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Secret Passion 1-6

By: TINA! & Satina

A new collaboration on ArHi of course. Basically, forget about the family-friendly, disneyfied StarPlus version of IPKKND. This is the HBO version.. the true ASR and KKG.. 

How had her life come to this? wondered Khushi Kumari Gupta.
How had Arnav Singh Raizada taken over everything so completely?
She could not escape his pull. His aura clung to her.. his smoldering gaze plagued her every thought.. She had vowed to hate him. But how could she when he was not just her boss but so much more..Would this secret passion change her forever?
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Also Note: I've added the 'follow by email' option on the desktop view. But this does not always work so I would still check back regularly. I might have updated:) 

SECRET PASSION--03/24/2013

By: TINA! & Satina

A new collaboration on Arnav & Khushi of course. Basically, forget about the family-friendly, disneyfied StarPlus version of IPKKND. This is the HBO version.. the true ASR and KKG..

How had her life come to this? wondered Khushi Kumari Gupta.
How had Arnav Singh Raizada taken over everything so completely?
She could not escape his pull. His aura clung to her.. his smoldering gaze plagued her every thought.. She had vowed to hate him. But how could she when he was not just her boss but so much more..Would this secret passion change her forever?

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NOTE: there are other minor characters. But the story revolves around mainly Arnav and Khushi
Khushi Kumari Gupta-- 22 years old and brimming with youth, laughter, and beauty, Khushi arrives in Delhi hoping to forget a certain man she met in Lucknow. But of course nothing goes as planned. Forced to strike a deal with her new boss, she is torn between her heart and her mind. Will she be the one to penetrate the walls that surround his stone heart?
Arnav Singh Raizada-- the handsome 28-year-old self-made CEO of AR Designs. Ruthless, cold, and temperamental he shuns love and romance. If you are looking for flirty Nanav or loving Arnav look elsewhere (we recommend Mind Games or Shameless) because in Secret Passion, he is all ASR. Love him or hate him, the choice is yours. Because he doesn’t give a damn. He gets his way. Period. 
Secret Passion
By: TINA! & Satina
Episode 1: His Hot Gaze
"Fried rice for me today! What did you bring?" asked one of the girls beside her between spoonfuls. "Jalebis again?"
Khushi nodded, her mouth opening to respond. But just then everything changed.
The table and all those surrounding it seemed to fade. The air seemed to vibrate.
He was near, she realized. Her palms felt clammy, her heart stilled.
And then through the floor to ceiling glass doors, a tall, commanding shape entered. One that she recognized only too well.
His eyes found her at once.
She sat as if struck under that heated glare. Tension brewed between them even from across the crowded room: thick and numbing.
Despite all her reluctance, she couldn't help but trace over his crisp navy blue designer suit, her body clenching with sudden nervousness. It killed her to admit that he was undeniably handsome--almost sinfully so. His sharp features were chiseled as if from stone; a slight stubble covered his cheekbones and chin, while his midnight black hair was perfectly trimmed and gelled back.
He shot one more very thorough look at her, his lips thinning. And then without a word, turned on his heel, marching out of the cafeteria.
Khushi expelled the breath she hadn't realized she was holding. Maybe he wouldn't call her today after all. An odd mix of relief and disappointment curled within her, but she banished it away. She hated him! Hated him!
And yet, she found herself thinking of him all over again. Why? Why did he have such a grip on her mind? Was she losing everything to him now?
"Ms. Gupta," interrupted a quiet voice at her elbow.
It was his right hand man, dressed in a somber gray suit. He was someone she routinely passed in the office, but had hardly ever spoken to.
"Mr. ASR wants to see you in his cabin," stated Aman, his face expressionless. "He said: it's urgent."
Khushi gulped, her pulse racing as her friends around the table all frowned.
"Again?" asked one, her eyebrows arching with disbelief.
"What is that man's problem? Why doesn't he even let poor Khushi eat in peace?"
"Tell him she's busy, Aman and will come after lunch."
But almost at once another girl questioned: "Are you sure? ASR is our boss. What if it really is something important?"
"He can wait!" screeched the first, fuming outright.
Ignoring the protests, Khushi got up shakily, excusing herself. By now she'd learnt it was best not to stir his wrath. The last thing she needed was another reprimand from him.
How had her life come to this?
But one ill-fated night had changed everything. All because of a simple mix-up.. Her memories remained crystal-clear even a month after they had passed, almost as if it had only been last night and she was still in Lucknow, blissfully ignorant of the storm that was about to hit her life:
She was dancing, her face rosy from laughter as she spun in her sparkling green lehenga choli. It was her dear cousin's wedding and the groom's family was due to arrive any moment.

But then she noticed her aunt's worried face: she looked pale and unwell.
Khushi froze, hurrying through the throng of guests to reach her. "What is it?" she asked.
Her aunt could barely answer. She pulled her aside, whispering, "Payal's in-laws found out about.. about her past. They say now she won't be an ideal daughter-in-law. I think they won't.. won't come.." Tears streaked across her face as she spoke, but she brushed them hastily away, conscious of the gathered crowd.
"What! But we told them everything--we hid nothing." Outrage and shock swelled in Khushi. She grasped her aunt's trembling hand in both of hers. "There must be some small misunderstanding. I'll go to them right away. I'll plead if I have to, but Jiji will get married. I promise you, she will."
Without waiting for a reply, she ran out the door, her lehenga clenched in her fists.
"Bitiya, don't!"
She could hear voices yelling after her, but she never turned back. She couldn't let Payal's marriage fall apart before it had even begun.
Looking back, Khushi couldn't help but feel that maybe she should have stopped. Maybe she should have asked her aunt for the exact address at the very least.
But she'd had a vague idea of where her cousin's dull-faced fiance lived and in that panic-filled moment, that had been more than enough. Worry gnawed in her gut as she hurried through Lucknow's bustling streets. As she'd arrived at the residential lane, she'd run inside a brightly-lit gate, absently noting the surrounding trees decked with white lights. It had to be the groom's house.
She never once even considered it being anything else. Her eyes completely skipped over the elegantly scripted sign at the entrance: 'AR Design's Annual Bridal Show. Guests Only.'
And just like that, everything had gone wrong.
She could still recall the blinding beam of the spotlights, the frantic galloping of her heartbeat as she gazed at the sea of unfamiliar faces, horror-stricken. What had followed had been even worse: a fall, a heated argument, a broken dori, and the echoing ring of a slap.
She purposely avoided thinking about him. The man who had risen from the sidelines, his hand clenching around his wine glass as his eyes blazed with fury.. The one who had caught her mid-fall, his hold hard and unyielding around her slim, chiffon-draped form..
She forced the memories away.
Because now it was time. She could no longer ignore him.
Her heart sank as it always did as she took the stairs to his lavish office. Her body trembled with anxiety. It had been one month and yet even now, it felt like it was her first time. Thankfully, no was around to observe her. The office was empty as everyone hurried for lunch. She was so intent on controlling her shifting emotions, she never noticed the dark, angry eyes watching her every move from the floor above.
The gleaming glass doors of his cabin greeted her almost mockingly. They showed her a blurry image of herself: thin and willowy as she stood in her plain cotton salwar kameez, her long hair braided behind her. Her face had whitened several shades from its natural honey hue; she looked about as sick as she felt.
She took a deep, steadying breath, her eyes closing. She could delay no more. He was waiting for her. Her right hand cautiously rose, knocking on the glass door.
"Come in, Ms. Gupta," called Arnav Singh Raizada, his voice all-business. He set his laptop aside on the massive mahogany desk, reclining back in his leather chair.
She tried to act brave as she always did as she walked in, but one glance at those razor-sharp brown eyes and she knew he could read her. He was always a step ahead.
How would she ever beat him?
"You're late," he told her, his lips twisting into a frown.
As she remained silent, refusing to answer, his frown deepened. His burning gaze never left her as he pressed a button on the wood desk. Thick, gray curtains at once slid across the glass windows, sealing them in darkness. Another push of a small button and the door automatically locked behind her, clicking into place. That faint sound bit into her, but he never paused. "You know how much I hate delays, don't you?"
She nodded. She had learned a lot about ASR's likes and dislikes over the course of the month. Things she had never imagined...
A smirk played on his lips. "Good."
His low, husky voice had the desired effect. A quivering took over her. Instinctively, she wrapped her arms around her waist, her eyes fluttering close. How had this become a part of her life? How had he managed to take over everything?
But she didn't have even a moment to think. Because just then his lips crashed down on hers, taking kiss after kiss.
With the sleekness of a panther, he had crossed to her, dragging her into his arms.  She had not even heard his footsteps. Khushi whimpered as he ravaged her mouth. She should have been used to his touch by now but she was not. Nothing could have prepared her for his hard embrace, his tongue plunging boldly into her mouth.
His touch made her long to forget everything. Her hands shook from the mounting need to wrap around him and draw him closer. But she resisted--as always.
Arnav chuckled sarcastically as he dropped open-mouthed kisses down her neck, throwing her dupatta to the carpeted floor. "Still fighting me?"
She shook her head. More than him, it was her own body's traitorous pull that threatened to destroy her every plan.
His expression shifted into a not-so-amused snarl. His eyes darkened with fury. Those lips that she knew so well compressed.
"Undress," came the command.
That single word, edged with steel-like harshness, shook her to the core.
Khushi didn't even bother arguing. But her eyes spit fire at him. Her fingers fumbled with the small dori at the back of her neck. As the knot gave, she couldn't help but glance at him.
He sat casually on the edge of his work desk, his gaze arrogant and sizzling. How she hated him! Ever since their paths had crossed in Lucknow. Twice they had met and fought until he'd found the ultimate way to seek his revenge.
"Hurry up," he growled as her hands hesitated on the lace-embroidered hem. Khushi closed her eyes and then with a visible cringe, drew the cloth over her head. A few more tugs and pulls and she stood before him, completely bare.
Arnav smirked as he rose, stalking closer. He laid a single finger over her lips, feeling the plump softness there before tracing down her throat and lower along the midline of her body. Khushi bit down on her bottom lip to hold back the moan that threatened as he touched her so intimately. His hand traveled back up her length, this time fisting in her hair.
"Undo the braid."
She shivered as she tugged off the hair tie. Sliding her hair over one shoulder, she roughly combed through the long curls using her fingers. He watched her silently, his gaze so heated, her toes curled on the carpet. Her heart raced.
He made fast work of his own clothes and then he was on her, his lips hard and demanding.
Khushi lost herself as soon as he touched her. It was always like this. Try as she might, the moment she felt him, her mind turned to mush. All the hatred she had for him seemed irrelevant as a much stronger and deeper emotion took over.
His hands were skillful as he pulled her down to the floor. He was adamantly persistent as he molded her to his liking, touching her with unashamed possession. Khushi lay against the carpet, writhing uncontrollably but he was not yet done. There was a moment of pause as he lifted slightly off of her, balancing himself on his forearms and Khushi knew this was the time to push him away. He was giving her the chance to refuse--just like every time.
But her hands had a mind of their own. They wrapped around his lower back, the nails digging in. She pulled him back down on top her, moaning at the feel of him. He groaned with satisfaction, lapping her breast with his tongue in reward.
She cried out, her hands fisting in his hair. She drew him closer as he tugged and pulled on her, his teeth nipping. "Please," she murmured, thrashing beneath him. "Please..."
He smirked against her softness. She could sense his triumph. How she hated him! More than anyone she had ever met!
And then as he finally gave her what they both wanted and passion exploded as if uncorked, Khushi could do nothing but moan his name. Over and over again. Her lips peppered kisses across his shoulder as she held tight, gripping his slick muscles. Her mouth clamped down on the skin there as he took her again and again. Waves of pleasure crashed into them, explosive and almost volatile.
Later, as Khushi lay there utterly spent, his warm, hard body pressing down on hers, she hated him even more. How could he keep doing this to her? He knew how her body reacted to him and every time, he used it to his advantage. Even the first time he'd touched her, it had been she who had urged him on, demanding something she only vaguely understood.
One month had passed and she was more his than ever before. ASR had promised to return her family's property papers and settle Payal's marriage in exchange for a month of endless passion with her. She had of course thrown his offer in his face, screaming at his immoral suggestion.
But he'd been ruthless, unflinchingly cold and calculative. And so exactly 24 hours later, she had returned to him, feeling about as low as the belly of a snake. Her hands had been tied. There was no option but to negotiate with the man she absolutely loathed. She had agreed to his demands, but on one condition.
He'd heard her out, but that one condition had cost her-- a lot.
Because instead of one month, she had agreed to no set time limit.
And so Khushi lay without protest beneath ASR, her body still enveloping his. How cruel was fate to bind her to this man...
"I hate you," she told him as he finally let her up, her eyes flashing.
He grabbed her, his touch possessive on her hips as he pushed her against the wall--hard. His dark eyes glittered in the dim light. "Not as much as I hate you."
Their gazes met and fought.
His hands released her as he abruptly turned away. "Now get back to work, Ms. Gupta. You have a several tasks to complete, starting today."
Khushi's eyebrows rose with confusion. Tasks? What did that mean? What was ASR planning?
But he only stared right back at her, his expression stone-like. He revealed nothing.
Secret Passion by TINA! & Satina
Episode 2: Her Bottom Lip
Arnav's eyes sizzled to coal black as he watched Khushi hurry out of his cabin, as if the devil was chasing her. It took everything in him not to call her back and shout at her for a good fifteen minutes or so. Maybe then something would sink into that stubborn head of hers.
Why the hell did she insist on behaving this same ridiculous way every time? Running out as if they'd done something wrong and unspeakable. Damn it, they were both adults. Adults who had just shared mind-blowing passion. Why was she so scared to face that truth?
A small part of him though understood. His lips twisted. True they had not met in the best circumstances. But, hell, he thought, running a hand through his cropped hair, he'd never forced anything on her. She wanted him--every time. She was just as wild as him as soon he had her out of her demure clothes and the middle class sensibilities that clung to them.
