Read the prequel, Khushi's Meltdown first...
Arnav nuzzled her neck causing her heart to suddenly start beating erratically, "I wish you weren't sick so we could make some Lucknowi jalebis together"
Khushi caressed the back of her neck delicately and said,"Who said I was sick..."
Arnav raised his head to look at her, his eyes dancing at this sudden display of boldness from her normally shy wife. He loved it...!
He kept looking at her lovingly, taking in her clear as mirror eyes, her silken, perfectly winged eyebrows, her delicate bone structure...her cute nose...getting red again he noticed amusedly...
He kissed her lightly on her lips. "Let's go eat some real jalebis first...I mean have dinner"..he grinned getting off the bed..
After Arnav got out of the bathroom, looking handsome in a white shirt with a black blazer on top, Khushi stared at him shyly, loving the familiar fragrance of his cologne...
" Khushi there are some clothes for you in those bags" "I had asked Aman...pick something you like...I'm going down to talk to the manager...will be back in a little bit"
Khushi chose a rust colored plain chiffon sari with a simple antique gold lace at the edges...after getting ready, she pulled back the heavy, burgundy colored velvet curtains and stepped out in their private terrace..
It was a warm, starlit night, with the "Purvai wind" beginning to carry a little bit of chill, it being early November. The floor of the terrace was strewn with Frangipani flowers and Khushi inhaled deeply drowning in their heady fragrance..
She looked down at the well maintained, sprawling lawn lit with scores of halogen lamps..
She heard Arnav's footsteps and he came to stand beside her. Khushi looked at him and smiled feeling overwhelmingly aware of his proximity. Arnav pulled her closer by her waist and with his other hand cupped her cheek, "You look beautiful...as usual "
Looking at his mesmerising eyes, Khushi smiled shyly and said," You look nice too"
Pursing his lips, he said in a sombre tone,"Thank you"
Then he laughed and pulled her in a tight hug,
After a while, he said, "Lets go down for dinner...,,"
As they started to go hand in hand, Arnav stopped,"wait, I forgot something.."
He took out her jhumkas from his pocket, "I'll put them on"
Her heart raced at the touch of his fingers on her earlobes and neck..
When they were in the elevator going down, Arnav's phone rang.
"Yes we're fine, Aakash...tell everyone not to worry about us...yes Khushi is fine...did you let her family know...good...one week, that's right..."
Arnav looked at Khushi, while talking to Aakash and said with a mischievous expression, " well it was a sudden decision, I thought while we were here ...why not have our honeymoon too..."
Khushi shook her head at his shamelessness..
"Akash seemed upset" Arnav said hanging up after finishing his conversation
"Why?" Khushi asked as they got out of the elevator..
"Rememeber, he and Payal didn't go to Bali because of us" said Arnav looking amused...
As Khushi looked at him with a worried, guilty expression, Arnav put his arm around her and said," I didn't ask them to wait for us...anyways going with them would have been the worst experience ever ...I know Aakash..he would have invited mamiji, naniji and probably Laxmi too to come along"
As Khushi continued to feel bad, Arnav ruffled her hair and said, "don't worry, after we go back, we'll send them to Bali.."
As Arnav and Khushi entered the restaurant "Deewan e Khas", the manager himself came to greet them looking flustered..and led them to their table...
The restaurant was dimly lit and on each table there was a candle lamp, surrounded by a wreath of pearls and red roses...as they settled in their chairs, "Teri Meri" started playing sofly in the background...
Arnav and Khushi's eyes locked in recognition and as they smiled at each other, Arnav slowly caressed the back of Khushi's hand. In the flickering candle light, Khushi looked breathtakingly beautiful and it was hard for Arnav to take his eyes off of her...
They had finished their wonderful dinner and Khushi looked outside the french windows to admire the blooming 'Palash' trees...
"I love Palash flowers"
"Flame of the forest" "We should definitely get one for our garden then"
As Khushi smiled, Arnav continued, " Actually the color of your sari is the same as those Palash flowers"
While he took a long, leisurely look at her sari, Khushi felt her cheeks getting warm..
"Aman's taste is not bad" he smiled.
When the waiter came to take order for dessert, Arnav chose for Khushi without even looking at the menu...
"Jalebi" he said and just ordered coffee for himself..
Khushi's order came ...two jalebis tastefully decorated with rose petals and silver foil..
