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This is the final chapter of Parts of Desire, and the longest. Once again, I am deeply indebted to Ravenna933 for her edits and her ideas which made this entire story stronger.
It was in a state of naked, harmonious, postcoital bliss that Rania, Khadija and I packed up our campsite on the sheltered cliffside beach on the Musandam Peninsula in the Sultanate of Oman. The previous day’s disagreements behind us, we worked in happy silence, rolling up our sleeping bags, packing away what was left of our food, and stowing gear in the back of our rented Toyota Land Cruiser.
Finally, with the car loaded, the three of us turned to face each other.
“I feel like we have so much to talk about”, Khadija started, “but for now all I want to do is stay naked. It’s so freeing just existing in this state of mind, after a lifetime of feeling like my body was something to hide. I have tried so hard to overcome the cultural messages I was raised with, but a week of living as a free spirit has been worth more than a lifetime of theory. I’ve never been so happy.”
Rania gave her a hug. “It’s been good for all of us. I changed, so much, after living in Canada. I hope you can have that too, at least in your own way.”
With that, the girls and I dove into our suitcases and started dressing. Our own secluded rocky piece of paradise was its own world, but we were still in the Middle East, in a country that had certain rules of decorum about modesty. I’d been promised hiking for the second half of our Musandam day, and the girls kitted out in sports bras and workout gear under their ever-present abeyas and headscarves, while I opted for my field pants, hiking boots, a long-sleeved workout shirt and a wide-brimmed hat to prevent sunburn.
Rania looked me up and down, approvingly, as I dressed. “I don’t think I realized just how tanned you’ve gotten this week”, she commented. “I only ever got to see you pale from the winter. Your colour is sexy.”
“Why, thank you”, I answered. “I’m going to make all my friends and coworkers jealous. None of them had any idea why I wanted to come here; they thought of the Middle East as dangerous or something. I hope that coming back tanned, with the pictures I have of this amazing place, can at least convince some people to ignore the stereotypes and discover the truth.”
“Saudi Arabia is more like the stereotypes than Oman”, Khadija observed. “But we’re not all like the reputation, as you know.”
With the 4×4 packed up, I took one last look at our perfect beach, now beautifully illuminated in mid-morning sunshine. “This place will be another one that will hold such wonderful memories for me.”
“For all of us”, Khadija said, thinking. “I know what I said about virginity, blah, blah, blah. But on some level, this will always be the place I lost it. Someday I’ll have to bring my husband back here.”
I started the engine, and we negotiated the terrifying cliffside road back up to the main road. In daylight the drive was far more frightening at night, now that we could see just how far down the drop was, and how close to the edge we’d been at times. We’d been foolish even attempting to drive down the incline at night, but in the end, it had been worth it to have total privacy.
As we hit the main road again, for the first time I got a sense of the landscape of the Musandam peninsula. It was a rugged country of massive mountains plunging into pristine blue seas. It reminded me of pictures I’d seen of the fjords in Norway, except without a trace of greenery. The rocky brown and grey peaks towered over us as I navigated up and down the undulating region. It wasn’t a long drive back to Khasab, but it still took us time over the slow and winding roads.
When we hit Khasab, we bought a picnic lunch which we packed away, then Khadija directed me around the harbour and into the interior, following her brother’s directions towards our hike. After a momentous drive, we finally reached a tiny parking lot with a few cars in it, and a trail heading what looked like a sheer vertical up the mountain.
Khadija let out a low whistle. “This is the hike?” she asked to no one in particular.
We gathered our gear and headed out.
Ninety minutes later, we stood at the summit, sweaty and exhausted. The view below us in 360 degrees was as jaw-droppingly beautiful as any place I’d ever been in my life, with cragged, muscular peaks and plummeting canyons stretching in in every direction and leading down to a cobalt blue ocean. A fjord meandered up towards us as we overlooked it, sheer rock walls plunging a thousand feet straight down from summit to sea level.
It was the most incredible sight yet on a trip full of them, and yet as the three of us posed for pictures on the summit and then ate lunch, I was overcome with a profound sense of sadness. We were done sightseeing. We still had a day left after today, and Rania and I still had one more night together. But after that, the trip would be over.
