Chapter 24: The 10-Second Challenge
"Put a foot inside and I'm heading back to the hotel this instant!"
The previous day was enjoyable as Ranveer and Ishaani left the Circus Act with a broad smile on their faces, following which they headed towards the Titanic Exhibition. Ishaani left the exhibition enthralled while Ranveer left with a sadness evoked by the dozens of artifacts placed on stands, several of them being belongings of the people who lost their lives in the tragic incident.
They headed next towards the Bellagio Museum of Fine Arts, Ishaani putting forth the idea only because she noticed Ranveer's low spirits. The trick worked well enough and by the time they left the museum, Ranveer was considerably happy.
The current day, Ranveer and Ishaani only lounged about the hotel, sitting near the pool in the morning time while basking in the golden sun. The afternoon passed leisurely with Ranveer and Ishaani both going for the spa massage treatment.
The evening setting in, Ranveer and Ishaani set out for shopping. They managed to buy gifts for Martin, Claudine and Martha, along with several souvenirs for themselves. They were simply walking about the streets after depositing their bags in the car, when Ranveer and Ishaani came across the Onyx Theatre, having various kinds of plays going on. It was only when they sat through one of the plays did they realize that this was not a normal show, but instead dealt with adult and homosexual themes.
Ishaani left the theatre flustered and awkward. Ranveer however, had a smile plastered on his face, a satisfactory look accompanying it.
"Phew! That play was really something now, wasn't it?" Ishaani threw Ranveer a disgruntled look.
"Seriously, Ranveer? You found that interesting?"
"Oh come on, Ishaani! I can understand if you didn't like it. These shows are usually meant for men, not women. So it's obvious why you didn't like it. It was bound to happen."
"Ugh, we should have checked about it before sitting through it."
"Come now, Ishaani, its fine! Besides, I was intending on coming and watching one of these shows tonight."
"That's not even- you what?"
"Uh, slip of tongue?" Ranveer slapped himself mentally at his stupidity and Ishaani glared at him furiously.
"Oh! So this is why you took me to that spa treatment in the afternoon!"
"Ofcourse not Sunny, don't be silly now. Besides, why would I need to do all that?"
"To keep me in a good mood so that you could ask me permission for going to that show."
"Don't you dare tell me that you were going to go for it by fooling me or by lying in my face!?" Ranveer gave Ishaani a guilty look while Ishaani looked furious. "Fine! Do as you please! You see, this is why I used to hate it when you watched those kind of movies! Now because of you, even I had to sit through this!"
"Oh don't get so worked up now, Sunny! Besides, I didn't fool you or lie to you now, did I? Then why are you getting all hyper? Relax!" Ishaani narrowed her eyes at Ranveer but pursed her lips nonetheless. They walked up some alleys ahead when the two of them came to an abrupt halt in front of a night club.
Several intoxicated men left the bar while Ishaani wrinkled the nose at the smell of strong whiskey and feminine perfume alike. Both of them looks stunned for a moment as several bikini-clad girls crossed their sight, along with loud music blaring from within.
"Ranveer, is this- is this a… strip club?"
"Yeah, I think it is." Ranveer looked dazed for a couple of moments before he whispered slowly. "Ishaani, would you mind joining me here?"
Ranveer looked towards Ishaani eagerly and his smile faltered. Ishaani gave him a death glare.
"Oh come on! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity! If you want to come with me, you are more than welcome. If not, I think I'll be fine on my own."
"This is mad!"
"What's mad? This is Vegas! Obviously I want to have some fun here!" Ranveer regretted speaking this, for the next moment, Ishaani looked livid.
"Put a foot inside and I'm headed back to the hotel this instant!" Ranveer scowled at Ishaani as she gave him a defiant look.
"Fine by me!" Ranveer gave her an angry look and entered the club while Ishaani looked dumbfounded before she stormed back towards the car, parked several alleys behind.
Ranveer walked up to the reception, a worried look on his face. He returned to the hotel two hours later, only to find the suite empty. The shopping bags from earlier were sitting on the sofas in the living room, but Ishaani was nowhere to be seen. He checked her room and her wardrobe, to find her belongings intact.
He grew worried as he searched the hotel's dining areas and other recreational arenas, but in vain. As a last resort, Ranveer asked their hotel escort driver about Ishaani's whereabouts, but all the driver could enlighten him was with the fact that Ishaani had not left the premises. As a final search attempt, Ranveer walked up to the manager who was seated on the reception, the same one who greeted them on the day of their arrival.
"Mr. Kovalski, have you seen my wife around here by any chance?"
"Sir, she left the premises about an hour ago."
"Did she say where she was headed?"
"Not really sir, but she did ask me about the hotel casino."
"Where is it?"
"It's in the opposite building. We have a separate premise for the casino."
Ranveer thanked the manager and left the hotel in a hurry, praying in his heart that Ishaani was in the casino itself. Entering the casino, Ranveer looked about in stunned awe as he realized how massive the casino was. He looked about frantically and saw Ishaani at long last, sitting near the bar deck, a glass of tequila in her hand.
Running up to her, he gave her a hug before he spoke angrily.
"What is this childishness? Do you have any idea how frightened I was? And what on Earth are you doing here?" Ishaani scowled at him.
"Celebrating on my own, ofcourse! I just won $500,000 on a Hold 'Em Poker game." Ranveer gave her a stunned look.
"Wait, did you just gamble?"
"Yeah, I did." Ranveer gave her a disappointed look.
"Ishaani, you know how strict Mota Babuji was when it came to gambling. Even I'm dead against it."
"Papa was against a lot of other things too, but that didn't stop you now, did it? Besides, calm down honey! Don't get so worked up." Ranveer shook his head in exasperation.
