“Hop in Raizada. I will drop you”
Khushi said chirpily while motioning a grim looking Arnav to get in her car. Her car that is a small Ford Figo, hatchback version, latest edition in a neon pink color, but a bit too small for the likes of someone like Arnav Singh Raizada. No way in hell was he getting in this pinky thing and he opened his mouth to convey his displeasure when Khushi honked at him a couple times impatiently after getting in and settling down and was now peeking at him through the half down windows. Muttering some mandatory what the, a couple unbelievable under his breath, he finally got in wearing a scowl on that handsome face.
“Come on, get going..I don’t want to get photographed in this pink car”
He frowned rubbing his palm across his face, also hiding behind it when she broke in
“Heyy Wait. Did you just insult Elizabeth??? Khushi turned towards him from her driving seat, giving him her undivided attention, with her brows furrowed and the scrunched nose effectively showing her displeasure at one particular Raizada here.
“Elizabeth Who?” He tried again narrowing his eyes, not getting a clue in the world what she was talking about
“ELIZABETH She” She huffed, moving her index finger upwards in a circular motion towards the interior of the car.
“God, you are so slow, Raizada. ELI.ZAAAA.BETH”
She punctuated every word in anger, slowly pointing towards her car before narrowing her eyes. Exhaling a breath in the air, she blew up her bangs in the air before it fell on her forehead again in a rhythmic fashion. Now that painted a very cute picture for Arnav and for a second his fingers twitched to feel those bangs and put them behind her ears so he could see her eyes properly. But the still sane, still logical part of his brain reminded him of the name Elizabeth, that too in a bright neon pink glowing placard,
“You named your car Elizabeth?”
“Of course. Beautiful, isn’t she? Like a Queen”, her expressions changed instantly as she replied with a glow in her eyes. Her first car. From her own savings. She was on cloud nine on that particular Sunday, roaming around the showroom looking for the perfect car when she spotted her in a corner. The pink beauty that she was. Their least sellable model cause of the odd and unique color choice and Khushi couldn’t in her heart reject it and hurt her feelings for that. Ati sundar, she went all dreamy eyed at her and even alone the car was standing proud like a queen, away from the mortal crowd. Or so Khushi thought. She had been a proud car momma that day and she would be damned in hell if she let this creature sitting in front of her talk ill about her Queen. Glancing at him again, she continued
“Yeah. You should address people..and things by their name while talking to them rather than generalizing right. How would you feel if I say to you, Hey male, Hi Male, you have got mail Male. Mail Male..haha..did you see that?? “
And then she genuinely laughed at the epic-ness of the joke she just created on the spot. So much for the talent. Damn, Khushi, you can pursue standup comedy as an alternate career choice too, she patted herself mentally. She glanced at him while still containing her giggles and her future plans in tow and her laughter died down a sudden death when she realized it was not returned by her lone audience. Lone audience who was now boring holes in her with his steely gaze. Who, for the matter of fact was glaring at her with a what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here expressions on his face?
“YOU TALK TO YOUR CAR? OBVIOUSLY, RIGHT. WHY AM I NOT SURPRISED?” He closed his eyes momentarily before grunting in a way only this particular man could do and still make it sound sexy as hell. Then rolled his eyes heavenly before looking upwards as if having a silent conversation with the gods on what the hell they were thinking when they created this particular creature sitting beside him. And then he shook his head when he realize the absurdity at the kind of conversation he was having at that moment with this particular girl. Only with this particular girl, to be specific.
She shrugged her shoulders in response ignoring his statement completely before adding one from her side,
“You should apologize to Elizabeth by the way. You hurt her feelings”
“ARE YOU SERIOUS?”
“I am. Damn serious”
“Shit they are outside now..be quick Arnav Singh Raizada”
Khushi cursed while checking the rear view mirror when she spotted a couple of reporters now exiting the hotel entrance in search of them. Few of them looking around with cameras in their hand ready to click what could have been the next day’s juicy headline on page 3.
“I AM NOT APOLOGIZING. TO YOUR DAMN CAR”
“Shit..they can see us any second now..they are coming in this direction”
Khushi cursed again and this time Arnav cursed too and cursed some more at the conversation they were having in the middle of the parking lot and tried burning this person on the driving seat with the intensity of his gaze if that was possible.
