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I, Arnav Singh Raizada, love you, Khushi Singh Raizada. And damn it! I'll keep on loving you until the day that I die!"
Arnav's mouth moved over Khushi's fervently. He loved her. There were no words to describe this feeling. It was like a balloon had magically expanded in his previously inactive heart and caused it to swell until it threatened to burst out of his chest. All of his senses were filled with Khushi and Khushi only. In one part of his mind, he did realize that they were in a bathroom, but that was unimportant.
Khushi responded with all the passion she could muster. Her hands wove themselves in his hair, clutching for dear life. She felt his arousal pressed against her, and for the first time, didn't feel embarrassed by it. She pulled him closer to her, moaning as he deepened the kiss.
"I love you." Arnav whispered harshly against her lips before pulling away. He took in her frazzled appearance with delight. It was like someone had removed a blindfold from him. He loved her. God, he couldn't thank Atman enough! He loved her! And the best part was, she loved him...hopefully.
All Khushi could do was gasp for air. Arnav had left her breathless. First with his totally unexpected confession to his mindblowing kiss. She didn't have time to contemplate over his words.
"What?" That was the first word that came out of her mouth.
Arnav smiled down at her...a real smile, his eyes shining knowingly. "I." He pointed at himself. "Love." He placed his hand over his heart. "You." He kissed her right over her heart.
"B...bu...bu...but." Khushi shook her head, utterly frustrated.
Before she could say anything else, Arnav grabbed her hand and unlocked the door, taking them both outside, ignoring the suspicious looks of some nurses who were in the corridor.
He led her to an area with nice looking couches and sat her down there. Arnav looked into her eyes. "Is it so hard to believe?" He asked, taking her hand and placing it on his chest where she felt his heart pounding frantically.
Khushi wanted to believe him, she desperately did, but it seemed so...so...impossible. She knew that he had vowed never to love, never to trust in his heart. He had said those things in front of her so many years ago on the day of his mother's death. Yet, he had confessed his undying love to her...in a bathroom of all places.
But remember Khushi, this is also the same man who promised that he would never marry and look, here he is, married to you, and he'll STAY married to you. Wasn't it him who proposed marriage in the first place? Whatever his reasons were to marry you, he still did it. A little voice in her head piped in.
"I...I don't know what to say." Khushi said quietly. She wished that she could say the same thing back to him, but she had to know his reasons for saying what he just had.
Arnav's smile didn't falter, if anything, it widened. He knew that she would respond like this. She would be confused by his behavior, by his declaration of love, and that's what made this so much fun.
"You could say, I love you back to me." He quipped, reaching out to touch her cheek which had gone bright red. Ah yes, the famous Khushi blush. That was a clear indicator of her feelings for him, but he wanted to draw this out a bit more.
"But I get it." He sighed a rather sad sigh, inwardly patting himself on the back for his Oscar winning performance. "You don't love me, do you?"
Khushi's eyes widened before narrowing in anger. How dare he assume that! Who was he to think that she didn't love him? In one move, she grabbed his collar, pulling him closer to her. "Listen here Mr. Raizada!"
"No! You listen Mrs. Raizada." Arnav drawled, skillfully concealing his amusement. "You DON'T love me. And that's fine...really, it is. The thing is though, I will MAKE you love me. By the time I'm done with you, the only thoughts you'll have of are me...me...and oh, wait I forgot something...ME."
Arnav was trying so hard to contain the laughter that was about to erupt at Khushi's blazing eyes and wrinkled nose. He was riling her up on purpose. He could see the vein in her temple pulsing with fury and the tempest gathering in between her eyebrows.
"What do you know about my feelings Arnav!?" Somehow, her low pitched voice sounded more menacing than a yell. He shivered involuntarily. "Why are you doing this? Why now?" Her shoulders slumped slightly, but she was still incredibly angry.
"Why now Khushi?" Arnav intoned lightly. "Someone once said that there's no time better than the present, so I told you how I really feel. I understand that this is all so sudden, and that you don't reciprocate my feelings, but one day you will." He sighed and put his head in his hands, feeling rather tired all of a sudden.
Khushi observed her husband with cold eyes. There had to be some ulterior motive behind his behavior. He couldn't just realize something as important as loving her, and then tell her that she didn't love him, and vow to do just that. This was all so very confusing and suspicious. As of this moment, Khushi had a new mission: Find out if Arnav really loved her whilst making her own feelings about him clear. It wouldn't be easy, but it had to be done. Until then though, she would keep a distance between them.
