FFY 01 – 05

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Chapter 1: Reason to Smile

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Geet trudged home in the light drizzle, her shoulders slumped after the long day she had had.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Handa, but we won’t be needing your services any longer.”

“But, Mr. Malhotra said …”

“I don’t care what my husband told you. But we will not need your services any longer.”

Geet stared at the money in her hand, her fingers clenching tightly around the bills. She frowned fiercely tears burning in her eyes for a moment before she ruthlessly wiped them away.

“What did I do to deserve this, Babaji? What is it with these women and their fears? Especially after …,” she paused in her muttering, not even wanting to say the words to herself. She shook her head decisively, and began to walk forward once more, her feet stomping now. “All I want is to do my job, take care of their children and save up money. Is that too much to ask? I need that money to pay for school, but do these women care? This is the …,” she paused once more, counting on her fingers silently. “This is the fourth job that I have been fired from, and why? I don’t even know, Babaji. It was so hard to find, and the job was perfect, too. It was so close to home that I didn’t even have to waste money on bus fare.” She stared up into the weeping skies. “But it’ll be okay,” she comforted herself. “Even if things don’t work out now, I can just set my plans back until next se—”

“Geet! Geet Handa! Where are you going?” a voice called from behind her.

Geet turned to glare at the errant speaker, and realized that she was glaring at her own father. She blinked and then smiled hesitantly. “Papa Ji, what are you doing here?” Geet asked, striding back to her father. “Did you come to pick me up from work? You didn’t have to do that. You know it’s only a ten minute walk.”

Mohinder Handa stared at his a daughter for a moment and then smiled sweetly. “Beta ji,” he said, before grasping Geet by the shoulders and turning her to face the house behind them. “You’re already home.” Geet stared at the building and then blushed, beginning to laugh softly. Mohinder smiled to see the glow in his daughter’s eyes. It had been a long time since he’d seen Geet smile this way. It did his heart good to see the weight lifted from his daughter’s shoulders. Nothing was going to take Geet’s happiness away. Not if he had anything to say about it. He nodded firmly to himself.

“Papa ji, what are you doing now?” Geet demanded, waving a hand in front of her father’s face. “It’s raining, and you’re just standing here.” Grabbing him by the arm, she pulled him into the house. “I don’t know why he’s always thinking to himself like that,” she could be heard muttering to herself.

Mohinder laughed loudly, and walked after his daughter. “You have a guest,” he offered to his still muttering daughter.

“Guest?! Who?” Geet asked, whirling around to gaze inquisitively at her father.

“Pinky’s here,” Mohinder revealed happily, smiling to see the joy blooming in Geet’s face once more.

“Pinky!” Geet shouted happily, before turning around to race into the house.

“Geet, be careful,” her father cautioned from behind her. “Don’t hurt yourself.”

Geet raced into the house, her exhaustion and worry forgotten. Squealing with happiness, she ran to Pinky and wrapped her arms around her best friend. “When did you get back?” she demanded, stepping back.

“Yesterday,” Pinky replied, smiling back at Geet.

“And where is our dear Jeeja ji?” Geet asked, wiggling her eyebrows.

“He had to go back to work, and dropped me off here,” Pinky replied with a pout. “He couldn’t even stay one day with me before returning to work,” she complained.

“Pinky! You were on your honeymoon for two weeks,” Geet reminded her. Pinky brightened at that. “So?” she asked, prompting her friend.

“So what?” Pinky asked in confusion.

“How was the honeymoon?” Geet asked teasingly.

“Geet! Not in front of the family,” Pinky said with a blush.

“Geet beta, you’re back,” Rano Handa said, standing in the doorway of the kitchen. “I have food ready.”

“I’m not hungry, Maa,” Geet murmured distractedly.

“Pinky, what about you?” Rano asked, turning to the girl she considered her second daughter.

“Nothing right now, Auntie Ji. Dad said that he’ll be joining us. We’ll eat then,” Pinky replied over her shoulder, as Geet pulled her into her bedroom.

“So, how was it?” Geet demanded from Pinky. “How was everything? How is married life?”

Pinky smiled at seeing Geet so happy. She’d been worried that Geet would become depressed after her marriage, but that wasn’t the case.

She thought back to how Geet used to be when she had come to Delhi with her family. She’d been so quiet and so lost. The Handas had stayed with her father and her before shifting into their own house next door. Mohinder uncle had started his own small business with his half of the family wealth, and Rano auntie had soon made friends in the neighborhood, but Geet … Geet had been broken. It had taken Pinky a long time to gain Geet’s trust, and then even longer to gain that first precious smile.

Geet was smiling more day by day, and seeing that made Pinky happy. Feeling a touch against her hand, Pinky turned to look at Geet once more.

“Where did you go off to?” Geet asked in worry. “You’re happy, right? I thought … since you’ve known him forever, that there wouldn’t be any problems. He’s treating you …”

“No, Geet, everything is fine,” Pinky said with a laugh. “He’s wonderful. There’s nothing for you to worry about on that front. You’re right. We’ve known each other forever. There’s no hesitation between us.” She blushed lightly. “We get along great. It was that wedding, you know, when he saw me again. And I was dressed up in all of my glory,” she said with a smile, posing for Geet. “He started seeing me in a new light, and, when he began to pursue me, I realized how much I … loved him too,” she confessed with another blush.

“You’re still blushing,” Geet teased with a soft smile. Pinky hugged her fiercely before pulling back to stare at the lines on Geet’s face. “We’ve talked enough about me. Tell me how you’ve been.”

“I’m … I’m fine,” Geet murmured, looking away from Pinky’s sharp gaze.

“Geet Handa,” Pinky said warningly. “I know you’re lying.”

“I’m not lying,” Geet shot back hotly. “I am fine.”

“How’s school?” Pinky asked.

“I’m going to have to take a break,” Geet replied uncomfortably.

“A break? But you’ve been looking forward to getting your degree for so long. You’ve been saving up, and now, you’re just taking a break? I don’t know why you won’t let uncle and auntie help you, but you insist on working,” Pinky demanded. “You just had a little bit more to save up to pay for this semester’s tuition! What happened?”

“I got fired, Pinky,” Geet said unhappily.

“What?”

“Mrs. Malhotra said that she didn’t want me to stay on any longer,” Geet related.

“Why?”

“She didn’t give me a reason,” Geet murmured, staring at her hands. “She just shoved some money at me, and told me to leave before her husband came home.”

“So, you’re out of a job?” Pinky asked.

“Yes,” Geet replied with her head bowed.

“Perfect!” Pinky suddenly said, jumping off of the bed.

“What?” Geet looked at her best friend, surprised to see her jumping up and down around the room.

“Look, it’s perfect,” Pinky said again. “You can work for your Jeeja Ji’s boss.”

“What?”

“He needs new staff right now, and you’ve finished your basic courses at the university, right? You’ve taken computer classes because you wanted to, and that’ll only help you. I’ll go call him right now,” Pinky threw over her shoulder, running out of the room.

“Wait,” Geet murmured, shell-shocked by Pinky, the hurricane. “What kind of job? Work for who? What was Pinky talking about?” Getting up, she raced out of her bedroom and out the house door, trying to catch up with Pinky.

“Hey Pinky, you didn’t say who the boss was!” Geet shouted after Pinky’s rapidly retreating figure. “I need to know that much at least before you set up the interview!”

“Didn’t I tell you?” Pinky asked, turning to look at her in surprise. “Dhak Dhak,” she called back, patting at her heart.

Geet shook her head, unable to understand. Pinky sighed and then walked back to Geet, and pulled her back into the house.

“He used to be my boss, too, Geet!” Pinky said. “Remember? I told you about him, when I met Adi again. Adi is still working at the same place that I quit to go work with dad.”

Geet nodded.

“Geet, you’re so lucky.”

Geet wrinkled her brow at Pinky’s grinning face.

“You’ll be working for Maan Singh Khurana!”

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Chapter 2: The Interview

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“Geet,” Adi said, turning to stare at her in surprise, “Do you really want to work for my b-boss? A-are you sure that’s what you want to do?” Adi was in Geet’s room, staring at the two friends sitting on the bed. Geet had asked for him to come inside, not wanting her parents to know that she had lost her job until she had another job in hand. She knew that if her parents found out, they would insist on taking care of her expenses, and that was something she didn’t want them to do.

Geet’s eyes widened at the stammer in her Jeeja Ji’s voice. Adi was a quiet man, a gentle man. He had the tendency to dress in a businesslike fashion at all times, and wore black-rimmed eyeglasses. He also had a tendency to push those same glasses up the bridge of his nose when he was stressed, as he was doing repeatedly right now.

Pinky had pounced on him as soon as he’d stepped through the door. “Geet wants to work for Maan Singh Khurana! Get her a job there. Please.” Geet took the material of her shirt in her hand, worriedly crumpling it, as she thought about how Adi had paled at his wife’s entreaty. He’d flinched slightly and had then started playing with those glasses.

“What kind of work experience do you have, Geet?” he asked suddenly, coming to sit across from her.

“I’ve been working with children,” Geet offered apologetically, seeing his eyes widen slightly. “I tutor them and take care of them.”

“What are you majoring in?” he asked abruptly, changing the subject.

“I’m getting a degree in teaching,” Geet murmured. “I can’t wait to start working with children in a school setting. It’s what I’ve always wanted,” she said softly, touching her cheek nervously before forcing her hand down to her side.

“But see, you don’t really have the qualifications to be M-Maan Singh Khurana’s assistant. And that is the only position open right now,” he said gently, tugging at his collar when he saw the scowl on Pinky’s face. “Mr. Khurana will not tolerate any mistakes, not even because of a lack of experience. Miss Singhania, his previous assistant, had impeccable credentials and had worked with him for years. M-Maan S-sir would make your life hell if you disappointed him in any way.”