“Be quick if you don’t want to get photographed sitting in this pink car”
She had to air quote the pink car for the dramatic effects for very obvious reasons before checking the rear view again for the reporters now approaching them with cameras in their hand.
“WHAT….NOO WAY IN HELL”
And then they heard one over the top enthusiastic reporter yelling in excitement who might have spotted them and was now leading the pack in tow running towards Khushi’s car handling that heavy camera in his hands. Few seconds later they heard couple of taps on their car windows and a faint screaming and mumbling of questions thrown at them from the back with the crowd now starting to gather around that particular spot.
She looked at him with questioning eyes and he exploded.
“ELIZABETH..SORRY…CAN WE JUST FUCKING GO NOW??..FOR GODS SAKE YOU ONE CRAZY WOMAN” A fuming Arnav finally blurted throwing his hands up in the air before raking through his thick manes.
“Say no more captain”, Khushi winked at Arnav before giving him a small salute sideways, focusing ahead like a woman on mission now. She pressed the accelerator and zoomed past the herd of the hungry paps waiting to click their pictures.
“Ar…”, she attempted few seconds later
“NOT.A.WORD.KHUSHI. Loose them now they are following us”
And she zipped her lips this time, without a single word. Too scared to rile up the already seething lion exhaling fire instead of carbon di oxide each time he breathed. She glanced at him discreetly after a couple minutes when she was sure he wouldn’t notice her gazing. Not that he will, given how busy he was muttering strings of god knows what under his breath. The site of masculine Arnav Singh Raizada on the passenger seat dominating her feminine car was suddenly too much for her delicate stomach as she felt something fluttering in there. She realized how closed in proximity they actually were and suddenly the space between them was too small all of a sudden. No, it must be the after effect of too many Aaloo ke parathe she had for breakfast. Yeah, Aaloo Ke parathe. Damn you culprit. Yeah, that’s the reason. What else. Shrugging all her worries on that thought and very happy with the self-diagnosis of the sudden uneasy and unfamiliar feeling, she focused back on the road with the task at hand. LOOSE THEM NOW!
It was a solid 15 minutes of Khushi driving around the town while losing the paps one by one who were chasing them on their vehicles. She squealed in pleasure with joy, laughing at her impressive driving skills every time they lose one such vulture chasing them for a photo or bite, meanwhile humming the James Bond musical theme in the background to complete the effect. Standup comedy, give side please, she can very well be a formula car racer now. And a damn good one at that.
“Last one left. Whoohoo. Gear up Elizabeth for one more time. We need to save the Lord Raizada from the clutches of the evils“, she squealed with joy as she pressed the accelerator again overtaking the car ahead of her. She changed lanes quickly before taking a swift turn on the left to enter the less crowded road now and checked in the rear view mirror. Driving around the area for couple more minutes she checked the mirror again, when she was sure they were not followed anymore, she slowed down her car and Elizabeth came to a halt, tired from all the escape thriller.
Khushi turned sideways, facing a grim looking Arnav but her face brimming with barely contained excitement. Arching up her brows in question and tapping her feet impatiently, she waited for his judgement. When none came her way except his eyes shooting daggers at her, she continued chirpily arching her brows,
“So? How would you rate my life saving skills out of 10?”
“I WOULD RATE YOU 100 OUT OF 10 ON YOUR STUPIDITY. WHAT A MESS YOU HAVE CREATED”
“I HAVE CREATED? I saved you from those hungry paps. You should be thanking me that you are alive and breathing fire”
“SAVED ME? Yeah right. Who told you to sit in front of the hotel and chit chat about some freaking stupid name of your goddamn car”
“ONE MORE TIME IF YOU..”
“ohkay..ohkay calm down, will you?”
She puts up her hands in surrender cutting his rant short, exhaling a breath. Now that the adrenaline rush was settling down a little, she realized why they escaped the way they escaped and realized they need to find a solution to this lingering problem.
“You should not be allowed to roam on the streets alone. You know that, don’t you? Its dangerous for mankind”
Khushi just shrugged in response to his reply before sticking her tongue out at him when he wasn’t looking. Thank god that he is finally stepping down this ladder. He was perched on this super high pedestal of anger and was dancing on top from the last 15 minutes. Oh, she noticed this man can say what the in seven different ways. How cool is that. Her gaze fell on his thick and slightly disheveled hair. The way he was raking it with his think fingers in simmering anger was too sexy and her gaze turned a bit dreamy thinking if she should record it and then play in loop afterwards to order to unwind after a long day at work. And then she realized in horror the boundary her thoughts just over stepped. Massive overstepping. A clear No ball.
