Shackled Exemption

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CHAPTER 22

Asfand was returning to their room from his morning workout while going through his phone. He closed the door and went straight to bed. He took off his vest and threw it away while going through the layouts Safan shared. “Looks good” Asfand hummed in satisfaction and threw his phone on the bed. He was about to go freshen up when the sweet voice of his wife caught his attention.

He hasn’t seen her since morning because she loved to wake up before him. Purposely. And he didn’t get to tease her in gym because he was busy in his study while she was working out. Asfand walked towards their closet and leaned against the door-frame. She was getting ready for the day and such a simple routine made him hard once again. Does she do all this on purpose?

Dua was standing against her wardrobe, half dressed and was busy surfing through her phone. Completely oblivious of her surroundings. Her burgundy hair were slightly damp and her black shirt was undone down to very last button, letting his eyes feast on her creamy skin. Her brows were creased and bottom lip jutted out as she focused on whatever she was going through. She bit her lip suddenly and Asfand wished it was him who was doing that.

His eyes roamed down her neck, over the delicious cleavage poking through her bra clad chest and rested on her curvy waist. Her flat stomach looked so inviting for his mouth and hands that wanted to do things to her body. He wanted to mark every inch of it as his. Her figure was perfectly balanced. She was not stick thin like runway models and he was glad about the ample amount of healthy meat on her body. She will moan harder when I will pinch, bite and squeeze it.

“Arrange for the video conference.” Her voice made Asfand look at her face again. “Schedule it at three and get the contract ready Sharlene.” Dua looked up after ending the call and to her husband. She couldn’t decipher the look in his eyes initially until she looked down. “Can you at least show a bit of decency?”

Dua turned the other way and buttoned up her shirt hastily. It was partly her fault to walk around this carelessly but there was no way she was going to own it up. She was done buttoning the last button when Asfand turned her roughly. Her heartbeat turned wild when she crashed in his bare torso.

“You were parading around half naked. I am just a man janaan.” He pinched her chin while holding her close by waist. “I am your husband. I am allowed to watch all this. In fact, I am allowed to do more than just watch. You should be glad I am being decent enough to not do anything...yet.” Asfand let go willingly when Dua pushed at his chest and watched her sway her way to dressing. “What are you doing?” Dua looked at Asfand while wearing her jacket.

Arms crossed over his chest and legs spread wide, Asfand was watching her intently. His early mischief vanished and a dark intimidating shadow overtook his eyes. That’s what confounded Dua about Asfand. His demeanor changed faster than a chameleon switch color. He didn’t possess one face but too many. Dua could never predict which one she should anticipate in next second.

She focused on wearing her watch to keep her nerves in check. Grabbing her phone and bag, she rushed out of their closet before Asfand could react and retort.

“I am not liking this janaan" His fists balled in anger when Dua walked out on him. He was being too lenient with her and this is what she gave in return for his generosity. She was so wrong into thinking she could disrespect him so blatantly and he will let her. If there was one thing Asfand lacked, it was patience. Towards her gender. He went to the dressing and picked the ring she left behind. His ring. “You shouldn’t have done this.”

You really shouldn’t have.

Dua rushed down the stairs with her heart beating in her mouth. She couldn’t deny that Asfand scared her. There was something diabolical about his very existence and it took every ounce of her courage to face him day and night. To stay in same room. To share the same bed. She hasn’t slept properly since their wedding night. Her guard was always up.

And then there were his physical assaults on her. They were not severe but she knew better. That first memory was still fresh in her mind. Their first night seven years ago. Her skin burnt every time he touched and kissed her but she couldn’t react the way she wished.

Because of what she wanted from him.

Asfand was not on their side and his position was quite volatile, stronger than she anticipated and this made them fear him. He held a certain power and hold over them and she intended to use it. His attitude towards them clarified one thing that he bore his own intentions. Dua may not know the reasons for his resentment towards his own clan but she intended to keep this bitter connection intact to bridge her revenge. If any, poison it further.

