Monday, April 22, 2019

Blog Tour: BEYOND SCARS by Alka Dimri Saklani

If you enjoy reading romances set in India

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Beyond Scars 
Alka Dimri Saklani


Hi, I am Avinash, but this is not my story. This is the story of Avni, my sister. I know the smell of cement and bricks still pulls her to the incident seven years ago where she made a daring yet ruthless decision. I know she is drifting away. I know she has begun to find comfort in Vivaan. But I don’t know if I like it. 

Hi, I am Avni, but this is not my story. This is the story of Vivaan, the stunning, vivacious painter. There is something sad about the paintings he has locked away from the world in his storeroom. But he never talks about it. But then there are a lot of things he doesn’t talks about, like how deeply he loves me. 

And what about Dev and Kangana? Isn’t this their story too? It wouldn’t have been if only we did one single thing differently on that ill-fated night, the night that changed the course of our destiny. And hey, I am Vivaan. 

And what about me? Why does nobody talk about me? Or talk to me? Because I am a little girl or because…Well, this is my story too. You will ask who I am? The answer lies somewhere in the pages of BEYOND SCARS.

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About the author

"Alka Dimri Saklani writes contemporary fiction. Her books are labeled as ‘intense’ by most of her readers. Her debut novel ""45 Days in a Cancer Hospital"" was longlisted for Crossword Books Award 2013. Writing is her first love, the love that seized her when she was just 8.

She holds MBA degree in HR and worked with a leading MNC before turning to a full-time writer.

Born and brought up in Vadodara, a city in Gujarat, her roots hail from “Dev Bhumi” Uttarakhand. Apart from writing, she loves music, reading, traveling, and spending time with her two naughty kids."

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Friday, April 19, 2019

A2Z April Challenge 2019: Q for QUIRKY SAMRAT

Samrat is a private detective who walks in and out of some of my books and Quirky is a description that fits him well.

I was extremely impressed by a detective I read about in one of Agatha Christie’s books (no, I am not talking about Poirot) and that character kind of got imprinted in my brain. 

Samrat is not the Quirky detective's real name. Read on to know all about it. 

A glimpse into the Quirky Samrat…

In the meanwhile, they contacted Samrat, the private detective highly recommended by the twins’ friend. Ram thought that a name like Samrat sounded fraudulent, but Bharat’s friend had insisted that the man was a genius. 

Both the brothers were rather skeptical when Samrat agreed to meet them immediately. From what they knew about the man, he worked on his own and sometimes hired a couple of guys as freelancers. How could he be free the moment they contacted him? Not left with much of a choice, they invited the detective over to their hotel at 7 pm. 

Samrat arrived a few minutes before time and the receptionist called their room at five minutes to seven to announce his arrival. Lakshman looked at Ram askance before requesting the receptionist to send their guest up. 

The man who entered their room appeared nothing like a sleuth. Their idea of one was that he would be tall and muscular, strong and fit enough to combat bad guys. But this man standing in front of them was thin and nondescript. Would he be suited for the kind of work they had in mind for him? ‘Well, procrastinating will get us nowhere,’ decided Ram before offering their guest a seat. Well manners prompted Lakshman to provide Samrat with a glass of water before they spoke to him.

After the introductions, Ram said, “Actually Mr. Samrat, this case might be a bit complicated as it’s being opened after fourteen years. By the way, is Samrat your first name or last?” he asked, not able to control himself.

“It’s neither, Mr. Maheshwari. The name my parents gave me is Rajesh and my surname is Khanna. Can you imagine anyone taking me seriously if I announce myself as Rajesh Khanna? The first couple of ventures that I tried to pick up fell apart just because of this. That’s when I coined this name for myself. Samrat seems to work well with everyone.” The visitor’s face was serious once again.

I introduced Samrat in The Runaway Bridegroom. Later, he insisted on walking into An Autograph for Anjali, Simha International, and then again in Tied in Knots. 

