Joined: 19 May 2008
Joined: 05 May 2011
Joined: 27 September 2005
Joined: 05 March 2012
Joined: 17 April 2011
Joined: 27 September 2005
Joined: 19 April 2010
"Anjali, you know I am not that good of a dancer, why do you want me to sign a dance movie?" Armaan was quite perplexed by his manager's decision.
"Armaan, try to understand, a good actor can pull off anything, and you are on your way to an Oscar. You might get nominated this year. You have to prove to critics that Armaan Malik is a versatile actor, and can undertake any challenge. Trust me this is a good career move." Anjali tried her best to make him understand.
"Ok, ok, if you say so" He wasn't entirely convinced, but he was in no mood of arguing with her; if there was one thing he learned in the past couple of years, it would have to be the fact that arguing with you manager was completely pointless. "So how are you going to train me into an A-class dancer?"
"I am not teaching you anything at all. If you think you have two left feet, I don't know what you'll call me then. I first thought about a personal trainer, but the dances in the movie are mostly in groups, so I got you in Jean-Paul Gaspard's classes. He is known as the best!"
"As long as he can show me how to groove properly, I'm happy"
"C'mon Armaan, I have seen you, you're not that bad. All you need is practice, and you will be awesome. Hey, I'll call you back later; I have the producers calling on the other line. Bye."
"Bye" Her words brought back memories. All you need is practice. She wasn't the first one to say that to him. Those worlds sounded so familiar.
"Ugh, where is he?" Riddhima kept roaming around the school looking for Armaan. Classes were done, but he was not in sight. She knew she was at fault for their little fight yesterday night. Maybe she had said a bit too much. Well, what was a girl supposed to think when she sees her boyfriend dancing with a hot attractive woman in her twenties, when he specifically told her that he was at football practice? She didn't know he was taking dance lessons. Maybe she watched too many movies; these days they always showed younger man with older woman, not that she liked the concept. She already tried to approach him before class, but he wouldn't listen to her, and when the bell rang he stormed off before she could even reach him.
It was now five o'clock. Armaan always had practice on Thursdays at five. She walked pass the football field; his teammates were there, tossing the ball from one side to another, but not him. Seriously, did he skip practice to avoid her? Okay, he was allowed to be mad, but this was just childish. He was the quarter-back; he can't just miss practice for some silly reasons.
"Jake" She called out. Jake was Armaan's best friend. They have been friends for ages. "Have you seen Armaan?" She asked in hopes for an answer.
"Yeah, he's in the locker-room. We're waiting for him, tell him to hurry up would you please?" He screamed.
He didn't skip practice after all. She rushed to the boy's lockers; she didn't have to worry about anyone being there, since they were all outside already. She slowly poked her head inside the room, and there he was, his back turned towards her. He was sitting on the ledge of the bench, one foot up to tie his laces.
"Armaan" She whispered, her voice as soft as a beach breeze. He looked back and just went back to whatever he was doing. He didn't want to talk to her now.
"Armaan, please don't ignore me" She pleaded.
"What do you want Riddhima? I'm busy" He asked coldly.
"I'm sorry Armaan" She took a few steps closer. He didn't move.
"Are you done?" He was still unaffected by her pleas. "I have to go, I have a practice." He walked pass her, giving her a cold shoulder.
"Please Armaan, I didn't know she was your dance teacher. Plus, it's not entirely my fault! You could've told me that you had dance classes instead of lying to me! You told me you were at practice."
"Oh now it's my fault! You didn't even let me speak yesterday!" She just made him angrier by putting the blame on him. He turned back her to face her. "Instead, you just accused me of cheating on you! You even went on telling me that it probably wasn't the first time. How could you? How could you say that?" He was angry, and even more, he was hurt.
"I'm sorry, I was just mad' and I saw you' and she was so pretty' and I don't know'" She looked straight at him. "I love you Armaan, and I'm really sorry"
"Well you should've thought about it before saying anything" He grabbed a towel, rolled it and tossed it around his neck. He was about to leave, but Riddhima jumped in front of him, blocking his way out. "Riddhima move out of the way"
"No" She was determined to be forgiven right there, right now! "I'm not moving until you forgive me."
"Riddhima, I don't have any time for some silly games, please move" He was giving her one last chance.
Armaan was about to grab her shoulders to push her aside, but Riddhima acted faster than he could. She pulled the towel around his neck towards and smashed her lips to his. Armaan was taken aback by her action; he did not expect that at all. Riddhima snaked her arms around him, his soft hair curling around her fingers, never breaking the kiss. Armaan tried to resist, but she was driving him crazy. She bit his lip, begging him to forgive her, to kiss her back with equal passion and fervour. He finally gave in, and put both arms around her and pulled her closer. She smiled through her kiss, feeling his arms around her waist, his lips responding to hers. They finally broke apart. He looked at her with so much love; finally, she was forgiven.
Riddhima gave him a quick peck before freeing herself from his grasp. "Now you can go to practice. I'll be waiting."
Instead of letting her go, he pulled her back against him "Woah, what makes you think we're done"
"I thought you didn't have time for me, that you had to go to practice?"
"Yeah, well that was before you kissed me and swept me off my feet" He answered. He wasn't going to let go of her easy. "Now, I have all the time in the world"
"You do know that your teammates are waiting for you"
"Well, I think they can wait a bit longer" He bent down and put his lips on her hers. The kiss was sweet and soft, yet it conveyed all his love, all their love. They broke apart by a whistling: it was Jake.
"Riddhima, I thought I asked you to tell him to hurry up, not to stall him" He joked, making her look down and blush.
