Sunday, September 23, 2012

SS - And Justice is Served

Detectives Nolan and White could see Detectives Terry and Ryder from the SVU waiting for them at the entrance as they drew up to the hospital.

‘Why do we all have to be here?’ asked Terry, shaking hands with the detectives from the Major Crimes unit.

‘It’s the Raizada family, that’s why,’ said White. ‘Big businessman, owner of AR Group of Companies. Self-made. Harvard Grad. It’s his sister who had the miscarriage. That’s why you guys are here.’

‘Let’s go find the doctor,’ said Terry, leading the way. ‘Why would we be called for a miscarriage?’

Dr. Prakash was in his room waiting for them. They settled down, White sat in the sole available chair in the room, while the men stood leaning against the walls. ‘Mrs. Jha was brought in about 8 p.m. by family members, apparently having fallen down the stairs in the hall. She was in her seventh month of pregnancy. She suffered a lot of bleeding and we had to make a quick decision on whose life to save. The mother’s okay, but we couldn’t save the baby.’

‘Sounds like an open-and-shut case to me, doc,’ said Ryder. ‘Why bring us in?’

‘She didn’t just fall down the stairs, Detective. There were cut marks on her feet. Mrs. Jha suffered from polio as a child. She cannot walk without braces. Evidently, not only has she been walking bare feet, she has been walking on glass pieces; we found a piece stuck between her toes. There was a burn mark on her left toe as well’, he marked an ‘x’ on a diagram of the human anatomy as he spoke. ‘We couldn’t figure it out till we found the other one. It was hidden under the henna she had on her hands. She’s also been electrocuted – a minor jolt, but one, nevertheless.’

‘Someone tried to kill Mrs. Jha,’ Nolan came up with the obvious connection.

‘Or someone wanted the baby dead,’ said Ryder.

‘Or both,’ concluded Terry.

‘Is any of the family here?’ asked White.

‘Well, the brother is here; as is her grandmother and I think the brother’s fiancée,‘ said the doctor. ‘He wants her discharged as soon as possible so he can take her home.’

‘So where’s the husband?’ said White as they all stepped outside.

The doctor led them to the patient’s room. Through the glass portholes they saw that only the patient and her grandmother were there. Detective White stepped in, followed by Terry. The patient lay with her eyes closed, apparently oblivious to the new entrants. The grandmother seemed like an imposing figure and she looked questioningly at the doctor.

‘Who are these people and why are they here?’ she asked.

‘Detectives, ma’am,’ said White. She held out her badge as did Terry. ‘We need to ask your granddaughter a few questions.’

The grandma held up a hand and gave both of them a disdainful look. ‘Can’t you see she’s resting?’

‘Yes ma’am. But it’s important that we talk to her as soon as possible,’ said Terry. If looks could kill, Terry would have been six feet under, but he’d seen worse and heard worse. She didn’t bother him.

‘We’ll let you know when you can talk to her,’ said Grandma.

‘No ma’am. Perhaps you didn’t understand what I said. We need to talk to her as soon as she wakes up. Detective White and I will be waiting right outside this door.’

He could see the smoke coming out of her nostrils as he opened the door for White. ‘Something’s weird with the old woman,’ he muttered under his breath to her. She nodded.

Ryder and Nolan in the meantime, had found the brother and the fiancée. They were a striking couple. He was tall, dark and handsome. She was tall, fair and slim to the point of thinness, although her dress revealed her smooth curves. Her fingers were curled around his brocade clad arm, the diamonds on her left hand glittering in the dim lights of the prayer room. Both seemed dressed in ceremonial clothes. Nolan quickly saw the real grief and anger in the brother’s eyes, while the wide-eyed gaze of the fiancée held a deep sorrow. These two were really grieving the loss of the baby.

They introduced themselves to the couple. Nolan noticed the protective arm he kept around his fiancée.

‘Can you tell us what happened, Mr. Raizada?’ Nolan asked.

‘Ms..?’ Ryder held out his hand to the fiancée.

‘Singh Raizada. Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada,’ she said, putting her small hand in his.

The detectives looked at each other. ‘Are you related to him?’ asked Ryder, gesturing to the brother.

‘She’s my wife,’ he said, ‘My name is Arnav Singh Raizada,’ he held out a hand. ‘Khushi is my wife.’

‘The doctor said she’s your fiancée?’ Ryder looked from one to the other. He saw the look they exchanged. This was a couple deeply in love, it was evident. He also noticed the slightly bruised look of Mr. Raizada’s knuckles.

‘Well, we had an unconventional marriage,’ Mr. Raizada explained. ‘The family wanted a traditional wedding, and today was the henna ceremony. So that’s why they thought she’s my fiancée.’

‘Ms. Raizada, would you mind coming with me?’ Ryder put on his best charming voice. She looked at her husband/fiancé.

Arnav nodded slightly. ‘Go with him, Khushi. It’s okay.’ She nodded and allowed herself to be led away.

Two hours later the detectives congregated at PS-1. They sat around a conference table putting all the information they had together, munching on a late snack of sandwiches and coffee. Captain Donald sat at the head of the table.

‘What do you have?’

‘The Raizadas were having a baby shower for the sister, Mrs. Jha, as well as the henna ceremony for the brother, Mr. Raizada,’ stated Ryder. ‘Evidently, during the henna ceremony, the lights went out for a couple of minutes. Then the sister for some reason went upstairs. The fiancée, Khushi, saw her go, but didn’t stop her. The next thing they know, she’s falling down the stairs.’

‘Where was the husband, Mr. Jha, in all of this?’ asked Donald.

‘That is something the family wasn’t too keen to talk about,’ said Nolan. ‘I’m wondering why she went upstairs, bare feet, when she couldn’t even walk without braces. What could have been so important?’

‘The husband is one Shyam Manohar Jha. Last known residence was the Raizada Mansion,’ added White, who was looking up his records.

‘Hm. Find out where this husband is, and why he was absent from the hospital when his wife is seven months pregnant. White, Terry, what did you get from the wife?’

‘Not much,’ said Terry. He took a bite of his sandwich and said, ‘She seems to be out of it. Kept asking for her husband. She didn’t seem to grieve the baby much. ‘

White looked up from her notes and added, ’the grandmother. There’s something strange about the woman. She looked at Khushi like she hated her. She also looked at me like I was dirt.’ The men looked at her questioningly. ‘It’s something I felt as soon as I walked in. She looked from me to Terry like we were nasty and then she gave the same look to the fiancée when she came in.’

‘Do we need to get Mak in for some help with Mrs. Jha?’ asked Donald.

‘Not yet,’ said Nolan. ‘There’s something odd about this family. I’d like to have a go at them.’

‘Do them tonight,’ said Donald. ‘What about CSU?’ (Crime Scene Unit).

‘We sent over a team to the house already. Waiting on them to get back.’

‘White, Terry – I’d like you both to work on the husband angle. Ryder, Nolan – get yourselves over to the Raizada Mansion tonight and start asking some questions.’

‘The fiancée/wife doesn’t stay at Raizada Mansion,’ said Ryder. ‘She’s staying with her parents as of now. Got an address in Queens.’

‘A Queen’s girl marrying into a Long Island mansion?’ Donald raised his eyebrows at that.

‘Who owns the AR Group of companies, no less,’ added White.

‘An ‘unconventional’ marriage, he said,’ added Ryder. The others looked at him. ‘Those two are in love, no doubt about it. You can see that a mile away. Evidently, they’d gotten married earlier, but the family wants a conventional marriage with all the rituals. So, hence, therefore, the henna ceremony, etc. ‘ He waved his hands around as he spoke, not having fully understood the nuances of a traditional North Indian wedding.

