*Warning: Mild peppering of adult content at the end of the chapter. You have been duly warned if you do not wish to read*
Persephone woke with what felt like a hangover, her head was spinning, she looked bleary eyed around the room.
“Good, you are awake.” said a voice. Persephone looked to see the doctor who had attended to her previously just walk into the room. “How are you feeling Persephone?” She asked. Samir followed closely behind her.
“Err I am fine. Just feel like I have a hangover for some reason?” Frowning at herself she asked, “I am sure I didn’t have anything to drink yesterday?” Why couldn’t she remember what she had been doing last night?
“No Persephone, you didn’t have anything to drink, you were drugged.” said Samir quietly.
Drugged! Persephone sat up in shock, thinking back, she had been here, then gone out to take some pictures, seen Toofan. She murmured , “I was with Toofan...then I was with your brother,” and then her thoughts were hazy, but she realised something had gone wrong there.
“Persephone don’t try and think too hard, it seems you remember quite a lot, slowly I am sure the rest will all come back to you.” The doctor said kindly. “Today I suggest you take it easy, drink lots of fluids, you will be fine in a couple of hours.”
The doctor took her blood pressure and did a general check up, declaring she was fine. Samir stood by, staring intensely at her, his face closed.
As soon as the doctor left, Bahadhur Singh came in with a some mangoes, trying to bring some lightness to the atmosphere. Samir had been especially quiet all morning. He knew Samir was angry that they had not found Raghav yet. “Madam, these are fresh from the farm today, I hope you enjoy them.”
Persephone's eyes lit up, “I love mangoes!” she said with delight.
Bahadhur Singh smiled and said, “let me get them prepared for you.” Heading out of the room.
“Samir are you OK? You haven’t said a word?” Persephone asked with concern. He looked so withdrawn and unapproachable today. Wearing a white linen shirt and an old pair of well fitting jeans he looked incredible, but his long lean length seemed taut and stiff as if he were fighting some inner demons.
Samir snapped out of his dark thoughts and smiled at her. “I am so glad to see you are feeling better. You should rest as the doctor advised. Is there anything you need?”
“Actually I am quite bored just resting, first I will have a shower and get ready and then could we go out and walk around for a while?”
He threw her a concerned glance, “Are you sure you are up to walking around?” Watching her as she slid off the bed, he rushed to her side to help her to the bathroom.
“Samir! I am fine.” Persephone said straightening up, “I will be ready in 20 minutes.”
He smiled at that, “A woman who can get ready in 20 minutes! That's priceless!” He declared, still smiling, he left her to go and get ready.
Persephone walked into the reception rooms of Raani Saheba's apartments some thirty minutes later. Samir glanced at his watch and raised an eyebrow, his eyes drinking her in. She looked so beautiful in a light blue long skirt and matching kurti. The damp tendrils of her red gold hair drying around her shoulders, her amazing blue-violet eyes bright and smiling.
Perse gave him a dazzling smile and said, “Woman's prerogative.”
As she had showered, the memories of yesterday had flooded back. How Samir's brother had drugged her with lemonade, how he had tried to force himself on her. Samir's face as he had seen her there on that bed, how tenderly he had wrapped her in that sheet and carried her out of there, how gently he had held her last night when she had the nightmare. She had pushed the thoughts about what if...out of her mind and concentrated on the fact that Samir had been there throughout her nightmare. That he blamed himself was clearly evident in his manner last night, his words and his behaviour today.
“Samir, I only have a day or two left here.” she said quietly, “err I want to make the most of them.”
Dark eyes looked at the red bruises near her lips and more on her neck and a pained expression came over his face, “Persephone..how much of yesterday do you remember?” He asked quietly.
“I remember all of it Samir, all of it.” she repeated.
His eyes closed in pain and he seemed to sway a little, as the words impacted on him.
“I remember how concerned you were when you found me, I remember how you wrapped me up so tenderly in a sheet covering me from prying eyes, of how you chased away my bad dreams at night, how you held me all night in your arms so I would not be frightened. Samir I remembered all of it.”
Bahadhur Singh who was listening at the door had tears in his eyes as Persephone said these words.
“You don’t remember what he...my brother...”
“Half-brother!” she interjected.
“What he tried to do to you, he tried to rape you Persephone!”
