Shackled Exemption

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Dua was looking at her hand when Ida entered their room. “Oh my!” Ida left the trolley and rushed to her side. “You are awake. How are you feeling?” Dua closed her eyes when Ida checked her forehead. “You still have fever-”

“Ida!” Dua held her wrist gently and lowered it. “Remove this drip.” Ida looked at her hand with knitted brows. “Just take it out. You know I don’t like needles.” Ida opened her mouth to protest. “Now.” Ida had no other choice but to comply. She knew her stubbornness would only worsen her recovery.

“Your fever has not returned to normal. Doctor said it will take at least three days to go down.” Dua rubbed her hand to ease the sting. “Don’t act rash and rest-”

“Call Xian and Aya.” Ida stopped midway in pouring soup. “Tell Xian to arrange meeting with Mikhailov. I want to know recent updates on Afroz Sherzai.” Ida clutched the spoon tightly. “And why is it taking this long to locate Anse-”

“No.” Ida turned to Dua sharply. “You are not going anywhere. Can you even see yourself right now? Do you even know what condition you came in?” Ida bit her lip to stop herself from breaking down. “Enough is enough Dua. Just stop. For now. Please! I beg you.” Dua kept looking at her blankly. “You are going too far Dua. This is going too far.”


“No” She interjected Dua again. “I won’t stand by this anymore. This is madness. This revenge is doing you more harm Dua. You can’t even see what you are doing anymore.” Dua looked away from her. “Looking away won’t change anything. Just like this revenge won’t bring them back.”

“Ida!” Her eyes turned red. “Don’t!”

“It’s the truth Dua and it will always stay the truth. No matter how much blood you spill, they won’t come back and this fire in your heart won’t extinguish. It will keep on burning you because you keep on fueling it.” In this moment, Ida was scared of her hollowness. “What have you become Dua? What are you becoming?”

“Leave” Dua looked away from her. “Leave me alone.”

“They would have never wanted this for you.” Ida wiped her tears. “They would have never wanted you to choose this hell for yourself. It will be hurting them more to see you living this life than that death.” Dua leaned her head against the headboard when Ida ran out of room.

Dua knew Ida truly cared for her. She did everything to protect Dua when she came back from the dead. Dua knew how much Ida wanted her to stay away from this path. She did everything to keep Dua from her revenge but it was not in her control.

It was in no one’s control.

“I know Ida” Dua looked at the ring on her index finger. “But their screams don’t let me forget.” A new kind of hate rose to surface when she reminisced the bitter events of her past. “Her last plea don’t let me forget.” She threw the blanket off and got up. Her head spun but Dua refused to sit back and let those people live one more day. “And I won’t let them forget.” She went straight to the bathroom. Dua took a quick shower and freshened up. She wore bathrobe and dried her hair before coming out in closet area to change.

“Going somewhere?” Dua turned towards the closet entrance with surprise. “You look in a hurry.” Asfand leaned against the frame and loosened his tie while eyeing her casually. “Where to janaan?”

“Leave.” Dua turned away from his searing gaze. “I need to change.”

“Yeah, but not in that.” Dua was startled when Asfand took the suit from her and hung it back. “Get back in bed.”

“No.” His eyes narrowed at her defiance. “I don’t have time for your games Asfand. Step back and let me be.” Dua reached for her suit again but Asfand grabbed her wrist. “What is you-Asfand!” Dua exclaimed loudly when Asfand carried her over his shoulder and took her back in their room. “Put me down.” Asfand dumped Dua on the bed and loomed over her to keep her in place. “You are sick.”

“Not yet but I might if you kept this up.” Dua glared at him when he brushed his nose with hers. “I terribly need a shower and sleep janaan. It has been one hell of a night for me. You should change as well while I’m in there. Otherwise” he looked down at her with a teasing smile. “I don’t mind but it could prove fatal to your fragile health.”

“Get out of my face” Dua looked to side when Asfand leaned close to her mouth. “I don’t want you to blame me later for extracting my germs.”

“So, you wouldn’t have minded otherwise?” Asfand smirked when Dua looked back at him in surprise. “I guess I won’t mind extracting your germs then.”

“Asfand!” Asfand chuckled against her palm. “Just go.” Dua sat up when Asfand finally got off her. “What?” Her brow shot up in question when he kept looking at her.

