Fiction: The Art of Mutual Destruction Chapter Sixty Six

Chapter Sixty Six

Iman smiled down at her laptop. Finally.

She’d been thoroughly confused the first time she’d been contacted by her mother’s lawyers. They’d spoken to Adam first and he’d given her a heads up even but she’d assumed – wrongly – that Aasia had left her nothing.

Instead, she’d been informed that every one of Aasia’s worldly possessions were now hers. And that included a sizeable fortune.

The news couldn’t have come at a better time. Adam had been looking unhappier by the day about using the money he’d earned as an assassin – what little of it he hadn’t immediately handed over to charities or Ali Cassim, at least – to fund his new business.

Now he wouldn’t have to.

She couldn’t wait to show him.

Look!” Iman thrust a laptop in his face.

Easy,” Adam cautioned. “Don’t break my nose.” He took the laptop from her hands and peered at the screen. “That’s a lot of zeroes. Whose account is this?”

Mine. It’s from my mother’s estate,” she explained. “Isn’t it great?”

Adam had thought she would feel conflicted by the money. It was a weight off his shoulders to see her react this way. “Congratulations. What are you gonna do with it?”

I’m – well, you really…” She shook her head. “Use it for the business.”

Iman, no. I’m not taking your money,” Adam said immediately. It was bad enough that they were living on her grandfather, he thought irritably.

You hate using your money for this,” she argued.

I’ll get over it.” And he’d do it far faster than if he used her money.

She sighed, taking her laptop from him and setting it aside. “But you don’t have to. Just take it. There’s no way I can use it all anyway – not even if I live for centuries.”

How could he make her understand? He’d have to admit to her what he’d barely admitted to himself – that he was scared He’d never done anything like this before and he had no idea whether he was setting himself up for failure by even trying.

I love you for offering,” he told her gently. “But I have my reasons. Okay?” He pleaded with her wordlessly to understand, to not be hurt.

Okay,” she sighed forlornly.

I’m not doing it to hurt you.”

Iman kissed his shoulder – the easiest place for her to reach. “I know.” She bit her lip. “Why are you doing it then?”

She caught sight of the look on his face and hurried to add. “You don’t have to tell me. Just – never mind. Leave it.” She turned away.

He caught her wrist. “Wait.” Just tell her. Why was it so hard?

Because he was ashamed. He didn’t want her to think less of him.

Adam, it’s fine. Forget about it.”

He didn’t want to forget about it.

I don’t want to take your money – or your grandfather’s – because I don’t know if this is going to work out.”

There. He’d said it.

Iman’s eyes widened and then turned soft with understanding. “Well, now you have to take it.”

Adam looked down at her. “What?”

You have to,” she repeated. “Because I refuse to let you believe that you’re going fail. You’re not.”

You don’t know that,” he argued stubbornly. She didn’t know how weak he could be.

Yes, I do. I know you, Adam. I know how hard you work, how much you expect from yourself.”

He looked away, a blush staining his cheeks. It wasn’t the first time Iman had complimented him but, just as it always did, the words caused a strange mixture of joy, guilt and misery to course through him.

Immediately, he felt the urge to deny her words.

You’ll do great. I know that, even if you don’t believe it yourself just yet.”

Looking at her then, Adam almost did believe it.

He scooped her up. “You’re pretty confident.”

Iman tightened her arms around him then brought a hand up to the back of his skull. “I have good reason to be.”

Iman looked down at the date and felt a shock go through her. A year ago today, she’d finally given up the frantic search for a husband and settled on Adam. They’d been married for almost a year.

Her eyes widened and she gasped. Her anniversary was right around the corner and she’d completely forgotten about it.

She cast a guilty look at Adam who was watching her curiously. “Something wrong?”

Just waiting to see if you’d pick up where I left off,” she lied. He’d taken to sitting with her while she prayed or recited the Quran, claiming he thought it was pretty. But he’d never touched it himself.

Honey,” he said patiently, as he had several times before, “I’m a murderer. I don’t think God wants to hear from me.”

Irritated with herself for forgetting and racking her brain trying to figure out how to mark their anniversary, Iman’s reply was uncharacteristically short. “You’re a murderer,” she repeated. “Don’t you think you should be trying harder than anyone else?”

Adam flinched.

Already filled with regret, an apology immediately sprang to Iman’s lips. “I – I didn’t mean…”

You’ve never called me that before,” Adam said dully. He pushed himself up. “Excuse me.”

Adam,” she called after him. “Adam, I’m sorry!”

He ignored her.

Iman buried her face in her hands, groaning. How could she have been so stupid?

He’d gone into the office. She knocked lightly on the door. “Adam?”

There was no answer.

I am so, so sorry. I should never have called you that.” Tears began to slide down her cheeks as she thought of his hurt expression. “I don’t know why I said it, I didn’t mean to – I just…”

There was a sigh and the door opened. “Don’t cry,” he told her. “I’m not mad at you.”

You should be.”

You didn’t say anything that wasn’t true.”

The denial stuck in her throat. “I still shouldn’t have said it. I’m sorry.”

Adam sighed again. “You didn’t say anything that wasn’t true. And… maybe you have a point.”

I hurt you,” Iman argued stubbornly.

Yeah, you did,” he admitted, swallowing hard. “But you didn’t mean to.”

He smiled deliberately at her. “You should make it better though.”

How?” Iman furrowed her brow.

Kiss me.”

She did. Repeatedly.

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