Chapter 10

Her glossy hair glimmered in the faint sunlight. Her cheerful face hovered just inches above his. Her eyes were shining brightly, almost as if they were the sun themselves. Her perfect pink lips were parted slightly to show the pearly whites of her teeth. She was gazing at him, her head slightly tilted. She was coming closer, almost as if she understood his yearning. Her nose made the first contact with his. He shivered in delight. He wondered if her momentary touch could make him feel this way then what would he feel when she’d actually embrace him? She was coming closer, her lips just inches from his and then she…

… started licking him!

Arnav snapped his eyes open in utter shock only to find a furry face inches from him, lapping up his face enthusiastically. He groaned loudly.

“OSCAR! No!” Arnav admonished and pushed the Golden Retriever pup away from him with a shove of his hand. He closed his eyes trying to identify the woman he had been dreaming about. Her soft ethereal beauty had seemed so… familiar. But he hadn’t been able to see her face as a whole. Realising his mind wasn’t going to be able to dig up her image from his subconscious, Arnav let it go.

He stretched in his spot, cracking the joints of his limbs when his mind registered the rigidness he felt in his back. “Ouch! What the hell!” Arnav groaned loudly and tried to sit up. That is when he properly noticed his environs for the first time.

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Chapter 9

“And so Mr. Raizada, according to our estimates, the Autumn Collection will be…” the associate giving the presentation faltered in the middle of his monologue. He took a wary look around at the other people sitting in the boardroom and cleared his throat, “…will be slightly delayed beyond our schedule,” he finished flat, gazing at Arnav guardedly, waiting for the inevitable bursting of volcano.

“I understand, Mehra,” Arnav replied calmly. “Can you please liaise with the Designer team and the Production team and try to get this move along as quickly as you can? Let’s try to cut losses of time wherever we can, yes?” Arnav picked up his stack of files and stood up. “Thank you for your time, gentlemen. Let’s hope we meet with some better news the next time.” And with that, he walked out of the conference room.

Mehra stood rooted to his spot, his jaw visibly dropped. Arnav hadn’t blasted off, he hadn’t shouted, hell he hadn’t raised his voice even once! Mehra wondered how the active volcano had become dormant overnight.

Arnav Singh Raizada was a restless man today. For someone who always was in control and on top of everything going around him, this new feeling felt alien on so many different levels. It had been three days since he had last heard from Khushi; actually, three whole days and three whole nights to be more precise. It was so unlike her to just disappear. Well it had seemed unlike based on the first week of their interaction. He had made excuses, he had avoided her, he had not hidden his anger tolerating her company, oh he had been quite blunt at times too. But she had always tagged along, completely immune to his displeasure. And so, yes it was unlike Khushi Kumari Gupta, that irritating lunatic of a woman, to just… disappear like this…

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Chapter 8

Khushi’s heartbeat thudded loudly as she looked into Arnav’s angry eyes. And there she’d thought that she had had a breakthrough that day. She awkwardly withdrew herself from his grasp and smoothed the front of her dress. Then she took a deep breath and walked on to the main road where she started waving her arm like a windmill. Arnav gaped at her in astonishment.

“What are you doing?” he hissed at her.

“I thought you said we are going to the Impound,” she replied curtly.

“Yeah, so why are you… stopping an autorickshaw?” his voice ended on a horrified note as an auto stopped next to them. Khushi smiled back at him.

“How else do you want to get there?”

“I’m not sitting in that thing! I’ll call for another car,” Arnav retorted and quickly took out his cellphone.

“You do know that the Impound closes down for retrieval at 7:00, don’t you? Hasn’t you car ever been towed before?” Khushi asked raising his eyebrow at him.

“Never!” Arnav exclaimed disbelievingly. How could she think my car could be towed? Arnav Singh Raizada’s car? The nerve of it! “Obviously YOUR car been towed numerous times that you are privy to that information?” he added scathingly

“Hell yeah! Plenty of times!” Khushi replied happily as if it was a big achievement. Arnav gaped at her. Seriously? “I can’t figure out most of the traffic signals for the life of me!” Khushi added in a casual tone.

“WHAT?” Arnav’s voice again rose. Oh God, she is unbelievable!

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Chapter 7

Khushi had excused herself to quickly freshen up and get ready, while Arnav sat down on the sofa, looking slightly dazed. What just happened now? He wondered. Khushi was standing close to you. An inner voice spoke up in his mind. She was looking at you with her beautiful big eyes. Arnav gulped as he remembered Khushi’s hands brushing his chest.And then she tried to strangle you with your tie, the voice finished smugly. Arnav pursed his lips at the last thought and rubbed his throat slightly. She really is a lunatic, he thought to himself annoyed.

The door clicked open behind him and Khushi walked out wearing a bright azure coloured dress reaching down to her knees. All traces of morbidity were wiped off her face. She looked positively… radiant! Her eyes were sparkling with just the right amount of kohl and were just as beautiful as he remembered them from their first meeting. He gazed at her in awe. The annoyance that had risen in him unexpectedly was nowhere to be felt. Then, Khushi smiled at him genuinely, all traces of her anger wiped off from her demeanour, and he immediately looked away, clearing his throat.

“Uhm, so you’re ready to go then?” he croaked shrilly. Khushi giggled.

“Are you alright Mr. Raizada? You sound a little uhm… girly,” Khushi cooed. Arnav narrowed his eyes, no wonder reliving the “chick advice” part of their conversation from earlier. He cleared his throat again.

“Yes I’m perfectly fine. After you, Ms. Gupta,” he replied sternly as he pulled the door open for her. Khushi smiled at him charmingly and got out of her house.

