When Krish had said a club, Meera had thought of a secret cliched underground club with wild people and throttling. Instead, Krish was leading her into the forest.
“The forest”? She asked. Krish snickered.
“We’re not as cliched as actors are” he said. Meera laughed.
“I know. But I’ve rarely been to parties. And never a club. What’s it like”? She asked.
“It’s... wild. In a way. Only when there are performances. I swear it’s like the girls are trying to copy Katrina Kaif of Jacqueline Fernandez”. Krish shuddered. He hated those two actresses. They were so skinny! You could see Jacqueline’s ribs and all Katrina did was belly dance. It was boring.
Meera laughed. She knew he hated those two actresses.
“You don’t like belly dancing”? She asked.
“It’s not that I don’t like belly dancing. My job consists of it. But... the way they do it is just scary” Krish said.
“Your job”? Meera asked. She didn’t know criminals belly dance. Especially Krish.
“Huh? Oh! No no! Not this job”! Krish quickly said. “When i’m not Krish, I have a job and it consists of knowing how to dance. Sometimes, it includes moving your hips with your partner” he said.
“I didn’t know you could dance” Meera said, her voice full of surprise. Krish chuckled.
“There’s a lot of things you don’t know about me Sundar” he said. They walked deeper into the forest in silence, until Krish couldn’t take it. He’d always worry when Meera went silent. Worried he’d done something. He turned back as he walked. She was looking around the forest, the moonlight shining on her face in patterns.
“Do you dance”? Krish asked. Meera nodded.
“Yeah. My mom taught me. I can’t dance too well, but I can belly dance pretty good” she said, smiling. Memories of her mom teaching her how to move her stomach came back to her. Sad memories.
“We’re here” Krish said suddenly. Meera looked up to see an old, abandoned temple before her. The walls were cracked and the paint was flaky, but it wasn’t in too bad of a condition.
“This is it”? She asked, her eyebrow raised. Definitely not what she was expecting. Krish laughed.
“What did you expect? An underground cave... oh wait, you did”! He teased. Meera blushed, not thoroughly visible, but her squeak of embarrassment evident. Krish laughed harder.
“C’mon” he said, opening the door. Meera’s mouth dropped.
The place was so neat. It was darkish purple, like her suit. A table of food rested on the side, with a stage all the way up front. Tables in uneven rows were lined up all the way to the door. Criminals, girls and boys, all were chatting or watching a performance on stage. Krish took Meera’s hand and led her to a table in the middle row, fit for two people.
The table was like one in a restaurant. It had a white tablecloth with gold edges. There was a dim candle in the middle accompanied with a vase with a rose. Krish helped Meera sit down first, then sat down himself.
“Such a gentleman” Meera teased. Krish rolled his eyes.
“Yo Krish”! A voice called. Meera turned her head to see Black Hood walking over to their table. She froze, her eyes widening. Krish, noticing her discomfort, reached over the table and took her hand, giving it a gentle squeeze.
“Don’t worry. Black Hood won’t do anything to you” he promised. Meera swallowed and nodded, trusting him completely as Black Hood reached their table. Red Rose, his girlfriend, joined him. (Krish had filled her in).
“Hi Black Hood, Red Rose” Krish said. Both thieves pulled chairs to join them, much to Meera’s horror.
“What’s up bro? Haven’t heard of crimes from you in a while”? Red Rose said. Krish shrugged.
“I’ve been busy” he said, looking at Meera. She blushed. Black Hood raised an eyebrow.
“A girl?! About time you’ve gotten a girlfriend Krish! We were wondering when you would be” he said. Krish laughed.
“Guys, this is Kaliya. Kaliya, these are the couple duo Red Rose and Black Hood” Krish said, winking at Meera. She laughed.
“You mean Black Hood and Red Rose” Black Hood corrected. Red Rose rolled her eyes.
“He has a big ego” she whispered to Meera. She laughed.
“So does Krish” she said.
“So when did you begin dating”? Black Hood asked. Meera flushed, glaring at Krish. He shrugged and mouthed ‘play along’. She stuck her tongue at him and nodded.
“For a few months” Krish said. Meera nodded.
“Really! Wow! No wonder you’ve been so quiet” Black Hood said. Krish laughed.
“Yeah. she’s-” He looked at Meera, who was chatting with Red Rose. “-different”.
“How so”? Black Hood asked. “You’ve never dated”.
“Different from other girls that I’ve seen. She’s simple. She’d kind and brave. She’s having me do things that I wouldn’t regularly do” Krish said, remembering when he’d saved the men from the robbers.
“Just be careful you don’t become a good guy” Black Hood warned. Krish laughed.
“Wouldn’t dream of it” he said, though part of him betrayed that thought. Would being a hero be that bad? He had everything he’d already needed. Fame, money, power. But he didn’t have love. He knew if he continued being a criminal, then he’d be putting Meera in danger. And if they did tie the knot, then he’d put his family at risk.