****

Detective Brown waited outside Raizada Mansion for Nolan and Ryder to show up along with Sgt. Indu Puri. Donald had called them to join in the questioning. Evidently there were a lot of women in the household, so a woman might be needed during this. They also needed someone who spoke Hindi – just in case; hence Sgt. Puri was assisting them today. She looked up at the imposing mansion, the long driveway and then bent her head to read the notes White had forwarded to her PDA.

Arnav Singh Raizada, 28, Harvard Grad, self-made millionaire by 26, CEO of AR Group of Companies. Married to Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, 20, formerly an employee at AR Group. That explained the Queens/Long Island connection. According to Arnav, theirs was an ‘unconventional’ marriage. The marriage was registered on 14th Feb, 2012 at Queens Courthouse. So it was legal, but why did they need a traditional marriage after 6 months?

‘Probably because the family didn’t approve of the way the marriage took place,’ Indu said. ‘Indian families like their social wedding, so a legal wedding with no one present would be considered unconventional.’

Brown raised her eyebrows and read on.

Akash Singh Raizada, 26, Harvard Grad, works for AR Group of Companies. Married to one Payal Gupta Singh Raizada. Sisters? Thought Brown. Interesting!

She went through the list and stopped. White had said there were two grandmothers in the family, and a brother-in-law. There was little information on the brother-in-law, Shyam Manohar Jha.

Her discussion with Indu came to a halt as Ryder and Nolan drew up next to their car.

‘Follow me‘, Brown said, rolling down her window. Nolan, who was driving, nodded. The CSU truck was just headed down the driveway, as they drew up to the portals.

‘Nice digs,’ said Ryder, looking appreciatively at the large oak doors. They rang the bell and waited. The door was opened by someone that was obviously a servant. They flashed their badges and he waved them in.

Arnav and Akash Singh Raizada greeted them in the imposing hallway. ‘Detectives, how can we help you?’ Arnav said, shaking hands with each of them. Even in casual clothes, he cut an imposing figure. Nolan noticed the lack of an accent in his English – it was almost pure American – almost, but not quite.

‘We’d like to talk to everybody in your residence, Mr. Raizada. We did speak to you at the hospital, but we need to speak to the other members, too.’

He looked at them searchingly for a moment and said, ‘You know how much this has distressed my sister and our whole family. Besides, it’s quite late, can’t it wait till tomorrow?’

‘I’m afraid not, Mr. Raizada. The sooner we speak to everybody, the faster we can figure out what happened,’ from Brown.

‘Follow me,’ he said, leading them to the study, a large room, lined with books, a large screen TV and a six-seat conference table. A laptop was on the table, while a desktop stood at the hutch. A sleek printer sat next to the TV. Files were neatly stacked on the table. A file-drawer stood in one corner. He motioned the detectives to sit down. They sat down, but he remained standing.

Likes to take control, thought Nolan.

Arnav looked at each of their faces before he said, ‘What is the police’s interest in what was merely an accident?’

‘It’s not an accident, Mr. Raizada,’ said Nolan, he raise himself to his impressive six-foot-four height, a good four inches taller than Raizada, who didn’t look in the least intimidated. Just raised an eyebrow at him as if to let him know that he was amused at this move.

‘Not an accident?’ asked Akash, who had missed the by-play between Nolan and his brother.

‘No.’ He kept his eyes on the older Raizada, who in turn narrowed his eyes.

‘What makes you say that?’ Arnav said.

‘She had lacerations on her feet, from cut glass. And burn marks on her fingers and toes. The kind of burn marks you get from electrocution,’ Nolan added. Shocking him might get something out of this man. He was right.

‘What?!’ Arnav looked at him, his eyes searching Nolan’. Then he seemed to remember something. He looked at his brother who was looking astonished as well. ‘Akash, get HP to get everybody downstairs. If the detectives want to question them, they can do so there.’ His gaze never left Nolan’. ‘Can I request you to keep the details of my sister’s injuries to yourselves?’ he asked. They nodded at him, starting to get out of their chairs. ‘Detective,’ he spoke to Nolan directly, ‘a moment, please’. Nolan nodded pleasantly and waited as the rest filed out of the room.

He seated himself and watched as the much younger man paced the room, almost like a caged tiger, he thought. There was something cat-like about him, waiting to pounce. Waiting to pounce on what? Whom? His right hand was opening and closing in fists, the jaws were clenched, classic signs of repressed anger. Who was he angry with?

‘I can’t believe it!’ Arnav finally muttered.

‘Sit down, Mr. Raizada’, Nolan murmured.

He looked at the detective and sat down on the edge of a chair, his elbows resting on his knees, the hands folded together. He was coiled tight as a spring.

‘You do realize that we are now investigating this as a homicide, Mr. Raizada.’ He watched him close his eyes, his head bent. ‘As well as an attempted homicide. The circumstances of your sister’s accident are hardly accidental.’ The detective watched him for a minute, and then asked the one question that had been bothering him, ‘where’s your brother-in-law, Mr. Raizada?’

Arnav’s head sprang around. There was fire in his eyes. ‘I threw him out of this house, detective,’ he chewed the words out. Nolan just raised his eyebrows, waiting patiently for him to spill some more. Raizada got up and began pacing again. ‘I threw him out of the house because of the way he hurt my sister,’ he said. ‘For years he conned me, and our family. All he wanted was to get his hands on my money… and….Khushi.’

The detective raised his eyebrows. Interesting! So the brother-in-law was a con-man and a man like Arnav Singh Raizada wouldn’t take kindly to being conned, he was sure. But there was more to this story. The last word – Khushi – his fiancée – what’d she have to do with the con? He mentally made a note to follow up with Ms. Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada. His phone pinged. CSU. ‘Excuse me,’ he said and walked out of the room to take the call.

‘Detective Nolan,’ he identified himself.

‘We found glass shards on the doormat in the sister’s bedroom. There were bloody footprints in the room and the corridor. We also found the live wire on the banister. No prints on glass or the live wire.’

‘Thanks. I’ll hear the details when we get down there.’

He turned around to find the younger man staring at him. ‘What did he say?’ Arnav asked.

‘We can’t talk to you about the details of the investigation, Mr. Raizada,’ he said softly. ‘Suffice to say, as of now we can confirm that someone wanted to hurt your sister and her child.’

He watched him put his head in his hands. He couldn’t be sure but he thought the younger man was in tears. He put a hand on his shoulder and kept it there until Arnav raised blood shot eyes at him. ‘We really need to know about your brother-in-law,’ he said gently, lowering himself into a chair again.

Arnav seemed to think it over and then took a deep breath. ‘I was going to London. He ambushed me and kidnapped me on the way to the airport. Kept me a prisoner for fifteen days. My wife....’ he stopped, took another deep breath. ‘He threatened her. Told her he would kill me if she told anyone that I was missing. She went looking for me. All by herself. She finally found me and brought me back.’

Nichols kept his face blank, his mind churning through this information. Then he took a decision. ‘Can you come down to the station tomorrow, sir? We need a full statement from you and your.. wife.’ Arnav nodded. He took out his phone and texted Brown, ‘Let’s go’. He’d got enough material to work on tonight.

They gathered again at the police station, along with Donald.

‘Shyam Jha,’ said Nichols. Brown sat up straighter as did White. ‘What do we know about him?’

‘Not much,’ said White. ‘He arrived in the US about 5 years ago on a B-1 visa. He married Anjali Malik within 3 months of arriving and then got his Green Card based on her citizenship.’

