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Just good Friends
Chapter 12

Anjali and Devyani Raizada sat in the main lounge looking at each other incredulously -what had just occurred. World war three had just broken out over what ? how did it all start.
“Nani ji , do you think those two will make it through the wedding intact ,each in one piece.”
“Oh I think they will, the question is will my heart be able to many more of their arguments”
“Nani ji are you sure ,this is the right decision. I mean Khushi and Arnav -I have never seen them fight so much.”
“They have been best friends for a long time since we can all remember -they knew how to behave….now their relationship has changed they are still working it out -it will take a little time but they will get there. But for now we had better stock up on paracetomols and ear plugs and remove everything thats breakable from the vicinity of those two”

Khushi lay on her bed hugging her pillow -crying into it when she heard a gentle knock on her door.She refused to answer -She wanted to be on her own. The door creaked open and he looked at her lying on her bed crying into a pillow-he felt like crap. Khushi sensed Arnavs presence without looking round she knew it was him.
“Khushi can I come in?”
“What ..hic ..are ….sniff …asking ….hic ….for ?…you’re already in!”
Arnav felt like crap all he seemed to do these days was make her cry. Up until recently he would have killed anyone that would bring a tear to his best friends eyes. He would have lynched them for raising their voice at her and here he was responsible for both. He had shouted at her and made her cry. Why did she make him lose his temper so quickly -and their latest argument had been about her job. She had passed her degree with flying colours -she had passed with gold medals -all she had wanted was to work. He had meant to say after a couple of months of them being married she could work anywhere she wanted to in AR designs -she wanted to work straight away for someone else -not him as a designer.
He wanted her to himself for a while -before sharing her with the stress and strain of a job. At Ar designs she could come and go as she pleased do what ever she wanted -work as many or as few hours as she wanted -he could teach her guide her and above all protect her from the jackals in the industry . As his wife no one would dare misbehave with her or he would destroy them . And yet it had come out all wrong -instead they had had a blazing row with her throwing a vase at him.He ducked -it missed him . But she left the room in tears.
To top it off he was told of by Nani and Di for upsetting her .
She felt the bed give as he sat down by her.
“Khushi please stop crying…..I’m….I’m……really ….sorry .”
Khushi stunned turned round to look at him and stare which her red tear stained saucer shaped eyes open mouthed .
“you said sorry! You didn’t say watch the tone Khushi- you actually apologised ……..to me ! Are you feeling OK Arnav “-she quickly scrambled off the bed and made him lie down
“Are you feeling OK ?”
“I ‘m fine but then evidently so are you “
He pulled her hard so she fell on top of him -“But then so are you!. Khushi let me explain why I would like you to work for me and no one else but after that if you want to work for someone else then its fine with me – but no more tears”
Arnav continued to explain to her in-between kisses his reasoning -by the end of his explanation their conversation didn’t make any sense, they had no idea why she had been crying all he said was “Khushi I had better get out of your room two weeks till our wedding -if we make it “
“What do you mean if we make it ?”
“I’m not talking about getting married -I’m talking about our wedding night it might happen a lot sooner than our wedding if I don’t leave your room now!”
Arnav took a deep breath and pulled away from her Khushi looked at him and then bit her lip. Was she responsible for making him look like that ? his shirt was open and his trousers were undone. When did she do that -she had no idea. Arnav saw realisation hit her as her face changed colour from red to deep red. He laughed “yes you are responsible for my state of undress- take a look at yourself -She hadn’t faired much better -Khushi screamed with realisation -she had nothing on her top. When did he remove her kurti -she hadn’t even felt him unhook her bra or when he took it off. Arnav laughed even more as she desperately searched for her items of missing clothing.
“When , how ? How could you ?”
Arnav just smile and said “just like you did”
“You need to leave my room now!”
“Am i forgiven ?”
“Arnav you are forgiven before you do anything wrong -but i still have to scream at you!”
“Can you stop throwing things at me -you see this now belongs to certain individual by the name of Khushi Kumari Gupta and she has a screw loose so I can not be held responsible for what she might do to you”
Khushi just smiled at him “-AS long as the world knows the it belongs to me “
“Since you are in a better frame of mind and I have agreed to all the rituals that you want -can I wear a suit to the wedding ?”
Khushi stood up right and hugged him running her hands down his chest and then his back. She slipped her hands inside his trousers and caressed his butt and and said “You have no concept of how sexy you look in a sherwani and how hot you ale me feel”
With that Khushi pushed him out of her room and shut the door standing their shaking with laughter and passion. Arnav stood dazed outside her doorway.
“Chote – you ok ? “
“mmm “
“Have you said sorry to Khushi
“mmm”
“CHOTE – whats with the mmm is everything ok ?”
“Yes Di -I was just thinking of changing my outfit for the wedding ?”
“What ?Why ?”
“I was thinking of a sherwani -the same colour as Khushi ’s lengha”
Anjali smiled in relief- she thought she had another argument brewing those two would give her heart attack. Thank Devi Maya -only two weeks to go to the mehndhi.

 

 

 

 

SS- The morning after the Night before

Chapter 23

Khushi smiled as she waved bye to her boys – she adored them and as they were finally out of her line of sight -Arnav held a handkerchief out for her.

“I …don’t …need…it ..sniff sniff”

Arnav knew she was crying – he shook his head and smiled.

“Khushi it’s a good job we have three boys -can you imagine if they were girls how much would you cry at their bidai time, this is how many tears you have shed and we are only going away for four days!”

“I miss them!”

“I know – now use the handkerchief and smile or i might go back and get them”

“Would you ? please !’

“NO! Not after all the hoops i had to jump through  and everything that I- have had to agree to -get this time alone -may I remind you that you wanted to celebrate our anniversary alone.”

“By the way what did you agree to ?”

“Let me see -the boys – they want to have a party at heavenly desserts and no restrictions on the number of ice creams or puddings they can have and no dinner , they want a new basket ball hoop ,and a list of games including an 18+ game “

“Arnav you don’t agree-did you ?”

“Of course -it meant that i got you all to myself for four days -hmmm this is going to be so delicious -no interruptions -before -during or after lovemaking”

Both Khushi and Arnav thought back to a few nights ago when they were half way through he had never pulled himself out of her so quickly and tossed her a night gown and pulled his pyjama’s up so fast -that was record time -they both looked decent as Khushi opened the door to her youngest.

“Baby what’s wrong?”

Akhil had cried he wasn’t feeling well -his tummy hurt. Khushi had picked him up and laid him in their bed while she whispered a sweet story in his ear while she gently massaged his tummy and back until he fell asleep.

He remembered their conversation from that night -he had offered to take Akhil back to his bed as they had unfinished business to attend to. But Khushi was having none of it. Arnav had  looked down at his son-“what do you have against me son ? I do everything for you -Do you know Khushi I swear he has built in radar in case I get to close to his mother -even as a baby it was always Akhil who was stopping us. He smiled to remove the hardness of his words. This was a really close call. But let me tell you I am going to finish this in the morning -I am going to have a shower now!”

Khushi had laughed at Arnav’s frustrated status she was not fairing much better.

“Yup no interuptions! I am going to lock you up for four days and keep you naked in my bed Mrs Raizada!”

“Promises , Promises Mr Raizada- do you think you will manage to perform for such a long period – you have not been practising enough recently -do you think you will last through the marathon event ?”

“Whose fault is that Khushi ? Not enough practise? You know me anytime any place “

“Besharam! Arnav how could you have agreed to an 18 + game “

“Khushi – I agreed to an !8 + game -they didn’t specify the game – I will get them a board game of some kind not there grand theft auto!”

“Arnav that’s cheating !”

“No that’s training them-they will always remember to specify the small print in their deal”

“Arnav they are children -your children!”

“Whose side are you on – did you want time alone ?”

“Yes”

“Then be quiet women -and enjoy -the kids will be fine ; I’m not sure about Akash though and your dad -I saw them pack their nerf guns and they were discussing with their cousins which was the best knot to use to tie their dad up! He apparently is not as much fun as their Nana. They were deciding who was going to be on Nana ji ’s team and who was going to have to have Cha cha on their team”

“Please don’t tell me anymore -these boys -did they get a special helping of naughtiness when god was dispensing it out “

“No they had an extra helping if the Khushi gene”

“what else did you promise ?”