“But he didn’t get the chance Samir, because you came and saved me. There is no point thinking about what if, when it didn’t happen.” she declared practically.
She spotted Bahadhur Singh and a manservant at the door with the mangoes all beautifully chopped in sundae dishes with ice-cream on the side, also a range of snacks and tea, with a gasp of delight she went up to the manservant and took a dish.
“I am so hungry! Bahadhur Singh this looks delicious.”
Samir stared at her, a frown on his face. How could she dismiss what happened so easily? His own half-brother had tried to rape her, he didn’t understand her at all. He watched her tucking into the food with the delight of a child. Chattering away with Bahadhur Singh as if nothing serious had happened to her.
When she finished eating, she dragged them out for a walk. The evening was settling in, the heat slowly ebbing as the cooler breeze came down from the mountains. They walked towards the stables and Persephone went straight to Toofan's stall.
Samir could not believe how Toofan was with Persephone, she had him eating out of her hand. Toofan the beast that all his stable boys were scared off and only he could ride was nuzzling up to her like a tame mare, she seemed to have bewitched everybody.
“I would love to go for a ride again on you.” she muttered to him lovingly, and then as he gobbled up her mints, she chastised him for being greedy to which he snorted as if he understood everything she was saying.
Samir nodded to the stable boys to get his saddle ready. Opening the gate to Toofan's stall he led him out into the courtyard.
Her eyes sparkled. “Really, Samir will you take me out again on Toofan? Thank you, I cant believe it!” she gasped.
Bahadhur Singh said smiling, “I will take your leave now sir, madam I have several matters to attend to.”
Samir gave him a nod, he knew Bahadhur Singh was going to ring around the farms and the police to see if there had been any sightings of Raghav at all.
Toofan snorted with delight, excited about going for a run. Once they saddled him up Samir placed his hands around her waist and lifted her up, this time Perse was not scared out of her wits, she leaned forward and gently soothed Toofan as Samir vaulted on behind her. He led Toofan out of the yard, gently easing Perse against his length so they became one, riding together, following the rhythm of the horse.
Perse leaned back against him, this time she let his arms hold her tightly against him, drawing from his strength. The sinking sun's golden rays lit up the evening sky, as dusk settled in.
“Persephone, do you remember that fateful day we met, it was an evening just like this, when you fell into my arms your eyes blazing and angry. Those incredible eyes that drew me in straight away.”
“As I recall you didn’t seem in the least bit attracted to me, in fact you dropped me on the terrace even though I had injured my foot!” Perse laughed, recalling that day not so long ago.
A chuckle escaped him, “That's because you my lovely, called me an idiot Maharajah and playboy I recall.”
“Well if the shoe fits...”Perse teased giggling, turning back to look at him with sparkle in her eyes.
“You witch!” He gasped with mock exaggeration squeezing her against his chest. It was so good to see her smiling, last night the terror in her eyes had filled him with dread. He thought she would never smile again. He breathed in her sweet perfume as if he could not get enough of it.
They rode into the mountains, Samir letting Toofan have his lead, as he picked up speed enjoying the exercise. The ride was exhilarating and Persephone loved every moment of it, held safely in the arms of the man she had fallen in love with. She relished the blue veil of the night sky as it fell, sweeping away the last of the sun's golden rays for another day. She would be leaving this beautiful land of her father, in a few days time, but would never forget the man who had stolen her heart completely. As before hardly a word was said as they both became lost in their own thoughts.
They made their way back after a while. Samir gently eased her down from the saddle.
“Thank you Samir, thank you Toofan.” she said gently petting Toofan as he was settled back into his stall by the grooms. They made their way back into the apartments, where Bahadhur Singh was waiting for them with dinner.
“Any news?” Samir asked him, as Persephone went to wash her hands.
“Err... no Sir nothing as yet.” Bahadhur Singh replied, he was just as angry that Raghav had managed to avoid all his efforts at capturing him.
Samir's face clouded over with anger. Which hole had Raghav vanished into? No matter, he thought, his team were already in Delhi and would be here by tomorrow, then he could assign people to search for him full time, and also have security for Persephone 24 hours a day.
Perse came back into the room, bright and breezy.
