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   Chapter 2 NO.2

MAFIA COLLATERAL (Mafia series 2) By NSH_SHAHEEN Characters: 23267

Updated: 2018-05-18 18:57


'Well?'

'Well what?' I asked.

He arched a brow at me. 'What do you think?'

'About what?'

He groaned. 'About this project, you stupid ass.'

I almost chuckled but refrained from it. He's my boss after all. 'It's alright.' I shrugged.

He looked at me closely for a few seconds, his brown eyes inquisitive.

'Man, Zameer you can be so dense sometimes.'

'Well then Zeb, you ought to know that by now.' I slapped Shahzeb's arm. He chuckled.

'Well, if you weren't so smart and good at learning, I would've disposed of you a long time ago.'

'And by dispose, do you mean a bullet in my head or my balls?'

'Even better, straight in your ass.'

We both burst into a fit of humourous laughter.

'Well if you did that, my ghost will be coming back to haunt you and shoot you multiple times in the ass as retribution.'

'And then my ghost will be coming after yours to kick your ass.'

I laughed at that. I liked being this free with Shahzeb. It gave us two to catch up on many things especially after a tough day of killing.

Shahzeb stopped laughing and took a swig of his drink, his face becoming serious all of a sudden. 'About the whole Chinese matter, what do you think, Zameer?'

'You know my thoughts on that, ' I said and took a swig of my drink. 'They are good for business. You should definitely go for it.' I advised. He looked at me for a good few seconds. I couldn't tell what he was thinking.

'What?'

He shook his head. 'Nothing.'

'If you've got something to say then come out with it.'

Shahzeb sighed deeply and looked away from me. 'What are you doing here Zameer?' He said in a hushed voice.

I frowned in confusion. 'What do you mean?'

'I mean, what are you still doing here? With us? Me and Shehryaar that is? Didn't you have a dream that you wanted to follow?"

I'm silent. I don't want to respond but he's waiting for a response. "My loyalties lie with you guys. And besides, I have no one outside of this life. I wouldn't know what to do."

'Zameer, ' he called me and looked away. I stared at him in anticipation. 'Leave when you have a chance. A person like you, doesn't deserve to be here.'

Zameer woke up with a start, jerking up into a sitting position. He realised that his body was in cold sweat.

What was that? He thought, catching his head in his hands. Why did I remember Shahzeb? He thought and took his wrist watch from the side table. Upon noticing the date, he understood why he saw that memory in his dreams.

"Well buddy, " he said and switched on his cell phone, taking out a photo of himself with Shahzeb. He was an identical copy of Shehryaar, with his sharp feautures and dark hardened expression; the only difference was his brown eyes that held some humanity in them, unlike his twin who's grey eyes were as hard and cold as steel.

"You always asked me that and my answer was always the same. Happy birthday brother." He murmured. It had been two years now since Shahzeb was murdered in cold blood by Azhar Ghulari, Shahzeb's older half brother. Zameer would never forget that day. It was the worst and most tragic day of his life. He had lost his only family that day. And now, it was two years since that day. How time flew by and how life dealt with them.

Shahzeb was dead while Zameer was alive. And Shehryaar was happy to have the woman that he always wanted. He would never understand Shehryaar though. Shahzeb was easy to understand. But not Shehryaar. Never Shehryaar.

Thinking of Shehryaar, Zameer was reminded of Anissa. It had been six months since he had seen her. Six months since he was posted to the northern front of the Sikhai. And thinking about what had happened with them left A bad taste in his mouth. He had never thought that things would ever come to this.

After Anissa had shot him, Zameer knew that he would live since it was Shehryaar who was controlling the situation. But he knew that it was all planned in order to manipulate Anissa.

'Protect her Zameer. You need to keep her safe.'

Zameer recalled Shahzeb's words so clearly as if he had said that to him yesterday. And all that Zameer was doing was keeping his promise to his brother.

