Shackled Exemption

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CHAPTER 45

Asfand was standing before the mirror and adjusting his cuff-links. A deep scowl marred his features as he stared at his reflection. This was eighth time in last five days that he was called for a meeting. There was no specific time and he had no choice but to comply.

For now.

Everything was pandemonium in underworld with Kuo Wang’s arrest and the whole axis of the situation shifted with his son’s death. And Asfandyar was now at the center of it. A dangerous smirk broke past his lips and he hummed in satisfaction while answering his phone.

“I’m on my way” Asfand adjusted the holster and wore his suit jacket before walking out of his room. “Did you find anything about Azfar Baig?”

“Nothing.” Asfand grunted in annoyance.

“What about Wasiq’s dead body? No one came to claim it yet?”

“I wasn’t expecting that bastard to be this cold-hearted. He doesn’t even give a dime to his son rotting away in some morgue.” Asfand walked down the stairs leisurely. “He is still in Pakistan. Your wife made sure of it that he couldn’t leave and no country allow him refuge.” This made Asfand chuckle. “He was arrested on the same night but we are unable to find out in which jail he is being kept. Police is not ready to spill the beans, all thanks to IGP Ashraf and we cannot use any political approach since we are being kept eyes on.”

“It doesn’t matter Safan.” Asfand walked straight out of his mansion. “We don’t need to know what happened to those fuckers. All we need is access to their files before law get their hands on them.” His men bowed in respect when he approached them. “Just get on with it and-” Asfand stopped midway in getting inside the SUV when his eyes caught something from periphery. “I’ll see you at the meeting.” He put the phone back in his pocket and walked towards the garden.

His feet stopped a few steps away from where Dua was sitting alone on the steps and lost deep in her thoughts. This was the first time he saw her properly after that night. She busied herself so much that she barely came back and whenever she did, Asfand was not present.

Asfand almost intervened when he felt that she was going overboard with things. But their dissension and her words made him back out on his step every time he thought about reaching for her. He knew Dua was shattered by what happened. She deeply cared for those people and severing ties with them by her own hands crushed her.

But the stubborn woman refused to show it.

She shut herself. Xian was not here and Ida was trying her best but Dua was not ready to listen. Then what were his chances? Dua hated Asfand to his core and dying would be much preferable for her over listening to him. To an enemy.

Dua was out to destroy herself along with many. It infuriated Asfand and he walked away from her when he knew he shouldn’t have. He left her alone when he knew this was the last thing she needed.

His heart was not unaware of the agony she was suffering behind that cold facade. He knew she was strong and was going to get by but he couldn’t stop himself.

Why should I care?

He willed himself to turn away from her. Like she wanted. Like he should. She was not his concern but just a way for getting his ways. Asfand knew it shouldn’t matter to him in the least and he should be on his way to take what was destined to be his. He would have let her be this time as well if he had not seen her right now.

The tear that fell from her eye and down her cheek.

Her broken expressions that threw away his every decision about leaving her alone. Her trembling lips and the ragged breath she took to hold in her emotions. This was the second time he saw her crying. It slashed at his heart in a way that he couldn’t comprehend.

Asfand pulled the phone out of his pocket and put it against his ear without looking away from Dua. “Safan!” He loosened his tie before running a hand wildly through his hair. What the fuck am I doing? “Cover for me.”

“You are not coming?” Asfand walked towards Dua. “What the fuck man. Do you even know what you are-”

“I have more important matters that need my undivided attention.” Dua looked at him startled when he stopped in front of her. “Don’t call unless it’s really important.” He looked back at her after putting his phone back in his pocket. “Fancy seeing you here.” Dua wiped her cheeks hastily and looked away from his piercing gaze. “You mind” Asfand slumped next to her. “If I sit here?”

“Don’t you have somewhere to go?” Dua looked ahead when he looked her way. It was bad enough that Asfand saw her in her weakest. “You look all dressed up.”

“I don’t feel like leaving anymore.” Dua clutched her arms tightly. “Noor Bi said you are not picking her calls. Are you avoiding her as well?” Dua was becoming uncomfortable with the way Asfand was looking at her. And his closure right now only made things much worse for her.

“Do you want something?” His chuckle forced her to look at him. “What?”

“Why do you always think that I come to you only when I need something from you?” Asfand leaned back on his palms and looked at the night sky. “We are husband and wife and it won’t kill us if we sit together like this harmlessly.” Asfand looked at her from his periphery. “How are you?”

