Unabashed

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 His car screeched on to a halt right in front of the crowd that had gathered along with their cameras. The shutterbugs went crazy clicking even when all they got was the black of his tinted windows.
He was used to the limelight. It had followed him around for a few years now. He had learned that becoming a somebody came with a lot of flash light in the eyes. That was one reason why the “new brute on the list of youngest millionaires” was rarely seen without without his black aviators. They were like his mask that helped him see through the world and stopped the world from seeing through him. He had moved up on the corporate ladder faster than anyone else, using any and all means possible. His latest acquisition had created a lot of stir. No one knew how he had done it but he had made the owner of a chain of restaurants sell a very successful business to him.  That and a very public confession of love and a  proposal of  marriage from a starlet had the media in a tizzy.
Pearl saw Zeke get out of the car and push his way through the crowd, from her cabin at the hospital. The voices from behind the cameras were speaking all at once. “can you tell us what you have decided about Ms. Smith’s proposal?” said one. “Zeke have you made up your mind about getting married to Daisy Smith?” said another. ” When do we expect an invite to the wedding?” said the third. Zeke did not bother answering any one of them. He just walked with his signature smile plastered on his face.
“I am here to see Dr. Pearl” he said to the girl behind the desk, taking his shades off.
She met his eyes and lost her voice. They were the color of honey, it sent a warm feeling drizzling through her. She barely managed to point in the direction he was supposed to go in. He smiled and walked away, leaving her managing an uneven breath.
Pearl wanted to see him and didn’t want to at the same time. It had been years since they had had a conversation, barring an exchange of a few texts.
He knocked at the door that had “Dr. Pearl Charles, Head of Neurosurgery” written on it. He was so proud of what she had grown to become, all by herself. He had offered to help her out, by getting some things done his way, but she had be adamant on doing only the right things.
“Come in” he heard her say
“Good afternoon, Dr. P! I am your three o clock” He said as he entered.
“Hi Zeke” she said standing up
He hugged her tightly, locking his arms around her. She took a second before giving in completely and melting into them.
“I missed you” He whispered into her ears.
She moved away abruptly and walked back to her chair. It had been a while since she had heard that voice, saying those words.
“How have you been?” she asked
“Haven’t you been reading the tabloids?” he smirked
“I have, that is why I am asking” she said sternly, avoiding eye contact
“look at me when you talk to me P” he said
She raised her eyes and looked at him. He couldn’t help but smile.
“tell me” she said
“She asked me to marry her” Zeke said softly
“I read” she replied
“I do not know what to say to her” he went on
She held his gaze but did not reply.
“What do you think I should?” he said
“I don’t know Zeke, its for you to decide, not me” she said looking into her phone
“would I be sitting here if it were that easy?” he said
“I don’t see the problem” she was now miffed
“The problem Dear doctor, is that I have been fighting to be who I am all my life, What’s the point of being who I am, if I can’t have the person who was worth all the fighting for” he said stubbornly
“From where I see it, the problem seems to be that you are winning the fight but losing your self” she finally looked back into his eyes.
They were earnest as they always were, staring at her as if they knew what they wanted. She missed the glint of innocence she was so used to seeing in them. She saw love, like she had always seen but chose to ignore it.
“I will never be able to love anyone else, you know that, don’t you?” he said, the first sign of frustration showing on his perfect face. “Come with me, I promise it will be worth it” he continued
“You are a dangerous man Zeke, cause you almost make me believe in the impossible” Pearl said. “You know I wont be a part of the world that you have created for yourself. You always knew this, and still chose it”
“I understand all what you have said, but what I fail to understand is that how can you fall out of love, just like that” he said
“I love you Zeke, but I love myself more” she replied staring right at his soul.
He got up and left.
The crowd that was waiting for him went crazy. The cameras went to work again, followed by the questions. “Zeke please tell us if you are marrying Daisy?”, “When is the d-day?” “when will you announce the wedding date?” He stopped walking, looked at the window where a pretty girl in a lab coat and blue jeans stood and looked at him.
“I cannot marry Daisy” he said firmly
” I love someone truly, madly and ridiculously, the only way I know how to love. She runs through my veins with blood, I do not think I will be able to love anyone like that ever again. She owns my heart, I am happy to be owned. So ladies and gentlemen I am taken” he said unabashedly and walked away.

