Chapter Twenty Seven
I was so distracted when I got home that I at first didn’t even realize I wasn’t alone in the house. It was only when Zak came up behind me while I was stepping out of my shoes that I even noticed his presence.
“Where were you?”
I stumbled. “Zak! You scared me.”
He let me find my balance on my own, not moving from his position in the doorway of our bedroom. “Where were you?” he repeated.
“I went out for coffee with Rayyan.” I stepped away from my heels and went to our closet to grab less bothersome shoes. “I left you a bunch of messages, didn’t you get them?”
If I’d been looking in our mirror, I would have seen his face change. It would have warned me of what was coming next.
I was looking at the floor.
He came out of nowhere, it felt like. I didn’t even hear him move. One minute I was bending to grab my favourite fuzzy house slippers and the next Zak was looming over me, his face twisted with fury. “I asked you a question,” he hissed. “Don’t ignore me!”
The next few moments were a blur. I was vaguely aware of stuttering out some kind of explanation and holding my phone out like a peace offering so he could see proof of my trustworthiness.
When I could concentrate again, I was seated on the floor, leaning against the wall and watching as Zak examined my call logs.
My face was cold and sticky with the residue of my tears.
As if sensing my gaze, he abruptly tossed the phone on my vanity and came to crouch down next to me. I had to fight the urge to crawl away.
“I didn’t get your messages,” he said. In the time that it had taken to come over to me, he’d changed again. The scary Zak was gone and the one I’d fallen in love with was back.
But there was something wrong. It was as though there were two of Zak, the good laid over the bad imperfectly so it still peeked through in places.
“You shouldn’t have left,” he scolded furiously. “I got back and you weren’t here! Imagine how that made me feel.”
“But I left you messages,” I protested miserably.
He sat back on his haunches and glared at me. “Oh,” he whispered. “So it’s my fault.”
The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. “No!” I began to babble. “I wasn’t saying that. It’s not – no one’s at fault. I was just…” My voice began to give out. “I was just saying,” I finished, pleading. “I did leave you messages.”
So many messages that Rayyan had laughed at me over it.
A smile pulled at Zak’s lips. It was grotesque, more a baring of his teeth than an expression of happiness. “If you’re not blaming anyone,” he said pleasantly, “then why do you keep saying that?”
He stood in one swift movement and crossed his arms. “You keep saying, Azraa, that you left me messages. You’re making this my fault.”
“I did,” was all I could say.
“Stop it!” Zak shouted. “Stop blaming me!”
“I’m not!” I snapped. “I’m not blaming you, I’m just… I’m just saying.” My voice lost its power, the volume draining away until I was whispering again.
“Yes, you are,” Zak snapped aggressively, starting to pace. “You’re blaming me when you’re the one who wasn’t where she was supposed to be. How could you blame me, Azraa?” He stopped right in front of where I was crouched and leaned down. “How could you blame me for worrying about you.”
I wasn’t. All I’d done was try to explain.
“I’m explaining,” I said feebly.
“No,” Zak denied, vehemently. “No, you’re not. You’re blaming me for this and I really don’t appreciate it.” He blew a sigh through his nose. “You know what? I’m gonna go. I need some air.
“Don’t bother waiting up,” he called over his shoulder.
I was left on the floor of our bedroom to try and understand how I’d been the one in the wrong.
This chapter was one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. I know it’s short – I’m about as happy about that as you are but these chapters are looking to be *very* tough.