"Give us a moment Jake, I'll be there in two minutes"
"You better hurry up, the coach is getting a bit impatient" He added before leaving the lovebirds together.
"You heard him, go. I don't want you to get in trouble because of me" She freed herself from his grip once more, and tried pushing him towards the door.
"Wait, wait, I'll go, but before I owe an apology and an explanation. I'm sorry not to tell you about my dances lessons, but I wanted to surprise you. You're this awesome dancer, and I have two left feet. I wanted to go the Spring Dance with you and dance with you all night."
"Awww, Armaan, that's so sweet, but you don't have to learn just for me, and you don't have two left feet. All you need is practice"
A little smile crept to his lips unconsciously. He had already tried to dance back then. It's not that he was terrible dancer. He was bad, but not terrible. Both were right: all he needed was practice. The thing is, he never felt the need to practice. His normal dancing skills were enough for his lifestyle. Back then, he wanted to dance for her, with her, but now, that need was gone. He didn't really care for it. Dancing was not his thing now.
He opened the drawer and reached for the wooden picture frame. The one Riddhima had given him. He wanted to forget the past, but that woman just kept pulling him back every time. If he took one step ahead, she would make him take two steps back. She acts as if she cared, but he knew better than to believe her lies. Maybe it was time he confronted her about breaking into his house. He had to ask her how she got in. His security system was supposed to be safe.
Mental note to self: change security system ASAP!
He knew where she lived; he could just pass by her house announced. What if she was at work? He remembered her mentioning that she was a doctor, but she never mentioned any hospital. And then, it clicked. Memorial Hospital. That's where she went the day he met her accidentally in the cab. He dialled back Anjali's number "Anjali, I need a favour. I need to know the schedule of Miss Riddhima Gupta at Memorial Hospital.
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Riddhima sat quietly at lunch with her fellow co-workers. She usually wasn't the chatting type, but hey, this year seemed to be the year of new-things. Most would assume that a table full of doctors would talk about interesting cases and surgeries, but doctors have a life too. Riddhima was munching her tuna sandwich, mentally complaining about the awful taste; a homemade lunch was always better than one bought from the cafeteria. She was brought back to reality by Michelle, who kept bragging on how she had seen Armaan on the street that morning.
"Well, I was walking down the street, on the corner of Murray and Blues and as I was turning, I ran into Armaan."
Laura screamed with excitement as if she was a teenager and Nina seemed indifferent. As the latter scooped a spoonful of ice cream, she added "Why all the hype about one man. I still think Ian is way hotter. I would totally pick Ian over Armaan." She finally placed the spoonful of the delicious good into her mouth.
Laura and Michelle were obviously not of the same opinion. "What!" They both yelled in unison. "No, Armaan is the guy for me. I'd totally pick him over anyone" Added Michelle. "Anyways, as I was saying, I bumped into him and splashed myself with coffee. Unaware of whom he was at the moment, I obviously start shouting and tell him to watch where he was going, but then I saw his face and went numb. He took advantage of my numbness and kissed me on the cheek, and he said, and I quote: "You are the most exquisite creature I've ever seen -"
Before, she could continue further, Riddhima choked on her sandwich; Armaan would never use those words, ever. "Oh, you don't believe me." She said angrily while Nina filled the glass with water. "You're just jealous because he would never look at you." With that she stood up, turned her heels and stormed off with Laura trailing her.
"Wow" Nina commented "I felt like I was in high school all over again. I didn't know those two were like that. Wonder how they got into medicine with that snotty attitude" She laughed as she handed the cup of water to Riddhima.
"Probably with their daddy's fat check book" Riddhima laughed. "Thanks"
"It's not a problem, and for the record, between you and her, I am sure Armaan would pick you." Nina returned to savour her frozen good when her eyes suddenly grew wide. "Speaking of the devil" She whispered.
"Nina, are you okay?" Riddhima asked, still unsure as to what cause this dramatic change in her friend's facial expression. She quickly followed her gaze, and she knew for sure that her face now mirrored that same emotion as her friend. Complete utter surprise.
Dressed in simple pair of faded jeans and a white cardigan, Armaan was swiftly strolling down the corridor, winking at the awestruck nurses. God, can a man look any more delicious. His dazzling smile, those sweet little dimples, his toned chest, his muscular arms'
Riddhima's eyes snapped to the lunch lady who dropped the platter once she spotted our guest. Nina gave her a Riddhima-is-there-something-you-want-to-tell-me look when Armaan slowly approached their table; he pulled out, turned it and sat on it, while resting those perfect arms on top of the chair. "Good afternoon ladies"
The two girls just stared him for a moment, and then at each other, until Riddhima decided it was time to break the awkward silence in the cafeteria. "What are you doing here?"
"You see Riddhima, I came here to talk to you. It's regarding a certain breaking and entering that happened." He answered, his voice full of fake sweetness.
At those words, Riddhima's cheeks flamed. God, she wished she could dig a hole and hide at the moment. This was a conversation she was dreading of having. By the look of things, the man did not seem quite happy. Why else would he take the trouble to come at a hospital? She threw an apologetic look to her friend; by the look on Nina's face, she knew she had a lot of explaining to do later. She grabbed Armaan's hand and tried to navigate themselves away from all the prying eyes. She pushed him inside a supply room and locked the door behind them.
"Do you know you just locked us in an empty room full of medicine?" He whispered
"Yeah so" She was confused as to why Armaan was stating the obvious.
"Well" He paused as he leaned backwards on the shelf "If I remember correctly, this is the place where nurses and doctors hook-up during their shifts."
"And your point is'?" Why were they even whispering?