“STOP. STOP DOING THAT”
And when Arnav actually stopped midway now glaring at her with all his attention, she added quickly, “errm..I mean we have stopped. Now. Now what. What should we do?”
“Good question. Lets talk some more about Elizabeth. Her Likes and Dislikes. Maybe you should find a prospective groom and marry her off?”
A super quick retort was just sitting on her tongue at the mention of Elizabeth but before she could reply Arnav shook his head and started shrugging out of his suit jacket. If she had thought it was hot inside before, now Elizabeth felt nothing short of Sahara desert with no water in sight and Khushi could do nothing but gulp on a dry throat. Even more so when he started rolling up his sleeves in an almost torturously slow manner. Giving all the porn stars a run for their money. This should be a separate category on those adult sites. And Khushi felt like a pervert peeking at him like this as if she walked in on him pleasuring himself. It felt like one to Khushi. What in the effing hell? Closing her eyes, she tried to scrubbed that image off her memory that was going to give her hell if she let it loose in her memory lanes at some later stage and then reminded herself, she need to divert the conversation. Right freaking now.
“Okay. Smarty mouth. What about the situation? That meeting with the ex was a stupid idea”
“Oh. Is it? Guess we will never know since you barged in between before it could happen”
“It was a very stupid idea to begin with Mr Raizada. What were you thinking meeting up with your ex when you have a possible girlfriend by your side?”
“errmmm..I mean, as per the newspapers. ”
She added hastily when he just arched his brows at her instead of replying and then added quickly.
“And it would have portrayed me as the ultimate ablaa naari of 21st century. The world would have laughed at me at my stupidity that I did not see that coming. They would have published articles on me about how idiot I was to get dumped by the most eligible bachelor on the planet Earth. . Nobody would have dated me post that cause they won’t want to date a person with that low an IQ. I would have died single. And alone. NOOO”, she gasped in horror when she actually started visualizing herself as a single 80 old year lady sipping her tea alone on her front porch looking for some company.
“Are you always this extra?”
“Yep. We should think of some other way. Our families are involved right. We need to play it safe. ARE YOU HUNGRY?”
“My mind works best while munching”
She stared outside at her surroundings. In order to escape the reporters they were in a rather unfamiliar part of the town. A bit rugged and crowded than he was used to but just the perfect setting for Khushi as her eyes lit up light 2 led bulbs.
“Good, I have just the place in mind”
“Khushi, this was not what I expected, when I said whatever”
Arnav hissed under his breath in a low voice following a rather bubbly Khushi who was now skipping a step or two in excitement.
“I know. Better, right?”
She turned around, flashing her smile, a light breeze flew away her bangs yet again and Arnav felt that unfamiliar feeling creeping inside him again. What the? Control this latest fascination with the bangs Raizada. Mentally slapping himself and slowly backing off from the uncharted territory he controlled his wayward thoughts from entering into the no go zone and focused on his surrounding instead.
They were standing beside the road side stall of Brijlal Chaat Bhandaar. Of the world famous Brijlal, as per Khushi, A 40ish year old man with thick black moustache, currently serving paani puris to a group pf 4 squealing college girls while flashing his paler than pale teeths. Arnav closed his eyes momentarily, this day couldn’t have turned weirder even if he tried. What the hell was he doing here standing beside a roadside stall on the narrow street while vehicles zooming past them and then he suddenly remembered the conversation he had with Khushi on their first meeting. Irony much?
Shaking his head, he was mentally jotting down points as to why this girl was a bad influence on his sanity when he was suddenly thrusted with a plate in his hand with 2 panipuris in it. What the hell was he supposed to do with these 2 mini golf ball size thingys with something floating in it?
Khushi turned towards him with her own plate in hand, jumping up in excitement as she picked one crispy deep fried puri brimming to the surface with the spicy flavored water and lip smacking potato filling in it and placed it in her mouth with utmost care so as not to break the delicate treasure midway. Arnav noticed the exact instant it hit her taste buds because her eyes widened in what could only be described as ecstasy and her cheeks puffed out as she tried her hardest to chew and gulp it down. Few drops of water still managed to dribble down the corners of her lips. And before Arnav could realize what he was doing, he was wiping it down with his thumb the next second.
