Chapter Sixty Four
Iman woke to the sounds of retching. She sighed.
Another nightmare. Still had them herself now and again but the spectre of Ali Cassim had lost most of his power for her.
But Adam was still haunted. Iman had lost count of the number of nights she’d woken to find him clutching at her, desperate to make sure she was still breathing.
She cursed Ali Cassim viciously in her head, vindictively hoping that the man was suffering in whatever grave he’d been thrown into.
The bedroom was still dark. Adam never put the lights on when he had nightmares, not wanting wake her.
She turned on the lamp that sat at her right and waited patiently. She’d learned by now that if she tried to go to him, he’d exhaust himself even further trying to pretend that he was fine and hide the worst of his pain from her.
Better to wait and let him come to her. When they were in bed, at least, he wouldn’t turn her away.
As had become her habit during these nights, she began to pray, softly enough that her voice wouldn’t carry to Adam and worry him.
The knot of tension she’d been carrying in her stomach began to ease and she stopped for a moment to marvel. Every time she did this, she felt better. Every single time.
She was sure she’d shocked Shaida when she’d begun to interrogate the older woman about Islam but nonetheless, Shaida had answered every question she had patiently – sometimes even calling over her own mother to help where her knowledge was shaky.
She was so distracted she didn’t notice Adam coming back to bed. “You’re praying?” he asked curiously. “What for?”
Iman lifted her head. “You recognized it?”
“My mother,” he explained. “Before she met Ali, at least.” Adam shook his head as though to clear it. “I didn’t know you were religious?”
“It’s a new development,” Iman admitted. “But… I think it’s here to stay.”
“What were you praying for?” he asked, getting into bed.
“You.” Iman settled back on his shoulder.
“Me? I don’t think assassins have God on their side.” His tone was light but Iman heard the self-loathing he couldn’t hide.
“It can’t hurt,” she told him calmly.
“I guess not,” he agreed drowsily.
“Besides, it makes me feel better.”
“Keep doing it then,” Adam told her, half-asleep.
The ring of a cellphone mingled with his wife’s hissed curses brought Adam awake. “In the drawer,” he reminded her. No matter how often he told her to put her phone away, he ended up being the one to do it after she’d forgotten.
“Thanks,” she told him distractedly, yanking it open and snatching up the device. “Hello?”
Whatever she heard on the other side of the call made her sit down. Adam snaked an arm around her, squeezing once. What had happened?
“Thank you,” she said eventually. “I appreciate you taking the time to call. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
She dropped the phone into her lap and sat there silently.
“My mother is dead,” Iman told him. “She died this morning.”
Adam swore silently. “I’m sorry.” He’d hated Aasia but he knew Iman hadn’t been able to let go entirely, even still.
Iman let out a sob. “I don’t know why it hurts.” She lifted her head. “She hated me. She hurt me and she hated me and if it had been the other way around, she wouldn’t have blinked an eye. So why am I crying?”
Hurt for her made his chest ache. “You’re a better person than she was. That’s why.” He brushed away the tears on her cheeks. “What do you need?”
“I need to go see… her.” The body, she meant. Adam understood. She needed to make sure it was real.
“We’ll go together.”
She shot him a grateful look and nodded. “Thank you.”
She was an orphan. It was a strange feeling. She’d sworn to herself that she would never go back. At the time, she’d finally thought that at long last, she was free.
But when her phone had rung that morning, she learned better.
Aasia had asphyxiated, they told her. She’d passed out and choked on her own vomit. An ugly end.
She’d been drinking, they thought. Bottles of alcohol had surrounded her along with a few scattered pills. The police had been called but they were convinced that it was just a simple overdose.
They’d expressed their condolences, commenting on the tragedy of it – only a few months after her husband had died. She must have loved him very much to destroy herself over him like this.
Iman barely heard them. She held tightly to her husband’s arm and let Adam be her shield, speaking to no one but him the entire time.
He seemed to sense when she’d had enough and announced in a firm voice that they were leaving.
Thank God for him, she thought. Thank God she still had him.
She was about to fall asleep standing up! Did no one else see that?
He glared at the people surrounding them. Lawyers, policemen, security guards. Vultures, the lot of them. They’d offered bland platitudes just long enough to seem decent and then begun their attack.
Iman leaned further into him and his temper snapped. Enough!
They were leaving and if anyone needed anything, they were going to go through him. His wife had dealt with enough.
He guided her to the car gently and helped her in. Another minute and she’d pass out.
“How is your wife going to be dealing with her inheritance? We are the executors for Mrs. Rahman and we really do need to know immediately if her daughter has her own legal representation we need to contact?”
Adam glared at the simpering man. “You can contact me. I handed out my number enough today that you should have gotten it.”
There was a blink. “Yes, sir. Of course. But you would like us to deal with everything?”
Whatever would get them all to leave him and his wife in peace. Adam said as much and there was a rapid series of nods. “Of course, sir. I completely understand.”
He got into the car and sighed, glancing at the passenger seat. Iman was fast asleep. She’d exhausted herself.
Adam rubbed his temples. When would the hits stop coming?