Monday, December 8, 2014

STAR STRUCK: 12 Days of Christmakwanzakah Blog Hop


Dear Insatiable Reader,
As part of the 12 Days of Christmakwanzakah Blog Hop, which I can't thank Julia Kelly and Alyssa Cole enough for organizing, I bring to you my short story,

 Star Struck.

© Falguni Kothari.



Tania Coehlo hefted her oversized tote on her shoulder, pressed the down elevator button and tried, unsuccessfully, not to cringe as DJ Mickey botched up a perfectly pleasant Christmas carol—a personal favorite—into something hideous.

Following yonder star…chiggy chiggy chiggy boom!


Christmas Eve in India was hot, noisy and as dystopian as the bhangra-style We Three Kings jingle-belling at her back. 

Tania’s head pounded harder than the music—had for the past three hours—but she’d borne it without fuss. Borne it because that was what she was paid to do—to sweat and toil, shield and deflect, present an exterior so shiny that it hurt the eye. And no matter how tempting it had been to fling the DJ and his music system from the 35th floor balcony of Ariana’s penthouse to certain sound-free death on Mumbai’s cratered roads, she’d resisted committing the kind of mayhem she routinely begged her clients to avoid at all costs.

Not that they ever listened. Bollywood stars tended not to listen to advice. And a good thing too, as it kept her floating in scandals to sweep clean and, hence, afloat.

She’d escaped as soon as she got what she wanted for Ariana. The revised contract was signed and duly notarized with minutes to spare before midnight, and… She. Was. Done. Off the clock, starting right now—she glanced at her swarovski-encrusted wristwatch—a mere seven hours later than expected. But, she wouldn’t quibble. She’d go home, soak her aching muscles in a frothy bubble bath, get in bed with her TV remote and not think of anything or anyone…famous…until after the holidays. She was unofficially on holiday until the New Year.

“Unofficially” because Bollywood’s favorite go-to publicist could never “officially” shut off her phone. On holidays, particularly the time between Christmas and New Year, she had to be extra vigilant. Stars with more money than sense got to all sorts of crazy on such days—wild parties, accidental suicides, proposals, affairs, confessions, elopements, wrong gift delivered to the wrong mistress, etc. etc. God be praised, Ariana hadn’t fake eloped and had agreed to the pre-nup—for want of a better word—though Tania suspected the contract had more to do with Ariana’s co-star turned fiancé than Ariana heeding Tania’s counsel.

He seemed…not so much the bubblehead or junkie Bollywood’s inner grapevine claimed he was. Which was…not her business, thought Tania, firmly suppressing any and all curiosity she felt for the man. He could become her business, whispered the cash-crazy devil within her. She could sign him on as a client as Ariana and the man in question’s managers so clearly wished. But, leaving aside the conflict of interest such a triangle would surely trigger, Tania had forsworn working for Bollywood bad boys forever. She did not trust herself around pretty men anymore.

The elevator doors swished open, revealing a Marsala-red, holly-green interior that matched the decorations in the hallway. Ignoring the mistletoe creeping out of a wreath like a frostbitten tarantula, Tania strode in and put all thoughts of exploding stars of the Bollywood variety aside. Soon, she’d be away in her manger, detoxifying the stress from her bones.

“Hold the doors, babe.” The rasping, growly order came a split second before a tall, athletic body sauntered into the elevator cab, tuxedo doused in Hugo Boss scent and all.

Tania stopped breathing. No, no, no! Not him! The elevator whooshed shut, her breath soughed out, locking her in with Ariana’s freshly pre-nuptialized fiancé. DJ Mickey’s Hot Diggity Damn remixed with Silent Night punctuated the lockdown. She’d spent the entire night silently avoiding him for this? Hot diggity damn!

Veer Rana, Bollywood’s newest heartthrob and star-in-the-making, punched G on the button panel and stepped back to give Ari’s delicious little publicist with the fuck-me expression his standard supersonic smile. The smile was guaranteed to melt the panties off a hot blooded woman—or gay man—between the ages of thirteen to a hundred and thirteen. But all it did for this feisty piece was twist her lips into a sneer.