That odd mix of innocence and fire in Khushi Kumari Gupta had caught his attention right from that first meeting. His eyes unfocused as he recalled the past:
Fury, red hot and overwhelming, pulled at his control. His hand tightened around the girl's thin wrist. She tried to tug herself free, futile as the effort was, pleading behind him.
"Please.. It was just a mistake.. Let go!"
He ignored her, dragging her inside an empty room. With a curse, he pulled her against him.
She clearly did not. The Annual Bridal Show was the highlight event for AR Designs and her entry and subsequent fall had ruined the evening. It had cost him millions in profits, but more importantly, given his rivals a talking point.
And ASR was not used to anything but success.
But Khushi did not seem to understand the severity of her childish actions. Their argument had gotten heated quickly. He'd ripped off her pearl dori in a moment of unchecked rage, the beads crashing to the floors below.
Her face had reddened with sudden anger; her eyes had spewed venom at him. And then without warning, she'd slapped him: hard and quick across the face.
It had been his last straw. He had vowed to make Khushi Kumari Gupta pay for her sheer audacity.
It had been easy for him to extract his revenge. A simple background check into Khushi's life had revealed everything: an uncle struggling to make ends meet, a cousin whose marriage seemed doomed from the start, and an ailing aunt in Delhi.
And yet even that had not been enough. He had wanted more. Arnav had never been one to deny what he wanted. And from that initial encounter, he'd wanted her.
Those huge brown eyes glittering with anger, the reddish tinge staining her cheeks and the tops of her breasts had never left him.
And so he had arranged everything to get her. And like always, he had won.
Except for her damn condition.
It was the first time ASR had bowed down to anyone, but he'd made a careful decision as usual, weighing the pros and cons. It was just a business deal as far as he was concerned.
But even now, after a month of blazing hot, intense passion, he still could not get enough. She was like an addiction.  One that he had to have, again and again.
Khushi Kumari Gupta--how much he hated her. For ruining everything, for intruding into his life like a storm. But mostly he hated her for turning away from him every time, for making him feel emotions he'd thought long-dead.
"ASR?" called a soft, alluring voice from the doorway. It was one of the secretaries, Lavanya, dressed in a white blouse and bright green mini-skirt.
"What is it?" he snapped, turning back to his laptop.
Her heels strutted closer. She bent down, giving him an eyefull.
"The meeting starts in five minutes," she said in a sultry tone.
"I'll meet you there." His words were dismissive and cold, but she ignored it.
"ASR.." she continued, leaning toward him. "There's a party at Indigo tonight. Would you like to come with me?"
Arnav frowned as he stared up at her. Lavanya was beautiful no doubt and that flirty glint in her eyes promised a lot more than just a few shared dances tonight. She was offering everything--without any damn deals or conditions.
He hated to admit that he was not even the least bit interested. In fact, just the thought of being intimate with her was enough to leave a distasteful taste in his mouth.
"Leave," he whispered, his hands clenching into fists.
Her eyes widened. "What? ASR, are you sure?"
"Unlike you clearly, I have a job to do," he said, settling back in his chair with an innate, athletic grace. "Now get back to your desk."
Lavanya gazed at him for a moment longer with that same wide-eyed look of disbelief and then tossing her hair over one shoulder, scurried out.
Arnav cursed as he leaned back. What the hell was wrong with him? So now he wanted no woman on the goddamn planet except for that stubborn, middle-class Gupta? A woman who hated him just as much as he hated her?
His eyes closed as he took a deep breath. At once, her image came to him: her eyes sparkling with fiery passion as she stood before him with her hands on her hips. Her teeth bit into her plump bottom lip to keep from shouting at him.
Arnav's swore as his eyes blinked open. Dammit but he wanted her--on the floor, on his lap, in a bed, anywhere--as long as she was there.
He picked up the phone, dialing the first number on speed dial.
"Aman, tell Ms. Gupta she must attend the board meeting today. It's an order."
Task one was about to begin...
Khushi was one of the last people to arrive at the meeting. The boardroom was almost full to capacity by now.
She paused at the threshold with uncharacteristic hesitance, her eyes going immediately to the head of the table: Arnav Singh Raizada sat talking with some business associates. His head was angled away from her, but she could make out his dark stubble, that masculine jawline, and the faint outline of his lips.
A vivid memory of that mouth on her most intimate of places washed over her, making her quiver outright.
His eyes rose up just then. Their gazes met and held. Something seemed to spark between them as always.
His lips tipped up slightly in that knowing, pompous smirk, as if he had sensed her response to him. As if he knew her body inside and out--which he did, Khushi hated to admit.
"Ms. Gupta," called Aman, rising from his seat near the door. "You will sit over there." He pointed to the chair closest to the podium.
Khushi sighed with relief. She would be all the way at the other end of the table--as far as possible from that ASR. She smiled at Aman brightly as she passed, completely missing the way Arnav's grip on his pen tightened to almost breaking point.
The presentation was long and boring. And to Khushi, it seemed almost deliberately torturous.
Her mind was elsewhere and her stomach growled every now and then. She'd missed her lunch thanks to ASR, she recalled.
Jalebies, piping hot, and dripping with sweet syrup came to her mind... She licked her lips, losing herself in a sugar-filled daydream.
Arnav had never been so distracted during a meeting. He sat unmoving in his leather-backed chair as the speaker droned on about the growth in the commercial sector.
It was all her damn fault--as always!
He couldn't take his gaze off her in the semi-dark room. She kept licking her lips and smiling bemusedly. That bottom lip of hers tormented him, driving past his control.
Heat shot through him as she bit down on its fullness, nibbling slightly. He had tasted her sweetness so many times in the past month that he'd lost count, but suddenly he wanted nothing more than to grab her tight against him and kiss her wildly.  It was as if he had an unquenchable thirst.
But Khushi seemed to not realize how she was toying with his control. And then as she slowly opened her mouth and closed her eyes in an almost moment of ecstasy, he'd had enough.
He pushed a button on the monitor and the lights flickered to life overhead. As everyone turned to him with confused faces, including Ms. Oh-so-innocent Gupta, he barked: "Meeting over."
Without a word, he stomped out.
Khushi's eyebrows furrowed as she watched him storm out with that usual commanding, powerful air.
"What's wrong with ASR today?" Lavanya Kashyap murmured to some of her friends. "Why is he behaving this way?"
Part of Khushi wanted to request Lavanya to please tell her the answer if she ever figured that riddle out. Because she'd spent a month now with the man, and she still couldn't understand him, not even a bit. He was a complete mystery to her.  
But she resisted the urge to speak up, shrugging as she walked out. Who cared about what went on inside Arnav Singh Raizada's mind anyway? Certainly not her.
Turning a corner, she wondered if the jalebis in her lunchbox would still be edible or a soggy mess when a hard hand suddenly seized her.
It wrapped around her wrist, pulling her roughly inside a small room. She automatically raised her hand, ready to slap the offender.
But Arnav had never been one to be caught off-guard twice. His free hand stopped her mid-air, his grip tightening.  Bodily, he pushed her against the locked door, his body covering hers. Without explanation, he reached for her hair tie, unfurling her long mass of hair.
"What are you doing?" she whispered furiously, using her fists against his crisp navy blue suit.
His eyes glittered down at her, darkening. He leaned closer, his body flush to hers.
Khushi's heart skipped a beat as she noticed that look in his gaze. "A-again?" she stammered, shocked to the core.
He set one of his long fingers over her mouth in answer, shushing her. He touched that softness that had tortured him throughout the endless meeting.
She froze, losing herself in his dark, penetrating gaze.
His finger retracted as swiftly as it had come. But before Khushi could question him, he placed his lips on that same spot, sucking on her bottom lip heatedly.
Khushi moaned at the first contact. Every instinct she had told her to shove him away, but she could not. It was as if her body was not under her control, but his.
Her fingers rifled into his wavy hair as he drew her closer for a more thorough kiss. His taste was sweeter than any jalebi she'd ever had.
Their tongues met and entangled as he lifted her up by her bottom, dragging her hard against his front. Her legs automatically wrapped around his waist, pressing urgently. It was as if she could not get close enough either. He groaned in approval, moving relentlessly against her.
And just like that their passion--inexplicable and uncontrollable--roared to life. They fought and caressed, kissed and nipped.
"Tell me you want me," he ordered against her breasts, his mouth wetting the fabric.
Khushi could hardly think let alone speak. All she could focus on was him: hard and masculine as he pushed against her. The heat of his mouth seared through her top and deeper still through skin and beyond.
"Tell me," he growled again. His hand slipped inside her neckline, gripping tightly. "Tell me!"
She thrashed against him, earning another squeeze. "I... I want--"
Some English song Khushi didn't recognize suddenly sounded. It broke the passionate moment between them. Her eyes widened with horror as she focused on her precarious position in his arms. She tried to move away, but he wouldn't let her.
Her back ground into the door as he kept them braced against the door, her legs wrapped around his waist still. She had no choice but to grip his shoulders. His dark eyes remained locked with hers as he answered his ringing phone, one of his long fingers idly caressing her shamelessly protruding nipple.
"WHAT?" he barked.
Khushi cringed at his tone. The voice on the other end hesitated and then spoke, the exact words muffled.
"This better be good, Aman," snapped Arnav as he turned off the call.
They gazed at each other for a long moment, their breathing slowly getting back under control. And then he set her back down, her body gliding over his as their chests and hips aligned. Leaning forward, he kissed her heatedly, as if he owned her, his tongue plunging deep. And then without a word, he threw open the door and stalked out.
Khushi sagged against the wall, her eyes fluttering close. What was happening? Why did she keep forgetting how much she hated that man?
A stack of files as tall as a third of her height was waiting for Khushi as she returned to her desk. She still felt shaken; her pulse raced even now. She'd washed her face and braided her hair for some semblance of control, but she still could not forget his embrace.
A sticky note on the topmost file read: Boss wants these all done by tonight. --Aman.
Khushi groaned as she sank into her chair. Could this day get any worse? Her phone rang just then.
"WHAT?" she said in a very convincing mimicry of ASR from moments ago.
"Uhh... Sanka Devi? Is that you?"
"Buaji!" Khushi sat straighter in her seat, her eyes rounding. "I'm so sorry, Buaji. I thought you were this rude--"
"Never mind," interrupted her aunt, sighing. "I just wanted to speak with you, Sanka Devi. It's been so long. We live in the same city and you hardly come to visit me."
Khushi grimaced. "I know, Buaji, but the apartment is closer to the office, remember?"
"Yes, but it's still not right. You should be staying with family--not all alone."
"I'll come to visit you," promised Khushi. "Happy now?"
"Very! You better not make any excuses this time. Now tell me, are you eating properly?  You've gotten so skinny and pale lately. And getting enough sleep?"
"Of course," Khushi said in a bit too loud, unconvincing voice. She'd always been a hopelessly rotten liar.
Buaji clucked her tongue in disapproval. "What is wrong with you, Khushi? Even when I last saw you, you were so glum and quiet. Where has your spunk gone? Where has my niece gone?"
To ASR's bed, Khushi thought in her head. She didn't know what to tell her aunt. The lies and secrets had taken a toll on her.
"Umm... Buaji, I have a lot of work right now. I'll call you back, okay?"
"Fine, Sanka Devi. Take care."
Khushi had just hung up the call when a large book--thicker than any she had ever read--plopped down on her work desk.
"Dictionary?" read Khushi aloud, gazing up at Aman with confusion.
He didn't reply, pointing to the attached note.
Khushi watched him go with a frown, reading the folded message quickly: The letter 'A' has a lot of meaning in your life now. Task: Write down all the words that begin with 'A'. --ASR
Khushi read it again and then thrice just to make sure. He couldn't possibly be asking her to copy from the dictionary!
"Who the hell does he think he is? That pompous, arrogant--"
"Ms. Gupta," interrupted a cool voice behind her, flinging the word out like a taunt.
She froze, her eyes widening.
But she had not imagined it.
Arnav stalked to the front of her desk, glaring at her. "For the record: I know exactly who I am. Now, get to work!" he barked.
Khushi fought the urge to fling the dictionary at him. But that stupid contract between them restricted her. She plopped back in her spot, flipping the thick volume open.
And then as she wrote down the words, her aunts words echoed in her ears: "Where has your spunk gone? Where has my niece gone?"
Khushi's eyes sparkled as she suddenly grinned. Enough was enough. It was time to get back at that ASR.
Exactly three hours later, Khushi handed over to Aman all her work before quickly exiting AR Designs. It was late and most of the office was already empty.
Arnav watched her go from the second floor with a hooded gaze.
"Set it on the table," he told Aman minutes later as he arrived with the mountain of folders.
As soon as his assistant was gone, he took his seat behind the mahogany desk. Casually flipping open the first file she'd sent, he expected to see the first task completed. But what he saw startled him. He froze for a second.
Just as he'd requested, she'd listed down all the words that began with 'A' but she'd gone another step and bolded and highlighted a few choice words.
Annoyance, arrogant, ass, awful, ape, etc. stood out starkly from the rest.
He almost grinned. Finally a worthy opponent. Who would win: ASR or KKG?
Tomorrow he'd give her another task, something even more impossible, he decided.
A smirk brightened his face as he imagined it: A photoshoot sounded perfect...
Secret Passion by TINA and Satina
Episode 3: Itsy-Bitsy Red Bikini
It was raining quite heavily the next day. Khushi arrived at AR Designs extra early, shivering as she pushed open the heavy glass doors at the main entrance. The office was surprisingly empty even though a quick glance at the clock showed that she was just thirty minutes early.  A few of her coworkers nodded to her as they passed by, remarking about the terrible weather outside.
Her teeth chattered as she pulled close her oddly angled, polka-dotted umbrella. The stupid contraption had come apart at the last moment so now she stood completely drenched. Wrapping her hands around her mane of hair, she wrung it out, combing through the wet strands.
And then through the sting of the ice-cold rain, she felt something... Something that made her eyes close, her pulse pick up speed.
"You're late," snapped a familiar voice behind her, edged with steel.
She whirled around, her eyes widening as she found him almost pressed to her.
Immediately she backed away.
