5: The Art of Telling the Truth with Lies
these unfortunate set of events, things refused to take a turn for the better
despite Riddhima's wishful thinking. Riddhima's bathroom was stocked with
pregnancy tests which she employed each day to make sure that she stayed
pregnant. When Nikki, her best friend, had found out about what happened, she
had labeled her mental and Riddhima had a hard time presenting a case to refute
it. Though Nikki knew about her craze for motherhood, she never imagined it to
be serious. She thought it was more like a fantasy---like her fantasy of
convincing her hubby to pay for the next round of shopping spree, or like her
fantasy of making out in a hot air balloon with Jack Sparrow…oh yes, now that's
a fantasy but what Riddhima had, she realized, was an obsession…and obsession
tittering on the edge of desperation to be fulfilled.
she had left his house, more or less a mansion instead, that morning, Riddhima
believed she would never see him again and hoped for that despite what her body
was screaming. She had reduced herself to his wh**e and that was all she meant.
However, her baby was going to be worth all the trouble. The following week,
Riddhima missed her period. The week after that she began gathering information
on being the most perfect mom ever. Two days later she went out to Kohl's and
bought new bras. The following week spurred what is named the nesting instinct
during which you feel a powerful urge to prepare your house and life for a
baby. Riddhima dusted, unclogged, unwebbed, and scrubbed every inch of her
house and hired an architect to design the baby's room. There was a glow to Riddhima
which had been diminished her whole life and, all in all, she was having the
time of her life. Nikki and Olivia were the only people who knew about her
pregnancy. Nikki because Riddhima had voluntarily offered that information
because it was becoming difficult to contain the happiness inside her when all
she wanted to do was let the whole world know. Olivia being a nurse herself had
recognized the signs instantly and questioned Riddhima about it. Olivia and
Riddhima had become great friends so Riddhima didn't have a problem telling her
but what she didn't count on was the reaction of Olivia when she told her that
it was Armaan's baby.
Her eyes wide and mouth wide open. "Armaan as in the quarterback of the
Giants…as in the Armaan of every girl's dream…as in the Armaan of my dreams?"
Riddhima nodded silently and clamped her hands over her ears as Olivia
shrieked. She was jumping in front of her shouting, "Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh
my God! Wait, How? When? Where? How?" Riddhima explained what had happened as
smoothly as she could.
are you gonna tell him?" Riddhima averted her gaze and replied softly.
it doesn't concern him. And he's a superstar, rich, and all awesome, what do
you think people will say? That I'm a gold digger or something worse. Plus, I
want this baby for myself, all mine and no one else's." Riddhima wrapped her
arms around her stomach protectively. Olivia remained silent.
however, had not counted on the fact that somehow this information might reach
him. After that incident in the library and supermarket, which definitely came
as a shock to her, she had called up Nikki and Olivia both. Nikki had arrived
first at Miss Berry's house where Riddhima realized that the situation had
totally blown out of scale. The first thought that came to her was that he had
told the press to get back at her by humiliating her and forcing an abortion.
But after her conversation with Nikki and Olivia, she realized that wasn't the
case at all.
told her that during one of her conversation with Riddhima over the phone,
Ashlee had overhead them. She had put two and two together and got the idea of
the situation which also explained Riddhima's absence from hospital. Ashlee had
met a couple guys at the club that day and often went there. That was also a
common spot for many of Armaan's buddies and occasionally, Armaan himself.
Hoping to get an elevated stature in society and an opportunity to meet Armaan,
she had whispered the news to a few and it had spread like wildfire. Eventually,
it had reached the ears of the man himself who was pissed to say the least. It
wasn't hard for him to track her down. He got a hold of Ashlee who was more
than willing to offer the information for a few seconds with him.
had received a hard slap of reality when Armaan had showed up at her doorsteps.
