Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Black Keys - Chapter 35

Chapter 35
Isabella Marie

One day, I asked my grandfather, "Papa, what's one of the hardest things in life?" and he told me, "To smile when your tears are about to fall."
He was right.

Once I was on the plane, I never thought of how much I feared it, or how much I hated being on it, like I had most of my life. I only thought of one person: Mazen. Only thought of one thing: I was leaving him.

My tears were not something I wanted to keep in. I was facing so many difficulties already; crying in front of strangers wasn't my biggest concern. Leaving the last person I’d thought I could ever fall in love with, was. And I had every right to cry my eyes out.

I didn't care how rude I sounded when I asked to be left alone most of the flight. I needed peace. At least around me. Because from inside – there was undying war, and troubling fights.

The memory of him as he stood all broken when the plane took off – I don't think it could ever be more alive in my head. It didn't leave my mind for a second. Not for a moment. And it made me cry even harder just remembering his last words, "I'm never going to forget you, Princess."

He did one of the hardest things you could do in your life; he smiled while his tears were about to fall.

I didn't have that kind of strength.


One day, I asked my grandfather, "Papa, what's one of the hardest things in life?" and he told me, "For fate to force you into doing something you never wanted to do."

I couldn't understand the irony of fate, when I loathed being in the kingdom so much and hated having to be there for my brother's wedding – I found myself promised to the Crown Prince of said kingdom, for the rest of my life.

I struggled and suffered and tried to escape, but I failed.

And then, then I fell in love and my eyes opened and saw things they’d never seen before. I realized I wanted to spend more time with him. I realized I was wrong in wanting to be away from him, and then – only then, I got my previous wish of getting away from him. He let go of me.

How unfair could life really be to me? With all of the struggles I’d had all of my life – this was something I should easily get through, but I couldn't.

I didn't have that kind of strength.

I might've straightened myself up, given myself a pep talk to be able to move on, stopped my tears from showing and stopped my voice from shaking. But my outside was strong for the sake of the image I had to keep, because in my home, I wasn't that weak and crying ball of pity I was in the kingdom, and I needed to get myself back on track to take care of the things that needed to be taken care of.

However, from the inside – I was dying. Slowly.

"Oh, thank goodness! I was going to start a search party for you," my assistant and friend said from the other end of the line.

"Angela," I smiled softly into the phone, not realizing how much I'd missed her until I finally heard her voice.

"Are you okay? Where are you? How's married life?" she asked, all too smiley.
"Uh … you know about the marriage?" I frowned.

"Mhmm. And I guess you didn't want me to know?" I could sense hurt in her voice.
I sighed, "Listen, Angela, I'll explain later. I'll land at JFK airport in an hour, okay?"
"Oh, the honeymoon is over already?"

"See you in a few," I said and hung up, frustrated to learn that Jasper had probably already made up stories about my marriage, and not knowing how much damage I'd have to deal with, along with what I already had on my plate.


One day, I asked my grandfather, "Papa, what's one of the hardest things in life?" and he told me, "When you can't find someone who understands or feels you."

I couldn't find anyone I knew to tell about what had happened. I didn't know who would understand. Angela was so kind and a great friend, but what would I tell her when I didn't even know what to say myself?

My emotions were all over the place. I knew being home was the right thing for me, but – I couldn't feel the things I’d thought I'd feel once I put my feet on the ground of my country.

I thought I'd feel relieved. I didn't.

I thought I'd be able to block my mind from thinking of what I'd lost. I couldn't.

I thought I would forget all of the nice and kind things I’d lived through in the kingdom. I wouldn't.

I knew I should get him out of my mind and my heart, because it wasn't good for me – 'Us' was impossible and just plain wrong. And my heart always shouted at me: You shouldn't.

It was easier to stick to what Jasper said – in the kingdom, I fell in love with the Crown Prince and we got married, then I decided to stay there. I added my own lines though, told whoever cared enough to ask and told whomever I cared enough to tell that we’d talked online for months before I left, and that I hadn't told anyone because we both didn't want the media to know. We’d had a cozy and warm wedding, and I came back to do a few tests and take care of things regarding the company that I didn't want Jasper to have to do all alone. My husband didn't come with me because he had lots of responsibilities he couldn't get away from. It wasn't all lies. And if anyone found any part to be unbelievable – I really didn't care. At all.


One day, I asked my grandfather, "Papa, what's one of the hardest things in life?" and he told me, "To lose something that was so good and then find so many things that keeps reminding you of how you don't have it anymore."

Home didn't feel like home. Comfort wasn't anywhere to be found. And I didn't feel as safe as I’d thought I would feel. I only slept when my eyes were too dry to produce more tears. And when I woke up, I was about to call Mona's name, only to remember she wasn't anywhere around. It brought tears to my eyes.

Just thinking about getting out of bed almost had me on my knees on the bathroom floor. I didn't want to get up. I wanted to go to sleep and maybe be able to dream again. Of him. It was so hard to believe that just a bit over a day ago I was in his arms, hearing his heartbeat and inhaling his sweet scent. And now – I had none of that. Not him, not his closeness, not his warmth, and not the comfort only he was able to make me feel.

I couldn't eat the pancakes my housekeeper made me for breakfast on Monday morning. I couldn't drink coffee without wondering if Mazen had had his tea for the morning already or not. Remembering the first morning after the wedding and how I’d thought we didn't like to have same drink in the morning and how we didn't have that in common. I couldn't believe how shallow I was just a week ago, it was actually embarrassing.

"Morning, Jacob," I greeted him with a nod.

"Ms. Swan," he nodded his head, "Good morning."

"Follow me to my office, please," I said. Inside the office that was in my house, I told him what I needed him to do.

