Usually, I prefer to drop a personal project when it doesn’t get many interests like this story or September Moon that way I can dedicate my time to pick up other projects. I’m thinking that this probably will be the last part published on the blog. When I get around to finish it, I will publish it through other medias.
“Hafiz, how are you enjoying the party?” Princess Latifa asked when they passed by her near the buffet table.
“It’s very nice. The food is delicious. Congratulations, on Ahmed’s engagement, I haven’t had a chance to speak to him, I think he’s still busy receiving all the well wishes from the guests.” He replied.
She glanced at Tia, “How do you know Miss Chang? I think she started working long after you left the company.”
“Tia is my….my childhood friend.”
“Ah, I see.” She nodded, “It was nice of you to dress your date up in exquisite clothes.” She looked at Tia from head to toe.
“Madame, thank you for your compliment, the dress was a gift from my aunt, and the diamond necklace was a gift from my cousin,” Tia told the truth.
“Tia has some well off family members.” Hafiz bragged subtly.
“I suppose so…” She mumbled displeased, “I’m going to greet the other guests.”
“That went well,” Hafiz said after Princess Latifa left, “At least she knows she’s not the only person with money in town.”
“I need to go to the restroom.” She replied, “Hey, remember that you’re supposed to be my date, cousin. So don’t go around hunting for skirts. It’s bad enough that Madame Al Rashid invited me here to see my boyfriend get engaged, I don’t want her to laugh at me when she sees my date hitting on other girls.”
“I know…I know, don’t you trust me?”
“Of course I don’t!”
* * *
“Hey, we need to talk in private,” Ahmed grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her away as soon as she came out of the bathroom.
“What are you doing?’ She tried to pull her hand away. “What are you doing?”
“Nothing, I just want to talk. In here.” He opened a door and pushed her in.
Tia looked around, they were in a bedroom, it had the same color scheme and taste as his apartment. “Can we talk some place else?” She winched nervously.
“Why? It’s not like this is the first time you’re alone in a room with me.” He said while he sat on the bed, “I only want to talk unless, you have other things in mind.”
“Ha..ha…” She replied sarcastically sitting on the side of the bed.
“I know how you feel, but I couldn’t embarrass my mother on her wedding anniversary party.”
“You know how I feel do you? Ah, that’s right, your ex-girlfriend left you to marry another man before we started dating.” Her tone was the same.
“Tia…, I didn’t know that this was going to happen, you do believe don’t you?”
“You know, I did find it kind of strange when your mother insisted that I come to this party, that’s why when I told my aunt about it, she insisted that I came with Hafiz. According to her, your mother will behave in front of him. And probably she’s right, because three hours later, I’m still here, in this house. Every time we walked past her, she smiled. But then again, she might be smiling because she knows that she won, her son is finally engaged to the girl of her choice while I watched.” She huffed without answering his question.
“She can make me put a ring on anybody’s finger, it doesn’t mean I’m going to marry her.” He assured.
“And do you know what else I found out? That your mother came to my house and tried to pay off my mother so I would leave you, can you imagine that? I can accept her looking down at me and trying to trick me so we would break up, but why did she have to humiliate my mother?”
“I’m so sorry about that…” He sighed.
“Ahmed, you’re not going to disappoint me, right? You are serious about me, aren’t you?”
“Of course I am, if I wasn’t serious, why would we be having this conversation?”
“Even though….even though…I’m not the only woman you’ve taken to bed…..” She asked gingerly.
“Who told you that?” Ahmed arched his eyebrow.
Ahmed took a deep breath, “Tia, you’re not my first. But I promise that you’ll be my last. Trust me, okay?”
“Why? Why should I trust you? Why am I any different from any other woman you’ve been involved with? Why am I any different from Ratna?” She challenged.
“Why? I don’t know why. I don’t have any logical reasons. It’s just the way I feel about you. My feelings are sincere,” Ahmed responded.
