Camouflage: A Romance Set in the City of Bangkok

Happy Monday Folks. Guess what. Today, I’m sharing with you a tiny excerpt from my novel Camouflage.

Setting: Thailand

Cast and Characters: Asian and American

Genre: Umm, Not sure

OK, I’m not able to decide the genre of the book as it stretches from being a romantic suspense to a psychological thriller. But, one thing I can assure you, that if you love reading romance books with lots and lots of intrigue, suspense, twists, thrills, and cliffhangers, this book is for you.

Warning #1: It’s a fast-paced romance with action happening at each paragraph. Don’t blame me if it keeps you biting your nails and at the edge of your seat all the time.

Warning #2: The book has adult content and strong language. 18+

See what reviewers are saying about Camouflage

“A great combination of love and intrigue. Highly recommended to fans of romantic suspense.” ~ Annie Arcane, author of Hartbroken Series

“I’ll just say that this unusual little novel captivated me and kept me up half the night reading.” ~ Page LaRue

“Everything about this book was a page turner.” ~ J. Saman, author of Start Again series

“Hasnain weaves a complex mystery with many layers to peel away as you go. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy a good mystery with a splash of romance to spice things up.” ~ Melissa Copeland, author of Solitary

An Excerpt from Camouflage

Camouflage, www.mariyamhasnain.comI longed for her touch, her kiss, her affection and found myself slipping into a state from which I never recovered.

My heart ached as I realized Sheina was miles away from me. I never believed in love, and now I couldn’t stop myself falling in love. For a moment, I forgot all the physical trauma and mental conflicts and savored the feel of falling for a girl whom I’d known for only a couple of months.

It was nothing more than just a physical attraction and I never acknowledged her growing affection towards me. She was always there even when I behaved rudely and ignored her.

I felt ashamed and apologetic for not treating her the way she deserved to be.

“You are my princess, darling though I’m not a prince,” I mumbled under my breath.

What’s this happening to me? Why I’m feeling so drawn to her? How can I be mentally unstable and physically frail but still feeling so healthy and energetic?

Is this what is called love? If it is I’m in love. I’m in love with Sheina. I can’t imagine my life without her. I miss you Sheina, please come back to me.

Playing my favorite song – Patience from Guns’ n Roses – Shed a tear ’cause I’m missin’ you, on my cell phone, I wallowed in that sweet pain that I’d been experiencing since she had left me alone in the tranquility of her living room.

I need to tell her how much I love her, let her come and I’ll never let her go. I’ll enclose her in my arms forever and ever till the end of this world.

I groggily walked up to the closet. An M-shaped gold pendant, secured neatly through the pins onto the red velvety floor of the jewelry box, shone brightly.

This is the only lifeless object in this entire world that I can never buy, and now I want to give it to Sheina, the woman I love the most after my mom. She is the one who deserves my mom’s keepsake.

I came back to the recliner and allowed my memories to flow freely. As I put my ear buds on, relaxing on the recliner, old reminiscences flooded my mind.

It was a usual day for me. Glaring the cursor for an hour or so, I was about to type the first sentence when the penetrating sound of the doorbell hampered the flow of creative juices.

 “Who the heck has come now?” I felt irritated but managed to walk down the stairs to get the door.

A Thai girl in her early twenties was standing on the doorstep. My anger and irritation faded away seeing the pretty face at my door. For a moment, I found myself lost in her distinct Siamese charms. She was smiling vibrantly displaying the spontaneity of her personality.

“Hi! I’m Sheina. I’ve moved next door. Sorry to bother you but my bathroom shower knob has got jammed. I’ve called the community plumber, but I think they’d take some time. I’ve to report to work in an hour and I was wondering if you could help me out?” She maintained eye contact with me.

An expression of nervousness on her cute, typically Asian face and the requesting glint in her slanting eyes compelled me to go with her.

“This way please.” She led me to her flat. There were heavy cartons of goods and packed furniture pieces lying on the tiled flooring of the tiny living room.

We made our way to the shower room. I tried to rotate the shower knob, but it didn’t move.

“Have you got a wrench?” I asked her.

“Oh…I’m afraid I don’t,” she replied.