Arnav's eyes blazed at her. His lips compressed into a thin, disapproving line. She could very well read the billowing rage in his tense form. Only days ago, that seething gaze would have been enough to rend her silent. But now it caused a swell of her own fury to burst forth. How dare he behave this way? She'd just arrived! And it was she--not him--who had good reason to be angry.
"I'm actually early, Mr. ASR," she said coolly, her hands rising to cross over her chest. "Maybe you should check your watch once before you accuse someone."
His eyes narrowed at her tone. Ever since they'd signed the contract and she'd willingly fallen into his hard, passionate embrace, she had been unnaturally submissive and quiet. But now on this somber, rainy morning he was faced with the same feisty spitfire he vividly recalled from Lucknow. What the hell had changed? Would he ever understand her? he wondered. Part of him though didn't want to question it. This was what attracted him to her the most: that righteous attitude, that stubborn tilt to her chin, those fiery eyes.
"And maybe you should get it in your head that I'm always right, Ms. Gupta. You're going to be late," he insisted, his gaze raking over her wet form from head to toe--very thoroughly.
Her body hummed under that intense appraisal, responding as if he'd touched her intimately. A throbbing took over. But she fought to ignore it, focusing on his firm words. Her eyebrows furrowed.
"What does that even mean?"
He smirked at her. "You can't come to my office dressed like that. I make no exceptions for my employees. Not even you, Ms. Gupta."
"Dressed like what? My clothes are perfectly fine!" she exclaimed, indignation coloring her cheeks with rosiness.
He leaned close, his mouth almost touching her ear. Khushi slightly swayed on her heels as his crisp business suit brushed against her skin, his masculine cologne enveloping her like a warm, enticing blanket. When he spoke his voice was as hard and cold as the storm brewing outside. "You cannot come here looking like that: your clothes dripping wet and clinging, your hair askew, and your skin all flush. You look like you just stepped out of my bed."
Khushi's eyes widened. It was the first time either one of them had mentioned their relationship so openly. Anger swelled in her at his blunt words.
"How dare you! What if someone hears you?" she whispered furiously, gazing about. But the office remained largely empty. The few employees who had come early appeared busy in their cubicles, not even paying attention.
"I don't give a damn to anyone," he replied crossly. "Now, come on." Grabbing her by the wrist, he led her through a side door and down a long, empty hallway.
"Let go!" she screeched, tugging in his hold to no avail.
He shook his head, his grip tightening. "I didn't let go of you in Lucknow, what makes you think I'll do that here? You should know me better than that, Ms. Gupta."
Without waiting for her retort, he threw open a door. Khushi's eyes widened as she followed him in. They were in one of the studios. This one was filled with clothes, camera and spotlights. From what Khushi had heard, a photoshoot was scheduled to take place there later today.
Arnav let go of her hand abruptly, heading toward a rack of clothes. Khushi almost darted back out the door. But something made her pause. As much as she wished it were not so, she was drawn to him. His hold on her made her teeth grind together. And so she stood near the doorway, half-torn--as always.
"Here." Her threw something red-colored toward her. She caught it in her hands, staring down at the chiffon saree perplexed.
"Change," ASR ordered, his eyes hard and unreadable.
She wanted to refuse, but her body betrayed her just then, shivering visibly. A sneeze escaped her.
His eyebrow cocked as she remained unmoving. "Did you not hear me?" he asked, appearing unamused. "Change this minute or I will do it for you."
Khushi frowned at him, her fiery gaze fighting with his silently. And then with a huff, she turned toward the large changing screen in the corner.
His hands landed on her waist, molding against the curve of her hip with tantalizing slowness. Her chest heaved, her eyes closed as his hands lingered across her, knowing just where to touch. But then he spoke, his voice harsh and distinctly husky: "Why can't you change in front of me, Khushi? I've seen, touched and tasted every inch of you."
His arrogant words had her seeing red. She pushed him back, stepping out of his hold with a toss of her wet hair. Water droplets flew across his face, glinting in the dim light. 
"I vowed to share your bed, not change in front of you," she bit out with unrestrained fury.
Arnav's lips twisted at her logic.
"Maybe you've forgotten," he murmured darkly. "Try to remember Khushi. The exact clause was clear-cut..."
And despite everything telling her not to, memories flashed past her, throwing her to the past even as thunder sounded outside.
Khushi was holding her sobbing cousin in her arms. Her aunts sat in the other room, their faces drained of all color. Her uncle was still pleading with the groom's family outside, his voice desperate as it filtered through the half-open window.
"Khushi?" asked Payal between hiccups. Her mehndi-adorned hands grabbed hers. "Did you speak to Ajay? Did you meet him?"
Khushi shook her head, her heart twisting as her cousin's face fell. She couldn't tell her that instead of her in-law's house she'd wandered into some fashion show, ruining everything.
His dark, angry image came to her mind instantly. A shudder racked her as she thought of the rich man. Never had she met someone so cold and ruthless, someone so emotionless.
"Jiji, everything will be okay... please don't give up."
Payal cried harder, shaking her head. "There's no hope left. My marriage will not happen--everything's over now."
Khushi had been about to argue when her phone suddenly rang. The screen flashed in large, block letters: 'Private Caller.'
Hushing her cousin, she walked to the window, her voice barely above a soft whisper: "Hello?"
"Khushi Kumari Gupta?" asked a hard, business-like voice.
She recognized him instantly. The man who'd screamed at her... who'd ripped her dori... the one she'd slapped. "You!"
She could sense his smirk. "Yes, it's me: ASR."
"Why are you calling me?" she whispered hurriedly. "Look, if this is about your show, I told you it was just a mistake. I'll repay the damages."
"Repay?" He chuckled darkly. "How the hell can a girl with your background and class even dream to repay me? What are you going to do? Win the goddamn lottery or rob a bank?"
Her temper snapped. Slipping into the empty hallway outside, she replied angrily, "Then why are you calling me? Does Mr. Rich and Powerful ASR have nothing better to do?"
The silence on the line crackled with tension.
"I want to make a deal with you," he finally declared, his tone reminding her of granite.
"Well, I don't want to talk to you ever again, let alone make any deal with you. Don't call me again!" she warned, disconnecting the call.
The phone buzzed a second later.
"How dare you hang up on me, Khushi Kumari Gupta! Do you even know who I am?"
She shook her head. "No, and nor do I want to find out. Stop calling me!"
"Fine," he replied, his voice harsh to her ears. "But then keep watching your uncle beg and plead... your cousin cry... She's as good as a sister to you, isn't she?"
Her eyes rounded. "How? How do you know all that?"
"Everyone in Lucknow knows. But despite everything you did to me, I can fix your problems. Your cousin can be married... your family happy..."
She clutched the phone closer. "How? And why would you of all people want to help me?" There had to be a catch.
"I can't disclose that over the phone," he replied smoothly. "Come here and read my terms and conditions for yourself. The contract is waiting for you." The call cut without warning.
Khushi had not known what to do. She never wanted to see that heartless man--ASR--ever again but now it was he who promised to fix everything. He was the only person right now giving her something she herself was on the verge of losing: hope. It would be a fair deal, she decided in the end, she would not take his charity.
And so she'd sneaked out of the house and arrived at his texted address, her heart thundering in her chest the entire way. He'd been waiting for her, sitting in his study as if it just was another ordinary meeting. Only his choice of clothes indicated it was from that. She highly doubted he'd meet his business clients in loose fitted black pants and a satin, burgandy robe that left most of his chest exposed. She tore her gaze from those exposed muscles, wondering why the sight affected her so. So what if he was handsome, almost devastatingly so? Beyond his good looks, this man was pure evil and she could not afford to forget that.
"What's the deal?" she asked a bit breathlessly.
He watched her closely, his hawk-like eyes tracing over her. Without a word, he picked up a manila folder, handing it over.
Opening the document, Khushi's face had furrowed.
"I'll have your sister's wedding completed and even get your family's mortgaged property returned, but I do nothing for free. I am a businessman after all and a very successful one at that."
He explained nothing else, and Khushi had been left to silently read the contract he'd drawn up.
"What do you want in exchange?" she asked, struggling through the legal jargon.
His lips curled. "Page 10."
She'd flipped to that page, her body stilling as she read aloud the agreement, stated in blunt terms.
"I, Khushi Kumari Gupta, agree without force or compulsion to... to pleasure Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada in all ways for exactly 30 days. I will--"
She could read no more. Her shocked gaze rose to him, sure there must be some mistake. But he just stared back at her, his gaze unmistakably condescending. Fury, hot and intense had enveloped her. Maybe he had no morals, but she did! With a swipe, she flung the papers in his face.
"How despicable are you?" she asked, stunned. "You're the last man on earth I'd ever want. I hate you!"
Khushi could still remember hurrying out of his luxurious study, her body shaking.  She'd thought that would be the end of ASR in her life. How wrong she'd been...
Exactly 24 hours later, she'd been back, ready to negotiate with him. And for her one condition, it had cost her everything. The 'exactly 30 days' had been edited out and replaced with 'as long as he so desires'.
"Remember?" Arnav all but purred, drawing her to the present. "You agreed to pleasure me--not just share my bed. And you undressing right here and right now would please me greatly. Understand, Ms. Gupta?"
She started to argue, but voices sounded in the hallway just then. Worry engulfed her. The last thing she needed was for the entire office to discover her alone with him for no plausible reason. Grabbing his hand, she pulled him with her behind the changing screen.
"What the hell are you doing?" he growled.
She put a finger to her lips as the door swung open, motioning him to remain quiet. A gaggle of models walked in, laughing over something. Khushi watched them through the small gap in the folding screen, her breathing shallow.
And then masculine hands circled her waist, drawing her hard against him. Arnav nuzzled her nape, his teeth nipping the soft skin. Khushi bit her lip to keep from gasping. Through her wet clothes, she could feel him, his heat sizzling into her from behind.  He was aroused and fully too. Before she could push him away, his hands rose and clapped over her heaving chest with blatant possession.
Her head swung back against his suit. Her eyes closed tightly as his skillful hands tugged on her breasts, toying with the hardened peaks.
And then as the girls' laughter broke in, her eyes widened with horror. How could she let him touch her--especially here of all places!
But as if he sensed her growing rebellion, he spun her in his arms, drawing her drenched clothes over her head in one quick move. Khushi flushed as he brought her against his chest, her bra thrusting against his suit.
And as always, passion ignited--hot and burning. His lips descended on hers, firm and demanding. He caught her moan in his mouth, his tongue dueling with hers. The kiss distracted her just as he'd hoped. She barely realized he'd unsnapped her bra till the slip of lace fell to the carpet between them. By that time, she was beyond caring, her body shaking as his hands covered her breasts the very next second, clamping down hard.
Part of Khushi remembered that she hated this man, but his touch made her long to forget. To give in... Why? she wondered hopelessly as her hands dove into his wavy hair. Why did the man she hate have to be the one who sparked this irrepressible passion deep inside her? Why him?
It made no sense, and for the moment, she didn't want to think. She lost herself in his caressing hands, his searing mouth.
The door slammed shut then as the models made their way out. The banging echo was enough to snap her to awareness. She shoved him away, standing half-dressed before him, her chest heaving as she breathed in large gulps of air.
Arnav's eyes darkened. He looked like he was fighting the urge to shout at her. But without a word, he handed her bra back to her and turned away. "Wear the goddamn saree," he ordered as he walked out.
Khushi was still trembling as she draped the saree around her, absently fingering her swollen lips. She could still taste him. Could still feel his touch on her lips and body. And the most frightening, confusing part was that she wanted more. A lot more...
Lavanya Kashyap was waiting for Arnav as he stalked out. She met him near the main stairs, going on and on about some meeting scheduled later that month in New York. Arnav half-listened to her babble. He could have easily ended the conversation at any point, but he chose to stay. It gave him the perfect excuse to remain on the first floor. His eyes flew over Lavanya's head, looking for her--as always. Where was Khushi? What was taking her so damn long? He wondered if she was having trouble with the saree. Outside of that green and silver lehenga choli she'd worn to the fashion show in Lucknow, he'd only seen her in those atrocious, gaudy salwar kameezes that hid her delectable figure so well.
And then, as Lavanya finally paused to breathe, he told her to go find Aman, his hand rising to his throbbing temple. He was about to take the stairs to his cabin when he felt the air change around him. His eyes flew up. His heartbeat quickened.
There she was... Khushi was walking toward him in the crimson saree he'd selected, the soft material clinging to her every curve. She'd unbraided her hair as he preferred, the long strands wafting in the hair behind her. He reacted to her instantly. It was a heady feeling to know that this beautiful, sexy woman was his. All his.
Khushi swallowed at the wolfish glint in his eyes. She glanced away, very much aware of him.
Tension crackled between them like the lightning striking outside.
"Your second task," he announced suddenly, unable to look away from her slim form, "Is to go to the photoshoot. You'll be one of the models."
As her eyes widened, he stomped away, trying to rein in his billowing desire. He paused only once: to speak to his assistant, who quickly nodded.
"Come along, Ms. Gupta," said Aman, motioning her toward the studios.
Khushi wanted to refuse, but then her eyes fell on his hard, lean shape taking the stairs two at a time. She could do this. She would win this task too just like the first, she vowed.
Ten minutes later, she was ready to accept defeat. She'd locked herself in one of AR Design's dressing rooms, staring at the modeling costume with disbelief. How could he! How could he ask her to pose for a swimwear photoshoot!
"Gupta!" shouted Lavanya, knocking on the door outside. "Hurry up! You're delaying the shoot!"
"I said I won't wear this!" she yelled back. Her eyes flew to the itsy bitsy red bikini. It was barely more than a few triangles held together by flimsy strings. Most socks had more cloth to them. She stared at it with loathing, her face twisting.
"Fine!" sighed Lavanya, clearly exasperated. "I'm calling ASR then. Let's see what he says!"
As her heels dashed away, Khushi's frown deepened. Her anger grew. So he was coming was he... well it was time then to beat him at his own game.
Taking a deep breath, she slipped out of her saree, the material pooling around her ankles.
"She just refuses to wear the swimsuit!" Lavanya repeated, shaking her head at Arnav as they marched into the crowded studio. "Look, everyone is waiting, but Gupta doesn't care. You really need to fire her, ASR."
