As you can see, I absolutely love reading. I may not have reviewed that many books here but I have on goodreads! Recently, my interest have been leaning towards some creative writing. The story that you're about to read is my very first attempt of writing something. I hope you like, if you don't, I'm open for criticism but please, be nice! So, here goes nothing!
SAGE OF DARKNESS
Life isn’t easy. Nope, it is not easy at all but what matters is what you make out of it. That is my mantra for life. When life brings me down, I get up and bounce back. I fight, to the very end. Yes, I have problems but then who doesn’t? That’s my perspective on life. When life throws you lemons, you learn to make lemonades! After all, that’s how one should take life; accept it as it is, except for me it’s wasn’t as simple as that.
Most people who know me, say I’m arrogant and a snob, others have far worse opinions of me than that. Yes, my actions at times or most of the time may seem a little self centered, well okay, a lot self centered, but I am only doing it for the betterment of whatever or whoever that benefits from it. For those who are close to me (just one) knows me as a complex and a complicated person. I’m successful, I’m capable of holding my own and my opinions do matter in the business world. Yes, I am always surrounded by people, one would say I am a famous person in the business world but there is a constant emptiness that grips my heart. Pathetic, you say? Predictable, you say? Yes, I quite agree with you. Every man’s fear, will I be alone forever?
I hear your questions, believe me, I do. How does a perfect guy like me (emphasis on the perfect) is single and feels alone? Well, the answer is rather predictable as well; I haven’t found the right one. You’re absolutely right when you say I am surrounded by women; all the time. I am not the type of a guy who fools around with women, my mama taught me better than that.
Talking about mama, she is the love of my life. There’s no one more important to me than her. I do miss her a lot. I lost her when I was about 9 years old. I think about her all the time. My dad remarried shortly after she died, which is why I am no longer in talking terms with him. See, I was young and angry that my mom left me, I didn’t expect him to do it either. So, I left. I stayed with my grandparents (Mom’s side of the family), they were more than happy to welcome me into the family. After all, I am their only grandson. My grandfather died after I turned 17 and my grandma when I was in Uni. Well, now, I guess I am alone aren’t I?
That didn’t let me give up on life or make me stop living my life. I just found another way to deal with the grief. I worked. My granddad has this lumber business that he owned. I took over after he died and made it into a Multinational Company. Yes, now I am the CEO of that Multinational Company and am living my life like a king, well, something like that. I know, sounds like I’m bragging, but I am not. I assure you I am not bragging, step into my life and you will agree with me. Life this way has its ups and downs. As for me, more downs than the ups. I love my life, don’t get me wrong, and the money is amazing, but there always that emptiness in my heart and that hollowness in my soul that I can’t seem to shake off. No matter what I do or how I do it, it’s always there, gnawing at the centre of my soul, ripping me apart like a wolf tearing at his prey.
Yes, I am admitting it out loud, even if it hurts my pride, I am LONELY! I need company, more of a companion for life. Someone I can love unconditionally without having to calculate my move. Someone whom I can love without any judgments and someone who can love me for the complex way that I am.
I need to fall in love you say, I couldn’t agree more! Where do I find that girl? This could be an adventure for you and me, an adventure that neither of us can forget.
I found her, yes, I really found her. Where? How? Well, this is how I found her, I never thought I would say this but I actually did. I saw her right in front of me looking all dolled up. I followed her. I followed wherever she went the whole day. I even ditched my driver and took the London Underground Tube following her. Wait, I just realized how creepy this sounds. Wow, this didn’t seem creepy at that time but now when you think about it, it does seem a little creepy doesn’t it?
Well, I think she didn’t notice me. I don’t think she ever saw me let alone notice me. I was quite efficient with that. Oh wow, there I go again with the creepy. Okay, let me tell you what happened exactly then you decide if it’s creepy (I highly deny any creepiness thereof, that is if you find it creepy). Do we have a deal?
See, I had this meeting, well an arbitration proceeding to be exact in High Street Kensington. My driver dropped me off in front of a café few doors away from where the meeting was to be held. This cafe served one of London’s finest tea, it was a chilly November morning, so I stopped by to get a cup of tea. I ordered, paid and stepped aside to wait for my brewed tea. That was the moment; brace yourselves that was the exact moment when I saw her walking in the café. I suppose she came in to get a cup of tea, my gaze was locked on her, she walked in gracefully and ordered a hot chocolate; a hot chocolate? I was a little bit surprised, that was my kind of girl. Well, most girls in London nowadays count calories more than they count money, so yes, a cup of hot chocolate. That shouldn’t turn me on, but it did. She wasn’t skinny like most girls. She had stuff at the right places with the right proportions. To be blunt, she had meat on her bones and that, I like!
