Fiction: The Art of Mutual Destruction Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty

What are you doing?”

Iman jumped, letting out a shout. She spun around, her hand pressed against her chest. “You scared me!”

Adam stood in the doorway, his arms crossed against his chest. “What are you doing?” he repeated icily. His eyes were hard.

Your couch is terrible,” Iman stalled.

What does that have to do with you being in my office?”

I couldn’t sleep.” Iman glanced at Adam out of the corner of her eye. His face was impassive. “I got bored.”

Adam said nothing.

Iman squirmed uncomfortably and started to babble. “I’m sorry, I know it’s an invasion of privacy. I was just really bored. I didn’t touch anything! I was just looking.”

Still nothing.

I – I’ll leave. Sorry.”

Wait!” Adam grabbed her arm.

What?” Iman looked up.

You didn’t read anything?”

Iman shook her head vigorously. “No, I was just looking.”

Adam frowned harder. “Looking at what?”

The rooms? I was really bored.” Iman bit her lip. “I know, it’s kind of rude. I’m sorry,” she added hopefully.

That’s it?” Adam checked.

Yeah,” Iman confirmed nervously. He still had hold of her arm.

Don’t do it again,” he said simply. “If you’re bored, go somewhere else.”

Okay,” Iman agreed immediately.

He let go of her. “You’re sure you didn’t read anything?”

I’m sure!”

If you did-” Adam took hold of her shoulders and looked seriously at her.

I didn’t!”

If you did,” Adam repeated, as though she hadn’t spoken, “keep whatever it is to yourself. Do you understand me? Don’t tell anyone. Not even your grandfather.”

O-okay,” Iman said shakily. “I won’t tell anyone. I promise.”

He let go of her. “Okay. Don’t come in here again.”

I won’t.” Her voice wobbled. Iman pressed her lips together.

Adam sighed. “Don’t cry.”

Easier said than done. Iman nodded silently and slipped past Adam. She heard him swear loudly behind her and her shoulders hunched involuntarily at the violent sound.

She’d been in his office. Adam resisted the urge to swear again. He didn’t want to make her cry harder. What the hell had she been doing in his office?

He dropped into his desk chair and buried his face in his hands. He wasn’t angry at her, not really. He was angry at himself. He couldn’t believe he’d left the door unlocked. He knew better.

It was one thing when he was being sloppy with his own life. But the information in his files, on his laptop… it was important to other people. Being careless with it put them at risk.

He’d thought he’d left that kind of stupidity behind when he was fifteen. It was jarring to know that he hadn’t.

Well, what are you going to do about it, brat?’ Ali’s voice rang in his ears. It was the same thing he’d asked Adam upon hearing of the disaster Adam’s first job had been.

Adam had fixed it then. And he’d fix it now too.

He got to his feet and began to gather up files. Fifteen minutes later, he was done. His office was spotless. Everything had been locked away, from the smallest scrap of paper to the thickest file.


The tension that had been knotting his shoulders since he’d discovered Iman in his office finally began to drain.


He’d scared her again. Had made her cry, if he wasn’t mistaken.

She’d been in the wrong. She shouldn’t have come into his office.

He wanted to apologize to her anyway. The thought of her crying – because of him, because of something he’d done – sat ill with him. Besides, her grandfather would skin him if the old man found out.

Adam sighed yet again. How had his life gotten so complicated? In the space of a few weeks, no less.

He got to his feet and went in search of her – of his wife.

He found her in the lounge, curled up on his uncomfortable couch with her feet tucked underneath her. She looked like a kicked puppy and Adam was hit with the feeling that he’d done something inexcusable.

She curled up even further as he came near. God, she was fragile! Was it because she’d been coddled?

Adam pushed these thoughts away. It didn’t particularly matter why she was the way she was. It was the way she was and he was the idiot unfortunate enough to have to deal with it.

I’m… sorry,” he said uncomfortably. “I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

Iman stared at him. “What?” she said blankly.

I’m sorry,” Adam repeated.

Oh.” She sounded surprised. “It… it’s okay.”

Don’t go in my office again.”

I won’t.”

Adam nodded decisively. “Right. Good.”

They stared at each other awkwardly.



Iman’s stomach growled loudly. She gasped and then began to giggle. “Sorry! I – didn’t eat much yesterday.”

Breakfast.” He could do breakfast. “Do you like eggs?”

Iman nodded.

Adam disappeared gratefully into the kitchen.

Iman shuddered and dropped her forehead on her knees. That could have gone a lot worse. Idiot.

She’d relaxed. God knew why but she had. How stupid could she get?

She’d been sure, for a moment there, that Adam was going to hit her. He’d been angry, she knew that. There had been no screaming. He hadn’t even been rough when he’d grabbed her. But he’d been furious.

He’d scared her more than her mother ever had. Iman could get away from Aasia. She’d never fought back, but she could run. It had saved her more than once.

But Adam… She’d tried to run and he’d caught her. With barely any effort.

What the hell had she gotten herself into?

Her eyes blurred with tears and she sniffed hard, shifting.

Something dug into her thigh and she looked down. The knife Adam had tossed her that morning.

Would it make a difference?”

Yes, it would.”

Iman pulled the heavy piece of steel out of its holster and looked at it. Earlier, the weight had unnerved her. Now, it felt comforting.

3 chapters in a day? What is this, Transmutation?

16 thoughts on “Fiction: The Art of Mutual Destruction Chapter Twenty

  1. Yay thanks for the triple post can get used to it,maybe l more for tonight.just love how this story is going.seems like Adam and iman have been through much as daem and aabirah.


  2. Jazaakillaah for the back to back posts
    We can get used to 3 posts a day for TMAD and a post on COARIN.
    COARIN writers, holidays are over we waiting for more posts please…

    Liked by 2 people

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