Sunday, November 4, 2012

OS : The Light Of His Life (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..."

…...



The next morning...

"I am going with you..." Buaji said firmly...

"Buaji, Arnavji is at work...Jiji told me that it is just her at home today...and laxshmiji..." she grinned...

"I don't want you to stay long..."

"I won't...remember that I'm able to take care of myself!" Khushi snapped...

Buaji grabbed her earlobe..."Don't get smart with me! You know I'm only trying to protect you..."

Khushi stopped moving as Buaji released her ear..."I know...and I love you for it..."


…...


"Khushi!!!" Payal beamed with joy...

"Jiji...I've missed you so..."

After a squeezing embrace, Khushi anxiously asked her sister...

"Jiji, is...is anyone..."

Payal shook her head..."It's just us...come! Lets sit and talk, and cook and have tea!"

She grabbed Khushi's arm and led her away...

Khushi looked around...

Lights...

Color...

It was beautiful...exactly like the previous year...

Memories flooded back to her...

Lighting all the lamps...

Seeing the twinkling lights...

Her eyes constantly locking with Arnav's...

But then...past the beauty...she remembered more...

Her marriage, her heartbreak, weddings, breakups, breakdowns, anger...

Payal's voice was being drowned out by Khushi's thoughts...

"Here Khushi..." Payal said as she passed some milk...

Khushi mindlessly reached for it, knocking it over and spilling it all over herself, successfully drenching her salwar...

She let out a small yelp and Payal quickly grabbed a towel...

"Khushi...what's wrong? are you okay? It's almost like you haven't heard a word I'm saying!"

Khushi looked down at her dripping clothes..."I haven't Jiji..."

Payal gently hit her on her forehead..."You didn't have to openly admit it...Here, go up to my room...you can borrow something of mine...go..."

Khushi aimlessly wandered away...

Payal looked on starting to realize what was happening...

…...


As Khushi wandered up the stairs, her thoughts were back to where they were a 6 months ago...

Instead of walking to Payal's room, she walked to Arnav's.

Dazed, she meandered towards his closet...

She pulled out one of his white shirts...

Laying it out on the bed, she shedded her wet clothes and slid on her husband's shirt...

Hugging herself, she lifted the sleeve to breathe in his familiar scent...

A loud slam jerked her to attention...

Looking at where she was and what she was wearing horrified her...

"What the!? What have I done!?"

She nervously looked up hearing footsteps nearing the room...

"He's here...He's...He's going to be so mad..."

As soon as she saw his figure approaching, she sprinted towards the curtains to hide...

…...

Arnav arrived back at the RM feeling furious...

He had forgotten an important file...

He marched up the stairs just wanting time to pass faster so he could finish at the office and go to see his wife...

"I just need to see her..." he thought as he walked into his room...

And as soon as he entered, he saw someone run across the room and hide behind the curtain...

"Khushi?" he thought...

He slowly closed in on her, and pulled the curtain aside revealing his trembling wife, wearing his shirt, shaking with fear, with her eyes locked tight...

His brow furrowed and his lips quirked into a lopsided smile...

Planting his palms firmly on the window behind her, fencing her in, he whispered..."Khushi..."

Her eyes sprung open and what she saw blew her away...

No anger.

No fury.

No rage.

He was expectantly and lovingly admiring her...

"Why so scared...?"

His hands moved slowly up her arms, savouring the feel of her.

His grip was gentle on her shoulders but his gaze was fierce.

"It seems you still don't know how to wear a shirt properly..."

She cringed slightly, and gnawed on her lower lip as his hands tugged at the collar of the shirt...

His hands shook as he buttoned up the shirt, starting dangerously close to her chest...

He was certain that he deserved some type of medal for this act of chivalry.

As his hands moved against her, she fought the waves of passion that threatened to explode...

She felt as if she were seeing everything through a magnifying glass—the part in his hair, each tiny stubble of his beard, the dark lashes covering his deep eyes.

His face was so close that his breath warmed her sensitive skin.

"Khushi..." he whispered...

Her eyes fluttered up to stare at him...her worry was evident in her voice..."I...I'm only wearing this because I spilt..."

"I don't care why..."

"I...I wasn't supposed to...to come in here..."

Arnav smiled..."yes you were..."

"I don't know...how I ended up here..."

He stepped closer..."I love you Khushi..."

Her lips parted, but she couldn't find her voice...

Standing this close she could hear the thundering of his heart...or was it hers...

