Chapter 21. Nightmare

Forty minutes later:

“The police received a call from an eye witness.” Said Fahad calmly as soon as he ended a phone call. Yara, Sajida and Fouzia stared at him eagerly. “He said that he saw a man in a pick-up truck who tried dragging two young girls inside..”

BINTY” screamed Sajida hitting her chest.

“This doesn’t mean that it’s Tamara. It can’t be” said Yara.

“The incident happened in Hamad Town.” Said Fahad.

“Hamad Town? Why would Tamara go to Hamad Town? No, it can’t be them!” said Yara moving around.

“Didn’t he say more? Like what they were wearing? How they looked like?” wondered Fouzia.

“That’s all. He will call again as soon as they receive more information”

“It’s her. I have a feeling it’s her!” said Sajida breaking down.

Fouzia rushed to Sajida and held her with both arms for support, “don’t say that. Inshalla it’s not. Sit down” she pulled her down to sit.

Yara was in denial. She pretended that nothing was going on and she went to the kitchen and got Sajida’s pills and a glass of water. “Are you ok?” asked Fahad as soon as she turned around.

“Yes, why wouldn’t I be? She will call any minute and say that she is in a friend’s house, somewhere!” said Yara confidently and was about to walk away.

“It’s great that you are being optimistic about this, but, you have to keep in mind that something might be wrong.” he said nicely. She stared at him in confusion and walked to her bedroom.

When she finally had her space, she threw herself on bed and lay down for few minutes. She closed her eyes tightly and prayed from the bottom of her heart that a miracle would happen and Tamara would walk through the door. Her heart jumped out of place when she heard two knocks on her door. “Yara, Fatima’s mother called again, she wants to speak to you” said Fouzia behind the door.

“Hello” said answered the phone in the sitting room.

“Did you find them?” asked the mother.

“Not yet. But we are asking around so don’t worry” said Yara tired.

“Me and her father are very worried. He dropped her to your house in the morning so their friend would pick them up and take them to her house in Hamad Town” said the mother.

“Hamad Town?” said Yara and automatically dropped on the armchair behind her. Every head in the room was turned towards her.

“Yes. But I don’t have their number or address or even full name!” said Um Fatima.

“There is something that you should know….” Said Yara with reality finally sinking in.

 

At the same time, Nadia, Mohammed and his two sisters were having dinner in Mezzaluna. The place was as quiet as always, suitable for a group who needed privacy. After having a fine meal, they continued enjoying their conversation while sipping herbal tea.

“I really think that divorce is the right thing to do.” Said Amal, Mohammed’s eldest sister.

“That’s just the typical mean you! Don’t you have any consideration for your nephew?” said Hana, Mohammed’s second sister.

“Oh come on, Reem was always left out between us. And there is no need to worry about Khalid, he’s young and he’ll find his balance. You can’t sacrifice your brother’s happiness for that reason!” said Amal.

“And what will happen to her meskeena? She was a good wife to him after all!” said Hana in a broken voice that showed Nadia how naïve and sensitive she was.

“She can take care of herself!” said Amal rudely.

“You are a devil. Thank god you don’t have kids!” Said Hana and turned to Nadia, “she’s one of those evil old single women”

Nadia laughed loud, “are they always like that?” she asked Mohammed.

“Always were, always will” he said with a smile.

“You will get used to it with time. And what old woman are you talking about? I’m 40, single and can’t be any happier” said Amal proudly with her short hair and navy blue blazer.

“Yes. You don’t have to repeat that twenty times a day” said Hana with her straight soft black hair falling over her face naturally.

“Ok Miss I-can’t-say-no-to-my-kids” said Amal daringly and sipped her Jasmine Tea.

“Enough you two! What impression are you giving to the new member of the family?” joked Mohammed.

“Leave my kids alone. They have the most evil aunt on earth and that’s why I’m making it up to them by being extra sweet!” said Hana.

“How old are your kids?” asked Nadia laughing.

“My girl is 8 and my boy is 6” said Hana proudly.

“Remember when she got married? We were together back then” said Mohammed.

“Yes. I do.” She said shyly.

“Don’t listen to her. I am the nicest aunt anyone could ever have. I took them to Dubai last month and they had a blast” said Amal confident.

“With your rules and restrictions? I doubt it!” said Mohammed proving Hana right and they all laughed.

“It’s Fahad!” said Nadia as she stared at her phone screen, “hello?”

“Hi Nadia” said Fahad in a serious tone.

“Hi”

“I think that you should come to Yara’s house now”

“Why? You’re there? What’s wrong?”

“Tamara is missing. There is a chance that she might be kidnapped”

“WHAT!!”

“Yara is not doing well. She’s pretending to be strong. She’s not listening to me, but I’m sure she’ll listen to you”

“Coming now!”

 

It was after midnight in Yara’s house. The sitting room was dark with few lamps turned on in some corners. There was a tray of untouched sandwiches on a coffee table and some small bottles of water placed next to each other. Sajida was passed out on one of the sofas after her pills took effect. Fouzia covered her with a light blanket and sat on an armchair reading Quran under one of the lamps. Yara was sitting on the floor and resting her body sideways on the sofa behind her. Nadia was trying to force her to eat a sandwich but she refused by shaking her head slowly. Fahad kept his distance. The last thing he wanted was to annoy her or use that situation to win her back. He watched her from a distance and wandered around the house every now and then. He felt responsible for some reason. This family still needed him and he didn’t want to let them down.

“Any news?” said Nadia after following Fahad to the kitchen.

“No. Nothing” he said concerned.

“How bad is it? Is there anything that I don’t know about?” she whispered.

“I’m pretty sure that it’s her. Two young girls in Hamad Town! What are the odds?” he said finally getting to open up without considering any feelings.

“I know. But we need to put on a positive attitude. If we don’t, they’ll breakdown!”

Walla if I catch the one who did this, I’d kill him and cut his body into little pieces!” he said in anger.

“You think they’ll be able to find them soon?”

“I don’t know.. I really don’t” he shook his head.

“There are a hundred possibilities. They could’ve killed them or raped them or tortured them!” she said with her fear growing.

“The police needs to be more strict with some animal-like people.” He said pissed off. Nadia took a deep breath and went back to the sitting room.

“Did he say anything?” asked Yara as soon as Nadia sat next to her.

“No, what would he say?”

“Is she dead?” asked Yara with a distant mind.

“Why are you saying that? Stop thinking this way!” yelled Nadia trying to control her volume.

“I have a bad feeling, a very bad feeling” said Yara with teary eyes.

“Of course you will. It’s normal. But on the other hand you have to have some faith! Have faith in Allah and he won’t let you down..” said Nadia and tapped her head.

 

Five hours later:

It was around 6am. Fahad’s phone rang waking them all up from their very light naps around the sitting room. “Yes?” answered Fahad quickly. “Yes.. thank you.. thank you.. we are coming now..”

“What is it?” asked Yara impatiently.

“They found them…”

 

Fahad walked into the very quiet police station with Sajida and Yara following him. Sajida was holding her Bahraini Daffa that was on top of her head with one hand and carrying her Chanel with the other. Yara left the house with her flip flops, leggings and a white loose I Love Paris T-shirt. The short walk to the police office after entering the station felt long and cold. They didn’t know what to expect and the rough marble floor wasn’t friendly enough either.

The moment they stepped into the office, they saw Tamara and Fatima sitting on white plastic chairs next to each other with terrified looks on their faces. Their hair was messy and their clothes weren’t as neat as they were the day before. Tamara jumped out of her chair when she saw them walking in and ran to Yara with tears suddenly streaming down her face. “Don’t cry. You are safe now.” said Yara squeezing her back without being able to control her tears.

“They locked us in a dark room all day. And there was a dog barking outside” said Tamara weeping.

Sajida pulled Tamara out of Yara’s arms, held her face tenderly with both hands and hugged her tight while Yara gave Fatima a hug and wiped her tears.

“Did you catch them?” asked Fahad.

“Yes, and we’ll tell you the whole story” said the police officer.

“Mama why don’t you wait with the girls outside? Give them the juice and sandwiches that you packed for them” said Yara nicely.

“But I want to know what happened!” demanded Sajida.

“We’ll let you know. Please!” she said begging.

“Ok..” She said and led the girls outside.

“How are you related to them?” asked the police officer.

“I’m Tamara’s sister” said Yara.

“And you?” he looked at Fahad.

“He’s my fiancé” said Yara right away. Fahad stared at her and back at the police officer with a smile that he tried hard to hide.

“We caught the two men who kidnapped them. One of them is in his mid thirties and the other in his late twenties. They probably were planning to ask for a ransom. They didn’t harm the girls” stated the police officer.

Hamdella” said Yara relieved.

“We found the girls in a locked room of an old house in Hamad Town. We will question them now and find out more details. But usually in such cases, they wait for a day or two before calling the family for the ransom” said the officer.

“The level of confidence they have!! They really believed that it was that easy?” asked Fahad.

“That’s how they always fail! Such cases are very easy to track in Bahrain” said the officer.

“Thank you very much. We appreciate your efforts” said Yara.

“That’s our job. And we’ll provide you with more details shortly” said the officer.

 

After dropping Fatima home. Fahad drove to Yara’s house with Yara sitting in the front seat and Sajida holding Tamara in the back. “Thank you” said Yara breaking the silence and turning her head slightly to Fahad.

“You know that I’d do anything for you and your family” he smiled.

Silence descended in the car again ’till they reached the house. Fahad waited by the door and made sure that they were in and that the doors were properly locked. He drove to his house after a long night looking forward to a few hours of sleep.

Sajida stayed by Tamara’s side and forced her to have a glass of milk before having a shower. They didn’t talk about it. Yara warned her mother not to open up the topic till Tamara recovers. After her shower, Sajida noticed that she was still shaking. She tucked her into bed and promised her that she will sleep by her side. Feeling the warmth of her bed and her mother’s tenderness for the first time, she immediately fell asleep.

“Can you imagine us having to go through all of this without Fahad? Allah sent Fouzia to us at the right time” said Sajida as they both left Tamara’s room and closed the door slowly.

“True” Said Yara.

“I feel that he is a part of this family already”

“His mother stayed by your side all night” said Yara and yawned.

“I know that it’s not the right time, but maybe you should reconsider..” said Sajida nicely.

“Good night mother.. “ said Yara walking to her room.

 

**

 

“Fahad!!” said Alia answering her phone.

“Hala. The ring tone says that you’re out of Bahrain” said Fahad.

“I’m in Geneva. How are you?”

“Don’t you and your family ever get fed up with Geneva?” he asked rudely.

“What’s with the upset tone?”

“Why did you lie to Yara?”

“Lie? I didn’t lie. You are the one who lied!”

“She came to you, she trusted you and you should’ve told her the whole truth instead of a one sided story!”

“What happened?”

“It’s over! Thanks to you!”

“When I told her I thought that she already knew! I was surprised to know that you didn’t tell her!”

“Why didn’t you tell her that you had issues too!” he said angry.

“Because she doesn’t care about me! You were the topic!”

“Oh come on! You know the condition very well and you have no right to blame me while you were a big part of it too!”

“I don’t know! This is how the conversation went! I meant no harm!” Said Alia getting nervous.

“Fix it then!” he ordered.

“Will she listen to me?”

“I don’t know just do something”

“Fine. If it will make you feel any better, I will”

 

“Yara? How is Tamara? Is everything ok?” asked Dalal as soon as Yara picked up the phone.

“Yes. We are all fine hamdella.” Said Yara.

“I just heard about what happened and I lost my mind. You mind if I visit you later today?”

“You’re welcome anytime”

“You sound very tired. Do you need anything? Can I get you anything?”

“Thanks” said Yara quietly.

“You mind me asking about Fahad? What did you end up doing about him?”

“It’s over”

“Noooooo! I can’t believe it! Are you sure about this?”

“Sorry Dalal but I really don’t feel like talking about it” she said annoyed.

“I understand. You must be devastated. First Fahad and then Tamara!”

“And I sold the studio!”

“WHAT! I am coming to you right now..” said Dalal overwhelmed.

 

Sara and her mother were having a coffee break in Gloria Jean’s City Center. Fouzia was very stressed after all what had happened the previous night and she needed to go out for a change. “And you said no right away? Are you insane?” said Fouzia when Sara told her about Osama.

“What was I supposed to say?” said Sara confused.

“Say what every girl says in that situation. Give me time to think and I will get back to you” said Fouzia.

“But I didn’t need time! I know for sure that it’s impossible!”

“But why? The man is like a member of the family and we know him very well!” asked Fouzia disappointed.

“He is not my type!”

“What type? There are two types of men, a good man and a bad man. He is a good man and that is his type.”

“You’re funny. A “type” means much more than that”

“Stay single forever then. If each and every one of you has her own type then I doubt that this generation will ever reproduce another one!”

“You will never understand. But please don’t tell Fahad and let’s close this topic. I don’t like him that way, he is more like a brother to me and I can’t change that”

“Stupid. That’s all I can say!” said Fouzia and sipped her coffee.

 

Two days later:

Nadia walked into her shop to find a huge flower arrangement. She was sure of the sender, but not so sure of the occasion. She looked for the card between all the pink roses and white lily’s, pulled it and opened it slowly and excitedly:

I just signed the divorce papers. I am now a free man and I entirely belong to you and only you. Love you..

Mohammed

Chapter 20, Losses

“We are here today to propose to your daughter” said Um Mohammed. The sitting room, that was absolutely full of ladies when Nawaf proposed to Nadia, was nearly empty this time. Um Mohammed was sharing a sofa with Nadia’s mother while his two sisters sat opposite to them on two different armchairs. Nadia’s two aunts were in and out supervising the maids and checking on Nadia who was upstairs in her room waiting to be called.