The three of us trudged bursa escort back to the car and arrived hot and sweaty in the mid-afternoon sun. I blasted the air conditioning as we drove back towards Khasab and our reservation on the ferry.
Khasab in daylight wasn’t anything more impressive than it had been in darkness. It was a fishing village laid out in a gap in the fjords; a small cluster of Arabian-style buildings and docks for the ferry and cargo ships. We parked in the queue for the ferry and remained in the air-conditioned car, waiting. It was the hottest day we’d yet had, so going out in the elements seemed unnecessary.
“People here fish, mostly?” I asked innocently, making conversation. Khadija and Rania exchanged a knowing look.
“They smuggle”, Rania finally answered, quietly. “You know how Iran has been under a trade embargo for a long time because of their government?”
“Well”, she continued, “Khasab is just remote enough, not just from any other population centres, but also from the Royal Oman Police. There’s a border between here and the rest of the country, there’s not much violent crime up here, and we all think the embargo is unjust anyway, so the police kind of turn a blind eye to it. Either that, or everyone in town has ten refrigerators apiece.” She grinned.
I wracked my brain through the complicated politics of Islam, trying to pull out a piece I knew was in there somewhere. “Aren’t Iranians mostly Shi’a?”
“You bet”, Khadija answered. “It’s complicated.”
I gestured at the ferry, still shut and waiting for boarding. “We have some time.”
Khadija nodded. “Going over the entire history of Islam would be unnecessary, but you know Sunnis like us and Shi’as don’t get along. The split dates back fifteen hundred years, to the days immediately after the prophet died; his followers split in two on the question of whom to look to for leadership, among other things. There’s no love lost between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but Oman, being neither Sunni nor Shi’a, keeps their heads down and tries, mostly successfully, to get along with everyone. Also, if there’s one thing all Arabs can agree on, it’s not to let something like religion get in the way of a business opportunity.”
She took a breath, thinking. “Judaism sees itself as the one true religion. It was the first one to believe in one god, not many gods. Christianity sees itself as having taken the building blocks that the Jews started with and perfected it through Jesus Christ. Christianity is not in opposition to Judaism, at least according to the Christians. They see themselves as following a more complete and more developed form of the same religion. Muslims see Christians and Jews in the same way that Christians see Jews. We believe that Abraham was a true prophet of God. So was Moses, so was Jesus, and so was Mohammed. We use the term ahl al-kitab to describe the three monotheistic religions — it means “People of the Book”. Whether a person is any form of Jewish, any form of Christian, or any form of Muslim doesn’t matter. We are all brothers and sisters, worshipping the same God.”
“Ryan, do you know what Allah means in Arabic?” Rania interjected.
“God?” I guessed.
“Yes”, she responded, “but there’s more to it. It’s a short form of al-Ilah, which means ‘The God’. As distinguished from the previous religions with many gods. Our God is the same God as the Christian and Jewish gods, whether one calls Him Allah, God, Jehovah, or Dios. It’s the same in any language.”
“So how does this result in there being smugglers in Khasab?”
Rania punched my arm. “It’s a long-winded way of saying that in spite of our differences, we are all people, and Persians are our brothers and sisters too. The embargo hurts the ordinary people on the ground more than the government. People here see a business opportunity shipping appliances and food and stuff across the Gulf, and it’s not like there’s a lot of other money-making opportunities here. The Omani government quietly tolerates it in order to maintain good relations with Iran, and to make a profit.”
The ferry’s whistle suddenly pierced the quiet, and our conversation petered out as I shunted the car up onto the car deck. For the second time in two days, we were aboard the coastal catamaran, but unlike the trip yesterday, the ship was almost empty.
“Why is it almost empty this time?” I asked.
Khadija shrugged. “My guess is that the people yesterday were native Musandamites going home for the weekend. Thursday night is the start of the weekend, and a lot of them work in Muscat during the week. Tomorrow is still weekend, so they wouldn’t need to go back until then. Our work week is Sunday through Thursday, obviously.”
As the ship departed to three toots of the whistle and threaded the needle of the harbour entrance out into the Gulf of Oman, the wind stayed calm. Unlike the choppy seas yesterday, this time the sea was flat and easy, and the catamaran’s motion was relatively bursa merkez escort stable. The sun was still burning hot, and the gentle sea breeze was lovely on my skin.
