Sunday, November 4, 2012

SS : The Light Of His Life Part 1 (Diwali Special)

Hey all!
I have adapted my previous story "The Spice Of Life" 
and turned it into a "Diwali Special!"





The Light Of His Life




Khushi didn't think working out the details for a divorce should take long, not when their marriage had been a business agreement from the beginning.

It was really just paperwork...

Khushi briefly knocked and heard his voice call for her to come in...

She closed the office door and turned to face him as she sat down in a chair across from his desk...

Arnav hadn't seen Khushi since the day she left Shantivan.

She had successfully found where Shyam had been holding him hostage...

He had found out the truth...of her innocence...of his misunderstanding...

But the damage had already been done, She was too heartbroken to stay with him...

The first 6 months of their marriage, she had been miserable...

And now for the last 3 months HE had been miserable...

Sure he had begged, cried, screamed, searched... but Khushi would not see him during all that time...

And now...she sat in front of him...

When he saw her walk into his office, his fractured heart started to solder together...

Her voice brought him out of his recollection...

She hurried into what she had to say. "We need to get this finished as quickly as possible...the divorce. I don't ask for anything from you."

Khushi glanced around his office nervously...

Divorce.

He never hated something so much...not even Shyam...

All he had wanted for months was Khushi...and now, one more thing was trying to seperate them...

Trying to find his voice..."Did...uh...did you want a drink?"

"What? um...No...no thankyou...I just want to finalize..."

"I think we need to talk about this first..."

"Isn't that what we're doing?"

He paused. "I mean really talk about this. I haven't seen you for 3 months..."

"I know..." She looked at him steadily across the desk.

Khushi felt anxious again as her eyes shifted around the room...

Arnav was glad to see that he was still able to affect her, even if it was only nervousness...

He wasn't about to deny that he was madly in love with her...

Khushi tried to steel herself against his pull...

He still made her heart flutter...

She just needed to get the legal paperwork started and they could both put this behind them.

"I don't want a divorce." Arnav's quiet sentence fell into the space between them and he looked at her steadily.

Feeling a clutch of emotion, Khushi tried to sound less wrecked than she felt.

He had to be joking.

"What? This has been a fake marriage right from the start...and you...you..."

"I know what I did Khushi..." his eyes were tortured..."But I love you...and I want our marriage to be real...like my love for you..."

A flush of anger rose in her then.

Khushi said hotly, "No."

She tried to keep a tight rein on the turmoil inside her.

She had loved Arnav...but now, she had to admit to herself that he wasn't completely out of her system.

He looked down at the files on his desk, taking a moment to respond. "I just know'" Lifting his gaze to bore into her, he said, "I just know I'm not ready to give up...Not without talking about' some things."

"What things?" She knew her exasperation was visible and registered that being angry was easier than the other emotions she had when she saw him again.

"The past. About what happened between us..."

Khushi felt like she was going to burst into tears...

"Damn!" she thought..."I came in here so determined...so strong...I CAN'T fade now!"

She quickly stood..."Please Mr. Raizada. Please just sign the papers so I may have my life back..."

Arnav stayed seated, fearing that if he stood up he'd either keel over or run to her and kiss her senseless...

"I want you to have your life back...I want your life to be with me..."

Khushi tried to look away, but his eyes were hypnotic...

"I...I need to go...please just sign and..."

"I love you..." Arnav said as he stood up...

Her breathing hitched...

"Sir...?" One of his staff had entered his office...

Their trance was immediately broken...

Khushi looked down to her hands trying to still her heart...

Arnav, on the other hand, was about to murder someone...

"What...the...HELL are you doing in here!"

Khushi looked up and instantly felt a smile come across her face...

"I...I'm...I...I'm so...so sorry sir, but...but your sister has...has been trying ...to call and...and you '"

"It's ok...don't be frightened of him...he's not as scary as you think..."

Arnav's anger vanished...

He looked over at Khushi in awe as his calm voice said, "please tell her I'll call her back..."