“I don’t know what to tell you. The situation is not as we wished. But they are grown ups and there is nothing that we can do other than supporting them” said Nadia’s mother.

“You are right. I am very worried about my grandson getting lost between all of this. At the same time I know that Nadia was always special to Mohammed since they were in college and I saw how unhappy he was with Reem” admitted Um Mohammed holding a transparent cup of black tea.

“And if this will bring him back to Bahrain and give him a more settled life then why stand in his way?” said Mohammed’s eldest sister.

“I was very ashamed of my daughter being a second wife and getting between a man and his family. It is what it is no matter how we sugarcoat it, but their happiness is what matters at the end. Therefore, we have no objection” said Nadia’s mum.

Right at that moment, Nadia’s aunt rushed upstairs to call Nadia. She found her standing next to the stairs with Yara in a beautiful short yellow dress with a bow on her waist. “Come down now!” said the aunt reaching half way up.

“You are one hell of a lucky woman. Just when you finish your Edda you get proposed to all over again” teased Yara.

“Oh come on, what is about to happen was supposed to happen long years back” said Nadia and walked down nervously.

 

**

The Studio, 8:00pm:

Boxes were stacked all around the space with thick brown packing tape sealing them up carefully. Yara and Santosh were arranging the store, rolling some unframed posters and wrapping paintings with bubble wrap.

Nothing was left on the walls. They were as bare as they were back when Yara received the studio. The place that was once alive with art and music was now lifeless.

“I think that’s enough for today Santosh” said Yara supporting her tired back.

“Ok Madame. You want to take those two cartoons with you?”

“Yes, I need to take those two to Nadia’s shop. I will open the car’s trunk for you” she said picking up her keys and heading out. The moment she opened the door and stepped out she saw Fahad walking towards the café. He slowed down once he saw her and walked towards her. “Hello..”

“Hello..”

“Madame?” said Santosh carrying one of the heavy cartoons next to Yara’s car.

“Sorry!” she said turning towards the car and pressing on her remote car key.

“How are you?” asked Fahad.

“Clearing off the studio. You can imagine how I feel..” she said frowning.

“Do you..need help?” he asked formally and hesitantly.

“I’m fine.. thanks”

“Madame, I’m done. I am going” said Santosh.

“Ok Santosh.”

“I miss you” said Fahad as soon as Santosh walked away.

“Let’s not go there.. The studio is sold and you will get your money back. You will no longer be seeing me by coincidence around this area..” she said firmly.

“I still want you Yara and you know it!”

“Again, please let’s not go there. Everything is over.” Said Yara harshly.

“I deserve a valid reason!”

“A reason? You know what you’ve done, why do I have to repeat it to you!”

“What is it that you can’t forgive? This is what I demand to know”

“Fine. You want to hear it? I lost trust in you! You lied to me about one of the biggest issues that we might have to face! How do you expect me to trust you again?”

“I only did this to protect our relationship!” He said firmly staring at her angry eyes.

“It doesn’t matter..” she said and walked back to the studio.

He tried to follow her, but she shut the door roughly in a way that warned him to stay away. She sat on the floor, rested her back on one of the packed boxes and hugged her knees. She found herself in the middle of a very miserable state of mind with her tears pouring out. In a matter of one week, she lost the two most precious things to her; the love of her life and her career. The End was written all over the blank walls around her in that semi dark room, that was once called the studio.

She sensed the presence of someone at the door. Someone who was being hesitant about walking in. She knew who it was, and she was hoping that she could run to him, throw herself in his arms and tell him how life had no meaning without him. But she couldn’t. She felt like her hands were bound with a chain, her legs were tied with a thick rope and her mouth was covered tightly with a piece of material. Moving was impossible. And not a single start-over sign was sensed or felt right then. She cried until she felt every single drop of liquid leaving her body through her eyes. The person who was behind the door made his decision and left. She was left with nothing but her tears and the boxes around her.

**

“Hello?” answered Sara.

Hala Sara, shloanech?”

Zaina. How are you?”

“I’m good. Am I calling at a wrong time? Or can we talk now?”

La it’s ok. Tell me” she said coldly.

“How’s everything? How’s work?” he asked with a sense of nervousness.

“All is good. Nothing new” she answered not bothered.

“Great. Fahad told you that I needed to talk to you I assume”

“Yes. Anything I can help with?”

“There is a girl that I need to ask you about. Hmm, how can I describe her to you!”

“Don’t you even know her name?”

“I do. But I want to know if you’ll be able to guess who she is” he teased.

“Hit me” she said getting annoyed.

“She’s petite and cute”

“That is how most Bahraini girls are!” she said with no interest in the conversation.

“Hmm. I’ve known her since she was a little girl” he hinted.

“Your cousin or school friend?”

“Nope”

“Just say the name Osama!” she said getting fed up.

“Come on. One more guess. Her name starts with the letter S” he said with a grin.

“What? Please tell me that you are not talking about me?” she laughed.

“I am..”

“You can’t be serious!” she screamed.

“I am serious. You are a very good girl. Why go far?” he said casually.

“Osama! We grew up together. You’re more like a big brother to me! Does Fahad know about this?”

“No, I wanted to talk to you first.” he said disappointed.

“Please don’t get me wrong. I’m sorry if I sounded mean. You are a great guy and almost every girl I know wishes to be with you. But me? I don’t see you that way, and I don’t think that I ever will. I’m so sorry.” She said in an apologizing tone.

“It’s alright. I really appreciate your honesty” he said saddened.

“But I can hook you up with girls who are even better than me” she said sweetly and teasingly.

“It’s fine, really. I will not tell Fahad about this but if you want to do so feel free”

“I won’t. Of course I won’t” she said trying to sound considerate.

**

“I’m sorry for showing without prior notice” said Um Fahad as soon as she was seated in the sitting room.

Hayach Allah anytime. You don’t have to apologize” said Sajida dryly.

“Is Yara here?”

“No, she is not.”

“I’m very sad about this whole situation” confessed Um Fahad.

“Aren’t we all” said Sajida straightening her back and looking away.

“I want to speak to Yara. Maybe I could convince her to change her mind”

“Yara is stubborn! There is no way that she’ll break her word”

“What about you? What do you think?”

“I’ve never been as happy as I was last week. But now I am glad that it’s not happening” said Sajida with her nose up high.

“Glad?” asked Um Fahad confused.

“Yes! How can I not be? My daughter was about to be fooled into this marriage!”

“Fahad loves Yara a lot! He would never fool her or play with her feelings!”

“Then what do you call hiding a fact as big as this?”

“It’s not a fact! It’s just a small possibility that wasn’t even proven!” explained Um Fahad with rising tension.

“You will still defend him no matter what. He is your son!” said Sajida while the maid interrupted carrying a tray with two glasses of watermelon juice.

“You know that I was against this marriage at first. Then I realized how wrong I was when I saw how happy they were together.” said Um Fahad and sipped the juice.

“We were all happy. But now I’m just hurt to see how broken my daughter is and there is no one to blame but your son” said Sajida with the glass of juice untouched in front of her.

Yara walked in the house right then. She froze when she noticed Fahad’s mum. “Shloanech bintey?” asked Um Fahad sweetly as Yara walked to her and kissed her cheeks formally. But the mother wrapped her arms around her and pulled her to sit next to her. Yara remained quiet while the mother patted her shoulder and rubbed it. “Is it really worth all this? You both love each other and make each other happy. Why let it go?” she said lovingly and caringly.

“It’s better this way. It will get easier with time” said Yara politely.

The landline of the house rang. Sajida stretched to reach for it and picked it up, “Yes?” she answered sharply.

Salam Alaikum. Is this Tamara’s mother?” said a woman.

“Yes. Who is it?”

“I am her friend Fatima’s mother. I’m sorry to disturb you but is Fatima around? I’ve been calling her since morning but she is not answering”

“Fatima? I.. don’t know.. this is a bad time..” said Sajida and was about to hang up, “who is it?” asked Yara while getting up and grabbing the phone off her mum’s hand, “Hello?”.

“Yara?” asked the mother.

“Yes. Are you Fatima’s mother?”

“Yes. I’m really worried about Fatima. Is she and Tamara around?”

“Give me a minute, I will check and call you back” said Yara as she ended the call and rushed to Tamara’s room. She didn’t find anyone there.

“When was the last time you’ve seen her?” asked Yara questioning the maid.

“Morning. Their friend’s driver picked them up from here” said the maid.

“Which friend? Did you see the car?”

“No Madame”

“Her mobile is off” said Sajida dialing her number continuously and walking back and forth around the hall.

Salo ala el naby. She’s a teenager and she’ll suddenly show up ” said Um Fahad but they were too worried to give her any attention.

“It’s 7pm! Where would they be since this morning!” wondered Yara.

“Last time this happened we found her in Amwaj!” complained Sajida.

“But she learned her lesson. She’s been taking permissions every time she was late!”

 

“Fahad, Tamara and her friend are missing since morning. They are very worried now and I think that you should help” Um Fahad called him when she was left alone.

“Where are you now?” wondered Fahad.

“Their house. They can’t reach them on their mobiles and they have no idea where they could be. I think that you should come..”

Fifteen minutes later:

“I called my friend, he works with the police. He will look for their names in hospitals and police stations and let me know as soon as he finds out” said Fahad as soon as he reached Yara’s house.

Twenty minutes later:

“Names not found..” said Fahad tensed putting his phone down..

Chapter 19. Reality

Nadia’s dream of owning a shop was coming true at the wrong time. With all of what was going on with her and Mohammed, her family being abroad and Yara’s issues, she didn’t have the time nor the mind to give this shop any attention. On top of that, the location of the shop wasn’t as practical as she thought when she decided to rent it. It was the perfect place for a shop that stood alone in a street, but it wasn’t one of the safest locations in Bahrain as it was a common area for protests and riots during that period of time.

She decided to delay the opening of the shop till things got settled for everyone. It was almost ready with most of the items in place. Being in Munich for few days was a good chance to buy some missing pieces for the shop.

On Sunday morning she passed by the shop to drop the things she bought and arrange some items.

“There you go” said Yara handing her a takeout sandwich from Starbucks.

“Thank you. I don’t know what’s wrong with my appetite. Always looking forward to food!” said Nadia taking the sandwich gladly.

“Eat! It’s the only guaranteed pleasure in life”

Nadia laughed, “Someone is upset!”

“I feel like I’m at war with my own self. I couldn’t sleep last night”

“Still can’t make up your mind?” asked Nadia taking a bite.

“No, and having a limited time to think about it is putting me under pressure” said Yara annoyed.

“You are the one who told him that you only need a day or two to think!”

“Yes, only because it won’t be appropriate to delay the proposal again. This time it’s either we go for it or we just forget about it” said Yara playing with a pen that she picked up from the counter.

“I don’t agree with you. Take all the time you need and delay the proposal if you have to. If they delayed it last time then you have every right to delay it this time!”

“Not only that, I don’t want to live in this confusion for long. I have to make up my mind and move on”

“Just think of what made you be together in the first place.”

“Not enough. When I try to accept the lying part, I think about the risk of not having children.”

“I thought that it won’t be a big deal to you”

“Me too, but now I realized that it is. When you love someone you want to have a family with him”

“So if you find out, in any way, that he is able to give you children, will you go for it?”

“It gets confusing when you put it this way. Because I see him as a liar now and maybe we’ll face some trust issues” said Yara jumping on the counter to sit.

“I feel this wall is a bit empty. Would you care to get some of your photos here? For decoration and selling too!” suggested Nadia while staring at the wall behind the counter.

“Sure, I’m selling the studio anyway”

“Don’t think about the studio for now. Get back to it once you’re done with this complicated proposal that is taking forever” said Nadia being sarcastic.

“Maybe it’s a sign! When things don’t go smoothly, it means that it’s not meant to be”

“But I see you trying which is really good. You called Dalal! That was big. Shows how much you want to fix this”

“Dalal is not a big deal. I’ve been feeling guilty since she came to the studio to apologize that day. She was right, she made sense when she said that we don’t have to be best friends but we don’t have to stay out of each others lives either”

“Yeah that’s right. I don’t want to be close to her again too. Respecting limits is always the best solution” said Nadia while arranging some little books on a shelf.

“Did I make a mistake by going to her and telling her about it?”

“No, you needed to do that and it’s ok since you’re close to the family after all. But I wouldn’t tell her about Mohammed”

“Yes, you shouldn’t”

Nadia’s phone rang. She put down the little books and rushed to her phone.

“Hello” she answered.

“Hala” said Mohammed.

“Hi” she said happy to hear his voice.

“I have some news for you”

“What?”

“I’m moving back to Bahrain next week”

“Next week? How? That fast?” she panicked.

Mohammed laughed, “Why so nervous?”

“You’ve been away for years. I thought that it will take you much longer to move back”

“I resigned today. It’s a one-day notice only so I’m already out of work. Will need a week to finalize everything else and that’s it”

“Too much to digest” She said shocked.

He laughed again, “You’re so scared”

“No, not that but what about Reem?”

“She knows that we are moving back. I told her so she could arrange herself. But I will talk to her about you today”

“And that is the hardest part. Please choose your words carefully”

“I will try my best” he said promising.

 

It was lunch time in Yara’s house. The dining table was set with a long plate of Safi fish and another one, just as long, with steamed rice on it. There was a tray with a jug of lemon juice and three transparent purple glasses. Just when the maid came carrying a bowl of salad, Yara entered the house.

