The Call of a Lifetime (18+)

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The Playalong

Roger

The interview questions were predetermined but our answered needed coordination. Things with Charles sailed through smoothly but we might not always get lucky. Media always knows how to probe in the worst way and Arin needed a thorough preparation.

Mrs. Rose was helping her. It was when I saw Arin attend meetings, not bothering about the interview, when I roped in the bog guns. Arin’s concept of winging it was different than all we could assume. She assumed the questions would be about favorite colour and preference in pizza. Needless to say, even Mrs. Rose wasn’t of much help. She was being the perfect secretary who would doth her like a daughter, without telling her the problem.

God. Why do I always have to be the responsible one?

It was when I dialed Georgia and her call went unanswered that I walked out to her cubicle. She wasn’t available. My peripheral vision gazed at Arin’s former seating. Although now, she was in her new office, overlooking the view of the city, her cubicle would prick her memory and those times I treated her wrong. Every time I thought of Arin, a weird, velvety sensation drove up in my chest. Hardly a few feet away, her open office door called me. Allured me to walk in.

I was greeted by the sight of her empty chair.

“Roger.. what brings you here?” Mrs. Rose noticed my presence and called out.

Near her seating, I leaned over her desk. The weight of my next words were already pulling me down. “I am looking for your new boss. Where is she?”

A smile erupt through her face too. She was the only one, whom Arin had told about the contract, even though I begged her not to.

“You need to trust a few people to survive, Roger,” were her words, although Arin didn’t know I had been burned by the flames of trust to tread gently.

So now, Mrs. Rose was also privy to our plan. Pulling her calendar, she ran her bony finger over it. “How about you turn as see where she is?”

Arin had magically appeared in her office. When I walked in, she was already trotting around with a pen held between her pearly whites, a sheet in her left hand. Her back faced me as I entered and shut the door behind. Her murmur was clear. She was studying for the interview like some Law exam.

“It wasn’t love at first sight but the understanding that we had..” Hearing her chomp onto prepared answered, I couldn’t help but cough out my laughter. Her head snapped around. She struck a superman pose, annoyed at infringing her privacy. “Don’t you knock?”

“If I would, how will I see and hear all this..”

Her expressions softened and she sat on the couch tossing her legal pad aside. Her hand held her hair in a bunch and she growled from the inside. “I can’t do this Roger. I will screw it up big time..”

I sat beside her, turning her to me. It was a struggle due to her reluctance.

“Look at me...” I commanded. She nods in disagreement. “Look at me, girl.” Her head snapped up in the air before tossing it back on her thighs and adhering. “You are not going to say this cooked up porridge there, okay?”

Cringing her face, she mocked. “Ohh, so I am supposed to feel all that crap and say from my heart?”

Pulling her closer, she straightened at our proximity. Her head lowered but with my hummed tone, she matched my gaze. “Tell me about your first love..”

With a confused expression, she looked up to the roof before laughing and falling back.

“Was I being funny?” I peered at her, voicing my concern. Getting up from the couch, she donned her serious expressions upon evaluating my tone. “Tell me..”

“I..don’t...whyareyouasking?”

“Because that’s what you will say there. You won’t read from the paper. You will say what you felt from your heart.” Eying me with doubts still swirling in her eyes, she nodded. Her lips parted as she absorbed the wisdom of cracking interview.

At that instance, there was nothing more I wanted to do than to hold and kiss her. I couldn’t understand the effect she had on me or how our playful banters made me want to hold her beneath me.

“What about you?” Her raspy voice hit my senses. Every since the realization hit me, of her being babydoll, I had felt a tug at my heart. Arin had a strange hold over me. A puppeteer to its puppet.

“What about me?”

Looking away, she continued. “Your first love..”

Stella was my first love. My everything. But this wasn’t the time to pick off old scabs. “That’s a long romantic story on which volumes one to hundred could could be written.”

“That great, huh?” her voice was genuine and I didn’t want to take away her hope that whatever crap she might have conjured up about love, was wrong. Love wasn’t fulfilling. It only reeked disaster. Heartbreak.

I sighed and flushed back the past memories. “Oh! It was the love of a lifetime..” Only I knew the wretched truth.

With that, I pushed off the couch and walked away.

