As Arnav left to go to work with a declaration that they must talk soon, Khushi stomach knotted itself. She so didn’t want to talk to him about the past! She also knew the other things that would crop up during the talks. He had tried talking to her about them last night, and then again early in the morning after they had had the shower, but she had closed her eyes and ears to his speech about security for the boys and herself, and asked him to not spoil the moment.
She knew it would not be long before he would bring up the topic again.
“Khushiji?” Anjali called.
“Yes Di?” Khushi replied automatically, her mind still stuck on Arnav as she finished her plateful of Puri with Potato subzi. She had been overjoyed to see her favourite breakfast made for her by OPji.
OPji had gruffly welcomed her in the kitchen earlier. A man not accustomed to comment on his employers and ever loyal, he had been a source of comfort during tough days five years back. He did suitably frown upon her though, by shooing her out of the kitchen when she’d tried to help, haughtily informing her that she was his mistress, and he was there to serve her. He had also mumbled that it was to be hoped she wouldn’t run away this time. Chastened by the long time servant of the house, Khushi had gotten out of the kitchen then.
Now when he came to collect the dishes, Khushi smiled at him and thanked him for remembering her taste. He cracked what resembled a smile and left her.
“Khushiji?” Anjali called again and Khushi looked around.
Anjali sat with Naniji on the sofa in the living room. Payal seemed to be knitting and all three kids seemed to be talking under their breath about something. Khushi’s brow furrowed as she looked at them. They seemed to be conspiring something! Was it not just a day that they’d met? How could they be so pally? Not that she wasn’t delighted with this development, but — She mused as she went to join the others.
She smiled as she sat down opposite Anjali, who seemed to be browsing a magazine now. Anjali looked up at Khushi and said, “Khushiji, we must prepare for the party. Chhote says he plans to give the party next week, on Tuesday.”
Khushi’s eyes widened, “But Di, that’s too early! I thought it’d be another month or so before he’d throw one.”
Anjali laughed, “Have you forgotten what he’s like? Once an idea gets stuck in his head, he’d not rest until he’s executed his idea.”
Sighing Khushi nodded, “I was foolish to think he’d have changed.” Looking at Anjali’s frowning face, she smiled and said, “Not to worry Di. I’ll ensure he changes his mind.”
Nani ji shook her head sadly, “I don’t think you will be able to change his mind darling. He is quite determined to put an end to all those rumours and saga that began five years back with Aparna’s entry.”
Khushi’s head snapped right at Vishal who was busy with his younger brothers and looked back at Naniji. Mrs. Raizada senior smiled sadly and said, “Yes, Vishal was acknowledged by Arnav long back as his adopted son, but now you must acknowledge his acceptance in front of the society. You have to show people that you accept him as well. Only then will this family be able to live in peace, and Vishal bitwa will get his place in the society. Much as it pains to say it, he still feels left out. ”
Khushi frowned, “Arnav accepted him as adopted son? But naniji he is.. Vishal is Aparna and-“the words stuck in her throat but she carried on bravely, swallowing their poison, “ Aparna and Arnav’s ji son. Why was he not acknowledged accordingly? And I have another question about where Aparna is as well.”
Naniji raised her hand to stop her, and said in a firm voice, “I’m afraid I can’t answer any of your questions regarding that woman’s whereabouts. However I can tell you this- Vishal is not her son. Vishal has been officially adopted from the orphanage where he spent his childhood after his parents died.”
Seeing the bewildering expression on Khushi’s face, Naniji explained with an earnest expression, “Aparna had conspired against Arnav, and forced the child’s hand, Khushi. Granted, during their University days, they had dated but that’s all that had happened. Arnav is no fool to not realize he could have slipped and a child could’ve been born. He had his suspicions earlier on, but it was only after you left that things came into light. He investigated the whole story and found out the truth.”
A huge hole opened up under Khushi’s feet at this news. Trying to refute it, she shook her head vigorously, saying, “No. This is—how can it be possible? I saw the proof myself. I know the truth.”
Her eyes filled with tears as she saw Naniji and Anjali looking at her with a tragic expression. The world blurred into nothing as Khushi went back into her past and remembered the day DNA test results had come in. She had seen the reports, where Arnav and Vishal’s DNA had been claimed as a match.
“Aparna was a cunning woman. She played on our good nature, especially yours and gained entry in the house. It was only after you left and Chhote became inconsolable with your absence, that she started showing her true colours. Khushi ji, let Chhote be the man to tell you how things came out.”
“We spent all these years apart because I believed a lie?” Khushi’s mind boggled at the picture that was emerging.
Anjali squeezed Khushi’s shoulder in sympathy. “We all did believe her, didn’t we? It wasn’t just you. Had it not been for the near tragedy, we’d never have found out.”
Khushi’s hackles rose at the meaning behind Anjali’s words. Almost scared to ask, yet curious, she said, “What near tragedy Di?”
When Anjali looked reluctant to continue, Khushi pressed, “Please Di, you have to tell me. Nahi toh hum abhi Arnav ji ke office jaa kar unse puchenge.”
But Anjali shook her head, tears ever present in her eyes. She looked away, took a deep breath and faced Khushi, “It is best that Chhote tells you about it Khushiji. Come Nani, Mami, Payalji we must prepare lunch.”
All of them rose together, giving Khushi a pitying glance and left for the kitchen, leaving behind a very troubled Khushi.
It was Vishal who roused Khushi from her troublesome thoughts. He laid his head on her lap and closed his eyes.
“Yes my son?” said Khushi, putting one hand lovingly on his head. Aarush and Ayush came to sit beside her and she took them in her arms too.
“Let the past remain where it is; far behind us. I don’t want you and Dad fighting at any time. I hated it when you did that before you left. If you leave this time, I will come with you and my brothers.”
Tears nearly flooded Khushi’s eyes at his words. She bent down and kissed his forehead, saying, “I promise we won’t fight. I will not go away anywhere, son. But I must speak to him. I must know.”
Khushi was impatient to get to their room tonight, Arnav observed with some amusesment. He had already been warned by both Akash and Payal about the conversation that had taken place in the afternoon. Khushi had put on a calm face, but those who knew better were aware that she was in an agitated state. No one had tried to console her or ask her to calm down, he was told, because they all knew it was only Arnav who could do it.
With the boys in bed since long, and dinner with family done, they all sat around eating dessert of gulab jamuns. Arnav was eating his share of sugar free gulab jamuns and finalizing the details about the party with Akash. They had all given their inputs, including Khushi who insisted that food should be Indian- be it Indian or Non-vegetarian. Arnav had seen the happy smile on her face when everyone had agreed, and he’d added that he’d make sure there were panipuri, lassi and jalebi stands.
After a while, Khushi yawned, stood up and said, “Well, I’m tired. I’m not used to keeping late nights anymore.” Looking at Naniji, she said, “We used to sleep at about 9 every night; the kids and I, already close to midnight is half the night of sleep gone for me.”
Payal laughed at this and said, “Khushi, you always did have a penchant for finding ways to sneak off to bed and snore your head off.”
“Jiji!” Khushi sounded offended but smiled at her sister, saying, “I know that I was like that before, but it’s just that—well, after putting a long day at work, I used to be tired and sleep is sweet when there’s dreams waiting.”
“No need to go to sleep and dream about a white knight anymore Khushiji. Just order Arnav and he’ll get your dreams fulfilled.” Anjali winked at Khushi.
Khushi looked up at Arnav and found the lusty fire of his eyes burning her up. She looked down, nervous, “Maybe I can stay up a little longer.”
“Nope. We go to bed now. Good night everyone.” Arnav stood up with that decision, wishing everyone good night, winking at Anjali and Akash as he took Khushi by the arm before she could open her mouth.
NO apologies for not posting for so long. I know you all understand everything writing blocks and other commitments. ;) Do tell me how you like this chapter though. I’m on a roll today, thank God!
“I- er I’ll be right back.” Khushi mumbled as she took the opportunity to change in the bathroom.
Her insides were quivering as she changed into her nightdress, given to her by Payal jiji. She was trying so hard to gather her strength to get out of the bathroom and face Arnav. They were together after all and husband and wife always slept together, unless they weren’t with each other. Khushi was well aware of this fact. And yet, her palms were sweating. The lace at the collar of her night dress was choking her, the bodice of her night gown felt tight. She kept on scolding herself for feeling so nervous. It wasn’t as if they were going to do anything in bed, for goodness sake! All she had to do was turn on her side of the bed, close her eyes and sleep.
But sleep itself seemed far away from her eyes when she exited the bathroom. Her gaze took its fill of Arnav and her mind went blank. All she could think of was Arnav, sitting on the bed with his laptop in his lap. He wore a thin white shirt that emphasized the breadth of his shoulders and chest. His eyes were focused on whatever it was that he was doing on that laptop, his brows furrowed in concentration. He growled something low in his throat and Khushi nearly fled the bedroom. She couldn’t just sleep with him!
“Khushi.” A single word, growled from his mouth set Khushi’s pulses soaring. So he wasn’t totally focused on his work after all. Khushi, determined to not give in to her nerves made a brave attempt at sounding brusque.
As if in slow motion, Arnav kept his laptop aside on the bedside table and looked at her. Then he gave her a slow, lethal smile that all but seduced Khushi’s senses. His voice did the rest when he husked, “Come to bed darling. Stop dawdling there.”
As if tugged by invisible strings, Khushi’s feet moved forward, her heart beating a dancing rhythm in her chest. She looked at him as he watched her, a predatory glint in his eyes, following her movements as if to see to it that she obeyed him. Her senses were thrilled at this show of domination even after all these years.
