"Anna listen. You are my friend and I don't want you to be hurt." Riya pleaded Annabelle, while walking next to her in the corridor.
Annabelle halted in her way, "See Riya, I know what is wrong and right for me."
"But I have heard his words, please believe me." Riya said, hoping against hope.
Annabelle exhaled and said, "Ok. Just because I know you for some years, I will not let anything happen between us more than friendship but if by the end of this assignment, you are not able to prove him as a wrong person, our friendship will be over."
Riya agreed without a thought and she got a mission. At least, she knew Annabelle would be safe. "I am ready."
"And Arjun is my friend so I will be with him as a friend," Annabelle went away saying this.
She started stalking him and when she was not stalking him, he was stalking her.
Tired from the morning session with Vaishali, they entered in the canteen. Freya was already there, with her food.
"How was your session?" Riya asked placing her bag on the table.
"Exhausting. Although, Sujal is very helpful," Freya replied, munching on her burger.
"Nice. Come Vaishali, let's grab some food," before they could go to the cue, a waiter appeared with her food.
"Your food ma'am,"
"not mine," Riya replied, confidently.
"Your friend ordered this for you," he replied her.
Riya flitted her eyes around the room and stopped at eyes fixed on her, with a glint. She noticed who it was. Arjun. So he did it, to annoy her.
"Thank you, but no thank you. Please give him back," without giving the waiter a chance, she went to the counter to get herself some food.
Arjun snickered seeing her glaring eyes, it sure made his day. Whistling, he had his dinner with Raj as Annabelle sat with her friends.
Riya followed Arjun discreetly, heard his talks but nothing that let out any hint toward his playboy way. Lost in her thoughts, hiding behind the locker room, she didn't notice Arjun turning toward her with a grin. He moved away from his friend, Raj and came to her.
As she noticed another presence with her, she tilted her hand, still hiding behind the locker. She was perplexed, she had believed she was not in his view, how wrong was she.
"So following me? I love it," he said, scrunching his eyes in fun.
She huffed coming out, since her hide-out was not really one any longer, "Smile all you want, I will let out your reality," she challenged.
"We will see baby," he winked at her and walked away.
She joined back Vishali, thinking ploys in her mind to bring out his truth. Although Annabelle confirmed that she would not date Arjun but it was primordial to expose him.
As she opened her bag, her eyes rounded but she calmed down. With her fingers, she took out the cockroach as she rose her head, she saw Arjun in her vision, anticipating her reaction.
She frowned at him and put the cockroach outside the window.
Arjun had been shocked. He didn't not expect to see a woman, not scared of this ridiculous insect.
As she arrived at her desk, she found a beautiful white rose sitting on her desk. She wondered, who it could be, 'Secret admirer?'
She had been still wondering when a hot breath fanned her neck, creating goosebumps in her body. She rotated toward the person and saw the devil incarnated.
"Loved it?" He asked, his eyes twinkling.
"No," she threw the flower at him and regained her place on the desk.
She saw him talking to woman but casually, no flirting, not touching. She felt frustrated and wanted to stab him but she controlled herself.
Against she saw a rose on her desk, this once a yellow. She sighed and threw the flower away.
She didn't know if she would be able to gather any proof against him. She had tried to talk to his friend but he stayed mum.
When she went to her locker she found a note stuck on it. Beautiful Woman's locker. Annoyed she took that sticker away and glared as his smirking face.
The first thing that he did that day, was to put a sticker on her locker and then a rose. He just loved to see her fuming face, it just filled his heart with amusement.
DAY 6 and 7
Thankfully, it was a weekend and she didn't have to face that moron. She felt bliss. Happily, she helped her mom and her siblings. Things were getting back on track.
"I am quite sure of a promotion now," her father said, feeling slightly at ease.
"I am sure dad, you will get it," Riya hugged him pecking on his cheek.
All the family members were happy, so they decided to have lunch outside on saturday. A complete family time.
Sunday afternoon arrived and they were inside a pizzeria. "Pizza," Riya's mouth watered as the pizza arrived on their table. She took her slice and devoured it, so did Shree but Aliya was eating it silently.
"It feels good to be out in family," Her mother said, admiring her husband and her children.
Her father could not help but nod at his wife's words. He loved his family at peace, without a worry.
Riya had noticed how her sister was dull. When they retired to home, Riya went in her room. "What happened?" she hugged her sister.
"I did a wrong thing?" Aliya said, with her eyes lowered.
Riya parted, still holding her, "what is that?"
"I know Aman is dating but I love him, so I told him." She said guiltily.
"So what did he say?" Riya asked him.
"He kissed me but then moved away, saying that he loved his girlfriend," Aliya said with tears.
"That moron, I will kill him," Riya was enraged.
"No di," Aliya jumped, stopping her sister.
"You still love that jerk," Riya was furious.
"I do!" Aliya lowered her eyes; a tear streaming down.
Riya took a deep breathe and said in a calm voice, "See Aliya, you love him and there is nothing wrong but never let your love become your weakness. He doesn't need to know it to play with you feelings. If you guys are really meant to, he will come around and wait to get married to you, before kissing you. Promise me, you will stay away from him. Even if someday, he tells you that he loves you, you will not let him kiss you. If he really loves you, he will wait till you get married and not play with you feeings. Promise?" She was troubled for her sister, but shouting at her would not have any right consequences.
