During the weekend, Don never left Swara’s sight. They moved into the penthouse apartment, to Don’s dissatisfaction, as he’d always found it too small. But he insisted that it was not safe to live in the mansion anymore.
Swara was trying hard to hide her fear, but the fact that Don was taking such safety precautions really worried her. She tried not to think about it, though. Seeing Sam wearing a sling to keep his shoulder from moving was a clear reminder that something of alarming gravity had happened.The three of them were sitting in a bistro on Sunday, Sam was happy tobe feeling much better
‘I needed to get away from all the soups, yaar’ Sam laughed ‘Yana has been force feeding me. She appears to think that soup makes everything better. Europeans, I tell ya…’
Swara giggled ‘Don’t tell me you miss an aunty shoving ginger and turmeric down your throat’
‘I honestly don’t know which is worse’
Swara stood pensive for a whilethen said ‘Sam, I’m sorry you had to lie to Yana. I can’t stop beating myself up about it…’
‘swara, we discussed this, na? It’s not your fault, end of story. There’s a word for it, “accident”. Lookit up’ he winked at her
‘I still think your brain got messed up in the process’ Don kicked Sam in the shin beneath the table Sam cleared his throat, hiding his pain
‘Achcha Swara how do you feel about getting to see professor D’Souza in action tomorrow?’
‘I didn’t get the chance to talk to her about it yet’ Don lit a cigar and gestured for the waiter to bring another coffee ‘You’re attending my lecture tomorrow’
Swara blinked at him ‘I’m not particularly interested in MBA strategies, thank you very much’ she laughed
‘Doesn’t matter. I’m not leaving you at home. Sam has some business to attend to. So you’re stuck with me, sweetheart’ he exhaled the smoke with a dimpled smile
‘How can Sam work in his condition? I could at least go with him and-‘
‘Darling, it’s non negotiable. Don’t waste your breath’Sam gave her a small smile but Swara had no choice but to sit back and resign.
Swara put down the book she’d been pretending to read on the livingroom sofa for the past 3 hours. All she could think of was how vehement Don had been about not wantingto try again for another baby. It was the wiser decision, and she knew it, but still she wished there could be another way.
She got up, heading towards Don’s study. The door was a jar and she leaned against the doorframe pushing it slightly to get a better view of her husband. He was resting his forehead in his palm, looking over his notes. He was wearing his reading glasses and a deep v blacktshirt.
‘Come in, darling’ he said not interrupting his lecture she entered his study and sat on an armchair opposite him
‘What’cha doin?’ she asked on a playful tone
‘Preparing my lecture for tomorrow’
‘You do that?’ she furrowed her brows smilingly
‘Is there any other way?’ he looked up at her
‘Haan’ she shrugged ‘You just go and talk about business and stuff’Don chuckled
‘Uff-oh, ok I’ll see tomorrow what all you’re preparing’
‘You couldn’t be more irritated by the prospect’ he pointed out, underlining some of the passages from his notes
‘It’s not that, it’s just that it’s silly. I can’t go everywhere you go from now on just so that I’m “safe”’ she airquoted for effect
‘I don’t see why not. Unless you want a bodyguard around everytime I’m not there’Swara burst into laughter
‘It depends. Would he be tall, dark and handsome?’ she raised her eyebrows cheekily he raised his gaze from his notes
‘Mhm’ he air quoted as well
”Tall, dark and handsome”
’‘Oh so he’d be my height, blonde and ravishing. Basically Brad Pitt.Not bad’He threw his pencil at her, poking her in the process with its sharp edge
‘Ouch!’ she laughed ‘It was your idea, na?’
‘I’m this close to grounding you, missy’She giggled but her smile turned into a blush as she saw his seductive look. She was immediately reminded of why she’d come to his study in the first place.
‘Don… can we talk?’He furrowed his eyebrows smilingly as he took another pencil and began scribbling on the side of his notes
‘I thought that’s what we were doing. Sadly’ he added tongue in cheekily She bit her lower lip slightly, squirming in her seat
‘I’m serious. I think we need to talk about… well, about Friday’
‘Could you be more specific?’ he said placing his notes aside, giving her his full attention
She sighed and looked at him for awhile then lowered her gaze ‘Don’t look at me like that na, I’m losing track of what I want to say’Don chuckled and pushed his chair further away from the desk, gesturing for her to come sit on his lap.
She did just that, and he placed his arms around her waist and rested his head gently on her bosom.It felt so nice to hold him like that against her chest that she almost lock track yet again of what she’d come to say
‘Don… I know that you mean well and you’re worried for me. I know I haven’t handled this situation best as possible. I’m sorry’ she felt him tighten his arms around her ‘Having said that…I respect your intentions but I really think we shouldn’t eliminate the prospect of having another baby entirely…’
He raised his head immediately and looked straight into her eyes ‘Where is all this coming from?’
