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Meher got out of the elevator on the 3rd floor and rushed to the nurse's station. "Excuse me, what room are Prem and Heer Juneja in?" But before the nurse had a chance to search or say anything Preet came walking up. "Meher..." She turned and was relieved to see someone she knew. "The text just said to come to the third floor. What happened? Are they all right? I got out of the business dinner as soon as I could."
Preet gave her a tight hug and simply stated, "Its good seeing you."
"Preet what happened?" Meher inquired. He remained silent and continued to hold her. "Why won't you tell me anything? It's bad isn't it? She was getting worried by his behavior. This wasn't like him at all. He was acting so strangely. They had just seen each other earlier this afternoon when they had lunch together and now he was holding onto her for dear life. Meher broke the hug and looked him in his eyes, "Tell me."
"Meher, good you're here," Nihaal said as he approached them.
"Please tell me something," she pleaded. "I can't take this silence."
"Come." Meher followed Nihaal and Preet down the corridor on the left. They soon stopped in front of room 3015. When they entered Meher saw Prem laying in the hospital bed. His left wrist was wrapped and he had a bandage on his right temple. His face was marked with various cuts and bruises.
"Oh God..." Meher gasped as she put her hands to her mouth.
"It looks a lot worse than it is," Nihaal informed. "He's really lucky...the paramedics told me that...the car apparently was in really bad shape."
"Is he in a coma?"
"No, it's the meds," Nihaal replied. "Knocks you out."
"Where are Aunty and Uncle?"
"They don't know," Preet answered.
"What do you mean they don't know? Prem and Heer were going to Lalit Uncle's award function."
"I was in charge of their cell phones for the night. I didn't tell them when I got the call," Preet stated. "Heer Bhabhi had called earlier in the evening to tell us there was an accident on the road and they were going to be late. Gayatri Aunty told them not to rush. We just assumed that the accident was really bad and they were still stuck in traffic. By the time someone called us the award function had started. I didn't want to alarm them. So I just made up an excuse that my boss had called," Preet stated.
"So you left them there at the function? You didn't tell them?" Meher replied in shock. "You should have told them Preet. This is their son and daughter-in-law...and oh god, their future grandchild."
"I wanted to tell them at the time but the function had started and they were playing video introductions of the nominees for the big award at the end of the night. They were playing Lalit Uncle's video. I couldn't tell him then. And it wouldn't look right for him to leave in the middle of the ceremony. I did what I thought best."
"Still should have told them Preet."
"What's done...has been done," Nihaal stated. "The award function should be coming to a close soon. Someone will have to inform them."
"I sent my friend Harman to go pick them up. He'll bring them here to the hospital," Preet replied.
"They are going to be so angry," Meher sighed. "Where is Balraaj Uncle and Teji Aunty, please tell me they are here."
"They are here," Nihaal replied. "They are with---"
"Heer..." Everyone turned their attention back to the hospital bed and saw Prem looking groggily around the room. "Heer..." he gasped.
"Bhaiya," Prem said rushing towards his side.
"You've been in a car accident Prem," Nihaal informed.
"Where's Heer?" he asked again looking at the people standing around his bed with disinterest. He glanced downward and saw his left arm tightly wrapped while an IV tube was attached to his right. He frowned and yanked the needle out of his arm making everyone in the room alarmed.
"You need to rest Bhaiya," Preet pleaded as he tried to place his hand on his shoulder preventing him from getting up.
Prem didn't listen and flipped the covers open. He winched in pain and touched his forehead feeling his bandage. "You've bruised your ribs and you received a concussion," Nihaal explained. "You need to rest."
"Why won't you tell me where Heer is, d*mn it!" Prem angrily shouted. He got up and wobbled a bit causing Nihaal and Preet to rush towards him to hold him up. Prem pushed them out of his way and began walking out of his room. They were surprise by the amount of force he was able to display despite being injured.
"Prem..." Nihaal called, "Come back to your room."
"No one is telling me anything," Prem grumbled. "Heer? Heer?"
One of the nurses who was doing her rounds rushed over with great concern at his behavior, "Mr. Juneja, you need to go back to your room. You've been in an accident."
"I know that! I want to know where my wife is. Where is Heer Juneja?" Prem replied. "None of you people are telling me where my wife is. I want to know where she is!"
"I am not going back to my room until I find my wife. So you either take me to her or I'm just going to have to find her myself. Heer! Heer!" Prem was walking at a fast pace down the hallway calling for his wife making a ruckus in the entire ward. Several other patients' family members peered out of their rooms to investigate what was going on. Prem eventually ran into his father-in-law who had gone to get some coffee in the break room. "Tell me you know where Heer is," he asked as he held onto him. "Please, I need to see her. Is she all right?"
Balraaj saw the group of people who had been following his son-in-law and motioned with his hand for them to relax. "Come," he simply stated and made a right turn at the junction of the hallway. Prem eyes stared at the sign hanging above the double doors they were walking towards. It said ICU. His chest tightened and he swallowed hard as they pushed the doors open to the ICU ward. They eventually stopped at room 3324. When they entered his mother-in-law stood up from where she was seated with a look of utter surprise. She couldn't believe he was walking about in his current state.
"Prem..." she gasped.
