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.
“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, not yet. I will call her now” said Fahad as Yara went back to the studio and Osama left the café.
“Hello” answered Dalal.
“Where is the CD that you promised?”
“Oh I forgot. I will do it today and pass it to you”
“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..”
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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?”
“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.