She paid the cashier for her hot chocolate and smiled at the cashier while saying ‘have a good day’. Her voice was sweet as honey and her smile, that smile could melt a thousand suns. It was magical! (too much?) She just walked into my life and now she was walking out, I couldn’t let that happen. Instead of running after her to get her number and probably call her back for a date like any normal person, I followed her. I followed her and saw her walking into the same building I was supposed to have the meeting, which by the way I forgot about.
I was on stealth mode, I didn’t want her to see me. I didn’t want her to know who I was, just not the right time. I just decided to follow her. She walked into the lobby of the building and asked for Brown & Associates. The security guard handed her a visitors’ pass and disappeared behind two giant glass doors. I followed suit and later realized that I was also headed to Brown & Associates. I figured she must be one of the lawyers involved in the proceedings, maybe even the Defendant’s lawyer. This could be interesting. I headed to Brown & Associates at the 5th Floor and to my surprise she was actually my solicitor. Mr. Raffles, my solicitor introduced her to me as his associate Catelyn Sheffield and that she will be taking over the file from him. This means that she is closer to me than you think.
Now, this makes a lot of things easier doesn’t it? Questions like where do you live? Or do you live alone? are you single? May be asked out right but just like you, I agree that these questions would scare her away from me and I cannot allow that. I decided to be less creepy and follow her. The whole proceeding took about 3 hours to finish and those 3 hours was the most beautiful three hours of my life. I realized something, I don’t know if you would agree, but lawyers generally are quite straight and confident and to one part they are almost arrogant but she seemed humble and polite. How was that even possible?
It was quite obvious when one of the opponent lawyers raised his voice at her, she seemed calmed and answered every single of his contention on the case with ease and precision yet humble and confident. Her tone at any point in time never seemed arrogant nor rude. I was surprised and pleased at the same time. She felt different. My heart jumped every time she glanced at me.
When the proceeding ended, I was about to talk to her when Mr. Raffles beat me to it. He said something to her and then turned to me. She nodded at him and left the room. He said something to me which I didn’t hear, he was a big blur in front of me. I was more focused on her. I couldn’t let her get away from me. I had to see who she was, I just had to know. I acknowledged Mr. Raffles and urged my assistant to attend to him. I stormed out of the crowded room trying my best to locate her. I was screening the crowd for her, then I found her. She was heading out of the building. I ran towards the exit, slowing myself down as I approach her. She headed down on the street and entered into a cafe. I stayed outside this time. I know better than to scare her. She knows I’m her client. It would be easier if I just talk to her, but the when I see her, I seem to forget all the words that exist in my vocabulary let alone form a proper sentence.
She got her sandwich and walked out of the cafe, out of a sudden she stopped in the middle of the street. I stopped as well turning into an alley nearby. I couldn’t risk her seeing me. I hid against a wall and peeped out into the street. She was still standing in the middle of the street, this time she was looking around as if she was looking for someone. Had she sensed that I was following her? But I could swear that I wasn’t that close to her.
She looked around and shook her head a number of times and continued walking. I waited a few minutes before I got back out into the street. She was already gone. I couldn’t see her. But I knew she was heading her office, Mr. Raffles chambers were just around the corner on High Street Kensington. I knew I could catch her again soon. I headed the other way, but I was fortunate my driver was already waiting for me a few meters away from where I was standing. I hope he didn't see me peeking out from the alley, that would be really hard to explain. He might think he’s working for a weirdo, well, on second thought, that might not be that wrong. I’ll wait for her when she gets off work. *wicked smile*
There, was I creepy? You decide. It was around quarter past ten at night when she got out of the office. I was amazed at how dedicated she was. Hardworking, polite and humble, qualities that are rare nowadays, don’t you think?
She was heading towards the underground tube. Well the station was quite near but to travel alone at this time was quite dangerous. I knew she was taking the tube back home and she took the circle line. The platform was empty. There was a few kids fooling around the platform but otherwise it was quite empty. I was just a few meters away from her, she looked carried away with her thoughts to even notice me standing right there. I was feeling a little out of place, its not often I travel using the tube. Again she looked as if she was looking for something. I knew she was looking for ‘me’. I knew she could sensed she was being followed. Some how I could feel her fear building up. I want to know her, to be there for her, but never to hurt her in any way. So I stopped following her at that moment. I didn’t want her to feel scared or unsecured. I would always be there to protect her, not to harm her. Plus, I figured it will less creepier if I stopped following her. I am going to man up and call her like any sensible normal man would do. Define normal please? Yes, sorry, I didn't quite catch you there, gosh am I slurring? Have I lost my sense?
