Hello friends, hope you are all doing great, here is the second chapter. Please drop your views and suggestions on this one. Love you all and Enjoy
Chapter 2. Seed Of Doubt
El Milagro Palace
Piyali threw her phone in anger, she had just sent Kabir half of the money he asked for but didn’t know where she would get the other half and on the other hand Kabir kept bugging her for the money. “I should ask Samrat” she mumbled on walked out of her bedroom to go find him.
Samrat was in the backyard garden having his evening tea, he was leaning back on the weaved chair with his eyes closed and his right hand massaging his temple. “What’s wrong?” asked Piyali taking a seat adjacent to him.
“Business issues, some of my investments failed so I owe some people money” his voice was low, his expression restless.
Piyali cursed her luck, here she was going to ask him for money and he has money problems of his own “what made you do such investments on the first place?”
Samrat turned to face her his features contorted in fury “how the hell do you think we have been surviving all this time? Am not working any more so where do you think the money you blew up in your stupid shoppings came from?”
“But I thought… ”
“Radhika would transfer dad’s inheritance to me, yeah me too” he spoke in a appalled tone “I shouldn’t have agree with Ajay to resign” he sounded regretful.
“You told me the will binds her”
“Only for three years, according to the will she couldn’t transfer anything in the first three years but it has been five years now and she did nothing”
Piyali looked thoughtful for a while and spoke “Radhika is a sensible girl maybe she just forgot” she reasoned with him, if she was as bad as Samrat said she wouldn’t have let them stay at the palace.
He squeezed his eyes shut for a second “money changed her Piyu otherwise how can she forget to return the one thing that doesn’t belong to her. Every year she takes her entire family on vacations how do you think she pays for all of that, she is used to the luxury life now. She has tasted the good life and now she can’t afford to lose it”
“Maybe if you just talk her”
He fumed “you want me to go beg in front of her? Who is she? A daughter of a shopkeeper and you want me to plead to her for my dad’s money, my money?”
Piyali was desperate to collect the money for her brother “I will speak to her then if you don’t want to”
“You will not say a word to her about this, not a single word” he warned in a menacing voice.
She sighed feeling helpless, she understood her husband but at that time her brother was her first priority “we could ask Jai.. ”
“No” he said firmly confusing her, he relaxed forcing a smile on his face “he has Aria to look after I can’t burden him with my problems.” He sipped his tea that was now cold “besides Jai won’t be able to gather the amount I need”
“How much do you owe anyway?” She got on her feet with her gaze fixed on him.
His face grimaced “just some millions of pounds, about a hundred or so”
Piyali’s lips twitched up and down lost for words to say, her feet became jelly and she sat back down “hundred million pounds?” She asked almost screaming “Samrat how could you… ”
“I can fix this” he shouted “so stop giving me a headache” He got up and walked inside the house while Piyali sat still not able to comprehend their situation.
Priya’s car came to a screeching halt outside their residence, she turn the ignition off but stayed inside the car. Her mind was running faster than usual contemplating her current situation, Arjun’s words and her memory kept flashing in her mind burdening her more and she was unsure of what to think let alone believe. She leaned back on the car seat and her mind played the same disturbing memory again that took place a few weeks back.
Two Weeks Before The Party
Priya walked into her bedroom after putting her twins to sleep and saw Ankush sitting on the sofa his eyes glued on his laptop screen. She walked up to him and wrapped her hands around his neck pecking his right cheek warmly “let’s go to bed” she said in a childish tone.
Ankush pulled her to himself resting her on his lap and kissed her on her forehead “two minutes” he told her shifting his gaze back to his laptop.
She showered his face with sloppy kisses to divert his attention but she was no match to his concentration on the article he was reading. Sighed she turned her eyes on the laptop “the perfect poison to mask a murder” she read out loud, bewilderment covered her face when her brain absorbed the words she had read “what are you reading?
“Aconite, a very interesting poison” he replied his eyes denying to leave his laptop screen.
“Aconite?” She repeated looking at the screen again.
