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Tying the knot

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WARNING: MATURE CONTENT Sabhya yearned for a chance at love, but her parents had set such high expectations for her that she never had the chance to experience the joys of dating. The constant pressure to meet their demands left her feeling trapped and unable to truly live. When she finally broke free from her parents' shadow, they forced her to marry a complete stranger, robbing her of her hard-earned freedom. Rohit, on the other hand, had made a mistake that his father never let him forget. The constant reminder of his wrongdoing weighed heavily on him, leaving him feeling worthless. As a result, his father manipulated him into marrying someone he didn't know, using his past mistake as leverage. However, fate had a different plan for Sabhya and Rohit. When they were brought together, they found solace in each other's company. Perhaps, for the first time in their lives, they discovered what they had been yearning for all along: a sense of belonging, a loving family, and a place to call home.

A Normal Simple Day

Sabhya

It was a normal day.

An ordinary day.

Just like every other day.

Well, at least until I got a call from my "loving" parents.

And everything changed.

I still can't figure out if it was for the best or worse.

Let's start at the beginning.

The day begins like any other, with me groaning and questioning why I even bother working, and why I set the alarm for 8:00 am just to have breakfast like some "normal" people. But not today.

Instead, I hit the snooze button repeatedly and finally woke up at 10:00 am, as I do every day. I rush to get ready for work, determined to make it to the office on time and make a good impression on my colleagues, even though I've never been late before. (Okay, maybe I'm showing off a bit.)

I quickly brush my teeth, take a shower, and change out of my favorite pajamas and into work clothes. In just 20 minutes, I'm ready to go, but breakfast is out of the question. I have to reach the office by 11:00 am, leaving me with only 10 minutes to grab something to eat because, let's face it, I'm hungry.

I scold myself for not waking up earlier and giving myself time to have a proper breakfast, like a responsible adult. But, there's no time to dwell on it. I have to make it to the office on time.

As I'm on my way, my stomach grumbles, reminding me of my hunger. I'm bored with my usual McDonald's breakfast, but I don't know where to go. That's when I notice a new cafe that has just opened. Hmm, maybe it's worth a try.

The gate of the cafe has "Opening Day" written on it, piquing my curiosity. Without hesitation, I open the door and step inside. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked pastries fills the air, making my mouth water.

During the wait in line, I'm thinking about what to eat. It's strange how I always do this. Ultimately, I choose the same thing every time. Sandwiches, hamburgers, and hot dogs.

What else do I like to eat? Honestly, I don't remember. I'll go with the sandwich. Moreover, I would like something sweet to eat, so I will have cupcakes.

So chocolate cupcakes with choco chip–

"Are you stupid?"

Someone shouts, breaking my thoughts. I notice it is the person standing in front of me. He was a man probably in his 50s.

Someone shouts, breaking my thoughts. It is the person who was in front of me. He was a man probably in his 40s.e. He was a man probably in his 40s.

He was shouting because his order was wrong, I suppose.

"Don't you know how to work? It's such a simple thing and you can't even do that properly! What did your parents teach you? I'm sure they are proud that you are working in just a cafe making coffee and can't even do that properly. Kids these days are–"

Before the man can finish his tirade, I step in and speak up. "Excuse me," I say firmly, looking directly at him.

The man turns to face me with a look of irritation. "Yes?" he snaps.

"I understand that he got your order wrong and you must be upset, but there's no need to shout at him like that," I say calmly. "He's doing his best, and I'm sure he's sorry for the mistake. We all make mistakes sometimes, and it's important to treat others with kindness and understanding."

The man huffs in annoyance. "Well, he should have gotten it right the first time," he grumbles.

"Of course," I agree. "But shouting at him isn't going to make things better. Maybe we can try to find a solution instead?"

The man looks taken aback by my suggestion, but he seems to calm down a bit. "Fine," he says, "but he better make it quick."

I turn to the barista, whose name tag reads Ahan, and smile encouragingly. "Don't worry about it," I say to him. "Mistakes happen, and it's no big deal. Can we get this gentleman's order fixed up?"

Ahan nods and quickly sets to work on the man's drink, while I turn back to the customer. "I'm sorry for the mix-up," I say sincerely. "I hope your drink turns out great."

The man grunts in response, but he doesn't say anything else. As he takes his drink and starts to walk away, I breathe a sigh of relief. But just as I think the ordeal is over, he turns back to me and sneers, "Kids today have no manners. I was teaching him a lesson, and you just made me the bad guy."

