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.