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Partnership? Did he say partnership? Damini stared at him. 'You mean I've got the job?'
'If you want it,' said Prithvi carefully.
Did she want it? Damini laughed. 'I want it,' she assured him 'Oh, this is fantastic! Thank you.'
She raised her glass at him for toast, her blue eyes sparkling with delight. 'I can't tell you what a relief it is,'she relaxed at last in her seat.
'I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever find another job!'Well, y r u not having ur drink..she asked him...
I don't drink..he replied with smile..
Damini's stared him with surprised look and sipped her drink..She managed to divert her mind about her new job profile.. and realised that she still had no idea at all of what the job entailed. 'Er...what exactly is this
special project you want me for?' she asked Prithvi.
He hesitated but he said at last. . 'It's complicated,'And very sensitive. I don't want to say any more until I'm sure that I can trust you.'
Damini asked carefully 'You mean, you might not want me after all?' she said, unable to keep the disappointment from her voice.
Surely he had said that the job was hers if she wanted it?
Prithvi looked at her, the corners of his mouth lifting in a slight smile.'Oh, no, I want you all right,' he said. 'But you might change your mind
when you know what's involved, and I don't want to explain that just yet Do you mind?'
Damini didn't think that she was in any position to mind.she politly replied 'Well, no, of course not,' you can explain me whenvr u feel comfortable..
whereas her mind was rolling "What on earth was he is going to ask her to do? A man like Prithvi didn't need to her, and anyway, judging by those whose
names had been linked with his in the gossip columns, she wasn't exactly his type.
'I am sorry if it seems unreasonable,' said Prithvi, misinterpreting her expression, 'but you'll understand later why I don't want to share the profile with
you right now..'
Damini pleaded. 'At least tell me if it's a PR job!'
'I think you could say that,' he conceded.
'Doesn't Saxena Group have a PR department already?'
Prithvi look into her confursed eyes 'This isn't to do with Saxena group,'It's related to me.'
'I see,' she said, although she didn't understand the meaning.
'Look,' he said , his one hand on his hair, may be a gesture of frustration, 'let's start again, shall we? We'll treat this as an ordinary interview,
and I'll explain everything later.'
'All right,' said Damini in some relief but she knw it was not an ordinary interview..in evening..opps almost night..dinner..with champagne..
Prithvi hesistatly said 'I thought if we had a dinner together, it would be a good way to find out more about you,' We can go back to the office and sit on either
side of a desk if you'd prefer.'
'No, no, this is fine!' said Damini hastily. She put her glass on the table, sat upright, smoothed her dress down over her knees and looked
confidently at Prithvi. 'Where do you want me to begin?With my last job?'
'No.' Prithvi waved her precious work experience aside. I'm more interested in your personal background.'
'But you know all that,' you mentioned in that day..she replied with confusion.
'Do I? I know you grew up in Manali but live in the Mumbai. I know that you're very sociable, and that you have a very...' He paused,
searching for the right word. 'much confidence,' he decided. 'But that's about it. There must be more to you want to share with me for start..'
'I like reading,' she said calmly, although she really preferred a good movie, shopping.
She could see from Prithvi's face that he was not impressed. 'Well, what else do you want to know?' she asked crossly.
'How about why a woman with your personality and apparent ability is so desperate for a job that she's prepared to take on an assignment without
even knowing what it is or what she'll have to do?' Prithvi suggested in a rude voice.
'It was my own fault,' Damini admitted after a long pause. She might as well tell him. 'It took me ages to decide what I wanted to do. I tried
all sorts of jobs, but eventually I ended up in PR, and it was perfect for me. I loved the parties and the organisation and the...the buzz.'
'I managed to get a job with one of the top agencies in mumbai, and for a while everything was fine. It was more than fine, actually. I had a
great job, a fantastic social life, a wonderful boyfriend. We got engaged, had a gud life.' She smiled a little sadly. 'I thought I had everything.'
'So what happened?' asked Prithvi, a faint sneer in his voice. 'Did your wonderful boyfriend turn out to be not so wonderful after all or he was not
romantice as per your expectations..?'
Damini shook her head. 'No, nothing like that.. We were not made for each other I guess.. we dated 1 year after graduation and then i left for Mumbai..
When I went back I did not feel comfortable with him as girl friend..so i mentioned him my feeling ..."she paused..
Inder is—wonderful, and now We are very good friends, comfortable together.
'It must be a bit hard for him, wasn't it?' Prithvi had been listening all right, but he obviously wasn't impressed. His grey eyes were alert and very cool.
Prithvi looked at her. She might sound sad. But still her laughter gave her expression a warmth and a humour that was much more appealing than beauty.
