Dedicated to the lovely Oceanus868 for asking so sweetly 🙂 Enjoy!
Chapter Fifty Three
A portly man stood on the other side of Adam’s front door, glaring so hard Adam half thought he’d burst into flames soon.
“You opened the door,” the man commented. “You’re either exceptionally arrogant or terminally stupid. Based on your actions, I’d say it’s both.”
Whatever Adam had been expecting, this wasn’t it. “Are you here to kill me?”
The man snorted. “Unfortunately not.”
Adam stepped back. “Then you should probably come inside.”
“Why are you here?” he asked curiously once they were seated in his lounge.
“My name is Waseem. I met Ibrahim Khan the first day he stepped into our world. I have known Iman since she was an infant. Make no mistake, I would very much like to kill you for the havoc you’ve caused but Ibrahim would like to talk to you first before he makes a decision. He seems to think there’s something redeemable about you.”
“Why?” Adam snapped his mouth shut, cursing internally.
Waseem’s eyes gleamed. “Ibrahim has his reasons.” He studied Adam frankly. “I knew all six of the people you killed and you don’t look capable of besting even one of them. How did you do it?”
Faces swam before Adam’s eyes. “I was a lot different back then.”
“I believe you. But I’m not the one you have to convince.”
Waseem stood. “I trust you remember where the mansion is?”
Adam nodded mutely, keeping his eyes on the other man as Waseem opened the front door.
“Good. Be there tonight at eight. Don’t be late.”
Waseem crossed the threshold then, as though something had just occurred to him, turned back. “Oh, and Adam?”
“Don’t run from me. It won’t end well for you.” He smiled cruelly.
Iman lay on her bed, a cool linen cloth covering her eyes to try and reduce the swelling that had come from her earlier crying jag.
There was a knock at the door and she lifted her head. “I’m sleeping,” she called in a thick voice.
The handle turned. “May I come in anyway?” her grandfather requested.
Iman hastily stuffed the cloth underneath her pillow. “Of course.” She straightened up. “What is it?”
Ibrahim sat at the edge of her bed. “My granddaughter cried today for the majority of an hour and now she’s trying to hide the evidence.”
Iman blushed and studied the embroidery on her sheets. “It’s nothing.”
“It’s Adam,” Ibrahim corrected gently. “I hadn’t realized that you’d grown to care for him this much.”
“I don’t,” Iman denied, feeling like a traitor. “He hurt you. He’s a murderer.” The words rang hollow.
“So am I,” her grandfather pointed out. “And you love me.”
Iman couldn’t say a word.
“I’m sorry that you’re so unhappy sweetheart. Truly, I am. If I could fix things for you right now, I would.”
Iman hated the sad look on his face. “I’ll be fine.” She took his hand. “Really. I’ll get over it.” She’d make peace with this eventually. “And Adam did something unforgivable. There’s no way to fix that.”
“Maybe not.” Ibrahim looked thoughtful. “Did I ever tell you why I became an assassin?”
“No.” Iman had asked – had nagged, in fact. But no one would ever tell her the story. She’d eventually stopped asking, her curiosity overpowered by the sadness and grief she seemed to cause Ibrahim to relive each time.
“I think you’re ready to hear it. No, you’ve been ready to hear it for a long time. But I think I’m finally ready to tell you.”
Ibrahim cleared his throat. “I was only three years older that you, Iman. Your grandmother and I had been married for a while and your father was a newborn – less than a month old.”
“I never met her,” Iman murmured.
“No,” Ibrahim agreed. “She died long before you were born. You’re a lot like her, you know. And you look like her too. You have her build and her eyes.”
Iman was fascinated. All thoughts of Adam were forgotten as she listened to this most important piece of family history.
“I worked ridiculous hours when I was younger. I was a lowly assistant then, at the mercy of my boss’s whims. I had a new baby at home but it didn’t matter – I was still expected to be at work day in and day out and I often came home to a sleeping wife and baby because of the hours I was expected to keep.”
Ibrahim cleared his throat. “One day, Yaseera went out. She needed something – groceries or something for your father. I still don’t know what it was. She left her baby with her best friend and she went out into the city in broad daylight. She didn’t know but she was followed.”
Iman’s heart twisted.
“I came home to an empty house that night. Hours after she had been attacked and left in an alley to die. I told you that I was a lowly assistant. Because of that and more importantly, because the man who’d stalked Yaseera was wealthy and powerful and a member of the police force, I was advised to let it go. There was no way that any of the several witnesses who’d stood by and watched would testify in court. Even if I did find a way to convince them, no judge would convict the monster who’d killed Yaseera. His pockets were too deep.”
Tears dripped down Iman’s cheeks. “Then what happened?” she managed to ask, holding tightly to Ibrahim’s hand.
“I refused to let it go. When the law couldn’t help me, I turned to the only place that didn’t run by the law – the criminal underworld. I had a new baby at home but my only thoughts were of revenge. I could barely remember my own name but every detail about what had been done to your grandmother was crystal clear in my mind. I trained until I had everything I needed and then I murdered every single person who had tried to manipulate the truth. It took me two years.”
Ibrahim sighed then. “It came with costs. By the time I was done, your father was a toddler and I was a stranger to him. He’d been living with Yaseera’s best friend all that time. He didn’t know me and he didn’t want to at first. It took me a long time to get him back. By then, I had seen more than enough of the corruption and greed that ran this country to ever have faith in the law again. I had also built up a reputation. It was too late for me to go back to what I had been so I didn’t look back.”
“I had no idea,” Iman whispered. She’d known that whatever it was, it would be awful. But this… She looked at Ibrahim. “Why did you tell me this?”
“To show you that people can do terrible things out of grief. Most of the people I killed had families that adored them. I was causing those innocent people the same grief that I myself had experienced and I didn’t particularly care as long as I found a way to dull my own pain. And I’ve come to think that Adam was doing the exact same thing I did so long ago.”
Iman reeled. There had been too many shocks for one night and her mind was struggling to process this final revelation. “Who? Who was he… mourning?” And why did he blame her?
That night, all those weeks ago, he’d blamed her. He’d told her that he wanted her to feel the pain he was feeling. She hadn’t understood then and she still didn’t understand now. Had someone close to Adam been murdered?