marriage of convenience and doing whatever we want with other people, as long as we’re discreet.”
“I’m glad you do. But Rain doesn’t get it. She’s being difficult.”
“Exactly. She’s waiting for one knight in shining armor to sweep her away.”
“At her old age.”
“Exactly! She’s thirty-six.”
“Her biological clock is winding very fast.”
“You know!” He laughed and whirled his fingers. “Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!”
Nadia laughed out loud.
“Very silly thing.” He downed some of his drink. “I’m Yuri, by the way.”
“Do people call you Abby?”
“Can I call you Demi? Like Demi Moore?”
“So, do you want to go for a party tonight?”
“My friend met this lovely and very popular Nollywood actress whose birthday is tomorrow. He wants to throw her a pre-birthday party. I came here to get a bottle of something vintage for the incident.”
Nadia laughed at the fact that he said incident. He didn’t know why she was laughing and he laughed too, but he stopped and asked, “Why are we laughing?”
“Nothing. But yeah, I’m coming. What’s the address?”
“I’ll send it to you if you give me your number.”
She typed in her number into his phone and he gave her a hug when she was leaving. The moment she got home, she invited her siblings for the party. She hadn’t intended to, but when she walked in on three of them seated miserably in Xavier’s room, recalling how the family meeting had gone, she thought to give them a great night.
“She just doesn’t rate us,” Xavier muttered. “This was why I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”
“It’s beyond coming here, X,” Nadia stated. “As you said, she doesn’t rate us. She never did.”
“I really wanted to believe that she had changed, and everything she did in the past was not her fault, but…” Lanumi seemed the worst hit by their mom’s betrayal. Nadia hugged her as tears spilled from her cheeks.
“What did we ever do to her?”
“Nothing,” Nehi answered. “We’re not just Rain.”
“Rain seems like a nice person, though.”
“Lanumi, please!” Nadia rolled her eyes.
“Isn’t it weird that she’s our sister and she’s fucking our cousin, who was apparently believed to be our brother at some point?” Xavier asked. “I mean, that’s incest, right?”
Nobody responded, and Nadia said, “Who wants to go for a party?”
Nehi raised his hand. The matter was settled.
They showed up at the party two hours later. The venue was a house that lined a beachfront amongst a collection of similar houses. Nadia was shocked to discover it was Jaya’s party, but seeing Rain there didn’t surprise her. Earlier, she had spent most of her time at the lounge, stalking Rain online. Jaya was in many of her photos on Instagram.
But she didn’t care that Rain was at the party. She made herself comfortable, and whilst her siblings mixed with the crowd, she sought a quiet corner and sat, sipping on a cocktail. Yuri soon came by, after trying successfully to get Rain’s attention.
“That’s my supposed wife-to-be,” he said, pointing a wine glass in Rain’s direction. “Isn’t she lovely for a dark skin girl?”
Nadia was irritated by his question, but she wasn’t going to correct him. He could refer to Rain in any manner he wanted, and she would be fine with it.
“You’re gorgeous too. Petite but fine as fuck.”
Nadia was silent.
“You won’t say ‘thank you’?”
“No. You only stated the obvious.”
“Are you always snubbish?”
They talked some more—with Yuri doing most of the talking. Nadia liked it because Rain kept staring in the direction, but she noticed that she kept her eyes on the door more, as if expecting someone. Nadia didn’t need to be told that the someone was Tari.
“Let’s dance,” she said, suddenly jumping to her feet.
She grabbed Yuri’s hand, her body already moving to the beat of Oxlade’s Ku Lo Sa. Yuri turned out to be a terrible dancer, but she kept him in check, making sure to pin her body to his in a manner of dirty dancing. She did this for the next five songs before dragging him out to get some air. By the time they stepped outside, he could barely keep his hands off her body.
“You want to go to my hotel?” he asked, tipsy and horny.
They hitched a ride to the hotel and went up to his suite where they had drunken sex on a sofa with their clothes on. Then, they moved to his bed and finished off there. Yuri immediately nodded off while Nadia stayed awake, wondering how far she was going to let this thing with him go. Halfway into her thoughts, she fell asleep, waking up to Lanumi’s calls.
