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Chapter 2 : Chapter 2
(Nandini’s POV) The next day I didn’t go to office. The documents I wanted were emailed home. The venture is a complete disadvantage to the company except when profits are made. Why enter into such an agreement? It puzzled me. All we are in for, is research. We do all the hard work. Whatever, once the project is on and the on going research is approved, I am moving out. It took all my time to analyse the documents and make notes and I could sleep only 2 hours on the day of the meeting. I shouldn’t have slept the day I came home. Swallow it, Nandini; after this, I am independent!
(Boy’s POV) The morning I was tired. I really wanted to sleep. Once I get this meeting over with, I will go home and sleep first. I am going to do this in record time and perfectly. I wonder who will be coming? Navya is coming for sure but who else is coming with her. Once the meetings are over, work starts at the factory. Six months in and out of an uninhabited place is almost unimaginable. At least six months. Depending on progress, it can take time. No! I have to finish it as soon as possible. I need to do my best. I started off to the Head office in a hurry. Murthy Group. Dad really has a knack of getting annoying things onto my table. Can’t Aryaman or Harshad do this; even Dhruv for that matter? Why should I, the CEO of the group, come all the way to another city, to discuss some small project that may, which I should keep in mind, may have a chance to become big, draw up the contract and oversee this? He said that this is my baby. Well, there are so many success projects and companies that I run and he wants me to take over this small project leaving behind the main company? Has he become insane? When I asked him, he posed a question of my ability to not handle one more infant project to my list. Getting annoyed at him won’t help me get what I want.
I, Manik Malhotra, entered the Murthy Company’s headquarters with my finance consultant Navya Gadodia, now, Mrs. Navya Cabir Dhawan. She is their (Murthy) cousin (being Cabir’s wife) but with no vested interest in the group. I wonder who is representing them. Navya has not heard anything. It would be fun if it were her cousin that I met, Nandini Murthy. It put a smirk on my face. Somehow, she perks my interest because it is easy to mess with her. I really wonder how long the fun will last. Keeping fingers crossed, I wish it’s Nandini.
(Manik’s POV) We entered the building and were shown into the conference room. Murthy Company’s consultant sat opposite to us.
(Murthy Company’s consultant) “I am very sorry for the delay. Our company representative will be here in just a minute. She said she has entered the building.”
(Manik in an irritated tone) Irritating! Is this how businesses are conducted here? “It is really not nice to invite us and make us wait.” Navya gripped my hand tight and whispered,
(Navya spoke) “Don’t complain like a child! You have not been waiting for ages. You should be happy I had the mind to wake you up after getting ready.”
(Manik’s POV) I overslept, what is the big deal? I don’t simply sit around and waste time like most people. I was working till early morning.
(Then Manik spoke) “Are you sure you don’t know who the other one is?”
(Navya) “No. How many times are you going to ask that? Did they know you are the one coming? No right then why are you asking this question over and over again. Bewakoof
Insaan, ab please become a little sensitive.”
(Manik’s POV) I am sure someone must have informed them. Otherwise, the hotel suite booked wouldn’t be exactly my choice. After a minute of silence, the door opened wide,
Nandini Murthy walked through that door apologizing.
(Nandini) “I am sorry that I am late. It took me some………(she stood shocked for a moment) sometime to collect my papers.”
(Manik’s POV) I thought for sure that she was back at Navya’s place. In a business suit, totally formal, her hair styled partly red and partly black, tied up back to a pony, her honey eyes bright and confident, her whole figure totally out of place for the building, yet she looked striking and looked like she completely belonged here. Tall, sleek, not thin like the model girls, perfect proportions, shoulders up and confident, distinct features, pretty thing and it would be no wonder if my friends think that she is of my type. But she is naive in one sort of way. This is going to be loads of fun breaking her confidence. Mukti, my sister, who saw her, said she may be the one to melt my icy heart, which will never happen; but I am going to enjoy myself taunting her till my irritation disappears, that which I had since I met her at the Dhawan’s Christmas party last year; the only girl to stand up and talk right back at me.
(Manik) “No problem at all. We didn’t wait long. Since we wish to save time, why don’t we start the discussions right off instead of doing the ceremonies?” Navya and her counterpart from the Murthy’s side didn’t look pleased. Getting to know how things take place, helps the operations ease up later instead of going into terms of discussion is right away.
(Manik’s POV) Nandini’s face didn’t show the annoyance she has for me but I am sure she turned sour as we proceeded. Now, I feel like thanking Dad for letting me do this project. How long has it been since I was this keyed up or since I relieved all my stress?
