It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? Just one thing or the other kept coming in the way and I couldn’t write sooner. Thank you guys for your patience and I love you all so so very much. So here is the next chapter, I really don’t know what I have written but Enjoy…
CHAPTER 5 – A NEW LEAD
The clinking sounds filled the small bar as the soft country music played in the background, there were not many people since it was late at night, the few men and women couldn’t amount to fifteen if they were to be counted. Neil scanned the scarcely packed room, his lips turned upward into a faint smile when he spotted his friend sitting alone at the bar counter staring deep into his drink. Neil tapped on his shoulder and grabbed a stool on his right “so what’s with you?”
Arjun turned to him and smiled “thanks for coming bro”
Neil’s jaw dropped “since when are you this polite? Now am worried” Arjun just rolled his eyes return, he turned to the bartender “get me whatever he is drinking” he ordered and then turned to his friend who had called him just when he was about to go to bed and asking to come join him for a late night drink. “what’s wrong?”
Arjun let out a deep sigh “I found out that dad stole from Radhika” Neil’s brow drew together in confusion but before he could ask anything the bartender gave him his drinks, he acknowledged it with a small nod and turned back to Arjun “Radhika’s ATM card was missing and I found it in dad’s wallet and there are some checks worth more than ten millions that dad withdrew from Radhika’s account, I just don’t know what to think of all these”
Arjun took a sip of his drink “he couldn’t have done it” Neil said in assurance.
“and what if he did?” Arjun countered with his voice raised a little, he was not able to sleep since he saw Radhika’s bank statement, he was afraid that the investigation may bring up truths about his father that he was not ready to digest, he even ransacked his dad’s room looking for clues but found nothing so he decided to go have a drink and confide in someone about his fears “what if we are were all wrong about him all this while and he was still that same old materialistic man?”
Neil was well aware that the relationship between Arjun and his father had gone through many dynamics but apart from all the damages the father-son had done to their relationship earlier they rose above that and nurtured a beautiful bond that the two cherished, he knew the last thing Arjun needed at the moment was to be disappointed with his father. “so what, that still doesn’t make him any less of a father to you” He gulped down half his drink and continued “yes, we all know that your dad had made mistakes in the past but he had changed and we all witnessed that and above all he loved you Arjun. He may not be a good man but he was a good father and that you can’t deny” Arjun nodded as Neil’s words marinated in his mind “but I still believe he couldn’t have done it and if he did he must have had a valid reason for that and you have to find that reason”
“you are right”
“of course am right, Arjun that man was your father”
“how do you do it, how do you learn to happy with his absence?”
Neil sighed his lips forming a sad smile recalling his own father “you don’t, you can’t learn that you get used to it” Arjun put his hand on Neil’s shoulder “and eventually you just have to be happy believing that wherever he may be he is happy seeing you happy”
“since when I you this mature, now am worried” Arjun joked to lighten the moment making Neil chuckle.
Neil looked at the time it was past midnight “I better get back to my wife”
Arjun paid the bill “me too, I need to get back before Radhika’s wakes up and not find me in the apartment”
Neil looked at him with widened eyes “you mean to tell me Chashni doesn’t know that you are not home?” Arjun nodded leading the way out of the bar “you know you are too sometimes to be a detective, am starting to think you cheated in your police exams”
“like you did in your first year of law school?” Arjun retorted.
“I didn’t cheat, I helped a friend cheat”
“cheating is cheating”
Neil narrowed his eyes “Goodnight Arjun”
Arjun smiled “Goodnight bro”
Priya watched as Ankush quietly got himself ready for work, she has been dreading to talk to him since last night but feared he might just ignore her like he has been doing for the past days. Taking a deep breath she took his wrist watch and walked to him “here you go” she said softly handing him the watch.
“Tha..” Ankush stopped himself just as he was about to take the watch, he gave her one quick glance and walked passed her without a word, he opened the dresser and took out another watch.
