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Fan Fictions

Taming The Wild- All parts till now (Page 9)

BabajiKaThullu IF-Addictz

Joined: 26 February 2010
Posts: 54270

Posted: 04 January 2012 at 7:35am | IP Logged
wow all parts in one threaddd awesummm

made our task easyyy

btw i have already read this longest ff 3 timesss

n still reading 4th time lolzzzLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL

loved this ff mosttt

n also love the writerrr

The following 1 member(s) liked the above post:


mansibharti Goldie

Joined: 06 January 2009
Posts: 2126

Posted: 04 January 2012 at 8:07am | IP Logged
Originally posted by RadhikaBhushan

wow all parts in one threaddd awesummm

made our task easyyy

btw i have already read this longest ff 3 timesss

n still reading 4th time lolzzzLOL

loved this ff mosttt

n also love the writerrr

thanks a lot dear i lurv u sooo muchEmbarrassedEmbarrassed. you know this is much better than searching for the parts go to diff threads then pages bah!! what a waste of time .. so tada.. new thread all parts !!Big smile

Originally posted by shikha_bhargava

wow mansi thank you sooo much,
It is really easy to have all parts updt in a single thread
Phew! Thank god lol...
Between i love this ff of urs
You are truly an amazing writer
Ur work is really one to get appreciated
Love ur ff a llottt
Lots n lots of love

aww thanks a lot for appreciating dear.. hope you enjoy the coming parts too.. its just the matter of time now coz this FF is coming to end soon..

Edited by mansibharti - 08 January 2012 at 12:46am

The following 1 member(s) liked the above post:


shikha_bhargava Groupbie

Joined: 31 October 2011
Posts: 109

Posted: 04 January 2012 at 8:13am | IP Logged
wow mansi thank you sooo much,
It is really easy to have all parts updt in a single thread
Phew! Thank god lol...
Between i love this ff of urs
You are truly an amazing writer
Ur work is really one to get appreciated
Love ur ff a llottt
Lots n lots of love

The following 1 member(s) liked the above post:


mansibharti Goldie

Joined: 06 January 2009
Posts: 2126

Posted: 04 January 2012 at 8:40am | IP Logged
                               Taming the wild
                                      Part 69

The honeymoon was over but the spirit remained intact. Ridhhima fell in love with the beach house and it was with great difficulty that she managed to leave, seriously contemplating on Armaan's suggestion that they move here permanently..' What a beautiful place to raise children', she'd thought.. But then practicality butted in.. Living halfway around the globe, away from family and her work.. Naah, not exactly part of her dream.

And they bid goodbye to their heaven, promising to return soon... and more in number after all it would be a surprise if not, owing to all the 'activities'. She blushed at the thought but kept it to herself.. Mr.I-know-what-you-are-thinking was close by and he would just leap to another opportunity. Ridhhima sighed, content, happy, amused, intrigued, madly in love- kind of sigh thinking she had to look out what gave her away everytime. How come he came to know when she was feeling 'thinking', even remembering, about well you know what. And about babies, well, there would be time enough to think and talk about it. Smiling she curled on the seat hugging him tight, feeling more secure than American president in his safety bunk in his armlock.

The journey back seemed so short. Ridhhima didn't realize they were back and at first didn't even like it a bit.. Especially when they were busy reliving the moments and recreating the unforgettable plane experience.. but all the disappointments went down the drain with one tight hug from Muskaan, a loud cheerful 'yo partner' from BP and all those warm loving smiles and eager questions fussing and teasing from everyone else.
Ridhhima wondered what was exactly heaven, this or that she left or the one she haven't seen- the one up above. Could she be any more happy than this.. It all summed up to one thing, it was possible coz of just one sole reason- her Armaan.. wherever she had him -among all the other people she loved, this as an afterthought.. it became heaven. Somehow everything faded, blurred with him before her. Their eyes met proving her right instantly...

If she thought she was the one going to miss the honeymoon days the most, then she was proved wrong the day later. When she got the humongous task of making a very reluctant husband go to office. Especially when he wanted nothing but to stay in bed with wifey.. All day long.

It was some task, but she managed. Now that she'd become an expert at cajoling, bribing even threatening.

Back at the office Armaan was deeply engrossed in a file, brows scrunched in concentration. A small part of his brain- just a teeny weeny part- thanking her for making him come to the office.. Too many things had piled up in his absence.. yet it took him 'some' time to come out of her thoughts. Armaan slid his tab into his desk drawer, closed his lappy.. He had to, they- Ridhhima's pictures- kept smiling at him through those
gadgets with, what he thought, sole aim of distracting him. As soon as they were tackled and the chair was turned to an angle which blocked the view of frames kept on the table he somewhat returned to his 'let's work' mode.. and it was all going well so far until he was interrupted by a soft knock on the door. Not lifting his eyes from the file he asked the person to enter.

It was Kavita, " Sir, these just came in for you " extending him a lovely something.

Armaan eyed the delivery curiously.. The smile on Kavita's face, the 'I-know-who-sent-it-and-you'll-soon-see' one added its masala. It was there on her face since Ridhhima called to check if the delivery was made.

Armaan understood the reason behind it as soon as his eyes fell on the handwriting on a small card that came along with the bunch.. Yes, 'someone' sent him a big bunch of flowers.. And beautiful bunch it was, an assortment of different colour roses.

He chuckled, no wonder Kavita looked amused. It wasn't everyday that one get to see a man getting a big bunch of roses, that too by his wife ! But with Ridhhima anything was possible. He took out a small card from its red envelope. All covered with yellow and pink hearts. Typical girly stuff, but he knew she must've did that on purpose- to bring a smile on his face. And it did.

The card inside was just one plain white card sheet with her neat writing on it..

" My love, if flowers could speak the words of my heart I would send you the yellow roses for being there beside me...

The pink blossoms for bringing infinite happiness to my world

And red roses to say that you will be there in my heart forever... I love you..."

There was a P.S too he turned the card over and laughed..

" Take care of your boring files, but dare not forget me.. Happy first day back. "

Signed with her lip mark at the bottom. A wide grin now adorned his face " how can I ever forget you sweetheart " he kissed the mark. " and with this surprise darling, you've successfully trashed all my concentration on work " sighing deeply Armaan kept the card on the chest falling back on the chair. With a very contented smile..

Relishing her thoughts for a moment he took out his cell phone pressing the speed dial. His eyes lit up hearing the voice on the other end " I love you Princess.. Yupp they are stunning, you really brought out the softer flower aww-ing side of me..." he laughed at something she said but the next moment his brows shot up, his expressions changing from naughty to surprised to longing with desire.. " I can't wait for the evening.. Never you'll find a man so eager to be taken advantage of. To show the 'masculine' side of him.. What do you have in mind ? Another show and tell..? " he smiled hearing the reply " you naughty girl ! I'd love a surprise by you. They always take my breath away " he chuckled " fine.. But I don't think I can see a word in these files and if you continue talking like this I might have to come there right now... hold myself !? now that's nearly impossible ! " he listened for a moment " Oh my god ! Darling, you should stop. Your suggestions have umm started showing their effect.."
checking himself he took a deep breath trying to control himself " okay I'll try. But don't be late.. I'll see that this time no one disturb us "

Putting the phone on the table moments later he sighed deeply, falling back on the chair eyes closed.. lost again in the beautiful dreams.. of his princess. But this was going to be a long day.. The clock showed just little after 11.. Still many torturous hours to be endured till his dream comes true..

But god rewards well for patience. And it was excellent for the patient husband. When Ridhhima knocked at the door at exactly 7:30 he'd reached the limit of his endurance. Waiting for the lovely evening at the office he'd cleared all the hurdles well before her arrival. No Kavita, No meetings, No dropping at the awkward moment elders.. Just two of them and a nice long evening together.

Eager and impatient he picked her up in his arms and smacked his lips on hers as soon as she showed up.. He was dying to have that kiss all day long, her words didn't let him rest for a moment and now that they were together he wanted to do everything at one go.. Quickly but leisurely. Whatever it meant.

Ridhhima smiled in between the kiss. The kiss took her by surprise but she loved it, to see him love her so much.. To have that effect on him.. To see that her macho manly man superman was such a putty in her hand.. But then so was she. His love care desire for her, his passion.. It made her want him even more, in every possible way... With that thought came a wave of hot dark desire and she poured it all in the kiss.. Kissing him back senseless.. All set to make all other senses go numb except those which registered love and passion..

Quickly they started peeling the layers of clothes, mouths fused together tongues dueling, making way to the private chambers leaving behind a trail of clothes in descending order of size.. Landing on bed Armaan pinned her underneath showering hot kisses all over, tasting her.. teasing the sensitive flesh of her fullness till she could take it no longer and moaned loudly with hot passion. A fire raged in her flowing down to the sensitive triangle of femininity melting her insides all the way down... Desire passed through them like strong waves lashing on the shore.. Her every touch on his hard body.. Her soft sensuous teasing.. her so soft and warm body made him wild with want.. Ridhhima could feel him pulsating, throbbing down below, growing with every passing second.. Eager to feel her warmth and sate both their desires.. Turning over she sat over him kissing eyes pecking his lips slowly moving down to his neck chest and sliding further... taking him in her hand she stroked gently making him groan with melting fire.. He could wait no longer. He wanted her. Now. Grabbing her shoulders he pulled her up pinning her down again.. Locking hands over her head Armaan kissed her deeply caressing her softness with the other and took her in a one sure powerful thrust.. Ridhhima gasped and would have even cried out if his mouth on hers hadn't prevented it.. As he began to move everything else dissolved into nothingness.. It was all Armaan, her Armaan.. His love.. The unexplainable feeling of him inside her, stroking.. Moving.. Kissing.. caressing... It was so beautiful, kind of rythem they sang together.. Two tiny tears slipped from the corner of her eyes as she held him tighter, close to her heart never wanting to let go and live this exotic moment forever...

When waves crashed, both of them lay together in each others arm. Calm, contented.. Feeling eternally blissful. Planting a soft kiss on his chest Ridhhima smiled at the love of her life, his heart still thumping, face flushed and those dimples proved, he loved every moment of their private meeting. Ridhhima smiled hugging him tightly hiding his face in the crook of her neck.. running her hand in his hair. He was perfect. And the best thing.. He was all hers.

Ridhhima was busy adjusting cushions on the sofa, all messed up by in-a-very-playful-mood-Angira especially when she was all worked up with her newly acquired talent of walking, when someone called her out loudly. Raising her head Ridhhima saw Armaan sitting on the edge of wooden railings of first floor landing waving at her like an acrobat to his audience before a daring stunt.

" Ridhhima look ! " he shouted enthusiastically as Ridhhima looked at him wide eyed. He was in one of his nutty moods, set to slide on the railing " Armaannn ! No, wait..."

But before she could say anything else he was already slipping down. Hands in the air wide goofy grin of stupid thrill on his face. He could hardly be stopped now. Moments later he landed. Rather crashed. Loosing balance at the drop he fell out on Ridhhima grabbing her in his arms, couldn't hold the balance and both fell on the floor rolling... Finally halting with Ridhhima on top of him, hair sprayed on his face a hand stuck under him the other resting on his chest.. both shocked.

Riddhima was all in a mood to shout at him but the look on his face quietened her.. Armaan was gazing at her like she was nothing he'd seen before. It was a look of complete adoration which worked in his favour as she forgot to yell at him. Their eyes met in a love filled eyelock.. and would have gone on if that wobbly vase hadn't crashed and broken itself and their moment. Instantly Ridhhima realized the awkwardness of her
position blushing hard at his intent gaze tried to get up but Armaan refused to let go holding her tightly, an arm around her waist another at her back, Smiling widely he tucked the hair veiling her face behind her ear, his fingers brushed her soft cheek turning her crimson making her heart go wild with his soft caresses.

" Tumhe kahin lagi to nahi ? " he asked bringing her out from her dreamy state.

" Yeh to mujhe tumse puchna chahiye Mr. Superman. Agar thoda aur zor se girte na to koi na koi haddi zaroor tuut jaati.. Or has it already broken " She tried standing up but Armaan pulled her back again.

" Darling if you promise to land in my arms every time, I'm ready to fall thousand times and break all my bones..." Ridhhima chuckled at his filmy dialogue but still it sent another wave of blush on her cheeks.

" Armaan can you be any more filmy. Hato, what if someone see us like this.. They will be here for dinner any moment what will they think hmm. "

" Simple. That husband wife are romancing. What else! " He pulled her even closer Ridhhima slapped his shoulder playfully " No, they would say how shameless we are. Just back from honeymoon and still.. Now let go of me Mr. Romantic and get up. "

" Wifey why you have to be such a non romantic Hitler yaar " he pouted at the missed opportunity of romancing. Ridhhima grinned as she unclasped his hold around her.

Ridhhima stood up extending her hand for him to stand up. Armaan sighed and took it but as soon as he did he cried out with pain. Ridhhima quickly made him sit on the sofa and on checking upon found that in an attempt of being Superman he'd twisted his ankle.

" Huuuh dekha apne hero banne ka nateja..." ignoring his cries she rotated the foot to check, fearing a break " it's just a sprain " she stood up putting the leg on the couch.

" Just a sprain ! Then why the hell it hurts so much !? " he rubbed it frowning.

" To remind, that you are not exactly Superman and since you can't fly try not to be stupid next time." she had to supress her laugh as he mumbled something like unfair and stupid railings..

" Aaah Ridhhima plzz it hurts " Armaan cried out as she tried to rub some pain reliever on his swollen ankle.

" Sorry sorry, ab main aur dhyaan se karungi.. ab bilkul nahi dukhega " She again started massaging it gently.

" Nahi plz rehne do naa kya zarurat hai karne ki... Wo theek to tha " he made a pained face, apparently it was still hurting.

" Armaan, jaan.. It just need some messaging..." She saw that the ankle was still swollen even after the bandage and until it was attended  it would keep hurting him like hell..

Suddenly her thoughts went to the day when she tripped him knowingly in the garden and then pulled off the bandage from his arm mercilessly.. how badly it must've hurt him... the way he clutched her arm . Ridhhima shuddered thinking about it, the pain she caused him... A tear rolled down her eye which she wiped away quickly, but it was a moment too late. Armaan saw her and seeing her crying he forgot his pain.

He sat up " Ridhhima.. Kya hua ? Hey princess bolo naa kya hua why are you crying ?? " He gently held her hand wiping her tear with his thumb.

" Armaan maine tumhe bahut dukh pahuchaya hai naa... Kitna dard saha nahi tumne mere liye aur main sirf tumhe dard dene ke tarike sochti rahi... I'm so bad " she sniffed

" Heeey khabardaar agar meri princess ke baare main kuch kaha to..." Armaan tried lightening the situation but fresh tears rolled down from her eyes " heey Ridhhima.. Ridhhiimaa look here look at me..." He cupped her face making her look into his eyes " I've told you before never feel guilty about what happened before. That was past, let it go and besides you were right on your part. May be the way I handled the things.."

" You handled everything perfectly well. It was me who being stupid. I can see now, stubborn as I am I would've never accepted the fact that my so called love " she rolled her eyes at that " was not only cheating but had other big plans for me and his future. I'm glad what you did.. Or I'd have never got you. 'That' is the thing that really scares me " she hugged him
as he smiled caressing her hair.

" And that's why dear if I've to bear pain hundred times this, I'd gladly do that " he kissed her head softly.

" Noone can lay a finger on you till I'm here " she said, hugging him even tighter.

Armaan chuckled " that was supposed to be my line. Neway does that mean I don''t have to have this " he pointed at the tube in her hand.

Ridhhima immediately sat up straight wiping her tears away getting into I'm-your-doctor mode again " No way Mr.Malik you can't escape it, just lie back now..." she pushed him back gently. Armaan groaned " what happened to your I-won't-let-you-hurt promise "

" Wohi kar rahi hun. Agar abhi dhyaan nahi diya to baad main yeh aur swell up ho jayega and it would hurt even more. Phir achha lagega kya.."

" What happened to my sweet loving wife huh " he still wasn't giving up. Applying all the emotional blackmailing tactics.

" Wo bhi yahin hai, magar abhi I'm your doctor too, isliye chup chap lete raho " she ordered raising a finger.

" But it hurts " he made a baby face

" Awww pls shona I promise jyada nahi bas just a little, you are after all my sweet brave baby naa..." it always worked, emotional blackmail.

He pouted " okay but mujhe is bravery ka kuch inaam bhi to milna chahiye naa "

" Of course jo tum chaho. Theek hai kya chahiye ? " indulging him small talk she started appying the ointment.

His eyes lit up at the prospect " sach ?? "

Suddenly she realised what she'd said and was now having second thoughts about giving him such a promise. But that moment was gone and she couldn't back out now " Haan baba sach "

" Theek hai phir I want something nice and yummy and sweet.. That you won't let me have as much as I want " she was now getting impatient to do the bandage, and get out of a situation, as he was delaying it for the past half an hour but when he didn't demanded what she thought he would, she was kind of surprised. Disappointed. Relaxed.. But majorly surprised.

" Huh see it's all done.." she wrapped the ankle in crape bandage " did it hurt ? nahi naa. maine to pehle hi kahaa tha tum to bas aise hi..." She kept talking putting the lock and then got up to leave.

" Heyy my reward !? "

" Wahi to laane ja rahi hun " she knew he would demand for it instantly. No wonder he was all quiet and non fussy,she just didn't understand him and ice cream fixation !! wasn't it suppose to be a girly thing.

" Where are you going ? It's right here. "

" Here ?? Yahan ice cream kahan hai Armaan ? " she looked around half expecting him to unveil his secret ice cream cupboard.

" Wait a minute.. Tumse kisne kaha ki I want ice cream ! " She was confused but before she could even think he pulled her hand making her land straight into his arms " Armaaan !! What are you doing ?? "

" Taking my reward hun.." And saying so he gave a naughty smile. Ridhhima knew immediately her mistake and his actual reward. Now she knew very well what this yummy thing would be. Well he was right. Putting her arms around his neck she pulled him closer, soon his lips covered hers into a kiss which grew more intense and more passionate with every second... It was only the lack of air that broke the kiss which would have been otherwise continued..

She hid her face into his chest breathing heavily, blushing profusely turning crimson with heat that rose to her face

" Oye hoyee " Armaan whispered in her ear kissing it. Ridhhima could not lift her eyes and hugged him tightly while he laughed softly with feeling of contentment and endless love in his heart..

Armaan managed a day at the office in his soft moccasins, only after lot of begging and pleading because Ridhhima wanted him to stay at home till at least the swelling was down.. But she had to give in. It was her day at the hospital and Muskaan being away for annual charity stuff there was no one to keep an eye on him at home. She knew he would slip off once she was gone. So, allowed him a day with a promise to follow all her instructions and to stay at home the next day if she felt his ankle wasn't okay..

It was that day. A nice cold rainy morning, the ankle was nearly healed but he just gave it as an excuse to stay at home with her.. Now looking out in the garden the grass soaked, almost drowned, in heavy downpour Armaan wondered why people, himself included but before, associated rain with gloom and mess and fuss. He would love to go out and get wet, dance shout and jump in the small puddles of water, act total crazy! Ridhhima was right. It was lovely, everything got fresh and clean. No wonder she loved this season and it would be even more fantastic when she'd join him for some rain masti.. His eyes lit up with naughty thoughts feeling so glad that he stayed at home.. And the stay was all the more welcome as there was noone to disturb them. Not even Martin. It was his day off. Yippee !

Armaan looked down at Leo, sitting by his chair in the study. As he got up Leo raised his head asking ' what do you have in mind my nutty master ? '.. " Well, till Ridhhima gets free why not we boys have some fun! " he winked and since both of them knew each other pretty well- you know, the man-dog relationship- Leo jumped up trotting behind slightly limping goofy grin Armaan. Leo got pretty excited over an opportunity of a walk, he was fed up sitting there not allowed in the kitchen with Ridhhima, no Angel to play with, no Martin to trouble, no Maria to treat him and a boring Armaan with his face buried in a file, until now. 'God bless this man !', Leo thought, 'He could do with a shower. That manly smell ughh !' Leo wondered what his mistress found so attractive in it, he on the other hand smelled much better.. Ask all the bitches who eyed him like he's a candy or something whenever he went out for a walk, especially that Mr. Kocher's hottie Mabel.. And he wasn't even an year old !.. Leo grinned to himself..' ha ! I'm going to beat you in this department master '..

But all thoughts of competition vanished as soon as they stepped into the garden. Armaan walked in the middle with arms spread wide as if welcoming a dear one, facing the sky he smiled feeling the drops on his face. It was nice. Very nice.

An equally excited Leo broke his reverie. He was holding a small ball in his mouth, tail wagging splashing thick drops horizontally.. Armaan obliged. Both went total crazy.. Playing fetch.. then football, then jumping in the puddles.. Wrestling.. Running around zigzag with arms open wide -only Armaan's- imitating an aeroplane and Leo following like its tail.. Anyone witnessing the scene would have, without hesitation, given Armaan the certificate of highest degree of lunacy. And Leo, well he'd have been kept in chains for the rest of his life without the chance of breeding. One was enough !

Wiping her hands on a towel Ridhhima came out of the kitchen looking for Armaan, she'd decided to cook something nice for him since he was home.. Her smile widened remembering how he faked pain, she could clearly see through his excuse but didn't had the heart to bust it. It was just a matter of day after all !.. Not that he was missing any of the office action, glued to his lappy since morning !.. Stepping in the study she found it empty, thinking he might've gone out for something she checked in the rooms.. Then the hall, library, entertainment room, games room even gym.. But he was nowhere. Ridhhima was surprised, just a while ago he was so busy with his work in there and now.. pufff ! Vanished !

" Yeh Armaan bhi na.." she shook her head in annoyance " kahin kitchen main to.." immediately an image of Armaan hiding behind the kitchen counter with an ice cream bucket flashed before her eyes.. " Armaaann " she groaned rushing to the kitchen, it was a strong possibility.

She was on her way selecting the words to yell at him with when passing through a corridor her eyes fell on the garden outside.. Ridhhima hit her forehead exhaling a sigh.. Out there in the garden was The Great Armaan Mallik of Mallik empire busy wrestling with his dog Leo, trying to snatch a rubber ring from him. Both rolled over and over in the grass all covered in mud and soaked in rain.. Ridhhima had seen enough. If her husband wanted to be a kid -a reckless kid, she didn't know what else to say- then fine ! He'll get what kids get in similar situation.

Grabbing an umbrella she headed to the garden, all set to give a good dose to Mr-I'm-enjoying-rain-but-going-to-trouble-my-wife-later-Mallik. As if that ankle wasn't enough !

" Armaan ! " she called. He didn't listen. " Arrmaaannn !! " this angry yell worked. He fell on his bums lying flat on his back holding the rubber ring high like a trophy.. Apparently she shouted so loudly that even Leo was startled and immediately let go of the ring, which Armaan took as his victory. Men !.. But soon the moment of triumph passed. As soon as he realized whose voice it was he stood up in a flash dropping the ring behind.. Ridhhima did not ease her stern gaze at his fake grin which soon faded away.. And he knew he was in biiigg trouble.

Ridhhima stood before him sheltered under a big green umbrella eying him sternly while Armaan stood there with his head bowed hands at the back like a school boy about to get punishment for something he wasn't suppose to do..

" What are you doing out here in the rain, if I may ask " her stern look and cold tone weren't a good sign at all.

" Ridhhima main.. Wo.." he raked his brains to find some convincing excuse quickly. " w..wo.. Actually main.. Yeah ! I was looking for my pen ! " his face lit up at this instant excuse. Something was better than nothing.

" Pen ??! " Ridhhima raised a brow hearing it.

