Chapter Sixty Four
Aabirah shook her head again. She cleared her throat hard. “I believe you already,” she croaked past the lump in her throat.
“Y-You do?” Daaem whispered, sounding delighted.
She nodded. “I do.”
“Oh.” He grinned. “Then why are you having nightmares?” he added, a little frown of confusion appearing on his forehead.
Aabirah resisted the urge to lean forward and kiss it. Colour came to her cheeks at the urge.
“My nightmares are about losing you,” she admitted. And they’d just been given new fuel. He’d almost died! He’d tried to kill himself and she’d never even known. The mere thought made Aabirah shiver.
Daaem stared at her and she ducked her head, embarrassed. “I know it’s silly.”
“I – you’re worried about losing me?” he repeated in a strangely hoarse voice.
Aabirah just nodded.
“I didn’t know you cared about me that much,” Daaem whispered.
“I love you,” Aabirah reminded him. “You know that.”
“I love you too,” he replied absently, sending a thrill through her. “But that much? Enough to be having nightmares?”
The confusion in his voice made Aabirah’s heart ache. “I love you,” she told him earnestly. The next words were hard to say but she was determined to get them out. “More than any other person. Ever.”
Daaem’s mouth opened but no sound came out. Anxiety curled in Aabirah’s belly. Had she said too much?
The brilliant smile that made its way across Daaem’s face was enough to convince her that she’d done the right thing.
“I’m not going to leave you,” he told her firmly. “Never, as long as I can help it.”
Warmth filled her and Aabirah knew the smile on her own face was bright enough to rival Daaem’s. “Good,” she said, satisfied and warm.
A moment later, her stomach let out a rumble and she blushed scarlet. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t eat much earlier.”
Daaem was shaking with laughter. “Do you want to go back in?”
Aabirah shook her head. “I’m surprised no one came to kick us out, we’ve been sitting in this parking lot for so long.”
Daaem shrugged. “I’ve come here a lot. They like me. So where do you want to go then?”
“Take me home,” Aabirah said without thinking.
Daaem nodded and switched on the car.
Aabirah drifted while they drove, still thinking about all that Daaem had told her and how differently things could have gone. She shuddered. Thank God he hadn’t succeeded!
The car rolled to a stop and Aabirah looked up in surprise. They were at Daaem’s apartment!
“Daaem? What are we doing here?”
Daaem looked confused. “We’re home.” Then he blushed. “And you don’t live with me. Sorry, you just said to take you home and…” he trailed off.
And he’d brought her to his home. Aabirah smiled. “I don’t have any clothes here,” she said sorrowfully.
“Right,” Daaem agreed. “I’ll take you back.” He’d refused to call it home, Aabirah realized later.
“Why are we here again?” Daaem asked crankily as he walked into yet another jewellery store.
“I told you,” Adam said calmly. “I want a gift for Iman and I want a second opinion.”
“You know that every single one of these stores would be happy to show you a selection at home, right? There’s no need for us to traipse around like this.”
“It’s a surprise,” Adam reminded him.
“Still,” Daaem said sulkily.
Adam scowled. “Stop complaining, you’re making me take longer.” He bent forward to examine a necklace.
Bored, Daaem made a circuit of the store, scanning the various displays. One in particular caught his eye and he paused in front of it. It was beautiful and it would suit Aabirah’s slender hand perfectly.
“Can I help you with something, sir?” An assistant was hovering near him.
Daaem pointed. “That,” he said. “I’d like to purchase it.” He handed over his bank card.
The woman nodded immediately, taking it from him. “Yes, sir. And congratulations,” she smiled.
Daaem found Adam a few minutes later. The other man had a mildly irritated look on his face. “How can it be so hard to find a decent piece of jewellery.” He frowned in confusion as the sales assistant handed Daaem a tiny bag. “What’s in there?”
Daaem refused to answer.
“Fine,” Adam sighed. “Keep your secrets. It’s time to pray. Are you coming?”
Adam’s eyes widened. “Alright, let’s go,” was all his friend said. But Adam couldn’t hide the grin on his face.
Daaem fought the urge to scowl and hide his face. “Wipe that smirk off your face,” he muttered.
“Stop being so prickly,” Adam scolded. “You’re like a cactus.”
“Better than being a weed,” Daaem shot back.
“A weed?” Adam repeated, outraged.
“I’ll show you a weed,” Adam said under his breath. “Little brat!”
An hour later, Adam couldn’t hold it back any longer. “How long has this been going on?” he demanded while they waited for their lunch.
Daaem burst out laughing. “You make it sound so sordid,” he spluttered out. “I’m praying, not taking drugs!”
Adam snorted. “Don’t avoid the question. When did this start?”
Daaem sighed. “You’re not gonna let this go, are you?”
“I… talked to my father. He explained some stuff and…” Daaem shrugged. “It made sense.”
“Congratulations,” Adam said softly. “How do you feel?”
Daaem thought about it. “Peaceful,” he decided finally. “It’s nice,” he admitted. “Really nice.”
Adam grinned so wide Daaem could see his gums.
“I’m not – I haven’t done much,” he felt the need to inform his friend. “It’s not like I’m all holy now.”
“You’re trying, aren’t you?”
“Well, yeah,” Daaem agreed.
“And you’re happy about it?”
“Yeah,” Daaem repeated in a small voice. He was happy about it.
“Then I’ll be as happy as I like,” Adam declared.
“You’re over-excitable,” Daaem muttered. “Can we change the subject, please?”
“Sure,” Adam agreed.
Daaem narrowed his eyes in suspicion. That had been too easy.
“What did you buy earlier?” Adam continued.
Daaem groaned. “Let’s go back to talking about religion.”
The waiter arrived then with their food and Daaem took advantage of the distraction to stuff his face. “I’m eating,” he said obnoxiously.
“I’ll find out eventually,” Adam warned him.
He would, especially if Daaem ever worked up the courage to present his purchase to the woman it was meant for. But for now, it was his secret and Daaem would keep it that way until he was ready.