Khushi pushed her trolley out of Indira Gandhi airport at Delhi. Dipti had called saying she'll meet her at gate no 4. Khushi scanned the crowd gathered around the terminal exit, she spotted a beautiful girl, slightly dusky and very tall waving frantically at her; she started rushing towards her. Keeping her trolley aside, she hugged her friend of 15 years! “Dipu! Its soo nice to see you! Can't believe i only saw you two months ago for Parul's wedding; you are looking gorgeous as ever! Hows your handsome hunk of a husband doing? Where is he by the way?” Dipti took Khushi's hand in hers and led her towards the pick up point “ He's just gone to get the car, I'm soooo happy to see you Khu! I missed you terribly..but i still can't believe you are are going ahead with this mad plan. I mean if you want to be independent, we'll get you a nice job in a good office and also a flat if you want to live separately. What is the meaning of doing a maid's job? I mean seriously i think you have completely lost it woman!” Khushi pinched Dipti on her arm “ Hey! Whats bad in a maid's job? Plus its hardly a menial maid type job; i'll be more of a governess to those kids, who are by the way very well behaved and cultured from what i have heard. Its like a piece of cake!” Dipti just grinned at Khushi's excitement, 'Talk about being excited about minding kids' she thought “By the way Khu, do you even have any experience taking care of children, what if they have special needs?” Khushi gave a thoughtful look “Hmm..now that you say it; i never really thought about that aspect. Thank god the kids are not toddlers, otherwise i would have had it! How difficult can it be looking after them, i mean today 9 yr olds are more like 18 yrs olds..very mature” saying this she got into the car which had pulled up. She leaned forward and hugged Amit, Dipti's husband. “ Ammu! Whats up buddy?!! Nice car, did you get a promotion <wink>” Amit looked exasperatedly at Khushi “Khu i told you not to call me Ammu, i sound like someones mother. And glad to see you have not changed, by the way what happened to that guy i introduced you to during Parul's wedding? He was perfect for you. Did you even call him?” Khushi rolled her eyes “No way! After the disastrous relationship i was in last, there is no way im dating again! I've had it with men..and to top it off, my parents are looking to marry me off! Why do you think i took this vacation?” Dipti exclaimed loudly “Vacation?? really Khu! Vacation entitles relaxing on beaches, sleeping, eating and dancing, not running after brats!” Khushi huffed loudly “Don't call them brats, they are supposed to be wonderful children! And don't worry i can take care of myself, for me this is a vacation” She grinned widely. Dipti just shook her head “ Fine 'miss i know everything' have you figured how you want to be garbed for this role? I mean no one is going to believe that you are a governess the way you look, we need to tone down your look a little bit..maybe get you some simpler suits, you know like typical indian dresses and oh yes, you have to oil your hair and plait it. Your hair's just too gorgeous open, we don't want any unwanted male attention” Khushi started laughing “ Seriously Dipu! Apart from the Matriarch of the family and her grand daughter and kids, no one else has been mentioned in the house. Its a palace of women and children. And even if there are any men, im sure they must be the boring royal types, i mean they do belong to some royal family of some place in North India, so definitely snooty and pompous!” Khushi giggled. Amit had enough of their chatter “Ok, ladies we are heading first to lunch and then shopping for Khushi's new wardrobe. By the way khushi, I have your course details and structure ready, i've sent the same to your father. Make sure you have all points cleared so that we don't get caught. I hate lying to Shashi uncle, i mean im literally mortally scared!” Khushi rolled her eyes again “ Alright drama queen! I'll make sure i get everything in order! Now lets go eat! Im starving!!”
Anjali stared at her painting, it had bright meadows and vibrant flowers, lots of beautiful sunshine shining down; the scene looked peaceful yet full of life and joie de vivre. She got up from her chair and went to the mirror, she looked at the person reflecting back; It was a stranger. She no longer remembered how she looked or how wonderful her life was before the tragedy. First her mother left her, then her father bought in his other son to keep reminding them every day of his infidelity and her mothers suffering. The joy of being a mother herself was short lived, since just a few years later, her own husband, who she worshipped, betrayed her; Somehow she just could not live anymore! She was afraid that one day her own children and her beloved arnav will betray her as well. She shut herself down completely, not wanting any comfort or love from anyone. She knew that when you did not expect at all, it could not hurt you. She yearned to be with her kids, to rest her head in the grandmother's lap and most of all, she missed her darling brother; God only knows how many times each of them tried to break through her, but she never gave in. She was afraid, a very afraid coward.
