She turned around and saw that it was Atul addressing her. And beside him, the fellow she was supposed to be tracking, Rajan Dey.
“Miss Tripathy, my name is Aanand Mehra. I believe you know my twin brother Atul.”
She nodded, a tiny spark of hope coming back to her.
“I also had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of your father, the late Aditya Tripathy. He helped retrieve some documents of mine which were in the possession of his brother, but only because I threatened to shoot you if he didn’t comply. Sadly I also had to shoot him two days ago on that boat when he was about to spill the beans. He did not know that Atul had a twin so I have been using his name when I want. I knew that you didn’t know that either. It was me on the boat with you, not Atul”
Her eyes began to redden, a sign that she was becoming angry. Ignoring this, Aanand continued.
“I have had a small chat with my friend Rajan here. No documents, other than which are in your possession right now, can be used to prove his guilt. So the proposition we have for you is simple. Give the documents to us or you die. You have a day to decide.”
They turned to leave. “I do not need a day. I shall give you my answer now itself”, said Cat.
“And that would be?”
“No. You shall not get them. Even if I die”, she said, her eyes fixed on Rajan’s.
Rajan smiled. “What courage. Your dad had that a lot too. I admire that. But do think it over again.”
They left. Cat recalled what Aanand had said. So her dad was innocent. He had been trying to save her. And Atul was still alive which meant she had a small ray of hope. Time went by quickly as she was lost in her thoughts. She looked out the window and to her surprise saw that it was nearly nightfall now. She wondered why Neel hadn’t brought her any lunch.
Just then a knock on the door caught her attention. She saw it was indeed Neel there with her dinner. Looking at it, she was surprised again. It was her favorite. Roti and mushroom curry.
“Neel. This is my favorite. How did you know it?”, she asked him.
He looked to see if anybody was listening. After he made sure, he whispered, “Atul bhaiyya had told me. Whenever he comes here, he talks about you a lot. He was going to bring you here soon.”
“Neel. There is no one here but you and me. If I don’t get out of here before tomorrow morning, Aanand and Rajan will kill me. I will not surrender those documents. Please help me get out…”
“Chinmayee madam, they have not gone. Aanand sir is sitting near the beachside. That other man is also there with him. If they see you, they will kill you and they will kill me also. I can’t let you leave madam.”
“Neel, I will run fast. They will come after me first. By the time, you can also try and escape somewhere. Please Neel, you are right now my only hope”, she pleaded with him.
Neel was in a dilemma. He thought,” I have two ways before me. If I stop her leaving, she is going to be killed. If I let that happen, I can’t sleep peacefully. Whereas if I help her escape, they might kill me but sooner or later they will be caught and punished. That is better. I shall help her.”
He said, “Madam, there is a backdoor, through the kitchen. You can go through there. It will take you to the beach. Run as fast as you can. There is always a motorboat nearby. Use that and escape.”
Cat didn’t wait another moment. She ran downstairs and through the kitchen door. The beach lay before her. With a pang, she realized it. She was living out the nightmare she always had. She heard voices but didn’t stop. She knew it would be Aanand and Rajan chasing her. She ran as fast as her legs would take her. In the distance, she could see the lights of a car. Her running had taken her near the highway apparently.
She was becoming tired. She was almost there. But she fell. Turning around she saw Rajan and Aanand coming. She thought it was her end. She closed her eyes. She heard a couple of popping sounds. She imagined it was their gun shooting her. Then she heard distinctly the sound of two bodies falling. Opening her eyes she saw lying a foot in front of her, the dead bodies of Aanand and Rajan.
She got up slowly. She looked around and saw him. Her attacker in the nightmare, the guy dressed in all black. Her savior now. She moved toward him. But she had no strength left to even walk. She had gone 5 steps when she fainted.
She awoke again, to the sound of the birds nearby, in that very room in Heaven’s Heart where she was held two days previously. She saw him sitting near her feet. Her savior. She got up and without thinking of anything else; she went up to him and kissed him. Atul.
Atul had given the documents to a friend of his, an officer in the Coast Guard. More evidence was found in Aanand’s room in the mansion. Both together were enough to convict the remaining members of the gang. She was also happy to know that Atul had found her dad’s body and cremated it with proper tradition.
The door opened. It was Neel, bringing in a tray, with her favorite dish as breakfast. She was happy again. She took up her glass of juice. She was almost finished with the juice when she saw it. At the bottom of the glass, was a beautiful diamond ring. She looked at Atul.
“I didn’t want to wait till the next time at Luigi’s”, he said, looking into her eyes.
She was so happy she couldn’t find words to say what she wanted.
“Chinmayee Tripathy, will you marry me?”, he asked, kneeling in front of her.
Tears came out of her eyes, as she said those words, “Yes, I will. Atul, I Love You”.
As he held her hands, and drew her to his side, she knew one thing for sure.
She would never again have that fearful dream.