“Well… I will wear a pyjama Kurta to a pooja that Di is holding and I will be there for the preparations and the clearing away”

“Any small print I need to know about ?”

Arnav laughed “I was dealing with a Raizada -here -she made me sign a contract -which specified that i would wear what ever she wanted me to wear and be in attendance for the whole event -no mobile phone or electronic device in my hand unless so permitted and I had to see the whole event through without any comments accompanied with a smile”

“She drives a mean bargin”

“She’s a Raizada !”

“No !she is an expert when it comes to her brother’s devious mind. Anything else that I need to be aware of ?”

“No everyone else was easy -I just promised them a family dinner part y when we got back!”

“Arnav where are we going ?”

“The hell pad – we are going to Sheesmahal -is that ok ? You can fly  if you want to !”

“Oh yes”
Khushi looked at the flight plans and started the rotar blades -her stomach lurched slightly as the she took the chopper up into he sky. She loved flying and Arnav knew from the hours she logged that se was a competent pilot- he sat in the back allowing the pilot to sit next to her.

Khushi enjoyed every minute of the flight except her landing which left her slightly nauseous. But the adrenalin buzz that she got from her flight soon made her forget her nausea and the little cautionary voice at the back of her head. The white envelope was stilled to be opened – she would deal with it at the hotel -for now she was going to enjoy her time. Arnav and Khushi both slid into the waiting vehicle and were  driven to Sheeshmahal.

“Arnav -thankyou for that -I love flying”

He smiled -he would do anything to keep that smile on her face and that look in her eyes -it was meant for him just him. He could never resist her -he swooped down and claimed his rights to her lips.

Khushi startled pulled away -and then gave up realising that he was not letting go of her -when she she got her breath “everyone can see”

Arnav kept on kissing her taking short breaths “Let them”

“Arnav -the driver “

“Let him”

“Everyone outside “
“Let them “

“Arnav..”

“Khushi -shut up and kiss me right now I don’t care if the boys were watching !”

“Hawww…”

The rest was lost as they both lost in their kiss.

It was a while later that they both realised that their vehicle was at a standstill outside Sheeshmahal and the driver’s seat was empty. How long had the vehicle been standing -Arnav looked outside his window to see that it was blocked by the back of his chauffeur allowing them privacy to continue until they were ready to emerge to the waiting world.

Arnav smiled at Khushi -who now looked resembled rudolf the red nosed reindeer.

“Arnav -you have no shame -how long have we been here ?”

“No idea!” At least he had the decency to look sheepish. “Khushi -does it matter that i was lost in my wives lips -or that I am so in love with her that  i can’t keep my eyes or hands of her-do you know that it is a well known fact in the business world that I am totally and absolutely in love with you. Shall we ?”

Khushi arrived in their apartment , the only part of SheeshMahal that was not accessed by the public.

Arnav swept her up in her arms and carried her in. “our second honeymoon Mrs Raizada “

Khushi laughed until Arnav gave her a single red rose.

The smell made her heave she clamped her hand over her mouth as her stomach somersaulted and she felt the contents of her stomach rise want to make an exit the quickest way they could.

Arnav watched in disbelief -as he watched Khushi empty the contents of her stomach all over the entrance hall.

“NO,NO NO ! Khushi you Okay “-Arnav gently picked her up and carried her to the bathroom washed her face picked her up and laid her in bed.

Arnav called roomservice  to clean up the room.

He then nipped back into to check on Khushi -“feeling better? I think I just jinked our holiday by saying the magic words second honeymoon”

“I’m feeling a lot better as she sat up”
“Was it the flight or exhaustion from the journey Khush?

Khushi smiled at him – “I hope so. Get my bag Arnav 

Did she really need to open that white envelope she already knew the answer -the smell of the rose -gave it away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Runaway Bride

Chapter 4

Three days she had been cooped up in the pent house. The balcony had been her only comfort-here she sit and listen to the ongoing sounds of the outside world.

The sounds of the busy world below were her only contact to the outside world. She had been isolated for three days. Khushi took a deep breath -yup she could still smell the familiar fumes of the city below. Aman had said they all had to go out for five days -another wedding. If they demonstrated a united front -the pressure would be off Arnav. They would not be looking at him so closely but start looking for her elsewhere. Aman had also pointed out if there was someone who Arnav could attend the wedding with -that would help immensely.

All Khushi thought was how do women do it be at home all day. She was going mad slowly. She had cleaned every inch of the apartment to the extent that she had got up on the table and cleaned all the vents of the air conditioning systems in the apartment.

She was in a sorry place – no money , no family , no real job , no husband. Hang on that was a good thing ! That was it she would make a list. What was good about her life she needed to think -to sort her jumbled thoughts out

Khushi watched the sun set over the sky line -she was waiting for the anonymity that the night could provide -finally it came -the night sky. Her protector.

The blanket of darkness would provide her protection but with it came danger. KHushi listened as slowly the city was slowing down -but this was Dehli it would be a long time before it slept. She saw the welcoming  darkness lit by occasional luminescent glow provided by the street lights.

Enough – she needed the fresh air , she needed to get out e, Khushi quickly put on a black hoody and pulled it over her head -clothed entirely in black she silently slipped out the building unnoticed by the stairs out through the fire exit leaving it unlocked and avoiding the guards and nightwatchman she ran. She ran and ran -Khushi needed to release her pent up energy -she had been in that flat for two whole days -with no one. Loneliness had made a best friend with her for the last three days -if nothing else she had to get her daily dose of exercise.

As Khushi ran -most people that saw her -failed to see her -another mad person exercising -not a worthy victim -joggers usually had nothing on them and this one just blended -nothing made her stand out-if anything her slight build made people think another mad teenager.

Khushi arrived back she had run for the last two hours longer than she  normally ran.

Now she had to get back in unnoticed just as she had got out .

Khushi watched silently hidden for opportunity -she climbed the fence jumped over and slipped back in through the fire exit -and ran up the stairs.

She smiled as she  entered the penthouse -made it -she thought .

“Where the f*** have you been for the last two hours?”

All Khushi could do was look up from her doubled up position -she was bent over regaining her breath having just sprinted up five flights of stairs.

“Answer me Khushi …Damm you where have you been ?”

Khushi held up her hand -what the hell was this man on.

“Give …..me …….five …..”

“Arnav -what are you doing here ? you are meant to be away for another three days?”

“I had enough of the wedding -showed my face had innumerable number of single females and their mothers shoved in my face by Di- there is only so many time you can say nice to meet you , enjoying the wedding ? The last introduction – all the girl could do was giggle at everything i said -that was it ! I told Amn I was coming back to Dehli – Khushi back to you . What the hell ? Where were you? I can see from your get up – you went running ? Are you mad ? this is Dehli -not exactly the safest city in the world ?”

Khushi grew out a sharp kitchen knife from her pocket and flashed it menacingly at Arnav.

“What is that meant to be ? you think that will protect you? I can take that from you in two seconds and then what -and thats when I’m not trying “

“Try me -I’ll give you a good run for your money -don’t underestimate me -they say smaller the package -the more lethal it is likely to be – it will take a lot longer than two seconds to get my knife”

Arnav approached Khushi with purpose to show her exactly how easy it was to disarm her -how vulnerable she was, to try and make her understand the dangers that were hidden in streets of Dehli after dark for a lone girl running.

Now friends, what Arnav didn’t know was that our heroine wasn’t giving anything up easily -she had been training in the art of Wadō-ryū- style of karate -for a long time -she started when she was six years old. Now she was proficient -in the art of self defence -she would make her father proud showing off the investment that he had made in her over the years. She would make her master proud -he had trained her well. A third dan was just not bestowed on anyone – she had worked exceptionally hard to earn it. Arnav was about to find out exactly how hard.