‘Three months?’ mused Nichols. ‘A little soon for a wedding, surely?’

‘He moved into the Raizada mansion right after the wedding and has been staying there. He has no visible means of livelihood, but his lifestyle is extravagant. Likes his Rolex and his Hermes. All bankrolled by his wife.’

‘Who in turn is bankrolled by the brother,’ added Brown.

‘Nice life,’ said Ryder.

‘Yeah. So why would he go and kidnap the brother?’ mused Nichols.

‘Kidnap?’ Donald said. ‘A well-known businessman like ASR gets kidnapped and no one knows about it?’

Nichols nodded. ‘I don’t think he was lying, Captain. The man is a pretty straight shooter. But he was holding back a lot of anger, and a lot of grief. They’re coming in tomorrow - him and his wife, for official statements.’

‘I can confirm the kidnapping,’ said Brown. ‘The aunt. She mentioned something in Hindi and then shut up.’

‘So let’s see. The sister has a miscarriage - is the target of an attempted murder. The brother-in-law is MIA, thrown out of the house by the brother. The brother had been kidnapped and no one knows about it or they won’t talk about it. Evidently the brother-in-law did the kidnapping. The aunt knows something. The fiancee is actually the wife. The two brothers are married to the two sisters. The grandmother won’t talk to us. And the sister doesn’t regret losing the baby, but keeps asking for the husband.’ All of them were listening to Terry intently as he summarized the relationships. ‘This is one dysfunctional family, y’all!’ he concluded.

‘Agree,’ said Ryder sagely.

The next morning, Arnav and Khushi arrived at the precinct on the dot of 10. They were ushered into a conference room where Brown and Nolan joined them.

‘Sorry to have you come into the city on such short notice,’ began Nolan, laying out the paperwork in front of him.

Arnav just nodded. He was in an Armani suit today, grey silk, with a white shirt and a black cravat. Khushi wore a simple blue sari, the only adornment a chain on her neck with a diamond locket, and the diamond engagement ring. A diamond nose stud flashed every time she moved her head. She may be from Queens but she had a grace and dignity that couldn’t be denied. They looked like the perfect couple. But a perfectly tensed up couple as well.

‘We’d like to go over the circumstances of your kidnapping, Mr. Raizada,’ said Brown. She kept a close look on Khushi, noticing the nervous twisting of the end of the sari.

Arnav took a deep breath and started by telling them all about the ambush at the airport. the fifteen days of confinement, Khushi finding him the first time...It took him about an hour to tell them what he knew. As he spoke, Khushi’s head dipped lower and lower. Almost like she was trying to hide her face. Brown wondered why.

Then it was Khushi’s turn.

‘When Arnav went to London, I ...he sent me a text saying he reached London. Then I found out that he never reached London. Three days later, he called up,’ she stopped and looked at him. They held hands, and looked at each other. Their eyes spoke volumes.

Brown felt a catch in her throat as she looked at them. Young love!

Khushi swallowed and continued. ‘He called and said he was in Scotland. I knew something was ... wrong with him’. Her big doe-like eyes filled with tears as she remembered the crazy nights she’d spent wondering where he was. ‘I couldn’t tell anyone why I felt he was missing. Who would understand that all I had were feelings?’ She stopped and took a sip of water. ‘His aunt and I started calling up all the hotels there, but there were no bookings for him. That’s when we knew something was wrong. Then one day, I finally found the place they’d kept him. We escaped, but we couldn’t get far. We found a hut to spend the night in. But they found us there. He.. ,’ the tears were flowing freely now. ‘He hit me on the head so he could hide me, and gave himself up.’ His arm came around her holding her close, supporting her, cradling her head against his shoulder, hushing her as she clutched his lapel.

The detectives sat back watching this couple interact. They could see the incredible amount of love they had for each other. ‘Finally, when I got back the next day, I was going to tell the family. But the kidnapper phoned me, and threatened to kill him if I said anything.’

‘So the kidnapper knew who you were?’ asked Brown gently.

Khushi looked at her startled. ‘Yes!’ she said. Suddenly she seemed rejuvenated. ‘We, his aunt and I were threatened a couple of times, and finally we found out where he was hidden. We went there, and we saw them taking him out, unconscious. He looked like he’d been....beaten.’

Arnav looked at her. He’d never heard her full version before and his eyes never left her face. ‘I found blood on Sh.. his brother-in-law’s shoes. I took it in for testing. It tested positive for Arnav’s blood type. Then his cousin, NK came to visit and he found out about Arnav’s kidnapping. He helped me. I told him who I suspected. We started looking for clues. We found Arnav’s passport and boarding pass in Shyam’s things. We also found a pen drive which gave us access to his computer. We found his accounts, and where he’d been cashing out money.’

Nolan didn’t miss the way Arnav reacted at the mention of the pen-drive. The same clenched jaw and the same tension in his fists. There was more to this pen-drive story, but he let it pass for now.

‘But it didn’t bring us any closer to finding him. Then one day, we got a box of gifts. They were from him. But I knew it couldn’t be. It had to be the kidnapper. The gift that was for me had a receipt in it. A receipt from a restaurant. And on the back, he’d scribbled a note for me. NK and I followed the receipt and I finally found where they had hidden him. Shyam found me there. Arnav had also fought his way out. But Shyam dragged me away, tied me up and left me on the road to be run over. Arnav was able to find me. The men that he’d hired tried to kill us both, but we finally managed to escape.’ She finished in a rush.

Brown and Nolan sat back listening to this girl tell a detective story to them. She should have been one herself. Following the money indeed! No wonder ASR was in love with her!

‘So, you never saw the kidnapper?’ asked Nolan of Arnav.

‘No,’ he said.

‘Why would Shyam kidnap you?’ he asked.

‘My money. It was all willed to my sister. If he could get rid of me, it would all go to my sister and therefore to him.’

‘And now?’

‘Not any more,’ said Arnav firmly. ‘I’ve changed the terms of my will. Under no circumstances would he be able to touch a penny of my money.’

‘Did you ever suspect Shyam of being the person who kidnapped you?’

‘Yes. I had time to think while I was sitting there. It had to be an inside job.’

‘Why d’ you say that?’

‘They didn’t want to kill me. They needed me alive. For fifteen days. It was per the terms of my will. The boss wouldn’t show his face to me. He went to great lengths to keep it hidden. It had to be someone I knew. They knew I had diabetes, they had me take my medication every day - the same brand that I take. They sent gifts to my family, in front of me. So it had to be someone who was inside Raizada Mansion on a daily basis, who knew what the people there were thinking. So..there was only one person in Raizada Mansion who had a grudge against me.’

The two detectives looked at him with something like admiration. This guy indeed had a sharp mind. Very sharp.

Nolan pounced on the one thing that Arnav had let slip. ‘A grudge against you? Why would that be, Mr. Raizada?’

He was taken aback. Khushi bent her head again. The detectives exchanged a look. Brown got up. ‘Mrs. Raizada? Would you like to come with me a moment please?’ she said. Khushi looked up at her questioningly and obediently got up to follow her out, looking back over her shoulder at her husband.

‘Now, Mr. Raizada would you like to tell me about Shyam and Khushi?’ asked Nolan not very gently.

He saw the anger come into the young man’s eyes. ‘Not really,’ was the answer he got.

He raised an eyebrow. ‘You have to tell me, Mr. Raizada. It’s not helping if you don’t tell us the whole story.’

‘Shyam... wanted ... Khushi,’ he ground out.

