You are on page 1of 17

FF: Ordinary Girl in an Extraordinary Affair Flashbacks are in green and italics.

Chapter- 7 Once inside the house, Khushi immediately went in search of her grandmother and Payal. She was shaking from the encounter. Oh how could she have- why did she have to feel this pull towards that hateful man! She will never forgive him. He could say sorry till he was blue in the face and she'd not relent! NEVER! She found Payal, her grandmother and Mallika all sitting together. They looked up as she went in and Mallika exclaimed first, Where the hell did you go off to? Everyone wanted to meet you and congratulate you but you just have to go off in your own world! Where the hell have you been and why are you panting? Khushi put a hand on her head as dizziness was close by. All three women stood up immediately from their respective places, exclaiming in concern. Mrs Gupta had of course, already guessed what had happened and knew that sooner or later this stage would have arrived. She'd have preferred later but the youth today was so impatient! Ah these young lovers! Khushi could feel darkness enveloping her. Payal swore softly under her breath and held her tight. She made her sit down while Mallika ran to get her a glass of water. When she came back, Khushi was still lying on the sofa with her eyes closed. Baffled, Mallika asked Payal, What's wrong with her? She was fine all this time and now.. what has happened to her Payal di? Payal made Mallika sit down who looked like she'd burst into tears. It's nothing. You know how Khushi is, she'd run around and then fall down exhausted. That's all. Maybe we should just call it a day and take her home. After all, we have to be back here tomorrow for your engagement ceremony. Mallika looked somewhat comforted by Payal's words but Khushi felt like someone was pushing her deeper into the quagmire of hurt. She opened her eyes and exclaimed, I want to go home now Jiji. Take me home now. she looked at Mallika and composed her features desperately, I'll see you tomorrow morning, okay? Come home. Mallika hugged her once and let her go. Mrs. Gupta clucked like mother hen as Payal helped Khushi into the car. Once home Khushi couldn't wait to go into her room. Mrs. Gupta asked her if she wanted to eat something but Khushi declined. She just wanted to rest and be alone. Payal looked at her worriedly as he climbed up the stairs to go into her room. I hope Arnavji knows what he is doing. How could he have just come out like that grandma? He should've done it when we were present.

Mrs Gupta sat down in her favourite chair and picked up her knitting. No Payal. It is for the best that he met her alone. They need to do this by themselves. Young love needs some privacy. Khushi is very private when it comes to her emotions, my dear. She may not be as mature and sensible yet as you are when it comes to feelings and expressing those feelings but she definitely would feel humiliated if Arnav would meet her in front of us and try to explain or ask for her forgiveness. Payal sighed and looked up at Khushi's room. The door was closed and all was quiet. Maybe you're right grandma. Khushi does keep to herself when it comes to her feelings. I just hope she's alright. Leave her alone and she will be. She's nothing if not strong, my granddaughter. Mrs Gupta announced, her hands busy knitting but her mind working toward a plan. No one need know yet how she could help them but help them she would.

Khushi fell on her bed after she'd taken off her evening finery and taken a shower. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't remove the feel of Arnav's hands on her shoulders, her hands, her face, her waist. He was so much a part of her that every time she touched herself in those areas, she could feel his touch. She had cried in the shower and called him names, trying in vain to scrub herself where he'd touch, to remove the feel of his hands but she couldn't. How was she going to live the rest of her life is just one meeting with him put her right on the edge of insanity? He still wanted her and yet he hadn't trust her enough. If such a time came again, would he leave his judgement on the side and stand by her, supporting her? No, she didn't think that would be how Arnav Singh Raizada would behave. He would probably call her names again and she would be humiliated again, he would break her heart again if she gave him the chance. Tears welled up in her eyes again and she angrily wiped them away. Did he even had she been so wrong when she'd fallen for him? Had she mistaken the lust in his eyes as love? She got up from the bed and went to sit down on the indoor swing by the window and held her head in her hands. She had to be strong; she had to learn to be strong. She couldn't give in no matter how many times he asked for forgiveness. He didn't trust her and that, in her book was the basis enough to break all contact with him. Restlessness seemed to be her companion for tonight. Khushi got up and added a shawl to her attire of silk pyjamas in baby blue before getting out of the house and going towards Sophie's kennel. It was summer and the air was cooler than normal but Khushi loved the weather in Nainital. She whistled to call Sophie who came racing to be with her mistress. Khushi bent down on one knee and rubbed her ears, Yes, I know, I know.

