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.
“Oh I’m sorry, where are my manners,” Khushi suddenly said. She pointed a hand towards Rahul, “This is Rahul Mehra. Rahul this is Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada,” she pointed towards Arnav. The two men shook hands. “and his… guest?” Khushi ended vaguely pointing at Vanshika whom she obviously didn’t know.
Arnav suddenly remembered his set up for the evening. “My date,” he replied haughtily, pulling her closer to his chest, “this is Vanshika Khanna.” Arnav noticed Khushi was now gaping at Vanshika with awestruck eyes and found his lips curving into a smirk. This is exactly why he hadn’t cancelled his date; Because he wanted to see Khushi’s reaction. His ego swelled up. This was so worth it! He thought smugly to himself. However, while he was busy scanning Khushi’s face for her reaction, Vanshika had grabbed Rahul’s hand and was now wringing it enthusiastically.
“Rahul, I’m such a big fan!” Vanshika gushed at him. Rahul eyed the gorgeous thing in her low cleavage sultry dress. Then he smiled invitingly at her. “You are?” Rahul replied back to Vanshika with a smouldering look. That’s all it took for Vanshika to walk out of Arnav’s embrace and be standing next to Rahul within the flash of a moment. Arnav stared disbelievingly as he stood by the bar like an idiot; his arm still outstretched holding nothing but air while his date flirted with the actor. What the HELL?
“Awww, they look so cute together, don’t they?” Khushi’s whispered sweetly as she moved away making way for Vanshika and ended up next to Arnav. He quickly withdrew his arm to himself and glared at Khushi. Vanshika was his trump card for this game and now that she had unceremoniously dumped him! And to make matters worse, the woman for whom he had planned this elaborate set up was now mocking him. Again!
“Can you ask your date to behave?” Arnav snapped at Khushi in irritation as he watched Rahul slowly sliding his hand down Vanshika’s backless dress. Khushi laughed.
“Are you crazy, Mr. Raizada? He’s not my date.” Still laughing, Khushi summoned the barman. Arnav looked at Khushi, his mouth dropping open.
“What do you mean he’s not your date? You came with him!” Arnav exclaimed. Khushi shrugged nonchalantly as she placed her order. “He called you munchkin!” Arnav ploughed on stressing on the word in a disgusted voice, when she didn’t reply. “And, he took you for a drive in his Audi!” Khushi took a long sip of the light blue drink, and closed her eyes dreamily. Arnav glared at her for ignoring him again. Finally, she kept her glass down and turned to face him.
“Yes, I came with him. Yes he called me munchkin. Yes he took me out for a drive. But how does that make me his date?” Khushi asked him. Arnav now stared at her in confusion feeling frustrated with every passing minute at not getting any answers from this elusive woman sitting in front of him.
“Mr. Raizada,” Khushi started again in a patient voice, “I used to counsel Rahul during his troubled early years in the industry. He is a dear friend who didn’t have a date for his own launch party and so he requested me to accompany him. I thought I could hook him up here with someone. Obviously he didn’t need my help for that,” Khushi ended her monologue, her gaze shifting towards a sofa in the distance where Vanshika and Rahul were cozying up to each other. Arnav too followed her eyes and as he saw his date running her fingers on Rahul’s chest, he turned away from them angrily.
“I feel like I’m a match maker,” Khushi said dreamily. Then she suddenly stopped and looked at Arnav. She misread the waves of anger emanating from him as his resignation. “Oh, cheer up, will you? I saved your life!” Arnav ground his teeth in anger. She just robbed me of my date! Okay maybe not directly, but she did come with that ass didn’t she? And now she is asking me so casually to cheer up? The nerve of her!
“Scotch on the rocks,” he barked at the barman ignoring Khushi’s words. He couldn’t believe his luck. He had been the envy of the party because he had walked in with the hottest woman in the room and now he was sitting with his crazy therapist at the most happening party of the most happening club in the city. Un-frikkin-believable! The barman hands his drink.
“I’m telling you, you are better off without her. She’s not a good woman,” Khushi went on relentlessly. Arnav turned to stare at Khushi.
“And, what the hell do you mean by that?” Arnav asked her scathingly. Khushi doesn’t flinch or react to his anger. She pulled her bar stool closer to Arnav and summoned him to come closer too. He looked taken aback at her antics.
“I recognized her the moment you took her name. That is why I was shocked as to what you were doing with her.” Arnav stared at her as he realised Khushi’s wide-eyed look was not of awe but of shameful recognition.
“Word has it,” Khushi whispered conspiratorially to him, as if letting him on in a secret, “she has become a Supermodel by sleeping her way up. You know casting couch and stuff?” Arnav’s stare became more pronounced. “She is quite a, I believe the scientific term is,nymphomaniac!” Khushi whispered the word rather scandalously.