" Yes.." his confidence not so strong but now that he'd stupidly blurted it he'd to solidify the reason " Wo actually abhi thodi daer pehle main yahaan aaya tha to.. To wo gir gaya.. And it's my favourite.. Lucky pen, so I was looking for it... " he drawled at the end.

" Kahaan dhund rahe the Armaan. Leo ke muh main ! " and with this he knew his excuse bombed. But could he stop being Armaan..

" Actually it's not all my fault.." Ridhhima shook her head sarcastically, waiting for another meaningless explanation " it's Leo's fault. He pulled me out here !. Bad boy Leo! Very bad ! " Leo's head jerked at him along with Ridhhima's. This was certainly new. Leo growled at this big fat liar of a master !

" Armaan you are the world's most pathetic liar. Did you hear what you just said ! A dog pulled you out here !! Here ?! " he nodded but one stern look from those narrowed eyes and Yes quickly changed to No " tumhe aakhir aise idea aate kahan se hain ! Look at yourself ,it's nearly freezing " he was shivering badly with teeth chattering. She can't let him stay here a minute.

" But t..tumne hi to kaha tha us din ki.. Ki.. R..rain iss yyour fav..favourite season" he said between chattering

" So you came out to experiment ! Do you see me out here ? This is it Armaan Mallik!. Inside. Right Now.! " O-oh full name in that tone. Not good. With this stern order and deadly glare he thought it was wise to follow them quietly. Leo thought so too and both marched towards the house with bowed heads. Armaan turned to her trying to say something " Not a word. Seedha andar chalo " that shut him up immediately..

Coming inside she saw Leo following them to the room " You. Stay here! Tum bhi bahut naughty hote ja rahe ho. No snacks for you today " Leo whimpered but Ridhhima wasn't melting today. Handing him over to a servant she turned her focus to her darling husband who was waving at Leo grinning shamelessly.

" And you. " Armaan quickly pulled his hand down " you just get into the room. Then I'll show you.."

As soon as the words were out Armaan grabbed her from the waist making her crash on his firm chest " kya dikhana hai.. Anything special.." his cold hand caressed her cheek other moving on her bare waist made her shiver.. more with the touch and meaning it carried rather than their low temperature.. " is it private.. I'd love to have a private moment with my wife.." Her insides started heating up with his husky tone.. Her lips inches away from his, hands on his chest feeling the beating heart and those passionate grey eyes stirring a storm in her... She went mum.

And then..

The spell broke...

A loud sneeze, courtesy a wet wild man, brought the senses back to their place.. " Dekha!! Aur bano hero!. Cmmon " Snapping out of his spell she grabbed his arm making way to their room.

By the time she brought some dry clothes he'd sneezed 10 times and was shivering badly. Pushing him in the bathroom for a quick warm shower she dashed to the kitchen to get something warm for him to drink.. No sooner he'd stepped out, all comfy in dry clothes, he looked around for Ridhhima... she stepped in a moment later carrying a bowl of steaming hot soup.. Handing him that her eyes fell on his still dripping hair " Armaan kam se kam sar to theek se sukha lete ! "

Making him sit on the corner of the bed she took the matter in her hand and started drying his hair herself. He saw her nose scrunched eyes narrowed and she still mumbled incoherently.. " Ridhhima.."

" What ? " it came out little sharply than intended.

He gulped, bracing himself making a sweet innocent face he looked up at the towering figure " Ridhhima.. Are you angry with me ? "

" Angry ?? Why would I be angry with you ? "

He couldn't make out if she was being sarcastic or suffered from temporary memory loss " Wo.. Main.. Bahar baarish main.. You know.." he quickly made the cute face again.

Ridhhima suppressed her smile. Exhaling a sigh she sat by his side cupping his face " Armaan, jaan can I ever remain angry with you.. It's just I was worried, you know na how easily you catch cold and this is not the weather to experiment with. Do you know hospital is flooded with sick people cause of rain.."

He knew she was genuinely concerned. Covering her hand with his he smiled softly " I'm sorry.. I won't do it again.. Not till you are with me " he winked, back being his naughty self and both burst out laughing. She made him have all the soup. She tried tucking him in warm covers but he refused until she joined him. Result. Both lay in bed, Armaan's head resting on her chest an arm around her all tucked cozily enjoying gentle fingers in his hair.. He gave a big yawn and slowly drifted off to sleep... Ridhhima kept running fingers in his hair an arm over his hugging him closely she remembered all his naughty acts she witnessed today and laughed softly.. He could never change, nor she wanted to.. Planting a kiss on his head she closed her eyes for the best nap ever..

A soft knock at the door woke her up, Armaan was still in deep slumber lying on his stomach a limp arm still holding her. When it knocked again she got off the bed quietly placing his favourite pillow under his arm, stretching she opened the door..

" kya Ridhhi main kabse knock kar rahi hun, kitne gadhe ghode baech kar so rahi thi huh ? Or were you busy busy hmm " Muskaan as usual didn't gave her time to open her mouth and ended teasing her.

" Araam se bhabhi ! Main aa hi rahi thi, and I wasn't busy just taking a nap, aap bhi na.."

" Yeah yeah I know. How's Armaan ? Is his leg okay ? "

" Yeah leg is fine but you know him na. After you were gone he went out dancing in rain with Leo! I just hope I caught him in time "

Muskaan laughed heartily as she gave the details of Armaan Leo rain romance " that must've been a sight ! Pity, I missed it " Muskaan tried controlling her giggles while Ridhhima rolled her eyes taking an eager Angel in her arms " Achha I need your help, we are donating stuff for poor people and selling that can fetch some money for different charities. Can you come with me and help me sort out some stuff we can give away. This Martin ka bachha had to have his off day today " Ridhhima nodded sympathetically. By this time she has learnt one thing- Martin won't budge to meet God on his day off let alone mortals!

Ridhhima chuckled at the thought " of course bhabhi. I'll be with you in a minute "

As promised she was there before the store room. Now wearing a t-shirt and jeans instead of saree. Muskaan carried Angel along who wasn't in a mood to let her mother out of sight today. Thanks to Martin's obsessive ordering disorder things were not in a haphazard condition. The big hall of a store room had everything covered in white and plastic sheets looking as if they were just unloaded off a truck and were now waiting to be kept at places in the house. The baby too seemed got infected with Muskaan's charity bug and kept throwing things in their direction she thought she could give away, mostly her toys that Muskaan brought along. Thankfully she couldn't hold anything heavy. Moreover, with her newly acquired talent of walking few steps at a time Angel was more than eager to help them out, often putting in a word of advice in her baby babble. That provided entertainment enough even though it was getting difficult by the minute to keep her in check. Finally Muskaan could bear no longer and had to make an SOS call to the nanny... Handing her over a screaming baby ,who was reluctant to let go of the stuff which she'd somehow fished out from god knows where, Muskaan took a deep breath giving in to the demands of an 8 month old turning her attention to the work at hand frowning at giggling Ridhhima

" I'd love to see what you do when you get in the same position " Ridhhima blushed and suddenly found something in other corner very interesting. It was Muskaan's turn to smile.

Though she thought she'd taken care of everything yet it seemed Ridhhima underestimated some 'sensitive' issues..

The day went fine and things were nothing less than perfect. However as the next day came to end the situation changed. As usual Armaan came to pick her up from the hospital but the moment Ridhhima laid her eyes on him she knew something was just not right.. Weariness was all over his pallor and speaking was an unwanted effort, his nose was red and she kept shifting in his seat restlessly. Ridhhima knew it was the aftermath of the rain dance. She kept the observations to herself waiting till they reached home. No use of shouting now, she was more worried about what was to follow..

Her fears proved right and within minutes she found him down with fever. She wanted to yell and remind him of not to do list but stopped seeing his condition.. It was a relief that she caught him on time and things didn't get out of hands so much. Fed with food and medicines Ridhhima took away all his gadgets ordering him to sleep right away, neither he was in a condition to protest. So, he did as directed... But the workaholic in him was back and the morning started with a cry of war..

" But I have tons of things to take care of and you'd be away at the hospital whole day what's the point in staying at home ! " he tried getting up sniffing but Ridhhima pushed him back firmly.

" Yes there is. Even I have work but I'm going to stay home too. I'll just make a call that I won't be coming to the hospital today. So you better stay there in bed and don't lecture me about important work ! I have lives to save unlike you who take them away with your dreadful looks "

" Hey ! These are charming looks okay.. And I won't be leaving and also will stay in bed.. Only, if you join me. I promise I won't come out till you kick me. As long as you stay, I stay " he winked giving a cheeky reply.

" Ha ha. Nice try. Here, have this remote for your company. I'll check what Martin has prepared for breakfast " and she left the room

Breakfast went well but he refused to have poison - medicines- till she declared that she was fed up and since he was all okay she's going to stay with her parents for a week. His jaw dropped hearing it and Ridhhima grabbed the opportunity to push the medicines in his mouth. He couldn't decide whether to feel relieved that she was lying about going or shout on what she just did.

But Ridhhima didn't wait for the reaction and kissed his frowning face before moving out for an errand. She laughed when she heard him shout in squeaky voice- cold you see. " Heyy I'm not kidding about that staying in bed with me whole day part ! you're booked. No exceptions. I want you back in 5 okay ! " and he smiled too, It's hard to get angry at a wife like her. Especially when the prospects were so bright. So, meanwhile he resolved to do what he was allowed- watch TV.

Few minutes later when Ridhhima returned carrying some fruits she found him asleep already.. Tired and sick he was, he dozed off while watching TV. Gently she took the remote from his hand turning off the TV and was about to settle by his side wanting nothing but to watch him sleep, it had been days since she'd admired him that way, when her vibrating cell phone broke her thoughts. It was from the hospital. Reluctantly she picked it up walking away so as not to disturb him. It was what she dreaded- an emergency. A critical accident case and the doctor in charge wasn't available.

Ridhhima looked at sleeping Armaan. She knew he was joking and teasing all this while but he wasn't that well and she didn't wanted to leave his side for a second in such a condition but on the other hand that person was swaying between life and death.. When the nurse spoke again Ridhhima realised she hadn't said anything in reply..

" But doctor Ridhhima Dr. Narang is in surgery and he'll be taking over the case as soon as he gets free.. the intern won't be able to handle the case alone he needs supervision "

" And how long will that be ? " Ridhhima asked

" Probably an hour.. Not more " Ridhhima calculated, an hour for surgery half an hour break and if she takes the travel time she won't be away for more than couple of hours. Armaan won't even notice she was gone plus it was matter of life and death for someone, he'd understand. She agreed to be there in 15 minutes.

She went up to Armaan tucked him well checked for his fever, it hadn't subsided, she hoped the medicines would kick in soon. Placing his long pillow under his arm she reluctantly got away from him. Hurrying down to her car she gave truck load of instructions to Martin informing him about the situation. How she wished Muskaan had not left for the charity function preparation so early.. Now she wanted nothing more than to quickly check on the patient and rush back home.

Some connections are beyond the measures of human understanding. Armaan Ridhhima shared one such. It was as if telepathic, within 15 minutes of her leaving the house Armaan stirred uneasily. He woke up with a start like someone shook him up, his head throbbed slightly and one nostril that was blocked was proving really troublesome. He sat up and looked around. Ridhhima wasn't there, thinking that she still hadn't come back he waited sitting up a little.. His eyes fell on the clock. It showed few minutes to 10. Armaan sighed, he had an important meeting planned for today, reports and presentations too.. Rahul was busy already with new project his dad had old ones to take care of and BP was not even in the country plus there were things he knew only he could get done in the way he wanted them to be done but his stupidity landed him in bed. The only consolation was Ridhhima. He must have her around or the thought of work at office will drive him crazy.

But where was Ridhhima ? Ofcourse there wasn't anything that would keep her for so long. He punched few numbers on the intercom asking them to send Ridhhima to the room immediately.

But this was one order they couldn't comply...

" Where the hell is Ridhhima ?! " he roared while trying her number again. It was out of coverage. " I want Martin. Here. Now ! " poor servant gulped and scurried off before he was devoured alive.

15 minutes later Armaan stormed out of the house clutching a little white packet in his fist. He banged the car door shut scaring the driver with an order in his harsh tone. His expression sullen. It wasn't the day to cross Armaan Malik.

" God help us all ! " Martin whispered under his breath. He knew only too well that someone was going to be on the receiving end and prayed for him/her. Also thanking god that it was not him.

Ridhhima came out of the ICU hurrying through the corridors. She wanted to be back home as soon as possible, all this while she was thinking about Armaan dying to call back home to check if he was okay. What she saw didn't help her ease. There were 29 missed calls. 9 from Armaan 8 from Martin and rest from Muskaan.

" What the hell happened ?? " praying she quickly dialled home..

Martin appeared in no time before Armaan. He only wished he'd spoken to Armaan first, cursing himself for not warning others what might happen. He was on the doorsteps when he heard Armaan's thunderous voice, he was pacing about like a very angry lion and someone, Martin was sure, was going to be killed..

" Sir, you are not well. Please lie down, I'm right here for.."

" Where is Ridhhima ? " Armaan didn't let him complete. Martin knew he cannot be pacified today.

" Madam just went out to the hospital. She told me that it's an emergency and she was urgently required "

" Did the call came while you were around ? "

" No sir. I wasn't " Martin stood there waiting anxiously for something to happen. Roar, crash, yell..

" Tell the driver to be ready. I'll be there in 15 minutes " with that he stormed out. This was worse than any of options Martin thought.

As soon as Ridhhima got through Muskaan who was now back, she came to know that Armaan wasn't at home. Muskaan not having witnessed or briefed about the scene after Ridhhima left was unable to give any more details.

" It's okay bhabhi I'll be back home in 20 minutes " putting the phone in her bag she hurried to her car " Armaan Mallik you are so going to have a peice of my mind today. Told you not to and still ! You brat ! " she kept mumbling unaware that she the moment she left home she invited sunami..

On her way back she kept calling Armaan but he didn't picked any of her calls. This added to her worry...

" Please god let him be okay " the anger was now taken over by worry and anxiety.

" Thank god you are back Ridhhi ! You have no idea what happened " inspite of trying her best Ridhhima could not return at the expected time. Bloody traffic jam ! She was stuck for about an hour. Moreover, Kavita could not put her through to Armaan who she said was very busy and didn't look good.. She would have talked more but had loads to do most of what sounded impossible. Sympathising with the poor secretary she cut the call and tried Armaan's number again. He didn't answer any.

" Bhabhi I had an emergency and that traffic.. What happened ?? " throwing away her bag Ridhhima rushed to Muskaan.

" It's not good " Muskaan's tone created unbearable suspense.. She narrated everything how after Ridhhima had left Armaan woke up and asked for her, he didn't liked the fact that she wasn't around and left the house in a very angry sullen mood. The one which was rare and most terrible..

Ridhhima sighed and collapsed in the nearby sofa " it's all my fault. I should've never gone especially after telling him that I would stay with him.. The patient wasn't even that bad only that new intern panicked and.." she sighed " he's not even taking my calls.. "

" Is he ?? I just talked to him few minutes ago," Ridhhima sat up hearing it.

" He took your call ! He didn't even returned mine ! nor any messages I left with Kavita "

" Just can't understand him sometimes.. he sounded so rough and sullen ! Thank god I'm not there. Here, take my cell phone and try again. Something tells me that this time he'll pick up "

" What makes you sure about it ? "

" Cause everytime I called he asked me the same question- if you were back.."

Armaan paced restlessly in his room. His cellphone clutched tightly ready to answer- or cut- any call. He was mad. So mad right now. All he wanted was simple thing- for her to stay by his side. Was that unreasonable ? With his work and her hospital duty they got so less time together and honeymoon seemed ages ago. He never once complained. Never once told her to leave that dreadful place, she was a billionaire's wife for god's sake what was the need ! But respecting her choice and hardwork he complied.. But it seemed he had taken second position in her priorities. And he didn't like to be second in anything.

Somewhere in at the back of his mind he knew he was being childish and stupid but for reasons unknown he suddenly craved her company, needed to be around her. Like he was surrounded by dementors and she was his patronus.

After waiting for two hours she called him back but by then his anger was at its height. He refused to take her calls and ordered Kavita to not to forward him any.. Muskaan called him several times but didn't had the answer he wanted to hear.

A viberating cell phone brought him back " Yes Muski, what's it now. I told you I'm okay like that matters to your darling sister-In- law!! "

He didn't expect to hear that voice " yes It matters Armaan.."

" Oh it's you.. so you remember me huh! How come you're back so soon, forgot something ? " Ridhhima could feel his anger in the sarcastic tone. She now really regretted leaving him.

" Armaan why are you not at home ? You know you are not well and I told you.. You promised me you would not worry about work and stay at home "

" Don't tell me to stop worrying Ridhhima! Did you forget your work !? No. You prefer to forget me!! "

" Armaan ! I.." but no matter how annoyed she was right then , she preferred not to lose her calm " Armaan stop being a baby and come back home right now "

" I'm not coming back ! You did your work let me do mine. And don't call me again and again. I'm fine. Absolutely fine ! now stop babying me !! "

" Armaan main to.."

" Kuch main to wo to nahi ab phone rakho mujhe aur bhi kaam hain and I'm sure tumhare patients tumhara wait kar rahe honge..." And before she could say a word he cut the call holding his throbbing head in his palms...sniffing, almost gasping for air. Nothing was going according to plan today... First she goes away leaving him alone at home then pesters him with these calls!. He was so mad at her, how can she just leave him ! she made him stay home and then left him to go to hospital !! Fine ! if she does everything according to her wishes so can he... Armaan decided he's not going to go home instead would stay late...

" I won't do anything she says " he took out few medicines that Martin gave him saying she instructed him to have and threw them away in the dustbin angrily.. " This will teach her a lesson. "

He picked up the phone and barked orders at Kavita to call a quick meeting of the executives, they have all become lazy... He also ordered a surprise inspection ,a presentation to be submitted to him in three hours another meeting with finance department and lot of files which he wanted to have a look at immediately...

The ever efficient secretary gulped. She knew that this cranky Malik will rest only if the work goes according to his orders or if he fires someone. She prayed to make him calm down... Or someone was going to be eaten up alive...

Armaan by now had already scolded head janitor for already gleaming office not being clean enough, his security men for not wearing uniform properly..well two of their buttons were open... Kavita for not bringing the files as soon as the words were out of his mouth, his executives for not coming up with cost effective ideas and soon Virendra and Rahul joined the list when they were scolded for being linient with the staff and they too were bit hesitant to come before him... Sameer and Rahul had given up trying to calm him down..

Rahul worried that at this rate he won't be able to save many jobs today, latest was a man who was talking to his wife...

Armaan was walking by the staff cabins when he heard this executive talking on phone As soon as Armaan came to know that he was talking to his wife coz he had fever yesterday and she was asking if he was okay, his anger doubled up . He became jealous of that man and burst out angrily saying he should have stayed at home if he wasn't well and this was not a place nor time to chat with her... The man gulped and apologised just when he was about to fire him Rahul came there and controlled the situation, somehow managing to divert Armaan from there...

The news of Armaan being in his rarest super duper cranky moods spread like fire in the jungle... Everybody ran from the place where he was supposed to pass all the pending work was completed at super fast speed and along side prayers were chanted to calm this angry scorpion who could sting anyone to death who dared cross his path... Within no time the whole office was turned upside down ,terror quiet visible on everybody's face as they were quiet scared what will happen if he decided to pass by their side called for something or do an inspection. Rahul was flooded with explainations- some genuine, some not- and requests to calm him down. Ultimately Virendra and Rahul were left with no choice but to make the SOS call..

" Plz. Ridhhima do something! abhi tak he has fired about eighteen people including our chief finance officer who has been fired twice !! "

" What ?! " Ridhhma couldn't believe her ears and idocity of her husband. Poor people !

" Haan, plz tum jaldi aa jao... Pata nahi aakhir use ho kya gaya hai...?? Bas yahi bole ja raha hai ki sab yahaan apni marzi chala rahe hain koi uski nahi sunta..." she felt guilty with every word Rahul uttered, somehow she was the reason those people lost their jobs.

" Bhaiyya.. bhaiyaa main bas dus minute main pahunch rahi hun.. Mujhe pata hai use hua kya hai " she sighed, it was time to take matters in her hands.

" Thank god ! Please be quick or I'll be next in line. Imagine he refused to see me! " she could sense annoyance frustration and concern in his voice.

" Bhaiyaa plz uska thoda dhyaan rakhiyega mere aane tak. Uski tabiyat thodi theek nahi hai..." her worries rising by the minute.

" Yeah I could see that!, infact I was surprised when I saw him here. Why the hell did you even let him come in the first place ?! " his concern for his brother raised his voice.

" No bhaiyya, Don't worry it's nothing serious. Main aapko aa kar sab batati hun..." Ridhhima quickly cleared. She was not that capable enough to handle two cranky Maliks. Asking her to come as soon as possible Rahul disconnected the call, probably went away to save someone's job.

Ridhhima turned to Muskaan " Muski bhabhi.."

" Maine suna... you hurry up warna wahaan pata nahi kya ho raha hoga " she smiled holding her hand and Ridhhima ran out to go to the office.. " And call me if you need help !! " she shouted at rushing Ridhhima, a hand raised in acknowledgement.

As soon as Ridhhima entered the office she could see the terror on everybody's face from guards to receptionist to- the ever cool, Sameer who came to receive her...

" Sameer what's the situation ? " she asked as they both hurried to nearest lift.

" Its terrible ! Never seen him like this ever before. He refused point blank to meet either senior Malik or Rahul..."

She groaned inwardly, kicking herself mentally for leading him to such a situation... The lift stopped at 42nd floor where his office was... All the staff members stood up wishing her, they looked even more terrified than the staff downstairs. She ignored the wave of whispers and quickly headed to Armaan's room.

Rahul appeared by her side instantly " thank god Ridhhima tum aa gayi ! " he gave her a side hug feeling somewhat like a drowning man who has just seen a rescue boat.

" How's Armaan bhaiyya..?? "

They started walking together " bas puchho mat abhi thoda shant hai after firing two more staff members.. Aakhir hua kya hai ?? he was normal at home.. I thought he would be resting ! "

" Bhaiyaa.. actually wo mujhse naraaz hai. Hua yeh ki..." And she narrated everything to him that how she was called up for an emergency and he woke up after her and is mad at her " aur bhaiyya mera gussa hi wo aap sab par utar raha hai.."

" Uff yeh Armaan bhi naa !!.. Plz sambhalo use. We can't lose any more of our staff "

" Okay " she reached the reception desk and met Kavita- his secretary, who stood up immediately greeting her.

" Maam sir abhi ek executive ke saath hain aur unhone kisi ko bhi andar bhejne ke liye mana kiya hai..." she looked haggard even with a slight wave of relief that washed her face seeing Ridhhima.

" I.." Just then she heard someone shouting inside. Kavita gulped whereas Ridhhima exhaled, thinking furiously how she will manage his anger...

A man came out of the office holding few files almost on the verge of crying, seeing Ridhhima he gave a weak smile and she returned it back trying to assure him..

" What happened Mr.Chatterji " Rahul stepped ahead

" Sir.. sir wo... Armaan sir fired me "

" What ??! you too..?! For what ?? "

" For asking more time to do some files... Sir mujhe wo files kal hi mile aur itne jaldi crores ka hisaab main kaise check kar leta..." He was their chief accountant.

Rahul looked at Ridhhima, the way which said 'see what I told you...'. It was enough now. He need not punish others for no fault of theirs. Ridhhima took a deep breath and marched towards his cabin with determined steps. She must put some sense into that thick skull of his. Without knocking entered his cabin. Rahul and Sameer stood transfixed while Chatterji made a cross and Kavita folded her hands looking up mumbling a prayer..

