Joined: 17 January 2011
Joined: 17 January 2011
Joined: 17 January 2011
Joined: 17 January 2011
"You may kiss the bride.'
Damini watched with a smile as Varun took Roshni's hand and kiss her. Seeing her own little sister's smiling face, she realised that her decision was right to give permission for wedding in Christian style -a dream that Roshni had from her childhood..
Lucky Roshni, thought Damini as she saw Varun's hand close firmly around her sister's, and she couldn't help wondering a little wistfully if it would ever be her turn. When was she going to find someone who belonged with her the way Varun belonged with Roshni? But her dream is to wed in proper Indian style and top of all a wedding with full of love & soul..
Well..now she did have more important things to worry about, Damini reminded herself. Like finding a job again as she had to give up her last job because of Roshni's wedding planning. She was the elder one to take responsibilities..Thankfully she had enough finance for her little sister's wedding,,
Falling in love would be wonderful, but it wouldn't pay off her credit card bills, would it? Damini's mind flickered towards her dress she had chose but sandal??? That forced by Roshni somehow it was cute n matched with her dress but definitely not her style, She shouldn't have put them,
she thought, glancing down at them a little guiltily as they were very costly but stylish & were perfect with the green knee length dress but pleasant ?, It wasn't every day your little sister got married so she had to look best and like her sister want her to be ...at least today..
Damini looked around the hall after brushing her thoughts... It looked as if the entire Manali had turned out to see Roshni marry Varun Kapoor. How could their marriage fail to be a success when so many people were there to wish them well? All the faces were familiar to Damini, all were smiling.
Except one...He was standing on his own, quite without smile, as if he was surveying the scene with an air of detached cynicism that made him stand out from the crowd far more than his height or his dark, harsh features.
The photographer was busily arranging family groups and Damini was called just then to stand next to her sister. Smiling obediently for the camera, she craned her neck slightly to keep the stranger in view over the photographer's shoulder, and her interest deepened when she saw the way the other guests eyed him askance and were careful to give him a wide berth. Clearly she wasn't the only one who sensed something different about him, something dangerous, yet strangely compelling. Released by the photographer, Damini manoeuvred her way to the edge of the group where she could greet guests waiting to congratulate Varun and Roshni and watch the man at the same time. He had acquired a glass of the champagne that was circulating, and judging by the curl of his lip he didn't think much of it.
Damini thought who was he? His hair was dark with handsome, yet strong features and a forbidding expression. He might be dressed like all the other men in the room, but there was an unmistakably quality about him. It was something to do with the hardness of his face, with the coiled power that was evident in the way he held himself, with the cool, watchful silent deep brown eyes. Her mother must know ,who he was, Damini reasoned. She knew everyone in Manali but not him..He is definitely and outsider but He didn't look like the kind of man who would drive thousand km from outside Manali to gatecrash an ordinary outback wedding, so presumably he had been invited. She turned to ask, but her mother was talking to the celebrant, and when she glanced back to the stranger she found herself looking straight into his eyes. They were piercingly pale in his dark face, & so cold that Damini's heart jerked and the breath dried in her throat.
She had the oddest feeling that the floor was roaming in earthquake as only that unnervingly light gaze was holding her and giving a thunder to her whole body including heart... It could only have been for a moment, but to Damini it felt as if she hung there forever, her gaze locked with his. And then he smiled, a swift, mocking smile that for some reason sent the colour surging into her cheeks. Damini wrenched her eyes away and pointedly turned her back, furious to find that her heart was beating very fast but in rhythm...Once she thought to ask him who was he..but no she was too proud to ask that directly to a stranger what if he found his effect on her heart..what no..no.. no she jumped awkwardly and she decided, she would ignore him. Only somehow she couldn't..and failed again n again..
Damini threw herself into chatting with people all around, offering them drinks and comforting them, hugging old friends, laughing.. but no matter how many tunes she tried to turn her back, the stranger always seemed to be there, lurking irritatingly at the edge of her vision.
Perversely, the moment she couldn't see him anymore, she missed him. On her way back from the table now where she had been sitting alone in the centre of the hall, Damini paused and sipped her champagne, surveying the crowd with a slight frown between her brows wondering where had he gone suddenly?
'Looking for me?' a voice said in her ear, and Damini thought her heart stopped suddenly or may be beat too fast to control.., the champagne splash out of her glass as she turn to the voice...
Sure enough, it was the stranger, looking even more handsome at close view. Close enough..Damini could see that his eyes were deep grey, but so light they seemed glacial against the darkness of his hair and lashes, and she had the uncomfortable feeling that they could see right through her.