His eyes sizzled at her. "I know exactly how to handle my employees.  I don't need your damn advice." And then turning to the assembled group he bit out, "Get out--everyone! This second."
As the models and crew dutifully hurried out, Arnav reached for the door handles, slamming it close behind them. With a firm grip, he locked it and then headed to the third dressing room. It was the only one with a faint glow of light emanating from under its door.
He smirked as he knocked. She'd fallen into the trap. He'd known there was no way Ms. Innocent Gupta with her middle-class Lucknowi upbringing could ever wear a swimming suit publicly, especially the one he'd picked out personally. "Gupta! Open the door!" As nothing but silence sounded and the door remained firmly locked, his lips twisted. "So you lost the challenge, did you?" he goaded. "Couldn't handle it?"
The door swung open.
Arnav's eyes rounded as his eager gaze found her. For the first time that he could remember he was rendered speechless. He was barely aware of anything as she glided toward him, wearing a bright red bikini. It barely covered her, her ample curves were spilling out, stretching the thin fabric. With her long hair and furious expression, she was easily the sexiest thing he'd ever seen.
Khushi paused midstep as she felt his hot gaze on her. Her bravado slipped. She turned away, her heart quaking, her body trembling.
Arnav stared at her as if mesmerized, his eyes darting up and down her length. His hands clenched into fists as he noted her long, bare legs and the tiny triangles covering her most intimate of places.
He couldn't help it, he pushed her against the wall, his lips descending with urgency on top of hers. His mouth caught her surprised squeak. He groaned as his tongue thrust deep, tasting her sweetness.
Khushi tried to control herself, but as soon as his hands descended low, sweeping across her exposed abdomen and slipping inside the crimson triangle, she moaned, tugging his head down to her aching chest. He kissed her through the skimpy bikini, his mouth hard and possessive.
"You're so wet for me," he groaned, sliding another finger deep into her. "You say you don't want me, but your body says otherwise. You want this. You want me."
Passion unfurled like wildfire. He barely took the time with his own clothes before picking her up in his arms and joining them. She muffled her shout on his shoulder, holding onto him tightly as he claimed her... again and again...
It was fierce and wild. Hot and urgent. They moved as one, her bare body slipping and sliding against his hard planes as their pace intensified. He found her mouth with his, kissing her heatedly as he pounded into her with each deep thrust. She screamed his name as she came but he would not let up, a hard look on his face as he drove in again. "Look at me," he barked, beads of sweat shining on his temple.
She couldn't refuse him, her heart thundering as she watched his handsome face transform in ecstasy. The line of his jaw hardened. His eyes glittered at her. She felt herself splinter apart all over again, joining him this time. Sometime later, Khushi felt herself collapse into his embrace, her body quivering. But for the first time it was she who regained control first. Surprising him once more, she pulled away from him, tugging on her bikini bottoms and top.
"What the hell are you doing?" he growled, watching her as she walked toward the well-lit backdrop and cameras.
She raised an eyebrow. "Modeling, of course. That's what you wanted right, Mr. ASR? Now where is everybody?"
He grabbed her arm, twisting her around none too gently. His expression was more livid than ever before. "Like hell you will! I won't allow it!"
She smirked at him. "But this is your task. And I have to always please you, right?"
"Shut up!" he growled, dragging her back against him. Grinding his body into hers, he bit out, "You. Are. Mine. Understood! No man other me will ever see you like this... no one but me will ever touch you or have you... Now go back and change into the saree."
She refused to back down. "So you admit I win?"
He leaned across, taking her bottom lip into his mouth hungrily. His eyes burned into her. "Never. I won too. Should I remind you how?" His thumb and forefinger pinched her bottom.
"I hate you!" she screeched as she whirled about, stomping away.
Arnav watched her go and then taking some deep breaths, quickly dressed too. He unlocked the studio doors only when she stepped out, fuming still, but covered in the red sari once more.
"The photo shoot has been cancelled," he announced at the threshold to all those waiting. "Get back to work everyone."
"But ASR--" began Lavanya and the photographers.
He grabbed one of the arguing men by his collar, his face darkening. "I said cancelled. Now step aside!"
Throwing the man to the ground, he marched down the corridor. He couldn't resist one last glance. And so as he turned the corner, he stared over his shoulder with that same penetrating gaze. His eyes met hers.
Khushi grinned at him and with her hands signaled: 2 to 0.  Whether he liked it or not, she had won today.
Secret Passion by Tina & Satina
Episode 4: Slumber Party.. with ASR?!
It was still raining heavily later that evening as Khushi left AR Designs, clutching her broken umbrella with one hand. It was dark out and not even a single taxi was in sight. It was all that Raizada's fault, she thought frowning. He'd kept her occupied with piles if not mountains of files all afternoon. And so standing out in the downpour, dressed in the thin, red sari he'd selected, she felt tired, wet and downright miserable.
Blinding white headlights suddenly zeroed in on her. A white, mammoth-sized SUV neared. Her eyebrows knitted together as the driver side window rolled down and he stared out--his icy stare drifting over her shivering form.
"Get in."
She crossed her hands across her chest, refusing to answer. Those burning eyes darkened with silent fury.
"Do you want me to come out then, Ms. Gupta? What if someone sees? I don't give a damn but I know you do."
He had her cornered there. She knew how adamant he was. Arnav Singh Raizada wouldn't think twice about picking her up in his arms and taking her bodily inside. Giving him her most severe frown, she walked to the passenger side, slipping in.
"See, I always win. I just don't keep score like you," he said mockingly as she slammed the door close.
Khushi turned toward him, her drenched hair striking his chiseled face. He raised a cool eyebrow at her obvious anger, seeming amused more than anything else. Her frown deepened. First, he'd given her all those tasks today, and now the man was almost deliberately pushing her buttons.
Well, she wouldn't give him the satisfaction. Sitting stone-faced in the leather-backed seat, Khushi reached for the seat belt, trying to ignore the heat radiating off the man beside her. Her numb fingers fumbled with the belt.  She was still fighting with it when his bronzed hand reached over, taking control. He drew the belt across her, his hand seeming to slow as it passed over her saree-covered chest. The back of his fingers brushed across her sensitive skin.
Khushi's eyes flew up, meeting his intense, turbulent gaze with shock. Heat pooled deep within as she read the passion brewing there. And God help her, it seemed to bring forth her own dark desires--a fire that matched his own. As he clicked on the seat belt, the sound crashed into her, her body trembled.
Arnav's eyes traced over her flush cheeks, pausing at those tempting, moist lips. Her breathing had increased and he couldn't help but reach over and set his mouth on hers, drinking in her sweetness.
She moaned as his tongue stroked hers, her hands cupping his sandpapery cheeks. All was silent for a few long minutes as their kisses intensified. It was as if they couldn't get close enough.
With an oath, Arnav pulled back, arrogantly pleased by her glazed, bemused expression. She could claim to hate him as much as she wanted, but he knew better. As much as she wished she was not, she was drawn to him. And he couldn't seem to get enough of her either. It was dangerous and exciting. The more he had her, the more he needed her. But it was more than just a physical pull. In her arms, he felt a deep sense of peace--something he hadn't known existed. It confused the hell out of him, and yet he couldn't help but fall for its heady temptation again and again.
Frowning, his hands tightened on the steering wheel as he finally drove out of AR Design's empty parking lot.
The two were silent as they passed through Delhi's crowded, colorful streets. And then unable to stop himself, he looked out the corner of his eye at her slim form.
Khushi was lying back against the seat, her hair tossed behind her and her eyes half-closed. His gaze slid down on her shivering body: noting the rise and fall of her chest, the way her hands remained clenched on her flimsy sari in her lap, and how she kept her legs pressed tightly together.
He had to touch her. Pausing only to turn up the heat in the car, his masculine hand fell across her thigh, gripping the softness with possession. Khushi's head swerved to him, but he was staring ahead once more, his face hard to read in the dim light.
"What are you doing?" she murmured, heat coiling in her as she focused on his large, tanned hand on her crimson saree. The contrast was striking.
"What?" he asked, squeezing. "Don't you like it?"
She did. Too much. It made her mind feel foggy. She ached to forget everything and give in to his demands. But then she recalled the contract... Fury swept through her: more at herself than him. Why? Why did she keep forgetting who he was, how he'd taken over everything? How much she hated him?
Shoving his hand off, she stared out the window, trying to resist his alluring pull.  Surprisingly, he didn't argue, driving silently toward her apartment.  The air was charged with tension as they arrived at the twenty-story building. The sign at the entrance read: AR Luxury Apartments.
Khushi was expecting him to stop at the main entrance and drop her off but instead he parked the SUV in the reserved section, turning the ignition off. Shock and an unexpected thrill shot through her. He never came to her apartment except on weekends. But today was just an ordinary Wednesday night.
"You're coming inside? But we already..." Her voice trailed off. Despite every intimacy they had shared, she still found herself hesitant at times. His powerful, commanding aura had a strange effect on her. Not much had ever daunted her, but Arnav Singh Raizada certainly did.
"Already what?" he asked, his words sarcastic and cold. "Are you referring to what happened between us in the dressing room earlier today?"
She could barely manage a nod. Frowning, he climbed out, going to her side and escorting her out. His hand clamped around her wrist, pulling her inside the dimly lit lobby.
"We can have sex more than once a day. You do realize that, don't you?"
Khushi bristled at his condescending tone. "Yes, I do realize that, Mr. ASR, but we never have."
"Well, then let's change that..." His eyes sizzled into hers, unraveling her. His hand left her wrist to settle on her exposed waist, his touch burning into her.
Her hands were shaking as she unlocked the door, but she tried to control the tremors. He didn't say a word, his hand lingering on her and dipping to her bottom. He stroked the chiffon firmly. She managed to push open the door, her pulse racing.
Her apartment was pitch-black as they walked in. He was following so closely she could feel his heated imprint behind her. She flipped on the lights. The modern, minimalistic furniture he'd arranged for her initially was long gone. She'd purposely redesigned everything with a loud, unmistakably Lucknowi touch.
Instead of taking her to the bedroom as she'd imagined, Arnav instead headed to the kitchen, opening the refrigerator.
"I'm starving," he muttered almost casually as he drew his suit jacket off, his free hand pulling at his silk tie. Khushi felt her body quiver as she stared at him: dressed in dark pants and a half unbuttoned, white, long-sleeved shirt he was an unbelievably captivating sight. Coupled with his wavy, trimmed hair and that hardened expression, part of her could not believe that he was really standing in her kitchen, talking about something as mundane as dinner.
"Some of your pasta from last time is still there," she said, hoping her voice did not sound as breathless as she felt.
He scowled at her. "Trying to food poison me now?"
"What? Of course not!" Outraged, her eyes spat fire at him. The corner of his lip curved up in response.
She closed her eyes, counting to ten. "There are leftovers too. Behind the milk."
"You can eat that. I'll order something."
Khushi watched him stride out into the living room. He lounged back on the sofa as if he was in his own home, his long legs stretching across the carpet. Pulling out his phone, he dialed his favorite Italian restaurant. "You want anything?"
Shaking her head, Khushi forced herself to ignore him, pulling her hair into a high ponytail. She changed out of the saree and into a more comfortable salwar kameez as she waited for last night's leftovers to heat up. She did not know what that Raizada was planning, but she might as well eat something first. Deliberately not glancing his way, she sat on the opposite end of the sofa, eating silently.
"Khushi, I--"
She irritably turned on the TV. Some random daily soap was going on. Arnav sighed as he leaned back, observing her closely.
"What is this nonsense?" he murmured after a few minutes.
She shrugged, trying to follow the sweet love story being shown. If only real life was all fuzzy and warm like this.
"Are they brother and sister?" he asked.
Her eyes flew to him. "They're the main leads!" she corrected, her voice stiff. "Husband and wife."
Arnav reached across, brushing off some crumbs on her lips. "They have zero chemistry for supposed lovers. Change the channel, Khushi."
She followed his order, but only because she couldn't stand another second of the mushiness herself.  Some animal show was on the next channel: the narrator was describing in a dull, sleep-inducing voice the mating rituals of several species. Her eyes rounded. The remote slipped from her hands, falling to the floor.
"Baby, if you're interested in that, I can show you myself--it's a lot better than watching about it."
Baby? Her cheeks tinged with color as she ignored his teasing jibe, punching on the channel down button. Some saas-bahu show was going on: the stern mother-in-law was screeching at her righteous daughter-in-law.
"Shoot me now," Arnav murmured, taking a bite from her plate.
Khushi pushed on the remote again and then sighed with relief. A teen movie was on and a group of girls were dancing in their pajamas, throwing pillows at one another. It was the perfect distraction. Anything had to be better than thinking about how ASR had another side to him--a side that called her baby, made her smile and blush and--
"Now what the hell is this?"
Sighing, she clicked the info button and grabbed her spoon back from him. 'Slumber Party' was the title of the rom-com. Arnav was about to snatch the remote from her when the doorbell rang.
"Who is it?" he barked.
"Delivery for a Mr. Raizada."
As a commercial came on, Arnav rose, heading to the door. Khushi rolled her eyes. He was so snobbish, running from desi food as if it was kryptonite. And then her favorite Salman Khan song suddenly came on and she forgot all about his Italian attachment.
"How much?" asked Arnav, pulling out his wallet. The deliveryman didn't answer, his eyes focused on something behind him. Arnav frowned as he glanced over his shoulder: Khushi was dancing to some loud Bollywood song, clueless that she had an audience.
His face darkened as he turned back to the man. He stepped in front of him, blocking his view.  The man looked sheepish, stuttering as he read aloud the bill.
Arnav withdrew the named amount and then triple that. The man's eyes locked on the cash. But at the last moment, Arnav handed over the exact amount, slamming the door on the man's face.
His eyes sizzled as they returned to Khushi. She was breathless from her impromptu dance performance, pulling her hair tie off as she sat back down.  Her long, black hair cascaded down, mesmerizing him for a moment. Desire surged--deep and blazing--but he chose to ignore it. Instead he focused on an emotion he knew better: anger.