The frightened officeworker scurried away as fast as he could and Khushi began to laugh...

Arnav grinned at her...he was mesmerized..."You are so beautiful..."

Her laughter slowed '"You really have to try and curb that anger..."

Arnav stepped out from behind his desk...

Khushi instantly stepped back...

"So let's talk about the divorce." She said it in a rush.

Arnav only stepped closer and reached out, putting his hand around her wrist. "Is that really what you want? To scrub 'us' out of your mind and move on?"

She looked at his arm as it slid hotly around her back, and then swung her gaze up to meet his eyes. "After everything...I just don't know...we aren't good together...you disliked me long before you married me, and I annoy you and talk to much...Is...Is this really what YOU want?"

Instead of answering, Arnav pulled her against himself...

She felt sweetly familiar in his arms, so perfect.

He heard her draw in a swift breath, her fingers clutching at the sleeves of his shirt...

She fit just right against him...

Her slim shoulders nestled in his embrace.

He didn't want to frighten her...

He didn't want to hurt her...

And he definitely didn't want her to walk out of his life...

"Khushi..." Arnav said as he reeled in his desire...

She looked up at him as he lowered his eyes to hers...

"I think we're damn  near perfect together..."

"Arnavji..."

"Yes...that's what you call me...not Mr. Raizada...I'm your husband Khushi..."

She shook her head..."No...I came here to..."

"I know why you came here...But I just can't do it...I KNOW that we are meant to be together...Give me time to prove myself to you..."

Khushi was certain he could hear her heart pounding...

Her thoughts raced...

She had entered his office feeling so certain, and now...

"Khushi, YOU are the light of my life! I need you!"

This could either be the biggest mistake, or the best decision.

Her voice cracked as she spoke..."You have 3 days...till Diwali..."

Pushing his arms away, she stumbled to the doorway, and scurried out of the room...

"And time starts...now..."



...




Not more than an hour after Khushi arrived home, there was a loud knock on the door...

"Arnav Babua?" Buaji was genuinely surprised as she saw Arnav standing in their doorway...

"Buaji..."

"You HAVE come...I thought that after everything you put Khushi through you would have willingly set her free..."

Arnav graciously took the insult..."She deserves freedom...freedom to love and to be happy...and that is what I plan to give her..."

Buaji was taken aback momentarily, but quickly countered with..."I don't want my Khushi hurt anymore! For 3 months she was an emotional dam! Crying her heart out over what you did to her...and still all this time she has defended you! All this time she has tried to justify what YOU did! But were you here when she was like this? NO!"

Arnav remained still...completely in shock.

Buaji stampeded closer till she was almost nose to nose with Arnav..."If you make her that despondent again...'life' will be the least of your worries..."

Arnav was now speechless...

3 months ago he felt utterly disgraced at himself for his treatment toward Khushi...

But when she left, she seemed so strong...she ALWAYS seemed so strong...

Not that he saw crying as a weakness, he just didn't realize that she had remained loyal to him as a wife, even though...

Mortification rippled through him at warp speed...

"Buaji...All those months when I tried to see her...All those times you and Auntie spoke to me...You said she didn't want to see me...I have visited your house every week for THREE MONTHS! Only to find out NOW that my wife was dissolving in tears not more than 10 feet away from me!"

"WE didn't let you see her! We weren't prepared to let you hurt her more!"

Arnav's anger zeroed in..."HURT HER!? I have been out of my mind without her! No words can describe how much I want and need her! As I said the day she left...I LOVE HER..."

Buaji was joined by Garima who had been listening intently..."Please try to understand...We saw how depressed she was...We didn't want to risk having her heart plummet even further..."

"I could have helped...I could have spoken to her...proved how bady I needed her, how sorry I was..."

A new thought struck him..."Was she even aware of my visits? or calls?"

The ladies looked at each other..."No. We never told her."

The impact of their answer struck him like lightening..."She...she never knew...that means..."

