Light rain showers were gradually soaking the dry lands of Delhi and its close suburbs. The night was humid and sticky. It was the first seasonal rain in the city in the month of June, and a much needed one for diminishing the oppressive heat of the summer. The accumulated layers of dust had been washed off from the modern structure of Alam Villa, making it sparkle even more from afar in the dark rainy night. The driver honked the horn at the wrought iron gigantic gates of the villa. An armed guard rolled down the mirror of his cabin and looked out. As soon as he identified the black shiny BMW X3 of his master, he immediately came out from his cabin with an oversized black umbrella and opened the heavy gates, allowing the luxury SUV to cruise along the driveway and stop at the front foyer.
The same guard rushed towards the backdoor of the vehicle with his umbrella held out for his employer. He held the umbrella over Shahzeb’s head, while Shahzeb grasped Zoya’s hand and ushered her towards the low spiral marbled steps of the foyer. When they were under the protection of the high ceilings of the illuminated porch, Shahzeb pushed the buttons on the small screen of the automatic security system on the main door. As soon as the numbers matched with the security code, the screen showed a green light and the bolt unlocked with a clicking sound. Shahzeb closed the door securely behind them.
Zoya sat on the couch with a lazy thud and sprawled her body, tilting her back on the cushions to ease away the stiffness. Shahzeb looked at her tired profile; she looked even more fragile than before. Except for her protruding, sweet rounded belly, she hadn’t gained any extra pounds on her body. Her beauty bones were still prominently showing from her round hemmed neckline. But her curves were now even more divine, he could see that even in her loose shapeless dressing. Her hair were messily collected on her crown in an uplifted bun.
“Staring is a creepy habit Mister, especially when a woman is not in her best shape,” she announced, looking at him through narrow slits.
“Not my fault. I haven’t seen you since almost 10 days. I was quenching the thirst of my eyes. And, of course my heart.” He replied with his characteristic indulgent charm and sat beside her.
“That was the most clichéd line I have ever heard from you.” She turned her head and looked in his deep dark eyes.
“Really? I thought our interactions have been typically clichéd since the past couple of weeks. Those late night calls, the daily texting since your birthday, weren’t those classic examples of typical behavior of two people in love?” He kissed her palm. His eyes were shining with mirth, as he reminded her of those long, naughty conversations at midnight which had become the norm for them since the last 10 days, when they were away from each other. The soft pitter-patter of the seasonal shower on the window panels was creating a rhythmic sound, making the atmosphere more intimate. It was already past midnight, all the servants were already in deep sleep in their quarters; they were alone in the huge modern Villa. Shahzeb took out the single bob pin from the underside of her bun which had secured the silky mass of chocolaty hair on her crown. Her silky, wavy hair fell over her back like a crumpled satin sheet. It was one of Shahzeb’s most favorite assets of his beautiful wife. He loved the sensation of their soft supple touch on his hands or on his face. He also loved their distinctive smell of fresh roses mixed with a subtle hint of tea tree, soothing and relaxing his senses.
“Well, if it hadn’t been for those conversations, I would have never known that you had those late-night-lovers qualities.” Zoya whispered teasingly, minimizing the distance between their faces.
“That’s because you are still not fully aware of my entire qualities darling. I guess you are still in the learning process.” Zoya smiled coyly. She grazed his stubbled jaw line with her fingers. As her fingers touched his lower lip, Shahzeb took her index finger to his mouth and bit on it lightly. She gasped at his sudden action and snatched her hand away from his mouth. He winked at her playfully.
“Come on, you have to rest for the night; it’s been a crazy day for all of us. I wasn’t expecting your return. But I am glad you are finally here; and I felt, my mind is finally at ease. It was getting hard for me to concentrate even on the basic tasks when you were not around me.” Shahzeb helped her up from the couch and led her towards the spiral staircase.
“Yeah, yeah, that’s why you didn’t even greet me or ask about my well-being when you came in the evening,” Zoya taunted impishly. And it was true, Shahzeb was so engrossed with pacifying Saba that he had barely registered Zoya’s presence in the lounge earlier. To be fair to him, his mother was crying again because of him, and his father was raging. In-fact, he really believed that if Saba or Zoya hadn’t been there in the lounge, Nawaaz would have beaten him again. Shahzeb shuddered on recalling Nawaaz’s brutal punches on his face. His hand unknowingly touched his nose.
“What happened?” Zoya eyed him curiously.
Shahzeb shrugged his shoulders in denial and closed the door behind them, turning on the AC.
“I was so devastated after seeing mum crying for baba that my mind had literally stopped working for some moments. I could have never guessed that my mother would throw all my revengeful ploys on my face just to save her manipulative father who had ruined her life to ashes. I still find it hard to believe that she could actually love, or even care for that man.”