Since he had almost not slept all night, Arnav took to an earlier jog than his usual 5am. He changed into his gear quickly and set out into the cold dusk; He had too many things on his mind all getting meshed up. He had to find this competitor who Lavanya had given the quotes to, he also had to find out where Lavanya was and with whom, his usual worry for his sister was anyways top of his mind but her recent improvement gave him a little respite. On top of all this stress there was Ms Khushi kumari right at the peak! He just could not put a finger on why he felt something was not right; her change of appearance from the sexy siren of two nights ago, her unabashed boldness in their kiss when she claims to be from a small Lucknow town, her perfect english and classy charm despite being dressed like a destitute was utterly confusing! He had to find out more about her, besides playing havoc with this self-control she was responsible for his niece and nephew, Arnav had to make sure she really was all that she said she was. Still in his thoughts he got back to the house and went straight into the kitchen where Sharada was already up and running about getting things ready ; she got some hot steaming coffee for Arnav while he sat down to read the newspaper on the kitchen table, He lifted his eyes to find a cake sitting in the middle of the table on a pedestal platter, he gave a questioning glance towards Sharada and asked her who had made that, Sharada looked equally confused “I'm not sure who made that sir, but it was in the oven when i opened it in the morning. I suppose Ms Khushi must have made it since no one else bakes cakes in the house..” Arnav looked perplexed, 'So she bakes cakes as well?', he got more curious about her as he sliced a piece of cake, he ate a small bite to see if it was edible, but as soon as he ate it he was hooked, the cake was absolutely delicious. He took another huge slice out of it and went to his room. This was getting bad! He had to avoid her at all costs today;
Khushi got ready very quickly in yet another horrible pale yellow dress, she went into the twins room to get them ready in time for breakfast. She was dreading meeting Arnav downstairs. She was very relieved to see only Dadiji and Yuvraj at the table while no one else seemed to be around. She said a good morning to everyone while serving the breakfast to the twins. Dadiji looked at her with a concerned look “Bitiya, you look very tired; did you not sleep well?” The twins sniggered at her question but quickly resumed their passive faces. Khushi gave them a stern look before answering “ I am fine Shobhana deviji, since its a new place im still getting used to it” Shobhanaji smiled at her “You should take some rest after dropping the twins to school and also please call me dadiji like everyone else, Shobhana devi sounds very formal, does it not?” Khushi gave a big smile and nodded her head; the twins had a disgusted look on their faces, they were wondering how this woman had first gotten through to their mother and was now getting favoritism from their grand mother as well! Also their mama who never used to even bother that much about their earlier governesses, constantly scolded them for troubling her. This was it! She had to go! They looked at each other in agreement to plan their next POA, the major one!
Khushi quickly finished eating breakfast and ushered the kids out to the waiting car. After dropping them off to their school, she returned to the palace. As she was climbing the stairs she remembered her cake from last night. She quickly went into the kitchen to find it sitting serenely on the table, a huge chunk missing from it. She looked around and inquired with Sharada about it “Oh yes, Arnav sir took some of it in the morning. I assumed you only must have made it.” Khushi was once again shocked to hear that Arnav ate the cake; she looked at Sharada and asked if he complained about her baking “No, the opposite really; he really seemed to enjoy it and took a second helping as well” Khushi felt her heart beating faster and a warm fuzzy feeling started making a way through her at the thought that he liked her cake, she quickly dismissed it thinking why should she feel affected by it? She knew she baked very well and everyone seemed to like her cooking, so what was so special about Arnav's appreciation? She quickly left the kitchen for her room before Sharada questioned her about her moony face.
“ASR, i am sure the culprit is one of these companies, they are both based in Mumbai and not only that, our agent has just told us that one of them had re-quoted after confirming last week, it means they must be the ones who paid Lavanya to get out information” Aman said with a angry look, Arnav took the file handed over to him about this competitor. Gupta group of Hotels was not just anybody. They were one of the top hotel chains in boutique hotels and rumor had it that they wanted to get into resorts through this Goa project. He had met Mr Shashi Gupta a few times during mutual events and he highly respected the man. They had also spoken on a collaboration to build a boutique resort style hotel sometime in the future. He just could not think that the same man would have played this underhanded trick “ No Aman, i don't agree with you. I've met the chairman of the company many times, he's built his empire from scratch just like my grandfather did soo many years ago. A man with so much integrity will never even think of doing this” Aman looked exasperated “ I understand ASR, but mr Gupta has not been active since nearly a year. I agree that he would not do such a thing, but what about his brother? Or better yet his own Daughter? Apparently she took over the reigns from him and she is one who is leading this project. Its possible that she does not have the same integrity as her father” Arnav thought pensively at what Aman had said, it was odd that they had asked for a re-quote after confirming and that too around the same time that Lavanya had been caught. Arnav looked at Aman with a new determination “Get me information on his daughter. I need to be absolutely sure before accusing anyone of this” with that said he left the conference room.
