Nathan and the rest finished cooking by 10:00 am and then immediately ate.
It was now 10:40 am.
They were all resting on the sand and telling stories.
Nathan was smoking as he listened.
He was trying to find the right time to talk to Fatima.
"Hey, Khalid, tell us about why they used to call you Lil' Butt," Baar said.
"What the hell? Lil' Butt?"
"Fuck you all!" Khalid said.
"Hey, hey. Come on, Khalid bro, tell us the story. I'm sure my cousin and the girls would like to hear it," Maaz said.
"Yeah, come on, tell us the story."
"Khalid, if you don't tell us the story, I'm going to tell it myself!" Baar said and grinned.
"Fuck! Okay. So, this was like 3 years ago and I used to wear baggy clothes," Khalid said.
"Oh, yeah, you used to dressed like those rappers and we used to call you blanket," Baaz said.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, I was standing in the club minding my own business when this guy suddenly came up to me and asked, 'Bro, do you have a light?' And I said, 'Sure,' and took my lighter out. And as I was pulling out my lighter, all of a sudden, he threw a punch at me. I was able to dodge it and then I tackled him to the ground and we started wrestling."
"Wait, why did the guy suddenly tried to punch you?" Lena said.
"I don't know. Maybe he was jealous of my good looks or something," Khalid said.
"Nah, he was inside a metal club and he was dressed like a blanket," Baar said and laughed.
The others laughed as well.
"Continue the story," Maaz said.
"Okay, okay, okay. So as we were wrestling on the ground, because I was wearing my pants down low, my butt was sticking out."
"That's called sagging, right?" Lena said.
"Yeah. But in the end I won."
"And earned the nickname Lil' Butt. Bwahahaha~!" Baar said.
Everyone except Khalid laughed as well.
"Nathan, how do I get a nice butt? Mine is too flabby," Salma said as she stood up and turned around.
"Get the flabby ass away from my face!" Khalid said.
"Shut up, Lil' Butt!"
"Umm… Just do squats," Nathan said.
"Really? Just squats?" Salma said.
"Yeah. You also need proper diet and sleep --"
"--because working out is basically like a three-legged chair. You need a good workout program that fits for you -- so it's very important to hire a gym instructor if you're a beginner -- enough sleep and a healthy diet. If one is missing, you might as well not work out at all because you'll only be wasting your time and money and you could also hurt yourself."
"Okay, thanks, Nathan. I'll try to do some squats," Salma said and looked at the other girls, "Hey, let's go to the gym tomorrow."
"Eh~ I'm too lazy," Kera said.
"I'll go with you. I want to get some abs," Lena said.
"Me too," Zainab said.
"How about you, Fat?" Lena said.
"I'll think about it," Fatima said.
"Nathan, let's go to the gym tomorrow and you can train us."
As far as Nathan knows, Lena and the girls are from Banya city and he's from Liit Town.
As much as he wants to spend more time with Fatima, there are just some things that are simply a bit unrealistic.
'Perhaps I should move to Banya city?' Nathan thought. "Yeah, sure."
"Nathan bro, how many times a week should a person workout?" Omar said.
"It depends. You see, there are some people that are just so busy or have health problems. But at least 4 times a week is already very good."
"How long should workout last?" Maaz said.
"At least 30 minutes is already good."
"Nathan, how long have you been working out?" Zainab said.
"About 6 years now."
"No wonder your body looks great," Zainab said and smiled sweetly.
Nathan scratched his nose. "Thanks, but not really. I still have many things to work on. I'm nothing compared to those models online -- though I doubt if 90% of them are even natural."
"Are you taking steroids?" Baar said.
"Oh, no. Steroids are way too expensive for me. Ignoring the expenses for the good, gym membership and supplements, aside from purchasing steroids, there's also the side-effects that come with it so you will have to go see a doctor -- Um… I'm not 100% sure but I think twice a month? So that he/she can prescribe to me the necessary medicine to combat the side-effects."
"Hey, we still have some liquor left. Who wants to drink?" said Khalid.
"I want some."
"I want one."
"I think I'll pass. I need to be sober this afternoon," Fatima said.
Nathan's eyes flashed.
'This is it! This is my chance!' he thought. "I'll pass as well."
"Nathan, you're not going to drink?" Zainab said.
"Umm… Yeah. I'm going to work out tomorrow."
"That's too bad. I was really hoping you're going to drink." Zainab said and made a pouting face.
"Aw… Haha… Sorry. Next time. I promise."
Nathan looked over at Fatima.
