Shackled Exemption

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CHAPTER 4

Dee bolted straight up with sharp and loud gasps. Her hands automatically went to her throat and she looked around, slightly disoriented with heavy breaths. For tiniest part of second, darkness choked her until she pushed her senses back and got out of bed. It became impossible for her to stay within the confines of four walls that seemed to be closing in on her every time she looked at them.

Lately, she has been unable to sleep properly. Not a day passed when she didn’t wake up after being chased by constant nightmares that were trying to take over her mind.

But she didn’t let them hinder her in any way possible.

She couldn’t.

No if she wants to have what she desire the most.

She adjusted her hair in a hightail and strapped her matte black watch. After donning her Gel Kayano, she fixed i-pod on her arm. Once geared up, she left the vicinity of her room without bothering to wear the track jacket over her tight fit black tank-top and came straight out of her villa. She began jogging on the marked track at reasonable pace. It was dark and utterly cold but she couldn’t stay inside and ponder over facts that were unnecessary.

But that didn’t mean her mind stopped wandering back to those thoughts.

Her pace increased when that day flashed through her mind, flaring her anger and warming her body faster. That was the last thing she expected from Hadi. If she hadn’t gone herself, she might have never known what was happening, right under her watch.

“Dee!” She focused on the path ahead instead of the person who was trying to catch up to her. Not that he could not but he was being cautious after what has been done. “Slow down, you fast bee.” Haider’s level of ignorance only fueled her anger more. She pushed past her limits to get away from him when he came to an abrupt halt in front of her, forcing her to stop as well.

“Move along Haider.” She brushed past him and went to her designated spot. Leaning over the iron railings, she watched the darkness slowly dissipate along the horizon.

But the darkness within her heart and mind could never be chased away.

“You didn’t even listen to me. Things are not as they seem-” Dee turned to him with cold and humorless glare. His own expressions hardened and his eyes turned cold while matching her glare. “Can you fucking let me explain before making assumptions on your own?”

“You are interfering Hadi” she almost yelled at him. “I warned you not to meddle-”

“And I warned you I will intervene at every step, leading you to the hell.” She faced away from him when the light glow began to take over the sky. It always concluded to this and that is why she wanted it to be strictly confidential.

“You were attacked” she didn’t bother to turn when Haider leaned next to her, “and you expect me to stand by the side and just watch while you do this? To yourself? Purposely.” Haider was having great difficulty in watching his anger around Dee. It was hard enough already. The way she was moving forward without any conscience of what the outcome may result in. It was putting him off the edge because he could never tell what she was going to do next.

Haider could never anticipate her moves. Not now and not before when she was young. She bloody knew how to play others without actually playing with them. You won’t even know until you are too deep in the trap. And that was formidable thing about Dee. Or has become over time. She became too fearless and it scared Haider. He knew of the things this lone fact could make her do.

Haider was this close to taking matters in his hands if she kept refusing to listen. She can wail or throw all the tantrums, shoot him even but he won’t let her enter the hell at his watch.

“This matter is not yours to deal with Haider. How many times do I have to tell you that? I am not a child that you need to watch over me. Why can’t you understand how pedantic situation can become once you are involved? You are responsible for three lives Hadi and one of them is not even born yet.”

“Four” he corrected her calmly. “You are not doing that deal Sahi” he grabbed hold of her arm and forced her to face him.

“You cannot decide on my behalf.” She shook her arm free off his hold and walked away. Dee knew but she was determined. Hadi knew this as well but still, he tried fruitlessly.

***************

Her place was exclusive and she snorted inwardly at how people fawned over her. She cannot blame them because that is what the human nature is.

They will horde where there is a chance and once they have sucked it dry, they will leave without a care.

“It is all as you wished.” Dee nodded while surveying the audience. The hall was filled many renowned businessmen and women who gathered for the great auction. Without her knowledge, she was gripping the dinner knife tightly in her hand when her eyes found someone she was least expecting to encounter. Ever. “Careful!” Xian gently took the knife from her and placed it back on the table. “Eyes everywhere and scary are those which are unable to be located.”

