This is the next update of her secret santa... Hope you like it... it is more of a compensation for not updating for so long...
His frown deepened. " It was last night when I thought of it."
She regarded him with surprise. " You decided to invite me out then?"
Another possibility occurred to her. " Is that why you arranged the meeting tonight with Dad?? Why you insisted that the entire family to be there??"
" Yes!!!" he said again.
She couldn't quiet believe it. " You did all that to ask me out??" she demanded in astonishment.
" Sorry," he offered in a suspiciously humble voice. " Considering my limited imagination, it was the best I could come up with on such a short notice."
She decided to take his comments seriously. " That's okay. It was a sweet gesture. But now there's a problem."
" Somehow that doesn't surprise me. What sort of problem?"
" My father expects to do business with you. You can't very well tell him that the whole point of tonight's meeting was so you could ask me out."
His gaze flickered briefly in her direction before returning to the winding road ahead. " Will it offend you if I admit that the meeting this evening gave me an opportunity to address two separate issues?? One business and the other personal. The investment company I mentioned needs a PR firm to help launch them in the community. If I put your father's firm together with King Investments, it will give Limelight a chance to prove themselves to my satisfaction while affording King the publicity they need to get off the ground."
She sighed, vaguely disappointed. " I see. You were killing two birds with one stone."
He hit third gear with less than his normal precision. "That's not quite how I would have phrased it, but yes. The arrangements I made with Mr Handa last night allowed me to have a preliminary meeting with the Limelight. At the same time I could invite you out."
" An economy of effort," she said in perfect understanding. " Quite like you." She thought she heard him curse under his breath, but when she glanced in his direction, his expression remained blandly polite. " I don't suppose you have ever heard of a telephone??"
" Of course I have." His gaze flashed in his direction once again and she caught a fleeting glimpse of irony reflected there. " But in order to conduct a conversation, the other party has to have their phone plugged in."
Her mouth literally fell open. " How did you know that I keep it unplugged??"
" It's amazing what you can learn with a little research."
She fought off a feeling of unease. " That must be one heck of a research department you have," she muttered. Which brought up a question. " I never thought to ask Rajji what you did or why you need Limelight's help. She only mentioned that Dad has been trying to attract your attention for thee last couple of years."
He lifted an eyebrow in response to that nugget of information, but did not pursue it. " You don't know what I do for a living?" he asked instead.
" No." Geet shrugged, feeling obligated to add," Since I don't work for the company, I'm not up on all the pertinent details."
" But you used to work for them, didn't you?"
Her mouth compressed. " Briefly." She heard the clipped quality enter her voice, but couldn't help it. " Very briefly."
" What was you specialty?"
She shook her head refusing to answer. " My turn. You still haven't said what you do for a living."
He turned into a narrow driveway that opened onto a sprawling estate. A dozen or so expensive foreign cars were parked close to the pillared front porch. Maan found an open spot beneath a huge apple tree and pulled in, shutting off the engine.
" Well," Geet prompted impatiently. " Are you going to tell me or is it a deep dark secret??"
" No, secret. I am a... I guess you can call me a procurer."
Releasing her seat belt, she swirled to face him, staring in disbelief. " A procurer??? Like a ... A... You are kidding right??"
" Nope. i am dead serious."
She regarded him suspiciously. It couldn't be what she was thinking. Not her dragon. He couldn't do something unethical. " Okay would you care to tell me, what, precisely, do you procure?? Or is that a question you prefer I not ask??"
He relaxed into a leather seat, clearly at home in the darkness. " You have the most revealing eyes of anyone I have ever met," he commented reflectively. " You think I am a white slaver or an international jewel thief, don't you???"
She squirmed beneath his unblinking gaze. " If it makes you feel any better, I almost immediately realized that you would not do anything so awful," she confessed.
" You realized that, did you? After less than an hour of acquaintance you know me so well. Mind if I ask how you came to this conclusion??"
" it's because you're-"
He held up a hand, cutting her off. " Forget it. I suspect it has to do with the colours doesn't it??"
" Well, yes. As a matter of fact, it does. I suspect your ethics are well defined as everything alse in your life." She had hoped that he would find the word ' well defined' a tactful alternative to 'rigid'. " But you did have me going for a moment there. A term 'procurer' does have a suggestive ring to it."
" it's a fanciful word for a mundane job," he admitted with a smile. " I like it because it evokes a much more interesting response that when I say i'm a middle man."
