Zhea Stewart, the head maid of the Gupta mansion and the oldest, pursed her lips hard and bit her tongue to control the sudden swirl of emotions erupting in her chest. Her lungs heaved as she tried her best to not fall in the fits of laughter. It was almost comical the way mistress of the mansion, Mrs. Rupali Gupta was standing like a statue with shock and disbelief coating her features. She has been standing in the living room like that for the past 30 minutes, trying to pull her mind from the abyss of absolute shock.
The Gupta mansion was in chaos and lunacy danced over every second person’s head. A horde of police officers was launching on the lavish couches and filling their tummies with delicious breakfast. The breakfast in front of their eyes seemed more important than the matter at hand.
Varun Gupta was standing at the corner with a blank look. Every time his father’s eyes fell on him in suspicion, he met them with equal ferocity. There was no doubt that Ramesh Gupta was about to lose his wits.
The news of Tara’s break out has left all of them stunned and worried. It was like, the other members of the Gupta family has tasted poison. All their faces were dripping from grimace and insecurities. It took Varun seconds to understand that his cousin has not run alone but with his father’s happiness. Dread was plastered all over his face and the usual evil glint was missing from his eyes. His lips were dry and grey as if he was about to die.
Rahul Singhania, the supposed groom was pacing back and forth from the past 30 minutes. Varun feared that the stupid man would definitely create a hole or two in the velvet carpet. He sighed tiredly and slid beside his sister- Pooja, the only being of this household who doesn’t feel an ounce of worry over Tara’s breakout. In fact, she looked relieved for some reason. Varun rolled his eyes as saw her playing some dumb game on her android. He was tempted to snatch the phone from her hands and crush it into million pieces for being so ignorant but froze when his name was called.
“Varun, you and Tara were close. I suppose you must be aware of all her plans.” Ramesh Gupta asked and Varun let out an exasperated sigh. He was dreading this question since the early hours of the morning.
“Yes father, we shared a close bond but you supposed wrong. I wasn’t aware of her plans. If you’d jumped out of your high horse a year back and thought to better the security measures by fixing those screwed cameras outside the mansion, we could have caught her. Now we have no clue how she escaped or has she run away with someone.” Varun replied haughtily and all the cops turn towards Ramesh Gupta with accusatory eyes as if it was all his fault. Ramesh Gupta pinched his nose and cursed lowly. As much as he hated to confess, his son was right. He should have paid attention to the security of the mansion.
“Give us the list and contacts of her friends. We would like to start our investigation.” One of the cops instructed and Varun immediately interrupted.
“She has no friends. My father never approved of it.”
“Any boyfriends?” the cop asked again.
“Nope. She’d a bodyguard around her most of times and that made the guys at campus weary to ask her out.”
“What?” the cop asked in bewilderment and Varun nodded sadly just realizing that how Tara was literally living as a prisoner before. He hoped she finds whatever she lacked here. Freedom.
“Your girl was… I don’t know, either too clever to disclose her relationships or was living a tragically boring life. I mean, my daughter is just in high school and had already changed 5 boyfriends. It could be one of the possibilities that she had run to seek some excitement. If that’s the case then I can assure you she will return soon.” The officer explained as if he is always correct about such cases but one glare from Rahul Singhania sent him to an edge.
“We don’t need your bloody opinion. Do your job and find her. I swear I will destroy you if I don’t find her as soon as possible.” The way Rahul uttered those words made the officer jittery and Varun felt too cold to spat his disapproval. Rahul was obsessed with Tara and it was not good.
“I don’t believe this. I can’t wrap my head around this that she ran away. It’s impossible. She wasn’t courageous enough to do so. She was so timid and innocent to even step out of the threshold without my permission. Look for her Varun, she must be here somewhere doing god knows what. Tara is a quitter, not a fighter. I know her well.” Rupali Gupta finally uttered those words shakily and settled on an empty couch. Her mind failed to accept the fact that the girl who had so much fear installed in her heart, could possibly take such a big step and make an escape in the dark of night. They were talking about Tara Gupta, the naïve and innocent soul. It was too hard to take it.
“Mother, she is gone. We looked everywhere for her. Even in the basement which was locked the entire night. There’s no way she must have escaped without someone’s help.” Pooja pointed absentmindedly and this raised all the hackles of Rupali.
“I am sure that the bitch was seeing someone under our noses and ran away with the same scoundrel,” Rupali muttered aloud and Varun flinched in disgust. How could his mother even speak like that? His jaw clenched but he stayed calm for everyone to believe that fact. He will let them question Tara’s character as long as they don’t reach her.
He hoped his sister was safe wherever she was and a chuckle escaped his lips. Oh, she was definitely safe now as she has broken her cage and fled out to measure the limitless sky.