“I don’t want any mistake” Dee gave Xian a firm look and he left to bid his part without blinking twice. She was doing whatever she could to focus ahead instead of the eyes that were now dotted on her in the dimly lit room.

“Ms. Sahi! What a pleasant surprise. We never expected to have you in person. I cannot explain how utterly honored we are feeling tonight.” Dee smiled a little of smile when the organizer of this auction approached her and dived into details to pursue her however to bid the highest.

A sea of people and yet all she could feel and see without even trying were those haunting green eyes.

What a mess the situation have become with him in the game.

************

“Thousand and fifty million” Sharlene raised their card again.

“Thousand and seventy five” Safan spoke on Asfand’s behalf. Right after he did, another anonymous bidder overtook him through the call.

“Ma’am!” Sharlene addressed Dee reluctantly but she didn’t acknowledge. Her eyes were locked in a heated glare with those haunting green eyes that were watching her in cold derision. It was very clear in the way he was sitting that he was looking down on her in every aspect, the top most being her female.

Dee focused her attention on Xian when he came back and stood beside her. A mere nod and she leaned back in her seat.

“No need Sharlene” She watched the auction resume between Mr. Sherzai and that anonymous bidder in amusement. Her cooperative withdrawal was annoying Mr. Sherzai because he let that anonymous bidder win in the end. “Because I always win in the end.” Dee couldn’t help the taunting smirk that adorned her red lips as she got up to leave. She made her way towards the exit but not before giving a wicked glance to a now fuming wolf.

***************

“You people never get bored and tired of these retro blackmails, do you?” Dee chuckled ruefully. “Careful Mr. Mikhailov. I don’t think you are in any position to threaten me. After all, the gun is in my hands and my finger on the trigger. I can pull it whenever I want.” She watched her reflection in mock amusement while moving along the vast hallway. The mirrors were mimicking her expressions but none of them was close to real thing.

“We will see who bows to whom” Dee ended the call when she reached the terrace lounge and stared at the vast spread of city lights, shimmering like scattered dots. She walked towards the edge and grabbed the cold metal as she leaned over the rails and watched the city below with empty eyes for a millisecond.

Thirty minutes, all she need to do is wait for these thirty minutes to pass.

Sensing a presence behind out of nowhere, she turned and ended up colliding with someone. Her phone fell to the floor, its crash reverberating through the silence. A mere touch and Dee took a voluntary step back from this daunting person whom she was trying to avoid at any cost.

“Why does it not amuse me?” Asfand sneered viciously while looking at Dee in mock. It didn’t take long for their men to come and stood by their respective sides, in stance and ready to charge if needed. “Ms. D. Almas Sahi!” Asfand drawled her name slowly and just the ring of it pricked her skin with unseen thorns. “What an utter disappointment you are constantly proving yourself to be.” Dee tilted her head a little and raised a questioning brow at him. She saw how the mere gesture infuriated Asfand but he kept his act to appear as civilized as possible.

“Luxurious, isn’t it? The life you own where everything is served to you on a silver platter. That is why it is so easy for you to disregard things and matters that you should not. You have it easy so you run when a little hardship arises.”

Asfand shoved his hands in his pockets at the nonchalant attitude this little woman was showing him. His fists were balled tightly and he was doing everything he could to prevent himself from strangling her delicate neck. She was a disgrace and a nuisance in his eyes. With the way she behaved and dressed. She was a temptress alright and he saw it himself how men lusted after her. The more he sees her, the more reasons he was finding to finish her once and for all.

She dared to challenge him and then mock him by cancelling the deal. His time was precious and she toyed with it. What was she? Nothing. No family and the only relation was with Shahs. But his observation gave him enough data to affirm that she keeps her distance from them.

Her arrogance and conceit is beyond reprimand and if Asfand was in his territory, he would have taught her very well what happened to women who dared to look him in the eye or raise their head and voice against him.

So, who will come if something was to happen to her? She was an easy target in every way possible. He had more than one ways in his mind, some more brutal than others. Their mere thought might cripple a person mentally for a lifetime. That was what fun meant for Asfandyar Sherzai.

