Joined: 25 October 2007
Hot, sensuous, and on her way to be the top reporter in New York. That's how her office described her. There was, however, a small game she was going to have to play to get to the top spot. The spot that everyone died for. She would have the expose the hot and happening, eligible bachelor, Angad Khanna. He was known the be a man who used everyone for his advantage. So she changed herself and started Mission Impossible. It wasn't too far away until she found out who he really was and what his daily life looked like. It wasn't too far away until she found herself to be a different person, a better person than she had been her entire life.
Angad Khanna is the hottest and the most eligible bachelor in New York. He's rich, and has the power of getting things done, his way, with a snap of his finger. Not only that, but fallaciously, he is known to be a Casanova, a player. He's about to be exposed by the semi-famous, Kripa Kapoor. A girl for whom everything is a commodity. While money and fame are the things her life revolves around. Things don't go according to her plans when she is assigned to expose Angad Khanna, because its her who ends-up being exposed, to none other than her own self.
They are sitting across each other in a dark room with a candle resting on the table between them. A voice asks them both, "Love?"
She replies by saying, "Lust."
He replied by saying, "Need."
Unsatisfied with each other's answers, they both nod. The voice asks them again, "Money."
"Life." Confident with her answers she sits back in the chair comfortably and crosses her leg over the other.
He smiles looking at her, nods his head again looking at the candle between them and then replies. "Commodity."
She sits back in the comfy armchair and waits for the next question.
"God." The voice asks already knowing their answer
"Inexistent." She replies and looks at the man in front of her.
"Love." He replies looking at the lady across with dreamy eyes.
"Angad Khanna?" The voice asks the young lady.
"My key to success." With that she gets up and leaves him alone in the room.
"Kripa Kapoor." The voice asks him.
"My life." With that he gets up himself and leaves the room.
A young guy stands in the center of the room, behind the lit candle, grinning. With a sigh he says, "Life itself will teach her the meaning of
Joined: 25 October 2007
Stretching her arms, she sat up and tied her hair up, after locating which wrist her tie was on. Rolling out of bed, she grabbed her towel that was laying on the arm of her royal red settee and ambled into the bathroom. Standing under the shower now, she pressed the button that said cold, and pushed the button labeled shower. She jerked back and her eyes opened as adrenaline pumped into her. Instantly, she pushed the button that said, warm, and stepped back under the spray.
When she stepped out of her bathroom in a robe, she instantly found her phone bussing somewhere in her bed. Pulling the blankets and sheets aside and received the call.
"Hello." She said walking the her million dollar closet.
"Don't be annoyed darling, its your day to bring in the coffee."
"Oh. My. God." She said lamely. "I so totally forget, gosh!"
"Shut the hell up." She demanded and began looking through her piles of clothing. "Text me what you guys want, I'll pick it up on my way."
"Awesome, see you in a while."
Without a goodbye, she disconnected and tossed the phone over her back, on the bed. She was correct, she thought grimly, rubbing her finger against her temple. The damned hangover! With a sigh she turned and found a bottle of aspirin in her drawer, popped two pills in her mouth, and washed them down with a small sip of water. Now, quickly pulling out something classy to wear, she dressed. Blow-dried her hair, leaving curls at the end, and rushed to Starbucks after gathering her stuff.
When she entered her office at exactly eight-fifty five, everyone in her way greeted her and moved out of her way. The lady who was about the enter the elevator got out of her way and allowed her in, alone.
On the fifteenth, and last floor of the large building, the Editor-In-Chief of the magazine Secret, asked his staff sitting in the boardroom, with a control temper, stripped with a sarcastic smile, and asked, "Where is my darling, Kripa Kapoor."
"Right here." She said, opening the door with her hip, carrying coffee in her hands. "I'm sorry to disappoint you, Ethan, I'm not late." She gave everyone their coffee's never taking her eyes off the handsome man. Still looking at him, she stripped out of her black Prada coat, set it on her chair, her coffee on the table, her briefcase on the floor, and stood, gracefully, in front of Ethan with a smile. Looking at the elegant, diamond and white gold, watch bound around her wrist, she said, looking back at him now, "There are exactly thirty seconds till nine. My contract says, if you don't remember, I'm paid for being here from nine to six Monday to Friday, and am paid double for every hour I spend after six." She sat down and the clock hit nine.
Not at all surprised by her, he sat down and cleared his throat. "Our ratings have dropped in the past year, we've come down to number five, from one. Explanations?"
"Our lack of sensibility." Kripa said leaning back comfortably in her leather chair. Everyone watched her reach for her briefcase, from which she pulled out a few magazines and spread them on the table in front of them.
"This says nothing, Kripa." Mia said slightly confused.
"Wrong." She stood and watched to the bill board that had the covers of the past fifteen covers. "Martha Stewart. Bill Gates. President Bush and his political battles." She said pointing at all the coverer. Then, walking to the magazines laid on the oval table she read the titles, "How Brittany divorced Kevin. Jessica Simpson finds herself a new boyfriend. In n' Out: the latest trends of 2006." She sat back down, joined her hand under her chin. "You still don't know why?" She sighed and sipped her coffee, spoke again after a new seconds. "We live in New York, like is fast here. No one has time to breathe for themselves in this busy place. Our job is to make their life easier by giving them lighter topics, less stressful topics. Secrets that are and aren't true, controversy. What do we give them? Politics. No one cares! There are fifty news channels that do that, over four newspapers who inform New York every morning with the latest details of D.C. That's there job."
"What are you trying to say Kripa?" Ethan said drumming a pencil on his palm.
"We aren't living up to what we have delivered in the past. Our performance, our layouts, our staff, at a large proportion, are old, repeated. We need people who are young, who know what today's generations wants. We also need people who don't care about exposing people. We need to change our flavor, our layout. That's all I have to say."
Slightly dumbfounded, everyone just looked at her and than waited for someone to speak again. She rolled her eyes. "Ethan," she gave him a glare. "It's time I got a promotion and you a demotion."
Ethan's mouth dropped open. He looked at her with the same look she was giving him.
She mimicked his open mouth and rolled her eyes. "For Christ's sake, Ethan! I honestly don't get paid enough to do the work."
He shrugged. "Nor do I."
"Bull's crap!" She threw her hands up, stood up and looked at everyone. "Let's be high school students now! Assignment for tomorrow, twenty points, a list of ideas. Good, secretive ideas. Dismissed."
She watched everyone but Ethan leave. But he stood, turned, and met his girlfriends mouth. She wrapped her arms around him and moved her head back slightly, met his sexy blue eyes.
"You need to stop treating your boyfriend like crap."
She laughed and kissed him again. "Correct. But you see, I hate my boss." Laughing she kissed his cheek and let go. "But honestly Ethan." She picked up her coat, tossed her coffee in the dustbin. "We don't have a staff that efficient enough."
"I can't fire people."
"Editor-in-Chief, you are sweetheart, you can do anything you want to anyone." She tied the belt of her coat at the side of her waist and picked up her purse, leaving the briefcase alone. "I have a few meetings with a few photographers. I'll see for lunch?" She leaned over and kissed him again.
"Look through the few samples in my briefcase. Bye!" She wiggled her fingers and rushed out the door.
Looking at the swinging door, Ethan sighed and laughed. "She's crazy."
He listened patiently to every suggestion every leading fashion company had to give him before actually voicing his own opinions. "I honestly don't mind being to new male model for Guess.
"We would love to add you to the family, Mr. Khanna." Said the representative from Guess.
"It's Angad." He smiled at the young lady. "And, the pleasure would be all mine. I would like to see your contract…"
"Ms. Snow. You can fax them to me, and then I will give you my final answer." He stood up and took his jacket. "Thank you." He walked out the double doors of the room, with his assistant following him.
"Why Guess out of all the others?" Asked Veronica Blunt, once they were in his car.
"I liked wearing the brand as a kid." He laughed when she rolled her eyes. "I'm kidding. I've never done anything with them before, so I thought I'd give them a chance. Forget all that, how's your daughter, she was having complications."
The lady beside her, in her mid-fifties, sighed. "She's better." Then leaned over to kiss his cheek. "It's very nice of you to remember, handsome."
"Anytime. You can go home if you want now, we're done for the day."
"Thanks. Anything for tomorrow?"
"Nothing big, I have a few shoots. I can manage them." He said before she could pull out her agenda. "Be with your daughter."
"Thank you." She said again and smiled warmly. "I'm lucky to have a boss as understanding as you."
"I'm lucky to have an assistant like you. Have a good day." He said as she got out of the car. Once she was gone, he threw his head back.
"To where, sir?" His driver asked.
"I want another cup of coffee."
"Coffee it is."
Kripa walked out of Starbucks after her long and boring meeting with the useless photographers and crashed into someone, spilling her coffee over her coat. She cursed under her breathe and then looked up at the man. She recognized him right away.
"I'm so, so sorry." He reached in his pocket and gave her his handkerchief
"You should be." She snatched it, cleaned the spot, and shoved it back in his hand. She looked up at him for a moment, rolled her eyes, and back into the store to get herself another cup. Before she could pay for her order, he paid for her.
"I owe you," he said handing her the cup. "I'm sorry."
She looked up at the man who was much taller to her, five, seven height. "I agree. Now please excuse me." Throwing her head back, she blew up at the hair falling in her eyes and walked out the door.
Slightly confused at her behavior still, he asked for his coffee and walked away.
He reached home and walked straight to his phone and listen to the messages while check his mail. He tossed the bills in one pile and fan-mail in another. His ears disregarded all the messages until he heard his mothers voice. With a smile he leaned back in his chair and listened to her sweet voice, asking him how he was, and when he was planning to visit her and his father.
"Very soon, Mom." He frowned and fished his cell out of his pocket and called her.
"Hello." Her voice was still young and pretty, like her face.
"Angad! How's my child?"
"Great. Just got your message, so I thought I'd call. How are you and Pa?"
"He's great, so am I. We miss you, as does you sister."
"I'll come home for Christmas and New Year. Promise."
"You said that when Spring and Thanksgiving came around, sweetheart. You need a break, and I need to feed you more."
He laughed. "I miss you a lot. If I could, I would come over right now."
"Why don't you, for a week?"
"I would Mom, but I can't. There's so much happening." With an exhausted sigh he ran a hand through his hair.
"I know, baby. For a weekend?"
"You're too much. But fine, I'll come for the weekend, don't tell anyone else."
"Deal! Love you."
"Love you too, Ma." He hung-up and began reading his fan mail.
Later than night, when Kripa entered her own house, she walked to the phone and listened to her answering machine, while stripping out of her cloths and finding herself a night suit. The messages begun with random calls, from random companies, and ended with her mother called just a few minutes before her arrival. After changing into a pair of pajamas and a tank top, she sat on the bed with a glass of wine and called her mother. She had hell of a large family, and she hated seventy-five percent of them for the people they were.
"Hey, Mom." She said pushing the thoughts away. "You called?"
"I was just calling to check on you. How are you?"
"The same I was when you called Friday night. God, Mom, I'm your twenty-six years old, very independent daughter. You don't have to call me everyday to find out if I need something. Specially because I don't about oh, 99.99% of the times. And, when I do, I never call you guys. I stopped when Dad threw me out of the house freshman year of college."
"I know." Her mother said very disappointed. "I called to let you know your younger brother decided he's getting married."
Kripa's blew out a breath when she heard her mother sniff.
"I'll call him Mom."
"Yeah. Fine. Bye."