Yalla we barely have time. We have to go get the chocolate and I want to pass by the tailor” said Sajida walking towards the dining table.

“Is Tamara back from school yet?” asked Yara walking straight ahead to the dining table.

“Not yet, but we have to eat now and leave. I don’t have time to waste” said Sajida sitting on her usual chair with her hair rolled with few rollers.

“There is something that you should know” said Yara casually as she sat down.

“What?” asked Sajida while pouring herself some juice.

“There is a chance that this marriage won’t happen” said Yara while picking up a fish by its tail.

“Not a good time for jokes” said Sajida and took a sip of the juice.

“If I go ahead with it, there might be a possibility that you won’t become a grandmother until Tamara gets married” said Yara while putting some rice on her plate.

“What the hell are you talking about?” said Sajida putting the glass down and sensing the seriousness of the topic.

“What I just said! I’ve found out some things recently and now I have to reconsider” said Yara still very casual while cutting the fish.

“What do you mean by a possibility?”

“He couldn’t with Alia” said Yara filling her mouth with rice and fish.

“And why is this new to you? How come we didn’t know before?” asked Sajida in disbelief.

“I have to make up my mind now. To take the risk or not” she said looking at her mother’s face for the first time today.

Laish? Laish ya rabby laish? Just when things got better for us! What will we do now! What will we do!!” wailed Sajida.

“Calm down. I didn’t say that I changed my mind. I’m still thinking about it”

“Are you crazy? This is a big risk!” screamed Sajida.

“Yes, but you know how much I love him and how good he is. If I’m still confused it’s only because he lied and didn’t tell me about it”

“This can’t be real. I need my Xanax. Where are my pills!!” panicked Sajida while getting up and rushing to her bedroom without having a single bite.

Yara’s careless mood suddenly switched to depression and anxiety. She stopped eating, took a deep breath and rested her head back on the chair.

 

Mohammed and his little family were spending the afternoon in Harrods’ kids section on the 4thfloor. They bought some children books for Khalid and then headed to The Diner for lunch. He kid was busy with his books, turning the pages and staring at the colorful pictures.

“Did you contact the shipping company?” asked Mohammed.

“Yes, I’ll need a few days to pack up so I asked them to come two days before we leave” said Reem.

“That’s better. I have to pack all the books for shipping too. We’ll have a lot to do this week!”

Reem looked away hesitant for few moments and looked back at Mohammed, “Say it..” she said.

“Say what?”

“I know that you have something to say to me. Just say it!”

“You know me too well” he said avoiding eye contact.

“What’s this all about? Moving back all of a sudden? You’re no longer frustrated and annoyed as you always were. You’re calm. I know for sure that something has come up”

“You are right and I was planning to talk to you about it today.”

She stared at him anxiously, waiting for the bad news to hit her.

“I…am…getting married” he said carefully.

She didn’t blink an eye and kept staring at him with her eyes fixed on his.

“I’m so sorry. I am so so sorry..” he leaned a bit closer.

She breathed heavily, with words getting lost between her lips. She tried to say something but she ended up mumbling some unclear words in a failed attempt to speak.

“Let me explain to you, please” he tried to hold her arm but she pulled away.

“You don’t have to consider my feelings…my feelings…were never considered. I’ve always given you the freedom to live your life with no obligations. But…what about this boy? Doesn’t he deserve to be considered?” she said shaking.

“I thought about it. Of course I thought about both of you. Nothing will change, we will still be a family”

“Do you think that I’m a machine or some robot with no heart? No dignity? How on earth are you believing that nothing will change?! You made your decision and you expect me to be completely fine with it? How selfish of you! How disgusting!” she screamed and the boy stared at her frightened. She patted his head and he looked back at his book.

Mohammed was taken aback with her reaction. The dragon inside of her was unleashed and she was speaking up for herself for the first time.

“Is it Nadia?”

“Yes” he answered calmly.

“Obviously!” she said sharply.

“She tried hard to refuse just for the sake of you and Khalid. But..”

“You never got over her..” her eyes started getting wet.

“I tried. You know how much I tried..”

“And I left everything behind and moved here with you.” she said shaking her head.

“Reem, you are an understanding person and that’s why I am not doing this behind your back. I decided to be honest with you because I was sure that you will understand like you always did.” He said sweetly.

“Are you listening to yourself? It is impossible, impossible to continue living with you..”

“Don’t say that! You’re angry now..”

“The day you marry her will be the day we get divorced!” she stood up, gathered Khalid’s books, carried him and walked away. He waived to the waitress to get the bill and called Nadia right away.

“How did it go?” asked Nadia as soon as she picked up the phone.

“She asked for a divorce!”

“I told you..I told you from the very beginning.. this was a bad idea!!” she said in guilt.

“I felt an anger that was locked up in her for years. This only triggered it. Don’t blame yourself, it was going to happen sooner or later” he said patting his sweaty forehead with a napkin.

“No matter what you say, I will still blame myself for this”

“The only person that should be blamed is me”

“So what will happen now?”

“I’ll give her some time to calm down. But if she insists, then let it be..”

 

Sara was parking her car in the garage when Fahad was heading out of the house. She opened the window:

“Where were you?” he asked.

“Out with the girls. Why?”

Bas. No one is home and I’m going out”

“Never mind. Any updates with Yara?”

“No..”

“You are getting what you deserve! I warned you about lying but you just keep on doing so! I’d do the same if I were in her shoes! And imagine if someone did that to me, won’t you be upset?”

“Ok, enough. Did Osama call you today? He said he needed something”

“Nope. What does he want?”

“I don’t know.” he said staring at his phone screen.

“Ok! Bye.” She said closing the window.

 

One week later:

“We are here today to propose to your daughter..” said Um…..

Chapter 18. Patience

“I have two meetings with potential clients in Abu Dhabi next week. I hope it works out” said Osama while spending the evening with Fahad in Coco’s outdoor area.

“Expanding your services out of the country ha!” said Fahad impressed.

“Why not! It’s been a while since I started and the projects I have here are small. My network can help me reach out for clients around the GCC and I want to use that”

“It’s a good move”

“Let’s hope it works. I’m putting a lot of effort in the presentations. I want to deliver a professional image to them”

“Why don’t you get ISO certified?”

“I was thinking about it, but we’ll need to develop more procedures for it so I feel it’s too soon” said Osama & took a sip of the lemon juice that was placed in front of him in a long transparent glass.

“Are you planning on going for your marriage proposal next week? Other than the women part?” asked Osama while placing his juice back on the table.

“Don’t know yet. Once the women go they get to decide”

“I’ll be away for a couple of days only anyway”

“Can’t wait for tomorrow’s match.” Said Fahad as a guy in a Manchester United t-shirt passed by.

“You will be playing against Liverpool, get ready for a big loss!” said Osama daringly.

“You Liverpool fans are freaks! Too passionate” said Fahad laughing.

“Manchester United is for girls”

“Girls? I am a Manchester United fan who is getting married for the second time while you never did!”

“I don’t have time. I’m a busy man. A career oriented man.” said Osama acting all-important.

“Why don’t you marry Dalal? I’m sure she won’t mind” joked Fahad.

“I say let’s leave before we start a fight” said Osama as he waved to the waitress to get the check.

 

Nadia got back to the hotel while her parents were resting in the sitting area of their suite. The volume of the TV was so high that she heard the Syrian accent of a dubbed Turkish Series before she opened the door.

“Come here” said the father as soon as she stepped in and lowered the volume. “Ha? What did you decide?” he asked as she sat down.

Nadia didn’t answer, she took off her coat and woolen hat quietly and slowly.

Tehachay!” said the mother impatiently.

“Will you accept, if, we decided to go for it?”

Ya binty! Don’t put yourself in such complicated situations” said the mother upset.

“I went for the most normal scenario before and I ended up getting a divorce! I’m not going to stick to the rules anymore, I want to do what feels right and not what looks right!” said Nadia.

“Calm down both of you! Now is not the time to argue” said the father.

“Why not? I came all the way here for this!”

“Enough talking for now. Give it time. I’m out of here!” he said standing up.

“Where are you going?” asked the mother.

“Meeting a friend” he put on his overcoat and left the room.

“Tell me” said Nadia as soon as her father left.

“What do you want me to tell you?” asked the mother upset with her eyes fixed on TV.

“Why are you upset?”

“Because I don’t understand how you want to cause a family trouble! You think that the wife and son will survive this? Never!” she said in anger.

“But why are you thinking of the wife and son and discarding him? He was clear about how he’ll take care of them!”

“And you really think that it will work? How naïve are you? You will be an intruder and no one will accept you! Not even his family! Does his parents know about this? Are they ok with it?” she said in frustration.

“Mama! Focus! We said that this is a first step only. And once you accept it we’ll move to the next stage” said Nadia annoyed.

“And what if we don’t?”

“I’m almost 29 years old and I am divorced! I’m mature and with enough experience to know what I want to do!”

“You can never get enough experience! No one knows better than your parents!”

“And Baba didn’t object yet. If he was totally against the idea he could’ve said no from the very beginning! But he is being patient and not jumping to conclusions”

“He is doing that because he doesn’t want to hurt you. He wants you to think and understand by yourself!”

Nadia’s phone rang cutting of the conversation. “Hello?” answered Nadia and walked away from her mother.

“Every time you travel a disaster happens to me!” said Yara.

“What happened now?”

“I think that I’m being fooled and I’m rushing into this marriage!”

“Fooled?”

“He lied! AGAIN!”

“What did Alia tell you?”

“Remember how he told me that the reason they got divorced was because she didn’t want children? HE LIED”

“What did she say?” asked Nadia again.

“That…he is not able.. to be a father” said Yara in shock as if it was just hitting her.

“What is this nonsense! I’m sure she is lying. Why are you believing her?”

“No, no, I believe her. He lied before. And I sensed it this time. Every time I talked about her he got nervous”

“Still, you can’t believe her and dismiss Fahad completely. Hear him out”

“I don’t know what to do. I am so angry and shocked that I am shaking now”

“Calm down and think wisely. I know it’s not easy because if this is true…” she said and Yara interrupted her, “This lie is big, this is something that I won’t be able to forgive. What if it’s true and I only found out after marrying him? If he were honest with me then the hell with children, I’d marry him no matter what. But to hide something as big? This is huge!” she said getting more shocked with each word.

“Do you want to confront him?”

“No, I don’t want to be fooled again. At the same time, I really want to see his reaction and hear his excuse!”

“Don’t rush. It might not be true after all. I think that you should give yourself some time to calm down and then talk to him”

“I don’t know what to think anymore. The proposal is in few days and…uufffff” she started crying.

“I’m sorry I’m not there”

“I need to be alone now. I’ll talk to you later”

“Yara, I know you too well. You will get all angry now, scream and make the issue bigger than it really is. For once, don’t! Try to solve and not ruin”

“OK OK”

“I’m heading to the airport in few hours and should arrive early morning. Stay sane till then”

Yara was driving home when she was talking to Nadia. She suddenly changed her direction and drove to the studio. The last thing she needed was to find Sajida planning the proposal day. She wanted to deal with this on her own without the interference of anyone. So she drove quietly at a very slow speed till she reached the studio praying that Fahad won’t be around.

Santosh was there moving from one place to the other as usual. It was around 7pm. She asked him to leave for the day and she took over. The studio was small in size but rich in content. It was a rectangular space, with a transparent door as the entrance. The armchairs were placed in the corner between two walls with framed paintings and themed photos. The walls were not painted, she intended to leave them as they were; bare with cement. It reflected an artistic natural look on the studio and it directed the attention of the viewer to the photos right away. The flooring was dark brown parquet that added a vintage touch to the whole place. Her desk was classic, wooden and tiny with a flat screen computer and different pieces of funky accessories.

She walked to the wall, which was facing the door and stared at a framed postcard of the Drowning Girl painting that she got from Museum of Modern Art in New York. The painting was a comic drawing of a woman who was drowning in her own tears with a bubble saying: I don’t care. I’d rather sink than call Brad for help. She stared at the woman carefully, at her blue hair and her hand that was calling for help out of all the tears that surrounded her whole face. But yet, she resisted, and refused to call Brad for help. She was always curious to know the story behind that painting. Who’s Brad? And what did he do to her that hurt her that bad? She never figured it out. And today, out of all days, she felt the connection. She found herself somewhere in that painting. The possibility of Fahad lying again, a lie that wasn’t just a lie but a life changing matter, made her feel like she was sinking, just like the Drowning Girl. Something in that painting spoke to her and enlightened her. Calling Fahad to figure out the truth wasn’t the right thing to do. The Drowning Girl was smart enough not to call Brad, and so thought Yara. She decided to get help from another source, and so she reached for her phone and called Sara.

“I need you to tell me the whole story behind Fahad’s divorce” said Yara after picking Sara up and going for a drive.

“Didn’t he tell you already?”

“He did. But so did she” said Yara with a quick stare at Sara.

“You talked to Alia?”

“Yes. And Fahad doesn’t know”

“Can you park somewhere or can we go sit somewhere? It’s dangerous to drive and discuss a sensitive issue like that” requested Sara.

Yara was driving along Adhari highway. She turned right by the waterfall and then again right towards Veranda. She parked in front of the nearby complex, opened the widows and turned off the engine, “Tell me” she said turning to Sara.

“First you have to tell me what you have heard from both sides” said Sara.

“No. I want to know what you know first.”

“But I don’t want you to get more confused. Tell me so I could put it in the right context while telling you”

“Won’t make a difference.” Insisted Yara.

“As you wish. You know that they had issues conceiving right?”

