#26 He loves me!
I went through the list of people who had transferred money to Rijo’s account and his call log details.
“This is it?” I am disappointed to find the unfamiliar names.
“Yeah, Apparently Rijo had been doing this for some time now; he made a fortune out of his hacking skills,” Jeeva explained.
I turned back to my system, “Then I guess I need to recover the data first,” I said and Jeeva gave me an odd look.
“You are very involved in this case, we dealt with more serious cases and you never gave a damn.”
“This guy targeted my girlfriend thrice, Of course, I would be-hey-" I stopped as Jeeva nearly spit out the water he had.
“Your...girlfriend? You have a girlfriend!?” He looked shocked.
“You made it sound like it is impossible,” I turned back to my system and started to type.
“It is impossible! I thought you only know coding and things! Who is this poor girl who fell for a cold-hearted person like you?”
“You are nosy.”
“And you are too full of yourself,” he retorted and turned back to his work.
Rijo had done a good job wiping everything out and I knew that it would take a lot of time and effort for me to restore it.
Soon, it was 9 pm and I called Jenni to inform her that I would be late and not to wait for me.
“Boy! This is more work than I imagined.” Jeeva complained from time to time.
My phone beeped and I took it out.
“Did you sleep yet?”
I smiled at her message.
“Why? You have any other “doubt” regarding the project to ask me?”
“You are very insensitive.” she sent me a smiley and I chuckled at that.
“Someone liked me even with this attitude.” I typed back and added a smiley.
Okay, I admit that this is my first time adding an emoticon in one of the personal messages.
I had thought it to be childish, but I see that it’s quite...interesting...
“I didn’t just like you,” she typed back. “I loved you, Michael.”
I stared at her message. My heart tugged at that simple sentence. I felt happy that she was not holding back.
I really admire how open she was with me. For someone like me who was always afraid to let people inside, she was everything I could hope for.
“Are you there?” Her message came again. “I just don’t want you to forget our promise today.”
Did we make a promise today?
“We said we won’t retreat or run away,” she continued. “No matter how difficult it is...”
Looks like she is still worried about her Mama.
“I have never been afraid of facing difficulties, I am persistent, and I won’t give up easily.” I typed back.
There was no reply from her even though she had read my message.
“Don’t worry about your Mama,” I typed again. “I will stay with you no matter how difficult it is,” I typed again. “I am ready to wait as well.”
“You just read my mind,” her words were instant. “I knew that we were meant to be.”
“Good night, Princess. Don’t stress yourself with these unnecessary worries.”
“Good night, Michael, I love you.”
“I love you too.”
I leaned back to the chair. My smile faded again as I looked back at the details of Rijo’s call log that was placed on the table.
I need to take care of this as soon as possible.
“Thank you, Uncle,” I chirped as Uncle Jose opened the car door for me. I was on the campus and I walked inside happily.
I greeted and talked to everyone on the way to the canteen.
“Someone is very energetic today,” Nisha commented as she was drinking her filter coffee.
I sat opposite to her.
“You look very lovely in that dress,” I smiled.
“I have worn this more than a dozen times I think,” she frowned.
“But it’s still lovely.”
“Okay, spill, what happened?”
I moved towards her and lowered my voice.
“We are dating,” I said.
She gave me a look.
“I am not asking about your fantasy.”
“I am serious! Michael tricked me to come to the lecture hall, he said that he...he loves me!” I said again.
“Oh really?” Nisha nodded her head and took another sip of her drink. “That’s very nice.”
“I am serious!”
“What’s so serious?” Sam appeared suddenly.
“She is dating Michael,” Nisha told him. “He said that he loves her.”
“Oh...” Sam nodded. “Come on; let me get you some breakfast, looks like you don’t have much glucose in your system.”
Nisha giggled at that while I glared at them.
“I am serious! We really are going out!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah, we heard you,” Nisha waved away my words and turned to Sam.
“What about your CA paper-”
“I AM SERIOUS!” I shouted and the whole canteen turned to us.
Nisha raised her hand and flicked me on the forehead.
