Raghav smiled and flirted gently with Perse escorting her back towards the palace. Delighting her with small anecdotes about the place, pointing out the outstanding architecture, giving her some of the history, showing her several areas of detailed inlay work, waiting patently whilst she took pictures. He was the perfect host.
“I will just go and tell one of the servants that you are with me, and make arrangements for our lemonade” he said pleasantly as they walked up to the doors, when his phone rang.
“Please excuse me,” he said smiling, pulling out his mobile and answering. It was his uncle demanding to see him straight away.
Raghav made a face. Why Now!! he scowled when he had the perfect opportunity with the woman but even as he looked up he saw Bahadhur Singh walking towards them in the distance and then he saw Samir run up to Bahadhur Singh from the direction of the annex. Damn! Where had these two suddenly appeared from? His whole plan was rapidly going down the drain, his face clouded over with annoyance, it was such a shame, he thought looking at her, almost salivating. Looked like he would have to wait for a better opportunity he decided, she was definitely worth waiting for.
“Err Dr Gupta” he ventured.
“Call me Perse please!” she interjected with a smile.
He raised his eyebrows, “Err Perse something terribly urgent has come up.” he said quickly walking backwards as he spied Samir and Bahadhur Singh getting closer, “I have to go, I hope you don’t mind?” he said retreating fast, not waiting for her answer, “maybe next time.”
“Umm No! Fine see you, bye!” Perse stared, frowning at the empty spot he had been standing in, from where he had vanished like a genie.
“Persephone!” Samir's deep concerned voice washed over her. She turned to see him walking fast towards her, Bahadhur Singh some steps behind.
“Are you OK?” He stood in front of her his eyes running over her to make sure she was not hurt. She looked utterly adorable in her white kurti and skirt, his eyes focused on her soft lush pink lips as he recalled the sensational kiss of last night.
“I am fine Samir,” she said softly a blush bloomed in her cheek as she too remembered the kiss from last night, she was hoping to see him today but was not counting on it as he had said he was busy. He looked cool and breathtakingly handsome in a pale blue linen shirt which showed of his wide shoulders and casual well worn jeans, which fitted him to perfection.
“Madam!” Bahadhur Singh came up to them, a little out of breath. “Where have you been, I was most concerned.” He looked quite flustered, looking as if he needed to sit down. Worrying Perse that she had made him do too much.
“Bahadhur Singh please, you should not worry about me I can take care of myself.” and then as she saw him wipe his flustered face with a pristine handkerchief she said, “I don’t know about you, but I need a cool drink, someone did promise me lemonade but then vanished.” she smiled at him, her blue eyes sparkling.
“Of-course,” Bahadhur Singh obliged immediately, glad to be going into the cool palace and having found her unharmed.
As soon as he went, Perse said to Samir “I think I have worn him out! I feel terrible!” she frowned, “but the palace is just so fantastic, I could not wait to see everything, I wish I could fly over it and get a birds eye view.”
Samir's eyes softened on her face as he saw her worried frown. He just loved the way she had just manoeuvred Bahadhur Singh into getting a cool drink and resting, he could clearly see that she cared about him. Then an idea came to him. “Lets go and have your cool drink first and refresh ourselves and then maybe you can fly.”
Perse screwed up her nose at him adorably and grinned, “Now you are just teasing me!”
Those exquisite blue eyes filled with mirth stared into his and Samir became completely lost in them.
“Uhhm!” Bahadhur Singh called out with a smile “Come out of the heat!” he said grinning from ear to ear.
“Err Yes.” Samir said snapping out of his daze and escorting Perse inside towards the reception rooms.
As they sipped their fresh lemonade Samir told her that he would be happy to take her up in his Aztec Piper. That would give her an opportunity to see the whole place from the air. He lounged in a chair his long legs stretched out in front of him looking every inch the Maharajah Perse thought.
“Really? Wow! That would be fantastic!” Perse enthused, delighted, “Are you sure that would be no trouble?”
He sat watching her as she sipped her lemonade wondering if she realised how lovely she looked, all thoughts about keeping away from her banished from his mind for the moment.
“Samir Sir, I wish you would not go up in that old plane of your father's, I am not sure if its safe.” Bahadhur Singh grumbled.
“It flies beautifully, I flew it this morning and I am going to take you up in it one day too, Bahadhur Singh.” Samir said smiling at him fondly.
Bahadhur Singh looked at him in horror and replied “Over my dead body!”
Raghav entered his uncles office with a scowl on his face. What did the old man want now! He walked in and threw himself on a chair in a surly fashion.