He walked forward his eyes never leaving the hospital bed and felt his heart shatter. Heer had an oxygen mask on and she had an IV running in her left arm. Her right leg was in a cast raised upward while her right arm also in a cast laid by her side. Prem uneasily walked forward and uttered, "Heer," before he passed out. Luckily Balraaj, Nihaal, and Preet were there to catch him before he hit the floor.
"Nurse!" Preet called out in great distress.
A few seconds later they were wheeling him back to his room. "It figures he would do something like this," Balraaj sighed. "We have to make sure he takes care of himself. He needs to recover properly for Heer's sake. Her breathing has been a bit weak that is why she has the oxygen mask on to make sure she gets enough oxygen. The doctor's said they will monitor her for a day before they release her to one of the normal wards."
"Has she come to yet?" Nihaal inquired with concern.
"Yes, for a few minutes. She was very disoriented. The doctor had just administered some pain medication and it knocked her out again," Balraaj explained. "Lalit and Gayatri should be here soon...shouldn't they? The award function must have ended. They should know what is going on."
"I just received a text from Harman. He just got there at the function to pick them up," Preet stated.
"Good," Balraaj replied. "The next few days are going to be trying..."
Preet slowly walked down the hospital corridor holding a tray of coffee and a bag of donuts. Meher was walking at his side holding another tray of coffee. They had gone out and gotten some fresh hot coffee and donuts for everyone to share. Things were still tense as Prem had not woken up since his fainting spell and Heer was still in the ICU resting.
"Preet, everything is going to be all right," Meher simply stated. He looked at her with sorrowful eyes. "Things are going to be okay."
"How do you know? You saw Bhabhi...she's wearing that oxygen mask...and Bhaiya...he fainted...he's very weak."
"Because I have faith," Meher replied. "And you should too. These wounds they have are just physical. Time will heal them."
"And the emotional ones?" Preet inquired.
Meher's eyes flexed understanding what he was alluding to and took a breath to ponder how to answer his question. "They love each other and they won't give up on each other. We have to have faith. We are their family and we have to give them our strength to pass this test."
Preet gave an understanding half grin. "You're very positive Meher. Heer's really blessed to have you in her life as a friend and I'm very blessed to have you in my life as my girlfriend."
Meher just smiled. She then looked down at the tray in her hands, "I'm going to give this coffee to Nihaal and them. I'll be back later. She gave him a warm look before she took a right and entered the ICU.
Preet continued his way to his cousin's room and was met at the doorway by Lalit. "I got some coffee," he announced giving a timid look before he casted his eyes downward. He had felt extremely guilty for not telling his aunt and uncle what had happened to their son sooner. When Harman had brought them in they looked visibly upset that they hadn't been informed earlier.
"Thank you," Lalit replied.
"I got some donuts too. I know you and Aunty like the custard filled kind. I got two."
"Preet," Lalit said with a sigh and placed his hand on his shoulder so he would stop fidgeting with the donut bag. "You did what you thought was the best."
"I'm sorry Uncle," he replied. "You and Aunty had the right to know earlier."
"I know Prem would have been upset if I had missed my award function especially since I won," Lalit stated. The golden statue was sitting on the window sill next to Prem's hospital bed.
"Where is Bhaiya?" Preet inquired.
"He just woke up a few minutes ago. He was fussing again to see his wife, but your aunt wouldn't allow him out of his room until he had eaten something. He's in the washroom. Your aunt went to go get him a wheelchair and Harman had to attend to a call. We don't need him fainting again."
"Has anyone told him yet?" Preet softly whispered.
Lalit shook his head, "No." His eyes gently welled, "That's why it is so important for him to rest and recover properly. Heer will need his support."
Preet turned to his right when he heard something wheeling towards them. "Aunty," Preet somberly greeted. "I got some coffee and donuts."
"Thank you Beta," Gayatri replied.
"You and Uncle both look extremely tired. I know it's been a long day. Maybe you should go home and rest. Meher, Nihaal, and I can stay," Preet suggested. "We can keep a watch on them. I promise I will call you right away if anything happens. I swear."
Gayatri looked at her husband and said, "I think it may be best to have the kids stay here. Balraaj and Teji must be tired as well. We can go home and rest and come back in the morning."
"I suppose you're right," he replied.
"But before we go I want to see Heer again."
"Yes, we should do that," Lalit nodded.
"I'll push Bhaiya," Preet offered and took the wheelchair from his aunt's hands.
Prem sat in the wheelchair with a displeased expression etched on his face. "Prem Bhaiya, why is your face so sour looking?"
"I can walk," he replied. "And why am I holding the bag of donuts?"
"We don't want you to over exert yourself and faint again," his mother calmly informed.
"Ma, I'm fine," Prem replied. He looked into the brown bag sitting in his lap and started to inspect the donuts.
"The chocolate icing one is for Heer Bhabhi," Preet informed.
"That's her favorite," Prem softly said. "Has she woken up? What about the baby? Is the baby all right?" placing his hand on his forehead in disappointment, "I can't believe I didn't ask about the baby sooner." So engrossed in his failure as a future parent to ask about his own child, he didn't notice the silence coming from his family members and the uneasy glances they were passing between each other. "So?" Preet slowed the wheelchair to a halt making Prem look towards his parents wondering what was going on.
