Chapter 44

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The intensity of the rain was making it hard for Houssam to see out of his windshield, and after avoiding another accident, he finally pulled up to Kalthoum’s house. After leaving Hana in the backyard, he had dashed past his sister, ignoring her inquiries, and had torn away from the house, only one thing on his mind.

He had to break up with Kalthoum.

Whether he had fully realized his feelings for Hana or not was beside the point. He couldn’t continue to allow her to think they were going to be something, when in reality, he was beginning to despise the very sight of her.

As he now climbed the steps to her front porch and rang the bell, he couldn’t help but thinking how fitting it was that it was raining at a time like this. It seemed to make the whole mood more somber.

His head snapped up from his reflections as the sound of the door opening caught his attention, and as Kalthoum came into view, her eyes widened in surprise. “Houssam?” she asked, and he could hear the hint of uncertainty in her tone. “What are you doing here?”

Houssam swallowed deeply, and stepped closer, the rain pouring down his face. “I don’t know your favorite color. I don’t know your favorite book or your favorite movie.”

Kalthoum’s nose crinkled in confusion. “What are you talking about? Do you want to come in?”

He shook his head.

“This won’t take long. I don’t know what you wanted to be when you were little, I don’t know what classes you took in college, I don’t know why you chose your major. I don’t know what your favorite food is, how many kids you want, what dreams you have for the future. Kalthoum we have been talking for months, and these are all things we should have already discussed! But all you seem to want to talk about is the things I own!”

Her lips pursed tightly together, and she glared at him. “Did Hana tell you to say that?”

“This isn’t about Hana!” he exclaimed, running a hand through his damp hair, “this is about me and you. And how we are not compatible in the slightest. We were both blinded and driven by things that shouldn’t matter in Islam. We went after things like wealth and beauty, instead of Deen and kindness. Love and compassion and mercy. That’s why we will never work out.”

Her eyes widened in a panic.

“What!? Are you dumping me!?” she demanded, and he sighed.

“Technically we were never engaged. So no, I am not dumping you. But I am going to say that it’s not working out for me.” Even as the words left his mouth, he had to suppress a smile for he felt as if he had had a weight lifted off of him that had been crushing him.

“Doesn’t matter which way you say it, you are dumping me! No Houssam. You don’t get to dump me! I dump you!” she exclaimed hotly, and he shrugged.

“Whatever helps you through this. I am sorry to have taken up so much of your time.”

He turned his back, intent on getting in his car, and going back to Hana as fast as possible, but Kalthoum’s voice stopped him.

“You’re really leaving me? Just like that?”

He turned back around.

“If you can tell me, right this second what my favorite food is, I’ll stay.”

It was quiet as she just stared at him, and he could tell the moment she became resigned, for her shoulders slumped, and she gave a long sigh.

“Fine. Go. But do you think she is right for you? She is too quiet and demure. She can’t stand up for herself. How will she handle your fame? She already was a mess by what the tabloids printed about the two of you when your relationship was only speculation. She won’t be able to handle it when they are after her all the time.”

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