Arnav turned around, his face was stern, his voice very low, 'we are going to do exactly that, talk to the family.' His tone and narrowed gaze made it clear to Khushi that this wasn't a negotiation. Khushi pulled his hand and stopped. 'Arnav now is not the right time. They are all celebrating our marriage and I don't want to spoil the mood,' she said as she tried to convince him to stop. The last thing that Khushi wanted to do was to annoy her brand new family.
Arnav let out a breath of frustration as he ran his hand through his hair in an attempt to regain control of his temper before saying anything. He took a deep breath. 'Khushi, I don't believe in delaying things. Everyone is here now and you can talk to all of them together. In any case, this news deserves just as much celebration and they will all be proud of you like I am.' Khushi wasn't convinced. 'Ok Arnav, how about we tell them about this tomorrow?' she tried negotiating. His eyes narrowed, 'Khushi, you've come this far after facing so many obstacles - why do you want to become your own roadblock? The longer you delay it the harder it will become, so no, you have to tell them today. Besides, tomorrow we are going to have to deal with the press fallout from the news.' Arnav paused as he realised that he was getting short tempered with her and the last thing he wanted to do was spoil her first day after the wedding. He took a deep breath and continued after he felt like he was in control of his emotions. 'Khushi why are you so afraid? I'm backing you up and you have no reason to be so worried. Whatever the reaction is downstairs, you are going to start your business as planned. I am not going to let all your hard work go down the drain,' he said quietly with an edge of complete finality in his voice.
Khushi swallowed and nodded because she knew that Arnav was right. Everything was happening so quickly that her mind was spinning. There was no choice but to go ahead and just do it. She reluctantly followed Arnav downstairs where the entire family was sitting.
Arnav cleared his throat and everyone stopped talking. Khushi was amazed; clearly the man could instantly command attention regardless of who was in the audience. 'Khushi has something she would like to talk to you all about,' Arnav said without any preamble before turning to her and motioning for her to start talking with a slight raise of his eyebrows.
As every pair of eyes in the room focused on her, Khushi struggled not to run away screaming from the room. Never had she imagined that she would have to talk to about her business project to her in-laws and family on the day after she got married. Then again, she had never imagined any of the things that had happened to her recently she thought dryly. Well there was no backing out now, so Khushi took a deep breath and then with Devi Maiya's name, she began talking.
Speaking in a quiet voice but matter-of-fact voice, Khushi spoke about how she just couldn't bear to see the anguish of losing their family business on babu-ji's face when he fell ill and she made a decision to re-start the business. Completely clueless about how to do these things, she talked about how she approached banks and other financial lending institutions and was rejected time and time again. Terribly disappointed and just as she was beginning to think that she might have to give up, she saw a notice about a mentoring program at the local business association office and decided to apply for it thinking that it couldn't hurt to try.
Khushi then went on to tell them about her first two awkward conversations with her mentor and how he thought that she was wasting his time and didn't hesitate to make that fact clear to her. The family laughed when Khushi described her answer to her mentor's question about her business plan and how naively she said that the plan was to open the shop daily, and then Gollu, Mottu and she would cook everything, sell everything and then they'd all clean up and go home and come back in the morning. As she continued, Arnav smiled to himself as she talked about her conversations with her mentor how she had to juggle multiple challenges to deliver the required business plan and how she surprised her mentor in the end by submitting a really good proposal.
Spellbound, they all listened quietly as Khushi told them how she tried to secure finance again thinking that her perfect business plan which had been polished in conjunction with her mentor would certainly ensure success. Wrong. Arnav noticed mamiji and bua-ji wipe away their tears as Khushi described what being rejected felt like and he had to hold himself back from an indescribable urge to gather her into his arms and protect her from such pain.
Khushi then went on to tell them about how her mentor told her about Amina Rizwi and her organisation, how she applied for and finally as she got to the part of being offered the finance, Anjali, NK, Payal and even the normally super-reserved Akash let out a deafening cheer as they all clapped and high-fived each other as if it was them winning the finance.
At this point Khushi looked to Arnav and they exchanged a tender smile that spoke of their journey so far.
