Tender Encounters (A PreRish FF) [Author's note on Pg-70]

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Posted: 4 months ago

Summary: In the height of autumn, almost six months after their divorce, Prerna and Rishabh meet again. Neither will escape unscathed. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Disclaimer: Whatever you can recognise doesn't belong to me. I'm only borrowing Prerna and Mr B, throwing some original characters into the mix and having a little bit of fun.

Author's note [1]: This story was inspired by .amigos and is dedicated to her as it was she who wrote she wanted more of Post-divorce PreRish and the plot bunny running havoc in my mind wouldn't leave me at peace. Reviews are welcome with open arms.

Title is from the quote "Autumn is the time of tender encounters" by Sir Kristian Goldmund Aumann.

Chapter One: Re-encounter

Autumn has come and reason has gone.  

--Kamand Kajouri

He has never been a man to tolerate weakness. In others or in himself. Especially in himself. So, after his amicable divorce, he had left Kolkata for the charms of London, disappearing into the shadows once more.

While he donned the cloak of familiar darkness, she couldn't seem to get out of the spotlight. In the first few months, her pictures were splashed in all the magazines and newspapers, along with her beau's. He found himself developing the habit of having an assistant summarize the news of the day and brief him. His studious avoidance of anything that is related to her had been paying off. Her name ceased to be mentioned in his hearing and her memories hardly plagued him anymore. He had thought himself as cured.

Until today, when he sees her again-- this time in flesh and forgets to breathe for a long second.

It's the last place he would have imagined to find her.

In the ballroom of Randhawa Mansion, which is located in the outskirts of the town of Mussoorie, which in turn is a good 1500 kilometres away from Kolkata. Shiv Randhawa is more likely to know an extra-terrestrial being than Mr Anurag Basu and the idea that Shiv knows anyone of the Sharmas is even more absurd.

And yet here she is, standing in one of the corners of the expansive hall, all by herself in a blood red gown that hugs her body at just the right places with no fiancé or family member in sight.

Which leaves only one possibility open.

That Shiv is behind all of this.

Bloody meddling cock!

What he hopes to achieve by this stunt remains to be seen.

*

She had forgotten the effect his eyes could have on a person. In her memories of him, they're always warm. She remembers the way he looked at Kukki-- like he has never seen anything more beautiful. And the way he looked at her sometimes; with pride, admiration and something akin to wonder. There is no warmth in his eyes now. His gaze has a physical weight, pinning her in place, boring and slicing into her until she feels her soul is left bare for his scrutiny. He releases her from the hold of his eyes with a nod, satisfied with whatever he has gleaned from her, before looking away. 

But she can't.

Her eyes follow him as he navigates the crowd, mingles with the guests, exchanging greetings and occasional chuckles. He has switched on his charming side, letting the impassive and aloof demeanour that he usually adopts, drop in favour of winning hearts. He's irresistible like this. She knows it from her little stint as Mrs Bajaj. But not once does he look at her again. He avoids her side of the room like the plague. 

She's aware that she's staring. Unashamedly. Hungrily. But the confusion raging in her is far too great for her to consider discretion. Why wouldn't he come and talk to her?

"Champagne, ma'am?"

Prerna tears her eyes from her ex-husband to take in the waiter standing before her. She shakes her head to refuse the offer.

When her eyes find him again, there's a weird sort of tightness in her chest as she takes in the sight on display. His head is bent to better hear what an elderly woman is saying. And his lips are stretched in a smile so brilliant that she isn't sure he should be giving it to anyone so freely.


This is turning into an absolute nightmare. 

When she had agreed to accompany her boss to Mussoorie to help him organise his annual Autumnal weekend party, she had imagined she'd have a few days of respite from her constant quarrels with Anurag on the topic of this new job and her lack of participation in the new crisis the Basus are facing. But she didn't want her life to be reduced to problem shooting for her soon to be in-laws. And working for Shiv Randhawa was a challenging yet pleasant experience. Now she'll welcome Anurag's snide remarks with open arms over the farrago of emotions she's feeling on seeing Mr Bajaj. Prerna snatches a glass of juice from a passing waiter and downs a large amount in one gulp.