I didn't see you today but you know how it was today. Today was for Mallika. Want to go walking with me girl? At Sophie's enthusiastic bark, Khushi smiled and started walking. Sophie ran rings around her, woofing, finding a stick now and then and bringing it for Khushi to throw. It was fun to play with her and after a while, Khushi laughed loudly, You always want more, don't you darling.. greedy bitch! Slowly, Khushi found herself relaxing and coming back to her normal self. Sophie always had a calming effect on her. Come then, it's late and time to go in. saying this, Khushi led Sophie back in the house.

The jitters that had plagued her last evening returned in full force when Khushi woke up and thought about getting ready to attend Mallikas engagement. She couldnt- she wont be able to face him again, she was sure! He would be there and how could she avoid him when hed be present in front of her eyes all the time? He would be there, he would be watching her and she- no, she couldnt do this to herself again.

Still in bed, she called up Mallikas private line. She knew her friend would be up by now, shouting orders at everyone around. Hey there pretty girl. Hows things coming along? Khushi spoke as Mallika picked up the phone. Argh! No, no you cant put that vase here in my room Shruti! I am not sophisticated like you are. Ill sure break it. Plus orchids dont match my mood. I need sunflowers today. Yellow in red and if you cant do it, to tell with Mums instructions, Ill get up and do it myself. What say? Mallika spoke to someone, her voice hopeful. Khushi knew the one who was being cajoled into removing Mrs Negis favourite orchids from Mallikas room- Shruti; Mallikas younger sister. There was a time when Shruti was the more dominant of the two sisters but tables had turned last season with Shruti failing badly at luring NK away from Mallika because she thought he wasnt good enough for her sister and both sisters confronting each other. Shruti had finally learnt her lesson and since then on, two sisters behaved quite amicably towards each other. If youd stop instructing her long enough and let the orchids be, auntyji herself would remove them. Khushi spoke into Mallikas ear, grinning to herself. Khushi, my love! Mallikas cheerful greeting came forth. Are you getting ready to come here? I need your help on so many things I tell you! The engagement dress has

arrived and the jewellery is still lying around in one of the cupboards. I dont remember where. And the make-up girl is about to come in by 11 and I have to be ready by 1:30. I swear to God Khushi, Im very nervous today! Come soon yaar. The grin faded from Khushis face. Mallika, I dont think I can come yaar. Is it okay if Payal jiji comes and helps you out? WHAT! Mallikas voice crossed the octave at Khushis words. What do you mean you cant come? Cant come right now or cant comeKhushi dont tease me! Khushis voice wobbled. She knew she was letting her friend down but she had to be selfish, she HAD to protect herself from Arnav. She didnt want to break into pieces again. Mallilka, I mean it. I cant come to the engagement party. Ive got to get out of town due to some urgent work. Im coming over. Mallika simply stated these four words and hung up..bringing fullfledged panic into Khushis room. If Mallika came over, thered be no way shed let Khushi get away from the engagement. Khushi got up quickly, washed and dressed herself into jeans and a sunny yellow Tee. She had to get out of the house; grandma and Payal could handle Mallika for now. Shed explain later. Adding a sweatshirt over her T-shirt, she ran downstairs to get out but was too late. Mallika was already there, sitting on the sofa with her grandmother, her face red with exertion. She must have driven real fast if she was here in less than 15 minutes! Khushi stopped as she heard her grandmother talk, Mallika, there are things about Khushi that are unpredictable. She was sick yesterday and worried about something too. I didnt think too much on it but now I believe her worries must be related to work. I dont care naniji, I will not let her go anywhere today! How can she do this to me naniji.. its one of the most important days of my life and my best friend, the only one Ive had from childhood now tells me she cant attend my engagement! How unfair is that? Tears werent far away. Khushi made a move to go forward when she saw Mallika starting to tear up. Mallika, let me explain. Please darling, you dont have to upset. Mallika whirled around, her eyes full of tears and blazing, You Khushi Kumari Gupta are going to attend my wedding. You get that? I wont let you go. Khushi sighed, Mallika- she tried to explain. Mallika of course, was in no mood to listen. Hysteria was not far behind as she got up.

