The Phoenix Rises – Chapter 9-10-11 & 12
Chapter Nine – The Party Starts
Sitting down calmly, Maan looked his stubborn Daadima fondly, seeing the mood she was in, it did not look like she was going to budge until he gave her something.
“There is nothing to tell. There is nothing going between myself and Geet. She fell ill and passed out, since you had guests, I let her stay in the annex.” He explained calmly watching her face carefully from his plush leather chair. “Now I really have work to do, Daadima.” he said pulling open the Parth project file and looking at the figures.
Savitridevi looked at him with a dark frustrated glare. Well, at least it was better then this morning when he had left her without any explanation whatsoever.
Had he bought the sari for Geet? If not, who had he bought it for? She looked at his closed face and stood up. She was going to get no more out of him than that, Maan could be like a clam when he chose to be. His face gave nothing away. With a resigned sigh she stood up, another thought flying over her face.
“Adi does not know any more than that either.” Maan told her firmly, not even looking up from his work, cutting off her other avenue of information. He carried on calmly writing points here and there in the file.
Daadima glared at him with such annoyance and waltzed out like a queen, head held high.
For the first time since the morning a small smile tugged at the corner of Maan’s lips.
Geet fumed in her office. Why had she actually gone to say sorry to him? What had possessed her? The man was like Jekyll and Hyde, she really did not know what to make of him. One minute he was gifting her exquisite saris and mobiles and the next minute he was shouting at her to get lost. She sat down in an huff and carried on working soon forgetting the time, lost in her vision of the township.
About lunch time Sunitaji called about the party telling her that she had talked to Maan who would escort her there. Geet fumed, why did she need to be taken there by him? She could make it there under her own steam!
“Uhhmm!” Adi said as he came into her office, a little wary at her fierce expression “Err Geet, Maan Sir said that you need to have a mobile so make sure you get one urgently.” Adi stepped back towards the door as he saw the glare Geet gave him.
How dare he send Adi, just because she did not accept his gift that did not mean she did not know her responsibility, she knew that she needed to be contactable.
“Tell your Maan SIR” she emphasised in a voice that dripped with anger, “I do know that I need to be contactable and I already purchased one yesterday, I was going to text all of you with my new number today.” She did not add, although it did flit across her mind that it was all Maan’s fault anyway for loosing her phone in the first place.
“Eerr I will advise him of that.” Adi slipped the phone Maan had given to him back in his pocket stealthily so Geet would not notice.
Geet looked at Adi’s pale face and instantly felt bad for taking her anger out on him. “I am so sorry Adi please forgive me, I don’t know what has got into me lately.” she apologised.
Adi smiled and accepted her apologies, he knew exactly what had ‘gotten’ into her, working with Maan Sir had gotten to her he thought smiling, just as working with Geet had definitely got to Maan sir.
It was really late when she finished working, stretching, she ironed out the kinks in her shoulders, happy at what she had managed to achieve today. Glancing out into the main offices Geet saw that all the people had gone, the lights had mostly been turned off turning the offices into a eerie empty place.
Her phone rang loudly its silly jingle making her jump, it was Babli.
“Geet didi! Can you tell Chotu that he must behave himself at school!” Babli launched straight into her complaint “He did even not finish his homework!”
Geet laughed for the first time that day, Babli and Chotu’s little complaints took away the whole day’s stress. She chatted with them for a good few minutes laughing as they told her about how they had duped uncle into giving them sweets and little anecdotes about their friends.
“Didi we miss you, love you! Come and visit soon” Chotu said “and remember we do not want any presents, just save all your money.”
Maan heard her soft laughter tinkle down the corridor. Walking over to her office he leaned against the door listening unashamedly to her conversation as she whispered “I love you too,” tears ran down her face freely as she repeated it again and then cut the call. He watched as her slim body shook with a sob until she turned and saw him standing there. Her eyes looked shocked to see him there, the sob caught in her throat, she bit into her lush lower lip in an attempt to control herself. Instinctively he moved forward to stop her from doing that.
His eyes took her in, she was wearing a navy suit with a cream shirt today one of the collars had pushed up from its place, his fingers itched to straighten it. Her hair had come loose in wisps from her plait. she looked tousled, and heartbreaking lovely. He would kill to know who she was crying for. His stomach clenched as his mind brought up images of a faceless boyfriend even when he could still feel her body snuggling into his.
“Be ready at 7.30 on Friday, I will pick you up to go to the party.” he said his face dark and angry. “And don’t go off to Rampur or any such place, I am not going to be looking after you again if you fall ill.”
With that he turned and left, leaving an open mouthed Geet standing there wondering if she threw her chair at him whether it would reach!
“Its Rupnagar not Rampur!” was the best she could throw at his back as he disappeared out of sight.
This was the last time he was going to be coerced into going with her anywhere Maan muttered as he knocked on her door at precisely 7.30 on friday evening. He looked around the flats, people overflowed from every crevice. The smells of cooking, cleaning, washing, drains, all merged and wafted on the hot heat waves. He ran his finger along the small round collar of his silk jacket as the heat all but melted his brain. Angrily, he knocked louder as he heard her arguing with someone inside, banging on the door and knocking so hard he practically broke through the thin door.
A very flustered Geet opened the door not even looking at who was at there. She said “just leave it there.” pointing to a place by the door.
Maan rolled his eyes and stood waiting for her to acknowledge him, what she meant by ‘leave it there’ he had no idea, but then she had a habit of not making sense. Then he stared harder at her as he realised that she was not even ready!
Was that his shirt she was wearing? It looked distinctly familiar. A dark frown appeared between his brows as he peered at her in leggings and his white shirt which stopped just below her delectable behind.
“PINKY! What do you mean you forgot to collect my sari! What am I going to wear now, The Great Maan Singh Khurana will be here any min…………..!” She stopped in mid sentence as she saw him standing at the door nonchalantly leaning his muscled biceps against the door frame, looking cool as a cucumber in the incredible heat.
Geet stared at him with wide eyes was it that time already? She glanced at her watch and grimaced yes of-course it would be exactly that time, would she expect anything else from Maan Singh Khurana.