“Adi, Geet has taken a secretarial course and business classes. She’ll be a great assistant,” Pinky insisted stubbornly.

“Pinky,” Geet said hesitantly, staring wide-eyed at her friend. “I don’t think that I want to work for a man like that. I can just put school off for a semester.”

“Geet, really,” Pinky protested, turning to her in with a huff. “No matter how cranky he may be, the money and his looks are worth it,” she finished impishly, staring at Adi out of the corner of her eyes. “I remember how my heart used to jump whenever I was around him.”

“That was the result of fear,” Adi muttered to himself in a low tone.

“What?” Pinky asked brightly, turning to gaze questioningly at her pouting husband.

“Nothing!” Adi quickly said. Clearing his throat, he pushed his glasses back up his nose, and turned to Geet. “If this is what you want, I can arrange an interview for you this evening. Maan S-sir is leaving the country tomorrow on a business trip. Would you be willing to go to his house tonight?”

Geet finally nodded, thinking about the money that she could save to for school if she spent this time working instead of looking for work.

And anyways, how bad could this Maan Singh Khurana be?

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“He will be right with you,” the servant said to her, bowing his head slightly. “Would you like something to drink while you’re waiting, Miss?”

“No, thank you,” Geet said hoarsely, her eyes wide as she gazed about her. Her mind was still reeling from the immensity of the mansion. And now, when she was inside, her eyes couldn’t stop roving about. She’d been placed in an alcove on the second floor, above the living room, and every little thing in this place bespoke of age and wealth.

“Hello,” a warm voice said from behind her.  Geet jumped up, her eyes turning to gaze at the woman that had come up behind her.

“Namaste,” Geet murmured, gazing at the woman questioningly. The older woman gazed back at her with a big smile on her face. “I was here to meet Mr. Maan Singh Khurana,” she finally offered, hoping for some sort of response.

“Yes, Nakul told me,” she responded. Gesturing for Geet to take a seat, the woman sat down across from her. “I am Savitri Devi. I am Maan’s grandmother. I will be doing the interview today,” she explained. “Maan will not be available.”

Geet brightened at that, her shoulders straightening. She gave a sigh of relief, happy to not have to face Maan Singh Khurana just yet. She could still hear Adi’s stutter in her mind. If this man evoked that kind of reaction in her jeeja ji, than how would she ever be able to cope with him? “Stop it, Geet,” she muttered to herself. “You’re strong. You’re confident. There is no reason for you to be afraid of him.”

“Did you say something?” Savitri Devi asked, tilting her head to the side in inquiry.

“No, I’m sorry,” Geet stammered. “I have this habit of talking to myself… I don’t know why I just admitted that to you. That probably makes me sound really crazy.”

“Not at all, beta, we all have our foibles,” Savitri Devi responded soothingly. “I’m afraid that I didn’t get your name.” She gazed at the timid young lady in front of her, a woman too solemn for her age. She had a warmth and innocence about her that would aid her in performing her duties. Her gaze moved over the girl’s delicate features, her slightly curling hair, and that half-smile upon her lips. She was happy with the choice that had been made.

“My name is Geet Handa,” Geet responded quickly.

“And how old are you?” Savitri Devi enquired in interest.

“I am 23 years old,” Geet murmured. “I am going to school to get my teaching degree,” she offered without a second thought. Wincing slightly, she silently berated herself for revealing this. ‘Why would they hire you if they think you’re not invested in this job?

But Savitri Devi seemed to be happy with that bit of news. “Then you have some experience with this kind of work?” she asked.

“Not really,” Geet said, “But I have learned everything that I need to perform my duties efficiently. You won’t find a harder worker than me,” she promised.

Savitri Devi laughed softly, before turning her attention to someone below.

“There goes your charge,” she murmured, tilting her head, urging Geet to take a look over the balcony.

Geet leaned over slightly to see, and her eyes widened at the sight of the man stalking through the room. His body moved like that of a tiger prowling through the jungle, supremely confident in his own superiority. His clothes were molded to his muscled body, elegant in the extreme. The size of his arms evidenced his quiet strength. There was a dark scowl on his face, and a phone pressed to his ear, as he barked orders to the hapless individual on the other end.

“I don’t care what you think might have happened, but she’s not here. What were you thinking?”

His voice was husky, but with a velvety smoothness that seemed to seduce, even as he berated someone with that voice. Geet leaned over further, trying to keep her gaze on the man that had already left the room.

“Geet? Are you listening to me?” a voice interjected, breaking through the maelstrom that had invaded Geet’s mind. Why was she so obsessed after just a glimpse of that man? Why was she finding it so hard to focus on the woman in front of her?

“I’m sorry,” she said huskily, surprised by how her voice had changed … lowered. She bit her lip and quickly cleared her throat. “What were you saying, ma’am?” she asked, smiling tremulously at the older woman.

“I was just saying that your charge will be a bit … temperamental,” the older woman stated.

Geet nodded in understanding. “Jee—sorry, Adi told me that would be so.”

“He can be a bit moody sometimes,” his grandmother continued. “He also has the tendency to have temper tantrums. You’ll have to deal with all of that.”

“That’s what I’m here for, Savitri Devi,” Geet murmured in reply.

“Your duties will include waking him up on time, and making sure that he has his glass of warm milk before he goes to sleep at night.”

Geet’s eyes widened at that. “I’m sorry, what?” she asked, blinking in surprise.

“He’s too old for you to tuck him in, so you won’t have to do that,” the older woman continued blithely

“I should think not,” Geet said faintly, her voice dying away.

“You will also have to make sure that he’s dressed properly,” she continued smilingly. “Make sure that he eats three meals a day and you must keep him away from sweets. He gets very hyper.”

Geet nodded, her head tilted to the side. “And those will be my duties?” she asked in confusion.

“The last time he was hyper he broke my favorite lamp,” Savitri Devi revealed mournfully.

Geet blinked once more. ‘No wonder jeeja ji was so hesitant about getting me this job,’ she thought to herself. ‘What kind of man is this that he can’t even dress himself and gets hyper on sweets? Will I be able to do this job?

“Can you do all of that?” Savitri Devi asked, echoing Geet’s thoughts. “I would love to hire you, beta, but only if you can handle it.”

Geet nodded, pasting a smile on her face. If she had to go above and beyond the call of duty of a normal assistant, then who was she to refuse? The salary was worth any amount of extra trouble.

“Good! Then you can start immediately,” the older woman stated, standing up. Geet got up, as well. “You can take a warm glass to him right now and introduce yourself. Here’s Nakul with the milk,” she murmured happily, turning to gaze at the servant. She watched quietly as Nakul handed the milk to Geet. “His bedroom is the fourth door down the third hallway,” she stated. “If you get lost, just ask anyone, and they will be able to help you.”

Geet nodded hesitantly, and turned to go.

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“Excuse me, can you tell me where Mr. Maan Singh Khurana’s bedroom is?” Geet called out to the retreating figure. The servant pointed to a door before turning the corner. Geet stared at the imposing doors and squared her shoulders before knocking firmly on the door.

There was no response. She knocked once more, louder this time. Once again, there was no response.

“Hello? Is anyone in here?” she murmured softly, opening the door. Stepping inside, she gazed around the room before making her way to the side table. She would just leave this milk here. A part of her was glad that she didn’t have to face him tonight. Tomorrow would be soon enough to get a list of her duties before he left the country.

“Who are you?” a voice asked from behind her. “And how dare you come into my room without my permission?”

Geet whirled around, the milk still in her hand. Her eyes widened, and she gasped lightly, seeing that man in front of her once more. Maan Singh Khurana. He had just stepped out of the shower, because his hair was still wet, several strands falling across his forehead. He wore black sweats and a tank top, and those arms were left bare to Geet’s fascinated gaze.

“I asked you who you were,” Maan barked at her.

“M-my name is Geet Handa,” she finally forced out, her gaze locked to his.

“Geet Handa?” Maan asked. “Are you bringing me milk as appeasement for being late?” he threw at her harshly.

“Late? But I wasn’t late,” Geet said. Or rather, tried to say, but Maan was moving toward her, and Geet had lost her voice. She looked around frantically, turning this way and that, for an escape. As he moved closer, Geet backed up, until there was no more room for retreat. Her back hit the wall, and she gasped lightly. “Please. Could you …?”

“You were supposed to be here an hour ago, Miss Handa,” he stated, gazing down at her.

Geet absentmindedly offered him the milk, caught in his gaze once more.

He glared at the milk for a moment, before shifting his gaze back to her. “I do not drink milk, Miss Handa. It’s too late for an interview. You can leave.”

“B-but sir,” Geet protested, growing frustrated with his attitude. “I was here on time. Your grandmother has already interviewed me. And I didn’t come into your room for my own enjoyment,” she finally got the courage to retort, “I was doing the task assigned to me.”

“What task?” he asked, surprised by her fiery response.

“Bringing you your nightly glass of milk,” Geet quickly responded. She stepped forward, forcing him to step back. Pushing the glass of milk into his hand, she quickly moved away from him and toward the door.

“You said that my grandmother interviewed you?” Maan called out from behind her.

Geet nodded, refusing to turn around.

“What did she say in this interview? Turn around Miss Handa,” he ordered.

Geet turned around and gazed at the man once more. “She asked me about my experience.”

“And what is your experience?” he asked.

“I do not have any real world experience,” Geet confessed.

Maan snorted at that revelation.

“But I did take a secretarial course,” she continue doggedly. “And I have taken computer and business classes.”

Maan relaxed at that.

