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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Chapter 20 - Family Faux

Dear Readers

Thank you for being patient as I spent the last week with house guests and visits from "real" life wala friends. Hope you enjoy this installment.
You better leave those pictures alone or you die. You are nothing but a bastard and a piece of shit!

Shyam had barely finished texting the message to Khushi when his phone whirred into action.

Shit! The last thing I want is more drama tonite.

He cut the call and continued pacing his private suite in the club. The club security was alerted of the intruders and the bouncers were being questioned for the security breach. None of this was of any comfort to Shyam, who had lost any hope of ever becoming the next Surgeon General, if the stupid bitch revealed those photographs. 

His phone whirred once, indicating a text.

Leave me and my family alone. You will never hear from me.

He exhaled in relief. He knew Khushi like the back of his hands and banked on it. Now, he had the onerous task of finding a convenient trophy wife who would agree to be a wallflower and clear his path.This time his room phone rang and he picked up the call, assuming it was from the club managers, calling to apologize for the interruption to his “service”.

“You bastard! You are freaking enjoying Club Med while I am stewing here at home. Didn’t you promise to take me out tonite? Now that Khushi broke off the engagement, what’s stopping you?”

He grimaced at another annoyance that had grown from an irritating blister to a full blow gaping ulcer. He shouted back with equal fervor at the caller.

“Don’t you dare! You have no idea who I am and what I can do. So stay away from me. This thing that you and I have, let me tell you once and for all. Its over. Do you want me to spell it for you? Its O.V.E.R! Do you understand, bitch?” he slammed the phone down and pulled out the cable from the jack in fury.

He pushed his hair back to relieve the tension and drank a glass of water. It was in the coming for a long time and he was glad that both episodes were over. Now he just needed to find a willing and compliant ally who would neatly fit into his scheme of things while he went forth with his nomination.

Payal threw her phone with such force that it hit the wall and broke into smithereens.
“Argh! The bastard! Who does he think he is? For one freaking year, he strung me along. This is not the end Shyam, this is definitely not the end. Payal is not Khushi, Payal does not take things lying down. I will show you what you are dealing with here.”

Payal felt an insurmountable sense of anger and frustration build inside her. Since the day she had found out about Khushi’s ancestry, she knew she had to find a way to benefit from it. She had almost stumbled upon the mafia through her Russian boyfriend in college. On second thoughts, she figured the Russian guy had sought her out because she was Khushi’s sister. She needed money to splurge on her extravagant lifestyle, money that had nothing to do with Khushi’s kitty purse. Borrowing constantly from Khushi’s account had become a sore spot for her. The Russian boyfriend connected her to Noam.

This was much better. She could spend on anything she wanted and as long as she kept the stream of information to mafia, more money came her way. She was promised that Khushi’s life was not in any danger, the mafia just needed information on her.

At first she was scared of Noam. As she provided more and more information to them, they struck an uncomfortable truce of give and take. She gave information and she took money. The amount depended on the value of information. When she had been unable to reach Khushi during the protective custody, Noam had threatened her and then carried it out by killing Chameli, just for the heck of it. She knew she’d probably never feel much for Khushi but when Khushi was attacked in her apartment, it had scared the daylights out of her. She simply didn’t want to have anything to do with.

Payal needed the money but more than that she needed Shyam. In the months Khushi had been engaged to him, Payal had felt a strong attraction to him and he had encouraged it. Shyam had promised to break his engagement as soon as things settled for Khushi. She needed to speak to Shyam and find out where Khushi was. She needed money.

She kicked her dresser in frustration. She didn’t know what transpired in the last few days but the calls from Noam had stopped coming and so did the money. She wanted to rake through the mess and find something useful for money in return. She had hesitated asking Shyam for money because she cared for him in a sick and convoluted way, like she had never cared for anyone in her life. But that bastard was a victim of his own perversions. She had harbored a remote hope of making him like her and choose her over Khushi. She truly loved him in her wicked heart but now, he was driving her away. He needed to be taught a lesson, just like Khushi did.

