In a small hotel room in Delhi, Shyam Manohar Jha sat brooding. The room was almost dark, the only illumination coming from the lights outside the window. They threw his face in the shadows more than light. The narrow chin, large heavy-lidded eyes, and thick lascivious lips shadowed by the goatee he wore. He fingered the chain around his neck as he sat thinking.
The picture in the newspapers had surprised him. He hadn’t even been looking at anything in particular when something about that photo caught his eye. She was here, in India, again. Khushi Kumari Gupta. The bane of his life. He has spent six months in jail because of that stupid chit of a girl, and now she was back!
But what was she doing here? The picture had not said much. There were two men in the picture, one a foreigner and one was Arnav Singh Raizada. She was a little behind them looking away, and she didn’t seem to be with them. The thought of her being in the same city as him made his face twitch.
There seemed to be no way to find out where she was, but he had. She was staying at the Raizada hotel. So she WAS with Arnav Singh Raizada after all. His whore, probably. ASR was known to have dozens of women throwing themselves at him. She must be one of them too. So much for the Miss Goody-two-shoes innocent act that she put on so effectively.
He hated her, hated her with every cell of his being. She had cost him six months of his life. Well now, she would pay for it. Pay for it in ways she couldn’t imagine.
The ringing of his cell startled him. He picked it up.
Rani Sahiba was calling.
Khushi hiccupped and drank some more water. He sat there with her hands in his listening to the horrific story, but his face was impassive. She didn’t hold anything back. He was furious, but one look at her wan face and he knew it was not time for anger. There would be time for that. For now, he had to find a way to protect her. The threat was very real.
‘Do your parents know the whole story?’
She shook her head. ‘I couldn’t tell them. I don’t know why I told you.’
‘Look at me, Khushi.’ She raised her eyes. ‘You’re my responsibility while you’re here. I won’t let anything happen to you.’
The fear came back into her eyes. ‘You can’t be with me all the time.’
‘I know.’ A small smile tilted the corner of his mouth. ‘But …you have to trust me.’ She nodded like a little child. ‘Go wash your face,’ he said.
While he waited for her to get ready, he ran through all that she had told him and all the options in his mind. She had to be safe, not just for this trip but for her entire life. She needed to be free of this fear, free of looking over her shoulder at every step. She had to feel safe again. He looked out into the darkness that lay over Delhi. Somewhere out there was Shyam Manohar Jha. And he had to get to him.