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Chapter 6

It is said that a car often defines the person driving it. For instance, the Mercedes C300 sports sedan was the most sought after vehicle for a businessman of a high stature; it stood for everything that big shots yearned for – class, luxury and power. And so, one in three top ranked businessmen owned one to have them driven them around in style. Arnav Singh Raizada, however, differed when it came to cars. He preferred SUVs over sedans primarily because the machismo which SUVs brought to the scene thrilled him. Their power, speed and rugged exterior established the no-nonsense attitude that Arnav always stood for. He had two such magnificent black beauties parked in each of his office and home garages; a Toyota Fortuner and a Land Rover.

And so, when he rushed down to the basement of AR towers that morning, he shook his head at the driver seated in readiness at the wheel of his Mercedes and rushed to his Fortuner instead; the need for the day was speed over luxury. He quickly set the destination on the GPS perched on the dashboard and revved the SUV out of the parking lot. The driver stared in utter confusion as his boss rushed away.

Even though Arnav could never accept it up front, he had very less experience with women other than the night time cavorting at his apartment. He could never tolerate tending to the whims and fancies of the female species and so he had never bothered to extend the relationship beyond a dinner and a wild night of showing his prowess in the bed. What was the need really? He was a handsome, single, filthy rich businessman and there was no dearth of hot women who were perfectly happy to abide by his requirements. And so, Arnav Singh Raizada, the biggest womanizer since Casablanca himself, was at a complete loss about the precarious situation he was in.

Khushi had been crying. No, she wasn’t crying. She was on the verge of crying, Arnav reminded himself as he pressed down on the accelerator. But what happened so suddenly that she had switched from happily cheerful to melancholically sad, he wondered with a worried frown. He could still remember her groans on the phone as she had begged him to come over to her house immediately. He shook his head in exasperation. Female species was such a mystery to him. Well there was no other way to find out other than by meeting her face to face. And with that thought in mind, he dexterously weaved in and out of the traffic throwing an occasional glance at the GPS as the voice cooed the instructions.

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Chapter 5

The Annual meeting of the general investors was one of the most important events in Arnav Singh Raizada’s calendar; an event that merited weeks of preparations, many sleepless nights of his auditing and finance departments who toiled in compiling figures of profits; figures which were presented to the benefactors of the company who came salivating to hear about their returns and left satiated with further plans to put in more money. Of course, an invite to one of the most posh hotels of the city – The Grand Minerva – was like the icing on the cake for the investors. But truth be told, it was Arnav’s convincingly suave style of oration that did the trick of sweeping them off their feet; he was adept at switching between his charming persona for the ladies and his rugged businessman facade for the gentlemen at a moment’s notice.

Well, that is what happened till last year.

In the past 2 hours since Arnav had hobbled on to the main stage, he had messed up the sales figures, tried to joke about his newest business venture which didn’t remotely sound funny even to himself, and flirted with a seemingly gorgeous woman who turned out to be the mother of the youngest model his company had hired. And yet, the lowest point of the meeting came when the investors didn’t look too happy about their future prospects in his company, which is when Aman took over and Arnav excused himself to the backstage citing health problems.

Thirty minutes hence, the gathering had dispersed off for tea in the coffee shop and it was just the two men sitting on the stairs of the stage. Aman handed Arnav a glass whose contents were fizzling. Arnav raised his brows enquiringly.

“Disprin,” Aman replied, “for your headache, Sir.” Arnav couldn’t help but notice his closest colleague’s disapproving tone. He nodded his thanks and took a sip.

“Sir, was that Tammana’s mother you were trying your charms on?” Aman finally asked after the customary moment of silence. Arnav sputtered into his glass and glared at him from the top of the rim of the glass. Aman burst out laughing.

“Sir, she is fifty three!” Aman exclaimed still laughing. “And if I may be bold to add, not your usual type,” he added good humoredly. Arnav sighed in reply. There was really no point getting his pants on fire with his manager’s cheeky comment because he knew it to be true.

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Chapter 4

It wasn’t often that Arnav Singh Raizada was rendered speechless. He didn’t know what had shocked him more; the fact that Khushi was superstar Rahul Mehra’s date or that she had actually been invited to a close circuit party at the Avlon or that she was looking breathtakingly beautiful in her figure hugging knee length evening dress. Try as he might, he just couldn’t help his eyes from checking her out from head to toe. Did she look this hot when she had met me in the Grand Minerva? Arnav wondered to himself. He stared at her in fascination as Rahul whispered something in her ears and she started laughing.

They were still walking towards them, no doubt coming to the bar. Arnav was distracted from Khushi for a moment by the frenetic woman he had on his arms. Vanshika was eagerly waiting for Rahul to reach the bar, no doubt with intentions of pouncing at him. Arnav squeezed her hand trying to calm her down when he heard an exclamation from behind him.

“Mr. Raizada! I see you made it!” Arnav turned around expectantly and sure enough he saw Khushi smiling at him. With a pang of surprise he realised he was smiling back at her.

“Ms. Gupta,” he acknowledged her with a nod. “I thought you were running late,” he said referring to the time.

“Oh I know! The traffic is such pain in this city. And Rahul suddenly decided he wanted to take out his new Audi for a test drive tonight,” Khushi looked at Rahul and rolled her eyes at him indulgently. He laughed at her remark. Arnav could feel Vanshika stumbling, probably feeling weak kneed by watching Rahul. He firmed his grip on her waist.

“You know me munchkin,” Rahul cooed to Khushi. “When I want something, I want it then and there!” he said and Khushi started laughing again, obviously enjoying some private joke between them. Arnav’s eyes narrowed.

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