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Okay guys...first of all I think I should be kicked for forgetting my own story but as it turns out, I did!!!!!I forgot I had already used Meera as the evil character she was supposed to be. So I am making Jai's ex-girlfriend Pia as it shd be. I'll go make the changes necessary and hope y'all don't get the wires crossed afterwards. I preferred to have the story told as opposed to a flashback...was feeling a little too lazy for that...sorry!!! J
Well then...here's the next part and I hope you love. Next update will be Second Chance!!
It was particularly windy today, which was a surprise as it wasn't rainy season just yet. Bani looked up to the sky as she adjusted her suit around her, trying to keep the wind from messing up her clothes. Her hair however was going to be a different matter as it could not be helped. The wind seemed determined to use it as a weapon to momentarily blind her. She gave the car keys to the attending hotel staff that approached her with an uneasy smile in his direction, before dashing into the hotel. She hoped the storm outside was not indicative of something to come. She was not in the mood after the day she had had.
She spoke briefly with the receptionist who offered her a professional smile as she directed her to where Purva Madam was waiting for her. She walked briskly to the Sunset bar and spotted Purva standing off to the right where there was a passage she assumed led off to the Private meeting rooms. Well that said something about their reasons for being here. This was no ordinary matter. With a big smile on her face, she approached the serene beauty that was Purva.
"What happened to you?!" Purva asked, taking in her wildly tousled hair.
"Don't ask," Bani said flippantly, but enveloped the older woman in a warm hug in greeting, "I think the universe is conspiring to annoy the hell outta me today."
Purva laughed, "Hope we don't end up making it worse."
"I don't think so. Shall we?" Bani indicated down the hall way.
Purva's smile vanished and her expression became serious, causing Bani to become a little wary all over again.
"Bani, I'm sorry to be dragging you into this but I feel somehow you are the only one who can do something to help."
A frown creased Bani's forehead, "Of course Purva. Whatever you need."
Purva searched her face a while and then released a breath Bnai was not aware she had been holding. She took Bani's hand and looked her in the eye as she spoke.
"Bani, there is someone I would like you to meet. This whole thing has to do with Jai, and don't worry. There's nothing wrong with him physically, but...I think this is something that we need to fix before it becomes worse. A life is at stake here."
"Well sure. Whatever you need."
"Okay," Purva said finally convincing herself that she had prepared Bani as much as she possibly could to face Jai's past and not cringe or be intimidated or whatever myriad of emotions she was bound to feel. "This way then."
Bani followed her in quick steps to the farthest from down the hall and pushed open the door. Bani went in ahead of her and came face to face with a woman who seemed to be either her age or a few years older than her, and heavily pregnant. Funny thing though, the woman looked terrified and very much about to bolt. She turned to look at Purva who was looking reassuringly at the woman.
"Er...Bani, this is Pia Joshi. Pia, this is Bani Dixit. Jai's girlfriend."
The woman politely extended her hand which Bani took, but couldn't help the woman's gaze turn really interested as opposed to its earlier wariness. The woman appeared to be sizing her up but not in the malicious way that most women did.
Interesting, Bani thought.
"Nice to meet you Pia," Bani said after the awkward pause preceding her statement.
"The pleasure is all mine Miss Dixit."
Bani waved her away, "Please call me Bani."
Pia nodded and looked at Purva who immediately took over, sitting at what could be presumed as the head of that table as Bani and Pia were seated to her right and her left.
"Bani, I did tell you this meeting had to do with Jai. Well I'm going to get right into it without further ado. Pia here is Jai's ex-girlfriend."
Bani's eyes flew to Pia in sudden understanding of Pia's measuring gaze. O wow. His ex huh? Okay. But then what did have to do with her and Jai right now? Wait...don't tell me...was that baby...did she call her here to... She returned her gaze to Purva.
"The baby is not Jai's," Pia spoke up, her voice soft but firm and very level. It didn't take a rocket scientist to understand her train of thoughts given the current picture she presented. She was grateful for the sleep and good food she had gotten in the last four days. Her skin had began to glow again. Her eyes weren't looking tired and her skin was no longer sallow looking.
Bani gave an acknowledging nod, then turned back to Purva now wondering where this was going if that was out of the way.
"There is a history here that even I do not know about and I told Pia to wait to meet you before telling it. You see Pia's husband is in the hospital with a brain tumour and it is increasingly difficult to get him to have the operation that could save his life."
"I'm sorry," Bani looked at Pia with genuine sympathy in her eyes, for having just recently dealt with the madness of Rano's run in with crazy Nurse Meera, she was not a fan of hospitals at all.
"Thanks," Pia swallowed around a lump forming in her throat.
