Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Part 12 : I See You!

Armaan quickly strode away from the meeting room walking directly to his office he called out to the secretary and Atul who was hovering: hold my calls!

He entered his office closing the door behind him, he walked further into the room not sure what he wanted to do. Feeling confined he took off his jacket and threw on the chair and walked into his bathroom and shut the door. He unbuttoned his collar and loosened his tie as he stood in the spacious bathroom looking at himself in the mirror.

He placed his hands on the sink and stared at himself in the mirror not sure what he wanted and then the anger and the frustration that he had buried somewhere deep came erupting. His hands tightened around the sink basin as a cry of anguish came from deep within him: Arrgggh!!(he shook the sink, loosening a few screws)

He stopped for a second and then pounded the marble counter tops on the side with his hand. The pain that reverberated through his hand brought him under control and made him look at his hand. His knuckles were red and the skin had broken on one of them, he shook his hand and then flexed it to ease the pain. He again looked at himself in the mirror taking in the pain n anger in his eyes and his disheveled appearance as his shirt had become untucked.

Armaan took deep breaths trying to calm the storm that was happening inside him, he tucked his shirt back and redid his collar and tie. He walked out the bathroom and sat on his chair when his intercom buzzed. Armaan called Atul in who came bearing files which he deposited infront of him.

Atul: Congratulations! Malik Publishing has signed their first deal

Armaan who was in the process of reaching for the file looked at atul: the papers are signed?

Atul: check the file infront of you, its complete with detailed info about Shilpa's last book and her contract  with the publishing house.

Armaan opened the file and started to look through the information he stopped as the book cover of her cover came, it read: LOVE HAPPENS by Shilpa Malhotra.

Atul continued: Rahul has them in his office and will be taking Shilpa and Muskaan out for lunch. Will you be joining them?

Armaan thought about it for a second but knew he wont be able to take being so close to shilpa: I think I have a lunch meeting scheduled with Mr. Oberoi maybe some other time.

Atul: hmm! Ok just thought you would like to be there as you do with most of your clients but never mind.

Armaan distracted atul with talks about the business venture with Mr. Oberoi, even though they were discussing business one part of armaan's brain was stuck on shilpa.

Shilpa smiled at Rahul as the matre d' seated them at the table: Rahul there was really no need to take us out for lunch.

Rahul: don't be silly! Since when has having lunch with two gorgeous woman become a hardship. Plus we are celebrating your coming aboard the Malik Publishing.

Shilpa smiled at Rahul and then at Muskaan: I'm really excited that my next book is going to be published by the Malik's, thanks Muskaan for this opportunity.

Muskaan: don't thank me! Plus there was no way you were going to be signed by any other company Rahul was not going to let it happen.

When shilpa frowned in confusion Rahul explained laughingly: actually I have a confession to make, when we initially did a survey of possible authors whose work we wanted to publish I was not acquainted with your work. So I got your book and started reading and even before the first chapter had ended I was a fan. By the time the book ended I was not going to let any other authors work associated with the Malik name.

Shilpa flushed at the praise: and what about your brother (the question escaped her before she even realized it)

Muskaan: Armaan Malik knows good business! And you my darling Shilpa are very good business 

Rahul: speak of the devil! Here is the man himself, Bhai (Rahul waved at armaan who had walked in) Armaan!(Rahul called again and waved at armaan as his head turned in their direction)

Shilpa held her breath as she looked at armaan's face as he stilled as he saw them, not sure whether he was going to ignore them or come over she was breathless b'coz of this when armaan walked to their table (or so she told herself).

Armaan gave up as he realized that god was not going to let him be in peace. His eyes latched on to shilpa's face and he saw color flood her cheeks but was the reason annoyance or anger he had no idea.

Shilpa was sure her face was the same shade of pink she was wearing why she was blushing she had no idea, it was just that whenever armaan looked at her those intense eyes made her heart do flip flops in her chest.

Rahul: thought you had a meeting with Mr. Oberoi

Armaan tore his gaze awy from Shilpa: yeah me too! But he cancelled on me, as I was already here I thought I'll have lunch. I didn't know you were coming here, have your ordered?

The time it took in ordering of food helped calm shilpa once the food was ordered they settled into polite conversation.

Rahul: so shilpa have you finished setting up house

Shilpa: if only! Your girlfriend here was suppose to help me but she is busy doing some other stuff.

Armaan: you've moved to Mumbai?

Shilpa looked at armaan and felt something niggle at the back of her mind: yes! Things don't happen sitting at Panchgani so I decided to move here.

Armaan: alone?

Shilpa: at present yes! Plus I have muskaan looking after me here so not exactly alone.

