Authors: Sophia Lynn,Jessica Brooke
“I got my tests back from the doctor, and I’m good to go. Adir and I are going to try to have a baby!”
“Holy shit!” Madeline set the wine bottle down on the counter before she dropped it. “That’s great, Nessa! I didn’t know you guys were trying so soon.”
“Yes, well, Adir wanted to get started as soon as possible, but I wanted to get a checkup from the doctor just to make sure before we really started trying.” Her voice turned downright mischievous. “He had no trouble showing me just how happy he was with my announcement.”
Madeline chuckled, but the sound was a bit strained. Vanessa’s relationship with Adir only served to remind her just how fucked her own love life was. “That’s great, Nessa. I’m really happy for you.”
“Thanks.” Vanessa’s voice dipped a little, some of the excitement vanishing. “Are you alright, though? You don’t sound as excited as I thought you would.”
, she thought as she poured a healthy dose of red wine into her wineglass. She really hadn’t wanted to rain on Vanessa’s parade with her own shitty problems.
“Well, usually you would have been cracking jokes or making baby-naming suggestions by now.”
Madeline sighed as she took her wine with her to the couch. “I’m sorry, Nessa. I’ve just had a rough day. Jason and I…we broke up.”
“You broke up!” The shock in Vanessa’s voice mirrored Madeline’s own shock when she’d realized who Jason was texting. “But I thought you two were getting married in just a few months! Weren’t we going to Honolulu to dance around the bonfire wearing grass skirts and coconuts on the beach?”
“We were, until I found out that the reason Jason was late for our dinner date tonight was because he was fucking some blonde whore.” Madeline gripped the phone a little tighter as her voice trembled. The more she thought about it, the surer she was that he’d been fucking her before dinner. She’d smelled the perfume on him when he’d kissed her. Her stomach pitched at the idea that another woman had been kissing those lips just minutes before she had, and she set her wineglass on the coffee table, not so interested in it anymore.
“That two-timing asshole,” Vanessa seethed. “Do you want me to send someone after him? I’m sure Adir has contacts I can tap.”
Madeline snorted. “That sounds like something
would say, not you.” She crossed her ankles as she sat horizontally on the couch, her back leaning against the armrest.
“Yeah, well you’re understandably out of sorts, so I thought I’d fill in.” Madeline smiled a little at the concern in her best friend’s voice. “Are you sure you don’t need something, though? Maybe a little downtime? You could always come over here for a few weeks. Adir and I would be more than happy to have you.”
“Thanks, but I’m not sure being idle is the best thing for me right now,” Madeline admitted. “I’m sure I’ve lost money on some of the deposits I’ve put down for the wedding, and besides, I need to get a job now that I’ve graduated.” She’d walked out of NYU with her biotechnology degree a few months ago, and had just recently finished a paid internship. But the laboratory she’d been working at wasn’t hiring, and she needed to find someone who was.
“You know,” Vanessa said thoughtfully, “I heard that the medical research lab at the University of Dubai is looking to bring on an additional biochemist to help with an IVF project they’re working on. I was talking to the director the other day and he said they needed someone for a couple of weeks, and if the person was a great fit they might even offer them a permanent job.”
“Really?” Madeline’s eyebrows quirked up. “Well I don’t know about permanent, but I’d love to work on an IVF project, for sure.” One of her close college friends had been struggling to get pregnant via IVF, and it was something Madeline was interested in, if only so that women who couldn’t conceive naturally had more options open to them.
“Well why don’t you apply online? They’re advertising the position on their website. And I can always put in a good word with the director for you.”
“That sounds great. Why don’t you let me think about it, and I’ll let you know about talking to the director?” Madeline was starting to feel a little light-headed. The prospect of picking up and moving to Dubai, even for such a short period of time, was a little overwhelming. She didn’t want to jump into anything just yet.
“Sure thing, hon. Just let me know soon, okay? I think he’s already got quite a few applicants, and I wouldn’t want you to miss out.”
