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….”

Chapter 8. Jealousy

Dalal wasn’t shocked that Osama was interested in Yara when everything suggested that he was interested in her. She was disappointed and hurt, but she was used to being the least desired one among the three. This had always caused her security and confidence issues that she tried hard to hide by being the hyper one who admired and appreciated the smallest things in life. When in reality, she always wondered if something was wrong with her, if she was ugly or fat or too much to handle. She couldn’t understand why men were never attracted to her. Of course, there were some pathetic men that she didn’t even consider. But there never was a McDreamy or even a McAverage in her life.

When Yara called her the next morning, she was too nervous to answer. She was overwhelmed with jealousy and anger and she didn’t want her to notice that.

“Hello”

“Where are you?” wondered Yara.

“Home.”

“Come to the café! Why are you home?”

“I can’t, I have to stay. My mum is having guests” she lied.

“Oh ok. Ready for the trip?”

“Yeah, almost. Nothing much to do”

“Ok then see you tomorrow. Oh, wait. Did Osama call?”

“No.. he didn’t call..”

Dalal couldn’t keep that hurricane to herself. She had to let it out of her chest as much as she wanted to erase it from existence. Her only solution was to talk about it with the only person who knew about it; Osama.

She logged into her Facebook account, clicked on Messages, New Message:

To: Osama Farouq

Subject: Clarification

Message: Here is something that you need to know, I don’t know if you haven’t noticed or if you’re pretending that you haven’t, but Yara and Fahad like each other!!! It’s so obvious and I don’t understand how you missed it. True that they are not officially together but the sparkle is clear!! And you come to me and ask me to talk to her? Why haven’t you talked to her directly? Or talked to Fahad? And here is another thing, what happened should remain between us. If I tell Yara she will tell Fahad and you might end up losing a good friend. So I’ll keep this to myself and you do the same too for the sake of our friends.

She then clicked on Send and didn’t bother to read the message before sending it. By this time, she realized that she didn’t just lie to Yara about Osama not calling, but also lied to Osama by acting all worried about her friend’s feelings. She was well aware that blind jealously was controlling everything she was doing.

Yara was sitting by herself in the café. She was reading just like old times. It felt good to get back to her old habit but it didn’t feel the same. She felt incredibly lonely being in this place after all the action that happened in it through the past few months. Fahad was out of town, and the thought that he will not walk in any minute just like he always does was making her miss him more. She closed the book and called Nadia: “Come to the café pleeeaaaaase” she begged. “I don’t feel like it. The divorce news got spread and I don’t feel like seeing people” said Nadia in a depressed tone. “What will you do then?” asked Yara. “I will pack” she said. “I’ll go to the studio then. Have to finish some work before leaving” said Yara.

“I love this one. I think it would look nice if we hang it by the stairs, right?” Said a Western woman to her husband as they were viewing Yara’s latest collection. She was staring admiringly at the picture of the flying seagull. “I liked that one more actually” said the husband, pointing at a photo of a kid riding his bike on a bridge with a woman wearing a white maxi dress behind him. “Let’s ask for the photographer’s opinion” suggested the woman. Yara came closer as they both looked at her smilingly. They discussed the collection with her for a while and then they described the corner where the photo will be hung in their house. “I think that..if you put both photos together it would even look nicer” said Yara as she moved one of the photos and placed it under the other one. “That’s nice!” said the woman. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to push you into buying both.” Said Yara. “Oh, don’t worry. We know that this place is not commercial and that’s why we always love to come. We’ll take both!” said the man.

As soon as the couple left, a very unusual customer walked in. “Mama? What are you doing here??” asked Yara in surprise as she saw her mother open the door of the studio.

“You have a visitor” said the mother and winked. A big man followed Sajida’s lead to the studio. He was tall and chubby wearing a white Thoab and a red Ghetra. His skin was a bit dark and he looked like he was in his early 40s . “Yara dear, this is Haytham, my friend’s son. He is here to see your….” The mother looked around to look for an excuse for the man’s visit.

“Collection..” said Yara helping her mother.

“Yes, yes, he’d like to see your collection”

Yara realized that this was the rich husband that her mother was talking about. She greeted him politely and showed him around. He was obviously not interested in the photos and the studio as a whole. He walked around slowly with both hands behind his back without saying any comment or asking any question or even paying any attention to the photos.

 Yara walked closer to her mother and whispered: “I don’t think that this man is here to check out my collection. He’s here to check ME out. Your mission is accomplished. Can you please get rid of him now?” Said Yara and walked to her desk.

The mother ignored her comment and started acting all excited: “Haytham is a very successful business man. Why don’t you both talk about your businesses? I’m sure that both of you can benefit from each other”

“That would be nice..really..but I must leave right now.. I have a..doctor appointment” said Yara trying her best to escape that awkward situation.

The mother stared at her angrily which only made things more awkward.

“I was going to take off anyway. It was nice meeting you.” Said Haytham and made his way out.

“You crossed the line!” said the mother angry.