For that, she needs Asfand to stand on neutral grounds. Towards her. And to make it happen, she was ready to bear with his teases for as long as possible. He was not going to get intimate without her consent. She was sure of it. How? Maybe she doesn’t even know herself. So, she was willing to let him come close enough to keep him in her check.

She had to watch every step because she didn’t want him to hinder her in any way. He was the card Dua needed to use with great care. But her hatred towards him make her say and do stuff. Just like now. She knew the bomb was ticking. A storm was in wait that was going to tear everything.

But she was going to control it’s direction by taming it to her will.

“Good morning” Dua nodded towards Ida politely and sat in her chair. Though she looked complacent and in control, Ida noticed her twisting the ring furiously. “Is everything okay?”

“Get my breakfast Ida. I need to leave early.” Ida was not satisfied but she didn’t press the matter further. She placed the newspapers by her side and left to bring her breakfast. She knew her young miss was not going to take anything from her husband.

Not even a morsel of bread.

Dua went through the newspapers one after the other and placed them back once she was done. Married or not, her habits and routine was not going to change. And she was not going to impose on Asfand in any way.

Ida came back with a trolley and began serving her. “Xian is on his way” She informed Dua while pouring her coffee. “Good morning Sir” Dua looked up when Ida greeted Asfand. He gave her a nod and sat in his chair without looking her way. “Can I get you something?”

“You are here to serve only your lady and no one else. Just tend to her needs because she doesn’t feel comfortable with rest. There are plenty of people around to look after other matters.”

“Very well” Ida nodded politely and stood behind Dua. Shafiq came with two maids to serve Asfand his breakfast and left as soon as they were done. Ida watched the couple ate in complete silence. They didn’t even look at each other the entire time. The tension surrounding them was so palpable that everyone could feel it.

“Wait by the hall. I am coming.” Dua got up after attending her call. “Don’t wait up on dinner Ida. I might have some prior engagement. Xian will contact you around one. You need to attend a meeting with him. Don’t disappoint me.”

“I will keep that in mind.” Dua gave Asfand one lingering glance. He didn’t even move from his position nor showed any acknowledgement to their conversation. “Have a good day” Dua nodded and left. She was so wrong. It was going to be much more than being difficult and impossible.

Being near Asfandyar.

Her bag and phone fell when Dua snatched her arm roughly with a murderous glare. She didn’t need to confirm. Only one person showed such guts to touch and handle her this roughly. Asfand pulled her close by grabbing a fistful of her hair and twisted her one arm behind her back painfully.

“Leave us alone” His voice boomed the hall and the servants that were working nearby left quickly. Ida and Xian stopped by the entrance of the hall on opposite sides and saw the scene unfold.

Ida palmed her mouth when she saw them. She was horrified and infuriated, seeing Asfand manhandling Dua. Her eyes focused on Xian who was seething silently. His fists were balled and shaking badly. She just prayed Xian doesn’t end up doing something. Because watching Dua get hurt at his watch was the last thing he could and would ever let happen.

“Where the fuck do you think you are going?”

Xian was shocked by the way Asfand held Dua. His rage rose when Dua winced silently. The bastard was hurting her. Before he could step in, Dua raised her hand to stop him. His steps halted immediately and he fisted his hands behind his back.

“What do you think I am dressed for?” Dua closed her eyes momentarily and opened them again to look directly in his livid ones with a taunting smirk. “Such a daft thing to ask.”

“I warned you, didn’t I?” Asfand grabbed her left hand and pushed the ring on her finger roughly. “But you still insist. Then, let me elaborate it for you love. You cannot leave anywhere.” Asfand finalized.

“Not leave anywhere or not work? Without your permission? Because I am married to you?” She looked him in the eye. “Because it’s your so-called responsibility? Or should I say, your so-called claim over me?”

“Dua!” Asfand pulled her face closer to his. “Don’t test me too much. You won’t want to see what it could cost you.”

