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!
“Nothing!” Khushi immediately hooked a reassuring smile on her face. “Look Mr. Raizada, the police Impound of CHV Nagar is at least 5 kilometers from here. It will easily take an hour in this traffic for your back up car to arrive. And it is already 06:30 now. So unless you are Superman and can fly to the Impound carrying me in your arms, I don’t see how else we can make it there on time.” She finished as if it was the most normal thing to say.
Arnav remained silent.
“Oh my God! Are you?” Khushi suddenly gasped in a dramatic manner, with her mouth dropping open. Arnav looked at her in confusion. Am I what? Khushi shot again, “Superman?” He immediately pursed his lips, narrowing his eyes. God please give me patience so that I don’t strangle this lunatic. He closed his eyes, bowed his head and took a deep breath.
Then he lifted his head, looked at Khushi with a forced smile on his face (which made it look as if he had tooth ache) and calmly said, “Fine. Let’s get this over and done with.” He got into the autorickshaw. Khushi allowed herself a small smile before joining him.
The fifteen minutes ride to the Police Impound was perhaps the most amusing journey undertaken by Khushi in a long time. Be it Arnav’s gasps as the auto weaved its way in and out of the traffic, or the angry curses when they sped over bumps on the road; repetitive noises from her co passenger kept Khushi engrossed all through. She glanced sideways and almost giggled to see Arnav sitting on the edge of the seat, holding the railings of the autorickshaw as if hanging for dear life. The scared expression on his face looked so adorable that Khushi wanted to reach out and pinch his cheeks. But then she reminded herself, probably that would be the last straw for the person who already looked nervous as hell.
“We are here!” Khushi exclaimed after fifteen minutes of travelling.
As Khushi paid (again) the auto driver, Arnav warily looked ahead at the dimly lit yard with a decrepit looking two room office up front with a rusted board propped at the entrance. “CHV Nagar Police Impound” was stamped in bold letters on it along with the Delhi Police logo under it. There were two gates on the either side of the office, one for IN and the other for OUT. There was only one huge fluorescent lamp standing erect on top of the building. The whole place looked dark and spooky to Arnav. He looked sideways towards Khushi and raised his eyebrow.
“What?” Khushi retorted reading his expressions.
“And you come here often?” Arnav asks her remembering when she had haughtily told him her car had been towed several times. Khushi beamed a cheerful smile at him. He shook his head exasperatedly and started walking towards the office. Let’s get this over and done with. But he suddenly stopped as Khushi rushed in front of him and halted him placing her palm on his chest.
Arnav stared from her hand on his chest slowly to her face, clearly surprised with her action. She then licked her lips moist. Arnav’s stare became more pronounced. She’s puckering up? What the hell? But that wasn’t the end and he couldn’t be mentally prepared for what was to follow; Khushi smoothed the front of her dress and actually pulled it down a little so now cleavage was clearly visible. Arnav felt his mouth dry up suddenly.
“What-” was all he’s able to croak out, but Khushi interrupted him. “Am I looking ok?”
Arnav suddenly felt like his lips were sewn up. She had been wearing the same thing all day. She had been sitting right next to him all the time. And yet what changed now? Her being mere inches away? Or her glistening pink lips? Or her ample bosom popping up and saying “Hey there!”? Arnav gulped. “You… you look…” HOT!! “… fine, Ms. Gupta.” Khushi’s smile evaporated immediately to be replaced with a pout.
“You’re hard to impress, I see,” she said and before Arnav could retort, she started walking towards the office with a strange gait. Arnav couldn’t help but stare at her swaying hips, something strange happening to his breathing. Well, apparently he wasn’t the only one.
The police officials sitting on duty were already watching her with dazed eyes, no doubt thanking their lucky stars for sending this voluptuous looking angel. Khushi sauntered to the one sitting closest to the door, his fat belly threatening to burst out of his uniform any second. Arnav followed her inside wordlessly.
“Hello Sir,” Khushi cooed, batting her eyelashes at the awestruck policeman. “Actually Sir, our car got towed from RV Road some time ago. We were wondering if you could help us out please?” The policeman looked at Khushi’s appearance, his eyes lecherously pausing for a moment near her bosom. Arnav’s eyes narrowed.
“Of course, madam!” he replied courteously and turned towards another direction, “Markhe! Get me the file!” he barked. “Madam, do you have some verification proof? Maybe your Driver’s licence?” he asked reverentially. Khushi turned to Arnav and beckoned to him.
“Actually the car belongs to him,” Khushi said pointing to Arnav. The policeman dropped his courtesy at seeing Arnav and took his driver’s licence from him.
“Arnav Singh Raizada,” the policeman repeatedly disgustedly. “You were driving the car?” he shot at Arnav. He nodded, his jaw getting more rigid by the minute. The policeman shook his head irritatedly.