“I clearly told you that this is not what I want but you just can’t listen”

“This man is every girl’s dream so don’t be stupid. I had enough of your meaningless rejections. You’re not young anymore!!” shouted the mother.

“Yes I’m not young anymore! But you think that it’s right for a mother to bring a man into her daughter’s life like that? To display your own daughter for him to check out like a product?”

“You don’t have to put it that way! I’m looking after you and your sister!”

“That is ridiculous. Anyway I really don’t need this right now. I’m going to Beirut tomorrow by the way” said Yara carelessly.

“And I’m the last to know? How respectful of you!”

“My best friend is dealing with a divorce and I have to be there for her!”

“Your friend is even more stupid than you are!”

 “That’s none of our business, she is free to do whatever she wants!”

“What about us? What will we do here if something happens?”

“I’m not the man of the family. Learn how to survive on your own!” said Yara walking out.

“Is it true that you’re going to Beirut?” asked Tamara as she was having take out dinner from Jasmi’s with Yara while watching So You Think You Can Dance.

“Yes.”

“And leave me all alone with her?”

“She is your mother Tamara. She will never harm you.”

“But..you know her, she doesn’t know what to do when something happens. She always calls you”

“I will only be away for four days. Nothing will happen” said Yara as she took a bite of her Original Chickee Chicken Sandwich.

“My school’s open day is on Sunday. I wanted you to attend and not her”

“She’s the one who should attend. Give her a chance to prove herself to you.”

**

“There is a lipstick that I’m looking for. I’ll be in the cosmetics store” said Nadia as soon as the girls crossed the security check in Bahrain Airport.

“I need a new memory card” said Yara adjusting the shawl around her neck.

“I have to exchange my money. I’ll go to Travelex” said Dalal.

“Ok then we’ll meet in the lounge” said Nadia.

Dalal was standing in queue in front of Travelex when she spotted Osama walking towards her:

“Dalal, there you are!!”

“What are you doing here?!”

“I’m going to Dubai. I tried calling you last night after reading your message but you didn’t answer”

“Because I’m avoiding you!” she said rudely.

“I’m sorry. I had no idea about Yara and Fahad. I thought that they were only friends!”

Dalal ignored him and took a step to the front as the line moved.

“I don’t understand! Why are you angry? I meant no harm!” said Osama confused.

“You want the truth?” she said as she faced him with courage.

 “What truth?”

“There was a misunderstanding! We thought that you were interested in me! And now, my friends are asking me about you and I have to lie!” she said as she reached the counter.

Osama was too shocked that It took him a while to choose the right words: “I’m.. sorry. I didn’t mean to put you through that”

Dalal ignored him as she listened to the woman behind the counter counting her money.

“Let’s just forget this whole thing, please” he said embarrassed.

“Easy for you to say!”

“Well, if you keep on treating me this way both our friends will notice and things will get bigger”

“You’re right. Let’s just act that everything is just like it was before this incident.” She said carelessly and faced the counter. He walked away..

“I think that I’m still in denial.” Said Nadia as she took a sip of her orange juice in the lounge.

“And that’s why you need to give yourself some time to think. You can’t make decisions when you are still in denial” said Dalal.

“In her case she can. Once a cheater always a cheater” said Yara cross-legged.

“Yeah, I know that my decision will still be the same even after a hundred years. I just don’t understand what is happening right now! I’m suddenly living with my family again, suddenly traveling with you and I’m going to be single again in no time. It’s all so unexpected.”

“It won’t be easy. It’s a big change and you’ll feel like you’re going backwards. But it’s for the best. You deserve better!” said Yara.

“Yeah, and you’ll find someone else in no time!” said Dalal rudely.

“What’s up with you? You’ve been acting weird!” said Nadia.

“Nothing, I’m normal”

Yara and Nadia stared at each other in confusion. “Normal Dalal would be too hyper and excited about the trip” said Nadia.

“Well, people change! And I thought that you’re the one who asked me to act more mature?”

“What happened with Osama?” asked Nadia trying to figure out the reason behind the sudden change of behavior.

“Nothing had happened”

“So he didn’t call you yet?” asked Yara.

“He…did” said Dalal hesitantly.

“And????” said Nadia.

“And nothing. It was work related.”

The lounge’s receptionist passed by at that instant announcing that their flight is now boarding. Dalal was glad that the conversation was interrupted as they gathered their stuff and left the lounge.

Yara took the window seat and Nadia sat next to her on the aisle seat. Dalal was sitting next to a stranger on a separate row.

“What happened to her?” wondered Nadia in low voice.

“I’m sure that it has something to do with Osama.”  Yara whispered back.

“Yeah I didn’t buy that story!”

“You think I should ask Fahad?”

“No, he won’t have an answer anyway. Guys don’t discuss such things!”

“Yeah. They only gossip about some cheating losers” said Yara referring to Manaf. They both laughed and Yara took out a book from her handbag and opened the page where the bookmark was placed.

“Do you miss him?” asked Nadia smiling.

“I do!”

“You really like him.”

