Prachi hid behind Shweta pointedly
ignoring Vicky's naughty grins. He hadn't said anything to her reminding her of
the night before…..atleast not yet. But knowing Vicky, it won't be for much
longer. Both their families had met for afternoon tea and Vicky had keptt
giving her wicked smirks and laughing
with Milind and she was sure that she
would die of embarassment if he kept up with it. She jumped when he cleared his
throat standing behind her. She whirled around, her eyes flashing warningly and
cringed seeing her husband standing behind Vicky with a matching grin.
"So, Prachi bhabhi, how's your
husband behaving now? Is he still being heartless and not kissing you
properly?", he drawled naughtily and Prachi turned a bright red seeing Shweta
shot them an amused look and quickly turn away. She gritted her teeth hearing
Milind's soft laughter and before she could respond, Vicky bent closer.
"My brother has got the "Cat that
got the whole pot of cream" look on his face today. Would you happen to know
the reason behind his blissful look? Anything to do with last night?" he winked
at her and yelped in pain when she stepped on his toes ever so discreetly.
"It's got everything to do with last night, my
dear brother-in-law. But you won't be hearing any more details. So, shoooooooo
off", she said softly and tossed her head arrogantly ignoring his chuckle. She
blushed when a laughing Milind pulled her closer.
"Have mercy, bro. Stop bothering my poor wife.
And do as she said. Just shoooooo off", Milind winked at him and they both
Shweta called her just then and
finding the perfect excuse, she slipped away from them. The rest of the
afternoon was pleasant enough with easy bantering and laughs and Vicky left no
stone unturned and drove her crazy with his subtle teasing. Her angry glares
did nothing to stop him and she was seething when Milind too joined him. She
was glad when Shweta kept taking her side and silencing her naughty boys. She
was having a great time and was sorry when the afternoon came to an end. The men were going back to the office, Shweta
and Shreya were meeting a few friends leaving Prachi free for the evening.
Left all alone, she was sitting in the garden
and was surprised when her phone rang.
Smiling to see who the caller was, she picked up quickly. "Are you not done
with your teasing? Do you want to continue it over the phone as well?" she
demanded in mock anger.
Vicky laughed, "Now, Now, my dear
bhabhi. No more teasing. I actually called you to make up for my behaviour. I
am let off for the evening, but Milind is still busy with Uncle. So, I was
wondering if you wanted to go out this evening. How does a stroll by the river and
loads of icecream sound?" he asked her.
Prachi smiled brightly, "If this
is how you will make up every time, then I wouldn't mind your teasing, Vicky.
Where shall I meet you?" she asked, glad that she wouldn't have to spend the
evening on her own after all.
"I am on my perfect gentlemanly
behaviour now, Prachi. So, I will pick you up from home. My brother will skin
me alive if I did otherwise", he said dramatically and Prachi laughed.
And true to his words, he did
make up brilliantly. Prachi did more than strolling along the river and licking
icecreams to her heart's content. She did souveneir shopping for her friends in
India and Vicky indulged her thoroughly. When Milind joined them for dinner at
one of the riverside restaurants, the evening couldn't have been more perfect
for her. She slept on the way home and was half drowsy on her feet when Milind walked
her to their room and tucked her into bed that night.
Inder cut the call with irritation
evident in his face. "I can't believe how irresponsible your daughter has
become, Premlatha. Its been days since she spoke to us. Now, she has even
switched off her mobile. God knows what she is doing and how she is", he said
angrily and sat down.
Premlatha smiled, "So, she becomes MY daughter
whenever she is irresponsible, right. My daughter is too busy in her married
life that she can't keep phoning her parents all the time. Inder, she would
have been busy. Call her at home later. Atleast you can speak to her in-laws",
Inder glared at her, "Don't you
worry about her at all, Premlatha. What sort of a mother are you?" he said
Premlatha sighed, "I am a mother who knows
that her daughter is way too happy in her sasural, that her husband and in-laws
adore her, that she is well looked after, that she has become very responsible
and matured. That is enough for me, Inder. You will never understand that", she
Inder snorted, "Women! How can a
mere man understand them? All I want to do is hear her voice, know that she is
alright. Is that too much to ask for, Premlatha?", he said heavily.