"What a surprise to see you here!"

Prerna freezes for a millisecond. She hadn't noticed him moving towards her. Of course, he'd choose the one moment when she is feeling vulnerable to finally come to her side, she thinks. Schooling her features into an expression of neutrality, she turns to look at him.

"Mr Bajaj." The greeting comes out in a tone which is a strange aggregation of warmth, pleasure and resentment. So much for neutrality

"I think felicitations are in order. I hear the wedding is in late November. Only a few months away."

He takes a sip from the flute of champagne in his hand. Up close, his face is made of hard lines and angular features, betraying nothing. He is back to looking like the Rishabh Bajaj she had confronted and made a deal with, so very long ago. Perhaps a lifetime ago. Not the Rishabh Bajaj she had shared a home and raised a daughter with. A chill runs down her spine at the thought.

"Thank you," she mumbles. Although it's unlikely that the wedding date will not be postponed but she doesn't want to think about that now. Not in front of him. Never in front of him. "How's Kukki?"

His dimples flash for a moment under his cheekbones at the mention of his daughter. "Well. Great actually. She's turned into quite the trouble magnet. Your influence, I suppose. Maasi is fine too." He volunteers without being asked.

"Nice to hear that," she says with as much sarcasm as she can muster.

"Ah, there you are." 

The voice belongs to her boss's best friend Laksh Agnihotri. He has his fiancée, Ishika Malhotra in a loose embrace. The one thing that had struck Prerna when they had met her earlier in the day was how happy and in love they looked with each other. She had felt a wave of envy at the sight of the incandescent smiles on their faces. The same feeling returns as the couple approach them now. 

This happiness should have been hers too. When she had gotten her fairy-tale ending six months ago, after so much misery and heartache, she had thought the happiness would last forever. After all, weren't fairy tales supposed to end in happily ever after? Those first few months had been nothing but a pleasant dream. She had found her way back to Anurag. They were together and Prerna had felt that there was nothing more that could hurt them. Now she thinks if her happiness had somehow offended the Gods.

"I've been looking for you everywhere," Laksh pumps his hand. "How are you?"

"Fine," Mr Bajaj replies while allowing himself to be drawn in an embrace by Ishika.

"You know Prerna, Rishu?" Laksh asks as he regards her with a smile.

Her eyebrows climb up an inch on her forehand at the nickname. The idea that anyone other than his precious Maasi can address him by anything other than his given name and escape without any bodily harm is unfathomable. But Mr Bajaj doesn't even bat an eyelid, which suggests that it is not a first time occurrence. Rishu, Prerna thinks with amusement.

"Yes. I made her acquaintance when I was living in Kolkata."

All amusement deserts her at his reply. Acquaintance?! She had been his wife, for God's sake. She had been a mother to his child. Surely she qualified as more than mere acquaintance. She opens her mouth to retort but is prevented by his next words.

"Please excuse me. I'll be back in a moment." Mr Bajaj turns and makes for the French window which had been left open to let in the pleasant autumn breeze.

Prerna follows him without thought. Out of habit. 

She is greeted with a familiar sight in the garden. He's lighting one of his favoured Cuban cigars, his back to her. 

"I thought you had quit," she blurts out the first thing that comes to her mind.

He shrugs at her words, the movement a fluid roll that draws her attention to his broad shoulders and taut back.

"Some things are harder to quit than one would've guessed," he says, turning towards her. The gaze is dark velvet, the voice is smoky chocolate. Prerna feels her breath quickening. It doesn't seem that they're discussing his smoking habits anymore.

"Prerna?"

She shakes her head, both to dispel his query and the line of her thoughts. He however is unwilling to let go.

"What is it?"

She keeps her eyes fixed on a point above his shoulder and refuses to say anything.

He lets out the hmmn with a stream of smoke. "You've managed to stay as stubborn as the first time we met."

She chooses to disregard his statement and instead says, "You should quit because it's bad for your health."