Nolan sat back. Something clicked in his head. ‘Hence the unconventional marriage?’ he asked. A nod. It was obviously a sore point, but the motive seemed to be clear, now. ‘Why didn’t you come to us about the kidnapping, Mr. Raizada?’

‘With what?’ He said. ‘I didn’t.. don’t have a single shred of proof that I can give to you.’

‘The pen drive?’

‘I don’t know where it is.’

Nolan thought for a moment and said, ‘Thank you for your co-operation, Mr. Raizada.’ He held out a hand. Arnav got up and shook his hand. Khushi and Brown returned as well. ‘If you think of anything else, please give us a call,’ he held out his card. Arnav took it and nodded.

They watched the couple leave and then turned towards each other and smiled. ‘What it is to be so young and so in love,’ said Brown.

‘So the charming Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada cast a spell on you, too?’ Nolan ribbed her.

She shook her head. ‘She’s a feisty one, though,’ she replied. ‘She took all those risks to save her man.’

‘Lucky him’, said Nolan. ‘But now we know what Shyam wants.’

She nodded. ‘I think so, but where is he?’

‘Follow the money,’ said Nolan and tapped his nose.

They gathered in the conference room again - Terry, Ryder, Brown, White and Nolan. Mak joined them for the conversation, listening intently to all they had to say. A profiler with the FBI, Mak had been brought in to see if he could shed some light on all the tangled threads.

Nolan and Brown briefed the others on what Arnav and Khushi had told them.

‘Why would Shyam Manohar Jha want to kill his wife?’ asked Brown. She frowned. ‘It makes no sense.’

‘Sure it does,’ said Nolan. ‘Shyam wants pretty little Mrs Arnav Singh Raizada for himself. And the money she now has.’ She raised her eyebrows. ‘Arnav Singh Raizada has changed his will. Who do you think is the big beneficiary?’

‘State Law. It’s Mrs. Arnav Singh Raizada.’

‘Yep and not his sister, who was the beneficiary till he got married.’ Ryder added.

‘But if the sister dies now, then?’

‘He is free to marry again. Kill Arnav and then Khushi is his,’ said Mak.

‘What?’ White looked at him. ‘How do you jump to that conclusion?’

‘There are two things he wants - Money and Khushi. Arnav told you that himself. I’d like to meet this guy before I can tell you anymore.’ Mak was really keen to meet Shyam Manohar Jha.

An officer walked into the room just them, and placed a couple of manila envelopes in front of White. She picked the first one up and opened it. It was the CSU report. It didn’t have much more than what they had already been told. But it was the second one that hit pay dirt. A forensic report on Anjali Jha’s finances, her bank accounts, credit cards. Brown had asked a forensic accountant to work on it overnight.

‘Listen up, people,’ said White. ‘Anjali Jha seems to have been bankrolling her husband continuously even after he was thrown out of the house. Her credit cards have thousands of dollars’ worth of electronic equipment charged to them, till they were canceled a few days ago. Surveillance equipment? Is the Raizada mansion under surveillance?’ All of them sat up straighter.

‘He wants in,’ said Mak. ‘He wants to get in that house so bad, he has equipment set up so he can monitor what’s going on.’

‘The wedding,’ Nolan eyes flared. ‘He wants to stop the wedding. I think he thinks if he stopped the wedding, he would get Khushi. Kill Anjali. Get her money. Stop the wedding. Get Khushi. Mission accomplished.’

‘But he doesn’t know that Arnav has changed his will,’ said Terry frowning.

‘Either that or he’s got another ace up his sleeve,’ said Nolan.

‘How do we get hold of him?’ said Ryder.

‘Who’s the one person he’ll listen to?’ said Mak.

The detectives looked at each other. Brown and White got up. ‘We’re going to Queens,’ they said.

****

The Raizada Mansion was in turmoil. Anjali had refused to eat anything all morning nor had she taken her meds. The family was running around like chicken with their heads cut off. Arnav and Akash had gone to a new specialist to consult on her state of mind, which seemed to vacillate from despair to happiness in a matter of hours. It was troubling Arnav a lot and he had wanted a fresh opinion.

They’d just come back from the doctor and saw the grandmothers and aunt standing in the hall discussing how frail Anjali seemed. She was evidently feeling much worse. Just then the door opened and Shyam walked in. Arnav could not believe his eyes. The blatant audacity of the man! How dare he just walk in like he owned the place? He was seeing red in front of his eyes. He didn’t realize he’d moved forward and grasped his collar. ‘How dare you?’ he whispered harshly. ‘Who let you in?’

‘I did,’ he heard the soft voice and turned around, stunned. His Khushi was standing there looking apprehensively at him.

‘You?!’ He dropped his hand, the blow of her betrayal clear on his face.

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘Please try to understand. Don’t you see how much your sister needs him?’

‘Khushi, you know-‘, he was interrupted by another knock at the door. Terry and Ryder stood there.

‘Mr. Shyam Manohar Jha?’ said Ryder, clapping a hand on his shoulder.

Shyam looked from one to the other. ‘Yes?’ He looked suitably puzzled.

‘Detective Ryder and Detective Terry,’ they held out their badges. ‘We’d like to ask you a few questions, if you’d care to accompany us downtown?’

‘Me? Regarding what?’

‘Sir, your wife had a bad accident, and we’re investigating. We’d like some time with you. Now, are you coming with us, or do you want to continue here?’

‘Shyamji!’ the call came from the head of the staircase. Anjali stood there. She was looking so much better all of a sudden. Arnav just stared at her. ‘Where are you taking him?’

‘It’s alright, Rani Sahiba,’ he seemed perfectly calm. ‘They just need to ask some questions. I’ll be back soon. Don’t worry.’ He left with the detectives.

Arnav was looking at Khushi. She nodded slightly. He breathed in deeply, a small smile in his eyes as he looked at her. Then his attention was diverted by his sister. ‘Chotey, please take me to him,’ she said, leaning on his shoulder. Detective Brown and White walked into the room.

‘Mr. Raizada, would you like to bring your sister to the precinct?’ White said.

‘Well, she does look better, but she needs to eat something before she can go,’ he looked at his sister as he said this.

‘Okay,’ said Anjali, almost eager to please. ‘I’ll eat.’

***

Half an hour later, Anjali sat in a room with a window through which she could see her Shyamji. Brown and White stood behind her, with folded arms. They kept a close eye on her.

Through the window they could see Shyam sitting at the bare table in the stark room. He looked around casually, and seemed perfectly calm, only his clenched fists on the table gave away any sign of tension.

Terry and Ryder entered the room. In the back room, they couldn’t hear anything what was being said. Brown had left the audio off purposely. Anjali was focused on the other room, trying to figure out what they were saying that she didn’t notice Mak and Nolan enter the room quietly and stand at the back.

‘Mr.Jha,’ Ryder began, ‘we are very sorry for your loss.’

He nodded, warily eyeing the two detectives who were sitting casually, leaning back in their chairs. Just a conversation between three men.

‘Can you tell us where you were at the time of this ceremony, Mr.Jha?’ said Terry.

‘My brother-in-law didn’t allow me to go to the ceremony, as you know,’ he said, palms out, offering himself honestly.

‘So where were you?’ asked Terry again.

‘I was at .. at home,’ he said. The little stutter did not escape the detectives although their faces did not show that they had heard it at all.

‘Was there anyone with you?’

‘No. I live alone. After all, my wife-’, but the detective interrupted again.

‘Mr.Jha, what exactly do you do for a living?’

‘I’m a lawyer,’ he said. Ryder raised an eyebrow.