I can feel my blood starting to boil at his words. "Excuse me?" I say, my voice rising. "First of all, he's not a kid, he's a grown man who's working hard to make a living. And second of all, there's no need to be rude and condescending to anyone, no matter what the situation is. We can all be better than that."

The man's face turns red with anger. "Listen, girl," he says, stepping closer to me. "If you don't know how to speak to your elders, then don't speak at all. It's a matter of respect, something you young people don't seem to understand."

I take a deep breath and try to stay calm, but I can feel my frustration mounting. "Respect goes both ways," I say firmly. "I'm happy to show respect to anyone who treats me and others with kindness and consideration. But shouting and belittling someone is not respectful, no matter who you are."

The man's eyes lock onto mine with a fierce intensity, and I can see the anger and hatred boiling just below the surface. Suddenly, his hand shoots up, and I flinch, thinking for a split second that he's going to hit me.

But before he can make contact, someone steps up behind him with lightning-fast reflexes. They grab his arm and twist it behind his back, slamming him against the counter with a loud thud.

"Hey!" the man yells, his face contorted with pain and rage as he struggles to break free. "Let me go!"

The commotion draws the attention of other customers in the cafe, and several people start to gather around us. I take a step back, my heart pounding in my chest, and watch as the stranger restrains the man with impressive strength.

The guy looks at me. "Are you okay?"

I look at him and find myself transfixed by his stunning appearance, unable to look away from one of the most beautiful men I have ever seen

He's dressed in black jeans, a white shirt, and a white t-shirt, and his brown eyes and dark hair make him look strikingly handsome. He stands a few inches taller than me, and I can't help but feel drawn to his captivating presence.

As I daydream, lost in thought, the man snaps his fingers in front of me, bringing me back to reality.

I responded in a calm tone, assuring the man that I was alright by saying, "Yes, I'm doing well, thank you." As someone who typically only discusses work matters with men, this interaction was out of the ordinary for me.

The man nods and shifts his focus from me, directing his attention to the person behind the counter. "Call security," he commands.

"Already did," Ahan says.

In the next few seconds, security comes and takes the man away.

Afterward, Ahan apologizes to the other customers and directs me and the most beautiful person on earth to move to the side.

"Wow. I can't believe that just happened," Ahan approaches us and looks at me. "Thank you for standing up for me. Not many people would do that, so it was kind and brave of you."

I stumble over my words in response, "It's okay. He was shouting so much, disturbing everyone. He was being ridiculous and just wouldn't stop yelling. He was a really weird person."

I mentally scold myself for blabbering and try to regain my composure. "Yeah, that's true," Ahan agrees. "But since you–"

Before he could finish his sentence, the most beautiful man interrupts and turns his attention to me. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yes, I'm absolutely fine," I assure him with a small smile.

"As I was saying, since you helped me, I want to thank you by giving you a free coffee. I would have offered something else too, but as you can see, it's opening day, I don't want my cafe to close on its first day," Ahan chuckles, his eyes sparkling with gratitude.

I smile at him, appreciating his generosity. "Thank you, that's very kind of you. But if anyone deserves a free coffee it's him." I point at the beautiful man.

"Well 'he' is my friend so I guess it was kind of his job to help me. So no free coffee for him. What would you like to have?" Ahan smiles at me.

"Can I get a cup of coffee, two chicken Sandwich, and 10 choco chip cupcake?"

Ahan nods and then turns to the beautiful man. "And what about you, Rohit? You're not getting a free coffee, but you can still order something."

Rohit chuckles. "I'm good, thanks. I already had my caffeine fix for the day."

Ahan smiles and turns back to me. "So, how do you like your coffee?"

I pause for a moment, realizing that I have no idea how to answer this question. I usually just drink instant coffee at home or whatever my secretary brings me at work. I quickly respond, "Um, just normal simple coffee."

That went well.

Ahan chuckles, "A normal simple coffee, coming right up. Oh, and by the way, I don't think I caught your name."

"It's Sabhya," I reply.

"Nice to meet you, Sabhya. I'm Ahan, and this is my friend, Rohit," he says, introducing the beautiful man.

"Hi, Rohit," I smile at him, and he smiles back.

I'm feeling quite relieved that the interaction is going well. Maybe I'm not so bad at interacting with people after all. Is this what it means to be an adult? Have I finally grown up?

I suddenly remember that he helped me and I didn't even thank him.

"Thank you for your help," I say.

"No problem," he replies.

After a few seconds, he says, "What you did was amazing, like Ahan said not many people would do that, and that too for a stranger? No way."