Quirky Samrat is good with lists and is meticulous when he sets out to check facts. While people are amazed that he’s ready to follow up on the predictions of an astrologer, he has no qualms about it. The fact is that there’s not much else to work on in that particular case when Samrat sets out to search for The Runaway Bridegroom, Veerendra Singh Choudhary. 

Quirky Samrat is the one who traces Jayant’s murderer in An Autograph for Anjali. He understands people, he knows how to press the right button to get the answers he needs.

Quirky Samrat helps Rohit of Simha International, not once, but twice in the book. I think I will leave it to you to read the book to find out more.

Quirky Samrat assists Rajvardhan Thakore of Tied in Knots to put a case together against Raja Harischandra Gajanan. 

I am sure Samrat is going to be a part of many more of my books in the future. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A2Z April Challenge 2019: P for Mr. PERFECT

What do I mean by Mr. Perfect?

Dictionary meaning of Perfect: having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

“As good as it’s possible to be” is what I mean when I call Aarav Chopra Mr. Perfect. Aarav has been in love with Saloni since she was seventeen. Son of her grandfather’s car driver, he believes she’s unreachable. But seeing how good he is at his studies, the said grandfather sponsors his higher education in the USA.

After doing exceedingly well in the USA, Aarav returns home, hoping to make Saloni his girlfriend. Only to be shocked when he finds out that she’s engaged to be married. 

Heartbroken, Aarav returns to America and works really hard before setting up the Chopra chain of businesses back in Delhi.

When Saloni runs away from her husband, along with her baby son, Mitesh, Aarav is waiting to catch her back. He’s careful enough not to step into her space as that’s what Saloni needs right now.

It doesn’t really matter to Aarav if Saloni wants to marry him or not. All he offers is his support and anything else she wants/needs. He’s there for her, always.

And that’s why Aarav Chopra deserves to be called Mr. Perfect.

After the terrible experience she’s had with her marriage to Dr. Manish Chawla in Chicago, will Saloni allow another man to become her life partner? You will have to read my romance novel Mr. Perfect to find out.

A sneak peek into Mr. Perfect…

It was barely 6.30 in the morning. Aarav jogged more than usual the morning after Ruma’s wedding, sweat pouring down his face as he pounded his way around the jogging track in the building complex he lived in at Gurgaon, his mind working furiously. Going to the Malhotra residence had been the first mistake. Connecting with Saloni’s infant son had been the second one. Falling all over in love again with...

Aarav stopped suddenly, bending down as his breath came out in gasps, his hands pressed to his knees. He never got breathless while jogging, like never. Damn it all the hell! He had believed that he was home safe after pushing the thoughts of Saloni deep within the recesses of his mind. It had taken but one eye contact to rekindle the raw feelings that he still nurtured for her. His mother had stopped asking him to get married once he made it clear that he didn’t want to take the responsibility of making another woman unhappy as he couldn’t love anyone after Saloni.

Saloni! Aarav straightened up, a small smile on his face as he wiped his face and neck with a hand towel and drank deeply from the bottle of water that he had placed on a bench on the side of the track.


(Available in Paperback only in India)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A2Z April Challenge 2019: O for OBJECTIONABLE SHIKHA

I introduced Shikha in the guise of a vamp in my book The Runaway Bridegroom. She’s a powerful character and is as objectionable as one can get. She drinks, smokes, swears loudly and is bitchy into the bargain. More than all that, she wants to marry a rich guy and settle down for good. She's so objectionable that some beta readers and an editor told me that I should do away with this one as she was getting more than her share of the limelight as a secondary character.

But somehow, Shikha refused to let go of me. She insisted on remaining in my book, grabbing a number of scenes and sequences.

And till date, I have never regretted the decision to let her do what she wanted. The best part is that I could create a separate novel for Objectionable Shikha called His Drunken Wife as she wanted her story told. 

