The first thought that came into Roma’s mind when the car left the highway and turned left into the giant gates of Vijay Nath’s house was: Wow! Crime certainly does pay. Before her was a sprawling mansion, standing proudly in the middle of a piece of land that was probably so huge, it could house an entire village. But the land housed just that one palace, flanked on both sides by professionally landscaped gardens.

The owner of this ginormous property steered his BMW convertible into the driveway and stopped in front of the steps leading up the door of his house. Roma’s door was opened from outside by a waiting valet. Vijay Nath held his hand out to her as she stepped out of the vehicle.

“My humble abode,” he proclaimed, waving a hand at his palace that towered over them.

She laughed. “It’s beautiful,” she said, and she meant it.

“Oh, it certainly is, but not as beautiful as the woman who’s graced it with her presence.”

Crime does pay, but money doesn’t make you any less corny. Roma let him place his arm around his waist. Vijay Nath pulled her closer to himself and guided her up the stairs. Roma felt his hand venture underneath her tube top, his palm rested on her bare skin and the top fell back over his hand. Roma didn’t complain, she couldn’t; she had to let Vijay Nath believe that he could take liberties with her. She had to make him trust her, her entire plan would fall apart if he found out who she really was. She probably wouldn’t live to see the next morning if that happened.

Inside, the mansion was even more awe-inspiring. They had walked into an expansive living room. A grand chandelier as big as most people’s bathrooms hung above them, the living room itself was almost as big as her own apartment. Roma took in the sights as they walked on the marbled floor. Vijay Nath’s hand was lightly caressing her waist; she started to feel ticklish and tried to walk away from him. But Vijay Nath held onto her narrow middle firmly, and kept the other side of her in contact with his body.

“So, do you like it?” Vijay Nath asked Roma. They were now sitting on a plushy couch in the middle of the living room, right under the chandelier. Roma sat on the edge of the couch, not wanting to sit back because she was afraid her skirt would ride up her legs and show more than she intended. Vijay Nath leaned back on the couch and set his sights on Roma’s lower back, left exposed between her low-waist skirt and tube top.

As his fingers drew lines and shapes on her skin, Roma cringed from within. But she didn’t move herself away from him. She looked back at him and smiled, “You’ve a wonderful home, it’s a palace, it’s beautiful.”

“Yes, it is, isn’t it?” Vijay Nath’s fingers were finding their way underneath Roma’s skirt and top, exploring skin that wasn’t on display. “But I don’t know if I can call it home…it’s a wonderful house, but not really home. In fact, I’ve to move around so much that I really can’t call any one place my home.”

Roma smiled. And which is why we haven’t been able to catch you as yet. She squirmed when his fingers went a little too under her skirt. Again, she didn’t move, but promised herself she would make him pay for whatever liberties he took with her today. What she really wanted to do was slap Vijay Nath. But she couldn’t, because she was on duty, she was undercover.

Roma told him she was thirsty, and went over to the bar to make them both a drink. While she poured him some whisky and herself some vodka, she contemplated about how to proceed further with her operation. The man she was alone in the big house with was the head of a major drug cartel. He had eluded arrest on numerous occasions; it had become tough for the police force to even come within a few meters of him. It had taken Roma’s sex appeal and attitude for her to finally get this close to him. She was a special investigative officer; she had gone undercover as a struggling actress and charmed her way into Vijay Nath’s house.

Her plan was to mix a powder she’d been given into his drink, and call for backup once he was unconscious. They would take Vijay Nath to jail, where he would be interrogated. Roma and her seniors expected to unearth a lot of information from him, information that would help them bust the entire drug racket.

While she filled their glasses, Roma sneaked out a small plastic bag from inside the front of her bikini panties. She quickly opened the bag and poured its powdery content into Vijay Nath’s whisky. The empty plastic bag went back into her panties, the powder dissolved into the whisky.

“Come with me, I’ll show you the spectacular view from the first floor balcony,” Vijay Nath said, taking the glass of whisky from Roma. He took a sip and smacked his lips. “I’ve the finest alcohol that money can buy,” he proclaimed. Roma looked at him curiously, wondering how long it would take for the powder to start working.

As they walked up the wide marble staircase, Vijay Nath’s hand took possession of Roma’s waist once again. On the first floor landing, he pushed open the glass French doors and led her outside onto the balcony. Oh my! The view is really spectacular. Roma was awed, once again. The balcony was huge, bigger than most roads that people drove on. It looked onto green grass for as far as Roma could see.

“That’s my private golf course,” Vijay Nath told her, when he saw what she was looking at. How many innocent people did you kill with your drugs to afford such luxuries? Roma wanted to ask him. But of course, she didn’t. “I’m impressed,” is what she said instead.

“Hahaha…I’m happy to hear that,” Vijay Nath said, guiding Roma to the railing. He stood back against the railing, placed his glass on it, took Roma’s glass from her hand, placed it beside his glass, and drew Roma between his outstretched legs.

Vijay Nath placed his hands around Roma’s waist and pulled her closer to himself. Just as she was about to make sense of the insides of her legs pressed against his, he leaned towards her and planted his lips onto her mouth. Roma didn’t know what made her open her mouth, but she did. His tongue ventured into her mouth, and sought hers out. The kiss was a short one, but in the few seconds that it lasted, one of his hands had found the curve of her buttocks.

“So, you’re from Chandigarh?” he asked her, one hand on her ass, the other on her waist. She said she was. That was her cover: a struggling actress in Mumbai, who hailed from Chandigarh.

“Can you please pass me my drink?” Roma asked, eager to take his hand away from her body. And also eager for him to drink some of his own, so that the powder could get to work. Vijay Nath handed Roma her drink, and much to her delight, took a big swig from his.

He placed his glass back on the railing, and lightly played with Roma’s hair. She shivered as she felt his left hand touch her cheek. “You’re extremely beautiful,” he said, one finger tracing the outlines of her lips. “You certainly have what it takes to be in films.” While he said that, his right hand squeezed her ass and his left hand found its way to her bare shoulders.

“Come on, let’s get comfortable inside and talk about how I can help you out.” Vijay Nath took her by the hand, gulped down the rest of his drink in one go and started to walk back in. He stopped in mid-step when they were almost at the French doors. He seemed to sway a little bit. “Are you alright?” Roma feigned concern, happy to see that the powder was starting to work.

“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” Vijay Nath replied, shaking his head, trying to clear the cobwebs that had suddenly surrounded him.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, yes…I’m sure.” Vijay Nath jerked his head up, pulled on Roma’s hand and started to walk inside. But he was dizzy and walked shakily. His foot hit the side of the open French doors, which made him lose his balance. Roma felt him tighten his grip on her hand, but she shook it free. Vijay Nath fell back on the open door. Before Roma could stop him from falling down, he crashed into the glass; it broke under his weight and he fell down on the shattered pieces of glass.

Roma mouthed a silent ‘Oh no’ when she saw him fall down with the glass. She couldn’t react fast enough; he twitched for a moment and then went still. A large piece of broken glass had cut right through his neck. Roma placed a hand on her forehead as she regrettably realised that Vijay Nath was dead.