Friday, November 9, 2012

Walk the Line - Chapter 51

Khushi stomped over to her desk and started putting her stuff away. Angry tears were filling her eyes and she wiped the back of her hand surreptitiously over them. She wasn’t going to give in and cry. Not for him. Not anymore. She was done! Pamela stood by silently watching her pack.

‘I’m so sorry, Khushi,’ she sniffed. She was genuinely sad to see her go. She reached out and hugged Khushi, who was glad to have one friendly shoulder. The other girls stood around them in a circle, someone rubbed her back.

‘Ms. Gupta!’ the imperious voice called her. She looked at him across the room. ‘My offer still stands, Ms. Gupta,’ there was real anger lacing his voice.

‘Thanks, Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada, but no thanks.’ She picked up her boxes and walked over to him, waiting for him to move aside so she could leave. He was glaring at her, looking into her eyes, and she couldn’t look away. Each of them aware of their own heartbeats, and the rising color in Khushi’s cheeks. She broke the eye-contact first, lowering her lashes and side-stepped him, as she walked out the door.

His eyes followed her, unable to look away. As she entered the elevators, she looked over her shoulder straight at him. The look jolted him to the core! He noticed the bruised look under her eyes. So she wasn’t as unaffected as he’d thought. He watched as the elevators closed on her, and then turned to face the girls around him.

***

Khushi drove home, feeling torn. Seeing him today, all of a sudden, had been ... exhilarating! But then, he’d started all that nonsense with the job. Well, she’d show him. She’d get another job. Having Sergio Madrid as a mentor had its uses and she was going to use it.

Parking her car, she walked into the house, but it had the empty feel of a house with nobody in it. ‘Mom?’ she called anyway. ‘Mom? Are you there?’ No answer. She sighed. Hefting her things in her hands, she made her way to her room. She put the box carefully down, and then her bag and laptop bag. She changed out of her dress into a simple cotton shift and flats. Then she sat down on the bed, and cried her heart out, sobbing into her hands, deep, heart broken sobs. How could he? Just turn up out of nowhere and suggest she go with him, just to get back her job? What did he think she was?

She’d missed him so badly these past weeks. She’d wanted to call him. God knows she’d wanted to. But he hadn’t called her either. The least he could do. Now he turns up out of nowhere and ... Aaarggghh!!! She was frustrated and angry, no, Furious with him! She’d show him. She picked up her phone and dialed.

‘KKG, querida,’ boomed Sergio. ‘Como estas?’

‘No es bueno, Sergio,’ her voice was subdued. ‘Not good.’

‘What happened?’

‘Feminine Divine got taken over. And I lost my job,’ she was sniffling. ‘I’m looking for a job again.’

‘Khushi,’ he was apologetic, ‘lo siento! I’m sorry. I heard about the take over. But why would they fire you?’

Her cheeks burned, she couldn’t tell him - because of one pompous ass of a man named Arnav Singh Raizada! ‘I guess because I was the newest. I’m .. I really need another job, Sergio.’

‘KKG, I would take you right away, but the position has been filled and right now, I have all the designers I need. Sorry, mi querida. Really sorry.’

‘Thanks, Sergio,’ she said. Dammit!

‘If there’s anything I can do, I would do it. If you need references, let me know, okay?’ he asked.

‘Sure. Thanks, Sergio,’ she said before hanging up.

She sat cross-legged on the bed, turning on her laptop to start her hunt right away. Most of the fashion houses were in New York. The ones she wanted to work in, at least. She was biting her nails going through the list when she heard her mother calling her.

‘Khushi?’

‘Coming, Mom,’ she shut the laptop and went downstairs.

Her mother was standing in the hall, watching her walk down, noticing the slight puffiness around her eyes. She must be missing Arnav, she thought, blissfully unaware that though Arnav was the cause of her tears, it had nothing to do with missing him.

‘What are you doing home so early?’ she asked.

‘I got fired, Mom,’ she said woefully.

‘What?! but why? What happened?’

Just fell in love with a jerk, she thought. ‘The company got taken over. They fired five people, including me. Streamlining Operations, they said,’ biting through the quote.