“I am also a hard worker, and I learn quickly. If there is anything I don’t know, I can learn,” she said almost belligerently.  “I was even willing to do these extra duties,” she muttered. “And you’re still giving me attitude,” she said in a low tone, not meant to reach his ears.

“What extra duties?” Maan asked after a short moment.

“Your grandmother said that I have to come to your house and wake you up every morning. Make sure that you are dressed properly, and make sure that you eat three meals a day.”

“What?” Maan asked in surprise. She paled under his glare, unsure of what to say next. He began to stride toward her.

Geet backed up, and she was once again stuck between the wall and his body. She plastered herself against the hard surface, trying to avoid all contact with him.

She began to babble once more. “She also said that you were a bit temperamental and had temper tantrums that I would have to handle. But I told her that was okay, and that my jeeja ji had already warned me about that.”

“Your jeeja ji?” Maan asked in a dangerous tone.

“Adi,” she answered quickly.

“Didn’t you find it a bit strange that you would have to do all these tasks?” he finally asked curtly, placing a hand next to her head. “After all, you are here to interview for the position of my assistant.”

“I will do whatever is required,” Geet responded quietly, staring at that hand so close to her. She sidled to the side, moving away from the heat emanating from him.

Maan pulled back, and stared down at the glass of milk he still had in his hand.

“Do you have any experience with children?” he asked suddenly.

“I’ve taken care of children for the past two and 1/2 years, and I am getting my teaching degree,” Geet answered hesitantly.

Maan held out the glass once more, and Geet took it in her hands, curling her fingers around the cold glass.

“My grandmother hired you as a nanny, Miss Handa. And I think you might be better suited for that job.”

Geet’s mouth half-opened in protest.

“The salary will be the same,” he interjected, causing Geet to subside.

“But what child?” she finally asked, grasping the milk glass to her chest. “Whose …?”

“You will be taking care of my five-year-old son, Miss Handa. His name is Rahul.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Chapter 3: Becoming His Assistant

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“Babaji, let everything go well today,” Geet muttered to the sky, holding her hands together in prayer. “Maan Singh Khurana won’t be here today, so that’s good,” she murmured to herself, putting her hands down to her side. She stopped for a moment. “Why am I always saying Maan Singh Khurana? Why does his first name have to be attached to his middle and last names? Why? Maan … there, I can say it. Maan won’t be here today,” she nodded semi-confidently. “Maan. Maan. No,” she said, shaking her head at the awkwardness that engendered. “If I called him that … he’d probably kill me. I can’t call him Maan to his face. Maan Sir.”

Her thoughts turned to how her parents had reacted to her news.

“Why didn’t you tell us that you had lost your job, beta?” Papa Ji asked.

“Because I didn’t want to burden you anymore than I already have,” Geet responded.

“You could never be a burden for us,” Maa interrupted, smiling lovingly at her. “You’re our precious daughter. If we don’t take care of you, then who would we take care of?”

“Your mother’s right, beta,” Papa Ji said, coming over to pass a loving hand over Geet’s hair. “You’re our wealth. Nothing else matters. If you need money for your tuition, we want to help you. Don’t work anymore.”

“Papa Ji, I’ve already promised Maan Singh Khurana that I would come! I can’t break my promise. And how would Adi Jeeja ji look if I just backed out? I just hope that everything goes okay.”

“Everything will be fine,” Papa Ji said smilingly, patting her head once more. “Children always love you.”

“Everything will be fine,” she repeated, staring at the imposing doors in front of her. Reaching out a clenched fist, she almost banged on the door before catching herself. What was she doing? Stiffly pulling out a reluctant index finger, she rang the bell. “Why am I so nervous?” she asked herself. “This is just like any other job. I shouldn’t be this nervous. Rahul will like me. We’ll get along. I’ll make my money, and be on my way back to school in a few months. Right. Think about the money, Geet. Think about the salary.”

She jumped slightly when the door opened in front of her.

“Miss Geet, you’re here early,” Nakul stated, opening the door wider. He gestured her inside and closed the door.

“Well, Savitri Devi said that it was my job to wake up Rahul,” Geet murmured in response, moving down the hallway.

“Oh, Geet beta, you’re here already,” a warm voice called from the living room. Geet hesitantly stepped into the room and smiled at the older woman sitting on a sofa.

“Namaste,” she murmured. She moved closer. “I didn’t find out what time Rahul gets up,” she explained. “So, I thought that I would come a bit earlier and get to know our routine before he awakened.”

“I don’t know what you must have thought when I was telling you your duties last night,” Savitri Devi stated musingly. “When Maan beta told me that you thought you had been interviewing for a position as his secretary, I couldn’t help but laugh at the image of you waking him up and picking out his clothes. It made him really angry,” she murmured confidingly to the young lady in front of her. She didn’t know why she felt such an affinity for this child, but a part of her trusted her in some way. “I know that you won’t tell anyone else about that.”

“Well, I don’t think that Maan Sir’s temper will be much of a surprise to his employees,” Geet muttered in a low tone.

Savitri Devi began to laugh once more. “I just know that it will be a pleasure to have you working for us,” she commented, wiping at the corners of her eyes. “But Geet, Rahul is already awake.”

Geet glanced at her questioningly, her brow wrinkling in worry. “Should I be coming even earlier than this?” she asked.

“Oh, no, of course not,” the other woman responded. “Rahul’s schedule is just a bit out of sync with the rest of us. You can fix that over time. Why don’t you take this hot chocolate and go meet him right now,” she suggested, nodding at the drink in Nakul’s hands. “He’s playing in his room.”

Geet nodded smilingly, and took the warm glass in her hands. She turned to go, but then quickly turned back. “Where is his room again?” she asked.

“I’ll have Nakul take you,” Savitri Devi responded.

“And M-Maan Sir has left for his business trip?” Geet asked in worry. “I still can’t believe that I was trying to get him to drink milk last night.”

Savitri Devi’s eyes widened at that revelation. “Really? Maan beta didn’t say anything about that.” She began to chuckle at the image that revelation brought to her mind.

“He’s gone?” Geet pressed, needing to know.

“Don’t worry. He will be gone for a week. You can get to know Rahul in the meantime.”

In the meantime?’ Geet thought to herself, as she turned to follow Nakul. ‘What did she mean by that?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Knock. Knock. Knock.

“Rahul? Are you in there?” There was no response.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

“Rahul? Are you in here?” Geet called out again, wondering why there was no answer. Opening the door, she stuck her head inside. Her eyes moved around the room before landing on the lump in the middle of the huge bed. It was bed too large for a child, making the child in it seem too small and vulnerable.

“What’s this?” she asked the lump, moving into the room. “Savitri Devi said that Rahul was awake. I guess Rahul wants me to wake him up on my first day,” she said smilingly, moving over to the bed.

The lump moved around, and she saw two eyes suddenly gazing at her. “No I don’t!” the little boy shouted, glaring at her balefully. The blankets lowered some more, revealing a frown on the handsome face. “I don’t like you! Go away! I don’t need a nanny! I can take care of myself!” He was back under the covers before the last words had left his mouth.

Geet gingerly set the hot chocolate on the bedside table, before turning to sit down beside the tiny lump. It moved over, not wanting to be near her. “Hmm. What can we do about you not liking me?” Geet wondered out loud. “You haven’t even given me a chance.”

“I’m never going to like you,” he said with a pout, pulling the blanket down once more. “And don’t sit on my bed without my permission. I didn’t give you permission.” Saying that, he pulled the blanket up once more. Geet sat back, a little shocked by his words. But then again, wasn’t there a saying about the apple not falling far from the tree? Gently tugging at the blanket, she pulled it down to gaze at the child’s face. He was a beautiful child. But the petulance in his features detracted from that beauty.

“I can take care of myself, you know,” he said after a while. He pulled out his arm and held it up, and Geet saw the cast around it. “Just because I broke my arm, doesn’t mean that I can’t take care of myself. Besides, daddy said that this would only be on for a little while. I’ll be fine soon.”

Geet remained silent, gazing at him.

“Well? Aren’t you going to say anything?” he demanded, a tad apprehensive.

“Wouldn’t you like to properly meet me first?” she finally asked. “I don’t think it’s fair of you to not give me a chance.”

“Unfair?” he asked doubtfully, sitting up slowly. Geet quickly helped me, when she saw the trouble he was having with his arm. “I don’t want to be unfair. Daddy says you can never cheat anybody. It’s wrong. Am I cheating you?” he asked hesitantly.

“I think it’s not fair,” Geet repeated, trying out a small pout of her own.

“My name is Rahul Khurana,” he said grudgingly, holding out his small hand.

Geet shook it gently. “My name is Geet Handa. And I’m not here to be your nanny,” she told him.

“You’re not?” There was a moment of silence as the child tried to digest this. His brow wrinkled once more. “You are too! Dadi said that you were coming here to take care of me. A nanny does that.”

“Dadi? But isn’t Savitri Devi you—” Geet began to ask, sidetracked for a moment.

“Daddy calls her Dadi,” Rahul cut in. “So, I call her Dadi.”

“You do everything your daddy does?” Geet asked with a smile, a dimple flashing.

The child smiled back hesitantly, as if unable to help himself. Geet’s charm had begun to work on him. “Of course,” he replied. “I want to be just like daddy, so I have to do everything he does.”

“Right, of course,” Geet said, nodding in understanding. “But, as I was saying, I’m not your nanny. I’m going to be your personal assistant.”

Rahul’s eyes widened at that. “My assistant?”

“Tell me. You know Jeeja ji, right?”

“Huh?”

“Sorry, I mean, Adi. You know Adi, right? Your father’s employee?”