"Bye, Mom." She hung-up and fell down on the mattress and closed her eyes.
"Ideas?" Kripa asked standing behind Ethan's chair, hands on his shoulders.
"Considering that most of our magazine is completed for this circulation," Mia began looking at the hands that were resting in his ex-boyfriends shoulders, "and we have room for one more article, why don't we give our best writer this assignment."
"And, that is?"
"You, Kripa, should expose the Casanova, Angad Khanna."
"No!" Ethan stood up instantly, shocking Kripa. "The man can sue us."
"Not if what we publish is true, and we have proof to back it up." Kripa pushed him back down on the chair. "But I'm not up for it."
"Kripa." Mia said lifting an eyebrow. "Chicken."
"My left foot, Mia. The man more than likely knows who I am."
"He doesn't. I checked. You've never interviewed him, you've never come in contact with him…"
As Mia continued listing, Kripa thought about the encounter the day before.
"And think!" Mia said loudly, getting her attention back. "If we can be the first magazine to publish anything against the man, with enough proof so he can't deny, our rating will fly."
"I like it, Kripa." Ethan said nodding. "Very nice. And, I think Kripa would be the best at the job."
"I'm sure he won't have a hard time finding out who I am."
"Nope. Look at yourself in the mirror, Kripa." She turned and looked at the mirror as Mia asked. "If you changed your fake dark blond hair back to your original brown, and took the contacts off so your natural blue eyes were exposed, no one would be able to recognize you. Cut your hair a few inches, it'll do the trick."
"I agree." Ethan said nodding again.
"Well, Angad Khanna," Kripa said looking at herself in the mirror, "if you're my key to success, my key to the top, so be it." She winked at herself and smirked.
Joined: 25 October 2007
He was returning from the airport, turning his car at the curb, when suddenly someone came running and he crashed right into the person.
"Shit!" Horrified, he got out of the car and rushed the young lady in front of his car, bleeding. "Oh God help!" Quickly picking her up, he rushed her to the car and to the emergency room at a nearby hospital.
He was still pacing in front of the door of the ICU room when the doctors came out. "Is she okay?"
"She seems fine. You can see her."
"Thank you." He rushed inside and found the unfamiliar face laying on the bed, eyes closed, head and arm bandaged. Leg fractured. He blew out a breath and walked to her.
"Excuse me." He said and watched her eyes open to dark blue chips. "I'm so sorry, this is all my fault." Panicked to see tears brimming in her eyes, he sat down on the bed. "I'm sorry, I didn't do it on purpose. Can I call a family member of yours here?"
"No." She rubbed her uninjured hand on her eyes, shook her head. "I don't know anyone here, I've only been here for six months. And, my boss just took my job away from me and took the house. I'm homeless and hurt now. And, someone stole my stuff while I was waiting for a taxi, before you car hit me." Tears spilled from her eyes, but they weren't fake. Every tear told her and him that she was in pain. She was, she thought wiping them away, in major physical pain at the moment. The accident was never supposed to be this major.
"Stop crying." He said, touching her arm lightly. "Can I do something for you?"
He looked at her helplessly. She was there because of him, going through so many problems in her life, he could help her out. "I'm sorry about everything, Ma'am. You can stay at my place as a guest until you don't get better and find yourself another place to live and a job."
"Thank you so much!" She sniffed looking at him.
"I'll go talk to the doctors…"
"Kripa." She said with a small smile.
"Kripa. I'll go talk to the doctors." When he was gone, she closed her eyes and huffed in anger.
Later that night when Angad went home, leaving Kripa under observation, Ethan came to visit her. She was laying, unable to sleep because of the pain when he came in and instantly embraced her.
"Ethan. Dork, you're heavy like an elephant right now. Get off!"
"I'm sorry." He kissed her softly and then the heavy bruise on her cheek. "This was a stupid idea."
"Yes it was. What's the plan now?"
"You're going to have to some how convince him to let you help with his work when you are able to move. Until then keep an eye on his activities at home. Don't you dare mess things up, this is very important. I'm going now. Bye."
"Bye!" Quickly kissing him back, she watched him leave, and satisfied, closed her eyes.
He helped her into the house a few days later, on a wheel chair. "You have a lovely house, Angad." She said looking at the high ceiling and expensive artwork. The house was like a royal palace with rich reds and exotic blues that added to the feel of the house. The paintings scattered around the house were framed in dirty gold frame on white walls.
"Thank you. There are no rooms on the first floor, so you'll have to travel up and down from the elevator if you need to. But, I'll make sure someone is around you at all times."
"Anytime. I'm hardly ever home so you won't have to see my displeasing face very often." He rolled the chair in the elevator and stood behind her.
"You make your living from that displeasing face, Angad."
"Foolish people love my face."
Kripa was confused, the man had been with her for three days now and he'd not even once attempted to touch her, more than the time he touched her arm. "You live alone?"
"Yes." He drove out the chair and lead her into a corridor with loads of doors. "My parents and sister live in Boston and they refuse to move here with me. I'm not married, nor do I have a girlfriend right now. I'm a poor, lonely soul." He sighed sarcastically. "That's my room." He said pointing the to door across corridor. "And, yours is this one. I would have given you something closer to the elevator, but the other rooms aren't in the state."
"It's okay." When he opened the door of the room, she cleared her throat so she wouldn't gasp. The place was as big as her apartment. "This is lovely."
"Glad you liked it. Do you need anything else? You should let your family know."
She simply shook her head. "That's fine. I need clothes to wear and I'm sorry, but I'm famished."
"That's fine. I'll ask one of my maids to get you catalogues and you can pick your outfits, I can't shop for you. And, one of my chiefs will come to you and you can tell them what you want." He looked at his watch. "I've got to rush. Make sure you have your medicines."
She nodded, watched him walk away. "One more thing."
"Could you help me on the bed?"
"Sure." He wrapped his arm around her waist. When she began to move and lost balance he looked down at her. "Put your weight on me Kripa." When she wrapped her arm around his waist and laid her weight on him, he took her hand and helped her to the bed. He fixed the pillow behind her back and under her leg. "If you need anything, just ask someone. There's an entire collection of movies and books in my library, feel free to ask someone to get you anything. I'll see you at dinner if I can get back home." Dumbfounded at his niceness, she simply nodded. When he left, she closed her eyes and thought of ways to get him in trouble. Maybe he was being nice because he was afraid she would go tell the press that he tried to kill her.
She spent the rest of the day watching movies from his library, as her brain was too tired to read. At the same time, she thought of ways to get him close to her, try and seduce him and then make it seem like he was forcing her. This stupid injury threw her entire life down the toilet.
Around eight, she found herself hungry again and picked up the cordless and asked one of the maids to attend her. When the door opened, her eyes were closed. "I want a light dinner, a soup and pasta. And lemonade."
"On its way, Madame."
She jerked her head up and opened her eyes. She sat up straighter and hurt her leg, hissed under her breath, and felt his hand on her arm for the second time.
"I'm sorry." She breathed in and out a few times and looked at him. "I thought it was the maid.." God, Kripa! She told herself pissed, you're not supposed to be like this. Yes, you are, said another voice. You're a nice, helpless girl, remember?
"It's okay. How was your day?" He sat down beside her and looked at her. She looked familiar, he thought trying to remember, where, if he had, seen her before.
"Boring. I'm not used to just sitting in bed all day."
"I understand. Where did you work?"
"At a newspaper firm, a very small one. I got late to work and the stupid man kicked me out." It wasn't a big lie, magazines and newspapers were almost the same thing.
"Well that's a pity. Would you like your dinner in here?"
"I thought so. When I was small, I broke my legs and arms, trying to do a skateboard stunt over the stairs, my mom made me stay in my room for three days before I could even have dinner with my own family."
She didn't even realize when he had started to help her to her wheel chair. But being able to read his expression, she saw he missed his mother. The fool, she thought, with a mental smirk. A great actor, he was, she thought and smiled as he continued telling the story. She knew for a fact he was trying to be nice to her, so later she would tumble in bed with him without a problem or any hesitation.
Three weeks later, in the end of October, she was able to walk around more, and by now she knew exactly what his schedules regularly were. She'd talked to Ethan while he wasn't around just to let him know she was fine. Talking to Ethan, she found out Angad's assistant was on a leave because of some family emergency. It was the perfect time to ask him if she could get a job. She was capable of moving and that's really all she needed to do.
It surprised her, however, in the three weeks, the man barely ever got close to her. If he ever did, he did to help her with something. If she needed help with dressing, he never even offered to help, instead he sent in a maid. He was straight forward with her, not a bit of a flirt that some people conveyed him to be. The things published about him couldn't be completely false. Either that, or the man already had figured out who she was.
No, that couldn't be true. He would have thrown her in jail by now. But then again, he did almost kill her under his car. So maybe he knew who she was and was being nice so she couldn't write anything wrong. She also realized, he knew a reporter, as big as her, would never write something so completely false about just a huge personality without some reality behind it.
That was it, she decided and sighed, unknowingly at the dinner table four weeks after the accident.
"Anything wrong Ma'am?" Asked the maid standing beside her.
"Can you pass me the water?"
"Yes, Ma'am." She poured it for her and then put the crystal pitcher away.
"He'll be here in a few minutes, Ma'am. Things are hectic for him since his assistance is on leave for the next six months or so."
"Oh." Not at all hungry, she began toying with her food. Then catching herself, she placed the fork down and pushed the plate back. "I'm finished for the night. I'm going to Angad's library to get something to read."
She walked into his library for the first time and found herself amazed by the amount of books, movies, and music collection he owned. Extremely interested, she walked to his book case and browsed the titles. She found everything. Fiction and non-fiction. Biographies and autobiographies. Mystery and Romance. Classic authors to the most recent ones. Not very interested in the romance, she looked through the mysteries and pulled out a few interesting titles. Already lost in the first page, she sat down on the chair, pushed neatly behind his desk and began reading. It wasn't long until she'd already gone through the first 150 pages, and had moved to the sofa across the room. Feeling her medicines begin to work now, her head dipped down and she opened her eyes again, trying to get back into the book. Unsuccessful, her book fell in her lap and she closed her eyes falling asleep.
Angad was surprised not to find her in her room. Upon the maid telling him she was going to go to the library, he walked in to check on her. To his surprise, he found her cuddled on the sofa, the book nearly falling off her lap. Unintentionally, he smiled and tilted his head slightly just looking at her. She was definitely a beautiful creature, he thought fixing a pillow under her head minutes later and covering her with a blanket. Then, he crouched down beside her and just looked at her. She had lovely high cheekbones, with beautiful blue eyes that were thickly lashed. Her hair was cut short, a few inches under her shoulder, a wonderful light brown, that made her skin look lighter and more flawless than it already was. He noticed the light bruise on her cheek for the first time and wanted to touch it. He even picked up his hand, but she suddenly moved. He dropped his hand instantly and stood up, expecting her to open her eyes. When she went still again, he just smiled. Turning the lights off, he walked out the library, leaving the door open, slightly.
Joined: 25 October 2007
The next morning, she sat down on the breakfast table, slightly embarrassed. "Morning, Kripa." He greeted, passing her the basket of bread. "Did you sleep well?"
"Yes, thank you for the pillow and blanket."
"I didn't do that." He watched her eyes lift and looked at him shocked. "Just kidding, I did. I didn't want to wake you up."
"Thank you, anyways. I had to ask you something." When he simply nodded she continued. "I heard your assistant is on a leave."