He’d eyed her all night, constantly, blatantly, enthralled by her plump, quivery lips as she talked, cajoled, argued and laughed. He’d watched her so intently that he knew just by the tiny swipe she gave those luscious lips with her hot pink tongue that he made her nervous, no matter what her fuck-you posture suggested.

He, Veer Rana, made Bollywood’s publicity piranha nervous as a turtle without a shell. His smile sharpened, turned shark-like as he held out his hand.

“I’m Veer. You’re Tania, right? I guess Ari forgot to introduce us.”

With a grim sigh and another lip swipe, she shook his hand. The elevator had barely started rolling when it stopped again, two floors down, on the 33rd floor. Veer took advantage of Ms. Piranha’s confused distraction with the opening doors to engulf her hand between both of his and pull her close. To make room, he explained angelically. Luckily, not a soul waited in the hallway to get in.

“Guess they took the other elevator down or the stairs,” Veer remarked as the doors closed.

He swallowed a laugh when the smokin’ hot publicist shot a dark look at him, then snatched her hand back as she realized he’d been holding it for a good minute or more. She grabbed her designer tote with both hands and stared straight ahead as they began to descend again, only to stop on the next floor down.

“What the hell?” She poked her head out of the open doors and swept a pissed off gaze across the empty hallway. “No one. Don’t tell me someone’s played a stupid prank and pressed the buttons on every floor?”

In the slightly bent position, Ms. Piranha’s ass stuck out, round and firm under her satin-red jumpsuit. Veer bit down a groan, imagining the debauchery he could get up to with those gorgeous globules.

“I’ve played similar pranks and far worse as a child. Cheer up! Where's your Christmas spirit?” he murmured as she straightened up, still fuming.

Tania checked her watch again. Five minutes to midnight. She frowned at the man who wasn’t even trying to hide the fact that he was ogling her.

“Where's yours? Shouldn’t you bring Christmas in with your fiancée?” Tania shook her head in disgust. 

She wasn’t surprised at all by the kind of man Ariana had bound herself to. This was Bollywood, wasn't it? This was the way of the stars and why she had a job. Because men like Veer Rana could never be faithful, or considerate.

If she hadn’t been staring him in the face, she’d have missed it. One moment, his Botticelli’s angel face was alight with wicked promise. At her question, it remained temptingly gorgeous, and flirtatious, but the quality of his smile changed. His expression shuttered down, or rather a mask came on as if a director had yelled, “Take two: Christmas Eve. Elevator scene.”

“Didn’t you insist for a thirty-day grace period before the contract comes into effect and we announce the engagement to the world?” he asked, his expression mocking. “I don’t care to play the doting fiancé until it does.”

This was unbelievable! He was mocking her when it was him who should be blushing with shame? At the very least, be embarrassed for hitting on her? The elevator stopped again on the next floor and Tania gritted her teeth in frustration. 

The grace period had been her idea. If this had been a love match or even an arrangement between the families, she wouldn’t have insisted Ariana protect her interests. Ariana’s pseudo engagement was nothing but a publicity stunt. Both Veer Rana and Ariana were star babies and had been Bollywood’s darlings since their births. Both were in their early twenties and had just wrapped up their first film together under a very prestigious director and production banner. The film was a shoo-in for a mega blockbuster. The production house, Rana Productions, steered by Veer’s elder siblings wanted to lock the Veer-Ariana pairing for their next three projects. To ensure high ratings, they wanted the world to think the stars were an item both on and off screen. Truthfully, the setup would launch their careers into the stratosphere. Tania wasn’t against the publicity campaign. She just wanted to make sure her client understood what it entailed. Ariana was surprisingly naïve for a star baby.

“I did.” Tania lifted her chin. “And a good thing too as you clearly can’t be bothered with the fine print. Ariana’s more than my client. She’s my friend. So take this as a warning...I understand your engagement is a sham. But, as it states in one of the clauses, discretion must be the better part of valor. The world must believe you’re mad for each other. Skipping out on her before the ink is even dry on the contract is not the way to convince anyone that you mean business.”