His gaze dropped to her hair that was flirting with her cheeks. Aware of his eyes, Damini lifted her hand and pushed the silky hair away from her face in an
unconsciously nervous gesture, but it wouldn't stay behind her ears and fell forward again on her cheek.
'I wouldn't say that,' he corrected himself said, and he smiled. a attractive smile that sent the colour surging into Damini's cheeks.
Avoiding his gaze, she took a sip of champagne and set her glass back on the table with a sharp click. 'Yes, well, anyway,' she said with a tiny cough to clear her throat.
'Once I'd sorted things out with Inder, I felt much better, but I knew I had to do the same with work. I'd been at the agency too long but not satisfied. I went in the next day and
handed in my resignation. I told them I needed a new challenge and that I was going to set up on my own business'
'And did you?'
'I tried, but it was hopeless. Starting a business is not a piece of cake and u know it better..right..She waited for his response and he smile back..she confinue.." I wasn't getting
anything gud as per my satisfaction. I was about to give up when I met you and you mentioned this job. It's my last chance to make it on my own and to stay in Mumbai.'
'hummm...Now I'realise why you were so keen to be considered,' said Prithvi.
Damini's colour deepened. He hadn't said anything, but she knew that he was thinking about the way she had kissed him at the wedding. But he asked to kiss him on cheeks not in..well by mistake
or under champage..., It wouldn't do any harm for him to realise that she had only kissed him like that because she had been desperate for job not interested in him..is she.??.
'It's been months now since I had a regular income,' she told him. 'I know I should be able to manage, but I'm not very good at economising,
'All you need is ambition if you have one you will be economical,' said Prithvi, 'and if you want it badly enough you can get there. You must have an ambition, don't you?'
Damini 'I'd like to do well at my job, of course, but I don't have any burning desire to succeed. As long as it's interesting and I've got enough to live on, I don't mind. My ambitions
aren't that focused. What I'd really like is marriage, a family of my own, the usual. I just want to be happy like my sisters.'
Prithvi didn't responsed well, but there was something very discomfort in his gesture...
'What about you?' she asked abruptly.
'What are your ambitions, or have you achieved them all?'
'No,' said Prithvi, looking at his watch carefully so that Damini couldn't read his expression. 'I've still got one.'
'What is it?' She asked with smile..
'To live at Manali.'
Damini froze with her glass halfway to her lips. 'Live at Manali?'she echoed in astonishment. 'Whatever for?'
'Just to be there,' said Prithvi simply.
She put her glass down without drinking and stared at him.
'You can't run a company the size of Saxena Group from a Manali..I mean there is no such facilities...like in Mumbai or London!'
'Yes, I can,' Prithvi intrupted her. 'I don't run Saxena group on a day-to-day basis anyway. I've got highly paid directors to do that for me. All I
need to do is to keep in contact, and I can do that from anywhere. We've got the technology now—e-mail, telephone, video links, fax.
'But why would you want to?' asked Damini, uncomprehending. "There's nothing there! Think of the places you could base yourself—New York,
Tokyo, London, Paris, ..' She threw her arms in the air as if she had tossed the world at his feet 'You're so rich, you can go anywhere, do
anything you want. I can't believe that you would give up all that and go and live in the Manali!'
'Your family do," Prithvi pointed out.
'Yes, but that's all they know. They're used to narrow roads, and not having the option of big facilated cars..They're not used to the buzz-of a
city the way you must be. I mean, Manali is beautiful,''but it's so quiet and nothing ever happens! There are no big restaurants, no
shops, no nightlife, no people, nothing.
'So if this job involved spending time in the Manali, you wouldn't want to do it?'
The question caught her off balance. She had forgotten the job for a while there in her amazement at Prithvi's announcement. She couldn't imagine
why he would need her PR skills if he was going back to Manali. He could have told her that a bit sooner, Damini reflected with a
tinge of resentment. Now she was going to have to backtrack fast!
'It's not that I don't like being there,' she assured him. 'I born and grew up up there but I was living in Mumbai for I guess 3 years,,.I love going
back home and seeing my family, too, but after a while I start to pine for the city. I mean No nightlife..no big cars..no crowd...She paused for a while..
"But, of course, it would be different working for you. I'd have a job of my own to do—and I don't imagine you'd be going to all this trouble if
you just wanted help you in horseriding training..Because i know you love to do that..?'
'No.' Prithvi smiled faintly. 'I don't want you to do that.'
'Well, then, I'm sure it won't be a problem,' said Damini. 'Frankly, I'm not in a position to pick and choose locations. If Manali is where
the job is, that's where I'll go.'
It was hard to know whether she had convinced him or not. Prithvi seemed preoccupied with his own thoughts. He was leaning forward, apparently absorbed in moving his
car key. His head was lowered, giving Damini a foreshortened view of his face. She could see his unreadable expressions..There was something guarded about the way
he held himself, she thought but she was failed to imagine him in Manali without his luxury car, dress, n other accessories...