As Arnav watched Khushi approaching bed, his body tingled with anticipation. A memory hit him hard of her fingertips caressing his sweat slicked skin after they’d made love with her thighs still wrapped around his lean hips. The image of her moaning into his mouth as they kissed almost undid him. He took a deep shuddering breath as he put his massive will towards the task of controlling himself.
Khushi watched Arnav taking a deep breath and followed his example. His scent penetrated her nostrils and kicked her in the pelvis. She could feel herself getting wetter and wetter as his eyes devoured her. And this was when she’d barely reached the bed, barely reached where he sat waiting for her!
“Hey Devi Maiyya.. save me.” Khushi prayed inwardly at such a sensual onslaught. The last step taken, she almost stumbled as she reached Arnav, who sat with his arms behind his head, watching her.
“Khushi.” He growled as she reached him and couldn’t stop himself from pulling her hand. With a shriek, Khushi fell straight across him. Gasping for breath, she said, “Arnavji.. you are such—“
The rest of it was lost as he quickly adjusted his position and came on top of her, his hands supporting his weight. Without even saying a word, he brushed his chest against her breasts, firing her up. She looked up into his eyes and then closed them as a feeling of bliss enveloped her. She could feel his breath on her lips, the butterfly kiss that he bestowed upon her eyes, the trailing kisses right upto her jaw and then finally her mouth.
As their mouths met, Khushi moaned in pleasure. The moan was cut midway as Arnav increased the pressure of his mouth and the kiss became deep. His lips delivered pleasure in beautiful and torturous ways as they plundered her mouth, tangled with her tongue and enticed her into this beautiful foreplay of senses.
The dress felt suffocating. Khushi grumbled in her brain. As if already aware, Arnav moved his hand to her throat and started undoing the buttons of her nightdress. His hands moved over the lace of the gown, and slowly progressed towards her breasts. She moaned out loud when his mouth swooped down to capture one fabric clad nipple and tug on it.
When he came up, it was to set his lips on hers again. Khushi sucked his tongue into her mouth, uncaring of how bold her gesture was. Arnav’s hands romanced her body, as he unbuttoned more of her.
“This is a beautiful nightdress, quite an improvement on all those hideous PJs you always wore,” he said smilingly, tracing the deep V of the neckline with his fingertip, skimming silk and skin
with the movement.
Her breath hitched, her entire body on fire, waiting for what he would do next. She needed him more right now than she need air to breathe. His next words raged the fire in womb even higher, when he dragged his hand down her womanhood and cupped her there. . “But it is not as beautiful as you, my happiness. And right now, I need to see you.”
Khushi nodded to help him take off her nightdress. In one sweep it was off her body, and she was left with her thin bra and thong. Arnav lifted his hand and ran circles around her breast, slowly coming to the epicenter. His thumb slip over the hard, tight bud. He flicked it, making Khushi moan out his name. Leaning in, he blew on the hardened nub.
“Are you hot for me?” He asked
Khushi arched her back, offering more of herself to him as she said, “Yes!”
His hand drifted down to her mound and he rubbed his finger over her as he asked, “Wet for me?”
Khushi couldn’t speak, could barely nod as she felt overpowered by the feeling of his hand rubbing back and forth against the flimsy barrier of her thong.
Arnav closed his eyes, as he sought control. He wanted to rip apart her thong and push himself deep inside Khushi. But he knew he would need to take it slow. After all these years of neglect, her sex would need some cuddling before he plunged in.
His amber eyes took on fire as she pushed her breasts together and offered it to him by arching her back and saying his name, pleading, “Arnav please!”
Nothing could stop him then. He fell to sucking her breasts, one to the other again and again, until Khushi writhed beneath him in pleasure, making sounds that took him higher. She tightened her fingers in his hair and moved her head from side to side.
“Please Arnav.. now!”
Khushi pleaded, but Arnav was merciless tonight. He kissed the hollow of her throat as he came up for air and said, “Later. First I want to taste every inch of you. I have hungered for you for so many years my darling. I need time to savour every delectable inch of you. He bit lightly on her neck and connected their mouths again.
Khushi’s hands roamed over his clothed body as she whispered against his mouth, “Take it off.”
Arnav sat up and looked at her, his eyes holding a feral gleam as he said, “You do it. Take my shirt off.”
With eyes glazed with desire, Khushi quickly obliged him. Bare chested now, Arnav sat still while Khushi explored his body, moving her hands over his chest, lightly rubbing his male nipples. He jumped when she put her tongue out and licked one. Quickly catching her by the hair, he said, “If you do this, it’ll all be over before it can start.” He kissed her arched neck and then her mouth, “I’ll let you do it later love. For now…”
He quickly flipped her over her stomach and started kissing her back. Khushi trembled under his mouth as he reached her hips. Nipping slightly, he turned her over again and kissed her right where she throbbed the most. Khushi clutched his head as he licked her, sucked the tight nub into his mouth and flicked his tongue inside her.
“Are you ready to come my love?” Arnav asked her, his mouth glistening with her juices.
Khushi writhed, hungering for more of his mouth. “Yes, please don’t stop now.”
“I don’t intend to.” Arnav grinned and got down to business. A finger and then two were pushed into her, as he still licked her clit.
Khushi screamed as she came in his mouth, while he pushed her higher and higher. When she came to, Arnav lay on top of her, his eyes animalistic. He kissed her, letting her taste her own juices, as he positioned himself.
“And now we ride together to heaven.”
Saying this he pushed into her wet, tight sheath in a single thrust, knowing Khushi was ready and waiting. It felt like coming home as he thrust into her harder and faster, with Khushi urging him on. He howled her name out loud as he spilled his seed inside her seconds after she came again.
“Khushiji!” Anjali called out again, bringing Khushi back to reality.
“Huh?” Khushi looked at Anjali, wondering what was being said.
Anjali and Payal looked at each other and grinned. Then they turned to Khushi again. Payal said, “Khushi, it looks as if you haven’t slept all night.”
Mortified, Khushi blushed beetroot red, as both Anjali and Payal burst out laughing.
Khushi stammered, “W-who h-hum-“ and was interrupted by Anjali with naughty expression in her eyes.
“Haan haan.. we know. You must have not been able to sleep in bed, with Chhote in it after so long. And we also know that in this case, “hum” is not just for you but for both Chhote and you.”
If Khushi could have dug a hole, she’d have done it. As it was, with both her sister and Arnav’s sister teasing her, Khushi found herself unable to subside her galloping heart beat as she remembered the previous night.
They had made love more than once and barely slept at all. The entire night went away as they rested and then took pleasure in each other’s’ bodies again and again. It was only when Arnav declared that he would have to get up and get ready to go to work, that they had relented. Even then, — Khushi remembered what happened in the shower and blushed red.
“Chhote, don’t you think Khushi ji has changed colour?” Anjali’s interesting observation had her head snapping around to where Arnav sat grinning and eating his cheese sandwich.
He winked at her and turned to Anjali, “Di, if you continue teasing her, she would remain red and then my sons would wonder if I’ve beaten her up.”
As Anjali laughed, Khushi started. She had completely forgotten Aarush and Ayush!!! Looking around frantically, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up into Naniji’s smiling face and said, “Wo hum—I’d – are the children okay? I must look into-“
Naniji sat down on her matriarchal seat and said, “No need Khushi bitiya. Both bitwas are with Vishal bitwa. They’re having fun with their elder brother and they’ve already breakfasted together.”
Khushi heaved a sigh of relief and yet felt guilty. She should have remembered her sons earlier! It was their second day in this house and they may need time adjusting to it all. She chewed her lips, worrying over this until Arnav said, “Khushi, stop worrying. They’re all alright. We need to talk however.”
And Khushi felt another uneasy jolt in her stomach. She knew what this talk would entail and she was not looking forward to it.
Khushi heard a gasp and some low voiced mutterings. Curious to know where the noise had come from, she looked up to see a boy coming down the stairs slowly, one step at a time. She recognized him immediately. It was Vishal. His forehead shone with perspiration as he tried to carefully take another step down the stairs. With her heart in her mouth, Khushi watched as he slowly came down. How he had grown! Her heart ached for the little boy she had known and the boy know, who was trying so hard to fit in into the world. If nothing, she was glad that he had Arnav’s affection.
She had now accepted the reasoning her mind had come up with the night before, that even though Vishal had been accepted by Arnav, Aparna had not. What Arnav said when before he left to sleep in the guest room had stayed with her. It was quite clear that Aparna had left their lives long time back. She was curious as to what could have been the reason. Why did Arnav say she would regret having sacrificed five years of their lives together?
During this contemplation, she had also let in another thought. A part of her had wondered if she was actually being forced to go back. She had had to accept it that deep inside her, hope of going back home, to the man who was her husband, her life had always been there. Maybe when she had prayed at all times for her beloved’s well-being, she had secretly hoped for a reunion. Why should she then not embrace it?
After an hour of debate with herself, Khushi had finally decided to give herself and Arnav a second chance.
When Khushi had entered RM, she had wondered if she would encounter any unknown in the house she had made home. But looking around had confirmed her suspicions from last night.
For whatever reason, Aparna had not been given an entry in Shantivan. Meeting everyone made her realize another thing. Aparna had never been a part of this family- her family, in all the years that Khushi had been gone. Had she lived in Shantivan; Raizada Mansion, she would have definitely left her mark somewhere, on someone. It was as if she had never been there. The only difference she could perceive in the house was addition of some new furnishings. No doubt that the escalator was for Vishal as was the moving chair and a hammock next to the back garden.
