CHAPTER SIX – Ex-Men
Rain please, let’s talk. Please!!!
Rain pretended that Noah’s message from a strange number had come to her in Spanish and she didn’t understand a word it meant. She had refused to take his calls from the line and from their friends, who wanted dirt on their breakup. She was somewhere, planning a surprise birthday party for Mide.
Rain wanted the party to be loud because Mide hadn’t celebrated her birthday in four years. Motherhood and an annoying partner had sapped the life out of her. With the help of Jaya, Rain had gotten the perfect venue for the party. It was an unoccupied house, and she was there with the party planner. Mide’s baby daddy was also with her. But working with him wasn’t a smooth process because she had grand ideas while he wanted things lowkey. He maintained that Mide had a simple taste and didn’t fancy the flashy life.
In response to this, Rain said, “Kevin, don’t worry. You’re not paying a dime.”
“You insult me, Rain. It’s not about the money.”
“Well, what if I told you that this house is my birthday present to her?”
Kevin did a full swivel, as if seeing the four-bedroom duplex they were in for the first time. It was already furnished to what Jaya had considered Mide’s taste. She had also been thoughtful to make the house child-friendly. It was a huge step-up from the two-bedroom apartment Mide and Kevin presently occupied. It didn’t come cheap, but Jaya had ensured that Rain’s money was well spent.
“You rented the house for her?” Kevin asked, after his eyes had gone round and back.
“I bought it.”
“Thanks, but it’s not happening,” Kevin responded. “We’re not taking it.”
“Why not? You don’t like the house? I’m into real estate here in Lagos. We can put this back in the market and buy another one, although I think it would be too stressful to get my money back.”
“Why are you doing this? Don’t you have a job to go back to in Dubai?”
Rain stared at her watch. “Actually, I have to catch a flight back this evening. But to answer your first question, Mide is my friend, and she’s been struggling. I’ve asked her many times to come and work for the company I work for in Dubai, but she likes you too much to leave you.”
“We have kids.”
“My company will pay her enough to put the kids in school. They will give her a comfortable accommodation. She knows this, but she won’t do anything without your consent.”
“It’s called a relationship, Rain. Something you have no experience in.”
“Hey, I had a man for two years until he went and fucked his sister.”
Kevin laughed. “You call that a relationship? You were hardly here. Noah suffered from abandonment. No wonder he was fucking Naomi.”
Kevin’s words stung Rain, but she smiled. “Anyways, I got this because I thought that if she wants to sink with this ship—ship here, meaning Nigeria, not you—she can as well do it in a swanky house.”
Kevin was miffed. Tall and beefy, he moved closer to Rain and dwarfed her.
“We don’t need your money,” he said.
“But you do. You guys are broke.”
“We are not broke.”
“But she’ll love this house. I know my friend—”
“Rain!” Kevin stopped her. “As much as I appreciate everything you’ve been doing for Mide, I think you should stop. All you’re going to end up doing is separating us from each other so that she can be as miserable as you.”
“Seriously, I’m tired of you and Jaya showing up every now and then and throwing money in our faces, as if we’re poor. We’re doing fine on our own.”
“You’re not. Nigeria is draining you. You and Mide are suffering—”
“Stop!” Kevin curled his fists and uncurled them. “The party is canceled.”
“Mide and I will celebrate lowkey…alone. We won’t be in town. I’ll make sure of that.”
Turning around without saying goodbye, Kevin left the house. Disappointed, Rain sat on a couch and kicked out of her heels.
“What’s the way forward?” the party planner asked.
“Oh, we’re not canceling. If I must kidnap my friend to make sure that happens, I’ll do so. In the meantime, continue with the planning.”
A couple of hours later, she was in Mide’s house with Jaya. They sat with her and told her about the party and the house. But Rain didn’t tell her about her exchange with Kevin. Painting Kevin in a bad light had no effect on Mide.
“I can’t believe you bought an entire house for me,” Mide said, having just come out of a round of grateful tears.
“One of the houses I’m selling, actually.”
Mide blew her nose into her baby’s napkin. “Thank you so much.”
She hugged both women.
“But you know I have to ask Kevin first if I can take it right?”
Jaya shot to her feet. “Okay, I’m done!” She addressed Rain, “I told you she’d do this.”