“Geet! Geet!” She heard Pinky shouting from her phone.
“Pinky I am here, no don’t worry I will find something else to wear.” she told her calmly even though her heart was pounding seeing Maan looking so incredibly sexy in a black silk Nehru collar suit.
“Do you always leave your guests standing at the door?” he queried sarcastically as people squeezed past staring blatantly at him. He just reeked arrogance and money, before curiosity got the better of her neighbours Geet decided to let him in.
“Err no, please come in,” she said stepping aside to let him, but the problem was there was hardly any room to step aside, she flattened herself against the wall as best she could, giving her a curious look, he brushed past her into the living area his eyes taking in the small neat space.
He turned just as she walked in barrelling straight into her.
“Geet! Why are you not ready? I did say 7.30!” he demanded impatiently his hands on her shoulders steadying her.
And then he realised that he really should not be this close to her, being this close seriously effected his senses. Her hair was wet, small rivulets of water ran and disappeared down her shirt front, it curled damply framing her face, its silky softness was sensuous to the touch, her face fresh without any make-up, she looked good enough to eat. Her soft amber eyes were tainted with worry about her sari and something else, maybe a little nervousness at him being so close. He could see the pulse beating erratically in her neck, wanting to desperately put his lips to that erratic pulse, his eyes fastened on it…
“Pinky forgot to pick up my sari, don’t worry, I will just go and find something else to wear.” She whispered distractedly watching his mouth move slowly towards her.
Suddenly at her words, he snapped out of his sensuous haze and backed off slightly, still holding on to her.
She was about to turn and walk into the bedroom when he stopped her gently increasing the pressure on her shoulders, his dark chocolate brown eyes boring into hers, he commended “wait here.” she stood mesmerised at the soft huskiness of his voice.
He went out of the main door returning some five minutes later with a familiar looking packet. “Wear this!” then at her frown “You haven’t got time to start finding new things now, this sari will be appropriate for the occasion.” he stressed.
Geet glared at him her eyes flashing, what did he mean by that? Would her clothes not be good enough? She opened her mouth to say something when again he intervened.
“Geet! Stop reading things into everything I say!” His expression one of frustration. “Just go and put it on , you know it makes no sense now to search for something else and hurry we will be late.”
Her face a picture of mutiny, she snatched the offered parcel and went off to change muttering to herself about him being a know it all. Why did he have to be right all the time she fumed as opened the drawer where she kept her sari blouses, rifling through them she pulled several out to see if they would match but nothing looked good until she spied the one she had never dared to wear but one that would be perfect for this fabulous black edged sari.
Quickly changing, so she did not have time to change her mind about the blouse, she managed to locate a pair of exquisite black and red matching earrings in an old fashioned jhumka style and slipped her feet into some delicate golden sandals. Adding a little lip gloss and eye liner she was ready. Brushing her damp hair roughly into some sort of order, she grabbed a small purse stuffing in her mobile and some money and was ready in record time.
Maan stood in the small space, everywhere there were books piled up. Books on Architecture, Construction, Space management and many more. So Ms Handa was a avid reader he thought as he picked one up and found tell-tale smudges of well rifled through pages. Spotting some pictures on a wall he went over to them his curiosity aroused. There were quite a few of her and Pinky in various silly poses, Geet with her parents he assumed, as he saw the look of pride in their eyes, and Geet with some children, squatting she had her arms around them both they all looked carefree and happy.
He heard her door open and turned, surprised that she had managed to change so quickly, she was bending down to pick up something she had dropped. He was extremely glad that she was not looking at him, if she had she would have seen his jaw drop. Recovering quickly he closed his mouth before she stood up adjusting her sari here and there, he knew it would look good on her but even stunning was too tame a word to describe her, and what was that bit of sheer see through black and sequin concoction she was wearing that pretended to be a blouse? It dipped so low at that back its ends precariously tied into a bow, one tug and …he did not even want to think about the consequences.
The black scalloped edges made her skin look almost translucent, the dark deep red making her look so incredibly sexy. Her hair was loose, a silky curtain floating about her face, her lips deep red and glossy, her eyes huge, liquid amber pools.
He glared at her fiercely wanting to tell her to turn around and change into something that covered her from top to toe, but he could not, he had bought the sari for her knowing it would look good and she looked absolutely breath taking in it, but the thought of her walking out of this flat past her ever present leering landlord and his cronies made his blood crawl.
“Have you got a shawl or something to cover you?” he husked clearing his throat as he saw a small frown between her brow.
It was boiling, why was he asking her to get a shawl? And why was he glaring at her like that Geet wondered, she was only wearing what he had bought for her.
Irritated to the point of bluntness he said “ Trust me, you do not want to walk past your landlord dressed like this.”
Geet paled at the thought a shiver ran down her spine and she went back into her room to get a shawl that covered her up.
“Lets go!” he muttered tersely as he all but pushed her out the door before he could change his mind about asking her to go and change.
Not a word was said in the car as he drove them to the party. Geet was actually glad that he had made her wear a shawl because he had turned up the AC to the point where she could almost feel icicles developing in her brain. She sat shivering in her seat, wrapping the shawl tightly around her.
Maan shifted in the drivers seat, his body not quite under his control as yet. Glancing at her sideways he could see she was shivering, the goosebumps standing out on her skin but he had no choice. He had to cool his body down, it had gone into overdrive, he had wanted to throttle all those men along with her pot bellied landlord for even looking at her but at the same time he could not take his eyes off her either.
Screeching to a halt outside the magnificent Shah residence he jumped out of the car waiting for the valet to open the door for her and let her out, he just could not trust himself to be so near her as yet.
Falling into pace with her as she came around the car he escorted her inside. Sunita spied them at the door first. “Ashok! Ashok!” she elbowed him in his side, her grin spreading from ear to ear.
“Ashok he looks like he wants to kill any man that glances her way, I remember you were exactly like that with me, and look at the way he is glued to her side, but why is she wearing a shawl? She wondered a puzzled frown on her face.
Ashok slipped his hand around his wife’s waist and said indulgently “Chalo, lets find out shall we, I know you are dying to, but be careful!” he said softly as she slowly limped towards them.