Gayatri took her son's hands into hers and gave a motherly expression of concern, "Prem Beta...Heer suffered a lot of trauma..." pausing briefly trying to maintain her emotions, "the baby..."
"Ma..." Prem uttered with apprehension.
"I'm sorry," Gayatri simply ended as tears welled up in her eyes.
Prem's jaw slackened and his eyes went suddenly dull. "No...the baby..." He turned to his father who could do nothing but hold his wife and comfort her. His eyes had turned teary as well. Prem looked to his cousin hoping this news was some sort of cruel joke but even he couldn't contain his emotions. "We lost the baby?"
"Haan Bhaiya. Bhabhi had a miscarriage," Preet confirmed.
Prem wiped the tears rolling from his eyes and ordered in a quivering voice, "I-I need to see Heer. Take me to her please."
Preet nodded and pushed the wheelchair forward again. It didn't take them long to enter the ICU ward where they were met by Nihaal, Meher, Teji, and Balraaj. Prem looked at his in-laws and simply stated, "I know." Teji burst into tears causing Balraaj to quickly comfort her. He held her in his arms and sniffled unable to say anything to his son-in-law. "Can I have a few minutes with her?" Balraaj just nodded knowing it was important for Prem to spend some time alone with his daughter. Preet rolled him into the room and then walked out closing the door behind him.
Prem placed the donut bag that had been sitting in his lap onto the side table and then turned his attention to his wife who was still sleeping. Everything was the same as before when he had first seen her laying in her hospital bed. His eyes couldn't get over the oxygen mask covering her nose and mouth. Prem tenderly lifted her left hand and held it. He felt his tears welling and he closed his eyelids letting them stream down his cheeks. He then gently kissed her hand murmuring, "I'm sorry Heer. I'm so sorry. It's my fault. It's all my fault." He cried softly for a few minutes before he lifted his head and wiped away his tears. He then leaned closer gingerly caressing her hair and whispered, "I need you. I need you in my life. I can't live without you. Please don't leave me. Please." He rested his lips against her ear and continued, "I love you. You're my life Heer. Please...please...Heer..." Prem lifted his head when he felt some movement and sniffled back his tears. He saw his wife's eyes slowly open and look about her with confusion.
"We've been in a car accident," Prem softly spoke. Heer winced in pain when she moved her arms up to figure out what was covering her mouth. "It's an oxygen mask. You want it off?" Heer gripped the plastic mouth piece with her left hand trying to pull it off. "It's suppose to help you breathe better."
Prem couldn't watch Heer struggling so he helped her remove the mask. She took a couple of breaths and then looked at him. She reached out with her good hand and placed her hand on his cheek, "Prem..." He placed his hand on her hand and then kissed her palm in a loving manner. Heer could see the emotional turmoil in his eyes making her extremely concern. "Wh-what happened?"
"You have a broken leg and arm. I-I don't know what else. I came to a few minutes ago. They told me I have some bruised ribs and I suffered a concussion," Prem answered. "How are you feeling? Are you in any pain right now? Are you hungry? I should probably go get the doctor." He quickly stood up from the wheelchair and turned to leave the room. Heer gasped as Prem tripped over the metal stirrups of the wheelchair and almost fell forward.
"Be careful Prem!"
"I'm all right," he stated as he hobbled a bit. "I'll be back."
The parents and the in-laws huddled in Heer's room with Prem while the doctor checked over her vitals. He gave an encouraging smile. "Everything seems to be in order. I would still like to keep you here in the ICU ward over night. Keep the oxygen mask on while you sleep. Tomorrow morning I'll stop by and do another check. By then I should have some of the lab tests and x-rays back. If things look good I'll move you into the room with your husband," glancing at Prem, "He's very persistent...demanded to know where you were the minute he came to. Created quite the commotion from what I heard from the nursing staff." Prem sheepishly rubbed the back of his head. "You're very fortunate to have someone who cares for you that much," the doctor continued.
Heer gave a tiny smile at Prem who glanced embarrassedly downward. She then shifted her attention back to the doctor. "The baby is fine?" placing her good hand on her stomach. "The medicines I'm taking won't hurt the baby will it?"
Everyone in the room became silent. The doctor let out an uneasy breath. "There were some complications. The trauma you received..."
"No," Heer suddenly blurted shaking her head. "No, my baby can't be...she can't be. You're lying to me..."
"I'm sorry Mrs. Juneja---" He was caught off guard when he received a tight slap to the face. He stood there monetarily stunned that she had enough strength to sit upright and reach out and slap him.
Prem rushed to his wife's side and held her hand. "Heer..."
"Prem, he's telling us my baby is gone! That's not right. Tell him to check again. He's wrong. I didn't lose my baby!" she cried. "No, this is wrong...this is wrong..."
Teji and Gayatri sobbed seeing her in such a hysterical state. Balraaj and Lalit gave apologetic looks to the doctor. "I'm sorry Dr. Carter...my daughter," Balraaj uttered.
"It's okay," he replied trying to show him that the slap hadn't been painful. "It's quite all right. News like this can be hard to comprehend at first. Let me get the nurse to administer something to calm her nerves."
"Thank you," the two fathers nodded with appreciation.
Prem cradled his wife to his chest and held her close trying to sooth her. "Everything is going to be all right," he whispered through silent tears. He kissed her forehead trying to dissuade the fear she had in her voice.
