fifty

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People said angels weren't real. They said evil came in the guise of purity. They said innocence faltered through time until none was left. They said true love was nothing but a fairytale.

However, love changed all that, and in return, Dina became his angel, his strength, and his hope.

As Nicholas watched a tired girl beside him, he couldn't help but admire her beauty. Dina passed out when he came in. His boss was away and asked Nicholas to do some inventory checks and reorganize a heap of books. He didn't mind, of course, since it gave Nicholas an excuse to see Dina again.

Job hunting was a pain, and nothing brought him more joy than Dina and his books. When he walked in, Dina was fast asleep on the desk, a book wide open in front of her with old pages of history lulling her into a deep slumber similar to sleeping beauty. He took the seat beside her, observing the soft huffs of breath that flew from her reddened lips and the wistful aura of peace.

Allah really did create the most beautiful beings, he thought with a smile.

Today she wore a red hijab, emulating the silky, soft petals of roses, and lining her eyes with some kohl, a type of eyeliner that many Muslim women wore. His eyes begged to see the shinning orbs of her warmth and affection, to witness the race of emotions into the windows of her soul: her eyes. 

Something about the depths of Dina's brown eyes had always left Nicholas breathless. Since the first time they met, she haunted his dreams, haunted his thoughts, haunted his rationality until he was stripped to nothing but defenseless adoration for the love of his life. Never had love grasped Nicholas in its palms and lured him away from a world of darkness.

Never had he felt so alive in her presence.

Even in her sleep, the invisible line of temptation edged him closer to his demise, pressuring Nicholas to hold her in his arms, to steal a kiss from those soft lips, to cuddle into her warmth, but limitations weighed heavily on his mental state. He was a Muslim, a man who swore to resist temptation in the name of God. 

He didn't want to disobey Allah nor did he want to disrespect Dina. Only marriage could solidify their relationship with one another. Yes, he was Muslim, but Nicholas wanted to be a good Muslim before he proposed or tried to have a future with Dina. She deserved the best of men to be her lifelong companion. 

A small tear dripped down her cheek, sliding down the smooth curve of her jaw until a shuddered breath escaped her. He straightened, worry lacing his eyes as he leaned closer to verify if it was true. Dina wasn't sleeping because she was tired.

She was sleeping as an escape from her distress. His heart ached for Dina, desperately wanting to ease the thorns of self-destruction away from her realm of perfection and happiness. What could have caused her such qualms that she cried even in her sleep?

"Dina," he whispered, knowing she couldn't hear him. "Who made you cry?"

As if the gates of destiny had opened once more, her eyes fluttered open, revealing mesmerizing eyes that intertwined with her own demons. Sympathy rang like bells in his head. She tried so hard to help those around her that Dina often dismissed her own well-being for the happiness of others. His eyes softened.

"Nicholas?" she mumbled, rubbing the grogginess from her eyes. "What... how... where am I?"

He leaned against the palm of his hands, resting his arm on the wooden table. "Don't you remember?" he asked gently. "You were studying and fell asleep."

Hesitantly, her fingers rose to touch the dampness of her cheeks, eyes widening in shock. "Why are they wet?" she asked, even more confused than before. "Nick..."

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