"I don't know what you're playing at Arnav, but it won't work."
With that, she stood up and made her way back to Atman's room, unaware of the mirth-filled eyes that watched her every move.
Arnav followed her at a steady pace, just thinking about what was to come in the days ahead. She wouldn't know what hit her. He was determined to convince Khushi of his love while extracting her true feelings as well.
You can run from me now Khushi, but the big bad wolf will always get his little red riding hood.
If Atman noted any change between the husband and wife, he didn't mention it. Instead, he sent a wink at Arnav who returned it, much to the older man's surprise. Atman wasn't sure how the plan that he had come up with spur of the moment had played out. Hopefully, Raizada had told Khushi what he had told Atman.
Judging by the heated looks Arnav was sending Khushi, it appeared as though he had.
But to Atman, Khushi seemed a bit too stiff. There was an air of discomfort around her that hadn't been there before. His eyes met Arnav's briefly. The younger man shrugged his shoulders and looked away. Atman immediately understood.
Khushi hadn't believed Arnav. In all honesty, if he was in Khushi's shoes, he wouldn't have believed him either. But he knew how Khushi felt about Raizada. It was impossible not to know that the kid was in love with Arnav. The way she talked about him, the look in her eyes as she described how they would take Shyam down together, it all pointed to one thing: Love.
Of course, Atman knew that Khushi would never admit something like this so freely, especially not after Raizada's confession, but in the past month of their marriage, Atman had picked up some things about Arnav.
The man was tenacious to a fault, hard-working, orderly: the perfect business man. Yet, underneath all of that, Atman saw someone else...a kindred spirit, a young man, broken by tragedies early on in life, a man who was forged to be someone he truly wasn't. Khushi had often told him, even before her and Arnav were married, that Arnav used to be a normal kid rather than what he portrayed to the world.
Today, when Arnav had so innocently asked I love her?, Atman saw a frightened person, not sure what to do with the knowledge he had. Arnav didn't even know that these feelings that he held for Khushi were those of love.
These two were stubborn as rock. What they needed was a push in the right direction to get the ball rolling.
Khushi and Arnav. Arnav and Khushi.
Atman wasn't sure what Khushi was talking to him about. All of his attention was focused on the man who stood there silently in the background.
A small grin shown on Atman's face. The ocean indeed. Just like an ocean, he was calm, fluid, consistent. But when the slightest disturbance hit him, the ripples would fan out for miles. And when a storm arrived, the ocean was thrown into a tumultuous battle, raging a war against everything and anything. It was just like the infamous ASR anger that was portrayed on the news every so often.
That's why Khushi was so perfect for the man. If Arnav was the ocean, then Khushi was like the moon who affected the tides. She pushed and pulled, gentling him and enraging him. She was the only one who could control him like that.
"Bhaiyaa! Bhaiyaa, are you listening to me?" Khushi's voice drew him out of his thoughts.
He sent a smile at her. "Yes yes, I know. Maa and Papa will be here tomorrow to pick me up." He noticed that Khushi had turned serious. He knew her well enough to know what she was going to say and beat her to it. "Khushi, relax. I know that they might come back, but I've got the CBI's best watching over me." Though his tone was light, his eyes hardened.
Khushi nodded, not quite ready to go. She wasn't sure she could be alone in the car with Arnav without exploding.
Arnav came forward and stuck out his hand which Atman took.
"Thank you." Arnav said simply, knowing that Atman didn't need anything else.
The older man just laughed and lowered his voice so Khushi wouldn't hear what they were saying. "Don't thank me yet bro. It seems as though you and your lady love still need to work things out. You might be cursing my name by the end of all this."
Arnav smirked. "You're right." He chanced a glance at Khushi who was regarding the pair with narrowed eyes. "I probably will be. If and when Khushi finds out about this, I think we'll both be cursed out enough times."
"Take care of her Arnav." Atman said without a smile. "I don't know how much she's told you about her initial days with us, but they weren't pretty. She's strong, but not as strong as she thinks she is. I know that she needs you, but I don't know how long it'll take for her to admit that fact." The smile returned to his face.
Arnav nodded. "Don't you worry. Pretty soon, she'll be mine in every way possible." His features promised nothing less.
Atman looked away in distaste. "Too much information bro. She's my sister for God's sake! I don't need to hear about those things from her husband!"
Arnav just grinned and patted Atman's shoulder. "I'll see you around then." He turned to Khushi. "Ready to go?"