She shrugged, feeling emotional ‘I didn’t know how much I wanted to be a mother until I got pregnant and began expecting our baby… I’m not ready to give up on that. Maybe, maybe we should try again…’Don frowned and placed her on the edge of the desk and retrieved his cigars.
Swara sighed ‘Don. I’m not saying right now, or next month or this year even. I just don’t want us to decide against it just as yet. Let’s keep an open mind about it’
He lit his cigar, his gaze fixated on the ashtray
‘Won’t you say anything?’ she leaned in closer to him, caressing a strand of his longish hair
‘I’ve said what I had to say. Clearly you feel differently. I guess it’s a good thing we’re not “intimate” ‘ he again ariquoted ‘So we don’t have to worry about it’On that note she got off the desk and without looking him in the eye she left the study.
The next morning, Don woke Swara up with a small kiss on her lips. She looked at him puzzled, and a bit saddened.
‘Why didn’t you come to bed last night?’ she asked, her voice husky
‘I did’ he kissed her cheek as well ‘You were asleep and I didn’t want to wake you. I’m sorry, sweetheart. That was a low blow, even for me’
he half.smiled ‘I hope you know I didn’t mean it’
‘What part didn’t you mean?’ she looked at him hopeful.
He sighed ‘You know what I meant and what I didn’t. When I’m serious about something you know I just don’t go ahead and change my mind, sweetheart’ he placed a strand of her bed hair behind her ear On that note she kissed him.
She pulled him by his tie closer and closer and their kiss grew more passionate. He was extremely responsive so Swara felt confident enough to loosen his tie and unbutton his dress shirt, keeping the tie on.She began kissing him down his neck and over his chest
‘You smell incredible’ she murmured pulling him closer on top of her He chuckled between his kisses
‘Are you trying to manipulate me?’
‘Is it working’He pressed his body against hers
‘Very effectively’ he whispered She gasped. She didn’t even care about any arguments anymore.Suddenly he stopped and looked into her eyes ‘Sweetheart, I hate to do this’
‘What?’ she murmured pulling him back into her arms
‘I need to present my lecture in half an hour, and there simply is no way I can rush things between us’ he kissed her once, hungrily ‘Although I really want to. But I’ll regret it. I want to give you my undivided attention’ he kissed her again ‘For a whole lot longer than half an hour’
‘I completely forgot’ she sighed but couldn’t stop kissing him, roaming her hands all over his body’He slowly pulled away, panting, his eyes dark and clouded with lust She bit her lower lip
‘I’ll go get ready’
‘Thank you’ he exhaled and leaned in to kiss her, but decided it was wiser not to, and winked at her as he exited the bedroom.
swara got dressed casually, to better blend in amongst the MBA students.She wore skinny jeans and a white casual shirt with matching sneakers. She stepped out of the bedroom and saw that Don had also changed his now wrinkled dress shirt and tie, and also wore a vest to his Armani suit.She whistled
‘The professor is such a hottie!’
‘So they say’ he gestured for her to head towards the elevator
Later, Don parked the Mercedes a few blocks away from the university
‘I can’t have anyone thinkI’m dating a student. It’s against the university’s policy’
he pointed out as they got out of the car Swara raised an eyebrow ‘It’s against your marriage’s policy as well, professor’
‘Ha-ha. Now chalo walk ahead of me’She did as instructed and turned to look over her shoulder ‘Checking me out, professor?’
‘Keep that up and I’ll have to keep you in detention’ he warned she bit her lower lip and resumed her walking
A few moments later she heard him say ‘So, so naughty. Definitely detention’
Swara took a seat in the far back of the lecture hall. She looked at the students coming in.A group of 3 girls sat in the row in front of her
‘Darn it. I told you not to be late, Anne. We missed our spot now’
‘Stupid Felicity’ one of them said in a low voice
‘She’s trying way too hard. Practically begging him to take her home’ they all laughed on queue Swara furrowed her brows, paying closer attention to their conversation
‘I mean her br*asts are almost bursting out of that blouse. Geez. If he were to fall for that we’d all be standing in line at his office’ they all giggled
Swara felt a knot form in her throat. They were actually discussing her husband in the most objectifying way possible.
‘Wonder if he kept that ponytail he was sporting before he took the week off’
‘God, please let him keep it. He’s so damn hot’
‘Oh my God, totally. Just imagine running your hands through that thick,thick hair…’
‘I’m imagining some other thick, thick stuff now’
‘You’re baaaaad!’They all laughed again, fanning themselves as they were blushing uncontrollably.
Swara’s jaw fell. She couldn’t believe her ears. She looked around the lecture hall and noticed each and every girl dolled up as if to go on the date of her life. Since when were MBA students so good looking? Particularly the female students. Deep v blouses, pushup lingerie with lace showing,short skirts and high heels. Weren’t they all supposed to be nerdy and facing acne problems?She noticed the girls sat predominantly in the front rows. The boys were a lot more casual and seemed years younger compared to the girls.
