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.

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Chapter 14, Delay

It was hard for Yara to understand Fahad’s sudden change of behavior. All those months she was the one with the uncertainty and unrevealed emotions while he was always frank and direct. Is this a new side of him that she hadn’t seen? Was he being too protective about his family to the extent of lying? She was sitting on one of the faded armchairs in the studio and playing with her hair. It was 8pm, she was absent mined and distracted all day that she couldn’t do much work no matter how hard she tried.

Her phone rang and brought her back to life, “Hello?” answered Yara, not recognizing the number.

“Alo, Salam Alaikum

Alaikum elsalam, who is it?”

“It’s Anwer, your dad’s friend.”

“Oh”

“I have received your cheque. Thank you very much”

“You’re welcome. Inshalla you will receive the rest as soon as I can arrange it”

“This amount you sent is very small. It’s not even half of the amount” said the man upset.

“I know, I’m very sorry but this is all I could do right now” she said nicely.

“And I’ve been very patient with you. Tell me how much longer shall I wait?”

“I really don’t know but I’m doing my best right now” said Yara politely.

“I really need that money. Managing it is your problem. Get a loan or even steal if you want. But I need that money by next month maximum. Otherwise I will have to go to court!” said the man and ended the call.

Nadia walked in the studio an hour later while Yara was still sitting in the same spot drowning in thoughts.

“Why aren’t you answering my calls?” said Nadia angrily.

“I don’t feel like talking. Can’t I be on my own for one day?”

“But I got worried! You could’ve picked up and said that you don’t want to talk instead of ignoring!” said Nadia as she sat on the other armchair.

“Don’t make a topic out of this now please!” said Yara annoyed.

“Did you talk to him?”

“No and I don’t want to!”

“He didn’t call either? Or come to the café?” asked Nadia confused.

“Nope!”

“Maybe he’s.. embarrassed..and he doesn’t know what to say or do” said Nadia trying to think of an explanation.

“Whatever! He started it and he’s the one who should fix it”

“What about your mum? Did you tell her?”

“No. I’m avoiding her. How can I tell her that the guy that we’ve been speaking highly of is a liar! ”

“You know her better than that. She won’t care! As long as she’s convinced that his family is the kind of family that she is looking for, she won’t care. Yesterday she was upset because she really wanted it to happen and it didn’t”

“You have a point. Anyway, let’s not talk about it anymore. What’s new with you?”

“I’ve been working in the shop all day. That’s it!”

“I found something in the storeroom today. Might be interesting for you” said Yara as she walked to her desk and got a shoebox that was full of pictures. She opened it and gave Nadia a batch of photos with an elastic band around them. The first photo was an old photo of Nadia and Dalal in Chili’s, “Oh my God, I look horrible, look at my blond highlights!” said Nadia as she removed the elastic band and moved to the next photo. To her surprise, it was a picture of Mohammed. Her heart dropped for seeing him the way she knew him back then. Not in London, not with a son, not with a wife; but just the guy she once knew and loved. “Wow. You still have these!” she said as she stared at it. Mohammed was wearing a white French Connection t-shirt, which was in fashion back then. He had a dirty beard that covered his white cheeks and his hair was brushed to the back with a little bit of gel.

“You grabbed my camera from me and took this picture” said Yara smiling.

“I remember..”

“Do you want it? Or shall I get rid of it?”

“This comeback is scaring me..”

“Comeback? What comeback?”

“Seeing him, his beautiful words that messed me up, these photos…and…his call” said Nadia.

Fahad and his sister Sara were sitting on the floor at the sitting room with parcels of Tikka and Kebab placed on a mat in front of them. They were having dinner and Date Night was playing on DVD but they weren’t paying attention.

“Maybe she had the right to refuse to go and propose that fast. But she had to be more careful and stay home” said Fahad.

“I think that you shouldn’t have lied at first place.” said Sara.

“What was I supposed to do? I had no other choice!”

“You should’ve thought of something better. I know how much you love mama and respect her, but you shouldn’t have allowed her to come between you and Yara.”

“I wasn’t planning on lying. I just called her and it was the first thing that came to my mind”

“It happened anyway. Fix it. These days are supposed to be the most beautiful days of your life. Call her and apologize. What you did was wrong.”

Their mother walked in the house at the same time. “Here you are! Join us please.” said Fahad sarcastic.

“I’m full, had so much finger food at the society meeting” said the mother as she took off her hijab and walked through the hall.

“Mama what were you thinking when you went out last night?” said Sara in a mixture of politeness and disappointment.

“Why? What’s wrong with it?” wondered the mother as she sat on the sofa behind them.

“They saw you! You were supposed to be sick remember?” said Fahad.

“Who saw me?”

“Mama! Shfeech? Yara and her mother were at Traders last night and they saw you!” said Sara.

“Out of all the restaurants in Bahrain you’re telling me that they were there too?” said the mother in shock.

“Yes! And even if they weren’t, Bahrain is small and people talk! Anyone could’ve told them that you were there” said Fahad.

“And what did they say?”

“It was too obvious to cover up” said Fahad.

“So they know that we lied?” gasped the mother.

“Yes..” said Fahad nodding.

“This is embarrassing. Why didn’t you cover up? You could’ve said that I got better”

“And make it worse by lying again?” said Fahad trying to remain calm.

“She’s not talking to him already!” said Sara.

“Are they changing their mind? Maybe it’s for the best!” said the mother.

“No Yumma! I will not change my mind even if they do.” said Fahad.

“THEN DO SOMETHING!” screamed Sara. “You are not the Fahad that I know! You are acting like a teenager! What happened to you?”

“This stage is out of my control! It’s all in the family’s hands!”

“Quiet both of you. I think that we should meet them unofficially and get to know them. You can suggest that we go out for dinner with them this week. Just us 3, the girl and her mother”

“That’s a start!” said Sara.

“Make sure you mention that you just want to introduce us and it’s nothing official.” Said the mother firmly.

Yara was driving back home and listening to Majida Al Roumi. It’s been a while since she listened to her and she felt the need to do so. Habibi was playing when her phone rang. It was Fahad.

She stared at the phone screen hesitantly. As much as she wanted to pick it up and hear his voice, listen to his explanation and tell him how much she missed him, she couldn’t. “Not tonight, not tonight!”, She thought as she put the phone back in the cup holder and raised the volume of the song.

“Is Yara with you?” asked Fahad as he called Nadia.

“No but I was with her a while ago in the studio”

“I called her a couple of times but she’s not picking up. Is she ok?”

“She was pretty upset” said Nadia honestly.

“So you think that she’s ignoring me? She doesn’t want to talk?”

“She was in that mood yeah.”

“But I have good news for her.”

“She’ll have to forgive you first. You know her and her stubbornness.”

“Can you please call her and convince her to talk to me?”

“Sure. I’ll try but no promises” said Nadia.

“Is Fahad sending you to talk to me?” guessed Yara as soon she picked up Nadia’s call.

“Why are you ignoring the guy?”

“What part of I-don’t-feel-like-talking do you not understand?” said Yara in anger.

“He really wants to talk to you. He said he has some good news!”

“He can’t take back what he said! Please tell me that he’s not expecting me to forget what had happened and get excited for whatever news he has!”

“Talk to him and see how he explains it!”

“I can’t. I can’t. I’m just too frustrated, disappointed and I need some.. time away.”

“Time away?”

“This is marriage Nadia. It’s not a game. And I’m.. terrified.. after what happened. Yesterday I was 100% sure that he’s the one. But after the way he behaved yesterday I’m having second thoughts..” confessed Yara.

Just when Nadia put down her phone, it rang again. “It just won’t stop ringing today. Hello?” answered Nadia without looking at the phone screen.

“Nadia!!” said Dalal.

“Dalool?” asked Nadia shocked.

“Yes! I miss you!” said Dalal right away. Nadia was taken by surprise and she didn’t know how to react, “shloanech?” she asked politely.

“I’m good I really miss you. Why don’t you ever call me? Why are you boycotting me too? Have I ever caused you any harm?” asked Dalal in her usual whiny tone.

“It’s not that..”

“I know I know. No need to go through it again. Tell me, is the news that I’ve heard true?” asked Dalal curiously.

“What news?”

“Come on don’t act dumb. I heard that Fahad is proposing to Yara! Is that true?”

“Who told you that?”

“It’s Bahrain dear. News travel faster than light”

“Nothing happened yet and no one knows about it! I wonder how it spread!”

“It’s good news anyway. Please send her my warmest regards”

“Dalool, stay out of this! What you’ve done caused them enough trouble so please stay away” begged Nadia.

“You’re mean! You pushed me away out of your life and now and that I’m being nice you’re being rude to me!”

“My God. It was the sudden change in you. I didn’t push you away for no reason!”

“You didn’t even talk to me about it!” said Dalal whining.

“Not a good time. I have to go now. And please stay away” said Nadia as she ended the call and huffed. It wasn’t good news that the word spread about Fahad and Yara. She decided to keep that from Yara and spare her the tension. And just before she receives any other frustrating phone call, she put her mobile on silent and went to bed.

Yara didn’t get much sleep that night. She went to bed early to get away from the thoughts that haunted her all day, but she couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t about his lie or what he said about her mum. It was much bigger than that by now. She doubted if they were really doing the right thing by moving to the next step so fast. By the time it was 7am, she decided to get out of bed and start her day.

She fixed herself a cup of tea and two fried eggs. She placed them on a tray and headed to the living room. Breakfast had a different taste early in the morning and in front of TV. After finishing her breakfast and watching an episode of Wheel of Fortune, she lay down on the sofa and fell asleep peacefully without planning to do so.

“Why are you sleeping here?” asked Sajida curiously. Yara opened her eyes to see Sajida’s figure right in front of her.

“What time is it?” asked Yara as she hardly opened her eyes and stretched her arms.

“It’s 10!”

“Wow, I slept for two hours!” said Yara as she sat straight yawning.

“What brought you here? And you had breakfast already!” said Sajida as she sat down staring at the trey.

“I don’t know. I Just woke up early” lied Yara feeling flattered that they were finally having a normal conversation.

“What happened to the proposal?”

“You were right. They were lying”

“They’re not changing their mind are they?” said Sajida worriedly with her hand on her chest.

“I don’t think so. But…I’m having second thoughts!” confessed Yara.

“What second thoughts? You will drive me crazy! What happened so suddenly to all that love? What happened to I’ll either marry him or no one else?” wondered Sajida sarcastically.

“What they did is a big thing. What kind of marriage starts this way?”

“So what? It’s a stupid lie! They wanted to delay and they couldn’t think of a better excuse!” said Sajida coldly.

“But don’t you think that there is a reason behind that delay?”

