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Married in Name
Married in Name
India Daram
Yes - full manuscript is available

THE HERO – Handsome Billionaire businessman Rohan does not have time for relationships. Variety being the spice of life, a ‘wife’ is not in his vocabulary. Till he meets... THE HEROINE – Independent, feisty and smart-mouthed Riyha wants a life free of parental interference. As marriage is jumping from the frying pan into the fire, husband is a hush word. Till she falls in love with her husband but then they are only... MARRIED IN NAME – While Rohan plots to get his wife to move in with him, Riyha comes up with the RULES of SEDUCTION to persuade Rohan to turn their marriage into a Marriage for Real.

Married in Name

India DaramMarried in Name
Copyright 2013 India Daram 2014
First edition February 2014
Second edition September 2014
India Daram has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between these fictional characters and actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilisation of this work in whole or in part in any form is strictly forbidden.
Coming from a conservative Tamil speaking south Indian family, my parents were unwilling to send me out of India for post-graduation in Law. Being a dreamer, I sat down to think of ways of getting around the situation and I came up with a solution - a marriage in name. So that I could carry on with my education and qualify further in England. I am sure I looked like a soppy fool as I recalled some of the incidents that had happened in my life while rapidly typing my thoughts on my trusty laptop. I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it and have as many LOL moments.
New Delhi 2008
15th January
Dear Diary,
I am fed up with Mom’s broad hints and references about the 'nice boy’ who would be 'perfect husband’ material for me and agreed to meet Rahul Mehta a.k.a. Mom’s best friend’s son. I met him today at 'La Salle a Manger’ for coffee. Boy am I glad it was just coffee and not dinner! He talked incessantly about the accomplished and beautiful girls his parents had paraded before him to 'meet’ and badmouthed some of them too! Crass! I do not want to figure in his Hall of Fame nor bear his name, so it was Adieu Mr. Mehta. P.S. Mom’s a bit upset. Dad’s sure she’ll get over it once she spots the next candidate! LOL
10th March
Dear Diary,
It is Dad’s turn now! Dad told me he had invited his friend’s family for dinner tonight. Incidentally it was a friend-who-was-looking-for-a-bride-for-his-oh-so-eligible-son! The 'boy’ turned out to be a tailor’s dummy. I am sure he could not turn his head as his stiff collar stood up like concrete. And he reeked of perfume. IMHO it is either meant to cover his BO or he has had a gigolo shower. I couldn’t even hear his name for the loud cackling noise his mother was making. I caught mom giving dad one of her quelling looks; to say they were not entirely bowled over by the potential parents-of-the-groom is an understatement. Dissed!
8th April
Dear Diary,
I have finished my last exam today. My diary writing has been patchy. Mom and Dad are a bit anxious to find 'a suitable boy.’ The way they carry on, a person could be pardoned for thinking that this is my last chance at getting married! At 21, I think I am too young to get married. But do they listen! Mom got married when she was eighteen. I have faced a diatribe on the duties of a parent, duties of a daughter and societal norms. Feels like a time warp!
10th April
Dear Diary,
I am seriously worried about my freedom now as mom and dad, TOGETHER, cannot stop singing praises of the parents AND the boy I am meeting tomorrow.

LondonEighteen Months later...
'TIME TO CELEBRATE,’ whispered Riyha hard pressed to suppress her excitement as she walked back to her desk. Quelling the desire to throw her hands up in the air and dance a jig. Although, it would be quite impossible with the figure hugging black skirt and stiletto heels, unless she had a wish to fall on her face or risk a broken ankle. Catching sight of Clare at a distance, she grinned and showed a thumbs-up sign. Picking up a coffee mug, Riyha gestured towards the pantry.
'You got the job?’ enquired Clare in a whisper, filling up her mug with coffee from the machine, conscious of the couple of colleagues that were using the pantry. Clare Platt had been her best friend and confidante since she moved to the UK nearly 18 months back. Having been through Business School together, sharing a house and training at Pinsent Morgans, the leading investment bankers, there were few things that they kept from each other. Clare had been offered a job couple of days back and Riyha had not heard anything till late afternoon today.
'Let us go to Don Carlos’ she suggested her smile turning into a grin. 'Reception at 7 pm, we can take a taxi-’
'Getting a taxi on a Friday night?’ Riyha interrupted, 'The chances of getting one is like a snowflake in the Sahara!’ she said shaking her head, 'or a straight man that can samba?’ she added with a smile.