"Promise di," Aliya hugged her dearly.
Whilst at Arjun's place, "No mom,"
"You are lying, you have no girlfriend?" she could not believe her son was lying.
"Mom, you know I never lied to you, no matter how many scoldings I get afterwards. I liked Annabelle but Riya heard my talks and told her everything and now Annabelle is stuck on friendship," he explained her.
"Good for them. Stay away from girls and study. If you like some woman get married to her like a man," she tried to instill the good things she had started teaching him from young age.
"Mom!" he rolled his eyes.
"Tell me about Riya, she looks like an interesting character?" his mother asked with a glint in her voice.
"She is so daring. Trying to find about me but I am the master in this game," he chuckled.
"Vishali here, see, we need more contrast," Riya suggested to Vishali, who was working on her given photographs.
Riya was very glad to have a talented partner like Vishali, she was timid and reserved but when it came to work, she was perfect and did her work with fine details and utter passion. Riya loved her pictures to be edits by her.
As it is, a picture in itself may seem complete, it needed touch ups to give it a full value and Vishali just did that. It was a team work and so far the week had gone good concerning work.
Concerning personal life, it had been quite a disaster. She had been trying to find proofs against Arjun but he was very smart, he did everything very cleanly yet she was not ready to loose. She had her own reasons.
People would have suggested to mind her own business, she did warn Annabelle once the rest was on the girl to heed the warning or not. But, Riya could not mind her own business, not because she had watched too many telly serials but because she could not let the innocent woman get hurt. She knew Annabelle was a grown up girl but she was still innocent.
She sighed and concentrated on her work but Arjun overpowered her mind, lately he had teasing a lot, more than Annabelle, he was playing pranks on her. Last time, she found a cockroach in her bag and she knew it was his doing, bad for him as she was not afraid of cockroach at least. One of the insects, she was afaid of was Lizard, not that she was going to tell him.
"We have to give the first presentation about our work in a week," Vishali said nervously.
Unlike their group meetings, this was a presentation in auditorium, with every student in this project present.
Riya snapped Arjun's thought out of her mind and looked toward Vishali, "Don't be nervous. We are not the only one, everyone from class will be there and present it. Just know Vishali, we just need to know the content and if you are sure about your work then it would go smootly," Riya squeezed her hands and Vishali nodded. "Come, let's go to canteen, lunch time."
Both of the went to canteen to fill their empty stomachs. Freya joined them too.
"This is what you call pictures?" Arjun exclaimed in horror as Steve gave him the pictures to edit.
"Yes, are not they awesome?" Steve said, snickering admiring the pictures.
Arjun breathed and looked again at pictures. There was about woman naked, their clevage exposed, the bare legs and he did not appreciate such pictures. "We decided to showcase beauty, then what is this?" Arjun gaped.
"This is beauty, the woman, their body, what else it can be." Steve said casually.
Arjun could not believe he gave this guy a month to come with such obscene pictures. "Steve, I know you belong to a western country... and my ways are somewhat western too but man, we should respect woman. A woman's beauty doesn't lay in her body but in her heart. Skin and outer beaut would go away with time but if someone is beautiful from inside, it would last forever."
"This is the Casanova saying me? Or are you saying me you never watched p*rn?" Steve mocked, he was not unaware of his wayward tactics. He had been witness of Arjun's flirtatious ways.
Arjun pressed his lips as he didn't know how to explain him, "Steve, it is simple, either you take decent pictures or I will take a step back from this project."
Steve sighed, he did not want to have a problem in this project. This was once in a lifetime project. "What do you want me to do then?"
For a moment, Arjun said silent then said, "I want you to capture smiles, that not only sits on lips but are spread to the eyes, I want you to capture people who spread smiles and laughs, I want you to capture the real beauty."
Amazed. Steve was amazed at Arjun's thought. He had always considered this chap as a stupid man but he was intelligent and he liked his ideas. "Ok, done."
"The only hitch is, you just have three days now to capture that.. at least a few good pictures so that I can edit and present some of them during the presentation of layout next week." Arjun said, sounding worried.
Hearing Arjun, Steve got the point. Capturing someone needed to get them. Hire someone, or request them. Last time, he had paid those girls some hundred bucks thanks to the heritage of his parents. "You know I paid, hundred bucks to each to get them photographed," he exhaled.
"I am sure, even if you a hundred bucks now, the picture that you will get would be worth hundred bucks," Arjun assured, "Don't worry, I would share the expenses for this,"
"But where would we get a model at this short moment?" Steve whined.
"hmm," Arjun stayed silent for a minute and the wanted unwanted face flashed in his mind, Riya laughing. "Riya."
"What about Riya?" Steve was confused.
"Riya. I have seen her smile, it is enchanting. Try to ask her." Arjun suggested him.
"Yes, you are right." Steve seconded. He had observed the Indian beauty for quite some long time and what better to capture her.
"But decent photographs, not short clothes or anything for her," he said in straight voice.