“Bahadhur Singh, this food looks fantastic. I am famished again.” Persephone said, “If I stay here for a few more days I will become huge, just as well I am leaving tomorrow.” Persephone declared.
“Tomorrow?” Both Samir and Bahadhur Singh said in unison.
“Yes Tomorrow, I need to go to Mumbai and have a word with the a publisher, they emailed me today to say they are interested in publishing my book and then I will be flying back home.”
Samir's eyes darkened at the thought of Persephone leaving him to go back home. Would he ever see her again? He didn’t want her to leave, but then again wasn’t that what he was wishing for anyway, that she went far away from the poison that seeped through the cold marble of this palace as possible, and stayed far away from him so that he would not taint her with his darkness.
“But madam so soon?” Bahadhur Singh asked looking crestfallen.
Her eyes fixed on Samir, Persephone whispered, “If not tomorrow then the next day, I have to go Bahadhur Singh my time here is over.”
Bahadhur Singh looked at Samir with imploring eyes, but all Samir said was, “I will make the arrangements for you Persephone.”
“No don’t worry, Arunji and Sunitaji are going to drop me to the train.”
“No Persephone, Bahadhur Singh will go with you and I will have security arranged for you by tomorrow. You are not to go anywhere without them.” Samir told her in no uncertain terms.
“Samir don't you think that's a little excessive. Rahav took advantage of an opportunity and thankfully because of you he failed. He will not try to attack me again.”
“Persephone, there is no discussion on this matter, you will have security with you at all times.”
“Samir you are being high handed about this. I don’t need anyone to look after me, and soon I will be in England far away from any danger.”
“Until Raghav is caught, my team will look after you in England as well. That is my final word, this is not open to debate Persephone!” Samir said his eyes full of fire, he looked exactly like an impervious Maharajah.
“I am not going to go around like royalty with a team of security, the whole idea is ridiculous, get that through your royal brain will you!” Persephone replied angrily.
“Err.... shall we have dinner and talk about this.” Bahadur Singh tried to calm both of them, he smiled to himself, they were evenly matched these two. Samir was being high handed, accustomed to having his every word actioned without argument and Persephone was an independent woman not accustomed to having a man tell her what to do.
They sat down to eat both of them glaring at each other. Bahadhur Singh watched them with delight, it was clear to him that they were both in love but neither was willing to declare it. Samir because of his past, and Persephone because she wasn’t sure of Samir's feelings.
“Madam it is wise to go with what Sir says in this situation,” Bahadhur Singh said gently, “Raghav is an unpredictable animal. There is no rhyme or reason to his thinking, admittedly he is an opportunist but he also has his uncles abilities to seek out revenge for revenges sake.”
Perse looked at Bahadhur Singh's face, his proud Sikh bearing made him all the more loveable. She could clearly see the love he had for Samir and the concern he felt for her safety.
“I understand what you are saying, fine, I will agree to security till I am in India after I return to England however I will not need it, in Oxford it will not be necessary anyway. My flat is a few minutes from the campus and mostly my days are spent in there, which is very secure.”
Samir looked at her, but didn’t say anything. He would make sure that his security team kept a discreet eye on her followin her to England. They would have to be extra careful though if she found out that they were trailing her, she was bound to have a fit.
Bahadhur Singh took their leave after dinner, and as Samir didn’t seem to be in a mood to talk, Persephone went to her room to catch up on emails and work, eventually going to sleep.
She woke with a start, someone was in the room. Her heart pounded, until she saw Samir outlined against the moonlit window.
“Samir.” Persephone whispered. He turned from the window to look at her. The moonlight fell on his face and she saw the tears in his eyes.
Slipping out of bed, in her nightshirt, she walked and stood in front of him. “Samir!” Her hand reached up and caressed his handsome face, he looked so sad, his face full of regret.
“Persephone, I should have warned you about them, about Raghav, I should have looked after you!”
“It was not your fault I don’t blame you, and nothing happened thankfully.” She replied softly her eyes full of tenderness, as she saw the pain in his eyes.
“Persephone you don’t understand! I have the same blood running through my veins as them!” He went to carry on but Persphone put her hand over his mouth and shook her head as if to say no, don’t say any more.