“I haven’t seen him for three days and I miss him insanely”

“Enjoy it while it lasts” said Nadia in a brokenhearted tone.

**

It was the girls’ second day in Beirut. Splitting up house chores; Dalal washed the dishes and Nadia wiped the table while Yara had a shower. It was her reward for being the first to wake up and arrange for a delicious breakfast. She couldn’t resist the smell of fresh Mana’eesh that came from the baker around the corner and so she walked down the street and had a Kashkavan cheese Man’oosheh on the go. By the time Dalal and Nadia woke up, a beautiful table was set in the balcony with flowers in the center and medium round bowls filled with fresh spreads and olives placed all around it and a basket of Mana’eesh on the side. Nothing felt better than that cold breeze hitting their faces while they sipped tea and admired a view of endless mountains.

“I really don’t feel like blow drying my hair!” said Yara after leaving the shower.

“Then don’t. Your waves always look better in winter” said Nadia.

After applying mascara and blusher, Yara went to the sitting room and waited for the girls to get ready. Her phone rang, it was an unknown number: “Hello?”

“Hello you!”

“FAHAD!” she screamed happily as she walked out to the balcony.

“Before you start yelling, I got a woolen hat and a scarf. How’s Beirut?”

“It’s gorgeous. I love this place”

“Me too, I really wish that I was there instead”

“How was the game?” she asked excited.

“WE LOST! But it’s always exciting to be there!”

“Loving the spirit”

“I will call you back in two minutes” said Fahad and hung up.

Yara went back inside the apartment as Nadia walked out of the room holding a pendant, “Will you close this for me please” she said as she handed it to Yara, turned around and held her hair up. The apartment’s bell rang the moment Yara hooked Nadia’s pendant. “Will you get that please?” said Nadia and walked back to the room. Yara walked lazily to the door and opened it to find the least expected person standing in front of her. It was Fahad….

She inhaled all the oxygen that was in the room in one gasp. “Hi!” said Fahad with a grin with his hands in his pockets. He was wearing a black blazer and blue jeans.

“What… are you… doing..here?” asked Yara shivering.

Nadia came out again at that moment: “You made it!” she said and winked to Fahad.

Yara was frightened and she was staring at both of them in shock. “Surprise?” said Nadia.

 Yara stared back at Fahad breathless.

 “Please come in Fahad. I’ll get her water before she faints” said Nadia as she headed to the kitchen.

“ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME?” yelled Yara as she hit Fahad’s shoulder.

“And that is what I get for flying all the way here!”

She was still in shock and shivering.

“I missed you” he said looking straight into her eyes.

 “It’s so good to see you” she said sincerely and was almost in tears.

“Fahad. Welcome to Beirut” she Dalal approaching quietly.

 “Thanks Dalal.”

Yara stared at Dalal in confusion: “You knew too?”

“Yup!” she affirmed casually and walked out to the balcony.

“I need air” said Yara gasping and they both followed Dalal to the balcony.

Few minutes later, Nadia joined carrying a trey with four cups of Turkish Coffee and water.

“Thank you. How are you feeling?” asked Fahad as he picked up a cup from Nadia.

“Trying my best to avoid thinking about it. Thanks for your help by the way. I never got the chance to thank you” said Nadia.

“I apologize for not informing Yara earlier. It would’ve spared you that trip”

“It was the best way to find out trust me! Cutting cords right away”

“When did you get here?” asked Yara, still nervous.

“This morning”

“And where are you staying?”

“With my aunt and her husband. He is Lebanese so they come and stay here every now and then.”

“Oh that’s nice” said Nadia.

“Yeah she gets excited when we visit” he said.

“I hope that you didn’t surprise her too and gave her a heart attack” said Yara approaching a cup of water.

Fahad and Nadia laughed.

“Dalal? I need to go to a nearby shop to get some…groceries. Will you come with me?” said Nadia in an attempt to leave Yara and Fahad alone.

“But we got all the groceries yesterday!”

“Yeah but we forgot some things. Come on” said Nadia as she patted Dalal’s back and they both left.

“I never knew about your aunt’s Lebanese husband” said Yara.

“It’s the reason why I love this country. So many memories”

Beirut Sit El Dunia” said Yara quoting Majida’s song.

“Indeed. Can’t be said any better”

Yara got up and stood by the balcony’s railings “Look at this gorgeous view” she said as she stood with both her hands resting on the rail. The icy tip of Qurnat as Sawda was looking small viewed from where they were. Fahad walked to her and stood near. The wind was playing with her hair as she kept on staring far into the horizon. She turned her head to find him staring at her with a soft smile. She smiled back nervously. He pulled her closer with his hand around her waist. She felt so weak being surrounded with his masculine arm. Each heartbeat spoke a story of its own. They stared at each other’s eyes till his nose touched hers, and the awaited words finally came out: “I love you..”  he  said..

Chapter 7. Expectations

In fancy pink and golden teacups, the girls were sipping tea in Nadia’s bedroom at her parents’ house. This spacious and beautifully decorated room witnessed many life changing debates and discussions. It was always were they gathered to discuss matters that couldn’t be discussed in public because It’d probably require screaming or weeping!

