String Of Hearts
Chapter-14 (There is more to them )
Radhika fumed in silence while being jostled about in a car that looked and drove like a bullock cart belonging and made from a sixteenth century old wood. Driven by man who could barely see the road. He went on about how he was still young while a five year kid walked by faster than his daisy. He called the junk of metal that. Most of the ride he either stopped before a tree saying that it was a traffic signal while both of their mouth hung open. He proudly said his age while coughing all the way in an unsteady voice. His soul an eighteen year old and well his body was around seventy. The reason wasn’t all this because she was sulking. She was sulking at her so called husband’s behaviour. He pointedly ignored her through out while coming out of the jungle and while travelling now.
Well, they finally found the way out of it. Eventually. After toiling around all afternoon. They looked more like zoo animals and the one’s marooned for years and now had found land somehow.
He sat in the front seat while not even glancing back at her, not even to see if she was there or had vaporized into thin air. He seem to not care at all. It stung her pride and hurt a little. He seriously had a problem psychologically. It was so not cool of him to ignore her like this. Seems like he blamed her for all this. Well, she wasn’t the one who drove the car into a frozen tree for heavens sake. So she wasn’t the only one to blame. The major credit for the things happening to them should go to him not her.
Whatever anyway. She was tired. Hungry. Dirty. Sleepy and in need of a long bath. Oh, she would kill for a lavender bubble bath right now. Her feet were killing and sour. It felt like she was hung over or something. All of her muscles ached and she wondered if there was any place in her body that doesn’t hurt now. Her eyes filled up. She craned her neck side to side and willed her mind to fess up. Now was not the time to cry. She can go through a lot than this.
For hours the car drove and when the dusk set in the desert cleared off to some little houses here and there. There were a little evidences of civilisation near the side of the road. Her eyes rounded looking at a clothes store at the far end street.
“Holy crap! There is a store!” She shouted and almost dived out of the running car.
She heard a loud grunt and curse.
“At least wait for the car to stop!” He shouted after her.
She ignored him with a huff and almost tripped over the steps.
“Careful there, woman!” This time the sharpness in his voice and command in his tone did not fail to fall flat at her ears but jarred at her nerves.
She simply ignored him.
Whatever. She didn’t look back but flew towards the clothes aisle immediately followed by people of the store to shoo her off. Well, it wasn’t a surprise. She looked like a wild stray not at all in suite with the elegant and chic style of the store.
Arjun stood there sighing at the counter. A man slid beside looking at the clothes. He gave Arjun a once over.
His eyes came back up.
“Girlfriend?” He asked looking sadly at his attire.
“Wife.” He muttered ruefully.
The man shook his head.
“Mine is only a girlfriend.” He said looking a little relieved…”I’m so sorry for you, man.” The man concluded regretfully and went.
It was all white and marbled and cosy and all lovely with beautiful dresses hung about and around. The colours were bold and also there light ones. Wow! It was simply amazing. The whole decor of the interior was red, pastels and played with the colours so beautifully.
She was all but lost in the world of refinery when suddenly her eyes caught a pair of doe eyed stare. She frowned at the way of such a glazed look when suddenly she stiffened to the floor.
She looked at the man responsible for such looks all around. Her face and neck flushed and her cheeks burned. Here she was toiling around this psychotic man all day and night. Roaming around and staying at his recluse mansion bearing got knows the number of torturous and whiplash of his moods and he stood there getting all the god damn attention of the women around. Oh, if they only did not go for his looks but the inside working of his bizarre brain then they sure were going to run for the hills or possible run miles away from the guy.
Radhika fumed, burned and blistered as she kept staring at a woman who was smiling slyly across her husband.
The doofus wasn’t even aware that he was being hit on. Her upper lip curled in a sneer.
Great. He was always a walking talking chick magnet. There. Today, it’s done. She needed to lock him up in a room. That way nobody is going to give him the sly eyes and inviting smiles.