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Of Longing and Belonging

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She sat at the centre of the table surrounded by suits. The black, blues and greys waiting patiently for her approval. A peculiar shade of brown was making a presentation. “This day could use a drink” Leah thought as she flipped through the papers on the table. It was her sixth meeting for the day, and she had already made up her mind. The room fell silent as she rose to speak.
“Gentlemen” she said, standing tall and pretty. “the contract is yours, I shall be seeing you at the welcome dinner of the tallest building on skyline of our city,  exactly a year from now”
“But ma’am” said the presenter “one year would be cutting it too thin”
“Then stop wasting time and get started” she said, picking up the papers.
All eyes were on her even when the men spoke among themselves
“You guys have a nice evening” She said as she walked out of the door.

She got into her car and typed a text to a pre set list of people. “One hour, the usual place” it read. By the time she drove out of the parking, she had five confirmation messages on her phone.
Leah drove through the city listening to music for about an hour. “The Usual Place” was where she mostly went to get a drink with friends. She pulled in, in front of the gate and handed the car to a brightly smiling valet.
“Good evening madam” he said”Good evening John” she said “Have the others come?”
“No madam”
She smiled at him and walked in a familiar looking place. It was mostly dark with dim lights breaking through evenly. Soft music played contently in the back ground. She was directed to her favourite corner by the manager. She walked through acknowledging every smile with a nod. The corner was at the farthest end of the joint. It had a complete view of the place. Leah sat on the darkest side of the high table. She could see a lot of new faces around. Fridays had the pub hopping crowd making rounds of the place. She checked her phone for updates from the people she was waiting for. “Trafucked” was emotion shared by all of them. She knew she would have to wait alone for a while so she signalled the waiter.
“Rum and coke, madam?” he said with a bright all knowing smile
“No Jo, I shall have a Cherry Martini today” she replied. He noted it in his pad and walked away.
She was celebrating the beginning of new project. Her drink was brought to her within minutes. The first sip sent a warm feeling through her. She smiled to herself, set her glass down and began what she loved to do. Watch people. She loved reading gestures and expressions. She had read and researched it extensively, which made her good at it. It had also helped her in not giving away her emotions unless necessary.

On the table across her sat a couple having an animated conversation. The girl touched the man’s arm lovingly while trying to explain something to him. Leah couldn’t hear them but from the gestures she knew that the girl would succeed in whatever she was trying.
Her gaze moved to two people walking to their table. The man had his hand on the small of the lady’s back. She moved her hand on the rim of the glass as her eyes followed them. The man was almost showing off his girl. The girl moved along as if she belonged to him.
She liked what she saw but the feeling going through her were confusing. Everyone around belonged somewhere and to someone. But Leah didn’t belong anywhere and she never really belonged to anyone. People thought she was too wonderful, too wonderful to belong to them or that something too wonderful would hurt too much to lose.
She took a big sip of her drink still lost in thought. She was a dream chaser, she chased them one at a time and transformed them into reality. She had travelled around the world doing it, so the word home did not have a permanent address for her. Her friends said she was like water, she took the shape of the glass she was poured in and fit right in. Her thoughts were interrupted by someone pulling the chair next to her.
“Crazy traffic hour” the girl said signalling the waiter, who walked to them in reflex. “Get me a long island please” she continued
“Its nice to see you Kay” Leah said shaking her head “Bad day at work?”
“Isn’t that like everyday” she replied “Unless its your work, what are we celebrating?” she asked signalling to Leah’s drink
“The beginning of Orion” Leah answered
“Orion! the tallest building in the city, with a revolving restaurant on the top,  congratulations! ” Kay smiled “I could drink to that” She raised the glass the waiter placed on the table.
They clinked glasses
“Tell me what you were thinking about when I walked in” she tapped Leah’s hand “Your observations are always fun”
Leah moved her eyes in the direction of the couple she was observing.
“I was thinking of longing and belonging” she said “Of how someone who has everything, would still yearn for just a feeling, and how it..” she stopped talking as she noticed Sam approach.
She shifted in her chair a little. She liked him and knew that he liked her back. Both of them had decided on being with each other without any commitments. It worked well for them. Both of them had jobs that took most of their time and attention, leaving little to spare for any kind of relationships. Leah loved the arrangement as much as Sam did. There were times when she missed having something more but she simple chose to ignore the feeling. There were times when the feeling was stubborn, those times, like today she just hid them behind a mask
Sam kissed her cheek and hugged Kay.
“Congratulations on the Orion babe, you make us so proud” he said holding her hand
“Thank you” she replied, wishing just a little that there was a ‘me’ instead of an ‘us’ in the statement
She felt his hand move away from hers casually as it was placed upon, as he took the chair opposite her.
“So what did I miss?” He said
“Leah was just telling me about belonging” Kay said stuffing food her in her mouth and pointing the fork the direction of the couple.
Sam looked over and saw a girl rest her head on the shoulders of the man sitting next to her.
“Belonging” He said, weighing his words “makes us vulnerable, I think”
He looked at Leah as he spoke.
“What do you say princess Leah?” he asked
Leah finished her drink, and bit on the drunk cherry.
“We all long to belong, But maybe some of us aren’t meant to belong. Some of us have to turn the world upside down and shake the hell out of it until we make our own place in it.” She said from behind her ice cold mask.

