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Fever In The Heart

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contract marriage
love after marriage
forced
manipulative
sensitive
dare to love and hate
abuse
tortured
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Blurb

#Trigger warning; The first part of this Book contains abuse and domestic violence. Readers discretion is advised.#

She felt as if she were floating. Her eyes were closed, and everything about her felt soft, a luxuriating fluffiness like the satin down comforter her grandma used to have. She thought she must have been sleeping. There was a not-unpleasant heaviness to her limbs, like the time she could finally sit down after standing and walking in the market for hours.

Then her brain started to focus in a peculiar sort of way, powerless over thoughts that surfaced unbidden. Abubakar suddenly came to mind...how he had gotten her this way, and how she longed to tell Maama, but couldn't. Maama. . .

As her consciousness began to return, she tried without success to open her eyes. Something tight and sticky was holding her lids together. Now she knew she was sleeping. She'd felt that strange paralysis before when wrapped in layers of her dreams, her legs turned to lead as she ran from shadowy pursuers and her eyes became inert shutters. She was scared, what frightened her most was her breathing. Her hand blindly went to her mouth, where she found the tube.

Yaa Rahman! She was in a hospital!

Her heart was thunderously racing, filling her chest with explosive fear. She blindly pulled at the tube, ripping it from her throat, gagging violently as it made her gasp and choke. But finally, finally, It was free, and she flung it far away.

Zeenatu Kabir was your average kind of girl, beautiful, loving and elegant. But what happens when everything begin to fall apart?