‘Oh, my love,’ her mother hugged her. ‘I’m sorry to hear that. But look on the bright side. You can take a few days off, and just relax for a change.’

Sigh. ‘Yes, Mom, I guess I could.’ She turned away. And what exactly was she supposed to be doing with her days off? she thought savagely. ‘Come away with me,’ his voice whispered in her head. She shook her head to clear it out, and went back upstairs to start her job search again.

****

On Thursday evening, Arnav sat with NK by the pool, cold beers in hand, relaxing on loungers. The week had been busy, but he had finally found the time for himself.

‘Nannav, it’s really great to see you again, you know,’ NK was actually thrilled when Arnav had shown up at their house today. Not that he was surprised. He knew the email would make his slightly dumb older cousin take some action.

‘So, how’s things?’ Arnav was regarding his beer with great interest.

‘Oh! Things are great. Mostly thrilled about Khushi, you know. It was great news to hear about Shyam and Rani Sahiba getting caught. And now, this.’ He took a sip of beer, swallowed, burped. Arnav wanted to shake the news out of him. ‘You know the email I sent you about her marriage? Well, it seems this guy has come back to the US this week. So any day now, he should be coming to meet her.’

‘Really?’ Arnav crushed his beer can.

NK took another sip, and said, ‘Ah! Nothing like a beer by the poolside, what d’you say Nannav?’ NK asked with an innocent cheery smile.

‘Yeah,’ said his Nannav, sarcastically. ‘It sure is!’

He’d had enough. He got up and said, ‘I’ll go say hello to the Guptas and congratulate them.’

‘Hold up, Nannav, I’ll come with you,’ NK jumped up.

The two of them were just heading towards the Guptas when Mrs. Dutt came out. ‘Where are you going?’

‘To Khushi’s house, ma,’ NK said. ‘Nannav wanted to meet them.’

‘No need to go there, now. They’re coming over for dinner, so you can talk to them here itself, Arnav. Come on in, both of you,’ she said.

Anna and Shashi arrived around seven that evening. Both of them were surprised to see Arnav there. Khushi hadn’t mentioned anything about him being in town!

‘Arnav, this is a pleasant surprise! When did you get here?’ asked Anna, giving him a hug.

‘Last week,’ he replied, returning the hug awkwardly.

‘Where’s Khushi?’ asked NK.

‘Oh, she’s out with a friend,’ said Anna. ‘Poor thing. She was very depressed.’

‘What happened?’ NK wanted to know.

‘Didn’t she tell you?’ NK shook his head. ‘Evidently, her company got bought out and they let her go.’ Arnav could feel his ears burning. She obviously hadn’t told them who the new owner was!

‘So, Arnav, what brings you to the US this time?’ Shashi changed the topic thankfully.

‘I had some business here,’ he said.

‘Yes,’ Mrs. Dutt piped in. ‘He’s come for some business. He’s not even staying with us but in downtown, at one of the hotels there. And only now he found time to meet his aunt!’

Arnav smiled although it looked more like a grimace. He looked into his glass wondering how to broach the topic.

Dinner passed with pleasantries, and finally the Guptas were ready to go home. Mrs. Dutt was trying to persuade Arnav to stay back for the night. He begged off with the excuse that he had an early morning meeting. Although, he did offer to walk the Guptas home before he left. He really wanted a quiet word with them.

The Guptas let themselves in and invited Arnav in, as well.

‘Make yourself comfortable, Arnav. Coffee?’

‘Thanks, sir,’ he said feeling distinctly uncomfortable.

‘I’ll put some coffee on,’ Anna headed off to the kitchen.

‘Sir, I really wanted to talk to you. Did Khushi mention that Shyam had also been arrested before you returned?’ he asked, getting straight to the point.

‘She did tell us what happened,’ Shashi said.

‘I’m sorry I exposed her to the danger. I promised you I would look after her,’ he said. ‘I never thought they would find my farm house.’

Anna came in with a tray of coffee, cream and sugar. She handed him a cup and said, ‘Arnav, you did the best you could. You kept your promise. She’s out of danger for good. So, it all turned out well in the end.’