An Alluring Reverie

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Pakhi parked the car at her usual spot. She had reached work earlier than usual. The elevator ride to the top floor took about a minute. People suddenly became aware of her passing through the aisles as she walked to her cabin. She was wearing a crisp black suit and a white shirt, her hair was pulled all the way back and tied high. Smiles and morning wishes made rounds. Her assistant fumbled with the papers in her hand as she spotted her. “Good morning Ms. Singh” she said “your coffee will be ready in a minute”
She tapped her shoulders and smiled.
Her cabin was designed by her best friend. It was made perfectly to her taste. A window that overlooked the city, an antique mahogany desk on which sat her modern gadgets, glass shelves lined with books and a leather couch. All the time she wasn’t travelling for work, she spent in her cabin.
She sat on chair looking out of the window, waiting for her coffee. The sky was glowing amber. It was an early onset of summer. She had missed her city. The last couple of months had been gruelling with meeting and events around the world. She was still jet lagged from the long flight that got her home last night.
A blinking red light on her phone caught her attention. It was a text from Zeb.
“Happy birthday Grampa” it read. She smiled as she replied back to her best friend with the same words.
She looked at the picture placed on side of her table. It was of an old man with silver hair, and two girls in summer dresses kissing his cheeks. The picture was taken on one of his birthdays. The girls travelled to his house in the hills every year so they could be with him on that day. She held the picture tightly as she thought of the house they spent their summers in. It was old as it was large. It looked like a Swiss chalet hidden in trees. The meadow at the back of it, was where they had spent endless afternoons chasing butterflies and listening to wind blowing through the grass. It was also where the old dog Mr.Rumpelstiltskin would chase them all day, then they would lie on the terrace all night making up shapes of the stars and share alien stories.
She sighed as she drifted back to the days she missed the most. Somewhere in between listening to Grampa’s stories and reading to him they had grown up. Mr. Rumpelstiltskin was buried in the meadow after a service they had held for him. The late night stargazing sessions ended in discussing crushes and romances. One summer after college Zeb had re decorated the house with Grampa’s help. The project had helped her get into one of the top design institute of the world. It had made him so proud. Pakhi remembered sitting on the ledge of the window that faced the forest in the front of the house. That was where she had written her first book. She was now a famous author and head of a department at a leading publication houses. Both the girls were living the dreams they had shared sitting over branches in the woods. The chase had taken them away from the place it all began. Pakhi missed the carefree days spent there, of reading in the shade while they wind played with her hair. She craved the sunshine that filtered through her straw hat on to her face.
Her reverie was interrupted by the knock on the door. Her assistant ushered herself in with coffee in one hand and her schedule for the day in the other. She looked surprised as she saw her boss packing up.
“Please push forward all my meetings to after the weekend” She said as she walked out of the cabin, smiling. By the time she reached the elevator she had typed a message to Zeb “Picking you up in 30” it said.
Even though the house was just a couple of hours away from the city, the girls hadn’t been there since Grampa had passed away. After what seemed like forever they stood there, looking at it glow on a hot summer afternoon, more alluring than it ever was. They took off their heels and walked bare feet onto the grass that lead to the back of the house. The branch they sat on and made plans of the future, stood exactly where it was. They sat on it reminiscing the times that made them what they are. Pakhi let her hair fall to her back as she shut her eyes, soaking it all in. She felt a tickle in her ear which made her open her eyes in a hurry. Zeb was holding a blade of grass in her hand and grinning.
“Dear Ms. Bestseller, heres to inform you that the last one to reach the house makes dinner” She said and started running towards the house. Pakhi smiled as she began chasing her.
They were finally home.

