Chapter One: A Matter of Time
Growing up, Haya’s mother always told her that time was precious and to make every second count. On her 30th birthday, her mother presented her with an elegant Bvlgari ‘Serpenti Seduttori’ watch in rose gold. It instantly became her most treasured possession, and she never goes anywhere without it.
Sometimes, she stares at its gleaming drop-shaped face and considers how every tick of the hand signifies the progress her life has made until that point. At 31, she has just secured the second-in-command position at the Middle East’s biggest luxury holding company, she is the silent partner of her best friend’s groundbreaking art space in DIFC, and she’s currently training for the Dubai Marathon. No matter what her always-busy days look like, a glance at her watch reminds her to appreciate the moment – even if said moment presents challenges.
On her way into the office on a Sunday, Haya is distracted by her phone as she enters the elevator, causing her to run directly into the most handsome man she has ever seen. She apologizes profusely, silently thanking the universe that she hasn’t spilled her coffee all over his impeccably tailored suit. With a chuckle, he says, “No worries, it happens to the best of us.” Relieved, she laughs before shyly turning her attention back to her phone.
“By the way,” he interrupts, “Do you have the time?” Haya glances down at her wrist, and his attention follows. The gleaming rose gold of her Bvlgari ‘Serpenti Seduttori’ watch is hard to miss. “It’s 8:58,” she reports, ducking out of the elevator as the doors open on her floor – and blushing with a grin on her face while she’s at it.
Chapter Two: Time Waits for No (Wo)Man
Haya thinks of her little run-in with the mysterious elevator man a few times over the following week, but she has forgotten all about it by the weekend – her attention is fully focused on the Dubai Marathon happening on Friday. She has been training for the past year and managed to bring her time down to under three hours. But Haya is still nervous about the run because she is a highly competitive person who hates losing, even when she’s playing Monopoly. It also happens to be her first ever marathon.
For her, the race isn’t about money, but pride. Haya was injured in a car accident when she was 21 years old, undergoing a painful recovery to rehabilitate her hip. Training to run a marathon means proving to herself that she has fully overcome both the physical and emotional trauma from the accident. On Friday morning, fueled on a breakfast of healthy carbs and a green smoothie, she straps on her favorite running shoes and heads to the registration table. A voice from behind her murmurs, “Hey, do you happen to have the time?”
As always, Haya is wearing her trusty Bulgari ‘Serpenti Seduttori’ watch. Her friends have commented that it might be too fancy to wear during a sweaty marathon, but it is her good luck charm, and she isn’t going to take it off for anything – or anyone. It has served as a beautiful reminder to appreciate life’s moments, both big and small, every day since her 30th birthday. And on such a big day, she isn’t going to risk being without that reminder. She turns towards the voice that asked for the time and is shocked to see the man from the elevator, kitted out this time in running gear instead of a sharp suit.
“It’s you!” she exclaims before catching herself and stammering, “Uh, yes, it’s 6:50, the race should be starting any minute.” “Thanks! Break a leg out there,” he says with a wink before trotting off to a nearby corner to stretch. Flustered by the surprise (but not entirely unwelcome) intrusion, Haya takes some calming breaths and visualizes herself crossing the finish line. Two and a half hours later, nearly to the second, she does just that. She places eighth overall in the women’s division, clocking in at 2 hours, 25 minutes, 48 seconds. To Haya – especially after the injury, her recovery, and an intense training process – it feels as good as gold.
Chapter Three: Better Late Than Never
Several months have gone by since Haya’s triumph at Dubai Marathon, and things are moving quickly. The luxury holding company she works for is expanding its portfolio by signing new brands – practically on a weekly basis. Her younger sister Alia has met and fallen in love with Tarek, an amazing guy who the whole family approves of. In fact, they met at the DIFC art gallery for which Haya is a silent partner.
