The Winner Takes It All - II

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Aug 3, 2015

The Winner Takes It All - II (By Raani82) (Thanked: 107 times)

To all my dear readers, 

I'm back with another story. This is a figment of my own imagination. Hope you find it interesting.

But before starting the story I would like to tell you that, I've read very few stories in Med forum and hardly any in other forums like FB or IF. I appeal to all my readers that in case you feel this concept has already been taken or that I'm encroaching on someone else's story please don't hesitate to tell me so. 

ENJOY!!!!!



THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL

Chapter-1

Arnav ignored the insistent ringing of his phone for he found it too difficult to even open his eyes. The phone stopped. He sighed in peace and went back to sleep. After few minutes it started again. "Oh! Shut up, dammit....."he roared. The ringing stopped but he lost his sleep. His head was pounding inside and he tried to open his eyes.

The phone started ringing again. He was finally able to open his eyes. His hand stretched out and took the phone. His eyes immediately closed shut when the sharp light fell on his eyes. "Damn...". He kept the phone on his ear, "Who's it? And it better be damn good!" His voice slurred.

"Arnavji...." He heard the soft voice. 

He dropped the phone. He realised he was dreaming. He cursed himself. It was all a mistake, first going to that party, then getting terribly drunk, then the scuffle with the event organiser...he gingerly touched his jaw and felt the swollen soft spot and grimaced in pain. Last thing he remembered was Aman bringing him to his place. He clutched his pounding head, as if trying to prevent it from bursting.

His phone started ringing again. This time he saw the name of the caller blinking on his screen. He was not dreaming. It's been twenty five years since  he heard her voice. The phone was still ringing. He was wide awake now. He checked the time. It was 2am. He touched the answer button and kept it on his ear.

"Arnavji.... Are you there?" Came the soft shivering voice.

"Kushi?" Came his slurring voice.

"Arnavji.....you need to help me...." She said softly.

"What is it?" He asked, wondering what was it she expected from him after all these years. 

"I can't talk about it over the phone.... "

"Then how do you expect me to help you if you can't tell me..." He was irritated with himself, when all the familiar feelings started taking root as soon as he heard her voice , even after twenty five years.

"I want you to come here... So that we can talk." She said.

"And where is here?" He asked.

"Dharwad.." Came her voice. 

"What the…...? No...I'm not coming anywhere ...to Dhar... Wherever that is..." He hesitated for a few seconds, then said, "And I know you can manage whatever it is, yourself..." It was over. He was not going anywhere to see her. Not after all these years.

"I wouldn't have called you otherwise, Arnavji...." She cut him off.

"You tell me what is it...then I'll decide about helping you.." He said as if trying to put an end to the conversation.

"As I said I can't.... Talk about it over the phone..." She said, her voice shivering. Damn! Was she crying? He thought. No! He was not going to relent. 

"By the way what happened to that husband of yours? What is it that is so pressing that you have to ask me for help? ...why me after all these years..." He asked angrily.

He heard her sigh. "He is dead... Arnavji... Three years back.... You have to come here ...and..." He didn't hear her. He's dead? She's a widow...? all alone in that godforsaken place with my daughter? His anger grew two knots higher. Well if she could be stubborn...he could be doubly stubborn.

"Oh!!! So what is it you want?" He mellowed down.

"Arnavji...  there is a daily flight early in the morning from Mumbai to Dharwad....a taxi will be waiting for you....day after tomorrow..."

"Are you in some financial crisis? I can send you money immediately..." He said as if she had never interrupted him.

"I'm not in need of money...." She said.

"I know,.... Why would you? After all I've heard he is a big business man." He said his voice heavy with sarcasm.

"He was not that big a business man as you.... Anyway that's beside the point."

"Then what is it? Why can't you tell me right now what the problem is?"

"You would not understand..... We have to talk..." She was desperate.

"I'm not coming..... Listen Kushi... You go to sleep now...morning everything will be clear...I'm sure you'll search for the solution yourself...you'll not need my help..."

"Its you who is drunk now... Arnavji... I'm very clear about what I want..right now I want you here to help me....so take the flight to Mumbai tomorrow and take the early morning flight the next day....a taxi will be waiting for you.... I've already booked a suite in Park Sheraton...." She said sternly.

"What the....? How dare you? You think you'll pick up that phone and give me a sos call after twenty five years... That too in the middle of the night....and I'll come running....

You got me all wrong, Kushi Kumari Gupta Singh.....Sorry...Sinha

I'm not that chivalrous you know....now let me be..."

"It's not me who needs your help... Arnavji...it's our daughter...Aarushi."




Aug 4, 2015

The Winner Takes It All (By Raani82) (Thanked: 101 times)

Chapter -2

Arnav was looking at the countryside as the car was taking him to his hotel. It's been years since he had been through a countryside full of cane fields fenced with teak and supari trees. He needed to smoke. He asked the driver to stop the car and got out, wondering what would be their reaction when they meet. What would his daughter be like? He was thinking of Aman's reaction when he had told him about that. 

Early in the morning the previous day , first thing , he had called Aman and asked him to book his tickets. Aman had been surprised but thought it better not to question him. Who knows better than him to ask ASR  anything and face his wrath. But he was even more surprised when Arnav landed at his doorstep at break fast time. Aman's  wife had gone to the temple so Aman prepared his coffee and toast and sat with him at the table. 

"I need to go out for a week." He stated bluntly, still reeling under the effects of the hangover. "Okay....where to? To Dharwad?" Aman asked.

Arnav simply nodded. Aman waited for him to continue. When he did not speak anything , Aman asked, "Anything that I should know?" Arnav simply nodded and said, "Only that...."

"Arre...what a surprise! Arnavji....after a long time....." Walked in Aman's wife.

"Hi...Swati..I just came down here.. just to..." Arnav looked away embarrassed.

"ASR....what is it? Is there any problem?" He asked looking at him intensely. Swati stood still feeling the tension into the air.

"Kushi called me this morning...." Aman looked surprised. "Kushi bhabi called?

"I'm going to Dharwad to meet my daughter." He said hesitatingly. "Is this where she is?" Arnav nodded. Aman had kept track of her for some years and then she just faded away from their lives but never from their hearts.

"That's wonderful bhai..." Exclaimed Swati. "When was the last time you saw your daughter?" Looking at him expectantly.

"Twenty five years ago .... The day she was born...." Said Arnav and began to sip his coffee. The smile disappeared from Swati's face.

Aman gestured her to go inside and then clutched Arnav's hand and said, "That's wonderful ASR!" He said smiling. "Probably this is the best chance for you to bring them back." 

Arnav nodded, "You think so?" He asked doubtfully.

"I know so. And don't you go in front of her like this. You need to shave, have a haircut... Look decent..." His voice faded off looking at Arnav's stare.

"I'll take care." Is all that he said and turned to go.

"ASR! Convey my regards to bhabi and please stay calm." Said Aman his eyes glistening. Arnav nodded, patted his shoulder and said, "Sure." And walked off.

He had told Aman confidently that he'll take care but now he was nervous like hell. He caught hold of his trembling fingers. "Still how far to go?" He asked the driver. He had been travelling only for half an hour. "We have reached the city sir, just another fifteen minutes." Said the driver. He looked at his watch. She said she'll meet him at nine. It was already 8.45. He wanted to be there before her. See her coming. He didn't want her to scrutinize him. "Damn!" He wanted to smoke. He asked the already exasperated driver to stop the car again by the roadside. He calmed down after taking few drags of the nicotine.

It was already 9.05.by the time he reached the hotel lobby. Kushi called, apologising to him and asking him to wait. He sighed, relieved that he would be the first one to see her. The manager came running towards him, "Good morning Mr.Raizada! Madam just called me. Please , come with me , let me get you seated at the break fast table."

Arnav followed him to the table. "Would you like to have something sir?" He asked politely.

"No, thank you, I'll wait for Kushi." He said.

"Sir?" He looked confused but only for few seconds, "Oh yes madam will be here any minute now." He said and walked away, surprised that this stranger was on first name basis with madam.

A small smile crept on Arnav's lips. So she has carved an image among the crowd here. He saw the taxi driver was extremely polite when he talked about Kushi and now the manager. Not bad Kushi Kumari Gupta. Is it any wonder he thought, when she had the capacity to melt his stone heart. She is a master of art of treading her way into one's heart.

How will she look? Surely time would have changed her looks. She would definitely look old, greying at the temples. Would she have put on weight after delivery?