“Yes, fast reactive and hard to trace. The autopsy will show the victim died from a heart attack and the murderer would roam free” his tone had hints of excitement and that shocked her more “and since it’s used as auyervedic medicine so even if forensic do trace it you can easily get away with it saying the victim accidentally overdosed himself”
She got off his lap and walked to the bed “why are you even reading that?”
“I don’t know, for general knowledge I guess”
She looked at him with her brows drawn together, disarray still running in her mind “what?” He asked unable to decipher her expressions.
“It’s weird” she shrugged “it feels weird that you would read about a poison and you sound excited that is intractable”
“I told you just for general knowledge” he closed his laptop “or what do you think, that am planning to murder someone?”
She giggled “you and murder, no way” he went to her and she looped her arms around his neck “you are too sweet of a guy to commit a murder”
He traced his fingers gently on her face “But I can kill for you” he spoke in a thickly voice.
She puckered her lips as if in deep thought “Na uh” she spoke after some seconds and pecked his lips “you are a good guy you can never be bad”
His eyes danced with mischief as he cocked an eyebrow “are you challenging me to be bad?” She squealed when he picked her up abruptly and threw her on the bed, a gasp escaped her mouth when her back bounced on the soft mattress. He jumped on top of her pinning both her hands on top of her head “let me show you how bad I can be” her protest turned into a moan when he buried his face in the crook of her neck.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
She came back to the present with that sound on the car window, Dilip who had returned home and saw her lost inside the car looked at her worriedly. Taking her purse she stepped out of the car and locked it “all okay dear?” asked Dilip.
She nodded “am just tired”
Dilip patted her head “I understand the pain you are growing through but with time your wounds will be healed” his voice was fatherly filled with affection.
“I’m okay papa” she tried to assure him forcing a smile but her saddened eyes betrayed her “It’s just that I have a huge load at work that’s all” she added when she saw Dilip to be unconvinced.
“Then tell Ankush to take care of it, they shouldn’t burden you like that”
“I will” she replied walking inside the house.
Ankush came back home and found Priya in their bedroom with her face buried in her palms “you left the office without telling me and didn’t even answer my calls, why?” he complained. “What happened?” He asked when she didn’t reply.
Priya sitting on the edge of the bed raised her head to face him “dad was murdered” she cried.
Ankush immediately ran to her and took her in his arms “am so sorry baby” he coaxed rubbing her back.
She broke the hug “he was poisoned with Aconite” she told him her eyes studying his reactions.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“The poison you was reading about that night was also aconite, remember?” She didn’t know the outcome of her words she just wanted to get her doubts out of her head.
“So?” he asked not able to put two and two together. Seconds ran in silence between but then he looked at her wide-eyed when realization dawn on him, he left his hold on her standing up “are you saying I killed your father?”
“I don’t know.. ” she chocked.
“I know you are hurt but you have not right to accuse me like this, My God! you are accusing me of murder” he spoke in a taut voice. With a grave expression on his face he stepped backwards increasing the gap between them “I never expected this from you, not from you Priya” he shook his head disappointed.
“Ankush.. ” her voice came out as whisper but he didn’t let her speak, he walked out of their bedroom slamming the door behind him, she flinched at the loud sound the door made as she broke into fresh tears.
Neil was taking his wife out for dinner to change her mind so he wont have to sleep on the couch for one more day, Jai had agreed to babysit for them and since it was Friday and Aria didn’t have school the following day he took her with him so she could spend some time with Kiaan. Jai was chatting with Preeti, ever since they had exchanged their contacts with each other they didn’t miss a day without messaging one other remembering their old times, it has just been a week but Jai found that they had a lot in common and couldn’t help but realise the attraction between them. Sam dressed in a simple but elegant noddle strap black dress saw her brother in their kitchen engrossed on his phone and thought to tease him “new girlfriend?” she asked with her eyebrows dancing up and down.
“She is just a friend” he replied.
Sam’s face brightened “so there is a girl”
“She is an old friend from school, just recently reconnected with her and she works in Aria’s school” he explained.