'Why should I be looking for you?' she asked composing herself consciously, with what she thought was creditable coolness considering that her heart seemed to have taken up residence in her throat, where it was jumping and fluttering and generally making it ridiculously hard for her to breathe.
'I'm the only person here you haven't talked,' he said calmly. He had an unusual accent but his voice sent a mysteries wave in her body. "You wouldn't want to miss anyone out as a host of this wonderful occasion, would you?'
Damini swallowed her heart firmly. 'I only talk people I know,' she said, 'and I don't know you.'
'We could introduce ourselves,' he pointed out 'although I already know exactly who you are.'
Damini, opening her mouth to reply to his suggestion, was thrown. 'You do?' she asked uncertainly.
'I've been asking around about you. You're Damini Gujral, host of the occasion, elder sister of the bride and all round a nice girl.'
For some reason this description annoyed Damini. "That's not quite how I'd describe myself,' she said with something of a snap.
'Oh? How would you describe yourself?'
'As a professional woman,' said Damini loftily and not very accurately. 'I'm in PR.'
'Oh is that so..,.' He nodded down at her feet "that explains the shoes.' She felt frustrated by his irritating way to watch her sandals. She controlled herself and asked what do you mean by "is that so.." He said nothing by smile, that made her more uncomfortable..In spite of herself, Damini warmed to him. He was the only person who had noticed her shoes but in a special way?? She thought in her mind..
Following his gaze downwards, she couldn't help smiling. There was just something about her sandals, Damini felt. You couldn't put on a pair like this and not feel good.
'Aren't they wonderful?' she said, forgetting for a moment that she didn't like him and he made her conscious, uncomfortable but warm inside..
His eyes travelled slowly up from her feet to her face. Damini was tall & generous with her perfect figure that was perfectly proportioned to her height and her personality. Deep down, Damini knew that this was true, but it didn't stop her grumbling. She was normal but confidently & beautiful and
she knew this but why having strange feeling under that stranger's eye, she wondered again n again..
For Roshni's wedding she had found a fabulous dress that emphasized her warm curves and glowing skin which was perfect for the occasion and stylishly bold personality with nominal makeup as she likes but that sandals naaahh...not her type...she always picked up something stylish yet comfortable..but this one was cute in its own manner but not conform table..she suddenly felt her foot ache..but not mentioned that to any1..
'Wonderful,' Prithvi agreed. His face was quite straight with mischievous smile, & something in his voice set a blush stealing into Damini's cheeks, and she looked quickly away and she thought was he teasing her?... It was a relief when his gaze dropped back to her shoes. 'But not very practical and definitely not your style,' he added.
They certainly weren't She had nearly twisted her ankle several times on the floor. To her chagrin, Damini realised that she had been holding her breath and let it out "There are more important things in life than practicality and why do u think this is not my style,' she said firmly, and a disconcerting gleam of amusement lit the cool grey eyes.
'You must be the only person in this occasion to think so!' he added with smile. She jerked back what do you mean..he said nothing but raised eyebrow.
"I mean about your comment on practicality not on stylish..I guess everyone think this is your style..She did not know what he meant so she turned back..
That was probably true too, Damini reflected, glancing around at the people she had grown up with. They were all wonderful, and she loved them deeply, but they didn't understand about shoes in which she was uncomfortable.
'You have to be practical if you are not... she stopped suddenly realising her tone n the word she was about to say..in love ??,' She turned again refusing to look at him, gathering herself she start working in her mind why and where that thought come from and why in front of him and too suddenly.. her gaze coming back to meet his almost defiantly. 'I mean if you have good heart than you cant be practical in front of people you love..' she added nervously...aahaa the word again..She noticed her heartbeat was getting faster & faster..wish he is not able to hear that sound..
'Is that so.'..he said again with same attitude . She felt like he was teasing her again...In her mind she was repeating his sentences..what did he mean ??...
Damini didn't quite know what to make of that. There had been an odd undercurrent to his voice that she couldn't interpret. 'You seem to know all about me,' she pointed out with a challenging look, 'but I really still don't know who you are.'
I'm Prithvi Saxena,' he told her, and he smiled proudly at the expression on her face. 'Yes, that Prithvi Saxena,' he answered her unspoken question. 'Didn't anyone tell you that the tiger of the city was back?'
'No,' admitted Damini, too surprised to think what she was saying.
She couldn't help staring. Prithvi Saxena! No one had seen him since he had walked off his family property nearly 15 years ago, but of course they all knew about him. Breaking off all contact with his father, Prithvi had turned his back and gone on make his fortune. Not just an ordinary little fortune, not just millions, but serious money.