"Relax! This is Vegas! Obviously I want to have fun here!" Ranveer glared at her as she gave him a jeering look.
"This is so not cool."
"You started it. And besides, when you're so engrossed in having fun on your own, why shouldn't I?"
"Ishaani, don't be such a prat. You know I would never do anything like that to hurt you."
Ishaani gave Ranveer an acid look while Ranveer glared at her in rage. Before anything could elapse further, the clinking of glasses could be heard from one side of the casino, along with a loud whooping from the crowd gathered around. Without saying anything more or acknowledging each other, both of them walked towards the large crowd, curious about its continuously multiplying size. Ranveer reached the crowd and asked one of the onlookers standing there about the cause of commotion.
"Sir, don't you know? It's the 10-second challenge, sir!"
"What is it about?"
"It's 5 shots of vodka in a row in less than 10 seconds."
"That's not possible without killing yourself or going wonky."
"That's the point of the challenge! 5 shots in 10 seconds and one million dollars in your pocket."
"One million! There has got to be a catch here!"
"Duh! But many people take the challenge for all the vodka. Nothing to lose, plus a hell lot of awesome vodka as well."
A reckless daring entering him, Ranveer walked up to the front of the circle, just as two people left from the table in the middle, one coughing while the other one walked tipsily, swearing at the top of his voice for losing the challenge by 2 seconds. The host of the game stood by the table with an amused look on his face, as the waiters were replacing the glasses with 5 shots of vodka on each side.
"So, who is up next for the 10-second challenge?" Ranveer walked up to the center, a dangerous look on his face while the host smiled.
"Excellent! And who will be challenging this young gentleman here?"
"I will." Ishaani walked over to the center of the circle, a smirk on her face. Ranveer looked at her shocked before he walked up to her and whispered angrily.
"Are you barking mad?! You can't do this! This is dangerous and the consequences could be severe!"
"Huh, if I could survive after having half a bottle of pure scotch, I'm pretty sure I'll live through this."
"Ishaani, don't do this! I won't let you!"
"Stop being such a baby! Besides, when I'm taking responsibility on my head, I don't see why you are objecting this much."
"Fine! On your head be it then."
"One more thing. If I win, I'm right and you apologize. If you win, you're right and I apologize. Deal?" Ranveer looked torn halfway between anger and confusion before a decisive look crossed his face.
"Deal. Bring it on."
The people around the circle had money passing over to the center of the table that was collected by the host in a box nearby, along with slips being handed over for their chosen side. Ranveer and Ishaani both realized that people were actually betting on them, but their rage for each other's stupidity was far more that caring about the point that people were putting stakes on them.
"On your mark, get set, GO!"
Ranveer and Ishaani took the swing from their first glass and slammed it with effect, immediately taking swigs from their second and third glass. Ishaani felt her throat on fire with effect from the vodka while Ranveer took a painful fourth swig from his glass. Ishaani felt her eyes water as she shoved the contents of the fourth glass down her throat in a hurry while she downed the fifth glass down barely before she managed to swallow the contents of the previous one. She smacked down her glass in triumph, as Ranveer smacked down his glass half a moment later, a blazing smile on her face. There was a dead silence in the crowd before the crowd erupted into a fit of the wildest whooping.
The host looked at the two of them before he coughed awkwardly and declared, keeping his stopwatch aside.
"Miss, you took 9.2 seconds. Sir, you took a 9.3. Miss, you win the jackpot." Ishaani and Ranveer both sprang up from the table in shameless joy and hugged each other heartily, their argument from before obliterated by the vodka's effects. They smiled stupidly as the host handed over the million dollar check in her hand, looking less than happy.
Making their way from the casino after 2 hours, during which they managed to cash in another $300,000 dollars from the slot machine and managed to have a hand at every single game that the casino offered, emerging victorious in majority of them, Ranveer and Ishaani managed to make their way from the hall, their speeches slurred and vision constantly doubling.
They made their way round the building, given that there were several other recreations behind the casino while they giggled and constantly chattered about anything and nothing. They were about to walk towards the next building when they collided into another couple.
"Oh we are sooo sorry." Ishaani giggled at them, constantly attempting to pull off a straight face.
"Oh no, it's alright."
"The two of you look sooo happy. What is it?" Ranveer chuckled at them while the couple gave them a knowing look.
"We just got married!"
"Oh good for yooou. Congratulations!" Ranveer gave them a happy look while he lost his balance, Ishaani catching hold of him and laughing.
"And celebraaations!" The couple laughed at their drunken tactics and made their way while Ranveer and Ishaani stared at each other, both in a dreamy bliss of alcohol and happiness.
"Is it just me, or are you that happy as well?"
"I'm veeery happy today. Happier than I've ever felt! I feel freee!" Ishaani flung her arms about vertically and swung them around in a flight mode. Ranveer watched her circling him with her making all sorts of noises to indicate that she was a plane. After a few minutes, she caught Ranveer staring at her and laughed at him while her head slumped over his shoulder. He snickered and pulled up her face so that they could see each other eye to eye.
"You are the most beautiful person I've ever met. You know that, right?"
"Yee-haw!" Ishaani gave him a dazzling look before her smiled faltered. She caught hold of his shirt, her eyes staring into his beseechingly. "I don't want to be sad anymore. I don't want to worry any more. I just want to be in your arms forever. I just want to be happy."
Ranveer looked at her for several moments, his eyes shutting every few moments and his lips quivering. Finally, managing to string his phrase clearly, he looked at Ishaani, his eyes wide in anticipation.
"Let's get married. Tell me Ishaani, will you marry me?" Ishaani gave him a dumb look before she gave him a droopy grin.
"Yes, I will."