Fiction: The Art of Mutual Destruction Chapter Thirty Eight

Chapter Thirty Eight

You’re leaving tomorrow?” Iman repeated incredulously. She stepped further into the bedroom, carefully avoiding the haphazard pile of books stacked near the door.

Fareed nodded. “If I’d had it my way, we would have left a month ago,” he grumbled. “I don’t want to waste any more time.”

I know, but… so soon?”

You can come visit as much as you want,” Fareed reminded her, ruffling her hair as he walked past to a large, open suitcase that lay on the bed. “But Shaida needs to be settled as quickly as possible.”

You’re right.” Iman went to the open drawer and pulled out a stack of neatly folded shirts. “Here.”

Fareed nodded his thanks. “We’ll be back soon enough.” He added in several pairs of shoes to the already full suitcase then began struggling to zip it.

You’re taking most of your clothes and an entire library,” Iman pointed out.

Fareed had the grace to look chagrined. “I don’t want to bring a newborn back here,” he admitted. “We have at least three knives and a gun in every single room – even the bathroom. I want to keep them away from it as long as I can.” He looked down at the zip he was still tugging, shamefaced.

Shaida doesn’t know any of this, does she?” Iman guessed.

No, she doesn’t. I’ve been waiting for the right time to talk to her about it but there’s always been something or the other that urgently needed either my or her attention. This poor baby’s been neglected so much and it’s not even born yet!”

Fareed slammed a fist down on the suitcase, cursing. “And now this stupid thing won’t close! Argh!”

Why don’t you let me do that?” Iman suggested. “Just take a minute and take a breath.”

Fareed cradled his hand to his chest. “That’s probably a good idea,” he admitted. “I didn’t mean to scare you,” he added, for Iman had jumped when his fist had made contact with the hard plastic.

It’s okay. I’m just a little on edge.”

Understandably.” Fareed paused for a second, visibly bracing himself, then opened his mouth again. “I’ve been talking to your grandfather a lot in the past few days, Iman. I suggested something to him this morning and he dismissed it but it’s more your choice at the end of the day.”

Iman let out a low noise of triumph as she finally succeeded in zipping the bag shut. “What did you suggest?”

Therapy.” Fareed held up a hand. “Just wait,” he pleaded. “Don’t just dismiss it. I know that secrecy is a huge concern for everyone here but that’s not a good enough reason to let you all just languish and eventually completely ruin your mental health.”

Iman sighed. He meant well, she reminded herself. “Fareed, security isn’t just a huge concern, it’s the biggest concern. And I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to a stranger about anything, much less… that.”

Fareed looked resigned. “Just think about it? It could help.”

I’ll think about it,” Iman agreed, to pacify him.

She patted the suitcase lightly. “What time are you leaving tomorrow?”

First thing. But we’ll wait to say goodbye first.”

Less than twenty four hours. “I’m going to miss you both so much. At least James is due back soon.”

Fareed scowled suddenly and Iman remembered that he’d always held a dislike for James. “He’s not that bad,” she assured him. “Really. He’s a flirt but he doesn’t mean any harm.”

Fareed’s expression didn’t change and Iman sighed. “Well, at least you won’t be here by the time he gets back.”

That’s what I’m afraid of,” Fareed said grimly. “That’s just what I’m afraid of. Excuse me for a second?”

Yeah, sure,” Iman responded, taken aback. She walked to the door of the little apartment and added; “I wanted to call Adam anyway. I’ll see you later.”

She’d been telling the truth – she did want to talk to Adam. But as Iman made her way up to the floor she shared with her grandfather, she wasn’t anticipating a phone call. Instead, she typed out a short text to Adam, letting him know that she wouldn’t be available for a while then headed out in search of her grandfather.

She’d barely spoken to him at all in the past two days and worry for him had wrapped around her heart. He seemed to have aged a decade in the past forty eight hours and her brief conversation with Fareed had reminded her that she needed to make sure he was alright.

She rubbed the back of her neck with a groan. Why was everything happening at once?

Come by later please? I have some things to sort out.’

Adam glanced down at his phone, relief and disappointment mingling within him. He typed out a quick affirmative then tucked the device back into his pocket.

He’d been eager to go and see Iman, to make sure that she was still alright, but he had his own mess to sort out. And it was waiting right outside his front door, kicking said door hard enough that he was surprised it hadn’t dented.

Kat had been waiting in his apartment the second he’d gotten back and it had taken a good few minutes of yelling to get her to leave him alone even long enough to take a shower.

Mercifully, his stepfather had responded to the outraged barrage of texts he’d sent by distracting Kat long enough that he’d been able to get a few hours of sleep before she was back and nagging him for answers.

Of course, she was in a foul mood now, but it had been worth it.

Maybe…

Adam looked the angry brunette over and hastily revised his previous opinion.

Kat looked ready to breathe fire.

He let her in silently.

She stalked into his kitchen, began helping herself to whatever took her fancy and then, once she’d loaded up on food, seated herself comfortably on the counter and began her interrogation.

Adam’s head began to throb. He should have just jumped out the damn window and escaped to the Khans’ mansion.

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