Jacob had been my bodyguard since I started going to college, and was someone I trusted with my life – obviously. But Jasper was able to convince me that I couldn't bring him to the kingdom, because it was rude. I didn’t get it, but he was able to convince me that we would be protected by the royal guards, and despite how much I didn't like that, and how much Jacob himself didn't like it, I still did what Jasper told me. Because I trusted him; because I was a fool.

"Ms. Swan, are you sure you want to do this?" Jacob asked. I could sense the disbelief and confusion in his voice.

"Positive," I said. When I was sure he would do everything I’d asked for as planned, I went to the company's building.


One day, I asked my grandfather, "Papa, what's one of the hardest things in life?" and he told me, "When someone you love dies – but only in your eyes."

"Is Jasper free?" I asked Angela as I handed her my briefcase.

"He's in a meeting that should end in five minutes," she replied.

"Good. Which room?"

"Conference room number three." I headed there right away after I told her not to inform him I was there, Jacob following right behind me.

The wait wasn't long, my thoughts kept me too busy to feel any kind of boredom as I waited for him to finish his meeting. I pulled the end of the sleeve of my white suit jacket, straightening it, making sure I looked as confident as possible, because I knew I couldn't show him how broken I really was, couldn't show him how much damage he had done.

When he got out, he didn't notice me right away, he was busy saying his goodbye to a client, and I took that moment to study his form, seeing the things that I knew only I could see. I saw that underneath that smile he kept on his face – he was pretty much broken. Maybe the same as I was, even.

I could see the dark circles under his eyes that told of sleepless nights, could see his scraggy cheeks that told of a lost appetite. He just wasn't well.

Good, I thought.

My heart simply couldn't soften for him. It couldn't. Any good memory I'd ever shared with him was long gone. Anything nice we’d given each other was simply lost. This wasn't my brother. My brother had died long ago – in my eyes, that is.

"Marie!" His eyes landed on me and his tongue spoke my name in surprise. I could see his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down as he swallowed thickly, his look betraying him and telling how he was shocked and worried at the same time, though I could tell he didn't want to show it.

"Hello Brother!" I said with a tight smile that was only there to tell him how much I was disgusted by his presence, and I knew he could easily understand it. "What? You thought you'd never see me again?"

"Uh– …"

"Let's go inside, you don't want us to make a scene, now do you?" I said then I waved him inside. "After you."

He paused for a moment, obviously not knowing if he should come inside or not, but finally knowing he couldn't get away from it. And the look in his eyes when he found out that Jacob would be joining us was just priceless.

I sat down at the head of the table, having him sit on the opposite end, and then Jacob put the file in front of him.

"What's this?"

"Sign." was all I replied with.

He opened the file and his eyes widened. "You’ve got to be kidding me!" he said in shock. "You want me to sign my rights to the company over to you?"


"Absolutely not!" he said, jerking the file away from him.

"Jacob," I called, my eyes not leaving my brother, who was snarling at me while I smiled as if my heart wasn't breaking from the inside.

Like he was told to do, in one second, Jacob pulled his gun out of his pocket and put it to Jasper’s head.

My eyes stung with the tears I wanted to shed at the sight of him all shocked, scared and frightened.

I’d made sure Jacob understood very well that hurting Jasper wasn't my intention, not at all, but I needed him to taste his own medicine. He deserved to have some of what he’d put me through.

"Marie, what are you doing?" His voice had nothing of the venom he’d had in it when he spoke to me just a minute ago; his eyes were pleading and his hands were slightly shaking.

"Just like you did, Jasper," I told him. "I'm forcing you into signing your approval of something I know you wouldn't ever want."

"You can't be serious!" he said.

"Oh, I am, and you will sign, Jasper," I said, getting up and going to stand only two steps away from where he was sitting. "You know why?" I asked, not waiting for his answer. "Because you're afraid, you have a gun pointed to your head, and all of your thoughts now are how if you don't please the one who has you at their mercy your head will be blown off, and you don't want that."

"Marie, stop this. I did something wrong but it was the only thing I could do," he swallowed. "You wouldn't ever agree and I had to save Alice. I didn't have time to convince you, and you wouldn't ever be convinced, I knew you wouldn't. It was the only option I had."

I snorted, "Because you're an idiot. She had a wonderful brother who would save her no matter what, a brother who you couldn't be compared with no matter how much you tried." Tears finally found their way out of my eyes. "Do you have any idea what you put me through?"

"I'm sorry, I'm so fucking sorry, I had no other choice," he begged.

"You put me in that car again, Jasper," my voice cracked, and my tears wet my cheeks even more. "I was all alone, trapped in one place while the whole world was in chaos around me. I knew no one, I had no idea what was to come. Many times I wondered if I would be raped, or would be killed if I didn't obey. Many times I wondered if I'd ever see a familiar face again. You broke me, Jasper. Broke me!" I cried. "And better yet, you felt no hint of guilt about it, you never thought about me or how I would be feeling."

"Don't say that, Marie. You don't know anything," he said in a low voice. "I was dying from the inside, but I had to do it. Alice had always told me about Mazen and how noble he is – I knew he'd take good care of you."

His words took a minute to register in my mind, and the ache in my heart grew just realizing how true those words really were. "But what if he wasn't? What if he was a savage who would've forced himself on me and did whatever he wanted to the helpless girl he had at his mercy? Did you ever think of that?"

He didn't reply, he closed his eyes, freeing tears of guilt that caused me nothing but pride at what I’d accomplished. I hoped he would burn every day with the knowledge of what he'd made me face.

"Sign the papers, Jasper," I told him. "I can't trust you with myself, and I sure can't trust you with my parents’ hard-earned success."

