Hey there! Now I do like writing, but that is when I get an inspiration or something. Sometimes my mind keeps cooking these stories and that is why I call this page Ficto for the fact that it is pure fiction and Fantasy for the fact that well, it would be fun if life was the way my stories are but till then, I hope you enjoy what I write. Your comments are always welcome coz I ain’t no storyteller. I hope you like them
ONCE UPON A FAIRY TALE
She wore her finest suit, not that it was the only one, her tastes in clothes were a little unconventional. Her dislike towards Indian style of dressing was well bordering on loathe. She always felt cramped and controlled by some unwritten norms that came with the saris and salwar-kameez. But today, with her confidence and the perfect marks over her 5 years of law college, she knew she was gonna get selected for the job.
“Good morning, sir”
“Good morning Miss Mira Pi…”
“Pirzada, sir Mira Pirzada”. “Yes, Ms. Pirzada, so you are a corporate lawyer. Why Westland Group of hotels?”
“The profile of the job includes travelling, something I enjoy, and when you enjoy what you do it is not work anymore.”
If the interviewer was impressed, he did a fair job in hiding his emotions but Mira had not done extensive research on body language just for nothing. Judging people from the slightest move of the eye was her hobby and a powerful secret weapon. The interview went on for another 45 mins and she went out of the office with a smile broader than one she had come in with.
Two days later her appointment letter was waiting expectantly on her mail to be opened. She was welcomed to the Westland Group of hotels as junior General Councillor, Delhi, the only place in India where they had a hotel.
He woke up with a hungover head. Ruffled hair, crumpled shirt and practically no recollection of the past night, Daniel Westland woke up to his first, and by the looks of it his last, hangover on his solid walnut wood bed set perfectly against the plush interiors of his room, so much so to compel Arab sheikhs to find interior designers. “Can please someone get me some aspirin. My head is Mount Fiji waiting to explode” .
“So, you are up”, came the voice of William Westland and he said it like he was a father of a naval officer receiving the Navy Cross. “Dad”.
As always dressed in his Brooks Brothers custom suit and his trademark roadside Joe tone said, “What, you finally had a hangover, man you are 26, mine was at 15. I was starting to get worried that you won’t mix up with the other spoilt kids of my business acquaintances. “
“Dad, it is a hangover, not Nobel prize, that we are comparing records”. “Here, son have this it’ll calm your nerves”, said Monica Westland, even in the early hours of the day, she was dressed poignantly enough to have come straight from a ramp. “And, please William, stop irritating him, he is already worked up over this whole thing. Aren’t you getting late for your meeting with the Korean clients of yours. honey” and gave him the roll of the eyes. “Just trying to be helpful and I am just a phone call away kiddo, if you need some man talk about hangovers.”
“Moreover, he doesn’t need those spoiled brats in the name of friends, he is Daniel Westland, my son, destined to be a successful and prolific businessman. He hasn’t got time for such……..”. Rarely things dared to stop Monica Westland in her tracks but this was something that couldn’t be helped. Daniel was snoring slightly again.
(This is a story I am working on, because of which it I did take a little time to write next. Just stay tuned for more to come. All your comments are welcome. I look forward o any suggestion you have to make. Believe me they are invaluable.)
Anand Thyagrajan called his mom, “Ya, mom I am alright and the flight has landed as well. We are soon going to the apartment hired for us by the company don’t you worry Ma.” Nitin Gill said something same to has wife and then questioned the lost Mira “You not going to make any calls”. “Yeah, will do”.
“Dad, is this office, getting smaller each time I see it or is it just me.” “No son, we are hiring new staff as we speak, the office space i falling short I know. I was thinking of calling up the architect”. “You are still thinking and wasn’t the Indian team supposed to land today ?”. “Yes, Sir”, said Martha, William Westland’s assistant. “What are their names again?”. “Anand Thyagrajan, Nitin Gill”, said Martha Simmons with her southern drawl. “Let us hope, they are not too touchy on pronunciations”. “They are even sending a rookie sir, Mira Pirzada”. “Got a regal ring, don’t you think, Dan and well don’t worry Whitaker will deal with them and report to us”. “What I am thinking is that what has happened to Roy Miller that he is sending a newbie, in any case, I gotta go, bye dad, good day Mrs. Simmons.
Three weeks into the new office, Mira was having fun, after all people there were not like what she had thought they would be. Nice, sweet, helping, accommodating, keeping in mind the fact that her two Indian comrades need guidance even to go to the nearest grocery store. That day when she thought of going to the nearest Walmart to get some tomatoes, the boys asked “How do you know where to go?”, negligent of the present day technology as they were, she had to show them the route on her smartphone.
But today, she was upset, the clause she had worked on, expending 3/4 th of her Sunday was being slashed off and she wanted an answer but as it seemed her boss wasn’t in a mood to give one. “The clause is important and you can’t just remove it”. With his beer belly and slick hair, Peter Ravengaurd said” I feel it will be harmful, so it goes”. “It is not up to you, it is important, don’t you get it, Sir”.”You keep your volume low Ms Pirzada, this is a corridor, not a fish market of your land”. “Sorry Sir, but it’s removal can cause a great loss to our client”. “You don’t get it or what, I decide what is important and what is not”. “Dammit, I spent My Sunday and on it and that what makes it important, do you get it”. “Well, lady even dogs follow orders better, Oh and well that reminds me that you belong to that same class”. That was it. The hot coffee in Mira’s hand found it way easily on the face of Ravengaurd. She held him by his collar, slapped thrice and would have broken the mug on his head but Whitaker came to his rescue. “You are fired, bitch.” said Peter. “As if I care, well Mr. Whitaker I hope you company will be in a position to fight on two flanks, your employee made racist comments and well you are firing me without a 90 day notice”. Then she smiled, and Whitaker with a resigned gesture of his hand asked both the parties to go in their respective offices.
Daniel watched all of this standing at the door of the office. She was beautiful in a very different way. He had gone out with many different women since his school days had some of them had been top models but she just perused above all of them. Albeit, right now, she was angry as hell, yet she carried herself with such grace, almost regal. An unstoppable force was coursing through her body which gave a vibrant glow to her face. She just needed a tie to complete her immaculate James Bond like appearance. Even with such manly attributes, Daniel suddenly knew that she had a completely different side to herself that was compassionate, selfless and caring. “Sir, Whitaker has broken the fight” . “Huh, yeah well where do I have to sign?”. “Here, sir”, mentioning to the bottom of the page. “Who is she” asked a rather ecstatic Daniel. “Sir, she is on of the Indians, Mira Pirzada , Sir”. Now, he knew, why his dad felt that name would be related to something royal. But what he did not was that he was falling in love.
She was sitting in her favourite corner of the cafeteria, eating the ripe tomatoes coated in spices that had of-late become her lunch. A loss of an inch at her waist propelled her all the more to eat tomatoes the way she actually liked them. Suddenly a young man 28-29 came up to her table. His walk and mannerisms spoke of money, elegance in slightest movement of the hands.
“Is this seat taken?”. “Well no but….”. And he took it while expressing his gratitude. She surveyed the room, a few chairs here and there were empty but were with groups that regularly sat on their respective tables, which meant he wasn’t part of any of them and she had also not seen him so he had deigned to sit in the common cafeteria. She did not notice anything further or she would have realised that almost half the eyes int the room were staring at the her and encouraging the other half to do so. She settled back into her seat and finished her lunch and went back to her work station and as she later came to know the man was staring behind her.