Pretty Little Secret

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His favourite mornings began with a message from her. Even the harmless “good morning” jump started his day with a smile. On days she didn’t message, everything seemed wrong with the world.  He had known her for a short while but it seemed like an eternity. They had become good friends over a period of time. He watched her work her way through the day, hiding is stares between causal conversations. He hoped his eyes didn’t betray him and give away what he had been hiding.
He saw her through the window. She was impatiently looking into her phone. She was waiting for him. All he wanted to do was sweep her off her feet and take her in his arms. Instead he stood at a distance, watching her. Stealing a moment as he filled his eyes with images of her.
He wished he could tuck the errant strand of hair that kept troubling her. He wished he could freeze the smile that curved on her lips. He wished he could kiss her forehead, and wipe all her worries away. He wished to be the reason of her happiness. He wished he could tell her what she meant to him.
He sighed as he walked up to her.
She smiled as she saw him, his heart skipped a beat. She was complaining about him being late, but he couldn’t take his off her earring that kept kissing her cheek. He cleared his throat and apologised. She kept talking, telling him everything that happened along with everything that could have happened, questioning him with her big eyes when he didn’t respond. He shook his head and replied to her. The sun kept crawling to meet the western horizon as their chats went on, then it was the the time of the day he hated the most. Time for her to go back into her world, and for him to come back into his.
They would spend the whole day talking yet he would miss her when she was gone. He would look at her pictures when she wasn’t there, making him feel her presence around him. He would replay the stories she would tell him, imagining himself with her in them. He would wait all night for it to be morning, just so he could see her again. She was the last thought in his mind before he slept and the first after he woke up. He wondered if she thought of him sometimes the way he thought of her. He wondered is she would let him do, all that he wanted to.
She was pretty and she was smart, she was perfect like a piece of art. She was everything a girl should be. The only thing she wasn’t was that, she wasn’t his.
“Why am I afraid to lose you, when you aren’t even mine” he thought aloud.
The thought troubled him for a bit, but he pushed it away. He didn’t care who she belonged to, cause no one could take her thoughts away from him.
She was and would always be his pretty little secret.

Red and Black

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Sam had waited very long for a day like today. He sat working frantically at his desk, finishing things so he could leave. He wanted to do everything to make it an unforgettable evening for Layla. They had started dating a few months back. Sam had taken her on dreamy dates almost every weekend. They had gone on long drives into the wilderness a few times. Walked on beaches till they got tired, then lazed there till the sun set.

It was surprising at first then it got unnerving that even when they spent amazing days together, Layla never agreed to spend the night. She would always have an excuse which would lead her home soon after sun down. He had asked her the reason a few times but her answers never satisfied him completely.

“Some day you will know” was her favorite answer.

A hundred theories had crossed Sam’s mind on why she behaved the way she did. From moonlighting as a stripper to being an undercover agent, he had thought of everything. None of them made sense. Layla was was a pretty looking girl, who taught in a school for a living. Loved to go shopping and watch movies. Her favorite color was red, and she did not like ice cream. She had a normal life. There was nothing that said anything different about her, yet there was something about her that muddled him.

His misery was put to end suddenly when out of the blue Layla agreed to have dinner with him at his place. Crimson roses were placed on the table next to the bowl of drunken strawberries. The sheets were changed to black satin and the lights were dimmed. The Bordeaux was chilled. He was cooking her favorite spaghetti in marinara sauce while he waited for her.

