Khushi entered the kitchen and saw Anjali and Payal...
"Goodmorning Jiji..." she turned to Anjali..."di...are you feeling okay?"
Anjali smiled, "I am Khushiji...thankyou..."
Payal lifted a tray of food and walked out to the dining area...
Once Payal was out of sight, Anjali's smile disappeared...
Khushi's pulse quickened..."Di, please...please can we..."
"No. We can't start again...I do not want to acknowlege you..."
Khushi's heart tumbled..."But, Arnavji is asking..."
"Don't you DARE mention anything to him!" Anjali spat out...
Khushi stepped back, "I won't...I won't..."
Anjali turned her back and said..."I'm going out...But tell chote that I need to see him when I return..."
Khushi merely nodded...
Arnav couldn't move.
His heart was hammering in chest.
His own sister.
"How do I handle this? How dare she hurt Khushi! How dare Khushi hide this!"
Closing his eyes, all the events of the past month began to fast forward through his head...
And it all came to a crashing halt...on Khushi.
His eyes popped open and shot forth lasers of determination.
"Di, you will pay for hurting my wife..."
He spun around and marched out of his room.
His mind was made up.
"Di!" he yelled as he strode down the stairs...
Payal nearly dropped the tray she was carrying...
"Arnavji? Di has just gone out..."
Arnav's eyes were roaring..."where!?"
He stormed into the kitchen and ran straight into Khushi.
Quickly catching her, his anger paused.
She had clamped her eyes shut and was clinging to his shirt in terror.
Righting their bodies slowly, he held her gently against his chest..."Hey...It's just me..it's okay..."
Khushi stepped back and quickly gave their bodies some distance..."I...I was...Di...Di was..."
At the mention of his sisters name, he attention shot up..."What? What happened?"
"She...she will be out...for awhile, but she wants to see you later...that's all..."
Before Arnav could reply, Akash hurried in..."Bhai, I will need you to come into office today. If our client doesn't meet with you he will cancel his business with us..."
Arnav turned back to Khushi, then back to Akash...
Payal turned at the sound of Arnav's voice.
"Are you staying home today?"
"Fine. Akash, lets go now..." Arnav quickly stepped forwards and kissed Khushi full on the mouth..."I'll be back for you..."
With stern look, he turned and left with Akash.
Khushi and Payal enjoyed their morning together...
The trickling of rain outside was therapeutic.
Payal was about to ask how things were between her and Anjali, when her phone rang.
"Yes Di? But I didn't get a call..." payal paused..."ok..ok I'll go there now."
Payal hung up and said, "Apparently Amma called Di, Buaji needs me to help her with something..."
"With what?" Khushi asked...
"I don't know...but I should go and see if everything is okay..."
Khushi nodded and hugged Payal goodbye.
Not more than 10 minutes later, the front door swung open.
Anajli had arrived home.
Khushi had been trying to distract her mind from the impending storm both inside and outside...
She could hear the rain pelting down, and flashes of lightening shoot across the walls...
Walking through the house, she searchws for a safe spot where she could hide from reality for awhile.
But her vision kept blurring and the rumble of thunder was growing louder, confusing her senses.
As a flash of lightning lit the hallway, Khushi ducked into her room, covering her ears against the crash of thunder.
She pressed her back to the bedroom door, waiting and praying, pulling her dupatta tighter around her.
A knock resounded at the door...
Khushi tried to turn as bravely as her trembling limbs would allow and opened the door...
Anjali leaned against the door frame, eyeing her with an icy disdain. “I didn't know you could be so convincing..." she snarled, taking a step toward her.
“I thought that my brother’s heart was dead. I thought that he was made of stronger stuff. But now I know that he has succumbed to your wiles.”
Anjali circled Khushi like a panther eyeing a frightened rabbit.
Khushi stepped forward to leave the room, but Anjali moved to block her path and she pulled back.
“I think it’s time to end this farce Khushiji” she said bitterly.
Khushi watched her closely...
Anjali wasn't there.
She had been taken over by her own pain and betrayal...
“Chote can’t love you, and he never will.”
“It doesn’t matter whether he loves me or not,” Khushi insisted, knowing it was a lie...“I am his wife,” she said out loud, with more conviction than she had ever felt..."And I love HIM. And Di, I love you...I am so sorry for your pain, but please believe me...I didn't do any..."
Anjali chuckled at her... “You DID! And as for you being his wife...that will come to an end sooner than you think...”
Her confidence slipped a notch and she watched Anjali warily.
Anjali lifted a paper from behind her back...
Dread slithered up Khushi's spine.
Suddenly, Anjali shoved the letter towards Khushi.
Pulling the blanket around her neck, trying to seal off the chill creeping through her body, Khushi read the paper....
She scanned the document and froze.
Her heart refused to beat.
Her breath refused to come.
“You see, Chote never intended to honor your marriage,” she hissed in her ear...“He doesn’t love you. He never will.”
The house rocked with a crash of thunder as Khushi’s heart shattered.
The letter she held was an official annulment request, made only 2 hours before...with Arnav's signature already signed...