“How was it?”, asked Anand. “how was what Anand?”, she asked back. “Don’t pretend you don’t know anything.”. “I don’t know Anand, please enlighten me”. “Don’t tell me you don’t know you don’t know with whom did you share your lunch table today”. “The guy looked familiar but I was not able to remember who he is”. “Well, now you wanna behave that ways, your wish, he was Daniel Westland, the Daniel Westland”. “Oh, well I’ll say hi to him tomorrow, happy, now I have got wok to do.”
She said that only to shut Anand up. Poor Daniel came and sat everyday for a week across Mira but she didn’t even say a word. But, Daniel did not such patience, “You either believe that novels talk or humans don’t”.
“Sorry”. “Well you should be, I have been sitting across you for a week now and you did not speak even a word”. “I was checking how long could you hold fort Mr. Westland”. “Huh, what?”. “If you would have been an arrogant spoilt brat, probably you would have gotten me thrown out of job for ignoring you, but you did not means you are a good boy”. “So, are you free tonight to go out wit this good, sweet boy”. “That is why they call you all business, have a good day Sir”, and with that she left the table.
In the evening a mail from the boss told her that she might have to stay late to get some job done, while she was at it, suddenly a figure towered above her, “You did not answer my question”. She took a few seconds to realize what had just happened, “You are weird”, she said with a tinge of irritation. “You did not tell me that you will come tonight or not”. “I have work Mr. Westland, for god’s sake, it is your own company’s work, wait, is it you who made all of this happen, how mean could you be”. “No, no, you are getting it all wrong I did not do it”. “So why are you here?”. ‘If you don’t know, my dad owns one of the largest hotel empires in the world, I also have work to do. I thought that the talks in the office of you being mean and rude were rumors but probably not, you really find it difficult to make friends don’t you”.”Please, Sir I need to submit this tomorrow, so if you don’t mind can I get back to it”, she said looking at him with fierce eyes. “I don’t know how people get scared of such gorgeous eyes”, he said winking at her and left.
Back at her place she sat down to beat coffee with hand, she preferred it that way and thought. Rude and mean she, she wasn’t even arrogant, well may be a little, but never to the extent of hurting someone. She ofcourse liked things, if they went according to her, who didn’t but she always took the opinion of everyone involved. He was the one being mean, forcing her to go out. Did he FORCE her? Well no but pressed when she had expressed her disinclination. Was it really difficult for her to make friends, was he just being nice to her and she was unnecessarily expecting foul play.
Next morning she went up to the office of Daniel Westland to give him a piece of her mind. She knocked and entered and began without any prologue, “I don’t find it difficult to make friends”. She put forward her hand, “Hi, I am Mira Pirzada”.
Well he wasn’t that bad. Never tried to take advantage of his position. But they never talked to each other at the cafeteria, she pretended to read her novel and he read his e-mails on the mobile. So soon the employees lost masala to gossip. This went on for about three weeks, then Daniel plucked up the courage to ask her out again. “I had gone out one day on my own but the food they serve is atrociously bland for my taste buds. I cook it much better myself. ” “You cook?”, he looked at her suspiciously. “It might be a little harsh on your tongue but”, and she grinned. “I am a hotelier, and food is something we do serve at our hotels, you see and each of them is tasted by the board before it gets a yes to be added on the menu. “Alright so stop by this Sunday, Anand and Nitin are going to see some match, so we’ll have he house to ourselves”
She cooked the best of her dishes as if trying to impress in a Masterchef audition. Only her cake was left which she thought would taste best when served fresh. So she put it in the oven and set the timer for a nice 45 min. The bell rang. There he was standing on the door, smiling at her, with bottle of wine. She showed him in but couldn’t help noticing how normal he was, even though he came from a lot of money. How flawless and humble, he was actually coming down to dine with her.
She always worked in kitchen with her mp3 player connected to speakers gently playing Hindi music. She went to switch it off, he told her that there wasn’t any need. She brought the starters and he did nothing but say some form of tasty on each bite. Then came the main course. All of it was Indian, but he couldn’t help relishing the taste. Then when she got up to put the dishes back and switched the timer on, Mamma Mia began playing and she just danced around a bit and soon was joined by Daniel. They danced their heart out, the songs changed, some Hindi Some English but they went on.
Suddenly her arms came flailing, bounced on his head and rested on his shoulders, she laughed. “You look beautiful when you laugh, you should do it more often”. She laughed again, but when she looked up, the words froze in her throat. His eyes were intently gazing at her, looking at something deep inside her.
He did not know what he was doing. He felt possessed by that beautiful face of hers. He had not realised how much he loved her till today, how much he wanted to find her on his bedside every morning when he woke and sleep while breathing in the sweet smell of her hair. His arms clenched her waist and soon they weren’t dancing to the music but to the rhythm of their hearts that rose and fell together. She felt embarrassed that she was enjoying this, she knew him for just a month. But the energy in the air pushed all of these thoughts out of her mind and she resigned to the passionate gaze, reciprocating it submissively. She hated taking anyone’s help but even the next step was seemingly difficult without him. She brought her arms down on his chest and felt the strong muscles beneath his shirt, that gave her the sense of security in his embrace.
She was feeling dizzy when he suddenly brought her closer, bent his head to kiss her, her heart raced and fingers dug into his chest and they kissed. He was passionate and she was trying to reciprocate. It was magical. She never thought that it happened but her left foot suddenly began rising. Oh he was awesome. Her knees started to buckle, they came apart. His breath had become laboured, the touch of her lips made him giddy. He felt funny because they had met for a just such a short time but being with her made him happy but when he kissed her, it was a whole different story. He just marvelled at how unique and special she was. Fierce as a tigress in the office space, but she was the most gentle person he had ever met. A tad arrogant yet humble with her seniors. She worked hard but being with her was like partying the hardest he could. She was beautiful, pure and pristine.
He did not realise it until she kept the paper on the lunch table and slightly slid it towards him. He picked it up and there it was, her itinerary that said she was going from London to New Delhi, this Saturday and today it was Wednesday. He realised that it was going to take him some time to come to terms with the truth, he would miss her and these clandestine lunch meetings. The way he could just be a Daniel around her, (though she still refused to call him that and stuck to calling him Mr. Westland), and the burden of his surname wouldn’t tag along. Every morning waiting at the door just to enter as the same time as her and listen her say “Good morning, Mr. Westland”, and now it seemed that mornings could never be as good without this ritual. She knew she had to go back, rather she was waiting for it since the incident, but now it seemed hard for her. She was confused whether to be happy on going home or be sad on parting ways with a friend she had found after so many years.
When the recess got over, she was approached by her boss, Anand and Nitin were there as well, “Hey, guys, well you have been working your ass off why don’t you take a break and enjoy London these few days you are here”. “That is so thoughtful of you, sir”, said Anand. “Then in that case, we are throwing a party on Friday, we would be very happy if you brought your wife as well, sir”, said Mira. “Sure”, said their boss and when he went, “Party, are you sure”, said the boys in unison. “Yeah and may be give something as a return gift as well you know, small silver coins embossed with gods of good luck”, said Mira. “You know there are chances we might come back”, said Nitin. “Chances right, that is the whole problem”.