“Ankush am sorry” her voice came out a bit hoarse, she went to him and hugged him from the back resting her head on his broad shoulders “please forgive me, please” she pleaded almost about to cry. He put his hands on hers that were on his chest, heaving a sigh he took her hands off and walked out of their bedroom leaving her dejected.
He found Mala feeding the twins and Dilip eating his breakfast while reading the newspaper lying on the dining table, he wished them for the morning and when Priya got out of the room he marched to the door bidding them goodbye “have your breakfast first” Mala said to him from across the dining hall.
“am not hungry, I will eat later at the office” he replied his hand touching the door knob.
“just sit down and have you breakfast” Mala told him.
Ankush turned “but mom” he trailed.
“I said sit down and eat your breakfast” she scolded him causing the twins to laugh at their father, Ankush glared them and they immediately stopped turning to their grandmother. Unwillingly, Ankush sat down next to Priya and ate.
Ankush was going to get into his car after the forced breakfast when the passenger door was opened and Priya hopped in, he watched her leisurely getting comfortable in his car going through the glove compartment “aren’t you getting in?” she asked putting the seatbelt on, lets see for how long you will not talk to me, she thought to herself watching him standing as a statue. Ankush knew exactly what Priya was trying to do but he wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction that her plan worked, he got into the car and drove off without uttering a word to her.
Two can play this game, she thought and turned on the radio switching between the channels every two seconds something Ankush hated but her stubborn of a husband wouldn’t let her win and remained quiet till they reached Taste Farm. “stubborn as a mule” she mumbled to his back walking towards to the elevator but she was not going to give she was determined to make him open his mouth and talk to her.
Tina kissed Edward goodbye and left their house to run a few errands, Edward watched her as she disappeared from his sight with painful eyes, he closed his eyes taking a deep breath as a lone roll down his right eye. Every time he shut his eyes the image of Tina and Jai he witnessed yesterday after leaving the clinic flashed before his eyes, he followed her and watched with his own eyes the woman he loves shatter his love and trust into pieces. Her words still lingered in his mind, her confession, her love confession for Jai.
Tina sat impatiently at one of the outside tables at the restaurant she was going to meet Jai checking her phone every two minutes, her face bloomed when she saw Jai walking towards her, her best smile adorning her face she greeted him with a hug which was unexpected and uncomfortable for Jai but remained quiet about it “how are you?” she asked chirpy.
“am good and you?”
“not so good” she breathed out, a waiter came to take their order and left after noting down what they wanted to eat “are you still single?” she asked playing with the floral centre piece.
“I don’t want to discuss that” he answered wryly, he was confused on her friendly advances when he clearly remembered that the last time they went on separate ways it wasn’t quite on good terms.
“Oh! Come on, we were once friends you can tell me”
Jai let out a sigh “Tina what’s going on here, why did you want to meet me?”
Their drinks came, Tina took a sip of her ginger lemonade and spoke “I want my daughter”
She did not just say what he never wanted to hear, all these years he feared about this same situation, he feared that Tina might come back and snatch his joy from him, his very own life but he was not going to let her have her way this time around “and how does that concern me?”
“Aria stopped being your daughter the moment you renounced your rights over her, she is my daughter and my daughter alone”
“I was naive then, I didn’t realise what I was doing until I couldn’t get pregnant again” Her eyes glistened with unshed tears “please Jai for our daughter’s sake, don’t you want her to know who her mother is?”
“she is not your daughter” he screamed buying attention of the other people around them “and my daughter knows all she needs to know about her mother, she knows her mother is dead”
Tina placed her hand over his on the table “I still love you Jai, we can be a family”
Jai looked at her with a pained expression, he knew that Tina was married and confessing that she still loved him came as a shock to him but it also made him conclude that she was still not well in the head, all the more reason to keep her away from his daughter. “Goodbye Tina and good luck with your marriage” he said and walked away, the waiter came with the food just as Jai was leaving and looked at Tina confused but she was the least bothered instead she was smiling wide, she looked happy and in all that she had failed to notice Edward who was sitting just behind her listening on the entire conversation.
