After much thinking and consideration, I’ve decided that the story has indeed ended and it is time for a new plot of come forth. So I give you the epilogue. Hope you enjoy the new story coming soon! In the meanwhile, don’t forget to read “LOVE CONQUERS” on the other blog: http://amateurstorywriter.wordpress.com/
The ordinary girl’s extraordinary affair turned into a full-fledged wedding affair soon afterwards. Khushi acquiesced to his request and accepted his proposal of marriage after about six months of him formally courting her, with the permission of her father and her grandmother. During these six months, Arnav went to London every month for a weekend to oversee his business interests that were being handled efficiently by his team there.
Once such weekend, he brought along Anjali and Dean who were overjoyed to see the happiness that surrounded Arnav and Khushi. Khushi urged Anjali to stay back for a bit and help her out with the house they were furnishing in Nainital. Anjali, happy to be included in her brother’s life welcomed the request and stayed back for a week. Khushi hired her long-time gardener friend in Nainital to landscape her garden and was very happy with the result. Her garden was now exactly like her life was- green and blooming.
During these six months, she also went to London twice with Arnav; once to help Anjali shop for her trousseau and the second time to attend Anjali and Dean’s wedding. Khushi was welcomed by Arnav’s friends in London very warmly. She stayed at his house and declared that she loved it as much as their house in Nainital.
After much thinking, they finally decided to stay put in London after the wedding, where Arnav’s current base was, with bi-yearly visits to Nainital. It was only once this decision was made that Arnav went ahead to officially ask for Khushi’s hand from her father.
During all the traditional customs that had to be followed before the wedding ceremony itself, he had had a hard time keeping his hands off Khushi. He had been able to meet her and touch her during the Roka ceremony, the Shanti Hawan ceremony, the Sangeet and Mehandi ceremony as well as the Haldi ceremony. Hell, they’d even been able to steal some private time together and some kisses with the help of his cousins.
It had been complete torture when he had been ordered to not meet Khushi or talk to her for 24 hours before the wedding, after the Haldi ceremony. He had been annoyed at all these customs that had to be followed but as his family had tried to explain it to him; it was something Khushi wished for. So – despite his frustration, Arnav patiently waited it out.
They had a grand wedding in New Delhi where Arnav and Khushi got married in the traditional Indian style. Khushi wore a lehanga in red, her figure showing to the advantage and Arnav all but fell at her feet then. She was a radiant bride, with joy of her love shining on her face. When she joined him at the wedding mandap, their love was in their eyes for everyone to see. He wondered how in the world she’d called herself ordinary and how had he ever thought he’d be able to live without her. She was one of the most extraordinary people he’d ever known- in fact she was the only one who mattered to him in his life from now on.
Now that the wedding was over and he was officially her husband, he wanted nothing more than to carry his bride away from everyone and make love to her. But there were still some more customs to be followed. He sighed, he must be yet be patient.
He looked around with satisfaction as their family and friends laughed and chatted away while attending the wedding reception. Anjali and Dean were on the top of the world; not just because Arnav had finally settled down but also because after coming to Nainital, they had discovered that Anjali was about to have a baby. They were both happy and Arnav couldn’t have asked for anything better to happen to his beloved big sister.
Aakash and Payal were enjoying themselves now that all the problems were solved and Aakash was able to take time off business. Arnav suspected another baby in the making there. Mrs and Mrs Gupta along with their mother, senior Mrs. Gupta were joyous that both their daughters were happily married and had loving husbands. Senior Mrs Gupta gifted Arnav and Khushi her Nainital estate as their wedding gift. Khushi had been overwhelmed at this gesture and invited Mrs Gupta to visit them soon in London.
Arnav Singh Raizada was still full of arrogance but he knew the boundaries that limited his arrogance. Smirking at the thought of beautifully decked Khushi waiting for him in the bedroom, he thanked the guests as they took their leave. Arnav who thought he couldn’t ever be bothered to fall in love looked up at the stars and thanked the mighty powers for bringing him such happiness. Then he proceeded to the room where his newly wedded bride awaited him.
I wish to thank all my readers who have encouraged me in writing this Fan Fiction based on Arnav and Khushi. Do read the other story NOT based on Arnav and Khushi but a love story nevertheless on my other blog romanceandstories.wordpress.com.
Awaiting your comments. In the meanwhile, do enjoy the chapter and let me know how you like it. 😉 Cheers!
It was almost ten minutes before he had come back to the table, with their orders on a tray. Khushi had been ready with her reply on the tip of her tongue earlier but now she tripped.
“What took you so long? “ Asked Khushi
Arnav wiped his hands on his khakhi pants. The vulnerable look in his eyes was something Khushi was coming to know well. He was nervous. Who’d have thought there’d be a time when the arrogant and “I-am-always-right” Mr Arnav Singh Raizada would show his vulnerability?
“Err- to be honest I was plucking courage to come back. I need to ask you what your decision is going to be before I gulp anything down my throat and choke.” His eyes look on the look of a man who was drowning and looking at his saviour with hope of being saved.
“Khushi, I know I am looking for forgiveness from the woman that I hurt beyond forgiving. I don’t know if you can ever forgive me. I haven’t been able to forgive myself for my stupidity and cruelty! All I know is that since the day I realized my mistake, since the day you left me I ached for you until I knew I would go out of my mind if I didn’t come here to beg you to forgive me, take me back.”
Khushi looked down at her hands, searching for the right words to speak. She knew he was sorry, but she was not sure if he really loved her as much as she loved him. What if he changed his mind? Could she take that risk again? She wanted to very badly say yes and forget about what had happened earlier but a side of her brain that was sensible, kept on pulling her back. She had her decision ready and she knew what she was going to say. She looked up at him and said, “Arnav, I believe you. I believe you when you say you’re sorry. I can’t easily forgive and forget everything that has happened between us in the past. The bitter words were too bitter for me to simply spit out of my mind you know.
I know that there are many things that were against me, starting with your own prejudice that had originated from your own past experiences. You had declared then that you had only ever felt lust for me, not love—even – even when I-I-“ she took a deep breath and continued,” I had known that I loved you. A part of me died the day you told me you didn’t return my feelings. When you told me a few days back that you had lied to me, to yourself; that you were always in love with me, I rejected your statement out of hand.”
Arnav held his breath. He wanted to hold her in his arms, ask her what she thought now about his declaration, what she felt about his love for her. If he could die a thousand deaths for all the pain he gave her, he still wouldn’t forgive himself. She sounded so dejected.
A fear took hold of his heart. Did she still not believe him? She said that she had forgiven him but then, that was Khushi, wasn’t it? She would forgive a murderer if she found a single clue that the guy had some sort of goodness in him. Personally speaking, he didn’t think this lifetime would suffice for what he wished to do to get her forgiveness. But he needed her love; he wanted to love her in return. He wanted to make her happy. His insides were quivering with anxiety but Arnav kept a calm front. He took Khushi’s hand in his and squeezed it gently. Slowly he looked up into her eyes and asked, “And now Khushi? What do you feel now? Do you still don’t believe me?”
Khushi looked up at him, her doe eyes swimming with tears. She put her other hand on his and said, “I’m scared Arnav. I gave you myself completely the last time and you almost shattered me to bits. I trusted you with my life and you simply threw it all away. I recovered the last time with great difficulty.. maybe am still not completely recovered. If you ever break my heart again, I will not be able to make it. What if you don’t trust me again? What if I am unable to trust you again? This is what scares me Arnav. You say you l-love me now—but what if you change your mind again? You had said earlier that you felt you were falling in love with me, you trusted me but then, you changed. What if you d-did that again?”
Arnav closed his eyes as self-loathing and disgust took hold of him. If only he could take back all those things he’d said to her! He opened them again as he felt the pressure of her hands on his own and looked into her eyes.
He groaned, “I will do anything to prove my love for you Khushi. Today was just a small example of how it can be between us once again. I promise you I shall never hurt you again Khushi. You once told me love needs no proof. I can see you love me just as you can see I love you. It is there in our eyes.”
“What about trust, Arnav? Love can’t breathe a single moment of happiness without trust.”
His dark amber eyes were pooled with liquid honey. A tear slowly made its way out of his eye. He took a deep breath and said, “Look at me Khushi. Gone is that Arnav Singh Raizada who was an asshole, who was ruled by his past and his bitterness. You brought light into my life Khushi. I never realized how bitter I had been with my life until you made it better, my love. Gone is that Arnav who simply demanded your love, without knowing its true value.
Today the Arnav that stands before you is the one who has given himself up completely to you. I trust you with my being Khushi. You are a part of my soul, my heart, my life that I can’t dream of living without. I have done great wrong to you and I am aware of it. I told you before and am again saying it today. If you still feel I’m not worthy of your love, of your trust—I- I am ready to let you go. If that is the price I have to pay to see you happy, if you can be happy without me in your life, I – will let you go. If however you give me a chance, I swear to you, Arnav Singh Raizada will leave no stone unturned to keep you happy. Let the next few days prove it.”
Arnav shuddered as he said this, as if a great evil shadow had taken hold of his soul. His eyes grew bleak as he looked at Khushi who had her head down and was mute. He felt dead inside. Pain was a constant raging roar in his head now, his heart beating him for having lost the only thing in life that could have brought him peace. He closed his eyes to absorb his pain within himself and slowly got up.
“I think your silence has answered my question. I-I love you Khushi and I will accept your decision. I only wish for you to be happy. I hope that- that –“he almost broke down but bravely continued, “I- I hope that you will be happy where ever you are, whoever you are with. I will learn to be happy for you and shall not bother you ever again.”
“Why?” Khushi still didn’t look at him. Arnav looked at her, puzzled, “Why what Khushi?”
“Why will you not bother me ever again? Will it give you joy to see me with another man? Will you be happy to see me become some man’s wife, his love?” Khushi asked him as she slowly looked up. Tears were streaming down her face. Arnav groaned and caught her in his arms. She went into them willingly, silently still crying. Sniffing, she asked him again. “Tell me Arnav Singh Raizada. Why would you be happy to see me with someone else if you love me so much? Why?”
“Khushi- I- I-“It was a moment where Arnav found his tongue wouldn’t move. It was stuck and his throat had closed. He tried again, “Khushi, are you telling me-“
Khushi moved away from him with great reluctance and looked around for her bag that had her handkerchief. She hiccupped and said, “I can’t talk here. Let’s take our Cappuccinos and get out of here. Take me somewhere else where we can talk.”
Arnav silently picked up both the paper cups and lead her out, “come with me love. I know just the place.” His voice had started gaining some confidence. His heart was ready to leap out of his chest with joy as his brain had got back into gear, trying to make sense of what Khushi was trying to say. Hope filled his heart to the maximum but he was scared too. Maybe she was only trying to be nice and say something nice, maybe she was not at all saying what he thought she was.
They left Khushi’s Scooty pep in the parking. Arnav led her to his car and opened the door for her to get in. Khushi quietly got in, her face down. Arnav got in and put on their seat belts. Khushi had her face averted from him. He was unable to bear it; he couldn’t see his Khushi crying. Gently, he took hold of both her shoulders and moved her face towards him.
“Khushi, please don’t cry. I respect your decision, even if it means I will have to spend the rest of my life alone, with only your memories surrounding me. I can’t bear to see you cry honey.”
“Damn you, Arnav Singh Raizada! I am giving you my decision NOW!” Khushi spoke vehemently, making Arnav fall back in shock. Khushi sniffed as she continued, “Prove to me in the next couple of days that you will be Arnav that you are right now and won’t turn into the beast that hurt me badly. I-I need this Arnav who is right now sitting beside me, the one that trusts me and loves me; what’s more is, I can see his love for me reflecting in his eyes. Prove to me you won’t change and I’ll be with you all my life, past forgotten.” Khushi looked at him while she said this; hiccupping and her eyes full of tears.
The light of hope that had been flickering until a few seconds ago now burned bright in Arnav’s heart. With her statement, his whole demeanour changed. He was the confident Arnav again; his eyes reflecting his happiness as he looked at her,
Arnav started the car and looked at her, his face beaming with a smile joyful enough to melt Khushi on the spot, “To the place where I hope we will be able to plan the next few days now that you’re giving me a chance to be with you again.”
Khushi wanted to ask more but kept quiet for once. She knew he would need to focus on his driving. They soon reached the house that Arnav had bought for Khushi. Khushi squinted at it in the darkness. “Where are we Arnav? What place is this?”
Arnav’s quiet, “Trust me Khushi.” had her head turning to him.
He honked the horn of the car twice. Suddenly there were lights being switched on in the house and outside. Khushi gasped as she looked around. It was a lovely house from the outside. She turned to look at him, “Who’s house is this Arnav? “
Arnav turned to look at her, his amber eyes all fired up with wariness as he said, “ Ours, if you want us to live here.”
Khushi gaped at him, her mouth open. “O-ours?”
“If at the end of this fortnight, you think you can honour me by becoming my wife, and if you wish to live here, this will be our home.”
