~Based on prompt 3~
Chapter 5.B - Promise
Saturday morning, after breakfast, they headed out to explore the town and the beach. Lunch was eaten at a shack on the seaside, after which everyone took a stroll along the beach.
Naira kept her confusing feelings for Kartik at bay and focused on what she had come to do. She eyed a telephone in the shack. If she could sneak off for even a minute, maybe she could use it.
This time she planned what she would say. She would tell the dispatcher to put her in contact with the cop, Aditya Bansal. She would press on saying it was urgent. If they needed time, she'd call again. There were a lot of ifs and buts in the plan and it wasn't perfect but it was the best she could think of.
The problem was Keerti never left her side.
"I think our plan's working," Keerti commented gesturing at Kartik and Shubham who were walking ahead of them. "Kartik looks much better.
"Hmm..." Naira responded turning around to see how far the shack was. It was still in her line of sight. They hadn't wandered off far.
"What did you guys talk about last night on the patio?" Keerti's question caught Naira off-guard.
"Um... nothing much... just you know..." she trailed off.
"I don't mean to pry but," Keerti commented, mischievously, "I saw you guys holding hands."
Naira let out a nervous laughter, "What?... It was..." Why was she getting so flustered?
"Is there something going on between you two?" Keerti asked directly.
"No!" Naira shook her head, "Why would you even think that?"
"Oh come on! I knew you guys had a crush on each other," Keerti teased her.
Naira narrowed her eyes at Keerti that made Keerti laugh. Her laugh made Kartik turn around and Naira even giddier.
"Stop it!" Naira whispered to Keerti when Kartik walked towards them.
"Care to share?" he asked Keerti. She gave one last playful look at Naira and picked up pace to join Shubham, leaving a confused Kartik and Naira behind.
"What was that about?" he questioned Naira to which she shook her head.
Since Keerti wasn't with her, she seized the chance to act on her plan. "I need to use the washroom," she informed Kartik and headed back in the direction of the shack.
She looked back once and saw all 3 Goenka siblings together. No one was following her. She picked up pace, reached the restaurant's reception and told the staff that she had to make an urgent call.
With shaky fingers she dialed 100. This is happening. This is really happening. The line connected and she heard it ringing. One ring... so close... two ring... come-on pickup!... and then a "hello, how may I help you?"
"Oh thank God!" She let out a sigh of relief, "I am call-," she had just started to say when Naira heard her name being called out. She turned around, the receiver still in her hand and saw Keerti approaching.
She had no option but to put the receiver down. D*mn it!
The rest of the evening, Naira spent sulking. What a colossal failure this trip had been. Tomorrow was Sunday and they would be heading back to Mumbai, back to her cage. She had one chance and she blew it.
That night Naira couldn't sleep. She decided to go for some fresh air. When she walked in the patio, at around midnight, she was surprised to see Kartik sitting outside.
His back was to her and she contemplated if she should go out to the patio. A second later she heard his voice, "Can't sleep?"
She strode over and sat down next to him, leaving a gap between them.
"Me neither," he said. Both of them stared above. It was a clear night sky.
"It's so peaceful here," Kartik commented, "I don't feel like leaving."
The comment took her by surprise, "Then what about your empire back home?"
He scoffed, "Yeah. My empire... of crime, murder and loss..."
Naira swiveled to face him. He was still looking up at the sky. His eyes had started to cloud with tears, "When did I stop living, Naira? I can't recall one day in recent times when I've been happy, at peace with myself."
A tear rolled down his cheek and he wiped it with the back of his hand. "Look at me, so weak... That's what everyone is saying behind my back... that Manish Goenka's successor is a coward. Maybe I am..."
Naira put a hand on his shoulder to comfort him. "Then why don't you leave?"
He scoffed and replied in a hoarse voice, "In our line of work, we simply don't leave. We can't. And I never had that option. Who will take my place? 15-year-old Shubham? Should I put a gun in his hand and make him kill a person like my father did to me?"
He pressed his palm on his face and took a deep breath, "I am not a good person. I know that and I despise myself for it. I have lost more than I gained being the leader of this empire," he spoke the word with disdain. "I've lost my mother, my father and..." He turned to face her. "You."
Naira gasped and stared at him. Was he saying that... what was he saying?
He took her hand and held it in both hands. "I miss you so much. You were right there, in front of me, living under the same roof but I couldn't pull you in the mess. It wouldn't have been fair."