He looked at himself. An old grey shirt, and black pants with unpolished shoes. Unshaved, with unkempt hair. Did he look old? What would she think of me? He sat there throwing nervous glances at the entrance.

"Damn I should have listened to Aman..." And then he saw her.

She was like a whiff of fresh air that blew across. The manger immediately ran towards her. Two or three men who were in the lobby stiffened and went near her and greeted her politely. She walked in , confidence personified. Gone was the stumbling clumsy girl he had known. She smiled and greeted many of them politely as her eyes were searching for Arnav. 

Arnav kept starring at her. She casually combed her long flowing hair with her shapely well manicured nails. Small locks were still disturbing her, and his fingers were itching to tuck them behind her ears. She was wearing a light blue long top and a loose pant up to her ankles, and heeled  shoes. She looked every inch of a business woman. He looked at her with awe. He clutched the edge of the table. He just wanted to take her in his arms and kiss her senseless.

"Arnavji..... "He slowly got up, his eyes never leaving her. She didn't look a day older than the girl he  had known earlier. She smiled at him. A hint of sadness in that smile seeing him. "Thanks for coming. How are you?" She asked. 

He pulled the chair for her, drawing in her scent. "You gave me no other option Kushi... I'm fine . And I see you are doing very well....very well indeed." He didn't smile.

She nodded. Then looked at the waiter, who was waiting to take their order.

"Tea for me... And sandwich ... And. ...." She looked at him, "Black coffee isn't it?" She asked. Arnav simply nodded. "Anything else sir?" The waiter asked.

"Just coffee is fine." He said. 

"You still remember?" He asked. She simply kept looking at him……

"Marriage has done wonders to you..." he said.

"Yes ... I definitely won't complain." She said.

"Why did you marry this guy? Just to spite me?" He asked sarcastically.

She was not ready to fall into his trap, of saying something that would annoy him. She wanted his help no matter what. She kept quiet. He badly wanted to smoke. He got up to go out. She stopped him. 

"I need to smoke." He said grumpily. Kushi looked at him surprised. 

"You.... Smoke?" She asked him surprised. He nodded. "From when?" She asked.

"From the day you left me." He said, looking at his fingers. 

There was an embarrassing silence for few seconds. 

"Well..what about you? Are you married?" She asked. 

"To tell you the truth... As soon as we got our divorce...I shifted to London... Married Lavanya," he looked at her, "to prove to myself that you did not matter to me....then divorced her after six months only to prove to myself how wrong I was."

Kushi kept looking at him, tears slowly gathering in her eyes. 

"****...... I need to have a smoke." He got up. "Arnavji..please...". She said hastily looking around. A waiter brought their tea and coffee  and sandwich.

"Arnavji  first have your coffee....please..."she said before he could refuse. He kept looking at her quietly mixing the cream and sugar and relishing the tea. He poured the black coffee for himself. They were sitting quietly for few minutes, both transported to another day when they had tea and coffee together for the first time in their life.

He remembered how she sat there muttering, "We have to mix milk, sugar and tea...yet they charge so much....at least they have given a biscoth free..."

Arnav ran a nervous hand through his hair. "Well, our daughter..." He started,

"Aarushi..."she interrupted.

"Haan Aarushi...does she know I'm ...her father?" He asked drinking the coffee.

"No.. She thinks Karan is her father." Kushi said quietly. Inexplicable feelings coursed through him.

"Well are you going to tell me.... Why you made me come here all the way from Delhi?" Suddenly irritated, angered by the fact that he had never been a part of their life ,so what was he doing there now anyway?

Kushi looked at him and said hesitatingly, "Aarushi was taken to the police station.....

For an enquiry ...for an attempted murder."



Aug 5, 2015

The Winner Takes It All (By Raani82) (Thanked: 104 times)

Chapter-3


Kushi looked at him. He was slowly placing the cup down, wiped his lips and sat there simply starring at his fingers. Three days back she sat in her house thinking where to turn for support where to turn for help. And at the end of the day the only face that came in front of her was Arnav's. She debated within whether to call him, not after she had turned away from him in spite of his pleading her not to go. What will she tell Aarushi if she asked her about him. She simply couldn't lie to her about him once they are face to face. Would she accept him, when all along she believed Karan to be her father. Then what about Kushal, what will she tell him. "Hey Devi Mayya ...Raksha Karna..." She closed her eyes and again Arnav's face stood before her eyes. She had decided to call him. Whatever kind of person he might be to the world she knew him too well ,he would never leave his loved ones in a lurch. He would come running she knew. He loved her so much she knew. She squeezed her eyes shut as if trying to erase away the adamant memories. Tears poured down her cheeks. But life had been kind to her. She had met Karan Sinha.... One of the finest men who ever lived on Earth. And she had been lucky enough to have met him.

The moment she heard Arnav's voice the other day over the phone, her heart lurched. Her breath caught in her throat. She mustered all the courage she needed, and forced herself to concentrate on the important matter at hand. She knew he was drunk and she also felt his pain when hearing his voice. But she resolved herself not to be detracted. Aarushi was the priority. As expected he arrived and what a contrast to the man she had known before. It was obvious he didn't take care of himself and cared less of what others thought of him. Now and then she did read about  ARD and that it was doing exceptionally well. She was shocked to see the picture he created in front of her in complete contrast to what she had expected. Now she started having her doubts. Has she made the mistake of depending on him? She was filled with self doubt.



"Kushi...." She jerked awake when she heard his loud voice. "Didn't you hear me.. I said.." 

"Haan..." She said confused.

"I said tell me what happened …..from the beginning." He said seriously.

She nodded and started, "Her friend ....Rishab Mittal was shot and he is critically wounded and is in the hospital fighting for his life."

"So... Why should the police doubt her involvement?" Arnav asked.

"Because she was with him when this happened."

"Where did this happen?" 

"We have an apartment in the main city... It was there.." She said.

"Is she in a relationship..or.."

"No.."Kushi said quickly. " Nothing like that. In fact, that guy is married." 

"So what if he is married... it doesn't mean.. What was she doing there anyway alone with him?" Grunted Arnav.

"Arnavji...I know my girl... she says they were only busy working on a project which is nearing completion and has to be presented in ten days time." Said Kushi irritated.

"How do you know she is not lying?" 

"I trust her...implicitly!" Kushi starred back.

"What actually happened?"

"A guy named Sandeep Rai  had been stalking her... She says that night that guy 

entered the bathroom when she was taking her bath and when she started screaming... Rishab came running and the guy shot him twice point blank and escaped. But there is no evidence to corroborate her story...Rishab is still unconscious..."she said.

"Who is this guy, does she know him?" Arnav asked.

"Look Arnavji, We have to go to the station.... We'll talk there. Why don't you freshen up...I'll pick up Kushal and on the way I'll pick you up.."

"Who the hell is he?" the asked.

"My son.." She said. His cup clattered loudly spilling coffee all over his shirt.

"Damn..I need my fag now..." He muttered. 

"Arnavji..." Kushi took a tissue and started wiping his shirt. He caught her hand. "Stop.."he said. So soft, so smooth, so tender... He wanted to feel her arms around him... He wanted to feel her...he closed his eyes.

"I think your bag will already be in your room..." 

He starred at her, "What bag? There is no bag." He said bluntly."I didn't bring any bag, I've no intention of staying here."

"Then you better change your mind, you freshen up and be ready... We'll go to the station then if there is time we'll go shopping." She said unrelenting.

"What the....? From when did you start taking decisions for me?" He stood there, eyes narrowed, fists clenched ready to flare-up any second.

"From this very moment." Kushi said coolly , "Meet you in an hour." She turned to go. He stood there simply starring at her. He was mighty pissed off when he heard about her son. She had definitely moved on in life whereas he was stuck at where she had left him. The most irritating thing was she knew he was pissed off and he knew she knew. 

She turned to look at him after taking few steps, "And Arnavji.... It would be nice   if you take a little care to look  a bit more decent..... After all you are going to meet your daughter." She said smiling and walked away. On her way she said something to the manager and went out. 

The manager came near him handed over the card and said, "Room 508 sir."

Arnav grabbed the keys from him and walked off in a huff.

Kushi went and sat inside the car and let the tears roll down her face. She hated to see him like that, all alone ,forlorn, lost. But she had taken a decision twenty five years ago and she stood by it. She started the car and drove towards her home.

For  the first two years she was in contact with Aman, who had helped her shift to Mumbai. He had fixed an apartment for her, a maid to take care of Aarushi when she went to work in an office which just paid her enough. She didn't want more she didn't want less.

