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Joined: 09 April 2010
Chapter 79: Jumping to Conclusions
Her button nose flared red as her eyes narrowed, "What did you just say?"
His eyes lit up in panic realizing he had gone a little too far with his joking. Everything was going fine a few minutes ago when they were planning the pool party but the very mention of swimsuits seemed to have set her off. "N-n-nothing..." he stuttered as he started to back away. He was trying to be careful that he didn't slip and fall into the pool. The death glares he was receiving from her usually cheery eyes was frightening. He knew she would relish in seeing him fall and getting completely soaked.
"Aaahhh...I was only joking..." he yelled as he started to run. "You can't take a joke Meher? What happened to your sense of humor?"
"Sense of humor?" Meher replied. "You were making fun of me! Come back here!"
"Oh boy, she's going to pound me for sure if she catches me," Preet mumbled as he ran into the house through the sliding glass doors. He nearly ran into his sister but he spun around in time to avoid a collision.
Kulraj stared in awe and then started to mirthfully laugh at the antics that Preet had gotten himself into. "Serves you right. Go get him Meher!"
"What? Kul Di you don't know what were talking about...how could you switch sides? I'm family?" Preet exclaimed.
"And I know you very well...you must have said something to Meher," Kulraj replied. "Don't try to act cute with me." Preet's mouth dropped open while Meher and Kulraj exchanged high fives.
"That's not fair! You women...so fickle with your thinking," Preet shouted.
"What was that?" Kulraj and Meher both snapped.
""Uh-oh," Preet murmured.
"You think you can just get away with every little side remark? I have ears! I can hear," Meher replied.
"I know you have ears...why do they have to be so clean...could afford to be stuffed up a bit for a few days..." Preet replied softly
"Preet!" His eyes gleamed and he started to run as Meher gave chase again. "Oh, I'm going to get you!" Just as they ran into the foyer the front door open with Rishi, Prem, and Heer walking into the mayhem. "Prem Jiju tell Preet to apologize," Meher begged.
"PB, I didn't do anything. Bhabhi, why does she overreact at things?" Preet inquired.
"What did he do this time?" Prem asked as Meher stood at his side.
"He made fun of me saying I was going to go swimming in all my clothes because I'm afraid to wear a swimsuit," Meher replied pouting as she pointed her finger at Preet. "He said I was going to wrap myself up like a mummy."
Everyone turned their heads to Preet for an explanation. He shook his head profusely, "That's not true. That's not what I meant at all. We were planning a pool party and she started complaining about bikinis and swimsuits...saying why are they necessary...and I just said you can wear whatever you want...no one is forcing you to wear anything you don't want to. In fact, you could go swimming in your winter clothes if you want to...wear a scarf, sweater, jeans, and thick socks...but don't blame us if you sink to the bottom of the pool."
"See...see, he's making fun of me!" Meher wailed.
"You said that?" Heer asked looking at Preet with her eyebrows raised.
Preet nodded his head and then paused with a perplexed look, "Did I say something wrong?"
"Oh Preet," Heer sighed as she shook her head.
"Heer Didi, look at what I have to put up with," Meher said.
"Meher, he really didn't mean like that...don't over react," Heer replied.
"I'm not overreacting..." Meher huffed. "Didi you don't have to worry about anything...you could wear a bikini if you wanted to."
Heer's eyes widen at her suggestion. "Who said I was going to wear that?"
"You're not?" Prem mumbled underneath his breath causing Heer to cast a quick glare at him. He bit his lower lip and bowed his head.
"Don't worry too much Meher we girls will all go shopping together and pick out something for the pool party..." Kulraj interjected as she picked Rishi up into her arms. "Have fun at the park?"
"Yes, Mommy. I had lots of fun with Prem Mamu and Heer Mami," her son replied.
"That's very good but why do you have a tie around your head?" Kulraj inquired.
"Cause it cool," Rishi replied. "Prem Mamu tied it for me."