“Did you seriously just ask me that?” To her annoyance, he chuckled and hummed. Dua got up to leave but Asfand caught her wrist. “What? Let-” Asfand jerked her towards him and she ended up in his arms. “What are you doing?” Dua pushed at his chest but he showed no signs of leaving her. “Leave me.”

“And if I don’t?” Asfand whispered close to her lips. “What will you do?” He pushed her further against him. “I don’t like this.” Dua frowned when his words turned to a husky whisper. “I am not liking it at all.”

“What?” Asfand was carefully scrutinizing her face. “Asfand?”

“When was the last time you slept?” Dua was thrown off guard. “I don’t think it is that tough of a question.” Dua tried to pull away but Asfand didn’t let her. “Running away again?”

“Leave me.” Asfand let her go and stood up.

“I will once I have made sure you are tied down to the bed.” Before Dua could have ran away, Asfand caught hold of her arm and entwined their hands. “I will use force if needed.” He dragged her back inside the mansion.

“I don’t need your-”

“Shut up” Dua blinked at his back in surprise. “Boring holes in my back won’t kill me janaan.” Her heart thumped loudly when he used the endearment after so long. “You need to do better than that.”

“Young miss?” Ida approached them when they entered living area. “Mr. Sherzai?” She looked at them in surprise. “Is everything alright?” Dua tried to pull away but her attempts only made Asfand hold tight. And this action didn’t go unnoticed by Ida.

“Can you do me a favor?” Ida nodded. “Serve dinner in our room for tonight.”

“I’m not hungry” Dua protested but Asfand turned a deaf ear to every word at the moment. “Asfand!”

“And make sure it’s light on stomach.” Their interaction actually made Ida smile. “Your young miss might have some trouble digesting her favorites for now.” Ida nodded happily and watched Asfand pull Dua’s protesting form up the stairs and towards their room.

Ida couldn’t see Dua suffering anymore. She broke completely after cutting her ties with Shah family and there was no one to piece her together. Xian was not here and she couldn’t do anything alone. For days, Ida saw her moving around like corpse and it killed her.

“Please god” Ida joined her hands in a prayer. “Don’t let this child suffer anymore.” Ida was glad for this act of kindness from Asfandyar. It didn’t matter if it was intentional or not. What mattered to Ida was that someone tried to break through her shell.

Someone broke through her shell and reached out for her.

“When are you going to let go?” Dua looked at his hand that was holding hers in a gentle grip. Her eyes moved to the back of his head when he didn’t answer. And for the first time, she felt glad that he didn’t do what she wanted him to do.

Asfand opened the door and took her straight to the bed. Dua didn’t even protest when he pushed her down to sit and hovered over her like a dark shadow. Their eyes clashed and a moment of silence stretched from one to the other.

“What?” Asfand growled lowly.

“I didn’t say anything.” Dua replied lowly. Asfand sucked in a breath. His eyes wandered to her slightly parted lips and he fought back the urge to claim them senseless.

“I heard everything.” He stood up straight and turned the other way with hands in pockets. God knows what could have happened if he had stayed close to her for a second long. He almost lost it just now and that was the last thing he wanted. “Eat and sleep. That’s what you are going to do until you get your shit together.” Her soft scoff made Asfand turn with a glare. “I didn’t crack a joke.”

“I didn’t say you did.” Dua pushed back and leaned against the headboard. Now that he mentioned, she suddenly felt exhausted. “Do you know magic of some sort?” Asfand raised one brow in question. “Is everything alright at your end?” Asfand knew what Dua meant and it made him smirk. “You-”

“I am going to live if that’s what you are worried about.” Dua looked away with a scoff. “I’m touched janaan but you should worry about yourself more than me.” Asfand sat next to her and caged her in his arms. “Your prey is still on the loose.”

“Are you worried that he will rat you out to your higher ups?” His smirk didn’t fell. “You played against your own kin. I know Kuo Wang was your biggest confederate yet you betrayed him against your common foes.”

“I suppose I did.” Dua stared deep in his eyes but couldn’t find what she was looking for. This one thing has been eating away at her. Why he came when he had no reason to? Dua knew Asfand’s intervention meant serious trouble at both ends. She just couldn’t understand why Asfand did what he did.

“Why did you come?” Asfand mused over her expressions and actions. Dua was looking at him so openly. “You wanted to take over him, didn’t you?”

“That’s one way to put it.” Dua pursed her lips. “Why? You didn’t like my answer?” Asfand pinched her chin softly to make her look back in his eyes again. He didn’t want her to look away from him if possible. “Let’s say I did it to satiate my curiosity. A blow was landed but” Asfand hummed lowly while looking in her eyes, “do you know where?”