"Khushi..."

Her eyes ascended to his...

He saw her deep in thought..."What are you thinking about...?"

"I can't stop thinking about you..." her words came out before she had a chance to stop them...

Stepping closer, he gathered her against him...

"You constantly fill my thoughts too...I only wish to be with you..."

They clung together, prolonging the exquisite torture until they were both limp with the effort of restraint.

Khushi leaned her forehead against his chest and closed her eyes.

"I shouldn't have come here today..." she whispered...

Arnav rested his chin on top of her head and rocked her in his arms.

He heard her words...but he felt her true answer...

She stood quietly in his arms, memorizing the feel of him, storing the information away for the lonely hours and days and years that she spent without him.

For the first time in months, she couldn't remember why she wasn't with this man who was holding her so tenderly...

He took her hand and let her to the couch...

Holding her shoulders, he guided her to sit down and quickly sat beside her...

Her eyes darted around the room..."I...I have to go and..."

Lifting his hands to her face, he moved her to face him

He slid his arms around her and held her snug against his firm unyielding body.

Shivers rippled through her as he nibbled a path down her neck to the hollow at the base of her throat...

He let his eyes linger on her chest...

Her breathing was making her breasts heave up and down...

Quickly shutting his eyes, he took a deep breath...

Lifting his eyes back to Khushi, their gazes locked...

"I love you Khushi..."

Her lips parted..."I...I..."

He slid closer...

Heat, intense as the breath of a volcano, still coursed through her, and she thought she might never be cool again.

"I love you..." he repeated again as his breath warmed her face...

Tears filled her eyes...

She wanted to say it...

She wanted so desperately to say it...

He frowned, his expression was full of regret and pain...

"Khushi I can see it in your eyes...I can see your answer there..."

His hand caressed her cheek softly wiping the tears that were cascading down...

"KHUSHI!?" Payal's voice echoed up the stairs...

Khushi tried to stand up when she heard Payal call out, but her husband's arm around her waist held her captive...

"I'm not giving up on us Khushi..."

She started to shake her head...

"No...I'm not giving up..."

"Khushi!?" Payal called out...

Arnav released her and she stood up speedily...

She rushed to the door and listened intently...

"What am I going to do now...Jiji is calling for me...and...and I'm in HERE...and Arnavji is in here...and I'm wearing..." she looked down..."THIS!"

She huffed, standing up straight stamping her foot like a misbehaving toddler... "I don't know what I'm doing!"

She spoke with such zest...acted with such spice...she lit up the room like a firecracker...

He hadn't known it was possible to love a woman as much as he loved her.

He had racked his brain for a sure way to convince her to stay in this marriage, but so far he had come up empty.

If he didn't get a breakthrough soon, there wouldn't be a shred of carpet left on his bedroom floor...he had paced the threads to the concrete beneath...

"I am so confused..." she said though a choked voice...

His gaze shot up at her...

A tear spilled over, and another, until her cheeks were wet with crying.

Arnav went to her in such haste that he nearly tripped...

He pulled her up into his arms and cradled her head on his chest.

"I don't mean to confuse you Khushi...I really don't...Look, I'll go and explain everything to Payal..."

"No...!" Khushi fiercely gripped Arnav's arms as she cried..."Jiji will tell Buaji and then I won't be allowed to leave my room without her pulling at my ear..."

He almost wanted to smile, but her tears were killing him..."Okay okay...what did YOU want to do?"

Wrinkling her nose at him, she made a face and said..."I will think of something..."

"Oh good, I always secretly enjoyed your 'plans'..."

"You're just . . . saying that . . . to make me feel . . . better."

The words came out between sniffles, and the tears rained, unchecked, onto the front of his shirt.

Every sob was like a knife plunging straight into his heart.

He would have walked on nails rather than see her cry...

Pressing his face into her hair and murmuring soothing sounds, he felt her begin to calm...

He held her precious body close to his, dancing to the slow love song that throbbed in his heart.

He buried his lips in the fragrant hair just above her ear. 

"I would like to hold you this way forever..." he whispered. 

"Forever isn't for sure..."

She didn't know how she had the courage to be speak at a time like this, a time of racing pulses, thundering hearts and runaway passions. 

With the music of heartbeats filling her soul and stars winking from his eyes...SHE now felt like shouting her love at the top of her lungs. 

