So this is it as they say the last chapter. If you have enjoyed do let me know. Love to read your comments!
The palace was a lonely soulless place he thought as he wandered from room to room without Persephone. Amar Singh and Choti Raani had packed up and left to live in the Delhi apartments. Samir noticed that they had taken whatever valuables they could with them including a lot of the furniture but he couldn’t work up enough anger to bother about getting it back.
Even Bahadhur Singh was not there to break the silence, telling him on the phone that he had gone off to see a relative in the UK who needed him. Bahadhur Singh had tried to persuade him to contact Persephone again, pleading with him to at least call her, but he had assured him that Persephone would be better off without him.
“She will find someone Bahadhur Singh and be happier with him then me in the long term.” he had told him firmly. Bahadhur Singh had rung off with a sigh and Samir had resigned himself to trying to live without her.
Samir threw himself back into his work with gusto, flying to New York, but his restlessness led him back to India and his mother's apartments. It seemed that Persephone had somehow managed to leave her presence behind everywhere. He could see her smiling at him and looking at him with those blue-violet eyes that undid him at every turn. Every time he looked at his mothers portrait he could see Persephone in her. He would get Bahadhur Singh to give her his mothers sapphire jewels on his behalf, he could get them couriered to him in the UK. That way Bahadhur Singh could tell him first hand how she was. It had been just over two months now and a moment had not passed when she had not crowded his thoughts. No woman had affected him this way ever, but then he had never fallen in love before either, keeping himself at a distance in each and every relationship, always keeping a part of himself back and moving on just as soon as it looked likely that the situation was getting serious.
Persephone had come in and turned that all on its head. Somehow managed to see past all of that and get to the real him. How had she managed to do that? He examined it from every angle, there was no falseness in her at all, what she gave of herself was everything. She had given him her love, her happiness and her body. She embraced life with a smile, her excitement in every small thing brought pleasure to all that met her. Everyone succumbed to the spell that was Persephone, as her name said she was the bringer of spring in his life.
In return he had given her nothing but pain. His half-brother had tried to rape her, his uncle and aunt had tried to kill them both and worst of all he had selfishly taken such a precious gift from her for which he would never forgive himself. She was better off without him, perhaps she would have found someone else by now or will in the future that would bring her the happiness she deserved, but why did that thought hurt so much? He couldn’t even bear to think about someone else with his Persephone. Her in another man's arms, someone else claiming those sweet lips in a kiss, another man making love to her. Damn! Why did it hurt so much when he knew that it would be for the best.
He stared at the slide show on his laptop for the thousandth time losing himself in her memories.
Professor Gupta looked out of his window at the Oxford college spires. His eyes were moist with tears. Bahadhur Singh had just left, it was almost morning. He stared at the new dawn, his thoughts all jumbled. Persephone had fallen in love with a Maharajah, not only that but a billionaire and renowned businessman worldwide. According to Bahadhur Singh he was deeply in love with her too but because of his complicated past he had not admitted it to her.
Bahadhur Singh had told him, that Samir would make his daughter happy, and he had a plan that would make him realise that just as there could be no one else but Persephone in his life now for Persephone too there could be no other. He had agreed to go along with Bahadhur Singh's plan but if Persephone she found out, he knew she would react badly. Acting wasn’t his forte and he was sure Perse would catch him out straight away. He didn’t want to hurt her any more then she was hurting already but on the other hand Bahadhur Singh had managed to convince him that his plan would work like a dream.
“Johnson I need to hire an actor, a very good looking handsome young man, can you arrange for some candidates by tomorrow? We will need him for approximately half a day to a day.” Bahadhur Singh said to Johnson, his dark eyes twinkling. Thank god Prof. Gupta had agreed to go along with his plan. Samir in his eyes was being as stubborn as a bull. He was pining away in India and Persephone was the same here. Why couldn’t Samir see that Persephone would only be happy with him. Bahadhur Singh smiled to himself, let's test Samir's theory that he would be fine seeing Persephone settle with another man.
Johnson was good as his word. By the next afternoon he had managed to source three candidates according to Bahadhur Singh's specifications. Prof. Gupta, Bahadhur Singh and Johnson interviewed them and chose a very good polished young man to play the lead role in Bahadhur Singh's plan. After spending a whole afternoon making sure that the young man knew his lines and what his role was supposed to be, it was time for Prof Gupta to action his part of the plan.