His wife was still looking at the two of them suspiciously. "Yes. Bye Bhaiyaa! See you tomorrow."
Atman waved at the couple and watched as they walked out of the room. He shook his head in exasperation. Those two just needed to get it out of their systems. He could touch the tension between them. All he wanted to do was lock those two in a room with chocolates, champagne, roses, and romantic music. Nine months later, he would have a little niece or nephew to play with.
He really hoped that Arnav knew what he was getting into by marrying Khushi. The man loved her, but she wouldn't bend so easily to his will. Atman just prayed that this entire ordeal with Shyam would be over soon so everyone could go back to living their lives...normally.
The car ride back home was tense to say the least. But only for Khushi.
Arnav seemed completely at ease, his free hand entwined with Khushi's who was desperately trying to pull it off, but his grip was just too tight. It didn't help Khushi's frayed nerves that Arnav kept on mentioning how much he loved her every two minutes. She was waiting to extract her revenge on him tonight itself, making him regret that he had even thought that she didn't love him. Khushi sighed with relief as he withdrew his hand from hers to change gears. However, just seconds later, his fingers rested on the middle of her thigh, tracing random patterns that seared her skin even through her pants.
Arnav smirked as Khushi sucked in a breath. It was so easy to rile her up. He held back a groan though. This was torture...not just for her, but for him as well. How much longer would he have to wait to make her his? He could imagine himself ripping the fabric of her jeans apart just so he could touch the silky skin of her thigh. Then maybe his fingers would wander inwards until they reached the place he desperately needed to...
The car swerved suddenly causing both driver and passenger to jump. Arnav hastily righted the steering and gave Khushi a sheepish look, immediately taking his hand back.
"Sorry." He muttered under his breath.
Khushi simply glared at him the entire way home, still unable to get the memory of his touch out of her system.
As soon as Shantivan came into sight, Khushi was ready to go and get away from her overly amorous husband...those were two words that she would NEVER have associated with Arnav Singh Raizada.
However, when she opened the door to the house, Khushi knew something was wrong based on the way Anjali threw herself into Khushi's arms, sobbing. The entire family was gathered in the living room, grim faced and angry looking.
"What the hell happened?" Arnav asked from behind her, summing up her thoughts perfectly.
What had happened indeed...
"Bhai." Akaash said. That one word was tinged with anger, but not directed towards Arnav or Khushi.
Khushi gently loosened Anjali's grip on her shirt and put her hands on Anjali's shoulders. Her heart clenched as she took in her sister-in-law's puffy red eyes and tear-stained cheeks. Alarm ran through her. Was she alright, was the baby alright? "Di, kya hua?"
She guided Anjali back to a couch and set her down carefully whilst looking at Nani who looked furious.
"Alright enough!" Arnav growled. "What is going on?"
At Arnav's voice, Anjali started crying harder, and she burrowed herself into Khushi's shirt.
In response to Arnav's question, Mama placed a hand on Arnav's shoulder, an odd look of triumph in his eyes. He nodded ever so slightly causing Arnav to draw in a breath. Akaash, not noticing the silent conversation between his father and brother, pressed a button on the handset by the lamp.
Arnav and Khushi froze at a woman's voice which filled the silent room like an unwanted presence.
"Shyam darling, where are you? It's me, Candy. You said you would visit me the other night but instead you stayed at home with that wife of yours! I tried calling your phone, but it's switched off which is why I called your office phone!" The woman's voice changed, become lower and huskier. "I can't wait to see you again. You always know EXACTLY how to please me. I need you so badly. Same time same place?" Akaash cut the recording right there, unable to listen any more.
Blue flames burned the hottest, and now Arnav knew why. All he could feel was blue. Not red, not orange, not purple, not white...but blue. His fingers dug into his hands, his entire body shook from an unknown force. Though he knew Shyam was doing this, hearing it was another story. A sideways glance at Khushi confirmed that she was feeling the same thing he was.
Arnav couldn't bare to look at his Di. What must she be feeling right now? His sister looked completely broken. But he saw as Anjali raised her head to look at Khushi, she looked hopeful.
"S...surely this is a mistake, right Khushi? M...my Shyam-ji would never do anything like this." Anjali's voice was hysterical. "The baby...me...he wouldn't do this!" She shook her head over and over again.
Khushi locked eyes with Akaash who looked angrier than she had ever seen him. She kept on stroking Anjali's hair, but did nothing to agree with her. Anjali needed to know how disgusting Shyam was so it would be easier for her to accept the real truth when it came out.
