As he approached the corridor for Raghav's rooms Samir knew Bahadhur Singh had been right in calling him. He could clearly hear a girl's screams of protest from behind the closed doors of Raghav's rooms. Two of his friends were stationed outside the doors laughing, smoking and cracking crude jokes about what was going on inside.
Samir's furious dark eyes rested upon them, his face like thunder. Both of them took one look at his angry face and clenched fists as he strode towards them and decided to make a run for it.
“So no loyalties here” muttered Samir as he watched them run off leaving the door unguarded. The girls screams seemed to be getting louder, he was just about to kick at the door, then he thought that Raghav in all his misplaced arrogance probably had not even locked it, knowing that nobody would dare interrupt whatever he was doing normally. Samir tried the handles and sure enough it was not locked. Throwing both the doors wide open, he strode in to see Raghav trying to force the girl onto the bed, even as she fought him tooth and nail.
She looked in quite a state, her dress torn, her face red as if it had been slapped, mascara stained tears streaked her cheeks, her eyes wide and petrified.
Disgusted with his half-brother Samir furiously yanked him away from the girl thrusting him across the room. Thankful for the intervention, she immediately put as much distance between herself and Raghav running towards Samir.
Extremely surprised to be pulled away so violently, Raghav's face was a picture of shock and then as he saw who had interrupted his sport, his face became ugly.
“This is none of your business!” he shouted at Samir. “Get lost!” He dismissed him walking towards the terrified girl then as he saw Samir's face he stopped at a safe distance.
Samir looked around the room finding Raghav's discarded jacket on a nearby chair he picked it up and placed it around her shoulders covering up her torn dress, she was shaking like a leaf he noted.
“She was throwing herself at me! She wanted this,” Raghav shouted, then as he saw her shaking her head, he became really angry, “You bitch! You wanted this, why did you come with me to my room otherwise?”
Samir's dark eyes looked at Raghav furiously as he said, “is that why she was screaming for you to leave her alone? You disgust me, you cannot seem to get a woman without forcing her, I have had complaints about you from all over the district!”
With an infuriated scream Raghav launched himself at Samir, but the drink and coke he had earlier snorted did not help his balance. Samir calmly moved out of the way and Raghav crashed to the ground in an undignified heap.
“I wwwant to go home!” The girl next to him pleaded to Samir.
“What's going on here?” Choti Raani Saheeba interrupted Raghav's furious tirade as he got up unsteadily from the floor.
Samir watched her enter and wondered how she had got here so quickly. The last he had seen her was deep in the midst of the party, but seeing that she was here she could help with the girl.
“Please take this young woman and make sure she gets home safely Choti Raani Saheeba.” Samir commanded, getting hold of Raghav's arm, he pushed him into a chair.
Choti Raani Saheeba clapped her hands and a woman appeared, “Go with Farida” she said to the young woman. “She will take you to my rooms, I will come there in a moment to see that you get home safely.” Farida came in and took the young woman with her.
“I should really call the police and let them deal with you,” Samir said to Raghav “but I know that you make regular payments to the local ones so they don’t interfere with your activities, you are not fit to be called a Rathor!” Samir finished in disgust.
Raghav looked at Samir with such hatred even Choti Raani Saheeba baulked. It pained him to remember that his mother had not been of royal blood but little more than a conniving mistress and everybody knew that fact. However hard he tried to make himself out to be a real royal prince, the truth always came back to haunt him.
“Samir leave him with me, I will sort it out.” Choti Rani Saheeba said in a pleading voice seeing the situation rapidly getting out of control.
“I am a Prince! You think you are better than me but the same blood of our father flows in your veins too!” Raghav declared vehemently.
“Yes that's what disgusts me!” Samir replied. Hating that very fact, his mothers face suddenly came into his mind and he saw her crumpling in front of his eyes so many years ago as his father beat her mercilessly with a whip for trying to stop him from raping a maid.
Choti Raani Saheeba told Raghav to shut up, her eyes warning him that he was cutting it very close with Samir.
“Dont worry Samir he has just had a little too much to drink, beta Raghav haven’t you, it will not happen again.” she said in her girly pleading voice, her eyes full of tears.
Samir looked at her and felt terrible that she had to put up with all this.
