Shackled Exemption

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CHAPTER 7

It was like every other day and Dee was returning from her jogging like usual. She was deep in thought, pondering over every little thing occupying her days and nights these days. There was something different. She sensed it but couldn’t tell what and where.

Her lace tripped and she stopped, putting a temporary halt to her overworking mind as well. Dee watched it for some time and then bent to fix it. Once done, she got up and after doing a few stretches, began jogging lightly. She looked around casually and stopped suddenly when she was halfway towards her villa. She bent again and stretched her arms to touch her toes one by one.

I was right indeed.

Reducing her pace to a slow saunter and without making it obvious, Dee pressed the hidden button on her watch. “I’m being tailed.” She muttered inaudibly while locking her arms in front to keep the suspicion minimum. “There is a SUV, black plated. It’s not in clear distance to be noticed openly. Meet me at the intersection and don’t let them slip.” She began jogging again but this time kept a steady pace.

This was not first time this vehicle was following her. She was being kept eyes on since she first struck them. Nawab’s death was not enough to make them act. But the moment his properties were auctioned and she took hold of everything, they slowly began crawling out. Just like she wanted. After all, how can they let a random woman take over what they were supposed to share and own?

They were keeping surveillance so far. But now, they were aiming to strike. She was only a woman and what could a mere woman do against a covenant of them.

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Her hand grazed the hidden dagger along the waistband of her leggings. I can’t or they will get suspicious. Dee glanced at her watch momentarily. Xian was a minute and half away from her location. He did well by designing this watch. No one knew what the matte black dial hid within it. The hidden tracker and speaker could only be accessed by Dee’s fingerprint.

I will find out today which one stepped out first.

Whoever he was, became the next victim.

The moment Dee was in approachable radius of her men, she broke into a sprint. They reacted exactly the way she anticipated after she faked her awareness of their presence. Just as she crossed the intersection, she was surrounded by her cars. And before her stalkers could get the chance to flee or react, their SUV was hit hard by a trailer that came out of nowhere.

The vehicle rolled multiple times before coming to an abrupt halt and was completely crushed. It will be a miracle if those caught in this onslaught survived.

“If they are dead, dispose them.” Her men pulled bodies of four men out of the burning SUV. “If by some miracle, they survived.” She cast a sideway glance at Xian and continued walking towards her villa at leisure pace. “You know what to serve.”

**********

Six expensive vehicles entered through huge iron gates after thorough checking. No one could tell who the passengers were. The cars had black tinted windows and screen. They all stopped simultaneously in the driveway of a vast and secluded estate. It was well hidden and had heavy surveillance. Not even birds were allowed to enter or trespass without permission. Those who tried were served immediate death.

The passengers stepped out of their respective vehicles and without bothering to greet let alone acknowledge each other, went inside through heavily guarded doors. Their destination was a room, somewhere inside this big mansion that could not be accessed unless you passed through several security checks.

They never trusted anyone.

Not even themselves.

Once they reached their destination, they were thoroughly scanned from head to toe. The metal doors opened and they entered the dimly lit room. Every one of them hurried towards their respective seats silently. Their eyes were focused on the loan device that was placed in the center of the table.

Which one made a mistake?

This thought occupied their minds because meetings like this only meant trouble. Because of what they swore seven years ago. It was the darkest and deepest secret one could carry. And if any one of them slipped, it meant doom for all.

The phone rang and a screen lit with it, capturing their attention within zero seconds. They were alert, watching each other in anticipation. Who was going to break the silence first?

“She is one small girl.” He slammed his palm against the table. As expected. Rest of them thought simultaneously when the person they had most doubts on spoke first.

“She is no ordinary girl.” The person sitting across him spoke calmly. “She is one of the most influential and powerful businesswoman of the world. Why did you act without consulting with us?”

“She has Nawab’s business and properties. Why would she want to buy all of them? We cannot let her sniff through his companies. What if she-”

“You are overreacting.” The same man stated calmly. “Why would a person wants to overtake a business? You yourself are one, then why ask?” he heaved a frustrated sigh and leaned back in his chair. “How could you even think you can deal with this matter like this? Sending your men to kidnap or kill her? Seriously? Don’t you know whom she have ties with?”

