Maharaja International is the last book of The Bansal Legacy trilogy and follows the story of Ritvik Bansal, the youngest Bansal sibling. Ritvik helms the 5-star hotel by the same name at the heritage city of Udaipur.
The hotel and the setting are completely from my imagination. I got an opportunity to visit Udaipur in February 2017. I must say I had planned the visit deliberately after the way the second book in the trilogy—Rose Garden International—had panned out based on a trip to Ooty. Setting my book in a city that I have actually visited makes a difference to the way it’s portrayed in the novel is what I found. Many of my readers were keen to visit or revisit Ooty after reading Book #2 of the series. I truly hope I have been able to capture the flavour of Udaipur in Maharaja International.
I am proud to say that the book has been independently published by Flaming Sun and launched by The Book Club.
A special thanks to Rubina Ramesh, Nikita Jhanglani and Unaiza Merchant. A million thanks to all my readers and fans out there. Last, but not the least, Thank you Amazon! You have set me free!
Ritvik Bansal’s decision to father a surrogate child comes as a total shock to his family, more because he insists that he needs no wife.
Two years down the line, Sia Rathod goes to work at Ritvik’s 5-star hotel Maharaja International as the salon manager at Cleopatra’s.
They connect instantaneously as sparks fly. After spending time in each other’s company, they take their relationship to the next level.
Will Ritvik change his mind about getting married?
Even if he does, will Sia agree to become his wife as well as to be mother to two-year-old Aarya? Especially with the kind of past that she never speaks about?
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It wasn’t really a surprise when Ritvik woke up at 6.30 am with a crick in his neck. But the gentle weight in his arms made him almost forget his pain. He gently brushed back the curls that had tumbled over Aarya’s face and was glad to find that she had no fever.
Aarya opened her eyes and gave him a toothy grin. “Gu mornin’ Daddhie.” She sat up on his stomach to rub her eyes. “You are my bedh,” she gurgled with laughter.
“Good morning, my little imp. Oh yeah!” He laughed, before lifting her in his arms to carry her to the bathroom. “I love you sweetie.”
Aarya threw both her arms around his neck, giving him a wet kiss on his cheek. “I love you Daddhie.”
Ritvik left Aarya in Meera’s care before taking a shower. The pain in his neck refused to go and that was when he struck upon a plan. He couldn’t help but recall the memory of Sia’s lush breasts thrusting against her white shirt, the nipples having gone pebble hard when he touched her shoulder. He would go to Cleopatra’s and have a head massage. He pulled on a pair of Bermuda shorts and a button down half shirt, before thrusting his feet into leather sandals.
“Meera aunty, I need to go out for a while. Please give Aarya her breakfast.” He turned to his daughter and said, “Daddy needs to go somewhere sweetie. You have breakfast with aunty. I’ll be back in some time. We both will have lunch together.”
“’kay Daddhie. I’m goin’ see carthoon.”
“Right sweetie. You do that.” Ritvik ruffled her hair before kissing Aarya on the top of her head. Waving to both of them, he left to rush down three flights of stairs before walking to the back of the hotel where Cleopatra’s was. He entered to find Inder and Fern who hailed him exuberantly. “Hey good morning,” he responded to them with equal enthusiasm. “Where are the others?”
“Andy is giving a client a massage and Asha is with another client for a manicure-pedicure,” Inder answered. “What can I do for you Ritvik?”
“Were you looking for me?” Sia came out of the bathroom where she had gone to change into her work attire. Seeing Ritvik, she greeted him with a smile, “Good morning boss.” It was difficult holding on to her smile as she ran her eyes over him. The first time she met him, Ritvik had been dressed casually in jeans and a t-shirt. Yesterday, he had been in a formal suit when she had met him in his cabin. Today, in shorts and a casual shirt, he was breathtaking. It was a wonder that she was still breathing after catching an eyeful of him first thing in the morning. Sia pressed a hand against her chest, trying to calm down her pounding heart. It was with great difficulty that she focussed on what he was saying.
“Morning Sia. I need a head massage, desperately. Are you free to give me one?”
“Of course! Would you like to settle down in that cabin?” Sia pointed to the one on the far left. “I’ll be with you in two minutes.”
Ritvik settled down in the comfortable salon chair, his feet stretched out on the little pouffe. He turned his neck this way and that, unable to find a suitable position as it continued to hurt.
Sia walked in, pushing a trolley that held steaming aromatic oil, combs and towels, to see him turning restlessly on the chair. “Is something wrong?”
“I’ve sprained my neck. It hurts like a bitch,” he bit out.
“The massage will definitely help. But I’ll get you an icepack first. Can you please take off your shirt?” Sia fled even as she noticed his hands moving towards the shirt buttons through the mirror. Wondering how she was going to survive the next hour, Sia removed a frozen pack from the freezer and went back to the cabin. She dropped the pack on the trolley, her pulse going haywire when her eyes encountered his amazing chest in the mirror. Luckily for her, his eyes were shut, thick and long lashes resting against his manly cheeks. She took a minute to study his bronzed, muscular shoulders and chest that tapered into a lean waist. His chest was liberally sprinkled with curly hair, just enough to make a woman want to swoon into his arms. Feeling like a voyeur, Sia turned her head away to remove a huge, fluffy towel to spread it over his chest. She lifted his open hair and piled it into a loose knot on the top of his head. “Can you tell me where exactly it pains?”
When Ritvik pointed to the left side of his neck without opening his eyes, Sia said in warning, “I’m going to press an icepack to that point,” before placing it gently against the area and holding it there.