A loud gasp escaped her even though she tried to control it. “You are asking me to marry you?”
Arnav bowed his head in acquiescence, a rueful smile on his lips,“again. I know that this time I want to do things properly. We will get engaged when you deem the time to be correct and then get married. I want the happy ever after with you Khushi.”
“Oh Arnav.” Khushi all but threw her arms around him. God she did love this man and nothing, no bitterness, no anger could ever wipe this love she had for him; she was sure. A part of her brain warned her though, if she wanted to stand firm on her ground, she should go slow. So she smiled tenderly and leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek. A mischievous part of her urged her to say, “Thank you for this gesture and the proposal. I shall reply to it when the time is right, as you said.”
Arnav grinned, back in full mode as Arnav Singh Raizada and Khushi felt herself being pulled by the strings of desire. She leaned forward too and kissed her quick on the lips. “To give me the strength to hold back until you finally say yes firmly and unequivocally.” He explained innocently and Khushi burst out laughing. “Let us go and look inside. I want to see what kind of house you have bought for me.” She looked up at him, her heart in her eyes.
Posting it today without proofing it. Please ignore typos, if you find any. 🙂 Enjoy the sizzle and don’t forget to like and comment! 🙂
Arnav leaned in as Khushi placed her lips on his own. Khushi felt him quiver as he joined in, softly stroking his lips over hers, easing their positions and taking them both into a kiss that was thrilling to say the least. It was pure seduction. She opened her heart and body to the sensations being caused by this kiss, the intoxication of their kiss, the heat that spread to all parts of her body like smooth liqueur. Her mind boggled at the idea; a kiss was causing so much havoc on her senses, his tongue slowly slipping inside her mouth and tasting her. He went slow, as if allowing her the freedom to break off yet kissed her with exquisiteness that was wordless in nature. Khushi felt as if she was dancing, their lips performing to the play of erotic music playing in their hearts.
She opened her mouth wider, answering his need to explore her mouth further while she made an exploration of his mouth on her own, joining this two-step dance. She felt the shivers of desire, sweet and fiery running through her being, making her lift her toes up to reach his mouth properly. Together they shaped their mouths to each other’s, lost in each other.
Arnav lifted his head after what seemed like an eternity and slipped his hands slowly, to caress her shoulders, barely skimming over the breasts and finally settled on the belt of her dressing gown. He groaned when he let the belt of her dressing gown loose.
“You’re not wearing anything underneath! You sleep in the nude?”
Khushi gulped, swallowed, “It was too hot and I wanted cool sheets against my body.”
Arnav laughed softly, “For all your shyness Khushi Kumari Gupta, you don’t realise yet that you’re a sensualist. I’m glad for this since I myself love the foreplay before love making. Our senses need the release much before our body, hmm?”
His amber eyes caught fire as he bit on her ear lobe and whispered in her ear, making goose bumps erupt all over her body, “ I want to see you Khushi. My eyes want to join this feast that the hands and body are enjoying. Will you-?”
In reply, Khushi curled her hand around the sprinkles of hair on his chest and bent down to kiss the area just below his shoulder, making him shudder in response. “Yes.”
Her breath caught in her throat as she felt him slide the dressing gown off her body, his hands still by her waist. The fabric slowly slid down her body, finally pooling at her feet. Khushi was now completely naked in front of him, in the dark, with her heart racing and her pulses galloping. Her legs trembled. Had it not been for Arnav’s hands on her waist, she may have fallen down.
Arnav stroked her cheek with one hand, then slowly traced the path from her cheek to her throat and across her breasts. Khushi let herself go back on his other arm and his hand continued with its exploration. Slowly it crossed over her breasts, skimming on her already tight bud nipples, trailing down her waist and hips, as if on a path to exploration. Then slowly it moved up again, this time cupping one breast, feeling its weight in his hand and brushing his thumb over her light coloured, tight nipple. Khushi moaned his name softly.
He whispered, “You are so beautiful Khushi. I could look at you for ever. I could touch you all the time. Lord, how did I ever control myself around you!”
Khushi’s blood hummed with heat; the heat of arousal. He bent his head and kissed her breasts, first one and then the other, his tongue at first stroking gently and then, lapping up. As if he couldn’t control his hunger any more, he enveloped her nipples one by one into the dark, hot cavern of his mouth and sucked on them hard.
Khushi clutched at his head, his hair as if she’d been electrocuted by live wire. She steadied herself with her hands on his shoulders as he continued his assault on her senses, repeatedly saying her name. He looked up, straight into her eyes and said,
“Are you sure Khushi? I will not be able to stop if we don’t—“
Khushi put a finger on his lips, her eyes smouldering, “I think we should go inside.” She shivered in his arms, “I feel too exposed standing out here, in the cool air.”
Arnav looked into her eyes and straightened up. “You’re right.” Just then cool breeze stirred the lock of his hair that fell across his forehead. Khushi’s hands smoothed the lock. “I’d always wanted to do that.” She said, her eyes alight with laughter.
Arnav laughed softly, “You minx.” He kissed her quickly on her lips once and then lifted her up in his arms. He was so strong! He picked her up as if she weighed nothing. She revelled in the sensations he created in her body, her heart. It caught her close to his chest as if she was his precious cargo and he’d never let her go. Khushi would her arms around his neck, nuzzling it.
“Khushi, behave yourself or I will not be responsible. Right now, I am exerting great control so that we may reach the bedroom at least. I also need to pick something up from my bedroom.”
“What?” Khushi asked as he moved ahead, his strides quick and confident. He went into his bedroom and the drawer of his table, taking out some packets. Khushi coloured as she reached what they were. Condoms.
“We need to be safe, eh?” Arnav looked at her, delighted to see her blushing and kissed her, “I can make love to you right here. Do you mind?”
Khushi looked at him and shyly said, “I want us to go into my bedroom, if that’s alright with you.”
Arnav groaned and said, “Torturing minx! Why not here?”
“-because my room is filled with moonlight Mr Raizada. Take me there.”
He shuddered as she spoke, kissing his mouth impulsively. Khushi loved this power she had over him. She had no idea before of how vulnerable he was to her touch. Was this what they called physical power of attraction over another person? If that was the case, she liked it very much; especially overpowering Arnav and making him need her so much. She grinned and slid her hand down over his chest, his chest hair tickling her palm. Slowly she turned her mouth towards his ear and whispered in it, “I want to see you too Arnav.”
He gave a mock growl in reply that was accompanied by his crooked smile, “As you wish Miss Gupta.”
They reached her bedroom that was filled with moonlight. She had left the curtains of her window open, giving them a view of the dark sea not too far away.
He laid her on the bed and went back to the door, locking it. “No one will disturb us even in the morning if we want now.” He grinned as he turned the key into lock while Khushi raised her eyebrows.
“This is your house, right? What’s the big need to lock the door?”
“Mrs De’Souza comes early to clean the house and make breakfast, so I must ensure we don’t get disturbed. Just in case, you know.”
Khushi grinned as she lay on the bed, one elbow supporting her head as she leaned on it. “SO?”
Arnav became brazen then, his amber eyes on fire, and making Khushi quiver on the bed. She watched nervously now, as he slowly reached to the zipper of his jeans. She turned red as she realised, he wore no shorts, no briefs underneath. He lowered his zipper so slow that Khushi felt she’d explode with desire building up inside her. Looking at her, he took them off and tossed them on the chair by the writing desk. Her mouth went dry as she watched him come to her, naked, all male. He tossed the packets on to the bedside table and reached for her.
She stared at him, her mouth hanging open, her cheeks red and her desire burning on a high flame. She felt naïve and totally unprepared now that he was ready to take things further. Panic flared in her mind even as her body craved fulfilment. It was all right to talk about being bold and moving on with what you want but was she really that brave? It looked as if her shyness had found a way back into her as she wondered what to do next.
Arnav came up to her and then smiled, “Khushi, had you ever seen a naked man before?”
Khushi tried to find her voice but failed. She simply shook her head, acknowledging her innocence and ignorance. Arnav’s eyes grew tender as she sat on the edge of the bed. Slowly he took her hand in his and looked into her eyes, “I am glad.”
Khushi looked at him, her eyes wide, “You are?”
Arnav slowly moved her hair away from her shoulder as he said softly, “Call me old fashioned or a hypocrite but I am glad I’ll be your first lover.” Feeling her tremble, his voice grew husky, “I want to be your only lover Khushi.”
Khushi closed her eyes as sensations took precedence and all thoughts flew out of the window. She shifted a little to give him more room. He lay down now, turning on her side, drawing her against him. Khushi felt her whole body burn as she felt skin touching skin, his naked body against hers. She nestled her face by his shoulder and breathed in his scent, this closeness intoxicating her senses, giving her a feeling of being drunk. She was drunk- drunk on passion.
“Tell me what you like about this situation, with us together, skin against skin.” Arnav asked her. Khushi blushed fiery red at his question. Arnav raised one eyebrow, “Is this the same girl who can talk nineteen to a dozen about each situation and is yet shying away from talking about her feelings today?” His fingers danced on her skin, moving around her neck and then her back.
“I’m not shy!” Khushi looked up, indignant into his eyes and then dropped her own, “I’m-I-don’t know what you mean by it.”
Arnav caught her chin in his hand and looked at her, a smile evident on his face, “I mean Miss Khushi Kumari Gupta that you’re a girl with vivid imagination. Even if you haven’t been with a man before, you’d sure have imagined it like all other girls who dream of romance. What were your preferences in your imagination, what did you think would please you the most?” He leaned and kissed her on the lips, saying against them, “I want to do everything as you like.”
Khushi looked at him, shedding a bit of her shyness. “Er- I never had to talk about it to anyone before, not even Payal jiji. I j-just don’t know how to talk about it.”
Arnav caressed her hair, moving all of it to one side and kissing her shoulder, “Ah, my darling. I’ll just have to be a little more patient then, isn’t it?” He gave a mock sigh, “Now I will have to wait until you’re ready and know what you want. Damn.”
He made to leave but Khushi caught his hand, surprise plain in her eyes, “You’d –y-you’d leave me now?”
Arnav looked at her, his eyes puzzled, “You don’t know what you want. What if you regret it tomorrow Khushi?”
Khushi could feel frustration mounting in her body. She knew she only knew about love making from books but what the hell! She wanted him to play with her, show her how good it could be. His hands and mouth had already set her body on fire and she was sure she wanted more of it; a lot more. He stroked her body as if it was a guitar, with each touch feeling as if her strings were being pulled, she felt a new song being created in her body. His hands set her on fire, tantalising her. But if he left her now–
“Oh for the love—come here you!” She pulled him back on the bed as he was half in-half out of it. “I don’t know what pleases me in bed Arnav Singh Raizada! So do what you know that will please me, understand?”
“Yes Miss Gupta.” Arnav said mock-seriously, laughter lurking in his eyes and proceeded to show her in detail exactly how he’d please her.
Khushi loved his muscled body, the hardness of his body a right support for her softness, the way his warm skin smelled, the way he tasted her and encouraged her to taste him. He tasted of hot passion, of things that were prior to this forbidden. She loved to hear the sound of his ragged breathing when she kissed his chest, his soft growl betraying his neediness when she kissed his stomach; his responses to her touch. Her body moved along with his, their breathing laboured as wild abandon took hold of them. The tension between the bodies grew, kisses growing deeper, stronger, more erotic than before. His fingers played with her body, creating exquisite torture until she tugged at his shoulders, raising her hips to him. “Please… oh Arnav please!” she whispered. “I can’t—“She drew a ragged breath as his lips passed her navel and below to breathe on the place that was spitting fire.
She moaned loud when his lips touched her mound and held his head tight when he kissed her there. Her cries of ecstasy grew louder as he mercilessly licked her, kissed her, sucked on the essence of her. His hand came down to caress her along with his mouth. Gently he inserted a finger inside her and Khushi almost jumped off the bed.
“OH MY GOD! ARNAV!” She screamed as she felt her release bursting out of her.
“Yes Khushi, let yourself go. I’ve got you honey, let the control go.” Arnav spoke, his voice rough as he teased her with his mouth and fingers, increasing the tempo. Khushi closed her eyes with pleasure bursting out of her, caught his head tight and felt herself shatter into pieces and fly high.
Arnav kept on with his ministrations, gentle in his manoeuvre while she slowly came back down to earth and opened her eyes. She breathed deeply, “Arnav” as she felt herself stirring again, the fire re-building.
Arnav came up to her, kissing her and giving her a taste of herself. He kissed her deeply, “Khushi, you drive me crazy. I have never—I can’t control it any longer Khushi.”
“Then don’t… I want to feel you inside me Arnav. Please me, make me reach the skies again.” Khushi said as he pinched her nipples and kissed her. He leaned and picked up one of the packets and tore it open, wearing it as Khushi watched on, kissing him randomly. He caught her under him and said,
“Look at me Khushi. I want you to see me as I enter you. I will try not to hurt you but it may hurt just a little.” Arnav’s brow was furrowed as he focused on himself and her. Slowly he entered her. Khushi felt the pinch and twitched. She gasped with pain as he went in further and stopped to ask, “Are you okay Khushi?”
