Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Walk the Line - Chapter 48

Khushi closed the door to her room, and went and sat down on the bed. She wanted to call him. She had a few bones to pick with him, she thought, looking at the text message again. She put the phone down and got ready to go to bed. Simple cotton pajamas were her best friend she thought. Turning out the lights, she curled up under the comforter and closed her eyes.

Sometime later, she wasn’t sure when, the buzzing of her phone woke her up. She turned on the night lamp and sat up in bed, before picking up it up.

‘Why didn’t you call?’ his voice was quiet, rubbing over her like warm velvet.

‘I fell asleep,’ her voice was low and husky.

‘Just wanted to tell you. We’ll leave early, okay?’

‘We aren’t going shopping, are we?’

‘Do you want to?’ he was all concern, wanting to do what she wanted to do.

She shook her head, a smile finally coming to her face. ‘How does it matter what I want to do?’

His temper shot up, ‘What?! You really believe that?’

A soft giggle at the other end, and he broke into a smile too. ‘So what are we doing tomorrow?’ she asked instead.

He smiled. Not so easily, Ms. Gupta, he thought. ‘Just wear something casual,’ he said and hung up.

She looked at the phone. Damn! I didn’t get to yell at him for what he said this morning, she thought.

The morning dawned bright and clear. Khushi woke up early as usual and decided to avoid the gym, opting instead for a swim. Ten laps later, she went back in showered and changed into a pair of slim blue jeans and a bright fuchsia top, looked at herself in the mirror and took that off, before finding her red tee-shirt. A spritz of D&G, a bit of pink gloss and her Oakley sunglasses. She slipped her feet into comfortable soft flat chamois pumps and picked up her bag. She was ready for the day.

Breakfast over, Arnav and she headed out the door, completely unaware of the gossip session that started as soon as they were out of the door.

‘I bet Bro asks her today,’ said Akash.

‘I hope so,’ Anjali agreed.

‘But what about Khushi?’ asked Payal. ‘I don’t know what she feels about him. I mean, she is way more secretive than he is.’

‘Did you ask her?’ asked Mami.

‘I did. But she avoids it,’ thoughtfully.

‘It’s not like she’s avoiding him,’ Akash piped in.

‘No, and yet...’ Payal was worried. There was something else here, that Khushi was not letting her in to.

****

Arnav had plugged in her iPod to his car. Sister Hazel it was today - perfect lyrics to an upbeat rhythm
Finally I figured out
But it took a long, long time
But now there's a turnabout
Maybe 'cause I'm trying

There's been times, I'm so confused
All my roads, They lead to you
I just can't turn and walk away


It's hard to say what it is I see in you
Wonder if I'll always be with you
But words can't say, And I can't do
Enough to prove,
It's all for you

‘So you like the nineties, hmmm?’ he looked over at her, trying not to acknowledge how perfect this song was – the lyrics said it all. She was wearing the red t-shirt and he couldn’t help feeling quite happy about it. Red tee, jeans, D&G and Oakley – his perfect woman.

She smiled. ‘There were some good ones,’ she acknowledged, ‘but mostly, a lot of one-hit wonders.’
I thought I'd seen it all
'Cause it's been a long, long time
But then we'll trip and fall
Wondering if I'm blind

There's been times, I'm so confused
All my roads, They lead to you
I just can't turn and walk away

It's hard to say what it is I see in you
Wonder if I'll always be with you
But words can't say, And I can't do
Enough to prove,
It's all for you

They listened quietly to the song, the wind blowing in through the open windows. He loved that she hadn't tied up her hair today. Once in a while, an errant strand would blow into his face and he reached out his hand to slowly move it off his face - only for safety’s sake. Nothing would hurt his Khushi anymore. Nothing.

Rain comes pouring down
Falling from blue skies
Words without a sound
Coming from your eyes

Finally I figured out
But it took a long, long time
But now there's a turnabout
Maybe cause I'm trying

There's been times, I'm so confused
All my roads, They lead to you
I just can't turn and walk away

It's hard to say what it is I see in you
Wonder if I'll always be with you
But words can't say, And I can't do
Enough to prove,
It's all for you

Khushi couldn’t quite figure out his mood. He seemed happier, lighter. The tension lines were gone from his face. He hadn’t bothered with gel today, so his silky hair flopped all over his brow. Her eyes ran down his body, taking in the powder blue full-sleeved tee, pulled up to reveal corded forearms, paired with cargo khakis and running shoes. The ever-present aviators covered his eyes, and a smirk lit the corner of his mouth.