Well fifteen minutes later Khushi still had possession of her knife and they both lay next to each other silently laughing. Now I had to match them equally -didn’t I. I couldn’t let the sisterhood down by letting Arnav win -bit then again my story still has to have a manly hero.

Arnav and Khushi looked around the penthouse and laughed some more.

They had trashed the penthouse in their fight.Upturned chairs broken vase knocked over

Paintings and pictures dislodged from their position.

“Arnav its a good job you like the minimalistic design-otherwise the damage would be a lot worse”

“Ok you can look after yourself to a certain degree -but i still don’t want you running on your own -you can run with me”

Khushi looked at him in disbelief “I can run with you ? Is that meant to be an Honour ? I run like i fight – I am more than your equal -so it’s not that I can run with you -we can run together -get it ! we are equally matched “

Arnav smiled -“yes we are ………I think Sham had a lucky escape ……..I don’t think he knew he was getting a tornado on legs “

He felt Khushi shudder at the mention of his name. “Sorry Khushi i didn’t mean to bring up his name -shall we get up ?”

Khushi smiled and together they got up and surveyed their handy work -well at least they had only broken a few things “You sort the furniture out I brick up the pieces.

Soon the apartment was restored to their pre apartment scuffle- only evidence that an altercation had taken place were a few missing items and the bruises they carried of their intimate meeting that had taken place earlier.

“Arnav  I need a shower -and food “

“I cook a mean pasta dish -interested ?”

“I’m interested in anything as long s i don’t have to cook it “

Our hero uncertain why -he never cooked for anyone just offered -he tried to puzzle this conundrum in his head whilst unconsciously he laid out a romantic dinner -two bowls of steaming pasta -candles on the dinner table like an expert  and a small bowl of flowers -as they had already smashed the vase. Our hero was already in love -somewhere in the two hours that he waited for her he had lost his heart and in the fight that ensued -that only secured the loss. But as usual our hero is a little bit slow in the matters of the heart and  it will take a little time for our hero to work out his latest puzzle in his brain.

Khushi returned from her shower and look at the table .

“ I feel under dressed -thankyou “

Arnav looked her up and down -she had on a T shirt -obviously not hers – knotted at her waist, it was his and a pair of shorts. She had the sexiest legs he had seen and the glint from her waist -her belly button was pierced and the gem that glinted kept drawing his eyes to her waist. She was exquisite.

They both sat there in silence eating until finally Khushi spoke “ it’s delicious -but ……would you be offended if I added a little extra to the dish “

“No of course not- you want parmesan cheese?”

Arnav watched as she returned from the kitchen carrying an array of things – salt chilli and mango pickle.

He watched on in astonishment as she ate her pasta after liberally sprinkling it with all three things.

“Khushi I think you have invented a new dish -“

She smiled back at him -“I hate bland food”

“I can see that “

“So whats the gossip on the wedding scene – about me and you and Sham?”

“Well they don’t think it’s me -so Aman’s plan has been sucessful- but I don’t see the point because they will soon find out that you are working for me and the whole thing will start again. We are delaying the inevitable. Oh and you have been sighted in Goa and Jaipur with a blond surfer  and a  man with with big black moustache”

Khushi laughed -the gossip scene never changed -if they couldn’t find out anything they invented it.

“mmm the blond surfer sounds more fun – I fancy being a beach bum for a while! How about Sham?”

“News has it – they are looking for a girl for him to get him married as soon as possible -I think they are looking at Mehta Industries daughter”

“poor girl , Arnav what about me – I can’t stay here forever i feel like Rapunzel locked in a tower -i need to get out for a while and go somewhere -where I can blend into the crowd and stay invisible for a while till Sham’s anger and dad’s brain has returned to normal. Any ideas?”

“Yes”

Our hero definitely had a plan -he just hadn’t formulated it yet -but he had realised a few things -she fascinated him. She wasn’t marrying Sham, and if she stayed in his penthouse , either she would be discovered or more than likely give him a heart attack with the antics she got up to. He worried about her when she was on her own. Yes that’s right readers -he worried about her -like i said his heart was completely and fully involved. Our Arnav’s brain is not good with dealing with emotion -so it will take him a little while yet to discover that.

While he makes that journey -hopefully you will enjoy the journey

 

Just Good friends
chapter 11

Khushi continued to stare at the empty doorway long after Arnav had left. She was joined by a gaping trio.
“Khushi”
“Woh…..I…he ….what ?…..I….I ….need to go!”
“Khushi bitia tum teekh tho ho?”
“Hmmm….ji Nani Ji …I …have to go”
Khushi turned on her heel and ran before anyone else could ask anymore questions of what everyone had witnesses.
Khushi sat on a parapet on the roof top surrounded by silence-thinking.
What just happened ? what did he do ? Did he know that they were watching ? he couldn’t have , he was outside she had pinged him on his arse.
Khushi smiled at herself that was fun -he knew it was her he just couldn’t find her! She had got him square on target -bulls eye! She still had it in her. But what now ? Did he mean anything he said or was it a show? Maybe he was going to say something else like pull her hair or something…..it was a long time since he had done anything to her!
The harder Khushi thought the harder it got to come up with an answer…he had done nothing to her in the recent past except manage to get them engaged.
She thought she had successfully broken the engagement only to have him re-fix it. What was his brain thinking?
Hope …maybe just maybe he felt something for her? Something more than friendship…if she asked him direct and up front there would be no going back…she was going to have to gamble a lifetime of friendship for a lifetime’s happiness or a lifetime’s loss, once out there was no getting out of the rabbit hole once down, that was it -the point of no return.
She had to find out the risk was worth it how was she going to get there …OP scootie! Hadn’t he banned her a while back ..ohh what did it matter -he was going to be either really angry with her anyway for misunderstanding or be ecstatic in which case he would forgive her.
Right now her best method of transportation seemed to be a scootie.
“OP bhaiya please can i borrow the scootie”
“No Bitia -Arnav Bhaiya said i was not to lend you the scootie”
“OP bhaiya -Ok then get me an auto rickshaw -you know it will take me longer and then i might not find one on the way home…i’ll be waiting all alone by myself instead of coming home and in tis day and age ….”
“Bitia -you will be extra careful and won’t drive above 20 miles per hour”
“Of course -tell me does a scootie go that fast ?”
“No no no it ’s about 15 mph and please get home before Arnav bhaiya does otherwise both you and me will have to find new bodies -I will be saying goodbye to this one”
“ you worry too much what could possibly happen?”
As khushi set off OP carried out a min poona and burnt some lemon and chillies to ward of any eveil eyes that might be free to cast a glance at his Khushi Bitia.
Khushi drove along extra careful to keep her promise to OP. She ignored the line of traffic as she drove along in the middle of the road. She ignored the honking and the comments of other two wheelers that could get past her. She paid no heed to the other road users who were getting irate with her. She had made a promise to OP she was doing her best to keep it.
Finally she arrived at the AR designs carpark she drove in and to avoid Arnav parking area she parked on the opposite side of the car park. Why was everyone so worried about her abilities when it came to two,three or four wheeled vehicles.
Khushi negotiated the stairs all the way to Arna’s office she told his PA that she had a urgent appointment with him.
Arnav’s PA knew that there were two females that were allowed to enter his cabin unattended and he would alter his schedule when it came to these two women- Anjali ma’am and Khushi.
Now his relationship with Khushi had been given a special name, she was his fiancee.
She smiled and said she would get a message to ASR about her presence.