“Raghav! Your friends are causing chaos all over the Palace!” Amar Singh moaned at him. “Either you control their behaviour or send them packing, the party is over! And where were you earlier? I sent people looking for you everywhere but you were no where to be found by the servants? ”
He was is no mood to be gentle today. Choti Raani had also vanished somewhere, without saying a word, he did not know where.
“I had things to do.” Raghav said avoiding a straight answer “And don't worry I will tell them to behave.” Raghav said, just to keep his uncle quiet, his face giving away the fact that he had no intention of telling anyone anything. He had more interesting things to think about. His mind was already working on how he could get Perse on her own.
“Ah, there you are! Where did you go? I have been seeing the guests off this afternoon and you were nowhere to be seen.” Amar Singh said as he saw Choti Raani Saheeba. She walked in a little flustered, her eyes furtive and wary. At his question she glared at him and sharply said “I had something to sort out.”
Amar Singh sighed looking at her, her face was quite pale, now what had she been up to he wondered, nothing good he thought by the look on her face.
Perse had never been in a plane so small. They were practically sitting on each others lap's as the cabin was tiny, in the close confinement of the cabin she breathed his fresh tangy fragrance, listening with delight as he talked through and showed her the basics of the plane and the controls.
Samir flew the plane with skill. It was obvious that he was a thoroughly competent pilot. Perse looked at the fabulous views of the palace and then the sand dunes and beyond as they flew over some small mountains and desert. Talking through the head phones, he pointed out various places and Perse clicked away with her camera.
Beaming with happiness she thanked him for such a fantastic experience. Now she could truly understand the whole layout of the Peacock palace and the Summer palace and see for herself what a vast and difficult undertaking it would have been to build such places without the aid of any modern machinery.
They had flown out quite a way over the desert when something started going wrong with one of the engines. It spluttered and spat, the blades stopping and it began spinning alarmingly.
Samir fiddled with a few things to try and make the engine spark to life but it gave a deathly groan and died. Frowning at the situation he wondered what the hell had happened to the engine. He had checked the plane himself just this morning as he had flown earlier, everything had been fine.
Perse looked at him with eyes full of fright, they were over the desert, no life for miles in any direction.
Samir struggled with the controls telling Perse not to worry, they would manage with just the one engine he reassured and then the thing that he was dreading happened and that too started to die. They both groaned in unison glancing at each other in shock.
Perse looked at his handsome face as he struggled to bring the plane under control, she had wanted to get to know him a bit better before she died. But hey! One could not choose your time to die, she joked to herself, her fingers digging into her seat in sheer terror.
She watched him fight with the controls and he told her to assume crash position as they rapidly descended. He somehow managed to crash land the plane, bumping and bouncing, finally ending nose up, buried in the sand.
Breathing hard, they both looked at each other hanging awkwardly in their seats. “Are you OK?” Samir questioned his face set in worried lines.
“Fine!” Perse replied smiling at him, glad to be alive, “Not much more then a few bruises. Are you OK?”
Samir grinned back. “Yes I am fine, now lets try and get out of here.” he muttered as he unclipped his belt. He tried to push the door open but it was partially wedged in the sand. After a little effort he managed to push it open so he could climb out, the plane lurched in the sand as his weight shifted. Perse who had unclipped her belt, thinking she would follow him out, slid with a thump and landed on top of the controls with a yelp of pain.
“Persephone!” He reached in and took hold of her, pulling her out with easy strength into his arms. “You should have waited for me to help you!” He scowled down at her as he saw a small cut on her forehead which started bleeding, walking away from the plane he set her down on the sand.
He pulled out a hanky from his jeans and gently pressed the cut to stop it from bleeding. “Hold this and keep it pressed.” he said as he skidded back to the plane in the sand to get the medical kit. It was going to get pretty dark soon, he worried and they had landed miles away from any village or town.
Climbing back into the plane he managed to get the medical kit, a blanket, a torch and a couple of bottles of water. As he jumped off the plane, it sank a little deeper into the sand.
Going back to Persephone, he put some antiseptic on the cut and a small band aid. “Are you hurt anywhere else?” he asked running his eyes over her.
“No I am fine, Samir please do not worry.” She did not want to tell him that she had bumped her ribs quite badly too.
Even though he knew it was useless he still pulled out his phone and tried. Perse looked around, she knew there was nothing for miles and miles. She had seen that from the air.
“I am sure Bahadhur Singh will soon realise when we have not returned and send a search party for us.” Samir said his face grim that he had managed to get Perse into such a situation. “We should stay with the plane till the morning, it will get dark in minutes as soon as the sun sets, it would be foolish to set out into the desert at night. If a search party has not found us by the morning, we will set out walking, it's a long walk but we will get to the road.