“I am nothing like him or you Raghav, I do not force myself on women. Get this into your head, I am back and I am here to stay, you better get used to it and if I get to hear one more complaint about you I will take you myself to the police and send you to jail for a very long time!” Samir told him in no uncertain terms. With that he turned on his heel sharply and strode out of the room angry and disgusted.
“Raghav what is wrong with you, have you no sense?” Choti Raani Saheeba said her voice changing from the pleading tone she had used in Samir's presence to her usual sharp high-pitched tone, the fake tears vanishing as fast as they had been summoned.
“Could you not wait for a more suitable time, if any of this gets out to the other guests it will not look good.” She stared at him with hard eyes, “you nearly ruined it all. Now I will have to go and deal with that politician's daughter and make sure she goes home suitably happy otherwise we will have trouble on our hands. What a mess! It was going so well, even Samir was being kept busy and out of the way by that Dr Gupta woman, now go and sober up and get back to the party, help your Uncle make some money!” She finished angrily walking out of his room in a cloud of Chanel.
Raghav wondered which woman had kept his pure blooded brother busy, it would be useful to know.
Samir strode towards his annex, now in no mood to go back to the party. Damn Raghav and all of them and he really wished that he had never come back at all. But then he would have never met Persephone.
He should have never kissed her, but she had been so tempting, those extraordinary eyes of hers, he had lost himself in them. Her whole manner so deliciously different from any other woman he had ever known, intelligent, delightful, feisty and pure.
The cool night air helped to calm him down, he stood looking at the distant desert dunes, at the cloudless night sky, taking in the extraordinary amount of stars visible in this beautiful place not affected by light pollution.
Pure, the word stuck in his chest. His mother had been like that and look how she had ended up, maybe he should stay away from Persephone, maybe some of his father's blood did flow through his veins, and he would end up hurting her he knew. She did not deserve that, there was so much darkness in him it was not fair to Persephone to take things further. He stood for a long time in the dark as the black memories of his childhood came back to him. He would try and keep away from her. He decided it was for the best for both of them.
Persephone sat on the terrace of the hotel looking up at the star filled night sky, hugging her knees in the cool night air as she sat on the beautifully carved Indian swing and smiled wistfully as she recounted the night's events minute by minute.
Samir..... so Mr Scowl had turned out to be a Maharajah, her original thought about him had been true. The way he smiled at her had all but made her toes curl. The man was a puzzle though, there was such pain hidden behind that cool demeanour, she had felt it deep within her. She wondered what the cause of that pain was. It had to be something to do with his uncle and his past, she decided, as she remembered the way he had stood up and thanked them looking calm but wound up like a spring. She wondered if she should ask Sunitaji or Bahadhur Singh about it.
She had never been one to sit and weave romantic dreams about any man but that unexpected kiss had really blown her mind. Maybe it was just the night and the music she pondered, perhaps he had kissed her on the spur of the moment and nothing more than that, groaning at herself for thinking too much into the kiss she went down to her room to sleep, Bahadhur Singh was coming early to pick her up tomorrow, she was looking forward to that very much.
Amar Singh listened to his wife gravely, Raghav had nearly spoilt everything damn that boy he would never learn, but the night had proved fruitful. He had won a lot of money and also duped one or two people in some on going schemes.
“I will talk to him,” he said “what about the girl?”
“She is the daughter of a lowly local politician, I got it out of her that her father had wanted her to become 'friends' with Raghav, but at the last moment she had changed her mind. At least we have that as a saving grace, if she had really been totally innocent in this I don’t know how we would have kept it all covered up.”
“Also.....” she said pausing dramatically smiling a hard little smile “I have found a little chink in the armour of our whiter then white nephew, Samir it seems has fallen for Dr Gupta, I saw them kissing.”
“Dr Gupta?” Amar Singh enquired his interest piqued “yes that woman who I sat him next to, she is actually quite stunning, the one with the red hair.” replied Choti Raani Saheeba.
Raghav listened to their conversation from the door, Dr Gupta....how interesting, so that stunning woman next to Samir had been her, now he wanted her even more, he would teach Samir a lesson that would teach him not to interfere in his matters Raghav decided. But for now he had better make peace with the old man, he thought walking in apologising to his uncle profusely.
