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Authors: Clarissa Cartharn

Captive- Veiled Desires

BOOK: Captive- Veiled Desires
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Captive- Veiled Desires


Clarissa Cartharn


Copyright © Text Clarissa Cartharn 2015

Copyright © Cover design Cyma Rizwaan Khan 2015

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


Clarissa Cartharn

Nora Jennings quits her job as a photographer for a small community newspaper to fulfill her dreams of traveling. First stop- Kashmir, the land renowned as heaven on Earth. 
But dreams have a terrible habit of turning into a nightmare. And suddenly she finds herself bound and gagged in Afghanistan, ready to be wedded to Pashtun warlord, Adam Afridi.











Freedom- you don’t know what that means until it is taken away from you.

Nora Jennings breathed in the cool, Kashmiri air. She had long wanted to visit the little state in India. She couldn’t remember what attracted her to it first. Perhaps, it was the green hills of Sonmarg, or the wintery alpines of Gulmarg. But when she received her first opportunity to travel, of all places she chose Kashmir.

Her best friend, Amy had called her stupid. “Do you know the place is in conflict?” she had said. “They kidnap western tourists and sever their heads as well.”

“That was in 1995, Amy. It’s been almost twenty years since.”

“It still is dangerous, Nora,” she said, shaking her head. “There is so much of the world for you to see. Paris, London, Madrid, Venice. Why not one of these?”

“Because we know so much about those places, it’s like I’ve visited them already. But Kashmir… Kashmir is unknown. It’s different.”

“You’ve lost your mind, Nora. You really have.”

But Amy being Amy, didn’t stop to try and change her mind until she had purchased her ticket. And for that reason, Nora had bought it quicker than she would ordinarily have. As expected, Amy stopped urging her to not go. However, her opinions on Nora’s supposed erroneous decision lasted until she boarded the flight.




The cool breeze ruffled her hair as she sat back in a floating
, watching other colorful canoes pass by silently on the peaceful waters of Dal Lake in Srinagar. Houseboats swamped the lake, operating as houses and stores. This was the Venice of sub-continent India.

She smiled at the children on the narrow piers that linked one houseboat to another. Some waved at her, while others smiled shyly. She smiled back, readying her brand new Canon point and shoot camera. The price had cut her back on her savings drastically but it was well-worth the investment. Photography was the major reason she had chosen to come to Kashmir. The scenic views, the historic elements- they were a delight for any person with a passion for the stilled arts.

Her job as a photographer for a small community newspaper like the
Chicago Herald
hadn’t paid much, but she had loved it. However, there came a point in time in life when you assess your dreams and you realize you hadn’t even lived half of them. She was twenty-eight, graduated with a photography major and working the same job for the last seven years. It was a life she never had envisioned for herself. This was not how it was supposed to have turned out.

In her little chart of life goals she had drawn out at eighteen years old, she had pinned a gold tack on twenty-two, along with a detailed plan on journeying through Europe. But somewhere along the years, the chart fell off her board and flew under her bed, where it remained buried in dust until she spring-cleaned two months ago. When had time slipped by and taken over her life? For all she knew, she’d be hit by a bus in the busy streets of Chicago and she would never live those goals. Three days later after discovering her lost chart of life’s visions, she had handed in her resignation, ready to take over the world.

She aimed her camera at the children and they shouted with glee. She laughed and silently prayed at the same time that they wouldn’t fall into the water. She’d hate to cause any harm to them at her expense.

The sounds of the clicks of her camera entwined with the luscious sweeps of the canoe by the boatman, making her feel alive and adventurous. This was what she wanted to live to do for the rest of her life.

As the boat veered towards the sunset, she saw the man stand at the end of a platform, his hands on his hips, his eyes peering seriously onto the lilies that bobbed on the surface of the water. His clothes were damp and clung deliciously onto his body. She suspected from his native attire that he was a Kashmiri local. But there was something else that distinctly caught her eye. Perhaps, it was his tall height and well-defined muscles that were transparently obvious through the thin, damp material of his long loose tunic. However the case, she didn’t want to dwell too much on the fact on why he intrigued her. His profile was beautifully mingled with the sunset in the horizon and she couldn’t afford losing the opportunity to take his picture.

She aimed her camera at him, taking a quick couple of shots before he turned and frowned at her. She immediately set her camera down. He didn’t like it, she thought as she bit her lower lip. His eyes narrowed, focusing on her intently and she lowered her own. She looked away, sneaking a small smile. Regardless of how he may have felt about it, she had found her heroic shot. She could sell it online. It was bound to be worth something.