Radhika slid her glance back at the woman. She wasn’t even seeing the dresses. It was an act to look at him closely.
Her chest moved up and down with strained breaths. He was smiling down his mobile again. Ugh, he was doing that since an hour. What the heck was in that she didn’t know. Was he chatting with someone? With who? The porcupine wouldn’t even smile at a cute bunny, now he was showing his perfect teeth for everyone to see? What the hell.
With widening of bemused eyes she saw him grin while he kept tapping at the phone. Her jaw grinded. That’s it.
She marched to his side and nudged him hard in the ribs with her left elbow.
“What the heck are you smiling about?” She gritted.
He bent forward and gave a howl of a pain. She snorted. What a wuss.
He turned his scrunched up face to the side.
“Ugh…What the f**k was that for?” He said through clenched teeth of pain.
When he cursed again, Oh it burned the anger course and boil into her veins more. She bent to his eye level and glared.
“I said what the heck are you smiling about?” She asked again in a cold voice.
His scrunched up face turned red and his eyes widened looking at her angry features.
“What?” He asked bewildered.
Radhika shook her head, rolled her eyes and straightened.
“Ugh! just great, I got married to a dumb guy.” She groaned irritated at his confusion.
He straightened and rubbed the place where it hurt still. He glared across at her completely pissed off now.
“Is your brain addled? Do I need to call the mental hospital? If you keep on hitting me with those elbows, swear to god I’m going to wring your neck like a chicken and….”He started to raise his voice but then she tuned him out with an eye roll and turned around.
Arjun was surprised to the core at her nonchalant attitude. His anger would have dissolved any girl to tears, but this one just kept shocking him at every turn of their conversation. Now, he was furious.
“Hey! You don’t dare walk away from me when I’m talking here….you come back, you little…”He went around, but stopped dead when she gave a shout so high pitched. It made him jump.
“Hey! You!” Radhika snarled at the woman.
The woman, tall, fair, thin wearing a short pink sleeveless dress paled at her shout. Her eye round caught Radhika’s blistering glare. She pointed a delicate manicured index finger to herself. She had on a bedazzled red coloured nail polish.
Like seriously. How much a barbie doll does the woman scream. So typical an uptown chick.
“M…m…me?” She asked stuttering.
Radhika fumed and put her hands over her hips.
“Yeah, you.” She said disgusted..”What are you looking at?” She gritted out.
The woman just kept staring at her nervously and she again looked over Radhika’s shoulder.
Radhika’s face cleared and tautened. She turned her head to the side and saw him popping his head to the side to look interestingly at the woman.
Really? He wouldn’t look at his wife to observe and here he was…..ugh.
She pushed her hand to the side and hit his shoulder.
“Get behind me.” She ordered him, but before he could reply, Radhika turned her head around and moved forward.
The woman looked deadly frightened now.
“And you, were you looking at my husband, huh?” She asked in a hard voice and walking forward.
“N…no..no, I wasn’t.” The woman hastily replied.
Radhika got in her face and she cringed away.
“Don’t lie, I saw you giving him the eye. Don’t you have an ounce of shame to hit on a married guy..” She whispered threateningly down at the now almost crying woman…”You know what I’ll do, if you look at my husband again? huh?” She muttered down…The woman shook her head. Radhika smiled coolly….”I’m gonna gauge your eyes out and…” She started again, but very rudely her body was lifted up in the air as if she was a rag doll and was plonked to the side harshly.
“Haha, now now darling, that’s enough.” His steely voice so light travelled into her ears warningly.
Her chest was moving up and down in too much anger. Her breathing got escalated. She looked around to see people in the shop were watching her and the two of them with rounded eyes.
He looked around too embarrassed to the core. He smiled and laughed good naturedly. His left hand went down and he rubbed her head vigorously.
“Stop it.” Radhika tried to push at his hand which was spoiling her straight hair.
His wrist was like iron band. The veins were hard steel strips.
God, he had bison like strength.