His words... the sincerity in his voice... perturbed her. She had made him this monster in her head, someone who was out to destroy her but the man sitting in front of her was anything but a monster. He was flawed, even wrong but vulnerable and conflicted.
She raised her left hand and caressed his cheek, wiping off a tear. He closed his eyes at the sensation.
"Sometimes..." he spoke in a broken voice, "Sometimes at night, when I can't sleep, I feel like burning it all... destroying everything and walking away. But I when I wake up in the morning, I still am the coward who doesn't have the guts. And I feel disgusted at myself".
"Kartik," she took his name, not knowing what else to say to comfort him.
And then she took him in her arms and hugged him. Her hands snaked around his neck as she rested her head on his chest. Slowly, Kartik placed his hands at the small of her back. He breathed in her hair and closed his eyes.
"Stay with me..." he mumbled in her ear. "Please."
At that moment there was not an ounce of dishonesty in her voice, "I will. I promise."
They sat on the patio relishing the warmth of each other's bodies for a long time. When they broke apart, Kartik's arms were still wrapped around her back. His face was just inches apart from her. His gaze lingered from her eyes to her lips, ever so slightly. And then he slowly closed the distance between them and kissed her.
The feel of his warm lips on hers sent a tingling sensation all over her body. She parted her lips to deepen the kiss. Naira ran her hand through his smooth hair, pulling him closer. Their hot breath mingled together.
She had dreamt of her first kiss many times, with the guy who was right in front of her. At one point of time, she had given up hope that anything could ever happen between them. Yet tonight, sitting under a star-filled sky, away from all the madness, they had their first kiss.
It was everything she ever imagined and more.
[Chapter 5.2 word count = 1296]
Chapter 6 - Truth
Later that night, Naira twisted and turned in her bed. She forcibly closed her eyes to fall asleep but in vain.
After the unexpected kiss on the patio, a silence had hung between Kartik and her. He had reached out and touched her cheek pushing a stray strand of hair behind her ear. He was drawing close to her again when she jerked her head back.
One kiss could be termed a mistake, two- not so much.
Her abrupt movement made Kartik take cognizance. He lowered his hand and pulled away. The cool air occupied the space where only a few moments ago, their bodies were flush against one another.
Naira stood up, straightaway heading to her room and plunging herself on the bed. Sleep had evaded her every since.
The kiss was muddling her mind. Why would she do something so stupid? Her only intention of orchestrating this entire getaway was to contact a particular cop. Then why was she now having this massive debate in her mind about Kartik?
He was her enemy, the person who elongated her entrapment. Her motive was to bring him down and earn her freedom. Then why was she having these conflicting thoughts about him? He said that he too was trapped, that he sometimes wished to destroy his empire... She had known him for a long time, albeit there had been a disconnect, but she knew that he wasn't faking it. What reason would he have to lie?
Yet, Akhilesh's words about Kartik's alleged involvement in Manish's untimely death, about him cancelling her departure, were causing a whole new set of puzzlement. Tonight she saw a glimpse of her old Kartik, her friend, and her crush.
Come morning, they started their return journey. Keerti was extra cheerful in the drive back since her plan of trying to reach out to Kartik had worked. It was by no means sufficient and Keerti had confided in Naira that she would make more of such plans and would need her help.
Kartik was calm the entire journey. He didn't speak much to anyone. But what bothered her was that he didn't even spare a look at her, unlike the other day when he would glance at her. His stoicism made her angry.
Did the kiss mean nothing to him?
The next day, Naira was summoned to Akhilesh's chamber. He didn't spare any time on niceties and pointedly asked her what this weekend trip was about. Naira, to the best of her knowledge, said that the weekend trip was just a family getaway.
He assigned her with another task- of retrieving a file from Keerti's safe. That he deemed would be easy enough since Naira was Keerti's most trusted aide.
Naira shook her head, "I am not going to snoop around Keerti. She is my friend. Moreover, what has Keerti got to do with Kartik's involvement in the murder? And since we are on this topic, how is my work relevant at all? All you make me do is snitch files and pen drives and papers. I am beginning to think if your story even holds any water."
She hadn't meant to say the last statement. It had come out in a flow. Akhilesh pressed his lips in a straight line and looked pointedly at her. It scared her.
"It's been..." she stammered, "2 months and we still haven't gotten close to..."