He reveled in the anguish and pain of others and it brought utter joy to him. He might be considered a sadistic sociopath but that is how he is and that is how he will always remain. Power is what he wants and for that, spilling any amount of blood means nothing. And her death might bring an extra topping to what he was moving towards.

“Is defeat that scary to you Ms. Sahi? You withdrew before you could go halfway. How can I believe a woman like you deserve the title of a world renown businesswoman?”

“Ms. Sahi?” Dee didn’t look away from Asfand when the auctioneer came with his assistant. “We have been looking for you. You didn’t sign the papers to shift the assets under your name.” Asfand’s eyes widened just a fraction in surprise. “You already saved their sinking ship when you took over their companies and shares. We believe you will put the place to good use now that it has come under your name.” A haunting smile slowly crept to her rosy lips when she took the pen and signed the papers. “It won’t take long for the black rumors to dissipate. Congratulations for owning the N.W Trust Foundation and Crystal Art Museum.”

“And Mr. Sherzai” The man turned to Asfand who was fuming silently. Safan watched his boss in anticipation of his next move. It will be a miracle if Asfand didn’t pull out his gun and shoot every one of them. The man preferred immediate action rather than logical thinking to deal with matters that were not to his liking or infuriated him. “It was an immense pleasure to have you here as well. We cannot tell you how grateful we are to you for finding time to come and participate so actively.” Asfand didn’t respond through words but a mere nod. He was boiling with unadulterated fury and all this was directed to this tiny bird before him. He could crush her with a mere touch.

“A useful resource of business world has been saved tonight. We are looking forward to what it will unfold to in future. Once again, thank you, to both of you.”

“The pleasure is all mine.” Dee replied calmly without looking away from Asfand. They left them alone and now, it was her turn to direct the cold mock towards Asfandyar Sherzai. “There is phrase” She took a step forward and stopped beside him. Her eyes went to the phone lying beside his feet. Her men tried to step forward to pick it for her but she raised one finger, silently commanding them to stay where they were.

Xian and Safan were watching closely each and every move that transpired between these two. They were oozing every bit of hostility towards each other that was possible. The air was charged and their men could sense it as well. If the hell broke, it will be blood bath and that was the least thing, both parties wanted for now.

“Those who bark, don’t bite and I am the one who bites.” Dee stepped on her phone and cracked the screen with her heel. Her hazel eyes once again locked in a stare contest with Asfand’s cold green. None of them was ready to back out first.

Asfand won’t ever admit but he was amazed and amused by this woman. And now that she stood just a mere brush away from him, he got the chance to observe her closely. She was a beauty without a doubt and her alluring scent stirred something within him. It was not only her physical charm that caught his eye but her fierce and incandescent personality. She is something. But it was still not enough to deem her worth in his eyes. She was still a woman and will always retain the nature that is biggest flaw of this universe.

Dee walked passed Asfand with the elegance of a lioness. Her men were following her closely as she walked away from Asfand who was watching her with a newfound interest. A dangerous smirk appeared on his lips and he hummed inaudibly.

D. Almas Sahi. What an interesting thing you turned out to be.

“Keep an eye on this man.” She took the file from Xian while heading towards her next destination. “I don’t trust him at all and I don’t want him in my way.”

Dee knew what threat Asfandyar Sherzai posed to her plan. He was the potential danger and if she didn’t tread carefully, she might have more to deal with. She knew Asfandyar was not letting his true nature to be revealed just yet. He was playing carefully, decking his cards and assessing the situations. Once he was done, he was going to strike. And that in itself was a fearsome factor.

She needs to move before he decides to join the game.

***************

Xian pulled the Russian mobster back and shoved him in his seat once again when he tried to get up and lunge at Dee. He glared at Xian and directed his attention back to the woman after surveying his now ruined place.

“Do you have any idea what you have done?” She messed him big time and with the way the ambush was made, it will take a lifetime to set things back on track and gain the trust in the underworld. She was twice younger than his age, maybe even more but proved herself such a lethal threat.