“I only found out today”

“Today?!”

“Yes. Alia told me assuming that I already knew”

Sara got suddenly nervous, “You need to tell me what Fahad told you about this”

“Nothing”

“Then how did he explain his divorce?”

“He said that she didn’t want any children. He lied, right?” asked Yara looking at Sara in the eyes.

“What did Alia say exactly?”

“She said, that.. he is unable” said Yara in difficulty.

Sara took a deep breath, “This is not exactly right”

“What do you mean?” asked Yara with a spark of hope in her eyes.

“They both had problems. They went through many tests but it didn’t work out so we don’t really know who’s able and who’s not!”

“But…there must be clear results for those tests!”

“It was complicated, for both. I’m shocked that Alia didn’t admit that she had problems too!”

“Doesn’t matter. He lied again!”

“I’m sure that he didn’t mean to..”

“Nothing can justify this. This is more like dragging me into a life where he had no idea where it’s heading!!”

“Don’t jump to conclusions. They both had problems so it’s normal that they weren’t able to conceive together. Doesn’t mean that they can’t at all even with other people!”

“But I had every right to know!! How could he propose to someone without mentioning that? It is a big deal!! A very big deal!” said Yara sharply.

“Yes, you’re right. But don’t let anger control you now. Think of what made him hide this, he really loves you Yara..”

“Please don’t tell him anything about this. I will deal with it on my own” said Yara and started driving.

 

After dropping Sara back to the house and driving back home in silence, Yara was glad that she didn’t find Sajida spending her evening in her usual spot in front of TV. She walked into her room, dropped her handbag on the floor and sat on her bed holding her phone. Few minutes later, she dialed Dalal’s number….

“Hello?” answered Dalal excitedly.

“Hey Dalool. How are you?”

“I’m good how are you doing? Are you ok?” asked Dalal in her usual hyper mood.

“I..no.. I am not” said Yara hesitant.

“What’s the matter?” asked Dalal in a total shift of mood.

“Is your dad in town?”

“Yes, he is. Why?”

“Is it possible to see him?”

“Oh my god why?” panicked Dalal.

“No no it’s not me. I just need to discuss something with him and ask some questions”

“You realize that my father is a gynecologist right?”

“Yes, of course! How can I forget”

“Ok. You want to come to our house tomorrow morning? He will be home”

“Yes, the sooner the better. But I’ll need to speak to him privately”

“I can arrange. Will you tell me what’s going?” asked Dalal curiously.

Yara explained to Dalal the whole situation and was instantly relieved to open up to someone who was a good listener. Dalal was into the conversation passionately commenting every now and then with shock and disbelief. They spoke as if nothing had ever come between them, as if they were that close to each other yesterday and the day before. All those months apart suddenly felt as if it didn’t exist. At first, Yara felt guilty for using Dalal when she needed her. After feeling calm and relaxed, she realized that she was waiting for an excuse or a push to get in touch with her. And she was really glad that she did.

Just when she was about to go to bed, Fahad called. She stared at his name not knowing what to do. She didn’t want to talk to him but at the same time she didn’t want him to sense that something was wrong. Not before she does her own research and find out the real deal.

“Hello”

“Hey.. Where have you been?”

“I…was…with Tamara today”

“Why? What did you do?”

“She needed to buy a gift for her friend so we went shopping”

“That’s nice. I was with Osama and the guys all day, just got home.”

“Hmm”

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Why?”

“You’re not usually that quiet!”

“It was a long day and I just got into bed. I really need to sleep” she said faking a yawn.

“Go to sleep then. We’ll talk tomorrow” he said sweetly.

“Good night”

Her head was buried in her fluffy pillow and her thick quilt was covering it. She was surprisingly proud of herself. Proud of how she didn’t rush to confront him like she usually did. Maybe she was finally ready for marriage after all.

The next morning, Yara woke up early and headed to Dalal’s house. The hyper mother was too excited to see her after all this time. She squeezed and welcomed her warmly just like the old days. After having breakfast and catching up with the family, Yara, Dalal and the father went to his home office and discussed the matter privately. Yara asked him about the condition that Sara explained. She needed a medical explanation and maybe some future options or possibilities. He was very frank with her, he couldn’t tell her anything since he had no details of the cases. But he assured her that if any two couldn’t conceive together, it doesn’t mean that they both never will.

After hugging Dalal passionately and thanking her for her help, Yara left Dalal’s house and went to Nadia’s. Nadia was in bed and the curtains were down. Yara jumped on the bed, hugged Nadia and kissed her cheek several times. “You missed me!” said Nadia pushing her away.

“Yes” admitted Yara with a grin as she lay next to her.

“What happened at Dalal’s?”

“Nothing new. What Sara said could be possible. But it’s not that, it’s the fact that he lied. It’s the lie that I won’t be able to get over”

“You’re calm now. No longer angry”

“I guess”

“Then maybe it’s time to talk about it with him?”

“I was thinking about that. I should do it today. Only two days are left for the proposal”

“But you have to be as calm as you are now, don’t lose your temper or else things will get out of hand”

“I’ll try. What happened with you?”

“We didn’t talk about it. Mohammed left last night and my parents are coming back after tomorrow. Time off for now”

“How do you feel?” she asked smiling.

“I can’t believe that Mohammed met my parents. It felt weird after all this time. But I am really happy and both of us are so into it now. I don’t think that we’ll bear staying away from each other again”

“You surrendered?” teased Yara.

“Yes” said Nadia covering her face with her hands.

“And you’ll fight for it?”

“Yes” affirmed Nadia happily.

“At least one of us will have a happy ending”

“Don’t say that. We both will inshalla. Now call Fahad and tell him that you need to see him” said Nadia and got off her bed.

 

“You’re pale! You need to eat” said Fahad as he sat in the café with a Tuna sandwich in his hand and a glass of Orange juice in front of him.

“No, I had heavy breakfast” said Yara as she sat next to him on the same sofa.

“You must be stressed then. Are you nervous about Tuesday? You still have time to change your mind” teased Fahad and took a bite.

“No, no, it’s not that”

“What is it then? Tell me.”

“I met Alia yesterday”

“What? Why?” he put the sandwich down.

“I’ll be honest with you Fahad but please don’t be angry. We are getting married and I had every right to ask her about you”

“Ask her about me? If you have me why would you need to ask anyone about me?” he asked in anger.

“It’s different..” she said still calm.

“And what did she tell you? Anything that I don’t know about?”

“Things that I didn’t know about”

Fahad rested his back on the sofa and looked away nervously.

“Why didn’t you tell me Fahad?”

“What did she tell you?” he repeated the question with clinched teeth.

“You lied again”

“Answer my question!” he bended forward.

“The tale that you came up with about her not wanting to become a mother is far from being true”

“Talking to her behind my back means that you don’t have trust in me!” he said furious.

“You keep on lying Fahad. And you talk to me about trust?”

Fahad rested his elbows on his knees and scratched his almost bald head with both hands, “Have you even thought about why I hide or.. lie as you say?”

“Yes. But…what if Alia was right, and..” she said trying hard to put the words together.

“Don’t finish” he interrupted.

“Then tell me! Tell me why you lied about this! You know how much I love you and you know that if you were honest with me I would’ve married you no matter what!” she said exploding.

“I didn’t know you well back then. And since me and Alia were never sure of the problems we had…”

“You are making it sound so easy when it’s not. You are dragging me into this marriage blindly. I had every right to know. And I asked you recently about it and you refused to answer.” She said with her anger starting to rise.

“Listen to me” he said and put his hand on her shoulder, “don’t allow this to come between us. Not a couple of days before things get official.”

She remained quiet and lowered her head. “We went through a lot till we reached this stage. And we are old enough to understand each other in such situations. I don’t know what Alia told you, but I assure you that the reasons behind being unable to conceive are unknown for both of us.”

“It’s the 21st century. Your tests must have said something! And was this the reason why you got divorced? Only that?”

“Mainly yes, but we lost patience and were not able to deal with each other. It got complicated between the two of us emotionally. Our personalities wouldn’t click anymore. We didn’t have the will nor the power to fight for it. And things reached to a dead end”

“Why didn’t you say all that before? You know how much I appreciate honesty. And…” she said and he interrupted her “ssshhhh” he said and covered her mouth with his hand “enough said. What happened had happened. This was in the past. Now you know that there is a chance that I won’t be able to give you children. Even if it’s a small percentage, now you know. But the question is, are you willing to take the risk?”

She took a deep breath and looked at him in the eyes, “You know how much I love you, and I want nothing from this life but to be with you. You saved my family and you are everything a woman dreams of. And I think that…”

Chapter 17. Disclosures

“My parents? What do they got to do with this?” asked Nadia confused.

“If I got to convince your parents then nothing else will stand in my way” affirmed Mohammed.

“What about me? I told you a million times how I’m not ok with it! What’s the use of talking to my parents if you still didn’t get my approval?” screamed Nadia in disbelief.

“I know how much you want this” he said calmly.

“Want what? Can we speak clearly and start being specific about what we want?” she asked angrily.

“I want you to be mine. I want us to be together again.”

“How?” she asked sharply.

“By getting married!” he said finally.

“Mohammed, can you remember why we didn’t get married at first place?”

“Because I left the country. And you, yourself, said that it was a mistake”

“Yes, it was a mistake back then. But it doesn’t mean that I can do that now!”

“I understand. It’s not possible to come over there while I’m living with my wife and son. But, I’ve been considering moving back to Bahrain for a while!” he confessed.

“Oh no! What happened to that bright career that you left your whole life for?”

“It was the right thing to do seven years ago. People change..”

“This is a mess Mohammed. You are messing up your life!”

“You are absolutely wrong. I am being brave by trying to fight for a life that I’ve always wanted”

“Fine. Let’s say that you’ll quit your job and come back here. Then what?”

“We’ll have our own life. Me and you”

“And your wife? Your son?”

“I can be fair to you both. Reem is understanding. She will understand.” He said confident.

“So you want me to be your second wife and share you with another woman? You think that this is easy? First of all, it will cause me a lot of pain. Second, what will people think of me? The woman who stole a man from his wife? Don’t you hear about such stories every single day and how it’s affecting our community and the children?” she screamed.

“Can you stop screaming and discuss this like mature people do? Nadia, we are not old. We have our whole lives ahead of us. The examples that you are talking about are old men who waited for their children to grow up and for their wives to age to finally have the courage to move on! I am not like them at all. I am doing this right now because it’s easier to go for it now and not later when my children grow old” he explained.

“What is this mentality? Why does it have to happen? One woman is not enough for you?” she asked in disgust.

“It’s not that. I told you that I don’t love Reem, and that I am not happy. Sooner or later I will get fed up and move on. Fate brought you back into my life when I really needed you. How do you want me to let you go?”

“I will never live in peace being a second wife”

“But we will talk to Reem. We won’t do it behind her back like the normal scenario goes”

“Come on! Reem hates me just for the fact of me being your X. How do you expect her to approve this?”

“She wouldn’t want to lose me”

“That won’t make me any less of a sinner in people’s eyes”

“Why do you care so much about what people think? To hell with them!” he said in a high tone.

“Because it will affect my life in every aspect. My relations with others, my image, my new shop, it will all be affected!”

“You’re saying that your life will be miserable if we get married?”

“No, of course not.”

“Nadia, I need you to answer this question honestly. Aside from all this mess, do you want to be with me?” he asked sensibly.

Nadia stayed quiet for few seconds and took a deep breath, “Yes. I do”

“And there is nothing I want more in this life. So let’s try and work it out. We owe this a try. And if we fail again, we won’t have any regrets later for a life that we could’ve had”

“You are right. I get your point. But…”

“I know, you are worried about my son, my career, and everything that will have to change. But you know me more than that. I am responsible enough. You have to trust me. Be sure that I will never do anything that will cause you pain. Let me talk to your parents.”

“My parents are still in Munich” she said saved by a good excuse.

“Even better, I can go to Munich for the weekend.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes! It’s a 2 hour flight!”

“You’re getting me all nervous. What will you say to them?”

“I will explain our situation and convince them of my plan” he said easily.

“So you thought about it already!” she said feeling a twinge in her tummy.

“Of course!”

“Today is Monday. You’re going on Friday?”

“Yes. I will book now”

“Then…I must be there too!”

“It will make things much easier, yes”

“I think.. it’s better if I go and talk to them first, before you get there” she said hesitant.

“If you have a visa you can go right away!” he said happily.

The next morning, Yara woke up early and headed to the studio. As relieved as she was that the debt was taken care of, she was certain that it was time to sell the studio in order to pay Fahad his money back. She passed by the café for her usual take-out skinny Latte and went to the studio focused and ready to face reality. “Good morning Madame” said Santosh as she entered.

“Hello Santosh. How are things?”

“Mr. George came yesterday and took his photos”

“Great. Are the ones we sent for framing ready?”

“Not yet. But I will go today and check”

“Ok. But before you go, I need to tell you something” she said as she walked to her desk and sat down. “There is a big chance that the studio will be sold soon”

“Oh! Sell it? Close the shop?” he said in an Indian accent.

“Yes Santosh. I am telling you so you can start looking for another job”

“Madame. This is sad. What will you do?” he asked concerned.

“Well, as a start, I’m getting married” she said now smiling.

“I know I know. Mr. Fahad right?” he asked in joy.

Yara laughed, “Yes”.

“Congratulations Madame”

“Thank you. But, if you see Mr. Fahad, don’t mention anything about selling this studio. Please”

“Ok Madame.” He said and was about to go out. “Santosh, I can talk to Nadia and see if you can work at her new shop instead” she suggested.