"My point is that the entire staff out there saw you dragging me and pushing me in here. They must think that you're quite desperate and that we are getting it on pretty rough in here." He finished, flashing that bright smile of his. He really enjoyed watching her making a fool out of herself. He was an actor and rumours didn't bother him, but he knew Riddhima had more pride than to let others believe she was having wild sex in the supply room.
"Oh Dear" He heard her say. Her cheeks were a dark shade of red and her eyes were quite big. Yup, he was right. "We have to get out of here" She reached for his arm once more, but he dodged her and casually strolled away from her toward the back of the room.
"Actually, I can just imagine what the rumours are going to be like. Why would I miss such an opportunity? Besides, you're the one who broke in to my house. Consider this payback." He lifted his fingers to his chin and rubbed it amusingly. "Maybe I should help by adding sound effects" He wiggled his eyebrows.
"Please Armaan, don't" She begged.
"Then answer my questions" He crossed his arms smugly
She blinked. "What?"
"Answer my questions. All. Of. Them. And I won't make any sound."
"Okay'" She hated where this was going.
"Question number one: how did you break into my house?"
"Two friends gave me the code" She answered truthfully.
He shrugged. "Okay, who?" He questioned again.
There was absolutely no way she was snitching Rahul and Muskaan. Armaan probably had no clue about how they did it, so he couldn't have suspected them. "'" She looked down, trying to avoid his piercing gaze.
"Your wish" Armaan banged his back against the supply cabinet and said loudly "Ouch, Riddhima. I didn't know you liked it rough."
Riddhima jumped on him, making his back hit the shelves again. She tried to cover his mouth, but was too late. Armaan already grabbed her hands and pinned them to her back. He leaned into her and whispered near her ear "Who?"
Still no answer.
"Oh God Riddhima. You know how I like it."
"Please Armaan stop it. I'm begging you. I can't tell you who" She pleaded once more, her voice barely more than a whisper. She couldn't imagine what how she would face any of her co-workers tomorrow. What were they going to think about her?
"Maybe I'm not convincing enough. Maybe I should try to-"
"Armaan please-" Riddhima interrupted him, but she realised her mistake and shut her mouth immediately.
The man just smirked "I believe you just made this scenario more believable. So I am asking you one more time. Who?"
She knew she had lost the battle, but she wasn't about to rat out her friends. So she invented names. "Michael Chen and his roommate. They attend NYU. Bright kids, so I hired them." The lie just rolled of her tongue.
"Great, now I have to worry about fans finding out where I live. Next question: why did you give me that photo frame?"
She sighed "I've had that picture on my bedside for years. I used to look at it and remembered us. The good days. I just wanted you to remember as well."
"Look at where it got you now." He replied sarcastically. "Was I already asleep when you came in?"
He raised his eyebrow. "So where were you when I came in?"
"I was hiding under your bed." By the look on Armaan's face, Riddhima knew what was coming. "Did you hear me sing" She heard him say.
"Yes" She looked away. "The song you wrote Armaan, it was-"
"Absolutely none of your business" He hissed "It's a cover for my movie. Don't go get yourself any ideas." He finally let go of her hands and added "And don't go selling my song for money either. My agent would really kill you then" He then banged his back once more and smirked.
"Armaan you have no right to come to my workplace make a scene like this. You can get me fired. Please, I am begging you. Stop this nonsense"
Armaan was visibly angry now. Not only had she broke into his house, but she also witnessed a very private moment. She was never supposed to hear that song, and now to make his story true, he would have to ask his director too add the song in credits or something. "You had no right to come into my house. First it's uninvited and then it's breaking and entering." He almost roared, but refrained himself from yelling at her. He still had one question, and he was going to ask it.
"What did you do with the money?" Riddhima was taken aback; she was not expecting that to come up at all. She assumed that with him being upset about the birthday incident that he would forget all about that. She took a few steps back and stated "I can't tell you"
"Your funeral" He shrugged his shoulders and yelled out "Oh yes baby"
Riddhima was quite furious too. "Armaan stop it, or I swear I am going to call security on you"
"Damage is already done sweetheart" He flung himself towards another shelf while screaming out inappropriate comments. "So I am asking you again. What did you do with the money?"
She glared at him, her eyes full of fury "I can't tell you. Now stop. You're making me look a harlot"
"Are you sure that's your final answer?" He seethed.
"Yes" She exclaimed a bit too loud.
Armaan gave her his dazzling smile, but she knew he was furious. This couldn't be good. "Well then, why don't I make sure everyone thinks you're a" He paused "What's that word you just used? Oh yes, a harlot" He finished the sentenced quite harshly.
Her face paled. She closed her eyes and breathed "You're better than this Armaan. I know you are. You already made a fool out of me. Please don't make it worse"
"And I thought the same thing about you. But guess what? We were both wrong." He messed up his hair, took off his top and wore it inside and unleashed the final straw, his voice echoing through the walls "If I triple the price, do I get an extra round."
And just like that, with a few words, he turned her into something she clearly wasn't.
He walked passed her, and as he was about to turn the doorknob, he glanced at her one last time. He could make out the single tear gently making its way to her lips. He could she was struggling to keep herself together; who wouldn't. Every person outside that door thought she was a, for lack of a better word, a harlot. There was a slight pull in his chest, but his anger overpowered his guilt. Without further due, he left her alone in the room.
As soon as he left the room, Riddhima broke down into tears. How would she ever come back to work again? Is that what Armaan thought of her? A prostitute. She heard the door open and tried to hide her tears, but her efforts were in vain.
"Hey" It was Nina.
"Sorry you had to see me like this." She sniffed.
"Don't worry. Armaan is a jerk, and I know for a fact that nothing happened." Despite what the various sounds emitted from the room were, Nina knew Riddhima better than that, and so did her other friends. The others, she couldn't vouch for, but she was sure Dr. Sheldon was going to take care of this.