'Are you really thinking about going to live at Manali?' she asked him, unable to conceal the disbelief in her voice.
'Because it's my home.' Prithvi looked up from the table, and as always Damini was kidnapped by the lightness of his eyes against those dark lashes. It
was like receiving a tiny electric shock every time.
'For the last few years I've been able to go anywhere in the world,' he went on, 'except the one place I wanted to be. It's where I was
born, where I grew up. The land there is part of me.'
His eyes dropped back to his keys,,' he said. 'I've been to all those cities you mentioned and I feel about them the way you feel..Luxurious. They're OK for a while,
but they're not where I want to be. They're all the same. I can stand in any Saxena office around the world and look out and all I see is concrete and cars. There's not enough
sky in a city. I sit in my office and I think about what it would be like to be back at Manali, riding through the narrow roads, waking up under the foggy sky...'
Nonplussed, she stared back at him. There had been a note in his voice when he talked about Manali that she had never heard before. Who would
have thought that Prithvi Saxena could feel like that? Prithvi, the top business icon..If asked, Damini would have said without hesitation that all
he cared about was making money, but now it seemed that she would have been wrong.
'Why have you waited until now?' she asked, puzzled. 'You could have bought a hundred properties.'
'I didn't want another property,' said Prithvi flatly. 'I only wanted Saxena Mansion.'
'But if you feel that strongly about it, why did you leave?'
His face closed. 'I had to go—and once I had my father wouldn't let me come home.' The grey eyes were bitter as he met Damini's shocked gaze.
'Yes, good Mr. Balraaj Saxena who was said to be so broken-hearted by my departure! People around Manali respected him, didn't they? They thought he was a fine, gentle man, firm but fair.' He mimicked the way people might have talked about his father. 'Not the easiest of men, perhaps, but you knew where you were with him. Isn't that right?'
Damini shifted uncomfortably in her seat. 'More or less.'
Prithvi nodded grimly. "They only ever saw one side of him. My father was an obsessive. He made my mother's life a misery, and when she left he took
out his feelings at what he thought of as her betrayal on me. I was only seven and he was determined to bring me up so that he could control me
the way he hadn't been able to control her. He refused to let her have any contact with me at all, and instead he dictated what I ate, what I
wore, what I did every minute of the day.'
Damini had been listening in disbelief, moved more by what he hadn't said than by what he had. That casual reference to his mother leaving, abandoning
a small boy to a crual father... Had any of those who had been so quick to pass judgement on Prithvi as a troublemaker ever stopped to
wonder what his childhood had been like, isolated and unhappy, with no one to comfot or console him??
Withoug realising that her hands automatically went on his hand to make him comfortable. She wished she could tell him how sorry she felt for the little boy
he had been, but she sensed that Prithvi was not the kind of man who would welcome sympathy, she realised him hands tighten under her fingers n suddenly she released his hand.
'How did you cope?' she asked quickly..
'I made him more frustrated with my act.' Prithvi's mouth twisted at the memory of growing up. I'd go out looking for trouble, and if I didn't find it, I would make it. Dad's response was to try and restrict me even further, and that only made me worse. It was inevitable that it would all end badly.'
'What happened?' asked Damini hesitantly.
Prithvi shrugged. 'We had few arguments.. and I told him I'd had enough and that I wanted to go away for a while. Dad refused to even consider
the idea. He told me he had "plans" for me.'
'What kind of plans?'
"The kind that would enable him to keep me and Manali right under his control. He wanted me to settle down, get married to a nice after turning 18 or 20, suitable
girl and have a kids for his so called wealth.'
Damini's mind boggled as she i tried to imagine the scene. 'What did you say?'
'I laughed in his face,' said Prithvi with grim satisfaction. 'I was only fifteen, for God's sake, and I told him that even if I'd been ten years older, having had him as an example of husband and father, there was no way I was ever getting married or having children!'
'He can't have liked that very much.'
Prithvi looked at her. "That's one way of putting it,' he agreed somewhat sardonically. 'I'd never seen him as angry as he was that day. For him, giving in or compromising
would have been surrendering his control, and he wasn't prepared to do that. He didn't think he would have to, either. He knew how I felt about Manali because that was my home land..
My mother;s place, I born there..my school,, friends everything for me was only Manali, and he played what he thought was his trump card. He told me that if I left I would never
be able to come back. I could go, but as far as he was concerned, I would no longer be his son, and if I ever set foot on Saxena Mansion again he would meet me with police...'
What did you say to someone whose father had said something like that?
Damini bit her lip and looked down at her hands. 'I'm sorry,' she muttered.