"Uncle is right, Ma. I miss her
too. How can she be that busy? Has she too joined Milind in his heavy
partying?", said Neev sarcastically and sat down next to Inder.
Premlatha glared at him, "Neev, Milind is ghar
ka damad hai. I will not tolerate any sarcastic remarks about him. Is that
clear?" she said sternly.
Stunned at the rebuke, Neev looked
at her speechless. "Oh, so your so called damad has become more important to
you than me. Of course, who am I to you? I am sorry that I even said his name",
he said angrily and walked to his room. "Neev, beta, tum bhi na", sighing,
Premlatha followed him to pacify him. A brooding Inder picked up the phone again
and called the Mishra house.
The evening breeze was still
warm and Milind hummed to himself as he walked. It had been a brilliant idea to
spend the weekend at their chalet in the woods. It was a quaint looking wooden
building of two floors and Prachi fell love with the swinging chair in the
balcony and was ecstatic that it reminded her so much of the bamboo house in
Ooty. When his mother suggested a weekend getaway for him and Prachi, he was
surprised but very pleased when Prachi was adamant that his parents should join
them too. She insisted on having a family getaway and when his parents gave in,
he knew that they were equally pleased. And here they were in the woodland where
Milind had spent numerous summers and had many fond memories. It had always
felt like a different world to him with nothing but trees and sound of the
birds and a flowing stream for company. It was always a relief from their fast
paced London life. Even their farm house in the country bustled with servants
and phone calls always reminding them that their usual life was just an arm's
length away. But here, no servants, no phonecalls but solitude and peace and
Milind had always treasured it. They had reached there only that morning but
had spent a pleasant day. He had gone fishing with his dad and when they
attempted to cook it on an open fire, Prachi had wrinkled her nose complaining
of the smell making them laugh heartily. Dinner was simple and in the kitchen. Leaving Prachi with his parents he had gone
for walk on his own.
He loved that time of the evening, the
moonlight streaming through the trees, the almost still night silent around him.
He was lost in thoughts, his mother's words kept coming back to him. He knew
that a talk between them was imminent and when Shweta called him to pick her up
at her office the day before, he knew that she would bring it up. As expected
his mother was concerned about reasons behind Prachi's drinking. Milind knew
that his busy work life was not lettting them spend enough time with eachother of
late and he had listened quietly when his mother advised him to learn to
balance work and home. Shweta had wondered if trying to settle into their life
was putting pressure on Prachi and she was trying to cope in her own way. He
was even more shocked when his mother mentioned the spanish model whom he had
dated briefly. He was surprised that Prachi hadn't said anything to him about meeting
her. But then his mother had heard about it from her friends. Only earlier that
day, Anand had told him about the comments in the magazine regarding Prachi and
that actress was going to issue an appology in the next week's issue. He knew that his Dad had made sure that she
appologised but it had bothered him that Prachi hadn't as much as mentioned it
to him. He sighed and closed his eyes. Are these adding pressure on her. He had wanted to talk to her after returning
home last night but Shweta had suggested the weekend getaway over dinner and
they got carried away with planning it. Prachi had been so excited that he
didn't have the heart to bring all that up. He stopped walked and raked his
fingers threw his hair. The air was turning slightly chilly and realising that
it was getting late, he started to walk back.
The house was quiet when he got
back and he quietly walked up the stairs. Surprised to not find Prachi in the
bedroom, he walked to the balcony and went still. Ears plugged to her ipod,
eyes closed, she was swinging in the chair. Face scrubbed clean, hair let open
and well cut black silk pyjamas moulded arounded her body, she looked cute and
sexy. He stood watching her, his heart clenched with fierce emotions. Feeling
his gaze on her her, she opened her eyes and looked at him. Seeing his
unwavering gaze, she gave a shy smile and pulled her ear phones off. She
watched him in surprise when he walked slowly towards her and kneeled down in
front of her. She went still when he buried his face in her lap and slowly her
hand rose to caress his head. His hands closed around her legs, caressing them
softly and he remained silent. Prachi's fingers threaded through his curls.
