Onaiza Khan & Pablo Armendariz (Book 2)
A tip of grass brushed my skin as I lay lazily on the ground smelling the earthy mud that slowly soaked into the back of my dress. My hair was wet—with dew or water I could not tell.
A soft breeze ruffled my skirt making me shudder just a little.
My hair was messy, but I liked the citrus smell of my shampoo blending with the natural aroma. I touched my hair; it was a little rough, but it didn’t matter. It wasn’t about how I looked but how I felt.
The early morning sun stroked my skin with its warmth, making me feel like a prism.
Even with closed eyes, I could see the sun’s rays dancing around me in all the beautiful colors of a rainbow. It was like mixing warmth and love together in a perfect unbreakable bond.
I turned on my side, and upon opening my eyes, I stared into the greenery spreading across the place. I noticed the grass near my hand and then my eyes went gliding to the very end of the garden.
The fence. It was brown. The sky was orange and then moving upward; it got yellower and then bluer.
The colors were so real and so palpable. I could almost touch them and draw patterns on them with my fingers.
The wetness from my back had started shifting to my front in the form of sweat. I wanted to wipe it away from my forehead, get rid of it immediately, but a long time had passed since I sweated…
So I let it stay.
The bright sun made me squint, taking in all its anger and wrath.
The grass felt a little rough and a little soft at the same time.
The fabric of my dress clung to my perspiring body.
All this made me feel so alive, so real. It was intoxicating.
And a sharp pang of chagrin cut through my dream, waking me up to the real world.
All that was just a dream. A beautiful one at that. It wasn’t real, because there was nothing real or natural around me, not even the air.
It had been months since I had been under the open sky, felt a breath of real fresh air on my skin or the sun caress my body with its light and warmth.
All I had was a window through which I could see it all and yearn for it every passing minute.
The mountains, the sky, and the sun form a beautiful landscape, and the winds blow violently sometimes.
Everything was in front of me, but I didn’t have access to a needle’s worth of air. It was almost surreal.
I felt I might just wake up from another long bad dream and open the windows, bathe under the sun, make coffee, and complete a book I’d left unfinished on the night table.
But enough about dreams. In reality, I was a hostage. Not in a small cell or a dark dungeon, but in a beautiful bedroom.
This room where I spent my days was huge and beautiful, a place you’d be happy to lose yourself.
Rectangular in shape, half of it is left unused. Empty. Plain. Neat. The cold marble flooring could send shivers through the spine. The artificial heating only sometimes warms it up. Otherwise, it’s as cold as ice.
But fortunately for me, I had a king-sized bed to sleep in, thickly layered with mattresses, sheets, and comforters. It was warm and comfortable, yes, but far from my fantasies of the sun and grass.
It was real and fake both at the same time.
The bed and a sofa set were located on the other side of the room, along with a tiny little wooden dining table that sat in the corner.
A lavish bathroom and a huge closet full of clothes and shoes were also there to meet my needs and perhaps make me comfortable. If that was even possible.
A television set for my entertainment was set right in front of the bed and was also visible from the sofa. But the idea of entertainment must be staring at the black or blue screen; there was no cable.
But instead of staring at that screen, I stared at the library door.
Yes, there was a library inside the room, and it was classy. But it was always locked, and I’d never had a chance to see it. It fascinated me anyway.
Sometimes I wanted to go in, see the shelves, smell the books, touch the paper, read something, or just do nothing but be in there.
And that, along with the glass window ended the compass of my view.
Apart from that, I did one important task; keep track of time.
There is a small calendar on the TV table. It was an old one. I just crossed the days off on the 2014 calendar and somehow managed to stay on the same course of time as the world outside.
This calendar said that July 1, 2014, was a Tuesday, but I knew that it was July 1, 2016, and I knew it was a Friday.
That was my only connection with the outside world, the real world.
I had hope that someday I would be free. I would be out there too. And it was not a foolish hope; it was faith. I had faith in myself that I would always keep trying.
And I had faith in that one God who claims to see us all and know everything about us. If He was really there, there was no way He would let me keep failing in all my attempts.
Recently, like my eyes, my ears too had also had something to do. Listen to someone.
They had another hostage now, just like me, somewhere downstairs, probably a man. I heard him screaming sometimes, screaming in pain, swearing even.
I didn’t know why he was there. Hell, I didn’t know why I was there. I felt hurt for him, sorry. But more than that, I was curious about what he looked like, who he was—anything that I can find out.
The only face I saw except my captor’s was that of the black woman who brought me three meals a day, at nine o’clock, one, and seven.
She always gave me a warm smile but never spoke a word. I’d tried to make conversation many times, but she never replied. That smile made me think that she felt bad for me.
The bloodcurdling screams of the man downstairs were scaring the hell out of me. The clock was ticking, and my heart grew heavier at the arrival of my captor.