She yanked the drawer of her dresser and fumbled under the drawer. A small secret compartment popped open. She pulled out another phone from the compartment and speed dialed number 1.

“Hello. This better be good.”
“She’t not here and and she’s not with Shyam. I tried her apartment and I don’t think she’s there either. You might want to try that FBI agent, Raizada. And by the way, I want Shyam destroyed.”
“Your revenge is not our priority. I thank you for the information but we are done here. Your last payment will be sent to the usual spot. We are through. Good night.” The accented voice was curt and to the point.

She felt the air sucked out of her. She was useless to them.


Khushi switched off her phone after the last text to Shyam. It felt good to wield power over him for a change, a change of equation she was relishing with flourish. ASR was pleasantly surprised at her buoyant mood and chirpiness all the way to his apartment.
“Khushi, we need to talk about your Swiss bank account.” He decided to cross off the next item on his to do list – NK.
“Oh! Not tonite, ASR! Let me savor my freedom. Do you know how good it feels? Oh man! I was such an idiot! I let that perverted son of a bitch do this to me for a full fucking year! But its good, it’s all good now” she shook her head in disbelief and sheer relief.

ASR parked the car on the street. Khushi got out laughing and hop skipping like a kid. She bent and took a handful of snow, made a ball of it and hurled it on him. The cold snow surprised him but he was close on heels returning the favor. The snow fight continued with laughter and merry as the dim dawn lights skimmed the borders of the sky. They reached the front door of his building.

ASR opened the door. Khushi stood at the entrance with a wide smile and gleaming eyes. ASR didn’t say a word. He scooped her into his arms and shut the door with his foot. She chuckled in anticipation.

“Hot chocolate?’ she asked innocently, knowing that was the last thing on his mind.
“I have a better idea.” He responded, his voice audibly more gruff.
“Alright then, do tell.” She asked, her lips trembling to break into a smile.
“I’d rather show than tell.” He was playing along the sexual banter.

He lowered her on the bedroom floor. She stood watching him take off her jacket and then his. The restrain was broken immediately, when she held his face and rose on her toes to kiss him.

He reacted with such force, it drove the wind out of her lungs. Their lips and tongues sought warmth, comfort and assurance, tangling and coupling in open lust. He pulled away to catch his breath and almost ripped her dress apart, as he lifted it over head. She matched it with her own desperate fingers unbuttoning his shirt and shoving them under the garment to feel his warm skin. They kissed again as hands grabbed more clothing off of each other. He laid a trail of kisses around her jaws and moved down to kiss her chest. She threw her head back, threading her fingers through his thick black hair.

He breathed into her valley, ready to devour her any second. He inhaled in her perfume deeply and peered into her eyes as he rose and stood up. He had to say it.

“Dr. Khushi Gupta, you have no fucking idea what you do to me. I want to love you and love you till night ends and day starts. I want to love you every day of my life, feel your strawberry perfume on my skin every morning. I want to protect you, feel your warmth and comfort.” He laughed nervously and then his caramel eyes turned dark. He pulled her closer to him and sniffed along her neck. 

Khushi found that erotic, reminding her of her obsession to Vampire lore. She clutched his shoulders, yielding and pliable, giving him access to her neck.

“ And this neck of yours, Khushi, its mine. I want all of it.” He was shocked at his own admission. He had done it. Without saying the actual precious little words ‘I love you’, he had told her how much she meant to him.

A few moments ticked by. Khushi closed her eyes, ready to feel her man, his raw sexuality and his forceful passion. Suddenly, the face of the dead man flashed before her eyes, followed by Shyam’s nakedness and gluttony in the club. The words “You’re a bastard, Khushi” whirred in her ears in a deafening echo. The day’s exhaustion and overload of information took its toll on her. Her knees weakened and she collapsed into his arms.

