He reluctantly pulled back, lowered her hands to her sides.
He murmured an agonized plea, "Oh God, Khushi, I can't' Khushi I can't do this right now..."
She blinked and fresh tears ran over her cheeks...
"I love you...and I want you so badly right now...but I can't take you this way...I'm through with taking advantage of you..."
"Taking advantage of me?" Khushi whispered...
"I don't want to hurt you anymore Khushi..."
"Why now..." she wondered...out loud...
His heart sank as he heard her...
The confusion and the pain in her eyes was cruelly torturing him...
He'd treated HER cruelly.
He'd rejected her every overture of normal companionship, dealing with her as if she were a piece of trash he kept in his house for the sake of convenience.
She had only been trying to do her best with the bad situation he had forced on her, and he'd purposely made it almost impossible for her to hang on to any shred of self respect.
Not to mention plotting and executing the breaking of her heart just to render her vulnerable to his attack in the first place.
It was despicable, and it was never going to happen again.
He'd been using his past as an excuse to hate her, and the constant effort necessary to sustain the fiction had exhausted him.
On one hand he wanted to release her and let her forget, but on the other hand, he knew he never could.
She felt her throat tighten with the constriction of oncoming tears and swallowed hard, forcing them back.
She seemed to spend a good deal of her time crying lately, but she was determined to stop.
She would be brave if it killed her.
"I don't blame you for not trusting me... " he said expressionlessly. "You did once. I felt that you did... you even went along with our contract marriage. But...it was different...I'm sorry that I ended up using it to make you stay... I used the only leverage I had, leverage I had created, to keep you with me."
He sighed heavily, his shoulders slumping. "But you can't recapture a memory," he added. "I'm sorry I hurt you so deeply."
He stopped, as if to phrase his next thoughts more carefully.
Khushi bolted upright, her eyes riveted on his face, her fingers knotted in her lap.
"You hated me," she whispered, blurting out the first idea she could articulate. "Every time you would hurt me, you would walk away from me. You made me sleep outside..."
"Every time I hurt you, I hated myself more...I have always felt connected and close to you...every time I would get closer to you, I wasn't able to shut you out of my heart..."
He stood abruptly, his back to her..."You may not believe this, and I wouldn't blame you if you didn't, but I loved you from the beginning..." he said quietly...
"Now more than ever, more than life it self ... All the times we were together, I just wanted to get closer to you...but I had pushed people out of my life for so long...so when...when Shyam lied to me...all I could focus on was the hate for what you'd done, for the way you'd deceived me...ME! Yes I hated Shyam for what he did to Di, but I hated you for what you did to ME! I wouldn't see the truth, that the emotions didn't have anything to do with age or maturity. It was you. You are the only person who can make me feel this way."
Khushi sat watching him, her eyes huge, the fingertips of one hand pressed to her lips, as if to stem the tide of words that threatened to rush out at him.
She kept silent with an effort.
He raced ahead, unloading the burden of pain and uncertainty he had carried all these months...
And through it all, a refrain kept repeating in Khushi's brain: he loves me, he said he loves me.
"This is tough," he said huskily, clearing his throat. "I've asked you to stay with me, to give it another try...The contract doesn't mean anything... it was all an excuse to keep you with me, pretending it was for revenge, while in reality I just couldn't bear to let you go. You can make yourself believe anything if you want something badly enough, and I wanted you real bad." He coughed.
Arnav closed his eyes and sat on the couch facing away from her...
Her soul began to pull at her...
She stood up from the bed and started towards him...
"Arnavji...I want to stay..."
Standing up rapidly, he turned to face her...
She stumbled back slightly and his face fell...
"I...I'm not going to hurt you..."
Trying to smile, she said, "It's...I'm...I'm okay..."
Raking his hand through his hair, he wanted to scream..."Oh God Khushi...All the disgusting things I did to you, all the awful things I said to you," he rasped, his voice muffled. "How can you ever forgive me...How can you ever?"
"I forgave you when you said them..."
He looked up in shock...
"It was your pain talking Arnavji, I know that."
"But the way I've treated you since we've been married?" he asked, lifting his head and eyeing her warily, as if she might strike him.