Purva reached out and clasped her hand reassuringly, "Pia, I know this must be difficult for you, but as much as I would have wanted to hear the story from Natchiket, I would like to hear it from you too. Is that okay?"
Pia nodded, throwing Bani a look as if to ask if she would be alright hearing details of her man's past. Bani nodded reassuringly, but couldn't bring herself to smile as she wasn't sure what she was about to hear, and how it would affect her perception of Jai.
"I can only help if I know what the problem is," Bani said as if to encourage her.
Taking a deep breath, Pia began to speak haltingly. Bani tried to relax cos there was really nothing else she could do.
"I used to be a model. Pia Joshi was a big name," she self consciously tucked her hair behind her ear, and Bani realized that action for what it was. Nerves. "I had been contracted to do a job for Jai. He and I met when I was doing a photo shoot for the cover of Hotel India. They were doing a spread on the hotel he was opening. Grand Raj. I can boldly say it was one crazy ride with him." She paused as if realizing it was Bani's boyfriend she was speaking about. A blush crept up on her face, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean..."
Bani waved her away, "It's okay. It was a happy time in your life. You're supposed to remember it that way."
Pia nodded and adjusted to find a comfortable position in the chair, "Thank you. Jai and I started dating shortly after that. As you probably know...he can be quite persistent when he wants something."
Bani nodded, a small smile curving her lips as she remembered her whole living room filled to bursting with roses of all shapes and sizes. "He can be very persistent."
"We dated for about 18 months. He had just taken over the running of Walia Group. His schedule was crazy. At first it was okay but... after a while it got old really fast. We started fighting cos he wasn't spending enough time with me. We barely saw each other and I didn't sign up for that. I mean...I understood his compulsion to prove himself... but he wouldn't take the help that was being offered. He could have delegated but he wouldn't. Insisted on doing everything himself and in the end...I just got tired of fighting."
She took a nervous sip of water and Bnai watching her realized that this was the actual part of the story that had caused whatever strife currently existed in the family. With certain tension curling in the pit of her stomach, she waited for Pia to continue.
"We were always in different time zones and then his best friend Ranveer had just returned to India after a hiatus in the US. And Jai started to sponge me off on him at any given chance he got. So it was always Ranveer and I...at my birthday...at our anniversary... at dinners that Jai couldn't make...just the two of us," she swallowed nervously, suddenly not able to meet either woman's eyes, "It really was only a matter of time before...I mean...we spent so much time together that...we began to develop...feelings for each. It was wrong, we knew," she gave a hollow laugh, "But wrong never felt so right! As clich as that sounds it came to mean everything to us."
She stopped and Purva took her hand in show of support, "You don't have to continue if you don't want to."
"Bani wanted to scream at Purva to shut up while Pia spoke. No way was she discontinuing the story. She was beginning to gain insight into Jai's erratic behaviour when they went out and other guys paid her too much attention. She couldn't very well say anything so she sat still and waited for Pia to continue. She just had to.
As if sensing her tension, Pia looked her in the eye and continued, "Jai knew something was wrong when I stopped fighting with him about anything. He knew I had found something to keep me busy...that is besides work, but he didn't know what it was. We managed to keep our tracks covered...no easy feat I tell you."
It was said without pride in the accomplishment. Rather a sense of guilt at having to deceive someone who trusted them both. "He asked Ranveer time and time again. But how do you tell your best friend you're dating his girlfriend he had plans to marry? It was killing him. Jai...I think more out of desperation than actually being ready for such a commitment, proposed. That blew us out of the water. It was on my birthday...before his family and friends and the press! We had been dating for almost two years now and it seemed the logical step to take. So I said yes."
Bani sat back in her chair and stared unblinkingly at Pia. This felt like the proverbial hindi movie with Salman Khan in it cos somehow in a contest of wills, he never got the girl. This was crazy! But she got how difficult it must have been. Pia didn't come off as a bad person but then...
"We tried to break it off but...it just wasn't easy. We would go weeks without contact but it never lasted. Our families fixed a date and it was all suddenly going too fast. We couldn't stop the process. So we did the only thing we could both do. We...decided to elope." She shook her head staring at the table but her mind, more than a million miles away, "Stupid really...when you really think about it. It would have been easier to just tell him and face the consequence up front. But nooo...we had to run. A week to the wedding we decided a court union would create less noise. Unfortunately the day we went to the registry to get married, we ran into Natchiket there. He had come to pick up the stamped deeds to a piece of land he had just purchased. We had just been pronounced man and wife when he walked in."
That bit of news caught Purva off guard and it was her turn to look shocked. Pia looked at her this time cos her sharp intake of breath was undeniably audible for all to hear. Even Bani turned concerned eyes on her.