"Besides, we have a surveillance camera in here to prove theories wrong" She said to cheer her friend up. And apparently it worked, because Riddhima's mouth pulled itself to a slight smile. "Now, let's get you to Dr. Sheldon and solve this mess."
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The moment Armaan stepped out of the hospital, he felt like a complete utter tool. He had gone too far, that was for sure. His initial plan was to get her to answer a few questions, come out, tell everyone it was a prank and make a donation. But the moment she said she heard him sing, all morality flew out the door. The fact that she had witnessed him at a vulnerable point triggered something in him. He felt exposed and naked all of a sudden. As if everything he had tried to hide from her just came out in the open.
Wasn't it enough that she was the one that turned him into this man? She had absolutely no right to barge into his life and mess up the balance again. And to make matter's worse, he had a girlfriend. Real or not real, he couldn't afford a cheating scandal right now. Not when he was about to win an Oscar.
He quickly grabbed his phone and called his agent. "Listen, I messed up a bit. I need you to take care of the Memorial Hospital scandal. It cannot get out. "
He raked his hands through his hair. He had to sort of this Riddhima mess before she could mess up his plans even further.
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Riddhima sat inside Dr. Sheldon's office quietly as the man made numerous phone calls, messaged the staff members and made them sign some sort of oath. Apparently Armaan's agent called and threatened to cut off funds if the news reached the press.
"Oh his image matters" She muttered to herself "What about mine, the one where he made me look like a freaking hooker."
After taking care of the situation, he came back and sat on his leather chair. He looked disappointed, and Riddhima hated herself for letting herself into trouble. "Listen, Riddhima. I know this isn't your fault, but what were you thinking? Dragging a huge star inside the supply room."
"I'm sorry Sir. It didn't cross my mind. He just wanted to talk to me about something and that's the first place I saw." She sobbed "I'm so sorry, please don't fire me. Working in this hospital is one of the things that keep me going Sir."
"Riddhima, I am not going to fire you. You're one of the best I have, but I am going to ask you to lay low for a bit. From tomorrow, you will be working in the basement in the filing section. I know it's not the best thing, but we need things to cool down a bit. I don't want you walking in the corridors and to be subjected to snarky comments."
She gulped "The files department" That was the worst job in the entire hospital. That room was dusty and old and unorganized. She already felt suffocated.
"Your shifts are Monday to Friday now, from 5pm to midnight and we might call you for emergencies. I'll divide you current cases and hand them to Nina and Michelle.
Great! Just Great! Michelle was probably laughing, and making fun of her with her crony Laura.
My life just got way better. Note the heavy sarcasm.
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Riddhima was doing the dishes when she heard the bell. Odd. Muskaan and Rahul never knock and she was not expecting any company. She dried her hands on her apron and hurried to the door.
"Mom, what a surprise. Why didn't you tell me you were coming?" She smiled. After a terrible day, seeing her mom made her feel so much better.
"I've missed you too sweetheart" She hugged her daughter fiercely. Dr. Sheldon had ringed her earlier and told her about the incident. She knew her precious baby was upset, and she had to come and see her. "Riddhima, I heard about what happened at the hospital. Do you want to talk about it?"
"No mom, I was a fool and got myself stuck in a situation." She avoided her mother's gaze. There was no way she could her feelings. Her mom could read her like an open book.
"I know you're sad Riddhima. Don't hide it. Let it all out."
She looked into her mother's eyes, and then she poured her heart out. "It's just I don't know what to do anymore. Armaan is so angry at me that he just jumps to conclusions all the time. One moment, he acts fine and the other, he goes all hostile. His words hurt mom. Every time he says something cruel, I feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest. I don't know what to do anymore... Mom I love him so much that it hurts" Padma wiped her daughter's tears and kept patting her hair "And now, because of him, I can't even attend patients for the time being. My job is what helps me go on Mom. But, now I'm stuck in the filing section."
"Shhh" Padma hugged her daughter again "Everything will be fine. You just have to be strong. Besides, they always say that things become worse before they become better. And I know that everything will be fine at the end."
"You think so Mom, do you really think he will come back to me?" She looked up at her mom, hope shining in those blue orbs.
"If he doesn't, than it's his loss. Now, how about I make you some pancakes, the ones with the smiley faces?"
"I would love them Mom."
Half an hour later, they were both seated, eating delightful pancakes. "Riddhima, why don't you get a car? You're always walking or taking the bus everywhere. Even your workplace is not that near"
"Mom, we've been through this. I don't need a car. Besides, I need to save my money." She said as she popped a piece of that delicious good in her mouth.
"For what" Padma had no clue why her daughter was so keen on saving up money. Ever since they moved, she has been saving up. She used to say it was for college, but even though she received a scholarship, the girl was still working on her free time. As if she had something to prove to herself. And every time Padma asked, she always got the same reply. Today was no different.
"Something mom, something."
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Again. Now, at this hour. It was past eleven and her mom had already left an hour ago. Plus it was raining cats and dogs outside. Complete suicide to leave the house. She peeked through peephole to make sure it wasn't some creep. To say she was shocked by who she saw was an understatement.
"If you're here to apologize for what you did, I don't want to hear it. You were a total jerk today" She snapped at Armaan as she opened the door. How dare he come to her house today. After everything he did.
"Good thing I am not here to say sorry then" He waltzed inside her house.
"Yes, please do come in" The heavy sarcasm was evident in her voice. "What do you want Armaan? Was today not enough for you?"
"Actually, I came to offer you a deal."
