Chapter Twenty Three
Daaem seriously debated throwing his phone in the trash rather than letting it vibrate itself to death any longer. His father had been calling incessantly for the past ten minutes and he was in no mood to deal with the old man. But Ameer didn’t seem to be getting the hint.
Clearly, if Daaem wanted peace and quiet, he would have to be blunt. He answered the call and spoke immediately into the receiver. “Stop calling me, I don’t want to talk to you.”
He dropped the phone back onto his desk with a sigh. He had a splitting headache and a piled up desk to deal with before he could even think of going home to rest. He’d been doing damage control for the past two weeks, trying to amend the plans he’d been wanting to put into place with Adam’s help and distance himself from the mess his father in law was caught up in.
The media coverage had finally started to die down now a week later and he felt like his efforts to minimize the damage were finally doing some good. He’d been unable to salvage things with Adam but modifying the venture looked like a promising solution – if only he could find the time for it all.
Rubbing his tired eyes, Daaem leaned his head back. He’d just rest his eyes for a few minutes…
An hour later, he jerked awake as his office door opened roughly. Squinting, it took him a moment to recognize the intruder.
“Were you asleep?” the fuzzy person demanded.
Daaem groaned, recognizing the voice. It had been too much to hope for that his father would actually listen to him and leave him alone.
“I don’t want to talk to you,” he said, voice still croaky from his nap. “Go away.”
“Why are you sleeping in your office, Daaem?” Ameer demanded.
“I just took a quick nap,” Daaem felt the need to defend himself. “It’s been a long week, okay?”
“I know,” Ameer agreed. “What I don’t know is why you’re here.” He looked expectantly at Daaem.
“I have work to do,” Daaem said, confused.
“Delegate it. You need to be with your wife right now, Daaem.”
“No, I don’t,” Daaem muttered.
“What? Of course you do. She’s going through something horrible right now and she needs your support.”
“I need to be here. This bad publicity isn’t going to go away on its own and it’s already affected our bottom line. If we’re going to recover, I need to be here to fix things. And besides, Aabirah won’t want to see me.”
“Daaem, let me help you.”
“No.” Daaem’s response was knee-jerk, fuelled by the panic in his chest. No one else would be replacing him, even temporarily. He’d earned his place and he wasn’t giving it up.
Ameer looked exasperated. “Don’t be so stubborn. You clearly need help. You’re exhausted and in desperate need of a shave, not to mention a shower. Go home and let me handle things here.”
“I can do it,” Daaem said stubbornly. “I can do it by myself!”
“You don’t have to!” Ameer shouted. “Why must you be so pig-headed? You don’t have to sit here and ruin your marriage. There are people willing to help you, why won’t you let them?”
“My marriage is already ruined,” Daaem said bitterly. Aabirah hated him and he had no idea how to fix things. The one thing she wanted from him was the one thing he refused to give her. How were they supposed to move on from that?
Ameer had a look of horror on his face. He reached out, almost as if to touch Daaem, before pulling back. “Why would you say that?”
Desire welled up in Daaem to spill everything and beg for a solution. But he swallowed it. He knew better than to expect advice from his father. He’d learned that lesson over and over when he was younger. All he would get was a lecture that made him feel small and stupid and an order to fix things without ever having it explained to him how to go about doing it.
“Never mind,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s nothing.”
“You just told me that you think your marriage is ruined and you expect me to let it go? Daaem, you can’t really think that I’ll leave it alone?”
“Why the hell not?” Daaem shouted, suddenly fed up. “You’ve left me alone with my problems for all these years, why can’t you keep doing it now?”
“I left you alone after I’d already tried to help you as much as I could, Daaem. You weren’t listening to me and it clearly wasn’t helping. But this is different. This isn’t you being a little reckless. This is a lifetime commitment that you made.”
“I don’t want your help,” Daaem said shortly.
“You may not want it but you need it,” Ameer said crossly.
“Go. Just go!” Daaem screamed. Fury had welled up in him, hot and burning. How many times had he begged for help before? This was too little, too late and he refused to accept it.
“Daaem, enough!” Ameer’s voice was rising. “What is wrong with you? Haven’t you grown out of throwing tantrums yet?!”
“Leave on your own or I will call Security. And then the police.”
“You cannot seriously think that you can throw me out?” Ameer asked incredulously.
“Maybe not. But I can make enough of a scene to force you to leave. Do you want to test me?”
“I don’t know why I bother trying with you. You manage to disappoint me in new ways every time.” With that, Ameer turned on his heel and walked out.
Daaem’s satisfaction at finally being left alone mingled with the hurt he still couldn’t suppress.
He’d heard that he was a disappointment a hundred times before but still, it somehow managed to sting worse than any other insult.
He dropped back down into his office chair and covered his face with his hands, trying to regain his composure.
‘It doesn’t matter,’ he reminded himself silently. ‘His opinion doesn’t matter any more. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.’