Chapter 3

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He stepped into the locker room, trying to hide the fact that he was shaking. As he emerged in view of the other players, most of whom had been playing together for years and had a good few years on him in age, they fell silent, all staring at him. He shifted his gym bag onto his shoulder uncomfortably as Coach Hoffman introduced him, and there was another awkward silence before he was suddenly swarmed by his teammates each one clasping his hand or patting him on the back, welcoming him onto their team...

"WOOT WE WON!" Freddy shouted in Houssam's ear and he laughed before pushing his friend away from him.

"Yes I know. I was there." He teased, and Freddy grinned.

"That was an amazing game winning shot by Shaykh!"

"With an amazing assist by Crewe!" Houssam added in his best announcer voice, and Freddy laughed.

"I'm going to miss you bro. You'll have to come visit me sometime!" he said as he finished packing up his locker.

"For sure! You should come by to see me too, my boys would just die if they got to meet the great Fredrick Crewe!"

Freddy beamed.

"It would be awesome to meet your boys. I feel like I already know them, though I cant pronounce their names to save my life! The only one I can remember is your brother in law Amir." He pronounced Amir's name as 'A-meer', and Houssam stifled a grin.

"Well they all know you. Two of them picked you as their starter in their fantasy games.

Freddy smiled larger.

"That's so cool!" he paused as his phone buzzed, before looking back up at Houssam. "Alright bro, my car is outside, have an amazing vacation, and keep in touch!" he said waving his phone in the air, and Houssam paused in his own packing to hug him.

"Bye Freddy!"

"See ya Shaykh!"

Houssam paused to say farewell to the rest of his teammates, promising to stay in touch with them as well, and soon he was the last one in the locker room. He pulled off his jersey, wanting to change into dry clothes before leaving, he would just shower at the hotel, when he felt a hand on his bare skin. He jumped in the air, and when he turned around, he immediately averted his gaze to the ground. Standing before him was one of the Laker girls, and their cheerleading outfits were not appropriate in the slightest. That was another thing that was hard, having to lower his gaze while trying to dribble a basketball.

"Congratulations on winning MVP!" she said in a flirtatious voice, and he nodded tensely, still keeping his eyes on the floor, and hoping she would get the message.

"Thank you." He said in a clipped tone, and to his dismay she took a step forward.

"Do you want to celebrate?" she asked, and he didn't miss the implication in her voice. He took a step backwards and immediately pulled his sweatshirt on.

"No thanks." He said, and she laid a hand on his arm.

"Come on, it will be fun." She lowered her voice, and he yanked his arm out of her grasp moving to look into his locker.

"I'm not interested." He said through clenched teeth, and she stood watching him in disbelief before letting out a huff.

"Well fine then." She stomped out of the locker room and once he had heard the door close behind her, he let out a breath. It was getting harder and harder with the way women threw themselves at him. They were brazen and had no decency or morals. Such a difference from the girls back home who always dressed and behaved modestly. He missed that. He missed the shyness that they had, and how they were proper. Those were ladies.

"Well that was harsh!"

Houssam looked up as his Coach came into view and he gave a wistful smile.

"Sorry Coach but you know I don't play like that."

Coach Hoffman put a hand on Houssam's shoulder.

"That's why I like you son. You are holding out for that special someone, you aren't going to mess around with random girls just to get your kicks. I admire you for that."

"Well you know all part of my religion."

Always a time for Dawah!

"Yes I know." The Coach said with a fond smile. At first he had been skeptical recruiting a young Muslim guy, especially with the way the media was portraying them. But hiring Houssam had turned out to be the best decision of his entire life. Houssam Shaykh was a hardworking talented young man, who was also dedicated and kind and an overall great guy. Not to mention one of the best players Coach had seen in well over twenty years. "Do you have exciting plans for the vacation?" he asked, and Houssam smiled.

"I'm going back home to catch up with the family."

"That's great son. But make sure you keep in shape! I wont have my star player getting doughy for next season!" he warned, and Houssam laughed. He was in the best shape of his entire life, and was huge. He wouldn't let this body go for anything. Well maybe for his mother's grape leaves...

"Don't worry Coach, I will exercise every day!"

"Good! Now get out of here Houssam! Go have a great break!" the Coach ordered, and Houssam smiled before hugging him and jogging out of the locker room. His bodyguard James met him in the hallway and the two of them went out to Houssam's limo. Once they were inside, he greeted the driver, who immediately turned on the radio where all of the sports stations were replaying Houssam's winning shot and his post-game interview.

"Good game today boss!" Ralph called from the driver's seat, and Houssam smiled.

"Thanks man, but it wasn't just me, I have the most awesome teammates."

Ralph smiled in the review mirror at his young boss. He was twenty years older than Houssam, yet respected him as an employer. He was never rude nor prideful, he didn't treat Ralph as if he was beneath him because he was a big star. He was respectful and kind, and after being in this business for as long as he had, Ralph knew that was rare to see in celebrities.

"Where to boss?"

"The hotel."

"You aren't going to celebrate with the others? They are going to that bar on seventy fifth."

Houssam shook his head firmly.

"Nope. I don't do that."

Ralph smiled again. That was also rare.

Houssam leaned his head against the window and closed his eyes. He was exhausted, and the only thing that was keeping him from collapsing was the excitement that this time tomorrow he would be back home. He would sleep in his old bed, get to eat his mother's cooking, get to see Yusra and Amir and Kareem and his other sisters and nieces and nephews. He would get to hang out with his Halaqah again and just kick back and be...normal.

"You know if you do this Houssam your life will never be the same again." Yusra warned and Houssam looked at her.

"I know. But I want this Yusra. This is my dream."

"I will support you in whatever you decide to do. I just want you to really think about the fact that your life and everyone in it will be on display for the world to see. You won't have a moment alone again. Always be surrounded by your handlers and fans and the paparazzi. You won't be normal again...

Boy had she been right.

Twice Upon Qadr - A Shot At Love *EDITING AND REPUBLISHING* Read this story for FREE!