“What more it will cost me?” Asfand gnashed his teeth at the hollowness of her reply. She didn’t even blink while looking at him. She was too fearless and it was irking him now.

“Try to set one foot across the threshold and there will be corpse of your loved ones lying by your feet to walk on.” Asfand pushed Dua roughly against the headrest of the couch. “You are a flower and it won’t take more than a touch to pulverize you completely.”

Asfand turned to leave but his path was blocked by Xian. They were glaring at each other acrimoniously, their hands twitching to reach for their guns and shoot other down. But her bell-like laughter put a halt to their thoughts and made them turn.

“It’s okay Xian” Dua was smiling at Asfand. If it was some other situation, Asfand would have found her extremely beautiful. But this gleaming beauty was indicator of foredoom. “You can leave” Dua didn’t tear her eyes off Asfand. “For now. We stick to the schedule.”

“Yes” Giving her a nod, Xian left the way he came. He was not worried about Dua anymore. Not the way she snapped. But whatever she was up to, he hoped she was ready for it thoroughly.

“Get me a coffee Ida.” Ida left to do as told. Dua picked her fallen stuff and rounded the couch. She sat on it and crossed one leg over the other. “People call women the biggest flaw of universe yet here is the actual foible of creation. Men and their ego.” Asfand watched her tentatively when she sunk in the plush couch leisurely. “You think so high of yourself. Because of the so-called hold this man-made society gives you? It is fine to control just anyone because you have them under your name? Like your property.”

“It’s how the world works janaan." Dua smiled bitterly at his proclamation. He is no different. “Bowing is what your gender is made for. Whatever you believe or say but you are to do as I say. If I say sit, you sit. If I say stand, you stand. Without asking why? You might have been D. Almas Sahi but now, you are Dua Asfandyar Sherzai.”

“One hour.” Asfand stopped in his tracks. “In one hour, you will come back and take me to my office.” Dua stood up when Asfand turned to face her with a dark scowl. “Yourself. Like a loving, supportive and caring husband who wants to see his wife do her best.”

“I see you like to daydream as well” Asfand snorted mockingly.

“And I like to turn the reality into nightmares as well.” Dua replied calmly with her beautiful smile. She grabbed hold of his wrist and tapped at his watch. “One hour.”

“Young miss?” Dua turned when Asfand left or more like bulldozed his way out of there. “Are you alright?” She took the cup from Ida with a smile and resumed her previous position on couch while checking her mails.

“Never better Ida” She took the first sip and watched the rings on her fingers. “Never better.”

********

A dark cloud was looming over Shaheen Enterprises today.

Everyone tried their best to stay clear of their boss because of the mood he was in. His anger was all over the place the second Asfand stepped in the building and no one wanted to become the victim of his wrath.

“Not now” Asfand stormed past his secretary and entered his office. She didn’t dare to approach him after seeing the rage in his eyes. “Fuck!” He loosened his tie on his way to his chair and slumped in it. His mood was sour and crotchety. “Damn it!” Asfand slammed his fist hard on the table and turned his chair around.

It was close.

He nearly lost his cool and raised his hand on her. Too impulsive. Asfand wasn’t aiming to stop her from working. How can he? Her power and influence is what he needed to shield his sword while he struck his enemies through her. It was her behavior and attitude that infuriated him.

“That woman is too cunning for her looks.” She knew exactly what to do and say to instigate him. Asfand knew everything was deliberate. She was toying with him? With Asfandyar Sherzai? Like hell she can. He swirled his chair around and called Safan.

“Where the fuck are you? It’s almost ti-”

“Asfand!” the agitation in his tone got his attention and he straightened up abruptly. “Adler is caught.”

“Say what?” Asfand stood up abruptly. His frame was shaking with rage and he closed his eyes to keep it under control. “How the fuck did that happen? No one knew.”

“We don’t know how bureau suddenly traced his location. He was caught in his own fucking hideout Asfand. Praise Almighty that he was sane enough to erase our data from his system. Else, we would be behind bars right now.”

