Young lord Yash Pratap Scindia gazed out upon the dark confines of his kingdom. He had spent so many years trapped as the middle son of the Scindia family, until he had found her. The beauty...The lady-like image of Duchess Arpita. She had fulfilled his every gaping hole. Alas to his misfortune, the woman who had given him his identity lost her life, fulfilling the task of blessing them both with another beautiful baby girl.
Now, his daughters were motherless, and he had hired a raven-haired beauty that plagued his waking thoughts to care for them. Her chocolate eyes were filled with a naivete that was surely sent by the gods to beguile a man. Her curves were inexplicably obvious, making their presence known through the folds of her gown. God how he wished the damn woman would wear a sack!! Hmm...A sack...? Control Yash! But as soon as he had placed a seal on his errant thoughts, the young maiden entered his room, her fledgling son gripping the edges of her gown. How lovely she looked as she gazed at the little boy with love. Their eyes met for a split second, he felt the heat course through his body. His chest tightened as his heart raced from the momentary contact of eye-conasutra. He cursed under his breath and fled from the room, leaving a very confused Aarti--the aforementioned maiden-- behind.
She stared at the empty doorway...willing him to show himself just as quickly as he had vanished...her eyes boring holes through the wood...her body all taut and tense in expectancy, till she felt a tug of her gown. She snapped back to the present, looking down to find her son looking at her askance, all wide eyed.
"What happened, mumma? You look different?"
"D...d.. Different? How?"
"Your face is all red."
"Is it? Dear God...What's happening? No...No...I cannot let him affect me thus. I have to control whatever he made me feel...Yes, I know what I'll do...I won't look at him. There...that was so simple."
"Come Ansh, my darling, let's get Palak and Payal and go for a walk by the riverside."
"Mumma, can we make paper boats?"
"Sure, you can...my little prince."
He sat upon his horse, waiting impatiently for his brothers. Lord Yash had decided to go for a little hunting trip to rid himself of this pent up energy. He tensed for a moment as his thoughts flitted to the mound of cleavage that had been showing above the top of her gown. What was with these new styles the womenfolk were wearing? How was any decent lord or other royalty supposed to save himself from the dangers of menakas and taan ka paap? The quiet neighing of his horse drew his attention back to the present. Were his eyes deceiving him? Was that the maiden? Leaving the depths of the river? He was flabbergasted! How indecent! A fully grown woman such as herself entering the river, knowing that the water would reveal...Oh dear God! His thoughts lost their focus. He shook his head, goading his horse toward the riverbank.
Her eyes met his, shock and shame filling them. She glanced down at herself, cheeks turning pink under lightly tanned skin. Before he could start on his spiel of decency for the benefit of his impressionable daughters, he noticed the sight of the drenched Palak. Instantly all lecherous thoughts fled from his mind. He flew from his loyal steed so quickly that even the most common peasant would have laughed at the disgraceful sight he made.
"Maiden, what have you allowed to happen to my princess? I leave her in your hands, nary but a few moments, and look upon the deeds of your carelessness!"
He felt the coldness and anger in his heart mildly dampen the heat he had felt at her soaked presence. Without a backward glance, he captured the shaking Palak in his arms and strode off arrogantly, petting the weeping child. The young babe, Payal, lay cooing quietly, fascinated by the plump finger of little Ansh.
Ansh looked at the little, sunny girl and felt a fierce sense of protectiveness surge through him, and he tightened his plump fingers around her hand.
"Don't worry...I won't let you slip. Mumma saved Palak...isn't she the bravest?"
A shy nod and a bright smile was all Ansh received in return.
"But why was your father angry with mumma? He is strange, you know...earlier also he stared at my mumma so deeply that she went all red and scared...Humph! I don't like him...I think..."
A small frown, and finally, she mumbled softly, almost in tears...so softly that Ansh had to bend down and strain his ears...
"My poppa is the best poppa in the whole world...You should not say bad things about him."
"Okay, okay...I won't. Please don't cry. I promise I'll make your poppa my best friend. Is that fine?" He was rewarded with a vigorous nod and a brilliant smile.
"Come children...I need to look up on how Palak is doing. "
"Coming Mrs. D!" chirped Palak.
"Coming ma!" answered Ansh enthusiastically.