As the noise settled down, Khushi turned back to everyone as she took a deep breath as she spoke, 'I know that this is a very unusual request from a newly wedded bride on her first day in her new home, but having come this far, I really want to start my Jaleebi Junction. It's my dream and I need all your blessings to make it a reality. I know that I have responsibilities here as a daughter-in-law but I can do both,' Khushi promised sincerely as she looked at her family.
There was pin drop silence in the room until Devyaani Raizada stood up and walked to where Khushi stood. While he was proud of her mission and the way Khushi had honestly approached this topic, Shashi Gupta couldn't help but exchange a nervous glance with his wife.
Khushi swallowed anxiously as she tried to moisten her throat as Nani-ji walked towards her and came to a stop directly in front of her. 'Khushi bitiya, some families like the thought of a traditional daughter-in-law who is a housewife and mother.'
On hearing this, Khushi's heart sank.
Deviyaani continued, 'but this is not the case in our home. Khushi bitiya, like Anjali, I regard you as a daughter of this house and as such you will have access to the same rights and privileges that the sons and daughter of this family have. Arnav, Akash, NK and Anjali have all chosen to be professionals in their respective fields and if this is what you want to do then you have our full support and blessing. We are all with you and we will make sure that your Jaleebi Junction will be a reality soon,' Deviyani said with the confidence and authority that only a matriarch can possess.
Khushi couldn't help but launch herself and hug Nani-ji. 'Thank you,' she whispered sincerely.
As Khushi pulled back from Nani-ji, Manorama Mamiji pipped up, 'Khushi Bitiya, so what happened to your teacher mentor?' she asked with great curiosity. Khushi smiled and was just about to open her mouth to answer the question when a familiar deep voice was heard from across the room and they all turned to its source. 'Her mentor was so impressed with Khushi... so he married her.'
There was a collective gasp of surprise from everyone as they turned to the direction of the voice to find Arnav leaning casually against a pillar. Amidst surprised shouts of 'Chote, you?!' and 'Hawww, Nanaav... you naughty boy!', Arnav calmly walked to stand next to Khushi as members of the family enveloped them both to offer their congratulations to Khushi.
No one noticed Payal winking at Akash as she slyly whispered, 'want to play teacher-teacher sometime?' she said as she waggled her eyebrows at him before winking. Needless to say, Akash's gasp of surprise may not have been noticed by the other members of the family, but it was very much heard by Payal Gupta.
A few hours later, as Khushi put the finishing touches to her makeup and adjusted her jewellery, her mind recollected the events of that afternoon. She let out a deep breath as she thought about her family. With the collective help of Arnav, Khushi, Akash, Payal, NK and Anjali, the Guptas had been relocated and were now comfortably settled inside the lovely villa that sat on the Shativan property. Thankfully the press was still unaware of the news and the move had gone as planned. As dusk fell, everyone dispersed into their respective rooms to get ready for the dinner event which was being held in a marquee in the Shantivan gardens.
The sound of the bathroom door opening drew her attention and she looked up into the mirror to see Arnav emerge from the bathroom after his shower. He was wearing a pair of black trousers and no shirt. Her eyes wandered up from the belt of his trousers over the expanse of brown skin stretched over a flat abdomen to rock hard, well defined abs up to where a light sprinkling of dark chest hair covered his pectoral muscles up to his clavicle bones then to his neck where she saw his Adam's apple bob up and down as he swallowed.
As he turned around to get a shirt from his closet, Khushi gasped as she saw the red marks running down his muscular back, marks which she had left behind last night. Khushi quickly averted her gaze as Arnav turned around and slid himself into a crisp white shirt and then followed it with a black jacket. Khushi watched as Arnav dragged one hand through his damp hair as he tried to smooth it into place and she bit her bottom lip as struggled not to jump up and run her hands through the silky black strands as she had done the night before.
