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Almost..... in love

Mihir was very unhappy, because it was raining that day. Normally the weather wouldn't worry him much or rather he wouldn't even notice that. But today due to these rains his flight was cancelled. To anybody else looking out the window at the rain, may have sighed to the magical feel it brought. But not Mihir, he wouldn't be caught dead with an expression of longing on his face. The only thing which was bugging his mind was that his meeting with the investors  was being attended by his subordinate and not him. And all the plans for the week was disturbed, by this rain.

Mihir reached his office and as he entered he asked his assistant to call Mr.Satish to his cabin. Mr.Satish came into his office with pile of plans and a proper knock. It was forbidden to enter into his office without knocking, no matter what situation.

Mihir beckoned him to start and Mr.Satish started explaining "Sir, these are the plans you asked me to redesign, but no matter in what angle I look, I don't see a way out of building this complex without buying out that group of stores in the north side of the property. The road which is directly connected to those shops is the main access to the complex and  not being directly accessible from that will be a huge disadvantage to a project this huge." 

Mihir looked at Mr.Satish in a stern way and asked "Did you just say that you don't see a "way"??"

Satish immediately knew the mistake he made and stammered  "No sir, I mean yes sir, but I am sure there is way and I will find out Sir. Excuse me sir"

And before Mihir could scrutinize him anymore he was out of that office. Even though he chided his architect for not seeing a way, Mihir knew very well that there was no way. Those small group of stores had to be bought. There was no other way.

"There is always another way Bhat uncle, why are you getting so agitated. We have to hold patience now. We have come this far and we will win this thing. Do you understand me" Aarohi was convincing Prakash Bhat to not to bow down to the pressure of the builders. As Prakash Bhat smiled in understanding, Aarohi let go of his hand and turned towards the other members of the meeting and said "Please trust me, by selling our shops we are just proving that we are weak. These shops are our life, our savings, our hard work. Tell me Sarala aunty from how many years did you own that dress shop. And Iqbal bhai how will you find a store as big as this and in such busy area in the rate they are proposing. Please trust me. We are on the right track"

Everybody in the meeting nodded at her words and decided to stand united against the pressure of the builders. The meeting disbursed with lots of assurances to help each other and Aarohi walked out of the shop and saw the rain had stopped. She was sad that she missed the rain, oh how much she loved to see the rain. She was always mesmerized by the small miracles of nature. She moved her hands down on her skirt to smooth out the imaginary wrinkles and walked to her flower shop. She stood in the front of the shop and looked up proudly to see the board of her shop written "Aroma florists". She started this business 4 years ago and she finally bought this shop a year back. She was finally finding her step and she knew how important it was to find her step.

Mihir was thinking hard, very hard, how to buy those stores, because no matter how much he saw the plans, he knew that he can't buy any land to build his complex if it didn't include those cluster of shops. His investors wouldn't allow it. Therefore he needed to buy those stores.

He had approached them with money, he even offered them 10% more than the market rate. But they were just not ready to sell. So now he was thinking if he had any other way to make it happen. He was in his black mood and dark place when the door banged open. Mihir didn't even look up and he closed his eyes and groaned. The only person who would be audacious enough to bang into his office without a knock was his younger brother Sameer.
Sameer walked into his office and plopped down on the sofa and greeted his brother "hello old man, How are you doing"

Mihir just looked up to him and said "Am just two years elder than you, how can I be an old man and you still young?"

Sameer laughed out loud and said "You might as well be 80 years old. You do know that you are stuffy, don't you?"

Mihir smiled at his younger brother, no matter what he said, he knew he loved his younger brother. And then he asked directly "What do you want?"

Sameer acted like he was hurt and then smiled and said "Oh you kill me brother, you know me too well. Well the thing is that I want to go on an Europe trip with my friends and am sure Mom and Dad will never agree if I ask. So you just need to get me the permission I need from them. Nothing much that's all"

Mihir shacked his head and said "No No No Sameer, last time I vouched for you, you broke your leg in the bungee jump. And I didn't even know that you planned to go on bungee jumping, because you told me that you will go for camping. No way am taking your responsibility again. So go away"

"Come on bro, don't be such a prude. Help me out here."

"No Sameer, look I can't get involved in your drama now.. I have lots of other problems to deal with other than yours"

Sameer asked with concern in his voice "What problem. Can I help?"