Ritvik gave a deep groan. “Thanks Sia. That feels good.”
Sia smiled, looking at him in the mirror. Gaining confidence as his eyes continued to remain shut, her silvery grey eyes ran over his body boldly. His broad feet were bare as they rested on the ottoman, as were his long, long legs. His khaki shorts covered him from hip to knee. Her eyes stopped at his washboard abs that the towel hadn’t manage to quite cover. She dragged her gaze away with an effort to concentrate on his neck as she lifted the icepack and turned it over before pressing the other side down to the troubled spot, satisfied to hear Ritvik’s groan of pleasure.
She removed the ice pack before pouring the fragrant oil in her left palm. Rubbing it between her hands, Sia set out to massage Ritvik’s shoulders, working towards his neck, while he continued to remain silent, his eyes shut. She could see that his breathing was even as his chest rose and fell rhythmically under the towel.
Her palms and fingers tingled as she rubbed them firmly over his shoulders, revelling in the sensation. He was all hard muscle and sinew, not one little bit of spare flesh. His skin was bronzed to an even golden brown. Sia was hard pressed to refrain from kissing the pulse beating steadily at the side of his neck. She worked dexterously with her hands despite the lusty thoughts that scampered through her mind, orchestrated by her hammering heart.
Ritvik groaned, opening his slumberous gaze to look at her through the mirror when she pressed a thumb to the damaged spot. “That’s the point. Go easy on it please.”
She gave him a nod and a weak smile, her grey eyes glowing silver as she tenderly stroked the spot upwards, keen to relieve his pain.
“Oh yes! That feel so good,” moaned Ritvik, shutting his eyes again, giving himself up to her ministrations. He almost went to sleep as Sia opened the loose knot of his long hair and oiled it. She pulled and stroked and massaged every inch of his scalp, working her way towards his neck once again, downwards this time. After forty five minutes of kneading his head and neck, Sia set up a hair steamer above Ritvik’s head and switched it on. She also brought a hot towel for his neck. After the excess oil was removed from his neck, she applied a hot water bag, holding it in place on the left side of his neck.
Though Ritvik’s eyes were closed, he was completely awake as he underwent the treatment. He had caught the tinge of colour on her cheeks and had kept his eyelids firmly shut, not to cause her further embarrassment. Sia was good with her hands while her touch on his head, neck and shoulders had aroused him. The first time he saw her, he had noticed her in passing just as any other red-blooded man would have. She was attractive and was also good at her job.
But yesterday was the first time Ritvik had really taken notice. It wasn’t everybody who could stand up to Dayanita Thakore. That woman wore her shroud of royalty like a weapon and people who came in contact rarely had the guts to speak to her, let alone cross swords. He had been impressed by the way Sia had dealt with Dayanita. Attractive, efficient and bold! Sia seemed to be a lethal combo. Ritvik wanted to know her more. It had been at least three years since Ritvik had felt a spark of attraction towards a woman. There was a time when Rohit had teased him ad nauseam of being a ladykiller and his elder brother had spoken the truth after all. That had been one phase of Ritvik’s life. Later, after being chased by women only because of his looks and money—none of them seemed to care that there was an intelligent mind lurking behind his hot looks—Ritvik had arrived at the decision that he never wanted a permanent relationship with one. That was also the time when he decided to become a single father. When his baby was growing in some stranger’s womb, Ritvik wasn’t in a mental state to have an affair. When Aarya was born, he gave her all his attention. Between his busy career as a hotelier and being a single parent to his little girl, Ritvik didn’t make time for women. Yes, he was aware that he could have made the time if he had really set his mind to it. But it was just that he hadn’t felt the need.
Right now, though, it looked like Sia had woken up the sleeping man in him. Ritvik opened his eyes and stretched after she moved the steamer and hot water bag away. “Sia...” His charcoal eyes delved deeply into her smoky grey gaze through the mirror. “That was simply amazing! My neck,” he turned his head, first to the left and then to the right before continuing, “is as good as new.” He smiled at her before getting up from his chair, the towel falling off his magnificent chest and making Sia’s eyes stretch wide. Ritvik’s smile grew wider when he saw what had caught her attention. Removing his shirt from the hanger, he shrugged his wide shoulders into it. “Thank you so much. Tell you what!” He paused as if to wonder if she was really hearing his words as her expression was still dazed.
“What?” Sia lifted her gaze from his chest—it was covered now anyway—up to his eyes as she asked the question.
“Have dinner with me.”
“I...” Her right hand went to her throat as if that would bring down the wild beating of her pulse. “Err...”
“I promise to behave.” He gave her a cheeky grin, his left eye closing in a wink.
Hot colour bloomed in Sia’s cheeks as a smile broke out on her face. “Okay boss.”
“That’s my girl. I’ll pick you up from the staff quarters at seven. Casual should be fine.”
“Can we make that eight? I’ll be finishing here only after seven.”
“Done.” He showed her a ‘thumbs-up’ before stepping into his sandals.
“I need to wash your hair.”
“That’s fine Sia. I’ll do it. I need a shower anyway. I’ll see you in the evening.” He left.
Sia sat back in the chair he had vacated with a thud. Whoosh! It felt as if she had stepped out of the centre of a tornado. The man was a livewire, emitting such energy, even with his eyes closed. She wondered how her heart was going to survive a dinner date with him.
Sia grinned suddenly. What the hell! She looked forward to the evening with Ritvik Bansal.