Damini had never been absolutely sure what Prithvi Saxena did'something to do with communications, she thought'but she knew that his company, Saxena Group, was a global giant having part in almost each and every industry, and that his name was a byword for ruth-lessness around the world. It wasn't bad going for a boy from Manali, but nobody wanted to claim him as a local hero & Tiger defiantly not..was he???. However Prithvi had made his fortune, it hadn't been by being nice.
It seemed that anyone who ever had to do business with him regretted it, and the press didn't like him any better. Refusing to be interviewed or photographed, Prithvi Saxena was apparently content for people to think of him as heartless and amoral, and the richer and more reclusive he became, the more the myths about him increase rapidly..
Nor did the city he had grown up in have anything good to say for him. Damini had been a little girl around 11 yrs when he'd left his father to struggle on his own, and anyway had never met him, but gossip travelled fast around the city and she knew all about his unsavoury reputation. Nobody had been sorry to see him go.
But now it seemed that he was back'and it wasn't hard to guess why.
'Aren't you a little late?' she said. Prithvi's dark brows tensional lifted. 'What do you mean?'
'Your father's cremation was a week ago,' said Damini pointedly.
'So couldn't you have made the effort to get here in time for that?'
His face hardened. 'I think that would have been a little hypocritical, don't you? My father and I hadn't spoken for 15 years. What would have been the point of me weeping crocodile tears over on his dead body? Besides,' he went on, glancing around him, 'I doubt if I would have been very welcome. That's been made very obvious today.'
'Are you surprised?' She asked automatically..
'Not in the slightest.' There was a cynical twist to Prithvi's lips. 'Nothing's changed round here. I never expected to be greeted as the good son.'
'Perhaps if you'd come back to see your father when he was alive, you would have been,' said Damini nicely.
She must have drunk more champagne than she'd thought. She wasn't usually like this. Normally she had the sunniest of natures and wanted everyone to like her, but there was something about Prithvi Saxena that got under her skin and left her feeling ruffled and somehow aggravated.
'He wanted to see you,' she told Prithvi, who lifted a disbelieving eyebrow.
Damini lost some of her assurance. 'Well...that's what I heard. I heard that he'd begged you to come home so that he could see you before he died.'
Prithvi laughed, but there was no humour in it but a hurt with deep emotions. 'I'd like to have seen my father begging for anything!'
It didn't ring that true with what Damini remembered of Prithvi's either, now that he mentioned it his father had been a proud man.
'You mean it's not true?'.
'Asking me to post a letter would have been giving in as far as my father was concerned,' said Prithvi flatly.
Damini hesitated. 'If he was dying, he might have looked at things differently,' she suggested, but Prithvi only smiled ironically.
'You didn't know my father very well, did you?'
She looked at him in some puzzlement. 'What are you doing here, then?'
'I've come to sort out my father's affairs,' he said. 'And to see Manali specially my..pause. ...Saxena Mansion...again.'
'But I thought'' Damini stopped, uncomfortably aware that she was repeating gossip.
'You thought what? That my father had disinherited me?'
'Well...yes,' she admitted awkwardly.
Balraj had made no secret of the fact that he had been bitterly hurt by his son's rejection, and when Prithvi
hadn't come back when he was dying everyone had naturally assumed that he would do as he had long threatened
and cut Prithvi out of his will.
'No, he didn't do that,' said Prithvi, but his mouth was setting a grim line and Damini wondered what he was thinking about. It wasn't anything nice, that was for sure.
What kind of man would refuse to visit his dying father? That had been cruel. She eyed him speculatively from under her lashes. No one had been the least bit surprised at his non-appearance, but it seemed to Damini that his face didn't really live up to his reputation. It was guarded, yes, shuttered and stubborn, but it wasn't cruel. He had the dark, difficult look of a wild horse that had refused to be broken, she thought. His mouth was hard, but maybe it hadn't always been that way...
Maybe it would look quite different if he were happy. Damini's blue eyes rested on eyes than lips, trying to imagine him smiling'not a masking mocking smile, but a real smile that will lighten his eyes in a deep way. What would make him smile like that? A money?? No he has lots of..father..he hated him..or a Woman ?? No he is not interested in woman in a serious way too somehow she knew this..so Maybe love? Damini found herself imagining what it would be like to see his face soften and his original smile, and something warmed dangerously inside her.
Jerking her gaze away, she took a sip of champagne. This was Prithvi Saxena, remember? Rumour was that he had had his heart surgically removed a long time ago. His idea of happiness was probably a nice day spent asset-stripping a company, followed by a relaxing hour of currency speculation.