"This feels like forever to me." He said as his arms tightened around her, and in that moment he knew he could never let her go...whether he got her back by Diwali or not, he wouldn't give up until she was his...completely his...

There had to be a way through her barriers. 

And he was determined to find it. 

"I don't want to think about forever, Arnavji..." 

"Why?" he asked softly. 

"Because it makes me sad." 

"Sadness can be abolished." 

"Not the sadness of a forever without you." She hadn't meant to say it; it just popped out. 

Arnav stopped breathing hearing her impulsive revelation. 

He could almost feel the fence between them come tumbling down. 

He could almost leap through the barrier and make this marriage real. 

But not quite. 

He could still feel her uncertainty, and he would never take advantage of her vulnerability. 

"This divorce doesn't have to happen...It doesn't have to be that way..." he replied carefully. 

"Tell me why it doesn't have to be that way." 

"In cases of the heart, nothing matters except the feelings of the two people involved."

"That may be the way it SHOULD be, but is it? Does it work that way in real life or only in fantasy?" 

She lifted her face to his... "Don't answer that. I want to forget everything..." 

He could feel the smooth silk of her skin through the thin cotton of his shirt... 

Her vibrance communicated itself through his fingertips, and unconsciously his hands moved in erotic circles on her back. 

As he held the girl of his dreams in his arms, he had a moment of epiphany. 

This marriage had started out as one for appearances, but long before that, their relationship had always been one of the heart.

He had simply been too blind to see. 

He cursed himself for wasting so much time...

"Forever isn't just a dream Khushi..."

His words, full of strength and confidence, wrapped around her heart...

She basked in its sweetness and felt the glow of it fill her heart.

At last he lifted his head and looked deeply into her eyes. "I love you, Khushi" he said with quiet strength. "I always have ..."

His arms around her, hands rubbing her back...

Realizing where she was again she  moved back only to slam her back against the door...

Her eyes widened in surprise...

"Khushi!!! Where are you!?"

Payal's call jolted her once again...

"Khushi?! Are you in Arnavji's room?"  Payal stood right outside the door...

Her mouth opened in shock, and she looked helplessly to Arnav...

"Yes, she's in here...with me..." Arnav smiled down at his wife who was now feeling completely staggered...

"Arnavji? You're here? Is Khushi okay?" Payal's voice filled with concern...

Keeping his arm around Khushi, he pulled her to the side and opened the door...

Payal's face was reeling with shock seeing Khushi draped against Arnav, wearing his shirt...

"What is going on!?"

Arnav felt Khushi tremble...

"I came home, and found her in here...she changed into my shirt because..."

"I spilt milk..." Khushi finished his sentence, her voice shaky...

Payal just gawked at them both...

"Jiji...I don't know what happened...I just wandered in...and...and..."

Payal stepped forward and cupped her face..."Khushi...from the moment you arrived you haven't been yourself...I think you needed to see Arnavji...He's not completely out of your system..."

"And I won't ever be...I love her Payal...I want to try and make this work..."

Khushi's eyes ascended up...she was mesmerized...

He sounded so genuine...

His eyes were so honest...

"I do too..."  

Khushi wanted to say those words...

Her heart was screaming them...but still she stayed quiet...

"I believe that you really love her Arnavji, but you also must know the heartache she went through..."

"I'M STANDING RIGHT HERE!" Khushi finally burst out...

Arnav and Payal became silent...

Khushi was nearing her breaking point...she quickly stormed off to Payal's room to change...

"Khushi?..." Arnav called out to her but she ran into the room, out of sight...



…...



"I do too!?...What am I saying...?! I spent months trying to get over him...and now I'm falling all over again!..."

Khushi quickly rummaged round in Payal closet and chose a deep green sari...

Slowly, she began to undo the buttons...

One...two... and she stopped.

Her fingers lovingly touched Arnav's shirt...

"Even if I can never admit this to him, I need to admit it to myself...I love him...I love my husband...I love Arnav Singh Raizada..."

She clutched her heart as pain started to overwhelm her...

As she slipped out of his shirt, she felt his warmth completely abandon her...

Her body urged her to run back to him and launch herself into his embrace...

"Khushi?" payal called out softly as she entered her room...

"Huh?" Khushi looked up with a thoroughly rattled expression...

"Khushi...You..." Payal took a deep breath..."I'll meet you downstairs...It's getting late now and it's already started to rain...you will need to go home soon..."