"yes...we convinced Khushi for the divorce...we are her family...we believe that it is best for her..."

Arnav's eyes shot up...shining with fierce determination...

Resolution became tatooed onto his heart...

"I may not have been what was best for her then, but I love Khushi and I will NOT give her up...not now, not EVER..."

"We are her family..." Buaji spoke firmly...

"And I am her husband...until she tells me otherwise, with a decision she has made from her OWN mind, that she wants this stupid divorce...Now...I respectfully ask you to inform my wife, that her husband is here..."

Buaji and Garima stared dumbly...

"Arnavji?"

Khushi stood beneath the arch of her bedroom's doorway...

Arnav felt like he was in a filmy movie...

His heart started to beat ferociously...

His eyes zoomed in on her beautiful features...

As if in slow motion, he walked towards her...

Coming to a halt close in front of her, all he managed to rasp out was, "Hi..."

"Nam..Namaste..."

"How are you today?"

"I...I'm...okay...how are you?" her voice was nervous...

"I'm with you..."

"uh...um..."

Arnav leaned in closer and whispered..."You look beautiful..."

His forthrightness shocked and unnerved her.

She realized that if she had expected to remain unmoved by this man, she'd been mistaken.

Instead, she was now a bundle of nerves...

"Did...did you want some tea? I can..."

"I'd love some..." he interrupted...

But he still wasn't moving away...

Khushi awkwardly tried to move past him but only ended up standing closer to him...

She could feel the heat of his body as they stood almost pressed together...

"Arnavji, I have to..."

Arnav smiled slightly, and leaned in to kiss her lingeringly on her cheek as he had done all those months ago by the poolside...

Her reaction was almost exactly the same...

Shock, fire, wide eyes...

His lips burned her skin and her big eyes shone with wonderment...

Before she could back away, or push him away, Arnav stepped back, clearing the doorway for her to walk out...

Scurrying away, Khushi made her way to the kitchen as Arnav followed...

Buaji came in and informed Khushi that Garima and her were taking Babuji out..."We will NOT be long, and if you need anything Happyji is out front..."

Sending Arnav one more piercing gaze of warning, she thumped out of the house...

Alone.

Alone with her 'husband'.

Alone with Arnav Singh Raizada.

"No problem...I have been alone with him before...but...those were times when he hated me...when he was angry...when I was scared of him...but...I'm still scared of him..."

Her thoughts were running rampant as she fumbled about preparing the tea.

"I may not be scared for the same reason but...maybe it is the same reason...although he doesn't look like he's going to hurt me...but then, I haven't seen him in months and he may want revenge...but what kind of revenge would this be?"

She chanced a look over her shoulder at him...

He was staring at her closely...

Quickly turning away, her thoughts continued..."He appears different...but still the same angry laad govenor..." she snickered a little..."would he be angry at me still though...no Khushi...what have you done? you cleared your name...you proved your innocence...it's over...this is over...our relationship is...is...He said he...he lov...loves..."

"I said that I love you..." Arnav declared...

Realization crashed into her...

She was thinking everything out loud...

Her hands shook and the cup she was holding almost fell...

Arnav quickly caught it before it shattered on the floor...

Placing the cup on the kitchen bench, he held her trembling hands...

"I love you Khushi...and as for everything else you said...No, I won't hurt you...I am in no way angry at you...you are the most beautiful, the most frustrating, the most generous, and the most trustworthy woman I know..."

He brought his hands up to her face as he continued..."Our relationship is not over..."

Khushi felt indignation spike in her heart and stepped away from him...

"I have no idea what you're talking about," she lied. 

"Yes you do," he said calmly..."You're putting stumbling blocks in our path."

"There is no 'our path,' There's your way and mine."

Arnav prowled forwards..."since the day I met you...both of our 'paths' have met continuously...whether you want it to be this way or not...you and I will always end up together...I fought it...you may fight it...but there one thing that we can't fight...Love...I've loved you since the beginning..."

Khushi stood mesmerized by his eyes, but managed to grind out..."We aren't meant for each other..."

