1- First Meet
"Ugh." What the hell was that sound? I grabbed my pillow and pulled it over my ear to muffle the screeching sound of the phone. It did little to help block out the annoying ringtone.
"Ughhh." I groaned again, turning towards my bedside where my phone was blaring non-stop. My best friend's contact name popped up, showing who was calling me.
"You better have a valid reason to call me, Riya." I seethed.
"Of course babes, you are coming to the mocktail party with us," Shreya affirmed.
It sounded like a statement rather than a question.
Going out to a party meant persuading Priya, and I don't want to beg her to let me chill with my friends. Dad would also not be home until tomorrow morning, meaning the more reasonable parent was absent. Unfortunately, if I wanted to go, I'd have to implore her for permission.
I was brought out of my thoughts by Shreya's begging, "Please, say yes, please Ana... Last time you didn't come, either. I want some time with my best friend."
She was blatantly guilt-tripping me. I took a deep breath to calm myself and tried to reason with her to understand the hard spot she was putting me in.
"You know my dad is out off station and Priya would never allow me, so Riya, you know I can't come."
But my Riya is a stubborn girl. She retorted back, "No, this is the last time you refuse to have fun. If you can convince me to eat broccoli then you can convince her to let you go. Please, Ana... You have to come. I won't know anybody there. You. Have. To. Come." She emphasized the last sentence, sounding stress.
I didn't respond.
'Come on, Ana, you can do this. You know you want to go to the party.' I said to myself.
"I'll treat you to ice cream, pizza-whatever you want!" She exclaimed, desperate. I laughed at her endeavor to bribe me. The ice cream did sound good right now. Yummy.
"Okay, fine. I'll try." I finally spoke. She squealed happily in response.
"I love you, Ananya! Please, when you go for permission, call her Mom. It'll put her in a good mood, okay?"
I told you she was a stubborn girl. I rolled my eyes and replied, "Yeah, fine, I'll call her mom, but only to convince her to let me go!"
"Awesome! Let's get ready to party, then." My best friend since kindergarten spoke. I could practically see her excited face, eyes shining.
She has always been a big party girl. I, on the other hand, am definitely not. I'm the kind of girl that would rather wear fluffy pajamas, and stay at home and watch a movie, or two, or maybe five with buttery popcorn and a coke. I could tell she needed me, though, so I would go for her.
We both initiated our goodbyes and our 'I love you's' before I hung up first and plopped the phone to the bed. After taking some time to prepare myself, I stood up and carried myself downstairs as fast as I could. Gathering all the courage I needed, I knocked on the door to alert her and walked in.
The novel shifted in her hand as she peeked at me from the corner of her eyes. Upon seeing it was me, she turned back to the novel without saying anything. So now the book is more important for her than her daughter. Now more than ever I am reminded that this woman is not a mother of any kind to me.
'Call her mom.' Shreya's advice rang through my head. Calling a person like her my mom was an insult to the title itself. I took a deep breath and steeled myself, before asking her what I needed to.
"Hello... mom." As soon as I said the word 'mom', I had her full scrutiny. Riya, you are the best. It worked perfectly.
She implied I continue by waving her hand. Now, let's keep this going, it looks promising.
I continued, "Mom, I wanted to ask, may I go out with Riya?"
"And where are you both going?" She put the book down, leaving it open to keep the page.
'Why did she have to ask so many questions? Wait, Calm down Ana, you want to enjoy tonight. You can't mess it up now. You have to keep her in a good mood.'
I began again, "Well mom, one of our friends is throwing a party tonight and I didn't go last time, so Riya was trying to convince me to go with her this time instead. It's just a girl's party, no boys will be there."
'Liar,' I thought to myself, 'but I can't deny it'll help convince her. Lies do the work for you.'
"Okay," Priya stated, pausing for a slight moment.
'Please say yes, please, for once.' I was chanting in my mind like a mantra.
"Huh?" I asked in confusion because I thought I heard her agree. With a slight smirk she repeated herself again and this time more precisely.
"Yes, Ana, you can go to the party with Shreya but don't be late coming home."
Wow, this was actually happening. "Thank you, Mom, I'll be back on the time I swear." I was really happy and thankful to Riya for giving me such good advice.
This was Priya Singh, my step-mother. Wife of Suresh Singh, my father, and apparently only happy when you toss away all the self-respect and praise her. When I was eight, my mother had died in an unexpected accident, and since then things have been different.
My mom and dad used to love each other a lot. I remember my dad would always strive to make my mom happy. Every day after coming back from the office he would bring flowers for her and they would spend a lot of time together as well.
They both were sweet and lovely people, but the day my mother left all the happiness left our home with her.
Ah! Even who would have reckoned that our once happy family could not remain happy.
I suffered this endurable pain left inside me that surged through my veins like a curse, alone. I missed her so much, I missed that warmth and happiness that once filled our home.
My dad became miserable. He started to work overtime and began coming home late at night. My aunt advised him to remarry, so there would be somebody who could look after me. Then evil entered my life, in the form of a despicable woman who liked to call herself my mother.
