Get ready to embark on an extraordinary voyage infused with romance, adventure, and captivating narratives. We are delighted to present to you a compilation of stories that will transport you to enchanting destinations, immersing you in the realm of love and travel.


Within this series, you will discover the crème de la crème, the finest works from the Love Lust or Bust Dating and Travel short story contest.


Each week we bring you a different story from the entries of the Love Lust or Bust Travel & Dating short story contest; some are full of passion and romance, and others are tales of heartbreak and regret. We hope you love every story as we do.


These remarkable tales have been meticulously chosen from a pool of gifted writers who poured their passion and creativity into crafting narratives that whisk you away to far-flung corners of the globe.


As you delve into this collection, you will encounter vibrant characters, diverse cultures, and awe-inspiring landscapes that form the backdrop for unforgettable love stories. Each narrative possesses its oistinctive allure, providing profound insights into the intricacies of dating in unfamiliar territories, the exhilaration of spontaneous encounters, and the transformative magic of travel.


Join us in celebrating the literary brilliance of the top 20 winners of the contest. Allow their words to sweep you off your feet and transport you to a realm where love and adventure intertwine in the most exquisite and profound ways. Prepare yourself for a literary expedition that will linger in your heart and mind, and hopefully will inspire you to be open and courageous to go on your oourney.


Today, we are thrilled to bring you this intriguing story. Enjoy, and please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.





By Antoinette Asmae Jarrar Oulidi






Our Story




It started back in October of 2005, I was working in Buffalo, NY at a local corner shop called “Wilson Farms” (now a 7-11) as a manager. 


Abdelfattah came in with a group of people to buy sandwiches and soda, my back was turned stocking the shelves behind the cash register and I heard this very thick French accent, yet not French but d strong accent.  I immediately turned around and our eyes locked. 


I seriously felt my face get red from being shy, yet I was NOT shy, but OMG, there stood this very handsome, debonair man, all I could do was stutter “May I help you”. 


I swear, it was like LOVE at first sight.  He asked me my name, and where I was from originally, yadda ya, I’m like yea, a true pickup line, hahaha. 


I played into it, I gave him all my information, address, phone number, etc.  I’m like, this guy will never call or talk to me, I’m a few years older, and divorced, definitely not born yesterday. 


But, to my surprise, he did indeed contact me.  We managed to communicate through Yahoo and at the time emails, calling cards, etc.  I found out he was in America for a job interview and was there only a day with other candidates. 


He went back to Morocco the next day.  I was very sure I would never hear from him again, um nope.  We talked to each other exclusively for the next year every moment we could, day and night.  We sent each other letters through the post of gifts, postcards, pictures, and everything from each other’s country to show how much we loved each other. 


Within 6 months Abdelfattah proposed to me and I immediately said yes.  We decided to do the 90-day fiancé thing and I filled out the paperwork to get things started.  I had a beautiful huge 3-bedroom house I was renting, a good job, and everything for us to begin our lives together. 


My 2 older children were very supportive and excited about the venture in their mother’s life.  I had been divorced for several years from a very domestically violent marriage and my children wanted to see me stable and happy. 


By July 2006, I had petitioned for Abdelfattah to come to America. I had reservations at the courthouse for our marriage license and marriage, I had the honeymoon suite set up in Niagara Falls which is only minutes from where I lived, and everything was prepared for Abdelfattah to come. 


The day I went to the airport in Buffalo to meet my fiancé, I had made a sign that said “Welcome to America” made, I was early at the airport, and my sweetie had let me know that he had indeed gotten on the plane and was heading to JFK to go through customs, then catch a flight to Buffalo. 


Yay, I was there waiting with the sign and for him to come through.  However, when the flight arrived, he did not get off.  I waited with high hopes and excitement, but still, he never came through the gates.  1 hour turned to 2, and 2 turned to 3. 


Finally, I went to an agent to find out if Abdelfattah had gotten on the flight, um,  they would NOT give me any information because I wasn’t an immediate relative, so there I was stuck with NO information.  I finally got someone at the airport to contact JFK and customs and was able to talk to Abdelfattah who was still there. 


OMG, I didn’t expect to happen what happened, but apparently, we had filled out one paper wrong and they would not let him enter the United States and were deporting him back to Morocco within the next hour.  I couldn’t even drive to JFK quickly enough because it was 7 hours away from Buffalo. 


They deported him before I could even see him.   I was devastated to say the very least.  My job had given me a surprise wedding celebration the day before, money for our honeymoon, gift cards, etc.  This was so upsetting and mortifying. 


I couldn’t do anything except cry and cry because I didn’t know what else to do. Abdelfattah ended up back in Morocco and I was here in Buffalo trying to figure out what to do next.  


I had to cancel everything for our wedding, go back to work to face the embarrassment of my colleagues, and try to figure out what to do next. 


There’s no way I can say how hard this was for both of us.  We tried to move forward and figure everything out, but something else got in the way, “MY HEALTH”.  


I was beginning to lose control of my muscles and motor skills without even knowing what was happening to my body.  This was now towards the end of 2007. 


Of course, I didn’t want to worry Abdelfattah about this because we were already trying to figure out how we can get together and start our lives, also little did I know that his parents were arranging for him to marry someone local because of his age and circumstances in Morocco. 


He never told me because he didn’t want to hurt me.  Both of us were keeping secrets, yet trying to be with each other and that is the most difficult thing to go through.  


I had sent him so many emails with handwritten songs from artists like Lionel Richie, Back Street Boys, Air Supply, and so on. 


Every romantic song that I could send him, I did, He saved every single email, video clip, song, picture, gift that I ever sent him over the years.   We tried to keep each other supported, trying to figure out how to be with each other and yet not knowing how. 