“We cannot let Shahs know.” The one sitting beside the first man spoke this time. “That girl is in close connections to them. If anything were to happen to her, it wouldn’t haven taken long for Jahangir Shah and his grandson, Haider to sniff us out. D. Sahi is considered their family. Just like those girls.” He looked at all of them. “Don’t underestimate that man’s power. We escaped his clutches once but we might not be lucky this time. And Haider might not look like it but he possess one nasty reputation. We certainly don’t want them involved” he once again looked towards his companions. “Again.”

“What are you suggesting then?” the first man spat in agitation, “that we let all that slip for our-”

“Enough!” A powerful and authoritative voice boomed from the phone. They fell silent instantly and sat up straight in their seats. Such was the hold of this person on all of them. Forget what they did and if anyone ever found out, the real strings were in this man’s hand. He was the puppeteer who led them the way he wanted. From last seven years.

“We did not gather here to fight like cats and dogs. And who suggested to take action against that girl?” None of them spoke. “I cannot believe the level of foolishness you fools possess.”

“But Saeen-” The one who spoke first began reluctantly. “What if-”

“I should have known” His sweat dropped when the person on the phone intervened calmly. He gulped loudly and countless times at the threat his mere calmness bore.

“What should we do now?” The second person spoke up before anything could transpire. “I understand to some extent and you cannot deny it Saeen that her owning Nawab’s business pose a serious threat to us. He didn’t have a clean slate and he died before wiping it out. Elections are drawing near as well. What if-”

“What profit do our secrets give to that girl?” The person on phone interrupted calmly. “If she wanted to dig deeper, she would have done it by now.”

“But-”

“Nothing is going to happen as long as you imbeciles don’t act out of line. Asfandyar is also in America right now. And the purpose of his visit is to do a business collaboration with that young girl Sahi. Khudara! If he came to know, I would have killed you all before he could get his hands on you.” Their sweat dropped once again.

“Don’t stir that wolf. I don’t want him to know about Shahs in any way. The farther he stays from these secrets, the better it will be for us. He is an untamed beast and it is more lucrative if he stayed on sidelines or on our side. If he came to know Atish was working as your spy to hog illegal weapons and drugs under his legal business name, no one can tell what that man will do to all of you.”

No one dared to utter another word. They completely forgot what potential threat Asfandyar bore to them. If they had made a slip while attempting to deal with that woman Sahi, what could have it concurred to.

Total destruction.

“This woman, D. Sahi? Find out everything about her. Whatever you can get your hands on. If she is in close relation to Shahs, she is not to be underestimated. Unless she makes a move in any way, no one is to harm or touch her. She can prove herself a great asset to us. We just need to see which side she stands on.”

“Yes Saeen” they synced and the line went dead. None of the moved or breathed for a whole minute.

“I told you it was a bad idea.” The second man snapped at the first one. “Look what it could have cost us.”

“Really? When did you tell me?” the first man snapped back with a sneer. “If any, you were more eager to do away with that girl. You are politician through and through. Look how quickly you switched sides.”

“Stop this nonsensical argument” the one who remained silent throughout, spoke in agitation. “You are making the same mistake of seven years ago. The mistake that bound us to this slavery for life.” They all looked towards him in silence. “It’s every man for himself now.” He got up to leave from this place that was worse than the depths of hell. Because it reminded him of the great sin they committed all those years ago.

“If you want to survive, stay clear of their path.” He stopped momentarily and glanced at one particular person. It’s all because of you. “Or you will end up dead yourself.”

**********

All heads turned towards Dee when she boarded the cruise through special entrance for exclusive guests. Her black pure satin gown of closed diamond neckline flared with her elegant movements, entrancing men and making women envious. Her deep burgundy hair were twisted in a stylish bun, leaving few strands loose to cup her face delicately and her naturally done make-up only enhanced her features and beauty more.

Being young and successful sure brings a lot to one’s plate. Dee mused upon the expressions of her spectators that gave their intentions and thoughts away.