He stared at her coldly making her uneasy. "When you accepted my offer 2 months back, I saw a resolve in you. Today, I don't see that grit any more. Do you not want payback for what Kartik did to you?"
"It's not that..." she stuttered again, "These past couple of days have made me... re-think..."
"You are so... stupid," Akhilesh snickered. "What happened in the farmhouse? You rekindled your childhood friendship? And that made you think that Kartik is innocent? Did you forget that he specifically made sure that you couldn't leave for Bucharest?"
"No..." she tried to put up a weak defense, "I..." She was at a loss of words. She remembered the promise made to herself- that she would bring Kartik down then why was she letting her resolve weaken?
Akhilesh shook his head, "What could I expect from a Singhania?"
The surname "Singhania" caught her attention. That was the 2nd time in 14 years some one had addressed her that.
"Why do you call me that?" she questioned feebly. Curiosity was killing her but she didn't want to get her hopes high. Akhilesh was furious at her and might not answer her questions.
"Because you are one. Naira Singhania," he stated as a matter-of-factly. "You're the last known living descendant of your family."
"What?" she muttered.
"The Singhanias and Goenkas were rivals since decades. Though we had our territories earmarked, like we do with the other families, there was a lot of bad blood between us," Akhilesh reminisced, "The heads kept us in check. Manish Bhaisaab was ours and Singhania's was Naitik... your father."
Naira took in each word silently. She had been waiting for this since 14 years.
"Naitik married Akshara. They had 2 children, your elder brother Naksh and you."
Naitik, Akshara, Naksh... these names were her family... A family she never knew existed.
Akhilesh continued, "It was business as usual for us till one day a deal went wrong. A drug shipment meant for us, was stolen by the Singhanias who denied the allegations. Tempers flared and guns were drawn on both sides. We were out for blood and then something unthinkable happened."
"What?" the word was barely audible.
"Someone shot Saumya bhabhi in the middle of a crowded street. That was a declaration of war from the Singhanias."
Naira felt her heart constrict. Her family had killed Kartik's mother.
"After that day, Bhaisaab was out for blood. He hunted down each Singhania and killed them. Your parents ran with your 5 year old brother and an infant you. They left Mumbai and hid in North India, waiting for a suitable opportunity to leave the country."
Naira's heart was beating faster. On one hand she dreaded knowing what happened next and on the other, she wanted to know.
"Bhaisaab found your family living in Rishikesh. He shot Naitik point blank. Akshara ran with you in her arms. When Bhaisaab caught up with her, you were nowhere to be found. He tortured your mother for your whereabouts. She died but didn't utter a word through the ordeal."
Tears rolled down her cheeks. Her father was shot and her mother was tortured to death. She couldn't bring herself to ask what Manish did to her brother.
As if he could read her mind Akhilesh continued, "Bhaisaab couldn't find you but he did find your brother. He pointed the gun at the weeping child but for some reason he didn't shoot Naksh. Instead he brought him to Mumbai and pushed him to a life of crime and drugs. You brother was made an addict; he was a petty dealer, working at the lowest level for us. The legacy of Naitik and Akshara- a homeless druggie. Finally he found you after many years, hidden in an orphanage as a last resort by your mother."
Naira recalled the conversation between the warden and Manish all those years back- that he had been searching for her, that she was Naira not Tina. It all made sense now.
Akhilesh sighed, "Maybe his thirst for revenge was satisfied, and so Bhaisaab didn't bother you."
Other than keeping me a prisoner. Maybe that was my punishment- to be trapped in a cage till my death.
"But," Akshilesh continued, "Bhaisaab had a change of heart. He was sending you to Bucharest, until-."
"-Until Kartik intervened," Naira completed his sentence. Manish had destroyed her parents and Kartik was doing the same to her. Everything that Akhilesh said made her mind dizzy. She could never imagine that this was her legacy- murder and mayhem.
"Where's Naksh?" she spoke suddenly, "Where's my... brother?"
"He died a month back," Akhilesh informed her.
Naira's head swayed and she held a nearby chair for support. She truly was the last Singhania. Before she could ask how, Akhilesh answered, "He was getting in trouble all the time with police, which scared off customers. It was getting difficult to keep him in check so Kartik had his men take care off him. They made the problem go away."
"Kartik?" Naira felt light headed again. This day was throwing shock after shocks at her.