Rahul: and now you have the Malik's looking after you too. Right armaan?

Armaan smiled at Rahul and nodded his head as the conversation turned to different sights of Mumbai armaan realized that shilpa actually didn't know him. There was nothing in her demeanor that hinted of her knowing him but there was only one way that was possible that she had never seen his sculpture. His brow furrowed unable to comprehend why she would do that and then felt his stomach drop at the thought that she hated him. She hated him enough not to even have a look of the sculpture.

He focused back on the conversation as muskaan exclaim: how is that possible?

Shilpa: well it is true!

Muskaan: I refuse to believe that they aren't any night clubs or disco's in Panchgani!

Shilpa: when did I say that?

Muskaan: then how in god's name you never stepped foot into one.

Shilpa: it might be due to the fact that I was blind and disco's were not easy to navigate.

Muskaan: quit joking!

Shilpa: I'm not joking  (shilpa told them about how she lost her sight)

Muskaan: so when did you…

Shilpa smiled ruefully: it has been little more than a year now!

Armaan: so what was the first thing you did after you got your sight back?

Shilpa stilled for a split second as she recalled those days but she pasted a smile on her face: don't laugh but I watched all the movies that I had wanted to watch but never could.

Muskaan laughed out loud: seriously?

Armaan smiled as he knew it was expected of him but his heart gave a twinge at the answer. He wanted to ask her did she ever think of him but he knew he had no right to ask so he stayed quiet and listened to her laugh at something Rahul said.

Soon the lunch was over as they stood up to leave Shilpa to Muskaan: now you are going to take me to the shop to pick up my stuff.

Muskaan rolling her eyes: when have I refused(her cell rang as she took the call after a brief conversation) sorry shilpa but I wont be able to go with you I've got to meet a client

Shilpa rolling her eyes: Muskaaan!! Now how am I suppose to get my stuff?

Rahul intervened: if I could make a suggestion? (when both of them looked at him) Muskaan needs to go to a client which I know I'll be dropping you at (as muskaan opened her mouth to say) so in order of fair play armaan can take you where you want to go.

Shilpa swallowed hard: he will?

Armaan clearly surprised quickly recovered: I will!

Muskaan beamed at Rahul: my hero!

Shilpa: urmmm! I don't want you to go to any trouble on account of me (she looked at armaan who looked back at her intently) I can manage it on my own!

Armaan: you know how to get where ever you want to go

Shilpa glanced at muskaan who cocked her brow at her making shilpa grimace and concede: well not exactly but I'm sure I can manage.

Armaan: Shilpa! Would you please let me help you?(his tone courteous)

Shilpa didn't know why but her heart thumped hard at his words trying to act normal she smiled: I…thank you armaan!

They made their way out of the restaurant and valet brought armaan's car forward, armaan went around to the passenger seat and opened the door for shilpa to get in. Armaan circled the hood and got into the car and pulled out from the restaurant shilpa told herself to relax as they drove down the road.

Armaan looked at her profile and wondered what hse was thunking, clearing his throat: so are you going to tell me where you want to go or am I suppose to guess.

Embarassed shilpa flushed: sorry! ( she ratted off a name of a shop) do you know the place?

Armaan: hmmm! I know the place

Shilpa: you wont have to wait long as I just have to pick the stuff up from the shop everything is already paid for.

Armaan: I don't mind waiting (he looked at her and then back towards the road)

They reached the shop, as armaan entered the owner came rushing towards hum: Mr. Malik how can I be of assistance to you?

Armaan acknowledged his greeting with a nod of his head: my friend (his gaze swept towards shilpa) is here to pick her stuff which she had bought from you.

Shop owner: Ms. Shilpa yes ofcourse! You should've given me a call and I would've sent your stuff to your home. If you would only wait for a little while I'll have someone bring your stuff from the storage.

As the shop owner went away armaan asked shilpa: so what did you buy from here? (looking around)

Shilpa: some lights and decorative stuff! If I had known that the owner would be falling over his own feet to please you I would've brought you here in the first place and gotten a good discount.

Armaan smiled: I don't think he was going to let go of a single penny on the other hand would've charged you double.(he flicked a finger at a bobbing head doll)

Shilpa came across a windchime of white doves made of mother of pearl making shilpa exclaim in delight: oh! Aren't these beautiful?(she flicked the price tag and gave a low whistle)

The shop owner came forward: I have your packages ready if you would give me the key to your car I will have them deposited in the trunk.

Shilpa: lets go out and check on them otherwise they'll break half the things by knocking them around.