‘Like what you see?’ he asked staring straight ahead.

She blushed, and looked out of the window. Suddenly she realized where they were going. ‘The farmhouse!’ she exclaimed. ‘We’re going to the farmhouse?!’ part-question part-statement.

He grinned at her. ‘Yes. We need to talk. And I don’t want to talk in front of the whole zoo.’

‘What about?’ she was a bit apprehensive.

‘Wait till we get there,’ he said.

She shrugged trying hard to look nonchalant. Looking out of the window, with her heartbeats accelerating it was hard to do so.

About fifteen minutes later, they turned onto the familiar dirt road.

***

Neither of the noticed the black SUV that stopped about a kilometer and half down the road. The light and shadow cast by the trees along the road camouflaged the car effectively. In the front seat Lallan turned and looked at Shyam Manohar Jha in the passenger seat.

‘That man?’ he asked.

‘Yes, we have to take care of him, and take the girl as well.’

Lallan exposed his tobacco stained teeth is glee. ‘Don’t worry, boss. We can do it.’

The two of them watched the car draw up to the verandah. They watched as Khushi and Arnav got out of the car and walked up. He opened the door and let her in. Two minutes later, they watched as he came back out, and picked up something from the back of the car, and then went back in. They waited for about 10 minutes.

‘Shall we go?’ Lallan asked.

‘No. Wait,’ Shyam held up a hand. ‘Give them about an hour to settle in. They won’t be expecting us then.’

Lallan looked at Shyam with admiration and said, ‘wish I learnt how to think like you, boss.’

Shyam looked at him and thought, that’s why I am the boss and you follow my orders.

****

Arnav put the gun down on the bedside table before heading out to the courtyard. He hadn’t wanted her to know that he was still carrying it in the car. The fact that Shyam was out there, was still there at the back of his mind. Ratan had called him to tell him that unfortunately the SIM card they had found had been damaged and they hadn’t been able to retrieve any information from it.

Khushi was still playing with his dogs. He stopped to look at the scene in front of him.

Never in his life had he thought he would fall in love. Love was something that had never figured in his plans. Love was an idealistic state where somebody becomes so important in your life that you lose sight of your own self. For a man who prided himself on his control on his life, the idea of giving up that control to someone was anathema. No way did he want to put himself in that kind of position. The idea that someone’s presence or absence would influence his life in any way was a laughable proposition.

Now, as he looked at Khushi, he realized that she had become that one person for him - the person whose smile made everything a whole lot better, the person whose tears tore at his gut. When she was frightened he wanted to just wrap her in his arms and take all her fears away. Let her know that as long as he was there, he would stand in front of anything and anybody that would hurt her. That he needed to see her face every day for the rest of his life. He savored that thought in his mind. What would it be like, he wondered, to wake up next to her everyday? 

Arnav Singh Raizada welcomed love with his arms wide open.

He had walked over to her, and the dogs turned on him, jumping and licking him. He knelt down to pet them, laughing with her at their unconditional joy at seeing him.

‘Arnav,’ Uttam had come out of the kitchen into the courtyard.

He got up and shook hands with the older man. ‘Uttam,’ he said.

‘Arnav beta, I’ve got lunch prepped. I’m going to go help in the stables with the horses. I’ve put some snacks in the family room and some juice if you need it. I’ll come back and prepare lunch for you.’

‘Thanks, Uttam,’ Arnav said.

‘Come Tom, come Jerry,’ Uttam called the dogs who obediently went to him, ‘I’ll put them in the kennel for now, out of the sun.’

‘Sure,’ Arnav gave the dogs a last pat, before they followed Uttam out of the courtyard.

He turned to see her smiling at the dogs and Uttam walking away. ‘Let’s go inside,’ he suggested. She followed him out of the sun, into the family room. It was a cosy room with a TV on a wall, comfortable sofas and seating areas, with lots of pillows and cushions - suede, leather and cotton. A tray of munchies and a tall glass of lemonade stood on a side table. The room was done is a soothing blend of blues and greens with brown and gold accents. A bookshelf lined a wall.

She looked around appreciatively and said, ‘Who designed this room?’

‘Me,’ he said. ‘I like comfortable stuff, so - this room is basically my hideout here.’ He poured a glass of lemonade for her and held it out.

She took it and walked around, admiring the rustic prints on the wall. Splotches of bright color, livening up the egg-shell blue. He came up to her, took her hand and led her to the sofa. She curled up on one end, feet tucked under her, face towards him, while he lay back and rested his head against the back. They talked desultorily for a while, skirting the one topic that was in both their minds. Tomorrow loomed large over their conversation - yet both were shying away from it.