“Jayamma, he’s my fiancé.”
“For how many years, Mide? You call that faded keyholder on your finger an engagement ring? He has given you two children but he can’t afford to take care of them. Your baby is wearing used clothes, Mide. Used clothes, passed down from her sister and church people! A brand new baby! Is that life?”
“Not everybody is rich like you and Rain, madam. Calm down.”
“Rain, I’m done, abeg. If she doesn’t want the house, give it to me. I’ll furnish it to my taste.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“I’m out of here.”
Jaya began for the door. Rain watched as her perfectly-shaped butt shook to the movement of her legs. Rain had never thought that Jaya needed to work on her body, but she looked amazing this way.
“I hope you’re not angry with me?” Mide asked Rain.
“Angry? No, no. I’m not.”
“Rain, for once in your life, just tell the truth about your emotions. Be like Jaya and express yourself.”
“I said I’m not angry about today. But I’m disappointed that you told Kevin about Noah and Naomi.”
“Aww, Rain… It’s not like that. He was there when I was watching the video after you sent it.”
“I really don’t want it going out, that was why I sent it just to you and Jaya.”
“It’s fine. The only thing that would take away my disappointment is if your party goes on, with or without me.”
Mide simply smiled.
“Okay.” Rain smiled back. “Look, I have to go. You’ll be fine?”
Mide nodded. Rain slipped her hand into her purse and pulled out an envelope. It contained a bundle of dirhams. She handed it to Mide who peeped into the envelope and shook her head.
“Rain, no. Why are you doing this?”
“You’ve been out of a job for years, relying on a man. That’s not life, Mide. Rely on me, instead, until you find something to do.”
Mide’s eyes filled with tears. Rain hugged her and left the house. She asked her Uber driver to take her to the airport.
Tari was having a lazy Sunday with Ariella while Didi made lunch. But his mind couldn’t forget Rain and the way they parted earlier. He feared that he had messed up his chances of seeing her again.
“I want to keep doing this with you,” he told her this morning. He found her eyes even more beautiful than he did yesterday. They were still delicate, and in the dimness of his bedroom that fought against the morning light, they looked dreamier than they were the day before.
“You want to do this again?” she asked.
They were on his bed, facing each other.
“But I’ll be gone today.”
“Dubai. I live and work there.”
“I’ll come to Dubai then.”
Rain smiled. “No.”
“Because I just got out of a relationship and I’m not looking to get into another one.”
“I’m not asking to be your boyfriend—”
“Just friends with benefits? No, thank you.”
Rain sat up, but Tari dragged her down, making her giggle. He had her underneath him and began to kiss her, but they were interrupted by a tap on the door. A bark followed and Rain jumped.
“Just my dog.”
There was another tap and several more before Ariella’s distraught voice from the hallway called out for her mom.
Rain sat up again. “You have a child?”
Tari jumped to his feet, picking up his boxers. “Um…no. She’s em… It’s complicated.”
Rain covered her chest with the bedspread as he opened the door and found Ariella and Oscar outside the door.
“Mommy!” Ariella burst into tears, pointing in the direction of Didi’s bedroom.
“Come here, baby girl.” Tari lifted her off the floor and cradled her. “And…your diaper is soaked, but that’s okay. Let’s go and find your mommy.”
He gave Rain an apologetic smile as he reached for his phone.
“I’ll be right back.”
“I have to go.”
“Please, just ten minutes. Ten. I’ll take you home.”
He hurried off to Didi’s bedroom. It was empty and so was the bathroom. He figured that she had stepped out to buy something. As he took off Ariella’s clothes, he dialed her number. The operator told him that it was switched off.
He hurriedly washed Ariella and dressed her up in clean clothes.
When he stepped out to the hallway, he was grateful to see Rain waiting for him.
“I called an Uber and it’s here already,” she said.
“Please, let me take you home.”
“Can I have your number, at least?”
“Tari…” She looked at Ariella. “I don’t think we should do this again, amazing as it was. Take care.”
He could do nothing but stare as she walked away. Now, he wished he had insisted on getting her number.
“Ari?” He looked at Ariella as she reached for his phone. “You cockblocked me this morning, you know that?”
