Chapter Thirty Seven
“That’s ridiculous!” Shamima said immediately.
“No, it’s not,” Zak contradicted her. He bestowed a smile on me. “It’s a great idea, gorgeous. You’re back to using that brain, huh?” He put his arms around me and looked expectantly at his mother. “You can always get a new maid and train her however you want. But Amira knows what I like.” He put a special emphasis on the last word. “And I don’t like having strangers in my space, you know that. That’s why we’re doing without in Sydney.”
Shamima thought for a moment. “Alright,” she relented finally. “But,” she added, holding up a hand. “I want you to come back as often as you can.”
Zak nodded impatiently, not listening to a word. “Yeah, yeah. Whatever you want.”
“Zak!” his mother said sternly. “I want you to promise me.”
“I promise.” He leaned forward and kissed her cheeks. “There, are we done? I have to go book Amira a flight.”
Zak took hold of my hand. “I know it was your idea, but let me be the one to tell her?” he requested.
“Sure. I’m going to try my grandfather again. Come find me when you’re done?” I suggested. We hadn’t spent time together in ages, first because of his job and then because I’d spent most of my time in dreamland.
It was only when Zak had made his announcement that I’d noticed how far apart we’d drifted and that scared me. Badly.
Zak gave me a once over then leaned into me to whisper in my ear. “Missed me, have you?”
I felt a surge of embarrassment. His mother was right there in front of us! I jerked my head in a quick nod then made for the stairs.
Zak was right behind me.
“Zak, I need to discuss something with you!” Shamima called from behind us, sounding peeved.
“One sec,” he called over his shoulder.
Taking advantage of his long legs, he took the stairs two at a time, making short work of the distance between us.
He took me in his arms easily. “My gorgeous is back, huh?” he asked playfully, his grey eyes glinting.
Zak arched his eyebrows in surprise. “Hmm. I can work with that. Be ready at seven.”
I felt a rush of excitement in my belly. I loved it when he acted the way he had we’d first met. “What’s happening at seven?”
“Oh no,” Zak shook his head. “You’ll have to be patient.”
I made a pout and looked at him through my eyelashes. “But how am I supposed to get dressed? You’ll have to pick my clothes.”
Zak’s eyes shone with interest. He liked the idea of being able to dress me exactly as he wished.
“Zak!” Shamima abruptly reminded us that she was still waiting.
Zak glanced behind himself. “I’ll take care of your clothes.”
He kissed me lightly then ran to do his mother’s bidding.
I stood there, grinning to myself and anticipating.
I was so shocked when the call actually connected, I dropped my phone right onto my nose. Still cursing and rubbing at it, I hurriedly lifted it and spoke, scared that the person on the other end would disconnect.
“Nana, it’s Azraa!”
“Azraa,” my beloved grandfather said in a flat voice. Then, after a pause. “How are you?”
Momentarily startled, I forgot my pain. Why was he being so cold?
In a rush, I remembered the disaster that had been the weeks leading up to my wedding. Nana, like the rest of my family, hadn’t been happy about how hasty I’d been. Unlike them, he didn’t seem to have forgiven me.
“I’m okay,” I said in a small voice. “Thank you for the birthday gift.” When I’d received it, I’d thought all had been forgotten. He’d even offered to fly in to see me! So why now?
“They were yours already. I’d promised them to you.”
“Still,” I said softly. “I love them. I was meant to get them preserved but we came to the US so unexpectedly that I couldn’t. I haven’t been able to read them yet,” I admitted. “But I can’t wait to.”
“Been busy, have you?”
I winced. Unable to bear the iciness any longer, I said in a rush, “Nana, I’m sorry about everything that happened before! Before I got married, I mean. I… I know I was a bit of a…” I searched for a word.
“A brat?” Nana supplied. “Yes, you were. But I forgave you that long ago.”
“Then why are you mad at me?” I felt like a sad little girl, and sounded it too.
“How long has it been since you found out you were pregnant?”
My mouth dropped open. “You know already? Who told you?” The only people who knew were family and I’d asked them all to keep it quiet.
“My secretary congratulated me,” Nana said pleasantly. “Imagine my surprise when I asked her what for.”
“Oh, no! Nana, I’ve been trying to call you all week. And no one’s even supposed to know yet anyway! We’ve only told our parents – and Rayyan.”
Nana’s tone changed immediately. “Oh, dear. Someone must have slipped up.”
“Yeah,” I agreed, feeling a lump in my throat. I didn’t even know why I was so upset but it suddenly felt like the end of the world. I drew in a sharp breath. “How could they do that?”
“I’m sure it was an accident, Azraa,” Nana said soothingly.
“But we aren’t supposed to tell people! Not for five more weeks, in case something goes wrong!”
“It will be fine, Azraa. Have faith in Allah.”
“Ok-kay,” I sniffled. “Sorry, Nana, I don’t know why I’m so upset.”
Nana laughed. “It happens, darling.”
We chatted for a moment and then he let me go, promising to call again soon.