A Silent Prayer : Chapter 10: THE VERY FIRST DATE

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Rania has invited me to a Persian restaurant on Bay Street. Ali has gone to pick her up, and they should be here any minute. The restaurant is a low-profile one, but the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Soothing Persian music blends perfectly with the ambience. Surprisingly, all the tables in the restaurant are private, each encircled with a wooden gazebo. I'm relieved, because we need to talk, and we don't want to be bothered by strangers. All the patrons are seated on floor cushions, relaxing in the cozy environment, and the tables are at knee height.

I like her choice. I don't care if the food is up to the mark or not, as the place is more than I expected. The walls are deep red, and the only lights seem to be on the individual tables. I'm pleased that she agreed to meet me today. Time seemed to stop when she left the party.

I am furious at the gossip columnists. I don't know how Rania will react to all this media exposure. She didn't sound angry over the phone, though. Or is she too kind to express her grudge against me? If I were to put myself in her shoes, I can't imagine facing people at work, either. I will have to do something to protect her from this bizarre situation. I look at the pictures again on my phone.

She is something extraordinary.

I decide to enlarge our dance picture and place it somewhere in my apartment, so that it will greet me when I come home. I would also like to keep the picture at my bedside, so when I wake up in the morning, I will see her charming smile.

Fuck! What am I? Eighteen?

Even though I'm upset with the paparazzi, I am delighted that our precious moment was captured, when she was laughing delightedly. I can only adore her through pictures; she would never let me tell her how I feel. Her reserve is one of the things that attracted me most.

I've had sex with so many women, but none of them made me feel as good as I felt when I looked into her eyes, when she laughed innocently at my silly jokes, when she put her trust in me and let me see her cry. I will never do anything to damage that trust.

I am engrossed in my phone, gazing at her pictures one by one, when I suddenly hear her sweet familiar voice.

"Hi, I hope I am not late," she says, putting her bag down on the floor. I stand up from my cushion and welcome her with a handshake.

"No, you're on time. I arrived a couple of minutes ago." I'm lying; I've been here much longer. How can I tell her that each second waiting for her felt like eternity? We both sit, on opposite sides of the table. She looks incredibly beautiful in her skirt and pink top. "You look..." So fucking hot! I pause and gaze at her intensely, looking for the right word: "magnificent." She looks down, blushing. "Your blouse matches your skin." She raises her eyes to mine, an unusual shyness in them.

"Thanks, but I guess I look famished. We need to order fast, or else I will die." She changes the topic, avoiding my eyes completely. "Let's order an appetizer first. What would you like to have?"

"Anything you like. I'm your guest and I'm here to be entertained by your hospitality." I wink at her, relaxing back on the cozy cushions. She glances at me once and hides her face behind the menu. My humor makes her feel awkward. After a few minutes of hide and seek, she puts the menu down and calls the waiter. She orders bruschetta made on Persian flat bread with their blended yogurt, and fresh lime juice for both of us.

We sit quiet for a moment, each waiting for the other to break the ice. I had no idea how fucking difficult it could be, to talk to a girl when she's the one to whom I want to tell everything I feel about her. She starts looking for something in her bag to keep herself busy. Finally, she takes out the newspaper and hands it to me.

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