She was thinking about Yuri now and what this arranged marriage thing was all about. What was Rain going to receive as a reward for marrying the guy? Was it something that could be passed on to her if she took her place as Yuri’s mate?
Nadia’s cab slowed outside Kofo’s mansion. She mumbled off a code to the security guys and was let through. As the car drove toward the main entrance, Nadia was once again captured by the scenery. She was yet to process how rich her mother was and what it meant to her. She felt like an outsider to the woman’s wealth, as if she would soon be asked to step away from it and return to reality.
The car stopped outside the entrance door and Nadia stepped down. She spotted Kofo and the Habib person walking toward her. Kofo smiled and waved, and she waved back without a smile.
“Wait!” Kofo yelled.
Nadia waited for her to walk up to her.
“Still returning to Lagos?”
“No, Mom. I’ve decided to spend Christmas with my siblings and to celebrate your sixtieth with you.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Kofo lightly touched her arm. “Maybe we should talk about going on a vacation, just you and I. We need to get to know each other, Nadia.”
Nadia couldn’t picture that happening. She’d swallow a spiky frog first.
“Are we still having that family dinner with Rain?”
“No. We’re not doing anything Christmasssy too, unless you children ask. All celebrations would be for my birthday on the 27th. Hopefully, we all behave ourselves then.”
“I have to go and sleep. I had a long night.”
“Merry Christmas, darling.”
Rain was dragged out of bed by her dinging doorbell. With eyes still plagued by sleep, she walked to the door and opened it. Yuri bustled in.
“We need to talk about us,” he said.
“This early? Dude, it’s 7am. Weren’t you at that party with us some hours ago?”
Yuri did not respond. He sat on a sofa.
“You have lipstick on your t-shirt,” Rain mentioned.
He looked at the lipstick stain. “Some chick hugged me at the party.”
“Mm-hm. The one you wanted to swallow all night.”
“Rain, it was nothing.”
“So, why are you here?”
“Do you have coffee? My head is banging a little and I feel nauseous.”
Rain pointed at the kitchenette. Yuri dashed there and Rain went into her bedroom to wash her face. When she returned, she found him seated in the living room, drinking a coffee.
“So, yesterday, you wouldn’t even consider this marriage thing. You were quite rude about it too.”
“That’s because you popped into my life after twenty-two years and started talking about marriage because you want to please our mothers. You didn’t even ask me what I’ve been up to all these years. I don’t know anything about you.”
Yuri kept his coffee on the table before him. “Ask me anything.”
“That’s not how it works. But tell me how things have been with you.”
And he filled her in on the years of his life. She wasn’t willing to return the energy, but she told him a few things about herself, which were enough for him.
“I’m thinking that since we’re both not averse to getting hitched, we should work toward it. Here’s how I see it…”
He laid down a marriage plan, going off tangent a few times, but returning to the subject. Rain stayed quiet as her mind left him, prompted by a random memory from the day before. She remembered the gelato she had in the afternoon, and she wanted more of it. Of course, she was listening to Yuri’s words, but she had severed her interest the moment he mentioned that his family’s company had just gotten into a long-term contract with Hara Telecoms, and he would be working with her in the IT department. Kofo and Nwanneka were doing the most right now.
“You didn’t hear anything I just said, did you?”
“Too long, didn’t listen.”
“Summary: You just turned thirty-six, and I’ll be thirty-seven in a couple of months. I’m saying that we should consider getting married. It would please our mothers and—”
“I’m not into pleasing mothers, Yuri.”
“You should try.”
“Hmm…” was all Rain could say.
His phone rang and he fished it from his pocket. “My mom. Let me take this.”
He walked to the dining area and Rain’s eyes followed him. Twenty-two years ago, he was lanky, weird, awkward, more African than Caucasian, geeky, and a few inches shorter than she was. He was taller now and looked completely African, showing no trace of his Russian heritage. He could pass for a light skin Nigerian man. Nothing about him was geeky or lanky anymore, but he was still weird. In fact, he acted like someone who couldn’t hold a thought for more than two minutes. He showed tiny bursts of energy that made him do things on a whim.