His eyes...they unnerved her even more than his penchant for total honesty.

Suddenly she saw him smile...

"why...why are you smiling?"

"I'm thinking what fun I'm going to have proving that you're wrong...and winning this bet..."

"You...this isn't a bet!"

He quickly backed her up against the cupboard...

There was barely a breath between them...with one hand, he ran his fingers down her arm and held her hand...and with the other, he lifted her chin gently tipping her face upward, forcing her to look directly into his eyes.

"I have said this before, but this time I want you to see the love in my eyes as I do...I am Arnav Singh Raizada...And I never back away from a challenge...you gave me 48 hours..." he murmured.

She felt as if she'd been pulled into the center of a volcano...and the only was out, was to erupt with love...

His eyes seared her face, his hand burned her chin, and the nearness of him blazed through her with a ferocity that made her knees weak. 

Not for one second since she'd met him had she forgotten that he was Arnav Singh Raizada... a man of power...

Unconsciously her tongue flicked over her lips, and she wondered what he would think if he knew that she wanted to kiss him.

Right now.

This very minute.

She wanted to wind herself around him, and press her mouth onto his, she wanted to run her hands over those magnificent muscles...

In the small eternity his hands were touching her, the thoughts reeled drunkenly through her mind...

So much for going by her rules.

Arnav lowered his hands and shoved them deep into his pockets.

He balled them into fists and strained against the fabric...

She had no idea how close she had come to being kissed.

"No Arnav...Don't push too hard and too fast..." he warned himself..."Give her time to get used to the idea...Curb that impatience that's been growing inside you from the moment she fell into your arms..."


...
  

1AM...

Khushi lay in bed thinking about her day...

For months she'd been learning how to cope without him near her...

And yet for the entire day, he had not only spent time with her, but shocked her with the little things he remembered about her...

Now, as sleep evaded her, she wondered how she'll be able to manage her heart...

"Diwali..." she scoffed..."WHY did I choose then!? That was the time he...the time we almost...almost kissed for the first time..."

Tossing and turning, Khushi sighed...

"He was so close..." she mumbled to herself..."Did he always stand that close to me..."

"And the way he looked at me..." her breathing quickened...

"No...No Khushi...He didn't trust you...why should you trust him...why now? He had 3 months to talk to me, to try and have a real marriage with me...but he didn't..."

She let her heavy lids close and immediately she saw his eyes...

Shaking her head..."Laad Governor...I can't even escape you when I close my eyes..."

…...



Arnav also had trouble sleeping...

Spending the day with his wife had been pure bliss, and utter terror...

He had retained his composure the entire day, and now he was failing...

"What if I can't convince her...What if she trusts her family over me...I wouldn't blame her, I have no right to her heart seeing as I was the one to break it...I have to get her back...I have to..."

He closed his eyes, knowing he'd see her in his dreams...



…...




The next morning, Khushi was silent at the breakfast table...

"What is wrong Khushi? Has something upset you?" her Amma asked...

"It's almost 9am..." Khushi mumbled...

"What?" Garima asked feeling confused...

"What? Didn't you just ask me what the time was?" Khushi said looking up...

"Khushi...are you okay? are you unwell?"

"Ofcourse I am Amma...I'm...I'm..." her voiced started to trail off..."3 months...and NOW he wants to see me..."

Garima heard her and guiltily looked towards her..."Khushi..." Garima pulled out the chair beside Khushi and sat down...

"Khushi...He...He did try to see you...we just felt...we saw how distraught you were, how much pain you were in...we didn't know if it would be the right decision to let him see you..."

Khushi couldn't speak...her thoughts warred for the right reaction...

"They stopped him from seeing me? Arnavji DID want to see me all this time? I understand their concern, but he is my husband...why didn't he insist? Since when does he take no for an answer?! But he would want to respect my family since he said he lov...does he love me? My family love me enough to protect me from him...but..."

"Khushi?"