 He updated on the happenings in RM and in Gupta house. After she left,

Akash  hardly talked to Arnav, only business matters. NK cut himself off from his acquaintance and anything..... if at all there was to be communicated, was only through Akash or Ashwin. Ashwin tried his maximum best to find out her whereabouts, but  Aman did not divulge anything. Arnav had kept his promise. 

He had left RM and went and lived like a recluse in his mother's house surrounded by the trees and garden. He hardly went to office as he started working from there. He took up his old passion-  designing. Soon his designs became a rage in the city. Akash and NK and mama managed the business end of it, not to forget the ever loyal Aman.

Anjali was the only support system for Arnav, and Neha was the most affected by it all. 

She reached home to her anxious son. He came running to her. "Amma.... What will happen to di? Will they arrest her?" He asked concerned.

"I don't know Kush.... I really don't know." She hugged him. 

"If I had stayed back...this would never have happened....it's all my fault..." He said worried.

"Don't blame yourself Kush....it is not your fault.... And what if something had happened to you...devi mayya hai na.... She will take care of everything. Did you eat something? Then let' s go." She said when she saw him nodding.

Arnav was waiting in the lobby, when she saw him. She smiled. He had shaved and gelled his hair. Some greyish hair peeping out here and there.

"What?" He asked when he saw her starring at him. "You look great!" She said.

He smiled. "I look dull in comparison to you, old perhaps."

She nodded in negative. They had come near the car by then.

Arnav saw a young man standing near the car. "Arnavji...meet Kushal...Kush this is Mr. Raizada."

"Hello Sir." Kushal extended his hand politely.

Arnav hesitated then grumbled, "Hi.."

"Kush you drive beta, I'll sit behind." Kushi said handing over the keys.

Arnav just sat looking outside throughout their short trip to the police station. He looks different he thought. "He looks more like his father than his mother." Said Kushi as if reading his thoughts.

He turned and starred at her then simply nodded and turned back to look outside.

Once they reached the station, both of them got down while Kush went to park the car.

Kushi ran inside, towards the interrogation room. Arnav followed her tense with unease filling him, not knowing how he was going to face the situation inside.

There he saw her, a tall slim girl, in a jeans and t- shirt, hair tied up in a  pony tail , eyes wide with fear, hands across her chest, sitting all alone in that room starring straight at the wall in front of her.

"Aashi..." Called Kushi as she rushed towards her. Aarushi turned to look at her mother and the stranger behind her.

One look at his daughter and in that second Arnav decided, come what may, he would give his life to protect his child.



Thankyou all for your support and love and for dropping few words and those who press the thank you button.

 Ha ha ha..... I made you all sit up and take notice.

However much we all like to live a fairytale life....with happily ever after.....it is not always a bed of roses....some are less fortunate than others

So many questions?????? Keep asking...keep reading....you'll get all your answers.

God bless! Love you all.

Rani

Aug 6, 2015

The Winner Takes It All (By Raani82) (Thanked: 83 times)

Chapter- 4

Suraj Hegde, Sub-inspector of police, Dharwad, was sitting in the adjoining room starring at the monitor. The small camera that was placed above the photo frame of the leader was relaying  the picture from the other room.. They had brought Aarushi around 8.30 in the morning and made her wait. Its been more than two hours. He could see she was losing her patience. "Frustrate them, irritate them, let them lose their cool. But you should remain calm and look for ways to make them slip ." Had been his mentor's advise .

Dharwad was a sleepy town, more of a medium sized city, with hardly any big time crimes around. He was happy  and content to be posted near his home town and occasionally went to his home to assist his father in agricultural activities.

For the past three days the city had been abuzz with all sort of stories and theories going around, thanks to the local media, about the shooting of a techie... In a high rise premium township.

He looked at the monitor again. His nerve ends tickled, he rubbed his hands as the hair roots stood up in a bristle. She was so beautiful and sophisticate with an air of innocence around her. Her keen chocolate brown eyes oozed with intelligence. 

But is she really that innocent or is she pretending to be? All the indications point in one directions towards her. If she is lying then she is a damn good actor. He couldn't understand himself why he so wanted to prove himself wrong.

He remembered the night when he received a panic stricken call from the apartment's security, informing him about the shooting. He had called for an ambulance and rushed there around midnight along with two women officers. The man lay outside the bathroom door, legs all askew, blood oozing from the two gaping holes from his bare chest as he lay there in his boxers. The station photographer was taking photos before the stretcher arrived and he was rushed to the hospital. She was still sitting unmoved on the edge of the bathtub, unmindful of the picture she was creating in front of him. Her hair was wet plastered to her head, water dripping all around her and on her. She was just wearing a bathrobe, hastily tied in the middle, which lay quite open on the top, giving him an ample view of her cleavage and just about covered her thighs below. Water droplets dripping down her milky white skin of her long smooth legs. He knew she was naked underneath. God she was so very beautiful!

With lot of difficulty he turned away from her and went out, and saw  the security  and asked him "You were the one who called?"

"Yes sir! This sir called me..I rushed here and found that man and immediately dialled 100 sir" he said. He turned towards the two ladies , her neighbours perhaps huddled together in a corner with their worried husbands waiting outside. 

"You were the first ones to come here?" He asked.

"Sir, I heard her screaming.... First I couldn't understand from where the noise came, then I switched off the TV and understood it came from here..."

"How did you know it was from here?" Suraj asked.

"I live in the adjoining flat, the bathrooms are separated by a single wall... I heard..."she said. He nodded, asking her to continue.

I rushed in ...found her friend lying there and she was screaming from inside....I rushed out and called her.."she pointed to the other lady, 

"I came in with my husband, he called the security, I went inside the bathroom,asked her to wear the robe and to come outside.... She wore the robe but refused to come out..."

"Approximately.. What time did all this happen?" He asked.

"Sir half an hour before....say around 11.30." Said the man.

He looked at the security guard again, "I want to meet all the guards on duty today."

He turned to the ladies, "You may go now."

He went back to the bathroom and looked at her. She was still in a shock starring at her feet. "May I ask you some questions?" He asked her.

"Your name?"

"Aarushi Sinha."

"Your father's name?" He asked eyes widening in realisation.

"Karan Sinha." The whole of Dharwad knows Mr. Sinha, owner of a mall and a chain of  KS Supermarkets. A philanthropist, very popular and a good soul whose loss was felt deeply by the public.

"Do you know the man who was shot?"

"My colleague, Rishab Mittal."

"Whose apartment is this?"

"Ours..my father's." She answered.

"And what was Mr.Mittal doing here?" He asked.  His eyes narrowed in anger.

She raised her head and looked at him for the first time, probably understanding the tone of his voice and at what he was insinuating.

"We are a team working on a project for our company." She said sharply, irritated by his look and tone. Suddenly there was a commotion outside and she heard a voice.

"Amma..." She shouted and rushed outside pushing him aside.



He was looking at the monitor again, she was sitting there still clutching her mother's

hand. She was looking nervous, agitated. Is she hiding something?



Their lawyer had joined them. It was time to face them he thought.

He went through the other door and entered the interrogation room. "Sorry , Ms.Sinha to have kept you waiting...good morning madam, hello Mr. Rao....you are here too."

"I'm representing Ms.Sinha here. I want to be present when you are interrogating her."he said.

"It's a routine interrogation sir, as she is the only witness....and the gun has only her fingerprints on it." He said smirking.

"That's because I pulled the gun away from him when he was pointing it at me" she said sharply. "I've told this umpteen times before. You have the right to keep quiet if you wish to...Ms.Sinha."

Good that is what he wanted. To rile her. He smiled.

"Ms. Sinha why don't you start from the beginning....for the benefit of your lawyer here  meanwhile I can clear some of my doubts as well." He said looking at her intently.

Aarushi knew he wouldn't believe one word of what she was going to say and he hated him for it.

Kushi patted her shoulder reassuringly. She sighed and began once again.



Rishab, Sandeep and I were working for Infotech solutions for the past three years. Last year they asked us to participate as a team for a competition conducted by a Mumbai based Epic Medic Systems. We developed a software and we presented it. We won the first prize. The Mumbai company asked us to develop the code... Like give it a full form... We were so excited it was a career break through for us and our

company depended so much on us. We started working really hard and we are nearing completion. Next month is the presentation and I'm going to present it and Rishab is working on the details."

"What about the other guy?" Suraj asked.

"He was interested in  a girl , another colleague of mine, Riya Mujamdar . He began to sort  of trouble her for getting her attention. My friend was scared of his weird behaviour and she was least interested in him. I encouraged her to talk face to face with him, but she was too timid and scared, she quit her job. He turned his attention on me. First I thought, he was doing it to irritate me because I interfered in his personal matters, but soon I found out that he was taking it to another level."