"I can't do it," he said forcibly, and right at the same second he spoke the words, Jacob turned the gun and hit the back of his head, blood spilling onto the collar of his white shirt right away like a river, while Jasper cried out in agony, causing me to flinch back at the sight, my heart hurting for my brother's pain.

"Sign the papers, you piece of shit, or I sure as fuck won't wait for her orders to pull the trigger," Jacob shouted, and it was only then that I noticed what this conversation was doing to him. He was burning with anger; he cared for me, I knew he did. I hadn't told him any of my reasons why I was doing this to my own brother, but was glad that he now understood my actions.

It didn't take him any more convincing after that, he just signed them silently, and when he put the pen on the table, Jacob put his gun back in his suit jacket pocket.

"Is there's anything else you need?" By this point he was choking up, apparently trying his hardest to stop his tears from falling or his pain from showing. He was failing miserably.

"No. I don't want to see your face in here again. Ever," I said, and he got up to leave, putting his hand on the back of his head where his wound was. Before he went out the door, I added, "I transferred five hundred million dollars to your bank account. It's your fair share, I'm not as low as you are." I didn't wait to see his reaction to that; I turned my back to him and waited for him to leave. Letting more tears fall when I knew he couldn't see them.

Revenge didn't feel nice. Nothing felt nice at all. I was too hurt to feel anything but hurt. Too broken to feel anything but pain.

I missed my brother. But that wasn't him.


One day, I asked my grandfather, "Papa, what's one of the hardest things in life?" and he told me, "To love someone so much, but you know that in their life – you have no place."

"Where to, Ms. Swan?" Harry, my driver, asked.


Looking out of the car window, everything was very much the same. Same buildings, same roads, maybe even the same people I saw every time I passed by this area. Everything was the same. Everything but my heart. If it was even in my chest, that is.

A week ago, if someone had told me that my only brother would be someone I loathed as much I did now, I'd have called them nuts. A week ago if someone had told me that an Arab Muslim would be someone I’d fall in love with in a matter of days, I'd have called them insane. A week ago – I was someone else.

"Mama!" I smiled big as I saw her, sitting beside the window in her room and watching the green space outside. I missed her so much, more than much. I hugged her, and tried my best to hide my tears; I didn't want to trouble her.

When I pulled back, she stared at me for a moment before touching my cheek. "Renee!" she smiled, and my own smile fell. I could never get used to the idea that she never remembered who I was anymore. It still hurt every time when she couldn't recognize me. It hurt so bad to know that in her life – I had no place.

"Mama," I recovered quickly, "How have you been? I missed you."

"Ah! I've been alright, honey," she smiled. "You tell me about you."

What should I tell you, Mama? You wouldn't even want to know, even if you were healthy, and not someone who an't even remember her own grandchild who spent her whole life with you.

"I'm okay," I told her. Far from okay I really was, but not knowing anything else to say. I just wanted to see her, maybe apologize for not showing up last week, but figured she wouldn't even notice.

"Oh, don't you lie to me, girl!" my grandmother said with a warning smile. "Mothers always know."

I had to smile, because she was just so nice. Something in her reminded me of the Mother Queen, maybe her caring touch and warm smile, and just the thought made my lost-forever heart ache.

"Did you meet someone?" she asked, and I didn't find any harm in telling her the truth, so I nodded, and her smile widened. "Oh, dear!" she said cheerfully. "Tell me all about it, honey, I promise not to tell Dad."

I laughed lightly, wiping a tear that managed to escape, sad for the stage my grandmother had reached, but at the same time I was happy to know that she lived in her own world, a world where her beloved husband and her only daughter were still alive.

"Nothing much, Mama," I told her. "It didn't work out." Another tear escaped my eyes, hurting a bit more at the sound of my own words.

"Oh, no!" my grandmother frowned. "Why not? Wasn't he treating you well?"

"He treated me like a queen, and only ever called me a 'Princess'." I smiled sadly through my tears.

"Then why it didn't work out, sweetie?"

"I didn't belong in his world, Mama." It was the simple truth. "I had to come back home."

"But, sweetie – it's not lands and buildings that make a home; it's people who do."

I stayed with my grandmother for the rest of the day. I let her speak until she dozed off, cuddled with her to feel any of the comfort I was missing so much, kissed her whiter-than-cotton hair before leaving, and promised to come back in a few days.

On my way out, I ran into Jamal. He was one of the nurses at the nursing home, and always took care of my grandmother. She preferred him the most, liked how gentle and patient he was with her all the time, even more than the rest, though they were all wonderful.

"Hey, Jamal."

"Ms. Swan, how are you?" he smiled brightly. "Congratulations, by the way."

"Oh, you heard?" I smiled softly, despite the swelling in my chest.

"Oh, man! Of course I did, it was all over the news!"

"Yeah, I guess. Thanks. I wanted to ask about Granma, is she doing any better?"

"Well, some days are better than others, but alhamdulilah she's doing fine," he said. I think my face paled because I felt all of the blood in my head dropping to my heart.


"Don't worry, Ms. Swan, she's really doing okay," he assured me.

"No, no – what was that word you said? Alh– … what?" My throat went dry.
"Oh, I said 'Alhamdulilah'. It means 'Thanks b–"

"'to Allah’," I finished for him, remembering Mona telling me of that word's meaning when I’d asked. My eyes darted away as I thought of how I’d had no idea that Jamal was a Muslim.

And my Mama actually preferred him most of all …

"Oohh! I see someone has started to take some Arabic lessons," Jamal joked, but all I could do was smile, end the conversation politely and leave.

"Are you okay, Ms. Swan?" Jacob asked when I made it out of the building.
"Just get me home."

A week ago, if someone had told me that Jamal was a Muslim, I would've made him stay away from my grandmother. Might even have used my powers to have him removed from there completely.


