something’s cooking…

Chapter 48

Ria met-up with her uncle at the café right on time. Keith had dropped her a little earlier and had parked away but he was keeping a watch on her. She couldn’t find him in the little crowd but she knew he was very close and somehow that gave her an assurance. She didn’t know why but she was nervous as never before and hoped to hell her uncle wouldn’t catch her… he was someone who read her like an open book…. Of course, besides Gaurav. Her uncle was on dot time an attribute which she highly respected.

Her uncle was staring at her as he stirred the sugar. Ria smiled as she sipped her filter coffee feeling like the old times when she would go out with Chitthappa whenever he was in town. Though rare, she treasured those moments. “What is it chitthappa? You are staring…”

“..Ummm …nothing…just that you look…Radiant… You have a strange glow on your face…” he smiled pointing at her face.

Ria blushed as she remembered waking up that morning to Gaurav’s mouth on her wet core. He had sucked and nipped her folds as his expert tongue maneuvered itself into her soft dents and inserted two of his fingers inside alongside. He thrust them in and out numerous times till she raised her hips off the bed… screaming her climax. Before she found her breath, he was lapping up her juices and as she had thought she had reached the bottom of her pinnacle he had slammed into her shattering her within a couple of thrusts before he screamed his release inside her womb. She was thoroughly sated and couldn’t get herself to leave the bed… all her anxiety about meeting her uncle had dissipated. She had informed Gaurav about the meeting but he hadn’t reacted…only kissed her head last night.

 Then Gaurav had got her coffee in the bed… Ria realized she was smiling coyly.

Her uncle cleared his throat. “…. hmm…. Earth to Ria… so what’s it that you wanted to discuss…did you see the files I gave you last time…?”

Ria straightened in her chair. “…Um chitthappa, um… how well do you know Abdul Ansari…?” she further continued very softly. “… um… as a friend…?”

Her uncle stopped smiling and had that all business look about him now, though his face seemed to have lost a little colour “…Looks like you read the files on the pen drive. But how do you know about my connection to Abdul Ansari…”

“Let’s say chitthappa, I have my sources too…” She bent forward and held his hand “…Look chitthappa, I know you mean well. But… but I strongly believe in my husband…. I know he is speaking the truth…” Ria spoke softly choosing her words carefully. Her uncle kept looking at her in a neutral expression and withdrew his hands folding them close to his chest as he sat upright. She sighed and continued, “…Chitthappa, don’t look at this case personally. Think professionally and tell me… aren’t there any loopholes in the case…? Everything from the beginning looks like a frame up… Weren’t all witnesses too easy…? All the CCTV recording in Dubai selectively damaged or not admissible due to stupid laws, Saquib turning a hostile witness after claiming to actually witness domestic violence and murder…? The foetus charred to such an extent that DNA couldn’t be retrieved for testing… Chitthappa…how convenient can things get…? Gaurav almost died… that day… Why would he jump into the fire that too backward… if he had pushed Shilpi into the fire…? He was under trial and in custody for months which scarred him for a lifetime… All this for no fault of his…”

Her uncle looked around him and whispered. “… Stop…Ria, you need to stop this RIGHT NOW. You are NOT an investigator… got it? You…are in danger. Just…. leave that man for God’s sake… He is nothing but TROUBLE…  You can have great alliances for you. I will find you a life partner…someone lot better than him… “. Ria only stared at her uncle as if he was a stranger. He looked fatigued and rubbed his eyes. Her uncle was exasperated as he spoke, “…Ria, Abdul Ansari… he is a dangerous man. He is no longer on the force… And…. Saquib…is his son. Someone whom he loved more than life itself and for whom he had given up a lucrative career… This…Gaurav’s case in Dubai, apparently severely ruined Saquib’s reputation and his only chance of making money…. To pay his debts. By default, Abdul came under scanner too… Gaurav’s parents hired the top tech guys to bring down all online information pertaining to the case… so its highly classified. When Saquib turned hostile, the prosecution was shame faced… so they investigated the father son duo and unearthed huge drug dealings and hawala transactions. There was no proof against Abdul but inspite of his efforts, Saquib served time…three years… when one day he ODied in the prison… Abdul has already lost his face and job for aiding and covering his son’s offences but after Saqib’s death he… he lost his sanity and now… Ria… he is out for revenge. He… he wants to get to Gaurav and ruin him just like Saquib….”