“Don’t even dare to set foot outside this room Dua.” His expressions turned serious within a second. “I don’t care about whatever and I won’t hesitate to tie you down to this bed if needed.” Dua didn’t blink when he leaned over her. “You can call whoever and do whatever but I will do what I have to keep you here.” Dua kept looking in his green orbs until she couldn’t bear with his gaze anymore. Their intensity made her uncomfortable in a different way.

“Go” She whispered lowly while looking away from Asfand. Dua didn’t turn until she heard the bathroom door close. “What does it matter to you?” A shaky breath escaped her lips and she got up hurriedly to change. Dua knew Asfand was not going to let her set one foot outside the estate and Xian and Ida were not going to stop him from doing whatever he wished to do.

But that doesn’t mean she was going to sit idly and let them be.

Dua came back in the room after changing and called Iram. “I want the files Sharlene will send you in next hour.” She sat on the bed and wore her watch. “Bring them by yourself and call Aya. Tell her I want to meet her.” She checked her pulse rate and heartbeat. “I’m waiting.”

Dua ended the call right when the bathroom door opened. She put her phone aside when Asfand walked back in the room while towel drying his hair in nothing but sweatpants. Dua pressed the button on her watch when it began to beep furiously.

“What?” Asfand looked at her questioningly. Dua just shrugged and looked away when Asfand came closer to her. “What was that?”

“What was what?” Dua looked at him warily when he sat in front of her. Her eyes unconsciously wandered down his naked torso. To all the scars he bore. “Why do you have so many?” She whispered to herself but Asfand heard her. Dua was surprised when he grabbed her hand and placed it over his chest.

Dua looked in his eyes before looking at her hand resting on his heart. She moved it to his left pectoral and stopped right above his collar-bone.

“At 5, because I accidentally broke Anser’s favorite car.” Dua moved her hand over a diagonal scar on his abdomen . It was longest and deepest than rest. “At 22. I went to Romania for a deal. I was attacked on my way back to airport by the very dealers.” Asfand chuckled darkly. “The motherf*****s wanted to kill me for my position. They sent trained assassins in disguise of my escort. It was worse than every attack I had from my enemies.” Dua looked down at his abdomen again.

“They blew our cars first to weaken our defense. Two bullets in the back, one in the left shoulder and this” He looked down at his abdomen and her hand on top of it. “I don’t even remember how deep they plunged the blade after slashing me open. Alas!” He looked back in her eyes. “Devil lived.” Dua traced his right arm from elbow to deltoid. “At 7, Afroz hung me all night because I walked out of the barns when his guests were at place.”

“It’s enough” Asfand grabbed her hand and guided it back to his chest. Right below his heart.

“At 20” he whispered while looking in her eyes, “by my few hours long br-” Dua blinked at her hand on his mouth. She couldn’t comprehend why she did it but she didn’t want Asfand to say it out loud. Asfand lowered her hand and held it tight. “What’s wrong janaan?” His gaze was burning her. “I thought you wanted to know.”

“It’s not something to be talked about this intriguingly.” Asfand smirked at her chagrin. “I thought you wanted to sleep.”

“I do” Asfand finally let her breath normally by moving back a little. “I plan on sleeping half of the day janaan. That’s how much tired I am. But certain matters are not letting me do as I wish in the moment” Asfand fell back and closed his eyes with a tired sigh. “Your food is untouched.”

“I am not hungry.” Asfand peeled open one eye to look at her. “Are you going to shove the food down my throat as well?”

“Sounds appealing but where is the fun in that?” Asfand sat back up with a huff and faced her once again. “You are behaving like a brat right now.” Dua glared at him murderously. “Your glare is proving me right love. A person who intended to take it to end won’t afford to act this rash for anyone.” Dua didn’t look away from him. “Save all the strength janaan. You need every bit of it for the end game.” Asfand smirked at her anger. “How do you plan to get to your enemies when you can’t even stand on your own two feet for now?”

“Don’t underestimate me.” Asfand chuckled and stood up. “Your humor can cost you more than your life.”

“I’m sure it can. And I am not underestimating you but you definitely are underestimating a lot of variables right now.” Asfand shoved his hands in his pockets and looked down at her. “I know you are intelligent but listening to your well-wishers at times won’t hurt you.” Dua looked away from him. “I’m sending Ida up. Eat and rest.”

“Where are you going?” Asfand turned back to her with a teasing smirk. “I mean-yo-” Dua cursed inwardly when Asfand retrieved his steps back to her leisurely. “Forget that I even asked.”