“Adi uncle?” Rahul asked. “Of course. He’s always here. He’s really nice to me. He brings me candy. And then Dadi gets kind of annoyed because she says I get hyp—hyp—jumpy. But she doesn’t really get angry. She loves me,” the boy rambled on while Geet watched him smilingly. “Only, he has difficulty talking when he’s around my dad,” Rahul revealed, returning to the original subject. “I think he’s afraid of daddy. One time, I saw him hiding from daddy, but when I asked him what he was doing, he picked up a toy and said that daddy had been asking for it.” Rahul giggled slightly, a naughty gleam in his eyes.

“You’re not supposed to laugh at other people,” Geet gently admonished him, reaching out a hand to brush away the hair that had fallen over his forehead. “But, as I was saying. Adi takes care of many things for your father. He makes appointments for him. He buys his airline tickets. He figures out the budget for your daddy’s projects.”

“He has to do that. Daddy pays him,” Rahul protested.

“And does that mean that your father can’t pick up the phone? Or that he can’t buy his own tickets? Or that your daddy doesn’t know how to do math?”

“No! My daddy knows how to do everything,” Rahul protested hotly.

“Then, that means that your daddy chooses to let other people help him. He chooses to let other people assist him,” Geet concluded. “You want to be like your daddy, right? Then, you have to let me be your assistant so I can help you. Rahul Khurana should have at least one assistant,” she said, tugging gently at the collar of his night shirt.

Rahul nodded thoughtfully, buying into that argument. “I’m your boss, right? You’ll do whatever I want?” he asked slyly, gazing at Geet with his chocolate brown eyes.

“Within reason,” she promptly replied, seeing the pitfalls in her argument. “Adi doesn’t do everything for your father, right? Only what’s in his job description.”

“Hmm,” Rahul said, a little disappointed. Tapping a finger against his chin, he thought about what his first order of the day would be. “Give me my hot chocolate.”

Geet sat there, gazing at him.

“I told you to get me my drink,” he ordered, frowning at her.

“You didn’t say the magic word,” she replied.

“What do you mean?”

“You have to say please and thank you,” Geet reminded him gently.

“No, I don’t,” he quickly replied. “Daddy doesn’t say any of that. He only nods his head and says ‘hmph’,” Rahul said, mimicking his father, to the point of crossing his arms over his small chest.

“But you’re younger,” Geet reminded him. “Your daddy …” she thought frantically. “Your daddy learned all of his manners, and now that he’s bigger he can forget them because he’s rich. You can do that too. But first you have to learn them,” she murmured.

“Please give me my hot chocolate,” Rahul said, after a moment’s thought. “Thank you,” he said, after Geet had handed him the drink. He sipped it quietly for a moment, holding it one tiny hand. Geet reached out and helped him, holding the glass. He shyly smiled at her over the rim, before taking another swallow. “Are you sure that I can act like daddy when I grow up?” he asked.

“I promise,” Geet murmured, her heart touched by the yearning she saw in his eyes. Leaning down, she planted a kiss on his forehead.

“Why did you do that?” he asked, shocked by the display of affection. In his young life, he had only known such affection from his Dadi. Daddy would hug him sometimes, but it wasn’t often. “You kissed me,” he pointed out, touching the spot her lips had caressed.

“That’s in my job description,” Geet replied promptly, flashing him a smile. “I have to give you a kiss once a day.” Rahul accepted that explanation, turning his attention to finishing his hot chocolate. Geet took the empty glass away and then carefully wiped away the milk mustache above his tiny mouth.

“Now, what would you like to do?” she asked, smiling down at the little boy. Looking at the brown eyes staring openly at her once more, she felt her heart clench with new emotions. She’d only known this child for half an hour, but he’d found a place in her heart. She tapped at it lightly, warning it to not be too emotional. This was just a job.

“Can we play?” he asked hesitantly. “Is that in your job des–description?”

“Your nanny didn’t play with you?” she asked in surprise.

“No, she was too busy,” Rahul said, with a frown.

“Doing what?” Geet demanded, appalled at the thought of this child being ignored.

Rahul shrugged impatiently. “I don’t know. Can’t we just play?”

“Not only is it in my job description,” Geet said, helping him out of bed, “But we have to play together for at least three hours a day.”

Rahul smiled at that, gazing up at his new assistant. “What do I call you?”

Geet thought about it for a moment. “Well, your daddy calls Adi by his name, but that would only be okay between us when you’re older. How about you call me Geet Didi or Ms. Geet?”

“I’ve never had a didi before,” Rahul said musingly. “But I’ll call you both. It’ll depend on if I’m happy with you or mad at you.”

Geet chuckled at that frank statement.

“Now, let’s play hide and go seek!” he suggested excitedly. “I’m going to hide and you have to find me!” he shouted over a small shoulder, running out the door.

“Wait, Rahul!” Geet called frantically. “We haven’t even changed your clothes!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Rahul, where are you?” Geet demanded, moving around gingerly, her hands held out in front of her. She had been working for a week in the Khurana house, and she had loved it. Not only had she become closer to Rahul and they were best buds, but she had also grown closer to Savitri Devi, who she now called Dadi Ma, at her own insistence.

“Rahul?” She tilted her head slightly, hearing a soft giggle to the side of the room. They were playing blindman’s buff; she had the corner of her dupatta wrapped around her eyes, as she moved around hesitantly, searching for her little charge.

“Where are you, you little monster?” she demanded, hearing him laugh even louder. She smiled in response, moving around the furniture that she knew was in the room. He loved it when they played together. Feeling a change in the breeze to the side and the soft patter of feet, she realized that Rahul had left the room. She slowly followed him outside. Entering the hallway, she followed the soft sounds until she felt something brush against her hand. Rahul’s hair! Dropping down, she grabbed the little figure. “Got you!” she squealed in triumph, hugging him close.

Only … it wasn’t the small figure of a child in her arms. She had just plastered herself against a hard, male back. And the scent … his clean, woodsy scent was so familiar. She inhaled deeply, and then quickly shook her head at what she was doing. She fell back, putting distance between herself and this strange male.

Quickly pulling off the blindfold, her eyes widened in shock at the figure now standing in front of her. Her gaze moved from the expensive shoes, to the business clothes, up to face that had captivated her from the first moment she had seen it, to meet the eyes glaring down at her. She quickly wrapped her dupatta around herself, her heart beating furiously in her chest.

……………………

“Geet Didi, why were you hugging daddy?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Chapter 4: A Gradual Falling

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Entering the hallway, she followed the soft sounds until she felt something brush against her hand. Rahul’s hair! Dropping down, she grabbed the little figure. “Got you!” she squealed in triumph, hugging him close.

Only … it wasn’t the small figure of a child in her arms. She had just plastered herself against a hard, male back.

Hard … masculine … intoxicating.

The scent … his clean, woodsy scent was so familiar. She inhaled deeply, and then quickly shook her head at what she was doing, ordering herself to pull free of the spell that had fallen over her. The spell that was making her behave very, very stupidly.

She fell back, putting distance between her and this strange male. But she knew, as she fell back on her behind and scrambled to get her blindfold off. She knew it was him … her boss …

Quickly pulling off the blindfold, her eyes widened as they took in the figure now standing in front of her. Her gaze moved from the expensive shoes, to the business clothes, up to face that had captivated her from the first moment she had seen it, to meet the eyes glaring down at her.

Maan Singh Khurana.

She quickly wrapped her dupatta around herself, her heart beating furiously in her chest. She slowly got up, just like one would do in front of a predator one was hoping wouldn’t pounce. “Babaji, please save me,” she murmured, waiting for the explosion she could see was impending.

“Geet Didi, why were you hugging daddy?” Rahul’s voice piped out from behind Maan’s imposing figure. Maan crossed his arms over his chest, and raised an eyebrow at her, waiting for a response.

“I wasn’t hugging him!” Geet protested nervously. “I caught him,” she told Rahul, defending her actions. “He’s it now.”

Maan moved back a step at that assertion, his arms falling to his sides. A look of confusion appeared on his face.

“Confusion is better than anger,” Geet quietly assured herself. She took a deep breath, trying to calm her jumpy nerves.

“Daddy will play with us?” Rahul gasped happily, staring at his father. There was a hope in his eyes, but Geet could also see a hint of uncertainty, as if he couldn’t quite believe in Geet’s words. “But … what will we use to cover his eyes?” he asked, turning to glance at Geet questioningly.

Geet held up her dupatta. “We can use this.” The two turned to look at the still silent figure standing in front of them. As the silence continued, Geet hesitantly began to move forward, offering the dupatta to the silent man.

“Miss Handa!” Maan barked out, angered beyond belief. Geet jumped, pulling back at that loud burst of noise. He took a deep breath, visibly trying to calm himself, but it didn’t work. Geet could see the sparks flying in his eyes. She stood there, the dupatta half raised, her eyes mesmerized by the show of emotion in those eyes.

Here it comes,’ she thought fatalistically, seeing him open his mouth. She hunched her shoulders slightly, preparing herself for the onslaught. She felt a warm body sidle up to her side and someone clutch at her hand. She glanced down to see the worried look in Rahul’s eyes, as he gazed at his father. Geet squeezed Rahul’s hand reassuringly before turning back to the angered man in front of her.

“Maan beta, you’re home.” His grandmother’s voice was warm and happy, and the much needed distraction the pair needed to make their lucky escape. Maan turned to gaze at his grandmother, who had just come into the hallway. “We’ve missed you. Especially Rahul … where did he go?”

While the angry man’s attention was diverted, Geet ran, pulling Rahul behind her. Babaji was with her, and they made a clean escape. No masculine voice demanded their return. Running around the corner, the two rested against a wall for a moment, getting their breath back. Rahul’s hand tugged at Geet’s, calling for her attention. Geet gazed down at him and tried to give the young boy a reassuring smile.