‘Yes, they finally got life sentences, both of them,’ he informed them. He looked from one to the other.

‘I know I promised to look after her while she was in India. I’d like to do that ... ,’ he stopped, wondering quite how to phrase it. ‘NK said something about her marriage being fixed.’

They looked at him, puzzled. ‘Marriage?’ Anna asked. ‘Arnav, what are you talking about?’

‘NK said that she was getting married. To some NRI?’

They both burst out laughing. Shashi shook his head. ‘What NRI?’ he was chuckling. ‘I don’t know what NK told you, but that certainly is not true.’

Arnav could feel the blood course through his veins again. He was going to have NK’s blood! But first, he had more important matters to settle.

‘Sir, I’d like to ask you something,’ he began.

****

He left the Guptas and was walking to his car when he heard the familiar growl of the Mustang. He could see the headlights coming down the road. He stepped into a patch of darkness next to a bush.

Khushi drove up to her house, and parked in the driveway. She got out and locked the car, hitching her bag on her shoulder.

‘Enjoy your date?’ came the soft voice startling her. She squeaked in surprise and spun around.

He came out of the darkness and walked up to her.

‘You!’ her eyes popped open as her mouth rounded in that perfectly kissable ‘O’.

He shook his head at her. ‘You’ve got to find another way to say hello, Khushi,’ he tut-tutted. ‘You’re repeating yourself.’

‘Well then, stop startling me,’ she said, holding a hand to her heart which was still thumping hard from her surprise at seeing him. But it wasn’t slowing down anytime soon.

‘So. Enjoy your date?’ he asked again.

‘Very much,’ she said, nose in air.

‘Bet he didn’t do this,’ he husked, swooping down to place a soft kiss on her cheek. He wanted to hold her, but kept his hands in his pockets. If he held her, he wouldn’t let her go.

She put a hand against the burning cheek.

‘Good night,’ he said, turning and walking away. Then he stopped, turned and looked at her still staring at him. ‘Pack a weekend bag tomorrow. We’re going away in the afternoon.’ He turned and walked away.

She stood staring at him. What?! What did he mean? Going away? She watched him get into the Corvette that she hadn’t noticed parked in the Dutt’s driveway, start it, expertly reverse it and drive away with a deep-throated roar. Her mouth was still open as she watched the tail-lights disappear.

She pushed open the door and walked in still in a daze. Anna walked in from the kitchen and said, ‘Oh Khushi. You just missed Arnav. He had come by for coffee.’

‘Uh-huh,’ she answered.

‘By the way, he asked you to keep a bag ready. He wants to make an early start tomorrow afternoon. Make sure you pack for the weekend, dear.’ Anna planted a quick kiss on her cheek and walked away.

‘Huh?’ Khushi had this feeling that her whole world was going mad. First Arnav. Then her mom. What the heck was going on?

She lay on her bed, totally confused. Had her parents really said that they were okay about her going away with Arnav for the weekend? And why should she go? He hadn’t even asked her if she wanted to go. She turned on her side. Unbidden memories of the last time at the farm house flashed into her mind. A weekend away? Her stomach twisted at the thought. Her eyelids fluttered closed and she slept, but even in her dreams all she saw were a pair of caramel eyes, and a voice calling her name in the throes of love.

4 comments:

  1. Do I need to repeat myself.... Fantastic ! Loving ASR here... And although predictable, but loved NK's little prank !!!!

    52 please !!!!

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  2. Ooooo....NKz blood......ahahahahaha......Khushi terey pyaar mein kya kya na kia ASR ney!!!!!

    52....:)

    P.S. Poor Khushi....;)

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  3. What astory you have written! Have been engrossed in reading it since last evening. Couldn't sleep through the night as I really wanted to find the end. Now I am nearing he end and I don't want it to get over. This is the paradox.

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  4. Oh oh NK is in for a tongue lashing, mahbe Lavania gave him the idea? Why is he coming in to her life this way, really winding her up, why not just sweep her off her feet , preferably with a ring on her finger

    ReplyDelete

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