“Who cares! You complicate things! Go show them that you are ok with it before they completely change their mind!” said Sajida as she got up and headed to the kitchen.

Without paying any attention to her mother’s words, Yara changed her clothes and went to the studio. The door was not locked, meaning that Santosh was already there. The moment Yara opened the door, she saw something on her desk that made her freeze where she was; it was a beautiful flower arrangement. She walked closely to it and dropped her handbag on the chair.

“Good morning Madame. These got delivered for you this morning” said Santosh.

“It’s alright Santosh. Go back to your work”

She stared at those fuchsia pink roses and white lilies, hoping that it’s not from him as she didn’t want anything to affect her decision. She reached for the small card nervously and pulled it out of the envelope:

I’m sorry.. Let’s start the rest of our lives together..      Fahad..

She held the card tightly and sat on her chair while remembering her mum’s words. Is she finally making sense? Am I complicating things? She wondered. How can I ever doubt his feelings? She thought with flashes of the past months playing in her head. She took her mobile out of her handbag and started dialing his number slowly. And just when she was about to press the call button, a girl walked in the studio.

“Hello Yara” said the girl. Yara observed the girl. She was petite with white skin, her hair was light brown, layered and reached up to an inch below her shoulders. She was wearing a short black dress with black stockings and a long woolen black jacket on top.

“Sara?” said Yara.

“Yes! You know me!” said Sara as they both walked to each other and kissed twice on each cheek.

“Of course I know you! Glad to finally meet you, I heard so much about you” said Yara as she led her to the two armchairs.

“Me too and I’ve been begging Fahad to introduce us for a while”

“I’ve seen you in pictures but you look even prettier in real life”

“Thanks. How are you doing? It’s a lovely place by the way” said Sara observing the studio.

“Thank you. Don’t you ever come to the café?” wondered Yara.

“Not really. When I have the time I’d rather go somewhere lively or new. I also try to stay away from the family business”

“So I’ve heard” said Yara smilingly.

“I think that you know why I’m here” said Sara sweetly.

“Tell me. I’ve been listening to myself only and I need to hear something else”

Sara laughed, “I know that guys are horrible when it comes to explaining. So I’m doing my brother a favor, not that he knows that I’m here”

“It’s fine. I’m finally starting to let go of what happened”

“But we owe you an explanation. I’m really sorry. I was against delaying from the beginning, but you know mothers.”

“I understand. I just wish that he didn’t lie”

“He didn’t want to, trust me. He argued with my mum about it and he tried hard to push her to go. But she won. My mum has a strong personality. I’m sure that you know how she and Fahad are close to each other so he would never upset her”

Yara smiled and remained quiet.

“I’m not pushing you to forgive him or do anything against your will. I just felt that you deserve an explanation. And be sure that he loves you a lot. I haven’t seen him fighting for something in years”

“I understand why your mother got hesitant. I’ve been getting some thoughts too. Will our families be ok with each other? Will the marriage work with both families uncertain about each other?”

“Of course it will. Those are normal disputes. If it means anything, it only means that your marriage is normal!” said Sara with a flashing smile.

“Thank you so much. I really feel much better now” said Yara.

“She’s such a nice girl! I’m so happy that I met her. Things will be easier now” said Yara as she called Nadia and told her about the flowers and Sara’s visit.

“I’m glad to hear that but I need to steal you right now. I’m picking you up and we’ll go work on my shop. I have so much to do and I really need your help.” Said Nadia.

“Yeah sure I want to get busy anyway”

“Come out, I’m only three minutes away”

“So when are you planning to contact him?” asked Nadia once she picked up Yara.

“Soon, today but not now”

“Why are you still delaying it?”

“I want to be completely clear headed when I call him. So I better wait for Sara’s words to erase every single doubt or fear I have in my head”

“But what if he calls you before that?”

“He won’t. She said that he told her that he won’t push it and will give me space”

“That’s good. Shows how mature he is.”

Nadia and Yara spent the whole day working on Nadia’s shop; receiving deliveries, hanging and re-arranging items. They didn’t get a chance to have a lunch break. Yara called Pizza Hut and ordered one large Super Supreme that they had to eat between all the cartoons and packaged stuff. By the time it was 7pm, they both were extremely exhausted and they decided to continue what’s left the next day. All day long, Yara was thinking of all the things she’d tell Fahad once she calls him at night. The conversation was getting repeated in her head with modifications every time she thought about it.

When Nadia was driving Yara back to the studio for her car, they saw an ambulance speeding with the Siren on. As they parked in front of the studio, they noticed a bunch of people standing outside the café with the waiters and waitresses. Yara left the car and walked hurriedly in concern to the waiters, “What is going on?” asked Yara scared. “It’s…Mr. Fahad” said the waitress in panic with her hand on her mouth.

Chapter 13, Lie

 

“HE’S PROPOSING” screamed Yara in excitement as soon as Nadia picked up the phone.

“What? Who? What? FAHAD?” gasped Nadia.

“Yes yes yes!!”

“Oh my God. Oh..my..God.. YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED” screamed Nadia.

“My tummy is hurting. I’m so nervous I want throw up.” Panicked Yara.

“This is huge! What happened? TELL ME!”

“It was all very sudden! He called and said that his family is visiting a day after tomorrow to propose!”

“A DAY AFTER TOMORROW!!”

“I know I know don’t make it worse!”

“We have so much to do. Where shall we start!!!!!”

“I haven’t even talked to my mum yet!! This is the worst part. If I pass this, everything else won’t matter!”

“What are you waiting for! GO TALK TO HER NOW!” ordered Nadia.

 

At the same time..

“Mama, it’s for you” said Tamara after picking up the house’s land line.

“Who is it? I told you a thousand times to always say that I’m not available!!” said Sajida in anger.

“It’s not family don’t worry. It’s your Kuwaiti friend!” said Tamara.

“Hello?”

“Hala Sajida. Shloanech?” said the lady in a Kuwaiti accent.

“I’m fine. Good to hear from you. How are you and how is the family?” asked Sajida.

“All are fine. How are your daughters?”

Hamdilla. Haven’t heard from you for a while. Where have you been?”

Wallah my sister Mariam wasn’t feeling so well. And we’ve been back and forth between Kuwait and Beirut. She’s seeing a doctor there”

“Oh I didn’t know. Matchoof shar inshalla

“I saw Yara, your daughter, few months ago in Beirut. You never told me that she got engaged!”

“Engaged? But she isn’t!” giggled Sajida.

“How come? I saw her there with a guy!”

“He must be her friend’s brother or cousin” said Sajida confident.

“I don’t think so. They were holding hands! That’s why I thought that she got engaged” said the woman realizing the situation.

Sajida felt so embarrassed that the sitting room suddenly felt as hot as a sauna:  “I’m sure that it wasn’t her! Maybe it was someone who looked like her”

“No, I know Yara well. And if she was in Beirut back then, then it must be her!”

“Ooooh. Now I know. Remember my friend Afaf? The Minister of Works wife? Her son Haitham proposed to Yara a while ago. It must be him. Yeah yeah I’m sure that it’s him. They are seeing each other behind our backs!” said Sajida covering up and faking a laugh.

“That makes sense and it’s good news. You got yourself some pretty well-off in laws” said the woman impressed.

“Yeah they are getting to know each other now.” Said Sajida relieved that the woman believed her.

“Congratulations. Inshalla things work out smoothly between them” said the woman.

Yara walked out of her room quietly and nervously to find her mother sitting on a sofa with her hand on her cheek. “Mama, I need to talk to you..” said Yara.

The mother turned around and stared at her in anger, “who’s the guy that you’ve been seeing?” she asked straight forward.

“What guy?” said Yara shocked and froze where she was.

“Shame on you! WHO IS HE?” screamed Sajida with her anger growing.

“This is.. what I wanted to talk to you about” said Yara scared.

“Now? After everything that you’ve already done?”

“I haven’t done anything mama”

“You haven’t? What about walking around Beirut hand in hand!” screamed Sajida in a louder tone.

“He is proposing!” said Yara cautiously.

“WHO IS HE? ANSWER MY QUESTION”

“His name is Fahad. He’s a very good guy and he comes from a good family.” Explained Yara shaking.

“A good guy won’t allow himself to have a relationship with a girl behind her family’s back!”

“Back in the 50s maybe! It’s the 21st century!”

“How do you know him?” asked Sajida curiously.

“He owns the café next to the studio”

“Aha! No wonder you almost live there!”

“It’s only been few months mama!”

“You know how I married your dad? His mum chose me for him. And we only dared to speak to each other after the melcha!”

“And I don’t want to end up like you!” said Yara disrespectfully.

Sajida took two fast steps to Yara and slapped her roughly on the cheek.

Silence.
“I love him” said Yara with tears stating to run over her cheeks.

“And where will this love take you?”

“Nothing will stop me from marrying him!” she said walking back to her room.

“Over my dead body” screamed Sajida with her voice echoing around the house.

 

“She’s angry now.  Give her some time and she will come to you and discuss it all over again” said Fahad on the phone.

“You don’t know her at all then. Once she sets her mind on something then there is no going back” wept Yara.

“Don’t cry. It was just bad timing”

“I don’t know who told her! Someone saw us in Beirut”

“We should’ve been more careful”

“I don’t want to stay here tonight. I can’t. I have to get out of this house!”

“Where are you going at this hour? Stay where you are. Things will change tomorrow trust me.”

“Why can’t you understand? Nothing will change! It’s either we get married behind her back or not get married at all!”

“Behind her back? What are those crazy thoughts?”

“It’s the only way!”

“Yara, you don’t know what you’re saying now because you are upset. We’ll find a solution tomorrow.”

“I’m not staying here tonight! I’m going to Nadia’s house, her parents are out of Bahrain” said Yara as she opened her cupboard and picked a random outfit.

“You are not leaving this late and in this condition!” said Fahad firmly.

“I’m sorry but I’ll have to. I can’t listen to you this time.”

“Wait then, I will come and drive behind you till you get there!”

 

Yara pulled her small pulley bag and headed to Tamara’s room. She opened the door to find her on her bed with her laptop on her lap.

“What’s with the bag?” wondered Tamara.

Yara closed the door and sat next to her on bed. “I’m sure that you heard me and mum arguing”

“Yup!”

“Did you figure out why?”

“No and I don’t want to know” said Tamara with her eyes fixed on the laptop screen.

“Ok. I’m leaving to Nadia’s house now. Are you ok with being alone in here with her?”

“Do I have any other choice?”

“Things are a bit complicated now Tamara. You are used to me being there for you all the time and there is a possibility that I might be getting married soon” said Yara and her heart dropped as she mentioned this and realized it.