" Who is it ?! Maine kaha tha naa mujhe kisi se nahi milna " Armaan shouted from his chair behind the desk that faced the wall.

" Main kisi nahi hun Armaan " her soft firm reply made him turn immediately. His surprise look quickly changed to cold angry glare. Clearly, he wasn't expecting her. Nor seemed pleased...

" Oh, its you. What are you doing here ? Isn't there work enough at hospital or are you on call." she was just thinking about Rahul's call when he added " Someone dying..? " his tone was smooth but angry sarcasm dripped from every syllable..

" Noone's dying, but someone is surely killing " ' Keep your cool Ridhhima. He's sick and angry..' She repeated in her mind. He didn't said a word when she took a seat opposite him pulled a phone kept by his side and punched a number. " Kavita, I don't want anyone to disturb us.." she looked up into his eyes " we need to talk " Armaan's eyes narrowed a little. Battle was on.

" There will be no talking. And please leave right now! I have work to do.. Of course, you'll understand. Busy person like you.."

" I'm not leaving, until its with you " Ridhhima said, ignoring the sarcasm.

" Yeah, right !" Armaan scoffed, turning cold again " didn't I tell you. Stop babying me !! "

" Then stop acting like one ! "

" Excuse me ! I'm the one acting immature here ! Me ?? What about you Ms.Carefree bird ? Why bother to come now ? " he burst out.

" Because I have a husband who's bit angry with me right now and I'm worried cause he's unwell too "

" Yeah, like that makes any difference to you ! Well or unwell does it matter ?There are other people, better people, to take care of ! Why bother with the one at home ! And 'bit angry' is not the term I'd use right now " he leaned forward pointing a finger at her, lashing out all his anger.

" Huh.. Armaan plz meri baat to suno.."

" No you listen to me! I had work too. Loads of work, but I listened to you. Why ? cause you wanted me to stay.. I clearly told you that you should be there but did you listen to me !? Why should I leave my work when you don't. For any- god -damn -reason ! " he banged his fist on the table slightly startling Ridhhima. But she held her ground.

" Please let me explain Armaan.." she pleaded " I know you wanted me to stay and I wanted too, but that intern panicked and the other doctor in charge was in surgery. Main kya karti. It was an emergency.."

" Ha ! Emergency ! ek tum hi to doctor ho naa pure hospital main ! " he retorted

" No I'm not. But you were sleeping and I was going to be back in an hour or two anyway " she explained calmly.

" Perfect opportunity for you to sneak away. Isn't it ? You know you blame me for being a workaholic but you are the one who is totally obsessesed with your work " annoyed he got off the chair and started pacing around. " are you after sainthood ? "

She was loosing her composure too. Was he mad ?! Sainthood ?! where the hell did that come from.. " I'm not after sainthood Armaan. I can't believe you are saying this ! " she took a deep breath, rising from her chair to start again " Armaan that was my patient.. I'm answerable for his condition, main aise kaise usko chhod deti, uski zindagi aur maut ka sawaal tha " she kept a hand on his shoulder looking at his face " believe me agar important nahi hota to main nahi jaati " she added softly hoping he'll recognize the sincerity of her words.. He didn't.

" Haan that's the only thing important for you isn't it! " he shrugged off her hand slumping in the couch nearby " usi ki zimmedari hai na tumhare paas, tumhare liye main to kuch bhi nahi hun " he didn't knew what he was saying he was just too angry " uski zindagi aur maut ka sawaal tha aur main mar jaata to koi baat nahi."

" Armaan !! " Ridhhima cried, looking at him sharply. She trembled hearing what he had just said. He crossed limits now. Armaan fell quiet seeing her looking at him gravely, he knew in an instant that probably he'd said too much, he bowed his head feeling the twitch of guilt. Somewhere he knew he was being absurd but his anger silenced that voice of reason. He sniffed stealing a glance and found her still staring at him... But now he felt weak. It had been a tiring day. He took a deep breath. For a moment none spoke. Ridhhima walked by his side sitting next to him.

" How can you even say such a thing Armaan ! " he could see the hurt in her eyes and lowered his gaze " let me make this thing clear for once and all. Never ever say such a thing again ! And I mean it Armaan. You mean more than my life to me.." he remained silent but she knew the point was noted. His weary face brought back her concern " Cmmon Armaan.. Stop being mad at me. I'm sorry! But you very well know you were, are and will be my top priority always.."

" No, I'm not. I just saw your priority list today " he said, not looking at her but kept holding her hand. She smiled, even when angry he could pout so adorably.

" Yes, you are. And you know this too. Please baby, I'm sorry.. Can we go home now.. Please.." cupping his face she made him face her.

" I'm still mad at you.." He sniffed exhaling deeply. He was really tired now.. Its no fun arguing when every pore of your body is screaming to shut your eyes and lie down in a nice soft bed with a fluffy pillow under your head.. A soft body spooning yours, gentle hands caressing your head while you inhale that soft soothing fragrance.. ' Cmmon Armaan, stop thinking about her! you're mad at her man ! she left you alone at home, remember. And you're sick!'

A small smile crept on her lips as she caught him in a brief moment with his guards down.. " cmmon lets go home.. And you can plan all the ways to fight with me on the way "

He didn't said anything when she kissed his forehead, only kept reminding himself that he was mad at her. Picking up his coat from behind the chair she held his arm, tugging it gently.. Armaan sighed, for a moment he didn't move debating whether he should give in or not..

" Cmmon jaan, lets go.." her soft voice put an end to the mental debate. And he got up moving out.. Worn and tired but not defeated.. Yet.. As he kept reminding himself,

Everyone looked surprised as he stepped out frowning. Virendra Rahul and Sameer looked so relieved and happy.. She signalled them through her eyes not to say anything.. They were also not in a mood to tickle this lion.. Rahul and Sameer were waiting for the elevator's door to close when she suddenly remembered " and oh bhaiyya !. Please let everyone know that noone got fired today " she got the glimpse of Rahul's smile just as the doors closed. Turning around she found him staring at her " What ?! Oh cmmon ! you didn't mean any of that ! " he just ever so slightly shook his head before resting it back and closing his eyes..

Round two clear. Winner- Wife !

On the way back Armaan didn't talk to Ridhhima and when she tried some small talk, turned her down saying he was tired and in no mood to talk.

" Fine! Then don't. Here." She placed a small pillow under his head cushioning it from getting banged in the window during the bumps " I just want to make sure that your dislodged brain doesn't stray any further from its location." he scowled but couldn't get any smart answer to that. So, lied back and closed his eyes trying not to shift closer and rest his head on her shoulder or worse, her lap.

As soon as he was back in the room the tie went flying to the west shoes to east and north and he himself crashed on the bed flat on his stomach clutching his pillow letting out a big sigh, What a relief ! This was heaven!. He closed his eyes to rest his throbbing head and before he knew sleep took over. Ridhhima on the other hand came back to the room as soon as she'd briefed Muskaan about what happened at the office. There she found him lying on the bed clutching his pillow and with the look he had on his face she knew instantly he didn't like the set up. Quietly she walked up to him and pulled off his socks raised the room temperature a little, he was just something! Had cold but still the air conditioner was set to the chilling point. Then without making much commotion she quietly slipped by his side pulling up the covers on him.. He was already asleep, not that soundly cause the moment she started caressing his head he turned over placing an arm around her waist snuggling close. Ridhhima smiled and making him rest his head on her chest she wrapped him in her arms.. hiding him from everything and everyone else.. kissing his forehead lovingly she let her lips rest there for a while, caressing his hair till the frown on his face vanished and she was sure he was soundly asleep...

He was awakened by some loud noises, focussing he recognized the sounds as loud baby babble with intermittent laughs, he recognised that too.. It was evening now, a glance at the watch told him that he'd slept for four hours straight. Something told him that the pillow lying next to him wasn't the reason for the bliss.. 'So it was her'. He thought. Who else it could be, and though his anger was ebbing Armaan planned not to lose all of it so soon. Freshning up he walked to the sitting area curious to see what was going on and found Angel sitting before Ridhhima apparently describing, selecting and discarding her toys from the small mountain piled up next to her. Ridhhima too was deeply involved offering her expert opinion- when required. Folding his arms across his chest he leaned on the door capturing a beautiful moment of two most beautiful women in his life. When the baby turned to fish out another toy Ridhhima's eyes fell on him and caught him smiling at them..

" Hey Angel ! Look who's here ! Biig baby " she winked at him picking up the baby in her arms.

" I'm not a baby ! " he protested

" Yesh you're right " Ridhhima waved Angel's tiny hand at him " Chachu is not a baby.. You know why pumpkin ? Coz he's a biigg baby !" as if she understood, Angel gave a loud crackle of laughter clapping her hands and Ridhhima joined her grinning.

" Don't bring the baby into this." he warned " you know I'm mad at you !"

But his words didn't seem to effect Ridhhima. Putting Angel back in her playpen she slowly walked upto him and kissed both his cheeks brushing his lips while moving from one to another. " Are you really ?.. Still.." she asked looking into his eyes, her soft tone with the sensuous touch wavered his already shaky determination.

" Ridhhi ! " she didn't break the eyelock until the voice called her again, now very near to the door " Ridhhii !! " Muskaan barged in with a pair of shoes in each hand. Instantly Armaan knew, there goes their moment.. *Sigh* " Red or white ? " she raised two sandals along with her eyebrows oblivious to what was going on just seconds before.

" Hmm " Ridhhima looked at them like they were some X-Ray reports " bhabhi where are those Jimmy Choo's you got last month. These are nice but those'll make a classy statement. Cmmon lets try on those " Muskaan listened like Ridhhima was the creator of thing called- Shoes. " yeah, I guess you're right. Cmmon, I can't stand that bitch Minocha gloat about her expert dressing style! I swear if she did that once more I'll tear off her dress hang her 'specially made on order shoes' around her neck ! And punch right on her big fat nose! Not to forget kick that ass ! " Ridhhima hid her grin at Muskaan's menacing tone. Really. she had to do something or Mrs. Minocha would be in a real trouble today and the charity function will turn out to be WWW- world women wrestling ground!!. Armaan didn't dare express any opinion, Muskaan's look told him the moment she entered that she didn't approve of what he did today but was quiet maybe coz he was sick or because Ridhhima told her so.. As they both turned to leave Muskaan stopped " Armaan look after Angel okay. And don't worry teri biwi ko bhaga kar nahi le jaa rahi just mere room tak ja rahi hai abhi aa jayegi "

" But Muski, you know it's not a good idea to leave Angel with me, I have cold ! What if.."

" I know " she interjected " I'm sending Sofia, she can keep an eye on 'both' of you "

" But I'm not a baby !! " without paying any attention to his cries they were out before he could even finish. He huffed and turned to Angel " I'm NOT a BABY ! 'you' are a baby! Huh! " but even Angel laughed. Her aunt was right. This was one big baby she got for an uncle.

Moments later Sofie, a prim middle aged lady with soft eyes entered the room. She was appointed just days after Angel was brought home and had proved very helpful since, for a 7-8 month old baby Angel was quiet handful. Armaan remembered what BP had said about this darling grand daughter of his ' The girl has some spark !' but it seemed spark was an understatement. She'd inhereted volcanic emotional eruptions of loud deafening wails, screeches and big fat tears from Muskaan and cold chilly glare of her father Plus her being ultra cute ensured that she got her way. Everytime.

With nothing else to do and noone to throw tantrums at Armaan brought his laptop and with feet resting on the table sat on the sofa watching Angel dish out and taste all her toys. Baby seemed really excited as she now had two people to watch her show unlike one like before.. Armaan smiled widely waving at the baby and got a two teeth smile in return. He could just imagine Rahul's plight when there would be a line of young men dying to court his little princess, that would be a sight !. And he would be standing next to his brother to punch some of them himself !. Grinning with sadistic pleasure he went back to his laptop.. Better finish something now before Ridhhima returned, cause she had lot of making up to do, this time he wouldn't be giving in so easily..

A sharp call from Sofie made him glance at their direction, he was listening for quiet sometime at her failing attempts to stop the teething baby from biting everything and anything lying before her, but then she must have put something wrong in her mouth calling for that sharp yell from otherwise calm Sofie.

Armaan left his laptop for the moment. It was a great scene to watch. A tug of war was going on between 40ish Sofie and 8 month old Angel. The baby's back was towards Armaan and he couldn't exactly make out what they were wrestling for but clearly baby was giving a tough fight.

" Noo Angel! It's dirty.. Leave it baby!.. Not in the mouth again!! " her tone exasperated. But Angel found a gap and grabbing the prize quickly turned to run away from her hold. Armaan who till now was marvelling at baby's strength and cleverness eagerly waited to see what held Angel's fancy now. He spread his arms calling her, worried she might fall on uncushioned area and hurt herself.

The baby saw Armaan as refuge and quickly staggered in his direction... And then, it flashed... He saw it.. It was right there in Angel's hand clutched tightly in her tiny fist.

Armaan froze. A buzz filled his ears muffling Sofie and baby's voices. It all happened as if in slow motion. There it was, a face that stared.. a smile that mocked.. eyes that bore into his.. He had no recollection when Angel came and stood by his knee beconing him to lift her up before Sofie could but something else had caught her darling uncle's attention... Armaan stared at it. It stared back.

For no apparant reason his heartbeat raised, he could see Sofie and Angel's lips moving but the voices he was hearing weren't the one they were making.. And then there they were, those blurred pictures.. That laugh.. That cry... The pain... He couldn't breathe. Vaccum filled the room choking him..

" Sir.. Sir ! " Sofie's loud call startled him. He lifted his gaze and found concerned doubtful look on her face clearly she was debating if she should call Ridhhima. Armaan was relieved that she hadn't already, beads of sweat had formed on his forehead and if the room had been quieter he was sure she could've heared his heart drumming against his chest." Sir, are you okay ?.. Should I call Maam.."

It was the last thing he wanted right now. He looked down at Angel now sitting by his feet busy playing with her favourite toy.. He wondered how it came there... Was it really what he thought.. Was it really His...

Paying no attention to Angel's protests he took away the stuffed toy from her tiny hands.. The baby burst into tears but Armaan made no attempts to pacify her or return the toy. " Sofie take her to Muskaan. She must be hungry.." A reason both knew wasn't true but Sofie complied anyway.

He raised the toy before his eyes. It was medium sized with it's bushy tail and soft mane.. He ran his fingers over his silky coat, hoping the touch would recall what eyes couldn't.. It did felt familiar.. The big black eyes seemed to accuse him for deserting an old faithful friend..but did he really deserted this 'thing' ??.. His eyes kept running over it bringing back something more.. In shreds... Then he saw something, a tiny gold medallion hanging from it's neck.. It sparkled as a ray of sunlight hit it's still shiny surface. Armaan read out the name engraved on it..

" Sherkhan.." he whispered

The lion now seemed to smile. After all these years a friend still remembered the other.

" Hey, look Armaan ! Angel is really taking after you." Ridhhima, back after mission Save Minocha from Muskaan, was tidying the room getting ready to call it a day when she found something lying on the floor, probably forgotten. Picking it up she pointing it to Armaan " you know bhabhi told me that her new favourite toy is this lion. God knows where she found it but isn't it just like yours !? The one you had when we were kids." she kept on talking hoping to lighten up his mood unaware that it wasn't helping " Remember.. Sherkhan, Mr. Mogli.." She laughed " I think I need to warn bhabhi. Angel just might not turn out to be a girly girl she so wanted. All thanks to you ! " she chuckled again placing the lion on the table.

" This isn't mine." Ridhhima turned hearing him speak, hoping for an improved mood, but it didn't look like by the sound of it " Sherkhan wasn't patchy. Which stupid person makes patchy lions ! It's ridiculous! It just has same name, that's all. "

" It's just a toy Armaan. And as long as kid loves something it's okay with me. Patch, no patch. What does it matter anyway ! " but Armaan didn't utter a word, he kept staring at the lion.. He had thrown it away after frustrating attempts to recall what he could just see in unclear flashes.. The animal seemed to remind him something but he just couldn't figure it out... And after a while he had given up, may be he just resembled the one he had and wasn't the same, except the name, or he'd have definitely remembered. Moreover, his lion wasn't patchy !. Ridhhima said it was like his lion but.. This wasn't his Sherkhan. It was just a manufacturing mistake which again mistakenly landed at their home otherwise everyone knows, Lions are never patchy.. But still something bothered him.. Why it felt so familiar like it had been by his side for years and that medallion around his neck.. Damn ! Why was he staring at him like that and why was there so much noise.. He shut his eyes tightly.. to clear away that noise.. those flashes. A moment later they were gone.. but one thing was clear.. This lion was not a good thing to keep around. It made him uncomfortable... Ridhhima was momentarily distracted by a call from Sapna and missed his reaction, turning back she found him frowning deeply twisting the TV remote in his hands and if it had life it would've been dead by now.

" Are you still angry with me Armaan ?" she asked softly. It was turning out to be one of the worse days of her life " Cmmon, I told you it was an emergency.. Someones life was at stake and I'm a doctor!.. What if, god forbid, someone ours needed help and the doctor opted to stay at home ! "

Her voice brought him to present. He sighed resignedly, ofcourse she didn't knew what he was thinking.. And it was better this way " I know. I know Ridhhima. That's your work.. Your job, your duty. Priority as a responsible doctor and.. I may have overeacted a little.." she was relieved that he was coming back to his normal self " but.." the frustration seeped back in his tone with a tinge of anger " But I really can't take it off my mind.. I don't know why ??!... When you left me sleeping like that it was like.. It was.. I donno. I felt stranded. Abandoned " his eyes told her that what words couldn't.. It was betrayal..

" I didn't abandon you Armaan.." she cupped his face sitting by his side " It wasn't like I left you and ran away with someone else!. I would have come earlier only I got caught up in traffic and you made such a big deal out of nothing.."

" It wasn't nothing Ridhhima !" he removed her hands looking away " It wasn't nothing ! You don't know how scared I was! I looked for you everywhere in the house. I tried to call you but your cell was out of reach, then you didn't answered... noone else was at home ! You didn't even left me a bloody note ! " he walked up to the window looking somewhere far " But how would you know, you weren't here.. You weren't with me.." his tone went soft but that sadness was hard to miss, he seemed to be far away from here..

Ridhhima was now lot more concerened, it didn't seem like he was angry any more on her leaving him today. She doubted if it was about that at all. This was something else.. " why were you scared Armaan ? What scared you ? Cmmon you can tell me.." she asked again softly " You know where I was, I told Martin before I left. Why were you upset then ?... Did you think that I would never return.."

He turned sharply hearing it, looking straight into her eyes.. his lips twitched as if trying to form words for his thoughts, but then said nothing.. It looked like he didn't knew what exactly she was asking or he was supposed to say.. He turned back again " I don't know.. Maybe I'm just... Tired.. I want to sleep " walking away from the window he came back to the bed. Ridhhima watched him silently. Still for a moment it seemed he was going to say something more.. But then he lied down and switched off the bedside lamp. " and for god's sake take away that lion! I'm not a baby any more ! I don't want any stupid toys here ! "

Ridhhima flinched at the sudden harsh tone, then saw him close his eyes frowning. She sighed, maybe she'd pushed him too far.. May be he was really upset at her leaving like that and she underestimated it,. maybe that lion was just a lion and she irritated him by making him recall a bad memory.. She turned and went away to change, thinking he might open up more when he's in better health and mood. Few minutes later when she returned she heard him call, rather groan softly. Ridhhima rushed by his side " you want something Armaan ? "

It was a moment before he said feebly " There's.. There's no water here " Ridhhima couldn't decide if he was sleeping or awake. His eyes were shut but brows scrunched deeply like he was trying to find something in the dark.. He looked only semi conscious.

She glanced at the side table, there was already a jug full of water there " but.. There's water on the table "

" No..., it's empty.." his reply was a barely audible whisper, Ridhhima was alarmed, though she could see that he heard what she said yet his answers didn't feel like that they were about the same thing. She ran her fingers in his hair.. He was feverish, thankfully she had seen to it that he took his medicines timely.. maybe he was dreaming " there's plenty of water here Armaan. Do you want some ? " she asked again softly.

" No... there isn't... Pitcher's empty..."

" Pitcher ?? " she glanced at the table. It was clearly a Jug and not a pitcher.

" It hurts.." he moaned alarming her

" Hurts ?? What hurts Armaan ? Where ?? " she asked trying to keep away the tone of worry.. But he didn't reply, she waited for a while but then he lay quiet probably the medicines she'd given finally kicked in..

Ridhhima sat by his side resting her back on the bedpost caressing his head gently as he slept peacefully, but her eyes remained fixed on the lion she held in her other hand.. This little stuffed animal had somehow managed to undo all her efforts to cheer him, above that it had irritated him even further.. She knew whatever it reminded him of wasn't good, wondering what could possibly a stuffed toy he once so loved carry that disturbed him so much..

There was nothing unusual about this lion except that it had two big patches on him, one covering most of its back and the other part of his face.. Curious, she brought the lion under the light of her bedside lamp to observe it more closely. It was just a yellow brown coat, felt smooth.. Looked old, but well maintained like a relic.. Only the patchy area didn't felt that soft.. She kept running her hand over its coat but soon her eyes widened, more she observed to confirm more she was horrified.. The medallion around the lion's neck confirmed that it was Armaan's Sherkhan. And it was definitely not patchy once... It looked patchy because the brown colour was.. dried blood.. The lion was, it seemed.. once soaked in blood.

The night brought what she was sure it will. It wasn't until the wee morning hours that he looked relieved. Throughout the night Ridhhima sat by his side whispering soft assurances, yet thrice she had to wake him up, everytime he was drenched in cold sweat and each time it was much difficult than before to make him go to sleep. When it looked like there was no way out she, very reluctantly, took out the long forgotten bottle. For a moment he looked surprised but then quickly gulped down the pills.. it was a difficult night..

The night- any night- never felt as long as this one. Ridhhima was desperate to find answers to the questions that didn't let her rest a second, apart from her worries for Armaan. They burned like red hot embers and every ticking second fanned them making them glow and burn even brighter.. Hotter... firing her restlessness.. she could only imagine if this was her state in a day what he'd have been going through for years!.. Everytime seeing those terrifying dreams.. knowing and yet not being able to comprehend.. Explain.. Remember. It could drive anyone insane!.. But then its Armaan !.. After all these years he'd become some kind of pioneer at hiding things that hurt him or when he thinks would worry his dear ones.. Let it be Vivek, like the case was once, or this time.. His nightmares.

For once Ridhhima contemplated on going through his diaries again. She'd seen him writing in them many a times, may be they can help her out.. reveal something that can help her help him. It was time that they did something in the matter, it had already been delayed... for years. And she'd have done so if he'd loosened his hold around her. So, she stayed, by his side.. becoming more resolute with every passing second to put a final stop to this.

By the time the first rays of sun announced the beginning of a new day Ridhhima had everything clearly outlined and planned in her mind. Looking at the peaceful face by her side sound asleep, his chest rising and falling with even breathing, she bent down to kiss his forehead softly. It was now the time to act.