He snatched the phone from her, recalling that he had an urgent email to send. As he clicked on his email app, a tweet from a popular news handle showed up in his notification tray. It was breaking news about an Olumese.
Tari abandoned the email and opened the tweet.
Ituah Lucky Olumese of Rain Textiles passed away in his home in the early hours of this morning after a protracted illness…
Tari felt his hands go weak. He lifted his weight off the living room floor and read the tweet again. He rushed to Google to see if it was fake news but found it to be true.
Tari let out a long breath and rested his head on a throw pillow. Oscar walked in and stared at him curiously, before settling down and laying his head on Tari’s thigh.
“Omo,” he muttered, a hand on Oscar’s head. “I’m an orphan again.”
Rain was trending on Twitter.
It had to do with the video recording of Noah and Naomi. Someone had leaked it on social media and the internet had gone wild over the clip, especially since the blog that posted it revealed that the persons in the video were siblings. Their names were also put on blast.
Noah then went mad on his Twitter account with a thread, explaining his side of the story concerning the sex tape. He blamed his incestuous relationship with his sister on an uncle that abused them sexually as children, causing them to perform carnal acts on each other. He claimed that the devil took over their souls from then on, but they were now on the path of healing via the help of pastors and sex therapists, although his sister had attempted to take her life. In conclusion, he revealed that it was his ex-fiancée who had recorded the video without his consent and shared it online. He didn’t tag Rain, as he claimed that he was protecting her identity because he was still in love with her. However, it had taken tweeps only a short while to find her handle via an old tweet in which he shared a picture of their engagement and tagged her.
From then on, vitriol was unleashed on her. Some took it too far and tagged her office in Dubai, demanding that she be fired from her job. They tagged the Nigerian police too.
By now, Rain was back in Dubai. When she arrived, she had no idea that the sex tape had gone viral online or that Noah was trying to douse the fire with more fuel. She was away from her phone while spending time with her other ex, Nzamo, who showed up at her apartment unexpectedly.
He invited her for dinner at her favorite Thai restaurant, and although she wanted to decline his request, she sought to have closure from him. Five years ago, he walked out of her life without any explanation, after she suffered a miscarriage. Rain needed answers, even though she had known that he had rekindled his relationship with his estranged wife before they lost their baby.
“I didn’t mean to break your heart, Rain. Heck, I still love you,” he explained during dinner.
“Rain, stop doing that. Grow out of your passive-aggressiveness.”
“And become the bigger person that throws a fit to show I’m angry or heartbroken?” She laughed. “Nzamo, you were dead to me a long time ago. In fact, I did tell the few people that knew about us that you were dead.”
“Rain…” He gave her a tender look, laden with regret.
He was an incredibly distracting man. Although fifty-four and already gray-haired, he was sexy. But it wasn’t his sexiness that had attracted Rain when they met at the Tambo International Airport six years ago. It was his age. He was with his sons and she was drawn to his fatherliness. She stared at him shamelessly as she waited for her flight to Lagos. He was heading to London with his boys, and when it was time for them to board, he walked over to her and gave her a complimentary card.
“Instead of staring, talk to me,” he said and left the lounge.
Rain called him days later and they spoke for hours. He was married but separated from his wife who lived in South Africa with their daughter while he stayed in the UK with the boys. He was an engineer, working with a European company that was responsible for some of the massive structures in Africa. He sometimes visited Nigeria to work, and he hoped to come across Rain during one of his visits. But until then, he wondered if she would like to come over to London to see him.
“I don’t have a visa,” Rain lied.
“We’ll get you one. Just say yes.”
Rain confessed that she was turned off by the fact that he was married.
“My wife is almost out the door. She walked out on us, and I’m afraid that we can’t save what we lost.”
Nzamo convinced Rain to come over and she took a flight to London. Nzamo was waiting at the airport that cold morning. And when she tugged her little pink suitcase toward him, he smiled at her as if she were all he needed to make him happy. He also kissed her as she stood in front of him, unsure of what to do.
He took her to his house, which was impressive in its architecture. He and his housekeeper lived there alone. His sons were in a boarding school somewhere in Bristol.
