Arnav Singh Raizada didn’t get much sleep that night. He tossed and turned in bed, thinking, thinking hard about what he knew so far. Finally, unable to just lie there, he pulled out his laptop and started going through the two reports he had - on KKG and SMJ. He was searching for something he might have missed out on.
Shyam was out on bail. Had been out for the past four years, and now he was missing.
This Rani Sahiba character had never been found. According to the police reports they could not connect Shyam to a woman - especially one who seemed to be on intimate terms with him. How was it possible? He was going to have to make some calls in the morning, before he picked up Khushi.
He’d already told Nani about her coming to spend some time with them. Nani had been thrilled! He knew what she was thinking - about him and Khushi. He wasn’t unaware of the hints she kept throwing at him. And Di was coming today as well. He groaned. Between her and Nani, he didn’t know how he was going to deal with the more immediate problem of Khushi’s safety.
He was reading through the Shyam Manohar Jha file, when it struck him. The file only went back six years. Six years? Why only six? This man must be what - 29/30 years old - from what Khushi had told him. So where was he before those six years? He ran an import/export business. That should be easy to find out. He had more than enough connections in the world of business to dig through there. But what was he before those six years? more importantly, who was he?
Perhaps the link to Rani Sahiba lay further back than those six years.
Suddenly tired, he shut down his laptop. He had a course of action. He knew what he needed to do.
The next morning, he woke up early as usual and went for his jog. Coming through the hallway, he saw his grandmother preparing for the morning pooja with their trusted servant, Hari. She saw him coming in and called, ‘Chotey!’
‘Yes, Nani,’ he detoured towards the temple.
‘Bring Khushi over early, if you can. We can have breakfast together.’
‘Nani, I told her I’d pick her up at ten. I have some work that I need to finish before that.’
She nodded. ‘Okay, then. What time do her parents arrive?’
‘Late at night. I think the flight gets in around one in the morning. I’ve arranged cars for the hotel to pick them up.’
She touched his face lightly. So young, and yet so able to juggle all his responsibilities so well! She noticed the slightly puffy look around his eyes. Probably hadn’t slept well last night - or not at all. Sometimes, she would wake up in the early hours of the morning and notice the lights still on in his room. Last night must have been one of them!
Much as she hated that tough exterior of his, she hoped he would one day settle down with a wife and give her the great-grandchildren that she longed for. True, Anjali was expecting, but a grandson’s child is something else altogether! It was time for him to have some fun and laughter in his life. He needed it. He needed light in his life. She prayed that he would find it soon. She had noticed the lightening of his expression when he mentioned Khushi, and though she was not optimistic it would lead anywhere, she had hope. Well, she would get more chances to see them together this weekend, and she was going to keep a close eye on them. Besides, she didn’t know what was in Khushi’s mind and heart, yet. This would be a good opportunity to find out!
She smiled and stroked his hair. ‘Go finish your work and pick up Khushi.’
He nodded and went off towards his room.
He spent the morning calling up his associates in the export/import business. None of them had ever heard of a Shyam Manohar Jha. Strange! Or maybe not! Perhaps they didn’t move in the same circles.
Soon he had to leave to pick up Khushi. The thought brought a smile to his face. The imp scowled.
What? he said
No ‘us’ time, dude, said the imp, sadly.
You get to share her with everyone, the imp went on.
He shook the imp and dropped him. Time to pick up Khushi.
She was ready and waiting when he finally showed up. Today she was in a powder blue salwaar-kameez. Her hair was tied back in a ponytail and the faintest of pink gloss outlined her lips.
His lips automatically curled into a smile as he stepped into the suite. All the apprehensions surrounding her faded away. ‘All packed?’ he asked.
‘Yes’, she turned away to pick up her bag.
‘Khushi’, his low, husky voice stopped her, as he caught her forearm. Slowly he pulled her close, her arm behind her back as he pulled her in even closer. Her eyes were wide, questioning. He bent his head, his lips hovering over hers, his breath feathering on them. Her heart was thundering as she waited, anticipated. He only smiled a little bit, his eyes crinkling up at the edges. She felt herself being drawn into those eyes, the flame in them unmistakable. She shut her eyes, and kissed him. She heard the sharp intake of his breath as he opened his lips to hers, allowing her to lead them both. Her arms curled up around his neck, his wrapped tightly around her, fully enveloping her. Their tongues danced across each others. He drew a deep breath, shuddered and drew back. She rested her forehead against the open collar of his shirt.
Open collar? She looked up, startled. His tie was loose, and the top buttons of his shirt were unbuttoned. Her mouth opened in an ‘O’. He nodded - yes, you did - stepped back. Button me, he seemed to say. Her hands went to his shirt, closing the buttons. She fixed and straightened his tie and raised her eyes to his. The smile was still there. His hands came up to her hair, the bangs had come forward, he gently tucked them back in, his eyes roaming her face as if he couldn’t get enough of it.
‘We should go,’ the huskiness in his voice deeper with desire. ‘Nani expects you to be there for lunch.’
She gave a shaky smile, her eyes anywhere but on him. Suddenly she was feeling ridiculously shy of him. He sighed and let her go to get her bag. There was a knock on the door, he opened it to admit the bellhop. He gave instructions and then led the way out of the suite.
Downstairs, they made their way out to where his car was parked. The doorman held open the door for Khushi, as he went around to the driver’s side. Neither noticed the tall lady smoking in the designated area. In jeans and a white t-shirt, Rani Sahiba had large dark glasses hiding her eyes. She swallowed as she watched Khushi get into the SUV with Arnav, her lips compressing. Her phone rang, she turned her back on the car as she answered it. She did not see the bell hop following them and load up the SUV with Khushi’s bags.
She did see the SUV pull away with ASR at the wheel. Her eyes narrowed. She already knew that there was some connection between the two. The trade magazines had reports about the Raizada-Madrid joint venture. Khushi was obviously involved with it. But what was her relationship with Raizada? They seemed to spend an awful lot of time together, so it must be the deal.
She wouldn’t have been so happy if she’d seen that little scene up in the suite. But then Arnav Singh Raizada was a notoriously private person. It would be very, very hard to find out what the heck was going on with those two. But Rani Sahiba intended to. Oh yes, she did!