Khushi watched Vishal coming down all by himself and felt anger bubbling inside her on his behalf. How could everyone just let him walk down the stairs all alone! At least OP or HP should have been with him! Another step and he faltered again. Before Khushi could stop herself, she was up the stairs and next to him. Smiling at him, she said, “Will you let me help you down?”
The smile that lit Vishal’s face as he accompanied it with an enthusiastic nod nearly brought tears to Khushi’s eyes. How could she not love him? After all, if she thought fairly, it was Vishal who had first awakened motherly feelings in her. Shrugging all her thoughts, she held his hand.
“I’m so glad you’re back.” Vishal said as he took a step down.
“I’m glad to see you can walk now.” Khushi said, her voice husky with emotion. There was no question of not accepting Vishal, he always had a place in her heart.
Vishal looked at her face again. Seeing tears glittering in her eyes, his hand left hers. In the next instant, he wrapped them around Khushi’s waist, his head buried against her. Khushi hugged him back as he whispered, “My Ma! I missed you so much! It was hard work, but Dad helped me get through it.”
Unwittingly, a tear dropped out of Khushi’s eye. Her heart had responded openly to Vishal calling her Ma like he always used to. At the time Khushi had thought he addressed her such because she was another woman in his father’s life. He had always called Arnav Dad and Aparna had always been addressed as “Mom”. Shrugging thoughts of Aparna aside for the moment, Khushi ruffled his hair.
Her voice was husky, as she said, “I-I’m glad he was there to support you.”
They had almost reached the bottom of the stairs. Arnav stood aside with Aarush and Ayush holding his hands. They were looking at Khushi and Vishal. Arnav came forward with both his sons and introduced them to each other.
“Vishal, these are your brothers- this is Aarush and this naughty boy here who’s wriggling is the youngest of you all; Ayush. Aarush, Ayush, this is your elder brother Vishal.”
All three looked at each other. Vishal’s face had a wide smile on it, as did Ayush. Aarush however looked at Khushi for confirmation of this information. Khushi nodded and smiled, bringing Vishal forward to meet her sons. “Come, meet your brothers Vishal.”
Vishal hugged both his brothers who hugged back with total acceptance. If their mother said he was their brother, then he was. It was a few minutes before Aarush’s smile was replaced again by a frown. Khushi closed her eyes in mortification as she knew the question that was about to come up. Her son Aarush was nothing if not like his father. He would definitely have been analyzing the information given and come up with a conclusion. And what was more, just like his father, he was going to be blunt about it and say it out loud. She was right.
“Mommy told us long time back about you. She also said she had to leave you and Dad because you had another mother.” He looked at Khushi and frowned, “So do we have two Mommys?”
She was about to answer when Vishal laughed a bitter laugh, “Oh no, Aarush. That is not true, not exactly.” He hugged Khushi who stood beside him. He looked up at her, his face serious and said, “I know I was not born from her like you guys, but she is my only Ma.”
While Khushi was still trying to speak past the lump in her throat, never mind bring all her scattered thoughts together, Vishal looked at his brothers, oblivious to the chaos Khushi’s heart and mind was in.
He said firmly, “We have only one mother Aarush. We don’t have two Mommys.” At Aarush’s still confused expression, he elaborated, “Let me explain. Come let us sit on the sofa. My legs ache, you know. I got a new foot.”
“What happened to the old one?” Ayush asked with child-like ignorance.
Vishal looked at him sadly, “I lost it brother.”
“How?” Ayush asked again.
Vishal sighed, evading the question, “I lost it when I was 2 years old.”
Ayush looked at Vishal and said, “Our teacher says we are born only with one pair of legs and we must eat well to keep them healthy. We learned about body parts in our class.” He looked around and told everyone importantly.
The family, that was sitting already and listening to the entire dialogue, smiled and nodded.
Ayush was not done with his questions however. His eyes glinted with morbid curiosity of a child as he asked, “So when you lost it, was it an accident? Were you walking by yourself?” At Vishal’s affirmative nod, he whispered, “Was there a lot of blood?”
“Ayush!” Khushi gasped, scandalized. She put her hand on Vishal’s head immediately as if to protect him, as she scolded her youngest son, “You must not ask questions like that! Apologise.”
As Ayush’s lower lip trembled with the reprimand. Arnav picked up his youngest son and tickled him, “Bloodthirsty child! Yes, there was blood but Vishal was very brave.”
Ayush smiled radiantly at his father, “I was sure there must be blood involved. Teacher says when there is accident, there is always lot of blood.” He looked at Vishal and said, “Sorry brother.”
Vishal seemed to be overcoming a lump in his throat as he said huskily, “Not a problem little brother. You can ask me anything, anytime.”
Aarush had a frown on his face as well. He was looking at his elder brother, his eyes understanding some of what was being said, “So – it must have hurt a lot when you lost your foot? We had a boy like that in our class. He said it hurt a lot when he tried to walk with stick. He couldn’t get a new foot though. Maybe that’s why he was always sad.”
Vishal empathized, “Yes, that must be it. Were you his friend then?”
Ayush and Aarush nodded enthusiastically, as Aarush replied, “Oh yes! He couldn’t run or anything but we studied together and played Snakes and Ladders too! He came to our house quite frequently. Mommy always gave him Barfi; he likes it very much you know.”
Arnav looked at Khushi, his eyes betraying the overwhelming tenderness he felt for his wife. At his son’s admission of how Khushi gave extra affection to that physically disabled friend of his, his feelings threatened to overflow. He heard the women in his family sniffing behind them.
Deciding enough tears had been shed today, he said loudly, “ I’m thinking of throwing a party and introduce all my sons together.”
“Great idea bhai!” enthused Aakash. Payal nodded in acceptance. She was, it seemed to Khushi, used to their rich lifestyle now. Payal had a glow about her that Khushi had never seen before. Good for her!- thought she.
Aarush pulled on Vishal’s sleeve. Vishal bent down to hear what his brother had to say and then gave a very un-boyish like giggle. All three brothers went on with their talk in excited whispers, until Khushi asked, “What is going on here? What are you boys talking about in whispers?”
“It’s a secret Ma.” Said Vishal with a beaming smile towards his brothers. The twins nodded vigorously. Khushi opened her mouth but closed it again with a snap at a look from Arnav. His look said, “Leave the kids alone. Let them talk.” Reluctantly, she nodded at him and turned away to the elders of the family.
“Naniji, I don’t think a party will be a good idea so soon. We still need to get used to- I mean, Aarush and Ayush will have to get used to the lifestyle here and we—“
“Khushi, my child- all will happen in its time I assure you. However, I agree here with Arnav that a party is a good idea. All three grandsons of Raizada clan will be introduced. Along with that, the news of the newcomer will also be celebrated.”
Senior Mrs. Raizada, then pointedly looked towards Payal with warmth in her eyes. Khushi gasped and shouted, “Jiji, you are going to have a baby!”
“Shhh!!” Khushi was shushed by Payal, who turned a rosy pink.
After much of hugging and cheerful talk, everyone departed taking Aarush and Ayush with them. It was the first night together for Arnav and Khushi. Despite Khushi’s protests, Arnav’s suggestion was deemed right. They needed to spend time together, to re-engage the feelings and talk.
Nervous, Khushi walked upstairs with Arnav, to enter into the domain that she had left behind five years back. Their bedroom.
It was with a heavy heart that Khushi locked the door of the house she had spent her last five years in. Tears had gathered in the corner of her eyes; tears she wouldn’t allow herself to shed. Even when Savita came to wish her good bye, Khushi smiled cheerfully, assuring her that she will be back from time to time. She behaved as if her heart was not full of misgivings at going away from this place- her sanctuary when she needed it the most.
She looked back once as she reached the car where Arnav and her sons were waiting for her. Two tears made their way out of her eyes, onto her cheeks as she mentally thanked the house and the much loved previous house owner for giving them a happy place to live. She sat in the car and looked straight ahead. Aarush and Ayush, she knew were happy to be where ever she was, where ever they thought their father could live with them.
They had, as kids do, accepted the facts quickly, without shedding any tears over it. They had been sad the previous evening when they had been told of their departure from Allahabad and arrival into busy city called New Delhi. Arnav had spent time with them, patiently explaining the situation, as Khushi sat next to him, her hand in his. The flight to Delhi from Allahabad had been full of chatter, with boys wanting to know everything, as they incessantly questioned their father. Aarush, Ayush and Arnav sat together while Khushi preferred to sit on the other side of the aisle, by the window.
Arnav knew she wanted space and time to gather her thoughts and he had given it. For that Khushi was thankful. As they landed in Delhi and stepped out of the airport, Khushi’s heart quickened. Their driver waited outside in the parking lot, to take them home.
The journey home was completed in silence from Khushi while the kids chattered on. Arnav patiently replied to all their questions and from time to time, kept his eyes on Khushi. He fully appreciated how difficult this time was for Khushi and how much she needed this time alone to herself. Soon they reached Shantivan.
Trembling inside with anxiety, Khushi stepped out of the car. Arnav held her other hand and squeezed it tight to reassure her. Aarush and Ayush both exclaimed with awe when they had their first glimpse of Shantivan. They all held hands. Arnav held on to Aarush’s hand while Ayush was holding Khushi’s. She looked up at Arnav, seeking reassurance again. Arnav smiled, bent and kissed her forehead, saying, “ Everyone is waiting for you my darling. Welcome home.”
Khushi smiled a ghost of a smile, still anxious. Her heart eased a little though when Arnav held on to her as the door opened.
