Chapter 23

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Hana looked up with a smile as Houssam came into the library, and though he returned it, it was missing it’s usual brilliance.

“Hey,” he said as he slid into the chair across from her, “sorry I’m late.”

“No worries, I just got here myself.” She said with a reassuring smile, and as he ran his fingers through his hair a bit nervously, she raised an eyebrow. Since when was Houssam uncomfortable around her? Usually he was all talkative and laughing and making her blush.

Maybe he was just having a bad day.

“So unfortunately I only have half an hour before I have to go for class, so I wont be able to ask you everything I want. Maybe we can do some questions over email, and meet later in the week?”

“Oh,” he said, and she was surprised to hear a slight undertone of panic in his voice, “um okay.”

“You alright?” she asked after a few more seconds of awkward silence, and he hurriedly nodded.

“Yeah sorry I just,” he hesitated, his eyes roving over her face for a second before he looked back down at the table, “it’s nothing, I’m fine. Don’t worry about it.”

“Um, okay. Well is it okay if I get started on the questions?”

“Yeah go ahead.”

Hana opened the notebook that was lying in front of her, coming to a page where she had questions written neatly.

“How old were you when you first began to play basketball?”

“Um when I was three years old, my parents got me one of those Fisher Price baby basketball nets for Eid.”

Hana smiled.

“When did you realize that basketball was your dream?”

He gave a fond smile.

“Kindergarten. We were playing during lunch and I got the ball, and I just dashed down the court and made like this amazing three pointer. You should have seen it. I was the coolest five year old that you ever did see!” she laughed, and he flashed her that smile that she adored. “But it was that moment, the exhilaration in between where the ball left my hands and entered the basket that I knew, I just knew that this is what I wanted to do.”

She smiled, and jotted down some notes, before looking back up at him.

“Was there anything else you wanted to be when you grew up?”

He was silent for a few seconds, stroking a hand down his beard, before leaning forward.

“Basketball was always my top priority, but I have a secret love for cooking. So I guess I would have tried to pursue a culinary career.”

“You cook?” she asked with an impressed arch of an eyebrow, and he grinned.

“You don’t have to sound so surprised. I’m not just a pretty face you know!” he exclaimed jokingly and she shook her head, trying to stop the blush that was spreading on her cheeks.

“So do you cook often?”

“I haven’t been able to in a while, you know being on the road and all you tend to eat is from hotel room service and fast food places. So far since I’ve been home I haven’t cooked yet either, you know I just missed my mom’s food too much.”

“What’s your favorite thing to cook?”

“Oh wow that’s like asking me what my favorite food is! It’s impossible to pick just one thing, but I really enjoy…” he trailed off narrowing his eyes at her, “is this going in the article? Cause you know, its not exactly considered manly to like to cook.”

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