"Like?"

"He began to check my mails, search my things in my draw, enter my cabin when I'm not there touch my personal things..."

"Sometimes I found my mailbox open that is all my mails read...that which I had not read..... I used to keep a deodorant, perfume and some.. sanitary napkins in my desk draw. When I was out for lunch or after meetings when I entered my cabin I smelt my own perfume as if somebody had used it.... One day I even found my ..my..."  She looked at her mother worried and embarrassed, Kushi just squeezed her hand, encouraging her to continue, "Napkin packet open and napkins lying scattered in the draw. He began to call me at odd hours, telling me about his love for me. I felt enough was enough and complained to my superiors. They made enquiries and fired him. He began to stalk me. He began to scare me by following me and keeping track of my movements."

"How did you know he was following you? Did you see him?" Suraj asked.

"No .... he would send texts asking me if I enjoyed my movie with my friends.... or the dinner in that particular restaurant with my family...."

"Do you have those on your phone now?" He asked.

She nodded "I changed my number thrice but somehow he got my numbers. Of late they began to get vulgar and unreadable I  deleted them."

"Does your mother know about him?"

"She knew that a guy was troubling me in office and that he had been fired. I didn't tell her, he was stalking me, 'cause I didn't want her worried, and moreover those text messages were something that a girl cannot show her mother."

"What were in them?"

"He explained in detail how I looked, how my dress fitted me, what he wanted to do with me...touch me.." She looked down, unable to look at anybody. Arnav's fist clenched, he was about to turn and walk out, his eye caught Kushi's pleading ones, asking him to stay.

"Tell us what happened that night."

Aarushi looked at the policeman, with a sinking feeling that he didn't believe a word she had told him. "I don't care.. I don't care what the hell he thinks about me." She said to herself and began to narrate.

Aug 7, 2015

The Winner Takes It All (By Raani82) (Thanked: 86 times)

Chapter-5

Aarushi starred at Suraj's keen, suspicious eyes and said, "That night, we were in the last stages of finishing the presentation part of our project. We were so very involved we forgot the time. It was past dinner time. Rishab usually leaves home in time for dinner. So I suggested we finish our dinner, give the final touches to the presentation and then he leave for home. So I went to prepare the dinner."

"Did you prepare?" Suraj's asked. 

"Kush and I had pav bhajji the previous day, leftover bhajji was in the fridge. I went to heat the pav." She said.

Suraj had purposely put across the question for he had seen a packet of pav lying 

on the cook top. Clever indeed!

"Rishab suggested we go for a swim first, to let the steam out of our system, then have dinner."

"He carried his swimming costume with him?" Came Suraj's question with a smirk.

"Obviously he borrowed Kushal's!"came her stinging reply.

"But I checked with the security, he doesn't remember seeing Rishab, though the entry has been signed." Asked Suraj, his arms across his chest. For the first time she noticed his wide chest,  bulging sinews and his strong arms, then looked up to see his dark eyes full of suspicion. She was hurt. He saw her eyes and felt a hand squeeze his heart to see her hurt. He looked down immediately as if to to check the reports in front of him.

She sighed, "I don't normally use the changing rooms there. I washed and changed, wore a T-shirt and shorts over my swimsuit. When the security came to get my sign in the register, Rishab was inside,changing, I wrote his name in the guest column. 

We swam for nearly an hour....."

"Nobody saw you?" Asked suraj.

She nodded. "It was pretty late...we went back...each of us took a bathroom when we came back."

"Did you leave the door open?"

"No The keys were with me. I remember locking it, before going inside."

"I was standing under the shower, when the door opened.... And he quickIy drew the curtain....I was too shocked..he was pointing the gun at me....I tried to cover myself with my hands..." Her voice came out in a whisper. He asked me to stop the water. I did. Then..." She stopped, her eyes tearing up, wide with fear, "he removed my hands and traced the gun over my body...." She closed her eyes, her body was shivering. Kushi hugged her tight....  rubbing her back. Kushal turned away closing his eyes.

Arnav, stood there his eyes furious, fist clenched. 

"Where was he standing?" Suraj asked.

"He was outside the bathtub and I was inside it."

"Then what happened?"

"I heard Rishab opening his bathroom door, I saw my bathroom door open, I grabbed the gun and threw it down and started screaming, hoping Rishab would come to help.

By the time he could come, Sandeep, picked up the gun and just as Rishab entered, fired two shots at him. I never stopped screaming, he dropped the gun and ran away."

"How did he enter your apartment in the first place?"

"I don't know."

"How many keys are there ?"

"Two,one is with me, the other is with Kush." She said. 

"I have mine." Kush fished out the keys from his pockets.

"How do you think he could have got the keys?"

"I don't know."

"Do you think he had come to kill Rishab?"

She nodded, "No....he came there to kill me..... I feel guilty as hell... That my friend is lying wounded because of me." She sobbed.

Suraj looked at the lawyer and said, " We are still making enquiries.... And waiting for reports... Searching for some eye witnesses. Meanwhile we've been to the office for  photographs of Sandeep.... " The  lawyer nodded and shook hands, then looked at Kushi and gestured her that it was time to leave. 

"I request you inspector that you give me prior information whenever you bring my client here." "Sure...." said Suraj.

Everybody trooped out. Arnav asked Kushi to proceed and turned back to the room.

He went and stood in front of the young policeman and asked, "You don't believe her one bit, do you?" 

"God how I wish I could, I really wish I could..." Suraj thought.

"Does that really matter...Mr...?

 Raizada."said Arnav.

"And you are?" Her asked.

"Acquainted with their family years ago." He said.

"Oh! Let's pray Mr.Mittal  regains conscious soon."

"What are her chances of not being implicated in this crime?" he asked.

"What are my chances of marrying Katrina Kaif? One in a  million, right?" He asked keeping his face serious.

Arnav burst out laughing. He wondered when was the last time he had enjoyed a joke.

He liked the guy, keen, observant, not swayed by emotions, a no nonsense guy he thought still smiling.

"Have a good day...Mr.Raizada..." He said, taking his cap and moving towards the door. "Where to?" Asked Arnav, quietly.

Suraj turned, "I have a job to do, sir." He said smiling. Arnav stood looking at him and said, "I don't want to interfere with your work.....but having nothing better to do here, I could accompany you and... you know an outsider's observation could be of relevance...or make you think from a different angle."

Suraj looked at him for one long moment, instinct told him to trust this man, a cop's instinct perhaps? "Okay.... Mr.Raizada.... Let's go!" He said and walked ahead.



Kushi was standing along with her children waiting for Arnav . "Amma come let's go, who are we waiting for?" Asked Aarushi.

"Let Arnavji also come, I have to go to the mall as well." Said Kushi, looking towards the entrance. "There he is!"

"Who is he?"she asked looking at the stranger. Kushal looked at his mother curiously.

"Our well wisher! " she said simply.

"I've never seen him before ?"

"That's because he's never been here before."

Arnav walked towards them. " Aarushi this is Arnavji! " her voice had a nervous tremor, as she was introducing her to her father for the first time. 

"Hello.."Aarushi hesitated, extending her hand wondering what to call him, uncle? Sir? 

"Hello Aarushi...don't worry, everything will be taken care of." He said smiling, quickly taking her hand, and giving a reassuring squeeze. He cut her in between not wanting to hear her call him uncle....definitely not!

"Thanks... " again the hesitation, and again Arnav interrupted, 

"Kushi you carry on, I'm going with the inspector. "

"Where to?" Kushi asked surprised.

"Where ever he's going to." Arnav shrugged.

"Then when you are finished, give me a call, we'll meet at the mall." She said, half expecting him to protest. To her surprise, Arnav nodded meekly and walked away towards the police van.

Aarushi stood looking curiously at the man walking away. He looked vaguely familiar. She had never heard anyone other than her dad call her mom by her name. Surprising, that he sounded so casual about it and why is her ever confident mom, nervous around him?







Aug 9, 2015

The Winner Takes It All (By Raani82) (Thanked: 88 times)

Chapter-6

Arnav and Suraj entered the hospital and went straight to the ICU. Rishab's wife , a beautiful woman in her late twenties, was sitting outside. "Mrs. Mittal, any improvement this morning? What did the doctors say?" he asked the worried woman.

"That's the problem, sir, they don't say anything, just keep walking in and out...." She started. 

