5. 'Scream and you're dead'

"I'll be announcing it at the dinner, meanwhile my servant will guide you both to your rooms"

He called Ghulam Ali, his servant from the intercom to his study and within minutes he was here leading them outside the study towards their respective rooms, which his master has assigned to them.

Zahra kept thinking about the cruelty of his grandfather. She surely saw the glint of sadness in his eyes but then why was he putting up a facade? Why had he humiliated her mother? Moreover, what condition would he want to put up?

The door to the study opened but her head was bent down, engrossed in her thoughts when suddenly she smashed into a hard wall. Scowling, she slightly scratched her forehead to lessen the pain. The wall was a bit too hard for her liking.

Two sleek black boots came into her sight and her eyes widened.

'It was not a wall. It was...was a man. What??!'

She slowly looked upwards and saw a young man standing right in front of her.

His height was tall with a well-built body and muscles popping out of his shirt. A sharp jawline and thick black lashes with well-defined cheekbones. His lips were pink and a light stubble was dusted on his cheeks. His nose was a bit crooked but it accentuated his features. The color of his eyes grey, light grey.

She stared directly into his eyes and could see some shock in those light grey orbs but his eyes held a severe intensity.

She does not know why but her heartbeat fastened and a feeling of dread washed her nerves. She did not get good vibes from him.

His scrutinizing gaze reminded her of Shoaib and she immediately casted her eyes down to the floor and then it hit her, she has been gawking at him like a total maniac.

"Sorry" she immediately mumbled.

"It's ok" his voice was deep and authoritative.

"Salam Saab," Ghulam Ali greeted that man who only nodded his head.

"We should go madam" Ghulam Ali told them. And then they begin following him again.

Both followed him to the end of the hallway where there were six rooms opposite each other. Ghulam Ali showed them the last 2 rooms and assigned one to Zahra and one to Ammara. Though they requested him to shift them into a single room all he said was, "its master's orders". And after giving them their respective rooms he went down to bring their bags and delivered them.

Zahra was sitting alone in her room thinking about Daniyal. That day, when they were leaving, for the first time Daniyal held her hands and his eyes were glistening with unshed tears. He loved Zahra to infinity and when she was leaving him and he couldn't do anything about it, helpless tears made their way to his eyes. He was an undergraduate and till his graduation his father won't let him marry anyone. He was in a secret relationship with Zahra about which only Shoaib knew but Zahra was unaware of that.

'Zahra soon my studies will be completed then I will come to marry you and take you along with me. I am with you, Zahra. I trust you completely. I love you with my whole heart and soul. Promise me you will wait for me' these were the last words he said to her.

'I love you too Daniyal. With all my heart and soul. I only trust you. I promise I will always wait for you.' And these were the last words she said to him before she left.

Zahra was depressed. Too depressed. Her father was no more with her. Daniyal was also no longer around her. The depression inside her was creating a vacuum in her heart. She only wanted to escape reality, her heart and mind couldn't seem to digest the things happening around her. An emotional turmoil was running inside her. She only wanted to breathe freely. Thousands of thoughts ran inside her mind depressing her more and more so she stood up and went straight to her mother's room.

The lights of her room were closed, it was only lightened by the sunlight coming out of the curtained window, giving the room a dark and yellow-colored atmosphere.

She saw her mother sitting on prayer matt, busy in her namaz.

She laid down on the bed, staring at the curtained window. Sunlight was blocked by the curtains. The whole room was enveloped in silence, only small whispers of her mother's prayers could be heard. Her eyes closed and she slept.

It was 7:30 pm when she woke up with a knock on the door. She immediately grabbed her dupatta and draped it over her shoulders.

"Come in" her voice groggy. Her mother was sleeping beside her.

A maid came in and informed her of the dinner and left. She went to the restroom and washed her face before changing her clothes. After that, she woke her mother up informing her about the dinner, and soon a maid came in escorting them both to the dining room.

Both of them reached the dining room. Zahra looked around the room and analyzed it. It was a big, big room. A large table was placed in the center with a huge window to its left which was curtained. A giant chandelier dangled from the middle of the ceiling. Large paintings were hung on the walls. The walls were painted creamy. The ceiling was designed as well. The whole room was illuminated brightly and multiple decoration pieces were placed on the showcases.

"Zahra, Ammara come sit," Haider called them who was sitting on the table.

Zahra observed that everyone was sitting at the table some servants also stood by. Her grandfather sat on the head of the table, to the left of it was sitting the same man whom she crashed into and to the left of him sat his uncle. Those lads whom she saw in the lounge were also there. Two chairs on the right of the table were empty, Both of them moved and sat there. Ammara opposite Haider and Zahra opposite him.

She was getting nervous. The utter apprehension of the condition her grandfather will put forward made her nervous.

"Start the dinner" he announced.

"Agha Jaan, won't Bi Jaan join us today?" one of the boys asked.

"She is not feeling well. The news of your uncle's death made her sick, she won't be coming. Start everyone." His voice was void of any emotion.

And everyone started eating. The clattering of dishes echoed through the room. Everyone was talking. Those boys and girls were also engrossed in their conversation.

Haider served both of them with some biryani. Zahra began to eat but she felt something around her was weird. She felt like someone was watching her but whenever she rose her head there was no one. She thought she was being paranoid and continued with her dinner.

Soon the dinner was over and all of them quietened.