Suddenly everybody fell silent as the door opened and Don entered the hall. His stance was extremely professional and he oozed authority. She could hear the girls sigh, almost as if on queue.He removed his jacket and if it weren’t for the vest, the new shirt
Don had put on was quite see-through. Swara immediately regretted wrinkling the one he’d originally worn. Ok, she didn’t really regret it.One of the girls in front of her whispered to the others
‘Haba-haba. Come to mommy’
‘It’s excruciating…’Swara rolled her eyes
‘Good morning. How was your weekend?’ he flashed a dimpled smile Giggles echoed in the lecture hall. Swara was completely taken aback by the effect he had on what must’ve been over 50 girls.He began rolling up his sleeves
‘God, just kill me and get it over with’ she heard another whisper‘Why does he have to torture us like this!?’
swara had to admit. From where she was looking, it was a fine sight for sore eyes. And to think that she had him all in her arms just minutes ago. She quickly imagined what the girls in front of her would do if they found out she was his wife. She wondered if they even knew he was married.
‘Alright then. Without further ado, let’s get right into it’
‘Oh my God…’ one of them exclaimed Swara could barely stop herself from bursting out into laughter
‘Our subject for today is Productivity and Growth’
‘Jesus Christ…’swara had to bite her lips hard to stop herself from laughing
‘You get the idea, by looking at data and using common sense, that the way to grow faster is to invest in physical capital, human capital, and”knowledge” or”technology.” On the whole, I’d say that’s right as far as it goes. Nevertheless, there are some striking examples of cultures that were advanced technologically but never translated that advantage into economic gain.’
He turned on the projector, slightly turning his back to the audience. He placed one hand into his pocket and so, the trousers stretched across his backside quite…interestingly. Swara raised an eyebrow, enjoying the view.
‘Two examples I want to mention here are the Arab world in the middle ages and China circa 1400. I’m not an expert on either case, but I think here even a little bit of knowledge is useful… and hopefully not too dangerous’
The students chuckled and the girls whispered some more
‘See Joel Mokyr’s The Lever of Riches published in ’91, Oxford, if you’re interested in the details, it’s a fascinating book. China. In many aspects of technology China was much more advanced prior to 1400 than Europe. Mokyr mentions: Agriculture: rice cultivation, the iron plow, and so on made Chinese agriculture much more productive than Europe’s. Iron: the Chinese had blast furnaces for casting iron in 200 BC, Europe not until late 1300s. Ship-building and navigation: the great voyages of the European explorers were predated by the Chinese who, inexplicably, prohibited foreign exploration just as the Europeans got moving. There are many other examples. Paper, porcelain, the cross-bow, gunpowder. On the whole, they suggest a culture with advanced technology in both pure and applied areas. In short, China was technologically advanced in 1400, but this didn’t lead to an industrial revolution.’
He turned to face his audience ‘It’s not clear why, but a leading hypothesis is that the centralized system of government was prone to malfunction with inadequate leaders. An ambitious leader could encourage innovation and development, or throttle it completely. Regardless of the explanation, it’s clear that it takes more than technology to produce sustained growth in output and productivity. Science and technology alone won’t do it.’
He turned slightly towards the presentation that was being projected behind him ‘The Arab World. The general idea is that they had better understanding of math and some aspects of technology than the Europeans in the middle ages and before, yet didn’t develop, as Europe did, into a successful industrial society. I could name some other examples. Argentina was as rich as almost any country in the world in 1890, but is far from it now. Japan, on the other hand, has grown dramatically from shortly after the Meiji restoration to the present, truly a remarkable and, I think, unprecedented achievement. In 1868 they were internationally isolated but still a highly educated society, and thus in a good position to capitalize on Western technology once they were exposed to it.’
He began pacing the podium, in what Swara appreciated not t be his usual panther-like gait. Thankfully, she thought, otherwise he’d have had students fainting by the end of his lecture. His poise was much more tense and his pace was stern and almost mimicking military precision
‘Britain, on the other hand, developed more quickly than France in the 18th century, despite a substantial disadvantage in pure science. They were experts,however, in practical engineering such as the steam engine. This lesson applies to firms, too: advanced technology often fails, for a variety of reasons, to translate into business success. Evidently technology alone isn’t enough. A similar point is made by Womack,Jones, and Roos in The Machine that Changed the World. In short, good economic performance, for both countries and firms, appears to involve features of the economic and social structure that are difficult to define, let alone measure.We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that strategies for raising productivity and growth cover almost every aspect of economic and corporate organization.’
