Hey Guys, Thank you so much for your overwhelming comments. I am glad you all like my story. HopeI won't disappoint you in this part as well.
"Tumne pehle kyu nahi bataya hum Khandala ja rahe hai and why Khandala by the way" asked a confused Riddhima as still remember an incident when all their friends were planning a road trip to the same place and how Armaan chickened out giving a lame reason and Rahul unintentionally blurted out "Armaan still hadn't overcome that incident" but suddenly diverted the topic and dropped the plan and decided to chill at Armaan's place.
She was sure there was more to the story but didn't probe Armaan as she thought if there is something consequential then he will tell her in his own time. But now this sudden trip to Khandala was really confusing her. He looked at her with a very different emotion in his eyes which she couldn't understand at all. She didn't probe further when he didn't reply.
Soon they were entering a very beautiful farm house which was slightly secluded from all others. Finally they got off the car and Riddhima was left mesmerized to see the scene infront of her. It has to be the best place she had ever seen on earth. Ahuge garden was surrounding the concrete house from all the sides with colorful flowers spread all over the garden. There was a small fountain in the centre of the garden with a swing next to it. The smell of the place was so exotic that she felt she could spend her entire life there.
She excitedly turned towards Armaan but stopped short to see tears in his eyes. Riddhima was shocked beyond wits to see her Armaan in such a state. She immediately went and hugged him without saying anything. She didn't know what exactly has happened so as to make him cry but she knew he needed her right now. He didn't have words to express his gratitude towards her so he hugged her back tightly and hid his face in the curve of her neck. She could feel him sobbing softly and was really worried for him.
After some time, when he was feeling better, he parted and looked at her. She gave him a small smile and without asking anything said "lets go inside". Armaan was touched by her gesture to not probe him when she felt he needs time. She almost dragged him inside and was again left spellbound to see such a beautiful house. It was nothing big or luxurious. It was an average size house but the simplicity with which it was decorated and maintained was what Riddhima liked the most.
Suddenly she stopped when she felt a tug at her hand and turned to see Armaan looking at her with so much love in his eyes. He came closer and kissed her forehead saying "you are the most amazing woman I have ever known. I LOVE YOU" Riddhima was surprised as well as touched hearing the words. It's not that she hadn't heard these words from him before but the sincerity and spontaneity with which he said it now touched her. "I LOVE YOU TOO ARMAAN" she replied smilingly.
"This house belongs to my mom dad" she was literally shocked to hear that from him. She knew how much he loved his parents and how much emotional he gets on the mere mention of them. Suddenly everything fell in place, the way he looked at her when she asked him about this sudden trip to Khandala, his aloof behavior ever since then and finally the way he broke down a couple of minutes ago. She understood how difficult it would be for him and held his hand tightly to give him some strength. He smiled at her gesture and continued "this was their vacation house. They used to come here whenever they felt that they had got too busy in the day to day life and were not able give each other the time thatthey should. They used to come here and spend 2-3 days, away from everything and everyone. They called it Paradise. I haven't been here ever since their dea....". He choked on his word and couldn't continue further.
Riddhima understood what he must be going through and hugged him. He hugged her back but didn't cry this time as he remembered the promise he had made with himself to never cry in his parent's memories but remember them with a smile. She wanted to ask him why had he brought her here but knew it's not the right now. Whereas Armaan answered her question the next moment "I wanted to bring you here since this is going to our PARADISE too now".
She suddenly moved back and looked at him with a blank expression as the meaning of his words dawned upon her. He smiled and kneeled down infront of her. Pulling out a ring he said "Would you mind changing your last name to Mallik from Gupta?" She laughed out aloud at his way of proposing. Instead of asking her directly to marry him, he is coming up with cheesy lines like this. "Hmmmmm.....not that I don't like my current last name but the offer is too lucrative to pass. A handsome hunk like you with just a change in my last name. I think I wouldn't mind the change then".
Armaan was surprised with her quick come back but didn't stretch the conversation further. He laughed and slipped the ring in her finger and kissed her hand. She blushed and looked down. He got up from his kneeling position and lifted her face with his finger under her chin. He came forward and softly kissed on her lips to seal their commitment. It was nothing passionate but a soft kiss full of promises. "I love you to be Mrs. Riddhima Armaan Mallik" he whispered against her lips before parting. She was so over whelmed on hearing this that she hugged him without uttering a word. And Armaan needed no words, her gesture said it all.
He was planning to propose to her since quite sometime now but wanted to make it special for both of them. And finally this idea struck him last night "what better place to propose to her than Paradise" and here they are now.