"Di." Khushi cleared her throat, a bit worried to find that it was choked up. At Anjali's hopeful expression, Khushi nearly lost it. "Di, I'm so sorry."
At that, Anjali stood up, nearly toppling over. "NO! My husband could never do this to me! This is all a big misunderstanding! He's mine! He...he..." She couldn't find the will to continue. Casting fearful glances at everyone present, Anjali fled the room, her sobs still heard as she hobbled to her room.
"Anjali bitiyaan!" Nani and Mami cried out simultaneously. They tried to go after her, but Mama stopped both of them.
"No, Maa, Manorama. Let her be. We will talk to her later. Right now, we need to deal with this issue."
Though the two older women looked as though they wanted to disagree, they nodded and sat anyway.
"Arnav bitwa, you sit as well." Mama said, noting his nephew's rigid posture. When he still didn't move, Khushi came up to him and guided him to sit next to her. At the moment, she knew that she would have to take charge, be the strongest one here.
"Tell me what happened."
It was Akaash who spoke first. "Payal and I had just come home when we heard Di cry out from upstairs." His voice hardened even though Payal's hand was interlaced in his. For the first time, Khushi saw genuine anger in Payal's eyes. "Both of us ran to Di, and that's when we found her clutching Shy...his office chair like her life depended on it." He ran a hand through his already disheveled hair, asking Payal to continue.
The woman took a deep breath and wiped the tears out of her eyes. "Moments after that, Nani-ji, Bauji, and Maa-ji came upstairs to see what was wrong. Di was...she looked to be in hysterics. Her breathing was heavy, she was shaking, and we knew that if she stood up, she was going to fall. At first, we thought that something had happened with the baby, but then she pointed at the phone and..."
"And we heard that message." Anmol Singh Raizada finished for his daughter-in-law, rage tinting his normally sweet voice.
"Damad-ji." Nani brokenly whispered. "How is this possible?" It was too much to handle for her aged heart. How would her sweet Anjali bitiyaa bounce back from yet another broken marriage? She had no doubts that her temperamental grandson would never allow Shyam back into the house.
Husband and wife exchanged a glance. They wanted to tell everyone exactly how this was possible. How Shyam had deceived them from the beginning, how the Raizada family was just a pawn in his elaborate game, how he had just used Anjali for money and sex, but they couldn't. Now now. What they could do was give a watered down version of the truth.
"Khushi bitiyaa." Mama's quiet voice cut through the silence. Khushi understood what her uncle wanted her to do. She nodded quickly and took a deep breath. However, before she could talk, Arnav did it for her.
"I already knew."
Simultaneous cries of "WHAT!" came from the vast majority of people in the room. Akaash was the first to pick up on the fact that neither his father nor sister-in-law said anything.
"Papa, Khushi?" Akaash said incredulously. "You two knew?"
The accusation in his tone irked Khushi. "I had a hunch. Ever since that day when I came over from dinner, I had a strong suspicion that jijaji wasn't all that he seemed. Arnav was actually the one who discovered this first."
The disbelief on everyone's face was clear.
"Khushi's right." Arnav let out a troubled sigh. "Around three months ago, I...found some things that disturbed me...about him."
"Like what Bhai?" Akaash was slightly hurt that his brother hadn't come to him with this information.
Arnav looked at his younger brother straight in the eye, pleased that Akaash didn't flinch or look down. "I discovered that Shyam doesn't have a job anymore. His firm is gone."
The dramatic gasps from Nani, Mami, and Payal would have been funny, but they weren't.
"What are you saying bitwa?" Mami asked, not fully believing that Shyam could lie to them for this long.
"I'm saying that Shyam is unemployed. The firm that he was working for went under, and he was supposed to be relocated to Mumbai to work at the partner company, but he never did." Arnav responded blandly.
"I noticed that something was wrong on the day I came to dinner before our marriage." Khushi added. "Shyam left suddenly and in a rush. It was all too...odd. Was this normal behavior for him...to come and go frequently?"
Akaash looked sick to his stomach. "Yes." He spat. "But we assumed it was for his job! Not for..." He trailed off, not needing to complete his sentence.
"But he's gone for weeks at a time!" Nani protested. "Surely he can't -"
"No Nani! That man is a vile creature! Giving him the benefit of the doubt is deplorable!" Arnav roared, standing up. "I've had my doubts about him for three months! And Khushi is by my side on this."
