Written by Nada Hemida
“Now,” I say, “What happened?”
“I noticed this morning that someone was following Seif to work,” Faris explains. “When it seemed to them like there would be no witnesses, they held him at gunpoint. They didn’t ask him about anything he knew or say anything odd. I think they were pretending it was a robbery and were going to kill him. I knocked them both out and left with Seif.”
“And so they’ll believe he just vanished off the face of the earth,” I conclude.
He nods with a grin as if to say, “exactly”.
I thank him and then watch him leave the same way he came in. Even if my house looks as though I leave it carelessly open for everyone, I made sure there was more than one escape route no one but me and those I tell know of. That is in addition to the fact that undetectable devices placed within my territory automatically send an alert to my own phone whenever something – or someone – is off.
Especially at a time like this, I could never be too careful.
When I walk into the kitchen, the mood is tense, and Seif’s attention immediately turns to me. “I want you to tell me what’s going on,” he demands.
I give him what I hope is a smile to ease him, but his face remains tense and unresponsive. Fadel, on cue, leaves inaudibly. Before I open my mouth to explain, Seif blurts out breathlessly: “First you break into my house and demand answers, then you leave saying you’ll be back, and how would I be able to sleep when I know a freaking assassin can easily break into my house!? And I obviously had to go to work to avoid suspicions, but all the while I was thinking about what idea you got, where you went, if you were back, why you would come back after I gave you everything you needed to know – and then I was going to get shot –“
“Seif,” I interrupt, “Breathe.” He stops and tries to calm down. He is probably very close to a meltdown or is already going through one. “Listen, I’m really sorry I caused you this much anxiety. I planned to come back to you after, but things got out of hand. I asked Faris to look after you because I was afraid Karim Saleh would suspect you.”
He finally exhales without looking exasperated, and then asks, “And what happened today, you think they were a couple of mercenaries sent by Karim?”
“I’m certain,” I say. “Now, I know this is all too much, Seif, but you can’t go back home. They’ll still be after you. And if they see you leave my street, they’ll know something’s up.”
“So what happens now?” he asks, still uneasy from the information I was giving him, his head seemingly taken over by additional other thoughts.
I tilt my head. “You can stay here,” I say and then add quickly, “if you wish. If you aren’t comfortable here and you think you can hold your own, I can take you back to your place, but I’d rather you not do so.”
“Hold my own? You broke into my home, a hulking man was watching me for the past few days and I didn’t even notice, and I was almost killed,” Seif says, “no, I think I would die in the first hour if I go back.” He was almost talking to himself than to me, now.
I fail to stifle a laugh. “Here it is then.”
He suddenly looks around him curiously. “Oh wow,” he says, as if he hadn’t noticed the house until now, “nice place.”
“Thanks, I think so too,” I say, smirking, “it’s not really mine.”
Seif raises both eyebrows in question. “It belonged to an old client of mine. He left it in my name before he died,” I explain.
“Willingly?” he challenges.
I shrug, “I might have gone over that will once.”
He laughs like he had completely forgotten what had just happened to him. Then, out of nowhere, he asks, “who’s Fadel? Is he your…” He trails off.
“He’s a friend who also lives here, just as you will.” I answer. He nods solemnly.
“So what did you find out that night?” he asks.
I gulp and prepare myself to answer very, very carefully.
I tell him that Karim is playing a dangerous game, getting tangled up with the wrong people, not mentioning who, and that they’re onto something big. Quickly, I tell him not to worry and that we have a plan.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s somewhere I need to be,” I say, already backing out of the room. “Fadel will soon be leaving too if he hasn’t left already. I’ll send someone to stay on post outside in a minute. There’s food in the fridge if you find yourself hungry, and you’re most welcome to cook.”
He has the same confused look I had seen on his face the first night I met him, but he nods anyway.