They chatted for a little while longer, and then Madeline hung up the phone and sipped her wine in silence, staring at the blank screen of her flat-screen TV as she thought about Vanessa’s offer. Unlike Vanessa, Madeline had never really found the idea of living abroad appealing. She’d done a backpacking trip through Europe with Vanessa before they’d gone off to college, and while they’d had a ton of fun, it had also made her realize just how good she had it in the States. She’d been happy to return home. But when she’d gone to Dubai for the wedding, she had to admit she’d fallen in love with the gorgeous desert country, with its crazy architectural attractions and beautiful coastline. Surely living there for a few weeks wouldn’t be so bad, would it?
Her phone buzzed, and she dug it out of her pocket to see that she had a text from Jason.
Call me please. We can work this out.
Madeline gritted her teeth, and she had to take a deep breath in through her nose lest she smash her own phone against the wall like she had Jason’s. He’d probably just replaced the phone she’d smashed at the AT&T store. Well, if he thought she was going to be flattered that he’d chosen to text her right away after getting service back, he could think again.
But the fact that he was texting her did remind her that Jason knew her number, knew where she lived, and knew the places where she liked to hang out. If he still wanted to hang on to her, he could make it very hard for her to forget about him and move on if she were here. But if she were in Dubai, there was no chance of that happening. She could block his phone number and hop on a plane, and he wouldn’t know what the hell had happened.
Decided, she got up from the couch and went to her bedroom to fire up her laptop. It was time for her to check out that job application.
“Miss? We’re going to be landing soon.”
Madeline moaned a little at the exotic sound of the flight attendant’s voice. Opening her eyes, she saw the dark-skinned woman smiling down at her, hands clasped in front of her conservative, ankle-length navy dress with the Emirates logo stitched onto the collar.
“Would you like anything to eat or drink before we descend?” she asked politely.
“Some seltzer, thanks.” Madeline pressed the button on the side of her leather seat and raised it back up to a sitting position. Now that she was awake again, her stomach was beginning to knot itself with nerves, and she didn’t think eating was a good idea. But seltzer would help settle her stomach a bit.
“Very good, Miss Anthony. I’ll be right back.”
As the flight attendant bustled away to retrieve her drink, Madeline looked out the window of the private jet Vanessa had insisted on sending for her. The clouds hovering outside her window were tinged with the reds, pinks and yellows of sunset, and Madeline bit her lip, wishing she hadn’t fallen asleep on the plane. She was going to be up all night at this rate, and she had to be up early the next morning for her new job.
Jesus Christ. I’m starting a new job tomorrow. In
The flight attendant handed her the drink, and she sipped it slowly as she pondered how much life had changed. Just last week she was hunting for a job and frantically planning a wedding while desperately trying to save her failing relationship. Now there was no relationship and no wedding, but she had a job, at least temporarily. Her first real job since finishing her internship, and it was in a foreign country.
Oh well. At least if you totally bomb out, you’ll have Vanessa to catch you.
Madeline straightened her shoulders. She was
going to bomb out. Sure, maybe this job was only going to be for three weeks, but she was going to be working on a new IVF procedure that could potentially revolutionize the medical industry. If she pulled it off, it was going to look damn good on her resume. This was the sort of thing that could make or break her medical career, and she was
going to screw it up.
The pilot ordered Madeline and the flight attendant to put on their seat belts and prepare for landing, so she did as he asked and settled into her seat to watch the descent. As they descended through layers of cumulus and Dubai came into view, some of her anxiety began to melt away. She took in the sprawling city-state in awe, its gleaming skyscrapers and manmade islands jutting out of the desert country like a futuristic oasis. A river divided the city through the center, winding its way to the sparkling coastline. Spearing up through the heart of it all was the Burj Khalifa, and below it was the tropical blue waters of Dubai Fountain—two of the most famous attractions that drew tourists there year after year, or so she’d read. A burst of excitement brought a smile to her face—she wanted to ride up to the top of that tower. She could just imagine herself standing up there, looking down at this amazing city as the hot wind brushed against her cheeks and adrenaline pumped through her veins. She would have to make sure Vanessa took her there as soon as possible.
