What Dreams Are Made Of: Episode 31
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Nikloi Swaroski kept to his word and Mrs Smith’s surgery went ahead as planned.
Later Dr. Labuda confirmed to her that surgery was successful and her mother would be home after recuperating in the hospital for a few days.
Steven came to the hospital to meet Chrissy and her mother. If Chrissy was surprised by his visit, she didn’t show it because she was obviously too happy to see him.
In fact Steven made it a point to visit the Smith ladies every day at the hospital till Mrs Smith was discharged from the hospital.
Chrissy felt indebted to him for all his support but Steven brushed aside her overwhelming gratitude laughingly saying that he always felt very close to her and that he was happy to be a*ssistance to her family.
Chrissy was almost tempted to ask about his boss’s whereabouts every time Steven came to the hospital but her self-respect stopped her from asking. That she was hopeful to see him at the hospital was not entirely unrealistic expectation as Steven did visit them every day but it never actually turned into a reality. Neither did Steven mention anything about him.
Once her mother asked her about Nikloi in Steven’s presence.
For a few seconds she didn’t know what to tell her mother. She didn’t want to upset her by telling that the Nikloi her mother had met at Bath was not for real. But Steven saved the day by giving some excuse that he was travelling overseas. She didn’t know if
it was the truth or not but she decided not to ask Steven.
She was forced to accept that for Nikloi, she was a thing of the past. No longer worthy of his time or even his thoughts. So when she returned to the hotel after her mother had fully recovered, she was very surprised to get a message that Nikloi Swaroski wanted to meet her.
She had thought that he was done with her and her business. So this message obviously created lot of doubts in her mind. Why he would want to me, she wondered. There was only one way to find out. She had just decided to leave for Swaroski House, when he surprised her again by entering her shop.
This was completely unexpected. It had been months since he had last set his foot in her shop and that was even long before their disastrous Stonehenge outing. She was caught completely unaware of this sudden visit and try as she might not to worry about her vanity but she couldn’t help but think about her casual dressing.
She had come straight after her mother’s last check-up visit to the hospital and so hadn’t had the time to dress up formally like she usually did for the hotel. She didn’t have any meeting planned for the day nor was expecting any of her clients was another reason why she hadn’t bothered much. But none of that would be appreciated by Nikloi and she was afraid of his inevitable rebuke.
That she was looking quite attractive in her denim jeans and denim jacket with a white shirt was a different matter. Nikloi hadn’t really seen her dressed casually as she had always been quite conscious of her dressing after his initial comment on her clothes. Seeing her like that, therefore, he was a bit taken aback. Her hair were left loose, creating a halo around her innocent face. She had immediately become conscious of his eyes and was almost embarra*ssed for her carelessness, but thankfully, he did not comment on her attire.
Instead he had gone on to discuss something which had not been anywhere close to her imagination. Standing close to the showroom, he had told her the reason why he was there.
“You are aware that we are opening Royal Le Swaroski, my hotel at Regiment Estate in few months. As part of the launch plans, I have decided I want to set up an antiques shop there. This shop would be, of course, far more grandeur and elaborate than this one at Regency Palace. In fact, I want it to be a museum with a shop”, he explained his grand plans.
Chrissy was almost speechless. He turned back to look at her and raised an eyebrow when she still looked lost.
“A a.. m..musuem?”, she finally uttered.
“Yes, and a splendid one. I want this place to be as famous as coveted as the hotel itself. This would be a gem set at the heart of the hotel which people all around the world will come to look at and ache to own a bit of it”. Though his face was as blank as ever, Chrissy could hear it in his voice that he was really serious about it.
She on the other hand, could not even imagine seeing such a place, forget managing it as her own. “I don’t understand”, she said slowly.
“There is hardly anything not to understand”, he said, as if admonishing her. Moving closer to her, he said, “Surely, you have seen yourself, how well this shop is doing at Regency Palace. People have been really appreciative of this concept of an antique shop among other luxury items in my hotels. It is making perfect business sense”.
Oh yes, business! That’s what it matters to him most, she thought.
“Yes, but you are talking about a bigger shop now, a museum!” Chrissy exclaimed.
“We need to keep enhancing our levels beyond our customers’ expectations”, he answered seriously.
