Chapter Fifty One - Pallavi and Mansi

Pallavi had not known what to expect from the day she had just spent with Manish; but this was not definitely it. She had never thought that she would love spending time with him.
The anger she had felt towards Manish earlier in the day when he had emptied into her and fantasized about Mansi was long gone. It seemed like ages ago. What surprised her was that the anger was replaced with liking. Was she betraying Mansi by ignoring the fact that Manish had fantasized about her? She did not want to think about it; neither did she want to think about the fact that the day was coming to an end.

She did not fail to notice that during their time together; Manish had missed a few calls and that made her feel special; not only the fact that he ignored the calls and gave her the attention but also that he ignored the calls of Mansi. Why was she calling him? She remembered how Manish and Mansi had been staring at each other when she had opened her eyes; it was not long ago. She felt the serpent of jealousy rising its ugly head. Was it going to destroy her friendship with Mansi? Was Manish even worth the conflict with the only friend she had in town? The questions constantly hammering her head made it impossible for her to think about what next. What was she supposed to do when Manish let her go? He had said that he would like to spend the day with her if she had no plans, he had not said anything about the night. It was too late for her to call her agent and ask for favours. In no way was she going to attend yet another party. She was done with parties. No more parties for her even if they paid twice of what she earned one-to-one or one-on-one.

The chaos in her mind had started to give her a headache. She did not want the wonderful day to end this way. She did not want the wonderful day to end. Period. She wanted it to be memorable – to culminate it into something special; even if it was for one time – just one happy moment out of her otherwise crappy life. She had already spent the entire day with him for free; and she was ready to spend the night with him, if he would have her.

As if reading what was going on inside her head; Manish turned to look at her and asked her what was she going to do about the night?  The question surprised her. They had been walking together in silence for a long time. She did not know how to answer that. Was she supposed to tell him the whole story as to why she was staying out and add the truth that she was hiding this part of her life from Mansi? Yet again, as if on the same wavelength, Manish said, “I know you cannot go home.” The shock evident on her face, she stood there, speechless, staring into his eyes. She had her doubts when he had given her the all-knowing smile earlier in the day; she did not want to bring back that memory so she let it slid past her.

She closed her eyes momentarily and when she opened them she had made up her mind. It did not make any sense hiding the truth from Manish, not after the special treatment he had given her.  A nagging little voice at the back of her mind kept reminding her that Manish was interested in Mansi and not her but she decided to ignore it.

“I have nowhere to go.” She said in the end and looked towards the horizon. She was surprised, yet again, when Manish held her hand in his and brought it close to his lips.

“Come with me” he said and looked into her eyes. Those mesmerising eyes made it difficult for her to breath. This could not be happening, she told herself. Even as she tried to convince herself that she did not deserve the kind of happiness she was hoping to find; she felt hope fluttering its wings inside her chest and she said yes. She was going to say yes to whatever he asked of her, she was sure of that. It had taken one day for her to change her opinion about Manish. Despite being the one to tell Mansi to stay away from Manish she, herself, had gotten so close to him that she was prepared to lose herself into him. She gave him the right to lead her wherever he wanted to; she was prepared to face the consequences, whatever they were; if it meant that she got the chance to create happy memories with Manish. The only man she had fallen in love with.

“Hello” Manish’s voice brought her out of the reverie.
“Where?” Pallavi asked. Did he intend to take her back to the hotel room? She wondered.
“Home.” Manish said and for a moment she thought he was talking about going to his house, wherever he stayed because the flat diagonal to hers belonged to the owner of the building and he was staying there to ready it for the guests of the owner’s son.
 But then he explained to her that she need not worry about being seen by Mansi, he would make sure that it did not happen. That’s when Pallavi realized he was talking about her building. He was going to take her to his boss’s flat.

“How can we go there? Pallavi asked hoping that he would read in between the lines.
“Trust me.” He said and she did. She trusted him just like that. They walked some more towards a restaurant where they had their dinner. Then, Manish hailed a cab and took her to the apartment where he showed her another way to get inside and avoid being seen by Mansi, just in case she was standing at the balcony.