Shahzeb and Shehryaar meant a lot to Zameer. It wasn't for nothing that he was so loyal to them even though they belonged to the Tyrannical Ghulari family. And thinking about his past, his background. Things might've turned out for the better for Zameer, his life was good compared to how his past used to be but he never forgot. He always remembered where he came from.

'You don't have a say, peasant.'

Zameer scoffed to himself when he recalled what Shehryaar had said to him before he made Anissa shoot him. Peasant, yes, he was one once.

Zameer came from a poor low class background. He didn't know much about his family lineage, all he knew of was his mother. His mother served as a maid in the Ghulari household. She was very young, in her early twenties when Zameer was born, but his father abandoned him and his mother. He was raised by his mother for the first five years until she fell ill. He along with his mother were cast aside because of her illness by the Ghulari family and left to rot in the streets of Khaaspur. One of the memories he had from his childhood was the hardship he and his mother faced when they were exiled. His mother tried to get a job but wouldn't last long because of her illness. His mother was a good kind woman. She raised Zameer with love and care and tried her best to provide for him but she died in a year's time. Zameer still remembered that he watched his mother take her final breaths in front of him, her weak and frail body supported by a dirty wall, her clothes ragged and torn. And the worst part was, Zameer couldn't recall how she looked like. No matter how much he tried, he couldn't remember. It was almost as if his mind deliberately made him forget about the looks of his only family. And this left his heart deeply scarred. He had no family. He grew up an orphan. And this left a few yearnings in his heart. An emptiness that he longed to fill but he knew that he could never do that.

The loud noise of the alarm clock on the bedside table pulled Zameer out of his thoughts. He sighed and combed his fingers through this hair. He noted that he was in need of a haircut. Getting up, he went to the bathroom and cleaned up. He looked at himself in the mirror; deep dark eyes, a stubbled angular Jaw and full lips. A scowl marred his features, even showing himself how annoyed and restlessness he was. And it was true. He was annoyed.

Shehryaar had appointed him to the North side of the Sikhai province, the most underdeveloped part of the whole region. And Zameer wasn't happy about it since it was so hot in this place. But he knew that he had to do it. He was lucky to even be alive.

Zameer's eyes scanned his reflection until they landed on the healing pink scar on the centre of his chest. Whenever he looked at it, his mind recalled the look on Anissa's face, the horror in her teary eyes as she was forced to pull the trigger. Zameer was certain that he was about to die. And he didn't blame Anissa or even Shehryaar. He had no regrets except for one, he wasn't able to fulfil the one desire of his heart: the desire to have a family.

How much he longed for it. It was his greatest wish to have a woman who would be a good wife and give him a family. But unfortunately, he would never get his wish. Especially now, that he was no longer in his Boss's good graces. He betrayed his Saeen and he thought that he would pay with his death. But he didn't. He was alive. Shehryaar spared him. But Zameer knew what he had lost. He had lost his brother's trust. He lost Shehryaar's trust. He was hopeless now because Shehryaar never trusted easily. It happened the first time that they had met as well. He and shahzeb became good friends while it took years for Shehryaar to learn to trust Zameer.

Zameer was posted to the northern front of the Sikhai where Shehryaar had ordered a route which was established for the transportation and easy passage of the Russian Mafia forces owned by Victor Petrov. And Zameer was in charge. And he took it as a challenge. All he wanted now was to try and win back Shehryaar's trust one way or another. So he worked so hard. Day and night. But it wasn't working. Shehryaar didn't acknowledge anything and Zameer understood. It wouldn't be easy to gain back Shehryaar's trust but he needed to do it anyway. He needed to be by Shehryaar's side, protecting him and advising him in the mafia wars that they were fighting. But Zameer had a feeling that something was wrong.

Until three weeks ago, when he was called back to Karachi from the northern front. He couldn't believe that Shehryaar personally called him back. And he was tasked with something that no one knew, not even Qadeem, the one who replaced Zameer as second in command.