And the second after that, the horror of his actions dawned upon him. A petrified Arnav looked at his wet thumb. A shocked Khushi looked at his wet thumb. Arnav’s wet thumb glanced up to 2 horrified expressions looking at it. Wet thumb now going down awkwardly and getting wiped off behind his 2000 dollar Armani trousers.
“What the..what am I supposed to do with this?”,
He drawled between his teeths indicating the plate in his hands and a frown marring his otherwise lovely face. Yes, Raizada. Good going. That’s what we do when we don’t know how to react. We go and throw WHAT THEs around for absolutely no reasons at all.
“oh..oh, you need to pick it carefully and eat this thing in one go..like this”
And then she demonstrated the same process again and Arnav literally cured some lovely F words under his breath. Not again. He didn’t know why was he getting this unfamiliar, unsettling feeling again that made him want to strangle her and keep looking at her at the same time, for some strange reasons. Very very strange reasons. He turned around in frustration, needing a moment to gather his wild thoughts away from this whole insanity ride she was taking him on, very much without his own consent. He narrowed his eyes in anger when he saw 2 men ogling at the very same demonstration and shifted around in front of Khushi to block their view and glare at them with the intensity matching with Khaleesi’s dragon spitting fire. Meanwhile, Khushi’s gaze fell on his round backside wrapped beautifully in a body hugging, shivers generating custom made Armani trouser. She could bet her money he can convince any flat earth theorist by just displaying that rounder than earth ass of his. Rounder than the panipuri in her hand. And as she took a bite of the said panipuri, suddenly a very NSFW visual of her biting into that pert bottom popped into her mind, out of nowhere. Her eyes widened twice the original size when she realized the horror of her imagination. Obviously, given the scenario, the spicy water swirling in her mouth had to go down the wrong food pipe and she erupted into fits of cough.
Arnav turned around to find Khushi with an indecipherable expression on her face barely trying to seem normal. There was worry and nervousness and something else he couldn’t put a finger on.
“What the hell are we doing here? We were supposed to figure out something if I may remind you.”
“urrmm..Yeah. I.. I know. I am brainstorming”
She mumbled with food in her mouth quickly working her jaw overtime to gulp the remnants before picking the next in line.
He arched his brows and she shrugged before stuffing and gulping it again, looking everywhere but at him.
“Maybe we should do this other way around. Maybe I should dump you. I can go out with someone else. That would put the rumors to rest. ”, She stated before mumbling to herself, “Yeah, I could always ask Rohit form HR. He asked me out last month but I turned him down”
“NO. Won’t work”
His reply came fast. Faster for his liking. Faster than one could spell the word fast. Faster than the Usain-fasting-Bolt.
“Acha? Do you have any other idea then? Why don’t you just go and say no. That will sort all our issues.”, She narrowed her eyes and directed her gaze at him.
“WHY DON’T YOU SAY NO”
“I can’t. I say no and then again few days later sit in another rishte wali meeting? No thanks but I will pass. !”
He considered her reply thoughtfully and added after a moment’s hesitation,
“I think we should just let it be. Let them think we are dating. Give it sometime. A couple months maybe. Media will lost interest and we will quietly breakup after sometime”
She leveled her gaze at him and really looked at him as if considering this wild suggestion.
“It will keep both our families quiet for quite some time”
“So…we will be like what..fake dating??? and pretending to be a couple?”
“wow..you know I always wanted to act. Always got rejected in college theatre. This is going to be fun. The world will finally know what they are missing”
He just scratched his stubble in return and titled his head to look at the crazy creature standing in front of him when she added again,
“But you know we should totally not fall for each other during this ”
He gave it a moment’s thought and plastering a genuinely worried expression, added sarcastically
“Crap. I am so not gonna last a day”,
And she smiled sheepishly, “I know..Just saying”
Taking a fresh plate of pani puri from the vendor, she handed him one, before picking one herself.
“Come on, we have to raise a toast now. Its mandatory for our plan to succeed”
He shook his head as disbelief but eventually picked the waiting panipuri skeptically and they clinked it together before gulping it down to their new, freshly made, digging-your-own-grave kinda plan.
Hi, hope you will like reading this story too. please do let me in comments if you will like updates for this one. Might continue if ppl are interested. Waiting for your reviews. please show some love