“No, I’m not moving to Dubai,” Leanne said, shoving another pair of shoes into her suitcase. “I’m halfway through my master’s program at Jerusalem University. I’m not going to just move down here.” She had been casually packing to leave the resort and was now angry.
“But my father said that he and your father had already decided.” Sam sat on the sofa in her hotel suite and explained the conversation with his family at brunch. “Think of it. We wouldn’t have to be apart and struggle with a long-distance relationship.”
“So, being in a relationship with me is a struggle?” Leanne stopped packing and folded her arms across her chest.
“That’s not what I meant.” Sam rose from the sofa and hurried across the room. He tried to pull her arms apart and wrap them around him. “It’s just that, we could be together all the time, not have to fly back and forth to see each other.”
“It’s only a four-hour flight and you have a private jet. I think you’ll be okay.” She softened a bit in his arms.
“True…” Sam couldn’t argue with her logic.
“Look, I’m sure there will come a day when we can be together.” Leanne rested her hands onto Sam’s chest and pushed him slightly away. “But now is not a good time. I need to focus on my studies.”
“You’re not breaking up with me, are you?” Sam asked, clinging to her waist, wishing he could close the distance between them but not wanting to pressure her.
“No… not really.” Her reply was not exactly the boost of confidence Sam hoped for. “I mean, I’m not actively looking for someone to replace you. I just need to get through these last few years of school before I think any further in my life than that.”
“Few years?” Sam’s voice cracked. “I thought you were halfway through your master’s degree. You’ve only got about a year left, correct?”
“I want to get a PhD.” Her matter-of-fact statement came with an implied duh.
“Why do you need a degree at all?” Sam asked. “If you marry me, you’ll be so wealthy you’ll never have to work.”
“You think I’m getting a degree so I can get a job?” She was no longer pacifying him and had shifted back to anger. What had he said wrong?
“I don’t know, maybe? Why else would someone get a degree from a university?”
“To learn knowledge.”
“You can learn without having to sit in a classroom.”
“I want that degree, okay?” She shrugged. “I want the diploma, the piece of parchment paper I can hang on my wall in a frame.”
“I’ll never understand that,” Sam admitted. “The degree just seems like a vanity metric.”
“Now you’re calling me vain?” she asked, pushing him completely away.
“No, I’m not calling you vain.” Sam tried to backpedal. “I’m just saying you don’t need the piece of paper. All you really need is the knowledge.”
“Get out of my hotel room.” Leanne pointed toward the door. “Now.” Her quiet firmness was more frightening than if she’d yelled at him.
“Leanne, don’t do this.” Sam reached to pull her back into his arms.
She pushed him away more forcefully. “I said, get out of my hotel room. Now.”
“Okay, okay.” Sam held up his hands. “I’m going.”
He walked to the door to her hotel suite but turned around before leaving.
“When can I see you again?”
“How about never?” She lifted her chin.
“That doesn’t work for me,” Sam said. “I need to see you sooner than never.”
“Come to my graduation ceremony to watch me get my PhD and maybe I’ll talk to you then.”
“I’ll take it.” Sam brazenly crossed the room again, pulled Leanne into his arms, and kissed her soundly for several long moments, long enough for her to surrender to his embrace, then he released her and stepped away. “See you after graduation.”