Chapter Twenty Eight
In which Daaem needs a LARGE smack with a frying pan.
“Where did I fit into these plans?” Aabirah asked, already knowing the answer. Qasim had told her as much the last time they’d spoken.
Jake shrugged, confirming her suspicions. “You were never part of their plans. It was always just the two of them. And now that your father’s in jail, it’s just Qasim. He followed their plan and he’s gotten out. But your father is still around and all these nasty people he’s been involved with want their money back. And they’re willing to use you to get to him.”
“My father won’t lift a finger to help me,” Aabirah said bluntly.
“No,” Jake agreed. “He won’t.”
“So what? I’m supposed to be afraid of being attacked until the day I die?” Aabirah’s voice wobbled dangerously.
Jake winced. “Can you not turn on the waterworks please? Crying makes me uncomfortable.”
“Imagine how it makes the crying person feel,” Aabirah snapped, annoyed. “How long is this going to go on?”
“It should blow over eventually. Your father’s assets have been seized and he’s definitely going to jail. After a while, it will no longer be worth the hassle to keep trying to find you. You just need to lay low for a while and hope that you become forgettable.”
Aabirah had never heard a worse plan in her life. “So we just wait and see?” she summed up.
Jake shrugged again. “Pretty much.”
“Can’t we tell these people that my father won’t care? If something happens to me, it won’t make him pay them anything?”
Jake smiled pityingly. “That’s not really how it works. And besides, everyone says that. It’s usually not true.”
“It is in this case!” Aabirah cried.
“Yeah, your dad’s a piece of work. But trust me, your best option is to just stay here and hide behind your husband’s security. It’s pretty decent.”
“There’s nothing else we can do?” Aabirah asked, desperate. She couldn’t bear the thought of living in constant fear for years.
“Well, you could pay them back. But it’s a lot of money.”
“Like a few million dollars.”
Aabirah’s hopes sank. There was no way she could get that kind of money together.
“Daaem paid my father five million dollars when he married me. Why didn’t he just use that to pay these debts?”
Jake looked uncomfortable. “That money was a large part of what he was using to leave.”
“Oh. So that’s why they did it.”
It should have made her feel better to know that there had been some sort of need motivating her father’s actions. But it didn’t. Aabirah just felt numb.
“Do you have any other questions?” Jake asked after a few minutes. “Because if not then I should go.” He made to get up.
“How do I contact you?”
“Here.” He handed her a piece of paper. “This is my number.”
Aabirah watched him disappear into the forest.
That evening Aabirah paced outside Daaem’s room for ten minutes, debating whether or not to knock. Shed wanted to talk to him about everything for a while now but he’d never been around. She’d only seen him the once since he’d come back to the estate and he’d run from her that day.
He very clearly didn’t want to talk to her. But she had no choice – she needed to tell him what was going on. There was absolutely no way she could pull things off without his help and, much as she hated to admit it, she wanted someone to comfort her.
She was completely out of her depth and terrified. She needed help. She needed Daaem’s help.
Finally, she bit the bullet and knocked.
There was no answer. Aabirah knocked harder, her resolve now solidified. She was not going to move without talking to Daaem, even if she had to annoy him into opening the door.
Just as Aabirah was about to give up, hands sore from pounding repeatedly on the door, it opened.
Daaem stood framed in the doorway, his face pinched. “What?!” he barked.
“I need to talk to you. It’s urgent. Can I come inside?” Aabirah took a step forward.
Daaem didn’t budge. “No. What do you want?”
“Daaem, it’s complicated. Just let me in and we can talk.” Again, Aabirah moved forward.
Daaem stood firm. “No. Tell me now or go.”
“Fine. My father owes money to some people. You know what he was arrested for. Well, apparently he stole from some criminals and they want their money back.”
Aabirah glanced at Daaem, searching for a reaction.
Nothing. His face was blank.
“Qasim called me the day he was arrested and told me that I was in danger. He said he was sending me a guard and that there was nothing more he could do to help. I met the guy he sent today.”
Still no reaction.
“Daaem, could you please say something?” Aabirah asked anxiously.
“What do you want me to do?” Daaem asked monotonously.
“I – I want your help,” Aabirah said, starting to get frustrated. “Can you hire this guy? As a personal guard for me?”
“No,” Aabirah said. “Well, I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
“You want me to hire you a bodyguard because you’re afraid for your safety?”
“Yes,” Aabirah agreed. She looked up at Daaem hopefully. “Will you do it?”
“No.” Daaem swung the door closed.
Aabirah stood rooted to the spot in shock.
“Daaem!” She banged on the door. “Open the door!”
Daaem yanked the door open. “Are you deaf? I said no!”
“I – why? This isn’t a joke, Daaem. I’m scared! The second I leave the estate, something could happen to me.”
“I don’t care,” Daaem said flatly. “If something was going to happen to you, it would have happened already.”
“I haven’t gone outside in a month! There was no way for something to happen to me.”
“Well, there you go.” Daaem smiled nastily. “Stay inside and you’ll be fine! I should send these guys a thank you note for helping keep you here.”