All she wanted was few minutes to think the situation over and offer the best
explanation possible. For that she needed time which wouldn't be permitted with
him breathing down her neck. Hitting him over the head and leaving him out to
bake in the sun wasn't part of plan but she had to improvise and that was best
that she could come up with.
sitting on the sofa with her nails between her teeth, Riddhima prayed and
prayed and prayed. Her head snapped up and her eyes flew open as she heard the
rasping of the screen door opening. And out came, well rather in came, a
figure. The unbuttoned shirt exposed an all too familiar chest followed by low
riding jeans. Riddhima gulped. Half of his chest was smooth and chiseled while
the other half was a dull shade of red with few blisters here and there. His
face was not that bad except some of the skin on his nose was peeling and there
a pink tint to his skin. He was walking awkwardly too as if the slightest
movement caused his pain—which it probably did. When he looked at her, Riddhima
stood up straight and moved forward.
didn't get much closer to him before he had put his hand out. "Stop! Stop right
there. I swear to god, not even a single step closer. Just stay." Riddhima
paused and watched him take a detour around her as if she were the plague come
alive. He dropped down on the sofa with a groan. He lay there face down without
moving. Riddhima trotted closer hesitantly when he got up suddenly. Riddhima
reeled back and bumped into the wood table. She gasped as she felt the rigid
edge of the table scrape the skin from back of her ankle. However, she was able
to forget about that momentarily when Armaan began to take his shirt off. After
he did so, he buried his face into the sofa again with a groan. She saw that
his upper body wasn't exactly touching the sofa instead it hovered an inch
above. Of course, he has a sun burn, it would hurt.
hadn't had a sunburn since the age of seven or eight when he had learned that
sunscreen was his best friend. Every single fiber of his chest burned and
stung. Well, half of it since she had been gracious enough to leave the other
half in the shade. Why she would do something like that was beyond him?
Watching her face when he had come inside told him that she was scared. Why was
she scared? Armaan had begun to fear for his life when he was near her. She had
a tendency to turn out everything for the worst especially for him. Except…except
that time which had become one of the most memorable events of his life. He
hissed as nose brushed against the fabric which aggravated his skin further. He
broke off from his thoughts when something soft landed on his shoulder.
felt him stiffen when she touched his shoulder.
Armaan, can you turn around please?" When he made no move to comply, Riddhima
please, you have to do something before the burns get worse." He turned around
swiftly making Riddhima stumble back yet again. She hissed in pain as the table
scraped her torn skin yet again.
glared at her and spat out. "Why? Why do you care? I'm in pain because you
wanted it. Shouldn't you be happy?"
shook her head. "No, no I didn't mean for this to happen."
so you just left me out there in the sun to see if I could pop like corn too
huh?"His sarcastic tone was making Riddhima angry but she answered softly.
I'm sorry. I really am but I can't argue with you right now because if you
don't do something the burns will get worse. Come on, please." Armaan looked
into her eyes and saw genuine concern surprisingly.
get me some salve for this." Riddhima patted herself mentally.
but first take this ibuprofen to relieve the pain a little." She handed the
pills over with a glass of water which he took without gratitude. "And now we
have to cool you down because you must be burning, right?"
Riddhima looked up him, he was smiling. "Yeah, cuz I'm hot."
rolled her eyes but smiled nonetheless. "Yeah whatever—" But he cut her off
before she could explain the next step.
think I'm hot right?" There it was again. His eyes had turned that Caribbean
blue again and Riddhima was having difficulty breathing with his intense gaze.
She averted her gaze and moved towards out of the living room quietly without
answering. Armaan grinned and followed after her, slowly and painfully. Each
step sent a fresh bout of pain through his body. Finally he reached the room
but there was no Riddhima there.
where'd you go? Hello!" Armaan called out and looking here and there.
saw her standing by another door inside the room which he realized was the
my name is Riddhima." He nodded silently.
he made his way to the bathroom, she explained. "I've filled the bathtub with
cold water which should help with the burns and lessen the agitation. Just sit
in there and relax until you want to get out. Alright?" Armaan assessed the
bathroom and saw the tub filled with water.
um could you get me some food?" Riddhima's brow shot up. "Well, I haven't eaten
anything since breakfast and I'm starving."
nodded and moved out of the bathroom closing the door behind her. Before
Armaan's arrival she had started on her dinner and thought to take a shower. So
now, she just added more to make up for additional member. She filled a glass
with red wine and gathered up the dinner to the guest room. She laid out the
food on the table and moved towards the bathroom door. She paused before it and
called out, "Armaan, I have dinner."