Edited by mansibharti - 08 January 2012 at 12:52am

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mansibharti Goldie

Joined: 06 January 2009
Posts: 2126

Posted: 08 January 2012 at 1:39am | IP Logged
                                  Taming the wild

                                       I See You

Recap:- Armaan cranky Sherkhan Malik and return of Sherkhan the original

Virendra pulled down the paper hearing a soft voice wishing him good morning. He gave a bright smile seeing his darling daughter in law there with his morning tea. " so everything under control captain.? Hows the weather huh ? " he chuckled keeping the paper away as she took seat opposite him

" Situation is under control for now, but there's bit uncertainty about weather. The sun isn't up yet you see " she smiled

" Ah, I see " he nodded " but I must commend you on how you saved so many 'lives ' yesterday, including mine " he threw back his head laughing but when he turned his gaze back on her again he saw that she was not in the same spirit as his. A cautious thoughtful look spread over her face and eyes, causing the same reaction in him. " Ridhhima. Is everything okay beta ? "

Ridhhima drew in a breath, bracing herself " No papa. Its not " in an instant the open garden air turned into some kind of thick stuffy boardroom like before a crucial meeting " it's about Armaan. I found something yesterday... And this " she picked the stuffed toy lion kept by the side of her chair " seemed to have wipe out all my efforts to calm him down yesterday. Instantly "

" Sherkhan.." he whispered out. His grim face and almost horrified expression didn't leave her in any doubt that atleast he didn't had any problem recognizing it. The way Virendra's eyes widened stated clearly that he was aware of its history. And it ofcourse, it was not pleasant. His lips pursed and face turned grim, creases formed on his forehead as she narrated what happened yesterday.

" This thing wasn't suppose to be anywhere near him. I gave Martin strict instructions and still.. I will call him immediately " he picked up the phone but Ridhhima stopped him

" please papa. Its not Martin's fault "

" Then how the hell this came out ? " he almost shouted, all pleasant demeanor lost.

" It was actually Angel who found it. Accidentally. But we really didn't.. I didn't realize that this could be..." she sighed " but papa what is it about this thing that is so horrifying ? And why is it all covered in blood and still in the house ? " Virendra turned his eyes sharply at the mention of blood " I'm a doctor papa I can recognize blood, though I admit I didn't do it when there was time enough... But still papa, I want to know what happened. Please "

" Yes. Of course you can ask. You have the right to know.. You remember I told you about Naina and that unfortunate kidnapping accident.. Well, when we found them finally at the accident site he was found holding this. Only thing he was unwilling to let go except Naina was this lion, even till the time they were rushed to the hospital.." he paused for a moment as if gathering the strength to carry on " with few things that were found at the site this was one of them and the police took it in as an evidence, though it didn't proved out much as the blood that was found on it was of.. Naina and Armaan's... As soon as Armaan got little strength he asked for this.. But as it was an evidence it was never washed and by the time police returned it the blood had dried off leaving it pretty much as you can see it now.. He never held any other toy we got him, even the same one.. Somehow he knew that it wasn't this Sherkhan " he smiled ruefully " and unfortunately one day Martin relented to his pressure and gave him the discoloured lion.. His condition started worsening after that and it took us bit too long to realize that this little toy was behind all this. This was something that linked him to those haunting days, we were told, and we never parted with it as doctors said that someday when things would turn for the better this might prove useful. I fail to understand then and now that how that can be. But nevertheless I told Martin to keep it. Away from him. No matter what and which doctor say, I wasn't ready to put my only child in that sort of trauma again "

" The doctor was right papa. This can help us out if not then, then now " he looked skeptical " papa you very well know about his problem, he can't sleep properly for days in a row even at the slightest glimpse of blood. He hasn't talked to me about Naina mom since the day we got married and even before that and don't tell me that you are okay with the idea of having to steal a glimpse of Naina mom's picture without first checking if he's around ! How can a son deny even looking at his mother's picture that too when he was the only one during the last moments of her life ! Someone who was brave enough to sit by her at the time of crises and then forbid even to mention her name !! This fear or whatever it is, it is haunting him, crippling him, taking away the right to love and remember the person who was so important in his life.. This is unfair papa and I don't want him to go on this way "

" You think I want that.?! Don't you think we haven't tried ? I told you we did the best we can and it was after years I even got to see a smile on his face and if seeing my son's smile again mean that I have to keep Naina away than I don't think that was too much to ask for. ? She was gone anyway.." he swallowed the lump in his throat " And.. And I wasn't ready to lose my son too.."

Ridhhima placed a hand on his shoulder " I know papa.. I'm sorry.. I know you must've tried your best ,but things are not exactly improving.. He's.. And in a way me too were not honest with you.. The problem never went away but instead it is now getting but out of hand.. We now cannot brush it off as some bad dreams, they are more than that and it is now resurfacing. My only worry is that before it gets completely out of hand we must do something about it, as soon as possible. Science has progressed so much in the past few years and fortunately I've found just the person who can help us in our situation.. All I ask for is your support.. I won't be able to do this otherwise.." Virendra listened quietly, for a moment none spoke but when he met her gaze, she had her answer.

Pulling away the curtains she welcomed the soft morning light into the room. It was a lovely day, semi dark clouds played hide and seek with the sun and with the beautiful monsoon already there everything looked washed cleaned and dusted. She sat by his side caressing his hair softly. He slept peacefully and thankfully didn't wake up in her absence like yesterday. Feeling the soft caresses he discarded the pillow and turned around to her hiding his face in her stomach putting an arm around her. She smiled " hey sleepy head.. Feeling better hmm " stirring a little he nodded making himself comfortable in her lap " it's morning sweetheart, wake up " she added softly

It only took him a moment when his sleepy eyes flashed open and he sat up with a jerk. For the first time he didn't look at Ridhhima sitting by his side. His eyes scanned the room darting from the table to bedside to every corner. He frowned looking puzzled and Ridhhima knew he was wondering if what happened yesterday was real or a dream... Ridhhima knew what he was looking for and she'd already taken care of that, and few other things as well. She had her plan ready and knew if she wanted it to succeed then everything had to go according to it coz if he even got the whiff of what was brewing in her mind he would never agree to it. She had to be subtle, because this time she was not going to back out and neither would let him.

" Ab idhar udhar kya dekh rahe ho, I'm right here "

" Uh, nothing " his eyes still looked around warily as if expecting the lion to jump out before him any moment shouting ' surpriise ! '. It seemed that for a moment he wanted to say something but then decided against it. He didn't bother himself with the morning rituals. Rules that he himself drafted were very conveniently forgotten today, Ridhhima wasn't surprised, it was expected.

Coming out of the bathroom drying his hair with the towel his eyes fell on her. She was arranging the flowers clad in a beautiful yellow saree and even from a distance he could feel an aura around her some kind of warmth that brought instant calm. A half smile crept on his face Inspite of himself and a twitch of guilt followed for his morning behaviour, his glum mood had cost him his 'good morning'. He sighed thinking about it, the sound caught her attention and she turned around to find him standing there with a towel in his hand.

" Oh you're back " it broke his trance and he checked himself quickly for that stupid smile. Ridhhima stepped by his side taking away the towel from his hands " you know I've made special breakfast.. all your favourites " she stepped closer looking into his eyes " if you want we can have it here.. just the two of us "

God ! The temptations ! He looked into her eyes moving to her face , her rosy cheeks.. her soft lips.. lips that he missed this morning.. lips that just gave him an open invitation. But. Pride.. since when it had let man do the sensible thing.

Fighting the temptation -and sense- he tore away his gaze from her, those little shreds of obstinate anger that were left signaled not to let go so easily.

" Uh, thanks. But I think we should eat downstairs with others. Have few things to discuss with bhai before he leaves " and before his resolve could weaken he walked away leaving a surprised Ridhhima behind.

" Just let me see for how long you manage to run from me Mr. Malik " she smirked

Like he thought, everyone was at the table. Youngest to oldest. What surprised him was that they were behaving like nothing happened yesterday and in Ridhhima's case, at night. Except the fact that Muskaan gave him a glaring scanning look and Rahul's mention that everything was 'smooth and according to his wishes' at office no one mentioned anything about yesterday. It felt like Sunday when all of them had there long weekly ritual breakfast together, laughing, gossiping, complaining, planning for family outings etc.. And soon forgetting everything else he got carried away with the flow. The breakfast was indeed special, everything his favourite and made by Ridhhima-he could recognize the taste anywhere in the world-like she said. Though he got quiet 'normal' yet the obstinate sullenness refuse to leave. He didn't talk much and remained formally polite with 'everybody', the night was itself troublesome and with that annoying Sherkhan incident of yesterday he could not get his mind at ease even when he tried. He was first to get off the table with an excuse of tons of work and quickly escaped to the refuge of his study.

Ridhhima watched his retreating back until he was out of sight " Ridhhi. I hope we didn't do anything wrong "

" Nahi bhabhi. I had a word with Dr. Shishir and he said it would be better if he's given little time to ponder on the things that happened himself. There will be no more hiding so it would be better that he gets prepared for it gradually " she then turned to Virendra " papa what about that thing I asked you for "

" already ordered. Will be there first thing tomorrow morning "

" but Ridhhima, are you sure this is going to work. I mean... " Rahul asked, voicing his worries

" Yes bhaiyya, it will. And we will make it work " she assured him. Rahul and BP were rather doubtful and couldn't see the point in refreshing those horrifying memories, it was only when she described how these suppressed memories can and are harming him mentally, emotionally, and as the cases present physically, it was getting all the more necessary for him to get rid of those. It was hiding that was causing all the trouble, because that was denying the truth which he was not ready to face. Though they both agreed that some of Armaan's actions were indeed hurting to himself and Virendra yet they worried if things didn't turn out to be as planned. Ridhhima assured them that it won't be like before and eventually they agreed.. ready to play their part in solving the problem in whatever way it was required.

Armaan was startled with the sudden sound of 'thud' ,tearing away his gaze from the laptop he found the reason. It was Ridhhima, rather her laptop that she mercilessly banged on the table before her with a big bowl of popcorn. It had a reason though, he was so deeply engrossed with something that he didn't realize when she came in and now that he thought of it that intermittent whirring noise must be her -her throat clearing rather- and he'd ignored it, which going by the expression on her face didn't go well with her. Another thing he couldn't understand was the popcorn. Popcorn!?!. But that cute frown on her face made him forget everything else. He smirked inwardly, it was his turn now.

For a while everything went smooth. Well, just for a while.

It was matter of minutes when it started. The giggling and muffled laughs. At first he ignored, again, too lost to notice but then it became impossible to ignore. He glanced in her direction conveying the complain of disturbance through eyes, giving such a cold impassive glare that could make any hardcore FBI Agent proud. But she was no ordinary person to coil under that glare, she was Ridhhima + Armaan Malik. And she returned the glare. " what? I can come here too. This is my place as well, and you are not the only one with work you know "

It was his turn to frown now. As if this wasn't enough the chamcha was there too wagging his tail. The kutte ka Bachha -Leo. He wondered when did he sneaked in. " what work?? Apart from eating that large bowl of popcorn! "

" so what? I can do multitasking. And Just because my work is 'different' from yours doesn't mean its less important.huh ! " he opened his mouth to say something but she didn't wait for his reply and stuffing in the earplugs got busy with her-whatever- work she was doing. Armaan scowled at Leo who tilted his head with his tongue hanging out as if mocking challenging him to dare say a word against his darling mistress. Soon he too turned away his eyes and like Ridhhima didn't deigned him a second glance, turning his eyes to her laptop screen like he could understand whatever work she was doing. Armaan shook his head and returned back to his work.

Few minutes later he was again interrupted. This time with a crack of laughter and a loud bark. He let out an exasperated sigh. " Ridhhima " he called, but thanks to her ears stuffed with earplugs she couldn't hear a word actually didn't even seem to notice that he was there. So, he tried again. And. Failed again. He waved his hand to get her attention but that didn't help either. And why would it. She and her darling Leo- who was now seated next to her on the couch- were busy watching something. Someone was really wise when he said that husband's value is inversely proportional to the time of marriage. Time increases and value decreases especially when there are factors like a competitive dog and an overly loving owner are involved. He sighed nodding in agreement to that wise man's observations but then he realized He was that wise man.

There they were, before him, with Ridhhima nicely settled on the couch, a pillow on her lap over which rested her laptop her legs spread before her on the table one over the other headphones secured over her ears. Actually- now he noticed- there were two sets. He had no words to express his surprise when he saw the other pair over Leo's ears ! Yupp weird as it sound it was even weirder to watch. Both had their eyes glued to the screen as if their life depended on it!! While he watched the scene before him in utter amazement their reaction volume - the laughs and barks and cheering and exclamations- gradually rose in decibel meter. Was this the important work she was talking about? After many failed attempts he had no option but to do something to get their- correction 'her'- attention. He was now curious too to see what work was so captivatingly important that involved a dog! Getting up he walked to her side.

His jaw dropped open in surprise when he saw her 'work'. They were watching Tom and Jerry!. Both of them !!

He immediately closed the laptop interrupting them. And in a second heard loud protests. He cupped his ears shouting " QUIET!!! " and they immediately did.

He pulled out the earphones " is this the important work you said you have??! You're watching cartoon! With a dog!! " their was a loud protesting bark " oh shut up! you are a dog! " Leo made a sad complaining cooing sound.

" Armaan! " she slapped his shoulder " how can you be so heartless !" She turned to Leo " Its okay baby, we'll start in a minute. You don't mind him " it annoyed Armaan to no extent who stood there rubbing his shoulder scowling wishing nothing more than to kick the dog who was receiving more attention than him from his wife!

" what do you mean you'll start again!? Unlike you I really have important work here "

" so? Did I stop you from doing it? " she replied nonchalantly " you do your work we'll do ours "

" you call watching Tom and Jerry with a dog work!! " he asked incredulous

" Excuse me! First of all stop being so mean to Leo. Don't call him a dog!. And secondly not everyone can be as boring as you are " he opened his mouth but she spoke before him, this time softly " but if you are done with your work then you are welcome to join us "

" yeah, right! Like I don't have better things to do. All I'm asking you guys is to keep your volume low "

" low.?! We hardly made any sound! Right Leo! " he rolled his eyes at the quick affirmative bark she got in response

" that's it! Either you guys keep it low or get out of here " Ridhhima narrowed her eyes at that and he quickly added " or I'll go " he knew otherwise consequences can be real bad for him.

She huffed getting up from her seat " no need. Don't trouble yourself. We'll leave, this place is already too stuffy with 'boring' people. Common Leo " she was about to move out when he stopped her

" excuse me! Did you just called me a bore?! FYI I'm not a bore. I'm a very interesting per.."

She cut him mid sentence " Armaan your wife spent full 40 minutes here in this room, you didn't even notice when I came in you didn't even lift your eyes from the screen to glance at me once. And I'm watching cartoons with Leo! What other evidence do you need to prove my point?! " he could not think of anything to say to that and stood there opening and closing his mouth like a fish he shrugged shifting from one feet to another. " exactly what I thought. Carry on with your 'work' we're leaving " and with a look both were out of the room.

He slumped back into his chair " damn! You can never win from your wife. Even when you're right! It should be her manaofying me not other way round! " he shook his head " she called me a bore! How can she? Just because I don't watch cartoon with my dog doesn't make me a bore! Does it? Fine! if she think watching cartoon with your dog makes you an interesting person then next time I'll bring a cat and watch one day cricket series with it. Then we'll see who is more interesting " he kept mumbling unaware that someone was hiding just outside listening everything. Glad to see him think about something else. Knowing that he'll now be consumed with the idea of proving himself Not A Bore.. glad to see that smile which was missing since morning back as he thought of both of them watching Tom and Jerry together. Her work was done. And she moved on to step two.


He didn't knew about Ridhhima but his day was definitely going well and as the day progressed it became even better.

Plonking himself on the recliner he analised how things were going on. Just in the morning he was thinking that how all of them were acting normal, too normal, after what happened at the office and at home, when ridhhima placed everything in order. He'd been wondering if she'd taken his rather soft attitude for ' its okay lets forget it ' so he made it clear that he was not in a mood to let her off so easily, after all such opportunities are rare with a wife like her but he was bit doubtful after that cartoon episode if she'd try again.- you know the manaofy mission. But that doubt was cleared soon, as after that she kept coming under one pretext or another. Armaan knew she was testing the waters, he chuckled after so many months she hadn't realised one simple thing that.. but a soft ehem-ehem broke his thoughts. It was Martin.

" this is for you sir " he extended him a silver tray, an envelope resting on it. " I was also asked to get the reply "

Armaan who was already going through the content of the note smiled to himself. One look at it and he knew who it came from, after all it was not the first time that he was getting such an invitation. " thanks Martin. And please convey my acceptance " Martin gave a small bow and left. Armaan picked up the card again admitting to himself that he was bit surprised to get it as he wasn't sure if she was willing to talk to him after the morning incident Or if he was willing to accept after being titled as a Bore. But Inspite of himself all he could utter was his acceptance. The memory of the last invitation was still so fresh and if this was anything like that one he was not going to miss it for the world. He took a deep breath and locking his fingers behind his head closed his eyes, a wide smile played on his lips as he relived the moments of special invitation.

For the rest of the day he didn't see much of Ridhhima. This time he didn't grumble because he knew she was busy with something and he was all so eager for her new surprise. The wifey was all set to dethrone him as the new surprise queen. So, to kill the time in between he did what he could- sleep. As he couldn't concentrate on anything after that shocking morning episode and also because he was too preoccupied daydreaming about the invitation.

He checked himself in the mirror for what was at least 100th time,, clad in the elegance of a dark suit white silk shirt and a matching silk tie he was ready to make some head turn. He chuckled at the thought though as there would be just one head that would turn tonight only one whose attention he wanted tonight. And for that he had to be at his best cause he knew she would be at hers and that's not something she had to make efforts for. He smirked giving himself a wink, he was so damn lucky! straightening his tie he glanced at the watch. It was time.

" so Mr. Armaan Mallik. This is it. All the best!." Giving himself a thumbs up he walked out of the room.

Two corridors and two flight of stairs later he reached the terrace door. Yes, that was the venue of their meeting but the rules and conditions were no less than any seven star hotel!. Taking a deep breath he straightened his jacket and turned the knob.

Things couldn't have been more breathtaking. But he couldn't decide if it was the settings or the amazing person who did it all. At the center of the huge terrace there was a small tent like the canopy over king size bed, its glittering curtains waved lightly with light breeze, lights strategically  put placed the area in a kind of spotlight yet it was soft and clear.. a trolly stood nearby, no wonder laden with food and there were flowers on the poles spirally placed adding to the ambiance and there stood Ridhhima.. little bent over lighting the last one of the three candles on the table giving her final magical touch, probably expecting him anytime now. What she didn't knew that he was already there and was busy admiring her surprise dinner venue. And of course her. Pulling himself out of the magic he cleared his throat, the sound made her turn.

" Good evening your highness. For you.. " he extended a lovely bouquet of orchids " thank you Mr. Malik " she accepted it gladly " they are lovely, please have a seat "

Keeping up with the act he pulled out a chair for the lady taking another by her side " nice place " he glanced around. He really couldn't make out if that was actually a terrace " but have you seen my wife, I was suppose to meet her here and going by her temper it would be little dangerous for me to be sitting with another woman "

Ridhhima's mouth fell open and all the pretense was forgotten " Armaaan! What other woman!? And I do not have short temper! When did I ever get angry on you!? " he raised his brow at that " okay fine 'sometimes I get 'bit' frustrated but that's all your fault " he sat back defeatly rolling his eyes at lets blame the husband game but then she raised a finger warningly " but you dare not go out for a dinner like this with anyone else "

That brought a wide grin, he leaned forward " well, that depends if you ever let me want to go with one "

" oh you just wait mister " Ridhhima too leaned a little, close enough to let him get a whiff of her intoxicating perfume to let her warm breath brush his ear " you are not going to forget it. Ever... " and he knew that instant he won't.

And it started.. there was no one except them there. He kept admiring her, listening to whatever she was saying sometimes too dazed to notice anything else.. basking in her love and care.. how she fussed about him ,wiped off that little gravy from the corner of his mouth.. her touch so soft her voice so comforting.. he could just sit there and listen to her for ever ,she was just perfect.. glowing, that wasn't the contribution of either the candles or moon or the lights.. Clad in the beautiful elegance of a red saree, he remembered this one so vividly, it was the same one which he brought for her for their first unofficial date and she looked stunning, he made a mental note to tell her that.. if he could come out of the daze.. her spell...

Ridhhima on the other hand wasn't unaware of the effect she'd had on him and by the look on his face things were going great. She breathed in relieved, she just could not bear morose Armaan, she wanted her real Armaan, and everything else could wait until he was in a better mood. At first she was kind of lost as nothing striked her and thought that maybe if she remained before him he would melt and for a moment even looked fine but she was mistaken, in the study he didn't even notice her and then with Leo entering the scene things took bit unexpected turn but it did gave some positive result, at least his mind was taken off from the troublesome night.. but it wasn't until she went to the wardrobe room and found this very saree.. it brought so many memories back and within minutes everything was solved. Rest of the things were cake walk, the moment he showed up following all the instructions she knew battle was half won. As the evening progressed he became more relaxed and took such keen interest in whatever she said that everything started to look normal already. Like a perfect hostess she provided with everything, his favourite food ,good conversational topics- gossip actually, something very new for him, all courtesy Muskaan. All those hours with her came in handy- and perfect backdrop settings did the trick.. soon yesterday actually became yesterday.

Cleverly avoiding anything from his or her workplace she provided the added flavour to the evening. Like a perfect listener Armaan posed all the right questions and reactions to all her narratives.., nodding ,frowning ,laughing ,wondering.. he was rather really enjoying it all, some of the issues were really intriguing.. ghastly issues of woman world that included disasters of wearing heels to a garden party, fashion suicide by wearing faux pas and shamelessly trying to foist them.. not all were so shallow though, there were debates too about the increasing risk of global warming and threat it posed to the collection if expensive mink fur coats!. He laughed heartily on some and almost choked on some!. Woman world was indeed full of wonders!

Time flew by and it was she time before either of them realized that dinner was long over. A small brought both back to reality " hmm that was really interesting.."

" there's something else I've made for you " before he could protest pointing at his ready to burst tummy she placed a small plate before him beckoning through her eyes to open and see. Curious he did and for a moment just stared at it. It was his favourite ice cream cake " specially for you " she extended him a spoon with a wide smile. It was heart shaped with his favourite flavours by its side in small portions and on the white icing rested a simple red U.

He looked up meeting her expectant gaze, corner of his lips twitched as he tried to contain his smile at that innocent expression on her face.. lost for words to express how touched he was and how loved he felt with all what she's done to make it up to him for everything he blamed her of yesterday.. he took the spoon buying some time to formulate words that could best express what his heart felt... he really felt bad now for acting like a total jerk and little more for troubling her realizing that it was still she was who was trying to make it all better and apologizing.. the cake was gone in minutes Ridhhima felt so contented just to watch him eat her smile widening with delight on his face as he wiped off the contents of the plate.. " so, how was it? "

"Hmm, it was nice " wiping his mouth on the napkin he pushed back his chair

"But.." she got up expecting him to rise,. Things were going so well, then why was he leaving? She frantically tried to look for the reason " what happened? "

" nothing, it just wasn't sweet " she stood there by his side perplexed even bit crestfallen. Did she forget to put required quantity of sugar? Were the ice creams not his favourites? She ran all possibilities in her mind while he shook his head watching her frown. He could bear it no longer and and before she could worry herself any further pulled her hand making her fall in his lap her mouth agape in surprise as his arms secured her tightly. " let me tell you what you missed.." a moment later when his lips covered hers she knew instantly what she'd forgotten.

He pulled out of the kiss to find her dazed almost breathless her lips trembled a little and looked ethereal. Armaan ran his thumb over her soft cheek, she opened her eyes like she'd been seeing a dream, their eyes met and fresh wave of colour rose to her cheeks " you were not dreaming sweetheart "

" dream or reality, let it be forever.. " she whispered, still held tightly by him, their foreheads touching lips inches away and beautiful smiles adorning their faces

Armaan smirked and putting his arms under her legs got up carrying her in his arms. She jerked holding him tight in surprise " Armaan!? What.."

