I dug, deeper and deeper in the past
What is with Arnav and the job offer? Even before that, I first guessed that he was standing with Anjali and the workoholic, but got it wrong, now why was he so interested in helping Khushi with Payal and alsonthe job offer... cannot wait to read more
Based on Prompt 7
Total words: 5206
Chapter 3 [2631 Words]
The clouds enveloped the city, ready to pour down copious amounts of rain. Khushi was sitting at the bus stop near her college, waiting for Payal. The bus stop had a small shelter that she was sure was no help if it rained. She watched a corpulent man walk towards the bus stop and stood a little away from her. Except that the always occupied bus stop was calm. Khushi stared at the sky and grimaced, she would have reached home earlier but Payal suggested she was leaving early, and she can pick Khushi. However, Payal had some urgent work in the last minute and apparently, she was running 40 minutes late now. Payal told her she would pick her at five and now it was 5:40 but no sign of her sister.
She found an empty can lying a few inches away from her. She looked at the dustbin kept a few feet away. Well, why not have some fun she thought. She stood up and angled her feet sideways and kicked the can targeting the bin, however, the can flew straight hitting the man on his shoulder.
"I'm sorry," she felt miserable. The man gave her a stern look but didn't say a thing. He turned away and kept looking to his right, waiting for his bus perhaps. She walked slowly and picked the can and threw it in the bin.
"I'm really sorry," she said again. He nodded, but didn't spare a glance and resumed his wait for the bus again.
After admonishing herself for the impetuous act, she picked her phone and dialed Payal's number, again.
"Yes, I'm almost there," Payal yelled from the other side. Khushi had to push the phone a little away.
"Okay," she cut the call.
She was meeting her friends at Lavanya's house to hang out before they went for the semester break. Lavanya, Akash, NK, Khushi have spent almost all the summers together. They have been friends since 6th grade and were quite a close-knit group. Lavanya was going to Amsterdam. NK was going for an internship in Pune, and Akash was going to laze around in Mumbai. Therefore, they decided to spend some time as Khushi will be gone for the whole semester.
Lavanya's parents were divorced when she was 6, and she was the only child. She stayed with her dad in a huge house. Her dad was in trade business and was out of town most days, and Lavanya had a caretaker, Lakshmi, a very fun and supportive person. All the parents were assured because Lakshmi stayed there if any trouble comes. So, they goofed around a lot at Lavanya's place.
They decided to meet at 9 and Akash was picking Khushi up. She was chatting with her friends planning their night out when her phone beeped indicating a message from Arnav. She was pleasantly surprised to get his message after so long. She quickly opened the message.
Arnav: Hi, I was wondering if you are up for a coffee. (FYI, not a date)
Khushi couldn't help but chuckle. Without beating around the bush, he came straight to the point. She never went out with any guy, not that anyone didn't ask her. A lot of guys did approach her, but she didn't feel that connection with anyone. Now, Arnav asked, and it was no different but this guy had a mystic aura around him and she felt a good vibe about him. What harm could a coffee do? So, she agreed.
Khushi: I am pleasantly surprised, but I'd join you for a coffee. :D
Arnav: Awesome. How about tomorrow at 5?
Khushi: Sounds good! Where?
Arnav: Let that be a surprise!
Arnav: So, where should I pick you from?
Khushi: Umm... is this your plan to find where I live. If so, it sucks! :P
Arnav: Ouch! Where did you get that from?
Khushi: :D Anyways, I'll share the location. See you at 5?
Arnav: Okay, have a good evening!
Khushi: Yep! You too!
She sat there smiling to herself when a car pulled in front of her and Payal looked practically messed. Her hair was no less than a nest. Khushi got up and gave an apologetic smile to the man and jumped into the passenger seat.
"What's wrong?" Khushi sniggered poking Payal's hair with her finger.
"Long story. Forget it. I'm sorry for the wait, babes. There was so much traffic on the way, and I got out to see what the mess was about, and kind of got wet and blasted the heater in the car and this is the result,"
"Interesting, by the way, Arnav texted," she told Payal, feeling the heat rise in her cheeks.
"Well, he asked me for a coffee, not a date, by the way," she added trying to act nonchalant.
"Wow! Not a date but just a coffee, classic!" Payal grinned at her, but she maintained a straight face.