I don't like her because she forcefully took my mom's place in the family, and she never behaved towards me like her own daughter. She slapped me nearly a hundred times and has called me a b-word innumerable time. Who does that to an eight-year-old girl? She was always an evil step-mother for me and will always be. I have never called her mom because I will never replace My Mom. I loved her so much.
The truth is- the things we anticipate the most never seem to come true, and the things we should have never even expected, happen in reality.
Take me for example. I could have never expected such a cruel day when my mom might die in such an unexpected car accident.
Just for a few seconds, I could have never thought of my life without Maa, but here I was left alone in this whole wide universe with my rude dad and his cruel wife.
I unlocked my room and notified Riya that I am coming, and quickly took a shower. I debated over what to wear for a while but eventually choose a black knee-length dress. It was a spaghetti strap dress, with a nice lace trimming on the bodice. I applied mascara and some cherry lip balm. My favorite black pumps went well fit with the outfit, so I wore them as well. I gave myself a once-over in the mirror and knew I was ready. I am not the kind of girl who cakes her face with makeup.
I thought everyone should be themselves and look natural. I thank God that I'm blessed with natural beauty just like my mother, Sunita Singh. I shook my head to clear all the memories of her face. It's not the time to be sad, right? I'm going out to have fun.
I heard a horn outside the house and knew my friends had arrived.
I put my phone and some money in case of an emergency in my golden colored clutch and headed downstairs. I called out a goodbye as I closed the door behind me and headed towards the black SUV parked in front of my house.
"Hi." The driver greeted, opening the door for me to get in and settle.
"Hi, and thanks, Sid." He ducked his head in response and walked around the vehicle.
Sid, also known as Siddharth Sharma, is another of my best friends, who last week asked me out. He is a wonderful and handsome man, talk and polite. Tonight he wore a nice black jacket, with a white shirt beneath it, and black jeans. The entire outfit showed off his built body, something girls were sure to appreciate.
While he was good-looking, I knew that if I even considered him as a love interest, we could get in serious trouble with my father. He didn't take kindly to boys anywhere near me, even if he was absent most of the time himself. However, Sid was too good of a friend, I would regret seeing his disappointment with my rejection. I knew I didn't want to date him, even if my father's restrictions were lifted, Sid would always be a best friend first. So we danced around each other awkwardly, an odd limbo I could only hope continued until I could come up with a solution that would make everyone happy.
Sid sat in the seat next to me, giving me a small smile as he started the engine of the car.
"Hi lovebirds." I turned and greeted the couple who was sitting in the backseat. None other than my bestie and her boyfriend, Abhishek Oberoi.
"Looking gorgeous, Ana." I was complemented by Abhi.
"Thank you, smarty." I winked at him. He was a good person, worthy of my Riya.
After chatting and listening to some of my favorite songs as we drove through the streets, we eventually reached the destination. Sid parked the car and like a gentleman hopped out and opened the car door for me.
I took his hand to get out, my pumps hitting the sidewalk with a clack. After smoothing out our outfits and locking it up the car, we four made our way inside the club. The air as we walked in was hot and smelled of alcohol and people. The music was loud, the vibrations easily felt through the floor, pumping like my blood. Bodies twisted as shaken in front of us as people danced the night away.
We strolled towards the bar and I ordered a glass of orange juice for myself. People were dancing crazily to the Punjabi music.
The music was blaring and the vibes were positive, but from the moment we all stepped foot into this place, I could feel that tonight, something was going to happen. I didn't know what it was going to be, but good or bad things were going down.
The club was full of people of all different ages, from teens to adults. People were either kissing or grinding each other. How can they block the world and make out in front of everyone? I don't like these kinds of toxic environments. Why would people spend thousands on alcohol? All it did was make you miserable in the morning. The only good part about coming tonight was being with my friends and listening to somewhat good music. It depends on the DJ.
People were dancing, in their own worlds under the dim blue light. Businessmen were enjoying the VIP Booths, one hand holding the glass of whiskey and the other around the waist of their escorts. The bar was stocked with different brand drinks.
"This is a mocktail party?" I implored Riya. This was a lot of alcohol, and I felt kind of uncomfortable.
"Take a chill pill, bro. It's just people having fun." She said as she shrugged and took a sip from her drink.
"Liar," I whispered softly.
"Babes, lies do the work for you."
"Hey, Don't use my comebacks on me. Try to be original." I said amused, shoving her lightly.
"Ham, baza." She giggled and side hugged me, and then went off to find Abhi.
I was sitting at one of the semi-circular couches beside Sid. We both were engaged in talking and Riya and Abhi were enjoying the dance floor.
Suddenly, an uneasy feeling pricked my skin, as if someone was watching me. Gooseflesh and hairs raised on my arms and neck, so I looked around, trying to see if someone was watching. As far as I could tell, everyone was busy with themselves, which confused me.
"Hey! What happened?" Sid's worried tone caught my attention.
"Nothing," I replied, still searching for the eyes turned towards me.
Sid shrugged and held out his hand towards me asking for a dance. I shrugged just because it's a harmless dance. I deserve some celebration and to take my mind off a few things at the moment.