Edward felt helpless and betrayed, he found himself in a dilemma when he thought about what his decision should be because no matter how hurt he felt he knew his heart still had Tina and Tina alone in it.
Taste Farm Offices
“I bet you ten bucks he is going to puke” Sam said munching on the potato chips
“I think he is going to finish it” Radhika replied her eyes glued on the laptop screen.
“look at him gagging, he it totally going to throw up” Sam countered.
“those are hiccups, am sure he will make it” Radhika said with her mouth hung open.
“its on then”
“you bet it’s on”
It was Japanese TV show where a man was competing to win two air tickets to any destination in the world by eating five kilograms of sausages in three minutes, sitting inside the president’s cabin Radhika and Sam watched the clip with so much enthusiasm that anyone who didn’t know this habit of them would most definitely declared them as mentally dysfunctional.
The man hogged on the sausages five at a time like the world was about to end, his gagging grew stronger and Sam cheered on, the last countdown began and the man emptied the plate his mouth full and he won. The studio audience along with Radhika cheered and Sam unwillingly gave Radhika the ten bucks. The host of the show congratulated the winner giving him the prized tickets, they gave him a mike to express his motivation for winning but the man hadn’t spoken two sentences when he all of a sudden threw up on the host’s black suit turning on a round of gasps from the audience and the show was immediately taken to commercials.
Sam and Radhika were laughing there asses off, it was nice every once in a while to unwind and be the kids they once were, just to laugh and leave the stress behind. “I told you he will puke”
“so who won?” Radhika asked holding out the ten pound bill.
“we both won” Sam replied and they high fived each other. Her phone beeped with a message from Piyali reminding her to talk to Radhika about the inheritance. Sam sighed, when she asked her mother how much her dad owe Piyali didn’t say anything expect that it was a huge sum of money and insisted that Radhika was their only solution.
“what wrong, you look pale” Radhika asked taking a few candies from the candy bowl she kept in her office. She threw one to Sam who failed to catch so she threw her another one and Sam caught it this time “whose message got you all worried?”
“it mom” Sam answered, taking a deep breath and continued “mom is asking you to, she wants you to… I mean you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to” she took another deep breath “mom thinks you should transfer your inheritance to dad’s name like you promised them you will”
Radhika didn’t look surprised instead she went on munching on the candies like she hadn’t heard what Sam said or it didn’t matter to her at all “so?” Sam asked not understanding Radhika nonchalance behaviour.
“I can’t Sam, am sorry” she sighed.
“what do you mean you can’t?” her brows furrowed in confusion.
“I can’t give your father something he doesn’t deserve”
“Radhika…” Sam said puzzled.
Radhika closed her eyes for a second, she opened them to see Sam visibly hurt with her words “am sorry Sam but I can’t do it and please don’t ask me why because I don’t want to lie you” citing a meeting Radhika stormed out of her cabin leaving Sam more confused.
Arjun sat in the waiting room of estate agent’s office waiting for him to finish a meeting he was in, he had come here was answers, answers that will help him solve his fathers case. From the bank CCTV footage he vividly saw his father withdrawing both the checks, there was not doubt now that Ajay did forge Radhika’s signature to get the money. Apart from that he had interviewed the girl who authorized the withdrawal and the scared girl who was new at her job explained how Ajay threatened her that Radhika the president of the biggest food manufacturing company in the country would get her sacked if she were to call her and confirm about the checks, fearing what the big shots would do to her career she silently obliged to make a mistake which now turned to be the biggest mistake of her career since the bank had just fired her after knowing the truth.
He pulled out his father’s financial history after that and discovered that Ajay had withdrew all the money in his bank account up to the last cent, he had sold the few shares he had on Taste Farm and if that was not enough Ajay had also sold their vacation home in Hampshire and their old apartment a place that had his mother’s memories. From everything that Ajay stole and sold the money now amounted to a good 46 million pounds and Arjun was able to draw only one conclusion, that his father was being blackmailed.
