I seem to be on a Baby, Hold On roll so here is the next part:
I've been working on SP and DH but my schedule is literally packed and I'm on call this coming weekend. Will try my best… Here's some extended teasers till then. Click 'Read More'
ps. Comments go here. I've replied to everyone from Comment Thread 6. You'll find them there in pink.
Desert Heat by TINA!
Chapter 27: Weddings
It was that odd time of day when the moon was still out, but the sun was rising too, its rays threatening to break past the clouds as the sky changed colors at regular intervals.
For the twenty-five men kneeling on the sands of Raizada, each minute felt like an eternity. An inch closer to darkness. Heads bowed, arms locked behind their backs, their gazes were stoic and directed to the ground.
Akash scowled down at them, the corded end of a black leather whip tightening in his hands. Beside him stood Shyam, looking not as confident as usual. He had an air of definite uneasiness, his lips compressed in a thin line.
"You all were given one mission." Akash's voice rung out like quiet thunder, his fury obvious. "A single, bloody mission. To find ASR and that girl! Did I ask for too much?" At the silence, he bellowed: "WELL? DID I?"
The men shook their heads. "No, Maharaja."
The whip made a crackling noise as it connected with the sand. "And yet, we are no closer. I WANT THEM FOUND! AT ALL COSTS! I want to see that so-called Dark Prince in chains. I want to see him where you all are--at my feet!"
Shyam hobbled forward, his voice much meeker than normal. "We have discovered some information..."
"BUT NOT THEM! What good is your information if it does not lead to my half-brother's capture and subsequent death?"
"This is very important information, Maharaja. It was not easy to find by any means."
Glowering at the kneeling soldiers, Akash paced back and forth. "Go on... before I change my mind."
Shyam nodded hurriedly. "That beauty ASR travels with, Khushi, she is originally from Lucknow and--"
"Is that your important information?" A muscle leaped at Akash's jaw line. "I already know that! I was the one who took her from the train station. Or are you so incompetent and clearly stupid that you've forgotten that as well?"
"No, Maharaja," Shyam hastened to explain, a telltale glint appearing in his eyes. "There is more. I've learned that woman was traveling with her aunt and uncle the day you snatched her from the train station. They had all come to Rajasthan to have her married off. A childhood betrothal, my sources tell me. The man in question goes by the name of Nidhant Singh."
Akash made a disgusted face. "So? What does that have to do with anything? I want ASR caught and that Lucknowi beauty warming my bed--not his!"
Shyam's impatience could be sensed in how he rushed to explain. "But you see, Maharaja, this is the key to everything. This childhood betrothal. Obviously, the arranged marriage never took place. She's become ASR's woman now. Don't you see?" His beady eyes lit up. "We can use this against him. If we spread the story that ASR has stolen another man's rightful wife, the people will turn against them. They are far too traditional to overlook such a blunder. All the good will he's gathered over the years will evaporate. And someone will step forward, steering us to where ASR is hiding. He will be found in the end--just as you desire."
Akash had been half-listening, but as he realized that this just might work, he laughed out loud. Shyam joined him, their laughter barking loud and crazed sounding. Even some of the kneeling soldiers found themselves grinning.
"That is perfect. Just perfect! The very people who adore him, who never tire of singing his praises, the people he has vowed to protect, will be the instrument of his downfall. They will lead us directly to him. Put the plan into immediate effect," instructed Akash, his gaze impassioned with sudden zeal. "I want every man, woman and child in Rajasthan to be able to recite this tale by five days time. ASR will not even guess what's happened till he's already defamed. It will be hysterical."
The soldiers laughed too, but that quickly turned to grim silence as Akash turned back their way.
"Did I command you to laugh? Am I amusing to all of you?" He did not wait for a response. "Do not think I've forgiven your absolute failure to catch that man for months now." His voice rose sharply. "Twenty lashes to each of you. Shyam, will you do the honors?"
His closest comrade rose, his glee palpable as he bowed low. "It would be my pleasure."
Blood seeped into the sands, slithering in thick, irregular rivulets as he did his King's bidding.
The soft-spoken murmur was followed by an equally hesitant knock.
Swearing, Arnav pulled his wife closer against his side. A frown marred his handsome features as he glanced at the locked bedroom door with a withering glare. Who the hell could it possibly be this early? It wasn't even quite dawn yet.
"Let me up," Khushi whispered, pushing gently against his chest. Their arms and legs were entwined and Arnav's head was buried against the side of her neck, his warm breath caressing her skin with each intake.
His hold on her did not slacken. "Whoever it is will go away," he insisted in a drowsy tone. "Sleep, love."
But the knocking would not cease. "Khushi? Are you awake?"
As Arnav grumbled and cursed, Khushi managed to slide out of his arms. Her hair tumbled down to her waist, a riot of messy, ebony curls. A look of thinly veiled, masculine approval crossed her husband's face as he watched her run a hand through her hair and adjust her saree. Blazing desire glinted in those eyes she loved so much.