If he did become a hero, then he’d still have fame, power, and money, but he’d lose all his friends here. Krish groaned. Black Hood, who was watching the performance on stage, glanced at him.
“What’s wrong”? He asked.
“Nothing” Krish said. Black Hood shrugged and got up from the table. Red Rose waved at Meera before following him.
“You two seem to be getting along fine” Krish said. Meera shrugged.
“She’s a really sweet girl. Tough, but sweet” she said. Krish smiled. If he did become a hero, he’d miss all this. Black Hood was his best friend, and, though he did threaten him not to become a hero, Krish knew that the hooded thief didn’t enjoy being a thief. He’d often spoken quietly to Krish about changing views. Red Rose, he knew, would follow him. She always did. Maybe...
“Krish”? Meera asked, waving a hand in front of his face. He’d just froze! All of a sudden. Krish blinked and looked at her.
“Huh”? He asked. Meera giggled and held up his menu.
“Red Rose gave these to me. Do you want to eat” she asked. Krish shook his head, choosing to glare at the stage. His brain and heart competed with each other, creating a massive headache. Not only that, Husn Parcham blasted in his ears from the loud speakers.
Suddenly, the music stopped. It wasn’t like it had started anyway, with just Bauu and Guddu talking, but it was odd. That never happened, Willow made sure of it. A voice boomed on the speakers.
“Heads up CC”. It was Willow. Meera glanced at Krish, who just shrugged and pointed to the speaker.
“It seems we’re down a dancer. If any female would like to volunteer, go behind the stage”. The voice cut and slow music came on.
“You should so it” Krish said, jumping in his seat. Meera shook her head.
“I-I can’t do that” she said.
“Why not”? Krish asked.
“B-Because i’ll be in front of so many criminals and-” Krish cut Meera off.
“You’ll do great Meera. I promise. Just look at me while you dance. Forget everyone else. They don’t matter” he said. Meera paused for a moment, before groaning and getting up from her seat.
“You owe me Krish” was all she said as she stomped backstage. Krish chuckled and sipped the ice water in front of him. He didn’t notice Rishi, who had just walked inside CC. Rishi smirked, noticing an empty seat across from Krish, and quickly took it. This was a great time to collect more information about Meera.
Krish, who was staring at the stage, turned his head at the sound of a chair scraping against the floor. He met Rishi’s evil eyes. He groaned.
“Evening Rishi” he said. Rishi smirked.
“Evening to you as well Krish. What are you looking at the stage for? I thought you didn’t enjoy looking at the belly dancers”? Rishi asked. Krish scowled.
“So? Maybe i’m just bored” he said.
“What are you doing in the couples tables? Don’t you usually sit in the back”? Rishi asked. Krish shrugged.
“I met a new criminal and brought her here” he said, lying smoothly. The last thing he wanted was of Rishi to know Meera was here. Luckily, Husn Parcham began playing again and Krish whipped his head to the stage. His eyes met Meera’s, then roamed over her. He felt his mouth drop. She wore a rainbow sequin skirt and zebra crop top, just like Katrina Kaif did. Her hair was curled and her eyes were more vibrant underneath the mask.
Krish felt his legs become wobbly. He regretted telling her to keep her eyes on him. Now he’d be looking like an idiot throughout the full three minutes.
Rishi groaned. Another newbie! And a dancer too. But... she was incredibly good. She did the dance better than Katrina Kaif, her movements full of energy. He glanced at Krish, who looked like he was going to faint. He watched as the noir criminal’s eyes followed every movement of the girl. The move of her hands, the twirl of her hips, the piercing gaze of her eyes. It seemed she too was looking at him, never taking her eyes off of him. But didn’t Krish like Meera? What happened to her? Unless... the dancer was Meera!
As the song ended, the girl ran off stage. A few moments later, a girl in a purplish suit ran up to their table. Krish got up and kissed her cheek, completely forgetting Rishi was there.
“See Kaliya! You were amazing”! He said. Rishi crawled away from their table. Kaliya. So that’s what she called herself? She’d make a good fit in the criminal business, that’s for sure. Rishi sauntered out of the CC, his brain full of ideas.
“You were awesome” Krish continued after Rishi’s exit. Meera blushed.
“I saw you looking at me” she said. Krish laughed.
“I can’t look at my beautiful Sundar”? He asked, though knowing beautiful couldn’t describe what he saw on stage.
“Haha” Meera said. Black Hood and Red Rose joined them soon, congratulating Meera (aka: Kaliya). Other males from also came to congratulate her, and more than congratulate her, but Krish had none of it. He was in a jealous rage every time a man approached Meera, much to her amusement. Soon, maybe around twelve, they left. Krish, steaming with jealousy, and Meera, glowing with amusement.
“That’s not funny Meera” Krish growled, but it only made Meera laugh harder.
“But it is Krish! You have no reason to be jealous” she said.
“Why? Others are trying to take my Sundar” Krish said. Meera moved closer to him, intertwining their gloved hands.
“But they never will” she whispered.