She let her dark tresses loose over her shoulders, watching the birds skim over the lake. This was her last day in Srinagar. Tomorrow, she was traveling to Kupwara, the crown of Kashmir. She had spent a week in Kashmir and it had been nothing but heavenly. Amy couldn’t have been more wrong.







She made certain she had packed everything, double-checking to and fro from the bathroom to the bedroom. Her eyes fell on her camera and she recalled the man on the pier.

She suddenly had an urge to admire him again and took her camera out of its case. She settled herself on her bed, pulling her laptop eagerly towards her. Hooking her camera to her notebook, she retrieved the file and enlarged the picture onto full screen.

The golden ball of the sun sat behind him while the ripples of the water were distinct and well-defined. She couldn’t tell exactly how he looked because of the dark silhouette caused from the angle in which she had shot him. But even in the shadow of the sun-set, his body was beautiful to look at.

She perked her lips as she studied him, trying to remember what set him apart from the men around him. He was well-formed, she supposed. Although not heavily set, he was still defined in his arms and shoulders. He must come from an affluent family because he apparently exercised to retain such a handsome physique. Most of the Kashmiri local men she had met were extremely lean, bordering to thinness if not the plumper side which marked age and maturity. They did not either have the means or the interest to entertain such luxury as exercising. People here had greater needs, such as that to live and survive.

She turned the picture to a side to get a better view of it in the light. He most definitely was an anomaly and that meant she could possibly get an attractive sum for her photograph. She would have to look at potential travel or historical web sites which might be interested in making her an offer. If not, there were always online photography sites which might give her an adequate royalty.

She uploaded the picture onto her online database. Although her camera had gracious memory storage, she always took extra caution in safe-keeping her treasured photographs. Cameras could be broken or stolen. And she’d rather have that than lose all her pictures, which she was relying on to meet her expenses on the trip.







She gathered her bags and headed towards the bus-stop. She didn’t trust traveling alone in a cab. Although she dressed modestly in jeans and a long sleeve shirt; she still wrapped a Pashmina shawl around her shoulders for extra measure, and yet she didn’t think it was enough to keep her safe. There was always more safety in numbers and she knew she would get that in a busload of women and crying babies.

The manager of the houseboat she had rented told her that the earliest bus would arrive at seven o’clock in the morning. And she was eager to get to Kupwara as soon as possible. She hadn’t traveled all the way to Kashmir to sleep in.

There were already a few people waiting at the stop. She checked her watch. She was early. There was still half an hour more yet for the bus to arrive. 

She sat alongside an old woman who dug nimbly into a corncob. It was probably her breakfast. It triggered a hunger induced rumbling in her own belly. She had chosen not to eat while traveling because not only did it make her sick, she was also trying to avoid using the public rest rooms. In spite of Kashmir’s natural beauty, the locals had still yet to learn to keep their public conveniences clean and sanitary. It was only a two hour trip Google Maps told her; stretched to a possible three for public transport. She could hold back her hunger for at least four hours until she reached her hotel in Kupwara.

Shuffling the dirt under her feet impatiently, she hoped the bus wouldn’t take too long in arriving. A car pulled over the side and a man hopped out, walking directly to her. She looked up at him curiously. He was the typical local dressed in a
churidhar pyjama
and the famous Kashmiri skull-cap decked the top of his head. He mumbled something fast in Kashmiri to her and she smiled, shaking her head. Obviously, he was directing her to the car parked alongside the bus-stop.

“No, no,” she repeated. Despite his impressible polite manners, there was no way she was going to step inside a car full of strangers.

He insisted though, not willing to give up on his offer. He stretched on the word ‘taxi’ a few times, alerting her. She looked over at the car but saw no sign that indicated that it was a licensed cab.

“Mê chunė käshur tagān,”
she said. It was one of the few Kashmiri phrases she had mastered over her week there. “I can’t speak Kashmiri.”

The man slowed down. “You want go taxi. We go Kupwara. Fast. Bus slow.”

She shook her head again. “

Na, na.

The man frowned,
thinking briefly. “No problem.” He tried again. “Safe, safe.
, women go.” He pointed at the vehicle again. He called out to the passengers in the car and two women dressed in traditional
, scrambled out of the car.

They were the typical Muslim women of Kashmir; docile and shy with colorful head-coverings. It would be like riding on a bus. How dangerous could it be traveling with a couple of women in the backseat? The women outnumbered the men in such case. She would be fine, she gulped nervously.

She looked back at the still empty road, hoping the bus might turn the corner and change her mind. She weighed the pros against the cons and its positivity outshone greatly.

BOOK: Captive- Veiled Desires
5.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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