The next morning came very early for Khushi again, she was up and ready to start getting her plan in action. She got all her necessary clothes, accessories and credentials in place. She tried on her new garb; Yes she totally looked like a miss Khushi Kumari from Lucknow instead of Khushi Gupta from Mumbai. The oily plait made her look positively revolting while the drab pastel salwar suit made her look pale and unattractive, or so she thought. The truth was, whatever Khushi dressed up as, she had an elegance and beauty very rarely matched by anyone else. Her grace shone through any disguise and nothing could eclipse her angelic face. Dipti fondly looked at her and sighed 'I really hope this girl gets what she wants' they knew the Raizadas were a powerful family with one of the most lavish palaces in Delhi, but Khushi just did not want to discuss them; she felt discussing the family would jinx her plan; speaking of which they were all going over the plan again; Shashi gupta was under the impression that Khushi will get her admission sorted out for the courses today, she will be living with Dipti and Amit for the duration of 3 months, till her course ended. Luckily Khushi's family rarely visited Delhi and right now all were busy with the Goa project, so technically their plan should be a success. Dipti took a huge breath and ushered Khushi out to the breakfast area. They would be leaving her somewhere near the palace in the evening around 8:30. She would be taking a rickshaw and going the rest of the way herself ,with them following her in their car till she reached the gates. Khushi will call them as soon as she was in and safe. Praying that all will go well, Dipti and Khushi relaxed with a cup of morning tea.
In the raizada palace, everyone was seated at the breakfast table. “Tonight Mrs Sharma is hosting a Jagrata at her house, i am taking Anjali bitiya along with me. We would probably be back by mid-night or later. The twins will be your and Yuvi's responsibility Arnav. The new governess is also coming in tonight; You can ask Sharda to show her to her room as she will definitely be very tired. We can all officially meet her tomorrow” Arnav looked at his dadi “Yuvi will come along with you both, i can handle the twins for a night. Anyways its a school night, so they would be sleeping quite early, Plus Aakash and Payal are getting back from London tonight as well right? So there are many of us here. Sharda will take care of the new governess, we can all meet her tomorrow morning” Dadi nodded an agreement as Arnav got up, said his goodbyes and left for his office.
Lavanya seth was stretched out like a cat on the huge four poster bed. She calmly looked at the man dressing up in front of her, for his age he had the stamina of an 18 yr old “Baby, why are you leaving so early? Lets have dinner together...its been soo long. Its not like your wife really bothers with you. You need to release all that energy somewhere right? I mean soon you'll be a a very powerful man” The man looked at her and said slowly “ I already am a powerful man darling, though i need a little more push to be the most powerful. There are a few hurdles in my way; but with your help im sure we can clean those out as well” he sniggered and pulled lavanya up for a rough kiss, he bit her lips to show his dominance and squeezed her pert bottom hard” Lavanya knew how it liked it and did not mind this masochism, she reveled in it actually. She tore open his shirt once again and pulled him down on her “ This is what i like about you darling, your submissive. Trust me, once we get this job done correctly, its just you and me. No one will come between us” Saying this Kishore Gupta smiled a satisfied smile 'Oh yes, all was going according to plan'
Dipti and Amit left Khushi somewhere near the palace and got her a rickshaw to go to the address. They followed her as planned till the large ornate gates. Once she got down from her Rickshaw, she spoke to the guard posted outside. He took some time, but opened the gates wide. Dipti who was parked right opposite the gate, felt her mouth fall open when she saw what lay inside. The magnificent palace was hardly ever seen by commoners and the huge security measures around it made sure no one could trespass. Only few passersby must have seen the beauty that lay beyond the gates whenever it opened for a car or visitor. The gates opened into a long long path which led towards the main palace where beautiful manicured gardens and lawns adorned either side of it. The Palace it self was extremely beautiful built in the Mughal style architecture. They looked on as Khushi was ushered inside the gate, she looked back once before the gates closed and she and Dipti had an eyelock. Dipti sighed while seeing the gates close 'Let the games begin'.
Arnav was bone tired after putting the twins to sleep which surprisingly they did quite soon, usually it took him nearly an hour! some of his few indulgences was reading to them at night. Since the twins had no father figure in their life, Arnav wanted to make sure they get all the love and care from him at least so that they don't feel the loss of their parents love. Deep down he knew his di loved her kids to the core; he had observed many times how she would suddenly react if one of them got hurt or were upset about something, but somehow she never projected herself in these situations, he felt that she acted nonchalant purposely; It was best to let her come out of her dark world on her own, he knew that any number of efforts from their side would not help. Sighing deeply Arnav closed their door and went down to the main hall. He looked around for Sharda and saw her talking on the security phone “ Yes, please send her in; she's the new governess. Show her to the main door. I'll come and meet her” Sharda saw arnav and kept the phone “ Sir the new governess is here, would you like to meet her?” Arnav closed his eyes “Not right now Sharda, i just need a cup of green tea in my room. You can meet her and show her to her room; she can meet everyone tomorrow morning at 8am on the breakfast table” Saying this, he retired to his room. Sharda went ahead to receive the governess.