'A virgin in Bangkok?’ added a male voice. The girls turned in unison, each casting a quelling glace at the uninvited presence of Mark Dodger, or 'dodgy marker’ as the girls had named him for his ability to dodge their broad hints and invitations for date and the speed at which he ducked from relationships.
'Go away, Mark, this is girls’ talk. We are discussing appointments at the fertility clinic to freeze our eggs,’ she said with a straight face. This was enough to send Mark packing with lightning speed.
Mark suffered from a disease - 'commitment-phobia.’ And invariably took to his heels, if any of his girlfriends turned serious and started talking about 'the future, babies or a dog’ or God forbid 'a spare key to his flat.’
Shoulders shaking with mirth, the girls doubled up laughing silently at Mark’s retreating figure.
Muffling her ears with a pillow did not stop the ringing sound as Riyha let out a string of expletives cursing the man or woman at the door. Having got to bed quite late yesterday...or rather very early depending on whether one saw it as late night or early morning, add to that liberal rounds of alcohol, she still wasn’t ready for the world of the living. Go away! She silently entreated the person at the door. But the ringing didn’t stop.
Prising open an eye, she tried to focus on the bedside clock - 8’0 clock. Too early for a Saturday morning! Stumbling out of bed, she stood in the centre of the room searching for her dressing gown, not finding it, gave up and hurried out of her room and down the stairs, in her father’s old shirt that skimmed her knees.
'Comiiiing’ she shouted at the top of her voice, hoping that would stop the caller from leaning on the doorbell. Implementing all the safety lessons, dinned into her brain, she religiously latched the safety chain and opened the door.
'Yes?’ she rather intended to say in her most abrupt 'go away’ tone but looking at the chiselled piece of perfection standing outside, it came out all rushed and breathless. He smiled revealing perfect pearly capped teeth, rather like a Hollywood actor, 'Sorry to disturb you this early,’ he said with an apologetic smile. She was sure he wasn’t feeling a millimetre of 'sorriness’! Enough of the drooling she thought, putting on her 'you are a bit of a nuisance’ look, her eyebrows rising in question.
'My name is Nick Summers, I am your next door neighbour,’ he said gesturing his left hand to the house next door.
'So?’ she queried raising an eyebrow in disbelief. Surely the man hadn’t awakened her at this ungodly hour in the morning to give her this piece of information!
'My mobile phone is in your back garden,’ he stated in a matter-of-fact tone as though that was the most sensible place in the world for his mobile to be.
'And how did it get there?’ she queried, trying to fight the nausea. If this was a pick-up line or distraction burglary, she’d never heard this one before. For all she cared, he could be Brad Pitt and she’d still want him gone in her current state.
'Well....’ he paused, 'Do you think I could come in?’ he asked.
She looked at him owlishly.
'I do not have anything dangerous with me,’ he assured her turning out his pockets.
He didn’t look dangerous. Serial killers don’t hold placards announcing 'serial killer’! And as a woman on her own, she couldn’t be careful enough. But it didn’t look like he would leave without whatever was in her garden. Never mind, she decided to let him in, as that seemed the easiest way to get rid of him. Although he would be in the house, so she really wouldn’t be rid of him. She couldn’t think straight.
'Alright, come in,’ she invited ungraciously, unhooked the latch and opened the door. Well, technically speaking, she was not on her own; Clare was fast asleep upstairs - although it would take a bomb to wake her up!
The excitement of an extremely late night, all that colourful alcohol with fancy names was a bit too much for her poor little head. With her head pounding as though someone had taken a hammer to it, she still remained sensible enough to lock the front door and thrust the key on to the breast pocket of her t-shirt. That would cut off any accomplice waiting outside, she thought triumphantly.
Staggering into the kitchen, she stopped suddenly to check if he was following her. Grinding to a halt a few paces behind her, he looked at her warily. Why was that? Centrefold material though he was, she was not planning to pounce on him! She then led him past the spotless-literally-never-used-kitchen, unlocked the double doors leading to the patio and stepped aside to let him into the garden.
The house had a decent sized garden, quite large by London standards, well maintained with curving lawn and several shrubs and trees dotted around the circumference of the garden.
'Do you know where your mobile is?’ she questioned as he stepped out through the patio doors.
'Well not exactly,’ he admitted reluctantly, 'I do have a general idea from the angle at which it was thrown-’
'Did you throw your mobile into my garden?’ she interrupted.