"Tonight, Shyam is away on legitimate business, I made sure of that." Khushi said. At everyone's confused looks, she elaborated. "The good thing about having the law on your side, is that you can use it for justice. I called the company that Shyam was supposed to work for and suggested to them that they bring him to Mumbai for logistical reasons. He should be gone for a week or so." She felt Arnav's hand in hers and was grateful for his comfort.
"This gives us time to get him out of our lives, as well as Di's." Arnav added in.
"Arnav and I have a feeling that he's not just deceiving Di, but a lot of other people as well." She let her statement sink into everyone's minds.
"Please don't tell me--" Payal couldn't complete her thought. Horror dawned upon her.
"We think he's a criminal." Mama concluded grimly.
More than a criminal Mama, he's a terrorist. Arnav thought. But that little fact would have to wait.
"Anjali bitiyaa!" Nani sobbed. "The baby!" She collapsed onto the couch. Khushi went over to her and placed a hand on her shoulder. The elderly woman copied her grandmother and cried on Khushi who simply let her. "They will be fine, Nani. She's a Raizada, and Raizadas always pull through in the end." Her eyes met Arnav's.
"They always do."
Dinner was a subdued affair. Anjali refused to come downstairs. HP and the rest of the staff who already knew about Shyam gave her dinner in her room, stating that she just wanted to be left alone. This worried everyone. Anjali couldn't be closed off, it wasn't in her nature. They had to get her to see the truth somehow rather than let her live in her world of denial.
Arnav had tried to see his sister along with Akaash and Payal, but by the time they were upstairs, Anjali was already asleep, her hands clutching a picture of herself and Shyam, the food by her bed gone. At least she was still eating.
Nani had decided that she would stay with Anjali tonight, just to make sure that nothing went wrong. No one disagreed with the old woman. She now saw Shyam's truth, and regretted everything good thing she had said to the man. He was filth in her eyes, a man who had played with her family. She wouldn't allow him anywhere near Anjali or her child, especially not since he had touched another woman just as he had with Anjali.
Akaash and Payal vowed never to speak to him again. Akaash had asked Arnav how he would deal with Shyam, and Arnav had replied that he wasn't sure, which was true.
Arnav was proud of Akaash today. He had shown how much of a Raizada he was by displaying actual anger rather than the cheeky and obedient personality that he displayed to the rest of the world. His brother was very much like him, it just took the right trigger to show that.
Now it was just Arnav and Khushi in their room, on their bed, staring up at the ceiling.
"Di...can she bounce back Khushi?" Arnav turned on his side so he could see his wife.
Khushi remained where she was. "We have to help her see the truth. Otherwise, she'll crawl back into a shell. As much as I hate to admit it, Shyam brought her back to life. You remember how she was four years back. We can't let that happen again."
Arnav winced as memories of a slightly darker time came back to him. The company had just been launched, but Anjali never seemed to do anything but mope. "This event was either a god send, or terrible luck." He muttered.
"The truth hurts, Arnav." Khushi yawned. "That's reality though. I admit, with the baby, things will be tough on our family, but we'll pull through."
Arnav examined Khushi thoroughly. She seemed tired. There were dark circles under her eyes, and she looked as though she was about to doze off any second now. She wasn't even supposed to be working, and yet she was this fatigued. She works as hard as I do. Arnav mused. Her job even had a physical component to it.
"How's your injury?" Arnav inquired, touching her bruised side gently. She jumped at his touch, sucking in a breath when his fingers made their way under her shirt.
"F...fine." She replied shakily. "It's getting better."
"Speaking of truths..." Arnav trailed off, knowing that she knew what he was going to say. Indeed, Khushi turned to face him, eyes igniting with fire.
Arnav ground his teeth together. She was being so difficult! She was hiding behind her shields...shields that needed to vanish. "No Khushi. Listen to me, listen. I LOVE you. Love. Me. You. I know it may sound hard to believe -"
"Hard?" Khushi spluttered, ignoring the look annoyance on Arnav's face. "It's impossible! When did you come to this conclusion that you love me? Because surely you didn't love me when you married me, and surely you haven't fallen in love with me in the past month that we've been married!"
Arnav grudgingly admitted that she had a point. When did he realize that he loved her? No, he had loved her all along. The question was, when did it start?
Was it the moment that she had first been carried into Sheesh Mahal nearly twenty six years ago? And he, the two year old boy, looked on as this gurgling thing smiled a rather toothless smile and pulled his curious finger as it had tried to touch the small child.
