The impact of the explosion sent armaan flying,tossed him like a child's rag toy and dumped him hard.He woke with his heart thudding, his nerves screaming as he gripped at the bed sheets.
At first he couldn't think how he'd arrived back in the bedroom of his school days, but then he slowly made sense of his surroundings.
He was no longer in Mongolia.
He was safe.
He wished it had all been a nightmare, but it was unfortunately true. He'd been conducting a prospecting inspection of an old abandoned mine when it had blown without warning. By some kind of miracle he'd escaped serious injury, but his two good friends were dead.
That was the savage reality.He'd been to the funerals of both his friends.
He'd been to hell and back sitting in those seperate chapels, listening to the heartbreaking eulogies and wondering why he had been spared when his friends had so not deserved to die.
And yet here he was, home at Tambaroora.....
Where nothind had change.....
Squinting in the shuttered moonlight,armaan could see the bookshelf that still held his old school text books.
Even the photo of him with his brother,sid,was still there on the dresser.
Armaan rolled so that he could not see the image.He didn't wanted to be reminded that his brother had beaten him to just about everything that was important in his life.It had not been enough for siddhant mallik to monopolise their father's affection,he'd laid first claim on Tambaroora and he had won the heart of armaan's best friend.
That might have been OK if sid had taken good care of riddhima.
An involuntary sigh whispered from armaan's lips.
Seeing her again tonight had unsettled him on all kinds of levels.
When he closed his eyes he could see the silvery-white gleam of moonlight on her hair as they'd stood outside the church.He could hear the familiar soft lift in her voice.
Damn it.He'd wanted to tell her about the accident.He needed to talk about it.
He hadn't told his family because he knew it would upset his mother.Ananya mallik had already lost one sonand she didn't need the news of her surviving son's brush with death.
Armaan could have talk to abhi, of course.They'd worked together in Mongolia and abhi would have understood how upset he was, but he didn't wanted to throw a wet blanket on the eve of his mate's wedding.
No,riddhima was the one person he would have liked to talk to.In the past, they had often talked long into the night.As students they'd loved deep and meaningful dicussions.
Yes, he could have told riddhima what he had learned at those funerals.
But it was probably foolish to think he could resurrect the closeness they had enjoyed as students.
After all this time, they both had changed.
Hell, was it really eight years?He could still feel the shock of all that december day when he had been skiing in Norway and he had recieved the news that riddhima and his brother were engaged to be married.He had jumped on the first plane home.
With a groan, armaan flung aside the sheet and awung ou of the bed, desperate to throw off the memories and the sickening guilt and anger that always accompanied his thoughts of that terrible summer.
But armaan knew he had been unreasonably angry with sid for moving in on his best friend while his back was turned.He had no claims om riddhima. She had never been his girlfriend. He had gone overseas with maya and, although their relationship hadn't lasted, he had allowed himself to be distracted by new sights, new people and new adventures.
He'd let life take him by the hand, happy to go with the flow, finding it easier than settling down.
The news that sid was going to marry riddhima shouldn't have upset him, but pehaps he might have coped more easily if riddhima had chosen to marry stranger.As it was, he had never been able to shake off the feeling that sid had moved in on her just to prove to his little brother that he could have whatever he desired.
Unfortunately armaan had chosen the very worst time to have it out with sid.
He would neve to the end of his days, forget the early morning argument at the airfield or sid's stubbornness, or the sight of that tiny plane tumbling out of the sky like an autumn leaf.
If onle that had been the worst of it, but it was muskaan who had told him that the shock of sid's death had caused riddhima to have a miscarriage.
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