“She is just crazy.” He explained while moving her head to and fro..”I was taking her to check with the psychiatrist tonight. Seems like I have to move up the appointment right away…” He muttered in explanation still to the displeased looking customers.
They nodded their heads sadly looking at her in understanding and moved about their way minding themselves again.
Radhika could not just believe what he said.
“Psychiatrist? How dare you…” She started to say but he closed her mouth tight with his right hand.
“Mmmsbnnmm.” Radhika tried to talk, and clawed at his hand with her failing ones.
“Enough of this. Shut up and keep walking.” He glared down at her, as his other hand caught her moving head firmly.
He plucked a few dresses from off the hangers and threw those over her head moving away his hand over her mouth finally.
Radhika breathed in relief and took the dresses off her head and observed those while walking.
What the hell. She glared up with burning red face while he made her speed walk fast to the changing room aisle.
“These are excel. Why do you think I’m extra size always. Do I look that fat to you and…”
Her mouth closed in a snap when he looked down at her with seemingly thunderous face.
Radhika cringed back. Oh crapity hell. He was angry. Her inner voice sing sang.
Awesome, you managed to piss him off again. She gulped hard trying hard not to look at his livid face. It was kind of scary when he put that hard mask on.
He pushed into the changing room and got in.
“What…what are you doing?” She spluttered as he roughly pushed her to the wall.
He put his right hand over her mouth and her eyes widened when he almost lifted her off the floor while holding his other hand around her waist.
Alright, he wasn’t just angry. He looked furious.
His face all grim and serious got down into hers. He held her captive to the wall and pinned her completely helpless.
“You.” He muttered gruffly and really with the all the harsh breathing he to contain the seemingly high temper…”You don’t embarrass me like that. Ever. The repeat of that should not happen again.” He threatened her while shaking her body too.
She tried to talk but his hand almost smothered her breathing.
He glared down at her. She nodded her head immediately in fear. He stared into her eyes while narrowing his gaze. Slowly like how the brew settles down in a tea pot the anger in his eyes faded a little. He slid his gaze all over her flushed face.
His hand around her waist went soft.
“Were you jealous?” He asked in a low burr of a murmur.
Her face burnt a little more.
She moved her head in a vigorous negative.
His left eye brow raised at that.
“Really?” He asked amusedly.
She moved her head again in a vehement negative.
A half smile covered his lips.
His hand on her mouth slackened but his fingers over her lips lingered burning into her skin.
He tilted his head to the side.
“Alright then, I’ll get the number of the woman. She looks real nice. I bet she will be free for dinner tonight.” He said in a lazy drawl, while smiling affably at her.
He turned around to leave.
She caught his hand immediately. He froze and turned a little while looking down at her hand. His eyes came back to hers all keen and intense.
His face creased into a warm shade.
He pulled at her hand and she went crashing into his chest.
“What?” He asked while steadying her.
His hands wound around her waist tightly. She looked up while his breath fell over forehead heatedly.
She somehow found her voice from somewhere. Her own voice sounded foreign now to her ears. It was weak and soft nothing at all like how she sounded normally.
“You…” She started but hesitated.
He nodded his head and stared into her eyes.
“You…” He encouraged her.
Jerk. He was deliberately doing this.
She tilted her chin up bravely. She would feel embarrassed later or face palm herself for this.
“If you go there…then…then..” She tried to find something to threaten him with…”Then, I’ll stop talking to you.” She concluded firmly.
Both of his eyes brows raised at that and then he mock frowned.
“Oh, no, we don’t want that, do we.” He murmured…”How am I going to find an entertainment if you stop talking suddenly.” He murmured again and chuckled lightly.
Her eyes narrowed and she beat her left wrist over his chest but he caught her hand in a firm grip and leaned down looking deep into her eyes.
“No, really, I like you getting overly possessive of me.” He smiled intimately and moved closer to her and his voice dropped a notch huskier….”It makes you look very very…..” His lips reached her left ear shell…”s*xy.” He kissed her there and she propelled out of his arms.