She kissed him on his neck at the door. From the instant she walked through the door, he could not take his eyes off her. She was dressed to kill. He had never seen her like that. The black dress made her look sensual, the heels added to the effect. Her eyes looked different too. The plain Jane girl he knew was transformed into a tantalizing  woman. He wasn’t complaining.

She placed the bag she was carrying on the table, leaned against it, put a strawberry from the bowl in her mouth and asked, “How long before dinner is ready? in an unusually commanding voice.

Her boldness intrigued him. The stark contrast between day and night baffled him.

“Almost ready” he managed to reply “Are you hungry?”

“Very” she said as she pulled the handcuffs out of her bag and walked towards him.

Cross posted from the http://dailybluepill.com/

A Cabin in the Woods

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Arjun was having a regular day at work, long meetings, frantic calls, managing his team, making good for the mistakes they made at the same time stopping them from making new ones. He had done this for more than half a day, everyday for a long time. He had gone from having trouble buying his first tie to having a collection of the best ones in a short time.

His phone buzzed again, he looked at it while answering an email. “S calling” it said. He rejected the call. “will call her back” he made a mental note and continued with his mail. It took him less than a minute to forget all about it. Somewhere between discussing the final quotes for one of the overseas deal and ordering pizza for dinner his phone buzzed again. It was a message from S, “I have reached, what time do you land?”
“will take the last flight out, don’t wait up” He replied hurriedly.

A thousand miles away, Seher stood holding her coffee and looking out into nowhere. She was startled when her phone buzzed. The silence was too loud for her city ears. She read the message and smiled.

She picked up her book and walked out into the porch.

She didn’t mind being alone in the house. She loved every corner of it. It was far away from civilization, tucked into the forest. It was very tastefully decorated. The hall had book shelves all around with books neatly placed in them. The walls were lined with framed pictures that Arjun clicked. The kitchen was a small modern unit, with everything they needed. The bedroom had large windows, with white drapes on it. The bed took most of the place in the center of the room. On the wall behind the bed hung a picture titled “Seher”. It was one of the pictures Arjun was particularly fond of. He had captured the sunlight kissing her bare back at dawn.

They had first come to the place with friends from college, fell in love with it and continued to do so at every chance they got. They had bought the place a couple of years ago. The owner of the house was surprised at the unusual transaction. The deed was made in the name of two separate individuals. They weren’t related, dating, or even planning to get married. They even saw other people once a while. They worked and lived in different cities, spoke to each other when they got the time. They did not profess love for each other or claim togetherness for eternity.
They were just together.

It was 3 am by the time Arjun parked the car into the garage. He loved the chill that he felt as he dragged his bag into the doorway. He opened the door as silently as he could and locked it behind him.
The house smelled of Seher. He saw her lipstick mark on the coffee mug next to the sink, her jacket on the chair, her book on the counter. He couldn’t wait to see her. He climbed up the stairs taking his jacket off, then unbuttoning his shirt. He stood at the door looking at her sleep peacefully. He took his shirt off, slipped into bed from behind and put his arm around her.

She snuggled into it without opening her eyes.
“I missed you” he said
“I missed you too” she mumbled as he kissed her.

The cabin was the place where Arjun and Seher met once a year. They stole time from their schedules and lived a lifetime in seven days of togetherness.  They then went back into their worlds, only to come back again, the following year.

Cross posted from http://dailybluepill.com/

The Girl Who Could Not Forget

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Lara sat at her desk engrossed in the research papers she was reading. It had been four hours since she had spoken a word. She liked the silence. It was in stark contrast of noise in her head. She looked up as someone knocked on the door
“Sid” she thought