Khushi took the kids down for dinner after their homework was done. She had a tough time trying to get them to complete their math and english assignments, as always they were making life very difficult for her. As they sat down for dinner, Khushi was once again very glad that Arnav was not around, but she also felt restless not seeing him the entire day! As soon as they started eating, she heard Arnav’s voice talking to one of the help; She immediately shot out of her chair saying she had to make an urgent phone call, the twins gave her a weird look while the rest looked confused. She ran two steps at a time, when she reached the stairs, she saw Arnav on the phone walking down. She quickly turned towards her left and went through the corridor to the other end of the house; this was a darker and quieter wing of the palace; the huge arches looked eerily down at her. She slowed her pace and came towards a room which had its door open.
She saw Anjaliji sitting in a rocking chair staring at something in her hands. At first she was afraid to go ahead but then she heard a quite sob, she walked towards her and put her hand on her shoulder. Anjali looked up suddenly and got up from her chair. She looked terrified; Khushi slowly pressed her shoulders and made her sit back on her chair. She took the frame out of her hands to see the twins smiling photo in it. She had tears in her eyes watching their mother silently crying for them. She looked at Anjaliji and gave her a watery smile “You miss them don’t you?” Anjali turned her head and started sobbing more. Khushi kneeled down next to her “I know i don’t have the right to say this to you, but you are their mother, they need you. No governess or any other family member can come close to this bond. They need you more than anyone else. I know a lot has happened to you in all these years, but it’s high time you face up to all those evils!” Khushi felt herself getting agitated. Anjali looked at Khushi with tearful eyes and ran out of the room. Khushi was shaking all over; she had no idea why this was bothering her so much. She quickly left and started walking towards her room.
Arnav was surprised to not see Khushi at the dining table. He saw a half eaten plate of food next to the twins; dadi explained that Khushi left suddenly right before he came. Arnav knew she was trying to avoid him because of last night, he was also trying to do the same thing but he also wanted to see her, talk to her, maybe have a civil conversation with her without her biting, shouting or pushing at him. He smiled remembering their encounter last night; she had taken over his thoughts completely. He was just finishing his food when he saw his sister walk unsteadily towards the stairs, she was crying as she started hobbling upstairs. He got up quickly to see what was wrong when he bumped into Khushi, her eyes looked moist and she started climbing the stairs after his di; he pulled her sharply down from the stairs and held her hard by her upper arm.
“What the hell did you do to my sister?!!” Arnav’s voice had a scary tinge to it, Khushi looked on with confusion at him “What do you mean? I haven’t done anything to her” She did not want to tell him about the conversation she had with Anjaliji; she knew she could get through to her, but needed time. Arnav dug his hands deeper into her delicate skin “Don’t lie to me Ms Kumari. I saw how she went up crying unsteadily while you were right behind her. I am sure you said something to hurt her! Don’t you understand the situation she is in? The doctors have asked us to leave her alone otherwise she may react in a negative way! How dare you make my sister cry!” Khushi was extremely angry by now,he had no right to speak to her and manhandle her this way “Excuse me sir, what do…” before she could complete her sentence, dadiji interrupted them “Arnav! What are you doing? Leave Khushi bitiya at once! In your blind rage did you not notice that Anjali has reacted to something! We haven't seen her smile or cry in the past 8 years! The fact that Khushi has managed both is a miracle! Instead of shouting at the poor girl you should thank her” saying that Dadiji left them staring at each other. Arnav’s arms suddenly fell at his sides. Khushi gave him one last angry teary look before running up the stairs to her room.
