Chapter Sixty Two
“Daaem will be here in fifteen minutes,” Iman announced happily.
Aabirah’s head snapped up and her journal tumbled from her lap down to the floor. “What?” she gasped. “Why didn’t you warn me?”
“We weren’t sure he’d agree,” Iman admitted. “I didn’t want to get your hopes up.”
Aabirah looked down at herself and immediately felt frumpy. “I need to change!” she exclaimed. “I need to, oh why didn’t you tell me earlier!”
Iman reached out and grabbed her by the shoulders. “You look beautiful and all you need to do is go downstairs and take some deep breaths. It’s gonna be fine.”
“But,” Aabirah cast a longing look at her wardrobe.
“Come on,” Iman steered her out the door. “Let’s go.”
It had been… ridiculously easy. That night, Aabirah lay in bed and marvelled at how well things had gone. She’d expected to feel shy or awkward but it had been… wonderful.
She sighed happily and hugged her pillow close.
The next morning, Iman took one look at her and grinned. “Lovesick,” her friend announced happily. “Completely lovesick.”
Aabirah blushed. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” she complained. “I feel like a thirteen year old with her first crush.”
“You’re acting like one too,” Iman informed her. “Like I said, lovesick.”
“But why now? We’ve been talking to each other for months now, it’s not like he’s a stranger I just bumped into.”
“This was the first time you’ve seen him in months,” Iman pointed out.
Aabirah grumbled wordlessly.
“Wait…” Iman said slowly. “Back up a bit – you’ve been talking to each other for months?”
Aabirah nodded and explained about the phone Adam had given her. “He meant it for me to say goodbye but… I used it differently,” she admitted, shamefaced.
“Why didn’t he tell me? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I thought you knew. I expected Adam would have told you.”
“He didn’t say a word,” Iman said crossly. “I can’t believe it. Why am I matchmaking if you’ve been talking to each other for months now?”
Aabirah squirmed. “I was scared,” she told her knees. “I don’t – why does he love me? It makes no sense!”
Iman sighed. “I really wish I could punch your father,” she muttered. “Aabirah, I don’t know why Daaem loves you, that’s something only he can say. But it does make sense. You’re perfectly lovely.”
“I know I’m pretty, but-”
“That’s not what I meant,” Iman said immediately. “You are pretty… but when people fall in love, they fall in love with a soul, not what it looks like on the outside.”
Aabirah said nothing.
“Ask him,” Iman instructed, lifting Aabirah’s cellphone and dangling it between them.
“Ask him!” Iman insisted. “Or I will.”
Aabirah’s eyes widened in horror and she snatched the phone back. “Fine. I’ll ask him.”
She typed quickly and dropped the phone down immediately.
Most likely, Daaem would reply explaining that he didn’t love her. Aabirah sighed miserably.
The phone’s message alert went off. Aabirah made no move to check it.
“Aren’t you going to look at it?” Iman asked.
“No,” Aabirah replied simply.
“Aabirah,” Iman sighed. “You’re going to make me die of curiosity.” She got to her feet and squeezed Aabirah’s shoulders. “It’s not going to be bad, I promise. Try to read it before I go insane, okay?”
“Where are you going?” Aabirah frowned. “You haven’t finished eating yet.”
“I’m going to go take a shower so I don’t nag you to death or steal your phone to read out whatever adorable message Daaem’s no doubt written to you.”
“O-kay,” Aabirah laughed. “Bye then.”
An hour later, Aabirah finally picked up her phone and opened the message, ready to get it over with. Iman had come and gone again, pausing to ask Aabirah several questions about what kind of desserts she liked and then disappearing into her large kitchen.
‘I don’t know if it’s for one thing exactly’ Daaem had written. ‘I love a lot of things about you. There are things that you do that would irritate me if someone else did them but with you… they’re cute.’
Aabirah’s cheeks burst into flame.
‘Oh,’ was all she could think. He does love me.
“Daaem, would you like me to give you and your cellphone some time alone?” Ameer asked politely.
Daaem jumped and guiltily stuffed his phone back in his pocket. “Sorry,” he muttered.
“Are you done?”
“Yeah,” Daaem nodded. “What were you saying?”
Ameer repeated his question irritably and Daaem forced himself to pay attention.
When his phone chimed moments later, he couldn’t stop himself from grabbing it.
“Daaem, what on Earth has gotten into you?” Ameer demanded, scandalized.
“It’s for work,” Daaem lied feebly.
“On a Sunday afternoon?” Ameer asked, unconvinced.
“It’s Aabirah,” Daaem admitted.
Ameer immediately looked concerned. “Why didn’t you say so in the beginning? Is she alright? What’s wrong?”
“She’s fine,” Daaem hurried to assure his father. “She – I – she asked me why I loved her. And… I told her.”
“Really?” Ameer asked, amused. “Well, congratulations, son.”
“She hasn’t replied.” Daaem stuck a thumb in his mouth and began to bite idly at it.
Ameer batted his hand away from his mouth. “Stop it,” he admonished.
“And stop stressing,” Ameer continued. “It’s going to be alright.”
“Then why hasn’t she replied?” Daaem asked grumpily.
“Perhaps she doesn’t have her phone glued to her hand,” Ameer teased.
Daaem was unamused. He reached for his phone again and Ameer grabbed his hand. “Daaem, take a deep breath and calm down,” his father instructed.
There was a chime from Daaem’s pocket.
Ameer sighed and let go of his hand. “Go ahead,” he said tolerantly. “Check the phone.”
Aabirah had replied. Daaem felt himself grinning so hard his cheeks ached. He couldn’t believed how happy a simple four word text had made him.
‘I love you too,’ she’d sent.
Daaem looked up at Ameer. “She said it back,” he crowed, feeling giddy. She loved him too!