That second, Payal's phone rang..."Hello? yes Buaji? Yes, She was about to leave now...She's fine...oh...I didn't know...Okay...Bye..."

Payal turned to face Khushi..."You will have to stay here tonight..."

Her eyes widened..."What?! No, No I can't...I'll leave now..."

"Khushi, there is a fierce storm coming, it's pouring with rain, and I won't let you leave like this, and I'm sure Arnavji woudln't want you to leave yet either...Now, I will meet you downstairs..."

…...

Khushi knocked on Arnav's bedroom door...

When he didn't answer straight away, she quickly turned and tried to hurry away...

"Khushi?"

Her feet halted of their own accord...

She turned to see him...

Walking a few paces towards him, she stretched out her arm, her hand holding his shirt firmly..."I...I only...wanted to...to return this...I'm...I'm sorry for..."

At lightening speed he reached and enclosed his hand around her wrist...

He pulled her hard against him, spun her around, slammed the bedroom door shut, and pinned her against it...

There was no talking.

No gazing.

Just passion.

She opened her mouth ready to tell him to stop...but then her eyes met his eyes.

Khushi sucked in her breath.

"Oh, God." she thought...

Primitive sexual energy swirled between them like a tornado gaining speed and power.

His eyes burned with a sheen of fire as he stared down at her.

As the storm began to rage outside, Khushi was being dragged down into the storm of her body's cry.

"Arnavji..." Her voice was raspy.

The tension pulled taut between them.

He lowered his head.

The rush of his breath caressed her lips as he spoke right against her mouth. "Khushi..."

Her mind fogged, caught between the awareness of his love and the desire pounding through her in waves.

Leaning into her, he moulded his body against her, holding her close...

Khushi gripped his shoulder and hung on, revelling in the dark taste of hunger...

She lost control in those few moments, the ageless empty void of the past months temporarily filled with the taste and feel and smell of him.

A whimper instantly escaped her throat.

Arnav withdrew slightly and the heat in his eyes nearly burned her alive.

He stepped even closer to her and she whimpered again...

His head lowered.

Khushi realized this was the moment of truth.

If he kissed her, she'd surrender.

Her body ached for his and she couldn't come up with one damn good reason to stop.

She didn't have to think for long...

3 loud taps on their door broke their transfixion...

"Chote?"

When Anjali heard from Payal that Khushi was visiting and that she would have to stay the night, she was overcome with joy...

Anjali had desperately wanted to console her over all that had happened, but Khushi had very abruptly disappeared out of their lives...

She remembered the amount of agony Arnav had gone through those 3 months without her...

"Chote? Is Khushiji in there with you?"

When they heard the knocking, they both stilled...although their mouths were still perilously close...

Khushi was the first to speak..."Di is calling..."

"I love you Khushi..."

Her eyes closed tight..."Please...Di is calling..."

"I...love...you...Khushi..."

Opening her eyes..."I...I..."

"Chote!? Are YOU in there!?"

Arnav withdrew a few more centimetres..."DI CAN YOU PLEASE JUST WAIT!?"

Khushi didn't know where it came from, but she began to laugh again...

Throwing his arms up in the air, he hesitantly said, "Just...Come in..."

Anjali burst inside and saw Khushi trying to hold back her laughter...

"Khushiji! oh how I've missed you!"

"Di..." They hugged each other tight...

Khushi's eyes roamed up to her husband...

After 3 months of complete separation from him and this family...she finally knew what had been lacking in her life...


...


For the remainder of the night, as the storm became ferocious outside, Khushi felt the storm of her life begin to settle...

She was surrounded by her family...

And the one person whom she couldn't never remove from her heart...

When it came time to go to bed, Anjali asked if she'd like to use the spare room...

Her heart shrieked to be with Arnav, but she nodded as Anjali lead the way...

Arnav followed close behind...

Anjali quietly said goodnight and walked away praying for their happiness...

'Goodnight Arnavji...'

'Will you be leaving early?' he hurriedly asked

'I...I should...Buaji is already worried about my being here...'

Arnav nodded...'I love you Khushi...and I will be seeing you tomorrow for Diwali whether you're here or at your other house...'

Reluctantly turning, he began to walk away...

Thunder.

The sky flashed and blasted a barrage of crashes...

And all the lights in the house began to flicker...

Khushi lept forward and bound her arms tight around Arnav's waist...

Arnav froze...'Khushi?'

He looked up around him and realized that the storm, the darkness, and the loneliness was scaring her...