“Khushi!” he growled, and held her tight. He led her to the bed and laid her down. He got her a bottle of Gatorade and some crackers to get her empty stomach settled. When she was finally able to sit up, she knew she could not do this to him. She knew her destiny lay with those Sabres and until she found out everything there was to know about them, she would never be ready to give all of her herself to ASR.

“Arnav” she said in a small voice.

He got into the bed with her and pulled her to his chest. She curled up beside him, seeking his warmth.
“Yes, my love” he answered, caressing her hair.
She loved the echo of his baritone in his chest, its vibrations and authority. She sighed and continued.
“I need to know about the Sabres. I don’t know why, but I feel they are evil and I am linked to them. All those deaths of royals and their families cannot go unanswered. I need to know before…” she stopped herself short of saying before she could begin to love him. She didn’t need to say it. He understood.

“I understand. Tomorrow we will pay Kevin a visit and get the serial numbers of the Sabres. My cryptographer friends Akash and Avni should be able to help.”

“Will Kevin let you? You are off the case.” She asked.
“Kevin owes me a couple of favors, I am sure he will not be too hard on me, especially now that he has found a neat way to put a closure to the entire sordid deal.”

“Hmmm” she felt safe and after a few minutes shifting to fit close to him, they both fell asleep. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Chapter 19 - Standard Deviants

Dear Readers

Warning - this chapter has disturbing content. Please use your discretion and do not read if explicit and deviant sexual acts bothers you.

“Khushi?” ASR spoke after several moments of relishing her in his arms.
“Mmmm” she mumbled against his goose pimpled skin as she snuggled closer, feeling his skin and smattering of hair on her cheek.

Comfort food, she thought.

She circled him and ran her fingers on his back, without noticing the effect it was having on him. He crushed her closer and she welcomed the tightness closing around her.

“Mmm, this feels good.” She noted satisfied. He kissed the top of her head and breathed in to steady his wildly beating pulse. It was impossible to keep his thoughts straight knowing he could simply lift her to his bed and ravage her, willingly, lovingly and eagerly.

“Khushi, I'm sorry.” 

"For what?" she asked looking into his eyes.

"For leaving your house like that. I wish I had explained everything." 

"Mmmm." she simply said without asking for further explanations.

"Khushi...we've got a lot to do."He hated the reminder.

“Yep, ok….” She withdrew and lowered her head in slight embarrassment of the naked expression of her need for him. He lifted her chin and smiled. She blinked and smiled back, reassured by the honesty on his face.

“Don’t you want to know why they pull off the security detail at your house?” he asked.

She nodded. He held her arm gently and took off her coat and hat. He made her comfortable in his living room and got himself a sweater before he froze to death. A pot of coffee later, the two snuggled in the living sofa and ASR recounted the events of the day. Khushi listened to every word with rapt attention.

He concluded, “The question, Khushi, is this – what is the motive? Why did the men chase the Sabres if all they wanted was to sell them in the black market? And the Sabres are not really antiques. Although they are worth some money, they definitely are not worth the number of murders laying in their wake. So what is the motive?”

Khushi took a sip of her coffee and her brows knitted thinking about the last 15 days that had turned her life upside down starting with the murder of the man in her apartment. She shuddered to think it was all over, it seemed too simple.
“What does Kevin think?” she asked

“Kevin believes the men were acting alone, kind of like a splinter group from the main brotherhood of mafia. Their confession all but absolves everyone but them. It’s hard for me to believe that the Jewish mafia would allow a splinter group to thrive and that the group will have the kind of reach these men had to all the royal families.” ASR exhaled and stretched on the sofa, his mind stormed with questions.

She wanted to reach out and caress his thick dark hair, to erase the worry lines creasing his forehead, to kiss him. But she knew there was no time to lose. Her entire existence lay in question and if indeed the case was cracked, it meant she was free.

“What now?” she asked, almost afraid, in an ironic sense, that it was all over.
“It’s not over.” He responded, as if in answer to her question, almost driving her to relief that they could still legitimately spend time together.
“You are off the case. They plan to close the case. What is left to do?” she needed further assurance.