“Does Aria like her?”
He smiled “there are friends actually”
“And what about you, do you like her too?” the tease had left her voice, he wanted his brother to find a nice girl and be happy.
“No” he replied quickly “maybe” he added “I don’t know” he sighed.
She laughed “so you like her” she said in a confident tone and he nodded “then what’s the problem?” she asked when he looked gloomy.
“We won’t work out” he said sadly “Am never going to be able to give her the number one place in my life, Aria is always going to my first priority, she my daughter and my princess, what woman would love a man who can only give her a second place”
“I would” Neil chimed in who came out dressed up too.
“But you are not a woman” Jai teased him.
Neil placed his hand on Jai’s shoulder “if was a woman I would definitely fall in love with you handsome” he flattered his lashes at him and Jai took his hand off stepping away from him. Neil then winked at Jai who turned pale making Sam and Neil burst into laughter.
“Bhai, you like her Aria likes her, I say go for it” Sam said when they finished laughing.
“it’s different now, if I decide to be with her she is going to start to have expectations from me some of which I can never fulfil”
“But how would you know what she would expect when you won’t even try”
“That’s the problem little sis, I don’t want to try. I don’t want to give my daughter hope and then shatter her, I can handle a heartbreak but she can’t and I refuse to put her through such a situation”
Sam’s eyes glistened but she blinked to fight her tears though they were tears of happiness, few years ago Jai had only one ambition, power and today he was willing to let go of his happiness for his daughter. She had heard children changed people but she felt immense joy seeing that truth before her eyes “you are underestimating both your daughter and that girl, I repeat you wouldn’t know the results unless you dare to try” She patted his shoulder “all I can say is that the only thing keeping you away from finding happiness and possibly true love is your own fear… women are stronger than you think… and every woman is not Tina”
Jai chuckled, when did his little sister become so mature “you are probably right Sam”
“call her then, call her here” suggested Neil excitedly.
“I’m babysitting for two here, remember?”
“There is no best way to know if a girl really likes you than putting her into the most unromantic situation, so call her here and you can babysit together”
“It will be the ultimate test for her” Neil added “because if she can survive an hour with Kiaan she can survive anything” They all laughed hearing his words “what’s her name by the way?”
“Preeti” Jai said with a coy smile on his face.
“Pretty name” Sam remarked before bidding him goodbye and left for their dinner date. Jai checked on the kids first who were playing in Kiaan’s room and after a ten minutes debate with himself he dialled Preeti and asked her to join him and she happily agreed.
On the road, Sam was silently watching the side view mirror and after some time she spoke “take a right”
“We are going to the Fish Crab” he answered her for the route to the restaurant they were going to didn’t involve a right turn at that moment.
“Just do it please” she sounded desperate so he did what she asked without a word “I think that car is following us” she added indicating to the black SUV behind them “am sure its the same car that followed me that day”
Neil looked at the rear view mirror to look at the said car, yes the car had been behind them for quite some time but he didn’t care to think that they could be followed “relax” he told her when she saw her to get agitated. He took another wrong turn and the SUV was still after them, they stopped at the traffic light signal and watched as the SUV halted behind them “I will take another turn if its still behind us then we will figure out what to do next” she nodded. The traffic light turned green and he took a sharp right turn, they watched and waited but the SUV didn’t follow them, Sam relaxed “see, you were just paranoid” he told her and she nodded again, he passed her a bottle of water and she took a sip to calm her nerves.
Arjun returned home tired of happenings of the day, his father’s death was officially declared as murder and after much discussion with his chief that lasted for some days he was granted his wish to lead the investigation. The dining table was set with candle light dinner surprising him, a good surprise though.
“Oh! You are back” came Radhika’s cheery voice, she welcomed him with a hug and a peck on the cheek and he did nothing but smile at her “dinner is ready, go freshen up am starving.”
“what’s the occasion?” he asked motioning to the dining table.
