The meeting of the Indian Council of Textile Owners had just dispersed. The lounge of the hotel ‘Grandeur’ was filled with rich businessmen, old and young alike; the young entrepreneurs were being introduced to the elder members by the Chairman, Mr. Ashok Sahai.
At the centre of the lounge stood Mr.Ryan, Ryan Jindal, surrounded by a group, consisting of the richest members of the council. He needed no introduction. The Jindal Textile Corporation had been the most powerful and successful industry in India for the past 15 years and had only doubled in its value ever since Mr.Ryan inherited it after his father five years back. Ryan had been an MBA fresher when he took up the responsibility; everybody knew there was something else in the man that made him what he was- the king of the Jindal empire. He had the strong and slender build of an athlete and was dressed in a black suit tailored to perfection. His body looked chiselled, with not a single vestigial muscle. His face was angular with a sharp, pointed nose.he had black curls that fell over his broad forehead. And his eyes… people who conversed with him rarely looked at his eyes, they made one uncomfortable. They played a huge contrast to the sophistication and aristocracy his clothes displayed. On the surface, they were insolent and impersonal, but anyone with a little more insight could see that they were only a screen to something more savage and terrifying, like the fores of nature bottled up in human form.
At present, he was completely bored of the flattery he was being entitled to by a group of businessmen around him. They were saying something about him being the responsible son and the future badshah of the textile world. He smiled and nodded appropriately to all the comments, but his eyes were shifting, scrutinising the groups of people around the room. Suddenly they fixed onto someone, someone standing with Mr. Ashok, being introduced to some others. His eyes never lost sight of her for a moment. He stared at her as she stood there- tall, slender- a picture of elegance. Her face wore a smile- a smile that reflected beauty and self- confidence, but more than everything, they deepened her eyes and the colour on her cheeks. A simple sari of blue silk adorned her, but she looked like she would hardly have looked less elegant in a pair of jeans or trousers.
For a few moments, Ryan looked at her and then turned back to the conversation immediately around.
After a quarter of an hour, he heard Mr.Ashok’s voice, “Mr.Ryan, may I introduce to you Miss.Tamanna, and Ms...”. “Mr.Ryan, Ryan Jindal, I know him quite well, Mr.Ashok.” “That’s my pleasure, Ms.Tamanna.” Ryan stretched out his hand, his eyes looking straight at her as if he were challenging her. She met his eyes with defiance and took his hands coolly. Even as their fingers touched, his palm enclosed hers. The warmth from him seemed to spread all through her. Her eyes wavered just an instant and she was the first one to withdraw her hands.
For a moment there was troubled silence, and then Tamanna composed herself and managed a weak smile, “Nice to meet you Mr.Ryan”.
“Of course, Ms.Tamanna, looking forward to see more of you.”
In sometime, Ryan took leave. He never stayed back for the Council dinners. As he walked back towards his car, he thought of her again. There was something about her, in her poise, but she had wavered from that at his touch. The thought made him happy, though no girl had ever resisted his touch. But he knew this had been different. She had been genuinely surprised, perhaps troubled, at her own response. He would find out more soon.
Thinking so, he directed his remote at his car. Something was wrong, it refused to open. He pressed again, no response. “Is anything the matter, Mr.Ryan? That’s my car.” Tamanna stood loking at him, hands folded, a smug smile on her face. Now it was his turn to be genuinely surprised. “This is your car?” He had every reason to be surprised. The car was the first of its kind in India and he had been the first Indian to get it. He loved cars, especially, huge, black ones. He would never have imagined anyone elseat the Council to have ever owned one like that. She broke into his reverie, “If you’ll please excuse me,” and she pressed the button on her remote. The car dutifully opened its door for the rightful owner. As she walked past him to get into the car, he involuntarily shifted aside, and saw his car parked some 100m away. “Good night, Mr. Ryan”, she said and just sped off.
For one moment he stood dumbfound and then a smile crossed his lips, a cold, cruel smile. He had discovered what was different about her. After a long time, he had been challenged. He felt a gush of adrenaline. She was an independent will, a tigress. He would possess her, he decided, “Very soon…”, were the only words that came out of his mouth.