Khushi nodded and raised her hips once she felt the discomfort give way to heat; the need for complete pleasure. “Yes, oh yes!” and he started moving slowly at first and then steadily increasing the tempo of their love making. She wanted, she ached, she needed—she was a primitive woman again, needing only her man. Her desire overwhelmed her, making her arch against him. She gripped his hips as he moved faster, wishing for him to go deeper.
Soon the world ceased to exist for both of them as they were lost in the rhythm of each other’s bodies. The pinnacle of their glorious love-making saw them both shouting, their release blissful as they clung together, spent in each other’s arms. It was perfect.
Khushi came to with a start as Arnav spoke her name, his brow furrowed with anxiety. She blushed as she realised where she was and what she had been thinking.
“Are you alright? You seemed red just now and now you’re pale. Is everything okay?” Arnav asked, his voice laced with sincere concern as he sat down and placed the tray with their orders on the table. Khushi didn’t know what to say. Was she alright?
“What if I’ve judged him wrong? What if I make a mistake by getting involved with him?”
Thoughts like these ran into Khushi’s mind as she crossed the living room and reached the large glass doors that stood open. Arnav stood there, looking tall and utterly captivating male specimen. She moved towards him, her mind set. Nothing could make her run away now. He turned his head when he heard the footsteps and saw her.
Khushi willed her heart to slow down a bit as he said, his voice husky, “can’t sleep Khushi?”
Khushi couldn’t form a reply, couldn’t find her voice. Instead she shook her head, and then thinking it may be mistaken for something else forced herself to say, “Yes, sleep- eludes me.”
Arnav looked at her, silent. Khushi could feel her pulse throbbing, the vibrations that seem to have come alive between them. Slowly, as if he was scared she would run away, he moved his hand to the strand of hair that was stuck to her cheek. His eyes were pure fire, his voice ultimate invitation as he touched her. Khushi closed her eyes at this contact and opened them again to look into his and draw a breath.
“You look so beautiful in the moonlight Khushi. You mesmerize me.” He said, his gaze dark and thirsty, touching her. Khushi felt goose bumps rise across her skin. No man had ever looked at her like that, had ever touched her with so much hunger..hunger that she was starting to recognise in herself, the ache that increased in her body every time he touched her. She wanted more and yet… she wasn’t sure how she could get it. She knew all about sexual attraction; had known about it before she’d met Arnav but she’d never felt it so strongly before.
It excited her but it also scared her. Would he understand that she- would he know that she was innocent, a virgin yet? Would he realize that she had never been touched like, that she had not given this liberty to anyone yet apart from him? Aranv, who could touch her inner core and make her body melt without even touching her, found her beautiful. A radiant smile broke on her face. She tried to not lose her senses completely.
“You must be suffering from what they call ‘moonlight madness’ and my face must be an illusion created by moonlight magic. I’m not beautiful Arnav and I have no illusions about it.” Khushi knew this to be true. She had long ago acknowledged that she was not as beautiful as those girls he paraded around with.
Now why did this thought have to pop up in her mind at this moment, she thought about it, annoyed with herself. She didn’t want to think about the other women. This was their time together. Private time.
As if he couldn’t help himself, Arnav moved closer, still only touching her cheek. “You are a believer in fairy tales, aren’t you? You believe in magic.” Khushi couldn’t see his face clearly in the dark but she could hear his smile.
“Yes.” She whispered her conviction. At this moment, she could believe magic was made to be for moments like these.
His eyes were shadowed, as if hesitating and trying to control, “Khushi, you should go back to bed honey. I have very little control on myself where you are concerned. I know you don’t understand this but it is very difficult for me to not touch you; to not kiss you.”
Khushi felt the sweet string of tension that surrounded their bodies, the fire that burned them both. She simply looked at him, her eyes wide as if trying to believe such a thing was possible. He groaned, “It is not a good idea for you to come here, stand so close to me honey. Go to your own room now Khushi before I lose control on myself. I promised you I wouldn’t touch you without your permission.”
Khushi mocked him with a smile on her face. Did he really expect her to believe that? She decided to try a little experiment.
“You’re an admirable man that way Arnav Singh Raizada. You do know how to keep your promises.” She took a step that brought her so close to him that their bodies were almost touching, as she whispered, “But I want to be here, with you Arnav.”
And in truth, she realized that she really wanted to be there with him. Against her better judgment, she wanted to be with him, to let him do whatever he wanted to do with her.
Arnav touched the hair in front and pulled a strand of it to bring her closer still. He curled it around his finger, “Don’t play games with me Khushi. This is dangerous. Do you know what you’re doing?”
She was just inches away from his naked chest. She wanted to put her hands on his chest, rest her head on his warm skin. She wanted to touch where his heart was beating, she wanted to feel it, “Yes, I know it is dangerous. I know what I’m doing Arnav.”
Arnav was silent for a minute. Then he moved away a little, thinking what to say to her. “You told me you were not interested in any affair, even rejected my offer of marriage because you think I’m not suitable for you. You told me you find me too controlling and you don’t like guys who are controlling. So why this change?”
Khushi wanted to sound brave but she was just as scared inside. It was true what he’d said. She didn’t like men like him. But somehow, she couldn’t really resist him. She tried to make her voice sound firm, “I’m not going to let you control me Arnav. This is far from that.”
His eyes glinted in the moonlight. “I don’t want to control you Khushi. I would never want you to change from who you are, into what I want. I – all I want at this time is to make love to you. But—“he released the strand of hair that he was holding and it fell back on to her face.
“But what? But you can’t because of the promise you’ve given me?” Khushi asked.
Arnav nodded. Khushi took a deep breath and asked him what she most wanted to know, “Why Arnav? You have the pick of the best looking women in the world. You’re a hard playboy and that is not something only people in London know about. People in Delhi too call you the same. Your type of women is way different from who I am, the way I am. So why?”
Arnav laughed, the sound harsh, “Why? You ask this question Khushi when you’ve seen how foolish I become around you. I act like a teenager who’s just been induced with high hormone levels when I’m around you Khushi. You stir up my fantasies with a single smile, your eyes when they look at me make me burn. You make me want to fly and take you away with me to some place where no one can find us; a place where I can –“ his hand moved to her mouth and his fingers moved around her lips, “—where I can kiss you to kingdom come.”
Poetic and Arnav.. had someone told her that some time back, Khushi would’ve laughed in their faces. But she didn’t feel like laughing right now. She felt the pull of desire, deep down inside of her. A thrill ran through the entire body at his words. He continued, still touching her lips, his fingers moving around her mouth. Her lips parted a bit and his finger went in gently and came out with her hot breath as he whispered, “ I like to watch you eat, to watch you talk. I like the way you enjoy every morsel of food. The way when you eat your chocolate cake; you close your eyes in ecstasy as if you’re eating ambrosia. It makes me want to eat it too.”
“Arnav—“Khushi moaned as his hand moved again, his finger delving into her mouth. She quickly closed her mouth and sucked it in. He took a deep shuddering breath but gently pulled his finger out. Next he placed the same finger on his lips, opened his mouth and pulled it in. Again he took it out and moved it over her lips. Khushi closed her eyes.
Now both his hands cupped her face, his finger travelling to her closed eyes, tracing them, as he continued to speak softly, “I like the way you behave with Anjali Di. You don’t think she’s a nuisance even when she’s being naughty, even when she teases you. I like that you can be charmed easily by simple things. You made friends with my friends, with my household staff. You even made friends with my elderly housekeeper who’s at times a dragon. I don’t know how you do it Khushi but you weave a magic spell around me. I am always thinking of you. I go crazy thinking about you.”
“But-but you’ve been nice and trying to stay away from me.” She knew she sounded petulant but she couldn’t help it. She knew she sounded breathless. Not that that was surprising, since he kept on touching her, barely noticeably nonetheless touching her, setting her nerves on slow fire.
He gave her a crooked smile; the smile that could ensnare many hearts along with that fire filled gaze and dropped his hand away from her face. “It is not easy Khushi. It is not natural for me to be –er- I’m arrogant I know but—it was not natural for me to remain away from you, to not touch you.”
“So why have you- you been keeping your distance? Why don’t you -”
“-because that is what you demanded Khushi. You didn’t want to be touched. I still will not touch you until you permit me.”
It was so simple! Such a simple reply, simple truth put out innocently. She had asked him to keep distance and he had obliged. He had not been domineering, arrogance was all gone. It would have been all too easy for him to do it since he knew she melted every time he came close to her and yet, he’d kept his distance. Khushi’s eyes grew warm and glowed with appreciation.
She whispered, “Maybe I’ve been wrong about you. You’re honourable after all.”
What Arnav did next rooted her on the spot. He took her face gently in his hands, tenderness apparent in his eyes. There was not a trace of a man ready to seduce her, instead she could see a man who was –who cared for her!
“Do you know what you’re doing Khushi? I don’t want to seduce you into anything Khushi. I can wait.”
Khushi rested her cheek on his curved hand, “I know Arnav. But I wish to live in the moment tonight.”
Arnav hesitated, his reluctance apparent in his voice, “Khushi, darling I don’t want to hurt you. I can’t – I can try to be tender but don’t know how to love. I can only make love to you. I see your eyes and I feel-.”
Khushi put her finger on his lips, shutting him up. “I know that you live in the moment Arnav yet you proposed marriage to me. You told me you desire me but don’t love me. I-don’t know how I feel about that but- I see you care for me. That is enough to make you a good man. I know you will protect me.” She wound her hands slowly around his neck, “I know you can wait but—“Khushi blushed and stuttered but continued, “-b-but Arnav, I want us to-“much as she wanted to, Khushi couldn’t complete the sentence.
Instead she did the next best possible thing. She closed her eyes and lifted her mouth to his, whispering his name.
Khushi looked at Arnav standing by the counter while she waited for him at the table. He stood there, waiting for their order. She knew there were a lot of girls around, stealing looks at him. Not that she blamed them; he was delicious to look at but the fire of jealousy kept on looking at things in a logical manner. Why was he not coming back to the table? It wasn’t as if it was required to stand there until the guy brought them the ordered drinks.
She saw a group of girls looking at him as they ordered their own drinks and giggling. One of them smiled and fluttered her eyelashes at him. Khushi looked on at Arnav in boiling rage to see that he had coolly looked away with disinterest from the girl who had made eyes at him. It was a bit of shock for her. She looked at him with her mouth hanging open. Arnav Singh Raizada didn’t do that!
It was as if this was another unplanned proof to show her that he was indeed a changed man. Arnav Singh Raizada as she had known him from the past would have smirked at the girl and probably raised his eyebrows at her interest. That was what used to do the girls in. She had remembered the jealous rage that had over taken her when he had done that in Goa.
The breeze was cool when Khushi, wrapped in her dressing gown decided to curl up and sit by the window in her bedroom. As she stared at the sea waves rising out of the dark sea, she took a deep breath of salty sea air. She was restless and awake in the middle of the night with no real idea of why she was awake. She thought back to the evening they had spent together.
Arnav had taken her to his known restaurant, where he was greeted like an old friend. It had surprised Khushi to see Arnav talking so affably with the owner of a small place. Arnav was a billionaire and treated everyone around him with contempt was pally with a restaurateur in Goa? Had someone told her this a few weeks back, Khushi would have laughed at them. Uptight Arnav Singh Raizada letting his so-short-hair down was something that she had never imagined. But he had and she had seen it. He had been witty, nice and considerate. She had had more glasses of wine than she normally did, had eaten food with gusto and participated in lively flirting with Arnav. It had all felt magical. All she could think about then had been Arnav. She had come to a realization this evening that their attraction, at least for her was way beyond superficial or only sexual. She was in love with him, an in a big way!
She remembered the time in the office when he had been mad at her for being so immersed in work that she had dressed shabbily for the party and he had mocked her. Later she had hardly been able to breathe with him so close to her while dancing, her head feeling as if it was filled with cotton wool and she could only stare at his tie, not looking in his eyes. He had put his hand under her chin, making her look up and she had gasped at the intensity of desire she had seen in his eyes. His hands had tightened around her waist and he had puller her even closer, with her breasts brushing his chest.
Slowly, he had maneuvered them into a dark corner of the room, both of them breathing hard. He had put her against the wall, holding he hands up and kissed her slowly at first and then deeply. He had drugged her with his kisses, his mouth making love to hers, curling her toes in her high heeled sandals. He had smelled so male, the subtle scent of his aftershave on his skin weaving its magic on her. His hands had inched their way down, caressing her breasts through the taut material and touching the low cut bodice of her party dress, his mouth on her throat. All the while he spoke about how he had been slowly going crazy all evening, wanting her. Coming back to her mouth, he kissed her again, taking full control while his hands gently took her breast out of the low cut neck. He flicked the tip of her nipple with his finger and Khushi moaned in his mouth.