'No, not me-’
'Ah, children can be unpredictable’ sounding like the all-knowing columnist writing 'Managing Tantrums.’
Clearing her head meant ingesting some caffeine and she threw some beans without measuring into the coffee machine.
The coffee machine’s noise worsened her pounding head and she tottered to the dining chair and collapsed on it.
She should be keeping an eye on-the-man-next-door. Well he was definitely something for eyes to behold! She grinned at the pun. No harm in closing her eyes, when the man was in the garden. And conked out.Nick entered the kitchen noiselessly. She was fast asleep! Face resting on her forearm and the other hand pressing down on her head. Did she have no sense of self-preservation? To let a complete stranger into the house and then fall asleep! She must have had one helluva night; pub hopping and partying was not just for the blokes, he laughed silently.
He rifled through the kitchen and the refrigerator and put together the ingredients of the 'hangover bender’- tomato juice, orange juice, tabasco sauce, freshly ground pepper and water, gave it a swill, poured it into a large beer glass and waved it under her nose. She was dead to the world.
Someone was shaking her shoulders. She opened her eyes, just two slits in her face, trying to face the light and figure out who the person standing in front of her was. It was a man. He did look familiar. And then memory came crashing back. She sat up immediately, rather as quickly as she could, considering her state.
She cleared her throat and tried again 'Did you manage to find it?’
'Drink this,’ he extended a glass of coloured liquid.
'Smells Viiile,’ she screwed up her face in revulsion.
'You’ll be as good as new within an hour,’ he promised.
Forcing her eyes open, she gazed vacantly at 'the man,’ she couldn’t recall his name. He hadn’t made away with the furniture when she had dozed off. No harm in trying it, she thought, looking at the beer mug full of colourful liquid. She couldn’t get any more worse. Holding the glass with both her hands, she drank it all in a single go, put the glass to one side and collapsed back on the table.
There is no match to the sweet aroma of freshly brewing coffee and toast. Opening her eyes, it took a few seconds to sink that the smell was for real. Sitting up gingerly, she turned around slowly, careful not to move too quickly. The kitchen had a comfortable settee in a corner, near the window, made up with red and white bold print, to match the colour scheme in the modern kitchen fitted with all the equipment a good cook would ever want.
And he was sat there in the corner, his legs stretched out in front of him on the ottoman, reading a newspaper.
'Why are you still here?’ she questioned rudely.
'You are welcome,’ he said pointedly.
'I hope you are feeling better now,’ he enquired.
'Yes, I am, thank you,,’ she said shamefacedly.
' did your mobile phone get into my garden?’ she enquired.
'My friend threw it,’ he answered briefly.
Her eyebrows rose in amazement, not ready to leave the matter.
'Well, I told my friend that I am not in the market for a fling and my friend wasn’t pleased,’ he clarified, surprised with himself. He never discussed his personal life with any of his friends and here he was now discussing last night’s fiasco with a total stranger. Well, not exactly a total stranger. She was after all his neighbour and neighbours don’t count as strangers.
'Was that before or after you got her into bed?’
'Whoa, whoa who said anything about a bed? The 'lady’ had dropped in for a cup of coffee..’'Ah,’ she gave him a meaningful look.
'What does that 'ah’ mean?’
'Well - you did invite her for coffee. I believe that is the euphemism for lets hit the sack...’
'She invited herself in for a coffee and when I agreed, I had no such intention.’
'Are you running away from relationships?’ she probed.
'Tell me, do women have one-track minds? And do you go around asking near strangers personal questions?’ he threw back.
'Do not answer one question with another!’ she protested, 'it is rude. It shows a lack of understanding of the subject, a desire to evade response to a specific question, perhaps a reluctance to face the truth hidden in the answer,’ she finished with smug self-satisfaction.
'I hope you don’t charge for this psychobabble?’ he uttered a sarcastic rejoinder.
'In the spirit of neighbourliness, it is free. And sarcasm is the lowest form of wit!’
Silence ensued.
And both burst out laughing at the same time.
'Do you want some more coffee?’ she asked.
'And don’t even go there,’ she warned, stopping him from making any smart ass comments, 'I meant this literally.’
'Can you let me out now please? I skipped dinner last night and I am starving,’ he said, raising both hands slightly as though trying to ward off her comments, 'and coming back to your question some more coffee would be great but a more substantial breakfast would be better.’