“Not a chance.” Asfand sat next to her and caged her in his arms. “It’s not every day I get to hear things from you other than revenge and kill and you will pay for this.” He pinched her chin softly and made her look back at him. “It feels-”

“Aren’t you acting out of character these days?” Dua cupped his hand and lowered it. “It’s so not like Asfandyar Sherzai.”

“I was never Asfandyar Sherzai next to you.” Dua couldn’t even blink when Asfand kissed her out of blue. “But you are right. Don’t let your guard down.” Asfand chuckled at her expressions. “It could be a plan of mine to ruin you.” Her ears and cheeks burnt. “Eat and sleep until I come back.” Asfand winked at her and got up. “I am going to my study.”

“Asfand!” Dua called him suddenly. “Don’t go” Asfand looked at her over his shoulder. “Like this.” Dua cleared her throat when Asfand turned in amusement. “There are female workers in the house.”

“I am well aware of the fact.” Asfand mused at her fuming. “And I don’t think it’s something new for them.” He gestured to his naked torso and got the desired reaction out of his haughty wife. “They have been working here for a long time.”

“Well, don’t do it anymore.” Dua pressed, “They won’t say it out of fear but I am sure your half naked parade must have disturbed them all this time.”

“I highly doubt that” Asfand chuckled and went to their closet. Dua inwardly sighed in relief when he came out with a shirt and wore it. “Happy?” Dua looked away with a scoff. “I’ll take that as a yes.” Asfand chuckled again. “Later janaan.”

“Don’t blame me if you get sick” Dua yelled at his back. Asfand just chuckled and waved at her lazily without looking back. “He is impossible” She muttered under her breath when Asfand left. Dua leaned against the headboard while pinching the bridge of her nose and looked at the trolley Ida left.

It made her feel bad.

Dua pressed the button on intercom and called Ida. She felt bad for the way she behaved with her. It was not her fault. It was no one’s fault. Dua knew she was letting certain things rule her instead of ruling them. She didn’t notice why and when she let it happen but it won’t go on for long.

She was D. Almas Sahi and repeating a mistake was not her nature.

“Young miss?” Dua looked up when Ida came inside the room with Iram. “Ms. Iram is here to see you.” Dua got up and sat on the couch. Iram placed the files in front of her and stepped back when Dua nodded at her.

“I have a task for you Iram.” Dua read through the files, “In fact, for both of you.” Ida and Iram looked at each other. “Do you have a passport?” Dua placed the files back and looked at Iram.

“I do.” Dua smiled. “But why?”

“Ida will contact you. You may leave for now.” Iram nodded reluctantly and left. “Where was the last sighting?” Ida looked back at Dua. She was twisting the ring of her father slowly but furiously. She is going to strike.

“Morocco” Dua smiled. “But we are not sure if he is still there.” Dua stood up and went to the study in their room. Ida followed her closely. “He is keeping it low to avoid coming on the radar. All the passports he used are fake and under different names.” Dua nodded silently. “And because he keeps on using different disguises to leave and enter countries, we are unable to locate him.”

“It won’t be the case anymore.” Dua stopped next to the magnetic globe and spun her finger around it slowly. “There was a pattern to his movements, that’s why we couldn’t catch him.” Dua leaned against the table and faced Ida. “He won’t be in Morocco anymore but” She spun her finger around the magnetic ball again. A dark smile spread on her lips when she stopped her finger again. “He is Lebanon now.” Dua spun it again. “And his next stop will be.” Ida finally got what Dua meant.

“Prepare for Yemen.” Ida nodded. “You and Iram will leave a day after tomorrow to deliver a welcome present before his arrival.” Dua looked at the country under her finger. “And that present will change his direction back to where he belongs.”


Dua woke up when she sensed someone standing next to her. “I thought I told you to rest.” Asfand picked her files from the floor and kept them back on the side-table. “And here you are-”

“What made you think I was going to obey you so diligently?” Asfand smirked. “Were you looking for something that could come handy in your further strategies?” Dua sat up and looked at her files. She knew they didn’t fell on their own. “Low blow Mr. Sherzai.”

“Likewise Mrs. Sherzai” Asfand chuckled and sat next to her. “You think so highly of me that it’s flabbergasting.” Dua smirked at his retort. “But to your utter disappointment, you don’t own something that I might need to steal.” Her brow shot up at this. “If I want something, I will take it rightfully and right in front of you. I’m a businessman janaan not some roadside thief.”

“When did you come back?” Dua couldn’t stop herself from asking. She didn’t notice when she fell asleep. It was already night. “I thought you wanted to sleep half of the day.”

