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Zoya was very angry with herself. What had gotten into her to explode in front of Asad like she did? She was always calm and collected, never a hair out of place. She never got too emotionally attached and showed an objectivity that few people possessed. Even at work she was respected by her colleagues for caring for her clients but always maintaining a professional code of conduct in mind while dealing with them. She never lost her cool with anybody not matter what the circumstances were.
She should have just done the right thing and walked away last night like she was doing in the first place. What devil had gotten inside her to turn back and answer him and on top of everything tell him about her marriage. Her marriage ?? How could she have been so stupid? Now he will ask her all kinds of probing questions about an aspect of her life she didn't want to dwell in. She shuddered. She had told very few people about her marriage. Most people in her school knew because that's where she had met Farhaan but once she had moved to Manhattan it was easy for her to omit that information. She kept her private life what it ought to be " private. She had not breathed a word about her marriage or Farhaan's death to any one at work.
Or was it that she was just mad at him because he had touched her in a way that was mind numbing? She had reacted to him in a way she never thought possible. She was mad that she let him get as far as he did. The sensation of his touch was still vibrating in her body.
There had not been anybody after Farhaan. Her colleagues constantly tried to set her up with different men but Zoya was just not interested. And that is what she had to do with Asad Ahmed Khan, tell him that she was just not interested.
Asad sat down to have his breakfast at the table. Ammi and Ayaan were already eating. He looked around, there was no sign of Zoya. His thoughts drifted to last night and he frowned. Maybe it was not the best way to behave with his brother's sister in law but she was driving him crazy from the moment he saw her. The only thing he could do now was apologize and make sure it never happened again.
Humaira came down the stairs and sat down around the dining table.
"Where is Zoya?" asked Ammi, echoing Asad's thoughts
"Ammi, Zoya is not feeling well." She said, "She doesn't want to go shopping. She wants to take it easy today."
"What happened? Did she get tired with all the shopping yesterday?" Ammi asked concerned
"No, she just wants to rest today so she can do all the sightseeing tomorrow." Humaira explained
"I think that's not a bad idea. Let me go see her then we'll go" Ammi said walking up the stairs.
"Uhh Ammi I am not feeling well too. Can I rest today as well?" Ayaan asked
"NO Ayaan you are coming with us" Ammi laughed
"Not fair, I can get the same bug that Zoya got. Right bahijaan?" Ayaan grinned
Asad gave Ayaan an irritated look and said "I will drop you at the jewelers and go for my meeting. I will call when I am done and come to pick you guys up from where ever you are."
Asad headed towards the car. This would have been the right opportunity to apologize to Zoya, with everyone out of the house. He desperately wanted to get out of the meeting but knew it was impossible. He was the one who had advanced it to today. Now he had to attend it. He cursed his luck.
Zoya was sitting in the small lawn in front of the house and reading a book when she saw the car stop in front of the gate. Humaira and Ammi came in happily chattering about all the exquisite jewelry their eyes had feasted upon. When they saw Zoya they asked her to come inside the house and opened the boxes they had in their hands to show her what they had purchased.
Zoya was painfully aware of Asad. Even though she had not looked at him directly she knew he was the last one to come through the door and make his way to the kitchen.
"Zoya look at all the stunning pieces Ammi bought me" Humaira exclaimed excitedly, as she took out boxes one after the other.
"These are absolutely beautiful" Zoya smiled touching all the pieces appreciatively.
"There is one piece I got for you too. I hope you like it." Ammi said as she took out a velvet box from her hand bag and offered it to her.
"Ammi, no, this would not be right" she took the box reluctantly from her.
"You cannot say Ammi and then say no Zoya." Ammi smiled
Zoya opened the box. It had the most gorgeous pair of bangles in it. It had filigree work on it with stunning chocolate diamond accents. It was classy and elegant. If she had all the bracelets in the world to choose from this would be the one she'd pick.
"This is ..." Zoya was at a loss of words
"Actually Asad chose this one. Humaira and I were debating between two designs when Asad saw this one and asked to see it. He thought it suited you." Ammi said
"Ammi this is too much. Please you have to understand I cannot take this from you." Zoya said
"Zoya if you think I am your Ammi then you will not say no to me." Ammi insisted
Zoya, for lack of anything else to say hugged Dilshad, who hugged her back.
Zoya had still not looked at Asad directly and he knew, with a sharp and intense pain that she was ignoring him, behaving as if he didn't exist.
It was late afternoon. Ayaan and Humaira had decided to go for a walk after lunch. Ammi had retired to her room. Zoya did not want to encounter Asad so she had come up to her room too.
All throughout lunch she was conscious of Asad looking her way and trying to get her alone but she had pointedly ignored him and spoke to Ammi and Humaira most of the time. She did not want to be alone with him lest her body disobeys her and there is a repeat of last night.
She heard a knock on her door. Her heart leaped at the sound and she immediately knew who it was. She ignored it. The knock came a second time and she sat up straight in bed, her hair standing on end. Her heart beating faster. She sat still debating with herself. After several minutes when she did not hear anything she went and peeped through the door. She saw a bunch of flowers laying on the floor. She picked it up and closed the door behind her.
There was a couple of dahlia and a few other flowers she recognized from the front lawn. He had tied it up altogether with a string she recognized from one of the jewelry boxes. It was all so clumsily done yet Zoya found it very endearing. She smiled and hugged the flowers when she finally saw a small slip of paper hanging from the string saying
"I am sorry. Please forgive me"
She turned on her heels, opened her door and almost ran down the stairs. She came face to face with him as he was coming out of the kitchen. She smiled at him, genuinely, she realized for the first time.
Asad saw her running down the stairs with the flowers in her hand. He thought she was going to run into his arms when she stopped abruptly. The smile she gave him took him by surprise. Her dimples were forming on her cheek and her eyes were shining with pleasure. He was smiling back at her without realizing it, his own dimples were becoming deeper.
Suddenly a loud cry came from the kitchen and they both turned their attention towards it. Zoya entered the kitchen and saw Jamila bi standing in the midst of what could be described as a tsunami of flour and sugar.
"Asad baba, do you have a cat I don't know about?" Jamila bi asked.
"No I was just trying to make something." Asad murmured
"What were you trying to make, biryani for a wedding party of 500?" Jamila asked baffled
"I was trying to make muffins." Asad said sheepishly
Zoya took in the flour and the sugar on the floor, the broken eggs near the sink and spilled milk near the fridge. She started laughing. A full throat laughter which sounded alien even to herself but one she couldn't control.
Asad watched her fascinated and then joined in himself.
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