“Well,” Fatma sighs and continues her sorry tale. “Brian told me he had a business opportunity he wanted to exploit, but no capital. He told me he was tired of living off me because he had no means to take care of me. He said he just wanted to feel like a man. I really understood what he meant.”
My jaw starts to drop; I have a feeling the business opportunity he wanted me to invest in is the same one he wanted Fatma to invest in too! “Tell me more,” I lean forward, now listening keenly. “What business was this?”
“Something to do with public relations and brand management.”
I am gobsmacked! All this time, Brian has been trying to get me to invest in a business he already had funds for! “He told me the same thing,” I shake my head and look down in embarrassment.
“What?!” Fatma yelps. “You were dating him too?!”
I shake my head. “He tried coming onto me but I told him to stop it. So then he asked me to mentor him. I was considering it, and then he told me he had quit your business to start his because he felt it was time, and he wanted me to invest in his company.”
Fatma’s hand flies towards her mouth. “I am so sorry I brought him into your life, Liz,” she says. “I had no idea he was approaching my friends and clients too! This is so embarrassing!”
Her hands cup her cheeks as she says this, like she’s trying to contain the heat rising through them.
“It’s okay,” I reassure her. “Con men are everywhere. You can’t control who they approach. So what happened after he asked you for the money?”
Fatma goes on with her story, starting off with how hesitant she was to give him the full amount he asked for — a million.
“He begged and pleaded. He said he would pay it back in full, with nice interest on top. Then he told me if I didn’t have a million he would take anything I could spare, he would find the rest from somewhere else.”
And that was when Fatma really began to worry; was she being unsupportive? Was she holding Brian back from realising his true potential?
Didn’t ‘they’ always tell us to love the men who love us through thick and thin? Why did she doubt him so much?
Why couldn’t she just take a leap of faith and invest in her man — if the situation was reversed, wouldn’t she expect him to do the same for her?
What sort of foundation for a relationship was she setting by not supporting him when he was in need?
But then another set of nagging questions was bothering her; why was Brian so comfortable living off her? Did she know enough about him to trust him to put her hard-earned money to good use?
Had she done her due diligence on his business idea? What if he was lying to her — would she be able to live with herself knowing she had literally thrown her money away?
And what about the yawning age difference between them? It bothered her. At the end of the day, the choice came down to this: whether to side with love or whether to side with caution.
“In the end, I chose love,” Fatma shrugs. “I mean, I had always been so cautious — and look how far it got me. So I thought I would believe him and try do things different.”
“So you gave him the money, and then?” I ask.
Fatma continues: “And then he changed. Stopped being so keen on spending time with me. Started going out by himself a lot more. Spent less time in my house. He even stopped borrowing my car.”
Whenever Fatma would ask, he would say it was because he was absorbed in setting up the business. But whenever she asked for progress reports, they were not forthcoming.
“By this time, everyone in the office knew there was something going on between us,” she continues.
I can see tears glistening in her eyes. “But then he stopped coming. Then he told me he was leaving altogether to focus on his business. I let him go.”
“And then what happened next?” I ask her. Then I wait for her to tell me how all this drama ended.