Two months Later...

Their relationship grew stronger everyday. She fell deeper in love with him every passing day. Falling in love with him was like entering a house and finally realizing she's home. When his eyes are locked on hers, it's like She can see galaxies instead of just pupils. Having him in her life makes her feel like everything's possible in this world, like she can conquer anything. She doesn't regret accepting him and she knows he might be her first but what she really wishes in life is for him to be her last.

When she sees him, it's as if space and time become the finest point imaginable, as if time collapses into one tiny speck and explodes at light speed. It's as if her universe begins and ends with him. She could run forever, search forever, but in the end, every path leads right back to his heart and soul.

Life was satisfying for Maryam.

It was a peaceful day at work, she just finished a ward round with her father and her colleagues. It was tiring but she loved doing that. She went back to her office to pray Asr. She stepped into the office and saw a huge bouquet of roses and a box of her favorite chocolates. "Omg," she stood in awe, her heart swelling up with his love.

Sweet flowers and chocolates for a sweet soul.

-Capt Mahmud.

Her jaw immediately dropped when she read the note. Mahmud sent it? Not Mujahid. She was happy but a bit disappointed. She heaved a sigh and kept the card on her table before sauntering into the bathroom to perform ablution. She came out some minutes later same time her phone started ringing. She rushed to answer, thinking it was Mujahid. She shrugged and kept the phone back. She has been avoiding Mahmud's calls for only God knows how long. He still wasn't back and she got angry about it because he didn't have her time. She didn't care anymore ever since her and Mujahid started seeing each other.

It was like having another Mahmud. But he smiled less, joked less, talks less and cared a bit less than mahmud. But she loved him that way. She offered her prayer and sat on her office chair. The buzzer of her phone went off and she quickly picked up beaming. "Salamu Alaikum," she murmured as if she wasn't alone. "Wa'alaikumus Salam. Babes, how are you? How's work?"

"Work is stressful, but I'll be closing soon," she replied resting her back on the chair. "Let me get back to you in a minute," he said and cut the call. Her sigh was of a softly deflating; it was as if a tension had lifted yet left her with a melancholy instead of relief.

She picked up her things and left the clinic. On her way home, she bought her mom's favorite cake.

"Mommy, I'm home," she announced, entering her mother's room. "Maryam? How was the ward round?"

"It was great Alhamdulillah. I bought cake for you," she said, keeping the box of cake slices on her side drawer. "That was very thoughtful of you. Now go take a shower and rest."

• •

"Happy Birthday," Aydah squealed and hugged her. "You didn't forget about my birthday?" Maryam asked hugging her back. "You're so sweet," she added. "I'd never forget your birthday, urgh you're so old now, get married already." Maryam rolled her eyes, beaming.

"So, about you and Yaya Mujahid, how are things going?" She asks with much concerned. "Well I don't even know. He's always busy," she shrugged. "But I understand, everything will be fine."

Aydah shook her head, looking at Maryam's worried face. "I'm not going to argue with you, Maryam, but it will not be fair to stay with someone that doesn't value you."

Maryam glared at her and hissed. "This is reality not fairytale. I don't expect him to be always available for me. I work, I'm always busy too."

"Wow, wow holdup dear. Just calm down. I am just looking after you babes. I have to get going, this is for you," she gave her a beautiful pink box wrapped with a bow. "No matter how busy he is, if he really values you, he wouldn't abandon you like this." Aydah left the room before Maryam could reply.

Maryam watched her as she left, feeling defeated. She was right. He doesn't value her that much. He doesn't take their relationship important. It's been almost a week since they last talked. Sure he's not in town and he's busy with work but he shouldn't be ignoring her calls that much. He never calls back or texts back. She was basically the only one in the relationship. Heck he didn't even wish her a happy birthday. And mahmud too.

She shrugged everything off and decided to wait till he calls and explains everything to her. She knew there must be a reason. He loves her after all.

She looked around her room wondering what she could possibly do. It sucks not having siblings or much friends. Aydah wasn't happy with her, mahmud has gave up on calling her. The only person she wanted to be with doesn't have her time.

She was literally alone. Mommy was out of town and daddy was busy with work. She was left alone with the maids. She unlocked her phone for the 100th time and sighed. She tried calling Mahmud but his number wasn't going through.

'Is this how dating feels like? Feeling left out and alone? It made no difference with being single.' She thought. The sadness drained through her rather than skating over her skin. It travelled through every cell to reach the ground. She filtered it yet strangely enough, She kept what was pure and it was the dirt that left. Her sadness was like a flowing river, cold and unending. It washed all the goodness out of her and left her a mere shell of what she had once been.