“Keep it down, girl.”
“Aww...” I rubbed the spot. “But I am telling the truth, we are dating.”
“Looks like you are not back to your senses yet,” Nisha raised her hand to flick me again.
“She’s right, we are dating.”
A shiver went through me as I heard that voice. Michael took the seat beside me.
“You cannot hurt my girlfriend,” he said, looking at Nisha.
My face flamed.
“Why...why are you here?” I asked him slowly.
I know that he has no need to come so early.
“I wanted to meet you,” he said. “Jenni asked if you will continue to teach the violin.”
“I will call her directly. I totally forgot about that,” I said and he nodded.
“I am going to get coffee, would you like a cup?” I asked him.
“I will get that for you,” Michael smiled. “Anyone else needs coffee?” He asked and I looked at Sam.
Both Sam and Nisha looked frozen in their seats. Nisha had her mouth slightly opened while Sam had his eyes popped out.
“Coffee?” Michael asked again.
“They didn’t believe it when I said that we were...um...going out,” I said.
Michael looked at them.
“That’s right, we are officially together,” he said and I nodded.
“You guys are dating? For real?” Sam cut across Nisha and asked us.
Both of us nodded again.
“YOU BLOODY BRUTUS! HOW COME YOU DIDN’T TELL ME?”
“Keep it down, will you!” Michael looked around. Sure enough, people were giving us weird and annoyed look again.
“I told you just now,” I said. “You didn’t believe me.”
“I am asking Michael,” Sam said grimly.
“I actually told you that I confessed and you laughed at me.” Michael gave him a look.
“But I thought you were drunk!”
“I was not,” he said. “Since she doesn’t want anyone else to know about our relationship, for the time being, help us out,” he added.
“So you really like her?” Nisha looked at him.
“No,” he shook his head. “I love her.”
Sam and Nisha gave him another strange look and I blushed.
He loves me!
It still felt surreal to me.
“What will you do when she transfer college?” Nisha asked.
“She won’t transfer college, we talked about it,” he said easily.
Nisha looked at me, her eyebrows raised.
“Um...I said...I would think about it.”
“Will you get us the coffee?” Nisha looked at Michael.
He nodded and got up. “Go easy on her,” he added before walking away.
“What did you do to my friend?” Sam leaned forward.
“It’s all because of you two,” I said. “Thank you so much, Michael confessed to me when he thought that I am going to transfer, it was your idea. You two are like my personal cupids!”
“Ha! I knew it,” Sam said. “My plan worked.”
“Why did you ask him to keep it a secret?” Nisha asked me. “Are you worried about...?”
“Mama,” I nodded.
“Just tell your Mama that Michael is a real catch,” Sam said. “And don’t worry about it, Ella,” Sam looked at me. “Michael won’t give up once he decides something.”
“That’s right,” Michael appeared with four cups of coffee.
Sam turned to him.
“You need to treat us generously,” he said. “Prepare a banquet for us.”
“That’s right,” Nisha piped in. “We need to celebrate this.”
“Consider it done,” Michael smiled at her.
“So are you here to see your girlfriend early in the morning?” Sam asked and Michael’s smile dropped slowly.
“Is something wrong?” I asked him instantly.
“I just wanted to confirm something,” Michael said. “Can I have your phone?” He looked at me.
I gave him my phone and Michael dialled a number.
“It’s not one of your contacts, anyone knows this number?” he asked again.
Sam and Nisha dialled the number and shook their head.
“I knew it.”
“What is it about? Is something wrong?” I am worried now.
“It’s nothing, Rijo called this number multiple times,” he said. “Don’t worry, I got this,” he smiled.
“Isn’t this Rijo guy already taken care of?” Nisha asked.
“Yes,” Michael said. “I was just confirming things.”
“So it really was not Angela?” Nisha sounded almost disappointed, she had been so sure that it is her.
“Thank you, Michael,” I looked at him.
“It’s nothing,” he looked at his watch. “It’s time for your class, go on,” he said. “Call me when you finish the classes, I will see you then,” he added.