You have to come to my engagement party Khushi! Id never forgive you otherwise. Youre the one who made me and NK confess our love. Mallika stamped her feet in annoyance and went to grandmothers room. Naniji, I insist! Please tell her that shes to come to my engagement party along with the rest of you guys. If she doesnt Im not getting engaged. Let NK wait forever! Khushi gasped at her friends declaration. Shed never thought Mallika would throw such a threat. She went forward, her hands held out, darling, please! Dont do this, Im sorry but- Khushi, I wish to speak to you alone. Mallika, sit here and calm down child. Khushi will attend your engagement party, I promise. Mrs Gupta spoke quietly but firmly. But- Khushi tried but had to quiet down with a glare from her grandmother. Mrs Gupta got up and asked Khushi to come along with her. Together, they went into Mrs. Guptas room. Close the door child. Mrs. Gupta instructed. When Khushi had done that, she patted the side by her sofa. Khushi went and sat down next to her grandmother. Mrs. Gupta began carefully, keeping her face devoid of any expression, Khushi, I need an honest answer. Is your decision based on the fact that you ex-fiance is here to attend the engagement? Khushi could only gape at her grandmother, with no words coming out her mouth. As if she had spoken her assent, Mrs Gupta continued, Do you want the world to see Khushi as a weakling? Do you want him to see you as a weakling who backs out of a social event simply because he is around? It is none of my business to know what happened between the two of you and why things stand the way they do but child, I must say I thought you were stronger. You back out of your best friends engagement event simply because he is around and you fear he may try talking to you? Grandma- how- you- did he- Khushi seemed unable to formulate much words, forget asking a question. Grandmother put a hand on her shoulder, He had called on Payal to let her know that he was in town. He doesnt you that youre here Khushi. He does now, grandmother. Khushi whispered, her throat clogged with tears. At her grandmothers questioning eyes, she clarified, I saw him yesterday, he came up to talk to me, said he- he wanted me back. He did? And what did you say child? Mrs Gupta was outwardly calm as a rock but feared her granddaughters reaction inwardly. I told him it was impossible for us to get together again. He has said some things that are unforgivable grandmother, I cant-

Khushi couldnt go on as tears rained down her face. Her grandmother nodded sagely and said, well, if you cant then you cant. But does that mean you hide away. I have never taught you to run away from adverse times Khushi. You cant let your own problems ruin your best friends engagement day, can you darling? Khushi remained silent, her head down, tears falling. Mrs Gupta squeezed her hand and sighed, Well, if you really think you cant face him at a social event where thered be so many people around you , its alright. Ill try and explain it to Mallika. She may be upset but shell come around eventually. Dont worry child. You go on out to where ever it is you were going. Mrs Gupta made to get up after patting Khushis hand but Khushi held on. Mrs Gupta sat down again. Khushi put her head in Mrs Guptas lap. Im scared grandmother. I was hurt badly before. I dont want to hurt again. I do not he was he said he loved me but- Mrs Gupta said some choice words under her breath that no woman of her age would utter and then tried to calm her granddaughter. In life, there are many problems that may crop up and you may feel that it is the end of your life. But it never is. Every attempt that is made to pull you down should make you more determined to get up and move on. Youre a brave one my child. Dont let anyone pull you down and despair. Get up and face the world like youve always done- with smile and spirit. One more thing Khushi- sometimes, people may make mistakes and judge you unfairly. But you may be called equally unfair if you dont give them their chance of forgiveness. If he wants to talk, let him do so. Give him the chance to explain. Khushi looked up, you really think so? He was cruel to me grandma. Why shouldnt I be equally cruel to him? He didnt even look for me when I left! Now that he has found me, he thinks he can take up from where we left off. I dont- I cant. Tell him that then child. Tell him it is impossible for you to forgive him so easily for whatever it is that he has done. He was cruel to you, you say. Is it in your nature to be cruel to people you love? At a startled glance from Khushi, Mrs. Gupta smiled and continued, I know my child. I know you love him despite all that may have happened between you two. Maybe you should let him know that he will have to earn your forgiveness. And trust grandma? Khushi asked. And trust. Her grandmother affirmed. Love is just a word if there is no trust in the relationship. Face him if you have to, if he comes to talk to you and explain this to him. Let the ball fall in his court and wait for his reaction.