"Could you even try to pay attention to what goes on around you?"
"What?" She shook her head at him. "Now what are you mad about?"
"You were dancing for the whole damn building to see!"
"I was not!" she said between spoonfuls of rice and curry.  "And anyways, what if I was? Why do you care so much?"
His eyes bore into her. "Because I-- Because you're mine damn it!"
Khushi was more than a bit confused by that declaration. She'd thought he was annoyed by her and definitely attracted, but his? She didn't know how to respond.
He moodily sat back down, opening the packages and chewing his food mechanically. She had a hard time keeping her gaze off of him, so she tried to focus on the TV. It was just her type: all flossy romance and mindless comedy.
"Only a ten-year-old would enjoy this movie," he commented after a long, stony silence.
She gave him a do-not-test-me look, refusing to answer. The teens on the screen were playing truth-and-dare now.
"How lame."
"You just hate everything, don't you?" she said, throwing her hands up.
For Arnav, second to being in bed with her, was arguing with her. He loved baiting her. There was something irresistible about her fiery eyes, flashing at him. Taking her empty plate, he set it along with his leftovers on the coffee table.
"Who said that? I like that lingerie I got you. Go wear it, that'll be more fun."
She shook her head. "I'm busy."
"Watching this crap? Truth-and-dare?"
Khushi's eyebrows rose in challenge. "You know a better game, Mr. ASR?"
He clamped his hand on her wrist, drawing her hard against his chest. "Matter of fact, I do--lots actually. But would you even dare to play?"
Her body quivered as she fell across him on the sofa, intensely aware of his close proximity. His words sounded foreboding, but she had never backed down from a challenge before. She tersely nodded.
His lips twisted. "Let's start with something simple. In this game, we have to keep kissing without touching each other. Nothing but our lips and tongues can touch. First one to touch the other--in any way--loses."
"What's the catch?" she asked, knowing him only too well.
"None really. But let's raise the stakes: winner gets to make the loser do whatever they want."
"Anything?" she asked, her body quivering as his hot gaze washed over her.
He nodded. "Anything. Ready for the task, Ms. Gupta?"
It seemed like a bad idea, but she couldn't go back now. Trying to control her escalating heartbeat, she turned on the sofa so she faced him, sitting cross-legged. Arnav rolled up his sleeves, exposing his lightly haired forearms and turned off the TV. His eyes burned into hers as he matched her pose.
Slowly he leaned in..
Khushi met him half-way, her hands knotting together, her eyes closing as their mouths met.
That first searing touch caused her eyes to snap open. Their eyes locked as they kissed, softly at first, almost featherlight. But their passion could never be restrained. Khushi bit back a moan as he took control, licking her lips and taking the bottom one into his. He sucked on her, his teeth nipping. Heat shot through her as he soothed the dull ache with his tongue, knowing just where to touch. Her hands itched to touch him, her body hummed with tension.
As she realized that she was about to grasp his arm, her eyes widened with alarm. She could sense his smirk against her mouth, his amused gaze drilling into hers. Taking a deep breath, she angled her face, her tongue slowly gliding across the seam of his lips and delving inside. She was shy at first, but bit by bit, her every last hesitance melted away.
She explored his mouth leisurely, using everything he'd taught her in the past month. By now, she knew just what he liked. Her mouth slanted over his more firmly. Khushi could not have guessed how much her shy caresses were turning him on. But Arnav wouldn't let her win so easily. Even as his mind screamed at him to end the damn game, tear off her clothes and bury himself deep within her, he stroked his tongue against hers, dueling. 
They fought. Pushed and teased.
Khushi paused to breathe before meeting his lips again, trying to keep her hands from touching him. Kisses followed more kisses... so much so, she lost count, but she was sure of one thing: theirs mouths had to be quite red by now.
But even as her resolve crumbled, he dove on, plunging his tongue deeply and retreating in a merciless rhythm until she was senseless with need. Her hand fell on his muscular thigh, holding on for dear life.
"I win," he whispered against her mouth, withdrawing at once.
She stared at him with wide-eyes, her fingers going to her moist lips. Heat shot through Arnav as he observed her, his eyes burning as he noticed her swollen mouth.
"What's the score now, Ms. Gupta? 2 to 1 by your count?" He signaled the score as she had earlier.
She frowned at him. "You know how to play this game too well. You purposely did that."
He shrugged. "I always win. Period. Now, aren't you going to ask me what I want from you?"
Khushi stilled as she noticed the glint in his eyes. Honestly, she'd forgotten about that catch amidst their rather intense making out. "What do you want? Me to wear that lingerie again?"
He shook his head. "See, Khushi, I'm really tired right now. I had a busy day at the office, fought with this stubborn woman all day long, so now I want some relaxation."
Her frown deepened at his words, but she tried to rein in her temper. "What sort of relaxation?"
"Oh, nothing much. How about a massage?" His gaze was downright wicked.
She was surprised by that request. She'd been positive he would ask for something impossible or scandalous. Her hands rose to the back of his neck and shoulders, pressing.
But he grabbed her hand, pulling her up. "Not like that and not here," he mumbled.
He took her to the bedroom, his hand dropping hers as he reached for his buttons. Khushi froze as a growing expanse of his chest was exposed. He was toned, tanned and perfectly sculpted. She thought he would stop there, but of course this was Arnav Singh Raizada, he was constantly demanding more.
Her eyes widened with shock as he reached for his pants, unzipping.
"Why are you... why are you taking your pants off?" she stuttered.
He almost grinned at her. "Oh, didn't I tell you? I want a full body massage," he drawled, kicking off his pants and boxers in one quick move.
Khushi could barely breathe as she stared at him, her body clenching. He smirked as he stalked to her, knowing exactly how she was reacting. His skin just barely grazed her magenta salwar kameez. Pulling at her wrist, he drew her to the bed. With a thud that echoed in her ears, he sprawled on his stomach atop the sheets, his back to her.
"Well, go on... Massage me, Khushi.."
She told herself she hated him more than ever as she sat beside him, but as her hands fell on the smooth, hard skin of his back, she couldn't help but be pulled to him.
She massaged his neck and back, the movements slow and oddly soothing even for her. He groaned with satisfaction as her hands rubbed across him, kneading his sore muscles. She left not an inch of his back untouched as her hands rose into his hair, delving into the rich silkiness. She massaged him some more, enjoying touching him like this more than she cared to admit. After a good ten minutes, she forced herself to stop. "There--all done."
"I said full body massage. You only did about 25%," he remarked, his voice muffled against the pillow.
Khushi's hands tensed on his silky smooth skin. "What? You can't be serious."
"I'm always serious. Now, slide your hands down... Lower... More than that... Damn, that's it."
She worked her hands over his firm bottom, her face coloring with a rosy flush. She'd touched him here before, but never like this. Her hands swept over him and then slowly slid down, passing over the back of his thighs and legs.
Arnav bit back a curse as he felt her torturous, tantalizing touch. She was killing him with her every innocent caress. And she was being so damn attentive, missing nothing.
He couldn't wait anymore. Catching her by surprise, he flipped her over so she was beneath him. "Good job on my back, now you have the front side left to do."
She stared up at him with disbelief, not knowing how to respond. Did he really mean for her to massage him--there?!
"Yes," he replied as if he sensed her bewilderment. "Everywhere."
Her heart quaked at that. Even though she ached to touch him, she knew she had to end this game. What was happening? Why was she so pulled to him?
"Let me up!" she said with obvious fury, pushing against his hard chest.
Arnav tried to read her eyes, but now she was flailing in his arms, thrashing on the bed. He pinned her hands above her head, forcing her legs apart by one knee to keep her from kicking him.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" he shouted.
She was breathing harshly, her eyes blazing at him. "Get off me!"
"NO!" he barked. "Not till you tell me why you insist on behaving this way. Don't act like you didn't enjoy what you just did... like you don't secretly love it every time we're intimate. You ache for it, just as much as me. You want me, Khushi Kumari Gupta. ADMIT IT!"
She shook against him, fighting outright. "Never!"
He pushed her deeper into the sheets, his body covering hers. "Why? Why can't you accept this--whatever it is between us? Why do you fight it so much?"
Her gaze sizzled into his. "Why? You really don't know? Because it's you! You, Arnav Singh Raizada--the man who ruined my life! Who gave me nothing but pain. I hated you from the moment I read that contract in your study. I refuse to feel anything else for you!"
"But you do, don't you?" he goaded with a snarl. "You want me: me the man you supposedly despise. Look I admit we didn't meet in the best of circumstances but I did what I did to get you."
"And now you have me," she retorted with iciness. "Happy? You had the perfect life before and now you have someone else to control."
She knew she'd said something wrong as soon as the words left her mouth. He tensed against her, staring at her with almost wounded eyes. She froze beneath him. But before she could even begin to understand the sudden vulnerability in his gaze, he let her go with a curse, standing naked at the side of the bed. His expression darkened as he stared down at her.
"Perfect?" he repeated in a hollow voice that jarred her. "You think my life is perfect? That only you know pain and suffering? I've never hurt you. Every time--every damn time--I give you the chance to stop me. But you want me, you pull me on top of you, inside of you... So I don't regret a single thing between us, understand! And by the way, you signed the contract willingly. And even I agreed to that damn condition of yours. Stop acting like the bloody victim every time!"
He sighed, his hands fisting at his sides. "I won't deny my methods were crude--but that is how I am--I take what I want. And as far as the rest of my life is concerned, well sorry to crash your hopes, Khushi Kumari Gupta, but it is not perfect. Far from it, actually. You know nothing! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!"
He suddenly leaned down, grabbing her by the shoulders as he shook her. "At least your sister is happily married. Mine is in love with a monster--a man who has never been faithful to her. But you know what I have to do? I have to face that creep every morning and ignore all his faults... allow him to live under my roof--just so my sister can remain sane! That's pain--that's suffering.." He pushed her against the sheets, his rage palpable "At least you have a family who loves you," he continued with a snarl. "Your parents are dead but that was a freak accident. My parents... my parents committed suicide. I was just ten years old. And even to this damn day, I can still hear the gunshots in my head. That's pain, that's suffering, Khushi Kumari Gupta!"
She didn't know how to respond as his face twisted above her. Never had she seen him this angry. He was practically shaking against her.
"And then you fell into my life--literally! And with you, I felt different... more myself..." Arnav swore as he dropped her on the bed. "But you're just like everyone else. I'm done with you."
He bent down to grab his pants but Khushi threw herself against his back, holding tight. Fear choked her, blackening every thought. "Don't... I'm sorry, I didn't mean it. I didn't mean it..."
He froze and then turned to face her. He gazed at her with seething intensity and then suddenly pulled her tight against him, his mouth covering hers with brutal force. 
She knew he was testing her, and so she opened her mouth, kissing him back with a tenderness that he had never felt before.
He groaned as he fell across her on the bed, his mouth gentling.  Khushi drew him down against her, not able to get close enough. Her tongue mated with his as her hands gripped his back and lower body with possession.  She moaned as he left her mouth, pulling away.
"Hold on," he muttered and then grabbing her neckline with both hands, he ripped the thin material, needing to touch her skin. She helped him, tugging off the rest of her clothes with urgency.
And then they were on each other, their skin meeting with no hindrance between. He caught her low around the hips with his hands, his mouth closing over a stiff peak. She shouted, arching off the bed as he took control, demanding more and more.
She gave him everything, thrashing beneath him as his hands and mouth discovered her, again and again.
"Please..." she moaned, her hands fisting on the sheets as he made his way up and down her pliant body. "Please..."
He dropped a firm, open-mouthed kiss on her bare stomach before moving up again. His eyes seared into her as he cupped her face in his palms. "Say it," he demanded against her lips, biting softly. "Say it."
Khushi kissed him heatedly, her legs wrapping around his waist. "I want you... I want you so much..."
He growled with satisfaction, his mouth meeting hers hungrily until he finally gave her what they both desired: their passion unleashing with a crashing intensity.
She thought it would be wild between them, but Arnav had other ideas. He purposely went slow, taking his time with her. It was sweet torture but he needed to hear her cries, needed to feel her hands and mouth asking for more. He filled her repeatedly, not able to get close enough. As her muscles clenched around him, milking him, he threw back his head, shouting her name. They detonated together, bodies slick with sweat.
As Khushi collapsed on the bed, she could barely catch her breath. She caught him in her arms, holding him tightly.
Neither spoke for several minutes, their hearts beating as one.
"Tired?" he asked her after some time, his mouth tracing over her heated body.
Her eyebrows rose in surprise. "Again?"
Arnav winked at her. "It can happen more than twice, Khushi."
And so he showed her, all night long, waking her up time and time again. And Khushi could do nothing but hold on, both confused and pleased by what had just passed between them.
It was so much more than intimacy--something indefinable.
The next morning, his mouth on hers woke her up. She blinked awake sleepily, her eyes narrowing as she noticed him standing next to the bed, showered and dressed in a tailored business suit.
"I have a meeting in fifteen minutes," he said, raining a line of firm, open-mouthed kisses down the slope of her neck. "You can come later."
"What will the boss say?" she asked cheekily, stretching. "He's very strict. I can't be late."
His hand moved across her brazenly, touching her warm, sensitive softness. Her nipples instantly hardened and he grinned, looking years younger. "You're excused for the morning. Come by lunchtime though. I'll need you then."
She blushed, brushing his hair back. "Deal. Now go. Aren't you getting late?"
"I'm the damn CEO," he declared, straddling her waist. "They can wait for me."
It was about thirty-five minutes later that he finally left her apartment. Khushi didn't know what to think as she sat on the sofa, sipping tea.
What had happened last night? It had been so special, so wonderfully fulfilling.
Her hand rose to her lips with surprise. Who would have guessed that ASR--Arnav Singh Raizada--could bring a smile on her face?
She was still grappling with the strange change between them when she noticed the answering machine flashing red on the countertop. Straightening, she pushed the messages button as she walked toward the sink with her empty cup.