Mihir looked up at his brother and laughed while saying "You are just offering to help so that I can help you. No way am falling for that"

Sameer stared at his smiling brother and just sat there. When Sameer didn't speak even after few minutes Mihir questioned "Why are you staring? What is going on in your head now?"

Sameer placed his hands on his knees and leaned while he said "Why can't you be like this all the time? Smiling, easy going huh?? Why do you have to be so stuffy, prudish kind?"

Mihir looked at his brother in question and said "Don't cajole me. I still won't help you"

Sameer got up from his place and said with a mischievous smile "You will, I know you will. I am very charming and right now you are charmed by me. You know you can be quite charming too. If you just try" and he went away.

Mihir shook his head and went back to his plans. But he knew he will help his brother. He always did. After going through the plans over and over again to find another way. He sat down with a sigh of defeat. But the next moment he was out of his chair thinking "Defeat, I can't fail. It is not possible that there is no solution to this problem. There is always a way"

After thinking for sometime Sameer's parting words inspired him and he thought "Charm. I can't pressurize them, but I can charm them." and when he walked out of his office to meet his parents he had a hint of smile on his lips. Because god forbid if anybody in his office see him smile in broad daylight.

While he passed his P.A's desk he asked her to call up the owners  association of the shops and set up a meeting with its president. He was confident that he can charm anybody if he wishes. And Mihir Pandit could charm ghee out of the butter if he made up his mind.

Aarohi was surprised to be picked as president to meet up with the great Mihir Pandit. There was no official presidency to that association till date. But when the woman on the phone asked to set up the meeting with the president of the association, Aarohi was chosen unanimously.

Aarohi was never afraid in her life, but somehow the idea of meeting this coveted Mihir Pandit was making her nervous. Because for the first time in her life, she was acting as a representative of not only herself but of many people who trusted her.

The meeting was set on after three days that is; Thursday evening in his office. And till Thursday Aarohi worked hard and prepared all the documents and herself. Thursday noon rolled in with thunders and showers. Aarohi felt like this was a good sign. She thought that today destiny will be on her side.

Destiny did play a part that day, but on whose side was not clear. Because sitting in his office Mihir watched the pouring rain and cursed it profusely. He hated rains, for him they were just messy. And he felt maybe the lady will cancel the appointment and he didn't want that to happen. So he stood there and cursed his Destiny for being against him.

The hour of the appointment came and at sharp 4 p.m. a light knock sounded on his door. Mihir shouted a curt "come in" and she came in.

He stood there and just stared at her, she was wearing a green long skirt which were wet near the ankles, she was wearing a white shirt with small flowers on it and it looked so babyish to him. There was a huge bag hanging by her shoulder and her fingertips were wet and looked cold. She had a round face and big eyes. Her long black hair was wet in some places and was a total mess. But she looked perfect to him, like a vision out of his dreams. Mihir came out of his trance and gestured her to sit down.

Aarohi was not unaware of the aura he was emitting. The tall stern man standing in front of her had a hint of smile on his lips, as if he would love to smile but he was out of practice. His stance indicated that he was measuring her up but his eyes had liquid warmth in them. Such warmth that she could physically feel it spread to her fingertips. When he gestured her to sit, she also broke her trance and smiled at him.

Mihir was still standing when Aarohi sat down. He wanted to make her look up at him, he wanted to make sure she knew who dominated in that room. He didn't waste a moment's time, but looking at her made him forget his voice and he blurted out "I want to buy those shops"

Aarohi looked up towards him and she slowly got up while she said "I thought this meeting was arranged so that we can come to a compromise. But I can see where this is going. We won't sell the shops. Good bye Mr.Pandit" and she started towards the door.
Mihir was dumbstruck at her words and confidence. While a part of him was very impressed by her attitude, another part of him was very irritated. Never did anybody speak with him with such ultimatum. He vowed to himself then and there "I am Mihir Pandit and I will bring that woman to my conditions"

But a part of him still yearned to have her seated there and smile at him. So he called her "Miss??........ hmm" and for the love of god he couldn't remember her name to save his life. And he was not even sure he ever learned her name. This was a rookie mistake and he never did it. At the idea of how brilliant his plan would work out he had totally forgotten to get the details of the meeting. And he blamed his kid brother whole heartedly for this.