She is proud that her passion for art has resulted in the two lovebirds meeting. Her sister Alia and Tarek are now engaged, and Haya feels a tiny bit responsible for it. The two families are gathering tonight to celebrate Alia and Tarek’s engagement. Haya is ecstatic for her sister.
Alia has always had a good head on her shoulders, Haya thinks as she quickly rushes to the engagement party at Madinat Jumeirah. She is running late. “Maybe it’s a little intentional,” she thinks to herself with a tight smile. At 31, she has heard more than a few comments about her status as a single girl, but she doesn’t mind. Okay, maybe she minds a little.
Haya enters the party in the nick of time. She quietly apologizes to her family as she squeezes into her spot at the table, just as the toasts are starting. One by one, members of both families speak words of love and encouragement to the young couple, blessing their upcoming union. Over at Tarek’s table, a man stands up and introduces himself as Tarek’s brother, Khalid. Haya’s pulse quickens when she realizes it’s her mystery man – and she finally knows his name!
“I don’t even have words to describe how thrilled I am for my baby brother,” says Khalid, addressing the room with a warm smile. “We’ve been inseparable ever since we were kids and when Alia came along, I knew she was the one for him. I probably knew they were going to get married before Tarek did!” Everyone in the room chuckles at the idea. Khalid notices Haya in the crowd before sitting back down. He raises an eyebrow at her, as if to say, “Really?”
After the toasts are over, everyone in the room mixes and mingles together. Family is introduced to family, and the chatter of small talk fills the air. Haya is standing with Alia when she notices Khalid making his way over to her. She squeezes Alia’s arm and quietly says, “Remember that mysterious elevator guy I told you about? He’s here.” Her sister’s eyes widen in recognition as she follows Haya’s gaze to Khalid’s approaching figure. When he reaches Haya, he glances down at her Bvlgari watch.
“Let me guess,” she jokes. “You want to know the time?”
Chapter Four: It’s About Time
After Haya (finally) met Tarek’s brother, Khalid – her mystery man from the elevator and Dubai Marathon – they start dating. A year later, right after her younger sister’s wedding, Khalid asks Haya to marry him. Although she has always joked that she is married to her career, Khalid turns out to be exactly the kind of intelligent, kind, creative man she pictured herself with. She doesn’t hesitate to say, “Yes!”
Naturally, her family is overjoyed to be celebrating another marriage so quickly. On the eve of Haya’s wedding, her mother takes her aside. “My beloved daughter, one of the biggest and best days of your life is tomorrow,” she says. “It will go by so quickly that it will feel like a blur. Make sure to notice the little things, take time to be present.” And as her mother talks, Haya glances down at her Bvlgari watch, promising herself that she would savor every beautiful moment.
Like her mother predicts, Haya and Khalid’s wedding is the best day of their lives. It is so romantic and so filled with love that the couple feels like they’re glowing from within. When they land in Rome for their honeymoon, Haya turns to Khalid and confesses, “I wish I could freeze time and stay in this moment forever.”
Later in the week, Khalid tells his new bride that he has a surprise for her and takes her to the top of Castel Sant’Angelo, timing it just right so that they catch the golden hour. As the sun descends on the most breathtaking city view that Haya has ever seen, Khalid sets something down in front of her. She glances at it. It is a Bvlgari box. She can’t help but break into a grin. “Is this what I think it is?” she asks.
“You’ve already given me the ultimate gift by becoming my wife,” Khalid says, “so I thought I would get you something that tells you how much you mean to me in return.” With trembling hands, Haya opens the box. Nestled inside is a glittering white-diamond version of her beloved ‘Serpenti Seduttori’ watch. “Oh, husband,” says Haya, savoring the way the word “husband” sounds. “You know me so well, but maybe I should’ve gotten you a watch instead.”
Surprised, he says, “Why, my love?”
“Because you never seem to know what time it is,” she says, recalling what he asked her when they first met on the elevator all those months ago. Together, they laugh until the sun sets.