Farhad locked the screen of his iPhone 4S and hissed. It was just so lame that almost a week after the diss account had tried to use him and his ‘friends’ to gain cheap publicity, they were still getting tabled as discussion topics on Twitter. Some idiot had put up a picture of him, linked it to the tweet about him and all around Unilag and now people kept stop and staring. That was probably why Kike was keeping a low profile, and honestly he didn’t blame her. These people were vultures.
He pulled his grey hoodie up and kept his head down as he walked out the Faculty of Arts complex, passing in front of the senate building and down the concrete steps that led down to the back paths. He detoured through the faculty of Engineering when he noticed a posse of girls from his department heading along the path to the lagoon front and stopped just shy of Upper Crust. Kike had told him the artsy alternative ones hung out there, snubbing the Mr. Biggs franchise at the car park.
He could see the appeal of the place, grand transparent windows added to the proximity of Upper Crust to the lagoon front and eccentric seating but food was food and he couldn’t be bothered with where he ate it. He waved as he noticed Tariebi seated at the back table away from the large windows, her long hair pulled into a ponytail that poured onto the back of her jade cashmere sweater that perfectly complemented her dark blue skinny jeans. She looked up and beckoned for him to come in.
She pushed a plate of chicken and chips in front of him as he sat down on the wrought iron chair beside hers and smiled.
“I hope you’re not one of those chauvinist types who won’t let a girl pay for his food?”
Farhad took a drumstick and tore off a chunk of flesh in response.
“So what’s up?”
“Do you know what the Charlatans is?”
Farhad shook his head.
“Well, it’s this cool t-shirt brand by this Nigerian designer. They have a new collection of clothes out and they need 3 female models and one male model for an editorial campaign. I showed them a picture of you and they want you to model for them.”
Farhad’s eyes widened. “Wallahi, I didn’t see that coming. Why would they want me?”
Tariebi sighed and uncrossed her legs so they slightly touched his.
“Well, you have exotic features, you’re six foot two plus I don’t see anyone who can resist your cute curly hair. How long is it now?”
“It’s about seven inches. Forget that, don’t these gigs usually happen only when you know someone who knows someone?”
“You know me.” Tariebi replied curtly.
Farhad’s hand absently found its way into his scalp. He noticed immediately and tried to pretend he wanted to pull out a strand to show her.
She saw through the ruse and smirked. “You can’t hide that you’re crushing on me, can you?”
Farhad grimaced. “Nah, it’s nothing of the sort. In fact, Louise and I are pretty close, been wanting to ask her out. Perhaps a photo shoot would make an interesting date.”
Tariebi rolled her eyes and pushed off her seat.
“Whatever you say, Hausa boy. DM me your phone number so I can call you with details.”
“Okay.” Farhad called after Tariebi, muttering Hausa curse words as soon as she was out of earshot.
He couldn’t have handled that any more stupidly if he tried. He picked his phone and opened his twitter client, if he was going to drown, might as well enjoy it.
“Musa, you can go home, I might stay a bit.”
“Are you sure sister Louise? Madam doesn’t need me for rest of the day.”
“Yeah, I’m sure.”
Louise watched the SUV pull out and slowly drive off, leaving her alone in front of the Adeniran Ogunsanya mall. She’d never been here before and it looked a whole lot smaller than the Palms Mall back in Lekki. Its blue and white tiled entrance that made it feel a little like the entrance to an European bath house.
She fished out her iPhone from her bag and checked her notifications. There were a slew of direct messages from Farhad, telling her exactly where he was and what he was doing. It was a location shoot in the Laundromat within the mall. It slightly bothered her that Farhad hadn’t bothered to call since she sent him her number a few days before, but she chalked it up to his Northerner eccentricities. There were also a number of Whatsapp messages from Xhiz asking where she was, those she promptly ignored as she made her way into the mall.
She shrieked the minute she saw the clean shaven head behind the camera in the middle of the Laundromat. He swivelled and smiled when he noticed her and had to employ quick reflexes to catch her as she flung herself into his hands.
“L.J Adegoke, its been what, a year now?”
Louise blushed. “Almost two. Mommy still loves the family portrait you shot but dad’s all sold on Amadi Obi now.”
The photographer laughed heartily. “No hard feelings. So why are you crashing my shoot?”
Louise extricated herself from Obi Somto and looked around.
“I was invited by a friend, the only male model on the shoot?.”
“Ah, the Fulani looking one. He should be here soon. He just finished his solo and he should be in the back room getting a wardrobe change.”