Arnav felt like a class A Ba****d. Dadiji was right, it was because of khushi that this sister had reacted, cried for God sake..and instead of thanking her he had shouted at her. He just did not understand why this girl made him act so violently every single time! There were too many things about her which completely twisted his mind, having these thoughts, he started walking purposely towards her room, when he passed the music room he heard the most beautiful sound, the piano forte was alive! He went in and stood mesmerized as he saw Khushi playing Beethoven's 5th Symphony. She looked marvelous with her eyes closed, her chest heaving and her face all flushed. He kept staring at her as the angry music came down to its last leg. How much more of a mystery is this girl! She played the symphony as if she was born for it. He started walking towards the piano slowly till he was standing right in front of her. As the song came to an end, he saw Khushi calming down, a serene look on her face. She smiled as she opened her gorgeous eyes and looked directly at him.
'What the!' Khushi thought, she had just calmed herself by playing the angry notes of her most favorite symphony; Just when she felt she could get back to being normal and relaxed, He comes and stands right in front of her. Surely it was the Devil's day! Looking at him watching her with an amused look on his face was her last straw, she abruptly got up and glared at him “Why are you here! Do you have any more insults to throw at me? Isn't your quota for the day over yet.” She turned around and started walking towards the exit. Arnav swiftly caught her arm and held it behind her back, in the process pulling her towards himself “Why do you always jump to the wrong conclusion? Isn't it possible that i was simply enjoying the music? Speaking of which, where did you learn to play like that? It felt like you were making love to the piano, very angry, very hot and very sexy” Arnav grinned at her flushed face. Khushi could not believe he was flirting with her again “Please refrain from saying such things to me, last i know i was in your employ. I would appreciate if you could keep things formal and professional between us. I don't like such cheap talks” Arnav raised his eyebrows “Oh really? Formal and professional huh? Cheap talk? Really Khushi i think we are way ahead of both those things don't you think? Or have you conveniently forgotten last night?” Khushi started breathing very heavily, his cologne and the fact that his face was so close to hers was driving her mad, she lowered her eyes and spoke “What ever happened last night was a huge mistake. It should never have happened and i'll make sure that it never happens in the future. As i said i am here to take care of the twins which is my job. I hope you too understand your limits sir” She looked straight into his eyes. His eyes were blazing fire, her gaze faltered as she heard him speak “Alright Ms Kumari, have it your way. We'll see how formal and professional you can be ,when just being in my arms your whole body trembles. I'll keep my limits, but who's to say you will keep yours?” With that he pulled the clip from her tightly wound up bun and watched as her hair cascaded like a beautiful waterfall. Khushi was shocked and oddly excited by his actions. Arnav gave her one last look and walked out.
Khushi was still in a daze as she got into her room. She was still lost in her thoughts when the intercom started ringing in her room, she picked up to hear dadiji's voice “Khushi bitiya, remember i told you about the ball we were having? Well its tomorrow night and lots of preparations are on way. I just thought i'll remind you of it, do check with me on what the kids will wear; we have a lot of foreign dignitaries and Arnav's business friends coming. Don't worry about your clothes, i'll send something for you with Sharada” Khushi smiled and kept the phone. Thank god she thought. At least tomorrow she can avoid him for an entire day, with that in mind she went to the twins room to get them ready for bed.
Shyam jha was sipping his favorite scotch on the rocks! He felt amazingly relaxed and satiated after the discussion on their plan was done. Sheena and her father were really something else, talk about killing two birds with one stone. He still remembered when a year ago, Sheena had contacted him about a job in their company; after Arnav had thrown him out, he had no other option except turn to their competitors. He may have had it easy before but Shyam was a sharp legal mind when it came to hospitality business and was an asset to any company, especially those who were against Arnav. Over the years, he had job hopped many times with various companies but when Sheena had called him a year ago with a once in a lifetime opportunity which would guarantee him a better job and also provide a chance to completely ruin VBR group of companies, he jumped at the offer. With his help they had planted Lavanya 7 months ago; who with her charms and looks had gotten though most of the senior management as well as the CEO, mr Arnav Singh Raizada, simply known as ASR amongst his peers. He will finally have his revenge from him, Shyam did not really care about Anjali or their kids, he simply wanted to ruin Arnav like he had ruined him, and so what if Mr Shashi Gupta and his precious daughter Khushi will get burnt? After all collateral damage was required, with that thought in mind, he got himself ready for the next phase of their plan.