In the evening they all went out with Mira as the mother hen and bought the stuff they needed for the party, chicken, veggies, drinks, return gifts and Mira quickly slipped off while guys were busy with the wine and brought a stylish and sleek Tommy Hilfiger watch for Daniel. Everyone had a blast at the part. They did not have something groovy at the party, just sat and they all talked. They had all brought gifts for them, but she wanted to give his gift to him and see his reaction. When they all went away she asked if he would like her walking him to his car. He got into his car, then got back out again with a box in his hand “I had bought this for you but I don’t know how you would like it, so I was kinda scared”. “Silly”. She took and they said their goodbyes and all that was left was a very uncomfortable silence.
They had now been in India for a while now, it was difficult for her not to slip into the thoughts of him and the gift he had given to her in her free time which with time had become very scarce. It was a necklace. With three thick strands of very fine silk coming down from both the sides, and below where there should have been a pendant was a very complex knot, she knew that design but couldn’t place it and then she just let it go. While having her coffee, Anand approached her, “Hey, you free tonight?”. “Yes, why?”. “I was thinking that if you are free, you will come out with me for dinner”. He had her in a tight spot, she had said that she was free, so she gave in “Well, alright then”. She wished for more work tonight, not that she despised Anand but she couldn’t go out with him, it just did not feel right. But all in vain, rather she got free early.
As and when it was time for her to leave, she suddenly saw him there, waving wildly to her. She thought she was hallucinating but he came to her and said “Hi, Mira”. She was shocked, “Is that you, I thought I was imagining things”. He was very happy “Hey, you are wearing that necklace I gave to you”. And before she could reply, “Is that you Mr. Westland, what a pleasant surprise”, it was Anand. “How are you, sir?”. “Fine, you?”. “Completely perfect, and shall we, if you don’t mind, sir”, he asked looking at Mira. “Yeah, let’s”, she said rather reluctantly and Daniel’s face also became ashen.
There was a lot of traffic on the road, “Hey,I don’t know if you would like it or not, but I am seriously hungry and I know a shortcut to the Delhi Westland from here”, said Mira. Her temper had already become famous and Anand for the fear of upsetting her agreed. They were eating in silence, well they were in once of the most coveted dining halls of the city, totally not what Anand had in mind. But he did make and attempt at conversation, “That necklace”. “Yes, what about it?”, asked Mira. “I hope none of your Ex- boyfriends gave that to you”. “Huh”, she kinda lost that. “Haven’t you seen Casino Royale, I thought you are a huge James Bond fan”. “Yes, like a hundred times”. And that is when it dawned on her. “I am really sorry, Anand I have to go, I suddenly remembered something, I’ll pay my half at the office, I am so sorry for ditching you like that, I swear it wasn’t meant to be this way”.
She ran to the hotel desk,”Mr. Daniel Westland, please, oh wait he’d be in the Presidential suite, thanks.”. “He was, ma’am”, he said. She retraced her steps “What?”. “Ma’am, he just left for the airport”. “Airport, but hadn’t he landed today, which flight”. “Sorry ma’am, I can’t give you that info’. “Dammit, I work for the group and have some very important information that if did not reach him in time, could cost you your job”. She said this while thrusting her ID in his face. He thought and then said “Lufthansa, 11:55 p.m”. “Thanks a ton” , it was still 10, she could get him.
At the airport, she was having a tough time with the security and pleaded to talk to the head of staff who reiterated the same point “Sorry, ma’am we can’t let you in without a ticket”.”You are not getting the gravity of the situation, his flight leaves in 30 minutes and he is not picking my phone and buying a ticket would take some time, have any metal detection test you want, tie my hands with a rope or put me in a body suit but let me in”. And with this he relented, he knew he could lose his job but she had such a genuine look in her eyes. “OK, but you have got 20 min only”.
She ran like idiots checking the VIP lounge and then went to the boarding gates, the security guards sent in with her were having a tough time keeping with her. He wasn’t anywhere to be see. He had gone, gone away and he was not returning her calls, she was doomed to death. She sat down on a chair to steady herself. Was this actually happening, had she been so dumb that she couldn’t see that he loved her and now she was alone repenting her idiocy.
CHAPTER – 6
She cried inconsolably. The guards, though reluctantly told her to leave the premises. She got up, picked and her purse and began to leave. ” Mira”, she heard her name. She turned back. Nothing. She realised it was her imagination and was probably tired. “Mira”, she heard again, but this time decided to ignore it. “Hey stop there, Mira”, that was a pretty long sentence for her imagination, she turned and there he stood, with a puzzled expression on his face, an overcoat in one hand and a duffel bag in the other, “I thought it was you, what are you doing here?”. “Daniel”, she hugged him nice and tight”. “I just realised what it was, it’s a love knot and I was dumb or rather an idiot to not realise this and taking my own sweet time.”. He was still a little shaken from something but Mira continued without a pause. “I am a fool yes, but please don’t go away like that”, she looked up and said,”I love you too”.
When Daniel was sure that she was done, he asked “What did you just call me?”. Now it was Mira’s turn to be confused, “No, no you are getting it all wrong, I am the idiot I did not say anything to you”. “No before you broke into your fit of words, you said a name”, said Daniel. “I called out your name Daniel, that is it right”. He let that duffel bag and the coat fall, grabbed her and kissed her deeply and passionately as if he did not yearn for anything else in the world. She today did not actually care for anyone around her and knew that even if she would fall, he was there to hold her.
Everyone around became a little uncomfortable, save one “Congratulations bro”. Daniel looked up, “James, what are you doing here”. “Does it really matter now ?”. They bear hugged, “And I might say that you are more beautiful and bold than my friend here had described you, Jamesson Rook by the way”. “Who doesn’t know you Mr. Rook, flying off to Australia are we”, said Mira. “And informed might I add”, said Rook. “My girlfriend here knows more about you than me.”. She felt elated on these words. “I survived four years of college with him you see, he is like my brother”, said Daniel. “Well brother or not, I am a big fan of your work Mr. Rook”. “Oh please it is James” said Rook. “Don’t bother, she took my first name for the first time today”. They talked for some time and then they asked for his leave.
“Ofcourse, moreover, I couldn’t see that face tear streaked anymore”, said Rook pointing towards Mira. But then she thought something and said, “Wasn’t your flight and 11:55, you would have missed it, oh my god , I am so sorry”. “You found me at 12:10, honey, my flight got delayed and I did not know that because I was listening to music and I went to check in at the time for the bus, but now who cares for a silly flight when I have you”. “You know what? Wasting a Rs. 1,74, 000 British ticket then throwing such a cliche qualifies as a crime but now, it is kinda cute”.
Then they left for Mira’s home.
She was getting promoted. She came to know about it 3 days ago. She called Daniel to give him the news. She didn’t know the time of her arrival in London, but with the tickets in hand, it was the first thing she did. And her a limo pulled outside the airport to pick her up. She showered and had her breakfast and left for office. She greeted her new staff and her new secretary, who was asked to show Mira to her new office. The corridor that went up to her office smelt like a thousand roses and before she comment that her secretary used a very effective perfume, she opened the door of her office and there sat on her table a huge bouquet of roses neatly arranged in concentric circles of red, yellow, pink, white and a singular blue rose in the centre. The card with the bouquet said
“Red roses to confess my love,
Yellow to wish you success in your present and future ventures,
Pink to wish that may you always be in the pink of health,
White to say the peace and tranquillity may always be with you,
And blue, well because blue is your favourite colour
Love Dan “
She was overwhelmed by this gesture of Daniel. She went to his office and asked his secretary if he was in “No ma’am, but I hope you liked the roses”. ” You know about them?”, asked Mira. “We had to deal with the roses here in the office because we did not want Mr. and Mrs Westland to know about this”, replied the secretary. “But I must say you are very efficient arranging all of this in just 2 days”. “Two days!?, that blue rose took three weeks to procure ma’am”. “3 weeks huh!” was all she said.
