You might have heard of the ever so popular online sensation, a story titled Just Another Emirati Kinda Love Story written by the wonderful Shahd Thani ^^ Well the Untitled Chapters Team is thrilled to announce that we’ve got a special treat for our readers. The chapter that Shahd read in the Untitled Chapters 1st Birthday about one of her characters will be posted exclusively on the Untitled Chapters website, in honor of the March theme Villains. Here is ElMaha’s exclusive chapter. We hope you enjoy
Elmaha firmly believed in being the kind of girl who could shake the devil to his core. In fact, something similar was written on the mug she sipped on at work. She worked for her father’s company. It was something her brother had rebelled against which had been an advantage to her. She preferred having her father all to herself. He poured all his hopes for his son upon her and she rose up to the challenge by being tougher, harder, and more of an asset. Her father quickly learned that his daughter had sharp business acumen and an understanding of human beings. She missed nothing. She thought about the events of the engagement she attended last night as she sipped her extra foam cappuccino.
She had woken up that morning, languid, and stretching like a cat. Her phone rang incessantly but she ignored it. It wasn’t long before she received a series of courteous messages on her BBM. She opened them letting him see that she read his messages but didn’t reply. It won’t be long now, she thought to herself, before he proposed. She was the siren, the mermaid, who led men to their deaths, or at least to the matrimonial cage. The sooner he showed interest enough to approach her father, the sooner she could free Mayed from the obligation their fathers have thrust upon him.
It was ridiculous, really. As if there were no marriage prospects but one’s family. It had suited her interests while it lasted. The problem was that none of the men she knew had been a challenge until him. He had walked in like a Bedouin prince, a cowboy and an indulged poster boy of an Emirati man all rolled into one. He had the confidence of men who knew their worth. When she finally met his interested glance she was cool but she let him know with her eyes that he had been measured, weighed, and found wanting. He had met her gaze full on and instead of being shaken had smirked knowingly. Later his fingers brushed against hers as he handed out his business card to those present in the meeting room, his scent enveloped her. He smelled like a blend of sandalwood and leather. She found him heady and intoxicating.
He had been giving a proposal about his new start up company. He answered questions charmingly. Someone asked him where he had studied and he said he studied law in Harvard. She liked his English accent, a mix of Emirati and American. It had a rusty edge to it like double shot of coffee and drizzled with chocolate. When he laughed it was deep and throaty, almost like a Porsche engine. He had eventually pursued her. She let him.
He had tested her with hypothetical situations and rhetorical questions. She had replied to them with irreverent teasing and a biting wit.
“Let’s be clear” He informed her as she was getting ready to go to her cousin’s engagement.”I don’t want to get married. When I do it certainly won’t be to someone I’ve talked to on the phone.”
She leant against the mirror eyeing her reflection as she drew on her eyeliner. Her hair fell in haphazard ringlets falling down her back. She took a step back to admire the effect. She contoured her cheek bones with a swipe of bronzer. She had always liked the idea that eyes were the windows to the soul yet the right coquettish ruffle of an eyelash and they became shuttered and mysterious.
“You’re willing to marry a person someone else has spoken to?” She asked after she had paused long enough to make him worry.
“so you don’t believe there are girls out there who haven’t spoken to a man?” His voice was low and gritty with an edge of challenge.
She bristled at it as she fluffed her hair and teased the volume. When it finally looked the way she wanted to, she turned away from the mirror.
“I don’t know about that. What I do know is that if you fancy the same kinds of girls over and over then marry the type society taught you that you want, then it makes for a boring marriage indeed.”
Either way I’m not looking for a relationship. I happen to be engaged” She had said the last sentence smugly and with a tinge of regret.
“Ugh I know that lie” he returned “A girl is in a relationship for years and says she’s engaged”
“You can always ask my father” Elmaha purred as she dropped her lip balm into her clutch. “I’m disappointed in your tombstone mentality frankly. Someone like you should be more enlightened given your background. It’s just like a guy to chase every skirt, every Abaya, every multiple nationality and then you demand innocence like its god given right? It doesn’t work that way. God will reward your intentions and pay you back accordingly”
“Will he pay you back accordingly too?” He said insolently not missing a beat
“Maybe” She said airily slipping into her fancy Abaya. She let him hear the smile in her voice “I expect it”
She thought about his words as she went through the motions of greeting people at the engagement party. His mocking tone and the way he uttered the words dug under her skin and itched. She caught sight of Hana and was pleasant to her. She noticed the watchful gaze but shrugged it off to the fact that her party dress was a little risqué. She felt her phone buzz and checked her phone.