"Milind" she called softly. He looked up, his eyes dark and scuritnising.
"I don't like it when you hide
things from me, Prachi", he said suddenly.
Her mind on full alert, Prachi
stared at him, "What did I hide from you?", she asked nervously.
He held her hands in his and
kissed them softly. "Why didn't you tell me about that spanish girl you met at
the club, Prachi?" he asked softly. When she didn't answer, he cupped her face,
"You didn't even tell me about the comments in that magazine about you. Has it
become so hard for you to tell me anything? Why, Prachi?", he asked again.
Worried at the troubled look in
his eyes, Prachi clutched his hands, "I wanted to tell you, Milind but you were
so busy lately and I didn't want to bother you with trivial things", she said
her eyes pleading him to understand. The time was never right. She should have
known that he would hear it from someone else.
drew her closer to him. "Nothing is trivial to me when it concerns you,
sweetheart. I want you to tell me if there is anything or anyone that you are
not comfortable with. I want to know if you don't like something. Nothing is
trivial between us, darling. It bothers me so much that all these had been
bothering you and I knew nothing about them. I know I haven't been spending
enough time with you. So, lets make use of every second we spend together,
Prachi", he said huskily.
nodded and rested her head on his shoulder. Milind tucked her hair behind her
ear, "I am sorry that you had to meet that girl in the club. She was not a very
nice person and it took me a while to realise it. She didn't take it very well
when I broke up with her", he said softly.
Prachi sighed, "I gathered as
much. She does have a poisonous tongue", she complained.
Milind kissed her head, "You
must wonder what sort of a man you have married, right, Prachi?. I pluck you
out of the safe cocoon of your parent's house and thrust you into all
this…….jealousy, vicious tongues and nastiness. People pass sarcastic comments
about you and I didn't even know it. I won't blame you if you even hate me for
this. But do you, Prachi?", his voice was very low, almost like a whisper.
Shocked, Prachi's eyes searched
his desperately, "Do you really think that I am capable of hating you for
anything, Milind?", she asked softly and cupped his face. He touched his
forehead against hers and sighed.
"I don't kow what sort of a world I left
behind for you, Milind. All I know is that my world revolves around you. I
should have told you about all that before. But I think I was trying to handle
it all by myself,… be brave. Dad does know about that magazine article though. And
about your ex-date, she might as well be non-existent for me. I just blocked
her out. I am not comfortable to talk you about any women in your past, Milind.
I am so very posessive about you that I don't want to think about anyone else
with you, past or not. And don't you dare think that I would hate you for
anything", she said almost vehemently.
Milind hugged her closer, "Oh,
my love", he whispered against her ears. "You will get an appology in the same
magazine next week, Prachi. Dad has made sure of it", he said and Prachi
"See, what complaints can I
have when I have such a loving and caring family, Milind? Soon, I will be as
good as Mom. I would handle any nastiness and vicious tongues and give back as
good as I get. I am learning", she said almost proudly and Milind chuckled and
hugged her tighter.
He sat against the cushions
comfortably and pulled her on his lap. "Life will get even more busy once we
get back to India, Prachi. There will be days when I will have to stay away
from you. But I don't want that to come between us. I can handle physical
distance, Prachi but mentally and emotionally, I am even more dependent on you
than you realise", he said huskily.
Prachi kissed his lips, "And I
am on you, Milind. You can never be away from me, my darling husband….mentally
or physically. I won't let you", she said and buried her head in his chest. He
was surprised when she moved back suddenly and hit him, "Hey, you liar, you
promised that you wouldn't go away and now you are saying that you will have to
stay away from me for days", she complained.
Milind laughed, "I would never lie to you,
Cherry. I said I won't go away now but may have to do so later on", he
explained. He smiled at her forlorn face, "Now tell me who told you that I was
going to go away again?" he asked, smoothing away the tendrils.
