Hey Guys!! Firstly, I am extremely sorry for being 2 days late with the update (seriously, I should be punished. Sorry :D) , got stuck with work and still had to finish writing the episode. Anyhoo, now that the episode is here, I sincerely hope you guys like it.
And a BIG thank you for all the appreciation and lovely comments that you guys have been showered in the previous updates, you guys make my day, ALWAYS
Lots and Lots of Love,
Episode 1 : episode-1
I had known Boss my whole life, and he was like a father to me, especially the last several years since my own sweet dad passed away. He finally looked me in the eye, but his palms were sweaty. “Ragini, my girl, you know it’s time for me to try out retirement. At least that’s what Aparna says.”
I smiled. “I think you will be great at it.” Then presumptuously I added, “And you know I’ll take good care of things here. You won’t have to worry.”
He smiled too, but it was subdued. That’s when my heart sank and a sudden realization hit me. “You’re not making me Director are you?”
He squeezed my hands. “Ragini, there’s no question you’re the most talented and dedicated employee that has graced these walls in the last twenty five plus years, and there’s no doubt in my mind that you would be an excellent Director.”
“But …” I said.
“There is no but, Ragini. You would be excellent. This has been perhaps the toughest decision of my career, but I feel like it’s the right one, and I think you will too once you understand what Lakshya has to bring to the table.”
I jumped up; it was a knee jerk reaction. “You’re making him the Director?”
Boss was definitely surprised by my reaction. I forgot he didn’t know that Lakshya and I had a history. And believe me that ticked me off. Lakshya should have told him he knew me and how he knew me. Maybe then Boss would have thought twice about his asinine decision. Maybe I should tell him, I thought. Or maybe I should quit. I can’t and won’t work for Lakshya.
Boss looked up at me with confusion. “I know you’re disappointed, and rightly so, but this isn’t a reflection on your capabilities. Look at this as a new opportunity.”
“How?” I asked.
“Lakshya has extensive contacts in the technology sector. He just sold his own technology company for 25 Crores.” Boss was desperately trying to sell the idea to me.
That sounded like Lakshya. Looked like his plan was right on schedule. That meant he was married now, too, with two kids.
Boss stood up and took my hand again. “Your digital ad design needs him. He can take this product national, maybe even global. Not only is he a master businessman, but he knows development.”
I wanted to say, Tell me something I don’t know. I knew Lakshya had a degree in software development, in addition to his business graduate degrees.
I pulled away from him and began pacing back and forth, running my fingers through my perfectly curled new-Director hair. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier, and when did you even meet him?”
“I met him at that Marketing Technology conference in Bangalore last year. And I didn’t tell you because, like I said, he’s a savvy business man.” Boss laughed. “He made me sign an NDA before we even began discussions to explore this idea.”
I rolled my eyes. That sounded like Lakshya—always cautious and in control. Boss approached me again and led me back to my chair. “Ragini, please sit down.”
I sighed and reluctantly complied.
Boss took my hands right back as soon as we sat down. “Ragini, look at this like a partnership. Without you on board, this isn’t going to work. The office staff loves you too much.”
“It’s too late to butter me up.”
He laughed nervously. “That sounds like my girl.”
I didn’t find this humorous at all. “I’m going to have to think about this. There are other factors to take into account.” I stood up. “I’m going home for the day.” His face dropped.
I got up and walked toward the door that joined our offices together.
“I’ll give you a raise,” Boss yelled out.
I didn’t even bother looking at him. I opened the door. “If I stay, you bet you will.”
I didn’t know if any increase in pay was worth working with Lakshya. I just couldn’t believe Lakshya as going to be the Director. The big question was why he wanted to be. It sounded like he had plenty of money now, and he darn well knew I worked there. He always did his homework; I bet he already knew every employee’s name and his or her vital statistics.
I walked over to my desk and looked around my office lovingly. It was spacious and stylishly decorated; I even had a private bathroom. The view was great too. It overlooked a small lake and walking path. It was going to really suck to give it all up, especially for the man that did some pretty major damage to my heart all those years ago. It had taken me a long time to get over him, but you never forget your first love, especially when you felt the way I felt about Lakshya.
As a precaution, I placed the pictures of my nieces from my desk in my satchel. I wasn’t sure I was ever coming back. The thought made my stomach roll. How did this happen? I was expecting a promotion this morning, not a figurative slap in the face.
When I walked out of my office, Akriti looked up from her computer. She smiled tentatively. “Should I transfer your calls to your mobile?” she asked with trepidation.
I held back the tears. “That won’t be necessary.” I tried to smile at her, but I couldn’t. I just kept on walking. I passed the conference room on the way to the stairs, and it was like Lakshya was waiting for me.
“Ragini,” he called out.
I ignored him and walked as fast as my high heels would allow. Unfortunately, it wasn’t fast enough. He easily caught up with me on the stairs.