“Khushi what are you doing here -everything ok ?”
“Yes I think so”
“Arnav about this morning”
Arnav rubbed his arse involuntarily “Khushi your aim is till spot on and for future reference it hurt”
He then did something that shocked Khushi into silence, he quietly grazed his lips against hers -leaving the merest hint of him on her.he grabbed her hand and pulled her over to his chair, pulling her onto his lap -shocking her into further stunned silence.Before she could retaliate with what the hell Anav have you gone stark raving mad- she was fighting her emotions that really wanted this to be happening.
Now they were on their own -no one was watching , they were not performing for anyone or were they?
“Are you getting ready to take a selfie ?”
Arnav reply was to lift Khushi’s hair to one side and start to trail hot warm kisses along her neck line.
Arnav heard her breath catch and her rate of breathing speed up.
“mmm Khushi what did you come for ?”
“I came to …ask …this morning …I did everything to split us up and then you came …back and …and ..stop it Arnav …”
“Why ?…You don’t like it ?….you’re not enjoying it ?….”
“Arnav how are we going to split up if you keep behaving like this ?”
Arnav turned Khushi to face him and then lowered his head so that his lips met hers, he slowly sipped her breath. Khushi lost herself to the moment ,electricity of his kiss, spread through her as his tongue seeked entry, looking and finding its mate played with it .His heady scent filled her senses till she was no longer capable of focused thought.He was no longer capable of focus thought either -when did his hands find their way under her blouse he had no idea, They were both caught up in the moment lost completely in each other, until the constant ringing of his phone returned them out of their world of pleasure to the present.
“hello yes Aman -yes I’m fine…i haven’t been running a marathon …yes khushi is here ….yes cancel the next meeting or take it on your own …..I’m busy … i am in the middle of negotiating something more important than there business deal …my wedding date …will that do for now …can i get back to dealing with my fiancee.”
“Still want to split up ? It is not going to happen ever -you were my best friend and i have always been in love with you. Why do you think i have never been able to commit to anyone – i have been waiting for you to grow up. Now I am going to marry you ! you know Nani knew long before even my brain had worked it out -show me your ring and when he half twisted it off she saw the words ARNAV spelt out “ Now look at mine “ -KHUSHI was spelt out “she plays a mean game”
Khushi I am in love with you are you in love with me sufficiently to take me on for the rest of your life -there is no going back on this deal-no exemption clauses -this is a one time offer for life -will you marry me ?”
All Khushi could do was kiss her best friend -it was a very long time later when she finally emerged from his office leaving his PA with on doubt as to what exactly had been going on behind closed doors.
It wasn’t until Arnav said that he would give her a lift home that she panicked the scootie was outside . She fobbed him off with some excuse that she had to go get some girl stuff and then get home . She would meet him at home.

Khushi remembered her promise on the way back again taking up the middle of the road and almost single-handedly being responsible for a major traffic jam. It wasn’t until she was near home that a large white Suv honked her again and again and then the driver just honked continuously as the driver recognised who exactly was on the scootie he wanted her to stop.Hadn’t he told her that she was never to drive any thing with wheels and then it happened she suddenly accelerated due to the irritating driver behind her constantly badgering her -didn’t he realise that she couldn’t break her promise. The scootie went one way and she fortunately went the other whilst Arnav’s SUV crunched into the scootie.
Arnav stopped his vehicle with his heart in his mouth to see Khushi standing up and dusting her self down seeing the state of the scootie turned around to give the stupid driver a piece of her mind and the stopped recognising the car and driver and instead said a few very quick prayers to Devi maya.
“Arnav i..I can explain”
“Khushi if you value your life say nothing until we get home”
It was fifteen minutes later that they pulled in. Arnav opened the door for her.
“OP did Khushi ask you for the scootie?”
“No i did not ask OP for the scootie and why are you shouting at me?”
Nani thought to herself not again -now what had those two found now to fight about -she had better get them married quick and they would be able to work out most of their arguments in bed. The old lady sniggered to herself. Her husband had taught her well poor Arnav he really hadn’t realised what was happening -I think four weeks should be long enough for those two not to kill each other.
“nani ji she was driving again and almost killed herself by trying to get my car to drive over the scootie.”
Bitia are you ok ?”
“No nani look at me I’m bleeding”
“OP get the first aid box for Khushi Bitia, tell me what happened?”
“I was driving along minding my own business when he starts honking me incessantly”
“I wanted her to stop -you know she is lethal on anything that has wheels -I’m not getting married to her in stitches or plaster or whilst she is in prison since she doesn’t have a license”
“it’s Ok Aman would have come and bailed me out!”
“Yes you and your precious Aman”
“At least he does’t shout at me and helps me out “
“Then maybe you should have spent the afternoon with him and not me -and then see how precious your Aman would have been!”
Both individuals stared at each other and thought about the afternoon -there was no way Arnav was going to let Aman ever get that close to his girl; there was no way she would even let Aman contemplate doing the things that he had done to her that afternoon.
They both stared at each other , anger spent only concern left.
“is that it have you two got it out of your system then listen to me , both of you firstly Khushi he is only concerned about you look at the number of scratches you have on yourself and what if it had been you and not the scootie hit by the Arnav’s car.”
A shudder went down Arnav’s back.
“Khushi bitia you have to admit that you and moving vehicles have a bad relationship as far back as I can remember-So Chote you are going to buy Khushi a car and hire a driver for her -ok both of you and you will both get married in four weeks”
“Ok nani ji “ was the simultaneous reply
“What no argument no resistant “
Arnav was the first to speak “well you could make it two weeks?’
“No nani ji couldn’t -I have sort out my lengha and all my outfits-i want a proper wedding with all the bits -not your type of wedding where you wear a black suit and a white shirt and have a court wedding “
“What’s wrong with a black suit and white shirt ?”
“I want my groom to arrive on a horse and be wearing a sherwani! “
“I am not wearing a sherwani and am definitely not coming on a horse-it would probably be trained by you to throw me half way here !”
“Both of you -go and discuss your wedding choices by the poolside ,i’ll send a tea and coffee-but listen clearly both of you -you are both getting married in four weeks and Arnav it’s not going to be a court wedding and you won’t be wearing a suit – now that you have given me a headache with your constant arguing today go and don’t give me a heart attack before your wedding”
Devyani was very happy with the outcome of her plan -finally those two had accepted they loved each other god only knows what kind of married life they would have but it certainly wouldn’t be boring.

 

 

Six month marriage but partners for life

It had been five years -their marriage contract hand come to an end -six months had finished and Shyam Jha was out of Anjali’s life- forever. She would rebuild her life with a lot of help and support from her family.
Why was Khushi still around -six months? that’s what he had stated – she had tried to be their for him but she had felt the pain and hostility from Di. This was Di’s home and as long as Di was not happy Arnav wouldn’t be happy and as long as Arnav wasn’t happy -how could she ever be happy – there was only one way forward she had to make the decision- she had to cut ties with the whole family. She had to leave for them to heal. He had told her six months and never altered that contract-for Arnav a deal was always a deal.
Khushi made one of her hardest heartbreaking decisions -she would leave -disappear for the sake of everyone concerned, it was better for her heart to break than to slowly see those around her suffer.Once she left Di, would get better quickly and Arnav would be happy. The entire family , nani ji , mani ji, Akash juju, jiji they would all be happy . Was her happiness more important than six other people. She was the daily reminder of what Shyam had done to their families.
Khushi packed her bags with the things that she had entered Raizad mansion with and left. She left behind all traces of Khushi Riazada ,the only two pieces of jewellery she took that Arnav had give her -was her wedding band and her mangle sutra. Every other piece she left behind.

A short note to Arnav to say their six months contract was at an end ,she had left as she had entered with nothing extra -he would find all the jewellery and clothes in her cupboard.
He could tell the family she felt she needed a break from everything that reminded her os Shyan Jha.

With that Khushi disappeared from all their lives , she wiped out all evidence of herself. She left no trace of herself.

Khushi had left a trail across Dehli of crisscross between buses and trains and then nothing the trail was dead.
x——————————————————————————————————————————x

Six years had come and gone. They said time healed old wounds but for Khushi and Arnav the wounds were still raw. The only difference time had made was acceptance.
Arnav had understood a longtime ago that Khushi had left him; he was to blame .Arnav had decided to come clean about his marriage to Khushi, with his family ,finishing off with the fact he really loved her and the six month contract had slipped from his mind -forgotten -as it was inconsequential . He felt after his kidnapping she understood the depth of his feeling -but it was evident that she had not. Arnav had told both families the truth -he didn’t want Khushi name being sullied anymore than she already had been. The responsibility for this mess lay firmly at his door and no one else’s.

Anger turned to grief and finally acceptance as everyone realised that there was no finding Khushi.
Arnav knew that life carried on and Khushi’s case was still open with the private investigator that he had hired to track her down.