She blinked "What?" Somehow this scenario seemed awfully familiar.
"You heard me. A deal. Just like the one my mother offered you years ago. You must be familiar with those" The bile in his voice was back. He reached his wallet and pulled out a blank check with her name on it.
He placed it on her table and simply stated "You can take any amount of money you want, and in return leave me alone. I am on the verge of a career breakthrough, and I cannot afford having you sabotage my plans. You can pretend like you care all you want, but I know you are in it for the money and the fame."
"Armaan, I don't want your money" She looked him straight in the eyes, her blue orbs meeting his piercing green ones. "Why can't you believe me for once. Have faith in my words like you did once"
"Then what do you want Riddhima, because honestly, I don't know anymore." He passed his hand through his hair before slumping against the wall.
She took a step towards him "It's" Another step "quite" Another step "simple". The final step brought her right in front of her man. She reached for his cheek and softly caressed his skin with her thumb. She felt him relax a bit and lean into her palm "I want you"
He jerked back and headed for the door. "That's not going to happen" He stormed out again.
"Oh no you don't" The young woman muttered. "There is no way you're getting away from having a conversation with me today." She put on a pair of flip flops and ran out the door, just in time to see the elevator close.
"Crap" She cursed "The stairs" Never in her life has Riddhima zoomed through the staircase so fast. By the time she reached the ground floor, Armaan was already leaving the building. She picked up her pace and ran after him "Armaan" She panted, not being to keep up any longer. "Armaan, I am going to stand here until I get pneumonia if you don't turn around and listen."
Armaan halted his stops. He swung towards her roughly. "Go back inside" He walked towards her. She was completely drenched and was wearing nothing but sweatpants with a tank top. "You're going to get sick and I don't want to have to bring you to the hospital. I have more things to do with my precious time."
"Why is it not going to happen?" She asked sternly. "I know I screwed up back then, and I am sorry, but why can't you at least give a chance to prove myself? Tell me what I have to do, and I'll do it." She was putting herself out there completely. He had to know how much she still loved him. "I love you Armaan. I always have and I always will. Just tell me what to do."
"You don't even know me anymore. I've changed and so have you. Besides, I don't love you Riddhima. You're just going to have to move on" He said looking at the distance.
"We're both still the same. We just got a bit lost. You're just hiding your feelings because you're scared and-"
"WELL YOU"RE DAMN RIGHT I'M SCARED!" He roared as he grabbed her shoulder and shook her. "I am terrified Riddhima" He placed his forehead on her shoulder and murmured "I loved you so damn much and it nearly destroyed me. I managed to move on and you're asking me to put myself out there again. But I can't. Because I don't think I'll survive when you leave me again."
"But I won't leave you" She breathed. She reached for his face and turned it towards her. "I'm not going to leave you." And she kissed him. Hard and passionately. She needed him to believe that she was telling the truth, needed him to believe she loved him. Her hands were on his chest but she needed to be close to him. She snaked her arms to his collar and pulled him closer. God, he felt so perfect. And the best part was that he was kissing her back. She felt his arm reach down her waist as his fingers found their way just under the bottom of her tank top, slightly brushing her lower back. She was supposed to be freezing, but each and every one of his touches was setting her body on fire.
But before she could get completely lost in the intensity of the kiss, Armaan's hands made their way back on her bare shoulders and he broke the kiss, resting his forehead on hers as they both tried to catch their breath "I'm sorry Riddhima, but I can't"
He stared backing off when he heard her plea "Please"
"Let me go Riddhima. If you ever loved me then let me go. Don't make me go through this pain again. Just let me go." And he disappeared into the darkness.
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Rahul was sitting at his as he gazed out the window, watching as each droplet hit the window and slowly slide the panel. His article was due in two days and a white blank page stared at him. He was so easily distracted these days, if was definitely unhealthy. His mind kept drifting to that annoyingly cute frizzy haired neighbour of his. He just loved to tease and rile her up; she looked adorable when she was angry.
Come to think of it, I haven't seen her in days.
She was definitely not in her apartment yet. She had this distinct way of banging the door when she came home. And the bang didn't happen yet.
Maybe I should look out the window to see if she's on her way.
As he stared down, he made out two silhouettes in the rain. When he saw them kiss and sighed. Love. These days, couple didn't seem to care whether there was a storm outside or not. These two definitely needed to get inside before they caught a cold. As he was about to move away from the ledge, he realised that one of the figures walked away and the other was just standing there, like a statue. A few minutes passed, and she still made no move. He opened the window to get a better view at the girl and then he saw her. Riddhima was standing in the rain, drenched and shivering. He grabbed his coat and an umbrella and headed down without any further delay.
"Riddhima, are you out of your mind?" He screamed as he enveloped her in his coat. You're going to catch a cold. Come one lets go inside." He guided her through the building and pushed her inside her room. "Change while I make you some tea" He ordered.
While making the coffee, he found a scrap of paper on the table. It was a check. Odd. A blank check in Riddhima's name from Armaan. Extremely odd. He glued it to the fridge with a magnet. He was going to ask her about that later. As he made his way back into the room, the woman was nowhere in sight. The room was still dark with a slight light coming from the open bathroom door. He knocked a couple of times, but when there was no answer, he entered the room and found her in a little ball beside the tub.
"He told me to let him go'" Her words were nothing but a mere pained whisper. "He told me that if I ever loved him, I had to let him go."
"Shhh.." He sat beside her and pulled her petite frame to him "It's okay."