“Maan, Geet how are you? I am so happy to see you.” Ashok said welcoming them both.
“Geet are you cold?” Sunitaji asked curiously.
“Errr no,” Geet replied slipping the shawl of her shoulders. She handed it to an attendant Sunitaji waved towards them.
Sunitaji’s eyes lit up as she saw Geet without her covering, no wonder Maan was acting like a Tiger ready to pounce on any man who looked at her, she looked incredible.
“You look beautiful Geet and that is a lovely sari, where did you get it?” Sunitaji asked pleasantly making conversation.
Geet looked at Maan, not sure what to say to Sunitaji.
“Err…..”.Geet mumbled. Telling Sunitaji that Maan had bought it for her would be a little awkward, actually very awkward she thought looking at Maan, her eyes asking him what to reply.
Maan looked back at her scowling and tight lipped.
Noting the friction between them Ashok said “come let me get you something to drink,” waving his hand for a waiter to come to them.
“Ahh, Mr Rabari you have meet Maan and Geet before.” Ashok said as the small familiar man appeared next to him smiling at Geet, ignoring Maan completely.
“Yes, Geet really gave those louts a good thrashing that day.” Mr Rabari enlightened them. “You know we had those goons from that local politician Pandey come around and threaten us, he pushed me to the ground and you should have seen Geet flip him over.”
Maan stood stock still listening to the revealing conversation, that day when he had found her joking and laughing with all the men, that day they had been attacked by Pandey’s men? Why had Geet not told him anything about it? His eyes closed as he berated himself, those injuries must have been from attack, they could have hurt her badly or worse! His mind raced with unbidden thoughts.
“Mohanji please it was nothing,” Geet said blushing as the little man gushed so many compliments at her.
Mr Rabari’s face lit up and he blushed that she had remembered his name, then noting the look on Maan’s face he stopped grinning so widely.
Maan decided that he was never going to let her go to the site alone ever again.
“Geet but please be careful,” Ashok said “that Pandey is not a very nice man at all. I have increased the security at the site after Mr Shah told us what happened.” Sunitaji nodded in her agreement with her husband for Geet to be careful.
“Maan you have had dealings with him to have you not.”
“Yes, we won a court case against him recently.” he replied. He was still seething that she had not told him about the incident.
Adi and Pinky came up to them and Pinky stared at Geet her eyes nearly popping out of her face as she saw the sari.
“Geet!” She whispered between her teeth at her. “Where did you get this sari? Its incredible! You look fantastic!”
“I will tell you later!” Geet hissed back mindful that Sunitaji was listening.
Maan came up to her his stride angry, “Geet I want to talk to you!”
“Now what!” Geet muttered as Ashokji and Sunitaji greeted other guests.
Suddenly the lights dimmed and music started. Seeing that she was not going to listen to him otherwise, he took her hand and spun her onto the dance floor straight into his arms. His dark eyes bored into hers, his face tight, he held her to him.
“Why did you not tell me about Panday’s men attacking you! Why did you let me think it was your boyfriend?”
Geet glared at him. “I cannot be held responsible for your assumptions,” she hissed wriggling out of his grasp and trying to walk off.
Lights turned deep red. the music changed…
“ Sholen se Sholen se….”
“teri ankhon ke yeh roshani kisske liye hai?
“Kiss ke liye hai……………” rang out loud.
Eyes dark and furious he recaptured her and spun her back into his arms pulling her hard into his muscled body.
“Maan!” She gasped at being crushed against his chest.
(the song………..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX7h0-7wC_0&ob=av3e )
Chapter 10 – The Dance of Passion
“Chandani……… Chandani teri chehre ki yeh chandani kiss ke liya hai?”
“kiss ke liya hai…………..?”
As the words of the song sank in to his anger clouded brain he realised how appropriate it was.
“Tera muskurana….. nazar yu jhookana kiss ke liye hai?”
“mere liya hai mere liye hai BAS! mere liye hai!
His eyes telling her that she was his and his only. “Geet!” he rasped out in her ear pulling her closer into him. Under the red light, his face looked dangerous and sensual, eyes dark, stubble sexy.
The whole atmosphere changed so suddenly between them, becoming charged with heated electricity, the charge almost visibly crackling between them as the Latin beat weaved its sensuous magic around them. Her fragrance washed over him as he pulled her even closer, driving any coherent thought out of his brain other then her, just her.
He spun and pulled her into him again and again, she became his willing partner in a dance of passion that neither of them had any control over. His hands on the bare silky skin of her back and waist, firm and sure as he controlled her movements, his hold of her deeply possessive. She felt the little callouses on his hands which were ever so slightly rough, grazing her skin, exciting her senses. He lifted her effortlessly time and time again, spinning her round in his arms as if she weighed nothing. Their eyes clashed every time they met, the sensuous rhythm casting a haze around them that cocooned them from the rest of the world.
“Samjo………” the female voice rang out “mera jo ishara hai! Jo mera hai woh tumhara hai!”
“Leher me koi hu khoye….mai kasti tu mera kinara hai!
“yeh meri aadai….yeh meri wafai …tuj ko pata hai SAB tere liye hai .teri liye hai!”
Her eyes and body told him that she was his and only his. After this, she could be no one else’s. Geet had never danced such a dance but his guiding hands had her spinning and matching his steps as if she had been dancing with him all her life, she was his and only his. He never missed a step or let her miss one, even though the music was fast paced, his tangy spicy scent filled her lungs as she breathed him in taking him into herself.
“Chandani……… Chandani meri chehre ki yeh chandani tere liya hai”
“Tere ke liya hai…………..”
Yeh hoto ke narmee….yes sasoon ke garmeeee………mere liya hai BAS! Mere lye hai…….
The words sank into his heat infused brain. His fingers splayed out against her face, their tips caressing down her cheek and shoulder, Geet trembled as something deep inside her bloomed at his touch. He was making love to her with his eyes and hands, she became lost, completely lost in his eyes. She was his as he was hers.
“ Sholen se Sholen se….”