Aarohi turned back towards him with a sarcastic smile on her lips and asked "Miss what Mr.Pandit?"

Mihir didn't want to lose anymore ground so he put on his best smile and said "Am very sorry Miss, for the way I presented my words. I will assure you that it won't happen again. Just please have a seat and let's try to come up with a plan which will work out for both of us."

Aarohi knew that for someone of his stature it is not easy to talk in submissive manner and apologize. So she was very sure that she can't trust him. But she was not alone, she was representing all the people who believed that she would bring some good results. And so she came and sat down, although with lot of doubt about his intentions.
As she sat down Mihir let out a breath that he was not aware he was holding it. Somehow in the last few minutes his purpose of attaining those shops was being overpowered by the urge to stay close to this woman. And he was not liking this alien feeling in him. He tried to shake himself out of that feeling and bring his mind around to business in hand. He desperately wanted to see this as only business and nothing else. Or so he thought he could achieve.
Mihir sat behind his desk and tried to soften his voice as much as he can and said "Let's start how it was supposed to start. Good afternoon, am Mihir Pandit and Thank you for agreeing to meet me regarding these shops."

Aarohi smiled back amicably and said "I should be thanking you for agreeing to listen to our terms at least now. Am Aarohi and I will be representing the shoppers association consisting of 14 shops in total."

The meeting was long and hard. Both were not ready to budge an inch. Though both projected that they listened to each other very well, they just didn't want to give an inch. Mihir wondered for a small structured and soft voiced lady she was a tuft fighter and was no fool. And what Aarohi lacked in experience she made it up with her smartness.

Mihir couldn't fool her for a minute with his soft voice and as the meeting progressed she was sure that he was trying very hard to charm her. And the idea that Mr.Mihir Pandit was trying hard to charm her made her fight back with more vigor.

After lot of stern oppositions and snide comments Aarohi got up and said in a soft yet stern voice "Mr.Pandit we will not sell our lives just because you would like to pretty up yours. For some of us those shops is everything in life. It's not only about land, its everything they have invested in those shops all their lives. And that building is almost 100 years old, I know it is not a registered landmark, but it might as well be. Not only those shops, that building also consists of a community center which conducts trainings for underprivileged youth. So no matter what amount of money you throw am not going to advise them to sell their shops to you. And I think we should conclude this meeting today. Good bye" and she walked out of his office.

 Even though Mihir was enraged at her stand. A part of him walked out of his office with her. And right now he didn't want to acknowledge that part of him as his at all.

Aarohi stormed out of his office in a black mood thinking all the while "What a vile man. He is not ready to understand the sentiments of so many people in this. At every turn he had only one argument, am giving money. As if everyone in the whole world is starving for his money. And to hear that, I had to come all the way here, in rain. What an arrogant, prude ass"

Aarohi stepped out of the building and the skies opened up with rapture. Mihir was looking out of his office window and watching her. He had a mean smile on his face when he saw that it started raining. But that smile turned into a look of surprise when Aarohi came out in the rain and stood face up to the rain. He just stood there watching this woman enjoying rain and for the first time in his life, he smiled at rain with pleasure.

He knew this was wrong. What he was thinking was wrong. He convinced himself that he should have a stern hand with her to make her bow down to him and then he remembered his brother's words "Charm". Immediately he knew where he made a mistake. He had set this meeting with sole purpose of charming her and he dictated her.

He needed to learn to charm and he had the best guide in the world - "his brother".  

Mihir called his brother and asked him to meet immediately. After an hour when Sameer walked in to his office, Mihir was in a meeting with his architects. But as soon as he saw his brother, he winded up the meeting and went to talk with his brother. This attitude was new to Mihir and his staff. Sameer was openly eyeing his brother with speculation as if that was not his brother. As soon as they both were alone Sameer blurted "Are you okay. I mean seriously... what's wrong with you? you.. i mean You postponed a meeting?"

Mihir just ignored his brother's words and asked "I need you to tell me how to charm a woman".

Sameer did a double take at his brother and almost.. almost shouted "What?"

