chapter 10

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A different music was playing. This was the first thing avni noticed as she stepped in her department. It was Christmas music, but not Jingle Bells. The song had been changed. Why?

Because she had mentioned the repetition to Neil.

Ridiculous! She thought immediately. As if anything she had said to neil would be of any importance to him. He hadn't been able to get away fast enough yesterday when Malcolm had arrived so unexpectedly. Avni sighed and rubbed her eyes. She had slept like the dead yesterday night, exhausted from all the crying. She had forgotten to change the batteries of her alarm- again, and hadn't had the sense to set an alarm on her phone.

Still groggy and in no better mood, she made her way to the staffroom. Time to get back to work.

"Thank you so much for joining us today, Anni" Russell greeted her sarcastically from behind.

Usually, she tensed at hearing his voice and searched for ways to avoid him but today, she felt irritation. She had been tolerating Russell Tails too much.

She turned. "Good morning, Russell" she said quietly, as usual not responding to his sarcasm. She rarely gave him that satisfaction.

"May I know how did you manage to come to work today?" The sarcasm increased tenfold.

"The snow has melted" she replied with a shrug. But come on, wasn't it obvious?

And oddly, it had. Apart from the dampness and the odd patches of snow at various spots, the weather had cleared miraculously. Nobody could say that it was snowing buckets twenty four hours earlier. Almost everything was back to normal, including the bus service.

"I live in one of the suburbs, and I still managed to get to work yesterday" the manager snapped.

Wow! So dedicated of you. Avni felt like coming back but didn't. There was no point in dragging the situation any further. "That was nice of you" she said instead.

"Are you by any chance being sarcastic, Anni?" Russell glowered at her.

"No" avni rubbed her temple. The man was obviously spoiling for a fight and she knew that if she didn't leave soon enough, then one of her headaches-caused-by-Russell would start any moment.

She had wanted to skip work today as well, but then had decided against it. It wouldn't have been any good to sit at home and curl herself in a ball of misery. She had needed a distraction and only work could provide that. And honesty, she had hoped to catch an odd glimpse of Neil. So, she had come. But here she was, into a one-sided conversation with Russell Tails, that too before starting work.

The manager snorted. "I think it would be better for everyone if your contract gets terminated, Anni."

Avni looked up. Had he just said that?

"In fact" Russell continued. "I suggest you walk back the way you came right now"

Not again! Avni thought with an inward groan. Neil had told her to not to go to work. Neil ! Had he asked Russell to kick her out?

"Is there a problem here?"

At once, Avni turned at the sound of Neil's voice behind her. He was there in dark blue denims accompanied with a white shirt and a black coat, looking as gorgeous as ever. Another crack appeared in her already badly broken heart. This man could never be hers.

"Good morning, Mr. Khanna" Russell took charge of the situation.

Avni looked at him. He looked irritated by neil's appearance. It meant that neil hadn't asked him to fire her. She wasn't really surprised. She knew that neil wasn't that kind of person. He would never be unfair to anybody. Had he been like that, she wouldn't have fallen in love with him.

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