“…Did he…did he arrange for that rape case …here…?” Ria asked suddenly.

Her uncle nodded and said in a resigned voice. “… I found out all this yesterday… Abdul has escaped Dubai and is now a fugitive. He may have arranged it all here…. Ria, he wanted to get Gaurav in jail by hook or crook… That woman Swara…she was an easy lay and her boyfriend was an addict. It was very easy… She named Gaurav as told. For all you know the rape was fake…. Do you know the main hospital cameras were tampered with on that rainy night…? Abdul had thought Gaurav would be there since he hadn’t arrived home….” At Ria’s shocked expression he said, “…Yes. He has been watching Gaurav’s movements… But being a fugitive, he has to be extra careful. What he didn’t expect was Gaurav visiting the old hospital building right that day and the surprise element in this….”

“…That was …me…” Ria whispered. But she looked up at her uncle. “…But chitthappa? Why does he want Gaurav in jail?”

“…Because he wants to kill him this time…avenge his son…” Her uncle spoke without emotion.

Ria was shivering suddenly. In a trembling voice she asked, “… Is he insane? He came all the way from Dubai…as a fugitive just to ki…kill Gaurav…? Is he not in danger too…?”

Her uncle rubbed his face. It was as though he had aged suddenly. “…Baby, Abdul is a very dangerous man. He is a specially trained operative …I know his capacity. He was the best in our lot during our years in the US. He was a decorated officer in Dubai… till he went rogue. He was the best in his field but blind love for his son ruined his career and eventually he lost his son too. So, he doesn’t care about himself… He just wants …revenge. Ria…baby…listen to me carefully. You have become a cog in his wheel…. You should leave Gaurav immediately…. That’s the only way he will leave you alive… I will see how I can involve law enforcement….”

Ria was teary as she spoke. “…Chitthappa, Gaurav is my life…my…. my everything. If I leave him…I won’t survive anyways. So… I as well stay with him. I will fight for him…”

“…DONT BE A LOVESICK FOOL Ria…” her uncle said in a strangled voice controlling his fury. “…When it comes to Abdul, no one can save Gaurav and you…not even that watchdog of yours who at this moment is on a call…. If I can spot him, Abdul can too….”

Watchdog? She had heard this word before… yes… Sujatha had used the term for Keith. Suddenly it dawned on her. She raised her palms to stop her uncle from speaking. “…It was you chitthappa…wasn’t it…? You sent Shilpi’s sister to contact me… You wanted to distract me and make me hate Gaurav….”

Her uncle didn’t deny any accusation. He just sighed and said, “…I only wanted to protect you…I thought I may not able to convince you on my own…so I used the sister. I helped her get evidence…. She was disillusioned anyways…”

Ria was overcome with anger, “…Chitthappa, you used her. That wasn’t fair. How did she land up in Pune…? Did you have a hand in that too…?”

Ashok just stared at her without any expressions. Ria stood up to leave.

Ashok stood up instantly. “…Baby wait…. It’s dangerous. Please… Stay away from him…”

Ria was curt even as tears streamed down her cheeks. “…No chitthappa. You know me well… I won’t quit now. And….Gaurav is not alone in this mess. But you…. stay away… you have helped enough…. DO NOT INTERFERE ANYMORE…”

She turned around and left the cafe. Swara’s words ringing in her ears now made sense… for once she felt for that woman…

************************************************************************

Ashok stood rooted to his spot. He had tried his best. He had to save his niece. He had to do something….

************************************************************************

“…Gaurav, please come home …as soon as possible. I have something to tell you… very important.” Ria frantically spoke to Gaurav on the phone on her way back home.

“…Ria…Ria…. relax sweetheart. I have a couple of meetings and then I will be home. Just about three hours from now……”

“…. But it’s dangerous and Abdul….”

“…Ria …RIA…Relax. Just go home and stay there. I have instructed Keith. He will be there with you, till I reach…. Ok?”

