SHIVIKA – TEMPTING MR OBEROI
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Shivaay makes a deal with Annika
Annika noticed Swara glaring at her and she immediately tried to look away so that Swara wouldn’t succeed.
Gauri (whispering) : She looks ready to murder you.
Annika : I can’t help it. Her brother insisted that she teach us how to waltz. How did I know he had also called Mr Simon Patel to supervise?
The two sisters turned to watch Swara argue with Mr Patel as he tried to teach poor Om how to twirl the lady.
Swara : Mr Patel, I must tell you…
Simon : Madam! I know you’re from Italy and may have a different manner of waltzing. However, your brother asked me to teach them. You’re merely cramping my style.
Mahi : Ouch! She won’t like that.
Annika turned behind to look at Mahi Singh Oberoi, who was grinning at the sight of his sister muttering to herself in Italian.
Annika (smiling gently) : No, she won’t. Can you blame her? She knows the dance in and out. Yet, Mr Oberoi has called in another.
Mahi : Sometimes, Only Shivaay understands himself. I agree it was ludicrous to bring in Simon Patel.
Though her heart missed a beat when Mahi mentioned Shivaay’s name, Annika was extremely glad that this was the Oberoi she had to meet today.
Swara came towards them and sat down after glaring at Gauri, who went to practice dancing with Om.
Swara : If that man comes in here again or mentions anything about me not knowing the dance properly, I will not be responsible for my actions.
Annika looked at her sympathetically. She placed a reassuring arm on Swara’s hand and squeezed it. She turned towards Mahi and silently asked him to do something to calm down.
Mahi : Come on, Swara. Let Simon deal with the lovebirds. You teach me to dance.
Swara : Really? Who are you going to dance with?
Mahi : The lady sitting next to you, Ofcourse.
Annika : Me?
Mahi : Why not? You’ll dance during Gauri’s wedding as well, Right? So you should get some practice as well.
Swara (happily) : Alright then. You’re the best brother, Mahi.
Mahi (grinning) : My favourite words. I’m going to record it and play it on a loop for Shivaay to hear it.
Annika chuckled and stood as Mahi gathered her into his arms as Swara recited the steps to properly waltz.
Mahi : My Goodness!
Annika : What happened?
Mahi : One would think, with all the Elite parties that are present, We would be familiar with dancing. However, My sister is giving completely different instructions.
Annika (laughing) : We have been doing it wrong all these years.
Mahi (pouting) : I thought I was highly skilled in dancing.
Annika : Sure, you are. Once Swara teaches us, You can be an expert at this as well. You can put on your own show. The Oberoi show. Swara and Mahi as dancers while their eldest brother shows off his skills as a first rate pianist.
Mahi : I don’t think…. Wait! How do you know Shivaay is a superb pianist?
Annika hedged, desperate for an escape from the question.
Annika : Isn’t it quite well known? I must have read it somewhere.
Mahi smiled, then bent down and whispered in Annika’s ear, so reminiscent of Shivaay.
Mahi : That was a good act. Anyone would have believed you, but not Shivaay’s own twin.
He straightened and watched Annika as defeat fell across her face. .
Mahi : Shivaay plays only at home, mostly in the middle of the night. When would you have had the chance to hear him?
Annika’s mouth opened, then closed.
Mahi : If he doesn’t play anywhere else, Where did you hear him?
Annika knew she was cornered. Yet, she persevered and tried to fight back.
Annika : Nowhere.
Mahi looked at her amused and she felt her cheeks turn crimson.
Annika : I’m telling you, nothing happened. I mean…
Mahi : It’s alright, Miss Mishra. I know my brother. Your secret is safe with me.
Annika looked down unable to do anything else.
Mahi : I must say, though, you have disappointed me.
Annika’s eyes shot up in apprehension.
Mahi : I am more handsome than my twin, You know.
He said it in such a mocking mournful tone that Annika smiled and soon, the two were laughing together as they shared amusing stories.