Tamara ignored and typed something on the keyboard with a smile.

“I will always be there for you. But you have to learn how to survive on your own too. You’re not a baby anymore and you have to be responsible.” Said Yara and got a missed call from Fahad as a sign that he was outside.

“I have to go now. She will be very frustrated and firm with you but you know how to deal with her. Bye” said Yara as she got up, took her bag and walked out.

 

Fahad drove all the way to Nadia’s house behind Yara. They didn’t speak to each other on the phone, each of them was drowned in his own thoughts and worries while driving. But when Yara parked her car in front of Nadia’s house she walked to his car and he opened his window.

“Thank you..” she said.

“The least I could do to protect my fiancé” said Fahad and smiled.

Yara started crying all over again when he said that. “Please don’t cry habeebty. Everything is going to be just like we want it” said Fahad and held her hand through the window.

“You took me by surprise. I didn’t expect this!” said Yara between sobs.

“It’s nice no? Unexpected is nice!” he said trying to cheer her up.

“And it didn’t last for long. My mum killed it” she said crying.

“We’ll find the right way to make it happen. We’ll get married, have our own little house, and our own little kids” he said still holding her hand.

Yara smiled and wiped her tears with her other hand.

“The girl will be just like you, stubborn and high tempered. But the boy will be as handsome and cool as I am” he said jokingly and Yara hit his shoulder. “Yalla go inside and don’t think negatively. Think of how to convince your mother, and of all the beautiful days to come”.

 

“Who are we kidding? She will never accept!” said Yara laying on Nadia’s bed.

“Yes. She never will. And that’s why we have to think in another way. Sajida’s way” said Nadia.

“I’m really nervous, I don’t have a good feeling about all of this.”

“But you know what? I liked the element of surprise”

“Typical Fahad. All this time I was wondering if he ever thought about marriage. I had a feeling that he was scared since he is divorced and that really stressed me”

“I love his mysterious ways of getting to you. Coming to Beirut so suddenly to tell you that he loves you, and now proposing out of the blue. It’s cute”

“I love him. I really do. And I can’t see myself without him or with anyone else”

“I think I have an idea” said Nadia and got off her bed. She picked up a notebook and a pin from a nearby drawer and came back to bed. “What are Sajida’s priorities in life?” asked Nadia as she lay on her tummy.

“Money” said Yara and Nadia wrote it down.

“Ok that is priority number one. What else?”

“Social status”

“Aha” said Nadia as she wrote that down.

“Luxury? Or is that related to money too?”

“Hmm. No harm in writing it. What else?”

“She’s a show off. She hates communicating with normal people. She befriends rich people..”

“Ok. Now, how can we make Fahad’s family look attractive to Sajida? Let’s start from the beginning, money.”

“They own several businesses. They are a medium class family” said Yara.

“We’ll have to twist that to Sajida. We’ll tell her that they own that and that etc. We could talk to her about their cars and house. And lie about them owning real estate or something” suggested Nadia.

“You’re smart!” said Yara and laughed.

“Next. Status. Hmm, anything in mind?”

“She won’t care that he’s got MBA. But we can say that he’ll eventually become the owner of all family businesses when his dad retires. His mother has her own cookbooks and her name is well known. She’s an active woman”

“Excellent. What about the father? Is he a member in the Parliament or Shoura council?” asked Nadia jokingly.

“No. But I remember Fahad mentioning that he’s a member in Bahrain Chamber of Commerce once”

“Excellent. I think that should be enough to fill Sajida’s ego”

“But don’t forget that the reason she got upset is because we’ve been seeing each other behind her back”

“Come on. She will get over that the moment we display all those attractive information to her. She will even get over that fat ugly Haitham of hers”

 

Just when Nadia turned the light off and they were about to sleep, Yara received a BBM notification:

Fahad: Where is your dream honeymoon destination?

Yara: You are very optimistic!

Fahad: America or Australia?

Yara: Can we not jump to this now? We don’t want to get disappointed later.

Fahad: I think Australia is better since we both have never been there.

Yara: Inshalla we’ll discuss this at the right time..Me and Nadia have a plan..let’s hope it works.

Fahad: Did she find out that you left the house?

Yara: I don’t think so. Or she did and didn’t care as usual

Fahad: Sleep now and tomorrow is a better day

Yara: Good night..love you

Fahad: Night xx

 

The next morning, Yara and Nadia woke up early and headed to Yara’s house to take action on their plan. They found Sajida having breakfast on the dining table with a piece of toast in one hand and a mug in the other. “Good morning!” said Nadia as she walked to her and kissed her.

“Nadio! Where have you been!” said Sajida roughly.

“I was out of Bahrain. Shloanech khalty?” asked Nadia sweetly and sat next to her.

“What is this news I heard about your divorce! I’m upset with you” said Sajida as she tightened her silky navy blue robe without paying any attention to Yara.

“I’ll find someone better don’t worry” joked Nadia.

“You better do!” she said and took a bite of her toast.

“Khalty can you allow me to discuss something with you?” asked Nadia politely as Yara took a seat.

“Ahhh. I’m about to have a headache! I can feel it coming so make it brief” said Sajida carelessly.

“We know that it wasn’t right for Yara to see someone behind your back. But as long as he is proposing maybe you should give him a chance and…” said Nadia and Sajida interrupted, “It’s either Haitham or no one else!” she said coldly.

“But what if this guy is better than Haitham?” asked Nadia.

“There is no one like Haitham” said Sajida confidently.

“That would be a loss then. You didn’t even ask who’s son is he!” said Nadia.

“Who’s son is he?” asked Sajida intrigued.

“Fouzia Abdul Ghaffar. I’m sure you know her!”

“Oh. Fouzia! I know Fouzia!” said Sajida astonished.

“Yeah. I’m sure you know her husband too. He’s well known” said Nadia and winked to Yara.

“Yes. Yes. They own several companies!”

“Yeah. And Fahad is highly involved in all of them”

“Aha. Interesting. Where do they live?”

“They have a huge villa in Saar”

“How old is he?”

“Hmm 31?” asked Nadia looking at Yara.

“32” corrected Yara quietly.

“Please think about it Khalty. He’s a good catch”

“He is!” said Sajida thinking deeply.

“Yesterday they requested to come and see you tomorrow. Meet them. What will you lose?” asked Nadia.

“Tomorrow? So soon! I got to go get ready now!” said Sajida and got up.

Yara and Nadia looked at each other gasping in excitement. “So can we confirm to them that the timing is ok?” asked Nadia.

“Yes yes” said Sajida walking away.

Yara and Nadia ran to each other and hugged, “I told you it will work!” said Nadia in excitement.

“I can’t believe this! I can’t believe that it’s happening for real!” said Yara with teary eyes.

“Ok let’s not panic! Where do we start!!!” said Nadia freaking out.

“I have to call Fahad first! Then we go look for a dress!” said Yara and rushed to her phone.

Nadia’s phone rang at the same time. She reached for it to find an international number that starts with +44. “London?” she thought and picked it up.

“Hello?”

“Nadia?” said a familiar, warm and manly voice.

“Yes..” said Nadia shivering, realizing who it was.

“It’s me, Mohammad” said the man.

“I know. How can I not know..” she said nervously.

“Nadia, why didn’t you tell me that you got a divorce?” asked Mohammad concerned.

“Why would it matter” said Nadia, still not realizing that she was speaking to him.

“Of course it matters!”

“No. It doesn’t. Is this the reason you’re calling?” asked Nadia, firm but tensed.

“Seeing you messed me up, Nadia. And when I heard about your divorce..i dunno..i felt a strong urge to get in touch with you”

“Why?” she was trying hard to limit her joy and overcome it with restrictions.

“I missed you..”

She took a deep breath, taking high control of her emotions “Please don’t call me Mohammad. It’s not right!” she said straightforward.

“Don’t get me wrong, please.”

“You know very well that I’m not the kind of woman who’ll accept to catch up with her married ex!” she said with her heart shattering.

“When I heard that he cheated on you, I went mad. I felt like finding him and breaking him into pieces” said Mohammad angrily.

“It’s over now. Just like we’re over. You have a lovely family Mohammad. Don’t ruin it.” She said sincerely.

Mohammad remained quiet.

“I have to go. Bye..” said Nadia and ended the call.

She felt a very heavy weight on her chest and tears started streaming down her face as she placed her phone in her hand bag. “Are you crying?” asked Yara as she ended her call with Fahad and walked back to Nadia.

“I’m just too excited for you” lied Nadia and wiped her tears.

 

“Yumma, tomorrow is confirmed inshalla” said Fahad smilingly as he entered the living room where his mum and sister were sitting with the TV on.

The mother remained quiet as he sat down.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I’ve been asking around about the family. And to be honest with you, I didn’t hear good things about her mother. Everyone is saying that she’s shallow” said the mother with a concerned face.

“I know that. Her mother is not exactly the perfect mother in law. But it’s unfair to Yara. She is nothing like her mother”

“That’s right mama, it’s unfair to judge the girl by her mother. Every family member has a personality of his own nowadays” said Sara supporting her brother.

“I’m not judging the girl, but she comes with a package. They are going to be family after all. This lady is going to be the grandmother of your children! You are my only son Fahad, you already have one failed marriage and I don’t want you to suffer again!”

“She makes me happy.” said Fahad briefly.

“And I want to see you happy my son. But I’m not feeling comfortable about this for some reason”

“What really matters is that they make each other happy. Anything else could be dealt with” said Sara.

“I think that we should wait. Tomorrow is too soon. It’s better if we postpone, ask more about them and pray for the best” suggested the mother.

“It’s inappropriate mama. We already told them that we are going” said Sara.

“We could come up with an excuse easily. Tell them that I’m not feeling well or something”

“You should go Yumma. Meet them and see how it goes. Maybe you’ll feel comfortable after that” said Fahad.

“But if we go things will get official. You told them that we are going to propose, Allah yhadak bas. I wish that you only said that we are going to get to know them”

“So what now? You made up your mind? You’re not going?” asked Fahad frustrated.

“It’s better to wait. Talk to her and tell her that I’m not feeling well. And we’ll see what happens later” said the mother and Fahad got up and left the house angrily.

 

After heading to the office and getting distracted with some work, Fahad called Yara without really planning the conversation in his head and thinking of how or what to tell her.

“Where are you?” he asked.

“I’m in Saks trying on a dress for tomorrow.” She said excited.

“Do you like it?”

“Not much but Nadia is saying it’s perfect”

“Listen, there is no need to rush. My mother woke up today with the flu and I don’t think that she’ll be able to leave the bed by tomorrow.”

“Oh no! What happened so suddenly?” asked Yara concerned.