"Come on, Payal. Just gratitude,"
"Aha! I see," Payal sniggered.
Khushi switched on the radio and let the music envelope space, changing the topic, but Payal was Payal after all.
He waited patiently for her, just one glance and that is all needed. Should he tell her how he felt for her? Is it the right time? Just when he thought he should tell her how he felt, she walked out from the room, her T-shirt hugging tight to her body, accentuating her structure, and the shorts showing off her legs. He felt all his thoughts evaporate.
"Ahem," Shashi stood in front of him. His gaze stern and intimidating, a tinge of predatory look.
"Hi, uncle," he greeted sheepishly. He was caught red-handed checking out Payal. Shit! If it were someone else, he would have been murdered then and there, but this was Shashi uncle. He felt so terrible.
"Akash," Garima saw him and walked to him enthusiastically.
"How are you? Did you eat something? Come with me, I've made your favorite sweets," with that the awkward moment passed. He strode to the kitchen behind Garima.
He watched Payal walk into the kitchen with an empty water bottle. She gave him a smug smile before filling water. He filled his mouth with a laddoo and tried to smile but coughed in return.
"Oh, careful Akash! Payal hand him some water," Garima lightly patted his back.
"Ugh...ugh... I am fine," he told them and gulped some water.
"Akash?" Khushi called him.
"I am ready, let's go," she told him and for the first time, he was more than happy to leave after Shashi's constant gaze fixated on him.
"You owe me...wait...$450" NK gleamed at Lavanya.
"That's crap, you moved your houses to Broadway, I saw you do that," Lavanya yelled.
They were quite engaged in playing monopoly.
"What's wrong Akash?" Khushi asked. He seemed oddly quiet and out of place. Everyone's gaze moved to him. He looked at them, weighing something in his head, before sharing his apprehensions.
"I will tell, but Khushi, promise me, you will help me as a friend," he made it clear beforehand.
"Okay," Khushi drawled, speculating something fishy.
"I...I was at your home today to pick you right?"
"This sounds interesting, and? NK snorted.
"Shut up, NK," Khushi shushed him.
"Well, I was kind of looking at Payal and uncle caught me staring," he told them, feeling flushed with embarrassment.
"What?" Khushi said and all broke into fits of laughter.
"This is why I hate you all!" he groaned getting up to leave.
"Sorry, sit," Khushi pulled him down.
"So, what do I do? I always respected uncle and never ever felt this awkward," he almost cried.
"Dude, you are checking his daughter out. We all know how you stare," NK smirked and added "Also, I never told you, I kissed Payal on her cheek once and Shashi uncle slapped me, here," he pointed to his left cheek.
Akash looked aghast and gasped for breath.
"Shut up, NK! He is lying Akash," Lavanya told him to pull him out of his misery.
"Look Akash, it is no big deal, everyone knows that you are head over heels in love with Payal, I'm not sure if mom knows, but dad knows," she told him.
"What?" Akash asked confused.
"Yes, so relax and now play, let's bring NK down," she said, startling NK who was shifting houses silently from one block to other.
She hasn't mentioned about Arnav yet. She decided she would tell them later.
Khushi waited patiently for Arnav to arrive. She told her parents that she was going out for a coffee with Arnav. Shashi agreed without a blink. However, Garima stipulated that she was to share her location and be careful, carry the pepper spray, etcetera. She groaned inwardly and simply nodded otherwise she wouldn't receive this abridged version of terms and conditions, instead will get an elaborated version of her mom.
She knew her mother was just being skeptical about Arnav, which was good, but she felt a good vibe from Arnav. So, she didn't doubt much.
At sharp 5:00 Arnav knocked on the front door and she answered the door. He looked every amount of handsome in that suit. What the hell! He looked so formal, and she was wearing casual jeans and T-shirt. IT IS NOT A DATE! She reminded herself.
"Hi," she heard her mom from behind.
That was all that was needed. Her mom connected to Arnav instantly, her previous speculations vanished into thin air. After exchanging pleasantries, they were out of the house.
"So, where are we going?"
"That is still a surprise," a lazy smirk settled on his face making him look gorgeous. This is the first time Khushi observed him. She was kind of preoccupied with Payal the first time they met.