Khushi crumpled the parchment in her fist, lifting tear-filled eyes to Anjali.
Her entire body was shaking, but it had nothing to do with fear.
She tossed the balled-up paper on the ground...
Khushi fled from the room, afraid that her pounding heart would burst from her chest if she didn’t move, if she didn’t do something.
She just knew she had to get away from Anjali, from Arnav, from the house.
"And the deal is done then? Ok."
Arnav stood up and left the conference room.
As he walked to his office, his phone rang...
"Arnavji, I just wanted you to know that Di called me saying that Buaji needed me, so I have just left the house, but Khushi is okay..."
"Di told you?"
Fear sparked inside him...
He dashed to his car, and sped away.
The drive was almost in slow motion...nothing could go fast enough...
Was his own sister planning something?
No...He couldn't think about that now...
All he knew, was that he had to get home. FAST.
Pulling up outside, he barely stopped the car.
Arnav raced into the house, feeling more desperate than ever.
He pushed open the door to his room, his frantic hunt encompassing every room.
He came to a halt as he entered the room, his eyes narrowing on his sister like pinpoints of light.
Anjali sat on his couch, with crumpled ball of paper at her feet...
She had a strange grin on her face that sent a sinking feeling down into the pit of Arnav’s stomach.
Arnav's fists clenched; every muscle in his body tensed.
Anjali lifted the balled-up piece of parchment and threw it up and down in the air, catching it deftly with one hand.
“All our problems have been solved, Chote...” she said casually...
Arnav launched himself at his sister, grabbing her forcefully by the shoulders and pulling her to her feet.
“Where is she?” he demanded.
“Chote...?" Anjali began, the laughter gone from her face.. “I thought you'd be happy that I...”
Arnav shook her hard. “If you’ve hurt her again I’ll ....I'll...”
Anjali’s eyes rounded in shocked disbelief.
“Chote! You didn’t care about her! What is the problem!” she exclaimed... “You were only doing this to ruin her!”
Arnav shoved his snarling visage at his sister... “Di...I LOVE HER! And I love you, but I can see that you are NOT yourself...but Khushi, is NOT to blame...WHERE IS SHE!!?? Where is my wife!?!”
Anjali gaped at him for a long moment, unable to speak.
Finally, with tears in her eyes, she said, “She left.”
Arnav staggered back..."w...where..."
“I don’t know,” Anjali answered quickly.
“What did you do to her?” Arnav demanded... “Did you hurt her again!?”
Arnav shook her again...“What did you do?”
Arnav shook her again...“What did you do?”
Anjali’s hand rose, palm up, displaying the crumpled ball of parchment.
Arnav’s eyes shifted to the paper.
In the wadded-up mess that the parchment had become, Arnav made out some of the words… today's date... annulment.
Complete and utter dread swept through him.
He lifted enraged eyes to his sister.
An unbelievable rage consumed him, blinding him with its lashing ferocity.
With a furious howl, Arnav clenched his fists raced out of the room.
The storm outside had continued to lash, only intensifying Arnav’s sense of urgency.
He ran to the front door and threw it open.
Hurrying down the stairs, he ran to his car...
Even as he ran, the rain pelted his face and the wind whipped his hair.
His fingers curled into his palms.
She was out here somewhere...Where?
All those months he had driven her away with his cold denials, his firm resolve against a loveless marriage.
And now, his own sister...
He cursed himself for a fool.
He could never have thought that a woman could come to mean as much to him as Khushi did.
Arnav clenched his teeth and tossed his head back.
“Khushi!” he shouted, as lightning ripped the sky.
Nani returned home with Manoroma.
"Where is everyone?"
Nani checked Anjali's room, Payal and Akash's room and finally Arnav and Khushi's room.
As she entered the bedroom she saw Anjali sitting on Arnav's couch, her head buried in her hands...
Paper was torn and littered on the floor.
She paused in the doorway as Anjali lifted distraught eyes to her.
Apprehension swept throughNani, and she entered the room, moving quickly to Ajali's side.
“What is it, Anjali Bitiya?” she demanded. ..“What’s happened? Are you alright?”
Anjali shook his head and turned away from her... “I did what I felt was right.”
Nani frowned..."Anjali, Chote knows that you were unaware of Shyam's true face, he doesn't blame you...he never would...” she said kindly. “You know he loves you.”
Anjali stood up fast... “It has nothing to do with that Nani...”
She looked at her, and Nani was shocked at the new found suffering she saw in her eyes.
“I thought he didn’t care for her...I thought he was trying to ruin her...I thought it was a great act... I didn’t know...I didn’t know.”
“What did you do?” Nani gasped
Anjali didn’t look at her. “I showed her a fake annulment letter...and I copied Chote's signature on it...”
Nani’s mouth dropped open. “Oh, no!” she exploded... “What happened? Where is Khushi now!?”
Anjali shook her head... “She left.”
“Left? Where?” Nani’s stomach dropped.
"I don't know Nani...I...I don't know what I'm doing anymore..." Anjali fell to the floor.