She was exasperated with his business talk. The man was a walking money-printing-machine. All he could think of was how to make more money.
“But what makes you think that I have that kind of collection, a collection worthy of a museum?” She asked the businessman.
“I don’t think, Ms. Smith, I know. You don’t. That’s why I am discussing this business proposal with you. You need to make a plan to find and acquire the artefacts worthy of a world cla*ss museum and set this shop at Royal Le Swaroski”, he told her.
This was too much for her. She didn’t think she was capable of managing such a large scale project. More importantly, she didn’t think she would be able to manage working so closely with him again. Didn’t she decide that she needed to be as far away from him as much as possible? She didn’t fit into his world and there was nothing she could do to make the contrast between their worlds fainter. She knew how important this hotel was for him and working at the new hotel would only put her in close quarters with him.
“I have never done anything like this. I don’t even know if I can do it”, she expressed worriedly.
“I don’t want to do it. I am sorry, I can’t”, she said, turning away from him. She couldn’t face him.
“You had never worked in Regency Palace before, not dealt with customers of high society, but you did very well here. I have seen your work. You are the right person for the job. I don’t put my money where I am not sure of success”, he said moving close behind her.
There he goes again. Always making it about the money. She was fed of his money obsession. She didn’t want to be any part of it. “No, I can’t”, she said. “Why don’t you get someone else? You can find people who are far more eligible and experienced than me. And you can definitely afford them”, she continued almost haltingly.
“I know what my hotel needs and I have decided it’s you. So, you better start working on it.” He was standing so close that Chrissy could feel his breath at the back of her neck. She was trapped between him and the wall, with nowhere to go. She decided there was only one way to make him see her decision and she had to do it quickly before she lost her nerve.
Drawing a deep breath, she turned to face him. Raising her head high, she looked into his eyes and said, “I don’t want to be part of this hotel. You can’t force me.”
There, the words were out. But the moment she said it she saw the colour change in his eyes. All her strength seem to be deserting her when she realized that he was even closer than what she imagined before turning to face his wrath. He was absolutely still but they were so close that even a slight movement would result in a touch.
It was difficult to hold his stare. She became too conscious to keep facing him. Not sure if she could lower her head without touching him, she just lowered her eyes. With her back pressed to the wall and her breath almost stopped, she waited for the explosion.
But it never happened.
Lowering his head next to her right ear, he sai
d slowly, “You have a talent of saying No”. Chrissy breath got caught up in her chest and her body involuntarily shivered. Was he referring her to her NO at Stonehenge?
But before she could decipher his intent or respond, he moved away from her. Her breathing returned but she could still feel the heat in her cheeks. She couldn’t know but her face was glowing red with the thought of memories his words had evoked.
“You also seem to be quite forgetful. Don’t you remember this hotel is at the same place where you had your original shop? Isn’t that the reason why you ever met me? I am offering you a golden opportunity to set up a grand shop at the place where you started from and you seem to be rejecting the offer without even properly considering it!”
“Not to forget that you also have a loan from Swaroski House which you took for your mother’s surgery. This is your chance to support the group which stood by you in your time of need but you are not at interested”
Oh nooo. She never thought about it.
This was too much to take in. She was lost for words. She stood there staring blankly ahead.
He looked at her face intently. Her face which was glowing red few moments back was had become completely colourless now. He looked at her again and then quickly turned away.
“You need not answer immediately. Think about it tonight and let me know your decision tomorrow. I will wait for your response.”
Having said that he moved towards the exit. Just before, stepping out, he said, “You will know what the right thing to do is”. With that he was gone. And so was the choice of sticking to her earlier announced decision.
Like it or not, she didn’t need time till tomorrow to decide the right thing to do. She knew she what she would be telling him the next day. What she didn’t know was how she would actually implement her decision.
That night all she thought about was how she was going to work at Royal Le Swaroski along with Nikloi Swaroski. The place would be a constant reminder of what she could never be and what she could never have. Even the name of the place was enough to give her goose bumps.
But she had to be stronger than that. She would not let her mother down. She would not let herself down. She would survive.
With that resolution, she knew what she had to tell Nikloi Swaroski the next day.