Forbidden by Faith

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Sana Khan




I run to my room. How could he possibly assume the worst of me and not let me explain anything? Not even give me a chance to tell my side of the story? He accused me of being a "gold digger." Is that what he thought of me?

It's not that I didn't try to talk about my past. I get that he feels betrayed after what he heard. Christina was kidding around, and I did set her straight by asking her to not make such demeaning joke.

First time ever in my life I went after what I wanted, and it fired back. He pushed me away, not wanting me. How I wish things were different between us? Why did I had to follow my damn heart? Why did Allah put him in my path, if just to rip my happiness away?

When he told he will always be there for me, no matter whatever the situation was, I believed in him. I foolishly put my faith in him. This beautiful man gave me a reason to trust him.

I pack my bags. I cannot stay under the same roof as him after his accusations. Not after what he called my child. I hear his Harley roar to life. He was nothing but a storm that came out of nowhere, with no warning whatsoever, and left the same way he came, leaving me devastated, giving me new wounds that might never heal. This time I was left empty and hollow to my core. I think I can hear my heart shatter into millions of pieces as tears run down my face.

I don't realize that I wept myself to sleep. Its dusk by the time I wake up. I was hoping this was all a part of nightmare and when I wake, he will kiss me and say all is fine. I was hoping to hear from him. I was hoping for lot more things. If only he was here to stop me. Tell me that he still wants me.

I wasn't sure if he was back yet. And if he was, I didn't want to see him. Just like that, all old memories comes flooding back. I had lived all my life in fear, trying to escape wrath of my parents. I agreed to wed the man of their choosing because I loved them, respected their decision and more so, feared them. Things worsened when they wanted me to abort my child because the man they had married me to left and the marriage turned out to be a sham.

My hand immediately goes to my stomach, my baby. "We still have each other. Don't we?"

My life was a mess. I felt that the entire world was closing its door to me. Although, it didn't matter. The only door I wanted to follow, lead me to Val's heart and my hand instinctively reaches to the locket he clasped around my neck last night. It was just last night. My whole world crumbled within less than twenty-four hours.

I had no idea where I would be going from here. But I couldn't stay here anymore. Once my things were packed, I unclasp the chain Val had gifted me.

I internally struggle between not wanting to see him or run into him, and still hoping to steal one glance of him before I leave. My feet has mind of their own as they lead me to the master bedroom.

I knock on his door and when there is no response, I slide open the door to see everything still messed up. I walk up to the night stand and leave the chain there before I leave, looking around this place one last time, memorizing his scent and every beautiful thing he ever said to me.

******

Two days later

"Thanks for letting me stay here with you and Christina while I look for my own place, Matt."

"You are welcome to stay with us for as long as you want." replies Matt.

"Really Matt?" Christina raises her eyebrow at her brother. "Didn't you ask me to look for my own place just last weekend? I thought this was your bachelor pad and you didn't want you sister mooching off you."

"I am sorry to impose. I will move out as soon as I find something that I can afford." I say to Matt. I didn't want to be any burden on anyone. It was Christina who found me wandering off, when she was on her way to check up on me, after we had words in hospital. She got me here because she was staying with Matt.

Pooja insisted that I stay with her. But I didn't want to disrupt her life.

"Are you alright?" Matt asks, looking concerned.

It's been two days now. I feel sick. I am nauseous, with an aching stomach, my head hurts and I feel dizzy. And to be honest, I feel all alone.

"I am fine, Matt." I respond, hoping that he won't ask anymore questions. I walk back to my bedroom, wanting to be alone.

As much as I am upset and hurt over Val, I was worried about him. I heard from Steven that no one's been able to contact Val. So I pray. I keep praying, hoping Allah would keep him safe.

"Allah... The only thing I have ever asked you over the years was for your guidance. No matter what I endured in past, meeting Val was worth it all. Now I knew why all of that had to happen. It was all worth it because I get to meet him. I fell for him. Yes. I love him. And all I want you to do is keep him safe. Wherever he is. It's alright if he never wants to see me again, just keep him safe." My heart breaks when I whisper the last part. But it was the truth.

It's alright if he hated me for the rest of my life. I want him to be safe. Steven insisted that I try calling Val. Although I yearned to listen to his voice, yearned to see him, I just couldn't bring myself to call him. Not after what he accused me of. Not after what he called my baby.

