Hi friends, this is the next chapter of my YA "Silent Voices". If you have never come across SV before, then the following chapters might connect you more to the plot. Use them for reference if you want to know 'why' or 'who'. Otherwise, you are very welcome to read through this chapter on its own. I decided to put the previous chapters if anyone wants to delve into the plot. 

Ch-1 The Bright-Eyed Doe

Ch-2 The Prince of his Own World

Ch-6 A Splash of Colour

Ch-9: Stars and Sparkle

I would be very grateful if you could leave me any comments you have on this, be it positive or negative, praise or criticism. Thanks you for reading my work and I hope you enjoy it!

"Today, Shreya," said Fatty, "is a big day. I know you are nervous but please don't be." She lifted Shreya's hand in hers. Judging by how cold her hands were, Fatty was probably more nervous than Shreya. "Ron is not a big businessman. He is just a young man, playing around with his Daddy's office in his absence. Impress him, and Lux will be ours!"

"But how do I impress him?" Shreya asked, absent-minded, pushing her hair into style in front of the mirror.

"Oh come on! He is a young lad. You are a pretty young girl. You know what he would be looking for in you. Just smile, act sweet and innocent, and he will buy the act."

"Act?" Shreya said, surprised. "Are you trying to say that I am not sweet and innocent in reality? Fatty, you do know--"

"Yes, I know that you are kind-hearted and of strong morals, but, please, for once, just do what I say! We need this contract! There's a penthouse up for sale in Juhu. A property like that is usually worth 10,000,000, but I found one which is less than half-price at 5,000,000. The Lux contract brings a nice 6,000,000, leaving you 1,000,000 for the future. If we manage this well, we will literally be on top of the world!"

"How did you find a penthouse this cheap?" Shreya asked. "You are sure there's no catch?"

"Nope, nothing at all. It belonged to an middle-class couple, who have decided to move to a 'less noisy place'. Rumors are that their son married a foreigner, that too, of different religion. The couple decided to move, in order to avoid the shame of facing their neighbours."

Shreya listened silently. She had a very good idea of how much people valued 'honor' and 'respectability' and 'the views of the society'.

"Shall we get going?" Shreya was suddenly impatient. "We don't want to be late!"

"Sure!" Fatty told Shreya. "Let me call Dado to come with the car."

The duo made their way down the stairs. Car arrived. Soon, they were speeding through the roads of Mumbai, taking them to the famous Lux Tower on the up-market Nepean Sea Road. The 20-floor glass building was a landmark even in it's high-end neighborhood. Rising higher than all buildings in the area, the building was a perfect home for the office of one of the most powerful brand names in not just the country, but the whole sub-continent.

Shreya and Fatty made their way up the marble stairs and through the revolving doors. Fatty seemed quite at home  in the grand reception, but Shreya couldn't suppress her awe at the first sight of the office of her potential employers.  The interiors of the building was as stunning as the outside. Large plasma screens were fitted on each of the windows, continuously playing the current Lux television advertisements. The marble flooring was so shiny that one could use it as a mirror. Chandeliers, crystalline vases of exquisite red roses and unconventionally aesthetic ZZ plants were scattered evenly all around the large foyer. 

The receptionist requested Fatty to wait in the lounge area, while Shreya went to Ron's office, 'just up the glass stairs. Just before letting her go, Fatty whispered some last minute advise to Shreya: "Remember, smile, be sweet, compliment him and don't forget to hug; you want to be his friend, not employee! Now go" 

                                _________________________________________________________________________

"May I come in?"

"Yes..."

Ron Singhania called the new model girl in. What was her name...Shruti? Shahana? Sonia? 

"Hi, i am Shreya, Shreya Tanzin."

Ron looked up to face the serene figure he had seen in the portfolio Maddy sent. Only, the real deal was better! Big dark-brown eyes, dreamy pale complexion, dark hair forming soft curls, and a smile to dazzle the world out of anyone. No wonder dad loves his job! 