Prithvi lifted his shoulders in a tiny shrug, as if acknowledging the inadequacy of her response. 'In some ways my father's ultimatum was a
good thing. If things had been different I would have stayed at Manali all my life and never seen or done anything else. As it was, I chose freedom
and independence, but Saxena Mansion was the price I paid. I left the next day.'
What had it been like for him? Damini wondered. Fifteen wasn't that old to be disowned by a father and forced to make your own way in this cruel world
that too without loved. No wonder he had become a stone hearted man...
'And you never went back?'
Prithvi shook his head. 'Last week, when I came to your sister's wedding, was the fist time I'd been to Manali for almost twelve years.'
He glanced at Damini, and the sadness in his gey eyes gave her a picture of his lonely years. 'I feel as if I've spent all that time in exile,' he said. 'I'm not looking for sympathy. I've done
well in those years. I've built up a successful company and made all the money I need. My only ambition now is to go home now my home..Saxena Mansion...'
Damini couldn't imagine not being able to go home whenever she wanted.'She might argue with her mamma on few topics..or fights with roshini' she took it
for granted but now she understood the meaning of her own family..after seeing lonelyness in Prithvi's eyes..
'At least you know you're going to achieve your ambition,' she said with a cheerful smile, trying to lighten the mood. "That's more than I can say! Saxena Mansion is yours
now, and you can go back whenever you want.'
'Yes,' Prithvi agreed after a moment, but there was a hesitation in his expression that Damini didn't understand.
Wondering what had caused the newly tension in his eyes, she look around for something to say to break the lengthening silence. 'Aren't you
afraid of being lonely?' she asked at last without thiking twice.
'Lonely?' Prithvi sounded as if he didn't know what the word meant.
'Saxena Mansion is a big place,' she pointed out. 'One man could feel a bit lost in a million acres.' ,
'There are many servants there,' he pointed out, 'and there'll be the staff from Saxena group for work of course.
Damini tried and failed to picture Prithvi sitting alone in his mansion between few servants and his staff..she said with smile. 'Right,'
'And then,' said Prithvi with a pause and smile, leaning forward to look into her face, 'there'll be you.' '
Damini found her nervously wandering gaze trapped by his eyes. He held an expression that she couldn't understand. She could only stare
helplessly back at him and long for the strength to look away, make a light comment to break the atmosphere, while her heart beat hit her like thunder..
'I hope,' Prithvi added softly, and again smiled.
Damini managed to take a breath. 'Right,' she said weakly again.
In silence they had their dinner and left..
A Luxurious Car was waiting for them outside the hotel entrance. As Prithvi and Damini came out..Driver came out for opening the door. Feeling very
nervier, Damini got in... She had never been to anything like the restaurant... She was fumbling may be because of champagne..or may be she was
trying to figure out if this was a ordinary interview or not..because it seems more like a date...Date??
He wasn't interested in her. He just wanted to know how suitable she was for this mysterious job of his. The atmosphere might be
romantic, Damini reminded herself, but this was still an interview nothing else, and she had better not forget it.
'Are you all right?'He asked after adjusting his seat belt..
'Yes...yes...I'm fine.' just thinking what a beautiful night it is,' she said desperately in an attempt to explain her strange behaviour.
Prithvi looked up at the overcast sky.
'It's not raining,' she explained defiantly.
'True.' There was a thread of amusement in his voice. 'Shall we walk for a bit?'
Damini swallowed. 'OK.'
As he turned, Prithvi's eyes were caught by her fumbling walk. He frowned 'Can you walk now?
Perhaps we'd better go in the car after all.' ' he said with smile..
'No,' said Damini quickly. Too quickly. "I am perfectly fine. I'd like to walk.'She slapped herself in her mind..she should have said that she wanted to
go straight back to the hotel but that meant end of this beautifull eve with Prithvi. She should have wished Prithvi a cool goodnight and
shut herself in her room and remembered all the reasons why she didn't like him at first he is rude, proudy n whatevr... She should have
told him that she had only come to hear about the job..And what had she done instead? She had jumped at the chance of walking
alone with him in the dark night. what the hell she is doing and why???//
This is an interview. An interview. An interview, Damini chanted to herself as she fell into step beside Prithvi and he caught her in time.
There was a silence and he made her stand and turn without saying a word. Absorbed in his own thoughts, Prithvi kept his hands into his trouser pockets,
Damini was beginning to wonder whether he had forgotten that she was there when he stopped and looked .down at her.
'R u nt well to walk more?'
'walk?' said Damini blankly.
'You are not looking well enough for a walk now.'
She looked down at her feet 'No, I am fine.'Slowly she started walking..
In silence, They had been walking from last 10 minutes.as no need of words between them..confortable in each other's presence.