He turned towards his students, remaining pensive for a while, as if to better phrase his next idea
‘One of the things you might guess is that firms must invest in new technologies to stay competitive, perhaps by supporting large research laboratories. And that’s probably right in some cases. But some of the greatest innovations in management and productivity enhancement concern, instead, changes in the ways in which people are organized. The basic ideas here concern not technology in the narrow sense of scientific breakthroughs, but organizing management and workers to operate more effectively as a team. These management issues are, in my opinion, at least as important as the advances in technology narrowly defined. One of the interesting trends in management philosophy has been toward a greater emphasis on cooperation. At some level the benefits of cooperation are obvious: you should have the quarterback and the wide receiver running the same play. Anyone watching the Super Bowl in the room?’
Finally swara saw the boys have some reaction. They all vocalized their interest.
‘In modern management the suggestion is that there must be active cooperation among the entire production team, from assembly line workers on up to the CEO. Most of these methods require active participation by the people on the line to work, since they are the closest to the process and thus know the most it, hard as that is for senior management to believe. The center, for example, might know more about what the opposing lineman are doing than the quarterback. Deming, for example, argues that firms should have a small number of suppliers, because only then can they enforce quality standards. The competitive approach, followed by US automobile companies for years, is to use many suppliers, so that you can use competition among them to keep the price low.So who’s right?’
He waited for a reply from his students and chuckled seeing them all clueless.
‘I think most would agree that competition can be an effective tool. The former Soviet Union, for example, would probably have been more productive if incentives had led to greater competition among individuals and firms to supply goods and services. But some management studies suggest that competition between workers in similar jobs can actually lower productivity. Or that competition among students in a course can reduce the value of their educational experience’
Again the students laughed and he smiled back, resuming his stern professional look immediately afterwards.
‘The question is where you draw the line’ he concluded ‘Are there any questions?’
‘I’d like to ask him where he draws the line’ one of the 3 girls whispered giggling
Then, to everyone’s surprise, Don walked up the stairs of the theatre hall, closer to the amused ladies
‘Would you mind repeating your question?’ he asked sharply
They all froze ‘I don’t… I don’t haveany’
‘Surely there must be something you want to ask since you’ve engaged your fellow students into a potential debate’
Swara could hardly hide her grin. The only thing that helped was that he was in fact quite scary, even to her. The rapidity in which he’d walked up those few stairs and got next to the noisy group even took her aback.
‘No, sir. Please excuse us’He looked down on them, giving them a depreciative look and then resumed his original spot
‘Any other fascinating questions?’ he rubbed his hands together
‘That will be all, then.’
Swara waited for the lecture hall to clear before she got up and walked towards her husband who was gathering his notes
‘Actually, I have a few questions, professor D’Souza’
Don smirked looking at her seductively ‘Is that so?’
She nodded, her hands behind her back, obediently
‘I’m sorry, but you will have to wait until the upcoming lecture. I did ask if anyone had any questions’ he said very stoically she then placed her hands over his notes on the desk,leaning in while arching her back
Don inhaled sharply ‘Miss, I’m afraid I can’t help you’
She proceeded to unbutton the top button of her shirt,exposing a little bit of cleavage. Nowhere near what Don’s students were seen sporting, but still, it seemed to have a substantial effect on the professor
‘Well’ he crossed his arms over his chest ‘If you insist’
Swara bit her lower lip, glad that he was going along with her game. She circler the desk and sat on top of it, right next to him, crossing her legs. She then pretended to look surprised
‘Is that a wedding band on your finger, professor?’Don looked down at his hand
‘Yes, itis’ Swara touched it incredulously
‘Divorced?’Don smirked, squinting at her
‘No, very much married’She pouted, sighing‘That just won’t do, professor’ she grabbed his tie, wrapping it around her fist, pulling him closer ‘You’re too hot to be taken’
Don lowered his gaze to her lips, visibly panting. Just as he was about to kiss her, he grabbed her hand and freed himself from her grasp
‘If that will be all miss, my wife is expecting me’ he said as he gravely straightened his tie knot she grinned ear to ear, squirming. She jumped off the desk and pulled him into her arms and straight into a kiss
‘I love you’ she said flashing a large smile
Don smiled as well, seeing her so joyous ‘And I you’ he replied endearingly
‘Now chalo, wait for me at the car before someone sees us and gets the wrong idea’ he added slapping her behind playfully
Waiting for their order at one of their favorite restaurants, Swata giggled
‘You must have a clue of what’s going on inside your students’ heads’
Don took a sip of his coffee ‘Business administration, I should hope’
Swara laughed‘You couldn’t be further from the truth. Ok let me phrase it this way: you must have a clue of what’s going on inside their ovaries’Don chuckled
‘I’m sure I don’t know what you mean’
she raised an eyebrow ‘Oh, really? That little act of mine from earlier is the most innocent scenario they’ve all played in their heads’
‘And yet none decided to go through with it’ he pouted She gasped and threw her dinner napkin at him, making him chuckle ‘That’s only because they’re too scared of you’ she laughed
‘Mhm, I’ll work on that’She kicked him in the sheen
‘Stop it, na!’ she laughed ‘You really have no idea what they’re fantasizing about, do you?’He shrugged
‘Who cares, darling?’Her smile slowly faded
‘I do’He leaned in, kissing her hand ‘Please don’t, they’re students, na? They’re supposed to be fantasizing about their professors’ he shrugged
‘You should’ve heard the things they were whispering to eachother. Got meal flustered’
Don exhaled ‘I’m beginning to regret taking you along’She shook her head
‘Don’t mind me. I really should’ve expected it’ she half smiled ‘But yeah. It’s about time you realized I don’t need carrying around as if I were a baby’
Don sighed ‘Let’s not get into a fight during lunch’
‘Who’s fighting? I’m just saying. Enough with this nonsense. I can look after myself, Don’
Don removed his dinner napkin from his lap and signaled for the waiter she shrugged
‘Who’s the baby now? Why don’t I even get a say in this matter?’
