rocked in the rocking chair, her shawl wrapped tightly around her, the wrinkles
deepening on her forehead as she stared out, the memories clouding over her
mind, as she saw the sun set slowly, the evening coming forth, and bringing
with it the same haunting memory, the promise she had made that she found
herself struggling to fulfil now.
"What did you do?" Devyani exclaimed as she came to
sit besides the sick man on bed, his face pale, spots on his cheeks standing
out, his eyes losing the colour and the spark of intelligence they always
"What I had to, Devi" He rasped out, his body shaking
with another round of coughs, while Devyani patted him on the back, handing him
a glass of water.
"This was no way of doing what you wanted. My daughter
was not safe in your home, and now even my grandchild is going to fall prey to
your tricks!" She said, her voice trembling as she tried holding in her tears,
however a few escaped her eyes, and she quickly looked away, the sari covering
her mouth as her body shook in anger and fear.
"I promise, I am not destroying his life. I am making
it" He coughed out.
"By forcing your decision on him?!" She burst out, and
he shook his head, gingerly taking her hand in his and giving it a light squeeze, "Devyani, I
failed your daughter and I failed my wife by not looking after my sons. Please
give me this chance to do something for my grandchildren. For Arnav" He said,
and she shook her head vehemently, a few strands of hair breaking lose from the
careful tight bun on her head.
"This will not make his life. He will hate you for it
when he grows older"
"He needs to be worthy of the Raizada wealth I will
leave for him, and he will prove that to me through this challenge"
"What of the girl?" She asked, her voice trembling for
the future that ahd already been decided for the poor girl, "What if this
"Devyani, the girl will not be harmed in this. I
promise. Gupta and I made sure that if none of the children would be harmed by
what we planned" as he handed her the contract.
"Not harmed!" She scoffed, as she waved away the
document refusing to look at it, "I refuse to believe that! Both will be hurt,
and you both are not going to be here to pick up the pieces! This is not
"But both must marry, Deviyani. Arnav will not get
what he wants till he marries her, and Khushi will not get what her family
wants till she marries him. Money can make anyone do anything" He stated as he
pressed the document into her palm forcefully and indicated for her to read it.
She put on her glasses, as she silent read over the
"How much is Sheesh Mahal worth?" She asked, her
eyebrows furrowing together as she read over the document.
"More than the Raizada and Malik wealth" He whispered.
"Does anyone else know about the added clause in this
contract? Arnav will hate her and want to divorce her as soon as possible. Or
better yet, get her to divorce him" She muttered.
"Which is why she must not know of some of the
clauses, because if I know the Gupta blood, it runs with self-sacrificing, and
that is something I will not tolerate from her. Arnav will have to accept her."
"You are horrible for playing with their lives. For
playing with innocent lives! What if they never fall in love? What if this
"That is where I need your help, Devi. I know my days
are numbered, so I need you to carry this on for me. I need you to make sure
they make this marriage work, because if there is any way of ensuring that
Arnav does not turn into anything a Malik is, then this is the way to do it"
a knock on the door just as the bathroom door opened and Arnav stepped out in tracksuit
and lose grey t-shirt, a towel in his hand drying his face and neck. He folded
the towel and placed it on the table at the far side of the room before walking
towards the door when another knock came through. Khushi got up, and looked
outside to see Aranv's back blocking most of the entrance as he conversed with
someone at the door.
lethargic from the long flight, Khushi let a yawn break past her lips, and the
tiredness weighing her down. She saw as Arnav grabbed something off the person,
and closed the door. Turning around, his eyes connected with Khushi's as she
stood there her eyes moving down to the champagne bottle and two glasses in his
hand, a red bow neatly wrapped around he champagne bottle, and moved back to
meet Arnav's gaze.
She held it
for a few seconds; her lips drying slightly, as her heart picked up its pace,
and her hand automatically gripped the sides of her suit. Suddenly noticing the
dim lighting, the moonlight filtering through the blinds in the living area and
the atmosphere that reeked of romance, she quickly averted her gaze, and looked
down at the carpeted floor swallowing hard, her grip on the suit tightening.