“I’ve lived like a bachelor for years now,” he said, taking her suitcase to the guestroom. “My boys are supposed to be here with me during school term, but they are stuck in a boarding school, which their mother picked. Then, during the holidays, they spend the time with her. I don’t have a hand in these things.”
The moment they entered the guestroom, Nzamo let Rain know his intentions. He wanted her sexually. He was honest about not being emotionally connected to her yet.
“It’s just sex. Maybe a sugar daddy thing, I don’t know,” he said, looking hungrily into her eyes. “But I so want to fuck you, Rain. Right now.”
She granted his wish, even without a condom. She was aware of her foolishness, but she did nothing to stop herself. What was supposed to be just sex turned out to be more. They soon got entangled in an emotional relationship. He told his estranged wife and family about Rain after four months of being together. His wife was indifferent, as they were still in the process of divorce. Things would have gone faster, but she was fighting for certain assets that Nzamo had refused to hand over to her. All the same, he kept on with Rain, begging her to bear a child for him and to marry him. She said yes to both but refused to wear his ring until he was through with his wife.
Unfortunately, he lost his daughter in a car crash and it put a hold on their relationship, as mutual grief drew him to his wife. Rain was forced to bear with his partial presence in her life for months. She eventually got pregnant, but that was after she discovered that he had been having sex with his wife during their grieving period. Soon after the heartbreaking discovery, Rain suffered a miscarriage. Nzamo was there with her for a month, but one evening, he disappeared from her life with no reason offered.
In the past five years, he had had two more daughters with his wife—an act that Rain considered a slap on her face. He had been aware of her desire to have the kind of life and family that she had grown without. She considered Nzamo an unfeeling man, even though he was back now, telling her that his heart still beat for her.
After dinner, he followed her home and she poured them both some rum and coke. They stood in the kitchen, sipping in silence.
“How’s your fiancé?” Nzamo asked. He followed her on social media, and she was certain that he was keeping up with her life.
“I don’t want to talk about that.”
Rain finished her drink and let the glass slip off her hand. It fell to the floor and shattered.
“I think you should leave.” She started toward her bedroom, but Nzamo caught her hand, tugging her body to his.
“I’m so sorry. It wasn’t supposed to end that way. Even my decision to come here is fucked up, I know that, but I am utterly sorry, baby.” He freed her hand and held her face with both hands. “I love you so much. I miss you. I miss us.”
He brought her face to his, resting his forehead on hers.
“Let me go, Holland.”
“Let. Me. Go.”
Nzamo acceded to her wish.
“Get out,” she said, walking off to her bedroom. She switched on her phone and a barrage of messages poured in. Most of them were from friends, and in a matter of seconds, she got wind of what Noah had done. To see the thread for herself, she unblocked him.
After reading what he wrote, she visited her Twitter notifications, which were a mess. Her pictures were everywhere; and not just on Twitter. She was trending on Instagram and Facebook too. It didn’t feel real to her, so she put her phone on silent and went to bed as though nothing was going on.
When morning came, Rain got a cut on her foot from a piece of glass on the kitchen floor. Nzamo stopped by to tell her that his flight was leaving for London, but ended up taking her to see a doctor. He asked if he could stay a few days with her, as she needed support, having just discovered that she was being bullied online.
Nzamo didn’t push it, but he pulled closer and gave her a kiss, to which she didn’t respond. After her visit to the doctor’s, she went home and prepared for work.
There was an email waiting from HR when she got to her office and logged in. Rain knew that things were about to get messy, as the HR manager didn’t hide her dislike for her. It was a racism thing; the woman was subtle about it but every black person in the organization knew.
Rain had a long half-hour meeting with the woman. Afterward, her supervisor called her into his office. He was straight with her, letting her know that leaving her in the job would be a hard sell for him, as the CEO of the company was huge on employees keeping their personal life separate from work.
“We got many mentions on Twitter, messages in our inbox on Facebook and Instagram DM. Emails too.”
“You know I like you as a person and I value your work, but this is out of my hand. HR wants you gone. But it’s all up to the boss now.”
Rain returned to her office, preparing her mind for the worst. The CEO of the company had his own history with cyberhate and online bullying. Rain hoped that he would overlook her actions and empathize with her. She had thought about Kofo’s offer a lot since their last conversation. She was aware of the world of opportunities that working in Hara Telecoms would afford her. But she was not foolish to believe that it would all come to her so easily. She had been in the corporate world long enough to know how dirty the decision makers at the top played.