Khushi was so busy admiring her husband that she didn't realise that he was watching her watching him until he cleared his throat to distract her. Doing a little bit of looking himself, his eyes wandered over her body admiring the understated yet very elegant beige, maroon and gold sari she wore. Her long hair was left open and floated down her back as jet black silky curtain. Flawless makeup and jewellery completed her ensemble. Damn it she was beautiful! Arnav eventually realised the tables had turned and it was Khushi watching him watch her as his eyes clashed with hers. He could see her beginning to fidget with her sari. Arnav groaned, how was he supposed to resist her when she bit her lower lip like that?
Taking slow measured steps towards her as he knotted his tie, 'you are temptation on legs Khushi Singh Raizada,' he said, as he pulled her to her feet and then stepped back slightly as he stared into her wide khol lined eyes, 'and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to resist you,' he murmured. Khushi folded her arms across her chest, her golden bangles tinkling in the process. 'I could say that same thing about you,' she countered with a slight smile. Arnav couldn't help but give her one of his heart-stopped, jaw dropping, drool worthy half smiles, 'I guess in that case, we'll have to practice self-control together, won't we' he said. Khushi instantly picked up the silent challenge and she didn't disappoint as she stepped closer and pouted, 'do we have to?' she asked in a voice designed to tempt. Arnav groaned, 'yes we do, for now anyway.' Khushi stepped closer as she placed her palms on his chest, 'is that a promise or are you teasing me Arnav?' she asked huskily as she looked up into his chocolate brown eyes. The hunter had clearly become the hunted thought Arnav as he raised one eyebrow, 'which would you like it to be Khushi?' His heart was beginning to accelerate under her hand and Khushi smiled to herself; it was quite empowering to know that she could cause this sort of reaction in her husband. The fact that she was wearing high heels made her task easier as she slid her palms up his chest and linked her hands around the back of his neck, 'I know you never make promises that you can't keep so I'll leave it to you to decide what you want Arnav,' she said with a smile. God damn it, there was real danger of them not making it to the dinner if Khushi kept flirting with him like this. Arnav leaned forward, and Khushi could feel his breath against her lips, 'In that case I'll answer that question after dinner and maybe you'll be dessert Khushi...' he said with a wink before pulling back. As her Khushi's widened, Arnav laughed.
The dinner party was in full swing. Khushi mingled with the guests as Arnav introduced her to his associates and despite her nerves, which only he seemed to notice, she was doing beautifully. Arnav leaned down, 'try and enjoy the party Khushi, you're doing really well and you don't need to be so nervous,' he whispered into her ear. Khushi looked up at him and rolled her eyes slightly, 'easy for you to say Arnav, all this comes naturally to you,' she whispered back just as she heard a voice behind her.
Khushi turned around to find Amina Rizwi and her fiance Imran Ali Rizwi standing there. Amina smiled 'congratulations Khushi and Arnav,' she said as she moved forward to give Khushi a congratulatory hug, 'actually make that double congratulations both for your wedding and for Jaleebi Junction. On a personal note, I was delighted when you told me your news this afternoon but because of the others present during our phone conversation, I wasn't able to congratulate you as openly as I wanted to. You are a very lucky man, Arnav,' Amina said as she turned to congratulate Arnav.
After spending a few minutes chatting with Amina and Imran, Arnav excused them as they needed to continue attending to their guests. He could see that Khushi was visibly relieved to have had the opportunity to speak to Amina who had made it clear that Khushi was getting the funding on her own merit and that her becoming Mrs Arnav Singh Raizada was not going cause any problems in relation to this.
As they walked, Khushi took Arnav's hand in hers, 'you didn't tell me that Amina would be here tonight,' she said as she looked up at him. 'Well she wasn't on the original invite list, but as I thought about it, I decided that this event isn't just about me and as your business associate, Amina should be here just like my business associates,' he said. Just as Khushi was about to thank him for thinking about her, Arnav placed his finger against her lips; he already knew.
