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Yash rushed after Maan and Geet into the conference room.
"Geet ! What are you doing here!! Roshni is unwell, you should be at home!!", he exclaimed.
Maan looked at him with hatred. The way he followed Geet around!!
"Yash plz. I need to talk to Maan alone", Geet said to him, gesturing him to give her a minute.
Yash understood that Geet wanted to speak with Maan, and decided to leave them to it. He simply nodded and left.
"Maan I think we talked about this. I know you don't like me. But that should have no effect on our work. This is a professional place, and I expect you to behave with sense here. You've been working for way longer than I have and understand the importance of professionalism more than I do. I expect you to be mature about things. We do not share a personal relationship anymore, there's only a professional connection between us now. Hence I expect you to respect that and work accordingly. If you still hold any grudges against me then that's your problem Maan. As business partners we have not had any issues. This project is very important for both of us. So it'd be best if we both see to its conclusion with peace and then go our separate ways. Until then, I do not want any more problems. Sasha will not enter my office anymore, If however you need her assistance, she may work from outside the domains of my office. Any further assault on my staff will not be well received from my end. I hope you can understand this and work with cordiality here on. I'll schedule a meeting and further our work on the project in a few minutes", and saying this Geet exited the room to call her technical teams in for a meeting.
Maan could not say anything. She was right. He had to behave sensibly and professionally here. Whatever he held against her was personal, and should not interfere with their work. This project was very important for him and he could not afford to screw it up becuz of Geet. He would deal with Geet on a personal level, outside the office...
Geet entered her office, and on finding Yash there asked him to get the technical and creative teams together within fifteen minutes in the conference hall.
The meeting had been going on for over five hours now, and they still had work left for the day. It was quarter past eight. Suddenly Geet's child alarm rang. She jerked up from her work to everybody's attention and spoke in a worried voice.
"I think we should break up for a coffee break. I want everyone here within twenty minutes", Geet said. And as soon as most of the staff had left for the mess Pari brought in a tearful and scared Roshni.
"Mamaaa!! ", Roshni wailed.
Geet rushed to her and took her in her arms. "It's okay baby, mama is here", she tried soothing her tearful child.
Maan simply stared at the sight before him. So it was Geet's daughter!! He thought, shocked at what he saw. Geet had a beautiful baby girl. Maan felt softness creep into his heart as he took in the gentle picture before him. Geet had her daughter in her arms and was trying to calm her down. She was stroking her head and her back gently. All this could have been his had things worked out...
Maan snapped out of his reverie. He had gotten soft for a moment. But the hardness was back now. He couldn't let himself think about such things.
Roshni had stopped crying now but still held on to Geet very tightly.
"Mama, plz don't leave me alone. Mujhe dal lagta hai", she spoke very cutely in her baby drawl.
"Nahi beta. Mamma apko chol kal kahin nahi jaegi", Geet replied, mimicking her daughter's manner of talking.
Maan was mesmerized. It was such a heavenly sight.
Neither of them realized that they were the only ones left in the room. Everyone else had gone to the mess. Then suddenly the lights went off. Roshni shrieked in fear. She was afraid of the dark.
Geet's heart suddenly contracted with fear. She felt suffocated in the dark. But so did her daughter.
"Mammaa!!! I am scared", Roshni wailed.
Maan heard the two girls. Geet's daughter was just as scared of the dark as her mother.
"Don't worry baby. Mama has candles in her purse. Mama will light them and the light will come back. Don't worry. Mama hai na", Geet tried assuring her daughter.
"Yeah right!" Maan thought at this.
Trembling from head to foot, Geet got up and made her way to the table where her purse was kept. However, her foot got caught in a chair and she lost her balance. Holding onto Roshni to shield her from the impending fall Geet fearfully closed her eyes.
Then suddenly a pair of strong arms caught her by the waist and she opened her eyes to look back into two warm concerned eyes gazing at her with intensity in the dim light of a lighter.
Maan caught Geet and Roshni just in time, and as he raised his lighter to her face, saw her closed eyes. Geet slowly opened her eyes, and Maan saw her terror clearly in them. He felt his old feelings grip him as her terrified eyes tore at his unshielded heart and he pulled both mother and daughter into his strong protective arms.
Geet trembled against his strong warm body. All thought left her, and she held onto him for dear life. After a very long time she had felt safe.
Maan felt Geet's petite form tremble against him and he hugged her tighter to make her fear go away, to give her all the comfort he could muster.
They both stayed in each other's tight embrace, feeling each other's touch, and felt the euphoria push in after a long torturous period of three and a half years.
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