“Not convincing!” Tia stood up.
“Wait!” He grabbed her hand, “Don’t be angry. What should I do to make you believe me?”
“I think we should go back to the party before your mother realizes that we’re missing,” She said calmly.
“Tia….” He pulled her close, moving forward to kiss her.
“I don’t think so, you’ll smudge my makeup…” She pushed him by the chin.
“What the….? Smudge your makeup?” He couldn’t believe his ears.
“Hmm…wait, do you still want to prove your sincerity to me?”
“Of course,” His voice was assertive.
“Good!” She came closer to him, pressing her face against his chest.
“Now…….” She smiled looking at the lipstick mark on his shirt, “Let’s go back outside.”
“Are you trying to mark me?” He asked, “I’ll show you the right way to put a mark.”
“Hey, let me go….” She shrieked as he grabbed her by the waist.
“Don’t reject me, please. That’ll drive me crazy……” His voice quivered as he buried his face on her back.
“Today you got engage to another woman, you can’t expect me to…..”
“I’m not asking for that, I just want to hold you, that’s all. You’re so beautiful tonight.” He rubbed his nose against her neck. He could hear her gasp as his gently sucked her skin .
“Let’s stop here! This isn’t right!” She pulled his hands away, her voice sounded stiff and upset.
“Okay…okay……I’m sorry. If you’re not willing, I won’t force you.”
* * *
“Congratulations on your engagement!” Hafiz raised his champagne glass at Ratna.
“And you are?” She asked.
“My name is Hafiz, how should I explain my relation with the Al Rashids, my older brother is the biological son of Madame Al Rashid…”
“Ah….I heard that Auntie Latifa has another son…” She nodded.
“That’s right…” He winked.
“And are you close to my fiance?”
“You could say that…..” He smiled, “He must have done something incredibly good in the past to be able to capture the heart of an angel like you…”
She blushed, clasping her red tinted lips while bowing her head.
“Where is Ahmed?” Hafiz looked around, “I haven’t had a chance to congratulate him directly.”
“I think he went to speak with the guests.” She replied.
“Tsk..tsk..tsk…..” Hafiz shook his head, “If you were my fiance, there wouldn’t be anything on the face of this earth that can make me leave my beautiful goddess alone at a party like this. What happens if some shameless guy comes up and tries to hit on you….”
“Who would dare do that in my own engagement party.”
“You’re funny….” She laughed nervously.
Hafiz laughed too, lifting his glass again and bringing it to his mouth looking at her from the corner of his eye.
“And where is your date?” She asked making small talk.
“My date? She excused herself to the restroom.” He responded.
“Ah….” She nodded.
Hafiz saw a waiter passing near them, he stopped the young man, taking a glass of champagne from his tray and handing it over to Ratna.
“Thank you….” Her face flustered again.
* * *
“Ahmed, where were you?” Princess Latifa asked when she finally saw her son.
“I was outside talking to some of the employees.” He said lightly.
“You should be in here with your fiance!” She scolded.
“My fiance? Mama, you should know that I went through with this charade because I didn’t want to embarrass you in front of all the guests. But honestly, I can’t care less what she does or how she feels.”
“Ahmed! A true gentleman shouldn’t say offensive things about a woman.”
“Well then I’m not a true gentleman, am I?” He shrugged his shoulder, putting his hands in his trouser’s pockets.
“What’s that?” Princess Fatima starred at his shirt, she grabbed him by the tie and pulled him closer, she carefully observed the pink smudge, “Ratna is wearing a red lipstick, who’s lips are those? It’s her again, isn’t it? You were with her, weren’t you?”
“You’re seeing things, what lipstick? I don’t wear lipstick, I’m not that kind of man.” Ahmed pretended that he didn’t understand what she meant.
“Don’t patronize me!” She hissed.
* * *
“There you are,” Tia tapped Hafiz on the shoulder as he was chatting with Ratna.
“Hey, where were you? I was looking all over for you!” He stated.