I stopped on the landing. Looking at him invoked a deep hatred and an overwhelming desire to slap him, but I decided lashing out verbally would probably be more appropriate. “Why? So you can gloat about stealing my job?”
He walked down the stairs like he really was on a runway, and he met me on the landing. It kind of took my breath away.
“I would never do that. I didn’t know you were being considered for it until this morning.”
“Oh, so this was just a perk for you?”
His brows furrowed. “You know I’m not that kind of a person.”
“No, you’re wrong. I don’t know what kind of person you are; I don’t think I ever did. You already lied to Anirudh. You should have told him you knew me and how you knew me.”
“I didn’t lie to him,” he said flatly.
“Still using the Maheshwari white lie, I see.”
He was great at not telling the truth, all while telling the truth.
“He never asked, and I didn’t see why it was important to bring it up. This is business. It has nothing do with the fact that you and I knew each other previously.”
I just shook my head at him. I knew it shouldn’t bother me, but that was a little cold. We more than just knew each other, but I had to remind myself that our relationship had meant more to me than it had to him. He obviously didn’t even regard it as a relationship. This wasn’t going to work; maybe it was just business to him, but for me, it was personal.
“You can make this your first order of business then. As of this moment, I resign.”
I turned and flew down the stairs. By this time, the foyer as alive with activity. I tried to remain calm and unemotional as a plethora of people wished me good morning. I faked it the best I could, but once I hit the parking lot, the tears came as well as a strong urge to throw a rock through his pristine, white Mercedes. I refrained from acting on that particular violent thought. Instead, I just took off in my car and all the memories that I had kept buried in the back of my head of the day, Mr Money-Bags-Who-Steals-Others’-Jobs, broke my heart into pieces I could never even count, came rushing to me.
“You know I’m crazy about you, right?”
“Yes, but I’m crazier for you,” would have usually been my response.
But not tonight. Believe me; I was more than crazy for him. I was head over heels, stop the presses in love with him, and I had decided tonight was the night I was going to tell him. Before I did, I reached up on my tiptoes, tugged on his shirt to pull him closer, and kissed those lips of his once.
Then I went for the gold. “I love you, Lakshya Maheshwari.”
He immediately stepped back with a troubled look on his handsome face. Ok, it wasn’t the reaction I wanted, but this was Lakshya, so I wasn’t too surprised. After all, I was the one who pursued him. Even though he thought I was too young, he eventually relented. I was eighteen at the time, and he was twenty-five. I smiled nervously and stepped closer to him.
“Lakshya, it’s ok if you don’t say it back right now. I just couldn’t hold it in any longer.” I wrapped my arms around him, waiting for him to reciprocate, but he was stiffer than his starched collar. “Lakshya?”
“Ragini, you’re too young to be in love.”
I looked up at him and laughed. “Did you really just say that?” Sometimes he sounded like my Dad.
“Why do you have to complicate things?” He sounded angry.
“How is me loving you complicating things? Because, FYI, I’ve been in love with you for months.”
It was true, and I had math to blame. I was a pretty smart girl who got into Delhi University; but for some reason, I couldn’t get math, and I needed to in order to keep my grades in the university. That’s when I met Lakshya. He was into his Post Graduation by then, completing his MBA, and to make some extra money, he tutored. It was the best money my Dad ever spent.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw him sitting in the campus library, looking more serious than any twenty-five year old should. But there was something about him. I don’t think most women noticed him, and that was a shame because once you got past his serious exterior, he was really a very charming and considerate fellow—and he was actually a looker, but that was muted by his clothing and quiet, serious mannerisms. He had dark brown hair with a slight curl that just begged you to run your hands through it, and he had Chocolaty eyes and a strong jaw line that has gorgeous stubble. But he dressed like a forty year old in trousers and button up shirts. To me, though, he was adorable.
“This wasn’t in my plan. I’m not ready for this kind of commitment,” he stammered.
Lakshya had his whole life mapped out, and he wanted to map mine out, too, but I refused. Sure, I liked goals and a rough outline, but I also liked the freedom to do what seemed right in the moment, regardless of plans. Besides, I was young and he was too, but somehow he always forgot that. Don’t get me wrong, I loved his drive and dedication, but he really needed to simmer down sometimes. I succeeded, once in a while, in getting him to take it down a notch or two, but it was a hard job—a job I dearly loved.
“Lakshya, I’m not asking you to commit to me for life … yet,” I teased.
He didn’t look amused at all, so I just kept talking.
“I’m happy where we’re at. I just wanted you to know how I feel. I’m not expecting anything from you.”
He looked at me wryly, and then he began to pace back and forth in front of me. I stood in front of him and watched him as a summer breeze began.
