She had been a fool, she thought, to think that a young man like Jayden would be serious with her. She was too old, maybe old enough for a divorcee like Manuel who had made it clear his intentions ; he wanted her back.
He agreed with Timona, he and Renee were cut from the same cloth. All they needed was to be stitched back together,this time forever. But Renee did not feel the same way. She asked him to give her time to think about it.
It was now almost a week and the grief of finding out that Jayden had been fooling her was still eating her up. She couldn’t believe that Jayden would deceive her yet he had sounded so sincere when he had told her he loved her. She immersed herself in her work until the late hours of the evening.
This night, she did not want to go home because since she found out about Jayden, her home had become a hellhole of tears. The quietude of her house reminded her that she would stay lonely for quite a longer time. She decided to take off the stress, she knew how best to do it. She jumped into her car and drove off.
For Jayden, life was even slower than Renee’s. He felt hurt and angry. Hurt that Renee would think so low of him and angry that she would jump to another man so fast. He missed her so much but every time he thought of approaching her and making things right, he remembered the tall, brawny man she had dined with, clad in an expensive suit, with a watch to die for, and very costly shoes.
“Whooo…hoo! I don’t think you can compete with such a man, he left me with a 500 bob tip!” He remembered Shakiri saying to him that day Renee had lunch with him. The man had looked older, older than Renee, probably Renee’s preference.
He decided to move on with life, despite the fact that everything he saw was black and white, every food he ate was tasteless. He smiled where he had to, and laughed where needed but deep inside, he felt like he had an abyss in his heart that sunk him into deep agony.
“You have to go and talk to her.” His colleague Shakiri urged him. He was seated in one of the empty chairs, staring at nothing instead of cleaning up the tables.
“I can’t.” He replied as he rose and started to wipe the table.
“Why not? You have to solve this because we want the old Jayden back. You look like a zombie nowadays, you pretend you are alright but your mind is so far from us.” She insisted.
“Leave me alone Shakiri, ok?” He glared at her as he said it, his voice high and vehement. He threw the table wiper down and left in a huff, leaving her perturbed at his behaviour. Jayden had never lost his temper in her presence. He was the most easy going male colleague of all them. Heartbreaks change people.
He wanted a breath of fresh air so he started to walk to wherever his legs would take him. He tried to put Renee away from his thoughts but all that came were the memories they shared, the phone incident, the lunches they had at Great Grill, the date at The Love Tavern, how they laughed when the drunk man urged them to get a room while they kissed and the world around them had stopped for those seconds.
“Aaaaaargh!” He exclaimed, kicking the ground before him as the little dust formed a cloud and disappeared from the angry man that had disturbed its peace.
His pointless walking took him to none other a place but The Love Tavern. He was about to turn back when he saw her car parked outside the tavern. He felt a hot rush of anger when he remembered the taxi driver’s words, ‘These women…have everything they desire and so they just hunt for good sex from energetic toyboys like you. Then when you start being clingy, they dump you and go to the next.’
The taxi driver had been right. Renee had wanted him for fun and probably used an excuse to get rid of him.He felt an urge to go in and peep to find out the next toyboy that had replaced him.
Then he heard her voice. He moved closer. Renee was on the stage, all eyes on her as she sang on karaoke, her eyes wet with tears, emotions being revealed through her voice, her eyes closed. Even the karaoke coordinator had stepped back as they watched her, pour her heart out to Alicia Keys’s song If I ain’t got you!
…Some people want it all
But I don’t want nothing at all
If it ain’t you, baby
If I ain’t got you, baby
Some people want diamond rings
Some just want everything
But everything means nothing
If I ain’t got you, yeah…
Renee’s singing was magical. The audience were drawn in to her voice. A few women wiped tears from the corners of their eyes while the men took longer sips from their bottles to hide their sentiments. It was even more magical to the person to whom the song was directed too.
She opened her eyes and saw him. He was standing in the centre of the tavern, his eyes glittering. She stopped, and made as if to leave the stage. Jayden, took quick steps, ran to her and held her hand firmly then dragged her to the karaoke coordinator and whispered something to him. He nodded.
Jayden turned to Renee and looked into her eyes. The crowd were silent, watching the unfolding drama. Renee was melting at the look of his eyes. He took the microphone from her. Then the beats of Bryan Adam’s song, Please forgive me, filled the air.
“Renee, I am not as good a singer as you are but I will try my best.” He said as the crowd cheered on.
It still feels like our first night together
Feels like the first kiss
It’s getting better baby
No one can better this
Still holding on
You’re still the one
First time our eyes met
Same feeling I get
Only feels much stronger
I want to love you longer
Do you still turn the fire on?