She was aware he was still standing there, looking at her, and feeling the same
uncomfortably feeling slowly creeping up her spine, she turned her back to him,
and walked back into the room, wanting to stay away and keep her distance.
opening her suitcase and grabbing her cotton suit, she walked towards the
bathroom to have a quick shower before retiring back to sleep. Glancing back at
the bed, she wondered how the sleeping arrangement would play out, but deciding
to worry about that later, she closed the bathroom door and opened the shower,
letting the high-pressure water coming to a comfortable temperature before
stripping and stepping into the shower. She let the water slowly cascade down
her body, her hands weaving through the hair, wetting the strands, letting the
water slowly soak into the thick mass of hair on her head. She sighed as she
closed her eyes and leaned against the wall to her side, the water continuing
to stream down, washing away the tiredness, a content sigh escaped her lips. As
she thought about the decorations outside in the room, her arms wrapped around
her waist, a slow nervousness and fear crept through her body.
She wasn't sure
what was expected of her during the honeymoon. Wasn't a honeymoon for a couple
in love? How could she be expected to spend time with someone with whom she
found 10 minutes of the day unbearable? She opened her mouth and breathed
through it slowly, trying to calm her racing heart and think logically, but her
mind was jumping between scenarios, each of which was equally unpleasant to
She did not like him; she referred to him as a raakshas and Laad Governer,
so how could she be expected to be physically intimate with a guy she abhorred?
Her hands clutched tightly at her waist, the nails digging into her skin as the
thought of being physically intimate with Arnav crossed her mind.
expect her to?
She shook her
head as a gasp escaped her lips and her hands clapped over her mouth, her eyes
opening wide in fear. She could not, would
not get close to a man as ruthless as
Arnav Singh Raizada.
night of her marriage when Arnav had thrown her out of the room, a part of her
had been relieved at the fact that he had tried not to force himself upon her,
but as the time had gone past, she had realised one thing - he was not a man who would force himself on an unwilling woman. He had chances during the time she had been staying at the Raizada mansion to do whatever he wanted, however he had kept his distance. So why was she scared?
She closed her eyes again and thought
again. She wasn't sure what she was nervous about, but she was sure about one
thing, the past few weeks when Arnav had started mellowing down, occasionally
jumping between his outbursts had thrown Khushi off. She wasn't sure what to
make of his constant staring, nor was she sure what to make of this
relationship both of them found themselves in.
This wasn't a
normal husband wife relationship. There was no love present.
dawned on Khushi, as she opened her eyes, now shivering under the water as her
skin turned to prune, she was afraid how their relationship would be affected
after this trip. She was afraid if they would get closer. She was afraid of how
their relationship would change. And she wasn't sure if she was looking forward
to the change, not when she had accustomed herself to hate the man.
Arnav sat on
the couch in the living area, his hand holding a glass of champagne, swirling
the liquid around as he stared out the big windows, the lights twinkling
outside, the night buzzing with life and energy as his eyes wandered around to
the neon sign flashing with a sign for a club, the bridges looming over the
people, the cars zipping past, the entire atmosphere completely different. He
gave out a sigh and his body stiffened as he heard the bathroom door open from
His eyes were
fixed on the window, refusing to look anywhere else, however as she walked
around the bedroom, the rustle of clothing telling him that she was packing
things away, his grip on the glass tightened, and he closed his eyes inhaling
and exhaling sharply, before he tilted his head back and gulped down the
burning liquid in the glass.
next to the door, her hands holding the door, as she saw him pour himself
another glass of champagne, the tension refusing to leave her body as the
thoughts of whatever was going to happen tonight kept plaguing her mind.
As she saw
him drink down another glass, she looked back at the bed and did the first
thing that came to her mind to avoid Arnav - she quickly threw back the covers,
laid down on the bed, covered her face with the sheet and quilt, and closed her
eyes pretending to be in deep sleep lest he came into the room.
strained her ears to hear him come into the bedroom, but all she heard was the
occasional clink of glass as Arnav kept pouring himself a drink after another.
She sighed, her eyes still closed, and soon sleep swept over, and Khushi went
off to sleep on the comfortable soft bed, welcoming the sweet dreams.
groaned as she stretched out on the bed, a small smile resting her face as she
snuggled deeper into the soft pillow, and pulled up the quilt to her chin,
enjoying the comfort and letting it lull her away to another dream, but the
sunlight pouring in through the curtains that hadn't been drawn up during the
night, caused her to flinch, and squint as she opened her eyes and gave out a
sigh seeing the bright sunlight filtering into the room.
She sat up,
and ran a hand through her hair, a yawn escaping her lips as she stretched out,
and finally opened her eyes properly.