I dont know grandma. Im scared. I have no answers, I am confused. I don't know if I still love him or not. I don't know if the hurt I still feel would ever fade away. I don't even know if I can ever forgive him. Khushi said. Mrs Gupta laid her hand on Khushis head and caressed her hair, Darling, if youre scared, youre not chicken. Youre brave because you are scared and you know it. The thing to do is to face it. Hmm? Khushi stayed quiet for a while, resting her head on her grandmothers lap and enjoying the love her grandmother showered over her. Then some inner resolve seemed to toughen her. She got up and hugger her grandmother. Thank you grandmother for being there for me, for not asking me questions and just letting me be. Thats what elders are here for darling. Mrs Gupta said smiling, her relief plainly there for Khushi to see in that smile. Not that she understood the real reason behind the relief. Now go on out and pacify your friend. Then get ready and well head out to Negi residence. And remember, if you need me, Im here for you. Have been and always will be. This is your house just as much as it is mine and your refuge from all evils of the world. Oh grandma, I love you! Thank you so much for being there. Khushi hugged her grandmother, tears filling her eyes again. Both grandmother and granddaughter then wiped each others tears and smiled. Slowly they got up and went outside where Mallika was waiting, watching the TV and biting her nails.

As she heard them approaching, she switched the TV off and came forward, Naniji Khushi quickly came forward and hugged her friend, Im sorry for hurting you Mallika, today of all days too! Forgive me? Mallikas eyes narrowed, I will if it means you will come to my engagement party and stay glued to me all day long. Done deal! Khushi smiled widely, making Mallika break into sobs and hugging her. Thank you Khushi. I was I didnt want to face this day without you. Hey, shhh.. its alright. Am going to be with you. Am so sorry for putting you through all this today. Now wipe your tears before they stain your cheeks and puff your eyes! Khushi quickly hugged her friend tight and further added, Let me throw some clothes in a bag and well leave for your place. Grandmother and Payal will follow later. Mrs Gupta nodded and hugged Mallika too. Be happy child. Go on now both of you. Well be there soon.

As the girls went out of the house, Mrs Gupta picked up the phone. It was time for her to talk to Mr Raizada about the next step. Khushi and Mallika were enjoying the aftermath of the engagement party. The engagement had gone off without a hitch. Punditji had done his job with the prayers and among other things, rings were exchanged between NK and Mallika. Their parents had embraced each other and gifts had been exchanged between both the parties. Khushi, dressed in a red sari with golden border and decked with gold earrings dangling from her ears and a necklace sitting pretty on her neck was a sight for sore eyes. Her red bangles made a jingling sound as if spreading cheerfulness where ever they jangled with her anklets adding sweet music to it. The sari gave her face a pink glow and minimal make up of a red gloss and kohl around her eyes made her look beautiful, totally rubbishing the idea that she could look plain. She had at Mallikas request left her glasses behind and worn lenses. While quivering inside with anxiety, she was outwardly calm and smiling. She had not seen Arnav anywhere around yet. Maybe he had left? Just when she started relaxing, she caught sight of him. He was dressed as usual, in his impeccable suit, his eyes focused on the person he was talking to. He looked handsome as ever. Her skipped a beat as she looked at him. He didnt look out of place and seemed quite comfortable with people around him. Just then he smiled at the lady he was talking to and Khushi felt her heart flutter. She turned away from him, clutching her sari to her chest. Khushi It was softly spoken but raised the hair on her arms. The voice was so close to her ears. She didnt dare turn around. She quickly strode away before he could say anything else. Arnav started moving forward. He hated it when Khushi walked away from him. In all these months, this was another constant that hadnt changed. He moved towards her and shed run away. He swore hed soon put an end to it. But as he started moving towards where Khushi had walked away to, he felt a hand on her shoulder, Arnaavv, where are you moving off to? Theyre going to play the band soon. I want to dance with you. It was Shruti Negi, Mallikas younger sister. Anrav turned around to find Shruti smiling like a shark at him. She was very provocatively dressed with a single strap holding her blouse from behind. Bare back and barely enough cloth to cover her front, draped with a pink gauze and net sari around her body, Shruti sure looked pretty tempting. But for