Her head jerked up as Garima interrupted her thoughts...

"Did we do right? We only wanted to protect you..."

Khushi didn't think, her emotions burst out...

"No no Khushi, please don't cry more..."

"Amma, I don't know anything anymore...I love you all for wanting to protect me, but I also lov..." her voice froze...

"Do you love him Khushi?"

She couldn't bring her gaze up...afraid that her answer would shine forth...




…...



Arnav drove towards the Gupta house...silently praying..."Let her believe my love...let her feel it...Let love erase the pain I caused..."

As he parked his car outside, he saw her out front laying some blankets over the railing...

"Khushi..." he breathed

Her head lifted, hair flicked, and eyes sought...turning instantly to where her heart led...

Their eyes locked onto each other...

Arnav's heart began to pound...

He exited his car and sauntered towards her...

As he got closer she finally found courage to speak..."You...? You're here...again?" Her voice came out shaky and she mentally scolded herself...

"My heart is here...I can't breathe without my heart..."

Her husband now stood before her...successfully erasing her mind of any other thought...

"You're so tall..." she mumbled out before she could stop herself...

Arnav smiled...

Khushi's hand flew to cover her mouth in embarrassment...

Seeing her discomfort, he quickly spoke...

"Come..." he said as his arm outstretched to lead the way...

"What? Where?"

"Just take a walk with me..."

"Here?"

He took her hand as they started down the stairs...

Khushi gazed up in surprise...

"In case you fall," he said smiling...

And knowing that she was more agile than a monkey, he held her hand firmly...

Hoping he couldn't feel her racing pulse, she tried to regulate her thoughts by singing a song...

Her step was jaunty, keeping time to the music in her head...

But the sensation of having her hand in his, sucked her back in..."Rather than losing his appeal, Arnav Singh Raizada is working his way even more deeply into my heart..."

Looking at their joined hands she thought..."I love holding hands...There's something so wonderfully romantic about it."

Intuitively, as if he heard her thoughts, he lifted her hand to his lips and planted a gentle kiss on her palm.

Their gazes united...

He thought his heart would burst with love, and he longed to take her in his arms and shout that love from the top of his lungs...

The memory of their kiss ignited sparklers inside her body.

"Where...um...where are we going? Because I have things I need to do..."

He felt the fence go up between them and knew that he would have to cut another gate.

Stopping quickly, he turned round, keeping hold of her hand..."Not going anywhere...I just want to spend time with you...I love holding your hand...holding you..." he replied softly.

Her mind returned to all of their wild embraces...angry, loving, surprising, rescuing...

She had already explored that difference, and it was far too hard for her to handle the memories...

"I'm not as strong as you are, I couldn't get away from your hold...and I couldn't help falling that day I met you...I wasn't there to ruin anything...I didn't mean to spoiI your event... I tripped and..."

Suddenly he gripped her shoulders, forcing her to look up at him.

"I'm sorry Khushi..." he said, holding her gaze with his.

Now fearing his reaction, she quickly retorted ..."I shouldn't have said anything..."

"Khushi...You've always been candid with me. That's one of the things I love about you. Please don't be afraid of me..." 

He pulled her into his arms and cradled her head against his shoulder...

He knew she wasn't at ease, but he held her anyway as her arms stayed still by her sides...

"You keep erecting barriers where there should be none...There should have been none from the beginning...All my heart wanted was the two of us...I'm sorry Khushi..."

Nervously, she lifted her face to look at him...

As she was about to speak, Arnav's phone began to ring...

"What the HELL!!! I told them NOT to contact me for ANY reason!"

Khushi backed away trying to stifle her smile...

His eyes followed her..."No...I'm not answering..."

"NO!" She welcomed the breathing room..."You answer, they may need you...you are Arnav Singh Raizada..."

Arnav shook his head but Khushi spun around and began to find something to immerse herself in...

She heard Arnav let out a frustrated sigh as he walked off, harshly abusing the person on his phone...

Khushi quickly grabbed a cold drink..."I can do this...can't I?"

