Chapter 2

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"In here, sir," Gulal Singh stopped in front of a door on the ground floor of the lavish Rajvansh Vilas.

Anthony acknowledged with a nod.

The servant bowed and walked away.

Anthony looked at his retreating back thoughtfully. Gulal Singh was a loyal servant to Rajvanshs who had been invited to witness the ceremony from which everyone else had been kept away. He was an important person in Rajvansh household with deep-rooted connections back home. From the information he had collected about Uday Rajvansh, he had figured that Gulal Singh not only worked as his personal butler but his family also served as his eyes and ears to keep an unofficial tab on the comings and goings of their common native town and Rajvansh's current election seat, Shahpura. No wonder Uday Rajvansh had resolved most of the recent issues there before they could make it to the headlines. Shahpura was ranked as the most progressive and prosperous constituency of the state.

Uday Rajvansh's grandfather and father had always fought the elections from the Chomu constituency. Simultaneously they had worked to get their ancestral Tazimi Thikana, Shahpura, a constituency status. That status was finally granted just ten years back. The Rajvanshs moved their election seat to Shahpura without delay and while they've always won the elections from there, this head-seat of theirs hadn't proven lucky enough to actually bring them to the power. Last elections were particularly brutal for the Rajvansh scion. This year Anthony would obviously follow the state elections with keen interest. Maybe, Lady Luck would shine on Uday Rajvansh this time around.

Knocking on the door, he turned the knob and entered the room.

Niyati, who had been sitting on a brocaded couch in the sitting area of the two-part luxurious bedroom, was in the process of gracefully standing up. Anthony had to blink. Her face had been covered earlier during the ceremony so the effect of her complete look was nothing short of gobsmacking right now. Adorned in the traditional Rajputi bridal gear of lehenga, odhani, and poshak, complete with the trademark Rajputi headgear of rakhdi and sheeshphool, a huge round nose ring, rectangular-ish special Rajasthani necklace, heavy bajubands on her upper arms, along with other royal jewelry, Niyati looked like a genuine princess. If someone would not know of her origins, they could never tell that she was an orphan from Saint Theresa Orphanage in Mumbai. She was a beautiful girl, no doubt, but right now she resembled every inch the royalty she had married into. Actually, it seemed like she had always belonged here in this grandeur.

It was her nervous expressions, that morphed into relief when she saw that it was him, which gave her away. Then she looked the young, vulnerable and scared girl she was at the moment.

"Anthony uncle," she smiled. "I was afraid you had left."

"Without meeting you? Not on your life."

"Can... you not... stay a bit longer?"

"I have to report in the office tomorrow, my child. As it is I have been on a leave for the past month."

Her face dimmed but she bravely said, "I understand, uncle. You have done a lot for me. I cannot thank you enough. I shall be in your debt all my life."

"How many times have I told you that I don't want your gratitude, Niyati? I only want your well-being and happiness. You are like my daughter and daughters don't thank their fathers for getting them married, no matter the circumstances."

Niyati swallowed back a lump that had suddenly appeared in her throat.

"Now, my dear, I want to talk to you before I leave. Come let's sit here," he motioned towards the couch Niyati had just vacated.

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