Romance Fiction Urban Fantasy

Ursmouth is a tiny town in Saudi Arabia near Riyadh, its society a little unvarying. As a result, any visitor to this place would draw a lot of attention.

"Adra, I have never seen such a handsome man," her friend Anne exclaimed as she broke the news to her. She had seen him at the church gathering and had come over to Adra's worried about not being able to find her.

"How come you didn't show up?" Are you in good health? Your father was worried, you speak very little these days, are you alright? The priest hardly remembered the visitor's name in his welcome sermon but I saw him, marvelously fashionable, he was a delight to the eye, he is wealthy and by all means single, now on the lookout for an apartment, presumably, because he has business to do here, which seems strange though! why would anyone with his stature want to work here?". She paused for breath. She wanted to say more but fell silent on seeing Adra’s expression. 

Adra had been her bestie since childhood, and their childhood memories included running around in the backyards of neighbours' houses, flying kites on terraces of the four-storey houses, cycling with boys their age on the green grass in the central field, spirited, vivacious, and looking like a rag pile by the end of the day.” But lately, after graduating with a degree in architecture, Anne was finding her bestie more and more reserved. Knowing Adra had an important meeting the next day, she left her brooding. 

Adra had dreams of becoming a successful architect and was preoccupied with her upcoming meeting in Riyadh. A smart girl all she needed was assurance. Though, her only credential was a project in Egypt, that she had finished in college under the guidance of her lecturers. But something told her -Everything would eventually work out in the end.

The next morning Adra arrived in Riyadh a little early for her meeting.

Adra adjusted the documents in her file while standing against the wall outside the conference area, waiting for the meeting attendees to arrive at any minute. The gold-plated bridge of her perfectly round glass frames rested on her sharp nose, as her head bent a little on the A4 size papers to read the notes scribbled on each one, trying to decipher an order. She heard the first approaching footsteps against the cold stone floor and turned her head towards the sound.

Unable to focus at a distance with her near vision eyeglasses on, she swiftly grabbed them by the bridge with her free hand and yanked them off her face leaving them to fall as they hung loosely from a string around her neck.

She noticed him, tall and handsomely dressed in black walking right in the middle of the hallway that was largely illuminated by the harsh glare from the Saudi sun that poured in from huge, towering windows that lined up on its sidewall at every four feet. Her eyes scanned the rest of the hallway, on the other side, locked doors were leading to rooms that didn't appear to be in use. A massive double door loomed at the end of the hallway, leading to the conference room where the meeting was to take place. And then her eyes rested back on his approaching frame.

As he walked in her direction, he noticed her tiny form standing against this wall with heavy arched windows, a few feet diagonally from the conference door. From the corner of his eyes, he noticed the sexiest round frame black glasses with just a hint of gold. “Who is she?” he pondered.

He took a giant stride forward, turned around, and saw her staring at him with her strange eyes, the pupil enormous, the iris brown-black, and framed by a thick black ring separating it from the pristine white around it.

Completely clothed in a black veil standing against the austere grey stone wall he visualized her as a deep dark tunnel surrounded by a halo of golden light from the sun that filtered through each of the enormous arched windows. Perplexed by the vision in front, he took a step closer until his body almost touched hers towering over her smaller frame he could smell the sweet fragrance of her lilac perfume. Her face in his shadow he could see her tongue move around her lips, in a moment of wild fear. Her eyes so pensive seemed fixed at his scratchy stubble where streaks of white hair now glistening in the same golden light that encircled her. Before she could realize and try to stop him, in one swift bend of his head his thick lips were on her wet ones. With a fortifying breath, she tilted her face and looked angrily at him, “what the hell-?” 

He drew his head away, bringing out his hands from his coat pockets to rest them on the wall to support his inclined frame. In doing so he had trapped her unknowingly. But she didn't say anything or push him away. Inches away from her he could not help his eyes move down from her face to her toes, his body wanting to claim hers.

His gaze got her a little unsteady. His warm breath on her made her dizzy. She felt overwhelmed by his sheer size. She grazed her shoulder harder against the wall to steady her shaking self and to calm her deep breathing. 

She stiffened. That was it; the spell that had taken over him broke. He pulled away staring deep into her eyes and spoke first, “Who are you?”

It was an effort to stand straight and face this stranger after what had just transpired between them, but summoning all her strength she replied “Get out of my way, now”. She paused for a moment and looking towards the closed conference hall gate she continued, “I have a project to bid for and I need to deliver a good introduction of my company and bag it. Please move and let me go”, she begged him.

 As he dropped his hands to his sides she wrenched away from him and dashed towards the door, yanking it open, rushing in, half-blinded by tears. She dashed ahead in the dim light, checking to see whether he was following. Reassured he was not; she swiped the beginning of tears from her lashes with the back of the hand that was carrying her file and moved her other hand around in the darkness to find a light switch on the sidewall. 

She kept moving forward, one step at a time, along the wall, her one hand anxiously searching for the switch and the other clutching the file tightly to herself. Her foot did not contact any floor below as she went awkwardly forward, unsure of where she was going, and she staggered on to a step below, losing her equilibrium. She tried to grab something to keep from falling, but her free hand brushed against a nearby metallic pole, which she assumed was a handrail. She let out a terrified scream as she realized she must have been on the top of a hallway staircase. Unable to stop herself from rolling down she fell some ten steps and landed on a heavily carpeted floor with a loud thud.