After 15-20 minutes Daniel arrived into his office and where he had expected to see a happy girlfriend he was met by her murderous stare,”Seems like the white roses weren’t good”, he tried to be jovial. She got up and kissed him and said, “No the flowers were wonderful but I don’t like beating about the bush, you knew about my promotion since long which makes me think that you had something to do with it”. “Why would I do anything you are wonderful at your job”, “And that is why I know you are lying, the blue roses are not easily found you see”. “I thought it will make it easier on you and me moreover they were already considering you I just gave them a push”. “Well if that is the case I am not taking the promotion, Dan it has been 8 months and you didn’t realise that I wouldn’t like this, I believe Rook knows me better and the lines also were probably his idea”. Daniel knew that both the statements were true.
Over these 8 months not only had Mira and Daniel come close but she and Rook had become like brother and sister. They checked each other regularly and shared almost everything and Daniel was happy about this as well. Rook had been a sweetheart. She also tried to return the gesture. Like when it was Rook’s birthday, Daniel decided to give him a pen that was pretty expensive. Mira considered it to be a cliché. She knew about the detective, Evelyn Rivers, he was following for his next report. So she knew that the best gift would have been a bullet proof vest that said ‘WRITER’ and a bottle of a pretty old wine, of which Rook was a fan.
And so she knew that this was the best way to torture Daniel for what he had done, “I am going to New York”.
When she entered his lavishly adorned loft in a skyscraper of New York, his mother opened the door, she was a bit stunned. Rook was wearing a paraphernalia on his body that culminated into a gun that looked like a laser and it looked as if he was playing with his daughter Sophie and she said “That is why you are Daniel’s best friend”.
It had been 3 months since Mira had moved to her official residence and she and Daniel had patched on the condition that he would never do anything like this again. She did not want the benefit of being the boss’ s girl. It was thanksgiving today and she was at Jamesson’s place to enjoy some turkey. She and Rook turned out to be outright James Bond fans and were having a heated debate on who played it best. Rook was more Sean Connery and Mira loved Pierce Brosnan. Rook’s phone rang somewhere but he did not flinch. But when his mother said that it was Evelyn, he lunged towards the phone and answered it with such sweetness as if the debate had never taken place. And when he was done, Mira said “You love her don’t you?”. “More than anything earth”, replied Rook, “And she loves me equally but I don’t know what to do, she’s moving to Washington”. “What”, Mira was shocked at how dumb could men be. “She collected her coat and began to leave, “I realised that I didn’t get you guys’ thanksgiving gifts”.
She came back late in the evening and till then Evelyn had also joined them. She took Rook to one corner after saying her greetings, ” Would you marry Evelyn?”. “Of course”. “I pretty much guessed that just remember it”. Rook did not pretty much understand it but she would have to mean something. They enjoyed the turkey over a few drinks and just talked about this and that and then they brought out the gifts. Mira had bought a beautiful white gold necklace with a nice pendant for Sophie and for Rook’s mother a ruby necklace but strangely for Rook, a women’s ring, in white gold and a huge diamond on it and for Evelyn, a pair of earrings that went with the ring. It took some time for Rook to realise what it meant but when she said “When she leaves”, everything was crystal clear. She was asking him to propose to her. He wasn’t sure but he did knew that this probably was his last chance. When she left, Rook offered to walk her down. He did not come up till about half an hour. In this time Mira filled the ladies with the information and practically held her breath. When he came back, she pounced on him. His face was sullen, she almost died. Then suddenly Evelyn with the ring shining proud and bright on her finger.
The wedding was just 2 days away and Evelyn and Mira were at their fitting. Mira was done early, Evelyn was still getting her gown fitted. Mira started looking at a few wedding gowns herself. She found one that was just perfect, with arms and neckline made with a net like fabric,with embroidery of flowers and below that it was pretty much like a Victorian ball gown. She was mesmerised by it and decided to try it. She looked terrific in it, she was checking herself out in the mirror when Daniel came to announce that the men were done and would be waiting outside. But the only words that came out of his mouth when he saw Mira in the wedding gown were “I gotta go”. Mira ran behind him to explain the situation to him but he kept going and Mira was reminded again that she wasn’t made for skirts. Daniel did not take any calls not even Rook’s. Mira, Evelyn and Rook decided to wait for a day before taking any action. Mira blamed herself for everything, how could she not see that trying a wedding gown would freak Daniel out. After half a day, Rook went out to look out for him.
Finally Daniel came back in the evening and a Mira began explaining what had happened at the tailor’s. But Daniel just said that she had to understand that may be he was not ready and she should not try to rush things. She said that she completely understood his predicament and was just looking at the dresses, “I’ll go and call up Rook, he went out looking for you”. When she left the room, Rook materialised from behind Daniel and asked, “Did she buy it?”. “Ofcourse she did”.
CHAPTER – 9
“Damn, how did you decide which ring to buy?”, Daniel asked Rook, fluttering the pages of the brochure of antique rings soon up for auction at Sotheby’s, “There are so many cuts, Princess cut, this cut that cut, aw aw aw paper cut”, he winced when the page bit into his skin. ” See we could narrow down the rings according to Mira’s choice, regal, elegant and sober”. “Well that narrows it down doesn’t it”, Daniel stared at Rook, handing rather shoving it into his hands. “Rook all engagement rings seem to have a basic design don’t you think”. “We can eliminate those with gemstones, besides don’t get so angry I didn’t buy the ring for Ev, it was Mira’s idea, didn’t she tell you that”. “No she didn’t, but I wished she had so I’d not be here wasting my time”. “Hey, hey we could look at the ring she bought for Ev and may be get an idea”, said Rook. “Well and you have become useful again”.
At the auction, suddenly all the rings weren’t up to the mark. They just couldn’t meet Mira’s brilliance. All his previous picks were slowly bought but others and the hall was beginning to get empty and he also had begun to get up, giving up the hope of proposing to Mira with a ring that would sweep her of her feet on their one year anniversary, he would have to settle for those love bands. Then suddenly another ring was announced, probably an urgent addition to the items up for sale. It wasn’t anything like the others, rather it pretty much resembled the rings that the ladies in Mira’s favourite movie wore, something to do with a Moghul king and his Hindu wife, the dialogues and story of which she explained in excruciating detail, going over everything in the movie from the lineage of the king and the queen respectively to pointing out every flaw in the movie and what happened actually. A blue diamond in the centre, mined originally from Golconda mines, another some place about which Mira had told him, really rare and pricey diamonds had been mined from it, one of which even adorns the crown of the Queen of England. Around it white diamonds were arranged in a sqaure compartmentalised into four quadrants, set in platinum. He knew immediately that this would surely win her heart and prove to her that he wasn’t after all an idiot in the matters of the heart.
She picked out the gown, she had carefully selected just for the occasion. Daniel was waiting for her at the Westland hotel, which wasn’t like Daniel, because he didn’t like taking her out to his hotels. But it really didn’t matter what mattered was making tonight special.