"No it's not. You. Muskaan. Everyone. You guys have to stop lying to me. I never even stood a chance at getting him back." She sobbed "Who was I trying to fool? I was so consumed at getting him back that I didn't pay attention to the consequences of my actions' He's right. He might get an award, and I'm keeping him from his goals." She wiped her tears with the back of her arm. "Funny isn't it? Back then his mother wanted me to leave him because she taught I was jeopardizing his future so she offered me a check, and today he did the same."
Oh, so that explained the black check, thought Rahul.
"If anything, that fool is destroying his future, because a future without you is no future at all. Don't even blame yourself for anything you didn't do." Rahul reasoned with her. The girl had the biggest heart and yet, hers was the one filled with most sorrow. She deserved better than that obnoxious jerk, but he couldn't control who she loved, and neither could she. The heart was always known as a rebel.
"And to top it all, I am stuck reviewing and organizing old files for who knows how long."
"What" Rahul said shocked. Why in the world would a great doctor like her be pulled into the mass of papers? The old man probably lost his head.
"That too is because of the great Armaan Malik." She stated.
As Riddhima narrated the event, Rahul clenched his jaw and tightened his fists. Oh, that man was going to be black and blue once he would be done with him. "You know what? Why don't we forget about that man and watch a movie. Just me and you. Like old times"
Riddhima hugged him "You know Rahul, you're the best. I don't know what I would have done without you."
"You're the best too. So why don't you get dressed while I find something to tie that mass of wet locks before they poke me to death." His comment brought a small smile to lips.
Rahul looked around through her stuff to find an elastic band while Riddhima changed in the washroom. He opened her jewellery box, and that's when he saw a folded piece of paper. His curiosity got the better of him and he opened the letter and began reading.
My dearest Riddhima,
By the time you read this letter, I'll be long gone...
And I realised that I had failed you as a father. I should've known better all those years ago, that you only took the money to save me...
Forgive me Riddhima for doing this to you. Forgive me for failing you...
Remember that I love you so much, and if you ever need help, look up at the sky; you'll find me there watching over you all the time.
"Rahul, did you find-" Riddhima stopped as she realised what Rahul was reading. She tore the paper away from his hands and put it back safely inside the box, where it belonged. "You're not supposed to read that." She murmured. She wasn't angry that he read it. Actually, she felt relieved that someone else carried her burden as well.
"Why didn't you tell me Riddhima? You've been keeping all this inside of yourself. For the past seven years, I can imagine what your life might have been like." He asked and he engulfed her into a tight embrace.
"I couldn't. It wasn't my place to tell"
"I understand" He broke their hug and stared at her for a while "Can I ask you something and expect an honest answer?"
"You can ask me anything" She breathed.
"Your father, he let you go of the promise. So why haven't you just told the truth to Armaan?"
Riddhima turned away from him and walked to the window "You read the letter. How could I tell him the truth?" Rahul didn't quite understand what she was saying. "How could I tell the truth to Armaan when that would only prove my father right? He thought he failed me Rahul. Failed me!" She finally faced him again "If I told Armaan the truth, it means that I was accepting my father's words, that my choice was a mistake, when it wasn't. If I had to remake that decision, it would always be the same. My father never failed me. If anything, I failed him." A tear strolled down her cheek. "By letting him believe that he failed me, I am the one who failed him as a daughter."
"That's not true. You're probably the best daughter any father could ask for. I've never met your father, but I am pretty sure you were the best thing that happened to him and that he was super proud of you. I know for a fact that he loved you more than anything."
Riddhima smiled at his words, but deep down she knew that even if her father loved her immensely, he died thinking that his daughter was unhappy. He died thinking that he was the cause of her unhappiness, when he clearly wasn't. She would sacrifice anything she had for her father, just to hear his voice again or to see his eyes shine when he smiled at her. "You're the best Rahul, you know that"
"I've been told a couple of times" He chuckled.
"Actually, I think I am going to head to bed. How about we watch a movie another day?" She smiled. This had been a rough day, and she wanted to curl into her bed and sink into oblivion.
"Not a problem" He kissed her forehead sweetly. Besides, there was something he needed to do. He was, after all, a man of his words.
~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~
Ugh. How many more times do I have to come to this idiot's house?
Rahul parked his car and rang the doorbell. He knew it was late, but he needed to set the matter straight. That scumbag was going to pay for what he did to Riddhima. Making her look like a cheap and easy girl at her workplace, offering her money to make her go away. Stars these days. They never learnt that money was not everything.
The door finally swept open, and Armaan stood in the doorway in a pair of red boxer and a white wife-beater. "Can I help you?"
Not only was the guy a total tool, but apparently he had a bad memory as well. He clearly didn't recognize Rahul.
"Actually, you might want to stand still." Rahul smirked.
Armaan was baffled by the stranger; he seemed familiar, but he couldn't pinpoint where exactly he had seen him. And what did he mean by stand still, why in the world would-
Everything went so fast. Once moment he was analyzing the man in front of him, the next his face connected with a strong fist. Man, the dude had a good arm.
"What the f-"
Once again, the man in front of him had managed to take advantage of Armaan's dazed state. Armaan was pissed. Who the hell goes punching people in the middle of night?
"What. The. F**k." Armaan made sure to pronounce word by word to make sure that his opponent got the message. If he threw another punch, the man was going to need an ambulance to get home.
"I told you back then that if you did something to Riddhima, that if you hurt her in anyway, I was going to rearrange your face" Rahul said, traces of anger clearly visible in his voice.
"Listen, what happens between Riddhima and me is our matter. Don't poke your nose where it shouldn't." He threw back. So this was the idiot Riddhima hung out with. No wonder he seemed familiar. He clearly wanted to punch the guy back, but refrained. A fighting scandal is another thing he needed to avoid.
"When it comes to Riddhima, I will do anything to keep her from getting hurt. Do you even know what you did to her, Armaan?"