"The doctor is not in yet meanwhile I need to ask you few questions, why don't we go to the canteen, and talk over a cup of coffee?" he asked her sweetly.

She readily started walking as if she was waiting for someone to invite her. They ordered for coffee and vada pav and waited for it to arrive. 

" Madam.." "Please call me Tanya !"

"Tanyaji....are you also working in the same office?"

"No.... I'm working for the BSNL, that's how I met Rishi....when he came to pay the bills."

"And for how long have you been married?"

"Two months back we celebrated our first anniversary." She said proudly. 

Her phone rang, she said, "Excuse me...." And took the call. "Yeah..yeah...I'll send it to you immediately." She cut the call. With the coffee cup in one hand and placing the phone on the table she swiped the 4 digit code number on her iphone-6 and started to search for a contact number, found it and forwarded it to the person she just talked to. Then she looked up at Suraj, as if she was ready for him to continue.

"What about his relationship with his colleagues..."she looked at him, "I mean is he aloof or friendly..?"

"I know what you are getting at sir. Why don't you ask me directly what he was doing there late in the night? I didn't like it one bit...I even objected to him going there .....It is that **** who very cleverly planned to lure him away from me.." she said with eyes full of venom.

"What the.....? " Arnav got up angrily. Suraj pulled him back and said, "sir, your  coffee!" Ignoring his stare.

"What do you mean.…? Weren't they working on a project together? " he asked innocently.

"I know, I know.... but that woman couldn't take it that Rishi, preferred me to her....she was waiting for an opportunity to get even with him.." then she leaned closer to him and whispered, "I wouldn't put it past her, if she had all this planned."

"What do you mean, Rishi preferred you.."

"Well the whole office knew both had an affair and then Rishi broke up with her and married me instead....she still couldn't get over it I guess...that ****..." She said with so much hate in her voice.

"What about Riya and Sandeep?"

"We were all very good friends. Used to go out together... for trips and movies, dinner...poor Riya still searching for a job... All because of her only"

"She couldn't accept.. Sandhu also liked another girl instead of her...simply concocted stories and sent them out."she said shaking her head.

"What kind of a man is Sandeep?"

"A very nice person, very intelligent, very active, very polite... and I've been following the news as well. It's all ****...what she is telling...don't believe her....Sandhu is not here at all. He is in Bombay."

"How do you know he is in Mumbai? Do you stay in contact?" asked Arnav. "No..no.."Tanya said quickly and then gave him a look to suggest why he was interfering in all this.

"He's with me.." Said Suraj, "How do you know?"

"Before leaving he told me so.." she said a little flustered.

"When was that?"he asked.

"Six months back."

"Do you still stay in touch with Riya?"

"We do talk occasionally."she said.

"Can we..."he stopped when he saw a constable coming towards them.

"Sir.." he saluted, "The doctor wants to talk to you."

Tanya sprang up from the chair, pushing it down, and cried out high pitched, "The doctor is here? When did he come? Rishi???? What ...Why is he calling you?  What happened to him? Hey bhagwan!!!!" she ran out of the canteen not listening to a word of what Suraj was trying to say.

Both the men looked at each other and walked quickly towards the ICU, Arnav was tensed and nervous Suraj with lot of untold unease. The nurse guided them to the doctor's room. Both heaved a huge sigh of relief when they saw Tanya's smiling face.

"Good morning, inspector! "said the doctor. "Not yet!" Suraj just said not bothering to correct the doctor, "looks like good news..."he asked looking at Tanya.

"The doctor says his heart beat is stable.." said Tanya, excited.

"To put it in a simple way..yes..." Said the doctor. "At present he is out of danger. But  still one more complicated surgery is there...till then we can't say anything for sure." They wished the doctor and Tanya and came out. Immediately, Arnav's hand went in search of a cigarette. Suraj waited for him to finish. "Ready?"he asked. Arnav nodded and got inside the car. "Can't you check her phone records?"asked Arnav.

"Whose?"

"Aarushi's.. Tanya's.."

"On what basis? I don't have the authority to probe into other's personal records. I need a court order....for that I need evidence against the guy, or these women....or I should be a top cop..." He said smiling. 

Arnav remembered how easy it was years back for uncle Kohli.

"I need to go to the commissioner's office...where shall I drop you?"he asked.

"Kushi said some mall..."

"Oh KS Mall..okay."

"But I've made your job a little easier." Arnav quipped.

"Easier?"

Arnav handed him Tanya's phone. Suraj looked at him surprised. "You picked her phone?" he asked.

"No..I didn't rob it..if that's what you mean...but I did pick it up from the table...where she had left it....before hurrying off to meet the doctor."he said winking at him.

Suraj stopped the car on the side of the road, and took the phone from him. 

He swiped it....the screen displayed the number pad. "It is locked..."he said frustrated.

"Try 1238...." Arnav said smiling. 

Suraj swiped the numbers without thinking, and the screen opened to a smiling couple's faces.

"How did you know?" Ha asked gaping at him.

"I saw her swiping, the green line blinked a T...for Tanya....people are so obvious when it comes to number code."he said with a smirk.

Suraj shook his head smiling, he began to admire the guy. He checked the call log. Riya had called the previous day. He started dialling Riya's number. She didn't answer. Then he called Sandeep's number with the same result. He pocketed the phone, dropped Arnav at the mall and proceeded on his way.

Kushi was in a restaurant. She had already ordered and was waiting for him.

Arnav joined her. "Where did you go?" She asked. 

"To the hospital, the guy is stable now....but the doctors are not assuring anything." He said. "We talked to his wife, she's blaming Aarushi for everything."

"Arnavji.... How bad is it?"she asked nervously.

"It does look bad, Kushi."

"What is going to happen to our girl...Arnavji?Will they arrest her?"she asked tearfully.

Arnav took her hand in his, "Look Kushi, as long as I'm alive, I'll not let anything happen to you or my daughter..and Kushal as well.."he said rubbing her hand with his other.

"Trust me !" He said with all sincerity. She smiled. "I wouldn't have called you otherwise, I know you'll take care of everything." she said wiping her eyes. The air was electric. And both were trying hard to act normal.

"Did you have your medicines?"she asked concerned. He took them from his pant pocket and gulped it down. "Where are the kids?" He asked. "Kushal has gone back to the hostel. His college reopens tomorrow. Aarushi is with her friends, in their home. I talked to her just now."

He looked at her. They were behaving like normal couples, as if nothing had happened between them. She became conscious of his stare and his touch, she slowly withdrew her hand.

The food arrived. "How is everybody at home?"she asked,tentatively. She had left it long back and definitely things would have changed. And she braced herself for the worst.

"Nani passed away two years after you left." He said, looking at her. She looked at him with tear filled eyes. "I got the news that you'd married I went home drunk, nani  was there sitting worried. She had stopped talking to me. In my drunken stupor I blurted out that you have left me for good. I told her we were divorced...and you've married another man....it came as a shock to her...you see she didn't know we were divorced. She always hoped you'd come back. She died in her sleep that night."

"All the kids have grown up....they all love me....and I see my baby in each one of them. Ashwin is in Lucknow... Chacha is no more....so is daadi." he said wiping his lips with the tissue.

"Have your food, Kushi....time goes on...it waits for nobody...they lived their lives to the full...." He shrugged. She simply nodded.

After lunch they began their shopping. Nothing was to his satisfaction. Finally he selected two t-shirts and went to the trial room to try them. 

"Kushi..." he called out. The trial rooms were at the back of the shop and there were hardly anybody in them. She found him standing there wearing a tight shirt which made him look ten years young. She smiled, "Wait here let me bring the next size." She came with two more shirts and stopped dead in her tracks when she saw him standing bare chested. Her heart began thudding, looking at his lean body. Years have not had any effect on him it seemed. He was still lean, muscular without an ounce of fat.

"It doesn't look all that good Kushi." He said still dissatisfied.

"I brought your favourite colour Arnavji... Black and grey...and it is not that bad... In fact it looks good...there you go.."she adjusted the collar, and rolled up the sleeves as he normally does. She turned to look at the mirror, when he turned her and pulled her to him one hand going around her waist and one latching the door. 

"You remember my medicines, my favourite colour.... Then you must remember how much I loved doing this as well.."he bent down and began to kiss her.