"Our baby is still with us...the baby is still here...it didn't go...it didn't go..." Heer repeated as she clutched onto Prem's shirt crying.
Meher pulled her car into the Juneja driveway. It had been several weeks since Prem and Heer's discharge from the hospital. There was always some family member over at the house making sure things were all right for the couple. Because of their injuries they had shifted their bedroom to the downstairs guest room so they did not have to battle the stairs while they continued to recover. Meher exited the car and popped the trunk to take some groceries she had bought for them. She looked down at her left hand and saw the diamond engagement ring that Preet had bought her. It was a proposal that had taken her by complete surprise as she knew how he had felt about marriage. Nevertheless she was happy it finally happened. It was one bright piece of news during these trying times. Meher rang the door bell and waited patiently for someone to open the door. "Hey," Prem greeted with a pleasant smile.
"I got you guys some things," Meher replied and entered the house. She followed Prem into the kitchen and began unloading some of the groceries.
"Put those things down. I'll do it Meher," Prem instructed. "You've already done a lot."
"Nonsense," Meher answered as she placed some fruit into the refrigerator.
Spying the diamond engagement ring on her finger Prem grinned, "Congratulations again on the engagement. He got you a nice rock there."
"You didn't think it was going to happen did you? Quite honestly neither did I," Meher stated. "But I guess something changed."
"Yeah, he finally realized life is too short," Prem sighed.
Meher stopped placing the pasta boxes into the cupboard and gently asked, "How are things going?" She noticed the way Prem's shoulders were slouched and his inability to look her in the eye. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you."
"No, it's fine Meher. What is there to say? My parents and in-laws won't allow me to say anything to Heer. Even when I get a moment alone with her somehow Ma or Mom will interrupt...either by coming into the room or calling us on the phone. I know this subject has been very sensitive. I don't think anyone can forget how hysterical she had become when she first found out. They don't want to upset her again. But it's been two months...I just want my wife back...I want Heer back the way she was...and I know that is something impossible. I can only imagine what the loss has made her feel like...it was a part of her for three months. But she's not alone in this...we lost this together. I never should have taken that short cut that day...if I didn't then none of this would have happened...she'd be 11 weeks pregnant today..."
"Prem, you can't blame yourself in this," Meher consoled. "No one knew that truck was going to run that red light." She could see the guilt in his eyes and shook her head, "She still loves you Prem. She needs you."
"She can barely look me in the eyes Meher," Prem replied. He rubbed his hand across his eyes trying to maintain some composure. "I feel like I'm losing her day by day. She hardly talks to me. I just..." Prem stopped short of completing his sentence when they heard his mother-in-law enter the kitchen. He quickly wiped way his tears and returned his attention to putting away the groceries.
"Hi Aunty. I just brought over some groceries," she politely smiled.
"Thank you. That was really kind of you," Teji replied. "Congratulations on your engagement."
"Thank you Aunty. Um, where is Heer?"
"She's out back...on the patio," Teji stated pointing towards the direction of the patio.
Meher nodded and walked to the living room where patio doors where. She took a deep breath before opening the French doors to greet her best friend. "Hi Heer!" She was sitting in her wheelchair enjoying the scenery of the backyard. She turned and gave a half smile in greeting. "I brought some groceries."
"You didn't have to do that Meher," Heer replied. Her hand continued to stroke Ginger's head as it rested on her lap. The golden retriever had stuck to her side every since she had come home from the hospital. It was if she knew she was ill and needed her support and affection.
"I happened to be in there getting some things for myself so I picked up a few things. I know it's been a bit tough for you guys to go out. I heard Prem had to come home early from work because of his pain."
"He wasn't resting properly like he should have," Heer sighed. "Past couple of nights he's been up late working. The doctor warned him not to do that. But he just doesn't listen. Ma and Bauji have told him to pace himself. "
"Have you tried talking to him?"
"He's been so exhausted lately he just falls asleep once his head hits the pillow," Heer stated. "And you know how he is. He's stubborn...won't listen to anyone," mumbling softly to herself, "we don't talk much nowadays..."
"So how much longer before you can walk around in your cast?" Meher inquired trying to change the subject. She wanted to keep her spirits up.
"I'm not sure. Whenever the doctor tells me I can. I have an appointment next week so we will see. Will you be staying for dinner? It would be nice to have someone else's company instead of my parents or in-laws. Stay?" Meher couldn't refuse her friend's request and nodded her head. She could see she needed someone to talk to keep her mind off of things. It was disheartening to see her in such a state that she wasn't even speaking with her husband thinking he was too exhausted to talk to her or didn't even care. It was in fact the very opposite.
Meher rinsed the dishes and placed them into the dishwasher. "Place them here," she instructed when she saw Prem carrying another set of plates towards the sink. "I'll take care of these. Why don't you sit down and relax with Heer?"
"That's right. Take her to the living room. I'll clean the table," Teji stated.
"Mom, you've been up and about all day. Sit down," Prem stated taking the cleaning towel from her hands. "Please sit." Teji nodded as she let out a hard breath.
Meher watched as Teji rolled Heer out of the kitchen area to the living room. She then motioned with her eyes to Prem that she wanted to speak to him about something. He walked over curious as to why she was acting so secretively. "How long does Aunty stay here?"