The city was in a buzz as the local tenants came out of their houses to start the daily routine. The traffic was heavy and the smoke was enough to chock the yet they prowled forward just to meet ends of their family.
Money was a big thing and they surely understand its importance. The biggest slum of Asia resides in the same city and it hard to ignore the fact that how cruel poverty could be. People in those dingy homes that even didn’t have enough space to stretch your legs does back-breaking labor in hopes of leaving the slum behind, but only if they knew how difficult that was. They could hardly earn to fill their bellies with a proper meal.
Morose settled in Vikram’s heart as he watched the degraded and neglected part of the city on its way where half of the population of the city resides. An ache appeared in his chest as his mind reeled back in time where he used to be in the same condition as them, trembling with hunger and responsibilities. It was the time after he had left the juvenile and struggled to get Akira out with him too. Despite being a noble and self-dependent man, he had begged in front of his father to help in getting Akira out of the prison. His father, who was the police commissioner agreed to help him only on one condition. Vikram must never show his face again because it was a bitter reminder of the evening they lost their lovely daughter.
Vikram scoffed thinking he would have done it anyway. Why would he go to the people who had abandoned him when he needed the most? It didn’t matter to him what the world called him but when his own parents accepted him as a criminal; Vikram had no other choice but to move on with that burden. He was just relieved that they got Akira out of that gutter in the next three months.
As the slum fell behind, he took a deep breath feeling less suffocated. His lips twitched in irritation, registering the heavy traffic and turtle speed of his car.
After a painful 30 minutes, Heart Industries came in view.
Vikram’s eyes immediately lightened and jumped out of the car ignoring the greetings of the chauffeur. His mind was fully focused over a deal of foreign investment. It was an important contract and there were many hungry sharks in the industry desiring it. There’s no way Vikram will let it slip from his hands. If he signed this deal successfully, the economic profit will be high enough to provide all his employees a Diwali bonus. They have worked the hard entire year and surely deserve rewards.
As he entered the premises of his company, the beautiful old receptionist stood up to greet him. He waved at her politely and nodded at other senior employees in the way. Reaching the elevator he pressed the button reading 21 and relaxed as a soothing tone played in the background. He paled his wildly beating heart that was jumping in excitement. Vikram has shed both blood and sweat to built his empire. Heart Industries was his greatest investment. But he would always be thankful to Mr. Azad, his mentor for keeping its first building block. That old man has helped Vikram in the times of need and had always been generous towards him and his sister.
As the elevator doors opened, he stepped out and immediately his eyes fell on the empty chair of his secretary. Giana Weasel, an employee has gone on maternity leave for the next 4 months. The doctor has advised her a bed rest as her child was too weak and the job was stressful sometimes. Vikram had immediately shown his concern by allowing the female to take a break on a full allowance. He doesn’t want any of his workers to suffer under his watch.
But that wasn’t the major issue. As she is gone, he has now realized how devoted she was towards her job. In a span of 20 days, he has changed some 5 secretaries because none was as perfect and understanding as her. All of them lacked the spirit and experience as Giana and it was a major drawback.
He needs to get a new assistant as soon as possible before the work piles up.
Getting inside the office a disappointed sigh escaped his lips on not finding a hot cup of coffee to start his day. Giana always keeps one for him. Shrugging off the jacket, he ordered a coffee by calling at reception and proceeded with the work. His dark eyes checked each document thoroughly to find possible errors and a series of profanities escaped his lips. Clenching his jaw, he ran fingers through his hairs in frustration.
This was complete garbage. He has never seen such carelessness while preparing a tender in his life. They didn’t have much time left as the date of submission was coming closer. As if someone has fired a bullet, Vikram snapped. He immediately called for the person who was looking over Giana’s work. The person was in serious trouble.
After exact five minutes, a nervous woman in her late 40’s knocked his door and stepped inside. She gulped noting the hard features of her boss and shakily adjusted the thick glasses on her nose. Few of her brown strands have escaped the elegant bun as she raced from her department to the big boss’s office.
“Yes sir,” she asked plainly and Vikram immediately threw the documents on the table. He was pissed early in the morning.
“What the hell is this, Miss Verma? Is this how am I going to run this company? If I submitted this contract this instant, the clients are going to laugh at our faces. They will make fun of me and my employees. Is that what you want or you don’t want to work here anymore. This thing is full of errors. It was the fourth time I asked you to correct the errors. I even highlighted them for your assistance. But seem like you are incapable of working here anymore. Such tardiness would not be tolerated here. Kindly pack your stuff and leave this instant.” He spat in no-nonsense tone wearing a straight face when in reality he wanted to toss those papers on her face and push her out of the building. It was such a simple job and she was failing terribly.
At his words, her lips parted in shock and eyes immediately moistened.