The next morning, I walked into my office feeling a little jolly. My secretary told me that I was constantly smiling and according to her, I rarely smile, a fact which I find hard to believe. I smile, occasionally. So I decided to call her. I picked up the phone and went on to dial the number which at that moment I realised that I didn’t have her number, well her personal number. I ringed Mr. Raffles chambers. The telephone rang but there was no one picking up. I tried again, and thank god someone picked up.
“hello…” said the voice. I quickly recognise the voice. It was hers, as sweet as honey.
I was about to answer when suddenly I lost my voice. I couldn’t speak. I had lost all my abilities to speak.
“hello…” she said again.
“Hello… ummmm… Ms. Sheffield.. It’s me, Amar Qureshi,“ I began.
“Oh hi Mr. Qureshi. Yes, how can I help you?” she said. I could sense that she was smiling. That is definitely a good sign.
“I couldn’t get to Mr. Raffles. I was wondering if I could take a look at the documents from the proceedings yesterday,” What in gods name did I just ask her? That was all I managed to say. You cant blame me, her voice was mesmerizing.
“Yes, I know, Mr. Raffles is caught up with something else at the moment.. I could dispatch the documents over to you if that’s okay.” Catelyn replied.
“That would be a huge help. Thank you Catelyn” I said. Trying to sound normal, at this point, my hands were already trembling.
“No worries, is that all Mr. Qureshi?” She asked me, she did sound as if she was in a hurry.
“Well, yes. That would be all. Thanks again.” I said hanging up the phone at the same time. What was I suppose to do? She was in a hurry.
I am a 32 year old male who runs an empire, I have got hundreds of people working for me, they tremble when I walk in the room, they fear my very presence but I am trembling to talk to a girl. How pathetic does that sound? I followed a girl, almost scared her in the process and I’m beginning to be creepy. None of this makes any sense. I am strong and confident, nothing shakes me, yet this girl comes along and melts me to the core. This is not how its supposed to be. She is supposed to be charmed by my presence, she is the one who is supposed to be head over heels for me instead its the other way round. Something’s definitely not right with me.
“Why do you look like you just crapped in your pants?” I looked up from my phone to the person standing in front of me.
“That’s not very nice,” I said, glaring at him. He is the only one who speaks to me the way he just did. My best friend, Dr. Prem Kumar.
“I didn’t hear you walk in.” I continued.
“Yeah, well, I am in stealth mode, trying to creep you out.” He said laughing. I looked up at him with a shock. I never told anyone, how does he know? I wondered.
“Woo, man, what’s up with the face? You’re scaring me.” He said looking at me with a serious face.
“God, not you too. Do I really look scary?” I asked.
“Yeah, you do.” That was a really quick answer.
“You know, you could take a minute or two before answering questions like that” I said. Prem is the closest thing to I have apart from my mother. I confide in him and right at this moment I am going to tell him about Catelyn and watch him laugh right at my face for this.
Like I said, he laughed, and laughed, still laughing as we speak.
“So, you’re telling me you just fell in love and you tried to scare the girl by creeping her out?” He asked with an amused look on his face.
“I wouldn’t say I fell in love, more attracted but pretty much, yes,” I said with a nod. I wont deny but I was rather feeling a little disappointed with Prem’s response. I was hoping for some support, or should I say encouragement.
“Right, Amar, I have been friends with you for a very long time and I know a lot about you but I didn’t know you liked stalking people. Honestly, I didn’t know you had it in you.” He said while laughing harder. “Alright,” he continued “listen Amar, you need to take her out, go out on a couple of dates then decide if she is the one for you. Despite you telling me that she is the one, the rational thing to do here is first, talk to her, ask her out then decide. That’s what normal people do, but I dont know how it is with you stalkers but stalking her will definitely not do the trick.” He had to stop talking, at this point he was laughing so hard he could practically roll on the floor.
I shot him an annoyed look and threw a pen at him, childish you say, I couldnt agree more. When I am with him the inner kid in me comes out. Well, he is the only one who knows me in and out, I can truly be myself around him. He doesn’t judge, he doesn’t have any business dealings with me, he doesn’t have any other intentions except just being my friend and confidante. He would risk everything he has for me and so would I, for him.