‘Where did you go to school?’

‘Right here in New York,’ he replied.

‘So you studied law after you got married?’

‘Yes’, he assented eagerly. ‘I had a degree in India, but I took the BAR exams here again, so I could practice.’

‘Mr. Jha, can you tell us why you weren’t living with your wife at the time she had this tragedy?’ Ryder scratched his head with his left hand. White leaned down and turned on the audio. Anjali heard the question and her eyes filled with tears. Brown watched her closely.

Shyam wiped his mouth. Mak’s eyes narrowed. Classic sign of telling lies. Covering your mouth. Whatever comes out afterwards is a lie.

‘It’s all a big misunderstanding, detective,’ Shyam sighed. ‘Somehow my brother-in-law was under the impression that I had kidnapped him. Now why would I do that? Wouldn’t that hurt my wife?’

‘Why would your brother-in-law think that, Mr. Jha?’ this time Ryder leaned a little closer.

‘Look. I hate to say this. I mean, this is a private family matter...’ His voice trailed off.

‘Not any more, it isn’t,’ the detective leaned in a little closer.

‘Well, his wife. Khushi. She, I think, she likes me more than its respectable. I mean, I’m a married man and, it was very embarrassing, you know,’ he shifted in his seat. ‘She kept coming on to me, and well..’

‘And you never spoke of this to your brother-in-law?’

‘What could I tell him? He loves his wife and will do anything for her. I mean, he even believed her story that I had kidnapped him!’

‘Why would she tell him you’d kidnapped her husband, if she was coming on to you?’

‘I don’t know. Perhaps because I was resisting her advances.’

His eyes were jumpy now, trying to look away from the detectives. Brown watched the overtly sweet smile on Anjali’s face as she looked adoringly at her husband. This was strange! Here was the man openly saying that his brother-in-law’s wife was coming on to him, and she was happy about it? Something was wrong here. White met her eyes and nodded.

‘Mrs. Jha, please come with us,’ she put an arm under Anjali’s hand to help her up. Anjali looked confusedly at them.

‘Please, can’t I stay here? I know he’ll be done in a little while,’ she pleaded. ‘Then I can go home with him.’

‘Ma’am. Please come with us,’ Brown wasn’t taking no for an answer. She got up and allowed herself to be helped out of the room.

Ryder and Terry got up in the other room, too and excused themselves. They came into the annex and shut the door.

‘He’s lying,’ said Mak. The others stood quietly waiting for him to finish. ‘He’s telling you what he thinks you want to hear. His weakness is Khushi and the money. One of those will break him.’

‘But right now, we’ve got nothing.’

‘Use the Khushi angle. Ask him what he knows of his brother-in-law’s unconventional marriage,’ suggested Mak.

Terry and Ryder went back inside.

‘Look, how much longer do I have to be here? My wife-’

‘Is being well taken care of,’ said Ryder. ‘Mr. Jha, what do you know of your brother-in-law’s marriage?’ Mak leaned forward waiting to see the reaction of this surprise question.

‘Just that, they got married all of a sudden, on Akash and Payal’s wedding day. They came back in the middle of the night saying they had a temple marriage.’

‘And no one questioned it?’

‘You don’t know my brother-in-law, detective. When he doesn’t want to tell anything, he doesn’t tell anything!’

‘What about Khushi,’ said Ryder, purposely taking the more casual form of her name.‘Didn’t she say anything?

‘What would she say?’ the flare of anger in his eyes did not go unnoticed. ‘She’s much too scared of him.’

‘So why would she marry him?’

‘He forced her.’

‘So you DO know the reason why they married,’ Terry leaned back.

‘Of course I do. Khushi told me herself.’

Outside Nolan looked puzzled. ‘I could’ve sworn she’s in love with Raizada. So why would he need to force her to marry him?’

‘Why?’ echoed Terry inside the room.

‘That’s because I told him...’ he stopped.

‘Told him what, Mr. Jha?’ very softly from Ryder.

‘Nothing. What would I tell him?’

‘Why would she confide in you?’

‘Because...because she thought I was her friend.’

‘He’s dancing around now. I think its time you went in, Nolan’, said Mak.

Nolan knocked on the door and opened it. ‘Ryder, Terry, the captain wants a word with you,’ he said, looking from one to the other as he spoke. He dropped the papers he’d been carrying and said, ‘ah! sorry,’ staying out of sight until the two had left. He got up, shuffling the papers in his hand and gave Shyam a disarming smile. Taking one of the chairs facing Shyam, he pulled it around to sit next to him.

‘I ... ah... would you like something to drink?’ he asked, ‘coffee, soda?’

‘No thanks,’ said Shyam. Nolan looked at him through slitted eyes. His hands were on table, holding his hands together, his thumbs rubbing over each other. Nervous, he thought, watching the other man’s jumpy eyes.

‘So.. ,’ he kept his tone conversational. ‘Where did you first meet Khushi?’ He watched as Shyam’s head snapped up.

‘Why do you keep asking me about Khushi?’

‘Well, we want to get the whole picture of the family. I feel you can help me understand this relationship your brother-in-law has with Khushi. You did say she regarded you as a friend. Why a friend, Mr Jha?’

‘Well, because, ...’ he looked around, not finding the words to express himself.

‘A lawyer with a taste for the good life. A brother-in-law who has all that he wants, money, power and Khushi,’ Mak smiled. ‘I think we just got our motive, gentlemen’.

ADA Carrera had joined them in the little annex now.

‘But without proof, none of this is going to stand up in court. We need some tangible evidence.’

It was becoming clearer to the police that this man had covered his tracks pretty well. With interrogation he might be cracked, but without proof how could they get a conviction?

‘He’s slick,’ said Carerra. ‘Find something, and then let me do my work. Or else get a confession.’

****

Brown entered the small office, where Arnav, Khushi and Anjali were waiting. Khushi sat with her arm around her sister-in-law, who didn’t look too well. Arnav was pacing up and down. None of them were talking.

‘Khushi?’ Brown stood in front of her. ‘Can you please come with me?’

‘Why?’ said Arnav, putting an arm around her as she stood up.

‘It’s just some routine information, Mr.Raizada,’ she said calmly. ‘Please, Khushi, come with me.’

Anjali looked confused from one to the other. ‘Chotey, what is happening? Why are they taking Khushi? And why hasn’t Shyamji come out yet?’

‘He’ll be out in a bit, ma’am,’ said Brown, holding open the door for Khushi. Her large eyes were wide with apprehension, staring at her husband. He looked her full in the eyes. An unspoken message passed between them. She turned around and left the room. Brown watched this with narrowed eyes, surprised by the intensity of the moment.

She led Khushi to another little room, sat her down and offered her some water, which she refused. In a minute, Mak joined them. Brown introduced Mak as another police official. No need to tell her that he was a profiler, it would only confuse matters.

‘Khushi,’ she began. ‘We need to know how you met Shyam.’ She watched the pale cheeks turn suddenly rosy as Khushi swallowed. Her eyes were downcast, as she nervously twisted the ends of her sari. Mak sat quietly watching her not saying anything at this point.

‘I was walking down the street, some boys, some boys...they were teasing me. Took away my dupatta - the scarf. He came out of nowhere and beat them up, he saved me. Later my sister and I met him again in the market one day. Then we met him a few more times. I was looking for a job, and he got me one in AR Group, which is where I met Arnav.’ A faint blush once more colored her cheeks. ‘Shyam.. he started coming to our house, said he was looking for a place to stay. He rented our basement. At some point, my aunt started thinking he would be a good match for me. But ... but....I didn’t want to marry him.’ She stopped, the red in her face deepening.