"I need a job, Angad. Can I replace her until she gets back? I'll find myself a new job by then and be out of her."
"If you think you can do that."
"Of course I can."
He lifted a brow at the hint of temper and frustration he heard in her voice and saw in her eyes. "Okay then. You know what you need to do?"
"Dates, pretty much, right?"
"Yup, you have to travel with me for the most part. Can you do that?"
"I can, I'm sure I can in fact."
"I don't care."
"Okay. You're on from today then. I have to leave for a shoot in two, would you like to accompany."
"But can I go to my doctor before that? I lost my eye glasses, I need them."
"You have two hours."
"Thank you." Quickly finishing her breakfast, she left the table. This was the perfect time to go see Ethan.
She walked into Ethan's cabin and saw delight on his face, and in the way he kissed her. "How's everything?"
"Slightly. I wanted to come see you. I've got the job, I'll be traveling with him everywhere. And, here's my plan. We have to defame him in some manner."
"What's in your mind?"
"Nothing yet." She said with a shrug.
"I have something in mind then." He pulled her closer and whispered in her ear.
After seeing him, she went to her apartment and got the glasses and went back to Angad's house.
Tonight was going to be lots of fun, she decided with a smirk.
"It wasn't all that bad." Kripa shrugged looking at Angad after his tiring two hours shoot.
"Like you'd know."
Kripa rolled her eyes, looked out the window. Of course she knew! She had been a part of these shoots, more important ones, before in her life. Longer ones. More hectic ones.
When he said not another word, for the next few minutes, she looked back at him. His head was resting against the window and his eyes were lightly closed. He looked so tired, she thought, and was surprised by the rush of pity that fell over her.
Instantly, she pushed the thought aside completely and told herself to concentrate of the mission she was sent here for. She was to expose this man, and that was going to begin tonight.
"You're going to dine with me tonight?" He asked suddenly.
"Yes, of course. The dinner is important to you. I'll be there with you, as your assistant. There is a slight problem."
"That is?" He asked shifting in his seat impatiently. There was something about her.
"I have nothing to wear."
"It has been arranged, Kripa. Lets just hope it fits."
A little shocked, she simply nodded, and looked back out the window. She was rich, not as rich as him, but rich enough. She had never sat in a car this lavish. More than often, she found herself in trains and dirty cabs. Living like this, for the next… God knew how long.
She sat down on the bed and closed her eyes, their next issue was out, and the rating had been disgusting. Their next one came out in two days. She was already behind because of this unplanned accident she'd met with. She walked to the laptop, on the desk across the room, and went to her e-mail account. There she checked the list of magazine rating for this circulation and found hers to be number six. Angry, she slammed the screen on the laptop and sat in the armchair, extremely upset and depressed, for the next thirty minutes.
Angad was waiting for his "assistant" downstairs sipping on a glass of wine, while flipping thought channels. When he found nothing worth watching, he simply turned the T.V. off and, leaving the glass on table, turned. From the stairs across him, he saw Kripa walk up, walking faster than she needed to, finishing wearing her earring in her left ear. But that wasn't the point.
Angad blinked once, then again. When nothing changed and she continued walking towards him, with a smile on her face, he almost tripped, standing still, on his own feet. She was gorgeous. And, he was shocked he'd not noticed until know. She was wearing a champagne colored glittering dress that exposed her front and back. There was a long cut on the left side of the dress, exposing her sexy long leg. He looked back at her face, concentrated. Her blue eyes were sparking with humor. Her hair fell slightly below her shoulders, feathering in different directions, showing off the rest of her long, slender back. He watched her run a hand through the front of her hair, and lift an eyebrow at him.
He lowered his eyes at that moment and picked up the jacket of his suit from the chair. When he turned back, she was standing in front of him.
Now that she was so close, he saw the light brown liner she was wearing around her eyes, it was smudged on purpose, blending beautifully into the gold eyes shadow she was wearing. When she tucked the right side of her hair behind her ear, the long gold chandeliers were exposed. She was wear nothing more than skin around her neck.
When she spanned in front of his nose, he came out of his daze again. "Shall we go?" She asked.
"Yeah." She walked away from him towards the door. "Kripa."
She turned quick, but graceful, and smiled at him. "Yes?"
"You should tie your hair up." He saw the surprised on her face as she ran a hand over her hair. "I'm sorry, it was just a thought. You'd just be able to show the earring a little more, and, it'll just look better since you aren't wearing a necklace."
She smiled and watched him roll his eyes and then wave his hand on the air, flustered.
"I'm sorry. I'm babbling, I'll see you in the car."
He walked, no she thought with a wicked smile, he rushed past her, without any eye contact. As she followed him calmly, she looked at herself in the one of the tall mirrors and scooped her hair up with one hand, looked at herself for a few seconds and smiled. The man had fashion sense, she thought rushing up to her room again to find a matching clip.
He was sitting in drivers seat when she got outside. Awkward, she thought sitting beside him, without eye contact, he was driving himself to a dinner party as big as this one?
"Sorry I just…" she just touched her hair and looked straight again. "We can leave."
"I was waiting for your permission, Your Highness." For the first time since he'd known her, he saw color rush to her cheek.
The only twist was, to him what seemed like a blush or an embracing moment, was actually anger rushing to her face.
She'd listened to his advice, he thought adjusting his mirrors, she looked finished with her hair twisted up, held by something that looked like a fancy chopstick, with one pointy end, and one decorated end. Her hair had so many layers that, some of her hair fell out of the twist, lazily, kissing her cheek, only making her look more exquisite than she was already looking.
When they entered the large dinner All American Reject's popular song Dirty Little Secrets, was blasting through the halls. She noticed how so many people at ones rushed to him, pushing her away from him.
Angry, she crossed her arms at her chest. Of course he enjoyed all this, why would he be bothered with her being pushed away. She wouldn't be if she was as famous as him. While she was busy brooding, someone's hand touched her, tightened on one wrist. She looked down at the hand, let it go so the strong one was able to hold it, and then looked up to see Angad pushing his way out, towards her.
"I'm so sorry." He said leaning down to her ear. "I didn't mean to just leave you like this."
She turned her face slightly and looked up at him, a part of her, unknowingly, without wanting, melted. She pacified herself by telling herself, this was more than likely what he did with any other lady, before she could be melted away by his amiability.
But the part of her she had berried within her long ago, when her father threw her out, when no one cared for her, when no one wanted to accept her as anything, opened up again and whispered, "he's what you ones wanted." She downed her entire glass of wine and forced the part of her to be locked away again.
"I'm Kripa Kapoor, and very soon will become the name everyone will take with respect." She reminded herself to make sure she wouldn't wander from her mission.
"Yes it will."
Kripa turned around and saw Ethan in front of her. A wide smile crossed her lips, then sank before completing. He took her hand and pulled her away. As he did, Kripa turned to look at Angad to make sure he hadn't seen anything.
Outside, he wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her. "I miss you, baby."
"So do I." She looked up at him. "Angad's going out of state for three days tomorrow, I have to be with him."
"I know." He leaned down to kiss her again.
"Ethan please." She pushed him away, gently. "I'm not in the mood, and if someone sees up it will a huge problem. I have to be with Angad anyways."
When she began to walk away, he took her hand and pulled her back. "I hope you're not going to cheat on me, Kripa, for him. I mean he's better than me. Richer,." He said and saw fury in her eyes with a sheen layer of wetness.
"I don't get into bed with people for their money. I'm not that cheap. I would have stripped for a crowd every night, danced on a pole naked, if I was. I would have tumbled into bed with you by now, my boyfriend for nearly a year now, if I was that cheap."
"I didn't mean that. Kripa. I love you."
She looked away from him, counted till ten and looked back at him. "I know." Leaning over, she kissed his cheek. "I love you too. I want this to be over, Ethan."
"So do I."
For the first time she was expecting him to embrace and understand, but he kissed again. She accepted with a open heart. Yes, there was a time when she was excited to be his girlfriend because it was a way for a better position, but somewhere along the line, she began to fall deeper and deeper. And now, she was close to the thing she was running away from.
She walked back unto the part, and plastered a smile of her face. When she saw Angad, she simply walked to him.
"There you are." He said relieved, rushing towards her. "Where were you?"
"I… in the ladies room."
He noticed the look in her eyes. "Are you sure you're ok?"
"Would like to go home?"
"No, Angad." She took a deep breathe to control her temper. "I'm fine."
He slipped both his hands in his pocket to keep himself from touching her. "Alright. Why don't we sit down and have dinner."
"We can do that." He escorted her to his table and sat down with her beside him, while a few other people joined him. After there, not-so-delightful-dinner, while Angad just chatted with a few people, Kripa began to wonder why hadn't something happened by now. Ethan had planned for everything and nothing had happened, yet.
"You haven't asked anyone to dance yet." The lady sitting across him pointed out looking at Kripa, and gained her attention. "Normally, you've danced with every lady in the room by dinner time."
So he was a jerk, Kripa thought with a polite smile.
"Oh please." Angad said resting his glass on the table and looking at Kripa. "I've just not been in the mood."
"Then you better be now, because I want this dance with you, handsome." The lady sitting in front of him said and held her hand out.
"Of course, I'd love to." With a casual shrug, he took her hand and led her to the dance floor, amid many other couples.
Kripa watched him sipping her wine, and noticed for the second time, how tall the man actually was. He had a firm face with sharp features. His eyes were a mixture of brown, light and dark and green, with just a touch of fiery gold, that stood out, like red on black, when he laughed openly, as he was now. Despite the fact he spent so much time shooting inside, he'd some how managed a real tan that made him look so much more handsome.
Even he was a Casanova, she thought as the dance ended and another lady asked him for a dance, he had a right to be as long as he wasn't hurting anyone. Everyone knew he was rich and famous, his life was like an open book in front of everyone, falling in love with him would be your mistake. So what was the harm in being the charming Casanova he was?
But for her, this charming Casanova, who was swiftly moving from one dance partner to another, was her key to success.
But the same charmer surprised her after the third dance finished, by taking her hand and, anything but, pushing her to the dance floor.
"You have your legs back," he told her placing a hand on his waist. "Enjoy having them back."
She had to smile at the humor that lit his eyes, and lightened her heavy mood. "You're right. You seem to be quite a charmer." She told him placing a hand on his shoulder and taking a step closer, with her hand in his.
"Well, since the media has given me the wonder image of a Casanova, I don't mind using it."
"Agreed. But don't you think it could hurt someone?"
"If you have the power of getting yourself hurt by a established Casanova, you've got to be foolish."
"Right you are, again."
He bowed his head slightly, "Like always." When she just laughed, touching her head lightly to his chest, he had to smile. Something was bothering her deep within, he knew, but he just couldn't figure out what. "You look much better when you smile, Kripa."
She looked up at him and although the smile of her lips disappeared slightly, the twinkle in her eyes stayed. She simply pressed her face lighting into his shoulder and finished the dance.
When they were leaving the dinner, as Angad was saying good byes to the last few people, she heard someone scream across the room. Her head turned, and like she expected, so did Angad's and her operation began as he rushed towards the, what seemed like, couple.
Joined: 25 October 2007
The cameras turned towards the couple, more towards Angad. "Anything wrong, Beth?"
Beth told him that this man has been harassing her all evening. Now that she tried to confront herself, he started to physically abuse her. Kripa noticed how patiently Angad listened to both their stories and then explained to them how they could just end the entire matter and go their own ways. She was a little shocked when the man, taller, more buff than Angad, pushed him back. Angad controlled his temper, she noticed, and tried again by simply talking to the man. But, he only found himself punched in the mouth, and had it bleeding.