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1. The Engagement
The large compound of Malam Kabir was filled to maximum capacity with guests of various assortments, each moving in different directions in preparation for their first daughter's/granddaughter's baiko (engagement). It was the first wedding in the family after five years, hence the excitement and colloquy amongst the few who'd graced the event with their presence. If few could be described as just over five hundred people which included uncles, aunts, distant cousins, nephews, nieces, long-forgotten grand-uncles and grand-aunts. A few stragglers hovered around the outskirts of the festivities, admiring the tempo of it all. Deep within the large household was a room filled with ladies in their early twenties; the brides friends and cousins. They were all cheering the said bride avidly, vicariously sharing her happiness. Zeenah however was more than happy. She was ecstatic. The feeling in the pit of her stomach was unexplainable. It was like a raging thunderstorm had swelled in her from the moment she woke up, churning and gathering speed as it went along until she felt like she would throw up from it all. Her face ached from smiling, and her neck was beginning to ache from turning this way and that to return another smile thrown at her. None of this could quell the joy she felt. The D-day was finally here. The day of her engagement. The day she would finally be tagged 'Abubakar's fiancee'. And in three months time, hopefully, she would be addressed solely as 'Mrs Abubakar'. The mere thought of that caused her insides to churn even faster. It had always been a dream of hers. It had always been a fantasy, and to finally see that dream and fantasy coming true was just surreal. At the moment, nothing could surpass the need to become his; to claim him as her own, and to let the world know that he was hers. She had yearned for this for so long that sometimes it felt like that was the only thing she ever wanted in life. Nothing could possibly put a dent on this perfect day. The shrill sound of her phone ringing beside her brought her back to earths tether to the ground before she floated away. A quick glance at the Caller ID made her grin even wider. "Is that who I think it is?" Samira asked with a mischievous glint in her eyes. "Don't start with me today," Zeenah pleaded as her phone kept ringing. "Uh-huh!" Hauweey started as she rolled her eyes. "Pick up the call, Mrs Abubakar,before he catapults over here with his clothes on backward." Just as she finally managed to grab the phone, the call disconnected. "You guys are the worst friends a girl could possibly ask for," Zeenah groaned, heading for the bathroom; her only sanctuary. After glancing back to make sure no potential eavesdroppers had followed, she shut the door and dialed the number. "You know, sometimes I get scared when you don't pick my call. Feels like you're going to call off the wedding anytime soon," he answered on the first ring, his voice hot and heavy and oh-so alluring. Zeenah smiled and leaned against the sink behind her. "That won't happen anytime soon. Remember, you and I are bonded for life, Sugarplum. And in case you're forgetting, that means forever." Abubakar closed his eyes, letting Zeenah's small, soft, and sultry-like voice get buried deep beneath his heart. This woman would be the end of him. But the consolation would soon be at hand. Finally, the burden he had been struggling with will come to an end either today or tomorrow. "Zeenah," he whispered into the receiver. "Hm?" "I love you," he whispered slowly, "I love you so much that it hurts sometimes." There was a slight pause before she replied. "Say it again," she said. "Please." "I love you," he repeated, his voice firmer and more confident this time. "I love you more," came her reply. You know I do, and I'll keep telling you that till the end of time, Bi'iznillah. And I'll never get tired of hearing the same from you." He inhaled deeply and imagined Zeenah's large doe eyes staring at him and his heart lurched so hard in his chest that he had to steady himself. Zeenah was the best he could ever have; the best he could have ever hoped for in a raging sea of bad choices and broken hearts. Today, he would finally make her his. In more ways than one. "I'll come over after Isha prayers Insha-Allah. There's something we need to talk about," he said. "Is something wrong?" Zeenah asked, frowning. "How could anything be wrong on this particular day?" He laughed. "Okay," she said, relaxing for the first time that day. "Allah ya kaimu. And I just can't wait to see that handsome face of yours." 'You won't just get to see it. You're going to do much more than that, babe. Trust me.' A wide grin spread across his lips at the thought. "I can't wait too," he said instead. "Take care okay? And please wear something red, sweetie." "Sure. Take care," she said. "I love you." "I love you more." And the call ended, with a goofy smile on both faces. Love is truly beautiful. Or so they thought. * Three hours later . . . "God! Look at all those things!" Samira exclaimed happily. "Just look at all those cartons and suitcases. And to think they are just for engagement ceremony." Zeenah simply smiled. Outside, the festivities had died down, and the crowd had shrunk to a quarter of its original size. The ceremony was done already. Zeenah was officially Abubakar's fiancée. A stupid smile returned to her face whenever she remembered. "I was just about to say the same thing," Hauweey chirped in. "You remember that song we planned to sing for one another when one of us would be getting married?" she asked, directing the question at Samira. "How could I possibly forget?" Samira asked, smiling evilly. As they began to sing, Zeenah had to bury her face in her hands from the sheer embarrassment. "One day will be your wedding day; Mr Habu will be your husband; Khadija will be your flower girl; And Hauweey will take you home;" They all burst into fits of laughter as they hugged each other tightly. "What would I do without you girls?" Zeenah said as she sniffed and pulled away. "Probably crawl under a rock and just die," Hauweey said. "I wish we are all getting married at the same time," Zeenah said, feeling a twinge of guilt as she voiced her thoughts. "We'll all get married when the time comes," came Samira's reply. "We'll start with you and before you know it, ours will come." "Amin." The trio said at once. "We should get going now. It's