"She generally helps Heer take a sponge bath and then leaves. Why?"
"I'll tell Teji Aunty that I'll help Heer. That way she can go home and get some proper rest," Meher explained.
"You've done a lot today Meher," Prem stated. Meher simply smiled and shook her head ignoring his request.
Thirty minutes later Prem was standing by the front door waving goodbye to his mother-in-law. He glanced over at Meher who was grinning brightly. He crinkled his eyebrows knowing something was up; she was planning something. Meher ignored his glances and wheeled Heer into the bedroom. Prem sighed and sat down at the couch ready to watch some mindless TV. He turned in surprise when he heard Meher speaking to him. "Okay, goodnight."
"Goodnight?" Prem repeated. "You guys are finished already?"
"She's waiting for you."
"Waiting for me?" Prem inquired.
"Yes, waiting for you. Just tell her I got a call from the boss and I have to check over a project," Meher advised as she put her purse on her shoulder. "Why are you looking at me like that? She's your wife not some stranger. I trust you can give her a sponge bath without any problems."
"But earlier..." Prem uttered in confusion.
"You said you guys don't get the chance to talk. Well, here is your chance. No one is here...you have your privacy. I'll see my way out," Meher stated and waved goodbye.
Prem stood there for a few seconds still trying to comprehend what had just happened. He then smiled and walked to the front door. "Thanks Meher."
"I just want you guys to sort this out," putting on her shoes.
"I think Preet's crazy scheming abilities have rubbed off on you," Prem chuckled.
"I think he would be proud of what I did tonight," Meher replied.
"Yeah, I think so too. When does he come back from that business trip?"
"Friday," Meher smiled.
"We should have dinner together on Sunday then," Prem suggested.
"I think that is an excellent idea," Meher replied and gave him a friendly hug. "Goodnight. Best of luck."
"Thanks," Prem grinned and then closed the door. He took a deep breath and walked to the bedroom. His hands gently shook as he gripped the door knob and turned it open. He was greeted with surprised eyes. "She had a call to attend to...business matters...she didn't know how long she would be. So..." Heer nodded her head but remained silent. "I'll go get your pajamas."
Heer watched her husband go to their dresser and pull out some clothes. He carried them into the bathroom. She sat there alone in the room for a few minutes hearing him arranging things in the shower. When he came back her eyes flexed at seeing him in black swim trunks and a white tank. He walked behind and wheeled her towards the bathroom. "Prem, we have to wrap my casts. They can't get wet. The saran wrap and trash bags are underneath the sink."
"You don't need them anymore," he replied as he parked the chair by the doorway. He then walked towards the side of the dresser where a bag was sitting. "I forgot to mention this to Mom about this," sighing, "I can't believe I forgot. Um, these are called Xerosox. They are vacuum sealed cast covers," taking the packages out of the bag, "I spoke to the medical supply store in the hospital and made a special order." Prem quickly glanced over the instructions and then proceeded to place one over Heer's right leg and her right arm. He used the pumping bulb that came with the product to pump out the air sealing the blue waterproof material around her casts. "How does it feel? Does it hurt?"
"No, it's fine."
"It looks pretty good. Hopefully I did this right. We'll see in a few minutes," Prem stated. He helped her stand up and then swept her up into his arms.
"Prem, you're not suppose to exert yourself," Heer gasped. "I can walk the few steps."
"The doctor hasn't given the okay for you to walk yet. Have you been walking all this time?"
"No, they generally wheel the chair into the bathroom and help me sit on the bath stool in the shower. They wheel the chair out and then help me with my bath," Heer explained.
Prem remained thoughtfully mute making her look at him. Her eyes gently studied his strong profile and the way his brown eyes were concentrating on carefully carrying her to the bath stool. Even after being seated she continued to watch him as he helped her strip her clothes off for her bath. The care and concern in his eyes was evident and it made her heart hurt wondering why they hadn't been speaking to one another. Her eyes suddenly lowered as a thought entered her mind making her chest tightened in an uncomfortable manner. The turmoil in her mind was soon interrupted when she felt the pressure of the shower raining down on her. She immediately closed her eyes enjoying the feel of hot water stream over her body wetting her hair and skin. It felt so good after two months of sponge baths. She came to dread bath time because of all the work involved in wrapping her casts. And even after taking the baths she still somehow felt unclean.
Prem smiled watching her relish the feeling of taking an actual shower after so many days. He stood there for a few minutes letting her enjoy the feeling before he reached up and took the hand held shower head down. He handed it to her to hold as he didn't want her to get cold waiting for him to wash her hair. Heer felt his fingers gently messaging her scalp taking great care in washing her hair. "I need the shower head." Heer handed it back to him and closed her eyes as she felt the suds wash away from her head. A few seconds later she felt warm water spraying down her back. Prem tucked the shower head between his arm pit so water would continue to warm her back while he grabbed her bath sponge. He squirted some liquid soap onto the sponge and lathered it up. He then knelt down and started to wash her back. His eyes caressed over her supple skin recalling vivid memories of passionate times when lips gave endless kisses and hands lovingly massaged. His hand shakily reached out to touch but it stopped short as his mind warned him that they needed to talk first. This was not the time to indulge in carnal pleasures. But a part of him wanted to let her know he still loved her, he still needed her, and he still cared for her. He would be satisfied if he could just hold her again. He carefully swept her hair to the side of her shoulder so he could finish washing the back of her neck.