Her heart raced and her face reddened. She looked anywhere but at his face.
“Uh…um..we are getting late….we should be get going now…” She said hastily in a very affected tone.
She finally looked up into his face to see him watching her grimly. Well, he didn’t look happy suddenly.
“Yeah, let’s.” He murmured and she turned around, his hand went over the low of her back and her heart started racing again.
Finally they were done getting a little a human with some actual substantial food in their stomachs. He called for his car from the now charged mobile. The next step was to immediately hit the road. Thankfully, they had on clean clothes too. She wore a black and white half sleeved dress with black small flowers printed on the white satin. He wore a blue sweater over a white collared shirt and ripped denim jeans.
They did get in the car but he stayed silent and calm. It was unnerving. He ignored her again but his face spoke of being completely in a deep thought. He was though but why. What was he thinking? She was bewildered now again.
She wriggled her fingers nervously. His fingers turned white on the steering wheel. Whoa! He was angry. Her brows furrowed. She looked on tense at his averted face. He looked front but not at her.
“Alright. That’s it. The silence is getting to me. What’s wrong now?” She let out worriedly.
He straightened even more.
“What do you want me to say?” He counter asked in a low quiet voice.
He didn’t look back at her or held her eyes as he usually did.
“Anything other than ignoring me.” She said equally quietly.
He stiffened but finally looked back at her but with a ticking jaw. Okay.
“Alright.” He stared at her straight in the eye….” Why wouldn’t you let me touch you?” He asked her bluntly.
She stared into his eyes and words failed on her tongue.
“That’s…that’s not….true..” She replied stutteringly while looking away from his incessant penetrating eyes.
She heard him take in an exasperated breath.
“Then what is it?” He asked her still quietly and patiently.
She hesitated. There were alot things that came up to say but he wasn’t someone she would share those with. Except pushing his decision on her he wouldn’t listen to her. He made all the decision thing from the start. What was the point to talk otherwise. It would be so embarrassing if she said otherwise than what the contract says. To work this relationship. And even more humiliating would be if he laughed it off or walked away in stiff silence. That was a big no. It was the matter of her pride.
“It’s nothing.” She said finally after a second of more derisive thinking.
Then there fell a strained silence. She dared not glance at him again. She sighed and closed her eyes. Oh, well, that went downhill quite nicely.
She couldn’t decipher their relationship anyway. Were they husband and wife? Were they friends? Were they anything at all. It was quite strange. Feels like two strangers were forced to live together and they are finding ways to get rid of each others company or that run away from each other. She couldn’t tell about herself but he sure did fit the bill of the previous two even though if he showed something else outside. Because, she knew if the gullet was thrown he would be the first to run. That was a bitter finality. Before it ended up to that point she would be just happy to have ended this whatever it was on good terms rather than that.
In silence still they reached a very different looking area. It started with long stretched thick trees. She couldn’t make out anything but felt the chill of the place. At night it looked very eerie. The thick greenery stretched and stretched. She looked quizzically at him but except the jaw clenching and grim exterior she got nothing but silence in return. He didn’t look back at her but drove along the long stretched road that brought them to an equally large extending iron gate. It was very high and had cameras beside on the walls. Thick green vines circled all around the place. Both of her eye brows raised looking at the big mansion sitting far beyond regally and ever more intimidating like the very man seated next to her.
Wow! What was he? The jungle king…
The mansion in Delhi was the same surrounded by thick forest and now this one was too very similar to it. Seems like the mansions were like twins.
He tilted his head and narrowed his eyes at the cameras and only after a second later of his grim stare the gates clanged and slowly opened up to a long elongated road which lead to the mansion porch. The road was swanked either side with thick vines along the walls.
He drove along slowly and they reached the porch. He stopped the car but before she could open her mouth he got out without a word. She scowled at his cold attitude. What the hell was up with him?