‘Because of Arnav?’ Brown asked softly.

She nodded. ‘But we weren’t dating or anything. My family wanted me to get married to Shyam. We were almost engaged. But then.. ‘, she stopped, her eyes darkening with anger. ‘I found out he was married to Arnav’s sister. We threw him out of our house.’

She took a sip of water, then continued. ‘Then Arnav and I got married. It wasn’t until later that I found out that he ... married me to save his sister’s marriage. Then Arnav was kidnapped. You know the rest.’

Mak was quiet and then said, ‘Thank you, Ms..?’

‘Singh Raizada,’ she said, the pride evident in her tone at those two words. ‘Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada.’

‘Why didn’t you tell Arnav about Shyam before you married him?’ he asked.

She raised her big doe-eyed gaze to his. ‘How could I? It would have killed Arnav to know his sister was married to a cheater,’ she said simply. ‘I couldn’t hurt him. His sister means the world to him.’

Mak nodded. Brown led her out of the room and showed her the way to the room where her husband/fiance and his sister waited. She came back into the room and sat across from Mak, a frown on her brows.

‘What do you think?’

‘She’s telling the truth. There is a lot she hasn’t said - she left out the months after she got married. I doubt that it could have been happy for her knowing what she did. She stayed in the same house as the man to whom she was once almost engaged to. He still wants her, and from the looks of it, I’d say, he would’ve at least made advances to her. Her reason for not telling her husband about Shyam, sounds strange to be honest.’

‘You have to see them together, Mak,’ she said. ‘It’s like they communicate on a wavelength their own.’

‘Soul-mates?’ he raised a disbelieving eyebrow.

‘If I have ever seen one,’ she responded.

They had to let Shyam go after a while. He’d only been brought in for questioning and nothing they said stuck to him. His story and Khushi’s were contradictory. Seeing Khushi with her husband, the detectives knew that he was lying. So how were they going to get a confession? And a confession to what? The cheating? The kidnapping? The baby’s death? Any one of those, and they could get him on the rest. They didn’t doubt that Arnav Singh Raizada was telling the truth as was his wife. But it was all circumstantial. They had nothing to hold him on.

They sat around a table in the conference room, pooling their thoughts together. What did they know?

Brown opened the conversation.’So according to Khushi, they met before she even knew Arnav. He rescued (air quotes) her from some street thugs, and then kept meeting her.’

‘Each time, he plays on her needs, clears out some obstacle in her way. Be it the thugs or a job. Shyam always has an answer to her needs. In the process, his need for her as the object of his attention is growing’, continued Mak. ‘So this is his modus operandi. He fulfills a need in someone and once he has their trust he makes his next move. I think he did the same with the entire Gupta family as well as the Raizadas.’

‘What need did he fill in the Raizadas?’ as Ryder. ‘They seem to have it all - money, power, a good life...’

‘The brother and sister. They’re orphans. Parents died 14 years ago in what looks like a double suicide. Coroner ruled it as suicide for both parents. Brought up by their grandma, Mrs. Raizada,’ said Terry. ‘Brother changed his last name to Raizada when he came to live there, about 13 years ago. The sister never changed her last name - she was an adult by the time the parents died. She stayed a Malik - that was their family name. Later when she got married, she took her husband’s last name.’ He was reading from the extensive research their CSU team had put together. They’d dug into the lives of the major players pretty deeply.

Nolan whistled. ‘This Raizada family is getting more and more interesting. A double suicide? That must have hurt the kids badly. But does it have any relevance to Shyam?’

‘Don’t think so,’ said Mak. ‘There’s no evidence that Shyam is related to their past. He seems to be a sociopath - that’s all. He played on Anjali’s handicap. He played on Arnav’s lack of a male role model in his life. He became the person she needed him to be - a loving boyfriend and then a doting husband, who didn’t mind being bankrolled by his brother-in-law’s money. A leech.’

He took a sip of coffee. ‘Khushi on the other hand, is a different ball game. As far as he can see, she doesn’t need him at all. He can’t make a dent in her life. So the attraction grows - because she’s unattainable.’

‘But what does he hope to get out of killing the wife and the baby?’

‘The same that he did when he kidnapped Arnav. Money and Khushi,’ said Mak. ‘Once he knew that Arnav forced Khushi into the marriage, he was happy. In his mind, Khushi was being kept from him by Arnav. Arnav became the obstacle in his way to Khushi. Hence the kidnapping.’

‘Makes sense. But would a jury buy it?’ said Donald.

‘There’s a lot here we don’t know,’ said Nolan.

‘The sister,’ said Brown. ‘She’s unnaturally attached to her husband. He was talking about Khushi, and all she was doing was smiling at him. Later, I saw her sitting with Khushi, like nothing had happened. It was odd, to say the least.’

Nolan looked at Brown, and then the others. ‘The sister, she holds the key,’ he said. ‘Wonder how she’ll do without the brother or the husband in the same room?’ he mused.

***

The next morning, Nolan, Mak and White presented themselves at the Raizada Mansion. The servant let them in and gestured for them to sit in one of the lounge areas, while he went off to look for the master of the house. A few minutes later, they watched Arnav and Akash walk down the stairs. They came over to the officers and shook hands.

‘What can we do for you?’ said Arnav.

‘We need to talk to your sister,’ said White. They’d agreed to let her do the questioning just to give the Raizadas a sense of comfort. They’d noticed how protective the entire family was of this thirty-something woman and had initially attributed it to the loss she’d sustained. Now, they weren’t so sure.

Arnav’s keen gaze went from one to the other. He turned to his brother, and was about to say something, when the doorbell rang again. The servant ran to open it. Khushi stood in the doorway with some bags which she handed to him before stepping into the hallway. She stopped in surprise to see the police there. Arnav walked over to her, and kissed her forehead and murmured something to her. He brought her over to where the little group still stood. ‘Akash?’ he turned to his brother.

‘No problem, bro. I’ll take care of the office. You stay,’ seemingly understanding exactly what his brother was going to say.

‘Thanks, bro,’ he clapped his younger brother on the shoulder, who left. ‘Please, come,’ he said to the officers. They followed the couple up the stairs, down a corridor to a closed door. ‘Just a minute,’ he said to them. He knocked on the door, waited a moment and pushed it open.

Shyam was sitting on the bed, evidently helping her eat breakfast. He stood up as they came in, a scowl coming over his face as he saw who it was. A nurse stood at a table, fiddling with some equipment on a table.

‘Di,’ said Arnav, ‘the officers want to ask you some questions.’

She looked bewildered from one face to the next. Mak kept his gaze on Shyam and noticed the almost involuntary twitch on his face, the slight narrowing of the eyes, the furtive wipe of the mouth. Nervous. Why? White noticed the body shift in Khushi, her back slightly turned to Shyam as she went around him to hold her sister-in-law’s hand.

‘Why?’ Anjali echoed Mak’s thought.

‘Ma’am,’ said White, ‘we need to understand exactly what happened that night. That’s why we need to talk to you.’

‘I’ll stay with her,’ said Shyam, addressing his brother-in-law. Nolan smiled inwardly, noticing how the younger man’s hand fisted at this. He hated his brother-in-law. A memory flashed of those bruised knuckles the first time he’d met him. So Raizada wasn’t always that calm and collected, he thought.

‘No, sir,’ said White, very firmly. ‘You won’t. The nurse can wait outside the door. Mak here is also a doctor. So she’s in perfectly safe hands.’