But she didn't notice the red gushing out of his lower lip.
Angry now, he took hold of the mans collar and pinned him to wall. Kripa ran to him when she noticed that of he wasn't stopped now, Angad could have killed the man who was helplessly begging Angad to leave him.
Kripa pulled his arm and yelled, "Security!" This wasn't supposed to be happening, she thought as security rushed between them and broke the fight. It was suppose to look like a small fight to simply damage Angad's image as a Casanova- and the concept obviously was not working.
"Angad." She yelled, then pulled him away furiously, when he tried to free his arm. "Stop. Lets go home." Like she knew him inside out, she searched his pockets of his car keys and pulled him out of the room, avoiding all press and media, to his car.
Outside, as she opened the passenger seat for him, they both heard the media in the background, struggling to get to Angad.
Praise the lord, Kripa thought slamming the door ones he was sitting, that the security was holding them off. This was not only going to ruin Angad's image, but ruin hers. She jammed the key into the ignition, cursing Ethan for making this bigger than it was meant. What was wrong with the man? She would have to talk to him and end this in a day or two. She had to leave the mission incomplete.
She drove them to his royal house in complete silence. She'd turned the radio loud, however, to prevent any conversations until they got home.
Once they did get home, she punched in the number at the gate for it to open and then proceeded to do the same at the doors. She was too angry and impatient to wait for one of the maids to open the doors for them.
He noticed her being this quite was going to get him in trouble.
She threw the doors open like she owned them, left them open for Angad to close them. She turned around the second the door clicked behind them both.
"What the hell was that?" She shouted and had him staring at her. "You created a scene for everyone." This wasn't only unexpected on his part, but even on her part. The original plan was, he would have a verbal fight with them, and she would be able to pull him away, without getting his mouth ripped open. Which, she noticed before yelling again and, to her shock, ran towards him.
"Your mouth is bleeding." Flustered, she covered her face with both her hands. "Sit down." She said moments later dragging him towards the sofa set. "I'll go get the first aid. Where is it?"
"In the first cabinet, left side of the kitchen door. Can I get some aspirin and water?"
"Yeah." She took her shoes off first, he noticed and then walked to the kitchen, the dress sweeping the floor.
She came back moments later to find Angad sitting the way he was when she left. Almost unsure of her own actions and thoughts, she sat down on her knees carefully. She'd pulled her hair out of that twist, he noticed as she dabbed a swab into rubbing alcohol.
"Hold your breathe," she mumbled. "It's going to sting."
But she pressed it against the corner of his mouth and heard him hissing and cursing.
"Sorry." Like she'd done this a thousand times before, she took out a small round bandage, some cotton, and more rubbing alcohol. She cleaned the cut once more with the cotton, before putting the bandage on. After that, she took out two pills of aspirin from its bottle and gave it to him with the water. Watched him take the pills, still looking at her.
"Thank you." He said giving her the glass back.
"Whatever. But I'm still angry."
"Listen to me." She snapped. "You aren't supposed to hit anyone in public, even if he does first. You have an image to protect." She couldn't even understand why she was saying all this, but she continued. "Just know how you're going to handle the press tomorrow morning. Does it hurt?" She asked touching his cheek.
He hadn't heard a word she'd said, she realized by his response. Not a single word. Despite all that, she smiled. "Good night." Leaning over, she kissed his cheek, spontaneously, and walked away with the first-aid kit.
It didn't matter, however, how she felt anymore. She had taken an assignment and she had to finish at least this part of it. An entire page of the magazine was waiting for this article. That's what she did after taking a quick shower. She sat in nothing more than a bathrobe and skin under it, to write her article. She finished it around three in the morning, exhausted. Reviewed the entire thing thrice, send it to Ethan, and without changing into anything else, she slipped into a pair of fresh underwear and a tank top and tumbled into bed, falling dead sleep, around four-thirty.
She awoke the next morning to the door of her room opening. She rolled on to her back from her stomach and saw Angad standing in the doorway. Without a care she reached for the clock and read, one. Shocked out of her life, she sat up in her bed, then embarrassed at her the tank top that fell low, she pulled the blanket up.
"I'm sorry Angad. I need two minutes, please."
"I'm sorry myself, for coming like this. I was a little worried since you're normally awake before me." He looked at her, he had come to check on her last night around two, and when he'd found her lights on then and again later, he'd just gone back.
She showered in less than ten minutes and then rushed down stairs with her hair soaking wet. He was having lunch when she got downstairs already. Although she was starved, she first snatched the newspaper from the table and skipped to page three right away. Like she'd expected, the headlines in large font said, "Casanova Earns Black Belt!" She skimmed the article for major points and everything was published the way Ethan had planned, and at the end it said, "?. courtesy to Secret for the information."
She sat down on the sofa and calculated everything together. Angad Khanna, according to the lady Beth and the man with her, was trying to harass Beth. When the other man, his name: Roy, when Roy tried to stop Angad, Angad started arguing and Roy was compelled to hit Angad when Angad didn't budge and continued to harass Beth, they both broke into a physical fight. It was just the was just the way Ethan had changed the plan. There wasn't supposed to be a fight.
She lowered her head into her hands and tried to think of a reason why Ethan changed everything. And only one things kept coming to her mind. He was planning something more than just exploiting Angad Khanna. The game he was playing was much bigger than she was told. And for what? She thought tossing the paper on the table and throwing her head back on the sofa. She'd done a lot in her life to get where she was, but she'd never done anything wrong. If Ethan had promoted her to the position, it wasn't just because she was his girlfriend, but because she had worked hard for years before getting where she was now. For the first time in her life she was doing something not only that was very wrong, but even against her will.
"Kripa." She flinched and quickly opened her eyes.
"Yes, Angad." She stood quickly, hands linked tightly. "Oh damn. Your flight was an hour ago."
"I know. Have you read the papers yet?"
She saw the pain, the embarrassment, and the anger in his eyes now. And, ashamed of herself, she lowered her eyes and nodded. "I just did."
"They terminated the contract with me."
"Oh, Angad." She embraced him tightly, rubbing her hand on his back. But the gesture was more for herself than for him. This game was going to end now and after she gave Angad his respect back. "Everything is going to be okay," she whispered and drew away. "I'll be back in a few hours."
"But Kripa?" She was gone before he could stop her.
"Ethan!" He was conducting a meeting when she threw the door open of the board room and stood in front of him arms crossed. "The meeting is dismissed." She told the staff and moved out of their way so they could leave the room. Once everyone was gone she slammed the door shut behind her and just looked at him. "I'm waiting for an explanation."
He sat down coolly on his chair and swirled the paperweight on the desk. "Explanation is not necessary, Kripa."
"We were exploiting Angad Khanna on truth."
He rolled his eyes, "You've never said that before, Kripa. We're supposed to be a gossip magazine, you reminded us about that in fact. Gossip, isn't always true."
"But, Ethan. Angad? He doesn't deserve this, he's not like every other star. He has a different personality. He's different."
"Are you sure you're the same Kripa Kapoor who left this place before the accident? I think your brain has been injured."
"Shut-up Ethan. There are so many ways we can bring our magazine to the top spot, this isn't one of them." She walked to him and framed his face in her hands. "Ethan, if he finds out I'm doing this he can ruin our magazine. What we are doing is illegal anyways. We need to stop it."
Her eyes were so soft and pleading like they had never before, Ethan noticed and nodded. "Fine, you should finish your job as his assistant and then say you got a job here in a few weeks, just so he doesn't suspect us."
"Thank you, Ethan." She kissed his cheek and then lowered herself into his lap. "I'm sorry for getting your hopes up, this just isn't right."
"Yeah. You should leave now."
She was surprised with his reactions and stood up. When he just went back to work, disappointed, Kripa left. She found the videos that had been recorded of the previous night and took them to her apartment with her. After she looked thought them, she clipped out the parts that showed Angad wasn't doing anything wrong and sent them to the news channels with a typed note, by anonymous, saying that she had witnessed everything. Basically that Angad hadn't done anything wrong. The video clips being the proof.
Once that was done, she knew she could breath without guilt on her shoulders.
The next morning, Angad was shocked by the apology letters he received through mail and in the newspapers. Every news channel, who had played with the topic, said sorry on air. His phone didn't stop ringing all day, and his inbox was full of Text Messages every thirty minutes. When he figured out it was all Kripa's doing, he went to her room. She was sitting on the floor, dressing her calf from the accident, when he walked into the room.
She looked up and smiled. "Hello. Did you need something?"
She frowned when she couldn't get the dressing around the horrible cut evenly and tried ones again. "Let me help you," he said sitting down in front of her.
She began to refuse but stopped when she noticed there was no point in stopping him. "Has everything cooled down about the other night?"
"No." He said tying a small knot at the end of the dressing and pulling her pant down her leg. He sat down on his but in front of her and smiled. "I'm bombarded with e-mails, texts, and letters. And, I want to thank you for doing this."
"It's my job."
"Thank you." There was a moment of silence after until he spoke again. "The company I was shooting with called. They are sorry and they want to do the shoot."
"That's great, Angad. When are you leaving?"
"We're leaving in two days. It gives enough time for the entire matter to cool down." He watched her tie her hair up in a high ponytail.
"Your previous assistant," She began cautiously. "Is she coming back?"
"Her daughter was having complication in her pregnancy. She called a few days ago, she won't be working anymore."
"Oh." Damn! She thought, what a waste.
"Anything wrong?" he asked reading the expression on her mind.
"No, I've just applied at a few places, I should be getting an answer in a month of so."
"Ok." Damn, he thought, grimly. Not cool. "I'm sure I'll be able to find someone else."
"Right." She nodded smiled. "Are you doing anything today, I mean any shoots planned at all?"
"No. There's a slight problem Kripa."
"What?" Oh god, she thought, what could it be now? Did Ethan do something.
"I won't be able to find a suitable assistant in the next month, it's going to be impossible. I was wondering if you could stay for at least two more months. I'll pay you more if that's what you need."
She saw so much hope in his eyes, it was nearly impossible for her to say no. "Ah." Was all she managed a minute later.
"It's okay." He smiled as he stood. "I understand."
He stopped at the door, glanced her his shoulder. "Yes?"
"Two months, nothing more."
He turned around at that with a wide smile on her face. "Thank you so much."
"Anything else?" She asked him when he stayed at the door.
"I was just wondering if you wanted to have dinner with me?" He read her unsure expression.
"Are you asking me on a date?" She asked with a grin.
"I guess. An outing, you could say. No pressure."
"It's not that. I'm seeing someone else right now. He doesn't live in New York," she added quickly, thinking he might wonder why she was staying with him if she had a boyfriend in the city.
"Oh. Better luck next time, Angad." He left the room, and left her smiling at him.
It wasn't going to be hard at all to leave Angad now, Kripa thought with a pleasant smile across her face, thinking about everything that had happened in the last few days. Angad was gone to meet someone for a few hours with gave her time to do anything. Dressed for her perfect outing, back to her office for a few hours, she turned on her beautiful plums and walked towards the door. As soon as he opened it, she found a man standing in front of her.
"Mr. Khanna?" He was from FedEx.
"You can give it to me." She took the packet and singed whatever she needed to. On the envelope it said, Urgent. She went and sat down on the table, she had the right to open his letters as his assistant and she was opening this one thinking it was profession as well.
