Say Something – Part II

sahil

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Say Something
~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sanam worked quickly, cleaning the last table before moving on to other things. It had been a long, hard day, but she was almost done. Her dhaba had been very busy, and she had spent the day feeding tons of people with the food she had prepared with her own hands. Nothing beat the rush of hearing compliments on a well-cooked dish. And of course, as always, her pudinay ki chutney had been a huge hit.

If it had been a normal day, she would have been well-satisfied. But there were other things . . . worries pulling at her right now. Continuing to work, she began to put the seats up for the night, her movements now quick. Tomorrow the dhaba would be closed, and she could finally get some much needed rest . . . if she was able to. Before her thoughts could turn in that other, much darker direction, she forcibly brought them back and focused on the task of packing everything up for the night.

There was a soft sound behind her, and she froze, wondering what it could be. No one should be here besides her. There was the quiet sloshing of liquid and then the scratch of what sounded like . . . she whirled around, her eyes widening at the man standing there with a lighted match in his hand.

“What are you doing?” she yelled incredulously. “How can you . . .?” she ran towards him, hoping to stop him before a catastrophe could occur.

Gazing silently at her, he dropped the match.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

. . . One Week Ago . . .

“Sanam Aahil Raza Ibrahim!” Seher’s voice rang through the house. “You better get your behind out of bed.” Seher came in and began to open the curtains. Staring down at the lump that was her sister, she tugged at the blanket covering her head. “Get up!”

Sanam grumbled and pulled the blanket back over her head.

“Get up!” Seher ordered. “Stop being a coward,” she continued. “How long are you going to run away from the truth? Do you ever plan on going back to your real life?”

“What are you blathering about, Seher?” Sanam cried out, sitting up to glare at her twin. “You know this one day off a week is precious to me. I have been working so hard. Please, just let me sleep!” she growled, her voice going high-pitched on that last bit.

“Since when did you start sleeping so late?” Seher asked, unperturbed by her sister’s displeasure.

Sanam sat frozen, caught up in the memory of another voice begging her to let him sleep a little bit longer.

“Sanam?” Seher asked, her voice growing soft.

Sanam shook that memory off grimly, turning her mind to more important things. “Anyways, what do you need so early in the morning? Why are you disturbing me?”

“He spent the entire night outside, Sanam,” Seher said somberly. “He’s still there.”

Sanam’s face twisted at that revelation. She didn’t want to think about the man sitting outside her door. She didn’t want to think about seeing him at her dhaba yesterday. And how he’d sat there, gazing at her all day. She didn’t want to think about her failed marriage.

“How long are you going to make him suffer?” Seher asked directly. “Either forgive him or divorce him. Why are you forcing the both of you to remain in this limbo?”

Sanam turned her face away, not wanting to reveal the pain that twisted her face at Seher’s use of the word divorce. She didn’t want to divorce Aahil, but she also didn’t know if she could forget all she had suffered during their marriage.

“Look,” Seher began in a reasoning tone, “He’s atoning for his mistakes. He has come down here every month since we shifted back here. He’s stayed for days at a time trying to get you to talk to him, and you just ignore him every single time.”

Sanam looked at her with an obstinate look on her face.

“He paid off all of Badi Ammi’s debts in Punjab!” Seher muttered. “He bought your dhaba plot back. You took that back from him to make Badi Ammi happy. Look, Badi Ammi treats him like a son. She’s accepted the house he bought us. He’s even sorted out the mess that Tanveer made of our family’s estate and he’s returned what was rightfully ours.”

Sanam shrugged, remaining mute.

Seher sighed heavily. “He even started seeing a therapist to work out the issues of being raised by a psychotic bit** and being married to a psychotic witch. He has been working through all the years he spent mentally beating himself up for having killed his father. He’s changed. I swear I can see the change in him! Why can’t you? Why can’t you just move on?” Seher demanded.

“Because my heart still hurts!” Sanam shouted back at her, unable to keep quiet any longer. “The wounds I suffered while living in that house, without his protection, are still green. And you want me to go back? You want me to live pretending that nothing happened? I can’t just stop hurting,” she said in a more controlled tone. “I can’t just forget everything. I can’t just move on, Seher!” Her voice was growing hysterical as she practically yelled these words at her sister.