"Only two" Khushi laughed.." this will set a new record...least amount of jalebis eaten at a time by KKGSR"
"You want me to order more" Arnav asked
"No" Khushi said taking a bite..."but these are really good...try it"
Arnav took a bite, " Not bad but the ones you make are better"
He continued with his eyes smouldering, " The ones we make together are the best"
Khushi laughed, her cheeks flushing...
Ater dinner, Arnav suggested they go for a walk and after walking for a while, they sat on a bench under a tall 'Flame of the forest tree". The easterly wind blew softly, ruffling the leaves and showering them with a few bright orange blossoms...Khushi shivered...
Arnav put his left arm around Khushi and they looked at each other in the yellow light of the halogen lamps...he caressed her cheek with the back of his hand and then ran a finger lightly over her lips...
"Arnav ji" Khushi said
"Hmm" Arnav said caressing her soft arms with an intent look on his face..
"Lets go inside" said Khushi, looking around her nervously.
Arnav continued caressing her cheeks and when he bent his face while looking at her lips, Khushi pushed him gently..
Arnav laughed and got up pulling her up too...
When the elevator door closed he pulled her to him urgently and gave her a short but passionate kiss on her lips, "you're feeling okay" he asked.
Khushi nodded as the elevator door opened.
They reached their room and as she was about to open the door, Arnav caught her hand and taking out his handkerchief from his pocket tied it around her eyes...
Ignoring her "Arnavji" he ltook her hand and led her inside the room..
Once she was in the middle of the room, he removed it causing Khushi to gasp..
The room was lit with scores of deep red candles and there were rose petals strewn on the carpet.
In the candle light, Khushi cupped Arnav's face tenderly and said," that's why you were in no hurry to come inside"
In reply, Arnav picked her up effortlessly in his arms and laid her down on the big ornately carved, mahogany bed.
He tossed his blazer on the floor and getting on the bed started kissing her passionately on her lips resting his weight on one hand while caressing her with the other hand...
Khushi reciprocated his passion in equal measure for the first time delighting him..It seemed to her that the tears that flowed and mingled together from their eyes earlier that morning had washed down the last veil of reserve, of inhibition between them making them truly one...
Arnav lifted his face and said ," I love you" slightly out of breath before bending down again urgently to nuzzle and kiss the silken softness of her neck. As he moved her pallu out of the way, Khushi's heart was pounding and she felt her breath would stop...
Khushi felt his lips on her belly and held her breath as the easterly wind showered their terrace with more flowers and carried the fragrance of Frangipani inside through the open window..
Khushi woke up and smiled to see Arnav's face next to her, looking very childlike in sleep...He was sleeping holding her hand as usual and when she tried to remove her hand slowly , Arnav woke up with a start, "Running away again"he said sleepily...drawing her closer..
Khushi looked up at him and slowly felt his morning stubble with one hand...Arnav looked at her with a mischievous gleam in his eyes...memories of her new found boldness from last night came to her and she looked away quickly blushing. Arnav flipped her over and looked at her smiling enjoying her discomfort...
They were interrupted by a knock at the door.
" What! It's 11 already?he exclaimed, having arranged for breakfast in their room.
An hour later, Khushi came out of the bathroom, showered and changed to see Arnav staring out of the window with a serious expression...
Khushi went to stand beside him and hugged his arm...
"You know Khushi, I have returned to this room after 17 years"Arnav said still staring outside
As Khushi frowned not understanding, Arnav said, "this used to be my room , when we lived here"
As his words sank in and Khushi just stared at Arnav not knowing what to say, Arnav turned to face her and holding her chin tenderly continued..."You know Khushi, when we decided to spend a week here, I asked Aman to get this room cleaned and ready for us...last year when I came here, I got this room locked...I couldn't bear to see it...I was afraid to face my memories...but this time ...I thought...you and I would make so many new, beautiful memories in this room, in Sheesh mahal...there would be no room left in my heart for the past ones..."
Moved, Khushi hugged him and said," Yes Arnavji, it's always best to face your pain, rather than running away from it...and I need to remember that too"
And so they spent seven wonderful iridescent days , colored by love, passion, empathy and tenderness in equal measure...and the memory of their nights spent together in Sheeshmahal lingered on in their hearts mixed with the fragrance of Frangipani...forever..
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