A smaller package fell on the table, from packet first, followed by a white piece of paper. She unfolded it and found nice the letter handwritten. She scanned it once, and then began reading it.
I know you're shocked to hear from me after such a long time.
A little confused now, she continued reading.
When we met for the first time three years ago, I instantly fell in love with you. It was like flowers blooming before time and the sun setting to early and rising to late. Then, I began waiting for you, to see you, to talk to you, to meet you. I knew you liked me too, I could always read in your eyes. I was really surprised when things just turned around so quickly over night. Anyways, that's not the point here. The point is you have a right to know something. I don't know if you do, but I still remember what we shared. We both know that our love gave me the beautiful gift I never told you about, our son, our two year old Suraj. You rejected me Angad, when you found out I was pregnant, but I never aborted our child like I promised you I would. You must be wondering why I'm telling you now? Because, Angad, I've been diagnosed with cancer. I have no where to leave Suraj, I want you to come get him, or he'll have to go to the orphanage. I loved you then, and I love you even now.
She left her address at the end. With tears in her eyes, she didn't know if they were of pain or disgust, she folded the letter and placed it back in the envelope. She opened the other package next, and looked through the bundle of photographs of Angad and this girl. She put everything back in and dropped her head on the table, unable to understand what had hurt her so much? Was she'd trusted this man so much? Or was it that she had trusted this man so much, to put her career on a short pause, and he'd broken it so terrible. Leaving a girl when she's pregnant. Tears wanted to come but dried in her eyes. And, she decided she would go see, Ethan. She put the package away in her room and left telling, Angad's cook, she was going to back in a few hours.
Joined: 25 October 2007
It was a lovely, sunny afternoon in New York for Kripa as she walked down the streets of New York, on the warm November afternoon. She found herself a cab and asked the driver to drive her to Ethan's house. On her way, she could only think of how Ethan was going to react to this and what Angad would do when he found out about the matter. Even more so, she was troubled with the fact, so unsure of it, what Angad would do once he found out that Kripa had opened and read the entire letter.
"You've arrived, Ma'am."
"Thank you." She paid the fare and got out.
When she reached his house, she rang the bell and then turned the knob. It was locked. She rang the bell again and heard footsteps. When the door opened she was shocked.
When Angad got back home, he instantly asked for Kripa. His chief, Apollo, as handsome as his name defined, told him that she was out for a few hours. A little disappointed he simply got himself a glass of wine and went in the garden to call his mother, whom he hadn't talked to in a while now.
She was excited even as she picked up the phone. "Hello."
"Hey, Mom. What's up?"
"A lot! Your sister had finally agreed to get married."
Shocked, he stood up, spilling some of the wine. "When? To who?"
"She decided a few months ago, but we just found out, darling. And, it's a guy who she's known for a very long time now, since the beginning of college. I think."
"Is he nice, I mean does he belong to a nice family?"
"Yep. They're decent. He has a good job, loves her a lot." She sighed just thinking her daughter was getting married. "I can't believe she's getting married."
"Nor can I." With the same heartfelt sigh, he sat down on the swing again. "So what are the plans?"
"They want to get married after New Years. The boy, he has very suitable sisters you can pick from, I'm sure we can work things out."
"No. Thank you, anyways, Mom." I think I've found the one.
"Okay. What's new with you then?"
"The same really. The scandal that broke-out is better. Under control, thanks to Kripa."
"Kripa?" The alertness in her voice made him smile right away and she knew of it well. "Who is she?"
"She's my new assistant, Mom."
"A friend as well."
"What happened to your old one?"
"She quit, retired rather. She's a grandmother now."
"Ah! I'll wait till you give me that good news."
"I thought it would never happen after…" he trailed off and smiled. "Anyways. I'll talk to you later. Give my love to everyone."
"Take care. Bye."
He dropped the phone beside him and threw his head back, smiled, as Kripa's smile played in front of him.
"Mia?" Kripa said extremely amazed. "What are you doing here?" She saw the horror on her face as well, and it wasn't until then she noticed that she was dressed in nothing more than… Ethan's t-shirt.
"Who is it, Mia?" He asked walking behind her, placing a kiss on her shoulder before looking at Kripa and leaving Mia instantly. "Kripa?"
"Don't you dare!" She screamed it when he tried to reach for her hand. "Don't. I want to talk to you alone for a few minutes."
She walked into the living room and looked at him. "I don't want or need an explanation. It's very clear what happened." She wanted to cry now, really cry, but she couldn't let him know she was weak. Nearly in love with him. "But I want to know why you cheated on me, Ethan?"
"Why?" she screamed again and pushed him away.
His temper rose as well at her violent push. "Because I never actually wanted to date you Kripa Kapoor."
She heard something drop and crash around her.
"It was all a plan by Mia and myself." He said when he saw nothing more than pain on her face. "Dad loved you from the day you joined us. But he wasn't ready to promote you and I was happy with Mia. When I saw that our magazine's rating were rising because of your articles this year, and Dad told me he was going to give you a promotion, I couldn't tolerate it. I saw that Dad was going to make you editor-in-chief, replace me, if I didn't do something soon. Even Mia was insecure and we both planned. There was one way to get you fired, if you wrote something so untrue about someone as popular as Khanna. So we executed the plan. I dated you, thinking you were only after my title."
"You were wrong."
"I realized." He said with a smirk. "It was better than I thought. I made you fall in love with me, it was easy. Gave you promotions, asking my dad, so it seemed like it was because you were my girlfriend. When the ratings started to drop, the way I wanted them to, Mia told you about Khanna's plan. And, as we expected you fell for it, thinking it was all true. Angad Khanna is a f**king sissy. He's never done anything wrong in his entire damn life. And, if you posted things that he knew were untrue, we would be sued, but we would compensate with firing the person who wrote all of them. But you and your new lover, turned everything around. And, everything fell down the drain. I was just about to frame him with something horrible again, anything, but you landed here and I had to tell you everything. Darn!"
She had nothing to say. "Our relationship, that never was true, is over Kripa. You can get out."
She turned robotically to leave.
"Kripa. Just so you don't fell down about yourself, you're a great kisser. I'm sure you would have been just as good in bed, but you never gave me a chance."
Her hand was suddenly on his arm, she spun him around, and wiped her hand across her face once, and then again.
"bas***d!" She yelled and ran from there.
She came back into the house hours later when Angad was sitting in the dinning room looking through some file.
"Kripa, you're back. I need to discuss something about the shoot with you tomorrow." When she didn't listen and just walked towards the stairs, a lifeless look on her eyes, a paleness on her cheeks, he was worried. "Kripa." He tried again.
"He cheated." Was all she said and continued walking.
"Kripa." He dropped the pen and walked to her, grabbed her arm to stop her when she didn't respond to his voice. "Kripa." Her hands were freezing and her skin was pale like a ghosts.
"Who lied, Kripa?" Then he saw the wetness that layered over her eyes. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing. I need to…." She just walked away and walked up the stairs.
He didn't follow her thinking she needed to be with herself. It killed him, nevertheless, to not know what was wrong. She didn't come downstairs for the rest of the night. Around eleven that night, while Angad was busy packing for their trip tomorrow, unsure if she even wanted to take it anymore, he heard something fall in Kripa's room. To check he went.
The room was turned upside down by the time he got there, she'd thrown everything from the dresser on the floor. Glass was everywhere. The bed was also turned completely upside down. She picked up another vase and threw it across the room, and he watched the mirror shatter into a million little pieces, the way he knew her heart was. He rushed to her before she hurt herself.
"Kripa stop!" Thankfully, he wore shoes. "Stop!" He took both her hands and held them tightly.
"Leave me, Angad!" She tried to wrestle out of his hold, but he kept her in place.
There were no tears in her eyes, but instead he saw fury and coldness. "What's wrong?" he asked leaving her hands and taking her face in his hands. Looking at him, her eyes began to close, her head fell on his chest with a thud, and she began to fall on the ground, limply. He scooped her up quickly and took her out of the place, into his room. He noticed laying her down, that her feet were bleeding because of the glass.
He attended them first, carefully taking the glass out, cleaning the blood, and dressing them both. Then, he took her pulse, it was normal now. He sprinkled water on her face, watched her flinch and open her eyes. He sat down beside her, hand on her forehead, just to recheck temperature. It was normal.
When his face registered to her eyes, she sat up and pushed her hair back, and felt the pain in her feet for the first time since she'd hurt them.
"I won't ask you what's wrong, Kripa." He laid a pillow behind her back and pushed her against it gently. "But I'll listen if you want to tell me." When she continued just staring at him, he leaned forward and kissed her forehead. "You can sleep here, I'll go to another room."
When he began to stand, she grabbed his hand quickly. He simply sat down, closer to her, looked into her eyes. They were holding back tears, and he knew she wanted to let them go. She needed to set them free. He cupped the nape of her neck and pulled her into his arms, kept his arms tightly around her and let the tears fall.
After the last tear dried from her eyes, she pulled herself back. "I'm sorry."
He simply nodded and watched her rub her eyes. When she thought everything was alright, she was finished crying, her eyes filled again, and the tears slid down her cheeks. She swiped the back of her hand on her cheek. Embarrassed, she turned her face to the other side and covered her mouth.
Akward, is how Angad felt about just sitting like this while she went on weeping in front of him. He could do something, he sappoused, shifting in place and then placing a hand on her hand.
"Look at me." His voice was soft as were his eyes, strong like the hand that was holding hers. "What's wrong. No," he said quickly when she shook her head, wiping her eyes with her free hand, "unless you don't tell me I can't help you. What did he do?"
She began to cry again and between sobs said, "We broke-up. He cheated…" She dropped her head against his arm. "He left me for someone else, Angad. He was always…"
She broke off when he began combing his fingers through her hair. "It was his loss, Kripa, not yours. You'll find so many other guys who will keep you happier, love you more." He pressed a kiss on her head. "You haven't eaten anything, come down stairs and eat with me."
"No, you go." She left him and wiped her eyes, and know she knew the tears had dried, for a few hours at least. Then, she also remembered the package that came for him before she left.
"I can either tell you as a friend or I can order like a boss. You can pick." His heart, he felt, finally began falling back together, when her lips curled. "Oh thank God!" Angad said looking up at the ceiling.
"Give me two minutes, I'll be down."
"You have two minutes exactly." Giving her hand a pat, he left her in there.
He was laying dinner when Kripa came downstairs minutes later. And, he looked good doing it too, she thought with a smile. Perhaps he was the friend she needed now. What surprised her was the fact that he'd talked to her with so much ease and made her smile when she thought it was impossible to do anything but shed tears.
For who? She thought now, for a man who never felt anything for her. Who played with her feeling, which she recently realized she had. Now that she watched Angad moved around the dinning table in an apron, she realized he correct, she could find better men in the world. Better than Ethan in everyway. But then she thought, was there really? For a second she did think about Angad, until the letter she and photographs flashed in front of her eyes. There was no such thing as an "ideal man." And, if there was one, the closest he got to was Angad Khanna, a point more or less, maybe. Between all that, she laughed at herself that she was expecting from her boyfriend, Ethan, when had taught herself better than that in her life. Yup, it was that simple, she told herself walking towards Angad, there were relationships, there were one-night stands, but there was no such thing as love that lasted. And, the first people to prove that were her own parents.
Absently, she walked to the dinning table, placing both her hands on a chair. She still seemed so lost, he thought placing a hand on hers to gain her attention. "Sit down." He pulled the chair out for her. "How are your feet?"