If Veer hadn’t been mentally stripping Ms. Piranha out of her clothes, the dig at his scruples would’ve pissed him off. Nobody dared speak to him in this way—not even his big brother.

“Oh, I mean business, Tania. I mean to make you my business.” For the next thirty days, thought Veer, as he pulled a startled Tania into his arms, banding his arms around her tight little body, as much to feel her up as to stop her from slapping his face. He would deserve it if she kicked him in the nuts.

“Wha…?”

He didn’t allow her to speak or move or think. He crushed his mouth over hers, flicking his tongue over her pouty lips, like he’d wanted to do all night. He groaned. Fuck! She was as delicious as he’d imagined, tart and sweet and hot. For the past goddamn many hours she’d tormented him from across the room, not allowing him to come close. But, he had her right where he wanted her now. In his arms. She moaned, parting her lips in invitation, and he slipped his tongue into the wet slickness like a boat into a pier. He’d take her on his boat. Tomorrow. Tonight, if she’d let him.

Instead, the hellion bit his tongue. Hard. Veer jerked back, swearing a blue streak, wondering if she'd drawn blood.

“What was that?” Tania shrieked, pushing Veer Rana back with both hands. “Have you lost your mind?” 

She couldn't breathe. She felt as if she’d climbed thirty flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator down. Dear sweet heaven! What was that?

She felt…inflamed. Her heart…ached. She…yearned. She wanted to leap into Veer Rana’s arms and kiss him again. She stared at him as he stared back. His chest heaving, just like hers. His eyes…dear lord! Those wicked as sin eyes devoured her.

Tania stiffened. Had she learned nothing? Bollywood stars were as out of her league as the twinkly ones in the sky. They were her meal ticket. That’s all. That’s it. That’s how she wanted it. She would never let herself to be star struck again.

“You might have the face of an angel but you possess the morals of a pig. Even if it wasn’t for Ariana, spoilt little Bollywood boys do nothing for me,” she said, curtly.

Veer rubbed a thumb over the cleft in his chin, a sudden intensity lighting his bedroom eyes.

“Who does do it for you then?” he asked quietly, shocking her. 

He sounded…jealous. This was nuts. Even crazier, she reveled in his jealousy.

Tania’s mouth twisted with bitterness. He had no business being jealous of her or she of him. He wasn’t hers to be possessive of. She didn’t want him to be hers. So why did she feel like crying at the thought?

The elevator finally…finally swooshed open on the ground floor. She walked out and down the lobby without a backward glance. Her heart skipped a beat when Veer Rana followed her to the valet booth...like a groupie trailing yonder movie star. The eggnog had definitely gone to her head.

“Tania, would you consider spending Christmas with me? Veer asked in that raspy, growly, voice of his. It’ll be a gift I’ll treasure for the rest of my life,” he added when she started to shake her head, sounding so achingly sincere that she lost the fight.

Tania Coelho had always been a star struck little fool.


~The End~


Thanks for reading! Many more for sharing. 
If you leave a Star Struck comment, Santa might send you a Christmakwanzakah surprise!
Also...
Do visit Julia Kelly's blog today for her holiday story, where you will find the blog hop schedule for the coming 12 Days, which you'll also find on Alyssa Cole's blog.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

5 comments:

  1. Ack. I think google ate my first comment. Maybe. Apologies if there are 10000 from me. :)

    I am just now catching up on the #12DaysHop stories. This was a fabulous way to kick it off. Loved it!

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  2. Apparently Google is hungry. It ate my comment too :) And thanks Alexandra. This was a fun blog hop and I've enjoyed trolling all the stories.

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  3. @Falguni

    Damn good one. Liked the end as you leave the reader to decide what happens next. the whole elevator ride was 'eventful' :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks :) It may eventually become a book.

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  4. I have just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the best virtual strippers on my taskbar.

    ReplyDelete