“Yes Madame” he nodded in contentment and headed out.

Yara rested her back on the chair and stared at the place. It was her passion that was displayed on those walls. How can she let go of it? Fahad’s merger idea occurred to her suddenly. She thought about giving him the studio in return of the debt he paid. But knowing him, he wouldn’t accept it. He will agree and let her continue using the studio in addition to dropping the debt. There was no other option but to sell.

She heard the door open while she was facing the other way. She turned the chair around to see Dalal by the door. “May I come in?” said Dalal with her obvious blond highlights that showed more in her curls.

“Yes. Sure” said Yara surprised.

“How are you?” asked Dalal as she walked to her and kissed her.

“I’m fine. You?”

“I’m good.” She said as they both took a seat on the armchairs.

“Don’t you have work today?”

“I’m on leave”

“How can I help you?” asked Yara straight ahead.

“I.. actually came here… to apologize”

Yara let out a sarcastic laugh, “apologize? About what or what or what…”

“I know that what I did to you is unforgivable. It’s the worst thing that any friend could do to the other. But we never got the chance to even talk about it”

“And say what? You didn’t stop at a certain point. You kept on going and causing more harm”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say. I can’t think of an excuse, I meant everything I did. But I am sorry”

“So you just want my forgiveness?”

“Yes. And I hope that we can be friends again”

“We are not kids Dalal. It’s not like you broke a toy or something. You tried to break a relationship!” said Yara loudly.

“I know. It was big. But now I can see it. I can see how bad it was and I am really sorry”

“Are you sure? Or are you just getting lonely since you lost your friends?”

“Of course I miss you! And yes I am feeling lonely. But look at you now, you are getting married. You won over my bad intentions”

“Exactly, bad intentions. I can easily forgive you. But how can I be your friend again?”

“I understand, I really do. But why do we have to be out of each other’s lives completely? We don’t have to be best friends, but it would be nice to stay in touch and hang out from time to time. For the sake of the old days!”

“I don’t know. I feel like I will have to pretend to be fine while I’m not”

“I’m very happy that you and Fahad are getting married. I really mean it. And I do regret getting between you two. I am a human being and I make mistakes. Yara, I know that there are some habits that you don’t like in me. But this is who I always was and you accepted me that way.”

Yara stayed quiet staring at the floor.

“I really love you. You and Nadia were my whole life. And my life is just too empty right now. I’m really sorry” said Dalal as she got up, kissed Yara on the cheek and left the studio.

For a moment, she felt like she was pulling a Sajida on Dalal. All her life she dreaded the thought of growing old and becoming another version of her mother. She was sure that she never would though because of the huge difference between their personalities. But as she sat there on the armchair, she noticed that it really was starting to happen. Her dry and careless attitude with Dalal and how she didn’t even consider forgiving her was something that Sajida would do.

“Are you in the shop?” asked Yara as soon as Nadia picked up her call.

“No. Why?”

“Just asking. Last night I told you that Fahad’s family will finally come to propose but you weren’t the usual excited you.”

“I wasn’t?” asked Nadia distracted.

“Where are you?”

“Al Aali mall”

“Why?”

“Why are you questioning me? I need to buy some stuff!”

“You’re tensed. What’s going on?”

“Nothing.”

“Nadia, what is going on?” asked Yara again sharply.

“Come here. We’ll talk”

After one hour, Yara and Nadia met in Armani Café. “I’m, leaving to Munich tonight” said Nadia.

“WHAT?” gasped Yara in shock.

“I will be back before Tuesday. Don’t panic”

“Is your dad ok?”

“Yes. It’s Mohammed”

“What happened to him?” asked Yara scared.

“Nothing. Chill girl!”

“Talk clearly!”

“We’ll meet in Munich this weekend. He wants to..talk to my parents”

“HE’S PROPOSING?” screamed Yara and all the waiters turned around. Yara and Nadia were the only customers there.

“Shh. No!”

“I don’t understand!” said Yara in total confusion.

“He wants to meet them and discuss our situation. If they are fine with it, he wants to move to the next stage”

“Wow! That’s big”

“And you blame me for being tensed”

“What about his family? His job?”

“He wants to work it out. He’s saying that he’s got a plan”

“And you’re ok with all that?”

“I don’t know. This time he didn’t give me a chance to object. He was pretty convincing”

“This is scary. Are you even ready to leave tonight?”

“Trying to do as much as possible. That’s why I came here”

“I don’t mean to sound selfish but I really need you here this week”

“I’m so sorry. The most important thing is that I’ll be here by Tuesday”

“I’ll go crazy planning everything with my mum” said Yara worried.

“She’s much easier now and even fun to hang out with”

“Oh well. I have no other choice”

Nadia traveled that night with a very vague idea about what was going on and what might happen in Munich. It wasn’t easy to believe that the reason she was traveling was to talk to her parents about Mohammed. It was something that was supposed to happen long years ago, but it never did. And now, after all what they have both been through, the time has come for that to happen? She was kind of sure that her parents wouldn’t accept it. But she believed that it was worth a try and that it’s not fair to fight any less than Mohammed was fighting for it. During her flight to Munich, she thought about all those things with her eyes wide open. Her parents were always understanding and supportive. But will they still understand that their own daughter could be a second wife? The only hope that Nadia had was the fact that she was divorced, and that could help in convincing her parents as divorced women have less chances of getting re-married to the perfect guy. It was the way the old generation thought and it was a good string to play.

The next morning, Yara and Sajida were supposed to go furniture shopping to change and maybe add some pieces in the formal sitting room. Yara was totally against the idea for financial reasons but Sajida insisted. She thought that their furniture was outdated and it won’t be appropriate for the proposal. They agreed that they would only change few pieces and home accessories within a budget.

Yara overslept that morning, and she only woke up when Fahad called at 11am. “Still sleeping?” asked Fahad as he heard her sleepy voice.

“What time is it?”

“It’s 11! Get up”

“Oh no! Why didn’t anyone wake me up?” she got off bed.

“Weren’t you supposed to go out with your mum?”

“Exactly” she said as she left her room looking around for anyone but the house was deserted. “Where is everybody?” she wondered upset.

“You sound like your house is always full of people!” joked Fahad.

“Tamara is in school but where is the queen?” she walked to Sajida’s bedroom and opened the door. Sajida was sitting on the floor next to one of her cupboards with heaps of clothes around her. “What are you doing?” asked Yara.

“What do I look like doing? De-cluttering!”

“What about the furniture?” wondered Yara with her phone still on her ear.

“You’re the one who just woke up” said Sajida folding a mustard yellow cardigan.

“You could’ve woke me up!” whined Yara.

“Too late. They close in an hour.  We’ll go at 4”

“Ooooh” said Yara upset and left the room.

“What are you going to do now?” asked Fahad.

“I don’t know. I need my cup of coffee and then I will be able to think”

“Come to the café. Have your coffee with me and let’s chat a bit”

“I’ll probably have to pass by the studio. I’ll change and come” she ended the call.

“It’s been a while since we sat together and had a decent conversation” said Fahad sitting in the café with Yara.

“I know. Feels good!” said Yara and sipped her coffee in comfort.

“Many good days to come” he said with a smile.

Inshalla. I want to fast forward all those formalities; the proposal, the melcha, and I just want to close my eyes and open it to find myself living with you in one place” she said dreamy.

“Why the rush? Enjoy all of those steps!”

“You know me. I’m not as patient as you are”

“I like that. Creates balance between how I am and how you are”

“Can I ask you something that’s been on my mind lately?”

“Sure” he said with his arm resting behind his head.

“How come Alia is still in good terms with you and the family?”

“Just because we got a divorce doesn’t mean that we have to be in bad terms” he answered casually.

“But..i don’t know..” she said puzzled.

“Are you jealous?” he teased.

“No. Of course not. But she is a very nice woman as far as I’ve seen and your family obviously loves her. How is it possible that she doesn’t want to become a mother?”

Fahad’s face expression suddenly changed. He looked nervous and looked the other way.

“What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. Can we not talk about this?” he said a bit upset.

Inshalla” she obeyed in oppose to the doubt that was only increasing inside of her head.

Nadia and her parents were having tea in the lobby of The Mandarin Oriental in Munich. Both her parents were uncomfortable about meeting Mohammed and the whole marriage idea. They didn’t object, but they were a little agitated. Their mood didn’t force Nadia to make any changes on the plan. Mohammed was arriving to the hotel any minute and the three of them waited silently.

“What brings you all the way here son?” asked Nadia’s father right after he was introduced to Mohammed.

“I….” started Mohammed nervously.

“Nadia explained your situation to us, but I want to hear it from you” said the father calmly.

“I lost Nadia once before, and, I, can’t spare losing her again” said Mohammed with his white cheeks turning rosey.

Nadia’s mum sat quietly with her left hand folded on her chest and her head rested on her right hand while Nadia sat up cautiously with a straight back and her hands on her lap. It was a man-to-man conversation and both ladies stayed out of it and listened.

“But the situation was different before. You have your own family now and she’s a divorcee. Why are you wishing to complicate things for yourself?” asked the father still very calm.

“To be honest with you, I was never happy with my current life. I have got the career that I always dreamed of and I am settled. But..”

Nadia’s father was dark skinned and a bit chubby. His looks never failed to present his wise personality and high status. His big nose, that was similar to his wife’s since they were first cousins, was a trademark in the family. Luckily, Nadia didn’t get it. His first name, Salah, was representing his looks and personality very well. He was sitting facing Mohammed in his posh black over coat that gave the impression that he was ready to cut the conversation and walk out the hotel any minute.

“You think that Nadia will make you happy?” asked the father.

“Yes” answered Mohammed shyly looking at the ground.

“What about your family? Having two wives is never easy”

“My wife is understanding. And, if everything goes well, she will be the first to know about it even before it happens” said Mohammed politely.

“And why do you think that we will accept giving our only daughter to a married man?” said the father and took a sip of tea.

“I think, Nadia can answer this” he said turning his head to Nadia.

“The fact that Nadia introduced you to us proves that it’s what she wants too. But I want to hear your answer” said the father.

“I am sure that Nadia’s happiness is important to you. And the fact that her first marriage failed to make her happy will make you consider this”

“What are you planning to do?”

“Go back to Bahrain for good. If you grant me this, I promise that I will give Nadia everything that she deserves. And she knows it”

“Listen to me my son. Now that I listened to you I can tell you what I think.” Said the father with his hand holding his chin. Nadia’s heart started racing as she turned her body 90 degrees around to face her father nervously.

“No woman in this world accepts sharing her husband with another woman. If we accept and you marry Nadia, both women will suffer. This will only lead to you getting lost in the middle. Even if your wife understands and accepts this marriage, what about Nadia? Will she bear sharing you with someone else? Will you bear it? Since you said that you are currently not happy and you will find your happiness with Nadia, that means that you will favor Nadia over your wife. That will also complicate things for your son. It’s very complicated. Keeping one family standing is hard enough for a man, how about two?” he said and took another sip of tea while awkward silence covered the place. “I don’t want to stand between my daughter and what she wants. She is old enough to decide for herself. But at the same time I don’t want to grant her a complicated life” he continued.

“Baba, will you please allow us to talk about this? Me and him, privately?” asked Nadia in sudden courage.

The father took a deep breath, turned to the mother, “What do you think?” he asked.

“They should talk about it” she said nodding.

“Go somewhere and talk. You are both old and mature to know what’s best for you. Try to keep your emotions aside and think with your brain today” said the father.

“Thank you” said Mohammed as he stood up pleased.

“Be rational in your discussion today” said the father as Mohammed shook his hand, shook the mother’s hand, excused himself and left the hotel with Nadia.

Although it was three degrees in Munich that day, Nadia couldn’t think of a better place to have a quiet conversation with Mohammed other than the English Garden. It was sunny with some fluffy clouds moving along with the wind. She was wearing a baby pink woolen hat with her big waves falling over her shoulders, white overcoat that had huge golden buttons, and a beige pashmina with small embroidered flowers was wrapped around her neck. The wind was moving towards them as they walked through the garden and she found herself holding Mohammed’s arm tightly to survive it. They both laughed at their stupidity for coming to the garden in this freezing weather, till they reached a small bridge that overlooked a tiny waterfall. “Thank you” said Nadia as she turned around and faced him while they stood on the bridge.

“What for?” he asked smiling.

“For coming all the way here”

“You know that I’d do anything to be with you”

“What do you think will happen now?” she placed her hands in her pockets.

“We both know that we want this more than anything else. And I don’t think that your father’s words will change anything. Right?” he asked looking at her in the eyes.

“He made sense though. How will I stand sharing you with another woman?” she asked feeling the jealousy starting.

“I’ve been with another woman for years!”

“But you weren’t mine”

“You know that I loved you all the way” he said staring at the waterfall.

“Do you feel like you’re cheating on her when you’re with me?”

“I don’t know”

“Do you even care about her feelings?”

“In a way, yes. But it won’t stop me from being with you” he said looking back at her.

“My parents were not ok with the idea. They will need more time and more convincing”

“Leave that aside now. Are you convinced?”

“Am I convinced?” she asked confused as they started walking again.

“Before we came here you weren’t convinced. You were still fighting back”

“I thought that you knew that I was resisting for your own good” she looked at him with crossed eyebrows.

“I did. And that’s why I insisted” he said with a grin.

“I missed this smile..” she said staring at him and losing the resistance fight. He surrounded her with his arm in a side hug as their heads touched. There was nothing left to discuss.

“Hey Yara” said Alia as she walked into Crepe Café and headed directly to Yara’s table.