"And your predilection for doling out sermons remains unaltered. However, I will have to ask you to go away and let me finish my cigar before I get caught."

"That ship has already sailed, I'm afraid."

The words, spoken in a deep baritone causes Mr Bajaj to hastily smash the cigar under his heel with a muttered curse.

Prerna's boss walks into the garden. Dressed in a tuxedo, Shiv Randhawa looks even more handsome than he does in day wear. As both men stand side by side, she can't help but appreciate the tableau they present. Both men have sharp, angular features although there's no hint of resemblance. Both men are far too handsome than it should be allowed. The younger of the two is taller and keeps his hair longer than the other, the dark locks curling and falling over his forehead. But it’s his eyes that are his most arresting feature. Under thick eyebrows, they are a protean hazel that hasn’t decided what colour they want to be. A moment ago, Prerna would have sworn they were a dark shade of brown. Now, he's looking at her with warm, green eyes. 

"Miss Sharma," Shiv says in greeting before turning to Mr Bajaj, lips stretched like the Cheshire cat.

"It was just the one. I'm allowed one per day," her ex-husband says.

She swivels her gaze to check if the man standing there is indeed the feared Rishabh Bajaj, because he has said his words in an unmistakable tone of contrition that is curiously mixed with defiance.

"Oh, don't even try. Tony saw you smoking just two hours ago."

"That little rat!" Mr. Bajaj mutters under his breath before turning to the other man with an expression of righteous indignation. "So you've set spies on me, Shiv?"

"I did no such thing." Shiv's face in turn is a perfect picture of offended sensibilities. "Tony just happened to witness it and tell me in passing which is fortunate because I wouldn't have known that you broke your promise otherwise. I would've demanded a forfeit but I'll let you off the hook tonight because of my benevolent mood. However, do tell how you know my new assistant."

Mr Bajaj regards the other man with a look that would've made prudent men run for the hills. Either Shiv Randhawa is not a man to be cowed easily or not very prudent at all. 

"Your new assistant?" his tone is scathing.

Again, Shiv doesn't seem to be perturbed by the irritation Mr Bajaj is displaying. Instead he gives a sage nod. "Miss Sharma is a heaven-sent. A more efficient assistant I'm yet to encounter."

Prerna beams at the glowing praise she has received. Then loses her smile at the sceptical look Mr Bajaj is shooting the other man. Noticing the expression on her face, Shiv gives her a good-natured smile.

"Miss Sharma, do ignore my brother. He's a little fastidious, you see."

"Brother?" she asks to confirm what she has just heard.

"He's adopted," Mr Bajaj interjects, not kindly.

Instead of looking hurt or angry, Shiv gives her a winning smile. "And very thankful about the fact. You know, Miss Sharma, I was afraid that his daughter would inherit the hereditary surliness that all Bajajs seem to have, along with their too broad chin."

Two pairs of eyes turn to study the said chin with thoughtful frowns. Mr Bajaj visibly bristles under their regard. But Prerna thinks there's nothing he should be defensive about. His chin is the perfect size. 

"But Kukki is only made of sunshine and bright things," he continues.

At the mention of Kukki, Prerna's irritation at Mr Bajaj returns. Her eyes is fixed at the infuriating man as she says, "I didn't know you had a brother." 

"You didn't need to know," he says, looking bored with the conversation.

"Just as I didn't need to know about Kukki and your Maasi, until you decided to spring them on me? Just as I didn't need to know you were planning to leave Kolkata forever? Just as I didn't need to know where on earth you were taking MY DAUGHTER? Just like that, Mr Bajaj?"

Shiv coughs, drawing their attention from the glaring match they are having to himself.

"If you'll excuse me..."

"No," Mr Bajaj snaps. "We're going to have a few words, you and I."

He turns towards her. 

"And Miss Sharma," he says with a slight stress on the last two words, as if reminding her that she's not his wife anymore. It's immensely irritating. "We'll continue this conversation at a later time."

She cannot believe she has just been dismissed from his presence like a bloody servant. She is close to telling him where he can shove his commands but stops when she catches Shiv's eyes and the look of pleading in them.