Perse looked around the palace with excitement. She did not know where to start. Bahadhur Singh had arrived on time as she had predicted and drove her to the palace. They had started at the exquisite peacock doors Perse had entered from last night and continued from there, Perse taking pictures as they went along. She noted that although the heat was rising outside, inside the palace was cool. Bahadhur Singh explained that the architect had designed cooling vents where the hot air from outside was channelled through cool marble walls where water flowed cooling it down somewhat. Impressed with the engineering aspect of the design, Perse made it a point to put that in her book.
They spent most of the day going around from one point to another, the palace was huge. Bahadhur Singh made sure she had plenty of refreshments and also a wonderful lunch. Perse was overwhelmed by his hospitality. After lunch they went towards the stables and outer grounds, there were so many paddocks, some with horses. Perse clicked away at the beautiful scenery with the palace in the background.
Bahadhur Singh's phone rang and he excused himself for a while whilst he dealt with a matter. Perse continued around the paddocks and went towards the stables clicking away. She heard a commotion in the stables and found four of the rowdy young men from last night causing chaos.
They were trying to get the grooms to hold a horse still, a horse that she recognised immediately. Toofan! There were four grooms trying to quieten him but he was too strong for all of them, stamping and moving around not letting anyone hold him, looking quite arrogant and annoyed with the lot of them, just like the owner Perse smiled.
One of the young men was becoming really angry, grabbing a whip from a nearby wall he started threatening Toofan with it, making the horse nervous and edgy, whining and snorting fiercely.
Perse shot into action even though she was petrified of the huge animal. There was no way she was going to let such a beautiful animal be whipped.
“Leave Toofan alone!” she said loudly, they all turned around and looked at her approach, then started laughing and whistling at her, then turned back to the horse dismissing her as no threat. She realised as she got closer that again they were drunk today as well.
Toofan snorted at her, his eyes watching as she walked towards him. He seemed to recognise her and started coming towards her pulling the grooms along with him. Perse froze with fright, becoming rooted to the spot.
One of the grooms shouted “Madam! Move!”
But Perse was too scared to move, remembering how Samir had softly chatted with him Perse decided that talking would be the best option, well she thought she would die doing what she did best, talking!
She started chatting away to him, her voice shaking a little as she sought to control her fright. Toofan shoved his nose right up to her face, his eyes almost talking back to her. With a shaking hand she gently stroked his face. Even the grooms and the rowdy young men all looked completely shocked.
“Why you are just a softy really” Perse cooed at him, finding a packet of polo mints from her pocket she offered it to him, remembering she had read somewhere that horses loved mints, he greedily chewed it nuzzling for more. Breathing a sigh of relief that he had calmed down she carried on talking to him softly, telling him what a beautiful animal he was. Toofan nodded and whined as if he understood her every word.
Coming around the corner Raghav saw her, his eyes catching on her red hair straight away. What was she doing here? Then he remembered what Choti Raani Saheeba had said about her taking pictures of the palace. What a perfect opportunity to get to introduce himself he thought walking towards her, but what was she doing with that horse of Samir's. That horse was a danger to all but she had him eating out of her hand.
Raghav wanted her so much in that moment he could almost taste her, she was wearing a long white skirt with a little white Kurti top, casual and stunning she looked with her red hair tied back and those blue eyes of hers.
Hello! Dr Gupta isnt it? he said in his most charming voice, staying far away from Toofan as he could without making it obvious.
Toofan snorted loudly, rearing back slightly. Perse cooed softly to him giving him the last of her mints, two of the grooms gently led him away back to his stable.
Perse recognised the man who had called out, he had been sitting opposite her, the man with the not so nice smile. The four young men went towards him, moaning about not being able to ride Toofan.
Raghav told them off tersely mindful of Perse's presence, telling them all to go and sober up. Perse watched the men slink off thankful that they would not harass Toofan any longer.
“Why don’t we go and have something cool to drink?” he said walking towards the palace, “after all that excitement I think you need a long cool drink.” He smiled most charmingly at her.
She could do with a nice cold drink Perse thought definitely, but she was not quite sure about this man “Err I have to wait for Bahadhur Singh,” she said.
“Oh don’t worry about him, I will let one of the servants know and they will tell him when he comes back that you are with me. By the way I am Samir's brother,” he said introducing himself. “Some refreshing cool lemonade perhaps?” he smiled his brown eyes twinkling at her.
Perse smiled back thinking that was not such a bad idea in this heat. “That would be lovely.” she replied.
© Jane Meme Copyright 27.02.2012