“…You don’t understand Gaurav….chitthappa said, Abdul….”

“…. RIA JUST STOP IT NOW… I have this under control Ok…? I want you to stop worrying. Just go home and relax….” Gaurav said sternly.

Ria was silently crying.

Ria…?” Gaurav sounded worried.

“…Um…yeah…ok. See you later.”

Ria was looking out of the car window even as Keith tried distracting her. Tears kept coming and her heart was thumping with worry.

Keith didn’t speak a word till they reached home. As soon as they were in, Keith locked the doors and activated the alarm. He got out his suitcase and typed some keys on the small keyboard. She heard some beeps. He then put on the headphones and sat on the couch. He gestured her towards him. She saw Manek on the split screen of Keith’s laptop. The next half an hour they discussed Abdul and their different options. She shared what she had learnt from her uncle. Keith and Manek didn’t seem surprised. But at the end of their conversation, she was a nervous wreck…. She longed to see Gaurav …to be held by him.

She excused herself and went into her room.

She was lost in thought when her phone buzzed indicating an incoming message.

 It was from Sujata. What the hell did she want now…?

“We have to meet TODAY”

Ria typed,

“No, we don’t. I am not going to be a part of this anymore.”

Sujata replied…

“I have Pooja with me.”

WHAT?

Ria shuddered. Why hadn’t they thought about her family? And… Pooja was pregnant… her heart was about to gallop out of her chest any moment. But then Sujata hadn’t sounded dangerous…in fact she had seemed concerned about Ria.

Ria went into her bathroom and called back on her number and Sujata immediately answered the call.

So …we will meet after all…” Sujata said chuckling.

Ria was angry and felt guilty as well…. Pooja was in danger because of her… was she? Her throat was choked with emotion. “… look Sujata, Just leave Pooja out of this. She has no connection to this in any manner…”

Oh…Just shut up Ria.” Sujata’s tone was different. “…I don’t care about anything. But if you want your sister safe, then meet me at my time and location…”

“Ok …ok…Fine…I will do as you say …but I need to confirm my sister is ok… please Sujata…” Ria said desperately.

I have sent you an email attachment. Take a look and call back” saying, she disconnected.

Ria came out of her bathroom and immediately booted her laptop. She was shaking with tension and was now worried sick about her sister. She soon opened her email and saw the attachment. She clicked on it after inserting headphones as she couldn’t risk Keith hearing anything. She gasped. Pooja was tied to a chair. She was unconscious but didn’t have any injury marks visible on the video… thank God… Ria prayed the baby was fine…. Her clothes were intact…thank God. The room was painted white and didn’t have any furniture except that chair. Ria checked the time on the video…it was taken half an hour ago.

She immediately went back to the bathroom and called Sujata.

Before she could say anything, Sujata abruptly said, “…Now…listen CAREFULLY. I am not going to repeat this. Tonight, come to the la Cordona on BG junction at 10PM sharp.  COME ALONE.  La Cordona is a huge boutique filled with people….MY people. Take a dress to try from Rack 8. Pick the black dress suit on the second row. Step into the trial room number 4 in the second row…  It has another door which opens in the corridor behind. There is a back door right in front. Wear the new dress suit. It has a stole with it. Cover your head and wear your sunglasses. You can escape the cameras and come to the waiting car outside. It’s a Black coloured Honda ascent. An important point for you…. Do NOT carry your mobile phone and Do not …I repeat…DO NOT try anything stupid or you won’t see your sister again. I will see to that….”

“…No no… no….Please don’t…. I will do as you have told. I swear…” the call was disconnected.

Ria stepped out the bathroom. Her hands were trembling as she placed her phone on the nightstand.

She had to do something… Gaurav would be at home at that time….how could she go out then…? She had only an hour or so… to plan before he arrived…and whatever she did now, she had to escape Keith. She started thinking…

Copyright Disclaimer: All content posted here is a work of fiction and original work based on the author’s imagination. There is no intention to disrespect any person or faith. Any resemblance to any person living or dead or any community is purely coincidental. No part of the content can be copied, reproduced or posted anywhere else either entirely or in parts, without the consent of the author.

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