“Well” he stood up and stretched, not a man to sit idle for long hours.
“For one, I need to find out what’s with Shyam. And then I need to have a conversation with NK. And then we meet Kevin and my cryptographer friends Avni and Akash in University of Chicago.” He made mental notes looking out of the window.

“Wow! Looks like we have our work cut out for us! Why Shyam?” she asked, standing up and placing her coffee on the table.

“Don’t you want to know why he got engaged to you? I understand your motives but I still don’t get his.” He turned to face her and cocked his head, curiosity writ on his face.
She folded her arms across her chest in defiance to the thoughts of Shyam and reacted, “I think he wanted to look good. A docile, pliable fiancĂ©e, an upcoming career that is sure to win him the Surgeon Generalship of the state of Illinois. He just wanted to look good.” She convinced herself of the truth of her conjecture.

“Wait…he is vying for the office of Surgeon General?” he asked.
“Yes, he was planning to put in his nomination papers. He has the complete support of the Northwestern community and he is connected with the local congressman and Senators. His confirmation is all but given.” She waved her hand as if it was a natural thing to happen.

“Bingo! That’s it then!” ASR began pacing his room in excited paces, “He is creating an image of perfection with you in it. I mean look at you, you come from a perfect family.”
Khushi sniggered and shook her head.

“No, no, think about it. No one knows about you being a princess.”
She snorted louder and held out her palms to stop, “Stop ASR, please don’t remind me of my princely status. Bastard is more like it.”

“Come on, Khushi. Stay with me for a minute. I mean Shyam wants to look perfect. He has everything going for him. He finds out about your dad and then he makes his move on you and uses blackmail to get engaged to you. Why would he do that? Why jeopardize his future with blackmailing you when he can simply not be engaged to you?” he paced a few more times while Khushi pulled her hair up and tied it in a pony tail, getting ready for some cerebral tasks.

“Unless…unless he has something bigger he needs to hide.” He stopped in his tracks and rubbed his chin, he asked again, “Was there anything about him that struck you as odd?”

Khushi shook her head. He looked disappointed.
“Wait a minute. Of course, how stupid of me.” She smacked her forehead.
“What? What is it?” he was dying of impatience.
“He never wanted to have sex with me.” She blurted out and instantly regretted her choice of words.

ASR’s face was awash in relief followed by incredulity.

“Now, that is odd.” He smirked.
“It is, isn’t it? We never crossed that far, even after our third date, even after he proposed to me, even before he blackmailed me. And during our early months every time I tried to get closer, he always had an excuse. And you know what, if I am not mistaken he never had a girl friend before me.” She was a fountain of information suddenly.
“Nah-uh. Never. He was sought after but never got into a relationship, not even a casual one. And now that I think about it, there were even rumors that he might be, you know..” she hesitated to continue.

“Impotent?” ASR raised his brow, attempting to help.
“No!” she exclaimed.
“Deviant? That begs further investigation.”

She was about to turn to the kitchen when he grabbed her arm and pulled her to him. She slammed to his chest and blurted out.

“What are you doing?” she asked and realized it was a stupid question. He was smiling a wicked grin and without further ado, he claimed her mouth. She welcomed it by snaking her arms around his neck and arching back to feel his entire muscled mass against her.

A few minutes passed as the kiss deepened and tongues explored anew. Breathless, both of them released each other and caught their breaths, resting their foreheads on each other.
“I….I am sorry, Khushi, I just couldn’t help…”he began.
“Shut up and kiss me again.” She ordered with a naughty smile. Another kiss followed as the two stood entwined in his living room, feeling each other and giving as much as taking comfort in each others’ arms.

He showered kisses on the tip of her nose, eyes and jawline before nuzzling her neck in sheer need to devour every inch of her. He pulled back by force.
“We need to stop. We have a lot to do.” He held her face in his palms and implored with earnestness.
She nodded and liked the sound of how he said “we” instead of “I”. They were a team.