“Samir you are not them, you are a man of principles. You care about others, I have seen the way in the short time you have been here you have vastly improved conditions for the farmers, servants, hospitals and clinics. Samir you are your mothers son through and through, Bahadhur Singh tells me that she was just as principled and full of good like you.”
“Persephone.” he whispered, his dark eyes shone down at her, his arms going around her like steel bands, he crushed her to him, unable to speak for a moment. “ You are so full of sunshine.”
She breathed him in, he smelt so heavenly, she buried her face into the strong column of his neck.
“You are so exquisite...your skin is like silk.” He whispered his lips trailing across her throat, and moving up to her chin, for a second he stared into her eyes so blue and then with a sigh his lips closed over hers.
He kissed her with all the pent up longing and passion he had held in check for so long. Persephone responded back with equal passion her fingers threading themselves through his dark lustrous hair, bringing him closer to her.
Hands that had held her so tenderly, now roamed over her seeking out her silken skin, his fingers splaying against her back, creating havoc to her senses. His lips trailed down the bruises and across the marks that Raghav had left, as if to kiss away the hurt. A low moan escaped her.
“Samir!” she gasped.
With dark eyes clouded with passion, he broke off a kiss and looked down at her as if seeking her permission.
Reaching up she touched her lips against his, her eyes telling him everything. With a deep groan he lifted her in his arms, and carried her to the moonlit bed.
When she awoke Persephone was alone. She smiled stretching voluptuously, wincing as her body ached in places she hadn’t even known existed. The sheets were in complete disarray, with a smile she remembered the way they had become so lost in each other, Samir had been so gentle, and yet incredibly passionate. There was not a centimetre of her skin that he had not made sing to his touch. He had to love her, otherwise making love like that was not possible, Perse thought. Slipping out of bed she grabbed fresh clothes and went for a shower.
Persephone. She had brought sunshine into his dark world. She had given him herself without hesitation, giving him a gift so precious that it now stuck like a knife in his heart, she had been a virgin. He had taken from her but had nothing to give back, he loved her more than life itself but he could not return her love, if not now then later surely his darkness would overwhelm her. Its best if they finished it here and now before he ruined her life forever, Samir decided.
“Samir,” Perse said with a sigh slipping her arms around his waist from behind. He was standing so still looking up at his mother's picture. Her body responded to the heat in his and she pressed herself closer, snuggling into him. She felt him stiffen as she hugged him, turning he faced her his eyes expressionless and dark.
“Last night was........” Perse said softly smiling up at him a rosy blush on her cheeks.
“A mistake!” He said quietly.
Her eyes wide she looked at him, “A mistake? Samir! How can you say that? Persephone replied, astonished at the change in him.
“Persephone last night should never have happened, I should not have let it. It's my fault...I cant undo what took place but it was a mistake. I got caught up in emotions and let it happen, I apologise.” He said, watching the shock run through her. He clenched his fists in an effort to stop from crushing her close to him and wiping that fear off her face. He hated himself but he had to send her away from him.
She moved away from him slowly as if she had received a great blow. Visions of them entangled in the throes of passion flashed before her. Of how he had worshipped her body with his hands and mouth, how he had loved her as if he couldn’t get enough of her. Eyes wide she looked at him. His face was closed, his eyes expressionless. Was this the same man who had tears in his eyes yesterday? She had to get through to him.
“Samir, last night was not a mistake. It was the most beautiful experience of my life and you were there all the way with me. No! Don’t deny it!” she carried on her voice rising on a sob. Could she have been that wrong about him?
“Got caught up in emotions? Yes, emotions that we felt, both of us together!” Tears ran down her face, as she remembered how he had whispered her name over and over again as he made love to her.
“As I said before I got caught up in it all, Persephone, what can I say I am sorry, I know that doesn’t help you, but its best if we forget it as one of those things, and go our different ways now.” His voice was flat, his face grey, the eyes expressionless.
“Stop apologising Samir! And feeling guilty about it! I don’t want your guilt on my conscience. Don’t add it to all your other guilt about Raghav. I made love with you with my eyes open, I will never feel guilty about such a beautiful night. If you want to live with the ghosts of the past and not move on then I can't stop you, but remember this when you want to move on I will be waiting.”
With that Persephone turned on her heel and walked out, leaving him standing there as if he were
carved out by stone.
© Jane Meme Copyright 27.02.2012