We finished our drinks and I set my clutch on the couch on which we were sitting. I gave him my hand as he leads me towards the dance floor. We weaved through people until we settled in the middle of the crowd. I put my hands on his shoulder, and he held me by my waist. We started swaying to the music, a smile finally gracing my face.
"Have I told you how beautiful you are looking tonight," Sid asked, leaning down closer to my face.
The compliment made my cheeks warm, but I was still courteous in replying, "No, but thank you, and you are also looking handsome tonight."
The music changed to something more high energy, so we let go of each other and started dancing alone.
"Oh my, Miss Ananya Singh complimenting me. Am I daydreaming?" He asked with a smirk. I let out a laugh at his words.
What a drama queen, seriously.
Thank God we were dancing normally, not like those other people who were doing the bhangra and other moves as if they have drunk bottles of Red Bull.
My stomach was aching from laughing at his jokes after a while, but our lovely moment was interrupted by Abhi. He was panting and sweating, Shreya wasn't in sight.
"Hey bro. What happened?" Sid inquired, worry lacing his voice, and his happy expression fading.
"Riya... Shreya....." Abhi stuttered.
"What happened to Shreya, where is she?" I inquired him worriedly.
"I went to go get drinks from the bar for us, and when I returned she was nowhere to be found. I checked the whole fucking club. She's....."
I interrupted him and said, "Calm down. We'll check again. Wait, let me call her, maybe she went to the washroom or stepped outside for a second."
I took out my phone and dialed her number but all I was met with was a dial tone. Her phone had been shut off.
Sid came back from the area he was checking and put a reassuring hand on my arm. "You should go and check in the washroom, I'm sure she is fine."
I nodded and went to search the washroom, but she wasn't there either. I pulled out my phone to call her again, but I received a message from an unknown number that looked suspicious.
'Missing your friend?
Follow the directions, and come and save her if you can.'
'What the hell? Where are you Riya? What trouble have you gotten yourself into?'
I slipped out of the club, boys forgotten, taking my pumps off and running. I had to get to her, she was my best friend.
I heeded the directions and found myself at the back of the club, faced by a black gate. I found it odd to have such a gate in an alleyway.
Again my phone buzzed with a message. It was from the same anonymous number.
My breath hitched in my throat. How did he know I was standing outside the gate?
I took a deep breath and opened the gate and moved towards the source of light.
I was frightened. My head was spinning with all the possibilities, of what danger we could be in, but I had to find Riya. I had to get us out of here.
The light came from a single fluorescent bulb that hung above the room, showing me a sight that had me shaking.
I stood in front of all the giant men who had appeared before me and stared at them with my horror stuck face. Saying I was damn scared would be an understatement. I shook my head to clear my mind and took a deep breath to calm myself. I had to be reasonable.
They must have been twenty or so, and they were tall, extremely tall, well-built, and seemed young in their complexions. They all wore a black suit with Ray-bans over their faces, hiding their eyes.
My breathing started getting faster.
I turned and saw a girl; fastened to a chair and struggling hard to rid herself of the ropes that constricted her. She looked familiar. I blinked my eyes to concentrate and looked at her again. She was Riya, my Shreya.
"Shreya!" I cried out and sprinted towards her. I was so close almost touch her when somebody yanked me by my elbow to my side.
"Leave me alone!" I screamed.
They made me sit in a chair and tied my hands behind my back just like Riya. Riya and I screamed for our freedom, but nothing was affecting them.
"Capo, lei e qui." The man, standing beside me spoke on the phone in a foreign language.
(Boss, she is here.)
'God save me.
I've done nothing but good, we don't deserve this fate, whatever it may be.'
Tears were forming in my eyes, threatening to fall down my cheeks.
'I hope it's a nightmare. I hope I wake up soon. Even Priya is better than this.'
A man stepped into the room, and I felt cold with fear. No, this was fucking real.
"Here you are, Miss Ananya Singh." A man in a dark and husky voice spoke.
My name rolled off his tongue like flowing water.
How does he know my name?
I looked up, towards the source of the voice, and there stood a tall, smart, and handsome man. He was wearing a black suit. He had a sharp jawline and that stubble was just making him sexier, as his dark eyebrows sloped downwards in a serious expression. His lips were pressed in a thin line. It looked as though he hadn't smiled in ages. His pale skin made him look devilishly handsome and sexy.
'What the hell am I thinking?' I just shook my head to clear these stupid thoughts.
'I want to get out of here. We need to be safe.'
"Pleasure to meet you Ananya." He greeted in his dark voice, which could make anyone shake with fear. Instead, I looked him straight in the eye.
"Leave us. Let us go." I declared in a strong voice, trying not to show my fear.
"Not bad, straight to the point. Well, I will make you a deal. If you do whatever I say, then both of you can go."
Here comes the first chapter of Vengeance. I'm excited and hell nervous at the same time. I hope you like the chapter. Do tell me.
∆ Who is the sexy men?
∆ What's going to happen to Ananya?
∆ Will, Ananya be able to free her best friend?