“I don’t know. It happens. So seems like we’ll have to postpone tomorrow till she gets better. Is that ok?”

“Of course! Actually I’m glad that we’ll have more time to get prepared!” said Yara relieved.

“Great then”

 

“Now how am I going to tell my mum?” wondered Yara after telling Nadia about it.

“I’m sure she’ll be glad to have more time too”

“She’s a Virgo!! She hates change of plans”

“Let’s distract her with something else then. Like ask her to come here to see the dress”

“Don’t think it will work. I really want to try and fix my relationship with her though. It won’t be appropriate to be married and keep treating each other this way”

“Why don’t we take her somewhere nice for dinner tonight? This could be a start” suggested Nadia.

“You think?”

“Yeah. I’ll book a table in Trader Vics and you call her and tell her”

“No! You will call her! She listens to you but she never listens to me”

“Ok, but that would be the last time! Starting tonight you will do all the talking!”

“Deal!” said Yara.

 

The three ladies walked in Trader Vics looking their best. They were seated and the waiter handed them the menus. Nadia and Yara started going through the menu while Sajida was looking around and scanning the place to check if anyone of importance was there when suddenly, someone caught her attention. “Isn’t that Fouzia?” asked Sajida squinting her eyes.

Both girls looked at the direction where Sajida was staring and to their shock, it was! “Oh my god! Isn’t that Fahad’s mum?” said Nadia.

“What the hell? Could she heal that fast!” wondered Yara.

“And you’re telling me that she’s sick in bed!” said Sajida offended.

“I’m sure that she got better. There is no other explanation” said Yara confused.

“There is! Maybe he lied to you!” snapped Sajida removing the napkin from her lap and standing up.

“Where are you going?” panicked Yara and held her arm.

“I’m going to introduce myself! And let’s see what she got!” said Sajida and moved a step forward.

“No no no please mama please” said Yara and stood in her way, “sit down and I will talk to Fahad. No need for dramatic scenes in public” she forced her to sit down.

Yara stared at Fahad’s mum with confusion and concern. The mother was wearing hijab, a silk maxi skirt and a shirt. She was with two other women who were clearly her friends. Yara decided to have this dinner quietly, enjoy her mum’s company for a change and deal with Fahad afterwards. But she couldn’t help thinking and considering the fact that her mother might be right and that Fahad could be hiding something. There was something fishy going on and she sensed it. She messaged Fahad discreetly and asked him to meet her in the studio in an hour.

 

Once Nadia dropped Yara and Sajida home, Yara had to come up with an excuse to leave the house and go to the studio. Her mother was tired by now of all the complaining she made in the car about Fahad’s mum. When Yara lied about having to go to the studio to lock the back door, she didn’t argue much.

 

“Hi” said Yara as soon as she got into Fahad’s car that was parked in front of the studio.

Ahlain. You look good!” said Fahad.

“Thanks. Guess who we saw tonight in Traders?”

“Who did you see?” asked Fahad interested.

“Your mum!” said Yara with a forced smile.

“Oh!” said Fahad in shock.

“Bahrain is so tiny.”

“Yeah” he lowered his head biting his lips.

“Fahad. Are you hiding anything from me?”

“Why do you think so?”

“You canceled on us tomorrow because, supposedly, your mother is sick in bed. How can someone who was sick in bed this morning be dressed up and dining out with friends?”

Fahad took a deep breath “I’m sorry..” He said in embarrassment.

“So you lied to me?”

“I had to.”

“Fahad, I want the whole truth, right now. Please don’t hide anything or lie. Please” she said in frustration.

“She needed more time. She thought that it was too soon and she..wasn’t feeling comfortable!” said Fahad hesitant.

“I don’t understand. Not feeling comfortable about what?”

“Yara. It’s normal. These things happen with every proposal. She just needs more time to ask about you and your family and I can’t force her not to. She’s my mother after all”

“She was ok with it! What changed her mind so suddenly?”

Fahad remained quiet.

“Does this have anything to do with my mum?”

“Kind of”

“What do you mean kind of? TALK!”

“She asked, about your family, and no one gave her any good feedback about your mum” said Fahad hardly speaking.

“Unbelievable!” said Yara shaking her head.

“I tried, I tried so much to tell her that you have nothing to do with her and how different you are. But her only wish was to wait a bit”

“She’s my mother Fahad! What do you mean I have nothing to do with her? No matter how awful she could be, she is my mum! And accepting me means accepting her as well!” snapped Yara.

“Well, excuse me if your mother has a bad reputation! There is nothing I can do about it!” said Fahad rudely.

“What the hell are you saying? You lie to me and then tell me that my mum has a bad reputation?” said Yara hurt.

“What do you want me to do? Really, tell me. Tell me if you can think of anything that I can do about it!” he said sarcastically.

“If you really want me..you’ll know what to do!” said Yara and left the car upset.

Chapter 12. Reverie

Fahad walked out of Adliya Mosque after performing Friday prayer and shook hands with some acquaintances. While putting on his traditional slippers, he saw Osama approaching him in a white Thoab and without Ghetra, “Hey” he said and offered his hand.

Shakhbar?” asked Fahad shaking his hand.

Tamam

“Good that I’ve seen you. I owe you an apology” said Fahad as they walked down the steps.

“It’s me who should apologize” said Osama.

“We’re too old for this” joked Fahad.

Osama laughed, “Very last decade”

“Why don’t you come over for lunch? My parents will be happy to see you” offered Fahad.

“Sure.” Answered Osama gladly and they both walked to their cars like two little school boys who made peace after a fight in the school yard.

 

7aya Allah men yaneh” said Fahad’s mother as soon as Osama walked in the house.

“Where have you been?” said Fahad’s father glad to see him.

“The older we become the busier we get. I really miss your cooking khaltey” said Osama.

“Then let’s eat before the food gets cold” said Um Fahad. She was a typical Bahraini housewife in her 50s. After getting her diploma she started working for around a year and eventually gave up her career for the sake of her family. She was known for her excellent cooking, especially the traditional Bahraini dishes, that she published two popular cook books. After her son and daughter got old enough to take care of themselves, she started volunteering in non profitable organizations and spending her time between that and socializing like every other Bahraini woman.

“How is the business going?” asked Bu Fahad while holding a spoon full of rice.

“It’s slow. Companies have no money to pay for branding and advertising nowadays” said Osama.

“They rely on Facebook and Twitter. Free of charge and faster than any other form of advertising” said Fahad.

“Give it some time. You’re still new and you really need to build a reputation for your business” said Bu Fahad.

“How is your mother? It’s been a while since I last saw her!” asked Um Fahad placing some salad in Fahad’s plate.

“She’s good. Still refusing to leave her job in the Ministry”

“That’s good. She shouldn’t retire. One of the things that make Bahrain special is women like her. Being in high positions with high experience is something to be proud of”, said Um Fahad picking up Osama’s plate.

“Yeah but it’s stressing her. The procedure didn’t change and work is becoming harder by the day. It’s affecting her health” said Osama concerned.

“She’ll quit when she feels its time. But don’t try and convince her because she will only do what she wants” said Um Fahad returning Osama’s plate with lots of salad.

“How is work Sara?” asked Osama turning the attention to Fahad’s younger sister.

“Not so bad. Gets really busy sometimes but it’s quiet most of the time” said Sara.

“I’m trying to convince her to join the family business. She wanted experience and she gained it. Now it’s time to join us” said Bu Fahad pouring lemonade in his glass.

“I can’t have my brother and father as my colleagues. We have enough fights at home” joked Sara.

“That’s right. Leave your brother alone and let him concentrate on his job” said Um Fahad.

“Yeah Yeah take his side as usual” said Sara upset and everybody laughed.

Ana3m Allah 3elaikum. Best Machboos in the world!” said Osama once they were done with lunch and were moving to the sitting room.

“And now it’s time for Sara’s delicious dessert. I hope that you’ve left some space for that” said Fahad’s father.

“You better did. I made cheesecake today!” said Sara.

“See that’s why I don’t come here so often!” said Osama jokingly.

Um Fahad came out of the kitchen carrying a trey with a tea set on it.

“Now and that you’re all here, there is something that I want to talk to you about…” said Fahad.

 

**

 

Yara was lying lazily on her bed when Fahad called, “What are you doing?”

“In bed, watching TV”

“It’s 4pm! Why so lazy?”

“I was up all night and Tamara woke me up early to drop her to her friend’s house. Couldn’t go back to sleep and now I’m just tired” she answered in a low lazy tone.

“Why were you up all night?”

“I don’t know. Had a lot on my mind”

“Share please!”

“Don’t want to talk about it”

“Talk!” insisted Fahad.

“I miss my father. Everything is different without him. True that my mum was always out of control but he had his way of keeping this family together and make everything seems normal.. and warm”

“Ok. What else?” he asked trying to get her to open up more.

“The debts”

“Mhmmm. That’s what it’s all about then” he figured.

“Yes and it is a big deal. A very big deal. It’s the worst feeling in the world, to owe people money”

“You’ve got to stop thinking about it and think of a solution instead”

“Ok but not now. Please I don’t want to spend the day thinking about it”

“Then get up and do something” he ordered.

“Yeah Nadia is back. I will go see her later”

Yara’s bedroom door was suddenly opened and her mum walked in, “Who are you talking to?’ she asked.

“It’s Nadia. I’ll call you back” she ended the call.

“I’m going out now, with Haitham’s mother” said Sajida.

“And why are you telling me?”

“Because they are waiting for an answer and I’ve been delaying it as much as I can”

“I already told you my answer!” snapped Yara.

“No. This is not an answer. I want the answer that I’m waiting for. Talk to the guy, what will you lose? You don’t even know him and you have no valid reason for rejecting him”

“Good night mother. Have fun” said Yara and covered her face with the quilt.

“You are so your father’s daughter!” said Sajida and left the room frustrated.

 

“I missed you this time the most” said Yara while hugging Nadia.

“Thank you but I’m glad that I wasn’t here” teased Nadia as she hugged her back.

“I know, it was a mess!”

“I’m not so shocked that Dalool is still doing what she’s doing. Her anger will only grow with time. She lost everything!”

“Leave that now. Tell me all about Mohammed.” Said Yara in excitement.

“Let’s get out of this room first. I need fresh air, let’s sit in the garden” said Nadia.

 

“Everything changed since I saw him.” Said Nadia as soon as they sat outside and asked the maid to get them tea.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s a wonderful feeling. All the old feelings, all the old dreams suddenly came back to me. And it’s so freaky because I’ve been thinking about him since Beirut. Which makes me feel guilty all the time. I shouldn’t feel all of that to a married man” said Nadia.

“It’s just some old feelings that woke up inside you. It’s not like you are planning on making him cheat on his wife!”