He had kept on taking her name as his mouth moved down towards her breast, taking the taut nipple into his mouth while his hand had travelled down further, touching her navel, going back and grabbing her hips and then coming up front. He parted her legs and touched her there where Khushi had never been touched before. She had gasped as he continued his exploration. His mouth moved down from her breast to her navel, leaving an open mouthed kiss there. Oh my!! Thought Khushi. She was ready to fall down and it was only his strong arm around her waist that kept her standing and steady.
“Arnav, please!” She had moaned when she had felt his mouth open over her, not knowing what she was asking for but only that she wanted him to continue. He had never done that to her before. She had never before experienced such hunger, such passion in him. What shocked her was the fact that she was enjoying his ministrations, in fact she wanted him to continue. Her senses had been swimming as he placed more open mouthed kisses, the layer of clothing the only barrier between her innermost core and his mouth. She had moaned quietly, clutching his arm as he continued his exploration, down below her legs, touching his mouth on her open thighs. The dress ended just at mid-thigh.
Khushi had felt herself melting in his arms that evening. She had forgotten everything and kissed him back; forgetting where they were, until a giggle had broken the spell. Hastily she had pushed him away quite hard and adjusted her dress. He had kept quiet, breathing hard, not trying to touch her again. Not looking at him, she had run from him then, even when he called her name, scared of these intense feelings, not knowing that the desire he had aroused in her was not just physical attraction but something more. It was not going to die until he made her his.
She had then mistaken it only for strong physical attraction she felt for him, as he did for her. She had kept her distance and irked him after that. Never happy with him around yet never happy when he was far away, Khushi had not been able to understand until now what it was that pulled her to him. Why was it that she felt hurt when he mocked her or got angry on her? She could now relate to it as well as understand it.
Khushi sighed. Falling in love with Arnav Singh Raizada spelled disaster and she knew it quite well. It wasn’t as if she had wanted to fall in love but- he was—when he was not pretending to be a royal asshole, he was the best man she had ever known. She had fallen for that man, no doubt about it. So how was she going to get herself out of this situation?
Khushi thought about what he had said earlier that evening when he had apologized to her for his early morning behavior, “I’m always like this Khushi. I try to be nice but somehow my past comes out of me and bitterness always spills out first. I don’t know what to do but – main aisa he hoon Khushi. Tum jaanti ho mujhe, toh ye bhi samajh lo ke kabhi kabhi gusse main- I say things I don’t mean. Mere gusse ko face value par mat lena Khushi.
What we feel for each other needs to be explored. You wanted us to be together as friends this weekend but I can hardly keep my hands off you. I have only so much restraint on myself where you’re concerned Khushi. You’re like sweet sugar in my blood, giving me a high. I’ve always lived in the moment and the women have never been given any false hopes or promises. I’m no saint but I promise to be faithful to you. I think it will take us ages before we are able to put out this fire of attraction burning between us.
I know you’re not one of those women who get involved with any man she’s attracted to. I know you want a relationship for keeps. I don’t know if I feel love for you but I do know that not touching drives me crazy. I care about you, worry about you when you’re not around. I could take you right now if I wanted to-“ Khushi had gasped, outraged while her face had taken a rosy hue but he had earnestly continued,”- you know I’m being honest Khushi, and I know that you won’t be able to resist me for long–but I did promise you, I will not touch you unless you come to me first. I shall wait for you to come to me.”
“I am like this Khushi. You know me well so understand this-sometimes in anger I say things I don’t mean.” These words were what had made Khushi restless.
Too wound up, she couldn’t sit still any longer. Yesterday she’d been thinking and wondering if she’d gone crazy to have agreed to come here to Goa alone with him, without even letting Payal jiji know what was going on. For some unknown reason she hadn’t wanted to share her growing attraction and feelings for Arnav with Payal jiji or tell her about his proposal. Now she knew why she didn’t want to. She was afraid to think about it, about her future. She thought back to the rest of the evening.
They had silently strolled on the beach, near to where the waves broke up, not wanting to go back to the house just yet. The silence was not uneasy; in fact it was easy and comforting, peaceful. While crossing the street later on, he had taken her hand in his, pulling her closer. Khushi had been touched by the gesture, knowing instinctively that he wanted to protect her. They had held hands the rest of the way home. It had felt so good. It had felt like they were a normal couple, lovers who could be seen everywhere in Goa, walking hand in hand, openly affectionate.
Once they had reached back home, she had politely thanked him for the dinner and a lovely evening, kissed him gently on the cheek and quietly come to her room, her head full of his scent. She was crazy and certified for it!
The cool breeze gave her goose bumps along with her hot thoughts of Arnav. She gazed outside absently and then started. A movement had caught her attention. In the part of the terrace of the house that was visible from her window, Khushi could see someone was standing. Her heart beats picked up speed as she realized who it would be. Arnav.
She looked at him, as he gazed into the dark night, wide awake. He was barefoot, with no shirt on his body. His jeans slung low on his hips, making Khushi’s breath hitch in her throat. He was so powerfully male! His back was broad and his shoulders shone in the moonlight. Khushi felt heat throbbing in her body while her brain went on another track. Why was he awake? What was he doing out there standing alone? What was he thinking about? Was he thinking of his future or – was he thinking of their future?
Khushi didn’t realize she had been staring hard. He must have felt her gaze burning him for he turned around and looked straight at her window, to see her sitting there. Slowly he lifted his hand and waved. Khushi’s body trembled at his gaze, even from so far away. Weakly she lifted her hand and waved back. Slowly she drew back and away from the window.
Her heart was in her mouth as the beats pounded through her body. She wanted him oh so much! Without a second thought, she ran out of the room, the marble floor cool on her feet.
*Flashback continues to next chapter*
NOTE: We’re coming to the end of this FF. 😦 It’s a wrench but I must end it soon.
The ride back into town was completed in silence. Arnav was lost in his own thoughts while he rode the scooter while Khushi was with her own musings as she sat behind him. The awkwardness of holding his waist that she had felt in the morning was gone. Now she not only had her hands on his waist but her head rested on his back. She had made her decision after this day spent together.
Arnav didn’t know if he could describe this feeling he was going through. A part of him was anxious, worried and tensed while a part of him was happy, at peace. How could he feel two contradictory emotions at the same time? The sun had set and he had put his aviators back into its box. Soon they would reach where they had started from in the morning and Khushi will tell him what her decision was.
Will she agree to give him a chance and take this further or will she simply shake her head and tell him that this day was all they could have together in the present? His heart and his soul was terrorized by the thought that Khushi may yet decide against giving him another chance to show her how much he loved her. His heart despaired at the thought. What good will be his life if she rejected him? How would he live? There was a time when he had not met Khushi and lived a joyless existence. He couldn’t dream of going back to it. He’d rather face thousand deaths with her than exist in this world alone, without Khushi. And yet.. a part of him insisted that he will have to accept it if that is what Khushi wished him to do. After what he’d said to her, done to her- it may be the only befitting punishment.
When they reached Barista, Khushi’s hands left his waist reluctantly. She moved her head to one side as he leaned back against her. Her involuntary movement brought her lips in contact with his shoulder and she couldn’t resist wanting to kiss it gently. She so much wished she could lean on his strong shoulders for the rest of her life. If her decision was correct, she may yet have that chance to do so, told her an inside voice.
Arnav felt her lips touch gently on his shoulder and shuddered. He was very anxious now. He wasn’t sure if that kiss was a gesture of acceptance of his regret or if it was a good bye kiss. His heart was in his mouth as he looked back at her, with his eyes a clear mirror of his anxiety. He wanted Khushi to know, he didn’t want to hide himself from her anymore.
Khushi looked into his eyes, looking for a single glimpse of that Arnav Singh Raizada who had been vile, who had accused her of horrible things, but she couldn’t find him. Instead all she could see was Arnav that she had fallen in love with, his eyes giving her a clear glimpse of his heart, his soul that spoke of goodness inside.
Khushi took the first step to break the eye contact. She had felt him happy at her touch the whole day through and she had also felt him shudder when her lips had touched his shoulder. She was aware now that love needed this physical touch to complete itself into one being. She couldn’t deny it. She couldn’t ignore this feeling by calling it lust and not love. She moved away from him and got down the scooter.
Arnav looked at her as she moved away from him and got down. His heart was beating a tattoo in his chest. What was she going to do? Arnav Singh Raizada was, perhaps the first time in his life helpless and had no control over the situation with regards to the fate of his life.
Khushi came up to the front of the scooter and said, “Shall we sit inside Arnav? I wish to drink something cool after a long ride.”
Together they went inside and Arnav went up to the counter to order. Khushi looked at him and sighed. She couldn’t not give Arnav a second chance.
His eyes spoke of the history of love in his life since beginning – the lost little boy searching for love that he had never found in his mother, the youth who had to grow up before his age, knowing his Anjali Di relied on his strong support since the day they had found out bitter truth about their parentage, the man who before he became successful had been hurt by women in his life and the man who hid himself from every eye, the one who had stopped looking for love in the world and become ruthless for the sake of his sanity.
She remembered well that weekend in Goa when they had spent the weekend together. They had fought and their fight had escalated to a level where Khushi had spent her entire day away from him. He had been worried out of his mind for her and in the late evening when she had come back, she had found him not angry but sick with worry. He had spent the entire day looking for her, even going to the hospitals to find out if she’d done something drastic. He had not shouted at her then. He had explained his reasons for being so aggressive and distrustful. He was a bastard and Anjali was only his half-sister. They shared their mother by blood but no one knew who his blood father was.
She remembered their dialogue. He had difficulty apologizing then and had come about with an explanation in a roundabout manner. His explanation had stunned Khushi. He had needed a strong shot of whiskey before he began with his explanation.
I may have been a bit out of line with the way I behaved today morning Khushi. With the –“ he paused as if thinking how to continue or even if he should.Then as if he couldn’t help himself, he continued, “-with the way I’ve been brought up and what I’ve seen of the world, I’ve always come across women who are ready to take advantage of men at the drop of the hat.”
“Excuse me? And that gives you the reason to generalize? You said some unforgivable things to me today Arnav. What if someone behaved like this with your own sister or your mother? Would you have forgiven them?” Khushi retorted with question of her own.
Frankly speaking, she had been taken aback by this turn of conversation. When he said he wasn’t going to apologize for his behaviour, she had been outraged and left the house. She had walked around for a long time on the beach and even gone to the church to calm her raging soul. Never in her life had she imagined that his explanation for what he had said to her in the morning would be something related to his past experiences!
“Anjali di.. you’ve met her. She already has a steady boyfriend and truthfully speaking, she would think about it carefully with her head and her heart before she ever said yes to a guy. My mother-she was one of those women I despise today. She thought she could use her wealth, her fool of a husband’s wealth to trap the man who sired me. Told herself she was in love and was taking the right path to a better life. “
A look of such hatred crossed his features that Khushi could only gape at him. He hated his mother and thought she was– but why?
“I am a bastard Khushi. My mother was married to the man I am honoured to call father but he was not my blood father. I was adopted by him as his son and he loved me as much as he would his own. We don’t even know until some time back who my blood father was. What I found out simply increased my disgust for my mother and her deeds. The man was a married guy who used to come to London for business trips. She says she fell in love with him and in his trap. The truth was my mother had lured him many times with money and the fool she was, she never realized that is all he wanted from her. She cheated on my father again and again with that-that man.
Nani had come to England to take care of Anjali Di as my mother was incapable of taking care of her. Hell, she was incapable of thinking about anyone else but herself! When the family name started getting smirched due to her affair coming out to open in public, my father banished her to the family mansion in the countryside. Nani went along with her to ensure she may behave herself. That was when they found out about me. Father had already divorced her by then.
Apparently, unbeknown to nani and my father, she had kept in touch with the guy, pleading him to come back and marry her. He kept on promising marriage.” A look of utter disgust had crossed his face, “I was the result of one of those meetings Khushi. My father adopted me, gave me his name and declared me his heir when I was born but disowned her from his property. He took me away from my mother then since she had gone berserk from anger. Once that news reached the guy, he wanted nothing more to do with her. His golden chicken was dead and he wanted to wash his hands off her. She died soon after, in a car accident. She was broken hearted and depressed when she drove that car. “
Khushi didn’t dare interrupt him. She stayed quiet to hear him out. It looked as if he hadn’t finished. Her heart had bled for the little Arnav who had been told the truth when he was able to understand it. His voice held no emotion; it was as if he was simply talking about weather. But now, admiration crept into his voice.
“I will always be grateful to my father for everything he did for me. I may have not been his sired son but he didn’t consider me any less and for that I guess, I am grateful. He gave me his name, and raised us single-handedly. He was not a very affectionate man but he was kind. I will always admire and respect him for that. But he was bitter. He never married again. He had loved my mother and she had broken his heart again and again until it was irreparable.
He sent us to the best boarding schools and visited us often. He loved me in his own way I guess and taught me good things. My father taught me to stand on my two feet and become successful by my own intelligence and my own means. I borrowed money for the capital of my first business and paid him back in full when I succeeded.