Daniel had been preparing for the past one week, practicing the line over and over, but he knew it boiled down to the moment, and so he thought being at a familiar turf while doing it might keep him calm. She would walk in any moment so he was eagerly looking towards the door. She came in and his heart skipped a beat she was dressed in her trademark white, a gown tight at just the right places. The concierge showed her to the table and she sat down it front of him in one fluidic motion and said “Hi, Daniel, ah everything’s all right, you seem kinda dazed”. That jolted him back to reality and he realised it was going to be more difficult than he had thought. His phone rang but he ignored it and put it on vibration mode. “So what’s up?”, asked Daniel and immediately regretted it. “Daniel, if not seeing each other face to face, we talk at least twice a day and practically discuss everything from breakfast to bed and you ask me what’s up, seriously honey are you alright?” said a rather irritated Mira. The table suddenly shook, which surprised Mira that she had spoken with such intensity, thankfully it turned out to be Daniel’s phone and he again silenced it. “I am sorry, I seem to have a knack for ruining good things please just take the call, I have been so agitated due to work, my life seems to have gone haywire”. “Mira, I understand it completely, and I deliberately have kept the phone silent, I don’t want anyone intruding on my time with you tonight”. They held hands and just smiled at each other, and Daniel calmed a bit and promised himself that nothing could bring him down tonight not even Mira herself.
They ate the dinner and talked now thankfully of varied mature things but behaved if they were a new couple, wanting to kiss at even the smallest brush of the hands. Daniel ordered champagne, as he had decided to be old school. “Mira there’s something I wanna ask you”. “As if I’d my saying no would stop you”, she cracked a smile, but Daniel didn’t flinch “You are not breaking up with me are you”, Mira too became grave. “Don’t be silly, what made you think this, I know I am an idiot but letting go of the best thing that happened to me, no”. This time Mira’s phone rang, it flashed Rook, “Sorry gotta pick this up”. ” So, James, what is it?”. “Why isn’t Daniel picking up the phone”, his tone was serious too. ” So what is it with today, World sulking day, he is serious made me serious for a minute and you are speaking as if someone just died”, she looked at Daniel who was fumbling with the inner pocket of his coat. “Someone actually did, Mira” said Rook. “Who?”, the suddenness of Mira’s tone alerted Daniel and then her face almost became ashen. “Daniel get up”, Mira said sharply, “I’ll get the car, pay the bill and wait for me at the door”, “But why….”, before he could complete his question she had already made a move for the door .
She took a street took a totally different route, something that did not lead either to Daniel’s house. “Where are we going?”, she did not answer. Only one thought came to his mind: Rook had told her about his plan, damn him. She entered a hospital parking and while parking her car, she said “Go straight to floor number 44, I’ll be here”. “What is it and why aren’t you coming?” . “Just go”, she pushed him out of the car. After about an hour, Daniel turned up on the passenger door of the car, opened it and just propped on the seat, his face towards Mira , but seemingly he was looking somewhere beyond her and then he turned towards her and said “They tried me all evening and I kept ignoring it, messages, calls, even emailed me but I was not here when he breathed his last”. “Daniel it is not your fault please”, she took up a hand to his face. He pushed it aside but held on to her hand, using it to pull himself towards her and kept his head on her lap and started crying “He’s dead Mira, Dad’s dead”.
CHAPTER – 10
The funeral was simple, but the aura of William Westland seemed to have brightened death itself. Mira had thought that the court room experiences had made her immune to cries and shouts but seeing Daniel cry in the car had broken her inside. They had gone home and Mira managed to tuck him into bed. She began to leave but Daniel wouldn’t let her, he wanted her on her side that night and every night since then. Today was the funeral, something that Daniel couldn’t do himself. On the face of it, she never came about but behind scenes she took care of the Westland, both the dead and the alive. He was now the man of the house and everyone had now started looking up to him for the smallest of the decisions.
Today, at the funeral, though he tried to keep a brave face but the death of his father had shaken his insides. He also realised how transient life is and how silly had he been to wait for so long to propose to Mira. Lost in his thoughts he didn’t see his father’s friend, Alfred Armston, coming towards him, “I am really sorry for your loss son, he was a dear friend, but don’t worry I will stand by you, you need any help just tell me”. He just nodded in acknowledgement and went back to looking over the sea of faces that had come to pay homage to his father. But Alfred wasn’t done “Did you see the newspapers today? “, Daniel’s expression clearly said that he hadn’t. “The stock prices are at an all time low”. This slightly alarmed Daniel but he quickly composed himself and said, something he wasn’t doing much, “That was to be expected, Dad was a stalwart of his field”. “Yes but let’s hope the situation won’t last for long, remember what I had said”.
That evening Daniel and Mira dined in complete silence, he asked later, I heard that the stocks are pretty low right now”. ” Daniel, you employ thousands of people who are worthy of taking care of such problems, so let it go”. “I can’t let go Mira, every minute I let go I am disappointing Dad, I wasn’t there when he died so please let me take care of something that he left me”, Daniel practically thundered and Mira looked at him meekly. “I am sorry, I really am but just tell me what is wrong”, “Yes, sir”, Mira said . He got in touch with his CFO and came to know that if the stint continued, he might be in desperate need of money.
He sat like a lame duck waiting for it’s chance to go to the butchery. He understood for the first time that shiny degrees weren’t enough to survive in such a competition and suddenly found his investors justified in pulling out but he couldn’t let that happen to the so many people that worked for him and he now decided to form some alliances that were initially not thought of by him.
Daniel Westland knocked at the door of the office of the Director of The British Bank, the door opened at Daniel saw the burly, pot bellied, balding man welcome him, “I had been expecting you for a long time Daniel”, he smiled at him and took the chair offered to him, “Times have been tough Alfred”. ” So tell me how can I help you?”. ” You know what I need, I need capital to run my company”. ” That is something I will willingly do, but I have a condition”. That was something Daniel had pretty much expected, you couldn’t build such an empire without such a shrewd sense of business. ” I am all ears go ahead”.
” Marry my daughter Louise”.
CHAPTER – 11
” I beg your pardon, I heard you want me to marry your daughter”. ” You heard it correct young man, that is exactly what I want you to do”. ” I am sorry I can’t do that”. ” Well then I can’t help you as well, Louise always dreamt of being your wife and as a good father I am going to give her what she wants”. ” I am not a doll that you can gift her and I am ready to do anything else but this”. ” I believe your mother will also approve of this match rather than that twinky of yours”. ” Mr. Armston, she is not a twinky and I love her and the last thing on my mind is whether my mom approves of it or not”. “Well then you should start thinking about it as well, you are thinking with your heart right now think with your mind, my offer is still open”.
Daniel stormed out of the office. He reached his office, on the table was a photo of Mira and him looking at each other, into each other’s eyes, another one of her laughing, both of these captured at the right moments. He couldn’t do this to her, she loved and cared for him so much. Then Alfred’s voice resonated in his ears, “Think with your mind”. No that would be wrong , morally wrong. But he had already been bad to his father, should he do this to his mother, he of course was aware of his mother’s marked disdain for Mira, but he could manage it, couldn’t he?
Surprisingly it felt good to be back in New York and being among piles of files and spending the Sunday with Rook and Evelyn. Everything had taken the hit of the low stock prices and they seemed to be coping with the after effects. Especially, being away from the drab ambience in London was also good. She had also reduced her talks with Daniel so as to give him some time to get over the truth by himself.