“But sir, I am… I am so sorry to disappoint you. Please give me another chance. I swear I’ll make it right this time.” She pleaded scared of losing the job as it was the only source of income in her house.
“Sorry Miss Verma, but I’ve deduced that you are incapable of working here anymore. Please leave or I’ve to call the security. You are fired.” This time Vikram didn’t control the pitch of his voice and that rattled the poor woman. A sob escaped her lips and she turned to rush out of his office as soon as possible. The moment she left, he relaxed back on his chair and massaged his temple sensing a building headache.
He hated this, to fire someone. But if people start to take advantage of his generosity, he has to take actions.
The doors of his office opened once again with a force that they banged with the wall. He jumped from his chair to sue the person who has dared to show such audacity.
But all the anger evaporated the moment his eyes met a pair of green orbs.
A frown marred in between her brows as she looked at him intensely, trying to read his mood. Vikram smiled at her and stepped away from his desk. Crossing the office in long strides, he hugged her thin frame in his arms. She looked pale and her collar bones peeked at him through her dress shirt making her seem malnourished. There were dark circles around her eyes, telling she has barely slept. The beauty that world admires, looked dull and tired under his observation. He guided her towards the couch settled at the corner of the office. She needs to take her health seriously.
“What was that?” Akira asked pointing in the direction where Miss Verma has just left. Vikram rolled his eyes and ignored her question.
“How was the show and I am surprised that you arrived early than scheduled. Are you alright?” He asked instead and Akira nodded resting her back on the plush couch.
“The show was fine. I was feeling tired so canceled the interview and decided to stay home for some time. You know how traveling without brakes turns you sick. I was losing my mind by sitting on the seat of a charter plane every next day. I am just thankful that the world tour is over.” She explained and he smiled.
Akira has arrived early this morning when he was getting ready for office. She promised to join him at breakfast soon at the company.
“Enough about me. Tell me how are you? We are meeting after 3 months.” She asked as she pulled out a box and opened the lid to reveal a hot breakfast. Vikram’s mouth watered as he reached for bacon.
“I could have been better if Giana was still here. In her absence, the workplace has turned upside down. I was so depended on her. When other employees tried to shoulder her job, it was a mess. Miss. Verma here turned out to be a disappointment too. I thought she was a smart lady.” He complained and Akira chuckled.
“I understand that Miss Verma failed to accomplish the said job because she watches over your finance department. She can never be your P.A. or schedule your appointments. That’s not her job at all. You pay her to watch over profit margins not to make contracts. Poor lady! You scared her. She has no experience in this field. What I don’t understand how you couldn’t look for a fresh person and stop bullying the poor employees to do other’s job?” Akira asked calmly and Vikram shook his head.
“It’s hard to get a new employee in such a short time. And just assume the number of days that will go waste to explain the job.” Akira rolled her eyes as she bit into the sandwich.
“Chill, brother. Giana won’t show up for three more months. It would be better if you appoint a new secretary and let them understand the job. A fresh mind will grab things better than overly used ones.”
“But where would I get an assistant in such a short time? The work is piling up day by day.” Vikram said and Akira nodded while drinking water. A light bulb went on all of a sudden in her mind and she smiled.
“Oh my God. I think I just found a solution and maybe have the right person who can handle your problem.” Akira said delighted and Vikram raised his eyebrows. “She is a friend.” As soon as the golden word left her mouth, Vikram shook his head thoroughly. Not in a million years, he will allow any of Akira’s retarded friends in the premises of his holy place. He never liked her friends, especially Genelia.
“Friend? I don’t want any of your friends sulking around my office. Thanks for the offer Akira, but I will manage.” He muttered getting up as he wiped his lips with the tissue.
“God damn it, brother! At least, listen to me. Not all my friends are outspoken like Genelia. This one is actually good and has completed her masters from New York. You will love her job. Although, she is not experienced but have massive knowledge in this field. Please give her a chance, I know she will do it just perfectly. Believe me, her degrees are amazing.” Akira said making Vikram look at her intently. Usually, she never talks much about someone let alone praises them. This one must be really close to her. Vikram was taken aback too because none of her friends were highly educated.
“Are you sure, I don’t want another trouble maker.”
“Oh please. I assure you; she is sweet and minded. I prohibit you to yell at her. I swear I will make you eat the food prepared by my hands.” She warned making Vikram gulp the bile and nod in surrender. You will love to commit suicide than to have food of Akira’s hands. She is that terrible and no one has forgotten the fire incident in the kitchen. Nora has permanently banned her from entering that sacred area.
“Ask your friend to be here by evening. I will be free at that time.” Vikram instructed she nodded with a soft smile.“I will take my leave now, make sure to be home on time. Don’t you dare miss the dinner tonight.” She warned and walked away after kissing his cheek.