"I see," Kulraj said. She then continued with her comment towards the group, "And let me tell you one thing you boys don't seem to understand. When summer time rolls around and people start dressing skimpier...it's us who has to suffer. You can go throw your shirt off and it doesn't matter if you haven't shaved, have a beer belly, or whatever...no one judges you...no one says anything. You frolic around without a care in the world. We have to make ourselves look pretty, shave...worry about our arms, our thighs, our legs...have they gotten bigger since last year...do I have cellulite now? So, you better watch your mouth the next time you say something to us about swimsuits..." She then took the tie off from around Rishi's head and threw it back at Prem. "Come on Ladies, let's leave these Boys..."
Meher gave a miffed look and sauntered off while Heer gave a displeased stare and walked away following Kulraj's lead. "Sheesh...all I said was she could go swimming in full clothes if she wanted too. These girls...so sensitive," Preet grumbled.
"Preet, shut up," Prem replied with a huff.
"Wh-what did I do?" Preet asked in surprise at his brother's reaction.
"They're angry at me and I didn't even say anything," Prem answered. He then gave him a good glare before walking off muttering, "Now I have to go and apologize to Heer otherwise I'm going to be sleeping on the floor again."
Kulraj stepped into the kitchen surprise to see her mother along with Heer's parents, Veera, Harman, and Maya sitting around the kitchen table. Tanu was sleeping in her carrier, while Scotch was playing in her playpen. "Was there some grand meeting we didn't know about?
"The pictures for the wedding just came in," Harman explained. "Maya and I ran into the FedEx guy when were pulling into the drive way."
"Here you guys are looking at the pictures and didn't care to inform the newlyweds who just came home that their albums finally arrived?" Kulraj inquired.
"Heer beta, the pictures are here," Teji said with her head still bent down looking at the album.
"Um, thanks Mama," Heer replied with a slight chuck amused that her mother was so engrossed with them that she didn't even rise her head to look at her.
"They've been informed," Harman joked.
"Oh, I wanna see," Meher said and hunched between Veera and Maya. "Oh, Didi you look beautiful and Prem Jiju is so handsome."
"The album turned out really pretty," Veera replied. "It was worth it...I love the designs they used...so elegant. It's like an extremely high class book you could put on your coffee table."
"Put on the coffee table? This thing needs to be locked in a safe somewhere. I wouldn't want anyone drinking coffee let alone anything else when they look at this album," Maya said. "They need to wash their hands before they touch this."
"Well, the album they got is meant to be used that way...like the large books you would put on a coffee table," Veera explained. "But yeah can you imagine Rishi eating chocolate chips cookies and flipping through the pages of this thing?"
"What's that package there?" Meher asked as she picked it up.
"I don't know. I think maybe the DVD?" Harman answered.
"Oh, we should watch it," Balraaj said with a smile.
"He's just like Lalit," Gayatri laughed. "He always wants to watch a DVD or video."
"That's why they are best friends," Teji teased.
Heer picked up a few of the loose photos from the table and started going through them. She grinned when she felt Prem presence by her side. "Beautiful..." he remarked as they stared at a picture of Heer dressed in her bridal attire greeting guests.
"Thank you," Heer blushed.
"I was talking about the decorations. The tent looks amazing doesn't it?" Heer turned around and frowned at him.
"You really want to sleep on the floor tonight don't you? Don't think I've forgotten what happened earlier," Heer whispered.
"Okay. Maybe I do want to sleep on the floor tonight...I'll pull you down with me...and we can have a camping party like last time," Prem softly spoke back.
"Preemm..." Heer said in alarm as her eyes darted to the kitchen table hoping no one had heard what he had said. "Stop..."
Prem just grinned. "You wanna flip to the next photo?" he asked.
everyone was busily looking through the wedding photos, the house phone started
to ring. Kulraj put her stack of
pictures down and went to answer it.
"Hello Kiran? A meeting tonight? Really?
