"You have got to be kidding me!" Khushi shouted as the door to the ballroom seemed to be locked...after all the stunts she had pulled; it just had to end here...so close to her goal! Dammit'! She screamed as she banged her fist on the door before making her way to the other door which opened into the room she had come from
She was still cursing her luck and trying to think of another way to get into the ballroom when she felt a resistance as she twisted the handle to get out of the bathroom...after turning the knob a couple more times, she realized that this door too had gotten locked somehow "How the hell is that even possible!" she said disbelievingly, as she pushed all her weight on the door and tried to fiddle with the knob
She hit the heavy wooden door a few times and banged on it with her fists as her patience wore off completely...this day had been the worse she had ever had till date and it just kept getting shittier as it progressed...she felt sweat beads running along the back of her neck and on her forehead as she once walked to the other door
As the host's voice boomed across to the people gathered in the huge room, she realized that if she screamed loud enough and banged continuously on the door, someone on the other side will definitely hear her...because if she could hear them, they should be able to hear her too! After taking a couple of deep breaths, she took of her shoes and started kicking the door to get someone's attention on the other side
"Open up...hello! is anyone there?" she screamed as her eyes watered from the repeated screaming and banging on the door...her cold hands trembled as she slunk against the door and sat down to catch her breath for a bit...When she calmed down enough and controlled the tears that were threatening to flow due to her helplessness, she saw her handbag lying a few feet away
Quickly lunging for her bag, she took out her mobile phone...'why had she not thought of this before' she thought as she looked for the number of the Hyatt Regency's banquet manager , stored in her phone...she was a sweet old lady and had helped her enormously whenver she had planned a wedding or event here
She nearly cried in joy as she pressed the call button and waited for it to connect... but once again lady luck turned away from her, when her phone showed inadequate signal to connect the call...looking disbelievingly at the signal strength that showed no bars, she flung her phone away and watched it fall towards the other end of the bathroom safely on the carpeted area
She looked around helplessly at herself in the mirror and the first shiver of apprehension ran through her spine...what if she was stuck here for long? What if no one found her and... she shook her head from thinking anything negative as the ballroom outside suddenly quieted down ...she started screaming once again loudly, hoping that maybe now someone might hear her, but soon her own voice was drowned out by the host who declared loudly "Here he comes folks...the author extraordinaire...our very own mystery man...the one and only! Crispin Pike!"
Arnav tapped his feet repeatedly as he looked at Manav who smiled at him encouragingly while walking with him towards the ballroom. He had met a few key people that were gathered to greet him, before he made his appearance in the ballroom...they had spoken to him about the various publicity proposals and media events that were being planned around him, but all throughout the meeting, his mind was engulfed in Khushi's thoughts only...his nervousness and anxiety had increased multi-fold at the thought of seeing her in a few minutes
The loud voices in the ballroom had suddenly stopped and a pin drop silence had descended, as he reached the entrance...the whole corridor seemed to close in on him as he took a deep breath and followed his publisher along with his manager and Manav...he had told them to not do anything dramatic like cutting the lights off and to keep it as simple as they could
He stepped into the room amongst harsh flashes of cameras as a huge uproar arose amongst the gathered crowd...he smiled as he felt the tension leave his body between the loud cheer and clasps that his readers bestowed on him as he walked up on to the stage...waving at everyone he scanned the crowd to spot her...his Khushi...she was bound to be somewhere there but the flashing cameras made it impossible for him to keep his eyes steady...he could hardly make out what was being said in all the din from the audience
"Guys...guys...let's all calm down now! I know how exciting it is to finally meet Mr Pike, cause believe it or not, I am probably one of his biggest fans of all time!" the host said smiling into the mike and mock saluting at Arnav, who smiled at him as his words were followed by a loud deafening cheer and hoots from the people who seemed to have doubled now owing to everyone trying to come closer to the stage where he was sat
"So without further delay, let me call upon our favorite Author, who is finally a Mystery...no more!" the host said dramatically as he led Arnav towards the raised dais on the stage where his latest book was kept...he said a quick thanks before taking his place on the dais as the audience erupted in a huge applause and cheer...his eyes tried to once again look for that one face which he was dying to see since long...but the crowd was so huge that it was impossible for him to see beyond a certain point in the sea of faces
He cleared his throat as everyone quieted down to hear their favorite author speak "This is seriously overwhelming" he said as loud chuckles were heard amongst more hooting "I never knew that a day would come, when I would be standing here in front of you all and finally giving up on my anonymity, But now that I'm here and looking at the love you all have for me and my work...I am truly humbled and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for encouraging me to continue writing for you" he said as the everyone broke into aloud claps
"I'm not here to tell the world why I wanted to keep my real self a secret, but I'm here to tell you why I don't want it to be a secret anymore" he said as everyone quieted down and listened in rapt attention as he spoke "To do this, I would like to read the note in my latest book 'The twisted pendulum'" he said as he picked up the book and held it up in his hands
"It's him..." Khushi whispered as she felt tears run down her tired face...she slid along the wooden door as her knees hit the cool flooring beneath while her hands fell limply along her sides...that voice...it was him...it was her Arnav...his deep husky voice soothed her senses as he spoke into the mike...her body shuddered with barely held sobs as she realized the gravity of the situation...till now she only hoped it was Arnav...but now that it was, how could she ever face him? After all that she put both of them through...how could she go and face him?