But Rain put these thoughts out of her mind and spent the rest of the day, reading a book.
The following morning on her way to work, she got the dreaded email from HR. She had been relieved of her job.
Rain sat in her car and read the email several times before deciding to go for some ice-cream at a café that served edible gold sundaes and ice-cream burgers. She ordered the most expensive sundae, which cost a ridiculous sum. She had learned from Dora to throw money over her pain. Spending so much cash on something so little was better therapy than crying it out.
After ice-cream, she went back home and packed her things. Then, she called the realtor that had leased the apartment to her.
“I need a good deal on my furniture,” she said.
The woman assured her that she would get back to her soon.
Five hours later, Rain was on a flight bound for Lagos. She got in late and it took a couple more hours for her to arrive home. Dora was shocked to see her, although she was aware of what Noah had done to her online.
As Rain slipped into a pair of pajamas, she told Dora about her work situation.
“I’m so sorry, watermelon.”
Dora asked Rain if she had any plans.
“I just need some time to figure things out.”
“Okay, darling.” Dora hugged her and went to her bedroom.
Rain was thirsting for a stiff drink and some air to clear her mind. Jaya was perfect for a night-out, but she had neither taken her calls nor responded to her messages and voice notes all day. She didn’t want anybody’s sympathies about what Noah did.
Rain called Mide, instead.
“Rain?” Mide answered.
She could hear the guilt in her voice.
“I told you I didn’t want that video getting out.”
“Kevin didn’t do it.”
“You know he did. I’d like to say Noah leaked it, but what would be his reason? He loves Naomi like mad, he wouldn’t do that to her. The only plausible explanation is Kevin.”
Rain heard Kevin’s voice in the background and Mide hung up. She shook her head. “You’re so pathetic, Mide.”
Next, she dialed Jaya to find out if she was in the mood to talk.
“Talk? Babe, it’s almost midnight and I’m on my way to a party.”
“It’s a Wednesday, Jaya.”
“But how are you?”
“I don’t want to talk about Noah.”
“I know, but what was it you wanted to talk about?”
“We can’t talk about other things, Jayamma?”
Jaya laughed. “Sorry o. We’ll talk tomorrow when my hangover has cleared.”
“Come and pick me up for the party.”
“Are you in town?”
“Yes. I just got in and I seriously need to get out of this house. I need some air.”
“Okay, babe. I’m coming to get you.”
Rain looked for something simple but sassy enough for a party. Her makeup was minimal too. By the time she was done, Jaya was waiting outside the gate. Rain told Dora not to wait up for her as she went downstairs.
Jaya was smoking weed when Rain entered the car.
“Seriously?” Rain asked.
Jaya offered her a smoke but she declined. Jaya put it off and hugged her, rubbing her back. “Everything’s going to be okay.”
On their way to the party, Rain told Jaya about Nzamo’s recent move and how she had finally found closure from the past. While Jaya took the news in, Rain revealed to her that she was Kofo’s daughter.
Jaya stepped on the brakes in the middle of an almost busy street. “What the fuck!” she mouthed soundlessly, causing Rain to laugh, despite her mood.
“Maybe I should drive.”
Jaya didn’t respond at first. Rain clicked on the hazard lights and allowed her a little more time to take the news in.
“The Kofo Aboderin?” Jaya asked eventually.
“Yeah, you should drive, because I’m high as fuck and you’re seriously messing with that high.”
They stepped down and switched places. As Rain drove, she gave Jaya more details of the Kofo situation.
“Wow! Kofoworola Aboderin? You’re her first daughter?”
“Rain, do you realize what this means?”
If it was about the wealth, Rain was unmoved. She had lived above average all her life. Kofo’s money, if she were to have a taste of it, would not change anything about her lifestyle. Maybe more private jet trips, but that was all.
“We have to party to this,” Jaya said.
“Jaya, nobody can know—”
“Okay. But you’re a freaking billionaire heiress!”
They went on like that until they ended up in laughter and Rain said, “Shit, I am.”
“Shit! You are!”