“Call her now.” Bahadhur Singh urged.
Prof. Gupta paled, this was worse then any international conference he had addressed, Perse was sharp as a knife she was sure to catch him lying to her.
“It will be fine Vikram.” Bahadhur Singh said, excited to get his plan off the ground.
He picked up the phone and dialled her number she answered in a couple of rings, rushing straight in he said, “Perse darling I have had a friend of mine contact me from my old days in London. It seems his nephew is doing some research into Greek classics and he asked me if he could stay with me for a few days, he is coming tomorrow evening, could you pick him up for me and take him out to dinner? Err I have meetings with the board for the whole day and they usually run so late as you know.”
Perse frowned into the phone. “Which friend is that dad? From London? Not Uncle James's nephew? He is the only one I remember being interested in classics, and that's because he had a crush on me!”
“Err no it's not someone you know, his name is David. I will let you know the actual time and place when its fixed.”
She didn’t feel like going out at all but her dad had already committed so she said. “OK no problem dad I will look after him.”
Prof. Gupta put the phone down with a sigh of relief at having done his bit. Now it was Bahadhur Singh's turn to call Samir and play his part.
Bahadhur Singh dialled and waited. “Thank Goodness you called!” came Samir's concerned voice down the line. “I was getting worried, why didn’t you answer your phone?”
“Samir beta!” Bahadhur Singh said feebly into the phone, then coughed horribly.
“You’re ill! Where are you?” Samir's heart pounded. Bahadhur Singh never addressed him as Samir unless he was not himself.
“I am in the UK, I was visiting Oxford, I came to see an old friend of mine but I had a minor heart attack yesterday.” Bahadhur Singh crossed his fingers behind his back and carried on, “I just phoned to say that the doctors are not going to let me fly for a few days in case it happens again..Samir...” and he again coughed horribly down the line.
“Give me your address I will be there by tomorrow. You are not to travel anywhere alone, you hear me. I am coming!”
Bahadhur Singh put the phone down with a huge grin on his face. He knew Samir would be packing his bag right now and be on his way in a couple of hours.
“Johnson now we have to book somewhere to eat near my hotel for that evening, Vikram you make sure Persephone is there with David.”
“David you know what to do. Act very enamoured with madam, if I know his highness it will not take much to bring him to his senses.”
Bahadhur Singh sat back in his seat with a determined look in his eyes. His plan would work, it had to, he couldn’t bear to let down his Raani Saheeba again. He would bring Persephone back to Samir. He would bring them together so they realised that they could only be happy with each other.
Samir arrived by late next afternoon at the hotel Bahadhur Singh was staying at, Bahadhur Singh lay in bed pretending to be ill.
“I am feeling much better today Sir, I am so sorry to make you come all the way here.” he said trying not to show how excited he was at seeing him.
Samir glared at him. “You should have called me first, the moment you were feeling ill. Have the doctors visited you today? What's the doctor's name? Let me call a specialist from London!”
Bahadhur Singh groaned, fidgeting in bed with embarrassment at having to play ill when he felt as fit as a fiddle.
“Err yes I was checked out thoroughly this morning and in-fact I was told that I should get up and about this evening, errr go and get some fresh air.” Bahadhur Singh said trying to sound convincing.
“Really? I thought after a heart attack you should get plenty of rest.” Samir questioned, raising a dark brow.
“Oh yes, but it was a very small one. And … I ..I feel fine. Sir why don’t you settle into your rooms while I have a shower and get ready. Err then we can get some fresh air like the doctor advised.”
Samir looked at Bahadhur Singh suspiciously what was he up to?
Persephone looked at her watch again. The London train was late. She got up and walked up and down the platform unable to shake off the feeling that something was about to happen. Several men glanced her way, she made an arresting picture in a pretty floral flowing day dress.
Her phone rang, she looked at the display it was her father.
“Dad, Hi! I am at the platform the train is running late.”
“Persephone, I have booked a table for you at the new Italian place on the High street. Its called Zaza. Its booked under your name, why don’t you take David there and I am hoping to join you after my meetings finish.”
Her dad had booked a table? Persephone frowned. He never booked anything, always just turning up and hoping that they would have a table, invariably with his luck they always did. Something was going on here and she wasn’t sure what. She just hoped her dad had not decided to set her up with someone, recently he had been talking about moving on. Protectively she placed a hand on her abdomen, she had yet to tell him about the baby.