Or perhaps it was when she had held him in her arms as he had poured his heart out to her after his mother's death. His head was in her lap, her hands were gently stroking his hair, their tears mingling together. After that moment, Arnav had distanced himself from everyone, but mostly her. She had seen the most vulnerable side to him, and that scared him.
"I've never hated you Khushi." Arnav said quietly. "Even throughout our childhood, even through all the mean pranks we pulled on each other, I never hated you."
Her hazel eyes widened momentarily before she snorted. "Please! You hated me from taking attention away from Di, Maa, Uncle, Nani, Mami, Mama, NK, and even Akaash! Don't pretend it was anything else." But a part of her heart leaped at his words.
"Why do you always do this?" Arnav asked angrily. He was trying to tell her something damn it! Why did she always have to be this cynical...like him?
shut up Khushi! I've told you once and I'll tell you again." Arnav
tugged her onto him, putting her right on his pelvis. The heat from
her thighs burned through him like an iron, a shiver of desire
jolting through his already overly stimulated senses. He took in her surprised
appearance with raw desire, not bothering to mask anything from her.
"Do you feel this?" Arnav thrust his lower half upwards, making contact with her most sensitive region. Khushi let out a strangled moan at the delicious friction.
"Clearly you do." He growled. His hands rested on her shoulders, pushing her farther onto his throbbing groin.
"S...st...stop!" Khushi panted. She felt her intestines turn to mush as images of her and Arnav doing the same exact thing sans clothes came into her mind.
"Why?" Arnav inquired hotly, his voice remaining steady even though his body demanded release. This woman would be the death of him. "Are we doing something wrong?" Her eyes were closed, her face struggling to regain some semblance of control. He resisted the urge to smirk.
"Do you feel that?" He asked again, stifling a groan of pleasure as she ground her hips against him instinctively. "That's not lust Khushi, that's love. Do you know how many goddamn cold showers I've had to take because of you? Do you know what you've done to me?"
"Well." Khushi squeaked. "I can only guess..."
Arnav brought himself to a sitting position so that he was eye-level with Khushi who was avoiding eye contact with him. "Look at me." He commanded softly. When she finally did, he didn't hide his satisfied expression. "Good."
Khushi would have scowled at him, but this didn't seem like the right time to do such a thing. He was serious, so very serious. And this frightened her. It terrified her. He was being honest, and yet she couldn't do the same. Not yet anyway. Things were usually the opposite with them, but not at the moment. For once, he was open with his feelings while she was hiding behind a mask.
"But why?" Khushi choked out, tears coming to her eyes. "Why now?"
Arnav was satisfied that Khushi hadn't gotten off of him, but the defeated look in her eyes sent a pang through his chest. He couldn't bear to see her like this. "Because once you realize something so monumental as the fact that you LOVE someone, you can't keep it in you. You have to let it out." Arnav grinned slightly. "And you know me Khushi. There's no way that I can keep loving you from the sidelines. When I want something, I get it."
He carefully removed Khushi from his lower half, pleasantly surprised to hear a hiss from her as his hands met her thighs. His groin was about to implode, but he didn't really care. Khushi's eyes seemed less clouded now, as if she was seeing the truth within his words.
Indeed, Khushi was seeing the metaphorical light. He was being sincere with her, there was no ulterior motive here as she had previously feared. Khushi had thought that maybe this was a ploy for Arnav to get into her pants. To make her so riddled with his false words of affection that she surrender herself to him. Now though, she felt ashamed to doubt him.
I'll keep on loving you till the day I die, he had said. She couldn't stop the silly smile that was threatening to burst out from not expressing itself on her face. Her smile could light up a thousand suns. Her eyes met Arnav's caramel orbs, and an unspoken understanding ran through them. His hand smoothed out her hair while her hands played with his shirt.
"So, are we okay?" Arnav asked, running a hand down her spine, inwardly rejoicing when she draped an arm around him and snuggled into his chest. The reply he received was something warm pressing against his chest. Startled, he looked down to see Khushi pressing soft kisses onto him through his clothes.
She was slowly moving upward. From his chest, to his neck, to his face, and finally to his lips. Her mouth sought his in a lazy duel. They kissed languidly, unhurriedly, as if they had all the time in the world. Khushi was once again on top of him, her long, rose scented hair ticking the side of his face. It was a sensual sight to see his wife becoming a seductress.
Arnav wrapped his arms around her, crushing her to his chest. The moan she let out made him throb. God! One woman couldn't be so enticing! His hands molded to every curve of her body, memorizing them, branding them onto his brain. "I really love you." He mumbled, detaching his mouth from hers.
