Chapter Thirty One
The only reason Aabirah knew Daaem had left was because she’d seen Holly packing suitcases. She hadn’t laid eyes on him since their last, miserable encounter. It had hardened her resolve to keep her distance. She knew beyond all doubt now that he was heartless and didn’t care for her a jot. She wouldn’t do more than the bare minimum to make sure he didn’t get the urge to get rid of her.
Where before she’d been willing to try and be civil, to try and make the best of things so that he didn’t see the need to get rid of her or make her life harder than it needed to be, Aabirah now no longer saw the need for any of that.
She would keep away from Daaem and he could do what he wished.
It made her feel incredibly stupid to realize just how much she’d given Daaem that he didn’t deserve by being nice and trying to ease things between them. How stupid of her! Now, she knew better.
Aabirah refused to keep trying, to keep letting her guard down. There was only so many times she could do it and get smacked in the face before learning better. And learn better she finally had.
Daaem Shaik would never get to her again.
A weight had lifted off her shoulders the second Daaem had left and Aabirah had been reminded of the first time he’d left her behind at the estate. At the time, she’d known Daaem for what he truly was – a dangerous, rich man who would do whatever he had to to make things go his way.
Somehow, in the interim, she’d forgotten what she was dealing with. But Aabirah had been given a few very hard wake up calls and she wouldn’t soon forget Daaem’s true nature again.
Aabirah stretched happily, pointing her toes. She lay horizontally on an armchair, with her legs dangling over one side and her hair reaching towards the floor on the other. She’d been reading for an hour already and she’d just finished her latest book.
It had become something of a game for her to see how many books she could read in a day – she’d gotten tired of television and movies for the most part, having run out of options, but now that she’d turned to books, there was a whole new selection in front of her.
She still felt lonely but she was getting used to it and she’d come to appreciate the solitude – it was miles better than being surrounded by people she didn’t like or enjoy being around just so that she wouldn’t have to be alone.
Aabirah did wish sometimes for friends but she’d never truly had any, just acquaintances who’d been thrown together with her because it was convenient. Her life was enough to be content with when she was alone, really. If only she didn’t have to worry about her safety whenever she stepped outside…
She sighed, burying her face in her hands.
“Where am I supposed to work?” Daaem asked irritably on his first day back in the office.
“What?” Ameer looked confused.
“Where do I work?” Daaem repeated.
“In your office?…Oh.”
“Yeah, this is my office. And you’re in it.” Daaem pursed his lips.
“Work where you used to before,” Ameer suggested, turning back to his laptop.
“I was ten before,” Daaem pointed out pleasantly. “And I used to sit in a corner in this office. I’m not doing that.”
Ameer sighed. “Daaem, I am very busy right now. Just work something out with Emma?”
Not trusting himself to speak, Daaem turned and walked out. “I need an office,” he told Emma. “I’ll work from home until something can be set up.”
In his car, he finally let his composure drop. He’d made a huge mistake and the enormity of it was only now hitting him.
He should never have given up the company. He’d needed to stay and fight. But he’d been so tired. He’d been weak, he knew. If he’d just stuck it out, he could have recovered. Now, he would have to start all over again.
Daaem knew his father wouldn’t easily give up control, no matter what the old man tried to pretend. It had taken everything he had to make Ameer do it the first time around and it would be no easier this time.
The enormity of the task he had to complete had finally sunk in and Daaem was terrified. He was in no shape to fight that hard again – he didn’t have it in him.
But he’d learned his lesson – he wouldn’t let go again. Daaem would hold on tight to this lifeline until it ripped itself from his hands. On the off-chance, he’d keep trying.
Qasim was having a horrible time. He’d expected this whole running away thing to be exciting and kind of fun. Instead, he was forced to look over his shoulder all the time. He wished his father was here to tell him what to do.
Qasim had never been given the option of making his own choices before and he’d found that he didn’t particularly enjoy it. His entire life, Mehmood had groomed him into the proper heir, giving him very little leeway when it came to anything truly important and Qasim found himself missing the structure now.
He had only himself to rely on now and it was hard. There was no one else to blame when things went wrong now. And there was no one to fix things because they felt bad for him or because he’d gotten them to take the blame away from him.
Worst of all, Qasim was the only one who had to deal with all of this. Aabirah was safe with Daaem and Mehmood was being protected by the government for the information he had to give them. Qasim was the only one who’d had to run.
It wasn’t fair!
He hadn’t done much wrong, why was he being punished hardest?