She calmed herself down from shedding tears and sat upright. It was past 6pm, almost time for Maghrib prayers. She sighed for the 1000th time that day and rose up from her bed to perform ablution.

After she prayed, she stayed there and did her azkhar till it was time for Isha prayers. Though it was already night, she went out to the garden to explore. There was a gate of rough wood was as big as a cow and ivy cascaded over the fence, growing tendrils in every direction. The stone path was punctuated with weeds after every stone. The dishevelled, un-manicured lawn was more moss than grass and was over shadowed by huge weeping willow flowing down onto the dank and squishy ground. Clusters of defiant daffodils reared their golden heads amidst the gloom and there were smatters of fuchsia along side the scarlet and saffron hued primroses. She walked around, having a deep thought and thinking of what to do.


She jumped in horror and turned. She gasped, "oh Yaya Mujahid you scared me. You... you're back?"

"Surprise," he beamed moving deadly close to her. She swallowed hard and moved back. "Your maid told me you were out here," he added looking around the place. "Welcome ba..." he captured her lips in a gentle kiss. She gasped and pushed him away. "What was that for? Why would you do that?" She spat out. "Babe I've missed you a lot and that's what I need right now so please..." he grabbed her hand. "Just for few minutes," he whispered. "I know your parents aren't around."

She snatched her hand away, moving back. "This isn't right yaya. We should not be doing something like this," she reminded. "Oh Cmon no one will see us. No one's here," he said annoyingly. "Well Allah is watching us, don't forget that."

"Look maryam, are you happy to see me or not?" He asked furiously. "I am but..."

"Please, shh! Let me show you how much I love you and how much I am sorry for ignoring you," he whispered, pressing her back against the wall. His kisses linger on the curve of her neck as he works his way up to her lips, snaring her into a passionate kiss. She breathed heavily kissing back. It felt so wrong but yet so good. He moved his hand from her waist to her boob and gave it a light squeeze, dipping her into a deeper kiss.

She pushed him away for air. "Yaya this isn't right," she said breathless. "Your lips, they're so soft and sweet." He said, his deep voice turning her on. He grabbed her waist and pulled her close. He was about to join their lips together when someone interrupted. She pushed him away, startled.

"Manha?" He slowly called out in disbelief. She looked at mahmud and Mujahid. "Hey... hey You're back, welcome back," she stuttered. He dropped the bouquet and box of cake and the grass and moved forward. "What's he doing here? What's going on?" Mahmud asked, his heart doing a back flip.

"Welcome back brother," Mujahid says, stretching his hand out. Mahmud ignored him and repeated the question again. "Maryam and I were talking about something important before you interrupted."

"So you had to hold her before telling her whatever it is?" Mahmud said coldly. "Watch how you speak to me as I am your elder brother, if you have forgotten," Mujahid warned, pointing a finger at him.

Mahmud gave her a pointed look, "what's between you and my brother?" Maryam was on the verge of crying. "I tried telling you were busy... and I... I,"

"Baby he does not deserve any explanation from you, he is not your husband or father to be questioning you like that," Mujahid said softly at her. "Baby? He called you baby? Wait... Ignoring my calls and texts... straight replies... you guys are dating?" He looked at the both of them in disbelief. His heartache was was like a wolf eating at his chest, tearing it's way to his trembling heart. It threatened to devour him, eat him whole and leave nothing but scraps behind.

She bit her lip, eyes lowered while she fiddled with the bracelet he gave her 7 years ago. He looked at the bracelet. His heart shattered again. "I tried to tell you," she whispered and sniffed.

"Well here it goes, Maryam is my girlfriend and soon to be wife. You have a problem with that? What is wrong with you man? Quit acting like you're in love with her."

His brother's words stabbed him right in the chest. He felt dizzy and sick. His eyes turned red. He smiled bitterly at her and nodded. "Happy Birthday," he said and turned, leaving the gifts behind.

Maryam felt the urge to follow him and apologize but Mujahid held her. "Why are you crying? What's the big deal about this? He doesn't deserve any explanation from you."

"But... he's my best friend, I never hide anything from him," she whimpered. Mujahid furrowed his brows. "Listen to me very carefully. As from today I no longer want to see you with him ever again. You can greet for all I care but that friendship is over."

She pushed him hard and ran into the house through the back door. Mujahid smirked shoving one hand in his suit pocket. He walked over to the bouquet and box. He picked up the card attached to the bouquet and opened it. "Your smile is both pleasant and infectious, just like your charm. I cannot imagine a life wherein you are not a part of it. You are my best girl. Thanks for everything. Happy Birthday."

Mujahid laughed, shaking his head while tearing the card.

Next chapter