But D. Almas Sahi was not here to hog this attention that many were being covetous of.

“Ms. Sahi” Andrew Thompson approached her with his wife. “What an utterly pleasant surprise.” He extended his hand for her in courtesy. Dee watched his open palm and overly sweet smile but didn’t make any attempt to place her hand in his awaiting one. “I cannot tell how happy it makes me to see you here.” Her one brow raised at his ludicrousness when he grabbed her hand and raised it to his lips. Right in front of his wife who was nothing more than a human statue.

And right when he did, her eyes found their way towards the resident of her nightmares, standing behind him.

Asfand will never admit the acidic feeling he got while watching Dee associate with that fucker Thompson. A displeasing look marred his handsome features and he glared murderously at their host who still had Dee’s hand in his hold. He might have given her more credit than she deserved. If she couldn’t even differentiate Thompson’s intentions, he wasted his time on a woman who was no different from rest.

“Likewise Mr. Thompson” Dee pulled her hand away a little roughly just when he was about to press it to his lips and gave him a sickeningly sweet smile that could beat any poison. “You never fail to raise the standards.” He was a fool to think she didn’t know his intent.

Andrew Thompson was the biggest fucker and man-whore. Dee knew how he preyed on women. He was charged with many rape and sexual assault cases. But the power he possessed nullified them. Those poor girls either disappeared without a trace or withdrew their pleas suddenly.

“You flatter me my dear. No one can match your qualities. You are a rare gem after all in everything you do.” She didn’t miss the way his leering and leeching eyes swept over her. His wife did nothing but stand with a fake smile plastered to her red lips and watch her husband drool over other women.

What do women reduce themselves to, just for the sake of false image?

“You overestimate me Mr. Thompson. I don’t want to keep you.” Her eyes went to Asfand tauntingly. “You might have some very special guest to tend.”

“Mr. Sherzai” Thompson gushed towards him like an enthusiastic child. “What an utterly pleasant surprise.” Dee mused over Asfand’s stoic face and how bitterly he returned his greeting. “I never expected you and now of all times.”

“You seem busy” Asfand cast Dee a scornful look which was returned it with a small smirk.

“I am never busy for you Mr. Sherzai.” Thompson cast Dee another glance which she completely disregarded. She was busy matching Asfand’s intense gaze and this didn’t go unnoticed by their host.

Thompson’s attempts to woo D. Sahi were proving futile. He had his eyes on her since she first made her appearance in the business world after her parent’s death. But the woman was hard-headed and steel-hearted. Thompson couldn’t deal with her like he was used to deal with other women. He was used to submissive women but this one was something else.

Thompson knew of every small and big business in America. So, when D. Sahi came out of nowhere, his suspicion about her identity rose. That was the time Feroze Rahija went down and no one knew what became of their properties and assets. Someone bought them and sold them ahead. The chain of buyers remain anonymous throughout and he couldn’t track even one of them. Not that he was to get any profit from it. He was just a bidder of those who were the reason Rahija’s lost everything with their lives.

No one survived.

So when D. Sahi appeared in close ties with Shahs, he became suspicious. His gut told him he was missing something. They were missing something but there was nothing to be found. Her father owned a small business that suddenly soared. But before he could see it flourish, he and his wife met a horrible accident.

For past seven years, Thompson has been digging everything about D. Sahi. He tried reaching her through any means but this girl was closed off in every way. She kept rejecting his proposals and projects so blatantly which always infuriated him. But when she accepted the invite this year, he was elated. Andrew did notice how beautifully she was blooming to a fine woman each year. He might get his chance now.

If not willingly, then definitely forcefully.

But having Asfandyar here and showing same kind of interest in this woman put a damper to his plans. If he was to step ahead, Thompson was to withdraw whether he wanted or not. Thompson may be powerful but he won’t ever want to mess with this man.

“I see Mr. Shah hasn’t come.” Asfand asked Thompson but the question was indirectly towards Dee.

“Something came” Thompson chirped happily. “But having Ms. Sahi is equivalent to having Mr. Shah. They are, after all, very close.” Dee didn’t miss the way Thompson emphasized on the word ‘close’. “Just like family.”