“Hey, thank you for agreeing to see me” said Yara as she stood up and shook her hand.

“My pleasure. I hope that everything is ok?” asked Alia concerned and took a seat.

“Yes everything is fine. It’s just some regular questions that the new fiancé has for the x-wife” said Yara with a smile.

“That should be fun” said Alia with a laugh as the waiter came with the menus.

“I know what I want. Nutella Crepe & Skimmed Latte please” ordered Yara.

“Tempting. Make them two but with a Cappuccino” said Alia.

“How is Fahad? Is he feeling better?”

“Yeah. It’s hard to keep him away from sweets though”

“He’s a stubborn kid that’s his problem…” said Alia and kept on talking about Fahad and his diabetes. Yara watched her as she spoke and her jealousy grew with every word. She watched her beautiful lips that were covered with red lipstick, her wide eyes and perfect long lashes that went up and down as she blinked. That woman used to belong to Fahad. Those lips, those eyes, and that thick black hair was Fahad’s.

The waitress came with the coffee cups and woke Yara up from her deep thoughts. “Tell me. What questions do you have for me?” asked Alia.

“Can you, tell me why you got divorced? Of course Fahad told me but I’d like to hear it from your side” asked Yara nicely.

“Yeah, I understand. We, women, look at things differently so I’m sure you’ll understand the situation differently from my side.”

“Yeah, men barely speak.”

“But let me tell you first that I admire how brave you are. You must really love Fahad”

“Brave? Why?”

“Because you agreed to marry Fahad knowing that he can never be a father!”

“Never be a father?”

“He told you that he is unable to, right?” said Alia….

Chapter 16. Decisions

Sajida was sitting in her usual spot in the sitting room in front of TV nibbling on some seeds when Yara got back home. She stood in front of her mother blocking the screen and pretended to scratch her face with her right hand, “Notice something different?” asked Yara holding back a smile.

“Oh My!!” said Sajida as she stood up, pulled Yara’s hand and stared at the ring with sparkling eyes.

“What do you think?” asked Yara happily.

“Speechless! This is worth a fortune!”

“Isn’t it beautiful?”

“Beautiful and valuable! You have chosen the right person my dear. I can congratulate you now” said Sajida as she gave Yara a quick and cold hug.

Yara was overwhelmed by her mother’s hug. It was their first hug for as far as she can remember. She was sure that it meant something to her mother too. Sajida was really happy at that moment to see her daughter engaged and not just to see that huge diamond on her finger.

“Mama, I’m sorry that I’ll have to put your happiness on hold for a moment. But there is something important that you should know” said Yara sitting down.

“How I hate bad news. Make it quick” said Sajida with her attention back on TV.

“That man that we owe money called again few days ago”

What does he want? Didn’t you just pay him?”

“Yes, but it was a small amount and he wants the remaining balance”

“Why can’t he be patient? He wants us to sell the house? Because that’s all we have left!” said Sajida angrily.

“I don’t know. But he threatened to go to court so we better come up with something”

“Why don’t you ask Fahad to lend us the amount?”

“No way! Impossible!”

“Then what other option do you have?”

“I’m thinking of…selling the studio” said Yara hesitant.

“Finally!” said Sajida and cracked a seed with her teeth.

“I could sell my photos in Nadia’s new shop or even in the café. The only thing is that.. baba gave me that place. It’s special to me” said Yara sadly.

“Well, it’s his debt at the end of the day! It’s like you’re giving it back to him”

Ignoring her mother’s comment, Yara got up and poured herself an Estikana of Black Tea. “One more thing” she said as she sat down holding it carefully.

“Please, enough for today!”

“Let’s just get done with this please. We can’t keep on paying for Tamara’s school.”

“There is no way that I’m getting her out of this school” snapped Sajida.

“But can’t you see how much we have to pay for it? I can’t keep on managing the amount”

“You’re getting married now! You won’t need to spend on yourself, he will spend on you. So use the money you earn for the school!” said Sajida easily.

“Spend on myself? When was the last time I went shopping or spoiled myself in a spa? You spend more than I do!! All my money goes to the house!”

“I told you to find yourself a job but you never listened”

“So I could pay for my sister’s school? It’s not just my responsibility! You are responsible too!”

“Don’t give me a headache. Sell the studio, pay the man and then use the rest of the money for your sister’s tuition. End of topic” said Sajida as she raised the volume of the TV.

 

The next morning, Yara and Nadia were doing more work in Nadia’s shop. “I have to take a picture of you in this hideous outfit” said Nadia and took a picture with her phone of Yara standing on a ladder wearing a dungaree with a bandanna on her head.

“If you want to blackmail me and send this to Fahad then be sure that I don’t care”

“You look like a blast from the 90’s” said Nadia laughing.

All that she wants, is another baby…” sang Yara.

“That would make a lovely theme for one of your shoots! Back to the 90’s!” said Nadia excited.

“Don’t remind me. If I sell the studio there will be no more themes. Just random framed pictures hanging somewhere..”

“There is no other solution ha?” asked Nadia sadly.

“Can you think of any?” asked Yara as she walked down the ladder.

“Let me lend you the money!” suggested Nadia sweetly.

“No! I’d rather take a loan from a bank and pay interest than take the money from anyone! We’re not talking about a hundred or two, it’s thousands!”

“Do whatever you want. But do you think that Fahad will allow you to sell the studio? I don’t think so”

“I won’t tell him!”

“What? You want to cause more problems between you two?” asked Nadia in shock.

“Nadia I really don’t have any other choice! He will understand later on” she said as she sat on one of the packed boxes.

“I really think that you’re doing a big mistake”

“Leave that now. You promised that you will tell me what happened with Mohammad yesterday!”

Nadia smiled and sat on a wooden chair, “he wants me back” she said without any introductions.

“WHAT!!”

“Don’t panic. He just said that we should do something about it, and not let this chance go by once again!”

“Wow! And?”

“I said that I would never ruin his stable marriage”

“But is he willing to ruin it?”

“I don’t know. I think so, but he wasn’t clear. All he said was that we should think of a way. But it doesn’t matter because nothing can happen”

“Are you sure? This is the love of your life asking you to be with him. After all what you’ve been through, you think that you should let go of him again?”

“He said that we should think of ourselves and not make this about others. But what kind of life will I have then? I asked him not to call me again. I basically pushed him away. I can’t even think of the possibility of me causing him trouble”

“But it’s what you both want!”

“It’s too late..”

“I feel bad. I’m part of the reason why you let him go back then” said Yara.

“Of course. You are a big part of my life and you shouldn’t feel bad!”

“It’s really hard to believe. He is back and willing to try again!” said Yara shaking her head.

“Let’s just forget about it and go have something to eat? Food is always the solution” suggested Nadia as she got up.

“Totally..” said Yara.

 

One week later:

It was a Monday afternoon. Fahad, Yara, Nadia, Osama and Sara were having lunch in Maki. Yara was against the idea of showing up with Fahad in public since their engagement news spread and there wasn’t any official proposal yet. But Fahad managed to convince her by playing the recovering-from-sickness card. He also convinced her that it’s time to make Nadia and Osama pay attention to each other. With everything that happened to Nadia recently, Yara thought that it might be a good idea to do this in order for her to get her thoughts off Mohammad.

They were seated in the center of the dining area on a rectangular table, where Yara and Nadia sat next to each other faced by Fahad and Osama. Sara was left with the seat between Osama and Nadia. The girls got engaged in their own conversation after they were handed the menu. Fahad took that chance and moved closer to Osama, “What do you think of her?” he whispered.

“Who?” wondered Osama.

“Who else? I will never ask you to check out my fiancé or my sister!”

Osama laughed, “Nadia? She’s..nice”

“Nice? Only?” he said disappointed.

“What more do you want me to say?”

“She’s a good catch! Just keep that in mind” said Fahad and opened the menu.

Yara picked up her phone and BBMed Nadia:

Yara: He’s hot right?

Nadia’s phone was blinking but she didn’t care to check her messages. “You have a message!” said Yara. “Yeah, never mind” said Nadia carelessly. “Check it!” said Yara hitting her leg. Nadia understood, picked her phone, read the message and typed back:

Nadia: Who? Fahad?

Yara: Oh no! The only other guy on the table maybe?

Nadia: Haha you’re funny. Now you really wish that it was him you’re engaged to?

Yara: You are so stupid. You check him out for yourself!!!!!!!

Nadia: LOL, OSAMA? AHAHAHAH..i’m not 19 anymore!

Nadia had a laugh on her face that she was trying hard to hide while she typed. She put her phone away and went back to the menu.

“We must order Yara Maki” said Fahad jokingly. They all laughed, “it’s my least favorite unfortunately” said Yara.

“Most important thing is Edamame Salad” said Sara.

“Yeah that’s for sure” said Osama while flipping the menu.

Just when the waiter came to take the order, Yara’s phone rang. “Yes mama?”

“You need to come home right now!!” ordered Sajida in panic.

“What’s going on?” asked Yara scared.

“Some men are here and they want to get inside and evaluate our belongings! They have a court order” screamed Sajida in terror.

“He did it!! I’ll be there now, ask them to wait” said Yara as she ended the call, picked up her bag and walked away without saying a word.

“What’s going on?” asked Fahad, but she didn’t look back and kept walking.

“Yara, wait. What’s the matter??” asked Fahad as he ran after her in the parking lot.

“I have to be home right now we’ll talk later” she said reaching her car.

“Let me drive at least”

“No. Please, Fahad, I’m in a hurry” she ordered.

“I will drop you home. You don’t have to explain. I’ll just drop you” he begged.

“FINE” she said frustrated as she gave him her car keys and hurried to the passenger seat.

It was a ten minutes drive that passed so slowly for both of them. Yara was absent minded and worried throughout the whole drive and Fahad respected the space that she asked for and stayed quiet.

The moment he parked in front of Yara’s house he saw two Bahraini men in Thoab standing by the gate, “Who are these men? What’s going on?” asked Fahad confused.

“Go back to lunch. It’s nothing” she said as she opened the door.

Fahad ignored her and got out of the car after turning off the engine. “What kind of a man do you think I am? To leave three ladies, who’ll be my family in no time, deal with strange men on their own? If you are not used to having a man who takes care of those things then it’s time for you to start doing so! You can’t deal with everything on your own!” he said seriously and roughly. Yara stared at him with a blank face. She couldn’t argue. He made total sense and gave her no option but to give up.

“How can I help you?” said Fahad as he approached the men. They gave him the court order and he read it carefully. He then turned around to Yara, “Is this from the man you owe money to?”

“Yes”

Sajida came out after seeing Fahad and Yara through the window and stood by Yara’s side, “You told him?” she asked in a low tone. “He found out” said Yara.

“Could you hold on please?” Fahad excused himself and moved closer to Yara and Sajida, “You need to tell me what happened exactly”

“He called around ten days ago and warned us that he would have to go to court if we don’t pay him the full amount” explained Yara with her hands folded on her chest.

“Do you have anything written?” asked Fahad.

“No. I just have a copy of the contract he signed with my father and the receipt of the amount I paid him”

“Give me his phone number quick”

“Why?”

“Give me the number and get inside the house!” ordered Fahad angrily.

After few minutes, Fahad walked inside Yara’s house for the first time. “What happened?” asked Sajida in concern as she and Yara were standing in the middle of the hallway.

“They left” he said with a firm face expression.

“Come inside. Let’s sit down” said Sajida as the three of them walked to the sitting room.

“Why didn’t you tell me that he threatened you?” asked Fahad angrily staring at Yara. She remained quiet.

“She didn’t want to trouble you with our issues from the very beginning” explained Sajida.

“This is no trouble. I’ll be a part of this family and you should treat me accordingly” he said sharply.

“I’m sorry” said Yara.

“It’s solved.” He said.

“Solved? How?” wondered Sajida.

“I spoke to the man. I promised him that he would receive the whole amount by tomorrow morning. He withdrew the order immediately”

“Oh, Fahad. Can’t thank you enough” said Sajida relieved.

“This is why I didn’t tell you! It’s a huge amount Fahad. How will you manage it?” said Yara upset.

“I have my ways. And it’s either you accept this or the court order will go on and you’ll end up losing your belongings and the house!”

“God forbids” said Sajida placing her hand on her chest.

“Yes, this is why those men where here” said Fahad.

“How will you manage the amount?” asked Yara again.

“I will arrange with my father. But don’t worry, it will be between me and him only. My mother will never know. I understand your concerns”

“Yes that would be great. Thank you so much dear. It feels good to finally have a son” said Sajida.

“What will your father think? Asking for money even before things get official is very embarrassing” said Yara.

“He will understand. You don’t know my father, he is the kindest man on earth. He never thinks badly of anyone”

Allah ykhaleeh lekum” said Sajida.

“We’ll pay it back. As soon as we manage to do so” said Yara with her mind fixed on the studio.

“There is nothing to be worried about now. Do you have any other debts?” asked Fahad.

“Small manageable ones. Been paying them for a while and it’s almost covered” said Yara.

“We need to sit down together and calculate the whole amount of all the debts. It is important to do so” ordered Fahad.

Inshalla. Thank you so much, you really proved what a good man you are” said Sajida.

Fahad leaned towards the coffee table that was placed between him and Yara to view the framed photos that were on it. “That’s the picture that was in your display when I first added you on BBM” said Fahad while looking at a picture of Yara and her father. He was carrying her with huge vintage sunglasses on his eyes and she was laughing and trying to pull the glasses off.

“I really love this photo” said Yara with a sad smile.