Yeah, that way I listen to my characters and go with the flow as they demand for space in my books. I feel that makes writing more of a joy to me, letting imaginary people tell their tales to their satisfaction, through me. 

About Objectionable Shikha…

Shikha was a few months over thirty-one and had worked hard throughout her life, always keeping her eye on the main chance. Her prime goal in life was to strike it rich by making the right marriage. She had moved around a few companies, working as a secretary trying to get the attention of her bosses. But it seemed that she always seemed to garner the wrong kind. All the men she had met so far had been ready to share her bed, but not her life. It never struck Shikha that those were the vibes she was emanating and that every man was only responding to it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A2Z April Challenge 2019: N for Nitin

Nitin is exactly what Simran needs at that point in her life when her self-confidence is completely shattered. Simran has taken refuge in Nitin’s house in Mumbai only because his mother Nandita is Simran’s mother’s best friend.

Simran’s self-esteem has always teetered towards zero, all because of her father who treats her like a pariah because of her dark skin. 

But Nitin doesn’t see anything wrong with Simran at all, much to her astonishment. He’s attracted to her on first sight and is determined to bring her out of her shell. And the best part is that he doesn’t seek solutions in fairness creams. He finds her dusky skin perfect and encourages her to have a makeover that will bring out the inherent beauty in her that she had smothered behind clothes that cover her from neck to feet while her face is smeared with sunscreen 24/7. 

Simran, who has always been told by the man in her life—her father—how unattractive she is because of her dark skin, is amazed that Nitin finds her beautiful despite it. It goes a long way to boost her confidence and she literally flowers under his attention.

And that’s what makes Nitin my hero from Beauty is but Skin Deep, someone who falls for Simran exactly as she is, without conditions.  

A sneak peek into Nitin and Simran…

Nitin looked at her, his brown gaze bold as he studied her minutely. Clad in an off-white churidhar and a kurta of the same shade with chikan embroidery, she looked as cute as a bug. Her figure was perfectly shaped, long slender legs topped by a well-shaped torso. But beyond all that, he was attracted to her deep, dark eyes that mirrored her every thought. First, it had only been pain, then nervousness on confronting a stranger, surprise when she realised who he was and now a combination of wariness and shyness as she became aware of him as a man.

Fascinating! It was like watching a film—the whole gamut of expressions. He checked her out from head to toe and then the other way up, this time slower. Simran caught his coffee brown eyes lingering on some parts of her body and move faster over others more to save her from embarrassment than lack of interest on his part. She felt heat steal over her body as she sensed the blush that began from her toes, spreading over her body and finally hitting her face that seemed to be set aflame.

She bent her head, not sure she wanted him to see her in that state. Nitin moved forward and placing a hand under Simran’s chin, lifted her face to study it.

Simran closed her eyes tight, not able to meet the curious brown gaze. Her heart fluttered like a trapped bird, seeming to want to break away from her chest. Her lips quivered in anticipation of she knew not what as Nitin scrutinised her face thoroughly.

It was as if the movie screen had blacked out with her eyes closed. Her face was still while the windows to her soul were shut, except for her incredibly long eyelashes that fluttered as if she had no control over them. 

(Dashavatar #4)

Monday, April 15, 2019

A2Z April Challenge 2019: M for MAHARAJA INTERNATIONAL

Maharaja International is the third and final book in The Bansal Legacy trilogy that I have set around 5-star hotels run by the Bansal siblings, Rohit, Rhea and Ritvik.

Ritvik, the hero of this story, appears very young, carefree and fun-loving in the first two books. But he grows up to be a mature guy who takes on the responsibility of a single father to his little girl, Aarya, who he has fathered through surrogacy. also runs Maharaja International, a 5-star hotel he has set up in a heritage palace in Udaipur that used to belong to The Thakore Royals. 

Sia is from a small town and has literally clawed her way from poverty to become the manager of Cleopatra’s, the beauty salon at Ritvik’s hotel.