it inside." Riddhima mulled over that answer and thought she must have heard
answer came a level louder, "I said bring the food inside." Armaan grinned. He
knew she had heard him the first time.
door creaked open and he glimpsed a silver tray topped with food. His stomach
growled and his mouth watered at the sight of Indian food. His attention was
diverted from the food when he saw Riddhima take hesitant steps inside the
face was turned away from him when she said, "Um, I had already started on
dinner and I made Indian. I hope you don't mind."
is fun, let's make it more to my taste, Armaan thought to himself. He said
aloud, "Yeah, that's perfect. I love Indian." She set the food on the counter
and began to move out.
woah, where you going?" Riddhima turned around surprised at his words. She had
tried to keep her eyes off him. When she had come inside, she had glimpsed his
jeans on the floor. Riddhima groaned mentally. Why did he take his jeans off?
Now, she saw him sitting luxuriously with his arms spread on the tub. She was
so glad for the height of the tub which blocked almost everything unless you
do you mean? I'm going outside."
know that but how can you just leave?" Armaan continued, ignoring her narrowed
eyes, "How am I supposed to eat when the food is alll the way oveeer
looked at him dumbly, "You want to eat in the tub?"
answered with sarcasm dripping from his tone, "Uh, no. I asked you to bring
food so I could stare at it from two feet away while rats scurried wildly in my
stomach. Of course, I want to eat here."
rolled her eyes at his sarcasm and put forth another objection that backfired,
"But the food's gonna get wet if you eat in the tub. Then you'll be eating your
pretended to ponder on that for a while and then answered with a cheerful tone,
"You've got a point. So smart, you're just so smart. That's why I have an idea.
Why don't you feed me?"
Feed him, come closer to him, see him naked—not her cup of tea at the moment
despite how much she wanted to. "No, Armaan, you can bathe first and then eat."
was an edge to his voice when he answered, "No, and as far as I remember we
have some things to talk about." His eyes bore into hers. She gulped
understanding the "things" he wanted to talk about.
made one last feeble attempt. "Well, we could—"
His voice came as the crack of a whip.
her hair behind her ear, she took the tray of food. She sat atop the toilet seat (closed guys)
with the tray on her lap. His skin was still pink but he seemed relaxed while
Riddhima's nerves were buzzing. Despite the burns, he looked every part of the risqu
image conjured up by the media. Riddhima sighed clumsily and fixed her…robe??
Riddhima cursed under her breath. In all the panic, she had forgotten to
change. "Uh, actually, I'll be right back." Getting up, she put the tray down
on the counter and moved towards the door.
She could hear the soft swishing of the water behind her.
I think the phone's ringing. I'll be right back." She slipped out before he
could object. He watched her rush out and grinned. She was an open book despite
how hard she worked on keeping the binding closed. He had seen the different
emotions flicker across her face like a motion picture. Closing his eyes, he
rested his head back with a smile lingering on his lips.
opened the bathroom door hesitantly and peered inside. Immediately, she yelped
and covered her eyes with her hands.
tucked the towel at his waist and turned towards the noise. He saw Riddhima
standing at the door with her back facing him. Her hands covered her eyes while
her lips were pressed together. Armaan padded close to her until he was
standing right behind her.
wet her lips and called out nervously, "Armaan are you…uh…done?"
His answer came from close behind. So close that she could feel his hot breath
caress her neck. So close that she could feel the heat coming off his body. So
close that if she turned around…. Riddhima felt her heart skid to a stop and
start up faster than a race horse.
happened, Riddhima?" Was whispering in her ear necessary?
presence surrounded her and clogged her brain. Riddhima forced her brain to
form a coherent sentence. "Nothing, just meditating."
huh." Riddhima understood the underlying meaning in his "uh huh". Really,
Riddhima, really that's the best you can do? Meditating? Where did that come
from? He's probably thinking you're a tool.
the brightest crayon in the pack, are we Riddhima?"
turned around abruptly and came face to…chest. She stumbled back but his hand
curved around her waist before she could fall. Instinctively, Riddhima wrapped
her arms around his neck. She relaxed in his hold and looked up at him. His
eyes, a mere two inches away, were already on her. She gasped as his hold
tightened around her waist.
let go." Her hands moved from his neck to his chest. She tried to push him away
but he only pressed closer. Riddhima was very well aware of his fingers slowly
crawling under the fabric of her flimsy shirt.
you change? I liked the other outfit better." Riddhima pried at his fingers on
the waistband of her shorts.
answered through her teeth, "That wasn't an outfit. It was a robe!"