One thing he taught me very early on was to be aware of gold diggers and opportunists. Rich men or rich women were always prone to emotional attacks if they weren’t careful. That was a lesson well learnt by me Khushi early on, right after my first infatuation left me for a rich man because I had refused to inherit my father’s money.
I learnt the lesson early on that my father was right when he’d said women are like leeches. Most women that I’ve met fall under the same category. When one is as rich as I am, women fall over themselves to come into contact of any kind and will do anything to make sure they get something out of it. Over the years, I found most women simply wanted money. Some were over ambitious and wanted the Raizada name for what it could bring to them. I found my father was right.
The only woman who ever loved me for myself was my Anjali Di. I received all the love I could get from her in my childhood. She cared for me when there was no one else. So you’ve got to understand Khushi, I’m not –“
He had not been given a chance to complete as Khushi had rained kisses on his face, crying for the little boy he’d lost somewhere inside him and conversation had ceased with the understanding that she had forgiven him. Passion had reined them.
Today he had laid bare his need for her forgiveness and love; she could vulnerability, his fear of losing her forever. He was not perfect, yes. He had made mistakes, yes. He had hurt her, used her and had only physically desired her. But just like those facts was also the fact that he had admitted his guilt and regretted his actions bitterly. He was ready to love and he needed someone who could hold his hand and let himself be loved. How could she not love him after looking at the purity of intentions in his eyes? Her answer was ready and on her lips to be uttered when he came back.
“I see you have changed your taste in clothes. Blue most certainly suits you though. Good morning Khushi.” Arnav said as soon as he saw Khushi parking her scooter at the Barista parking. He was wearing a green vest with Khakhi coat and same coloured baggy pants today.
He looked mouth wateringly sexy, thought Khushi as she gave him her first glance this morning. She parked her scooter carefully and slipped the keys in her purse. Then she looked up at him, avoided his question on her choice of clothes for the time being and gave him a sombre smile, “Good morning to you too. All ready for the day out as a common man with 500 rupees in your pocket?”
Arnav showed his wallet that held five notes of hundred each and at her nod, put the wallet back in his back pocket. Her looked like a man ought to look, oozing manliness and with a smirk that could capture any woman’s heart on his face.
“So what’s the first place in the list of places to visit?” Arnav asked, leaning against the car he’d parked.
“I plan to take you to the places that are an integral part of this town. Today I’m going to take you to the famous Naini Lake, thandi road, the ropeway and to Kilbury in the end. I wanted you to visit the Naina devi temple as well since the view from there is amazing but .. I’ll leave that on how the day goes. We will watch the sun set in Kilbury and come back as that is a sight not to be missed. But first-“
“Sounds like I’ll be moving into your magical land of nature, beauty and tranquility today. Khushi-“
Arnav broke in and a look of discomfort passed his face as Khushi looked on. He continued, “Khushi, are you sure we don’t need more money?”
Arnav kept on thinking of ways to woo Khushi. What if she liked something while they were looking and wanted to buy it but didn’t have enough money on her? If he didn’t have any, he won’ be able to buy anything for her too! This thought made him uncomfortable. He’d never faced lack of cash since the day he turned successful.
“Arnav, I am absolutely sure you won’t need more money. However, if you want to shop for Anjali Di or Dean any time, you may of course do it later when you’re by yourself. I’m sure you’ll remember the way with your photographic memory.” Khushi smiled a little too brightly.
She could have bitten her tongue when the information about photographic memory slipped out. She remembered very well the last time it had come into picture and she didn’t want to think of that time. A rosy hue covered her cheeks.
“Ah yes- my photographic memory.” Judging by the way his eyes became unfocused, Khushi could see he remembered the same moment in time when she had last used the word and what had been the result of it.
Khushi could have groaned out aloud in frustration at her gaffe. She didn’t want him to remember anything today that was associated with their past. How in the world were they going to move ahead in the present if they kept on thinking about the past?
She looked away from his piercing gaze and into the distance for a second to gather her thoughts. Then as if she was done with the task, she spoke briskly, “Alright then. First on the list is Bhimtal. It is about 25 kilometers away from here and famous for water sports. I need to meet someone there as well so that’ll be my one task done.”
Arnav was curious, “Whom do you plan to meet out there? Isn’t that a very small place?”
“Yes it is, but I have a contact there that works with local small businesses. I have to speak to him.”
“You promote local products? What kind of products?” Arnav was not surprised that Khushi was working to promote local small business. But he was surprised with the knowledge that despite being so out of spirits and terribly hurt when she had come to Nainital, she put her miseries behind to help others. She had been immersed in good work for others while he only ever thought about himself. A wave of regret washed him as he looked at Khushi with new eyes that adored her even more. Maybe this was why he had adored her and not known it. Arnav tapped on his inherent nature of hiding pain when he felt it and looked at her with question in his eyes.
Khushi blushed as she saw admiration in his eyes. She stammered, “I-It’s—nothing really. It’s just that I’m helping some people with their tour guide business; you know, for campers who come to visit the town and don’t wish to live in big hotels but in vicinity of nature during their entire stay. It’s nothing really.”
“I’m sure whatever it is that you’re helping them with, it is doing great things for their business.” Arnav said confidently, making Khushi’s face break into a smile. She liked this Arnav- he had great confidence in her abilities as opposed to the one who mocked her efforts in the past. The memory of how he had once humiliated her in the office by mocking her while praising her wiped the smile of her face. She turned abruptly to her purse and started hunting for keys to her scooter inside. She found them and handed it to him.
“Here you go. You’re going to drive my scooter for today.”
A look of horror passed on Arnav’s face as he looked at the keys and the scooter she had just parked. He closed his eyes visibly hesitant about her plans and his ability to ride what looked like a vehicle made for girls. Khushi giggled inwardly. His Highness is not going to forget this trip so easily after what he’ll have to go through. She taunted softly, “Scared Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada?”
“Arnav Singh Raizada is not scared of anyone and most certainly not of your tin pot scooter ride Khushi Kumari Gupta. I’m just meditating on something from work.” Arnav’s offended and outraged reply, with his eyes still closed came pat back.
Khushi giggled loud this time. “Meditate my foot! Don’t be chicken Arnav. This scooter is quite safe. You wanted to spend the day with me and this is how I spend my day when I roam about.” She moved on towards her Scooty Pep and said, “What are we waiting for?”
Arnav opened his eyes, a calm stealing over him. He can do this. If driving that small scooter, he gulped, was going to make Khushi happy, he will do it. He took the keys from her hand and asked her about how it operated. She instructed him on what to do to start the scooter and things he should be careful about while driving the scooter in the town and then on the outskirts of the town.
Arnav wore his helmet while Khushi put on hers. He sat on the scooter feeling ridiculous and Khushi sat behind him. Arnav started and then smiled. Maybe this scooter riding was not such a bad idea after all since Khushi was going to sit very close to him. He felt zinging electricity run through him when she actually put her hands around his waist.
“What the—“his voice didn’t resemble his own at the moment to his ears. It sounded shocked and strangled. He tried again, “What are you doing Khushi?”
Khushi spoke to his back, “I need to make sure I don’t fall off. Now drive along kind Sir and I shall guide you on the way.”
With a huge grin on his face, Arnav rode off. They moved away from the town soon and were on the outskirts. Khushi didn’t speak much, simply pointed out various places they may visit on the way or places that were worth watching. Arnav loved the feel of her hands around his waist and would have loved to spend an eternity riding the scooter. Unfortunately for him, they reached Bhimtal too soon. He now wished he had not speeded. He kicked himself mentally for not driving at the minimum speed. No matter, he had this whole day with Khushi holding on to him on the scooter. Just the thought of it brought out radiating happiness in his eyes.
Not that Khushi could see his eyes since he was wearing his Aviator glasses. But she could feel that he was happy. She felt a smile reach her lips at the knowledge that he was happy but she fought it back. Her hands made to leave his waist but he was driving fast and she really was scared that she’d fall off so she let them be. What she had thought would be a prank to make him uncomfortable was turning against her. She could feel the heat of his body and shivered with the contact every time her chest hit his back when he braked. Physical attraction had a lot of answer for, making a person mad with desire like that. She muttered a few choice curses against her own body and tried to keep a distance. It was impossible of course since the scooter had only so much sitting space. She heaved a sigh of relief when they reached Bhimtal. A guy was walking towards them. Probably her contact, thought Arnav. The guy came up and after bowing to a Namaste said, “Ki haal hariyaan?”
Khushi answered with a namaste and “Main theek choon. Tum kas chou Anand? Ghar pan sab kas chan? Mein lag oonuk dekh ber khushi holi. Mein itvaar din oonake koshish karounl. “
The guy nodded vigorouly, „Sab theek chan didi. Sab tumuko(n) bahut din baad dekhi ber khush haie jaala.”
Khushi smiled as she walked off with him, leaving a stunned Arnav. She spoke Kumaoni? Bitterness welled up inside him. How shallow he had been when he’d been with her in the past? He’d never once asked her what she liked, what she could do, what were her interests, who all were associated with her life that didn’t revolve around him. Hell, he’d never even known who her best friends were. How selfish he had been, talking only about what he wanted, who he was and how he was! He swore again that he’d make up to her for all the time he didn’t pay attention to her; the real Khushi inside that dynamite body.
He watched Khushi as she walked up to the guys standing in the group outside a building in Bhimtal. Khushi had asked him to wait by the scooter while she finished her talk. She didn’t want to include him yet in what she was doing. The thought hurt Arnav a bit but he braved it. After all, it would take time to earn back the same level of friendliness and trust where they could talk about anything they wanted.
He looked on as Khushi smiled and talked. She was explaining something and everyone around her was paying attention. At times, their faces were wreathed with smiles and at times laughter. It fascinated Arnav how a small smile on their faces made Khushi’s eyes glow and her animation increase. She used her hands to make gestures, a lot! Finally, they seemed to have concluded the talk and Khushi said Namaste to them and walked back to Arnav.
“Work done?” Arnav asked with a smile. Her reply was a reciprocating smile and nod. She sat behind him once again and said, “Quite satisfactorily in fact. Thanks for asking.”
“Where to next Ms. Guide?” Arnav looked back at her. The smile tugging the corners of her mouth was very tempting. Her luscious, plump, pink, lips with sheen of wetness on them were too inviting. Arnav felt like kissing her but stopped his impulsiveness on time. There were others present here; others who respected Khushi, her morals, her ideals and her work. He wouldn’t do anything that will bring her down in their eyes.
“Next, we go back into town and to Naini Lake.” Khushi quipped, rubbing her lips as if she could feel his thoughts. Arnav looked forward again and started the scooter. Soon they were back in Nainital and moving towards Naini Lake.
The view around was calm and beautiful. It was still early morning so there were very few people around. Apparently tourists crowded the area at about noon. Khushi wanted to know if Arnav would like to do some boating.
“Paddle boats?” asked Arnav.
“No, I mean boating, with a boat man who would row the boat while you sit and enjoy the nature around you in peace.”
“I’m in. Let me go buy the tickets.”, said Arnav. Khushi stopped him.
“Do buy some popcorn for me please while you’re getting the tickets. I already have a bottle of water for us and a picnic basket for later. I always eat popcorn when I’m in the boat.”
Arnav looked at her with amused eyes and she blushed. He definitely didn’t need to know that! Damn her stupid mouth. Khushi lowered her eyes and immediately looked back up when Arnav’s hand came to grasp her chin.
“Look up Khushi. You’ve nothing to be embarrassed about. I’ll get your popcorn.”
The look in his eyes was enough to make Khushi want to sit down. It held tenderness and understanding that he had never displayed before. She liked this Arnav, a lot actually! Arnav made quick work of it and came back holding a popcorn bag and tickets. He motioned with his eyes towards the boat and Khushi followed him.
When the boat ride ended, Arnav got out of the boat and held out his hand for Khushi to grasp and come out. One look at his face and Khushi couldn’t help but give her hand to him. This boat ride had brought as much revelation to her about her own self as well as Arnav. She let her thoughts flow for a moment thinking about the boat ride.
Arnav Singh Raizada who always believed in the being at the helm of any boat, captaining it had allowed the boatman to row while he sat, contented and happy. His face held an aura of joy as he looked around, absorbing the quiet, listening to the chirping of the birds, sound of the oars dipping and coming out of the water, in fact Khushi felt as if he had actually become one with nature. Khushi had brought red, juicy apples with her to eat during the boat ride; a breakfast of sorts. She offered one to Arnav and ate one herself along with her popcorn. Arnav was happy to munch on the apple alone and smiled his thanks. While he behaved like that, Khushi had thawed a little in her attitude towards him.
Here was the man she had dreamed of, the one she had fallen in love with and could easily fall in love with again. Here was the man who was confident that he could do whatever he wanted to but for the moment, he was ready to let someone else take the lead and stay content. The only thing that had broken the calm waters of her happiness was the thought that he was also the same man who had accused her of infidelity and lack of character. It was so hard to keep track of all the bitterness when she saw this side of him.
