Nineteen letters, thirteen months. Declarations of love, admissions of hope, progressively opinionated statements, worrying words of misplaced ownership. John hadn’t slept all night. Laying under just a sheet and staring up into the dark at the humming fan, appreciating its velvet touch of moving air on his skin, he thought about the letters.
It was really none of his business. He should focus on the dam, helping Aditya to see the benefits of a partnership, then return to the UK and follow up the new lead. They’d already been on to him about his next assignment, but at least James had agreed to send in two of the best forensic engineers together with a sub-contract building company of six men specialising in civil engineering projects around the world. It didn’t get any better.
Riya’s words had been haunting him since the day in the hospital. She was a fellow human with a right to be happy, and evidently she was not. Who the hell could he speak to though. He got up and padded around the room before reaching for a water from the fridge. He spotted the two mini bottles of whiskey and hesitated briefly, before taking the water downing it within seconds. Flicking the light on at the desk, the papers swished under his fingers while he moved them across each other. Each one signed with only a kiss. Ex-boyfriend perhaps? Someone she had to keep hidden or the box would surely have been at home, not under lock and key at her work. He elected not to return from India without enquiring a little more; his instinct told him he would regret it if he did nothing.
Later on that afternoon as John drove the guys from the airport, listening to their banter about young Fred’s failed attempt to chat up the cabin crew, the sky gathered itself into an angry mess of blackening clouds and rumblings of distant thunder. He drove them straight to the dam site so they could see for themselves the task which lay ahead of them. Aditya’s makeshift home of lorry container in the carpark was well set up for him to shout across to his locals who continued to scurry about refusing to do any work which wasn’t in their sole remit of experience.
Ramesh did his best to console his boss and appeared relieved when John and the team arrived.
“Thank you, thank you!” he shook John’s hand in the doorway of the container, the interior of which housed a large desk with plans strewn across the surface, two chairs, lights and a bed. “Look at this shit-hole I have to call home! Hey – but at least I’m on top of them here, yes?” Aditya grinned but the smile did not reach his eyes. “You have brought me people who can sort this mess for good I hope?”
“They have never failed to complete a job Adi. They need to see inside as soon as possible but they need a meal and a shower now. I will take them on to their hotel and we will meet you tomorrow back here. By the way, how is Riya?” the casual addition John felt was appropriate.
“She’s home and recovering well thank you but refusing to come back to work. I don’t know what’s wrong with her. She begged father for an education so she could have a career and now she wants to stop work, but I need her here.” Aditya crutched his way out and across the carpark towards the line of men, just as heavy rain drops began falling and hitting the dust. A silver mercedes pulled up next to Aditya who beckoned John, calling out “Mother wants to collect something from the office for Riya. It is too dangerous for her to enter; John you go inside for her while I meet your men.”
“Hello again; how is she?” John jogged to the driver’s door and bent a little, offering his hand to the immaculately presented woman.
“Hello again, I remember you from the hospital. She is distressed beyond anything I have seen. She sent me to collect a box from her office. Can you get it for me? In the filing cabinet apparently. Goodness knows why she needs it!”
“Sure. Stay here; it’s so dusty inside. I’ll be five minutes.”
He made his way calmly over to the building, thinking on his feet. Adi can’t know anything about the box then. Shit, what was he to do; the letters were back at the hotel. He walked through to the office, avoiding the obstacles and came face to face with Ramesh holding the open box. His jaw set firm and and a muscle in the side of his face began to twitch. “All ok Ramesh?” John moved towards him slowly “Riya’s mother is here for that box. She is waiting outside.”
(Read part 1-6 to see the story make sense …)
Part 1 here