Sparks fly the moment they set eyes on each other…

Only Sia isn’t what she appears on the surface and has a load of backlog. Will Ritvik accept her for what Sia is or the man who has sworn off marriage (the reason why he had a child through surrogacy) dump her by the wayside? You will need to read my book to know more. 

As for research, I wrote this book after visiting the City Palace in Udaipur and also staying in a hotel on the banks of Lake Pichola. But the heritage hotel that I have portrayed in this story is completely from my imagination. Please don’t go looking for it when you visit Udaipur. 

I studied a number of books and journals to understand the workings of 5-star hotels and also had a special tour of The Orchid, Mumbai, organized by a friend, to understand the running of the hotel from top to bottom. 

A glimpse into my novel…

“By the way, I’m Ritvik Bansal.”

Sia’s mouth opened wide in an O. The client was none other than the owner of this popular heritage hotel set in the middle of the Udai Sagar Lake, in the heart of Udaipur. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, sir,” she said, awe in her voice. He appeared so young. From what she had heard, he had built the hotel from scratch, renovating the rundown heritage property to the classy structure it was today. 

Ritvik tilted his head in acknowledgement before saying, “Okay Sia. What I need is a trim, just my beard and sideburns. Do you think you can manage that?” The smile had disappeared and he was suddenly all business. “And I’m in a hurry.”

“But of course sir. Please take a seat.” Sia pointed to one of the plush chairs in front of the mirrored wall. It looked as if her desire was going to be fulfilled almost immediately, that of having a go at shaping his beard. With a smile on her face, Sia brought out a hair cutting cape and opened it with a flick of her wrists before wrapping it around his wide shoulders, snapping the single button closed at the back of his neck. 

Ritvik watched her brief and efficient movements in the mirror, his eyes keen. Sia was not conventionally beautiful, her nose short and tip-tilted while her lips were a bit too generous and wide. Her smoky grey eyes that appeared almost silver were her most striking feature. She was busty with wide hips while her waist was small and her legs pretty long. Ritvik judged her to be about 5’7” tall. She was dressed in black formal trousers and a white shirt. The red apron that she wore bore the stylish profile of a crowned and bejewelled king—the hotel’s emblem—in its centre. He couldn’t but agree that the entire package was extremely attractive.

Sia took out an electronic beard trimmer and ran it efficiently over Ritvik’s thick beard, from one end to the other, trimming away the excess with a minimum of fuss. Then she took out a pair of small scissors and comb from the pocket in her apron and shaped his sideburns to perfection. She quickly dusted the hair off his cheeks and shoulders before removing his cape. “Is that fine Mr. Bansal?” She had a tough time keeping her eyes free of expression. He looked even more delectable than before. 

“It’s perfect Sia. Thanks!” He got up and left abruptly, with a wave of his hand, leaving Sia to tend to her grumbling heart. 


Dashavatar #1

Romantic Shorts #3


Upcoming novel...

Saturday, April 13, 2019

A2Z April Challenge 2019: L for LEO’S DESIRE

Leo’s Desire is the second book in my Written in the Stars series. This novel follows the romance between Nishaan (Leo) and Chaahat (Aries), another star combo that I found fascinating when I read Linda Goodman’s book, Love Signs.
There’s also another reason for the title I gave this book. Chaahat in Hindi means Desire. And that’s how my book became Leo’s Desire. 

A Leo, especially a man, insists on being a know-it-all. And believe me when I say that Nishaan (AKA Shaan, a character I introduced in my book Finding Anya) truly believes he knows best (well, he could be right too). So much so that the Aries heroine gets thoroughly pissed off by his attitude. Throw into this mix a long-distance relationship and a lot of interference from their respective mothers, and you have an explosive romance with a lot of steamy sex.

Another thing I brought into this book is an Ayurvedic Health Farm. I generally let my protags have different careers (other than the doctors and engineers of our world) and I also try to bring to light real life solutions for health issues where possible. 