Her thoughts were interrupted by someone screaming..."YOU CAN DO IT!!! COME ON!!!"

Her body jerked to attention...

She looked around in bewilderment...

"Go on! keep trying..." the voice yelled again...

Khushi looked out the kitchen window and saw a group of people outside...

One man stood on the ground yelling up into a tree...

Khushi craned her neck further and saw a that is was a neighbour trying to hang lights in preparation for Diwali ...

"Ohh...If he ties the lights there, they will never stay up..!" she said to herself...

Running outside, she joined the crowd...

"Hey...You are climbing in the wrong direction!" she called up at the man...

"Please, I already have my wife scolding me!!! You couldn't do it, so leave it to me..." he yelled back...

"Oh really! I have climbed this tree before! Now shimmy down and I will fix it for you..."

The man slid down and tumbled to the ground, landing safely at the tapping feet of his disgruntled wife...

Khushi pulled her dupatta off and tied it around her waist...

Staring at the tree, Khushi smiled..."Hello old friend...Now I will show them!"

Beginning at the lowest branch, Khushi skillfully climbed the tree to the top...

The crowd watched in amazement..."Hey, she's fast!"

Khushi looked down for a moment..."You can all go about your business, I will get this done..."

The onlookers began to disperse...

It took only a few moments to interlink the lights around the branches of the trees...

Nodding in approval at her handiwork, she waited a moment, looking down around her house...

"Khushi?" Arnav called out...

One of the ladies walking past saw him and quickly pointed..."She's up in the tree..."

"What?!" Arnav slowly lifted his eyes...

And there she was...

Sitting happily at the top of a tree, surrounded in a tangled line of lights...

The scene instantly brought back the memory of last years Diwali preparation...

He had never seen such a beautifully wrapped, sparkling pressent...

He remembered how he slowly untangled her from all the lights...how close they were...

His thoughts were suddenly interruped by a snapping twig that fell to the ground...

"WHAT THE!? Khushi! What the Hell are you doing!?"

"Stop overreacting! I was helping..."

"This is CRAZY! You could have been hurt! you could have fallen! Just come down slowly...I'll stand here in case you slip..."

"I won't slip...I've climbed this tree before...ridiculous Laad Governor..." Khushi began to climb down carefully...

"It's not ridiculous to care about your safety Khushi!" Arnav was trying to control his agitation

"Now see here Mr. Raizada! I am perfectly able to take care of myself!" 

He mentally acknowledged that she was doing quite well, until her foot slipped on the last branch and she fell...

He quickly reached out and caught her and they crashed to the ground...

His arms wrapped around her as they rolled in the dirt.

With legs entangled and lips only a kiss away, Arnav and Khushi had thoughts only for each other.

Skyrockets exploded inside them as their bodies pressed together...

Looking up at her, he ran his hands along her body...his hands froze when he felt her skin...her pants had ripped slightly and her thigh was exposed...

A half-strangled sound escaped his lips as he raised himself to his knees and looked down at her. 

"Are you all right?"

"Yes," she said, but her mind was screaming... "No!"

She would never be all right until she had Arnav back in her life for good...

All of him—not just a hungry embrace in a hallway or an intimate tumble in the dirt, but every glorious inch of him, without restrictions.

He scooped her into his arms and carried her inside to the kitchen.

"Let's brush away all that dirt," he said, but what he meant was "Let's get inside before I lose control of the situation."

Still keeping his arm around her waist, he set her down beside the kitchen sink and reached for a towel, turning on the water with one hand.

"This will only take a minute."

"I hope it takes a year."

Unbeknownst to her, she had spoken the words out loud...

"Khushi?" He turned and saw her eyes, naked with desire...

The towel dropped to the floor and the water gurgled down the sink drain as he moved dangerously close towards her.

His hands tangled in her hair, and he crushed her against his chest as if he would never let go.

They stood this way for a moment, swaying to the combined rhythms of their runaway hearts.