“Fine, I’ll get mine.” I reached my flat and quickly located the wrench in the tool box.

A slight pressure on the wrench rotated the knob, and it started working. Drizzles of cold water started pouring on my T-shirt, and I stepped aside to avoid the droplets of water.

“Oh! It started working.” She smiled jubilantly.

I came out of the bathroom.

“Thank you so much, Mr…I didn’t ask your name.”

“Mark, Mark Statler,” I replied, walking in between the scattered cartons of packed goods.

“Thanks again Mark, see you in the evening.” Hearing my name in her sensuously soft and soothing voice compelled me to look back, and I gazed at her prettiness wearing a goodbye smile on my face.

After that, she started dropping in every now and again, most of the time in need of something, and I helped her readily, unaware that one day I would succumb to her Thai charms and would yearn for her just like the parched sands of the dessert yearn for rain.

We started spending quality time with each other. I cherished her company, and we struck the chord pretty well talking about our hobbies and interests, during which I got a chance to know more about her.

She had a deep passion for helping the orphans and that was the only reason she moved from SuanPhueng to Bangkok when she got an offer to work as a coordinator at the MalaiDek Orphanage located in the Phaya Thai district.

The charity organization had provided shelter, food, and education to more than thirteen-thousand kids from various districts of Thailand, most of them had lost their parents to the deadly hands of AIDS than to any other cause of death. Sheina was involved with the fund-raising event management program.

 I was pleasantly surprised to find a friend in Sheina, one who shared her passion for helping the poor and needy with me. We were not polls apart, but our characteristics and natures were almost opposite, and I believed that’s what I liked most about her.

Want to read more, download Free sample chapters of Camouflage

Happy Reading!

~MH

Second Chances in Love – My Work In Progress, A Sneak Peak

Do you like reading Second Chances in Love. If yes, my next book is for you.

I have just written the first chapter, and sharing it with you. However, it’s not a complete chapter, but a tiny excerpt.

Hope you like it. The book is yet not titled, so I’m not writing the title here.

Untitled (Work In Progress)

Self-pride washed over me as I stood in front of the Shanbagh Palace. The magnificent building boasted months of hard work and labor me and my team put in renovating the old monument, and now it was ready to host its first wedding.

I bought Shanbagh two months after returning to my hometown of Awadh from Mumbai where I studied and worked in an IT Firm. Scars of failed relationship would have broken me apart had I not known of my pregnancy.

“Momma, we’re getting late for school.” Pari’s thin voice pulled me out of my thoughts.

“Yeah, I’m coming dear.” I wiped my eyes and descended the porch stairs to reach my baby doll.

Dropping my daughter school and then coming back to Shanbagh to carry out renovation activities had been my routine for the past one year. No ifs and buts. But, that day was different because Shanbagh was going to host its first wedding after facing decades of neglect and abandonment.

If everything goes by the plan, the old harbor will regain its glory while we can have a dependable source of income.

I didn’t buy Shanbagh just to convert it into a wedding house but because of the connection, I felt with the old harbor. The strength and positivity the massive building reflected had carved an everlasting impression. I used to visit the ancient house of the Nawabs of Awadh during my childhood and teen years. One of my aunts married a Nawab, and they used to live there. They had a large family of brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nieces, and nephews.

My summers were always full of activities, playing in the green lush lawns of the palace with kids of my age, sons and daughters of my aunt’s extended family.

Years passed. The old ones died. The young ones migrated to big cities. And, the building grew old with no one to take care of the ancient memories. Memories that filled the rustic air of the Shanbagh Palace.

I walked out of my office to reach the green lawns of the building where folks were busy decorating the altar. Several white-clothed golden ribbon chairs graced the front garden, morning sun beaming over the dewy petals of bushes and shrub.

Second Chances in Love: A Sneak Peak of My Work In Progress, www.mariyamhasnain.comEverything’s so green and fresh.

Hey, what’s this? I felt the feathery sensation on my open toe ballerinas only to find a white furry cat purring next to me on the ground.

“Oh! Baby.” I picked up the cute cat and caressed her in my arms.

“Maggie.” A thick voice echoed in the fragrant morning air, and the cat jumped out of my lap and ran down the walkway.