"You have the rest of our lives to make up for that," she said trying to smile softly again...
"Khushi...I..." he began hoarsely, then paused to take a deep breath and start again...
He turned suddenly, and as she watched in astonishment, headed out the door and stood at the poolside.
Khushi could see him at war.
He couldn't forgive himself, and although he wanted Khushi's forgiveness, now that he had it, he hated himself even more...
As she stepped closer to him, she saw him staring into the shadows.
He wouldn't look at her.
"Arnavji...?" she whispered, standing in front of him and putting her hand on his shoulder.
In the next second he had pulled her into his arms and held her tightly.
"I am such a bloody fool!" he said huskily when he could talk... "Why did I listen to him, even when I knew how much he hated me, how much he wanted to tear us apart!"
He hung his head. "I am so sorry," he said hoarsely.
He gave a short bark of laughter and distain at what he just said..."The words are pathetically inadequate, aren't they?"
"... I know you're sorry," she whispered..."Yes, you hurt me...more than I ever thought anyone could...and yet, I have never stopped loving you..."
He slipped his arm around her waist and kissed her deeply, running his hand up her back, pulling her close.
The kiss was unending.
At first passive, she became the aggressor, exploring his mouth, tasting him.
When he pulled back, he looked at her...Her face framed by the dark halo of her silky hair.
With the light slanting across her face, he beheld her beauty.
"I'm so sorry."
Her touch created a conflicting mass of emotions strong enough to make his breath catch.
He felt pain, and possession radiate through him...
Seeing the love back in her eyes started a hunger so deep inside him that his gut burned.
What had been smoldering inside him flamed to life.
Primal and overpowering, it claimed him... "Khushi" His voice was rough with need.
His hand slid to cup the back of her head, pulling her closer.
Her eyes beckoned him, her lush lips parted slightly, enticing him.
Giving no thought to gentleness, he crushed her body to his.
His lips were demanding against hers, taking her in a kiss that had his heart hammering.
She surrendered to him, her lips soft and yielding, her body pliant, molding to his.
Arnav released her from the kiss long enough to sweep her up in his arms and carry her quickly to the bedroom.
He put her on her feet beside the bed, fisting both hands in her long hair for another searing kiss.
When she started to tremble he instantly gentled his hold and slowed the kiss...
As he withdrew, he looked into her eyes..."I love you..."
His hands moved over her shoulder and down her arms
She felt a sharp pain through her arms and let out a short cry...
His eyes widened ..."Oh God, I'm sorry...I..."
"It's okay...it just stings..."
Grabbing her face in his hands, he stared long and hard at her..."Khushi...I need you to trust me...I only want to protect you...who did this to you..."
Khushi immediately tried to move away, but his strength kept her bound in his arms...
"No Khushi, I can't bear seeing you in pain...I want to know who did this to you..."
She had tried to withold her waterfall of tears, but now...the dam burst...
"No...please...please don't ask me! Please...please I can't say, please Arnavji...please..."
"Khushi...shhh...Khushi! Stop saying please...shhh..."
Her determination not to reveal who hurt her scared him...
Was she afraid that the person would hurt her again?
Cause he'd never let that happen.
Was she afraid to tell because it was someone close to her?
Close to him?
Someone in his own house?
That night, while Khushi was in the shower, Arnav paced the room as he growled into his phone...
"If it weren't the guards that hurt her, then WHO!"
"Sir, the only video you haven't seen is the tape of her visit from..."
Arnav stood up straight, his anger bubbling over..."She wouldn't have hurt Khushi!!!..."
"Then Sir, I can't help you!"
Arnav threw his phone at the wall...
He raked his hands through his hair...
She would never hurt Khushi...
He bent down to retrieve his phone, as his thoughts tormented him.
What if she HAD hurt Khushi?
Fury steamed through his veins...
IF she had hurt her...would it make a difference, after everything they'd been through...?
His eyes shot open..."Yes. Yes it bloody well would make a difference!"
Dialling the police sergeant, he nervously clenched his fist as it rang.
Clearing his throat, Arnav spoke the words he hoped would reveal nothing but a friendly visit.
"This is Arnav Singh Raizada again. Please email me the video..."