One day, I asked my grandfather, "Papa, what's one of the hardest things in life?" and he told me, "To get used to someone, and suddenly find them gone."

Lying on my bed and trying to fall asleep was the hardest thing I’d faced since coming back from the kingdom. Because then, there was nothing I could do to block my mind from thinking of him. Mazen.

My heart was breaking inside of my chest, remembering him – his smile, his voice, his touch. Remembering how he’d comforted me, protected me, treated me like something breakable, held me tenderly, with care.

He let me go because he knew it was best for me. He let me go because he thought I'd be better. He let me go because he thought I'd stop crying.

He was wrong.

I was aching. Hurting. Bleeding and breaking inside. I missed him terribly. And I wanted him back. I wanted to go back. But – it wasn't the right thing to do. I didn't belong there.

I held my cross, closed my eyes and prayed. But when I held the cross, I only thought of the moment he’d given it to me. And when I closed my eyes, I only saw him smiling softly at me. And it was all so quiet around me that I could easily hear him in my mind as he called me 'His beautiful princess'.

My nights were dark, and my days were darker. I cried myself to sleep. Every night. And I ached for him even more. Every day.


One day, I asked my grandfather, "Papa, what's one of the hardest things in life?" and he told me, "To believe strongly in something all of your life and then find out that it was all a lie."

It was another Sunday where I sought some peace in my church, and when I was good enough to actually attend it, I walked down the street, begging Jacob to just let me be alone for a while, even knowing that he would still be around somewhere where I couldn't see him but he would be able to see me, just to be sure I was okay.

It had been two weeks. Two weeks since I last saw or heard from Mazen. The closest I’d gotten to anything related to my week with him was the bag my housekeeper asked me where to put, only to find it was all of the jewelry that had been gifted to me there. I really didn't feel good about keeping it, but couldn't be rude and send it back. And I thought it was nice of Mona to remember to pack them with my things.

The other thing was when I looked at one of the company’s billing statements, I found one address I didn't recognize that had had lots of roses shipped to it. I knew right away that it must be where Alice was. I was surprised to learn that she didn't live with Jasper. And I thought a lot about visiting her to see if she was okay, but then thought that it wasn't a very good idea. I needed to forget, not to remind myself even more of what I had lost. And a visit with Alice would make the ache in my chest grow even bigger.

I didn't want that.

I knew that Mazen would make sure she stayed okay; he’d told me so himself. But I couldn't deny that I found some pleasure in knowing that she hadn't forgiven Jasper, and wasn’t even living at his house. Serves him right, I thought.

I gazed at the shops around me, not really looking into anything but just busying my mind with something. But my heart would always find a way to force my mind into remembering him. Mazen.

I saw a small crystal shaped into a horse that was standing on its two back legs. It reminded me of that night at the royal stable – when Thunder first saw Mazen and how he’d greeted him. It sure brought a smile to my face, then tears to my eyes.

I bought it, though. Because I liked to torture myself, I think.

I spent those two weeks learning about Islam; Google was a good friend of mine. True to Mazen's words Islam was a beautiful religion, but some Muslims really weren't. Because they were humans, bending the religion to their desires, sick desires of power and shedding blood. It was really sad.

I learned that killing was the biggest sin in Islam, that in their holy book it's said that killing one innocent soul was like killing all of the mankind, and saving one soul was like saving the whole mankind. It was very saddening that many didn't follow that law.
And like Alice once told me, anyone who did something bad to a woman, insulting her or causing her any harm – was promised with God's punishment.

Like the Queen and what she’d done to me.

I felt so sorry for other girls who’d gone through that. They didn't have a Mazen to come to their rescue; they even had their closest loved ones standing there and watching without moving a muscle to help them. And that thing needed to stop. I wished I knew how or had the power to stop it forever. It was such a horrible thing.

I learned that Islam forbids any man to touch any woman that wasn't his grandmother, mother, sister or wife, not even a handshake. Not even looking at them with admiring eyes. And that explained why Mazen stopped when we were together. We weren’t married in the eyes of Islam, and that night thought he had Harem, he told me he didn't do that.

It made me also realize why the guards had lowered their gazes in my presence – in any woman's. I'd assumed they were ordered to do that by the King or something. They were, but from the king of all kings. From God.

Mazen had sinned by touching me, something I knew he didn't like to do – he was too religious. But he had also sinned a lot for my sake when he lied over and over again to save me from any harm.

He did care for me. A lot. And the knowledge was bittersweet.

I couldn't stop myself from Googling his name. I found his picture, printed it, and slept with it every night. It wasn't much, but it helped me a lot. And every time my tears ruined it – I'd print another. It was the closest I was able to get to him. 

After I paid for the little crystal horse and left, I entered a café to get a cup of coffee, the line was long, but I didn't mind, I had nothing better to do. As I was waiting, I checked my e-mails as the line got shorter and shorter, moving with it absently as I read through my e-mails, and then it happened.

"I just want a cup of coffee, sir, nothing more," I heard the quiet voice of a female saying and for some reason, it grabbed my attention.

"Go away, I don't serve Muslims," the guy behind the counter said, and my eyes widened.

"You won't serve me because I'm a Muslim?" the girl asked. I had to move my head a little to the side to see her. She was just a girl my age or even younger with a head scarf covering her hair.

"Yes, you're a terrorist," he replied, and the shock just froze me in my place.
"Excuse me?"

"You heard me, get out of my shop, take your jihad, go back to riding your camel and just – leave," the guy waved her off. I felt so terrible that my throat started to tighten just hearing the way he spoke to her.

"I'm an American citizen and I have rights!"

"No, you're not American!" he replied back.

"Yes, I am," the girl insisted, "I was born and raised in America!"

"It doesn't make you an American," the guy shrugged.