" A middleman, huh?? And what is it that you are in the middle of exactly??"
" I don't have a specialty. People come to me because they are having difficulty obtaining something they want or need. I get it for them. it is as simple as that."
" Somehow, I doubt it is."
" It can be a challenge at time," was all he'd conceded.
" But you have never failed to meet that challenge have you??" she guessed shrewdly. " You have always succeeded in your various procurement."
He hesitated before responding. " Since I started the business, I have never faled."
Something in the way he phrased that response gave her pause. but sh was too interested in learning more to dwell on it. " What sort of things do you procure??"
" Anything a person desires, so long as it is legal and ethical."
" And who determines whether or not it's ethical?"
" I do."
" Ah. That black and white quality of yours." A sudden thought occurred to her and she frowned. " And Limelight International?? I can't quite see you pursuing the sort of media attention Dad specializes in. How do they fit into the picture??"
" Sometimes there is no alternative."
" In which case limelight is a necessary evil?" she inquired delicately. " If there is no other way to get what you want you will use Dad's services??"
His smile flashed in the darkness. " i have the occasional need for a PR firm, either for a client or for my own personal use. Since I have a large client base it could mean a lot of business for your family..."
" You have regular customers?"She found that surprising. " I wouldn't have thought yours a business that you get repeat business."
" there are quite a few corporations I assist on a regular business. Either they are looking for a specific type of person to employ, or they are after a product or service that is not readily available."
She thought about it for a moment. Thought about all the possibilities of a man with Maan's abilities. She'd been woefully short sighted. there has to be a thousand different people with thousand different requests who would pay a fortune to obtain that one item they lacked. She gazed at him with new understanding. " You have to turn away business, don't you??"
" Yes," he said simply.
" About tonight Let me guess... You are here to make a procurement, right??"
He stiffened and she realized that she has made a lucky hit based on a wild speculation. " Very clever, geet."
She lowered her gaze in the hopes of concealing her disillusionment. " So who or what are you procuring?"
He leaned closer, snagging one of the curls brushing her temple. it wrapped around his finger with all the determination of a fast growing vine. " Let's set the record staraight, shall we?? First, i invited you out tonight because I wanted to. It had nothing to do with Limelight. Nor did it have anything to do with this evening's procurement. And second, I am obligated to attend this party. I brought you along because it would make the occasion more enjoyable. Selfish, but true."
" Still... you are killing two birds with one stone again."
He sighed. " I can see that's a practice you don't appreciate. I will make sure that it does not happen again."
" Don't worry about it."
" Polite reply, though painfully stilted." He waited a beat, then asked, " What's wrong Geet?"'
She took a deep breathe. " i don't like mixing work with pleasure." She shot him a cool direct look. " In particular, I dislike mixing Limelight business with a personal relationship. If you are using me to get information about my family, I'd rather you be frank about it. I'll tell you what you want to know, since they have nothing to hide. But don't lie to me about what you are after."
" Fair enough." He shifted closer, his eyes like flaming chips of green ice. " the truth is this... I don't give a damn about Limelight International. Any PR firm can handle the sort of business I plan to send there way, so long as they are ethical. Approaching Mr. Handa was the easiest way to get at you. Is that frank enough??"
It took a full minute to realize that she was holding her breath. She released it on a ragged sigh. " Yes. that's frank enough for me."
" I could have had Mr. handa come to my office. But since you don't work for him i would have lost the opportunity to obtain an introduction."
" There were other ways to arrange a meeting." she reminded him.
" Such as phoning. We've already discussed why that wouldn't have worked." His thumb brushed the arch of her cheek, eliciting a helpless shiver. " This way the way that occured to me, so it's the one I chose. Still frank enough??"
" Absolutely." If anything, he'd become too frank. As much as she wanted to pull away and end the conversation, the curl he'd snagged held her anchored within inches of him.
" And finally i did not invite you tonight because I needed a date. Nor did I invite you because you would prove to be a convenient 'cover' to hide my activities. If anything you're going to be one hell of a distraction. I invited you because I was too damned impatient to wait for a more convenient time. I want to get to know you right away."
" Rajji says that you never act without examining all the angles first." she protested helplessly. His gaze took fire. " I have examined all the angles. Every last one of them. An now I am acting."
" Why?" Bewilderment clouded her eyes. "Why me?"