"They hurt when I walk. I didn't know you had a degree in medicine."
He looked at her then, "I never told you, how do you know?"
Now, she pulled out the letter and the photographs from the pocket of her coat and placed them on the table. "I'm sorry I read it."
"What is it?" He pulled out the letter, from under the photos, dropping them all on the floor. She didn't bother helping him pick them up, because he needed to do that himself. She saw the shock on his face, without a doubt, when the show her face for the first time in so many years. He'd forgotten her, she thought sadly. There wasn't a thing like true love, it was true.
"Just this morning." Whatever it was, it was his business, but she could still offer support like he had. So she placed a hand on his shoulder.
"I won't ask you anything more than I know, Angad. But I'll be there whenever you need me."
He picked up everything and smiled at her. "There's a story behind everything, as there is one behind this one. I won't tell it." Now. Not until this matters to you, Kripa. I'll make sure this letter matters to you one day.
Kripa didn't lose her job at Secret, because she used Ethan's father as a weapon. She told him everything and asked him for a leave. As a apology, she got a leave until the third week of January, a fully-paid leave. On top of that, Mitchell, Ethan's father, was so upset with Ethan, that his position was taken away from him, and Mitchell began to manage the office himself until Kripa got back, fresh with the title of Editor-in-Chief. He deserved it right, she thought with a smile, sitting beside Angad in the plane, two weeks since the good-for-her heartbreak, on another shoot to Italy this time. She liked this job, she supposed, traveling places all the time. Not to mention, fully paid. She also noticed she enjoyed spending time handling Angad's dates, and him sometimes. He was a good guy, loads of fun when they weren't working.
But back to the basket she'd scored. Yes, it was wrong that she used Mitchell in a way, but it was for her well-being, and Ethan's bad, which he deserved more than anyone else. And, that Mia, she would pay for what she did, once she was truly working under her.
"Planning to kill someone?" he asked, tapping on her shoulder, upon seeing the evil smirk on her face.
"It's all the same." She smiled at him.
"Okay." He laughed. "Everything set for the shoot?"
"Yes." She reached into his briefcase. He liked it that she didn't ask every time she needed to any more. In fact, he liked the way she ruled around the house sometimes. "Since you wanted the best in Florence, I booked Westin Excelsior, the reviews said it's a good hotel. It rated number one according to yahoo! Travels, as well. Now you have to like it."
"It's all the same." He mimicked her and made her grin.
"I booked the two room suite, if it's all the same to you."
"No problems. I can bother you whenever I want that way."
She shook her head, noticing the man was more comfortable with her since they'd first started working together in the beginning. It was all work-in-progress, she thought and smiled to herself.
"What are the shooting hours?" He asked, breaking into her thoughts.
"Well, the shoots in the snow, are to be done when it's snowing and it should be tomorrow, according to their weather reports."
"Oh, yeah. Let's just hope they aren't inaccurate, like some of the New York weather channels."
Kripa simply giggled at his comment, then continued. "Anyways. That's that. The location will be faxed to us. We will leave Florence in three days, and go to Venice where you will have to shoot at three places, our stay is four days, hardly any free time there. What a bummer! From there, our last stop is Milan." He caught the dreamy and excited looks in her eyes as she continued speaking. "A few fashion houses want to talk to you there, so the trip there is on your own expenses. The meetings, their times, dates, and who you will be taking to, with a little personality summary, is in this file." She showed him a black file and placed it back in the briefcase.
"You are awfully good at this. If I could I would never let you leave this job."
"Everyone loves me, darling. Tell me something new. However, I haven't book a hotel yet, in Milan, as I didn't know you preference."
The plane landed then and he stood, "My preference, Miss. Kapoor, is the house I own there."
"Oh, well, you can just spend more money on shopping." She spoke foolishly then, and added, "Christmas is around the corner anyways."
He grinned as she followed him out of the plane. "Yes it is." As happy as he might have been about the holidays, he frowned. "I'm sure you're excited to celebrate it with your family."
"I haven't visited back home in over ten years."
He stopped dead and turned around shocked. "What?"
"My father disowned me." She said simply and brushed past him. "Your car is already waiting for you outside. You should hurry."
There was an ice box, he assumed, where her heart might have been. The poor thing, she'd been through so much at such a tender age. But she was strong, emotionally, and everything that happened only made her stronger, more capable of what wanted to achieve in life. He saw, in her eyes very clearly, that she wanted much more than she had. The job she was doing for him was under pressure, in need, need to feed herself. To cloth herself. But he knew, she wanted so much more in every part of her life.
As she had told him, the car was waiting for him… them outside already. More, she was already sitting when got there. The moment his door closed, the car moved, taking them to their hotel.
He wanted to say, ask, so much. She'd respected his feelings about the letter, he would respect her. Nevertheless, he saw she was very upset, even as she smiled every once in a while, looking out the window of the car. He placed his hand on top of hers and tightened his fingers when she looked at him and then there hands. It wasn't until she turned her hand, and linked her fingers with his, that he realized he'd fallen in love with her within a moments difference. He knew, she still thought about whoever broke her heart. He'd loved one person before her and lost her, he wasn't going to lose her.
Smiling, he looked at their hands, then at her.
Joined: 25 October 2007
It was below one degree Celsius by the time they reached their hotel, around an hour or so later. The second Kripa stepped out of the car, first it was rain that fell on her like cold ice chips, and then the rain turned into soft snow, turning her nose and cheeks red instantly. Her legs just might have to amputated, she thought as Angad took her hand and ran towards the entrance, if she stayed out here for another second. It would be cold she knew very well, this was Italy you were taking about. This cold, however, she hadn't realized. She was already sneezing when they entered the warm lobby of the room.
Her sneezing stopped, midway, the moment she looked at what she was standing in. The floor beneath her very expensive boots was marble, and the ceiling above her head covered with snow was wood and water-blue glass and chandeliers. There were little plants everywhere, and small tables, center pieced with real roses, all around.
"Welcome to Florence, Sir. Here are you keys." The receptionist handed her the keys with a smile.
"Thank you," he took the keys and looked back at Kripa. "Shall we go?" He asked her.
"Hmm? Oh." She snapped out quickly. "Sorry. It's just, it's so beautiful."
"I know. But we have to go now." He dragged her with him, while the butlers brought their luggage.
"Grazie." Kripa said to the man when he brought their luggage to the door, and handing her a fax.
"You speak Italian?"
"A little, I took it in college. I'll be using it for the first time." She turned around from locking the door and looked at the stunning room. The walls were painted a dull rose color, with matching flooring and furniture. There was a small glass table in the center of the room, in front of a normal sized sofa, and between two arm chairs. Across the table were a few stairs and the first bedroom, with curtains as its doors. She searched for the second room and didn't find one, and frowned.
"What's wrong?" he asked after fussing with his phone.
"Where's the second room?"
"Well." He looked
D at the first room looked for the other one and didn't find it himself. "There's been a mistake. I'll go find out."
"Call them from here, stupid."
He grinned picking up the phone. "Hi, we requested for a two room hotel, I think we have the wrong room." A pause. "Oh alright then. No, no. Thank you."
"Someone messed up, and the hotel had no more vacancies right now for four days."
Frowning, she dropped in the middle of the sofa, arm stretched over the top of it, one leg crossing the other. "This thing is comfortable enough…" she said bouncing on it to prove it.
"Kripa you're not going to sleep on the sofa."
"Correct you are." She walked to him, smiled charmingly. "You are." And, then kissed his cheek.
"Ah-" he said dumbfounded at her modesty.
"Let me finish," she spoke quickly, "for tonight, we'll switch tomorrow. And, we'll flip a coin on the third night. Now, according to the fax, we're shooting tomorrow in front of Giardino di Boboli. Don't ask what it means."
"Gottcha. So today?"
"Nothing at all, the day is ours." She said excited.
"Anywhere you want." Still very excited.
"A date with me?"
"Of-." She looked at him and lifted an eye brow; he mirrored her.
"Will you have dinner with me? Formally." He asked.
She thought looking at him. He was single, as was she. She hadn't had a dinner with a man, as her date, in some time now, this would be nice, relaxing as someone served her in some disgustingly pricy, fancy, restaurant. And, then she really wouldn't mind lip-locking him either. The man had such a handsome mouth.
"Fine." She said and smiled. "One condition."
"We'll divvy-up the bill."
"We will." He leaned over and kissed her cheek, then the other, "next time. Tonight's on me."
He looked… she couldn't think of a word as she looked at him across the lobby. Just so charming and handsome and manly, rough in such a charming way, she decided finally, and smiled at him as he extended his hand. The hand that she noticed for the first time, was so firm and strong. His body was lean yet muscular. Tall and sharp. He'd chose the right profession, she mused looking at him as he drove to wherever it was they were going. He looked different, more elegant and graceful, dressed in a formal black suit, instead on jeans and a shirt.
"What are you thinking, Kripa?" he asked when he got tired of her just looking at him. "Rather, why are you staring at me like this? Do I look bad?"
"No." She shook her head, laughed. "No." She didn't have to give him an explanation, she never needed, would ever need, to give anyone any explanation. She would never change for anyone.
But she had changed, a little, she realized, and looked back at Angad. And, it was because of the man sitting beside her.
"I would love it," he said after another few minutes, "if you could at least talk to me, princess."
She liked how he addressed her then, and smiled absently. He turned his head and watched her lips curl into that gracious smile, that made his heart flutter and swell. Oh, she was going to drive him mad very soon.
"Well, to start it off then," she finally spoke, "why are we going on this little date?"
"Let's see. A challenging, question this is, Kripa. Maybe because, I like you." He took her hand in his. "Because I enjoy your company." And, brushed his lips over his knuckles. Then, linked his fingers and brought their joined hands to his heart. "You make my heartbeat go faster." He was flirting, she knew very well, and allowed him to keep her hand in his, then allowed him to continue. "Everything becomes blurry around me, except your lovely face. Your voice is like music to my ears, and…"
"That's enough." She said laughing now, slightly disappointed, when he left her hand to turn into the parking lot of the restaurant.
"I thought you might want to hear more." He teased as he turned the ignition off. He rounded the hood and opened the door for her. For him it was snowing rose petals, for her, it was just snowing.
"Is this Italian cuisine?"
"No, they have more than just Italian. They have menus you know."
She rolled her eyes, and said blandly, "really?" She wrapped her hand around his arm just because she was so used to doing that whenever she went out with Ethan. Her mouth seemed to bitter thinking about him.
The inside of the restaurant was settled in a very romantic theme. The entire place was lit only with candles. If she heard anything it was the violinists and pianists playing, and hushed whispering of so many couples. They were lead to their table, which Angad had purposely booked in the back corner.
He helped her out of her heavy coat and gave it to the waiter with his own coat. Under that coat she was dressed in a metallic, light purpled color dress that fell right below her knees. She'd left her shoulder bare with skin, as she did her neck. In her ears she was wear little pearls; that he saw once she pushed her lazily curled hair back.
Her eyes gazed around the room and then met his, locked for two seconds. A waiter came to them and gave them each a menu. "Would you like to order a drink to begin with?"
"Yes, Viognier, for both of us."
Once the waitress left, Angad moved his chair closer to Kripa's, relaxed when she didn't mind or comment about it.
"What type of wine is that?" She asked just for the sake of talking.
"White. It comes from a French winery, originally, a very rare wine that this place has."