"Armaan lets go. We have claimed the baggage" Rahul shook at him to bring him out of his lost state. Armaan came out of the flashback of the most beautiful day of his life. But it pained him big time when he realized that Riddhima has agreed to marry someone else. He still carries the ring in his pocket after she had left it at his place along with the letter. With a thumping heart, he moved towards the exit gate to get some answers from the woman he has loved with all his heart.
He was confused whether to hold it all against her or to understand her situation and the kind of mental state she would be in to take such a step. He wanted to hate her. He tried to hate her when he saw the ring. He tried to hate her when he learnt about her departure. He tried, he really did. But everytime he tried, her beautiful face, her twinkling eyes, her childish smile, everything, just everything flashed infront of his eyes and he couldn't help falling in love with her all over again.
"Anjali is coming to pick us up. I didn't tell her anything about you and she thinks I am coming here alone so as to help her and her family for Riddhima's wed....." Muskaan left it at that and couldn't bring herself to complete her sentence looking at Armaan's expression. He closed his eyes to compose himself as he knew it's not the right time and asked "Does she know about Riddhima's adoption??" "I don't know but hope she does. I mean she was 7 when Riddhima was adopted, old enough to understand the happenings of the surroundings but what if she doesn't??" Muskaan looked at him with a troubled expression to find the same on his face. "I think we need to find that out first before telling Anjali everything" interjected Rahul looking at their expressions.
<i>"MUSKI MASIIII" Prachi ran to Muskaan and jumped on her as soon as she spotted her among the passengers coming out of the arrival terminal. Muskaan hugged her tightly and planted kisses all over her face. Prachi giggled and gave back the same amount of kisses to her. Riddhima, Muskaan and Prachi were always a team in all their pranks and mischief. Whenever Anjali visited Delhi or Riddhima or Muskaan visited Bangalore, all three of them used to have a blast together. Riddhima and Muskaan always becomes a child themselves with Prachi.
"I missed you sooooo much. Why didn't you come to see me before?" asked Prachi. "I am sorry baby, was just busy with a lot of work but now that I am here, we will enjoy a lot and will play a lot of pranks of everybody. What say partner??" Muskaan and Prachi giggled and hi5ed each other. But soon the happiness from Prachi's face shrunk and she said "You know Ridzy massi is also here but she doesn't play with me anymore. Bas apne room mein chup chap baithi rehti hain aur maine unhe rote hue bhi dekha hai."
Armaan's heart beat grew fast as soon as he heard Riddhima's name but after hearing the rest, his heart pained like never before. One thing that he can't see is "tears" in his princess's eyes. All he wanted to do right now is to run to Riddhima and take her in his arms to release all her pain and suffering but alas it would have to wait. He needs to know how much Anjali knows before he spills the beans infront of her. Initially when Muskaan suggested that he should tell everything to Anjali as only she can help them, he was very apprehensive since he has never spoken to her before. He had heard of her and their bond through Riddhima but never had interacted with any of her family members. But then when he realized that there is no other way to get back Riddhima, he reconciled with the idea to tell Anjali everything.
All this Anjali was standing and observing Muskaan's and Prachi's interaction and the other two unknown men who seem to have accompanied Muskaan. But what caught her attention were the expressions on one of the guys face (Armaan's face) when Prachi mentioned Riddhima's name. Anjali's sharp mind started working overtime but she knew she would have to wait to get her answers.
So she spoke aloud "if you guys are done with your reunion then I am also here and if I am not wrong there is some introduction that is still to be done" "OOPS!!! Sorry di, how are you? How's Atul jij? Everything good?" Muskaan said while hugging Anjali. She smiled and hugged her back "Atleast you remembered me. I thought you have forgotten me after shifting to Mumbai. I have seriously started doubting that there is definitely something's wrong with the air of Mumbai. Pehle Ridz aur ab tu. Anyways I am glad you are here. Only you can handle your friend since she has sworn not to listen to me. Pata nahi kya ho gaya hai use." Anjali said everything about Riddhima deliberately to see what she is thinking is right or not. And she patted herself mentally after seeing Armaan's expressions.
"Anyways chod ye sab. Ghar jake aaram se discuss karenge is bare mein. But I think the introduction is still impending" "Oh!!!! I am sorry. Guys, this Anjali di, Riddhima's elder sister and her beautiful daughter Prachi and Di, this is Rahul and Armaan. We all work together for Armaan at Creative Advertising" Muskaan introduced all of them. "Nice to meet you both. Are you guys here for some business trip or for Riddhima's wedding?" Anjali poked further. Rahul answered first before Armaan could even react "Nice to meet you too. And we are here for some personal work. Muskaan was flying today so thought we all would travel together" Anjali smiled at Rahul and Armaan turned towards Muskaan. "Now would mind making a move ya yahi rehne ka irada hai".
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Edited by chahat_j - 17 August 2010 at 3:06am