Stay hidden from dad when he is drunk, a simple thing to do, but only if he let me stay hidden. I am inside the cupboard, crouched, so I don’t hit my head and stay away from him.
This happens a few times a week, and I can usually avoid it. Today, I am in the middle of it.
I hear them fighting, their voices piercing my ears. Mom and dad always fought, but I managed to get out of the house. Today, I couldn’t. My body is shivering, but I stay hidden because my dad cannot find me right now. He shouldn’t. He takes out his anger on me. The rage he has for mom and the world, I become the meal for it. He says everything is happening because of me, but I don’t know how.
I hear footsteps, and my hands shoot to my mouth, so I don’t make any noise. He is here. I hear the scrunching of his boots. Please, go away, but he doesn’t. He opens the cupboard, and his black eyes meet me.
“I got you today. You are the reason for everything. You know that, right?”
“Now, you will pay for it.”
“No, I didn’t do anything. I haven’t made any noise. Please…”
“Come out and stop crying before I have even started. You are a boy, and boys don’t cry. Understood, son?”
“Sir, please… it hurts… it burns…”
Dad grinned and brought the cigarette butt closer to me. I tried to pull away, but I couldn’t. He had me in his firm grip, and I could only close my eyes.
“Don’t close your eyes. I will make it worst. See your punishment. Don’t run away from it.”
I opened my eyes and screamed as I felt something pressing on my skin and burning. It was too hot, the pain blinding me.
No… stop it. Stop this pain.
“Boss, are you okay?”
I sat straight and looked around, disoriented. My breathing was shallow, and I was sweating like hell.
Oh, no, the same nightmare.
How long will I have to bear it? But it had been a long time since I had seen it.
I should have taken Jenny’s advice and retired. Only if I had the guts to do it. Work kept me sane, and I didn’t know if I could survive without it.
I rubbed my hands against my face, washing the memories away. Only if I could tear them away from my mind. I couldn’t. Only Jenny could lock them away, but she wasn’t here with me right now.
My forehead creased as I remembered where I was. I was on the plane, traveling to Abu Dhabi.
“How many times should I tell you this, Raj? Don’t let me sleep on flights.”
“Um… sorry, boss. I was working on the contract and didn’t realize.”
My head jerked toward the voice, and I saw Rehan smirking at me, casually leaning to a side. There was a cigar in his hand. He had quit smoking but needed a cigar between his fingers to control his urge. He toyed with it while staring at me, looking for more answers.
Rehan Khan shouldn’t have seen this. This guy was a nightmare, and putting my weakness on the silver platter for him to see wasn’t my plan. I glared at Raj, and he ducked his face. We both minced our words in front of Rehan because the guy was actually crazy, leeching, and enjoying people’s discomfort.
“Cut it, Rehan. Raj, if you ever repeat this, I will fire you. I only sleep when I am alone or with Jenny. Understood? You will never let me fall asleep when I am not alone.”
“Yes, boss. This won’t happen again.”
“Don’t worry, Raj.” I heard amusement in Rehan’s voice. It irritated me.
I turned to Rehan, my eyebrows raised. The guy winked, aggravating me further. I had to find his weakness. Ishita was his weakness, but I would never use her against him. I had to look for something else.
What breaks him other than Ishita?
“You have something to add to that?”
“A few. First, Raj is my puppet also, so you cannot fire him without my approval. Second…” Rehan turned to Raj and grinned as if he was enjoying this.
I saw Raj gulp, waiting. “Jenny has a soft corner for you, and Jen is Arjun’s weakness, so you won’t ever lose your job. Raj, you can even manipulate him and ask for a raise. You got yourself into the penthouse. You can get more. Just think about it.”
“I am happy and satisfied with what I have. I don’t need more. Boss, I will be in the back. I need to complete the presentation and get your approval for it. Ordering a black coffee for you.”
I nodded but stayed silent until Raj was gone.
“Stop playing your games with me.”
“I don’t have buttons like you. Also, I cannot switch it on and off. I am who I am.”
“How did you get a girl like Ishita?”
“How did you get a sweet, docile girl like Jenny?”
“Never again take her name.”
Oh… so you can take my puppet’s name, but I cannot.”
“Can we speak about the contract now?”
“I thought you would never ask. Getting this appointment wasn’t easy, and neither was getting into Abu Dhabi for business. We have to make this count. I am leaning toward you for this. I will charm the guy, but you must handle the numbers.”
“Don’t worry about that. I have got that under control.”
Rehan nodded and glanced outside the window. Something was going on in his devil’s mind.
“Nightmares never go away. You only need to learn to live with it.”
“Not interested in your advice.”
Rehan turned and grinned, his smirk vicious. “I hope you can hide your weakness from the world. I got to know about this in no time.”
“That’s why I never went into partnership before. I like to work alone. But only your offer hadn’t excited me. The world will never know about my weakness because I have none. Other than Jenny, nothing can break me.”
“I am an exciting guy,” Rehan winked while I turned back to my laptop lying on the seat tray, shaking my head. It was useless to answer him. He loved seeing others frazzled.
He was good at avoiding things he didn’t want to answer. I never thought I would meet my match. But with him, I felt like I was walking in the dark. I kept others in the dark, and he kept me in the dark. The tables had turned, and I didn’t need this right now. God only knows how he convinced me of this partnership. Working with him was a nightmare. But other than Jenny, no one had boiled my blood before. No one will. I had to compartmentalize and not let this crazy guy get to me.
Thank you for reading this. I hope you enjoyed this snippet. Do leave a comment and rating!
Don’t forget to read Arjun’s Jenny before reading Arjun’s story. My Rebirth will come soon on Kindle.
Read the other books in the series: