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Arjun unlocked the car from far, and quickly walked over to the passenger side and opened the door for Arohi. She quietly observed the well behaved Arjun but dared not speak. She approached the door, and looked at Arjun whose eyes were smiling. There was so much warmth and respect in his eyes that Arohi couldn't look away. She felt her face grow warm by just being under his gaze. She gave him a quick half smile as a Thank you and sat inside the car. Arjun closed the door, and came around to take his driver's seat.
Before he started driving, he quickly glanced at Arohi who was looking at him moving about in the car, putting on his seat belt and turning on the AC. She looked away when she caught his eye and turned her face towards the window to her left. Arjun smiled and turned the key to start the car engine. He drove out of the parking lot slowly, but stopped at the main gate outside and looked at Arohi. She looked at him with a questioning look as to why he stopped. Arjun gave a wide smile which made his eyes shine and his dimples flash. His husky voice made Arohi's heart flutter.
"I need directions Arohi. I've never been to you house." Arjun softly reminded her.
"Oh..! Haan, sorry" A hint of pink spread through her cheek as she felt embarrassed, and lightly touched her forehead with her fingertips.
To Arjun, she looked like the most innocent little child who realized her mistake. The smile never left his lips but he preferred to look away, lest he can't control the urge to kiss her pink cheeks. She gave him direction and the rest of the drive was very quiet. Their house was about 15 minutes away from the venue, but the comfortable silence between them both seemed to have gone on for eternity. Both of them were at such a stage of love that silence said more than words but confession was still impending.
Once in a while Arjun glanced over to Arohi who was so focused on the road outside her window, that it seemed there was nothing more interesting than the traffic. Arjun knew she was avoiding looking at him, but he was OK with that. She was sitting with him in that car, and the fact that she was not fighting with him, was more than enough for him. The car came to a halt in front of 'Ahluwalia's' and looked at Arohi. But Arohi was still sitting there with her head turned to her left looking outside the window. He followed the direction of her eyes, and there was nothing but darkness and a brick wall.
For a moment Arjun was confused as to why she wasn't getting off. This might be the wrong address.
"Arohi..?" he said her name ever so softly but in a tone which sounded like a question.
Startled she gave him a questioning look and "hmmm?" was her response.
Arjun looked at her with a keen eye, but it took him a split second to realize that she was not looking at anything outside, she was looking inside her thoughts. There was no need to explain what she was thinking, he knew. His lips curled into a smile and he pointed towards the house with his finger and eyes and looked back at her. She followed the direction of his finger and looked at her house with a blank expression. It took several seconds for any emotions to touch her blank stare at the house. Without looking at Arjun, she quickly fumbled with the door, opened it, got off the car, and ran inside the main gate of the house.
Arjun could only look at that girl and smile. This was not the Arohi who stood up to him in front of so many people, the girl who oozed confidence when she spoke and was unaffected by Arjun's anger and arrogance. This was a girl who was clearly lost, and the reason was probably the same Arjun she so blatantly called a loser. He closed his eyes and rested his head back with the headrest. Under the closed lids, the empress of his heart appeared. Her beautiful face, pink with embarrassment, her hands that fumbled, and her feet that twisted when she ran inside the house. Oh how devastatingly he'd fallen in love with her! Being away from her and not seeing her was easier than seeing her, being around her and not being able to claim her as his.
He had often wondered if he should've tried to talk to her again. But he wanted to give her the space. He didn't want to force himself on her after all he's done to her. But that didn't stop him from loving her with every breath he took and every moment he lived. She lived within him, but what did he mean to her? He didn't know and he wasn't sure he'll ever find out, because he knew whenever he saw her or spoke to her, his barriers will break. He had convinced himself not to cross paths with her again and let her be, as this was his punishment for having hurt her so much.
Arohi had been gone for about 5 minutes when he saw Sanchit coming out of the main door, and towards Arjun's car. Arjun quickly got out of the car, and met Sanchit half way. The hug was casual yet friendly.
'Congrats Bro!" Arjun said with a genuine smile on his face.
"You can congratulate me later; first tell me why didn't you come inside?" Sanchit asked him with a friendly tone.
"You sister didn't invite me in." Arjun said and smiled widely with a wink.
Sanchit joined Arjun in a short laugh. They both turned around and started walking towards the house.
"Don't mind her man. She seems lost these days. Wonder what's the matter with her!" Sanchit excused on behalf of Arohi in a pleasant way and also voiced his concern as a brother.
Arjun gave Sanchit a silent glance and looked away. Did Arjun know the reason for her behaviour? He did. But was he ready to talk to Sanchit about it? Probably not! He preferred to keep quiet and followed Sanchit inside the house. Once inside, he was introduced with the family members, relatives and people running around. He had instantly fallen in love with DJ and Arohi's mom. They were such sweethearts and reminded him of his Dadi and the mom he didn't have. He felt accepted in that family and felt like he was wrapped around with love and affection. Everybody was really welcoming and humble.
The initial hostility vanished within minutes, and he found himself sitting there chatting with Daddu and Sudheer about legal matters of court and etc. The Ahluwaliya men were surprised at his knowledge of Legal matters and the fact that he was so well versed in knowledge of business and other legalities. Within 15 minutes, he had left a positive image of himself on every member of that household.
He noticed that all the while he was sitting there; he hadn't seen Arohi at all. There were people running around, trying to get things organized. There were two cars leaving for the venue and most of the family members left. It was only Arjun, Sanchit, their mom, DJ and Sudheer left behind. All of them had to go with Sanchit in his car. He hadn't seen Arohi, so he figured she would've left in one of the other cars that left earlier. He waited for everybody to leave so they could all leave together. Once outside the house, everybody was seated in Sanchit's car, he bid them goodbye and told them that he'd follow them behind.