‘A gin and tonic’
‘Right away sir’swara frowned
‘Would you answer my question, damnit?’Don shot her a look that immediately made her regret raising her voice at him in the restaurant
‘I’d appreciate it if kept it down. I wasn’t ignoring your nonsensical question, I was avoiding an altercation’
‘Oh, please!’ she crossed her arms over her chest ‘Spare me the lecture. I’ve already sat through one today’
‘You’re making a scene, swara’ he gritted
‘Then I’m leaving’ she grabbed her purse ‘Wouldn’t want to spoil your reputation, professor’ she sat up and walked away from the table
Swara kept looking over her shoulder, but Don hadn’t followed her. First she was content, then she began worrying. As she walked further into the heart of Switzerland, she began regretting having reacted the way she did. The fact that Don hadn’t followed her made her feel extremely uneasy. Was he that upset? She looked back time and time again, but sure enough, he was nowhere in sight.
She began beating herself up,thinking she’d spoiled all their progress with this fight.She was entitled, though, to her say into the matter. This over protectiveness was making her feel caged and restricted. She didn’t need 24/7 supervision as if she were a defenseless baby.She was ex-Interpol, for God’s sake. She kept checking her cellphone, but he hadn’t tried calling her at all. After what must’ve been hours of strolling around , aimlessly,she decided to give in and take a cab home.
She sighed, entering the penthouse apartment that was visibly empty.Don wasn’t there. Immediately, she heard knocking on the entrance door,and she smiled, thinking he’d arrived at the same time.
‘Hi’ Sam gave her a halfsmile She furrowed her brows ‘Sam?’
‘Don’t act surprised, yaar. I’m sure you knew all along’
Swara let him in and sighed ‘I didn’t, but I guess I should’ve known.Sorry for making you follow me’He shrugged
‘Would’ve joined you upfront, but I let you calm down. Don told me you might fight it’She crossed her arms against her chest
‘Sam, I love you and all, but just for the sake of this argument I’m going to have to ask you to leave’Sam laughed
‘Thanks for putting it nicely, love you too but you know I can’t do that’ he shrugged
‘Sorry yaar, you’re stuck with me’She threw her hands up in despair ‘I’m so sick of this yaar! Why the hell am I being treated like a baby?!’
‘No, really, I’m sick and tired of it! Screw this!’
she yelled and slammed the door behind her, entering the bedroom
Hours later, after taking a long bath and trying to calm down, she went into the living room area and leaned against a bookshelf
‘I’m sorry for yelling at you. You’re the last one to blame’Sam looked at her over his laptop and eventually smiled
‘swara, you know, I totally get you. But you know Don. And this time, I must say his over protectiveness is not exaggerated’
She curled up on an armchair next to the sofa he was sitting on ‘Ok, so someone broke into our home. Could’ve been anyone! Some burglar or something, he didn’t even try anything dangerous. Probably thought nobody was home and ran for his life as soon as he realized he was about to get caught. Why is he making such a big deal out of this? I mean, are we really going to live the rest of our lives in the shadow of this event?’
‘Now you’re exaggerating’ Sam laughed ‘Rest of your lives? Yaar it’s just been a few days. Let him do his thing, it’ll die out on its own. But let him do what he needs to. Right now he’s beating himself up for not ensuring enough security…’
‘I know! We don’t need more security. The last thing I need is more reminders of his past life’To that, Sam remained silent. He resumed his work on his laptop and
She looked at him questioningly ‘Sam… you may not recall this, you were pretty sedated. But you told me that someone from the underworld was after him’Sam froze, and slowly looked up at her
‘I said that?’ he chuckled nervously
‘Huh, what was I on? Good stuff’ he laughed she furrowed her brows
‘Sam, look at me’Sam tried his best to look at her as naturally as possible.
‘Is anything that I should know about going on?’
‘Like what?’ he swallowed, clearing his throat
She sighed ‘I don’t know, you tell me. You wouldtell me if something was happening, right?’