As soon as Nadia arrived from Qatar, she packed all her belongings from her villa and moved to her parents’ house. She intended to do that to make it clear to Manaf that there was no going back. Her mind was already made on ending this marriage and deleting every trace of his existence from her life.

“I don’t know what hurts more, the fact that my husband cheated on me or how my parents are blaming me for it!” said Nadia. She was sitting on her bed with her hair falling on her face without any drop of make up. She was still a symbol of beauty even in her worst conditions.

“Why are they blaming you?” asked Dalal holding a cup and sitting on a nearby chair.

“They believe that I didn’t give him enough attention and that I wasn’t a dedicated wife”.

“You gave up your career for him! You devoted your whole life to him! It was the other way around, he wasn’t man enough!” said Yara angrily.

“Exactly!” agreed Dalal.

“My parents don’t see that. They only see the big picture; the divorce and what people will think and say matters to them more”

“Give them some time and they will come to their senses. There is no doubt that your happiness matters to them more. They’re still in shock.” said Yara as she refilled her cup with more tea.

“I don’t think so. Last night they were trying to convince me to go back to him! They want me to forgive him and forget that it had ever happened!”

“Did you consider that?” wondered Dalal anxiously.

“Of course not! What he did is unforgivable!” Screamed Nadia.

“Very cheap. And it’s hard to digest because it’s really out of his character!” said Yara in disgust.

“What was his excuse?” asked Dalal.

“Excuse? He had no excuse! He apologized a million time but he had no excuse!”

“But at least he’s feeling guilty” said Dalal digging for positive things to say.

“It’s too late. Guilt and apology will do him no good now”

Nadia’s mother opened the bedroom door and peaked in. She was petite but age added few pounds to her little figure. Her short light brown hair was always neatly blow-dried and her big nose was the first feature to be noticed in her face. With half her body inside the room, she started lecturing: “Talk to her girls. Tell her that divorce is not easy and that women need to sacrifice in order for their families to survive”.

The girls nodded smilingly out of respect.

“If every woman asks for a divorce whenever something happens then no couple will remain married for good” she continued while stepping in giving a full view of her short pink floral Jalabiya.

“Mama, we talked about this already” said Nadia in an attempt to stop her.

“I’ll send you dinner in a bit” said her mother feeling insulted as she turned around and left the room.

“You want my honest opinion? I don’t see you heartbroken” said Yara.

“What do you mean?”

“You are not hurt out of jealousy or because your man had been with another woman. You are angry with yourself because you made the wrong choice by marrying Manaf and because he favored another woman over you!” explained Yara.

“Isn’t that normal since I was never in love with him?”

“It’s like you were waiting for an opportunity to walk away” said Dalal.

“You’re not even crying Nadia. Look at you, you are angry and upset but not heartbroken!” said Yara.

Nadia stayed quiet for few moments and her eyes started to glitter with tears: “Maybe I’m just replacing my pain with anger. Maybe it’s easier when I’m angry with myself” she said as tears started to fall over her cheeks.

“You need to let it out” said Yara as she patted her back and pulled her closer.

“And I was feeling guilty just for checking out that guy in Durra last week. I felt like a cheater just by admiring a guy’s looks while he spent the whole week with another woman!” said Nadia sobbing.

“I have an idea, what about we get away for a while just until things get quiet here” suggested Dalal in one of her bubbly moments.

“One of us needs to deal with a divorce, one is drowning in debts and one has no leave days left from work. Can’t happen” said Yara.

“Actually, that would be perfect” said Nadia as she wiped her tears, reached for her mobile from her bed side table and dialed her dad’s personal assistant number: “Hello Abdullatif, please book three tickets to Beirut with the following names..”

**

The noise of the drill was shaking the studio. Fahad walked in to find Santosh drilling the wall while Yara was standing on a chair holding a photo. He stood where he was quietly waiting for that very noisy drill to stop. “Hey shorty” he finally said when Santosh stopped drilling. Yara and Santosh looked back to find him standing with his arms folded on his chest. “Hey! How long have you been here?” asked Yara as she jumped off the chair and put the photo down. Her hair was tied up with a pencil and she was wearing light faded jeans with striped white and navy blue Urban Outfitters t-shirt. “Nice hair! How did you do that?” he said as she came closer. “YouTube!” she said proudly. He turned her over and removed the pencil from her hair: “It looks better this way” he said as her soft hair fell on her shoulder and handed her the pencil with a smile. Yara blushed and turned around to Santosh who was hammering a nail into the wall: “Are you done yet Santosh? Please hang that remaining photo and you can leave then. Thank you”

“You’re lucky. We just finished arranging my new collection which I shot in Durra” she said turning back to Fahad.

Fahad walked closer to the wall noticing all the additions. “May I have an exclusive presentation of the new collection from the talented photographer herself?”

“Certainly. The collection is called Tranquility” she said as she stood next to the wall acting all professional.

