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THE MARRIAGE PREDICAMENT
The Thakore Royals Book #1
BY SUNDARI VENKATRAMAN
Princess Yashodhara Jadeja of Bhatewar isn’t at all keen to get married. With her tarnished past, she knows that her married life would never be easy. But, between her father’s Will and her mother’s persuasion, she’s left with no choice.
Prince Indrajeet Thakore of Udaipur agrees to meet Yashodhara as a prospective wife after his grandmother, Rajmata Santhini Devi, persuades him. While no cymbals crash at their first meeting, the couple grow to like and respect one another before they agree to tie the knot.
Both belong to royal families and both have responsibilities. Over and above all that, their marriage is plagued by a predicament, just as Yashodhara had expected. It looks like they can lead a happy married life only if the princess is willing to break a promise. Will she be able to do that? And will Prince Indrajeet continue to love her once he gets to know about her past?
Rani Hyma Devi went right up to the main door of her palace to receive her exalted guests even as a footman opened the passenger door to the limousine and helped Rajmata Santhini Devi out with a gloved hand.
With a dignified smile on her face, Hyma Devi brought both her hands together in a namaste as she greeted Santhini Devi. “Welcome to our humble abode, Rajmata. We are truly honoured by your visit.”
Santhini Devi nodded her white head royally to the younger woman before turning to look at her grandson as he stepped out of the driver’s seat. “Come, Indrajeet. Give me your hand,” she commanded regally. No one could make out from her expression that she was thoroughly pissed off by her grandson’s clothes. Despite her telling him to change, he was still wearing a pair of designer jeans—that was no consolation to his grandmother—and a white linen half-shirt. Is that how a prince dressed up to meet his bride-to-be and her family? They were also royalty for that matter. His clothes were too casual for the Rajmata’s liking. But then, Indrajeet could be too stubborn at times.
Hyma Devi stared at the young man who walked towards her to stand next to his grandmother. So, this was Indrajeet Thakore. She had never seen such a handsome man ever before in her life. She decided to ignore his informal attire though it did bother her. His pictures hadn’t done him justice. His appearance was definitely princely, what with his height that was obviously well over six feet and his wide shoulders and long arms well-muscled.
“Sure, Grandma,” said Indrajeet as he took the Rajmata’s hand before turning around to smile at Hyma Devi.
“This is my eldest grandson, Kunwar Indrajeet Thakore. And Indrajeet, meet Rani Hyma Devi of Bhatewar.”
“Hello, ma’am. How do you do?” Indrajeet shook Hyma Devi’s hand firmly.
Hyma Devi gave him a happy nod. “I am fine, thank you. Welcome to our home.” She stepped aside and walked along with the grandmother-grandson duo as they entered the wide-open entrance. Walking into the grand hall, she invited them to sit, before calling to a servant to serve some chilled jal-jeera, an appetiser typical to North India.
“It’s exceptionally hot today, isn’t it?” said Hyma Devi, sitting down on a sofa that was set opposite where the Rajmata had settled down with her grandson. Her position also gave Hyma Devi a view of the marble staircase as she waited for her daughter to step down from the first floor.
The two women spoke about the many activities at the club that they both belonged to as Indrajeet looked around silently, his eyes taking in the opulent surroundings. The Jadeja palace was slightly smaller in proportion to the Thakore palace, while it was also done up beautifully with velvet curtains, silk cushions and many artefacts. These were mostly antiques, placed around the main hall in a casual arrangement. Not keen to participate in the conversation, Indrajeet got up to walk to an elephant sculpture that was placed under the stairs as it seemed to call out to him. Made of black granite, it was beautifully carved, with the trunk raised in a salute. It was obviously old and must have probably been in the family for centuries, he thought.
Hearing the gentle sound of anklets, Indrajeet lifted his head to look up at the curving staircase and saw a gorgeous young woman walking down them, her steps slow and hesitant. She stopped suddenly, obviously sensing his gaze and looked down at him, her eyes going wide. Even from way down, he could see that she had gone pale as she looked into his eyes, panic in her hazel green ones.