"I'm sorry Purva. But if I have to tell the whole story...you need to know too." She looked at Banni and it was Bani's turn to encourage her to continue. "Needless to say he was livid. This was indeed the betrayal of the century with his brother as the victim. He wanted to tel Jai but we begged him not to, promising to do it ourselves. He gave us until that evening to come clean. And we would have...were on our way to...but the clerk had recognized me and called Walia Mansion."
"By the time Natchiket got home Jai was ready to kill us both. It was a brutal fight with Ranveer and I couldn't blame him, but I couldn't stop him either. Jai nearly killed Ranveer that day. Natchiket tried to reason with Jai and in the process found out that he knew what had happened. From then on he wouldn't listen to reason. He blamed all and sundry and just kept raging. He was hurt...understandably...but he seemed madder at Natchiket for not telling him the moment he found out. He had to hear it from a court clerk who no doubt would feed the same news to the press."
It was Purva's turn to look pensive as Pia spoke. No doubt reviewing and understanding Natchiket's outburst when he saw Pia again after all this time.
"He kicked us out of the house and swore we would rue the day we decided it was okay to betray Jai Walia. I didn't think he was going to do it, but he pursued us relentlessly. He had us kicked out of hotels in the middle of the night...he had the banks freeze our accounts...forbade our relatives from helping us...it was even a miracle he didn't bankrupt them. We tried to disappear but when a man like Jai gets it into his head, he doesn't let go. He drained every penny we had. We sold everything to get by. He'd wait until we had some funds and then do something to bleed us dry. Ranveer was in and out of jail for everything to nothing at all. The stress of running for all these years and trying to make sure I didn't regret going with him got to him. Then I got pregnant and we couldn't decide whether to be happy or sad. Next thing I know, one day he collapsed in an epileptic fit while returning from the market...and that was it. We can't afford the surgery cos we can't ask for help. Our little shop will just not give enough for anything. So I finally dragged him down here. I mean I am tired of running and if he will not forgive us then we might as well let him watch us both die."
Both women looked at Pia in that instance and her expression was serene. Like she had made peace with that very decision. It looked like if anything untoward happened to Ranveer, she had made up her mind to take her life, cos she would not suffer this much and then lose everything. Death it seemed to her was better than knowing Jai was somewhere gloating over his elimination of his enemies.
"Pia, you will do no such thing," Bani spoke in the end, after a long, long pause. "Whatever happened...sure it was wrong. Very wrong...but I think he's done enough damage. Purva?"
Purva looked from Pia to Bani. "Yes. I agree. But I will not go against Natchiket again. We need to make Jai see Ranveer."
"He's refusing to see Ranveer and Ranveer would rather die than live, knowing that Jai has not forgiven us, cos he might come after Pia again. What then becomes of the baby? He thinks that maybe...maybe his death will force Jai to let up." Pia was in tears again, this time her gaze fixed on Bani. She folded her hands infront of Bani, "Please. I know it's a lot to ask of you but please...give me my husband. I can't do this without him...please!"
"Pia what are you saying?" Bani came and knelt before her, smiling kindly at her, "It didn't cross my mind to not help you. Left to me I'd fly you both outta here so you don't have to deal with him at all. But that's not what this is about."
"Pia listen. This is our family, if what Purva tells me is true. If we don't sort this out then it's gonna cause problems for us later on. But your husband needs to know that this is about his son or daughter as well. We'll do what we can to make sure you have your family back and you can stop running. Right Purva?"
Purva smiled reassuringly, "Most definitely. You just focus on getting your husband to have that surgery in case Jai remains adamant. After all, we can only try."
"That's all I ask. Whatever you can do will be most helpful," Pia looked more than a little relieved.
"Now now, no more tears," Bani wiped at her face, "I like a happy ending so I would most definitely like to meet this Romeo husband of yours. I mean...if it's okay with you."
Pia nodded. It was nothing compared with what they were prepared to help her do. Lord knows she could not face Jai without help. Natchiket had refused point blank. It was all up to these women now.
"Well then, after some lunch we'll be on our way," Purva decided, "Shall we?"
She pressed a small bell attached to the hip of the table and about a minute later, a waiter entered with menus and a fresh jug of juices.
Not bad, Purva thought, as she watched Bnai interact with Pia. She should have some apathy for the woman for hurting her man. But she chose to focus on the bigger picture. Two lives were at stake as it were. A wife and a child yet unborn. She would make Jai an excellent wife...if only the khadoos could get over his betrayal. It was four years ago anyhow, and it clearly wasn't on a whim if they were still this much in love with each other. That had to say something about the depth of their affection for each other. Nope, they had no choice but to make it work. Or Jai in the long run would never live down the guilt of what he caused. Of that she was sure, for she had lived it in her own way.
Ho gaya!! For now that is...hope you enjoyed it...gimme a few days and second chance it is!
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