He opened the door to the flat and let her slip inside. It was dark inside and Pallavi’s eyes took some time to adjust to the darkness. Manish entered after her, locked the door behind him and switched on the lights. Pallavi looked around the living room, everything inside the house screamed wealth. The way Manish moved around the house should have made her wonder how could he be so comfortable in his boss’s house. Had Mansi told her about the way he behaved as if the flat belonged to him; about how he walked to the bar and filled two glasses of wine – she would have warned Mansi that something was wrong. But when Manish unbuttoned his shirt, picked up the glasses of wine and walked towards her; all Pallavi could do was stare at his chest and think about running her hand over it. When Manish handed her the glass of wine she took a large sip. Manish held her hand and walked with her towards the couch where they sat and finished their wine.
Manish got up to get a refill and Pallavi looked at his mobile as it began to vibrate. He had kept the mobile on the centre-table and she could see the display – it was Mansi. For a moment she was tempted to disconnect the call and throw away the mobile. She had never asked for anything for herself; she had always thought about others – her family, Mansi-her friend and her clients who paid to be with her. She wanted these few moments for herself and Mansi was not giving that to her.

She did not notice that Manish had returned with the glasses and was watching her staring at his mobile. He kept the glasses on the table and picked up the mobile. She felt a weird pain inside her chest for a fleeting moment when she thought that he was about to answer the call but he simply stared at it and let it ring. When it finally stopped ringing, he switched off the mobile and kept it back on the table. Pallavi’s heart did a somersault as he sat next to her on the couch and handed her the glass of wine. Was he trying to get her drunk? She wondered. He did not need to, she thought. She did not want to be drunk when they got into bed together this time. She wanted to remember every moment of it; whatever it might be for him, for her it was going to be special. She was going to participate this time and make love to him and she would cherish it forever, even if in the end, he called out Mansi’s name as he came.

She turned to look towards Manish who was staring at her. She could feel her body trembling with anticipation as Manish moved his hand to tuck the stray strand of hair behind her ear. 

He got up from the couch and extended his hand and Pallavi put her hand into his and allowed him to lead her to the bedroom. Wordless permission for him to do with her whatever he wanted to, whichever way he wanted to.

“You take the bed; I will sleep on the couch” Manish said as he made her sit on the bed. Pallavi watched him, speechless, as he picked up a set of pillow and blanket and started to walk out of the bedroom. He turned around and Pallavi thought he had changed his mind.

“There are fresh sets of night suits for you to change into if you want.” Manish said and Pallavi remembered that she had left her duffel-bag at the party.
“I will collect your clothes tomorrow” Manish said as if reaching into her thoughts. It was amazing how he did it; how he could get into her mind and know what she was thinking. No one had ever been able to do that.

Pallavi could not hide her disappointment as Manish walked out of the bedroom leaving her sitting alone on the huge bed. She got up from the bed and opened the wardrobe. The wide range of clothes in the wardrobe stunned her. She moved her hand over the soft fabric of the men’s suits. She picked up a satin night-suit and closed the wardrobe. She stepped out of her dress and took off her bra. She did not bother to close the bedroom door. As she put on the night-suit, she realized the night was not going to go the way she had anticipated. She walked towards the door and peeked outside. In the living room, Manish had already made himself comfortable on the couch and seemed to be sleeping. She stepped back in and got in to the bed.

Despite telling herself that she would let a day slip by without calling Manish or without freaking out that something bad had happened to him; Mansi could not stop herself from calling his mobile again. She had tried a few times during the day and twice at night. The first time she had called at night the mobile had continued to ring, as it had been all the time but the second time when she called she heard a recorded message that the mobile was switched off. She was still deep in thoughts, her mobile still in her hand, when it happened.

Her mobile sprang to life. She almost dropped it on the floor. After fumbling with it for a while she checked the display. There was a new message and it was from Manish – “I am sorry; I could not receive your call for two days. Had been busy with the extra workload and boss’s guests. Even now with a special guest. I will call as soon as I can, I promise.”

Mansi felt relieved and she smiled as she replied – “Okay. Sorry for calling so many times; I was worried.”

After sending the text she wondered whether she had made a mistake by letting Manish know that she had been worried about him. She shook her head, there was nothing she could do now.

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