(Nandini spoke) “I am sure all of us want to get the discussions over with and the project materialized soon. I believe this is the first venture for the Malhotra group in the pharma Industries”
(Manik’s POV) She commented which just ticked me off… How am I going to control my nerves till the end of the meeting? But still this is what I love. I love answering back to insolent questions.
(Manik immediately wiped off his thought and spoke) “As are you?” She didn’t even raise her head. She just took up her notes and placed it by her.
(Nandini spoke) “So Let’s start the meeting and the notes and the papers that you people are having might be same as ours, then I assure you that your sources have not completely collected the information needed. Shall we proceed?”
(Manik’s POV) She answered calmly, in contrast to the bubbly bursting personality of hers. She shut me off! I was about to answer her when, Navya answered back to her.
(Navya spoke) “Let’s. I want to go back sooner today if possible.” Navya stared back at me with anger.
(Manik’s POV) Fine. I get it. I won’t be rude. We proceeded with discussions. Nandini was very stubborn in some parts when it came down to negotiations. I really don’t like to give in. It felt like Nandini wanted to close the meeting sooner. Well, I am in no hurry. I am going to take my time and make sure the agreement does not go favouring them. The whole discussion moved slowly. We argued at almost every point. At one point, Navya got so mad, she was about to walk out. We took a break. Navya and I went out.
(Navya burst out in anger) “Manik Bhai, please, try to be more reasonable. Why are you dragging out the meeting?” She asked me, almost pleadingly.
(Manik) “You can understand as much as I do that the terms are all favouring them. You want me to give it all to them?” Not really. It was more like I wanted to delay things.
(Navya)“You are going to take over the company once the approval and licence from the Government is obtained for the products. This is just till the factory starts functioning and Research will be the only department they are going to be associated. I don’t think it is wrong for them to demand what they do.” She is right but,
(Manik)“Navya, come on.” She cut me off instantly, with irritation.
(Navya) “No! You come to your senses. You are going out of bounds. If the figures I need are not available today, take it that I am walking out of the project. I dropped all my work for you and you are making things difficult for me!” She glowered at me. It is the time of the year that she is usually pretty busy.
(Manik) “This type of blackmail is not fair.” She looked even angrier. She burst out
(Navya again shouted) “What you are doing is ‘Not Fair’! Imagine the pressure I am in for the next two months with the budgets and tax planning and what not! It’s February month. I am sure you are planning to drag it longer. You cannot restrain me here for more than a week. That is all the time I have given you and that is all I will give. So, get your act together.
Go with Plan B figures and conditions, things will go perfectly. Otherwise, I am calling Uncle by day after’s meeting.” This does it! Never bring a close one to business meetings. Growing around me, she does not even have the reservations she usually has around her other clients or the hesitation others have when speaking to me.
(Manik)“Fine. I get it. I will see what I can do. Lets go and have lunch.” She didn’t look convinced.
(Navya) “You better.”
(Manik’s POV) Saying, we went ahead to the restaurant. After lunch, the meeting continued and thankfully, I was able to get some of the figures for Navya. The thing with Navya is that once she says that she would do it, she will. It is very scary sometimes. Why hurry? I have time to have my share of fun. Just as we were about to leave, Navya said that she was going to Nandini’s house for dinner. I am not surprised. They are relatives after all. I have no problem with it; since she is one of the few people I know who strictly follow ethics. I still have more work to do. I should start working on the other companies though Dad doesn’t care about my involvement in them. Just a few more months before I get hold of the company. Just few more months.
Navya and Nandini were ready to leave towards the Murthy’s house when Navya spoke “Can you wait while I give this to Manik Bhai and tell him that I will be having dinner with your family?”
(Nandini’s POV) She and Manik share a bond of sibling, though they are not blood related. Arrogant and cynical as that guy is, she says she can’t talk him to change himself since he has always been like that. Always ya right?
(Nandini) “Sure. But why do you have to stay with him? You can stay with us. None of us really prefer family staying in a hotel.” She refused to stay with us no matter how many times mom said it was okay.
(Navya) “It will be rude to Manik Bhai. After all, I came here with him.” The stupid ethics this girl follows, it is beyond my reason.