“Of course not. Never!”

“Then it’s nice to feel what you’re feeling. It was real. It was THE love story of your life and you will never be able to erase it from your system. So don’t feel guilty, just enjoy it”

“I saw his wife!” said Nadia in disgust.

“Oh my god. You saw Reem?” screamed Yara.

“Yeah, she took him away, as usual. She didn’t see me though. I don’t think she did.”

“You think she’s still jealous of you?” said Yara and laughed.

“How am I supposed to know? I only met her once few years back and she almost murdered me with her looks”

“Very bad choice. He deserved someone better”

“Oh well. I think choosing my country over him was a mistake. If I could only go back in time, I’d leave everything behind and go with him” she said regretfully.

“I agree. I was against it before and I didn’t encourage you to give up your life for him, but now and after all what happened with Manaf, I think that you should’ve followed your heart and not your brain”

Naseeb

“But what a coincidence!”

“I know subhan Allah. What brought him to my way?”

“Everything happens for a reason”

“So what could the reason be? Seeing his cute son that was supposed to be mine? I can’t explain the feeling. I was shaking. Shaking from head to toe. And I was so nervous that I didn’t know how to react and I just stood there looking so stupid”

“It’s normal. And I’m sure that you didn’t look stupid”

“He said something before he left. It brought me back to life after years of being dead” said Nadia dreamingly.

“What did he say?”

“He said, you look as beautiful as you always did..” said Nadia with her eyes glittering.

“Aaawww. He still has feelings for you!!”

“No, not really. He also said that he was happy that I got married” said Nadia in disappointment.

“Of course he’ll say that. What do you expect him to say?”

“Doesn’t matter. Each one of us moved on with his life” said Nadia sadly and Yara suddenly started singing, “hobbek fy galby Mhammad, ya oyoony ya hamoody”.

Nadia laughed, “You’re insane” she said as the maid came by and served them tea.

 

**

 

“I’ve been thinking about your idea, joining our businesses” said Yara while she and Fahad were going through the sales records of the exhibition.

“And?”

“I think that we should go for it.” She said without hesitation.

“What makes you think so?”

“After the exhibition I realized that I need more exposure. I need my work to be displayed to the public. Maybe it’s time for me to go to people instead of asking them to come to me”

“I’m glad that you finally think so”

“I’m happy with the exhibition’s outcome. What I have sold in three days at the exhibition is what I normally sell in around two months at the studio!”

“Then we have a lot of work to do beautiful lady”

“First let’s deal with all the payments. All the exhibition’s income will be a partial payment to that man we owe BD10,000”

“Don’t you want to wait till you get the full amount?”

“I think it’s better to pay him now and then pay the rest when I have it. This way he will know that I’m working on it”

“Ok. Do whatever you think is right.”

“Thank you. What would I do without you?” she said and patted his hand.

Santosh entered the studio with several frames in his hands, “It’s ready Madame” he said and placed the frames on her desk. It was a collection of all press releases about the exhibition in both languages. Each press release was framed in a separate frame. “Excellent!” said Fahad amazed as he went through them. “Where shall I hang them?” she asked. “I say wait till we plan the merger. A lot of changes will be made” said Fahad.

 

Yara started organizing her desk as Fahad left. She got a phone call from Tamara, “When are you coming to pick me up?”

“I’m leaving now, I’ll be there in 10 minutes”

“Fatima’s mum is asking you to come in”

“Oho, why?” said Yara annoyed.

“I don’t know. She said she wants to meet you”

“Ufff. This is your mother’s job! Why do I have to socialize instead of her?” said Yara angrily.

“Bye”

 

The maid seated Yara at the formal sitting room. The mother then came and welcomed her: “It’s good to finally meet you. My daughter talks about you all the time and how much she envies you”

“That’s sweet. I love Fatima a lot” said Yara.

“They’ve been good friends for long, Fatoom and Tamara, and they visit each other all the time. But I have never met your mother and I see you with Tamara more”

“Yeah” said Yara embarrassed.

“My husband used to know your father Allah yerhema. He met him few times. And I know your aunts, your father’s sisters. You know in Bahrain it’s a good thing that we all know each other”

“Yeah. True.”

“But yet I have never met your mum or seen her anywhere with her in laws or with Tamara.” Said the mother digging for explanations.

“She’s not very social” said Yara politely.

“Aha, and even when I ask Tamara about her she never gives me any answer. She just smiles. So I just wanted to check if everything is ok or if you need anything?” said the mother sweetly but with hidden curiosity.

“Thank you very much. I appreciate it”

“What would you like to drink? Tea? Coffee? Juice?” offered the mother.

“Thanks I really have to get going.” Said Yara and got up.

“You’re welcome anytime to visit my dear. Regards to your mum” said the mother and shook her hand, “I will call Tamara for you now”.

 

“I don’t know what’s going on with me!” said Nadia while talking to Yara on the phone.

“What’s the matter?”

“My mind is not with me. My head is full of thoughts..”

“Is it about him?”

“Yes. I really wish that I hadn’t seen him. Suddenly I’m depressed and angry. Thinking of all the ‘what ifs’ and putting scenarios of what might happen next”

“Are you out of your mind? What might happen next? The guy is married with a kid! You just met by coincidence and that’s it!”

“But there must be a reason why our paths crossed after all those years”

“I can’t believe you. How come you didn’t think this way when you agreed to marry Manaf? Or when Mohammed asked you to leave your whole life here and go with him? You were always the mature one who thought with her brain. What’s happening to you now?”

“I’m telling you I’m going insane. It’s really painful. I want to go back in time. What was I thinking marrying that cold boring man who even cheated on me!”

“Listen to me. Go have a warm shower, read Quran and try to get some sleep.”

“No no no I can’t sleep.”

“I said TRY. You will go crazy with all those stupid thoughts. Just do something about it please. Fahad is calling, I’ll talk to you later. Bye” said Yara and went for the other line.

“Hello”

“Hey gorgeous. How are you?”

“Stressed. Really!”

“What happened?”

“I’m just tired of covering up for my psycho mum!” snapped Yara.

“But that’s nothing new!”

“That’s the thing. I’m getting fed up. I feel like running away so she starts being responsible”

“Talk to her. Try in different ways if she doesn’t listen. Find a secret door”

“I was put in a very embarrassing situation tonight because of her and I also had to deal with my best friend who is losing her mind!”

“Calm down please” said Fahad sweetly.

“I can’t. Too much frustration for one night”

“Calm down right now!”

“You’re right. I’m sorry. How was the movie?” she asked trying hard to switch moods.

“Leave the movie now. Are you at home?”

“Yes, in my room!”

“Is your mum home?”

“Yes! Why?”

“Is your sitting room organized and clean?”

“Fahad!!” she said annoyed.

“I want you to go out of your room now, go to your mum, tell her that the sitting room should be properly organized, and most importantly, to book herself a day after tomorrow”

“Excuse me? What are you saying?” wondered Yara in confusion.

“I’m sending some women over..” he laughed.

“Fahad this is really not the time for your jokes!” she said angrily.

“Yara…I’m proposing to you…a day after tomorrow….” He finally said..

Chapter 11, Mohammed

Two months later:

Yara was having coffee at the café while reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy when Nadia came in with a face that screamed joy. “Heyyyyyy” she walked towards Yara, grabbed her face and gave her a smooch.

“Ok! What’s the matter?”

“THE DIVORCE IS FINALIZED”

“FINALLY!” said Yara and got up to give her a hug. “I’m so happy to hear that!” she squeezed her.

“I can’t describe how I’m feeling. Such a relief. Now I believe that freedom is the most precious thing in life” said Nadia as she sat down.

“That idiot! I can’t believe that he was refusing to grant you the divorce all this time”

“And now it’s time for some bad news” said Nadia.

“Why can’t happy news last for a while?”

“No big deal. It’s just that I won’t be around for your exhibition”

“Noooo!” said Yara in disappointment.

“I’m really sorry. I’ll have to leave to Europe in three days to buy pieces for the shop. I tried delaying but it didn’t work”

“Why? We can go together once the exhibition is over”

“I’ll have to go with my mum. I need her to be with me while choosing the pieces, she knows better. And she has to be in Germany a week after for my dad’s check ups so we are left with no choice but to go now.”

“That’s sad. It’s a big day for me and I really need you here”

“You have Fahad here. He’ll provide you with all the support and help that you’ll need”

“Yeah but still, I need you. I need my friends. If only Dalal was still Dalal”

“Funny how we miss her after all”

“I feel guilty sometimes. Maybe I should’ve given her a second chance.”

“I totally understand. It’s the good old days that make you think this way. But when you think of all the things she said and did, you find yourself unable to forgive” said Nadia.

“Yeah, exactly”

“My mum saw her in a wedding the other day. She was with her mother and aunts”

“I wonder how she explained all of this to her mum”

“I’m sure she came up with something new. It had become a habit for her” said Nadia.

 

**

It was finally time for Yara’s exhibition. Many popular photographers and artists were participating and the press coverage was enormous. Photo holders were spread around the First Floor of Seef Mall starting from Maya La Chocolaterie and making a circle around the railings overlooking the ice rink. Yara’s four photo holders, where four photos were hung on each, were located at the spot near Caribou Coffee. She was standing by one of the holders arranging some photos an hour after the opening ceremony when Fahad appeared behind her.

“Hey beautiful!” he said.

“Hey” she said smilingly as she turned around.

“How is it going?”

“Two photos are sold already!”

“No way!”

“Yeah! I was worried that I won’t sell anything”

“You’ll sell them all, trust me. I had a look on the stands on my way here and your work is one of the best” he assured her.

After helping her with re-arranging some photos, Fahad took out a small Tiffany & Co box from his pocket and handed it to her.

“What’s this?” she wondered surprised.

“Open it and see” he answered smiling.

She opened the box like an excited kid opening a birthday gift to find a silver Tiffany key necklace: “That’s really nice!”

“Do you like it?”

“I love it”

“It’s just to show you that I’m proud of you for being here and doing all this great work”

“Thank you. Means a lot” she said as she wore it.

“Shall I get you something to eat? A muffin or something?” offered Fahad.

“A cup of coffee will do.”

“Maya or Caribou?”

“Had Caribou earlier so Maya for a change”

 

Few minutes later, Osama showed up.

“Good job!” he said. He was looking very elegant in a suit.

“Thanks. What are you doing here?”

“I had a business meeting nearby and I passed by to check out the exhibition”

“Enjoy it” said Yara and turned around, not giving him much attention.

“Yara!”

“Yes?”

“Why are you treating me like that?”

“And how am I supposed to treat you. I’m being normal!”

“Yeah and too formal”

“I don’t know what you’re expecting after what happened!”