" shh,. Just making reality even more beautiful wifey.. plus I haven't thanked you properly for the fabulous evening.." he brushed his lips with hers once again and if she could turn any more red she would have.. with a wide self assured smirk he carried her back all the way to their room.

Ridhhima lay awake in the semi dark moon lit room where everything was calm and quiet.. Armaan slept by her side deep in slumber while she gazed at his peaceful face smiling as she recalled the beautiful moments when they made love to each other.. soft.. gentle.. without any rush savouring every touch every feeling of the blissful love they have for each other. She bent down a little and planted a soft kiss on his forehead, he didn't stir just held her tight by her waist like she was going to run away somewhere in the middle of the night!. She chuckled but then remembered that she just did that, she unknowingly did made his nightmare come true. A wave of guilt passed through her, she held him close trying to take away all the hurt that he suffered through. She was so glad that he was now back to his normal self, it would be easier-and safer-to talk about more pressing issues with him now. Ridhhima kept stroking his hair drifting off in her thoughts...

They were back from their honeymoon and as her next task she duly contacted Dr.Shishir, though the problem had not surfaced for quiet some time it was no reason to believe that it was gone...

"...Excuse me Ridhhima, I couldn't help but notice the royal entrance you made." Ridhhima looked at him bit puzzled " I mean those two cars, one in front other at back yours in the middle. Was it just for me or it is the usual scenario.." Shishir asked with a curious smile, faint colour rose to her cheeks. She knew one day she'll be the subject of someones amused curiosity

" Well doc..."

" wait. Let me guess. Armaan ? " she couldn't stop her grin at the mention of his name. Shishir was right on target.

" You should've seen it earlier. It was worse. Like I told you he acts complete paranoid sometimes. It took me hell lot to bring it down to this minimum. Like someone is going to mistake me for president Obama! "

Shishir laughed " may be not. He's not so pretty anyway. But little precaution never hurts." She laughed but could not understand what he meant by precaution.. before she could ask anything else he gestured her to walk with him to his cabin.

Leo's loud barks brought her back suddenly. The dog was disgrace to his name, Leo- the lion and he was scared of rats! Someone must have crossed his fence causing the reaction, she very well recognize this bark. Ridhhima thanked god that she had successfully managed to keep the information from Armaan or he'd have surely used it to his advantage, already the man was in perpetual duel with the dog and yet for some weird reason could not stay without him either. Men! You just can't understand them sometimes.

But then Leo's thought brought back the memory of someone else too. Someone who had been lot of trouble lately. Another Leo- the lion - Sherkhan..

" you know why I'm here doc..." she said placing the cup on the table " the problem I talked to you about.. what do you think we can do ? "

" as I told you that day too Ridhhima the problem is not something that can be sorted out like any other clinical problem. Human brain is a complex thing and zillions of things and emotions it processes add to its uniqueness.." he rested back on his big arm chair crossing his fingers before him " have you talked about it with Armaan? "

Ridhhima didn't look up for a moment, lost in thoughts she absentmindedly ran her finger on the rim of her tea cup. When she raised her eyes she found Shishir waiting for her answer. Something told her that he knew it already, she let out a sigh " No. Not yet "

" you do realize Ridhhima that it is Armaan who ultimately has to meet me. This is not something that I can do overnight keeping him out of picture. He has to face it someday "

" I know Doc. I know. But.. He's not exactly an easy person to convince. Its rather lot more complicated. " Shishir really didn't had any idea about how stubborn Armaan can be, she thought.

" is it more complicated and difficult than the problems he's facing?" He asked in a calm voice " besides I have a feeling that you can come up with something convincing " she had no answer to that, his Santa smile with twinkle eyes were rather encouraging but it wasn't until the recent unexpected turn of events that she had any successful opportunity.

Armaan stirred in his sleep turning to other side. She quickly ran her fingers through his hair worrying if she'd disturbed him but he was deep in slumber. Ridhhima took a deep breath and for a while kept gazing at his back, all she wanted- badly wanted- was to make him make peace with his past so that his present can be peaceful too. She closed her eyes snuggling close to him, till she was there there was hope still... moreover, if things went well then it would be a matter of days...

Armaan turned around in his sleep, a smile playing on his lips, his eyes shut probably seeing something very beautiful.. he exhaled a relaxed sigh. Yes, it was so right.. so peaceful ,warm ,soft and nice... he never wanted to open his eyes again... Ridhhima watched him lovingly, she was up already and lay by his side gazing at his peaceful face, his expressions.. his smile that widened when she pushed back the hair over his forehead. She kept stroking his face lovingly till something told him that reality was going to be better than his dreams... he opened his eyes lazily to find the most beautiful pair of eyes looking at him.. " good morning.." Ridhhima leaned forward pecking his nose. The morning wasn't just good, it just became very good.

Both were wide awake, but neither of them tried to get up to get ready for the day.. there was plenty of time for that. Resting the back on the backrest with Ridhhima in his arms Armaan was busy savouring his sweet morning with wifey but there was no peace in Ridhhima's heart... she was the lady on a mission, thoughts of which won't let her rest until she had talked about it.. on the other hand Armaan was busy whispering sweet nothings in her ear stroking the length of her arm unaware of the turbulent storm in her mind.. she had no idea what he was saying, replying in monosyllables or simple 'um hmm's'. Her eyes fell on the clock that was about to struck six. She could delay it no further, the opportunity might not present itself again. Cutting him mid sentence she tilted her head up..

" Armaan, I want to talk to you about something important.." Armaan was curious to find her so serious suddenly, something must've bothered her.. he wondered what it could be " promise me you'll listen patiently first.." concerned he tried to ask but she didn't budge until he agreed " it's.. it's about you.." he raised a brow still not sure where all of it was heading " I want you to meet someone..." and then narrated everything... she could see his calm poised face changing as she started explaining, by the time she was at the close his was grim and she could clearly see annoyance with anger and suspicion lurking underneath.. not a good sign but she'd come too far to back out now, she had to be firm.

Armaan threw away the covers and got off the bed angrily " I don't believe it! You..?! What were you thinking Ridhhima?! What ARE you thinking??! " she took a deep breath bracing herself, she must convince him. It had started.." so it was all a plan!?? To talk me into meeting that man!" Armaan was now in row his tone turning contemptuous at the end " you think I'm crazy. Isn't it? And all because I had just few bad dreams! I just can't.."

Ridhhima's heart sank a little, this was what she was dreading " they are just not what you've described them to be. Do you think I would have asked you so if I hadn't thought otherwise"

" yeah that's exactly my point. What 'you' thought. It never occurred to you to ask me what I thought about it. Did it?. This was better than simply talking it out. Just arrange everything and then inform later. Simply expecting me to just do it. That's just great! here I thought you felt guilty about yesterday making me feel bad in return for how I acted. But No. You tried to seduce your way through me!" His eyes narrowed as he yelled pacing up and down before her.

" excuse me! " Ridhhima could hear no more, she too got off the bed standing before him and ignored the fact that his eyes widened In spite of himself. Both have conveniently forgotten that they were still in their night dresses- rather, without them.

Armaan tried to hold on to his thoughts " see, you are doing it again."

"Doing what??! " she asked too preoccupied with her defence statement to understand what he was pointing at.

" distracting me! Can you wear something. Please. " he handed her a discarded robe lying on the floor.

" you aren't exactly wearing a burqa you know " she retorted snatching the robe slipping into it.

Armaan looked down at himself and suppressing his embarrassment picked up the other robe.. Ridhhima exhaled hiding her smile Inspite of the outburst it was hard to get angry on him moreover it wasn't the time to burst out on him, she had to keep her cool. Closing in the space between she hugged him tightly surprising him. Tilting up her head she looked into his eyes, they weren't as harsh like the moment before but she knew he was contemplating on what she'd asked.." Please.."

The please followed with a sweet kiss on the cheek softened him instantly. He exhaled a sigh " Why weren't you honest with me Ridhhima. Why didn't you come straightforward if this was all you wanted? " he said calming down.

She pulled out of the hug a little " you're getting it wrong Armaan. Whatever I did yesterday had nothing to do with making you agree to meet Shishir, I admit I want it but more than that I was missing my old Armaan... I just wanted you to be in a better mood to understand what and why I am asking you to do it... and you said I wasn't honest with you, you weren't honest with me either Armaan..." he looked surprised but when she didn't averted her meaningful gaze he knew she knew more than he'd told her. It shouldn't be a surprise especially when she'd witnessed him troubled with those haunting dreams..he was guilty as charged. " Please Armaan, I know there are things that you don't talk to me about... even when you want to.."

He knew she was absolutely right " but.. I don't know what to talk about " she knew he wasn't lying, she could see the glimpse of that frustration in his eyes.

" and that's why I'm asking you to do this. Please, for my sake. It is all I ask. Just meet the man at least. If it doesn't work out I promise I won't bring it up ever again.." though she didn't wanted to make any such promise yet there was no other way " you are my superman Armaan and my hero is afraid of nothing ...well, may be except me " he smirked rolling his eyes. She found her break, cupping his face she caressed it with her thumb looking earnestly into his grey orbs " please jaan.. for me..." he closed his eyes as she kissed him softly.

Cupping the hand resting on his face he sighed joining the foreheads, neither spoke for some time. Moments later he looked at her again " you won't let it go. Would you? " she didn't say anything but he could read the answer clearly in her eyes. He let out a deep breath, defeated " fine. I'll.. meet this guy "

Ridhhima could have touched the ceiling " really!! You mean you really will!? " she could not believe her ears.

" do I have a choice? You are one hell of an emotional blackmailer! " giggling she wrapped him in the tightest bear hug she could manage squeezing a laugh out of him. It was like a kid was given his most desirable toy by Santa before Christmas.

" okay okay.. I can see you are elated but lets talk few things first. Ground rules "

" sure! " she was so happy, she'd have said yes for anything.

Armaan smiled at her enthusiasm but still felt obliged to warn her " I'm agreeing for it but I don't want you to raise your hopes much..." she had no idea how much he'd already been through with this kind of stuff, but if this makes her happy then he could endure few meeting. How much can it hurt anyway... smiling he tucked back wayward locks that fell over her face and took her into his embrace, his precious... getting the whiff of her beautiful fragrant skin he immediately forgot everything, her presence did magic to his senses.. almost instinctively he nuzzled her neck, closeness distracting him totally and all thoughts about rules were forgotten...

" Armaan.."

" Hmm.." lost, this was all he could manage. Desires already taking over..

" can we negotiate later.." she pulled out a little, by the look on her face he was not the only one getting effected " I guess there are other things I can 'raise' my hopes for " she winked naughtily fuelling in a fresh wave of passion.

" As you wish my queen. Your wish is my command " in a flash he picked her up in his arms heading for the bed again.

Armaan tapped nervously on the steering wheel as they neared their destination " Oh common Armaan, relax. You're acting like a boy meeting girls parents for the first time. Stop being so nervous, its just a lunch! "

" I'm not nervous.." he shifted in his seat, lying " its just that.. I mean is it a practice among doctors now a days to invite their clients " he specifically insisted on using the term clients, they fought over this too but the result got lost in transition " for lunch before they start with them."

Ridhhima rolled her eyes " Now you're just being ridiculous. I told you before Dr Shishir happens to know dad, he treated Shishir's father and know him well. He also has great respect for papa hence invited us for lunch. This is general social meeting. Okay. Nothing else. Stop reading so much out of it."

" Great! that solves all my problems. Shishir knows your dad. Now he's going to tell him everything and then your dad will think what a nut case he's married off his daughter to." He frowned, his heart was drumming in anticipation which he was trying best to hide from her and was failing miserably.

Ridhhima chuckled " A nut case whom his daughter loves very much. Now be quiet and drive we're about to reach there.." waving off his anxiety she picked up her purse fishing out a lipstick

He glanced in her direction " can you please stop doing that! "

She looking around confused " what? " then looked at the lipstick in her hand " I'm just doing the touch up. Can't go there looking like an idiot! " she went back to applying the lipstick giving him a 'duh' look.

" it's not the touch up I'm asking you to stop but the way you're doing it " she gave a quizzical look again " the pout you know.. it makes me want to wipe it off again.." he added with a smirk, glad that her scandalized expression diverted his mind a bit, she narrowed her eyes a little " really! "

" yeah, but I'm not going to fall Into that trap again. You've blackmailed me enough already " he winked coming to halt before a big iron gate. Ridhhima leaned on to his side almost whispering in his ear " to bad darling... I was rather thinking of blackmailing you tonight " his jaw dropped open but before he could reply the guard opened the gates saluting, waiting for them to drive in. He frowned at the guards timing and also at giggling Ridhhima's, but he would surely have his revenge and the thought brought back his smile.

Ridhhima looked around at the neatly trimmed green lawn bordered with beautiful seasonal flowers, she'd crossed a major hurdle but real test was up ahead ,to make him finish what had started. It took her another two days to settle the 'ground rules' after he'd finally agreed, with clear words that he'd walk out the moment he feel that isn't working or if he didn't like the man. Ridhhima counter conditioned that she would not ask him to go ahead with anything of this sort if this try doesn't turn out successful but he'd to give his genuine try and 6 months.

They settled for genuine try and 3 months.

But she was playing devil's advocate, she'd make him see Shishir 4 times a week instead of two. This part she conveniently dropped away from the negotiation. A little surprise for Mr. Over smart Mallik.

Armaan rang the door bell exhaling a deep breath, he turned to look at Ridhhima feeling her fingers slipping between his. She blinked reassuringly with her beautiful smile calming him " I love you.." she whispered just as the door opened and two faces appeared smiling broadly at them.

" Hi, I'm Shishir. My wife Prakriti. Welcome to our humble abode "

They sat in the hall exchanging pleasantries and soon were busy discussing politics, business, sports etc. with a round of coffee. " Mrs. Goswami your house is beautiful !" Ridhhima remarked " I was rather thinking of renovating a portion back home myself. Do you mind if I look around. And I definitely would require some of your expert suggestions " Prakriti being an interior decorator herself was only too happy to assist her. And much to Armaan's discomfort got up for the round.

" Um, do you ladies mind if we guys tag along. Mrs Goswami I completely agree with Ridhhima, your house is indeed beautiful " Ridhhima just hoped the lady of the house does not see through his lie as clearly as she could.

Walking around the house Armaan got busy admiring some paintings while the ladies took a different turn from the corridor to the kitchen which he didn't notice " you've got really nice collection here Mr. Goswami "

Shishir came and stood next to him " oh please call me Shishir. Helps me forget the milestones I've touched already " both men chuckled

" okay then. Shishir " Shishir grinned slapping his back lightly " ah! I feel young already! " they moved to next painting and Shishir continued to describe them. Armaan was surprised to know that many of them were made by his wife herself, and he'd have loved to see couple of them in his office and at home. Armaan stopped before a large portrait in the wide corridor. A lady smiled at him dressed in complete Indian attire looking simple yet elegant. Her round face with soft features was of someone who instantly fell into a role of mother or at her age grandmother yet, she had sharp, attentive.. kind of wise eyes, something he'd recently seen. Even from the picture she seemed to emit an aura that commanded respect yet made people feel at ease around her " who's she? " Armaan asked

" Well, meet my mother Sulekha Goswami " he declared proudly and Armaan could feel the pride and affection dripping from the declaration like she was there right that moment. He unknowingly, instantly felt jealous, it had been ages since he'd felt anything like this about his own mother " Prakriti made this portrait as her birthday present. Right now she's in London with dad and kids for small vacation. Mothers I tell you, they spoil you and they spoil your kids even more "

" I guess.. I think we should go back. Ridhhima must be wondering where we'd disappeared " without waiting for Shishir to move he started back.

" Armaan.." he stopped, turning around " I think you know the real reason why we're going to see each other from now on " Armaan nodded, But wondered if Shishir knew that it would be just matter of days before he declared that it was nothing but worries of an overly concerned wife.

" Doc.. I mean Shishir, there something I must clarify beforehand.. I'm here only because of Ridhhima. She thinks I'm haunted by the nightmares and that this 'therapy' is going to help me out.. but everybody at some point of time have few bad dreams isn't it? but Ridhhima.." he sighed " to tell you the truth Shishir it never bothered me. In fact I've been through lot of these procedures when I was a child and have met number of doctors to no avail. I have no expectations this time whatsoever. So, it would be easier for both of us if we could get over with it as soon as possible."

" I'm sure you must've been through a lot, and that too at a very young age... Ridhhima told me everything about it " Shishir spoke like he was expecting something of this sort, Armaan was not happy to hear it but remained impassive. Shishir gave a benign smile " but like you said that was years ago, why don't you give it a shot this time? if it works and you gain something out of it then you're at no loss, plus it would give Ridhhima a genuine reason to feel good about her efforts " Armaan fell into thoughts, he had after all promised her his genuine efforts and 3 months, but he also wasn't very hopeful and wanted it to get over asap. " common Armaan what are you afraid of? It will be just us, two young guys sitting together chatting.. if nothing I'll get to know a nice person " Shishir's words didn't raise his hopes but he knew there was no escape from him for next three months.

" fine. If that makes you two feel any better " and both men walked back to the hall. One feeling defeated other wiping his brow. But then Armaan remembered something " and Shishir.. Ridhhima told me that you and my father in law..."

Shishir didn't required elaboration " don't worry everything remains between us.. but do you want it to be only us? " Armaan didn't required elaboration either " No, I guess I can make an exception.." Shishir knew who the exception was. Armaan still remembered her words ' you weren't honest either ' so true, he didn't tell her everything and he was going to amend that, starting right now. She had every right to know and anyway it was practically impossible to keep something from a person who know you better than yourself.

      " do you think I'd run away somewhere else? " Armaan asked hiding his nervousness. Much to his dislike the day had arrived at last and Ridhhima had made sure that he was ready every afternoon for the four days a week torture. What a waste of his precious time, there was so much work to do at the office.

" I can't take chances sweetheart, haven't seen the new receptionist yet only then I can decide if its safe to let you come alone " she grinned while he rolled his eyes, secretly he was rather glad that she was there " and anyway, I'm just keeping my promise " he threw a quizzical look " you forgot! I promised to be with you all the time. Moreover, I really want to..." she added softly keeping a hand over his. A sudden wave of assurance and confidence rushed through him and he felt glad that she remembered.

The secretary, to Ridhhima's displeasure was not something she'd call 'safe' Armaan just laughed at the silly reason for being insecure, like he'd ever find anyone to take her place ever!.. Ridhhima waited in the lounge while Armaan went in, reluctantly " hey Armaan " Shishir welcomed him cheerfully " common have a seat. One thing I always admire about businessmen - punctuality " Armaan didn't answer just smiled politely " so.. I was just remembering the day you came over to my place and was telling Prakriti how you admired all those pictures by her especially my mom's portrait " Armaan shifted in his seat, something that Shishir noticed " so she asked me to tell you that she'd be too happy to make one for you.."

" oh, but I didn't mean any trouble.."

" oh no, it won't be any. She loves to paint.. here I have few samples of her other paintings with me. Call me a love struck show off husband but I can't help it." Both chuckled good naturedly " So tell me ,what do you think about these.. after all a picture is worth a thousand words.." he took out about dozen or two large envelope sized postcard pictures and gave him one at a time. Armaan breathed in taking them, this wasn't what he'd expected.. this man was easy after all, he thought, and hoped that soon he'll be spared the unnecessary trips. Soon he was giving his views about all of them... Shishir smiled getting along in the flow..

A Week later

" Shishir isn't that bad. I mean if this is what we're going to talk about.." he was giving the details of the day's session to her as they drove back home.

" about what? " Ridhhima asked. " you know, the general stuff.. he just want me to focus on things that calm me then get to kind of list things that trouble me or annoy or irritate me." He smirked " I should simply write the address of my office. Right now that's what is worrying me most " she rolled her eyes. Not the work again! " hey don't look at me like that! Do you know how much work I have to hold back because of these useless meetings! "

" they're Not useless Armaan " she reminded, exasperated " and what the use of you being the boss if you can't take off whenever you what! " and it continued... Ridhhima hid the fact that she was regularly in contact with Shishir regarding his progress. That very night when Armaan was busy with his work she called Shishir...

" How's he doing uncle? " she just couldn't bring herself to call him by name like Armaan and he so nicely fit in the role neither he complained.

" I've just been ascertaining about his problem, see how deep it goes. "

" How deep then? "

" deeper than many others but I think we can manage it. The part is no longer improbable.. just requires little time " Ridhhima felt like being hit by a warm ray of sun in chilly winter.

Fortnight later

Lying in his arms in quiet peaceful night she recalled Shishir's words... " you must understand Ridhhima, everyone have these ideas.. their own way to picture themselves in a particular role . Its their theories that mold them as a person, their likes and dislikes preferences that's how they act see even feel about people and things around them and in Armaan's case it is to be a protector... from his favourite comic character Superman to his hiding things that he think may hurt or worry his dear ones all indicate to that very role he pictures himself into- a protector." Ridhhima listened quietly " and protectors take away the troubles Ridhhima, they take away the pain they shield their loved ones, stop anything from harming them. Protectors can't be weak, they can't show any weakness. No matter what..."

She sighed he was so right. She tilted up her head gazing at his peaceful face deep in slumber... how much he'd endured for his loved ones. How much hurt he'd hidden within those deep layers of his heart. She gently caressed his face as a tear rolled down from the corner of her eye, she hugged him tightly.. the won't be any more hurt now, she'd be his protector now, she'd shield him from any pain...

A month later

" we can't rush him into remembering everything in one go Ridhhima. He's barely started talking and we have to gently clean the dust, not scratch the surface. The shock of truth and the stress can alone undo all our efforts raising even more problems for us ,it should be gradual..." Ridhhima nodded in agreement " And Ridhhima "

" Yes uncle "

" I think you know this already but still.. he loves you very much." He gave a soft smile

Ridhhima smiled brightly " you are right uncle. I know that, but.." rosiness spread on her cheeks " I admit it sounds wonderful every time I hear it." Shishir nodded like an experienced person.

" But do you realize that you are the focus of his concern now. Especially after his mom and aunt... Take care of yourself. For his sake... He will always be your protector and he will be very harsh on himself if he fails to fulfill his duty.. his fault or not. Minor or major, doesn't matter " Ridhhima nodded she knew what Shishir wanted to say.

" and what about his diaries? Can they be of some help? Should I mention them to him, may be he can show you and let you know more.."

" no, I don't think that is required " He gave a dismissive wave of hand " if he's keeping a journal then its good probably one of the reason that he could make it so far without going crazy. They are his outlet.. he talks to them about everything if not to anyone else.. oh don't be disappointed! " he could see her face falling a little feeling sad " he has made a lot of improvement. Did you imagine him sharing those memories of his mother however small, till now with anyone.. you're the first person he went to, that's the beginning of the solution.." Ridhhima knew he was right Armaan has indeed started opening up to her, he even managed to go to his childhood room though he could not bring himself to step inside but he stood there for good twenty minutes, longer than all the time put together since he'd quit visiting that room... it was improvement indeed..

Month and a half later

" uncle what about the thing we talked about.. the hypnosis.." Ridhhima was on phone with Shishir. She no longer went along with him for the sessions. It happened on a particularly busy day in the hospital, she called him to inform that she would be little late for their meeting but to her great surprise he asked if it was okay if he went alone. And since that day he went all by himself ,never cheating his way for something else which was another surprise. Virendra was bit unsure but his doubts proved vain. But Ridhhima kept regular tabs on his progress keeping others updated as well. Recently he looked bit baffled, she tried to ask him but he was kind of evasive yet, he shared some more memories.. few things they never discussed about his childhood but before she could ask or coax him to tell anymore he raised his guards shutting everything away.