He held his hand aloft. "Come back to bed."
To be continued…
Secret Passion by TINA! & Satina
Episode 27: Lunch with the Guptas
Khushi didn't know what woke her, but she found herself blinking awake. The bedroom was cast in shadows, only a faint glimmer of moonlight spilling inside through the closed curtains. She'd never like the darkness. It was so cold, so lonely...
Rolling onto her side, she reached for Arnav, wanting nothing more than to be encased by his searing body heat. To lose herself in his steely masculinity. Her palm instinctively smoothed over her husband's side of the bed.
It was empty. Cold. As if he hadn't been there for a very long time; maybe all night long. Although she was absolutely drained from the hellish twist of events at Indigo, all thoughts of sleep left Khushi at that jarring realization.
Besides, without him, falling back asleep would be impossible. She'd gotten so used to sleeping with Arnav's arms enveloping her and crushing her to him, that she knew it was pointless to even try. Worry gnawed at her insides. Where was he?
She rose up on her elbows, holding the bedsheet to her chest. "Baby?"
No answer. The clock on the nightstand told her what she'd suspected. It was the middle of the night. 2:54 AM. A crease lined Khushi's forehead as she gingerly stepped out of the bed, shivering.
The weather was turning chilly and as her husband preferred, she'd slept without a stitch of clothing covering her. Arnav always wanted her within easy reach and most nights, she'd wake up to find his mouth and hands on her, stirring her out of the depths of sleep in the most delicious, toe-curling manner.
"But I've never slept like this before," she'd told him the first time he'd tossed her nightclothes aside and pulled her down beside him. It had been at the old apartment, the night after he'd taken her virginity.
Her cheeks had burned at the look in his eyes. Sure, boys had admired her before, but Arnav Singh Raizada was clearly no boy. He was all man. Unbidden, her eyes traced over his beautiful, bare body, her breathing shaky as she studied the part of him that had been actually inside of her last night, joined as intimately with her as two people could possibly be. Her cheeks had flushed crimson and she'd averted her gaze, thankful for the dim light.
He'd angled her head back toward him and she'd once more been struck by how he was the handsomest, most unattainable, and coldest man she'd ever come across.
But in bed, he was so different. So warm, especially when he was gazing at her as he was now, with that mind-numbing intensity and raw hunger darkening his pupils. As if all he wanted in the world was her. It had made absolutely no sense to her during those days.
"From now on, you will sleep just like this. I want you to be accessible to me at all times. Clothes will just come in the way."
"But...I could wear something afterwards..."
He'd trailed a lazy finger down the length of her neck, going to her raging heartbeat. His thumb and forefinger had lightly pinched her nipple. A blaze of heat had shot through her. It had bewildered her back then. Her body's own traitorous response to this man.
"I'm going to want you a lot," Arnav had told her, dipping his head and laving her breast with his tongue. "And whenever that happens, I want you to be ready for me. Like you are now. It can be any time of the night..."
Her mouth had felt unusually dry. "Any time?"
He'd kissed her hard and long, making her gasp and quiver as his fingers found her wetness. "Anytime."
"But it feels so strange...and I might get cold..."
His smirk had been downright wolfish. He'd rolled her beneath him and spread her legs wide, settling on top. "Don't worry. I'll keep you warm."
Just the memory of those sinful embraces had her pulse pounding. Last night though, he hadn't reached for her. Not once. Instead, he'd placed a chaste kiss on her lips and held her in his arms till she'd dozed off.
Khushi had assumed it was because he was tired too, but as she thought over it now, her brow furrowed. When had he ever been so tired before? The answer was never. Stopping at the closest, she grabbed the first thing she saw. It happened to be a white silk robe, nearly sheer and very feminine. Tying the sash in a loose knot, Khushi pushed open the bedroom door.
"Arnav?" Her voice trembled.
He didn't reply again and her concern mounted. She'd known he was upset--furious actually--but still, it wasn't like him to leave their bed. To leave her alone.
Khushi eventually found him. He was not in the house, but outside by the pool, pacing back and forth. She almost didn't notice him, he was just a huge, dark shadow in the dim light, but then she saw the glowing end of something amber.
He halted at her voice, his gaze tracing over her willowy form. His mouth was compressed in a thin line as he ground out the cigarette. "You shouldn't be out here. It's late. Go back to sleep."
"Without you?" She shook her head, marching right up to him and taking his hands in hers. Her eyes wandered to the ashtray, but she didn't ask any questions, keeping their fingers laced. "You know that's impossible."
Her husband was silent, his eyes locked on her face with a bewildering mix of longing and heart-wrenching agony. It made her sharply inhale, her hands rising to either side of his face.
To be continued *runs*