‘Of course! What kind of a question is that, yaar?’ he laughed it off
‘We’re friends and all, but he’s your boss at the end of the day. I get why you’d be keeping things from me. But he’s like your elder brother, na? You wouldn’t let him do anything…stupid, na?’
‘swara…’ he sighed‘Ok, baas’ she halfsmiled
‘I’m not lecturing you. Just felt like saying it. I trust you’ she leaned in, squeezing his hand He halfsmiled, avoiding her eyes
‘How’s the shoulder?’
‘Better. Should be back to normal in no time’ he smiled
‘Good. I can’t stand watching you with that slingon’ she pouted
‘Don’t worry about it’ he waved it off
‘Sam… is he coming for dinner?’Sam looked at her and nodded in denial She sighed ‘Ok…chalo, let’s eat…’
‘I must say… I’m very surprised to see you, Don’ the man grinned ‘Nobody knew what to make of your…disappearance’
‘As per intended, Carlisle’
‘I must thank you though, officially, for pretty much clearing up the European market. Didn’t leave me with much competition after you had your way with the big shots’
‘The “big shots” didn’t leave me a choice, did they, now?’ Don chuckled coldly
‘I heard about their plan. Please don’t take offence,but I wasn’t sure how it’d all play out. After all, they out numbered you drastically. And they weren’t exactly the kind toplay around with such agendas’
‘Carlisle, I admire your earnestness and grit to be able to say this to my face’ Don smirked ‘Although I’m a bit disappointed that you doubted who’d get his way’he leaned in over the table they were sitting at
‘Don always gets his way’ he added in a cold tone Carlisle smiled nervously
‘Of course you do. It’s been a while since, though, I’m wiser now’ he chuckled
‘I’m counting on that’
‘It’s an honor to bespeaking to you, sir. If there’s anything at all I can do for you, just name it’
‘I was counting on that as well’ Don smirked
‘I need to know who’s been aware of my resuming my activities. I’ve been specifically low-key about it, but somehow it appears that word got out’
‘How is that a bad thing?’ Carlisle grinned ‘Everybody should know now to back off and, more so, get out of your way. The king is back, after all!’ he added enthusiastically
‘Not just yet. I don’t want everyone to be aware of my presence. Better let them think I’ve “disappeared” as you’ve mentioned earlier. The surprise is sweeter this way, is it not?’ Don laughed coldly
‘Indeed it is’
‘Therefore I’m counting on you to dig around and find out who might be aware that I’m back in the game. I’m back to rule, but I’m enjoying the anonymity just yet. Gives me a bit of a challenge’
‘Rest assured, Don sir… I’ll let you know. Though I must say… if I had no clue, I’m really curious how anybody else would’ve known!’
Don stood up and put on his aviators‘I’ll get back to you, Carlisle. Pleasure doing business with you’
he extended his hand to shake the man’s Carlisle was beyond thrilled to shake Don’s hand
‘The pleasure was all mine, sir! If you don’t mind my asking… what made you get back in the game?’
Don flexed his muscles, visibly slightly irritated by the intrusive question ‘I’d never left to begin with’
Swara woke up the following morning with an overwhelming feeling of emptiness. Don’s side of the bed was empty and cold. He hadn’t come at home at all. A glimpse of hope made way in her heart as she thought that maybe he’d been sleeping on the couch or had moved Sam from the guest bedroom onto it.
She checked her phone as well, no missed calls. She made her way outside the bedroom and immediately heard Sam talking. She realized right away that he was on the phone, as he was keeping it down
‘No, I’m telling you… she’s put mein a corner, and it’s not the first time. I say you definitely need to figure out a way around it. I don’t know how long I can pull this off. I’m no actor’swara furrowed her brows. She couldn’t understand a thing. Who was he talking to even?
‘Arre wah. You never piloted the jet without me before. Did you take Kunal?’
swara froze. Jet? Piloted without Sam? What the hell!!! Don had piloted the jet last night? Where the hell to? She was downright furious now
‘Yeah I told you he’s a pro. Aha. No, she’s asleep. I’m telling you, another rapid fire round and I’m sure to let something slip. You should’ve seen the way she cornered me last night man!… Yeah but what can I do?How long till you get back? Achcha.Ok I’ll try my best. Tikhe, bye’Sam turned around and to say he was surprised would be a major understatement. He clumsily tried to conceal it
‘Mornin’, swars’ he grinned ‘Slept well?’
‘Sam. Where is my husband?’
‘Working’ Sam gestured at his cell ‘He just called’
swara crossed he rarms over her chest ‘Working where?’Sam blinked at her and remained silent for a moment ‘swara…’
‘Belfast’ he said dryly
‘Belfast? As in Northern Ireland, Belfast?’
‘That’s the one’
‘Ain’t that a walk in the park’ swara grimaced and returned to her bedroom.
