Chapter 7

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"Stop fidgeting!" Kalthoum hissed as Hana poked her with her elbow while adjusting her scarf for what seemed like the thousandth time, and she immediately dropped her arms.

"Sorry." Hana muttered. Her eyes flickered back to where Houssam was standing across the room, and she smiled as he let out a loud laugh at something her brother said. They had been at the party for only half an hour, and already she wanted to leave. She thought she could handle being in the same room as him, but it was too hard. Especially with every single girl there pretending that they weren't staring at him as well. She couldn't blame them though. He looked magnificent.

He was wearing a black suit, which showed off his broad shoulders and strong physique. His hair was loose, which was rare for him, and while she felt kinda silly for thinking this, she imagined being able to comb her fingers through it. She imagined being able to gently touch his strong jaw and perfect cheekbones, to be able to feel his arms around her. She was only five feet six inches, but his height didn't intimidate her, on the contrary she found it unbelievably attractive...

Ok she had to lower her gaze.

As she heard his booming laugh from where she was sitting, her heart constricted painfully.

She had to get out of there.

"Where are you going?" Kalthoum asked, and she shook her head, shouldering her purse.

"I have to go."

"What!?" her friend exclaimed in disbelief. "Why!?"

Because my heart is breaking.

"I have a headache."

Before Kalthoum could ask her any more questions, she began to dash towards the doorway, yet before she could make it safely out, she heard her brother calling her.

"Yes?" she asked as she turned around to face him, and he beckoned her forward.

"Come here habibti!"

She slowly made her way towards him, every single fiber of her being aware of how close Houssam was.

"Houssam, you remember my little sister Hana right?"

She counted to three in her mind before taking a deep breath and looking up. Her heart began to beat painfully in her chest as her eyes met his, and she couldn't help but think how much handsomer he was when she was this close to him.

"AsalamuAlaikum waRahmatullahi waBarakatuhu!" he said, his mouth quirking up in a smile, and her legs trembled slightly.

"Walaikumasalaam. Welcome home." She said softly, and he grinned.

"Barak Allahu Feeki! MashaAllah Hisham your little sister is all grown up!" He exclaimed, and Hana winced internally.

"Yes she has!" Hisham said cheerfully.

"I haven't seen you since before I joined the NBA!"

Actually it was two years three months ago that he had seen her. Some impression she had made.

"What grade are you in now!?" he asked and her mouth dropped slightly.

What grade was she in now?

What grade was she in now?

WHAT GRADE WAS SHE IN NOW?!

Wow.

She really had made no impression on him in the slightest if he didn't even remember they went to the same high school at the same time! Granted he was a senior when she entered but still!

"Actually I graduated from UC Santa Barbara three years ago." She said softly, trying to keep the hurt out of her voice.

"MashaAllah! What was your major?"

"Photojournalism."

"Hana has followed your career from the start!" Hisham said, and she almost melted on the floor in mortification.

Houssam smiled and gave her a 'isn't that cute?!' look.

"Barak Allahu Feeki! Are you working?"

"I haven't gotten a job in my major yet but I still teach Islamic Studies here."

His eyes lit up in recognition.

"Oh! You used to be Yusra's partner when she did it right!? I knew I recognized your name!"

Ouch.

This conversation just kept getting better and better.

"Yeah." She said quietly, and because she didn't want to show how upset she was, she hurriedly added, "Mabrook on the championship and winning MVP."

He grinned.

"Thank you so much! Alhamdulillah I am truly blessed! You are so sweet!" he turned towards Hisham. "MashaAllah you have such a sweet little sister!"

Little.

She had to get out of there before she collapsed right there in front of him.

"Well it was nice to see you again Houssam." She turned towards Hisham. "I have to get going."

"Are you okay?" Hisham asked in concern, and she hurriedly nodded.

"Yes, I just have to prepare the lesson plan for tomorrow, I didn't start yet."

He regarded her suspiciously through narrowed eyes before nodding slightly.

"Okay. Drive safely please."

"I will."

As she turned towards him, Houssam gave her another crooked grin that hurt her more than she cared to admit.

"It was nice to see you again Hanan!"

Hanan!?

HANAN!?

She had to get out of there.

"You too. Salaam."

She didn't give him a chance to respond before rushing out of the room, getting as far as the parking lot before bursting into loud heaving sobs. She didn't know why she expected more. It was horrifyingly obvious that he merely saw her as Hisham's little sister, and just because he was best friends with her brother, didn't mean he would know anything about her. She highly doubted Hisham talked about her to him, why would he need to?

It was because of those stupid fantasies she had of him that she had expected things to be different. She had let herself think about him and that's where she had gone wrong. And that was why she was always practical and why she didn't live in a dreamland.

Because all that happened was she ended up in the middle of the Masjid parking lot, crying her heart out.

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