Khushi nodded, her mind still somewhat befuddled from their kiss.
"I'm not going to do anything tonight jaan." The endearment came out like second nature.
She nodded again.
"I promise not to do anything you're not comfortable with."
"But once I have your consent..." His voice lowered to a husky baritone. "There's no stopping me." Arnav placed a kiss on her forehead, shifting so they lay next to each other, his arms around hers.
She didn't doubt his words in the slightest.
Arnav just smiled and reached over her to shut the lights off, finally at peace with himself.
last thing he heard before drifting off to the dreamland was his
wife's voice, soft in his ears, saying the words he had waited a
lifetime to hear. She probably thought he was fast asleep.
"I love you too Arnav."
Shyam Jha was confused. Two days ago, the Mumbai Firm had called him, asking that he help them with some training programs for new lawyers. He had just got back from that city before having to go there once again!
If that wasn't bad enough, Rani-Sahiba hadn't answered any of his calls that he had made, and neither had his brother-in-law's, sister-in-law's, Nani, Mami, or Mama! It was like no one was available..or they were avoiding him. It couldn't possibly be the latter because he was the perfect damad to the Raizada family. They all loved him.
"Shyam-ji?" A woman's voice distracted him from his thoughts. He looked up to see an attractive woman, probably Khushi's age, looking at him attentively. His eyes traveled from where her skirt ended to where he could see a sliver of cleavage before finally resting on her face. The woman's eyes were attentively staring at him. A slow smirk spread on his face. But it vanished when he saw a ring glistening on her finger. Damn. She was married, or at least engaged.
"Ji, Saloni-ji?" He asked in a honey coated tone, a lopsided grin on his face. To his surprise, she blushed magnificently. Hm, maybe this visit would be worth it after all.
"I...I was wondering if you could review this defense argument with me? It is my first case and --"
"Say no more Saloni-ji. I'll show you exactly what to do." He leered at her, watching as her blush deepened. Yes, Mumbai was definitely worth it.
Delhi was another story.
The past two days at Shantivan had been hell. Anjali refused to speak to anyone, including her own husband. Khushi knew she was in denial, but couldn't do much about it since she wasn't a psychologist. The rest of the family had tried as well, but to no luck. If Anjali wouldn't speak to Arnav or Nani, then she wouldn't talk to anyone else.
Arnav had been pulling his hair out, trying to get his sister to say something...anything, even if it was about Shyam. But she didn't do anything. She ate, but only because of the baby growing inside of her. Anjali acted like a zombie.
Atman had now officially shifted over to the Rathod house, and was settled there quite nicely. Khushi visited him a couple times whilst increasing security around her house so that no unwanted soul would try to kill Atman again.
"She'll come out of her funk when she sees that scum with her own two eyes." Atman had said confidently when Khushi had told him what was going on. "And if she doesn't, then I'll personally shake her out of it."
Of course, then Khushi had gone on to tease the poor man about his crush on Anjali mercilessly to which Atman had retorted with a similar comment about her and Arnav which had led to a vicious battle of words that was eventually broken up by an amused Vivek Rathod who wasn't sure whether he should laugh or cry at the sight of two grown adults fighting so childishly.
Sibling spats indeed.
It was three days after Shyam's departure. He would be coming home the next evening, and planning was needed. At the current moment, Arnav, Khushi, Mama, and Akaash were in the living room, making battle plans. Well, Arnav and Khushi were making the plans, Mama and Akaash were listening on with rapt attention.
"Right, so here's what we do." Khushi brandished a piece of paper in front of everyone. "Confronting Shyam will put him on the defensive, making him no better than a cornered animal. I'm more than certain that he will try to talk his way out of it, even with the evidence of that message. Furthermore, I was able to secure his phone records which show four calls made to Candy's number in the last month alone." The disgust on everyone's faces was evident.
"So we attack him head on?" Akaash asked, slightly perplexed. "But isn't that too direct?"
It was Arnav who answered. "Yes, but let's think of it another way. Acting as if we don't know what he's done won't work. Di's behavior, frankly everyone's behavior towards him will make him suspicious. So we go the alternate route, we make him confess everything."
Anmol rested his chin in his hands. "Lekin Khushi bitiyaa, he is a criminal. Won't he try to retaliate...to lash out?"
The grim look on Khushi's face confirmed it. "Mama, of course he will. No one can underestimate him...no one. Akaash, do you remember what we told you yesterday, about how he was trying to kill Di?"
