“Nervous?” Iman asked.
Aabirah shook her head. For once, she wasn’t nervous at all. “I feel really… stable. Is that strange?”
“A little,” Iman allowed. “But then this situation is a little strange too, isn’t it?”
“Just a little,” Aabirah agreed. “I’m getting married,” she said out loud, testing the words. “I’m getting married.”
In just a little while, she would be binding herself to someone. But for once in Aabirah’s life, it didn’t feel like being tied down. It felt like being clipped into a harness. Safe, comforting even.
So much had changed, she mused.
“I just need to grab my handbag. We’re meant to leave in a few minutes, are you all ready?”
Aabirah looked up. “Yeah,” she smiled. “Thanks.”
Iman left and Aabirah took the opportunity to look around her bedroom. With all of her things packed away and waiting to be moved, it looked just as it had the day she’d arrived. She’d been so miserable that day, grieving for Qasim and uncomfortable in a strange place.
It had been so big and she’d felt like a burden. But Aabirah had grown to love it as much as she loved Iman. She would never have thought it, but leaving was oddly painful.
Iman poked her head in. “Ready to – what happened?”
Aabirah had tears running down her cheeks. “I’m really going to miss it here.”
Iman smiled indulgently. “Typical bride,” she teased.
Aabirah didn’t laugh.
“You’ll be back,” Iman assured her. “I’m not letting you go s easy.”
“It won’t be the same.” Aabirah was in no mood to be cheered up.
“Well, no,” Iman agreed. “It’ll be different. But that’s not a bad thing. You have to move forward, don’t you?”
Aabirah hated change. “I guess,” she agreed reluctantly.
“Come on,” Iman said bracingly. “It’s a happy day.” Suddenly, she grinned. “I know what’ll make you feel better.”
“I’m not going to be there all the time anymore,” Iman said slowly.
“I know,” Aabirah grumbled. “That’s why I’m sad!”
“But someone else is,” Iman went on, ignoring the interruption. “Daaem will be there,” she reminded Aabirah, who blushed.
Daaem would be there. Despite herself, Aabirah began to feel better.
“Now we’re ready to go!” Iman had seen her face brighten. “Come on, time to get married. Let’s go!”
For the second time in his life, Daaem was getting married. Thankfully, to the same woman. Once upon a time, he wouldn’t have considered marrying even once, let alone twice! But then he’d met Aabirah.
Well, technically, he’d caught sight of her in a club. He’d been anxious to date her, Daaem remembered. Had been furious when bumping into Qasim had made it seem like he was going to lose his chance to find her that night.
The man he’d been back then would have run screaming from this. He’d been so terrified of falling in love, determined to not weaken himself.
But now Daaem knew better. Now, he knew that love was no kind of weakness.
Ameer came up to him and pulled him into a bear hug. This was another thing that had changed. The first time Daaem had gotten married, the only interaction he’d had on the day with Ameer had been a lecture that had made his ears ring and his hands clench. Today, he’d been next to Daaem the entire time, wearing a grin so wide it almost looked sinister.
“You’re married,” he announced happily.
Daaem nodded. “What will you nag me about now?” he joked lightly, half-hoping the answer would be ‘nothing’.
Ameer didn’t miss a beat. “Grandchildren,” he said immediately. “Get on those.”
There was a snort from behind them and Ameer turned to greet Adam. “Isn’t it a little early for grandchildren?” the new arrival asked lightly.
“Yes,” Daaem agreed immediately. “Way too early.”
“Fine,” Ameer relented. “I’ll leave the nagging alone for a month. Consider it a wedding gift. Now come on,” he put a hand each on Daaem and Adam’s backs and urged the younger men forward. “I want to see my daughter in law!”
Daaem shook his head, laughing. “Let’s go then, we needed to leave for the courthouse in a few minutes anyway.”
He really wanted to see Aabirah too. He wanted – he wanted to see his wife.
Fifteen minutes and five signatures had made them legally married. Daaem could hardly believe it had been so easy.
Aabirah was looking around with a frown on her face. “I don’t remember doing this last time,” she told him, a little sad.
Daaem winced at the reference to the way she’d been drugged on their first wedding day. “We didn’t do this last time,” he explained. “You and I signed separately.”
“Is that legal?”
“Probably not,” Daaem admitted. “Very little about last time was legal – or moral.”
“But we fixed it,” Aabirah said, smiling.
“We did. Let’s do it better this time, okay?” Daaem joked.
His wife grinned at him. “That won’t be hard. Let’s do it right this time, okay?”
“Okay.” They’d better do it right this time, Daaem thought to himself. He wasn’t going to let go again, nor did he believe Aabirah would be willing to give him yet another chance. That one would definitely be undeserved.
He sighed and Aabirah looked up at him worriedly. “What is it?”
Daaem shook his head. “Nothing, I was just thinking. I don’t know what I would have done if you’d taken Adam’s advice.”
When she looked confused, he elaborated. “To say goodbye.”
Comprehension dawned in Aabirah’s eyes and she leaned up to kiss his cheek. “I couldn’t say goodbye. I didn’t want to let you go.”
“And now you don’t have to.”
“And now I don’t have to,” Aabirah agreed. “And neither do you.”
Not letting go sounded absolutely fantastic. He tightened his hold on Aabirah’s hand and silently thanked God.
For the first time since he’d been a child, Daaem Shaik could say he had no regrets. He had his wife back and he was surrounded by people he cared about. Life was good.