Tari took Oscar along with him to his cousin’s sports lounge where a friend’s birthday hangout was taking place. Being that he was familiar with the lounge, he used a back entrance in. Luckily for him, his close friends had commandeered two large tables for themselves. He made for it and they gave him a hearty welcome that had quite a few heads turning. Oscar also got a special reception as he went around the table of men to accept head rubs and back pats from familiar faces.
Tari hadn’t seen some of his friends in a while. He kept a tight circle, but had a larger one that he only got to see at social outings. They had communicated to him that they understood his situation and absence from their circle since his mother’s passing. They had also respected that he needed solitude, but they kept in touch via phone calls and the infrequent messages in their group chat. A couple of them had even attended his mother’s funeral in Nasarawa state.
“Abashi!” His closest friend, Bara, gave him a hug. Tari shook hands with the other men before pulling out a chair to sit. Bara signaled a server over and asked Tari how work had been.
“The usual. How’s it on your end?”
“Normal. Back-breaking work, but God has been good.”
Joko, the celebrant, broke away from two ladies to whom he was speaking at the bar table and walked over, holding bottles of liquor.
“Atari Abashi!” he hailed.
“My guy!” Tari gave him a fist bump and patted his shoulder. “You said this was just drinks o.”
“Omo! I bow for you! I invited two or more people and the whole island decided to drop in. I no even sabi half of the babes wey dey here.” He laughed. “How you dey nau?”
“I’m good. Where’s Esther?”
“She’s at her mom’s. She’ll be there until she gives birth.”
Tari chided him with a look.
“Abeg no look me like dat. Your babe don show me shege with dis her bele. I wan crase for house.”
“But she’s good though?”
“Yeah. Says she’s missing you.”
“I know. She’s been calling.”
Esther was a good friend of Tari’s. He had been instrumental in matchmaking her and Joko five years ago.
The server came by and Tari ordered a cocktail.
“Wawu!” Jerry said, his eyes directed toward the entrance. “Celebrity don land.”
Tari looked up and saw the object of his cousin’s fascination. Jaya Nelson. One of Nollywood’s hit actors. A lazy one, though—and Tari suspected that she knew she was awful at the job, going by some of her comments in the past about her career. But having a light complexion, the best sculpted body in the industry, and a sharp mouth, she was always at the top of the celebrity table. Her fans had days in which they adored her just because she lived a fabulous life. On other days, they trolled her social media accounts over her unpopular opinions, to remind her that her acting was subpar. Jaya neither cared for the praises nor drags. She lived for the fame, and it served her well, as she was one of the highest paid influencers online.
“Na you invite her?” Bara asked.
“Na my babe dat year o,” Joko said with a proud smile. Tari knew he was lying.
“Damn! The babe set die!”
“See curves abeg!”
Every man was taken by Jaya and her body, and even Tari was temporarily carried away by the sheer otherworldliness of her beauty. But his eyes caught the other woman whose back was to them because she had just turned around and he recognized her face from her side view. She turned fully and he saw that it was Rain.
She was stylish in a one shoulder dress and sandaled heels. Her outfit contrasted with Jaya’s bright red dress.
Tari couldn’t take his eyes off Rain. He recalled her dark, lash-fringed, and lustrous eyes that looked like a gazelle’s. He remembered the taste of her mouth and the sound of her moans. He could still feel how soft she had been at first touch.
Tari turned. A friend was telling him that his phone was beeping on the table. He looked and saw that it was an alarm he had set for work earlier. He turned it off and his eyes strayed back to Rain who was yet to spot him.
“Let me go and say hello,” Joko announced.
“I’ll follow you.” Jerry got off his seat and both men walked away.
The men left at the table got into some gist about a leaked sex tape on Twitter that featured a guy having sex with his twin sister. Tari had seen the video on his timeline yesterday, just before it was deleted; but it was all he knew about the gist. His friends thought the incestuous twins were degenerates, even though they agreed that the sex had been above average. They also talked about the ex-fiancée who leaked the tape without mentioning a name. Some felt that she was unfairly being mobbed online as people called for her job and arrest. But a couple of guys on the table, especially the one called Charles who was already tipsy, thought she deserved the bullying she got.