“Interesting” said Fahad with his hand on his chin.

“What do you think of this photo?” she said pointing to a photo of a seagull flying over the sea.

“Hmm. The ability to achieve your dreams” said Fahad giving it a title.

“How? Fly high and the sky is your limit? Very cliché Fahad!”

Fahad laughed: “This is the part where you should say that the beauty of art is that each person sees it from his own perspective”

“I’m sorry but your perspective has nothing to do with art” she said jokingly.

Fahad laughed again and moved few steps towards another photo: “I love this one” he said while staring at a black and white photo of a child playing with sand with his father standing next to him. They were facing the sea and the picture was taken from behind.

“Really? I wasn’t sure about adding it to the collection”

“Why? It’s amazing! It speaks of stability”

“This is how you see stability?” she asked in a serious tone this time.

“Yeah. .” he said and remained quiet for few moments. “There is something that I need to tell you” he continued as he turned around and faced her. “Let’s sit down..” he gently held her back and directed her towards the two armchairs in the corner.

She sat down quietly waiting for him to speak. She hated how he always popped up serious announcements when least expected.

“I never told you why I divorced my wife”

“And why do you feel that I should know by now?” she asked nervously.

“We’ve become good friends..”

The mention of the word “friends” gave Yara a great deal of disappointment. “Tell me then”

“She didn’t want to have kids” he said staring at the floor.

“Oh. What were her reasons?!”

“Our marriage went perfectly well and we loved each other. But, this was a huge issue that stood between us” he said without answering her question.

Yara felt surprisingly jealous as he mentioned being in love with another woman. “Do you still love her?”

“It doesn’t matter. We’ve been out of each others lives for two years now”

Yara didn’t hear the answer that she wanted to hear and it was very hard for her to control her feelings: “You obviously didn’t get over her!”

“This is not the point Yara. Why are you insisting to know?” he said sounding upset.

“I’m not!” she snapped.

“Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to tell you!” he said in frustration.

Meanwhile, Osama was waiting for Fahad in the café when Dalal walked in. He waved politely and she walked towards his table:

“Shloanek?”

“I’m doing good. How about you?”

“Very well. Have you seen Yara around?” she asked looking around.

“Not really. I’ve been waiting for Fahad for a while and seems like you’ll be waiting too. Please join me until one of them arrives.”

“Oh, sure, that would be nice” she said excitedly as she took a seat.

“So, how’s work? Enjoying banking?” he asked.

“Not really. It’s all dry routine work but I don’t see myself doing anything else”

“Really? And why is that?”

“I don’t feel that I have the creativity or the talent to work in marketing or anything of that sort. And in Bahrain it’s either this or that”

“Or you could sell cupcakes!”

“Oh don’t get me started. Seems like all Bahrainis are suddenly bakers and designers”

Osama laughed and nodded.

“So what do you do now?” asked Dalal.

“I used to work in GFH in Investment Placement”

“Oh, is that how you know Manaf?”

“Yeah. But this is Bahrain, everyone knows everyone. I knew him before but we became friends in Doha”

“I see. And now?” she asked curiously.

“I’m starting my own business. I never liked Investment Placement but it was a good experience. I gained many connections” he said in confidence. And bonuses, thought Dalal.

“What’s the new business about?” asked Dalal but Osama didn’t seem to hear her as someone who just walked in stole his attention. Dalal turned around following his gaze to find Yara. “Oh, there she is! Thank you for the company” she said as she got up.

“Hey, would you mind if you give me your phone number? There is something that I’d like to talk to you about” said Osama a bit hesitant.

“Sure” said Dalal with a big smile and a pounding heart.

“What’s going on? Why do you look upset?” asked Dalal as she approached Yara.

“Long story. Can we get out of here?”

“But Nadia is coming!”

“I don’t care I just don’t want to stay here one more minute”

“Too late. She’s here!”

Yara ignored Dalal and made her way out of the café.

“What’s wrong with her?” asked Nadia.

“No idea!” said Dalal and they both followed her out.

“Yara. Where are you going? My car is here. COME!” ordered Nadia while Yara was walking towards the studio. She turned around and walked back to Nadia: “Please don’t force me to talk. Now open the car!”. She got into the back seat of Nadia’s shiny Black Mercedes as soon as Nadia clicked on her key.

“He hints! He hints all the time. Oh Yara you are cute, I like your hair Yara, I want to see you Yara. I don’t know if I’m crazy but he flirts!”

Nadia and Dalal couldn’t help laughing.

“And why are you angry?” asked Dalal sitting on the front seat.

“He speaks to me about his ex-wife and how much he loved her because we are GOOD FRIENDS by now” she said in more frustration.

“Calm down. I’ll take you for a drive and you let all the thoughts out” said Nadia as she started driving.

“Today he proved that I mean nothing to him!”

“Did he actually say that?” asked Dalal.

“No. But when I asked him if he still loved her he refused to answer!”

“Doesn’t mean that he still does. He’s a man. Men don’t reveal their feelings” said Nadia.