“Whoa, that’s cheesy, Michael, I didn’t expect it from you,” Nisha said while getting up. “I will see you later,” she turned to Sam and nodded.
“What’s it? What are you trying to find out?” Sam asked me as soon as Cinderella and Nisha were out of earshot.
I know I can’t keep it buried anymore. So I explained about the situation.
“What!” He looked angry. “So Rijo was only working for someone? Why didn’t you tell me that before?”
“I thought it could be managed like this.”
“But now that there’s a possibility for other people to get involved, we need to find a solution. We need to tell Ella too.”
I shook my head.
“Not now. Give me two more days; I believe I can solve this.” I looked at a confused Sam. “Ella is simple-minded and happy go lucky person. I don’t want her to worry about this unnecessarily. She is already worried about her Mama,”
Sam was staring at me wide-eyed.
“Michael! You have changed! You...you were never this thoughtful before! You were rude, cold and arrogant.”
“Not everyone needs to be treated gently.” I chuckled and got up.
“Yeah, right, only Ella would qualify to be treated gently by you.”
“Now, you have a point.”
“Michael! Stop! My poor heart can’t take anymore shock!”
Michael said he would wait for my classes to be over.
I was thrilled as I walked out.
“You look happy.”
I stopped at that voice.
Roopak was leaning against the bonnet of his car. He had an evil smirk on his face.
I decided to ignore him and started to walk.
“I wonder how your Mama would react if she knows that you are dating a beggar.” His next sentence froze me.
“You have such a poor taste, Ella.” He got up and walked to me. “What’s so special about Michael? He is going to end up working for one of us.”
I fisted my hands tightly to prevent myself from retorting angrily. I don’t want to provoke him when he is already threatening me.
But how the heck did he know about us?
“Senior Roopak, I believe I never did anything harmful to you,” I looked at him. “Please let it go if I have offended you in any way.”
“What? Is Princess Cinderella getting scared about her Mama finding out about dating a nobody?”
“Michael is 100 times better than you.” I lost it. “I always tried to be civil and respectful, please don’t push me to a corner.”
“Why? Will you bite?” His eyes bored into me and I felt disgusted. “Then I would love to push you to the corner.”
“Stay away from me!” I gave him a death glare and his smirk widened.
I walked away from him.
“Your Mama contacted me a few days ago,” his words froze me. “She wanted to know about you, looks like she doesn’t trust you. She was spying on your back.”
I got angry and turned back.
“My Mama won’t do that,” I said firmly. I know that she would have other ways to know about me if she really wants to.
Roopak chuckled, “you really think so?”
“Mind your own damn business and leave me alone.” I gave him a glare and walked away.
I don’t even want to pretend to be respectful to someone like him anymore.
I picked up Cinderella outside the campus as she didn’t want much attention from anyone.
“What’s wrong?” I started the engine and drive out as soon as she fastened the seatbelt.
She had looked anxious as she was walking out of the college gate, but her face had brightened up instantly while noting me.
She turned to me in surprise.
“Are you tensed about me coming to pick you up?”
“It’s not that,” she frowned slightly. “I don’t know why Senior Roopak is always bothering me,” She said. “He had been causing me trouble from the first year I joined. I had always been polite until recently.” She looked at me. “I swear, I had never done anything to him for him to be hostile to me like this.”
I remembered his conversation that happened a few months back in the boy’s locker room.
He had wanted to have a one night stand with her.
I tightened my hand on the steering wheel.
“Did he say anything to you today?”
“Yeah, he threatened me that he would tell my Mama about our relationship.” She looked worried.
“He threatened you about our relationship? But no one knows about our relationship except for Sam and Nisha.” I said.
And even they had a difficult time believing it.
“I don’t know how he knew,” Cinderella shrugged. “It didn’t feel like he was bluffing. He looked serious.”
Why didn’t I think of him before? Can he be the one who posted those Videos?
If he is the mastermind behind those video clips, He wouldn’t have expected for the third video to be blocked before it is published. He would have already contacted Rijo and know that I am involved in it. Yes, that’s the only way for him to know about our relationship.