With a huff, she strides off towards the ballroom.

*

"I'm going to kill you," Rishabh says as soon as Prerna is out of earshot.

"Oh?"

He turns to pin the younger man with a glare. Shiv stares back, a look of utter confusion on his face. "Will you enlighten me as to why you're so keen on fratricide? I'd so hate to die in suspense."

"Don't look so innocent. It makes me want to throttle you even more."

"In my defence," Shiv says, his eyes shinning with sincerity. "I swear I didn't know she was your Prerna until very recently."

But she wasn't his Prerna. Never had been. Not even when she had been his wife. Unwilling to let himself wallow in self-pity, he directs his attention to the man in front of him.

"And I'm not letting her go, if that's what you're going to suggest next. She is truly the best assistant I've had," Shiv adds, with a touch of defiance.

"You didn't have to tell her about our relationship," he bites out.

Shiv's features lights up with amusement. "It was difficult to work that bit into the conversation but I am quite pleased with the results. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when she's going to tell you off later! She's feisty, that one. Explains your attraction to her."

"Shiv..." Rishabh begins in warning. "What are you up to?"

"Whatever do you mean?"

"I promised to let the Basus be."

"I'm aware of that."

"Then why are you in Kolkata of all places? Why is Prerna in your employ?" 

His brother's answering smirk is insouciant. "Don't accuse me of anything, brother dear. You're the diabolical one in the family. But do let us go inside or people will accuse me of being an inattentive host."

He can't quite quell the apprehension that has lodged itself in his stomach however. As he trails after his brother, he wonders if his worry isn't justified after all. He might be the diabolical one in the family but Shiv isn't any less of a schemer.

TBC...

Author's note [2]: In KZK 1, Mr B had a brother who was suddenly introduced years after RB was introduced, without even a cursory mention anywhere. It's my twist on that.


Index

Ch-2

https://www.indiaforums.com/forum/post/150914919

Ch-3

https://www.indiaforums.com/forum/post/150939416

Teaser

https://www.indiaforums.com/forum/post/150970907

Ch-4

https://www.indiaforums.com/forum/post/151012745

Ch-5

https://www.indiaforums.com/forum/post/151039979

Ch-6

https://www.indiaforums.com/forum/post/151113124

Ch-7

https://www.indiaforums.com/forum/post/151122548

Ch-8

https://www.indiaforums.com/forum/post/151176732

Ch-9

https://www.indiaforums.com/forum/post/151233550

Ch-10

https://www.indiaforums.com/forum/post/151237862

Ch-11

https://www.indiaforums.com/forum/post/151319805

Ch-12

https://www.indiaforums.com/forum/post/151467191

Edited by aryapdane - 22 days ago
Posted: 4 months ago

Edited

I was first heresmiley41

I am in love with you and your writing. And dare I say that I kind of love Shiv more than RB in your ff. 

Loved sulking RB. I also like how independent and individual your P is. Thanks to the time she spent with RB, he gave her a personalitysmiley36

Love ya smiley31

Edited by Eternized_Blues - 4 months ago
Posted: 4 months ago

Res.

Unres. 

Firstly, thank you for a working Prerna, I adore her❤️

Secondly, loving these new characters already, now we'll get to see beyond the Sharmas and the Basus😂

You know, I'm loving these post-divorce stories on PreRish. It gives Prerna a lot to compare between the two men of her life. Her falling in love with Rishabh while they are married is okay but her falling for him after they have separated and she is with Anurag is a literal game changer. Like a whole new world ❤️

Coming to the story, I'm giving it 100/100😎

Prerna, a woman who can now see beyond her problematic family-in-law can't seem to take her eyes off her ex-husband. Woah, I loved that. How she's staring at him and he's not even looking in her direction, avoiding it like plague 😂

And him. Obviously he has seen her but can't look at her. He doesn't understand why and how she's here, without her fiance or family. Makes us think, she was never her own woman before. Always in the shadow of someone or the other. 💔 But that has changed now.😎