“I don’t like how he keeps using the word friends”

“Of course he’ll use the word friends. What do you want him to say? You’ve only known him a couple of months. Give it some time” said Nadia.

“I thought that you were more mature than that. You are jumping to conclusions. You are being me!” said Dalal.

Serenity finally descended in the car for few moments when Nadia turned on the radio; Fadhel Shaker was singing Law Ala Alby.

Dalal turned to the back seat excitedly: “Do you love him?”

“Leave me alone” said Yara hiding a smile and forcing her lips to frown.

“How do you feel when you’re with him?” asked Nadia while staring at Yara through the rear view mirror.

“I feel Friendship!” she said emphasizing.

“Put what happened today aside and think, how do you feel when you see him? Or when he calls” asked Dalal.

“I feel my heart falling onto my stomach” admitted Yara finally.

“Aaaawwwwww” Nadia and Dalal said together.

“Ok enough. I should get over this silly feeling anyway and be his…friend”

“Since you don’t want to talk about it anymore, I have some news” said Dalal facing them both.

“It better be good” said Nadia.

“It is” said Dalal with a grin.

“Just say it” said Yara fed up and not bothered.

“Osama asked for my number!”

“NO WAY” screamed Nadia.

“How did that happen?” asked Yara and jumped between the two front seats.

“We were talking, waiting for you and Fahad, and then he said that he wants to talk to me about something” she said overexcited.

“Something? What a lame excuse!” laughed Nadia.

“Osama from accounting!! Can you believe it!! I can’t I can’t!!” screamed Dalal joyfully.

“Maybe he really wants to talk about something! Stay calm. Don’t expect!” warned Yara.

**

Yara was arranging the laundry in her cupboard while listening to Majida. Every time she heard a message notification she hoped that it was him but she kept getting disappointed. She thought of calling him, but a part of her wanted to test how much she meant to him.

It was around 9:30pm when Yara gave up the hope of hearing from Fahad. She heard a BBM notification and reached her phone carelessly. To her surprise, it was him:

Fahad: Are you upset?

Yara: A little. You?

Fahad: LOL, I’m not upset

Yara: 🙂

Fahad: By the way, I am over her.

Yara remained quiet.

Fahad: I’m sorry I snapped. It’s just that it’s a sensitive topic.

Yara: I understand

Fahad: My trip to London is confirmed. We finalized the booking today and bought the tickets for the football match. Should start packing.

Yara: And I will pack for Beirut!

Fahad: Ha?

Yara: Nadia is taking us for few days.

Fahad: Oh. How is she coping by the way?

Yara: She’s better. We managed to get her mind out of it with our issues.

Fahad: That’s good. And you could use the change.

Yara: Yeah. When are you coming back?

Fahad: After a week.

Yara: A WEEK!

Fahad: Yeah :D.. Will you miss me? 😛

Yara: Oh don’t start..

Fahad: I will miss you 🙂

Yara: Pack warm clothes. It’s too cold over there now. Don’t forget a woolen hat and a scarf for the stadium.

Fahad: I don’t have any. I threw them all away before I came back from the States.

Yara: Then go and do some shopping!

Fahad: I don’t think that I have any time to shop over there before the game. And tomorrow I’ll be busy here with my father all day.

Yara: Why did you leave it for last minute!

Fahad: Are you worried about me 😛

Yara: Yes. Happy?

Fahad: Happy 🙂

**

“What’s wrong with you today? Why are you sitting all by yourself?” wondered Dalal’s mother as she got into her room.

“Nothing I’m just tired” said Dalal laying on bed.

“Why!”

“Can’t anyone spend some time by himself in this house?”

Kaifech” said her mother carelessly and left.

Dalal’s phone rang. She prayed that it was Osama. IT’S HIM. She jumped off the bed when she saw an unfamiliar number on the screen.

“Hello?”

“Hey Dalal, It’s Osama. I hope that I’m not disturbing you”

“No, no. Not at all” she said happily.

“Are you with your friends?”

“No I’m at home.” she said feeling a crunch in her stomach.

“Great.”

“How is your day?”

“I don’t know how to start..” Said Osama in hesitation.

Dalal let out a nervous laugh: “You can tell me anything”

“It’s a bit sensitive. I’ve been seeing you around with your friends often lately, and, honestly speaking, the three of you are amazing girls from what I saw and heard..And..there is one of you that I’d like to get to know more.” He said politely.

“Ok?” said Dalal trying her best to calm down.

“Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not someone who plays around!” he giggled.

“Oh yes we know. We know.. that.. you are a .. descent person”

“So will you help me?”

“Help you?”

“Yes. Would you please try and find out, in anyway you can, if Yara would be interested?”

Chapter 6. Affair

It was a cloudy morning. The lack of sunshine never failed to put Yara in a cranky mood. “You don’t have to cook if no one is at home. Who will eat all this food? It will end up in the trash. How many times do I have to tell you this” she lectured the maid while having a bowl of cereal in her pajamas.

“Madame asked me to always make food” said the maid in a Filipino accent.