“How many times do I have to explain this? You can’t keep this attitude forever especially that we cleared things up ages ago!”

“Can we not talk about this again? I’m trying my best to forget it and be normal so Fahad won’t notice!” said Yara harshly.

 

At the same time, Fahad was waiting for the coffee in Maya when he noticed Dalal walking by. He waived politely and she turned around and walked to him, “Good to see you!” she said.

“You too. How have you been?”

“Great!” she said and faked a smile.

“Are you here for the exhibition?”

“No, not really. It’s my lunch break”

“Do you know that Yara is exhibiting here?” he said proudly.

“Oh really? Which side?”

“There” he said and pointed all the way to where she was.

“I see. Is that Osama standing next to her?” she wondered squinting her eyes.

“Oh yeah! I didn’t know that he was here!”

“Then you better go back soon” she said sarcastically.

“Why?”

“Not a good idea to leave them alone”

“What do you mean? Is that a joke?” he laughed nervously.

“She didn’t tell you?!”

“Tell me what? Are you playing with my head again?”

“Go and ask them yourself if you don’t believe me. He had his eyes on her, and she knew about it!”

Fahad walked away in frustration without picking up his order. By the time he reached, Osama was gone.

“What’s the matter?” asked Yara when she saw his state.

“Is it true?” he asked clinching his teeth.

“What?”

“My closest friend had his eyes on you?” he screamed.

“Calm down” said Yara and took a closer step to him.

“And you knew? You knew and you stayed quiet?!” he said in disbelief.

“It was a misunderstanding! Please calm down”

He walked away in fast steps ignoring her until he disappeared from her sight. He called Osama.

“Where are you?” asked Fahad.

“I haven’t seen you so I left. I’m walking to my car”

“Where?”

“The parking lot of the new extension. By the fountain”

“Stay where you are!”

By the time Fahad reached the fountain, he spotted Osama standing next to his Audi with the front door open. Fahad took faster steps when he saw him and his breathing got heavier. He grabbed his shirt and pulled him closer roughly, “haqeer” he said.

Osama was taken aback by surprise and shock had numbed his tongue.

“Out of all the girls in this world you had your eyes on mine? What does that mean? Tell me what does that mean?” asked Fahad with his hand still grasping Osama’s shirt.

“Are you out of your mind?” said Osama and managed to pull himself out of Fahad’s attack, “people are staring! Get inside the car!”

Fahad looked around and saw that some people were staring from a distance. With his face flushed red, he swallowed his anger and got into the passenger seat. He sat quietly for few moments.

“I had no idea that you liked her”

“Come on!” screamed Fahad.

“Let me finish. I don’t know how you just found out about it, but back then you and Yara were not together. I noticed how you got closer to her but I thought that she was just a friend, just like many other girls we know.” Explained Osama while Fahad remained quiet. “And yes. She is a nice girl and you know how I was looking for a serious relationship. I asked Dalal to talk to her, to see if she was involved with someone or anything of that sort. And that was how I found out that you two had something going on”

“And that’s it? You’re saying that this is how it started and ended? The terrified look I just saw on her face said much more!”

“Dalal played a major role in this. Why do you think that they don’t hang out with her anymore?”

“That’s a total different issue. She tried to come between me and Yara” answered Fahad in confidence.

“Not just that. She tried to make me come between you and Yara!”

He let out a sarcastic laugh.

“Fahad. I’m like your brother and you know for sure that I won’t allow any girl to ruin our friendship. Dalal played with my head and made me believe that Yara liked me. I was a fool and I talked to Yara about it. But Yara got really offended and she was hurt for you!”

“Unbelievable!” said Fahad shaking his head.

 

Yara was wandering around the mall looking for a trace of Fahad. She was extremely worried and he wasn’t answering his phone. Running out of options, she called Nadia. “I told you not to leave me alone!” said Yara the moment Nadia picked up the phone.

“I’m in Rome. And no matter what is going on right now I really don’t care!” teased Nadia.

“Fahad found out about Osama and he disappeared in a very, very angry mood. I’m worried sick!”

“I told you that you should’ve told him about it”

“This is not the time for your lectures.”

“You can’t do anything now. Just wait till he calms down and he will call you”

“But what if he’s driving? He was very frustrated and I’m worried that he’ll hurt himself”

“He won’t! He’s a mature man. You should be able to have more control over your anxious thoughts. Now let me enjoy my last day in Rome and go deal with your mad issues” said Nadia and ended the call.

Yara didn’t find comfort in Nadia’s words and kept on calling Fahad till he finally picked up. “ARE YOU OK?” she asked in panic.

“Yes. I’m fine”

“Where are you? I looked everywhere!”

“Meet me by the entrance next to the fountain” he said and put the phone down. “We’re not done!” he said to Osama and left the car.

They both reached the entrance at the same time. “I’m sorry I never told you” said Yara.

“He just told me everything.”

“But what happened so suddenly? You just went to get coffee!”

“I met Dalal”

“What? And she brought it up? She’s still playing this game? And why would you believe her!”

“She didn’t lie this time! And it’s not appropriate to find out about it from her!” he said upset.

“I only did it because I didn’t want you to get hurt”

“I know but it’s not an excuse to hide it from me”

“I’m sorry” she said sincerely.

“I just want you to be focused on your exhibition right now. Let me walk you up”

 

**

Sloane Street was Nadia’s weakest point in London. It was cold but sunny that morning. She was walking around with her long hair looking as gorgeous as always with its big waves. Huge D&G shades covered most of her face and she had a fashionable black coat on with a belt that was tightened around her waist.

She was on her way out of Louis Vuitton carrying their brown bag in her hand when she suddenly spotted a very familiar face. An average height man, white skin and a goatee. He was wearing a black leather coat and holding a little boy’s hand. The world stopped. She stood where she was, and everything around her seemed to be on hold too. She stared at him pulling that kid carefully, watching his steps with a caring smile. That smile took her back in time, long back. She took slow steps towards him, and he turned around at the same time. He stared at her with his eyes glittering. “Nadia?”

Nadia was washed away by emotions, memories and crushed dreams. She stared at the kid smilingly with teary eyes:

“Khalid..”

“Yes. He finally came to the world”

Nadia lowered herself down and opened her arms for the kid. He refused to go to her and clinched around his father’s leg. “Go give auntie a big hug” he said and tried pushing him to her, but he refused again. Nadia smiled and stood up, “He has your nose” she said, still overwhelmed and shivering. He smiled and kept staring at her, “Shloanech?” he finally asked.

“I’m good, hamdilla” she answered nodding.

“It’s been years..”

“Long years”

“I heard that you got married” he said as he patted the kid’s head.

“I did..” she answered quietly and briefly.

“I was.. happy.. to hear that..” he said hesitant.

“You still live here?”

“Yeah. This little boy is British” he laughed.

Nadia smiled.

“What are you doing in London?” he asked.

“Short visit” she said and was interrupted by a woman who appeared from behind: “MOHAMMED” screamed the woman with her red lipstick and short, thick black hair. “COMING” he answered as he looked back at her. “It was really nice to see you, Nadia” he said and carried the little boy up.

“You too” she replied quietly.

“You still look as beautiful as you always did..” he said gently and walked away.

She watched him walk away carrying his son, Khalid. The son that they dreamed about once upon a time. She watched him walk to his wife, the woman who stole her love, her dreams and a man that was once hers..

Chapter 10. Complications

As he usually did every morning at ten, Fahad passed by the studio to give Yara a cup of her favorite coffee. She was sitting on her desk, focused on the laptop and going through the pictures she took in Beirut.

“Wow. That’s an excellent one” he said as he saw a picture of the sunset behind the Rawcheh.

“Yeah! I’m glad I got it right!” she said happily.

“I want to see the one of me and you. The one that Nadia took with that same view”

“Wait! I haven’t seen them yet!” she said and started skipping till she found it. “There..” she said grinning.

“I LOVE it” he said as they both stared at the picture. The Rawcheh was right behind them and they were standing on the left side of the photo. He had his arm around her and they both were laughing. He was in a black jacket with a striped black and gray scarf around his neck while she had a fuchsia shawl hanging loosely around her shoulders.

“E-mail it to me. I love how natural it is.”

Santosh walked in at that moment: “Madame, this came for you” he handed Yara a letter.

“What is it?” asked Fahad while Yara was reading it.

“It’s an invitation to participate in an exhibition in two months” she answered with her attention still on the letter.

“Oh! Where?”

“It will be held in Seef Mall.. and we’ll get to sell our photos”

“That’s awesome. An excellent opportunity for you”

“You think? I’m nervous!” she said as she put the letter down.

“Why nervous? You have a great collection. And you can always re-print old collections!”

“I’d rather have a theme”

“Even better. You can do it and you have enough time.”

“And I need money!”

“Don’t make this about the money. It’s your passion and it’s your career!”

“You’re right. I’ll just have to commit myself the coming two months to this event”

The door opened and they both turned around. They froze when they saw the face of that unwanted visitor. It was Manaf.

Al Salam Alaikum” he said.

Alaikum elsalam” they both replied dryly.

“Sorry to show up so suddenly. I need to speak to you” said Manaf . Yara looked at Fahad in a, you-can-go-now look, but he was hesitant to leave her alone with him. “I’ll be fine” she whispered.

“Call me” said Fahad and walked out without saying a word to Manaf.

“Yes?” said Yara facing him.

“Talk to her. Please”

“About what?” asked Yara folding her hands on her chest.

“You are the only person she listens to. Tell her that we should work this out. I don’t want to lose her”

“You just realized that?”

“She won’t listen to me, but she listens to you.”

“Listen to me Manaf. Nadia got hurt before, but none of the people who hurt her did what you did to her. None of them stooped down to your level”

He remained quiet.

“Are you really expecting her to forgive you? Or for any of us to try and put her in the arms of a cheater? We trusted you and treated you like family. We let you in our lives with open arms and you turn out to be that cheap?!”

“I know. Trust me, I know that what I did was bad, but..”

“Nadia is strong, she will get over this in no time and she will move on, but something inside of her will always remember this ugly feeling of being cheated on.” She said as they were still standing in the middle of the studio.

“I made a mistake. Being away most of the week is not easy..”

“Not an excuse. You lost our respect. Please don’t show up again. And stay away from Nadia!”