Ron shook Shreya's out-stretched hand, while taking one good look at her, head to toe; he needed to ensure she was exactly what he wanted, or more appropriately, what dad wanted for the next Lux girl. She had chosen to go pink today, which brought out the soft blush of innocence on her cheeks. the shade of her dress would be somewhere between Primrose Garden and Soft Poppy, according to the colour-reference chart the production team had lent him. It was a mid-length dress, 'babydoll cut' according his prior research. Her clutch was a much lighter shade of pink, a midpoint of Pearl Blush, Cream Rose and Cotton Candy. Ron looked down and was satisfied to see that she was 'peep-toe heels' or 'peep-toe pumps' or whatever in the same shade as her bag. Eager to ensure not a detail was missed, he quickly noted that she was wearing a chunky floral bangle and pearl-drop earrings in the same shade as her shoes and bag. 

Ron ticked the "appearance" section of his mental checklist, while offering her a seat, which she politely thanked him for. Now, Hun, let's see what you are made of. Just a plastic Barbie who is pleasant to look at, or a bit more than that. 


Ron turned on the news on the big LCD. This is your big test; prove yourself worthy. Now, don't lose it here, please!" 

Headlines rolled in. Ron clinically observed every expression on Shreya's unaware face,studying her response to the news items. Ron had to suppress the grin of satisfaction, as Shreya's reaction to the different headlines were exactly what he wanted; horror at the abuse story of a domestic maid, while pleasure at the international excellence award won by India's first private airline service, "Blue Heron Airways". 

"So, what do you think?" Ron said benignly. Let's hear your views!

"I think this is brilliant!" Shreya answered enthusiastically. "An Indian company making it big globally goes on to show the potentials we have. The fact that an investment from our land has achieved global recognition proves that the manpower is there; only a push is needed to make greatness happen." 

Interesting! "And what do you think about us? Lux?"

"I think Lux is brilliant too. Another Indian investment which is making us proud internationally. Thousands of women, worldwide, today swear by the gentle care of Lux. Truly, I am honoured to be able to come to its office."

Flattery? But those eyes had something in them; like a twinkle of honest appreciation...

"I am glad you feel that. Here's a question about us, 'if Lux was the brand of 2 fathers and 2 sons, and each had created a new soap type, why are there only 3 types in the market?"

Shreya smiled gently, making shadows of dimples visible. "That would be because the the two fathers were your great-grandfather and your grandfather, and the two sons were your grandfather and father."

Wits as well. Perfect! 

"Miss Shreya, looks like you love Lux! Would you like to work with us? I mean, you are beautiful, talented and lively, exactly what Lux represents. Would you like to join me for the next Lux media campaign? I heard you are the Panache girl for this month. Clearly, you are the ideal girl for the 'Steal the Show' campaign."

"I am flattered... I would love to...I don't know how to say..." Shreya struggled with her excitement. 

"Alright, then. I will send the contract over today." Ron concluded.

Ron stood up to walk Shreya to the door. He was about to put his hand out to shake hers, when she hugged him. Or, not really a 'hug' but a gentle fingers-on-shoulders-and-air-kiss hug, the usual glamorous greeting. The smell of her rose perfume felt oddly nostalgic. Ron felt something he had never felt before, a subconscious knowledge that she could be trusted. That the girl wasn't being nice just to win his friendship. That she genuinely was a warm, kind person. Maybe, she could be the true friend he never had. Being a rich heir isn't easy afterall.

While he tried his best to remain professional, something personal seemed to be forming. A sense of connection, a bond that had never been before...Despite himself, Ron said "take care and see you soon" as Shreya left his, or more appropriately his Dad's, cabin. 

Pushing the signature fringe of dark hair covering his eyeline away, Ron walked back to the desk and pulled out his sketchbook. The goldfish in Dad's fishbowl swirled around frantically, bumping against the glass walls, as if in warning. But Ron didn't care. The sketchbook stored his emotions, the ones he failed to express. Today, he needed it more than anything. Today, he need to draw...

Office towers, apartment blocks, rushing clouds: the ruthless city skyline...
High road rush, broken hearts, caffeine-fueled race against time...
In the jungle of desires, lifeless
In the jumble of flying dry leaves, 
The gentle rose blushed...
But don't be tempted by the innocence

It is a mirage, nature's cruel pretence...
For roses bring thorns too....

 

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Comment by Terri L. Atkins Febuary on May 14, 2013 at 9:27am

Shreya, these ladies have made excellent comments. I hope you receive all the help you need from our She Writes sisters. I write plays so my focus is usually dialogue/conversation and I view everything as an audience member/director/actor. Dialogue can be very active while moving the story along. : )

Comment by Irene Kessler on May 6, 2013 at 4:51am

Hope this helps to tighten it up a bit.

