“Why are we having the party at the hotel Nannav? NK asked as they got down from the car. “Why not at home?”
“What do I know?” ASR grumbled as he strode through the decorated hallway. “If I had my way, I wouldn’t ever hold a Diwali party.” He muttered under his breath.
“Oh look who’s here!” NK exclaimed.
ASR ignored him. He looked around for a drink. Maybe that would help him get through the evening. He was already bored.
“Doesn’t she look stunning?” NK said admiringly.
ASR couldn’t care less. Another Diwali. Another god-forsaken party. Why did Diwali have to be so emotionally traumatizing? Why couldn’t it be a Happy Diwali for once?
“Nannav!” NK jostled his arm for attention.
“What? Who? Oh forget it NK!” ASR said wearily. “You find any and every female stunning.”
“You found her stunning once.” NK said slyly.
“NK.” ASR growled. “Watch your tongue.”
NK stuck out his tongue and squinted at it. “Why what’s wrong?”
“You’ll know what’s wrong when I pull it out and stuff it down your throat.”
“Temper temper Nannav.” NK wagged his finger admonishingly. “Not good for you.”
“If you know what’s good for you – you will shut up.” ASR growled desperate for a glimpse of her. But he couldn’t very well turn around and look for her could he? She was the one who had walked out. Besides, he was ASR.
But it was your fault wasn’t it?
Isn’t it always? He thought sourly.
She left of her own free will. She would have to come back on her own. He clenched his fists. The question was who dared invite her? Unless…? His heart gave a leap.
He ruthlessly crushed it. No. Nani must have insisted. Or Di.
Perhaps Lakshmi did…
Or maybe it was HP.
“Hi!” A gush of air, a whiff of a scent more familiar than himself, brushed past him.
“NK!” Khushi gushed as she all but threw herself in his arms. “So good to see you. Happy Diwali!”
“Happy Diwali to you too Khushi!” NK gave her a huge smile. “We were just admiring you. Right Nannav?” NK twinkled at ASR.
Khushi hid her grin and wore a superior expression, her full attention on NK who was still babbling. “You look gorgeous, beautiful, out of the world!”
Khushi laughed and batted her eyes at him. “Oh NK you are too much.” She simpered.
“No! I mean it. That off shoulder dress really suits you.” NK looked at her with a besotted expression.
Khushi glowed. “Thanks NK.” Khushi smoothed her hands over the figure hugging dress. “I did wonder if it was too short.”
“Thanks NK. You are a sweetheart.”
Was that a snarl or was it a growl?
“Mr Raizada.” Khushi inclined her head the fraction of a millimeter.
“Mrs Raizada.” His voice was cold.
“No need for such out-dated,” she paused, “formalities. Khushi is fine.” she said archly.
ASR ground his teeth. A muscle twitched in his jaw. He grabbed a cola.
Khushi dropped her airs and frowned. “Should you be drinking that?”
Arnav held her eyes while he downed half the glass.
Khushi’s lips thinned and her eyes narrowed. “Typical. Cut off your own nose…”
“Mind your own business.” ASR made an insulting dismissing move.
Seething, Khushi turned on her heel – and rather predictably tripped.
Arnav’s glass went flying as his instincts kicked in. He caught her just before she hit the ground.
“How about minding your own business Mr Raizada?” Khushi blinked at him.
Arnav didn’t hear her. A rising crescendo filled his ears. He couldn’t breathe yet he felt as if he was finally alive. He straightened. “You are coming home with me.”
“Not until you apologize.”
“Me? Apologize?” That arrogant look (and something else) made her blood boil and her heart sing.
“Yes.” She bit out through clenched teeth. She jerked her hand but he held tight. “You are hurting me.” Her eyes shot daggers.
Instantly the pressure eased. His thumb caressed her wrist. Her breath hitched. She leaned towards him.
Sanity returned in the nick of time.
She drew back. “Apologize. Otherwise I am not coming back. Ever.”
Khushi could have bitten her tongue. Her heart sank to the bottom of her stilettos. Hey Devi Maiyya! What did I just say? Did I close all doors? Why didn’t you shut my mouth? You know this Laad Governor will never apologize – not in a million years. Hey Devi Maiyya! Do something please!
“If I apologize you’ll come back?”
Life returning to her limbs, Khushi nodded.
“No questions, no arguments? Deal?”
“Deal.” Khushi exulted. Shukriya Devi Maiyya! Was he really going to apologize? Aww he really did love her.
Just as she loved him.
“Fine.” Arnav nodded. He swung around to face the crowd. “May I have your attention Ladies and Gentlemen?”
The chatter died down as they turned to look at them.
“Arnav!” Khushi hissed tugging at arm. “What are you doing?”
“You wanted an apology. You are going to get it.” He wore an implacable look.
“Hey Devi Maiyya.” Khushi moaned as she attempted to release herself but in vain.
She stilled as it clicked. Oh so this was the Laad Governor’s plan! He knew she wouldn’t like him to publicly humiliate himself just to satisfy her ego. She would forgive all and toe his line. That’s what he wanted – that she would stop him from apologizing then she couldn’t very well fuss about his noncompliance could he? Oh the devious man! Khushi ground her teeth.
He did take her for granted didn’t he? Fine! Two could play at the game. She stopped struggling. If he wanted to create a scene, so be it. She would just watch the fun while he tried to squiggle out of this one.
She looked challengingly at him. “Do go on. I am waiting.”
ASR’s lips twitched infinitesimally. “Ladies and gentlemen, please accept my apologies. I have to leave a bit early.” At her hiss of indrawn breath, he slid his arm around her as he looked down at her with a broad wicked smile. “I need to assist my wife in attending to some urgent business. All of you please enjoy the party. Happy Diwali.”
He strode off with her attached to his side. She shook with anger at his deceitfulness while he shook with suppressed triumphant laughter.
He had won ~ again.