Minutes later, she returned, wearing a short white skirt,mauve stilettos and matching mauve satin dress shirt. She accessorized with lots of gold. Sam had to linger his gaze on her for a while to take it all in. She surely played the part
‘Make yourself at home, Sam. You can let yourself out when you’re done here’
‘Whoa, whoa! What’s all this, where do you think you’re going?’ he cut her way to the entrance
She applied lip gloss looking into a wall mirror then shrugged at him ‘Dunno. Might end up in Canada for all I know’Sam cut her way again
‘swara,.. don’t be silly, yaar’
Swara pushed his hand away ‘You’re not the boss of me. And neither is Don’ she smiled sarcastically
‘swara, would you stop it? Why are you punishing me for? I’m supposed to keep an eye on you and you’re making my life a living hell!’
swara snapped ‘Excuse me? What the hell, Sam! I thought we were friends! Alright? I waited for Don last night till I fell asleep, you could’ve at least told me he’s in a different freaking country!’
Sam exhaled audibly‘I’m sick and tired of this! I’ve had it until here with this cr*p!’
she gestured off the tip of her head ‘If he’s entitled to go wherever he pleases than so am I. The hell does he think he is!’ she pushed Sam aside and opened the door, heading for the elevator
‘swara, you know I can’t let you leave.Don’t make me…’
‘What? What are you going to do, Sam?’ she squinted at him ‘Are you going to force me? I dare you. See these heels? I’ll stick then between your ribs if I have to, but I’m out of here’
Sam froze. He could see that she was dead serious. He’d never seen swata so angry. And he knew better than to provoke her. He knew she was very agile and combative. Not that it was even an option, he’d never impose force on her.He blocked her way again when the elevator arrived
‘swara. I’m begging you. Please don’t do this. Don will have my head for this’
‘I couldn’t care less about you and your precious boss right now. Out of my way’Sam could only watch her leave.
swara got into the Maserati and drove off. She knew Sam would be catching up with her in no time, so she needed to plan her moves accordingly. She had nowhere to go. But she needed to get away from it all. She was so angry she could scream.
Belfast! Ha!She couldn’t help but smile to herself, though. Sam was right, Don was going to hit the roof. Especially when Sam would tell him what she was wearing. The skirt was damn short and making driving a difficult task, but nevertheless, it was worth it. Serves him right.She kept checking her rearview mirror, making sure nobody was following her. She needed to get rid of the car now that she was far enough. She parked it in a stray alley and began walking.
“Think, swara, think”
she tried her best to come up with a plan that could stall her some time. She knew she couldn’t check into a fancy hotel as that would be the first place they’d look for her. She saw a hostel on the opposite side of the road and she decided to take it for the time being.
‘Good afternoon’ she said as she entered the shabby reception.An old man in a stripped dusty shirt appeared from behind the desk
‘Hello there’ he said ogling at her. Surely, he wasn’t used to her type stepping into the small reception
‘I’d like a room’The man furrowed slightly
‘Sure. For how long?’swara stood pensive
‘One night, for now’
‘That’d be 80 quid’swara raised an eyebrow
‘It says right there that it’s20 pounds a night’she pointed to a price list on the wall.
The man placed a hand on his hipbone
‘Take it or leave it, lady’
Swara sighed, slamming 40 pounds on the counter ‘Let’s call it even’
The man smirked ‘Enjoy your stay’ and handed her the keys
Swara made her way to the 2nd floor, looking for her room. She wasn’t at all surprised by the kind of noises she heard from behind closed doors she’d pass, it all kind of reminded her of New York-based movies and her former job as an Interpol officer.She entered her shabby room and threw her purse on the bed. She sighed seeing all the dust that had elevated from the bedding.
She walked towards the window. She grimaced looking at the skyline.
What part of Switzerland was this, even? She just drove aimlessly, as far as she could get. But something told her she ended up on the wrong side of the neighborhood.She inspected the street more closely and noticed a man sitting in a car, looking her way. He averted his gaze rapidly, but not fast enough for her not to notice. She stepped back, instinctively. What the hell? That was unexpected. That was definitely not Sam. That was not even his car. She’d never seen that man in her life.Panic took over. She paced the room
“Come on, swara. You’ve totally lost your cool! You’re an officer for crying out loud!”.
But who was she kidding. She wasn’t an officer anymore, she was a different person now. That infuriated her. She suddenly felt weak and defenseless. She sat next to her bag on the bed and placed her forehead in her palms.
Why had she let things go this far? Why did she lose any track of her old self? This whining woman that couldn’t get over the fact that she’d suffered a miscarriage was not her! She used to be so much more stronger. She had to go through the death of her brother, her only family, and that too because the man she loved had killed him. If that’s not traumatic, then what is? But she had never felt as shattered as she did now. She went to the minuscule bathroom and splashed cold water on her face, then rested her palms on the sink,staring into the mirror.