Fast forward to the end of 2008.  We have now been talking for 3 years, communicating, emailing, letters, pictures, gifts, etc, and still, we were no closer to being with each other than before.  My health began to deteriorate, my hands started to stop working, my legs too. 


I was falling all the time, my hands couldn’t grip anything, my eyesight was going, and my hearing was too.  In December of 2008, my daughter wrote a letter to Abdelfattah and told him that I had died and please do not contact our family again. 


I DID NOT KNOW she had done that until many many years later.  

All I know is that I never heard from Abdelfattah again.  I was in and out of clinics and hospitals until finally, they found out I had a very rare brain disease called Chiari malformation with Syringamelia that required emergency brain surgery. 


My daughter thought it best to not let the relationship between Abdelfattah and me continue because of my health.  I ended up having emergency brain surgery in March of 2009 and went through years of rehabilitation learning how to walk, talk, and use my body once again. 


Abdelfattah NEVER knew what I had been through or was going through.  My daughter had told me that he got married to someone in Morocco and that I needed to focus on getting better for myself.  I was heartbroken, I cried for months and months over this. 


Eventually, I was able to get my health back in check and went through a great healing process.  I had wondered over the years what had happened to Abdelfattah, but I never once tried to contact him because I knew he was married now and was probably raising his own family, which he deserved to do. 


I never dated again or tried to be with anyone else because truly, Abdelfattah was truly my love and heart.  I knew I couldn’t find anyone else like him, nor did I want to.  So, I focused on getting better every day for my children and grandchildren. 


A month turned into another month and then year to year.  I ended up losing my father, and my grandparents during this tperiod had 7 grandchildren, and started very slowly trying to work again. 


Fast forward to 2016, a few months after losing my father, I started praying.  I fell on my face and told God, IF you want me to be with someone or married again, then YOU have to be the one to bring him because I am NEVER looking for anyone again. 


Within a day of that prayer, I was texting my daughter, and a POP-UP from LinkedIn appeared on my phone asking me “DO YOU KNOW THIS PERSON”, and lo and behold, there was my Abdelfattah. 

OMG, I hadn’t looked for him, or seen him since 2008. 


I fell on the floor in my best friend’s house and started shaking and crying.  She immediately came over and asked what was wrong, and with shaky hands I handed her the phone and there was Abdelfattah’s profile and his contact information. 


She asked me “What are you going to do”, I’m like, “What do I do”???   I eventually emailed him “HI”,  that was all I could do.   Within literally 1 minute he answered and asked for my phone number because he thought it was a joke or someone else behaving as “ME”.  


I gave him the information and he called me immediately.   He was in shock, I was in shock, and we both cried.   He had thought I had died because my daughter told him that I had, however, I didn’t know that, so in retrospect, I had created a LinkedIn account to find work, and he found it. 


‘The man NEVER stopped looking for me, NOT EVER.  Come to find out, he did get into an arranged marriage (NO CHILDREN), and he had just filed for a divorce a few weeks before he saw me on LinkedIn.  He had been praying the same prayer I was praying about finding love and a true partner in life. 


Well, We talked for hours online, crying, crying, talking, catching up, me telling him of the health problems I had in the past, him telling me about thinking I was dead because my daughter had told him so.  He was so shocked when he saw my profile on LinkedIn because he thought it was a scam. 


He thought I had died!!! He explained everything to me, I explained everything to him, and WOW. We never thought we would find each other again, let alone have a second chance with each other. This time we did everything differently.   I went to Morocco several times to see him, meet his family, have our engagement party, and travel all over. We planned our wedding, his father gave me away, also signed our marriage contract, and was a big part of our day.  This family has known about me for nearly 20 years and was so excited for us to finally be together, as well as my family was.  We had finally found each other, after all these years we got married and filed our VISA petition together for him to come to the USA. 


I moved to Morocco to be with him during the waiting process for his VISA. The very day he got his VISA approved, Covid broke out and Morocco shut their borders both coming and going.  We made it a honeymoon period and enjoyed every single moment of this time. 


Once the borders started opening, we refiled the VISA because it had expired during Covid, and we were able to finally fly home to America together. 


Here we are today, living in Niagara Falls since 2020, He has an amazing job, and we are planning to retire full-time in Morocco in the next few years but so happy we are living our life together.  We have traveled all over the US together as well as Morocco.  We have been inseparable.  It took us years to find each other a second time, and we take full advantage of this great gift of a 2nd chance in love and life.  


He is an amazing grandfather, stepfather, husband, and best friend.  I will never regret one moment.  2005-2023.  By the way, Abdelfattah had saved every single email, letter with perfume, gift, pictures, and video I had ever sent him since 2005. 


Even when we weren’t together from 2008-2016, he saved it ALL. I was so blessed he had because I had done the same thing. 

Everything I had ever written in a notebook, paper, etc, I had kept over the years. 


Even the lyrics to “Hello” from Lionel Richie, and, “Show me the meaning of being lonely” from the Backstreet Boys. 

I brought this notebook with me when we met up in Morocco. We were able to see Lionel Richie in concert this past year in Niagara Falls. 

This was definitely a circle closing for us. On April 27, 2021, we lost my dear father-in-law to cancer during Ramadan. 


I’m so grateful I knew him before he passed. He is the one who gave me my new name when I made Shahadah and converted to Islam, also giving me the family last name calling me “HIS DAUGHTER” not “DAUGHTER IN LAW”.

This is our story. If you are going through a difficult journey to be together, never give up hope. 

Are you in a long-distance relationship? How did you meet your partner? Please share your story with us below!







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