Aug 11, 2015

The Winner Takes It All (By Raani82) (Thanked: 66 times)

Chapter-7

Arnav was relishing the sweet taste of her lips. He had been wanting to do this ever since he had laid his eyes on her. She was so sweet, so soft as ever. Nothing had changed and it was as if time had stood still for them. His hands were caressing and lips were controlling her. Kushi was melting, her body screaming for more but her good sense prevailed. She gathered the last ounce of strength that was still left in her body and pushed him away from her, at the same time, turning quickly unlatched the door and walked out, not even bothering to look at him. She fished out the card, and asked the cashier to make out a bill for all that he had purchased. The assistant, folded them neatly , bagged them and gave them to Kushi. Arnav stood a meek spectator. He felt like a cad to have given way to his emotions. He then smiled, thinking "it was not bad.....not bad at all.....for now I know you have not forgotten me either." She hardly looked at him or spoke to him. He ran behind her, "Kushi...let me.....' He only got a stare from her that made him follow her quietly. They reached their car in the car park. She yanked open the car door, and threw the bags on the back seat and sat down, in the driver's seat, waiting for him to get seated and put his seat belt on. He smiled at her, at their reversal of roles. She turned away and began to drive. It was quite dark outside , he looked at his watch. It was nearly seven thirty. She refused to even acknowledge his presence.

As always, her silence was irritating him to no end.

"To what do I owe this silent punishment ?" He asked, losing his patience.

"You know very well...why?" she muttered. "Don't you ever....ever do this again..."

"In front of the kids...? Of course I know..." He said sweetly.

"Arnavji!!!!!!!" her voice raised in protest.

"Oh...come on Kushi....stop lying to yourself... You wanted..."

"Stop it...." she screamed not allowing him to finish. There was silence for few minutes, then she said, "Already things are going way out of control... I don't want you to add to my troubles, Arnavji." Softly.

He kept quiet. "Sometimes I wonder," she said with a sigh, "if I made a mistake calling you here."

"Well mistake or no mistake, sweetheart, I've come here to stay, and I'm not leaving this place till I clear this mess and till I know my baby is safe from that maniac." He said in a tone that he meant business. She stopped in front of his hotel. He collected his bags, "Good night!"  he said. She was about to move, when he stopped, "Kushi..."

He turned and called, Kushi rolled down her window glass, he came near her, he bent down, his face close to hers. She was trying very hard to sit straight faced. 

"Kushi...I forgot....I think it is only justified that I should say sorry and thank you." he smiled. Hearing after a long time their very own personal overused cliché, brought a smile to her lips, then looked at him confused.

"Sorry... for startling you ....in there..." he said huskily tilting his head, "and thank you ...Kushi.." he said looking at her lips and got what he just yearned for. Her jaws dropped , mouth open, eyes wide..... a one in a million look! She raised the window, he jerked back smiling, she zoomed away.

"Is that Mrs. Kushi Sinha?" Asked a man coming near him.

Arnav looked at him, eyes narrowed. "Just missed....I just wanted to tell her how I relish her sweets. Do you know her? Does she come here often?" he asked.

"She just came to drop me." Arnav shrugged.

The stranger continued, "Have you tasted, the sweets from her shop? Very tasty and very fresh.....such unique taste..you'll never get it anywhere... I bet."

They were walking towards the lobby. He smiled. "Who better than me will know?" He thought . "I haven't tasted them. You see I'm a diabetic."

"Its all the more reason why you should taste them, for she specializes in sugar-free sweets. You must try them." He said and walked away, wishing him good night. Arnav stood there looking at him go, eyes glistening. His hand went immediately in search of a cigarette.



Finally Kushi managed to calm down her thudding heart. She was waiting at the signal. How did she ever think she would be able to forget that look and that voice? Though she was the one who started 'the sorry and thank you' phrase it was Arnav who ended up using it frequently. Every time to pacify her he would stand in front of her with the lost puppy look, fingers clutching his ears. "Sorry Kushi...I'll take care next time that this doesn't happen... and thank you for forgiving me!" He would say tongue in cheek, even before she could utter any word. She would burst out laughing, and he would end up satisfying her in bed. All the feelings she thought she had forgotten came thudding back to her. After all these years he still held the power to make her gasp for breath. "Damn you Arnav Singh Raizada!" she hit the steering wheel, then gasped and closed her mouth with her hands, realising what she had just uttered. "Raksha karna...devi mayya...raksha karna!" Hearing the cars behind honk she quickly changed the gears and drove towards her home.



Aarushi reached her home, after her mother had asked her to proceed to home as she would reach there in twenty minutes. She parked her car and got out and looked around in shock. Her house was in total darkness. Their gardener usually switched on the garden lights before leaving. She looked around and saw the lights in their neighbour's house. She climbed the porch and  flashed her phone light on the switches. She was surprised. They were all on. "At least the invertor must be on." She thought as she fished out the keys from her pocket. She went near the door and stood stock still. The door was open. She slowly opened it and called out, "Amma..." She walked in, with the help of the light from her phone. "Amma.." she called out again, fear gripping her, that something has happened to her mother. She stumbled and fell down her phone fell from her hand and skidded away from her. Before the lights completely faded she saw that she had stumbled on the rocking chair that was kept on the way to the room. 

That was her dad's favourite chair, always placed near the wall, facing the door to the patio. Her dad used to love the slight scent that came along with the breeze from the garden outside. Mamma never allowed it to be moved from there. It has been moved. Very slightly. It's bottom curved stump just jutting out in the pathway. With the lights on nobody would have noticed it. But who would have moved it.



He is here. She knew it. She could feel it in the air. Her hair at the base of her neck stood up.



"Amma..."she called again. Stretching her arms in front of her, she walked inside the guest bedroom and walked towards the table,opened one of it's draws and searched for candles, matchbox, torch light. Nothing was there. They were not in their original place. They had never needed to use them, as far as she could remember. She searched in the other draws as well it was not there. She took out the big friskar scissors her mother had kept. She walked out and went upstairs to her mother's room. Her eyes had got adjusted to the darkness, and she was able to manage with the faint lights coming from the windows. She slowly opened her mother's room and looked inside. Nobody. She went to her room and looked around. The photo holding her dad's picture was facing down. One thing that she never allowed anybody to touch, in her room was her dad's photo. She was sure that things have been moved. She went near the chest of draws, to keep the photo properly, when she saw one draw slightly open. She was very sure she had closed all the drawers. She was a stickler to neatness and order. She opened it and gasped. She saw all her inner wears strewn inside as if somebody had rummaged inside. She felt sick. She quickly went down and walked towards the kitchen to arm herself with a knife, for extra protection. Then she froze in fear when she heard foot steps. A slight tread, from nearby. She quickly went inside the room and closed the door and stood with the scissors drawn in front of her. 

She heard the foot steps outside the room and the door knob slowly turning. 



Aug 12, 2015

The Winner Takes It All (By Raani82) (Thanked: 78 times)

Chapter-8

Suraj spent the whole evening in the commissioner's office. He was pummeled on all sides by questions. Though he was highly regarded by his senior officers, they didn't forget to remind him that he had not made any progress on the case an he has not made any arrest as yet. Since it is a small city, all the reports have to be sent to Mumbai. It took awful lot of time. Owner ship of the gun is yet to be established. Rishab is yet to open his eyes. He asked the commissioner to get him permission to check phone records if necessary. He was assured support from all sides, yet he was feeling low that the men in there were sceptical he was not doing enough.

He went to the hospital, gave the phone to the canteen supervisor and asked him to return the phone to Tanya, and to pretend he found it lying on the table and he made  enquiries and to ask her if it belonged to her. He went to check on Rishab, the doctors had not yet decided on the operation. He called Riya's number again. No answer. So he decided to meet Aarushi and ask her to call her, thinking she might respond to a friend's call.

 He entered their lane and immediately noticed that her house was in darkness. He parked his car two houses before her house and slowly made his way to her gate. He saw that there was no other car parked on the road. He opened the gate cautiously. Only Aarushi's car a BMW-silver coloured was parked inside. He made his way slowly to the main door, and found it open. He stepped in and was about to call for Mrs. Sinha, when he heard footsteps and a figure moving stealthily. He didn't take his phone out in case it alerted the intruder. He heard the sound coming from a doorway across the room. His heart gripped with fear that Aarushi might be hurt. He crossed the quite a big hallway, and slowly went to the door stood outside and listened. He tightened his right fist, his muscles ripping, getting ready for a blow that can break a man's jaw and nose to pieces. With the other hand he turned the knob and pushed the door slightly open not wanting to expose himself. The reflection of a steel from the dim lights from outside caught his eye. He stepped inside, caught the arm that was holding the weapon and twisted it to the back, and the other arm came crushing around the neck. It happened in a matter of few seconds, and then he heard  a gasp and soft fingers clawing his arm. Surprised he loosened his hold, and he felt the softness and immediately released his arms. "Aarushi....?" he whispered, and the next moment, he felt a soft thud on his chest and a vice like grip on his neck. 