Arnav gave a slight nod. He’d been told exactly who Mak was. ‘Khushi and I will be in the study if you need us,’ he told them, before leading his fiancee away. Shyam followed reluctantly, looking over his shoulder at the scene behind him. Nolan shut the door in his face.

‘Mrs. Jha,’ began Mak. ‘We’re very sorry about your loss.’

‘Thank you,’ she answered. ‘I lost my princess. My husband and I were looking forward to her, so much.’ She didn’t seem to be too broken up about the loss.

Nolan moved forward, drawing himself up to his intimidating height. ‘Then why’d your brother throw him out of the house?’ he asked, getting straight to the meat of the matter.

She sighed and looked down for a moment. ‘It was all a misunderstanding, you see.’

Mak leaned over and placed his hand on hers. ‘Tell us what happened,’ in a very soft avuncular voice.

She smiled at him, an almost childlike look on her face. ‘Chotey was supposed to go to London,’ she began.

‘Chotey?’ said Nolan

‘Arnav. We call him Chotey.’ He nodded, opening up his notebook and ostensibly making notes. ‘After he left, he called us from there, and said he was in Scotland, and then he even sent us gifts from there. But then, that day, Mami - my aunt - came to me and told me that my husband was planning to divorce me, and leave me for Khushi.’

Nolan’d became still. This was news indeed! Sweet Khushi had been keeping some very interesting facts from them!

‘I didn’t believe it, of course. Later, he came in, injured. He’d been in an accident. While I was tending to him, Khushi came in, and she looked like she’d been in an accident too. And then, my brother walked in, and he .. he was covered in mud and grime and blood. Then he said he’d been kidnapped, and Mami seemed to know about that. Khushi accused my husband of kidnapping Chotey and trying to kill him. In front of everybody! Why would she do that?’ she asked, as if expecting an answer from them. Tears pooled in her large eyes. Mak handed her the box of tissues, she took one and wiped her eyes.

‘I don’t quite remember what happened after that,’ she said. ‘Everyone was talking, him, Khushi, even Payal, and NK. Oh, it was so ugly. All I know is that Khushi and Payal and NK were accusing him of all kinds of things. And then Mami... Mami also asked him about the divorce papers. Khushi said something about a will. But he said he’d only signed the papers because he wanted to be rid of Khushi’s advances.’ There was a glint of something close to hate in her eyes as she spoke her sister-in-law’s name. ‘All I remember is that Chotey believed Khushi. He threw my husband out of the house.’

‘Did you connect with your husband after that?’ asked Nolan.

‘He called me. Explained to me it was all a misunderstanding and he would soon clear it. Of course, I couldn’t tell anything about this to Chotey. He would’ve been very angry about it. So, I had to meet him outside the house. He explained to me that Chotey was very much in love with Khushi, so we had to let him have this traditional wedding. But then, I lost the baby.’ She looked down and touched the flat tummy. ‘But Khushi brought him back into the house again,’ she smiled.

‘What were you doing upstairs that night? The night you lost the baby?’ asked Nolan softly.

‘He had come here, my husband. He wanted to be here for the baby shower.’ Nolan and White exchanged glances. Lie number one - finally! ‘So he came dressed as one of the musicians we’d hired. He wanted to be here with me. But he had to leave, and he called me. I went around the poolside and thought I saw someone in my room. So I came upstairs.’

‘Was he there?’ asked Mak.

‘No, he wasn’t. But there was glass on my doormat. I don’t know how it got there. Someone must have dropped a glass. I cut my foot and started going down the stairs. I don’t remember anything after that.’ She looked from one to the other.

‘Thank you, Mrs.Jha,’ said White. They took their leave of her, and left. As soon as they reached outside, Nolan took out his cellphone and called Terry.

‘We need a tail on Shyam, right away. He’s at the Raizada Mansion right now, but we need to keep an eye on him,’ said Nolan.

‘Looks like you got something on him,’ said Terry.

‘Yup, I think we finally did,’ smiled Nolan. They looked at each other and smiled. The pen drive, the will and the divorce papers. Evidence. They just needed to find it.

‘Wait,’ said White. ‘If Khushi initiated the divorce conversation, where are the papers?’ They looked at each other and headed back in. The servant looked startled as they appeared in the doorway.

‘Where’s Khushi?’ they asked.

‘In the study with Arnav Bhaiyya,’ he said pointing to the stairs. They went up the stairs and knocked on the study door.

‘Who is it?’ Arnav called.

‘It’s Nolan.’

Arnav opened the door. Khushi stood with her back to them in the middle of the room, nervously twiddling with her sari’s end.

‘We need to ask Khushi a few quick questions,’ Nolan shut the door as they all entered the room.

She turned around with a puzzled look on her face. ‘Yes?’ Arnav’s face echoed the same look.

‘Where is the will and where are the divorce papers you got Shyam to sign?’ asked Nolan. Don’t give them time to think. The unexpected question always draws out the truth.

She looked from one to the other for a second, and then locked her gaze on Arnav. Her eyes widened with understanding. ‘I don’t have the will papers, I lost them. I do have the divorce papers with me, but they’re in Queens,’ she said.

‘We need to talk to NK, too,’ said Nolan. Arnav nodded, picking up the house phone and asking the servant to bring NK to his study. He sensed the air of urgency in the detectives and responded accordingly. Two minutes later, NK was in the room. He shook hands with the detectives.

‘I’ll go with Khushi to Queens to pick up the papers. NK, you need to go down to the station with Nolan. We need some answers from you,’ White quickly decided.

‘About Shyam,’ said Arnav. ‘I’ll come down to the station, too,’ he stated. NK looked grim. He nodded.

The older Mrs.Raizada was in the hall, a plate of something in her hand. ‘Chotey? NK? Where are you off to in such a hurry?’

Arnav gently held her upper arms and said, ‘Nani, we need to go to the police station. We’ll be back soon. Don’t worry. Everything is fine,’ he said gently. ‘Everything is really fine.’

White took the police car with Khushi to Queens, while Arnav drove the rest to the station in his SUV.

They found a small conference room and sat down. Brown, Terry and Ryder joined them as well. Cups of coffee were brought in.

‘NK, tell us about the day Arnav threw Shyam out of the house,’ Nolan got straight to the point.

The brothers exchanged a look. Arnav gave a slight nod. ‘When I came in and saw Nannav,’ he stopped at the exasperated look from Arnav, ‘sorry, Arnav back, I was really happy. I knew he’d been kidnapped and I knew Jijaji, I mean Shyam was the one who had done it.’

‘What do you know about the divorce papers?’

NK looked surprised. ‘Khushi wanted Shyam to trust her. He’d forced her into getting Nannav to sign a will making everything out to Shyam.’ Arnav’s head stayed down. ‘She knew that’s why he had kidnapped Arnav. So she pretended to ...I’m sorry, Nannav,’ he said apologetically to his brother. ‘She pretended to hate Nannav, so that he trusted her. We found out that he’d had Nannav’s passport and boarding ticket, Nannav’s blood was on his shoes. We also found that he had a pen drive in a locket. We switched it and went through his computer.’ His jaws locked at some very unpleasant memory. No one missed Arnav’s hand slowly turning into a fist on the table, as he kept his gaze down. NK took a breath and went on. ‘When I told all this to the rest of the family, Shyam accused me.. ME! ... of being attracted to Khushi!’

‘Were you?’ cut in Mak. NK looked startled.

‘Yes, when I first met her. But she had eyes only for Nannav and he for her. It was obvious they were in love. So when they finally got married, I was more than happy for them. She’s one of my best friends,’ he said. His simple words and honest gaze were more than enough to let this topic go.

