Joined: 09 February 2012
It had been only a few minutes that the downpour had turned into soft drizzle. Arnav was waiting impatiently for the green light to be on. He never enjoyed driving in the rains; the moving wiper gave him headache. His tapping on the steering stopped subconsciously as a flash of red cut through his impatience. A red dress. He loved red. He would always observe a red dress or sari and analyze it mentally, modifying it, perfecting it. But this one did not hold his interest for long. He was about to shift his attention since this very red dress needed to be changed all over; it did not match his taste at any level. But he stopped as he could not but notice the figure the drenched dress clung on to. She could be a model, he thought, only if she were a few inches taller. She could try stills though if she had a good face .. but the face changed his course of thought. No, she could not model for anything. He started his car immediately as loud horns were honked from beyond. The signal was green.
The girl was standing at the other end of the crossroad. He would drive by her in seconds. He could see her standing helpless, perhaps waiting for an auto, checking her watch. Her small, innocent face was not hiding her worries at all. She needed to start .. right now. Should he give her a lift? But why should he? Arnav let his mind & heart – rules & conscience – fight for a while. But before he could reach to a conclusion, he braked his white SUV in front of her – only a few inches away, making her almost jump on her feet. F**K. Why did he do it? He cursed himself but it was too late. He settled with himself. His decision was always right. This had to be right too.
He lowered the window and met her shocked eyes – only to see those widening more as she saw him.
The girl did not reply but stared at him wide eyed. Her eyes were interestingly hazel.
"Get in the car, Khushi Kumari Gupta."
He could see her gulp largely and trying to force words out of her mouth.
"No .. no, Sir. It is ok. I will manage."
Arnav checked his watch. He would reach office hardly in time. He frowned at her questioning her decision mentally.
He could see her gulp again. He could guess what she must be thinking. She must be scared and wondering how she should respond to him.
Arnav kind of appreciated the fact that she did not jump at the sudden opportunity. He liked it. She probably did not belong to the group of girls who sought his attention – who would not let a single opportunity to be with him. Good for her!
"I guess Lavanya is a considerate Boss."
Shrugging mildly, Arnav was about to start the car when he saw her approaching the car quickly. Her cringing at the mention of La did not escape his eyes. Lavanya could be tough at times, he knew. He waited till she opened the door quickly and got inside the car. She was sitting by his side most uncomfortably, sitting as much away as possible from him - almost pushing herself on her side of the door as if he were emitting something toxic. Arnav frowned but did not care.
She went for the seatbelt almost shrinking at his commanding tone. As she kept fumbling with the seatbelt, Arnav lost his patience. Had she never been in a car? Without thinking twice, Arnav moved forward, snatched the seatbelt from her trembling hand and fixed it. He missed to see how her trembling intensified as he drove off with speed.
Some fifteen minutes later, he parked the SUV in the basement parking of AR Industries. Arnav got down but Khushi was still sitting inside the car. Arnav frowned. She was fumbling again. What was with her and seatbelt? Arnav quietly opened her side of the door and without thinking much leaned over her to reach for the seatbelt. He did not notice how she shrunk & tried almost to vanish inside her seat though in vain. Arnav carelessly touched her arms as he unbuckled her & move away. He frowned again as she still did not move. Why was she gulping so hard? And what was wrong with her breathing?
"What?" an irritated Arnav barked.
She jumped off the seat & got down the car. Not looking at all at Arnav she uttered an almost inaudible "Shukriya" and ran away. This little incident was soon forgotten as Arnav dived into work immediately after he had entered his cabin.
It was a long, long day for Arnav. The date would change in a few more minutes and he had just started for home. The moment he had gotten inside his car, he could feel something different in the air. It was his car – as he looked around but it felt different. He drove off wondering if his sugar level had downed; there was a weird sense of dizziness that grappled his senses. It started drizzling as he was halfway to his home and that was when it struck him.
The Smell. That was it. He closed his eyes & breathed in .. deeply. A sweet citrus smell almost numbed his senses refreshing his full body system. It was not his usual freshener. He checked the car fragrance - it was still new but the floral fragrance was completely lost somewhere. He closed his eyes again for a fraction of a second to breathe in the smell as he drove along the empty street. Instantly, his eyes shot open as he had visioned the source of the fragrance – a vision in red, drenched, slightly shivering in cold, sitting straight & nervous – a profile of an innocent face with eyes glued to the weird cotton balls sewed at the border of her dupatta.