"I need you to tell me how to get on the good graces of a woman"

When Sameer didn't answer and was looking at him like he is the alien who ate up his brother. Mihir explained all about the project, the shops and also about Aarohi and said "So you see, if I get on the good graces of this woman I can get on with this project and right now I have invested everything in this project and its taking off is very very important to me"

Sameer was thoughtful for a long time and then he said "Normally I need to know the woman before knowing how to go about charming her. But since that is not possible, because am leaving for the trip day after tomorrow. By the way thanks for the help" he grinned and continued "So I will tell you some basic elements. Firstly, be polite, don't dictate and give gifts. Lots and lots of gifts, you will have to make her feel special"

Mihir snapped at his brother "am not trying to marry her, why should I gift her and make her feel special?"

Sameer placed his hand on his brother's shoulder and said "Dear bro, she is a woman, no matter what purpose you have, if you want her attention then make her give you attention that's all."

Mihir thought for a long time after Sameer left and a plan was forming in his mind.

And the plan took off from the next morning, when Aarohi received a bouquet of roses at her workplace. She saw the card and her anger shot up immediately, it was written "I apologize for yesterday's behaviour"

She called Mihir immediately and after two receptionist and a formidable P.A., she got through to him and said without any greetings "Mr.Pandit, First of all I don't like this grand gestures and Second if you want to apologize be a man enough to apologize to me directly, not through some card and Third sending flowers to a florist through some other is like telling me that am not good in my job and I consider it as an insult. Am I clear ??"

Mihir's mouth which was opened to greet her was still open and he could just utter "huh?"

But he got back to his form almost... almost immediately and he said "I apologize"


"I am sorry for that day and for the flowers and for insulting you and whatever else you might think might have happened from me."

Aarohi almost... almost had a smile on her lips, but she couldn't let him know that she found him almost amusing. And so she said "I accept"


"Your apology. I accept your apology. Good bye"

"Please, Can we arrange another meeting about the shops."

"I will think about it"

"Thank you, Take care. Bye"


Mihir was running his hand through his hair and was smiling .. with pleasure for the first time, after a long time. He knew somewhere, somehow he was sneaking up on her.

Aarohi was looking at the phone and thought "What just happened? My anger came down and I actually said I will think about another meeting. After I swore that I will never meet this person again. Uff what's wrong with me?"

From the next day, Aarohi got orders of bouquets from her shop to herself, for which she refused to take money. After a week she started getting cupcakes every morning as a gift and she promptly gave them to somebody rather than eating it, even though he had guessed her favorite flavor correctly. A week after that she started getting assorted gifts everyday, which she readily sent back. Even though she was annoyed with such obvious flattery, she was almost ... almost impressed by his dedication.

Mihir was not indifferent, all his days were filled with how to impress Aarohi, what to send next to surprise her. This became a kind of game between them and he knew he had got her full attention. But more than that now getting her attention was becoming more important than anything.

Mihir wanted to hit when the iron was hot and therefore for the first time in years he announced to hold a Party for New year in the office. There were considerable number of raised eyebrows and questioning glances towards him for the next few days.

And he made sure that the flowers should be ordered from Aarohi itself. This news was a shocking punch to Aarohi, on one hand she didn't want to accept any job which was remotely connected to Mihir and on the other hand she didn't want to let go of such a big opportunity. Opportunity won hands down, and she consoled herself "It doesn't matter that he is a snob, or that around him she felt uncomfortable. It doesn't matter that he awakes an unknown ache in her soul whenever he looks at her and it doesn't matter that he is completely trying to manipulate her. Because she is Aarohi and she is strong enough to be professional enough in any environment."

Mihir was awestruck at the floral arrangement, he knew she is good, but he didn't know that she was the best. The hall had a magical quality, which made people smile and take a deep breath. She had arranged the whole hall with flowers of white and pink and it looked like a land of fairytales. His eyes searched for the person responsible for this change and almost immediately found destination. She was standing there, in a gown of emerald green and her hair stylishly tied up at her nape, wisps of hair were framing her face and enhancing the angelic quality of her smile. And her smile, Mihir didn't notice that he was holding his breath and admiring her. He didn't notice that people have started noticing him staring at her. And he didn't notice when her presence sneaked up inside him and touched his heart.

As if he had called her, Aarohi turned and looked at him and she smiled. At that moment Mihir couldn't notice anybody else present in the room. All he could see was her, as if the whole world was silent in anticipation. But anticipation of what, why his heart was anxious, what was this fluttering feeling in his stomach and why is that he could hear his heartbeats so clearly. These questions finally broke the connection between them and Mihir turned away from her.

