It was a beautiful evening and Kendra sat back against the wall. The sky was clear and the half moon hung from it like it was hanging from a celestial hook. “What did Khalid say about your father’s business? He wants you to run it?”
Asra sighed. “Yes, it’s a constant battle. My father is getting old. He wants me to leave flying and run the restaurant. But my sister helps him at the restaurant, she’s been basically running it for years, and really she’s the one who should inherit the business. She’s the one who wants to inherit the business, but my father is very traditional. It is a big conflict in our family. I’ve tried to tell them both I don’t want the business but they won’t listen, either of them.”
“It sounds like a terrible situation.”
“It is. My family… well, you know families. I love them but I try my best to stay away.” Asra laughed but Kendra could hear a streak of sadness running through it. She felt bad for him having to deal with such stress. She could tell he didn’t like to talk about it so she asked no more questions.
“Should we head back to the hotel?” Asra said and Kendra stood up. Asra took her hand and led her through the thin winding streets busy with people.
Back at the suite, Asra was the perfect gentleman. He walked her to her bedroom door and kissed her on the lips. “Goodnight Kendra, sleep well.”
In her bed, Kendra lay for some time thinking about Asra and his family problems. She tried not to think about Marea. Though he brushed it off as insignificant, if they’d only broken up three years ago and had met as undergraduates, it meant they’d been together for almost fifteen years, even if it was off and on. That was a significant relationship despite what he said. It meant most of his adult life he’d been in a relationship with her, this is why he was not used to dating, he’d never done it before. Marea had lied to him and it seemed to have affected him more than he was making out tonight. She wondered what kind of lie could break up a fifteen year relationship. Kendra remembered the time she joked about him lying to her and he’d become so defensive. It was a sore spot with him. It must have been a terrible heartbreak.
She hoped what he said was true, that he was over Marea. She didn’t think she could compete with a woman he spent so much of his life with. She realised now how Asra must have felt about Will. Fighting a ghost is impossible. She felt bad she’d put him through that.
They spent a week in Cairo doing all sorts of wonderful things from seeing the mummies in the ice cold room at the Egyptian Museum to dancing at another of Asra’s hidden ballroom dance clubs. Asra was like an encyclopaedia when it came to Cairo. He knew much more than the guide they’d hired at the Egyptian Museum.
From Cairo they flew to Luxor, spending two days visiting antiquity sites on the East Bank including the mighty Karnak Temple. Kendra was impressed by Asra’s detailed knowledge of the long and varied history of his country. In Luxor, they slept in adjoining rooms, each alone in their beds at night.
And each day she learned more about Asra and they grew closer. He liked beef but not hamburgers. He drank wine only rarely and then became very silly, telling old jokes and laughing till he cried. He was a good swimmer. He played rugby at university which explained his wide shoulders and strong legs. He hadn’t let his comparative literature degree go completely to waste; he’d worked for some years in an Egyptian publishing house doing translations of children’s books from Arabic to English, raising money for his pilot’s license. Like Kendra, he believed in marriage and one day wanted to have children.
They learned all sorts of things about each other and grew closer with each day but they still hadn’t had sex. It began to trouble Kendra, that maybe he was putting too much pressure on the day when they finally went to bed together. He was setting it up on a pedestal that she feared might come crashing down on both of them when they finally did it. She was attracted to him and felt such desire that sometimes just touching him, holding his hand or hugging him made her excited. She wasn’t sure how much more she could take of the sexual tension between them. She knew he felt it too.