The Arrangement

By: P.G. Van

“Niha, don’t worry about the money. I already asked Mahen to take care of it.” The woman smiled at her grandson.

“Thank you,” Niha said, throwing her arms around the woman, letting out a sob, overwhelmed by her genuine kindness.

“Niha, why are you crying?” The woman patted her back as Niha continued to be emotional.

“I’ll do anything to pay you back. You’re so nice. You remind me of my grandmother. She was the only one I had… I have nowhere else to go.” She could not think about going back to her parents’ house.

“You have me now. You can live with us. There are a lot of people working in the area. Mahen can find you a job here.”

“ Naani ,” Mahen growled.

The woman looked at her grandson. “Fine. She will work at the house.”

“I’ll work until I pay off the damage.” Niha sniffled, still raw from her emotions.

“Great! She’s going to be here, forever.” Mahen turned away from them before she could say anything to him.

“Don’t mind him, Niha. He’s upset the office space is damaged because of the accident.”

“I’m so sorry,” she said, feeling guilty about what happened.

“Don’t talk about it again. Life is more important than any office building or construction delays.”

“Thank you.”

“I’ll have someone make arrangements for you to stay here.” The elderly woman started walking away, gesturing Niha to follow her.

“But how can I pay you back for all the losses? What can I do?” Niha asked, following the woman to the back of the house.

“Don’t worry. You can arrange with Mahen for a job.” The elderly woman winked, reminding her of Niha’s adorable grandmother. Niha could pay off the damage eventually but wasn’t ready to give up her only option to avoid going back to her parents’ house.

An arrangement with a man who thinks she should go to jail? Wonderful!

Chapter 2

“You’re so thin, you should eat more food,” Mahen’s grandmother said, shaking her head, and Niha smiled. She was not thin according to movie industry standards. She was fit, but she knew what she had to give up for the body.

In the half day she spent with the elderly woman, Niha had designated her as her grandmother and had started addressing her as Naani . Naani was warm, loving, and Niha enjoyed spending time with her. They spent time talking and laughing about random things. There was not a single question from Naani about where Niha was from, and she was glad it never came up. What was even more amazing was that no one recognized her—not the case in the city.

Niha smiled at the elderly woman. “You remind me so much of my grandma.”

“Good. Then you will eat everything I give you for dinner.” The sweet woman smiled.

She smiled. “What job can I do to pay back for the accident?”

“Didn’t you just tell me I remind you of your grandma? I can’t give you a job. You will need to talk to Mahen about it.”

The very idea of talking to the angry man worried her. “I don’t think he wants me to be here, let alone give me a job.”

Naani laughed. “Just go talk to him.”

“No, that’s okay. He must be busy.” Niha was not ready to face him.

“Listen to me, Niha. I’m sure he’s done with his meetings. Go upstairs and talk to him.”

Niha was used to talking to people—the media, giving interviews, addressing large groups—but she feared to face the man who had looked at her like he despised her. “I…”

“No more excuses. Go talk to him. Now,” Naani said firmly.

Niha nodded and stood up, adjusting the long skirt she borrowed from Urmila, the housekeeper’s daughter.

“Tell him to come downstairs for dinner after you’re done talking to him,” the woman called out as Niha slowly walked toward the stairs to go to the office upstairs.

Niha felt weak in her knees as she went up the stairs. She felt guilty and almost embarrassed to face him, especially because of the way she spoke to him when she thought her parents had sent him. She swallowed hard as she walked closer to the glass doors of the study. She stood outside the doors for a long moment before looking through the glass.

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