"He is here...Suraj... He is here...I know..." her body was shivering.

"Aarushi... quiet... It's okay..nobody is here." The adrenaline rush he had earlier to save her seemed to have taken a new course, his heart was thumping and he was breathing hard. Her softness, was tingling his nerve ends. She had broken into a sweat because of the fear, and her smell mixed with the sweet perfume was so intoxicating that he was losing his control over the situation. "He is here, just to scare me....Suraj ..believe me , I know...." In between shallow breath she was muttering.

"Aarushi... It's okay...I'm here now." He whispered as he rubbed his face in her hair.

She suddenly stiffened. And with a sudden jerk she pushed him away so hard that he stumbled and held the door for support.

"What are you doing here...creeping on me like this?"she shouted.

"What???  What are you doing walking around in the dark like this...and what was that in your hand?" He shouted back.

"A pair of scissors! And this is my house remember."she said.

"You could have killed me. " He said voice raised. "What were you doing?"

"There was no power....the door was open..." She said her voice quivering.

"Anybody with some common sense would have remained outside or called for help....not sitting in the...."

"I thought my mother was hurt or something... I had called her earlier and she told me she would reach home soon. I was so scared and worried that something had happened to her."

"Didn't you notice that her car was not in the garage? I saw only your car and immediately thought you were in trouble." She kept quiet.

"Where is the fuse box? Let me check.."  She held his hand and walked forward towards the fuse box. He opened it and saw that the main fuse was removed and kept aside. He plugged it and the main power was on. He looked at her. The lights were still off. He then checked the invertor and found that the plug was hanging loose from the socket. He fixed it. And the lights came on in the garden. She quickly switched on some lights inside her home. 

"Who could have removed the fuse?" he asked, looking at her.

"It is his work only...just to scare me... You know slight changes..here and there...hardly anybody would notice it...."she rambled.

He went and checked the door. It was not broken. "How could he have come in?"

"I don't know....see this rocking chair..my dad's.... Nobody moves it....he has moved it towards the pathway...I stumbled and fell." She said. "Come to my room..." She rushed upstairs. He followed her. "See my dad's photo...and my clothes in the closet...I never keep it like this.... See this ..." she showed him the chest of drawers. All her inner wears were lying haphazard. He looked at the cupboard... Some of her clothes were lying on the shelves...on top of the folded ones. She looked at his expressionless face, and sighed and gave a defeated look.

"You don't believe me , do you?" She asked.

"Were you the one to lock the door?" He asked instead. "Yes... After lunch, amma went to drop Kushal....I dressed, locked the door and left for my friends house."she said.

"Are you sure you locked the door properly?" He asked turning to go down . "Of course, I did..."came her irritated reply from behind.

"Think carefully, probably you dressed and left in a hurry?" He asked her.

She stood there, not knowing how to convince him.

"How come you were here?" She asked him instead.

"I came to ask you to call Riya...she is not answering my calls...I thought probably she would.... If you called her. I want to ask her few questions." He said.

She searched for her phone under the table and took it out. She brought it to life, and called Riya. No answer. Probably it's late, we'll call her in the morning. "

He took down Riya's postal address as well telling her he'll check in her house the next day. 

Kushi entered just in.."What a surprise.. inspector any problems.. You are here?"

Suraj laughed, "Why madam...a policeman brings problems along with him?"

"No no don't take it otherwise beta..I was just.." Kushi said embarrassed.

"It's okay..mam I understand. I'm leaving anyway...I just came down to get Riya's address. Good night!" He said turning to go. "Good night !" Kushi said and turned and saw the chair. "Arre... Why is this chair here? " she said calmly and put it back in its original place and walked towards the stairs.



Suraj, stopped dead in his tracks and turned and looked at Kushi and then at Aarushi. He quietly walked outside.

"Suraj you think I'm lying?" She asked coming behind him.

"At least you mom didn't panic...seeing the chair out of place."

"Suraj... Please ...believe me...I'm telling the truth." She said desperately.

"Tanya says he is in Mumbai...Aarushi." He told her.

"No ...no..it is not true..I know he is here... " she stopped and looked at him guiltily and quickly turned away. 

"You think ....you know...- Aarushi.." He said looking at her intently, wondering what she was hiding from him. He looked at his watch, "Anyway ...it is getting late..I have to take Nancy out." 

"Oh! I'm sorry!"she sounded disappointed? "Sorry to have kept you waiting." She said and walked away hurriedly inside.

Suraj stood there for few seconds then walked away towards his car, still feeling her soft body on him, wishing he had met her in a favourable circumstance.







Aug 15, 2015

The Winner Takes It All - II (By Raani82) (Thanked: 74 times)

Chapter-9

Arnav called Kushi in the morning and told her that he wanted to have a look at the apartment complex. "I'll drop Aashi, at her office and come and pick you up." She had replied. She gave him a call as soon as she arrived. Her heart lurched and skipped a beat looking at him in his denims and cotton shirt and his aviators, walking casually towards her. "He doesn't look a day older since I left him, still able to beat all the guys around him, and still able to make the heads turn."

She heard the knock on the glass of the passenger door, she quickly nodded her head and opened the door for him. "Hi...." He said, giving her an appreciative look. 

"You've changed a lot Kushi. I don't remember you ever wearing such chic and elegant clothes. Ever. You look beautiful as ever."

"Then either you have to brush up your memory or you are suffering from amnesia of a new kind, for as far as I could remember, I travelled almost all around the world with you, and not to forget the after event dinners and parties...where I challenged myself to be at par with all your lady friends." She said giving a scornful laugh.

"Of course I haven't forgotten any of it, but you never dressed like this in our home." He said.

"Because it was my home and I can wear what I'm comfortable in." She retorted.

He kept quiet for sometime, then asked, "How's Aarushi?"

"She's upset...but managing well."

"She's a good kid you know...and very beautiful... she resembles you a lot Kushi...."he said his voice heavy with emotion.

"And eyes like you....that makes her look very intelligent" she said looking at him.

He laughed, "I didn't say that."

"I'm saying it."

"Are you ever going to tell her that I'm her father?"

"I'm waiting for the right time, Arnavji." she said softly.

"I leave it to you Kushi, you are the best judge. I'll not interfere in that." He said giving her an assuring look.

They entered the complex. A security at the gate, looked at her ,smiled and waved her inside."I'm not afraid about telling her. And after I tell her then I don't have the right to deny her of her father's love either. But that's not the point Arnavji,  I'm more worried about Kushal's reaction." She said worried.

Arnav looked at her and said, "I understand..Kushi, that's why I said, I'll not interfere. "

She looked at him surprised, "You know? How?" She asked as she parked the car.

"The moment I looked at him. All it took was simple mathematical calculation. After you met Karan and married... that kid should be minimum three years younger to Aarushi, and I know he is not..." Arnav grinned.

She sat there looking at him,  she saw the respect, love and understanding in his eyes. Her eyes teared up and she quickly looked away. He turned his head away. Both guilty of throwing away the most beautiful thing they have had between them.

"I'm quite bewildered and confused as to what to do...."

"Don't be! I was never a part of their lives....I don't want to create a new confusion. Take your time. I bet things will be all right, soon. By the way how did you come to meet him?" he asked.

"It's a long story.  Arnavji... Some other time perhaps... We have a job to do now."

 He just nodded, looking around at the self sufficient apartment complex. 

"The complex has eight apartment buildings, twelve floors each,with four apartments in each floor. Two elevators in each building."Kushi pointed out. It was like a huge hexagonal shaped layout.

Arnav looked around. The compound walls were  more than ten feet high, curving down at the entrance gates which were seven feet. There were two entrances to the complex, with 24/7 security guarding the gates. Apart from that they had four guys manning the entrance of the buildings. A security for two buildings. He will have direct view of those entering the buildings and the elevators. Behind each building that is at right angles to the elevators were the stairs, as emergency exits.

"Where are the security cameras?"he asked.

She pointed at the gate . "There.. they have the people who had entered that day. And this guy Sandeep is not one of them." Arnav saw that the camera was fixed on top of the pillar holding the gates, opposite to the security post.

There were two parks for the kids, a swimming pool, a gym with Led TVs on the walls on the opposite sides. A common area,where there were  racks of books some chairs and center tables where some old men were reading magazines, on the one corner of that room was a TT table and few kids were playing TT. One of the kids stiffened as they saw Kushi enter the room. They whispered in each other's ears and scooted off in a hurry. Kushi didn't miss to notice the sudden change in the behavior of the children.