All the brave words practiced in front of the mirror, seemed shallow when she laid eyes on him at the party, for which she was of course invited. She could see that people were really appreciating her work and that had bought a huge smile on her face. And then she turned and saw him, looking at her. Those eyes were boring into her soul, she knew that something fundamental inside her was changing.

Aarohi was surprised that Mihir didn't approach her. She was expecting him to corner her in the party trying to get into her good graces, she was anticipating his approach. Somewhere in this monologue, Aarohi was surprised to know that she was disappointed that he didn't corner her. But she corrected herself immediately "She is not disappointed, she is just almost.. almost disappointed. That's all"

Mihir knew he was losing precious time, he arranged the whole party so that he can charm her. So that he can make her soften towards him. But he didn't approach her the whole time, even though all his senses were honed on her. At every moment of the party he knew exactly where she was, what she was doing and with whom she was talking. And when men in the party started noticing her and moved to talk with her, to gain her attention, Mihir felt like somebody is twisting his gut with bare hands and he had no idea why he felt it. He only knew that she brought out alien feelings in him and he was not sure how to deal with it.

The party ended with lots of cheers and wishes and toasts. Aarohi was very tired, the act of appearing completely composed yet shaking inside with anticipation of certain person's approach leeched out all the energy from her. She was among the first who left the party, soon after the clock struck 12. She stepped into the waiting elevator, all the while thinking what is happening to her, that snob was on her mind all the time. She kept on expecting that he will do something to impress her again and his not doing anything was most effective on her.

At that moment the doors opened at a lower floor and she saw him standing there all handsome and dangerous and so unapproachable. She couldn't move or take her eyes of him.
Mihir just stood there staring at her, debating with himself whether he should stay back or go in. As the elevator doors started closing, he decided he should go in. And he did.

The heat in the elevator suddenly seem to rise and the air seemed to thin. Aarohi could feel every single nerve in her body thrumming with excitement. Mihir could hear his heartbeat so loud that he was sure everybody in the building could hear it. And that was the moment destiny chose to interfere. The power went off and the elevator stopped with a sigh.

Aarohi was frozen with fear; she had a severe phobia of dark. The silence in there was heavy and they could hear only the sound of their breathing. After a few seconds, Mihir opened his phone and dialed his P.A. demanding what is happening over there and explaining that he is stuck in the elevator with one of the guest. Mihir's voice broke the clutches of the fear holding her and she looked at him. Even though she couldn't see him in the darkness she knew exactly where he was and also that he was looking at her.

Mihir could sense her more intensely than himself and somehow he knew that the dark is scaring her. He didn't know how to assure her, so he gently moved towards her and put his arms around her shoulder lightly and when she didn’t protest and seemed to relax, he slowly pulled her closer to himself, and before both of them realize, he was hugging her and securing her to himself.

Even though Mihir was practically a stranger and she was not sure she was comfortable around him, as soon as he put his arms around her, an intense wave of relief and security washed over her making her let out her held up breath and relax into him.

Mihir couldn't shake out the feeling that hugging her was the biggest risk he ever took in his life. As if at that moment his fate was sealed and he had no control over his future. He knew what he did was right in all sense but he also knew that somehow this had much deeper effect on him than he expected.

He rested his chin over her head and pulled her closer; the smell of her was mesmerizing him, while his fingers were tangling themselves into the soft layers of her hair. He couldn't hold himself anymore and he gently kissed her hairline. And the lights turned on.
Aarohi immediately moved out of his arms as if someone had splashed cold water on her face. She controlled herself to not touch the place where he kissed and looked everywhere but him. But Mihir could look nowhere but at her. His arms were still open and he was not sure what he was trying to see there.

As soon as the elevator doors opened in the ground floor, Aarohi ran out of it without a backward glance. And while was looking at her retreating back he knew he should finish whatever plan he had for her and fast. Or else he was at the risk of losing more than he thought was possible.

So the next day he called her, requesting a meeting about the shops. Aarohi had thought about it the previous night, while she was tossing and turning in her bed and had decided it is better for everybody that they came to a compromise, she had no trust on Mihir Pandit but right now she didn't trust even herself.

The meeting was progressing no different from the previous one; they both didn't budge from their stands. And finally Mihir asked her what did she want, why not sell the shops.

