39 | Minor Mistruths

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Two hours and three massive plates of food later, Sebastian was positive he was either going to explode or throw up all over one of the Mohammed's he had been talking politics with for the past fifteen minutes

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Two hours and three massive plates of food later, Sebastian was positive he was either going to explode or throw up all over one of the Mohammed's he had been talking politics with for the past fifteen minutes. He had given up on opening his mouth to answer any questions five minutes ago, afraid that if he did it would just end in a flurry of vomit and curse words in Farsi. A nod here and a head shake there was enough to get him through the makeshift debate anyway.

Luckily, he was saved from having to continue the conversation any longer by a tug on his sleeve. A glance to his left revealed nothing, but when he looked down, he found a little girl gazing up at him.

"Laleh wants you," she said loudly, tugging again in an attempt to get him to follow.

He took a step forward. "Where is she?"

The only answer she gave was another tug before she took off through the crowd. He almost had to jog to keep up, but he eventually found himself in front of Blair.

"Have you seen my father yet?" she asked. "I didn't see him at dinner."

Sebastian shook his head and leaned against the wall, struggling to choke back a reflux of baklava. "Can't say I have."

Blair nodded and took a deep breath before grabbing his wrist. "Come on. If we're going to find him, we're going to have to actually look. There are too many people here to just glance around and hope that he appears."

It took a little over a half hour, but Blair finally found someone who knew her father's location.

"He's downstairs with all the other men," she revealed, slipping to Sebastian's side once again. "No woman except for Noor is allowed down there, so you're on your own. Think you can manage?"

"Here's to hoping."

Blair grimaced and patted his shoulder encouragingly. "Go get 'em, tiger."

With one last glance at his fake-girlfriend, he made his way through the maze of people to the stairs that lead to the basement. As he began his descent, a mix of cigar, cigarette, and hookah smoke assaulted his senses. Soon after came the noise, a mix of unfamiliar Iranian music and news in Farsi blaring from the television. Sebastian hesitated halfway down as he waited for his eyes to adjust to the dim light, taking the opportunity to get his bearings. Much to his relief, he spotted Amir a moment later, seated on one of the many overstuffed leather chairs in the room with a drink in hand. Sebastian inched forward as he watched Amir wrap up a conversation with Mahmoud, his right hand man and Blair's former babysitter, and decided this was his chance to strike.

"Mr. Bakhtiar?"

Amir glanced up with a frown, but his expression soon changed to pleasantly surprised when he realized who was standing in front of him.

"Sebastian," he greeted, putting down his drink so he could offer his daughter's boyfriend -- as far as he knew -- a hand to shake. "I was wondering if Laleh brought you along."

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