The family knew that Khushi was alive because of the gifts that arrived for the family, a letter always came with the gifts, addressed to Payal telling them that she was doing fine. It was always general what she been up to what she had eaten there was detail but no detail.Not enough to locate her. The parcel was usually delivered by a random auto rickshaw to deliver it.
Arnav would ask Payal for the letters to re read them over and over again.

 

Khushi had managed her life by herself, for the last six years. She was no longer the happy-go-lucky care free person she had once been. The trials that she had, had to endure over the last six years while she established herself and re-invented herself had slowly been wearing away at her.
Now she was here parked outside Raizada Mansion contemplating entry.
Six years were a long time to be off their radar now she was back, she needed help. She needed Arnav’s help and money. She had nowhere to turn to, no one to ask. All her avenues were exhausted. Would he help her ? He would scream at her, she would have to deal with his temper , he would be angry , he might try to strike up a deal but if she asked for help he would give it,of that much she was certain.

She didn’t know how to even begin, ring him ? ask at the gate to be let in ? Walk up the drive through security . The heat in the car was stifling she had opened a window as she sat there lost in her world of thoughts.She had had the courage to come here she might as well get it over and done with. Her palms were sweating and it wasn’t anything to do with the heat of the day. She was not sure herself if it was fear or nervousness. She was fast running out of time ,she had been there an hour now.
The phone rang “ Khushi Bitia they are waiting on confirmation, they are running out of time – are you having problems raising the money?”
“No uncle ji the money will be transferred as soon as i can arrange it ,it will take a little time , I am here now -please tell them to go ahead- tell them Mr Raizada will be arranging the transfer.”
“Bitia please speak to the lady yourself.”
“Hello …I understand what hospital policy is ….the money will be transferred as soon as physically possible ….the guarantor …will be Mr Arnav Singh Raizada of AR designs and Business enterprises……..What do you mean anyone could say that … “
Defeated Khushi said “I will be there in an hour with the money”

She dialled Arnav’s number from her cell.
“hello ASR’s phone can I take a message ?”
“Aman “….Khushi ’s voice was barely audible
“I’m sorry, you have me at a disadvantage, you recognise me but I am sorry I can’t say the same for you”
“ARS is …is …he available or in a meeting …if so how long will be -this is urgent”
“Well he is in a meeting and will be un contactable for at least a couple of hours. May I know who is calling and I will certainly ask him to call you you back at his earliest convenience”
“Aman ….I need his help now not in a couple of hours …it might be too late “
“Maybe I can help you ?”
“Aman I need to transfer twenty lakhs cash now -can you authorise it?”
“Not without ASR’s permission”
“Aman ….this is Khushi…hello ….hello…are you there ? …hello?”
Aman had dropped he phone in shock and then had to recover quickly .
“Err hello Bhabhi -don’t go anywhere . I am just going to sort out your call -first what is your number? Secondly where do you need the money and if you text over the bank details I will get the money transfer organised”
Aman took Khushi ’s number and dialled it through his phone.
“Aman are you calling me ?”
“yes i’m making sure I have taken the number correctly do you have the bank details ?’
“Aman I will get them and ring you back shortly “
“Please don’t hang up put me on hold while you …”
“Aman I need the money , I will call back”
Staff that saw him thought he had gone mad as he ran at full speed racing up a flight of stairs to get to the conference rooms.
Knocking and entering “Sorry to interrupt but this is an absolute emergency please can you come with me sir”
Arnav was about to interrupt “Sir it’s a family emergency”
That was all the warning Arnav needed. Everyone knew the man of ice, the master of negotiation was completely malleable when it came to his family.
They had seen their employer reduced to all fours when his niece and nephew visited and decided that he was their method of transport.
“Aman what’s wrong ?”
“Sir your office first!”
The tone in Aman’s voice was enough to warn Arnav not to ask any further questions till they had reached the privacy of their office.
As soon as the door was shut -“start talking Aman”
‘Sit down and let me begin “
I just received a call… and his phone rang again “hello… yes …let me get a pen …”
“Aman cut the line “
“Sir this is the call I was talking about ..”
Aman took the details “I will sort this out in the next fifteen minutes can you meet me in the next half hour at the Hyatt ?”
“Ok you name the place I will meet you there …the time the place just name it bhabhi…”
Aman heard the quick intake of breath by Arnav.
Aman had only ever called one individual Bhabhi -Khushi….surely not after all this time …out of the blue.
Arnav hung on every word that Aman was saying not interrupting.
“Bhabhi , I can’t transfer this kind of money without your signature the money will go into a holding account so that the people will know it’s there but without your signature or ASR signature,I can’t release it. I’ll bring the documents to you for signing just name the place”
Initially Arnav had been confused about Aman’s statement but then understood , he was not letting Khushi go without a meeting face to face.
Arnav didn’t realise that he had been holding his breath till he saw Aman scribble an address down on a piece of paper -
“Bhahbi I ‘ll be there with the documents in half an hour…..I will tell Arnav as soon as possible…Bhabi …where are you know ? where have you been ….and why now ?”
“Ok no questions ….I’ll bring the documents over …..You want to talk to Arnav first …..OK “
“Explain Aman now “
Aman explained about the original call to his phone and the call for the money.
“Money ?”
“I need to transfer twenty lakhs to this sort code with this reference -Arnav its a hospital they are waiting on it for emergency surgery -what ever we do we need to transfer the money. Bhabhi would not ask unless it was urgent ….”
“This is all hers anyway transfer whatever she needs and give me the address I’ll go and meet her”
“Arnav – we have been friends a long time and I know how you have suffered over the years without her …control your temper …what ever the reason then and now she will have an explanation ….you need to hear it without exploding.”
“You’re a true and loyal friend – I will listen…get the private investigators onto her, I want her followed 24/7 incase she decides to run …..and don’t let anyone else know that Khushi is back. There is no need to break even more hearts if it is her intention to disappear “
“Arnav ….listen to her …not just her words …..just like you read the business opposition you read everything about them …read her body language ….good luck “
x——————————————————————————————————————————x

Arnav arrived not knowing what to expect, He didn’t know so he said his name to start with -“Hell ,excuse me , I’m Mr Raizada ..I’m ..here to…”
“Oh I know, I just told some one ,he is in surgery now and the family has been allocated to a waiting are on the fourth floor.
“Thankyou”
Arnav pushed the button for the fourth floor the elevators shut taking him upwards -his mind was being pounded from every direction possible. Khushi was back -just like that someone needed a transplant that was evident from the money and surroundings -his name was recognised so she must have left a message for him. Who was being operated on -who would come to mean so much to her that she would come back to him, unannounced -knowing he would never refuse her. Arnav felt the pang of jealousy -a man , her lover ? She had come to him to save her lover!. Then Arnav took a deep breath and let it out slowly Aman had said think it through with a cool mind-no anger. She was his Khushi -she was still married to him even after all these years. She would be faithful to him to the end that much he knew -so this man had to be a friend some one who meant the world to her or a pure stranger -Khushi was like that . She would lay down her life for a perfect stranger. That much he could vouch for. So this man was being operated on meant something to her but he would not be her lover -of that much he was certain.
Arnav stepped out of the elevator and looked for the waiting room.
He saw her her head in an old man’s lap. He stroked her hair soothingly while tears trickled down her face. Her eyes were shut but the tears were evident. She looked tired and dare he say it haggard and older.
His heart contracted with love -all the pain,fear and anger he had felt for being abandoned all those years ago left him -the only thing he knew was that he stilled loved her. Whatever the reason for her needing him he didn’t care -she was back and it was up to him to convince her the only right decision that existed was for her to stay for them to re start their lives as one. Husband and wife.