Seher grabbed Sanam by the shoulders and shook her out of her hysteria. “You have to, Sanam,” Seher said. “It has been a year since we came back. A year since he has been coming down here with no encouragement from you. You have to make a decision. You can’t just keep living like this. You love that man! There is nothing keeping you apart! His psycho mother is dead. His witch of a wife has been arrested and is currently awaiting sentencing for her crimes. It wasn’t entirely his fault . . . we’ve agreed on that, and you still won’t go back to him.”

“Why don’t you just leave me alone?” Sanam asked, staring up at her sister. “Why do you care so much whether I go back to him?”

“I care,” Seher replied, sitting down next to her sister.

“Why?” Sanam fairly growled at her.

“Because I can’t be move on with my life, if you don’t move on with yours!” Seher cried out in frustration.

Sanam’s eyes widened in surprise. “What does my life have to do with yours?” she finally asked.

“I am part of the reason why you’re here and not in your real home,” Seher said in a pained voice. “I know you’ve forgiven me for my actions before we met, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to atone for what my greed did to your relationship to Aahil. I was the reason the rot set in in the first place.”

“Seher . . .,” Sanam began uncertainly. She reached out a hand of comfort to her sister.

“No, Sanam, you can’t just make it better,” Seher snapped at her, pulling away. “He lost faith in you because of how I acted while I was playing you! When you came back, his treatment of you made you lose faith in him. How is it fair that you forgive me so easily, but he has to suffer for my crimes? How can I just go on with my life, marrying Rehan and having babies, if you can’t live happily ever after? I’m not that brazen.” She stood up and stared down at her sister, hoping that Sanam would understand this time, even if she hadn’t understood the last 10 times they had had this conversation.

“Seher, I can’t just forget what’s in here,” Sanam repeated for the 11th time, placing a hand over her heart.

“But he’s hurting, too, Sanam. Don’t forget that.”

“I haven’t, Seher!” Sanam snapped back.

“He’s going to le-ave, Sanam,” Seher said bleakly, her voice breaking on those words. She turned and moved towards the door, but stopped in front of it, her eyes trained on the closed door. “At some point, even the most ardent of pursuers give up the chase if they get no encouragement. If you want to finish this for once and for all . . . divorce him. Let all of us move on with our lives.” She opened the door and ran out of the room.

Sanam stared after her twin, shocked into an immobile state. Her heart filled with anxiety at the thought of him leaving forever. He had been there all night . . . outside their doors. He was so close that she could reach out and touch him. She didn’t want to move on, but she did want her heart to stop hurting. But if he was leaving . . . she had trusted him, this time, to keep on coming back until she was ready. But if he didn’t return?

Shooting up off the bed, she raced out the door. Getting to the front window, she stared outside, looking frantically for him. She was just in time to see him walking away. And for a moment, that image of him in gray tugged at the back of her mind, tugging at some memory. She ruthlessly pushed it aside and forced herself to turn away.

It seemed that she would have to leave it up to fate.

. . . Last Night . . .

“Sanam, Aahil bhai is missing,” Rehan said somberly.

“What do you mean?” Sanam gasped, the breath leaving her body at the thought that something had happened to him. She fell to the bed, her legs unable to support her.

“He’s been gone for a week. We’ve been looking everywhere, but the police have found no trace of him. We found his car abandoned by the side of the road and there was blood on the steering wheel.”

“Blood,” Sanam squeaked out.

“Not a lot of blood,” Rehan quickly said. “It was after his last trip to Punjab to see you. He was coming back home. Something must have happened.”

“What are the police doing?”Sanam demanded. “And why didn’t you tell me that he was missing a week ago?”

“There was nothing that you could do,” he said simply. “The police are looking,” he continued, “But their view is that he’s an adult male, and he may have just decided to take off. Everyone knows the kind of history Aahil Raza Ibrahim had, and they think he might have just gone back to his carefree ways.”

“That makes no sense,” Sanam argued, outraged beyond belief. “How can they think that? People don’t just get up and leave.”

“I’ll keep on them,” Rehan said with a worried sigh. “We’ll find him.”

“Keep me updated, Rehan,” Sanam urged the other man.

“Would you really care, Sanam?” Rehan asked after a surprised pause.

“He’s my husband, Rehan,” Sanam said in a biting tone.

“Oh, I know that,” he murmured. “I just thought that you had forgotten it.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sanam froze, her heart stuck in her throat. She waited for her dhaba to burn for the second time, wondering what she had done to deserve this crazy man in her life. “What are you doing, Aahil?” she cried, racing towards him.