What Zameer found strange though was that he was to escort a doctor to Shehryaar thrice a week for Anissa. It was indeed strange. He wasn't allowed to stay by Shehryaar's side for long and he had no idea what happened to Anissa. And in his heart, he had a feeling that something had happened to her But Zameer didn't ask questions. He did his job right. The escorting and remaining as the frontier northern leader but being a leader to the most difficult Terrain in the north was tough. Especially when he had to deal with an enemy that won't allow him to have his work done smoothly.

After his shower, He got dressed up. For the past three weeks he had a certain routine to follow.

He spent the whole day at the MMM headquarters but without any results. All day, Zameer gave orders and instructions to his aids back in the north. Work was slow and Zameer was starting to feel tired when his phone buzzed with his the job he was appointed to do. He sighed to himself.

Time for another boring afternoon. He thought, finding the task of escorting Dr. Sadia Rehman too tedious. He had not much thoughts about it except that he just wanted to go home and call it day but then this whole escorting business would turn up and in his opinion, Zameer would think that his time is being wasted. And it was, he was put in charge of escorting a little girl to and fro for God knows what. But he had no choice.

Zameer arrived at the asylum and headed straight inside. He approached Dr. Sadia's office and waited inside. When Dr. Sadia came inside for her tea break, she jumped with surprise and almost screamed when she saw Zameer.

"Oh, Mr. Sheikh, you shouldn't sneak up on me like that." She said in a low breathless voice, her eyes downcast and her right hand going to her chest to pat her pacing heart. Zameer remained neutral.

"I did not sneak up on you." He said in monotone. "But I apologize if I might've startled you. That was not my intention." He said.

Sadia nodded. "I have, um, a few more patients to check so, um, if you can just wait for, uh, ten more minutes, " she swallowed hard, her cheeks colouring and her heart drumming. Zameer was quick to notice and he had to admit that the rosy color on her cheeks did her great justice and increased her beauty more. She was indeed a lovely girl, with her modest dressing of a scarf graciously covering her hair, her face clean of makeup and her features so delicate and fine that he wondered if he touched her, would she break? And the thing that he found most pleasant was that she kept to herself.

Zameer sighed and looked at his wrist watch. "Alright but only ten minutes."

"Yes, of.....course, " Sadia quickly

came up to her desk as she opened some dossiers and viewed them while she hastily drank her tea while not even bothering to sit. Zameer sat on one of the sofas by the wall as he obcserved Sadia. She was small woman, maybe five feet six inches, a contrast height compared to his six feet one. Her thin and slim frame stood gracefully, dressed in a dusty blue Kurta. She possessed the proper etiquette of how to hold and present herself.

Sadia felt Zameer's sharp eyes on her back and that made her feel so uncomfortable as shivers ran down her spine. She retreated out of the room quickly without finishing her tea as if the mere presence of Zameer scared her out of her wits. And it was true Zameer could easily see that she was intimidated by him. And that was because he made sure to be cold and detached. It was a job after all but he couldn't help but catch the faint smell of her perfume as she had passed by him. It was a very lovely scent, much like her.

As he waited in the office, he thought of the first day that they had met, right here in this very office.

She was something he had to give her that. It wasn't usual of him to have to threaten a lady to do his bidding but the suspicious attitude that she showed him forced him to make things clear. But that was what was to be expected however, he didn't understand why he had to show his gun to her to make it clear what the situation was. He was surprised with himself, he was never impulsive but one look at the young lady, whom he had been studying superficially in a file a few days prior had left him awestruck. She was a real beauty. Maybe that was what got to him and Zameer was always weak in front of a beautiful woman. However, the look of innocence in her warm brown eyes was enough to make him realise his purpose. And she had shocked him when she tried to run and he grabbed her but she jabbed her elbow in his ribs, catching him completely off guard. But after he had explained everything and offered her money in exchange for her cooperation, she surprised him by refusing the money and simply accepting the case without any further inquiries.