“Khushi”
Khushi eyes flew opened and she stared at Arnav.
What did she really expect ,for her existence to go on untouched by him. She knew that that he would want answers. He was owed answers. He deserved to know what was going on in there.
“Baba – this is Arnav “
“Hello son , do you want me to stay Khushi, or should I get myself some tea and a bite to eat, call me if you need me or if there are any changes, I will be in the canteen he is going to be in there for a few hours. I only ask one thing son … see this mess through her eyes ….she had very little choice then ….and now. But I say god moves in mysterious ways -a new lease of life is being bestowed on my child and I think ..NO Khushi let me say it …i think this could be his way of allowing new beginnings for all of you”
“Khushi its been a long time -five years three months and four days”
“You’ve been counting ?”
“Every second without you ..”
“I had to leave then”
“What about now ?”
“That depends?”
“On what or who ? Arnav pointed to the doors that stated no entry , authorised personal only”
“On you Arnav ….I left you…about five years ago..”
“five years three months and four days”
“Do you always have to be so precise ..”
“As I was saying I left you -our contract ended ..”
“Damn you, Khushi ! you know that the contract meant nothing after everything we had been through”
“Arnav, Di needed time…everybody needed time to deal with Shyam and his duplicity. Di needed time to forgive and heal without me staring in her face-a constant reminder of what might have been ”
“Point taken but you could have called …it took you -five years three months and four days to call and that too when you needed money….money that was always yours ….still is today”
“I thought I ‘d call you in a few months but then things changed ….and the longer I left it ,the harder it got and then things changed ….and then things, they really changed. It really got complicated that…that i couldn’t come back. I couldn’t make things worse for you.”
“How did things get complicated?”
Khushi stood up and was walking to and fro. Fidgeting . She twisted the corner of her dupatta.
“Oh Khushi don’t tell me you were pregnant!”
Arnav saw her eyes widen and her pupils dilated , oh my god , he had just said that in jest …because of the absurdity of the idea …it couldn’t be true …for the last four and a half years he had a child one whom existence he had never known of.
Arnav voice was hoarse with emotion ,his throat felt dry ,his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth
“Khushi ….do …we…have …a.child?”
All Khushi could do was nod as more tears flowed as she looked towards the doors that said no admittance.
“is he or she in there ?”
All Khushi could do was nod…she saw all the emotions fly through his eyes , disbelief , sorrow and finally anger.Those eyes had almost turned black with anger his fist struck the table making Khushi jump in fear. She watched him clench his fists and turn round and walk out …leaving Khushi standing alone.
What had she really expected ? Happy family reunion ?forgiveness?would he ever understand why she had left and why she couldn’t return ? If she had had the kind of money needed for the operation she would have come after the operation. But what now -she didn’t have enough she had saved a substantial amount but the continual ongoing cost of keeping her son alive had eaten into her savings especially the last hospitalisation.
Opportunity arose she had to give her son the chance irrespective of personal cost to either of them.
Khushi felt the floodgates of emotion on top of what she was already coping with she felt as though she was going to explode
She called her Baba “please come “
An elderley man stood up and waited for the elevator as the doors opened he entered.
“Leaving already -son?”
Arnav looked at the elderly man and nodded.
“have you heard her whole story ? or only the part you ant to hear ? Do you not want to know what she has done for the last five years and how she has coped with evey thing that fate has thrown at her. I have to go to her she needs me -but it should be you holding her hand ….why don’t you come back with me”
“I need some fresh air “
“She needs you -not me -she always has and always will.Things happen ,let her explain”
“Things happen -five years she carried my child and gave birth to it -I don’t know if it is a boy or girl and now he or she is in surgery for what ? “
“Why don’t we ask her together? Take a piece of advice fro an old man – you will have plenty of time to think and for accusations and recriminations and the preverbial what if, what you won’t have time for is the now -lets go up together and try and make head and tail of what is going on”
The elevator reached the ground floor and the doors opened…
“I believe that this is you stop?”
“No mine is on the fourth floor-i believe that my wife is waiting and my kid….”
The elderly man pressed the button to shut the door with a faint smile on his lips.
Arnav re entered the waiting room “You came back” Khushi launched herself at him and held him close. Arnav couldn’t help himself his arms came up and held her close as if nothing could harm her. He smelt her hair like he had a thousand times in his dreams and now she was really here. She wasn’t a hallucination she was real.
“Khushi tell him about Arav”
“Do I have a son or daughter ?”
“Son”
“Name ?”
“Arav Shashi Singh Raizada “
“Nice name”
“I thought you would like it ?”
“Why didn’t you tell me ?”
“Di already hated me ….and then I was having a baby …..a happiness that by all rights should have been hers …initially she blamed me for all that Shyam fiasco. In time that seed might have taken root again I had to give her time before coming back”
“What about me Khushi ? in all of this grand master plan of yours ,what about me?”
“Our son was born and it wasn’t easy ….babuji helped me ..alot in those days …I didn’t have time to think …I had a child who was constantly sick in and out of hospitals …”
“Why didn’t you call me Khushi whats all this money worth if I can’t use it to help those i love”
Khushi looked up at Arnav “You still love me ?”
“I have always loved you , I am currently furious as hell but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love you”
“How could I give you a moments fleeting happiness and tell you that you have a child and then take it away from you …Arav had a heart condition only a transplant would take care of it -drugs would prolong his life but not for long. Do you know how hard it is for you to see you child grow weaker by the day. As time progresses you notice more and more he is not quite as big as the other kids born in his year. He can’t run as fast .then he can’t run at all. He doesn’t keep up with the other kids -every time he goes into hospital the fear grows is this the last time ? will I bring him home for another day? Each time I brought him home ,I felt god had granted me a reprieve. How could I put you through that. I decided that after Arav was better we would come and meet you.
He had a very bad infection a few months back and I thought that was it -it cost a lot of my savings..”
“Khushi you have all the Raizada money at your finger tips at anytime you could have use it”
“I know how you work the minute i operated my bank account your detectives would have been on me-wouldn’t they ?”
Arnav smiled for the first time and nodded.
“A transplant opportunity came up and here we was are “
“I understand your mad warped brain thinking pattern -I don’t agree with it -but I understand it-how long do we have to wait “
“Four to six hours”
“Some child lost their life so that mine could have a chance , Khushi do we know where the heart came from ?”
Khushi shook her head. “ devi maya will be upset with me -my heart leapt for joy when I heard that there was a possibility of a heart for Arav . I was happy that a child somewhere had died so that mine could live “
“No Khushi you didn’t think that you were just happy that our child had chance. Our child do you have any pictures ?”
Khushi sat there showing a whole array of pictures and listening to the stories of Arav and his shenanigans -his birthday’s.
“I’m so sorry you missed out -“
“I missed a few but i will be there for next one and every one thereafter.”
“will ……will he …will he be around for …for “
“Khushi he hasn’t met his father yet …he will wake up to meet me and the rest of his family , his cousins aunts and uncles and his Bua who will love him more than any of the other kids. You know I’m her favourite papad ka tukha”
Arnav had felt the years of loneliness of the last five years vanish. She had her reasons for disappearing then . If he wanted a chance with her he had to let the past go and be in the past. He had to create a future for them , one that she was so secure she would never run again.
‘Khushi promise me you will never leave me again no matter how justified you feel- you will always tell me if you get this mad running bug again”
“I promise “
“I want you to come home with Arav and all of us be a family again. We have a lot of things to work out and in time we will ,come home Khushi”
“We will ,but what about everyone else – ?”
“No one will say a word and it’s more your house and Arav’s than anyone else’s …they have all missed you …including Di”
‘Look the doctors…Mr Raizada I apologise for the delay in the procedure I didn’t realise the connection ..but the procedure was a success….the rest of it is in god’s hand “
Khushi spoke first “he was always in god’s hand and still is. It was god’s hand that guided yours during surgery and now he will watch over my son”
“When can we see him?”
“He is in ICU you can see him there but he will be heavily sedated for a few days.”
The doctor just watched the couple hold each other as they cried.
After all Mr Raizada maybe an important business man but at the end of the day he was just a father and a husband . It was as simple as that -he was only a father and a husband -nothing else mattered not the past , not their mistakes only them and and their son.

 

The latest chapter in the series

The Morning After the Night Before

Chapter 22

Arnav sat in his office playing with a piece of paper and a pen. How many times had he started crossed out, screwed up the piece of paper and thrown it across the room.
Aman walked in and looked around the disaster site which in the morning had been ASR’s office now looked as though a paper fight had ensued in his absence.