He didn’t respond, only standing there and looking at her.

She quickly pulled him away from the dhaba, knowing that it would go up in flames at any moment. She waited a beat, but there was nothing. She stared at Aahil and then back to the dhaba.

He stared back at her quizzically.

Striding forward, she stared down at the match, lying in a puddle of liquid. It had gone out! Turning back, she raced to Aahil and grabbed him by the wrist. “Just what do you think you’re doing?” she yelled at him, angered beyond reason. She shook his arm when he didn’t respond.

“I’m sorry for the scare,” he responded, staring at the dhaba. “I’ve been staying at that hotel over there,” he said, pointing behind him. “Do you know it?”

“I’ve never stayed there, if that’s what you mean.”

“Horrible place,” he responded. “But I’ve been having these dreams all week of burning down this dhaba. They’ve been driving me crazy.”

“So, you thought that you would just come on over and burn it down?” she asked, her face showing her incredulity.

“Well, yeah,” he replied, his eyes focused on the structure. “I don’t know what I have against this structure, but it was really getting on my nerves.”

Allah miya, pe gaya panga. You had crazy dreams, so you just poured gasoline and lit my dhaba on fire? And to add to your stupidity, you threw the match and then just stood there! You’re damn lucky that it didn’t light up. And you’re damn lucky that you didn’t burn up with it! I would have killed you myself if you had succeeded, Aahil Raza Ibrahim!”

“That makes . . . no sense whatsoever. And anyways, that’s not gasoline,” he said, pointing to the puddles on the floor.

“What?”

“Where would I get a gasoline canister at 12 at night?” he asked. “I didn’t plan this out, you know. It was a spur of the moment thing.” He sauntered over and sat in one of the chairs still in its place. Leaning back, he seemed to relax and await her response.

“Then what are they?” she asked, incensed beyond belief at his insouciant attitude. She stalked over to the table and stood over him, crossing her arms across her chest.

“It’s just water,” he replied, tilting his head back. He threw her a rakish smile. “I was hoping that I could trick my brain out of this crazy loop it’s been in.”

“You wanted to make your brain happy,” Sanam began, “which you seem to be treating as a separate entity from you. And you thought throwing water on my pristine dhaba and pretending that it was gasoline would make your pea-sized brain happy?! You almost gave me a heart attack!” She grabbed him by the collar. “What is wrong with you?”

“Calm down, woman,” he said irritably, pulling her hands off of his collar. He stood up and shook his head at her in disbelief. When she made a move to lunge at his innocent collar once more, he grabbed her hands and held them prisoner in his, folding her arms behind her back so she couldn’t do any further damage to his clothes. They were almost in an embrace, yet neither one of them seemed to notice. “Unbelievable. Did I know that the owner of this dhaba kept such late hours? I didn’t know you would be here, did I? If you were like a normal person, there would have been no problems. The water would have dried up by morning. My brain would be happy. And you would have been none the wiser. Of course, it’s your fault.”

~*~*~*~
Say something, I’m giving up on you
I’ll be the one, if you want me to
Anywhere I would’ve followed you
Say something, I’m giving up on you
~*~*~*~

“Aahil, you,” she began threateningly, lunging at him with her body. He grunted as she hit him in the chest with her head. Wrapping a hand around the back of her head, he held her struggling body close to his, so that she couldn’t do any further damage.

“All I did was clean your dhaba up a little,” he muttered. “You would think from how you’re acting that someone actually burned it down!”

“Someone did!” she shrieked at him, her voice muffled by his shirt.

“What?” he asked, giving her some space so that she could back up, putting some space between the two of them.

“I said someone did,” she replied through gritted teeth.

“When?”

“Two years ago,” she replied.

“Why?”

“Cause he was crazy,” she said, glaring balefully up at him.

“Do you know who it was? Did you report him to the police?” his tone was concerned now.

“Are you crazy?’ she asked, “Or am I? You were the crazy man who burned down my dhaba!” She pulled away from him, incensed beyond belief that he would pretend like this. Losing her dhaba like that had been the most traumatic thing she had suffered up until that point, not counting the loss of her parents.

“I don’t think so!” Aahil protested. “Just because I had some issues with my memory does not mean that you can pin everything on me.”

“You don’t remember burning down my dhaba?” Sanam asked incredulously.

“I seem to have some holes in my memory,” he confessed suddenly, looking around. “I had an accident last week.” He rubbed absently at his forehead, where she could see bruises and a bandage.