"Sanka Devi!" erupted her Buaji's voice in the empty room. "You didn't visit me as you promised, but I will still forgive you. All you have to do is come over this afternoon to my house. You know your mother's best friend, Sarita? Her son has just returned from America. He's the perfect man for you. He'll make the best husband. I've already called up the rest of the family so we'll all be waiting for you. 5 PM today. No excuses, okay Sanka Devi?"
The teacup fell from Khushi's hands, shattering on the kitchen floor.
How would she ever explain Arnav to her family? She was already his--in all ways. She could never be anyone else's.

Secret Passion by TINA! & Satina 
Episode 5: Unleashed
Khushi arrived at AR Designs thirty minutes before the scheduled lunch break. Her face was not its normal creamy complexion. In fact, she looked about as pale and sick as she felt deep within, her face drained of all color. Once, the thought of being intimate with Arnav Singh Raizada had brought forth such a bodily response. But now, due to the strange, tenuous bond that had formed between them the night before--something that she only half-understood herself--she felt ten times worse at the thought of hurting him. 
She brushed past some of the employees standing in the main atrium, hoping no one would stop her. She was in no mood for a casual chat.
Thankfully, everyone appeared busy. Some of her friends waved at her from their desks, gazing at her with that curious expression that clearly asked: 'Where were you all morning?'
She forced a stiff smile, hurrying to her cubicle. Sitting down, she took several deep breaths, trying to come up with a sensible plan.
Think, Khushi. Think, she willed.
But it was like her mind was too foggy. Nothing made sense. Buaji's words echoed repeatedly, taunting her senses: "You know your mother's best friend, Sarita? Her son has just returned from America. He's the perfect man for you. He'll make the best husband. I've already called up the rest of the family so we'll all be waiting for you. 5 PM today. No excuses, okay Sanka Devi?"
She buried her face in her hands, moaning softly. What would she do know? She couldn't possibly explain her relationship with Arnav to her family and neither could she agree to their demands.
And why did this all have to happen now, she wondered? Now, when Arnav had finally opened up to her. When they had made love for the first time...
A warmth stole through her as she lost herself in memories of the passionate night they had shared: his hardness within her, his hands and mouth tracing over her, missing nothing.
She ached for him suddenly, missing his secure hold, his heated embrace. The strength of her own emotions sent her reeling.
As if he'd sensed her longing, the phone on her desk rang just then. 'ASR' read the caller ID.
She took a deep breath before picking it up, trying to maintain some semblance of control. "Hello?"
"What are you doing down there still?" he practically barked. "Come up here already." Her eyes flew to the second floor.
Inside his glass cabin, Arnav stood facing her, his posture all business-like but his eyes smoldering with a searing intensity. He raised an eyebrow at her. "I'm waiting, Khushi. And you know I hate that."
She trembled under his hot gaze, pulled to him.
"Well?" he asked as she sat unmoving in her cubicle. "Hurry up. I want you."
Her pulse raced at those words, her body quivering as he admitted his desire and need so bluntly. And yet, she knew he wanted more than just intimacy. Perhaps their relationship was finally inching forward. It was something she'd never once imagined. Meeting his gaze head-on, she stood, taking the stairs to him.
The dark curtains were drawn, shielding them from any unwanted attention. The door was locked. But it was hardly necessary. The office below was empty, as everyone headed to the employee cafeteria.
Khushi lay spread on Arnav's mahogany desk, wearing not a thread of clothing. He was standing, grasping her hips with taut fingers as he guided her upward. Khushi bit down on her bottom lip to keep from moaning, thrashing as passion unleashed between them: thick and mind-numbing.
Her fingers clawed on the desk, slipping on the sleekness. The table was slightly hard beneath her body but she was heedless to the small discomfort. Her entire being was centered on the man standing between her thighs. He was relentless, driving her past any inhibition, making her cry out time and time again. She had never known passion could be like this. Had never even dreamed of such intimacy.
But one month in his arms had taken her innocence in more ways than one. He had made her a woman--his woman. Khushi felt that same strange connection with him that she had felt the night before. It was so different from the usual hatred she had drilled into her heart and mind for so long that she did not know quite what it was.
As he surged forward, going deeper than she thought possible, her gaze met his: he was watching her closely, his face hard and steel-like. From the waist up, he was dressed like the CEO of AR Designs, the navy blue of his suit contrasting sharply with his tanned skin. But below the waist... She blushed, unable to look away from where their bodies joined.
And all the while, he observed her, his pace intensifying. She had no idea how he kept his control like that because she was a passionate mess, her face and body flush with a natural rosiness.
"Please," she whispered, as he gave no sign of backing down, taking her to the edge and back again and again.
His eyes burned into her. His hands tightened on her. But for once, he did not make her wait, giving in at once. As passion exploded, the two held on tightly to one another, needing the other almost desperately.
Khushi collapsed on the desk, her breathing erratic, and her chest heaving as if she'd just run a marathon. Arnav was reluctant to part with her. He settled back in his black leather chair and drew her limp body onto his lap.
Khushi pressed her cheek against his chest, her eyes fluttering close. A small half-smile curved his mouth as he stared down at her. He ran a hand down the silk-soft skin of her back, massaging lightly. She snuggled against him and he found himself hugging her back.
They were silent for a few minutes as they sat there. Khushi was the first to pull away. Awareness dawned on her slowly after the blaze of passion.  She was struck by the feeling of him against her, of her bare body pressing against his almost fully clothed form. The fine material of his suit passed over her sensitive nipples with each inhalation. The sensation was thrilling and she couldn't help but want it again and again.
She drew back so she could meet his hard gaze, staring into those soulful depths. How had she ever considered them to be ice-like she wondered? They were anything but.
"I never knew it could be like this," she admitted, her voice soft with wonder.
He brushed back a sweaty tendril of hair from her temple, kissing her forehead firmly. "I knew it would be like this between us from the first time we fought at that damn bridal show. There's something between us Khushi, something even you can't ignore."
She stared at him, amazed. "That's why you called me that night? Why you made the contract?"
He nodded, pulling her tight against him. "I couldn't let you go so easily. It was the only way to keep you in my life. You're mine, Khushi Kumari Gupta. Only mine."
Once such possessive declarations would have had her seeing red. But now, she almost mewed, rubbing her cheek against his bristly stubble. She could no longer deny his powerful hold over her mind, body, and heart.
How could she ever be anyone else's? It was simply not possible. Buaji and her family would have to see that.
She stilled in his lap as that answering machine message repeated in her mind once more. He must have felt her stiffen because he leaned back, cupping her face in his large palm as he tried to read her eyes. "What is it, baby?"
She couldn't meet his penetrating gaze. Extracting herself from his arms, she stood, her arms crossing over her exposed chest. "Nothing... But I should dress now, lunch will end in ten minutes."
His lips thinned. Khushi wasn't sure what caused that response: was it the thought of the outside world intruding on their time alone or was it because he suspected she was lying?
She fervently hoped it was the first reason. Thankfully, he asked her nothing more, pulling on his pants and then helping her find her clothes. They were scattered throughout the office, flung to the corners by his hands in the throes of passion.
Khushi smiled as he helped her dress, snapping on her bra and even drawing her top over her head. As she stood there on the carpet barefoot, her back to Arnav, She contemplated for a moment telling him about Buaji's call and the marriage proposal.
But she quickly decided against it. She knew first-hand how possessive he was of her. His routinely emphasized phrase, 'You are mine,'  was proof enough. His rage would be terrible, she mused, perhaps even uncontrollable. It was best if she dealt with this problem alone. She'd make her family realize that she did not want to be married to anyone--whether he come from America or Antarctica.
She would simply go to Buaji's around 4pm before Sarita Aunty could even arrive with her son and cancel the whole meeting. Her face furrowed as she realized that to manage that, she would have to sneak out of the office.
"All done," Arnav murmured behind her, tying her dori in a tight knot. He pressed a scorching kiss to her nape, branding her as his.
Part of Khushi wanted to spin around and throw herself right back into his arms. But the chime of the clock on the wall to her right indicated that soon they would be disturbed. Lunch would be over in a matter of minutes.
"Thanks," she managed. Turning toward him, she expected him to kiss her goodbye heatedly, but he made no such move. So she reached over, brushing her lips against his before she lost all her daring. "See you later."
Arnav watched her go with a hooded gaze. His hands tightened into fists.
What the hell was going on in that beautiful head of hers, he wondered? He'd felt her stiffen minutes before, had heard the hesitation in her voice as she insisted nothing was wrong, and had even seen her avoid his gaze.
And yet he still didn't want to admit it. Didn't want to believe that she was keeping something from him. He flung the papers off his desk, breathing harshly.
How had she managed to gain such a hold over him? He was a man of reason, of clear-cut common sense. And right now, he knew without a doubt that she was lying to him. Whether she realized it or not, Khushi had always been easy for him to read.
A haze of anger washed over him. He'd thought they had come so close the night before, their intimacy and relationship reaching heights he'd never imagined. He'd shared part of his soul with her, dammit!
And what was she doing? Lying to him... to his bloody face.
Arnav swore as he reached for the phone on the corner of the mahogany desk. It was balanced precariously on the edge, swept out of the way in the inferno of their passion. He had a sudden, vivid image of Khushi lying bare on his desk, spread for him like a feast. He forced aside the desirous image, focusing on more troubling concerns. With a punch, he dialed the first number on speed dial.
"Yes, boss?" answered Aman.
Arnav wasted no time. "Keep an eye on Ms. Gupta," he instructed. "I want to know about her every small movement in the office today, got it?"
He hung up roughly, resisting the urge to fling the phone away. How could she lie to him? How dare she!
He ended up pacing in his cabin, back and forth, trying to come up with some reason for her odd behavior. It was unlike her to lie, he knew. In the past month and a half, she may have claimed to hate him, but she had never lied to him. What could have driven her to such a change? Was she frightened by the new change between them? Did she want some distance from him?
Well, he wouldn't allow it. She was his, dammit. He refused to let her go. He'd already lost too much in his life. He would not lose Khushi. NEVER!
Doubts set in as he paced some more. Perhaps he was wrong, he debated. Maybe he had imagined her hesitation. Maybe he was making a big deal out of nothing.
He was about to call back Aman and tell him to stop his stalking when the phone rang.
"What?" he snapped.
"Boss, it's Ms. Gupta."
His heart stilled. His hand tightened on the phone. "What happened? Is she okay?"
Aman nodded. "She's perfectly fine. It's just that she's standing outside AR Designs, trying to hail a taxi."
"What! Where the hell is she going?"
"I don't know, boss. She snuck out in between the lunch rush. I almost missed her leaving myself," he admitted. "Do you want me to follow her?"
"No," growled Arnav, his eyes hardening. "Leave that to me."
Disconnecting, he reached for his car keys, heading out.
Khushi's stomach was growling as she left Buaji's house, reminding her she'd missed eating lunch yet again. But she ignored the small discomfort, too happy to care for once. Everything had worked out almost too perfectly. She'd arrived at her aunt's only to be greeted with the sight of her whole family gathered there, along with Sarita Aunty and her son.
She'd stared at them all, horrified, and blurted out loud: "I'm sorry, but I don't want to get married."
Her family had shot up, staring at her with disbelief, but it had been Sarita Aunty's son who had come to her rescue.
He'd smiled as he stood, coming toward her with a warm grin. "See, what I told you, Amma? Khush wouldn't have changed. She's still the same girl I played with as kids, just as mischievous."
She'd stared at him, memories assailing her from years ago, of a reed-thin boy, who'd chased after her in the playground, calling her 'Khush.' He'd even taken her to a school dance once. They'd been close friends, practically best friends, till he'd left for college in the states. Over the years, outside of an occasional phone call or email, they'd lost touch.
"Really Karan?" she asked, amazed. "You understand?"
He nodded. "Relax, Khush. And sorry about all this, but our mothers planned it all. You don't have to marry me right this minute, you can think about it. Take your time and decide."
It wasn't quite what she'd hoped for, but she'd agreed to it. At least the marriage talks had been avoided.
Khushi was smiling as she walked to the roadside, trying to find a taxi. She hadn't expected everything to be resolved so quickly. It was not even that late yet.
"Khush!" called out a voice behind her.
It was Karan, hurrying to catch up with her. "You forgot your umbrella, it's starting to rain."
"What about you?  You're getting soaked!" she laughed.
He smiled back, flicking a finger across her nose. "I don't want you to get sick, you're so fragile as it is, you know? And don't worry about your Buaji, I'll handle her," he promised.
Khushi couldn't help it. She reached over and hugged him, much as she had when they were kids. "Thanks Karan!"
For a moment, she was convinced she must have imagined that harsh, angry voice. Khushi froze as she turned around, her eyes rounding.
But it was true and undeniably real: Arnav stood before her, glaring at her with undisguised rage. She could barely move.
"Who are you?" Karan asked curiously.
ASR's eyes hardened to steel. He refused to answer.
"Arnav... Arnav Singh Raizada," murmured Khushi, trembling. "My... my boss."
His jaw tightened with displeasure. His gaze burned into her.
Karan was oblivious to the undercurrents playing out before him. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Raizada," he said. "I'm Karan, Khushi's best friend and maybe her future husband, if she accepts me that is." He laughed, extending his hand forward.
Arnav's eyes flew to his palm and then back to the man, turning ice-cold.
"Get in the car, Khushi," he gritted through his teeth. "Right now."
"Khush?" said Karan uncertainly, grasping her hand.
Arnav's eyes blazed, a vein on his temple throbbed. Khushi pushed away from her friend, hurrying inside the white SUV without a word more.
Arnav glared at the other man and then with a curse, climbed into the car, slamming the door shut. And then shifting the gears, he reversed the car, speeding forward.
The silence between them was thick with tension. Khushi felt weak and sick, but she pushed herself to speak up. She couldn't let him believe Karan's words.
"Arnav..." she whispered, steeling herself. "I can explain."
He gave no sign that he'd heard, stepping on the accelerator with a stomp, his face hard as stone.
She grasped his arm. "Arnav, please!"
He flung her hand off of him, giving her a blazing glare of tightly restrained rage before speeding even more.
Khushi held onto the seatbelt, clutching it as the jeep dangerously swerved on the open road.  "Slow down! What are you doing?"