“Hey! You looks like you haven’t moved an inch since I left” He said rubbing his hands
“I’ve been writing the paper, that I have to present” She replied
“You are working too hard, doctor. You are going to be awesome as always” he said
“Its finally snowing” He said sitting on a chair across her “I think the winters have been delayed this year”
“by three days” she said, still looking at the papers in her hand.
“huh” he smirked
Sid was a little surprised by the precise answer, but with Lara he was getting used to it. He gave her a long look.
She was a pretty girl, prettier than she gave herself credit for. Her eyes were a perfect shade of hazel, which peeped out through the thick black framed glasses. Her lips were aptly luscious, they were never left alone by her teeth which kept nibbling on them. Her hair were long and wavy, always pulled back in a pony tail.
She was wearing a red sweater, which curved beautifully along the body it was placed on. It cast a scarlet refection on her ivory skin. Her white lab coat was the only thing that was amiss.
He hurriedly looked away as she caught him staring.
“Where were you on the first day of snow last year” he blurted out awkwardly
“At the lab” she said
“That was an easy one” he continued
“Yes” she said looking away
What she didn’t tell him was that she also remembered exactly what she did that day in all details. She could even visualize the calculations she had done on the micro-tron. She was used to withholding information. She had been instructed to do so as a kid and followed them diligently.
“Are you ready to go home yet?” Sid asked, bringing her back to the present.
“A few of these need my attention” she replied pointing at the papers
“Something else also does” Sid said pointing at himself
She looked at him and smiled for a instant and then looked away.
“Go home, Sid” she said “Don’t forget to pick that suit up from the cleaner”
“I had completely forgotten about it” Sid exclaimed “you always remember, don’t you?”
“I never forget” she said blankly.

Lara had known there was something different about her, while she was in school. When kids her age had difficulty memorizing things, it was surprisingly easy for her. She gradually realized that it wasn’t just academics that she remembered, but almost everything she saw, read or even heard. She even remembered all her dreams.
She had asked her dad about her condition once. He had told her she was special and made her promise she wouldn’t tell anyone about it. He had also told her that he would explain things to her when she grew up. His untimely death in an accident had left Lara alone with the terrifying memories, and a lot of unanswered questions.
Lara had aways thought her dad knew something about her that she didn’t, and was adamant to find out.
As she grew up her brain became a graveyard of information and memories.

By the time she reached home it was past midnight. She put the pasta from last night into the microwave as she changed into her pj’s. She took her dinner to the bed, which she shared with her laptop. The email icon was glowing. She checked it as she put the first bite of food into her mouth. It was the confirmation of her slot at the World Genetics Convention. She was presenting a paper at there the next morning. She set an alarm on the phone and an auto reminder to call Sid in the morning and switched off the lights before losing herself to sleep.

The auditorium where the WGC was being held was filled with who’s who of the science world. Lara was just nervous enough as she got on to the stage.
Sid beamed as his lady in the black dress began to talk.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, My name is Doctor Lara Kapoor and I am here to tell you a theory on Artificial Genetic Mutation of the Fetus.”
There was pin drop silence in the hall as she continued to speak for an hour on how a fetus could be genetically modified to make desired changes.  She spoke without looking into the papers in her hand or even at the slides. The expressions on peoples faces changed as she revealed data and showed possibilities.

It was time for the Q and A session. She pointed at the lady in the front row  who seemed eager to ask something
“Your theory sounds possible, but its not backed up with the case study, therefore questions about its practicality arise.” the lady said
A tiny smile perched itself on her face as she replied
“A detailed case study has been done on it. The experiment was conducted thirty years ago under the guidance of Dr. Ravi Kapoor, the famous Genetics scientist and my dad.” Lara replied
“He was successful in engineering a fetus as desired. He gave it a healthy body,  decided on the color of the eyes, hair and skin. He even worked on its brain to give it an above average IQ and an unfading memory. He charted it all in his papers for all the years he was alive. His detailed explanation of the experiment and the further analysis is all present in his logs.”  She answered

An elderly gentlemen next to the lady spoke into the mike.
“The existence of a Genetic mutation log by Dr. Ravi Kapoor has been speculated for years. Do you have proof that it exists?”
Lara took a moment before she replied
“It was kept a secret because the project was too personal for my father. He had planned of revealing it eventually, but his death took that opportunity away. It was such a well kept secret that it took me years just to get to it. But now I don’t have just have proof, I have the log itself” she said walking towards her laptop.

Sid shifted in his seat as he saw the screen change.

“Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you the creation and growth of the first genetically engineered individual, LARA”

Cross Posted from http://dailybluepill.com/