Khushi saw a sea of faces- all too familiar faces and tears gathered in her eyes. Payal stood inside the door, holding the Kalash while Anjali stood beside her, holding the puja thali. Khushi held on tight to
For Khushi, it was a bittersweet homecoming. Everything that had happened to her in Raizada house ran in front of her eyes, as if it was a film that was being rewinded. She remembered her first entry into Shantivan, Anjali’s loving care, Naniji’s sweetness and understanding, Akash & her own sister Payal’s love and consequently their wedding. She also remembered all the happenings during the wedding, how her own had occurred quite accidentally and forcefully, how things had changed, how Arnav had changed. But most of all, she remembered her re-marriage and her entrance into this house that had become the home of her heart and the events that followed it.
Every nook and corner of this house reminded her of the love shared by herself and Arnav and then, the intense sorrow of leaving it all behind, for his good. Two tears slipped from her eyes and flowed over on to her cheeks, as her lips smiled with joy of seeing Shantivan again. This place was her haven of happiness and she had to leave it behind. How had she borne it then? How will she ever bear to live here again, now that it must have been tainted by new memories of Arnav and his ex-girlfriend?
“Khushiji.” Anjali’s wobbling voice reached across her ears and Khushi turned around. The whole family stood in front of her, still waiting in the hall. Everyone had tears in their eyes, including Mamaji and Akash and their faces were alight with joy. Naniji was sobbing in her handkerchief. Buaji stood beside her; her face a picture of unbearable happiness, her hands joined to thank NandKishore. Beside Buaji stood her mother & father.
“Khushi, meri bacchii.” Garima sobbed out a whisper.
“Amma” Khushi whispered at first and then cried out loud, running towards her mother. As she reached within inches of her mother, she stopped and stared at her mother’s face. Tears ran down her cheeks as she gazed lovingly at her mother, who couldn’t seem to control her shaking or crying. In the next second, Khushi was in her mother’s arms who hugged her fiercely.
“Amma.. I’m so sorry Amma. Please Amma, don’t cry. I’m very sorry to have hurt you. Please forgive me Amma, please!” Khushi said brokenly, pleading for forgiveness again and again as she held on tightly to her mother.
“Nahi Bitiya, nahi.. rote nahi. I’m so happy that you have finally come back. Don’t cry my daughter. I love you. I am not angry, there is nothing to forgive. Oh my child, how you must have suffered all alone!” Garima; Khushi’s mother said, consoling her, kissing her forehead and then hugging her again.
The storm of sorrow and guilt subsided a little in Khushi’s heart as she met everyone one by one. Everyone had truly welcomed her back home, but her eyes kept on looking for traces of Vishal and his mother. Their sons had been introduced and made much of, by all the elders of the house. Anjali had gone completely overboard when she hugged them and told them she was their father’s sister; their aunt. Arnav had been glad to see that they had liked her immediately, though they did become a little wary of her, as she kept on hugging them and not letting them go. All in all, they had been kissed and hugged and welcomed in true Raizada style. Both of them seemed anxious and wary as they met everyone, though they did lap up all the affection. Once they’d been introduced to all, they had come back to hold on to Arnav’s hand as their mother still seemed busy with others.
Arnav had been standing quietly until now. He had watched the union of his family with Khushi; his eyes hiding a well of emotions. Khushi had broken down when she’d first hugged her mother and father. It had almost made Arnav want to hug her himself and console her, to tell her everything. But he held on to his control. As she met with everyone, he saw Khushi’s eyes straying anxiously, looking everywhere. Arnav knew what she was searching for.
He looked up and signaled to the teenage boy standing in the balcony. At his signal, the boy slowly came down the stairs, as if afraid of his reception by the party downstairs. He looked at Arnav for confidence, at Arnav’s nodding smile, continued downstairs. His feet encasings were new and still stiff. A quick step forward almost made him slip. He held on to the banister with a gasp, a mutter and steadied himself. And he immediately caught Khushi’s attention.
The week was slipping by too quickly for Khushi. She tried to think about what Arnav had said, but somehow first of her two days slipped by quickly. On the third night, Khushi put her kids to sleep and sat thinking, outside on the verandah of her house. The same questions that had plagued her since the day Arnav had gone came back to her again. After a while, she went into the living room and sat down on the sofa.
Was she being unfair to her own children? In trying to find justice for a boy, had she been the cause of injustice to others? Had she hurt people she’d loved the most- Arnav, Naniji and her own parents? Had she taken a wrong step all those years ago?
She was so confused. Arnav wanted her back, but when she asked about Aparna, he wouldn’t say anything about her. The least he could do was tell her what happened to her, and his son. Had she- No, she shook her head. She still didn’t think that she’d misjudged the situation then. She knew she had to leave.
Perhaps it had been wrong of her to not have told Arnav about their sons, but she had a valid reason, didn’t she? Now that he knew of their existence and wanted to be with them, would it be right of her to keep them apart? And if she – she shuddered as she thought of it- if she let her sons live with him, go with him- would she be able to keep her distance from him, knowing he belonged to someone else in her mind? It didn’t matter what he said, what their marriage certificate said. What had mattered to Khushi, still did in fact was that Arnav had another son, and had been claimed by another woman long before she’d ever even known him. These thoughts went round and round in her head, until she fell asleep right there on the sofa.
Next morning, she woke up with a crick in her neck. Realising where she’d slept, she groaned out loud. Still yawning, she went to her door and opened it to get the newspaper lying outside.
As she took the paper inside, she glanced at the headline on the front page. The newspaper fluttered from her hand and fell on the floor, as shock took hold of her body. Right on the front page was a picture of Arnav, attending an Iftar party with a couple of leading politicians. Along with him was his son, Vishal. The headline screamed, “Tycoon ASR announces the return of his wife and sons.” As if in a trance, she picked up the paper and started reading it, absently going into her room and brushing her teeth.
The newspaper spoke briefly about the party, politicians from various political sections attending the party with details followed on the next page. Khushi turned to the next page which went on about businessmen attending the party, in particular Arnav Singh Raizada, who was said to be close to the upcoming and leading politician, who was in line for the post of the Prime Minister of the country.
It said that upon being questioned about the young man who accompanied him, Arnav had formally and finally introduced the press to his adopted son, twelve year old Vishal Singh Raizada. Vishal had been suffering from walking disability some years ago, but he had bravely overcome it.
The writer reminded his readers about how five years back, media had widely reported about Arnav Singh Raizada’s separation from his much loved wife due to reasons still unknown, and addition of an adopted son in his life. The reason for separation was rumoured to be the boy who had been adopted by ASR. It had also been said that he was in fact ASR’s illegitimate son, born to his ex-girlfriend; a claim which Arnav had vehemently refuted. Mr. Raizada had opted out of personal functions and Page 3 parties, attending charities and other political for business functions only. Mrs. Arnav Singh Raizada’s whereabouts are still unknown to public at large.
Tonight ASR had smilingly volunteered the information that soon his estrangement with his wife would come to an end. Not only that, he mentioned that he had two sons from his wife and nothing more would please him than to have all three sons by his side. However he gave his usual “no comment” reply on the whereabouts of his adopted son’s mother. His son added to his announcement by saying that both father and son were happy with this new development. He furthermore added that he remembered Mrs. Raizada well and looked forward to calling her Mum soon.
The article ended with a note, that the reporter had no doubt that even after all these years, Arnav Singh Raizada carried a torch for his long separated wife.
“How dared he!!! He had no right to announce this while I’m still thinking about it!! Arnav Singh Raizada, you stupid, dictatorial Laad Governer! Wait till I get my hands around your neck. I’ll squeeze the life out of you!” Khushi swore loudly as she got ready for her shower. “I hate that man! I’m going to teach him a lesson. Soon be joining be damned!”
Her anger had not dissipated even after she’d sent children to school and started preparing sweets for the day’s business. Her thoughts were focused for some time on the piece of information she’d read in the newspaper, about Arrnav adopting Vishal as his legitimate son. Khushi was happy about it, even though a little mystified about Aparna’s whereabouts and Arnav’s refusal to accept Vishal as his real son, even though illegitimate. A part of her mind tried to process this information, but it was the other part which had her total attention- the part which was still outraged, that Arnav had declared that they were back together again.
She was making jalebis when her phone beeped. Khushi looked at her phone and her anger boiled over. It was an SMS from Arnav saying, “Trust you’ve reached to the right decision. See you in four days. “
Khushi’s eyes misted red as she read the message once again. Without a second’s hesitation, she deleted it and called up her lawyer, asking him to draw the divorce papers and send it to her husband’s residence. That would teach him a lesson!
By afternoon, Khushi had received news from her lawyer. He had drawn the divorce papers and sent it across to ASR’s residence; Raizada House. Arnav would be served papers by tomorrow morning. Khushi thanked her lawyer and continued to work.
By late evening, she was a mass of nerves. She went to the park with the children, played with them, gave them dinner and put them off to sleep. Her anger had cooled down sufficiently now to make her nervous, as she thought of Arnav’s reaction after seeing the papers. She had no idea what she would do if he filed for the custody of children. She had not enough money to fight him. Maybe she’d been too hasty in her anger, but – she justified in her head- she had also been right. He had been trying to force her to do his bidding. He had tried to twist her hand by that announcement to the press. Khushi Kumari Gupta would never be dictated by anyone! She would make sure that the children would never be harmed due to any of her actions- or his. She went to sleep, reassuring herself again and again.
“KHUSHI SINGH RAIZADA!!” Arnav’s bellow reached her ears before the doors burst open with a loud crack and an angry Arnav strode in to her house the next afternoon.