She looked to
her side and saw the other side of the bed was untouched, and then her eye
wandered around the room, her brows furrowing together as she saw that Arnav
was nowhere. Pushing the quilt away, she quickly got up, snatched the dupatta
from the seat next to the bed, hurriedly draped it around her neck.
She knew he
would have been drunk with the way he was drinking, however she hoped he hadn't
done anything stupid. She stepped out of the bedroom, worry etched on her face
as the worst scenarios kept running through her head.
her tracks, relief swept through her as she saw him lying down on the sofa at
an awkward angle, his hair mussed up, his arm hanging off the couch, the
t-shirt he had gone to sleep in was riding up his stomach, revealing the skin
and the taut stomach, and Khushi quickly averted her gaze.
She saw a
whole champagne bottle lying on the floor, the glass set on the table, and she
assumed that after pouring glasses after glasses, he must have decided to drink
from the bottle. Wrinkling her nose in
disgust as she took a step closer and the stench of alcohol infiltrated her nose,
she picked up the bottle and placed it on the table.
over her shoulder, her hands came to a rest on her hips, as she bit her lip in
amusement at seeing his mouth open, drool collecting on the cushion, half his
face squashed by the cushion, while a leg was hanging off the small couch, and
the arm was awkwardly placed between himself and the couch to not fall off from
it. She realised it was not a comfortable position, and bent down to wake him
Just as she
placed a hand on his shoulder to shake him, a ring from the doorbell resounded
through the suite. She snatched her hand back as Arnav let out a loud groan
before placing another cushion over his head to block off any noise and
sunlight. Realising the sunlight was bothering him, she quickly walked over to
the big windows surrounding the living area and looked around for a way to
bring down the blinds, however the person at the door sounded the bell again.
groaned, and rolled over, hiding his face into the couch, his hair sticking up,
and Khushi quickly walked to the door, swallowing hard hoping that it would be
someone she could converse with.
door slightly, Khushi smiled vibrantly at the person standing at the door.
A short girl
wearing a black jacket buttoned up in the front, a pencil skirt coming up to
her knees and a collared white shirt with the hotel's tag hanging off the
jacket looked up at her. Khushi noted with surprise that the woman's hair was
unlike something she had ever seen. It was cropped short at the side, but the
other side had hair coming up to her jaw, streaked with colours of red, the
side-fringe falling over her right eye, as she smiled up at her warmly.
afternoon, I am Nandini" She said cheerfully, her smile wide and welcoming, and
Khushi's eyes widened as she looked at her watch and realised that it one in
"Namaste, I am Khushi" She said, hesitant
to open the door wider because Arnav was still sprawled on the couch, and as
Khushi looked over her shoulder, she realised he hadn't gotten up yet, but
Nandini did not seem to mind and handed Khushi a clipboard she had brought
"Mrs. Jha had sent me to help you with the
shopping and settling into the environment of Melbourne. From what I
understood, this is your first time here?" Nandini spoke in Hindi, her eyes
twinkling up at her and Khushi nodded. "Don't worry, Mrs. Jha and Mrs Raizada have
explicitly said that your enjoyment in this beautiful city is half my
responsibility and half your husband's. In this clipboard I just handed you, I
have marked all the attractions you can visit while staying at Melbourne and marked
out all the places you must visit,
the clubs and wait for it..." She winked, as she flipped over a page, her writing
scrawled over the pages, clippings and images from different magazines pasted
on it, "Here are all the shops and streets you can find the best clothes, with
down at the clipboards, her eyes widening at the prices that were scribbled
next to a few clothing items, mentally trying to convert it to rupees, yet
off your clothes in the evening" Nandini continued, looking at her blackberry
as she punched in a few numbers, "I am still waiting on a few items"
"But I bought
my own clothes..." Khushi said, confused as she saw Nandini quickly type
something into her phone,
Nandini said, "But Mrs Jha told me to buy a few clothes for you that you might
need to wear while going out here" Nandini grinned and stuffed her phone into
her jacket pocket. "Anyway, it was a pleasure meeting you, Mrs Raizada. Say my
hello to Mr Raizada as well" Nandini grinned and turned on her heel to press
the lift button, which opened to take her back downstairs.
the door behind her and looked down at all the western wear that were cut out
into the page.
one thing. Instead of worrying about Arnav, she should have feared what Nani
and Anjali had planned to bring the two closer.