It had…how do you say it?...more potential." He moved her hair to one side and
burrowed his face in her neck. Riddhima was using elbows now but he wasn't even
bothered while she was huffing. Should've taken tae-kwon-do instead of microbiology…kuch
kaam to aata.
the obvious implication Riddhima asked anyways, "How so?"
was nibbling now and Riddhima was counting backwards, "Well, it had more
openings…if you catch my meaning and an amazing view especially when you bent
down. It also required less work…I mean, it's a knot…" With each word,
Riddhima's eyes widened and her mouth hung open. "It's a real turn-on seeing a
girl walking around in a robe and her not even knowing she's in a robe. So, she
forgets to take those certain precautions…"
had to stop this before it went any further, "Armaan, look I'm warning you, let
go of me."
that a threat?" Armaan placed feathery kisses along her jaw line drawing closer
to the targeted area.
yes it is. You stop that right now!!" Armaan grinned. He kissed her again on
the corner of her mouth.
suddenly and surprisingly, he let go of her and stepped back. Riddhima raised
her brows at him and he shrugged in response. Exasperated, Riddhima smoothed a hand
over her white cotton skirt and pointed out the dinner to him.
eat and leave," Riddhima said with strain.
grabbed the tray of food and began eating. "I'm not going anywhere."
eyes widened, "What? Why not?"
said simply. "We have to talk." Then he added, "Can I get some clothes please?"
could feel her head throbbing and just wanted to sleep. "What? Yes, yes of
course. Let me, uh, let me go check." She shut the door and sighed. He was
setting her nerves on edge and she hated it. She knew exactly what he was going
to talk about and Riddhima had hoped to avoid it for a bit longer. Brushing her
hair back, she walked into her bedroom and opened the closet. She browsed
around for a bit until she found what she was looking for. Quietly, she walked
back to the room.
saw her walk inside with that same hesitance but there was something new. Her
face looked withdrawn and slightly pale with dark circles under her eyes. She
looked tired and sick. Irritated at the surprising surge of concern for her, he
focused on what she held in her hands.
She handed him a pair of track pants and his yellow shirt. Armaan raised his
brows at her since the track pants were men's and almost his size.
relationship." Riddhima answered his unasked question and Amraan's confusion
cleared. A naughty smile spread on his lips.
so busy nights, huh?" Riddhima's face turned down in disgust at his comment.
keep your dirty mind to yourself." He grinned. Taking the pants, he moved
towards the bathroom but stopped midway.
Riddhima." Riddhima had been making the bed because by that point she realized
that he would probably stay over. She looked over when he called out his name.
He was standing there with a hand on his towel.
2, 1!" Riddhima had turned just as she heard the swish of the towel
snapped, "God! What is your problem?" Riddhima heard his husky laugh and rushed
out of the room while keeping a hand over her eyes.
showering and dressing, Armaan walked into the living room. He stood frozen for
a minute as he took in his surroundings but recovered quick enough. Riddhima
was sitting on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate in her hand. Seeing him
walk towards her, Riddhima felt her heart skitter as usual. But she sat up when
she saw the set lines of his face and she acknowledged that now was the time.
he settled on the couch across from her, fixing her under his glare, Riddhima
fidgeted nervously. She decided she liked him better in his previous mood even
if it was obnoxious.
do you want something to eat…drink?" He responded with silence. It was quiet
nerve wrecking yet Riddhima tried to keep her composure under his hard stare.
leaned forward resting his elbows on his knees. His tattoos were indiscernible
yet the form and color were quite captivating. "I saw the news yesterday." Gone was the
dimply smile and Caribbean eyes; instead, his eyes were narrowed with unmasked
disgust and hatred. What made him change so quickly, Riddhima didn't dare ask.
nodded silently staring deliberately into her cup.
me?" Riddhima looked up. His eyes bore into hers causing Riddhima to avert her
gaze. She set her cup down on the table to face whatever he was about to throw
in her face.
voice was now layered with steel, "You know exactly what I'm asking. You said
you don't want money. Then, why me? Why the most renowned quarterback? Why the
guy with billions of dollars? Why not a regular guy off the streets or heck
just go to a freaking sperm bank. You had so many choices then why me? Huh?