Prachi looked at him from
under her lashes, "Sally", she said softly.
Milind frowned but smiled
immediately, "Of course, she would know, wouldn't see? And she was right too",
he said and put his hands up as Prachi glared at him again. "I didn't lie
either, darling. I would go again to Paris but take you with me as well", he
said and brushed his nose against hers.
Prachi gave a squeal of delight,
her eyes brightening, "Really?" she asked and beamed when he nodded. "Will you
take me to Eiffel tower?" she asked eagerly and Milind laughed.
"Yes, I will and you can take as many photos
as you want and then show it to your friends", he teased but a dreamy looking
Prachi ignored him. Holding her close, he kissed her head. "I am going to tell
Sally off for upsetting you", he said softly.
Prachi's fingers traced patterns on his shirt,
"I thought that you liked Sally too much to scold her", she said softly,
looking at him from the corner of her eyes.
Milind smiled and nuzzled her
neck, "May be but I don't like her that much when she upsets my darling wife",
he whispered and Prachi's smile widened.
She hugged him and whispered, "Do you know how
much I love you?" she asked huskily.
Milind grinned, "I don't know baby. Why don't
you show me?" he asked, his eyes gleaming meaningfully and his hand moved under
her top, caressing her soft skin and moving higher.
Prachi gasped struggling to
hold his hand still. "Stop it, Milind. Mom and Dad are just downstairs. What if
they hear us?", she hissed.
Hands growing bolder, Milind
bit her lips, "So what? They would be too busy to bother about us" he said.
Prachi tried to push him away, "Chiiiiii,
besharam. Behave Milind or else I will scream for Mom", she threatened softly.
She gasped as Milind pulled her head back and she stared into his smouldering
"Oh yes, Prachi. You will scream, baby. I will
make sure of that. But it will be my name on your lips……..over and over again",
his husky voice sent shivers down her spine. She closed her eyes giving up to
his demanding mouth.
Prachi sighed, the warmth of the
afternoon sun pleasant. They had been having a great time and Prachi felt even
more close to her in-laws. After a relaxed morning, a picnic and a game of
badminton, the men had offered to cook dinner. Shweta was busy setting up the
hammocks for herself and Prachi vowing to enjoy the relaxed time when the two
men toiled in the kitchen. Prachi filled two glasses of chilled juice, her mind
wandering to the night before and her cheeks coloured delicately. Her husband
had been true to his words and she had only screamed his name over and over
again as he pushed her to the brink of ecstasy. Oh god, he is so insatiable! She thought to herself and blushed
"Why do I have a feeling that I
know exactly what my wife is thinking now?", she jumped hearing the familiar
drawl near her ear. She blushed more when he grinned and traced her cheeks,
"Was I any good, Prachi?", he drawled again and winked meaningfully.
Gasping at his question and
worried that her mother-in-law might hear them, she pinched him sharply to shut
Milind yelped and rubbed his
chest, "God, Prachi. That hurts" he whined and brushed her hand away when she
reached to touch it. "Now kiss and make it better", he demanded.
Quickly checking that Shweta wasn't watching
them, she moved closer and blushed even more when Milind pointed to his chest.
She bit her lip shyly as she undid a button and placed a soft kiss. Before his
arms closed around her, she ducked and ran away.
Milind watched her with a wide
smile, "Later, Cherry. You will have nowhere to run", he promised to himself
and walked back into the kitchen.
Dinner was excellent and the
father and son duo was way too proud of themselves. They lit a fire as the air
turned chilly and sat around it talking pleasantly, with Milind strumming his guitar softly.
Prachi looked at her family, her heart constricting with happiness. They were
travelling back to London first thing in the morning and back to their busy
world. It was a much needed break for them and Prachi was glad that she
insisted on it. She laughed when Anand turned on the music and asked her to
dance with him. She laughed merrily dancing with her father-in-law. Later when
Shweta and Anand danced, she watched them leaning close to her husband.
"They make a beautiful couple,
Milind and they are so much in love", she sighed.
Milind put his arm around her,
"Yes, Prachi. They are perfect for each other", he said, his eyes soft as he
watched his parents.
