Friday, April 5, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: E for EFFERVESCENT KIARA BAKSHI


Arjun Mathur, from ARJUN’S PENANCE, isn’t what he used to be a decade ago, when I first introduced the young man in An Autograph for Anjali, the book which belongs to his mother, Anjali. Those days, he was a cheerful, upbeat, supportive son, not only to his adoring mother, but also to his arrogant and insensitive father. Arjun doesn’t lose his cool even when his father is murdered, so much so, that he’s able to forgive the murderer without too much difficulty.
But now, Arjun is an embittered and cutthroat businessman, without a shade of compassion. It appears as if he has locked away his heart and thrown out the key.

I realised he not only needed a partner who is sensitive and empathetic, but also someone who is EFFERVESCENT—read bubbly and cheerful; and that’s how the character of Kiara Bakshi was born.
Kiara Bakshi is the perfect Yang to Arjun Mathur’s Yin. Read my book, ARJUN’S PENANCE on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, or Paperback, all available on Amazon. 

Here you go, an excerpt from my novel, to let you know more about the Effervescent Kiara Bakshi:

Kiara knocked on the door and entered when a voice invited her to, “Come in”. Entering, Kiara blinked when bright sunlight hit her face, almost blinding her as she looked at the person sitting behind the huge office desk, working on his laptop. But she couldn’t see beyond a vague outline. Presuming he must be the MD, she said, “Good morning, Mr Mathur.”

“Please have a seat, Ms Bakshi. Mudit should be here soon. We’ll start the meeting immediately after that.” Arjun didn’t look up at the woman who walked forward to sit in one of the visitors’ chairs in front of his desk.

“Thanks,” Kiara responded in a soft voice as she settled down in the chair. Blinking a couple of times, she got adjusted to the brightness before staring at the man behind the desk. He wore a dark blue suit teamed with a pristine white shirt and a silver-grey tie which had blood red motifs. His hair was brushed back neatly from his broad forehead, his eyebrows dark and thick. She couldn’t see his eyes as he was engrossed in his work. But she couldn’t miss the heavy eyelids and long, curling eyelashes any woman would die to have. A strong jawline, lean cheeks which were clean shaven and a square chin with a tiny cleft right in the middle made up the rest of the man’s face. As for his lips—Kiara’s gaze went wide as she ignored his thin upper lip when she noticed the sensual lower one. A man of infinite passion! She suppressed the giggle which rose in her throat, bringing her gaze down to her hands as they lay on her lap. For one with a chirpy nature, it was difficult to sit quiet and remain solemn. 

But Mudit had warned her. He had told her how serious his boss was; that Arjun Mathur wouldn’t tolerate her lively sense of humour. Indeed! Forget about his tolerance level, it looked like the man wasn’t even aware that there was another person sitting right across his table.

“Coffee or tea?”

“Huh?” Kiara looked up, startled. “You said something?” Her mouth opened in a moue when she looked into his honey brown gaze and felt herself drowning in it. Oh my God! If his lips were drool worthy, his eyes were heart wrenching for want of a better expression. 

“Ms Bakshi!” Arjun raised his voice to get her attention, a frown of irritation on his forehead. The woman was dumb or what? 

“I’m sorry! You were saying?” Kiara reined in her racing thoughts to ask him.

“Will you have coffee or tea?”

“Coffee, please.”

Mudit walked in after knocking, saying, “Sorry to keep you waiting, Arjun, Kiara.”

Arjun waved him into the seat next to Kiara even as he lifted the phone to ask for three coffees.

“Hey, what’s up?” Kiara gave Mudit a grin, her gamine face lighting up when she saw his friendly face. It was such a relief after staring at the MD’s grim countenance over the last five minutes.

“All good. I’m glad you could make it despite your busy schedule, Kiara,” said Mudit warmly.

“Shuddup! Don’t be so damn formal.” Kiara gave him a familiar pat on his forearm just as Arjun turned towards them.

“Arjun, this is Kiara Bakshi. I know you both have met, but let me give you some background. Kiara and I have been neighbours forever. And I can tell you she’s the best hacker there is. She…

Arjun lifted a hand to stop Mudit mid-sentence. “This is the ethical hacker you spoke to me about?” She looked like a kid out of school. What the hell would she know about hacking? Arjun looked at her properly for the first time after she entered his cabin. With corkscrew curls which tumbled down her slender shoulders, her dark eyes dancing with mischief, her lips in a permanent pout, her pixie face was maybe the cutest he had ever set eyes on. But that was all the more reason for him to know that she was absolutely unsuitable for the work he needed done. “But… but she’s a kid. I don’t think she will do justice to…”

“Just a minute here.” Kiara raised her left hand to stop Arjun mid-sentence even as she gripped Mudit’s forearm with her right, not at all keen that he defend her. Facing the managing director of the Mathur Group of Industries head on, she continued, “I don’t plan to tell you my age. But my credentials should speak for themselves.” She turned to Mudit. “I sent you my bio. Haven’t you shared it with your MD?” Again, before Mudit could reply, she said, “Okay, I see I have to prove myself here.” She quickly took out her laptop and placing it on the table, booted it.

“Listen, Ms Bakshi, I don’t have the time for this…”

“Five minutes. I just need five minutes of your time. You can throw me out after that.” Kiara didn’t look up at Arjun when she spat out the words, her focus on her laptop screen. Barely three minutes later, she smiled when Arjun’s phone pinged. Looking him straight in the eye, she said, “I think you have mail.”

With his frown growing deeper by the second, Arjun checked his phone. There was a mail saying that he had signed into his email using a new device. Clenching his jaw, he glared at the grinning Kiara. “What does this mean?”

“I just hacked into your email account.”

Arjun jumped up from his chair, snarling, “Get out. How can you bring her here, Mudit? You…”

Kiara lifted her hand, once again stopping Arjun mid-sentence. “You wanted to know if I am a good hacker and I just proved it. Shouldn’t you be welcoming me with open arms instead of chucking me out of your office?” 

Arjun spluttered, having a difficult time holding on to his temper. But he couldn’t deny the logic in her words. Her black eyes danced even as her wide lips stretched even wider in a grin. Arjun bit his lip hard to stop the sudden smile which threatened to break out on his face. Yes, he had to agree she was good. But that didn’t mean he was going to welcome her with a smile. With a tight look on his face, he admitted, “You’re right, Ms Bakshi, welcome on board.” 

Kiara thrust her hand across the table, “Let’s shake hands on that. And thanks, Arjun Mathur.” She was impressed by the way he had admitted she was right.

Arjun, who had already turned to speak to Mudit, looked at her outstretched hand. Not having a choice, he took it in his to give it a shake, startled by the shot of electric current which passed from her hand to his. He quickly snatched his hand away and plopped down on his chair with a thud. 

What the hell had happened just now?! 


  1. What a lovely book cover. I like the name Kiara.
    EFFERVESCENT is a wonderful choice for the letter E in A-to-Z.

  2. Oh, dear... it doesn't sound like it's going to stay strictly professional!

  3. Enjoyed reading yours and dropping from A to Z challenge.