“Hey stop! Stop there! It’s not safe.” The poor cat was going to touch the electric circuit when I grabbed her but lost my balance in saving the cat’s life. A generous splatter of water, and the next moment I was in the water pond.

“Can I help you.” A deep voice again hit my senses bringing me back to present. A strong hand stretched for me. I looked up. The owner of the hand had the same set of light brown eyes.

“How are you?” He asked as he pulled me out of the water.

“How come you are here?” My voice shook. I avoided his stare on my wet clothes clinging to the curves of my body.

“I should be asking this, shouldn’t I?” The teasing sound of his snickers brought a surge of heat. It was like my cold body had been put on fire. I hated his voice, his eyes, his smile because it reminds me of someone who broke my heart who cheated on me.

“What do you want now?”

“Well, It seems I was misinformed about the palace being renovated into a wedding house. I think I should’ve done my homework before dropping in. Anyways, gotta go now.”

“You aren’t misinformed, Mister. Shanbagh Palace is accepting clients for weddings and other family get-togethers.”

“Is it? Can I meet someone who can provide me with the details.”

“Yeah, of course, please go straight and take left. There’s a front office. You can get the details from there.”

“Thanks, Pink.” As he called me Pink, I couldn’t stop myself looking into his eyes. My heart galloped, it pounded against my chest. It felt as if someone had dug out a deep buried desire within me.

“I need to look out for my cat first. Thanks for saving her.”

“It’s okay.” My voice wobbled in my throat as I collected myself together and turned my back to him.

****End of the Excerpt

Do you think it’s hooking. Do you think you can take a chance on reading further? If yes, I would love your words of appreciations. If not, please tell me where I can improve. I’m open to changes to make the beginning more enticing to my readers.

Please leave your reply in the comment section below.

~MH

Romantic Short Stories: Love Me Baby

Hey folks! It’s Monday and guess what. Today, I’m not posting a flash but an excerpt from my sweet romantic novelette – Love Me Baby. This short story is my favorite of all the romantic short stories or love flashes I’ve written till now.

Hope you like it!

An Excerpt From Love Me Baby

I reached the studio on time. As I noticed the black gleaming sedan standing in the parking alley, my eyes gleamed with joy.

“Oh… So he’s early today,” I murmured, and a tingle of blush washed over my cheeks. I located an empty spot and squeezed my Nissan in between two giant SUVs. Stepping out of the car, I made my way to the exit. My heart thumped harder against my chest. It raced at the greatest speed.

What’s this happening? Guys tried hard to seduce me but I flipped them off. I broke up several times, but I never cried on my failed relationships. Why I’m so nervy and euphoric? I quizzed myself.

Lost in my thoughts, I didn’t realize when I reached the main entrance of the Alan’s Photography studio. I raised my head and glanced at his name.

“Alan,” I whispered his name under my breath, and his vibrantly stunning image flashed in front of my eyes.

It’s just one night, but it seems as if it’s been centuries since I last met him.

My steps took me to Alan’s cabin, and what I saw through the slanting window blinds melted my brain and shook me, soul.

Romantic Short Stories: Love Me Baby, www.mariyamhasnain.comJealousy and disappointment ran through my nerves, and a tinge of melancholy swept over my soul. I turned around and dashed out through the main exit, gasping for breath. I fell apart seeing Pixie in Alan’s arms. I left the studio and drove myself off from North Hollywood to reach my home in Downtown LA.

I pulled up in the parking zone of my commune and rushed to my flat on the fourth floor wiping at my eyes. I opened the door with my keys and straightaway headed to the sleeping room. Dropping myself on the bed, I buried my face in the pillow. Michelle laid on the adjacent bed, listening to music on her iPod. She instantly got up and wobbled my shoulder.

“Hey. What happened?” she asked.

“He loves that blond. I’m going back to Phoenix, to my mom. I need her.” I raised my head from the pillow and pushed my drooping body to a sitting position.

“How do you know he doesn’t love you? Did he tell you that?” she quizzed me again.

“I saw them hugging,” I replied, tears rolling down my cheeks.