"Seriously? What makes you?"

"How do I know you're not hiding a bomb in there under that towel on your head?"
"Are you seriously not going to give her the goddamn cup of coffee because she's a Muslim?" a girl that was behind me in the line asked.

"I sure won't."

"Okay, you just lost a couple of customers, just so you know," the girl behind me said and then left the line and the shop. I just stood there, watching the scene playing out around me with shock.

"Make that three," an African-American guy said, and was about to leave when the seller called after him, "You're not a good American."

It was then that the guy turned to him and said, "No, sir, I'm a good American. I just served in Iraq for over a year, and it has nothing to do with her rights, what you just did is highly offensive. She's a human and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity."

"I'm a good American and I have to protect my customers."

"You're white and you have a cross tattoo on your neck, how do I know you're not one of the KKK? I'm a black atheist and should be afraid of you, right? How do I trust that you won't burn me on a cross?"

"I – uh, those people don't represent us," the seller replied.

"They call themselves devoted Christians! Aren't you?"

My head was spinning, and I felt as if I was going to throw up. I had to leave the place, I was choking up with my tears. I wanted to call the seller on how disgusting and racist he was, but – I couldn't. I felt like a liar, like a hypocrite, because I knew that three weeks ago – I would've agreed with everything he was saying. Heck, I would've given him a thumbs up.

What was wrong with me?

Was I really one of those racist people? Why couldn't I be colorblind? Why I only saw all of Muslims as terrorists?  And like the guy said, if all Muslims were terrorists, why were all Christians not thought of as KKK members? I knew in my heart that those people didn't represent me, why would I think that those who killed my grandfather represented all of the Muslims?

I left the café, and went to the nearest trash can. I sat by it and threw my guts up, waving a girl away when she asked if I was okay, but then she insisted on holding my hair up for me; it was kind of her. And when I was finished, I was shocked beyond words to find that it was the very same Muslim girl who didn't get her cup of coffee only because of her beliefs.

"Are you sure you're okay? I can call a cab for you," she said.

"N-no, I'm fine," I told her, wiping my mouth with a tissue that she handed me.  "Are you okay?"

"Me?" she smiled. "Yeah, why are you asking?"

"Um – the café, the se–"

"Oh! No, it's cool, I'm used to it," she replied with a shrug.

"Used to it?" I asked with shock.

"Oh, trust me, when I get called a terrorist and Osama lover, it's a happy day – at least I don't get physically attacked."

"Are you serious?" I gasped.

"Yeah, things are tough for us since 9/11, you know? Every day is a struggle," she said, and my already-broken heart broke a bit more. "But it's my country, I can't leave it."

It gutted me to realize that it was people like me who made things tough for her and others of her belief. But – this was my wake up call.


Back home, I sat on my bed, found a paper and a pen and started writing down my thoughts, because a wise man once told me it makes your thoughts clearer that way – and he was right.

My thoughts were too many, everywhere, I felt as if I couldn't control them. It wasn't the best feeling in the world.

After I wrote everything I wanted to write down, I started counting them.

Most of my thoughts were about Muslims and Islam. What I'd learned through all of my life – or better yet, hadn't learned. And what I’d learned through my searches for the keys of knowledge over the past two weeks, and in that week I spent in the kingdom.

I met people I liked, met people I loved. I met people I disliked, met peopled I hated.
I met people that made me laugh, and met others that made me cry.

I met people that made me feel safe, and met ones who threatened my life.

All of the sides were people. They were Christians, Jews, atheists and they were Muslims.  But eventually, and before anything, they were people. And we were all alike.

All of my thoughts were about Mazen. What I felt about him, and what I wanted with him. How I missed him and how I ached for him. How my mind wouldn't stop thinking about him for a second, and how my hands ached to touch his.

I knew in my heart that I wanted him, forever.

I loved him. I loved him so much. I had to be with him.

Our relationship wasn't normal. But – who cares? That was what made it unique.

We got married then we fell in love.

We got divorced and then he told me he was falling for me.

Lovers kissed at the sunset and we kissed as the sun rose.

Lovers kissed facing each other and we kissed upside down.

People ate pancakes for breakfast and we had them for dinner.

He was a Muslim and I was Christian.

He was an Arab and I was American.

We were different. Very different. But in the end, we were a man and woman. We were people. And all people were equal. And God said that the heart is all that matters. And I loved his heart. With every sense in me. And if there was one thing right I needed to do for myself, it was to be with him again. And if people around us made our lives hard, I didn't care. I'd fight. He was worth it.

I got up, smiling as big as I could make my lips smile, brought my ring finger to my mouth and kissed my wedding rings that I had never been able to take off.
I'd found my black keys.

I knew what I wanted to do. I knew what I needed to do. I was never so sure about anything in my whole life than I was about being with Mazen.

It took Salma two months to get back to him, but it took me only two weeks, because her heart was much stronger than mine, and she couldn't possibly love him more than I did. Nobody could.

One day, I told my grandmother that I didn't belong in the world of the one I loved, and she told me, "But, sweetie – it's not lands and buildings that make a home; it's people who do."

And I believed her. Lands and buildings didn't make a home. It was people who did. And he was my people. He was my home. I belonged to him. With him. And I had to be with him, near him. I needed to take a plane to get me there. To my home. Him.