“You are toying with the fire young girl. You won’t even know when it will burn you alive. Don’t meddle with the wrong side else, you will get cornered so bad that not even a thought of regret would be allowed to you.” Her smile was sinistrous as she toyed with the ring, adorning her finger. Her actions didn’t go unnoticed by Mikhailov. He watched the ring carefully and a sense of recognition waved through him.

“Is that-”

“Four decades and you still have no heir. You are at the ripe age Mr. Mikhailov and one can never know when the misfortune will knock on the door.” Dee stopped twiddling her ring and moved forward in her seat. “You think you will be able to protect your fort with the way you are.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“I am giving you a chance. Twenty minutes until FBI arrives and this underworld of yours, dealing with drugs and human trafficking will be swept clean and exposed to the world where you pose as a respectable businessman. You know how it is with law and law enforcers. And you are considered their sworn enemy.”

“What do you want? You already bought the entire business of Nawab. What more is there for you to go after?” She smirked when his pride finally decided to forsake him to save its own neck.

“You know very well what I want yet you ask” she tsked and leaned back, twirling her ring again.

“How can you even expect me to hand my assets to you just like that? What will you even gain by buying them? Don’t you have enough and yet you desire more. Don’t be too conceited Ms. Sahi, just because you are young and successful. Time doesn’t take long to swipe sides.”

“Indeed, it does not but that is the thing.” His lips pursed and he kept eyeing her warily. There was no opening left for him and if he wants to survive, he will have to swallow this bone.

“How does it benefit me? What will I gain if I gave it to you? This leaves me with nothing now that my illegal business is gone.” She just smiled which did nothing to dissipate his wariness.

“You will gain equal profit from it Mr. Mikhailov. Just walk the path I guide you to. This deal will stay between us. For the world, you will be the owner but behind the curtains, I will be the one, pulling the strings. I want you to become my face while I proceed in shadows. Whatever you are making right now from your business will stay yours, multiplied ten times. Only when you legalize it.” He could not believe what she was offering.

“Why do you even want those companies in the first place? As far as I know, you have never set foot in Pakistan?” Her fist twitched and she forced a smile his way.

“I am a businesswoman Mr. Mikhailov and a successful one. You know how it is. It is never enough. You want more and more.” She stood up and he followed suit. “These ‘whys’ and ‘whats’ are trivial matters Mr. Mikhailov. You should focus on the bigger picture. We will be funding you. You have nothing to lose but gain and endless source of it.”

Xian brought the file and opened it in front of Mikhailov who kept staring at the pen extended towards him along with the white paper that could open and close many doors simultaneously.

“Don’t be a whale Mr. Mikhailov. You are a wise man. You will make wise decisions.” He gave one more look before heaving a defeated sigh and signed the documents. “Wise move indeed.”

“Wait!” She stopped but didn’t turn. “Just a fair warning because I am a man of honor. That land is full of beasts and it won’t take long for them to tear you down piece by piece if they ever found out. You might have bound me but this deal has indirectly linked you to people you would least want to associate with. And one more thing, that Nawab was not what he showed himself to be. You might have gained more but you have no idea what you called upon yourself. There are people out there who might not like the decisions you made.”

She turned to him after a moment and what he saw, left him horror-struck.

“I appreciate your advisory.” Dee left him to get eaten by his own thoughts and questions like a plague. But he won’t be able to find any answers.

“You know what to do.” Xian opened the door for her when a commotion broke. A shadow moved lithely towards Dee while incapacitating her men one by one. She stood where she was, watching it close upon her with a hand raised in the air. A dagger was aimed directly towards her. Before it could strike Dee fair and square in the heart, Xian had the person pinned to the ground.

“What do we have here?” Dee mused and the person halted in struggles when she spoke. “Unveil him” Xian removed the cloak, hiding the identity of this assailant.

What an unfortunate turn of events.

Hello Peeps :)

I am back with another update :). Hopefully, I am doing justice to this story. So, what do you think of Dee and Asfand? Both of them are strong characters? What do you think wait ahead for them? Love or hate all the way? Do you think they have some link? What are your hypothesis about the story so far. Do let me know of your thoughts and don’t forget to show your immense love and support like always.

See you next Sunday

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