Perhaps her bitterness had shone through for Arnav had looked at her, his eyebrows raised in question. She had shaken her head and smiled as if to convey all was well and she was happy that he was enjoying.
Arnav looked at Khushi and said, “Thank you for bringing me here. I enjoyed the boat ride and the view but most of all, I enjoyed our companionable silence. I have never shared that with anyone before.”
Such a simple admission but it worked wonders. Khushi’s face took on a smile as she told him, “Glad you liked the boat ride. Now we move to Nainadevi Temple? Or do you wish to skip it? We could opt for the ropeway. Walking on thandi sadak is something that should be done later on.”
“Khushi this is the day you planned. I wanted to see Nainital with your eyes. If you think the temple is the next place to go to, by all means- let us go. I have nothing against the gods these days. I am thankful to them for many things, one of which is you.”
Khushi looked away from him as tears gathered in her eyes and a lump formed in her throat. Oh he was the devil to say things like that! Didn’t he know how those words affected her? His next words surprised her completely.
“I’m sorry Khushi. I shouldn’t have said that. I don’t want you to feel that I’m simply mouthing words to please you or trying to get you back by sweet talking. I mean it but you don’t need to hear it right now I guess.”
“It is all right Arnav. Let us move on.” Khushi said and simply moved away. She was not sure how to respond to his shocking statement.
They visited the temple, enjoyed the view of Mall road from the temple. Khushi told him that coming here always had a calming effect on her. She found the place serene and gorgeous and could sit for hours on end. Arnav quietly agreed that the place was indeed gorgeous but also mentioned that he was somehow happier with nature rather than sitting in vicinity of the temple. His God was nature. Khushi looked at him, trying to gauge how serious he was about his declaration. This- from Arnav, who had once absolutely rejected the idea of talking about his feelings, when it came to religion and God!
They went to the ropeway the next which was quite uneventful. Soon it was lunch time. They sat down by the park close to the ropeway and picnicked there. Khushi had brought a picnic basket which had been stored inside her Scooty Pep storage box along with a red rug to sit on. The fare was simple. Sandwiches- vegetable and cheese since Khushi knew Arnav liked them and some salad. For dessert, she had packed some ripe peaches. They ate their lunch while sitting completely at ease with each other, talking about non-related topics like politics and finance.
While she packed the empty plates back and the rug, Arnav cleared the area of any debris and threw the waste into the garbage can close by.
It was one of the best days of his life, Arnav decided while they were walking along the thandi sadak. Not only had Khushi been relaxed and spoken to him as if they’d never fought, she had also opened up to physical contact. She didn’t flinch so much when he accidentally brushed against her or touch her. She had held him by the waist all day whenever they sat on her scooter. Of course, the sexual current was vibrant every time that happened but she ignored it and he tried to ignore it. He loved this day because it brought Khushi closer to him. He was wondering if he could plan out his next step soon.
Thandi Sadak had pine trees, deodar trees and oak trees lined up along its sides, and was in actuality a cool road to walk on. The green hills that surrounded the town and the lake were a balm to his soul. The singing of the birds made for a lovely song that he could hear. He knew Khushi shared this song because he could see the same smile on her face too when she looked up to hear the birds chirping.
It was time for the Sun to set before they reached Kilbury. Khushi went on to talk about it as Arnav looked on at the view laid in front of him.
“You can see the Himalayas on that side and here, on the other side you see “Tarai” area, fields divided into terraces and village houses. The forest around is made up of lush oak, pine and rhododendron. There are many people who come here for a picnic or simply to sit and watch the clouds hover about. I love coming here with my book when I don’t have anything else on my mind.”
Arnav grinned at her, “I like your idea of coming here with a book; no distractions and pure quiet; something that is missing in Delhi big time. Is there a place to stay out here?”
Khushi pointed to a guest house up ahead, “That’s the forest bungalow where you can stay if you wish to come here. But then, you’ve got a cottage in the countryside in England. Why’d you wish to come here?”
Arnav shrugged his shoulders, “It’s a good place and that’s probably why. Plus you like it here, don’t you?”
Khushi looked away from him and said, “Yes, I like it here.”
Arnav put his hand under her chin and made her look up, “Khushi, I will come here because I know you like it here. If you are here, where else can I be?”
“Arnav-“ Khushi tried to speak but stopped with a gasp as Arnav came closer to her. She took a step back and tried to move away but he held her by the shoulders, gently.
“Stop running away from me Khushi. It hurts me when you do that. I am not about to do anything that you wouldn’t allow me to or want me to.” Arnav told her gently, not wanting to spoil the last hour with her. “I want to watch the sun set with you out here Khushi. I want to watch it while your hand rests in mine. Can we do that? Please?”
Khushi couldn’t deny him, not after his request. She quietly nodded and they sat down by the ledge, waiting for the sun to go down, hand in hand.
Chapter 19C: Flashback in Italics
“Aowww damn it!” Khushi swore and despite several lectures to not go there, her brain transported her to the time and the incident when he had taken her to his beach house in Goa for the weekend before he had proposed.
Arnav had been giving her a tour of his beach house, if a 3,000 square feet of elegancy could be called a beach house. It looked more like a picture out of the “House” magazine. The interior of the house was stunning with loads of space, creamy walls, French windows that opened out to the beach, with hardwood floors.
Khushi inspected the house with her hands on her hips, her mouth open at the beauty of the interior and the art pieces that graced the walls and some well known sculptures adoring the living room.
“Huh.. so you call this a beach house? It should be declared an art gallery. Khushi murmured as she gazed at the painting that depicted the ocean trees around it and people dancing around the camp fire. She looked at him with raised eyebrows, “ Memory sketched into painting?”
“Hardly something that I’d leave to adorn the walls of my living room.” Arnav sniggered and then said, “Nah, this is the scene from ‘the night in the Bahamas’ collection.”
Khushi rolled her eyes, “Another display of your wealth Arnav.. same difference. I wonder why do you do that?”
“You know why Khushi and I don’t see anyone else complaining.” Arnav shrugged
“Yes, of course. Who’d dare defy THE Arnav Singh Raizada? There’s also the fact that many cater to the whims of the rich in the society we live in, regardless of whether they like the person or not. Thank God I am reasonably poor as compared to you.” Khushi joined her hands in her usual gesture while praying to her Devi Maiyya.
Arnav looked at her, “How unambitious of you!” then called for Mrs De’Souza while letting Khushi know that she and her husband take care of this house in his absence and keep it ready for him all the year around in case he pops by. Khushi raised her hands to her face, cupping her mouth and her eyes wide, “OMG Arnav! Such extravagance! Wonder how you live with yourself. You could donate the amount you spend to keep this house ready for you or fund an – never mind. Everyone has their eccentricities and this is yours.”
They moved towards the living room area and into the wing of guest rooms that began with a huge hallway.
“This is your room. I hope you like it.” Arnav said, opening the door to reveal a set of rooms painted in apricot and cream. “I’m on the other side of the house. If you need me, just call me through the house intercom.”
As they left the guest wing and entered the living room area, Khushi said, “Why’d I need you Arnav? You brought me here ‘cos you needed me to help you with your project. I won’t need you.”
“You’re so sure you won’t need me?”Arnav raised an eyebrow. At his question, Khushi shrugged. Just because she liked him didn’t mean she will call for him at night, even if the dark scared her. She could always sleep with the lights on. She wanted him to see she was his equal, maybe more than a match for him at work. She absolutely didn’t want to think of him on personal basis. She kept the lid of her emotions closed tight when it came to Arnav Singh Raizada. There was no way she was going to let the events of the past repeat themselves. She was determined to keep him at an arm’s distance. She smiled sweetly and affirmed, “Very sure. If I think about it, it is you who needs me and not me who needs you.”
Arnav looked at her, his head cocked to one side, “How is it that I need you Khushi?”
Khushi felt this moment called for a bit of a bold statement. He was always the one in control while her emotions raged rampantly everywhere every time they were together. Time to give him the taste of his own medicine.
Khushi smiled, “You, Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada are always looking around for me when you need a file or a document or when you wish to talk to me about Aakash and Payal and how fed up you are of Aakash always lost in his day dreams and not paying attention to what you are saying, etc. You hound me with the help of your mobile and don’t let me sleep.. telling me I’m the only one you think you can talk to. Remember the time in the office where you came after me, annoyed because I had left my mobile phone behind during lunch and you wanted to know where the Singhania folder with contract documents might be? You almost had a nervous breakdown then.”
“That’s a gross exaggeration if I’ve ever heard one.” Arnav said and took a step forward towards her, a glint in his amber eyes indicating he was a little annoyed.
As he stepped forward, Khushi took a step back. She mentally noted that she stepped back every time he came forward. Was she afraid? Nah! An inner devil prompted her to say, “You may not want to own up to it but it’s true. When have I needed you for anything?”
Her question with arched eyebrows met silence from Arnav. His amber eyes held hers and she saw a flicker of emotion there, hot fire that she had come to become wary of. She took another step back, a tiny thrill going down her spine and a surge of adrenaline rushing through her body. Arnav was looking at her with that hot fire in his eyes. Those eyes were going to kill her one day, with the way they looked at her, as if they could look right into her, deep down and reach the basic level of her emotions, the foundation of her being. With heat in his eyes, he leaned in a little closer, tantalizing her nose with the smell of his aftershave. He smelled like deep, dark wood that bound mystery and fantasy into one. He leaned a little more close as she leaned back.
Slowly, deliberately, very deliberately Arnav placed his right hand on the wall next to Khushi’s shoulders and then just as slowly placed his left one on the other side, trapping her between him and the wall. Leaning closer, so close that their bodies nearly touched, he said softly, “You know what i think? I think you’re lying Khushi. I think you have needs too; needs that you need me for.”
His husky voice sent shivers down her spine. His body warmth felt like a live wire, wrapping itself around her body. She felt her tummy tingle and tighten. She stuttered but carried on firmly, “Of c-course I have needs. I need 7 hours of sleep every night, the more the better, I need three full meals a day, snacks in between, challenging work, daily regime of 20 minutes of exercise while I-“
“-lie naked in my bed.”
Khushi’s mouth dropped open in sheer shock, her cheeks going from bright pink to red. Her heart stopped for a second, then re-started and then beat faster. She snapped her mouth closed immediately in panic lest it be taken as an invitation. Her mind scrambled to think of a fitting retort but came up blank. Her mind had gone in deep freeze, it seemed.
Arnav leaned even closer as his mouth met her ear. He didn’t attempt to kiss her ear, instead whispered sexily in it, “Actually twenty minutes may be too quick. I’d recommend a minimum of forty or even the entire day if possible.” His eyes when he leaned back met hers.. sexual hunger apparent in them.
Khushi was tongue-tied, literally! Still blushing, she tried to speak, urging her brain to wake up an come with a sharp retort. She lifted her chin, her heart beating like jungle drum of one-two dance, making her head spin and her body ultra-alive. “Thanks for the offer but I believe there’s plenty of exercise I can do without troubling you.”
Arnav’s eyes laughed at her, “Really?”
She fought the sudden urge to let her eyes smile back at him. She let her imagination run wild in the other direction so that she could distract herself from the fact that he was too close to her right now. She knew the style of warm-up and the aerobic activity he was talking about- the one that ended in bed and in tears. She recommended a cool-down phase to her body as she said, “ Uhh.. yes. The things I have in mind don’t require me to – they require no nudity at all.”
‘But nudity is good. You’re naked when you bathe.”
“Yes, good logic but I bathe in private. In public, I prefer clothes on my body.”
Arnav’s mouth leaned closer to her ear again, practically grazing her earlobe. She was sensitive there. A zing went through her body at that contact and she almost stopped breathing when he said, “But I can show you how the right activity can motivate you to be…naked” and after a pause “with me.”
Her heart beat at such a frantic speed that she was sure he could hear it out loud. She loved the feel of his lips on her earlobe and the tender skin that he had decided to explore below, oh so slowly. A shiver ran down her as he caught her ear this time between his teeth and held it. He was teasing her, he was tormenting her and he wanted her to melt in his arms. Something that Khushi knew she loved but should definitely avoid.
But how can she ignore this ache inside her, making her feel the driving need to do exactly as he was saying? When she stayed quiet, he whispered again into her ear, “Come on Khushi, admit it. You do like the idea of being naked with me, maybe even skinny dipping in the night in the sea with me.”
Khushi fought hard but a grin surfaced and stuck to her mouth. Arnav sounded as if he was getting a little frustrated that she was silent and not responsive enough. That she was fighting. She decided there was no harm in some fun at his expense. Anyway, she was intrigued about those things he’d said. She deliberately let her eyes go unfocused as if she was thinking, “I – don’t know Arnav. Maybe- once I’m done with all the activities there are to do out here on the beach, all by myself.”
His reply was to kiss her throat and bite the side of it gently as if punishing her for torturing him. The touch of his lips on her throat; a brief touch and the light bite set the fire in her body roaring. He licked the place where he had bitten making he visibly shiver as he asked, “-activities by yourself, eh? What kind of activities?”