Khushi Kumari Gupta.
"I hate strong perfumes," Arnav scowled.
Arnav still could smell her as he got into his car the next morning. The smell was subtle, faint .. but still playing with his senses. Arnav felt irritated.
"That Ambi Pur must be fake," he muttered. He took a mental note to check with Mohan, the family chauffeur, from where he had bought that.
The sky was clear today, sun shining brightly. It must be really hot outside. Arnav felt good driving today. The road was clear, the sight was sunny and the air smelt good.
"What the ..??" Arnav roared as he had to brake his car all of a sudden. An auto suddenly turned left without any indicator. And the red light turned on. Arnav cursed the auto driver and went for his blackberry to check his inbox. But his hand stopped midway.
She was still standing there in the same place. She was in a yellow chudidar today – shining brightly in the sunny weather.
"Does she always stand there," Arnav wondered. He never had noticed her before.
Khushi had joined AR at least three months ago, Arnav tried to speculate. She had been working as Lavanya's assistant since she had fired her previous PA for inefficiency. The first time Arnav had seen her he could not believe Lavanya had appointed her. She had ensured him that Khushi was good for her – she was not extra-smart or over-confident but she knew her work, was hard working & never crossed her boundary. Lavanya liked her. Arnav had not asked twice and since Khushi had not been fired yet, she must be doing well enough to keep her boss happy.
As the green light was on, Arnav started his car & almost routinely, he braked the car in front of her. He lowered the glass & stared at her through his Aviator glasses. She again had her eyes wide. Her eyes were beautiful, Arnav acknowledged absentmindedly. Beautiful hazel eyes.
"No, Thank You, Sir. I will go on my own."
The refusal came as a shock and Arnav felt irritated. Arnav Singh Raizada was not used to being refused. He had asked her to give a lift for the second day in a row and she again negated. Fine! Arnav without a word upped the tinted glass & drove off, gazing at her shocked face in the side view mirror.
"Suit yourself," he muttered irritated as her face disappeared from the mirror.
Khushi kept standing at her spot with a shocked face for a few minutes as her eyes were all set on the white SUV slowly disappearing from her sight. Attitude! That was one word enough to describe the boss of her boss – the great Arnav Singh Raizada aka ASR. She had been working for AR for two months & 21 days now. She had seen him quite a few number of times and even had been to his cabin with Lavanyaji some 2-3 times. Every time it had appeared as if he had not even noticed her existence. They never had talked. Well, she did not even want to talk. Who would want to talk to ASR? Everyone had warned her about ASR's temper the day she had walked into this office. She had decided on that very moment that she would better stay away from him by all means.
She was shell shocked yesterday when he offered her a lift. She would never have gotten into that car of Attitude Singh Raizada if not for Lavanya ji. Lavanya ji aka La-Ji had been nice to her mostly but she was very professional when it came to work. And she hated tardiness. Khushi had made the mistake of being late once & she had learnt her lesson well. La-ji had really given her a hard time & reported to HR. HR had a rule to cut 1 day salary for every 3 day's reported late attendance every month. Khushi had no intention to lose that much. She was working solely for money to help her struggling family & she would never risk that. This was the only reason she, though hesitantly, had accepted a lift from him the previous day. She had been sure she would be late. The traffic always got worse after the rains & all the autos were occupied.
She was even more shocked today as he offered her a lift again. Her response came without a thought. She would never get into that car again. She felt like shrinking into a cotton ball around him – inside his car. And how ruthlessly he was touching her .. well, not really touching her willingly but he could have been more cautious with the seatbelt. Khushi fumed. How dare he behave like that! And now he drove off without even requesting her twice? Not that she would have agreed but there was something called courtesy!
"Laad Governor," Khushi muttered as she started looking for an auto.
Khushi did find an auto but that did not help her much. She was reasonably late to office, had to take a long lecture from La-ji on the importance of punctuality, got reported to HR & was assigned with horrible tasks to redeem her "unpardonable" mistake to pass the day. Khushi was still inputting data into an excel sheet when she saw ASR leaving the office. It was almost 8. Khushi's blood boiled. It was all because of him!
"How could the day go well when you start the morning seeing his grumpy face," Khushi fumed, "Hey Devi Maiya! Please don't let me see his face again .. at least not in the morning."
Devi Maiya smiled. She had always loved this girl so much. But today she was in two minds if to listen to her plea.
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