Suddenly she realised him standing in front of her with his head downward..staring at road ...She reminded herself she didn't
even like him very much. He was cold and hard and bitterly self-contained. She might have more sympathy for him since she had learnt
more of his story, but that didn't make him a warm, wonderful human being. Prithvi was never going to be kind, or considerate. He wasn't even fun or lovable..Lovable??
So why did he make her feel like this? Restless and nervous.
Prithvi slowly straight his head, and Damini's heart gave a flip flop and she found herself trapped by his eyes once again.
'You're very quiet,' he said. 'What are you thinking about?'
'Oh...nothing,' she said instead, her voice high and unsteady. I'm only quiet because I didn't want to interrupt you. I thought you were
'I was,' said Prithvi.
Damini looked into his eyes with confusion, without thinkin she took a step ahead until they stood an inch apart from each other,
still not touching but an invisible current that crackled between them.
Damini's heart was beating fast like a racing car. 'About whether you can trust me?' she asked with difficult smile to make out a joke of it,
'Among other things.' Prithvi looked down into her face. Her eyes were wide and dark, and he reached out to let a careless finger to move hair from her face..
'I think I could,' he said softly.
Damini stared dumbly back at him, her skin burning from that casual caress and her heart slamming against her ribs.
'Couldn't I?' said Prithvi.
She nodded like a fool.
'Good,' he said. His voice deepened. 'Do you want to know what else I was thinking about?'
'What?' she whispered, barely aware of what she was saying, conscious only of her increasing heart beat.
In response, Prithvi cupped her face gently between his palms. 'About this,' he said, smiling, and he bent his head very slowly towards hers.
Damini closed her eyes, and the next moment she felt a kiss on her lips and the world spun dazzlingly around her. Incapable of resisting, even
if she had wanted to, she leant into him in response...She was beyond being sensible, beyond thinking about anything except Prithvi was kissing her, a real kiss,
not by accident..or by mistake..She forgot everything around her but only Prithvi's kiss and his hands, sliding down her throat, gathering her closer
to him, deepening the kiss.
Damini was gasping and breathless when his lips left hers to drift seductively along her jaw.'Is...is this part of the interview?' she murmured, smiling shakily,
as she was dreaming this..may be ..?? May be she would feel him smile back against her skin and deny it, that he would kiss her again and convince her that he
wanted he because he like her or may be lovE??
But Prithvi didn't smile. He stood like a statue, his lips against her temple, and the sudden tightness of his body sent a hint of tension Damini's
spine.She pulled herself away so that
she could look into his face. 'Is it?'
'In a way,' he admitted with frustration.
Damini's arms fell, and she backed away from him until she came up against the railing of the road as she could tolerate humiliation that crashed over her.
What had he been thinking as he kissed her? Had there been a part of his mind coolly calculating her response..for sake of job..???
Damini felt sick, angry, humiliated, insulted..felt like crying..She closed her eyes as if she would open her eyes and it will becama a dream...
How could she have forgotten what Prithvi was like,,rude, proudy, stone hearted..? Had she really thought that he would lose control of the situation that easily?
He was a man who always knew exactly what he was doing, and why.
'I think you'd better tell me exactly what it is you want me for,' she said in a angry voice.
'I need a wife.'
There was a long, long silence.
'A what?' said Damini at last, she thought she had enough champagne imagine words or understanding the words wrongly.
'You heard it right.'
She moistened her lips. 'You're asking me to marry you?' Her voice was husky with disbelief, and Prithvi smiled faintly but without much humour.
'I don't seem to be going about it very well, but I guess that's just what I am doing.'
Damini rub her face with her hands to clear her view. She felt utterly confussion, still not over come by his sudden kiss and his sudden confession of marrying her that had hit
her like a slap in the face, and now struggling to accept Prithvi's incredible announcement
'But you...you don't want to get married,' she said with disbelief. Hadn't he said that? Hadn't he stood at Roshni's wedding and laugher at the very idea of being married? Or
had that happened in some parallel universe where everything made sense and not the one she found herself in now?
'I do now,' said Prithvi. 'I have to get married before I'm thirty. That's only two months away.'
Damini's hands fell from her head, but her mind still spun crazily. 'You're...joking...' she managed, still stuttering incredulously.
Prithvi shook his head, and his mouth twisted into a bitter smile. 'I wish I was.'
He looked down at his hands, as if wondering what to do with them, kept them into pockets as he turned to face the sky.
'My father left me Saxena Mansion, but on one condition,' he said with frustration. 'I can have that, but only if I get married, and only if my wife is a resident of
Manali, born and grew up there.'
Damini stared at him. 'But surely that's not legal!' she protested.
'Do you think I haven't had my entire legal department combing the will for loopholes?' Prithvi almost snarled. 'It's legal all right. If I want
Mansion, I have to find myself a wife.'
'And that's the job? Marrying you?'