I was so engrossed in thoughts of Val, worried about him that I didn't realize that I fell asleep on a prayer mat.

I feel exhausted and hungry. But I don't feel like eating anything. I know I have to eat something, for my baby.


I have to speak with my brother. Maybe he can give me some advice. He picks the call within one ring. "Assalam Walaikum."

"Walaikum assalam. Bhai." My voice cracks and tears filled with brokenness.

"What happened, kiddo?"

"I... He found out that I am pregnant." I sob.

"I thought you were about to tell him. How did he found out himself?"

I brief Atif bhai about what happened. "He stormed out, bhai. He is not answering anybody's call. No one knows where he is. I don't ... I don't know if he's even safe.

"Did you try to call him?" Bhai asks.

"No. You know... I... I can't. Not after -" I trail off. My brother knew me well enough to know there's certain things I can't look past. I would've probably forgiven Val for his accusations about me, but I cannot look past what he said about my child.


"Don't worry. He's probably fine and drinking himself into stupor."

"What?"


"Kiddo, He might need some time to process things. He probably panicked. We men do stupid things. All time. Every time. Give him some time. He will come back."

"I don't know. I... I love him bhai. And I never got a chance to tell him. And now everything is over."


"Oh dear."

I can't stop my tears. Bhai was one person with whom I was vulnerable. But even he didn't know what most times baba would do when he wasn't home.

I showed those scars only to Val and he walked away.

"Do you want me to come?" My brother asks.

"No bhai. I'll be fine. Don't worry."

"If you ever want me to be there, just call. I will take next flight. You know that, don't you?"

"Yes bhai. I know it. I love you."

"Love you too kiddo."

"Now wipe those tears and tell me how your appointment with doctor was? How is my nephew?"

"The appointment went great. Everything's fine. Don't worry."

"You need to take care of yourself, Sana. Don't forget there's a life growing inside you. You went against the whole world to save your child."

I knew he was right. "Yes bhai. I gotta go now. Talk to you later."

"Khuda hafiz."

"Khuda hafiz, bhai." I end the call.

******

It's been ten days and no one's heard from him. His family is worried sick. I stare at my phone, contemplating whether to call him or not.

It is not that I didn't care about him. I just didn't want to lose my self-respect over any man.

"You look like you haven't eaten anything in days. Who died?" I am drifted back to reality with Christina's voice beside me.

I smile, trying to avoid this conversation. Christina and I have bonded pretty well in last month. "I am fine."

"Good morning." Matt says as he enters the kitchen, and comes to hug me.

"God. What the hell happened to you?" asks Christina, directing her question to her brother.

"I worked 20 hours shift last night. I am exhausted. Nice thing I am on leave today." replies Matt

"Well. I need to get ready to go to school. I can't wait to be done with this and finally be a doctor."

Christina takes her leave. I turn to see Matt looking in my direction. "So, how are you doing?"

"I am good, Matt. You, however need to get some sleep."

"I know." He's about to say something else, then he stops himself. I am about to leave, when I stops me, holding on to my arm and turning me around to face him.

"Sana... I know you are hurting. I know you are not ready to talk about it. You didn't tell us what happened or what went wrong between you and the playboy and I won't ask." I am about to defend Val, when he just presses his finger on my lips, making me stop. It however, reminds me on Val and how he could shut my yapping with his finger on my mouth and how he would kiss me. How he held so much power over me to melt my insides with just little things he did.

I am brought back to reality when I hear Matt talk, "... I will not ask if it will bring bad memories and hurt you. Just know, I am here for you. I will always be here for you."

Matt's been tending to me from the minute I landed here. He never questioned, or judged. He was just here. I don't know why I never felt anything for him. Life would have been just so easier if I did. I was aware of the risk my heart would be in, if I was to fall in love with Valor and that's what happened.

"Thank you, Matt. I appreciate that." I say as he puts his arm around me, hugging me tightly. In that moment, I just let myself relax, feeling the familiarity of my friend as tears stream down my face. It's unfair on him, knowing how he feels about me. I know it is selfish of me, but I needed it.

"Sana" He whispers.

"Yes, Matt?" I look at him, as he speaks.

"You haven't been outside from last ten days. I suggest we go out later for a fresh air, maybe get a dinner. What say?"

