A party was in full swing at Tambaroora.The homestead was ablaze with lights nbrightly coloured chinese lanterns glowed in the gardens.Laughter n the happy voices of young people joined the loud music that spilled out across the dark paddocks where sheep quitely grazed.
Armaan Mallik was going away,setting out to travel the world, and his family n friends were sending him off in style.
'Have u seen Riddhima?' niki asked him as he topped up her wine glass.
'i am sure i have,'armaan replied'she was here a minute ago.'niki replied 'i have been looking for her everywhere'' "i will keep an eye out.If i see her i will let her know that you are looking for her."
But by the time he had completed a circuit of the big living room the verandas,Armaan still had not seen riddhima and he felt uneasy.Surely she would not leave the party with out saying goodbye.She was,in many ways,his best friend.
He went to the front steps n looked out across the garden,saw a couple suspiciuosly like hi sister Muskaan and Rahul kissing,but there was still no sign of riddhima.
She wasn't in the kitchen either.Armaan searched for her.His brother Sid came in to grab another bottle from the fridge.
'Seen riddhima?'armaan asked.
Sid shook his head and hurried away to his latest female conquest.
a movement outside on the back veranda caught his attention .It was dark out there n he saw a slim figure in a pale dress,leaning against the railing ,staring out in the dark night.
She jumped at the sound of his voice.
"i have been looking for u everywhere,are u okay?"
"i had a headache."she spoke in a shaky voice"so i came outside for a bit of fresh air."
"has it helped?"
"yes thanks i feel much better."
armaan moved beside her and rested his arms on the railing, looking out,as she was,across the dark sky.
For the past four years the two of them had been away at the Sydney University,two friends from the tiny country town of willowbank,a drift in a sea of thousands of strangers.Their friendship had deepened during the ups and downs of student life, but now those years were behind them.
riddhima had come home to start work as a country vet while armaan who had studied geology,was heading as far away as possible,hurrying overseas hungry for adventure n new experiences.
"You r going to miss thi place, won't u?"she said
armaan laughed."i doubt it."His brother,sid would be here to help their father,Billy Mallik.It was the life sid, as the eldest son,was born to ,what he wanted.For armaan,escape had never beckoned more sweetly."i wish u were coming too."
Riddhima made a soft groaning sound "
don't start that again armaan."
"sorry.I just can not understand why u don't want to escape,too."
"and play gooseberry to u n maya?how much fun would tha be?"
the little catch in riddhima's voice alarmed armaan.
"but we would meet others nd u could make lot of friends.just like u always have."
riddhima had arrived at willowbank during their last year at high school and she had quickly fitted into armaan's close circle.But because they had shared a mutual interest in science, she and armaan had become really good friends.
He looked at her now,standing on the veranda in the moonlight ,looking beautiful with sparkly blue eyes and soft pale skin.
A strange lump of hot metal burned in his throat.
Riddhima lifted her face to him and he saw a tear run down her cheek.
"hey,basket."he used her nick name and forced a shaky laugh."don't tell me you are going to miss me."
"of course i won't miss you."she cried.
Shocked,armaan reached out to her.She was wearing a strapless dress and his hands closed over her bare shoulders.
"Riddhima,"he whispered but as he turned her he was moved by her tears.
His heart behaved strangely.He felt the heated softness of skin and when he reached the dainty curve of her tear-dampened lips,he knew that he had to kiss her.
He couldn't resist her and with the urgency of a wild-bee discovering the world's most tempting honey,armaan pulled her closer and kissed her. Riddhima wound her hands around his neck and he could feel her softness pressed against his chest.His body caught fire.
How could this be happening?
Where on earth had riddhima learned to kiss ?like this?
she was so sweet and wild and passionate-turning him on like nothing he had ever known.
Was this really riddhima in his arms?
"riddhima?"Nikki's voice called suddenly."is that u out there,riddhima?"
Light flooded them.armaan and riddhima sprang apart and nikki stared at them,shocked.
They stared at each other,equally shocked.
"i am sorry",nikki said.
"no,it's okay"both said.
"we were just-"armaan began.
"saying goodbye,"riddhima finished and then she laughed.
Everyone relaxed.Nikki stopped blushing."sid thought u might like to make a speech soon,"she told him.
"a speech?"armaan said.
"a farewell speech."
"oh.yes.i had better say soething now before everyone gets too sloshed."
They went back inside and the spell was broken.
Everyone gathered around armaan and, as he looked out at the sea of faces and prepared to speak,he thought guiltily of maya,his girlfriend, waiting for him to join her in Sydney.Then he glanced at riddhima and saw no sign of tears.She was smiling and looking like her happy old self and he told himself everything was ok.
Already he was sure he had imagined the special magic in that kiss.
Edited by harshikarocks - 31 December 2010 at 2:32am