Soon we might not have this forum, either.
Which is partly why I wrote this epilogue.
Dedicated to everyone who misses the magic that was IPKKND.
Epilogue- Part 1
She leaned back in the executive armchair, her slender fingers rising to her forehead, attempting to ease the tension there.When that didn't work, she pulled off her hairclip, and shook her head to release the ebony mass of waves that cascaded down to her waist. She ran her fingers through it's length, trying to calm herself down.
Nothing seemed to work, not where he was concerned.
The moment the thought came into her mind, all her attempts to restore her peace of mind came to an abrupt halt.
She straightened in the armchair, and finally opened her eyes.
The vast wall of glass in front of her showed her the image of a woman with hazel eyes wide with fear, and that angered her.
Why was she scared?
She had never liked that emotion, fear was demeaning, and useless.
And now, she lived with it everyday, all because of him.
She couldn't believe it sometimes.
Why did he have this effect on her?
Why couldn't she be normal in his presence?
Unable to bear seeing the sight of her cowardice any more, she turned away from the wall of glass.
Unfortunately, her eyes now landed on the framed photo sitting on the antique wooden desk.
A photograph that had been there for years.
A photograph that showed her an image of a couple dancing, lost in each other, oblivious to everything else .
She closed her eyes again as the memories came back.
A love that had defied all odds, a marriage that was perfection..
She opened her eyes abruptly.
That was the reason, wasn't it?
The fear stemmed from the fact that his eyes promised the same..
And she didn't want that.
Not right now.
Her sole focus was A.R at the moment, and that was how it should be.
She couldn't afford to be distracted by other matters..and definitely not by him, no matter how much she wanted to..
She jumped up from the chair, shaken by the direction of her thoughts.
Why was she thinking of all this?
How could even allow herself to think of him that way?
And why now?
She knew the answer to that last question, of course.
As if on cue, her intercom buzzed.
She pressed the button to answer it, grateful to her secretary for breaking into her troubled musing.
"Ma'am, you asked me to remind you about the meeting this afternoon.."
"Thank you, I'll be there in ten minutes."
She allowed herself no more time to panic, and almost ran to the bathroom.
Once she was there, she quickly splashed some cold water on her face, and ran a brush through her hair, pulling it back into the hairclip she had discarded earlier.
A quick touch of lipgloss, and she turned away from the mirror, refusing to acknowledge the fear still clouding the hazel of her eyes.
Where were some jalebis when she needed them?
She took a deep breath, calling upon all her reserves of strength.
She reminded herself that she wasn't weak, after all, wasn't she the person who had take A.R to new heights already, even though it was only a few months since she had taken over as CEO?
She would do this, even if it killed her.
A.R needed this, and the company was her priority at the moment.
She wouldn't allow him to take over her priorities.
She owed it to Arnav Singh Raizada, who had trusted her with so much.
She wouldn't betray that trust, not now, not ever.
With that thought uppermost in her mind, she walked up to the door of the conference room, and took another deep breath before pushing it open.
She saw him immediately.
His height alone made him stand out in a crowd, but when he turned those eyes on her, she felt it again..
The pull that she had been dreading.
The attraction that she tried to deny.
She dropped her eyes immediately, choosing to focus on the file folder in her hands.
Her Secretary moved forward, and her voice broke through the charged silence.
"Here she is, our CEO.."
He interrupted immediately, his voice husky and completely inappropriate for the business environment they were in.
"I know who she is, we have met before, haven't we?"
She no longer had an option, she had to face him now.
She raised her eyes to his, and almost stumbled back at what she saw there..
Previously, she had thought that it was all a figment of her imagination, but now, it was plainly visible.
His eyes no longer promised, but demanded an answer.
An answer she had no intention of giving.
"Yes, we have. It is a pleasure meeting you again, Mr.Rathore."
"The..pleasure..is all mine, of course."
She didn't miss the subtle inflection in his voice, and fought to control the blush that rose to her cheeks.
She cursed the fair complexion she had been born with, and cursed this man for embarrassing her in front of her colleagues.
Outwardly, she remained calm, and turned away from him in order to greet the others.
Once that was done, she took her seat at the head of the table, supremely conscious of his every move as he seated himself at the other end of the conference table.
He took one look at his folder, and then looked up at her again.
"Shall we begin?"
"Of course. I'm sure everyone present is aware of the fact that we are operating under a deadline, and it will benefit both companies if we are able to reach an agreement on terms today.."
"The Rathore Group agrees to all terms in this contract."
His voice broke into her carefully prepared speech, startling her.
"You heard me. As the CEO of the Rathore group, I am letting you know that we have no problem with anything outlined in this contract."
Taken aback, she could only stare at him for a moment.
"Are you sure?"
"Of course. We an go ahead and sign this right now, if only you will agree to one small addition."
