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Dangerous Liaison 
Part III

Short Story By Khurshid Khoree

Back to Part II

Story so far: Amit and Daisy are growing closer to each other. Amit has not openly declared his feelings for Daisy yet but shows it in subtle ways. Daisy is very much in love with him and is determined to clear his name. She informs Amit about her meeting with Norma at the boutique and her suspicious behaviour thereafter and suspects Norma to be in league with Pranav Bajaj in framing Amit and voices her doubts to him, but he dismisses it believing that Norma would not stoop to that level. Daisy is determined to prove him wrong and takes it upon herself to get to the bottom of this whole sordid affair. 

When Amit took me home, he asked me out again and Thursday dinner plans were made. I got precious little sleep that night or the night after that with my heart filled with love and thoughts of Amit, and also of the far too many unanswered questions buzzing in my mind. Unlike Amit, I did not believe that Norma hadn’t had a hand in his dismissal. I knew it was just the kind of spiteful thing she would do.

The next day at work I happened to cross Norma’s path. She was wearing a new outfit, a beige coloured skirt and a deep blue silk blouse, lustrous pearls around her neck, and fancy high heeled leather boots. It looked expensive and very chic. On an impulse I turned back and looking Norma straight in the eye, I raised my voice to five decibels higher than the normal so that others in the office could also hear our conversation.

I said sweetly, “That’s a very expensive outfit you have on Norma? And the boots, Italian are they? Wow! They look very expensive. And oh yes, Norma, I saw your friend Vishal Bajaj at a restaurant on Saturday –”.

I was watching Norma’s face closely as I spoke and caught the sudden telltale twitch under her eye. However, when she spoke her voice was cool and controlled. “Who are you talking about Daisy? Vishal Bajaj, did you say? I don’t know anyone by that name!”

She sounded so convincing I might have believed her if it hadn’t been for that tiny twitch. Not getting daunted by her coolness, I stood my ground.

“Yes you do!” I insisted firmly. “I saw you talking to him in that boutique the other day. He works for QAC Systems. But I am sure you know that already, don’t you?”

Norma’s eyes narrowed and I saw an angry flush creep up beneath her skin. “Just what are you trying to insinuate, Daisy?” she hissed like a deadly viper.

I threw caution to the wind. “Oh nothing in particular, except I can’t help thinking why Mr. Mody fired the wrong person when he sacked Amit Khanna!” I said and walked on leaving her standing open mouthed behind me.

I felt pleased with myself, almost triumphant. Even if she knew I couldn’t prove a thing against her, at least I had given her something to worry about and to those who witnessed our conversation to have something to think about.

The next few days she seemed to make a conscious effort to keep out of my way.

On Thursday as planned Amit and I went out to dinner and then for a long drive. The atmosphere was romantic and I didn’t want to spoil the pleasant mood he was in, so I kept the encounter with Norma to myself.

The following day at work I was feeling great and peppy and decided to have lunch that day in our office canteen. Sunil joined me too; both of us trays in hand were looking for a table when I sighted Norma alone on a table for four. We both headed towards her, seeing us coming she jumped up and made a bee line for the door leaving the fruit salad half eaten and her coffee untouched.

“Good heavens! What was all that about?” Sunil asked perplexed staring after her retreating back. I didn’t answer pretending I hadn’t heard him. I was staring at the chair next to the one Norma had just vacated. In her haste she had left her designer handbag behind.

Sunil hadn’t noticed it as he was walking back to the food counter to pick up the salad he had forgotten. My mouth dry I reached for the bag.

Normally, it was not my style and I wouldn’t dream of prying into someone’s bag. But then, Amit’s strained, grim and unhappy face flashed in front of my eyes. I was determined to help clear his name, for that I had to do something, anything, I had no choice. I opened the bag. It had the usual paraphernalia – make up, credit cards, wallet, cheque book, tissues, glares, brush, lipstick, a pack of cigarettes and a diamond studded expensive lighter, a bundle of crisp five hundred rupee notes and a small diary.