Arnav’s jaw dropped down at hearing this. Wasn’t that every man’s dream? He looked at Vanshika in the distance, her leg now draped around Rahul’s leg. He silently cursed feeling the promises of any late night escapades with the long legged supermodel now evaporating into thin air. He downed his drink in one go, held his head in his hand and let out a groan. Khushi, having completely misunderstood his reaction, slowly patted his back comfortingly.
“It’s alright Mr. Raizada. You don’t have to thank me. As your counsellor, I have your best interests at heart,” Khushi said cheerfully. Arnav raised his head and turned to stare at her in disbelief, his hands starting to itch. Can I strangle you please? He wondered as he summoned the barman for his second drink.
The meeting with the subject at Avlon was positive. In accordance with his file, he does seem to be interested in the s**ts of the society. However, the unplanned date-stealing-fiasco worked wonders. He seemed quite like an active volcano at the lost prospects of getting any action tonight. I hope the 6 glasses of scotch he downed (on my tab!!) put him to bed and rather than egging him for some desperate late night booty calling.
Khushi finished writing in her diary, kept it carefully in her bedside drawer and went off to sleep.
Arnav Singh Raizada was a prim and proper man. He liked order in everything. Be it his sleeping on the right side of the bed with the quilt perfectly tucking him in, his rigid schedule of waking up at 05:45 A.M., running for 5.2 miles at a speed of 6 miles an hour, having toast, eggs and fruit for breakfast and catching up on the Wall Street Journal and Economic Times newspapers on his way to work; precision and balance ruled his life.
Which is why when the housekeeper walked in to clean the room the next morning, she was utterly shocked to see her boss lying sprawled across the bed at 08:10. The quilt was lying on the floor and his face was on the edge of the bed with one of his arms falling down and touching the floor. Something that looked disgustedly like early morning drool had stained the sheet under his face. The maid had never seen such mess in the room, even when boss brought a woman home. Sighing in exasperation, she shook Arnav’s foot a number of times when he finally responded with a loud grunt.
“Leave me alone Khushi!”
“Sir, it’s me Anita,” the housekeeper replied loudly in a stern voice, wondering who the hell was Khushi. Arnav immediately looked up from his bed, his eyes wildly gazing around to familiarise himself with his surroundings. “You are in your bed, in your room, in your house.” Anita continued sternly as she parted the curtains allowing sunlight to flood into his room. Arnav immediately shielded his eyes with his hands. His other hand went to his head as he rolled over on his back and groaned again. His head was aching with a dull throb.
“Anita,” he croaked in his morning voice. “Can you get me a coffee please? I have a terrible hangover.” Anita cocked up her eyebrows in surprise.
“Hangover on a weekday? Tch tch tch, you know better than that Sir!” she replied. “If I were you, I would have taken note of today before going on a boozing binge.” She said admonishingly as she picked up the quilt from the floor.
Arnav removed his hands from his face as he looked at his housekeeper in confusion. “Today? What about it?” he asked.
Anita dumped the quilt on the bed and rested her arm on her waist in disbelief. This was the one important event in the entire year. An event for which he had been harping for over 3 weeks already. “It’s the Annual meeting of your general investors?” she asked him. It took all of 3 seconds for Arnav to get out of bed and run to his washroom.
“Stupid!” It was the twelfth time Arnav had cursed out loud. He couldn’t help it! He had gulped down three coffees since the moment he woke up and still it wasn’t doing anything to help his hangover. And to think nothing happened with the supermodel. And to think he had made a joke of himself yet again in front of the other loony woman. And to think he had indeed gone on a “boozing binge” the night before, as Anita had pointed out. “Stupid!”Thirteenth time. Why the hell am I keeping count, damn it? Arnav wondered as his car slowly made way towards the Grand Minerva.
His mobile started ringing and he picked up it hoping it was his PA calling to confirm about the arrangements. Alas –
“Good morning, Mr. Raizada!” the cheerful voice boomed from his phone. Arnav moved the earphone away from his ear for a moment. Think of the devil, and the devil reads your mind telepathically.
“Good morning, Ms. Gupta,” he replied brusquely. He was in no mood to engage in conversation with her so early in the morning when he was already running late for his own meeting.
“How are you feeling, Mr. Raizada? How is the hangover?” she continued but now sounding concerned. Arnav grit his teeth.
“Manageable, thank you,” he replied curtly.
“Wow, aren’t you bright eyed and bushy tailed?” she said teasingly. Despite not being in front of Khushi, his eyebrows shot up in amazement. So it was a donkey yesterday and a squirrel today? Seriously where does this woman find such references? Arnav squeezed his eyes with his free hand.
“To what do I owe the pleasure, Ms. Gupta?” he asked in resignation while the chant of “She’s a Devil! She’s a Devil! She’s a Devil!” played in a loop in his mind.
“Oh nothing much, I just called to check on you. Have a good day!” She said brightly and before Arnav could reply anything, disconnected the call. Arnav stared at his phone in utter confusion. She just called to check on me? Arnav wondered incredulously. Who the hell does she think I am? An invalid?