"Yes, I'm sure you will find that it is quite reasonable."
"What exactly is it?"
He tilted his head to one side, his eyes moving over her face with barely hidden intent.
She fumed inwardly.
How dare he!
"It is something that I would like to discuss in private, if you don't mind."
Her anger reached new heights.
Who did he think he was?
How could he sit there and ask this of her?
She answered her own question immediately.
He could do this because he knew.
He knew how important this merger was to her.
A.R needed the vast resources of the Rathore Group if it intended to fulfill its plans of overseas expansions.
Which meant that she would have to agree, even though her rage threatened to overpower her common sense.
Gritting her teeth, she stood up abruptly.
"Please excuse us, everyone."
Without waiting for a response, she turned away, facing a window that overlooked the gardens outside.
She heard the sounds of chairs being pushed back, and waited while the room emptied.
When the door closed behind the last person, she turned to face him again.
She was startled anew to find that he had moved up right behind her while she had her back to him.
She took a step back, and raised outraged eyes to his when he closed the distance between them again.
"What the hell do you think you are doing?"
"Something I should have done a long time back."
"What do you mean?"
"It's time to stop playing games, don't you think?"
She chose to ignore the message in his eyes, and stepped around him towards the conference table again.
"I don't know what you are talking about. I'm here to find out what your extra condition is, that's all. Are you going to tell me now, or should I ask my assistant to contact yours?"
He walked towards her, his steps slow and measured, and she was reminded of a predator stalking it's prey.
She shook her head slightly to rid herself of the fanciful notion, and leaned back as he stopped right in front of her.
"If that's the way you want it..okay then. The Rathore Group will sign your contract, if only you will agree.."
"To go out with me. On a Date."
She stood up with an abrupt movement that caused her chair to fall back against the ground.
"What?! Are you crazy?"
"I must be. Why else would I want to go out with you, you little spitfire?"
"Well, you don't have to! Because the answer is no! Do you hear me?"
"I thought you'd say that. Let me remind you of what is at stake for you here. All your ambitious plans for expansion into the States and Europe, not to mention.."
"I know what exactly is at stake! I just can't believe that you would stoop so low! I can sue you for harassment! All the tabloids would have a field-day with that!"
"What exactly are you afraid of?"
The sudden change of topic unnerved her, and she took a moment to compose her thoughts.
Getting angry just made her lose control, and that would serve no purpose here.
"I'm not afraid of anything. Certainly not of someone like you!"
"Then why are you using those empty threats to try and scare me off? Because you can't, you know. Once I've made up my mind to do something, I never let anything get in my way."
Her eyes widened as she was reminded of another person with exactly the same attitude.
She wouldn't think of all that, not now!
"You can do anything you want, but I'm not going out with you!"
"Because I don't like you!"
"Liar. Your voice says one thing, but your eyes say another."
"Yes, you've said that already. Can we get past that, and discuss why exactly you run away from me?"
"I'm not running! I'm right here!"
"I'm not talking about right now.I'm talking about all those times we have met in the past. Whenever I have tried to get close to you, you have always run away, with a new excuse each time. Well, it's going to stop right now. I need to know why. Why are you trying to deny what's between us?"
"There's nothing between us! And there never will be!"
"I knew you would be stubborn. Which is why I trapped you with this contract."
Her eyes widened as she suddenly understood.
She had always wondered about the speed at which things had fallen into place with this merger, and now it made perfect sense.
It was all a conspiracy!
"You went into this with the sole intention of making me go out with you? What kind of man are you?"
"A desperate one, obviously. What else could I do when you refused to even give us a chance?"
"There is no us!"
"There could be, if only you would look past your fear, or whatever it that is stopping you.."
"You know nothing about me!"
"I know enough. And I am honest enough to acknowledge what I feel. What about you?"
She took a deep breath.
It was time to put an end to this, once and for all.
"I feel nothing. For you, or anyone else. Not anymore. Do you get it?"
He stared at her for a moment, then took a quick step forward, imprisoning her in his arms before she could draw a breath.
"What are you doing?!"
He pulled her close, and bent his head towards her.
"Just proving how wrong you are, sweetheart."
His lips touched hers, and she closed her eyes.
He caressed her lips softly, and then drew back to stare into her eyes.
She looked up at him, the desire that had instantly blossomed now replaced by guilt, and fear.
She shoved him back with all her might, and watched as he stumbled against her fallen chair.
In that moment, hatred for this man overwhelmed her.
Why did he have to come into her life?
Just when she had started to...
Her thoughts came to a halt as he looked up at her again.
"You can't keep doing this forever."
"Damn you to hell, Viraf Rathore!"
Outside the conference room, two people stood on the stairs overlooking the lobby.
"What the hell are they doing inside for so long?"
"Aapko isse kya faraq padhta hai?"
Part 2 Coming up soon!
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