I looked up in time to see Sunil return and swiftly not giving myself time to think of what I was doing I took out the diary and slipped it into my pocket, zipped up her handbag and slipped it on to the floor.

“Norma’s left her handbag behind,” I remarked casually as Sunil rejoined me. I tried to speak normally but I could feel my cheeks burning and I was sure that the guilt of what I had done was written all across my face.

Sunil didn’t seem to notice anything amiss, though he looked a bit puzzled when after a few mouthfuls of my salad, I announced I was not hungry and got up to leave.

“What. Why! You were famished when we came here? And you love this salad.” He sounded surprised. I shook my head – guilt had ruined my appetite. Besides, I was dying to find out what was in that diary.

At the first opportunity I got, I opened the diary. It was a real let down – it was filled with jumbled up meaningless words and numbers, it didn’t make any sense. As I flicked through the pages I tried hard to hide my disappointment. What had I expected? Something that would prove that Norma and not Amit was the culprit I asked myself contemptuously. Well, it was my bad luck that I had gone through all that trouble and given myself a really bad bout of consciousness for nothing.

I decided I would hand the diary over to the lost property counter the next day but not before I take another look at it at home that night. Which I did, and yet again it left me perplexed. What were these entries? Upset at my inability to see through it I flung the diary on the table and wondered if Norma had realized that it was missing from her bag.

Just then the phone rang; I answered and nearly fell back when I heard Norma’s angry voice at the other end.

She didn’t waste time, “Where is my diary?” she demanded furiously. “Don’t say you don’t have it – I know you took it out of my bag at lunch time!”

She sounded so mad and out of her mind, but at the same time I sensed great fear in her voice. What was she afraid of? That I would have found something hidden amongst those weird entries. I was excited at that thought; there was some secret she didn’t want me to find out. I glanced at the small red leather bound diary lying on the table. My mind raced ahead. I had to think fast. I decided to play it up to her and to try and bluff my way out to buy time.

“Yes, I have got your diary Norma.” I replied calmly. “And I have found some very interesting information. It took me sometime to figure it out but when I did it took my breath away.”

“You bitch! Who else have you shown it to? She shrieked out loud and out of control. I could feel her anger through the phone.

I didn’t answer and her voice turned up an octave higher. “You won’t be able to prove anything. I shall deny the diary is mine. You are making a very big mistake Daisy; you will not live to tell anyone what you have discovered.” She threatened.

 My heart was thumping – this was better than I had thought and it was big, but I needed some more information from her.  I had to make her incriminate herself.

“If you want the diary back Norma you can have it, and I haven’t shown it to anyone yet.” I bluffed. “It’s going to cost you fifty lakhs to get it back.”

I heard her taking in a sharp breadth, “Alright. It’s a deal. But I want it right now! Come to Five Gardens at Dadar, I will meet you there in half an hour near the clock tower.”

I glanced quickly at the clock. If I take a taxi I will make it in twenty minutes. But I wanted more time – I had to inform Amit and tell him about it. I certainly wasn’t going to let the diary slip from my hands until he had seen it. Maybe he would know what the entries meant.

“It won’t be possible for me to be there in half an hour.” I told her. “I have just oiled my hair and I need to wash it first.”

“If you want your money, you’ll be there on time.” She yelled before slamming the phone hard in my ears.

With shaking hands I dialed Amit’s number. Reaction was setting in as I held on to the receiver for support. The ringing of the phone was sounding very loud almost like thousand bells clanging away to glory. Amit please pick up the phone, pick it up. There was no response. The sick feeling in the pit of my stomach started rising towards my throat. Who do I turn to for help? I knew I was in big trouble. Should I call Sunil and Rhea? But no, they did not know what I had done. Then I remembered it was Amit’s evening out with some friends. I tried his mobile, it was switched off.

Story continued here.....