There was another old picture of Sajida standing on her own in front of Eiffel Tower. Her hair was short and curled and she was wearing a brown blazer with shoulder pads. “Look at that vintage look” said Yara sarcastically holding Sajida’s picture.

Fahad laughed silently so Sajida won’t hear him. She was busy with her Blackberry and she didn’t seem to hear their conversation. “Seems like it was always this way. You and your father together while she’s busy in her own world”

“Yup..” said Yara absent minded.

“Why do you look worried?”

“Nothing” she said avoiding looking into his eyes.

“You can’t lie to me. Is it the debt?”

“Yes”

“You should be happy that it has been taken care of”

“I am! But this is not how I wanted to start my life with you! Remember when we first met and how upset I got when you paid the electricity bill! It’s not a nice feeling.” She said annoyed.

“That was different. We are engaged now and what’s mine is yours” he said with a smile.

“What about some Turkish Coffee?” asked Sajida as she put her phone down and took off her reading glasses.

“Let me treat you, how about we go out for coffee? You need the change after this stressful afternoon” offered Fahad.

“Don’t trouble yourself dear. I’ll ask the maid to do the coffee” said Sajida.

“I insist. Yalla get ready and I will ask my mother and Sara to join us” said Fahad.

“Can’t object. I’ll go change” said Sajida getting up.

“Did you talk to Nadia?” asked Fahad.

“Yes, while you were out. They ate”

“Great. We’ll grab a bite as we have coffee.” Said Fahad.

 

“Unplanned outings always work better” said Fouzia as they were all seated on the table under the stairs.

“It does. I am a very organized person and I get really frustrated when plans change but as you said, unplanned feels surprisingly nice!” said Sajida.

“Because it doesn’t give you a chance to have any expectations” said Sara.

“As long as we’re all here I think that we should set a date for the official proposal” suggested Fahad.

“True. We shouldn’t delay it any longer.” Said Fouzia.

“You’re welcome anytime habeebti” said Sajida happily.

“What about next week? Which day would be suitable for you?” asked Fouzia.

“Hmm. Today is Monday, what about next Tuesday? In a week time” suggested Sajida.

“Fine by me. I’ll have to inform the family today” said Fouzia.

“How many ladies will you be?” asked Sajida a bit worried.

“My two sisters, two sisters in law from my side, three sisters in law from Bu Fahad’s side, my aunt and her four daughters….” Counted Fouzia.

“Wow Yumma why are you going that far? No need for all those people” interrupted Fahad.

“Wait till she gets to the end of the list!” warned Sara laughing.

“We have to. This is how it works. And if I don’t, I will never hear the end of it” said Fouzia.

Hayakum Allah” said Sajida sincere.

Walla I think that it’s unnecessary. Why don’t we just call the close ones? The aunts from both sides. That’s more than enough” said Fahad.

“Let her do what she thinks is right. It’s once in a life time” said Yara.

“Not exactly. It’s my second” said Fahad jokingly and they all laughed.

“Do you want a wedding Yara?” asked Fouzia.

“No, not at all. I hate weddings”

“Come on! I’ve been dreaming of your wedding since you were born!” begged Sajida.

“No way! It’s just impossible” said Yara firmly.

“What about a small one? We could do it in your house or ours and invite family and close friends only” said Fouzia.

“That I won’t mind” said Yara blushing.

“Yeah, fair enough” said Fahad.

“But I really wanted a grand wedding” said Sajida disappointed. Yara gave her an angry look discreetly. How could she ask for a grand wedding when the man just paid thousands of Dinars to save them from the debt? “But yes you’re right that would be better” said Sajida changing her mind.

Yara and Fahad were sharing Mini Burgers and Kibbeh while the rest were having coffee and different kinds of sweets. To their surprise, Alia, Fahad’s x-wife walked out of the other section of the cafe. They all stared at her as she walked towards them.

elsalam Alaikum” she said confidently yet politely.

“Alooy!! Where have you been!!” said Fouzia as she stood up and kissed her.

“So good to see you!” said Alia as she hugged Fouzia.

“How are you? Are you getting younger with time!”

“I’m so sorry I never call and ask about you” said Alia.

Yara was staring at them and then at Fahad in confusion. “It’s his x-wife by the way” she then explained to her mother. “Wow!” said Sajida not able to take her eyes off of her Chanel bag.

“Fahad, how are you feeling now? I was planning to call and check on you” said Alia.

“I’m good. Much better. You met Yara already. This is her mother” said Fahad introducing them.

“Nice to meet you” said Alia shaking Sajida’s hand.

“Look at those earrings” whispered Sajida staring at her Van Cleef earrings.

“I miss you” said Sara as she hugged her.

Yara was still confused with all the warm greetings. She wasn’t jealous as much as she was wondering what was the reason behind all this love and admiration to the X. She is an X after all and there should be some hard feelings or awkwardness.

“Such a nice girl. She is still respectful and loving” said Fouzia as soon as Alia left.

“She’s beautiful” said Sajida and put a spoon full of Concerto in her mouth.

Yara’s eyes were fixed on Fahad as they spoke about Alia. He was calm and expressionless, but she felt that there was something hidden behind that silence. There must be a reason that would explain the excellent terms between them.

 

Nadia was sitting in the living room of her huge empty house watching Showtime when she heard her mobile ringing. She took fast steps to her room, reached for the phone to see Mohammad’s London number. She looked at it hesitantly, not knowing if she should stick to her word or listen to her heart. She was hoping for it to stop ringing, but it didn’t. And so.. she picked it up.

“Nadia?” said Mohammad as she stayed quiet after accepting the call.

“Hi” she said finally.

“How are you?”

“Aren’t we supposed not to speak to each other?”

“It was you who said that and not me”

“And why can’t you respect my decision?” she asked whining.

“Because I know that it’s not what you want.”

“There is a difference between what we want and what we’re not allowed to want!” she said sharply.

“I asked you to think about it and all you did was believe that this is something that you can’t have!” he said upset.

“Yes. And that can’t be changed” she said.

“Listen to me, I called today because I have made up my mind.” He said firmly.

Nadia stayed quiet. She felt her heart fall down to her feet, “and?”

“I want to talk to your parents…” he said.

Chapter 15. Impression

 

“He died! You think he died? She said he just fell on the floor all of a sudden! He died Nadia he died!” cried Yara in panic.

“Will you calm down and stop thinking these crazy thoughts! People faint everyday!” said Nadia while driving Yara to the nearest Emergency Room.

“They faint for seconds or minutes but not until the ambulance reaches!”

“Pray Yara. Pray that he is fine and that it’s nothing major instead of wailing” said Nadia when her car suddenly stopped in the middle of the road.

“Oh no! Please no. NOT NOW” screamed Yara as Nadia tried restarting the engine several times but with no luck. “Troubles come at once!” mumbled Nadia and pressed on the Hazard lights.

“I will walk. I can’t stay here and wait anymore!” said Yara as she opened the door and was about to leave the car.

“Are you insane? Stay where you are! I’m calling the driver now” said Nadia pulling her back in.

“No no I can’t wait. WHY IS OSAMA NOT PICKING HIS PHONE!”

“Yara please calm down so we can reach the hospital fast. You call a cab and I will call our driver. Let’s see who’ll reach here first” said Nadia while dialing.

“TEN MINUTES. IF I WALK I WILL REACH FASTER!” Screamed Yara and ended the call with the cab agency.

“The driver will be here any minute. Relax, please. You don’t want Fahad to see you like this”

“SEE ME? HE’S UNCONSCIOUS REMEMBER?”

“Stop crying. He’ll be fine! He’s strong and you know it” said Nadia sweetly.

“I never called him. If something happens to him I will never forgive myself” sobbed Yara.

“You will see him and you’ll tell him everything that you wanted to say. He’s not going anywhere” said Nadia as she removed Yara’s hair off of her face and patted her shoulder.

 

Osama was smoking by the front entrance of the Emergency when Yara and Nadia arrived, “OSAMA, WHAT HAPPENED? WHERE IS HE?” asked Yara as she approached him fast.

“He’s fine, he just woke up. First floor room #2” he said calmly with a puff of smoke coming out of his mouth. Yara ran inside while Nadia stayed with Osama.

Yara opened the door of room #2 to find Fahad lying in bed weakly with an IV inserted in his hand. She paused by the door for a second, pleased to see him alive and breathing. “hamdella” she whispered thankful and overwhelmed that she didn’t pay much attention to the lady that was sitting next to him with her hand on his. “I’m so glad that you’re ok” she said as she walked to him with tears streaming down her face.

The other lady stepped away.

“I’m fine, don’t worry” said Fahad in a tired voice.

“I was so scared..i thought that I lost you” she put her head on his chest and he hardly placed his hand with the IV on her back.

“It’s ok. I’m here” he whispered and kissed her head.

“What happened?” she sat straight and wiped her tears.

“Diabetes” said the other lady as she stood up and closed the button of her red coat. Yara looked at her and back at Fahad in confusion. “Did you even know that he is diabetic? I don’t think so. He never cared and seems like he still doesn’t” said the lady as she picked up her huge black Dior bag. “I’m Alia. His x-wife” said the lady and offered her hand to Yara to shake.

“Nice to meet you” said Yara shocked as she shook her hand and wiped her tears with the other hand.

“I never knew that you’re seeing someone” said Alia smiling at Fahad.

“We’re going to get engaged” he said looking at Yara and smiling.

“That’s great. You take good care of him please” she said to Yara and headed to the door.

Yara watched her as she walked out. She was a bit tall with a perfect body. Her soft black hair was tied up in a ponytail and her features were blending beautifully together; wide eyes, pumped lips and a nose that linked them perfectly together. “She’s gorgeous” said Yara the moment she stepped out. Fahad ignored her comment and stared at her with a smile. “Why was she here?” wondered Yara.

“Her name and number was registered for emergencies. It was never changed I guess” he said as he put his hand on hers.

“I’m so sorry I never called. Walla I was planning to do so tonight” she said with guilt.

“You have nothing to apologize for. I started it all”

“Let’s not talk about it now. You are really weak and you need to rest” she said and brushed his head with her hand.

“No big deal. It’s just a high level of glucose”

“It is a big deal! And you will get your share of yelling later for not telling me that you are diabetic!”

“You’re cute when you’re worried” He said laughing and he pinched her cheek.

“You take injections everyday?” she asked concerned.

“No. Just pills. I might’ve missed it last night or today”

“And don’t you have to watch out with food?”

“Yeah. But…”

“You’re unbelievable! Why are you so careless? This is serious you have to be more careful. This time it passed, next time it could lead to a diabetic coma!”

“I will watch out I promise” he smile.

“I can’t lose you Fahad. I went crazy just for the thought that something might’ve happened to you. So please take care of yourself, for me!” she begged.

“Anything for you” he said and kissed her hand.

Osama and Nadia were still standing by the entrance when Alia walked out and waved goodbye to Osama. “Can you guess who that lady is?” asked Osama daringly.

“Hmm, I don’t know but she is damn gorgeous” said Nadia.

Osama laughed, “Guess”

“Someone that you used to date?”

“Nope” he said with a smile.

“Good because you’ll be stupid to leave her!”

Osama laughed out loud, “You’ll be surprised. She’s Fahad’s x-wife!”

“Go away! This is his x-wife? And he left her? Tough luck Yara!”

“They were insanely in love with each other. But, you know, a lot of things get revealed after marriage”

“Yeah, of course! Scary how the divorce rate is increasing by the day”

“Women are independent now, they think that they can do without a man in their life. Reality hits them shortly and they get lonely all over again!”

“Watch it” she said offended.

“No offense! You are so easy to tease” he laughed and noticed Sara approaching from the parking lot.

“Hi Osama”

“Hey. This is Nadia. Yara’s best friend” said Osama.

“Nice to meet you” she said and shook her hand. “Why are you outside?”

“I was smoking and then Yara came terrified. Giving her space.”

“Oh I can imagine. She never faced this before with him”

“It happens often?” wondered Nadia.

“Not often but he is so careless that it happens from time to time. That’s why I’m calm” she smiled.

“Did you tell your parents yet?” asked Osama.

“Yes they are on their way”

“Then I’ll call Yara and tell her to leave.” Said Nadia and took out her mobile.

“I’ll see her on my way up then” said Sara walking away.

“I’ll come with you” said Osama following her.

They met Yara halfway through the corridor. “Feeling better?” asked Osama.

“I’m better. I was so worried!”

“It’s all right. You’ll get used to it” said Sara jokingly and hugged her.

“I can’t believe that I didn’t know about it!”

“He doesn’t like mentioning it!” said Sara.

“And we have to pretend that it doesn’t exist!” said Osama.

“Come on, the least we could do is to remind him to take his pills and eat right” said Yara whining.

“He hates that!” said Sara.

“Yes, you want to lose him? Do that!” said Osama jokingly.

“Things will have to change. We could’ve lost him!” she said frustrated.

“Well, you’re the wifey now!” said Sara.

“Not just yet but until then, promise me that you’ll take good care of him Sara”

“I promise”

“Ha? How are you feeling now?” asked Nadia as soon as Yara got in the driver’s car.

“Relieved! hamdella

“And how is he?”

“He’s weak. Sorry to keep you waiting”

“It’s fine I was with Osama. I also met Sara, she looks sweet”

“She is. Did Osama tell you about Fahad?”

“Yes and I was shocked! How could he hide something like that”

“I didn’t want to stress him with that now. Will talk about it once he gets better”

“And the x-wife!!”

“I KNOW. What kind of test is this!” said Yara with her hand on her face.

“Don’t worry, I understood from Osama that she’s just a beautiful figure from the outside. What was she doing here?”