A anger took over Damini and she felt collapsed, shaken, against the railing. It came out of nowhere, exploding like a bomb which Damini had never experienced
before. Puzzled with confussion and anger, she faced Prithvi with wide eyes.
'So tonight—the dineer, the luxurious drive, hotel and that kiss was all about?' Her voice shook, but this time with fury rather than
distress. 'You needed someone to marry, and you thought I'd do? Poor Damini, and still single whereas her both youger sister married..! She must be
desperate for marriage! Is that what you thought?'
'No,' said Prithvi, but she hardly heard him.
'I bet you thought it would be easy. All you had to do was show me all the luxury to impress. It wouldn't take much time to impress a small town girl
like me, would it? A small dinner, and a car, and I'd jump at the idea of marrying you!'
'It wasn't like that,' Prithvi began, his voice tightening, but Damini was too angry to listen.
'And that kiss just now?' she demanded furiously. 'What was that about? Extra insurance in case all that money does not work, you assure that would work..because you think..
I m so desperate for being married.. I'd fall into the arms of the first man who showed me a little attention?
'No!' Prithvi shouted back at her, and a couple who were passing looked curiously at them as they faced each other angrily. A muscle pounded in
his cheek, and he made a visible effort to control himself.
'No,' he said again, more quietly this time. "That wasn't what I was thinking when I kissed you.'
'What were you thinking, then?' Damini asked with lower voice so that no one near by can hear her..
'I wasn't thinking at all,' said Prithvi. "That was the trouble.'
They stared at each other in silence as both were thinking about that kiss. Damini looked away as she was about to cry. Prithvi's kiss might have been calculating,
but she had so nearly fallen for it.
'I don't believe this!' she muttered, slowly rubbing her tears from her cheeks.
Prithvi sighed and raked his fingers through his hair with frustration or impatience. 'Look, I'm sorry. I've gone about this all the wrong way. Will you just let me explain?'
'I don't think I want to hear it.'
'You said I could trust you.' He hesitated. 'Please, Damini?'
Prithvi Saxena begging. Now there was a turn-up for the books, thought Damini bitterly. 'Please' wasn't a word that he would use very often.
Her body was still shaking with reaction, and humiliating tears filled in her eyes. She didn't want to listen to Prithvi explaining why he had
made a fool out of her, but that wonderful, increasing anger had went away, as she made the mistake of looking at Prithvi. He was watching
her with a serious expression, and something in his eyes made her nod her head.
'All right,' she said dully.
Prithvi let out a breath. 'I don't know about you, but I could use a coffee,'he said. 'Let's go and sit down somewhere, please.'
He took her arm without waiting for her response and led back to a cafe they had passed earlier, she followed him like a fool again. She waited until he came
back and put a cup in her hand.
'Drink that,' he said. Sipping obediently, Damini choked as the hot coffee burned down her throat. Her eyes watered, but he patted her back like a kid..
'Yes.' She nodded, even managing a shaky smile.
Prithvi sat down next to her and sipping his own coffee in silence, obviously choosing his words carefully.
He started slowly like talking to himself almost.. 'After leaving Manali..I used to ring Dad, but he always hung up at
the sound of my voice, and after a while I admit that I gave up. I'd moved to Mumbai and after a long struggle, made this empire. and got busy...but a few years
ago I tried again.
'I knew that Dad was getting older and that he would need help running his business, though I was not interested in his business but in him..n of course my mansion..my mother's
last..belonging..so I wrote to him, suggesting that I came back and took on some of the responsibility. He didn't answer, but I got a letter back from his
lawyer, who said that my father had already made his position clear and was not prepared to discuss the matter further. In other words, I could
only go home if I agreed to get married when I was only 22 . And I wasn't prepared to do that'
Prithvi glanced at Damini. She was still looking shocked, but at least she was listening. 'I know it sounds stupid, but at that point I really did give
up. I told myself that I was just going to have to wait until he died before I could go home. Saxena Mansion was the only thing Dad, Maa and I had in common,
and I was sure that he wouldn't leave it to anyone other than his son.'
He laughed with sadness in his eyes. 'I should have known better! Dad had his plan, and he'd waited a long time to get his own way. He wanted me married, and
Saxena Mansion passed on to a new generation, so he inserted that clause into his will. I could have mansion, but only if I did what he had
wanted me to do all along.
'He was very specific,' he added bitterly. 'I had to get married before I was thirty, and I couldn't choose anyone I wanted. My mother was Mumbai girl or
you can say.. a city girl, and that marriage was a disaster. There was no way Dad was letting anyone like her..i mean a city girl back in that mention. That's why he insisted on me
marrying a girl belong to Manali only, the kind of woman he thought was suitable for me. The lawyers have to be satisfied that my wife
fulfils his conditions before Saxena Mention legally becomes mine.'