"Umm," she was however dubious about the not a date theory!
"So, when are you planning to go to London?" he asked, killing the silence.
"In two days!" she told him as he looked at her.
He was a handsome, amiable man. She looked at the little scar that ran over his left eyebrow, accentuating his features.
Khushi was pleasantly surprised as he pulled the vehicle to a side and asked her to get down.
"Here?" she asked, quite taken aback. It was lush trees, and nothing was visible around.
"Yes, why, are you scared of me?" he asked leaning a little closer towards her and she moved a little away and shook her head.
His chuckle reverberated in her ears and she felt tingly.
"Alright, let's go," he opened the door for her and offered his hand.
"This is not a date!" she proclaimed and got out of the car without shaking his hand.
He couldn't help but smile. Closing the door, he walked to the trunk and got out a picnic basket, surprising her even more.
"What's in it?"
"Patience, come on," he led her through the wooded area, filled with lush green leaves.
They reached a small opening with a canopy of trees.
"Wow, this is so pretty!
"Indeed," he smiled as he settled her on one of the logs.
"And this is not a date!" she added sarcastically as she looked at him.
He poured in coffee from the thermos, and she eagerly looked into the basket he brought.
"Samosas?" she gleaned in happiness.
"Whoa! Looks like you love samosas," he brought in a plate and offered her.
"Are you kidding me? I love food!"
His gaze turned lovingly, and she smiled at him.
"Why are you wearing that suit?" she couldn't help but ask.
"I am coming from a meeting!" he said as he was now in his formal shirt and trousers.
"So, why did you ask me for a coffee?" she asked as she looked at him intently, this question sitting in her head for long enough.
"Honestly, I don't know," he said and looked every bit of genuine. She simply nodded before sipping in the hot coffee. Wow, she was having fun. They spoke for a long time, and everything was random.
It was almost 10:30 in the night when she reached her home. Khushi looked at him and felt the need to spend a little more time with him.
She waited for him to say something, but he kept staring at her.
"So, can that be counted as a date?" he asked her finally, breaking the stare game.
She peeled her eyes away and smiled at him.
"Maybe," she got down and walked towards him on the other side of the car, "or, maybe not!"
He laughed with alacrity as he walked her to the door.
"No offense, but the not a date felt better than a date," he added. She felt relaxed in his presence, she realized.
"I second that,"
"Okay, then! I don't know when we will meet again. Hopefully soon," he said and she felt a tug. She nodded.
"I had a lot of fun, and the food was amazing! Thanks," she said.
"Bye, Khushi, good night," he told her.
She didn't want him gone, but she didn't want to show that feeling surface.
"Goodnight, drive safe," he nodded before he walked back to his car and turning to wave her a final bye before she walked inside.
She expected her parents to sit in the living room and sighed in relief, and she didn't want them waiting for her, but she was unsure if she was blushing. That would make her very uncomfortable.
She refreshed and changed into her night clothes before settling on her bed. The time she spent with Arnav carried a boyish charm. He carried this panache in his personality that can make anyone like him. She didn't know when she would meet him again, but one thing was sure, there is going to be another meeting, she can just tell. Tomorrow was going to be a long day, with all the last-minute packing that was left to do. She closed her eyes and slipped into a peaceful slumber.
Anjali felt a little out of place. She didn't know why, but a fleeting feeling settled in her and it was hard to let go. So, the only peaceful way to overcome was to speak with her husband. He was apparently in the UK, to take care of some overseas business and she missed him terribly.
Raghbir was a successful man. He worked hard and took over his father's business and when he was 30, he married his love, Anjali. He ran a chain of hotels, simulation units for eminent industries.
"How come I haven't got any call since evening? his stern voice boomed from the other side.
She felt a sense of relief spread.
"I was with bhaiyya (brother)," she stretched her legs on the couch and laid back to let the muscles relax for a while.
"Oh, ok, how is he?"
"Yes, he seems a little offbeat, though! I am worried sometimes," she spoke her apprehensions to which her husband chuckled.
"You are always worried!" he mocked her.
"Now, stop it, if you don't take care of yourself, what can I do?" she countered.
"Let's call a truce, and I love you,"
"I love you," she spoke into the phone and closed her eyes.
