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"Do we really have to go, Anji?"
"Oh, c'mon Khush! Shyaam has tried so hard to get those reservations just for you! You know it, na? Get ready, quick!"
"How many times do I have to tell you? I'm not interested in Shyaam!"
"Just go and get ready Khushi! They'll be here any minute now!"
It had been a week since the Denny and George incident and thankfully, Jeff knew nothing of it. Sighing, Khushi went to her room and opened her closet. Seeing her clothes brought a smile to her gloomy face. What could she wear? She picked some items one by one, thinking how it would look on her. Finally she opted for a simple black knitted dress by Benetton. It had skinny half sleeves and fell to her knees. She wore her new pair of black leather London Rebel strappy sandals which had four inch high stiletto heels. Then, she took her new Denny and George and wrapped it beautifully around her neck. She hastily put on some light make-up and sprayed one of her favourite perfumes, Insolence de Guerlain.
Just as she checked herself in the mirror one last time, Anji called her.
"Khush! They're here!"
Khushi quickly grabbed her red satin clutch bag by Guess and hurried out.
"Arrey, vaah Khush! Shyaam will-"
"Stop it, Anjali!"
Anji smiled but kept her mouth shut because she knew Khushi was annoyed. In fact whenever Khushi called her Anjali instead of Anji, the latter would automatically understand her friend was irritated.
Khushi was feeling bored. Each of the people she had come to the restaurant with knew another person here. Every now and then, they were like "Hey! I know that person other there, let me just say hi and come." It seemed like she was the only one who knew nobody and frankly, it was embarrassing. She was alone at the table at a certain point while Anji, Shyaam, Ivan and Jane were meeting a few people here and there. She was feeling damned hungry and angry. If only she knew someone, anyone.
As though her prayers had been heard, she glimpsed a familiar figure entering the restaurant and right then, Anji and Jane returned, followed by Shyaam. Khushi gave them a small smile before trying to see who it really was.
Anji was talking to her but she did not hear a word. Instead, she watched as Arnav Singh Raizada sat down at a table with an elderly man and a middle-aged woman. He Devi Maiyya. She knew she had asked to send a person she knew, but not him! He hated her. And it was not like she liked him that much. Ivan was back by then too. She wanted to show them she too knew people but Mr Raizada scared her. Suddenly, it felt like she was running on automatic mode.
"Hey look! Mr Raizada! I'll just be back. I need to go and say hi to him."
Khushi skipped off her chair cursing herself. What would she tell him? He Devi Maiyya! What kind of trouble had she thrown herself in? Stop it, Khushi! You can do this. Just go, say a little hi, ask if he's well, and then you come back. It's so easy! She inhaled deeply.
"Hello, Mr Raizada."
He did not heard her. Well, how would he? She stood behind him and the words she had voiced out were barely audible. She cleared her throat and tried again.
"Good evening, Mr Raizada!"
This time, several other people turned to look at her too. Shit! She had been too loud this time. She smiled feebly at him, even though it was clear on her face that she was really scared. (like the day Khushi and slapped Arnav)
"I was here for dinner... with some... friends... and... uhh... I... uhh... I saw you and... uhh..."
"And you thought you'd say hi?"
Arnav Singh Raizada surprised her giving her an amused look, along with a half-smile, which made him look so handsome she was sure her heart would stop. Then he stood up.
"Good evening, Miss Gupta. How are you?"
She giggled, remembering how she had teased the other day, on the street, when he had had not bothered to be polite."Oh, fine and you?"
He raised a brow, still sporting his small smile.
"As you can see. Meet my parents, Ma, Pa, this is Khushi Kumaari Gupta. She works for The Economist."
Khushi was stunned. Not because he was smiling. Not because his parents had also stood up to meet her. But because he knew her name. If he knew just the Khushi Gupta bit, she would understand because it was the name she used for her work. She rarely used the Kumaari with it. How did he know?
"Oh! Nice to meet you young lady!"
His father shook hands with her while his mother watched her inquisitively.
The young man groaned. "Ma, don't call me that in front of people! And I told you she's a reporter!"
The woman laughed as Khushi ogled at them. Chhote? This big man was being called Chhote?
"No, buddhu! Is she just a friend, or?"
"Just a colleague!" Khushi blurted out.
"Sorry, beta. Actually, we rarely ever meet his friends..."
"Ma, you get started every time you see a girl!"
"Well, of course we need you to get married fast, don't we, Adhiraj?"
While his father nodded gravely in agreement, Khushi blushed furiously and Arnav threw her a murderous glare.
"By the way, beta, your scarf is really nice!"
Khushi grinned at the woman.
"Thank you so much! I bought it for a really good price just a week ago. Really! And guess what? It's a Denny and George!" she said excitedly.
Oh crap! She suddenly realised her mistake. Khushi's eyes widened, feeling Mr Raizada junior's glare on her. Slowly she turned to him, biting her tongue inside her mouth. Arnav stared at her, brows raised and a question mark in his eyes.
And Khushi told herself,
"Margayi, Khushi Kumaari Gupta!" (Khushi Kumaari Gupta, you're dead!)
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