Yet he looked attractive enough for Rain to admire. So, she let her mind wander again.
She pictured her and Yuri as a couple—making out, making love, walking down the aisle, living in their own house, co-parenting their kids, attending functions together, and growing old with each other. She didn’t cringe when she remembered him kissing her, but the thought of it didn’t tickle her tummy the way memories of Tari’s kisses did to her.
“She’s saying hi,” Yuri said of his mom, done with his call. Rain smiled. “So, important question: Do you want to do this?”
Rain didn’t know what good thing Yuri was talking about, but she decided she was done with him. She stared in his direction as he stopped speaking and found him scanning her suite, as if he had just walked into it. He was a strange one.
“Yeah, yeah… I was thinking. Can I just…? Can I…kiss you?”
“Go ahead, Yuri.”
He went to her. Holding on to the armrests, he tasted her lips for the first time. The kiss was soft, lingering, and coffee-flavored; however, Rain felt nothing. Yuri moved away, but he remained standing. His hands were in the pockets of his shorts. He was wearing beach shorts that reminded Rain of the many tourists she had come across in the hotel. “Ah!” he pointed, “you have a baby Christmas tree!”
Rain followed his pointed finger and spotted a tree in the corner of the room.
“That was what that was? And I’ve been staring at it, using it to think while you were rambling.”
His phone rang again.
As he walked off, Rain started thinking about the gelato again. What if she had Tari over and she gave him a blowjob, licking the gelato off his dick? Why had she been so insanely horny since she saw him last night?
He had not shown up for the party, as promised. She had been disappointed, but the night was all about Jaya and she made the best out of it. Some of the men there got her attention, but not enough for her to consider seeing them again. She was beginning to hate how much Tari was occupying her mind and filling her head with nasty thoughts.
“I think we should.” Yuri returned.
“Bro, are you glitching? I said no.”
“I know, I heard you and I’m sorry. To be brutally honest here…” His finger was on his lips, as if in thought. “That kiss didn’t do shit to me.”
“Same. Now, can you leave?”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” He walked to her and took her hands as she watched him in confusion. “I can grow, loving you, you know? I can fall in love with your lips in time. We can do this, Rain.” He kissed her hands, one after the other. “Or… Or we could get married, just for whatever and sleep with whomever we want. Like me… I even had sex with this chick last night, if that’s okay with you.”
Rain’s eyes widened in amusement. The only person he was with was Nadia. She knew when they left the party.
“Wild,” she murmured and remembered his kiss. “Wait… Did you go down on her?”
“No. Eww! I don’t do oral sex. I’d die from a thousand arrows first.”
“Let go of my hands, oyibo.”
He dropped her hands. “Looks like you feel strongly about this marriage thing right now. Would it be okay if we just hung out as friends and enjoyed this holiday?”
Rain didn’t respond.
“Great! Then, when we get back to Lagos, we can talk about our future.”
Rain was still dumbfounded when he left, but she got interrupted by a call from Kofo.
“Sweetheart, I hope I didn’t wake you up?”
“No. Good morning.”
“Morning. Please, can you come over, let’s talk? I don’t like how last night went down.”
“I should come now?”
“Yes. That’s why I’m calling early. I have a lot to do today, preparing for Christmas and all.”
“Okay. Give me a few minutes.”
“The chauffeur is waiting downstairs. See you!”
Kofo hung up. Rain was not in a hurry. She took a shower, and when she came out, she found Jaya asleep on the bed, exhausted and probably plastered from last night. She also discovered that she had missed a call from Tari. She returned the call.
“Hey… Look, I’m so sorry for not showing up yesterday,” he said in a rasping morning voice. “Joko had a bad case of food poisoning and we ended up in the hospital.”
“Aww, that’s scary.”
“How is he now?”
“A lot better. We just got back a couple of hours ago and I had to nap. Can I come over, so we can talk? Or could we see later?”