She smiled “don’t act ignorant with I know you know”
He nodded and went to their bedroom “shit Arjun you really have done it this time, but what am I forgetting?” Radhika had the habit to celebrate even the little moments in their lives, but what was he not remembering “think Arjun think” He tried to recall but came up with nothing, helpless he decided to play it cool and if he did actually forget something he would just apologize and buy her a gift, that will make up for it.
He changed into comfortable clothes and joined her on the dining table “I made your favourites” she told him and he thanked her, the sweet aroma doubled his hunger and he jumped on the food instantly. Dinner was quiet, they both looked like they were waiting for the other to speak, finally Radhika asked “so how was your day?”
“Depressing” he replied with a sigh.
She placed her palm on his hand and squeezed it a little “I know it’s tough but now more than ever you need to keep cool head” he smiled at her gratefully “your chief called me and told me everything” she further said.
“Chief is getting too nosy for his age” he said displeased. Mark had become really close to Radhika since their wedding, he treated her as the daughter he never had and Radhika held immense respect and love for the man.
“He worries about you because he cares for you, we both know that you get too attached with your cases and you tend to act irrational at times”
“Are those your words or his?” His voice was mocking, he was not a kid nor his father’s case was the first to handle so he hated to be checked upon like a rookie.
She sighed “he is concerned that one more misconduct act in your file will make you lose your job and since he is retiring soon he is afraid he won’t be able to save you any more”
Since when did he needed saving? He thought, but he knew his chief was right, he tends to be reckless sometimes taking his cases personal and this one was about his father’s death so he was sure to cripple the culprit before he takes him to court “Okay, Okay stop your preaching. I will take care I promise”
“Thank you” she replied smiling.
“I thought this dinner was because of some special day I had forgotten”
Her mouth fell open releasing a gasp “can’t I do something nice for my husband?” She accused him and he just shrugged in return, she picked up his plate and moved it aside “you don’t deserve this food” He glared her for a second but then took the serving bowl and started eating from it, her eyes rounded with surprise for his that behaviour but chuckled the next second shaking her head “you are impossible”
Arjun was checking his emails to see whether Priya had sent her the party video or not, everyday he had to remind and she state that she forgot and send later but never did, finding no emails from her he decided to call but his phone was snatched from him even before the call got connected. Turning his cellphone off Radhika turned to him “you can go back to your first love starting tomorrow tonight I want you all to myself” she said in a matter of fact tone.
“My first love?” He asked closing his laptop.
“Your job, I know you love your job more than me” she taunted him.
“What rubbish” he frowned.
She put her hands on her hips “rubbish? Who cancelled our honeymoon twice because of their job?”
He sprawled on the bed putting both his hands on the back of his head with his feet resting on the floor “I didn’t cancel I postponed” he replied as calm as ever.
“And when we finally made it to our postponed honeymoon” she air quoted the word postponed “we ended up spending just two days because you had to come back for a case”
He chuckled “a girl was kidnapped have some mercy woman”
She rolled her eyes “and what did you do on our second anniversary dinner,I bought a new dress and got myself all dressed up and I was enjoying my dinner until you arrested the waiter”
“He was a fugitive of the law” He chuckled recalling how funny that moment was, the restaurant manager came to them and asked if he was arresting the guy because of bad service, they didn’t know the guy they hired had been running from law for eight months after slaughtering his mother and step-father.
“And couldn’t you arrest him after dinner? I hadn’t even had the main course yet”
He laughed out loud at that, he knew Radhika was bringing up all those moments to cheer him up since he has been emotionally drained lately, raised himself in a seating position “so what do I have to do, Mrs. Detective?”
Her face beamed with a smile “dance with me” she said and pulled him up to his feet. Playing the song soch na sakhe from her phone she looped his arms on her waist and wrapped hers around his neck and slowly swayed to the music getting lost in each other’s eyes.
“I love this song” she said softly looking into his eyes.
“And I love you more” he told her and pecked her forehead. He saw her lost in some thoughts, he tightened his hold on her “what are you thinking?”
She smiled “about our dates, we haven’t been on many dates why is that?”