“Daddy doesn’t like to play, Geet didi,” Rahul whispered confidingly.

“Now he tells me,” she said, her eyes raised to the ceiling, as she began to laugh softly.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Geet ran, gazing around frantically. Her heart beat fiercely. Her breath was short. She forced herself to stop for a moment, placing a hand over her fiercely beating heart, trying to calm it down. It didn’t work.

“You can’t catch me!” Rahul’s voice crowed, as he darted past her.

“Rahul Khurana! I am going to get you if it’s the last thing I do. And watch out for that arm!” Geet shouted out after him, resuming the hunt once more. The two were playing a combination of hide and seek and tag; had been playing it for the past half hour. “I’m getting too old for this, Babaji,” Geet muttered to herself, as she looked into another empty room. “Where are you?!” she shouted out, expecting no answer.

She heard the sound of a child’s joyful laughter. She smiled helplessly, gladdened by that noise. It had been two weeks since Maan’s return, and she’d spent that week trying to avoid her boss.

Despite that avoidance, in that time she had come to realize there was a distance between father and son that greatly disturbed her. She didn’t understand it; she didn’t understand why there were no impromptu shows of affections or roughhousing that was usually common in a father and son pair. He didn’t carry Rahul around on his shoulders or really spend much time with him at all.

Whenever the great Maan Singh Khurana sat down at the dining table for breakfast and dinner with the family, he largely ignored Rahul and Rahul’s nanny. She could see the love the man felt for his grandmother; it was in the respect he gave the older woman and the warmth of his voice. It was in the small smiles he allowed himself around his grandmother. But for Rahul … for Rahul he had instructions given in a monotone most of the time. He had even more warmth for her than he did for the younger boy, but that wasn’t really saying a lot. She might as well not exist for all the attention he didn’t give her. She sighed softly, regretting the absence of something that she didn’t even understand herself.

Even though he could be soft, none of that softness came his son’s way. She knew the little boy loved his father. Rahul adored Maan and wanted to be just like him, to the point that he had begun to wear miniature versions of the vests his father wore to the office. But there was no paternal acknowledgement of Rahul’s efforts. She shook her head. It really was troubling.

“Rahul Khurana, it’s time to stop playing now! Stop running around like a chicken without its head. You’ll bump into someone and get hurt!” Her only response was his laughter.

Running around a corner and muttering to herself, she failed to take notice of the body standing in her way. She slammed into a hard male figure, and, even before the arms had wrapped around her waist to prevent her from falling, she knew whose arms she was going to be in. It was that same hardness, same warmth, same scent that had intoxicated her last time. Her heart, already working double time, began to beat faster, forcing her to take quick breaths.

“Stop it,” she whispered to herself, her gaze locked with his. Rahul had the same chocolate brown eyes, but the look in these chocolate brown eyes felt as if it was stripping her soul bare. She shivered slightly, her hands, which had landed on his broad shoulders, clenched tightly as she fought to quell the burst of emotions that had arisen due to his proximity.

“That is something I should be saying to you, Miss Handa,” came the sardonic reply.

Geet wrinkled her brow in confusion. She could hear music in the air. A rhythm that resounded with the beat of her own heart.

“Your cellphone is ringing, Ms. Handa,” her boss pointed out, brusquely standing her up. Geet merely blinked at him, while her ringtone blared out in the background.

“Miss Handa?” he said again, snapping his fingers in front of her face.

“Right,” Geet murmured distractedly, pulling herself back from wherever her mind had slipped off to. Glancing at the phone, she silenced it and turned her attention back to him “I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t know that you would be standing right here when I turned the corner.” Her tone was a bit accusatory, and she frowned slightly, stepping back even further. “I didn’t mea—”

“It doesn’t matter what you meant to do or not,” he said, interrupting. “Don’t let it happen again. I would suggest you make it a policy not to run around in the house like a headless chicken.” Stating that, he turned around and walked down the hallway.

“But how else are we supposed to play tag?” she called out to his retreating figure.

He paused for a moment at that question. “You’re not,” he replied and then began to move once more.

“Wait. Was that a joke? A joke from that humorless man? No, it couldn’t be,” she muttered to herself, her gaze still trained on the retreating figure. “Wait! Sir! I wanted to ask you if …” He had turned the corner. “I wanted to ask you if we could go on a field trip,” she muttered to herself. Hitting herself lightly on the head, she began to walk in the same direction he had taken. “Stop spacing out whenever he’s around. I didn’t know you could be so ditzy and clumsy,” she scolded herself. “He hasn’t noticed anything yet, but what if he did? How can you even think about something like that when …”

“Geet didi! I’m tired of hiding. Come and find me in my room!” Rahul’s voice was cranky, and just the thing she needed to take her mind off of her growing attraction to this child’s father.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Rahul, please get off the desk,” Geet gently admonished the little boy. They were at Khurana Constructions for their field trip, and Geet was suitably impressed. The company had its own building, with a lot of offices, a big staff, conference halls and a cafeteria. Pinky would have loved that convenience.

She sighed, feeling a bit lost looking around this huge place. It brought home the fact that she lived in an entirely different world from the man that owned that mansion and this business. She shook her head. When had there been any hope?

“We’re in your father’s office right now, and you have to behave like your daddy, right? Would your daddy sit on a desk?”

Rahul nodded. “I’ve seen him sit on desks,” he confirmed brightly. “Doesn’t he, Adi Uncle? He does it all the time.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say all the time,” Adi said weakly, laughing nervously. “And he doesn’t really sit,” he continued trying to be helpful. “He kind of leans on the desk.”

“Right, but he’s the boss,” Geet quickly responded. “Are you the boss?”

“I will be the boss,” Rahul replied, his bottom lip sticking out in a pout, crossing his arms over his small chest. The little boy looked exactly like his father. With a black vest over his white, short-sleeved shirt and black dress pants. It was a new outfit that he’d recently asked for and was proudly wearing today, so that he could do his father proud.

“But, there can only be one boss, and that’s your daddy. Right now you’re a mere underling,” Geet calmly reasoned.

“Like Adi Uncle?” he asked.

Geet winced and then nodded, smiling apologetically at Adi before turning back to the little boy.

“Right,” Rahul said energetically, jumping down from the desk. Geet quickly moved forward to help him, worried about his arm. They’d just gotten the cast taken off yesterday, and she didn’t want there to be another mishap. “Can we now see my daddy’s office?” he asked, turning to look at Adi.

“Rahul,” Geet reminded him.

“Please,” Rahul added, and Geet smiled at him approvingly.

When Savitri Devi had suggested that the two go to Khurana Constructions instead of going to a museum, Geet had been hesitant, not wanting to be around Maan Singh Khurana more than she had to.

“I’ve been trying to ask Maan Sir if I can take Rahul on a field trip,” Geet explained in frustration to Savitri Devi. “But he never seems to have time to listen to me. I think that it’s very important that we start Rahul’s cultural and social education at the same time as I teach him his letters and numbers. He should be going to museums and parks, where he can meet other children.”

“Why don’t you first take him to Maan beta’s office?” Dadi Ma had asked smilingly. “Rahul would love that. He’s always wanted to go, and this is the perfect time to introduce him to the Khurana business. Who knows? He might want to work there one day.”

“Maan Sir’s office?” Geet asked in a choked voice.

“Yes,” Savitri Devi said with a nod.

“But, I haven’t even asked Maan Sir if we can go on a field trip!” Geet protested, staring at the older woman. “I’m sure he wouldn’t like a young child around when he’s working,” she’d added worriedly.

“I’ll take care of it,” Savitri Devi had promised calmly.

“But … his office? Shouldn’t I ask him first?” Geet had insisted, thinking about the last time she’d seen him. In her efforts to avoid the man, she’d hidden in a dusty storage room and heard him shouting at some hapless employee. She shuddered slightly, not wanting to be that employee sometime in the near future.

“Geet beta,” Savitri Devi said, “I’ll take care of it. You can take Rahul tomorrow.” There was a finality in her tone that Geet could not contradict.

Seeing the fun that Rahul was having made her glad that she had listened to the matriarch of the Khurana family.

“A-are you sure that Dadi Ma has talked to M-Maan Sir?” Adi asked nervously, glancing at Geet with worry in her eyes. “It’s just that I didn’t receive any kind of instructions regarding this when Maan S-sir left for his meeting. If he comes back and finds you two here without his permission …” his voice trailed off, his face paling as he imagined how his boss would react.

“Adi Jeeja Ji,” Geet interjected with a smile, “Dadi Ma said that she would take care of it, so she’ll have taken care of it. There won’t be a problem at all,” she said confidently.

The trio walked into Maan Singh Khurana’s office, and stared around the big room. Rahul ran up to the desk and traced the intricate work on the desk, before going around and sitting in his father’s chair. Geet smiled when the boy began to whirl around in the swivel chair.

“I’ll get you two some refreshments,” Adi said, from the doorway. “Don’t break anything,” he cautioned, before turning to leave.

“Be careful,” she cautioned Rahul, coming to stand by the chair. Rahul stopped the chair and stared at the items on the desk. His eyes moved over the computer monitor, the keyboard and the empty crystal vase before zeroing in on the pictures at the corner of the desk. His lip began to quiver. Turning the chair around, he stared at the back wall of the office, a frown appearing on his face.

“What’s the matter?” Geet asked in concern, kneeling down beside the boy.

Rahul shook his head, refusing to look at Geet.

Geet gently touched his chin, and brought his face around toward her. “Tell me,” she encouraged him.

“Daddy doesn’t have a picture of me on his desk,” he said finally. “Look,” he ordered, pointing over his shoulder. “There’s a picture of Dadi Ma,” he said. “There’s one of Annie Auntie and Arjun Uncle. And one of even Kamya Auntie and her family, and she is so annoying! But none of me,” he finished in a hurt tone.

