Fiction: The Art of Mutual Destruction Chapter Twenty Six

Chapter Twenty Six

It had been a difficult job. He thought he’d been prepared for it. He’d known going in that it would be messy, known that he’d have to do more than just kill.

Killing was easier. It was quick – when he did it, at least. And he could lie to himself that he was being merciful. He’d made it his calling card – clean, quick murder.

But this was different. He’d had to track down well-hidden information and that had necessitated utilizing his other skills.

He’d needed to butcher people into spilling secrets. There were prettier words for it; interrogation, information gathering, coercion.

None of those meaningless words hid the true, brutal nature of this side of his work. Hiding behind them didn’t make him feel any cleaner and it sure as Hell didn’t stop their screams from ringing in his ears.

He’d forgotten a million things. Unimportant and important memories alike. But every moment of time he’d spent making a person scream was etched into his brain.

He’d never forgotten a second of that. Those memories were crystal clear. They’d remain that way til the day he died. It almost felt like his mind’s way of punishing him.

He’d accepted it as an unavoidable part of his life just as he’d accepted the violence and gore of the world he’d been unwillingly dragged into when his mother had made a choice with her heart instead of her head.

He could do nothing else.

He wasn’t brave enough. Wasn’t strong enough.

Resistance may not have been futile but it was beyond him.

The past two weeks had been bliss. Iman couldn’t remember when last she’d been so relaxed. And the constant pampering hadn’t hurt either. Between Ibrahim and Shaida, she hadn’t been allowed to do much of anything for herself.

Thinking of Shaida made her sigh. The older woman’s pregnancy seemed to be making her even more protective than normal, to the extent that she’d all but refused to leave Iman’s side. Iman didn’t mean to sound ungrateful but the constant hovering was beginning to chafe a little.

More importantly, Shaida wasn’t meant to be in the city any longer at all. She’d been supposed to leave a week ago to go and stay with her own mother and spend the rest of her pregnancy safely away from even the vaguest possibility of any danger. But Shaida had insisted on staying and even though no one had said it outright, Iman knew it was because Shaida didn’t want to leave her. They’d all – Iman, her grandfather and Shaida’s husband – given up on arguing with the heavily pregnant woman because it upset her so much that her doctor had worried about what the extra stress was doing to her baby.

Thankfully, it looked like she’d be leaving before long and perhaps that would ease Shaida’s mind enough to allow her old babysitter to leave before she drove her poor husband to distraction. She’d gotten a text from Adam that morning, letting her know that he’d be back in town soon. He hadn’t elaborated on when soon was exactly but Iman had taken it to mean in a few days.

She looked out the window and caught sight of the biggest gift her grandfather had given her. A brand new car to replace the one she’d had to leave when she’d left her mother’s house. Iman had no doubt that the car and everything else she’d left had been discarded within hours.

Aasia had never been the sentimental type and Iman doubted she’d want to keep reminders of an unsatisfactory daughter around. She wouldn’t bother to give the things back to Iman either. It wasn’t worth the inconvenience.

In direct contrast, not a single thing she’d left in her grandfather’s house had been touched unless it was to clean it.

The difference was easy to explain – her grandfather wanted her and her mother… didn’t.

He was exhausted, sweaty and hungry.

All Adam wanted to do was drive home and dive into a shower where he could scrub himself raw and then pass out for a good few days. Unfortunately, he couldn’t. He had to pick up his wife.

His already sour mood worsened every second he got closer to the Khan mansion. The last thing he wanted to do was deal with people when he was this filthy. He didn’t even like Kat being around him in this state and she’d seen him in all manner of compromising situations.

Iman… Dealing with her would be hell.

Adam knew he was being unfair. Iman wasn’t a killer. And she had no idea what he’d been doing for the past two and a half weeks.

He had no doubt that she envisioned his job to be as clean and emotionless as a video game. The details would probably give her nightmares for the rest of her life.

She was sheltered. It wasn’t her fault.

He resented her for it anyway.

She got to live in a clean world, with sunshine and rainbows, while he was forced to deal with muck and blood and gore.

And it was his own damn fault too.

That was the worst part. Knowing that he’d dug his own grave by being too spineless to resist and stand his ground.

Adam had been locked in the bathroom for over an hour now and Iman had no idea what to do with herself. He was clearly in a horrible mood and he’d looked almost… sickly.

She couldn’t decide whether she should leave him alone or go and ask him if he needed anything.

She didn’t want to irritate him. And he’d clearly not been feeling good.

But he’d looked so terrible she felt sorry for him.

She’d wait for another five minutes and then check on him. And if he didn’t want her help, she’d just leave him alone.

She was well-accustomed to terrible patients – her grandfather seemed to collect them.

She’d lost count of the number of times she’d encountered one of his people in the halls, clearly injured and in need of medical attention and viciously denying that they were in anything but perfect condition.

Perhaps it was a trait they all shared.

Whatever it was, she’d never let the grumpiness faze her before. And she wasn’t planning to start now.

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