His fingers brushed along the soft skin of her arms...

She pulled back feeling incredibly juvenile...

Facing her, Arnav took her hand...'Come with me...'

Khushi was too mind boggled to question him...

Her eyes were locked onto their joined hands...

Eventually, she registered where she was...

Back in his room...

'Here, sleep in the bed, I'm still sleeping on the couch...I have been since you left...'

With moist eyes, she fixed her gaze on him...

'Why...?'

'Because you're my wife...and I'm not sleeping there until I have you back...'

His heart was desperate to hold her, but he seated himself on the couch and closed his eyes...

Khushi climbed into the bed and huddled herself under the covers...

No longer afraid of the thunderstorm...

She only feared the absence of him in her life...

20 minutes passed...

'Arnavji?' she whispered. 'Are you asleep?'

'No.' he tried to keep his tone calm...

'Diwali is tomorrow night..."

"I know..."

Khushi could hear his strained voice..."I'm scared that I'm losing our bet..."

With a strangled cry, Arnav jumped up from the couch and came to the bed.

Kneeling on the floor beside her, he gently pushed her hair back from her face.  

'I'm sorry, Khushi. I'm so sorry ...I didn't want it to be like this...I love you...and I want to be your husband...I want you to be my wife...forever...'

He gathered her in his arms and pulled her fiercely against him.

She clung to him, moving her face against the glorious power of his chest.

Their denied passion was a time bomb ticking, a dangerous weapon that could only be defused by superhuman effort.

His hands cupped her face and his thumbs traced the line of her jaw.

'I love you and I want our marriage to be real.'

'Arnavji, I can't . . .'

He pressed his finger to her lips.

'Shh. Don't say anything yet. Let me finish.'

Closing his eyes, he bent and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.

'I don't want to pressure you or to take unfair advantage, but you must see the sincerity of my heart. You have always been the love of my life, and I hate that you've had to suffer so much just because I was too stupid to realize this...'

Tears shimmered on the tips of her eyelashes...

He brushed the tears from her eyes and kissed them away...

Arnav got onto the bed and lay on top of the covers beside her.

Taking her in his arms, he cradled her head against his shoulder.

'I'll continue to love you forever, no matter what your decision is...'

She fell asleep listening to the steady, reassuring beat of his heart.

But for Arnav, sleep didn't come.

Listening to Khushi's quiet breathing and the howling of the wind outside, he wrestled with his fear of losing her all night long...


...



Sunlight hit his face...

As his eyes flickered open, his senses were drawn immediately to the women in his arms...

He stared in awe at his wife...

His first night back in his bed...with his wife...and he wanted her...in every way.

This could NOT be the end, it had to the beginning...

"The beginning of madness..."...he thought as he smiled...

It took every ounce of control he possessed to pull away from her.

Looking at her, sleeping peacefully in his bed, was pure bliss...

He wanted to climb back in beside her, the consequences be damned.

Holding his hand steady, he brushed her tumbling hair back from her face...

His eyes focused on her kiss-pouted mouth.

He wanted to haul her into his arms and take her so fiercely, so thoroughly, that she would be bound to him forever.

He wanted to enslave her with passion so that she would never turn away from him.

Reaching out, he cupped her face..."Khushi..."

He wanted to drown in those beautiful eyes she lifted to him.

"Arnavji...?"

Temptation ripped through him, and he almost gave in...her lazy sultry voice sent shockwaves through him...

He knew, looking down at her, that he would be the one enslaved.

"Goodmorning..." he whispered

Khushi sat up abruptly...

Her mind took her back to all those months ago, when he would wake up and she would see only his anger...

 Quickly, she tried to distance herself from him...

"Don't...don't come any closer..." her voice was shaking...

Arnav saw confusion in her dark eyes and his heart began to pound with fright...

"Khushi? ...There was a storm last night...you had to stay here..."

She looked around the room...

Arnav could see her mind working to recall the present...

Her eyes flashed up..."I'm sorry, I...I forgot where I was..."

"Its okay..." he moved closer..."Shhh..."

Sliding his arms around her, he cradled her against his heart...

As heat began to swarm inside her, she lifted her hands and grasped at his shoulders...

Her peaceful thoughts were soon shattered by one realization...

Diwali.

Was today.

She called upon an unknown strength to let him go, then broke away and sat back.

"I'm...I'm not sure how this keeps happening..."

He reached out and touched her cheek.