They left the house and Arjun was just about to drive out of the second street when he noticed Arohi running behind his car and waiving her hand. He slammed his foot on the break and his car screeched to a halt.
"What the'" He reversed the car and brought it closer to Arohi and got out of the car.
Arohi had stopped near the car and was panting. She had run down the street behind them.
"You are still here? Where were you? Why didn't you go with everybody?" Arjun walked up to her and asked her.
She had one hand on her chest and was breathing heavily. She leaned against the car with her back and looked up at Arjun. There was concern and question visible in his eyes.
"I'I .." she said and breathed deeply. "I was ..hhh..up..upsss..stairs." she managed to tell him that between her breathing.
Arjun took grabbed her by her shoulders and stood her straight.
"Are you OK? You came running after the car? Pagal Larki..you could've called somebody.." Arjun was mildly angry with her childish act. She could've called somebody to stop and come back for her. "Come, sit inside." He said and took her by the arm and helped her walk over to the front door and seated her on the passenger seat. Arjun closed the door, and walked back to the trunk, opened it and brought out a water bottle. He extended his hand inside the window for Arohi to take the bottle. She looked at him and shook his head.
"Take it. It's just water." He ordered her with a stern look on his face.
Arohi looked at him and was about to open her mouth to say something, but the look on his face and eyes stopped her from doing so. Quietly she took the bottle and kept it in her lap. Arjun stood there and looked at her. For a moment Arohi thought he'll just move now, but she was wrong. He held his position over the window and kept looking at her. She gave him an irritated look.
"What? Can you drive now? I took the bottle." She said with the stubborn tone of the Arohi he'd met the first day.
He suppressed a quick smile to keep the features of his face as stern as possible. She was still catching up on her breath, but was being stubborn and not drinking the water. This girl was a mystery to her from day one, and guess she will always be.
"Drink the water Arohi. You need it!" He ordered again with the authority of someone who had all the rights over her.
How could someone else bossing her around go well with Arohi. She threw him a glance that clearly spelled, 'I will not drink this water, so stop ordering me". But it was Arjun she was dealing with. The man who had knocked her world upside down just within two meetings. The man who had crushed her ego and still failed to leave her thoughts and feelings. He took the bottle from her hand, opened it, and bent over the window. His face so close to her that she could feel his breath tingling her skin, and could see the depths of his devastating eyes. For a moment Arjun felt her breath halted. Gently he placed one hand behind her head and with the other hand he brought the water bottle close to her lips. There was nothing else she could see but his eyes.
It was not the first time that she looked into his eyes and forgot the time and space. Arjun's hand with the water bottle moved closer to her lips, and automatically her lips parted. Very slowly he tilted the bottle and she took a couple of sips. Once done, he moved the it away from her face and slowly moved away from her. Once standing straight, he kept his eyes on hers, and touched the bottle with his lips and drank as if he's been thirsty for ages. Arohi's face was flushed and a quick wave of emotion had passed through her eyes when she saw him drinking from the same bottle. Arjun himself wasn't sure what he was doing. It was the magic of her presence, her strong hold of her eyes and the undeniable desire of intimacy that made him do things he never dreamt he would.
The water finished, and Arjun looked at the empty bottle. He closed the lid, and took it back to the trunk and stored it there. Arohi was surprised why he didn't throw it away, but she will not ask. He came to the driver's seat and the car finally started driving. Arohi's body was still trembling, and her face was still warm. No matter how hard she tried, she could only think of his eyes and the smell of his cologne that seemed to linger on her. To get away from her thoughts, she abruptly pressed the 'Play' button on the CD player. Arjun always listened to blasting music. Slow wasn't his thing. Within moments, the car was filled with loud music
Jogan ban ban ghoomoon,
Raagan ban ban ghoomon
Han main teri chaukhat choomon,
Main teri aur tu mera,
Albela sajan mera, albela sajan mera.
Arjun extended his hand and turned the volume down. Arohi felt her heart skip a beat. The song was so apt for them. She felt her heart would jump out of her body.
Uski hoi diwani
Dunya se hoi begani
Kion hai dunya hai anjani
Tu mera dilbar jani
She felt her breath was caught between her beating heart and flying thoughts. She opened the window to let some fresh air in. Arjun was watching her very closely. He failed to understand her condition at that time. As soon as the window was down, warm air filled the car and Arohi's curly hair started to hollow her face. Arjun wanted to hide her inside him. He was having difficulty focusing on driving, because the girl sitting beside him didn't let him see anything else. Arohi was trying to tame her hair, with both her hands. Arjun rolled her window up, thank God for power windows.
She gave him a thankful look and sat there with both her hands in her lap, fidgeting with her fingers. She was so confused and uneasy sitting there for a moment Arjun thought of getting off the car, and telling her to take the car and he'll reach by a cab. Instead he applied all the pressure on the gas pedestal and zoomed the car through the traffic. Once at the venue, the car came to a screeching stop, throwing Arohi off balance and almost hitting the dashboard. As soon as the car stopped, Arohi got off the car, almost ran to the entrance and paused. She turned to look at Arjun who was still sitting in the driver's seat and looking at her. The moment was nothing short of electrifying. Arjun gave her a quick smile. His heart skipped a beat when he saw her return his smile with a coy smile. She turned and went inside, leaving him behind.
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