Annika wondered at the fact that she could be so at ease with Mahi Singh Oberoi when his mirror image held such power over her emotions.
It had been just over a week since she had seen Shivaay last—since he had smuggled her out of his club and return her home. She had been to Oberoi Mansion several times in the eight days, both to oversee Swara’s skills and with sometimes with Gauri, to have a gossip session, and, each time, she had hoped to have an excuse to see Shivaay.
Twice, she had considered excusing herself to hunt him down and talk with him; she’d divined dozens of ways to force an interaction between them, from accidental entry to his study to fabricated reasons why she might need to discuss his sister.
Unfortunately, Swara’s entry into society looked to be going quite smoothly—she would be ready in a week’s time—and Annika hadn’t been able to get up the nerve to enter Shivaay’s study.
Ironic, that, considering that the first time she’d entered Shivaay House, she’d brazenly entered Shivaay’s bedroom. But that had been different. That had been about the list. This was about something altogether different.
She’d considered using the list to gain access to Shivaay. After all, she had promised not to attempt another item without his chaperone, and she was rather chomping at the bit to try something else.
But, frankly, she felt rather pathetic whenever she thought of using it to see him. It made her feel like something of a lapdog—eagerly chasing after its master. No. The truth was that she didn’t want to have to seek him out. She wanted their interlude in the club which had changed somethings for her, well, she wanted it to change something for him.
She wanted him to come to her. Was that too much to ask?
Shivaay : Don’t you both look comfortable?
Annika blinked and looked at the doorway to see the man of her thoughts look at her with a bored expression.
Annika (thinking) : Did I conjure him up?
Seeing her hands entwined with Mahi’s, she tried to break free, but failed. She turned to Mahi who winked at her.
Mahi (whispering) : Relax. We did nothing wrong. Let him stew for a bit.
Her eyes widened as Mahi released her slowly, bending into a deep, somewhat overdone bow and making a show of kissing her hand. Annika’s eyes darted to Shivaay, leaning casually in the doorway still, watching them with an entirely unreadable look. She felt immediately uncomfortable—and indignation flared. Mahi was right, of course. They had only been dancing. So why did she feel as though she were an errant child caught doing something naughty?
Simon : Mr Oberoi. Thanks for hiring me. It has been a pleasure to teach Miss Gauri Mishra and her fiance. Ofcourse, it would have been more pleasurable if I did not have any interruptions from a disagreeable woman.
Annika’s eyes narrowed and so did everyone else’s. She prayed that Swara would keep her mouth shut, but it did not look like her prayer was heard for she heard an angry Italian retort. When everyone turned to Swara, she shrugged.
Swara : Would you like to be called disagreeable?
Simon (shaking his head) : I have never seen such a thing. How can foreign creatures be a part of the Elite? She will only disgrace your family, Mr Oberoi. After all, She’s not an Oberoi. She doesn’t have the blood of the Elite. God only knows whose blood she has.
At that moment, it seemed as the room would explode. The tension there was unmistakable. Annika noticed the hurt on Swara’s face and wanted to go to her, but she stayed where she was. This was Shivaay’s house and his sister. He would do the right thing, she knew it. Seeing Gauri moving towards Simon Patel, She caught her eye and shook her head slightly. Gauri stopped, but the fury on her face didn’t fade.
Shivaay spoke finally, his anger making his words sound like daggers.
Shivaay : I want you out of my house.
Simon looked at him, surprised.
Simon : You’re angry with me?
Mahi (in the same tone as Shivaay) : We’re way past that. You heard him. Get out of the house.
Shivaay : She is my sister. How dare you speak of her that way? GET OUT.
Mahi : Listen to this before you go. Swara is Elite whereas you are not. Do not go sticking your business where it doesn’t belong.
The embarrased Simon Patel left the room in a hurry. Swara smiled at his retreating figure and laughed.
Swara : That was well done.
Annika : Swara, Maybe…
Shivaay raised a hand to stop her. Annika froze.
Shivaay : Swara, Go back to your room.