A crumpled heap in complete darkness she tried to bring herself together. That is when she heard a man’s voice calling from a distance above her –“hey where are you- are you okay?” and then as suddenly as she had fallen down the lights came on.

She saw him run down the steps taking two at a time and before she had managed to pull herself up he extended out his hand. “Here, let me help”, he said. “Okay, umm, I do need a hand” she mumbled and stretched out her hand to give into his. Interlacing his long thin fingers with hers, he took her hand instantly filling her with warmth and security, and pulled her up. “How are you feeling? “And before she could answer someone from behind him approached her with a glass of water.

Steadying herself on her two feet she pulled her hand out from his palm and took the glass of water. The intensity of his gaze was making her a ball of nerves.

He was first to speak again “ I’m sorry, for what transpired in the corridor, I wasn't in my senses, it was an accident, and even if I try I cannot undo it”. 

“Don't apologise”. She mustered her courage and swallowed hard. She replied” I’m okay, thank you, and it’s better we forget what happened there. I’m here for business from Ursmouth and with no intention of getting involved in something that will be against the laws of this country and now if you will excuse me I have work to do and a meeting to attend.``

Looking at her, he spoke slowly, “You didn’t tell me.”

“What”?! Exasperated, she shot back.

He repeated one more time “You didn’t tell me your name.”

And then added- “I’m Ahmed Youssef, and I’m here to meet a businesswoman from Ursmouth who has just completed a project in my country Egypt. By any chance is that you?” It was evident from the little conversation he was desperately trying to gain her trust.

Just for a quick moment, she let her eyes linger on his handsome face before she spoke in reply to break the spell he was casting on her.

“ I’m Adra. And yes I'm from Ursmouth as I mentioned earlier and yes I’m here to talk about the hospital project which I could do for you Mr Ahmed Youseff ''. She stretched out her hand “pleasure meeting you”. As she took in his hand he broke out into a smile. "Excellent."

And some twelve men all dressed in black and one Saudi local with his white turban joined them on the huge conference table. Drawings were strewn across the table. A hospital building with state-of-the-art facilities was to be designed and constructed on this land of oil, veiled women, and countless mosques. It would bring nature, humans and the concrete mass all in unison to heal the ailing and the diseased. It was a noble idea and Adra wanted to begin on it as fast as she could.

The discussion went on for a few more hours, and the twelve-member representative body peppered her with questions, all the while Ahmed's supportive add-ons to her views were accepted. He was clearly a wealthy, influential guy who would be utilised to bankroll the project by these government officials. His strong demeanor and self-assurance identified him as a former authority figure. 

She could not resist welcoming his support. Prior to the meeting, her only aspirations had been to bag a decent project but now she became acutely aware of how obsessed she had become with the idea. She wanted to be able to take this meeting in her stride. Ahmed gave her a reassuring look as if he knew what she was thinking. That affirmative gaze from him gave her the confidence to continue answering their questions with a renewed zeal.

She required the assistance of a team of consultants and engineers, and the reps designated Ahmed as her point of contact. It all worked out nicely.

Twenty-three was no age to take up so much work, yet her passion to create great buildings had brought her where she was. Adra felt completely exhausted and stressed out by the events of the day. A sigh escaped as she remembered the long drive back to Ursmouth. It was hours away and it was already late afternoon. It would be dark by the time she got there.

Ahmed, who had been silently observing her all this time and hadn't left the hall even when the rest of the men had, came in front of her in two big strides “You look in no fit state to drive all that distance on your own. I’ll take you.”

Her heart softened at his unexpected invitation; his compassionate gesture had caught her off guard, her smile was immediate. What would it be like to hang around with someone like him? Someone who cares about her well-being? Someone who could think of her welfare? Guess her needs? She was thinking to herself and before she could reply in affirmative, he was already taking control. “Come on, give me your car keys.”

More composed, she turned and studied his profile, wondering if it would be alright, “You don't have to do this”.she said a bit hesitantly. Not because she didn't want him to but because it was all very strange. He was just being friendly, asking her to trust him. But what worried her was where would this friendship lead to. ”You don't have to”, this time she repeated almost in a whisper. 

“Yeah, I do,” he said aloud, breaking her thoughts, motioning her to get up and, arranging her papers in her file as if they were getting late.

Her heart raced at the prospect of sharing space in her car with him. She gave him a faint smile to let him know that things had changed between them and stood up, to walk towards the parking place, feeling light.

Back in Ursmouth, they were spotted by a few, and the news spread like wildfire. The smart handsome visitor was taken by their small-town girl. Would there be celebrations and wedding bells to follow?

June 03, 2021 11:52

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Mellanie Crouell
00:07 Jun 08, 2021



Babika Goel
07:58 Jun 08, 2021

Thank you.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Vibhuti Verma
14:22 Jun 05, 2021

Nice read. Ends with something to look out for.


Babika Goel
07:58 Jun 08, 2021

Thank you


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.