Prologue: Tejawat had taken his own life rather than undergoing the BSD trial. The women rescued from Sharad Par were trying to rebuild their tattered lives. Paro had been fully acquitted, both by Rudra and the BSD. With the Thakurain's help Paro had set up an embroidery business in Jaipur employing some rescued women of Birpur. She had caught the eye of an upcoming designer duo & featured in their fashion show and was slowly winning orders & acclaim.
Birpur Palace decorated with glittering lights, soulful Rajasthani music wafting in the cool night air stood proudly like a jewel against the sands of the Thar. Who's who of erstwhile royalty, prominent and upcoming names of the fashion world were arriving at the palace. Some were driven by a macabre curiosity, some by a cold calculated business prospect and others by a genuine desire to help the women of Birpur. The Craft Council Showcase was a prestigious fashion event and the Thakurain had flexed considerable muscle to bring it to Birpur.
Parvati had worked a full day at her little studio before rushing to Birpur for the event. The turmoil that life had dealt her had sapped most of her confidence, every day was a fight to gain footing both within herself and the world outside. Today's event was important to herself and her team and she prayed fervently for help to get through the evening, knowing she would meet HIM!
"But Sir, What will I do at a fashion show?" asked BSD Major Rudra Pratap Ranawat to General Singh. "Its not a fashion show Ranawat. You will just be there! You need to bite this bullet for the BSD, we need to regain respect with the Thakurs of the region. Oh and dress code is formal" came General Singh's curt response. He had no business in the superficial world of fashion, he didn't want to meet his so-called mother the Thakurain or a certain beautiful face that could get under his skin in a trice!!
Parvati felt him before she saw him. Involuntarily her breathing quickened and a soft flush painted her face. Cutting off the person talking to her mid-sentence, she turned to look at him. Jai Ma Thrisula! She knew she was handsome, knowing the way his uniform showcased his fit form, that the kurtas he wore at home added a special charm but today..today he just took her breath away. Dressed all in black-suit, silk shirt and tie, back ramrod straight, eyes hooded he walked in .. "no prowled was the word" she decided, prowled in like a sleek panther. Dark. Lethal. Dangerous. As their eyes met across the room Parvati felt singed by the electricity between them.
Rudra didn't need to search for her, he just knew exactly where she was as he met her eyes across the crowded room. Dressed in a silvery white anarkali, her long hair flowing untethered down her back, bangles tinkling she looked ethereal. She was the Yin to his Yang , so perfect, so pure, so out of his reach that it was almost a physical ache just to look at her. A slow smirk appeared on his face as he imagined her reaction and that of others if he walked over, picked her up and carried her away. Away from all the trappings of society, from the pain others caused, away from everything but each other. "Would be nice you idiot, but she loathes you doesn't she? Jallad!!" the Devil inside goaded him.
Parvathi watched fascinated by the confident prowl, the pause when he saw her, the slow smirk and now shuttered eyes that she didn't notice one of the men in her group caressing her with his eyes. But Rudra saw it and stalked wanting to smash his face in. As Parvati watched with huge eyes, Rudra deftly stepped in between Parvati & the other man looking him in the eye. Clearly intimidated the other man stepped back as Rudra held out a hand "Major Rudra Pratap Ranawat BSD" " I.. ah Brijesh Talwar of the Marwa Talwars" he introduced himself. "Great" thought Rudra "another royal cub panting over her!" With a proprietary arm on her elbow and a challenging glance at Brijesh Whoever, he turned to Parvati "Hello Paro"
The minute he had stepped in front of her, Parvati was lost.. reminiscing about their first meeting when he had stepped in between the goons and taken a bullet for her, the many times he had been her wall between Maamisa, Sumer, her nightmares.
Remembering his greeting, she replied "Hello, how are you?"
"Surviving" quipped Rudra deftly walking her to the secluded, empty balcony.
"The balcony is for lovers not for us" thought Paro as she stood near him in the cool darkness perfumed by jasmine and night queen and lit by soft moonlight. "It's a night to be held securely in the arms of one you love, not fighting with one who hates you" she thought wistfully.
"So, are you really doing ok? Any problem in Jaipur let me know" Rudra questioned
"Yes, Major, I am really ok. Thank you"
For a long time they spoke about others- how her business was doing, about her Maamisa and cousin Nandhini. He told her his father was fine, had asked about her, opened up a little about his mother, about how he couldn't yet forgive or forget.
"Things will get better with time Major" she consoled
"What?" she was confused
"Rudra. I've told you many times to call me Rudra. Even Jallad is better than this Major nonsense" he said with a wry smile
She remained silent.
"She won't budge an inch" he thought defeated and then the demon inside woke up piqued by her denial. Until now, he had maintained a safe distance from her, for both their sanity. Before she could react he moved in behind her an arm on each side of the railing boxing her in but not touching her. He could almost feel her hair on his chest like a river of fire. She could almost feel his breath on her neck like the heat of the Thar. For the longest time neither moved an inch. They just stood savoring each other's presence, relishing the proximity, storing it away in the recess of their mind for their lonely nights.
His rough husky voice broke the silence " Say my name Paro.. call me Rudra"
Her body was shot by his, her mind scrambling "Why?" was all she could squeak out.
Gently as if she was a precious flower he turned her around. She wouldn't look him in the eye. So he tucked a finger under her chin lifting it up to meet her eyes.
His voice was lower, huskier almost pleading "because I want to hear you say my name.. please?"
Her knees were wobbly and she held onto his arm for support as she whispered "Rudra"
With a glint in his eyes, Rudra gently rested his forehead on hers "Pari"
"This is wrong, he is the reason for all your heartache, stay away from him" her brain screamed. "No, he is the reason for your salvation. Just walk into his arms" her heart begged. Dazed by the conflict inside her, she just stood there unmoving.
"Pari...Pari" He chanted the endearment in a whisper, kissing her forehead.
Just as quickly as he moved in, he moved away, leaving her confused.
"Lets go in" he said loudly thinking "before I do something stupid" to himself.
Dazed, she nodded allowing him to lead her inside.
The rest of the night was a blur. Paro couldn't say what she ate, whom she spoke to or what she did even if her life depended on it. It took every ounce of her resolve to fight the need to walk into his arms and stay there. Rudra was in worse shape. All he could think of was kissing her until the only word she remembered was his name.
Paro & Rudra stood there in the crowd straining to read each other's mind, to listen to each other's thoughts. Yet the past held them back. For now he would hope and she would pray that in the future they would hear each other's whispers and feel each other's touch and revel in each other's heart song.Edited by DDC1 - 2014-02-27T22:51:40Z
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