But Zameer didn't approve of her. Or more like he didn't like how she carried herself in front of men. Yes, he respected her. She was a young doctor, having a famous reputation of being the country's most youngest physician. And she was the youngest member to the National institute of psychiatry and she did it all when she was only nineteen. It was quite a feat. Zameer was impressed with her portfolio. She possessed a high IQ of +130 then it's not difficult to do what she did but Zameer did wonder how did she build such a reputation for herself? Considering her personality, Sadia had no confidence whatsoever. And she always stuttered. Zameer didn't like that. Apart from the one moment of impulsiveness that she had shown towards him when she felt threatened, during these past three weeks, he got to actually evaluate her. And his evaluation was that she was an extremely shy, timid and introverted person. And that's what he didn't approve of. He liked confident women. But of course, the role model he had in mind, not everyone could compare to that. Not every woman could compare to the confidence and strength of Anissa Ghulari.

Thinking of Anissa caused Zameer's iron mask to slip as sadness overwhelmed him.

I hope that she's alright. He thought. Why does she need a psychiatrist anyway? He wondered.

And as she had said, Sadia returned within time. They were on their way but Zameer continued to muse.

Like always, it was a quiet ride. Zameer was focused on driving but he glanced at the timid girl in the back through the rear mirror. She was gazing out the window. From the way her eyes were observing the world outside had Zameer intrigued. Mostly, people tend to be busy on their phones but not this young lady. She likes to watch her surroundings, at least that's what Zameer had observed.

Zameer stopped the car at a traffic sign. As they waited, a beggar boy came knocking on his window. Zameer quickly rolled down his window and handed the boy a hundred rupee note. The boy looked at him with so much gratitude as he smiled and thanked Zameer. Zameer couldn't help but smile back. As he looked at the boy, he was reminded of the days when he used to beg on the streets with a hungry stomach and no one would bother to spare him any food or money. For Zameer, that was the worst feeling. He never wanted to feel that way again and he couldn't bare it if he saw someone suffering from the same fate that he was lucky to have escaped. Because of his own background, Zameer was down to earth and held great empathy for the unfortunate. He may be a criminal and serving the most ruthless Mafia in the country but he never let that change him. He was sure to make a fine line between work and his personal life.

"Wait, bachay, " Zameer was pulled out of his thoughts when he heard Sadia call the boy in a loud voice. This was a first; he was hearing her use a high pitch voice for the first time. But what surprised him more was what he saw next. Sadia had pulled down her window and with a wide smile, she patted the boy and gave him a five hundred rupee note.

Zameer was baffled. He had thought, that like every other person of a noble and respectable background, they were stingy and selfish who didn't give a damn about the poor. In these three weeks since Zameer started escorting Sadia, he had deduced that she must been the same, with her fine designer clothes and expensive LV bags so he was quick to judge. He couldn't help himself, his past had taught him that the rich and powerful never cared for the poor. His own past experiences were proof of that. But he was wrong. There were always exceptions and who better to know that then Zameer Sheikh when a rich boy had accepted him as a friend and gave him a place by his side and a result, Zameer was were he was now.

She was different. And full of surprises, in certain pleasant yet intriguing ways.

As Zameer continued driving, he couldn't help but steal glances at the young lady in the back. Sadia raised her eyes and their gaze connected through the rear mirror for a fraction of a second. Zameer couldn't help but widen his eyes with bewilderment. The only time she had met his gaze was when they first met and after that, because of her coyness, she never met his gaze again. And now that she did, she looked away immediately, the blush on her already flushed cheeks brightening.

Zameer couldn't help but let a low amused chuckle escape his lips.

This girl really is something. He thought with a small smile. But then he saw the huge building that was their destination and he realised the predicament and immediately wiped off his smile. This was no time for amusements.

Worry and cold dread seeped through his bones as his curiosity began to surface. Why did Shehryaar call for this psychiatrist three times a week? Why was she assigned to look at Anissa? He wanted these questions badly answered. He feared the worst but he refused to think too much of it. And unfortunately, he no longer had the right to be that informal with his boss as he used to be. He was no longer the second in command of the MMM. Zameer sighed at his deplorable situation. But he didn't regret it.