She closed her menu, set it aside, plopped her chin in her hand, elbow on the table, and looked at him. "Wine expert as well, are you?"
"I worked for a winery in France for a year when I was studying abroad." He shrugged and relaxed his shoulders. "I was inquisitive."
"That's good. Tell me more."
"The wine is better when had before or after a meal, not with the meal."
She tilted her head slightly, "why?"
He grinned and leaned forward, towards her. "I'm not sure, but it's true. Has to do something with the type of grape its made from." He took her hand away from her chin and held it. "You have beautiful eyes, Kripa."
She blushed, looking away from him, for the first time in years. So many people had told her the same thing, when she was wearing contacts, because they never knew what her eyes really looked like. Now that Angad told her, she blushed like a silly eighteen year old.
"You're not the same person I knew earlier today, Angad. Thank you, anyways."
When their wine arrived, Angad tapped his glass light with hers and said, "to you."
"And, to you." She said and sipped. She let the wine roll around her mouth for a moment and then let it down her throat. It was rich and creamy. Tastes of apricots and oranges mixed, with a hint of grape. Sweet.
"Do you like it?" He asked when she set her glass down.
"Yes. It's very light."
He nodded in agreement. "Tell me more about you Kripa. I barely know you."
"I've nothing much to tell. I'm the first child of my parents four children. Always been the rebellion in the house. I was born in Punjab, hated the lifestyle. We moved to California when I was around twelve. I adapted well. Wanted to study further after high school, my father wanted me to marry and go back. Being the rebel, I refused and studied journalism, advertising, and business management at New York University, went to graduate school there as well. Got my degree in journalism and advertising there. Worked. Lived. Fed. And, I've been following that lifestyle since." She looked down at her bare hands, she no longer wore any rings, and linked them together.
"And, your family?"
"My family." Her tone was gentler now, softer. Sadder. "Mom used to call me often, hasn't in almost three months now. I haven't met them since my freshmen year of college. Forget about me." She said brushing the matter aside. "How about you?"
"My life. I was born in Boston, grew up there, went to college. The normal."
"Where?" Because it felt good to, she unlinked her hands and found his, held it in hers. He simply smiled when she did.
"Ooh. Nice, Dr. Khanna. Why modeling then?"
"Things just didn't work out for me. I was in the last term of medical school when I was approached by a very small company, it sounded cool, I did it. I liked how it worked. It allowed me to be so many different people in one life, so I chose that profession, along with a medical degree as a pediatrician."
"I was thinking something more complex, like a brain surgeon."
"Nah. I like kids. I was going to become a newborn specialist, up to the time they are like three or four."
She wrinkled her nose. "Cute. So, who gave you the big break?"
"Three years ago, I was doing a advertisement for Macys. Marc Jacobs called me and asked me if I was interested in modeling for him for a year, a full calendar shoot, photo shoot, ramp walks, and what not. And, that was it."
"I want to see those pictures."
He picked up his glass and sipped. "My Mom sends me a scrapbook at the end of every year, and it has every picture that's been taken of me, I have a bunch in my house in Milan, we can see them."
"Why didn't you get married?" She wanted to sigh at the way he rubbed his thumb over the back of her hand. So erotic. And, with that she almost kicked herself for thinking like that about him. He was great and all, but she'd just broken up, barely three weeks ago. She had yet to recover from that tragic relationship.
But then again, there was no harm in admiring a mans good looks. He was a hell of an eye candy.
"Didn't find my princess. You?" Now it seems like I have.
"Haven't found my Mr. Right." I never will. "What else? You're life's more interesting than mine. What about your family?"
"I'm the oldest, I have two other siblings, a brother and sister. Parents in Boston."
"How often do you see them?"
"Too many times to count in a year. New Years, Christmas. Thanksgiving is coming up. Easter. Spring. They need a reason to call me and I need a reason to cancel everything to go home and eat what Mom's cooked for a change. Dad's a business man, has a chain for small cafes around the states. Over all, I'm a pretty happy guy."
"Good for you." She almost felt jealousy stir in her, listening to him. She hadn't seen her family since freshman year of college, ten full years soon. She shook her head, there was no point on going back now. She had learned to live for the moment. To make herself believe, she picked up her wine and sipped.
He noticed the sudden loneliness in her eyes, but didn't say anything. He'd find a day and make her spit it all out. They had a lovely conversation, over a lovely dinner, and at least three more glasses of wine. Without noticing or minding, they ate out of each others plates, tried things they hadn't ordered for themselves, switching wine glasses as well. And the dinner ended too early, according to Kripa. Since her break-up with Ethan, she hadn't had such a great time.
He paid the bill, even when she began to speak against it. In fact, it bothered her that he didn't even let her see the bill. Very unlike Ethan as well.
Why, she asked herself as they walked back to the car, was she comparing him with Ethan? Angad Khanna was far better in every aspect.
Kripa was sitting on the sofa watching a movie when Angad got out of the bathroom, after his nightly shower. She had a mug of coffee in her hands and was wearing black framed glasses. She'd braided her hair, loosely, and was wearing a pink night suit, with a white sweater on top. In the simple attire, she looked better than she did earlier that night.
"I didn't order you a cup." She said when the commercials came on. "I wasn't sure if you wanted one."
"It's okay. I'm not that fond of coffee at night." He sat down beside her. "You don't look very tired."
"Bored of me already?" She turned to him and smiled. "You've to spend nearly three weeks with me, boss. It's only the first day." She rested the cup on the table.
"I don't mind spending a lifetime with someone like you, Kripa."
Shocked, she looked back at him. His face was so serious, and handsome even then. "Why?"
"There are just so many reasons." He tucked the falling hair behind her ear and kept his hand at her cheek. "May I?" he asked looking at her lips and then into her eyes.
She merely nodded and closed her eyes after that.
It was just a brush of lips over hers, but it made her shiver the way Ethan's kisses never did. She hated herself, she was still thinking about him. He didn't deserve it at all.
"Again." The word came from her mouth against her will, and stunned them both.
This time it was more than just him brushing his lips over hers. He slipped his arms around her this time, pushed her gently back into the sofa, and deepened the kiss.
It took her a moment to accept the gentleness. The firmness. She framed his face with her hands and kissed him with the same compassion and passion he was kissing her with.
She was shivering, she realized for the second time in her life while kissing someone. The first time was during her first kiss and now.
She knew she had to pull away now, but no part of her wanted to. Instead, her arms just slipped around him. He broke the kiss then, shocking her just a little.
"Angad." She whispered his name, her eyes still closed. That's all she could think of then. Angad…
He framed her face again so she opened her eyes and looked into his.
All he did was press a kiss to her forehead, kept his lips there for a few seconds and then rest his cheek against it, holding her closer, and she wanted to hold him, tighter, and weep.
Joined: 25 October 2007
The moment the photographer screamed the words, Kripa ran to Angad with a jacket. She herself, was wearing four layers under her coat, with gloves, boots, a scarf, and a beanie, yet she was freezing. Angad was dressed in a pair of jeans and a light sweatshirt that said DKNY across it, with glasses, and a head covered with snow.
It was there last shoot in Venice, before heading to Milan tonight.
While Angad, Kripa, and one of the distributors talked to Angad, they walked back to the car. Kripa could, like she had been for the past few days, only think about the letter she had read and the girl in that letter.
What bothered her was that she'd forgotten about Aasiha when they went to dinner the other night and when she asked him to kiss her again. Disgusted with herself, she asked herself, how could have I forgotten?
Was Angad really responsible? The question haunted her the entire night after they had dinner and he'd kissed her. The moment was so… perfect, Kripa thought looking at him as he continued talking to the other man. More than that, she knew perfectly, that she was attracted towards him without a doubt, which was wrong. So very wrong.
Once they were at their car, Angad turned to look at Kripa. It really surprised him when she walked past the car, lost in her own world.
"Kripa!" He waited for her to turn, but she didn't. "Kripa," he called again and watched her turn this time.
Shocked at herself, even slightly embarrassed, she walked back to the car. Then, without any eye contact or any words, she sat down in the car.
He saw she was upset. As strong as she was, it was difficult for her to hide her emotions, they way she felt. But, sadly, she wasn't the type of person who told you why she was upset, sad, angry.
She was, stubborn, he decided, looking at her, as she looked out the window of the car, dazed about one thing or the other, fiddling with her hands. Linking them together, then unlinking them. Her restlessness, as horrible as it was, made him smile. And, it even annoyed him a little.
"Kripa." He took her hand before she could link them together again. "Are you angry at me?"
She was able to take her hand back since his grip was gentle. Like always. Like him. "Why should I be angry at you?"
"Then you're angry at yourself?" he asked further, hoping she would look at him, at least.
"Alright." He scooted closer to her and turned her face. "What's wrong?" He asked her once she was looking right at him.
"Nothing." When she was about to turn her face away, he stopped her by framing it.
"You can't lie when you're upset, Kripa. And, I don't want you to be lying to me. I care for you," he said when her face was still expressionless. "We both know I care for you more than just a friend."
"I work for you." She said taking the hand off her cheek that was still resting there. And, I was working for Ethan, she thought and squeezed her eyes shut, tightly. He ditched me.
"You do, yes." Her eyes were still closed. "Look at me, Kripa. Please." When she did he forced her to place her head on his shoulder. "You hold to much within you Kripa, way to much." He didn't touch her physically then, he knew she didn't want that. She needed someone who could listen to her without asking questions. "And, I'm willing to listen. Without questions, for as long as you want me to."
"I'm a horrible person." She whispered almost to herself than telling him.
"No you're not." He wrapped his arm around her then, and gave her arm a light squeeze. "You're a wonderful woman, Kripa. Strong and independent."
She wanted to tell him everything but the car stopped and they were already at their hotel.
"I checked out and I called the hotel before we left the location. Our flight leaves in an hour. I'm sure our luggage is already in the lobby." When he didn't reply, she reached to open the door.
"We're driving to Milan."
"Whatever suits you. I'll cancel the tickets."
She hated sitting in a car for long periods, so it shocked her that she'd agreed so quickly. Her life was a mess. Ethan ditched her. Angad played with someone she once knew so well. Aasiha… she was the only one who'd always understood her. And, for the first time in so many years, she missed that her mother hadn't called her once in the last few months. Her brother was getting married, and she hadn't even bothered to call and congratulate him.
"You're a human made of stone, Kripa." She said looking at herself in the ladies room before leaving. It was karma, she decided finally, that she was in such a mess right now.
She got out of the bathroom and was told by the receptionist, that Angad was already in the car, waiting for her.
She sat down in the car and decided to ask Angad about Aaisha. "Angad."
"I want to ask you something."
He looked at her. She was looking right ahead at the road, with a stern face. "Sure."
"I know I shouldn't have, but I still read that letter you got a few weeks ago."
She cared, he thought, wondering why. "Yes."
"Aaisha, Angad," she closed her eyes, "is my sister. Why did you do that to her?" And, why she thought wanting to cry, did her mother tell her Aaisha was getting married three years from now? Now she understood why Aaisha hadn't called her since. If she remembered right, the last time she talked to her was the day before she was, supposedly, getting married.
His life had just turned upside down for the second time in his life. "You won't believe it if I told you Kripa."
"I still want to know."
"Fine. I'll tell you when we get to Milan." He waited just a moment before speaking again. "I'm not playing you, Kripa."
When she turned her face to look at him and smiled, it surprised him. "I've been there once before Angad, if you did it again, I wouldn't be as hurt the second time around. The pain's always more bearable when you know what it feels like."