Khushi gasped as she saw Arnav striding towards her, murder in his eyes. She was in the shop, setting things to right, having served the last of her customers before lunch. His eyes gleamed with rage, so much so that Khushi wanted to run as far away from him as possible at that moment. But of course, her pride wouldn’t allow her that. So she clutched the pallu of her yellow sari, trying to gather her courage, as she stood her ground.
Arnav reached her in a few steps and took hold of her shoulders. He was so angry he could throttle her!!! As it was, he shook her hard as he roared, “How dare you send me those vile divorce papers!!”
Khushi’s head swam as he shook her. She stammered, “A-Arnav, I-“
She never got a chance to say anything as she was picked up in his arms and on his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and carried into the living room, up the stairs and into her bedroom. She squeaked in outrage as he tossed her down on the bed, and stood over her.
“Enough of this nonsense! I thought if I gave you enough time, you’d come to your senses. But no– Khushi Singh Raizada has no sense whatsoever! Even after I explicitly told you that I’ll never divorce you, you send me the divorce papers! Pack your bags. I’ve had it with you. You and the children are coming back with me right now!”
“If you think your bellowing like this and ordering me about is going to change my decision in any way, you’re mistaken Arnav Singh Raizada!” Khushi spat back, very angry at him now. She continued, “How dare you come round here and start dictating me as if I was a subordinate of yours! I’m a person in my own right, an intelligent person at that. I can take my own decisions and if I feel I don’t want to come back with you, I won’t!”
“Oh yes you would, you headstrong fool of a woman!” Arnav said in a tight voice, his eyes gleaming with an unholy look, “Unless you want us to fight for our sons’ custody? I will make sure I win Khushi, and I’ll also make sure you never get to see them again- ever!”
“You wouldn’t! “ Khushi gasped at his cruelty.
“I would and you know it. I thought giving you time would make you realize that I’m not such a bad bet. But did you even think about coming back?” Arnav bit out.
Khushi looked away from him and sighed. Then she looked at him again and said calmly, “Yes I did. I thought about it and was – had almost reached the decision that we could get back together again.” Her eyes lost their softness and became hard as she added, “And then I saw the newspaper.”
Arnav became still as she said that. Khushi continued, trying to keep emotion out of her voice, “ I saw the picture of you and Vishal. I’m glad he’s able to walk now.”
“And?” Arnav waited, sitting down by the edge of the bed.
Khushi’s eyes flashed, “You had no right to announce to the world that we were coming back together again, especially since I had yet to say yes! How could you!”
“And so you sent me the divorce papers to challenge my announcement.” Arnav thought out loud. Khushi shook her head, trying to not shed any tears at the hurt she still felt at Aparna’s announcement about Vishal and her relationship with Arnav.
“I’m happy for Vishal and convinced that he can be a good son to you. Why you feel the need to hide his parentage has nothing to do with me. It is between you and Aparna of course, but I think it is time you did the right thing and married her. All those years back, I-I had already given you guys my blessings when I left.”
“So you deliberately left me and decided to raise our sons by yourself. You didn’t give a chance to our relationship.” Arnav’s statement, said in a deceptively soft voice belied the seething rage he was in. He looked at Khushi.
Khushi quaked with fear inside but put up a brave front. She gave him a calm look and her voice was just as controlled and quiet as she said, “I thought it was for the best. You already have a son so you definitely don’t need mine. I thought the divorce papers would have made things easier for you; easier to marry your long lost lover and adopt your son. I thought-“
“You thought wrong. You knew I loved you, yet you left me behind with some woman and her son. You broke my heart. You never asked me about her, just took it for granted that since I and Aparna were together before, we had to be again. You did not once ask me what I wanted. ”
Arnav’s voice was icy as if he was near the edge of a precipice. He spoke through gritted teeth, his anger evident,” Not satisfied with that, you took four years of my sons’ lives from me. You shall pay for it Khushi Singh Raizada; starting now.”
Before Khushi could make a coherent reply or even guess what he would do, he pulled her towards him, in his arms and kissed her. When he let her go, Khushi could barely contain her body. Her mind was clouded with want, her body screaming at her to be one with him. Her mind struggled as she became divided between her love for him and her own decision.
Arnav took deep breaths to control his breathing. He held her close to his chest as he said, “Make arrangements. Close your business and your house. You and our sons are coming home with me.”
“I won’t.” Khushi replied, pushing him away and like a child shaking her head, bringing her knees close to her chest and laying her head on them.
Arnav shifted close to where she was sitting on the bed. She looked up at him, startled. He bend close to her face and said, “I will not leave you alone anymore Khushi Singh Raizada.”
Khushi shivered as she felt his breath on her face. She cursed inwardly. Now was not the time to feel the desire. If only her body would listen!
As if Arnav couldn’t help himself, he caught her hair tied into a plait in his hand and brought her mouth close to his. Khushi’s breath hitched in her throat, the pulse at the base of her throat throbbing visibly. She tried to avert her head but Arnav pulled it back with her hair in his hand, bringing tears to her eyes. She cried out,
“Why don’t you marry Aparna and end this all!”
“I can’t. I am married to you.” Arnav spoke softly, a smirk on his face, still holding her hair and keeping her head close to his. He so badly wanted to kiss those juicy lips again, but he had to bide his time. The mention of Aparna helped calm down his libido and focus on the matter at hand. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt her if she knew a bit of the truth- thought he.
“I told you, I can free you. Y-you should do that for Vishal.” Khushi’s voice had almost turned to a whisper now that Arnav’s mouth was so close to hers. She had to force herself to keep on talking of Aparna, keep herself away from temptation of placing her lips over his. Her lips felt dry and on fire. He was looking down at her lips and she couldn’t help as she licked them, and then quickly put her tongue back in her mouth as she saw his hunger flaring. She looked down and closed her eyes to avoid his gaze, trying to stay calm. “I-I c-can free you to be with Aparna and Vishal.”
Arnav tipped her chin up and brought his lips closer to hers, whispering against them, “Listen to me wife because I will keep on repeating until you get it through your thick head. I have only ever loved you, still do. You’re stupid and downright blind at times but I still do love you. And I know you love me too. ” Before she could object, Arnav kissed swiftly and got up, saying,
“You’re intelligent enough to know that when things seem confusing, there’s another side of the truth hiding from you.”
Khushi looked at him quizzically and he sighed, ” Pack your bags while I see to the children. And while you’re doing that, start joining the dots Khushi. You’re going to regret the day you left me once you have reached the final truth. When you do learn the truth, I want you to also learn to trust me and listen to me before you become a martyr ever again. For now, I can only tell you that neither Vishal nor I want Aparna with us. We only want you. Come back to us.”
Discomfort was the word that she was looking for, she told herself. They were at the dinner table, everyone eating quietly. Unlike yesterday, there was no talking today. The children were quiet and so was Arnav. Khushi had no idea what he was thinking about, but he kept on looking at children and her, back and forth. Was he trying to come to a decision?, she wondered.
“Would you like to continue living here or would you like to come with me Delhi? It has good schools you know.”
His question startled her. As Khushi looked up, she saw that the question was not directed at her, instead it was the children he was asking this question to. They both looked at him, with Aarush looking away and Ayush opening his mouth to say something but closing it tight shut, after looking at the reaction of his brother.
“Khushi?” Arnav directed his question to her this time.
Khushi squirmed in her chair. What could she say? She needed time to think. Her children wanted him, just as much as Vishal would. She couldn’t decide whom should she stand up for. She looked at him, torment clear in her eyes this time. “I don’t know yet. We need time.”
Arnav looked at her and nodded. Then he looked down and continued eating in silence. Khushi had no idea that the question was meant as much for him as for her. Now that he had found her one and only love, and his sons, he didn’t want to let them go. To leave them behind and go back to Delhi was unthinkable for him. Yet, he knew he had to leave them alone for the moment. He had to go back to Delhi and set the wheels in motion. It was time the truth was out and in front of Khushi.
He had heard the conversation that had taken place earlier in the evening between mother and sons. His heart had been slashed with sharp swords of pain again and again as he’d seen Khushi dealing with their sons, telling them to let him go, forget him. He had loved Khushi all the more for her pain, her brave effort to keep things gentle, but he had loved his son Aarush even more at his bravery in not letting her see how much he wanted to be with his father. He was proud of his son. He swore then and there, he would make sure things fall in place soon.
They wanted to be with him as much as he wanted to be with them. He was aware that Khushi loved him just as much as he loved her. He was still in love with her. All these years apart had done nothing to douse the flame of passion or lessened the love that burned bright between them.
He could see her torment. She had left because she had thought Vishal needed a stable family. She had sacrificed her love for the sake of his family and their happiness. He closed his eyes to hide the pain, thinking of the time ,when she’d find out all these years wasted between them had been for nothing. Her sacrifice had been in vain, for he never had any family, any son. But not yet. He had to give her time- and himself too. He had to leave.
They were all eating ice cream for dessert when Arnav made his announcement.
“I’ll be leaving to go to Delhi tomorrow. I have work that must be done.”
He heard a sob and looked for its source. Ayush had tears on his cheeks and was sobbing. Aarush got up & wiped the tears off his brother’s face. He held Ayush’s hand, looking straight at Arnav.
It killed Arnav from inside to see how disheartened his sons looked. Aarush’s voice held too much bitterness for a four year old.
“We knew you wouldn’t stay with us. Mommy is right. We are better off without you because you will leave us when you don’t want us.”
“Beta Aarush-“ Khushi started, but Aarush held out his hand to stop her, “It’s okay Mommy. We love you and we’re glad we have you. We don’t want anyone else.”
