“Amira! Amira! Please wake up, Amira!”
Every cell in her body was screaming with panic as she realized her almost 4-year old daughter was not responding to her calls.
Oh God! This can’t be happening! Amira had been full of life and her usual mischievous self the night before. What went wrong??
Zara frantically rushed around the house in search for her cell phone. She had to call someone; her mom, an ambulance, someone, anyone!
She finally found her phone and called in an ambulance, barely able to give directions amid her hysteria. Next, she called her mom who immediately asked her to calm down and not speak further and promised to be by her side within the next 15 minutes.
Her mother and medics got to her at the same time and just on time too because Zara had gotten to her wits end just sitting and doing nothing.
She led the way to Amira’s room and stood at the door lost in somewhat of a trance as she watched them lay her little body on the gurney.
“Don’t worry ma’am. She’s still breathing”, one of the medics reassured Zara.
Realizing her daughter was still in somewhat of a shock, Angie signaled the medic who spoke to move quickly and promised to follow closely and meet them at the hospital.
Angie immediately called Zara back to reality. “Your daughter needs you Z! Snap out of this and let’s get moving. Come on”, and with that grabbed Zara’s bag and other essentials and gently hooked her arm as they walked out the door.
An hour had passed already and nobody had come out to tell them anything.
Oh God, Zara prayed. Please don’t take her away, please. Just at that moment the paediatrician walked out. And at that same moment Zara unconsciously held her breath. She would later realise however, that she didn’t do so out of anxiety about her daughter, but instead because of the well built, gorgeous man that appeared before them.
At that moment all she wanted to hear was good news and that was exactly what Dr. Maleek Mason blessed them with.
“There’s no cause for alarm Mrs. Khalil. Amira is fine. This was simply a case of syncope…a fainting spell if you may, caused by dehydration. She’s already up and asking for mommy so please, come with me”, Dr. Mason said in a deep, soothing baritone, with a smile.
Zara and her mom both jumped up for joy and followed him to Amira. It was then that she noticed his hair wasn’t actually a low, neat cut, but subtle locs that had been held back in the neatest and tightest of buns, which hung very low at the nape of his neck. Zara wondered how she could even notice such a trivial thing at this point and dismissed the thought.
Upon entering Amira’s room, Zara enveloped her daughter in a tight hug and looked over the child’s shoulder at the angel who had saved her.
“Thank you”, she mouthed with a glint of tears in her eyes. He smiled back and Zara noticed more details of his face; his rich dark brown skin, clear chocolate-brown eyes, long lashes with thick brows, a cleft in his firm, stubble-covered chin and the double dose of dimples on both cheeks.
As he turned to leave he asked Zara to see him in his office briefly. She kissed Amira lightly on the forehead and followed the doctor, leaving Amira with her grandmother.
For four years, Zara had stayed clear of any man and had also been careful to keep her heart and sanity intact. And for all those years she’d succeeded at being happy with just her daughter by her side and not given any man, not even that douche bag of a man who had fathered Amira any more of a chance to ruin that happiness. He had already done enough by rejecting the baby and walking out on her.
But it seemed this doctor had started causing problems to the starved woman inside her already, and she wasn’t sure she liked it.
“Mrs. Khalil…”, he begun.
“It’s Miss, Doctor. Or Zara if you may”, she interjected.
“I’m sorry Miss..I didn’t mean to be so presumptuous”, he said with sincerity in his eyes. “Amira is fine as I said earlier, but you’ll need to keep her better hydrated and pay more attention to her eating habits. This is not to say that you’re not taking proper care of her, no. I’m only advising that you be more strict even when she acts up about eating well and on time and also taking in enough fluids.”
“Alright Dr. Mason. I appreciate your concern and help. Will do that”, Zara said curtly. She understood where he was coming from, but nobody had a clue about the extremes she could go for her daughter; she’d give her very life for her daughter if she had to. It was good advice he’d given, but all the same it had upset her a bit.
“When can she be discharged Dr. Mason?” she asked.
“Right now actually. I’ll just write down a few vitamins she’ll need and you’re good to go”.
Zara watched as his long fingers grabbed the pen on his left and started scribbling away on his notepad. Of course, he just had to be left-handed as well, she thought. Was she going to find one unattractive thing in this man anytime soon??
Lost in her thoughts, she didn’t realise that he had finished writing and was handing the prescription over till he cleared his throat.
Zara stood quickly and reached for it. Their fingers touched slightly and his index finger lingered a few moments longer on her hand. She looked at him then and couldn’t help but swoon inwardly at his stare.
“And please..it’s Maleek” he said softly as he let go of the paper and her hand but not his gaze. “Take good care of her Zara. I can tell she’s everything to you. Have a nice day”.
Zara merely nodded and rushed out. Once outside she let go of the breath she’d held without knowing and shook her head clear of whatever spell this man had cast.
I’ve made it this far without any man and the complications of a romance or relationship. I can stay so just fine, she thought. Amira is fine now and I’ll always be grateful to him. That’s all that mattered. The end.
But somehow she felt deep within that this was probably just the beginning of something she had to have.
A month had passed since Amira’s health scare yet everyday since that day, Zara had not been able to get Maleek out of her mind. Inwardly she wanted to run into him somewhere just to know what would happen next. But her pride and fear from all that her past had taught her quenched any other feeling each time she allowed them to creep into her mind.