He pulled her into a darkened corner of the marquee, his hand roamed up to her face as he leaned down to steal a kiss sinking his hand into her hair as he held her head steady as his head moved towards her slowly. She moaned when his lips finally made contact with hers. It felt like a lifetime since he had kissed her. He didn't wait and almost immediately deepened the kiss, demanding entrance to her. He was not the only impatient one as her lips opened to him, her tongue meeting his with equal speed and hunger. His mouth lavished hers with hard, deep kisses that drew the breath from her body and left her dependent on him alone for survival. His head tilted, his lips slanting over hers as he growled into the kiss and pulled her closer to him, their bodies fusing together. Desperate for breath, she tore her lips from his as she tried to steal some breath, but instantly coming back to him as she whispered his name against his lips in dazed pleasure before wrapping her arms tightly around his waist and sinking her head into the crook of his neck. Aman smiled into Anjali's hair, 'I think we should probably go back before they work out we are missing and send someone up to look for us,' he said as he took her hand and led her back to the party.
As Aman and Anjali discretely re-entered the party separately, from the corner of his eye, Aman watched his best friend return to the party hand in hand with his new bride who smiled at him before taking a seat next to Nani-ji. Clearly Mr and Mrs Raizada couldn't keep their hands off each other either. Aman casually walked to where Arnav was standing and watching, no, staring at his wife. He cleared his throat, 'dusky pink is definitely not your shade ASR,' he said dryly. Arnav turned towards his friend and raised his eyebrow and in response, Aman smiled and pointed to his mouth before walking away. Arnav touched his lips and saw evidence of what Aman was referring to and he smiled to himself.
After the last guest left, the Raizadas and Guptas convened in the Raizada house for a cup of tea before bed. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves, but Khushi in particular was very glad that it was over and that she could relax now. Sitting beside Arnav, Khushi tried desperately hard to stifle yet another yawn; exhaustion was catching up with her. As Deviyaani noticed how Khushi was struggling, she slowly stood up and bid everyone goodnight. Soon everyone followed as slowly the room emptied until it was only the younger members of the family left.
As Payal hugged Khushi and bid her goodnight, NK stood up, 'I'll walk to the villa with you Payal-ji,' he volunteered. Payal smiled, 'that's ok NK-ji,' she said, 'Akash-ji you said you need to get something from your car so you don't mind escorting me do you,' she asked innocently but her eyes twinkling as she knew he had said nothing of the sort. The ball was in his court. Akash pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose as he looked at Payal Gupta. Generally when he gave off a 'stay away from me' vibe, women got the message but with Ms Gupta this seemed to have the opposite effect. There was something about her that he couldn't quite put his finger on and he was intrigued. Akash stood up, and looked Payal squarely in the eye, 'I guess in that case we should go now,' he said. Payal smiled to herself, let's see how Mr Quiet-n-Composed acts when he's all alone with me, she thought as she lifted her eyes and flashed a smile at Akash.
Meanwhile, Aman decided it was time he headed home too. After discussing a few last minute things with Arnav in preparation for the media announcement, Aman stood up and said his goodbyes to Arnav, Khushi and NK. From the corner of his eye, he watched Anjali as she smiled and nodded discretely. It was her signal to him to wait for her; their goodbye would be taking place in private.
Khushi and Arnav walked to their room. It felt strange to call it their room and Khushi didn't even realise that she kept referring to it as Arnav's room during conversation with Anjali-di until she interrupted and said, 'it's your room too Khushi-ji.' Most of her belongings had been brought from the Gupta house but were still packed inside three large suitcases. As Arnav locked the bedroom door, Khushi walked to where the three suitcases were as she groaned out aloud wondering which one contained her nightwear. She heard a gentle thud as Arnav added a fourth suitcase; it was the one from their time in Sri-Nagar. 'I have no idea where anything is,' she said as looked at the luggage. Her dismayed look made Arnav laugh and he walked to his closet and pulled out a large white sweatshirt and walked back to her. 'This might be the easiest option,' he suggested as he handed it to her. Khushi gratefully accepted it with a huge smile. As Khushi sat down to remove her jewellery, Arnav took his nightwear into the en-suite to change and emerged a few minutes later dressed in black sweatpants and a grey short sleeved t-shirt.