"Yes, your dear friend Kartik," Akhilesh mocked her, "about whom you're having second thoughts, had signed off the death warrant of your last family member."
Naira slowly shook her head, "That can't be..."
"True?" Akhilesh jeered. "Ever since Kartik took over, he personally gets involved in all matters- even trivial ones like street dealers. I don't know how many times I've to tell you this but the Kartik you knew is no more. He is a mob boss- who kills people. People like my brother, your brother."
Naira held her head in her hands. Kartik had not only kept her imprisoned but killed her brother too. What more did she need to sabotage him? To get her revenge?
Akhilesh placed a cardboard box in front of her. "This is everything I've on the Singhanias- newspaper clippings, police reports, everything that'll help you clear your mind."
Without another word he exited the office. Naira's fingers trembled as she opened the dusty box. With a deep breath, she took out the contents and began reading.
The next few days Naira kept going over the contents of the box. Akhilesh' story was true. It was there in the newspapers- the full blown out war between two rival mafia families and how it had made the Singhanias extinct.
Naira had no affinity to Manish. He had always been her captor. The only time he had been kind to her was when he was setting her free. But Kartik's case was different. Like a fool, she had begun to rekindle her old feelings for him. She had momentarily forgotten of what horrors he was capable.
Days later she came face to face with him.
Kartik was the first to talk, "I have been meaning to talk about... that night..."
"The night we kissed?" She asked outright.
Kartik raised his eyebrows, surprised. "Yes."
"Funny." She commented bitterly, "Since you never spoke to me after that." She didn't have the energy to feign a sweet voice or fake courtesy.
"Is that why you're angry?" he prodded softly. "I thought you needed time, since you practically ran off after we kissed."
"How kind of you," she taunted.
"Is everything fine?" he asked.
"So now you care?" she sneered. "These past 6 years you cut me out of your life. Then one night you kiss me and ice me out again. But now you're bothered about me?"
"You know very well why I had cut you out. I never wanted you to be in this mess. You don't know what horrors I have seen, what evil I have done."
"Oh I know plenty," she cut his words.
"You know nothing," he said angrily. "These past 6 years have been hell for me. I had no one. You don't know how hard it was for me to be in the same house as you and ignore you."
"But you did a good job of ignoring me," she spat at him. She didn't know why she was so angry at him- that he curtailed her freedom or that he cut her out of his life or that he kissed her and didn't speak to her?
"Because I had to!" he shouted and grabbed her arm, "I had to stay away from the one person I love."
Naira stared at him with a mouth wide open.
Kartik was shaking. He inhaled before speaking, "I love you, Naira."
[Chapter 6 word count = 1986]
Chapter 7 - Confession
"I love you, Naira."
The echo of Kartik's voice hung between them.
"I've loved you for a long time. I didn't know when our friendship became something else..." he confessed. "The night we kissed, made me feel alive- that there is something worth living for, that you're worth living for."
She stood still, observing him intently.
He continued, "Ever since father passed away and the burden of running the empire fell on me, I've been in a conflict. I thought I was cursed to live an unhappy life till we reconnected, Naira. The time spent with you gave me the clarity, the strength that I needed."
She finally spoke, "To do what?"
"The right thing." He stated calmly.
"You'll find out soon." He took her palm between his hands. "That night you promised you'd stay with me. If I am successful in what I plan to do," he paused, contemplating, "Will you give us a chance?"
"You are talking in riddles," she answered.
He smiled, "I want to tell you everything, but I can't. I need to deal with all this first. Just know that whatever I am doing is for us. If you'll have me."
Naira furrowed her eyebrows when he spoke again, "You don't have to say anything now. Take your time."
She searched his eyes to see if he was being sincere. A love confession was the last thing she expected from Kartik.
"You give me hope, Naira," he pressed her palm again, "I just hope that you deem me worthy after everything. I love you so much."
He slowly let go of her hand. Smiling, he walked away. Naira stood still at the same place for a long time and only moved when she felt her heart beat return to normalcy.
If left on her own, Naira would spent days mulling over Kartik's confession leading to a plethora of conflicting thoughts. These past few months that's what she had been doing.
No, this time she'd not let that happen. She turned around in direction Kartik had just gone.
Kartik was at the far end of their property. There was an under-construction building far from the Goenka house within the massive compound. He was with Akhilesh and 2 other men, inspecting the structure, when Naira shouted his name. Everyone turned to the source of the sudden commotion.