I turned to Khadija. “How are you doing with the seasickness?”
“Much better. I think I’ll be fine with the waves so calm. I’d never been seasick before, but yesterday was pretty rough.” She faced us. “Rania said you two needed some time alone to talk. I’m going to go read inside. Come find me if you need me.”
She disappeared inside the ship as Rania and I found two chaises longues and sat on deck in the shade. The ship’s deck was empty, and the few tourists onboard were staying in the air conditioning. As we sat, I turned to her.
“We have so much to say to each other, again”, I began.
“We do”, she answered.
“How are you doing?”
“I’m really good. I think we’re safe to talk here, but we need to keep an eye out for eavesdroppers and interruptions.” She paused, thinking. “How are you?”
“I’m good too. We need to talk about the last few days.”
“Oh my God, yes we do”, she gushed. “Before we say anything else, I need you to know that I regret nothing.”
“Neither do I”, I smiled. We stared at each other, the knowledge of our past few days of hooking up passing mentally between us, and Rania shivered as she shyly smiled.
“I’m just going to start”, she said finally. “Sex is so much better than I ever dreamed it would be. My first time was so romantic, so hot, so much fun. I fulfilled a lifelong fantasy with my wonderful boyfriend and I am going to remember that moment for the rest of my life.
“I’ve been fantasizing about my first time since I was a teenager. Khadija sometimes used to say I was too much of a romantic, or that I was attaching too much meaning to putting two body parts together. But I don’t agree with her, and that night in the desert proved me right, as far as I’m concerned. It was everything I could have dreamed about — slow, romantic, comfortable. You took such good care of me and made me the happiest woman in Arabia. Even though we’ve had slow, romantic times before, it wasn’t like this. It made me feel so loved, so lucky, and so happy to have found you.
“Everything about our pairing is unlikely, and I still have to pinch myself sometimes to believe that we’re really here, on a ship on the Gulf of Oman. We’re a million miles and a million years away from that cold night in Canada when we first got together. This entire week has been a dream for me.”
I gave her a hug, which made her jump slightly before she remembered we were alone. She leaned into my embrace and sighed with pleasure.
At length we finally broke apart. “How about you?” she asked.
“You’ve heard the story of my first time before”, I began. “I’m honestly a little jealous that you got this for yours. It was the best night of my life. I’ve been fantasizing about making love with you for over a year, and I never expected it to happen. It was perfect. Even flying here, I didn’t expect to go all the way, because of your fiancé.”
“I’m sorry– “
“I’ve accepted your apology”, I continued. “I’ve forgiven you. I’m just explaining my mindset flying here to see you. I had no idea what I was getting myself into in terms of the country, the culture, or seeing you again. I was just, I don’t know, compelled to come. I needed to see you again. Even if all we did was have dinner somewhere I still think it would have been worth it. I needed closure on last year and this was how to do it. Everything else is a bonus.”
“I love you, Ryan.”
“I love you too.” I paused, staring into my girlfriend’s soul through her brown eyes. “Should we talk about the future?”
Rania’s face fell. “Tomorrow night. For now, we’ll just pretend this week is going to go on forever.”
“It’s a deal”, I said. “But I need to know one thing. You’re really okay with having lost your virginity, in case the world won’t let us be together forever?”
“I have to believe in us”, she answered. “But yes, I have given that question some thought over the past year. Virginity checks aren’t something that happens in my world, and my hymen was broken accidentally years ago anyway. But the conclusion I came to back when I thought this over is that if we stay together, then it’s obviously not a problem. If someday I wind up married to someone else, you’ve given me a model for the kind of man I want to be with. Would you care if I were a virgin?”
“Of course not.”
“The man I marry won’t either. Because if he did, I wouldn’t be marrying him. QED.” She grinned ear-to-ear.
“Funny, I have exactly the same attitude”, I observed. “We’ve talked about emotions, but how was sex physically for you?”
Rania let out a low growl. “Oh, my God. Do you know how close we got to sex all those times when we couldn’t? Do you know how much of a tease that was? Do you know how many times I replayed those scenes in my head, pretending we went all the way as bursa sınırsız escort I rubbed my clit over the past year?”
“Probably about the same amount as I jerked off”, I mused.