In this book, Chaahat has an issue with weight reduction and becomes a starving chain smoker to lose excess weight in a rush, unaware of the repercussions on her health. I will let you read my book to know more, of course.

For research, I visited KARE Ayurveda and Yoga Retreat, Mulshi, Maharashtra and spent a day there to understand the benefits of this alternate therapy for a healthy lifestyle that will also help one maintain one’s ideal weight. 

A glimpse into my protags…

“Aren’t you going to offer me a smoke?” Shaan asked, a mischievous smile on his face. He had smoked for a few months while in college, had decided that it wasn’t to his taste and had given up the habit for good. 

Chaahat covered her packet protectively and said, “Nope.”

Laughing, he took the cigarette from her hand and puffed on it, looking deeply into her eyes, keen to provoke her.

“You bastard! I...”

Shaan placed the cigarette between her lips, effectively stopping her words. “That’s the second time you have called me that,” he said mildly, “I don’t think my parents will take kindly to it.”

“Screw you!” Chaahat declared vehemently, taking the cigarette from her mouth. 

“Now that’s an offer I truly appreciate. I’m game.” There was laughter in Shaan’s voice as he continued to look into Chaahat’s eyes boldly. 

It took Chaahat a couple of seconds to grasp what he meant before colour flared up on her thin cheeks. “I think you’re going to die at my hands,” she swore, flinging the cigarette butt out of the window, her whole body taut with violence. 

“What a way to die!” He reached with both hands on her shoulders, pulling her resisting body relentlessly towards his chest. “Chaahat...” he whispered in her ear, “you are as desirable as your name.” He pressed his mouth to the wildly beating pulse at her neck, running the tip of his tongue back and forth against it as he breathed in deeply of her unique perfume.

Friday, April 12, 2019

A2Z April Challenge 2019: K for Krish

Krish is suave, smart, handsome and highly educated. After studying and working in the USA, he shifts to Mumbai since he’s been missing India badly. While being chased by eager mamas of young women, Krish isn’t interested in getting married, until he meets Nikita.

It was love at first sight for Krish as he had fallen for Nikita, body, mind and soul. 

They get along like a house on fire from the beginning…

…until Krish makes the mistake of sending a marriage proposal through his parents to hers. At twenty-eight, he thinks it’s not right to talk of marriage directly to twenty-one-year-old Nikita. But she gets furious and tells him to get lost.

Krish is heartbroken, but abides by her wish and stays away…

…until she goes back to meet him with a proposal—A marriage of convenience where they would be married in name only.

Ready to grab at any crumb that comes his way, Krish agrees immediately. But then, even he hadn’t imagined the frustration he feels as he watches his reluctant bride sleeping peacefully night after night while he watches on like a voyeur. 

And that’s when Krish comes up with an idea…

I’ll let you read my book The Reluctant Bride to find out more about Krish and his bride. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A2Z April Challenge 2019: J for Jamie

How was Jamie born of my imagination?

When I began visualizing Rose Garden International, it was after a holiday in Ooty. I couldn’t help admiring the influence of the British Raj on the hill-station. Having always dreamed of writing historical romances, I thought to myself, ‘Why not introduce a bit of history into this story?’ 

And that’s how Jamie’s grandparents settled in Ooty a few years before India attained independence. The couple fall in love with the hill-station and build a house there along with a clock tower, the clock imported all the way from England. 

Jamie Scott, from Australia, has always been fascinated with Ooty in South India, having heard about it a lot from his grandmother Barbara and reading her diaries from the 1940s. Suddenly bored of his sedentary life in Alice Springs, he decides to take a break and visit Ooty.

I would say it’s the call of Destiny! How else would he meet Rhea Bansal, the woman he falls in love with? 

And that’s how Jamie Scott, an Australian from Alice Springs, became the hero of my book Rose Garden International, Book #2 of The Bansal Legacy series. 