"Today, Shreya, is a big day. I know you are nervous but please don't be." Fatty lifted Shreya's hand in hers. Judging by the coldness, Fatty was probably more nervous than Shreya. "Ron is not a big businessman. He is just a young man, playing around with his Daddy's office in his absence. Impress him, and Lux will be ours!"

"But how do I impress him?" Shreya is paying no attention, she is pushing her hair into style in front of the mirror.

"Oh come on! He is a young lad. You are a pretty young girl. You know what he would be looking for in you. Just smile, act sweet and innocent, and he will buy the act."

"Act?" Shreya is surprised. "Are you trying to say that I am not sweet and innocent in reality? Fatty, you do know--"

Comment by Ruth Feiertag on May 5, 2013 at 2:56pm

Syeda,

I'm afraid that I don;t have time right now to read  you other chapters, but here are my thoughts based on this one alone. Your chapter is engaging; it certainly makes me want to read more. I do see what you mean about your pacing, but it seems to me that it can be fixed easily. I think that the first section of this chapter moves fairly well; it's in the interview portion where I feel the pace slow down. You could trim the end of the first section just a bit:

The duo made their way down the stairs. Soon, they were speeding through the roads of Mumbai to the famous Lux Tower on the up-market Nepean Sea Road. Rising higher than all buildings in the area, the Tower was the perfect home for the office of one of the most powerful brand names in not just the country, but the whole sub-continent.

Shreya and Fatty made their way up the marble stairs and through the revolving doors. Fatty seemed quite at home in the grand reception area, but Shreya couldn't suppress her awe at the office of her potential employers. Large plasma screens were fitted on each of the windows, continuously playing the current Lux television advertisements. The marble flooring was so shiny that one could use it as a mirror. Chandeliers, crystalline vases of exquisite red roses, and unconventionally aesthetic ZZ plants were scattered evenly all around the large foyer. 

I think you need to trust your readers a little more to pick up on the nuances of what's happening. Here's a suggested edit [comments in brackets like this] for the rest that might help the pacing:

"May I come in?"

"Yes..." What was this girl's name...Shruti? Shahana? Sonia? 

"Hi, i am Shreya, Shreya Tanzin."

Ron looked at the serene figure he had seen in the portfolio Maddy sent. Big dark-brown eyes, dreamy pale complexion, dark hair forming soft curls, and a smile to dazzle the world out of anyone [this is a beautiful, evocative phrase. It compliments Shreya and reminds your reader that we all have worlds inside us]. No wonder dad loves his job! 

Ron shook Shreya's out-stretched hand while taking an appraising [if you tell us what kind of look Ron gives Shreya, we feel that the story is moving more] look at her; he needed to be sure she was exactly what dad wanted for the next Lux girl [keep the focus here on the pressure Ron is feeling as his dad's stand-in]. She had chosen to go pink today, which brought out the soft blush of innocence on her cheeks. The shade of her mid-length, baby-doll-cut dress would be somewhere between Primrose Garden and Soft Poppy [we don;t need to be told that he's done prior research; we'll pick up on that just from his knowing the colours]. Her clutch was a much lighter shade of pink, a midpoint of Pearl Blush, Cream Rose, and Cotton Candy. Ron noted that her peep-toe heels, chunky floral bangle, and pearl-drop earrings were in the same shade as her bag. [You do a good job giving us a sense of Ron's expertise, but I think you can pare down the description and still make your point that Ron knows his stuff clear.]

Ron ticked the "appearance" section of his mental checklist and offered her a seat. Now, Hun, let's see what you are made of. Just a plastic Barbie who is pleasant to look at, or a bit more than that. [I'd cut the mental asides. They're intrusive and slow your pace. Consider starting this section with some of what Ron is thinking before Shreya arrives. Maybe you could something like this:

Ron Singhania waited in his office for the next girl to show up. He wanted to find a model who was more than a plastic Barbie, more than a mere adornment. He wanted someone savvy and aware, intelligent and interested in Lux. He wanted to show his father that he could find a model who would embody more than a surface message, one who would incorporate Lux's values as well. It was probably too much to expect her to be kind as well; Ron would be pleased to find one who was courteous and polite.

"May I come in?"

"Yes..."

Ron Singhania called the new model girl in. What was her name...Shruti? Shahana? Sonia? 