“ASR have the boys been around without Khushi Ji “ as he looked around the room.
“No Aman this is all my own handy work! For once it’s not the boys but I have to say that I have created an impressive mess all by myself!”

“ Designer’s Block ?”
“Far worse – its our seventh wedding anniversary coming up and I am at a loss as to what to get Khushi. I thought I might design a special outfit -but I design a lot of clothes for her so that won’t be special. She has more jewellery than I can even remember and she doesn’t wear most of it.
She has got everything -shoes bags perfumes , she has visited most places in the last seven years”

“ASR may i suggest that you are going about this all wrong -you are trying to give her what everybody thinks should be given on a wedding anniversary. What you need to do is give something she would never expect as a present from anyone let alone you.”

“That’s the most perfect idea -now leave me I need to think !”
“Actually I came in fro a job …..I’ll come back later”
“No Aman it might actually distract me”

Khushu sat on her bed staring down at the envelope, chewing her nails. She had already downed a tubful of ice-cream and was n her second box.That envelope had seemed to grow disproportionally since it’s arrival. Initially she had hidden at the bottom of her draw thinking she would deal with after Arnav had left and the kids had gone to school. The kids ! what was the time , they would be back soon -demanding expecting and generally causing mayhem as only boys can do. She had about fifteen minutes before they came tumbling through the doors creating their own style of havoc. Khushi quickly put away her letter to deal with the impending chaos commonly known in RM as Raizada one ,two and three. Ayaan, AAshish and Akhil.
There door flung open and three boys came tumbling in laughing Aashish and Akhil were carrying Ayaan into the house by his arms and legs.
Khushi covered her eyes with both her hands and peeped through her fingers splaying them one at a time. She had already had had a stressful morning and now this -her boys were on form.
“Mohan Ji -what ?”
He fully understood what Khushi ji meant -these boys were loveable rogues -they got into mischief on a daily basis and were daily taken to task for it by their mum. If Arnav Bhaiya ever got involved in the discipline process there would only be two reasons -one the boys had crossed some unwritten line in the rule book which allowed them to be naughty up to a certain level after which he took over and that was not nice. The only other time was was when one of the boys said something to bring tears to Khushi Ji eyes . That was a horrible week he had never known a week like that.
Gone was Arnav the father and ASR had appeared and he had launched into those boys as if they were fully grown adults.

He had no concern for who was there or who was watching, their boys had the audacity to think they could speak to their mother like that and behave in a manner, that brought tears to her eyes.
He had not allowed anyone that right, not her father nor him, since she had become his wife . No one but no one was allowed to upset Khushi or say a wrong word against her. And here were her children playing up. They got the message loud and clear no one hurt Khushi not even them. They were lucky that they were standing there -had it been anyone else Arnav explained in no uncertain terms to them that he would have ripped them apart limb from limb leaving no evidence of the crime. It was his job and there’s to keep there mad mother safe, from all things that might hurt her or make her sad. That was a lesson that they would carry into adulthood and long after. No one messed with Khushi Raizada not even dad. That day a mutual pact was made between the four boys -naughtiness allowed ,to an extent ,teasing mischief allowed -but the first one of them or anyone else to cause tears in their mums eyes would pay a huge price ,even their dad. No one was excused from that rule.

“There was a minor disagreement at school and Ayaan to the other persons side, not Akhil’s hence he has to be punished-something about a promise that they made and Ayaan has broken it.”

“Boy’s put Aayan down wash your hands change your clothes and come and eat and we will discuss the breaking of another Raizada law of which I have no knowledge and then we will find a suitable punishment which does not involve the dislocation of arms from their shoulders and me spending the rest of the afternoon in the emergency ward.”

“Mom we were carrying him properly! we were not going to dedocate.. sisdocate….lateosis…remove his arms from his shoulder. I would have tied him proper mom if I had had a big stick and some rope, like they do when the hang up an animal from a big stick. Mom can you really remove someones arm as from their shoulders if you carry them like that ?”
“Yes you can and the word is DISLOCATE”
“I’ll remember that for the next time”
“Akhil please don’t -you get into the most trouble out of the three you really don’t need any advice from me -it come to you naturally”
Akhil grinned up at his mom “Come here “
Khushi bent down to her son’s level and received a big kiss -“Dad say’s i get 70 % of my genes from you thats why I get into so much trouble -he says it shadows me like it does you. I told him That I must have got 100% of my genes from you, as I keep getting into trouble with everyone…….Dad said that was not possible …I had to have got some genes from him….I told him I like to be the top at everything so 100 % must have have come from you. ……. soooo….if you are thinking of punishing me remember your only punishing yourself since i am 100% you!”
Khushi looked at him in disbelief at the logical argument, well as logical as an argument that you can get from a six year old.
“Akhil the way you have just put forward your argument stems from your fathers logic so you have to be carrying some of his genes! Go and change so that I can find out what you boys have been up to before I get a call from the principle or an irate parent complaint about the lack of manners and what kind of wild animals am i raising !”

As they all sat down to lunch Akhil gave his version of events – “Aayan took the girls side after I took the ball from her. I asked her nicely to give our ball back and she said only if she could play football with us. I said no and took the ball.”
“No mum , he snatched the ball and pushed her over. I took the ball back from Akhil and gave it back to Rhea.I also let Rhea play with us -tow of us against Ashish and Akhil.”
“Who won ?”
Akhil replied in a sullen voice “They did but mom its the family rule raizada’z against everybody we never split up we always support each”
“Akhil -not if you were being mean to Rhea -you pushed her and almost made her cry”
“She’s a girl -she doesn’t count!”
“Mum’s a girl and dad said he would tear us from limb to limb and bury us alive if we ever made her cry!
“Ayaan that’s meant to be a secret between the men of the family -dad said mum was not supposed to find out!”
“in this case Akhil ,Ayaan is right- you shouldn’t push anyone let alone girls”
“Well I said that she could play with us tomorrow because she doesn’t play like a girl and she can kick like a boy she like you mum!”
“I’ll take my compliments where i find them -you think I’m like a boy !”
She smiled she had to tell Arnav she had officially been designated as an honorary boy -how did he feel about that.
Ashish joined the conversation -“she not like mum, mum’s pretty and smells like mum! Rhea smells like a girl!”
Khushi replied “I think that’s a compliment you boys had better stop while I’m ahead.
The rest of the afternoon passed in a flurry of activity till six o’clock when Arnav arrived home.
Khushi loved watching him and the kids. Around them he became one. Before he would play with the boys he had a rule tea or coffee with mum and then he was theirs to command.

It was finally that Khushi spoke to Arnav later that night after everyone had gone to bed.

“Do you know that I have been given honorary status of being a boy and not smelling like a girl”
Arnav laughed “I’m dammed glad that your not a boy and don’t smell like a girl -you smell like my Khushi”
You know that we will have been married seven years next week “
“I know”
“If i ask you for some things will you do it for me?”
Arnav was perplexed “What’s going on in your bran Khushi? Not something stupid?”
“err no , well at least I don’t think so!”
“So what do you want me to do?”
“Not have a party this year -please -just let it be us! Lets send the kids over to Dad and Payal ans Akash. Is it really bad that I don’t want to share the day with any body except you?”
“Khushi shall I translate what you have just asked ? No its perfect that you want to spend the day with means I would love it. I always do but what you’re really asking me to do is take the flack from all the family when I tell them that we are going away for one of our weekends. You also want me to bribe the boys into behaving so that we can go away without to much headache…….you know they will have a list of demands that I am going to have to comply with”
“ Mav it’s such a good job that you are an excellant negotiater. You have to watch out for Akhil -the way he seys his arguments out is actually quite clever”
“So if I do all this what are you going to give me ?….. oh…..mmm….I wasn’t expecting a return so soon …..mmm ….that’s so… Khushi ….stop….no don’t stop!…just slow down ….or I’ll be done before ….yyyyyyou …..have begun …..Slowly ……what the ….hell….jjjjust …..carrrry ..on”
“Shut up Mr Raizada and enjoy”
Khushi thought to herself about the letter that still lay unopened in her draw -that letter might lead to a barren period for both of them. She would look at it tomorrow.

