Joined: 21 February 2008
Joined: 05 February 2009
Armaan had just laced up a pair of running shoes and was checking out the high octane playlist he had downloaded on his iPod yesterday when there was a knock at his door.
"Just a sec," he called, walking into the hall, distracted by the strange and unwelcome addition of Yani to his iTunes playlist.
When he swung the door wide, he saw a petite woman in her midtwenties standing there. She was wearing a tie-dyed dress with the same colour grass green as her eyes, which incidentally were vieled behind a pair of tortoiseshell glasses. Her long brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail and her full lips were set in a pissed off line. She was cute, curvy and he had seen her in her building before.
"Hello" he said.
"Hi", she said , without even a hint of a smile.
"I know you," he said, cocking his head to one side as if that would help him place her. It didn't. "How do I know you?"
She rolled her eyes, shook her head, then thrust the New York Post at him. "Here you go."
She didn't say much but there was something about her.Maybe it was the way her lips moved.He could watch that for a while.He took the paper from her.
"Are you the paperboy?"
"Good, becoz it's 2 o clock in the afternoon and if you were the paperboy I'd have to fire you for being so late."
"That's not very nice."
"No, but I'm not very nice."
"Good to know"
"You live in the building?"
This question made her smile. Not a happy smile, but a knowing, almost irritated one."Down the Hall, actually."
Oh, yeah."Right". He grinned. "So, why was my paper delivered to you?"
"Habit, most likely", she said drily, those pink plump lips remaining parted as if she were going to say something more.
When she didn't, he repeated, "Habit?"
"Your paper is not the only thing that gets lost by way on my door, Mr.Mallik."
Mr.Mallik. That was not good. No women, except the ones who worked for him called him Mr.Mallik.He racked his brain trying to recall a reason this particular woman might have for disliking him. It took him a moment but then it dawned on him. His female guests, late nights……wrong apartments.He leaned against the doorjamb, arms crossed over his chest. "12 B, right?"
She nodded."In the flesh"
Heat stirred inside him at her words. Hell, he was male after all. Women with fire, women who didn't like him, women who were totally and completely unaffected by him were few and far between. Not his type, but he'd definitely have to see her again.
"Thank you for the paper,"he said "And I apologize for the frequent late-night intrusions.I meant to come and apologize in person."
"Sure you did."
"I've just been busy."
"We're all busy, Mr.Mallik."
"Ofcourse.And again, I apologize. I'll make sure my guests know exactly where to go from now on. But if not, please don't hesitate to stop by again and give me another kick in the----"
"You think this is funny," she said curtly.
He dropped the easy, lighthearted air. "No"
"Yes, you do."
"I assure you that I do not think being woken up in the middle of the night is funny," he said in all seriousness.
She lifted her chin."Good"
"Unless it's for a very, very good reason."
Her eyes narrowed and she looked ready to pop him in the stomach. "I expect you to take care of this problem immediately, tonight."
"I don't have a date tonight"
She exhaled loudly. "Maybe you supply your guests with a map." She paused, then said with barely hidden sarcasm, "Or maybe not. They always seem a little flustered with directions!."
He liked this woman. Liked her a lot. Maybe he needed to widen his scope of women.
She nodded. " I actually had to walk one of them to your door."
He grinned. "What can I say? Smart girls don't go for guys like me."
She sniffed, looked away. "Yeah, right," she muttered under her breath.
"Excuse me?" he said, even though he had heard her. Hell, any excuse to watch those lips move.
"Nothing. I've gotta go." She gave him a wavw which sort of resembled a military salut, before taking off down the hall.
"Thanks again" he called after her.
She glanced back. "I'd say anytime, but I'd be lying."
He chuckled. "Hey. Wait a second."
"If I see you in the hall or in the elevator….."
"Yes?" She arched her eyebrows.
"Can I call you 12B?"
This time she smiled, a real smile, a playful smile. " Not if you expect me to answer."
His mouth turned up at the corners." What is your name?"
"You're a smart girl, Riddhima Gupta?"
Again, the smile. "I'm afraid so."
Armaan watched her walk back to her door, her round, firm backside swaying from side to side as she moved. Part girl, part woman. Very nice. She was pretty, sexy in her way—but definitely not his usual fare. He had'nt been lying when he had said that smart girls did not go for him. It was'nt that he did'nt love smart women or love to be challenged by them, but right now he had all the challenge he could handle at work.
For now, he wanted uncomplicated and simple.
He walked back into the apartment, dropped onto the couch and opened the paper, completely forgetting about the run he had just been amping up for before Little Miss Next Door had shown up.
He flipped through the paper. News first, then sports. Damn Yankees and hiding injuries. Loses credibility , loses Respect.
Disgusted and pissed off at his favorite baseball team, Armaan turned the page ---and got an eyeful.
"Shit," he muttered
Large and loud photos of himself and Anjali, the woman Armaan had dated a handful of times—the woman who had jumped off the roof of his apartment building over a month ago—stared out at him from the Entertainment section of the paper.
The headline read:Suicide Victim Canoodling With AMS Playboy Right Before Her Death?
Armaan tossed the paper aside and grabbed his BlackBerry off the glass coffee table.As expected, his inbox was filled with requests for interview requests.
Ten minutes later, his phone rang but it was a totally different kind of interview request.
"Mr.Mallik, we'd like you to come down to the station and answer a few questions."
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