“I lost track of time chatting with my friends…” She lied.
“Is that so…?” He lifted an eyebrow.
“Thank you for coming to my engagement party, Tia…” Ratna interrupted.
“Ah, of course…congratulations.” Tia replied with a fake smile.
Ratna looked at her with aversion, “Excuse me, I’m going to look for my parents.”
“You should be careful, the mosquitoes here are huge. Look at how they bit you” Hafiz commented satirically seeing her neck. “Ahmed!” Out of the blue, he called out when he saw Ahmed walking a few meters away from them.
Ahmed walked towards them, “Hey Hafiz. Thanks for coming to my parents’ anniversary party.” They shook hands.
“But the anniversary wasn’t exactly the highlight of the night, was it?” Hafiz looked at him sharply.
Ahmed didn’t reply.
“I should congratulate you on your engagement.” Hafiz continued, “I find it strange that you didn’t mention anything about it the last time we talked.”
“It was a surprise for me too.” Ahmed replied coldly.
“It seemed like a pleasant surprise….You looked very happy and willing to oblige.” Hafiz’s face became hard.
“Hafiz, let’s not argue here, we should go….” Tia whispered.
“I guess, that’s a good idea. The air here is becoming heavy with the stench of hypocrites.” He snarled.
“Hypocrite, huh?” Ahmed bawled softly. “Isn’t that what you call someone who pretends to be a friend but talks crap about people behind their backs?”
“No…hypocrite is someone who takes advantage of their friend’s “sister” and try to worm their way out of responsibility.” Hafiz came back with a forced grin.
Ahmed pursed his lips together, looking at him sharply, “This has nothing to do with you!”
“Of course it does, when you mess with my family you mess with me!” Hafiz stood firm.
“That’s enough” Tia snapped. “What is wrong with you two?”
“Tia, can you excuse us? we need to talk,” Ahmed’s voice became gentle.
“But don’t argue! Or if you have to argue, don’t do it here.” She derided.
“I won’t, I promise.” Ahmed replied.
Tia walked away, looking back at them from time to time to make sure they didn’t behave with hostility with each other.
“What do you want to talk about ?” Hafiz started again.
“What did you say to her?” Ahmed began interrogating.
“The truth!” Hafiz bellowed.
“I don’t know what you think you’re doing trying to get between us.”
“Get between you? I don’t think there’s a need for that. Your mother is doing a great job at that already.” Hafiz snickered.
“Why are you attacking me?” Ahmed furrowed.
“I’m not attacking you, I’m defending my cousin.” Hafiz frowned. “If she hadn’t given herself to you, I would never agree for her to be with you. I know you. We used to hang out together. You’re not the kind of man I hope my cousin will end up with.”
“I’m not? And what kind of man do you think is best for her? Like you?”
“Definitely not like me, but not like you either. She deserves someone who would protect her and care for her. Could you do that? Look how your mother treats her and our family.”
“Hafiz, you don’t need to try and teach your cousin on how to catch me, okay? I’m already captured by her. Why not help me convince my mother instead?”
“How?” Hafiz asked.
“I don’t know yet, but I’ll come up with something.” Ahmed brooded. “Maybe I’ll need your mothers help too.”
“Okay, fair enough. We’ll help you for my cousin’s sake. But you should also know, I’m not only here to help you with my cousin. I’m here to make sure that you keep your zipper up around her….”
* * *
“He said that did he?” Raden Nabila asked as she sat by her son’s bed. “Do you think he meant it? Or was he saying it to appease you?”
“You know, mother. For some strange reason, I think he is sincere.”
“Hmm….” She furrowed nodding her head, “And what about the girl? The one he got engaged to?”
“She’s actually a nice and pleasant woman. But I think she should open her eyes and understand that Princess Latifa is only using her to separate Ahmed from Tia.”
“Okay, you should get some rest. Tomorrow we are going to start operation breaking up the engagement!”