"You mean how I made sure everyone knew what type of woman she was?"
"You and I both know Riddhima is not like that. What you're doing is venting your anger on her without thinking about how your actions are affecting her. I don't know why she loves you, but she does. And I can't change it. But I can make sure you never hurt her again. You better apologize for what you did."
"I told her to stay away from me from day one. She's the one who keeps coming back. If she got hurt, it's her own damn fault." Who the hell did this guy think he was? Banging his door in the middle of the night, punching him and now he was threatening him.
"She was trying to make you see that she cared for you. She made a mistake so what" Rahul yelled "She's human. She is bound to make a mistake, but-"
"A mistake, she took five hundred grand and broke up with me. Tell me Rahul, if the girl you would have died for did that for you, what would you have done?"
"So what you did today was to take revenge on something she did seven years ago? You almost made her lose her job. Do you have any idea how much she loves her job. How much she needs it? She's been suffering for the last seven years. Don't you think it's enough? Why are you punishing her even more?"
Armaan was taken aback by Rahul's last statement. What did he mean by she's been suffering for the last seven years'? She had five hundred grand to keep her company, he thought sarcastically. He took a deep breath and asked again "You didn't answer my question?"
A dead silence.
"That's what I thought" Armaan sneered. He was about to turn away and shut the door when he heard a voice again.
"If you knew Riddhima at all, if you loved her like you say you did, then you would know what kind of person she was. You would know that she was incapable of hurting someone without a reason"
"Then what was her reason" Armaan replied. How dare the man question the feelings he had? "Tell me oh mighty one, why didn't she just tell me if she had one?"
"You keep saying that she broke your heart, but did you even try finding her once" Rahul said, ignoring the question. He observed Armaan while the words kept rolling of his tongue. Clearly, the man was shocked. "You keep saying that you would have died for her, but when she left, did you even try to make sure she was okay. You didn't even know about the money then, and still, you never looked for her. You had the means Armaan, all you needed was the will."
"She left me, not the other way around" Armaan stated.
"Yeah Armaan, she left and you didn't bother looking for her. Talk about love. Did you even stop and wonder how she must have felt when you never tried to contact her. Riddhima is a smart woman and she probably knew that of you really wanted, you could have found her. Yet you didn't. The man she loved more than her own life never bothered to even try to call her. Despite that, she never even asked you why you didn't come after her. And do you want to know why she didn't?
"It's because she never doubted your love for her. But apparently, you doubted hers" Rahul didn't even look back once he finished delivering his wise words. The man better starting acting like the man he was, because if he didn't, than he was just plain stupid.
Armaan stood there, frozen as he watched the car drive away into the distance. She never doubted your love for her. But apparently, you doubted hers. What did that even mean? She never doubted your love for her. But apparently, you doubted hers. The words kept echoing in his head. She never doubted your love for her. But apparently, you doubted hers. Rahul was right. He didn't know about the money then, and yet he never bothered looking for her. He just assumed she left him because she didn't care.
"It's just that I'll miss you"
"No'just for everything."
"I love you too Armaan"
He remembered how she was crying that last time she talked to him. She had apologized and reminded him of her love, and yet he didn't acknowledge any of it. For someone who had taken money to break up with him, why would she keep up the pretences? She never doubted your love for her. But apparently, you doubted hers.
The words didn't seem to make sense to him at all, though he had to admit, it sure made him think. Rahul was right. He had to apologize to Riddhima for what he did.
~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~ <> ~
It was past midnight, by the time Riddhima finished classing all the files that started with 'A'. One day stuck in the basement and she already missed her job upstairs.
This is not permanent, this is not permanent, this not-
A loud sound brought her back to reality. Why would anyone be at the basement at this hour? There was nothing there except for the files department, the janitor's lounge and the lockers provided to the volunteers. Clearly, there were no volunteers this late; the latest shift for them finished at 11 p.m. along with the visiting hours. Maybe it was just a janitor. She accelerated her pace and decided to go for the stairs. The last thing she needed was to get trap in the elevator with whoever was out there. If she left by back door, she might run across the park and be able to get an earlier bus. As she walked through the park, she felt as if someone was behind her. She could hear some footsteps approaching. She reached into her bag for her pepper spray, but no luck. Her bag bas snatched away from her within seconds, and she was backed up against the park restroom building.
A throbbing pain shot through her as her head hit the rough wall. She could see black spots, until her vision cleared up. She slowly made out a silhouette; he held her firmly against the wall with one hand as he threw her bag away. His hold was strong and she knew there would be bruises there.
"Sweetheart, why don't you show me what you showed that rock star of yours?" His breath smelled like alcohol and cigarette. The man was big and imposing. There was no way she could run away from him. She raised her knee to kick him, but the man quickly pressed his weight against her to avoid giving her any chance.
"Aw, Riddhima darling, don't do that. I know that actor of yours likes it rough, but I prefer my women gentle. I have been waiting to do this ever since I knew what kind of girl you were. Who would have thought?" He said as he traced her skin from her earlobe to her chin. The moment his slimy fingers touched her lips, Riddhima looked away and prepared to scream.
"Hel-" He grabbed her face forcefully and turned her back towards him. Before she could say or do anything, his lips crashed against her. Riddhima felt sick as the man continued to kiss her. His lips were rough and she could make out the taste of alcohol. She shut her eyes as the tears strolled down her soft cheeks. She needed to make him stop.
The man was so engulfed by what he was doing that he didn't even see it coming. He felt her teeth sink into his lower lip. "You b**ch" He yelped. "You're going to pay for that." He ripped her coat of her and threw it on the asphalt.