In slow motion he inched away so that their lips could meet.

But the expression on her face stopped him...

Her heart was still trapped behind barriers and past pain...

The fever that possessed him raged unchecked...

His mouth moved away from her lips and seared down the side of her neck.

Instinctively her head fell back to accommodate his questing mouth, and her hair fanned out in a dark curtain against his arms.

Her pulse tore at her throat as one of Arnav's hands moved along her exposed skin... 

A thousand stars burst inside her at his touch...

And when there was nowhere else to go except the over the edge, Arnav gently released her. "I think I took care of all the dirt."

His breathing was still ragged and his smile was lopsided.

Khushi lifted her hair away from her flushed face.

"I don't know how this keeps happening," she whispered. "It's not supposed to."

"We can't prevent it, Khushi..."

"We must...After everything..."

"I love you...I won't ever treat you that way again...EVER...I love you..."

She waved her hands in the air, setting her bracelets to jingling. "I can't think of all that right now...I just..."

She paused and a small grin lit her face...

"You...your..." She smiled at the way his hair was sticking up...

He watched in awe as her fingers ran through his hair straightening and styling...

Realizing what she was doing she quickly lowered her hands and said..."The water's still running."

"Huh..." Arnav was successfully entranced...  

"You forgot to turn off the water."

Arnav grinned sheepishly as he twisted the faucet handle. "You made me forget."

"So did you." she whispered

"Sanka Devi!!!" Buaji's voice bellowed through the house interrupting their calm...

Khushi immediately pushed away from Arnav...

A horrified expression tumbled across her face as she saw her torn clothes..."Oh God!!!"

She blushed as her eyes darted back up to Arnav, but his eyes only held dark desire as he remembered his hands gliding over her...

Rushing to her room and slamming the door, she slumped back..."what is happening..."

Buaji and Garima entered the kitchen and saw Arnav leaning against the kitchen bench...

"Damaji?" Garima said softly...

"Hi...wait..." he paused..."Did you just address me as..."

"Garima! What are you saying!" Buaji was fuming...

"Jiji...He is out son in law...until they sort out their own lives, we need to keep up our respect..."

With tears in his eyes, Arnav walked forward..."Thankyou...I...I can't tell you how much this means to me..."

Garima lifted a hand to his face, "it's okay...and I let Khushi know that you had tried to see her over the past few months..."

"What is all this!? why are you destroying all the progress we made with Khushi!"

"Buaji..." Arnav turned to her..."I'm truly sorry for causing such heartbreak for Khushi..." his voice was cracking with emotion..."Please give me a chance...I know I don't deserve this, but I love her, truly love her...and I can't imagine my life without her..."

Without replying, Buaji just stormed away...

"Give her some time...She feels badly as well, we all do for how we reacted to your marriage...Everyone blamed Khushi...now everyone is more protective..."

Arnav stood square in front of her..."I am protective of her. I swear, I love her ...I am in love with her..."

Garima smiled softly..."Where is Khushi..?"

Arnav glanced towards Khushi's room..."She..." he sighed..."I found her outside...up a tree...setting up some lights..."

Her expression changed to one of anger..."AGAIN! We told her not to climb that tree again!!! She said she just wanted to be closer to the stars and the last time, she fell and severely sprained her wrist!!!"

Just then, Garima noticed the traces of dirt on Arnav's shirt...

"She fell again...But she's fine...I caught her..."

Garima shook her head..."I will speak to her..."

"No no, don't be angry...she's okay, that's the important thing..."

As Garima entered Khushi room she saw her changing her clothes...

"What!? You even tore your clothes as you fell!?"

"Amma! It's okay..it was only a small tear, I can fix it, no problem..."

Just when Khushi thought Garima would explode with frustration, she put on some music...

Garima couldn't help but laugh..."crazy girl!!!"

Music...

Khushi couldn't hold in her enthusiasm...

With Arnav back in her life, and her family adoring her again, she felt all the burdens that had been weighing her down suddenly become lighter...