She hoped he didn't feel its heat.

"You know EXACTLY how this keeps happening...you look extra beautiful when you wake up..."

When he removed his hand from her cheek, she felt deprived.

She sat still feeling helpless...not knowing what to do...

Khushi looked up at him and he saw the emptiness in her eyes...

He pulled her into his arms and held her tight.

"Arnavji..." She knew she'd made only a token protest.

She could no more resist his arms than she could fly.

He pressed her head against his shoulder. 

It fit perfectly, as it always had. 

"It's been almost 3 months since I've seen you, Khushi. I don't intend to let that happen again."

He tipped her head back...

"You're so damned beautiful, I ache every time I look at you."

She was caught up in the embrace.

His hands gently massaged her back, tenderly smoothed her hair.

She died a little inside, knowing it couldn't last...

Arnav thought back to the day she left...

She had found him in the abandoned building...

Bravely fought against the kidnappers...

Risked her own life...

Rescued him from Shyam...

But then...as he watched her walk out of his life, he realized that nothing mattered anymore...

What mattered was that he had driven away the only woman he had ever loved, the only woman he could ever love.

Too late, the realization swept over him.

But now, as he held her, He could never forgive himself if he lost her again.

He'd been fooling himself for long enough...

It was ironic to him that he could be so clearheaded in business and so blind about love.

His heart had been shouting the truth to him ever since he'd met her, but he had refused to listen. 

He'd plunged stubbornly ahead, widening the chasm that had made it almost impossible.

With the wonderful knowledge of love now coursing through him, he never considered any other possibility except winning her back...

He would have her, and anything that tried to come between them had better be prepared to do battle with the devil.

"I love you Khushi...I don't want a divorce..."

Her eyes lifted and she shook her head slowly..."Arnavji...It's over between us..."

Arnav drew back, but he kept his hold on her, cupping her face and holding it so close to his that they seemed to breathe as one..."It will never be over between us...just remember that!"

"Once I believed that. Not anymore, Arnavji..."

Silently Arnav cursed the fates that had torn them apart...

Inside, he raged against the empty first months of their marriage...

He wanted to smash his fist against the wall.

He wanted to run until he fell in his tracks.

He wanted to shout his fury until the very rafters of the house fell down.

Instead, he continued holding her beautiful face, his thumbs massaging her jaw as he gazed down at her.

"I'll make you believe it."

Letting her go, knowing she didn't believe in his love, was one of the hardest things he'd ever done.

At that moment he wished for some of the superpowers the press had credited him with...

Serious, playful, passionate...he'd be whatever it took to win Khushi again.

"Never. Your expectations are exceeded only by your arrogance."

"Thank God," he thought, "...she had still got her spunk..."

"I take that as another challenge, Khushi. And you know how I love a challenge."

"I don't deny that I feel desire in your arms."

"I'll accept that..."

"But I can never trust your love again."

"You can and you will."

Arnav had her mesmerized.

He hoped the flush on her cheeks and the brightness in her eyes meant that he was stirring her.

Khushi could see the passions that raged beneath her cool exterior.

Refusing an Arnav who said he hated her was hard...

But now, refusing an Arnav who vowed to love forever her was almost impossible.

She didn't know what was true anymore.

Dare she take that chance again?

Tonight was the night to find out...


...



As Khushi made her way down the stairs, she wondered how the events of the day would pan out...

"Khushiji!"

Her eyes darted towards Anjali...

Smiling nervously, she said..."Goodmorning Di..."

Payal also walked up beside her, "Khushi! Di and I have both decided, you will stay for the celebration tonight..."

"NO!" Khushi automatically replied..."I...Buaji won't..."

"I have already spoken with Buaji..." Payal linked her arm in Khushi's..."She made me promise to keep an eye on you, and as long as you're with us, then everything will be fine..."

Fine.

"Everything is far from 'fine'..." Khushi thought as her palms began to sweat...



...


Later that evening, the house began swarming with guests...

Arnav had come home early from the office and was now wearing a dark, debonair suit...

Khushi could feel his hot gaze on her body...

Even when she tried NOT to look at him, she found her eyes magnetically drawn to his...

Clinging tightly to Payal, Khushi followed as they served drinks together...

Arnav continued to watch her closely...

"She's avoiding me..." he thought, feeling slightly amused...

Arnav approached Anjali and whispered in her ear...

Anjali's shook her head..."No chote, I promised Buaji that..."