“It could be a friendly embrace… a platonic one as he met her after a long while. She was off to the Bahamas, wasn’t she?” Michele said placing a comforting hand on my shoulder.

“I don’t know. It could be, but I can’t imagine any other woman in his arms. What if he doesn’t love me and loves that blond? I don’t want to bear the pain of unrequited unfulfilled love. I’m going away from him… so I can forget him and move on with my life.” Michelle couldn’t utter a word on my stern determination of leaving LA and going back to Phoenix.

I logged into my laptop and booked the next immediate flight to Phoenix. Packing my stuff into the giant suitcase, I was ready for my journey to my homeland. As I pictured myself hugging my mom and crying out my inner weakness and emotional turmoil on her shoulder, I felt calm and composed. The triumph of seeing my mom after so many months overshadowed the pain of heartbreak. I hugged Michelle and kissed her slippery cheeks before wishing her goodbye and came out of my apartment to hop onto my waiting taxicab.

****End of the Excerpt

Want to read the full story, download Free sample chapters of Love Me Baby

~MH

Romantic Short Stories: Locked Memories

Howdy Friends! It’s Monday and I’m here with yet another love flash from my hidden treasure of romantic short stories.

This week’s flash is about Love and Forgiveness. Hope you like it.

Title: Locked Memories

The alarm went off at four in the morning, and the doorbell rang.

I groped for my mobile phone on the bedside table and swiped the screen to switch off the alarm.

The deafening sound of the doorbell again penetrated my ears.

“Who could it be?”

I rolled over the bed, put my sleepers, and rose to my feet.

The doorbell rang again.

“Who the hell is this?” I muttered. The hall was dimly lit. A thin beam of light strained out through the cream shade of the night lamp. I staggered to my feet and made my way to the front door of the house and peeked into the eye hole.

It was dark in the porch.

“Who’s this?” I asked. My voice wobbled. I struggled to fight the sudden fear creeping around me.

No answer.

Panic pooled into my gut as I debated with my mind whether to open the door or not.

Instead of fully releasing the door, I used the door chain and peeked out. A whiff of wet soil entered my nostrils. Raindrops pattered on the tin roofing of the dimly lit porch.

Romantic Short Stories: Locked Memories, www.mariyamhasnain.comNothing was visible in the dim light that came from the street lamp except a shadow. A man stood at the entrance, a cowboy hat on his head. He wore an overcoat.

“Who’s this?” I mustered the courage to ask again though couldn’t control the shakiness of my voice.

“It’s me.” A deep husky voice broke the stillness of the rainy morning.

It sounded familiar. I perhaps heard it somewhere, some place. I didn’t know. I couldn’t recall.

Irritation drank all my fear and anxiety. My voice hardened. Angrily, I asked, “Me who? Do you have a name?”

And the shadow walked in front of me. He stood across from me, behind the safety chain.

A bright white light enveloped the darkness as he lit the torch and pointed it towards his face.

“Shawn? Is it you?” Anger, apprehension, hatred all together cluttered my brain seizing my thinking power. My tongue couldn’t form a single word. I went mute, lifeless, a frozen mess of bone and flesh.

“Can you let me in?” His words hit my ears bringing me back to my senses.

“How could you? It’s been ten years.”

“I want you, Diana. I want my life back. I’ve repented a lot on my mistake.”

He kindled the feelings I once had for him. My hand roamed over the lock disengaging the safety chain and pushing the door wider for him.

Did you like what you read? If you did, don’t forget to share.

Want to download some of my FREE romantic short stories – Click Here

~MH

Romantic Short Stories: A Smile To Remember

Another Monday, another love short from my immense pool of short romantic stories.

This week’s short story is inspired from Nicholas Sparks’ famous novel which was also adapted into a movie – A Walk To Remember. Hope you like it.

Title: A Smile To Remember

Her love was like a rose—fragrant and soft.

She was a geek. No fashion sense, no girlie stuff. I sometimes hated her lack of social skills. Even though we studied together since kindergarten, I never cared for her. She tried to talk, but I never got involved even in the small talks she started during our bus rides to school.

It was during the Spring Festival when we came close. We were preparing for the festival, and me and Zoobie were in the same team. I had to visit her house often to prepare for the skit we had to do during the spring fest.