She was about to ask him, when she heard the train approaching, so she said, “OK fine, see you later dad.” the train chugged into the platform and a few people got out, she approached a man who matched the description her father had given him.
“Yes that's me and you must be Persephone.” Smiling he extended a hand. Perse shook hands with him. He seemed a nice enough young man. They chatted as she drove him into Oxford.
Johnson rang Bahadhur Singh to tell him that they were on their way. “Thank you Johnson.” Bahadhur Singh said terminating the call, he had to get Samir to the restaurant before she got there, so it didn’t look too suspicious.
“Sir I am ready to go, I will meet you downstairs in the lobby.” he said using the hotel line.
Freshly showered, Samir combed his hair and buttoned up his shirt. Bahadhur Singh was definitely up to something. He had given him the run around on many questions when he had asked with regards to why he was in Oxford of all places. So near to where Persephone lived and worked, but Bahadhur Singh had assured him that he was here to meet a friend of his from his school days, nothing at all to do with madam. Tomorrow he was going to get a doctor to look at him and if he pronounced Bahadhur Singh fit enough, he would fly him out of here and back home before they ran into Persephone.
They walked down the High street, Bahadhur Singh smiled and said he felt much better, upon seeing an Italian restaurant he persuaded Samir to go and have dinner there.
“The receptionist was telling me that this is a very nice place to eat, I am famished, let's go and try this.” They walked in and Bahadhur Singh requested a table in a corner, once agreed he practically ran forward to secure the chair which faced the wall, making sure Samir sat looking out onto the other tables.
Samir looked at him quizzically, but Bahadhur Singh hid behind a menu pretending to study it with great interest. They ordered and waited for the food to arrive. Bahadhur Singh asking about what had happened to Raghav, Choti Raani and Amar Singh whilst he had been away.
Samir told him that Raghav was in custody and his trial would be coming up in a few weeks time. Choti Raani and Amar Singh had moved to Delhi and were living there now. He was just about to launch into what his plans for the palace were, when his heart nearly stopped. Persephone walked in with a man. From their corner table he could see her clearly without being spotted himself.
It all slotted into place, he looked at Bahadhur Singh, his eyes dark and accusing. He wanted to rage at him but on the other hand seeing Persephone was like seeing an oasis for a man stranded so long in a desert. She looked very pale making her red hair look brighter. Her normally sparkling blue eyes had a wan quiet look about them now. He watched as the man put a hand on her waist to escort her into the seat that the waitress had showed them. His fingers curled into fists to stop himself from calling out.
Perse smiled at David for the umpteenth time, hoping that her dad would turn up quickly. David was a nice enough young man but he did have a tendency to be too touchy feely. He kept touching her hair and putting his hands on her arm. Now, she was sure her dad was trying to set her up with him.
“Err what did my father tell you about me?” She asked straight to the point.
David seemed startled by that question, a frown marked his handsome face. “Err nothing much, just that you are also a specialist in classics, and you write books. Did I say something wrong?” he reached out and closed his hands over hers. It was Persephone's turn to look startled. She hastily withdrew her hands out from under his and sipped her water thirstily. Perhaps she was wrong about her father trying to set her up. Perhaps David was just being friendly. She smiled wanly at him again, looking at her watch. A curious prickly feeling that she was being watched came over her, but then she felt like that a lot lately, so she dismissed it. She peered around the restaurant but couldn’t spot anyone she knew. Samir was not going to suddenly appear. Why couldn’t she get that into her head, she told herself firmly.
Samir sat stiffly watching them his eyes blazing with fury. Why did he keep touching her when she was clearly shrinking away from him. Was Persephone in a bad relationship? Was he bullying her? All sorts of angry thoughts crowded his mind.
Bahadhur Singh watched the emotions run across Samir's face. It was just as he had thought, when Samir actually saw the reality of what he had been saying he would not be able to stand seeing madam with anyone else. At that precise moment Samir looked into his eyes and Bahadhur Singh knew he had realised the truth for himself. Samir's emotion filled eyes told him. Bahadhur Singh nodded acknowledging the fact, a smile broke out his lips, he had been right to go to these lengths to make him understand.
The starters arrived, the waiter placed the garlic bread in front of Persephone. Immediately the strong smell hit her senses and a wave of queasiness hit her hard. She reached for the cold water again downing it in one gulp.