“Excuse me gentlemen” Dee left them to their business and reached the top floor where a door led to the open deck through a lounge by glass doors. She walked around leisurely and watched people blankly. Everyone was chatting happily, even with those they spit poison behind the backs.

The duality of human nature is lethal than that of chameleons.

Her eyes found their way to Asfand and the woman that was latched to his arm. She kept pressing herself to him sensually, clearly giving her thoughts away. Dee highly doubt Asfandyar was unaware of her intentions and those surrounding him. It was not only one but many swooning over him like lovesick puppies. But Asfand showed no acknowledgment to their advances. Things people do to keep the pretense.

“How is Amber?” Dee turned the other way after picking her call. She stepped out in open air and breathed deeply. How claustrophobic the mere presence of those people made her.

“She is fine. Just minor complications of pregnancy. Her delivery date is coming closer, that’s why. It’s nothing serious.” Dee hummed in response and leaned against the cold railings. “You should have taken Xian along. It would have given me some peace of mind.”

“Nothing is going to happen Hadi.”

“You are in enemy’s territory Dee. Not one but two of them and we don’t know how many are lurking in the dark. We can never know where the next attack will come from.”

“You are right.” Dee walked back inside. “We can never know what a moment from here holds in store for us. Future is always ambiguous.” Her eyes located their host for the night. “See you.” She ended the call and gripped the marble banister tightly.

“Is it your nature or do you really find people repulsive?” Her hazel eyes connected with the cold green ones the moment she turned and raised her head. Even with the heels, she was full head shorter than Asfand whose towering height only added to his intimidating and powerful persona. “Ms. Sahi” Asfand smirked while looking down at her. His eyes roamed over her form shamelessly and finally rested back on her beautiful angelic face.

“Mr. Sherzai” Dee retorted calmly. “I am sure you are being missed.” She gestured to the crowd with her head. Inside, she was fuming over his predatory and lust-filled gaze wandering over her without any reverence. She wanted to gouge out his eyes but she knew better.

“Is that so?” Asfand stepped closer to Dee which alerted her. Asfand knew Xian didn’t accompany her tonight which was fortuitous. But Xian needed to stay back. To do what was needed to be done tonight. She was not entirely alone. Her men were strictly ordered to stand-by and watch unless needed. Still, this didn’t put Dee to ease.

When it came to this man’s presence, nothing was enough to dilute her wariness.

Asfand noticed Dee’s circumspection towards his approach as she kept moving back with each of his step towards her. Her tense shoulders and dilated pupils gave away ‘fight or flight mode’ her body was entering.

It pleased Asfand.

The effect his mere presence was having on this woman. She knows she need to watch. Asfand mused over the expressions that took over her beautiful features. The docile princess was without her dark armors tonight, leaving her gullible to the predators that were ready to pounce her.

“What’s wrong Ms. Sahi?” She was trying hard not to show the fear that was slowly crawling its way up her spine. But Asfand could feel and smell it. And this only made her look more enticing in his eyes.

Oh how he wanted to devour her in this moment.

Dee stepped around Asfand when she sensed him cornering her against the banister. He wish. But before anything could be done or said, her eyes caught someone from her periphery.

“No please. I beg you. Don’t do this to me.”

And all her attention was now towards the man who was standing beside Andrew Thompson.

“Stop!”

Dee pushed past Asfand and hurried down without breaking watch over him. Everything else was forgotten and tuned out as she stopped a few feet behind him.

“It’s a pleasure Anas.”

“You haven’t changed. I am liking it.” The man laughed lowly and Dee cringed inwardly at the sound of it. That laugh. How disgusting that laugh was. His green-brown eyes surveyed the hall momentarily before focusing back on Thompson.

“Please! No. Stop”

Rage burnt in her blood. Screams turned her deaf against every other sound and her bloodshot eyes relived the horrors of that night.

“Beg for me more sweetheart. It makes me want to fuck you hard.”

“You know what, I think I would like my men to taste this exquisite meal as well.”