A spoon was being banged against a glass for attention, and her Mother was standing in side stage of the hall for a speech. Damini's eyes softened as she watched her. Her sweet mummaa, so calm, quiet and understandable. She would be lost without her Mumma. She couldn't imagine not speaking to her for even a single day and 15 ears...God like death...or worse ...
Varun was standing near her mumma, Varun, who was very funny and made everyone laugh. He finished by toasting Damini to appreciate as a gud sister to Roshni, a daughter for her mother and newly sister-in-law to him and they all clapped and cheered, turning to lift their glasses to where she stood with Prithvi at the table.
'To Damini!' they cheered and smiled, but she was uneasily aware that Prithvi was not included in their smiles.
Laughing, she smiled whole heartedly as a acknowledgment to Varun, but she was glad when everyone turned back to the bride and groom once more.
She slid a glance from under her lashes at Prithvi. In his place she would have been humiliated by the obvious way he had been ignored, but Prithvi's expression gave absolutely nothing away. Damini was sure that he had noticed, though. Those watchful eyes would miss nothing.
'Damini Di!' Roshni was calling her over the crowd, and Damini looked quickly away from Prithvi to see her sister waving her bouquet 'Catch!' she shouted.
The flowers came sailing through the air towards her, ribbons fluttering. Instinctively, Damini pushed forcibly her glass into Prithvi's hand without looking at him and jumped, catching the bouquet between both hands, and the room cheered as she flourished them triumphantly.
'Your turn next!' momma called, and she laughed.
'I wish!' with a blink of her eyes...
Her face was still alight with laughter as she turned back to Prithvi. He was watching her with an expression so strange that her smile slowly faded. 'Thanks,' she said, looking at the glass he still held, and he gave it back to her and change his view as if he had forgotten that he had it
There was a pause. Damini was very conscious of Prithvi's eyes boring into her face again, and she put her glass down so that she could fiddle with the flowers. For some reason she couldn't look at him.
'I suppose you think this kind of thing is all very silly,' she said, a defensive edge to her voice.
'Why do you say that?' Prithvi said with surprised voice
'You don't believe in marriage." rite?? Damini asked instantly
'How do you know that?'
Damini thought of all the beautiful girls who had been after Prithvi at least that's what appeared in the gossip columns, complaining about his coldness, his selfishness, his callous refusal to commit to a relationship. It had always been a wonder to Damini that they could all sound so abused by their failure to turn a heartless apart from the world into a party-going romantic. It wasn't as if they couldn't have known exactly what to expect from a heartless cold..person like Prithvi..
'I've read about you in the papers,' she admitted.
'Oh, the papers. Prithvi didn't even bother to conceal his sarcasm. 'It must be true, then!'
He shrugged. 'Let's say that I have trouble understanding what all the fuss is about.' His depreciate glance swept the hall. 'Weddings are all the same,' he told her arrogantly. 'Everyone looks the same; everyone says the same thing. The same tired old rituals every time. The dress, the photographs, the groom, the bride and he directly look into her eyes. She changed her gaze uncomfortably..'
He laughed at the flowers that Damini held in her hand, and she pulled them protectively closer to her. 'I love all the wedding traditions,' she said with a boldly challenged look. 'If I ever got married, I'd love to feel them all but not in this way..paused..I mean traditional Indian way.. u know that lehenga or saree, phera n all..with smile in her own thought!'
'But what's the point?' Prithvi asked, and Damini could practically see his lip curling at the idea of her in a bridal red lehenga or may be saree.
'You can simply signed a register or agreem..(paused).. and get what you want, I mean can marry ,' he went on, 'but it won't change the fact that when it comes down to it marriage is a business transaction like any other, and the moment one party thinks it's not getting its fair share or profit of the deal the whole thing falls apart. Before you know where you are, all the people who witnessed the wedding present would get about the divorce!' , 'Isn't it?'
'You're just a cynic,' Damini accused him with a hurt look but meantime struggling in her mind why his word hurting her so much..she should not bother about his words..why should so..he is just a stranger...but yet it hurts..
'A realist,' he corrected her with a rude smile..
'Marriage isn't a business transaction. It's about love, commitment, sharing, being soul mates...'she said with her deep feeling n emotions..
aahaaa...Prithvi mocked "'You're just a romantic,'..
'Why do people always laugh when they say that?' demanded Damini hotly, forgetting that she had accused him in exactly the same tone of voice. "There's nothing wrong with believing in love!'
Prithvi shook his head. 'It never fails to amaze me how otherwise intelligent people persist in the overly romantic belief that a wedding is the beginning of happy-ever-after! I think you have only read about me not bothered to read or you ever come across the statistics about divorce in those papers you read?'
