Chapter Twenty Eight
I woke up to a house full of flowers. Vases filled with orchids, peonies and lilies decorated every flat surface of our bedroom, kitchen and lounge. Zak had really gone all out this time.
He’d even remembered that I didn’t care for roses.
I should have been touched. He was apologizing so beautifully.
I – I was touched. It was very sweet of him. But I couldn’t deny that I’d have preferred hearing an actual apology.
Don’t be so demanding, I scolded myself. He spent thousands of dollars on you. Isn’t that enough?
It would have to be.
I pasted a smile onto my face, checked it in the mirror and went in search of my husband to thank him. There was no use being petty. And I absolutely did not want to start another fight or worse, hurt his feelings.
Zak was in the kitchen, fiddling with the largest bouquet of them all. His back was to me as he spoke into a cellphone.
I stopped short. My phone, not his. Who was he talking to?
The silence of our house made it easy to eavesdrop on the conversation. I felt no guilt – Zak was using my phone, not his.
“No! NO, Mom.” He paused to listen to her reply and began to rake through his hair in frustration.
What on Earth was going on? I walked into the kitchen, my footsteps echoing off the tile and Zak immediately turned to look at me. His hand moved as though to hide the cellphone he held before he thought better of it.
This close, I could hear Shamima’s voice clearly as it came through the phone’s tiny speakers. “I told you, I just want to talk to her. I won’t scold, I won’t yell. If you want, I won’t even say anything about the fight. Though I don’t know why you’re shielding her!”
She was talking about me, I realized. Zak must have told her about our fight.
“Mom!” Zak growled. “Not now.”
“Mirzaq, what on Earth…” Shamima sounded shocked. “What has gotten into you today? I’m just trying to help, son.”
Zak looked between the phone and my face, stuck. “Nothing, Mom. Look, I’ll talk to you later, okay?”
He ended the call to the sound of her still stuttering out questions and objections.
I searched for something to say, tongue tied. Zak wasn’t looking at me. He’d started fiddling with the flowers again, removing petals here and there and balling them up in his fingers.
“Thank you,” I said feebly. “For them – the flowers. All of them. They’re really…” I paused to take a breath. “They’re really pretty.”
“Yeah?” Zak looked visibly relieved. “Good. I was worried I’d pick the wrong kinds.”
“No, you did great.” I reached out and stroked his arm. “Are we alright now?”
Zak nodded immediately. “Yeah. Yeah, we are. And don’t worry about my mother,” he added. “She’s just overprotective.”
She wouldn’t have had reason to be if he hadn’t told her all about what was meant to be a private argument. But I could afford to be magnanimous – Shamima was halfway across the world. “It’s fine, Zak. Don’t worry about it.”
Plucking a single lily from the vase nearest to him, he offered it to me. “You know… I don’t have to be at work for another hour.”
I took the hint. “I’m sure we can figure out something to do with the time.”
Cliche as it was, sex really did fix everything – for Zak, at least. He’d been all smiles when he eventually waved goodbye that morning and in the days since, he’d been almost sickeningly sweet. It was as though I’d gotten back the Zak I’d first met.
I still found myself anxiously watching him for signs that his temper was starting to worsen once again but for the most part, things were good. He’d gone as far as offering to get me an apology from his mother for the awkward conversation I’d been an unwilling part of.
I smiled automatically thinking of it. Despite feeling uncomfortable about the fact that Zak had shared our argument with Shamima, I’d been determined not to rock the boat. Somehow, however, he’d figured it out and explained everything to me.
He’d been so sweet that night as he explained that they’d been close all his life, that it was difficult to remember sometimes that things were different now and he had me to protect. He’d vowed to never do it again and had been boyishly eager to make things clear with Shamima right there and then.
I’d never before bought into the stereotype that men were wired differently, that their needs were completely different. But it seemed to be true. All I knew was that this Zak was the one I’d fallen for and I was ecstatic to finally have him back.