Read the book to know more about not just the love story of Jamie and Rhea, but also how Jamie falls in love with Ooty, the same way that his grandparents fell in love with the hill-station almost eight decades ago. 

An excerpt on J for Jamie…
November 17, 1944

Dear Diary,

Our house is ready and we plan to move into it tomorrow morning. Sigh! Rose Garden is the most beautiful structure, probably because of the love Jason has poured into every single brick that went into its construction. 

Why such a prosaic name for our house? All I can say is that the first time we went to check the land for this property, I could see roses growing rampantly there, all having been planted by the English people who had decided to make Ooty their holiday home. It so reminded me of the English countryside. I couldn’t think of a more apt name for our home other than Rose Garden. Well, that my mother’s name was Rose also helped me make this decision. 

I am not sure whether the others will be able to relate to it, but I see a glow surrounding our home whenever I look at it in the morning sunlight. There’s a living area on the ground floor—a central hall with two wings on the left and right. The left wing has the kitchen and dining area, while the right wing houses the library that gets the most of the morning sunshine. I cannot imagine living anywhere else in the world. 

And oh yes! Jason and I are expecting our bundle of joy soon. The doctor confirmed that I am pregnant with my first child, to be born sometime in the June of next year. Life cannot get better than this, I am sure...


Jamie paused, his mind going inward. Barbara and Jason Scott had left Ooty in the February of 1947, a little more than two years from this diary entry, along with Baby Nathan, who had been about a year and a half old. They had decided to move to Australia as there had been talks of India getting its independence from being a British colony. 

“Did you never think of going back to Ooty, Granny?” Jamie was nine when he had asked Barbara that. 

“No darling. My heart overflows with the memories of my time there with your grandpa. With him passing on, I somehow never felt the urge to go back there.” Jason Scott had died twenty years ago. “Maybe you would like to visit Ooty sometime. I know you’ll love the place.”

His grandmother had died a year later, but the thought had been seeded in young Jamie’s mind. While living the busy life of a student and later when he built his career, her stories had been pushed to the back of his mind. But she had left him her diaries. And recently, after moving to Alice Springs, Jamie had taken to reading Barbara’s diaries off and on. He fingered the one dated 1946. He never found the diary of 1945. Barbara had been unable to locate it. “I’m not sure child,” she had laughed. “I didn’t even know that these were lying in the bottom of the trunk that we brought on Michelle, the ship that we travelled on from Madras port in India to Port Darwin in Australia.”

Jamie looked at his computer screen now, frowning at the projects that were waiting for him. And then he looked at his grandmother’s diaries lying on his lap. What should he do?

A sudden smile lit Jamie’s rugged face. The call of Ooty was too powerful. He had just one life to live. Might as well live his dream along with his grandmother’s wishes!

When he found a hotel by the name of Rose Garden International, Jamie didn’t think twice before booking a cottage for his stay. Jamie promised to take just ten days off to check his grandmother’s favourite place before he got back to his regular life.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A2Z April Challenge 2019: I for Indrajeet

I spend quite a bit of time working on names for my characters, especially the protagonists. I have an Excel sheet where I enter every single name that I give my characters and try my best not to repeat. I also do my best to make sure that the names suit the region and also the characters I create as much as possible. And of course, there are times when it seems as if the characters pick their own names and refuse to let go. 

Indrajeet Thakore belongs to a family of contemporary royals and his ancestors have ruled over the land in and around Udaipur for four centuries. So, I had to give him a name to befit his status. Indrajeet—the one to win over Lord Indra—fell into place instantaneously.

Indrajeet Thakore of The Marriage Predicament fame, is the eldest of the Thakore children, and his younger siblings are Rajvardhan and Dayanita.  