His pulse-rate going up in reaction to her beauty, Indrajeet gave her a smile, realising that she must be Yashodhara. “Hello, princess,” he said, his voice soft. He walked to the end of the stairs to wait for her as she still hesitated way above.
Yashodhara felt waves of shock sweeping up her body, making her breathless and faint, as she was unable to take her eyes off the man who had been admiring the granite elephant under the stairs, staring at him in morbid fascination. She immediately recognised him to be Indrajeet Thakore. But none of his photos on the internet had prepared her for the impact of his presence. Having consciously kept away from all adult men since the past dozen or so years, the jolt of looking into his chocolate brown eyes was all the more striking for Yashodhara. Beating like a jungle drum, her heart seemed to take a leap into her throat, almost choking her in the process.
It was a few seconds before she realised that he had spoken to her. “Hello,” she responded, her voice a whisper. Not having an excuse to continue to remain at the top of the staircase, as far away from him as possible, she walked down the staircase, her hand holding the railing for support as her trembling legs were on the verge of giving out.
Indrajeet couldn’t help but stare at the lovely vision that walked towards him. Yashodhara was tall and statuesque, regal in her bearing. There may be some who might feel threatened by her build, but not Indrajeet. She appeared perfect to him. Her voluptuous body was draped in a chiffon sari of rich cream, printed with many shades of red and a sleeveless blouse of cream silk. Indrajeet saw that slippers of a bold shade of red covered her narrow feet as she took a few more steps down the staircase. She wore a ruby necklace—six strands of them fell down from her neck to her abdomen. They were held together by a circular pendant of diamonds that she wore on the left side of her chest.
Her best feature were her eyes, their hazel green converging to a hazel brown closer to the pupils. He watched in fascination as the proportion of green and brown kept shifting with every minute change in her expression, each time she narrowed or widened her eyes. He noticed all this in the few seconds that it took her to walk down the stairs towards him.
“I am Indrajeet Thakore,” he introduced himself, taking her hand in his to shake it firmly, a bit startled when he felt the tremor in her hand. He let it go immediately, giving her a questioning look.
“I’m Yashodhara Jadeja.” She got the words out with difficulty as her throat felt parched. While she had made the mistake of looking into his eyes when she had been at the top of the stairs—well, she hadn’t expected him to be standing at the foot of the stairs—she didn’t plan to continue to do so.
Why wouldn’t she look at him? Somehow, Indrajeet couldn’t believe that she was shy. Her body language was anything but timid.
“Shall we?” He offered his arm to her, lifting her hand to place it within the crook of his elbow before walking towards the older women who were waiting for them. He turned to look at her when he felt her hand tremble. “Is something wrong?”
Yashodhara shook her head, looking straight at her mother as she matched her steps with his.
There was no time for any more dialogue between the two before Hyma Devi got up to take her daughter’s hand. “Come, Yasho. Meet Rajmata Santhini Devi Thakore. And Rajmata, this is my only child, Yashodhara.”
“Namaste, Rajmata.” Yashodhara brought her hands together in a traditional greeting as she bowed her head.
“Come, my dear. Sit here beside me,” invited Santhini Devi, eyeing Yashodhara keenly, as she patted the space next to her. She had watched Indrajeet guiding the princess towards them and had concluded that they looked perfect together.
Yashodhara was relieved to sit with the Rajmata. It was any day better than spending more time with Indrajeet Thakore. His touch had made her skin jump and her heart skitter. How she wished that she could be left all alone. Why did her father have to make such a condition in his Will and why did her mother insist on following it to the T? She reined in her thoughts when she realised that the Rajmata was speaking to her.
“Hahnji! I finished my BA in Sussex just a couple of years ago. After that, I did a few more courses, all about a few months each, in accounting, administration and managing an estate.”