"Are you okay?" he asked her, not hearing her continuous bubbly talk.
"I am fine!"
"Come to me, let us spend some time here," he suggested.
"Umm, but not until 5th, I got to attend the function,"
"Alright then, after the function is done, you can fly," he told her excitement evidently.
"Okay," she wanted to go see him. Right then, but the function was necessary. The orphanage is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and she wanted to spend time on that occasion.Edited by coolie001 - 11 months ago
Based on Prompt 7
Total words: 5206
Chapter 4 
Khushi woke up with dreams all desultory. The time passed so quickly that she had very little time to process her leaving home for the next three months. She felt the smell of Kheer come from the kitchen and smiled knowing that her mom was on home.
Quickly freshening up, she walked to the kitchen hurriedly and looked at her mom. Garima was busy preparing lunch.
"Where's Ganga?" she asked her mom, not seeing their cook.
"Oh, god! Khushi? You scared me," Garima held the counter for support, startled by Khushi's voice.
She could only giggle.
"How was your date?" Her mom asked.
"Mom, that was not a date," Khushi shrugged as she raised herself a little and sat on the aisle.
"Did you brush?" Garima asked her in a serious tone.
"Mom... I am not a kid," Khushi laughed.
"But, you are to me," Garima retorted.
"So, how come you are home? You told me you have to attend an important meeting,"
"I postponed," she looked at her mom, she looked a little upset.
"What's up mom? Are you worried about something?"
"No, why?" Garima looked at her and Khushi just then realized what was it all about. Her mom was missing her already. She smiled before jumping off the counter and hugged her from behind.
"I am going to be fine, mom! Don't worry," she told her.
"I know, you will," Garima smiled before concentrating on the pot of Kheer.
Finally, the day arrived, and she was all set to leave. She bid her byes and moved to check in. She watched the lights slowly fading, as she rose into the sky. The lights still glimmered, but the clouds blanketed in between. She closed her eyes, letting the tears out. It was for the first time she was leaving home. However, she felt oddly quiet in her head. She couldn't reason her feeling, maybe it was time to explore, perhaps! Well, she could only wonder.
As soon as she stepped out to the vision of beautiful London Heathrow Airport, the wind chill jolted to another notch. She rushed into the warm confines of the Airport and relaxed. A lot of passengers seem to be in a hurry as they rushed alongside her. Khushi claimed her baggage and took a cab and reached her flat.
London seems to be covered in a fresh batch of snow. The chilly wind promised to send shivers down her. She quickly messaged home that she reached safely and would call them back as soon as possible. The drive from the airport was almost an hour. The cab pulled into a silent locality and it was almost dark. She pulled her glove off before dialing in the combination to unlock the door. With a little difficulty, she pulled all her luggage into the apartment that she was subleasing for the next three months.
The one bedroom flat looked quite amazing. It was neat and well furnished. She locked the door and fell onto the couch. The journey slowing wearing her off. Turning her face towards the luggage, she realized everything can wait, but she needed sleep.
Her eyes opened to the constant ringing of her phone. As she opened her eyes, it took time for her to take in where she exactly was. Looking at her phone, she realized it was her dad. It was already 11 AM. Jet lag. She sighed, quickly answering her phone and got up to see her neighborhood.
How can that be possible? Advait slouched on his bed in shock and despair. It was slowly killing him. The past was consuming him every damn day! He gritted his teeth before throwing away the pillow in frustration. He quickly pulled out the drawer on the nightstand and clutched the medicine in his hand. Sleeping pills, his only aid to sleep. He quickly took the pills and drank in some water before closing his eyes, waiting for sleep to settle in and the thoughts to destroy.
Khushi walked into the well-lit building. RA Co. She walked to the reception and spoke to the receptionist. The old lady asked her to be seated, and she told that a certain person in contact would come down to meet her. Khushi settled in and looked around. The decor was too plain for an architecture and planning company she wondered. What does it say? Acceptance? Improvement? She was analyzing the theme and the lighting.
"Irritable or inept?" she looked up to see a handsome young man walk towards her. She brought herself out of the reverie and got up to shake his hand.
"Zachary, call me Zach," he had a pleasant smile and cheerful stance.
"Nice to meet you, Khushi," he led her to the elevator which took them to top floor.