(Nandini) “I get it. Shall we leave? On the way you could inform Manik”
(Nandini’s POV) Manik entered the room again. He walked in majestically, with an icy aura around him. For a moment when I first entered the room, I was shocked to see him sitting arrogantly, in a three piece designer suit, his dark brown hair pushed back, his sea blue-eyes looking inquisitively at me; having an athletic body, broad shoulders, taller than me by at least half a foot, poker faced, he presented himself like Royalty has descended. No doubt, he is definitely attractive, any woman would fall for him in the first sight, and I was no different from them. But after the first meeting, where he assumed me to be a call girl, just a glance at him, infuriates me to no end. More than that, why did he have to come? Isn’t he in an immovable position in Malhotra Group of companies? Or does he have so much time to play with a new project?
(Navya) “Manik Bhai, I am going with Nandini to their home for dinner. I am sorry that we cannot go out tonight.”
(Manik) “Fine. Give me the papers. Have a good time.” He gently took the files from her.
(Nandini to Manik)“Are you not staying here to get oriented to this place?”
(Manik replied coldly) “No. Someone else will stay in touch. I don’t have the time for that. See you tonight.”
(Nandini) Leaving the place, he gave a light peck on Navya’s head and went out. If it were a stranger looking upon them, they would think both of them are a couple. But he doesn’t love her like that nor she. It is just too much affection they have towards each other; to her, that of an older brother who never says no to her and to him, someone he could wholeheartedly trust.
(Nandini) After we got on the car, I let lose my anger. “Why is he here, Navya? I knew you were coming here, but why him? The name was not mentioned but I was so sure that he wouldn’t be coming.” Navya didn’t look bothered by it.
(Navya) “Nandini, you never told me that you were the representative for your side. Beside, Raj Uncle (Manik’s father) told him to take it despite the fact that he hated to move out of the city for this.” She stated it as if it was a matter of fact. It is not!
(Nandini annoyed) “Did you see how stubborn he was? He did not even give in until the lunch break. Why does he have to be so adamant? Why should it be him?”
(Navya replied calmly) “Nandini, don’t let it get to you. He is just doing his job. Why are you ruining your mood? But I never expected you to stand your ground with Manik Bhai. Most people cannot even talk in front of him. I was right from the time I met you. You are the perfect match for him.”
(Nandini’s POV) She has been going on and on about this since she knew me. Perfect match, my foot! “Oh, shut up! Who wants to even date a stupid man like him?”
(Navya) “Stupid man? The first time I am hearing it. Anyway, once the discussions are over, my job is over.” I see. She is leaving. I wonder if Manik is also leaving with her.
(Nandini) “How long are you staying here?”
(Navya) “A week, beyond that my Husband Cabir won’t allow me. Wait, my phone was on silent. Where is it?”
She took the mobile from her handbag.
(Navya) “Look at what I mean.” I saw many mails and messages; many from Cabir.
(Nandini jokingly) “What is he doing? Not working? Is he so free that he has sent you so many mails and messages”
(Navya blushed and said) “Apparently. He is at the new factory site, bored and killing me with his messages.”
(Navya’s POV) Though her voice sounded irritated, her face showed something else. She looked so fondly at the mobile when reading the messages.
(Nandu questioningly) “Is he always like this?”
(Navya) “He has been like this since we started dating. I don’t reply unless necessary. But I won’t say I hate it. I like this attention.”
(Nandini’s POV) She looked satisfied. I doubt something like this can happen to all. It is truly a wonder that Cabir got the perfect girl for himself. We were all so sure that he would end up staying a bachelor for the rest of his life for the mind-set he has. He is similar to Manik but Manik is on a completely different level in terms of annoyance when compared to Cabir. Navya and Cabir got married Ten months back, June wedding; but I am sure they will stay in love forever because both of them are such people who will never change once they decide something. If they are going to love each other, they will find every possible method to love each other. But, I, on the other hand, don’t have that amount of trust in anyone. They say, in dance, you can have a partnership only if you believe that your partner is there to catch you, if not, the dance will fail. It is the same for your life partner and I am sure I will never find that partner. We kept talking random things till we reached home. Mom welcomed us outside. She said that she disliked that Navya couldn’t stay with us but happy to see Navya again. That is just like Mom to be frank. We kept talking till Nisha and Dad reached home.
Nisha said she had her dinner and excused herself after sometime; most likely she was going to chat with her fiancé again online, just after meeting him for dinner. Rishabh, Radhika and their kids had gone for a party at Radhika’s house. So it was only Ma, Papa, Navya and i who were going to have dinner together. While we were having dinner, dad started asking questions about today’s meeting. I wish that he would not ask such things when eating. Navya made sure that she was not going to tell more than needed. She is, after all, Malhotra Group’s consultant.