" It's real simple sweetheart. From the minute I saw you I wanted you. I've never experienced such an immediate attraction before. So instead of taking it slow, finding a more traditional means of approach, I came after you as hard and fast I could."
It was too much, too soon. She scrambled for a way to change the subject. " Tell me what you are hoping to procure tonight. Maybe I could help."
" Now you want to help?" He released her curl with great care and eased back against his seat. " A minute ago you refused to mix business with pleasure."
" Oh. Well that was my business we could not mix. You business is fine by me." His confused expression almost made her laugh. Confusion looked good on him, she decided. It devastated his self control and allowed her a tantalizing peek at the man behind the mask. " I mean... I don't mind helping if it does not have anything to do with me. So what are you after?"
He recovered his composure with amazing speed. " I am here to procure information about our hostess Meera Khanna."
Instantly intrigued, Geet asked," What sort of information do you hope to obtain?"
He hesitated. " I'd like to get a fix on her personality... What type of a woman she is? Is she content? What are her hopes, dreams and aspirations?"
" That's expecting a lot from a simple meeting over the dinner table," Geet advised him dryly. " How do you plan to get all that out of her in one short evening of conversation?"
" That's easy. I'll talk to her until I have the facts I need."
" You're going to sit down and grill her?? That's your plan?" she shook her head in disgust. " How long did you say you've been doing this?"
His smile glimmered in the darkness and it gave her a surge of satisfaction. She had a distinct impression that there were not many individuals who managed to win a smile from him. And she had captured several already. It showed definite promise.
" You have a better idea?" he questioned dryly.
" Maybe. Just how spontaneous are, Maan Singh Khyrana?"
" Ahh... A challenge. I could never resist a challenge."
" That's good to know. But you still have not answered my question."
" Why don't you try me and see how spontaneous I am."
" I was hoping you would say that." She offered a mischievous grin. " Do the Khannas know you well?"
He shook his head. " I helped her husband with a minor transaction last month. I suppose this invitation is his way of saying thank you."
" Interesting coincidence that his wife is now the object of a procurement."
" it isn't a coincidence."
She blinked her eyes. " You... you helped Mr. Khanna in order to get at his wife?"
" Not to get to her," he corrected calmly. " It was so that I could get to know her. And yes, i helped Yash obtain something he wanted for a long time. A fair exchange in my opinion. Now if everything goes well, i will do that same thing for my client, and possibly for Meera Khanna as well."
" This information you need... it wont hurt her will it?" Geet asked uneasily. " I mean this is for a good cause,right?"
" It's for a very good cause."
She took a split second to decide. There was a gentle reassurance in his tone and a steadiness in his gaze that helped persuade her. Whatever this procurement involved, he'd make sure that it did not harm anyone. She gave a determined nod. " in that case, let's go and have some fun." She opened the car door, calling over her shoulders. " Follow my lead, okay?"
He almost laughed aloud and it was in that precise moment that Maan realized that he did not want Geet for his client. He wanted her for himself. He wanted her with an intensity he'd never experienced with another woman, not even his former wife.
She paused in the middle of the walkway. " Are you coming?"
Curious to see what she intended, Maan climbed from the car and followed. She still wore his jacket. In fact, it swamped her slender figure. Her brightly patterned skirt billowing out from underneath, flicking at him like a beckoning hand. She walked towards the front door with a purposeful step. He liked that. liked even more the way her brown curls bounced in rhythm to her stride.
One of these days, he'd free those curls so they could spill across her creamy shoulders to the tender slopes of her br****s as nature intended. Then he'd lower her onto his bed and watch her hair tumble in glorious abandonment across the sheets. And finally he'd sink his fingers deep into those soft, vibrant curls at the same moment he sank himself deep into her soft, vibrant feminine warmth.
There was only one stumbling block. He suspected Geet would prove to be a difficult woman to woo too bed. Her eyes reflected an intense wariness. She'd been burned at some point of life. Badly. And of course, there was that other matter to resolve. Once he'd proven to his satisfaction that Geet Handa and Muskaan Chadda were one and the same, he'd have to deal with the problems that would create. But he'd find a way. Until thyen he'd have to exercise both patience and delicacy.
Without a doubt, it would take a full measure of both to procure this particular woman.
PRECAP: WE JUST GOT ENGAGED TODAY!!!
HI!!! Sorry need to leave right now... but will edit this update and add a few more things in it... hope you will like the updates... pm after i update my other ff too...