Khushi’s eyes filled with tears as she saw her sons walking to their room, their ice cream uneaten. She hurt for her sons and their pain, and was sad to see her Aarush sounded far more wise beyond his years. What a burden to carry for a four year old!! And she was responsible for it, she told herself disgustedly. She should never have let Arnav meet them in the first place! They had been happier not knowing him.
“Khushi-“ Arnav tried to explain but Khushi cut him off angrily,
“If you had to leave, you could have at least waited to make the announcement until they’d finished ice cream. I had been right in thinking you shouldn’t have come into our lives. They had been happy before- they- “ she wiped her tears angrily, “And now they’re broken hearted. I should’ve stopped you from ever raising their hopes. Go back to Delhi Arnav Singh Raizada. Go back to your son and girlfriend. I never want to see you again.”
She got up from her chair and started collecting the dishes, continuing, “You can pack and leave right now if you want. I’m sure you can call your driver or call a taxi to come and take you. I don’t want to see you after this.”
“You’re over reacting as usual, Khushi Singh Raizada.” Arnav’s cold voice was like a tight slap on her face. “I didn’t say I’m leaving for ever. I am giving you time to decide what you want to do about the question I asked you before. I’m letting you decide — getting out of your way to let you make your decision without any coercion.”
Khushi still had her back to him, but he kept on addressing her back, his voice soft now. “I would gladly kill myself before I ever have to hurt my sons again after this. You wanted time? You got it. I will leave tomorrow morning and come back within a week. If you don’t want to move back to Delhi with our sons, I will make plans to live here in Allahabad.”
Khushi turned around then, her tears still running down her cheeks, her shock evident on her face. She carefully put down the plates back on the table and said, “You are leaving because of me?”
Arnav got up and came to her. He lifted her chin up and looked into her eyes, gently wiping the tears away from her cheeks and replied, “Yes Khushi, I am doing this for you. But I can’t let you or our sons get away from me ever again.”
She displaced his hand from her chin, “Why Arnav? Why do it? I know the kids are hurting right now, but they will hurt more if you leave them later. Is it not better if you leave them right now and never come back?”
“They’re my sons and you’re my wife. I can never turn my back upon you.” Arnav said, his anger rising. “You left me before without any reason and then hid my sons’ existence from me, Khushi. You should be glad I’m not forcing you to come back with me right this instant.”
“But you have one more son. And what about Aparna?” Khushi remained adamant. “I left you years back because I couldn’t digest the thought of you having lied to me. You had a past that you told me nothing about, yet you knew all about mine.”
She picked up the plates once more and went into the kitchen, Arnav following her. His anger rose as she spoke of the past. She had never asked him for any explanations. She knew nothing and yet had the nerve to pass judgment on him!!
As if encouraged by his silence, Khushi continued, “I had even thought you’d ask me for- for a d-divorce.” Her tongue slipped on the word. She hated the word as well as its meaning but it had to be said. “But you never did. Does Aparna not want to get married to you still? I am still agreeable to it you know, just as much as I was all those years back in my letter to you.”
Arnav remembered the letter he had received from her a month after her departure. That letter had nearly killed him. He had been on the verge of solving the entire mess that had been created by Aparna, but her letter had delayed things. She had left a note when she’d left, but where her note had upset him to the point of depression, her letter had angered him. How dare she ask for a divorce!! It had shattered him so much ! He had been so distracted by his sadness that he had ran his car into the tree and laid in the hospital for the next few months, struggling to stay alive. He would never let her go, and he hadn’t.
Now, he said, “I am giving you a week Khushi. I want your decision when I’m back. Tell the kids or better still I’ll leave them a letter.”
Khushi shook her head in denial at his offer. No good would come out of it, she was thinking.
She gasped as she was suddenly caught in Arnav’s arms from behind, with him growling, “Here or there, I will never let you go. Get used to the idea Khushi Singh Raizada. Tum meri thi, meri ho aur meri he rahogi, jitna main tumhara tha, hoon aur rahunga. Distance has not separated us, years haven’t and you know it.” He held her tighter, closer as he whispered, “We are Arnav and Khushi and we are meant to be together, until the day we die.”
Saying this, he let go of her abruptly and walked out of the kitchen, leaving Khushi prey to desire, love, nerves, anger, sadness and confusion.
When she woke up in the morning, Arnav was gone.
Khushi grumbled inwardly while she finished her work that evening. She was quite happy in the shop, talking to other people, doing business- and with quite a bit of profit too- basically happy to be away from the disturbing presence of Arnav Singh Raizada in her house. He was still in there somewhere, talking on the phone via his Bluetooth. It was one habit which irritated her then and did so still. She was still quaking from the aftermath of the effect of his embrace and his words.
“Make no mistake my wife, this time around I’m beside you and you will come home with me, even if I have to resort to other measures to do so.”
They were making her nervous; his words. She knew Arnav to be ruthless in getting what he wanted. She was wary of him and his moves right now. What she couldn’t understand was- and it was mighty frustrating- but she couldn’t understand why he wanted her sons when he had one of his own, with his ex-girlfriend.
As if her continuous thoughts were in sync with him, he came right in front of her and stood by her. She looked up at him and deep in her belly, a fire started burning. He lifted his hand and pushed a strand of hair away from her face, cupping her cheek. Khushi closed her eyes, knowing his intent, cursing her body for being so weak, so pliable in his hands. Her body tingled with anticipation as she felt him bending down. She felt his breath on her lips and then, the touch of his lips on hers. She was lost as he kissed her expertly, his hands molding her body to his.
When he let her go, Khushi could hardly stand up by herself. She held on to his the collar of his shirt and slowly opened her eyes. His stare made her gasp. It held well known tenderness and hunger that she remembered from the past. She tried to step away from him but he held her fast by the waist, pulling her closer if that was possible.
“I’m glad you haven’t forgotten.” When Khushi’s brows wrinkled in confusion, he smirked and tightened his hold on her waist. “that I love to kiss you senseless when we’re back together at the end of the day.”
Slow blush crept over Khushi’s cheeks as she remembered the days when their passion got the better of them once Arnav was back from work. There was no getting out of the bedroom until their hunger would sate a little. Only then would they join the rest of the household.
Arnav smirked at the small victory. He knew what she was thinking about- she was thinking about their times together, their evenings when passion ruled. Tender love making came later in the night, when they had had their fill of passion in the evenings. He had missed those evenings with an intensity all these years. Anger at the loss of time was still burning in his heart, but he was clever enough to know that now was not the time to show it.
“Where are the children?” He asked, moving away from her deliberately, giving her time to adjust her mind to the conversation.
“Er- they- they would be at Sarita’s place. They come back when I’ve closed shop. Sarita kind of – babysits them for me.” Khushi replied, slapping herself mentally. She should have remembered the children and used it as an escape instead of drowning into his eyes and that kiss!!!
“I’m not surprised to see you in a Mishthaan Bhandar and running it successfully. You always did have good business acumen and were a good halwai.”
“Well, I am a halwai’s daughter. What do you expect?” Said Khushi.
Arnav nodded in understanding and said, “And a businessman’s wife. I expect no less from you sweetheart.“
Before she could retort to that, he said, “I’m going to go upstairs into your room and take a shower. I can’t make do with the small bathroom in the guest room. I’m a little tired after back to back meetings today.” A devil prompted him to say, “You coming? “
Khushi glared at him. He simply grinned and said, “No? Alright then. I’ll make it quick and help you out with laying the table for dinner.”
Khushi snapped, “Koi zaroorat nahi hain. Hum khud kar lenge. I’ve been doing it by myself all these years and I can still do it, without your help.”
“Tch tch.. you’re angry. But you’re magnificent when you’re angry.” He winked and said, “I’ll be back soon.” making Khushi’s heart ache as he climbed up the stairs and disappeared into her room. She muttered “Laad Governer kahin ke!”
She slapped her forehead with her hand and mentally castigated herself within a few seconds. How could she have forgotten the kids? What if Aarush and Ayush had come back while they were still in each other’s embrace? It was horribly irresponsible of her to – to let Arnav kiss her like that.
As if the thought of kids had conjured them up, Aarush and Ayush came running into the house, screaming, “Mommy!!” The bright smile that she reserved for her kids came back on, as she hugged both her children.
Aarush looked around as he hugged her and asked, “Is- has he left?”
Khushi hid her pain for her children. They knew just as much as she did that he won’t stay forever, no matter what he said. He had his obligations somewhere else and sooner or later, they will call him. For the moment, it was important that she pacified the kids. She ruffled Aarush’s hair and said softly, “ He’s upstairs. He had a long day and he’s tired.”
Ayush’s mouth drooped. “So we can’t talk to him? He won’t play with us? I wanted him to help me with my homework.”
Aarush gave a snort, “Of course he won’t. Why would he? And Ayush, we don’t need him to entertain us either. We have Mommy who plays with us and helps us with our homework.”
Khushi couldn’t see Ayush so heart broken. She smiled at him and said, “You can ask him nicely if he will help you today. He’s very intelligent you know. But Aarush is right, and you know that, don’t you?” At Ayush’s reluctant nod, she continued, “We can’t let him stay with us. I had explained it to you guys earlier, had I not? He has other duties that must come before us. We have to understand that and let him go.”
“But I want him to be with us. He’s our father!” Ayush burst out, tears appearing in his eyes.
“Ayush, my son! I understand that, but you know we can’t – he can’t live with us.” Khushi desperately tried to make him understand.
A thought occurred to Khushi, but she hastily wiped it away from her mind. No, it was not possible. She was not the kind of woman to claim her right on him, even if he was her husband. He was first and foremost someone else’s father. That someone who needed Arnav more than anyone else, it was not his fault that he was born out of wedlock. Even if Arnav couldn’t see it, she could and she would never let any injustice happen to that child. She had her sons and they had her. They didn’t need him.
