Arnav sped down the streets.
Searching for any sign of Khushi.
He called Buaji and she told him that Khushi had not shown up there...
That's when he knew.
She was running.
His heart and mind were desperately trying to decipher where she'd go...
The last time they were both in danger had been when she had found him at the abandoned warehouse...
When he was kidnapped.
She had risked her life.
"She's running in the forest..." he said as he spun the car around and sped away...
Khushi felt like she had been running blind.
Her legs were aching for each step she took.
But her mind kept repeating one thing..."Must...get...away..."
The rain was heavy...
The wind was howling...
Not knowing where she was, she tried to focus through the tears...
Exhausted, she huddled beneath a tree, her knees drawn up to her chest, her hands wrapped tightly around herself.
She shivered as the wind picked up and whipped around her like a cold cape.
Her body was saturated from the continuous rain.
Her clothing hung heavily against her.
Her dark hair was wet and weighty, forming a curtain of damp strands around her face.
She sniffed again.
She had so badly wanted her marriage to work.
She had done everything in her power to be loyal to Arnav.
Her body shook again, but it had nothing to do with the cold.
She remembered the smile that lit his face, a smile that had melted her heart.
She recalled the love in his eyes when he had made love to her.
But despite all of this, he DIDN'T love her.
"Was he really trying to ruin me?"
Her trembling fingertips brushed her lips.
His kiss had transported her to a realm of safety; his arms had encompassed her in a shelter of strength.
Thunder ripped the sky and Khushi jumped, crying out.
Sobs tore at her body; fear ate what was left of her heart.
Lightning speared the ground nearby, and Khushi bolted to her feet.
As she hurried aimlessly through the forest, the rain pelted her body like rocks...
She tried to lift her clothes so she could move, but her hands were trembling so fiercely she couldn’t manage to keep hold of it.
The fabric slipped from her hands and she tripped , plummeting to the earth amidst the thrash of thunder.
Her hands skidded along the ground through the slick mud, and she went down on her stomach.
She lay with her cheek to the wet earth, sobbing.
Her mind called for Arnav...but she knew he would not come.
She pushed herself to her feet, struggling to regain her balance.
The wind lashed at her, sending strands of her wet hair whipping into her face, her eyes.
She raised her hands to block the lashing of her hair and the rain.
Suddenly, a roar filled her ears.
The wind grew with incredible power, pushing her around.
She whirled to see a tangled lot of twisted, torn branches come flying through the air toward her as if nature herself had decided to attack with thorns.
Khushi let out a horrified scream and covered her face with her arms.
"Khushi!" Arnav screamed as he saw sharp branches fly towards her...
He ran to her in time to yank the debris away from hitting her...
Instantly, he scooped Khushi up into his arms, sheltering her from the roaring winds and battering branches.
He held her tightly, clenching his eyes shut.
With every beat of his heart, he prayed she was all right.
He was afraid to look down into her eyes, afraid the little whirlwind of life and trust would be gone.
He held her against his heart.
A growl of anguish tore loose from his throat....“Oh God Khushi...everything she said...it's a damn lie! I never signed anything! I never wanted to hurt you! NEVER! And to think that I've hurt you in order to protect HER! Forgive me. Please forgive me.”
He kissed her cheek and her eyes... “I love you,” he moaned. “I love you...believe me please...”
He pressed kisses to the side of her throat, to her chin, to her cheek.
Then he felt her move.
Arnav pulled back, gazing down into her face.
Her skin was wet and reddened...
Her eyelids fluttered and then, like the sunlight rising, her eyes opened.
She stared at him for a long moment with those deep brown eyes, her gaze moving over his face.
Arnav's agonized stare drank her in...
Her glorious lips, her wondrous eyes...
He bent and pressed a kiss to her forehead, then to her lips, murmuring, “Khushi...I love you...please believe me...”
His arms engulfed her, drawing her closer.
Waiting for her response was torture...
"What if she refuses me for good this time...?..." his thoughts were spiraling out of control..."No...No...I can't lose her..."
His lips pressed hard against hers...
His mouth forced her to open to his kiss...
As he tasted the sweet recesses of her mouth, his blood pounded through his veins.
His panic and frustration gave way to a fierce and fiery passion that consumed him.
Her kiss swept him like the lashing winds of a storm; her hands swirled around him, pulling at his shoulders.
But the fury of the winds didn't let up...
Seeing the raw majesty of the weather, he realized how changeable life was...
There was no more waiting...no more wasting time...no more grasping for love or losing the moment...
Frantically, Arnav pulled at her top, sweeping it aside to reveal her breast.
He lowered his lips to the tip, licking and sucking it with an intensity beyond reason, beyond comprehension.
Lightning flashed and sizzled all around them.