We chatted a while longer before calling it a day. I went back to my loft at about half past 9 at night when I heard the intercom to my loft buzzing.
“Yeah, who is it?” I asked.
“It’s me, Catelyn. I’m here with your documents.” I froze when I heard her voice. I couldn’t move, I froze in front of the intercom for a solid minute. I came to my senses when the intercom buzzed again.
“Mr. Qureshi, it’s kinda freezing out here.” She said.
I let her in and went to my door. I opened the door even before she was in front of my door. She came out of the elevator smiling. Looking all graceful and poise. I smiled, I must have shown all 32 of my teeth when she walked out of the elevator.
“Right, your documents as per your request. Sorry to bother you at this hour. These documents are confidential, I thought it’d be better if I send it over myself,” she said handing them over to me.
“Thank you, but you should have told me, I could have went over instead.” I said taking the envelope from her. “Would you like to come in?” I asked, hoping she would say yes, but what if she says yes? what would I do then?
“I would love to but I have to go. But thank you.” she said.
“Are you heading back home? I could drive you if you want me to.” I offered.
“Oh that’s okay. I can take a taxi. No worries.” She said declining my offer. But I couldn’t just let her go that way. That would be wrong.
“Oh nonsense, I’m driving you home. You came all the way out here to deliver these documents to me, it’s the least I could do.” I said insisting that I drive her home. Plus, it would be good chance for me to get to know her. I was not about to let that go.
“Well, if you insist.” I smiled at her agreement.
“Great, I’ll fetch my keys and we’ll get going.”
In the car, she was quite silent. She never said a word except for thanking me driving her back. I didn’t know how to react, I didn’t know what to say either. I asked her where she lived and who lived with, that was all. She lived alone in a flat near St James Park. Wasn’t that far but still it was nice having her in the car with me. Looking at the park at this hour was a rare occurance for me. I rarely come out to this part of London.
She told me her family lived in Manchester, just a few hours away from the city. She goes back during the holiday seasons, that is the only time she gets to see her family apparently with her work schedule and no help from Mr. Raffles. I was almost driving up to the curb when I heard a loud rumbling. I looked at her and she was turning red.
“Sorry, I hadn’t eaten all day,” she said with a faint smile.
“Oh no, you’re going to be sick if you keep doing that. I am taking you out for dinner.” I said with a firm voice. This is turning out to be an interesting night for me. First, she showed up at my door and now this. I’m going on a date without having to ask her out. I am lucky! I can hear my heart thundering against my chest.
“So is there any place that you would like to eat?” I asked.
“Well, I was just going to get some Kebabs after you dropped me off right around the corner. I was thinking about it the whole day and I am kind of craving for it.” She said, her voice was low. I dont know if she intended it to sound so low but it was sexy as hell and its taking all of my willpower not to pull her into my arms and kiss her senseless. I was gripping the steering wheel till my knuckles turned white.
“Right, Kebabs it is,” I said driving past the park to get to the vendor. We stopped at a Turkish Kebab vendor just outside the park. We got out kebabs and found a park bench that was vacant. The minute we sat, she unwrapped the Kebab and took her first bite. She closed her eyes, enjoying what she bit into and made this purring sound that made me weak in the knees.
She turned to me and saw I haven’t touched my Kebab yet. “Oh sorry, I was really hungry. Couldn’t wait. Do you want me to help you with that?” She asked.
I gave her a smile, “no, its okay, eat up.”
The rest of the night was really pleasant. We talked about so many things, including our interests and this was something that I didn’t expect. I was comfortable with her, more importantly, I was myself. And that was the exact moment I realised I was comfortable this way with only one person and no one else. I was at ease with her, there was no trembling, no nerves, just me and her. It was out of the ordinary.
I walked her back to her flat and waited till she entered the building before I left. My heart wasn’t thundering anymore, it was calm, good calm. I was happy. For the first time in a very long time, I was truly happy.
Such a simple night, hmmm, who would have thought.
The next few weeks were really busy, both for me and her, with our work and the arbitration proceeding. We didn’t get to spend much time together, we were always surrounded by people. No, we’re weren’t officially dating, well not yet. What I meant was I didn’t get the chance to be alone with her so that I could properly ask her out. Every time I approached her, there was a reluctance in her voice and there was hesitance in her eyes. I wonder what brought that on her. Maybe she doesn’t like me? Am I being too forward? I didn’t make any move yet, why would she feel that way?