Arnav, she was as interesting as a lifeless statue. Shruti leaned into him and whispered in his ear, Maybe after a dance or two, we can move to the garden. What say? Arnav moved away from her hand, with enough ice in his eyes to freeze the blood in her veins. His smile was polite and dismissing. I dont dance Ms. Negi. Youd best find yourself another amusement for the evening. Shrutis eyes widened at his cold voice. Her smile faltered, her practised poise gone. She straightened, with blush covering her cheeks. Sorry, I thought maybe- Arnav sighed. Young girls had to be handled with care, especially when they were future business associates daughters, No problem. A simple case of miscalculation of interest is what happened. You look very pretty and Im sure therell be a lot of men whod love to dance with you. Good luck. He moved away and turned to the bar. Ordering himself a stiff drink, he wondered where Khushi had disappeared off to. He couldnt see her in the room. Gulping down his drink in one go, he thanked the bartender and went out of the party room that opened to the lobby of the house. He walked further out and saw Khushi. She was sitting with Mallika and other girls, who were giggling while Mallika blushed. Khushi had a strained smile on her face as she joined in the general talk. She was sitting with her head down, playing with the end of her sari and biting her lip softly. His Khushi and her traits were well known to him. He was sure she was trying to think of a way to get out of there. Payal sat along with them, laughing with the other girls and talking animatedly. Her laughter died abruptly as she saw Arnav coming towards the group. She looked at Khushi, anxiety for her sister, written plain on her face. Khushi, who had closed her eyes and was holding on to her sari tightly, knew he was here. Her heart beat had suddenly gone into over drive. He was the only one who had that effect on her. Mallikas voice rang out, Arnav, hey! Arnav looked at Mallika and smiled while the other girls looked at him too. A gasp from some girls broke the silence. Obviously, thought Khushi. Arnav Singh Raizada effect was taking hold of them so they would gasp. She opened her eyes to look straight into his glittering amber ones. She shivered at the amount of want she saw there- and determination.

Hi Mallika. Congratulations once again on your engagement. Lovely party. Arnav came forward towards them. Khushi looked at the other girls with scorn. She could see awe written their faces, their mouths open and eyes wide. Come meet my friends. Said Mallika and proceeded to introduce everyone around. When it came to Khushi and Payal, she gestured at Payal and said, Shes Payal Singhhey you guys share the same surname! She is Payal Singh Raizada! She is married and lives in Delhi. And this is her sister, Khushi; my best friend Khushi. Mallika grinned and her jaw dropped when Payal said, Arnavji is my brother-in-law Mallika. I had no idea. Papa never told me that! Mallikas eyes went wider as if a sudden thought occurred to her. So you know Khushi too. Of course. Arnav inclined his head towards her as he looked at Khushi. Dont we? Khushi had no choice but to speak. Her voice was a mere croak, Yes. Hello Arnav. Why dont you sit down with us Arnav and tell us how you like Nainital. Is this your first visit here? Khushi looked at her friend; Neha who had invited Arnav in her simpering, husky voice to join them. She ground her teeth in frustration. Oh for heavens sake! Shed always hated Nehas simper and her attempt to seduce boys with her voice. And here she was doing it with Arnav! There was nothing that she could do about it though so she lowered her eyes and looked down as other girls joined in the request. Arnav was actually enjoying this. Khushi looked flustered, blush rising on her cheeks, her annoyance apparent to him. This should be fun. He sat down and zeroed in on the girl who had invited him. What was her name- ah yes! Neha. I like Nainital very much Neha. All the more so since everything here is so beautiful. In fact, I think I will stay here for one extra week and spend time looking at beauty around here. It was the way he said it that finally loosened Khushis tongue. She lashed out, Be careful while straying away from the city Arnav. There are lots of animals around here who wouldnt spare you if you mistook their gentle demeanour as timid when you wander. Youd want to return to London in one piece. And almost groaned out aloud as another friend spoke up, Oh wow, London! You live in London? You dont live in India then? Another one spoke up, "NRI Munda hain Neha. Are you married Arnav?"

