Wednesday, 17 January 2018

part 4 : It all Depends on Love(AR)

"Come, Riddhima, we have a flight to catch." Playing one final scene to the gallery of photographers, he swept her up in his arms and deposited her bodily inside. As he climbed in behind her. Riddhima could not help quietly congratulating him to herself. He performed his phoney role of loving newly-wed so well.

To her relief, however, he dropped the act as soon as they were away from their guests. On the journey to Heathrow airport and for most of the flight he seemed to be in a quite, reflective frame of mind…She leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes


On Monday morning Riddhima dressed in her new denim skirt and white shirt, the skirt showed a lot of shapely legs…

"you are looking very pretty Riddhima, but I really you' drop the whole idea. Only God knows where it will end."

"Stop worrying, aunty. If the joke starts going sour, I'll end it."

Only when she walked up the drive to the hall, the horror of what she was doing hit her. Thinking of the fun was one thing but acting it out was another. As she went to press the door bell, she noticed the door ajar, and stepped inside.

"Miss Khanna?"

She swung around to the cool voice, and saw a tall girl with a perfect figure.

"Yes I am Miss. Khanna," Riddhima said. "And you?"

"Anjali Mehra, Mr. Mallik's assistant. Will you come to my office, please? I believe Mr. Mallik has explained what your duties are?"

"He did tell me but he was a bit vague."

"Mr. Mallik is never vague."

"He was to me. He told me about my standing in for any staff who were off. But he didn't go into details."

"Then I'll have to go through everything with you. This house has to work like clockwork. We can't tolerate carelessness." Anjali rose to her feet. "I'll take you to meet the staff."

Silently Riddhima followed her along the corridor to the large and modern kitchen.

"Mr. and Mrs. Malhotra," Anjali said coolly, "this is Miss Khanna."
A pleasant faced, middle aged woman came forward followed by her equally pleasant seeming husband. Riddhima instantly liked them

"Glad to have you helping us," Mrs. Malhotra said.
Her husband nodded and was about to speak when Anjali cut across him.

"I have told Miss Khanna what her duties are, so she can start right away." Cold eyes examined Riddhima from top to toe. "If there is anything you need to know, please come to me. And remember this is an office as well as a home and has to function efficiently." After a moment Anjali walked away.

Only then did Riddhima turn to face the older couple. "It may take you a day or two to settle in," Mrs. Malhotra went on "but once you do you will find the work easy."

"What do I do to myself when there is no one to stand in for?"

"Help anyone who needs an extra pair of hands."

"Like me," Sarah said , jumping to her feet. "It's time to serve the coffee."

She was put out to see no sign of Armaan Mallik, but felt it would be too inquisitive at this stage of her employ to ask where he was. However, when the whole day passed without his putting in an appearance, or mention being made of him, she casually questioned Maria, busy cleaning the Hall.

"He is an the States." Came the answer "He goes there so often for work, its his second home."

Riddhima was irritated by the disappointment she felt at not seeing him. Heavens, what was special about Armaan Mallik? As if she don't know!

"Will he be away long?"
"Hard to say, Perhaps a few days, often a few weeks."

This give Riddhima food for thought , and she debated whether to pack in the whole thing. Yet she knew she wouldn't and that it had nothing to do with boredom, more a desire to know her neighbour better. Very much better.

For the next few days Riddhima learned all about the running of the Mallik Mansion.

To her surprise she was exhausted when she returned to Gupta house each night and by the end of the week she realized she still had a long way to go before she was well enough to tackle a full day's operating.

It was another lovely day, and the smell of the grass and fresh flowers lifted her spirits.
After reaching Mallik Mansion she found out it was Maria's day off and she was ordered to tidy Armaan Mallik's room.
"This must mean he was soon returning" Riddhima thought and collected an armful of blue satin bed sheets, she set about making the bed – no easy task when you are doing it for the first time. Puffed from exertion, she settled on the edge of the bed to recover her breath, then nearly expired on hearing a voice behind her.

"Maria off?"

Jumping to her feet, she whirled round to the tall, handsome figure of her employer. No she hadn't imagined the eyes blue as sapphires, the features fit for a Greek God, the body a woman could drool over. He was everything she remembered and more..

"Maria off" he repeated, coming close enough for her to see his handsome features.

"Yes and I am her to…"

"I know." Impatiently he slipped off his jacket and undid his tie.

In normal circumstances, this wouldn't have fazed her, but his bedroom lent the action an intimacy that stifled her and made it hard to breathe. Averting her eyes from the black fitting snugly over the wide shoulders, she bent to the bed and tucked in the bottom sheet.

