Chapter Forty Nine
“You’re going out in this?” Daaem asked, surprised to see Aabirah readying herself to leave. The weather was horrible, the wind howling and rain starting on and every half hour or so.
“I need to see Jake,” she explained shortly, wrapping a scarf around her neck.
“My bodyguard from Qasim,” Aabirah explained. “You’ve met.” And he’d been an ass that day, she didn’t add.
“Oh. Why can’t he just come come here?”
“He is coming here. He’s waiting for me at the edge of the property line.”
“He won’t come in the house?”
Aabirah scowled at Daaem. “You were the one who didn’t want him around,” she reminded him pointedly.
“What does that have to – Oh.” Daaem winced. “Tell him to come inside.”
“Thanks,” Aabirah said grudgingly, heading back into the warmth of the house.
“Aabirah!” Daaem called, stopping her.
“I’m sorry.” Daaem fidgeted. “And… this Jake would probably do a lot better guarding you if he was with you, wouldn’t he?”
“Yes,” Aabirah agreed warily, refusing to get her hopes up.
“We have plenty of guest rooms. Ask Holly to set him up in one of them, if you want.”
Aabirah couldn’t stop her smile. “Thank you,” she said happily.
“You finally cracked the nut, huh?” Jake asked, amused.
“He’s been oddly nice,” Aabirah admitted reluctantly.
“No need to sound so happy about it!”
Aabirah sighed. “I don’t understand why the sudden change, it makes no sense. And it’s not just with me – his father stayed here for a few days and they didn’t fight at all. It’s like he’s got a different personality all of a sudden.”
“Completely different or just sort of different?” Jake asked thoughtfully.
Aabirah raised her head. “Does it matter?”
“Well, yeah. Maybe the guy’s just turned over a new leaf. Nearly dying can change a person, you know?”
Aabirah shook her head. “He’s not completely different,” she admitted. “Just… nicer? Less of an ass.”
“So just enjoy it,” Jake recommended. “It’s better, right? Why worry about it?”
Aabirah huffed. “You are way too laid back!”
“What’s the use worrying about it? This husband of yours might have some nefarious plan or he might not. Just enjoy the respite. If something happens, deal with it then.”
Aabirah sighed. Jake had a point. Maybe she should just enjoy the new Daaem.
“I’ll think about it,” she said non-committally.
“Stubborn Princess,” Jake shook his head in amusement.
“When will everything be ready?” Aabirah asked, changing the subject.
“I’ll tell you when there’s news,” Jake assured her. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Why is it taking so long?” Aabirah whined. She just wanted to leave already. She’d been dreaming of it, in between other, more unsettling dreams that felt more like nightmares once she’d woken.
“It’s crime, Princess, it takes long.”
Aabirah sighed. “It shouldn’t take this long,” she griped.
“What’s the rush anyway? Things are getting better, aren’t they?”
“Yes,” Aabirah admitted. “That’s what scares me.”
Jake looked confused but she didn’t bother to explain. “Just hurry, okay? Please.”
She needed to leave before she got too comfortable. She refused to lose this chance. No one was taking it from her, not even herself.
Worry kept Daaem up long into the night, imagining terrifying scenarios. Finally, at a disgustingly early time of morning, he’d had enough. Giving up on sleep as a bad job, he made a beeline for the guest room that he’d seen Holly airing out the previous day.
He needed answers.
The same big, blond man he remembered invading his apartment opened the door and Daaem had to quell the instinctive surge of alarm. “You’re Jake,” he said unnecessarily.
The burly man nodded, crossing his arms. “Yup,” he agreed. “I’m Jake. You’re the husband.”
“Can I come in?”
“Your house,” Jake said, standing back and extending an arm with a flourish. “You can do what you want.”
“Thanks for the reminder,” Daaem smiled tightly. He fixed Jake with a serious look. “I need to talk to you about Aabirah.”
“Shoot,” Jake leaned against the door frame.
“A few months ago, she told me she was being threatened. I… I was an ass,” Daaem admitted, shamefaced. “I need to know – how much danger is she in? Aabirah said she would be fine if she was on the estate… but do we need to beef up security?”
“You’re serious?” the blond giant asked him suspiciously.
“Yes,” Daaem nodded immediately. “Of course I am.”
Jake rattled off a list of things, leaving Daaem lost a few words in. He held up his hands. “Can you talk to our security team?” he suggested.
Jake nodded. “Sure. Now?”
Daaem shook his head. “I’ll set up a meeting for a few hours from now.”
“Your husband is beefing up security,” Jake told Aabirah, grinning.
“What?” she stared at him, confused. “What are you talking about?”
“He came banging on my door this morning asking what he needs to do to keep you safe,” Jake explained.
“You were dreaming, weren’t you?” Aabirah asked him, rolling her eyes. “This isn’t a funny joke, Jake.”
“I’m not joking. I’ve been talking to his security company for the past few hours. Your palace is about to get a whole lot safer, Princess.”
“You’re serious,” Aabirah realized. “Daaem really did that?”
“Why would he do that?” Aabirah wondered out loud, at a loss.
Jake rolled his eyes. “I wonder.”
Aabirah looked at him. “Do you know?” she asked, surprised.
“It’s a little obvious, isn’t it? Why do young, attractive men do things for young, attractive women?”
“For sex,” Aabirah said bluntly. “But I don’t… we don’t…”
Jake shrugged. “Maybe your guy wants that to change?” He paused. “Wait… never?”
Aabirah nodded. “I wouldn’t let him.”
“Huh. Poor guy.”
Aabirah smacked him on the shoulder. “He shouldn’t have tried to buy a wife,” she snapped.
“Well, yeah. But he thought you’d agreed to it, didn’t he? Must’ve been a shock for him. I’m just saying!” Jake laughed, holding up his hands in surrender. “Stop looking like you wanna eat me!”
“Stop defending him then!” Aabirah yelled. “He’s not the victim here!”
“He’s not the villain either, your father is,” Jake pointed out reasonably.
He had a point, Aabirah thought miserably. Even though she didn’t want to accept it, Jake was, infuriatingly, right.