“teri ankhon ke yeh roshani………… mere ke liye hai BAS! Mere liye hai!
“Mere ke liye hai……………!”
Ashok, Sunita, Adi , Pinky, Mr Rabari all watched them with their mouths hanging open, mesmerised by their dance, the whole floor cleared, Maan and Geet did not even notice, so wrapped up in each other they were.
Eventually the music died and they stood breathing hard from their exertions, eyes fastened on each other, his arms were clamped around her, she was crushed against his chest. Every single inch of her was bound tightly to him, her fingers digging into his hard shoulders, faces a hairs breath away from each other. His dark chocolate eyes full of fire and passion locked on to the heat filled amber pools that were hers.
A waiter dropped a tray breaking into the deadly silence, the sound reverberated around the quiet hall. Maan’s eyes broke contact with hers and Geet pushed away from him as if stung.
She put a vague hand to her temple wondering what had just transpired, the heat between her and Maan had been volcanic. She was breathing hard now, less from her exertions and more to do with the heat they had created between them.
His eyes closed for a second, the sooty lashes fanning down creating spiky shadows and when he reopened them Geet saw that the passion and fire that had been there for her had vanished and in its place the cool Maan Singh Khurana was back, the only sign that he had been remotely effected was the ticking pulse in his cheek.
Her finger nails dug into her palms to stop herself from trembling, she spun on her heel and ran off the dance floor, her face flaming, suddenly realising that every single person in the whole room had seen what had gone on between them. Maan watched her run, his dark eyes following her every step, he wanted to call her back and tell her not to worry about the rest of the people in the room but he knew it would be useless.
Adi walked up to Maan and laughed nervously, Maan glared at him, suddenly realising that he still had no more information about the incident with Pandey’s men than when he had pulled her onto the dance floor.
Patel watched the scene unfold with a smile. Pandeyji was going to very pleased with the pictures he had managed to take on his phone. They had found a nice little chink in the armour of Maan Singh Khurana. Anybody who saw these pictures could see that he was having an affair with the woman. Who was she? He needed to find out. He slipped the phone into his pocket feeling extremely pleased with himself and headed towards the food, smiling and nodding at people, blending in. He was sure someone here would know who she was.
Sunita smiled at Ashok and squeezed his hand tightly. Maan approached them and asked Ashokji more about the security arrangements at the site. If he was not going to get any more out of Geet he would have to make his own decisions about her security.
Pinky went after Geet, following her to the bathroom and watched her splashing water on to her heated face.
“OMG Geet! That was some dance you did with Maan Singh Khurana, I didn’t even know that you knew how to dance like that!” Pinky rattled out, totally excited.
“My heart is still pounding, feel Geet!” she said grabbing hold of Geet’s hand and putting on her chest.
Snatching her hand back Geet buried her face in a fluffy towel she snatched from a nearby pile, muttering “neither did I.”
“Your Maan Singh Khurana is HOT! I think I will rename him from ‘purana Singh’ to “Sexy Singh Khurana!”
‘Your Maan Singh Khurana’ Geet emerged from her fluffy towel with a shocked expression on her face at Pinky’s words. Immediately the image of Maan walking bare chested towards her sprang to mind with HD clarity, ‘Sexy Singh’ was uncannily true, making her groan out loud, she buried her face back in the towel hiding from Pinky’s searching eyes.
“Geet! Come out I want to talk to you!” Maan’s voice called out from the other side of the door.
Pinky and Geet both looked at the door in fright. Pinky worrying that Maan may have heard her call him Sexy Singh! And Geet worrying how she would face him after that dance.
“Geet!!” Maan called out angrily, not caring that the other guests were staring at him.
Worry gone, a furious Geet stepped out of the bathroom. He stared at her pale face. He just knew that she had gone in there to hide, but he was not going to let her do that.
She glared at him. His face was impassive. Without a word she strode off in the direction of the food, needing to get away from him, Pinky almost running to keep up with her.
A small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, as he watched her go. He did not care if she did not want to speak to him but at least she was no longer hiding.
The party was in full swing now and Sunitaji introduced Geet and Pinky to many important people.
“You had better watch out for these Ladies,” she said “they are going to be name to be reckoned with in the future, amazing Architects, they are working with Shah industries on our latest project the Parth Township.”
She felt Maan’s eyes following her around the room, bristling with annoyance she kept far away from his as possible.
Patel listened with avid interest as he stood near their little group. Then as he saw a photographer from the Daily Delhi approach them for a picture he had an idea. When the photographer had finished taking their picture, Patel, not being one to waste an opportunity for making a quick buck beckoned him to a corner to do a deal about the very interesting pictures he had taken of Billionaire Maan Singh Khurana and his latest muse, the photographer who had been late to the event was equally excited at the scoop.
Sandwiched between Adi and Pinky Geet felt better, they had requestioned a small table in the corner of the beautiful garden where the buffet huts were laid out, taking their plates there. The food was amazing, Adi and Pinky both tucking in with relish but it could have been sawdust, for all Geet cared. Her plate lay untouched, she was playing what had happened out there on the dance floor over and over again in her mind like the repetitive reel of a film.
She had no experience of men but she had definitely seen the flames of heated desire in his eyes, his hands had caressed and touched her in a way that no man had ever touched her before. Never before in her life had she danced to a Latin rhythm like that, how she had even kept in step with him she wondered. It was him, all him, he had guided her steps in a way that had made her feel as if he had been possessing her. She shivered in her seat, both Adi and Pinky stared at her, their eyes questioning.
“Err nothing, I am just a little cold.” She lied, the night was exceptionally warm mostly everyone in the garden was sweating.
“After dancing that hot dance with Sexy Singh Khurana you are bound to feel cold now!” Pinky blurted out without realising that Maan had just approached their table and was standing right there.
Adi choked on his Biriyani as he saw Maan looming over them, he looked at Pinky’ nervously laughing, then decided to concentrate on eating as he saw Maan’s face looking annoyed. Geet kicked Pinky under the table as she felt Maan’s presence and looked up to see him avidly listening to Pinky, arms folded across his chest his dark eyes concentrating on every word.