Together, we practiced for the drama. She always wore a green-colored cardigan, to school, at home, and  wherever she went. I and my friends often ridiculed her dressing sense.

As days gone by, I realized I was spending my time more on things that didn’t make any sense. Like making fun of nerdy students whenever they walked past us, doing crazy stuff like betting who could ride the bike with hands up, all kinds of adventure stuff you know.

As I slowly got along with Zoobie, I found out she was the one I always wanted to be with. Calm and composed. She had a positive outlook towards everything.
According to her, everything was possible. Be it getting good grades in
the exams or getting selected in a medical school.

We hung out together, and; I fell in love with her. I still remember the way she blushed when I expressed my love to her. Her  cheeks flushed red with the most vibrant color of pink when she said she loved me too.

We finished school, and I went abroad to study Medicine, leaving Zoobie alone. I never wanted to leave her but couldn’t  gather the courage to say no to my dad—who had Hitler’s genes in his DNA. Just kidding 🙂

I and Zoobie exchanged letters for one year, and  then her letters stopped coming. I called her, and she told me she wanted to go with the wind. She wanted to be free. Free from a long-distanced relationship. Free from me. She wanted to call it quits.

I couldn’t bear the pain of heartbreak and failed my final semester exams. As a result, my Dad summoned me an ultimatum that if I ever wanted to return home, I should have my medical degree with me. I pictured my mom’s helplessness, her dewy eyes when she wished me a goodbye on the airport. I devoted myself to studies.

Though I lost all charms of life after Zoobie dumped me, I loved my mother. I completed the program and returned home after five years with a degree. A piece of paper my father could show to his filthily rich friends.

***

Romantic Short Stories: A Smile To Remember, www.mariyamhasnain.comAs soon as I reached my town, old reminiscences flooded my mind.
Everything reminded me of her. The narrow trails, the vast fields, the
rain, the rainbow sneaking behind the sun.

I reached home. My mom was happy and so was I, but at some corner of my heart, I missed Zoobie.  I missed her fragrant smile, her touch, her lips. I just missed everything about her.

“How’s Zoobie Mom. Is she still here? I mean, has she married.” I stammered as I acted casual on the dinner table.

I saw tears forming in my mom’s eyes. My dad left the table, his food untouched. I couldn’t understand.

“What’s wrong with you guys? Is everything fine.” Apprehension, panic, anxiousness cluttered my brain.

I looked at my mom.

“What’s the matter, mom?”

“She left us.”

“Left us?”

“I’m sorry. We couldn’t tell you about this.”

“About what?”I ran out of my plush residence and sprinted in the direction of Zoobie’s house.

Her house looked the same as before, but there was an emptiness in the
surrounding. The vibrancy, the warmth I used to feel when I visited her house before was missing.

I knocked the door and impatiently waited for the response.

Her father opened the door.

“Oh, Mr. Ahmari. How can I help you?”

“Is Zoobie home?” I asked.

The same expression of grief on his face, but the dew of Mr. Shersi’s eyes was even more prominent than what I saw in my mom’s eyes. He left the door open, turned his back to me, and trudged inside the house.

I entered the house. My eyes darted around. I wanted to see her. See her
smiling at me. The smile that used to be my strength, smile I missed the
most during my stay in London.

“I’m really sorry Sir, but I really want to meet her. Is she there?” I impatiently requested him.

“I understand, but this isn’t her home any longer.”

“Oh. She’s got married. Can I get her number or address? I want to congratulate her. It’s quite a time.”

“Yeah, quite a time. Four years since she left us for her heavenly abode.”

“What?” Someone sucked all blood out of me. “How? I mean what happened to her?”

“She  died of cancer, a peculiar type that didn’t cause any symptoms only mild fevers on and off. I got to know about the disease when the blood investigations came positive for leukemia.”

My feet froze to the ground. Within a fraction of a second, my whole body wilted. I couldn’t stand and drop down on the foray chair.

“That’s why she broke my heart. Oh, God. I couldn’t understand her love.”

****

Did you like what your read? If you did, don’t forget to share.

Want to download some free romantic short stories – Click Here.

~MH