“Like I fucking care about that? If he went down, my project in Gwadar will be done for and do you even know what that means. It’s a whole city Safan. A fucking city I was working on.” A city of his power and terror.

“You need to calm down” Safan sighed when he heard crashing on the line. There he goes again. “Don’t lose your temper. You can’t let your uncle get the wind of things.”

“He is not the main issue. How the fuck did they find out? I want to know and get me access to his current location.” Asfand breathed harshly with closed eyes. “We need to get to him before they get to his mind. Kill him if needed.” He disconnected the call and threw it on the table. “Fuck!” Another punch to the table and a long chain of curses. “Like hell I will let anything ruin me.” He grabbed his phone again. His fingers kept drumming against the polished surface of table as the line connected.

“We got a problem with Adler.” Asfand stopped and listened silently. “I don’t care about money Wang. It’s the information and I cannot afford his tongue to slip on it. Clear the slate if needed but get it done before my next shipment dispatch.” He had just ended the call when Safan rushed in his office like a tornado.

“I told you to stay clear of army’s radar but you had to be a fucking retard in persuasion of your obsession.” Asfand scowled when Safan paced back and forth like a pregnant woman.

“What?” Asfand snapped and Safan glared. “Stop this fucking parade and come to the point. I got my hands full already.” He scanned his thumb on the digital panel of his table which led him to the hidden drawer within and Asfand pulled the confidential files out.

“It’s going to get fuller soon if they found those disguised workshops in Makran range.” Asfand’s head shot up at this. “Someone tipped them off about their locations. Something that was not supposed to appear on the topography, popped out of thin air. Just like Ismael’s.” Asfand watched him in silence. “They are dispatching the ambush to Makran and we cannot fucking reach there in time. Wha- Asfand!” Safan yelled after him when he stormed past him.

One hour

********

Dua didn’t look up from her phone when the tires screeched in the driveway. A smile crept to her lips when Asfand came in her line of vision. His face was composed and his demeanor collected but Dua knew better.

“You are ten minutes early” She mused and craned her neck back to see him towering over her intimidatingly. Her heart shook slightly when he grabbed hold of her upper arm. Gently. She grabbed her bag in time when Asfand pulled her out of the mansion. Servants were watching them in confusion. They couldn’t understand their relation.

One minute, they were ready to murder one another and second, they were going hand in hand.

Asfand helped Dua get in the backseat of his Lexus before getting in himself and ordered the driver to go to her office. Both looked out of their respective sides when they drove out of his estate, located on the outskirts of Margalla Hills.

Dua was mesmerized by the green surrounding them. Asfand lived in the heart of valley, completely isolated from the commercial zone. Whole area was covered by tall trees and mountains which made his estate very peaceful. But such tranquility didn’t suit him in her eyes. Dua looked at Asfand but he kept looking outside. His side profile looked equally powerful and attractive. But she looked away immediately when she recalled what he did to her sister.

He was a monster in disguise for her and nothing was going to change her perception of him ever.

Safan was observing them quietly through rear-view mirror. He still couldn’t comprehend what happened an hour ago. He couldn’t understand why Asfand was ready to give this woman what she wanted so easily. This mess is going to get messier.

His mind kept wondering on how were they going to stay in one place without causing destruction when they couldn’t even bear each other for a twenty minutes ride. Giving them one more glance, he looked out as well while shaking his head.

These two are impossible to understand.

********

Dua looked at her building when they stopped. As expected, Xian was standing outside and waiting for her with his men.

“Give me the keys and step out.” Asfand grabbed her thigh, right when she reached for the door. The driver passed the keys to him and stepped out after Safan. Dua frowned when Asfand locked them inside. The windscreen and windows were black tinted. No one could see or hear what was going inside. The glass was bullet and soundproof.

“It was dirty play janaan" her breath hitched when his fingers drummed on her inner thigh, slowly travelled up and stopped. Right at her core. “I don’t know how you did it but it won’t come free.” Fire erupted in her body and she fisted her hands when he cupped her most private part.