~~

Seated beside me, Arin shifted uncomfortably in her place. There was an interview which went well and then there was the infamous photo shoot, for which she still wasn’t convinced.

“Hand over his shoulder,” the photographer’s instructions were for Arin. Unlike the one which Stella deployed last time, this fine man was Mrs. Rose’s research. So he was perfect. There wasn’t any shitless headshots or carrying in the arm scenarios. It was a simple magazine cover shoot. Simple, minimalist. “Sir, your hand on madam’s waist..”

I followed his words and coiled my hand around Arin body, pulling her closer. Her warm breath intoxicated me. We had never been in such close proximity before except for that night where I screwed up everything.

My mind still wandered, if we would ever go back to that day? Ever kiss again. I did make a mistake of asking her to sigh the contract without stating my intentions. After that day, we never spoke of it. Those memories, her kiss, all had made its way back to me but I was a coward to address them.

Babydoll wasn’t just a figment of my imagination. She was a real person. A person, who I held in my arm. The one, who smelled like warm vanilla and had a heart of gold. One, who knew how to rule me with her voice.

Unknowingly, my grip hardened. Her hand held up the gap between us. “What are you doing?”

I smirked at her coy attitude. She can be a saint when wanted but the reality was heard every time I called her. “Can’t you see? I am pulling you up..close..”

Merely inches away, she tapped her hands for a timeout, waiting for the photographer to walk out of sight. “I told you. No touching without permission.” Her tone spiked up and I withdrew my arm. Still, her nostrils fluttered in an adorable way. It was one of Arin’s infuriated looks. Adorable.

"Meh." A part of me wanted to rile her more, set her fuming. It was the same part which mother’s told their daughters″ about- boys pulling on pigtails. I liked Arin and in my own fucked up way, I was letting her know.

She pulled onto my lapel and bought me down to level with her gaze. “I am not playing with you..”

“Ohh, but I am, princess..”

Clenching her teeth, she grated her words. “Not your princess.”

I nodded. ”Right. You are a vixen.” Pulling her closer, she pressed her palms onto my chest, trying to create distance between us. “Remember that call we had babydoll? One with the punishment?”

Her eyes widened and face turned beet red. She wanted to say more but all she managed was unhinging her jaws. “What? Why? Why are you bringing it up now?” Her anger flamed out, replaced with a mellow tone.

“I was joking. Ease up. You were tense during the shoot.”

She nodded and gnawed at her lower lip, looking up at me with her hooded eyes. Eventually, Arin calmed down and the photographer did his task of blinding us with flashes.

The truth was, Arin wasn’t tensed. I was. I was scared that this might all be a dream and that if I held her for long, it might end. I sabotaged it, even if was merely a thought. As always, I tossed the best thing that happened to me, away. Knowing that good things didn’t happen to people like me, I knew how to push Arin away, if she ever crossed the threshold of my heart.

Arin deserved someone better than me. Someone who was willing to let her have all the happiness in the world.

A specific someone, I knew.

Wrapping up the shoot, Arin beamed around with pride. “I can’t believe we did it. I did it, Roger..”

Letting out a soft scream, she continued bouncing off walls. This was Arin’s first interview and I was glad, it was fun for her. A continuous ringing made her let go of her happy state. Frown danced on her face as she picked up the call.

Her expressions changed when she cemented in her place and listened to the caller, with an occasional ‘no’ here and there.

“Problem?” I asked when she ended the call. With animated hand gestures, she nodded and depicted a bigger problem. “What is it?”

“Dad is throwing us an engagement party.”

I was unable to decipher the problem. “So?”

“You are okay with cameras and newspapers and things running it as a story?” Her confusion was clear. She thought I wasn’t ready for all this. The shoot and the media scrutiny. What Arin didn’t know was the fact that I was prepared for this all along. I nodded once more to her surprise. “Well. I thought-”

Walking to her, I could feel the excitement radiating off of body. Part nervousness and part excitement.

“You thought I would freak out?” I asked, watching her smiled at my correct guess. “Then the answer is no.” She calmed into my hold as I continued. “It was all a part of the ruse that we are already pulling, Arin. Charles unknowingly helped us reach our goal.”

She shrugged back, like my words burned her. “Yes. I forgot about that. It’s your goal.”

~~

Thank you for reading.

Any guess on what happens at the party?

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