“Maybe.” His brow rose in mock curiosity.

“You know where your prey is.” It was Dua’s turn to smirk. Damn this woman. “And here I thought the doll actually needed the support.”

“Who knows” Dua shrugged innocently. “But like you said, I am going to eat and sleep until I get the shit straight.” Asfand sat up straight with a smirk when their door knocked and Ida walked in. “Who knows what this little tip might result into.”

*********

His limbs were of lead and he, a walking corpse. One could see the defeat and dejection in his hunched frame and gait. He wanted to hide but there was no place spared where he could. He was ruined beyond ruination and destroyed beyond destruction.

But he was far from being done with his payment.

“You have only ten minutes.” The officer let go of the chain to his shackles and stepped back. The police retrieved on their steps and left him alone in the big, bare and barely lit room. They knew he wouldn’t dare to run away. He couldn’t run away now.

And their job was done.

His knees wobbled when he saw the mutilated body of his son in the casket and he fell to the floor. “Why?” His hands shakily reached for Wasiq’s face but dropped midway. He couldn’t’ even bring himself to touch him. “I told you to stay out. Why didn’t you listen to me, you foolish brat.” His sobs echoed back to him from every corner. “Look what you did to these old bones.”

Azfar never thought things would go out of hands to this extent. The blow of losing his power as a politician was so big that he didn’t see what he was agreeing to in his haste for revenge.

In his blind pursuit to destroy Dua Feroze Rahija and Shahs, he didn’t see the variables that turned against him. His so-called nemesis forsake him, even before his wheel turned in opposite direction. Azfar wanted to get back at his enemies and the people who betrayed him. He wanted to get back the throne he lost, all the power and wealth he had to let go unwillingly.

But the trap he set was the trap in which he fell with his own feet.

Not only did he dug a grave for himself but for his son and Kuo Wang as well. They thought they had their enemies by necks but their arrogance proved itself the biggest mistake of their lives.

And now the price lay before his eyes in the form of his son’s dead body.

Azfar didn’t even need the dragging out from his hole. He came out on his own. And he was going to meet his end on his own.

The door opened again and the soft click of the heels followed. Azfar didn’t move when he sensed the approaching doom. He knew there was no point in looking up to the death that was bound to claim what it came to take.

“Karma is really a bitch.” A haunting voice whispered upon seeing his crumbled arrogance and pride. “But humans never learn.” Azfar looked up tiredly when Dua stopped in front of him. Her poisonous smile was acid to his tormented soul. “I wish I could say what a pleasant surprise.”

“Why?” Dua turned away with a humorless chuckle. “Why did you have to go this far?”

“You didn’t want to see your son for the last time?” She could feel his eyes boring daggers in her back. “And here I thought a lesson would have been learnt. Alas!” She turned with coldest expressions and a gun in hand. “You really can’t change the inherent nature of a person.”

“My son owed you nothing-”

“Your son was not innocent exactly.” Dua pressed the muzzle to his forehead when Azfar tried to get up. “Where is the cavalry Mr. Baig? I thought they would have turned heavens to earth for you. After all, you were loyal to them to your last bone.” Azfar had nothing to say. “One tower fell and they destroyed the rest with their own hands.” Dua pushed him down with the gun. “We just threw one card and your own shadows bait you out.”

“What does it matter Ms. Sahi. It’s not like I didn’t know or you didn’t know. In the end, one is on his own in this cruel world” Azfar whispered hoarsely. “But whatever I did was for the sake of my loved ones.”

“Don’t patronize” Dua gritted lowly. “You should have thought million times before thinking about kidnapping Amber and Rayan and here you actually dared to pull the stunt.” Azfar gulped loudly when Dua put her finger on the trigger. “You got what you staked for and he” Dua nodded towards the casket, “reaped what he sowed.”

“If we knew you will become such a malignant-” Azfar gnashed his teeth when Dua sneered. “I should have killed you with my own hands. It was a mistake to let you live-”

“You still have the bone left to get angry?” Dua mused darkly. “I knew you would not be easy like your comrades.” Azfar seethed silently. “So! You want to kill me? Should I give you an opportunity?” Azfar looked at the gun she thrust in his hand. Dua took two leisure steps back and stood straight with calm expressions and crossed arms.

Her very posture and attitude put Azfar on the brink of insanity.

He knew it was one of many traps she had in wait for his doom. Yet, he was considering to aim the gun at her and shoot. He knew there were zero chances of his escape and he will be killed. Yet, he couldn’t stop himself from pointing the gun at her.