His room was on the second floor or the house, as was the room she picked, but it was on the other end of the second floor.
She sat down on the floor, in front of her bed, and looked through her phonebook, in her cell phone. When she found Aaisha's number, she looked at it, and her picture, that she'd fed in the phone.
The tears were just about to fall, when he knocked on her door. "Kripa."
She wiped the quickly, but didn't stand. She didn't have enough strength to stand-up and face him right now. This was the man who'd cheated her sister. How could she have forgotten it when she was laughing and having dinner with him. How could she have forgotten it when he had kissed her to the other night. How could she have forgotten when he'd moved her heart by placing that kiss on her forehead that night.
She hated him, he saw it in her eyes and sat down beside her on the floor.
"I'm the oldest child of my parents, Kripa. I have a younger brother and a younger sister. My younger brother is only a few minutes younger to me. My mom had twins, me and my brother Adi. It sounds like a story I know, but it's not. Adi was always the more out going guy, it was easy for him to get girls, and it soon became a game for him. Three years ago, our family decided we would go to California to visit my Mom's side of the family there. Adi, was also doing a summer course at Pepperdine University, it was a perfect time to stay with them. He made friends with everyone at the session very quickly. All his friends planned a picnic there and Aaisha was there, with one of her friends."
"Was a student at Pepperdine?" She asked.
"I'm glad Dad let her study at least."
"We both became friends really quickly, but she liked me more than a friend, right from the beginning. She was the type of girl I always wanted to be with. We began meeting more often, and I knew I was falling in love with her." She looked at him then and saw a small smile on his face. "But, Adi didn't like the fact Aaisha didn't pay any attention to him. He took advantage of us being twins. I was out of town for a few days and he took advantage of her and the moment. A week before we had to leave, Aaisha told me she was pregnant and I couldn't figure out how. I though she was lying, angry I just left her and came back to New York. A few months later, Adi called me and told me everything. We both tried finding her, but we couldn't. I gave up. He was in love with her, without even knowing it, and I'm sure he continued finding her even when I stopped. When you gave me her letter I couldn't believe it. I've called her three time since then Kripa and I've never been able to talk."
"Do you still love her?"
"A part of me does. Help me face her Kripa."
"She has cancer." She said coming to terms with the fact. "Angad." She turned to him then, sitting on her knees. "She has cancer."
He saw pain in her eyed. He wanted to hold her and comfort her, but he didn't have guts. He didn't even know if she believed him.
"Will you help me?"
"The address she gave you in the letter, I never read it."
"She's in Milan."
"We should go find her. She needs us, Angad. She needs you." She said slightly calmer. He watched her eyes change in front of his, and realized she cared about the entire matter for more than her sister.
She walked around the house later that night unable to sleep. As she walked, she began working out all of Angad's appointment in her mind, to find out when they would find time to find Aaisha.
She was passing Angad's room, when she heard his phone ring. He was sleeping already, she knew and walked inside to pick it up.
"Hello." She said walking back outside.
"Hello. Can I talk to Angad?"
"I'm sorry, Ma'am, he's sleeping. Who is this?"
"You must be Kripa."
"Yes, I am." She was surprised the lady knew who she was.
"I'm Angad's mother. I was just calling him to see how he was."
"Oh. I'll tell him."
"Bye." She ended the call and looked at his phone. She could smell his cologne, she though and smiled, all the different ones he liked to wear. Shaking her head, she walked back into the room and placed the phone back on the dresser. As she turned around, she found him laying, with the blanket kicked away. With a sigh, pulled it over him. Still looking at him, she sat down beside his pillow and brushed his hair back. He was different. The way he made her feel was different. Impulsively, she leaned down and pressed her lips to his forehead, just way he had so many times before. The gesture was so simple, so friendly, but it moved her every time. She'd always thought kissing someone's forehead was such a parentally gesture, but he'd proved her wrong.
When she turned and rested her cheek against his forehead, still caressing his hair, she realized how hot he was. Taken back at the heat, she quickly took his hand to check his temperature and found it to be extremely high.
"Angad." She shook him until he opened his eyes, pale as ever.
"Kripa? What's wrong?"
"You've a high fever, Angad. We should call the doctor or it's going to turn into pneumonia and then you'll have to go to the hospital and stay there. And-"
"Shut-up Kripa!" He yelled when he was sure she was going to verbally write a book of possibilities. Sighing, he took her hand and pulled her beside him, upon seeing her scared face. "I know I have a fever. I already took an Advil."
"You should have taken two," she said frowning.
He rolled his eyes. "I took three, actually."
"Oh." Absently, she rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. "Your mom called a few minutes ago." And, she'd been thinking about calling her own mom since then. The only problem was, she didn't have guts to call her and even say sorry. She'd been so rude on the phone last time, when her mother had only called for her well-being.
"What did she say?"
She snapped back and sat-up quickly. "Nothing much. Just told me to tell you she called." She stood up. "I'll turn the heating higher. Go back to sleep."
"How did you know I had a fever anyways?"
"Oh… I… I was putting your phone back and I noticed your blanket wasn't on you, and I was moving you hand and I realized you had a fever."
"Sure?" He took her hand and pulled her down again.
"Yes, I'm sure." She allowed him to link his fingers with her when he kept her hand in his. It was in his eyes, she noticed, that pulled her towards him even when she didn't want to be with him. "Good night, Angad." She simply leaned forward and touched her lips to his, let them lay there for a few seconds and then left him alone. Even as she walked out of his room, heard him say good night back to her, she wanted to turn right back around and sit in his arms.
Once she was in her room, the door was locked, she let out the breath, that she hadn't realized she had been holding. She leaned against the door, in her dark room, and closed her eyes as a smile crossed her lips. There was no point in denying that she'd fallen in love with him in those last five minutes. But, at the same time, she couldn't decide how it could have happened so quickly. She'd just broken up with Ethan. How could it be that she was feeling what she was, for Angad?
What about him? she asked herself stripping out of her cloths and walking into the bathroom. He had told her that a part of him still loved Aaisha.
He'd kissed her, she thought turning the tap on and then walking around to light the candles she'd set earlier.
Impulse, she decided as she let herself sink into the foamy, soapy water. He cared for her as a friend, maybe even sympathized with her for everything that had happened. She had, as he knew, lost her job and house. Then, he'd run her over with his car. Following, the terrible break-up with her boyfriend. Her sad, sad family history. What his brother had done to her sister…
She let out a breath and closed her eyes again. He didn't love her, she decided, and opened her eyes again. But she did. And, she also knew that this wasn't the same type of love she'd thought she'd been in with Ethan. This was stronger. Much, much stronger.
He was responsible for helping her find who she really was, and what she really wanted in life was more than what she had when she had smashed with Angad's car nearly three months back. Life was money for her then. Now, life was Angad Khanna and love for her. It was the true meaning of life, just the way she'd never wanted it to be.
Ironically, she'd lost both. The first one didn't matter anymore. She didn't want the position as editor-in-chief anymore. She wanted Angad by her side, forever. She didn't care for what he owned, too much. Yes, it would make life easier to have lots of money and people working all around the house for you. Still, she had realized in the last couple of days that his money couldn't make her feel better when she was sad or down. It wasn't his money she could share her joy with, either. It was the way he held her, close comfort, that made her feel better. It was the way he made her smile by just holding her hand when he did, that made her feel better.
But all this was still non-sense. Three weeks after New Years, she'd have to leave, back to her job. He'd find someone else to take her job, and they would both be going their own ways again.
She got out of the water, drained the water, and gave herself a quick rub under the shower, then got out.
Minutes later, she watched herself dress in front of the mirror. There, she thought, looking at herself, was the Kripa Kapoor that she had asked to stop breathing a long time ago. There was the old Kripa Kapoor who believed in fairy tales once, who was again breathing because of Angad.
She pressed her lips together, rubbed the towel in her hair and then laid down in bed, pulling the pillow beside her in her arms.
She had never wanted a man in her bed. It wasn't important for her. But she knew now, that if she had to lose herself to anyone, it would be the man who helped her find herself.
Thinking about him, she closed her eyes, and fell asleep.
She dreamt of roses, chocolates, wine. Angad. She was walking towards him, slowly, his arms spread wide open, inviting her. But as she got closer to him, she noticed that the entire time he had been stepping away from her. Each step she took towards him, he took a step back. More out of reach than the last time. Finally, he stopped with the white gate behind him. And, her surroundings suddenly turned black from white, including her cloths. He pointed towards a mirror then, and laughed.
She found herself sitting across him, and Ethan was standing in the middle, behind a round table.
"Here's the Kripa you trusted so much Angad. She isn't what you always thought. This is who she really is." He smirked and asked hem both, "Love?"
She replies by saying, "Lust."
He replied by saying, "Need."
She saw his shocked face. Satisfied, Ethan asked them, "Money."
"Life." Confident with her answers this time, knowing no one could change it, she sat back in the chair comfortably and crossed one leg over the other.
He smiled looking at her, throwing her off balance again, nodding his head again looking at the candle between them and then replied. "Commodity."
She sits back in the comfy armchair, uncomfortable, and waited for the next question.
"God." Ethan asks already knowing their answer
"Inexistent." She replied to quickly, knowing she was wrong this time, and looks at the man in front of her.
"Love." He replied looking at the lady across with dreamy eyes. "You."
"Angad Khanna?" He asked the her, a wicked grin.
"My key to success." Upset with everything, she answered, and sat there still, afraid of his answer, to the next question.
"Kripa Kapoor." Ethan asked Angad.
"Inexistent." With that he got up and left the room.
She had tears in her eyes as he walked away, and she looked at Ethan. "You'll never be happy, Kripa. Never. He might have loved the Kripa who was a lie, but he won't love the real Kripa." Laughing he left the room, leaving her alone.
Kripa looked away from the mirror and towards Angad who had tears in his. "You really thought I would love someone like you, Kripa? You're a lie. A cheat. A deception. You're fake. You're heartless. And I hate you."
"Angad no." She walked forward to touch him, but he walked right out of the door behind him.
"Angad!" she yelled and fell on the floor. "I didn't do anything, Angad."
"I didn't do anything."
"Kripa, you're dreaming." His voice sounded distant.
"He lied to you. Ethan did. I've changed"
"Kripa. Kripa, wake-up."
"Angad." She felt him close. Then, she felt him shaking her.
"Kripa, you're dreaming. Wake-up."
Her eyes flew open. She realized she was sweating horrible, when her room was freezing at the moment. "Angad." She reached for him, he was really there. "Angad."
"I'm right here. You were dreaming." He wiped her forehead with a handkerchief, brushed her hair back. She sat up and embraced him, shivering out of fear.
"What time is it?" She asked drawing a deep breath.
"Nine. Are you okay? It's freezing in here, anyway."
"I forgot to turn the heater on in my room last night. You're fever," she recollected looking at him, "do you feel better?"
"I'm fine." he replied still confused why she was repeating his name again and again in her dream. "You have to tell me what's wrong, Kripa."
She took the hand that was caressing her cheek. "Nothing, Angad." She rested her face on his shoulder, still holding his hand. "It's just been a hectic week, I was just having a terrible dream."
"Fine, don't tell me. Come down and have breakfast. I've found directions to Aaisha's house."
"Oh." Was she still in love with him? She thought feeling depressed. No, she shook the thought away, she was her sister, and Angad was her love, she wanted to see them both happy. If them being together was going to be the way, she was going to let them be happy.
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