"Ammara, I'll let you live in this haveli only for one condition," Shabbir spoke through the eerie silence and looked towards her. She was looking expectantly towards him.

Now, Zahra's hands were shivering a bit. Her sixth sense kept telling her something bad is going to happen. Her face was paled and her lips were turned white. She was utterly anxious. Was her restlessness really related to the condition? what the condition could be? Her sixth sense was signaling towards something else but she thought it was the condition about which she is being trepidatious.

Only if she knew.

"If your daughter, Zahra marries my grandson, Irtaza" he dropped the bomb.

Zahra's mouth hung open.

She was completely baffled.

It took good two minutes for her mind to conjecture what he has said.

"Well, What do you say, Zahra?" Her grandfather asked breaking her reverie.

Daniyal's words kept echoing in her mind.

'I will come to marry you, Zahra.'

No, she can't do this with Daniyal. She can't betray him. She can't break her promise.

"I am sorry I won't marry anyone without my will" Zahra immediately spoke.

"The choice is all yours, if you want to live here then you've to marry Irtaza, and if you don't want to marry him then you've to go,"

'Who is he to decide whom should I marry'

"I'll prefer going from here" she almost spat.

"Ok as you wish. It's getting dark outside you both will be leaving tomorrow morning" with that he stood up and marched towards his room.

Irtaza stood up from his chair and eyed Zahra out, dangerously, then left for his room. Then all the family members scattered and went away to their rooms. Ammara hugged her daughter when everyone left.

"I am with you, daughter. I will always support you. If you don't want to marry him then we will try to find another place to live. Don't worry daughter your mother will always support you and protect you," She kissed Zahra's forehead, and then both of them retired to their room.

Zahra was sitting alone in her room. Her back resting against the headboard, her eyes closed and her dupatta starting from her shoulder, sprawled all over the bed. She was mind-boggled. Her brain wasn't disgesting any of the things happening around her. She kept thinking about Irtaza, Daniyal, and a place to live.

'Why are they tying me into this relationship baba? Why should I marry someone against my will?! I love Daniyal! He is my savior, when there was no one beside me he was there to help me! I would've gone insane without him! I love him with all my heart and he loves me! I trust him and he trusts me! I don't want to marry Irtaza or whatever! Why Baba why? Tell me why life is being so hard on me? what did I ever do to deserve this? That Shoaib harassed me for so many years, I was left alone! You and mama were always too busy to give me any time, again I was left alone! I was going insane! But he, Daniyal was there to keep me on the verge of sanity, he was the one who brought me back to life, he was the only candle in my dark world, he was the one who supported me all the while! he is the one whom I trust with all my heart and soul! he is the one whom I love! And only for a roof at my head, I will leave him, I will betray him! I will break my promise! No! my conscience would never let me do that.' she internally told her father.

'But Baba where we will go? We will be thrown out the next morning and we have no place to go. Where we can go?'

'Trust Allah, leave all your matters to Him and only Him' her subconscious answered.

'You know what Baba I trusted Allah! I always trusted Allah but Allah never listened to me! Allah hates me. I don't know why but He hates me. He never listens to me! No matter how hard I pray, my prayers are never accepted, I begged Allah to keep me away from Shoaib! I begged Allah to save you! I begged Allah not to let anyone humiliate my mother! But you know what despite all my prayers, Shoaib still harassed me, you left me, your father humiliated my mother. Now I've determined I'll never pray, I'll never make any dua'

'Then, for the first time believe in Allah and sleep' Her subconscious again answered.

Her eyes were red and spilling tears out, soaking her white fluffy cheeks. How much she wished she can hug her father at this moment. She was left with only one option and that was to pray to Allah.

'Ya Allah, please help us! please I beg you! please help us to get a roof on our heads! Ya Allah please tomorrow morning they could not throw us out from this haveli! Ya Allah, please help my mother! please help me' she sent a prayer to the heavens and laid down on her pillow. Still, the feeling was there creeping her that something good is not coming. A big disaster is going to occur in her life. She again thought she is being paranoid. Within minutes deep slumber enveloped her unaware of the havoc she created.

It was 2:00 am. Everyone was sleeping soundly in the haveli. All the lights were off and deep darkness was spread all over which was implying something bad, really bad is going to occur. A deafening silence echoed through each hallway standing as the silence before the storm. Only the high pitch chirping of night bugs could be heard in corridors.

Zahra stirred in her sleep. A feeling of dread crawled over her nerves. She sensed she was being watched. The lights of her room were turned off. It was only illuminated by the moonlight coming out of the window, falling directly onto her face. She rubbed her eyes and slowly opened them. She leisurely sat down and her hands reached for the glass of water on the sight table.

She felt something is weird around her. Something is not right. Her heart was beating fast in her chest and her senses were on high alert. Suddenly, she assume that she saw a silhouette of a man standing in the dark holding something in his hands aiming it towards her.

She blinked several times to gain her vision.

Before she could understand anything, he stepped forward out of the dark in the moonlight. Her breath hitched and her eyes wide opened when she saw him.

He looked deranged. Ready to kill. His handsome features looked more attractive and dangerous in the moonlight.

But what shocked her out of her wits was when she saw what he was holding.

It's a gun!

It's a gun!

All her grogginess flew out of the window. She was about to scream for help but his next words knock the breath out of her lungs.

"Scream and you're dead."

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