“Be vary of Roopak, he has a grudge against you,” I said slowly.
I need to confirm my theory before telling her that he could be behind the videos. I need to give his details to Jeeva to double-check everything.
“I don’t understand why he would have a grudge against me! I never did anything to him!” Cinderella exclaimed.
“You rejected him multiple times,” I said.
“That’s nothing major! He knew that I would reject him and still approached me.”
“He placed a bet with his friends, Cinderella,” I looked at her for a moment before turning back to the road. “He said he would get you to spend a night with him and it never happened.”
“What the! I knew it! He is good for nothing douche bag who needs to have his stupid face slapped and-” Cinderella stopped all of a sudden. She gave me a look. “I mean...he is a bad guy.”
“You don’t need to worry about your words in front of me.” I smiled at her discomfort.
“But why didn’t you tell me about this before?” She changed the subject.
“I didn’t know that he was talking about you then. Now that I think about it, he had been approaching you even though you rejected him a lot of times.”
Cinderella nodded her head slowly.
“So be wary of him, he could be dangerous than we thought,” I warned and she nodded her head.
“Auntie Ella!” Jiji and Jinu looked happy to see me as I stepped out of the car.
“Hi,” I waved at them.
“I am surprised that Mike was thoughtful enough to pick you up,” Jenni said while coming out to the sit-out area of her house.
I blushed slightly and looked at Michael who ignored her as usual and turned to me.
“Can I have your phone?”
“My phone?” I looked at him in confusion.
“Yeah, I will return it when you go back,” he said and I gave him my mobile.
He took it and walked into his house.
“Auntie Ella! Our dad is coming home!” Jinu told me, unable to keep the excitement out of his voice.
“Yeah! He will be staying with us for a long time.” Jiji nodded.
“That’s enough, let her come inside first,” Jenni said and both of them took my hand on either side and started to guide me inside, making me laugh.
Once we were inside, Jenni asked the kids to play and turned to me.
“Ella, I am glad that you succeeded.” She smiled. “I was worried about him.”
I smiled back.
“The kids are right, Andrew is coming home,” she said. “So we will be going back to the family house.”
“You are going back?” My heart dropped for a moment.
Jenni smiled. “Don’t worry, Michael will be here.” She smiled and I blushed.
“I don’t mean that,” I said quickly. “I will miss you and the kids.”
“I know, I was kidding, Ella.” She said. “Every time Andrew is back, we will move back with him and come back here when he is going back to the sea,” Jenni said and I nodded.
“So you will be back after six months.” I nodded.
“I am not sure this time.” Jenni frowned slightly. “Michael is in his final semester. He rejected offers from other colleges and stayed back in Bangalore so that he could take care of us, but once he is graduated, He might need to move and I don’t want to hold him back.” She said.
“I am sure that he will find a way around to manage it.”
“Jinu and Jiji were very young before, I wanted support then, I didn’t want Michael to be alone either, so it was the best arrangement. But now Andrew’s parents want us to stay closer to the family. They miss their grandchildren, so I might be settling there.” She said. “Since Michael has opened his heart for you, I am reassured.”
I had never thought of what will happen next, but now I am starting to think about it.
“Don’t worry, Ella, Michael will find a way to manage things. He won’t just leave you here and go away somewhere.” Jenni consoled me.
I smiled slightly.
“There is another news,” Jenni said and l looked at her. “Jiji and Jinu are selected to perform in the school festival, I would like you to attend if you are free. I will Whatsapp you the details.”
“Wow! I would love to come!” I said and Jenni laughed. “I knew that you would like it.” She said.
Soon, I helped the twins select the music for the festival and they seemed to be excited about it.
I felt contented to know that I have somehow influenced these kids with their love for music.
Once I finished the class, Jenni knocked on the door.
“Ella, Mike said he has something for you,” she said and I felt excited like a kid.
“What is it?”
“No idea, he asked me to tell you once the class is over,” she said.