~ The End ~


  1. What an amazing story! You have taken us all on an amazing journey. I love the ending as with two more sequels to come, we have lots in store.
    I'm always excited about anything you write and decide to share.
    You've tied up loads with this ending and I just thought it was perfect.
    The emotions you stir up in your readers is something most writers can only hope to achieve and you do it beautifully with everything you write.
    You really do deserve so much recognition for all the research and sleepless nights you've spent on this.
    This is a free fanfiction story that you didn't need to share but we're all so greatful that you did.
    Beautiful work on an amazing story.
    Very excited for what's next for Mazen and Marie.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Lots of love xoxoxo

  2. It was a truly beautiful story! Thank you rose! Can't wait for the sequel.

  3. Glad Jasper got what he deserved.
    Great story, I'm glad she is going home to him.

  4. When I first read the story I didn't like it. Because it made all the Muslims seem like terrorists. I didn't like it because I am a Muslim. But after a few months, I think, I decided to give it a try. Again. I am so happy that I read. It is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read. Its not about religion. Its about love. True love. I have read many fanfictions but I never reviewed. This is the first time.

  5. Loved this story. Definitely one for my favourites list. Looking forward to reading the sequel

  6. Loved this story. Definitely one for my favourites list. Looking forward to reading the sequel

  7. Ohhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! (Girly squeal inserted here) loved it!!!!!!!

  8. Loved this story it's very complexities, differences, seeing things as we want to see them, deliberately misunderstanding; and then it's very simplicity a love story. Thanks for sharing it with us ........ would love to see them get together to bridge that gap and know true love conquers all :)

  9. Do you plan a sequel or an epilogue? Please say yes

  10. you are a fabulous writer. i really enjoyed the story..its beautiful:) thank u for this wonderful experience. im looking forward to more!:)

  11. I love this story, it really opened my eyes. I am a Hindu and grew up with Muslim friends who weren't allowed the same freedom I was allowed because of their parents beliefs and I am still friends with them today. But it just goes to show that people are people no matter who you are, love can conquer all. I hope to read your next story, but would love some more Mazen & Marie

  12. For the love of fanfiction, please tell me you're writing a sequel or reunion for them? You can't cheat us out of seeing them reunited! I can't fathom after all of it not reading their reunion. You can't be that cruel. Please??

  13. Well how simplistic.
    I guess things don't change for women either, give your life up for the mans.
    How many women without religious or nationality barriers still give up their lives, their careers, for the man.
    Women only have a satisfactory lives if they life it through a man do they?
    I must say I am disappointed.

    1. (simplistic) :/ I really think u didnt read the same story as us,
      but should I advise u to stick , to historic books, autobiography's , books about facts, cus u obviously don't get fiction....

      I'm really irked with the simplistic comment, this story is anything but!

      And let me share some more wisdom with u, if it's not ur cup of tea, don't DRINK it!

      Thank u Rose for allthe hard work u put in to this story , just for the sake of keeping us entertained. Don't let these negative people get to u! They obviously have nothing better to do, than to make everyone as sad as they are!

    2. True. Why can't Mazen come and live with HER?

    3. Mazen just following her and giving up everything - his country, his people (to someone like Jasem, no less) - is just NOT right in my opinion. We are talking about a man with huge responsibility dropping all of this and going after a woman who never told him the words of 'I love you' even? This is just too much. If he's not true to his people and their fates and willing to leave them with a savage - then he's not a respectable person in my eyes, and not even worthy to be with said woman.
      For him; he'll lose everything. For her, she still has the chance of being the CEO to the company branch in the kingdom AND actually being a Queen.

    4. If that's honest with the story, then by all means go for it :)

      But still...just because he has a kingdom to rule and she's got a small job as compared to his so she should leave everything to be with him.....love is blind. So we've heard. Leave money. What about her memories of the place? Her childhood? Her whole life has been spent there...would it be easy?

      I suppose we'll witness all this in the rest of the trilogy

  14. Amazing story Rose! Thank you so much for writing this. Cannot wait for more! :)

  15. Thank you for a perfect end. Never thought it would be possible after the last chapter. Im not quite sure, if I want to read the sequel, this end seems good enough to me. I know, Im probably the only one with this weird opinion. Many thanks for writing this interesting and unique story.

  16. Al Salam Alaykom Rose!!
    There is a sequel?!!!!!!! YAYYYY Lololoooyyy
    You are ..... an amazing writer!!!
    Jasper ... hmmm, would like to know if he will change in the sequel In Sh'Allah
    I really really hope that Mazen has not married Talia
    it would make things very complicated
    Furthermore, I like the way you have linked the whole story in one chapter!!
    Bravo ;)

    *waiting waiting waiting* :D
    until next time In Sh'Allah Rose :)

  17. i completely loved this story..... i hope you write sequels....... :)

  18. I loved it... you are an amazing author and I desperately hope that you give us a sequel... perhaps about marie and mazen's married life, their kids and their happiness. Please consider this request. I know that al you're fans would love to read more on these two. Again, you have a very special gift. I sincerely thank you for giving us such an enjoyable ride. Thank youuu!

  19. I can hardly see the keyboard. I'm sobbing like a baby. What a perfect no-ending to such a unique story. I am now anxious to see it unfold, Mazen not committed to T (!!!!!), the political threats, the resolution about Marie's business in America - maybe she can have Jasper as her employee and if not forgiving him (though she should consider it, it's God's words) - at least have him taking care of what was rightfully his too and allowing him to get Alice's forgiveness for the sake of their child, the evil Queen ... everything, everything! So many stories begging to be said!
    Thank you Rose. It was a perfect moment. A moment of clarity. A lesson to be learned. A black key opening Marie to the world of love and companion.