Zachary was a medium height person, just a little above her 5'7". He wore a navy-blue suit that emphasized his broad shoulders. He told her about the number of departments that they have and a generic tour of the company. After about an hour and a half, he assisted her to the canteen for a breakfast. The canteen seemed blissfully calm, opening to an exquisite view of the Hudson.
"This canteen has the best view," Zach told her as he sat beside her on a standalone table that was attached to the glass facing the view.
"Absolutely," she could not deny. It indeed was the most beautiful view. She hasn't explored much yet but soon she promised. Once a routine kick in, she was eager to take off to view the city of love.
After a long silence, he spoke again, "Take a break after this, I shall meet you at the 6th-floor reception, I'll introduce you to your team, then we can go for lunch," Zach told her and she nodded.
Khushi wondered if she should walk around or just sit there and enjoy the view. Well, the morning tour was kind of tedious with all the walking. She decided to stay put and go through some of the points. Opening the itinerary, she realized that the day just began technically - Tour, Breakfast, Break, Team Meeting, Lunch, Break, Supervisor Meeting.
She watched the busy streets below and ahead, the skyline looking precious, and the sunny day exhilarating most of them. She wondered what story each carried. Taking her phone out, she focused on the view and clicked a few pictures. Payal will need them, or she was going pestering her to send photos. Khushi was not a picture person. She loved the way, her mind stores, the image, but photographs are memories to hold onto, so occasionally there was no harm.
After about 20 minutes, she walked to the elevator and waited for it arrives. As the elevator opened, she found it completely empty. She got in and waited for the 6th floor to arrive, but the elevator opened on the second floor.
"Anjali?" Khushi looked up and was pleasantly surprised when the man called her Anjali!
"Sorry," he spoke again, and Khushi tried diffusing the awkwardness. "Not a problem happens all the time with all the people, Khushi by the way, Interning with RA, which floor?"
"I... um penthouse actually,"
"Oh," Khushi pressed the P and waited.
"I am Raghbir, by the way," he pushed his firm hand forward and she shook.
"Nice to meet you," she told him, and he looked a little taken aback but she could only wonder.
"So, this is me," she told him and bid a bye. Once she walked out, did she realize the read letters pasted on the whiteboard above the elevator sign "ONLY FOR EXECUTIVES"
Raghbir was busy making points on his mobile when the elevator opened. He looked instant and was surprised to see Anjali.
"Anjali?" but soon he realized it was a young girl, who resembled so much alike Anjali. He was so shocked that he overlooked the fact that she was in the executive elevator. He couldn't deny the familiarity of the face. So much so that he had misunderstood her to Anjali. Well, when she told him she was interning at his firm, he realized she might have taken the elevator without realizing. He could only recollect the scene and smile. He can't wait to share this with his wife.
Khushi enjoyed meeting the team and the work was fun. There were seven of them in her team, and she and Ron were the only interns. Her supervisor Andrew was a very witty person and quite down to earth. She instantly connected with everyone and the morning awkwardness drowned in Hudson. She already made plans with the team to go to a laughing club the coming week. It was 5 PM by the time she was out of the office. The drive to her flat was calm and serene compared to the hectic traffic in the city. She had many setting to do in her new flat and a lot of exploring.
After the drive to her home, she parked her car and was trying to rummage through her bag to remove the keys to her home when her phone rang and she looked at the caller id and was extremely thrilled to see Arnav calling her.
"Hello," she pushed the seat a little back and relaxed into the seat.
"Hi, how are you?" the husky voice came through the earpiece making her feel all squirmy.
"I am good, How are you?"
"I am fine, missing you actually," he told that making that hidden heat in the cold London temperature find its way back to her cheeks.
"Really but why?" she asked him cheekily.
"How about a coffee?" he asked her, and she laughed.
"But I have got so much work to do, need to settle down," she told him sarcastically, playing his joke.
"How about I help you unpack and settle down?"
"Wow, that sounds so great, I can actually use some help," she told him, and he chuckled. Oh, his chuckle. It was the sexiest thing, back to earth, she admonished herself.
"How about you share your address with me?"
"Sure, done," she laughed.
"Anyways, jokes apart, I really need to do plenty of work, I am gonna call you later, is that ok?