Arnavs eyes met hers amidst all others. He wanted to grin at her annoyance but kept his expressions in check. I used to live in London until a few months back. Ive moved to India now. I live in Delhi. And no, I'm not married...yet. Khushi glanced at Payal questioningly and then away. What did it matter to her where he lived now or if he was thinking about - what did he mean anyway with married not yet? Khushi shook herself mentally. It shouldn't matter to her. It didn't matter at all. He could live in Timbuktu and marry the Princess of Norway for all she cared. Arnav could feel heat rising from Khushi's being. He could see her trying hard to control her temper and her breathing. He decided to make it more difficult for her. His question to Neha, who sat listening to him with a look of pure lust on her face, startled Khushi, Have you ever been to Delhi, Neha? If not, you can come there sometime and Ill show you around. Khushi closed her eyes and tried to control her temper. She could feel the green monster rising from the depths of her being, his hunger apparent. Khushi felt a knot in her stomach as she realized what she felt. She was horrified at a merest mention of him being interested in someone else could cause such a fierce pang of pain in her heart and bring her to boiling rage. She couldnt do that to herself, she didnt want to feel this burning jealousy that slowly seemed to be enveloping her soul. Without putting her mind to it, she heard the conversation being carried out, where Neha pouted, visibly fluttering her lashes, making eyes at Arnav and said, So youd show me around in Delhi, huh? But I dont know anyone in Delhi. Where would I put up? He replied, his voice seducing the girls surrounding him, Well, now you know me. I have a big house with lots of rooms. Maybe youd like to stay there. It would be fun. Uhh.. totally flustered, Neha looked around and saw that the other girls were looking at this Arnav guy with the same lust that she felt. It was all a matter of staking claim, right? Her eyes were pure evil when she said, Sure! Id love to come and stay in your house. Mallika seemed totally dazed with the conversation. She cleared her throat, looked ar Arnav, mischief dancing in her eyes and said, Er-yes. Goodness Arnav, stop seducing the girl! Waise, its a good idea. In fact Im sure many girls here would want to take up on that offer. While they all laughed, Payal looked at Khushi who seemed to be in intense pain. Khushi? huh? Yes Jiji? Khushi opened her eyes and looked at Payal.

Are you feeling alright? You- Khushi cut Payal midsentence, Yes Jiji, Im absolutely fine, just a little suffocated. In fact, I think Ill go and sit with auntie and grandma for a bit. She gave a brilliant smile to Mallika who nodded her assent and without looking at Arnav, walked away from there. Arnav watched her go and smiled to himself. She was nothing if not feisty, yes- that was Khushi Kumari Gupta-soon-to-beMrs. Raizada. He just had to wait for his plans to come to fruition and fervently hope that shed not screw up the plans with her unpredictability. Khushi walked back into the house, with the party full on and people dancing around. While the young generation had taken up the dance floor, the elder generation had moved to the far side of the room, where comfortable sofas and lounges had been kept. Khushi made a face towards the noise emanating from the room and walked towards where her grandmother sat. She must be there somewhere. Khushi, come join us! Some of the guys from the dance floor called her. Change your traditional clothes and join us in fun babe. One of the guys, Gaurav shouted, giving her leering glances. Khushi laughed and shook her head in denial. She thumbed him down and signalled him a See you later to resume walking. She had barely taken two steps when she was held tight by her waist and roughly pushed out of the house again. Only one man had the guts to do that to Khushi Kumari Gupta. Anger that had been churning in her stomach was ready to spill out. She struggled furiously as he dragged her to the far side of the lobby, next to the swimming pool. All was quiet here, with no one around. Let me go, damn you! Get your hands off me Arnav! Arnav swivelled her so that she faced him now, her face red from anger while his amber eyes sparked with the same emotion. How dare you Arnav Singh Raizada! How dare you manhandle me, you bas- Khushi stopped, horrified with herself and closed her mouth with her hand before she could utter the one profanity that was true in Arnavs case. She tried turning away from him again and spat, Let me go this instant. I dont want anything to do with you. Arnav wouldnt let her go of course. He was just as angry as he held her by her waist and dragged her face to face, Sure, why would you want anything to do with me when there are guys out here you may already be doing with!