Damini stared at him to figure out if he was teasing her, flirting or serious..?
'Of course I have,' she said with dignity. "That's why you should wait until you're absolutely sure that you're marrying the right person. And "wait" does seem to be the operative word,' she added, only half joking. I'm 26, my little angel..pause..I mean Roshni's married now..& I'm still waiting for..then smile..! I should never have agreed to be Roshni's dream wedding in christen style n to be her bridesmaid.' She looked smiling down at the flowers.
'You know what ppl say' if little sister is married n elder not than elder one might never a bride or not find a good soulmate...'
'Don't be hopeless ,' said Prithvi, irony and something else that she couldn't identify in his voice. 'You caught the bouquet & you know what is the importance or meaning of this christen style wedding..rite..??"
'I don't think it counts if it's thrown straight at you.' Damini sighed,and then blushed slightly as she caught Prithvi's eye. He obviously had her down as a desperate girl eager to wed... She really must make an effort to sound more positive.
'Anyway,' she hurried on, 'I've decided that I'm not getting married until I know it's going to be perfect, and in the meantime I'm concentrating on my career.'
'Ah, yes.' He smiled arrogantly. "The professional woman. Did you say that you were in PR?'
'Yes. I'm a freelance consultant,' she said grandly, hoping that Prithvi wouldn't guess that her efforts to establish herself had so far amounted to precisely nothing.
"There can't be much scope for public relations around here,' he commented.
Damini shook her head so that the hair brushed around her shoulder. 'No, I don't think anyone here even knows what PR stands for! I live in Mumbai,' she explained. 'I've only come home for Roshni's wedding, and I'm going back on Monday.'
'I see.' For some reason Prithvi was studying her with a new kind of interest. 'Are you busy at the moment?'
'I've got several projects in the pipeline,' she said with straight face because of her own frustration because she knew that on Monday she will be working on her project that is search for job, interview and calculations of bills and she was felt guilty that she was lying him..Well no need to tell Prithvi Saxena that, though.
'I don't suppose you know of anyone who might be interested in a...special assignment?' he asked casually.
Damini stared at him. 'You've got a job?'
'I guess you could call it that'
There was a distinctly dry note to his voice, but Damini was too excited to notice. Prithvi Saxena might not be the most popular boss in the world, but there was no doubt that Saxena Group was a hugely prestigious to work with. If she could put Saxena group in her CV, clients would be queuing up to employ her as a consultant.
'What kind of a job?' she asked, trying desperately not to sound too eager.
Prithvi hesitated slightly. 'It's highly confidential,' he told her. 'I don't want to give too much away until I'm sure I've got the right person.'
Confidential? That sounded promising. Damini bite her lips with hesitation. 'If you can consider...I might be interested.'
The cool grey eyes studied her, and she forced herself to meet his gaze calmly. 'We're talking about an important position,' he said eventually. 'I need somebody with the right instincts.'
Damini gazed at his unclear expression and replied: 'I'm completely professional!'
'Professional is easy.' Prithvi waved a dismissive hand. I'm looking for someone who isn't afraid to stand out from the crowd. Someone with ambition. Someone who's prepared to do anything to get the job done.'
'I 'have all these qualities,' she assured him.
'Are you serious and sure? I asked around about you earlier, and all anybody would tell was that you were a nice girl. Now, there's nothing wrong with nice girls, but they don't last long in a competitive commercial situation. I think you're too nice for me,' he told her bluntly.
'Not always.' Damini felt lack of confidence suddenly. It looked as if the fantastic opportunity that had arisen so unexpectedly was already fading from her grasp. Working for Saxena Group would be the end of all her problems, she thought grimly. She couldn't let it go.
'It's my sister's wedding,' she said crisply. 'Of course I'm being nice today, but I'm quite different when I'm at work.'
Prithvi looked unconvinced. 'I haven't got time to deal with tears and tantrums and wounded feelings,' he warned her. I've only got time for results. Are you telling me that you're tough enough to work with me?'
'I know I am,' said Damini with a show of confidence that effectively disguised her inner qualms. She wasn't going to back down now. She needed that job. 'What do I have to do to convince you?'
Prithvi didn't answer immediately. He considered the matter, looking around the wedding hall before his gaze came back to settle his view on Damini's face. 'I'll do anything,' she said rashly.
Are u sure..he asked with his raised eyebrow. Damini looked at him and replied (with more confidence and light on her face )..yes..
'OK,' said Prithvi. 'Kiss me.'
Joined: 25 November 2010
Joined: 17 January 2011
Joined: 15 December 2011
Joined: 25 November 2010
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