"If you'll leave me to finish your room."

"Why should I leave?"

"Because you make me nervous, I can't work properly with you watching me."

"Well, if you promise not to watch me." He replied keeping his face expressionless as he unbuttoned his shirt, "I'll change into jeans and a T-shirt and go."

Quick as lightening Riddhima streaked to the door. The very notion of seeing Armaan Mallik undressed robbed her of logic, and she was desperately frightened, not of him, but of herself, of having to acknowledge that she had finally encountered a man who made her feel vulnerable

"Hey!" he called. "I was only kidding. Come back and finish the bed."

"I have.."

Smartly she whipped out and closed the door, almost knocking smack into Anjali. "Whoops!" she gasped. "Sorry"

"So you should be."
"Did I hurt you? I am really…"

"I am not talking about your exit," Anjali hissed "but your stupidity in not leaving the room when Mr. Mallik is there. I thought I made it clear he wasn't to be bothered with stupid chatter".

"I am fully aware that you are Mr. Mallik's assistant, but when he engaged me he didn't inform me I'd have to report to you, so you have no right ordering me around."

"How dare you talk to me like that, you… you little nothing?"

"I am as polite to you as you are to me," Riddhima replied and stalked off


At nine thirty the next morning, Riddhima unexpectedly felt deflated. Maybe she'd make Mrs. Mehta happy an end her charade this afternoon. She'd set out the tea things then confess all to Armaan .

She was reflecting on this as she sat alone in the kitchen, Sarah having wheeled out the tea trolley, when Armaan strolled in.

"I am hungry." He announced

"Sarah has a chocolate cake on the trolley."

"I want to have salad." He sat opposite her. "I missed lunch."

"It's bad for gastric juices not to eat regular meals." She said, going to the refrigerator and taking out a salad bowl

"Don't bother with the plate." He said

"Are you going to have all of it?"

"I am starving."

"Then have a proper meal."

"Bossy little thing, aren't you?"

"Anjali is bossy and she is tall as a bean pole."

" you don't like her, do you?"

"It's mutual."

"It's part of her job to see everything here runs smoothly, and if she orders you around it's because she thinks it's necessary."

"Is it necessary to be unpleasant?"

"It's her way, she is a first class administrator and works non stop."

"A first class administrator wouldn't need to be rude."

Armaan went to reply, then thought better of it, and Riddhima hid a smile, well pleased with her self. "I am done" he mumbled, mouth full.

She reached for his plate. But it was his hand she caught, and before he had a chance to pull away she was on his lap and he was pressing his mouth to hers.

It was the first time he had touched her and she was frighteningly conscious of every part of his body… his hands on her waist, his fingers kneading her skin in a gentle motion that sent little flames of desire shooting through her. His knees were hard beneath her own, his thighs firm against her soft buttocks, the hard wall of his chest straining against the roundness of her breasts, and his mouth, those two sensuous lips, covering hers and gently prising them open.

She made no effort to resist him, and nestled closer, enjoying the taste of him, the special aroma that signified Armaan. She felt herself being carried away on a sea of passion and the next second she found herself being set on her feet, and Armaan drawing away from her.

"Sorry" he said in clipped tones, his expression half contrite, half irritated. "I don't normally loose my control like this."

"You don't need to feel guilty." She said flippantly. "I lost my control a long while ago."


Later that evening, on her way bactk to home a care purred to stop beside her.

"You are finished early," Armaan asked

"Yes" turning her head, she stared into his blue eyes, but resolutely refused to be swayed by their brilliance

"Until tomorrow then." He said

Was that a question or a statement>? Instinct told her he wasn't sure if she had left because there was no more work to do or was actually quitting.

"I won't be in tomorrow," she stated

"Dammit, Riddhima! Do you want me to apologize again for kissing you? He jumped from the car and took a step towards her. "I told you it was an impulse and won't happen again."

"From now on you will be safe with me," he assured her.

"I'll stay on." She heard herself say.

"Good and you have my word I'll keep my distance."

"You'd better." She walked past him.

"See you tomorrow." He called

"I told you I am not coming in."

"but I thought you…"

"I am taking the day off." It was not a sudden decision as she was called by Atul for a dat to sign some deal.

"Going to London?"

"Where else? It's the only place to be if you want a good time."

"I imagine you always have a good time," he said sourly, slipping back into the car and switching on the ignition.

She continued on her way to Gupta house, curious as to why Armaan was put out at the thought of her going to London……….


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