By the time he got to the chorus, the tavern guests were singing along with him.
Please forgive me, I know not what I do
Please forgive me, I can’t stop loving you
Don’t deny me, this pain I’m going through
Please forgive me, if I need you like I do
Please believe me, every word I say is true
Please forgive me, I can’t stop loving you
Renee was confused. Did he do this too for the other girl? Was he this conniving and convincing just to get her money and in her pants? Why despite all these was she feeling that he was sincere? She grabbed the microphone from him, put it down and walked from the stage. Jayden followed hastily. The crowd was disappointed but the coordinator was quick to divert the attention.
“And here I thought my love life is messy. Anyone else care to karaoke a song for us, better be a love song now, we don’t want to cry no more!” He announced and they laughed, the Jayden-Renee saga was quickly forgotten.
“I am no fool Jayden.” She said when they reached a quiet place where they couldn’t be disturbed.
“Renee, please , I would never take you for one.”
“Really? How about if I tell you that I know about your girlfriend, the younger one, with long hair, petite body and…”
“That’s Naomi, my little sister.”
“Yes, I know you were watching us from your office as we conversed. Renee, if she was my girl, would we really meet right under your nose?”
Renee swallowed hard at the revelation.
“Jayden, I am sorr…” She wanted to say.
“Renee, it hurts that you think that I would take you for a fool, but what hurts most is you moving on to the next man so fast like you never felt a thing for me.” He was now angry.
“It was the only time I met Manuel. We haven’t met again.”
“Manuel, your ex?” He asked, she nodded. “Oh, I am finished.” He exclaimed as he kicked the ground again in defeated ire.
Renee was tongue tied. She couldn’t believe she had been so wrong. She tried to calm him down but he did not want her close. She would lose him because of jumping into conclusions without checking the other side of the story. She sat on a building stone that had been abandoned nearby and watched him as he stood metres away, his back towards her.
It was a long fifteen minutes of waiting for him to calm down. She watched as he came towards her, probably to end things with her. He sat next to her and held her hand and entwined his fingers into hers. She gave an inner smile.
“There are two women I could take a gun for. That girl you saw me embracing, Naomi. She is the rock of my world. The other is our mother, she is sickly now, a bad case of arthritis. She struggled to take care of me and Naomi after dad died. I owe my life to her. I hope I will make her proud of me one day.” Jayden was saying.
“You will…” Renee attempted to speak but he interrupted her.
“Shh, I am not done my love.” He said, as he turned to give her that love look that made her knees wobbly.
“The list just got longer, thanks to you. Renee, I feel so strongly for you and I can’t help it. I love you and I want to spend all my life with you. Please, let’s start afresh my love.”
“Can I speak now?” She asked smiling. He laughed and nodded.
“Jayden,you and I are not an ordinary couple. You will be jeered and scoffed at for being with an older woman. Can you handle that?” She asked.
“Renee, let them jeer all they can, let them scoff. All I care about is that I will be with the woman of my dreams. Unless the ridicule about dating a poor younger waiter gets to you?” He stated and asked.
“I have never been one to worry about what people say,why should I now?” As soon as she finished her statement , she felt the warm sweet lìps on hers savouring her hungrily. It was a feeling she would give up everything for.
A rustle in the leaves broke their kiss. They rose to go to the parking area as they held hands.
“I didn’t know you could sing so well by the way.” He said.
“I think I have done enough practice in the shower.” She joked.
“No, seriously, you have such strong vocals, a golden voice. You sang If I aint got you better than the original one. If you pursued music as a career, I know and the crowd that were listening to you would agree that you would sell a million albums.” He said.
Renee loved to sing. Those who heard her sing would compliment her great voice. But she had never seen it beyond that. Now Jayden was giving her all these ideas. She thought about it for days and when the end of the month reached, she wrote emails to her bosses copies to London, the headquarters.
She resigned with reasons that she wanted to pursue a career that provided an exciting environment, because the four silent walls in the human resource office were suffocating her with boredom.
Five years later, Jayden the Artist as he was famously known together with his wife The Melodic Renee, a best selling music artist, welcomed a beautiful baby girl.
“What’s her name?” A friend asked as she picked the adorable baby in her arms.
“Milada.” Jayden and Renee replied in unison.
“Milada. Never heard of such a name. What does it mean?” The friend inquired.
“It means ‘my love’.” Jayden said as he gave his wife the love look that still made her knees wobbly. “We have been trolled, mocked, abused and laughed at because of our age difference but our love still keeps us going. Milada is the fruit of my love for Renee.”
“And mine to you.” Renee added.
“Such a moving love story. Truly, age is just a number.” The friend declared.