This is Chapter 15 – Broken Dreams, Sleepless Nights. Read the previous chapters here.
Chapter1 – Room No 4
Chapter 2– Table No 4
Chapter 3– If Looks could Kill
Chapter 4– The Flower That Never Bloomed
Chapter 5 – The Elephant Parade
Chapter 6 – Chance Encounters and Changed Plans
Chapter 7 – Relationships
Chapter 8– When Dreams Come True
Chapter 9 – Runaway Brat
Chapter 10 – Where is Roohi ?
Chapter 11 -The Investigation
Chapter 12 -The Backstabber
Chapter 13– Breaking Bad
Chapter 14 – Mixed Feelings
“But first things first. Let me get you out of here.” If Tara felt even remotely remorseful for the way she had treated Shekhar, her face betrayed nothing. As placid as a frozen lake, she looked far too composed for a woman whose only child was missing.
It was easier said than done. Two days later, she walked into the main office of the jail, lawyer in tow furious. Her bail application had not been rejected, but neither had been accepted.
“I’ve come for my husband. I need to know why my husband is still in your custody even after my lawyer was here with all the necessary papers,” huffed Tara at the policeman who was busily poking in his ear with the nail of his little finger.
“Look memsaab, this is a police station. You cannot just walk in and shout at us. If your man is in the cell, it is because he has killed his daughter. He has even given a statement. You can leave now. Please.” The policeman rose from his chair and showed her the door. Through his gritted teeth, the ‘please’ sounded more like a threat than a request. She wanted to fight back, but her lawyer steered her out of the jail premises. Outside, she turned and looked at the brick and mortar edifice of the jail, which paint peeling and pan stains. I will be back, she promised herself.
The past few days of being held captive and the guilt of having hurt his own daughter haunted her husband, just as guilt haunted her. As the mother, she had easily escaped into her career and neglected her child. And Shekhar, not a shadow remained of the kind and gentle man who had given her support, love, understanding when she really needed it. When she had been used and thrown by … she shook her head to clear it of memories. No, Shekhar needed her. He had been there for her once. She had to be there for him.
A single tear escaped her eyes and she quickly wiped them off before anyone saw it. Be strong, Tara, for Roohi, for Shekhar, for yourself.
She drove to her office. There was nothing for her at home, it was empty, a shell, without its people. Be positive, she told herself as she walked into the hall. As she walked into the floor, there was a sudden quiet, an obvious sign that the subject of their talks had just walked in. She tried to ignore the questioning glances and swallowed the knowledge that she was probably the fodder for the rumour mills in the media house. She had jobs to do and files to submit before the day was over and Tara consciously tuned out of all that was happening around her.
She had a file that needed an ‘aye’ from the executive producer. The man was kind and unassuming. Tara usually looked up to his views on matters that confused her and decidedto get his opinion on the story she was working on right then. As she stood outside the Executive producer’s cabin waiting for him to hang up on the phone, she could feel the glares of the people around her.
“That’s the woman I was telling you about. Tara.”
“Ooooh the one who sent her husband to jail, right?”
“Yeah, she probably wants to get back together with DD.”
“I heard the senior positions are open in DDTN’s new channel. The vixen might have her eyes there. Just think, she would then have it all. DD and a high profile job.”
“Smart woman, our Tara madam. With her daughter and husband both out of the way …”
They laughed. One of them said, “But I can’t believe it. She loves the child, I know.”
Another said, “I heard that she applied for bail, but DD rang up the jail authorities and told them to withhold the bail.”
Tara was shell shocked. She was used to being hated. Other people’s opinions did not matter. But why would DD obstruct the bail petition?
Tara walked past the group, head held high. She went to the lift and took it up to the top-most floor where DD had his office. She stormed past the secretary to his office.
“Missing me?” Darius said, his tone flirtatious.
“Missing you my foot. How dare you interfere in my life you bloody bastard” her words spitting venom, Tara had no control over herself, “Why did you get my bail petition rejected?”
“Cool down Tara.”
“I will do no such thing. Why?”
“Listen Tara,” his voice suddenly very authoritative, “I have nothing to do with you or your family. All I want to ensure is my son’s safety. I don’t want his name to be dragged into all this muck.”
“Bbbut DD” Tara stuttered, not being able to express the angst she felt.
“No. You listen to me. This is your battle. You fight it Tara… Don’t come to me like a cry baby”
The ground span for a moment. She closed her eyes very tight. She said, “Oh yes, DD. I will fight it.” It shocked her that her voice was steady. “Your son … your son …”
She turned and left. She was beyond tears, beyond rage.
She knew what to do, she would do it at all costs. Whoever was playing this game was watching her. Tara knew that the next move was hers and she knew exactly what she would do. But to do that, she had to be calm.
Jennifer had finally agreed to go out with Cyrus again. Their last date had turned out to be a disaster and Cyrus wanted to ensure that she harboured no ill feelings towards him. He had booked a hotel near the Gateway and had arranged for dinner to be served in their room. He had a feeling she would want to spend a lot of time with him and he too wanted to make up for last time. The fact that he did not want to be seen by any of the policemen who might be around was another reason he had taken such a bold step and booked a room for both of them.
Jennifer was pleasantly surprised at the detailed plan Cyrus narrated to her over phone and had agreed to it immediately. The idea of having dinner in a closed room excited her and she felt a slight tingle at the nape of her neck. Dressed in a pink flowery short dress she looked yummy enough to eat and Cyrus decided he would have a tough time keeping his hands away from her.
Dinner was delicious; the drinks had made them slightly tipsy. Cyrus was in a very light and chatty mood. His hands felt warm against her bare skin as he traced the outline of her tattoo. The dim lights in the room added to the aura and Cyrus was completely captivated by the woman he saw Jennifer was. She seemed to have taken up the form of a temptress and Cyrus gave himself up in this cat and mouse game they were playing. They were glad they had each other for dessert.
As they lay there wrapped up in each other’s arms and blanketed in the hue of the dim lights in the room, Jennifer asked Cyrus about the health of his friend who had come gatecrashing on their previous date. They also spoke about Shekhar and his family. If she was too inquisitive about any of these, Cyrus was too drunk to notice.
A beep on his smart device had woken Malik up. He squinted his eyes as they tried to adjust to the bright screen of the device and decipher the message. Lonavla. A startled Malik began to pack his bags. Meanwhile, his brain continued to process the information he’d just received. Murdering a little girl in Lonavla would be easy, but transporting the child from Mumbai would have been a daunting task especially since the security and checking of the vehicles had been beefed up. Something kept telling him that this was not a bite meant for him, but not wishing to leave anything to chances, he had come running. His hunch was right, this was not the child he was looking for. He knew sleep would not come to him tonight easily, his thoughts kept wandering between the missing Roohi and his own daughter sleeping comfortably with his sensible wife.
Now read Chapter 16 here.