The plan was set. They began with Shyam at Khushi’s behest. She wanted that chapter out and done before she could figure out what to do. ASR had a pattern of Shyam’s activities in his file and he figured, this being Christmas and the fact that Shyam was out of Khushi’s house, he must have other plans.

They two staked out in the street outside Shyam’s mansion for good hour. They spoke little, both were afraid of betraying the nervous energy and palpable attraction they felt, that could ruin their chase. An hour later, Shyam’s garage door opened.

ASR watched the man get out of the large mansion in his flamboyant car. Khushi cringed at the sight and squeezed ASRs hand that she was holding in a death grip. ASR put his car in gear and cruised behind Shyam's car. The travesty of a car was a misfit even in the plush neighborhood just as the man driving it.

The two cars went one after the other into the throng of friday traffic. To ASR's surprise, Shyam's car turned into the posh clubbing district of downtown, peppered with tony pubs, bars, and dance clubs. Khushi's eyes widened as she took in the hints of hedonistic pleasures of the night promised by the exclusive and secretive clubs of the area. ASR's heart went out to her at the obvious surprise in her face and he realized Khushi had no inkling that Shyam had a side to him.

His car pulled into an expansive entrance of a majestic club as a valet stood at service. Shyam got out of the car with all the elegance of a panther and dropped the key into the valet's waiting hands. As he entered the lobby a curvaceous figure of a woman emerged from the lobby waiting area and linked her arms into his. The two figures receded deep inside.

ASR knew the club was membership only and they had to find another way to get in. A few blocks way, they parked the car in metered parking. Khushi pulled her hat down in place and snuggled her scarf around her neck tighter. ASR held out his hands and she clasped it before the two walked towards the club.

Khushi was shivering with a mix of fear and excitement. Other than the inadvertent murder of a man, she had never done anything this covert and out of character activity in her life. ASR brought out the curious child in her and for that she was ever grateful to him. The two went to the back alley of the building where large dumpsters and heaps of black garbage bags littered the narrowed space. The two ducked behind one of the large dumpsters as the back door to the building opened and a harried looking janitor dumped few more bags onto the overflowing pile of bags. As the man left, the automatically locked back door began closing smoothly, buffered by the hydraulic hinge. ASR jack knived the opening with his foot and push it further open.

Khushi had a growing sense of foreboding. Shyam's secrets lay in this building. The question was how dirty was the secret. She was about to find out.


ASR and Khushi passed the large kitchen of the club, rousing some curious eyes among the kitchen staff. It was a busy evening and no one seemed to care enough to stop them. The two crossed into the main restaurant and passed on the edges to enter the service entrance. The pounding music filled the corridors and aisles of the club while plush carpet buffered their footsteps. They found a service elevator and got into it. The array of buttons on the elevator had them look at each other with curiosity. Lounge 7, Hedonism Bar, Floor Enigma, Voyeur’s Paradise and finally, B&G Arena. 

ASR and Khushi exchanged looks, unable to figure out which floor they should go. B&G Arena sounded weird enough to try and Khushi nodded a tacit agreement. It was lucky they had both changed to their finer duds, helping them evade undue attention. As the elevator rose up, so did Khushi’s anxiety. The club, its patrons, everything about it gave an aura of exclusivity to the point of exuding a sense of secrecy, a sinister presence sure to rock her foundation. But she felt ready for closure.

Each floor had more patrons exit than enter and finally only the two remained in the elevator. The door opened on the B&G floor to a quiet aisle with plush oriental carpet. The entrance lobby had aisle go around a circular central wall. ASR gestured to walk on side to find the entrance to the circular structure. Dull sounds of music pounded from behind the structure. Khushi clasped his hands tightly. Around the opposite end of the elevator was nondescript door.

ASR pushed the door lightly, and it opened without objection. As the two entered a very darkened room, it took their eyes a few moments to adjust. What they saw left them both gasping.

