Chapter Fifty One
Dead people haunted his dreams.
Adam rolled out of bed and directly onto the floor, catching himself on his arms and beginning a set of push ups.
The urge to swallow a handful of pills or down a few bottles of disgusting spirits was strong but he fought it. He needed a clear head.
The only way he’d gotten through the past few days was by promising himself that it would only be for a little while. He just needed to function for a little longer and then, he could descend back into the haze he’d been living in.
He’d been mourning people who still breathed for a month and now he mourned the strangers he’d killed to avenge them. In the space of a few hours, everything had changed.
His arms were beginning to ache. A wave of exhaustion hit him but Adam kept going. He knew well enough by now that if he tried to sleep, he’d lay in bed tossing and turning until dawn.
The only way to win himself even a few hours of rest was to work until he was shaking and could barely move.
His thoughts turned to the plane ticket in his name that was waiting to be picked up. He’d booked it scant hours ago and he was already having second thoughts.
Was he ready to go back? Could he handle what he was stepping back into?
Iman was curled up with her feet underneath her, watching Uwais as the little boy tried to push himself off of his stomach, wriggling his limbs. He whined, lifting his head up to stare at her with a scrunched face.
Shaida came in, braiding her long hair as she walked. She smiled down at her son, “Are you having fun, sweetheart?” then turned to Iman. “Do you mind if I steal him back from you?”
Iman lifted the little boy and handed him over. “Fareed?”
Shaida smiled indulgently. “Yeah,” she sighed. “I’d love to spend some time alone with my husband but all he wants is to stare at our son. I suppose I can live with it.” She bounced Uwais. “He is pretty adorable, I guess.”
“He looks just like his mother,” Iman grinned.
Shaida wrinkled her nose. “Flatterer. Thanks for taking care of him.”
“It was only for five minutes!”
“Still, it’s pretty early. What were you even doing up?”
“I wanted to paint the sunrise,” Iman lied. She had, in fact, painted the sunrise that morning but she’d woken for a far less pleasant reason – Adam. He’d haunted her all night.
“Show it to me later,” Shaida requested distractedly.
“Sure.” Iman watched the brunette leave, keeping a smile on her face that immediately dropped once Shaida had pulled the door shut behind her.
She sighed and looked at the canvas she’d left in front of the window to dry. It was one of the worst paintings she’d done in a long time – bad enough that she’d probably paint over it – and a clear indicator of how shaken she’d been when she’d been painting it.
There was a click.
Shaida stood there with a hand on the door handle. “Ready to talk?”
Iman stared. “About what?” she stalled.
Shaida narrowed her eyes, looking unimpressed. “I’ve known you long enough to have bathed you,” she reminded Iman. “Did you think I wouldn’t notice how off-balance you’ve been?”
Iman looked away. “You should be with Fareed and Uwais.”
Shaida rolled her eyes. “Neither of them even noticed me leave. Will you talk to me, please?”
Shaida pursed her lips. “Good try. If I’d lost my mind, I would believe you. What’s going on? I thought you’d be having a good day today, at least. Are you worried about leaving?”
Iman hesitated. She’d been too preoccupied by other things to think about it much but she was a little apprehensive about leaving the little bubble she’d been in for the past month. But her grandfather was insistent that he wanted to be back in his own home and so Iman would bear with it.
“Iman? You know you can stay here for as long as you’d like, don’t you?”
“I know.” Iman smiled gratefully and hugged Shaida. “But…” she trailed off.
“But you want to be with your grandfather, I know.” Shaida frowned thoughtfully. “Do you want me to come with you?”
Iman’s eyes widened. “No, no, you should be here.”
“Are you sure? I have more than enough time,” Shaida joked.
“Alright. If you change your mind, at any time, tell me and I’ll pack a bag.” Shaida sighed. “I’m going to miss you, you know. I’ve gotten used to you being here all the time.”
Iman had deliberately avoided thinking about leaving Shaida behind and now a knot began to form in her stomach. “You’re not coming back, are you?”
Shaida’s eyes darkened with sorrow. “No, sweetheart, we’re not. Before… It was different before. But now, I just can’t bring myself to let that world touch Uwais.”
“I understand.” And she did. Iman swiped a hand across her cheeks.
There was a knock at the door. “Shae?” Fareed called. “He’s hungry.” As if on cue, there was a little wail.
Shaida looked between Iman and the door, a torn expression on her face. “Oh-”
“What are you waiting for? Go feed him!” Iman injected humour into her voice.
Shaida squeezed her hand. “We’ll spend time together tonight when he’s sleeping,” she promised.
He was home. It felt strangely unreal to be back. Even though his entire life had been turned upside down, nothing else had changed.
Adam had been second guessing himself for the entire flight. Now that he was here, about to knock on the front door, he felt even less certain than he had before.
What was he doing? Was he going to tell his mother the truth? Would she even believe him? He didn’t know.
Kat had warned him that his life was in danger. His stepfather wanted him dead.
Would going to see Lina get him killed?
The part of himself that had been in control when he’d wandered a city looking for someone to kill him reminded him that maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.
Adam walked down the driveway, deliberately letting the guard who was stationed at the door see him.