Chapter 21

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Natasha had inconspicuously walked into the lavish banquet hall but in no time found herself the center of attention. It was her first public appearance after her marriage after all. Nervously fidgeting with her purple and gold raw silk saree she realized that an old wrinkled face was looking at her with particular interest.

"Aman's mother," Majid whispered near her ear from behind.

Promptly, she folded her hands in Namaste and walked towards the woman to congratulate her.

This was her first official task as Vaghela daughter-in-law, thrust onto her by none other than her grandfather-in-law. Normally, it was Akash's responsibility to represent the Vaghela's at such an event. He wasn't going to do it this time. Everyone in Vaghela Mansion knew that. Hard to miss the point when the antique glass dining table, with a full spread of dinner on it, laid upturned and broken in the dining room back home as his answer to the request of making an appearance here. Akash's grandfather seemed to have an inkling of how he would receive the suggestion of attending Arnav Singh Raizada's first lieutenant's wedding reception and had waited till the last minute to pressure him to do the honors.

Sneaky old man.

Long story short, she had been hastily deployed for the job in her husband's steed. There was no time or room for her to decline. It had felt like the sky would crash on them if someone did not step up to save the day. Lalaji was fuming from the ears but wasn't going to lower himself by attending a lieutenant's wedding reception. And Akash wasn't going to attend this one even if it was the only way to stop the world from ending. Oh, she knew the reasons for THE animosity now. And Khushi's involvement with THE enemy. Couldn't escape it if one lived in that house. With a prima donna like Akash Ranjan Vaghela in attendance.

These days, the Bastard starred in his every murderous fantasy.

Khushi had gotten demoted to the level of a traitor.

Dadu dearest's status was complicated.

Anyway, she had gotten ready on an auto-pilot, received the precise instructions on how to behave, how long to stay, what to say; and was herded out of the house like a cattle with shepherd Majid in tow.

"Many congratulations to you," she wished the woman Majid told her was bridegroom's mother.

"Thank you. We are honored that you came."

Natasha would have believed it if the old woman wasn't eying her as if she were the scum of the earth. But since she had been ordered to say her piece she ignored it, "The pleasure is all mine. I am sorry my husband couldn't come. He got held up with some work."

The woman almost scoffed. Then probably thought against it and hastily covered up, "I understand."

Subhadra Kirloskar didn't really want any Vaghela here, Natasha caught up then. The lady was staunchly affiliated to Camp Arnav Singh Raizada. Now Natasha had no loyalty to the said man but still, she took a cold kind of satisfaction in the fact that there were people out there who hated the Vaghelas. Just like her. Smiling for the first time, she asked to be taken to the bride and the groom to wish them personally.

After having wished the new couple, giving them the present that she was told to hand over, getting a picture clicked, Natasha climbed down the dais. She then accepted a cold drink. No partaking in the dinner, only a drink or a sweetmeat, she had been told. Majid faithfully stayed by her side.

Natasha spotted Khushi some distance away, standing beside Arnav Singh Raizada. She was looking in her direction so Natasha smiled at her. Akash's sister returned the smile but made no move to join her.

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