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Prey on the Prowl - A Crime Novel
When Radha reported for work the next day, Dhruva led her into his study to thrown open his collection of Holmes, Mason et al for her to pore over them, and as she was engrossed with the former, Raju went up to her to usher her to join his master at the dining table. When she approached him with the lunchbox she brought along with her, as Dhruva said that the perquisites included free lunches, smiling coyly, she said that she would not mind working extra time if she could have dinners as well.
As Radha came to spend long hours at 9, Castle Hills, Dhruva lost no time in initiating her to drinks with Gin and Thums Up. When he asked her if his smoking a cigar was a bother for her, she said that having savored the smell of pogaku in his breath, she was all-eager to have a feel of its smoke. As he lit his lanka, maintaining that she enjoyed its aroma, she wondered whether he could make rings out of its smoke, the way actor Pran does in the movies. When he showed his prowess at it, as she wanted an encore, he too goaded her to repeat her booze; as he mixed a drink for her, she said that but for her abstinence then, her fate would have been tied up with the illicit couple and added that to usurp Madhu’s ill-gotten wealth, Pravar might have aimed at killing three birds at one shot.
What with Radha’s seductive balm soothing his jilted wound, and her eagerness to come closer to him tripping his resolve to be tightlipped until he sized her up, Dhruva appraised her how Pravar was fixed in the counterfeits case. When she said that maybe the dubious means justified the desirable end, he told her that Pravar had already confessed to the cop about his dubious role in the double murder. Saying she was glad to hear that, she said cheers all again, and clinking her glass with his own, he told her that he saw a possible role for her in dealing with the peculiar challenges Kavya’s release from Pravar’s psychological hold posed.
By the time Raju was ready to serve them dinner, Radha had a drink too many, and as Dhruva led her to the dining table by her waist, he was struck by her silken skin. After a sumptuous dinner, when she said that she would like to go home, he suggested that she better stayed back for the night, at which she turned coy and said that it might be risky. When he said that though a ladies’ man, yet he was a gentleman, having had a hearty laugh she said that it was about the risk he ran. Meeting his flummoxed look, she lowered her eyelids and said that she heard that a man lets a woman into his house only as a prelude to letting her into his heart. Elated at her unexpected advance, as he said that he who would shy away from such a welcome prospect, she coyly reminded him about the proverbial camel that took over the tent when it was allowed to cool its head. Saying that his heart and hearth were too big for any to fill them, he cajolingly led her into Mithya’s room, and as he helped her onto the mahogany cot, she pulled him into her embrace to anoint herself as the reigning queen of 9, Castle Hills.
Heralding a new phase in Dhruva’s life, as Radha served him bed coffee; he caught her hand and said that she was hotter than the steamy thing. Saying coyly that she knew his ardor would keep her ever warm, she watched him joyously as he savored the strong coffee, and when he took her into his arms, she sank into him amorously.
After breakfast though, she went to her place along with him to fetch her wardrobe as a prelude to let her transport herself into his life. Feeling at home in their home and seeing him eating her preparations greedily at lunch, she said coquettishly that she had some dessert to serve as well; while he played innocent, she pushed him all the way to Mithya’s room that she made her own.
Breaking up his siesta before her, he went into the study to check the mail, and began reading a letter in Rani’s hand that read.
Your boy is growing up in me, and it is no blackmail. As I thought he would, my man came around. If I were to be widowed when I still have it in me, you can count on my availability, and God forbid, should fate orphan our boy, I hope the gates of 9, Castle Hills are ever open for him. But for now, your fears about Kavya were not fated to be liars for I heard that she is carrying on with Pravar.
You know who.
Securing the letter in the chest of drawers, he didn’t fail to see the irony oft his only progeny forever remaining anonymous to him, and as Kavya’s fall began to trouble him, he had a premonition that her life might induce her to afford him an opportunity to redress his guilt.
When Radha came to serve him some steamy tea, as he was still morose, she said playfully that she was disappointed that even her nascent persona was of no avail to enliven him, and as he took her into his arms, as if to underscore her position in his life, she told him gravely that not all his virility would help her as she underwent hysterectomy, and added, in jest, that she wondered how he yet failed to father Mithya’s child. He said that Mithya had had a couple of miscarriages, but when she wanted to know more about her life, he said that she would have that by and by. She said in half-jest that even as she waited for a peep into Mithya’s past, what if he took her to the backyard of his life, he led her there, saying mockingly that it was no Garden of Eden.
Possibly a lovechild, he was abandoned at the gates of an orphanage in Devarakadra, and an ayah there named him Dhruva for she felt that he shone like the North star. When it was time to put him into school, since none knew his surname, the headmaster entered the village name in the column, and as he showed his prowess at catching the kitchenware- thieves at the orphanage and retrieving the ‘lost’ pencils from the wrong boxes at the school, he became Detective Dhruva to all. Thanks to a Good Samaritan, who funded his higher education, he graduated in humanities and joined the police department to have a hands-on-experience in dealing with crimes.
While his ignorance about his caste and creed made him blissfully immune to pride and prejudice, the deprivation of parental love and family ties left him with no emotional baggage to carry. Maybe to retrieve the lost ground of affection, he coveted women’ love and so courted the desirable with some luck in between. Though he made a mark at his work, owing to his lacking a caste identity, none knocked at his door to invite him to lead their daughter to the altar. Thanks to the women who fancied him, he didn’t miss much, to talk about which to a woman may not be chivalrous for a man; though all that changed when Mithya came into his life, her death brought him back to square one.
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