Her mother had noticed a tell-tale spark between them that day and unknowing to Zara had taken the doctor’s number under the guise of some medical advice she would later need for her grand-daughter.
Frankly she was tired of seeing her daughter waste away because of the callousness of one man, and wanted a new, fresh and happier life for her with someone more suited; a potential father for her grand-daughter if possible. Four years was enough time to leave the past in the past; she had to do something about this and fast.
It had been six months since they’d all met Maleek, and Zara couldn’t believe that her mom had managed to get him more and more involved in their lives as she sat across from him, keenly listening to his every word.
First, it was a casual lunch treat for her and Amira and she’d walked into the restaurant to find Angie and Maleek engaged in a hearty conversation, laughing away as though they were old friends. She remembered how her heart had skipped a beat at seeing him again but kept a cool exterior; one which was definitely worlds apart from the inferno of emotion blazing deep within, threatening to engulf her.
It still amazed her how she’d managed to get through each meeting without reaching out to touch his sinewy forearm which was usually left bare from his rolled up shirt sleeves, or run a finger along his cheek each time he smiled to feel just how deep those dimples were. Her mother’s intentions became clear to her at the third invitation to eat out the previous month again, with him, but she’d played along and enjoyed every bit of the old lady’s rusty matchmaking antics.
Something in Maleek’s expression at dinner that night signified that he knew too. Zara loved how extremely easy it was to talk to him; conversations on any topic were both mentally and emotionally stimulating and it made her wonder which parts of her he could stimulate as well. He wasn’t the least bit shy to express himself sexually albeit subtly, but was quick to watch his words when Amira was with them. That night however, Angie soon realized she was fast becoming the only hindrance to the surging emotions that had been kept well bridled for reasons best known to the two adults.
“Zara dear. I’d like to check on my grand-daughter and relieve the baby sitter. It’s getting a bit late and I remember her saying she has a bit of chores to get done at home. Why don’t you two go on and stay out a bit longer? I’m sure Maleek can spare a few more hours of his jokes”, Angie said with a sly smile and a glint of mischief in her eyes.
“Ma..” Zara begun, but Maleek placed a firm but gentle touch on her hand to stop her.
“No problem Angie. I’ll have the queen home by midnight”, he said with a wink and a soft laugh. Zara flushed slightly and looked everywhere else but into his eyes as he stared at her.
“Great! Settled then. I’ll see you in the morning Zara. Amira and I should be asleep by the time you get in. Good night Maleek. It’s been a lovely evening as always”.
Maleek got up and kissed her on the cheek as she left.
“Well. My mom certainly knows how to get her point across”, Zara said with a bit of embarrassment with her head slightly bent.
“And which point would that be Z…?” he asked, his voice low and deep.
Zara looked up and met a penetrating stare which got every single inch of her feeling all sorts of things she’d thought herself incapable of feeling ever again.
“Never mind”. She cleared her throat nervously.
“So. What would you like to do now that mommy is away?” he said with laughter in his voice.
Zara laughed softly at his jest and decided that the next few hours wouldn’t be that bad after all. He offered two options; they could leave the restaurant and she could decide what to do next while they drove around, or he could surprise her. Not too sure of how she’d handle whichever surprise he had in store, she decided to play it safe and chose the former.
They got into his modest SUV and drove in silence for about ten minutes before he broke it.
“Still waiting madam. What would it be? Your wish is my command.”
After a few moments she made her request. “I’d like to get to know you. Obviously a bit more than what you’ve shown my family and I. I want you to show me who Maleek is. Can you do that?”
The look in his eyes told her all she wanted to know; she’d managed to surprise him. He recovered quickly and smiled so broadly his dimples deepened more than ever. When he turned to look at her again however, something told her she had fallen right into his trap.
He simply nodded and let out a “sure thing”, and drove on. Within fifteen minutes they were at the exit route that led to the south of town. Zara realized where they were headed and felt a slight shiver up her arm. That pier…
She closed her eyes briefly and willed the painful memories away. Her present had so far held more laughter than tears, and she had to focus on that. He pulled over suddenly and that drew her out of her battle. He had a look of concern on his face and she realized he’d caught her with her eyes closed.
He drew closer to her, freed her from the seat belt and pulled her into his arms. “Whatever it is, it’s gone and I’m here. Just focus on me. Nothing else.” He pulled away just far enough to be able to place a little kiss on the tip of her nose.
He pulled away completely, turned off the engine and got out of the car. He opened her door and led her out gently by the hand.
“Walk with me” he said, “I’d like to show you a bit of my world”. She allowed him to lead her down a little path close to the pier and out into a clearing. As they walked he let his bun loose and for the first time Zara got a good look at the long, lustrous locs which framed his face with perfection. She sucked in her breath at this Adonis by her side and for a split second wished that this adventure would present the type of stimulation she’d been starved of for so long.
She took her eyes off him and right in front of her was the most serene yet captivating cabin, illuminated by nothing but the moonlight. They walked hand in hand to the front door where he flipped a switch. And suddenly, the fine textures of the cabin came to life under the glow of what seemed like a hundred lanterns lining the walkway all the way to the front porch.
“Wow”, Zara breathed, taking it all in. Maleek pulled her closer and caressed her cheek. With only enough room to feel each other’s breaths on their lips, he whispered, “This is where you begin to know me. I only hope you can handle it all”, and with that opened the front door and ushered her in…