Scented – Short story by Soumya

“Please take it, Megha. I went through a lot of trouble to get this for you.” Rehan pleads.

I just ignore it and get out of bed and look around for my clothes. Last night should have been wild as I see my clothes strewn all around the room, along with his. My head ached from last night’s alcohol and I could still feel its punishing taste on my tongue. I walk to the bathroom, get into the hot tub and let the warmth take me over. I close my eyes to relax, but I’m interrupted by footsteps.

“Megha? Are you listening to me?” Rehan stood stark naked, next to the tub, holding a box in his hand.

I smile looking at him. He was gorgeous, standing tall at six feet two and a slim built. His muscles clenched as he crossed his arms. His hair was all disheveled from last night’s activity. Times with him were magical and I long for his touch again.

“Megha, say something please.” He kneels down.

“I can’t take it honey. It’s too much for a gift. You should have given me a CD of my favourite songs instead.” I splash water on my face.

“It’s a limited edition perfume, Megha. I had to pull a lot of strings to get this for you, you know?” He sulks.

“What do I tell my husband? He will kill me if he knows.” I try to explain.

“Pleaseeee. It would mean a lot to me.” He holds my wet hand and starts making a pleading face.

His cute puppy face drove me nuts. I lean forward and kiss him on his lips.

“Okay now don’t behave like an idiot. I shall take it, happy?” I notice his face light up as I take the bottle from his hand.

“Now, that’s like my girl.” He smiles.

“Michael Kors, Limited Edition. Just one of this kind. Wow! How much did you pay for this?” I ask reading the inscription on the bottle.

“You’re worth it! Now take it with you. Hide it if need be. Alright?” He says with caution.

“Hmm.. Now get in and let me give you a gift.” I wink and place the bottle on the floor.

An hour later, I was driving back home. My husband Vikram Mathre is the CEO of a prestigious bank and was busy all the time. It had been two years since we were married, and he hardly found any time for me. But he loved me, I knew. He would travel every week and always came back with cart loads of gifts for me. I had accompanied him in his travels initially, but then I got sick and bored of the nomadic life he was leading. I loved him yes, but I was missing out on a lot of things when he was away. I did not have anyone to talk to expect for the help at home. I felt lonely. I discussed this with Vikram and he asked me to join him for his travels. That was not something I wanted. He had left to China last week and was coming home today. I wanted to get home before he did.

I make it on time. I hide the perfume in my closet and get dressed again. I wear Vikram’s favourite black saree and order orchids for the drawing room vase. I ask the cook to make his favorite dishes for lunch and wait for him by the side window. In five minutes, I hear his car honk and saw him stepping out of it as the driver rushes to get his bags. My husband was a dashing man who oozed of power. He made deals in minutes and earned a salary that was more than the profits he made. I had a luxurious life and I loved it. I rush to greet him.

“Darling! I missed you.” Vikram lifts me in the air as I hug him.

“Me too. I’m so glad you are back.” I say genuinely.

“Just wait to see what I got for you this time.” He says with a huge smile.

During lunch he tells me about the deal he clenched. I don’t understand these things, but I just nod along. How I wished he talked about music and books like Rehan did. Rehan always held me to him with his conversation and made me feel nice about myself. With Rehan, I was this enthusiastic school girl. While my husband made no effort in showing me that all I was, was a rich bored housewife. The contrast was clear in my head.

“Lunch was delicious. Thanks dear. I’m going to take a nap.” Vikram gives me a peck on the cheek and leaves.

I ask the maid to clear the dishes and get back to my favorite spot. The side window. Vikram was the perfect husband in every way, but I never connected with him. I was a gracious hostess when he held meetings and parties at home, but I never really understood as to what he does. He did tell me about his conquests, but never once asked if I understood what they meant. He just spoke, without expecting a word from me. I felt a disconnect somewhere. He took me to all his fancy events and showed me off to the world, but something was missing. At times I felt that this all was a pretense, but I did not dare ask him about it. He seemed happy with me and I too was happy. In a way. It was at one of these events that I had met Rehan. He worked with GNB, the competitor of Vikram’s company. The first time we met, we had argued about the best wine at the event and had spent the rest of the evening talking about movies and John Grisham. Vikram was too busy with his meetings to notice. That’s how it had all started.

I walk into the bedroom and notice his bags strewn around. I open one bag and find half a dozen of perfume bottles for women in them. So this was the gift he was talking about. I look at him sleeping sound on the bed and get an idea. I quickly get the Kors perfume from the closet and add it to the set of perfumes in the bag. Vikram will just think that he had bought them all. That way, there will be nothing to hide from him. I sit on the bed and look at Vikram. I look closely and find a few wrinkles on his face. I smile, thinking of how hard he works. I was suddenly consumed by guilt as I thought about what I do when he was away. I bend down to kiss him, he opens his eyes.

“Missed me that much?” He asks sleepily.

I nod as I snuggle next to him. We make love gently and he soon drifts off to sleep. I lie awake thinking, what am I doing with my life. It did not seem right anymore. I had to talk to Rehan and end things.

During tea, Vikram hands me a box with an accomplished look on his face. I open the box to find a diamond necklace in it. The stones shine in contrast to the setting sun.

“I saw a lot of things, but I had to get the best for my wife.” Vikram grins.

“Thank you, it’s beautiful.” I say as he fastens its hook around my neck.

“You’re more beautiful.” He kisses me on my lip.

I blush as his phone rings. He speaks as I am busy admiring the art work on the piece of jewellery.

“Sorry honey. Emergency meeting, I need to get to office now.” He gulps down his tea and rushes to get dressed.

He leaves in a while and I decide to go meet Rehan and end things. While getting dressed, I decide to return the perfume he gave me in the morning. I wanted nothing from him anymore. I look around for Vikram’s bag but do not find it. Did he carry it with him by mistake? Damn, now I had to wait for tomorrow to return it. Vikram came back by ten pm, in a foul mood. I did not see the bag on him. I was worried. I did not want to ask him anything as he had told me that he wanted to be alone. I go check the car but I do not find the bag there either. Had Vikram found out the truth? But how could he? There were a number of perfumes in the bag and I knew that it was his assistant who shopped for him. So he wouldn’t be aware of what she had picked. Still, I panic. With fear I spend the night on the couch.

When I woke up in the morning, there was silence. I walk up to the bedroom but do not find Vikram there. I call him, but he does not answer his phone.

“Maithri..” I call out to the maid as she comes rushing.

“Where is Vikram?” I ask rudely.

“Sir left early to office, madam.” She says.

I quickly take a bath and get dressed. I grab my car keys and rush to Vikram’s office. I need to explain it to him before he does something drastic. I shall accept the truth and apologize, I decide to myself. He loves me and I knew for sure that he would not leave me. I reach the office soon and enter his cabin. His receptionist stops me.

“Hello madam. Vikram sir is in a meeting with the VP. Please wait here.” She says politely.

With a thumping heart I wait outside. A pile of magazines lie next to me, but I was not in a mood to pick one up. I see the door to his cabin open, and Vikram walks out with the VP. Vikram is shocked to see me. Naina, the VP, smiles at me.

“Megha, what a surprise!” Naina hugs me and I can smell her perfume too strongly. A strong hint of rose, with cinnamon and lavender, I guessed.

“Hello Naina. Wow, that’s a pleasant smell. Great perfume.” I say smiling.

“Thank you. It’s the limited edition by Michael Kors. Apparently they made only one of this kind.” She says proudly and leaves.