Geet was quite for a moment, staring at the spot where Rahul’s photo should have been. She cleared her throat. “Do you know, I have pictures of my cousins on my walls at home,” she began.

“See! You even love your cousins more than my daddy loves me,” Rahul cried out, growing agitated.

Geet bit her lip, surprised at this reaction.  Would a child who had grown up in a secure, happy and loving household react like this? There was something wrong going on here.

“You didn’t let me finish,” she rebuked him gently. “I have pictures of my cousins on my bedroom walls, but I don’t have any pictures of my parents there. I keep their pictures in my purse,” she finished. Picking up her purse, she pulled out her wallet and showed Rahul the picture of her parents. “You see, the ones that are nearest and dearest to our hearts, we like to keep them close by. What do you want to bet that your father has a picture of you in his wallet?”

A hopeful light had appeared in Rahul’s eyes. “Really?”

Geet nodded with a big smile. The two gazed at each other for a moment. “Now, smile for me,” she ordered. Rahul complied. The two jumped as they heard a loud crash outside.

“I’m s-so s-s-sorry s-sir,” Adi cried out. Geet and Rahul raced to the door and peeked outside.

“What are you doing carting around juice and milk, Adi?” Maan roared. “And I told you to work on the Malhotra project. What are you doing taking a break right now?”

“T-t-these w-weren’t f-for me, S-sir,” Adi finally got out with difficulty. “You have g-guests,” he said, motioning to the two silent spectators in the doorway. He stepped back, not wanting to intrude, when Maan turned around.

Maan stared at the woman and child he hadn’t expected to see here. He paused for a moment, caught by the worried look in her eyes. His lips tightened, angry with himself for reacting to Geet’s presence. The innocence in her eyes and the purity of her expressions affected him somehow. It was hard enough to be around her during the meals she shared with the family, but to see her here, in the office? Ever since he had hired her, she had been in his thoughts and that wasn’t something he wanted to see happen. Not again. And because of that unnerving reaction, he was harsher than he should have been.

“What are you two doing here?” he demanded, staring at them balefully. “This isn’t a playground,” he told his son. “You shouldn’t be here. Go home right now,” he ordered.

Rahul’s lower lip began to quiver once more, and Geet winced to see her hard work going down the drain. The little boy rushed past his father and down the hallway. Maan tightened his lips once more and made for his office, brushing past a silently bristling Geet.

“Adi Jeeja Ji, could you please take care of Rahul?” Geet asked courteously, before shutting the door behind her, closing her in with that man.

Sitting down behind his desk, he gazed at the woman that had come to stand in front of his desk.

“What is wrong with you?” she exploded, folding her arms over her chest. “How could you … to such a little boy …” she took a deep breath. “Babaji, please give me strength.”

“Go home, Miss Handa,” Maan ordered, before forcing himself to turn his attention to the papers in front of him. It was disconcerting how hard that was. “I don’t have time for your ramblings.”

“That little boy loves you!” Geet burst out. “And you just broke his heart!” Geet said, pointing in the direction that Rahul had gone.

“Let’s not overreact,” Maan said dryly, sitting back in his chair. “I didn’t have you pegged as being so overdramatic.”

“Do you have any idea how much that little boy adores you? And you … what is wrong with you?”

“Miss Handa,” Maan said coldly, standing up to glare at the impudent woman, “You’re overstepping your bounds.”

“You hired me to take care of your son,” she replied, glaring at the man. Raising her chin, she silently dared him to do something about it. “And I care both about his physical and emotional well-being.” She began to pace in front of his desk, trying to gather her thoughts before letting loose with all of her worries.

“Miss Handa,” he said with a sigh, not knowing why he was being so patient with this woman. If it had been any other employee, they would have been fired by now. He moved around the desk to go to her. Grasping her by the upper arm, reluctantly noticing how soft her skin was, he forced her to stop.

“You don’t hug Rahul,” Geet blurted out. Maan gazed at her mutely. “Forget about hugging,” she continued, “but you don’t even touch him. Where is the affection … that relationship that a father and son should have?” she demanded, gazing into his eyes. Maan merely tightened his lips and raised an eyebrow at her.

“Don’t raise your eyebrow at me,” Geet said frustration, poking at him with the finger of her free hand. “He wants to be just like you,” she continued. “He talks like you. He walks like you. He behaves and dresses like you. And do you have any idea how hard it is to have him say please and thank you when the man he idealizes doesn’t?” she demanded from the silent man, pulling away to pace once more.

“That is your job,” Maan got out through gritted teeth. His patience had quickly faded away at the continued presumption of this woman.

“He wanted to come here today, because he wants to work here one day. He wants to be a boss of Khurana Constructions, Just like his daddy,” Geet said softly. “And then, when he came here, what does he see? Pictures from which he is specifically excluded?” Geet asked, pointing at the frames on the desk.

Maan stared at the photo frames, distracted for a moment before turning back to glare at the woman that continued to rant in front of him. The fiery anger and resentment began to grow inside of him. How dare this woman talk like this to him? She was a mere employee! What right did she have to say things that no one had dared to say? What right? What did she know? He clenched his hands, trying to rein in his anger. He knew that if he let loose with the anger that had been roiling inside of him for such a long time, it would be destructive. And he didn’t want to hurt this woman. He just wanted her to shut up!

“Answer me,” Geet demanded. “You love him, right? I’m sure you love him. Maybe you just don’t know how to show it,” she said, stopping in front of him. She gazed at him closely. “You must love him. He’s your son.”

“That’s just it, Miss Handa,” Maan said hoarsely, the words forcing themselves out past the knot that had grown in his throat.

“What’s just it?” Geet snapped back, frowning at the man in front of her in confusion.

“Maybe I don’t love him,” he said ruthlessly, forcing himself to change tack.

Geet fell back at the shock from that revelation, disappointed beyond belief by his words. Why did she care so much? What did it matter? Why had she expected any more from him? He was a horrible, horrible man. She swallowed, trying to dislodge the lump that had grown in her throat.

“What kind of man are you?” she asked.

There was a long silence between the two. Tears appeared in Geet’s eyes, as she tried to grapple with the cold reality of this man.

“How can you … how can you not love your own flesh and blood?” She looked at him as if he was scum, as if he was something that had crawled out from under a rock.

“But you see, he’s not,” he replied, tired of the accusations her eyes were throwing at him. He was tired of the hurt he saw in her eyes. What right did she have to be hurt?

“Not what?” Geet asked helplessly, beginning to turn away. She was no longer interested in his words. What did she care about what he said next? Her poor Rahul. No wonder he was so insecure and unhappy. No wonder he was so desperate for his father’s approval.

“Rahul isn’t my flesh and blood,” he ground out, angry at himself for this defense.

Geet whirled around to stare at him, shocked to the core by his words.

“He’s the product of one of the many affairs my wife had before she left us, Miss Handa.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Chapter 5: A Day in the Life Of…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

All was silent in the library, where they had retreated to grapple with this situation. The near-silent tears of the young girl sitting on the couch shattered the dead quiet. Maan, Vicky and Savitri Devi watched the young girl weep, helpless in the face of her grief.

Maan clenched his hands in anger, wanting to hit Dev right now. They needed to quickly deal with the situation before it exploded in their faces. Seeing Naintara’s grief, Maan was glad that this was the one place that he hadn’t allowed the girls to decorate, claiming it as his own sanctuary. It was the only place that held no sign of the wedding revelries. He sighed. The only thing bridal about this room was the bride herself.

“How could he do this to my sister?” Arjun demanded, from his position on the couch, next to his sister. A supportive arm was wrapped around Naintara’s shaking shoulders. “That bastard broke Naintara’s heart.”

“Believe me,” Maan said through gritted teeth, “I don’t even know how this happened. It was unexpected to us all.”

Naintara mumbled something.

“What did you say?” Arjun asked, turning to stare at his sister.

“It was that girl,” Naintara spat out, glaring through her tears. “She was always hanging around us. I knew she loved Dev. She took him away from me.”

“What girl?” Maan demanded, his thoughts racing back to what Dev had said to him in the weeks leading up to his wedding. Had there been some hint that he had missed?

“Meera. She loved Dev. I can tell you with all certainty that he is with her right now. Dev would never have the courage to do this all on his own,” she said, allowing the cynicism to escape from behind her grief-stricken façade for a moment. Hiding her face in her hands, she began to cry once more, this time loudly sobbing.

“Dadi Ma,” Maan cried out, racing to his swaying grandmother. He quickly helped her into a chair, not wanting her to injure herself. He stared at the new lines on her face, frowning at the affect Dev’s defection had had on his grandmother.

This woman had stepped in and raised Maan, Vicky and Annie after their own father had screwed up their lives and died, taking their mother along with him. The young children, orphaned so suddenly, had found refuge in their loving grandmother’s arms. She loved Dev and Kamya, even though these two were her son and his mistress’s children. His grandmother, the woman he respected and revered above all else, didn’t deserve the pain that Dev’s actions would bring her. The shock of the aborted wedding was now affecting her health and Maan felt helpless to see her deterioration.

Vicky raced over with a glass of water, and Maan helped her drink the liquid. “Dadi Ma,” Maan said entreatingly, “I will take care of this. Don’t take it so much to heart.”

“Maan beta, did Dev ever say anything to you?” his grandmother got out, gazing into her beloved grandson’s eyes. “Was there any way we could have prevented this?”

“Dev never said anything to me,” Maan said forthrightly. “At least, nothing concrete.” He glanced at Vicky questioningly.