Meanwhile, Fahad was having coffee with Osama in the café and discussing the football match that Fahad attended. Yara walked in to pick up another cup of coffee and had a short chat with them both. Osama wasn’t focused on what she was saying, he was remembering what Dalal said about her not being honest to Fahad. He watched the way she communicated with Fahad, the way she looked at him and even the words she chose while speaking to him. There was something going on for sure between the two, he thought. But what if she really was not sincere like Dalal had said? He would never do anything that would risk his friendship with Fahad. But he still couldn’t put the doubt aside that it’s possible for Dalal’s words to be true, that Yara maybe wished that he was the one instead of Fahad. His admiration grew as he watched her speak passionately about her work and plans. And he felt the urge to try, to fight, and to do what it takes to find out her true feelings.

Yara meant to mention Dalal’s name to sense if anything was going on between her and Osama: “Did you tell Dalal to make you a copy of that CD you liked in Beirut?” asked Yara while staring at Fahad but monitoring Osama’s face expressions discreetly.

No expressions.

“No, not yet. I will call her now” said Fahad as Yara went back to the studio and Osama left the café.

“Hello” answered Dalal.

“Dalool, shloanech?

Zaina.”

“Where is the CD that you promised?”

“Oh I forgot. I will do it today and pass it to you”

“Thanks!”

“Anytime. Is Yara with you?”

“No, she’s in the studio”

Dalal let out a sarcastic laugh.

“What?” asked Fahad.

“Yesterday she was saying that she needs a break from you!” said Dalal laughingly.

“Why would she say that?”

“Maybe she was joking. She was just saying that after spending so much time with you the past few days she needs some me-time! Give her some space..”

“Ok..but..”

“Oh no don’t worry I’m sure that she didn’t mean it. Anyway, I’ll do the CD and pass it to you. See you.” She said and ended the call.

The new love excitement was suddenly replaced with doubt and fear. Yara never confessed her feelings to him. Her feelings were revealed through what she did and said, but she never spoke them out even when he did. He flew from a continent to another to see her and he had some strong feelings towards her and towards this relationship. It was the first time for him to fall in love with a woman after his divorce. He didn’t want it to go wrong again and he feared that maybe he was moving too fast.

His feet suddenly walked him to the studio with his doubts leading the way. Yara was holding her camera in her hand and staring at its screen when he suddenly walked in and stood right in front of her.

“What?” she asked and lowered the camera.

“Do you love me?”

Yara laughed nervously: “What’s with the question?”

“It’s a simple question. Yes or no?” he asked seriously.

“Fahad? What’s going on?”

“I waited for the perfect moment to say it but you never did! Does that mean anything?” he was becoming more serious with every word.

“I don’t have to say the words to show you that I do.” she said sweetly.

Fahad stared at her for few moments: “You can’t say it. You’re still not confident about your feelings and that’s why you can’t say it”

“So you’re doubting my feelings?”

Fahad took a deep breath and didn’t answer.

“And you’re saying that you can’t see it in my eyes? Or in the way I worry about you and care for you?” she asked in disappointment.

“Don’t turn this on me now!” he said angrily.

“What happened to you so suddenly? You were completely normal few minutes ago!”

“You’re still refusing to answer!”

“Come with me” she said as she walked to the armchairs still holding her camera. “Sit” she ordered him and he obeyed. She then sat next to him on the arm of the chair, put her hand around his shoulder and went through some photos of them in Beirut. “Look at all this. You don’t think that it means anything? Did I fail in any way to make you feel special? It’s normal for you to make the first moves and confess first because you are the man. You know that i’m not the kind of girl who’d make first moves or play games to get what she wants. It doesn’t mean that I love you any less”

He then picked her hand that was around his shoulder and kissed it softly, “You’re right. I’m sorry”

“I don’t know where did all this come from..” she said as she brushed his almost bald head with her hand, “but if it means so much to you…I love you”

Few hours later, Osama called Yara and asked her to meet him anywhere other than the studio or the café. Yara was certain that he wanted to talk to her about Dalal and avoid the chance of her running into them. They decided to meet up at Crepe Café in Budaiya right away.

“I love the smell of Crepe. One of my favorite things in life” said Yara after taking a deep breath.

Osama looked at her and smiled quietly.

“So, what’s so urgent?” asked Yara.

“I was hesitant, to tell you this, actually. But Dalal gave me the courage to do so..” He said.

“Oh you did the right thing. I’m here for both of you and I’m glad to help in any way I can. Me and Nadia have been sensing that something is going on between you two but Dalal refused to speak. She’s been acting strange lately. I hope that everything is ok?”

“Seems like we have a misunderstanding here” said Osama as he scratched his head.

“Misunderstanding?”

“Dalal told me that the three of you thought that I was interested in her when I asked for her number, right?”

“Yeah! She told us that your call was work related. After that she started acting all different and weird!”

“When I called Dalal, I told her that I am interested in one of you, but it wasn’t her!”

“Nadia????” asked Yara in shock.

“No. You!”

“WHAT? Me? What do you mean ME?”

“I had no idea that you and Fahad liked each other. I thought that you were only friends.”

“I can’t believe this. No wonder she was hurt and quiet all this time”

“I didn’t mean to hurt her and I apologized. She then told me that you and Fahad liked each other. But few days later she told me a total different thing. And that’s why I asked to see you”

“What did she tell you?!”

“She said that you’re starting to get annoyed of Fahad following you around. And..that you wished that.. it was me instead!”

“I don’t believe this. This is impossible. Dalal would never say such a thing. Why would she?” said Yara trying to keep her voice down.

“So…that’s obviously not true then..”

“Osama. You are driving me insane right now and I am trying my best to remain calm. All I can tell you is that I love Fahad and he loves me and I can’t believe that you actually have your eyes on the girl he loves. I don’t know if you are coming up with all this or if Dalal lied to you but all this drama is very childish!!!!”

“I would never stab Fahad in the back. Trust me! And that’s why I’m talking to you privately. I needed to know the truth.”

“Why would Dalal do this to me? Dalal is my lifetime best friend and she would never come up with stories to ruin my life!”

“If I had any idea that you and Fahad were together I wouldn’t have called Dalal in first place. I might be responsible for all this mess but i didn’t mean for it to happen”

“I will not say any of this to Fahad because I don’t want him to get hurt. I wouldn’t want him to go through the pain of losing a friend just like I’m about to lose one!” said Yara as she got up and left furiously.

As soon as she got in the car she called Nadia and told her what had just happened. They both agreed that she should confront Dalal right away before accusing her of anything. She then called Dalal and asked to meet her urgently in Nadia’s house as soon as she can.

Yara was too frustrated when she arrived to Nadia’s house but she had to go through all the chitchats with Nadia’s family. She only got rid of that when Dalal arrived and they moved to Nadia’s room.

“Hello?” said Nadia answering her phone.

“Hey Nadia, is Yara with you?” said Fahad.

“Yeah she’s here, just a second” said Nadia and handed Yara the phone.

“Hi Fahad”

Wainech? I’ve been calling you for a while!”

“Oh. I’m sorry I must have left my phone in the car”

“Where are you?”

“Nadia’s house. Can I call you back later”

“Why do you sound irritated?”

“I’m not. I have to go now I will call you once I leave”

“Yara. What’s wrong?”

“Nothingggggg. I’ll call you later!” she said and ended up the call.

 

“What’s so urgent?” asked Dalal nervously sitting on Nadia’s bed.

“I was with Osama a while ago!” said Yara.

Without saying a word, Dalal suddenly broke down and cried.

“You did say that..” said Yara in disbelief.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry” said Dalal sobbing, “I don’t know what I was saying and doing. I couldn’t bare seeing you so happy with Fahad while the guy I had my eyes on was interested in you!”

Yara and Nadia stared at each other in shock. “So you try and ruin that for her? What kind of a friend are you!” screamed Nadia.

“You realize that by doing that you didn’t ruin anything for me, you ruined your whole life” said Yara.

“I never did anything like that before and you know that very well. You two are like my sisters. I just don’t know what had got into me this time!” said Dalal while wiping her tears.

“I lost my trust in you and I don’t think that I can forgive you for this. You tried to ruin my relationship with the man I love and make him lose his friend!! This is huge Dalal and I still can’t believe that you out of all people did this!”

“Trust is fragile. Once it’s broken, it’s hard to fix..” said Nadia.

Dalal gathered herself and got up, “Sometimes life gets tough and it becomes hard to control your feelings. You should understand. And I hope that you do someday!” she said and picked up her handbag.

“If you think that life is just about men then your life will always be tough. You traded our friendship with a guy who wasn’t even interested in you. This is Friendship 101: Never let a guy come between you and your friends” said Nadia.

“I’m sorry. I love you so much..” said Dalal and walked out..

Yara was driving home with her mind occupied with everything that happened on that day; Manaf’s return, Osama’s confession, and on top of all that, Dalal’s betrayal. She then remembered Fahad and his doubts. Is it possible that Dalal caused that too?! She called Fahad immediately.

“Did you talk to Dalal today?” asked Yara.

“Yes. To ask about the CD, remember?”

“Hmm”

“Will you please tell me what’s going on?”

“Let’s just say that today..i have lost a good friend..”

Fahad came to understand that Dalal was trying to ruin his relationship with Yara, but he had no clue that the one who unintentionally caused all of this at first place was his good friend, Osama.

Chapter 9, Beirut

The talkative Lebanese driver was jumping from a topic to the other while driving the girls downtown. Dalal was sitting on the passenger seat nodding in response to his political talk and had no idea what he was talking about. Nadia was on the phone with her mum while Yara was staring through the window with her mind else where.

“Mama, the reason I travelled was to stay away from all this drama that you’re making. I really don’t care what your friends are saying or what my aunts are thinking” said Nadia.  “My God! She just can’t stop whining. I’m going to turn this thing off” she ended the call and turned off her phone.

Yara turned her head around calmly: “What is it?”

“You’re under anesthesia” laughed Nadia.

Yara smiled and stayed quiet.

“Can you believe that he came all this way to see you?” Said Nadia lowering her voice.

“And he said it…he finally said it”

“Said what? What are you talking about?” asked Nadia leaning closer.

“What I always wanted to hear..”

“WHAT?” screamed Nadia and the driver and Dalal looked back. Yara gave her a be-quiet look.

“He told you that he loves you?” whispered Nadia.

Yara winked and Dalal turned around curious: “He did?”

“He did.. he did” she said with complete satisfaction.

Everything around Yara suddenly started looking different. A boost of confidence was suddenly aroused within her and she felt pretty for the first time. It was a new kind of happiness. Just as if a dose of endorphins were injected in her veins.

“Shall we split-up or shall we shop together?” asked Nadia as they walked around Solidare.

“Is there anything specific that you need?” asked Yara.

“Not really. Therapy shopping”

“Then I think I’ll go to Virgin. There is a book that I’m looking for” said Yara.

“Dalal? What do you want to do?” asked Nadia.

“I dunno. Nothing in mind” she answered carelessly.

“Come with me to Virgin and get some CDs for the car” suggested Yara.

