Chapter – 37
Khushi said goodnight to Granny, who asked for Arnav, promising her that she would tell him to see her as soon as he returned. She came out of the room and sighed loudly.
How could she tell Granny that her grandson was not her grandson at all! And that an imposter was there in his place! What happened to Arnav! She gasped as cold fear gripped her heart.
Where was her husband?
She caught her head with both her hands and closed her eyes in sheer stress. It was evident that they did something to Arnav in order to put the imposter in his place.
How could it be possible? It was not a movie! She mused.
Did they kidnap him or did they … her heart ached even to think of the other option!
No! They wouldn’t dare to do that! But, there was no remorse as far as things went in the present day. But why did anyone want to replace Arnav with his imposter? The first reason could be property! But it was so complicated. It was not as simple as they showed in tele serials. Science has created so many avenues to detect anomalies in inheritances like DNA tests. She replied to her own queries.
She broke into cold sweat, as she thought of Arnav. She realized how far she had come from the day she set foot on the valley.
It was he then. It was he even right then, and she realized as tears rolled down her cheeks that it was he all the way and it would be him for her all the time. She was in love with Arnav Simha Junior. She opened her eyes wide in realization and smarted her tears off her eyes, as she silently prayed for his safety and return.
The Whisper Valley
“So what do you suggest?” The man asked the other.
“I suggest we first start with the transcripts and then we shall go for the next level, that of the fulfillment of the ritual, as prescribed by the Amma of Palachi” the other man was going on when the first man blocked him and said, “Whoa and what would I be doing till then? Do you guys even realize the risk I am exposed to?”
“Oh cut the crap! Said a female voice, which said, “ Just do what you are told.”
“How dare you?” The first man hissed at the woman.
“I dare. Coz you know the stakes involved here” came the reply for her.
“And you also remember that he retorted.”
“I always remember, coz it’s very difficult to forget such things.” She said sarcastically.
“Aaaaargh! Will you guys stop fighting and think of the action plan?” The other man asked, making all of them to speak at once excitedly.
The Whisper Valley
Khushi settled Garima, who refused to go the ball after filling her with all details except for the fact that an imposter has replaced her husband. She sat in the parlour near the fire, and didn’t have a clue as to what she should be doing.
Should she talk to Joel about this? He could be of some help! She thought and walked to the entrance of Casa Willows and happened to peep outside through the window by its side. She saw the imposter and Joel shaking hands and talking.
Could she trust Joel? She didn’t know! What if he was involved too? Whoever planned it, wouldn’t do so without having any clout inside the staff of the Casa.
She immediately decided to leave Joel out of it. But she had to share with someone and would have to intimate the police. But what would she be telling them. And how was she going to prove that it’s not her husband. She walked back to the Parlour, and sat dejectedly staring at the crackling fire.
He hadn’t returned yet, but what after he does! Khushi wondered.
As she was dreading the moment, the imposter walked in.
“Hello love!” He said greeting her.
Again an odd thing! Arnav never addressed her so. She squirmed.
The man looked very arrogant and jazzy to Khushi.
She got up nervously and said, “Hi! Would you like to have some coffee?”
“Yeah!” He said smiling at her, and said, “I don’t think the staff is in today coz after the Annual Ball, they have all gone home.”
Khushi sucked in her breath!
Oh no! He chose a perfect moment for replacement! She Granny and mom! All three ladies were in danger, and out of which two are elderly woman and very vulnerable.
“What’s wrong Khushi?” He enquired.
“No I am just worried about granny” she prevaricated.
“She had had a very strenuous day today so just worried of her health.” She quipped.
The imposter walked to Khushi and stood before her and put one arm on her shoulder and squeezed it and said, “Thats ok! The old coot is very strong! So strong that she spins webs around people,” and at a frowning Khushi he said, “ Just look at the way she got you married all in a haste.
‘Got you married’ Khushi noticed how he talked differently. It should have been, ‘got us married’ actually she thought. It was confirmed that he was an imposter.
“Yeah! But she has done what she thought was the best” Khushi defended granny. Somehow she couldn’t let any one talk against the elderly lady, who was so gracious.
“Yeah! Exactly! That’s the whole problem. She always did what she thought was best and many times it wasn’t so. The man’s smile didn’t reach his eyes, as he mocked Devyani.
“What do you mean?” Khushi frowned.
How dared he talked against granny! She was furious.
“Er…” he immediately diverted the topic by saying, “She has put me in a tight spot several times. and only I know how I saved myself. You don’t know Khushi, she makes an opinion about a person and never budges from it.” He said.
Khushi stared at him and realized how different his personality was from Arnav.
Arnav adored his granny! And this man seemed somehow to loathe her.
“But you love your granny” she said, with narrowed eyes and he immediately jerked and said, “Of course I do! But you are my wife so I thought I would let you know about some of the family secrets, and also about the reality of my gran.”
Khushi’s blood boiled, but she held on and said, “Ok what family secrets are you talking about?”
He stared for a long time at Khushi and asked, “What am I going to get in return?”
“What?” She suddenly felt nervous the way he was eyeing her.
“I didn’t know I need to pay a price to know about some family issues, of which I am a part now.” She tried to put him in place.
He suddenly caught her hand and jerked her into him purring, “Ofcourse you are family darling, one way or the other!”
“What do you mean?” Khushi said trying to stand apart from him.
He smiled then, and that was when Khussi could actually see the difference between her husband and the imposter. Arnav when he smiled which was rare, he lit up the entire surroundings not to mention the softness that ruled over his face when he smiled sparingly. But the man when he smiled his teeth shone transforming his face into a wicked one. His eyes didn’t have the sparkle; neither did his expression that was severe even when he laughed.
“I meant you are now family and so you have a right to know!” He said.
“It didn’t seem like that!” Khushi quipped.
“I am like this! So make a habit of it!” He growled suddenly and khushi felt very repelled by his presence so near to her.
She extricated her hand saying, “Let me make that coffee for both of us” and slipped into the kitchen.
She shivered as she made the coffee.
What did he want from her? If he were trying to take her to his bed, then it would be over her dead body! She thought, and tried her best to think of an option to buy time.
If they were to retire o their room, then she would have to go with him to his room and bed. Oh no! What should she do! Khushi opened the upper cupboard just above the cooking range to extract coffee powder, and there she saw a small bottle of sleeping pills tucked away to the corner. Whoever was using it, but it turned in handy. She thought, as she popped in a few pills into his coffee.
She then arranged the cups on the tray, and walked to the parlour and offered it to him. The imposter sipped on the coffee, as she sipped on hers praying to god that the pills should work so that she gets time to do something about the whole situation.
As they finished, he put his arm round her waist and said, “Time for bed my dearest,” and she froze at the tone he used.
He certainly was planning to bed her.
She smiled nervously and he said, “Ahaa! You are a new bride but, surely you can’t be so shy after a week of marriage.”
So he assumed that she and Arnav were already intimate!
She didn’t know whether that was a plus for her in the given situation, or a minus.
As they walked up the stairs, Khushi prayed fervently.
She could not call his bluff and risk the life of everyone and the family reputation. She hoped against hopes that the slipping pills worked earlier.
She escaped into the bathroom once they entered Arnav’s room, and stood praying. She waited for fifteen minutes before she opened the door and walked out and to her relief, he lay on the bed diagonally, his feet dangling down the bed.
Khushi sat down on the coach sighing loudly. What was she going to do?