Khushi looked at him, her shock evident on her face, her struggles ceased for a moment. Youre a fine one to talk! Who was that who was seducing all the girls with his Come and stay with me in Delhi statement? Jealous sweetheart? Youve no need to be. Arnav caught her closer so that their chests were almost brushing against each other. You wish! It doesnt bother me in the least. Khushi spoke quietly, knowing that her struggles will brush her chest against his and burn her even more. She hated herself for this pool of desire that was accumulating between her legs at this close contact. She closed her eyes and repeated, Flirt with whoever you want Arnav. Just let me go. Im not interested in spending time in your company. The way you were giving a come-on to that guy on the dance floor, it looks like youre not short of company here in Nainital. Khushi gasped as the meaning of his words sank in. Oh how she hated that mocking drawl of his and-- he was actually accusing her of being promiscuous again! Her hand came forward to hit him but was caught mid-air. Chest heaving, they both stared at each other while Khushi laughed bitterly, Oh yes, double standards are at play again! You can flirt with any one you want but I cant even talk friendly with a guy. No wonder I dont want anything to do with you anymore. He caught her shoulders as regret flooded his being. What was he doing! He had to be gentle with her, woo her. In his jealous rage, hed completely forgotten himself and accused her when she was innocent. Would he never learn? Khushi, Im sorry. Khushi refused to look at him. Im shouldnt have said that. I just dont like the thought of you with anyone. I didnt mean to- It doesnt matter Arnav. Let me go please. Khushis voice was deathly quiet, tone flat. She moved his hand from her shoulder and made to go. Arnav was having none of it. He roughly caught her shoulder in his hand and turned her around, Look Khushi, I'm really sorry, okay? I shouldn't have said all that. I don't know what got into me or maybe I do. he uttered the four letter word that Khushi didn't really think a man who was apologizing would use in front of her. To top it, he was still holding her, his strong hand gripping her shoulder while she trembled inwardly. All she could do was stare at his shirt buttons and pray Devi Maiyya please extricate me from this situation. How could you put me in such a- and after all that he had said before and again please make him let go of my shoulder, NOW.

While she closed her eyes and prayed to her beloved Devi Maiyaa, Arnav looked at her with something like fury that was replaced quickly with guilt and pain. He was genuinely apologizing; yes, he was at fault again. Khushi always made him feel a heel. He had never apologised to anyone except to her and his Di. The least she could do was listening to him once and maybe give him a chance, dammit! He knew he had hurt her bad the last time, when he had called her names and broken the engagement. The day he had uncovered the truth, he had gone through excruciating pain and guilt. He had realized what a fool he had been by letting go of the only woman that could love him as deeply she did, who could accept him despite his background and his faults; the only woman who made him complete. His Anjali Di had wiped the floor with him and later on tried to help him find Khushi. He had tried but in vain. As a last resort, he had decided to immerse himself in work and his sorrows in solitude where nothing but happy memories of Khushi stayed put along with the huge stone of guilt around his neck. Had it not been for Khushis grandmother calling, hed have drowned himself in his misery and died. Hell, he understood her anger and her distrust of him. He was ready to prove himself and earn her trust again if need be. If only she would listen to him! His confidence took a dipping when he thought about it. All she does is close her eyes, hide her pain, her feelings and say that she didnt want to talk to me! He swore quietly, thinking to himself. Khushi was not going to let him get into her affections again so easily, was she? He knew he should let her go but touching her did odd things him; always had. The day they'd almost made love on the club terrace came into his mind and stirred up a fire that refused to go down. He took a deep breath to control his emotions. Why wouldn't she look at him at least! He was trying to apologize and be a gentleman too. Khushi Her name came out in a warning growl and then, as if things had not yet reached its peak, he took hold of her other shoulder and shook her, look at me dammit! Startled and quaking, Khushi looked up. Maybe he'd let her go now? She thought and then looked at his eyes. His eyes were burning globes of fire.. as if he was the panther about to attack his prey. Why do you have to rile me up so much? You always get under my skin dammit! What do you think of yourself Khushi Kumari Gupta? Ive been standing here saying sorry to you umpteen times and you don't even look at me! The way you walk, the way you look down your nose at me. It makes me go crazy Khushi!

