Chapter Forty Three
Zak, I want a divorce.
Five little words. Just barely a mouthful.
I still couldn’t get them out.
I’d lost count of the number of times I’d stood before him, rooted to the spot and trying fruitlessly to speak.
He’d begun to think that the pregnancy was making me lose my mind, I knew. I’d seen the contempt that overtook his features when he thought I wasn’t looking. He thought I was pathetic. And he was right.
Demanding. Spoilt. Difficult. That was me, Azraa Razi.
A tear made its way down my cheek. I wasn’t trying to be difficult. I swear, I wasn’t. I kept trying to be accommodating but it was so, so hard.
Zak didn’t believe me and I couldn’t blame him. Normal people didn’t behave like I did, after all. Normal people were kind and giving. Like my family.
But I was the black sheep of the family. Something had gone wrong when I was being made. For so long, I hadn’t bothered to try and be better but when I’d met Zak, he’d made me believe that I could try.
He’d been wrong. And now he’d grown tired of me. But I was carrying his baby, he couldn’t get rid of me the way I knew he dearly wanted to. He had to bear the consequences of his actions.
He was trying to help me be better. It was all I heard these days. Azraa, I’m telling you this so you can be better. I’m not the bad guy. Don’t you want to improve?
And I did. I did want to improve.
But I was tired. So, so tired.
And the part of me that was wrong… The part that yelled and cursed and fought… I was losing control of it.
I ran when I’d had enough. Always had. I ran from Rayyan, I ran from my parents, I ran from my house. I even ran from the few friends I’d managed to make.
This time it wasn’t so easy. I kept trying… and failing.
But something was different today. I’d woken up without the urge to puke or nap and the little person growing inside me had decided to make themselves quiet for a while.
If I was ever going to do it, today was the day.
I still had no idea where I was going to go or what I was going to do. My family had been clear – they had no place for me. If I ended my marriage, I would do it on my own.
But if Zak tired of me… If Zak was unhappy with me… Maybe then they’d have pity on me.
Or maybe I was deluding myself.
I was taking a giant risk, I knew. But somehow I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was, for once, doing the right thing.
Zak was in his office. A good wife wouldn’t disturb him. A good wife would wait patiently until he had time for her.
But I wasn’t a good wife.
I took a long look at my husband. He really was startlingly handsome.
I was about to lose him. Forever. Deliberately, I stabbed at the mental wound, the way you’d probe a sore tooth. The pain wouldn’t come. All I felt was relief and the shame that that dawning realization brought with it.
They’d all been right. I really was awful. I ran a hand over my stomach. Was I going to hurt my baby one day the way I seemed to keep hurting everyone else?
No. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. The baby was defenceless and I’d resolved long ago to hand them over to better people if we couldn’t give them the life they deserved. I didn’t care what it would make people think of me.
Better to be vilified as a demon than to become one by harming a child who didn’t deserve and had never asked to have me as a mother.
“Azraa!” Zak was irate. “I’ve told you over and over again, don’t come in here and stare into space. Go away already!”
“I want a divorce.” It was a release. No more rules. No more expectations. No more better.
“What did you just say to me?” Zak whispered. He seemed to grow bigger as rage filled him. “You want a divorce?”
I took an involuntary step back. “Yes.” It was barely a breath but somehow he heard it.
“You – How dare – I can’t believe –” Zak shook his head wildly and took in a gulping breath, visibly forcing himself to calm down. “Get out of here, Azraa. And never say something like that again, do you hear me?”
Somehow, I found the strength to shake my head. “I want a divorce,” I said again, relishing the renewed wave of freedom. “I want a divorce, Zak. I want a divorce.” I was like a broken record, repeating the same maddening phrase over and over again.
“Stop saying that!” Zak shot to his feet. “Just STOP.”
“I can’t.” I looked him dead in the eyes. “I can’t.”
“You can’t leave me. You can’t.”
I felt a stab of pity for Zak.
“I have to. I’m not happy here. I’m sorry, Zak. Really, I am.” I kept apologizing in that vein for several minutes but Zak clearly wasn’t listening.
“You can’t leave me.” Later, I would recall the threat in his tone.
But at the time, all I could think was that I already had.
She DID it!