“Because she’s not paying for it!” said Yara in frustration as she picked her phone to check the message she received. It was a BBM from Fahad: “I will be there in half an hour to pick up the photo“.

She had a very little time to dress up and the rush and nervousness made it more difficult. She picked up a yellow dress from the cupboard and faced the mirror. Too much, she thought. She dropped it on her bed and stared at all the outfits in the cupboard again with both hands on her waist. Natural morning look, she thought to herself over and over again. She brushed her hair with both hands and held it up in a bun, why am I putting all this effort! She wondered. Why am I nervous! We are friends, only friends. She thought and picked up a gray V-neck Ralph Lauren t-shirt with her favorite denim jeans and clipped her messy bun with a plastic hair clip.

 

With classical music playing in the background, Yara walked out of the small storeroom in the studio carrying Fahad’s wrapped photo: “Good morning” she said with a cheerful smile when she noticed him making his way in.

“Good morning. You’re way too fresh for a gloomy morning” he said smiling.

“Not at all” she confessed as she put the photo down.

“Here is your favorite coffee” he handed her a take-out coffee cup.

“Skinny Latte! Perfect timing. Thank you!” she said as she took the cup and led the way to two brown leather arm chairs on the corner of the studio. “Please have a seat”

“Can’t wait to hang that photo in the café!” he said as he sat down.

“You could’ve taken it days before. Why wait for me?” she took a sip.

“Maybe it’s just an excuse to see you?” he said in a steady and serious tone.

Yara smiled shyly, “I need your help” she changed the topic.

“Anything you need”

“I want to start looking for a job”

“Are you sure about this?”

“Yes, I don’t have any other choice” she said heavy-hearted.

“What kind of job? Bank? Government?”

“I don’t know. I majored in Business Administration but I don’t have any experience”

“Then it’s not going to be easy. As you know, getting a job is very difficult these days” he crossed his legs and placed one hand under his chin.

“Then what am I supposed to do?”

“Actually, I’ve been thinking about something lately and I was waiting for the right time to talk to you about it”

Yara got suddenly nervous.

“Try to imagine this” he said as he got up and walked to the wall behind the desk “Imagine if you take down this wall. What would happen?”

“I will be breaking the wall between the studio and the café?” she guessed.

“There you go!” he said excited.

“What do you mean?”

“A joint venture. We break this wall which separates our businesses”

“I still don’t get it. We have different businesses”

“And that is the cool part. Imagine a café/gallery. Nothing will change for both of us. I will still have my café and you will still have your gallery. We’ll only get to share customers. My customers will view your work and your customers will have my coffee”

“Interesting. But how will that solve my financial problems?”

“You will get more exposure, more revenue and you can expand with more products or add more services. Another option is that I rent your space. That way both businesses will operate under one management and one name, and you will be paid a fixed monthly rate which is the rent, and of course a percentage of the profit”

“Option two is a very smart way of making me work for you, boss!” she teased.

He laughed loudly “I knew that you’d think this way. The first option is a safe bet but the second is guaranteed income for you.”

“Give me some time to think about it. Too much to process. Too much for a gloomy morning!” she smiled.

“Of course, take your time. And now…” he said as he walked to the wrapped photo and picked it up “let’s go and hang this”.

She got up and followed him to the café, still holding the coffee cup; “You realize that if we break down that wall you won’t need this photo anymore”

“Till then…choose a spot” he said as he stood in the center of the café holding the photo.

“Ahh. Honestly? I think that you should replace that guitar painting with it. I always thought that it’s ugly”

Fahad laughed “You got it.”

Yara’s phone rang at that moment. It was Nadia.

“Hello” Yara answered.

“Hey. Where are you?”

“I’m in the café with Fahad”

“Big steps. Good job!”

“What’s up?” said Yara, avoiding to comment with Fahad standing right next to her.

“I’m going to Qatar today to surprise Manaf”

“Oh, that’s nice. Have fun. Will speak later”

“I’ll be back on Wednesday. See you.”

 

“Any of your friends are coming?” asked Fahad as soon as Yara ended the call.

“Not really. Nadia is on her way to Qatar”

“Her husband works in Qatar right?”

“Yeah, she is going to surprise him.” said Yara with a smile.

Fahad looked suddenly anxious. They were still standing in the center of the café. The picture that he was holding was leaning on a nearby chair. He put his mobile in his pocket and crossed his arms.

“What’s wrong?” asked Yara noticing his absent mind.

“Nothing. Never mind” he said hesitant.

“Are you sure? You seem annoyed” she said concerned.

“Let’s sit down” said Fahad and lead the way to the furthest table in the café.

“I don’t know Nadia’s husband, but Osama does” said Fahad as soon as they sat down.

“Yes we know”

“I don’t know if I should tell you this. You might misunderstand me again. But.. I know that Nadia means a lot to you.. and..”

“Please talk. It’s too late to change your mind!” she insisted.

“Osama has been my friend for many long years and I trust him. So I’m only going to tell you this because I heard it from, what I consider, a reliable source”

“Enough introductions please!”

