Fiction: Hidden Blessings Chapter Sixteen

*Yawns* Stick a pin in me, I’m done. Enjoy and let me know what you think ❤

Chapter Sixteen

Taahir watched as Faiza fell back onto their bed with a bounce. He frowned, biting back an admonishment about overworking. He knew that Faiza was ecstatic to have gotten her book out there. He was ecstatic right alongside her. But he’d seen the toll the long hours was taking on her and he didn’t know how much longer he could keep himself from ranting about it.

He’d reminded himself more than once that things would get better once she graduated. But now, with the launch, she was busier than ever and Taahir was terrified that she wouldn’t stop.

He grabbed the blanket that sat at the end of their bed and gently laid it over an already snoring Faiza, detouring to kiss her forehead lightly. “Love you,” he whispered.

Something needs to give,’ he thought worriedly. ‘It’s barely seven and she’s knocked out.’

He flopped down on the couch and grabbed his book. Fifteen minutes later, he tossed it aside. He was too keyed up to read – he’d read the same page a dozen times and still couldn’t remember a word of it.

He wanted to bring it up with Faiza, wanted to beg her to take a time out and breathe. But deep inside, he knew that his motives weren’t as pure as he’d like to pretend. He was worried about Faiza and he did think she needed to slow down. But a lot of his frustration was selfish. He missed his wife! He wanted her back, wanted her attention on him.

Shame made his cheeks burn at the very thought and he hung his head. He hated selfish people. He’d been taken advantage of by a woman so selfish, he’d never again met her like. And now, he was doing the same things she had.

Taskiya had cajoled and nagged him into things he wasn’t comfortable with. And now he wanted to do the same to Faiza. The true horror of the comparison hit him and bile rose in his throat. He bolted for the toilet, sinking to his knees and emptying his stomach violently.

Ya Allah, no,’ he moaned silently. ‘Please no! Don’t make me like her. I can’t be like her. I just can’t!’

Faiza woke up tangled in blankets. She struggled for a moment before finally freeing herself and automatically looked for Taahir to cajole him awake for Fajr. Her searching hands found nothing and she sat up in confusion.

He’s not in the bathroom… And it’s definitely Fajr time, the Adhan woke me. Where is he?’

Faiza stumbled out of bed still yawning and went in search of her missing husband. She found him curled up on their couch, hugging a throw pillow to his chest and twitching lightly.

Taahir,” she whispered, shaking him gently. “Wake up.”

Taahir jerked and stared up at her. “What’s wrong?” he demanded immediately.

Nothing,” Faiza said soothingly. “It’s just time for Fajr.”

She laid a hand on his arm, looking worriedly down at him, “Did you have a bad dream?”

Taahir looked confused.

You’re shaking,” Faiza pointed out softly. “Are you alright?”

Taahir nodded stiffly. “Fine,” he said shortly, getting up and walking to the bathroom without another word.

Faiza sighed, watching him go. It wasn’t unusual for Taahir to have nightmares once in a while and he often kept the specifics of them from her. But he’d rarely left her completely in the dark about them. She’d realized after a while that he kept silent only when whatever was upsetting him had to do with his horror of a relationship.

Why does she still have a hold over you?’ she thought frustratedly. ‘It’s been over five years! How can she still turn you into a mess like this?’

Taskiya danced around her bedroom, so delighted she was unable to sit still. She’d met Faiza!

She still didn’t know what had drawn Taahir to such a plain woman – even if she cooked divine food. But, she’d managed to talk to Faiza for more than a few minutes and the naive young woman had happily handed over her cellphone number.

Things were going perfectly! Soon, Faiza would trust her – confide in her even, maybe. And then, then she could figure out how to free Taahir.

A slow smile curved over her full lips and she thought over the few tidbits Faiza had let slip over the course of the day.

Taskiya now knew that Taahir was allergic to nuts and hated jam. She’d also been told that he liked sweets – something that she doubted since the Taahir she’d known had hated them. He probably just pretended to like them for Faiza. He’d always been stupidly compassionate like that.

Taahir hadn’t been at the event itself but he’d arrived to pick up Faiza and simply by waiting in her car for a while, Taskiya had managed to catch a glimpse of him.

It had been like a shot. He’d grown even more handsome in the past few years and it made something electric run through her to see it.

Taskiya closed her eyes and pictured him again. Dishevelled hair and high cheekbones appeared in her mind’s eye along with a dimpled smile that had always made her want to kiss it.

Taahir, Taahir, Taahir. I want you back already. I don’t know if I’ll be able to wait until your wife’s out of the picture. Maybe I’ll shove her out instead of threatening her…’

Taskiya giggled to herself, imagining ways of getting rid of Faiza. She shook them off in the end, deciding to stick to her original plan. After all, murder was messy and complicated. Blackmail was much more her style.

She picked up her cellphone and began the process of crafting the perfect text to be sent to Faiza. Everything had to be planned perfectly. Taskiya refused to accept failure in this instance. She wanted Taahir and she would get him – one way or another.

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