“I had convinced myself that sex was going to be better. I knew it had to be. But I didn’t know how much better. It was an entirely new world of pleasure. I had no idea I could fit something so big inside me, or that it would feel so good. I felt connected to you in every way, it was like our minds and emotions and hearts were joined through our privates. And the feeling of cumming with you inside me, and then having you fill me up…” She shivered at the thought of it.
“It was good, eh?”
How was it for you?” she asked.
“Unbelievable. You were so wet, so tight. You felt so good. I’m never going to forget that first moment I was inside you, I could feel you compressing and bearing down from every angle. It was so hot inside you. It was so hard not cumming right away. And, I mean, I don’t usually have that problem.”
“I’m glad you liked it.” Rania shifted, spreading her legs, and exhaled deeply.
“Are you getting turned on?” I asked.
She blushed. “I can’t help it!”
“Even after this morning? I’ve never seen you so drained after sex”, I smiled at the memory.
“Oh my God, this morning…” Rania bit her lip. “I’d never been so turned on in my life. Being naked, outdoors, with both of my lovers, having sex in the wild, feeling like I could make as much noise as I wanted. It was animalistic. I’ve never felt that out of control. It was an out of body experience, almost. Sex from behind is so good. Watching you fucking Khadija was the hottest thing, too.”
“No regrets, then?”
“None.” She paused. “You were okay with having both of us together this morning?”
“Yeah, of course, it was intensely hot”, I answered. “I trust both of you. You were both into it. I’d never had a threesome before, and I’ve kind of always wanted to, though I never expected I ever would. And you were both totally out of control. It was so hot being the centre of attention.”
“I loved watching her fuck you”, Rania said breathily. “Maybe I’ll feel jealous later, I don’t know. I feel like my brain is trying to tell me I should feel jealous. But I’m sick to death of feeling like I should feel things I’m not actually feeling. I’m trying to just be true to me, now, and this entire trip has felt right. Even our fight yesterday felt normal. Like any relationship would have. We disagree sometimes, but we still love each other.”
“How’s Khadija? Did you talk to her?” I asked.
“Yeah, a little while hiking”, she answered. “I’m pretty sure she wants to have sex with you one more time. I mean, getting to have something that you’ve been dreaming about forever and then being told you can only have it once kind of sucks. I get that. I’m feeling possessive of you, but if she asks nicely, and if you want to, I’ll probably say yes. Not one-on-one, I want to be there. I’m not letting you out of my sight again until we get to the airport. And no matter what happens, only I get to sleep with you tonight. We’ve got two rooms booked and she’s going to be sleeping in the other one. The last big thing I’ve got on my bucket list for this trip is to make love to you in a luxurious hotel room and then drift off to sleep in your arms.”
“You’re fine with that happening? I don’t care, I just need to make sure I understand the ground rules”, I said cautiously.
“You can’t do anything with her unless I’m there”, Rania answered. “If I’m there, well, we’ll see how the day goes. My heart wants you to myself. But my vagina kind of wants another threesome.”
“We’ll play it by ear, then, and no matter what happens I’m going to make sure that you’re the focus of my attention for the rest of the trip”, I answered. “If she and you both want for all of us to get together again, sure. I’m sure it would be fun. But the romantic stuff is for you and I alone.”
“What are you thinking about right now?” she asked. “You look deep in thought.”
“I’m just reflecting on how unlikely our entire story has been”, I said. “I’m thinking back to the scared, exhausted young woman that knocked on my door last year, and how awkward it was living together at first, when you wouldn’t even go shower or use the toilet without having all the Islamic clothing on for the walk between your room and the bathroom. Having you there made me feel so uncomfortable in my own apartment.”
“Sorry.” She shrugged.
“Not your fault. I can hardly believe that woman is the same person that’s sitting here with me now. I can hardly believe how different the reality of you was from the mental image that I had of you, and by extension, of all Muslim women. If you and Khadija are the way you are, then there must be more. Beneath the headscarves you’re all just people, and I really regret that it took me meeting you to realize that. It’s also sad you all have to pretend to be something you’re not.” I paused. “What are you thinking about?”
“I had been thinking about what it would be like for you to fuck me from behind against the railing over there, overlooking the sea”, Rania answered lustily. “But that’s so profound of you to say something like that, and so I’m trying to keep focused.”
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