“See, if it were me, I won’t only have her arrested, I would sue her for everything she’s got!” Charles stated, belching loudly. “People need to start dealing with these women. The guy lost his freaking job, for fuck’s sake! She needs to be ruined! If no be because dem say make we no touch woman, hin for beat her small, then fuck her well to reset her brain.”
Some friends laughed but Bara gave Tari a look to show his disapproval of Charles’ view. They were both tired of him and his openly strong opinions about women. Their friends jokingly called him a meninist, a label which he wore with pride. On social media, he was vocal about his views and had a massive following of men on Twitter, having gained notoriety from being at variance with feminists. His calling was to rescue men from simping and lead them into higher quality versions of masculinity.
“Abi how you see am, Tari?” Charles asked him. “Nothing a good lashing cannot cure, ehn?”
Tari didn’t respond. He had no opinion on the trending topic.
While Charles continued speaking, his eyes went back to Rain. She and Jaya were conversing with Joko and Jerry. Again, Tari was arrested by her looks. He was aware of his thirst, and it irritated him slightly. So, he looked away, and just in time as his cocktail arrived.
He took a sip, nodded in approval, and set his glass down on the table. To the server, he said, “Get me chicken wings. Ask the others if they want anything.”
He had a second sip of his cocktail, and when he let the glass down again, he saw Joko, Jerry, and the women heading toward them. He straightened up as they approached the table.
“Gentlemen!” Joko called, “I want you to meet the fabulous Jaya Nelson, you all know her.”
“I don’t,” Charles stated.
“And this is her friend, the delectable Rain.”
Rain’s eyes looked around the table and settled on Tari’s.
“Tari?” she called. He smiled.
“You know each other?” Joko asked.
“Yeah,” Rain answered.
Tari rose to his feet. He hugged her. “Hey, how have you been?”
“Ladies,” Joko cut in, “Meet Bara, Charles, Mohammed, Emeka, Ovie… And of course, Tari.”
“Pleasure to meet you all,” Jaya greeted. A couple of the guys dropped compliments about her acting prowess, which made her blush.
Jerry invited them to sit, and somehow, Tari found himself sandwiched between both women. Bara was curious about Rain’s name, unsure if he had heard Joko right. So, he leaned toward her and asked her name again.
“Rain,” she replied.
“Like Rainat?” he asked.
“No, just Rain.”
“For real? Your parents named you that?”
“My mom. She said it was raining on the night I was born, so…”
“Interesting,” Bara kept on. “So, what does Rain do?”
“Actually, head of IT at a tech company in Dubai,” Jaya specified. Everyone’s attention was on Rain now. “Don’t let her deceive you with her humility.”
“Women in tech,” Jerry jibed good-naturedly.
“Yeah! And she’s killing it!”
“Jaya, stop,” Rain responded in a blush.
“I’m not lying, though.”
Tari leaned toward Rain. “You didn’t think you’d see me again, did you?”
Jaya’s phone rang and she sprang up. “Guys, this is an important call. Be right back.”
She dashed off. Charles leaned forward on the table, fixing his eyes on Rain. “So, Rain Kareem, why haven’t they fired you yet?”
Rain stared back at him with a plain face. His voice had been loud and discourteous.
“Fired who?” Tari asked.
“Your friend. Isn’t she the one who recorded her fiancé and his sister having sex and put it online?”
The table went quiet. Tari looked at Rain, a little confused.
“That was your fiancé?”
She didn’t respond.
“So, have they fired you?” Charles asked again. “Because it would be stupid if they didn’t. How did you think it was okay to do revenge porn on your man just because you caught him cheating?”
“Charlie, abeg,” Bara pleaded.
“Or because you’re a woman, you think it’s right?”
“Charles,” Tari called. “That’s enough.”
“What is enough, Atari? Dude got fired from his job because of her!”
“And how is that something we’re discussing on my birthday?” Joko responded.
“I’m not the one who brought her here.”
“Exactly. She is my guest, so cut it, abeg.”
“Abeg?” Tari was miffed. “Are you guys going to sit and allow this fool disrespect my friend?”
“Of course, go ahead and simp for her.”
“Charles!” Joko scolded. “Enough!”
“Yeah, stop bro,” Jerry added.
“Nobody here is going to tell her the truth?”