"What is it, girl?" Akhilesh asked her angrily, as she crossed the threshold.
Naira's eyes didn't leave Kartik's. "I want to talk to you. Alone."
Kartik took cognizance of the urgency on her face, and asked the others to exit. Akhilesh wavered his glance from Kartik to Naira before following the others out.
They stood in the middle of the room. Lights had not been installed and since the sun was setting, it cast a red hue in the vacant room.
"What happened?" Kartik asked.
She exhaled, "What game are you playing?"
He furrowed his eyebrows, "What?"
"You love confession? What's it about?" she questioned him pointedly.
"You don't believe that I love you?" He looked at her incredulously. "Why would I lie?"
She smirked, "Isn't that what you people do? You play sick games. Like you father did to my brother by pushing him to crime and drugs. Like you did when you signed off his death order."
"What on earth are you talking about?" he retorted, confused.
"My brother, Naksh! He used to work for you by peddling drugs on the streets. He was becoming a nuisance so you had your men take care of him."
Kartik's racked his brain. "I've heard that name..."
Hot tears were pricking her eyes. Kartik didn't even know who Naksh was. They were so insignificant to these Goenkas. Anger bubbled inside her. Today she'd not hold anything back.
"You make a big deal of your troubles, of how you are trapped in," she gestured around with her palms, "in all this. You talk about wanting an out. Yet when your father was doing the one good thing by setting me free, you clipped that plan."
Kartik looked at her in shock.
"I know," she retorted, fuming, "I know that you're the one who sent Vasile back, who cancelled my plan of leaving this cage. You want me to be in misery. Is that what you call love? You can't escape your trap so you'll force me to stay. And then you say that I have a choice!"
Kartik's shock gave way to anger. "That enough, Naira."
"So you're not going to deny it?" she prodded him.
"No, I won't deny it," he said, fuming. "The first thing I did after father died was to send Vasile back and to make sure that you'd not be sent with him. Father wasn't sending you off to college. He was selling you!"
It was her turn to be shocked.
He continued, "Andrie Vasile runs an escort service for high profile clienteles in Bucharest. It's a prostitution ring."
A chill went down her spine.
Manish Goenka had never done anything good for her. He wanted to fulfill his thirst for revenge by destroying all of the Singhanias, including the children. Why would he all of a sudden change his stance and send her to college?
Tears trickled down her cheek. Manish was going to sell her. That was her punishment.
"I should've known," Kartik's voice broke the silence, "That you were not happy here. I should've let you leave. But I couldn't send you away because I needed you. It was selfish, it was wrong but I wanted you. You're my only solace in the midst of this insanity."
He ran his palm over his face and sighed, "I needed you by my side for what I was going to do. Naira, I," he paused before speaking, "I am going to shut it all down. Everything."
Naira gasped at the revelation.
He declared, "I never wanted this life. I always despised it. I am carefully closing it down, one operation at a time. It'll take time but I intend to get out of it. I don't want a sword hanging over my family for the rest of their lives. We've lost so much. My mother, my father... I can't bear to lose anyone else."
Everything he said made sense and sounded sincere. If he was indeed curtailing his life of crime then why would be want to be the head? If anything, Kartik had been consistent in stating one thing- of how much he hated this life of crime.
"But... you spied on Shubham... paranoid that he'd take your place..." She stated, thinking of the incident when Kartik was tapping Shubham's phone.
"I was keeping tabs on him for his safety. I am certain that someone, close to me, is plotting against me" He clarified. "The only 2 people that I completely trust are Keerti and you."
Naira felt her chest constrict. His unwavering faith on her made her feel guilty, when unknown to him; she had been plotting against him.
"Your father..." Naira gulped before asking, "Why did you poison him?"
"You think I poisoned my father?" he asked in a low voice.
"I..." she stuttered. "Your father died after drinking the whiskey you served him. No one else could've tampered with the whiskey. I didn't do it... you're the only one who had access to the glass."
"Wow." He scoffed. "Just wow! What other wretched things do you think I did? Ruining your and your brother's life, whose existence I didn't even know about till today. Poisoning my father to take over the throne of a crime empire, which I didn't even want, ever. What monster have you made me in your mind?"
Naira stood speechless. She didn't know what to say.