At the center of the circular structure was a grotesque sight of a man and a woman bound and gagged while three others performed heinous sexual acts on them using obscene paraphernalia. Khushi’s hand shot to cover her mouth in an effort to stop her from keeling over. ASR steadied her and whispered in to her ears muffled by the loud trance music, “Steady Khushi. We need to find Shyam.”

She took a few quick breaths to hold herself steady as the two walked among the throng gathered around the central dais where the deviants enacted a scene. Khushi averted her eyes, unable to bear the loud screams and pained cries of the actors. ASR jerked her to a stop when he spotted Shyam enter a small private booth, one among the many peppered around the stage. No one noticed the couple as the act got louder and frantic, diverting the attention of all and sundry to the stage.

ASR led the way until they reached the booth, he nudged the door open softly, leading into a small boudoir with a plush bed and more paraphernalia littered all around. Shyam was on the bed surrounded by three women engaged in various sexual acts. Khushi gasped at the sight when she noticed a saran wrap on Shyam's face, asphyxiating him as he was on the cusp of his release.

It all made sense to her now. The year of engagement with this wretched man had torn her inside, leaving her unable to have a healthy relationships until ASR came along. She wanted to make sure Shyam never returned to her life or hurt her family in any shape or form. In that moment, she found extraordinary courage, driven by self preservation and sense of righteousness. She knew what she had to do.

Khush whipped out her phone and began clicking pictures.

“Hey, who are you?” screamed a girl as the other two girls squealed and ran for cover. Shyam forgot he was almost ready to come when he sat up and stared straight into Khushi’s camera. Khushi smiled.

“That’s a really good pose. Dr. Shyam Jha!” she clicked a few more as the girls raised ruckus and Shyam scrambled from the bed. ASR pushed him back while the loud noises brought the attention of the bouncers who blocked the door to the booth.

Khushi quickly hid her phone in her purse without the notice of the bouncers. One of the large black man caught ASR by the collar and threw him out of the booth. The other clasped Khushi around her waist and lifted her off the floor and walked out.

The noise had caused enough furor on the floor that the act was stopped the other patrons covered their faces to avoid detection by intruders. Few minutes later ASR and Khushi found themselves thrown out of the building, literally, landing on their derrieres in the same alley they had used to get in. As the bouncers began to rough handle them further, ASR connected his knee to his attacker's nuts while Khushi used her fingers to poke the eyes of her attacker. It bought them enough time to get on their feet and run out into the crowded side streets, rife with Christmas revelers.

They waded through the crowds as fast as they could until they found their parked car.
“Change?” Khushi asked, hoping to feed the parking meter that had overrun its hour.

ASR laughed breathless, “Are you kidding me? Let’s go!” he pulled the car out and blended into the traffic. He checked the rear view mirror for a tense few minutes before he was assured that no one was following them.

“Well, that was interesting!” he panted.

“Holy fucking mother of shit! What the hell was that?” Khushi gushed breathlessly and began laughing hysterically.

ASR shot her a curious look, astonished at her incredible composure after the disturbing sights. He had seen it all in his line of work but her? 

Of course, she is a doctor, an ER doctor, she has seen eough gore, tough girl. 

“I can’t believe it. Shyam fucking Jha, literally fucking Jha likes asphyxiation. Look at this!!” she screamed and showed him the picture she had shot of Shyam, “Can you believe that? He is not freaking hurting me and my family ever! Bastard, the motherfucking son of a bitch!” she was half hysterical, half laughing and mostly jubilant.

“You want to save some cuss words for later?” He chuckled, enamored by her potty mouth, which he found strangely endearing.

“Fuck No! I am free, Arnav. Can’t you see that? I am free, finally! I have nothing to fear.” She threw her head back and laughed a good belly laugh before she leaned towards him and kissed him on his cheek.

“Careful missy, I am driving.” He laughed.

She sat back and breathed in many times, calming her nerves. She didn't have to feel guilty breaking her engagement to Shyam. He could never hurt her again.

“Arnav.” She turned her head and looked at him, “I am free.”

He liked the sound of it and Christmas was still not over.