As much as it holds appeal, I cannot possibly go out. It would be wrong. I was probably thinking about it way over in my head, because I hear him say, "Don't worry. It is not a date. We are just going out for a dinner. If you feel more comfortable, we can make it as a family outing and I will call Steven and Chrissy and let them know."

"As much as I would love that, I don't want more people feeling bad for me." The moment I say that, he looks upset. So I add, "But, I do think that I need to get some fresh air and going out is not a bad idea."

"So...?"

"Matt, We can go for dinner as long as it is not a date." He smothers me with another hug.

After he leaves to get some sleep, I go sit by the window in living room. This has become my routine.

I still haven't heard anything about Val and it is starting to drive me insane. I haven't been to office for the past two weeks. I called in sick saying I have flu and all I do is sit by the window, crying my eyes out. Also maybe, hoping that he would show up.

"No, Sana. Stop this nonsense. He is not coming." I berate myself.

"Well. I am glad to hear you saying it to yourself rather than me for a change." I hear Christina.

"I am late for my classes now. You will be fine right?" She asks, looking concerned.


"Yes."

"What time you and Matt are going out?"

"Who told you about that?" I ask as I raise my eyebrow at her.

"I eavesdropped. It's good you decided to get out of the house. You will feel better." She says.

"I think so too." I respond back. With that, she leaves for her classes.

I should go back to work coming Monday. I can't afford to stay home and mope around. Working on project may help me take my mind off Val. I was also hoping to look for other jobs and give my notice period at work. I wanted to resign from the job.


Valor might not be here now. But once he returns, I would still have be his personal assistant and I didn't want to be working within such close proximity with him.

I decide to do some light exercise as suggested by Matt. My bump is literally not visible. Matt said it's nothing to worry about. That the baby is healthy, and I should be taking care of myself and mainly no stress. I am trying not to stress. Everyone's been so loving and supportive of me. I cannot believe this weekend I will be twelve weeks pregnant.

After a light workout, I turn on tv to watch something. This too has become my routine now. I keep changing the channel until something catch my eyes. Valor.

There were few snapshots of him in a pub, with two ladies sitting under the arms of his chair. The one of them looks like she's whispering something in his ear while the other one was is smushing her breasts in his face.

"These pictures were taken few days ago. We previously heard some rumors going around about the 'Billionaire playboy Lennox' being taken. That he has a girlfriend and he's very devoted to her. Turns out the rumors were false as he was recently spotted with two ladies in Los Angeles, California. Billionaire playboy is still a bachelor. Isn't that the good news, ladies?"

Tears start to roll out of my eyes again. He didn't waste any time. It's over between us. He just didn't have guts to say it to my face.

***********

I hear a knock on my bedroom. "Come in". I say.

"Are you ready?" asks Matt as he peeks inside.

"Yes." I try to smile. I am heartbroken that Valor has moved on, after everything he told me. I did need to get out of house and resume my life. I had my friends. They were my family. I decided to find a new job and applied for few of them. I was also looking for apartment. I had baby on the way and I needed to be independent and I was on my own. I cannot rely on anyone but me.

So, I decided to brush off my hurt and pain and get dressed. I decide to keep it simple and wear one of my Indian attire - Off white and brown printed maxi dress with sequined detail. The mandarin collar with embroidered detail and flared hem gave it a classy look.

"You look beautiful." His eyes sweep at me and I don't feel anything.

"Thank you, Matt."

"What are you in mood for?" he asks.

"I really don't have any preference. We can go anywhere." I reply.

We reach restaurant in about half hour. Like always, he is being a gentleman and holds the door open for me, while getting into the car and also at restaurant.

The place was too sophisticated and beautifully designed. It was one of those upscale restaurants and probably too expensive. "Why'd we come here?" I whisper to Matt.'

"You didn't like it?" He asks.

"No. This place is beautiful. But it looks very expensive." I say, only for his ear.

"You don't worry about that. Let's enjoy our dinner." He winks as he takes my hand and wraps around his forearm. Once Maitre'd shows us to our table, Matt pulls the chair for me.

"Matt. You don't have to do that. This isn't a date." I tell him.

"It doesn't mean that I can't treat you like the lady you are."

I laugh at his comment. This feels good. Normal. Or at least I was trying to get back to normalcy. Suddenly, I feel the hair on my back stand and my heart is about to explode in my chest when I hear his voice, "Well. You didn't waste any time to move on. Did you?"

Valor.

**********
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