'I can't believe a father would do anything like that,' said Damini helplessly.
'I can,' said Prithvi. 'His will was Dad's last chance to get his own way.
He'd refused to let me back to Manali for those years, but that hadn't worked. He knew how much it meant to me,
and that it was the one thing that would get me to do what he wanted.'
He smiled... I'll bet Dad enjoyed putting that clause in the will,knowing I'd be counting on the fact that Saxena Mansion would be mine in the end.
He must have thought he'd hit on the perfect way to control me!' '
'What happens if you don't get married?' she asked him slowly..
'It goes to a distant relative—the son of one of Dad's cousins. Bitterness slipped back into Prithvi's voice. 'It wouldn't mean anything to him.'
'Well...couldn't you get married and then divorced?'
'I thought of that, but Dad had it all covered. He wasn't going to have the future of mansion threatened by any divorce. He wanted me settled, with
a sensible wife and a family, he way he'd planned it all along. So the will specifies that the day I get divorced, the property reverts to my cousin.'
'My father had planned everything very well to control me.."
Damini was beginning to understand his bitterness. 'So you have a straight choice? Marry, or lose Saxena mansion.'
Prithvi replied bitterly ..'That's it.When his lawyer told me about the condition in the will, I was so angry I couldn't think straight. I'd
spent my whole life trying to get away from my father's control, and now if I wanted my mom's last assest I'd have to give in. I'd sworn I would never let anyone
else run my life for me. I'd have to give up my independence, marry the kind of girl he'd wanted me to marry .. I decided I couldn't do
it It would be like letting him control the rest of my life once again. And then I went back to sort out his things.'
Prithvi looked into her eyes and said..'It was the first time I'd been to Manali in fifteen years. It was only when I went back that I
realised quite how much I'd missed it. It was...' He trailed off, looking down at his hands. 'I can't tell you what it was like,' he
admitted eventually. 'Nothing had changed. Part of me still wants to say to hell with my father, but...'
He looked into Damini's eyes, his own very clear and direct. 'I want to go back,'And to go back I have to have a wife.' '
Damini turned her gaze away and stared fixedly down at the cup she was turning between her hands on the table. 'So that's why you came to
Roshni's wedding, that too without invitation' she said dully.
'Yes,but not without invitation' he acknowledged. 'I'd only just made my decision and I was still
feeling bitter about it When Varun invited me, He worked for my company for 1 year, I thought I might as well go along. I'd have to get to know people eventually, and it seemed
as good an opportunity as any to start. But I soon realised it wasn't going to be that easy to find a wife. There were plenty of people there
who remembered me from my wild days, and they made it very clear they didn't want anything to do with me.'
Damini remembered him in the wedding, coolly observing the crowd so all that was for a wife..??.
'So what made you pick on me as a suitable wife?' she asked cautionally.
Prithvi slowly look at her as if picturing her as she had been that day. 'You were different.You were the only person there prepared to talk to me, for a start. And
you looked different,You had style. The more I found out about you, the better you seemed. You might be a city girl now, but you were born in Manali
and everyone agreed what a nice girl you were. My father's advocate couldn't possibly object to you.'
'Oh, Damini said sarcastically, realising for the first time how carefully he had been looking her over.
He smiled slightly :'When you caught that bouquet...' 'Well, I'm not a great believer in all those old rituals or stupid sayings , but I did begin to wonder if somebody was trying
to tell me something about you..! I knew that you were single and without a doubt attractive.'
Prithvi glanced at Damini's confused face. "I'm not pretending I fell madly in love with you, Damini. I've never wanted to get married, but I knew that I
had to find someone, and when I looked around that I realised that I'd as soon marry you as anyone else.'
Damini replied with bitterness.."Thanks for the compliments but I am not for sale or.. !'
But Prithvi went on ignoring her sarcastic repsonse. 'My next step was to find a way to see you again,' 'It was a stroke of luck when you told me
that you were in PR and setting up on your own. I know what the market is like at the moment so for me there was a good chance that you'd be
looking for work.'
Damini hit her hand on table with bit anger..'You mean there was a good chance of me falling for that line about a job,' That must have given you a laugh, letting me
think that I could salvage my career, when all the time—' she paused for a moment... 'And that kiss!'
she remembered furiously. "There was no need for me to make an exhibition of myself in front of all those people, was there?'
Prithvi replied with little with humour 'On the contrary. It told me a lot about you.' 'If you'd been the kind of girl who was
afraid by what other people thought, there would have been no point in getting to know you any better.'But you aren't that kind of girl, are you, Damini?' he said.
'I was desperate for a job,' said Damini defensively. 'I would never have said you ok otherwise.'
'And this evening?' he asked her while looking into her eyes.