“Holes?” Sanam said with a gasp. “You don’t remember anything? Do you remember me?”

He shrugged his shoulders.

“You don’t remember me? That’s two years of your life, you don’t remember!” Sanam yelled at him. She pushed him back down in the chair and sat across from him. “Why aren’t you more worried?”

He shrugged his shoulders once more.

She took a deep breath. “Do you know who you are?”

“I’m Aahil Raza Ibrahim,” he promptly replied.

“Well, how do you know that?” she demanded.

“It was on the ID in my wallet,” he replied, helpfully taking it out to show her.

“And you didn’t think to investigate further?” Sanam gazed at his quietly, her eyes moving over his face carefully. There were no lines of anxiety. How could someone act so carelessly about their memory loss? “About what you were doing in that car when you had your accident? Or where you were going? Whether your family was worrying about you?” she was practically yelling by the time she finished the last sentence. She hadn’t slept a wink last night. She had worried all day today, and he didn’t even care?

“Why are you shouting?” he asked, leaning back in his chair. “Why do you care so much?”

“I . . .I just do,” Sanam replied brusquely. “Did you even think that your family might be worried about you? Did you ever think that you might have a wife out there looking for you?”

“I doubt it,” he replied, his answer immediate and sure.

“Why are you so sure?” Sanam asked softly, irrationally hurt by his refusal to believe that he had a wife.

“Wouldn’t she be looking for me?” he asked. “Wouldn’t she have found me? Beyond that, if I was on a trip, wouldn’t she have been with me? I mean, what kind of marriage do we have that she isn’t with me on a trip? As for family, same goes. I’ve been here at this hotel for a week, using my own credit card and no one has come to look for me. No, I don’t think I have anyone in the world. If I did, they would have found me by now.”

“Maybe they’re just mad at you,” Sanam said weakly.

“Ah well, if I’m such a jerk that my entire family is mad at me,” Aahil said. “I’d rather not know them. It’s better to just start things over with a clean slate.”

~*~*~*~
And I am feeling so small.
It was over my head,
I know nothing at all
~*~*~*~

She stared at him, unsure of how to go on.

He smiled at her, and her heart clenched at the innocent joy on his face. From the beginning, Aahil had so many anxieties . . . so many worries. The worry about killing his father . . . the worry about whether he was good enough for her . . . the worry about her returning his feelings . . . about her jilting him at the altar . . . his second wife. The list just went on. And now . . . there was nothing. And you could see the difference in his face.

“I have a husband,” she finally began. “I don’t hate him, but I’m not with him. Sometimes things just happen that cause a separation,” she murmured softly.

“You left him?” he asked with sudden interest, his gaze suddenly piercing into her.

“I . . . left him,” she admitted.

“See! I’m sure if your husband was lost out there . . . this man that you disliked enough to leave behind, you wouldn’t come looking,” he said, leaning back in the chair. “I doubt you’d care at all.”

“I would care! I do care!” Sanam argued hotly. “I loved that man, even when he was at his stupidest. I just couldn’t forget the degradation I faced in that love.” She shuddered at the memories of being humiliated by Tanveer and Nayi Sanam on a daily basis.

“I’m sure he couldn’t have done anything that bad,” Aahil challenged. “You women have the tendency to blow everything out of proportion.”

Sanam’s eyes widened in disbelief. “He was a mama’s boy,” she blurted out.

“You mean he loved his mother too much?” he asked with a dramatic gasp. “Please. Since when is that a problem?”

“It’s a problem when that mother is a psychotic bitch,” Sanam said bitterly. “That woman attacked me so many times, and he was too stupid to see it. Even if she didn’t succeed in killing me, she had killed many times before. She terrorized me in that house.”

“You mean your husband knew and did nothing to protect you? That is a good reason to leave,” he murmured, seemingly disappointed in her husband’s actions.

“He never actually knew,” she admitted. “Not until she tried to kill me one last time and died instead.”

“Wait a minute, why didn’t you ever just tell him?”

“I didn’t have any proof,” Sanam retorted.

“But did you ever try?” Aahil asked. “Believe me, if my wife told me that my mother was a killer, I would definitely have been more suspicious about her.”

Sanam just shook her head in denial, adamant in her belief that he would never have believed her. “And then he married another woman while I was gone,” she muttered in a bitter undertone. “When I came back, he made me live with a sauten. She was such a witch!”