“Samir please do not worry, I am sure we will be fine.” Perse replied watching him shake out the blanket and indicate for her to sit on it but as Perse tried to move onto it, a hiss escaped her as pain shot through her ribs.
Immediately he cottoned on, “Persephone where else are you hurt?” he questioned with a growl his eyes demanding an answer.
“Its just my ribs, I must have banged them.” she replied weakly feeling incredibly silly that she had been so easily caught out.
His hands reached for her. “I am fine Samir!” she said embarrassed as she realised what he was about to do.
His lips pursed and he glared at her, completely at odds with the way he gently settled her down so she lay on the blanket, he rolled up her top to have a look. It was obvious that she had landed quite painfully on her left side, her ribs looked red and sore. He gently let his fingers feel them, watching her face closely, he saw she bit down her lip in pain in a few spots.
“I cant feel if anything is broken, though it will be best if we get it checked properly by a doctor when we get back.” he said “Why did you hide this from me?” he scowled at her, pulling down her top, covering her carefully.
“What could you do about it anyway at the moment?” she muttered, lying back and looking up at the incredible vast open sky above them “No point worrying you.”
His expression unfathomable, “You let me be the judge of that!” he said, settling down next to her on the blanket.
Perse glared at him, he really did have an attitude problem, why was he scowling now she wondered, it must be in his genes she thought. She ignored him for the moment as the colours of the sands mesmerised her.
His mind was on why the engines had failed. This morning when he had done his usual flight checks he had been most thorough, he also had a local maintenance engineer check it, who had also agreed that Piper was in top shape. So what had gone wrong he wondered.
Could someone have tampered with it? But who and why? Coming back here, he had caused many waves he knew, but would anyone go to these lengths to make him go away? Throwing such absurd thoughts out of his mind, he decided that he was going to get it checked top to bottom when he got it back to its hanger, maybe he had missed something. Out of all the things his father had left to him this was the only thing that he would thank him for.
He turned his head and looked down at Persephone, she was smiling up at the sky lost in some thought, her face soft and wistful.
“Persephone I am so sorry that I got you into this situation.” he said looking out onto the sand dunes his face grim. She could have been very badly hurt or worse, the thought did not rest well in his gut.
“Samir, please don't beat yourself up about it, as you said you only flew it this morning and it had been fine, we are both uninjured and...... I can tick one more thing off my list of things to do before I die, which I never thought I would manage but you have managed it for me.”
“Which is?” he asked, his voice like melted chocolate looking down at her.
“I have always wanted to spend a night in the desert with a Maharajah.” she joked teasing him, her eyes deep blue pools of laughter.
Something in his heart softened at her words, she was exceptionally beautiful inside and out.
“The desert is so beautiful!” Perse sighed , the darkness was engulfing them rapidly, but there was still a clear strip in the distance where the light glimmered, the setting sun cast incredibly fantastic colours over the sand dunes making them into a wondrous site.
“Yes.” Samir agreed, laying back on the blanket next to her, cradling his head with his arms behind his head. “ Beautiful and dangerous.”
Perse laughed softly, looking sideways at him “You make her sound like a character from Greek mythology.”
“Hmm.. I was wondering why Persephone? I remember you saying your father is Indian.” He quizzed curiously.
Perse grinned. “Yes, he is a Professor of Classics at Oxford and my mother too was a Professor of Philosophy at Oxford, I was born on the first day of spring and thus they decided on Persephone, although I did question their choice much later when I learned that Persephone was kidnapped by Hades the god of the underworld.”
Samir turned, balancing his head on his arm and looked down at her, “Hmm they chose well, you are the bringer of spring, you bring sunshine where there is darkness” he said softly, unable to help himself from tracing a gentle finger down her cheek.
A long ragged sigh escaped her, as she saw the look in his eyes, his tangy spicy scent washed over her.
“It would be most tempting to kidnap you and hide you away.” he replied smiling that devastating smile of his down at her, “Most tempting.”
He noticed her eyes had turned almost violet at his words, as she looked up at him, he wondered if they would turn even darker in the throes of passion in his arms. Softly he brushed aside a stray wisp of hair from her face, he felt a tremor run through her.
“Are you cold?” he whispered, looking down at her, the darkness was engulfing them gradually casting long shadows across them.
“No.” she sighed back, her voice soft as a breeze, in fact she was just feeling quite the opposite Perse thought, she was near meltdown.
Once again they had been thrown together in a situation which had become intimate and highly charged, under a night sky which sparkled with stars. She became lost in his dark eyes as he continued to just look down at her, his eyes dark and unfathomable.
Somewhere in the Palace..........
By now Samir would no longer be a problem, heaving a sigh of relief they smiled and carried on chatting with their guests.
© Jane Meme Copyright 27.02.2012