She was busy texting on her phone.
'Who is she texting? Another man? Another crew?'
He shook his head mentally.
'Now is not the time to think about that.'
He got up and approached her.
"Hey, wanna go check the area?"
Fatima raised her head and looked at him.
"Sorry, I don't feel like swimming anymore. I'm tired."
"Well," Nathan scratched the back of his head. "We're not going for a swim. I wanted to check the rest of the island with you. If you're fine with that."
"Woo~ Looks like someone has a plan," Khalid said on the side and smiled.
Nathan blushed and said, "No, it's not like that. I just --"
"Okay, sure. I don't have anything better to do anyway," Fatima said and got up.
"You guys take your time, okay?" said Khalid.
Omar, who is usually silent finally opened his mouth. "Bro, has anyone told you you can be obnoxious sometimes?"
"It's part of my charm, bro."
Nathan and Fatima were walking along the shores of the beach in silence.
They were already far away from the group.
Nathan was thinking about how he was going to ask her without offending her.
Unfortunately, he couldn't find any way.
'Fuck me sideways! I'll just fucking say it.'
He turned to Fatima.
She was wearing a black bathing suit and a pareo wrapped around her waist.
And of course, she had her glasses.
"Do you have a boyfriend?"
She didn't look at him and just smiled. "I think you already know the answer to that."
Nathan wanted to facepalm himself but he didn't.
Instead, he massaged the back of his neck.
"You're right. That was a stupid question."
"I'm not interested in being in a relationship."
Nathan was caught off-guard momentarily.
Fatima stopped and pulled out her phone.
She then passed him her phone.
It was a picture of her and two children.
One was about 6 years old and the other one was 3 years old.
They were girls.
"Those are my kids," she said and smiled.
His jaw dropped.
Fatima made a mental note of Nathan's reaction.
It was a reaction she was very familiar with from her suitors whenever she reveals that she has children.
"I- I… They're very cute," Nathan stammered.
Fatima and took back her phone from Nathan's hands and resumed walking.
Nathan followed suit.
"I was only 15 years old when I got pregnant by my boyfriend."
"When my parents found out about it, they demanded to have my boyfriend marry me or they will disown me. But my boyfriend's parents didn't agree, saying I was unfit for their son -- they already had a woman planned for him as his wife."
"My boyfriend's parents then suggested to me to secretly abort the baby. They even offered to pay for the procedure and promised to give me a huge sum of money if I break up with their son."
"Neither of us liked the conditions so we decided to run away together."
"We both dropped out of school and rented a small one-bedroom apartment. My boyfriend worked, while I stayed at home as a dedicated housewife."
"Although I was scared about the future, I was also excited."
Fatima stopped and turned to him.
"I was just a dumb teenager with her head in the clouds back then," she said and smiled.
However, he felt the sadness in her voice.
"Did… did you guys get married?" Nathan softly asked.
Fatima turned around and resumed walking.
"We planned to one day. But decided to wait until everything settled down -- we had so many things on our plate at that time."
"But after our first child was born, things just rougher that we just kept on fighting. Two years later, our financial problems lessened a bit but our relationship was too chaotic. So, in order to save our relationship, we decided to have another baby."
"And for some miracle, it worked. He also started earning more so we were able to move to a much better apartment. And I remember thinking at that time that everything will finally go smoothly. However, that bliss only lasted for a couple of months."
"I caught him cheating."
"I'm sorry to hear that…"
"And the best part of it all? The woman that he was cheating with was the same woman that his parents planned to partner him with since the beginning. And he's now happily married with her."
Fatima shook her head. "You don't have to feel sorry or angry for me. Thanks to what I have experienced, I've grown to be a strong and independent person. And plus, on the brighter side, I'm blessed with two beautiful angels that I love to death."
"Yeah, that's true."
"Right now, I'm not looking for any relationship. I just want to enjoy my life with my kids."
"But can't we just --"
"You're a sweet guy, Nathan. I can tell. But I don't see us anything more than what we've shared."
"So why --"
"You shouldn't. Look, you're not from here so you may not know. In the eyes of society, women like me are seen as nothing but dirty and discarded women. But I don't care. I will live my life how I want to and do the best I can for my daughters without relying on other people."
Nathan grabbed her shoulders and made her face him.
"You're not a discarded and dirty woman! Not to me! Never! Look, I love kids and I don't care even if you have 100 of them. And plus, I know what if feels like being cheated on. In fact, 2 months ago before I --"
"Nathan, please." She brushed away Nathan's hold. "This weekend is just a little escape for me. Something like trying to take back what I've lost during my teen years."