“What!!” Pinky carried on not looking up. “I have to say that everyone will think that there is something going on between you two.”
Geet groaned trying to attract Pinky’s attention, Adi practically buried his face in his naan not even daring to look up. Then Pinky looked up and saw Maan, her mouth formed into a big O making her little face look like a fish, but no words came out, just then a voice called out.
“Maan! Darling!” a shrill female voice spoke from right next to their table. Three pairs of eyes watched wide eyed as a very good looking woman come up to Maan almost drowning their table in a wash of Dior. Clutching at his arms she raised herself on a tip toe and planted a kiss on his astonished lips. Her brightly painted red long nails sank into the silk of his jacket.
A low, shocked gasped escaped Geet. Maan heard it and watched over the woman’s head as Geet’s face clouded with annoyance as the woman practically jumped on him.
“Sheila is it?” Maan said turning and looking at her, giving her a devastating smile whilst watching Geet’s reaction out of the corner of his eye.
“You naughty boy!” She giggled girlishly, “Its Madhu!”
A disgusted gurgle erupted from Geet as the woman slid her arm around his waist and tried to move him away from the table. Pinky and Adi sat, fingers full of food, frozen in mid air staring at the scene which was rapidly playing like a black comedy. Geet could stand it no more, she stood up angrily and tried to walk off, but she was stuck between Adi and pinky who were still frozen like statues. She sat back down with a thump, picking up her fork with the need for something to do, her fingers twined around it tightly, itching to sink it into the woman’s hand.
Maan lips twitched as he watched her reactions. So Ms Handa was not unaffected as she pretended.
Madhu saw Maan watching Geet and turned towards her, “So you are the girl that is working with Maan, I read it somewhere, well I must say that Sunita has been singing your praises but,” she looked Geet up and down, “I cant see anything extraordinary about you! Maan you poor man, having to work with such people, what was Ashok thinking?” she laughed loudly “But then he is known for his eccentricity isn’t he” she dismissed Geet casually turning back to Maan with a smug smile.
Pinky, Adi and Geet collectively gasped at thinly veiled insult. Maan’s eyes became hard as they rested on the woman. Taking hold of her red taloned hand he pushed it off his arm. His voice terse, he ground out, “Ms Handa is an extremely capable young woman.” he advised the woman in no uncertain terms. “Excuse me!” he said and left her standing there looking shocked.
Adi and Pinky both turned and looked at Geet who looked equally shocked. Why had Maan defended her? Then she looked at the woman still standing there watching Maan walking away from her and wondered why she had felt that insane rush of jealousy when ‘Madhu’ had been all over him like a rash, what did she care.
“Oh!” Pinky said about to launch into some deduction or another. Rolling her eyes at Pinky, Geet pushed a plate of ice-cream in front of Pinky, if anything could shut her up, it would be ice-cream she thought. Adi’s brain whirred, he had never heard Maan defend any woman like that before, he looked at Geet, who was sitting head in hands, looking lost in thought and smiled a knowing smile.
Letting the freezing cold water wash over his body, Maan stood in the shower much later that night, remembering the desire and passion in those amber pools. She had been his in that moment, totally his. They had been so good together, she had looked sensational out there on the dance floor. She made him forget everything, Ms Geet Handa, even himself. He turned his face up into the cold stream and wondered what he had been thinking by dancing with her like that? But then he had stopped thinking as soon as she had come into his arms. He had stopped thinking as soon as those amber pools had looked into his eyes.
The look on her face when the dance had ended would haunt his dreams he knew, it was the look of a woman who had been thoroughly shocked by the strength of feelings they had created, and she had run and hid, unable to face him or all the people staring at them. It pained him to think that she would worry about that, he did not care what the people there had thought at all.
He thumped the tiled wall with his fist, damn Pandey and his men. Why had Geet not even mentioned anything about that incident. It was obvious to him that she had a complete disregard for her safety. She could not look after herself as she had proved to him time and time again.
Reaching for the shower gel, he squeezed a blob of the tangy smelling liquid onto his palm and rubbed it into his chest turning the temperature even colder in an effort to cool himself and his thoughts down. Musing to himself he thought, if nothing else Ms Handa would probably give him pneumonia.
He sat down at the breakfast table the next morning and immediately Daadima shoved a copy of the ‘Daily Delhi’ right under his nose. The headlines screamed
“Sexy Singh Khuarana constructs more then buildings with his latest colleague!”
Under that was a picture of him, his arms clamped around Geet, their lips almost touching, both of their expressions heated and lost in each other.
“Daadima,” he said calmly, his face impassive as he continued to pour himself a cup of strong black coffee, “newspapers will print and write anything for a cheap headline.”
“Its not you I am worried about Maan!” Daadima said with a hard expression, glaring at his insensitivity.
. “I am worried about that poor girl, do you think that people will dismiss such headlines and photo’s as easily as you? People will make her life miserable!”
Pinky’s words rang alarm bells in his head, ‘people will think there is something going on between you two.’ He saw her pale face in his mind and the way people were staring at her after the dance. His fist clenched squeezing the napkin into a tight ball.
Across town Geet sat up in bed and opened the morning paper to see a photo of herself plastered to Maan Singh Khurana. She knew that her life had just got a little more difficult.
Chapter 11 – The Aftermath
Geet’s phone rang, it was Pinky, she had gone off very early to see her father who had fallen ill.
“Geet have you seen today’s paper?? She squeaked. “OMG this picture makes you two look like…OMG!” She gasped.
“I know.” Geet said in a small voice. She really did not have a clue what to do now. It was going to be impossible for her to go anywhere without people commenting. She wanted to scream at the newspaper, she wanted to scream at the world and most of all she wanted to scream at Maan Singh Khurana.
“Pinky forget all that, how is your father?” Rubbing her forehead she asked, feeling tired all of a sudden.
“He is not good, his chest is really playing up, so much cough,” Pinky sighed “he needs me to be here to look after him at the moment and now after this you will need me to be there for you, Geet what shall I do?”