Today was Jaya’s birthday, and from past experiences, Rain had learned not to make the day about anyone else.
“I’ll come to see you instead, but I’ll let you know when.”
Rain hung up and wore her clothes. Soon, she was on her way to Kofo’s.
For the first time since discovering he was Sunny’s son, Tari saw similarities in their looks. They had the same brow arch and dentition. Their hands were alike as well, down to the shape of their fingernails. But he didn’t think he could ever be the son Sunny had longed for. Unless either of changed to become like the other, they were going to remain strangers that shared the same DNA.
“So, what is your plan for Rain Kareem now that you know that the forces against you two are out to make sure you remain separated? Are you going to let them win?”
Tari kept his eyes on his meal, which hadn’t tasted good since he began eating. It had nothing to do with the food but with his mood. He was still mad at Sunny for ambushing him at the family meeting in Kofo’s house. He almost hadn’t shown up here for breakfast. The man annoyed him a great deal.
“I have no plan for Rain.”
Sunny drank some water. “I know you still want her. There’s no use pretending. By the way, how was the sex?”
“The sex? How was it? Great? Average? Poor? Do you see yourself with other women because she’s awful in bed? Or does she do it for you?”
“How are we having this discussion?”
“Because as someone who is older and has been there, I need to lay some advice on you about sidechicks and other women outside your relationship. But first, I need to know where you and her stand sexually.”
“I don’t want to talk about it. Speaking of which, are you sleeping with Rita Anyaoku?”
Sunny paused, hand hanging over his dish. He looked Tari in the eyes with intent. “My sex life is none of your business, Son.”
“It is, if you knew I was sleeping with her and you still got into her pants.”
Sunny went back to his meal. “I had no idea. Rita was playing both of us, I guess.”
“I don’t believe you.”
Sunny smirked. “I don’t care what you believe, Atari. Don’t ever get into my private business again.”
“But you’re all up in mine, telling me whom I should fuck.”
“No, I’m telling you to be strategic with your dick. Two different things. Women like Rita are distractions. They are liabilities too. First lesson in jumping into bed with nobodies: Never let them use you to get to the top. That was what Rita did. You went out of your way to get her on that affiliate list.”
“But I rejected her application and you wrung my arm into approving it.”
“Because she is dangerous, and I didn’t want her taking your shit to the public, which was what she was threatening to do.”
“Are you talking about her exposing that she slept with you as well?”
“Rita is trouble, and I have handled that trouble for you. Next time, don’t let some lowlife bitch out there use you.”
“Is that how you saw my mom? A lowlife bitch who wanted to use—?”
“Don’t you ever call your mother that name again!” Sunny yelled.
“If you’re triggered by what I said, then it’s the truth.”
Sunny dropped his fork. “Son, you need to learn some respect.”
Tari tried to say something but his phone rang. Bara was calling.
“Excuse me.” He left the table and walked a few feet away to take Bara’s call.
“Are you on Twitter?” Bara asked.
“No. What’s happening?”
“Go there. Your babe is trending.”
Bara hung up and Tari visited Twitter. He checked the trends table and saw Kofo trending. When he read the tweets under her name, his body went cold. He marched back to the table.
“What have you done?” he asked Sunny.
“Be more specific?”
“Kofo, Habib, and Rain?”
“I have no idea what you mean.”
Habib passed Sunny his phone. Sunny kept the device at a distance to allow his eyes read better what he saw on the screen.
“Hmm… Interesting. It says here that Kofo cheated on her husband with a younger man, got pregnant for said man and abandoned her legitimate children.” Sunny looked at Tari. “Where’s the lie?”
“You did this?”
“It also said that Rain was at some point, sleeping with a married man, taking after her mother’s footsteps. Well, I don’t know about that.”
“Say you’re not behind this.”
“I am not.”
“Then, how did the gist get out?”
“I have no idea, Son.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“I don’t care.”
Sunny’s doorbell rang.
“I’m out of here.” Tari grabbed his phone and walked to the door.
While waiting for Kofo in her private sitting room, Rain discovered she was the top gossip online. She had barely gotten the details when Kofo burst into the room.