At eight o’clock sharp the door unlocked and he entered with a little smile on his face, his teeth gleaming white and his enticing black eyes digging into mine.
He wasn’t very tall, just a couple inches taller than me, but somehow he always managed to tower over and intimidate me. He tucked my hair behind my ears.
“What have you been doing, sweetheart?” he asked with his tone as cool as it could possibly be.
But I knew that was just a bluff. He was a monster in disguise. His beautiful black eyes didn’t fool me anymore. I could see through them to the animal that was ready to rip apart everything that comes in his way.
He didn’t expect me to answer. Obviously, he was only toying with me and my temper. It was a game for him.
I replied with a dark stare. That’s all I did in those days. There was no point in wasting my words on him. I didn’t consider him human enough for carrying on a conversation.
“What are you wearing, honey?” His eyes pierced mine with a sharp look of anger, disapproving of my T-shirt and pajamas. He hated to see me in them.
I was supposed to wear the silky and satiny clothes from the closet to please him. But sometimes I tried to piss him off on purpose. That was the only weapon I had: my attitude, never giving in to his ways.
I was always the one who paid for it, but I did it anyway. I hated dressing up for this monster who had no right to keep me there and treat me according to his whims and fancies.
With anger flaring up in his eyes, he took off, without a turn or second look. I didn’t understand his behavior at first. Why didn’t he hit me or yell or do any of his drunk stunts? He just walked away.
This was rare, very rare. I didn’t recall him ever leaving this room after eight o’clock in the last three months.
But as soon as I heard the alarming scream of my new housemate, the understanding of my captor's intentions hit me. That man was probably paying the price for my tantrums.
It hurt more than anything.
I don’t want to get anyone hurt for my actions. I’m not like that. At least I don’t think so.
The brute came back in an hour with a weird look on his face. I hadn’t seen anything like that before. It was a look that mixed victory and pain.
He didn’t touch me after that, just jumped into his side of the bed and slept.
It reminded me of the first night we’d spent together as a married couple.
He had lifted me in his arms and brought me into this room, laid me on the bed, and showered me with kisses. I had told him I was tired and then he let me sleep.
I was happy and proud inside that I had found a man who loved me truly. Had I known what was in his mind I would have run without ever looking back.
I lay on the sofa enjoying whatever it was that had saved me from his wrath for one night. I felt comfortable—safe, even. Because I knew that when I woke up in the morning, he’d be gone.
Alba would knock on the door lightly and open it. The room would be filled with the smell of coffee and French toast. Saturday is French toast day.
Suddenly it started raining cats and dogs. Everything outside the window got blurry and dark.
The rain that had always been like music to my ears sounded like a battle cry. The pattering of it on the walls and roof was like an army of soldiers attacking me with pointed, poisonous arrows.
Slowly it all got scarier: the noise, the blur, the wetness.
For the first time in all those months, I was happy that I was inside the safety of this house. And as ironic as it sounds, I also felt a strange comfort in his presence. I was comforted that I was not all alone.
So I quietly went to bed and lay beside him.
But I couldn’t sleep. The noise and the strange feelings got me so confused that sleeping was the last thing I could do.
I lay there staring at the ceiling. It was so beautiful, and yet it felt like the rain would smash it into pieces at any time and it would be all over me.
The bricks, the rubble, the glass all breaking into tiny pieces and attacking me with lightning speed and then the lightning itself burning me to ashes.
I turned on my side and again when I saw his face, I felt better. He was snoring lightly, in a deep sleep.
His chiseled body, tanned skin, and his godly face that shone like an angel’s.
He had thrown his shirt on the dining table chair and hadn’t bothered to change his jeans. He looked so good that in any other situation, I would have worshipped him.
Actually, I had worshipped him three months back. He was the man of my dreams. He was rich, intelligent, and gorgeous as hell. I hadn’t believed my fate was that this man was so much in love with me and was going to marry me.
My family had not liked my decision to marry Daniel, but I wrote them off. I cut all ties with them. All I wanted was him.
The weather didn’t improve at all. It got scarier through the night.
I doubted if he’d go to work the next day. I didn’t know how I would spend the day around him.
I wished he would spend the day downstairs in the house if he stayed. I wanted to be alone for those twelve hours.
Eight o’clock in the morning to eight o’clock at night. That was my time. The time when he did not own me. The time when I didn’t have to see him, tolerate him.
The time when I felt like a useless woman, not a rag doll he’s supposed to play with.
With all my thoughts running forward and backward in my mind I got more and more restless and once again I started thinking about the other hostage. The screams I’d heard.
I had asked Alba about it, and she had given me a surprised look. Sometimes I thought she understood me, that she understood English, but other times it felt like I was talking to a wall.
I tried to close my eyes and shut everything off. Though it took a lot of time, I was finally able to sleep.
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