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Prey on the Prowl - A Crime Novel
As Raju announced Ranjit’s arrival, Dhruva said jocularly that Radha might as well meet Mr. Interval, but she told him that it pays to retain his Ace of Hearts for the development implied that the stakes were raised. Leaving her with a pleased look, Dhruva reached the study to find a downcast Ranjit, who said that Kavya had come under Pravar’s spell, and sadly, he had every reason to believe that she was carrying on with him. As Ranjit bemoaned how his upright wife chose to have an affair with a hardened criminal, Dhruva said that he should bear with it all till she got over her aberration induced by the ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. Assuming the role of a psychiatrist, the detective tried to convince the cuckold that he should be considerate to his unfortunate wife, while he himself would strain every nerve to get her out of her paramour’s emotional clutches.
While Dhruva was closeted with Ranjit in the study, Radha went about arranging her things in Mithya’s room and found the main cupboard ajar. Wondering whether it was Dhruva’s idea to let her gain access to Mithya’s wear, she opened it and came across scores of embroidered saris in an impressive wardrobe. Unable to resist the temptation to find out how Mithya’s blouses would go on her, she wore one and as it was well-suited, she wore a matching sari, and reached for the full-length mirror. While she sized up herself in Mithya’s attire, she tried to envision Dhruva’s reaction, which gave her a strange sense of fetishism, and drawn by the amazing collection of saris and dresses lying in the cupboard, one by one, she pulled them out, and found at the bottom, a false bottom. Gaining access to the secret shelf, and overawed by the exquisite jewelry lying therein, in ornate boxes, she couldn’t stop wondering about the quality of the gems and the beauty of the workmanship. And finding a framed picture of a young girl, who seemed to be Mithya’s daughter, she could not help but compare it with Mithya’s life-size picture of on the wall, and felt that both exuded a charm of their own.
When Raju informed her about Ranjit’s departure, she joined Dhruva in the study, and he briefed her about Kavya’s affair with Pravar, at which she wondered at the ways of life, and said that it could be awful for the husband. While Dhruva was at a loss as to how to redeem himself by freeing Kavya from Pravar’s hold before she became his crime-mate as well, Radha said that they should bring Natya into play to gauge Kavya’s mind, and that would enable her to keep a vigil on Pravar her own bête noir. Agreeing that they should think of a ploy to bring Natya emotionally closer to her, they toyed with many an idea before he came up with a plan involving Shakeel. While he was calling up Shakeel, she said jocularly that he should summon an ambulance as the cop might suffer a stroke on account of her presence at the Castle Hills; patting her for her naughtiness, he said that he would ask the cop to come in an ambulance.
When Shakeel came as promised, she received him in the portico as planned and before the guest could recover from the shock of her presence, the host jolted him further by introducing her as his assistant in a live-in. Leading Shakeel into the drawing hall, Dhruva joked that it made sense that the cop made up with her as his future admissions into 9, Castle Hills have to be through proper channel. When Radha extended her hand to Shakeel saying that they let bygones be bygones, Dhruva goaded him to make a new beginning with his old suspect. Over drinks that they had together, as she showed no traces of bitterness towards him, Shakeel began to feel at ease, and when Dhruva stressed upon the need to involve her in pinning Pravar, he ended up befriending her. As Dhruva finished the blueprint to bring Radha and Natya together, Shakeel left them wondering how his premonition about her coming closer to Dhruva came true.
That day, when Natya was about to step out from the department stores in the A.C. Guards; a woman constable picked her up for alleged shoplifting and packed her off to the lock-up of Saifabad police station. Soon, Natya had Radha for company, supposedly locked up for her road rage, and as Radha feigned to take Shakeel to task for having booked her for nuts, impressed with her élan Natya was drawn towards her. As Radha rang up Dhruva to speak to Shakeel, Natya pleaded with her to take up her case as well and as the older woman obliged. Readily freed by Shakeel, Radha led Natya to her own Red Hills abode, kept under lock and key, and succeeded in cultivating her young heart; as expected Natya spilled the beans on her wayward life and Radha solicited her about the need to reform Pravar for her own well-being. As Radha convinced Natya about the need to keep Pravar out of the loop as they together worked towards that end, the latter swore that she would act as directed.
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