The Arrangement

By: P.G. Van

Mahen had caught the attention of many news channels and magazines when the automobile manufacturing facility opened, and the tabloids went nuts when they realized he was the business magnate whose mother is the famous, Neelima Chandra, and that he was married to Niha. To add to the list of celebrities in the family, Niha’s mother made a comeback in the movies with Niha’s help and had a couple of box-office successes in the movies where she played a prominent role.

Niha loved it when one of the news channels reported the news as ‘Mahendra Rayudu’s wife is none other than the award-winning actress, Harika Ratnam, who is also the mother of their young daughter .’

Mahen and Niha were about to move away from the reporters and step away from the flashing cameras to walk the red carpet into the theater when they heard the standard word that the reporters used to catch their attention.

“MaheRika, to the right, please. Look right into the camera.”

Mahen leaned closer, holding her to him, looking at the cameras and said, “I like that name. We should have a daughter and name her MaheRika.”

She laughed, her eyes sparkling at him and got the satisfied approvals from the cameramen who were taking their pictures. “Beautiful, stunning! Mahendra, hold her closer. Love it!”

Four hours later, Niha and Mahen pulled in front of their home that they had modified and extended to accommodate a larger family—their four-year-old daughter, Mahi, and their two-year-old son, Nikhil, along with family and friends visiting more frequently. Among the frequent visitors were their parents and friends, Radha and Raghav, who have now been married for a few years, and Deepak.

Anytime Deepak wanted an escape from the city, he hopped on the chopper and landed on their property, literally. That night was one of the nights where they would have a full house with family and friends who were staying back for the weekend.

As Niha and Mahen were ascending the steps up to the portico, they heard the rumble of the sports car from a distance. Niha turned to look in the direction of the approaching lights and knew it had to be Deepak. “If he wakes up my baby, I’m going to kill him tonight.”

“Easy, my love. Let me remind you, he’s your best friend.” Mahen laughed.

“I told him not to do that when he gets close to the house,” she growled.

“You make me so hot when you’re like an angry mamma bear.” He ran his hand over the bare skin on her belly.

“Keep it down, Mahen. I’m sure your darling daughter is still up.”

“I bet she is. How can she go to sleep if I don’t put her to bed?” He laughed. Mahen made it a point to take time to put their kids, especially their daughter, to bed every night. Even when he was traveling for business, no matter what time zone he was in, he took ten minutes to read her a book or talk to her before she went to bed.

“Deepu, shut that thing up!” Niha barked waving her hands in the air as he got closer, and Deepak laughed, shaking his head before turning off the engine.

He stepped out of the car, the loud music still playing as he got out, making Niha grouchier. He turned off the music and walked toward them. “Didn’t you guys leave almost an hour back? Did you guys just get home?”

Niha’s anger melted away as a wave of heat flushed her cheeks. They had left the theater early claiming to go home to the kids, but they had an ulterior motive, their tryst in the middle of the fields still had her legs wobbly, but she was glad the porch was dimly lit, and Deepak didn’t see her flushed cheeks.

“I don’t drive like you, Deepak. I’m a responsible dad.” Mahen came to Niha’s rescue.

“You left with the grandparents and just got home?” he teased following them into the house.

Niha was thankful for the voices they heard from the family room and speed-walked toward the back of the house where the music was playing. She stopped and let out a squeal of joy when she saw Mahi, their four-year-old daughter, perform for her grandparents and great-grandma captivating her very biased audience.

She felt Mahen behind her and turned to enjoy the look on his face. He was a proud father who knew their daughter would take the path of her grandma to be an actress.

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