“These big shots think they can park anywhere as if it is they own the roads,” he muttered as he started taking down the details. “If you can’t read traffic boards, why do you drive?” Arnav clenched his fingers into a fist, the irritation rising inside him. Khushi was smiling enthusiastically at Arnav but it slowly faded away as she saw his pursed lips. Oh boy!
The policeman tore the chalaan ticket and Arnav paid him the fine money. Then he signed on the register and that was all! The policeman checked that everything was in order and dismissed Arnav with a wave of his hand.
“Be careful of where you park. I’ll not be so easy on you the next time, understood?” the policeman scathingly said to Arnav.
“Sir, we are really sorry. It wouldn’t happen again, we promise,” Khushi said politely. The policeman smiled back at her, his lewd gaze still flitting between her cleavage and her face. Arnav ground his teeth. Khushi was walking out towards the IN gate when Arnav caught hold of her hand. Khushi stopped and turned around looking surprised at the physical contact. Arnav wordlessly removed the coat jacket he was wearing and put it around Khushi’s bare shoulders, hence covering up her exposed neck and cleavage. Khushi’s looks of faint surprise were replaced by utter astonishment. She looked down at Arnav’s nimble fingers, dexterously doing up the buttons as well. Her hands were jammed to her body!
“Mr. Raizada -” Arnav placed his finger warningly on her lips, stopping her retort midway. Khushi’s eyes widened at his unexpected gesture.
“You have been most helpful, Ms. Gupta,” he said bluntly. “But I need you to remain here for a few minutes now. Can you do that?” His eyes were ablaze with anger. Khushi felt a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach, like something was doing cartwheels there. She could feel goosebumps erupt all over her bare arms, just listening to that angry baritone. She gulped hoping to whet her suddenly dry mouth and slowly nodded her head.
Arnav walked back inside the office building while Khushi hovered by the door trying to eavesdrop.
“Mr. Rastogi?” Arnav said to the bulky policeman who had given him his chalaan ticket. Rastogi looked up haughtily.
“What is it? Oh! It’s you! Car got towed again so soon?” he guffawed at his own joke. “Oh you didn’t bring that candy girl with you?” Arnav seethed.
“The person whom you just called “candy girl” happens to be my friend,” Arnav replied curtly. “You want to know who else is a friend of mine? The Commissioner of Delhi Police.” Rastogi’s laughter stopped abruptly.
Rastogi stood up irately, “Is that a threat? Are you threatening me? In my own Impound? How dare you?” he thundered.
“Oh Mr. Rastogi, I would have actually punched the living daylights out of you right now.” Arnav’s voice was smooth as silk, hardly bearing any traces of the fury he was feeling. Rastogi’s eyes widened as he quickly checked out the curve of his biceps outlined under his shirt’s sleeves. Khushi too looked on at the scene, horrified. But then Arnav sighed. “But I’ve promised someone to be on my best behaviour, so I’ll let you off with a little piece of my mind.” Rastogi looked at Arnav apprehensively.
“It’s rather sad for you, isn’t it that I happen to be friends with the very man who authorizes your transfers?” Arnav followed, Rastogi paled. “Because a transfer is very much needed for a lowly perverted bas***d like you, who gives his prick an ego boost by drooling at women who come to seek assistance from him.” Khushi gulped again, suddenly feeling conscious about her apparel. “Let’s see where he throws you off; maybe to a far flung place where they hang men by their balls for having such lecherous aspirations.” Arnav concluded, his eyes were yelling that he’d like nothing less than to murder Rastogi then and there.
Then without another word, Arnav walked out of the building, placing his palm on Khushi’s back and steered her along inside the dark yard looking for his SUV. Khushi peeked at the angry man walking next to her. His jaw was still set rigidly and she could feel the anger emanating from his body. Being his anger therapist, not such a good work to get him angry, Khushi.
Arnav was seething. He was literally seeing red, and God only knows how he had restrained himself from smashing that scumbag policeman’s face on his table when he was ogling at Khushi. And Khushi! What the hell was she thinking really? Almost as if she’s heard his thoughts, she cleared her throat audibly. He ground his teeth again. Can’t she remain silent for two f**king minutes?
“WHAT?” he saw Khushi flinch at his loud retort. She fidgeted uncomfortably.
“Uhm, can you please unbutton your coat so that I can actually use the sleeves?” she mumbled innocently. Arnav stilled for a moment, watching her with a deadpan expression. How did she do it? Get him all worked up one moment and look at him with those eyes and make him melt down instantly. She really did look cute, the sleeves hanging limply by her side while her arms jammed by her sides making her unable to move. Arnav sighed and came closer to her. Khushi’s eyes widened.