“Work caught up” Asfand stood up and stretched his neck left to right. He was tired as fuck but he could not afford to take a breather. “Go back to sleep janaan.”

“And you?” Asfand looked down at Dua. She was looking so innocent right now because of the sleep in her eyes. Her voice was drowsy and she kept rubbing and blinking her eyes to keep the open. Like a child. “What?” Asfand looked away from her with a curse.

“Go to sleep.” Asfand gritted while looking away from her. Damn this woman. She is so sly without even trying.

“I’m not going to just because you said it.” Asfand looked back when Dua got up. “I’m not your pet that you keep barking sleep, eat and sleep at me.” She pushed past him and went to the study.

“What are you doing?” Asfand followed after her and scowled when she sat on the couch with crossed arms. “You are still sick.”

“What of it?” Dua snapped back. “I won’t get any better by lying on the bed day and night like a corpse.” His jaw twitched in anger. “It’s doing me no good.” Dua felt more infuriated when Asfand walked out on her silently. “What were you doing?” Dua muttered to herself while staring at the black screen on the wall. She had no answer for her own question.

“You should stop cursing me janaan.” Dua blinked in surprise when Asfand draped blanket over her. “There is a moment of acceptance in a day when every prayer is answered.” Asfand slumped next to her. “So! What do you want to do?”

“What?” Asfand got up and went to the grand screen. “What are you doing?” Dua watched him messing with few wires before he turned it on. “What?” She asked again when Asfand came back and sat next to her. He desperately looked in need of serious sleep.

“Do you watch movies?” Dua was not expecting this. “It’s not that hard to answer.” Asfand raised a skeptic brow at her silence. “You don’t?”

“I don’t” Dua finally blinked and shook her head. “I didn’t had time to-”

“Of course” Asfand snorted loudly, “Great planning and grand revenge. I get you.” Dua fumed at his mockery. “But I believe you might had a life before you turned-” He looked at her face. “I’m sure you used to watch movies when you were normal.”

“Excuse me?” Asfand continued surfing through the list without bothering her murderous glare. “Normal?”

“Which genre you preferred?” Dua huffed at his continuous ignorance. “Romance?”

“Well, you have laid the history of my life before me” Dua made an air gesture to emphasize her point. “Why don’t you tell me what I might have preferred when I was normal?” Asfand mused at her anger.

“You cannot change the nature” Dua pressed her lips together. “I don’t think you were ever normal to begin with. If you were” Asfand threw his head back and gazed at her lazily. “You wouldn’t be this damn appealing.” Her watch started beeping furiously. “What is with your watch?”

“It monitors my health.” Asfand smirked which made her highly flustered. “I’m still waiting.”

“Thriller and action I believe but not without technology. You seem quite fond of it.” Asfand looked at her watch teasingly. “Monitors your health huh?” Asfand chuckled deeply. “Bull’s eye?” Dua looked away from Asfand with a scoff. “Want to guess mine?”

“Classic series?” Asfand’s smirk broadened. “Bull’s eye I believe?” Dua pressed her watch to mute when Asfand laughed. “Aren’t you going to sleep?” Asfand just leaned back after playing the movie. “You should sleep.”

“You should relax” Asfand raked his hair wildly which made her heart beat furiously. “Even great minds need a break from bullshit every now and then.” Dua focused her eyes back on the screen.

It was after seven years that she was watching a movie with someone. Her heart constricted with memories once again.

“I don’t want-” His head fell on her shoulder just when Dua was about to reach for the remote. “Asfand?” Dua looked at him in question when he didn’t move. “He fell asleep?” Dua watched his closed eyes incredulously. “I told you to sleep.” Asfand groaned when Dua brushed the hair back from his forehead. He turned a little and nuzzled his face further in her neck. Dua turned to stone when his arm draped over her abdomen and his hot breaths fanned her neck.

Dua wanted to push him off but she couldn’t. He looked like a big baby right now. He was worn out and it was evident on his face and in his posture. Asfand never let his guard down around Dua before like this. She was wary of this change but curious as well.

“What are you doing?” Dua smiled when Asfand grunted in pleasure at the feel of her fingers combing through his hair. They were soft like a silk. Unlikely of him. “You are-” Her hand stopped on his cheek when she remembered his conversation with that man.

He always knew.

“Some things will never change.” Dua retracted her hand and focused her attention back to the movie he played. I will never forget. “Never.”

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