Then, you come along and say I have nothing to do with this. How the
hell do you even think that I would have nothing to do with my own kid? How the
f*** do you not realize that you have no right, no right whatsoever, to use my
body to get knocked up?"
Riddhima jumped up as his voice jumped up an
octave in each sentence. She realized that he was barely holding onto his
self-control. Slowly, she glided to the far end of the couch trying to put as
much space between them as she could. So she was surprised when he abruptly
rose from his seat and bent right over her causing Riddhima to be sandwiched
between the couch and him.
me dammit!" His voice bellowed in her ear and Riddhima gulped.
tumbled over her words, "Uh, sperm banks weren't an option for me." She
continued as she saw his jaw lock. "I'm not normal, uh, what I mean is that my
IQ is over 180." As if that explained everything.
kudos to you."
I mean is that I needed someone who was, um, hehe, a bit normal, you know, on
the other side of the spectrum." The expression that crossed Armaan's face as
that answer sunk in was one of such surprise that it actually took him a second
to realize that she believed him to be dumb.
grimaced as he held her upper arms in a tight grip. Speaking through his teeth,
"Of course, no better candidate than a goof making money by throwing a ball
back and forth right Miss. Yale summa cum laude." She cringed at the
venom in his voice and made a feeble attempt to defend herself.
didn't plan on you okay. It was all a mistake. Eli and Miles, they—"
you are right. It was all a "mistake". This whole f*****g charade is a f*****g
mistake and you should correct it, since it is your entire fault that my coach
has left me thirty career threatening voice mails. It is your fault that my
family refuses to listen to me and will probably disown me pretty soon. So, now
a dumb jock like myself would understand that logically it would make sense if
you were to correct this "mistake." Right?"
hands were now locked on her wrists with one of his legs hitched onto the couch
while the other held her in place as if she were in any position to go
anywhere. Riddhima tried to ignore his face which was two centimeters away but
she knew hanky-panky was the last thing on his mind right now. But it was
difficult to explain why it was the first thing on Riddhima's mind despite the
sting in her wrist due to his unbreakable hold.
no. I know what you mean by correcting the mistake but I can't, no, I won't do
that. I had told you that I won't tell anyone or demand anything from you but
it all blew out of proportion and I guess I didn't expect it would go that far.
I know I've made it really difficult for you and that's why I would've
preferred you never knew. But I can't do what you're asking me to. I won't give
up this baby for anything in the world. You can tell the media anything—makeup
any excuses, call me names, or insult me—I swear I won't say anything but just don't
ask me to get an abortion." Riddhima expected him to retort back with a
definite no. So she was surprised when he replied otherwise.
to me and listen to me very carefully. Despite what you may have heard about me
or what you think of me, I have morals and values. I am not going to let a kid
of mine go stray or be labeled a bas***d—no shut up, not a word—and I don't want
any taint on my family's reputation. We are going to get married this week—a simple
court marriage. You will meet my family and we will be the perfect family—for them.
Here's the media story—I met you last year at a social party and we hit it off
from there but kept the relationship under cover. This little show at the
library was just a tiff and we were going to come clear after the wedding. After
the baby is born, we divorce and until then you live your nerdy life and don't interfere
in mine. After the divorce, I get to see the kid when I want and if I want.
There will be no nagging, no pestering, and no clinging of any kind whatsoever.
Most important of all, this "mistake" and this aftermath of that "mistake"
should stay between us. You have until tomorrow morning to decide. I'm sure it'll
be quite easy since there is only one choice available." Getting up, he walked
out before Riddhima had time to digest his words.