Khushi was still in awe of the entire palace when after walking for a while she came to the main door. The doors opened and a kindly looking woman stepped out, she had a quizzical look on her face “ Are you Ms Kumari? You look very young for an experienced governess” Khushi was wondering who Ms Kumari was when it stuck her that she had said her name is Khushi kumari, with a bright smile she stepped into the house “Yes, Im the new governess and don't worry about my age. I've been working as a governess since i was 18 and can handle kids very well. By the way, please call me Khushi. Where is Shobhanaji? Im sorry i got late coming it. Its my first time in Delhi” Sharda smiled a genuine warm smile, she had instantly liked this girl, even though she looked very young she had an aura around her which made everything look sunny and bright. Maybe she is just what the kids and this house needed “Come with me dear, No one is at home right now. Sir has also retired for the day and the kids are asleep.You can meet everyone tomorrow morning at breakfast: She led Khushi around the western wing of the palace where the family resided. The governesses room was adjacent to the twins room, so unlike the other staff who resided in the Eastern wing, Khushi's room was on the west side as she needed to be close to the twins. Khushi was awed by the insides of the palace, being a lover of Architecture and an expert in interior designs, she was pleasantly surprised to live inside this palace. This would be a great opportunity for her to study mughal architecture. She could maybe implement this in one of the new hotels” Sharda led Khushi into a room in a shade of light blue. The huge bed sat in the middle of the room with a vanity mirror on its left. The wardrobes lined the wall on the left as well. It was very tastefully done up. The right side of the room opened up into french windows and a balcony which overlooked the vast gardens. Khushi was delightfully looking around when Sharada's voice broke her thoughts “You are very lucky to be on this side of the palace, this is the family's side and has a magnificent view. The rest of the staff is on the left side. The twins room is just on your right and there is a door connecting your room to theirs. Right now they must be asleep so i'll get you some dinner and then you can rest” Saying this Sharda left Khushi to explore her room.
Arnav was deep in thought when his phone started ringing “Speak” arnav barked “I'm sorry Mr Raizada, we have no further information on Ms seth; we just can't seem to trace her whereabouts. We've sent our people all round Mumbai and nearby cities. As soon as we get a hook, we'll let you know” Arnav twisted his face angrily “What about the competitor? Have you gone any further there or should i just employ some other agency to do this job?” Pranab bagchi swallowed hard “yes we do have some progress there, we checked Ms seth's call log before her phone was disconnected; the last number she called belonged to someone in Mumbai. The number unfortunately is private and since you don't want the police to get involved, we cannot get the person's identity. But we are trying our best using other methods” Arnav huffed “Fine, just let me know as soon as you find something substantial. I definitely do not want to get the police involved since it will become a media circus otherwise. I expect your call soon” saying this he disconnected the call. Arnav changed into his jogging gear and set out to the lawns. He really needed to get his head cleared and a good jog was just the cure.
Kuhshi enjoyed the yummy food Sharadaji got for her, she had a long leisurely shower and washed her hair off the oil she had applied earlier. She changed into her silk shorts and a white cotton vest. No one was going to come into her room without her permission, so she could dress any way she wanted. She could always hop on her robe if required. She stepped out in the room and started drying her long thick gorgeous black hair, once that was done she applied vanilla body cream and hopped on her bed with a book. When she turned on her side to switch on the night lamp, she noticed a cute little card on the side table. The top said 'Welcome' in big bright letters, curiously she opened the card and saw what was written inside “ Welcome to our home, We have a special gift for you on the balcony sill. Please open it tonight. We are sure you will love it!. Lots of love, V & V” Khushi read it slowly. She was amused and very happy that the twins were so thoughtful 'They must have crept in while she was having her shower' she thought. She still did not know their names, but would definitely bake them a yummy cake for their thoughtfulness. Sighing quietly, she crept towards the balcony off the french windows in her room. She was mighty curious wondering what surprise they had kept for her on the sill.
She came to the balcony and started looking around on the sill. Since it was very dark, she could not clearly see the parcel hanging on the overhead ceiling above the sill. It was too high for her to reach, so she dragged the vanity stool towards the balcony edge. She climbed up on it and started reaching towards the parcel. As soon as her hands reached it, she pulled it towards her, but out of nowhere she saw a spark light up. Before she could register what had happened, the parcel burst into many tiny crackers and Khushi lost her balance off the stool. She felt more than saw herself falling into the bushes below. She closed her eyes for the impact but instead felt strong arms holding her, when she finally opened her eyes, she saw a pair of the most beautiful brown eyes staring down at her.
Arnav was just finishing his last lap before going back. He was feeling much better now. A jog always helped him revive and feel refreshed. All he wanted now was a good hot shower and bed. Lost in his thoughts, he felt some movement on the first floor balcony near the twins room, he looked up to check if everything was ok, what he saw made him jerk to a stop right below the balcony. All he could see were the longest pair of slim gorgeous bare legs trying to reach for something on the ceiling. He could not see the upper part of the person very clearly due to lack of light, but the soft side lamps on the palace illuminated her long legs. He was just about to call out when he heard some crackers bursting. Before he could register what was happening, he saw the person lose her balance and fall from the balcony. Arnav reacted quickly to catch her before she hit the ground. As she fell into his waiting arms, he glanced at her to see if she was ok. What he saw, stopped his breathing...