He turned back to the model who was standing by one of the massive dryers repeatedly tapping her foot and chuckled. “We’ve pissed the top model off. You should sit and wait for him.”
Louise’s eyes widened when she recognised Tariebi under the mountain of hair they’d saddled her with. She waved enthusiastically and mouthed an apology which Tariebi pretended not see, her focus directed solely at the camera. She didn’t mind the obvious snub, that the photographer had completely abandoned Tariebi mid-pose to exchange pleasantries with her was more than enough compensation. She walked to the couch beside the door and sat, burying her smug smile in the copy of Storm Born by Rachelle Mead she was reading.
“Your hair was shorter the last time I saw you.”
Louise looked up and broke into an awed grin. Farhad looked so beautiful. His curly hair had been straightened out and swept into loose side bangs and his skin was all smooth from the light make up. He put out a hand and helped her up, and scooped her into a hug. The moment seemed so perfect she couldn’t help herself, she kissed him. His lips were soft from the balm they used and they grew even softer as they parted for her. She swooned a little in her head, this moment was…
They broke apart awkwardly, turning towards the front entrance where Xhiz stood, observing them with what was a mixture of revulsion and amusement. Louise suddenly felt the need to tug up the top of her strapless sundress. Xhiz completely ignored Louise’s fidgeting and thrust his arm out at Farhad. He took it and shook firmly.
“Can I borrow you away from your date for a minute?”
“She isn’t my date, but sure.” Farhad replied defensively.
Xhiz chuckled at Louise and gestured towards the door. Farhad took the cue and Xhiz followed, leaving a clueless Louise standing awkwardly in the foyer.
“What’s all this for?” Farhad asked coldly.
Xhiz raised his hands in mock surrender. “Hey, we’re friends aren’t we, this hostility’s a tad unnecessary.”
“Okay, this is me being friendly. Why do you want to see me?”
“Tariebi said if I didn’t tell you, she would. So here I am. I was the one who helped get you this gig. I felt it would be a perfect way to find your feet and carve your niche and…”
“…keep my mouth shut about what I saw at the party.”
“I didn’t say that.”
Farhad spat and tucked his bangs behind his ear. “I’m not stupid, I watch TV too. I can tell a bribe when I see one, which is what you’ve turned your ‘gesture’ into by owning up to it. I’d given Tariebi my word that I wouldn’t say anything and I wont. In future, keep your fucking help to yourself.”
Xhiz swallowed a hiss. “Okay, thanks. But I really think you’d make a great model. I wouldn’t have suggested you otherwise.”
Farhad gave a tight lipped smile.”Thanks for your optimism. You coming in to watch the shoot?”
Xhiz shrugged. “Nah, I’ll see the pictures after.”
Xhiz patted Farhad on the shoulder and stalked off into the complex. Farhad shook his head and went back into the Laundromat, any thought of romance or even politeness he’d previously entertained was completely doused. Louise was seated, biting her manicure and looking in the direction of the shoot but not really watching. Farhad tapped her and she jerked in mild alarm.
“Sorry, Lou. This was a bad idea. Can we do this some other time?”
Louise tried with little success to hide the disappointment in her voice. “Okay, I understand. Where’s Chibuzor?”
Farhad’s voice went flat. “I think he’s in the mall somewhere.”
“You can stay and watch the shoot if you want.”
Louise tried for a disaffected decline. “Nah, I have a couple of errands and a test result to collect, I postponed. Might as well get to it.”
“Ok bye. I’ll DM you when I’m done.”
Louise slung her tote on her shoulder and shelved her disappointment.
“Tell Tariebi I said hi.”
“Will do.” Farhad replied over his shoulder as he walked back to the drier where the other models were now gathered, getting touched up by the shoot’s makeup artist.
“Bye.” Louise whispered to herself and turned to leave as she fished out her phone to call Musa to come take her home.
“Hello, I can’t hear you sir.”
“Juniper Adegoke, its doctor Phyllis from aTIVE Medicare. You came for an ObGyn check up on Thursday?”
“Yes, that’s me. Are my tests ready?”
“Yes miss. I’m calling to inform you that the results have been forwarded to your email just as you asked as well as a list of prescriptions and dosage times.”
“I said your results have been…”
“Nah, I heard what you said, why are you sending prescriptions?”
“Well your test results should…”
“That isn’t what I asked.”
“Okay, miss Adegoke. From your tests, I’m afraid it’s conclusive that you have contracted Gonorrhoea.”