"Do even have any feelings for me?" he questioned her, "That night, why did you kiss me back if I was this killer, this monster? Why Naira? It's like you don't even know me at all. Do you honestly think that I am capable of killing my own father?"
"The poison in the whiskey..." she tried to put up a weak defense.
"There was no poison in the whiskey or his glass," Kartik declared. She raised her eyebrows in shock. He continued, "If his drink was poisoned, don't you think the first suspect would be you? You poured the drink after all. But did the police ever question you or did I?"
Why had she never thought of it? If the drink was poisoned, why would anyone suspect Kartik? The first suspect would be she- a slave who was trapped by Manish.
"The autopsy revealed that the poison was ingested by him in something he ate earlier. The poison worked slowly and showed it's effect late," he concluded, shaking his head.
Naira held his hand and cried, "I am sorry Kartik. I am so sorry. I was disturbed, I didn't know what to think... When your uncle told me that the drink was poisoned, I suspected you-."
"Akhilesh uncle told you this?" Kartik interrupted her, "But he knew the autopsy report very well. Why would he lie unless..." he trailed off.
Naira looked expectedly at Kartik who was formulating something. In a voice of urgency he stated, "I've to do something." He dashed out of the dark room before she had a chance to response.
She was about to turn around to go back to the house when something hit her head hard. She yelped out in pain and fell on the floor. She touched the back of her head and felt blood oozing out. With teary eyes, she looked up to see the silhouette of a man and before she could make sense of it, she fainted.
[Chapter 7 word count = 1619]
[Total word count = 13590]Edited by ErisedWitch45 - 2019-03-14T07:07:14Z
Chapter 8 - Confrontation
Naira woke up with a throbbing pain at the back of her head. She slowly opened her eyes to take in the surroundings. Her hands were tied with a rope to a chair's armrests. A yellow bulb lighted the room- a storeroom of some sort with boxes scattered all around.
The silhouette of a person stirred in the dark. Her heart beat rapidly as the man approached her. When he stood underneath the bulb, a yellow glow cast on his face. It was Akhilesh.
Her face contorted in shock. Akhilesh was the person who hit and kidnapped her. Why?
"Your inquisitive mind must be bubbling with questions," he snickered.
"Where am I?" she asked, fearful.
"You're in one of my warehouses," he replied. "Far away from Goenka House and Kartik. There is no one for miles. I am afraid we're alone."
"See Naira, I always thought you're valuable. I didn't want to end it like this but you left me no choice," he stated.
Naira couldn't make out what he meant. Her hands were tied firmly with the rope. She wriggled her wrists to make room without catching Akhilesh's attention.
She needed time to get free. "I don't understand." She said to keep him busy.
He sat facing her, "See I was Bhaisaab's confidante, his go-to-guy for everything. I served him, risked my life innumerable times but when it came to ascension, he chose his son over me. Kartik is a coward if you ask me. Yet Bhaisaab and later mother deemed him worthy of being the head? I was nothing but a glorified servant."
Naira could feel the rope move slightly. She kept at it simultaneously distracting Akhilesh, "Still doesn't explain why I'm here."
"I had to take care of my situation," he stated as a matter-of-factly, "I took Bhaisaab out in hopes that I would be the head-."
Naira exclaimed, "You took him out?"
"I poisoned Bhaisaab," he stated as if it was the most normal thing. "The moment was right. Kartik was least prepared to ascend. I mixed the poison in his food. It was so satisfying when he breathed his last. I thought it's all done now. I am the king but no! Kartik snatched my throne."
Akhilesh had been lying to her all this time. He made her believe that Kartik killed Manish when it had been him all along.
He continued, "I think... Kartik may've even suspected me. So I had to take him out. He was also being very secretive after taking over. He had all these meetings where he didn't include me. He was poring over the papers. Something was brewing in his mind but I wasn't privy to it."
"So you used me," Naira stated, "The pen drives and files you made me steal had nothing to do with Manish's death. You wanted to know what Kartik was up to."
Akhilesh nodded, "I found out that imbecile was planning to shut our operations. All my hard work, my empire, my money would be handed-over to the police. I couldn't let that happen."
Naira shook her head at her own stupidity. She trusted this man over Kartik! "You played me like a fool."