Worried she called Shishir remembering something they talked about as an effective option " with the present situation, yes.. it can certainly help us clear a great deal but remember what I told you ,gradually not abruptly. We need to prepare him to face and fight the worst nightmare of his life "

She nodded " and how long do you think that'll take? I mean when can you..."

" mostly depends on him. When he's ready, I'm ready "

" I hope he gets ready soon "

Shishir got curious " and why's that? "

" he gave me only 3 months to.. um carry on with the.. experiment. And don't be fooled by his smiles and regular visits he's ticking off every day. He won't hear a word after that about anything related to this "

" but that would be rather too soon. Isn't there anything you can do? "

" I'm afraid I'm helpless here. He won't fall for the same trick again and I'm running out of ideas already "

" hmm. Let me see what I can do. I'll try to help out as much as I can but in case I fail, and in this case there are chances of that, then we have to do it lot earlier then planned.. and it won't be pleasant.."

Slipping in the warm duvet covers he planted a quick kiss on the cheek of his deeply engrossed in a stupid romantic novel wife. He grinned picking up his laptop when she kept her eyes glued to the pages sipping hot chocolate from a big covered glass through the longest and most weirdly curved straw he'd ever seen. God knows where she managed to find that thing!. And though he liked the drink he preferred to keep it simple and drink it in the most regular way known to man- directly from the glass.

" you didn't tell me how was the day today? " she closed the book turning to face him

" I thought you were busy with the book and weirdo " he pointed to the straw, grinning

" don't stall mister. Out with it immediately " Armaan shook his head letting out a deep breath " it was fine. Okay I guess." He kept going through the files " In fact I really don't know what he's trying to find out.."

" find out? What do you mean find out? " she asked

" Shishir told me he's trying to find out the root of the problem. Something that will solve it for ever. He thinks I have the answer to that, but I think he know the reason but is just trying to make me solve the puzzle " his grin almost vanished when he said that, for a moment she felt as if he knew everything already but then that couldn't be the case or he wouldn't have been so casual about it." I mean, okay ,I agree there are certain issues but that's not such a big issue! people hide few things and they tell few things. Big deal! I bet you do that too " he raised his eyes looking at her. Coming out of her doubts Ridhhima's mouth fell open at the indirect 'accusation'.

" Me! Hide something from you?! Yeah right! What did I hide from you mister? " he raised his brows as she got into her charging mode " what can a woman hide from her husband? especially a nut case like you! An affair? - well you already know about my chhoti si never there love story. A boyfriend? - No thank you very much I'm very happily married." It instantly made his heart glad but she was in a row " An admirer- well, I have many, but you've met the best one, right now he's out there sleeping in his kennel " he tried to say something but poor man lost his chance long back " apart from that I'm an open book!" She shrugged raising a finger pointing at him " and had that been your case, the situation wouldn't have arised in the first place! And you talk about me hiding things huh! "

Armaan raised his hands surrendering " okay okay! You win. Gosh woman, you just can't stop can you? "

" right. " she smiled back ,very satisfied " you can't win from your wife hubby so just chill " and with a quick kiss on the lips she went back to her book and weirdo- the strange straw. Armaan shook his head smiling widely at his yet another sweet defeat.

Two months later

The things changed and it wasn't how he assumed the meetings would be. At times he looked kind of lost, drained out.. and lapsed into silence at times. It worried Ridhhima that even Leo's presence didn't bother him that much then, Shishir had warned her about the changes that she would se from now on as the things got deeper and touched more sensitive sides.. it was bound to happen, realizing the gravity of the situation she did her best to divert his attention to different things. But it happened that she wasn't successful at all times.. there were nights when he'd twist and turn and wake up panting from his sleep. Those were the particularly difficult sleepless nights...

Things took a lot different turn when a delivery was made from Prakriti Goswami.. and something that was already planned from their side was initiated at the same time... All hell broke lose...

" What the hell is this!?? " Armaan shouted out calling Martin at the top of his voice shaking the house with his thunderous call. An undesirable session with Shishir only added to the fire. Martin stood by his side and others were on their heels too " what the hell is this Martin? " he pointed to the large portrait that now adorned the great landing at the center. " who..? Where? " unable to formulate the emotions in words he ran his hand through his hair in frustration. " They came in today sir, madam said it was a gift from your other friend a certain Mrs. Goswami."

" Prakriti Goswami? Shishir's wife sent this?! but how come she know how mom looked like? "

" I sent her the picture " Virendra stepped in signalling Martin to leave them alone " she called Ridhhima to ask what she'd like to have and it was my idea that.. as its your mom's birthday today I thought it would be only befitting to bring her back in our lives "

Armaan immediately felt apologetic and very guilty, he cursed himself for forgetting the day even. May be he's let her go too far away " I.. I.. but dad " he still could not bring himself to look eye to eye into that smiling portrait and that wasn't all, Prakriti had drawn one with him standing by her side. The tornado that raged in his mind and heart was inexplicable and yet he could not kill his fathers hope.. a very little he'd asked from him in years, hadn't he sacrificed enough for his sake. The man had even been away from the very memories of his wife he so dearly love. Had he been in his place.. Armaan shuddered at the thought.. it was too frightening .. his Ridhhima.. No. No way!.. " Armaan.." Virendra's soft voice brought him out of his thoughts " I know things haven't been good for past few years .. but I'm getting old Armaan.. and .. I miss her.. I want to see her before she fades away.. what am I going to say when I'll meet her.."

" dad.." Virendra spoke again " please Armaan.. you must let go.. accept it Armaan... let her be the part of our lives again.. of your life.."

Armaan looked at the portrait again this time a bit longer " I don't think the problem lies in not letting her be the part of our lives.. I think I never let her go... I kept her too much for myself " he stormed away from there stopping again when he saw the other portrait hanging in his father's bedroom right above his bed.. a tear rolled down his eye.. how could he forget.." happy birthday mom.." he whispered, it was going to be a difficult night.

Two and a half month later

" I'm not going to see that man ever again in my life.!" He threw away his tie angrily turning to Ridhhima pointing a finger " And if you ask me again I will never talk to you ever again either." Ridhhima rushed after him shocked and worried already regretting her decision to let him go by himself these days.

" But.. will you just tell me what the hell happened??"

" What happened!? That man.. he.. thinks.. he said I'm scared. I'm scared of talking about my mom. Hell yes I don't like talking about her. I don't like talking about the dead. And he says I have unresolved mother issues. Can you believe the nerve of that man! And that's not all. He said I'm hiding something about her death .. about people who killed her!." He ran his fingers in his hair, she knew he was very angry and frustrated.

" What the heck! Why did he say that? " Suddenly Ridhhima was annoyed too. She couldn't see him like that, this was the very reason she wanted him to meet Shishir to solve the matter not to add to the trouble.

" How can I know?" He yelled " it was your idea to see him. Are you happy now?!" snatching away his night suit from the hanger he stormed out, seconds later she heard bathroom door slammed shut. She knew the problem was there but obviously Shishir could have thought of a better way than to blurt out everything before him like this. Anger rose in her heart. How dare he hurt Armaan like that.! Coming out of the walk in wardrobe she picked up the phone.

" Ah Ridhhima.. yes I was rather waiting for your call. What took you so long? "

" my call? You knew I was going to call?" Ridhhima was surprised, she'd hardly said a hello in a very cold way and wasn't expecting an amused reply.
" of course, after today's session it was rather expected. Before you ask let me fill you up with details. It didn't go too well today, he stormed out angrily when I gave some details of the issues troubling him"

" he's still in a very bad mood, you know how touchy he still is. Why did you tell him everything now? " agitation was clear in her voice

" I didn't tell him 'everything' Ridhhima. Just a rough overview. I too happen to know it would be bad idea considering I'm the one treating him" Ridhhima immediately felt embarrassed. Of course he'd know better he was the expert moreover, Armaan can be really pushy and overbearing at times. She let out a sigh running her fingers in her hair " what should we do now? At present I can't even ask him to think logically, he'd abandon everything then and there"

" but we cannot leave everything right now when he's really making progress though he doesn't like it and it's good that he know something about it now, I want him to go through the decided procedure but not when he's unaware or unprepared. I was going through the old reports your father in law provided.. and according to these they were unable to break even the first layer.. but the guards are weakening and if we do not act now it would be never.."

" I'm hope he'd agree to one last request.."

" Hmm.. I've been working on it for the past two months and still I kind of doubt if it will be successful. He fought fiercely before and might do that again "

" what ?! He fought with those doctors! But he was just a kid. How could.."

" I'm not talking about some kid throwing tantrum or I-don't-agree-with -you fight Ridhhima I'm talking about fight with all your will, all your might.. the repulsion to their 'intrusion' was so great that they had to stop or the mere pressure would have killed him " Ridhhima fell silent shuddering at the thought

" is it that bad? " her voice bit shaky. " yes. Imagine two powerful giant magnets with same poles and someone forcing them together. How would they react ? His mind did the same. It repelled. To much of pressure would only add to problems rather than giving any solutions"

" that's scary. What should I do ? Now he might not cone to see you aga.." she stopped midway hearing the door shutting again. He was out of the shower and she could hear his footsteps coming closer.

" what happened?" Shishir asked " he's around. Isn't he?"

" yes " she replied hastily

" look we cannot abandon the plan when we've come so far. We'll definitely try for the time and if not then go with it anyway. But for now, yell at me like you were going to do before. "

" what?! " she could now see Armaan approaching from the corner of her eye, he was probably not aware whom she was talking to " but how.."

Shishir chuckled " I happen to know you little as well, if he's mad at me you won't like me either. Now let's salvage the situation. Yell with whatever comes to your mind. Start"

He was only steps away from her now and though her back was facing him she could hear the flip flop of his slippers " sorry in advance " she said hurriedly and got Shishir's laugh in response " Mr. Goswami who the hell do you think you you are?! just because you sit on the other side of the table with those degrees hanging on your head doesn't give you the right to say whatever you feel like.." Armaan stopped in his tracks hearing her lash out, using surnames to address someone was never a good sign with Riddhima. But he was angry and it kind of felt nice, let him have a little dose, he thought " what a the hell do you know anyway " Ridhhima continued.

" hey those degrees aren't fake you know " Shishir listened at the other end like she was cracking some jokes.

" how can you say he's hiding something that too about Naina mom! " Shishir encouraged her on the other end to carry on " you're there just to help him get rid of his nightmares not create new ones. Don't go overboard, if there's anything he had to tell about Naina mom then his family is there " Armaan stood there listening everything his anger already ebbing away. He stood there imagining the poor guy on the other end sputtering for the chance to utter a word but the way she was going on he had no chance at all. She went on for another two minutes during which Armaan started feeling bad for the old man but she was nowhere near the end ".. stop being insensitive old baffon! "

" ouch ! that hurt " and before Ridhhima realized she uttered a sorry. But Shishir only laughed " what the hell are you doing as a doctor! Ever heard of Bollywood. Plz continue " Ridhhima stifled her grin resuming the act with renewed energy.

" I'm sorry that I sent him to you. He won't be coming to see you now "

" Uh-oh. You shouldn't have said that.." Ridhhima immediately realized her mistake but before she or Shishir could say anything Armaan suddenly took the phone away from her hand and disconnected the call.

" Ridhhima what were you doing?" for a moment she was startled but then realized that he was rather annoyed than angry, she quickly wrapped her arms around him surprising him a little " how dare he hurt you Armaan. I won't allow 'anyone' to do that. Ever". He let out a sigh, after what he witnessed a moment ago he wasn't left in need of any sort of confirmation. Wrapping his arms around her he rested his cheek on her head, strange as it sound but her lashing out on Shishir cooled him off a bit, a little more than a bit maybe. Ridhhima stroked his back softly waiting for him to speak.

" but.. I may have overreacted " and she was right. Breaking the hug she cupped his face caressing it with her thumb, his eyes were fixed on some spot on her shoulder almost apologetically " I kind of pestered him.. after I peaked into his notes with my name in them " he confessed like a kid accepting that he peeped into neighbors bedroom..

" you did that! " his eyebrows scrunched and he looked delectably cute." He wasn't around and I was just curious, it just happened accidentally " she felt tempted to point out that the notes weren't exactly waving at him but curbed it " and one thing led to another and.." he trailed off

" fine. But he could have been.more diplomatic. Understanding " she feigned anger

" he was.. reluctant. But I kind of.. forced him " he uttered the word with difficulty suddenly feeling the need to change the topic, Riddhima on the other hand in any other situation would have pulled his cheeks and given him a tight hug with a nice kiss but refrained." But you shouldn't have called him an old baffon. He's touchy about his age, he's not the only one who notice things " he smirked finally meeting her gaze " he's kind of.. okay " coming from Armaan this was no less than I Love You "...and he's also your father's friend. What would he think of us now? "

" I don't care. And you don't have to see him again if you don't want to " Ridhhima hugged him again relieved that the situation wasn't that out of control hoping her reverse psychology would work but when he didn't said anything for a moment she feared if he would accept, after all this was what he wanted from the start and her stupid suggestion would spoil everything. But relief came soon.

" hmm, but I think I should apologize for my behaviour today. And also for yours. Together we kind of chewed the old man away " Ridhhima grinned along with him both feeling light.

That night resting his head on her chest he lay awake while she ran her fingers in his hair just the way he liked. Neither was asleep " Ridhhima.. " she replied with a soft hmm " you know those dreams..." her senses got alert in micro second " they are getting kind of.. clearer"

" clearer..? How? "

" from some time.. since I started with Shishir.. I've kind of started remembering things.. I didn't tell you before because.. I wasn't sure. But I think, I see mom.. and myself.."

" you do? " she asked softly encouraging him to speak, he nodded " did you tell this to Shishir? " he shook his head.

" they aren't that clear...I don't know what to make out of them. They make no sense and yet.. they.. I don't want to see them but I end up thinking about them all the time.. sometimes I'm scared to sleep. It feels like someone is pressurizing me from inside willing to burst out anytime. Every time I see her.. try to remember her, it gets worse. It feels like a bomb ready to explode inside me and I can't even pinpoint the reason. It's tough Ridhhima.. it's so.."

" heyyy shhh " she kissed his forehead wrapping him tightly in her arms whispering softly " don't worry. Everything is going to be okay. Trust me, nothing wrong is going to happen. I'm there with you, why worry... just relax and go to sleep. Tomorrow everything is going to be just fine" he exhaled deeply hiding his face in the crook of her neck taking in that soothing fragrance, his haven.

" But tomorrow " he spoke suddenly " we'll both go to Shishir and apologize for our rude behaviour " she kissed his forehead again in agreement " then we'd bid him goodbye. Those sessions.. I'm not going to see him for that matter ever again " Ridhhima was shocked. Here she thought everything was fine and was even hoping that he'd agree for more time but he was already calling everything off!. She'd have said something but the shock of sudden declaration stole away the moment of protest. By the time she could think of something he was already half asleep and she knew better than to wake him up for reasoning. She must let Shishir know of this first thing in the morning may be Virendra and BP could help in the situation.

She could not sleep for long after that remembering what Shishir told her about his first meeting with Armaan, how on showing those so called pictures by Prakriti, his wife, he recalled every possible relationship of the ladies with children in them except of a mother and child which should be the first response, and that very day he confirmed Shishir's doubts about his problem. He also told her how Armaan unknowingly acted to protect her recalling the time they were in the garden at his home, how he didn't let her touch the beautiful roses saying that beauty should be admired from a distance which was only an excuse since his eyes were fixed on the thorns that could hurt her. And while they were having lunch he covered the corner of the table while she bent down to pick her handkerchief to protect her head from bumping and not only that he put away all the sharp objects little away from her. Ridhhima was so surprised, she'd never paid attention to those things before. She knew that in order to bring out the reason for this behaviour they needed to dig some skeletons.. and his visits to Shishir were bringing so many changes, not all were pleasant though. There were times when his nightmares rose to the frequency of almost sleepless nights and she feared he'd stop but for some reason he kept going but today it happened after all.

The night almost flew away and she still could not come up with anything to make him postpone his decision. She decided to seek help from others but at the breakfast table he gladly announced that his sessions with Shishir officially end that day. They all looked at her with surprise as she hung her face in defeat. BP and others tried to coax him into at least complete his promised time but he refused flatly announcing his verdict that they were so successful that any further continuation wasn't required. All knew what a big fat lie it was but were helpless. Meanwhile Ridhhima managed to update Shishir about the situation, he asked her nor to worry and just bring him over. She agreed but her hopes weren't high, not even above the ground.

They sat in Shishir's office and for the first time things were other way round, Ridhhima was fidgety and nervous and Armaan was calm relaxed and smiling as he sat comfortably in the chair opposite Shishir. They'd just finished their round of coffee with apologies for yesterday, they were magnanimously forgiven.. it was a moment before Shishir spoke as Armaan declared his decision, Shishir looked unperturbed and only gave his Santa smile.

" of course, I understand. But before we come to close I wanted to talk to you about our meetings. You do realize that the is something that is little out of order here, something that troubles you "

" You mean PTSD and that terror thing, also something which you said we haven't yet talked about " his tone clearly suggested that he wasn't interested in any of it now but Shishir was still sitting coolly.

" yes. And you'd agree if I say that in the past couple of months you've made a lot of progress "

" if by progress you mean seeing nightmares almost daily then yes, we've made a lot of 'progress' " he smirked distastefully " you've even helped me in making them so real; life like, vivid! Now I can even remember some of the details " his mocking tone had no effect on Shishir.

" Glad to know of my assistance. But today I wanted, rather ask for something " Armaan looked back curiously, he had a vague idea what he could ask, probably the same thing his dad was asking- more time. But he had his answer ready for that.

He snorted. Ridhhima glared at him warning him to behave " what?! Did you hear what he's saying? Hypnotherapy! Is this for real? Is this some fancy name for hypnosis?. I thought you are a psychiatrist and this is a clinic. Isn't it? "

Shishir smiled " yes it is exactly that. But believe me there is a thing called hypnotherapy and as it shares it's name with some acts magicians perform it shares it's reputation too which is totally misunderstood. I'm not going to make you do anything that you find objectionable Ridhhima is right here to see that. All I'm going to do is make you relax and trust me it's not like what is shown in TV, that's for entertainment this is for clinical purpose" Armaan still looked uncertain " do you remember all those relaxing exercises we did in past sessions, they were the same thing only you got to know the name today " Armaan's mouth fell open a little, he darted his incredulous gaze from Shishir to Ridhhima. " all I'm asking you is to give it a final shot and after all as you said it's the last day you are seeing me for this "

" cmmon Armaan, what's the harm. You've already been doing it. It's just one time " Ridhhima coaxed him secretly glad he couldn't hear her thumping heart.

" really! Hypnosis! Or the swanky word you used The 'hypnotherapy' " he made quotes in the air half annoyed half amused feeling little cheated. They were here to say goodbye to these meetings not to try another experiment, but the cold glare he got from Ridhhima wiped off his smirk and he fell back in the chair crossing his arms across his chest mumbling to himself. Ridhhima exhaled, it was her turn " Armaan, uncle is right. There's no harm in one last try if its going to help then fine or you're free. I promise I won't ask you for this ever again. I really want you to do this for once. And you better do it " her last sentence wasn't a request, it was an order. Armaan looked at Shishir who shrugged lightly as if saying ' this thing is called wife, get used to it'

Armaan rolled his eyes throwing his hands in air, surrendering " Fine. Just this once. And only Once" he warned both of them

Shishir smiled " that's all I need "

Lying on that big comfy couch he waited, it would be just a matter of minutes before Shishir will face disappointment and then he'd be free from this useless meetings.. but it was kind of comfy here.. he sighed inwardly, it felt like he was floating.. there was peace and quiet... he could stay here for a while...

Armaan stormed in the room anger bursting inside him. He wanted to rip them apart limb to limb cut them open and let them bleed dry. He would have done exactly that only if... only if... He would just give anything, anything to go back in time and get those guys. But what made this anger even more unbearable was the fact that the moment might never come. They snatched away everything from him and he couldn't do anything.. frustrated he threw away the vase kept on the table, it crashed with loud noise. Ridhhima rushed after him and saw him throwing things everywhere, she could see the pain on his face and she felt so helpless.. this was not what she wanted.. was the ignorance better? But the voice inside her said, No, it wasn't. They took the right step and it was natural for him to react this way.. it was years of pain and hurt buried in his heart that was finally coming out.. but she must calm him.. she rushed to his side holding his hand that carried a small flower pot aimed at the glass on the wall. She could now see the tears that were kept at bay threatening to spill out ,he looked at her angrily with bloodshot eyes. He was so mad at her too, was this the therapy that was suppose to help him? They were going to stop the nightmares not make his every waking moment torturous, those nightmares were better than this knowledge of what happened.

Ridhhima was bit scared and lot worried, she could see he wasn't happy with the outcome, whole way back he didn't uttered a single word and snapped back when she tried to talk. " Armaan please calm down, you'll hurt yourself " she took away the pot from his hand.

" calm down! You're asking me to calm down! You know what they did.. " he grabbed her by her arms angry tears rolled down his cheeks " why? Why my mom?? " he pushed her away pointing a finger at her " and you.. why did you have to do this?! Why did you interfere so much? " he had no idea what he was saying all he felt was helplessness, frustration and anger...

" I'm part of you Armaan, you cannot shove me away " she said firmly, to which he just turned himself away but she wasn't going to let it go he needed her now more than ever. She held his arm making him face her, she could see it in his eyes that he meant none of what he said " please try to understand Armaan, I know this is very painful to you but it was necessary .. the pain was eating you from inside.. sambhalo apne aap ko.."

" Sambhalun apne aap ko.. how? Tell me how Ridhhima? " he held her arms again " the more I try to forget the more it comes before my eyes. I didn't shed a single tear for years.. I was scared to even look at my mom.. Just because of me dad suffered so much and now that I know I still am as helpless as I was then. I should've protected her, saved her but she died.. she died.. gone... because of me " he hung his face hiding it it his palms tears streaming down freely, his legs felt weak and he slid down on the floor breaking down completely, her heart twisted seeing him but she knew she had to be strong for his sake. She quickly took him into her arms holding him tight " Armaan main hun naa.. everything is going to be okay. And it did not happened because of you. You were the bravest 10 yr old ever.. never ever blame yourself for anything Armaan. Naina mom didn't die because of you.. you did the best you could.. just remember whatever happens I'm always there for you.." she kissed his head sealing the promise.

" But till when Ridhhma.. till when?.. mom chali gayi, badi maa chali gayi... tum bhi chali jaogi.." Ridhhima was shocked to hear it, where did that come from? but of course he feared, has always feared, that he'll lose her like the precious ones before. He shuddered in her embrace gasping, the air was suffocatingly thick in the room. He couldn't breathe, it was choking him. He swallowed a lump gulping air as the images flashed again and again before his eyes like it all happened moments ago.. and there was no way he could shut them off. Ridhhima stroked his back holding him tight. " let it go Armaan .. let all the pain pour out today... but just remember one thing I'm right here by your side always. I'm not going to leave you ever. I promise that, nothing and no one can ever take you away from me." She felt his arms slowly tighten around her, his tears seeped through her shirt and she got her answer. Both sat there in the middle of the upturned room holding each other creating a haven of their own..

