Well, here we are at the start of a new story. This is my Nanowrimo project and I have the distinct feeling it’s going to be long. These characters are not the most likeable – Daaem in particular has a ton of growing up left to do and Aabirah is no angel. They’re flawed and confused and they’re in need of some change. So much so that even the title means change. I hope you enjoy this one and I hope you huff and cringe right along with me at the antics of these two.
When I was little, I always dreamed about the day my Prince would come and sweep me off my feet, rescuing me and taking me away to his palace.
Well, a Prince did come. There’s just one problem. He’s a demon prince and I hate his guts.
Aabirah sighed and out down her pen. She’d always loved the idea of journalling. Something about recording the feelings she’d felt at any one time and having them easily accessible to turn back to had always been appealing.
But she’d never actually put pen to paper. For in writing, she would have been honest. And she would have had to acknowledge a simple but painful truth – her life was less fairy tale and more horror story.
The latest chapter in her life had begun almost a year ago. She’d been married – to a demon prince, no less – and had been swept away just like she’d always wanted as a child. But instead of the carriage ride with swelling music she’d expected, she’d been subjected to the indignity of being sedated and carted off by an almost complete stranger who had, for God knows what reason, taken a liking to her.
She turned back to the little notebook and wrote one final line.
And he hates me almost as much as I hate him.
He did, too. Daaem hadn’t spoken to her in a month, hadn’t spoken to her in six. She assumed he’d grown tired of his frigid wife and, distantly, it pleased her.
She knew that he wouldn’t divorce her – he would see it as a loss. Instead, he’d keep her in this lonely house until the day she died. Just the thought of being caged that way made her feel like the walls were closing in and she gasped for breath.
‘I will get my freedom back,’ she vowed silently. ‘I have to.’
Daaem Shaik was bored. He’d been in this club for fifteen minutes and nothing about it had impressed him. He was about to get up and start making his own entertainment when something caught his eye.
Long hair, a graceful neck and a tiny waist. Daaem began to grin. Yes, she would do nicely. He got up and made his way through the crowd, shaking off the hands that tried to draw him in. He wanted her.
It was not to be.
A giggling brunette threw herself into his arms, egged on by her two equally drunk friends. “Daaem!” she squealed, tottering on her stilettos. “Do you remember me?”
Daaem gave her a cursory glance. “Should I?” he asked coolly.
The girl gasped and her large, overly made up eyes began to glisten with tears. “I’m Anna,” she said uncertainly. “We met on Thursday. We… y’know.” She trailed off, looking significantly at him. “Don’t you remember me?”
Daaem groaned internally. Another woman who couldn’t take a hint. He stepped back, disentangling the woman – Anna – from his jacket. “Not in the least.”
That did it. Thirty seconds later, Daaem was on the move again, hunting for long black hair and a tiny frame.
An arm flung itself around his shoulders and he growled, shrugging it off. She was getting away!
He swung around, ready to punch the idiot who was keeping him from what he wanted and came face to face with one of his oldest friends. “Qasim? What are you doing here?”
Qasim and Daaem had first met when they were toddlers. Their families had run in the same social circles their entire lives and the two boys had been forced into play dates together while their mothers gossiped since they were tiny.
But Qasim wouldn’t have been caught dead at a club. Or so Daaem had thought.
“I could ask you the same thing, Daaem. Didn’t your father lay down the law?”
Daaem’s jaw clenched. “Don’t start getting all religious on me,” he said irritably, turning away.
“Daaem, wait!” Qasim called.
Daaem ignored him, scanning the crowd and pushing his way forward.
“Wait!” Qasim grabbed his arm.
“What?!” Daaem snapped.
Qasim sighed. “I’m sorry, okay? Truce? I’ve missed you.”
“Yeah, okay, fine.” Daaem agreed absently. Anything to get away already. He’d lost sight of her again.
“Really?” Qasim sounded delighted. “That’s – hey!” He grabbed hold of Daaem again.
Daaem’s temper spiked. “Let go!” he instructed coldly.
Qasim held up his hands in defence. “Alright,” he soothed. “Sorry, I forgot. But what’s gotten in to you? You’re never this agreeable.”
“I’m looking for someone,” Daaem said shortly, turning in a circle.
Finally, he spotted her. She was coming this way, he realized suddenly.
Aabirah was miserable. She’d begged and sulked and finally outright threatened until she’d gotten what she wanted. And now she was realizing that she’d have been better off staying home.
At the ripe old age of twenty one, she was the only one in her circle who’d never been to a club, something that was becoming more embarrassing as the days went by.
Finally, she’d decided to take action, cornering her older brother and cajoling him into helping her with her scheme. Qasim had been ridiculously reluctant – her older brother thought clubs were the devil’s work – but he’d relented when she’d threatened to sneak out and go by herself if he didn’t take her.
He was going to be insufferable, she thought ruefully. He always was when he was proved right about something. But the crowing would be worth getting to go home already.
The loud music was making her head hurt and the crush of people made her claustrophobia flair up.
It was definitely time to go home.
Aabirah circled the room, trying to find her tall brother but, short as she was, it was hard to make anything out in the crush of bodies.
Finally, she spied him and hurried over, more than ready to listen to the lecture if she could only get out.
He wasn’t alone, she realized finally. He had an arm around someone and, as she watched, he let go and stepped back.
Aabirah looked curiously at the stranger. Who on Earth did Qasim know who would be in a club? Her brother would never associate with such a person. Well, besides Aabirah herself, that was.
He was even taller than Qasim. And, she realized a second later with a jolt, he was looking straight back at her! Aabirah jerked her eyes to the floor, feeling her face flood with heat.
She had never felt this shy about a man before but something about Qasim’s stranger was putting her on edge.