Deftly, he unbuttoned the coat. She looked up at his face, his eyes focussed in concentration to get it right in the darkness, his stubble looking all the more pronounced from the proximity, his lips looking inviting… Arnav leaned closer to pull the coat off her and Khushi’s breathing hiked up. Then he slowly walked behind her and held the coat in his hands. Feeling very conscious of herself, she slipped her arms into it. Arnav paused for a moment behind her. And then Khushi froze as she felt Arnav’s soft hands brushing her neck as he gently took out her mane of long silky hair from the inside of the coat and rested it carefully by one side of her neck.
“Better now?” he asked, facing her again. Rendered speechless, Khushi merely nodded her head once and started walking again. A little later, Arnav located his SUV and unlocked it. They both got inside and buckled their seat belts into place. Arnav turned on the ignition and pulled out of the parking spot, out of the OUT gate and onto the road. There was a pin drop silence in the car, with Khushi taking worried furtive glances at Arnav at regular intervals as if he’d physically combust in front of her any minute.
“What?” he snapped again, after catching her eye him for the fourth time. Khushi instantly looked straight ahead.
“Nothing! Absolutely nothing!” she replied a little too hastily. Arnav’s brows furrowed into a frown. Finally, unable to control herself, Khushi blurted out, “I’m just glad that you didn’t punch the guy.”
Arnav rolled his eyes. This woman could never stop. He let out an audible sigh of resignation. “No, no hear me out!” Khushi continued insistently. “You’ve already punched eight people at the last count! Not denying that the policeman would have completed the tally to 9 which is your lucky number,” Arnav stared at Khushi in bewilderment. Lucky number? What lucky number? “But then,” Khushi continued as if she was having the sanest discussion in the whole world, “I personally think it wouldn’t have been lucky for you at all. Him being a policeman and all.”
“Okay, first of all, the official record is that I’ve punched 6 people not 8,” Arnav clarified. “And secondly, each of those assholes deserved it, including the policeman whom we had the pleasure of meeting,” he concluded scathingly.
“What did they do?” Khushi suddenly asked, no trace of humor in her voice. Arnav rose his brows questioningly. “what did they do to deserve your… punch?” Khushi asked.
Arnav frowned at her first suddenly feeling unsure if he should be sharing that information with her at all.
“You can tell me,” Khushi suddenly said, reading his expressions closely. “I won’t tell anyone. God Promise!” she swore earnestly.
Arnav could feel his lips curving up in a smile at her words, but he looked straight ahead and started talking. “The first time was when some guy had made a derisive comment at my sister when she was buying things at the supermarket.” Arnav murmured. “The second was when someone had insulted my date calling her a s**t.” Khushi felt the corners of her lips lifting up in a smile as she remembered the Vanshika fiasco.
“The third time was when someone had lewdly whistled at my sister as we were walking around in the antique market.” Khushi felt her brows rise inquisitively. Antique market?“The fourth was when someone had grabbed the arse of my air hostess friend whom I was walking out of the airport. The fifth was when a jerk had misbehaved with my 15 year old niece while taking her out to a club and the most recent one… well you know all about that one already.” Arnav ended his violent tales of blood and gore (quite literally).
Khushi kept silent and looked out of her window watching the streetlights flying past. They both spent the rest of the journey in silence (for which Arnav was extremely grateful).
“This is me,” Khushi declared as Arnav halted the car outside her apartment gate. Khushi slipped out of his coat and handed it to him. “Thank you for… the coat and the day,” she said with a polite smile. Arnav nodded at her once and watched her bound inside towards her apartment building. He drove away, thanking himself that the crazy day had finally ended.
The subject showed signs of improvement today. I could see him reign in his anger at two important junctures where he’s had history of aggression. Somehow, I feel there’s more to it than it appears. Interestingly, his past incidents of violence were always related to interactions with women. Hmmm. Most interesting indeed.
In other thoughts, antique shop? Really? I thought it was him who was the stone faced antique haha.
So he doesn’t like music. Hmm. Will have to do something about that.
Oh, btw I probably should not say this being his counsellor and all, but the subject looks… hot when he is pissed…
Khushi paused as she remembered his touch on her neck as he took her hair out of his coat and placed it neatly by the side of her neck and a cold shiver ran down her spine again. She firmly shut her diary and kept it in her bedside table drawer and went off to sleep.
The elevator pinged and the steel doors parted to let Arnav walk to his Penthouse apartment. His tired feet dragged his weary frame straight to the bedroom without even bothering about any dinner. The hot dog from earlier today had been heavy enough. Arnav suddenly burped as if his stomach had suddenly read his mind. He sat down on the edge of his bed and slowly started untying his shoe laces, flashes of the afternoon and evening flashing by his eyes.
The beautiful garden, Khushi in the blue dress, the peaceful lunch, Khushi’s serene smile, him placing his coat on her, her big doe-eyes, her puckered lips, her swaying gait, her lustrous hair… Arnav suddenly froze. What the hell? Stop thinking about her! He reprimanded himself and fell down on the bed, willing sleep to sweep him away.