How late will it be?
Okay...okay...you take care and don't stress...I'll see you when you come
Heer's ears had automatically perked when Kulraj had said Kiran's name. Her mind flashed back to the park and the conversation she had overheard. Her heart sank as her stomach cringed uncomfortably. She knew why Kiran was calling and it was hard to hear Kulraj being lied to. She had to figure out some way to sneak off and find out what exactly was going on between Kiran and Hetal before it was too late.
"Kulraj, that was Kiran?" Gayatri inquired after seeing her daughter hang up the phone.
"Yes, he said there he had a last minute meeting with a client and won't be home for dinner," Kulraj answered.
"Oh, we should probably get started with dinner shouldn't we?" Teji inquired.
"Yes, let's clear these things and make sure they get put back in the right package," Gayatri advised. "Heer, we'll have to go through these another day and get these things organized. There are so many things...should we keep these in the study in the meantime? Heer?"
"Heer, Ma's asking you a question," Prem whispered nudging her.
"Huh? Oh, yes Ma...I think putting them in the study would be a good place for now," Heer replied breaking from her trance.
Heer placed several packets of photographs in an empty space in one of the bookshelves. She turned around to see Prem carrying a medium sized box into the room. Her eyebrows rose wondering what it was. "Forgot that we picked out the photo we wanted to frame?"
"Oh," Heer said as she walked over. "Did they open this already?"
"Nope not yet," Prem said as he placed the box on a chair and went into a desk drawer to search for scissors. He came back and opened the cardboard box and gently pulled the frame out. "Looks good doesn't it?" He asked as they inspected their wedding photo in the elegant wooden frame. He grinned remembering the day he had walked with Heer around the mandap. The smile on their faces was evidence enough of their excitement and love they had for each other. Heer looked at the photo and felt a sudden sadness that they were enjoying their wedding picture remembering the feelings and aspirations of starting their life together while another family member's marriage was possibly on the verge of breaking. "Something wrong Heer?"
"Uh?" she replied looking at Prem.
"I was asking you where we should hang this in our room," he explained.
"Oh, we'll probably have to rearrange some things and find a good place to hang it," Heer said.
"Are you okay? You seem a little distracted," Prem probed.
Heer bit her lower lip wondering if she should tell Prem what she had overheard. She didn't want Prem to overreact and rush into a decision he would later regret. She knew how much he cared for his elder sister and he would do anything to protect his family. But she didn't like keeping things from him either. They're relationship was built on trust and if she started hiding things from him then it would ruin whatever foundation they had set in place. Heer looked at him and said, "Prem...I---" Unfortunately, they were interrupted by Lalit who came into the office specifically looking for his son.
"Prem," Lalit said.
"Bauji, something wrong?" he inquired as he turned around. He had heard the grave tone in his father's voice.
"There is some work we need to do. I just got home and they called me. We have to go back to the hotel to handle this matter. Do you have the Morris files?" Lalit asked.
"Yes, they're in my laptop bag...upstairs in my room," Prem answered.
"Good...bring those...and bring the files for Harris as well...some paperwork got mixed up and we need to straighten it out before the clients see it," Lalit said.
"Jee, Bauji," Prem nodded and immediately left the study room with his father.
Heer looked on with worry wondering what she should do. Something urgent had come up at the hotel that needed to be fixed sending Prem away. She still needed to find a way to get out of dinner so she could go to the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel. But she couldn't just up and leave as the whole family would become suspicious. She sighed heavily trying to think of something and wondered if she should share her secret to anyone else in the family.
Heer entered the bedroom and saw Prem running around the room gathering up his files. His suit jacket was thrown haphazardly on the bed along with his belt and tie. "Heer where's my black blazer?" Prem inquired as he rushed over to the bathroom to wash his face.
"It's hanging in the closet," Heer replied.
"I can't find it," he shouted. Heer sighed and went into the closet looking for his blazer. She crinkled her nose when she couldn't find it. "It's not there...I told you."