Oh, geez, she was tired and way more drained out to reason with him or that to make explanations. She had enough of the day and now she only needed a nice warm bath and equally warm bed now. She could sleep for days. She got out of the car and glanced around. It was cold out here and she rubbed her arms. Because of the thick forest all around it was very much like the winter. She saw him taking out their luggage from the back of the car but as soon as he did it the mansion doors flung open and a flurry of movements arrested her attention. A man around forty dressed as a butler with the black code as a uniform going on came running towards the car.
“Oh, Sir, I would have done that.” He said hurriedly and a little anxiously too.
He had a round chubby face and jowls under his chin made him look affable and friendly. Radhika blinked at the fear written in his eyes when he looked at the master of the mansion.
Well, someone has a reputation.
He remained silent but he handed over the luggage while two other young looking servants came running to grab the luggage.
He walked forward and she followed his trail. When they walked inside, him before her, he looked side ways but not really looking back at her.
“Three doors to your left and opposite to the hall.” He muttered curtly.
She frowned and opened her mouth but he dismissed her and talked to the butler instead.
“Put the other three bags in the room. Show her the way.” He tilted his head towards her.
The butler looked confused but nodded his head nonetheless meekly too.
“I can find my own way.” She retorted immediately.
Her face heated up. Fine. She wasn’t talking to the man either. God, he was so rude and it was embarrassing. She took the holder of her suitcase and tilted her chin up in the air proudly. She silently walked away with him watching her all the way. She didn’t care neither had she energy to contradict him.
She walked stiffly along feeling his gaze burn her back. She didn’t turn to see but her senses told that he was watching her like a hawk watches it’s prey stealthily.
She walked down the corridors and after cursing and muttering a lot of not good things she finally found the room allotted to her. This mansion was more ghostly than ever.
It was a huge room filled with lot of antique looking furniture and recliner with eighteenth century designed of everything and bed. The most spectacular was the fire place in the middle of the room close to the bed. Because of the weather she knew why it was built there. It was freezing literally. She went towards it and found already that there were fresh log cuts inside it. She found coal filled trough in the corner. Radhika bent down and emptied the trough in the fireplace. There was a match stick too. She lit a stick and threw it in the crate. Since the logs were coated a little with wax already, those started burning instantly. And in only a minute the room warmed up and a deep yellow hue spread around in a glow. It gave the interior a spectacular look. She smiled and got up looking around thoroughly impressed.
She took out her shoes and groaned pressing her soles. They ached a lot. She was bone tired and every where it was just so sore. Groaning still she sought through her luggage and took out a towel, night clothes and a bar of soap.
She stared surprised at the bath tub. It had small sockets on the sides which had all the bath oils and salts. She didn’t need her paltry soap bar now. The bath salts smelled heavenly and healing. She opened a tap and instantly warm water started filling the tub. After it was filled half through she poured the lavender powder. She took a deep breath as the affective smell started permeating around instantly.
The warm bath made her feel human again. She settled on the bed quietly but her mind was a little unsettled. She felt drained but sleep seem to allude her anyway.
What was her importance here? Why was she here anyway? Why had she tagged along with him when she knew it was all just camouflage. For the public. Nothing was real. She had been a trade in the deal between rivals in the business. She could easily have walked out but dammit now that she signed the papers it wasn’t an easy thought anymore. Each time she thought about this fake marriage her mind winced. They made a mock of the wedding vows. It was so stupid how she fell for his words. That she could have her freedom in two years.
She sighed. At least she had her own independence. She wasn’t living off him. She never used the various credit cards he gave her. She had money of her own from the paintings that got sold in the gallery shop that Sam and her had done the work shop training before.
So, the point was, what was she doing here? She didn’t understand the purpose of living a life which wasn’t a reality but just a two year contract. She flinched thinking about it. With these swirling thoughts continuing for another half hour and finally somehow she spiralled into a deep slumber….
To Be Contd…
Credit to: Blue