"Yes, definitely, bye,"
"Bye," she cut the call.
She opened the second suitcase and watched all the luggage, she sighed. With a much-needed break, she made herself some coffee and settled down on the couch with Netflix, when she heard a knock, startling her. Who could it be?
She looked through the peephole but found someone with a cap and Pizza. Pizza man! He might have mistaken, she opened the door and shrieked. There, Arnav Singh Raizada stood in front of her in his casual attire.
She thought she fell asleep and was dreaming but damn, she was wrong.
"Khushi?" he called out to her and laughed at her.
She stood there for a whole minute comprehending.
"Khushi, I am freezing," he smirked at her.
She opened the door completely and let him in.
"Are you here?"
"What do you think?"
"That I am dreaming!"
He placed the pizza on the counter and walked to her.
"I am here and nope, you are not dreaming," he told her as he settled on the couch.
"What are you doing here? I mean in London?"
"I live in Canterbury, Khushi, Mumbai was just a business trip," he answered her doubts.
"Oh," she was shaken by the fact that Arnav was sitting next to her.
"That was quite a shriek," he told her.
"You deserve it, be thankful, I didn't attack you," she giggled.
"Whoa," he smiled.
Arnav looked quite boyish in his jeans and white shirt with an open hoodie.
"The cap was for the trick," he said as he removed it and kept it on the coffee table.
"I hate you for doing this. You scared me so bad," she told him still in that reverie.
"Pizza should be considered," he pouted.
"How far is Canterbury?" she asked him.
"About one and half hour,"
It is after a while. She calmed herself and realized Arnav was right beside her. She couldn't help but feel the light blush resurface.
"So, I am here to help, give me all the work you want to," he told her.
"That's fine, I am almost done, just need to unpack another one and I'll do it later,"
"Let's eat then and you can tell me how your day went," he asked her and got up to heat the pizza.
"Arnav, so, what do you actually build?" she asked him when they sat with the pizza.
"Quite a varied stuff, I'll take you down for a tour if you want," he suggested.
"Awesome," she wanted to spend time with him, no doubt.
"You know what, if you are up for it, let me be your guide,"his eyes sparkled with joy and she was more than happy to agree.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes," he told her firmly.
"Okay," she nodded.
They slouched on the couch and talked for a while.
She didn't realize when her eyes closed into a peaceful sleep. It was in the wee hours of dawn that she woke up and looked around for Arnav, but he wasn't around. She picked her phone and realized it was 6:00 in the morning. She saw a text from Arnav.
Arnav: I am leaving. Don't freak out when you wake up. We were talking and you slept. So, I left. Also, I increased the temperature on the thermostat. I couldn't find a blanket (I swear I didn't rummage through your luggage.) Text me when you are up, and I'll see you tomorrow. Good night.
She smiled realizing how cute he was. She honestly thought it was all a dream. Arnav coming and all but yes, it wasn't, and she was exhilarated. She saw his hoodie wrapped around her.
She liked him.
Payal was surprised when Khushi told her about Arnav. She was sure her little sister was smitten by the Raizada.
"He is a nice guy, Payal,"
"I am sure," Khushi knew Payal was smirking on the other [5000 words] end of the phone.
"Shut up, just hanging around, don't build a world," Khushi's warning earned a chuckle and then a giggle.
"Alright, I am almost at the office, talk to you later, bye,
"Bye Khushi, stay safe,"
"I will be safe," Khushi smiled, how much ever they pulled their legs, she knew her sister would always stand by her.
Advait was pissed off. They haven't progressed any further since the last meeting. He had a deadline to meet, and the team was not progressing anywhere. He made sure he gave enough time but damn, nothing moved. He controlled his rage. He needed answers. He wants them to be answerable to each damn penny he was paying.
He looked at his assistant and signaled him to come close.
"I want them all out for an hour and arrange a one to one with Sharath," with that he got up and walked to the attached personal room, feeling the rush to smoke.
His life felt miserable. He felt lonely and irritated all the time. It was not like he didn't acknowledge his sister's love. Watching her sister made him feel even more aloof. He didn't realize when things started slipping away from his hands.
Edited by coolie001 - 11 months ago
Topic started by coolie001
Last replied by Annasabu