Aarohi took a moment and then replied "because it is our daily bread, we can't recreate what we have here somewhere else. You are taking our livelihood for pittance of money. It's not the land value am speaking, it's the years of hard work, reputation and goodwill which is at stake here."

When Mihir couldn't answer anything for this, the meeting ended with silence and Aarohi walking out yet again. But Mihir couldn't leave it there and he went to meet her at her shop. When the few customers who were there cleared out, he approached her and asked "What else should I offer you?"

"What do you mean by that?" Aarohi didn't understand he was speaking about shops or about what happened between them.

Mihir also didn't know when the line between business and personal diminished "Name your price"

"What price"

"Everything has a price, so what is your price ? How can I get you" He looked the surprise in her eyes and added ".... to agree with me"

"You can't buy me Mr.Pandit"

"Why can't I, tell me how much should I pay for those shops and for your loyalty?"

 "Let alone shops, I don't think you can buy even me for that matter"

"I can buy 10 people like you. A person like you has no idea about the power of money. Do you have any idea how much I am worth?"

At those words Aarohi couldn't hold back her anger and she erupted "Worth? you are talking about worth. I will tell you how much you are worth compared to me Mr. Pandit. You are worth a pittance. Maybe I don't have any idea who you are. But before considering my opinion, its better you know who I am.  I Am Aarohi Kashyap, daughter of Bharat Kashyap, grand-daughter of Dharam Kashyap.  I Am the sole heiress to the Kashyap empire. And more than that am more valuable than you because I am loyal, trustworthy and capable of leaving my ancestor's money and make a mark on this world of my own. That's how much I am worth, so don't you throw your money around and expect me to grovel at your feet Mr.Pandit, because I can buy 10 people like you with my pocket money. You can't buy me anyway, but if you want to get me, then give me your compassion, your empathy and consideration, give me something of yourself to get something of me. Because I don't think you have enough money in your world to even buy my discarded shoes. Do you get that" and she walked inside her shop, leaving a shocked and bewildered Mihir sitting in the chair and wondering what just happened.

Mihir left the shop still in confusion; he didn't get into his car, but instead started walking. Her words were repeating in his head. The thing which hit him more was not the truth that she is part of one of the richest families in this country or the fact that she can buy his company including him 10 times over but that he has to give something of himself to get her. Nobody was ever interested in him, nobody ever saw him other than his success or his money. And she was asking himself, and he was sure even if she was poor and not so wealthy she would have demanded the same. That realization made him believe that she is worth not only a bit of himself but all of himself. But he had pushed her away with all the talk of buying and now no matter what he says now, she will not listen. So he had to take action, because he was sure that he was in love with her and was sure that she was almost... almost in love with him.

 And a smile spread on his face, and he stopped his brain from forming a stupid plan and let his heart decide for once.

After her outburst Aarohi had difficult time controlling her overflowing emotions. She was disappointed in him and herself. He was not the guy in the elevator who had sensed her fear and comforted her, he was not the guy who kissed on her forehead which made her feel spark in her every nerve. He was the guy who wanted to buy her, he was the guy who was putting a price on her. She had thought she had seen inside him and saw something real, but all that was a lie and she couldn't come to terms with that.

After a month of this incident when Aarohi didn't hear anything from him, she had come to terms with her disappointment. He didn't even contact her regarding the shops. Somehow she couldn't shake out the feeling that what she had seen in him was not a lie. No matter how much she tried to convince herself, she waited for his flowers or cupcakes or assortment of gifts or him.

And then one day a letter came, bearing his office seal. It was written

"Dear Ms.Aarohi Kashyap,
It is my humble request, that for the betterment of all interested, it would be beneficial if we arrange another meeting at your convenience and come to a compromise. Please reply as soon as possible.
Mihir Pandit"

He had written it personally in his own hand and as Aarohi ran her fingers lightly over the letters, a sob caught in her throat and her eyes burned with unspilled tears. But the idea that he was still lusting behind the shops made her control her emotions and consider the letter in businesslike manner.