After parking the car, Zameer escorted Dr. Sadia to Shehryaar's office. After taking her devices, he let her inside.

Later that evening, he was called back to take Dr. Sadia back. When Dr. Sadia exited Shehryaar's office, as the routine went, he checked Sadia's bag for notes or any material that she could've made in regards to Anissa's case. It was mostly for himself as well, he desperately wanted to know how Anissa was but unfortunately, he didn't find anything. And he couldn't ask about anything since whatever was happening behind the closed doors of Shehryaar's office was strictly confidential.

As Zameer handed Sadia her bag back, he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He took it out and saw a message from Shehryaar.

'Get in.'

Zameer sighed. "Please sit here for a few minutes, " he turned to Sadia. "My boss needs to have a word with me."

Sadia nodded and took a seat in a nearby armchair. Zameer entered the office and closed the door behind him. Shehryaar was sitting behind his desk. Zameer didn't see Anissa anywhere so he inferred that she must've been taken to the attached bedroom.

"You wanted to see me, Saeen?" Zameer spoke.

Shehryaar looked at him, his face holding an unreadable expression and his eyes staring coldly at Zameer. He's still the same, that's for sure. Zameer thought.

"It's been three weeks. You haven't presented me with a full detailed report on the doctor yet." He said.

Zameer stared at Shehryaar for a second. "I will Saeen, " he said, not bothering to give any excuses even though he had genuine ones. "I'm sorry for the inconvenience. I'll be sure to have a full report on your table by tomorrow morning." Zameer spoke so formally. He had never spoken so formally with Shehryaar before but he had no choice. He wasn't his Saeen's equal anymore. But Zameer was still loyal. He still considered Shehryaar his brother.

Shehryaar gave a stiff nod. His icy glare was set on Zameer. Zameer didn't meet his gaze and stood with his hands locked behind his back. "I didn't expect this much tardiness from you. Next time, i want the task done in intended time." Shehryaar said coldly.

"Yes, Saeen."

They remained silent for a few moments. "Also, " Shehryaar broke the silence after a few poignant seconds. "When will you be meeting with Sarah Kharazmi?"

"Tomorrow evening."

Shehryaar nodded. "I see, good." He said and waved his hand to dismiss Zameer.

Zameer bowed his head a little and left.

As he drove back to her hospital, his eyes were on the road as well on the rear mirror as he watched Sadia gaze out the window.

He was having problems finding out about her family background. Zameer was an expert. He always found out about the people he intended to work with and Shehryaar also trusted his reports.and whatever Zameer wanted to find he would find it by any means but he just couldn't seem to find anything on Sadia's family. Though he was busy himself with his responsibilities as leader of the northern front, but that was still no excuse. No he knew that he needed to get this done.

That night, Zameer sat by his laptop and tried his best, even going so far as to hack into The regional registry but he couldn't get anything. Giving up, Zameer massaged his forehead.

Taking his phone, he dialled a number. The last time he had called this man was two years ago when he needed to find out about Anissa Ghalib for Shahzeb. So if there was one person who could do a good background check besides himself then it was Waqas, a good friend of his.

"Yeah?"

"It's been a long time, Waqas." Zameer said.

"Indeed it has been. I'm very surprised to receive this call from you." The man replied back.

"Yeah about that, I have a job for you."

"What is it? I'm pretty busy these days."

"Trust me, it'll be worth your time." Zameer vowed and he knew that the man would believe hi; he would be getting handsomely paid for it after all.

"Aright, I think I can make some time."

"Good, " Zameer sighed. "I want you to give me a thorough report on Dr. Sadia Rehman, Psychiatrist at the Faisal asylum. I want it by tomorrow."

**********

Saeen; boss

Bachay; child

MMM; mutaheda muhajir movement, united immigtants' movement, a mafia which has a public political profile.

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