"Wait, didn't we get that dry cleaned? It's probably in Ma's room...she went to go pick up the clothes today. But why do you want it? You have your suit..."
"Which I wore while we were playing in the park today with Rishi...I'm just throwing on some business casual clothes. I need the black blazer," Prem explained.
"I'll go get that for you," Heer said as she rushed out of the room. A few minutes later she had Prem's black blazer in her hands and was entering into their bedroom. She tried not to laugh as she saw Prem standing there with just his boxers and a pair of white socks on. His forehead was furrowed as he stared at the files in his hands. "Prem, what are you doing...Bauji is waiting for you."
"I know...I was picking up all the files and was double checking something."
"You can do that later at the office. Just bring all the files and you can sort it all out at the office. Hurry," Heer pushed. They both turned their heads when they heard Lalit yell that he would be waiting in the car. Prem placed the files on the table and got a pair of khakis and a clean white dress shirt from the closet. He threw them on and started to gather all his files and place them in his laptop bag. "Prem..."
"I know, I know Heer...I'm going as fast as I can..."
"Honey, what is it? I'm almost done," he snapped.
Heer walked over and grabbed his collar forcing him to turn around. She then pointed at his shirt moving her finger downwards. "You're going to go out the house like this?"
Prem grinned sheepishly as he realized in his haste he had misaligned his buttons and his shirt was buttoned incorrectly. "Oh..." Heer quietly but quickly re-buttoned his shirt for him. "Thanks Honey," Prem smiled and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "I don't know how long this is going to take. We may be back really late. Don't wait up." He then put on his black blazer and slung this laptop bag on his shoulder.
"Prem..." Heer said making him turn around. She held his wallet in her hands and gave a half grin. He walked back and took it from her slipping it into his pocket. "Make sure Bauji eats properly I know how the office guys love ordering junk food...make sure he lays off the sweets and stays away from the overly salty foods."
Prem frowned, "All you care about is Bauji and what he eats?"
Heer put her arms around his neck and grinned, "That's because I know you eat healthy...and you should because I want you around for a very, very, very long time." Prem smiled as she gave him a tender kiss. "Now, go..." Heer said patting his chest with her hand.
"Love you...I'll be back as soon as I can..." Prem said and ran out of the room.
Heer waved goodbye and then walked to the bed to clean up the clothes that had been tossed onto it. Her eyes widen when she saw a folder hidden underneath Prem's jacket. "Oh no he forgot this. I better go and give this to him," her eyes flexed as a thought came to her, "This will give me the perfect excuse to get out of the house."
Heer held the folder in her hands as she nervously entered the front lobby of the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel. She couldn't believe it when she arrived at the Juneja hotel and was informed that Prem and his father had gone to meet with someone staying at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel. She cautiously looked about wondering if she was going to run into Kiran and Hetal. Her eyes traveled to her left towards the lounge area to see if she recognized any of the patrons over there. She was pretty far away so she walked closer to get a better look. When she was about a couple feet away from the entrance her eyes flexed as she saw Hetal sitting near the window with Kiran. She bit her lower lip trying to decide what to do. She wanted to hear what was going on but she knew there was nowhere she could hide herself. So caught up in her thoughts she jerk back and jumped a little when she heard the familiar husky voice of her husband. "Hey, what are you doing here?"
"Uh, you left your file at home. The hotel told me you were here," Heer explained nervously. She tried turning herself away from the entrance and walked to her right so Prem's back would face the lounge and he wouldn't see Kiran.
"Thanks," Prem replied. "Bauji would have killed me. You're the best." Heer patted his back as he gave her hug.
"Don't stress too much I'm sure you guys will figure something out."
"Yea, hopefully we can straighten out this mess," Prem said. He then broke the hug and turned around facing the lounge. His eyes suddenly narrowed, "Kiran...who's that girl he's with? This was his business meeting?"
