The Arrangement

By: P.G. Van

For running away from home? For crashing her car?

“Mr. Rayudu, she’s fine with not even a scratch. She can be discharged.”

The man nodded. “I have taken care of all the paperwork and other formalities to release her.”

“Thank you. She’s all yours. Get some rest, young lady.” The doctor smiled before turning to leave.

An eerie silence fell over the space after the doctor and the nurse left, and Niha sat on the bed wondering what was going to happen next. Was this man going to take her back to her parents, continuing her misery.

“Let’s go.” He broke the silence.

“I don’t want to go with you.” A surprised expression passed on the man’s composed, handsome face.

“You don’t have a choice after what you did.” His voice was stern.

“I don’t care. I don’t want to go.”

The man took in a slow, deep breath. “You either go with me or to jail. The choice is yours.”

“Why do I have to go to jail? What did I do?” Her heart was beating fast.

Did her parents complain that she stole their car? Quite possible!

He stepped closer to her. “I need you to stop talking and come with me. Now.”

Niha knew she would get into more trouble, especially with her father for not following orders, and reluctantly slid off the bed and slipped on the pair of slippers that were placed next to the bed.

The clothes she had on were too loose for her, but she was glad she was not in the dress she had on when she decided to walk away from her life, rather run away. She followed the man as he led her out of the hospital while almost everyone greeted the man.

Niha had no idea what part of the country she was in as she did not really pick a destination when she started driving. She remembered stopping to get fuel at a secluded gas station after driving for hours. She paid with the cash she had and purchased the extra container of fuel when the man said she would not have another option to refill for hours as she would be driving through a forest area.

It was a ridiculous thing to do, but she could not stand her life anymore—the disrespect toward her due to the roles she chose in the movies she acted in or just the fact that every person looked at her like they were stripping her with their eyes. The argument she had with her mother and her mother’s words were the last thread.

“You will go meet him tonight and get this movie production contract signed. It’s very important to your father.” Her mother threw the folder with the contract in it on the table in front of her.

Niha looked at her mother for a long moment. “Ma, I don’t care how important it is. I’m not going to meet that bastard.”

“Niharika, he is a businessman who is looking to invest in a movie production with your father… don’t be disrespectful.”

“No, Ma. He is one of those people who doesn’t respect women, especially the kind who thinks he can…” her words drifted off just thinking about the sleazy words the man had said to her when she recently met him at an event.

“Don’t make excuses, Niharika.”

Niha took a deep breath. “Are you suggesting that I get the contract signed at any cost?”

“Yes. And you can deal with him. You are an actress, sweetheart. Just get him to agree to the conditions of the contract.”

Her mother’s words made her sick to the stomach “Why, Mom… why?”

“Just do it. This is the easiest route to take. He is into you, and you should make hay while the sun shines.”

“You disgust me,” Niha spat.

“This is for the betterment of our family.” Her mother’s voice was elevated.

“Family? What family? You and Dad have your own lives. I don’t even know why you’re still married.”

“Shut up, Niha.” Her mother raised her hand as if wanting to slap her daughter but stopped. “You will go tonight, by yourself, no driver, offer whatever he wants, and get the contract signed.”

Niha was shaken out of her thoughts when the car came to a sudden stop in front of a mansion. She had stared into the vast greenery as the man drove in silence, anticipating the burn she would feel from her father’s glares and her mother’s words.

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