Fiction: The Art of Mutual Destruction Chapter Sixty Three

Chapter Sixty Three

It was a miracle that none of them had been hurt worse.

Adam tightened his grip on Iman’s waist. She was right there in his arms but still, the remnants of panic churned in his gut, making him nauseous. It could have gone so much worse.

He looked at Kat, curled up in a bar stool to their right. He’d been reluctant to let her anywhere near Iman – suspicious of how neatly she’d made her alibi – but when his wife had leaned up and whispered in his ear, he’d accepted the explanation and let her be.

She’d trailed after them like a lost puppy to the kitchen and hadn’t moved since he’d directed her to the chair.

Shock, Adam diagnosed, watching her shiver. She was in shock.

They all were, he realized as he felt Iman huddle closer to him. They needed heat and sugar.

And he wanted a doctor to look at Iman.

It was a colossal effort to pull out his phone and dial but he managed it. Relating the details of what had happened was beyond him but he managed to convey enough that Waseem understood both to come immediately and to bring a doctor along with him.

The Second took one look at the three of them and went to put the kettle on. “Tea,” he decided. “Sweet tea.”

He went to Iman after that, tilting her head to get a look at her throat. He hissed in sympathy at the dark bruises. “That looks like it hurts.” Then he turned to Adam. “Where’s the body?”

Bedroom.”

Waseem nodded decisively. “Let the doctor look at her,” he instructed Adam. “And finish making the tea.”

It would give him something to focus on while he couldn’t keep hold of Iman.

Adam had just finished handing a mug to Kat when Waseem came back down. “It’s not too big a mess. The boys will be done cleaning up in an hour.” Adam hadn’t even noticed the extra people.

He nodded mechanically.

It was stupid of us to forget about him. Ali Cassim always did like holding grudges.” Waseem shook his head ruefully. “I should have killed him when I had the chance,” he grumbled. “Before he could turn into this much of a snake.”

I didn’t know you knew Ali.

I am as old as dirt.” Waseem said facetiously. “I knew everyone, at one time or another. He was young then. But still just as monstrous. And back then, he couldn’t hide it as well.”

Does anyone else need medical attention?” Everyone looked round. Iman had come back with the doctor. There was a brace on one of her hands.

No.”

Yes,” Iman contradicted him. “Adam, please? It would make me feel a lot better to know that you’re fine.”

There was no way he could argue with that.

Fifteen minutes later, there were bandages on his wrists and Kat and Iman both had drained mugs in front of them.

Kat roused when he approached. “I should go,” she said in a raspy voice.

Don’t.”

The protest hadn’t come from him. Adam turned to look at Iman.

Don’t go,” she repeated. “At least, not just yet.”

Kat looked like she wanted to protest. She opened her mouth. “Okay,” she agreed quietly, looking shocked at her own answer.

She glanced at Adam.

Stay,” he told her simply. She was in no shape to go anywhere.

Twenty four hours, sleep, and a hot shower made a world of difference. Adam and Iman had slept in one of the guest bedrooms and Kat in the other.

Waseem had left soon after Kat had decided to stay, leaving behind the four men who’d cleaned up as guards and reminding Iman to call her grandfather as he went. The only reason Ibrahim hadn’t been there along with his Second was because he was on the other side of the world.

Adam had no doubt that Iman’s grandfather was already back in town by now – Ibrahim had no doubt got on a plane as soon as he’d heard that Iman was once again hurt.

Adam couldn’t stop a sigh. How many times was it now?

What is it?” Iman lifted her head to look at him.

You keep getting hurt.” He told her plainly.

So do you.” She touched the bandages on his wrist lightly.

That’s different.” That was him.

It hurts me just as much to see you hurt as it hurts you to see me.” Iman shifted to kiss the edge of his jaw, right below the large bruise that had been left when Ali had hit him. “That’s why…” She trailed off and shook her head. “Never mind.”

What?” Adam urged. “Tell me.”

That’s why I wanted you to stop all this.”

They’d been fighting about it yesterday. That was what had started it all.

Why the hell had he been fighting so hard anyway?

Self-loathing filled him. Why had he been so stubborn? He’d driven her out of the damn house, into the cold!

Stop it,” Iman commanded. “Stop blaming yourself.”

I made you leave,” Adam reminded her bitterly.

And if I’d been there with you? He would have killed me right there and then and gotten what he wanted.”

Don’t,” Adam shuddered, tasting bile. “Don’t say that!”

Don’t say that you caused this,” Iman replied. “We both know exactly who is to blame and he was taken away in a body bag yesterday.”

Her mouth was pressed into a thin line. She’d scared herself with what she’d said too.

Wanting to remove the fear from her eyes, Adam spoke. “I’m not going back.” Even as he said it, a wave of peace settled over his shoulders.

What?” Hope shone in his wife’s eyes.

I’m not going back,” he repeated. “I’ll find something else. There must be something I can do decently well.”

You can do anything,” Iman told him. “Anything you want.” She laughed. “Say it again!”

I’m not going back,” Adam said, for the third time. “I’m never going back.”

Tears began to slip down Iman’s cheeks and his smile faded.

No, don’t worry!” she shook her head. “I’m happy. I’m so, so happy.”

Iman put her hands on his cheeks. “I can’t believe you’re really doing this.” She bit her lip. “You are sure, right? You won’t change you’re mind.”

I am sure. I’m completely sure.” And he was. He felt lighter than he had in months.

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