“Asfand!” her hand shot to his when his fingers dug in through her clothes. That slight pressure set her nerves ablaze, turned her heart wild and her breathing ragged. She was trembling badly and it couldn’t be kept from him. She didn’t know whether to feel glad that he was not looking her way or flustered at how traitorous her body was being.

Her face burnt when Asfand turned to her. His eyes. They were burning and the intensity of them exacerbated the fire in her veins.

“You are one sly woman” Dua held her breath when Asfand leaned over her. His free hand snaked around her waist in an iron hold. In one swift movement, Asfand hoisted Dua in his lap and held her in place by grabbing her hips.

“What do you think you are doing?” Her fists hit and pushed at his chest but he didn’t budge. “Leave me.”

“You started this janaan." Asfand fisted her hair around his knuckles and pulled her face close. Her protests died when his mouth claimed them in a rough and brutal kiss. His tongue swiped over her bottom lip before his teeth bit it hard and he plunged his tongue in her mouth when she gasped in pain. His chest rumbled with growls when Dua fisted his jacket and moaned in his mouth. So addictive.

But he needed to keep control. He couldn’t lose his senses. He was here to punish her.

Dua pushed herself into him when he squeezed her butt cheeks and caressed them through her clothes. Her arms went around his neck involuntarily and she tugged on his hair. She was appalled by her actions but couldn’t bring herself to pull away. Her senses went haywire, indulging in his intoxicated scent and she became numb to everything else.

This is sinful.

“In business, we work on strict policy of ‘give and take’ janaan." Her back arched when Asfand ripped open a few buttons of her shirt and kissed his way towards her chest. Moans upon moans left her mouth at what his lips, teeth and tongue were doing to her skin. Her body. “You give something in return for taking something.” Asfand pulled her head back and kissed the length of her neck, long and hard. “So responsive.”

“Stop!” Dua bit her lip when he pulled her further into him. Something was throbbing badly. Something felt incomplete and it was paining her. “Asfand!” She pushed at his chest when he cupped her breast.

“Keep saying my name and worse will come.” He murmured against her lips before kissing her with passion and hunger. Asfand couldn’t tell who was punishing who? He was craving her more now. A different kind of craving than what he imagined.

Her eyes closed once again and she breathed in his neck when his hand continued teasing her clothed bosoms.

He is responsible for everything that happened to your sister. If he didn’t led Anser on the thought, he couldn’t have even dared to look at her.

Her hands stilled in his hair and eyes snapped open. She looked at his closed eyelids and her own eyes widen at what just transpired between them. What was occurring between them?

“No!” She pushed at his chest hard and jumped out of his hold. How can I do this? Dua buttoned her shirt hastily. Her eyes were burning with tears. Tears of regret and shame. Bile rose to her mouth upon remembering how much she was enjoying it. His touches. His kisses. “Unlock it” she pulled at the lever furiously. “Open it.”

“Don’t raise your voice janaan." Asfand pulled her face back gently but firmly. “Or I will silence you again.” Her eyes closed when his thumb caressed her bottom lip. “I like it. Your lipstick. Makes it easy to kiss you without smudging. But I still prefer to ruin it.” Dua looked at him when the click echoed.

Asfand let her go and straightened in his seat while fixing his suit. His expressions were neutral and eyes hard. He was behaving like nothing transpired between them. Dua did same and ran her trembling fingers through her hair multiple times. She wore her aviators before stepping out.

“Remember janaan!" Her hand stopped on the handle again. “Give and take. We will discuss the ground rules of our agreement tonight.” She slammed the door hard and stormed past Safan who watched her confused.

“Is everything okay?” Xian inquired when she reached him. He didn’t need to confirm. He knew something happened. Dua was wearing shades to hide her eyes. To keep him from truth. But the slight tremors that shook her frame and her fingers twisting the ring furiously gave everything away. “Did he d-”

“Withdraw everything against him.”

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