“Ok”

“Plus, those soldiers by the entrance freak me out. I don’t want to go alone” said Yara.

Nadia laughed: “Please, they flirt!”

“Yes. Flirting with a gun IS freaky”

“Call me when you’re done.” Said Nadia walking away.

“Don’t forget lunch! Fahad will be waiting for us” said Yara.

“Yes yes I told the driver to be here at two!” said Nadia and disappeared inside a shop.

“You don’t seem like you’re enjoying your time” said Yara walking beside Dalal.

“I am.”

“We’ve been friends for so long and we’ve never seen you like this. You’re too quiet!”

“Yeah. But don’t worry. I’m just growing up, I guess!”

“But we miss the real hyper you!” said Yara sincerely.

“I don’t understand you two. All my life you’ve been trying to calm me down, and now that I finally became the person that you wanted me to become you’re missing the old me?”

“You know,” said Yara as she put her arm around Dalal’s shoulder “you were always the one who made things easier for me”

“Me? I was always the annoying stupid one!”

“No you were not! We might tease you all the time but the way you were always happy and excited about everything made things bearable”

“That’s new!”

“If anything is hurting you, you know that we are here for you. You can talk whenever you feel like it” said Yara and kissed Dalal’s cheek.

Yara was reading the back cover of a book when her phone rang, she felt happily nervous when she saw Fahad’s name:

“Hello”

“Hey beautiful. Where are you?”

“Virgin, and you?”

“I’m with my aunt, she went to make coffee and I thought that I’d check on my girl”

Yara’s heart dropped, she wasn’t used to all that cheesiness and attention. “Listen, there is a concert for Fairouz tomorrow. You want to go?”

“Yeah I heard about it but I was certain that it’s sold out!”

“It is, but our driver has some tickets that he wants to sell. Not good seats though”

“Tell him it’s SOLD!”

 

The girls were seated already when Fahad arrived to Mayas Restaurant. “Sorry for being late ladies!” he said as he took a seat next to Yara.

“We’ve just arrived” said Nadia.

“I heard that the food here is really good” he said as he was handed the menu.

“It is” affirmed Nadia.

“Then spare us the headache and take care of the order” said Fahad.

Dalal didn’t pay them any attention. She was glued to her Blackberry. A part of her was glad that things got out in the open between Yara and Fahad so Osama would feel guilty. But jealousy was still there. She couldn’t bear seeing Yara happy with a guy.

“You two look great together” said Nadia unable to hide her excitement after placing the order.

“We do! Don’t we?” said Fahad and patted Yara’s hand.

“I’m so happy for you” said Nadia with a huge grin.

Dalal put her phone aside: “But you must be careful. You two are lucky to have nearby businesses where you can see each other, but people do talk.” She said daringly creating awkward vibes.

“We are mature enough to know what’s right and what’s not! And who cares what people think as long as you know your limits?” said Yara offended.

“I know. I’m just saying!” said Dalal wickedly and went back to her phone.

Just on the right time, the waiter arrived with the Mazza and broke the awkwardness.

“So what’s the plan tonight?” asked Yara while the table was being cleared.

“I have a booking at Music Hall but it only starts at 11pm” said Nadia.

“Oh that’s nice! I’ve been wanting to go there for a while” said Fahad as he asked for the cheque.

“I’ll be right back” said Dalal and headed to the washroom.

“Don’t worry about what Dalal said earlier. She’s been acting weird lately” said Nadia.

“It’s ok. She sounded upset though” said Fahad.

“Yeah she can be too honest sometimes but she doesn’t mean any harm” said Yara.

“None taken. Anyway, my ride is here. I’ll see you girls tonight” he said as he placed some cash inside the bill, kissed Yara on her forehead and left.

Dalal’s phone was ringing on the coffee table at the sitting room.

“Shall I pick it up?” wondered Yara.

“I don’t know, at least see who’s calling. Maybe it’s her mum” said Nadia loudly from the kitchen.

“No number!”

“Pick it up!”

“Hello?” answered Yara.

“Hello?” said a manly voice.

“Yes? Who is it?”

“Yara?”

“Yes!”

“It’s Osama”

“Osama! Hi!”

“Hi. How is it going?” he asked nervously.

“Great. You want to talk to Dalal?” she asked casually.

“Yes please”

“She’s having a shower I’ll ask her to call you back”

“Ok, thanks”

“Who was it” asked Nadia peaking from the kitchen.

“Osama!” said Yara with a surprised expression.

“I thought she said that they don’t speak to each other!”

“No idea. This girl is hiding something!”

The red curtain was opened. A blond lady in a maxi golden dress started singing in French with a band playing behind her. The three girls and Fahad were seated on a table in the front row. Yara noticed that Nadia was absent minded since they arrived. “Nadia? Is something wrong?” asked Yara leaning on the table.

“I’m fine” said Nadia faking a smile.

Yara sat straight and turned to Fahad: “She’s not fine”

“It’s normal for her to get weak sometimes. Her wound is still fresh. But she is doing great” said Fahad while looking at Nadia discreetly.

“I guess..” said Yara nibbling on some nuts.

“Last time I came to this place I was with him. That’s all” said Nadia interrupting.

“How boring!” said Yara.

“Don’t be so sad. Next year this time, you’ll be married!” said Dalal sarcastically.

“Oh by the way. Osama called you today” said Yara  suddenly remembering.

“What? When?” asked Dalal nervously and got withdrawn with her phone.

Several singers and bands appeared on stage throughout the night. After two hours of entertainment and chatters, the curtain opened again and a melody that took Yara’s breath away started playing. “Oh my god I LOVE this song!”. It was a jazzed up version of Ya Sitty Ya Khetyara that took Yara back to the 80’s. She started swinging with the rhythms of the song and singing the lyrics, when suddenly, Fahad stood up and offered his hand. Yara was too into the music that she got up without hesitation, he put his arm around her waist and started swinging her to the left and to the right. The surrounding crowd’s attention got diverted from the stage to the dancing couple and they started clapping and cheering for them in admiration. She put her arms around his neck as they kept on dancing and enjoying being the center of attention although nothing seemed to exist for them except for themselves and the music. Nadia was blown away! She was so excited to see Yara as she’s never seen her before. Yara’s long black gypsy dress made her look like a professional dancer and inspired her to make a few gypsy moves as Fahad watched and clapped with total admiration. Everyone was envying that happy couple at that moment except for one. One who was taken by jealousy and hatred of her life time best friend..

 

After spending the afternoon in Verdun for a brunch, some shopping and making fun of Dalal for flirting with a Lebanese sales person, the girls headed to Al Rawcheh in order for Yara to take some photos.

“I’ll need the sun to go down a bit” said Yara after taking a few test shots.

“We can have coffee till then” suggested Nadia.

“Yeah, I think it will need another twenty minutes for the sun to set” said Yara checking the photos.

Yara’s phone rang while they were walking to the café: “Hello sister!”

“Your sister is grounded!” said Tamara in an upset tone.

“Grounded? Since when does Sajida ground her daughters?” she laughed.

“My stupid Science teacher told her that I bring my phone to class!”

“Do you?”

“Everyone does!”

“I’ll be back tomorrow and you tell me all about it”

“Wait. She wants to talk to you” said Tamara and handed the phone to her mom. “When are you coming?” asked her mother.

“I’m fine thanks for asking!”

“You’re there enjoying your time while we have a lot to do and worry about here!”

“I’m coming tomorrow!” said Yara harshly.

“And we’ll talk about Haytham”

“That’s a closed topic. Ok? See you tomorrow” she said and ended the call in frustration.
“All my life I’ve been dreaming of owning a small shop that sells random stuff” said Nadia sipping coffee.

“What kind of stuff?” asked Fahad.

“Fashionable clothes, funky accessories, country style home decorations, gifts and giveaways. All kinds of unique items”

“She’s been dreaming of that since we were in elementary school” said Yara.

“You can do it now!” suggested Fahad.

“Yeah. I’ve been thinking about it yesterday. I quit my job for a man who betrayed me and now I have to do something with my life”

“That makes the two of us” said Yara.

“So if Yara agrees about my merger business suggestion maybe you could join and we’ll have our own department store” joked Fahad.

The girls laughed except for Dalal, who was in her own world staring at the sea.

“What do you do beside the café?” asked Nadia.

“Family business. My dad and uncles have several businesses but I’m mainly focused on the food division” Said Fahad.

“That’s nice. And this is how you started the café I assume”

“Yeah. I’m a strong believer in family businesses. I mean, if your family created it’s own wealth by being an entrepreneur why work for someone else?”

“True, but that won’t work for me since my family business is construction!”

“Then create your own division of family business. Starting that dream shop can be the beginning” said Fahad.

Dalal was clearly annoyed that day. She went for a walk while the rest were taking pictures of each other by the Rawcheh. She couldn’t bare how left out she was, how different and undesired. All those wicked thoughts were multiplying in her head when she decided to start taking action. She dialed Osama’s number. And just when she was about to press on the call button, she changed her mind and cleared the number from the screen.

It was finally time for the concert. The atmosphere was electric; the red carpet, the orchestra, the astonished crowd and Fairouz herself in all her glory and strong, magnificent presence. Nadia was so happy to attend a concert for Fairouz for the second time. But it was Yara’s first time to see Fairouz live and she was glad that she was experiencing it with Fahad.

Nadia was in her own world with all her attention on the stage while swinging melodically with the music. Her eyes got teary when Fairouz sang Keefak Enta. Her all time favorite song.

Fahad was extremely happy, he was holding Yara’s hand or wrapping his arm around her throughout the whole concert. Yara laughed every time he sang along with a song and teased him about his very bad singing voice. All of that only made Dalal feel more and more left out. During the second interval, she took her mobile and walked out. This time, she did call Osama.

“Dalal!” answered Osama.

“You called me yesterday?” she asked dryly.

“Yes! I just wanted to apologize for the whole misunderstanding”

“And I’m sure that you were glad that Yara answered!”

“No, no, it’s a closed topic”

“Do you know that Fahad is here with us in Beirut?”

“He messaged me last night saying that he’s visiting his aunt. But I didn’t know that you’re there till now! You didn’t tell me in the airport”

“We are here and your friend followed us to stalk Yara. I was wrong. Yara doesn’t like him” lied Dalal.

“What are you saying? You’re contradicting yourself!”

“Yara is responding to Fahad because he is her only option. But she is really annoyed to see him everywhere she goes. And now that he followed her all the way here, she’s just sick of it!”

“Are you sure?”

“Last night she told me something. She said that she wishes that it was you instead”

“What!?”

“If you want my advice, I’d say fight for her. Save your friend and win the girl you want….”