Chapter Sixty Six
“Aabirah?” Iman called. “Where are… There you are!” She rushed into the library.
Aabirah looked up from the book in her hands. “What is it?” she asked curiously.
“My grandfather,” Iman explained. “Adam and I need to go see him today. Will you be alright by yourself?”
Aabirah nodded immediately. “I was planning to read the day away anyway. Is this the grandfather who…”
Iman nodded. “Yes, this is the grandfather who got me and Adam together. Are you sure you’ll be alright? There’s food and we’ll leave the guards here with you.” Iman paused, trying to think of anything else she could have forgotten.
“Iman, go see your grandfather,” Aabirah urged her. “I’ll be fine.”
“They had to have a problem this weekend,” Iman muttered, clearly not listening. “Okay, okay we’re leaving then. If you need anything, call me, okay?”
Aabirah promised her friend that she’d call if she needed anything at all and, finally satisfied, Iman dashed out of the library.
Aabirah settled herself in her armchair more comfortably, off-handedly wondering what the big emergency could be. Iman never got that flustered usually.
It was the middle of the night when Adam and Iman finally returned. Aabirah had been struck with an uncharacteristic bout of insomnia and was still wide-awake when the couple came in.
“I wonder if she’s still awake,” she heard Iman muse out loud.
“Even if she is, it’s late. This isn’t the kind of thing you tell someone in the middle of the night,” Adam pointed out. “Talk to Aabirah in the morning.”
Aabirah frowned worriedly. What could Iman need to talk to her about? Quickly, she got to her feet and opened the door, poking her head out. She could see Iman standing at the top of the stairs. “I’m awake,” she said unnecessarily.
“Hey,” Iman said softly. “How much did you hear?”
“You have something to tell me? Something,” she swallowed. “Something bad.”
Iman nodded. “Do you want to wait til morning?”
Aabirah shook her head immediately. “I won’t be able to sleep,” she explained.
“Okay,” Iman nodded. “Okay, we’ll do it now.” She took a deep breath.
Adam interrupted her before she could start. “Should I leave?”
Iman looked at Aabirah. “What do you want to do?”
Aabirah shrugged. “I don’t mind. Whatever.”
Adam nodded. “I’ll leave you two alone then. I have work to do anyway.” He disappeared back down the stairs.
Iman came forward and took Aabirah’s hand. “Let’s sit down,” she suggested. “I, for one, need the extra support.” Iman’s lovely face was strained.
They sat and Iman took Aabirah’s hands in her own. “Today’s emergency,” she began. “It had something to do with you. I didn’t know it at the time – neither did Adam – but my grandfather called because he wanted Adam’s input.”
Aabirah nodded, waiting.
Iman took a few deep breaths and then kept talking. “When Adam made you safe, he had to make it known that you were important to us. Because of that, the decision for what to do in this situation rests with him. And he wants you to make the final choice.”
“Okay,” Aabirah prodded. “About what?”
“Your father, Aabirah. There are people who want to kill him – people who he cheated and tricked. Up until now, he’s been safe for the most part. But he’s been transferred soon. And while that transfer takes place, someone may try to kill him. We need to know what to do. You need to decide what you want to do,” Iman explained.
“I – what do you mean?” was all Aabirah could ask.
“We could do nothing and leave him to his fate. Or we could protect him while this transfer takes place – Adam could make sure that he reaches where he’s meant to be in one piece,” Iman explained.
“I – what aren’t you telling me?”
Iman sighed. “It’s just a stop-gap measure. Your father… he was a whistle-blower. And he’s no longer being protected by the government. It’s… it’s likely that there will be more attempts on his life.”
“So what’s the point?” Aabirah asked numbly.
“There’s another option. We could break him out.”
Aabirah stared. “Break him out of prison?!”
“Yes,” Iman said calmly.
“How?” That couldn’t be her voice. It was far too high.
Iman shook her head. “Don’t worry about the details. Just – it can be done. If you want it done.”
“But, he’s guilty,” Aabirah protested weakly.
“Yes, he is. But his sentence isn’t meant to have an execution at the end of it,” Iman pointed out gently.
Aabirah said nothing.
“You don’t have to decide right away. This transfer is happening in a week. Take a few days to think it over and then make your decision,” Iman advised.
“Why are you doing this? You don’t even know my father.”
“I know you,” Iman said gently. “And this man, odious as he is, is your family. If you want to save him, I’ll help you.”
“I don’t know,” Aabirah admitted. “I just… I don’t know.”
“Take the time,” Iman instructed. “We’ll make preparations but we don’t have to use them if you don’t want to. Don’t be hasty with this, Aabirah.”
Resentment welled within Aabirah. “I wish you hadn’t told me about this,” she whispered miserably. “I don’t know what to do. Why did you have to tell me?”
“You have the right to make this decision. Not me or Adam or anyone else. It’s your father. You need to decide whether or not he’s worth saving.”
Iman got to her feet with a little sigh. “I’m sorry.” She hugged Aabirah around the shoulders, then left without waiting for a reply.
Aabirah pulled her knees up to her chest. Mehmood Amal was in danger and she could help. Bitterly, she remembered the way he’d refused to help her. He’d made plans to save himself, save Qasim even. But Aabirah had been left to the wayside.
It would serve him right if she left him to drown. But could she live with herself if she did?