#Chapter9 – by Nabeela Noorani
He stood at the opened doors of his balcony, overlooking the grandeur of the palace estate. His arm was resting on the door frame, while his head leaned into his arm. He was still in shock.
He finally knew why she wouldn’t show herself to him in totality. She was a hideous creature, disfigured and deformed. His noble eyes should never have been made to see Salena, the real, complete Salena.
And yet he had done so much more than just seen her. He had touched her, kissed her, and loved her in a way neither one had ever loved or been loved before.
Salena sat up on the bed in tears. What she feared most, an unfavourable reaction from her King, had sprung forth like a terrible nightmare. And even though she knew it was a foolish thing to hold on to, she clung firmly on to a tiny glimmer of hope that he would accept her with her atrocious flaw. She knew that what she felt during that night, the love, the passion, the fulfillment not only of physical desires but the completion of her soul, was not a one-sided affair. He experienced it too, for she could feel it in his kiss.
“Sultan,” she whispered nervously, “please say something.”
She watched him breathe in and out sharply. His torso rose and fell much too haphazardly. He was livid.
“Salena,” he rasped, “you betrayed me. You had me believe one thing, when in fact, what I see is far from the truth!”
“I would never betray you my King. I didn’t lie to you. But I could not show myself to you. And your reaction right now is exactly why I couldn’t.”
“Concealing the truth from your king is betrayal! I could have you hanged for it!”
She broke out into another shower of tears as she clutched the bed sheets to her nude frame. She suddenly felt so ashamed of her vulnerability. She should have known that women of her status in their society could never get the happily ever after. Perhaps years ago, before her dead husband had claimed her beauty in an act of brutal violence, but not anymore. Not when she had been turned from a thing of absolute beauty into a thing of repulsion and disgust.
He turned around to face her, and when she looked into his gorgeous hazel eyes, the Sultan she had always known him to be, had returned. He was no longer the man she had spent the night with. He was no longer the man who had shown her what love was. He was the coldblooded tyrant once again, and the fear tracing every inch of her flesh petrified her.
“God, I can’t even look at you,” he spat, turning his face away from her.
She wiped her painful tears from her damp face and cleared her throat.
“Would you please allow me to kiss my children goodbye before you execute me, my King?”
The word execute rung loudly in his hears like a trumpet attacking his eardrums. Execute her? Salena?
Executions were the order of the day for him. He took no pleasure in it, but it didn’t exactly bother him either. But could he execute Salena?
His head was saying yes, but his heart was saying no. And his conflicting thoughts burned holes through his brain. Despite seeing her hideous face, despite knowing her betrayal, he still couldn’t hate her. But he refused to acknowledge that he loved her. How could he? How could he love a disfigured woman when he had every beauty from across his lands to choose from? No, he was the Sultan, and as such he would demand only perfection.
“Leave Salena. Just go. Leave my palace and never present yourself before me again. This was a mistake. You are no longer needed. You are free to go.”
“But nothing! I don’t want to hear anything from you, I don’t want to see you ever again, do you hear me? You can never be a part of my world. Now please, take your leave and go.”
He left his chambers hastily, his heavy footsteps cracking on the floor. Salena was dying inside. Rezauddin had awakened all her senses that night and brought all her passion to life. Was this her punishment? To make her fall in love with him, only to break her heart?
She cried into her hands and sobbed into her palms, trying to silence the painful sounds of her weeping. It felt as though her heart had been ripped right out of her chest, thrown to the ground, and trampled upon while she watched on in pain. And all which remained in the hollow of her chest, was an icebox where her heart used to be, freezing over all the warm blood throughout. It was cold, so cold in the dark oblivion Rezauddin just banished her to. It was a place only the broken hearted resided.
She tried to choke back the rest of her tears as she gathered herself and left the King’s bed, and his life, for good.
She was a freed slave. She should be happy, she told herself.
Rezauddin watched from the terrace overlooking his courtyard as Salena departed from his palace, anklets still chiming, and her face still veiled. With every step she took towards the entrance gate, a fist surrounding his heart squeezed tighter and tighter, causing him pain.
He finally knew what is was to be powerless. He was helpless in the clutches of love. But it was a love which could never be, for Salena couldn’t exist in his world, nor would she ever belong.
He would forget her and move on. He would find himself a perfect queen eventually, he tried to reason with himself. Perhaps it was just the new desire to settle, which he had tasted with Salena. He would find it with someone deserving. Someone who wasn’t Salena.
But his heart only wanted her. His heart, a reborn piece of flesh at her hands, beat only for Salena…