Indrajeet noticed that Yashodhara’s language was polished and that she spoke well, her diction exemplary. He could see his grandmother nodding in approval. He had to control his amusement when he realised that Santhini Devi was absolutely impressed by Yashodhara British accent. He bided his time, wondering how to get her alone. She looked beautiful, carried herself well, and was educated with good manners. But all that was superficial, not enough basis to decide if they could live the rest of their lives together as man and wife. Though he couldn’t deny the frisson of chemistry that he had felt in her proximity. He needed to talk to her, find out what she wanted from life. They would have to know a lot about each other before they decided if they should to tie the knot with each other.
Lunch was elaborate, course after course served by a myriad of footmen. After the third course, Indrajeet looked across the table at Hyma Devi and said, “I don’t think I can swallow another morsel, Rani Hyma Devi. I am too full.” His words were accompanied by a smile that crinkled his eyes.
Hyma Devi looked at him. “But you must taste the kachori and jalebi that have been especially made for you. Just a little.”
Indrajeet shook his head firmly. “Thank you, but no.” He turned to look at Yashodhara who had also pushed her plate away. “If you are also done, princess, could we go for a walk? I need the exercise after the elaborate meal.” He got up from his chair, ignoring his grandmother’s frown. “You carry on, Grandma, and please excuse us.”
Yashodhara got up too, more because she wanted to escape than because she liked the idea of going for a walk with him. “Excuse us, Rajmata, Mamma,” she said softly before walking out of the dining room, Indrajeet at her side.
“I heard that you have some excellent horses in your stable.” Indrajeet fell into step beside Yashodhara as they walked out of the front door.
“Yes, some of the best in Rajasthan. Would you like to see them?” She continued to look straight ahead of her instead of at him, even while her reply was polite.
Indrajeet nodded, deliberately not saying anything.
Wondering if he had heard her, Yashodhara turned her head to look at him, her gaze not rising above his chin. When there was no answer forthcoming, she stopped in her tracks. “Shall we go to the stables or would you like to see the gardens?” She continued to address his chin, inadvertently captivated by the cleft on it.
Indrajeet stopped too, not saying anything, willing her to look him in the eyes. He watched in fascination as her eyelashes fluttered before she lifted heavy eyelids to look up at his face and slowly into his eyes. He was startled to see the blood draining out of her face that had gone pale while her eyes shone brightly in the afternoon sunlight. “Is something the matter, princess?” He spoke softly, not keen to startle her as she looked all set to run in the opposite direction as he could feel the tremors emanating from her body.
“Not at all.” Yashodhara shook her head, her eyes on his, unable to hide her fear that was not personal. Why couldn’t he tell her if he wanted to see the horses or the garden? Was it such a tough decision? How many times should she ask him? She lowered her eyelids, unable to bear the impact of his brown gaze.
Indrajeet made an effort to shake off the powerful feelings she aroused in him. Looking into her eyes had been like drowning into a turbulent green pool. And what was more, he didn’t seem to want to lift himself out. He realised that he was very much attracted to her. Indrajeet stared at her lips. They were wide and luscious and he was so tempted to press his lips to them. No go! He didn’t want to give her a shock. “Let’s go see the horses first,” he said, relieving her of the task of asking him yet again.
Sundari Venkatraman is an indie author who has 24 titles to her name, all Top 100 Bestsellers on Amazon India, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia in both romance as well as Asian Drama categories. Her latest hot romances have all been on #1Bestseller slot in Amazon India for over a month.
Even as a kid, Sundari absolutely loved the ‘lived happily ever after’ syndrome as she grew up reading all the fairy tales she could lay her hands on, Phantom comics, Mandrake comics and the like. It was always about good triumphing over evil and a happy end.
Soon, into her teens, Sundari switched her attention from fairy tales to Mills & Boon. While she loved reading both of these, she kept visualising what would have happened if there were similar situations happening in India; to a local hero and heroine. Her imagination took flight and she always lived in a rosy cocoon of romance over the years.
Then came the writing – a true bolt out of the blue! And Sundari Venkatraman has never looked back.
Links to Sundari’s website, blog, books, etc.
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