The three of them had decided that it was best to let Akaash know what was really going on. Khushi had explained how she had found the poisonous chemical in Anjali's water, and the revelations after that. She told him why Shyam hated the Raizadas so much. Khushi had finally disclosed why Arnav had exploded in his office as well. She had told father and son about the fake documents that would transfer everything in Shyam's name. The only thing left to be said was the fact that Shyam was a potential terrorist.
When Akaash had found out, everyone had seen an Akaash Singh Raizada who was incredibly similar to his brother. It took two punching bags for him to get it all out.
"Yes." He muttered darkly.
"Good. Don't put anything past him. I don't think he carries any weapons on him, but we must keep him away from Di. What I can do is post some of my guys around the house tomorrow night to make sure nothing goes terribly wrong. Remember, what we want is not for him to go into a murderous rage, but for him to leave the house while revealing the evil he has done. After that, everything will fall into place and we can finally put that man where he belongs."
"In a morgue!" Akaash piped in, a morbid smile on his face.
Khushi grimaced. "That's what Arnav wants too."
"It's what he deserves." Her husband growled.
"Now what?" Mama asked, leaning back in his chair.
Khushi sighed a deep sigh before straightening her shoulders and looking each of the men in the eye, fire burning within her hazel orbs. An invisible wind blew back the hair that framed her face, giving her body a god-like quality. In that moment, she looked like the Devi-Maiyaa to whom she ardently prayed to. A goddess of war.
"Now we wait. Let the games begin."
Shyam whistled a jaunty tune as he walked up the long driveway to Shantivan. Last night certainly had been worth it. He had so much to teach the little lawyer. And she had taken excellent notes as well.
All of a sudden, his long strides faltered. A sense of foreboding enveloped him. Cautiously, he looked at the magnificent mansion as if it had suddenly turned black and empty. Alas no, it was still the same house he had lived in for four years. A scowl appeared on his face. Four years.
Had it really been that long since he had married Anjali? Four years since he had forced himself to bed her? Four years since he had begun to eat away at her health? And yet, despite his best efforts, she still managed to get pregnant!
But hopefully, his little plan for her to die would work, and he wouldn't have to deal with a wife, child, or anything else. Arnav had already signed those documents, Atman was most likely dying, and Khushi couldn't come after him. He was safe from the law, and filthy rich.
Plus, the deal with Iran would put him on an international spectrum, and possibly propel him to be in contact with people in America, England, France, and so on. It wasn't that he was a terrorist, no, far from it in fact. It was just that he knew where the money was, and arms trade was the way to go. It just so happened that his first deal happened to be with Iranian extremists.
Shyam ground his teeth in frustration when his key wouldn't fit in the doorknob. It had worked last week. Had Arnav changed the locks recently? If so, then why hadn't anyone told him? Why hadn't he spoken to anyone over the past few days?
He raised his hand to knock on the door. Honestly, he had to knock to get into his own house? How disgraceful.
But before his hand even reached the door, it opened.
His eyebrows rose past his hairline as he took in the hard faces of all of the Raizadas except for Anjali. What was going on? "A..aap sab? Yahan?" Shyam plastered a fake smile on his face, trying to look pleased.
If anything, every Raizada present glared at him with even more anger. His breath hitched. No! It couldn't be true! They couldn't have found out about anything! It wasn't possible.
Slowly, he stepped into the house, trying to decipher what was going on.
Arnav came to stand in front of him, a vindictive look on his face. "Hello jijaji." The last word was a sneer.
Shyam narrowed his eyes at the group. This was like the Spanish Inquisition! "Is everything alright?"
He heard Khushi scoff, and anger welled within him. That bi*** had no right to make such a derisive sound. Who did she think she was?
"I don't know jiju. Why don't you tell us?" Her tone was mocking and cold, something he hadn't heard before.
For the first time, Shyam felt fear. Khushi could destroy him even though Arnav was out of the picture. Was it possible that she was the reason behind the family's behavior? If so, how could he make the family turn against her?
"What's there to tell?" Shyam tried to appear nonchalant. "Mumbai was fine, the plane ride was fine, all in all, everything was just fine."
Akaash came to stand by Khushi, his eyes ablaze with anger.
"So jiju, tell me this. Is a woman named Candy just fine as well? Because she sounded rather...needy the other day."
And that's when Shyam Manohar Jha cursed himself for disregarding the signs of his impending doom.
He forgot one very important thing: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.
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