“Are you OK?” David asked his eyes full of concern. He reached out and gently touched her cheek. Her eyes filled. She couldn’t stand anyone else touching her like that. Pain filled her heart.
“Err I am fine.” she rose, excusing herself before she burst into tears in front of this stranger, walking forwards looking for the ladies room.
She felt his presence before she saw him, turning she looked into the corner and there he was. Looking so utterly handsome in a casual light blue shirt and dark jeans. She blinked her eyes to try and clear her head. She was hallucinating again, but when she reopened them he was still there. She watched him slowly rise and come towards her. His eyes were filled with raw emotion, an emotion she saw that made him hold his body so stiffly. He looked thinner, his face had a grey strained look about it. She reached out with her hand to see if he really was there and not a figment of her imagination.
“Samir!” His name came to her lips like a prayer. Her fingers reached up as if to wipe away the deep lines of strain on his face.
“Persephone.” his voice was deep and so sweet to her ears. Then there was blackness as she fainted away into his arms.
“Persephone! Persephone!” Shocked to the core he caught her up in his arms. David came towards her reaching out to help.
“Don’t even think about it!” His tone like a whip, he stopped the younger man in his tracks. Bahadhur Singh winked at David to tell him his job was done whilst Samir lifted Persephone tenderly into his arms and strode out of the restaurant towards his hotel.
Bahadhur Singh paid quickly and walked out into the evening air after Samir. Looking up he prayed to the gods that these two would sort themselves out and he could go about arranging a wedding, fishing out his mobile he called Vikram to tell him the good news.
People in the lobby stared at him but Samir was not concerned with anything but the woman in his arms. She slowly opened her eyes and stared up at him.
“Samir! What are you doing here?”
“Shh!” He said entering his suite and walking to the bedroom. He laid her gently on the bed, picking up the phone from the bedside.
Persephone, leaned forward and cut the call. “Samir I don’t need a doctor.” she said reading his thoughts.
“You are so incredibly stubborn!” He said giving her a dark glare.
For the first time in months Persephone smiled and said, “Look who's talking. What are you doing here?” Hope filled her heart, maybe he had changed his mind and come for her.
“I came because Bahadhur Singh orchestrated a plan to make sure that I came to Oxford and met up with you.” He declared truthfully.
Bahadhur Singh? Perse wondered how he had managed to set up her going to that restaurant and then realised that her dad had to be involved as well.
“Dad!” She gasped. He has been behaving strangely for the last two days. The hope died in her heart, so he hadn’t come to find her at all of his own accord. She swung her legs over the bed ready to slip off. She had to leave quickly, seeing him would just add to the constant pain in her heart.
“Where do you think you are going?” He questioned pulling up a chair next to the bed and settling himself in it right in front of her. “You are to stay in bed until I am satisfied that you are not going to faint on me again.”
“Look Samir, it's clear that you were brought here under false pretences. I am sorry but by the sound of things my father must have been involved as well, I apologise on his behalf. I should go now.” She said staring directly into his eyes. A big mistake. His eyes were incredibly dark with emotion. His face taut with strain.
Then she remembered the baby. Should she tell him about the baby, but he would only feel obliged to make arrangements for the welfare of the baby. She could provide for it herself she didn’t need his money. It was clear that he hadn’t intended to see her again from what he just said.
“Bahadhur Singh was only........” Samir started choosing his words carefully.
“And my father, I think he had to be involved too. Perse interrupted softly. “But don’t blame them, they were only doing what they thought was right.”
“Persephone I am not blaming anyone.” he said with a sigh, wishing she would not look as if she was about to take flight any moment.
“We caught Raghav, he will be on trial for his crimes in a few weeks.” Samir told her watching her face closely. She was so close he could hear her every breath, her was breathing so shallow as if she were trying to keep control of herself and slowly losing the battle.
“That's good. I am glad.” she replied looking into his eyes again and then looking away quickly. She was glad that Samir had caught him, at least he could be at peace with himself now. She should tell him about the baby. He really had a right to know, her conscience told her.
“Choti Raani and Amar Singh have gone off to live in Delhi.” He said.
A puzzled look came over her pale face. “Why? I thought they loved the palace?”
“It's a long story Persephone, suffice to say that they wont be missing the lifestyle of the palace, enjoying the same in Delhi, but I no longer wanted them there in my home.”
Now her eyes became pools of deep violet, “but....but I thought you hated living there?”