When he remained silent, doing nothing but shifting the gears once more, she turned toward him with pleading eyes. She was still trying to reason with him when he suddenly braked.
Their bodies slammed against the seatbelt as the tires screeched.
"Arnav, what are you--" But he was already out of the SUV, coming to her door. He pulled it open, his gaze darkening as he scowled at her. Khushi could barely breathe let alone speak. She'd never seen him this angry. This out of control with fury.
With a suddenness that caught her by surprise, he grabbed her by the wrist, dragging her out. Khushi tried to free herself, but his strength was unyielding. She could do nothing but follow, her feet tripping over the barren, unpaved road in the dim light.
Where was he taking her, she wondered? And then she saw sign in the darkness ahead: 'AR Designs' Guesthouse: Under Construction.'
A tall, half-finished structure loomed before them. Metal pipes, drywall and construction materials filled the space. A few light bulbs hung from the ceiling, flickering on and off every few seconds.
"Please, Arnav... listen to me once," she said in a rush, needing for him to understand. "It was all my family's idea. Buaji left a message for me this morning on the answering machine, telling me about the proposal. But I fixed everything. Karan was just joking. He was--"
"Joking?" barked Arnav, pulling her inside one of the rooms. He was a dark shadow as he neared her, his face lined with anger. His every muscle seemed clenched with tension. "That bastard knew exactly what he was saying! Don't you dare deny it!"  His eyes narrowed at her as he stalked even closer. Khushi instinctively stepped backward until she could go no more, wooden beams poking into her back.
"And you!" continued Arnav, snarling. "You lied to me! I asked you this morning what the hell was going on and you said nothing!"
Khushi shook her head, her heart twisting to see his hatred so blatantly. She raised a hand to cup his cheek, but he angled his face out of reach. A tear slipped from the corner of her eye.
Part of him wanted to wipe away that small tear, but then vivid images assailed his mind, shattering his control: Khushi--his Khushi--smiling at another man... hugging the other man... And then that man claiming to be her soon-to-be husband.
He pushed her backward, his hands wrapping around her wrists as he stared down at her.  "YOU'RE MINE!" he roared. "Do you understand me? Only MINE!"
Khushi ached to have his trust. Her face appeared ashen under the sparks shooting around them. "I am yours, Arnav. Only yours."
His lips thinned. "Why the hell did you lie to me then? Why didn't you tell me about your aunt's call?"
"Because I knew you would react this way," she managed, trying to touch him. He pushed her harder against the wall, his hands tightening on her wrists. Khushi met his harsh gaze with anguish. "I knew you wouldn't be able to control your anger. You would do something you later regretted, just like you're doing now."
He laughed, the sound hollow and grating to both their ears. "I regret nothing--I never have and I never will. You should have told me from the start. Don't you dare assume how I would have reacted! But now that you lied to me, don't tell me how to behave. How am I supposed to react, Khushi Kumari Gupta, when I see you in some other man's arms? His hand touching your skin?" His grip tightened on her.
"It's not like that," she insisted. "Please... Karan is just a childhood friend. I like being around him, nothing more."
His mouth twisted. "You enjoy being around him and I'm sure he enjoys being inside of you," he spat.
Khushi stilled for a second as the meaning of his words hit her. And then her own anger unleashed. She pushed him off of her and in the next second, slapped him hard across the face. "How dare you! How dare you even suggest something so vile!"
His eyes darkened as he met her gaze. She pushed against his chest with all her strength. "You're the one who forced me into this relationship--you ARNAV SINGH RAIZADA-- not me, never me! And still--" She slammed her palms against his hard muscles. "Still I stayed faithful to you! I have never even looked at another man other than you and you dare to suggest such a thing! After all you put me through?"
"I hate you!" she cried. "Hate you so much! No wonder you have never known love, you don't deserve it! A man like you has no heart!"
It was only in her frenzy that such harsh words escaped her. But she didn't back down. Khushi pushed him backwards one last time and then headed to the door, her eyes fiery with anger. "It's over. The contract is over. I'm breaking it--this very minute."
She had just taken one step out of the room when he swooped down on her, lifting her in his embrace. "LIKE THE HELL YOU ARE!"
"LET ME GO!" she screamed, flailing wildly.
He cursed as he set her down but in the same breath, he grabbed her wrists.
"What are you doing, Arnav Singh Raizada!" she screeched as he bound her wrists to a thick rope dangling from the ceiling.
He stepped between her legs, his hands wrapping around her shoulders as he shook her roughly. "You can't break the contract! Only I have that power."  As she opened her mouth to shout some more, his mouth crashed down on her, hard and possessive. She tried to shift away from his hold, but his hands grasped her face, tilting her to meet his fervor.
Khushi struggled to keep control as his lips captured hers, his tongue plunging deep. As he stroked her with his tongue, she couldn't help but respond, her anger transforming into savage passion. He groaned with approval as she met his each hard kiss with the same intensity. His hands descended across her neck and then her chest, grasping her softness in each palm and squeezing. Khushi moaned, thrashing wildly. She pulled at the rope, using it as a lever as she arched herself, pressing closer to him. He was ruthless, toying and teasing her until she could do nothing but cry out for more.
"Mine," he growled, kissing her on the lips hard. "Mine." His mouth descended lower, suckling on her breast. "Mine." The heat of his mouth pushed against her stomach.
And then ripping off her clothes, he kneeled before her. Khushi quivered as she watched him, that dark head of hair nestled near her pale skin. He suddenly turned toward her, staring up at her with smoldering eyes.
"You. Are. Mine."
And then he set his mouth against her, kissing her intimately. Khushi screamed his name. Her chest heaved as his mouth and tongue took control.
"Arnav what are you--"
He gripped her hips, holding her still. "Hush, baby. I've got you."
And then she was mindless, her body, mind and soul tied to him and him alone. It was a long time later that the waves of passion left her. She was panting, her legs wrapped around his shoulders even now.
Arnav stood up, untying her wrists and picking her up in his arms so their chests met. Her arms and legs wound around him as she crumpled, feeling limp.
"I can't let you go, Khushi," he whispered brokenly. "Maybe I don't deserve you, but I can't lose you too."
How could she resist him? She pressed kisses to his neck, his cheeks, his lips. "You won't lose me. Please, don't doubt me. It hurts so much."
He took several deep breaths, pulling her bare form against him. His hands slipped down her back, holding firmly. "I didn't want to doubt you. It killed me when I realized you were lying... when I saw you hug that other man."
She laid a finger across his lips. "Karan doesn't matter, he never has. But you do. I did everything for you. I didn't want you to be hurt so I thought I'd handle it alone. I didn't realize my plan would make everything worse."
He tried to see it from her point of view, as hard as it was. "Don't you ever lie to me again."
She hugged him tight. "Never," she promised against his beating heart. "Never."
He finally relaxed. For a few minutes they stood there, unmoving.
"Let's go home, Khushi. I need you."
Wordlessly, he set her down, helping her dress. As soon as she was decent, he picked her up once more, taking her to the parked SUV. The key was still in the ignition. She snuggled against him, her eyes fluttering close. Her hand clung to his collar.
That night, atop the mattress at her apartment, they held each other close, clutching each other so tight nothing and no one in the world could separate them.  

Secret Passion by TINA! & Satina
Episode 6: Board Meeting
Warm morning sunlight spilled onto the bed from the window, the bright gold striking the white of the sheets. Khushi awakened slowly, her eyes blinking open.
It was odd, but while her lower body felt deliciously warm, encased in a startling heat, her arms, chest and face lay exposed, goosebumps highlighting her pale skin. She glanced down at herself.
A small grin broke out.
Arnav lay in deep slumber with his head pillowed on her stomach and his hands wrapped around her thigh. Somehow during the course of the night, their bodies had shifted and entwined, placing him almost directly between her legs. His grip remained unyielding even now, never slackening.
A rush of something--dare she admit it--pleasant surged through her, warming her. For so long, she had refused to feel anything for him but steadfast hatred. Had fought to keep away from him. She had never imagined that there could be more to the stern faced, temperamental CEO of AR Designs beyond his hard, unapproachable exterior.
How wrong she'd been...
The man lying against her may appear invincible to the rest of the world, but she had seen him in his most vulnerable moments. Had witnessed first-hand the flash of wrenching pain that swept past his eyes when he spoke of his family--his dead parents, his sister willingly chained to a monster. But more than that she'd experienced his doubts, his deeply rooted fear to lose her.
Khushi weaved her hands through his wavy hair, ever so gently touching him. What did he feel for her, she wondered? And more importantly, what did she feel for him?
Part of her didn't want to find out. Moving forward with the hate she'd ingrained in her mind was the easiest option. He couldn't hurt her as badly if she chose that path.
But as she lay there, brushing his hair tentatively, memories of the past few days came to her: of red-hot passion and blazing emotions. Of something special.
It would not be easy she realized. The road ahead would be paved with obstacles. But could she overlook the past? Could she open her heart to him? Give him a chance? Her hand paused on his head, pushing him further against her skin unknowingly. She had never in her life been more torn.
"Don't stop."
His voice was husky with sleep and muffled against her stomach. She stared down at him with surprise and in the same moment, he tilted his perfectly sculpted face towards her, the corner of his lip curving.
"Do I have to always order you, Ms. Gupta?"
Khushi gazed at him owlishly. Was Arnav Singh Raizada actually flirting with her? It was so unexpected that she didn't even attempt a sassy answer. A flush stained her cheeks as she noticed his amused glances.
"No," she finally replied, brushing his hair again. It felt wonderful to touch him this way. Her hands itched to sweep lower. "Do you like it, Mr. Raizada?"
He nodded against her, hugging her thigh closer. "Too damn much."
She was warm and soft and lying in her embrace, he felt more calm than ever before. Her featherlight touch soothed him in ways he did not fully understand.
Arnav pressed his face against her bare skin, breathing her in. He allowed himself to relish the quiet morning for a few minutes, but then he had to have more--as always. He was a bit insatiable where she was concerned.
"Baby, I want you," he drawled, laying a hot, open-mouthed kiss on her stomach. His tongue stroked her navel.
Khushi's body clenched. She took a deep breath as his hands and mouth curved over her. She wanted nothing more than to give in. But old habits were hard to break.
"The office..." she stuttered, her fingers plunging into his hair as he shifted against her, rocking. "You... Oh! You have a board meeting."
He shrugged, rising up and pulling her with him. Their forehead touched.
"I want you. Now."
She quaked, unable to shift away. He sucked on her bottom lip and then drew down the sheets, effectively trapping her beneath him. Her hands wrapped around the muscles of his back, dragging him to her. Arnav was just about to take a rosy nipple in his mouth when the phone on the nightstand rang, startling both of them.
"Don't answer," he said, glaring at it. But Khushi had already seen the Caller ID.
"It's Jiji. I have to."
He groaned, flopping back down on her even as she tentatively put the phone to her right ear. "Hello?"
"Khushi!" Payal's voice was so loud it seemed to echo in the bedroom. Arnav grumbled as he threw the still warm blankets over his head, using her chest as a pillow.
"Yes, Jiji? Is everything alright?" Khushi was proud her voice came out normal sounding. She could barely concentrate, acutely aware of the hard body atop hers, his cropped hair and stubble rubbing across her breasts as he got comfortable.
"I'm perfectly fine," answered Payal. "But are you? Amma just called me--what were you thinking to reject Karan's proposal? Did you even think about it?"
Khushi felt Arnav stiffen against her, his body tensing. Her free hand smoothed his hair under the blanket, dipping lower to massage the muscles of his neck and upper back. His skin was smooth as steel and just as solid. She pressed him closer, swallowing as she felt his hot breath against her skin.
"Yes, Jiji, I did. But like I told everyone yesterday, I will not marry him. Please end these talks already."
Arnav relaxed at that, dropping an approving kiss on her softness but Payal practically fumed. "But Karan is perfect for you! Why can't you marry him?"
Because of the man who is lying undressed in my bed at this very moment, thought Khushi. She cleared her throat, trying to come up with a less scandalous response. "Because Karan is just a friend. He will never be anything more."
"Amma is so disappointed..." babbled on Payal.
Resting on top of Khushi, Arnav bit back a curse. Her cousin showed no sign of even pausing to breathe and for some reason beyond his understanding, Khushi let her talk on. Well he'd had it. It was time to take charge and intervene. And so he deliberately slid his left hand down her silky soft skin, his fingers slipping between her legs.
Khushi arched off the mattress. A small squeak of shock escaped her lips.
"Khushi? What was that?" Payal asked, frowning.
"Hold on," managed Khushi, pressing the phone against her racing heartbeat as she stared down at Arnav. "Stop it," she warned.
He smirked at her, stroking her even more firmly. She bit her lip to keep from making a sound, her eyes latched onto his wandering hand. Fighting back her own desires, she attempted to throw him off and roll away but he caught her about the hips, a wicked smirk curving his mouth.
Khushi frowned at him. So he'd rediscovered his hold over her but did he have to touch her now? When she was on the phone with her cousin? Her poor Jiji would faint and collapse if she only knew what was going on.
"Stop it," she mouthed.
His free hand cupped her breast, his thumb lazily grazing her nipple.
"Hang up, Khushi," he whispered, his fingers tightening on her. "Now."
Their eyes met and silently clashed.
But then as she noticed with alarm his mouth descending low, she hurriedly said into the receiver: "I'll call you back, Jiji!"
"Khushi? What--"
The rest of Payal's sentence was cut off as Arnav abruptly took the phone and disconnected, not wasting a second. For a moment they stared at each other, neither moving. Khushi lay propped against the headboard, half slouched while he lay on his stomach between her legs. Her pulse hammered as she gazed at him, her body clenched.
Her name on his lips snapped all her remaining control. Nothing else mattered. Hardly knowing what she was doing, she thrust her hands into the thick locks of his hair, her mouth colliding with his.
Passion ignited as always, burning everything in its path. The bed shook as he rose upwards, moving restlessly against her, his erection pressing into her abdomen. Hands and mouths fought for more. Khushi had just wrapped her legs around his waist, shivering as their hips aligned when he suddenly picked her up in his arms, carrying her with ease.
