Those were the words Kalim used to hear from other people, including Jamil. Of course, none of them was true. Kalim had a brain, had self-control, and had met many manipulators than he cared to admit. But he still chose to face any situation with optimism, help those he cared about even if it meant holding an impromptu feast, and give people second chances.
He wasn’t stupid or impulsive. He’d never been one.
“No!” a maid shrieked, weeping at the sight of the diamond necklace on [Name]’s hand. “No, I didn’t do it! I swear!”
[Name] stared down at her, eyes colder than the gleaming diamonds.
“Really? Then, how come my necklace is in your room?” she interrogated, almost sneering. “Doesn’t that mean you stole it? Or are you suggesting my personal maid lied to me?”
… maybe he was gullible.
“No! I didn’t do it, I never did! Please believe me!”
[Name] peered towards Kalim, gaze unreadable.
At least, that was what he wanted it to be.
Of course, he knew about her true motive, although he didn’t really understand why. For some reason, she always hated that maid and tried to torment her in various, albeit subtle, ways despite her loyalty to the Al-Asim family. But this was the first, and probably the last, time [Name] accused her of stealing something. Kalim could easily buy another necklace, but he knew [Name] wouldn’t let this slide. No sane person would, honestly.
Regardless, he still tried to be optimistic. As usual.
Kalim tittered. “A-ah, I’m sure it was just an accident, right?”
The maid nodded vigorously.
“Oh? Are you defending her now, Kalim? Even though I’m the victim here?” [Name] retorted, squinting. “I didn’t know that you’re such a cruel husband, Kalim. Or maybe you’re just blind to the truth, as usual?”
“I-I mean, we could set up a surveillance camera in her room…”
“A surveillance camera? Don’t be ridiculous.” she scoffed, looking away as if he’d just proposed the dumbest idea in the world. “Every camera has a blind spot, and besides, this girl is brave enough to steal my jewelry despite all the guards nearby. Do you want to give her a chance to repeat it?”
“No, of course not! I just–”
“Then, cut her grubby little hands off so she’ll learn her lesson!”
Kalim flinched again and quickly ordered Jamil to escort the maid out of the room, preferring a gentler punishment. It didn’t matter if she was innocent, [Name] wanted her to leave and that was what he’d do. Kalim was too busy staring apologetically at the maid to notice Jamil shooting [Name] a dark glance, but he didn’t have to.
Jamil had warned him, after all. Repeatedly, even. He told him that [Name] had changed for the worse. Told him that she’d become a manipulator, like those before her. Told him that she was trying to destroy him little by little now. But Kalim had brushed it off too, all because he couldn’t accept the fact that [Name] could have such… malicious intent inside her.
No, it was simply impossible for such a sweet and pure girl to be hateful and deceitful. The [Name] he knew had always treated him kindly, and Kalim merely wanted to repay it with marriage. Because marriage meant eternal company, right? Kalim didn’t think about the future very much, but he began to realize that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. And he assumed she’d be happy, because he was. Heck, even his family was happy too!
Of course, she’d tried to reject his proposal kindly, but he’d thought she was just being shy somehow. So, he kept urging her to agree until the wedding day arrived, which Jamil felt was too soon. Then again, Kalim didn’t have the same patience as him, and it wasn’t long before [Name] moved into his room as a couple. A married couple.
So, then, why? Why did it change now? Why did she change?
“Why did you do that?! I didn’t say you could kick her out!” [Name] hissed once everyone had left the now abandoned servant room, crossing her arms with the deepest scowl he’d ever seen from her. “Don’t tell me you still pity her even after seeing her crime.”
“[Name], please…! Don’t be like this!”
“Oh, shut up! I thought you loved me, but I guess I was wrong! You’re just like those cheating bastards that you hate so much.”
“Y-you know that’s not true!” Kalim cried, feeling tears already prickling his eyes. “I love you. I’ll do anything to see your smile…!”
“Then, why did you fire her?!” [Name] stomped towards him and gripped his chin, lifting it until he finally looked at her properly. “If you love me, you should do anything I say. That’s your duty as a husband too, unless you can’t do it anymore. In which case, I’ll gladly accept divorce–”
“No!” Kalim threw his arms around her and buried his face on the crook of her neck, hugging her so tightly as if she’d disappear right before his eyes. “Anything but that!”
“Say it, then.”
“Say that you’ll do my orders with no exceptions.”
Kalim hesitated. Could he do it? Could he do her biddings, even if it meant punishing more innocent victims along the way?
Would he do it?
“Y-yes, I promise. I promise that I–” he sniffled, eyes squeezed shut. “will do your orders, with no exceptions.”
Kalim was too busy savoring her caress on his hair to notice her growing smirk, but he didn’t have to.
“… There. That wasn’t so hard, was it?”
He’d always love her, after all.
Like the gullible man he was.