“Osama saw Nadia’s husband with another woman several times in Qatar” he finally said.

“WHAT? MANAF? That’s impossible!” screamed Yara.

“Don’t freak out. I wasn’t going to tell you but I felt I should since she’s going to surprise him” he said trying to calm her.

“You don’t know Manaf. Manaf is the kind of guy who’s only interested in his job and the stock market, not women!” said Yara angrily.

“True, I don’t know him. But I know Osama and he won’t speak of someone unless he was sure. After meeting Nadia the other day he was really pissed off about it. And that’s when he told me.”

“Maybe she’s his colleague, or his cousin or something” said Yara trying to figure out an explanation.

“They were holding hands in public”

“Oh my god. I can’t believe this!”

“You have to stop her or there might be a big chance that she will find out the hard way”

**

“Her phone is still off!” said Dalal as soon as Yara picked up her call.

“I know I’ve been calling continuously too” said Yara with one hand on the steering wheel.

“I want her to find out. Let her find out” said Dalal angry.

“She’s all alone over there. It’s not the right way to find out”

“I knew from the beginning that he was a wrong choice!”

“But what are the odds that she walks in and sees them together. Maybe she won’t find out” said Yara hopeful.

She ended the call thinking about Dalal’s words and remembering all the old conversations and analysis of this marriage. They always knew that he was not the right person for Nadia. And now, they will have to face that fact after turning their back on it for years.

 

**

 

“Come over here” said Yara’s mother as soon as she spotted Yara walking in the house.

Yara walked to the sitting room, dropped her handbag and took a seat comfortably in preparation for Sajida’s next storm: “Yes mother”.

“I got you a husband” said Sajida coldly while filing her nails.

“What? You’re funny!” laughed Yara.

“I’m serious. A good catch as well” said raised her head.

“So you went husband-hunting for me?” said Yara sarcastically.

“And why not? These days, this is what good mothers do” said Sajida proudly.

“This is really not a good time mama..” said Yara and was about to get up.

“Wait, I didn’t finish”

“Mama, you know me better than that. You know that I will never get married this way or in any other arranged way by you or by anyone else” said Yara emphasizing each word.

“We don’t have a choice this time. He is rich and if you marry him it will be our way out of all those debts” she said, still as cold as ice.

“I can’t believe you. Even if a miracle happens and I marry this guy, how can you accept to make him pay for our problems” said Yara angry.

“You’re a little girl. By time, you will realize that life is not what you think it is.”

“Please don’t open up this topic with me again” said Yara and walked away.

“You are making a big mistake. Be smart for once in your life!”

Yara ignored her and kept walking away.

 

**

 

Nadia walked to the reception desk of The Ritz Carlton Doha where two receptionists received her with warm smiles. One of them greeted Nadia and welcomed her while the other was engaged in a phone conversation.

“How can I help you Madame?” asked the receptionist.

“I need the key to Mr. Manaf Mansour’s room. I’m his wife”

The receptionist looked confused: “Mr. Manaf from Bahrain?”

“Yes. He doesn’t know that I’m here”

“But.. can you excuse me for a second?” she walked few steps away, picked up the phone, dialed three numbers and waited. She was tapping her fingers on the table nervously. There was no answer. She whispered some words to the other receptionist who stared at Nadia confused and shook her head.

“I apologize but I’m not allowed to give anyone a key without the permission of the guest”

“Oh come on. I’m his wife and I’m here to surprise him. He won’t mind, trust me” begged Nadia.

At the same moment, one of the higher level hotel staff passed by and noticed the two of them arguing. “What’s the matter?” he asked. Nadia explained the situation to him while the receptionist listened quietly.

“Give her the key” he ordered.

“But..”

“It’s ok, Mr. Manaf is a regular. Give her the key” he insisted.

 

The sound of TV was heard through the door as Nadia inserted the key card and the small green light blinked. She walked in dragging her small bag and the door shut behind her.

To her surprise, there was a lady in tight jeans and white sleeveless t-shirt lying comfortably on the sofa. Her long black hair was covering her arms. The lady suddenly sat up, terrified of the image of a strange woman standing in front of her.

“I’m sorry, they must have given me the wrong room” said Nadia as she turned around embarrassed.

On her way out, her eyes fell on a black Delsey suitcase with a familiar sticker on it. A sticker that said: Nadia & Manaf in a calligraphic Arabic font that was specially made for their wedding giveaways. Isn’t this the suitcase I packed for Manaf? She wondered. She looked back and forth between the lady and the suitcase trying hard to put the pieces of the puzzle together. “Who are you?” asked Nadia in confusion. The lady stood up, picked up her handbag and walked out without saying a word realizing who Nadia was.

Nadia’s head started spinning with flashbacks that are finally making sense to her; The receptionist’s hesitation, Manaf’s ignorance and recent lack of affection. The twister inside her head kept getting wider and faster as the shock grew bigger and as the pieces of the puzzle were finally put together; My husband is cheating on me..