almost Magrib," Samira said, reaching for her bag. Hauweey nodded quickly, reaching for hers as well. "Thank you so much for coming," Zeenah said. "It wouldn't have been fun without you guys." "You think we'd miss this for the world?" Hauweey said as she slung her bag over her shoulder and stared at her reflection in the mirror. "You think we've spent three years being your friends just so we'll disappear on your special day?" "The real special day is yet to come," Samira said. "And we'll be there on that one as well." "Naturally," Zeenah laughed. Another round of hugs followed before Samira and Hauweey left amid promises to call in a few hours. Zeenah glanced at her golden chain watch -a gift from her fiancé- and saw that it was almost eight-thirty. Where in God's name was he? She checked the mirror one last time and adjusted the small veil she was wearing, mashed some more red lipstick on and sprayed more perfume. She began to pace the room, only to be interrupted mere seconds later by a message on her phone. 'I'm outside babe. Hope you're wearing something red.' She squealed with delight, throwing the phone aside without even bothering to reply. She quickly glanced down at her A-shaped gown which was so tight upwards and fluffy downwards. Zeenah was proud to say that she had curves in all the right places, and this gown did a nice job of accentuating them nicely. The message was clear to anyone who saw her in it: 'Here I am; just try not to love me.' Abubakar wouldn't stand a chance. She peeped into her mother's room and saw her praying. "I'll be outside with Abubakar, Maama," she said and quickly left before her Mom could reprimand her for putting on too much perfume and using a small veil. Sadeeq and Ahmad -her younger brothers- were yet to be back from mosque, so she left without going with any of them as she always did. Her parents had insisted that one of them would always chaperone whenever she went to see Abubakar, although she had found that a quick gift of 20-50 naira would send either one of them off, forgetting their sacred duties. Zeenah sashayed over to the car, swaying her hips from side to side with a wide smile on her face. She was happy and Abubakar ought to see it. She opened the front door and hopped into the car, turning immediately to face the dark-skinned guy with a full grown beard and side burns which was dyed brown. He was dressed in a sky-blue getzner and a Borno made cap, with a smirk on his face, and a twinkle in his eyes. There was only one word to describe him. "Handsome," Zeenah smirked as well. "You look amazing yourself, my lady," Abubakar replied cheekily. "And I love your perfume." "I wish I could say the same for yours," she giggled. "Ouch!" He placed a hand on his chest. "And here I was thinking that you'd love it. "Don't be ridiculous," she said. "Of course I love it. Good evening, by the way." "Good evening to you to, sweetie. How are you?" "I'm fine. Actually, I'm more than fine. I've never been this happy in my entire life. I'll now be addressed as your fiancée and not just your girlfriend. It's a nice little promotion, don't you think?" "It sure is." He laughed. "And I intend to make use of that title wholeheartedly," he said slowly as he took one of her hands in his. The spark they felt was real. This was the first time Abubakar had ever tried being intimate with her on a physical level and although she knew she shouldn't let him, the sensations his touch sent to her core were much too endearing for her to stop him. She wanted to feel loved. She wanted to know that he wanted her just as much as she wanted him. They'd been together for so long that sometimes it felt like they were already married. She knew Abubakar inside out, the same way he knew her as well. Ever since that chance encounter at a mutual friend's wedding, their lives had never been the same again. "W...wh..what are you do...doing?" Zeenah stuttered trying so hard to calm her breathing as he traced his fingers lightly along her wrist. "Zeenah," he began and right then, Zeenah knew that whatever it was he was about to say was serious. She knew him that well. "Yau anyi mana baiko koh?" Zeenah only nodded not being able to find her voice because one of his fingers was drawing small circles in her palm. The sensation was heart-warming. "And this engagement of ours is just like us getting married, is it not?" "Wha...." "Shhh.." He cut her off. "Let me finish what I'm saying okay?" She nodded, unable to do anything else. "I wouldn't have let this engagement happen if I'm really not going to marry you. I also wouldn't have wasted three years of my life courting you. All these are signs showing I'm so serious about marrying you right?" He kissed her hand. Zeenah nodded again, albeit hesitantly. "Then I see no reason why we can't act like a married couple and exercise our marital rights on each other. We're just starting early before people really witness it, but deep down, I feel like we are already married babe. What do you think?" Zeenah was so shocked that she pulled her hand away from his. "You and I both know that is wrong on so many levels. What has gotten into you?" she asked. "Wrong? How can it be wrong when it's just three months to our wedding? Am I some kind of a joke to you?" he asked angrily. "No," Zeenah began, quickly shaking her head at the sound of his temper rising. "That's not what I mean. It's just that...." "Just what? You don't trust me? You think I won't marry you after it? Is that how low you think of me? Look Zeenatu, let me make something clear to you. An riga an mana baiko; you're just like my wife already. Why then should we wait for three more months before consummating our love? We've been together for three years and you still can't trust me? Really?" "Suga...." "Get out of my car before I lose my senses. Only call me when you realize how serious this is and when you've changed your mind." "Abu...." "GET OUT!" He yelled, and Zeenah had no option but to do what she was told, stung by his reproach. It didn't make any sense. They were already engaged. Why wouldn't he just wait for three more months? He'd waited three whole years. Surely twelve more weeks would seem insignificant compared to that. As Abubakar drove off in a cloud of sand, Zeenah felt her whole world turn upside down. What should she really do? At this point, the love and affection built for three years was about to be over in three minutes.

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