Fiction: The Art of Mutual Destruction Chapter Twenty Two

Chapter Twenty Two

Adam glanced over at the tiny blonde in his passenger seat. She’d been asleep for the past hour, making an almost offensively cute little snuffling sound with every breath. Peacefully asleep, she looked even tinier than normal and Adam was forcibly reminded of the day they’d first met.

He’d thought she was a child initially. A proper look at her chest had told him different. But he’d still thought she was adorable. Until he’d found out who she was, at least.

He’d been watching her all week, waiting for the tantrums and demands to start. But she didn’t act like a princess. In fact, from the way she skulked around sometimes, it felt almost like he’d been the one to trap her.

He couldn’t figure her out. Was she a naive girl? A manipulative woman? Something else entirely?

Adam didn’t know and it was driving him insane. He hated puzzles. They nagged at him until he’d unravelled them, distracting him from everything else until he found the solution.

He looked at Iman again. She was the most infuriating puzzle he’d ever seen. He only had a fraction of the pieces and he had a nasty feeling that the few he did have were somehow upside down.

It was almost half past nine. He’d been waiting for her to wake up for the past ten minutes. Ali was probably spitting mad and pacing.

Adam reached over. No point in putting it off even longer. “Iman? Iman, wake up.”

She started then blinked up at him sleepily. “Mhm? Wha’s matter?”

We’re here.”

It was like he’d thrown a bucket of ice water over her head. Any last vestiges of sleepiness that had been clinging to Iman fled. She was suddenly wide awake and experiencing all the nerves that came along with being properly present in the moment.

Adam looked bemused. “That was quick.”

Abject terror’s good for an energy boost,” Iman snapped, before she could think better of it.

Adam looked taken aback. “Terror?”

Terror’s maybe a little bit of an exaggeration,” Iman admitted. “Just a little though.”

Uh huh. What is it that’s so terrifying?”

Iman fidgeted with her seatbelt. “I’m really bad with new people. And your mom’s, she’s really sweet but she’s kind of like a-a.” She faltered, unable to think of a word to describe Adam’s mother that wasn’t either offensive or completely inaccurate.

A pit bull?”

Yes!” Iman agreed fervently. Then her brain caught up to her mouth. “No! I mean… yes. But… a nice pit bull?” She buried her face in her hands and groaned. A pit bull. That wasn’t offensive at all.

She braced herself, waiting for the yelling to start. Nothing happened.

Iman lifted her head warily.

Adam was staring at her with a strange look on his face. Their eyes met and he shook his head lightly, as though to clear it. “My mother has no idea how we met or why we got married. As far as she’s concerned, I liked the look of you and proposed.”

Oh. But wait, then-” Certain things she’d heard on her wedding day had begun to make a lot more sense. Iman winced guiltily. She’d thought Lina was absurdly friendly, even a bit ridiculous. In truth, she’d been lied to.

I know it sounds ridiculous. But it’s more plausible than what actually happened.”

More plausible than being contacted by a man who could just barely be called an acquaintance and being coerced into marrying her a few days later? That wasn’t exactly hard.

Iman frowned. “How long does your mother think we’ve known each other?”

Adam thought for a minute. “A few months? I wasn’t specific.” He opened his door. “Come on, we should get inside.”

A thought occurred to Iman and she paused. “We don’t know anything about each other.”

Adam shrugged. “I’m a private person.”

Iman couldn’t shake the feeling that something was about to go horribly wrong.

There was a crack in the ceiling right above her. Iman followed it with her eyes and tried to guess its length.

She’d been waiting for Adam and his friend to resurface from their private, and seemingly very intense, conversation for long enough that she was beginning to feel stiff from standing in one position for so long.

It showed no sign of letting up any time soon.

Iman wondered who the brunette was. Adam had made a beeline for her as soon as he’d caught sight of her and they’d been absorbed in one another ever since. She was gorgeous, whoever she was. Tall and willowy with a kind of intensity that drew attention.

She certainly seemed to be drawing Adam’s attention. The catty thought made Iman do a mental double take. Had she really thought that?

Her cheeks burned. She had. It bothered her that Adam was so fascinated by this woman. But why? She had no real claim to his attention. He hadn’t married her out of any particular desire to do so.

What was happening to her? A week ago she’d been worried about keeping Adam from killing her and now she was fretting about who he was attracted to?

The sound of her name being called made Iman jump. Adam and his friend were both staring at her. They looked wonderful together, she couldn’t help but notice. Both tall and dark, they seemed to fit beautifully together.

Sorry, I was just-” Iman faltered. “Never mind. What were you saying?”

Adam had been making introductions, it seemed. He repeated them quickly. The brunette’s name was Kat. She was his oldest friend.

Interesting to meet you,” Kat said coolly, examining Iman in a way that somehow managed to make her feel every one of her flaws all at once.

Likewise.” Iman dredged up a smile. As interesting as she imagined coming face to face with a crocodile would be.

Are we going inside?” she asked Adam.

Kat reached out and took her hand and Iman fought the urge to yank it back. “We are. Adam has some things to see to. Come on, I can’t wait to hear all about you.”

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