Indrajeet seems to be the silent type, but he is pure strength and holds an excellent relationship with all those around him. He is not only the pride of his parents, Gajendar and Ragini Devi, but also makes his cranky old grandmother, Rajmata Santhini Devi, extremely happy. To begin with, he gets his grandma a much-coveted membership into an elite club and later on manages to restore their heritage palace to its original glory much to her delight. 

As an elder sibling, he deals firmly with the shrewish Dayanita, giving her direction in life when she’s confused. Indrajeet is also a loyal friend to Ritvik Bansal of Maharaja International fame. 

And I truly believe Indrajeet is God’s gift to the tarnished Princess Yashodhara Jadeja. As her husband, he not only gives her unconditional love, but also helps her to face her fears and…

No, I would rather you read my book to know more. 

And last, but not the least, Indrajeet is an ideal son-in-law, dealing firmly with Rani Hyma Devi, a strong woman with a lot of misconceptions. 

For me, I for Indrajeet is a perfect hero.

An excerpt that will help you understand Indrajeet better…

Indrajeet Thakore looked up from his laptop when his grandmother, Rajmata Santhini Devi Thakore, stepped into the library. He got up to walk towards her with a wide smile on his face. “Good morning, Grandma. How come you are up and about so early in the morning?” he asked, a gentle, teasing note in his voice as he eyed the clock behind his working chair. It was nine in the morning. While Indrajeet had been up since six, it was rare indeed when the sixty-nine-year-old Santhini Devi got up from bed before ten.  

Santhini Devi pouted at her eldest grandson, the gesture anything but royal. But then, she could be playful when the mood suited her. “Only for you, Indrajeet. This is all about you.”
He raised an eyebrow, waiting for her to continue as he helped her on to a newly brocaded sofa. He pulled a velvet pouffe, lifted her feet gently and placed them on the footstool. He settled down next to her and said, “Now tell me, have you had coffee or breakfast?”

Santhini Devi gave a mild shudder, shaking her head. “No breakfast for me. I did have coffee, but wouldn’t mind another cup.”

Indrajeet went and opened the door to his study and beckoned to the footman hovering around the main hall. “Ramlal, could you please get two cups of coffee?” He didn’t notice Santhini Devi wince as he shut the door to go back and sit next to her.

“Indrajeet! This is exactly the one thing that I don’t like about you. You…”

“What?” There was amusement in his voice as he eyed his grandmother with his coffee brown eyes that were the exact shade as hers.

“That’s another thing. Don’t you dare interrupt while I am speaking. Have some respect for the Rajmata. You…”

Indrajeet laughed softly, hugging his grandmother. “You na, Grandma, have too many conditions. And it looks like you have more than one thing that you don’t like about me.”

Santhini Devi gave a dramatic sigh, rolling her eyes to the ceiling. Her expression immediately changed to one of joy when she eyed the freshly renovated fresco on the high ceiling of the royal library that her grandson had converted into an office-cum-study for himself. “That’s alright. I forgive you everything.” She looked at her grandson with affection. He reminded her more and more of her long-gone husband. “Just because you have brought our palace back to its former glory. But tell me something, Indrajeet, is it really necessary to go out into the hall and give an order for coffee? Can’t you just ring the damn bell? Aren’t we royalty?”

Indrajeet guffawed even as he heard a knock on the door. He got up to open the door, letting Ramlal in as the lackey carried a heavy tray that held a silver coffee service with two china cups and saucers, along with a plate of homemade cookies. He took the tray from the other man and dismissed him with a nod of his head before placing it on a low table in front of the Rajmata.

“There you go again. What’s wrong with you, Indrajeet? Why don’t you behave like the prince that you are?” Santhini Devi was totally frustrated.

“Grandma, I’ve accepted you for the old tyrant that you are. Why don’t you just accept me for what I am? I don’t like standing on formality. Poor Ramlal is older and weaker than I am. Now drink the coffee like a good girl before it gets cold,” he insisted, pouring the coffee into two cups and handing one to his grandmother after adding milk and sugar to it.