  20. Amazing story, thank you so much for sharing it with us xxx

  21. There are no words to describe it but just beautiful.. Thank you rose for that wonderful rollercoaster ride of emotions...it was a ride of a lifetime.. A story with well defined characters... With real conflicts... Discussing one of the most sensitive issues that we are facing today..and acknowledging facts which are still visible up to today... May we all learn from this.. Especially on how we treat other people with different beliefs

  22. Well, I didn't see just how you could possibly end this story in just one more chapter - but, yea, I could totally see this ending here - and even better maybe with a final epilogue to tie up any loose strings. I understand that you are perhaps continuing Mazen & Marie's story with two more books. I'm sure there could be a lot of possibilities happen upon their reunion. I find him just verbally "divorcing" her, suspect. I cannot believe that is sufficient to make it so. And, while I'm satisfied that justice was served upon Jasper, I think Alicia probably would have welcomed Marie's friendship abundantly. After all, she is bearing Marie's niece or nephew, right? - and alone? Well, thank you for sharing. Please don't let some of the harsh words of some reviewers deter you from your writing. Sour apples, I think. Those who cannot write - criticize. This story in particular had many sensitive issues which I think you handled ably and with decorum. Like I've commented before - you are very brave, courageous and strong. DG

  23. Best book ever!!! Can't wait for the sequel, wish I could go on amazon and buy it this instant, cus I still think u should publish BK!!!!
    So happy Marie found her black keys, and I just know Mazen will be waiting for her. Just like he never gave up on Salma, because his love for Marie is stronger....
    Congrats Rose on a Job well done <3


  24. What a perfect ending. Waiting for the seqeul!!!

  25. It definitely had an awesome message. I loved it all. I can't wait for the sequel and to see their reunion.

  26. I loved it. Loved how you incorporated all the Q&A's from her grandparents into making her look at the world in a new way.
    I'm so glad you will be continuing this. Please don't forget to let us know.

  27. I have so enjoyed this amazing story can't wait to read the seqeul !

  28. Wow such a great ending to this wonderful love story!! I really hope you write a sequel, or if not at least write an epilogue of their reunion! I really missed Mazen too in this chapter, but knowing Marie is heading back to him makes the 'happy ending' for this story! But still there is so much you could do with a sequel. Seriously Rose, you hit the nail on the head with this one, such an amazing talent.... Anyways, hope to hear from you soon as you're able.... Xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  29. Thank you, thank you so much! A wonderful, lovely and inspiring story! Loved it since the first time you put on FFnet. Lost of things happened while following these increable characters...Beautiful ending, looking foward to the sequel.

  30. Speechless! That was an AMAZING ending. Why does anyone doubt your writing abilities? You gaves us a wonderful thought provoking story why wouldn't the ending be just the same. Marie needs to go get here Man before the Queen and Talia try to get him to marry her. Then she needs to publish those thoughts because others need their black keys. Will Book 2 be in Mazen POV? I would love to know his thoughts especially when they first meet or when they both started to fall in love.

  31. I hope she gets there before his mother does something stupid and makes him marry another girl. Also hope that everything goes over well when she showed up. keep up the good writing. i enjoyed it.

  32. Beautiful! She has grown and evolved so much! It only takes her two weeks to get back to him? Yes! Cannot wait to read more, Thank you, Rose, for this amazing story!

  33. Love this Story. Thank you. Such an original premise! Waiting for the sequel. Please have mercy on us.

  34. Love the story its really amazing.
    Muslims are generally misunderstood in the world, and the fact that you are using this platform to clear out the misconceptions about the religion is commendable.
    Can't wait for the sequel, Im sure it will be amazing!!
    Just one request, can you update the story on fanfiction.net as well? I dont know about your other readers, but I read using my smartphone and fanfiction.net is a mobile friendly site, it gets a bit difficult to read from the blog....
    Thanks a lot for sharing this amazing story.

  35. Totaly loved it...thanx for sharing this with us...

  36. Hi
    It was wonderful the closing of this first book. The narration took us on a roller coaster of emotions with subtle past in the life of Marie, up to adult child, of his discovery of true love, Marie discovered that no matter the beliefs if you do not follow, that there is a lot of hypocrisy in society and all peoples and races, no one has the absolute truth. I want to thank for his work on research that was long and tiring very likely because its history is rich in detail. I am Brazilian and I learned a lot with its history, it was very educational.
    My head is already teeming with thousands of questions for the sequel. I wonder if she will try to fix things with Alica and his brother and with each other before flying Mazen, if she will leave the company with her brother, he working for her as an employee (forgive is divine), or will leave Angela responsible, or even hire someone fit for this position. She's going to look Mazen, does not know when she returns, she can not return at all. She'll take your bodyguard Jacob, I think she should take someone you trust.
    I have a request though. I wish I could read how the mind works, mind Mazen, as he sees things, how he discovered he loved Marie, as he felt for his mother after what she did to Marie about her virginity and what he intended to do after Marie put on the plane to her country, as he suffers by Marie love and how it will act as Marie back behind him, looking for him if they are divorced. In other words, I would have one or more long view Mazen about the whole story from the beginning. His side has to be another way of sight and should be very interesting. Thanks again, and if you can answer me I will be very delighted.
    Angelik Angel.

    1. That's a whole book. ;)
      I promise to think about it, but not before the trilogy is finished.
      Thank you for the kind words.

  37. Thank you so much for writing this! I love love love it!
    I'm a Muslim and I love how you represented us, people need to know that killing is a sin in my religion. You are absolutely amazing!
    What a beautiful writing piece, I really hope there is more to come as an epilogue or a sequel? I just want to see her and Maze n reunited.

    Thank you for sharing and I wish you all the best for every future fic you do, I will be definitely reading anything you write :)

  38. I loved the ending. She finally going home to Mazen!!! Cant wait for the sequel!!!! 😀

  39. beautiful want a wonderful story and I am so sad that is the end of it but good thing marie is going back to her love and please tell me there will be a sequel

  40. Dear Rose,
    what an amazing journey you have taken us on!
    I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you, for this story, for the insight, and for handing all of us some black keys.
    Thank you so much!