She shifted on the couch, starting to put her feet down on the floor, when he caught her ankle and placed it on his lap, inviting her to put her other foot there too. He looked down at her feet, gently kneading them, his thumbs digging into the base, drawing a satisfied groan from her. He kept his head bent, completely focused on his task.

‘Ah! That feels so good, Arnav,’ she murmured. He turned to her and smiled suggestively.

‘That’s not all I am good at,’ his voice was husky, meaning completely clear.

She struggled with a blush before saying, ‘do you want some coffee? I noticed you didn’t drink any lemonade.’

He contemplated her a moment before saying, ‘Coffee would be good.’

She pushed herself off the couch. ‘I’ll go make some.’

‘Thanks,’ he got up too. She leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the cheek. He was surprised at the gesture.

‘That’s for the foot massage,’ she said impishly.

The imp did a little ‘va va voom!’

‘If that’s the reward I get for a foot massage, what’s the reward for a full body massage?’ he asked.

‘Ah!’ she exclaimed, then fluttered her eyelashes at him like Betty Boop. ‘That’s for me to know and you to find out.’

He burst out laughing as she walked out of the room, swaying her hips just a tad too much.

‘Woman, you kill me!’ he called after her. All he heard was her laugh as she made her way to the kitchen.

He turned away and walked to the music system standing in the corner. Crouching down, he flipped through the CD drawer, found the music he was looking for and was starting to stand up, when the blow struck him.

It hit him squarely with in the ribs with a dull thud. He staggered back, dropping the CDs in his hand. For a moment, he closed his eyes in pain and then opened them to see Shyam in front of him. He stayed doubled over, watching to see what he would do next, one hand holding on to his rib cage.

Shyam smiled, a menacing twitching smile, as he said, ‘So, Raizada, we finally meet. And now we’ll have to say goodbye too. How sad.’ He lifted the hand, which held a small .22 gun in it. That was what had struck Arnav in the ribs. He’d been aiming for his head, but Arnav had stood up just then, and connected with his ribs instead.

At five foot ten, Shyam was a couple of inches shorter but a lot more heavier with his muscle mass. Arnav estimated the distance. He carefully placed his left foot slightly behind his body, shifting his weight on to it. His right leg came up and out, straight from the hips, the outer edge of his foot connecting with Shyam’s forearm with a thud! He howled and dropped the gun.

Shyam raised his eyes and looked into Raizada’s. What he saw would have stopped a less manic mind than his. Cold, flat eyes, looking straight at him. There was no fear, no anger, no pain, no nothing. He felt a chill go through him.

Arnav stood in the guard position, waiting, waiting for Shyam to make his move, eyes narrowed, mouth a thin straight line. Shyam put up his hands, boxers stance and ASR smiled. There was no mirth in it. Shyam feinted with a right, followed with a left hook, aiming for his jaw. Arnav saw the feint coming, stood his ground, and then moved into the hook, grabbing his forearm, and pulled it forward. Shyam’s momentum kept him going, but Arnav’s right arm connected with his solar plexus. A short jab that knocked the wind out of him. A foot under his foot yanked him back. He fell flat on his back, but sprung back up immediately. He rushed at Arnav this time, seeing red. Arnav waited till he was almost on him, before lightly stepping away, twisting on the balls of his foot, his leg once more tripping up Shyam. He fell against the coffee table, picked up the jug and tossed it in Arnav’s face. Arnav leaned sideways, bending almost impossibly, and the jug went sailing by, smashing against the wall and dripping juice all over the place.

Arnav kept his attention focused on Shyam. But his mind was on Khushi. She was in the kitchen. As long as she was there, she was safe, he thought. Stay there, Khushi, he silently whispered to her. Just stay there. Shyam was once more charging at him, dancing around him, his arms sticking out in little jabs, that he blocked and blocked again. The next time, Shyam jabbed, he came into the blow, blocking his fist with his hand, holding him at bay. Shaking with the effort. Then he yanked. Shyam had been pushing and the sudden forward pull caught him off-balance, he slid forward and Arnav was able to connect once more with this stomach. Finding a vicious glee in being able to thump this man, who’d hurt his Khushi. Almost as the thought entered his mind, he heard her voice, a thin scream, ‘Arnav!’

