Chapter 37

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“I’ll have the grilled steak with some mashed potatoes and squash with some fruit on the side.” Houssam said handing his menu back towards the waiter. Ahmad grinned, and took a sip from his cup.

“In training again bro?”

Houssam gave a forced laugh.

“Yeah well the season starts in two months and I already let myself go thanks to my Mom’s cooking. My Coach would have a heart attack if he knew how little I’ve been to the gym.”

Everyone around the table laughed.

“Well you were at the gym today weren’t you?” Kalthoum asked with a bat of her eyelashes, and Houssam resisted to roll his eyes. Had she always been this obnoxious or was it just because he was annoyed that everyone else seemed to get ten times more annoying?

Especially her and her flirtatiousness.

“Uh yeah Alhamdulillah I was there for a few hours.”

“That’s great man, every day I say I am going to hit the gym, and every day I, well, don’t.” Ahmad said, and Laila laughed.

“It’s okay habibi, I like you the way you are.” She said, and Houssam internally rolled his eyes. He just was not in the mood for this!

“Hey next time I go I’ll hit you up to come with me.” Houssam said, and Ahmad nodded.

“Alright awesome. Thanks bro! Hopefully you won’t wear me down?”

Houssam gave a genuine laugh.

“My workout regime is pretty intense. I do an hour on the treadmill at a fifteen percent incline, bench press two forty for thirty minutes, go fifty rounds on the punching bag, and then swim a few laps in the pool to cool down.”

Ahmad stared at Houssam like he had grown another head.

“Woah. I’m still trying to make it an hour on the treadmill at a zero percent incline.” He said, and Hossam laughed.

“It’s okay bro, it took me a few years to be able to do this without dying. Seriously the first time Coach put me through it, I was trying to convince Child Protective Services that I was being abused, but they said they couldn’t do anything since I was twenty.”

Everyone laughed again

“Well it shows how hard you work on your body.” Kalthoum said, and an awkward silence fell over the table, Ahmad staring at his glass, Laila looking at her nails trying not to smile, and Houssam’s face a mask of utter mortification. Kalthoum on the other hand didn’t notice that there was anything wrong, and started going on about the dessert cart. Soon Ahmad pulled Laila away to go and look at the view from one of the windows, and Kalthoum looked up at Houssam with a smile.

“So how was your day?”

He bobbed his head a bit absently.

“Alhamdulillah it was okay. You?”

“Good, good. Just did some schoolwork.”

“Oh yeah,” Houssam said, “How is that going?”

“Well I’m off duty tonight, otherwise none of us would get dessert.” She said with a laugh, and Houssam actually laughed a real laugh at that.

“Maybe I could use your to help me with my meal plans when I’m in training. I’m pretty bad with that.” He admitted, and she smiled.

“I’d like that.”

He smiled back at her, nervously fiddling with his spoon.

“So tell me something?” she asked, and he squared his shoulders.

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