Heer's eyes flexed feeling her husband's fingers delicately trace against her skin as he moved her hair to the side. Her heart was beating so frenetically that she held the thin wash cloth in her hands against her chest trying to remain calm. It had been so long since she felt his warm touch. "Are you cold?" He had seen her clutch her wash cloth and thought she wasn't getting enough warm water.
"No, I'm fine," Heer replied. She reached out with her good hand to take the bath sponge from his hand so she could finish washing herself. Prem stood by with the hand held shower head in his hand. He waited patiently for her to tell him that she was ready to receive the water. "Can I have some water?" Prem let his fingers slip from the handle as her hand reached out to take the shower head. Heer let out a yelp as the metal object missed her hand and fell downward onto her knee. It bounced off and then banged into the side of her good leg before it clanged against the bath stool and hung a few inches from the marble shower floor.
Prem immediately went down on his knees and hugged her leg trying to sooth her pain. "Mujhe maaf kar do Heer...mujhe maaf kar do..."
"It's okay Prem. I'm fine. I'll live..." Heer said. She looked down to see her husband still holding onto her leg and knew something wasn't quite right. "Prem?" she called as she placed her hand on his wet hair. The shower head was still on and it was spraying water directly onto him wetting him completely through and through. "Prem..."
He lifted his head up and gazed back at her with guilty eyes. Heer cupped his cheek and gave him a forgiving look. As her thumb caressed his skin she felt something warm and it made her eyes widen. He was crying. "Prem?" What happened next completely stunned her. Prem lifted her hand up and began using it to slap himself. "Stop it Prem...what are you doing?! It's okay..."
"Mujhe maaf kar do. It's my fault...I'm sorry..." he repeated hanging his head low, "It's my fault..."
Realizing the shower head was not the cause of the outburst but something else, Heer shook her head, "No..." cupping his face, "No...it's not your fault. Ma had told me to stay at home if I wasn't feeling well that night. But I knew how important the function was that night. I couldn't miss it."
"If I hadn't been rushing...taken that short cut none of this would have happened," Prem replied. "I am responsible for losing our child."
"No Prem," Heer sternly said shaking her head.
"I hurt you so much. I know how much you wanted one...and I took that away---"
"No..." Heer sharply stated. "It just happened...and it's not your fault...it's not anyone's fault."
"You lie in bed at night crying. I can hear you," Prem replied. "It hurts me too."
Heer pulled her husband towards her and hugged him. The haziness that had invaded her mind for the past few weeks lifted. While she had been mourning her lost she had unknowingly shut herself off to her husband. He was in just as much pain as she was over the lost of their child. "I'm sorry Prem," Heer stated wiping his tears. "I didn't know what to say. I know this may sound stupid but I thought you would be angry at me for losing our baby. You weren't talking to me."
"No...never," Prem firmly replied. "I felt so guilty for what happened."
"I love you Prem," Heer said looking him in the eyes. "I love you and I always will. Never doubt that."
"Ma and Bauji and your parents didn't want me to talk to you about this. After what had happened at the hospital they were afraid...if I made you feel lonely...I'm sorry." He gingerly caressed her cheek and then used the pads of his thumbs to wipe away her tears.
"I was in my own world...and I neglected you and your feelings...I'm sorry Prem," Heer replied. He shook his head and touched his forehead to hers. The held onto each other for some time before Prem suddenly sneezed. His eyebrows crinkled when heard a small giggle coming from his wife. "You're completely soaked. Why did you even bother wearing the tank?"
"I didn't think I was going to be this wet," Prem replied with a sniffle. He grabbed the shower hose and sprayed downward onto his wife. "You need to finish your shower."
"I think all the soap got onto your clothes," Heer chortled. "Take them off." Prem arched his eyebrows at her comment. "You're already wet might as well take a shower. Let me finish up and then you can take your shower. " Prem handed the shower head to his wife and then removed his wet clothes.
When Heer was finished cleaning herself she stretched her arm out to hand back the shower head. Prem took it but then knelt down and placed a kiss on her left knee. "Does it still hurt?" Heer shook her head. She gave a bright smile as he leaned inward to seal his lips with hers. Her hands naturally curled around his neck pulling him closer. Their mouths warmly collided and adjusted in greeting after being apart from each other for so long. Heer breathed deeply and placed her hand against his chest. "We should probably talk to the doctor about when it will be okay for us to try again..." Prem nodded understanding her concerns. He didn't want them having intimate relations too early if her body still needed time to heal from the miscarriage. He placed a tender kiss on her forehead and then stood up.
"So you'll help me wash my back?"
Heer playfully slapped his butt and replied, "Yes."
A tiny grin formed along pink lips as hazel eyes watched attentively at the sleeping figure cradled against her chest. She lazily ran her fingers through his silky hair enjoying the sensation she felt each time she made a pass. Much to her and Prem's relief the doctor had told them that they were safe to try and conceive should they choose to. She had already had one cycle of her period. They decided since she was still recovering from her broken arm and leg now would not be the ideal time to have a baby. They would wait until she was out of the casts before they would attempt to try. But that didn't mean they would be giving up on having relations with each other. They would just have to start using protection and stop when the time was right. Their relationship was in a better place than it had been the first two months after the accident. They discussed their fears and worries with each other making their bond even stronger that it was before. Their lost had brought them closer together.
