Decree of Hope

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Epilogue / Kailee

4 Years Later

When Abe grazes his teeth across my bottom lip, my body trembles, and I moan. I press my body against his harder and pull the blankets up around us. The feeling of his flesh against mine is one that will never lose appeal.

He slides his hand under the lace of my panties—we’re both down to our underwear—and I sigh.

He closes his eyes and blows out a slow breath. “It’s just four days until the wedding. We don’t have to wait.”

If I didn’t want to take him up on his offer so badly, if saying no weren’t so hard, I’d laugh because he’s been telling me no for years. “We’ve waited four years. We’re waiting four more days.”

He moves his hands out from my underwear and locks his arms around. He kisses me with such urgency that he’s knocked me to the other side of the bed and he’s leaning over me now. Desire rolls off of him. He wants me so bad I can feel it, and I love it. But one more kiss like this, and I’ll lose my resolve. “Did you hear what I said?”

“Yes, and I’m so proud of you.” His words are muffled because they come out between searing kisses.

“Aren’t you glad we didn’t put off the wedding till you finished med school like you wanted?”

He pushes away from me and sighs. His demeanor becomes more serious. “It doesn’t feel right, marrying you when I can’t take care of you.”

“Abe, you’ve always taken care of me.”

He runs his fingers through my hair. “Thank you.”

Four days later, I walk toward Abe in a white dress I designed.

6 Years After That


I never thought it would happen, but there is a girl in my life more important than that blue-eyed blonde now, and she’s on Kailee’s hip.

“Can you take Lina? I need to clean up my fabric and put stuff away before people start getting here.”

I stand up and kiss Kailee on the forehead before taking my daughter from her. “You’re amazing, you know.”

She laughs. “Not really. Only disorganized.” But she really is amazing. She runs a lucrative fashion design business from our living room, and she does it while taking care of a very energetic two-year-old.

Kailee gets her mess cleaned up and a holiday buffet on the table just as someone knocks on the door.

I open the door with one hand while holding Lina in the other.

“It’s not that big of a deal,” Caleb says to Mirriam.

Zmal. You infidel, it is a big deal. Caleb, if you mess that leg up a second time, you’ll never walk again.”

He laughs. “M, you worry too much. I’m fine.”

“Arg. Infidel.”

“Could you not call me an infidel in front of the baby? He’s half infidel.”

Now I laugh.

“My child is not an infidel. You are an infidel.”

“Okay, it’s forty degrees outside. If you two don’t come in, I’m shutting the door,” I say. “But give me the baby. The baby shouldn’t freeze.”

They both look at me and laugh. Mirriam gives me a one-armed hug, because she’s holding Michael in the other arm. “Merry Christmas, Abrahem.”

“Merry Christmas.” I turn so she can come in.

Caleb shakes my hand and pats my arm. “Merry Christmas.”

“You, too.”

I shut the door behind him and ask about the drive.

Jackson and Rana arrive next. Wayne bounds through the door and hugs me before going to find Kailee and Lina. Rana’s such a good sport. She’s Muslim but celebrates every holiday with the same group of Christians and never complains.

After dinner, I show Lina how to play with a new toy and Kailee crawls around on the floor with her. I never in a million years thought I’d see my fashion blogger on her knees on the floor for anyone, but she does it with a smile.

Caleb still walks with a slight limp, but it’s gotten so much better that I barely notice as he walks across the room to stand beside me. We gaze around the room at this patchwork family. “It’s kind of crazy, isn’t it?”

“That a punk whose face I once bashed in is now my brother? Yeah. It is, but I couldn’t have picked better for her.”

He smiles at me. “Thanks.”

But the punk’s right. It is crazy. Everything in this room grew out of destruction. If someone had told me ten years ago that I’d call a white American or a Muslim family, I’d have laughed. Bombs were dropped, but bridges were built. A little over a decade ago, everyone in this room was broken by those wars. But looking around at my blonde wife and a generation of beige kids, I can’t imagine my life any other way. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t miss my baba, but sometimes I think I should thank God for all the loss that brought me here.

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