“Let’s not be so mean,” he protested. “I mean just because she was the second wife?”

“I mean literally! That woman also turned out to be a psychotic witch. I still remember those instances where his second wife locked me out of my own husband’s room! I remember those moments when his mother called me a servant or when he called me a servant.”

“God, what kind of luck does this guy have?” Aahil asked incredulously. “His mother was a sociopathic killer. His wife turned out to be a practitioner of the dark arts. What did the poor man do to deserve this?”

She stared back at him blankly. “That’s what you get out of what I just told you? You’re a man. Why would you sympathize with a woman?”

“Oh, no. I know he did wrong. If a man can’t protect his wife, he doesn’t deserve to have her. Anyways, I guess it is karma,” he continued. “You had to suffer a sauten. He blindly believed in his mother. It’s good that you left him. What man would put his beloved wife through such an ordeal?”

~*~*~*~
And I will stumble and fall
I’m still learning to love
Just starting to crawl
~*~*~*~

Sanam nodded her head in emphatic agreement. “He couldn’t even tell the difference between my twin and me,” she complained. “And my twin and I do not act alike.”

“You mean this man knew that you had a twin, and when you suddenly started acting strangely, he didn’t catch on?” Aahil asked. “He must really be an idiot.”

“Well, he didn’t actually know,” Sanam admitted. “I discovered I had a twin when Badi Ammi decided to tell us.”

Aahil leaned forward, gazing at her intently. “And then you must have told your husband, right, as soon as you found out?”

She shook her head.

“I’m confused,” he said after a pause. “You find out that you have a twin. And rather than sharing that revelation with your husband, who has been fooled by this woman, you hide it? Why?”

“I tried telling him many times,” Sanam said in a driven tone. “You don’t know how many times I told him that I had something to say. He wouldn’t listen.”

“Did you have time to say, “I have something to tell you”?” he asked skeptically. “He stood around and heard that, right?

“Ye-es,” Sanam acknowledged.

“And you couldn’t yell, “I have a twin!” in that same time span? You couldn’t just call your twin over and have her stand next to you?” he continued on skeptically.

Sanam stared at him and stubbornly shook her head.

“Unbelievable! You find out you have a twin, and you don’t tell your husband? How is that right?”

“I couldn’t just yell out, “Believe me, I didn’t jilt you! I have a twin!”” Sanam protested.

“Wait, wait, wait,” he said, swiftly pouncing on that revelation. “Your man was jilted at the altar, and even then you didn’t tell him what happened?! Because of your sister he felt like the biggest reject on his wedding day? How the hell did you guys get married then? How did his second marriage even happen? What man would take the risk of being jilted again? Your husband must really like danger.”

“We were already married,” Sanam retorted, jumping up so that she could move around and burn off some of her agitation. “He wanted to renew our vows, so that we could say ‘Qubool Hai’ with hearts full of love and the right intent.” Her voice involuntarily softened at those words, as she thought about the motive behind their second wedding. How could something so beautiful have been so horrifically ruined? “When I wasn’t there at the time of our nikah, his mother put the witch in my place and he ended up marrying someone else!”

Aahil got up and strode over to her. “Where were you in all of this?”

“I had been kidnapped and kept locked up for two weeks,” Sanam replied somberly.

He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her gently. “You were kidnapped, and your husband never knew?”

~*~*~*~
Say something, I’m giving up on you
I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you
~*~*~*~

She shook her head, unconsciously leaning into his touch. She hadn’t been this close to him since those last moments on his bed before she’d left Bhopal. She’d spent the past year avoiding him, knowing that if she let him close for even a moment . . . her heart would melt. Just like the damn thing was doing now.

“And the kidnapping wasn’t the first piece of news that came out of your mouth when you came back?” he asked, gazing into her eyes. “You hid so many truths from your husband. He didn’t know you were kidnapped. He didn’t know you were being attacked in your own home. He didn’t know you had a twin. He didn’t know about his mother or his sweet faced second wife, who was really a witch. He didn’t know about Khala or Khalu.”

She shook her head, her eyes falling away from his when she could no longer meet the questioning of his gaze. Her hands reached up and grasped at his wrists, reveling in that contact. She had missed him so much. They’d never had a chance to so much as kiss, but she had enjoyed every small contact they had had. His touch still made her blood burn.

“You told him nothing. And you expected him to trust you. Was there any trust at all in your relationship? Do you think your husband is angry with you?”

She shook her head.