Khushi sighed, her voice dropping to a whisper, heat in her body growing my mini-second, “Everything. There’s endless number of activities I can occupy myself with this weekend here.”
“Name ‘everything’. Name a few of them.” Arnav kissed the collarbone, licking the nerve throbbing there. Khushi gasped as his tongue flicked the region of her collarbone. “I’m waiting Khushi.” He added just before sliding his mouth up the neck, to her ear and kissing her ear.
Khushi felt her thoughts becoming a complete muddle in her head at this gesture. She felt as if her brain had decided to take leave and go away from her body. Her skin was on fire everywhere his mouth had touched. She grabbed his shirt front and clung to him, moving closer. She needed contact, more contact of her body to his.
“Khushi?” Arnav prompted. Khushi tried to think, tried hard while he continued touching her, kissing her. Her mouth dried, her belly tied into knots when he reached the neck of her halter top. She wanted him to touch her, wanted his hands down her ribs, playing with her breasts, under her breasts, sliding down the complete length of her. She was trying hard not to think of how his mouth was moving over the line of her tank top when sudden inspiration made her speak up. “Swimming.”
He was smart and had not lost his senses yet. “That’s one activity. What else?”
“Isn’t that enough?” Khushi was barely able to speak, her voice turning hoarse with desire.
“No, not enough. Tell me more.” Arnav answered, his hands moving to her face, cupping it, titling the head while the side of her neck was exposed. His fingers moved towards her nape and caressed her there. Khushi shuddered. She had no idea this was one of her erogenous spots. His lips followed his hands, kissing an invisible spot on the nape of her neck. At the touch there, Khushi’s chest came out to meet his and a moan dragged from her mouth, “Arnav stop please!”
“Your actions belie your words Khushi.” Arnav chuckled as Khushi gripped his shirt tighter holding him closer to her, pressing herself against him. He had turned devious though. “You said endless number of activities.”
He was touching her, tasting her and literally driving her crazy. How could she think when she was being bombarded by sensations from head to toe? She choked as she said, “jogging.”
“That’s two activities.”
‘jogging” Khushi said, the word turning into a moan as he moved her to face the wall, her back to him. He moved closer, his hands slowly sliding down the exposed back. He kissed her ear again from the back and said, “more Khushi?”
Khushi could only moan and say, “yes!” She heard the chuckle as he said, “so tell me, what more activities do you have in mind?”
Khushi looked back at him, her eyes betraying the fire burning inside her body and she spoke again, “jogging-“
He kissed her again by the ear, “you already said that honey.” Khushi could feel the fire burning, the heat building. This was nothing to be taken lightly and she’d been a fool to have provoked him, she accepted. This was wild- this passion and it was making her wild with need. It was new to her and very strong and she didn’t know how to handle this. She wriggled, helplessly moving backwards until her back touched his chest completely and she could feel the hard stomach and something harder beneath that stomach. She tried to speak, “snorkelling, sailing in the boat, sailing in the boat-“
“One activity can be counted only once Khushi.” Arnav said, almost losing his control when Khushi moved her hips against his stomach, making him harder than he already was for her. He desired her so intensely that he wanted to run his hands on her bare thighs and put his hands under her short skirt. But he was strong and he could control. He didn’t want to touch her below her waist yet. Not yet. At this moment, he didn’t want to stop this torture and this slow fire that burned their bodies. He waited.
“What about kissing? That’s an activity.” Khushi sighed, turning towards him again. She wanted to touch those lips, she needed them on hers.
He was the ultimate tease though. He didn’t kiss her despite knowing she wanted it. He lifted his head and moved a little away from her, considering her question. It brought a groan of need out of Khushi’s lips as she said, “Please Arnav. I need you to kiss me. Stop this teasing.”
He bent towards her, his elbows bending by the sides so that he was completely leaning onto her, crushing her chest with his and grinding his hips against hers. She responded back in kind and moaned. He still didn’t kiss her.
Suddenly Khushi couldn’t stand it anymore. She reached up to him, winding her arms around his neck and dragging his mouth to meet hers. She slashed his lips with her tongue and kissed him hard. Her lips parted again for him to enter. She wanted to open for him all the way. She couldn’t resist. She wanted to experience him, feel her blood racing across her veins, inside out. The kiss deepened while she grew soft and pliant in his arms. This was the best sensual experience that she’d ever had yet. She wondered what it’d be like if she surrendered totally to her needs.
As if sensing what she was thinking, Arnav lifted his head and took a deep breath. He moved a little away from her now, breaking body contact and then coming back again to press himself harder as he said, “So.. We’ve proved that you do need me, even if it is not naked then at least for a kiss.”
It took some time for the statement to penetrated Khushi’s desire fogged mind but as she did, she pushed him away, horror written plainly over her face at what she’d done, what she’d said to him. Arnav smiled slightly as she started smoothing her top and straightening her skirt that had ridden a little higher.
Her lips tingled and her body was still aching for his, the fire of need going strong. Khushi clamped it down by saying briskly, ignoring his statement, “Thanks for the house tour. I’m going to go into my room and- freshen up. I know where everything is now.”
“I do too Khushi.” Arnav’s smile stretched wider, laughter just beneath the warm glint of his amber eyes. Khushi blushed again as the meaning of his sentence seeped in. She gritted her teeth, gave him a blank smile and moved away. She didn’t really look where she was heading to. All she wanted to do was move away from his physical presence and calm herself down. The result of not looking where she was going was that she bumped her nose into the wall and wailed, “oowww!! Bloody hell!”
Immediately Arnav came to her rescue, concern all apparent in his eyes, “Khushi!” He took her hands away from the nose and looked at it. Then tut-tutted, “you’re so careless I swear! Dekh kar nahi chal sakti! Stupid woman. Idhar aao ab! Come with me.” He caught her hand in his and started walking towards the kitchen.
Khushi blushed with embarrassment and outrage. She tried to remove her hand from his, “How dare you call me stupid! You- you… “
“I don’t like you swearing but you just won’t listen to me, would you? So go ahead. You can swear as much as you want. There’s a small scratch on your nose. Just let me clean it and put a Band-Aid there. The first aid box is in the kitchen cabinet.”
He made her sit down on one of the chairs by the kitchen table and took out the first-aid box. Slowly he wiped her nose with a piece of damp cotton.
“I don’t want to put a Band-Aid on my nose. If you’re insisting, just apply some cooling ointment and I’ll be fine.”
Arnav looked at her in exasperation and finally acceded, “Okay. But after this, you go to your room and rest. I don’t want you moving about for at least two hours. Samjhi tum?”
Khushi huffed but stayed still as he applied the cooling antiseptic cream. Inwardly she loved the attention and care he showed for her. He looked so adorable when he was like this- his eyes hard and focused on her nose, at the wound while his hands ever so gentle. She made a hissing sound once and he stopped, his eyes watching her face to catch a glimpse of any pain he may have caused. He said, “sorry” once and then became gentler than before while applying and rubbing the cream on her nose. Khushi felt as if she would melt on the spot and thanked God she was sitting in the chair.
She came out of her memories as she applied the moisturizer on her face, taking extra care to be gentle to the spot on her nose that had turned a little red. A huge sigh left her. If only he’d show that side to her again, convinced her that the gentle side of Arnav Singh Raizada was there to stay, she’d think of opening up to him again.
Checking her reflection once again, she picked up her purse and left the room. It was time to meet Arnav at the Barista parking.
Do forgive me if you find any mistakes despite having proof-read the chapter beforehand. My eyes are killing me right now with that acne inside the right eyelid. 😦
A bright new morning woke Arnav up from his peaceful slumber with a smile upon his face. Obviously the reason for this smile was his dream about Khushi and the much anticipated day out with her. Sleep had eluded him last night for a long while his guilt of his earlier treatment of her gnawed at his soul.
He wasn’t sure if he would ever be able to forgive himself for all that he had done to hurt Khushi. Ironic wasn’t it, that he had been the one to hurt her the most when he was supposed to be the one to bring utmost happiness into her life. After much pacing around the room, he had decided that his current modus operandi of winning back Khushi was the right step if ever wanted to live peacefully with his conscience and in his life with the woman he loved. He sat up, stretched and headed purposefully towards the bathroom with his newspaper, a spring in his step.
Khushi had been up and about long before Arnav woke up. She had been roaming about in the garden thinking constantly about where she would take Arnav today and how they’d spend the day. Strange that she didn’t really feel her sanity endangered as she would have a month back. The only feeling that persisted was an exciting fizz in her stomach as her heart wondered what may happen during the day time when they were alone together. She mocked herself- a month back, she’d have run miles with the thought of spending any alone time with Arnav at all, but things had changed today, and so quickly too! She was ready to spend time with him without any coercion or seduction.
She refused to become anxious and kept the worries her head warned her off at the back of her mind. Now was not the time to be scared or give in to cowardice. This was the time to face Arnav, show him how unsuitable she found him the way he was, with his “kiss-my-feet-I-am-the-King” attitude. However there was a part of her head that rang alarm bells and made her body nerveless, the part that reminded her of how cruel he could be.
This was not to say he was all bad, her heart argued with that part of her brain. He was kind, loving and generous to the people he loved or cared for. He may be ruthless and not give a damn in the business world but he had never mistreated any employee. Sure, when he got angry the whole office could walk on eggshells for all her cared but he was never unfair. As long as the company employees worked in his well-oiled office, giving their best performances, he was happy.
In his personal life, Khushi had seen more than one example of how he behaved with people he cared for and people he disliked. She had seen both the sides of him. The side that worshipped her sister, the side that kept people he had to socially interact with but regarded with distaste at bay, without being rude or impolite, the side that was nice to children and the side that desired her so much so that–Drat! Despite her rigorous efforts, her heart kept on sending memory messages to the brain bank, taking it back to the events of the past.
The time when Arnav had cornered her in the office at a party, the time at Raizada house, at the tennis club, the day when they all went to the temple for special prayer and how he asked for her forgiveness with his eyes for his earlier behaviour kept coming up. And that was not all- the time when he had gotten mad with rage when she had refused to go out with him and break her date with another of her friends guided by plain jealousy, the times when he would catch her unawares with his eyes, the times when he would be there to take care of her and protect her before she came through any harm, the weekend at the Goa beach house when they had finally given in to the feelings and desires, the wild night of passion on the beach that had followed the weekend; all of these memories kept wanting to surface again and again while she pushed them back.
Khushi told herself that this was not the time to indulge or live in past memories; not when there was new memory to be made – the one that would be the first step towards deciding whether Arnav was worthy of her love or not. She had given it unconditionally earlier but now, she would keep it safe until she was sure he deserved it.
Last night, she had informed her grandmother of her decision and had been wished good. Mrs. Gupta had been surprisingly calm about it, simply reminding Khushi that her happiness rested in her own hands and if she thought Arnav worthy of a second chance one way or another, she should throw all the doubts out from her mind as one throws garbage out of the house. Negativity needs to get out letting positive thoughts take hold of the mind so that peace may prevail.
Khushi had kissed her grandmother good night and assured her that she will first and foremost look at the positive side and only then count the negatives against the positives. However she would also make sure, she vowed to herself, that she would not fall into the trap of physical longing this time and give in to his demands and wishes.
She grabbed her bag from the nearby table to check the contents of her bag, to ensure everything she’d need in the span of this day was there.
She was dressed today in a blue Kurta that had little white flowers embroidered on it with white tights. The sleeves of the Kurta were organza fabric and the dress was her favourite cotton for summers. She was about to put on her glasses and then debated with herself. Should she wear her lenses? Maybe not. She didn’t want Arnav to think she was wearing lenses especially because of him. She put on her glasses more firmly on the nose. So firm was the push that she got hurt on both sides of her nose by the frame of the glass.
“Aowww damn it!” Khushi swore and despite several lectures to not go there, her brain transported her to the time and the incident when he had taken her to his beach house in Goa for the weekend before he had proposed.
Hello readers! Here’s presenting the next chapter. As usual, shall wait for your likes and comments. 🙂 I have decided to divide this chapter into A-B-C sections so that I am able to do justice to all the thoughts portrayed by Arnav, Khushi, their outing as well as the flashback that is an essential part of this chapter. Enjoy 19 A. 19B comes tomorrow. 🙂
Chapter 19 A:
Time seemed to have stopped for Arnav as he waited for her in Barista, occupying one of the love seats near the glass window. He kept looking at his watch every five minutes, waiting for his happiness personified; his Khushi to enter. She was late today and it was already quarter to five. It was also very unlike her since Khushi was always the one girl he knew who prided on her punctuality. He was anxious, no he was worried. His heart was sure he would come to meet him, but his logical mind gave him doubts. His head kept on telling him, he was insane to think she’d even entertain this meeting in her head in any way. Khushi in a way, was as ruthless as he was.
His heart refused to admit defeat though. Now that he knew what he felt for Khushi was way beyond lust, maybe even love he was not ready to let her go. He closed his eyes and willed his heart and mind to become one thought, one purpose. And just as quickly opened them. She was here!