She began to dance...

Her heart felt happier and the need to swing and twist took over...

Garima had left the door open slightly and Arnav couldn't help but stare at her...

He was mesmerised...

Her movements enticed him...

Her smile enraptured him...

Khushi began to recall all the times she had danced in her life...

The last time she felt such strong sensations was when she danced with Arnav...

Her smiled broadened...the way he held her when they danced, the way he looked at her, the way his fingers grazed her bare abdomen...

The dance ended with a drum cadence, which turned out to be the beating of her heart...

"Beautiful..."

Startled, Khushi spun around to see Arnav leaning quietly against the wall.

Without thinking, she flew across the room... 

His arms welcomed her trim, perspiring body.

He held her gently, knowing that she would pull back at any moment...

He was right...She quickly stepped away and couldn't seem to look at him..."How long have you been standing there?"

"Long enough to know that I want to dance with you again..."

Her anguished cry was born of the realization that once again she had let her heart rule her head.

Without thinking she had yielded to her natural impulse—to get as close as possible to the man she loved. 

"Khushi...Can't you see that you belong right here...with me..."

She put her hands against his chest and pushed herself out of his arms. "I didn't mean to do that...again..."

"I'm glad you did... It proves my point."

"What point?... No...I...I don't want to know"

"You already know..." he said stepping towards her..." We were meant to be together and nothing can stop us. Not anything nor anybody."

He caught her shoulders and pulled her back into his arms. "Not even you."  

As she stared into Arnav's eyes, the only thought that was stupidly plaguing her was..."Nothing can stop us being together?? What is he saying!? Who's trying to stop us!?"

As she continued to ponder this, she heard Buaji yell out for her...

Arnav grinned and said, "Go...I'm not going anywhere..."

Khushi quickly edged away and hurried out...

Buaji saw Khushi and hugged her tight..."Bua...Buaji, I can't breathe!"

"Sorry...I love you...and I want you to be happy...but please...please tread carefully...I don't want you hurt because of him again...Don't give your trust away to easily Khushi...please..."

Khushi's smiled faded..."But...He's...he is trying..."

"I don't care! I can't see you go through that type of emotional trauma again!"

Buaji was almost crying herself as she walked away...

Arnav was standing by Khushi's window looking out, remembering New Years Eve when they saw each others face at midnight...

He looked up the second Khushi came in...

Her expression was completely the opposite of what it was before...

"I... I don't think I can be a part of your life anymore Arnavji...With all that's happened...and I...I've been nothing but trouble for you, and I'll never change...I mean, look at what just happened with me climbing that stupid tree..."

He stood very still, and only the tensing of his jaw betrayed his conflict.

"You've never been trouble for me, and my God, I don't want you to change," he said, tilting her chin so that she had to look up at him.

Khushi shook her head..."I...I think you should go..."

"Before I go, I want to give you something."

He pulled her so close that she found it hard to breathe, and then he kissed her softly on the cheek, extremely close to her lips...

Khushi clung to him, feeling boneless and lightheaded as the embrace transported her into a starburst world of yearning flesh and heated passions.

Her legs would hardly support her weight when he finally released her.

"Tell me again that you can't be a part of my life anymore," he said.

Her voice shook as she tried to turn the situation around. "Let's just...just say that was a...a kiss to last a lifetime..."

"No Khushi... A kiss to begin a lifetime."

Arnav's eyes darkened..."Goodbye... for now..."

…...

That night...

He paced the floor...

She punched her pillow until it was limp.

Finally she got out of her bed...

As he crawled into his...

She stared out the window...

He tossed about until his sheet was so tangled he thought he'd have to cut his way out with scissors...

He snapped on his light and tried to read...

She cut hers off and tried to sleep...

Finally they both gave up and sat on their beds, staring out their windows...

As the minutes rolled by, they both began to recline...slowly drifting to sleep...

Arnav dreaming of the "if onlys..."

Khushi dreaming of the "what ifs..."

…...



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