  41. Yupppy....... i want more Rose
    Plese don 't end it here, one more cap. Kiss 'ya and luv 'ya. Oana

  42. Omg!! I can barely see the keyboard through my tears. Thank you so much for share this piece of art that's really beautiful and touching and also with a message in it. You're a great author! I really enjoyed your story and I'm looking forward for that sequel so I'm hoping we can read it soon. Please!!!

  43. I'm a little confused...if the reason why Mazen stopped touching Marie was because they weren't married in the eyes of Islam, how come he still continued to kiss her?

  44. Perfection. Thank you

  45. Thanks!!! Loved it. Now the sequel. Hope it's soon!!🙏🙏please please

  46. Great story! Can't believe it's over:(
    I hope you will start writing now the next one but you started a new story, wich breaks a bit my hopes!

    The story of these two deserves to be told!
    Btw i am not sure about tge Jasper thing.
    How is she better than Jasper? He pointed a gun to his sister head to save the life a soneone innocent and she pointed a gun to her brothers head for revenge...

    1. She didn't let him walk away empty handed. She gave him his fair share. :)

    2. What do you mean with "his fair share"? Money?
      Because if we are talking about money than Jasper made a favor to marie, because Mazen has much more money than she.

    3. She paid for his rights in the company.

  47. AMAZING story!!!! Thank you very much!!!!

  48. Thank you. This is the most beautiful story I ever read. I think about it all day long... Can't wait for the sequel to start!

  49. You are an amazing writer. Can't wait for more. :)

  50. Can you tell us the name of the sequel?

  51. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Thanks!

      1- if you read carefully; you'll find out that she found her black keys AFTER that scene in the cafe. She did say so herself - that it was her wake up call.
      And even if she didn't help her AFTER she found the black keys - which wasn't the case in here - I think realizing that three weeks ago she would've encouraged the seller, now she felt disgusted with it, is a huge deal on its own.

      2- Because she knew it was the right thing; please remember what she went through; and what Mazen actually addressed in the last chapter.
      It's not an easy thing to just give up everything to live a life where she's always threatened like she was in those six days just because she found out she was in love with a man who's she knew all of her life to be a lying cheat, killer like his race all of her life. It's not a one minute decision.

      3- I think Mazen did do that, many times - please read chapter 29 when he told her about the black keys.
      And we are talking about a person who was in his country, his home, with his people, and all that for only six days. I don't understand what character's development would be made here? Why would he need it? And what kind of events he went through in those six days to 'devolve' him?

      - As for Marie's 'sudden change': when Mazen did talk to her; she still thought 'he's a Muslim, of course he'd say that' as in she did not believe him.
      I don't think 'two weeks' of broken heart that she tried to heal; and after all of she saw in those two weeks, learned, googled, faced, talked to, saw with her eyes, then sitting and writing her thoughts is a 'second'.
      She hated Muslims, but her black keys told her that people will stay people, good or bad, she was ready to fight, didn't say she forgot.

      - If you notice; you say she didn't found the black keys, then you say how can she forget ...

      - Again - it's not one second process as you put it, but I understand if that was how I understood it.

      - I happen to have time now; so I replied. As for publishing your comment; I don't filter comments on my blog, I like to hear thoughts.

      Thanks, but I'm really proud of what I accomplished with this story, perfect or not.

      Rose B

  52. This is truely an amazing story, I have loved every minute of it, reading it, I can't wait for it to be published so that I get to keep a copy of it. You should truely be proud of yourself for this fantastic story

  53. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Hello Raenalyn,
      I'm sorry I'm just getting to you now.
      I would like to reply, but you deleted the comment and I don't remember you questions, I'm sorry.
      I deleted the offending reply; it was uncalled for.
      Hope you're not upset.
      Have a great day. <3

  54. It's an amazing story. Your words are so beautiful. If you're going to pull out the BKA.Any chance we could read the full story on line? Thank you Rose.

  55. Great Ending!!!! I loved this journey with you and your personages.
    Are you going to write the next one now or do you plan of making a pause? Do you plan to post the sequel here or are you going to publish it directly?

    Best greetings

  56. thank you so much for not keeping them separated for months, or years...can't wait for her to make it back to mazen...do you know when the sequel will begin posting?

  57. I really enjoyed this book. When I first started reading it, I was perplexed with Marie's views. Throughout the story, her thoughts came full circle. I do say while I understand why she did what she did to Jasper/Jaser, two wrongs don't make a right. I hope she continues her soul searching, and learns to forgive him for his actions. I would love to know what happened with Mazen after Marie left. I'm sure the wolves descended. I can't wait for the sequel!

  58. Will you post only here or else where too

  59. I loved it so beautiful it had me laughing crying and hoping it was beautiful I can't wait for part two

  60. Oh I am so sorry I forgot to say thank you so thank you

  61. hola , me gusto demasiado tu historia, espero pronto la continuación

  62. Dear Rose, when are you starting to post the sequel? I just cant wait for whats next, please

  63. I hope she learns that she doesn't need to be colorblind. When people say they have to be colorblind or not see my ethnicity to see me as the same, it hurts because I don't want you to erase my color or culture to like/love/accept me. Colorblindness in regards to race is often written about as hurtful, no matter how well intentioned. See my religion, see my ethnicity, don't be prejudiced against it but don't just pretend it's not there. I know she is just beginning to unpack her privilege and prejudice though.

  64. oh wow how wonderful that she has found the keys. i'm so glad she's going back to mazen!! jasper got exactly what he deserves!! and that scene with that muslim girl was so sad but it was necessary for bella to witness it. loved this so much. and it would've been good if she got to go see alice anyways! thankyou so much for this i have to now go find your new book or get it on kindle to read!! i can't say it enough you are absolutely sensational!!!