“I’ll kill Sunny!” she blurted.
“Why would you want to do that?” Rain asked calmly, eyes still on her phone.
“Have you been online this morning?”
She gave a shrug.
“Sunny is wicked, Rain. That man is pure evil.”
“Is that why you called me here, to talk about him?”
Kofo looked at Rain, perplexed. “You’re not in the least bit bothered about what’s happening online?”
“I can’t do anything about it, Mom, and I don’t think you should stress over it either.”
Kofo appeared as if she might give a retort, but she huffed and sat on a sofa. In front of the sofa was a coffee table on which a tea tray was laid.
“Tea? Coffee?” she asked, picking up a hot water flask.
The sitting room was cozy and simple, with minimal décor and none of the ostentatiousness that marked the rest of the house. Buy Kofo, in her usual style, complemented its simplicity with a black and gold Versace Barroco bathrobe and matching Medusa slippers.
“So, about last night,” she said, “I am so sorry about the way things turned out. I lost my cool, and I apologize.”
“It was supposed to be a simple family meeting, with me introducing you to your siblings. But Sunny showed up with his son from nowhere.”
“Mom, you can call his name. It’s Atari.”
“Rain…” Kofo added some honey into her tea. “Atari is not the man for you.”
“Not this again. Please, don’t…”
“I want to show you something.” She picked a tab from the sofa and unlocked it. She thrust it out to Rain, who looked at it and at her.
“Just swipe left.”
Rain took the tab. The first thing she saw was a photo of Tari and Didi coming out of a mall with Ariella. Tari and Didi were smiling at each other.
“That’s his ex and her daughter,” Kofo said.
“You’re comfortable with that type of friendship? She basically lives with him, even though he let her stay in his former apartment for free. She cooks for him and he pays for that little girl’s school fees. You still think they’re just friends?”
“Well, when we were together…”
“For just three weeks.”
“When we were together, there was nothing between them.”
“And the moment you broke up, she was back in his life. She’s not the only one, Rain. Atari was pretty busy in your absence.”
Rain swiped the screen to a photo of Tari and some woman kissing outside a club.
Another of him with a different woman kissing in a car.
Rain flipped past shots of Tari with other women. Some of them were blurry or pixelated, but the message was clear.
“Why would you do this?” she asked Kofo, swallowing a lump in her throat.
“Because you’re my daughter, and it is important that I monitor the people swarming around you. That boy doesn’t care a bit for you. The moment you were out of sight, you were out of mind.”
“You didn’t have to do this.”
“Rain, he is Sunny’s son, and they have a great relationship. The same Sunny that has attached himself to my life and wealth like a parasite. What do you think his son is doing in your life?”
“We’ve had this conversation before. Tari is not his father—”
“Stop being naïve! The Olumeses are playing the long game here, and you’re being deceived by thinking there are feelings involved. A man who loves you would not easily jump on other women in your absence. Look at your father. See how long he waited for me.”
“He didn’t wait. He moved on.”
“But he didn’t get married or get into a relationship. It was all about me. Don’t you want that for yourself, after all you’ve been through? A man that’s totally devoted to you?”
“Mom, I understand your concern for me—”
“It’s beyond concern, Rain. I love you, for one, and I don’t want you to get hurt. Secondly, you’re my legacy, Hara’s legacy. You’re not just anybody. You’re a Kareem and Adoberin. Those are powerful names. You can’t afford to mar them by getting involved with nonentities. Do you want to end up in a sad marriage like I did?”
“Please, stop. Tari is not your late husband. He’s not his father. He has done nothing to show that he’s out to hurt or exploit me. He’s not a gold digger—”
Rain covered her face and grunted in frustration. Kofo was impossible.
“As I was saying, I understand your concern, and I appreciate it, but you didn’t have to cross the line to invade his privacy.”
“I don’t play with kids’ gloves when it comes to anything Sunny. If I have to plant spies in their lives, I’d do so.”
“Have you?” Rain searched her mother’s face. Kofo matched her stare. “Apart from having someone following hm around to take photos, what else have you done?”