“I swear to you, Maan bhai,” Vicky said earnestly, “I didn’t know about any of this. I thought he was happy. I mean, he loved Naintara! He was always following her around campus like a lovesick puppy. I don’t know what changed.” He shook his head in confusion. “He was the one that wanted to marry her in the first place.”

Maan got up and strode over to Naintara and gently grasped her by the shoulders. Helping her to stand, he stared into her eyes. “Believe me, Naintara. This will not affect you in any way. I promise you. This … all of this will not harm the Rathod name. If anything, Dev’s actions have blackened the Khurana name.” He gently squeezed Naintara’s hands. “I will take care of it all. You don’t have to worry about anything.”

“How can I not worry?” Naintara cried out, clutching at Maan’s hands, refusing to let him go. “How can I pretend like nothing happened, not when …” her voice trailed off.

“What are you trying to say, Naintara?” Arjun growled, getting up and turning this sister to face him. He stared into her eyes, his lips tightening at what he saw there.

Maan pulled back, a coldness seeping through him as he half-guessed the words that were to fall from Naintara’s lips.

“Main pregnant hoon,” she whispered to her brother. “I’m pregnant,” she repeated, turning to gaze imploringly at Maan.

Vicky gasped at that revelation.

“I’m pregnant with Dev’s child,” she said.

Maan felt the world receding for a moment, tilting on its axis. It was only as Vicky’s hand grasped his arm in support, did he realize that he had stumbled. He, Maan Singh Khurana had stumbled at a woman’s words.

He squared his shoulders. He was Maan Singh Khurana. Never had a Khurana shirked his duty. He wasn’t like Dev. He wouldn’t let down his name or his blood.

“Maan beta,” came Dadi Ma’s voice. Maan went and knelt down beside her chair. She stared into his eyes sadly and then nodded, finding the answer she had expected to see there. Maan got up, staring at the weeping girl one more. She was crying into her brother’s shoulder, hiding her face and her shame from the rest of the world.

He took a deep breath and raised a foot to step forward. He was jerked back by a desperate hand on his arm.

“Maan bhai, no,” Vicky protested. “Don’t do this. You don’t have to. I’m here.”

Maan shook his head resolutely. “It’s my duty. I’m the oldest.”

“But bhai,” Vicky began as Maan stepped away, making his way to Naintara. “What about Sameera?”

…………………

‘What about Sameera?’

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maan jerked up, his heart beating furiously. Staring at the clock, he saw that it was about time to get up. Settling back against the headboard, he reached over and picked up the glass of water on the nightstand next to his bed. Swiftly swallowing, he then forced his locked muscles to relax one by one.

That same old memory. It was something that he could suppress during his waking hours, but it made itself known while he was asleep and vulnerable, insidiously stealing into his dreams and transforming them into nightmares. He frowned lightly, reaching over to place the empty glass on the nightstand.

Resting against the headboard once more, he allowed his thoughts to wander. They focused on that fateful night once more. He’d believed that young girl, not knowing the bitterness and ambition she hid behind her grief. He’d stepped forward, without a second thought, knowing his duty. Only, Naintara had never been pregnant.

It took some time and Naintara’s own drunken confession to make him realize that she’d only wanted the Khurana name. Even if Dev had gotten away, she’d had two other brothers to choose from. She’d succeeded in her goals. But when she found that she couldn’t twist Maan around her finger the way she could Dev, Naintara had turned around and tried to hurt him in the one way she knew she could get to him. By besmirching the Khurana name. The entire family had been a witness to her spiral into degradation. Her scandalous behavior had caused Dadi’s heart attack. The only good thing about that marriage had been that he had saved Vicky from being in his position. Well, that and …

When Naintara found out that she was really pregnant, she’d changed. Not for Dev or Maan or the Khurana name. She had changed for her baby. No more late nights. No more alcohol or designer drugs. No more causing scandals and appearing in the gossip columns of major newspapers. She’d stayed home, taken care of herself, and prepared for her baby. It was a side of Naintara he’d never expected to see, and the root of that change had been her baby. Someone that would have been a part of her, and someone she seemed to cherish.

Maan’s ruminations were disturbed by the soft chan-chan-chan of payals. There was only one person that wore such adornments in this house. Geet was here. In the privacy of his thoughts, he allowed himself the right to call her Geet. A small reluctant smile played on his lips.

“Rahul, wake up! It’s 7:30 A.M., and you said that you wanted to get up early today. Remember?” She spoke playfully, and he heard the trill of her laughter. It made him want to get up and join in the fun. He forced himself to stay seated, staring at the wall that his room shared with Rahul’s. ‘What is wrong with you?’ he berated himself silently. ‘Haven’t you already learned your lesson?

“You wanted to eat breakfast with your daddy,” he heard Geet’s voice call out encouragingly to his son. He knew that Rahul had a hard time getting up in the mornings, and Geet had a hard task before here. But, breakfast. He glanced at the clock and quickly got up. He had a morning business meeting, and no time to waste on one disruptive girl.

At the breakfast table, Maan finally set down his newspaper and focused on the food. He had gotten to the table late, and had immediately picked up the newspaper in order to avoid looking at the woman who captivated him far too often for his own comfort. Sighing at the mountain of food in front of him, he began to eat. His grandmother had made his favorites this morning with her own hands, and he didn’t want to disappoint her with a flagging appetite.

Seeing movement out of the corner of his eye, he turned to gaze at the two sitting across the table from him. Geet’s movements had caught his eye, as she wrapped her dupatta around herself securely. His eyebrows rose at that. The girl was already covered from head to toe, and yet she made sure to wrap that dupatta around herself, as well. For a moment, he allowed himself to wonder what she would look like in a dress, but quickly shook his head impatiently. Food. He needed to focus on the food.

“Maan beta, when will you be coming home today?” Dadi Ma asked. “And the rest of the week?”

Maan turned to look at her. “Do you have anything planned, Dadi Ma?” he asked politely.

“Not particularly,” Dadi Ma quickly said. “I just wanted to know your schedule for this week. Forget that,” she said suddenly, glancing at Rahul and Geet before turning back to look at Maan inquisitively. “Will you be at your office during lunchtime tomorrow?” she asked him with a smile.

Maan’s attention was caught by the sound of giggles from across the table. The two were too far away, at the other end of the table, for him to hear what they were talking about, but he wanted to know what Rahul found so funny.

He’d missed this closeness with Rahul. Where had their easy relationship gone? He missed his son coming to sleep in his bed at night. He missed Rahul coming to wake him up in the morning, jumping on Maan’s bed until he awakened to play with him for a few precious minutes before Maan had to go off to work. That was the reason why Rahul’s room was next to his. That was the reason why there were connecting doors between their rooms, but Rahul had stopped coming to his room months ago.

When had everything changed? And who would have thought that he would miss it so much? He sat back, cradling his cup of black coffee in his hands. Taking a sip, he thought back to the moment that Naintara had burst into the library to tell him that she was pregnant. It was ironic that she had chosen the exact same location for that kind of confession. But this time, when Naintara had confessed, he hadn’t cared. Naintara’s behavior had soured him on everything that had to do with her. He’d wanted nothing to do with her or her baby.

But Naintara had died giving birth to her child. When the nurse at the hospital had put Naintara’s child into his arms, he’d felt his heart lurch. It had moved him to see a child so helpless and vulnerable entrusted into his care. ‘This baby has no one else; he only has you,’ he’d thought to himself. When the baby had grasped his finger with all of his might, he’d grabbed a hold of Maan’s heart. And from that moment, for all intents and purposes, he was Rahul’s father. And no one knew differently, besides Dadi Ma and Vicky.

Watching Rahul giggle once more, he smiled lightly, being careful to hide that smile behind his coffee cup. He’d named that child. He’d loved him. Taken care of him and stayed up nights with him when he’d sickened. The first thing he’d done, after Rahul’s birth, was to move his nursery next door to his room so that this child would always feel close to him.

He sighed softly, his heart aching for a moment. It could only ever ache for his grandmother or Rahul now. That loving relationship between Rahul and him had disappeared. Something had happened, and no matter how hard he tried to talk to Rahul about it, he couldn’t find out what the problem was. Whenever he tried, Rahul would hide or cry or run away. There came a time when Dadi told him to back off, and Maan just found it easier to put off that all important discussion until next time.

He slammed down his cup. Why had it taken him so long to figure out that something was wrong, he silently berated himself. Rahul had deserved more attention than that.

“Maan beta,” Dadi Ma said softly. “I asked you a question.”

Maan stared at her blankly, and then found his gaze moving back to the two laughing across the table from him.

“Will you be at your office during lunchtime tomorrow?” Dadi repeated patiently.

“Yes, Dadi Ma. Why?” he asked.

“I might send over a surprise for you,” she said with a conspiratorial smile.

“What kind of …?” he began, but was interrupted by the ringing of his phone. It was Adi. “I’m sorry, Dadi Ma, I’ll see you tonight. I’ve been waiting for this call,” he said in quick explanation before making his way to the door.

Getting to the doorway, he struggled with himself for a moment before turning back to glance at the trio still sitting at the table. Geet and Rahul were giggling once more, and Dadi Ma sat there, smiling benevolently over the two.

He’d made the right decision that day. Despite the unwanted attraction he had felt for this woman when they’d touched fingers over an unwanted glass of milk, he’d know instinctively that she was exactly what his son needed after the debacle of that last nanny. Seeing the smile on his son’s face, he knew that his instincts had been spot on.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maan’s fingers worked furiously over the keyboard, as he stared intently at the computer screen in front of him. It was 6:00 P.M., and while the office day had ended, there was still a ton of work to be done before the next day. Mentally running over the meetings he had for the next day, he opened up a new word document and composed a memo for Adi, ensuring that he would remember what he wanted to tell the man when he called.