It was Sunday again and as usual she was at Jamesson’s, the door opened by Evelyn. ” Hi”, said both. She hugged Rook and he asked “How is he keeping up?”, “Well he is fine as far as I know but he hasn’t let go of the black garb, moreover, I have not been able to reach him since this morning”. “We both never work on Sundays”. ” Did you try his land line? “, “He has one?, I never actually knew that”, said Mira. ” Take the number”. She took it down and tried it. It connected in the first go. It was picked up by Mr Wayne, the Butler, “Hello Mr Wayne, Mira this side, I have been trying to reach Daniel since the morning, is he at home?”, “Oh yes mam he is”. ” Then could I talk to him”. ” In a few minutes mam, he is having lunch with his fiance”. ” Fiance, if this is a joke, then it is a very bad one”. ” No mam, it was all over the papers, he is engaged to Ms Louise Armston”.
She was shocked and frankly wanted to just die but before kill Daniel for betraying her. Moreover he thought she wouldn’t come to know, dropping off like this from the network. She just once wanted an explanation, she knew he was not that kind. He loved and dammit she loved him, it was a little difficult for her to put it out there every now and then but that did not mean that she could be kicked away like a rag doll. She had stood by him in all his tough times and had shared all his joys and this is what she gets. Knowing her temper, the entire Rook family was maintaining a safe distance from her yet had not left her alone mulling over her despair. She got up, “I am going to London”, no questions were asked and no propositions were made for her to stay and think with a clear mind. She was in an unspeakable agony.
She arrived there early in the morning, first stop, Westland Mansion. The sprawling lawns, colossal fountains and lawn ornaments and the castle like stand alone mansion could be spotted from a mile beyond it’s approach alley. All these had welcomed her into a plethora of happy and overwhelming memories but today, she was seething with anger. Her facial expressions expressing her anger and pain. She got off the taxi and composed herself. She knocked on the door. Mr. Wayne, opened the door, “Welcome Ms. Pirzada, I’d inform Mr. Daniel, that you are here”. “I’d rather go where Sir is, Mr. Wayne”. “Yes, Ma’am”. She was taken to the palatial living room where what she saw broke the last shred of hope. Daniel was sitting in a chair and Louise was on the arm, both were looking at wedding gowns and most shockingly, Daniel was seemingly happy. “Sir, Ma’am, Ms. Pirzada”. “Hey, how are you?”, Louise asked first. Daniel on the other hand froze. “I am perfectly alright ma’am”, said Mira lying in her face. “I just wanted to show some papers to Mr Westland, Sir could I see you in the study”, said Mira a bit authoritatively, and immediately realised her mistake, “If Ma’am has no problem”, “Of course, please I know Daniel, business always first, but don’t be too long”.
They headed off to the study. Mr. Wayne asked both if they wanted something, Daniel asked for cold water. After water was kept on his table,”Please close the door behind you Mr. Wayne”, “Yes, Mr. Westland”, and closed the door. When Daniel heard the definitive click, he took Mira in his arms and kissed her deep and hard. Mira pulled away and slapped him, “You are the worst man on this earth, Daniel Westland. On one hand you are going to marry this woman, without giving a thought about me and now when you see me suddenly you feel all your feelings searing back”. “You have all the right to say all of it, I know I am a wretch, but just listen to me once why I did this, please you know how much I love you, please”. She nodded her head in silent agreement, “I am bleeding money and I needed a loan, the only bank willing to give me a loan is owned by Alfred Armston”, “The British Bank”, said Mira, and then it all made sense “But in return you have to marry his daughter”. “Exactly, I knew you’d understand”. “Understand, UNDERSTAND, you know what, I think Louise Armston does know you better than me , it really is business first for you Mr. Daniel Westland”, she took out her necklace that she had never taken out even once and threw it at Daniel and almost stormed out of the library. She saw, Louise was standing close. Daniel came behind her running and saw Louise and stopped in his tracks. “I forgot something, Mira, you see, I am not really happy with the last part of it, will you revise it and get it tonight and join us for dinner”. “That is a great idea”, said Louise before, Mira could refute the invitation, “We’d be waiting, we’d be delighted by the company”.
She unwilling accepted and waited uncomfortably for the night to fall so that she could just end with probably what was going to be the most difficult meal of her life.
She was shown in by Mr. Wayne and waiting in the dining room were the future Mr. and Mrs. Westland. Even the mere thought of it made her shudder. She began to pull out a chair for herself, “Allow me”, said Daniel. They sat down to eat and well, though Louise did most of the talking, it was probably enough for the both of them. “I hope I am not straining your attention”. “Oh of course not” said Mira. “I have been meaning to ask you a question”, said Louise. “Oh please do ask”, said Mira. “I want you to be my maid of honour, Mira?”. She felt the food choking her food pipe. “Me, but why, I mean I’d definitely enjoy doing it but still”. “I just think that you are a great woman with lots of brains and apparently great persuasive powers, so you’d help me if I’d get cold feet”. “I don’t quite follow you ma’am” . “Oh come on, I was joking, but it is actually the way you handled Daniel through his tough times, I think he’d really want you to be there, won’t you Daniel?”, she said looking at Daniel. “Yes, sure, just excuse me for a minute ladies”. When he left, “Moreover, I’d like you to see, up and close, that man being taken away from someone to whom he never belonged to me, if I were you lady I’d keep off the grass”, and she and suddenly the soft smile vanished to give way to and expression that could just mean ‘Back off’ . “Oh Daniel please persuade, Ms. Pirzada to stay a bit longer, she is asking for her leave”, Louise became her original self in seconds as Daniel came in. All Mira could do was stare in horror and just say “Oh please ma’am I really need to go, good night”.
Finally the day came, the day she had been dreading of . But some part of her still believed in him, he’d say no to the wedding and come back to her. She dressed in a beautiful gown, though Louise was surely a bitch but she had a great taste in clothes. All accumulated at this huge church in South Wales, Daniel had taken her around a lot but this place was completely unknown to her. Rook came into her room, “They are going to begin any minute, come on”. It had taken a huge effort to ensure that Rook came, he had refused to be a part of the wedding and Daniel had asked him to be his best man. But Mira asked him once and he agreed to be a groomsman, that was the most he was going to do.They all came into the waiting room, she went to Daniel one last time and just said “Congratulations and you look really handsome today, and thank you for going for a straight fit, any other style makes you look like, like someone who belongs to me”, she smiled. “What, he caught her roughly by the arm, I always have and will belong to you, you get that”, she smiled again. “Hey, hey big brother, congoz”, he hugged his elder brother, then he saw Mira, beautiful as the sunrise, “And hello madam, Christopher Westland”, he took Mira’s hand and kissed it, “Have we met before?”, he asked rather innocently while walking her to another side of the room. “Oh I think I’d remember”, said Mira, “Big brother you say, how come I never saw you before”, asked Mira. ” Oh I always have been overseas and well board meetings always have bored me. I am the Best Man and I take it that you are the Maid of Honour”. The music inviting the groom played and Christopher said ” You ready”, and they left.They now stood at the altar saying their vows, finally the priest asked, “Do you, Louise Anne Armston take Daniel Seymour Westland as your lawfully wedded husband in sickness and in health? “, “I do” said Louise rather impatiently, “Do you Daniel Seymour Westland take Louise Anne Armston to be your lawfully wedded wife in sickness and in health?”. Both Mira and Louise hung on the words that were about to be uttered by Daniel. He carefully weighed in balance the things that were at stake.