"To do this, I would like to read the note in my latest book 'The twisted pendulum'" he said as Khushi suddenly looked up...she got up and looked around for the book she had bought this morning but hadn't had the chance to even glance at...turning the pages with fumbling fingers, she found the page he spoke about...the page which spoke of his love and dedication to the woman he loved.
She held her breath as he read the first words "To the woman I love...my happiness" he said as she felt her vision blur from the tears that clouded her hazel eyes...
"If someone had told me a few months ago, that a single insignificant moment in life, can completely change you , I would have told them to keep their philosophy to themselves and let me remain my old cynical self.
But when that same, small insignificant moment hits you...it comes unbidden, and unconsciously you succumb to its lure and watch in fascination as life as you know it...completely changes. Something like that happened to me...
I am Crispin Pike or better known to the people around me as Arnav Raizada, an ordinary man with an extraordinary dream...a dream to write...to create magic with words that would enthrall the reader to step into a world of mystery and tread the path to solving it,- along with me.
But the moment I speak about has nothing to do with my work...but everything to do with why I have finally given up my veil of anonymity. It was the moment when I met her...when everything seemed to cease except for her beautiful hazel eyes as they peered right into my lonely soul.
As I stood there with a first edition copy of my favorite book; her grandfather's copy she had said as she dusted off the minuscule dirt and handed it back to me, I knew life would never be the same again...because in that moment my heart recognized its beat...my soul reached out to its mate.
She is the reason that I can proudly say that I am Crispin Pike, a man who is no longer afraid to stay in the shadows...a man who is no longer scared about facing his demons...because that insignificant moment of turning around and seeing her for the first time, made everything else seem...insignificant.
I dedicate this book solely to her; without her I am insignificant...she is the inspiration behind this book and its character...she is my greatest fan and my toughest critic.
Khushi, I look forward to many more mint teas and crazy times, solving mysteries surrounding your guava tree, but above all, I look forward to loving...you."
Arnav felt himself choke on the last few words as his emotions took a hold over everything...he kept his gaze lowered as he composed himself before looking back at the awed audience who seemed to be in a trance that his words had created; but as he watched, someone in the back started clapping which was followed by some more, before the entire ballroom erupted in a clapping frenzy
He smiled as the host took over and asked him a few more questions about the real Arnav Raizada and his lady love...but Arnav dodged the questions as advised by his PR team and told everyone that they will know everything about him soon, as he will no longer remain in the shadows, but his books will be always written under Crispin Pike and not Arnav Raizada
After answering a few more questions regarding the book and his future work, he sat down for the book signing which went on for quite some time as there were too many people who wanted to have a few minutes with their newly unveiled author...Arnav smiled and signed the books for everyone as his eyes looked around for that one girl who he knew had come...why was she hiding away? He thought his manager took over and cut the session short since Arnav had to go for the media interviews in a bit
As they walked out of the ballroom, he turned around one last time to sweep his eyes across the room, but even though he felt she was here somewhere, he had to believe in the truth that was staring at him in his face...she had not come. Knowing her, she must have already bought the book...and read it too...but had still not showed up for the event...the thought pained him deeply as he walked out of the ballroom and towards the elevators that led to his suite
Manav came along with him, but Arnav asked him to leave him alone for a bit as he wanted to rest before the interviews began in some time...he walked dejectedly into his suite before closing the door and leaning his tall frame against the door...she had not come...why?