(VM) “By the way I forgot to ask, who is the representative from the other side?”
(Nandini) I glared at him. Stupid dad! Making the food taste bad. “Manik Malhotra.” I said in monotone.
(VM) “Then, why didn’t you invite him too? (No, don’t say it, not in front of Navya) He is, after all, your fiancé!” (Nandini in her mind) He said it! Does he do it knowingly?
(Navya was eating and she just spitted it out in annoyance) “Fiancé? When? Even Manik Bhai didn’t tell me anything!” Navya looked shocked. Why wouldn’t she be? It is after all about her foster brother and I who are always at cross swords.
(Nandu in a sharp tone) “Dad, she is family. Tell things to her clearly. Nisha is engaged. So, till Nisha’s wedding and till the project takes off successful, we are engaged.” She seemed unconvinced.
(VM) “Still, you should have brought him home. Bring him for dinner on the day of next meeting. It is only proper to do so.”
(Again in her mind mode Nandu thought) Why? It is not like I am going to marry him! (Nandu in an irritating tone) “Dad! He is just a fiancé! Engagement will be broken within a blink of eye. Why care!”
Dad glared at me.
(VM calm but commanding voice) “You will listen to what I say. You will invite him and that is that.”
(Nandu) “Fine.” I really hate it when dad is stubborn.
(Renuka) “Navya, don’t mind these two. They are always like that. It was pretty lonely when Nandini was not at home for the past year without all the fighting.” Navya giggled. Does it sound funny?
(Navya) “Not at all, Renuka Chachi. I am just a bit jealous that I didn’t have my Dad to fight like that and Dadaji’s instructions were always absolute.” Navya’s parents are no more.
She and her brother grew up with their Bhua and Fufaji.
(Renuka) “Now that dinner is over, want something to drink, Navya?”
(Navya) “No Chachi. I think I better start. It’s already late.”
(VM) “Let me drop you at your hotel.”
(Navya) “I can get a cab.”
(VM) “No. I insist and that’s final.” He smiled at her which meant that she cannot refuse anymore. Navya gave up her resistance.
(Navya) “Thank you. Bye Chachi, Nandini.” Navya kissed mom and me.
(Navya) “You know VM Chachu, you didn’t have to drop me at the hotel.” He sat looking deep in thought while driving.
(VM) “True. But I wanted to talk to you. So, how is married life? I hope Cabir isn’t acting spoiled.”
(Navya blushing) “Nope. He is a dear and is spoiling me; a lot. Chachu, if you want to know about Manik, I can tell you this. He is a playboy. Never cared about girlfriends, fiancées, any escort partners. Ruthlessly dumped women who acted like they are close to him. He is a good fellow but is as cold as ice and irresponsive to anyone other than family. Cruel Businessman who is always placed with someone to monitor his actions anywhere. He is completely closed off. Only things on his mind are making profits and expanding the existing business beyond the dreams of his Veer Dadaji. I can also tell you that he is not serious about this engagement, for that matter, not been for any prior engagements of his. Manik Bhai will never bend. He will stay the rich bachelor all his life and die with a dog by his side near the fireplace.” VM laughed out loud. She answered exactly what he wanted to ask about.
(VM) “Oh, my! You don’t even want me to hope.” She seemed serious and sincere in her reply.
(Navya) “Exactly. Don’t hope, don’t expect. He will mercilessly play with her and break her cruelly. I suggest you take her off the project if possible. I can see that he is interested because it is Nandini who is handling and that is never good.” VM shook his head.
(VM) “Navya, I promised Nandini that I will let her off free her of the family binds after this project. I have no intention of letting her free before it. The Nandini you know is innocent, naive. But when she switches to business mode, she is a perfect businessman, not cruel, just perfect. You would have never seen someone like her.”
Navya nodded in agreement.
(Navya) “Yes, but still Chachi, I care about Nandini as a friend and I do not wish for you to push her to the limits.”
(VM) “Don’t worry. Nandini can take care of herself. Okay. Here we are.”
(Navya) “Are you not coming in?”
(VM) “No. I just wanted to ask you about Manik Malhotra and you answered it without even me asking.”
(Navya) “Chachu, please don’t even think about him for Nandini.”
(VM) “I won’t. I don’t want to force Nandini and never will, but is it wrong for me hope that she will stay where I can always see her?” Navya smiled back at VM.
(Navya sweetly replied) “No. Not at all. Good night.”
(VM) “Good Night.”
Precap : Navya and Manik talks
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