The money was taken in intervals and that told him the blackmailing was going on repeatedly and for a long time, he first sold his shares and withdrew all the money in his bank account six months ago, then sold their old apartment four months ago and lastly their vacation home three months ago. When he was out of properties to sell Ajay resorted to stealing, first took six million two months ago the most recent being just a day before his death three weeks ago. Since the money in question was nowhere to be found he believed that his father had delivered the required amount to the blackmailer and if that was the truth then why was he murdered still?
Deep down he knew how cornered and helpless his dad must have been to do all that he had done but it also hurt him that his father didn’t trust him enough to share his problems with his son but he had no time to feel sad over what had already happened, he now had to take action so he came to meet Ron hoping he would show some insights on his suspicions since both the properties were sold by the realtor Ron Butterick, an old friend of the Mehra family and a very good friend of Ajay.
“sorry to keep you waiting” Ron spoke bringing him out of his reveries.
“its okay” he replied getting up and Ron led the way to his cabin.
“would you like anything to drink?” Ron said when they had seated in his cabin and Arjun nodded in negative “so how can I be of any help to you?”
“its about dad, it appears that he was being blackmailed, do you know anything about that?”
“well it did seem strange that he wanted the money in cash but he didn’t tell me anything” he sighed “I should have known there was something wrong, the last time I saw him he seemed to be very on edge”
“on edge how?”
“he seemed nervous, scared even I don’t know he looked agitated”
“did anything else seem odd to you, did he tell you why he was selling the houses?”
Ron shook his head left and right “he didn’t tell me even when I asked him why he was so eager in selling his properties” Arjun pressed the sides of his head fearing that he might have come to another dead end “I want to help you with the case son but I don’t know anything”
Arjun gave him an appreciative smile “its okay, I will take your leave now”
“WAIT” Ron said high pitched stopping Arjun at the door “I remember something” Arjun turned hope shimmering in his eyes again “it was three months ago during the deal of the vacation house”
“am listening…” Arjun said out of patience.
**Three Months Ago**
Ron watched Ajay nervously tap the floor with his right leg, he looked at the final contract in his hand and then back at Ajay “are you sure about this?” he asked for the nth time that day irritating Ajay, the amount with which the vacation house was being sold was way less than what the house actually valued so he was bewildered with his friend’s eagerness to the sell the property so cheaply.
“yes, just tell me where to sign” Ajay replied irritated.
“it has been a week since we put the house on the market and am sure we can find a better offer if we give it time”
“time is what I don’t have”
“is it about money? I can lend you some, how much do you need?”
Ajay looked at his friend and smiled but his smiled held some pain that Ron couldn’t understand, it was evident something was disturbing Ajay but Ron didn’t dare to ask “where do I sign” Ajay asked again this time his voice was low like he was tired all of a sudden.
“Ajay, am your friend and you can tell me anything” Ron insisted.
Ajay chuckled to ease the tension in the room “I can handle everything don’t worry, now where do I sign and where is the buyer?”
The buyer came with a briefcase full of money and the purchase contract was signed by both parties, Ron then left Ajay in his cabin alone to go make more copies of the contract, when he returned it didn’t occur to him to knock on the door since it was his cabin and saw Ajay on a call who was unaware of the presence of someone else in the room. “I got the money destiny” he heard Ajay say before ending the call. Pretending that he hadn’t heard anything Ron walked to his chair and Ajay left the office just seconds after that.
“Destiny?” Arjun asked perplexed.
“that’s what I heard him say”
Is it a person? Of course it’s a person because dad was talking on the phone “is it a man or a woman?”
“I don’t know, I don’t know anybody with name and I don’t know if Ajay knew anybody that went by the name Destiny”
Arjun thanked him and left the office, his head on the verge of bursting with everything that was going on with the case, Destiny? Is Destiny the name of the blackmailer or is it a codeword of some sorts? Now who the hell is this Destiny character? But no matter who that person was it was now his job to find out.
So now a new lead on the case by the name of Destiny, any guesses who Destiny might be?
Love you guys.