Heer's smile widened when saw her husband sleepily lift his head up. "Hey," she gently greeted.
Prem returned a smile of his own and leaned closer to give her a few sweet kisses. He then sighed happily snuggling his head into the crook of her neck. "Am I getting too heavy for you? Need to kick me off of you?"
"I'm all right," Heer replied rubbing her hand along his back. "How's your head? Feeling okay?"
"Yea," chuckling, "Probably a little bump but I'll live."
"I'm sorry," Heer said with a sympathizing pout and gave him a loving kiss. "I can't wait to get these things off of me. It's tough to sleep in...and I can't cuddle with you..."
"And when we make love they can become dangerous weapons..." Prem teased. Heer blushed and pushed him with her hand that had the cast on. "Hey...aaaouw...that hurt...that cast is rough."
Heer gasped and quickly apologized, "Oh jaanu I'm sooo sorry..."
Prem couldn't contain his laughter and broke out into wide chuckles. He saw her face sour and changed his tone knowing he needed to pacify her. "Sweatheart," caressing her cheek, "I can take it...come here and give me some more loving." Heer resisted at first turning her head away from him but eventually she caved. Her nose delicately touched his as her eyes gazed into his soulful brown ones. Tingling sensations spread throughout her body when she felt his breath against her lips. Her chest rose when their mouths collided into perfect harmony. They let out a moan of disappointment when they heard the house phone ring. Prem rolled over to the other side of the bed and picked up the phone. "Hello?"
"Hey Meher and I are in the neighborhood. Mind if we stop by? We'll buy ice cream."
"Oh Preet...you guys are nearby?" Prem asked while he glanced over at Heer to gauge her expression. "Buying ice cream?"
"Yeah, that is what I said. You hard of hearing now?"
"Tell Preet I want a gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough," Heer ordered.
"Fine you can come but you have to bring a gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough," Prem relayed.
"That's what Heer wants. I want a pint of coffee ice cream," Prem replied.
"Coffee ice cream too? Hey, I'm already getting a gallon."
"That's right...that is what your Bhabhi wants. And your Bhaiya wants a pint of coffee ice cream," Prem stated.
"Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed?"
"You're the one that offered to bring ice cream," Prem explained.
"Yes, a scoop or two from Baskin Robbins," Preet replied.
"You woke us up from our nap."
"So you did wake up on the wrong side of the bed," Preet exclaimed, "Okay, fine...Meher is giving me dirty looks thanks to you."
"I didn't do anything," Prem innocently replied.
"We will be there shortly."
Prem smirked as he hung up the phone. "They are coming with our ice cream." He got off the bed and went to help his wife. He handed her the crutch and slowly walked out of the bedroom with her. His ears perked when he heard giggles and he turned to look at Heer.
"You're hair," she informed as she stopped walking and leaned the crutch against him. She was trying to mash down the flap of hair sticking straight up on the side of his head with her good hand.
"I had a good nap," Prem replied. "Cuddling was a bit of a challenge...bump on the head. And," pouting slightly, "wake up make out was interrupted..."
Heer placed her hand on his cheek and whispered softly, "I'll make it up to you later tonight." Prem's eyes flexed with surprise glee causing her to giggle. She gave him a tender kiss making him hum with delight.
"Should we share our pound cake?" Prem inquired after the kiss broke.
"Afraid Preet will devour the whole thing?" Heer teased. "I don't see why not. You won't have to worry about your weight," gently patting him on the stomach, "if he helps you eat some."
"Have I become fat?" Prem asked with a worried look.
Heer shook her head, "You're my teddy bear."
"I did put on some weight recently..." Prem mused. "Need to hit the gym."
Soap suds went flying as the shower door was pushed open. Heer ran out with Prem not too far behind her. "Be careful. Don't slip. You finally got your casts off," Prem warned.
Heer quickly wrapped the towel around her body and stood defiantly, "You're the one who was chasing me."
"Sweetheart," Prem cooed as he walked over and wrapped his arms around her waist. Heer let out a giggle as he leaned inward to give her a kiss. She consented and returned the gesture affectionately. Her hands wrapped around his neck and then slithered up into his damp hair.
"You're very eager..." playing with his hair.
"Aren't you excited you don't have to deal with your casts anymore?" Prem inquired.
"You're just happy that I don't have any weapons to hit you with anymore," Heer joked.
"I love you," Prem said against her ear.
"I know." She giggled as she felt him softly nibbled her ear lobe and whisper his desires to her. "Is that so?"
"Haan," Prem replied nodding his head. Heer playfully turned away from him and tried making a run for it. He pouted and grabbed a hold of her towel.
"Let go," Heer protested with a laugh.
"No," walking towards her holding tightly onto the towel. He kissed her shoulder and then trailed kisses up to her cheek. He hummed in pleasure when their lips met again. The flame of desire was hard to ignore as their bodies wanted nothing more than to melt into each other. They stumbled towards the doorway so they could get to the bed and drown themselves underneath the white sheets.