Long after, probably hours later she sat by his side stroking his hair with an arm wrapped around him which he held tightly as he lay on the bed with silent tears streaming down. After that outburst he fell quiet and refused to let her go, he didn't uttered a word and it was with some efforts and lot of convincing that he moved to bed, but still refused to close his eyes. She coaxed him gently to sleep, he needed that badly but he didn't respond. Ridhhima was very worried but hid her tears from him. Shishir texted her to make him take some rest and after what felt like eternity his eyes seemed little heavy. It took her another hour of sweet assurances, caressing and promising that he finally fell asleep. It was almost evening and she knew the family was waiting impatiently to know what happened, after she'd texted them to wait till she comes out and explain everything. It was when she was sure that he was sound asleep she gently freed herself planting a sweet kiss on his head. Leaving the door a little ajar she came out to the parlour and found everyone waiting for her. Virendra was pacing around while BP stood with arms crossed across his chest and Rahul and Muskaan had clear sign of worries on their faces, all waiting anxiously for her, to know what happened after all.

Virendra rushed towards her as soon as she emerged out " Ridhhima, how's he?.."

" It's okay papa. He's sleeping now. It had been very.. tough day for him.. why don't you go and see him.." BP gently pressed his shoulder urging him to go ahead " go.. we'll wait here " Virendra nodded moving into the room, he'd never felt so anxious.. scared since that incident.

A while later all sat in the parlour Virendra looked little lost, his moist eyes failed his efforts to hide his pain and BP had already excused himself twice in the pretext of one thing or another but everyone knew he too was trying to hide his tears. Both the ladies sat quietly and Rahul had already twisted two spoons fuming invisible fire. Everybody knew he couldn't bear anyone or anything hurting his brother and right now he felt as helpless as Armaan. It was Muskaan who broke the silence " Ridhhima.. what happened today? "

" Bhabhi.. we got to find out the reason of Armaan's nightmares.. everything that happen since the day he and Naina mom were kidnapped.. Armaan.. told everything.. and it was terrifying what they had to bear.. what those people did to them.."

" What happened? " Rahul asked after a long silence. Ridhhima looked up, she suppressed a shudder as she recalled what happened today " the hypnotherapy worked, Armaan recalled everything what the doctors could not make him do earlier..."

Ridhhima observed anxiously as Shishir progressed, as soon as Armaan consented to go ahead Shishir got into action and within no time he'd Armaan lying on the couch with his eyes closed like he was in some kind of deep sleep.. this much she was aware that he was in a very relaxed state and as Shishir had explained in whisper, in the deepest realms of his subconscious mind.. farthest they'd ever been. She sat there listening to the soft clear tone as Shishir led Armaan further..

" where are you Armaan? " Shishir asked, but he didn't get any reply for a moment " Armaan,,," he proded again

" I.. I don't know " Ridhhima watched as he spoke, his face didn't showed sign of any emotion he was feeling.

" His do you feel Armaan? .. comfortable.. relaxed.." he didn't got the reply again " Armaan, it is very relaxing and comfortable " this time he stressed on the words kind of making him feel so rather than asking.

" yes.. it is very comfortable " Ridhhima glanced at Shishir who'd lost all the soft father Santa look and instead had the fierce determined coldness of someone who knew what he was doing. And for his own sake she prayed he did or she'd really eat him up alive.

" now Armaan, go back.. go back 10 months.. where are you? What are you doing right now? "

" I'm at my office.. checking a presentation.. I'm worried "

" Why are you worried Armaan? "

" The Axion project. I don't want Modi or anyone else to take that away from us " Shishir ticked the information in the card at hand, something which Ridhhima had provided beforehand. He kept asking few things which he kept ticking off as they turned out right taking him farther slowly but her heart drummed wildly when he finally uttered the words..

" Now go back to your 10th birthday Armaan.. has the party started? What are you doing right now?"

" " yes.. it's my birthday.. the party has started, everybody is there.. I'm standing with mom and dad.. I'm holding a knife to cut the cake. I look very happy " and though his face lacked sign of any emotion he looked peaceful and relaxed like he was really happy, but the thought of things after sent a shiver down Ridhhima's spine. Shishir in the other hand kept asking him general questions and the extent of the information surprised her, there was no way anyone could remember that much especially someone who had almost no recollection of the day. Surely the idea was working but the worst was just around the corner. She was brought back from her thoughts a moment later..

" I'm crying.."

" why are you crying? "

" Ridhhima broke my new toy set.. I beat her and mom slapped me.. she's crying so loudly now but she's acting.. I just pulled her pigtails again " A smile crept on her face, they really had a bad fight and she had no idea she had pigtails then!..her smile vanished next second when Shishir moved on to his next question..

" it's the next day Armaan, what are you doing right now? " he got all the expected answers and then Shishir slowed down to hear what he had to say

" I'm now at the toy store.. it's so big.. I've left mom behind, I've to look for my toy set..." he paused for a moment like he was really searching for it " found it! " Ridhhima could feel the excitement in his otherwise flat tone. "But.. there is a man.. I don't like him he's staring at me.. he looks scary..."

" Are you alone? where's your mother? "

" she must be here somewhere.. she was here a moment ago.. may be she's on other side. I.." he suddenly stopped

" what happened Armaan? "

" I don't like this man.. he's coming towards me, he wants to steal my toy set..." a light frown came over his face " he's grabbed my hand. I'll teach him a lesson " Ridhhima felt like warning that it isn't the toy set he's after " he's backing off now. That kick in his shins should be enough, the manager is coming towards us.. he's gone now " Ridhhima could imagine him bubbling with pride but if only this would have stopped then...

" what else is going on Armaan ?" Shishir asked, for a moment Armaan didn't answer his eyebrows scrunched a little like he was trying hard to see through a curtain of mist.. Shishir called again his tone prodding, as if reminding a child to pull back his attention to the task at hand " I'm looking for mom.. the man is there again, he's talking to someone... there are others too.. they are dragging... no, pulling something.. they must be thieves. We're hiding behind a shelf. We'll follow them secretly and bust them "

" we? Who else is there with you Armaan? "

" Sherkhan.." the pieces of puzzle started to put themselves in order. Sherkhan was with him that unfortunate day, throughout the time they were held captive. No wonder he brought those haunting memories back. " Noo.."

" what happened ?"

" They.. they are taking mom.. they're taking mom.. through the small back door.." Shishir asked him to calm down and continue " I've to bring her back, they can't take her away. It's that man I kicked. I'll.." he stopped for a moment again " the man has grabbed me.. he's not letting me go... he's pushed us in a car.. van, it has no seats.. mom is there she's not saying anything.. it's the parking.. it's empty, I'm screaming but no one's listening. Mom's not listening she's just lying there. Someone's coming.. I'm screaming but..someone hit me.. it hurts.. there's something on my face.. a handkerchief.." Armaan fell silent. Shishir and Ridhhima exchanged glances neither of them needed another clue to know that they were knocked out.

Ridhhima exhaled as others sat still listening with bated breaths " he recalled a room where they were kept. It had a window with bars and by the description it seems it was underground.. he recalled a small vent through which sunlight creeped in.. that was the only way they could tell if it was day or night and they were.. beaten, almost daily.." Muskaan let out a small gasp Virendra's jaw clenched, Rahul's eyes were set on a spot at the table but he clenched his fist so tight that his knuckles turned white, BP on the other hand was staring out at nothing but she knew he was hanging on to each and every word. " what else he said?.." BP broke the silence.

" He recalled someone who came there everyday... you were right papa " Virendra looked up at her " it was the same man, he called him Kamal Mama " Rahul got up angrily punching the table in frustration " I knew it!. That bas***d!.. if only I can lay my hands on him "

" He wasn't alone bhaiyya. Going by the details he wasn't playing that major role. He was a greedy coward who got involved with some really dangerous people.." Rahul threw a questioning look " we came to know a lot today..."

" I'm lying on my back, it hurts so much... they've beaten me badly today. Mom is crying from the room... I can hear her shouting to let me go. No one is listening to her..'

" who all are there Armaan? Do you know anyone there? "

" Yes... I know someone. I think everything is going to be okay.. it's.. Kamal mama there. He'll take us out of here..." but the light frown returned again " but why isn't he even looking at me.. I want to get up but it hurts so much "

" It's okay Armaan.. can you tell what they are talking about? " he didn't said anything but his tone changed and the voice that came out was not his at all.

"... you are going to kill them this way."

" I don't care. For every scratch on my brother's body they get a gash. For every finger raised at him, they get a nice dose. Why do you worry? And if you are so concerned get me my money and most important get my brother out of prison. Do you understand! "...

" It's not that easy. You have caused a riot out there. You not only got the wrong woman you got the kid too. Do you have any idea what kind of connections his father has! If they as much as get a whiff that I'm in anyway involved we'd.."

" We? Who says 'we'. It was your idea to get your sister so that I get my money. So what if we got the wrong people it's double lucrative. This pup alone can get us twice the amount "

" who's the man Armaan.. can you describe the man "

Suddenly he came back to his normal mode " he's.. tall, dusky muscular figure.. he's dressed nicely but he's pointing a gun on mama's chest. He looks mean.. I think I know him.. he works with Mama.."

" That bloody man was Kamal's partner. Smuggling drugs and distributing fake medicines by our company's name. Both he and kamal disappeared. Managed to escape" BP punched the wall angrily " his brother was caught, charged with crimes like murders extortion fraud and what not.."

" But did you notice one thing dad." Rahul spoke softly coming out of pensive mood " It was all originally planned for, Mom. Armaan and Chhoti ma were never the target at first place " the realization struck everyone hard. BP slumped into the chair nearby.. he looked pale.

" BP.. what happened? " Ridhhima asked " if he wanted his brother why didn't you.."

" we'd have gladly given away that man if he was alive at the first place. " she was perplexed " the man was in police custody on remand and you know how police treats criminals. It seems someone was keeping his brother updated.. if only Kamal would have conveyed what that man actually wanted we could've.. but when we came to know of it, it was too late, the man tried to escape and died in an freak accident.. unfortunately it wasn't believed by his brother and we were blamed to have killed the man by torturing him.."

" That's when things got worse. We couldn't find Naina and Armaan anywhere.. Kamal misguided us about the kidnapper for he wanted money.."

" .. and they suffered hell during this time... do you want know why he's so scared of needles..." a tear rolled down her eyes she could hold it no longer.

" They've tied mom to a pillar.. we're in the large room again. They are going to beat us again.. a man is holding me so tightly, it hurts. The boss.." they called him boss " is angry. Mom is facing the pillar.. I'm scared.. what's he going to do?.. the others are looking at him.. he's adjusted something in his fingers. He's wearing those dangerous rings again... they have pointed edges.. he's walking towards mom.. stop! Stop! Don't hurt her! "

...But unfortunately no one listened, neither then nor now. The man with those rings the dark muscular man- the boss, didn't utter a single word but ran down his hand on Naina's back pulling her hair roughly leaving gashes as his hand slid down. Blood gushed out and her screams filled the room, it only seemed to raise the hunger in the boss' eyes. Mean and cold as they already were they now gleamed with unearthly evil glow. Armaan shouted out cursing the man struggling hard to free himself and reach out to his mother. The boss shifted his attention to him though he was bit scared yet he didn't care he wanted to be with his mom and kill that man.. taking long strides boss stood before him and slapped him so hard that his head spinned his ears were filled with buzzing sound and he almost lost his consciousness. Naina shouted out pleading to take her life but to let go of her son..

" don't worry, we'd just do that too. But for now just experience what it feels like to suffer pain. Let your egoistic bas***d husband realize what it feels like to bear actual pain.. he must be missing his beautiful wife so bad.. and this pup there.. he messed with the wrong man this time " he dug the pointed edges of the rings deeper on her back. The other men laughed, their voices so shrill so cold.. it sent a shiver down the spine.

The boss would have continued but a man came and quickly whispered something in his ear.. his expression changed, he rushed out of the place but not before kicking Armaan which landed straight on his leg making him double up with pain.. he bit his lip to curb his squeal it would only worry her mother more.. she was hanging there tied with those ropes almost lifeless. The sight of her bleeding back and bruised face scared him to death. In the sudden silence of the room he could hear her faint requests to not to hurt her child.

Nobody bothered. They were mercilessly grabbed and half carried half pulled were thrown in the room again. It was dark and the only light that came was from the bulb that lighted the corridor. Naina lay there on the floor groaning with pain only semi conscious her vision hazy. Armaan gathered himself sitting by her side urging her to look at him talk to him.." w..water.." she moaned. He got up groggily, rushing to the pitcher at the corner of the room and got a glassful for her.. with some efforts he made her turn resting her head in his lap slowly tipping up the glass, she breathed unevenly drained of all the energy, he made her lie back on her stomach those gashes still trickled out blood. He looked around and found a shopping bag that was fortunately thrown in with them at their arrival, he quickly fished out a T-shirt and dipping it in the water sat by her side cleaning her wounds as softly as he could though his tears streamed down non stop blurring his vision " it's okay mumma.. it's just going to hurt a little.. I'll do it softly, very carefully.. everything is going to be okay. I'm here naa.." he kept consoling between hiccups as she winced with pain, it cleared her mind for a moment and fresh tears rolled down seeing her brave 10 yr old son, he'd suddenly grown up so much.. slowly she held his hand in her cold shaky one putting on a brave smile " d..don't lose hope beta. You are so brave. I'm proud of you.. I.. I'm there with you.. don't worry, everything is going to be okay " a lump blocked his speech and he just nodded resuming his task. He dozed off sitting by her side seeking and giving protection holding tight her hand with one and sherkhan with another.

A soft moaning sound woke him up. Squinting his eyes he tried to register his surroundings it took a micro second and it all came back to him, he almost jumped out of his skin seeing someone beside him but then realized it was his mother, she was feebly asking for water. He quickly got to his feet but to his horror the pitcher was empty. He'd used all of it to clean her wounds.. he ran to Naina and bending down whispered softly " mumma there's no water here.. just wait a little I'll get some for you.." he rushed to the window shouting with all the left over energy and banged the door to get some attention. " open the door! I want some water! Open the door!! " he could hear someone laughing, there must be people in the big room, he banged the door again shouting as loudly as he could through his hoarse throat.

".. common your turn " the man threw away the cigarette with a last puff, now frowning " yeh saala!. Doesn't even let us play in peace for a while. What a pest! "

" common just go and have a look. I need to take a leak too " the man threw his cards on the advise of his friend his other two companions stretched themselves. The man walked to the door and as soon as he opened the door he grabbed Armaan by neck dragging him out to the large room, " so? Why were you shouting? You want to turn us deaf!? " others laughed at his lame non existent joke whereas Armaan gulped steadying himself on his feet somewhat wobbly " I.. I want some water.. my mom " he choked, tears of helplessness streamed down as he glanced in the direction of the room where his mother lay on the floor almost lifeless.

" achha, paani chahiye. To le le. " the man waved a bottle before him. Forgetting everything he wiped off his tears and rushed towards the bottle but before his fingers could reach the bottle a tight slap landed on his cheek landing him on a pile of boxes while the men laughed like they'd just seen a very amusing act " not so easily kid. It's no fun. Isn't it guys? " he glanced at his cronies bending over Armaan looking into his eyes, Armaan flinched back expecting another hit " you want water? " he nodded " then work for it.." the man straightened himself and then walking by the side to the old iron staircase that led to the floor above in the large hall kept the bottle on the last step " go, and get it " Armaan looked uncertainly at them and slowly got up hesitating, he was a step away from the first step when the man tripped him and his head banged on the iron railing. It had no effect on the stone hearted men who watched everything with sadistic pleasure " not so soon bachhe.." the man then picked up a box that fell from the pile kept nearby, ripping it open he spilled the contents of the large box all over on the steps. Armaan's eyes widened seeing the contents they were sinister looking hypodermic needles, he gulped shifting from one foot to another uneasily.

He was staring at the staircase when a loud order startled him " common Richie Rich, take off those bloody shoes! Bada aaya amirzada kahin ka.! Is saale ki wajah se hum kabse yahan is jungle main atke hue hain " he spat on the floor giving him an evil look. Armaan quickly did as he was ordered he just wanted to have that bottle and go back to his mom. " now common go and take the bottle." The man bent down to his eye level, Armaan could smell his stinky breath of alcohol and tobacco mixed with cigarettes, he pointed a finger threateningly " just remember, go by the stairs or.." he pushed him to the staircase.

Armaan limped to the staircase standing at the bottom he could see the wide old iron staircase, every step twinkled with sharp mean looking needles pointing at every weird angle ready to poke anyone deep with slightest touch, he gulped, he wasn't wearing any shoes... he took a step back. He wasn't going to step on those. He got his shots and they hurt even when doctor was gentle.. and these.. " Abe soch kya raha hai? Ab paani nahi chahiye? " and they all laughed, shrill laugh that pierced through his ears. He stepped back, he was scared.. very scared.. but then he heard his mothers soft groans seeping out of the room. She was thirsty, she needed water. His eyes darted to the staircase to those men and to the way to the room to his mom pleading for water.

In a moment it was decided.

Limping he stepped ahead, grabbing the railing of the staircase he raised his right foot. The monsters- calling them men would be too respectful- suddenly stopped laughing and watched him closely, they didn't even blink. He brought the foot down slowly on the first step increasing the pressure lightly, he could feel the sharp needles crunch under his weight, luckily none pricked. Still expecting pain any moment he grabbed the railing tightly standing on one foot and first step. Reminding himself that there were just 9 more to go, he stepped on the second with left but this time he wasn't that fortunate.. as soon as he increased the pressure a sharp needle pierced through. Grabbing the railing with both hands he stood there crying with that unbearable pain but the groans of his mother in that utter silence didn't let him stop. His mother was thirsty.

Every step brought excruciating pain but he didn't stop, the men seemed paralyzed with wonder, none took pity. By fifth step his head started to spin and it felt he could no longer go on. He stopped and with humongous efforts looked down at his bleeding feet, bending his leg up he plucked the needles out.. and every pluck was a moment spent in hell.

With another two painful steps he was on seventh step and if he could stretch his hand he could grab the bottle. Joy and hope gushed through his heart, wiping off the tears he took a deep breath bending forward.. extending his left hand as far as he could balancing on those sharp needles as well as he could. The men down below watched him in utter amazement. He had his eyes fixed on his target and though another needle or two pinched his skin he didn't cared.. but there was a problem, the bottle was kept little to the left, to the wall side and in order to reach it he'd to let go of the railing. Tentatively he slowly left the railing but his bleeding feet and injured leg shook badly and he held the railing again grabbing it tightly, his heart was beating out of his chest but he'd to try again. Taking in deep breaths he tried to focus through his tears and spinning head. Though his legs shook he somehow balanced himself and inched towards the left, slowly he let go of the support fingers trying to reach as far as they could open wide ready to grab... he bent forward.. a little more to the left a little more forward.. and.. he grabbed the bottle in one quick movement. He felt so happy, so relieved.. it was beyond words.. he stood up straight.. and it was a mistake.

The sudden shift of pressure sent a needle piercing straight through his heel and he lost balance feeling the sudden fiery pain. That wasn't all, being little away from the sidebars he missed his chance to hold them for support and fell back on the needles rolling down from the stairs with needles piercing through his body as if all of them were blood thirsty for ages. They pierced through his back stomach hands legs.. he yelled with pain to which the word excruciating felt small and insignificant. He finally landed on the floor with needles hanging from his shirt red with blood that looked like someone had sprayed it on him there was good that flowed from the gash on his head.. but he still held the bottle in his hand. He just lay the crying scared to even move a muscle, fearing the pain it would cause.

Suddenly men came into action " common hold him. Mar gaya to hamari shamat aa jayegi. Abhi dono ko zinda rakhna hai " the men rushed to him picking him up roughly, they pulled out the needles as roughly as they could he'd have passed out if the thought of his thirsty mother wasn't keeping him up. They threw him in the room with the bottle where he lay on the floor for a while feeling he'd die, the semi dark room floated before his eyes but then it stopped before an image. His mother. She was lying there, just lying there.. she wasn't moving.. she wasn't even groaning. Immense dark fear gripped his heart. Gathering all his courage he slithered towards his mother, his legs were unable to bear his weight any longer.. his heart pounded wild and fear gripped his heart so strongly that he forgot to cry." Mumma.. mumma.." he shook the body for any sign of life. A moment later which felt like eternity, she shifted her head a little. A wave of relief so great passed through him the he fell back and cried out loudly. Moment later he held the bottle in his hand and turned her face upwards pouring water in her mouth as steadily as his shaking hands could allow. She gulped it down slowly and all the pain seemed worthwhile that moment.

She paused for a moment. There was silence so profound in the room that one could hear their own heart beats, only broken with occasional sniffs from Muskaan and Ridhhima. It was getting dark now. It was Martin who turned on the lights, when he came to enquire if anything was required or they would have continued to sit there in the gradually darkening room.. Virendra sighed breaking his long silence.. he remember it so clearly still, it was the time he got that call, those blood soaked pieces of clothes.. his heart twisted remembering it. How helpless and miserable he'd felt then. He'd never ever prayed to god so hard. What he wouldn't have given to get his wife and son back. And he did got them back, only to lose one of them again.. and he'd almost lost his son later..." what happened then? "...

Wiping her tears Ridhhima swallowed the lump in her throat. It was so painful just to tell them what it would've felt like for them to actually go through all that pain...

For next three days nobody came to them. They were not beaten or were forced to go through any other excruciating task on the contrary they were given food clothes and even medicines. Naina gained some strength and her mother's heart shed bloody tears on seeing the scars on her little son's body. She cursed the monsters the worst fate of all, she begged god to make them pay for their evilness.. they would. Holding Armaan close to her chest she sat in the room huddled in the corner soothing him caressing his hair wrapping him in her arms giving him all the protection and love of the world. She promised herself no matter what she would not let her son go through any sort of pain any more. Even at the cost of her life, if that's what it would take. They had played with them like an animal with its prey, but no more.

And probably God heard her prayers, but who knew the freedom would come at exactly the price she'd offered.

Two plates of food were slid inside through an opening in the door at the bottom startling them for a moment Naina feared that they'd come for them again Armaan clutched her tightly holding Sherkhan with the other hand hiding himself in her arms.. but nothing happened. The footsteps sounded distant as the two men walked away talking, their hushed conversation was kind of urgent. She'd noticed that for the past two three days things were kind of different around there as if something went out of plan. A faint glimmer of hope flickered in her heart, If that was bad for these monsters then it was good news for them. Keeping the finger before her lips she signalled Armaan to be quiet, he nodded but his heart still pounded wildly, this place was so unpredictable and scary.. he didn't wanted his mother to land herself into any more trouble. He watched with bated breath as she tiptoed to the door, his heart pounded in his ears and suddenly a pain shot through his body rising from his feet reaching everywhere setting it on fire, he clenched Sherkhan tightly to control the throbbing. On the other hand Naina hid herself behind the darkness of the door straining her ears to listen..

"..How did this happen? "

" don't know, but they say he was given third degree and he died "

" boy! the boss would be so mad! His brother was his everything. "

" Mad is an understatement. They said he killed the men who brought the news. Slit their throats.. they bled for an hour before they finally died while he watched wrecking the room..." both stopped for a moment.

" Kamal did warned him that the man had connections... what has boss planned with these two? "

" don't know. He's acting weird. Said they should be well fed and not troubled even said he want them fine. Why do you think I gave those medicines and stuff. It was on order"

" good. For a moment I thought you got all softy for the two."

" like hell!. I had few other things planned for the boy. He was so entertaining last time " Naina's jaw clenched and she so badly wanted to claw his face off. How dare he even think of inflicting any pain on her son! " but they won't be here long " her ears shot up " boss called today to shift them to other base as soon as they get bit better. I think he has some of his own ideas to put them to a better use... probably he's just fattening the goat before.." and they laughed. Naina's heart sank hearing it. They won't be here that meant probably someone did manage to find their whereabouts but how will they know where they are taking them. She was just wondering when her eyes fell on something that lay in semidarkness.. a corner gleamed in the little light that fell over it.. her heart stopped beating for a moment, she rubbed her eyes squinting them to focus on the object. Hope flooded through her heart, sudden energy erupted through her body. Armaan watched his mother curiously as she crouched on the floor peeping urgently through the opening at the bottom of the door he was just wondering when she whispered him to come to her quickly and forgetting all the pain in an instant he was there by her side.