For fixing her with a hangover medicine, the least thing she could do was get him some breakfast.
'Let us go to the cafeĀ“ round the corner,’ she suggested collecting her quick access purse, with small change and a credit card, that she kept in the kitchen for quick jaunts to the corner shop or the local cafe.Ā“
'Like this?’ he asked with a laugh, looking pointedly at her bare legs.
Riyha became conscious that she was sat there with a total stranger wearing just a well washed t-shirt for cover and blushed an angry tomato red.
'Give me 5 minutes and I’ll get changed,’ she said giving him a withering look.
'The correct word is get 'dressed,’ he said unaffected by her quelling look.
Quickly brushing her teeth, she changed into a pair of jeans, a bottle green camisole with a checked shirt tied at her waist and quickly exited her room. Pausing in front of Clare’s bedroom, she heard a gentle snore and noiselessly ran down the stairs.
It was late spring and quite warm. She loved England in spring - plants sprouting everywhere, magnolias flowering on leafless trees, daffodils bobbing their heads. The amount of greenery in the middle of London never failed to amaze her.
Walking along with Nick in companionable silence, she enjoyed the slow buzz of Saturday mornings. She loved visiting CafeĀ“ de Paris, a couple of streets from where they lived.
Pierre, who ran the cafeĀ“ rushed over to greet her. Pierre was one half-French and other half-British but exaggerated his French-ness and got maximum mileage from it.
'Bonjour mademoiselle! Today such a good day. J’desole’ I 'ave not see you for a long time,’ he said in a deep accent, as he lifted her hand to his lips to place a kiss. Everything about Pierre oozed Latin charm and grace. And he was seriously handsome! And also an inveterate flirt and tended to flirt with anything in a skirt.
'You 'ave brought a friend’ he continued, 'welcome to Pierre’s little cafeĀ“, he said with a welcoming smile, seated them, took their orders and left them.
'Tell me about yourself,,’ Riyha asked breaking the silence and looking at him with an enthusiastic smile.
'I am a journalist,’ he answered without elaborating further.
'Do you not like your job?’ she asked. 'Why do you say that?’ he queried.
'Is it a habit of yours to answer a question with another question? Most people I know would know would elaborate further unless they were totally dissatisfied with their job.’
'I was a war correspondent. But now I run a few restaurants and also write a food column,’ he said, the tone of his voice and the cold glare discouraging further questions.
'Are you having difficulty with your eyes?’ she questioned, an epitome of innocence.
He looked at her blankly.
'I am sure you will enlighten me on the reason for this question,’ he replied with a smile.
'Well you were looking intensely at my face just now, so I thought perhaps you have difficulty with your vision,’ she explained in her most 'that is logical’ voice.
'For someone who was conked out an hour back you have recovered very quickly,’ he observed with a grin.
'I bounce back very quickly,’ came the wry rejoinder.
'I’ve never seen you before. How long have you been living next door?’
'I’m house-sitting for my parents, who are visiting my sister in Australia. Just moved in last week,’ he explained briefly.
'And I’m not in the market for a girlfriend,’ he informed with a warning glance.
'That is good, I am not looking for a boyfriend or meaningful relationships.’
'Are you doing anything today evening?’ Nick broke the silence a few minutes later.
'What?’ Riyha couldn’t believe her ears, 'did you not hear me just now? I am not looking for a boyfriend; I am not looking to date anyone. This invitation for breakfast was just a spontaneous gesture for fixing me a hangover medicine. Do not read anything more into it,’ she said firmly, sitting up erect, wondering if the invitation for coffee and croissant was a bad idea.
'My line of work means that I eat out at restaurants quite a lot. And a man on his own stands out like a sore thumb. I need to try a new restaurant in Covent Garden, hence the need for female companionship,’ he explained, 'And as someone not looking for a boyfriend, living close at hand, you seemed the ideal choice,’ he added, finishing up his croissant.
'What does my being next door have anything to do with being your dinner companion?’
'Well, I don’t have to drive anywhere to pick you up and you won’t invite yourself in for 'coffee’ as you have a perfectly well functioning kitchen next door,,’ he answered tongue in cheek.
'You are both persuasive and charming,’ she said with a mocking smile, 'but your idea is not too bad. I am willing to give it a try. Especially as it includes eating a meal that I haven’t cooked,’ she accepted his invitation with a droll smile.
