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.
“Where are you?” wondered Yara.
“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
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.
“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.
“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.
“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?”
“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.
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.
“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..