“I’m not worried.”

“You don’t feel jealous?” teased Nadia.

“No” said Yara rolling her eyes.

“Sure?”

“Maybe a little! It’s just that.. she looks amazing! I’m just an average looking girl”

“Beauty comes from within” said Nadia in a cliché tone.

“What a day! I’m so tired. I haven’t slept in two days” said Yara yawning.

“You need a good night sleep. Tomorrow will be a better day”

Inshalla” said Yara as she rested her head back and closed her eyes.

“Hello?” Nadia answered an unfamiliar Bahraini phone number.

“Nadia..”

“Mohammed? Are you in Bahrain?” asked Naida shocked.

Yara opened her eyes widely as she heard his name.

“Yes. I’m here for a couple of days” he said.

“Why? Mohammed I begged you not to call me again!” said Nadia in a pleading voice.

“I’m here for work, and I need to see you”

“See me why? No. No. We shouldn’t!”

“Please Nadia. Just see me this time and hear me out and after that you’ll never hear from me again. That’s all I’m asking for”

“Ok, fine. I’ll take your word for that”

“Can we meet tomorrow morning?”

“Yes, do you know Yara’s studio?”

“Not really, it didn’t exist back then” he said in a cheerful tone remembering the past.

“I’ll text you directions now. See you tomorrow” she said and ended the call.

“Hey! My studio is not a dating spot!” said Yara.

“I don’t want to show up with him in public. Where else do I go?!”

“What’s going on? Why is he here and what does he want?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know..” answered Nadia nervous.

“We have to go and visit him” said Sajida the next morning when Yara told her about what had happened to Fahad.

“Visit him? But that won’t be appropriate. Nothing is official yet!” said Yara.

“The man is sick and we are his future in laws. It won’t be appropriate if we didn’t go! We have to show them that we have manners. And it will be a plus point for us, to show concern while they delayed their visit. They will only feel embarrassed” said Sajida mockingly.

“You’re wicked but I like your thinking this time!”

“Alright then, check on your sister, she must come too” said Sajida as she got up and headed to her room.

Yara stayed where she was, curled up on the sofa, thinking of what her mother had just said. A small part of her was worried about meeting his mother and how things will go between the two mums. It had to start somewhere. This was a golden opportunity for them to prove to Fouzia that her impression about Sajida could be wrong.

Nadia was waiting for Mohammed to arrive in Yara’s studio. She was nervous as much as she pretended that she wasn’t. Guilt didn’t allow her to dress up for him, but she wanted him to get fascinated by her beauty just like he always did. She wore skinny dark denim jeans with a dirty pink poncho style top. Her hair was falling on her shoulders in natural waves and she put on some light natural makeup.

She was sitting on one of the armchairs with her attention on her phone screen when he walked in. “Not so hard to find. Good location” he said as he took a step. Nadia raised her head up to see him by the door, flashing his beautiful smile with his Cartier shades covering his dark brown eyes. To her surprise, he was wearing a Grey wintery Thoab.

Her heart started beating fast unexpectedly. She had imagined this moment many times. She was certain that she would be able to rein in all her emotions and old feelings that had come up to the surface lately. But when she saw him smiling in that Thoab, looking as mature as he never looked before, and coming to see her after begging for it, she lost all control.

She stood up and he walked slowly to her until they stood face to face. He took off his shades and they stared at each other quietly. He was still smiling and she smiled as she looked into his eyes that spoke a thousand words. Without realizing how, she found herself buried in his arms. Her head was comfortably rested on his chest and her arms were around his back while he held her tight with his head on hers. “This is where I belong..” she whispered with teary eyes.

“I was hoping that we meet in better circumstances” said Sajida sitting next to Yara and Tamara in the hospital.

“This is Allah’s will. Inshalla many more to come and we were planning to meet you anyway” said Fouzia.

“How are you feeling Fahad?” asked Sajida.

“I’m fine hamdella. Happy that we finally got to meet, I heard so much about you” he said excited. Yara stared at him in a confused yet happy look.

“Me too my son” said Sajida as Sara offered her a tray of chocolates.

“Thank you dear I’m on a diet” said Sajida.

“Come on, just one for the gahwa” insisted Fouzia.

“Alright. Can’t say no to this pretty girl anyway” said Sajida as she picked up a piece. Sara blushed and moved to Yara with the chocolate trey. They looked at each other trying to hold a laugh.

“You only have those two daughters ha?” asked Fouzia.

“Yes, I just wanted one child. You can see the huge age gap between the two.” Said Sajida as she took a bite of the chocolate and Fouzia handed Sara the coffee thermos.

“Watch it. You don’t have to explain everything” Whispered Yara to her mother. “What did I say now?” whispered Sajida back.

“Which grade are you in Tamara?” asked Fouzia.

“8th grade” answered Tamara shyly.

“And which school do you go to?”

“Ibn Khuldoon”

“Oh so you studied in a private school too Yara?”

“No, I went to government schools” answered Yara politely.

“Not that we had any financial problems. But Government schools were really good back then” explained Sajida in her usual money talk and Yara hit her leg. Fahad noticed and couldn’t help laughing.

“I was telling Fahad yesterday that we should go out and have dinner together to get to know each other” said Fouzia.

“What about the proposal?” wondered Sajida. Yara hid her head with her hand in embarrassment.

“I think it would be much nicer if we get to know each other first so things won’t get so awkward when we come and propose” said Fouzia nicely.

“Yes you have a point” said Sajida convinced.

“Let’s plan it now then. Where would you like to go khalty?” asked Fahad sweetly.

“I like this boy!” said Sajida looking at Yara.

“It’s up to you, anywhere will do” said Yara out of respect to Fouzia.

“I insist. I want khalty Sajida to pick the place” said Fahad enjoying Sajida’s reactions.

“Hmm, not that I go out much but my favorite restaurant has always been Sato” said Sajida.

“You got it. When shall we go?” asked Fahad.

“Once you get better. How can you decide now when you’re still sick?” said Fouzia.

“I’ll be dismissed today”

“She’s right. We’ll plan it once you get your strength back. And you better do so soon” warned Sajida.

“I’m avoiding you for this very reason. I don’t want to lose control and say things that we’ll regret later” said Nadia as they were sitting on the armchairs.

“I’m missing you insanely these days. Especially after I heard about your divorce”

“But things will only get harder now. We didn’t see each other for years. You left the country and started a family. And in a moment out of time we met by coincidence and everything changed”

“So things changed for you too?”

“Of course. Everything turned upside down. But I had to be dry with you so things won’t escalate”

“I never forgot you. I had to move on. We both had to. I’m sure that you understand what I mean”

“I do”

“Nadia you know that I was never in love with Reem. She was just an available option who had no goals in life other than getting married”

“Don’t say that about her. It’s not fair. She left her whole life here and went with you!”

“But I always wished that it was you Nadia. You were and still are special”

“But I chose my life over you. This could be enough reason for you to hate me” she said sadly.

“It worked for a while, and it helped me move on. But now all I can see is a different life that we could’ve had together. My current life is.. cold. I’m focusing on my career, and when I come home I don’t find the warmth that I need. Reem is a lovely girl. Me and Khalid are her whole life. But she fails to fascinate me, to steal me away from everything just like you do” he said and reached for her hand.

“I recently realized.. that choosing my life over you was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made” she said holding his hand.

He looked at her warmly and got closer, “and you realize that I’m not happy. I am content, but not happy”

“Don’t get me started. What did I get from this life that I chose? Manaf and his betrayal? Being with him was a failed attempt to get over you anyway” she confessed in frustration without looking at his face.

“Look at me Nadia. You think that we still have a chance?” he asked as he held her chin and turned her head to him gently.

“Are you crazy? Of course not” she panicked and pulled her hand out of his.

“There must be a way. We can’t let go of each other all over again and repeat the same mistake”

“How? You are a father and you have a stable marriage. Don’t expect me to ruin this for you!” she warned him.

“It doesn’t have to be ruined.”

“What the hell are you saying Mohammed? Please stop, please! We agreed that this will be the last time we talk and see each other” she said and stood up.

“Please wait. Don’t say anything now. Just think about it. Think of a way and I will too. I want to be with you, I really do. And I know that you want that too. Please think about it and be selfish. We have to be selfish and not live our whole life for others!”

“It’s too late. Let’s forget that this conversation had ever happened” She said as she picked up her handbag and walked out.

“She’s not bad!” said Sara as soon as Sajida and her daughters left the room.

Ee walla, I expected her to be much worse than that!” said Fouzia.

“It’s lovely that you liked her but it’s funny how you’re judging the mother when I’m marrying the daughter” joked Fahad. They both laughed, “The girl seems nice. She’s not beautiful though, very average looking” said the mother.

“Don’t be mean mama!” said Sara.

“I’m only being honest” said Fouzia while pouring milk tea in a cup.

“Once you get to know her better you’ll see how beautiful she is” said Fahad with a happy smile.

“But that was a lesson for you mama. You shouldn’t judge people based on what you hear. You should always find out by yourself” said Sara.

“It was obvious that what I had heard through people was somehow true. She said some unreasonable stuff. But I expected much worse” said Fouzia defending herself while sipping some tea.

“Women always exaggerate” said Fahad sarcastically as he reached for his mobile and BBMed Yara:

Fahad: All good. She likes you both.

Yara: Really? What did she say???

Fahad: Doesn’t matter. Are you happy?

Yara: Of course I am. I was so worried that my mum would say something and ruin it all.

Fahad: I LOVED her. She’s so much fun!!

Yara: Wait until you get enough of her.

Fahad: I never will! She’s not bad at all! You just have to know how to get to her.

Yara: That’s what Nadia says!!

Fahad: As long as everything is set for me and you, what do you say about hooking up Nadia with Osama??

Yara: haha why so suddenly!

Fahad: Why not.. and it will be so cool, the four of us hanging out together.. I can imagine Dalal killing herself.

Yara: You just have to go on and on and on with your plans.. we can’t force it.. let it be.. they are old enough to realize it if they have feelings for each other..

Fahad: We should push it.. It will be good for both of them

Yara: Can we focus on us for now? We still have a lot to do!

Fahad: Right. Love you xx

“I was too nervous to meet his mum! She’s not so easy going and I felt that I was being judged. But Fahad said that she liked both of us” said Yara while having lunch with Nadia at Café Italia in City Center.

“Good” said Nadia with a distant mind.

“What’s wrong? You’re too quiet! Will you please tell me what happened with Mohammed!! What did he want?!”

“Nothing. It was more of a good bye” said Nadia quietly.

“Come on! What happened?”

“Can we make today about you only please? It’s a big day for you and I don’t want to talk about my issues”

“But I can see that you’re sad!”

“And I want to be happy for you. So let’s put my issues aside today and I promise that we’ll talk about it tomorrow”

“Whatever makes you comfortable”

“Dalool called me a couple of days ago”

“Oho! What does she want now?”

“You won’t believe it! She was asking if it’s true that Fahad proposed to you!”

“WHAT? How did she know? I can’t believe her. She has sources from all around the country!”

“I know! She tried to make me feel guilty for taking sides”

“So the news spread already?!” asked Yara in shock.

“Can you believe it? But it’s normal since Fahad’s mother asked around about you and your family”

“I guess. I really don’t care anymore. As long as things are ok let the whole world know” said Yara in excitement.

“I’m so happy for you. It’s a dream come true for me, seeing you married to the one you love” said Nadia emotionally.

“Aww. Let’s not get so carried away with feelings now, I’m starving! What shall we order?” said Yara as she opened the menu.

 

“Damn! I got overwhelmed with all what happened yesterday and I totally forgot about the debt!” said Yara and put her knife and fork down half way through lunch.

“What debt?” asked Nadia while eating her penne pasta.

“That man called me and he was really upset! He wants his money back immediately and he threatened to go to court!”

“Oh no! What will you do?”

“I don’t know, I really don’t. But I really really need to get done with this even if it will mean selling the studio”

“Why don’t you talk to Fahad?” suggested Nadia and took a sip of her diet coke.

“Not now. He will feel responsible since we are practically engaged and he will insist on paying. I really don’t want that to happen”

“True. Finish your food now and we’ll think of something to do. There must be a solution”

Just when they paid the bill, Yara’s phone rang. It was Fahad. She answered as she was putting her wallet back in her classic Louis Vuitton spy bag.

“Where are you?” asked Fahad angrily.

“City Center. What’s wrong?” asked Yara confused.

“City Center? Really? I am sick in the hospital and you are roaming around City Center?” screamed Fahad.

“What is the matter Fahad? Calm down”

“How considerate of you! I’m extremely disappointed”

“Calm down this is not good for your health! Why all the anger?”

“Come here right now!” he said pissed off and ended the call.

After leaving the mall immediately and heading to the hospital nervously, Yara entered Fahad’s room to find him lying on his bed calmly with a smile on his face. She stared at him with a blank face. He laughed out loud on her reaction, “come here” he said.

“What happened to you? One minute you’re yelling and the other you’re laughing! You will drive me insane!” she said too confused as she walked to his bed.

“Sit down” he ordered.

She shook her head, sat on the edge of the bed with her hands folded on her chest waiting for an explanation.

“Close your eyes” he said and reached for the drawer next to him, opened it and got a small jewelry box out of it. He then reached for her right hand and pulled it towards him, “open your eyes” he said.

The moment she opened her eyes he placed a sparkling solitaire ring in her ring finger that took her breath away. She gasped and put her left hand on her chest with her eyes glittering. “Now you’re officially mine” he said as he lift her hand up and kissed it.