Nick looked at Riyha across the table. Her eyes were sparkling, her long black hair shining and slithering down her shoulders as she battled him with words. She reminded him of the one person he was desperate to forget and he sighed deeply.
'Tell me about yourself,’ he said.
'I have just finished my training and started working as an investment banker at Pinsent Morgans. My friend Clare and I are house-sitting for an old lady who is on a world cruise,’ she said, 'for the past 18 months’ she added with a smile.
'That is one long world cruise. But I am not complaining as I am house sitting for my parents who are visiting my sister Down Under for a year. ’
Nick walked her home and arranged to meet at her front door at 7’0 clock.
HEARING Clare stir in her bedroom and Riyha went into the kitchen to fix her some cappuccino. From the time she’d started her Masters at the top ranking business school in London, she’d become inseparable from Clare. Wanting to stay close but away from the school campus, they had both looked around to rent a flat together. They had found this big townhouse in Hampstead Heath by dint of sheer good luck. In a hurry to fulfil the sudden fancy to see the world, the owner of the house had been happy for the real estate agent to quickly find a house sitter who’d take care of the house and plants at a nominal rent. Having found only dingy bedsits, airless attics and lightless basements, so far, the girls had been quick at snapping up the offer to stay and promised to take good care of the house. What had started off as a year’s tour of the world had been extended and it looked like the lady was settled for the near future in Zanzibar.
Riyha trooped up the stairs carrying a mug of steaming cappuccino to Clare’s bedroom that was at the back of the house. The ground floor had a large sitting room with a real fireplace, a good sized study with a large pool table, a cinema room that doubled up as a den, a large kitchen diner that lead to the back garden. Riyha used the larger than average bedroom on the 1st floor towards the front of the house and Clare used the 2nd bedroom at the rear. The spare bedroom was used by Clare’s brother, James Platt, who was a reporter turned writer living in Paris but visited Clare often, 'to keep an eye on his little sister..’Knock, Knock! No response. Knowing Clare, she’d have got up just long enough to turn off the alarm and gone back to sleep. With freedom born of familiarity, she pushed open the door, deposited the tray on the bedside table and threw open the curtains, letting the late spring sunshine into the bedroom.
'ahwmmm,’ Clare emitted an incomprehensible grunt.
'Coffee,,’ she uttered the magic word.
That got her a response of 'hmmmm..’
'You shouldn’t have’ Clare murmured, 'but thanks anyway..’ She seemed none the worse for wear despite the alcohol and the late night. As Riyha quickly recounted the events of the morning, Clare was lost between berating her for her foolhardiness in opening the door to a complete stranger and interrogating her on Nick. The invitation to the inauguration of the latest 'in’ restaurant that was being all written and spoken about impressed her and redeemed Nick as a safe person in Clare’s eyes.
'After all the efforts to set you up with someone these past months, you 'pulled’ the guy next door!,’ she exclaimed, raising her eyebrows and nodding her head from side to side, sounding disappointed. Clare had been trying to set her up with more than half a dozen men! Not at the same time, heaven forbid! But in succession.
Clare could not accept that she had no interest in the male population and envisaged no role for them in her life in the near future. There had been a point in time when she’d even gently prodded Riyha to gauge if she was into same sex relationships. Having successfully disabused Clare of the notion had got her into more trouble. For the past few months, Clare had been trying to set her up with her brother.
Ignorant of her machinations, Riyha had accepted Clare’s invitation to visit their family holiday home in Cornwall only to find out on arrival that James too was 'incidentally’ visiting at the same time. Her suspicions were confirmed when Clare strategically disappeared nearly all weekend to catch up with some friends and it was just Riyha and James at meal times. Despite her protests, James had driven her around to the local attractions and kept her entertained during Clare’s absence.
Ever since their return to London, Clare had thrown broad hints of what a great guy her brother was and even suggested a trip to Paris - sightseeing guide and companion being her brother!
And an idea set seed in her mind.
Taking the coward’s way out, Riyha refrained from disabusing Clare of the notion that it was a proper 'dinner date’ with Nick. There was no way she could fall for Nick! A pair of piercing grey eyes and arched black eyebrows sprang before her mind’s eye and she froze, shoulders tensing in stress, her chest constricted in memory. Riyha exhaled slowly and practised the breathing exercises she’d learnt during yoga classes and willed herself to erase the mental image of those eyes. Fortunately, Clare did not notice anything amiss and continued discussing the potential dresses she could wear for the evening.
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