Her finger traced his arm, "Will
you love me just as much 25 years down the lane?" she asked softly.
Milind grinned naughtily, "At that
time, I will have a 20 something draped over my arm, honey. We will have to go
with the trend. What say?" he drawled.
Prachi's eyes gleamed in
challenge, "Oh, I better look for a toyboy then, just to keep up with the
trend", she said cheekily and gasped when Milind's hand tightened in her hair
almost painfully and pulled her head back.
"To hell with the trend, Prachi. I will be the
only man you will ever need and ever have in your life", he said hoarsely and
Milind was cleaning the dishes
with his mother and Prachi had gone for a walk with Anand. They were remising
over the day when Anand's private phone rang. Frowning, Milind picked it up and
was surprised to hear Inder's voice. "Hello Uncle, how are you? Sorry, Prachi has
gone for a walk with Dad. Here, Mom wants to speak to you", he said and gave it
Greeting him pleasantly and enquiring
after Premlatha, Shweta appolgised when Inder said that he had been trying to
call Prachi for two days. "I am sorry, Inderji, Prachi would have turned her
phone off. We are using only Anand's private number. Don't worry about your
daughter. She is very well and she is definitely not missing India. We are
keeping her way too busy, you see", she said.
voice hardened, "I can see how busy you are keeping my daughter, Shwetaji. The
poor child doesn't even have time to call her parents. But I am sure she is
missing us just as we are missing her", he said almost harshly.
Shweta frowned and there was a
lengthy silence between them. When she spoke, her voice was curt, "I will tell
Prachi that you called, Inderji. She will call you back as soon as she can.
Good night", she said and put the phone down.
Watching his mother intently,
Milind's eyes narrowed, "What is it Mom? Did he say something?" he asked, anger
lacing his tone.
Shaken out of her thoughts, Shweta gave a
small smile, "Nothing, Milind. I was just thinking about work", she brushed his
concern and walked out to the sit out area.
Frowning now, Milind followed her and put his
arm around her, "You only have to tell me, Mom. He didn't say anything to upset
you, did he?" he asked again.
Smiling, Shweta leaned against
her son, "You don't have to be that protective of me, Milind. You may be gown
up now but you are still my little boy", she patted his cheek as he grinned.
"Inderji was just concerned that he hasn't spoken to Prachi for a while. I will
just tell Prachi to call him as soon as she gets back" she said. Milind nodded,
though not completely satisfied.
They were talking pleasantly
when Anand returned with Prachi who was complaining about the windy night and
brushing off dirt from her clothes. When Shweta told Prachi that Inder had
called, she looked surprised and guilty.
"Oh god, I haven't called them for a few days,
Mom. I had been so busy that I completely forgot. First, let me take a shower
and then I will call them", she said and rushed up the stairs.
Wishing his parents a good
night, Milind walked to the balcony and stared into the night. Knowing Inder,
he couldn't shake the feeling that he could have said something to upset his
mother. Sighing, he gave up trying to figure it out. He walked into the bedroom
and smiled hearing the sound of the running shower. Its been a long time, he
said to himself and quickly undressing, he walked towards the bathroom.
Eyes closed, Prachi stood under the shower,
relishing the feel of the hot water on her skin. Her eyes opened in shock and
she gasped feeling him behind her. Feeling his eyes on her, she stood frozen
unable to cover herself. A shiver went through her when their bodies touched
and his hands traced down her arms and she moaned when they moved lower.
Milind's lips traced over her shoulder, his knowing hands, caressing her,
slowly and sensually. He turned her towards him, his arms enclosed her body in
his and his lips found hers. Prachi's mind lost all sense of reality and
returning her father's call became the farthest thought in her mind.
managed a smile, her slightly worried eyes silently watching Milind. The
evening was pleasantly warm and the food was delightful. Vicky had invited them
for dinner at his house as he was leaving for India in a few days. He and Micky
had been keeping the conversation really funny and Milind and Prachi too were
laughing silly. Unable to join in, Sally shifted in her chair agitatedly. She
had been wanting to speak to Milind all afternoon but he had been so busy at
the office after his weekend away that she never got a chance. Both Anand and
her father had been out of town and she had pondered over her doubts in her
mind to no vail. She thanked Prachi as she handed over a cup of coffee. They
have been very polite to eachother all evening, making small conversations.