Arnav’s other hand traced the curve of her back, down to her hips, pulling her tight against him.
Khushi started to moan beneath his touches, running her hands through his wet hair, over his strong shoulders.
Rain cascaded around them, splashing through the trees, drenching them.
Arnav eased her dress up, higher and higher until he touched her naked thigh and she gasped, touching his hand.
The rain made the path slick and smooth, inflaming his already uncontrollable passion.
He blazed a trail of hot kisses down her neck, over the soft ridge of her collarbone.
In the next instant his passion rose to tidal-wave heights as he reached down and unzipped his pants, freeing himself.
He was burning with a raw want, a desire so desperate, that it boiled his blood, searing his very skin.
He barely heard the clap of thunder, didn’t see anything but two dark eyes staring back at him with confusion, desire, pain...and yet, the same passion.
His hand moved across her womanly curves to the opposite thigh, reveling in the feel of her body.
She instinctively arched toward his hand.
Arnav held her body steady and lowered himself to her, claiming her kiss-swollen, rain-wet lips in a final attempt at control.
She groaned and squirmed beneath him.
He felt her dripping against his erection and moved forward to feel the heat of her core.
He clenched his teeth, fighting a losing battle against the raging want threatening to sweep him away before he had claimed her.
Then...holding her gaze... he thrust forward, driving into her.
He heard her cry out in pain...
Not bodily pain, but pain of the heart...
He didn't wait...he began to move his hips in a slow, tentative movement...and, just like the storm around them, the tempo of their bodies increased...
Arnav kissed her savagely, hungrily devouring her.
And as he watched, her face began to blossom beneath the rain, and an intense reaction spread across her features.
Her inner muscles began to flex...
He thrust harder...
She released a strangled scream...
He held her closer...
Thunder boomed in the sky, rocking her body with its might.
As her body began to clamp down violently on his, the heavens shattered around her as he brought her to a fierce climax...
Lightning lit up the sky, illuminating her face.
Arnav had never witnessed a more captivating sight, a more wondrously glorious vision.
Then, thunder rocked the ground, and he stiffened, exploding into her.
When Khushi finally opened her eyes, she found herself lying beneath her husband, sheltered from the pelting rain by his body.
He had a deep, loving expression on his face and a dark look in his eyes that promised much, much more.
Arnav leant down and kissed her gently as he slid out of her and adjusted their clothing...
He then scooped her up into his arms and trapped her tightly against his body. “Are..are you okay?” he asked.
She shook her head.
As he bent over her, drops of water fell from his face and trailed down her cheek like tears.
“I’m so sorry, Khushi...” Arnav whispered.
Khushi stared up at him and he averted his eyes.
“I did NOT sign that paper...I have never even seen if before today..."
Khushi whimpered and Arnav swallowed hard and lifted his gaze to lock with hers.
Tightening his arms, he said..."Khushi...I...I love you...believe me..."
Thunder quaked in the sky, but Khushi didn't hear it.
He growled and took her mouth in a deep kiss...
His tongue dueled with hers...
She felt overtaken and dominated as he took her mouth, the strength of his arms like a steel cage locking her in place.
"What did Chote say?" Nani asked quietly
"He's furious with me..." Anjali murmered
Nodding, Nani took Anjali by the hand and helped her stand up..."Come..."
"I don't want to rest, I don't want to to anything..."
Nani gripped her hand, "You will come with me. You have also suffered. But obviously you are in no frame of mind to behave or take care of yourself, so I will do it for you. Chote would want me to, Khushi bitiya would want me to, and I want to...Now be quiet."
As Nani led Anjali away she prayed for strength as her family continued to endure all their sorrows...
Anjali was in tears as she lay down on her bed..."Nani...I felt as though I had lost everything...including Chote...I HAD to break them up! How else would I be able to keep him with me!?"
Nani sat down, and spoke as calmly as she could..."Chote loves Khushi bitiya...She was NOT in the wrong...She, like you, has endured a lot..."
Anjali was quiet..."I don't understand Nani...I just don't understand..."
"Shhh...all I want you to do now, is sleep..."
Arnav carried her in his arms towards the car as the rain started to soften...
He could feel her hand still grasping tightly to his shirt...
Her feet touched the ground when he released his arm from under her knees...
Her hands tightened on his shirt and she lifted her gaze to his...
Holding her close, Arnav gently carressed her face...
Arnav smiled then his face grew serious.
“I meant what I said, Khushi. I need you with me...forever...”
"I want that too Arnavji...” she whispered.
He held her in his arms, hating how fragile she was...yet admiring her strength in spirit.
He tipped her chin up and gave her what he hoped was a reassuring smile.
For the first time since he was a child, he felt he could escape the voices, defeat the demons.
As long as he was with her, she was safe...
And as long as she was with him, he was safe...