Chapter Fifty Five
Daaem had thrown himself into work, unable to find anything else to distract himself with.
Ironically, he’d accomplished more in the past few weeks than he had for months. It seemed his divorce would have one plus – he’d taken over the lion’s share of work in increasing amounts as the days had gone by and though his father was still waiting in the wings should Daaem once again need help, the days of Ameer running things were once again coming to an end.
He felt… sure, in a way that he hadn’t in a very long time. Sure that he would be able to handle what was thrown at him. It was nice to have some semblance of surety back. He’d been floundering for so long…
Aabirah still haunted his thoughts more often than not but Daaem knew that that would take begin to fade in the end. He hadn’t gotten his goodbye – just filled out divorce papers. But seeing Aabirah’s signature on the crisp white pages had let it hit home. She wasn’t coming back. She didn’t want to come back.
Daaem needed to let her go now. He had no claim to her any longer.
Aabirah couldn’t stop thinking about the phone in her bedside drawer. She’d never used it – had made Jake call and arrange for the papers she’d signed to be picked up and taken away.
She couldn’t leave the phone alone though. She’d never called, never even attempted to. But Aabirah had lost count of the times that she’d pulled it out to just sit with it clasped in her fingers until she fell asleep.
It was comforting to know that she could reach out to Daaem whenever she wished. That she could make the decision. She didn’t have to wait for him – she couldn’t wait for him, in fact. It was entirely in her hands.
If only she could use her new found power and make a decision.
She was afraid, Aabirah realized. Afraid that he wouldn’t answer, that he’d be angry. Most of all, she was afraid that one call wouldn’t be enough.
Every night, she dropped the phone back into her drawer unused. She still wasn’t ready.
Jake had no patience for her fears and nerves and had snapped at her more than once that she was being ridiculous, to just call the man and put him – and Jake – out of their collective misery.
Why Jake felt any kind of misery over the situation, he’d refused to answer.
Aabirah came home from work one night feeling miserable. She’d been lying to her co-workers from the moment they’d met and it was beginning to wear. Not least because she liked the two of them and would have liked to make some new friends.
But how could she? They would never know anything of actual meaning about her. No one would – it was too dangerous, according to Jake. They’d broken numerous laws and it would only take one person’s moment of impulse to land them both in cells.
Aabirah sighed miserably. She just wanted someone to talk to – someone other than Jake, who was wonderful but too blunt for her current mood and still at work besides.
She wanted to talk to Daaem. She wanted to talk to him and have him pay attention and be snarky in the way that he’d started becoming. She wanted to not have to hide away her past because he already knew it already. She wanted to talk to someone who knew her, someone she didn’t have to constantly explain away the more confusing parts of herself away for.
Fragments of Adam’s letter came back to her as she wrenched her drawer open and Aabirah stopped, shoulders slumping dejectedly.
Daaem is attached to you, to a ridiculous degree. He’s been trying to find a way to say goodbye to you ever since you left and I’m helping him only because he can’t seem to let go of this.
She believed him. Adam had no reason to lie to her. Which meant… which meant that by making this call, she was going to hurt Daaem. How could she do that? She couldn’t lie to herself and pretend that a single call would be enough.
She couldn’t call him.
She couldn’t be that selfish.
It would be cruel to call him, to make him listen to her and then to deny him the goodbye that he’d been wanting. She shouldn’t call.
She should pick up the phone and throw it in the trash and remove the temptation and she especially shouldn’t call.
Aabirah scowled viciously, unreasonably furious. Why had Adam had to butt in and contact her? Why couldn’t she have just been left alone? She’d run across countries to leave her old life behind but still, it clung to her. And she didn’t have the energy to cut any more ties.
She was tired and she was miserable and she couldn’t do it by herself. She’d been lying to herself when she’d thought that she could exist in isolation. She couldn’t and more, she didn’t want to.
Aabirah coughed out a laugh, shaking her head. She’d fought so hard to get her solitude and now she didn’t want it any more. All that effort and misery and in the end, she didn’t even want what she’d paid for.
She threw herself out of bed, grabbed the phone and ran into the kitchen, holding it over the trash can. She was going to throw it away. She was! She wasn’t selfish and she wasn’t weak and she didn’t need him.
Her hand refused to open.
Aabirah stood numb over the trash can for what felt like eons before finally giving up, backing herself into the wall and sagging against it.
Why couldn’t she let go? Why wasn’t she strong enough to just let go like she’d wanted to for so, so long? Why?!
Later, she picked herself up and went into the tiny bathroom to wash her face, thankful that Jake hadn’t been home to witness her breakdown.
Then, deliberately, she picked up the phone. She was selfish and she was weak. There was no longer any point pretending otherwise.
Aabirah took a deep breath and made her call.