A few hours later Prem grinned as Heer snuggled against his chest as they laid in bed basking in the afterglow. Heer let her fingers move delicately against his bare chest drawing random patterns. She felt his lips press warmly on her head making her grin. "How long do you think it will take this time?" she pondered out loud.
Prem took her hand into his and softly spoke, "Let's not put that pressure on ourselves. It will happen when it will happen. And when it does...I won't let anything happen again to you."
"It wasn't your fault," Heer replied as she lifted her head up to look at him, "How many times do I have to say that?"
"You can't control everything Prem. As much as you like to...you can't...I've learned that...and I've made peace with that," Heer stated.
"Do you ever think about if it hadn't happened?" Prem curiously asked.
"You mean if we would have had a boy or a girl?" Heer replied.
"I guess...what would be the baby's name?"
Heer shook her head as she didn't want them revisiting such a dark memory. "He or she is in heaven and will be protecting his or her baby brother or sister." Prem nodded in understanding and tucked her hair behind her ear. "I love you." He grinned and tenderly gave her a kiss.
Gayatri beamed a happy smile as she moved about the room putting things in place. She turned to see her daughter-in-law folding clothes and placing them into a little duffle bag. There was an unmistakable glow coming from her despite how she was physically feeling. She walked over to see if she could be of any assistance. "Let me do that. Do you want to sit down and rest?"
"Ma, I know this may sound horrible, but I can't sit anymore...that's all I have been doing...I'm not allowed to do anything. Prem runs behind me all day telling me to go sit down...he'll go and cook...he'll go and get me a glass of water...I'm really sick and tired..." looked down at her protruding stomach, "I want...no...I need the baby to come out." Heer's eyebrows arched when she heard laughter from her mother-in-law. "Ma?"
"Oh Dear," Gayatri replied as she placed her hand on her cheek in a loving manner, "I understand completely. It gets a bit tiresome towards the end. But the baby is due sometime this week."
"Sometimes I feel like she just wants to stay here," Heer sighed. "I was hoping it would be today."
"The day is still young," Gayatri grinned. "Let's go downstairs...your husband would be furious if he knew you climb the stairs."
"I wanted to do some last minute things before the baby comes," Heer explained.
"I know. You leave that duffle bag here. We'll get someone else to come and take it down," Gayatri instructed. Heer didn't argue and carefully walked with her mother-in-law out of the room. Gayatri held her arms and guided her cautiously down the stairs. "Phew, I think we are in the clear. He will never know about this."
"Know about what?" The two turned to see Prem standing nearby with his arms crossed.
"Nothing Beta," Gayatri sweetly replied.
Prem's eyes flexed and watched as his mother escorted Heer into the living room. "Where's the baby bag?"
"Oh, its upstairs," Heer replied.
"Upstairs?" Prem repeated. Heer quickly looked down and bit her lower lip. "Why is it upstairs? I left it here in the living room. I was going to pack some things into it."
"I brought it up," Gayatri replied trying to cover for her daughter-in-law.
"I see," Prem stated. He then narrowed his eyes and pointed with his finger at both of them, "You two have been doing things that you shouldn't be doing. I told you I would take care of the bag and pack the things."
"Are you point your finger at me?" Gayatri inquired in mock anger. "I am your mother."
"Ma, I didn't mean it like that. You know Heer is not suppose to be exerting herself. She's suppose to be resting. And she's not suppose to go up the stairs," Prem explained.
"You were pointing your finger at me. You came out of my womb...I've raised you with these two hands...and this is how you repay me? What have I done to lose such respect?" Gayatri asked.
"Ma, that's not what I meant...I...um..."
"Kids these days I tell you...I'm horrified at your behavior," Gayatri stated. Heer tried not to laugh knowing her mother-in-law was just playing around with her son. "I certainly hope you don't raise the baby in this way."
"Don't Ma me..." sighing, "I can see things clearly now. When your Bauji and I get too old you'll put us in a nursing home," Gayatri continued.
"Yes, yes...I can see it clearly as day..." Gayatri dramatically stated.
"Sitting in a nursing home..." Gayatri said sadly shaking her head.
"Ma..." Prem stopped talking and turned towards his wife. "Ma...Prem..." she gasped holding on to her stomach.
"Ma!" Prem exclaimed his eyes widening in panic. Heer started to do her breathing exercises and began waddling towards the front door. "The baby is coming!"
"Prem go upstairs and get the duffle bag. I'll take Heer to the car," Gayatri instructed.
"Okay," Prem replied and started running up the stairs as fast as he could.
"Did I just hear baby is coming?" Preet inquired as he jogged out of the kitchen. He had an apron around his waist and cake flour on the side of his face.
"Preet don't just stand there. Go and start the car," Gayatri commanded.
"Right...right," Preet stated. "We need to call Meher and let them know that we are headed for the hospital. They are probably still shopping at the grocery store."
"I got the bag," Prem huffed as he ran down the stairs. He followed his family out of the house and on to the driveway. They quickly piled into the deep sea blue colored Lexus RX with Preet in the driver's seat. Gayatri was sitting up front while Prem and Heer were sitting in the back. Prem held his wife's hand in great concern and excitement that their baby was finally on its way. Between Lamaze breaths Heer gave a warm look at her husband knowing how he was feeling. This was the moment they had been waiting for a long time. Their child coming into the world.
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