“Pinky, please don’t worry about me.” she said to her sweet thoughtful friend “I will manage. People will forget in a day or two,” she reassured Pinky, not believing it for a second herself. She knew that gossip and rumour always remained fresh in people’s minds, she knew that they would now make her life hell. “Pinky you stay and look after uncle as long as you need to, I will be fine. Do ring me if you need anything, I am heading off to the office anyway it will be easier to work from there.” she told Pinky ringing off.
There was a loud knock on her door, wondering who it was she went to see. It was her landlord, the way he was leering at her told her that he had seen the picture, behind him there were two of his cronies.
“Err Geet so you are here?” He said with mock surprise, “I thought you would be spending the night with him.” shoving the newspaper under her nose, he laughed uproariously, a very disgusting laugh that made her skin crawl.
Geet glared at him ferociously and shut the door on them. She could hear them laughing and cracking crude jokes outside. Going past them today was going to be hard work she thought with a heavy heart. Muttering quite a few curses herself at the landlord and the newspaper she decided to go into KC offices, even though it was Sunday at least she would be able to work in peace there she thought.
Her phone rang again, she picked it without looking. “Ms Handa what is your relationship with Maan Singh Khurana, is it more than work? Are you two an item? This is Kumar from the Daily Delhi, come on are you going to give an interview, we will make it worth your while?”
In utter disgust, Geet switched it off and threw down her phone on the bed. Grabbing fresh clothes she ran to have a bath so she could leave quickly.
Taking a deep breath she stepped out of her flat half an hour later to find a couple of reporters and photographers. Running their gauntlet, she held her head high and walked towards where she could get an auto or taxi. They all followed her, throwing questions and comments at her. She saw all her neighbours were out all staring and whispering. Damn Maan Singh Khurana, I bet he is not having to face this, she muttered angrily to herself, running out through a short cut the reporters had not cottoned onto yet she went down some stairs.
“Hum ko bhi bahon me lelo Geet, bilkul aissa !” her landlord said pointing to the picture and barring her way down the stairs. Hemmed in from all sides, she tried to rush past them, one of the photographers pushed her inadvertently and she went tumbling down the stairs, hurting her arm and hip badly. Her landlord and his chamchaas laughed uproariously.
Winded for a moment she lay with them all leering at her. Spurred by anger Geet got up even though she was shaking, taking a deep breath she shook herself down and picked up her bag, walking off stiffly she flagged down a taxi, refusing to look at him and his cronies. Heaving a sigh of relief when a taxi appeared before the reporters caught up with her she told the man to go quickly.
It was bliss to step into the safe haven of the Khurana offices an hour later. She went to her office and set everything down looking at her arm which was grazed quite badly. Going to the toilets she cleaned it up with water and had a look at her hip which was painfully red and swollen. She had in her hurry grabbed the first clothes that had come to hand which were white and now her long skirt and top were sprinkled here and there with dirt and blood an were looking quite grim she sighed, but she could do nothing about it.
Walking stiffly back to her office she sat down wearily. Babli and Chotu she had already called and made sure they were OK, thanking Babaji that the Daily Delhi had not reached Rupnagar as yet she wearily sat down at her desk. After that she didn’t bothered to turn her phone on, as she had been receiving call after call from reporters, cursing them angrily she wondered how they had managed to get her number.
Her tummy grumbled but she ignored it, she did not want to risk going out again. Pulling out her work she decided to crack on, it was the thing that would keep her mind off what had happened and that dance. All night her dreams had been haunted by Maan’s eyes and the way he had practically possessed her out there on the dance floor.
Maan dialled her number again and again, first it was engaged all the time and now it was switched off! Growling with frustration he paced up and down at the Khurana Mansion wondering what the hell she was doing. Daadima’s words worried him, he could handle the sleazy press but Geet had no experience of such things, she would be a lamb to slaughter he thought, his dark eyes worried about her. He tried her phone again, it was still switched off.
Savitridevi watched her grandson with a smile. She looked at the photo again. Her grandson looked completely lost in Geet’s eyes, in fact the photo should have been printed with a health warning she smiled. Maan and Geet were giving off enough heat to add to the global warming problem she saw with a grin.
Sipping her tea, Savitridevi thought that if there was nothing going between him and Geet, as he had told her, then why was he pacing like a caged lion, it must be her number he had been trying call since morning. She decided to test the waters and see if it was the thought of Geet in trouble that was making him all worried and tense.
“The newspapers are hounding that poor woman,” she said to no one in particular.
Maan stopped pacing and turned to look at her, his expression fierce, “what woman?” he muttered.
“That poor woman who allegedly had an affair with that politician,” she elaborated. “He has got off scott free as he is surrounded by security and lives in a gated area, whereas that poor woman is harassed wherever she goes.”
Maan’s face clouded over with worry.
Bang ON! Savitridevi smiled to herself, however hard Maan denied the fact, it was plain to see that she had hit on a nerve, and that nerve was Geet.
She watched as he rushed upstairs, taking the steps two at a time, coming down minutes later having changed into a black shirt and blue jeans, in somewhat a rush she noted, as he had not even bothered to tuck his shirt in.
“I am going out,”he told her. “I may be late, please don’t wait for me daadima.”
Savitridevi smiled at him and started reading her paper again with a huge grin, he did not even wait for her reply rushing off at a mad man’s pace.
He decided to go to her flat first, driving to her place he tried her phone again but it was still switched off. He called Adi.
“Adi! Do you know where Geet is?” he demanded as soon as Adi picked it up.
“Maan sir?” Adi questioned.
“ADI!” He almost shouted. “Do you know where Geet is!”
“Err No, is she not at home?” he replied helpfully.
Man glared at the phone and cut the call.
Adi looked at the phone and stared, what had that been all about he wondered.
Pulling up outside her place he got out and stared walking towards her flat.
There seemed to be a lot of people outside her door he thought, suddenly he was surrounded by reporters and photographers.
“Maan Singh Khurana!” someone shouted. “Have you come to collect Geet? What is your relationship with her?”
Maan glared at them pushing his way past them towards her flat.
“Dekho Geet ka premi ither lene aaya aur titli to uud gayee!” Geet’s landlord laughed uproariously. “I wonder in who’s arms she is in now?” he said laughing, making all his rolls of fat shake.
