Chapter 18

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“Mr. Shaykh! Mr. Shaykh!”

Hundreds of cameras flashed around him. Hordes of reporters yelled his name, all clamoring for his attention. His brow was sweaty, his hands were shaking. He could do this. He had to. This would be only the first of many interviews he would come to do. He had to get used to it. Suck it up and just answer their questions. It would be easy.

“Mr. Shaykh what is your thoughts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?”

His body froze, his mind went blank. His first question of his career, and they were trying to throw him for a loop…

Houssam sat on the couch in the family room, the baby asleep on him. He was so small, and Houssam was so big that Kareem barely covered even half of Houssam’s broad chest. Hana was going to be there any moment to take over, which was good because he needed to get to Jumuah prayer. He had left the door unlocked because he didn’t want to disturb Kareem and as he heard the door opening, he turned off the television and sat up expectantly.

As she entered the room, he gave her a smile, but she just looked at him a weird expression on her face.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Don’t move.” She said reaching into her purse, and his eyes widened.

“What?! Oh my god is there a bug!?”

She laughed and pulled out her camera.

“Seriously don’t move. Stay just how you are.”

Before he could say anything, she had clicked on her camera, and was crouching slightly, aiming it at the two of them.

“Don’t look at me.” She whispered, and he turned his face down to look at the baby. She looked at him for a few seconds through the lens before taking the shot. She took two more from different angles, the last a close up. She slowly lowered the camera and the two of them stared at each other for a few seconds before Hana cleared her throat and began to put her camera away.

“So you’re afraid of bugs?” she asked with a teasing smile, and he scowled at her.

“No! Of course not! You really think I, a manly man, would be afraid of bugs?! Just the way you were acting made me think there was something!”

“Okay.” She said with a grin, and he glared at her.

“I’m serious!”

“Okay!”

“Don’t go spreading rumors that I’m scared of bugs! They are just creepy.”

“I won’t!”

“I have a reputation to uphold!”

“Calm down Houssam I won’t say anything.” She said with a laugh.

“You better not!” he shifted the baby onto his shoulder, before standing up. “So I should get going. He went down about forty five minutes ago so he probably has another half hour before he wakes up. I gave him a snack before he went to sleep so you can give him lunch when he wakes up. I also changed him about two hours ago so he might need to be changed. I think that is it!” he flashed her a toothy grin, and she smiled back. They had been doing this for two weeks now, and every time one of them came to switch off they gave a little report. It was funny and cute and it made Houssam more comfortable around her.

“Okay InshaAllah.”

Once he had passed her Kareem, he ran a hand through his long hair and she turned her face away. He frowned slightly, as she had been doing that a lot lately. Did she not enjoy his company? He liked being around her. She was funny and he honestly did think she was brilliant. But as the days went on, she started to act weirder. It was as if she didn’t like him. He was trying to be extra nice to her, Houssam was not one who people didn’t like and it was an odd unsettling feeling.

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