“I might have paid a few people to give me sensitive information, yes?”
“Nothing that should bother you.”
“But you said it’s about me.”
“What else have you done, Aunty Kofo?”
There was silence.
“Did you tap Tari’s phone, listen to his calls?”
“When you say ‘tap’, you make it sound like I’m heading the government’s security department, but I own the telecom company that manages his line. I have access to every client’s phone activity. In fact, Hara sells data collated from our clients to other brands. It’s there in the tiny T’s and C’s people don’t read when they register with us.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about,” Rain said in an angry tone. “You know you’re not supposed to invade his privacy, Mom. You know this! How far do you want to go? Next thing, he goes missing?”
“Why would you think I’m capable of doing that?”
“Did I know you were capable of doing this?” Rain flung the tab on the sofa as she stood.
“Rain, sit. Let’s talk this out.”
“I don’t want to talk anything out. The truth is that I don’t even know you. You were my aunt, just the other day. Now, you’re my biological mom who is a cliché, typical, overbearing wealthy mother who would manipulate her children’s lives for her own selfish reasons while saying words like legacy and family name and all that nonsense! Where is the Kofoworola Aboderin I admired from afar whose life inspired me?”
Habib walked in from Kofo’s bedroom, staring at them curiously.
“You’re nothing special, just a recognizable element in a story. Look, with all due respect, you have trauma from your past. Whatever that man did to you, whatever Uncle Sunny did, it’s still strong inside of you. I’m sorry you went through hell, but don’t drag me and Tari into it. In fact, end what you’re doing to him now! You’ve gone too far!”
“I’m only protecting you.”
“Don’t. And I…” She looked at Habib apologetically. “I don’t want Hara, I don’t care to own the shares you and Dad gave me—”
“Rain?” Habib called.
“And fuck this vacation. I’m done with it.”
“What’s going on here?” he asked.
Rain turned toward the door. “Ask your baby mama.”
She marched out and hurried down the hallway to the staircase. Lanumi and Xavier were at the foot of the stairs. She slowed when she approached them.
“Hi,” she greeted. Lanumi smiled back, Xavier did not. “Look… I’m not the enemy, guys. You don’t see it now, but you will soon. I don’t want anything that woman has. You can take all of it. The company, the shares, everything.”
She fled outside before her tears embarrassed her.
Walking in circles in her bedroom, Nadia had a smile on her face. She had just eavesdropped on the exchange between Rain and Kofo. She didn’t know what to do with the information, but it was worth something. She could tell Sunny, but of what good would it be? Sunny seemed to want Rain to be with Tari. The better option would be to tell Tari himself.
Where would she find him, though?
She dialed Sunny’s number.
“Hey, Uncle Sunny.”
“Hi Nadiakhe. What’s up?”
“I need to speak with Tari.”
“Well…we started out on a wrong foot. I’ve had time to go back on my actions and I think I could have done better yesterday.”
Sunny was silent for a few seconds. Nadia knew he was going through her words in his head, checking to know her angle.
“You’re beginning to reason like the Nadia I know. Tari is not your enemy. The earlier you and your siblings realize this, the better.”
“So, can I have his number? I’m thinking he and I can have lunch or something.”
“Not a bad idea.”
“I’ll send it to you.”
“Thank you, Uncle Sunny.”
The line went off and Nadia’s smile spread wider. Sunny’s message dropped in. Nadia saved Tari’s number and called him.
“Hi, Tari,” she greeted in a light tone as he answered.
“Your cousin or your sister, depending on DNA.”
“What do you want?”
“So, I was thinking that we could meet briefly. I have something very important you should know.”
“You can tell me over the phone.”
She chuckled. “When I tell you, you’d understand why I can’t say it over the phone.”
“Okay. But I’m a bit swamped now.”
“Can I come to your hotel? We’ll meet at the bar and I deliver the message and disappear. It’s sort of urgent.”
“Fine. If you can be here in ten minutes—”
Tari hung up. Nadia picked her purse and dashed out.
©Sally Kenneth Dadzie @moskedapages