"I do think I'm a unique person," I wince at that lame answer. Who talks like that? When was the last time I talked to a guy outside of work? High school, probably.

"Well, it seems like you are," Rohit agrees with a smile.

That was probably the sweetest thing a guy has said to me. Well, he didn't say it but he agreed to it.

Am I really on Earth?

What is happening today?

We smile at each other and then Ahan comes back with my order.

"Please, do come back," Ahan says when I pay for my order.

"The food will decide that."

He smiles confidently as he speaks. "Then I'm sure you'll come back,"

I glance at Rohit and left the cafe smiling ear to ear.

Sitting in my car, I can't help but replay the events of the last 20 minutes in my head. I just talked to the most gorgeous guy I have ever seen, and the butterflies in my stomach are still fluttering about. I can't believe how much I was drawn to him, his deep brown eyes and his warm smile, made me feel like a giddy teenager again. But the euphoria is short-lived as my phone rings, and I see it's my mother calling. I answer reluctantly, bracing myself for whatever she has in store. "Yes?"

"Come to the address I texted you in 20 minutes," she says curtly before hanging up.

Great, just what I needed. I make my way to the address, trying to follow Google Maps but ultimately failing (I swear, that app hates me). Eventually, I arrive at my destination, a sleek glass skyscraper that seems to touch the sky, and call my mother to ask which floor to go to.

"Top floor," she replies before ending the call.

As I ride the elevator to the top, I can't help but feel a sense of awe at the view of the city below. When the elevator doors open, I'm greeted by a luxurious hallway adorned with marble floors and elegant chandeliers. The conference room is equally impressive, with a large mahogany table surrounded by plush leather chairs. A floor-to-ceiling window provides a breathtaking view of the city skyline, and the walls are decorated with tasteful artwork.

My parents and a man in his 50s are already seated at the table, along with someone whose face I can't see. My mother motions for me to sit next to her, and as I do, I catch a glimpse of the mystery man sitting across from me. It's none other than the gorgeous guy I just talked to, and from the look on his face, he's just as surprised to see me as I am to see him.

The unknown man introduces himself as Raina Shekhawat and explains that my parents' company is bankrupt and in need of help. Apparently, Mr. Shekhawat is the wealthiest and most successful business owner in the area and is willing to offer his assistance.

"I'm sure you already know me," he says, to which I shake my head. I'm not exactly the type to keep up with business news.

His voice drips with irritation as he speaks, "I have a proposal for you Sabhya." He waits till my eyes find his. "You marry my son and I'll help your parents. The deal is simple you'll have to get married for three years. This is a business contract marriage that is essential for merging our companies. I've been pushed into this by our new investors who think that I'm not people-friendly. They doubt my concern for others, and I need to prove them wrong. So, to show that I care about my family and the people around me, I've decided to merge my company with my son's girlfriend's parents." He emphasized the word 'girlfriend' with finger quotes. "It's a chance for me to prove that I have a heart of gold, don't you think?"

I feel overwhelmed with all the information that is being thrown at me. My parents want me to marry a stranger for three years because their company is bankrupt? Marriage? Are they serious?

I can't help but notice the irritation in the man's voice as he continues explaining the details of this ridiculous proposition. "It is three years because I don't think we need more time than that. I believe the project would be done in two years, but you won't get a divorce just after the project is done. That's why it's three years. You can just sign the contract in front of you, and you will get married next week."

I need a moment to gather my thoughts. I take a deep breath and remind myself to focus on my words.

I can feel the tension in the room rising as the words leave my mouth. I  try to maintain a calm composure, but my heart is racing.

"You guys know that I have my architectural firm right?" I say, my voice quivering slightly. "If you guys have money problems, you can just talk to me. Why is asking me to marry a stranger the first solution that comes to mind?"

My father shifts uncomfortably in his seat, while my mother glares at me with a mix of anger and disappointment.

"It's not just your firm, Sabhya, you have a partner." my father replies. "And we don't want to take money from you. We just need you to sign this contract, and everything will be fine."

"But I want to help you," I insist. "Whatever money problems you have, I can-"

"We don't need your bloody money," my father interrupts, his voice rising with anger. "Just sign the contract."

I can feel my blood boiling now, as I try to keep my emotions in check. But then my mother's words cut through me like a knife.

"Seriously, why did we even adopt you?" she says, her voice dripping with venom. "After doing so much for you, this is how you are repaying us? This is why they say blood is thicker than water. Having no child would've been better than a good-for-nothing child like you."