“I’m in your neighborhood”
“How do you know where I live?” She texted back
“I’m a man of mystery and countless resources”
“Well, oh man of mystery and countless resources. You can go prowl your own neighborhood. This one’s mine!”
She felt weary suddenly. The music was too loud and she was getting a headache. Suddenly she wanted very badly to go home and drop all the facades. She wanted to sink into her bed and watch the movie 1900 for the millionth time. She headed towards the gate thankful she lived only a few steps away.
She could hear the sound of men having a conversation but a line struck out at her and she stepped closer to listen.
“Beautiful in that cold eat your head off black widow kind of way”
“But” Mayed continued “I do know that getting married to Elmaha to escape your issues is not the answer. Face her”
She couldn’t hear what Sultan mumbled.
“You don’t want Elmaha” said Mayed “God knows I don’t want her! She’s a snobbish know-it-all who screams fake. I could barely stand her when we were kids. I don’t know how I’ll be able to stomach being married to her.”
“Who said I wanted to be married to either of you clowns?!” She suddenly snapped hating that her voice sounded a little thick with emotion. The feeling of rejection was a vile brew to swallow and she was already weak from her earlier conversation, from the text messages, and from the games. She was so tired.
Elmaha felt a hand on her arm. She was seething. In her high heels, she towered over the younger Hana. Elmaha and Hana had always existed on the peripheries of each other’s lives and for the life of her, she couldn’t remember ever being offended or upset with Hana.
“Don’t mind the idiots Elmaha” Hana looked up at her with guileless eyes before narrowing her eyes at her brother and Mayed.
“Hana go inside” Sultan ordered
Hana was like a child in many ways, but Elmaha saw now that she carried herself like a woman who knew she was adored. Elmaha caught the way Mayed’s eyes followed Hana . The fear of losing her affection and his befuddlement at her beauty stirred within his eyes along with a dozen emotions. She shrugged Hana’s hand off. She opened her mouth to apologize as the twinge of guilt hit her but snapped it shut. She almost loathed Hana for the luxury of love. It was the only thing she could never afford.
She stalked off wondering what it would be like to be loved wholly and completely for being who you are. She found herself weary of playing mind games, chess, and strategic warfare to get what she wanted. She often found it stimulating but every now and then she would catch a couple who didn’t seem to need manipulation and maneuvering. She envied them the honesty of that as well as the love. She had always known she was cold inside and incapable of feeling too much.
“Elmaha wait” Mayed caught up with her, a little out of breath “How do you walk in those things?”
“I can stab a person in the eye with them too” She said seriously stopping to look at him.
He was tall enough that she had to glance up to be able to look him in the eye. She approved of his wide shoulders and his chiseled face. He was handsome, her cousin, but she could see his boyishness. There was earnestness in his eyes. There was a desire to please, a need for approval, and it was his weakness.
“I’m sorry” said Mayed seriously “It wasn’t fair of me to pretend like it was going to go away and to ignore you the way I did”
“You should have been honest, Mayed” said Elmaha. She almost smirked at the irony of her own words, but shouldn’t cousins and family be sincere with one another? If the world was full of corruption, then family, cousins, and sisters should be what one anchored themselves to. “I already know who I’m marrying its not you”
It was a pity too. She fancied with his transparency and that need for his father’s approval, she could have had him eating out of the palm of her hand. He was in love with Hana, though, and that would have made things very difficult. Oh well, she supposed she would have eventually tired of him too.
“Your father refused everyone else”
“Because it didn’t matter to me one way or the other” Elmaha shrugged. Her phone rang and she unwound the ear piece and delicately laid it in her ear to keep it from tangling with her earrings.
“My mom” she mouthed to him
“I’m home. I’m going in now” she said, her voice was soft and girlish as she spoke. She noticed Mayed was staring at the Porsche and she felt a little thrill that her cousin did look good enough to be a threat. Her heart beat in excitement. Mayed’s eyes met hers in understanding and compassion. She didn’t know what to make of it,
“Don’t worry about me, Mayed” Elmaha turned to him and despite herself she felt a little affectionate about him. “I’ve always known exactly what I want. Thank you for seeing me home. You may be a child but at least you are a gentleman”
As she strode into her home feeling the night breeze ruffling her Abaya and the click of her heels were loud in the silence. She smiled to herself because Mayed was still gazing at her admiringly and not without a hint of respect.
“Who is that man?” The disgruntled voice on the phone demanded
“Oh, couldn’t you tell?” Elmaha returned amused “That was my fiancé”
Author: Shahd Thani
You can also catch our interview with Shahd here