After consulting all the shop owners, a meeting was arranged. But Aarohi was surprised with Mihir's P.A. said that he had requested that all the shop owners be present in the meeting. Even though Aarohi conveyed this message to all the others, who were very happy to hear it, Aarohi was seething with anger. She thought to herself "He knew he can't convince me, so he is trying to charm all the others so that he can cut me out. I will show him that I am made of much sterner stuff. Let him try and I will show him how to charm people Aarohi style"

The day of the meeting arrived and Aarohi's anger was still on the high. Mihir walked inside the meeting room with his architects and gave a huge smile to everybody. He met Aarohi's gaze and stopped there for a minute before smiling at her and continuing with his presentation.

With great gesture he said "Welcome everybody, I am very glad that you all agreed to attend this meeting. I am Mihir Pandit and I am the owner of the construction company who is trying to buy you out. Until a month back, all I wanted was your land, so that I can build my mall over it, So that I can fulfill my dream through my hard work and feel my pride in it. Then someone told me that I am not all that important that I should only think of me in everything. Someone told me that a person's worth is not his money, suits or cars but it is himself. And considering that someone's words I changed the whole layout of my plan. And today my architects are going to show you that and answer all your questions. Thank you" and he walked to sit at the farthest end of the room.

As the architects showed that the shop owners will not totally lose their shops, but rather in exchange to their land, they were going to get shops in the outer section of the mall. And the entire top floor of the mall will be used as a community center retaining all the activities of the present community center. They also told that they convinced the investors regarding this new plan and termed this mall as a socially responsible structure. But because the shops in the mall were more costly than the present shops, he had also worked out a payment plan which was not a burden on the shop owners and they could own a premium shop in the biggest mall of the city.

With every sentence uttered by his architects Aarohi's eyes got wider with surprise. He was actually thinking about the others with himself. Everything in the plan was in the favour of the shop owners and they had no cause to say no now.

Mihir just sat there staring at Aarohi, he didn't hear a single word anyone said, all he was seeing was her expressions. And at the end of the meeting he knew, he knew for sure that she was finally impressed, not almost impressed and he smiled with content. For the first time, he didn't want anything in return, he just wanted to impress her and see her smile. And he was content with her smile. He slipped out of the meeting room before all the questions were answered.

Even though she didn't see him looking at her, she knew from every pore of her body that he was focused on her and she knew the exact moment when he left the meeting room. As the meeting ended and everybody was excited with new offer and were chattering about it, she went in search of him.

She entered his office with much to lose and closed the door behind her. He was standing there, looking out of the window. It was raining outside. He  didn't have to turn back to know exactly who had walked in, he was watching the rain and remembering the first day they met and he said "I always hated rain, I always felt it is a huge inconvenience. And that day I saw you face up to the rain and enjoying it. That was the first time something changed in me." and he looked back at her.

She was still standing at the door and watching him.

He turned fully towards her and walked a step towards her and asked "Do you like my new plan?"

She took a step towards him and said "Almost"

"Do you think I have shown compassion?" another step

"Almost" .... step

"Empathy".. step

"Almost"..... step

"Have I given you myself?" ... step

"Almost"..... step

Now there were no steps left between them, they were standing so close that his breath was warming her to her fingertips and her smell was intoxicating him. He pushed her hair behind her ear and asked "Do you like me?"

and she breathed "Almost"

He held her shoulders, slowly encircling her into himself and asked "Do you love me?"

And she sighed "Almost" 


  1. Did i liked this story....."almost"....if i say that it will be biggest lie of mine...It is superbly woven story which plays on the heart than the brain... coz..brain know too many things but heart knows only about us..

    When i started reading the story i could able to visualize (that is always a nivi's strength) characters. What a fine way to narrate a man who wants to exchange for "money"...but changed for many. Mihit, Aarohi characters and their attitude nearly stitched together.. even though his younger appeared in a small roll, but played a wonderful part. Supporting his younger brother alway, come whatever it may, shows he do care for his people, the lift room saga made mihir more humane than the businessman..

    Nivi i liked it very much, and the final twist where you have ended "almost".. this is awesome...coz the all inclusive plan not only did wonder to his business plan, and also it elvated his stature infront of the people of the shops and above all in Aaraohi's heart he appeared to grow bigger than his life size....hats off...once again the crafting a superb plots proved yet again are a crafter par excellence...!

  2. interesting story with a nice knitting of mindsets of opposite sexes. Mihir and Arohi, two characters attracted naturally after an initial repulsive encounters...Story line is good...ending is good... but the lines in the first one third have a little drag which became more focused later.
    But Nivi is almost there with her stamp of inoperative story-telling.


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