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Prey on the Prowl - A Crime Novel
Rani proposed a trip to Ooty to let him bide his time as she did his bidding. Though Dhruva was inclined towards ‘train journey’ as she opted to ‘air dash’ so as not to ‘lose time’, they had boarded the Indian Airlines flight that very evening. On their way from the airport to an Ooty hotel, even as the serene surroundings of the hill resort refreshed his mind, her innate romanticism enamored his heart, and once ensconced in the hotel suite, they made it their love nest, and rarely ventured out of it.
Soon, amidst the ‘time of their lives’, Ranjit rang up to lament over the ugly turn in his life.
Disregarding his protestations, Kavya met Pravar in the Cherlapalli jail and apologized to him for what had happened, and the culprit played up to her psyche by exaggerating his plight ensuring that she developed an obsession to earn him a reprieve. While Ranjit would have none of that, yet she took up Pravar’s vakalat making him wonder where all that would lead her to and he was at a loss to understand how to wean her away from Pravar.
Dismayed at the development, Dhruva said that it was better that Ranjit kept his cool as under the circumstances, the best course of action was inaction. He also advised Ranjit to leave her alone until she got over her obsession for any hurdles he might place in her way might buttress her resolve to surmount them, leading her to a disastrous end.
Making it a double jeopardy for Dhruva, a week later, a furious Shakeel rang him up to recount how Kavya hauled him over the coals in the court on Pravar’s account. She urged the court to take note of the fact that Pravar was a petty thief and not a mafia don and drove home the point that he was the sole accused while it was inconceivable that one can single-handedly run a multi-crore fake-note racket. She argued that Shakeel would have earlier seized the booty while the real culprits might have given him the slip, or who knew, whether or not he let them off under pressure of the powers that be, and so as to cover up his lapse, and to earn false laurels, he tried to make her client his fall guy. She alleged that it was Shakeel’s compulsions to crack the case, or his expediency to protect the guilty that was behind his foisting a false case on Pravar.
What was more; Kavya sought to prove Pravar’s innocence and produced Natya for a witness, who sensationally revealed that in the days before the alleged crime, Kavya was with Pravar and her. And that stunned all including the judge. What with Natya having come up trumps in the intense cross-examination that followed, there was no way the public prosecutor could have pulled the rug from under her feet as no case of kidnap was registered against Pravar or her. As the judge was quick in passing strictures against Shakeel making him curse Dhruva for once, he nevertheless asked the public prosecutor to seek time for further investigation. When the judge ordered the release of Pravar on bail, all applauded Kavya’s sterling performance, and as a grateful Pravar thanked her no end an appalled Ranjit led her out of the court hall.
Dhruva had to strain every nerve to convince Shakeel that their failure was owing to the ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ that he himself failed to factor in while fashioning the Operation Checkmate. Whatever, Shakeel vowed to get even with Kavya but Dhruva cautioned him to guard himself against the wounded Pravar instead. With the damage done and his pride dented, Dhruva showed no inclination to return home, though, on and off; Shakeel goaded him to be back soon while Rani was all-eager to make the best of their sojourn.
In the euphoria of their whirlwind romance that rolled days and nights into one, time seemed to them but a fleeting moment of life. Son he sought her hand in marriage but she excused herself, and perplexed though, he was unrelenting in his passionate pleas; when she disclosed that she was a married woman, he was aghast beyond belief, but, nonetheless, bowled by her charms, he insisted that she divorce her man to adorn his life. While she remained unmoved, devastated by her refusal to yield, he wanted to know what made her flirt with him so heartlessly.
Rani’s parents hailed from Waltair, where she graduated in arts; soon after she moved over to Hyderabad, she met Ramesh, to whose advances she had readily yielded; but realizing the gravity of her transgression, she goaded him to regularize their irregular union. While he wanted time to sort out things with his parents, who were averse to her on caste considerations, her parents were in a hurry to give her hand to Satish, who they thought was a suitable boy. When she ran out of excuses to avoid Satish’s hand, as she forced the issue with Ramesh, he revealed that he was a married man, and shaken to the core, she married Satish to repair her life, as his wife.
What with Satish’s charm and wit inducing warmth in her life, she soon got over the bitterness of her betrayed past, and for the first ten years, they had been reaping the fruits of their love though without laying the seeds of it, and that was the only jarring note in their blessed life. Maybe to make up for the lacking, Satish began to be obsessed with his career to the exclusion of all else, and that made her bear the brunt of her barrenness; three years back, he developed an ambition to start a venture of his own, which made him turn their home into his office in the offing. While he began to court his career with passion, as her urges remained in the cold, she was constrained to entertain the idea of an extramarital affair.
When she made up her mind to spice up her life with a paramour, as she recalled Ramesh’s trickery, her bitterness came to acquire a vengeful edge, and she developed an urge to play a la Ramesh after a hectic sexual give-and-take to get even with a man in this man’s world. Then she recalled the cop who had put her cousin Ashok’s murder under the carpet, over which he led his murderess wife Mithya to the altar, and thought of busting that cop. When she came to know that Mithya was no more and her cop lover became Detective Dhruva, she knew he was the ideal target
While she was upbeat at that thought, coinciding with Satish’s trip to the U.S, came Dhruva’s ad for a lady assistant; it was her idea to incite his curiosity by loitering at the gate that rainy day as a prelude to taking him into her arms; but when she realized that Kavya was proving to be a source of distraction, she had goaded him to Ooty to have the best of him. But lost in his passion, she lost the desire to unearth his past, and as he began to love her, she developed an urge to conceive his child, which she hoped she would. She would have loved to make love to him until she had missed her periods, but as Satish was due by the weekend; it had to be a premature end to their liaison, but for all she knew, their child might be in the offing.
Dhruva in despair begged her to divorce Satish and marry him but she said that she would rather stick to her man than tie up with a philanderer like him. Even though he vouched for his lifelong fidelity, she didn’t relent to be his wife, and to turn her around, he played up to her ego and said that he could not imagine life without her. Unmoved still, as she said that he being a ladies’ man, she was sure that there wouldn’t be any dearth of mates for him, he begged her not to make it a sudden death to his ardor and keep their affair alive until he could douse the flame. She told him that it was no way to make the best of the hoped for change in her life and he said that she was being unfair to him; maintaining that it was part of life, she told him that he would be able to put all that behind him well before someone else caught his eye.
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