“After you came and stayed there with me, that all changed. You made that place a home for me Persephone.” He gripped the handles of the chair he was sitting on so hard, stopping himself from reaching out for her, until she really understood what he was trying to get to.
“Oh!” she didn’t know what to say, her hands fidgeted in her lap. 'That's nice' seemed awkward.
“After you left I chased Raghav all over the far east until we caught him finally a couple of weeks ago. I thought I would feel fantastic that I caught him and justice would be done for you and so many others but all I felt was emptiness. I tried to throw myself back into work, but each time I kept being pulled back to the palace and my mother's apartments. When I was there I felt your presence everywhere, I felt you were there with me Persephone.”
Huge tears spilled over from her eyes and ran down her face, his face was filled with so much pain.
“I grew up seeing my mother suffer so much. She loved my father but he never loved her, she tried to change him for the better and he killed her for it. My uncle and aunt never did a thing to stop him when they could have. I vowed that I would never allow myself to fall in love, I would never allow myself to get into a position where someone would have such a hold over me. My father, my uncle, Raghav my half-brother they are all terrible men, I feared that when it came to love I would be the same. I would end up hurting any woman who fell in love with me. I kept telling myself that you are better off without me, I would be happy to see you settled with someone else but the truth is that I can't. I wanted to kill that man sitting next to you, when he was touching you, I wanted to tear him limb from limb! I would have realised that eventually but I think Bahadhur Singh became impatient with my stupidity and arranged all this.”
Now she understood why he had pushed her away. She put a hand out and touched his face. “Samir I don’t have any regrets about loving you, I always will.” She tried to stand up and leave but he stopped her.
“What I am trying to say is I love you Persephone and I want to be with you until the day I die, if you will have me? You told me when you left that when I laid the ghosts of past you will be waiting is that still true?” his eyes implored her, his voice was tight with strain.
Persephone nodded a yes, unable to speak as the tears of happiness choked her.
Finally he let go of all that tension, a huge sigh escaped him. Reaching out he picked her up and settled her on his lap no longer holding back.
“Persephone!” His lips covered her in a soul searing kiss that seemed to go on and on. Her arms wound themselves around his shoulders and her fingers threaded themselves into his thick dark hair.
“Samir!” she gasped when he finally let her up, his lips raining kisses over her face.
He crushed her to him, “Persephone, god! How could I have been so stupid. I could never be happy without you.”
“Or I you!” She replied softly, a smile played on her lips. “I would have had to find you soon anyway Samir.”
His lips closed over hers again as if couldn’t hold himself in check.
“Hmmm.. You missed me that much?” He teased. His dark brown eyes smiled down at her, his hands were already causing havoc where ever they touched.
“I would have had to let you know that someone else would miss you too if you didn’t reappear in our lives.” she said softly.
“Someone else? Who?” He asked a very puzzled frown on his face.
She took his hand and placed it gently over her tummy. Her eyes full of tears and happiness.
For a moment he didn’t understand and then suddenly it dawned on him what she was trying to say. “But!” Then at her blush.”But... I used..!”
“Accidents do happen even to Maharajah's !” Persephone replied teasing him.
“A baby! Persephone, what if I am a terrible father, like mine?” Horrors from his childhood suddenly crowded his mind feeding the doubts in his mind.
“Samir you are nothing like any of them. You will be a fantastic father. I know it.”
“How can you be so sure?” He asked at her absolute blind faith in him, his dark eyes filled with love for her.
“I would have never fallen in love with you otherwise.” Perse told him confidently as she reached up to tug his head down to hers kissing him reverently.
“Persephone, I will spend the rest of our lives loving you and making sure I live up to your faith in me. Marry me and make me the happiest man alive?”
Perse nodded as tears flowed once again, robbing her of speech.
He reached across from the chair and fumbled in his briefcase bringing out a velvet jewellery case. Flicking it open, he dazzled her with his mother's sapphires. “This set didn’t have a ring so I had one made for you, it didn’t seem fitting to give you this without a ring, perhaps my heart was already telling me that you would be wearing it.” With that he slipped it onto her finger.
“The jewel of the Maharajah's eye.” Persephone whispered gasping at the beautiful ring on her finger.
“You are the jewel of this Maharajah's eye no other.” he said as his lips closed over's her again.
It was much later when they phoned Bahadhur Singh and Dr Gupta to let them know that their plan was a definite success and to start preparing for a wedding.
© Jane Meme Copyright 27.02.2012