Mira simply took to the bar, she wanted to forget every bit of the past year and a half. The feeling of his touch, how it felt when they kissed, the passionate love making, every thing that could plunge her into a dismal abyss. “So we meet again”, Mira lifted her head, Christopher was beaming up ahead, “But sex is off the table”, Mira gave a sharp look, “Bridesmaid, best man, it is a bit traditional”, he chuckled. “But not obligatory”, she turned to her drink. “But we didn’t complete our conversation, so how long have you worked with my brother?”, “About a year and a half, now can you leave me alone”, she said curtly, “No you see, the way my brother used to talk about his lady love, I never thought that he was talking about Louise, she is so well, ah let her go, so you an alcoholic”, “No”, cringed Mira, “Then why are you here, shouldn’t you be at the table”, I’ll go when the ceremony starts and may be you could stop irritating me till then”, she said with a look that scared the living daylights out of him.
In New York, Mira was welcomed by a change of responsibilities. She was to handle the legalities of the group pan America. Her first job, handle the transition of Christopher Westland from the African continent to the States. Whatever little she had seen of him, he was naive, childish and an out and out playboy, exactly opposite to his brother, whom she loved with all her heart. She ran a google search on him, he was just a spoilt rich brat in all the sense of the term. And he was going to be here in America more so in New York.
Christopher arrived at New York, a few days later. A bash was arranged for his arrival, everyone was invited and Mira had to go, how much ever she was not interested. Parties are always hectic, cause headaches and have loud music. She took to a corner with a glass of wine and noticed the activities from a distance, she DJ was playing Mamma Mia, one of her favourites. Suddenly she saw him coming, “Bridesmaid!”, “I have a name and would appreciate if you would call me that, it is Pirzada, Mira Pirzada”. “See again you are with a glass of wine sulking in your corner, I am going to be working from here and it is going to be fun”, he raised his hand for a high five. Mira got up and said “Yeah a lot of fun”.
She wanted to take a stroll outside alone, but that was not to be, Christopher followed her. “Oh why can’t you just leave me alone”, she almost shouted. “So India huh, how is life there”. Mira just looked shocked, the guy had an appetite. “India is not a remote island, it is a full fledged country, for God’s sake”. And thus started her ordeal, he asked her about everything, her school, her college, her job at the company and basically ensured that she remained frustrated. Mira gave up all hope of shooing him and gave in. She thought maybe he won’t come after her after this. Slowly the night descended on them and Christopher put an arm around her waist, when Mira looked up objectionably, he thrust his gace forward and Mira pushed him away with one swift movement, “You are just a pathetic playboy and nothing like your brother, just stay away, or else you will have it from me” and she stormed out of there. “But you are not like the other girls”, Christopher said after her.
He was making life miserable. He had the same eyes, the same gait, almost the same smooth, silky voice but he was Christopher, not Daniel, whom she still loved to bits. He still pestered her as if what he had done had no bearing at their professional relationship at all. This is what separated him from his brother. He was not as respectable and honourable towards women as his brother. He considered them as disposable pleasures rather than meaningful pursuits. And she Mira was having a hard time fending off his advances, as she had noticed earlier, he was incorrigible, determined to win he like his brother. Hence, he was making life miserable. What could she do, looking at him brought with it a sea of a plethora of enmeshed feelings, she was reminded of the passionate love that made her heart rejoice and the equally painful betrayal, she was stuck between rock and a hard place.
“Good morning beautiful”, she was jolted back to the present by Christopher’s voice. “Your office is two floors above and in the completely opposite direction and yet you stop by, why?”, “To give you your morning coffee, beautiful”. “How many times do I tell you, call me by my name, please, this is an office space”. “I don’t care, beautiful and besides, how would I tell you that we are going on a date tonight. It is a great little place on the Marylebone Road, it is a formal place, you know, dress up, reservation’s at 8”, and he strutted out as casually, as he came in. Mira looked after him dumbstruck. How could someone ask, or well whatever he did, you on a date and insult your dressing at the same time and she couldn’t reply, couldn’t fight, for crying out loud, she was a lawyer. She felt so angry that she decided that she would go, not because she wanted to but because she wanted to flaunt her dressing sense, he was his boss, to hell with the fact.
She took a half day and went shopping, something she had never done. She was well not particularly fond of shopping just that occasional spree. After shopping she went home and took a long bath with lavender bath salts and then got dressed. She reached the Restaurant at sharp 8 ‘o’ clock. She asked to be shown to the table and the only thing Christopher Westland could do was stare. With his fair share of the world’s artificial beauties, he was awestruck by how beautiful Mira was. She wore a blue gown with drooping shoulders that outlined her collarbone. The dress highlighted her curves that sent his heart racing; she walked like a goddess, every eyeball turned towards her. Her sleek neck was adorned by a Harry Winston diamond wreath, he a veteran of buying many of them for his girlfriends. Her hair tied up in a bun, left her face to be admired. She had applied very little make up or probably none at all, but her face was all he could look at. It’s raw, untamed beauty was nothing like Christopher had ever seen.
She sat down in front of him with such grace that he was almost going to ask for an encore. “Good evening”, it was his turn to be jolted. “You smell wonderful”, “Excuse me”, “Oh I mean hello Mira”, finally the trick was done and he said her name finally. The night progressed rather slowly; Christopher never wanted it to end, as opposed to Mira for whom all of this was just to prove a point. But she never knew that this was one of the many dates that were to take the fancy of Christopher, who would shower her with gifts because he seriously thought that he was in love for the first time. The love, he thought his brother had found in Louise.
The dinner date slowly turned into lunches, luncheons and then Mira was having almost every meal save the breakfast with Christopher. He was funny, saw life in a completely different light. Mira had also resigned to the fact that he was trying really hard to date her, she never brought herself to say yes to being his girlfriend, but somehow found it difficult to avoid him. She also had slowly started liking him as a friend, he could talk incessantly and was a pathetic Life was still a fairy tale for him. Christopher, on the other hand wasn’t getting enough of her, with him he could have a real conversation, not like the bimbettes he had dated the world over. She was kind and caring and an excellent cook. And he was contemplating about how to get that first meal of the day with her. The only way he could think of was asking her to move in with him, but was he going to bell the cat.
She politely had refused whatever he brought for her. But today, she wouldn’t be able to do it. Today, he took her to an Indian restaurant. They ordered their meal and while they were at it, he broached the topic by taking out a small box about the size of a box for rings. Mira saw it, her heart leapt. Did she like him? Yes. Could she love him? No. Did she enjoy his company? Yes. Could she spend her life with him? Maybe. Could she go through the same thing again, like she went with Daniel? No. She didn’t wait for him to open the box and said, “Yes, I will marry you”. Christopher froze, his fingers felt funny and weren’t responding to the brain’s command anymore. Did he want to marry her, Hell yeah. Slowly he opened the box, took out the keys, and when Mira saw them she felt like a big fool.
Oh my god, I am such an idiot”. “No it is perfectly fine, you just said the words I wanted to hear so badly, but I was scare that you will say no and I could never bring myself to as you. But”. He got down on one knee and put the key ring in her ring finger, it wasn’t the perfect fit. “Oh, I thought it would be romantic”. “It is” was all she could say.
The only person, Christopher wanted to tell this was his elder brother. Hence he scheduled a meeting with him, booked tickets for the both of them and as usual in his for granted fashion told Mira that they were leaving for London, two days later. When she asked what it was for, he just said that it was a surprise.