I kept wondering, to put my heart to ease, I wanted to call her, but what would I say to her? What would I tell her? There was meeting scheduled between myself, Mr. Raffles and Catelyn. I arrived at Mr. Raffles chambers about 30 minutes late but as I got there, Catelyn was already waiting in the conference room but Mr. Raffles was nowhere to be found. I enquired if he would be joining us, she wasn’t sure herself.
We began discussing about the documents that was exchanged in the earlier proceedings, yes, I know, it is quite dry these civil proceedings, not as exciting as those criminal ones, but nonetheless, this involves billions of pounds from my business. I was pretty sure some of the invoices that was exchanged were doctored, yes, I know what you’re thinking, why am I doing this when my accountants could have done it better, if that were to happen then I would be missing my chance of being in the company of such a beautiful girl, are you kidding me? I am not letting that chance slip away right before my eyes.
As I was explaining to her about those doctored invoices, Mr. Raffles walked in. He looked a little clustered. She excused herself as Mr. Raffles required her presence. They were speaking very softly, I couldn’t quite catch what they were saying but whatever that I could make off the conversation was “No!”, “You can’t leave” and “Fine”. I wasn’t eavesdropping, it was a little loud these words.
Catelyn came back in the conference room, her face was flaming red. It was probably the result of whatever argument she had with her employer. “Is everything alright?” I asked, I am concerned for her after all.
“No, everything’s good, chirpy!” She said, I did note a sarcastic tone in her voice.
“Right, shall we get on then?” I said, trying to change the subject.
“Yes, please,” she said looking at me and smiling.
That smile could melt a man’s heart any given day. I wanted to enquire more about the “chat” she had with Mr. Raffles, but maybe it’s not my place to interfere. After all, it is between Catelyn and her employer but I could remedy the situation by giving Catelyn her own practice, however I do figure that she would decline the offer. The rest of the afternoon was just the both of us discussing the documents and where the case was headed. We stopped at about quarter past 2 in the afternoon, I couldn’t just leave without taking her out for lunch, so I decided to ask, half expecting her to say no. To my surprise, she said yes.
At lunch, her face was still a little tense, “Is everything okay, Catelyn? You look tensed?”
“Yeah, I just…” She trailed off and her eyes narrowed to the corner of the restaurant. “That is just so wrong.” She said suddenly in anger and disgust. “He ditched a meeting with the client for a date?” She looked really peeved, the redness from her neck was slowly rising to her cheeks.
“What?” I was puzzled and turned to the path her eyes were narrowed at. It was Mr. Raffles with a woman, wow, for a short, stubby man, he really scored well. The woman was quite pretty, well, hot to be honest, it did appear as if it was a date, he was holding her hand but maybe that wasn’t quite right. He was sweating and his left hand was trembling. I could see it few tables away. We were seated far to his left and we had a clear view of his table. Our table was a little secluded from the main dining area of the restaurant, so no one could actually see us.
Catelyn got up, I held her back. “Wait, I think whatever it is can wait, Catelyn. Let the man have some lunch.” I said, stopping her. I pulled her and had her seated next to me.
“But,” She started to fight but she sat next to me and continued “you know, there’s so much of files that need his attention back at the office and there’s so many client looking for him. I can’t run the firm on my own. I’m just one person. God, I know I’m efficient but this is a little bit too much.” Her face was bright red now.
I tried my best to calm her down but she kept on venting. I suppose I can be her destresser. We saw Mr. Raffles leave with that woman through the back door of the restaurant. That’s a little bit odd, I thought to myself. Catelyn shot up and looked at me. “Something’s not right. Why the back door?” she mumbled.
She followed them through the back door calling out his name. The restaurant was packed with people even though it was well past the lunch hour. It is a famous restaurant, in fact it is my favourite restaurant. I followed Catelyn trying to stop her.
She walked through the kitchen and passed by a few of the kitchen staff who looked quite busy with their work after all, they do have a restaurant full of people to feed. They exited the restaurant through the back door and got out into the alley behind the restaurant. Catelyn and I exited through the same door, she called out to her employer and Mr. Raffles turned towards her. He was gesturing something at her, but before we could comprehend what he was saying, there was a loud explosion, like a gunfire, the next I know, I was on the street and I took Catelyn down with me. When we got up, Mr. Raffles were few feet away from us lying motionless in a pool of blood.
-END OF CHAPTER ONE-