‘Who are you?’ she asked her reflection
She couldn’t recognize that woman. She stared into her own reflection for a long while. She then suddenly grabbed her purse and stormed out of the hostel, heading straight towards the man in the car, that was, as expected, still there.He averted his gaze again, trying to look casual, but she hit the roof of the car with her palm, and made him lower his window. She leaned over it
‘You can tell Don I’ll be moving locations till you stop following me’she warned
The man just looked at her
‘You can cut out the act’ she squinted at him
The man chuckled suddenly, taking her aback
‘What’s so damn funny?’
‘It wasn’t Don that sent me here’She raised an eyebrow
‘Then who did?’
‘I can’t tell you that’
Swara suddenly felt weird. The whole episode from back at the mansion played before her eyes. How could she’d been so thoughtless? Who was this man?!She put on a brave act though
‘Listen mister, I don’t care who you are, then.Just mind your own business and stop following me.Otherwise you’ll regret it. This, I promise’She started walking back when he said
‘I wouldn’t count on that’She turned slightly
‘We’ll be seeing eachother soon. You’re not ready yet’ he said on a grave tone
Swara’s blood froze in her veins. She kept on her brave poise but deep down she was panicking majorly.As soon as she got into the building she asked for the phone at the reception and dialed Sam’s number
‘swara! Where the hell are you yaar? Please, I’m going nuts, alright?’
Swara was fighting to keep her tears back ‘Sam. Come get me’
‘swara… are you alright?! Sh*t! Swara?! Kya hua?’ Sam sounded really worried
‘Take a right turn from the alley I’ve parked the car at and you’ll find a hostel after a few blocks on your left’
‘Stay right where you are!’ he warned and hung up.
Swara peeked outside the window and the suspicious man was gone. In a matter of seconds, Sam’s car stopped in front of the lobby and she hurried inside.
Sam drove off right away ‘Thank God and all the saints you’re alright!!!’ Sam shouted ‘Sh*t!!! I hope you know I’m good for nothing right now, swara. Seriously, I’m a nervous wreck! Tell me what happened! What the hell happened?’
‘Calm down’ she said, trying to get him to relax. She’d never seen him so agitated
‘Why the hell did you leave your phone in the car yaar!?’
‘I knew you could track me down with it. Of course I left it there’
Sam cursed again ‘Don has no clue. I pray to God he has no clue. He’s on his way to the penthouse right now, if we don’t beat him to it I don’t know what’s going to happen, swara! So, for the love of God, will you please tell me what the hell happened!?’
Sam was speeding and it made it very difficult for her to gather her thoughts. She finally said
‘Someone followed me’
Sam almost lost control of the steering wheel ‘WHAT?’
Swara exhaled audibly ‘I first thought it was one of Don’s people. I’d never seen him,but it was my first instinct. Although when I first saw the car and who was sitting in it, I had a weird reaction’
‘What did he look like? Damn it, swara, tell me everything!’
swara tried to cover every detail ‘He was black. He was really imposing. He said…’
‘WHAT?! What did he say? How did you talk to him? Sh*t! Don’s going to hang me for this’
‘Shut up yaar, I’m trying to think!’ she yelled ‘I walked up to him and told him to tell Don to stop following me’
Sam was deliriously laughing ‘You’re making this up, please tell me you’re making thisup!’
‘Then he told me he wasn’t working for Don’
‘No sh*t!’swara growled ‘God, I was so stupid!’
‘What else did he say?’
‘I asked who he was working for and he told me he couldn’t say, and that I was
“not ready yet”’
Sam cursed several times
‘That’s it. Then I called you. Sam, whoever it is, I’m sure it’s the same person that was after us at the mansion’
‘You don’t say!’ Sam snapped sarcastically
‘What are we going to do? Should we… should we tell Don?’
After a long break in which they were entering the underground parking lot, Sam said
‘I don’t know what’s worse, really. Telling Don I let you run away, and that it resulted in you facing someone that’s been following you and is probably working for the person that broke into the mansion. Or lying to him. Either way, I’m dead’
They got out of the car and literally ran towards the elevator. They reached the apartment and stood still, dreading to see Don appear from behind a corner, fuming in anger
‘I think the coast is clear’ swara almost whispered
‘I think so too’ Sam followed
‘He should be here any minute though’
No sooner had he finished saying that, that they heard the elevator being called.They looked at eachother in panic, thinking that they didn’t get the chance to agree upon a story they’d both tell Don.
Should they tell him the truth, should they lie to him, and if yes, what should they say? There was no time to settle all that.They barely got the chance sit on the sofa when the door opened and Don entered, looking gravely at them
‘What’s going on here?’
How was the chapter…first of all a big sorry for not replying to any of your comments and not posting yesterday actually I was offline yesterday…that’s why I didn’t posted it…
So what do you think what will happen now…what will they tell him and what will be his reaction…
To know more just wait for the next episode…love you all take care?.