"You don't have to tell her I will be there...just ask her to light the lamps by the pool..."

Anjali glanced over to Khushi, who was nervously looking around...

"Chote, do you have to do this now?"

His eyes shone with determination..."Yes...I need to recreate something...tonight..."

"Alright... But Chote..." Anjali held his arm..."please...don't hurt her anymore..."

"Hurt her!" his entire body began to react..."What are you talking about Di!? I LOVE her!"

Anjali smiled..."I know...I know you do...I will send her..."


...



Eerily, Khushi knelt down to light the lamps by the poolside...

"This is all too familiar...I will do this quickly, and then just go back inside...I can't be out here..."

Arnav stood a few paces behind her...

He heard her talk to herself...

"She remembers...She's uncomfortable...GOOD!" he thought sharply...

His desire to break down the walls that surrounded her heart was beginning to take him over...

"Khushi...?"

She stood up fast and remembering how she twisted her ankle the last time, Arnav rushed forwards and steadied her...

Wide, Clear eyes met with his...

Quickly pressing her hands against his chest, she stepped back...

Transported back in time, Arnav stalked forwards as she retreated...

Her back hit the wall and her breathing was shallow...

"I can't be back here...I can't..."

"Khushi...tonight is Diwali...please...don't leave me...I love you..."

She immediately turned and was about to get as far from him as possible...

He tugged on her hand and pulled her back against the wall planting his hands on either side of her..."Don't walk away from me..." his voice was starting to show some dominance...

She held herself stiff, so she didn't lean against him, but she didn't try to stand, either.

"Walking away isn't going to solve things...Give us another chance..."

"I wish I could give you my pain... just for one moment... Not to hurt you, but so you can finally understand how much you have hurt me..."

His jaw tightened and he took a slow, measured breath before continuing, not wanting to react to the words and how much they devestated him, but choosing to act on the pain that caused her to say it.

"I'm not going to stand by and watch us fall apart... You're too important to me."

She stilled in his arms.

"I'm too important to you?"

He held her gaze..."It would rip me apart to lose you. Please don't go through with the divorce..."

She opened her mouth to speak but stepped closer, their chests touching...and her voice vanished...

Arnav's hands now came up to her face, caressing her with slow, deliberate movements.

His warm breath penetrated her hair as his arms pressed her body into his.

"Don't run from me." His voice commanded, whispered, in her ear.

Caught in the fog enveloping her mind, Khushi held herself perfectly still in his embrace.

Her senses were overwhelmed by his unique scent as it mingled with his cologne.

The heat from his eyes, and the coiled power of his hard body ignited a raw sensual energy that threatened to engulf her.      

Frantically, she realized the position she'd put herself in.

By her denial and unwillingness to concede, she'd waved a bright red flag in front of him and given him the ultimate challenge...

She convinced herself that he'd realize his mistake, apologize, and they'd continue their divorce arrangement and avoid future talks...

But now, feeling the devout sincerity pouring from his heart, she was no more able to escape his embrace than she could escape him holding her heart...

Then came the moment...

As his hands steadily held her face, her eyes fell shut...and finally...finally, she felt his lips touch hers...

What started as a gentle kiss turned into an explosive assault.

Suddenly becoming anxious, Khushi tried to hold him off, she struggled briefly in his arms.

Then the drugging power of Arnav Singh Raizada took over.

She held still and let him kiss her...

The incredible joy of being held by him blotted out everything else.

Khushi felt safe.

Even when she felt fearful of him, she still felt safe...

Nothing mattered at that moment except being in Arnav's arms, being kissed by him.

She absorbed him, the familiar taste of him, fresh and delicious and somehow very masculine; the familiar shape of his mouth, beautifully molded and firm, exactly right for kissing; the familiar feel of him, broad and solid and enduring.

Home, she thought. 

Home is being held next to her husband's heart.

She felt her heart beginning to surrender...

Could she do it?

Could she finally trust him to protect her heart?

Love told her to let go, and fear told her to back off, and pain told her to refuse...

Arnav immediately felt her refusal to respond to him.

He clamped down hard on the fierce need that raced through his body to make her surrender to her emotions, as he'd been forced to.

He deliberately relaxed his hold and eased the pressure of the kiss, moving his lips teasingly over hers, inviting her to kiss him back.

Slowly, he sipped at her mouth as if she were a precious drink of water in the hot desert sun, learning her taste and texture.