A red haze clouded over Maan’s brain at the landlord’s disgusting comment about Geet, without any other thought, he landed a very hard slap on the pot bellied landlords face that felled him to the ground.
Flashes exploded all around him as the reporters rushed to take pictures of the landlord who looked completely dazed. Nobody dared to go near Maan, his face resembling a thunder cloud, he looked ready to take on an army.
“Accha kiya beta!” An elderly lady said from near him. “He needed a good slap like that, it was long overdue, beta” she beckoned Maan towards her, “Geet went early as all these people were harassing her, poor child, they even pushed her down the stairs!
A pained look came over his face at her words, damn them, they had hurt her! He glared at the reporters and everyone fiercely “Do you know where she has gone?” He asked the lady politely, a frown creasing his brow, now really worried about her.
“Nahi Beta but when you find her look after her and make sure she stays away from here for a few days. She is a very good girl I know. It will take a few days to calm these mad dogs down. Tell her aunty Jamila will look after her flat.” she said walking away in disgust from the reporters.
Maan turned and went back to his car, no one followed him, all scared of his wrath. He sat in the car, evening was falling and soon it would be dark. He wondered where she had gone. Was she wandering the streets afraid to come home, all because of that picture? He was going to throttle the reporter he vowed.
He dialled Adi again.”Adi have you heard from Geet?”
“No Maan sir, I have not. I have been trying to call Pinky as well in case she knew where she has gone but no luck. Let me try again.”
“OK,” Maan muttered calling off. Had she gone back to her boyfriend? What was the name of that town? Rampur? Raliapur? Rupnagar?
Adi called back, “no luck sir I will keep trying Pinky.”
Maan decided that he would go to the office, from there he would be able to sit down and call the police to get some sort of security arranged for Geet to try and keep the reporters away. What would her boyfriend think he wondered when he saw their picture in the paper. Maybe she had gone to him, he growled not liking that thought at all..
Across town Pandey grinned at the photo’s Patel showed him.
“We have him now. Patel, keep a close eye on the site I want to know when she comes and goes. I am sure Maan Singh Khuarana and Mr Shah would pay handsomely for the return of Geet Handa. I think this venture of theirs will prove very profitable for us in the long run.”
“Pandeyji worry not!” Patel said grinning from ear to ear. “It will be no hardship to keep both eyes on her!”
He walked off singing “Chikne chameli, chupke aweli, pauha chada ke aayee….”
Wearily, Maan stepped into the KC offices, it was almost eleven o’clock, he had been driving around aimlessly for hours, looking for her, wondering where she had gone. Adi had no luck in tracing Pinky either. Walking towards his office, he spied the light on in Geet’s office and went towards it.
He stood for a moment just leaning against door looking at her, thanking all the gods collectively for keeping her safe and then cursed her a thousand times for making him worry so much whilst she sat in her chair curled up, fast asleep.
She looked like an angel, an angel sent to drive him insane, he thought as he watched her sleep in her chair. Quietly he walked towards her, wisps of hair flew across her face as the air conditioning moved the air around her office.
His eyes landed on her grazed arm which she was nursing unconsciously with the other, her clothes he saw were spotted with dirt and blood. His dark eyes filled with pain, there was no way she could go back to that place, he would not let her. Especially after he had slapped the landlord!
“Geet” he said softly trying to wake her. She did not stir. “Geet!” he said louder, still she did not stir. He raised his eyebrows, rolling his eyes, remembering that she really did sleep like the dead, as she had done in his arms the other night.
“GEET!” He said loudly gently shaking her shoulder.
She flew out of her chair like a rocket, promptly crumpling at his feet as her hip gave way with a yelp of pain.
“Geet!” Immediately getting down on his haunches, he reached for her.
Raising furious eyes to him she said between her teeth, “DONT touch me!” now wide awake and in pain.
“Shut up!” he growled back and scooped her up in his arms.
“Mr Khurana I am warning you, put me down now! I am in this mess because of you!” She grabbed her phone as he swept past her desk.
So it was back to Mr Khurana was it! He looked down at her as she fumed and struggled ineffectively against him. He walked to his office and gently put her down on the sofa. Her eyes glared at him.
Hands on hips, he watched her through narrow eyes. I have been looking for you all day, driving around for hours, even went to look for you at your flat, out of my mind with worry, he wanted to say to her, but he did not.
“Why is it switched off?” He growled at her instead, looking at the phone in her hand.
“Of-course it’s switched off! They have been driving me mad all day,”she muttered angrily, looking at him, he looked a little flustered she thought and wondered why, carrying her was not the issue she knew, he was super fit.
He picked up her phone and switched it on listening to the calls one by one.
She watched his face cloud over with anger, his dark eyes looked fierce. Then without any preamble he threw her phone in the bin and went around to his desk whilst Geet stared at him open mouthed.
Pulling open a drawer he pulled out the phone he had gifted her a few days ago and said “Use this from now on.”
“I will get a new one myself,” she declared defiantly, his expression one of controlled anger, he took hold of her good hand and thrust the phone in it. Saying again “Use this from now on!” as if he was talking to a particularly recalcitrant child.
She decided there was no point arguing with him at this moment she had bigger worries. Now that he had found her here, where would she go? She could not very well stay the night in the office any more and what about in the morning would it be safe to go home. She stood up wincing with pain swaying slightly.
He watched her expressions as thought after thought flew across her face. She chewed on her lush pink lip worrying it, he wanted to tell her to stop it, she would hurt herself. He knew that the media would keep pushing her wanting more and more from her until they cornered her.
It seemed symbolic to him that she had run and hid in the Khurana offices and now there was only one place he decided where she would be safe from the media. He bent and scooped her up again.
“Maan!! Put me down, I am not a parcel!” she said angrily, but a loud rumble from her tummy took away some of the impact and he glared down at her.
“Have you been hiding here all day? Have you eaten anything?” he said his expression one of absolute frustration, she really could not be trusted to look after herself.