" Armaan " she said in a hushed voice " I want you to keep an eye on the corner, and just give me a quick signal when you think they might come or peep or even move. Just be careful okay " he nodded, she kissed his forehead and waited till he gave her a go signal. Armaan looked through the window where he could see the shoulders of two men. One was standing with his back towards the wall leaning on it with a folded leg another was standing before him, they were still talking but he could only see them partially as they were about fifty feet away and in order to look at the corner one had to stick the face to the bars of the window looking to the left. It felt like trying to look ahead at the train engine through the window of a compartment. He shuddered remembering what the little passage led to, the same large room with stairs... another wave of pain shot through him but he didn't get much time to ponder over it as his mother's whisper broke his chain of thoughts.

" be careful.." she whispered as she strained herself to reach to that object. The door creaked a little bolt straining against the lock and pressure. The man leaning on the wall stood up straight. Armaan turned quickly signalling Naina to stop, she quickly pulled her hand back.. both held their breaths waiting.. eyes wide with anticipation. Neither of the two men came back but now there were more voices, they were talking urgently again this time they heard them clearly. The second in command, the man who spread all those needles on the stairs was commanding others to clean up the place of any evidence that they were here. Naina was right. They were shifting them and the reason they bothered to clear up after them was.. must be, only because they were found. She heard him shouting that they would move tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow morning. They had just tonight. They must make a run for it. Her only fear was if they decided to come there then. Thankfully neither decided that. She waited till Armaan again signalled her to continue ,there was no one in sight now. Naina pushed herself as far as she could fingers stretched wide to grab the corner.. and then she touched the key to their freedom. And it was the key. Key to their room, which probably fell while man pushed food trays through the opening . Anyway she didn't cared how and why all she knew was that it was their only chance and she had to take it, for her son's sake.

Holding him tight in his embrace she whispered what she wanted to do but before they executed the plan they must make sure that the goons know that they are in the room and till they drowned themselves in alcohol which seemed to be their daily ritual, they'd heard their snores daily since the arrival and going by the sound there was only one man on the watch every night out of four. Where others went, she had no idea but once they get out of here they would find out. And avoid that place.

They waited, the small superman watch on Armaan's wrist kept them updated of every second that passed. It struck 11.. the men gathered in the room 12... their daily ritual continued 1.. the energy started to die out... 2.. they heard one of the man cursing the fellow in crude language for passing out the second in command ordered the other to take him away to the other room calling it a day himself. There was only one man left now. It was time for them to get ready. All senses were at high alert, this could be their only chance to escape otherwise sure death. They crept back into the corner hearing the man stumbling back. He was coming to check on them. A bright torchlight hit them on the face, it was gone as quickly as it came. The man satisfied to see the animals in cage stumbled back with a grunt, seconds later they heard rattling of bottles followed by loud creek of the old couch and then, it went all quiet..

Their heart drummed out if their chests. They waited for another half an hour just to make sure that they were all deep in slumber. It was now 3 AM. In the dead silence of the night Naina clutching Armaan's hand tiptoed to the door..

Putting her hand out through the window she stealthily unlocked the lock. The window was quiet near to the door and luckily the lock wasn't far below. The rusted bolt creaked.. in the dead silence of the night it felt like firing of the cannonball.. slowly and steadily Naina opened the door Armaan clung close.. one hand clutched tightly by Naina other held his Sherkhan. Moving alongside the wall their backs sticking to it they walked to the end of the corridor. Armaan grabbed her hand even tighter as the hall came into sight, it glowed in the bright light of tube lights ,the wide iron staircase by the wall led to the tiny room upstairs which was locked. She quickly scanned the room nothing moved no one was in sight.. except, a filthy man lying on the couch with empty beer bottles strewn all around where he slept.. he wasn't snoring but this wasn't time to back out, looking down at Armaan she placed a finger before her lips signalling hm to keep quiet. The other door was on the left corner of the room and though the distance wasn't that much yet it felt like miles to cross. Taking every step with utmost care they stepped ahead.. they passed through the table, the chairs.. the boxes.. Armaan shuddered seeing them and his shoe hit one of the bottles lying around. Both of them froze. The man stirred with the sound scrunching his eyebrows his eyes still close. Their hearts stopped beating and Naina barely controlled her loud gasp covering her mouth just in time...

The man fell quiet second later and this time he snored. Naina patted Armaan's hand reassuring him pointing at the flashlight and then at the door, he nodded mentally making a note to be more even more careful from now on. She stealthily grabbed the flashlight lying on the floor by the snoring man tiptoeing back. She turned the knob, this time the door didn't creek. Grabbing his hand she walked by the passage quickly. They must get out of this place and quick.

But it didn't seem so easy. The place was a freaking maze! One door then the other..full of corridors, they didn't even came by any window! it seemed it was all underground and they were going further underground rather than coming out. But they were definitely making progress.. she came to a corridor that had some broken faded name plate kind of thing. Naina picked up one and in the yellow light of the torch read what it said- No Smoking. under that in small print it said Pioneer Coal Mines. So they were in an abandoned coal mine. No wonder it felt underground but that also meant they could be miles away from any help.

Naina took in a deep breath bracing herself, she checked the time.. it had been little more than an hour since they left that room and have hit quiet many dead ends she must find the way out soon, before they get to know that they were missing. Giving a quick kiss on Armaan's head she gave a reassuring smile and both headed to yet another door she'd marked most of the place with a piece of coal lying around and now could avoid moving in circles, her only worry was those other three men whose whereabouts were still unknown. But their perseverance paid off she saw some vents in the rooms they passed by and through one she saw moon. It was the most beautiful thing she'd seen in days, infused with hope she trotted to the large door but to her horror two men stared back from about 100 ft. She froze but before she could hide herself they saw them.

Shutting the door as quickly as she could she grabbed Armaan's hand and both ran back in that tunnel type corridor. The men were not far behind, soon she heard the door roughly pushed open and quick footsteps running towards them. She hid herself behind the half open door of a small empty room with Armaan behind her. They didn't had enough time to hide themselves anywhere else, she knew soon the men would realize that they did not go in that direction and would come back looking for them but the good thing was that she'd already figured the way out and now all they required was to hurry. As soon as the men were out of earshot she held Armaan's hand and both got out of their hiding place running in the same direction they intended to earlier. Armaan glanced at his mother, terror was clearly visible on her face but then there was also determination, how those men came to know they had escaped he didn't know but he knew this for clear that if they get caught now it might be their last day on earth. A picture of his mother withering in pain on the floor soaked in blood flashed in his mind.. he shuddered strengthening himself to do his best to take her out of this mess.

But it wasn't going to be easy, it never was.. the men as she'd feared figured out that they were tricked and were majorly pissed.. but their head start gave Naina and Armaan enough time to run bit ahead... they crossed the tunnel running as fast as their legs could carry them.. but they were not fast enough their injured tired bodies could not compete with that of their tormentors. No sooner she'd turned she heard footsteps getting louder behind her. They were catching up the shadows on the opposite wall confirmed her fears, holding Armaan she quickly ducked behind a dark corner. " look for them. They wouldn't have gone far! " he recognized that voice, it was the same second in command man. " sunder you come with me. Ismail, Hari both of you go that way and check if they'd taken the other route " the men split themselves and soon were out of earshot.

" Mom, I'm scared.." he shivered, more than cold it was fear.

Naina hugged him kissing his forehead forcing a smile " hey, don't be scared beta... see I'm here with you, Sherkhan is here.. and you are my superman isn't it.." he nodded, she caressed his face trying to assure him of something which even she wasn't very hopeful of " we are here with you. Nothing bad is going to happen, we will be out of here soon.. away from these people. Just be brave like you have been.. like you are, okay " he nodded again, how can he be weak now. He must be brave just like his mother and she was right she was there and Sherkhan was there together they can take down these petty four guys. Naina peeked out to check if the coast was clear, the main large door with big exit mark was right before their eyes. Their door to freedom merely hundred meters away.

With no one in sight they made a run for the door. It opened almost effortlessly. For a second they could not make out where they were. It was a huge hall, kind of sheded factory area where heavy machinery is placed only this was full of old dusty rusting unused cars, like a car dump. But at least they were not in that catacomb any more, the early morning light filtered through the broken dusty side glasses high above. But their work wasn't done yet, hiding behind the cars they moved ahead inching towards the exit. Naina was just thinking of getting up on a car to look for the exit door when the door behind them almost blasted open and she knew the monsters were back. Holding Armaan's hand tightly they snaked through the cars. The goons by now knew that their prisoners were there, one of them jumped on the car and hopped from one to another. They all were calling out for them their fake silky tone urging them to show themselves.. they sounded even more scarier than before.

" Mom.." Armaan whimpered but Naina hushed him bringing him even closer " it's going to be okay.." she whispered, the door was now right before her eyes but there was a bigger problem. It was little away and all the dump acted as a backdrop for the exit. The day light seeped in from under the creek and if they have to get out of here they have to make a dash for it but they would be very visible to all as their was a clear patch between them and the door. Her mind throbbed as she thought of plan to reach to the door, now probably two of the goons were jumping on the cars looking for them in the crevasses. They creeped ahead a couple of cars crouching like a tiger ready to pound on its prey.. like a racer ready to shoot ahead with that signal. Armaan was now right beside her looking with all the concentration at the point his mother told was way to their freedom..

But his eyes widened when he heard someone jump on the car by whose side they were hiding, he'd barely turned his head when he saw the man smiling with the hungry evil look at them. He looked like the evil flesh eating dinosaur from Jurassic park looking down at his prey. " Armaaann runnn " his senses got numb for a second he couldn't decide whether to run or help his mother but he didn't get much time as she pushed him ahead to run out of that door while she got up picking up an old rod and with all her might landed it on the man's leg.

It gave the desired effect he yelped with pain and fell down even more painfully. Dropping the rod she grabbed Armaan's hand and dashed to the door. But then something unexpected happened, something hit Naina from behind and she fell down just meters away from the door. Armaan turned wide eyed and saw the other three were closing in and the nearest of the three,the worse of four had hit her with an iron rod that landed on her already injured back. Armaan rushed back dropping by her side urging madly to get up. Naina struggled but by then they were already there. The man Hari grabbed Armaan by one hand like a rag doll while he screamed and kicked wildly to let go of him, it hardly effected the man. The other three soon followed panting.

" Saalo ne kitna bhagaya aaj, bheje ki aisi taisi kar di! Kyun babbu bhai.." One of them, Ismail, complained.

" chup kar kutte! Aaj saale agar ye dono bhag jaate to saale hum saare kisi gatar main pade note aur koi shakal pehchanne ko bhi aata samjha! " Ismail quailed under that feirce tone. " and you.. my Jhansi ki Rani " he purred pulling back Naina's hair making her stand, Naina staggered on her feet.

" let go of my son. I swear if you as much as lay a finger on him.." she warned the man while Armaan still struggled in the other goon's hold. Naina's threat rather seemed to amuse Babbu. He laughed " that's some spirit I must say.. so now let's see what you can actually 'do' when I touch this pup here " he pushed Naina away the other goon Sunder held her immediately not happy at being hit by the rod. Babbu reached for the back pocket to both Naina and Armaan's horror pulled out a nasty looking knife, with its razor sharp pointed head and saw like blade on one end it was the most evil weapon in the hand of an equally evil man.

Naina's heart sank when she saw him walking towards Armaan with that knife in hand, she shrieked out.. heart seized with terror she begged to not to hurt her son.. to do whatever he wanted with her but let Armaan go. Babbu stopped halfway towards Armaan and picked up Sherkhan.. he turned back again to Naina standing inches away from her face " you yell too much Jhansi ki Rani. It annoys me " and taking the thick tail he stuffed it in her mouth while his cronie held it tight, it acted as a rope though she struggled against it but she was no match for their strength, tears steamed down her eyes fearing the worst.. her heart seemed to burst out but none present there would take pity on two helpless souls. The man walked back again while she was tied down by his cronies. Babbu bent down before Armaan to his eye level amazed to see that there were no tears in his eyes only anger.. fierce anger.

" if you hit my mother again I will kill you! " the smile for a second faded, he wasn't expecting it from a ten year old, especially the one who could lose his life to his blade any moment. Babbu grimanced, the order from his chief had tied his hands but then he hadn't said anything about punishment for trying to escape. Has he. The thought brought back his evil smirk.

" really! You are going to kill me!? Ooh I'm so scared " he shuddered dramatically his cronies joined his mirthful laugh and then without warning pushed the sharp point of his knife in Armaan's upper arm. Shrieks of pain filled the air. " you were going to kill me if I touched your mom pup now you bear what she had to instead.. so how does it feel like huh " he dug the knife deeper blood gushed out and Armaan felt like he'd pass out any second, the pain was unbearable. Babbu pulled out the knife panting a little he seemed intoxicated with the sight like he was high on a drug " oh I soo love it! " he turned to glance at Naina who was struggling badly against the ties " oh don't worry sweetheart, your turn will come too. For now I'll deal with this daredevil pup of yours here " he was about to struck Armaan with another blow when his cell phone buzzed out. Only one man knew this number. He picked it up immediately " yes.. yeah it's me.. everything's under control " he threw a glance at Naina " yeah we are moving.. it's around three four hour drive.. yeah we're leaving " he disconnected the call " you both are in luck, we have to leave now.." he then laughed suddenly " rather you would've been lucky if I had killed you.. I don't play that long you see.. but boss, he's a different story " Naina wasn't interested in his stupid talk but she knew if they aren't saved soon they would surely die.. and what awaited them at the end of that drive was just lot worse than death. " but before we leave.." he stepped towards Naina and slapped her tightly " this is for trying to be smart with me " the sheer force of the hit send her back on the floor, Armaan's yells just added spice to his sadistic pleasure.

The weather too felt like foretelling the gloom that awaited them, the day was foggy and chill ran in the air. They were thrown in the van, it was the same that brought them here. Naina's hands were bound while Armaan was thrown by her side like a rag doll Naina tried to hold him close to her but was helpless. Ismail and Hari sat with them, this time prepared to stop any plan of escape Hari whom Naina managed to give a nice blow gave her killing glares and menacing smirk Babbu sat in front with Sunder who was also driving. She had no idea where they were taking them but prayed hard for any help.. she couldn't see her son in any more pain. Armaan rested his head in her lap shivering it was no less than a wonder that he was still alive, but every passing moment brought him close to death, Naina kept crying calling out Armaan begging those goons to open her ties but they didn't bothered only took out their lethal evil looking knives threatening her with death if she as much as whimper. Helpless and miserable she didn't knew what to do to comfort her son, her child lay almost lifeless in her lap soaked in blood and she couldn't even hold him...

But God had different plans. Hardly an hour would have passed when something hit the van from behind, hitting would be an understated word, the collision was so strong that it threw the van flying few meters in the air before it landed hard back on the road and that wasn't it, the vehicle rolled thrice and fell into a small valley or more like a huge pit by the road side. It all happened so suddenly that no one could get a second to understand what had happened.They kept tumbing down, Armaan held Naina tightly as they rolled in the van before they were thrown out of the vehicle whose back door got off its hinges.. they rolled few more times before they came to stop.

A few seconds or minutes later they were rattled again with the sound of a deafening blast.. a wave passed through them making their hair stand on their end. Shocked badly injured and utterly shaken Armaan stirred where he lay on the ground. He tried to focus his eyes to the nearby surroundings.. he could see a small opening in between the trees.. the blue sky had dark smoky colour mixed with blue and some grey.. soon the pungent smell of something burning, like rubber, hit his nostrils hard he felt the ground underneath.. it was hard cold and rocky.. there were patches of grass here and there but he couldn't see far as the mist hid the rest. And then the thought struck him... almost jerking him out of lurking unconsciousness. He was out, not in the van any more!.. the goons were nowhere around, they could run away from them. Hope crashed like huge waves in his heart bringing another realisation- where was his mother?

It took humongous efforts on his part to move his limbs but the fear of losing his mother infused unknown strength in his fragile body. Staggering on his feet his called out for his mother as loud as he could through his parched throat.. with every call that went unanswered his heart sanked a little.. forgetting his own pain he frantically started to look out for her, cursing himself that he let her go in the van he should've held on to her more tightly.. few feet away he saw the first sign of hope - Sherkhan. The tiger lay there in the rocky ground covered with dirt and rusty coloured with all the blood he'd soaked as he was held by Armaan. Armaan rushed grabbing it instantly and looked around helplessly with no idea where to look for his mother but soon he got the help.. a cold gush of wind cleared the mist and he saw what he was looking for.

But the hope on finding her didn't last for long.. she lay there withering on one side her hands still tied behind her back with those ropes. Limping he rushed by her side crying out seeing her condition.. brain numbed by the pain his hands worked automatically, it took some efforts but he freed her of those ropes but there was another shock waiting for him.. no sooner he turned her to face him he found her reaching for her neck.. blood froze when he saw what she was trying to do.. a piece of glass lay half hidden in her neck, peircing through her neck it was causing her deep agony. Naina was lucky that it somehow missed life threatening spot that would've killed her immediately but she could not let it be that way, showing extraordinary bravery she held the glass and bracing herself, focussing on the only thing that gave her reason to bear all the pain - her son- she pulled out the glass.

A blood curdling scream filled the cold air , gasping for air eyes shut tightly she clutched the neck trying to stop the blood flow. Armaan watched his mother twist with agonising pain he'd been through some of the painful stuff himself but the way she whithered made his suffering look insignificant. He shed tears of helplessness unable to think of anything that could bring her relief.. it took Naina some moments before she could even focus on things and people around her.

" A.. b..bring..Sh..her.." she couldn't complete her sentence but he understood what she wanted. Grabbing the toy he rushed back to her she somehow managed to rest herself on the elbow holding her neck with the other, blood still seeped out through that cut which she tried to stop. Armaan knew without a word what she wanted to do, he placed the lion on her neck pressing it to stop the flow. She winced and weak as she already felt slipped a little to the ground again. Her eyes began to close, she had no strength left in her to keep them open any more. A petrified Armaan sat by her side calling her out consoling her caressing her face. His voice sounded so distant to her, It seemed this was where she would bid the world goodbye. Leaving her son behind at the mercy of those Inhumans.. as soon as the thought struck her a wave surged through her body almost jolting back to present. But her nightmare seemed to come to pass.

Armaan's eyes widened with horror as he saw Babbu staggering towards them, that deadly knife clutched tightly in his hand.. he too was bleeding profusely Armaan couldn't make out where he was hurt his clothes were half burned half torn and smoke emitted from them. He looked like any child's worst nightmare. His hand holding the knife was raised ready to strike the killer blow while the left hung like dead weight. Naina too lay frozen, she didn't had any strength left to fight run or for that matter even warn Armaan to run away from there. But Armaan wasn't ready to leave his mother this time, no matter what. Both waited with bated breaths for the death to arrive.

" So.. you thought.. you bit.." he couldn't complete his sentence and tripped himself on the half buried rock. Lying on his back he let out a loud painful groan, he was panting clutching his side which seemed too bloody. His knife fell off from his hand but it didn't look like he cared, he was twisting with pain but as soon as his eyes fell on Armaan and Naina he stopped withering and gave them his evil twisted grin. " you're g..going to die.. both are going to die "

He let out a laugh. An evil maniac laugh. Anger surged through every pore of Armaan's body. He forgot everything, his ears filled with a buzz.. nothing penetrated them except that laugh. He hated.. absolutely loathed that laugh. Keeping Naina's head carefully on the piece of broken brick, he got up staggeringly on his feet. He couldn't hear his mother's weak attempts to stop him, he couldn't hear the crackling of burning branches not very far from them he couldn't hear the regularly increasing noise of honking cars on the road who stopped to see what went wrong.. the mist inside and out hid everything.. slowly he walked past the man who was still laughing like a possessed maniac.. he stopped before a heavy looking rock lying there with many others alike. He stopped for a moment glancing back to his mother and the man who lay little away from her now looking curiously at him he seemed unable to move with his left hand lying lifeless by his side.

Collecting all his willpower and strength Armaan picked up the heaviest rock he could manage. Babbu's eyes now followed every step of the child who was once his prey.. with every step Armaan took Babbu's eyes got wider with fear dancing in them for the first time and his evil laugh was completely wiped off his face. Standing right above his head with that heavy rock in his shaky hands Armaan looked down at the man who now was paralyzed with the understanding of what we going to happen.

" I told you.. I'll kill you if you try to hurt my mom again "

" you bl.." Babbu couldn't finish his sentence when the rock dropped down with a sickening thud. Armaan stood there panting, shaking from head to toe. He didn't know much about killing but this is probably what was called justice. And it felt right. He stagerred back to stunned Naina, he could not explain what they called the look she had in her eyes but it wasn't repriminding. Neither of them said a word as he felt down by her side once again resting her head in his lap pressing the bleeding cut of her neck with his small hands.. " it's okay mumma.. I won't let anyone hurt you now.. I promise " Naina closed her eyes hearing the words. She knew this promise was worth the world.

Soon other sounds peirced through the dead silence.. Armaan didn't knew if he was awake or sleeping for he saw his father and uncle and some other men. They were trying to take away Sherkhan.." no. I need him. Mom is bleeding.." but it seemed they could not hear him shout, how much louder should he shout?! But slowly everything started floating and darkness engulfed him.. peaceful darkness.

Muskaan let out a muffled sob, tears never stopped streaming down Ridhhima's eyes and the three men could hardly hold theirs. ".. all this while.. those memories haunted him.. he didn't wanted to keep Naina mom away papa.. it's the fear.. sadness of seeing her go through all that suffering then actually witnessing her dying before his very eyes that he wanted to keep away.. I don't think anyone could have done what he did then..."

"..And I'm proud of my son. I really am." Virendra gazed at the now grown man, his son, sleeping.. and he could see that small ten year old who suffered fought and was exceptionally brave at the time when toughtest break. And like he said.. he was proud of his son.

Edited by mansibharti - 08 January 2012 at 1:44am

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Suvarna.... Goldie

Joined: 23 October 2008
Posts: 2148

Posted: 13 January 2012 at 11:09am | IP Logged
Hi Mansi,
First of all 'Wish you and your loved ones a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2012'.
Now coming to the updates. I was thoroughly touched by the update. The way Armaan and Naina have fought for their lives and especially the way Armaan has fought to keep his mother alive.
Loved the emotions you have written in the experiences, Armaan and Naina have gone through. No wonder Armaan is so deeply affected. I just hope now he thrashes the real culprits and shows them their place.
I just hope Riddhima's love and support will make him get over the experience.
Yeh dil maange more :)

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sweetanu2314 Goldie

Joined: 23 July 2009
Posts: 1138

Posted: 14 January 2012 at 12:38am | IP Logged
omg...i was literally crying by the end of this update...

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Monstuholic4evr IF-Sizzlerz

Joined: 26 January 2011
Posts: 19082

Posted: 27 January 2012 at 7:33am | IP Logged
this makes things...easiest...when I think of going through the ff again and again Tongue

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mansibharti 1263 118553 08 September 2011 at 6:04pm by Arrogant-Pooja
Taming the Wild 5 part-60 pg-93 05/08/10

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Author: mansibharti   Replies: 1219   Views: 112274

mansibharti 1219 112274 30 June 2011 at 4:57pm by SuhanaSafar
Taming The Wild 3-AR story new thread link pg 157

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Author: mansibharti   Replies: 1249   Views: 119687

mansibharti 1249 119687 30 June 2011 at 4:55pm by SuhanaSafar

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