Arnav then entered the swimming pool area. It was quite a huge pool. They had to climb nearly six to seven steps to reach the small gate that opened to the pool. It started on one side with  a circle baby pool area of three feet depth within the larger pool. Then the pool became deeper, gradually increasing in depth and ended nearly eight feet in depth. He came down, and people even if they were walking on the roads around the buildings wouldn't have been able to see the people swimming. 

A guy came running towards Kushi. "Ma'am... Good morning! Any progress in the case ma'am?"he asked.

"No Pandeji! We have still no clue as to how this person could have come inside. Where you able to find out anything?" She asked.

"Ma'am I checked with all the guards, even residents here, no one has seen him."

"Arnavji... This  is Pandeji...security in charge."

"Hello...what about all the men who are working..they come from outside isn't it?" Arnav asked.

"We have maids coming to work in households, some handymen, maintenance personal, building contractors, garden contractors.... each and everyone is given the ID card, even if they are known people the security at the gate won't allow them inside without their ID card. And I've circulated the man's pictures but none of them have seen this guy." Kushi looked perplexed.

"Do the guards recognise each and every resident of this complex?" Arnav asked.

"Nearly eighty percent are permanent residents, only twenty percent are tenants and most of them have been living here for years. That's why we checked the cameras as well. We were able to identify everyone who crossed those gates." Lands said.

"There must be some way that guy has cleverly come in and gone ..very canny indeed!"Arnav thought. "Kushi you wait here, I'll take a look around again..." he walked off. She again saw the same kids cycling towards her and as soon as they came near they suddenly stopped took a u-turn and sped off. She looked at them curiously. "Pandeji..who are these kids?"she asked. Pande named one or two of them..naming their parents as well., then he wished her and went off. She saw Arnav in a distance and went and joined him. 

"Kushi this really beats me....  even if the guards had missed seeing him, the cameras would have caught him entering  and leaving the gates... we are missing something right before our eyes." He said hands on his hips.

Just then a delivery van from supermarket came and stood near the entrance of an apartment building. The driver got down to open the back door of the van to take out the things. Another helper jumped down from the passenger side with a list in his hand. Arnav then watched the third guy then get down, "Thanks bhai..." he said to the helper and walked towards one of the buildings. Arnav turned to go and stopped suddenly.

"Arnavji...come let's go then....I don't think.... What????" she asked looking at his incredulous expression.

"That's it! How could that inspector have missed this? It was right before us to see!"he said walking towards those two men.

"What did we miss Arnavji? " she asked running behind him.

"Excuse me!" He called out to one guy, "ji...boliye!"

"Who is that person who went just now? Where did you pick him up?" Arnav asked.

"Oh...he lives here sir. Many of the company buses drop them on the main road....we give them lift till here. Why sir is there any problem? "

"No no there is no problem.. In fact you have solved our problem... Kushi call Suraj. Ask him to come here immediately."he said with urgency in his voice.

"What is it Arnavji? I can't understand anything." Kushi said confused, while calling Suraj.

"Our man didn't come in through that gate Kushi, he was sitting on the passenger side of a vehicle, the guard would have checked the vehicle and the driver and would have let him inside. My guess is, he would have hitched a ride from a car, would have gone direct to the underground parking garage, taken the elevator direct to your apartment in the ninth floor."he said with childish enthusiasm which soon caught Kushi, 

"Yes. That's how it must have been...you are right Arnavji....that is the only possible way...let's see the tapes."

"Kushi let Suraj come...we cannot take the tapes from them like that." Arnav cautioned her.



At the same time, Suraj who had called Riya's number nearly twenty times since morning finally got an answer. 

"Hello, is it Ms. Riya Mujamdar?" He asked.

"Yeah...who is it?" came  a soft voice from the other end.

"I'm Suraj Hegde...from crime branch, Dharwad police dept."

"Crime branch... Sir????? What is it?" Her voice was shivering as she was speaking.

"Nothing to worry about Ms.Riya.. I want you to answer some routine questions, and help us with the investigation." He assured her.

Riya looked at the man holding a knife near her throat, with fear , eyes begging not to hurt her.

"Sure...ready to help you sir."came her soft reply.



Aug 17, 2015

The Winner Takes It All - II (By Raani82) (Thanked: 90 times)

Chapter-10

The early morning jogging that day was different from usual for Suraj. He began to drag himself, his legs began to falter. His thoughts were full of the incidents revolving around Aarushi. Her eyes, keen, full of intelligence, full of mischief, from the photos he had seen in her house were now full of fear and worry, were disturbing him to no end. He stopped and sat down on a huge stone on the side of the road.

He mentally rewound the images from day one. What was the man doing there naked except in his shorts? Involuntarily his lips tightened in anger. She says they had returned from swimming, and was taking a bath. No one had seen them swimming. It will not take long to shoot a guy, throw some clothes around....and pretend to be a victim. The forensic department hasn't identified the owner of the gun. There were no fingerprints, no trace of the man entering or leaving the premises.... yet she insisted that a guy had entered and shot her friend. A guy she says had been stalking her but yet has  no proof of him ever doing so. Why would she think her mother was in danger when she knows her mother had not yet returned home? And why did she not tell about her earlier affair with Rishab? What else is she hiding? 

He was not a man to be easily swayed by emotions. That much he had learned from his mentor, Inspector Khanna, under whom he had been working for nearly three years. He always advised him not to get emotionally involved in his cases. But try as hard as he might, he couldn't forget her eyes pleading him to believe her, then narrowing in anger when he didn't believe her.

As Tanya says if they were all good friends, how come Sandeep and Riya are in touch with Tanya but never answered when he or Aarushi tried?

Is there a truth in what Tanya is saying?  Is Aarushi the one behind the attack... a jealous lover..?How did he enter the flat or their house without breaking in? Is Aarushi faking all this?

For few moments the previous night, he almost believed her. Believed her when she frantically ran around showing the minutest of little details  of the changes, the details which she says were a proof of his presence, until her mother came in.

What is wrong with that girl? Is she a paranoid? Does she need counselling of some psychiatric kind? Should he  talk to her mother about it?

He got up sighing, determined as ever to put all the disturbing thoughts about her out of his mind and move on with the investigation, only he didn't know how to go about it. Her soft body on him... Shivering in fear....her chocked voice....damn! Damn! He thought. How could she fake so well? 

"He touched my things when I was out of my cabin. I could smell my perfume in the air." He remembered her telling them.

Her perfume! He closed his eyes. Again his nerve ends  started tingling. He stiffened. He opened he eyes. Her things in her draw, according to her , were lying haphazard.

She must have kept her keys there and he must have taken them from there and made duplicates. So it is all the more important he knows the whereabouts of this man. 

He jogged back home with renewed enthusiasm to be welcomed by a 30pound bundle of fur hurling at him and almost knocking him down.

"Relax my girl!" he laughed running around the small courtyard with Nancy the golden brown retriever. He then caught hold of her muzzle and shook her head then rubbed it playfully, patted her behind and went inside. She barked, showing her protest that he cut short her playing time. "Sorry baby....duty calls!" He said and she dutifully followed him all around till he waved her bye bye and went to have his bath. She knew her game for today was over and took her position on the single sofa, facing the door.

 After an hour Suraj went straight to his office and called his friend in Mumbai, to find out the details about Sandeep's number. He then called Aarushi , "Hi..." No reply.

"Good morning!" he said in a friendly tone. No reply. 

"Aarushi... I need to talk to Riya... I want you to call her.." He said in a business like tone.

"Okay...I'm at the office.." He heard her say. Did he hear her sniffling? 

"Aarushi... Are you okay? Is there any problem?" He asked now concerned .

"Yeah...I'm fine...what could possibly go wrong for me?" She said , her voice sounded cynical. 

"Wait there for me. I'm coming there. " he said and cut the call.

Since he was moving towards the city, the traffic was very slow and it took nearly half an hour for him to reach her office. He showed his ID card and quickly walked towards her cabin. His heart lurched taking in the sight of her. She was sitting there, all forlorn, lost and sad. Her eyes were red and puffed up and it was evident that she had been crying.

"Aarushi... What happened?"he asked concerned.

"What happened??? Now he asks me what happened?" She smirked, turning away from him. 

Suraj came and stood before her, and in a quiet voice asked, "What happened Aarushi?"

"You know what....I'm the victim but thanks to people like you ....and the media of course...I'm being treated like a bloody criminal... " she said angrily, tears pouring down her cheeks.



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