“I have had no choice!” She muttered as he carried her to the car park and settled her in his car. Why did she feel so safe in his arms she wondered, held high against his warm hard chest. “Did you see that photo?” She asked hesitantly wondering what to say, embarrassed to look him in the face as she recalled it.
“Yes!” he replied tersely as he settled himself in his seat and clipped on his seatbealt. “I saw it.”
She stole a glance at his face. He looked angry she thought. Very angry.
She decided she was angry too, with one turn of fate she was ‘his item girl’ as one reporter had told her. She sat fuming, trying to remember if there were any decent guest houses near her flat as it looked like Maan was going to drop her home.
She glared at his profile, far be it for his imperial highness to explain anything about where he was taking her!
There was no way she was going to ask either, she decided muttering to herself. She folded her arms across her chest and sat quietly fuming.
He glanced at her as he drove. He could see she was itching to ask where they were going. He could practically hear the cogs in her brain working out the routes. One more turn and she would realise and then there will be no stopping Ms Geet Handa from speaking out.
He turned the corner…….1-2-3….
“Maan! Why are we going towards your house? I want you to drop me home!” She told him in precise clipped tones.
“You cant go back there, there are too many reporters and photographers.”
She turned to look at his profile glaring ferociously at the calm determined expression on his face.
“Have you been there?”
“Oh!” She was surprised at that admission.
After a pause, she said with force, “I will be fine. I dealt with them this morning I will deal with them this evening!” Damn them, she decided she was not going to hide any longer.
“You can’t go back there and I will not let you!” he said getting annoyed with her stubbornness, turning another corner bringing them closer to the Khurana mansion.
“What do you mean, I can’t go back there! And anyway who are you to tell me what to do?” She questioned angrily.
Maan suddenly pulled over on the side of the road making the other cars behind hoot angrily. He turned and looked at her his expression fierce, the whole day he had been worrying about her and now that he had found her, she was giving him attitude, his anger erupted like a volcano.
“You can’t go back there because its surrounded by reporters and photographers from every sleazy newspaper in town. You can’t go back there because like this morning they could injure you again. You can’t go back there because I hit your landlord!” He told her in no uncertain terms his voice deadly soft.
Geet’s mouth fell open in shock. She looked into his dark angry eyes and realised that he was telling her the truth but it didn’t compute. Had he just said that he had punched her landlord!
Maan Singh Khurana had lost his cool and punched that sleaze bag of a landlord, she wanted to shout with happiness. She had been wanting to do that for a long time, and at the same time she wanted to get angry with him for interfering in her life, yet again!
“I will never be able to go back again,” she said tightly, her expression annoyed, as she thought about the consequences of what he had done.
Maan pursed his lips and looked contrite for a millisecond as he saw her frown but then he remembered that he did not like her living there anyway, all those sleazy looks and comments every time she passed those men. She was better off never going back there. He pulled out on to the road and started driving home again.
“I cant go to your home!” she said suddenly.
He didn’t even bother to reply but carried on driving.
“If you saw that picture your Daadima would have seen it too!” She said with a look of horror on her face. Her voice spoke volumes, he could tell that she would be too embarrassed to face Daadima just yet.
“Turn the car around!” Then as he refused to listen to her, she said “Maan please!”
That soft plea breached his defences, he did not like to hear her plead, even to him. For some reason it cut him deep.
“Fine!” He said tersely. “You can stay in the Outhouse, where you were the other night.”
He heard her audible sigh of relief as he drove towards the Outhouse, parking near the entrance. Undoing his belt he walked around to her side but she was already getting out, if somewhat painfully by the lack of colour on her face.
He stood watching her his expression blank, as she balanced herself and gave him a look from those expressive eyes that said don’t you even dare try and pick me up again!
Watching her limp away he smiled a little for the first time that day. Ms Geet Handa may be down for the moment but never defeated, it occurred to him that is exactly what liked about her.
Walking up with her he opened the Outhouse doors and stood aside to let her pass, she walked past him stiffly, standing in the middle of the room looking around. She had only seen it fleetingly last time. The vast expanse of the room gave it a light and airy feeling. There was a desk in one corner and some bookshelves. It looked like it was used by someone as an office. A very nice space she thought.
“I often work from here as there is plenty of room to spread out.” he answered the question that was playing on her mind.
How did he always know what she was thinking she wondered, but was too tired to analyse that further.
Casually he said “you know where the bedroom is if you want to go and freshen up go ahead. I am going to make myself a coffee and something to eat.” he said starting up the stairs, knowing if he told her that she should eat she would bristle up like a prickly hedgehog at him, he glanced at her to make sure she followed.
She was reluctant to leave him, for some reason today she felt so alone and yet again he had proved to be her lifeline. Stiffly she followed him upstairs to the kitchen. Standing near a dinning table, she rubbed her arms distractedly and watched him, as he efficiently pulled out pots and pans in the neat kitchen.
“Sit down before you fall down!” he growled at her.” She looked so lost and ready to drop, it twisted his gut to think that his one action of dancing with her had led to so much grief for her. What would her boyfriend have said he wondered. More to the point what would her parents think, jar of coffee in his hand he stopped, anger coursing through him at the roller-coaster of events that had led to this moment, and turned to look at her.
She was watching him with amber eyes so huge he felt he could have drowned in them. For a moment their eyes locked. The ever present chemistry between them sizzled, creating heat. It was always there, like a pot bubbling away on the back ring, ready to boil over at the slightest encouragement. His body reacted instantly, annoying him. What was it about her that got under his skin so easily
Without saying a word to her or asking her what she wanted, he made her a cup of tea and placed it front of her along with some pain killers. She looked up at him surprised at his actions, her face pale.
“Take those and drink it all!” He ordered, his dark eyes unfathomable. He went back to making pasta for them, knowing she had not eaten all day. Pasta ready, he turned to ask her to get some plates out to find her fast asleep at the table head resting on her arms.
Damn it, she had fallen asleep on an empty stomach, he growled with frustration. Putting the pasta aside, he went up to her noting that at least she had drunk the tea and taken the pills.
Gently, he gathered her up in his arms and carried her to the bedroom, feeling a sense of Deja vu.