His hands started shaking badly. She was alone with him at the moment. Her right hand was not beside her like always. Those who might have accompanied her here were oblivious to the chaos that could ensue.

“What’s wrong Mr. Baig? Is the trigger jammed?” Dua mocked coldly. “Or have you forgotten how to use it?”

“Stop playing games with me, you bitch” Azfar boomed. “What do you want? What more do you want? You took everything. You destroyed everything. My career, my wealth, my reputation, my family. I’ve been exiled from my own fucking country.” He yelled like a madman. “There is no place left in the world where I can go. Every country has blacklisted me. If I stay here, I die. If I run, I die. You have made my life worse than a living hell Dua Feroze Rahija. You ruined me. What more do you want?”

“I don’t want anything from you.” Dua replied coldly. “But you might want something from yourself.” His stretched arm fell to his side. “The question is” Dua turned the other way once again and looked into the darkness that was staring back at her. “Are you willing enough to give yourself what you truly want?”

Dua nodded a silent command toward Aya. She was not alone and Xian made sure of it even in his absence. Their men and Aya were on stand-by all this time but Azfar was unable to see. Not because they were hidden, but because people like him are too blind to see.

“Time is running Mr. Baig.” Aya couldn’t believe how calm Dua was at such critical moment. Her gun was ready to take immediate action because she wasn’t expecting Dua to hand the gun to Azfar and turn her back to enemy so openly. The man almost pulled the trigger a moment ago.

But Dua was not in the bit afraid or fazed.

She doesn’t even blink before jumping the gun. Just what is this woman really?

“But” Dua faced Azfar again, “what is there for you to live for once you are done with me?” Azfar aimed the gun to her head and every gun in the room was pointed to Azfar without his knowledge. “What will you do once you have avenged your son?” Dua took one tentative step towards him.

“Are you going to go after those who betrayed you when I struck your kingdom? Or are you going to plan a strategy to take back your throne once again?” Dua stopped on the other end of the gun. Forehead pressed to the muzzle and arms crossed, she was looking in his eyes without any emotion. “How many bodies are you going to lay before you step on them to reach the high end once again?”

“Shut up” Azfar hissed lowly and Dua smiled. “I said shut up.”

“And here I thought you were actually devastated by the death of your only son.” His eyes turned red. “How very formidable of you.”

“Shutpshutupshutupshutup.” He grabbed his head and yelled on top of his lungs. “I didn’t kill my son. I didn’t lay his body on the ground for my own benefits. You did. You all did” He pointed around the empty room like a madman. “You are playing me, you little wench. I know you all are playing me. They are laughing at me. I know you all are laughing at me.” He screamed.

“You played me, you fucker. After everything I did for you, you played me and forsake me.” He looked at Dua with wild eyes. “I didn’t do any of that. They did. He did. He made us do everything, even killing your family.” This one sentence caught her undivided attention.

“Who?”

“I knew that man was not to be trusted.” Dua ground her teeth when Azfar continued rambling like a madman. “I knew he was going to do away with us one day.” Dua didn’t blink when Azfar got in her face. “He used me to the end. He-” His eyes fell on Dua. “It’s you. You-” He pressed the muzzle to her temple. “You will pay for everything.”

“With what?” Dua interjected calmly. “I don’t think you left anything on my account to be afraid of the bullet you have secured under my name.” His face turned red. “Do it. I’m sure if not entirely, it will put you a little at ease.”

“Who shot my son?” The silence became impregnable. “Were Sherzai in on this with you? No, no.” He shook his head. “That is not the right question.” He looked at Dua emptily. “Was Asfandyar in on all this?” Dua didn’t even blink. “He was, wasn’t he?” Azfar chuckled dryly. “That bastard! He was right about him. This fucker is not to be trusted.”

“It doesn’t matter who pulled the trigger.” Dua replied calmly, “The fact remains that you put your son on the line.”

“Stop it” He screamed.

“I wanted to kill you but death will be so easy for you.” Dua tsked lowly. “I want you to suffer every moment. I want you to burn in the agony of your decisions. Live with it for the rest of your life but know that no amount of guilt and repentance will bring your son back. Your blood that you shed in the so-called name of your power.”

“Stop”

“You will live in this hell for every moment of your life but nothing will compensate for the sin you committed to your own flesh. You will rot in this fiery pit but will not be spared and you know what the fun part will be. You will be your own judge and sinner.” Azfar palmed his ears. “You will not be spared Azfar Baig and I will watch you writhe in it every second of your wretched life-”

Shot

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