He jerked around and Shyam’s fist connected with his jaw. He spun around, staggered, momentarily closing his eyes at the pain. He opened them and shook his head, just as Shyam connected again with his temple. This time, he was ready for it. He stepped into Shyam’s arms length. Landed a one-two-three, pushing Shyam away, following him as he backed into another table.

‘Arnav!’ he heard her call again. He spun around and raced to the door. Shyams arms came around him like a vice. He contracted himself, dipping downwards, and elbowed Shyam, hearing a grunt. Shyam’s arms dropped away, and he ran out the room, tearing towards the kitchen. Cursing himself for not keeping the gun at arm’s reach. He heard Shyam coming after him, but he tore across the courtyard, his longer legs eating up the space and then came to a halt.

Lallan was holding her in the kitchen, a hand over her mouth, the other wrapped around her waist trying to pull her with him. She had her arms wrapped around a pillar and was clinging to it for dear life while he tried to pull her off it.

Arnav took one look at them and saw red. Nobody touches Khushi! The thought ran through his head, and he rushed forward, Shyam punched him on the shoulder. He leaned forward with the blow, his right leg swinging back from his body, straight into Shyam’s stomach. He threw out his arms, cartwheeling up the steps and coming up straight in front of Lallan. He crouched, his knees flexed, arms close to his body, hands like claws. He kept his gaze on Lallan, all the time aware of where Shyam was from his peripheral vision. He had to get Khushi free first.

Lallan stared at him, still trying to pull Khushi free. She was looking wide-eyed at him.

‘Let go, Khushi,’ Arnav said softly.

Lallan pulled her, and she let go. The sudden lack of resistance unbalanced him as he went down on his back. Khushi was faster. She ran.

‘Run, Khushi!’ she heard Arnav yell, before he went after Lallan. Shyam had been coughing from the last blow, but now he also jumped into the fray. The three of them went down in a tangle of arms and legs. Khushi ran as fast as she could. She raced towards the stables, heart pumping, gasping for breath. Dimly she heard the dogs barking. She could see Uttam and the stablehand running towards her. She veered towards the pen, opened the door and let the two dogs out.

They raced towards their master who was by now trying to stop both of the men from going after Khushi.

Lallan felt a heavy weight on his shoulder, and then a sharp nip on his ear, he turned around to look straight into long fangs and a snarling Great Dane. Tom had got one. Jerry went after Shyam, jumping on him with both feet on his chest and bringing him down.

‘Gaurd, boys!’ Arnav gasped. Uttam and the stable hand arrived just then. ‘Get some ropes, Uttam,’ he managed to say while gulping in air.

The stablehand ran to get them. Ten minutes later, Shyam and Lallan were trussed up like Christmas turkeys, sitting out in the hot sun in the courtyard. The two dogs stood guard, while their master and his mistress petted them, and gave them little treats.

***

Ratan arrived with three other agents. Arnav’s call had caught him by surprise. He had to give it to these two. They’d single handedly caught the two people that the police had been after for six years. In fact, if it hadn’t been for them, there would have been no arrests. Shyam and Lallan were handed over to them and they left to go back to Delhi.

Arnav watched them go. The day he had planned had not gone at all as he had wanted to. Damn Khushi! He thought with a little chuckle, life is way too unpredictable around you. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. He winced as pain shot through his ribs. That first blow still hurt.

The imp shook his head and sat down wincing where his butt hurt.

***

5 comments:

  1. Madhu ur Arnav is killing me.....hez so damn perfect!!!!!

    The fight seq was soooooo.....alderlinez still running in my system.....I just kept cheering for Arnav to come out on top!!!!

    Now A can do what he came to do.....cant wait for Khushiz response.....but I guess a little first aid & some TLC to banta hai na... ;)

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  2. Mads... once again brilliant... and once again, couldn't resist till tomorrow... Finally Shyam's arrested too ! Khushi is completely safe now... except from Arnie boy !!! ;-)

    And it's Friday !!! :-D


    Can't wait for 49....


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  3. Mast update Mads... u pls dnt skip the first aid like in the show ;)cant wait for the next update :D

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  4. I love the fact that you give as detailed description of the fight scenes as you provide for the hot scenes.. and it helps so much witht the fantasy visualization!

    p.s. the imp's butt hurt? awwww!

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  5. Goodness whst a day, starts out with the two of them just being free but turns out with a punchup, and Tom and Jerry saving the day.. Thank goodness they were great danes and not beagles. The fight scene was awesome and for a minute I thought that Shyma got the better of Arnav, nope yes he could rein in the fists as much as he wanted now.

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