As they drew closer to the airport, the spectacular view was lost amongst the snaking highways and clustered buildings. Soon enough, the plane’s wheels touched down on the tarmac, and as the plane raced across the runway, wind roaring outside the fuselage, Madeline’s pulse raced with excitement. She was finally here! As far away from Jason as she could get, and just a few minutes away from hugging her best friend. For someone who’d just broken up with her longtime fiancé, life wasn’t going too bad right now.
As the pilot came to a complete stop and signaled it was okay to disembark, Madeline vowed that she was going to have as much fun as possible. True, she couldn’t be as wild and crazy as she could have if she’d gone to Vegas due to Dubai’s laws regarding alcohol consumption and dress code, but it was a beautiful country with lots to do and see. She was going to make the most of it. Plus, she was bound to find a hot guy or two along the way who could help her forget about Jason. The idea of actually having sex again made her tingle all over; it had been over a month since she and Jason had last attempted to have sex, which was a record for her. She wasn’t a slut, but she didn’t believe in celibacy, either. As far as she was concerned, sex was an excellent way to recharge both the mind and the body, so why avoid it?
Let’s not get ahead of yourself, girl. You’re not here for sex.
Pushing the thought aside, Madeline grabbed her purse, then brushed a hand down her jeans and sweater to make sure she looked decent. She considered grabbing the heavy jacket she’d boarded the plane with, but she knew temperatures were warmer here and decided to let the flight attendant, who was handling her luggage anyway, take care of it.
“Maddy!” Vanessa cried as Madeline trotted down the small ramp leading to the tarmac. She was standing by a black SUV with the Emirates flag flying from its hood, and was flanked by a pair of bodyguards. Dressed in a pale pink abaya with golden flowers, her long blond hair pulled back in an elegant knot, she looked absolutely radiant. Her eyes sparkled and her cheeks were flushed.
“Nessa!” Madeline grinned as her friend rushed over, meeting her halfway. They embraced, and Madeline inhaled Vanessa’s familiar, comforting vanilla scent. “Oh, I’m so glad to see you. You look so happy.”
“Yeah, well I guess marriage can do that to you.” Vanessa’s eyes didn’t lose their sparkle as she pulled away. “How are you doing? Was the flight okay?”
“As good as a fourteen-hour flight can be.” Madeline smiled at the flight attendant as she passed, who was rolling her luggage toward the SUV. One of the bodyguards stepped forward to take the bags from her. “The jet was very comfortable, and I was well taken care of. I appreciate you letting me use it.”
“Anytime. You know I’m at your disposal…at least when I’m not at the hospital, anyway.” She laughed a little as they climbed into the SUV. “Between being Adir’s wife and doing my residency, I’m not sure where I find extra hours in the day.”
“And now you’re going to be having a baby, too.” Madeline shook her head, amazed. “Who knew getting married could turn you into a superwoman?”
Vanessa laughed as they buckled up. “So, where are we dropping you off? Or do you want to come back to the palace with me? You know you can stay with us as long as you want.”
“Thanks, but I found this amazing place to sublet on Airbnb and I couldn’t pass up the chance, so I snagged it.” Madeline smiled apologetically at Vanessa. She hadn’t wanted to rely on Vanessa entirely for the trip; she was already getting this great job from her, and using her jet. At least she could feel a little more like a local if she rented her own place instead of living at the palace, which was something most people never even dreamed of.
“Oh alright. But if you change your mind, the offer stands. And you know you can come by any time.”
Madeline squeezed Vanessa’s hand in thanks, then gave the driver the address to her rental. Settling back in her seat, she looked out the window as they drove through the streets, admiring the foreign architecture. The skyscrapers here were very impressive, and clustered between them were various shops, apartment complexes, industrial buildings and more. Soon enough, they pulled up in front of a towering blue-and-white skyscraper.
“You’re staying at Jumeirah Lake Towers?” Vanessa sounded both impressed and appalled. “They’re really nice, but you’ve got to be spending a pretty penny!”
Madeline shrugged. “Like I said, I got a great deal on Airbnb.” Her father also gave her a decent allowance every month—something that was supposed to end one year after she finished college, but she still had about nine months left and she was going to take advantage of it. “Don’t worry about it, Nessa. If I fall on hard times, you’re the first person I’ll run to.”