"Prem..." Heer called out in alarm. She quickly stood in front of him blocking his way. "Please, calm down."
"You knew? You saw? And you didn't tell me?" he exclaimed.
"Look at you...you're getting upset..." Heer defended.
"I think I have every right to be upset. Having a romantic dinner date here while he told everyone back home he had a business meeting?" Prem fumed.
"Wait, please Prem..." Heer said as she placed her hand on his chest. "I have to tell you something. I overhead them talking in the park. It was before you came." Prem stopped and looked at his wife ready for her to tell him what she had overheard.
"That's it I'm going to kill him," Prem said after she had finished. He then looked at her with great disappointment on his face. "Why didn't you tell me? You didn't think this was information that needed to be shared?"
"Because I know you were going to act like this."
"Gee, thanks. You know our relationship is supposed to be built on trust...and you hid this from me? Your own husband? What is this?" Prem questioned heatedly.
"Please, calm down. I wanted to tell you but we were with Rishi at the park and then later Bauji came and told you about the office issue...I didn't have time to say anything to you. I also wanted to find out for myself what exactly is going on. We don't know all the facts. And I don't want to see your sister hurt...I care for her a lot too...she's my family also...and if we aren't careful and don't handle this properly then in the end more people will get hurt. Please try to understand," Heer pleaded.
Prem angrily looked away from the lounge. "Then what are supposed to do? Let them continue to have their dinner together? He has two children Heer...two...he has responsibilities to them...when he walked around the mandap with my sister...she became his responsibility...it was his duty to keep her happy...this...what he is doing...it's like he's spitting on his vows."
"Prem where are you going?" Heer asked as she quickly followed him into the lounge. "You have the office work to do. What about Bauji?"
"This is my family we are talking about...this is more important," Prem retorted.
Everyone in the lounge turned their heads wondering what was going on as Prem stormed his way into the place with Heer following behind his heels telling him to calm down. "Please Prem..."
"I'm calm...can't you see that I'm calm?" Prem asked.
"No, you look pissed off," Heer replied.
"No, I'm calm!"
"Please don't cause a scene," Heer begged as she grabbed his arm just as he walked up to Kiran and Hetal's table.
Kiran's eyes bulged at seeing them and became speechless. Hetal stared in surprise at Prem and Heer wondering who they were. She could see that Prem was extremely upset while Heer looked worried. "You..." Prem snarled staring down at Kiran. "How could you do this to my sister? She loved you...Ma and Bauji took you into the house thought of you not just as a son-in-law but as their son...Harman, Preet, Veera, and I loved and respected you. You were supposed to take care of Kulraj Di and instead you're doing this? Lying to her? Cheating her?" Prem waved his hand towards Hetal's direction. "You're going to give up everything...two children for her? Did you once think about what you were doing? If there was a problem in the marriage why didn't you go seek consoling? Why didn't you talk to her? Why did you have to go and cheat on her and produce a child with this woman?"
Hetal's eyes grew wide at what Prem was saying. "Wait a minute..."
Prem ignored her and continue talking, "And I just can't believe..." moving his hand to his forehead and then swinging it down with frustration, "...that you actually lied straight faced to Bauji and Ma and told them that Scotch...I mean Juhi wasn't your kid. Everyone is taking care of your illegitimate child back home while you're just running around."
"I think there is some confusion here," Hetal said.
"Are you going to deny that you have a relationship with Kiran Jiju?" Heer questioned. "I heard you two speaking in the park. You said that Juhi was his blood..."
"Yes, she is his blood..."
"Then you admit you've been having an affair with Kiran Jiju?" Prem asked. Hetal shook her head profusely. "Why are you lying? Do you know what you're doing? You're destroying an entire family..."
"I'm her mother I think I would know who the father of my child is," Hetal heated replied. "And I'm not destroying any family."
"What are you saying that makes no sense," Prem snapped.