“It should be a gift!” Jinu said thoughtfully when Jiji nodded.
“Come on, let’s see what it is,” I told them and they looked equally excited.
So I packed my things and walked to Michael’s house.
Even though the door was open, I hesitated to enter inside.
“Auntie Ella, come on,” Jiji dragged me inside. Jinu had already run inside.
“Let’s press the bell-”
“You don’t need to, come in, Cinderella.”
My heart leapt at the sight of him.
I walked inside with Jiji.
“Where is Auntie Ella’s gift?” Jiji asked Michael curiously.
“It’s right here,” Jinu called from inside and Jiji ran inside.
Michael and I looked at each other.
“Did you have to be escorted to come here?” Michael looked annoyed and I was confused for a moment.
“Why did you bring the little devils with you?” He explained and I realised that Michael was asking me to come alone.
“C’mon,” He nodded and walked to the room opposite his bedroom. The room had windows facing Jenni’s house and looked like a study or an office room.
Jinu and Jiji were looking at a small red pouch on the table.
“What is it, Uncle Mike?”
“Can we open this?”
“It’s for you,” Michael said and I took it and opened slowly. I stilled as I saw the inhaler and-
“It’s a needle!” Jinu exclaimed.
I looked at Michael in doubt.
“You got me an inhaler and injection? Why?” I asked him.
“Because you have a tendency to forget it,” he said simply, then before I could say anything, he turned to the kids.
“So who wants an injection? Jiji or Jinu?” he looked serious.
“We don’t want the injection!” Both of them said in unison and ran out, leaving me alone with Michael.
“I never thought I could shake them off this easily.”
“What? Why did you scare them-” I stopped mid-sentence as Michael came around and took my hand.
My heartbeat soured high as he yanked my hand and guided me to the chair in front of the table.
He let go of my hand and brought another chair to the room, placing it near me.
“Do you know how the stylus pen works on a phone?”
“You...you mean...the pen we use to write on the screen? I tried to keep the stammer out of my voice, but it was difficult as he was very close to me.
He nodded, “Yes. I have made a similar circuit with a sensor and placed it inside this pouch.” He touched the small red pouch that had the medication. “It is connected to your phone and wireless, it will be charged automatically when you charge the phone.”
I looked at him in confusion.
“If you leave this red pouch behind, your phone will give you an alarm notification.”
I stared at him, I am feeling overwhelmed that he made this for me so as I won’t forget my medication behind.
“Try it,” he said.
I nodded stiffly.
I took my phone from him and walked out of the room and instantly the alarm sound beeped along with a pop-up message.
“From now on, even if you change your bag, you cannot forget your medication,” Michael said as he walked to me.
“You...designed this for me?” I looked at him in wonder.
“I worked with a final year bio-medical engineer in the trauma care club.” He shrugged. “He told me about the pre-existing digital inhalers and I modified the device.”
I just stood there, staring at him. I am really touched and overwhelmed that Michael has personally designed this for me.
“Cinderella?” He looked into my eyes and I wiped it quickly.
He wrapped his hands around me and hugged me gently. Neither of us said anything but it was the most comforting place for me in this whole world.
I closed my eyes and let him hug me.
“Uncle Mike!” Jiji and Jinu shouted from outside. “You can’t give Auntie Ella injection!”
Apparently, they were here to save me.
“Uncle Mike, let Auntie Ella come outside.”
Michael groaned and let go of me slowly and looked into my eyes, a small smile played on his lips.
“The next time you come here, see that you shake off those little devils before you come here.” He said and kissed my forehead.
My face heated up slightly and I took a step back from him.
“I should probably go; I need to get back.”
“I will drop you back in the college.”
I nodded. I know I cannot reject his offer and it felt good to spend time with him.
I waited in the car as Cinderella bid goodbye to Jenni and the kids.
My phone started to ring and I took it out.
“Hello, Jeeva?” I attended his call. “Did you check the details of the person I sent-?”
“It is him,” Jeeva said from the other side. “I ran the details on this guy Roopak; He is indeed involved in this matter.”