Khushi eyes were wide orbs, I make you go crazy!? she squeaked and then got her courage back. How dare you blame me Arnav Singh Raizada, Mr. next-step-to-God! I have done nothing to you, do you hear.. nothing! As if all you accused me of in the past is not enough, you've come here to- what you said just now - let me go at once! Khushi tried to free herself from his hands but they were like iron bands around her shoulders. Make me. His words were menacing and Khushi felt fear curl in her stomach withexcitement? You glare at me Khushi Kumari Gupta and your mouth gives me the message touch-me-not but .. But what? Khushi held her breath as her stomach churned with well-known sensations, sensations she thought she had lost months back. She was panicky and confused. What was he trying to say? But your eyes say something different. He leaned into her, Do you know something sweetheart? The more your mouth says no, the more I want to touch you. His words, softly spoken made Khushi's stomach drop somewhere in her shoes. What did he just say? Arnav couldnt possibly want her! No, he couldnt desire her at all! Not after all that had happened! He had been cruel to her, he had mocked her, made fun of her; he had told her that she was promiscuous, crazy, comical and absolutely not worth his time that her body disgusted him. And yet, when Khushi looked into his eyes, she could see the fire blazing high, the inferno of want burning for her as he leaned into her more, pressing her against the wall, into the darkness where they were away from all; in hiding. He was pressed so close to her that she could feel his taut muscles down the length of her entire body and Good God- that surely wasn't!! She gasped as her eyes looked down and then flashed back up at him, her voice a mere whisper, Let me go.. please. I know I treated you bad just now, downright rotten in fact. But I am apologizing for it. Had I not dragged you away from there, I'd have been tempted to do this again and again right there by the dance floor, in front of all others who were lusting after you, until I was sure you couldn't remember your own name much less any of them. Instant shock held her rigid. As his lips touched hers; gently at first and then swooping down again and again, sipping her taste from her lips, Khushi felt herself melting in his arms. No more did she want to wriggle away from him, not this time. Khushi... Her name was a desperate moan as Arnav's mouth began taking firm possession of hers, the gentle kiss turned into an act of possession. A sensation so incredible that Khushi felt she was floating in the air took hold of her. Her hands grabbed his shoulders for support as her knees buckled with this sensuous onslaught. This was-

was- so good. She met his move with her own, her heart beating a tattoo in her chest, blood rushing down south as they both gave in to this incredible, inexplicable need for each other. Khushi felt as if a potent narcotic drug had been injected in her veins and if she didn't find relief soon, she'd die. Her skin felt so hot, she felt so hot! She wanted to simply eat him up or hold on to him and never let him. She wanted to straddle him right there and let him take her. She loved him --As though alarm bells had jingled loudly in her ears, she opened her eyes in shock and pushed him away roughly while he was still unbalanced. How could she have fallen in his spell again! She had to get out of here. He seemed to be dazed and shocked just as she was, although she doubted if he was dealing with the kind of emotional upheaval that she was dealing with. I- I- good bye! her voice was a hoarse whisper and she turned and ran away from him. She didn't dare look back to see the kind of expression his face may hold. Khushi could feel herself trembling an hour later even after she reached the safety of other ladies in the women's parlour and was sitting beside Mallika. Punditji was looking for the good muhurat for the wedding to take place in the next two weeks since NK had to go back to Sydney. While everyone around her was talking, Khushi was in her own thoughts. Oh my goodness gracious everything under the sun. Her lips still tingled and her body was still on fire. She wept inside with rage, frustration and desire. Humiliation burned deep within her along with those other emotions. How could she have done what she did -- responded so ardently! How could she have forgotten what he'd accused her of, what he'd thought of her, what he still could readily accuse her of! Arnav sat with the other men, his mind a million miles away- or maybe simply in the other room where Khushi sat with other women. He had walked back a few minutes after she'd ran, trying to compose himself. His body had been shaking with undisguised, unfulfilled lust as well as disgust for himself. So much for attempting to talk to her, woo her! He wanted to turn around, forget about the niceties, barge into ladies' parlour, carry Khushi away somewhere to begin anew. Hed woo her and make her trust him again. But then common sense took hold of him. He picked up a glass of wine from the tray of the waiter passing by and drank it in one gulp. He picked up another and prowled back into the room where other guests were. He had enough time and this time, Khushi was going nowhere. He had her exactly where he wanted her. He knew she desired him and perhaps a part of him hoped that she still loved him, but he wouldn't go as far as that. Time enough to make her fall in love with him again even if she hated him now. He resolved silently. Khushi Kumari Gupta, you can enjoy your friend's wedding. It will soon be your turn next.