She turned away n muttered slowly :'You should have told me,' 'I thought I was being interviewed all evening.'
'I couldn't tell you straight out,' said Prithvi. 'I knew that you'd never have agreed if I'd told you that I was looking for a wife and not a PR
consultant. I wanted you to know what that house meant to me. I wanted to try and make you understand why I had to get married, and I had to be sure
that you are the right girl. "That's why I said I had to trust you,' his eyes on Damini's face. "That's why I'm trusting you now.'
'You said you wanted to be married, Damini,' Prithvi reminded her when she only looked away.
she replied hashly :'Not like this Mr. Saxena..'
He smiled 'The end result is the same. This way we could both achieve our ambitions. I could have what I want and you could have marriage with financial support that's what you want.'
She pushed her chair to stand and reply "'You can't treat being a wife as if it's some kind of job! What were you proposing to do, offer me a salary?'
He grabbed her hand to make her sit once again, ignoring her harsh tone, replied seriously. 'You wouldn't need a salary, As my wife, you would be a very wealthy woman & You'd be able to do whatever you wanted.'. '
'Except divorce you,' she pointed out.
He shrugged. 'I wouldn't interfere with you. You could be as independent as you wanted as long as you were legally married to me. You wouldn't
even have to pretend my wife in front of other people..you could have you life as you want.. he said with a sideways glance at Damini's angry face.
'You could have a lover, I will buy yourself a house wherever you will ask me to and you can live exactly the way you want to live. All you'd have to do is spend enough
time with me at Manali to convince my father's Advocated that our marriage was genuine. That wouldn't be too hard, would it?'
"That's not what marriage is about, Mr. Saxena and I am really not shocked about your opinion about marriage but' protested Damini, dissapointed at the mere idea of such a cold-hearted arrangement 'It's not about money or
independence. It's about commitment. It's about sharing.' She looked down at her hands in her lap. 'It's about love.'and what did you say..I could have lover..haa..
She made a loud laugh without humour..you know what kind of relation that would called ...i don't care about your principals of life but I do have my principals and ideology of life
n i m really sorry but not interested in your proposal..In fact you ...you will b the last option for me still i would say no to you or would accept death..understood.
'Oh, love...' Prithvi mimicked her. 'I might have known you'd bring that up, how can I forget that, Ms. Romantic..!'
'It's important,' said Damini stubbornly.
'It's an illusion,' he replied quickly. 'I'm not going to insult your intelligence by pretending that I'm in love with you, Damini, but I think
we could still have a lot going for us. There are lots of things about you that I like. I like the way you look. I like the way you talk.' He
paused, and a naughty smile into his voice. 'I like the way you kiss.'
Damini steeled herself against the charm. She wasn't going to fall for that smile again! 'ohh really or You like the way marrying me would help you to
get million-acre property!' she replied..
'That too,' Prithvi agreed raising his hand as a act of surrender. 'I think it would be enough to make a marriage work..ok just reply one question don't you
like any quality of mine .
'Right at this moment, I can't think of any!, Actually you don't have any, Mr. Saxena...' she said harshly..
'You like staring at me..,kissing me,' he said unfairly, blinking his eyes with mischief. 'And don't try to deny it,' he added, as Damini opened her mouth.
She shut it again with something of a snap and eyed Prithvi with hostility. 'It's not true..and also not enough for a marrige,' she said after a moment.
Prithvi drew in a sharp breath of frustration. 'What exactly is it that you want?' he asked, struggling to contain his impatience.
What did she want? Damini laid her hands on the table and studied them. 'I dn't want to marry you..I want someone to love,' she said slowly. 'Not someone I'm fond of, or someone I desire, but someone I
need. Someone who'll always be there, to hold me and keep me safe and make me laugh when I'm down. Someone to be the other half of me.' She raised her eyes to meet Prithvi's steadily. 'I want someone who'll feel
exactly the same about me,' she told him.
There was a tiny silence, then Prithvi looked away almost irritably. 'That's just a romantic dream,' he said. 'Life isn't like that'
Damini thought of her both sister just starting her married life with Sameer & Varun . 'It can be.'
'How often?' demanded Prithvi. 'How long are you going to hold out for this mythical someone, Damini? Five years? Ten? You're—what? 26 or 27, ?'
'26,' she confirmed him with irritation.
'OK, time's still running out. You're living in a dream world, Damini. There's no such thing as a perfect relationship, and one day you're going to wake up and realise that you've wasted your life waiting for something that doesn't exist. I may not be your ideal man, but at least I'm real,' he said. & he went on, 'think about my proposal and think about what a difference it could make. No more worrying about your financial issues. I can offer you financial security,' said Prithvi, at his most persuasive, 'and I can give you emotional security too, if that's what you want.'
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saas ne milla di jodi
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