Without warning, Rain grabbed Tari’s cocktail and swirled Charles’ face with it.
“Whoa!” someone exclaimed as Charles sprang up.
“You dey mad?” he raged, reaching over the table toward her. But Tari stood and blocked his oncoming assault. Jerry grabbed him as he began to cuss at Rain.
Embarrassed, Joko apologized to Rain. Tari observed the calm on her face but noticed the fire in her glassy eyes as they focused on Charles, agitating him even further. It was as if she was daring him to do his worst. He bit the bait.
The instant Jerry’s grip on him weakened, he went after Rain a second time. But Tari was faster than he was. He snatched her by the waist and shoved her away from Charles’ reach, having her against a wall and out of harm’s way. Back at the table, his friends scolded Charles.
“Are you okay?” Tari asked Rain as he noticed that she was heaving. He let go of her.
She looked at him and smiled, nodding her head. “Thanks.”
“I’m sorry about his behavior. He’s usually not like this, though he’s your typical piece of work.”
“No, it’s fine. I’m just… I need to get out of here.”
Tari moved away, making room for Jaya who had just stepped in and bore a curious look on her face.
“What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Rain answered.
“Nothing, and that person is being dragged out by security?”
“I’m fine, babe.”
Joko, Jerry, and Bara walked over. They apologized for Charles’ behavior and asked the women to stay for a bit, since Charles was presently being hauled out of the lounge.
“What happened nau?” Jaya asked again.
“I’ll explain to you when we go. Let’s just get out of here.”
“I’m going to W Bar to see this guy that wants me to produce a movie for him—”
“I want to go home, Jaya,” Rain said. Tari noticed her distress, although she hid it well.
“Okay. I’ll drop you at home.”
“No, no. Just go. Tari will take me home.”
Jaya looked at Tari, as if just seeing him for the first time. Rain drew her closer and whispered something in Jaya’ ear.
“Are you sure?” she asked. Rain nodded and she looked at Tari again. “My friend just bounced me because she wants to hang with you, which is unusual for her. And I can’t even remember your name.”
“Let me have your number, just in case.” She handed her phone to Tari and he stored his number, which she dialed once she got the phone back. “Great. If I don’t hear from Rain by morning, I’m calling the police.”
Rain laughed. “Ignore her.”
“Talk to you later, babe.” Jaya hugged Rain and left the lounge.
“Give me a minute.” Tari returned to the table and told his friends he was leaving. He took Rain’s hand and they walked out of the lounge to the parking lot. Once they were inside his car, he asked Rain if she was all right.”
But she did not utter another word on their way to his house, not even when he asked for her address. She handed her phone to him instead, showing him the directions on Google Maps. She spoke to him only when they arrived at the house.
“I hardly stay here. I’m mostly at my mom’s,” she explained. “So, there’s no food. Just water and wine.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“No condoms either.”
“Not a problem.”
Then, she let out a long breath that came with a moan, her eyes cast down.
She smiled at him. He saw that her eyes were wet, but he didn’t mention it.
“Let’s go in.”
She led him to the front door and unlocked it. The living room was dark, but light from a hallway peeked in. Tari shut the door behind them and looked in Rain’s direction. She wasn’t moving or trying to switch on the lights. She stood frozen, head bowed again.
“Rain.” He touched her arm and she shivered, trying to pull away. But he wouldn’t let go. “Don’t hold it in.”
And it was as if he was Moses and he had struck a rock. Rain burst into tears, covering her face. He put his arms around her, pulling her to his chest.
“I’ll be fine,” she blubbered.
“You don’t have to be.” He leaned against the door to let her rest into him more comfortably. “It’s okay if you’re not. Just let it all out.”
So, she did—and Tari didn’t care how long it took.
“Your t-shirt is a mess,” she said when she was through.
“Tari, do you want to go away for a bit?”
“Like, just disappear. Me and you, away from the madness of this world.”
“Run away from our problems?”
“I know a place, as long as that cute girl I saw on Sunday isn’t yours and her mom is not in your life.”
“Just give me a date, Rain, and I’m all yours.”
She put her arms around him. “Thank you.”
“My pleasure, actually.” He rested his chin on her head.
©Sally Kenneth Dadzie @moskedapages