Aarush took Ayush by the hand and said, “Do you want to live with him, knowing Mommy will be alone? He will take us away from Mommy. What will we do then if he doesn’t love us ?”
Ayush shook his brother’s hand away, “I want a father and mother both, like all other children in my class. That is all I know!” and saying this, he ran into his room, sobbing. Aarush had tears in his eyes too, as he looked at his mother, “I want him too you know, but I will be strong for you.”
Khushi took him in her arms and hugged him, her heart breaking into two. She kissed him and said, “Go and change your clothes. I will lay the table for dinner. And help Ayush with changing too, will you?”
Aarush nodded and slowly went into his room. Khushi got up from where she had sat down and absently started laying the table in the dining room. Her thoughts were more tormented than ever. She was glad Arnav had not been a party to that scene. She had no clear idea what game he was playing, but she knew she couldn’t allow him to stay. Her sons will grow more attached to him if he stayed any longer than a day. What will she do then if they decided they will go with him and not stay with her? She trembled at the thought of life without her sons. NO! She wouldn’t let that happen.
Her hand stilled while she arranged the table mat on the table. Was she being unfair to them? By keeping Arnav away from his sons, was she actually doing injustice all around than just with Arnav and Aparna’s son?
She remembered the day she’d found out about Arnav’s son from his ex-girlfriend Aparna. Aparna and she had met quite by chance at a party and developed a slow friendship. Khushi knew that Aparna had a son; Vishal, who was physically disabled, but she had been shocked to hear that Aparna had not married.
Aparna had confided that though Vishal’s father was alive, she had no intention of approaching him. She came from a poor background and didn’t consider herself suitable enough for him. Khushi had cried for Aparna when she had been told, that Vishal’s father was a rich tycoon and married. She had tried to make Aparna see reason. Vishal’s increasing sullenness, his emptiness, his constant need for a man’s attention- all those things had upset her. Khushi, who belonged and believed in old ideas thought it unfair on the child to not have a father and tried to reason with Aparna.
But Aparna had been adamant- until the day she and Arnav met and Khushi’s world fell apart.
Khushi woke up in the morning and stretched herself with a smile on her face. The smile disappeared though the moment she realized where she was. She was in the drawing room, sleeping on the sofa. It took only a second for previous evening’s events to come back to her and she sat stiff on the sofa, wondering what would happen the next. What would she do if – heaven forbid- she found out that Arnav was serious about keeping the kids with him? Why was he doing this? What-
“I see you’re back to deep thinking. I missed you in bed.” The mocking drawl brought Khushi up short from her musings. Her heart gave a lurch as she saw Arnav standing on the stairs, his hair ruffled. Above his trousers, he was bare chested and looking as sexy as a handsome man could in the morning.
“Where can a man find spare towel in this house?” He asked coming to stand close to the sofa. Khushi scrambled on to her feet. Belatedly she realized that was a mistake, since now Arnav was very close to her, standing a mere inches away. Stammer took hold of her tongue as she said, “Y-y-you can find it in the cupboard below the stairs. I must rush, I need to wake the kids and get them ready for school.”
“School?” Arnav raised puzzled eyes from her body to her face.
Khushi’s face flamed at his blatant eye wandering but she kept her wits about her this time. She said, “They both are in play school right now. They will be in a proper primary school the next year.”
Saying so, she almost ran away from him, scared and at the same time annoyed with herself for being scared. Truth be told, she wasn’t scared of him, never had been much, but she was most certainly scared of her own reactions to him. Last evening had proved to her already how weak she was where Arnav was concerned. She couldn’t let him roughshod over her- not at any cost! Her life was set here, with her sons and he was not a part of it. A sadness welled in her at this thought but she fought it away with grim determination. Yes, he had no part in their lives. He had a son and long lost love with him and they were his life, not she and her sons.
She kept on chanting this thought in her mind, deliberately hurting herself inside as she got her sons ready. No body looking at her getting her sons ready for school could say that she was not cheerful.
She packed the lunch boxes into their bags and filled their water bottles, looking disheveled. Although the day was only beginning, she felt as if she’d been up for hours and yet, she had been neat an hour back, when she’d bathed and dressed. But that’s what happens when you run behind kids, thought she with a smile. As Aayush tried to ruffle his hair, Khushi automatically reached down and smoothed his hair back into position. He groaned and glared at her but didn’t say anything and Khushi smiled wide. “Okay now, you’re sure you’ve got everything needed for today?”
“Sure Mommy!” Cried both
“How sure?” Khushi raised her eyebrows and asked naughtily. This was their daily routine and they all loved it.
“Two thousand times sure.” They replied back, grinning.
Khushi gave them both a smacking kiss on their cheeks and said, “Alright, time to scram. Go, go, go!”
Both the kids rushed out as Savita hollered from outside. It was her turn today to take her daughter and Khushi’s sons to playschool. But something weird happened then, that Khushi had not expected.
They turned back, and looked around. Khushi looked at them, puzzled. And then, she felt Arnav behind her. She turned to look at him, her breath nearly catching in her throat. Arnav had just taken a shower and had a towel round his waist. Save that, he was all man in his glory; water clinging at places on his body and his hair. A wave of desire rose inside Khushi but she stemmed it immediately, knowing if Arnav saw it, he’d take his chance.
Arnav came to stand beside her. In an instant, the kids came to him. Aarush was a little slow but Ayush had no such doubts. He flung himself in Arnav’s arms as Arnav bent to hold him. A hug and a kiss was given to Ayush and then, not wanting to be left out, Aarush also came forward to be hugged and kissed. Arnav ruffled their hair and said, “Get going dudes. See you later!”
Aarush looked at him intently, “You’ll be here? You won’t go away?”
Aranv nodded his head and said, “Yes, I’ll be here.”
“Good. I want to show you my books when I come back.” Said Aarush and then they both went off.
To say that Khushi was astounded was an understatement. Her sons were so much like him, and them together like this—it made Khushi very emotional; emotional and scared. She had almost cried when Arnav had hugged Ayush and Aarush with love. No one could doubt his love for them or their acceptance of him; and yet they’d only met yesterday evening. She knew Aarush was still hesitant but Ayush – he had accepted his father in his life completely. Oh, to be a child and accept everyone unconditionally!
It scared Khushi; this feeling. Feeling wary of his next move, she moved a little away from him. As it was, she could smell the spicy notes of his aftershave; she knew he preferred The One from D&G. She remembered the time when he’d put it on and smile his shark smile. She loved kissing him after he’d put it on; loving the scent of it on him and then rubbing on to her. They’d always ended up in bed. She gulped and tried to not stare but couldn’t help herself.
“I’m your husband Khushi. It is your right to look at my body and covet every inch of it, but when you do that, I can’t resist you- you know that.”Arnav’s husky reminder put Khushi back on alert, with her nose and cheeks going red.
She turned around so that her back faced his front and said, “Go, get dressed. I need to open shop. You can go now, back to where you came from.”
In a millisecond, she was caught by her shoulders and turned around, to face an angry Arnav.
“I told you yesterday night what I wanted and what I meant to do. In case you had any doubts, let me repeat Khushi Singh Raizada. I’m your husband-legally wedded husband and it is my legal right to see to it that my wife and kids are with me.”
“Wh-what are you talking about? Surely you can’t be serious Arnav!” Khushi tried to get free of his hold, “Chhodiye humain!”
“Not happening.” He said and pulled her closer to him. When Khushi pushed him, he let her go for a second. In the next instant, Khushi was upside down, like a sack of potatoes on his shoulder. She pummeled his back with blows, saying, “Put me down this instant Arnav Singh Raizada.. or else!”
“OR else?” Arnav’s chuckle reverberated through her backside as he held her firmly and walked upstairs.
With each step, Khushi’s breathing got faster. What was he doing? Where was he taking her? Surely not— !!! HE wouldn’t dare! She fumed and growled, “You put me down now! This is not your house, samjhe aap!”
Arnav had almost reached Khushi’s room when she spoke. He stopped immediately and put her down. Her words had cut him but he didn’t let it show. She tried to turn away from him but he caught her again by the waist and pulled her close to him. There was not a single part of his body that wasn’t demanding release at this time, yet his heart was hurting. His amber eyes were icy now with anger as he looked into her eyes and saw her flinching, her body in his arms, trembling.
He said, “Khushi Singh Raizada, yes- this is not my house but it isn’t yours either. Your house is with me- in New Delhi. Your home is Shanti Van, not this two floored building. I will make sure you learn some obedience before we go back.” Khushi opened her mouth to refute but he merely said, “Make no mistake my wife, this time around I’m beside you and you will come home with me, even if I have to resort to other measures to do so.”
“What are you trying to tell me?” asked a horrified Khushi. Her mind seemed to have seized up to understand the implications of his statement. Surely he didn’t mean what she thought he meant?
“You heard me well Khushi Singh Raizada. I’m not going to divorce you. What’s more, I want you where I can see you, with my sons.” Arnav walked towards her, his stride determined.
Khushi was almost hysterical. She thought, this is the same old cat and mouse game; he moves ahead and I behave like a scared mouse, moving back. Indeed, she had already started taking a step back with each of his advancing steps. She looked up and saw mockery in his eyes.
“When will you stop stepping back the moment I step forward? I’m not going to eat you Khushi… at least not yet. I do remember how much you like it when I – eat you.” That last bit came out in a husky voice, desire clouding his eyes as if he remembered the taste of her.