She resumed walking.
"And plus, your reaction earlier when I revealed to you that I have children already says a lot."
Nathan wanted to say something but stopped himself.
What was there to say?
Sometimes it's better just not to say anything.
He just stared at her back and thought about his grandfather's advice.
'Perhaps if I was more successful she wouldn't have rejected me?'
Fatima stopped and turned around to face Nathan with a smile.
"Stop being so emo. It's not like we're not going to hang out again."
'Maaz said he has 600k in his bank account. That's an amount that would take me at years to earn. Perhaps if I join whatever business that he's in, Fatima would change her mind,' Nathan thought. "Yeah, you're right."
Fatima's brown eyes gaze upon the ocean.
The waves came and went, brushing on her feet.
The image of her right in front of him gave off a sense of melancholy.
She looked like a beautiful warrior who fought a hundred battles and survived. And although no external scars were visible, one could tell she had tons of internal scars underneath.
He could only wonder what hardships she had to go through.
"Can I ask for your number in case we hang out next time?" he said.
He refused to give up.
She turned to him and smiled. "Sure."
Nathan jogged towards her and gave her his phone.
As she was entering her number on his phone, he continued thinking…
'I don't care about her past. I don't care if she has 100 children. I don't care what society thinks of her. All I know --'
All of a sudden, another thought flashed inside his head.
'Wait… Given her lifestyle at the moment, is it possible that she may have experienced abortion?'
If she did, she would be no different from Karen.
And wouldn't that make him a hypocrite?
'Wait… Last night, I remember using condoms. I had one inside my wallet and she also brought one.'
A sense of relief washed over him.
Fatima returned his phone to him.
"Just don't send me any quotes and chain messages. I hate those. If you do --"
"Don't worry. Me too. LOL," he said and smiled. 'Yeah, nothing is going against my principles. I'm not a hypocrite. We're both victims here.'
"Wanna go back?"
"Already? I thought you brought me here to do this," said Fatima with a smile as she stepped closer to him and wrapped her arms around his waist.
'Why do I feel like I'm the woman here?' Nathan thought.
He chuckled and then grabbed her chin.
"You're right," he said and softly pressed his lips against hers.
A couple of minutes later…
Nathan and Fatima were walking back to the group.
Fatima was laughing because of a story Nathan shared with her about his past.
"Oh my God. That was so funny. I didn't expect that," Fatima said and wiped off the tears on her eye.
"So who's taking care of your children now?"
"I left them with a babysitter and she's been texting me since this morning, asking me when am I coming home."
'Oh, so that's why she's always on her phone…' Nathan thought. "I see."
"Look who has finally decided to come back!" Khalid said.
Nathan and Fatima looked over at the group.
They were busy packing things up.
"Sorry, we got caught up with something," Nathan said.
"I bet you both got caught up in a STICKY and WET situation," Khalid said.
Nathan and Fatima then helped out in packing things up.
Nathan and his group arrived at the harbor of Banya city to drop off the women.
"Let's hang out again soon!"
"See you guys next time!"
"Have a safe trip!"
Omar turned on the engine and the speedboat drove away.
"Now back to Liit town," Khalid said.
"Nathan bro, come hang out with us tonight," Baar said.
"I'm going to pass, bro. I'm so tired already. I just want to rest for tomorrow's work."
"Ok, no problem, bro."
Nathan looked back at Banya city and thought about Fatima.
For the first time since the incident, he felt genuinely happy.
He felt like a new man with a newfound purpose.
He looked over at Maaz who was talking with Baar and Khalid.
'I'll talk to him later…'
They arrived at Liit town.
Baar, Maaz and Nathan got off the speedboat.
Meanwhile, Omar stayed behind.
"You guys go ahead. I need to clean this up or my brother will kill me."
"Okay, bro," said Maaz and Baar.
"See you later, bro," Nathan said.
"See ya, bro," Khalid bro.
When the left the docks, Khalid was the first one to leave.
"I'm going this way. See ya later, bro."
"Okay, bro," said the other three.
"Nathan bro, you should definitely come hang out with us tonight."
"I really can't. But I'll think about it."
He finally left.
A couple of steps further, it was Baaz's turn.
"See you two cousins later."
"Okay, bro," said the two.
With only the two of them left as they head to their home, Nathan decided it was time to talk to Maaz.
"Cousin, I want to earn cash. Can I join whatever is that you're doing?"
I hope you guys enjoyed this chapter. Thank you for reading!
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