Read an Excerpt from All Kinds of Wrong
Red roses. There were twelve long-stemmed, perfectly budded red roses in her drawing room. Inside her locked drawing room. The lock to which only she had the key.
Alia Dubey’s heart raced as she considered the quiet, empty space around her. This home was her haven. Until now. Her hand fumbled for the switch to the lights flooding the room with more light than necessary at this early part of the evening.
She couldn’t see anyone but that didn’t mean anything. She more than anyone else knew the truth of that. She moved as silently as possible towards her hall cupboard and looked for anything that could be used as a weapon. Her enviable shoe collection looked back at her. They were very sexy but that didn’t help her right now. Except…
Hoisting her knee-high stiletto boot over one shoulder, Alia slowly moved around her flat. She moved from room to room, switching on the lights and being met with only silence and empty spaces. She opened cupboards, looked under beds, followed every tip she’d imbibed from every horror movie she’d watched, and nothing. Whoever had left those flowers behind was gone. Leaving only this sickly fear behind.
Alia shrieked and turned, flinging the boot in her hand on instinct. It hit the head of the man standing in the middle of her drawing room with a satisfying crunch.
“Bloody hell,” he exploded, holding one hand to his forehead and glaring at her.
“I’m calling the cops,” she screeched. “Right now.”
He held his hands out in a gesture of surrender, a trickle of blood making its way from his forehead to his eye.
“I’m Avinash Rathore, your sister Aria’s friend.”
The name rang a dim bell. One of her sister’s boyfriend Karan’s colleagues and friends.
“What are you doing in my living room?” she asked him suspiciously.
“I’m in Mumbai on holiday for the next month. Aria asked me to check in on you. She said you’ve been having some issues?”
She stared at him, looking unconvinced.
“Look,” he said, completely stone-faced. “If you promise not to throw another shoe at me, I’ll show you some ID and maybe you can call your sister and check?”
Alia nodded slowly, still more than a little freaked out at this man’s sudden appearance in her home.
He handed her his driver’s license which had his name and the worst photo she’d ever seen of any human being. He looked like a chimp that had lost its way in the evolution path.
She dialed her sister, one eye still on the strange man standing in the middle of her cream-shag carpet. She eyed his dusty sports shoes doubtfully.
“Would you mind standing to the side?” she asked, politely, as the phone rang in her ear. She didn’t want to be removing his brown footprints from her gorgeous carpet.
He looked down and then back at her. A small twist of his lips and he moved off the carpet to the marbled flooring.
She heaved a sigh of relief just as Aria picked up.
“You sent someone by the name of Avinash Rathore to my house?” she asked without preamble even as the man’s eyebrows rose in response to her brusque tone.
“That someone is one of the most respected agents in the Intelligence Agency and one of my closest friends,” Aria’s dry voice came through. “Behave yourself Als. I’ll come there and throttle you if you’re rude to him.”
Good thing Alia wasn’t scared of her big sister, she thought as she watched the blood still trickling down his temple.
“Why did you send him here?”
“I told him about your stalker problem which the cops aren’t taking seriously and asked if he could help me out as a favour.” Aria’s voice had gone very quiet. “I’m worried about you okay? And there is no one I trust more than Avinash to help. Please let him.”
Alia murmured something in agreement and disconnected. The strange guy was still standing in the middle of her drawing room, hands shoved in his jeans pockets, blood trickling down his face, looking completely out of place.
“Maybe,” Alia cleared her throat. “we should start over. I’m Alia Dubey, Aria’s sister.”
“Avinash Rathore, Karan and Aria’s friend,” he smiled.
And her breath caught. That slow, small smile transformed the man’s otherwise ordinary face.
Alia ruthlessly squashed that softening in her heart.
“How did you get into my house?” she asked, her tone bordering on rude.
His smile disappeared, a lone eyebrow rose. “You left the front door open. I called out but I guess you didn’t hear me.”
No. No, she hadn’t. She’d been too busy pretending she was a ninja warrior. Alia’s gaze went back to the roses.
God, she was in trouble.
Across from her, the man watched her carefully.
About the Author:
Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler, and author.
An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency, and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present-day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.
Contact the Author:Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Newsletter