Armaan: aren't you going to buy these?(flicking at the chimes)

Shilpa smiled: not this time (she walked out the store)

Armaan looked at her and shook his head: you haven't changed a bit shilpa!

Shilpa looked at armaan from under her lashes as they drove back to her apartment, as he stopped the car infront of her building: Thank you so much armaan!  You have been a great help!

Armaan: well as I am here I'm going to help you get the stuff to your apartment(he pushed open the door and walked to shilpa side and opened her door)

Shilpa looked at him in surprise: but armaan I don't expect you to carry all this stuff inside. Seriously I can manage!

Armaan opened the trunk of his car and started to pull the packages out: why don't you go ahead and open the door to the building so that I can bring these in.

Shilpa looked at him and then just turned away mumbling something to herself but rushed ahead to hold the door open as he walked in. Once in the elevator armaan placed the boxes on the floor and told her to go up to her apartment and he'll be back with the rest of the stuff.

Before shilpa could protest: and please shilpa I'll be up in a few minutes so don't try moving stuff. By the way whats your apartment number.

Shilpa: its 80 and you don't have to…(she trailed off as she realized armaan had turned away)

Shilpa had reached her apartment and just managed to get her door unlocked when she heard the door to the stairwell open and armaan come up with a couple of mid size boxes. Shilpa looked at him amazed: you climbed up three flights of stairs.

Armaan handed her the boxes: I'm fit enough! Why don't you take these in while I bring the rest of the stuff in.

Shilpa had propped one of the boxes against the doors of the elevator, armaan picked up one of the boxes and turned around and saw shilpa still standing at the door: Shilpa! (he called her) are you alright?

Shilpa found herself fascinated by the play of muscles beneath his shirt as he had taken of his jacket. She came with a start when armaan called her name but recovered quickly: just waiting for you!

Between both of them the boxes were placed in the main hall, shilpa looked around the room taking in the unpacked boxes: I wonder if I'll ever get all these boxes open

Armaan: well there is one you can open right now.(when shilpa looked at him inquiringly he brought a box forward it was not more than a 4x4 box) open it please!

Shilpa looked at him: its not mine!

Armaan: how do you know? Open it and know for sure!

Shilpa gave him a look which clearly showed she was only humoring him, she managed to open the lid and clearing away the protective tissue she exclaimed in delight: oh my!

She reached inside and help up the windchimes she had been admiring at the shop: Armaan! But I cannot …

Armaan: it's a welcome gift! Welcoming you to Mumbai and to having a business association with the Malik's.

Shilpa: I love the gift but I didn't expect you to buy me it

Armaan: please enjoy it!

Shilpa looked into his eyes and saw sincere emotions reflected there: thank you!

Armaan started walking backward towards the door: lock up the door behind me! (he turned and left)

Shilpa took a nail and a hammer putting it up and securing the string around the nail which held the windchime at the entrance to her sitting area and smiled.

Armaan was having dinner with his family, Rahul was telling their parents about the luch with shilpa and muskaan. Armaan stayed quiet as he was not sure if he could talk about shilpa without giving away his emotions to his parents.

Billy: good decision of bringing Shilpa Malhotra on board I believe we are going to be soon minting it.

Rahul: see I told you!

Armaan smiled at Rahul and addressed his father: your crown prince here was very good today at the negotiation table

Ananya: even though the love of his life was infront of him

Armaan: despite the fact that she was infront of him.

Ananya: oh I just recalled armaan! Anjali called and asked if you were still on for tomorrow.

Ananya couldn't help but notice how armaan's jaw clenched at Anjali's name. She looked at her eldest son face which gave nothing away but she felt a disquiet in him. Ananya frowned a little: Armaan I'm talking about Anjali your fianc!

Armaan looked at his mother: I know maa! I'll call her! (he said quietly making Rahul and Billy also look in his direction, there was something off in armaan's behavior which his family could not understand)

Armaan pushed away from the table as with the mention of Anjali his appetite had died: excuse me!(he placed the napkin on the side and walked away leaving his family wondering)

Shilpa woke up with a start her heart thumping madly as she realized she had been just dreaming. In the dream she had been following someone, someone very important to her but whenever she felt she had found him, that she was about to touch him he was again out of her reach. She ran a hand over her face and got up from bed walking towards the window which looked out over the city.

Shilpa willed herself to calm down as her heart was still beating fast, ahe managed to calm herself and went back to bed. She lay on her side and tried to go back to sleep just as she was about to go to sleep her mind thought of the shadowy figure of the man in her dreams and how he looked very familiar. There was something that kept niggling at the back of her mind but soon sleep took over quietning all doubts and questions.

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