"Hi, i am Shreya, Shreya Tanzin."

What do you think about that approach?]


[I think Ron's sudden turning on the TV comes across as abrupt and makes the reader stop and wonder what's up. Can you give us a transition here? I suggest something like this: Ron … offered Shreya a seat. She thanked him, and sank gracefully into the chair. Ron glanced at her again and said, "I must apologize. My father asked me to check the news. He thought there might be a story on the latest power outages. Do you mind?" Shreya looked surprised but responded courteously, "Of course not. I've been wondering about the possible cause myself."]

Ron turned on the news on the big LCD; headlines rolled across the screen. Ron covertly observed every expression on Shreya's  face. Her reactions to the news stories were exactly what he wanted: horror at the abuse story of a domestic maid, pleasure at the international excellence award won by India's first private airline service, "Blue Heron Airways". 

"Blue Heron is brilliant!" Shreya enthused [if you let Shreya offer her opinion BEFORE Ron asks for it, you move the story along more quickly and show us that Shreya has the spark for which Ron seems to be looking]. "An Indian company making it big globally shows the potential we have. The fact that an investment from our land has achieved global recognition proves that the manpower is there; only a push is needed to make greatness happen." 

Ron smiled. [Give us a transition here so that Ron doesn't seem too self- or perhaps too Lux-absorbed: "I agree: Blue Heron has made the world aware of what India has to offer land we are all benefitting from its high profile.] And what do you think about us? About Lux?"

"I think Lux is brilliant too. Another Indian investment which is making us proud internationally. Thousands of women, worldwide, today swear by the gentle care of Lux. Truly, I am honoured to be able to come to your office."

"I am glad you feel that. [Again, give us a little more form Ron. He might add something such as "We've worked hard not only to become a force in the global market but, like Blue Heron, we want to raise the global awareness of what India has to offer — a dedicated work force, efficient technology, and, of course, beautiful women. Let me ask you a question about us: If Lux was the brand of 2 fathers and 2 sons, and each had created a new soap type, why are there only 3 types in the market?"

Shreya smiled gently, making shadows of dimples [another charming image] visible. "That would be because the two fathers were your great-grandfather and your grandfather, and the two sons were your grandfather and father."

[Again, this seems a little sudden. Maybe on and Shreya could discuss the company a bit more, and Shreya could demonstrate her awareness of the ingredients of the company's products or Lux's commitment to helping everyone achieve healthy hygiene or somethings of that sort. Perhaps she could even offer a useful suggestion for the campaign.] "Miss Shreya, it looks like you love Lux! Would you like to work with us? I mean, you are beautiful, talented, and lively, exactly what Lux represents. Would you like to join me for the next Lux media campaign? I heard you are the Panache girl for this month. Clearly, you are the ideal girl for the 'Steal the Show' campaign."

"I am flattered... I would love to...I don't know how to say..." Shreya struggled with her excitement. 

"Al lright, then. I will send the contract over today," Ron concluded.

Ron stood up to walk Shreya to the door. He was about to put his hand out to shake hers, when she hugged him. The smell of her rose perfume felt oddly nostalgic. Ron felt something he had never felt before, a subconscious knowledge that she could be trusted, that the girl wasn't being nice just to win his friendship, that she genuinely was a warm, kind person. He had tried his best to remain professional, but something personal seemed to be forming between them. Maybe, she could be the true friend he never had. Ron said, "Take care, and see you soon" as Shreya left the office.

Pushing the signature fringe of dark hair covering his eyeline away, Ron walked back to the desk and pulled out his sketchbook. The goldfish in Dad's fishbowl swirled around frantically, bumping against the glass walls, as if in warning. But Ron didn't care. The sketchbook stored his emotions, the ones he failed to express. Today, he needed it more than anything. Today, he need to draw...

Office towers, apartment blocks, rushing clouds: the ruthless city skyline...
High road rush, broken hearts, caffeine-fueled race against time...
In the jungle of desires, lifeless
In the jumble of flying dry leaves, 
The gentle rose blushed...
But don't be tempted by the innocence

It is a mirage, nature's cruel pretence...
For roses bring thorns too....

Syeda, I hope this isn't too long a response and that there's something useful in it! As I said, I don; have time right now to read the rest of your chapters, but from what I see in this one, your work seems to going along swimmingly.

Ruth

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