Nibbling at her lower lip, his tongue teased its pouty outline as he continued a maddening game of arousal and retreat attempting to both soothe and ignite her.

Khushi unconsciously pressed her body closer to his, seeking something more to quench the fire in her belly that suddenly flamed to life.      

The strong hands that had first dragged her to his embrace now glided over her shoulders and down her arms in a gentle caress.

His fingers smoothed her flesh and made her wonder what his touch would feel like on her bare skin.

Her mind clamoured for her to push him away when his grip loosened, but her body longed to feel the promise behind his scorching kiss.

The blood pumped through her veins with each deliberate movement of his hands and mouth.      

Arnav's mouth brushed hers, then withdrew.

He pulled his hands through her thick hair, rubbing each strand between his fingers in slow, easy movements.

A moan escaped her lips.

Arnav hated to do this, but he fully released her and backed away...

Khushi stumbled slightly when he let go...

Her eyes remain closed and her lips were wet and pouting...

Arnav had never known such torture...

Finally they had completed what should have been completed the first time...

Their kiss...

The wind picked up and her dark hair blew over his left shoulder and swiped against the bare skin at his neck.

Khushi was unable to move at the intimacy of what they had just done...

Arnav stayed silent...

His eyes spoke to the depths of her...

"You win..." she whispered...      

Khushi watched the emotions flicker over his face, partly surprised that she spotted no gleam of triumph for his victory.

His eyes were on the verge of pouring out tears...

In one rapid motion, she was pushed back up against the wall, and as the Diwali firecrackers lit up the night sky, brighter explosions of joy lit up his life...

He held nothing back...

His mouth fused to hers once more...

With a single thrust Arnav parted her lips and hungrily plundered the honey sweetness he found, over and over again, melding their mouths together in a fusion of desire and need.

He became ruthless in his victory, demanding every response she had to give.      

Her senses were overpowered by the scent of his breath, the musk and soap from his skin, the dark heady taste of raw male hunger.

His teeth tugged gently on her lower lip, then bathed the flesh with his tongue.

With a low moan, she reached up and plunged all ten fingers into sable strands of hair.      

One hand shot out to hold her still as he led her in a game of attack and retreat.

His tongue led a teasing dance and urged her to play.

She gripped his shoulders and tried to drag him closer to her arching body.     

He gave a low laugh and dropped tiny kisses along her jaw, down her neck, the hollow of her throat.     

She struggled for breath.

Liquid heat coursed through her body and her fingers clenched in his hair, urging him on, frantic with need.      

He let his warm breath brush against her ear as he bestowed light kisses down her cheek. "I love you..."      

Khushi felt wrapped in a cocoon of warmth.

His voice poured over her like hot caramel.

His hands moved over her body, caressing firmly.

She gripped at his biceps as the tension grew and a low moan of anticipation escaped her lips.

Arnav felt her relax into his body, trusting his strength.

"No more doubts...No more fear... And no more running away."      

The stark words hung in the air between them.

She realized this was one of the strongest men she'd ever known.

A surge of emotion caught her.

He was a proud man who stood alone in the world, and a ruthless executive who made million dollar deals without breaking a sweat.

Yet he chose to show her tenderness...

Chose to show her his heart...

Khushi then felt him pulling back, ending the kiss.

"No..." she said softly...

Winding her hands in his hair, she pulled his head back down.

She had to have more of him.

His heart radiated with happiness as his lips pressed to hers again.

Everything about the kiss was tender—the gentle touch of clinging mouths, the sweet coaxing of his tongue, even the way he held her.

The kiss gave everything and demanded nothing.

As their mouths paused, she whispered..."I love you Arnavji..."

She stood very still, scarcely daring to breathe.

She didn't want a thing to mar this precious moment.

Her heart was making a commitment, and there would be no going back.

His hands moved down the side of her throat and across her shoulders.

New life tingled through her.

Arnav held her captive in his embrace as he stared into her eyes...

Khushi could the pure joy in his face.

"My God..." he rasped...'I got you back...I...I can't believe it...I just...I love you so much..."

His lips touched hers as gently as spring dew on new leaves.

The dark sky was continuously being lit up by blasts of fragmented light...

But the lights that shone the brightest were the stars in the sky...

The pure happiness...

The tranquil contentment...

Arnav Singh Raizada had finally, won back...the light of his life...



1 comment:

  1. That was perfectly beautiful!

    Blablabla_mo7 IF

    ReplyDelete