 

Rise of the Phoenix (chapter 11)

Khushi had kept Arnav on his feet he had lost focus , she had kept his attention for the whole show and now the after party -she had to keep his focus -to lose it now would jeopardise the whole plan.

Phoenix changed and reappeared this time not in her signature colours but a mellow coffee coloured gown -this would definitely hold his interest – a few hours more.

Mac-Duggal-Gorgeous-Wedding-DressesSatin-Elegant-Gowns-7

 

 

 

 

Phoenix reappeared in the after party stunning as per usual breathtakingly beautiful.Arnav sensed her before he saw her and when he saw her his heart stopped.

She should definitely carry a hazardous to health warning. Whatever she was up to she was going to do some serious damage to his heart. He had crawled out of the quagmire of emotions the last time he had tangled with her, and here he was jumping in again feet first.

He knew she was trouble -T_R_O_U_B_L_E  in a big  way. But like a moth to a flame he couldn’t resist her.

“Stunning may I say -as per usual “

“It’s a phoenix original”

“there’s nothing original about Phoenix “

“then why are you looking?”

“I’m searching …..searching …somewhere under all this facade my Khushi might just be present even a fraction of her is worth more than the Phoenix”

Khushi took a long shaky intake of breath “You killed your Khushi a long time ago , you threw her away when she served no more purpose to you-but if you hard enough you will see that khushi died and Phoenix was born”

“wrong what I can see if a lot of My Khushi a bit battered and bruised still holding it together -the scars are there if you closely enough -what did they do to you Khushi “

“like you don’t know -Arnav how does it feel that your family and my father are totally and completely responsible for creating the instrument of their destruction.”

“Do you really think you can destroy the Gupta and ASR business single handily? If so you are a stronger women than Phoenix you have to be my Khushi”

“I might not be able to destroy you but you know what it will certainly hurt you and I will have my pound of flesh”

“Khushi -so much anger, so much hate, still ? Let it go! It was a long time age – Me and Di, I ….never found you…..I looked……Khushi…..where did you disappear to all those years ago and where have you been all this time ….What are you trying to do now?”

“Be more than your equal, be better than either you or my father – teach you both the  true value of breaking my dreams”

“Phoenix ….my Khushi….was always more than my equal…..”

Before Arnav could elaborate on his statement Khushi interrupted him “Your Khushi died a long time ago!”

A song started to play in the background ‘teri meri’- Arnav stared hard into her eyes trying to pierce through her armour, find a chink and the suddenly of their own violation his arms moved and grabbed her gently pulling her towards him unflinchingly she moved. His touch burned her soft warm caressing hand on her back , he spun and dipped her , hie gaze unrelenting. She ran her hands down his back ,grabbing his shudders for support -they were both transported to a more magical time. He had danced and caressed her in front of everyone. They had looked as they adjust made out on the dance floor -their chemistry was sizzling , her eyes had been full of laughter then. 

The rapturous applause brought them both back from the past to the present, he had her held above his head and as he slowly released her , she felt every part of his body before her feet were allowed to touch the ground.

Arnav stared and slowly lowered his head to place a soft warm butterfly kiss on her lips. Just the merest taste of him left as a souvenir.

Arnav whispered into her ears as wolf whistles were heard in amongst the echoing applause- “Phoenix’s kisses may be for sale -but those lips were only ever mine-never to be sold or shared”  

Khushi’s eye’s grew , startled or shock and for a moment there she had lost focus and she whispered back to him “then why did you sell me ? why did you never come for me and ….”

Then her mask was replaced -a temporary set back. Khushi couldn’t allow her self to feel or remember him it was too painful, there was a sliver of truth in what Preeto and NK had said – she might not survive the fallout.

Mask back in place -she smiled her fake smile “Oh so far as the kiss go who kissed me ? Arnav Malik or Arnav Singh Raizada.I ‘m not the only one who re invented himself. I believe that, that is Karan over there -shall we?”

“Khushi, Arnav kissed you, “ In that moment , Arnav laid himself bare. He had always been a risk taker, nothing ventured and nothing gained. From the moment he had danced and their lips had caressed each other -he knew that his Khushi was still there ,buried under a multitude of scars, that she had papered over. The only way to survive that pain from all those years ago was to bury those memories deep within the recesses of your mind and find a new focus. He had done that and been exceptionally successful at that. But now Khushi was here and just like that, she had turned the key and opened Pandora’s box. She had released a multitude of memories and emotions. He was older now ,more experienced ,better equipped to deal with those memories which seemed to be from a life time ago. Now he could sieve through the moments separating fact from fiction. He could begin analysing what had really happened all those years ago. Now he was in a position to deal with the fall out. He could begin his journey into the past . Now he was in a position to deal with it both emotionally and financially. Now, if need be he was in a position to reek retribution and ask for justice for Arnav and Khushi. An innocent sixteen  and eighteen year old who had been torn apart and separated by two twisted and warring individuals.  There only agenda was money and what money begets -power. The balance of power they had tried to control was no longer in their grasp. The tighter that Shashi Gupta had tried to hold onto it ,the quicker it seemed that Khushi was intent on ripping it away.  She had tarred him with the same brush as both their father’s – all he could do now was prove himself to her -sieve through the memories and paste together what really happened and then ,maybe even forgive. With forgiveness comes a time of healing. Acceptance ? they had all accepted the facts along time ago. No they had accepted the facts as they had been presented to them by two power hungry crazed individuals.He needed time to unravel the truth, the facts and separate them from memories that may have been distorted then maybe with a generous hand of fate they could begin again. Maybe …….maybe …….just maybe Arnav and Khushi might get a second chance at happiness. Whatever her plan he had to sow the seed of doubt in her mind and let it grow-then maybe she might not be that intent on destroying him and together they could salvage themselves from the past and look not the future. Finally after a long time Arnav started to let hope take root in his heart. The strong protective shell that he had built around himself had begun to come undone.

“Khushi ask yourself this -you reinvented yourself as Phoenix why did I have to reinvent my self as Arnav Singh Raizada- if i was as guilty as you seem to believe then I should still be carrying the name Malik. Khushi this is neither Arnav Malik or Arnav Raizada talking , this is your Arnav talking.

Shall we go and meet another one of your conquests – your self confessed slave.”

Khushi looked away from Arnav blnking away the sheer film of tears that had glazed her eyes. He could still pull her heart strings -he could command her every move like a puppeteer -she had to be vey careful around him still after all this time. She had to get away from him before she totally fell apart, there was only one thing that had kept her sane all these years -she needed answers, an explanation as to why her angel had to leave her, and justice for her daughter. In that instant the thaw that threatened to melt her heart stopped. She was here for a reason , a purpose and she was the weak link. 

Khushi smiled a smile that Arnav knew she meant business. For a split second he though he had got through to her. Well with time …he might get through.

“Karan”

“Wow Phoenix, ASR what you guys produced on stage was awesome but that dance that we all just witnessed -that was of the richter scale. You guys just tripped the light fantastic. And Phoenix this dress -not your usual colours? But still you have outdone yourself “

Phoenix smiled at Karan “Watch the headlines tomorrow, your lengha will be in the news but this is the dress design and colour that will be in the headliner and being copied to find itself on every shelf within the next twenty-four hours.”

“That’s Di , she is signalling us to come over”

Preeto and Anjali were watching, they had seen the dance, the looks and now both sets of  eyes were growing saucer shaped.

Arnav was steering Phoenix across the crowded room. It was not the way he guided her but it was in the way he guided her through a throng of people. One arm around her waist pulling her into him protectively whilst the other was in front of her preventing anyone from bumping into her or touching her accidentally.

Preeto knew instantly that the two people in front of had history. It was in the way she handled herself in front of him.

“That meeting -maybe yo and me should have one first and then let me see how quickly I can arrange a meeting between you and the Phoenix. 

 

 

 

 


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