Chan-chan-chan. His fingers froze over the keyboard. Chan-chan-chan. He closed his eyes in frustration when his heart reacted to the noise of those damned payals. What was she still doing here? Geet’s was scheduled to work from Rahul’s waking to 5:30 P.M. He had gotten used to timing it so that he didn’t have to see her beyond the breakfast table. Besides, the times that he was home during the day, Geet invariably ended up landing in his arms due to one bout of clumsiness or another. He hated how those moments made him feel so bothered for some time afterward.

There was the sound of that feminine, throaty laughter that always got under his skin. He sighed softly, leaning back. Not like he was going to get any more work done until she left.

“Rahul, be careful,” he heard Geet say sharply. Standing up, he moved to his bedroom window, and realized the two were on the verandah below. He could see their feet sticking out from under the awning. What were they doing here? It was raining, gently, but still. That couldn’t be good for Rahul.

“Now that the cast is no longer around your arm, what do you want to do?” he heard Geet ask.

“Didi, let’s play in the rain,” Rahul said, reaching out an inquisitive hand to the raindrops falling over the awning and down in a waterfall in front of the two. It was the arm that had only recently been freed from the cast.

Maan winced. Today had been the day Rahul’s cast was going to come off. He should have been there, he thought to himself, striking the windowsill. The old Rahul would have demanded he go.

You wanted to eat breakfast with your daddy.” He remembered Geet’s voice saying the words. Was that why Rahul had wanted to eat breakfast with him, hoping that he would remember? Hoping that he would want to go? Was he attributing too much to a 5-year-old boy? Was he over thinking all of this? But no, it didn’t matter what Rahul wanted. He was the father, and he should have been there when his son’s cast came off.

“Rahul, no, you’ll catch a cold,” Geet said firmly, pulling his hand back in. “Isn’t it enough that I’m allowing you to get your feet wet?” she demanded. Maan smiled at the sharp worry in her voice.

“Then, what’s wrong with having my hands out in the rain?” Rahul asked plaintively.

“Rahul,” Geet said warningly and Rahul subsided immediately, pouting at the quick refusal. “Well, I guess a hand wouldn’t hurt,” Geet said. Maan could practically hear the smile in her voice. “Hey! No sprinkling your didi,” Geet protested, laughing softly. “You remind me so much of my cousins,” she finally said in a low voice, after there had been a long silence.

Maan unconsciously moved forward, stumbling when he hit the wall. He shook his head at his own clumsiness, but then turned back to eavesdropping.

“Rajji and Titu,” she continued reminiscing. “We used to love playing in the rain. Although we really didn’t get to do it often,” she said wistfully.

“Didi, you’re a grownup,” Rahul said in surprise. “Even you didn’t get to play in the rain when you wanted? Why?”

“Because Rajji and I were girls,” she replied softly. “And Titu … well, Titu had some problems. He couldn’t get his leg wet.”

“Why not?” Rahul demanded.

“He had a condition. He also got sick too easily.”

“Oh,” Rahul said and then paused. “Where are they right now, Didi?”

“Far away,” Geet said. “So far away that I don’t think that I can ever see them again.” There was a moment of silence.

“Didi?” Rahul asked hesitantly.

“Hmm?” Geet said softly.

“You’re crying, Didi.”

“Oh,” Geet murmured in surprise. “I just miss them. Just like I’m sure you miss your mom.”

Maan frowned at those words. His lips tightened and he straightened, ready to go downstairs and stop this course of conversation.

“Oh, I don’t miss my mom,” Rahul replied matter-of-factly. “I never knew her. Daddy said she went to heaven, but that she is always watching over me.”

“Oh,” came Geet’s subdued reply.

“But I do miss Uncle Vicky,” Rahul said plaintively. “And Annie Auntie.” Maan closed his eyes at that revelation. How could he explain their absence to a young child when he didn’t understand himself? Turning to stare down at the little hand getting wet in the rain, he willed it to move on and forget about this subject.

“Rahul, promise me something,” Geet said suddenly in a serious tone.

“What?” Rahul asked in a suspicious tone.

“What’s with that tone, mister?” Geet demanded.

There was a sudden burst of giggles. “Stop tickling me, Geet Didi!”

“When have I done anything that would make you doubt me?” Geet protested.

“My nanny used to make me promise stuff that I didn’t like,” Rahul confessed.

“Like what?” Geet demanded.

“She used to tell me to hide and made me promise not to come out unless she found me. She never found me. Not like you do.”

“What?!”

“Or she’d tell me to hide from daddy.”

Maan fell back at that revelation. His mind began to work furiously, and he began to make sense of the change in Rahul. This had all started when she had come to work for him! This had all started when she became Rahul’s nanny. He sighed deeply, trying to control the maelstrom of emotions inside of him.

“And then, she told me something and made me promise that I would never tell it to daddy.” Rahul’s voice broke on the last words.

“What was it?” Geet asked softly.

Maan leaned forward, wanting to know the answer, as well. Would he finally find out what had changed his son from the loving young boy he used to know?

Rrriinnnngggg. Rrriinnnngggg. Rrriinnnngggg. Rrriinnnngggg. Maan cursed softly, turning to glare at the offensive intrusion. Turning it off without checking, he came back to stand next to the window. But it was already too late. Something, maybe the ringing of his cellphone, had scared the two off. They were gone. He clenched his hands, wondering what Rahul had been about to say.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

…………………

“Rahul isn’t my flesh and blood,” he ground out, angry with himself for this defense.

Geet whirled around to stare at him, shocked to the core by his words.

“He’s the product of one of the many affairs my wife had before she left us, Miss Handa.” The words resounded in the air between them, as the two gazed at each other in shock. Maan was the one to look away first.

Geet stared at him, shocked at the words. “How could you just …?” she asked, trailing off in confusion. “I’m almost a stranger, Mr. Maan Singh Khurana,” Geet said tightly, “How could you tell me your son’s biggest secret like that? Is it some kind of joke to you?” she demanded angrily, striding over to slam a hand down on his desk.

Maan fell back into his chair, shocked by the words that had left his mouth. He ran a hand over his face, wondering how he had let the words slip out. His frustration with the way the day had been going, seeing Adi goof off and then … the pictures on his desk. They were no excuse. When had he gotten so sensitive? What had he been thinking? How could he have revealed such a thing to this woman? How could he betray his son like that?

What is wrong with me?’ he silently wondered to himself, his eyes meeting the eyes of the woman standing in front of him, Those eyes demanded answers.

“You will not tell anyone what I told you today,” Maan barked at her, making her jump at the loudness of his tone. “Forget it.” He glared at her, before turning his gaze away. His eyes were caught once more by the photos on his desk. Reaching over, he brusquely put them face down on the desk. Picking up the phone, he ordered the temp to come inside.

“Take these and throw them away,” he said, pointing at the offensive pictures. Geet’s eyes widened when she realized he was throwing away his family pictures. She sat down; her mind worked furiously, as she wondered what she should do next.

Maan glared at her balefully. The only reason the truth had come out was because it was her. A part of him had begun to trust her. “Leave, Miss Handa,” he barked at her, not wanting to face that unpalatable truth.

She gazed back at him impassively, her head tilted to the side. “Let me see your wallet,” she demanded suddenly, throwing him off.

“What?” he asked in confusion.

“Your wallet.”

“No,” he replied, turning his attention to the files in front of him. There was silence from the other side of the desk. Finally, looking up, he met her gaze.

“Your son is heartbroken,” she said softly. His lips tightened. “I know that he’s not your blood, but he’s still your son. He loves you! Let me see your wallet. Please.”

It was the please that did it. His hand, as if it had a life of its own, went into his pocket and pulled out the wallet, quietly handing it to her.

Geet opened it hesitantly and began to look through it. She didn’t have to look far. Smiling triumphantly, she turned the open wallet to face him. There was a picture of Dadi Ma and Rahul staring back at him. “You do love him!”

“I never said I didn’t,” he lied.

“You did! You just …” She took a deep breath. “That’s not important right now. You love him. I just needed to verify that.” She took a deep breath. “Last night Rahul said something to me that I think you should know. I’m sure you don’t know. I mean if you did, why would you just let this situation go on like this,” she said, beginning to ramble. “I mean, I’m sure you’re just being a bad father right now. I’m sure you’re not one of those evil fathers that we see on TV.”

“Miss Handa!” Maan growled at her. Geet stopped, staring at him wide eyes. “Take a deep breath,” he ordered. Geet took a deep breath. “Now, get to the point.”

“Right,” she muttered. “Did you know that your last nanny, that … woman,” she spat out, “told your son that he was not your son? Did you know that Rahul has known all of this time and has agonized over the fact that you weren’t his father? He’s deathly afraid that he’s going to lose you, too, Maan Singh Khurana,” she finished softly.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“I’m going to kill Sameera.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

13 thoughts on “FFY 01 – 05

  1. this is such a fantastic story. beautifully written. I’ve become an ardent fan already. Please update soon, I’m just so excited for another part. I have to add that the characterisation of Maan/Geet/Rahul/Dadi/Adi and everyone is just so correct and wonderful. Also, the story is something so new and just a great read. i’m in love with it. Do continue fast.

    Thanks
    Cammy

  2. Hi,
    so sorry that I was so busy with my work and today I have read all the 5 chapters.
    I really love the plot.
    I am your fan. I have read every single story on your website and they are really nice to read,
    Looking forward to another update.

  3. H Darkrice,

    Pls continue, looks like I’m the only one commenting. It’
    s a nice story just like your other fics. I liove MOA the most.

    • Thanks for commenting. I understand that this story won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. I’m glad you’re liking the story.

  4. Hi,

    Looks promissing pls continue, I have read your link for ther original plot it’s nice. I’m looking forward for your writing.

    Update sioon.

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