I glanced at my watch.
8.00 p.m. The guests will be here soon.
It has been a spectacular day. I woke up to a bouquet of orchids lying on my bedside. When I stepped out, Rohan was cooking breakfast. After a delicious breakfast of man and eggs, Rohan and I went on a long drive. We were back by noon, and we headed to our favorite restaurant for lunch. Rohan had booked the entire floor. A live band played soft sensual music while a celebrity chef dished out the most exotic dishes. We spent the afternoon in coital bliss. And now this party. Rohan ensured I had no time to think of my past.
On this day, three years ago, my life changed forever.
“We are tracking a contract killer. He has outwitted intelligence agencies across the world. We don’t know anything about him, no fingerprints, no photographs. However, we know for sure that he has a weakness for women in red. After every assassination, a woman in red is found dead with a photograph of his target on her,” the Director of the secret intelligence unit (SIU) briefed me.
“He is here for a deal which will be closed at a private party. As an invitee, you will go there alone, identify the man, use your charms, and get him to the backyard to enable the backup team to capture him. The background check on all the invitees is clear. We don’t have any suspects. Be careful. Trust your instincts. You know the policy; if you are hurt or caught, you are on your own. You will not reveal anything about SIU, even at the cost of your life. All the best.”
I went to the party in a figure-hugging red dress, hoping to draw the man to me. My vigilant eyes scanned the room. A few minutes later, two men headed towards the restroom. Something about them was not right; I followed them. Suddenly, without any warning, I was struck on my head with a heavy object. I fell unconscious.
I woke up in a hospital ten days later.
My head? My head feels better. Oh! The pain in my right leg is unbearable. What happened that night? Who brought me to the hospital? It can’t be the SIU.
A few minutes later, the doctor walked in. He checked my vitals.
“You are out of danger now. The bruise on your head will heal, but we had to amputate your leg. The police will meet you now.”
My right leg is gone! My life as an agent is over!
I couldn’t speak; my voice choked in my throat. Just then, the police entered the room to take my statement. A handsome man accompanied them.
“Do you recollect anything?”
“I stepped out to use the washroom. I felt something heavy on my head. I fell unconscious.”
“We found you slumped outside the washroom when we reached the hotel. You lost a lot of blood.
Do you know this man? He was the one who informed us. According to him, you are strangers, and he was only trying to help. We need to confirm it with you.”
“He is right. I don’t know him.”
“If only everyone were this helpful. Rohan donated blood for your operation, apart from getting you here just in time. You need rest,” said the doctor.
They left me alone with my thoughts.
I will get my answers from the SIU. I will wait for an opportune time to talk to them.
Rohan visited me every day after that on some pretext or the other.
Fifteen days later, I got my chance.
“Hello! Boss. What happened that night?”
“Ria! We got alerted only when the police arrived. We saw Rohan wheeling you into the ambulance. We followed him to confirm that there was no foul play. We took over the case from the local police. The CCTV camera at the hotel captured a man hitting you on your head first and later aiming for your legs. Five minutes later, Rohan walked out of the washroom; you know the rest. A background check on Rohan revealed that he is a photographer with an International wildlife magazine. He was clear.
We tracked the assailant. Before we could capture him, he consumed cyanide. We believe that he was the criminal we were after.
You know the rules. Destroy this burner phone and start your life afresh. Goodbye and good luck.”
My career with the SIU was over. I focussed on rehabilitation. With Rohan around, I never felt lonely. Nine months later, I took my first step with my prosthetic leg. Rohan proposed to me a month later. I was madly in love with him; I had no reason to say no. Two months later, on that same date, we were married in a small private ceremony.
That date remained etched in my memory for two reasons now, loss of my leg and my wedding.
I started an NGO to help disabled children. It kept me occupied when Rohan was away on his assignments.
I am happy; however, a nagging thought never leaves my mind. Why did that criminal break my leg after I fell unconscious?
“Wow! You look gorgeous. I am a lucky man,” Rohan said as we walked hand in hand to welcome our guests.
“Happy second anniversary!” they wished as we cut a cake and the celebrations began.
Sipping champagne, Rohan recollected that night three years ago.
I was here to conclude a deal. My informant alerted me of Ria. I fell in love the moment I saw her picture. She was brilliant; she got a whiff of me. She followed the men to the washroom. Killing her was easy, but she had my heart. So I destroyed her leg, thus ensuring she couldn’t get back to sleuthing. I found my way into her heart; I hope to stay there forever. I always get what I want.
“To many more anniversaries! Cheers!”