Khushi entered the cafe after a lot of contemplation. It was alright to sit in the room and decide that she’d meet him. But when the time came to actually see him, she had grown cold feet. She’d been standing outside the cafe, in the parking lot since the last one hour, since the time she’d seen Payal off at the railway station. She hadn’t been able to muster enough courage until now to get her feet to move towards the cafe. It was constant encouragement that her head had given to her “almost-faint-with-anxiety”heart that had made her finally move ahead. She looked at herself in the glass doors. She had not particularly dressed up to meet Arnav today. In fact, her defiance had been such that she had donned her glasses, and worn a salwar kurta. She knew Arnav would expect her in her natural look-jeans and T-shirt with no make up on. That had made her wear a bit of make up too. She had braced herself for the astonished looks from Payal and her grandmother when she’d come down her room. Both had done exactly that but kept quiet. For that, she was grateful.
It had been alright until she had said goodbye to Payal and made her way to the cafe. Doubts about her appearance came up then. Was she overdressed? Had she applied too much make-up? What would he think when he’d see her like this? She’d gained weight and looked curvy. Maybe wearing salwar kurta had been a bad idea since she looked very – filled in in her dress. And why did she choose the red one when she had been planning to wear the blue one? She kicked herself several times mentally for her dress, her looks. She worried non stop all the way and while standing outside for an hour.
Debate raged on in her head if she should go home and change. Finally, a bell rang in her head and her heart eagerly complied to this thought. What did it matter how she looked? She was giving him a chance to gain her trust, her love; not the other way round. He should be worried about how he’d behave with her, and she should not at all bother to look good for him!
Arnav knew the exact second Khushi came in as his breath hitched in his throat. She was wearing red! Nothing else could have put that smile on his face as that dress did. He knew in an instant that it must be have been an unconscious decision because from the way he looked, he knew Khushi had dressed up in defiance. Khushi almost never went for make-up if she could help it and today she was wearing it. Earlier Khushi would’ve worn a pair of jeans and a top to defy him but no more. Today she wore an Indian traditional dress to signify that she wished to follow the old fashioned rule of courting. Her glasses, that had been absent in Delhi told him that she wanted to him to see her with her as she was. So she wore glasses, so she had bad eye sight. What she didn’t realize is that such things didn’t bother him. It may have at one point in time, but no more. She could wear sack clothes and dress like a clown and he’d still find her beautiful.
Khushi felt his presence a split second before she saw him sitting like a royal prince in one of the love seat by the glass window. Hesitation and discomfort took hold of her being. Was she doing the right thing by coming here to hear him out? But how could she not? She had promised Jiji and herself that she’d give him a fair chance. She looked at him again while she walked towards him. Her heart beat just that little quicker seeing him dressed casually. The man was a powerful dynamo and no matter what he wore, he still looked dazzling.
She schooled her features into a mask and gave him a polite smile as she took the other seat. “Hope you’ve not been waiting long, sorry am late.” she said.
Arnav raised his eyebrow and smiled, “What happened to Hi?”
She never even cracked a smile, “Hi.”
Arnav smiled in acknowledgement. “Hi. It was no problem waiting for you. If needed, I’d have waited all my life. What happened though? You’re never late.”
“I – got waylaid by something.” Khushi grabbed the first excuse that came to her mind. Thankfully Arnav didn’t question her any further on it. Instead he asked, “What would you like for refreshments? An espresso as usual?”
“I’ve changed a bit Arnav. I don’t drink espresso anymore.” To the standing waiter she smiled and said, “one mocha please.”
Arnav ordered his usual double shot of espresso and said, “So you’re off espresso?”
“Not really but I don’t feel like drinking espresso so often any more. Even when I do, I drink cappuccino or mocha these days.” Khushi replied.
They stayed quiet for some time but it was not the kind of quiet that was uncomfortable. It surprised Khushi to feel that while they were quiet, the comfort level of simply sitting there with him was very high. She was not at all on the edge! Instead, some part of her was waiting for him to speak on the main topic, the reason for which she had today agreed to meet him. Apparently, he didn’t intend to speak about it as yet.
Arnav looked covertly from under his lashes as they waited for the coffee to arrive. She looked prepared to sit with him and talk. It encouraged him a lot more than he’d have thought and granted him the strength to hold on until after the coffee had arrived. His earlier instinct had been to quit all this wooing and courting. When she came in to the cafe, he had looked as if she’d run away if he even spoke a word. His heart wanted him to simply go down on his knees and beg her to come back to him but now he realized she waited for him to court him in the right way, thereby earning her love back. He was ready to go it.
When the coffee arrived, he thanked the waiter and said to her, “Do you come here often with your friends?”
Khushi picked up her mocha cup with care as she replied, “Sometimes. I don’t go out much. Mostly I like to take my car and go away on a long drive. Sometimes I simply go to Bhimtal or sometimes to the nearby towns.”
“Your maternal family has always stayed here, in that house?” asked Arnav.
Khushi took a sip of her mocha and said, “As a matter of fact, yes. My mother grew up here and was married from here. Everyone out here knows our family and gives it the respect it has earned. My grandfather build two schools out here; one for the girls and one high-school. He along with my grandmother had been one of the most loved couples. Even today, grandmother is respected throughout the town. I love this town and have been coming here for my holidays since I was kid. I know all there is to know about the town and the nearby places simply because I thought one day I may settle down here and maybe manage grandmother’s estate. I guess I will be doing that.”
Arnav ignored the red herring. “I’ve been to Nainital before but only when business demanded it and only for a day or two. I never got a chance to know much about the city.” Arnav said, finally taking the first step towards his well thought out plan. “Can you tell me something about it?”
This request surprised Khushi. She had thought he would simply come to the point, as he always did and demand that she forgive him. If she was honest with herself, she felt a new pleasure in knowing that he wanted to know something about the place she loved.
She sat quietly for a bit and then spoke, “Do you know how the name Nainital came to be?” At the shake of his head, she smiled, “It’s something to do with the story of Shiva and Sati. Did you know that they were the first lovers of the Universe ? When Sati died, Shiva was devastated. He was inconsolable, he roamed about the universe with Sati’s dead body in his hand until Lord Vishnu cut Sati’s body into pieces. It is said that Sati’s eye fell in the lake here. The eye is called “Nain” in Sanskrit and lake is called “tal”. Thus the place got its name Nainital.”
“Lovely story that despite being mythical sounds reasonable. And the lake is quite something, isn’t it.”Arnav mused. He wasn’t religious but he knew Khushi was and it would not do well to mock her sentiments at any time. In fact, he could actually empathise with Shiva. To lose the one woman you love is devastating.
A first genuine smile appeared on Khushi’s lips since the time she had entered the cafe. She said, “Nainital is called “lake paradise” and Naini lake is one of the main attractions for the tourists. Kingfisher yacht race takes place here. It is also a great source of fresh water and fresh water fish. In this season you will find yachts, boats; both paddle and rowing boats aplenty on the lake. If you have the time or the inclination, you can go there and enjoy an afternoon out.”
“Hmm..”was all Arnav said as she gulped down his espresso. Then, as if thinking about it, he said, “What are the other places to see in and around Nainital?”
Khushi raised her eyebrow, “You plan to make this a touristy visit Arnav?”
Aranv nonchalantly shrugged his shoulder, “I’m here as long as I need to be here to convince you that I’m not that bad a guy and do deserve a second chance.”
Khushi hurriedly looked down. A thought occurred to her, “So you’re not here on business?”
Arnav shook his head slowly, his gaze showing the seriousness of his reply, “No Khushi, I’m here simply for you. My business is on hold until I can prove myself worthy in your eyes as well as my own. “
“Arnav–” Khushi started to shake her head but was ruthlessly cut off as Arnav said, “Please Khushi, let me finish. By coming here, you’ve given me a ray of hope that maybe I still hold a modicum of respect, a place in your heart somewhere. I know that I have wronged you badly but all I am asking you to do is give me some time to prove I am still worthy of your thoughts, your love. After that, if you still can’t find any love for me in your heart, I will leave. I will never ever bother you.”
“I don’t know how to do it Arnav.” Khushi placed her situation in front of him honestly. “Even if I may forgive you, even I found it in my heart to love you, how will I ever live with the fact that you once thought of me as-”
“Stop, please. Let the past be where it is for now. All I am asking you to do Khushi is to look at me without colouring me from what happened between us in the past. Let this be a new beginning? ”
“How?” Asked Khushi, bewildered. Her heart wanted to give him a chance, desperately even though her mind quaked at the thought of it.
“Spend the day with me tomorrow. Show me the places you like in Nainital tomorrow Khushi.” Arnav put forward his proposition at a gaping Khushi.
“You want to see Nainital with me? Why?”
“I want to see it the way you see it. I want to know the reason why you love this town. Will you show it to me Khushi?”
She could have said no, but a part of Khushi wanted to do that–she wanted to show him her haunts, her favourite places. She wanted him to see what she liked and tell him why she liked it. Maybe that could be the first step towards better understanding? After all, didn’t she say she’d give him a fair chance?
She nodded her head in acquiescence. “Okay Arnav. I will show you around tomorrow. But I have a condition. We will go around the town like ordinary people. No attitude, no suits, no fancy cars, no bodyguards, no expensive hotels for lunch. You will be an ordinary man with 500 rupees in your pocket and I will be who I am. I have seen your world and now I want to show your mine. I want you to see what it is like to not be a billionaire with the world at his feet.”
“Deal.” Arnav agreed to her condition immediately. She was ready to show him around and that in itself was a feat!
While he was still digesting the fact that he had gotten Khushi to agree to his plans, Khushi placed some money on the table and got up, “Dress casually but keep a light sweater with you. It tends to get cool in the evening around these parts. See you tomorrow morning at 8 Arnav. I will meet you here. Here’s my share of the money for coffee.”
Arnav had no intention of arguing at this time. “See you.” Before she could guess his intention, he leaned in and gave her a peck on the cheek. Thoroughly taken aback by this gesture, she looked up and was alarmed to find those liquid amber eyes so close to her. He looked into her eyes and Khushi felt as if she’d melt. Her eyes strayed to his mouth close to hers as he whispered, “I’m allowed to do that, aren’t I?”
Khushi simply looked at him, her eyes pools of want that made Arnav want to kiss her again, this time around on the lips. But her lashes quickly fell over her eyes and when she opened them, they were devoid of the fire that raged inside her. She simply nodded and left.
Arnav saw Khushi leave, his dark glasses hiding the emotions that showed plainly in his eyes. This round went to him, with Khushi agreeing to show him something of Nainital tomorrow. He dialled Mrs. Gupta’s number. It was picked up immediately by her. He smiled and he was sure Mrs Gupta could hear his smile, “Mubarak ho naniji. Khushi has agreed to show me Nainital tomorrow. We shall leave tomorrow morning by your car. She has demanded that I travel in her car and learn something of Nainital with the eyes of an ordinary man.”
“An ordinary man? Whatever does that mean?” Mrs. Gupta asked from the other end.
“What she means is- I should leave my rich and arrogant billionaire attitude behind along with my riches. In her words, “I want you to leave your “pompous-ass-I-am-always-right-self” behind and see what Nainital looks like with my eyes. Look at it with the eyes of an ordinary man and you’ll understand something of me. She’s smart, your granddaughter.”
He heard Mrs Gupta laugh and unwillingly a smile lit his face too. He was thankful to her wholeheartedly for her assistance in getting Khushi back. He could never forget how she had calmly but firmly reprimanded him during their first meet. He had wanted to tell her everything but she had refused to listen to him, saying she knew he had broken Khushi’s trust in some manner. If anything would persuade her to help him, it would be Khushi’s happiness because at one level she knew her granddaughter very well and realized that without Arnav, she would always remain unhappy. She knew that no matter how much Khushi may deny she was in love with him. That had brought tears to his eyes. Arnav had hung on to this small sliver of hope.
For the first time ever, arrogant Arnav had been absent from that meeting, overtaken by Arnav the humble man. He had declared his love for Khushi to her and convinced her that he wanted to win her trust, her love back. Mrs Gupta had told him then that she would help him only if she found Khushi’s reaction in his favour after their meeting at Mallika’s engagement. Once the meeting had been done, Mrs Gupta had called him herself, extending the hand of help and declaring without a doubt that Khushi could be happy only when she would accept his love for her. Today was the first step towards his redemption.
Mrs Gupta said, “Yes, I know she is smart and that will make your job a little more difficult. You have chosen to fall in love with a woman who can stand for herself, think for herself.”
“I’m proud of the fact naniji that Khushi is such a woman. No one else could have seen me the way she does.” Arnav said with heartfelt sincerity, in a tone that was tinged with hestiation. “Maybe I’m not good enough for her naniji. This is the reason why I am going to prove myself to her as well as myself and then let her decide.”
“My blessings are with you my dear Arnav. Best of luck to you for tomorrow.” Mrs. Gupta blessed him and they said their goodbyes.
Tomorrow morning couldn’t come soon for Arnav now.