"Don't be hard on yourself," he mockingly cajoled her. "You were so gullible; poor little orphan just waiting to be exploited. I sowed seeds of doubt in your mind against Kartik and you started believing. Everything had to be timed perfectly- Kartik's involvement in murder, the sob story about your parents. Too much and you'd suspect why I was being so candid. I patiently kept feeding you whatever I wanted in small doses."
"Even my parent's story was a lie?" she questioned him, angrily.
"Oh no, the part about your parents and how Bhaisaab hunted them were true. The part about your brother's death is also true only Kartik wasn't involved in it. I was. I passed the order to kill your brother." He declared, grinning like maniac.
"You're a monster," she stated, bitterly. "I'll kill you myself."
It made Akhilesh laugh, "So much spunk!" he smirked. "It was all going good Naira. You had given me everything that Kartik was so desperately hiding. But when you wanted to talk to him alone, I knew nothing good would come out of it."
"I told Kartik everything. He'll figure out that it was you- the mastermind, the murderer." She declared angrily.
"As I expected." He smirked, "You won't be alive for long. Neither will your lover."
A chill went down her spine, "What?"
"I messaged Kartik that you're in my grasp. He is to come alone. Any suspicious activity on his part and I'd blow your head. Lover boy is en route. He flew in rage when he heard about you."
In the midst of the Akhilesh harping on about his plans, Naira had loosened the ties on her wrist. If she pulled hard, she could free her hands. But she couldn't do it in front of Akhilesh. Moreover she had to be alone once free. Her window of escape, if any, would be very small. Akhilesh was a giant of a man. He could easily subdue her.
She waited, with a feigned calmness on her face hiding the turbulence underneath. It must've been some minutes before Akhilesh got a text and exited, leaving her alone.
The moment he was out, Naira gathered all her strength and pulled hard at the ropes binding her hands. The rope pierced her skin, making her wrist sore and red. She grunted, ignoring the searing sensation that was pricking her skin and pulled and pulled till there was a snap and her hands came free.
Momentarily shocked at the success of her endeavor, she dashed toward the gate. Before she could leave, Naira heard the faint sound of footsteps approaching. She looked around and spotted a rod lying on a corner. Arming herself with the rod, she hid behind the door.
She took deep breaths to prepare herself. The sound of footsteps kept increasing and when Naira was sure that Akhilesh was near, she sprung out and hit her target with all her might.
The man fell on the ground, yelling in pain. Naira's jaw dropped when she saw it wasn't Akhilesh but Kartik!
"O my God!" she screamed and bent toward Kartik who was grunting in pain. "I am so sorry. I thought you were-." She spoke in fragments and helped him up.
Kartik stood with her help. "Are you fine? Did he hurt you?" He asked when he gained stability.
Naira shook her head.
"We have to leave," he said, urgently. Before they could, they saw Akhilesh standing near the door with a gun in his hand.
"Not so fast," Akhilesh growled, pointing the gun at Kartik.
"Finally," Akhilesh's voice had a triumphant tone. "After years and years of waiting, finally all the thorns in my path are now clear."
"What do you intend to do, Uncle?" Kartik gritted his teeth, "Kill me, like you killed father? And then what? You think no one will suspect you?" Kartik tried to reason, "There is no way you can walk scot free from this. Put the gun down; let Naira go. Then we can talk about this. We can sort this out."
Akhilesh laughed dryly, "Ah nephew, I already have this sorted. I'll kill you and then pin your death on her," he gestured at Naira with the gun. "There are witnesses who saw her with you, she has a motive. Making her the scapegoat will be a cakewalk."
"No one will believe you," Kartik retorted. Naira realized he was buying time.
Kartik was engaging in conversation so that he could think of his next move. It meant that he hadn't told anyone. No one knew that they were in danger. They wouldn't have any outside help. Kartik truly followed Akhilesh's threat word for word. He put his life in danger for her.
A pool of guilt settled in her stomach. This entire unfortunate incident was because of her stupidity and lack of trust on Kartik. If anything happened to them, it would be her fault.
Her heart started racing with fear. She looked back and forth between him and Akhilesh but couldn't figure out what to do.
"Let me worry about that," Akhilesh concluded, pulling the trigger of the gun.
What happened next was in a split second. There was a thunderous boom of the gun being fired. Kartik shouted in pain as a bullet pierced through his left shoulder and he hit the ground. [15002 words]
[To be continued]Edited by ErisedWitch45 - 2019-03-14T08:01:53Z
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