"She's my half sister," Kiran finally announced stunning Prem and Heer.
"Hi, Hetal Shroff..." Hetal said introducing herself. She then looked at her half brother and grimaced. "Took you long enough to say something."
"It was a little hard cause someone kept shouting," Kiran said casting a glance at Prem.
"Jiju I'm sorry...it's just...I overheard your phone conversation and you've been very secretively lately," Prem explained.
Kiran sighed, "I know...you're not at fault for this. I am hiding this secret...about my half sister and my mother."
"But didn't your parents die when you were eighteen?" Heer asked with confusion.
"They did. My biological father and my step-mother," Kiran replied. "My parents met when they were really young. My mother got pregnant during the first year of their marriage...and well, maybe it was the pregnancy...maybe it was the fact they were so young...but she decided one day that she didn't want anything to do me or my father. She just left when I was five and I haven't seen her since. And then one day she came back and wanted to talk to me. As much as I was angry at her for leaving...I went to meet her because I knew if I didn't I would one day regret it. I regretted because all she did was ask for money. Hetal had gotten herself pregnant and she needed money to pay for the hospital bills. It's not something I'm proud of...hiding these things from the family. But if all my mother wanted was my money I could only imagine what she would do if she got closer to Bauji and Ma. I couldn't let that happened. I was just as surprised to find out that baby Scotch...I mean Juhi was Hetal's daughter. That's why I agreed to meet her at the hotel to find out what she wanted and why she left her daughter at our house."
All eyes turned to Hetal causing her to swallow uncomfortably. "What my mother is doing has nothing to do with me. I know I was stupid to allow this to happen but I thought the father loved me but I guess he didn't since he disappeared after I told him about our child. My mother wanted me to abort the baby but I couldn't do that. I guess even though the father had run away I couldn't get rid of the last memory he gave me. So, I decided to have the baby...I thought I could be strong enough to take care of it on my own...but then the reality of the situation struck me...the hospital visits...I got sick...more hospital visits...the bills just kept coming. There was no way we could afford it...my mother works as a secretary...I took a leave from college to have Juhi so I don't have a job. I just thought with everything going on...a grandmother who never wanted her granddaughter...a father who disappeared wanting nothing to do with his daughter...I had to let Juhi go to some place that could take care of her. That's why I left her on the Juenja doorsteps." Prem, Heer, and Kiran remained silent as they took everything that Hetal was saying in. "I'm really sorry if I caused any trouble. I really didn't know what to do. I know I could have given the child up for adoption but I just thought even thought I know Kiran Bhaiya doesn't want anything to do with us...I thought leaving Juhi there at the Juneja house was still the best thing because at least she was with family. That's the honest truth."
"Who's the father Hetal?" Kiran probed.
"Ajay Sherma...funny thing is he actually lives in that same neighborhood," Hetal snorted.
"Ajay Sherma? Akash and Nalini Sherma's son?" Kiran questioned.
"Oh My..." Heer uttered recalling the conversation in the park and how Madhuri Sherma, Ajay's grandmother was advising her and Prem to adopt baby Scotch.
"You guys know them?" Hetal inquired.
"Yes, we do. Ajay's grandmother helps babysits the kids in the neighborhood," Kiran explained.
"Oh, that's nice...would have been nice if her grandson had gain some of that compassion," Hetal said with bitterness. She then sighed. "Look, I'm really sorry for causing trouble but I really didn't know what else to do."
Kiran exhaled and shook his head. "You sure have gotten yourself in a mess. But you can't just give the baby away like that. I think its best you put it up for adoption."
"Jiju..." Prem whispered. He knew he had no right to take a stand on what was going on because it was a matter between Kiran and his family. However, he felt a sense of sadness that an innocent baby was just going to be let go like that because Kiran didn't want to deal with his family.
"We'll adopt Juhi," Heer suddenly announced. Prem turned his head and looked at her stunned by her announcement. "Prem and I will adopt Juhi."
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