They talk and she reprimands him for smoking again. Ms Sharma, I think you've forgotten you aren't his wife anymore 😏 

Oh I love Shiv Randhawa❤️ does he have a secret plan to reunite his bhaiya-bhabhi😂 it's okay if he doesn't, I'm enjoying his sarcastic a*s already! (PS. Can you tell who's playing him? So that we can imagine him? I'm thinking Namik Paul?😂)

Then suddenly she blasts! Uff I loved her tone as she asked him questions and he's shhhh😂😂 I can feel the chemistry, the crackling sparks ❤️ 

PS. Can we have a jealous af Prerna please? Imagine, a woman who's betrothed to 'the love of her life' is jealous of another woman eyeing her ex-husband! (Was this enough to intrigue you?😂) (Not Rishabh's first ex-wife though)

LOVED IT WHEN WILL YOU UPDATE NEXT??!!!

-Sanu

Edited by SanyaEterna - 4 months ago
Posted: 4 months ago

Oh my God! Here's another piece of fiction. And it's brilliant!

I can't tell you how much I loved this maiden chapter. The divorce premise seems a new favourite among our talented writers and the outcomes are damn good. smiley32

Looking forward to the next chapter. 

Posted: 4 months ago

Just loved the way you've built up the premise ,specially your Prerna , already getting sick of the Basu's consistent drama . amazing start . Looking forward to next chapter !

Posted: 4 months ago

Reservd

Unressedi have Nothing else to say Because Sanu has said it all 

Originally posted by SanyaEterna


Res.

Unres. 

Firstly, thank you for a working Prerna, I adore her❤️

Secondly, loving these new characters already, now we'll get to see beyond the Sharmas and the Basus😂

You know, I'm loving these post-divorce stories on PreRish. It gives Prerna a lot to compare between the two men of her life. Her falling in love with Rishabh while they are married is okay but her falling for him after they have separated and she is with Anurag is a literal game changer. Like a whole new world ❤️

Coming to the story, I'm giving it 100/100😎

Prerna, a woman who can now see beyond her problematic family-in-law can't seem to take her eyes off her ex-husband. Woah, I loved that. How she's staring at him and he's not even looking in her direction, avoiding it like plague 😂

And him. Obviously he has seen her but can't look at her. He doesn't understand why and how she's here, without her fiance or family. Makes us think, she was never her own woman before. Always in the shadow of someone or the other. 💔 But that has changed now.😎

They talk and she reprimands him for smoking again. Ms Sharma, I think you've forgotten you aren't his wife anymore 😏 

Oh I love Shiv Randhawa❤️ does he have a secret plan to reunite his bhaiya-bhabhi😂 it's okay if he doesn't, I'm enjoying his sarcastic a*s already! (PS. Can you tell who's playing him? So that we can imagine him? I'm thinking Namik Paul?😂)

Then suddenly she blasts! Uff I loved her tone as she asked him questions and he's shhhh😂😂 I can feel the chemistry, the crackling sparks ❤️ 

PS. Can we have a jealous af Prerna please? Imagine, a woman who's betrothed to 'the love of her life' is jealous of another woman eyeing her ex-husband! (Was this enough to intrigue you?😂) (Not Rishabh's first ex-wife though)

LOVED IT WHEN WILL YOU UPDATE NEXT??!!!

-Sanu

Only for me to say is 

GIVE ME MOREEEE 

Image

PLS UPDATE EVERY ALTERNATE DAY PLS

Edited by MisHumptyDumpty - 4 months ago
Posted: 4 months ago

Beautifully written 

Posted: 4 months ago

This is absolutely amazing.ab mughe gussa arahahe. Ekta ke pass ek dhung ke writer nehi hai keya?!I hope if they have 1 quarter of your talent,then may be we could have something watchable rather than the garbage they r shoving in the name of their so called dream project 😝.

Ok rant khatom. 

It's amazing.i just loved and enjoyed the two  Alfa men's coversation. Loved that prerna is working.One request plz update regularly.these fanfictions are the life saver. Thanks.

Edited by Moushumi - 4 months ago

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