As he walked past me, I grabbed onto his hand. “Lakshya …”
He looked at me with eyes as hard as stone. I wasn’t sure I had ever seen him look so cold; it gave me shivers in the warm summer air.
“Why did you have to ruin everything, Ragini?”
My eyes started to water. In the nine months we had been dating, Lakshya had never made me cry.
“Lakshya, what are you saying? Just forget I said anything. I’m sorry.”
He let go of my hand. “I’m sorry too, Ragini.”
And that was it. He left me standing there alone in the middle of our university garden, inconsolable with tears silently falling down my cheeks, feeling like December in May.
Instead of heading home, I headed for my sister, Shikha’s, home. Hopefully the kiddos were already off to school. I loved my nieces, Arushi and Arika, to pieces, but I needed their mommy this morning. She was only five years older than me, but she had been mothering me since I was little, especially after our mother passed away when I was six.
Once in a while our aunt would contact us, but for the most part we didn’t have any kind of a relationship with her. It was sad, but we had dealt with it for so long, we just considered it our life. We’ve never expected anything from her. Besides, our dad was the greatest, and he made sure we turned out alright.
In fact, I think we turned out better than alright, especially Shikha. She was the best mom and wife ever. My brother-in-law and dentist, Vidyut Sharma, hit the jackpot. Honestly, he was great too, but no one held a candle to Panda, as I endearingly called her because she was so cuddly and also because that’s my spirit and the most favourite animal.
As I pulled into the drive of her perfect home in a posh township, I realized I had several missed calls on my phone. First, it was Boss, then Akriti, then a number I didn’t recognize. I could only guess who that was. It didn’t matter; the only person I wanted to talk to shared my DNA. It showed too. As we got older, we’d frequently been asked if we were twins. I wish we were twins, the identical kind, because Shikha was gorgeous inside and out.
I completely turned off my phone and threw it in my satchel. It felt weird because, to me, it was like an extra appendage and I wasn’t used to being off on a weekday, but turning it off was also kind of freeing. Too bad I liked to eat and pay bills and be a responsible adult.
Thankfully, I had a good amount in savings. I had never touched the life insurance money I received from my Dad’s passing either. I was saving it for a house one day. Shikha frequently bugged me about buying instead of renting, but to me, buying a house now was saying I was planning on being single forever. Like a schoolgirl, I imagined I would be picking out my first house together with my husband as we talked about what rooms our kids would eventually have. And, honestly, I just didn’t want to live in a big house all by myself; it would only remind me more of how lonely I was sometimes.
I hurriedly walked up to the front door and retrieved my key. “Panda, are you home?” I yelled out as soon as I opened her door.
“Come on back, baby girl,” I heard her yell back from the kitchen. I rolled my eyes and grinned. Maybe someday we would have to come up with new nicknames. I threw off my heels and walked back to the kitchen to find my sister, Tarla Dalal, baking away. It smelled like homemade bread.
Perfect, I needed a carb coma. My floured, apron-clad sister looked over at me from the oven. “Who died now?”
I couldn’t help but cry again. Suddenly, the full weight of my on-the spot decision really hit me.
“Oh my, did someone really die?” she asked as she came over to wrap her arms around me.
“No, just my career.”
She stepped back and looked at me. “What do you mean, honey? Anirudh would never fire you.”
“He didn’t,” I responded. I told her the whole ridiculous story. She had never met Lakshya, but she knew what he had meant to me and how devastated I was when he broke up with me.
“Well, that’s quite the story. Are you sure he knew you worked there?”
“What does that mean?”
“I just find it interesting, that’s all. Is he married?”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“You don’t find it weird that your ex-boyfriend just all of sudden shows up after how many years and becomes your boss?”
“You don’t know Lakshya; this has nothing to do with me. It’s purely business for him. He’s an opportunist.”
“I bet he is,” she responded.
“Seriously, sis, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She shrugged her shoulders and led me to her kitchen table. We both sat down.
“So you’re really going to let this guy take what you’ve worked so hard for?”
I laid my head down on her table and moaned. “What else can I do? I can’t possibly work for him. I used had make out sessions with him, and I told the guy I loved him and he told me that was a complication and never talked to me again, until today.”
My sister grinned evilly. “Was he a good kisser?”
I slowly lifted my head up. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“It’s all in the kiss, right?” She smiled toothily.
“You have no idea.”
“That good, huh?”
“Best ever. You see why I can’t work for him?”
“Are you kidding me? Show this guy who’s boss and what he missed out on all these years.”
I tapped my fingers on her perfectly cleaned table.
“I don’t know, sis.”
She stood up, looked at my pathetic figure, and took off her apron. “I say we go shopping and get our nails done while you’re contemplating.”
I wiped the tears out of my eyes. “You really are the best.”
She winked. “Tell me something I don’t know, baby girl.”
Next Update : 19th July (Pinky Promise :D)