He pulled her up that her sole rested on his feet without breaking the rhythm “that’s because whenever I plan something romantic you had plans of your own taking me to bed”
She shrugged “what to do when you are so irresistibly yummy” she kissed him on his neck and smiled “yummy” she said licking her lips. He leaned in capturing her lips and deepening the kiss with every passing second. When he broke the kiss he touched his forehead with hers breathing heavily like her “you know I love you right” she said and buried her face in his chest.
He sensed restlessness in her and pulled back “what’s wrong?”
“am scared” she whispered “I have a bad feeling, like something bad is going to happen and I can’t seem to shake it off”
He held her again rubbing her back “I won’t let anything bad happen” he assured her. He picked up in his arms and laid her softly on the bed, he kissed her forehead warmly letting his lips to linger there for sometime “I love you” he told her smilingly and she smiled back at him. They laid on the bed cuddling to each other talking about random things, each trying to make the other feel better.
Preeti, Jai and the kids had a great time together with fun and games, Aria was on cloud nine to spend time with her friend, she had grown really close to her in just a short time even Kiaan who never liked strangers warmed up to her instantly. They had pizza for dinner and later Preeti took the kids to bed and read them a bedtime story. With the kids asleep Jai poured wine for them and they sat in the living room watching random channels until they settled on a cooking show.
“You are a natural with kids” Jai told her settling on the couch beside her, handed her a glass of red wine “Kiaan never opens up to strangers easily but he was happy with you”
She smiled “I have my charms”
“That you do” he replied in a husky voice making her blush.
“Tell me about Aria’s mother” she said after a some minutes of silence.
He took a sip of his wine and sighed “there is nothing much to say about her”
“Oh! Come on, you have a child with her so am sure there is something to talk about her” she insisted.
He rubbed the back of his head, he never liked talking about Tina but if he wanted to have a relationship with Preeti he was going to have to come clean someday so why not today “she loved me but I didn’t, I was in love with someone else or lets just say I thought I was in love with someone else” A line appeared on her forehead so he explained further “in simple words we can say she was obsessed with me and I was obsessed with someone else”
She turned her gaze back on the television for a second and looked back at him “Do you regret it?”
“No” he answered and he saw her to be somewhat disappointed, he smiled “she gave me the most precious gift of my life in form of Aria and for that I can never regret what she and I had” he added and he saw her to smile at that. “lets talk about something else” he said to change the topic because that was the only things he was ready to share with her about his relationship with Tina at that moment, though years had passed he still found it difficult to revisit the past.
“When are your sister and her husband coming back?”
Is she bored already? He thought and looked at the time “they are probably on their way” she nodded and went back to watching television, he stared at her for some time and sighing he moved his eyes on the TV as well.
Fish Crab Restaurant
Neil and Sam had a great time, dinner was delicious and they danced afterwards adding joyous moments to their date night. They walked out of the restaurant hand in hand talking and laughing when Sam’s eyes fell on the black SUV parked across the road from the restaurant, the same black SUV that she thought was following them “Neil, isn’t that..” she had started to speak pointing to the car when she saw the black tinted window to slowly roll down. Her eyes went wide in shock seeing a gun peeking from the window aiming at them, on impulse she quickly moved in front of Neil covering him.
BANG BANG BANG
Three shots were fired and SUV sped away leaving behind screams of the people who were outside the restaurant. Recovering from his shock Neil looked at his wife “Sammy are you okay?” he asked in a shaky voice.
Sam nodded “am fine, am fine” her voice came out wheezy in fear. Still in disbelief Neil inspected her to make sure that she was actually fine “I thought they were going to shoot at us” she cried, she was trembling and he held her close to calm her down.
“somebody please call an ambulance” came a scream from behind them, when they turned they saw a middle aged woman kneeling before a bleeding man who had been shot “they killed my husband, they killed my husband” she cried as more people from the restaurant came out for help.
After the ambulance came ten minutes later and took the man who had died on the spot Neil took Sam to their car and they drove home all the way watching if they were followed and fortunately they reached home safe and sound.