Khushi quickly changed and came out to find Arnav already reclining on his side of the bed. She walked to the right side of the bed and slipped under the covers. She took a deep breath as her heart began to race; would they be repeating what they did last night she wondered as she lay down. Arnav leaned over and turned off the lamp on his side of the bed and turned towards Khushi. The light reflected on the pool's surface illuminated the room gently as the patterns glinting off the water's surface were reflected on the ceiling above their bed. Khushi turned on her side to face Arnav as he did the same. One kiss, only one kiss he decided as he placed his arm around her waist and pulled her closer. He could feel her heart beginning to race as his lips gently collided with hers. If Arnav thought it was hard to stop before, then this took it to a whole new level as he let out a low growl against her mouth just as Khushi slid her hand underneath his t-shirt and across his back. He tore his lips away from hers and turned on his back.
Confused, Khushi had no idea of what had just happened as she stared at him in the dark. Had she done something wrong she wondered? Arnav remained quiet for a few minutes until his breathing had returned to normal. He could sense that Khushi was confused with what had happened but he felt like he needed to calm himself down and regain his own control before he spoke to her. 'Arnav...what... I... did I do something wrong?' he heard her whisper hesitantly. Turning to his side in order to face her, Arnav took a deep breath, 'No Khushi, I'm sorry. You didn't do anything wrong,' he whispered in the dark as his hand found hers on the pillow beside her head. He sighed, 'Khushi we can't tonight,' he said. Now Khushi was really confused; they were married now so why did he stop she wondered. Unable to discover a reason, she asked 'why Arnav?' Then it hit her and she sat up, 'it's about last night isn't it,' she whispered, 'you were disappointed because I didn't know what to do... because I hadn't... before,' she said in a sad and dejected voice.
Stunned Arnav sat up and hit the light switch as he pulled her around to face him, his expression intense and full of disbelief, 'don't you dare ever say that again Khushi, and more importantly don't even dare think for one second that I was disappointed. Khushi you gave me your virginity last night and I can't even begin to quantify what last night meant for me. Sacred, special, amazing...none of those words even begin to cover it,' he said as his eyes blazed with strong emotion. 'So why are you stopping?' Khushi asked point blank; hurt and rejection evident in her big brown eyes. Arnav closed his eyes and she saw a muscle twitch in his jaw; he was clearly frustrated. Exhaling, Arnav opened his eyes and looked straight at her as he spoke quietly, 'I stopped because I don't want to see you in pain Khushi. Even though you've been trying to hide it, I could see that you've been so uncomfortable all day today because of last night and I didn't want to make it worse. You need time to heal and I didn't want to keep mentioning it again and again because I can see it makes you uncomfortable.'
Stunned by his revelation, Khushi didn't know what to say to Arnav. She remained quiet as she stared at him for a few seconds before she raised herself on her knees and moved close to him. She cupped his face forcing him to look at her, 'I'm sorry Arnav and I didn't mean to offend you and you are right, I am still pretty sore and making love is probably not a good idea tonight. I guess this is a perfect example of where talking about it would have prevented a misunderstanding,' she said with a wry apologetic smile. 'Lesson learnt for both of us I suppose,' Arnav said, pulling her into his arms and holding her close and they both lay back down on the bed. It wasn't long before sleep claimed them both.
Just in case you missed my note:
Thank you for all your thoughts.
I take on board the feeback you have sent through and I will look into a blog but this is not likely to happen until next year.
I also acknowledge the sentiments of those who suggested ending it now.
However having said that, it looks like the majority vote goes to continuing Masterclass.
I'll be very honest, even though I suggested the idea of ending the story - the idea didn't appeal to me very much because as far as I am concerned, there are still lots of elements to be explored in this story.
So at this point I will continue writing but will not be able to update as frequently as I used to. Given that my last few chapters have been between 4000-6000 words, I think this should give you guys a good dose.
I think I will also stop sending PM messages as this is becoming a huge task. So you will just have to stalk the threads.
Once again, from the bottom of my heart - I really do sincerely thank you for the love, support and encouragement you have showered on me and I hope you will continue on this journey with me.
chapter 65: http://www.india-forums.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=3338059&PID=73229370