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For a few minutes, Arnav stood back and observed her laughing face. Who wouldn't fall in love with that beautiful smile in an equally beautiful face? Who wouldn't fall in love with the innocence that just shone out of her? Who wouldn't be dazzled by the warmth that shone out of her? He could see Dhruv was just as charmed by her as any other man. Another man who could not resist that charm, Arnav thought bitterly, just like he had not been able to just like Shyam had not been able to. And because of her charm, his Di's life was nearly ruined. Does not having the same charm make his Di any less lovable? Does not having the same kind of attractiveness make his Di any less attractive? Shyam could betray his sister by falling for Khushi. But he would make sure that he never gave in to it and betrayed his loyalty to his sister.
Shaking out of his thoughts and his temporary trance, Arnav stepped into the full view of the two people in the drawing room. Immediately he saw the smile vanish from Khushi's face, a fact that stabbed his heart. But he did not want it any other way did he? He wondered. "Hi Dhruv. Kya Bhai, all of a sudden a trip to Dlehi. What's up?' he asked Dhruv, while taking a seat next to him.
"I have tons of work to do in Delhi bhai. But one more reason is that I wanted to meet the most beautiful woman in Lucknow. Khushi , Lucknow is not the same without you. You left a million broken hearted guys behind when you married Arnav," he winked at Khushi.
Khushi blushed and said, "What nonsense. You are just the same. The world's most incorrigible flirt," she said affectionately.
"I am serious bhai. Khushi Kumari Gupta, would have been swept off her feet by a Lucknow guy by the time she was 18, had she not been such a hard chase. She just warded off guys and then she fell for you! I will have to ask you one day what you did. Even I had tried bhai" he winked again, but this time at Arnav.
Both Arnav and Khushi looked at each other and then looked away. Khushi simply said, "The heart knows when it is the right guy" and then she quickly changed the topic saying, "I will fix dinner Dhruv. Please stay". Arnav looked at her face to see what she meant with the first statement. But her face was averted.
"Of course Jalebi bai. Can't miss the food you cook," Dhruv said. He remembered all the times he had spent at Gupta household and how even as a little girl Khushi had been fond of cooking, eating and feeding, all in the same order of importance.
Dhruv turned to Arnav and said, "Bhai let's go out for dinner tomorrow. Payal and Akash are coming. It will be fun".
Arnav shook his head, "No I have a video conference tomorrow. Sorry."
Dhruv wouldn't give up, "Aw! Come on! Get out of this workaholic life. You have a lovely wife. You should lessen up buddy".
Arnav did not respond to that and Dhruv knew he would not get a response.
Dhruv said, "Ok. Let me take Khushi to the dinner with her Jiji and Jaja. She can have fun. Any problem with that?"
Arnav shook his head, though he did not like the idea somehow. He said, "Fine, go ahead".
When Khushi came back Dhruv gave her the news. Khushi immediately refused and said "No. If Arnav is not coming neither am I going".
Arnav said, "I promised Dhruv you can go. So, just go ahead".
Khushi still looked at him a little unsure. Dhruv interrupted and said "Come on Khushi. Come for me and for old times' sake". Khushi smiled at him in acceptance
When Arnav came home the next day, the house felt strangely empty. He missed her presence. Though he never acknowledged her efforts, she would have a tasty meal ready and waiting for him. He knew she cooked it but let him believe Hari Prasad had cooked it, to ensure he did not show his anger on the food and ate properly. She would hang around the dining room watching, in case he needed something. Today Hari Prasad served the food when he came in. The food did not taste the same. He sighed. He felt her absence more than he liked.
It was then he saw her come in. He had not heard the bell,
There she was looking gorgeous. She wore a deep blue dress with orange embroidery. Her hair was handing loose about her shoulders. She wore stone jewelry off the local shops. She never touched the jewelry she inherited as Mrs Raizada. She looked breathtakingly beautiful and she had a smile on her face and she was talking on the phone "Yes Dhruv. Thank you! I had fun!" .
Without knowing Arnav's eyes lit up with a jealous rage and frustrated passion .
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