‘So tell us about this pen drive.Where is it?’

‘I don’t know,’ he shook his head. ‘Probably thrown away some where. He fooled us that day. Somehow he knew we knew about the pen drive.’ There was a look of disgust on his face.

So much for evidence. Pen drive - gone. Will - gone. Their only hope were the divorce papers. Nolan’s phone rang at that moment. ‘Nolan.’ He listened for a bit and a small smile came on his face. ‘Thanks,’ he said and hung up. ‘We have the divorce papers.’

Arnav lifted his head and a lop-sided smile lifted his lips. Brown and White widened their eyes. The man was gorgeous!

‘Mr.Raizada, we need to search your sister’s room. Thoroughly. We need your permission for that,’ said Ryder.

He nodded. ‘I’ll let them know. The sooner you clear this thing up, the faster we can get back to our lives,’ he said.

*****

Terry and Ryder arrived with the CSU at the Raizada Mansion. Arnav led them to his sister’s room and waited outside. They looked around as they gloved up. A large bed. A cupboard. Deities in a nook. A dressing table. A cradle. Coffee table, chairs. It was a tastefully decorated room. A door in the far corner led off to the bathroom. They started going through each and every single surface, corner and inside of every single piece of furniture. Under the carpet. One of the CSU’s was on their hands and knees, looking under the bed. He shone his light under it and something glittered next to a box. He took a long stick and pulled the box out.

‘Detectives,’ he called. Terry and Ryder came over to him. He opened the box carefully. There were gloves in it. Latex gloves that you get in a super market. Something was rattling at the bottom. He reached in. A plastic bag full of glass shards came into view. The detectives smiled grimly.

‘Bag it,’ said Terry.

‘There’s a piece of glass under the bed, too,’ said the CSU. They nodded. The CSU dived under the bed again.

Terry’s phone pinged. ‘Terry,’ he said. He nodded at whatever the person on the other end was saying. ‘Good. Stay on it,’ and he hung up. ‘Shyam just arrived at a rooming house in Brooklyn,’ he said to Ryder. The other detective smiled.

‘Detectives,’ one of the other CSUs called them over. He was shining a flash on the underside of the cradle. ‘There’s something taped here. In a plastic bag.’ He reached for his camera and took a few shots of it. Terry and Ryder helped him overturn the heavy crib. Taped to the underside was a white plastic bag. Terry untaped it and reached inside. Papers. He unfolded the documents and wide grin spread over his face. A will. Arnav Singh Raizada’s will, signing over everything to Shyam Manohar Jha. Just as NK had said. Evidence. It was always all about money.

*****

Shyam Manohar Jha hurriedly packed a bag. He’d already called a cab. The sudden search of Anjali’s room had unnerved him. He hadn’t had the time to clear the room out. Anjali was always there. And now he had to get away. How long before they found that will? He wiped his mouth nervously then ran his hand through his hair. The phone rang. It was the cab company. His cab was downstairs. He hurried down the stairs and jumped into the cab. ‘Union Station,’ he said.

The unmarked car followed at a safe distance. The men inside called up Terry. ‘He’s in a cab. Headed out.’ He gave Terry the cab company name and number.

Terry called the cab company. He needed to know where that cab was going.

The radio in the cab crackled on. ‘Cab 142, 4-10 please. Did you pick up the passenger yet? Over.’

‘Roger.’

‘What’s your destination? Over.’

‘Union Station, over.’

‘Thanks, 142. Out.’

Terry listened to the cab company relaying the message as he and Ryder ran out to their car. They turned on the sirens and headed towards Union Station.

Shyam sat nervously looking out of the window. He could vanish very quickly. Besides he still had Rani Sahiba’s bank account to fall back on. He could always talk his way out of anything with her. He smiled. The cab driver glanced in the rear view mirror and caught the smile of a predator. He shuddered. He hoped this man wasn’t thinking of anything to do with him. They pulled up in front of Union Station and all of a sudden three police cars blocked them in - all with sirens flashing.

Terry got out of one of the cars. He strolled over to the cab door and opened it, ‘Going somewhere, Mr. Shyam Manohar Jha?’ he asked pleasantly.

Ryder came over and pulled Shyam out of the cab. Turned him around and slapped handcuffs on him. ‘Mr. Shyam Manohar Jha, you are under arrest for the attempted murder of Arnav Singh Raizada, Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, Anjali Jha and the murder of Baby Jha. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law....’

*****

A week later. Brown shook open the newspaper and saw the photos. ‘Guys,’ she called out to Terry and Ryder. They came over and she laid the paper out so they could get a good look at it.

Arnav Singh Raizada and his wife, Khushi Kumari Gupta had made the news. They looked like royalty in their gorgeous wedding finery, smiling at each other in what was an unguarded moment. In the next picture, he had his arm around her, kissing her forehead, her left hand was on his chest. They had finally tied the knot.

‘And they lived happily ever after,’ said Ryder.

‘Amen to that,’ said Brown.

******

11 comments:

  1. Wow!!!......just wow!!!!!

    If the CVs show even 20% of what u've written I'd be very happy.......amazing Madhu.....

    Payal.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Brilliant Madhu !!! Absolutely loved reading it... and yet another sleepless night for me !!! Hahahahha !!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. wow...Madhu...Absolutely Brilliant & Fantastic!!!!
    loved it so much!!
    how I wish, that CVs had shown even a little bit of what you've written!! your shyam's analysis, that how he works on fulfilling others' needs & gaining trust...was in full use here!! i could think of all those analytical posts you had made on these characters...superb...just too WOW!!

    aditi07

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey,

    I've just come across your blog and got to reading your SS's. Your story makes me nostalgic, it had all the charm that old IPK used to have, and all the intelligence it should have had during the wedding track. I loved the change in geography and how well it translated to the actual story. In one word, I adore this story. Makes me wish for a redo of IPK.

    ~Ridz

    ReplyDelete
  5. Madhu, I felt like I was watching a live telecast of CSI New York!!!! This was amazingly fascinating and thrilling... Very well written and executed... Loved the detectives roll-play with the Raizadas... I only wish if the CVs also had covered all the points like u did, which they sadly missed out in the show... This is definitely a better version and here at least justice was served.. Thank u so much for this...

    ReplyDelete
  6. wow brilliant stuff

    wished the IPKKND had gone along this line

    ReplyDelete
  7. just awesome i found it now only
    it was superb i loved it
    detective investigation of anjali's miscarriage and shyam's crimes and he got jailed iis the best news
    ARHI lived after happily
    best update u r just wow
    devishree from india forums

    ReplyDelete
  8. Awesome story!!!!!! I just loved the way it was written....so different!!!! An American crime show....wow!!! A different concept and written very well....u are a very talented writer, my dear!
    - Mel

    ReplyDelete
  9. (IF ID cineraria, commenting as Anonymous because for some reason blogger is not letting me use my wordpress account) Oh dear this was an absolutely fantastic read. Something I saw happen years ago being played in front of me in such a riveting fashion. The characters were so them and yet it was altogether a new and much better version of what we were shown. The LO angle made it so much fascinating. Thanks for this wonderfully written tale.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This was brilliant! Its a shame they never did this in the real show.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Brilliant👏👏👏 I loved the way you took the story ahead with the police involved unlike how they did it in the show with Arnav n Khushi doing all the work...
    Very very well written... Had me hooked to every word..

    ReplyDelete

Please leave a handle with your comments if you are commenting anonymously.. so that I can thank you, and PM you when I update.