Khushi’s eyes widened at this passionate onslaught of words on her senses. She gasped as her back felt the wall against her. With nowhere else to go, she stood rooted to the spot, her eyes following Arnav as he moved towards her. Soon he was close, very close. She gasped as he lifted his hand and trailed his finger across her lips, his eyes intense with passion.
“S-stop.” Khushi whispered, but her throat closed up as he bent and she felt his breath on her face.
“Make me.” Arnav whispered back before taking her lips with his own. Khushi’s moan died on her lips as his mouth captured hers, demanding passion. Unable to control her bodily reactions, Khushi responded back, giving kiss for a kiss.
Arnav deepened the kiss and groaned her name. It had been so long since he had tasted her mouth and yet it felt as if no time had passed at all. Their bodies moulded to each other like they had never parted. Somewhere in Arnav’s mind this truth rang a bell. It was true after all- not a single moment had gone by in all these years when he hadn’t missed her, when he hadn’t wanted her. He silently vowed to never let her go away from him again. Whatever her reasons, once she told him about it, he would find a solution to their problems and forever be with her and their sons.
Slowly he lifted his lips from hers, gazing at her closed eyes. She looked so much at peace in his arms; he saw smugly. She would be, he thought- that’s where she belongs. She opened her eyes and he smiled at her.
Khushi opened her eyes slowly, still caught in the web of passion. Arnav was the only man in this Universe who could make her forget everything and everyone. Nothing had changed between them physically at least. She still adored the way he kissed her, she wanted him to continue until they were both one once again and he filled her with is seed.
His seed- her sons!! Khushi’s eyes grew wide in dismay this time as she remembered them, too late. She looked up at Arnav, disgust for herself and her lack of control apparent in her eyes. Arnav’s smile slipped from his face, leaving it cold as he saw the revulsion on her face. He mistook it for disgust at him and yet, he couldn’t let her go.
“Let me go, please Arnav.” Khushi pleaded quietly and Arnav immediately let her go this time. His heart ached at the pain he saw in her eyes. He wanted to shout out that he had never betrayed her, had never wanted anyone else but her, but he kept quiet. Time enough for all that. Right now, his main object was to get her back with him and take her home with their children; take her where it was her right to belong.
“How could you?” Khushi asked, her heart broken. It wasn’t that she didn’t want him or his kisses. Indeed, nothing would make her more happy than to spend her life with him. But how could she forget that there were more people involved in this case than just him and her? How could she forget the other woman and her son that was Arnav’s son as well? How could HE forget that? Jealousy tore her heart apart; did he kiss that woman too the way he kissed her, with so much passion?
“It is very simple.” Arnav said, his tone amused. “I put my lips on yours and we kiss. You enjoyed it too Khushi and you’re my wife. Who else would I kiss if not you?”
“Not me. I don’t want you to ever touch me again. Go and get your lust sated by someone who enjoys your attention. As far as I remember, you had no problems forgetting that I was your wife before.” Khushi said angrily, moving away from him. Trust him to turn the knife where it hurt the most. Who else indeed?
“Khushi—“ Arnav turned her around and took her arm firmly in his grip. She struggled but he held her firm. He tipped her chin up and she met his eyes. They were cold and dark, as the night in summer, gleaming with some emotion Khushi couldn’t define.
“Just go away Arnav and leave us alone. We were much happier without you and we will be again when you leave us. Get out of my house and never come back again.” Khushi met his eyes and quailed at the look in them.
He inched closer and growled, “Get this firmly in your mind wife. I’m not letting you and my sons get away from me. And you had better get yourself used to me around.”
He let her go abruptly, moving away from her and looking interestedly around the room, “It has been a long day for me. I travelled from Lucknow for a meeting here. I need to take a shower and sleep. I’m guessing- but I think the bed room is upstairs, with a view of the garden ?”
Khushi gaped at him. Then shaking her head as if to bring sense back, she gritted her teeth, “You have no room in my house. If you want to sleep, go somewhere else. There must be a decent hotel who’ll take you in.”
Arnav turned to her, amusement gleaming in his eyes. His tone was silky as he asked, “Where else should I go and why? I am your husband and I will sleep with you.”
Saying this, he quickly moved to the stairs before Khushi could get words out of her mouth and disappeared along the corridor and rightly, into her room.
“I’m waiting for an explanation Khushi. You left me with a bread and water note and no explanations. You’d better have a good excuse- for leaving me and keeping the identity of my sons from me.”
Khushi flinched as she faced Arnav sitting on the long worn sofa in her modest house. She supposed she could be thankful that he had not raised the subject sooner- in the presence of the boys. She reflected upon the evening that had been spent together with the boys.
Arnav had behaved impeccably in front of boys so that they had started melting towards him little by little. She had also realized by the end of the evening that no matter how hard they wanted to believe they didn’t like their father, it wasn’t true. She had seen it in the way they had looked at him when they were talking amongst themselves about some car they had seen the previous day and wondered which brand and model it must have been. They normally didn’t involve Khushi or asked her questions on this particular topic since she was quite ignorant of such things. They despaired that for their mother all cars were the same- simply cars. The only distinction she granted them was–all cars were either big cars or small cars, wide cars or narrow cars.
Arnav had quietly listened to the boys talking about the car amongst themselves and stated the right model and brand apparently when they described it to him. The boys had looked at him with new found interest and smiled together. Khushi realized belatedly that the boys had already known the make and model of the car but were testing him. Apprently Arnav had passed the test and they had hesitantly but firmly started a conversation on cars. That had been the beginning of the non-stop talk about cars between Arnav Singh Raizada and his sons.
She had felt envy at the ease with which Arnav and their sons had bonded and had felt guilty for feeling so. It was only fair that she gave all of them their due. After not knowing their father for so long, the kids would be naturally curious to know more about him. As for Arnav, she could see him bewitched with her-their sons and smiling at them. For Khushi, he had no smiles.
The atmosphere had been strained between them at the dinner table until as usual, the boys had started acting up. It was always a bit of a tussle between her and boys when it came to food.
“But Mommy I don’t like this subzi! Can I not have some stuffed paranthas? Or why can’t I simply eat chocolate for dinner? “
“Ayush, chocolate is for after dinner, not for dinner and you know it very well. If you want to grow tall and look handsome, you’d have to eat healthy.” Khushi had tried explaining and then after a look at Arnav said, “Look at your father. Ask him if he likes this subzi and he’ll tell you it helped him grow tall and handsome.”
Both the kids had looked at him and Arnav had nearly choked on his food, while Khushi had almost smiled. She knew that if he was honest he could tell them that he hated French Beans too and would definitely prefer Paranthas. However to her surprise, he had meekly agreed and given his positive voice to her opinion.
After that episode, Aarush had stayed quiet throughout dinner; eating what was put in front of him and looking at Arnav as if he couldn’t stop himself. Khushi could read doubt and anger both in her son’s eyes but she knew he would be unable voice them out loud so soon. Khushi prayed Arnav would be on his way; away from them all soon and she would sit down to explain everything to the boys.
The boys had quickly followed the daily regime and gone off to sleep, but not before Ayush had caught hold of Khushi’s hand and asked her, “Is he going to stay Mommy?”
Before Khushi could have replied back, she heard her elder son say, “Why is he here Mommy? He looked angry every time you spoke to us or to him. Is he going to take you away from us?”
Khushi had held both her sons in her arms and assured them that no one and nothing could take her away from them. She could see that they weren’t fully assured but they took her reply as the final word for now. They had taken longer than usual to sleep and Khushi herself had felt exhausted after reading two bedtime stories.
And yet she sat there, opposite him while he demanded an explanation. And just like that, Khushi became angry.
“You want me to give you a reason for keeping my sons away from you? How dare you Arnav ! You should be thankful that I left you when I did and let you sort your life out. What do you care why I left you and kept my sons away from you?”
“Our sons Khushi. They are mine too.” Arnav replied, keeping a tight rein on his temper.
“And if I remember correctly, you also have one more son. I should have thought you would be happy enough to let things be. In fact I more than welcome the idea of our divorce. I’m sure your ex-girlfriend would want to become your present wife as much as I want to become your ex-wife.”
Khushi’s reply cut Arnav to the bone but he kept quiet on this front. There was a lot more to that story than Khushi knew and he didn’t really want to get into it all right now. It touched a painful cord in his heart and his anger abated for a few moments. From her perspective, he could see reasons- reasons due to which she may have decided to leave him. Khushi had always been foolhardy. She’d believe anything and do anything for the happiness of others- even if she had to sacrifice her own happiness.
While he knew where she came from, a part of him still couldn’t forgive her for the fact that she had had their sons all by herself and kept them from him. His anger returned and so did his determination.
All of his attention was on his sons; his flesh and blood. At the same time he couldn’t deny that a part of him was also very attentive towards Khushi. Right from the first moment when he’d seen her on the road, his body had leaped with want. He’d ignored that as foolishness then. But when she’d looked at his sons lovingly, he’d felt a pang of envy. He wanted her to look at him the way she used to- with want, with love.
He found to his shock that all these years had had no effect on how much he desired her. When their eyes had met on the dinner table, he had seen the reflection of his want in her eyes and burned with it. It had made him angry enough to not look at her again. Even now, he found it difficult to keep his eyes away from her fidgeting form. If he gave way to his primal instincts, Khushi would be on her back right now with him plunging deep into her.
He moved to hide the signs of arousal, annoyed with himself and with her. His gaze, when it met hers, pierced her; his voice cold, as he advanced towards her, “You may wish for anything but the fact remains that you are my wife and will remain so. I’m not divorcing you Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada. Not now, not ever.”