“Excuse me” He left after a blonde who walked out of the grand hall after sending a wink his way. Fucker. Dee went after him without a thought. Her blood was thumping and her heart was pounding crazily. She stopped around the corner and watched him make out with the blonde in the dimly lit hallway. Bile rose to her mouth when she watched him suck off that female. She was not looking at a human but an animal hidden within the skin of this man.

“Help me!”

She closed her eyes and ducked behind the wall when the female pushed him away with flirtatious giggles and ran towards one of the suites. Dee pulled the dagger from under her dress and watched him trudge slowly behind her.

Hatred consumed her to the point that she completely forgot what she came here for. She walked behind him at steady pace and adjusted the dagger in her hand, aimed to his heart. He was walking at leisure pace, completely unaware of the doom that was ascending his way.

You are going to die tonight.

Right before she could, someone pulled her back and clamped her mouth shut to muffle her voice. The dagger was snatched from her hand effortlessly and she was pushed against the wall. Her eyes widened in shock when she saw who dared to intervene.

“Well, well, well” Asfand ducked her attack to his groin in amusement and trapped her body with his completely by placing his knees on her thighs.

“Let me go” Dee raged when he released her mouth and pushed her arms above her head. “Mr. Sherzai-”

“I would love to hear you call me Asfand sweetheart.” Dee held her breath when his face drew closer. It was a feat for Asfand to get hold of Dee. She was wild and fierce. If he hadn’t acted swiftly, that dagger would have been embedded deep in his heart.

“Leave me” Dee struggled against Asfand violently which was pleasing and arousing him. Every time her soft body brushed against his, he felt something hardening in his pants. “I said leave me.”

“If you kept doing it, the situation will be in reversal.” Dee stopped when she felt something poke her abdomen.

“You sick bastard” Dee she pushed him away with all her might and raised her hand to slap Asfand but he caught hold of it. All humor left him and he pulled her roughly against him.

“Don’t ever dare to make such mistake, love.” He hissed angrily while tugging on her arm. “You won’t want to know what it can result into.” Dee tried to break free but Asfand held on. His free arm snaked around her waist and he pulled her flush against him.

Involuntary shivers coursed through their bodies when they came in contact with each other. Their heartbeat rose and breathing turned ragged as they stared at each other. They could feel the electricity and spark that came to surface at their proximity.

The pull was undeniable.

But her hate and his ego overpowered every other thing.

“You leave me this instant” Dee spat at him angrily. “How dare you?”

“You haven’t seen my dares yet, my love. And I am sure you would never want to.” She tilted her head when Asfand caressed her face softly. He needs to withdraw for now or hell will be let loose. “You might be stronger, fiercer and braver than other females but in the end” he tilted her face back by holding her chin. “You are still a woman.” Asfand let her go with a jerk. “Don’t do things that could cost you a lot Ms. Sahi. You are still unaware of the cruelties this world bear.” Dee gave him one hateful glare and stomped away, leaving her dagger with Asfand.

It was a close call. Asfand heaved a sigh and tossed the dagger in his hand while watching her sass away. I nearly lost it. His eyes turned the other way and an indecipherable look crossed his features, hardening and darkening them.

**********

“Anas. That is the name he is using. Find out everything.” Dee ordered bitterly. “I am not mistaking him. I can never.” She stopped outside the grand doors and composed herself. “Get it done as soon as possible.” She disconnected the call and went inside.

It was catastrophic.

“How the fuck is this even possible?” Thompson roared and another round of shattering noise boomed the air. The news of his major plants and companies being sealed was all over the place. Guests were watching him with hushed murmurs. After all, the blow he received was something to be talked about. “I am being framed. I never dealt with drugs and weapons-”

His eyes landed on her and he stopped. This time he saw something he never noticed before. Something his intuition always knew.

“You” he raised his finger towards her. “It’s you. How can I not recognize you?” The corner of her mouth quirked slightly when he fell to his knees while screaming his lungs out. She turned on her heels.

Not so soon Andrew Thompson.

Her men were waiting outside the doors and her private yacht was on stand-by to take her back home.

He was done for.

But only for now.

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