I am back with the next chapter in this story
Ria Khanna – Ragini
Shiv Kapoor – Sanskar
Lav Khanna – Laksh
Shikha Lav Khanna – Swara
Sharad Khanna – Shekhar
Jaya Khanna – Janki
As he stood in front of her, Ria realized that he hadn’t recognized her. It has been a long time after all. 9 years. She had changed a lot in these 9 years. It wasn’t surprising that he could not recognize her. He had changed a lot as well, but his voice and his mannerisms made it easy for Ria to recognize him.
Ria unclenched her jaw, much against her natural inclination. She had no intention of letting him know that she had recognized him, let alone display any reaction to him.
“Why can’t there be a third reason? That the girl isn’t someone who suffers fools happily?” she asked standing gracefully in front of him, maintaining a neutral expression- one that she would reserve for a stranger who elicited mild annoyance.
“I really like this third option” he said with a chuckle “It is my favorite one, in fact.”
Ria glanced at the glasses he held in his hand and commented “I didn’t realize the waiters here wore dinner jackets or were allowed to flirt with the guests”
Something akin to annoyance passed his eyes for a second, before he schooled his expression quickly and smiled at her. “When the girl in question is beautiful, even a guest wouldn’t mind waiting on her” he told her nonchalantly
“Wouldn’t it be presumptuous of the guest to assume that the girl would prefer orange juice? It is orange juice isn’t it?” she asked pointing to the glasses in his hand.
“Something tells me that you are someone who would prefer orange juice” He said casually, offering the drink to her.
Ria saw a waiter pass by, carrying glasses filled with champagne. She picked a glass from the tray before turning to the man in front of her. She titled her head to indicated her choice. He titled his with a smile, and handed the glass to the waiter, before picking up a glass of champagne himself. He raised the glass to her, in acknowledgement.
“I guess you got it wrong” Ria said taking a sip of the champagne
“I could have sworn you would have preferred orange juice. I never get it wrong” he admitted quite casually, never letting his charming behavior slip
“There is always a first time” Ria said, feeling pleased with herself.
“I like your unpredictability” he admitted, giving her a lopsided smile, before introducing himself “Hi” he said extending his hand out to her “I am Shiv. Shiv Kapoor. And you are?”
She looked at his hand. She was very clear in her mind that she was not going to shake it. It was a miracle that she had spoken to him as long as she had without strangling him.
“Someone you better stay away from” said a voice behind her.
She turned around to find her brother standing behind her. Lav was looking fiercely at him as he walked over and stood next to her. Lav looked at her with concern “Are you okay? Is he bothering you?” he asked
“I am fine Bhai” Ria assured him with a smile “I can handle this”
Lav stared at her for a long time before finally nodding and turning to look at him. “I am watching you. One wrong move with my sister and I will pulverize you” Lav warned him.
He raised his hands in the air, as if to say he posed no threat, but his eyes said something else altogether. Ria felt annoyed at the casual attitude that he was throwing at her and her brother.
Lav looked at him, narrowing his eyes for a second, before glancing at her again and then walking away.
“Protective brother it is, then” he said, after Lav had left
“I guess you bring it out in him” she told him, matching his casual stance
He chuckled and Ria had to force herself to not clench her fist and punch him in the jaw right then. “I guess he is a bit sensitive when it comes to me”
“You do seem to have a knack for rubbing him the wrong way” she said, making it seem like a casual observation, despite fuming inside.
“What can I say?” he said leaning against the table “I have been winning a few contracts from him. I guess it isn’t going down well with him”
If it has been any other girl, Ria was sure she would have found his attitude charming. But Ria wasn’t any other girl. And what worked for other girls would never work on her. And especially not when it came to him. The only place, where he stood ahead of the rest in her list, was on the list of people she would like to kill slowly.
“Had been” Ria corrected him
“What?” he asked
“You had been winning contracts. Past tense.” Ria told him calmly “You won’t anymore. Now I have joined him in the business and I intend to win.” she added with smile, before walking away from him
“I never lose” he told her confidently
“There is always a first time” she added with a side glance at him before walking away gracefully.
“You seem to have bumped into your secret admirer” Ananya told Ria
“What?” Ria asked annoyed. She was already cursing herself for being pulled into coming to the party. If Rishabh hadn’t bothered her enough, she had to meet him! On the first day back home at that!
“I saw you talking to Shiv Kapoor” Ananya told her
“Don’t!” Ria warned her “Don’t even say his name”
Ananya smiled mischievously “Fine. I saw him talking to you. Actually, it seemed more like he was flirting with you”
Ria gave her a pointed look
“What?” Ananya said with a shrug “I am just saying what I observed. Wasn’t he flirting?” she asked
“He was annoying me. That is what he was doing” Ria told her grinding her teeth “He was gloating about winning against Bhai”
“You aren’t going to do anything are you?” Ananya asked tentatively
Ria shot her a look that spelled ‘how could you even think otherwise’
“Ria don’t burn yourself up, over him” Ananya told her softly
Ria met her eyes, staring at her intently. She finally nodded gently, before adding “I won’t. But if I face him again, I won’t back away either. I am going to join Bhai in the business and I am here to win”
Shiv stood there, shaking his head, as he saw her walk away. He had to give it to her, she was beautiful and confident. That was an interesting mixture. He broke into a smile as he watched her for a minute.
“Got the royal snub” he heard Sam comment, as he came and stood next to Shiv.
Sam. Sameer Mehra was one of Shiv’s best friends since college days. They had studied together in junior college and then again in Chicago when they completed their undergrad and then MBA.
Shiv smiled at him “That is called playing hard to get” he told him
“You aren’t one to run behind girls. What has changed now?” Sam asked him
“Nothing has changed. I won’t run behind her either, but there is something about her. I cannot put my finger on it” Shiv admitted, scrunching his eyebrows a bit. Something made him feel that there was more to her than met the eye. But what?
“She is Lav Khanna’s sister. He is not just a rival. He is an aggressive rival who seems protective of his sister” Sam tried to reason “You are playing with fire”
Shiv looked at him shaking his head “What would be the fun otherwise?” he asked
“It is usually sensible to keep personal life and business separate” Sam advised Shiv
“Anyone can handle things when they are separate. The challenge it when they are all mixed up and you succeed in both” Shiv told him with a confident smile
“You are going to end up with a big mess in your hands, if you mix the two, and you will lose on both sides” Sam warned him.
“If there is one thing that I hate, more than I love winning, it is losing” Shiv told him seriously “I don’t lose”
Links to previous chapters