Unable to wait anymore, Sally
touched Milind's arm, "Milind, I need to speak to you for a minute", she said
softly and got up.
Surprised, Milind quickly excused
himself from others and walked away from the group. Taken by surprise, Prachi's
eyes followed them as they walked towards the dimly lit garden fence.
Micky patted her shoulder, "Don't
look so worried, Prachi. I am sure your man is in good hands", he joked and
Prachi managed a smile. Giving her a quizzical look, Vicky pulled her back into
Milind stopped walking and looked
at a very quiet Sally, "What is it, Sal?", he asked.
Sally looked at him with confused
eyes, "It might be nothing, Milind. But I thought that you should know. I think
someone had been in my cabin……..going through my things. I can't put my finger
on it. But there are subtle signs. I think someone had tried to even log into
my computer", she said softly.
Milind stared in disbelief, "Are
you sure about this, Sal? But how is this possible? We have a very tight
security and constant surveillance. If someone had broken into your office,
then we have a breach. Why didn't you tell me before?", he asked angrily.
Sally touched his arm, "I know it
is impossible, Milind. And I hope I am mistaken. I have been thinking about it
all day and you were so busy that I couldn't talk to you about it", she said
Agitated now, Milind held her
shoulders, "Did you notice anything amiss? Any missing files at all?" he asked
Sally shook her head, "No, all
our project files are on my laptop and heavily protected too", she assured him.
Giving her a curt nod of approval, he barked
orders into the phone. Turning to her, he put his arm around her and squeezed
her shoulder reassuringly. "I am glad you told me, honey. It might be nothing
but I will get it throughly checked. What I am more concerned is that if it is
professional or personal? Did you notice anything different in your flat,
anything at all in the last few days?" he asked.
Sally shook her head, now looking
seriously worried. What if someone had broken into her flat as well? Oh no! she
closed her eyes in dread and leaned against him.
Milind shook her, "Listen, I am
not trying to scare you. But I want you to be careful. I will get your flat and
car checked first thing in the morning. If you suspect anything, anytime at
all, don't hesitate to call me. Make sure you turn the security alarm on when
you reach home. Or better still, why don't you stay here tonight? I don't like
the idea of you going back to your flat before I am sure it is safe", he said
Inspite of the sudden fear, Sally
smiled, "Just as protective as ever, aren't you? Thanks, Milind but I will go
back to my flat tonight" she said, eyes warming softly.
Milind smiled back, "Old habits die
hard", he said. He moved away from her as his phone rang. It was the security
chief assuring him that a thorough check was under way. He spoke quickly and
turned to her and frowned seeing her look at the treehouse in a distance.
"This place hasn't changed even a bit. Do you
still come here, Milind?" she asked suddenly, her voice distant.
Surprised to see the sudden
change of her mood, Milind smiled, "Not untill recently. I haven't been there
for a long time. My playmates have all grown up", he said softly.
Sally smirked, "No one to show
off your pretend muscles, I guess", she said cheekily.
Milind laughed, "Hey, My pretend muscles
turned real a long time ago", he said.
Sally turned to look at him, her
eyes holding his, "I know, Milind. I was a part of your growing up process,
remember", she said in a soft voice.
Milind slowly looked away, his
eyes staring into a distance. Memories of childhood and later hung heavily
Sally reached to touch his hand,
"Did you miss me, Milind?" she asked huskily.
Milind looked at her for several seconds, "You
didn't, Sal", he said way too softly and moved away quickly.
Sally closed her eyes as a sudden
surge of pain, almost like physical, swept through her.
Walking a few steps away from
her, Milind smiled, "Time to get back to the others. Prachi will be wondering
what's keeping us this long. Let's go, Sal", he said and when she joined him, he
walked back without a word.