I zone out my mother's speech and read the contract, my heart sinking as I scan the pages. Maintaining a neutral face, their words don't even hurt anymore. Since I was 14 I have learned the art of keeping a poker face, especially in front of my parents. It is a normal thing. I was never good enough for them, no matter what I did.

At first, I tried my best to get acknowledged by them, but after a certain amount of time, I learned that they will never be happy with me. They hate me.

But now I have the chance to break free from them. I just have to marry a total stranger for 3 years. It can't be worse than living with my parents, and I've lived with them for 18 years. I think I can handle 3 years.

As I scan through the contract, my eyes fixate on a clause that raises a red flag. "They have to live together in a villa owned by Shekhawat Industries," it reads.

I raise my hand to draw attention to the issue. Raina arches an eyebrow and acknowledges me. "Yes?" he asks.

"I have a problem with this clause," I say, displaying the document.

Raina chuckles in response. "You know after marriage, husband, and wife stay together in a house. So you two will also have to live together."

"I understand that," I reply. "But I was referring to the living arrangements in your villa. If we're going to live together, it will be in my house."

"I'm afraid that's not possible," he states matter-of-factly.

"In that case, we won't be getting married," I declare with confidence.

My mother immediately interjects, shouting at me, but I cut her off. "I'm sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Shekhawat, but I won't be taking orders from you. I'm willing to sign the papers with no issues, but I'll say this once more: we will live in my house. I won't be leaving it, no matter what. It's either that or nothing at all."

Raina looks a bit taken aback, but he quickly composes himself. "Okay, you guys will live in your house," he agrees.

I take the pen from the table and cross out "villa" in the contract, replacing it with "Sabhya's house." With that done, I turn to my parents.

"After I sign this contract, I will no longer be your daughter. This marriage will settle any debts I owe you, so I don't want to hear from you again," I tell them sternly.

I sign the contract, refusing to look at anyone in the room.

Okay, distraction.

Need a distraction.

Table, contract, Pen

Pen.

This is a really pretty pen.

I want this pen.

So I raise my hand again.

Raina sighs. "Yes, Sabhya?"

"Can I keep this Pen?" I ask.

"Sure,"

I have a beautiful Pen.

"I'm not getting married," Rohit declares, his voice laced with defiance.

My heart sinks. I had almost forgotten that he was also in the room. The reality of the situation hits me once again. I'm going to marry this person, someone I don't know at all.

Raina's response is swift and firm. "Yes, you are."

Rohit stands up, ready to make a run for it but Raina interjects, "You owe me, remember?"

I can feel the tension emanating from Rohit, and I can sense his inner turmoil. He doesn't want to get married any more than I do, but he's bound by this twisted sense of duty to his family.

I can't help but feel a twinge of bitterness at the fact that we both have shitty parents who have left us with no choice but to agree to this contract marriage.

Rohit sighs and sits and picks up the pen. He signs the contract, and to my surprise, he hands his pen to me.

I didn't expect that. Now I have two pretty pens.

With a heavy heart, I step out of the conference room, the weight of the contract hanging over me like a dark cloud. My mind is reeling, trying to process the fact that I am now engaged to a complete stranger.

As I step out of the building, the sunlight hits my face, and for a moment, I feel like I can breathe again. But the feeling is short-lived as I check the time on my phone. 1:00 pm. I'm so late for work.

I rush to my office, my thoughts a jumbled mess. I can't concentrate on anything but the contract and the impending marriage.

I try to shake off the feeling of unease as I sit down at my desk, but it's no use. My mind keeps going back to the contract and the fact that I am now engaged to someone I don't know.

I can't help but wonder what my life is going to be like now. A Normal Simple day has turned into something completely different, something that I never imagined. A girl who never dated anyone in her 25 years of life is now engaged to a stranger.

As I stare at my computer screen, I can't help but feel lost and overwhelmed. This is not how I imagined my life to be.

What happened today?

Rohit

''Chapter 14'. That is the last thing I wrote. The entire page is empty. The right words just won't come, no matter how hard I try. I know what I want to write, but my mind is empty. I'm thirsty, and my back aches from sitting for so long.

God, how long was I sitting there for?

As I take a sip of water, I glance at the clock and realize it's already 7:00 in the morning. Did I really spend the entire night at my desk without writing anything?

I did manage to write something, but it was so terrible that I deleted it instantly. I need to take a break, clear my mind, and get some fresh air. Yes, going out sounds like a good option. After all, it's a healthy thing to do, as people say.

Suddenly, I remember that today is the opening day of Ahan's Cafe, and he has asked me to come early to help him with the preparations. Perhaps a change of environment will do me good, and who knows, I might even

Heroes

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