"Arnav? Mmm... What are you doing?" she asked between heated kisses. He angled her bottom for better contact, growling faintly.
"Board meeting, remember? I'm saving time."
It was only when the spray of the hot shower hit her that Khushi realized his intentions. She was so lost in him, in his every movement.
Passion overrode everything as he set her against the tiles, his body covering hers. Her hands slipped across his flat abdomen, testing the firmness of the muscles underneath. His eyes sizzled as he took her lips, crushing their bodies together. The heated caress of his mouth descended low, touching her blatantly, possessively.
By the time they left the bathroom, the water had gone almost frigid and the mirrors were hazy with mist. Khushi lay spent in Arnav's arms. As he toweled her hair dry, she frowned up at him.
"We're so late for the board meeting. What will everyone think?"
He almost smiled, dragging her hard against his wet front. "What's there to think about? I'm the damn CEO. I can come and go as I please. I chose each person on the board of trustees. And as for anyone who does notice our delay, they'll be thinking: 'Oh ASR, the arrogant bastard's coming so late. And..'" He flicked a finger across Khushi's nose. "'Following behind him is a poor secretary left to work for the devil.'"
Khushi slapped his bare chest lightly. Rising on her tiptoes, she kissed his taunting mouth firmly. "I am not some poor secretary forced to be with you. I want to be here. With you. Now, hurry up, Mr. Raizada."
And then before he could grab her or even begin to tell her how much her words meant to him, she ducked out of his arms, heading to the closet.
His eyes were almost wolfish appearing as he followed her every move.
Khushi swung her hair over one shoulder, smiling impishly. "You change that side of the bed, I'll change this side. Don't you dare come here, Arnav Singh Raizada."
His eyebrows rose. "Is that a challenge?"
She shook her head quickly, but he was already stalking around the bed towards her.
"The board meeting..." she whispered, heart quaking.
Arnav threw off the towel around his neck and then dropped the second one from around his waist to the floor, kicking it away. Her eyes rounded. She backed up against the closet, her heart racing.
"W-we'll be late..." she stammered. "And we just..."
He pulled her flowery towel off of her, pulling her down on the bed. "The meeting can go to hell for all I care. Now stop arguing. You're mine, baby."
Part of Khushi wanted to argue, but as his lips fell on hers once more, she could do nothing but arch upwards. Why? Why could she not resist him?
Looping her arms around his neck, she lay pliantly against the sheets, quivering as he descended on top of her...
Surprisingly, they were only about 10 minutes late when they finally arrived at AR Designs' little known back entrance. Their shower together had saved time, so had their lack of a proper breakfast. Arnav had claimed to be not hungry, and Khushi had stuffed her mouth with an apple and some jalebis, eating as they drove.
As Arnav parked, she couldn't help but notice his frown, his brooding temperament. What had she done to deserve it? She'd held nothing back in the heat of passion, had given him everything.
"What's wrong?"
His eyes burned into hers. "Like you don't know."
She frowned as they walked inside. "But I really don't."
He did not answer, leading her to the boardroom. She hurried to match his much longer stride.
"Arnav, please..."
His expression darkened. When he spoke, he was the consummate CEO once more.
"Look, Ms. Gupta, the meeting is already behind schedule. I do not have time for this. Today is very important and I expect good notes from you. There should be an iPad waiting for you inside, use it."
Khushi stared at him with confusion. Where was the man who'd made wild, sweet love to her so thoroughly all night and morning long? Why was he acting so moody ever since they'd left the apartment? "Why are you behaving this way?"
"Text me," he instructed as he pushed open the glass door.
The filled to capacity boardroom became silent the moment he stomped inside, his powerful aura palpable. Khushi followed behind him, finding her seat next to some haughty appearing girls easily. It was the only empty chair left. And as he'd said, an iPad sat waiting for her.
"Begin," Arnav told the first speaker, taking a sip from the coffee mug Aman placed before him.
Khushi sighed as she sat down. Would she ever understand this man?
Ignoring him, she tried to pay attention to the presentation. It was a lot easier said than done. Because just then the iPad's screen flashed with a new text message--from him!
A: For the record, I'm still mad at you.
Her head whipped toward him, but he only winked, knowing very well how sexy he looked, how her body instantly responded. Khushi gritted her teeth, and quickly typed out her response. 
K: I'm angry with you too!
A: For what?
K: For being so grumpy and moody and not to mention, for interrupting Jiji's call. You shouldn't have done THAT while I was talking to her.
A: Liar. Don't tell me you didn't secretly enjoy every bit of 'THAT'.
K: Stop it!
A: Fine. We'll debate that later. But aren't you going to ask why I've been in a bad mood all morning?
She shook her head. K: No, that's normal for you.
A: !!
K: :)
Arnav bit back a grin. A: I'll get you back for that remark later, Ms. Gupta... in my own way.
K: Is that a threat?
A: No, baby. That's my solemn promise.
K: We'll see, Mr. Raizada. So why have you been behaving this way ever since we left the apartment?
A: You really don't know?
Khushi turned to face him, shaking her head.
A: Because of that damn saree you're wearing.
Her eyes widened. K: What?! That doesn't make any sense.
A: Makes perfect sense. All I want to do is unravel it from you and take my sweet time with every bit of skin revealed. Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to sit here? I want you in my lap. NOW.
Khushi blushed as his heated gaze seared her. Her heart fluttered. K: I should wear sarees more often then.
A: Hate me that much?
No, I-- Swallowing, Khushi typed something else instead. K: What do you think?
An announcement sounded: "And the next speaker is the head of the board of trustees with the plans for the next conference."
A: This is important. Stop disturbing me.
K: Excuse me! Who texted first?
He said nothing as he set the iPad aside and grabbed a pen and some documents. Only the slight playfulness in his eyes gave anything away.
Arnav was engrossed in the presentation when Aman came to his side discreetly, whispering: "Someone is here--"
"Not now," waved off Arnav.
His assistant though refused to budge, earning a swift frown from him. "He's not here for you, Mr. Raizada. But for Ms. Gupta."
Arnav's eyebrows knitted together. His eyes flew to Khushi--she was biting on her lower lip as she hurried to take down notes on the iPad.
"Who?" he bit out tersely.
"A young man. Karan Something."
The pen in Arnav's hand bent with force. 
"Take him to my cabin," he instructed. And then without missing a beat, he rose from his seat at the head of the table. "Excuse me everyone for a few minutes. And please continue with the presentation, Mr. Singh. I will get the notes."
The speaker nodded, talking on. Khushi raised her eyebrow at Arnav, appearing confused.
He gave nothing away. Marching out the door, he headed to his office, his hands fisting at his sides. So the boy had come to AR Designs, had he? Even after his cold demeanor with him the night before? Was what's-his-name really as stupid as he appeared, wondered Arnav? It certainly seemed that way. His jaw tightened.
Karan sat waiting in the glass cabin, looking a bit confused as he gazed about.
"Mr. Raizada will be right in," Aman informed him, expressionless. As soon as he turned to the door, the assistant almost chuckled. Poor kid, he thought, walking out. He has no idea that he's walked into a lion's den.
Exactly two minutes later, ASR sauntered in.
Karan stood up. "Good morning, Mr. Raizada."
Arnav stared at him hard and then saying nothing, settled behind the desk, his gaze darkening. "Why are you here?"
Karan's confusion doubled at his rude tone. "I didn't mean to disturb you. I told your assistant I just wanted to meet Khushi for a few minutes."
"Ms. Gupta is not your concern," bit out Arnav. His fists tightened under the mahogany table. It took everything in him not to grab the idiot by the collar and throw him out.
Karan though seemed oblivious. He laughed, shaking his head. "I know her really well. She's my childhood friend and maybe something more in the future."
Arnav's mouth twisted. He wanted to shout that no one could know Khushi as well as him. She was his dammit! Only his! Over his dead body would he let anyone take her away from him--least of all this idiot! But he could not publicly declare his hold on Khushi. His hands were tied. All because of that stupid contract. "Really?" he barked instead. "I heard that she rejected your proposal--flat out refused you in fact."
The boy flushed with ill-concealed embarrassment. "She's thinking about it."
A cool eyebrow rose. "You claim to know her, but do you really?" inquired Arnav coldly. "From what I've seen, Ms. Gupta makes decisions and sticks to them. Maybe you should respect that instead of stalking her."
"Stalking?" Karan practically balked. "She's my best friend and last night she was upset. I wanted to make sure she was alright." He leaned forward, his hands flattening against the wood of the desk.
Arnav saw a haze of red at that, reminded of the intense sessions of lovemaking that had taken place on the hard surface several times. "Get your hands off my table!" 
Karan was growing more and more uncomfortable. Khushi's boss was definitely the most arrogant and short-tempered man he'd ever met, but now he was possessive of his desk? It made no sense.
"Sorry," he mumbled, sitting back.
"You're sorry?" Arnav suddenly rose, standing over the younger man like some giant predator. "For what? Intruding into my space? Wasting my time? This is my office, you understand? You cannot just show up here and demand to meet your friend. Do you not have any sense of professionalism? Here, Ms. Gupta is only my employee, not your childhood acquaintance. Do you understand? She's not yours, she's only mi--"
"What's going on here?" interrupted a soft voice from the doorway. Startled, both men's heads whipped toward Khushi. She'd followed after Arnav when he hadn't returned immediately to the board meeting. Now she stood in her sari, her face confused as she considered the two of them. Karan looked almost sickly beyond his youthful complexion. Towering over him, Arnav looked dark and formidable, his anger hard to miss.
"Khush!" Karan leaped toward her as if Arnav was a beast who had been tormenting him for hours on end and she was his knight in shining armor.
"Karan, why are you here?"
He grasped her hand in both of his. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have come to your office I realize now. But I had to know if you're all right."
She tugged her hand away, mindful of the man fuming behind her friend. "Of course I'm fine. Why wouldn't I be?"
"But Khush--"
"That's enough," cut in Arnav, marching between them. The boy's every 'Khush' grated on his fraying nerves. He'd had more than enough of his nonsense. "You got your answer, right? She's perfectly fine. Now let Ms. Gupta get back to work."
"Of course," stammered Karan. He stared at Khushi with a warm smile. "I'll call you later." He frowned at Arnav as he turned his way. "Have a good day, Mr. Raizada."
Arnav didn't wish him the same, slamming the door shut the moment he walked out. He locked it, crossing his hands across his chest as he turned back to Khushi. She punched the buttons to close the curtains and lock the room--just as she'd seen him do many times before.
"What did you do to him?" she asked, hands on her hip. "He practically ran out of here."
"What did I do? He came here, dammit! And anyways," he shrugged, "I was entirely civil."
She stared at him doubtfully.
"Well as civil as he deserved me to be," Arnav amended.
Khushi walked to him, narrowing her eyes at him. "What are you planning? I know you're up to something."
He pulled her against him, molding his hand against her exposed waist. "Not much... just thinking of buying the company he works for and transferring him as far away as humanly possible."
"Because he's interested in you and I don't have the patience to deal with it. You're mine."
Khushi pushed him off of her. "See this is your problem! You're always trying to control my life and interfere. Why can't you just trust me? Why is it so hard? Have I given you any reason to doubt me?"
He grabbed her by the wrist, yanking her into his arms. "It's not you, Khushi. It's that idiot I don't trust."
She sighed. "Karan is just a friend for the hundredth time! He will accept my refusal. He's very understanding."
"And I'm not?" Hearing compliments for another man from her threw him over the edge. His hands tightened on her. When he spoke, his voice was all taunting. "He's perfect, isn't he? One of those golden, happy-go-lucky, friendly types? Much better than me, all dark and brooding. Poor Khushi, stuck with the villain instead of the hero."
She frowned up at him, her lips pursing. "At least Karan cares about me."
Arnav froze. Nothing she could have said could have pierced him more. "What? What the hell does that mean? That I don't care for you?" His hands captured her by the shoulders, shaking roughly.
Khushi pushed him away. "You hate me, don't you, Mr. Raizada? You've told me countless time by now."
He snarled as he drew her flat against his chest.
"Let me remind you that you're the one who hates me, Ms. Gupta! And--"
"I don't hate you."
Her quietly spoken words stilled him. He stared at her with astonishment.
And then with what sounded like a curse, he clung to her, his mouth finding hers and his tongue plunging deep.
He tasted her hungrily and then drew back, his eyes lighter than she'd ever seen before. "I don't hate you either."
Khushi smiled, nodding. She allowed a few more kisses and then stepped out of his arms, heading to the door.
"We should head back to the board meeting, it's probably still going on."
An insistent hand tugged at the end of her saree, stopping her in her tracks. Her eyes closed as he neared her, pressing into her from behind. His hands slipped under the saree, dragging her closer than she thought possible.
His voice was husky when he spoke, his lips trailing down the column of her neck. "Did you really think I'll let you leave without taking this saree off of you first? I need to have you again."
She could barely stand still as he circled around her, slowly and teasingly drawing off each layer. Her body felt limp.
Once he had her completely undressed, he took her to the leather chair, taking just a minute with his own clothes. Sitting down, he pulled her onto his lap.
"What--" began Khushi as he surged within her. "Oh!"
As their lips aligned and passion unfurled, she could do nothing but hold on. And then nothing and no one mattered. Because they were one, whole and complete as they were meant to be.
Later, as Khushi sat straddling him, gasping still, her lips curved into a soft smile. Arnav's breathing was equally ragged nd his hands were massaging her bare back, refusing to let go.
Khushi was reminded of their confessions. It wasn't much, but it was something:
"I don't hate you."
"I don't hate you either."
She cuddled against him, brushing a kiss over his heartbeat. She didn't know where they'd go from here. He was the most complicated, brooding, exasperating man she'd ever met. And yet, she could not imagine a single day without him. The realization stunned her.  Her eyes snapped open.
What had he done to her?
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  1. Hi there
    Regarding Desert Heat chapters 6 to 23.
    Please let me know how I can access these. I am really enjoying your books. You are very talented. So I am looking forward to reading the rest. Have read ch1 t
    o 5
    Thnx so much.


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