"Sure man, is she you girlfriend?" he asked out of blue.
"No," Arjun denied quickly. "I want to present out to the audience that photography is an art and it doesn't need to expose the models or anything to make the photographs beautiful," Arjun retorted.
"I agree. You want to ask her?" Steve asked her.
"Are you mad? she will butcher me in mini pieces and eat me without guilt," Arjun guffawed. He had done a lot to annoy her. Sweet things but annoying coming from the wrong person. For example a rose on her table every morning, or ordering her food during lunches that she did not touch, only gave him glares. 'Killing glared.'
"Ok, let me go and ask her then," Steve stood up and was about to go outside to search Riya.
"Canteen, you will find her in canteen in five minutes." Arjun said from behind. Of course he was a stalker and a good one. He saw her smiles, her 'o' shaped mouth when things didn't go her way, her love for her friends. And he felt a little, just a little guilty to have created rifts between Annabelle and here. But.. Again, it wasn't his fault entirely. Belle had known Riya for a lot more than time then she did know him and she chose him, he had not forced anything. Except that things fall in his favor. It was not his mistake.
"Thanks Man," Steve went out and Arjun followed him discreetly to the canteen.
Riya entered in the canteen laughing over something, how he admired that laugh. Yes Admired! Just admired. She had a contagious smile that made other smile.
Along her friends, she went to the counter and took her food tray. She went and sat down on her table, a waiter soon appeared with her favorite juice. "ma'am you juice,"
"I did not order any juice," A frown set on her face and he kept looking at her.
"Yes ma'am, your friend Mr Arjun did," The waiter explained.
Riya took the glass disgustingly and veered her eyes to him, searching him in the crowd and she spotted him. Picking up the glass, she marched toward him.
"Who the hell gave you the permission to send me food and drink time and again?" she fumed.
"You did," he said, tongue-in-cheek.
"You are a moron," she spat.
"And you are a princess," he said dreamily,
"you are a jerk," she gritted her teeth.
"And you are an angel," he said, his lips curved into a smile.
"uhh" she growled, scowling at him. She grinned, "Then see what this Princess and Angel can do," she took the glass and poured on his head.
He was flabbergasted for a moment having the stinky stuff on his head, but smiled. Rubbing his finger on his cheek where the liquid was flowing down and licked it, as if he was licking her cheek. She flushed and stomped off, "Idiot,"
"Miss Riya Gupta and Mr Arjun Suryakant Rawte," The principal's stern voice bloomed in the canteen, they rotated to him and saw Annabelle standing next to them, completely showing that she had called him. "In my cabin right now... no actually, Mr Rawte clean yourself before showing up," Ordering them, he left.
Riya glanced over her food tray sadly and then trailed behind the principal without a word.
"I can't believe you can do such an immature act Miss Gupta," The Principal, Mr Joseph said in disappointment.
"Sir, I apologize for my act but he had..." just then Arjun entered with his wet hairs and cleaned from just traces, expect his clothes.
"I don't want to hear anything, both of you are getting detention. You have to stay over till 7PM," he punished them. They were shocked, seriously detention for two grown up people, with a sigh, the duo agreed with their head lowered. "Go now,"
Both left the cabin. Ridhma glared at him and went to have her lunch, cursing him. With satisfaction, he walked behind her, gazing at her.
Filling her stomach, Riya was about to stand up to place back the trays in the dirty dishes shelves but a voice stopped her. "Hey Riya,"
Swerving to the voice, she found Steve. A man, she had not communicated much to. "hi," she said politely.
"How are you?"
"I am good. How are you?" she asked politely. He was not in her hater list.
"I am good. Actually, I have a request, for some reason we have to to shoot again our pictures and we are out of models. Can you please help us out and I will pay you 100pounds for that," he said pleadingly.
"I am sorry Steve, I don't do modelling and I hate your partner anyways," she said apologitically.
"200pounds," he said hopefully.
She looked at him quite enraged now and said, "No means no." and she marched away.
Arjun joined him, "So?"
"you have seen it, did you not?" Steve said angrily, he did not like being reject in front of others.
"Don't worry man. I will convince her before tonight," he assured his partner.
"Are you sure? she is tough cookie," Steve sighed.
"I will give my best try," Arjun smiled at this partner and they left to their work.
At 5PM, both entered in the detention room and looked around to just find each other, not other punished student. "Not you!" she groaned and slumped in a chair.
"Good evening students. Since you both breach the peace of canteen you have an extra project," One of the teacher said, entering the room. David was his name.
"Project?" both looked at each other.
"Nothing to difficult for cordial people but knowing your track, it will be uphill task. It can end in a day like a week or more," David informed.
"What is that?" Arjun asked, with a frown.
"Ten photographs of you by Riya Gupta and edited by you," he ordered them.
"I am not taking his pictures in my precious camera," Riya was aghast.
"Neither I am editing pictures taken by her," they both huffed and puffed and sat down.
"Suit yourself but until you don't complete this assignment 5 to 7PM, you will be in detention." he left saying so.
"All because of you," she shouted at him, her eyes glaring at him.
...To Be Continued.
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