"Please, I'm not like that. You're drunk. Just please let me go" She cried. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. She wasn't even supposed to be here today. She tried to wiggle out of his firm grasp, but even drunk, the man was too strong for her.
"Oh baby, I have plans for you" His hand traveled the length of her arm as he violently kissed her neck.
"Please" She sobbed but her pleas were of no use. She felt his hand make its way to her waist and slide under her shirt.
"You're so soft sweetheart." He started unbuttoning her shirt, but soon lost patience as he fumbled with the very first one. Instead, he roughly tore her shirt apart and the buttons flew everywhere.
"HELP" She screamed but her voice was cracked from fear. She was visibly shaking. The man was going to... was going... she couldn't bring herself to even say it. "HEL-" His lips came crashing on hers again, but before she could bite him a second time, the weight was suddenly lifted of hers. She stood there frozen as her saviour beat the daylight of him. She knew who it was. She would never mistake him for anyone else.
Armaan was waiting for Riddhima at the main entrance. He owed her an apology, and somehow, the guilt was eating him inside. He needed to let her knew that he was sorry for what he did to her. He waited and waited, but she never came out though the front. He had decided to look around and that's when he heard a scream. He ran and ran and stopped abruptly. The sight unfolding before his eyes made his blood boil. Without any delay, he rushed to them, pulled the man away from her and punched, and punched and...
"Armaan" He heard a small whisper.
Armaan suddenly came back to his senses as he heard the soft whisper. He turned to see her and the sight in front of him made heart wrench. Silent tears streamed down her cheeks and her lips were trembling. Her arms were crossed, desperately trying to cover up her chest. Her torn shirt wasn't helping her much.
"Riddhima" He let go of the unconscious man and ran to her. "It's okay baby, it's over." He cupped her cheeks and wiped her tears away. "Shhh, it's okay. I'm here. He can't hurt you anymore. I won't let him hurt you anymore."
At those words, he saw her eyes look up, and what he saw was not relief, pain or hurt. No, it was anger. "How dare you?" She pushed him, her hands hitting his chest with a loud noise. Unable to control herself, she slapped him.
"How dare you pretend this isn't your fault?" She sobbed as she pushed him again. "He told me that he came after me because of you, because of what you made me seem" She yelled, unable to keep her voice down. "This is your entire fault" She sobbed even harder, holding the collar of his shirt.
Armaan let her do as she pleased, because he knew he was to blame. His little stunt made this happen. As she cried uncontrollably against his chest, he wrapped his arm around her and buried his head in her hair. "God, I'm so sorry Riddhima, I-" He knew sorry was never going to be enough. Nothing was even going to be enough. He held her tightly, making her feel safe. He felt her body shiver. He slowly pulled away and took off his jacket, draped it around her shoulder and zipped it up. He reached to cup her face again, but she turned away.
"Why are you here Armaan?" Riddhima asked coldly. This was no way to treat her saviour, but she wouldn't be in this scenario if it weren't for him.
"I... I came to apologize."
"Why are you doing this to me Armaan? Why are you punishing me so?" She whispered. "I don't know what you want from me anymore" She wiped her tears away with her sleeves.
"NO" She shouted. She was tired of having him play with her. She was tired of hoping. She needed to face reality, and everyone knew that reality was no fairytale. "I loved you Armaan, I loved you so much it hurt when I left. I used to fall asleep and hope that everything was just a nightmare, and when I would wake up, everything would be like it was. That you would come and pick me up and head to our beach like we used to."
"No, let me finish." She needed to get this out of her chest. "When I heard about your first movie, I was so proud. I skipped my class just so I can catch the first show. I used to catch a glimpse of you here and there, and it was enough for me. But then, you came back so I started to hope again. Hope that maybe fairytales did exist. I never blamed you for your anger, because you were entitled to it. So I took in all your harsh words, all your taunts, but each and every one of them hurt. I'm not that strong Armaan. I'm only human."
"I lost you Armaan, I lost my love, I lost my father. You were the only man I kissed, and I lost that too today. I nearly lost my job, and now, I nearly lost'" She inhaled sharply. "I nearly lost my virtue. How much more do you want me to lose? How much more do you need to punish me?"
They stared at each other until Riddhima turned away. She grabbed her bag and called the only person she could trust. "Rahul, can you please pick me up from the hospital?" She clicked the phone shut and ran back to the hospital, leaving Armaan to process her worlds.
She never doubted your love for her. But apparently, you doubted hers. The words came back crashing in his head. God, How could he have been so stupid? Riddhima never asked him why he never bothered looking for her because she knew how much he loved her. She knew that he would be heartbroken because of his love for her. She knew he would be torn, so she never blamed him, never resented him for anything. In her eyes, everything was justified because she broke his heart, and he loved her. Instead, she swallowed her pride and accepted every cruel word he had thrown at her.
She never doubted your love for her. But apparently, you doubted hers. Had he really doubted her love for him? Despite how he tried to put it, he knew deep down that he did. Even before the money came in play, he did doubt her love. She left, and that's all he ever saw. Never tried to come up with a cause or a reason. You would know that she was incapable of hurting someone without a reason. He saw the world in black and white, refusing to let the hues of grey come in. Rahul was right; his Riddhima was someone who had a big heart, who loved unconditionally, who cared for everyone. Taking money was unlike her. He was blinded by anger, pain and hurt that he had refused to acknowledge any other sides to the story. She left, and that's all he ever saw.
Armaan stood in the middle of the park, in the middle of night as reality came crashing in. She never doubted your love for her. But apparently, you doubted hers. Rahul was right. Riddhima had never doubted his love for her, but he had definitely doubted hers.
Joined: 25 January 2010
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