Authors · Books

#CriminallyGood: Scarlet Night, Chapter Four by Vish Dhamija

Aaand we’re almost there! The penultimate chapter of this mini-series. Vish Dhamija, author of Unlawful Justice, takes the story further.

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Who’s faking it, darling? Me or you? Mira thinks as she walks out.

In her nightmare, she was being hounded by men with knives, and from experience, she knows that it isn’t merely a dream. Almost always, her nightmares are precursors to something ominous. Like, all those years ago, that frightening dream she’d had of her father collapsing. Three days later, he’d suffered a massive heart attack. Was that mere coincidence? And there have been several other instances, all forewarning her of calamities.

No, there is no point denying it. She has the curse.

And Dinesh has a secret. What was that phone call he had so clandestinely taken the other day? He’d paled when he had looked at the phone screen. Had he been afraid of the caller, or of Mira’s presence there? Did Dinesh not want to take the call in front of her? Probably the latter. That scheming son-of-a-bitch.

She doesn’t feel safe any longer. She doesn’t feel safe in her own house, and that makes Mira angry. She heads into the kitchen, takes hold of a small knife. Her scarlet gown is a snug fit, but then she did wear the garters for a reason. She secures the knife.

What next? Should she call her father? What will the old man do? He had already made the mistake of passing on the business to Dinesh despite her reservations about the idea. You worry too much, Mira. Dinesh is my son-in-law, your husband! We can trust him.’ he’d said.

But her father had had no idea of the way his son-in-law was siphoning money to fund his extracurricular activities. Mira had seen tell-tale signs — lipstick marks on his shirts, strands of long hair that did not belong to her. Something had stopped her from confronting him, though.

Maybe it’s finally time to end the charade – to ask the difficult questions she’s been putting off; to know where she stands with her husband.

What about the business, though? What happens to it? Mira knows that her father is a man of the world, and perhaps, there is some clause in the business documents that could bring the reins of the business back to the family. It is worth checking this, and she makes a mental note to call her dad as soon as she can.

Behind her, Dinesh’s footsteps draw closer.

‘What are you thinking, sweetie?’ Dinesh asks as he keeps the tea tray down.

‘Just wondering where Jamuna bai is.’ Mira glances at the clock as she speaks. It’s almost 10:30, and Jamuna bai, the maid who cleans and cooks for them, is usually in much before this.

‘I told her not to come in today.’

Mira can feel her pulse rise, her heart thump against her ribcage. ‘Why did you do that?’ she tries to sound casual, nonchalant.

‘I wanted us to spend the weekend together — just the two of us. Alone.’

Mira turns around and appraises her husband. He is nearing fifty, but he is still handsome: his sideburns silver, his thick hair salt and pepper. And with the kind of money he now has, he’s surely attractive to a lot of women. The money probably helps him hire people to clean up the messes his affairs leave behind too. Would it help him commit a murder? Or cover one up?

Though the thought is morbid, it brings Mira some relief. They might be alone now, but she doubts Dinesh would get his hands dirty. If he does want her off his back, he’d certainly arrange for someone else to do it for him. Preferably when he is travelling, so that he has an airtight alibi. She isn’t in any imminent danger then. Not today, at least.

She looks at herself in the small mirror that hangs in the hall. Admittedly, she isn’t as striking as she once was, but she can still turn heads. And the scarlet gown she’s wearing shows off her slim figure to its advantage. Fortunately, the small knife nestling under her garter isn’t obvious.  And if she can’t see it, he probably can’t either.

‘Did you go out last night?’ she asks.

‘Me?’

‘Yes, Did you? After I went to sleep?’

‘Nope. I stayed in. Had some work so I was working in the study, but that’s it.’

‘Did someone come over?’

‘No.’

Liar. Mira isn’t working only by instinct. Some vague memory of people talking as she slept is nudging at her.

‘Are you having an affair, Dinesh?’ She asks bluntly.

‘What makes you even say that?’ His voice goes up a decibel as he retorts. ‘Is this another one of your crazy hallucinations?’

‘I’m not crazy.’ Mira raises her voice to match his. ‘Don’t you ever dare call me that again.’

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sweetheart, but here I am trying to have a romantic weekend with you, and you start accusing me of having an affair with someone else. What am I supposed to say?’ He comes closer and takes her in his arms. ‘Do you want to rest?’

‘No, I’m fine.’ Mira settles into his arms, her head on his shoulder. And it is then that she sees it.  Two used whisky glasses in the living room. Someone certainly came over last night after she had gone to sleep. That someone even had a drink with Dinesh. Who was it? And why was her husband lying to her? Did he have a woman over for a rendezvous while she slept? Was it a hired gun he had called to explain how to assassinate her?

And just like that, Mira’s had enough. She slips her hand down to her thigh and under her dress. In one smooth motion, she pulls out the knife and plunges it into Dinesh’s thigh.

‘Whaa…’ Dinesh’s scream reeks of pain and surprise. Blood oozes as she pulls out the knife. Thankfully, her scarlet dress just looks wet, not bloody. Dinesh stumbles and starts to fall, giving Mira the opportunity to jab the blade into his jugular vein.

But before she can, the doorbell chimes.


What next? Write the final chapter for this series and send it to harperbroadcast@harpercollins-india.com by 23:59 hrs of 30 September. For detailed list of terms & conditions, click here: https://goo.gl/w9fK3N

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