On reaching London, he called a cab that took Mira to the Westland hotel. While parting he told her about their dinner date at his house, he said “I will send someone”. She said “Don’t worry I can find my way”. At the Westland mansion, Christopher, eagerly went up to his brother’s room and told him “Your surprise has arrived”. “Please don’t tell me it is you. “Hey! OK no it is not me but the woman I want to marry, I have arranged for her to stay at the Westland in London, she will be here in the evening”. “Wonderful”. Unknowingly Daniel had uttered these words because what lay ahead for him, fate wasn’t going to be that kind.
Dinner was ready, but the only thing kept them was, the impending arrival of Christopher’s lady love, meeting with whom was going to be an affair to remember. She entered the gates. They were the same as she remembered, when she had first walked through them. She had never pondered but she realised that life always had its ways to complete the circle. Daniel, Louise and Christopher waited in the dining room while Mr. Wayne announced the arrival of a certain madam. She walked through the doors, to the amazement of all though it varied in degree. Christopher was amazed by her beauty as always, Louise was amazed at how funny the situation was and Daniel was amazed and appalled at how Mira could do this to him. “Mira”, Daniel said. “Isn’t she great”, said Chris. “Yes”, said Daniel. They had dinner amongst a pin drop silence. The tension in the air could be cut with a knife.
After they were done, Daniel asked Louise to take care of the desert and when she said that the cooks could take care of such small thing, he said “ I insist”. Christopher had to take a call and conveniently excused himself. Left alone were Daniel and Mira. “She is sleeping with our CFO”, Mira though shocked by the news said uninterestedly “ Why are you telling me this, sir”, the last word said with a certain emphasis. .”I thought you should know, take some tips from he about how to hide your affair from your husband, she did a great job, until one day when she suddenly decide she wanted to go for dancing classes, and I decided to drop in early one day where she said she learnt or she said she learnt. Then with a little investigation, I found the truth”, “I would like to reiterate my question, sir”. Daniel flared up held her by the arm, slightly twisted it, “Don’t you go all sir on me. I seriously now think it was never me, but the money you were after, or why would you be here with my brother, oh so ready to marry him”. “ First, I couldn’t wait for you all my life, when you betrayed my trust, you lost all claim on me. Second he had the guts to ask me and third and the most important thing that you too married Louise for money so you don’t have any right to lecture me on my moral values which I can assure you are firmly grounded”. When every one came back she said “ I don’t think I can stay for desert, it is a long way back to the hotel and I have some work to do, I am really sorry”. Without waiting for a reply, she left.
Two news hit the newspapers about the Westlands, one good and the other bad. The younger one, Christopher Westland was getting married, to the Chief GC of their company, an Indian, Mira Pirzada. And the second, the elder, Daniel Westland was filing for divorce on grounds of adultery. Every gossip reporter had gone into a frenzy to dig about both the love story and the hate story. The inner sources said that according to the pre-nuptials, if a party is caught in the act was not to get any money in the estate. Daniel knew this, he was so tired of his marriage that he thanked his stars that Louise did something like this or he would have done it himself.
The final hearing of the divorce had been completed today, Daniel Westland was legally a free man, but unfortunately not a happy man. But now he had more time to mull over his life’s miseries. The lady he loved was getting married to someone his very own brother, he had blown every chance of reconciliation to bits. Mira was tired too of thinking that her life still would have been better off with him. she too deserved a better life, a second chance. But he wanted to do one thing before the ship capsized. He called up Mira, who was busy shopping for the wedding. When she looked at her phone, it did something it hadn’t done for almost a year, it flashed ‘Daniel Westland calling’. She disconnected the phone thrice before she couldn’t handle it “What”, “Please listen to me calmly, please tell me where you are, I want to meet you just once, just once please please, I promise I will not bother you after this”. “I am at Harrods”, she said hotly. After about half an hour her phone pinged, he was waiting in his car. She got in. He drove silently for more than hour when she finally asked, “Where are you taking me”. “It is not very far now”.
The buildings had thinned. There was more of lush greenery, they were far from the main city. After about another 45 minute drive, Daniel parked the car in the driveway of a house that was big but not palatial, yet imposing. With gardens on both sides of the driveway, one corner had a few swings and a small fountain. The house was built in old Georgian architecture and was very beautiful. He held her hand, took her in, the ceiling was high with a huge chandelier in the middle. It still had places where one could light lamps and also had the basic modern amenities but the best of each. The windows were huge that lit up the insides of the villa. It was even furnished with a dining table, sofa, a few couches here and there and the great wooden chairs. The floor was covered from wall to wall with carpet and had a delightful feeling to it. The huge fireplace had a bookshelf that had books of most of her favourite authors. She finally asked, “Why are we here?”, “Haha, why are we here, this is where we were meant to be, Mira”, “What”. He started walking about, “I bought this house when I knew that I wanted to spend my life with you and refurbished it. There are four rooms, one for us, two for the kids, a boy and a girl, the girl being the elder one and another guest bedroom. The swings, well I thought the kids would need a park to play and there isn’t one in the vicinity, so I created one in the house. I wanted us to grow old here Mira, grow old together”. She broke down, but said “You think it’s that easy buying you way out of it, you brothers are both idiots, you feel the world is at your feet and with your money you can get everything. Emotions and true love cannot be bought Dan, it has to earned. I am going to Mrs. Christopher Westland and you will have to accept that and live with the choices you made. Now please leave me where you picked me”.
The date of the wedding was coming was coming nearer and the level of anxiousness in both Mira and Christopher was rising day by day. They wanted to do the ceremony in London itself but Mira wanted them to go to New York for one small but very important thing. They arrived at Jamesson Rook’s house late in the afternoon, the pleasure to see each other was heightened by the great news Mira had to share with him. She was getting married to Christopher. The only reason she wanted to come personally was as she wanted him to perform a task at the wedding, the task of giving her away. Mira’s was brought up by two very distant parents that only took interest in her well being until and unless it didn’t interfere with their work life, to which Mira attributed her work ethic. Hence, the only man fit enough to give her away was James. He has loved her like a sister he never had. Pampering her, consoling her and giving her a hefty dose of humour when she needed it.
“It has been a long time since you made me your pasta, please can you make it today?”, asked Rook. “Oh of course”, Mira happily obliged. When she was away from earshot, James said “You are a great man, accepting her for what she is”, “She is spectacular and I love her”. “But most men won’t have the guts to accept a woman that was their sibling’s girlfriend, and with Mira and Daniel, everyone who knew felt that they were meant to be together, but Daniel had to marry that Louise in order to save the business else today, she would have been you sister-in-law”. Now it all made sense to Christopher, he knew the woman Daniel had talked about had to be more dynamic than what Louise had been, something was amiss with her, he knew on the day they got married that she probably wasn’t the same girl. He now knew how much his brother loved Mira, she was with whom he had dreamed to spend his entire life. “Christopher”. “Yeah, I know”.
Today is the wedding day. She wore a white lace gown, embroidered all over with flowers, it was low cut and was flowy near the bottom. She looked nothing less than Artemis herself. She got ready, James’ wife was her bridesmaid. She walked slowly towards the altar, holding James’ hand. When she reached the altar, she pecked James on the cheek and stood their near her to be groom. The ceremony began and her groom lifted her veil, she looked, dumbstruck at his face, Daniel Westland stood beaming in front of her and when she looked at the best man, she realised it was none other than Christopher himself, he winked at her. In the extreme joy and shock of the moment she faltered a lot during the ceremony but when it came to the vows, she said them with sheer confidence and accepted Daniel Westland as her husband through the ups and the downs, through the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health.