Swara’s eyes grew large with confusion, then surprise.
Swara : But why?
Shivaay : If that man has given such a lengthy tirade against you, Surely somewhere it must be your fault too?
Swara : If it is, He deserved it.
Shivaay : You cannot provoke such a reaction, Swara. That is not what the Elite do.
Swara’s lips settled into a frown. She walked towards her brother proving her temper and will was just as formidable as Shivaay’s. The remaining people in the room watched the argument with varying degrees of trepidation, amusement and wonder.
Swara : I told you, it does not matter if I’m Elite or not. Let me go back to Italy.
Shivaay : You promised me time till January. It’s only October now.
Swara : You will find life far less troublesome with me gone.
Shivaay : Right now, I agree. However, we have already struck a deal. Do not renege, Swara. You will remain here till January and you will behave like the Elite. Now go up to your room before I decide that going to Italy will be the best choice for you.
Swara’s eyes turned around and walked upstairs but not before Annika caught the hurt crossing through her features. Annika watched her go before turning an accusing look on Shivaay. He met her gaze with a cool one of his own, daring her to protest his actions. With a barely perceptible shake of her head to indicate her disappointment, Annika followed Swara upstairs.
He watched her go before looking to Mahi and Om.
Shivaay : I need a drink.
Meanwhile, Gauri and Annika stood outside Swara’s room occasionally hearing noises from inside such as stupido and Shivaay in the same sentence. She also used the word mucca though they had no clue what that meant.
Annika : Go down to the kitchen and get some juice. It’ll calm her down.
Gauri nodded and walked back down. Annika knocked on the door and finding it unlocked, opened it to see Swara throwing clothes on her bed.
Swara : Stupida Donna. How could you agree to stay here with that idiota. Now where’s your suitcase?
Annika : What is mucca?
Swara looked at Annika surprised, then turned back to her cupboard removing the remaining clothes present.
Swara : I am leaving. Once I find my suitcase, I am definitely leaving.
Annika : Don’t you think you are over reacting, just a little bit?
Swara : Me? Not at all. This fight was inevitable. I just thought it might happen sooner.
Annika sat down in one of the chairs present watching the younger girl remove the clothes from the hangers.
Annika : Why do you think that?
Swara : He hates me. How could he not? I remind him of her.
Annika shook her head and spoke softly.
Annika : He does not hate you.
Swara : Ofcourse he does. You heard him. He agreed that he would be more happy if I was in Italy.
Annika couldn’t help the little smile that came at the young woman’s outrage—outrage that only intensified when she registered her friend’s amusement.
Swara : You find this amusing?
Annika : No.. I mean, not at all. You’ve never had an elder brother, have you?
Swara : No. The ones that I do have aren’t interested either.
Annika : Nonsense. He adores you. They both do.
Swara : You’re wrong. What have I brought besides scandal to them? ythem other than give them a bad name. I’m illegitimate in the eyes of the Elite. I’m not Elite. I’m foreign and I am not traditional or anything.
Annika (gently) : But Shivaay doesn’t care about any of that.
Swara : Maybe. But he does care that my mother was the woman who abandoned him. A woman he hates.
Annika : He cannot blame you for that.
Swara : Our mother was a horrible woman who cared about nothing but money and appearances. I was never allowed to touch her or play with her. Then she left when I was ten and did not even leave a note. That’s the sort of woman who gave birth to me. Why should he like me?
Annika : Because Shivaay has felt the rejection as well. He knows what you’ve been through. How can he hate you? Do you hate him or Mahi for having the same mother?
Swara shook her head, smiling sadly.
Swara : I love them. They’re my brothers. I always wanted siblings.
Annika : And they love you too. You just have to understand that.
Swara : But what if there is no place for me here? I am nothing like them. What if I fail? Where do I go? Do I belong here?
Annika held the younger girl in her arms as Swara considered the questions—the answers to which would decide her future.
And in the long moments they sat in silence, Annika realized that only Shivaay could make Swara see that she had a rightful place here.
She had to find him.