“Think about it. You said that your mother-in-law tried to kill you, and that is how the truth came out?”

She nodded.

“And then what? That was the end? You left?”

She nodded again.

“Your husband’s world fell apart around him. Your anger is justified. In all of this . . . he never protected you, but you never trusted him to protect you either. And, while he was dealing with the fall out, you left him adrift . . . while you came back here, and what?”

She raised her eyebrows in question.

“You’ve been happy here, haven’t you?”

~*~*~*~
And I will swallow my pride
You’re the one that I love
And I’m saying goodbye
~*~*~*~

“I’ll tell you what I would have done,” he said, gently tugging his hands from her hold.

She pouted at the loss of contact.

He stepped back and looked at her and then back at the dhaba.

“You have a good thing going here,” he murmured. “You love it, don’t you? Even if you love your husband, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t happy here. Since there is so much to forgive . . . and you’re afraid that you can’t forget at all, maybe it’s just easier to stay here?”

She nodded after a moment of hesitation.

“Has he . . . has he tried to talk to you?”

She nodded her head again.

“Say something,” he urged. “You’ve suddenly gone all quiet.”

She moved closer to him, and gazed up into his eyes. “He’s come here to see me every month.”

Aahil nodded his head. “See, I knew it!”

Sanam tilted her head in question. “What?”

“If I loved you and if I was your husband, I would never have left you alone here!”

“Why would you go chasing after a woman who had left you?” she asked softly, her hand coming out with its own volition to grab onto his. “What would you have done?”

Aahil stared down at her hand and then looked into her eyes once more. “If I loved you, I would never have left you alone. I would have tried to make your life easier here, even though I would hope that you would come back with me. I would also work on making myself a better man for you. I would probably go see a therapist about my mommy issues,” he said with a self-deprecating laugh. “And I would try to work out the anger I felt at you for keeping the truth from me.”

“Your anger?” she shouted, her hand tightening its grip on his.

“Your hiding the truth from me not only put me in danger, but it kept you in danger,” he murmured. He jerked his hand away from her, and stepped back some more. “I would have moved on from the fact that you couldn’t trust me, but to put yourself in danger over and over . . . I would still find that hard to swallow.”

“But even then, I would know that I loved you, and I would realize something else.” He turned his eyes away, staring at the dhaba behind her. “This is the world that you want. This is the simple life you want. I wouldn’t be able to give you anything that would make it worth the effort to leave this place and your family here. Our love would definitely not be worth the effort . . . I mean, come on, if our love was enough, wouldn’t we have already moved on?” His gaze flickered towards Sanam and then moved back to the dhaba. “Maybe you never loved your husband that much.”

“I love him so much that every day without him is hard to get through,” she retorted. “But living with him was hell, too. I’m stuck here,” she admitted. “I don’t think I’ll be able to move forward.”

“Then there would only be one recourse left. At that point there really is nothing else left to do, is there? When I realized that, after one final conversation with her, I would turn to my wife,” he said hoarsely, his eyes still focused on the dhaba. “And I would tell her that she was free.”

Sanam’s mouth dropped open in shock.

“I would end this relationship and truly set her free.”

“You can’t just,” she began on a choked tone.

“Sanam Aahil Raza Ibrahim . . .,”

Her eyes widened in shock, her heart trapped in her throat.

Main tumhe talaq deta hoon (I divorce you).”

“What th–” she began.

Main tumhe talaq deta hoon (I divorce you).”

~*~*~*~
Say something…
~*~*~*~

Mai--”

“Aahil!” she yelled, stopping him from saying one word more. Racing up to him, she slapped her hand across his lips for good measure. She knew if he said that phrase one more time, they would be divorced by Islamic law. And she wouldn’t . . . couldn’t let him do that. She did not want this relationship to end. She did not want him to think that would ever be an option for them!

“What?” he asked, finally looking back into her eyes once more. He’d pulled her hand away to whisper the word.

And for the first time, she saw the tears there. She saw the heartbreak. She saw the knowledge . . . and the memories. He’d forgotten nothing. And he was breaking his heart to give her what he thought her heart wanted.

But her heart didn’t want divorce. It didn’t want this final break. And now, touching him . . . seeing him . . . hearing him . . . it didn’t want to lose him. Her heart still hurt, but the pain lessened when he was around.

Her heart wanted him, and it would no longer be a coward about it.

“Don’t,” she breathed out. “You won’t get rid of me that easily.”

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